Weeelcooome to episode 394 of our weekly Nintendo show and podcast, Nintendo Voice Chat. This week, Filip returns from his adventures in New York City to share his hands-on impressions with Nintendo Labo! Also, Miranda Sanchez joins the panel to discuss what Nintendo and Activision need to do in order to make a good Call of Duty game for Switch. Finally, Jonathan Dornbush joins the gang to discusses the latest Switch releases and NVC’s pick of the week!
Arcade gamer Billy Mitchell is not an easy man to get ahold of, despite the wide, mainstream coverage that he’s received this month. Donkey Kong Forum moderator Jeremy Young concluded that Mitchell cheated to attain his famous Donkey Kong scores. Twin Galaxies, which has been recording game scores since 1981 and partners with Guinness World Records, is launching a separate investigation.
In layman’s terms, the core allegation is this: Three of Mitchell’s scores–1,047,200 (the infamous sent “tape” from the documentary The King of Kong), 1,050,200 (achieved at a mortgage brokers meeting in Florida), and 1,062,800 (achieved at the Boomers arcade close to Mitchell’s home) were captured on a PC running MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) rather than a traditional arcade machine. There is a separate leaderboard for MAME scores, and the emulator is more susceptible to cheating, such as splicing together multiple playthroughs.
Young and others in the community rest the brunt of their argument on the way the images load on an arcade versus on MAME. An arcade loads images from side to side. MAME, meanwhile, loads images in large portions. You can see the difference in the images below, which are taken from Young’s explanation on the Donkey Kong Forums.
This first one below is from test footage that Young captured of a genuine arcade machine.
And this second image to right is captured from Mitchell’s 1.05M run.
Aside from a meandering, bizarre interview on the East Side Dave Show, Mitchell has been mum about the scandal, and he has declined opportunities to speak to the press. Mitchell would only speak to GameSpot via a conference call that also included Richie Knucklez, the man who organizes the Donkey Kong community’s annual Kong-Off. Knucklez orchestrated the interview; Mitchell did not pick up the phone when I called him directly several times.
Mitchell has always had a penchant for theatrics. It’s baked into every element of his presentation, from his retro, long-styled haircut, to his patriotic neckties, to the salesman’s thumbs up he gives when posing for pictures. And his gameplay is similarly confident and dramatic. He was the first person to achieve a perfect game of Pac-Man. He was the first person to reach the Donkey Kong “kill screen.” And for years, he held the highest recorded Donkey Kong score–until Steve Wiebe came along.
The conflict between the two men competing for the highest Donkey Kong score was immortalized in the aforementioned The King of Kong documentary. Directed by Seth Gordon, it portrayed Wiebe as the outsider and underdog, and Mitchell as the villain, protected by an insular community of old-school gamers.
This new controversy is a continuation of that perception–that Mitchell’s scores have been afforded a level of leeway that other gamers’ scores would not have been afforded. Mitchell, however, is insistent that his scores are real and were captured on an original arcade machine. He claims that he doesn’t even have MAME installed on his computer.
“I’m the least tech savvy guy in the world, so I’d be lost without the kindness of people I’ve never met before, calling me with information and insight,” says Mitchell in his interview with GameSpot. “In some ways, it’s a bummer. There’s a lot of other fun stuff I would rather be doing [than clearing my name]. But if it’s a cross I have to bear for a little while, that’s okay.”
Mitchell has two primary objectives at the moment. The first is getting original tapes of the scores’ direct feeds, which Twin Galaxies should have, according to Mitchell. One, the 1.06M points tape, was recorded by former Twin Galaxies referee Michael Sroka. Mitchell believes there is another tape–one that shows a pullback crowd shot of the entire room–which will prove there was no shady business going on. No one, thus far, has been able to locate this tape, though several people in the community have allegedly heard about it before.
