Categories
News

Microsoft Redesigns the Xbox Store So It’s Easier to Use

Microsoft has worked hard to appease Xbox users in recent months, from the improved Game Pass to the release of the upcoming Xbox Series X. Now, the company has unveiled a new-look Microsoft Store on Xbox that’s “designed to be faster, safer and easier to use than ever before”.

What’s Coming to the Microsoft Store on Xbox?

Microsoft announced the new Microsoft Store on Xbox experience in a post on Xbox Wire. There, the company details all of the new changes coming to the Xbox Store and how they will benefit you.

First, Microsoft states that the Xbox Store will load faster in general. When you start up the store, it will only take two seconds before you’re ready to browse. Each game’s store page also loads faster so that you don’t need to wait to see the screenshots and trailers.

The navigation menu for the new Microsoft Store on Xbox

The new Microsoft Store on Xbox will also be easier to use.

Microsoft has revamped the wishlist feature so that it’s easier to add games and check when they go on sale. The update will also make it easier to add games to your shopping cart, as well as managing what’ you have already added to your cart. The new Xbox Store also lets you view, buy, and wishlist games from previous Xbox consoles, all the way back to the original.

When the update drops, you’ll need to sign in to use the store. This is because your Xbox will now tailor recommendations to your past purchases and games. This system also protects children from viewing games outside of their age bracket.

When Will the New Xbox Store Arrive?

For now, Microsoft is pushing this update out only for Xbox Insiders. So, if you’re part of the Xbox Insider Program, you’ll get the update on August 5, 2020.

If you’re not part of it, you can sign up by visiting the Xbox Insider website. Just remember that the insider channels are for testing, so be sure to report any bugs you find.

The Best Xbox One Exclusives to Play Today

With this new update for the Microsoft Store on Xbox, previewing and buying games should be easier than ever. While there is no official release date for the public, Xbox Insiders can get a sneak peek of the new Xbox Store from August 5, 2020.

While you’re visiting the Microsoft Store on Xbox, why not look for the best Xbox One exclusives to flesh out your library?

Read the full article: Microsoft Redesigns the Xbox Store So It’s Easier to Use

Categories
News

What Are Reloaded Games and Repacked Games?

If you’ve explored the gaming scene for long enough, you may have come across game torrents labeled with two terms; “Reloaded” and “Repacked.” While these may sound like sequels for The Matrix, they have a whole different meaning when describing video games.

In this article we explain what repacked games and reloaded games are, and discover whether or not they’re legal.

What Is a Reloaded Game?

When you see a “reloaded” game, it can mean one of two things. Either the Reloaded group cracked and uploaded the game, or the uploader re-uploaded the game.

When “Reloaded” Means the Reloaded Team

The Reloaded team's website

Sometimes when a game is labeled “Reloaded” (or “RLD”), this means the Reloaded piracy group cracked the game. Crackers will often “sign” their work to show that they’re responsible for it.

The Reloaded team is notorious on the internet. They started up in 2004, and have many high-level cracks under their name. One of them was Spore, which Reloaded released four days before the release date with its draconian SecuROM DRM stripped from it. Since then, Reloaded has become a famous team amongst pirates who rely on them for free games.

When “Reloaded” Means a Re-Upload

Sometimes, “reloaded” means the uploader has tweaked the original files and re-uploaded it to internet. This may be because someone took down the original link, or the uploader tweaked the game to make it run better. As such, they use the term “reloaded” to tell people that the files are a recent upload.

What Is a Repacked Game?

When a game is labeled as “repacked,” it means the uploader has shuffled the files around to minimize download times. It tells downloaders that the uploader took the base files, “repacked” it to lower the file size, then re-uploaded it for everyone to use.

When a cracking team first breaks into a game, the total file size can be huge. This is because the software contains the full game, without any compression or removal of unnecessary features.

As such, if the cracker then uploads this to the internet, it may take a long time for downloaders to download the games onto their system. Even if they do manage it, the game will take up a large amount of space on the downloader’s hard drive.

How Crackers Reduce a Game’s File Size

When reducing a game’s huge file size, a cracker may compress files to reduce the file size. They’ll locate the files that take up the most space (such as sound and texture files) then pack them up to make the overall download size smaller.

They’ll also go through the game files and remove elements they deem unnecessary. For instance, a lot of games come with different language options. These games contain sound files for each of these languages, so the user can swap between them at will.

Someone repacking a game can lower the file size by removing the language files that aren’t in their native language. They will then upload the files stating what language the game is in, so people know what to expect when they download it. As such, if someone doesn’t care that they can play the game in French or Italian, they can save space and download time by grabbing an English-only repack.

A repacked game may also come with a crack. Cracks are special tools that can bust open the copy-protection of a program. Once the user downloads the files, they can apply the crack themselves and play the game without issue.

Are Repacked and Reloaded Games Illegal?

As you may have guessed by now, you’ll find these terms on pirating and game torrent sites. One is a tag for a cracking group, while the other is a sign that someone has heavily reduced a game’s file size.

Either way, if you see one of these tags on a game, there’s a very high chance that by downloading it you’re committing piracy. Even if the game is so old that it’s technically abandonware (what is abandonware?), it’s still a substantial gray area both legally and morally.

As such, if you see a game with one of these tags, it’s best to leave it be and find a legal way to download the game. For modern games, Steam and the Epic Store are both excellent picks to find it; for older titles, Good Old Games (GOG) may have it. If it doesn’t, GOG does have a “recommend a game” feature that you can use to raise awareness for your game.

