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A Best Buy salesman told me he wished Apple made the Galaxy S20 – ZDNet

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s20-ultra-3.jpg

If only….

There had to be a way.

Last week, after I wrote about my wife’s complete reluctance to even consider buying a new Samsung phone, there was a world outcry.

Well, a lot of people wrote to me saying: “I have to agree with your wife.”

She, you see, is perfectly happy with her Galaxy S7, decrepit though it might be. I look at it with grim despair and hope that Samsung has come up with something that might inspire her to upgrade. 

So, despite the somewhat tepid reception for the new Galaxy S20, I went to see the phone for myself. Perhaps if I could feel enthusiastic about it, my wife might at least venture to a store to be tempted. (I live to dream.)

I chose a Best Buy for my latest adventure. There, I’ve generally experienced customer service that’s been, at the very least, entertaining.

The Samsung display hit me as soon as I walked in.

First, I picked up the S20. It’s unquestionably sleek and makes my iPhone XR look and feel like a frozen steak and kidney pie.

The S20 is very recognizably Samsung, but in a way that doesn’t truly differ from, oh, the Galaxy S9. So I looked at the two other phones in the series. Both felt quite tall, the S20 Ultra absurdly so.

It was time, though, to ask the Best Buy salesman hovering nonchalantly behind his counter what he thought.

“I see you have the Galaxy S20,” I began gently. “Is it any good?”

“It’s a great phone. A great phone,” he replied.

“Oh,” I said, somewhat startled by this hearty praise. “You see, my wife has a Galaxy S7 and I’ve been trying to talk her into a new phone.”

“An S7?” he said, trying not to snigger. “Tell her that everything about the S20 is better than the phone she’s got. Literally everything.”

“Everything?”

“The camera, the speed, the screen, just everything. Except making calls, because that’s always the same.”

I was moved by this optimism.

“So of the three new phones, which one would you get?” I asked.

“The Ultra,” he said definitively. “That’s a really great phone.”

“But it’s $1,400,” I wept.

“Yeah, but those cameras and the whole package.”

“So are you going to get one?” I wondered

“No, it’s got one thing missing.”

“What?”

“It’s not an iPhone.”

He seemed genuinely sad about this. Was it merely absurd brand loyalty, something many say has infected Apple users? It felt like a yearning for Apple to create something, in his view, this good.

“So you’re so embedded in the Apple ecosystem that you can’t get out?” I asked.

“I don’t have a lot of Apple stuff,” he said. “But my friends and family all have iPhones, so it makes it a lot easier.”

How painful to be kidnapped by the tech decisions of your friends and your family. They’ll be choosing your spouse next.

I took another look at the S20 Ultra and felt sure it was far bigger than my wife’s hands. Both of them, stacked one on top of the other.

At this point, a Geek Squad member who’d been listening to the conversation explained modern life.

He said: “A lot of these phones, it’s all about the camera, all about the Instagram. Does your wife do Instagram?”

“She does. A little.”

“Then she’s going to love the S20. Hell, she’d love the S10.” Last year’s phone was perched on the same table as the S20, hoping to catch the eye of the frugal.

“How much is the S10 these days?” I ventured.

“There’s not much of a discount on them right now,” said the salesman. “They’re $700.”

But that’s half of what the gargantuan Ultra would cost. And surely my wife might be tempted into a more elevated Instagram game. (Did I mention I live to dream?)

The salesman went further in his quest to help. He tried to see if Best Buy would offer my wife anything for her S7.

“Normally, her phone isn’t worth anything,” he said, as I nodded. “But right now we’d give her 200 bucks for it.”

That seemed eminently reasonable. So surely there was a fly in this ointment of inducement.

Here it was, from the salesman: “She’d have to buy the S20.”

I walked away thinking the S20 was very nice, but the promises it bore weren’t attractive enough. Certainly not for my wife. But it made me think I could take her to see it and then casually wink toward the more economical S10.

My visit to Best Buy made me realize that the S20 is a phone made for existing Samsung owners who don’t mind spending on the latest thing. It’s not quite enough, though, to lure any possible switchers.

The reason Samsung had rushed out its folding phones, I fear, was that it’s desperate to woo away the supposed tastemakers who have iPhones and then hope for a small trickle-down effect.

Still, this was only the first step in my crusade to see if anything could possibly drag my wife toward a new phone. She is, after all, more of a typical consumer and she is convinced a new phone isn’t worth it.

Now I had to see if she’d at least be prepared to see the S20. Or even the S10.

The best time to broach this was surely on our next dinner out.

