Tony Hawk’s Bug Skater 5

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 came out this week, it’s buggy as hell and not worth $60. Daniel Perez:

In a statement sent to Shacknews, Activision says it’s “aware of the issues that players have experienced following the launch of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 and are working with the developer to address these so that we can continue to improve the gameplay experience for all of the Tony Hawk fans who have known and loved this franchise for more than 16 years.”

Huh. If only there were some way that Activision could have been aware of the issues before the game shipped, like some kind of methodology to play a game before it comes out and find defects in the software… No, that couldn’t have happened. It’s too ridiculous an idea. Must just be a total surprise.

When is it the Wrong Time to Be an Android User

Dan Goodin writing for Ars about newly published vulnerabilities:

There’s a new round of Stagefright vulnerabilities that allows attackers to execute malicious code on more than one billion phones running ancient as well as much more recent versions of Google’s Android operating system.

Stagefright 2.0, as it’s being dubbed by researchers from security firm Zimperium, is a set of two bugs that are triggered when processing specially designed MP3 audio or MP4 video files. The first flaw, which is found in the libutils library and is indexed as CVE-2015-6602, resides in every Android version since 1.0, which was released in 2008. The vulnerability can be exploited even on newer devices with beefed up defenses by exploiting a second vulnerability in libstagefright, a code library Android uses to process media files. Google still hasn’t issued a CVE index number for this second bug.

When combined, the flaws allow attackers to used booby-trapped audio or video files to execute malicious code on phones running Android 5.0 or later. Devices running 5.0 or earlier can be similarly exploited when they use the vulnerable function inside libutils, a condition that depends on what third-party apps are installed and what functionality came preloaded on the phone.

It is always the wrong time to be an Android user.

The Beginner’s Guide

The developer behind The Stanley Parable has released a new game for Mac, Linux, and Windows. It’s called The Beginner’s Guide. It wouldn’t be right to do a video of this, at about an hour and a half long the video could spoil the whole thing. Wreden describes it like this:

It lasts about an hour and a half and has no traditional mechanics, no goals or objectives. Instead, it tells the story of a person struggling to deal with something they do not understand.

Paste Games’ Cameron Kunzelman has a positive review:

In his 1960 New York Times review of Psycho, Bosley Crowther leans into talking about Alfred Hitchcock rather than the film. He writes in the comparative, calling Hitchcock an “old hand” who has made an “obviously low-budget job,” but it’s crucial for me to point out that those things aren’t necessarily negative for Crowther (although the review isn’t a positive one). Instead, his entire review is about attempting to navigate the relationship between Psycho the film with Hitchcock the man. Ultimately, Crowther finds the film lacking in something and suggests that the problem might be that Hitchcock’s “explanations are a bit of leg-pulling by a man who has been known to resort to such tactics in his former films.” Time has been kind to Psycho, but for Crowther, it couldn’t escape the known-quantity orbit of its creator.

When Davey Wreden opens The Beginner’s Guide with his voice, name and email address, you get the feeling that there’s something Hitchcockian going on here. Hitchcock made himself a part of his cinematic worlds both as a framer and as a cameo actor, and through that he was able to infuse those films with a weird energy.

Still No Word on “Trapped in an Amazon Warehouse Simulator”

There’s this kind of weird genre of games being called Suchandsuch Simulator. A category immortalized into flesh and code by Surgeon Simulator, the game that asked you, person that doesn’t know how to surgeon, to simulate being one with intentionally poor controls. Or there’s Goat Simulator which asked you, person that doesn’t know how to goat, to goat. They’re comedy games. You get the idea.

Owlchemy Labs, ye of Jack Lumber and Smuggle/Snuggle Truck fame,  appears to be playing on this naming scheme and the gameplay style of Surgeon Simulator with Job Simulator, here’s their description:

The year is 2050.

Robots cook, clean, service, and rule organize the world with precision and speed. Human occupations are now memories of the past; long gone are the blue collar jobs that ran the old world. Humans raised in our perfect automated society must not forget their useless ancient ancestors and history.