Yes, these options do involve spending money, which isn’t an ideal situation. However, there are plenty of issues when illegally downloading games, ranging from a broken game to viruses and malware. You’re better off waiting for a Steam sale or Humble Bundle than running the risk of downloading a bad file.

How to Legally Get Free Games

The Epic Game store's free game section

Even if you’re short on cash, you don’t need to resort to piracy for something new to play. These days, there are swathes of games you don’t need to pay to play. This is either because the game uses a free-to-play model, or a store gives away a paid game.

For example, there are plenty of free games on Steam that won’t harm your wallet. Game services such as PS Now, Steam, and the Epic Store also give away games for free periodically, with Epic doing a unique “free game every week” campaign. It’s worth keeping tabs on them to see what’s new.

If you’re willing to pay a little bit of money, you can get lots of games for a single monthly fee. PS Now and the Xbox Game Pass (what is Xbox Game Pass?) are like the Netflix of video games. You just pay a small amount of money to unlock a considerable library. It’s by no means free, but it is a fantastic way to play games on a low budget.

Getting Smarter About Piracy

“Reloaded” and “repacked” are two terms you’ll see if you frequently pirate games. Crackers use them to tell you more about the upload, whether it’s a cracking group’s signature or an indicator that the uploader reduced the file size.

If you tend to turn to torrenting services for your entertainment, you should learn all about the dangers of downloading pirated games.

Read the full article: What Are Reloaded Games and Repacked Games?

Categories
News

The 5 Best Mini PCs for Gaming

You don’t need a massive gaming rig to play the latest video games on ultra-settings. You can purchase a mini gaming PC instead, packed with the same high-spec hardware as a regular gaming desktop.

So, if size is a concern or you demand portability from your gaming PC, you should check out the best mini PCs for gaming.

1. Zotac Magnus Mini Creator

Zotac Magnus Mini Creator Zotac Magnus Mini Creator Buy Now On Amazon $1,899.99

Let’s kick things off with a mini gaming PC powerhouse: the Zotac Magnus Mini Creator. Under the hood, the Zotac Magnus Mini Creator packs a mighty six-core 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-9750H, along with the 8GB GDDR6 Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080. Out of the box, the Mini Creator comes with 8GB RAM, although this is upgradeable up to 32GB DDR4 RAM.

The Intel Core i7-9750H is a power-efficient CPU with a thermal design power rating of 45W. The 9750H also features integrated UHD Graphics 630, which you can use to take the load off of the discreet GPU for further power savings. The Zotac Magnus Mini Creator includes two HDMI ports, one DisplayPort, four USB 3.0 ports, one USB Type-C port, and a handy SD card slot.

This mini PC is ideal for gaming, but it is also well-suited to other creative tasks as well. The high-performance processor allows you to perform intensive functions like photo and video editing, 3D animation, and you can even use it to stream your gaming sessions. That’s not to mention that it’s capable of handling home theater media centers, too.

2. Corsair ONE i164

From one mini PC behemoth to another, the Corsair ONE i164 is another impressive tiny gaming system. The Corsair One i164’s Intel Core i9-9900K is an eight-core 3.6GHz CPU, one of the best consumer CPUs on the market at the time of writing.

Working with the 9900K is an 11GB GDDR6 Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, backed up with a whopping 32GB DDR4 RAM. One of the things that sets the Corsair ONE i164 aside from other mini PCs is the integrated liquid cooling system.

Corsair builds the ONE series of mini PCs with high and ultra-level quality gaming leading the design, and it shows. The ONE i164 packs in the external connections too. It features three DisplayPort, one VR-ready HDMI, two USB 2.0, four USB 3.1 Gen 1, and two USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Type-A and Type-C).

While the physical size of this computer is inline with other mini PCs, it uses the more familiar desktop PC format. So, rather than a compact box on your table, you can put the smaller desktop tower instead.

3. MSI Trident X

MSI Trident X MSI Trident X Buy Now On Amazon $2,299.00

As far as aesthetics go, the MSI Trident X is up there with the best looking mini gaming PCs. The Trident X looks similar to a modern gaming console, standing tall on your desktop or next to your TV. Throw in some RGB lighting effects and a nicely crafted case, and you have a visual winner.

But gaming is about what’s on the inside of the case. And in the MSI Trident X setup, you’ll find a top of the line Intel Core i7-10700KF, an eight-core 3.6GHz beast. Working alongside the CPU is an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super, which comes with 8GB GDDR6 RAM.

Finally, the Trident X has a whopping 32GB DDR4 RAM, future-proofing your mini gaming PC for the medium-to-long term. In terms of connectivity, you’ll find a Thunderbolt 3 port, three DisplayPorts, one HDMI, one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C, three USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, and three USB 2.0 Type-A ports.

4. HP ProDesk 405

HP ProDesk 405 HP ProDesk 405 Buy Now On Amazon $512.88

The HP ProDesk 405 is an AMD-powered mini gaming PC with a similar style to a set-top cable box. Okay, it is slightly more appealing than your old cable box, but it certainly won’t win any awards, with the black and silver design fitting in with HP’s wider off-the-shelf PC designs.

Powering the ProDesk 405 is an AMD Ryzen 5 2400GE, a quad-core 3.2GHz CPU, which is decent enough. The AMD Ryzen 5 2400GE comes bundled with the AMD Radeon Vega 11 onboard graphics.

