This week on The Shift, Shane Hewitt and I talked about the new DLC for Pokemon Scarlet and VIolet, Charles Martinet’s new job, the Crew Motorfest driving game, RazerCon 2023, and France’s concerns about the iPhone 12.
Technological World for September 20, games: Pokemon expansion the Teal Mask, Charles Martinet's future, the Crew Motorfest opens up the throttle, RazerCon runs tomorrow
Part one of the Pokemon Scarlet and Violet expansion is here, Charles Martinet has a new job, the Crew Motorfest invades Oahu, RazerCon celebrates gamer culture.
Finding the Hidden Treasure of Area Zero in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet
If you raced through Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet, released last fall, you’ve got a reason to go back to it, because a new expansion, the Hidden Treasure of Area Zero, will bring more than 200 additional Pokemon to the games.
The first part of the expansion, the Teal Mask, was released last week, and delivers half of those pocket monsters. This takes you to a new region, Kitakami, on an exchange trip, and the new region is expansive.
The story is set during a small-town festival and as you explore, you’ll uncover the real story behind the village’s culture.
Part two of the Hidden Treasure of Area Zero, the Indigo Disk, has been scheduled to release before the end of the year.
Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet are available now for the Nintendo Switch.
What’s really happening to Charles Martinet, who has been the voice of Mario and friends for decades
He’s taking on the role of Mario ambassador, of course.
Here’s a special video message from Shigeru Miyamoto and Charles Martinet regarding the change of Mario’s voice actor, announced on 8/21. pic.twitter.com/4mOpD2Cx3a— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) September 7, 2023
The Crew Motorfest an opportunity to drive free, any way you want
With Ubisoft’s first game in what would become the Crew driving game franchise, we were given an open, scaled down version of the United States, and given a story to play while we explored the map. The idea was to provide a reason to drive any type of car in a range of environments.
We’re now on the third game in the franchise and the narrative has been fully jettisoned in favour of a sandbox where you can just drive free.
Set on a version of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, The Crew: Motorfest has grouped the driving into three buckets. There’s the free driving experience where you come across time trials and objectives that you can opt into, there’s a bunch of competitive events that put you into races against other players, and there are playlists, which are a series of activities tied to a theme.
One of the early playlists available is “911 Legacy: A Porsche Story”. In this, you get behind the wheel of a particular vehicle to compete in a race, during which you get a bit of history of the Porsche brand.
Complete the playlist activities and you unlock challenges that will test your virtual driving abilities.
In addition to the wide open world to explore, you can build your own garage of vehicles, including things like buggies and motorcycles, muscle cars, off-road vehicles, and high-performance racing cars.
How you play, and what you drive, is entirely up to you.
The Crew: Motorfest is available now for PS4, PS5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Rated teen.
RazerCon airs tomorrow and promises product announcements and giveaways
Razer is a gaming devices company that seems niche because of its unique customer base, but because of the quality and scope of its product line is anything but boutique.
After a keynote from co-founder and chief executive, Min-Liang Tan, Razer will be announcing new products and showing how its line of Razer Chroma RGB lighting products can be used to customize a gaming system.
Everything kicks off at 10 a.m. PT.
Technological World for September 20, consumer tech: France vs the iPhone 12, Amazon announces new devices, Meta Connect is coming
France has told Apple to stop selling the iPhone 12, Amazon’s got new Fire, Ring, Blink, and Echo devices, and how you can watch Meta Connect next week.
France expresses concern about radiation levels coming from iPhone 12
On the heels of Apple announcing handsets in its iPhone 15 line, France halted sales of the 2020 model iPhone 12 with claims the device emits radiation levels that exceed allowable standards.
Apple claims the device meets the required standards set by regulatory agencies.
Even if the French agency’s test was accurate – and it was different from the one used by Apple – the levels of radiation are far below what might be considered harmful.
More on this topic from:
Amazon announces a plethora of new devices
Today was Amazon’s turn to roll out new lines of devices. The company, which started out selling books online, has transformed into being that and a modern purveyor of consumer electronics. They had lots to show off today.
- Fire TV: Second generation Fire TV Sticks with 4K, media players which plug into your television and give you access to streaming services and other apps, were revealed. The 4K is $70 and the 4K Max, which doubles the storage and has a better processor, is $80. They both support Dolby Vision and HDR.
- Fire TV Soundbar is a new addition to the Fire lineup, and can be used as a speaker with your Bluetooth connected devices.