This is why JobBot was born. JobBot created Job Simulator to teach humans what it is ‘to job’. All praise to JobBot, for he is the keeper of human history.

Yes, perfect. Yes, I would like to job. Unfortunately I don’t have a VR headset yet, and it also requires motion control on either the Oculus Touch (Oculus’ motion controller dinguses) or  the HTC Vive (Valve’s first Steam VR dingus) in order to achieve the unprecedented level of realism depicted in the trailers. Of which there are two more:


For most people reading this, I would suppose that you are already kind of familiar with the de-centralized bullshit currency, Bitcoin. Either you’ve tried it out and made a little bit of money mining it and then were quickly outpaced by minining farms, or you at least know a little bit about it. That is my guess, anyway. My first real introduction to it was when somebody gave me a few tiny pieces of Bitcoin that I promptly spent on a Humble Bundle once they started taking it in exchange for game bundles. If I had held onto that, it would have been worth significantly more virtual space bucks.

For most people, that is not their introduction to Bitcoin. It’s irrelevant to every day life, I haven’t really touched it since that one trial run buying some games and people just don’t need to know about it. But, for some folks, their first introduction was the day their computer files were locked off from them by the ransomware known as CryptoLocker. Radiolab’s latest episode (Overcast link) has an interview with someone who had no idea what Bitcoin or CryptoLocker was, and how she had to deal with this ransomware. Surprisingly, the people holding the ransom even have customer service.

Last-Gen (PS3, 360) COD:BLOPS 3 Dropping SP and CO-OP Campaign

The Call of Duty blog has details on the Black Ops 3 letdown, but it amounts to Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 players getting a download code for Black Ops 1 and a price drop to $50 as a pittance for the deficit as the game is now multiplayer and zombies-only on those platforms. The multiplayer will also be lacking various features like the weapon paintshop and others compared to the Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Windows versions. The Linux version will continue to lack all features and not exist.

A Lesson in How to Ship From Oculus

Wes Fenlon quoting Oculus’ Nate Mitchell:

Mitchell explained why Oculus isn’t currently taking pre-orders for the Rift by saying “there isn’t a big reason to take your money too far ahead of the device.” He continued: “What I think about all day long is user experience, right? So if I’m going to promise you something and you’re going to hand me a significant amount of money or whatever it is—we all know it’s going to be at least $300—if you’re going to hand me $300 today, I am not going to be excited to tell you: ‘OK, in nine, 10, 12, 11 months, whatever it is, you’re going to get something in return.’ The longer you wait, the more you’re like, ‘This is obnoxious.’ ”

Mitchell likened Oculus’ plans for pre-orders to how Apple launches products by saying “they announce it, one week later you can pre-order it, the next week it ships. That is like the ideal user experience.”

Assault Android Cactus Review & Time Doctor Live

Android Assault Cactus Main Menu

Assault Android Cactus is one of those few indie games for Windows, Mac, and Linux, with an unforgettable name that makes you curious about what it is every time you hear it. Eventually you might break it down into pieces to try to figure it out.

Assault, so, action game?

Androids are a kind of lifelike robot, yeah?

Cactus. One of these is not like the others.

So, we have androids in an action game and it turns out they’re in the desert with cacti?

Two out of three correct guesses aren’t bad. I didn’t understand the name either until I played Assault Android Cactus and found out that the first android you play as is named Cactus. She is a Junior Constable assault android in the Interplanetary Police who is investigating a civilian freighter called the Genki Star that went silent due to a mutiny lead by the four Section Lord bosses in command of the robot crew.

Cactus shows up just in time to help the rest of the cute cartoony androids out of their predicament, mainly because Cactus hates filing the paperwork for a failed mission. Together, the androids have to fight their way through waves of adorable killer robots in a combat style not too dissimilar from older twin stick shooters and defeat each area’s Section Lord boss.

Hold on there, space cop

Each android has a different set of weapons. Cactus has an assault rifle and flamethrower. Holly (the accountant!) has homing bullets and a cannonball that blitzes through her foes. Aubergine excels at crowd control with her spinning helicopter attack and singularity black hole that sucks enemies in to a part of the screen hopefully far away from where she is.