Again, the Vega 11 is decent enough but not world-beating, allowing some 1080p gaming at reasonable specs for games that are a few years old. Still, this is one of the more affordable options out there if you’re looking for a space-saving mini PC, but still want to jump into more than a few PC gaming sessions.

5. Intel NUC 8 Hades Canyon

The Intel NUC 8 Hades Canyon is a powerful mini PC for gaming—although you should note that it is not the latest generation of Intel NUC. However, the CPU and GPU combination make the NUC 8 Hades Canyon worth your consideration.

The Intel NUC 8 Hades Canyon uses an Intel Core i7-8809G, a quad-core 3.1GHz CPU, with onboard Intel HD Graphics 630. However, you don’t have to use the onboard graphics for gaming, as the NUC 8 Hades Canyon also packs in an AMD Radeon RX Vega M GH discreet graphics card.

The RX Vega M GH offers similar performance to the Nvidia GeForce 1060, allowing for some decent gaming at 1080p. The NUC 8 Hades Canyon also features one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A, four USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, two Mini DisplayPort, and two HDMI ports.

Which Are the Best Mini PCs for Gaming?

If you scan through the listings on Amazon, you’ll find a vast number of mini gaming PCs. The prices look brilliant—until you actually consider the specs. Many of these entry-level or barebones systems come with a low to medium tier CPU and do not have a discreet GPU.

You will manage some gaming on a machine like this, but you certainly won’t roam the streets of GTA V’s San Andreas on ultra-settings. The simple fact of the matter is that a powerful mini gaming PC, like those we’ve listed here, will set you back a bit more than the alternatives.

You don’t have to buy an off-the-shelf mini gaming PC. If you want to keep costs down, check out our guide on how to build a small PC with the Mini-ITX form factor.

Read the full article: The 5 Best Mini PCs for Gaming

Categories
News

You Can Now Play a Bunch of New Google Nest Games

Google is turning its smart displays into fun-filled gaming machines with the release of a bunch of new Nest games. If you’re looking for a new platform to play games on, the Nest might just be the device for you.

New Google Nest Games You Can Play

Google Nest smart displays already had a few simple games available for them. These included the full suite of voice games available on Google’s smart speakers. However, the new games Google is launching take advantage of both the voice and touch functionality of Nest Smart Displays.

For fans of trivia, Google is launching Jeopardy, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and Trivia Crack. All three games work using both your voice and the touchscreen, so they’re perfect Google Nest games.

If trivia isn’t your thing, Google has also announced Escape the Room. This new game is about exploring different places to find hidden clues. Since most escape rooms are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this sounds like the perfect time for this game to arrive on the scene.

As you might expect, there are also some word games coming for Google Nest. For example, Google announced a game called Categories Battle. This is an exciting game where you need to come up with categories based on a random letter. There’s also Puzzle of the Day, which is for playing hands-free crossword puzzles.

If you want to try these Nest games, you need to say, “Hey Google, Let’s Play a Game.”

The Future of Google Nest Gaming

While Google has announced a few exciting games coming to its Nest smart display, the company has big plans for more games going forward.

In a post on The Keyword, Google states that it will “work directly with top game developers to unlock more immersive experiences that are only possible with the unique capabilities of the Smart Display.”

Even if you don’t own a Google Nest smart display, you probably do own a smartphone. So here are the best mobile games you can play with no data.

Read the full article: You Can Now Play a Bunch of New Google Nest Games

Categories
News

How to Start Streaming on Twitch Using Streamlabs

If you watch streamers on Twitch and would like to try it for yourself, you might be wondering where to start. And while there’s a lot that goes into streaming, almost anyone can get started with the basics.

In this article, we show you how to start streaming using Streamlabs. We’ll also explain some of the considerations you’ll need to keep in mind.

Before You Start Streaming

From the start, you should know that live streaming is an often-complicated practice. The bare minimums to go live are a Twitch account, streaming software, and something to show on stream. But after a while, you might want to add a camera so viewers can see you, get extra monitors or external controls, and much more.

We’ll cover a simple setup here, allowing you to modify it for your needs in the future. While we focus on Twitch, a similar setup should work for streaming to YouTube or other platforms.

Also, this guide only looks at streaming from a PC, not consoles. To stream console gameplay, you can use the Twitch app for PS4 or Xbox One. For a better setup, you’ll need a capture card to route the signal through your PC, which is beyond the scope of this article.

Download and Sign Into Streamlabs

Streamlabs, also known as Streamlabs OBS, is a great tool for running your stream. It’s based on the popular OBS but includes many additional user-friendly features. If you’re interested, we’ve covered how to use OBS in the past.

Begin by downloading Streamlabs, which is available for Windows and Mac. After the usual install steps, run the software to start configuring it.

Upon launch, you’ll see a Connect screen. Click the Twitch icon to sign in with your Twitch account. If you don’t have one already, you’ll need to sign up for Twitch. Authorize Streamlabs to use your Twitch account to finalize the connection.

Streamlabs Connect Account

Streamlabs Initial Setup

For your setup, you can choose to Import from OBS or Start Fresh. If you’re new to streaming, you probably haven’t used OBS before, so pick Start Fresh.

Streamlabs Start Fresh

Streamlabs will use your default microphone and webcam here. Check to make sure that you have a video feed and the sound bar moves when you talk. Change the options using the dropdown menus if needed and hit Continue when you’re satisfied. If you encounter any issues, follow our guide to fix Windows 10 microphone problems.

