The Outage Continues
I'm not sure what makes me angriest: The lowlifes who knocked out PSN for what seems to be a reasonably long time, the major corporation that failed to adequately safeguard its network and its users' information, or the people who are blaming the incident on Sony's refusal to accommodate less dangerous hackers (e.g., simple homebrewers and pirates) in the past.
By now, most of you are familiar with the problem—and a lot of you are suffering from it yourselves—so I won't dwell on it. I'll just point and sputter a little, and say that this "make good plan" Sony is working on had better really be something.
Another Bite at the Apple
While the iCensor has been getting all worked up about a politically charged original game, it has been failing to keep outright plagiarism off its network. "Monino" is a clear Mario rip-off—the protagonist is a dead ringer for Nintendo's plumber, and the gameplay is taken directly from the franchise's 2D days. Yet somehow, that ended up on Apple's iPhone store. Hm.
Apparently, there's a video game called "Smuggle Truck"—note the M—in which you pilot a pickup truck filled with Hispanic-looking immigrants in a quest to cross the American border. Apple refused to allow the developers to sell this game in its iOS App Store. So, they retitled it "Snuggle Truck"—with an N—changed the immigrants into fuzzy animals, and made the ultimate destination a zoo.
The precise details of why Apple refused to allow the game have not been released, but I imagine that either (A) the company found the game racist, even though the developers say they made it as a way to poke fun at an immigration system they see as overly restrictive; or, (B) the company just wants to avoid controversial topics altogether. Either way, this move stinks.
Now, don't get me wrong. Apple has every right to decide what can and cannot be sold on its networks, and if the game were really a racist joke, pulling it would probably be the smart thing for an image-conscious company to do. The First Amendment, and the concept of "free speech" more broadly, protects art against censorship by the government—it doesn't force private companies to publish things they or their customers find objectionable.
But the game wasn't a racist joke; the developers made it clear that the immigration system was their target, not the immigrants, by adding a "Legal Immigration" mode in which you wait in line for twenty years trying to gain admittance to the U.S. And why doesn't Apple want to offer a wide range of content and viewpoints, including some off-color games that use controversial imagery to make a point about social issues? If the company is so worried about inappropriate material, why doesn't it create some kind of classification system so people can filter out things they don't like? In other words, why does the fact that some Apple customers might find Smuggle Truck offensive mean that no Apple customers can experience it?
iOS fans should voice their displeasure, and insist that Apple stop treating them like children.
I remember liking the Smurfs when I was a kid, but I had no idea that they were still around. Well, they are: Several pictures recently surfaced that are supposedly from a game called Smurfs Dance Party (you can tell because the Smurfs are dancing and partying). A full announcement is expected from Ubisoft in May. The game looks stupid—after all, it's a Smurfs-themed dance game—but it's good to know that at least some relics of my childhood might still be around for my own kids.
Now, if we could only make G.I. Joe American again and resurrect the old animation style of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. World's gone to pot, I tell you.
Status: Unconfirmed (and also cute).
This week, game designer and Ph.D. student Lucas Blair had an interesting article ("The Cake Is Not a Lie") about how to design achievements. Personally, I've never been an achievement collector, but the piece draws on a lot of academic research about what motivates us to play games, and it's well worth your time. The downside, of course, is that many of these techniques can also be used to deepen players' addiction to subscription-based games like World of Warcraft. So, game designers: Use your power for good!
Super Portal Bros.
As a public service, I wanted to note that a website called Dorkly.com features a video of what appears to be Super Mario Bros., reprogrammed to include a working portal gun. And that's just plain awesome.
CCC Freelance Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*