Two of the original tapes–the 1.04M and the 1.05M tapes–were uploaded to YouTube by a man named Dwayne Richard, before they were turned over to Twin Galaxies. Richard appeared in The King of Kong, but he was also involved in the creation of two post-documentaries–the King of Con (2012), which purports that Mitchell received payoffs from the King of Kong filmmakers, and The Perfect Fraudman (2012), which questions Mitchell’s claim of having the first perfect Pac-Man game.
Knucklez characterizes Richard as someone with an axe to grind against Mitchell. And he proposes that this bias–and any suspicion of doctored or altered footage–can be eliminated by simply cutting Richard out of the equation. Knucklez reasons that if the critics can watch the original tapes–the ones Richard turned over to Twin Galaxies, rather than Richards’ uploads–that would be fairer.
Knucklez recalls an incident from years ago, when Richard asked Knucklez for help in faking MAME footage. He also repeated this anecdote on his Facebook account (which we’ve lightly edited for grammar and spelling):
“I remember it well. I was in the parking lot of a Walmart when [Richard] called and asked me to participate in a MAME Donkey Kong ruse. In his exact words, ‘To put egg on Twin Galaxies’ face.’ I told him I was not interested.”
Knucklez concedes, however, that the original Kong footage could be exactly the same as Richards’ upload, or even prove Mitchell guilty. And in the last couple of days, a former Twin Galaxies referee, who Knucklez declined to name, came forward with one of the original tapes.
“He reached out to me and said, ‘I still have the original copy. If it’ll help Bill in any way, I can send it to you,” says Knucklez. “In Dwayne Richards’ letter to Twin Galaxies, he listed the people who received the tape, and [this referee’s] name is on the list.”
Knucklez estimates that the tape should arrive and be in his possession within the next day or two. He believes Mitchell’s denial and says he is supporting his friend.
Mitchell claims that the arcade tape footage may also have a technical explanation for looking like MAME. Mitchell says he has spoken with experts, who explained to him how the visual look of the arcade footage could have been altered due to Mitchell’s use of a direct feed–one that takes its signal straight off the arcade’s board rather than from the monitor.
“I talked to the company that manufactured it, and I asked, ‘Why would the right look different from the left?'” says Mitchell. “And he explained it to me–not that I understood. And I said, ‘Oh, you’ve got to explain it to these other guys.’ So they’re in the process of quickly putting that together. [They said that because I was] obsessed with capturing the screenplay this way, that’s why I’m having this mess. Every single time, I recorded it that way.”
Billy Mitchell (Left) and Richie Knucklez (Right) Image Credit: Non-Sport Update Magazine
Mitchell, who repeatedly states that he is not a tech-savvy person, declines to explain further, deferring to the aforementioned experts.
“If I sit here and try and explain it to you, I’m going to sound like an idiot, and people are going to pick it apart, because I don’t know what I’m talking about,” says Mitchell. “These answers require presentation and research. It takes two minutes to tell a lie. It takes a lot longer to give a proper response that’s acceptable.”
Mitchell says the reasons for him getting involved in this latest fracas have less to do with him and more to do with the community.
“This is the first time I’ve had to answer, because people like Richie, people like Rob [Childs, the tech support present at the Boomers Arcade DK high score run]…and many [other] people are being called liars,” says Mitchell. “And if my friends are being kicked between the knees, I have to respond, and I am responsible….There are a lot of good people who have legitimate questions, and that’s who we’re catering to.”
“I have become known as an advocate of competitive games and an ambassador for competitive video games,” continues Mitchell. “And for that reason? Yes, this is important to me.”
One can see the ongoing drama on Donkey Kong forums, where many posters are going through an existential grieving process over Mitchell’s scores. Without Mitchell and these scores, there would be no The King of Kong. And thus, the community, as it currently exists today, would have never developed. Has it all been based on a lie?
Near the end of our conversation, Mitchell’s tone turns more emotional.
I have to present what any fair-minded person would look at and go, ‘Oh. I see.’ I can help the people who want to know exactly what happened and how it happened.