Streamlabs Mic and Webcam

Next, choose a theme, which you can change later. After this, you’ll see an Optimize screen. Hit Start and Streamlabs will analyze your network connection and PC hardware to provide the best settings for you.

Finally, the software will promote its Prime service. Streamlabs Prime includes more themes, app connections, and marketing tools. It’s $12/month and as you don’t need it when you’re just starting out, just click Skip.

Working in Streamlabs

Now that you’ve completed the initial setup, it’s time to customize the look and feel of your stream.

The Editor and Scenes

The Editor tab, accessible through the camera icon in the top-left, allows you to control the various elements of your stream. Its default layout, shown below, has the stream editor at the top, a Mini Feed of events in the middle, and finally Scenes, Sources, and the audio Mixer at the bottom. You can click the arrow on the right side to view your stream chat.

Streamlabs Default Editor

A Scene is a collection of video and audio sources arranged in a certain way; you can quickly switch between these. For instance, you might have a Main scene for gameplay and a Be Right Back screen for when you step away. You don’t need many when you start, but it’s nice to be able to break away from the main view when needed.

Assuming you picked a theme earlier, the Scenes box at the bottom-left will already be full of different items. Click Plus (+) to create a new one if you’d like.

To the far right is the Mixer. Here you can adjust the balance of all audio sources you’ve added.

Managing and Adding Sources

When you click on a scene, each of its Sources will appear in the box to the right. Sources are the elements that you arrange to make a Scene, such as your webcam video, gameplay, and microphone audio.

Click a source item to highlight it in the Editor above, where you can move it around. Double-clicking a source shows more options for it, such as editing text.

Streamlabs Add Game Source

Click the Plus button to add a new source. In the window that appears with all the options, click one to learn more about it. For getting started, the most important ones are under Standard: Video Capture Device for your camera, Game Capture to grab whatever you’re playing, and Audio Input Capture for your microphone.

Streamlabs Add Sources

There are tons of other options here; some of the Standard ones can come in handy, like Image for a border or other static image. Streamlabs also includes a bunch of Widgets to display information on your stream, like follower goals, a chatbox, or alerts for new events. You can add these later when you start to grow your audience, but they’re not essential at first.

Customizing the Editor

If you don’t like how the Editor is laid out by default, you can change it. Click the Layout Editor at the bottom-left of Streamlabs (it looks like four squares). Here you can pick from a variety of layout options, then drag and drop panels from the left side as you like.

Streamlabs Change Editor Layout

Streamlabs Options

Once you’re familiar with the basic layout, you should review a couple of Streamlabs options before it’s time to go live. Click the Settings gear at the bottom-left to open the options panel. You don’t need to worry about most of these options at first, but there are a few worth checking.

On the General tab, keep Confirm stream title and game before going live enabled. That way, you won’t accidentally start streaming with information from last time and confuse your viewers. It’s also wise to enable Show confirmation dialog when starting streams and the companion option for stopping streams to prevent accidents.

Streamlabs General Settings

Under Video, you can change the bitrate that you send to Twitch. For newcomers, leaving this on Simple is fine. Higher Video bitrate means better quality, but it’s harder to keep stable. Start with the default, see how your stream looks, and adjust as needed.

If you have a powerful dedicated graphics card or a weaker CPU, leave Encoder as Hardware to let your GPU do the heavy lifting. Otherwise, you may have better results using Software, but your CPU will have to work harder.

Streamlabs Output Settings

Use the Video tab to manage your output quality. The Base (Canvas) Resolution should match your monitor’s resolution, but consider dropping the Output (Scaled) Resolution to 1280×720 unless you have a fast internet upload speed and a powerful computer. Streaming at 1080p is much more intensive than 720p, and the latter is decent enough when starting out.

Streamlabs Video Options

The Hotkeys section lets you define keyboard shortcuts for all kinds of actions, but you’ll probably have to play around with it for a while to see which ones make sense for you.

Starting Your First Stream

When you’re ready to start your first stream, here’s a quick checklist of what you need to have set up:

  • At least one Scene to show viewers. Having multiple scenes is useful if you don’t want to immediately start playing a game, or need an intermission screen.
  • Your webcam, microphone, and game capture set up as sources. Other items, like borders and widgets, are optional.
  • A game running to capture.

When you have all of these elements ready, use the editor to make sure everything is arranged how you want. It shows a live preview, so start your game and do a test run before you go live.

Streamlabs Testing Editor

To start a broadcast, click Go Live in the bottom-right. Streamlabs provides a place for you to set your stream Title, add the Game you’re playing, and set Tags. Twitch tags let you specify the kind of game you’re playing or the playthrough style, such as Playing with Viewers, No Spoilers, and Casual Playthrough.

Use the Connect to Twitter button to tweet that you’re live, and check Use optimized encoder settings if you want Streamlabs to adjust those settings for best performance. When you’re ready, click Confirm and Go Live and you’ll be streaming live!

Streamlabs Go Live

Advanced Streamlabs Tools: Cloudbot and More

We’ve looked at the essentials for streaming here, but Streamlabs offers a lot more when you get more comfortable. In the top-left, you’ll find the Themes and Apps sections. Most of these are only available with a Streamlabs Prime subscription, which is worth considering down the road. We also brought up the source Widgets before.

However, there are a few other advanced points worth mentioning.

Cloudbot

One free feature certainly worth setting up is Cloudbot, also at the top-left menu. As its name suggests, Cloudbot is a bot that provides tons of extra functionality to your stream.