AAC has some flexibility in where those weapon sets can be applied, but when I was dying on a Section Lord boss fight with one, I found that trying another android with might work better. One boss might be more appropriate for ranged attacks, get too close and you’re fried. Other bosses might be more applicable for short-range guns from Coral’s shotgun. There are many more androids to choose from, each with their own gameplay style lending from their weapon selection and you can get up to four together on-screen at once for local co-operative play.

Any way you play it, Assault Android Cactus is extremely punishing if you can’t keep up with the hectic pace. The game fluctuates between traditional twin stick shooter gameplay to full-on bullet hell style shooting where your goal is to dodge and hope to keep the enemies in your peripheral vision so that you can target them. Very quickly you learn that there is a lot going on while you’re fighting through the game’s zones and stages that require you to learn to prioritize your focus. In addition to avoiding enemy bullets you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for tiny bits of energy that power up your weapons, increasing the damage they do, and other power ups that might stop enemy attacks for a time, speed up your android, or add a set of tiny robots (options) that shoot alongside your android.

There is one other power-up, the most important one. The androids all have batteries just like mobile phones. Also just like your mobile, the battery on these androids is constantly being drained and you must top off with battery power-ups to keep the fight going. Taking damage any other way just causes your android to fall down, they can always get back up unless their battery is fully depleted. Fortunately the game recognizes that this is the most important aspect of the pickup system and your android will call out the recharge when they see it.

I found it incredibly difficult to keep track of which items on the very colorful screen were helpful versus those bullets, rockets, and missiles that were intended only to hurt Cactus and the rest of her android buddies. There is a little bit of magnetic pull on some bonuses that cause them to move towards your android, but I’m not sure what causes that to happen and the range is poor. Oftentimes I’d find that these helpful items would have expired before I reach them or I’d find myself dying just as I would have gotten a life-saving battery fill up. It’s a strategic issue that others might not have a problem with, but it was often what stopped any forward momentum I had during particularly tense moments of bullet hellaciousness.

Adding to the visual overload are stages that constantly change while you play. Walls go up, come down, and background pieces move to overhaul the level, one changes from a small elevator in-motion into a larger arena with different hallways when it reaches its destination. Another feels a bit like Bastion as pieces pick up and move as you get closer and drop off into space as they get further away. These changes aren’t just for looks. You’re going to have to adapt to meet new challenges when the level shrinks or expands or just starts throwing different enemies at you.

There is a problem in that sometimes it doesn’t feel like there is a strategy in Assault Android Cactus that will get you through a level, sometimes it just feels like more persistence is the only way through.

Despite all of the challenge, it is very rewarding when you defeat a section lord and unlock a new way to play through a new android. When I do get a little frustrated with a stage or a section lord I find myself switching to another android to see if their weapons lend themselves to that fight. Or wondering if I could get a higher score on the leaderboards of levels I’ve already completed with a different android’s weapon load out.

In addition to the campaign, AAC also has four-player local-only co-op through the entire game. Co-op can also be played with AI companions after unlocking one of the special EX options that you buy with points earned through playing the game. Those points also unlock concept art and other interesting features like a first-person camera option. There are a few extras like Infinity Drive, it’s a wave-based mode that drops the levels in favor of a  more classic arcade game experience like Robotron 2084 where you’re only focused on score and surviving as long as you can. A Daily Drive offers a similar mode that changes every day with a separate leaderboard that you only get to compete in once per day. Boss Rush is your typical run through all of the Section Lords.

That’s Assault Android Cactus, deceptively bright, colorful, and personable to draw you in for the punishment. Very few twin stick shooters put even the tiniest effort into a story or any personality into their characters. Assault Android Cactus doesn’t just stand out through difficult and rewarding gameplay, it has endearingly cute androids backing everything up. After around 7 hours to complete the campaign I’m excited to see my leaderboard scores get destroyed by others.

Cleared with a score of a B

4 out of 5 Cactodroids for the delightfully challenging Assault Android CactusCheck out the demo and then get it. It’ll come to Playstation 4, the Vita, and Wii-U early next year and it’s just been released today for Windows, Mac, and Linux.