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Watch: Spinning Blooms

University lecturer John Edmark creates spinning sculptures that come to life when they’re lit by a strobe light or captured by a video camera using an extremely fast shutter. Edmark calls his 3D-printed sculptures Blooms and says they’re designed using the same method nature uses in pine cones, sunflowers, and artichokes. You may know this method as the Fibonacci sequence — it is nature’s numbering system.

Check out the hypnotizing animations created by Edmark’s spinning Blooms.

[via Business Insider]

Friday Timewaster: Z-Type

We know, we know. Friday afternoons are where productivity levels are at the utmost worst. You’ve eaten your lunch, you’ve had some coffee, and now your head is fuzzy from a week of too many numbers. Or colors. Or words. Or graphs. Or people. Darn those graphs! It sounds to me like you need a little something to do while waiting for 5pm to roll around. How about trying this fun little browser-based game that lets you practice your typing and spelling? Z-Type is a shoot-em-up in the style of Galaxian (created by a guy called Dominic Szablewski who writes his thoughts in his blog), although instead of repeatedly pressing fire, you have to type the word that each enemy displays. This locks your ship onto that enemy, blasting it from the skies in a shower of sparks and fire and death and destruction. Glorious!

Z-Type screenshot

Surprising addictive? Yes. Enough to get you to 5pm? Probably. Give it a shot, Commander, and let us know your high score in the comments.

Link: Phoboslab Z-Type

We Review: The Banner Saga (Console Edition)

The Banner Saga (official site) was originally released for PC on Steam at the beginning of 2014, and the game was so incredibly well received that the developer, Stoic, has released a console version of this tactical role-playing game based in Nordic mythology. I’m going to approach this review with the assumption that you’ve not played the PC version, so let’s get all Nordic up in here and find out what the game is all about.

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We Review: Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros.

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros is the fifth installment of the Mario & Luigi series of games, which started with Superstar Saga in back in 2003. The series, for those who have not experienced it yet, is essentially a JPRG starring the eponymous, infamous plumbing brothers (who, in retrospect, haven’t actually done any real plumbing in…years). I grab my markers, my glue, and my construction paper and head for the hills of the Mushroom Kingdom to see what this game is all about.

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Fun Factoids

Did you know that giraffes can clean their ears with their tongues? Or that in the 1800s, opium was marketed as a way to pacify fussy babies? If you like that, then you may enjoy the other fun factoids cutely drawn by children’s book illustrator Mike Lowery.

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Happy Holidays (A Play)

[Scene: Prawn HQ. HIGH LORD PRAWN sits upon his magnificent throne as thralls scurry about, hanging bunting, lights, and assorted Christmas-themed decorations. A fussy-looking prawn stands in the center, yelling orders.]

FUSSY-LOOKING PRAWN: You there! Move that snowflake slightly to the left!
[Enter a large, officious, white duck dressed in military regalia.]

HIGH LORD PRAWN: Ah, Tyrannical Duc! What news from our loving subjects?

TYRANNICAL DUCK: It’s “duck”, lord, not “duc”.

HIGH LORD PRAWN: How on earth did you spot that typo?

TYRANNICAL DUCK: We ducks have very good hearing. And vision. And good sledgehammers for breaking down fourth walls. [TYRANNICAL DUCK looks pointed out of the narrative directly at you and winks, before turning back to face HIGH LORD PRAWN] Your subjects say that we should thank our loyal readers and supporters, and announce the Time of the Christmas Holidays.

HIGH LORD PRAWN: Goodness! Is it that time already? Well then! [Takes TYRANNICAL DUCK’S fourth-wall breaking hammer] To all our loyal readers, supporters, followers, and other assorted personages of varying importance! Happy holidays to you all and thank you for all your support! May the new year…

TYRANNICAL DUCK (leaning in and whispering): That’s “New Year”, lord. With capital letters.

HIGH LORD PRAWN (adjusting crown): Ahem…may the NEW YEAR usher in a new age of grace, wonder, and prosperity…

TYRANNICAL DUCK (whispering): And video game reviews…

HIGH LORD PRAWN: And video game reviews to you all! (Gets in sleigh): On Dasher, on Dander, on Comet and Vomit, on Pluto, on Venus, on Dandruff, and Pe…

TYRANNICAL DUCK (interjecting): Happy holidays, everyone!

We Review: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is the film that everyone everywhere has been excited for, and yet fearful that it was going to be another Phantom Menace. I’m not going to do any clever preambles or intros here. Let’s get straight into this review of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. It’s what we’re here for, right? So, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

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“Uncanny Valley” Blurs the Line Between Virtual and Reality

Virtual reality is set to take off next year. The Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR are all set to debut in 2016. While there’s a certain amount of excitement about it, this beautifully-shot short film from 3dar takes a look at when VR is so prevalent that it has becoming habit-forming.

In Uncanny Valley, VR addicts (much like drug addicts) live in dens, closed off from others, and find more connection to their VR experiences than they do to their real lives. One such addict starts to notice an anomaly in digital sanctuary and decides to explore further…

[via Digg]

We Review: Xenoblade Chronicles X

Back in April, we reviewed Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, a portable remake of the Wii game of the same name, and we rated it quite favourably. Following that, we now have Xenoblade Chronicles X (pronounced as “Xenoblade Chronicles Cross”) for the Wii U, a spiritual sequel to Xenoblade Chronicles 3D. If you enjoy massive games with a huge emphasis on exploration, pay attention. Oh, and transforming mechs. It has transforming mechs. Who doesn’t love a good, transforming mech?

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MS-DOS Games Now Streaming to Your Browser

I’m sure many of you have visited the Internet Archive at one point or another, or taken advantage of the massive library of free music, books, or film. In fact, many of you are probably aware of the Archive’s Arcade Emulation section, allowing to you to play many arcade games from years of yore. But we’re not interested in yorish arcade games right now. We’re after a different species of nostalgia: MS-DOS games. If you’re an old fogey like me, you’ll likely have misspent much of your youth playing games in CGA and EGA, and longing for a VGA. Or listening to the blips on PC speaker and wishing for a SoundBlaster for christmas. Or, hell, tapping away happily on your 8086 connected to a 20MB hard drive and a 360kb floppy drive, and hearing about the wonders of the 286 and the 720kb “stiffy” drive. Ahh….memories…

Gauntlet for MS-DOSIn any event, it was with much glee that I was pointed at the Archive.org’s insanely exhaustive repository of MS-DOS games, available to be streamed in your browser to you (like Gauntlet in the image above). No mucking about with DOSBox or fiddling settings; it’s all ready to play. And for someone like me, it’s pure nostalgic gloriousness. Oh, and a word to the uninitiated: most MS-DOS games are far far harder than the pansy stuff you kids play today.

I’m not sure how long this particular archive has been active, but I’ve had to tear myself away from it long enough to write a post about it—after this, you’re on your own again until I’ve sated my nostalgia-gland.

Check it out: https://archive.org/details/softwarelibrary_msdos_games