On the Mod Tools tab, you can set up Cloudbot to filter certain messages, such as ones in all caps or those containing certain words. The Commands page is also quite useful; this allows you to specify snippets of text that result in a specific action.

Streamlabs Cloudbot

For example, you could set up a !yt command that automatically links to your YouTube channel when entered. These can give viewers a way to feel more involved, while also allowing you to set up quick responses to common questions.

There’s a whole lot more to discover in Cloudbot, but the above two panels should get you started. Make sure to enable the Cloudbot slider on the page and type /mod streamlabs in your chat to give the bot moderator permissions.

The Dashboard

Click the Dashboard icon near the bottom-left (it looks like a speedometer) to open your Streamlabs profile on the web. Here, you can view analytics from past streams, complete some tasks to flesh out your account, link your PayPal for donations, and much more.

Have a look around the dashboard if you’re looking for something that’s not in the desktop software. In particular, the University section is full of useful tutorials.

You Can Now Start Streaming on Twitch!

We’ve given you a quick overview of how to start streaming on Twitch using Streamlabs. There’s a lot more to learn as you grow, like mastering scenes, using widgets, and adding more commands. But for your first few streams, this walkthrough should suffice.

Streaming is challenging, but also rewarding once you start building an audience. There’s a lot you can do with it, so we hope you have fun whatever direction you take it in.

For the next steps, check out our guide detailing how to build your streaming audience.

Read the full article: How to Start Streaming on Twitch Using Streamlabs

Categories
News

The 4 Best Free Dominoes Games to Play Online

Dominoes is a type of turn-based tile game that has been around for a very long time. Each deck of dominoes has a collection of tiles marked with spots that correspond to different moves that you can make in a game.

There are also multiple, different domino games that you can play with a deck—just like you can with a deck of cards.

In the current era, the popularity of dominoes has continued. Now, you can play game of dominoes online as well. With that in mind, here’s a list of free dominoes games that you can play online, either on your phone or in a web browser.

1. Agame.com – Domino Games

Free Dominoes Game Online Agame.Com

As a large website devoted to casual apps, Agame.com has tried to bill itself as one of the principal places where you can “try many of the world’s best free online games.”

On Agame.com, the genres range from racing games and simulators, to board games like checkers. They also have a section devoted to dominoes, which we’ve explored in depth.

In the dominoes section, you can find lots of different apps, ranging from Block to Deluxe. Each of these games is free-to-play, and you can try them out at whatever speed you desire. Overall, we found these games enjoyable, although the interface for them was not the most responsive. There are also a lot of ads.

Basically, if you want to play a dominoes game online, Agame.com is free, easy, and can be accessed in your browser. Best of all, if you tire of dominoes, you can quickly try playing another genre on the website. It’s a great way to spend some time on a lazy weekend afternoon.

NB: Some of these games require Adobe Flash, but not all.

2. Playdrift – Dominoes

Playdrift Domino Screen

Playdrift is another website that allows you to play dominoes online, either with an account or as a “Singleplayer” guest facing off against a bot. If you’re a casual player looking to breeze your way through a short period of boredom, then playing as a guest is really all you need.

When playing in single-player mode:

  • You can choose between the games All-Fives, All-Threes, Draw, or Block.
  • You can also choose the number of “players” involved in a game, ranging from two to four.
  • There are a few other options that you can adjust, like how many points you need to score before you win a game.

Once all of these options are settled, you can start playing.

Additionally, the interface is responsive to your screen size, so you can resize Playdrift in one window while doing something simultaneously in another. As it is not a timed game, this means you can leave it alone for hours, and take your turns at your leisure.

Another major upside to using Playdrift is that it has far fewer ads than a site like Agame.com. These ads can and do disrupt your gameplay if there are too many of them at a time, so it’s good that Playdrift avoids this.

Overall, the website is engaging and user-friendly. Other than that—if you’re looking for additional, slow-moving, casual games with a user-friendly interface—here’s a list of the best classic board game apps for your phone.

3. Dominoes

Dominoes App Placing a Tile

Are you sick of browser games? Would you rather have your casual apps “to-go”? Then you need to download Dominoes, a game for Android and iOS.

To play, just open the app on your phone, Click New Game, then choose the settings for the game (i.e. first move, difficulty levels, starting hand, and win points). Then you’re set.

Some really cool features from this game that may make it preferable to playing dominoes in your browser:

  • When you want to play a domino piece—and you have several different options to do so—just tap on the available dominoes in your deck. You should be shown green, yellow, and red “circles” where you can place your pieces on the board game. You’ll also see how many points each of these individual placements can award you.
  • You can change the setting, texture, and color of your board game, along with the dominoes on it.
  • If you click on the link More Games, it will take you to a page to play a Mexican Train Dominoes game online. Mexican Train is a version of dominoes. In it, you have to create a chain out of each tile that you lay down.

Overall, Dominoes is a fun, casual app to try out.

Download: Dominoes for Android | iOS (Free)

4. Dominoes Jogatina

Are you looking for a mobile dominoes option that is a bit flashier? If so, Dominoes Jogatina is another gaming app for Android and iOS. It’s free to play with a subscription available.

When you download the app, you can create an account, or play free as a guest. Additionally, there’s an option to upgrade to a VIP account, if you want to play without any ads.

Considering how many ads Jogatina plays, this subscription might be something that folks should look into. This is especially true if you play the game all of the time.

Despite the frequent ads, Jogatina is a slick-looking app that is actually lots of fun to play. The different domino games that you can try out include Draw, Block, and All Fives. You can play against users or bots, too.