- Echo Hub is also new, and is designed to be a panel you use to access all your smarthome devices. It’s priced at $240 and supports Alexa voice control.
- Ring Stick Up Cam Pro: This indoor/outdoor camera has motion-detection activation and three power options, battery, plug-in, and solar.
- Blink Outdoor 4: This camera is supported by accessories like a floodlight camera and a battery pack, which extends the battery life on the unit from two to four years.
- eero Max 7: This next-gen version of the Wi-Fi router and mesh system isn’t yet available, but will work with Wi-Fi 7 and can deliver 10 Gigabit Ethernet. It’ll cost $800 for a single eero, $1,600 for a two pack, and $2,300 for a three-pack.
Amazon also detailed a new feature coming to some of its Alexa-enabled devices: real-time captioning and translation. This will work on Echo Show devices and when using the Alexa mobile app.
Watch Zuckerberg’s keynote for Meta Connect next week
The annual developer’s convention for Meta, the company that operates Facebook, Instagram, and VR in the form of Quest headsets, among other things, takes place next week.
And while there’s no way you got an invite to attend Meta Connect, you can watch the event from the comfort of your own home, office, or virtual world.
This year’s Meta Connect is, “focused on AI and virtual, mixed and augmented realities.”
The two-day conference will include sessions on how to develop for Meta platforms, and will also include information about new consumer products, like Meta Quest 3.
Technological World for September 13, games: Assassin's Creed Mirage preview, Sprawl and Chants of Sennaar show what indies can do
Early hands-on impressions of the next Assassin’s Creed game and reviews of Sprawl and Chants of Sennaar.
I played Assassin’s Creed Mirage
A couple of weeks ago, Ubisoft Canada gave me a chance to play the next Assassin’s Creed game, Mirage.
This new title in the popular franchise goes back to the roots of the game in more ways than one. It’s set in what we now refer to as the Middle East, for one. And it’s a return to some of the gameplay that was core to the first game released in 2007.
The story takes us to 9th-century Baghdad, which predates that first game, and puts us in the shoes of Basim. This is an origin story for the character, who was introduced in Valhalla, the latest Assassin’s Creed game from 2020.
Developers at Ubisoft Bordeaux, which led development on this game, have said that their aim was to get back to the parkour, stealth, and assassination that was core of the first games. In the time I spent with the game I felt that they’ve accomplished that. While you can still enter combat, and sometimes you must, Mirage wants you to be sneaky in what you do.
One thing I liked in how the missions progressed is the sense of mystery. You’re really conducting investigations here, and the more pieces of the puzzle you collect, the more sure you are about what’s really going on.
While it may be honouring its roots, though Mirage makes good use of the modern console’s ability to render crowds and environments. The “Round City” of Baghdad is filled with humanity from across the globe. That’s something the first Assassin’s Creed just couldn’t do.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage launches on October 5 for PS4, PS5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
Sprawl serves up a slice of industrial FPS frenzy
Fueled by an industrial soundtrack and providing a frenetic shooter experience, Sprawl gets you all amped up for the fight.
Developed by Maeth, a studio made up of Hanna Crawford and Carlos Lizarraga, this was published by Rogue Games. With a cyberpunk narrative and a dystopian environment, Sprawl’s style is reminiscent of Doom and Quake.
And as with those games, while you think success is about the guns, it’s really all about the movement. In Sprawl you’ll be wall-running in short order, moving quickly through space to get angles on enemies, and exploring what you can do. Like using the inertia from the firing of a weapon to send yourself higher into the air.
It’s straight forward and simple and wants you to turn up the volume.
Sprawl is available now for Windows. Rated mature.
Chants of Sennaar explores meaning and understanding
Inspired by the Tower of Babel, Chants of Sennaar is a clever game that requires only your wits, your logic skills, and your patience.
Published by Focus Entertainment, this was developed by French studio Rundisc, who throw you right into the game, presenting you with symbols on signs. You quickly realize that to proceed you need to figure out what the symbols mean. “Open” or “on” or “active”? You can deduce meaning with the early symbols as you figure out how to open doors, traverse obstacles, and make your way up the tower.
As you go higher, you’ll come across other people, with distinct cultures and languages, and you’re going to have to figure out what their symbols mean, too. You need to decipher the glyphs to comprehend the various languages. Along the way, you’ll need to sneak past the guards who want to prevent you from proceeding, and who seem intent on preventing the various groups within the tower from understanding each other.
Chants of Sennaar is available now for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Windows, and Xbox One.