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Final Fantasy 7 Remake: Essential Things The Game Doesn't Tell You Straight Away – GameSpot

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Final Fantasy 7 Remake has a lot of moving parts and, as such, carefully dishes out information as and when it’s necessary. But if you’re familiar with the franchise, or RPGs as a whole, there may be specific things you’re looking for from the outset. As a result, you’ll probably be asking a lot of questions long before the game is ready to give you answers. We don’t want you sweating the small stuff instead of enjoying FF7, so here’s a bunch of spoiler-free heads-ups that’ll save you a bit of stress.

For more guides, check out our feature highlighting some essential tips to know as you play the game, as well as our PSA on why you shouldn’t skip side missions. Otherwise, you can read our FF7 Remake review.

What Moogle Medals Are For

Around Midgar you’ll often find destructible boxes, and you should make a point of smashing them. Firstly, because they’re puny and pathetic little wooden constructs that deserve to be crushed under the might of Cloud’s buster sword, but also because they can sometimes recover your MP and drop potions or antidotes. More importantly, they reward you with an item called Moogle Medals.

You start getting Moogle Medals from the outset of the game, and you may find yourself scratching your head trying to figure out what to do with them. The game doesn’t actually tell you what they’re good for straight away, but don’t worry, a few chapters in, you’ll meet a character who will swap Moogle Medals for some special items.

We won’t spoil who this character is because, honestly, it’s an absolute delight, but we will say that you’ll come across the merchant in a side-quest. If you read our review, you’ll know that side-quests are well worth doing for their story and characterization contributions, but if you need more convincing, this is it. So, make sure to do them, kupo!

How You Get More Summons

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Whether it’s Guardian Forces, Aeons, or Espers, calling on gods and mythical beings to fight by your side is a key part of the Final Fantasy experience. You could do this in the original FF7 and, of course, you can also do it in the Remake. However, it can be easy to miss the detail on how exactly you acquire these summons, especially since it’s very different from the original and other entries in the franchise.

The first is part of the main story, as a character will gift you the Materia item that houses the beast–there’s no missing it. However, from that point on, things get a bit trickier. The next one you’ll get is in Chapter 6. You’ll spot the red Materia next to a big fan, but it’s maddeningly out of reach. Don’t worry about it, you’ll get there eventually. Continue on with the main mission and you’ll be able to use a lift to approach a ladder to the left hand side of the giant fans and grab it. Just make sure you don’t leave the area without getting it.

The rest of the summons are tied to a character you’ll meet shortly after. His name is Chadley, which, according to Urban Dictionary, is a name given to “a made-up boyfriend, often used to deceive others into thinking that you have a boyfriend so they will stop questioning you or making jokes about you.”

Anyway, this strange mashup of Chad and Bradley presents you with the opportunity to fight for summons’ allegiance. You may find that the first summon he pits you against is tricky, but don’t stress about trying to defeat it then and there; you’ll see Chadley a lot and you can take on the fight when you’re feeling a little more levelled up.

Further summons become available to battle by completing the little Battle Intel challenges that Chadley sets you. There are a total of five summons in the game and we won’t spoil which ones, and although there is a sixth, it’s exclusive to a premium version of the game, which is a bit rubbish if you ask me but whatever.

How Joint Materia Work (For You FF7 Newbies)

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Materia gives your characters a wealth of abilities to work with in battle. These range from the ability to cast fire, ice, wind, and lightning spells, manipulate time, create shells to protect allies, and restore their health. There are also a few that will grant you incredibly useful benefits that may not initially be clear. This is because they require a very specific setup before they actually take effect.

The biggest of these is Elemental, which will make it hurt much less when the enemy sets your ass on fire, tries to freeze you to death, or pulls some other magical nonsense to put an end to your adventure. Weapons and armor feature sockets that you place Materia into and there are two variants of sockets: single, isolated ones and joint ones. If you get a piece of armor with a joint slot and put the Elemental materia into one of those slots, the armor will give you resistance for the type of Materia you attach to it in the second slot.

For example, if you have one slot with Elemental and it’s attached to another slot with Fire equipped, any time an enemy tries to set you ablaze, the damage taken from the fire attack will be halved. As the game progresses, enemies become very aggressive and can bust out high-damage spells, so this is essential to know. Alternatively, if you slot it into a joint slot on a weapon, your attacks will be imbued with that element.

The Magnify materia works in the same way, except instead granting you resistance, it casts the attached spell to multiple targets. So, if you have Magnify attached to the healing materia, it will cure multiple characters instead of just one. It also works the same way for offensive spells, but it’s important to note that the primary target receives the bulk of the damage, and those around them get a reduced amount. Again, this is super useful, but you only really learn this information through experimentation.