“Rob was there when this happened,” reiterates Mitchell about his 1.06M score. “The technician from the arcade was there when this happened. They were the ones who set up everything and set the board. There were Twin Galaxies people there. They set this up. There were cameras set up. There was an event set up. There were crowds. There were people. There was media. So all of those people are in on a big conspiracy? That’s just stupid.”
“So now,” Mitchell concludes, “I have to present what any fair-minded person would look at and go, ‘Oh. I see.’ I can help the people who want to know exactly what happened and how it happened. And they will–very shortly.”
There’s an irony to all this. All this hay is being made over records that are not even the world record anymore. Mitchell was long ago surpassed by younger players. The current record holder is Robbie Lakeman, who beat Wes Copeland’s 1,218,000 score with a 1,247,700 score on February 2, 2018. This current fight over frames of animation, direct feeds, and circuit boards is being waged entirely on principle. And it might cause an outsider to question whether Mitchell’s belief–that people are targeting him–is ego-driven paranoia rather than fact.
But then you step back, and you realize that if Billy Mitchell was dedicated enough to get a high score (legitimately or illegitimately), it would stand to reason that someone else is dedicated enough to tear it down. Mitchell gets a lot of flak for his outsized persona, and for exerting such charismatic power over his small fiefdom. But are the people criticizing him, who created two anti-Mitchell documentaries in the space of a year, any more down-to-earth? Whether or not Mitchell proves that his scores are valid, there’s no doubt that there will be another conspiracy, and another coverup, and another follow-up. Because when things reach this pitch, it’s no longer about the scores. It’s about something more personal.
There’s a common observation that Batman, by existing, has empowered and created his enemies. The presence of a superhero is an implicit challenge, and it leads to the creation of a supervillain. Batman and Joker are symbiotic, in a sense. They are doomed to fight, over and over again, because on some level they thrive off the conflict. Maybe Mitchell is legit; maybe he isn’t. Maybe he’s a villain, or perhaps, he’s created some villains along the way.
Since the short-lived 50v50 mode it introduced back in December, Fortnite developer Epic has been regularly holding limited-time events for the game’s free Battle Royale mode, and even more are on the way in the near future. In an update on its official website, Epic gave players a peek at some of the limited-time modes it plans to hold for Battle Royale soon, including the return of the 50v50 event.
According to Epic, approximately five limited-time modes will run in Fortnite: Battle Royale “in the next month or so.” The developer hasn’t detailed which of the events will be held first, nor has it provided a time table for when they’ll roll out, but one of the modes players can expect to play is another 50v50 event. Unlike the previous version, Epic says this one will be “closer to the 50v50 trailer experience,” with more supply drops and a bus for each team.
In addition to that, Epic plans to hold a limited-time Blitz Mode in Battle Royale, which will feature shorter matches than usual. Epic also says it will introduce modes that feature team sizes in between 50v50 and squads (which features four-player groups). You can read more about some of Fortnite: Battle Royale’s upcoming limited-time modes on Epic’s website.
On top of the new limited-time modes, Epic has also teased some new items that are coming to Battle Royale. These include a Glider modeled after a Chinese dragon, a spacesuit outfit, and a Llama Unicorn Pickaxe. Epic hasn’t announced when the items will be available in Battle Royale, but it has shared concept art for them, which you can take a look at above.
How to watch the 2018 Winter Olympics even if you’re a cord-cutter.
The 2018 Winter Olympic Games from PyeongChang are finally upon us, and for those of you without a standard cable subscription — fear not. Here’s a quick breakdown of where you can officially stream all of the thrilling events that are taking place from February 8 – 25.
The first look at Salem Saberhagen in Netflix’s Sabrina the Teenage Witch series has been revealed.
Executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa shared a photo of the furry feline on Twitter earlier today with the caption, “Ladies and gentlemen, meet #Greendale’s latest resident. All hail, Salem!” Check out this new version of Salem the cat below.
