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Archive for July, 2010

For classic video game nostalgia fans, Halo debuts on the Atari 2600

July 31st, 2010 No comments

Everybody knows Halo as the blockbuster video game franchise that debuted on the original Xbox in 2001. It has gone on to sell more than 30 million copies. But now Halo is coming to — of all platforms — the Atari 2600. It debuted this weekend at the Classic Game Expo in Las Vegas.

The game is called Halo 2600. Yes, that’s the pioneering video game console that debuted in 1977 and kicked off the home video game revolution. There’s actually a thriving hobbyist industry of classic video game fans who travel around to shows and play nothing but the old games from the beginning of the industry.

The new Halo game was created by Ed Fries, the former head of Microsoft Game Studios who left the company back in 2004. He has since consulted with a number of video game companies and is chief executive of Figure Prints, which makes World of Warcraft figurines based on characters created by fans.

Fries told me he took on the project as something he wanted to do for fun. Fries got his start in video games by creating a Frogger clone game (under the name Eddy Fries) for the Atari 800 may years ago. He went on to join Microsoft, worked on Excel, and rose through the ranks in the Office group. Then he became head of Microsoft Game Studios and built the division. By the time he left in 2004, his teams had created 18 games that sold more than 1 million units. One of those games was Halo.

This game is a “re-imagining” of what Halo would have looked like if it were released on the Atari 2600. You play Master Chief, the hero of the series, and battle your way through 64 screens. You locate weapons and find power-ups to help you beat increasingly tough enemies.

Fries got the idea to work on an Atari game after he spoke at a video game conference in Philadelphia. Someone suggested he read “Racing the Beam,” about programming the Atari 2600. Fries hadn’t written anything in 6502 assembly code in 30 years. But he picked it up quickly and created a Master Chief character, and then an Elite alien for the Spartan warrior to shoot at. The characters were crude because the machine only had 128 bytes of RAM.

It was something of an art to make a game with so little resources. Fries decided to work on a full game but forced himself to do it within 4,000 bytes of memory for all of the screens and objects. He tried to make a level with a Warthog, a vehicle from Halo, but it wasn’t fun and it took more than 1,000 bytes so he trashed it. He tweaked the game a lot and had a number of game industry friends playtest it. He added a “legendary” mode for players to replay the game after they beat the final boss, only in a much tougher setting.

The code is available at AtariAge’s web site and the game’s Facebook page is here. It is available for free in an emulator, which reproduces the screen of the Atari 2600 on a modern computer. The label was created by Mike Mika. A limited number of cartridges are being given out at the Classic Gaming Expo. With more than 30 million Halo fans worldwide, and many of them classic game fans, it will be interesting to see how much this retro game gets played.


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Weekly Webcomic Wrapup is finally havin’ a Summah

July 31st, 2010 No comments
It seems that, at least for the moment, the temperature has cooled to something below its "melt everything" setting and we can finally -- finally! -- have ourselves a Summah! What's that? You're scared to have a Summah? Don't be crazy! Let the yucks linked below warm you up before getting out of that recycled air and to the boardwalk. Afraid you'll get splinters? Grab a pair of sandals! Have a Summah! Worried you'll get side-splints from the hilarious comics? Oh, well, we've got nothing for you there.

Don't forget to vote for your favorite in the poll after the jump -- and remember, have a Summah!

Frogger (xkcd)
What is Love? (Virtual Shackles)
Everyone's Nicknamed Stubs (Of Noobs and Men)
Kirby's Pet (Brawl in the Family)
Inertia (Digital Unrest)
Untitled (Another Videogame Webcomic)
Ignorance (Awkward Zombie)

Continue reading Weekly Webcomic Wrapup is finally havin' a Summah

JoystiqWeekly Webcomic Wrapup is finally havin' a Summah originally appeared on Joystiq on Sat, 31 Jul 2010 23:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Japan’s latest Club Nintendo prize is absorbent

July 31st, 2010 No comments
When you see the stuff Japan's Club Nintendo offers its members, you may be prone to drool a bit. Ironically, Nintendo of Japan's loyalty program has something for that now as well.

For 150 points, Club Nintendo is offering the choice of one of these three 25cm x 25cm "towel handkerchiefs." They're part towel and part handkerchief, but at the same time neither, because none of us would dare dry or clean anything with one of these. Since they're currently only available in Japan, of course, we don't even have the opportunity to decline to mop up a spilled soda with one of these cute collectibles.

