McDonald’s is the largest toy distributor in the world thanks to Happy Meal sales. Recently though, they made an unexpected switch: they swapped toys for fitness trackers.It was all down to timing, of course. With the 2016 Summer Games kicking off in Rio, McDonald’s figured that they should maybe do a little something to get kids active. Happy Meal prizes tend not to be the sort of things that cost a whole lot of money to produce, though, so they had to keep it simple.The solution: specially-sized step counters made for little arms that just finished repeatedly lifting a cheeseburger or pack of McNuggets. It seems like a nice enough way to get kids up and moving, you know… to burn off the calories and fat from their Happy Meals. Which, to be fair, are still healthier than the majority of the salads that “health-conscious” grown-ups are ordering at McD’s.Unfortunately, their plan came off the rails rather quickly. McDonald’s had to axe the promotion after customers’ children started developing skin abrasions from wearing the StepIt counters. I just happen to have one in my house, and it’s easy to see why. The band looks soft and squishy, but it’s actually fairly stiff — and the edges are rough 90-degree bends, not nice, gradual curves. The “clasp” also sticks up far enough through the band that it could easily cause discomfort.But hey, before everyone piles on McDonald’s for their marketing tactics and menu one more time, let’s not forget that there are plenty of fancier, sit-down restaurants serving up food that’s far less healthy than Happy Meals and Big Macs. Most of them don’t even bother to pretend to want to get kids who eat there active.They should’ve gotten Mac Tonight to hawk these.
It was probably inevitable that “retro” would become a subgenre unto itself in the indie gaming scene: Development costs are expensive, independently-developed games tend to have more in common with their arcade and console ancestors than their megabudget 21st Century AAA contemporaries, plenty of indie devs came up during the 8 and 16-bit “Golden Age” of gaming – it only makes sense that drafting new games as though they’d been released for the Nintendo Entertainment System or Sega Genesis 20 years ago would become a “thing.”Likewise, it’s also not a surprise that this trend would wind up running parallel with the broader pop-cultural “rediscovery” of the 80s (and early-90s) “exploitation” aesthetic. It’s got an ultraviolent direct-to-video action movies, moody synth-scores, and underground neon/grime design aesthetic – the darker side of an era previously celebrated for its plasticine candy-colored optimism (think The Wedding Singer). Video games themselves, after all, are inextricably linked to much of that sensibility – the underground art/music/club scene’s shift from a the glitter-and-haze Disco-era aesthetic to the stark neon-on-black futurism (aka “strip club lighting,” for you Millennials) always felt directly inspired by early arcade graphics.In any case, Easy Trigger Games’ Huntdown is the latest indie title to take aim at merging both concepts, applying the neon-synth schlock aesthetic successfully adopted by the likes of Far Cry: Blood Dragon and Double Dragon Neon into a pixel-art arcade shooter that feels structurally right at home in that same mid-80s nostalgic ephemera. The resulting creation – boiling down to, essentially, Contra in the universe of Final Fight – certainly looks like “home” to anyone who longs for the pool-hall quarter-munchers of yesteryear (or younger fans who never got the chance to appreciate the same firsthand). But how does it play?AdChoices广告Within expectations: Not bad at all. More so than most other entries in the neo-retro stable, your enjoyment of Huntdown is likely to correlate directly to how fond you are of the era in gaming that inspired it – not just regarding visuals and sound. The level layout is intuitive and self-explanatory, enemies and obstacles are dispensed at a rate that feels both fair and adherent to the ways of an era where such things weren’t effectively limitless. This is where too many such games fall apart – forgetting that the “Golden Age” classics that endure generally do so because they were meticulously built “around” their limitations – not in spite of them.Right from the outset, it’s clear that Huntdown isn’t looking to “fix” the 80s arcade run-and-gun genre so much as inhabit it, and apart from the employment of the der-riguer “screen shake” effect for explosions and heavy hits, there’s little on hand that doesn’t stand out as authentically old-school. It’s no small feat, especially when set up for show at a convention space whose entire overriding visual/aural sensibility is grounded largely in gamer-nostalgia.If you’ve played a round of Contra (or Metal Slug, or any of the thousands or so side-scrolling shooters that have come since), you know the score. Run and jump through sidescrolling levels, collecting items for points and differently-armed guns for power-ups, blasting away at enemies in either single or two-player co-op. Ostensibly, the premise is that you’re bounty hunters infiltrating a lawless near-future city (think Escape From New York) to obliterate the membership of colorfully themed/nicknamed street gangs (a la The Warriors) for profit, but that effectively boils down to kills = points – again, fairly self-explanatory.Whether or not this translates to long-term replayability remains to be seen – the games Huntdown so enthusiastically recreates were largely designed to “work” for a few minutes of play in an arcade or a few hours on a console, with both timeframes extended by difficulty rather than by content. But as a ready-made distraction (the game is currently slated for Steam, PS4, XBox One and Nintendo Switch) Huntdown seems to do its job admirably. PAX East 2017: Hand’s On With DRAGON QUEST HEROES IIPAXEast 2017 Hand’s On With ToeJam & Earl Stay on target
Stay on target Google Pixel Phones Talk to 911 For YouAndroid Ransomware Pretends to Be Reddit Porn As if you needed yet another reminder that Microsoft’s attempt to reassert itself in the smartphone market weren’t going all that well, here it is. Bill Gates is now using an Android device.Yes, even Microsoft’s co-founder seems ready to admit that the best mobile experience available to consumers today is not on a Windows device. Gates made his revelation in a recent interview with Fox News, though he didn’t specify which Android phone he switched to.Microsoft is well aware of its struggles in the fiercely-competitive mobile market. It’s hard to believe, but it’s only been three short years since the disastrous Nokia acquisition happened. With Satya Nadella at the helm, though, the company made a pivot. Their new approach has been to double down on delivering apps and services to their users regardless of what platform they’re using…. Which, when it comes to phones, is almost certainly not Windows.So far, it’s been a very successful push. The Office, OneDrive, and Xbox apps have been installed on tens of millions of devices. Microsoft’s cloud revenues are soaring and things in general look pretty good.But just because Microsoft is focusing on apps today doesn’t mean they’re done with smartphones for good. There’s still a chance that Microsoft will release their oft-rumored Surface phone. We’ve been hearing rumblings about one for ages and the latest round of chatter says that we’ll finally see one unveiled next year.As unlikely as that might sound given the epic beating their smartphone market share has taken over the past several years (it dropped below 1% in 2016), you can’t count Microsoft out yet. They’ve done pretty well with the Surface devices, as long as you’re willing to ignore the RT.And hey, as long as we’ve got the opportunity to post something Bill Gates-related… Let’s all take one more look at that awesome video of him jumping over a chair in 1994:Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.