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Hardware

Super Nintendo Chalmers photo
Super Nintendo Chalmers

Super Nintendo Chalmers is the best thing I've seen all month


Better than Steamed Hams
Dec 21
// Chris Carter
Custom consoles are one of my favorite things in the gaming world, and this one is no exception. User rori3 shared his creation with an ominous post on reddit, noting that he had "Just finished [his] White Elephant Gift....
Why? photo
Why?

Coleco announces new cartridge-based console


Put it next to your Ouya in the trash
Dec 18
// Jed Whitaker
Are you old enough to remember the ColecoVision console from the '80s? Do you yearn for the days of old when games came on cartridges and everything had a nice physical manual? Do you often buy into new consoles announced wit...
AMD photo
AMD

AMD was so angry at Geralt's hair, it made an open-source graphics API for developers


A direct challenge to Nvidia's GameWorks
Dec 16
// Joe Parlock
Nvidia’s GameWorks is a widely used toolkit that allows developers to add fancy visual effects and cool physics simulations to their game without costing them too much development time. The toolkit has some awesome effe...
Why? photo
Why?

'3DS is here to stay,' says Nintendo


Sold more than PS4 and Xbox One combined
Dec 11
// Jed Whitaker
Nintendo's Scott Moffitt, the executive vice president of sales and marketing, said in an interview with The Washington Post that "Nintendo 3DS is here to stay. Let me throw out a number that might surprise you. So far, on a ...
Valve photo
Valve

Let's watch robots build Steam Controllers


They're our new overlords
Dec 10
// Jordan Devore
Ever wonder how controllers are made? Valve has put out a fascinating behind-the-scenes video showing the hard-working Aperture robots (yes, really!) that assemble Steam Controllers. It lacks the minutia of something like Ho...
Xbox PC adapter photo
Xbox PC adapter

Windows 7 now supports the Xbox One wireless controller adapter


Support added for Windows 8.1, too
Dec 10
// Jordan Devore
The Xbox One controller is terrific enough that I've considered dropping $25 on one of those wireless adapters for PC so I can use it beyond just Xbox gaming. But I haven't. Not yet! I'm still on Windows 7, despite Microsoft'...
Review: Gamevice photo
Review: Gamevice

Review: Gamevice for the iPhone


Like the Vita's controls for your iPhone
Dec 09
// Jed Whitaker
Mobile gaming is becoming closer and closer to console gaming, and with the line thinning the only thing missing is phones coming with dedicated controllers. That is where the Gamevice comes in, to try to fill that hole by turning your iPhone 6 into a fully-fledged gaming console. While it does the job well, it certainly isn't without some minor flaws.
Nintendo NX photo
Nintendo NX

Nintendo's president isn't sure what 'NX' means


Or where the name came from
Dec 03
// Jordan Devore
The next system from Nintendo, codename NX, may release next year and include both a console and a separate handheld unit. The company hasn't said much about it yet, so it's almost all vague promises and speculation based on...
Alienware photo
Alienware

One month later, the Alienware Steam Machine is still a nice accompaniment to the PC


But again, not a replacement
Dec 02
// Chris Carter
Back in October, I had the chance to test out the new Alienware Steam Machine's mid-range model (i3 Dual Core, 8GB DDR3, 1TB HDD), and was fairly pleased with the results. As the hardware manufacturer even noted before launch...
CronusMAX Plus photo
CronusMAX Plus

The CronusMAX Plus V3 allows interchangeable PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U controllers


I put it to the test
Nov 26
// Chris Carter
For weeks now, readers have been asking about the CronusMAX Plus. With its grand claims of using "almost any controller on any console," a lot of people wanted to know if it worked, especially given the pricey $50 price tag for what essentially amounted to a fancy dongle. After some initial issues, it ended up taking me by surprise at how well it worked.
Amazon photo
Amazon

Here are Amazon's Black Friday game deals


Looking for a bargain?
Nov 26
// Vikki Blake
Amazon has detailed what games will be discounted during its upcoming Black Friday promotion. While prices have yet to be disclosed, what we do have is a list of the games that will be on offer over the course of today, tomor...
PS Vita photo
PS Vita

That's a damn fine PlayStation Vita


Japan, though!
Nov 12
// Jordan Devore
I like this PlayStation Vita design even more than that metal slime PlayStation 4. They share a similar theme, but it's the little touches that matter -- the custom d-pad art, the liquid metal slime accessory for the headphone jack, the slick box the system comes in. All great.
Xbox One update photo
Xbox One update

