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2024-07-19 19:00:19| Engadget

Schim is one of the games I was most looking forward to this year, and I generally had a pleasant time with it. Its a pretty platformer in which every object and living thing has a soul called a Schim. These frog-like critters live in the shadow of their host but can become lost when its object or creature is neglected, damaged or going through something life-changing. You play as a Schim that gets separated from its person, who is going through a difficult spell in their life. There are no prizes for guessing that the goal is to reconnect with them. Youll have to navigate some treacherous environments to do so, but the catch is that you can only swim through shadows and jump from one inky blob to another. If you miss a jump, you can take one extra little hop to reach it. Developers Ewoud van der Werf and Nils Slijkerman play around with this idea in some joyful ways. You might hop between the shadows of trees and animals one minute and use a bounce house to travel some extra distance the next. None of this was incredibly difficult, though it took me a while to nail down the timing of jumps between conveyor belts in a factory level. I found some other mechanics mildly frustrating, such as getting to grips with how to launch the Schim in the correct direction from a spinning rotary clothesline. The game is at its most creative and compelling when it plays around with inconsistent light sources and distended and disappearing shadows. There are some inventive ideas here, many of which are executed flawlessly. While theres a fundamental joyfulness to Schim (which is styled as SCHiM), theres a surprisingly affecting narrative that touches on mental health concerns and how regular folks struggle to get by. Unfortunately, I felt that Schim was too repetitive overall. It doesnt quite do enough with its core mechanic, and. tThere were too many stages set in urban environments with too similar objects to jump between. This bogged down what could have been a tighter and more rewarding experience. By the halfway point, I was more than ready for the Schim to reconnect with its human not a great sign for a game that only takes about three hours to finish. My main takeaway will be the impeccable aesthetics. Each stage uses a couple of main colors and various shades of black to denote the shadows, objects and characters. The music, animations and backgrounds combine in gorgeous fashion. It often felt like I was playing a piece of living art. The visuals make for true lockscreen material and speak to the beauty that can emerge from minimalist, stylized renderings. There are a ton of great ideas in Schim, which has a touching and rewarding ending. I just wish the journey to get there was more consistently enjoyable. Schim is out now on PC, PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch. (It runs smoothly on Steam Deck too.)This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/schim-is-an-inventive-beautiful-platformer-thats-just-a-little-too-repetitive-170019349.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising


2024-07-19 18:40:36| Engadget

Mario and Donkey Kong have been rivals, frenemies, go-kart competitors and tennis partners. The Italian plumber once kidnapped Donkey Kongs son. DK once, uh, took over Marios toy company (?) and stole a bunch of little figurines for some reason. They have history. What they havent done, however, is appear as playable characters in one anothers platforming adventures. Thanks to a nifty bit of hacking, that just changed. Mario is a playable character in a hacked version of the SNES classic Donkey Kong Country, due to a ROM programmer called RainbowSprinklez. Its appropriately named DKC X Mario and this is not a simple sprite swap. We wouldnt waste your time with that. Mario had to be completely engineered into the game, as his moveset doesnt exist in the original code. Donkey Kong is a lumbering beast. He doesnt spin around, double jump and carry items. Check out the video and prepare to be impressed. This is a Mario that has been pulled from Super Mario World, with regard to both sprites and controls. There are mushrooms to make him grow, fire flowers and, of course, everyones favorite dino-thingie Yoshi. Otherwise, this is Donkey Kong Country. The levels are the same. The enemies, consisting primarily of King K. Rool and his army of Kremlings, are the same. If you're really familiar with the layout of the original DKC, this could be a way to breathe some new life into the ancient platformer. The music also looks to be altered, replacing the original tracks with songs from Mario, Zelda and Mega Man games. RainbowSprinklez wrote that the hack was "made for no other reason than I like Mario" in a document released alongside the ROM. You can download the whole thing right here to give it a go, and this should probably be done sooner than later. Nintendo isnt shy about sicking lawyers on projects like this.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/a-nifty-hack-made-mario-a-playable-character-in-1994s-donkey-kong-country-164036806.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising


2024-07-19 16:47:54| Engadget

NASA and the European Space Agency have released an image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope of a dwarf irregular galaxy that they admit looked "unexciting" at first glance. However, there's more going on than might initially meet the eye. The agencies say that a great deal of research is going into the "complicated structure" of NGC 5238, which is 14.5 million light-years away in the Canes Venatici constellation. In fact, astronomers believe the distribution of stars in NGC 5238 may have been distorted after it swallowed up another galaxy. They reckon that due to NGC 5238's star population (which Hubble is adept at helping to image), it had a "close encounter" with another galaxy perhaps as recently as a billion years ago. But since there isn't a galaxy close enough to have distorted the star distribution in this fashion, it's more likely that NGC 5238 merged with a smaller galaxy. Along with hosting many stars, the galaxy is home to globular clusters, which NASA describes as "glowing, bright spots both inside and around the galaxy swarmed by even more stars." Astronomers plan to dig deep into the data to learn about NGC 5238's past. If they find groups of stars that have different properties from most of the galaxy's other stars, that's a clear indication that a merger has occurred. They'll also try to determine whether there was a "burst of star formation" that suddenly took place after the galaxies would have come together. NASA notes that a dwarf irregular galaxy merging with a smaller satellite galaxy is just the kind of thing that could have spurred galaxy assembly in the early era of our universe. As such, the agency says that the data Hubble captured from NGC 5238 may help researchers to test fundamental ideas about the evolution of the universe.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/why-an-unexciting-galaxy-could-provide-clues-about-the-universes-evolution-144754342.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising


2024-07-19 16:01:29| Engadget

No one has been making foldable phones longer than Samsung. And for the first few years, the sheer number of improvements we got on the Galaxy Z Fold line meant it didnt really have any competition. But more recently, the pace of innovation has slowed while new challengers like the OnePlus Open and Pixel Fold have arrived. Now for 2024, Samsung has reinforced the Galaxy Z Fold 6 with a stronger but significantly lighter frame, a new ultra-wide-angle camera and a bunch of AI-powered tools. Unfortunately, not much else has changed, leaving us with a very iterative upgrade. So while the Galaxy Z Fold 6 remains the best all-around big foldable on the market, it feels like complacency is eroding Samsungs lead among flagship flexible phones. Design and displays: Tweaked dimensions with even brighter screens After eliminating the gap between the screen (when closed) on last years phone, Samsung has adjusted the Galaxy Z Fold 6s dimensions again for 2024. But the changes are so small you have to measure them in millimeters. When closed, the phone is just over one millimeter thinner and when you open it up (in portrait), the main screen is 2.7mm wider but one millimeter shorter. Its not a ton, but you do get a little more room for activities. And of course this also affects the exterior Cover Display, which is about 1mm wider as well just enough to make using its on-screen keyboard more forgiving. Elsewhere, the entire phone is sharper, from its boxier edges to the more squared-off corners on both screens. Samsung also says the Enhanced Armor Aluminium used in the Z Fold 6s chassis is about 10 percent stronger than before, but I hope youll forgive me for not dropping it on purpose just to find out. Holding everything together is a new dual-rail hinge. And this time, I think Samsung has nailed the perfect balance between something thats easy to open but also holds its position when you want it to. But the biggest design upgrade is a 14-gram weight reduction compared to the previous model. Granted, that might not sound like much, but now the Z Fold 6 only weighs around 4 grams more than its non-foldable cousin, the S24 Ultra. And on an already heavy phone, this change makes a big difference. As for the displays, as someone whos been using the Pixel Fold a lot recently which has a solid screen in its own right can I just say, Samsungs panels are so choice. Not only has peak brightness improved to 2,600 nits for both displays just like on the standard S24 family, Samsung has subtly shrunk and flattened the bezels, so the phone looks even more like a magazine come to life. And until I see something better, this is simply the best screen on a big foldable right now. Performance: Expectedly speedy Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget The Z Fold line has never been slow and this year we got the same upgrade to a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip as we saw on the S24, while base RAM is staying pat at 12GB. And as youd expect, the Z Fold 6s performance is fast and responsive. Theres no lag when doing pretty much anything and thanks to the addition of a larger vapor chamber on the inside, the phone stays cooler during longer sessions, which is a nice bonus to all the gamers out there who like playing on a truly big-screen device. Cameras: Mostly unchanged When it comes to photography, Im a bit disappointed with the Z Fold 6, not because it cant take a decent pic, but because I know Samsung can do better. For this go around, Samsung has stuck with a trio of rear cameras, opting for a new 12-MP sensor for the ultra-wide lens and its pretty good. But at the same time, the ultra-wide lens is the one I use the least in daily use, and it's not close. Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget The other two cameras the 50-MP main and 12-MP telephoto with a 3x optical zoom are solid, but theyre the same ones Samsung used on at least the previous two generations. In a photo of some strawberries, the Z Fold 6 produced a delicious pic with deep saturated hues and great details. At the same time, though, you can also see the slightly exaggerated warm tones you often get from Samsung cameras. And at night, the Z Fold produced a beautiful pic of a flower in a very tricky backlit environment. The issue is that after Google released the Pixel Fold, Samsung doesnt really have an excuse for saddling the Z Fold 6 with downgraded photography when compared to the S24 Ultra. The Pixel Fold has a longer 5x optical zoom and an edge in overall photo quality. Just take a look at two zoom shots taken by the Z Fold 6 and the Pixel Fold. In a vacuum, Samsungs photo doesnt look bad. But then take a look at the Pixels image. It's noticeably sharper and more detailed. And it's the same thing in really low-light situations, like the one I took of some Bluey figurines, where the Pixel Fold captured a less grainy, sharper and more well-exposed pic. And after being pleasantly surprised with the cameras on the S24 Ultra, its a shame Samsungs most expensive phone sits in second place when it comes to photography. AI features: Fun and occasionally handy, but not essential As we saw back at the beginning of the year, Samsung has brought the Galaxy AI suite it launched on the S24 to the Z Fold 6. And by and large, a lot of the features are the same including things like Chat Assist which you can use to generate social posts or emails while selecting a variety of tones. Theres also support for Googles Circle to Search along with translation and summarization tools. A couple new tweaks for the Fold is that now the phone can translate text in place instead of spitting it out into a big unformatted blob, which is nice but kind of situational. And I should mention, Google Lens already offrs similar functionality. Perhaps the more important one is the ability to do dual-screen translations, so each person can see text in their language in real-time, depending on what side of the phone theyre looking at. Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget Some new additions are the Portrait Studio tool that can create an AI-generated drawing of someone based on a photo and a range of styles like comic or watercolor. Its fun and its good for a laugh or two, but Im not sure how useful it will be on a regular basis. Theres also the Sketch to Image feature that allows you to add a simple drawing to an existing photo and then have the phone generate a more realistic rendition of it in your final image. I still think Samsungs basic AI photo editing tools are the most useful of the bunch, as they make it easy to delete distracting objects or do simple touch ups. But once again, all of this feels more like bonus content rather than core essentials. Battery life: Great longevity but could use some faster charging tech While Samsung didnt increase the size of the 4,400 mAh cell in the Z Fold 6, the phone does have slightly better battery life due to improved energy efficiency from its new chip. On our video rundown test, it lasted 20 hours and seven minutes when using its large main screen and 25 hours and 19 minutes when using its exterior cover display. That first number is even better than we saw from the Pixel Fold (15:22) and OnePlus Open (19:19), so if you need a big-screen phone with ample longevity, the Z Fold 6 is the easy pick. Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget Unfortunately, its charging hasnt changed much. You still get 25-watt wired charging and 15-watt wireless charging, which are both pretty mediocre figures in 2024. And while I wasnt expecting to see support for Qi2 magnetic charging on the Z Fold 6 after Samsung opted not to add it to the main S24 line, Im still a bit miffed that a phone this expensive is cutting important features off the spec sheet. Wrap-up It wasnt long ago when practically every component on the Z Fold line was unmatched by its competitors. But now phones like the Pixel Fold exist, which offers better overall photography. Then theres the OnePlus Open, which weighs the same as the Z Fold 6 even after its recent diet. And lets not forget, both of those rivals are 2023 models. Plus there are Chinese competitors like the Honor Magic V3 and the upcoming Xiaomi Mix Fold 4, which are both thinner and lighter than Samsungs champion. Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget Dont get me wrong, the Galaxy Z Fold 6 is still a good foldable, a great one even. Its got excellent performance, strong battery life and handy features like native stylus support. But it feels like after all this time sitting fat and happy on its throne, Samsung has a diminished hunger for total domination. Instead of long-awaited features like a built-in S Pen or an improved under-display camera, we got a bunch of AI-powered tools and tricks, which are fun but not true highlight attractions. And at $1,900 which is $100 more than last year the Galaxy Z Fold 6 is the most expensive it's been since the Z Fold 3. But I guess that's the price you pay Samsung for having such a long reign on top.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/samsung-galaxy-z-fold-6-review-the-king-but-for-how-much-longer-140129812.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising


2024-07-19 15:00:30| Engadget

Starting on August 23 this year, when someone clicks on a goo.gl link, it could first take them to a page with a warning that says the link "will no longer work in the near future" before taking them to the website they want to visit. Google shut down its goo.gl URL shortening service way back in 2018 and stopped users from being able to create new links. Now, the company has announced that it will stop supporting all existing goo.gl links altogether: The URLs will return a "404 page not found" result by August 25, 2025.  Google is giving developers ample time to move to other shorteners by displaying the aforementioned warning page to visitors over the next year. It will only show up for a percentage of existing links at first, but that percentage will keep growing until it appears for most, if not all, goo.gl links by their shutdown date. The company warns that the interstitial warning pages could cause disruptions and prevent users from getting to the URL they actually want to go to, so it's advising developers to change their shortened links as soon as possible.  The goo.gl link shortener service joins quite a large number of old features and services in Google's ever-growing product graveyard. They include the Hangouts chat app, the Stadia cloud gaming service and Google+, which once tried to take on Facebook. This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/google-is-turning-off-its-googl-shortener-links-next-year-130030435.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising


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