Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, then start. Sound familiar? The Konami Code, as this sequence came to be known, is one of the most recognizable artifacts of an earlier era of gaming. Kazuhisa Hashimoto, its creator, has used up the last of his 30 lives.
Hashimoto was a programmer at Konami, and created the code during the development of one of Konami’s best-known games of the 8-bit era: Gradius. Anyone who played it will remember the crushing difficulty of this iconic side-scrolling shooter.
Even the developers, it turns out, found it a bit of a hassle to get through repeatedly for testing purposes. That’s why during the porting process from arcade to NES, Hashimoto made himself a bit of a shortcut to make things a bit easier for himself.
He created a special command that would award the player the most crucial items for surviving the game’s challenges. The sequence to activate it needed to be easy for him to remember during his many playthroughs, but extremely unlikely for a player to input by accident. And so he settled on the well-known “up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A” — after which is usually appended “start,” since the code is often entered while paused or at the title screen.
Fate intervened here and the code, which was meant to be removed before the team wrapped up, was forgotten about and ended up in the shipping product. Somehow word got out about the code (who knows how such things transpired in the ’80s — probably it was published in Nintendo Power) and, given the extreme difficulty of the game, its necessity led to the code being adopted by pretty much everyone who bought Gradius.
And so millions of kids who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s learned the Konami Code by heart, though its effects differed from game to game, it generally made things considerably easier. For instance, in the infamous (and still amazing) Contra for NES, the code gives the player 30 lives, which honestly is about the bare minimum necessary to complete that brutal game.
The code persisted for many years and across generations, though it also began to mutate — in Gradius III for SNES the code caused the player’s ship to self-destruct, as if telling them that cheaters never prosper. Even games by other publishers used the code, as a joke or in earnest.
Soon the Konami Code was a staple of geek culture. I myself owned a shirt with the code on it, and listened to a band by that name. It showed up in TV, movies, anywhere an ’80s kid had a chance to slip it in. Even if it wasn’t used by name or with the exact sequence, the code became shorthand for all other cheat codes. Hashimoto had unknowingly created a proto-meme that infiltrated gaming culture worldwide, becoming one of the most widely recognizable aspects of it for decades to come.
All because he found his own game too hard to play.
Those were the days when development teams were on the order of 10-20 people, and the choices of a single person could change everything. These days a cheat code would probably have to be approved and playtested during alpha and beta, and shared with strategic partners for the printed strategy guides well ahead of release.
Hashimoto’s contribution to the gaming world was an accident, but on no account does that downplay his or the code’s importance. He represented the lasting power of an earlier era of gaming and game creation, and accident or not, his legacy is a powerful one.
DAZN named Apple TV App of the Year in 2021 App Store Awards – DAZN News US
DAZN has been named the Apple TV App of the Year in the tech giant’s 2021 App Store Awards, which recognises the 15 best apps and games across Apple’s various devices this year.
This year’s best apps and games offered extraordinary experiences across Apple devices, and DAZN joins apps such as Craft, LumaFusion and Toca Life World in receiving distinction in this year’s awards.
“The developers who won App Store Awards in 2021 harnessed their own drive and vision to deliver the best apps and games of the year — sparking the creativity and passion of millions of users around the world,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.
“From self-taught indie coders to inspiring leaders building global businesses, these standout developers innovated with Apple technology, with many helping to foster the profound sense of togetherness we needed this year.”
For more than a decade, Apple has honored the best apps and games at the end of each year. To acknowledge the impact of the winning developer teams, last year, Apple designers began a tradition of celebration through meticulous craftsmanship with physical App Store awards for each winner.
Inspired by the signature blue App Store icon, each award reveals the App Store logo set into the 100 percent recycled aluminium used to make Apple products, with the name of the winner engraved on the other side.
“To have been selected as the best app in the world in a year where so many of the world’s leading media and technology companies have been launching their OTT video services and apps for the first time is an incredible testament to the innovation and skill of our product, technology, operations and partnership teams,” said Ben King, DAZN’s Chief Subscription Officer.
Apple 2021 App Store awards – winners
- Apple TV App of the Year: DAZN, from DAZN Group
- iPhone App of the Year: Toca Life World, from Toca Boca
- iPad App of the Year: LumaFusion, from LumaTouch
- Mac App of the Year: Craft, from Luki Labs Limited
- Apple Watch App of the Year: Carrot Weather, from Grailr
- iPhone Game of the Year: “League of Legends: Wild Rift,” from Riot Games
- iPad Game of the Year: “MARVEL Future Revolution,” from Netmarble Corporation
- Mac Game of the Year: “Myst,” from Cyan
- Apple TV Game of the Year: “Space Marshals 3,” from Pixelbite
- Apple Arcade Game of the Year: “Fantasian,” from Mistwalker
- Trend of the Year: Connection (Among Us!” From Innersloth; Bumble, from Bumble Inc.; Canva, from Canva; EatOkra, from Anthony Edwards Jr. and Janique Edwards; Peanut, from Peanut App Limited)
Saving the dinosaurs: Startups drive to electrify fossil-fuel cars
You can save your prized Aston Martin DB6, Porsche 911 or Mustang from the museum of combustion engine history. Or your Fiat 500 and Renault Clio, for that matter.
That’s the message from a growing cohort of European and American startups seeking to carve out roles in the auto transition by converting the roaring dinosaurs of the fossil-fuel age into clean electric vehicles (EVs).
At the high end, companies like Britain’s Lunaz sell a “remanufactured” Aston Martin DB6 for 1 million pounds ($1.3 million), or Dutch firm Voitures Extravert, which sells a reengineered 1960s Porsche 911 for 300,000 euros ($337,000).