The new Xbox One dashboard rolls out tonight


Backward compatibility to follow
Nov 11
// Jordan Devore
November is flying by me. It's nearly time for the new Xbox One dashboard update, and you know what that means: backward compatibility! The initial list of supported Xbox 360 games falls short of my expectations, but it'll im...
Deals photo
Deals

Steam Machines are out, so there's a game sale


The Steam Link sounds intriguing
Nov 10
// Jordan Devore
Today is a big hardware day for Valve. The Steam Controller ($49.99), Steam Link ($49.99), and Steam Machines (starting at $449.99) have officially launched in North America and Europe. Impressions of those devices have been ...
PlayStation 4 photo
PlayStation 4

Check out this awesome Darth Vader PS4 controller


May the PS4 be with you
Nov 10
// Vikki Blake
The Darth Vader-themed PlayStation 4 DualShock controller will be available in Europe from November 18, 2015, and November 19 in the UK. Sony confirmed the news on the official EU and UK PlayStation twitter accounts.
Black Friday photo
Black Friday

Look for a $250 Wii U bundle with Smash and Splatoon on Black Friday


Available at Meijer
Nov 07
// Jordan Devore
While Nintendo has slowed its Wii U release schedule to a drip feed, there are still upcoming games that look promising (Xenoblade Chronicles X and Star Fox Zero among them), and more importantly, there are a bunch of fantas...
Rare console prototype photo
Rare console prototype

That Nintendo PlayStation works!


At least partially
Nov 06
// Jordan Devore
Real or fake, I was fascinated by that so-called Nintendo PlayStation. The system, a sort of Super Nintendo with a CD drive, was produced through a partnership with Sony but never saw a commercial release. The machines are ex...
Xbox One photo
Xbox One

GameStop holds trade-in deal for $100 Xbox One


Works with free Xbox controller promo
Nov 04
// Vikki Blake
If you're hankering for a new Xbox One: GameStop has an offer that just might tempt you. If you bring in a qualifying PlayStation 4 or Xbox One before November 15, 2015, the retailer will give you $250 towards the cost of a n...
Xbox One bundles photo
Xbox One bundles

Xbox One bundles are throwing in an extra free game


In the US
Nov 03
// Jordan Devore
If you're going for an Xbox One this holiday season, you'll probably want to try your luck on Black Friday, but if you can't wait until then, there are some notable deals this week. Depending on when and where you buy, you ca...
Xbox One photo
Xbox One

Here's when Xbox will reveal the initial list of 360 games coming to Xbox One


Phil Spencer confirms reveal date
Nov 03
// Vikki Blake
Microsoft will confirm the first 100 Xbox 360 games available via backwards compatibility on November 9, 2015. Phil Spencer confirmed the news via a tweet yesterday.
Xbox One controller photo
Plug and play on Windows 10
Finally -- Microsoft is releasing the wireless Xbox One adapter for PCs. After years of waiting I can eschew all of the wires that have been sitting in my desk drawer, or more specifically, four micro-USB cables to hook up fo...

PS4 remote photo
PS4 remote

Sony's PS4 media remote is a gigantic monolith of a device


It has issues though
Oct 30
// Chris Carter
I try not use too many remotes in my household. It's already bad enough having so many different controllers lying around, and having to juggle multiple devices beyond that gets pretty annoying. It's why I try to control most...
Alienware Steam Machine photo
Alienware Steam Machine

Review: Alienware Steam Machine


SteamOS has a ways to go
Oct 29
// Chris Carter
PC gaming is in the midst of a cultural shift. No, not necessarily the "Steam Machine" revolution, which Valve is trying to heavily push, but a movement away from the tether of a dedicated platform into the living room. In a ...