JoystiqJapan's latest Club Nintendo prize is absorbent originally appeared on Joystiq on Sat, 31 Jul 2010 21:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Red 5 studios is finally announcing their game

July 31st, 2010 No comments

Red 5 studios is finally announcing their game screenshot

Finally, finally, finally. Red 5 Studios is finally ready to tell us what the hell it has been working on since it was founded five years ago. Big Download noticed that the company would be at PAX Prime this year (as we will be) and they reached out and asked why. Turns out it's because Red 5 will actually be announcing whatever it is it has been working on right before PAX this September.

Not only that, but a PR rep for the company also revealed that the game will be a "team-based action shooter." Guess the ex-Blizzard employees that comprise Red 5 are going in a different direction than their former employer's World of Warcraft. I won't complain about that. Of course the team-based action shooter is all the rage these days so we'll have to see what Red 5 thinks it can bring to the table.

Time to hold our breath until September and keep an eye on their site where they've taken a picture of a countdown.

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Live demos show how the Nintendo DS and the Wii can be hacked to spread malware (videos)

July 31st, 2010 No comments

Two hackers showed how they can hack Nintendo’s handheld and console game devices to spread malware to whatever networks they are connected to.

At the Defcon security conference in Las Vegas, Ki-Chan Ahn (below) and Dong-Joo Ha (right) showed off a number of demos of how they could crack the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii and use them to upload malware. They said users don’t expect malware to be loaded on game console devices, so they could be taken advantage of more easily. (See our roundup of all Black Hat and Defcon stories.)

The researchers said they could spread malware in a number of ways. They could, for instance, inject a virus into a pirate version of a Nintendo game and upload it to torrent networks, where users download pirated games. They showed how they could play a game in a compromised Wii system.

They also found that many companies install Nintendo Wii devices in their work places, even though they don’t let you walk into the company with smartphones or laptops. (Factories and other sensitive work locations don’t allow any devices with cameras). By poisoning the Wii, they could spread a virus over the corporate network. People have a false sense of security about the safety of these game devices, but they can log into computer networks like most other computer devices now.

In the demos, the researchers showed they could take compromised code and inject it into the main game file that runs on either a DS or a game console. They could take over the network and pretty much spread malware across it and thereby compromise an entire corporation. The researchers said they can do this with just about any embedded device, from iPhones to internet TVs. All that is needed is an embedded computer, networking, and input-output systems. A few of the demos failed because wireless networks weren’t functional.

Ahn is a student at Hanyang University in South Korea, majoring in electronics. Ha is a researcher at AhnLab, a security firm. Check out the video excerpts below:

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Halo: Reach achievements revealed, Forge showcased

July 31st, 2010 No comments
Bungie's previously teased achievements for Halo: Reach's have finally been revealed through its latest update. 49 achievements can be earned across the campaign, multiplayer and firefight. We've dropped them after the break.

If that weren't enough, there's a whole mess of new Bungie-created Forge maps on display. The update says they won't necessarily make it into multiplayer matchmaking, but if they pass "the same rigors our expertly crafted multiplayer spaces demandm" we could be sticky-grenading people's faces on those maps when the game ships this September. Ha-cha!

[Thanks, Measlesopolis]

Continue reading Halo: Reach achievements revealed, Forge showcased

JoystiqHalo: Reach achievements revealed, Forge showcased originally appeared on Joystiq on Sat, 31 Jul 2010 19:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Canadian rock group Rush and Darkstar's darkest days

July 31st, 2010 No comments
Canadian rock group Rush and Darkstar's darkest days

When I first heard about Darkstar, I was told it would be an old-school live-action videogame with the core cast of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, Peter Graves, and a soundtrack by Rush. I thought it sounded too good to be true. It turns out it was too good to be true. The last part of the interview with Darkstar creator J. Allen Williams (here is part one and here is part two) was conducted shortly before the situation came to a less-than-happy ending.

After the jump, find out why Darkstar quite won't be the game it was supposed to be.