When all is said and done, Jogatina is a good distraction for anyone who prefers to play on their phone. It’s also a good app if you don’t mind paying a bit of extra money to get an enhanced experience.

Download: Dominoes Jogatina for Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)

Play a Free Game of Dominoes Online

Dominoes is a fun game to play, and it’s fairly simple. After all, if you’re just looking for something casual to do to pass the time—whether you’re tied to your desk or on-the-go—then one of these websites or apps should do the trick. Even if you’ve never played dominoes before, it will make it easy for you to learn.

If you’re looking for more casual games to try out, and your heart isn’t set on dominoes, then read up on the mobile gaming hidden gems everyone should play.

Read the full article: The 4 Best Free Dominoes Games to Play Online

Categories
News

You Can Now Play Google Stadia Games Using Mobile Data

Google is launching a new Stadia Experiment that will let you to stream your games over a mobile data connection. The company announced the new feature on the Stadia Community Blog.

Adding mobile data is a significant change, as the game streaming service previously only worked when connected to a home internet connection. And being able to play games on the go opens up lots of new options for players.

Stadia may not have set the gaming world on fire in the way Google hoped it would, but that’s not stopping the company from rolling out new experimental features such as this one.

How to Use Google Stadia Over 4G or 5G

While the feature is available to all Stadia users, it’s not something you’ll have access to automatically. Instead, you’ll need to opt-in to the experiment. Fortunately, Google has made it easy enough to do so.

First, you’ll need to click on your avatar in the top-right corner of the screen. On the next screen, tap Experiments. From there, just select Use Mobile Data, and you’ll be able to play your favorite Stadia games using mobile data.

As far as the streaming quality is concerned, 9to5Google estimates that Stadia will use 2.7GB of data per hour, which means it has to be streaming at 360p. If Stadia were streaming at a higher resolution, the data usage would be far greater.

Such a low resolution seems underwhelming for 5G when you consider how fast it is. Perhaps Google is concerned about data usage, but for those with an unlimited mobile data plan, it would be nice to have the option to stream games at a higher resolution.

Unfortunately, you can’t use the Google Stadia controller when playing games over a cellular network. The controller will only work when the device and controller are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. This means you’ll need to stick with the on-screen controls or a third-party controller.

Our Thoughts on Google Stadia

If you can’t decide whether this new way of gaming is for you, check out our Google Stadia review. At the very least it should help you decide whether or not the service is worth your time.

Read the full article: You Can Now Play Google Stadia Games Using Mobile Data

Categories
News

The 5 Best Roguelikes for iPhone: Survive If You Can!

Are you itching for a real challenge on your iOS device? Do you like games that leave you on the edge of your seat? What about games that make you feel nostalgic at the same time? If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, perhaps roguelike mobile games are your cup of tea.

If you’re not familiar with the term: roguelikes are a sub-genre of games that originated from a single title in 1980 called Rogue. Rogue was a dungeon-crawling adventure game that gave players a different dungeon layout for each attempt. If you died, it was permanent.

This means that in roguelikes, every move counts, and even the smallest mistake can cost you. As such, this genre of games is often difficult to play, as you fight to survive.

Sounds enjoyable? We’ve rounded up the best roguelikes for iOS that you can find on the app store. All you need to do in download and install them, and then see how long you can survive!

1. Wayward Souls

Wayward Souls iOS Roguelike

Wayward Souls is one of several action-adventure roguelike games for iOS. According to the developer, “It was inspired by Spelunky, Secret of Mana, and our previous game, Mage Gauntlet.”

The game features a retro-inspired aesthetic with a pixel art style for the visuals. The graphics will appeal to anyone who grew up with a SNES. Developer Rocketcat also upped the ante with a spooky soundtrack that is sure to delight.

NB: You can now play SNES games on your Switch.

In Wayward Souls:

  • Players will find different classes they can play as. All classes have a distinctive play style, with strengths and weaknesses. They can also have pets, which are useful in battle.
  • Since Wayward Souls generates a random map every time you play it, you’ll get a completely new experience through each attempt. Each game has different areas full of unique monsters, traps, and rare encounters.

The best part about Wayward Souls is that there is loot, and lots of it. The weapons and gear that your character uses may also change the gameplay entirely, so it’s best to try out everything that you can.

When it comes to gameplay:

  • To move your character, swipe your thumb across the screen.
  • The key to survival in this game is the timing and precision of your attacks.
  • If you consider regular mode too easy, the developers have also developed Gauntlet Mode, designed for quick play sessions. Getting through this one requires a lot of skill, and it’s probably the most challenging task that you’ll face in the game.

Verdict: Wayward Souls is one of the best mobile roguelikes on iOS, and it’s a must-have for any fan’s collection.

Download: Wayward Souls ($6.99)

2. Tiny Tomb: Dungeon Explorer

Tiny Tomb is another roguelike iOS game. Despite the fact that it’s free-to-play, the quality of the game is incredible. The ads that it shows you are minimal, leading to an almost seamless, in-game effect.

The goal of this roguelike, as in Wayward Souls, is fairly simple: you must march your hero through a series of procedurally generated dungeons to retrieve loot and items, all without dying. Every step counts.

The difference here is that each dungeon layer in this game is tiny, and there are a lot of dungeon layers to each level. This, of course, gives the game its name: Tiny Tomb.

Things to note:

  • Tiny Tomb sports a pixelated art style and addictive music.
  • The game controls are simple, with the option to swipe your way across each screen.