The Importantance Of Spell Timing

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Like the last few mainline entries in the series, FF7 Remake is a far more active and dynamic game when it comes to combat. Unlike the old days, when characters were rooted in position and would be forced to watch in horror as the enemy unleashed ridiculous attacks and killed their friends around them, characters in the Remake can run rings around their enemies if they choose to.

However, that also means that the hit and miss system is a little more dynamic. Although the Remake doesn’t make a big deal about it, opting to let you learn through experience, it’s actually really easy to fire off a spell and completely whiff it. Timing is key in Remake’s combat model, so you need to watch your enemies closely and use spells when they aren’t wildly darting around the battlefield, so that you can be sure that it’ll travel and land properly.

Another major consideration that will force you to be careful with the timing of attacks is that an enemy can interrupt you. If you’re casting a spell and the startup animation is long, your opponent could fire off a quicker attack and stuff whatever you’re doing. Given that you’re spending precious resources to use your special abilities, getting mugged off like this will hurt your HP and your ego.

Even worse is if you poorly time one of Tifa’s specials or Cloud’s Limit Break and the enemy is just out of reach, in which case watching them just nonchalantly walk away from your badass, super damaging, cinematic super move will make you question whether you’re cut out for this mission at all. Pick your moments!

How To Really Punish With Punisher Mode

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Alright, time for a few quick tips. These will be simple, but they’re crucial to know and can be either missed or not properly understood. Cloud’s unique ability is Punisher mode, which gives him quicker, more powerful attacks but with mobility as the trade-off. The other thing that the Punisher mode allows you to do is respond to an incoming melee attack with a counter. So, if you’re facing an enemy that is getting all up in your extremely gelled pointy blond hair and trying to slap you about, activate that Punisher mode and start blocking to show them what happens when they try to mess with a former-SOLDIER with pencil-thin arms that can still haul around a sword the size of a camper van.

How Tempest Works (Not Like The Shakespeare Play)

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Aeirth’s unique ability is called Tempest. She fires a crystal at her target that can be charged up for a more powerful effect. However, it’s pretty tricky to use as it has some situational application. This is because the crystal actually takes a bit of time to do its thing after Aerith sends it out.

When you hit triangle, the crystal travels to the target point and, if it connects, it will do a small amount of damage. Then it takes a couple of seconds to build some power and explodes, dishing out damage to whoever and whatever is hanging around. It’s more of an area-of-effect spell than a direct attack thing, so you’ll need to plan carefully when using it. The longer you hold the triangle button down, the more powerful the explosion will be when it happens.

The best times to use this is when you’ve hit an enemy with a spell that locks down their movement, they’ve been staggered and thus are unable to get out of the way, or are being absolutely pummelled by one of your teammates and thus can’t do anything but take your deadly crystals to the face.

The True Reward Of Weapon Proficiency

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At the start of the game, your party members have limited access to weapons, however, you’ll eventually be able to purchase new ones or find them in the world. Each one has a cool look and can be levelled up to become a devastating tool of destruction, as well as bolster your character’s core attributes. Another major addition each offers is a new combat ability.

Each weapon has a special action that you can execute when it is equipped. However, if you look at it on the weapon select menu, you’ll notice there’s a little bar that shows your proficiency in its special action. As you put the weapon to use, that bar will fill and, eventually, the associated character will gain that ability, which can be used whether or not you have the weapon equipped.

That proficiency bar fills up really slowly, but if you pay attention to the little bit of text below the bar, it’ll tell you how you can speed up the process. Trust me when I say it’s worth spending a bit of time grinding whenever you get a new weapon so you can max out that bar as quickly as possible. You’ll want to do it with random enemy mobs that you’re familiar with, as you’ll need to switch to the specific character you’re working on to fulfill the objective and it’s easier if you know there won’t be any surprises.

Some weapons are designed to present a different style of play for the associated user, and this style may not vibe with the way you want to play them, so it’s best to earn your proficiency in low-stakes battles. You don’t want to be facing a boss with weapons that don’t let you play your characters the way you’ve specced them out to be.

There’s A New Game Plus Of Sorts

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As previously mentioned in this article, and in the FF7 Remake review, you should do all the side-quests you can. They enhance the story and often give you some valuable items. However, if you’d rather focus on getting the main campaign finished, but don’t want to miss out on anything, you’ll be happy to hear that you can come back and tie up loose ends.