Swag Saturday: Halo 3: ODST

July 31st, 2010 No comments
Everyone and their mothers might be plugging away at StarCraft 2 all weekend, but we've got another grip of space marines for you to catch up with: the ODSTs. In the run up to Halo: Reach's launch, we thought giving out last year's chapter in the Halo franchise couldn't hurt. Don't forget it's got the entire Halo 3 multiplayer experience packed in -- oooh, and beta access to Reach! Oh, right. Anyway, let us know in the comments below what's got you most excited about the final Halo game from Bungie and you could win yourself a copy!

To enter this giveaway:
  • Leave a comment telling us what's got you most excited for Halo: Reach.
  • You must be 18 years or older and a resident of the US or Canada (excluding Quebec).
  • Limit 1 entry per person.
  • This entry period ends at 5:31PM ET on Sunday, August 1.
  • At that time, we will randomly select one winner to receive a copy of Halo 3: ODST for the Xbox 360 (ARV $29.99).
  • For a list of complete rules, click here.

What is Joyswag? Since we don't keep the games and merchandise we receive for review or promotional purposes, it becomes "Joyswag," which is passed along to our readers. Please note that Joyswag may be in "used" condition.

For more info on our policy, click here.

JoystiqSwag Saturday: Halo 3: ODST originally appeared on Joystiq on Sat, 31 Jul 2010 17:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Angry Birds flies on over to the DS, PSP and PS3

July 31st, 2010 No comments

Angry Birds flies on over to the DS, PSP and PS3 screenshot

I must admit I have not had the pleasure of playing Angry Birds, but if GoNintendo's description of the game is correct and it is indeed "like Boom Blox but with birds and pigs" it is something I will be downloading onto my iPod Touch immediately, or perhaps I should wait until the newly announced DS, PSP and PS3 versions land. Decisions, decisions.

Details are scarce on the handheld/console version of the game, so it isn't clear if it will be updated with new features or whether it will simply be the same game. We don't even know if it will be retail on any of the systems. All we know is that the game's creator, Joe Wee, said, "We are also releasing it on Nintendo DS, Sony PSP and PS3,"

With so little information my impatience has won out. I am off to download it now, and regret it later.

Angry Birds are all the rage [The Sun, via GoNintendo]

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Week in review: An Android app that takes your data, a new Russian angel fund

July 31st, 2010 No comments

Here’s our roundup of the week’s tech business news. First, the most popular stories published in the last seven days:

Android wallpaper app that takes your data was downloaded by millions — A questionable Android wallpaper app that collects your personal data and sends it to a mysterious site in China has been downloaded millions of times, according to data unearthed by mobile security firm Lookout. The firm described its findings at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, which is where this week’s flood of security-related posts came from.

Researcher shows how to hack ATMs with “Dillinger” tool — Using tools dubbed Dillinger and Scrooge, a security researcher showed how to hack an automated teller machine in front of a crowd of hackers and security professionals.

Why the Facebook-Amazon integration is bigger than you think — Facebook and Amazon.com partnered Tuesday in what could be one of the social network’s most important integrations yet.

Augen brings its $150 Gentouch78 Android tablet to Kmart — Little-known device manufacturer Augen unveiled its 7-inch Gentouch78 Android tablet in the unlikeliest of places last weekend: Kmart’s Sunday flyer.

12 years after original game, Blizzard’s Starcraft II goes on sale –Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty went on sale this week, some 12 years after the original game debuted. The game is likely to be one of the biggest sellers of the year and the first shot in the arm for the PC gaming market (aside from Facebook, of course) in a long time.

And here are five more articles we think are important, thought-provoking, or fun:

In Russia, startups need angels, not bodyguards — and now they may get them — Several proven Russian entrepreneurs have formed what looks to be the first promising seed-stage venture capital firm in Russia, called Runa Capital.

PeerIndex, Klout aim to find the Web’s real authorities — On the Internet, nobody knows you’re an expert. PeerIndex hopes to change that.

Apple unveils new, consumer-friendly battery charger — Apple has launched its own plug-in charger for AA batteries, extending its wireless device and energy efficiency strategies.

Y Combinator’s Paul Graham: Say goodbye to traditional venture rounds — Speaking at the AngelConf angel investing event, Y Combinator cofounder Paul Graham argued that the traditionally structured venture round is becoming irrelevant.

Just kidding: Google says China hasn’t walled off search — On Thursday, a Google status page which publicly tracks access to its services in China reported that there was full blockage, or that search was unavailable between 67 and 100 percent of the time. But now Google says access to its search properties is normal and hasn’t been blocked.

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