Gadgets – TechCrunch Darrell Etherington

Game controller compatibility is a labyrinthine nightmare most of the time: Some controllers work with some platforms some of the time, but it’s very hard to keep track of how and when. 8bitdo’s latest accessory adds some simplicity to the mix, enabling use of Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch controllers with Switch, Windows and macOS systems quickly and easily.

Yes, that means you can play your PC or Mac games with your favorite Xbox One X/S or DualShock 3/4 controller, or even use a Joy-Con. It also means that you can use a DualShock controller to play Breath of the Wild on the Switch, ion that’s what you want to do.

The USB dongle also works with Android TV hardware, and with Raspberry Pi-based devices. It supports DualShock 4 vibration and 6-axis motion control on Switch, and it works lag-free for low latency gaming requirements. It’s also a tiny bit smaller than either the dedicated Xbox or PlayStation dedicated PC wireless controller USB adapters (and supports a broader range of platforms).

Oh, and it’s also just $20 from Amazon. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now and it performs exactly as advertised. If you’re looking to cut down your controller clutter or just have a strong preference for once design over another, this is definitely a smart buy.

Gadgets – TechCrunch Devin Coldewey

During CES, the single piece of electronics I spent the most time with, apart from my laptop and camera, was a Mattel Dungeons & Dragons Computer Fantasy Game handheld. This decades-old device held the attention of John Biggs and myself through quite a few drinks as we navigated its arcane interface (eventually slaying the dragon, thank you). These cheap handhelds, sold as impulse buys at drug stores and Toys ‘R Us (RIP), are the latest thing to be collected and emulated in full by MAME and the Internet Archive.

At first when I heard this, I was happy but not particularly impressed. They’re great little devices — mostly terrible games, albeit a nostalgic kind of terrible — but how complicated can they be?

Oh, quite complicated, it turns out.

Unlike, say, an NES ROM, these little gadgets don’t have their graphics palettized, their logic isolated, etc. No, each one of these things is a strange and unique little machine. They must be carefully taken apart and their logic teased out by experts.

For one thing, the graphics aren’t pixels accounted for digitally. They’re etched into the liquid crystal system, to be activated when a charge runs through them. In other words, all the graphics are right there on the same screen, arranged like puzzle pieces.

So you may remember Space Jam looking like this:

But the LCD layer looks like this:

All that is hard-wired into the electronic part, where the logic resides telling which pieces to light up and when.

I won’t go into the details — read the interesting Internet Archive post if you’re curious. Basically it was a ton of hard work by a bunch of dedicated folks on the MAME crew. Incidentally, thanks to them and everyone else who’s kept that project going for years and years.

The only thing that’s missing is the interface — that is, the plastic. These things were great not because they were actually great games, but because they cost like $10 and would keep your kid occupied on a road trip for a few hours while they got beaten over and over again by the first three enemies. The cheap plastic enclosures and gaudy decorations are part of the fun.

No one wants to play this:

But this?

I’d definitely bug my mom to get me that. In fact, I think I did.

You can check out the scores of games the teams have already digitized at the Handheld History page, and if you’re in an emulatin’ mood, check out the other gazillion systems you can play in the browser in Archive’s Internet Arcade and Console Living Room.

Gadgets – TechCrunch Anthony Ha

I’ll be honest: When I first got the pitch for “the first blockchain-based video game console,” I assumed it must be some kind of gimmick.

But Jimmy Chen, co-founder and CEO of Blok.Party, said the Ethereum blockchain is “a critical part of this experience,” allowing his team to create “this seamless bridge between the digital and physical worlds.”

Today, Blok.Party is unveiling its PlayTable console, which combines elements of tabletop and console gaming.

This isn’t the first time someone’s tried to incorporate real-world objects into video games — for example, there was Disney Infinity, which shut down a couple of years ago. But by using blockchain technology, Chen said he can avoid many of the pitfalls that tripped up previous efforts.

