Headlines For 6th – 12th July

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is to give every 11-12 year old child in the UK starting Year Seven this upcoming academic year a free micro-computer as part of its ‘Make It Digital’ initiative to improve knowledge on coding from a young age.

The Micro Bit (a knowing nod to the BBC Micro of the 80s) is roughly the size of a credit card (4cm x 5cm) and features 25 programmable red LED’s, two buttons which can be utilized as a controller or to pause and skip songs in a playlist, a built in accelerometer, compass and magnet and Bluetooth compatibility. It is intended that once kids become familiar with the technology that they would then upgrade to a more complex system like the Raspberry Pi. Plans are already in place for a not-for-profit organization to be established to create commercial units from 2016 onwards.

The news of the distribution of the Micro Bit is a generous move on the BBC’s behalf, especially in a week where it was revealed that they will be shouldering the 750 million cost of TV licenses for over-75s in the near future. It is also the first we have really heard about the ‘Make It Digital’ campaign since the BBC announced they were to make a drama focusing on the makers of Grand Theft Auto; which was quickly countered by legal action from Rockstar Games.

The hacker accused of bringing down Xbox Live and PSN on Christmas Day 2015 has escaped a prison term, despite being convicted of 50,700 cases of varied computer misdemeanors.

17 year old Julius Kivimaki of the hacking group Lizard Squad was given a two year suspended sentence by a Finnish court. The news did not go down well with the President of Daybreak Studios, John Smedley, who has in the past been a target of cyber attacks and recently made some strong comments about cheaters on H1Z1. After a fresh outburst on Twitter where he threatened to sue Kivimaki in a civil court, Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for a series of DDoS attacks that brought down both H1Z1 and Planetside 2 on Friday.

The man who will join Lionel Messi on the front cover of UK copies of FIFA 16 is…Jordan Henderson. Oh.

Not only is he a crap footballer, but Henderson looks really photoshopped on the cover
Not only is he a crap footballer, but Henderson looks really photoshopped on the cover

The new Liverpool captain and England international midfielder topped a fan poll to be selected ahead of three much better players; Sergio Aguero of Manchester City, Thibaut Courtois of Chelsea and Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur. Despite the headline inclusion of female international teams, EA has declined to put a female star on the box – which seems like a missed opportunity to me considering the high exposure given to the sport by the recent World Cup.

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who has recently played The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt who would complain about the game being stingy on content; in addition to a massive base adventure, several free pieces of DLC have been rolled out weekly as well. Now, according to the game director at CD Projekt Red Konrad Tomaszkiewicz, the two planned story expansions for the game will feature roughly another 30 hours of new content:

“Those expansions will be big,” he said. “If you summarise these two expansions, probably the length of the two expansions will be like the length of The Witcher 2. Those are really big, with different locations, different characters, different stories, different items, cut-scenes, everything.”

Those who can’t wait for the expansions will be pleased to know that the upcoming patch 1.07 will add several ‘quality of life’ tweaks to the game, including a much needed storage bank for items and an extensive raft of fixes for bugs and exploits.

I’d be lying if I claimed that I’ve kept up to date with much related to Call Of Duty, despite the franchise’s megastatus in the cultural sphere. However, the bonus Zombies mode that has featured in Treyarch’s iterations of the game since World At War usually makes me chuckle (with Nixon, JFK, Castro & McNamara facing the undead hordes in Black Ops being a amusing highlight), and it seems that sense of dumb fun is set to enjoy a successful resurrection in Black Ops III if a trailer released this week is anything to go by.

The 1940s noir vibe certainly carries a passing resemblance to Bioshock (complete with genetic bending candy powerups replacing plasmids & vigours), and the inclusion of Jeff Goldblum is always a smart move. Black Ops III comes out on November 6th, with a multiplayer beta starting on August 19th for PS4 only initially.

The trend of watching people play games on YouTube is very much a past-time for the post millennial crowd that has certainly passed me by, and the undisputed king of the realm is the ‘love him or absolutely loathe him’ PewDiePie, who commands a channel with over 38 million subscribers. This week it was revealed by the Swedish newspaper Expressen that Mr Pie (real name Felix Kjellberg) raked in nearly $7 million last year – news which surprised an awful lot of people.

Kjellberg responded to the news in a newly posted video, where he talked about his reaction to the financial reveal and took some time out to read some of the drivel posted in the comments section of his channel. For a man who seems to spend a long time screaming all day, he finished off with some quite dignified thoughts: “I don’t think there’s any good reason why anyone should care. And on top of that I guess there’s no good reason why I should care either. So we’re just going to end it there.”

Mojang have announced that a beta form of the Windows 10 version of Minecraft will be free for all existing players when the new OS launches on July 29th. The latest version will feature multiplayer tied in with the Pocket and Xbox Live versions of the game, as well as support for dual-wielding items – for those who have not previously downloaded the game, expect it to cost around 10 quid.

Headlines For 29th June – 5th July

Pictures have materialized online of what appear to be one of the rarest artifacts of the gaming world – a Sony PlayStation branded SNES.

The 'What If' scenario had Sony and Nintendo seen this deal through would have drastically altered modern day gaming
The ‘What If’ scenario had Sony and Nintendo seen this deal through would have drastically altered modern day gaming (pictures from Nintendo Life)

The history of such an object is well known in gaming folklore; in the early 90s Nintendo had enlisted the help of Sony to create a version of its console that would play CD’s (in response to Sega’s work on the Mega CD add-on), before the Big N opted out of the deal and partnered up with Phillips instead. Angered by the betrayal, Sony continued to work on a CD-ROM based console which they labeled the PlayStation and…well the rest as they say is history.

A few prototype units were made however, and the chap who posted the pictures claims to have found the unit in a box of old items from a friend of his father who worked at Nintendo. While it would be easy to pass it off as a fake, the yellowing of the plastic on the front of the console is a telltale sign of an aged product trapped away for many years. Expect to see it inevitably go up for auction soon enough.

After the initial fever burst which earned it the Guinness World Record of the fastest video game to raise $1million on Kickstarter (and second only to the Pebble Smartwatch as the quickest project to raise $1million the site has ever seen), the crowd-funding initiative for Shenmue 3 has slowed down somewhat. Although at the time of writing it has raised $4,681,917, it is still someway short of the quoted $10 million that creator Yu Suzuki has proposed he needs to make a fully open world title.

As a wizard’s wheeze to generate a bit more cash, it has been revealed that the English voice actor of Ryo Hazaki in the first two Shenmue games, Corey Marshall, will be reprising his role. Send in a donation of $1,000, and he’ll send you a personal voice message.

The HD port of the popular Gamecube RPG Tales Of Symphonia is set to make its way to PC some time next year. Although it will not include the sequel, Dawn Of The New World, that featured in a combined pack in 2014, it will otherwise be the same as the HD port that was also released lat year for the PS3. Those who pre-order the PC version of Tales Of Zestiria on Steam will get Symphonia HD for free.

Finally, in related release news the highly rated indie title Shovel Knight will be getting a retail release in October for 3DS, PC, PS4, Xbox One & Wii U, after shifting more than 700,000 digital sales.

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