At the lower end, startups like France’s Transition-One have developed no-frills kits designed to electrify mass-market models like the Fiat 500 and Renault Clio in a few hours for about 8,000 euros. They are betting they can provide drivers with a cheaper and greener road to zero emissions than scrapping their car and buying a new one.
EV conversion is a cottage industry that’s emerged over the past five years, and been turbo-charged by advances in battery technology and electric motors in the past two. The market is largely untested, and several industry players interviewed by Reuters described an exciting, if precarious, scene.
“It’s pretty revolutionary at the moment,” said Mark Roberts, a 30-year McLaren veteran who is now chief creative officer at British startup Charge Cars. “Almost every month there are new companies popping up and you don’t know who’ll fade away after a year or so or who’ll be there for the duration.”
Next year Charge Cars will launch production of 499 electric versions of 1960s Mustangs, built from the ground up using car bodies produced under license from Ford and starting at 300,000 pounds apiece. The company, which initially set out to convert classic cars, has spent five years developing an electric replica model instead.
“Traditional manufacturers like Porsche can afford to screw up,” says CEO Vadim Shageleev. “We’re a startup, so we can’t.”
Established startups like his have attracted attention from traditional auto suppliers and manufacturers seeking technical input as they transition to electric – Michelin, for instance, has partnered with Charge Cars to test new technologies.
But there may be little room for error as a host of new EV conversion startups strive for scale to help them weather the increasing regulatory standards and costs that have begun to be introduced in countries like France.
“New regulations will wipe out a lot of smaller players because they won’t be in position to meet the standards,” said Chris Hazell, founder of Britain’s Zero EV, another startup working on mass-producing conversion kits for Porsche 964s and other classic models. His company will expand to the United States next year.
CLASSIC TO GARBAGE
There are various proposed routes to scale.
Lunaz, for example, sees classic cars like the Aston Martin DB6 as a good start.
The three-year-old company and its competitors at this end of the EV conversion industry aim to capitalise on the world’s large population of classic vehicles, with an estimated 5 million in the United States alone.
Lunaz typically buys a classic car on the open market or takes a customer’s existing vehicle, strips it down to the bare metal, rebuilds it, gives it a fresh paint job, new interior and an electric drive system and software with a range of about 250 miles.
But Lunaz sees its future in commercial vehicles, and is building a new factory at Silverstone in central England, home to the British Grand Prix, to convert more than 1,000 diesel garbage trucks a year into upgraded electric models.
“Classic cars were the lightning rod to get us to market,” founder David Lorenz said. “But if you want to have a real impact, you’ve got to have scale.”
Lorenz told Reuters the company was scoping out sites for a U.S. plant and one in continental Europe, and was considering going public within a few years.
‘THROW THESE CARS AWAY?’
In France, by comparison, the race is heating up among mass-market converters who spy an opportunity in the country’s anti-road pollution plans, which outpace much of Europe.
All diesels older than 2011 will be banned in large cities from the start of 2025, affecting millions of car owners. Paris wants to go faster and implement the ban from 2024.
New vehicle retrofitting laws introduced in the country last year, which startups say require government testing of about 100,000 euros per generic model to be converted, have intensified the need for scale.
Orleans-based converter Transition-One plans to start selling conversion kits for six models including the popular Fiat 500 and Renault Clio for those diesel owners who cannot afford a new EV. The kits consist of battery, electric motor, power electronics, and new instrument cluster, and typically have a range of about 140 km.
The cost to customers could be close to 5,000 euros including government subsidies, said CEO Aymeric Libeau, who said he aimed to produce kits “at scale” next year, having waited for the retrofitting laws to materialise, with the gear to be installed by independent mechanics certified by Transition-One.
Arnaud Pigounides, CEO of Paris-based REV Mobilities, estimates converting a car to electric cuts emissions 60% versus scrapping an old vehicle and producing a new one, in a country home to around 40 million passenger cars.
Pigounides said his company, which offers to convert a range of cars and commercial vans for around half the price of a new vehicle, has orders to convert 370 cars and 1,500 vans.
“The big question is: do we throw all those cars away or do we convert them?” he added.
‘HOW DO WE DO 10,000?’
Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO of British vehicle charging company Connected Kerb, said only “mass market” options in the EV conversion industry could make a real difference to the environment, rather than classic cars.
“The cost of producing a new car is huge, so if you can reuse what’s there it’s a fantastic idea,” he said. “But the challenge is doing it at sufficient scale to actually have a meaningful impact.”
For four-year-old startup Electrogenic, based down the road from Lunaz, the plan to reach significant size is to tap into rural Britain’s four-wheel drive market, specifically the Land Rover Defenders popular among farmers.
Co-founder Steve Drummond said the company was developing a kit for old Land Rover Defenders for 20,000 pounds that local mechanics can install. He added that Britain’s 36,000 farms need four-wheel drive EVs but there are no equivalent new models on the market.
Across the world in California, meanwhile, Zero Labs is aware of the limits of its current business performing electric “restomods” to rebuild classic Ford Broncos and Land Rovers.
The company’s vehicles start at $350,000, but it can only convert around 50 a year – so it is developing electric platforms that licensed auto shops can use to convert classic cars.
“We asked ourselves how do we do 10,000 a year?” CEO Adam Roe said. “Our platforms are going to be our scale product.”
(Reporting By Nick Carey; Additional reporting by Gilles Guillaume in Paris; Editing by Pravin Char)
Apple tells suppliers demand for iPhone 13 lineup has weakened – Bloomberg News
Apple Inc has told its component suppliers that demand for the iPhone 13 lineup has slowed, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter, signaling that some consumers have decided against trying to get the hard-to-find item.
(Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)
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