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Smash Bros. Pros Are Finally Feeling The Love From Nintendo

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Gonzalo “Zero” Barrios was the winner of the Super Smash Bros. Invitational at E3 2018.
Photo: Cecilia D’Anastasio (Kotaku)

LOS ANGELES—Paper streamers fluttered down on Smash champion Gonzalo “Zero” Barrios in the red light of a former burlesque theater in downtown Los Angeles. Barrios, the world’s best Super Smash Bros. Wii U player, winked at the camera and flashed a peace sign.

Nintendo had invited him, along with seven other pro Super Smash Bros. players, to showcase Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for Switch, which Nintendo had just announced that morning. Smash is Barrios’ bread and blood, his means of employment. For him, this Invitational tournament wasn’t just a publicity stunt. As Masahiro Sakurai, the creator of Smash Bros., handed Barrios his trophy, it felt like a promise to Smash’s scrappy, grassroots competitive community that Nintendo was paying attention.

“We used to have the perception he didn’t care. Obviously that’s just not true,” said Barrios when I met him in the hallway afterwards, still clutching the trophy. “Sakurai was literally on stage watching us play. What else can you ask for?”

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Screenshot: Nintendo

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s premiere during the Nintendo Direct presentation on Tuesday was full of details that seemed aimed at professional players. The 26-minute-long presentation painstakingly itemized the subtlest tweaks—directional air-dodging, a redesigned “perfect shield,” reducing intangibility on excessive dodging—that seemed custom-tailored for serious players’ ears.

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The presentation felt like a sea change for a franchise that has in the past seemed most concerned with pitching itself to newcomers, casuals, and general Nintendo enthusiasts who love the fact that it brings together characters from the company’s 40-year history in games. But these games are also ones that pros break their backs to master. Unlike competitive games like Street Fighter, whose publisher sponsors a grand world tour, Nintendo doesn’t go to as great lengths to recognize its most competitive players outside of Invitational tournaments like yesterday’s. Behind the scenes at that tournament, the Smash pros I talked to said it feels like that might change.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s big hook is that it will include every character that has ever been playable in a previous Smash game. With 66 characters so far, that’s a lot of match-ups for Barrios and his peers to grok.

“Everyone’s just mashing buttons and hoping it works,” said another competitor, Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada.

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The Invitational version of Smash Ultimate’s roster was limited: From its shortened list, Barrios and his final competitor Leonardo “MK Leo” Perez choose to recreate the 16-bit wars of the 1990s, pitting Mario versus Sonic the Hedgehog. It was a kinetic, quick, high-tension match full of surprise jabs and off-stage face-offs. Perez’s Sonic was slippery. And Barrios’ Mario stuck around a lot longer than expected, racking up damage after patiently waiting for the right openings.

“I think making the game more aggressive is a good marketing decision,” said Barrios. “The faster it is, the more exciting it is and the more people watch.” The back-and-forth was more nimble than what you’d see in a typical Smash 4 match on the Wii U. In fact, the viewing experience was almost—but not quite—like watching 2001’s Super Smash Bros. Melee for the GameCube, which thousands of competitors still stubbornly cling to.

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“This game is like Smash 4, plus Melee,” said Leonardo Perez, sitting in a VIP lounge following the final match. Perez was effusive about the new game and how high-stakes it felt to play. “Whichever player is the better is going to win,” he said. “Except for Bayo[netta]. If you play Bayo, you’re going to win. It’s bullshit.”

Perez was referring to a moment at the Invitational tournament that elicited loud boos and groans from the audience: He devastated Super Smash Bros. Melee pro Justin “Plup” McGrath in their semifinals match with Bayonetta’s near-inescapable, deadly combo that pushed him into the air and off the stage. In Smash 4, the use of this powerful technique is divisive. Smash Ultimate is still in development, so it might be toned down before it’s released, but yesterday, Perez did it, live and on air. But in retrospect, he wasn’t entirely happy about it.

“I could have gone Bayo in the Grand Finals, but even if I won with Bayo, it wouldn’t feel good,” he said. “Imagine if I killed Zero at zero percent.”

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All the Smash 4 pros I spoke to during the tournament were confident that they would switch over to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as soon as it’s released for Switch on December 7. A few said that Nintendo representatives had asked them for their thoughts on the game that day, another potential indicator that the creator of Smash is ready to cater more to pros.

“They had this tournament. They really cared about the tournament. They treated us like gods. They’ve been super involved in the whole competitive process. They have a Twitter account dedicated to tournaments. They definitely care a lot more,” said Barrios.

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“I feel like this is the best it’s ever been.”

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Fortnite Android release date: Latest download news ahead of Mobile beta launch

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Fortnite on mobile is now an established product that has brought a lot of added success to the Epic Games brand.

