The Roundup: The Circle & Beyond

ひさしぶり! It’s Jon again, returning from a two-week hiatus to resume the Circle Roundup! This week’s Roundup is brought to you by ninjas, my favorite Halloween costume as a kid.

It’s a little hard to find genuine historical information on shinobi clans, what with their entire way of life being dedicated to secrecy and conspiracy, but one thing we definitely know is that they didn’t wear black outfits with face masks. That was actually an invention of Noh plays.

In reality, ninja relied on social stealth by disguising themselves as farmers, merchants, police officers, and ronin in order to avoid detection and gather information.  If a sentry spots a shrouded figure wearing a black mask, it’s pretty easy to guess what they’re there to do. Posing as a lost servant or new guard acted as a valuable distraction in case they were detected.

Also, a minor pet peeve of mine, but it always bugs me when I see videogame characters carrying a katana with the blade facing down. In actuality, samurai always carried their swords with the blade facing up for various reasons, but mainly because it let them do badass stuff like this. When the blade is worn face up, a skilled swordsman can draw the sword out directly into a slash, something that can’t be done if the sword was unsheathed from the face down position. Samurai haven’t worn their katana blade down since the end of the Sengoku Jidai, when heavy armor was made obsolete because of better and more accurate rifles.

And with that, the Roundup!

The rivalry between Nintendo and Sega in the early 90s marked the beginning of the first console war. Now we are looking at the beginnings of the first virtual reality war. Oculus, HTC, Google, and more are fighting for the lion’s share of this emerging market. Harold Goldberg reports that the PlayStation VR titles, while not the prettiest games on the scene, are definitely the most engaging. Check out his reviews of Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, Batman: Arkham VR, and Here They Lie here.

Nintendo has officially unveiled their newest console, the Switch! The Switch is touted to be a versatile new product that allows players to seamlessly switch between home, handheld, and even co-op gaming no matter where you go. Scott Stein reported on the Switch’s impressive number of hardware features and software partnerships, with a video narrated by Jeff Bakalar. Read (and see) more here.

Disillusioned soldiers, race cars, and archaeologists! Joshua Rivera returns with another list of recommended games to play for the month of October. Read about his top October picks here.

After a series of very red, very obvious teaser images, Rockstar has officially announced Red Dead Redemption 2. The first trailer dropped today and Matt Gerardi has the breakdown for us. In it, you will see all the things that gave you warm, fuzzy memories of the first game —  yawning valleys with winding rivers, distant stars and nebulae glistening above campfires, bison trotting away from steam locomotives, and frontier towns where folks dandy and rough meet to start new lives in an untamed land. Read (and see) more here.

Big dudes, tough dames, and chainsaw guns. Christopher Byrd is an unabashed fan of all three of those things, which is why he really dug Gears of War 4, the latest entry to the Gears of War series. If you don’t like those things, then Gears of War 4 won’t make a believer out of you. It never tries to reinvent the wheel (or in this case, the cog — HAW HAW HAW), but for players like Chris who love the series’ trademark dash-and-cover gameplay and frat-geek aesthetic, it’s a must play. Read his full review here.

And now for news outside of the Circle. . .

Our very own Chelsea Stark has left Mashable! If you haven’t already, please congratulate her for all the great work she did there. She’ll be announcing her future endeavors soon so stay tuned!

KeSPA has shut down StarCraft ProLeague. This is a massive blow to what has already been a grim and uncertain future for professional StarCraft. More than that, it’s a historic event for esports. Formed in 2003, StarCraft ProLeague was second oldest continuous esports organization in the world, preceded only by Twin Galaxies. Read the full story here

Sports Interactive said Football Manager 2017 will be their toughest title yet, all because of Brexit. While the UK will not be formally seceding until March 2017, Football Manager 17 already has a Brexit scenario built in, simulating the various challenges that could hamper fledgling football managers in a post-Brexit world. Read more about it here.

Sombra is a hero that Blizzard has been teasing for months, even before the release of the latest Overwatch hero, Ana. After the anticlimatic ending of the Sombra alternate reality game, players got pissed. Within an hour, half a dozen threads criticizing Blizzard shot up to the top of /r/overwatch and bled over to reddit’s frontpage. Read about it here.

United Front Games, the developer behind Sleeping Dogs and Smash+Grab, has shut down. Sleeping Dogs holds a very special place in my heart. It’s the game that convinced me to continue pursuing game journalism when I was seriously contemplating quitting. It is the first and only western-made game to explore what it means to be Asian American and feature an overwhelmingly Asian cast. One day, I’ll write about it. But for now, read about the closure here.

And that wraps it up for this week’s Roundup. See you next week!

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