Archive for 'Microsoft'

Windows App Store is still a wretched hive of scum and villainy

041214-win8market

There’s been a tiny flurry of stuff happening with Windows 8 lately and that always leads me back to the ex-Metro, tiled start screen and eventually deep into the Windows Store. I found this gem among the Flappy Bird clones and recipe apps and had to share it based on the name alone.

Real Speed: Need for Asphalt Race – Shift to Underground CSR Addiction 14

It’s like some kind of sentient SEO robot spewed out a game title and it looks about like what you’d expect. It wants to be Gameloft’s Asphalt or EA’s Real Racing but from the sound of the reviews it’s barely controllable and filled with in-app purchases. It also allegedly has no desktop support so I’m not even going to try; the title alone is more than enough for me.

There are Battletoads skins for Kinect Sports Rivals?!

032814-battletoads

Whoa, hey! When did Rare start acknowledging they created Battletoads in public again? It seems like all their work at Nintendo is very hush-hush from a marketing/PR standpoint and rarely gets mentioned by Microsoft anymore. But here we are, getting Battletoads branded outfits for Kinect Sports Rivals pre-orders.

Not being one who pre-orders or frequents GameStop, this e-mail I got this morning is the first I’d heard of it (the outfits are GameStop exclusives). So — ya know — Battletoads remake confirmed, right?

One Crazy thing the Xbox One Media Remote just won’t do

021314-oneremote

Just a quick update today for anyone still interested or on-the-fence over the Xbox One Media Remote. STARTLING DISCOVERY! The remote works fine in every non-game app I’ve used except… for YouTube. Grrrr! The one app that probably gets the most use is the only one I’ve found that’s unsupported. Hopefully it gets an update soon-ish but given Google and Microsoft’s animosity towards one another lately it could be a while.

On the upside, that’s the only major shortcoming of the remote I’ve found after two weeks of use. Netflix, Twitch, TED, the entire dashboard, the store interfaces, Xbox Music/Videos, Crackle, Skype; all work great with the tiny remote. I do wish there were an easier way to snap and unsnap things without dumping back to the dashboard or yelling at Kinect. If it just had room for one. More. Button.

 

The Xbox One Media Remote: Go Buy One

We were out and about this past weekend and stopped in at Best Buy for the first time in what feels like years. Amidst their disheveled Xbox One display was this tiny green box with a little black bar in the middle. As I got closer I realized it was the Media Remote which was due out… some day in March. I had already forgotten about the thing but instantly grabbed one despite its $25 price tag. You can watch the video above to see it in action but if you’re looking for a quick breakdown here’s some pros and cons:

PROS

  • Has that smooth, soft rubber feel all over
  • Totally silent compared to using the clicky controller
  • Motion sensor lights up the keys as you pick it up
  • Dedicated One Guide button to go right to TV grid
  • More responsive IR than older 360 remote
  • Playback control buttons work in apps as well as with discs

CONS

  • $25, really?
  • A little too small in my hand
  • Low profile buttons hard to tell apart at times
  • Wibbly-wobbly design, if that kind of thing bothers you
  • Has to be pointed at Kinect to adjust volume
  • Didn’t work in Xbox Fitness app which seems weird

More than Matchmaking: Xbox’s crazy number of services

021714-xboxservice

Microsoft’s Xbox Live Service Status page is a great fist-stop when you’re having problems with anything relating to network activity on an Xbox console. Before you dig into DNS settings or power cycle dusty equipment stashed behind your TV, start by making sure the service itself is working.

It’s also a good place to remind yourself of how many services, apps and features Microsoft provides access to; my finger got tired scrolling through the gargantuan list! There’s the ubiquitous stuff like Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube but amid the sprawling 110 entries are things like Ameba TV, providing curated kids’ entertainment, a handful of anime streaming services, music video repositories, all the streaming radio apps I forgot about, and of course, the Pizza Hut app.

It’s worth looking through if just to remind yourself of all these online services.

Xbox One Media Remote coming in March?

021314-oneremote

Praise thee the black and green gods of Microsoft marketing for this one! I’ve been trying to love using the SmartGlass app on my phone as a surrogate remote control for the Xbox One but it’s just not right. I need buttons to push on a dedicated, low-power slab of plastic, not a tactile-less touch screen that shuts itself off every two minutes. And forget yelling at the Kinect; every time I unpause I miss the next few lines of dialog as I have to tell the thing to “Stop. Listening.” to get its screen-hogging display to fade out.

That’s why I’m super happy to see this oopsy-daisy slip on Amazon Canada that promises a slender new Xbox One Media Remote coming March 4th at roughly $23 U.S. I have long endorsed wireless remote controls on every console that’s offered them and will promptly pick this one up too whenever it’s released.

**SHING*SHING*SHING*SHING*SHING**

020614-strider

Guys, I really hope this new Strider turns out great. Can I tell you I was this close to buying LocoCycle yesterday now that it’s on sale but Strider’s coming to Xbox One in just a few more weeks. I’m also pretty sure LocoCycle will be a prime candidate to be one of Microsoft’s free “Games with Gold” before too long so I’ll put that $10 right into Shadow Complex 2 Strider instead.

FAQ reveals Xbox One Indie Games progress?

121713-xoneindie

We got an Xbox One over the weekend thanks to Maxx and so I’ve been spending my morning digging into the Xbox.com FAQs for all the console’s peculiar functionality. I got up the section about snapping the Activity Feed when I spotted the screenshot above. Weird, those games between Forza and Kinect Sports Rivals sure do look like Xbox Indie Games. We know that retail Xboxes can be used for development and that Microsoft has a “vision for enabling everyone with an Xbox One to be a creator” but this makes it look much farther along.

I googled Marble Maze: Best Ever Edition and happened upon the YouTube channel of sinih8r who has posted clips of Marble Maze, a game called Beat Drop and another called Reflex Demo. All of these are a familiar thirty seconds long, the same length as the more recent Ryse: Son of Rome Game DVR clips on their channel. Along with a quick glimpse of a Gold-only multiplayer menu, the Marble Maze clip points to the Xbox Gamertag HalcyonTribble whose profile sports the Kinect Launch Team badge.

Put it all together and… well, it could just be a series of internal test software that loads faster than full-sized retail games. Or it could point to the fantastic possibility of Baby Maker Extreme on Xbox One! I really do hope it’s a sign that Microsoft is much closer to an Indie Games-sized effort on the new Xbox than they’ve let on about. Also, I really wanna play that Beat Drop game, it looks pretty rad.

Xbox One SmartGlass app reveals gameplay clips, in-game currency, more

112013-smartglass2 112013-smartglass1

If you’re still on the fence about buying an Xbox One you may want to grab the new SmartGlass app for Android and iOS to get a more honest look at the console. Released ahead of Friday’s big console launch, the app lets you poke around with the launch lineup and some of the console’s features.

You can watch user-uploaded clips from some of the games (the “S-Rank (1st Level)” from Crimson Dragon is particularly revealing), check out the sleazy in-game currency that most of the titles offer, and see some of the time-based Challenge Achievements that will kick off on Friday. This is the stuff I’ve been endlessly refreshing Xbox.com in hopes of finding. The app is also much more feature rich than the previous SmartGlass app for 360 and runs much smoother.

Grand Theft Auto Online tips now in video form

Whether you hate reading, love tinny nerdy sounding voices or insist on digesting the internet solely through the lens of YouTube, you can now get all my hot pro tips for Grand Theft Auto Online in video form. If you prefer the written word, though, that’s still available here.