For one thing, instead of manufacturing new toys and pieces for every game, PlayTable uses RFID tags, which can be attached to existing objects. So players can use the tags to incorporate their own toys and cards into the games.

“We’ve been trying to make toys smart for a very, very long time, but all we’ve been doing is stuffing resistors and transistors inside of them, making them incresingly more inaccessible,” Chen said. Blok.Party, in contrast, is “creating a data set that is inexpensive, that can easily attach to the physical object.”

He demonstrated PlayTable for me using Battlegrid, card-based fantasy duel game developed by Blok.Party, which Chen described as “if Magic the Gathering, Hearthstone and Skylanders had a baby.” I won’t pretend that I followed all the ins and outs of the battle, but I saw that Chen could place different cards and pieces down and the table would recognize them and bring the related characters into play.

“The core of it, the physical manifestation of it that exists only in one space, has proven to be fairly difficult [in the past],” Chen added. “By creating that backend infrastructure, we can make the system a lot more successful. The element that blockchain really enables is this idea of having to a truly unique, open dataset that people can contribute on and can build on top of.”

Chen said Blok.Party is working with third-party developers to create about 25 different titles, some of them based on classic games like poker and mah jong.

The PlayTable is currently available for pre-order at a discounted price of $349. (The company says the regular price will be $599.) The plan is to ship the console in the fourth quarter of this year.

Gadgets – TechCrunch Romain Dillet

 Hacker group fail0verflow shared a photo of a Nintendo Switch running Debian, a distribution of Linux (via Nintendo Life). The group claims that Nintendo can’t fix the vulnerability with future firmware patches. #switch — fail0verflow (@fail0verflow) February 6, 2018 According to fail0verflow, there’s a flaw in the boot ROM in Nvidia’s… Read More

Gadgets – TechCrunch Darrell Etherington

 When it comes to the art and science of retro gaming, Analogue has no equal. The small company that first brought us the Analogue Nt, then the Nt mini, is back again with the Super Nt – a lovingly engineered and built modern SNES/Super Famicom console. Wait but what? A ‘modern SNES’? What does that entail? If you know Analogue’s past work, you know it essentially… Read More

Gadgets – TechCrunch Darrell Etherington

 Do you like to watch football? How about the biggest game of the year – which happens on February 4 (aka this Sunday)? If yes to either of these, then you’re in luck: I can tell you how to get the most out of the experience via connected smart home tech, gadgets and AV equipment. Set ‘indulge’ mode to MAX. The TV There are plenty of TV options out there for your… Read More

Gadgets – TechCrunch Brian Heater

 Nintendo really out Nintendoed itself with last month’s Labo announcement. The cardboard kit gets some innovative use out of the Switch’s underlying technology, letting kids build robot, fishing rods, pianos and the like, using the console’s Joy-Con controllers as the brains. At a kick off event in New York City today, the gaming giant offered some hands-on insight into… Read More

Gadgets – TechCrunch Romain Dillet

 French startup Blade, the company behind Shadow, is launching its cloud gaming service in the U.K. Just like in the U.S., the company is starting with a pre-sale before accepting all customers. For a flat monthly fee, you can rent a gaming PC in a data center near you. You can then access this beefy computer using desktop and mobile apps as well as the company’s own little box. Read More

Gadgets – TechCrunch Darrell Etherington

 People like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the game where you basically re-enact a version of Battle Royale with you as one of the contestants in the human survival game. It had huge success in alpha prior to its full launch on PC, and now we know that console gamers also love the heck out of it – despite reports of buggy experiences with the Xbox One version. Bugs aside, Xbox… Read More

Gadgets – TechCrunch Darrell Etherington

 Nintendo’s big new surprise interactive experience for the Switch is now official, and it’s basically a maker kit for the portable console that uses cardboard component pieces to allow people to build a range of different creations and play with them using the console to power games that interact with the DIY components. Read More