Verdict: While this app definitely gets nerve-wracking at parts, it’s not actually fast-paced, meaning it strikes a nice balance between being difficult enough to be interesting, and easy enough to understand for those who are getting into the genre. This makes it one of the best roguelike games for iOS.

Download: Tiny Tomb: Dungeon Explorer (Free, in-app purchases available)

3. Soul Knight

iOS Best Roguelike Soul Knight

Are you looking for a Nuclear Throne clone for iOS? Then your search ends here with Soul Knight, a vintage-styled game with pixelated art that pays homage to the classics.

The main objective in Soul Knight is to get through each dungeon layer by eliminating all the enemies around you. Even though it sports a pixelated aesthetic, Soul Knight packs plenty of dynamic lighting and detailed textures into the game. Plus, the soundtrack is one that all gamers will fall in love with.

In Soul Knight, the gameplay definitely gets chaotic. While there are a variety of classes available in the game, you start off with one and must unlock the rest by earning enough coins to buy them.

For gameplay:

  • There is plenty of loot to discover and equip your character with.
  • As you blast your way through the dungeons, you’ll come across NPCs that you can hire to fight alongside you.
  • The developers designed the controls specifically for touch screens, so it’s easy to pick up and play. There is also an auto-aim function so it’s easier to hit your targets.

Verdict: Whether you’re a casual gamer, or a veteran, having less work to do means more room for enjoyment. Games like Soul Knight are always a win.

Download: Soul Knight (Free, in-app purchases available)

4. Crypt of the NecroDancer

Are you interested in an app that combines a rhythm game with a dungeon-crawling roguelike? Crypt of the Necrodancer fits this bill, and is definitely memorable.

Much like the other iOS roguelikes we’ve mentioned, NecroDancer features fun pixel art that brings a sense of nostalgia. Music is half of the experience for the game, so it’s important that you have your sound turned on. Just watch the trailer to find out why.

For gameplay:

  • Players will find randomly generated dungeons that are full of dangerous monsters. It’s up to you to get rid of them.
  • There’s a ton of loot you can score, too, which will prove useful in battle.

What makes this game stand out from the rest is that you must move in sync to the music, including when you’re executing an attack. As such, NecroDancer involves hand-eye coordination like never before, as you need to keep an eye on the score’s screen (and your health) while tapping to the beat to survive.

Verdict: Because of the unique rhythm mechanic in Crypt of the NecroDancer, it’s a bit more challenging than other roguelikes. However, once you get used to the controls, it’s an incredibly fun and rewarding experience.

Download: Crypt of the NecroDancer ($3.99)

5. Dungelot: Shattered Lands

Do you prefer trying out an iOS roguelike that’s incredibly easy to pick up and play? Unlike most of the games we’ve mentioned, Dungelot: Shattered Lands does not feature a retro art style. Instead, it offers up fun and cartoonish graphics that suit the quirkiness of the game. The soundtrack is also delightful.

In Dungelot, players get to explore three separate acts with increasing difficulty. The twist?

Like Tiny Tomb, each stage takes place on a small 5 x 5 grid. You have to tap on tiles to reveal enemies and items. To get to the next floor, you must find the key to its door, which is locked.

For gameplay:

  • Enemies will block adjacent squares until you defeat them.
  • To engage in battle, just tap on your target, and they’ll take turns exchanging blows.
  • Players can perform basic attacks, with the damage done being dependent on weapons and armor.
  • Despite having a finite number of acts, areas, and dungeons, everything in this game is procedurally generated. This means that the enemies and loot that you find will never be the same.

Verdict: While Dungelot: Shattered Lands looks kind of simple at first glance, there’s a lot of strategy and planning involved. It becomes addictive to play as you keep trying to do better on the next run. However, it should be noted that this game has not received an update in several years.

Download: Dungelot: Shattered Lands ($3.99)

These iOS Roguelikes Will Keep You Entertained

Roguelikes go in and out of fashion depending on the year, but this repeat popularity means that there are always new options and old favorites to try out, available on platforms like iOS.

If the intensity of roguelikes stresses you out, however, here are the most relaxing puzzle games for your iPhone.

Read the full article: The 5 Best Roguelikes for iPhone: Survive If You Can!

Categories
News

Nintendo Switch vs. Switch Lite: Which Console Should You Buy?

The Nintendo Switch is a great video game console from Nintendo. You can attach it to your TV or take it out with you for portable play. That means you can play great games like Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. wherever you are.

However, you might have noticed that the console comes in two flavors: the Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo Switch Lite. There are some very important differences between these two, including the portability, size, and battery life.

We’re going to explore what the Switch and Switch Lite are and compare the two so you can decide which is best for you.

What Is the Nintendo Switch?

Nintendo Switch Nintendo Switch Buy Now On Amazon $440.00

The Nintendo Switch is an eighth-generation video game console that was first released in March 2017, competing with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The Switch can connect to your TV like a traditional games console by sliding into a dock, but it can also be used handheld as a portable device.

The two controllers, known as Joy-Cons, can detach from the console. This is great not only for TV-based gaming but also for placing the Switch on a surface and playing in tabletop mode. A revised version of the Nintendo Switch was released in August 2019 with an improved battery life.

What Is the Nintendo Switch Lite?

Nintendo Switch Lite Nintendo Switch Lite Buy Now On Amazon $247.99

The Nintendo Switch Lite was released in September 2019. Though similar to the Nintendo Switch, the main difference is that it’s purely a handheld games console. It cannot be docked to the TV, nor does it have detachable controllers.