We’ve come to expect copious amounts of violence and nudity on premium TV these days thanks to shows like Game of Thrones, but Altered Carbon takes it to a whole new level. It can feel a little excessive, especially in the first few episodes.
But the further you get into Altered Carbon, the more you realize how smart the show actually is–how effectively it gets across its themes and ideas, often by showing rather than telling. It makes you wonder: Why is there so much nudity and violence in Altered Carbon?
The Netflix show’s writer, executive producer, and showrunner, Laeta Kalogridis, has a very good answer.
“There’s a lot of bravery on the part of our cast, male and female, and a lot of commitment in trying to get across one of the core premises–because there are a great many interlocking ideas that we’re trying to bring forward. One of them is that there is a disposability to the human body once you create this kind of technology,” Kalogridis told GameSpot.
In the world of Altered Carbon, human consciousness has been digitized, each person’s mind and memories residing on a “cortical stack” located at the base of their skull. Bodies, called “sleeves,” are replaceable. Even if your sleeve dies, your stack can be inserted into a new one–as long as the stack itself remains intact. The show raises a lot of questions about how that would affect the gap between the rich and the poor.
“Our worst instincts as human beings have to do with our carelessness with natural resources, and when the body itself becomes just one more of those resources, how will we treat it? Will we treat it with such indifference and with such depersonalization that it becomes more like a very fancy car than a repository of the self?” Kalogridis continued. “And that, I think, is one reason that the nudity itself is not gratuitous; it’s meant to reinforce to you, as a viewer, that the advent of this technology fundamentally and substantially changes people’s relationships with their idea of their own body.”
In other words, in a world in which bodies are interchangeable, what does nudity even matter? It’s not really “you” being seen naked–it’s just your sleeve. Depending how wealthy you are, it might not even be the one you were born in–or even a real human body, since synthetic sleeves are also a thing.
As Kalogridis pointed out, Altered Carbon‘s nudity is “equal opportunity”–the show features a comparable number of naked male bodies as female. She emphasized that the whole thing only works because so many of the actors were onboard to strip down.
“There’s no way to overstate how brave it is for one actor–much less this group of people–to decide together that they’re going to make this statement about this world, because it only works when they do it together,” she said.
“Naturally, when you pick something to tell a cautionary tale about, normally what you want to do is show the thing you’re cautioning against,” she quipped.
One of the things Altered Carbon cautions against is what Kalogridis sees as humanity’s very real obsession with immortality–one she’s afraid will have unforeseen consequences as technology continues to build toward something that may wind up looking very like the fictional cortical stack.
“It’s a disruptive technology that much of Silicon Valley is–if you ask me–unhealthily focused on,” she said. “Anything that you invent that is disruptive, any new technology that is created, I can guarantee you absolutely there will be unintended consequences–and annoying people who say, ‘Well, who could have seen that coming?'”
“Imagine what could go wrong–all you have to do is apply human nature to it,” she continued.
That thinking manifests in Altered Carbon in countless ways, from the carelessness with which some characters charge into combat, to the null-G knife fights between a husband and wife team who battle to the death for rich people’s amusement. The most egregious example is probably how prostitutes are treated–throughout the season it’s revealed that violence against prostitutes (both female and male, although mostly female) can be bought for the right price. The women have to hope their pimps bother to spin them back up in replacement sleeves.
Kalogridis believes that’s just part of the reality of this world–not to mention noir as a genre.
“Noir has a history of holding up a mirror to the darker side of human society, and I will be thrilled to remove the violence from noir when we remove the violence from our lives,” she said. “It’s necessary to point out a thing in order to make progress on changing the thing. And if there’s something that I think we maybe have all noticed in the last couple of years–maybe–when you just pretend that something’s not happening, that will not affect change. Acting as if it’s not happening because you are uncomfortable in looking at it has very little value if what you want is to make things better. If what you want is to stay comfortable and feel good, I suppose it’s fine.”