Not only has it shown itself to be popular on iOS through the sheer amount of downloads, but has also brought in a lot of added revenue for the company.

This is backed up by data that suggests $100 million in estimated worldwide player spending was made in the first 90 days of the app being on the Apple platform.

And while consumer spending on the Google Play Store is not expected to exceed that of the Apple App Store in 2018, it will undoubtedly help bring an added boost to Epic Games.

That’s because a Fortnite Android release date is fast approaching, having already been promised for this summer.

And while we still don’t have a solid launch date for the killer app, recent reports suggest something big could be in the works.

Android game files have reportedly been found in the latest version of Fortnite, which launched earlier this month.

The file names were labelled Android_Engine, Android_Game and Android_RuntimeOptions.

What’s also interesting is that these files are also labelled with a ‘release 5.0’ tag – which is the current version of Fortnite that players are in right now.

So is it possible that a Fortnite Android release is planned for any moment now?

While it’s possible Epic Games could be gearing up for something later this week, it’s more likely that this tag is referring to season 5 of Fortnite.

Epic Games have said in the past that they hope to launch Fortnite on Android devices during summer 2018.

With that period in mind, it seems pretty likely that this will coincide with the Fortnite Android release.

Season 5 will run for just over ten weeks, which will cover nearly the whole summer period.

However, It’s not entirely guaranteed as Summer traditionally runs until September 23.

There’s a chance that Epic Games could wait until the official launch of Season 6 to incorporate Android players into Battle Royale.

But looking at it from a purely technical view, this would seem like a tough choice for Epic Games to make.

Apart from the fact that fans have been waiting a long time to start playing on their Android phones, there’s also the fact that the end of seasons can also see the most server traffic.

Players are busy completing their battle passes, so they don’t miss out on the top cosmetic items.

There’s also the fact that Epic Games like to run significant crossover events near the end of seasons too.

So fans will want to keep an eye on the Fortnite social media feeds this week, just to make sure they don’t miss any surprise announcements.

But even if something is revealed this month, fans should be ready for Fortnite Android beta period.

When the game initially launched on iOS, it was through an invite-only process, which slowly built into the full app release.

And it seems pretty likely that Epic Games will want to do something similar on Android.

With so many players with an Android device, it would make sense that the development would want a controlled rollout.

Allowing everyone to start playing all at the same time would probably cause a lot of server strain and day one frustrations for players.

A beta would also give Epic Games the chance to check for any significant bugs and also help to refine the game for all the different hardware that runs the Android platform.

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Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL codenames reportedly spotted on AOSP

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The much awaited and hyped Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have been in the rumour mill for quite some time. Many leaked renders and supposedly official images of the phone have pointed out to interesting features in the device such as the presence of a notch on the Pixel 3 XL. However, now a report has pointed out the codenames of both the devices.

Pixel 3 and 3 XL.

As per a report by Droidlife, the devices’ codenames “blueline” and “crosshatch” appeared in Google’s Android Open Source Project (AOSP). The report states that “Crosshatch” has been spotted on AOSP back in October 2017 but “Blueline” has just recently been spotted last week.

Crosshatch is quite likely the codename for the Pixel 3 XL as we had spotted in a leaked photo of the device XDA-Developers. This could easily mean that Blueline is the codename for Pixel 3. Google’s earlier codenames for its Pixel devices were  Sailfish for the Pixel, Marlin for the Pixel XL, Walleye for the Pixel 2, and Taimen for the Pixel 2 XL.

As per earlier reports, the leaked prototype also revealed that the Pixel 3 will come in a variant which will have 4 GB RAM and 128 GB of storage along with the obvious inclusion of the Snapdragon 845 SoC. The Pixel 2 did not have a headphone jack and this prototype also shows that the Pixel 3 will not be reintroducing it.

To be clear, these photos are not definitive proof of the Pixel 3’s design and we shall have to wait till the usual release timing of October to get official confirmation.

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Local breast-cancer survivors win 3rd dragon boat world title

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The London area's Rowbust team accepting their gold medals on the podium at the Club Crew world dragon-boat championships in Szeged, Hungary. (Submitted)


A London dragon boat team is now three-time world champions.

The Rowbust Breast Cancer Survivor Dragon Boat racing team competed at the world championship hosted by the International Dragon Boat Federation in Szeged, Hungary last week. The team is made up entirely of breast cancer survivors from London area.

Rowbust competed in three different race categories, 200 metres on Tuesday, 500 metres on Thursday and two kilometres on Saturday. They won gold in all three races.

Rowbust is now three-time Club Crew world champions in the breast cancer survivor division. They were previously crowned world champions in Australia in 2016 and in Italy in 2014.

They are also eight-time Canadian National Champions in the breast cancer survivor division too.

The team has been rowing for almost two decades and they are coached by Cheryl McLachlan and Sarah Shellard, both of Belmont.

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