Review: Steam Controller

Oct 23 // Chris Carter
As I've stated in the past, the build is a bit flimsy, and over time you really start to feel how awkward the design is. When I opened up the battery cover for the first time and tried to close it, I felt like I was breaking the controller. The paddles have been conspicuously built into the cover itself, which has a lot to do with it, but it doesn't necessarily feel like a $50 device, all told. On the flipside, there's an aura of familiarity to the Steam Controller. It has your classic face button setup, with the same exact colors and letters as the Xbox pad -- a PC staple that you're probably already used to. The main difference lies in the left and right paddles on the back, in addition to the two triggers and two bumpers, as well as the two pads that sit above the lone analog stick. Even after a week of testing, I still find the choice to include two pads a bit odd. Again, the left side is absolute garbage if used as a traditional d-pad. Playing platformers is a chore, and I had to constantly rely on the analog stick for movement -- and in some cases when the game didn't support it, map WASD or the d-pad to it. It's just not built for precision if you're not using it like a mouse. For those games that do utilize both pads however, like shooters, it's actually quite intuitive. It takes some getting used to, but if you fine-tune your sensitivity settings both in-game and on Steam, it manages to transcend a traditional controller, and come closer to something like a mouse and keyboard setup. It's at this point of clarity that I felt like I was at a crossroads. I mean, it works well with a lot of games -- I found it to be more than adequate for Valkyria Chronicles for instance -- but it's just so limited that I often found myself swapping out an Xbox One controller due to frustration. In that sense, it doesn't really succeed in being a one-stop shop for PC, which isn't ideal. There are a few genres where you'll find a degree of success with it (racing as well as shooters), but it never really measures up to its competition. The best part of the device however is the heavy amount of customization power it holds. If you actually dig down into Steam's settings, you can switch up nearly every aspect of the unit. Every button is swappable, down to the paddles on the back, and even the two pads can be swapped to emulate a mouse or analog sticks. Everything right now has to be done manually though. While there are plenty of options for developer-based "recommended" settings and community suggestions, there are very few people out there who actually have a Steam Controller in their hands. As such, I had to look up some configurations and manually input them, which took upwards of 15 minutes for each individual game. Heck, I didn't even discover the gyrometer function until a few days in. [embed]316931:60831:0[/embed] And really, that's the target audience for the Steam Controller -- hardcore PC fans who like to tinker almost more than they actually play (hell, you need to do a lot of legwork if you want to use your device with non-Steam games, like for example, The Witcher III if you bought it at GOG). Over the years I've kind of taken the middle road, as I like the accessibility of consoles, and the open nature of the PC platform, and the Steam Controller kind of straddles both philosophies in that way. It's a gateway for console fans to enjoy PC games more, but it's still not as reliable as an Xbox controller. It's also very easy to set up. If you pop in the included Bluetooth dongle, you're basically good to go after pushing the giant Valve button in the middle of the controller. If you're going the wired route, your PC should instantly recognize it. While there are optional drivers you can install on the unit itself (similar to Xbox One), it's a plug-and-play affair with zero stress, and two AA batteries. Maybe somewhere down the line, the Steam Controller will have hundreds of instant configurations loaded into the OS, and the next iteration of the device itself may be fine-tuned based on the feedback from the first generation. But for now, I'd only pick it up if your curiosity has been piqued, and you game on your PC nonstop. [This impressions piece is based on a retail build of the unit purchased by the writer.]
Steam Controller photo
Wait for the next version
PC gaming has come a long way since I first witnessed it in the '80s. There were hundreds of peripherals, from first- to third-party controllers, joysticks, proprietary flight sim devices, to full-on vibrating vests for games...

New 3DS photo
New 3DS

I have a new favorite 3DS cover plate


Cute pixel art
Oct 22
// Jordan Devore
If I owned a New 3DS, I'd be all over this Super Mario Maker cover plate. Lotta Splatoon and Animal Crossing love packed in, which makes me wonder what the process was for selecting characters. They made room for Tingle and t...