The Nintendo Switch Lite is more portable than its hybrid counterpart, featuring a smaller screen size and lighter weight. This means it’s easier to slip the Switch Lite into your pocket or bag.

To account for the reduced functionality, the Nintendo Switch Lite retails at a lower price. In fact, many have taken advantage of the cheaper cost—around 30 percent of Switch owners also have the Switch Lite.

Switch vs. Switch Lite: Play Modes

The most significant difference between the two consoles is that the Switch is a hybrid device that can be used in TV mode, tabletop mode, and handheld mode. The Switch Lite operates in handheld mode only. For TV mode, the Switch comes with a dock and HDMI cable, allowing you to place the console in the dock and output to a TV.

For tabletop mode, the Switch has a kickstand that pulls out so that the console freely stands up on a surface. The controllers on the Switch, known as Joy-Cons, can be detached to support these modes. On the Switch Lite, the controllers are fixed to the console.

The Switch Lite isn’t compatible with the dock, nor does it have a kickstand. The only mode compatible with both the Switch and the Switch Lite is handheld, where the controllers are attached.

Switch vs. Switch Lite: Portability and Display

Nintendo Switch handheld mode

Both the Switch and the Switch Lite are designed to be portable. That said, if you favor a smaller size and lighter weight, the Switch Lite is the better option. The Switch weighs 0.88 lbs with controllers attached, while the Switch Lite weighs just 0.61 lbs.

The Switch has a 6.2-inch touch screen, while the Switch Lite has a 5.5-inch touchscreen. Despite the difference in screen size, both consoles output at a 1280×720 resolution in handheld mode (also known as 720p). However, when the Switch is docked, it’s capable of a 1080p resolution.

The Switch is 4-inches tall, 9.4-inches long, and 0.55-inches deep when the controllers are attached. The Switch Lite is 3.6-inches tall, 8.2-inches long, and 0.55-inches deep.

Switch vs. Switch Lite: Games

super mario odyssey

There are loads of great Nintendo Switch games featuring Nintendo franchise hits such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. These games are available on physical cartridges or digitally via the Nintendo eShop, and many support both local and online multiplayer.

All games are compatible with the Switch and the Switch Lite. However, there is a caveat to this. A few games, like 1-2-Switch and Ring Fit Adventure, require you to detach the Joy-Con controllers from the console to play. Since this isn’t possible on the Switch Lite, you would need to buy separate controllers in order to play them.

Switch vs. Switch Lite: Controllers and Colors

Nintendo Switch - Animal Crossing Edition Nintendo Switch - Animal Crossing Edition Buy Now On Amazon $659.95

There’s a sizeable range of Nintendo Switch controllers available to buy. These include different color Joy-Cons, Pro Controllers, and GameCube style controllers. They all work on the Switch and the Switch Lite, though wired controllers will need an adapter for portable play (and is therefore required on the Lite).

The color of the Switch can be customized by switching out the standard blue and red Joy-Cons for colors like pink/green, purple/orange, and blue/yellow. There is also the occasional themed console, which includes a different dock design, like the Nintendo Switch – Animal Crossing Edition.

The Switch Lite comes in a range of colors like coral, yellow, and in themes like Pokémon-inspired Nintendo Switch Lite – Zacian and Zamazenta Edition . However, since the Joy-Cons aren’t removable, you can’t customize the color of the Switch Lite like you can on the Switch.

Switch vs. Switch Lite: Battery Life

zelda breath of the wild

When the Switch first launched, it had a battery life of 2.5 to 6.5 hours in handheld mode. That range is so wide because the battery life depends on the games you play. For example, when playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it could manage only 3 hours.

The newest model of the Switch now gives 4.5 to 9 hours of battery life, and around 5.5 hours in Zelda. Any Switch you buy new should be the 2019 updated model; check for the model number HAC-001(-01) to make sure.

On the other hand, the Switch Lite has a battery life of 3 to 7 hours. For comparison, when playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you can achieve up to 4 hours of usage.

Switch vs. Switch Lite: Rumble, Motion Camera, and Other Features

Switch Lite

Unlike the Switch, the Switch Lite doesn’t have rumble for haptic feedback, nor an infrared motion camera. Otherwise, the internals of the system are nearly identical.

Both the Switch and the Switch Lite have a custom NVIDIA Tegra processor, and 32GB of internal storage, expandable up to 2 TB using micro SD cards. Each console has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, and, importantly, a 3.5 mm audio jack.

Switch vs. Switch Lite: Price

switch tv mode

As is clear, the Switch Lite has reduced features compared to the standard Switch, so it makes sense that the Switch Lite would be cheaper. Prices for both consoles fluctuate depending on stock and demand, but the Switch is typically around $100 more than the Switch Lite.

That $100 difference isn’t to be sniffed at. If you just want a portable console for travel to play all the Nintendo hits, the Switch Lite is a superb choice. However, if you also want the ability to hook it up to your TV, you must get the Switch.

Customize the Switch Interface

Whether you decide to get the Switch or the Switch Lite, you’re bound to have an excellent time. Nintendo knows how to produce a great console packed full of fun games.

Once you have the console, take some time to customize the Nintendo Switch user interface.

Read the full article: Nintendo Switch vs. Switch Lite: Which Console Should You Buy?

Categories
News

‘The Lullaby of Life’ searches for the origin of life through sound on Apple Arcade

"The Lullaby of Life" is a brand new game for Apple Arcade, combining music, color, and exploration in the search for the origin of life.