FF7 has a new game plus of sorts. It’s actually a chapter select that pops up after you’ve completed the story and lets you drop in and out of different parts of the game while keeping your experience, items, and loadouts. The thing to know, however, is that you’ll start at the beginning of the chapter, so you may need to spend a bit of time replaying chunks to get to the bit you need.

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Now Playing: 8 Things Final Fantasy 7 Remake Doesn’t Tell You (Right Away)

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Making Final Fantasy 7 in 1997 vs. making Final Fantasy 7 Remake in 2020 – Polygon

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Look back at the 1997 television ads for Final Fantasy 7 now, and it’s clear that Square had something to prove. The pre-rendered CGI graphics with explosions ricocheting through a dystopian city gave it a movielike gravitas above other games of the time. And Sony wanted the world to pay attention, making sure that publications like Wired, USA Today, and Playboy took notice.

“When it came to Final Fantasy, it wasn’t like the most amazing thing compared to today, but for then it was quite stunning,” says Harold Goldberg, founder of the New York Video Game Critics Circle. Goldberg was one of the few journalists to see the game during a press event at Square’s offices in Hawaii back in 1996, when he was freelancing for Wired.

Looking at the original Final Fantasy 7 in 2020 with fresh eyes can leave many bewildered. This is the beloved game that defined a generation? The characters are chunky Mega Bloks-style humanoids running through a gray and muddy-brown Midgar. Unlike Final Fantasy 6, which preceded it on the Super Nintendo with gorgeous sprite work and 2D visuals, or Final Fantasy 10, which came afterward on the more powerful PlayStation 2, FF7 was stuck on a system where 3D graphics were innovative yet held together with duct tape.

“The character models were exaggerated and unrealistic due to the limitations we had on the number of polygons and the amount of skeletal framework we could rig in a character’s body,” says Yoshinori Kitase, director of the original game and producer of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, in an email interview.

“I was manually animating the character’s performances in the cinematic scenes that I had designed,” Kitase adds. “Back then, character models were still quite simple, so we got away with the comic-like, over-the-top acting.”

Final Fantasy 7 Remake screenshot
Image: Square Enix

Regardless, FF7 left an indelible impact for its mature story, likable characters, complex protagonist, and memorable music. “When the original came out, the Final Fantasy franchise did not have the status in the Western market that it has achieved since,” says Kitase. “As such, we felt like a new challenger with nothing to lose.”

It’s not often that a director can help lead an original creation as well as its remake two decades later. Back in the ’90s, Kitase and his team could get away with using pre-rendered backgrounds and clever camera tricks; the level of immersion expected today has completely shifted the design paradigm.

“The scale of the cutscene department and the environment department have gotten bigger,” says Naoki Hamaguchi, co-director of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, in the same email interview. Scenes in the original, which had been nothing more than text dialogue, have been reimagined as full cutscenes, with voice-overs, camerawork, and motion. “This is why the size of the cutscene department grew,” Hamaguchi continues. “Additionally, since background elements are now rendered in 3D — and players are now able to view everything from a 360-degree view — we needed to design and implement environments with far more fine detail.”

For example, the team put a greater focus and investment on boss battles. It assigned a single designer to work on only two or three boss battles, allowing them to put their full attention on this part of the design. This required more resources and developers, ones that did not exist during the making of the original game.

With Remake, the team created a new experience for players, stretching out the first five hours of Final Fantasy 7 to 30 or more. Now, as players run around, characters will chime in with their own thoughts and quips, making the world feel all the more realized.

“We believe Remake has turned into a game that will bring about new discoveries even for people who already know the story of Final Fantasy 7,” says Hamaguchi. Those discoveries include a greater emotional connection between character and player. In the original, it was impossible to animate faces outside of pre-rendered cutscenes, so the team opted to use character icons with exaggerated expressions to convey feeling.

Cloud attacks in Final Fantasy 7 Remake

Final Fantasy 7 Remake screenshot
Image: Square Enix

“It’s also now possible to convey the protagonists’ emotions through just facial expressions without speech, just like in movies,” says Hamaguchi. “That is why the depiction of the aftermath of the Sector 8 explosions serves as a major foreshadowing in expressing the conflict and struggles the protagonists go through.”

[Leading up to the game’s launch, some fans have criticized Square Enix for not referring to Final Fantasy 7 Remake as “Part 1” in its marketing, since it’s a remake of part of the Final Fantasy 7 story, not the entire game. In Polygon’s email interview with Kitase and Hamaguchi for this story, we asked why Square Enix chose not to label the game that way, and whether the company felt that was misleading. We also asked about Square Enix’s strategy for launching the first entry in a multipart game series at the end of a console generation. Square Enix declined to answer these questions.]

