Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, lab grown gamer brains, Twitch Con troubles and Microsoft deal drama.
Lab Grown Brains Play Pong
In a perfect illustration of scientists doing things because they could without stopping to think whether they should, we have lab grown brains playing Pong now. (link)
While research into lab grown brain cells has been going on since at least 2013, this is the first time these cells have been connected to an external environment. That external environment was classic Atari video game Pong, originally released in 1972. Using electrodes, scientists found that the brain cells were able to react to the game in the same way a person would.
The scientists are very quick to point that this isn’t a conscious brain and it’s not playing the game as if it’s a person, and I don’t know, all of this is setting off alarm bells to me. Don’t come crying to me when the brain vows revenge on its cruel masters for creating it.
The UK Really Doesn’t Like the Microsoft-Activision Deal
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has formally outlined their concerns regarding Microsoft’s attempted acquisition of Activision Blizzard. (link)
Among these concerns are a fear that Microsoft has significant market advantages that competitors such as Sony, Amazon and Nvidia do not have, such as the ownership of a major cloud network and an entire PC operating system. They also expressed concerns that Activision’s games may become exclusive to Microsoft’s platforms, and with the size of Call of Duty’s market, that could hurt other platforms’ ability to compete.
These are arguments I personally agree with and are why I don’t like any platform buying up big publishers. I also feel iffy about Sony’s purchase of Bungie, although it seems they’re getting very little out of that deal. Developers and exclusive projects are fair game, but publishers feel like an attempt to consolidate the gaming market into just a series of walled gardens.
Microsoft, of course, disagree with CMA’s concerns, and cite Sony’s leading position in the UK market as proof they are unlikely to be hit by this. We’ll have to wait until March to see if the CMA agree with this response.
Sony have also reissued demands that if the deal is approved, Call of Duty cannot have exclusive content for Xbox, which is a bit rich coming from Sony who currently have content locked to their platform (another practice I disagree with). Might need a stronger argument on that one, guys.
Twitch Con Attendees Injured in Foam Pit Incident
Twitch Con happened over the weekend, attracting a huge amount of negative attention due to the Lenovo stand resulting in injuries. (link)
Lenovo hosted a Face Off event where attendees could duel each other with padded poles on small podiums, similar to what you’d see on classic 90s show Gladiators. However, the foam pit provided for safety was little more than a tiny collection of foam cubes scattered in an inflatable paddling pool, barely offering padding from the hard convention floor.
Streamer LochVaness dislocated her ankle while stepping off the podium, and other attendees reported back pain and difficulty walking after falling into the pit. However, streamer Adriana Chechik got the worst of it, as her pit fall led to her breaking her back in two places, requiring corrective surgery.
It’s difficult to watch some of the clips of the event knowing this, especially as commentators were acting incredibly blasé about people getting obviously injured. Lenovo also kept the pit open for an entire day, failing to recognise any danger after the initial injuries occurred.
The company has stated they are looking into the incident.
A surprisingly long list of releases this week. Let’s start with a bunch of Early Access releases on PC. Coral Island is a cute little life sim about owning a farm and befriending your local townsfolk. Eville (also on Xbox) is Among Us but in a medieval village. Stranded: Alien Dawn is a management about trying to start a new life on a strange new planet. Timemelters is an action adventure starring witches featuring a unique time travel mechanic that allows players to fight alongside their past selves. And finally, Lost Eidolons is a turn-based strategy game set in a medieval empire ravaged by civil war.
For something a little more wholesome, Paradise Marsh (PC, Switch) is a game all about catching and researching bugs. Equally wholesome is Venice 2089 (PC), an adventure game about being a teen exploring a futuristic Venice. And for a less wholesome adventure game, The Case of the Golden Idol (PC) is all about investigating a series of surreal deaths and uncovering what really happened.
In RPGs and similar titles, Sunday Gold (PC) is a part point-and-click, part turn-based RPG set in a dystopian future where criminals are trying to take down a megacorp. The Last Oricru (PC, PS5, Xbox X/S) is an action RPG set in a medieval fantasy world with sci-fi elements and choice-driven story beats. And TriFox (PC, Switch, Xbox) is an action adventure starring a fox who can be customised as a warrior, mage or engineer, or a combination of the three.
For arty 2D platformers, there are two choices this week. Somber (PC) is set in a shadowy world where you must use precise movements to escape the dangers, while The Darkest Tales (PC, Switch, Xbox) sees you playing as a teddy bear knight as he moves through a dark fairy tale world to rescue his owner.
Asterigos: Curse of the Stars (PC, PlayStation, Xbox) is a big colourful action RPG set in a Greco-Roman world as you play as Hilda, a warrior on the search for her father. The gameplay seems to sit somewhere between a Soulslike and Devil May Cry, which the developers claim is offering a better balance of difficulty and exploration. Interesting.
Just in time for Halloween, Sker Ritual (PC) is a multiplayer spinoff of 2020’s Maid of Sker. But while that was a moody walking sim based around Welsh mythology, this is a co-op FPS where you show the horrors who’s boss with your friends.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythm Festival (Switch) is the latest in Bandai Namco’s iconic drumming franchise, this time featuring a story set in a festival city and around 76 songs. A special bundle comes with the physical drum controller, which feels essential for a game like this.
Lego Brick Tales (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is a puzzle adventure game set in a world made entirely of Lego, and where every solution requires some creative construction. Looks very cute, and definitely tailor made for anyone who loves Lego.
Dragon Ball: The Breakers (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is an asymmetric multiplayer title set in the Dragon Ball universe, where one player takes on the role of a powerful being from the series, while four others take on the roles of ordinary citizens caught up in their destruction. Completely incomprehensible to someone like me who has no interest in the anime, though.
Game of the Week
Game of the Week this week is Scorn (PC, Xbox X/S), one of many gruesome games releasing this spooky season.
It’s a first-person horror game set in a grotesque world of flesh and twisted hallways, and you play as someone thrown into the world and left to figure out its secrets, while avoiding death at the hands of its deformed inhabitants.
I’ve been curious about this one for a while, as it’s extremely mysterious and unique, and its art style obviously pulling from the works of H. R. Giger gives it a distinctive look. Definitely one worth keeping an eye on.
And that’s all for this week. See you again soon with more gaming news and releases!