Review: Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller

Oct 22 // Chris Carter
$150? What is this, the controller for the original Steel Battalion? Well, not quite, as the Elite will work with every game on the Xbox One (and on PC), but it's still one hell of an expensive proposition.  For the most part though, I can easily recommend it to those of you who game on your Xbox One or PC more than any other platform. For starters, it feels like a quality piece of hardware just putting it in your hands. The make is sturdy, the rubber grips are comfortable, and the entire build all the way down to each individual pad and button is higher in quality than any other competitor on the market. Everything feels like it was built for the long haul, but then again, my original Xbox One controllers have been rock solid for nearly two years now without any issues; meanwhile, two of my DualShock 4s have had their analog stick rubber completely deteriorate, and another one of my Glacier White models is starting to show wear. So what makes the Elite so special? Well, you have the interchangeable parts (six sticks, two d-pads, and four paddles), hair triggers, multiple profiles, and completely customizable buttons and sensitivity settings. The latter feature is actually coming to every controller "soon," but the rest are exclusive to the Elite. It also comes with a nifty carrying case, which is crafted to perfectly fit each piece without having anything roll around. Just be sure you keep it in a safe place. [embed]316388:60809:0[/embed] The amazing thing about said swappable parts is how easily they switch out. They were snug enough to never come off during my 50+ hours of testing, but if you grip them and pull ever so slightly upwards, they'll come right off -- they're magnetized. You don't need any tools. I wasn't a fan of the other four analog sticks (they're too high up for my tastes), but the two d-pads are both excellent, as are the paddles (more on that later). That "discus" d-pad? It works way better than you'd think. I tested it on nearly 30 games, and although I didn't notice the benefits immediately from a lot of titles, it worked perfectly with all of them. For shooters like Destiny, being able to switch between the hair trigger mechanic at will depending on my gun was a great feature. In Killer Instinct, I noticed a stark surge in performance, mostly based off of the enhanced d-pad. Likewise, the d-pad comes in handy for retro games like Mega Man Legacy Collection and Shovel Knight. Where it really shines however is shooters. I had the chance to play tons of Halo 5: Guardians with the Elite controller, and the paddles are a game-changer. Initially mapped to the face buttons, they allow you to instantly jump, reload, melee, or switch weapons without having to take your fingers off the thumbsticks. I quickly got used to them after about 30 minutes of play, and going back to shooters without them feels jarring. This principle of added control also applies to racing games, and I could really feel the difference when using the paddles to shift gears for manual cars. While I would normally spring for a wheel, the Elite does make these titles feel better if you're going for a standard controller setup. The only hangup I had with the paddles is that if you don't rest your Elite on a flat surface, the paddles will constantly trigger, causing your game to unpause. The Xbox Accessories App that hit the marketplace this week allows players to fine-tune multiple setups, which is useful if multiple members of a household are using the same Elite. Here you'll be able to switch up all of your settings and save any number of profiles -- two of which can be mapped and synced to the controller itself, accessed by way of a toggle in the center. So for instance, I created a more sensitive aiming profile for Destiny's gunplay, and a custom style for when I'm using the melee sword weapon. The app also works for the PC, but it isn't getting a Windows 10-centric version until October 27. If you primarily game on the Xbox One or PC and experience a lot of different genres, I'd recommend picking up an Elite controller. Heck, even if you just play lots of shooters on the Xbox platform, you'll notice a difference in quality in the first day of play. For those of you who split your time between multiple systems though, $150 is probably going to be too rich for what you get. [This review is based on a retail build of the unit provided by the publisher.]
Xbox One Elite photo
You have a pricey decision to make
At this point in time, I've had a full week to experiment with the Xbox One Elite controller, and I'm still at a crossroads. On one hand, it's likely the best controller of this generation, and one of the best of all time. On the other, it's $150.

Black Friday photo
Black Friday

The best Black Friday Xbox One deal so far


$299 bundle with Fallout 4 and more
Oct 20
// Jordan Devore
A 500GB Xbox One + Fallout 4 + Gears of War: Ultimate Edition + a second controller for $299.99. If this upcoming deal from Dell is any indication, it's going to be a productive Black Friday. The online-exclusive deal begins ...

I'm not entirely sold on the Steam Controller yet

Oct 16 // Chris Carter
I've only tested it out for a full day, but right now I'm not sure if I'll be using the Steam Controller full-time for my PC needs. For one, it feels a bit cheap for a $50 device, and I felt like I was going to snap the battery cover in half after opening it first thing. That's partially because the back of the controller houses two paddles, which are mapped to left and right clicks by default. And that's actually the best part of the Steam Controller. For the first time, it really feels like a PC-centric control method. Buttons are literally mapped to PC keys (start is enter for instance), and the right pad (which features haptic feedback) is a fully-featured mouse. When navigating through the various UIs of my PC and Steam, I had no issues whatsoever. This is also a godsend for splash screens, which do not work with a traditional gamepad like an Xbox controller and require the user to manually go back to their PC and start the game. But games are the largest aspect that I encountered troubles with, which is clearly an issue. Right now, Steam Controller support is in its infancy, and it's definitely not as easy as plugging and playing, that's for sure. Valve has enabled a new section in its client to account for the "best controller configurations," but since the thing isn't hitting its wide release until November, the options are scant. Instead, a handful of games require individual tinkering before they work -- the plus side is that the entire configuration is customizable, if you feel like doing it. Once everything was set up, my results have been mixed. For FPS games, after some tinkering, I have gotten used to aiming with the track pad. This is mostly due to the fact that you can modify the sensitivity and dead zone of the pad itself to suit your needs. It's not as ideal as a keyboard and mouse (so far, at least), but it's definitely better than a traditional gamepad and works great on the couch. [embed]315891:60757:0[/embed] As for strategy games, I would not recommend playing RTS or heavily twitch-based titles. For lower-key city-building games though it works quite well with the more relaxed pace. This goes double for point-and-click adventure games -- I was happy with the results. And this really is the high point of the Steam Controller. If you do enough tinkering, it works with just about everything. Well, mostly everything, until its design holds it back. I also tried out a number of different platformers, both new and old school, and the d-pad is horrendous. It's stiff, and arguably worse than the Xbox 360's d-pad, partially because it wouldn't register my inputs at times. I could not, for the life of me, get used to playing Sayonara UmiharaKawase on it (yes it's on Steam!), for instance. A fair number of platformers also don't support the sole left analog stick by default, so you're going to have to enable that manually. Because of the d-pad design, I would personally rule fighters right out. I need some more time to test it out for a full report (new control methods often take time to learn), but I'm not sure if the Steam Controller is a complete success. While I'm considering buying another Steam Link for another room in my house, I think I'm set for now with one controller. [This impressions piece is based on a retail build of the unit purchased by the writer.]
Steam Controller photo
First impressions
Right now, I'm happy with my $50 Steam Link streaming box. It works exactly as it should, and the quality is impeccable. It helps that the thing is first-party after all and is designed to work with Steam. The controller, on the other hand, is taking a little while to acclimate to.