The Final Fantasy series, up until FF7, had always been released on Nintendo consoles, but in the mid-’90s, Square decided to switch to Sony. Where Nintendo opted to use expensive memory chip-based cartridges with the Nintendo 64, Sony went in the direction of discs. A PlayStation CD could hold 650 MB of data, far exceeding cartridges, which topped out at 64 MB. Even then, the scope of Final Fantasy 7 was so large that it shipped on three discs.

The scope of Final Fantasy 7 Remake is similarly massive by modern standards, utilizing two Blu-ray Discs at 50 GB each.

“The Mako Reactor in Remake is comprised of nine million polygons,” says Hamaguchi. “If you consider the complexity that was processable 20 years ago, the level of presentation we can achieve today is tens or hundreds of times more than what we were capable of back then.”

It’s not just the visuals, story, and music that have gotten significant expansions; the gameplay systems have been overhauled, too. Final Fantasy 7 was a turn-based game in its original form, but Remake utilizes a more contemporary Active Time Battle (ATB) system. Instead of having the enemy and player take turns attacking each other, like in a board game, Remake has both parties charging at each other in real time. But there is an element of strategy: The game essentially slows down time to allow the player to choose more powerful attacks between their sword slashes, almost like a game of speed chess.

Barret takes a shot in Final Fantasy 7 Remake

Final Fantasy 7 Remake screenshot
Image: Square Enix

This mode has irked some longtime fans who preferred the turn-based combat of the original game. To remedy this, Square Enix added a “classic” mode, but it’s not entirely what fans had hoped for. The classic mode is the game’s easy mode, where all the real-time sword-slashing is done automatically. As a player’s ATB gauge fills, they can then select from a menu and use special attacks.

“One way of imagining it is that the ‘action battle’ portion assists while the ‘ATB battle’ portion scores a goal,” says Hamaguchi.

Video game remakes are a complex endeavor tied up in rose-tinted nostalgia. There’s pressure to appease fans of the original while meeting modern demands. A balance must be struck between those two forces, which ultimately might leave some disappointed that it’s not the exact game they remember. And, in the same way that fans lament George Lucas’ editing of the Star Wars movies, so too will some protest decisions that Square Enix made with Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

Kitase, Hamaguchi, and the rest of the team have decided to go down a wildly different path from the original game. And unlike two decades ago, every major publication is now paying attention.

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Nintendo game pulled from Chinese platforms after Hong Kong protest – Reuters

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HONG KONG (Reuters) – A Nintendo Switch video game has been pulled off China’s grey market e-commerce platforms, Reuters’ checks show, after Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong used the game to protest against Beijing’s rule of the Chinese territory.

FILE PHOTO: Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong speaks to journalists after being disqualified from running in local council elections in Hong Kong, China. October 29, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

The game, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons”, is a colourful social simulator in which players can decorate their own island and invite others to visit. It became an instant hit after its launch last month and has been used by many players to interact and simulate real-life scenarios while they are stuck at home because of measures to curb the coronavirus outbreak.

Joshua Wong, a Hong Kong democracy activist, took his protests to the game last week and on Twitter posted a screenshot of his island decorated with a banner saying: “Free Hong Kong, revolution now.”

China has stringent rules on content from everything from video games to movies and music, censoring anything it believes violates core socialist values. Gaming companies must also seek licences for the games they want to publish.

Nintendo launched console sales in China with tech giant Tencent in December, but players in China can only access multiplayer connections for games such as Animal Crossing via foreign editions available on the grey market via platforms such as Pinduoduo and Taobao.

However, since Joshua Wong’s Twitter post, searches for “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” have showed no results on Pinduoduo. On Alibaba’s Taobao, some vendors are trying to circumvent the crackdown by directing potential buyers towards listings that sell the game without using its title in the description.

Some Animal Crossing players in China have created scenarios that mirror the real world, with temperature check points and avatars wearing face masks.

Joshua Wong has since shared pictures of his island showing portraits of Chinese President Xi Jinping and World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom at a funeral simulation with a sign saying “Wuhan pneumonia”.

“This is what we do in #AnimalCrossing … maybe it’s why these people are so anxious to go back to the game!!” he said on Twitter.

It is not clear whether the pulling of the game is a directive from China’s content regulator or a voluntary act by politically sensitive e-commerce platforms.

Alibaba and Pinduoduo representatives were not immediately available for comment on Friday afternoon.

In February video game “Plague Inc”, where players create a pathogen to destroy the world, was removed from Apple’s Chinese app store after regulators said it contained illegal content.

Reporting by Pei Li; Editing by David Goodman

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