“But that’s not what interests me,” she concluded.
In terms of event quests, the next batch of three have rotated into the game and will be available until February 15. All of them involve hunting multiple monsters, but the first two are five-star quests that can be taken on starting at Hunter Rank 8. Kirin the Myth, as the name suggests, involves slaying two Kirin in Coral Highlands; there is a faint limit of three, a 50-minute time limit, and a reward of 14,400 Zenny. Wicked Wildspire Warfare has the same failure conditions but a reward of 9,360 Zenny (plus some Armor Spheres). You’ll have to hunt two Barroths and a Diablos to emerge victorious.
Those looking for a higher-end challenge can take on the Triple Threat Throwdown event quest. This is a Special Arena mission where you’ll have to hunt a Great Girros, Great Jagras, and Dodogama. You again have 50 minutes to complete this and will fail after three faints, and you’ll need to reach HR 13 in order to take this on. The reward is 14,040 Zenny in addition to unspecified decorations.
Also new are the latest set of Limited Bounties. If you’re unfamiliar with these, they’re bounties which are automatically assigned to you from the Resource Center and provide specific challenges to complete during the week. (The exact timing for the reset seems to differ between Xbox One on Thursday and PS4 on Friday, US time.) All three Limited Bounties are Ecology Surveys that call for you to hunt specific monsters (or categories of monsters). You’ll have to hunt three Great Girros, four Rathalos, and five Elder Dragons. Completing each of these objectives rewards you with some combination of Research Points, Armor Spheres, and trade-in items, and completing all three nets you an additional reward. Here’s exactly what’s on tap:
Ecology Survey: Hunt Great Girros
350 Research Points
2 Armor Sphere+
1 First Wyverian Print
Ecology Survey: Hunt Rathalos
450 Research Points
4x Armor Sphere+
1x Steel Wyverian Print
Ecology Survey: Slay Elder Dragon (high rank)
600 Research Points
4x Hard Armor Sphere
1x Silver Wyverian Print
General: Limited Bounty
500 Research Points
1x Gold Wyverian Print
1x Golden Egg
Finally, there’s a limited-time mission–Challenge Quest 1: Beginner–which you can access from the Arena Counter in the Gathering Hub once you hit HR 2. You’ll have to slay a Kulu-Ya-Ku and Pukei-Pukei with one of a handful of weapons, with the goal being to finish as quickly as possible. The faint limit is nine, and the reward is 1,080 Zenny.
Also of note right now is a new update that’s been released on both platforms. It makes some balance changes to Bowguns, resolves Squad issues on PS4, and addresses various other issues. That includes fixing an issue that prevented some players from accessing the free 5 Million Celebration Item Pack; as a result, its availability has been extended through February 22. There’s also a new pack now available to celebrate the game’s 6 million milestone; you can grab both by playing online and claiming your Daily Login Bonus.
When it comes to superheroes like Spider-Man or Batman, you can ask 20 different comic readers what their favorite stories are and you might get 20 different answers. Black Panther is a different story. Despite the fact that this character has been around since the 1960’s and headlined a number of ongoing books and limited series, the vast majority of fans will give you one creator’s name in response – Christopher Priest. Rarely has a writer contributed so much to a Marvel hero or exerted such a lasting influence. Priest’s Black Panther run didn’t merely elevate a formerly minor player in the Avengers franchise, it helped save Marvel Comics as a whole during a time when the company was at its lowest ebb.
There is a lot of of hoopla surrounding Spectre and Meltdown, the names given to vulnerabilities that affect practically every processor produced in the past two decades. Without taking a deep dive into the technical details, the short of it is that they could allow an attacker to pluck what was previously considered protected data from your CPU’s cache, including passwords, encryption keys, and other sensitive information.