Nintendo NX photo
Nintendo NX

Nintendo reportedly shipping NX dev kits


It's likely a console/mobile hybrid
Oct 16
// Jordan Devore
Nintendo has started sending software development kits for its next video game platform, NX, according to The Wall Street Journal. Sources tell the outlet that the system will "likely include both a console and at least one m...

Hands-on with Valve's fantastic Steam Link streaming box

Oct 16 // Chris Carter
The unit itself is small and light, which means that it won't be an eyesore in any location you decide to place it in. There's two USB slots on the back, one on the side (just like the Xbox One), an Ethernet slot, and an HDMI out. It comes with a power cable, three power converters for worldwide regions, and an HDMI cable. The Steam Link was incredibly easy to set up, and took me about five minutes from opening the box to access my account. Basically all you do is power it up, hook up an HDMI cable, and either use a keyboard and mouse or Steam Controller to access the UI. From there you'll either run off of your wired connection or enter your Wi-Fi password, download a few updates, and that's it. Of course this isn't a proper Steam Machine, so you'll need to be running Steam off of your core PC to stream it to the box (you can also add multiple PCs if you wish). The system uses a modified version of the Big Picture UI, which works quite well. Recent, installed, and favorite games are located on the side, along with your total game catalog, videos, music, and current downloads. You can also easily search your library or activate a product directly from the Link. Users can also readily view which games are installed (indicated by a green checkmark), so you don't have to individually check everything. Just like Big Picture proper, if you want to install something, you can do so from the Link. Also, the web and chat functionality is greatly improved thanks to the Steam Controller's added input methods if you don't have a keyboard handy. The only issue I've had so far is that the Link will sometimes have problems with the resolution, bumping it up to a ridiculously high level after my host PC pushes an update. To fix it, I just have to move the mouse a bit on my host. For now it's not that big of a deal since I have it in the living room right next to the Link, but I'm eventually planning on moving it into the basement, so I'll have to tinker a bit to see what's causing this (I would suspect my multi-monitor setup might have something to do with it). Other than that, it's been painless, and the stream quality is superb. Through a 50 Mbps connection I'm not getting any input lag. As a note, you'll want to opt into the Steam client beta (system settings panel, big picture UI) to gain access to all of the updates prior to the official November launch. Also, there is already a firmware update for the Steam Controller itself as of today -- you'll have to connect it directly to the host PC to get it, as the Steam Link cannot actually push firmware. You can, however, remotely turn off Steam Link, which reverts your host PC back to the standard Steam UI, and automatically shuts down your Link and Steam Controller. I'll be touching on the Steam Controller once I'd had more time with it, but I like how it interfaces directly with your OS. In other words, start is mapped to enter, and the right pad functions as a mouse. As for the pad itself, I'm really not digging the d-pad, especially for platformers, but I like that it's a multi-purpose unit that doesn't just cater to one genre. Valve also offers configuration options through Steam for titles that don't normally support controllers, though they obviously can't alter the hard-coded keyboard-specific tutorials. If you'd rather go the old-school route, Xbox controllers work as well (wired is best, but the current 360 wireless dongle works too). So far my Steam in-home experience has been rather smooth, which is good news since it's still technically in beta. I still need to put the Steam Controller through the paces, but I can recommend the $50 Link at this point. [This impressions piece is based on a retail build of the unit purchased by the writer.]
Steam Link photo
I'm surprised how painless it is
Although the Steam Controller and Steam Link aren't going to be available in wide release form until November 10, anyone who pre-ordered directly through Valve (myself included) is set to get them today. I immediately unpacked my shipment this morning and put them through the paces, and I'm pleasantly surprised with how the Link turned out.


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