Security researchers from Google’s Project Zero team discovered the vulnerabilities in 2017 and disclosed them to the public in early 2018. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix, as Spectre and Meltdown are part of the fundamental design of most modern processors. In fact, Intel takes issue with referring to these vulnerabilities as a “bug” or “flaw” in the actual design, though the semantics hardly matter—the bottom line is, your PC is probably affected.
Should you be worried? The good news in all of this is that there are no known exploits in the wild based on Spectre and Meltdown. However, at least two cybersecurity firms have identified proof-of-concept samples based on these vulnerabilities, most likely from security researchers scrambling to stay ahead of the situation.
Nevertheless, it’s a safe bet that attackers will eventually attempt to leverage Spectre and Meltdown. In the meantime, there are some things you can do to protect yourself. The biggest one is to make sure your OS has the latest updates. Microsoft is pretty aggressive about doling out automatic updates to Windows, so most users can sit back and let the OS patch itself. If you want to be proactive, however, manually check for updates to make sure you’re fully patched. The same goes for Linux, Chrome OS, and macOS—Spectre and Meltdown affect all operating systems, not just Windows.
You should also make sure your browsers are all up to date. Google recently updated its Chrome browser to version 64, and it incorporates patches to protect against Spectre and Meltdown. To make sure you’re running the latest build, click on the three vertical dots in the upper-right corner and go to Help > About Google Chrome. This will tell you what version you’re running, and initiate an update if one is available.
In Chrome 63 and later, there is also an experimental feature called Site Isolation that is disabled by default. Turning it on offers additional protection against certain types of web attacks based on Meltdown and Spectre, though it increases Chrome’s memory use by around 10-20 percent. If you’re okay with that, you can turn the feature on by typing chrome://flags into the URL bar, then scroll down to Strict site isolation and press the Enable button. Another way is to type (or copy and paste) chrome://flags/#enable-site-per-process into the URL bar.
There are no special flags in Firefox, Edge, Opera, or Safari. However, you should make sure you’re running the latest version of each. In Firefox, open up the menu and navigate to Help > About Firefox. Updating Opera is similar—click on the menu and select About Opera. Both Edge and Safari are updated by their respective OSes, Windows and MacOS.
One other thing you can do is check for BIOS updates for your motherboard. Several motherboard vendors have begun releasing updated firmware specifically to protect against Spectre and Meltdown. You can check for new BIOS releases by going to your motherboard manufacturer’s website and either looking up your motherboard model, or navigate to the support section.
Given that this is all rather new, it’s a good idea to do some research before applying a BIOS update. Specifically, you want to see if other users have reported any problems with the new BIOS, if one is available. Also, you should only attempt this if you are comfortable updating the BIOS. Otherwise, either skip this step, or have a tech-savvy friend help you. Either way, take note of your current BIOS settings before updating, as they don’t always carry over.
Beyond staying up to date, standard safe computing practices apply—avoid shadier sides of the web, be wary of clicking on links in emails and instant messages, and keep your antivirus software turned on.
Ahead of the digital release of Justice League comes a deleted scene that will have fans of the DC Extended Universe wondering why it wasn’t in the film. In the scene, Superman (Henry Cavill) is in the Fortress of Solitude after returning from the dead. While there, he sees a completely black version of his classic suit.
It’s the same suit that was teased by Cavill on Instagram over a year ago, during the movie’s production. At the time, many believed Superman would suit up in the darker costume in Justice League. However, once the film was released it was nowhere to be seen.
One other element of the deleted scene is yet another costume, this one wildly different from what Superman usually wears. Instead of the form-fitting suit you’d expect from the superhero, the other costume is metallic and looks like some kind of spacesuit. This particular look is similar to a suit introduced in Superman: The Animated Series. It allowed the Man of Steel to venture around in space, breathe, and also record his words for transmission back to Earth.
Perhaps when the movie finally releases on digital on February 13, more deleted scenes will paint a clearer picture of the movie Justice League could have been. Until then, though, fans are left wondering what role either of these suits would have played–and which one would look better with Cavill’s mustache.