Shacknews - Bill Lavoy

Sonic Mania released on the PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch on August 15, 2017. Since then, players have been scrambling to locate the game’s Special Stages. These stages will take you to a 3D UFO chase, and once you successfully complete the chase, you’ll snatch a Chaos Emerald for your trouble. By finding seven of these Special Stages and getting seven Chaos Emerald’s, players will be able to go fast by unlocking Super Sonic.

How to Go Fast in Sonic Mania

While we don’t have an exact count of how many Special Stages there are, we know that more than one will often appear in the various Zones and Acts. If you find seven of the Special Stages, and get your hands on seven Chaos Emerald’s, it doesn’t matter what order you go in or if you miss the odd one. You’ll still unlock the ability to go fast via Super Sonic.

The video embedded in this article by Double Barrel Riot shows the player finding seven Special Stages, and acquiring seven Chaos Emeralds in a straight play through that clocks in at under 20 minutes. Rather than write out specific instructions that would be hard to follow, watch Double Barrel Riot’s video and follow along. If you mimic the steps taken by this player, you’ll be going fast in no time at all.

Keep in mind that finding the Special Stage isn’t enough. Once you’re in, you must catch the UFO. This is easier said than done, and all stages are not created equal. Some stages will be a straight race with almost no obstacles to overcome, and others will be more challenging. For this reason, we highly suggest that you read our guide on how to catch Chaos Emeralds. This will provide you with the tips you need once you’re hot on the trail of a UFO.

For more coverage of Sonic Mania beyond how to go fast on the PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, visit the Shacknews Sonic Mania hub, full of articles to help you on your journey.

Shacknews - Brittany Vincent

Nathan Drake's story ended in Uncharted 4: Among Thieves, but the franchise continues in the latest from Naughty Dog: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. While technically a side story, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy has the production value of one of the games from the main series. This time, however, you take on the role of Chloe Frazer in the search for an ancient Indian artifact called the Tusk of Ganesh. Those that have played previous Uncharted games will recognize Chloe and her AI controlled sidekick Nadine Ross, the duo you're saddled with for the whole ride.

Despite my feelings toward Chloe during her earlier appearances with Nathan in the previous Uncharted games, I found a wholly enjoyable and exciting romp that proved to me the Uncharted universe is still budding with greatness here and there. I still don't like her, mind you, but she was certainly good for a few laughs and an enthralling adventure. That's what we always want to see from an Uncharted game anyway, right?

Old Faces, New Adventures

The Lost Legacy takes place around a year after Uncharted 4 and forgoes continuing any plot strands of the previous games. It centers almost wholly around Chloe's race for the tusk against the big bad of the game, a warlord named Asav. In the backdrop is the budding partnership between her and Nadine, who start out as rivals and slowly warm to each other. For anyone who was worried that you need knowledge from past Uncharted titles to know what was going on here, you can lay those fears to rest. Although previous characters and events are referenced, the story is almost entirely separate from the rest of the series. In fact, the Lost Legacy is a great title to start with for anyone who has been looking to start playing through the Uncharted games.

As with previous Uncharted games, the production values are fantastic. The title is wonderfully optimized for the PS4 Pro, and even with 4K and HDR, the frame rate stayed steady throughout no matter what was happening on screen. Each character (especially Chloe and Nadine) rocks some absolutely amazing textures and animation. Seeing how human Chloe looks while walking, running, climbing, and so on shows just how far technology has come since Nathan Drake took his first steps in the original Uncharted.

Killer Queen

For the most part, the gameplay consists of moving from location to location to obtain an item you need or unlock a contraption to continue moving forward. The Lost Legacy has sort of a pseudo open world that serves as a hub which you can traverse using Chloe and Nadine's four by four. When you reach a location, you normally have to dismount and partake in a set piece battle against Asav's soldiers.

I had read that this title was going to offer more options when it came to combat than the series previous "kill 'em all" gameplay. However, the fighting is much the same in the Lost Legacy as in past titles. Shooting and maneuvering feel great, but for a title that seems like it encourages stealth so much, there are surprisingly few options for non-lethal or silent takedowns. The only major options you have for eliminating enemies from the shadows is either a melee attack you can perform on enemies that haven't noticed you or silenced pistols that you happen upon from time to time.

A Bit More Variety Please

Unfortunately, this can lead to the game feeling a little stale after a few hours. The overall presentation of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is somewhat toned down from the over-the-top bluster that came with the previous titles in the series, but the same familiar, explosive set pieces are still in place from time to time. But despite this, you stay in the same environment for most of the game so everything can feel a little samey sometimes. I never stopped caring about progressing, but there were a few times I was like, "Man, another group of soldiers?" This isn't anything new for Uncharted, but it felt particularly noticeable in some areas here. 

The game also clocks in at a lower playing time than the five games that make up Drake's adventures. Most players will make it through in seven or eight hours. By contrast, Uncharted 4 takes around 15 hours for just the main story with extra content and collectibles tacking on another 10 hours for a total of 25 hours worth of content. However, The Lost Legacy makes up for this by costing only $40 as opposed to the $59.99 that Uncharted 4 cost.

A bonus that comes with the game, but isn't original content is the multiplayer and survival modes. These two options are simply the same modes from Uncharted 4, but it's sweet of Naughty Dog to throw in just in case you don't own the previous title. But what really impressed me was the game's immensely satisfying Photo Mode. This isn't a new thing in gaming by any means, and we most recently saw it displayed in Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. It's used, however, to fantastic effect here because there's so much you can do with it. The lush landscapes and myriad of character models offer so many opportunities for you to zoom out and take a photo of the environment for snapshots that look absoutely breathtaking. 

On the other hand, you can use it to take pictures of Chloe and other characters in the middle of some particularly hilarious situations. You can change Chloe's expression, the lighting, what time of day it is, and more to sometimes extremely comedic effect.

It's a veritable treat for the eyes, and even after having finished the game I find myself going back to Photo Mode just to mess about with all of its myriad options. It's by far one of my favorite additions to Uncharted yet, much like with Uncharted 4. 

The Legend Continues

There was some doubt that Uncharted could continue without Nathan Drake, but The Lost Legacy proves the series can march on with another lead role. I loved the previous titles in the series, and although this new one can miss the mark at times, it's a beautiful treasure hunting romp that brings back that same Uncharted feeling.

Naughty Dog hasn't revealed definitive plans on whether or not it'll continue the franchise after Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, but I hope it revisits other characters in the series deserving more time in the spotlight for any additional adventures. For Uncharted fans or those new to the series, this game is an excellent PlayStation 4 exclusive and will make a great addition to your library.

This review was based on a PS4 retail copy provided by the publisher. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy releases on August 22 for PS4 for $39.99.

Shacknews - Charles Singletary

Anime and fighter fans have been keeping their antennas up high for any news regarding the upcoming 2.5D fighter from Arc System Works, the creators of the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue fighting franchises. We have a pretty stout update on our hands with Android 16 and Android 18 joining the roster along with a few details on the game's story mode.

Gamespot sourced bit of news from the Japanese Jump magazine revealing that Android 16 and Android 18, who were major parts of the Android and Cell sagas of the Dragon Ball Z series, are joining the roster. If you're wondering where Android 17 is, he's in the game a way. As of right now, Android 17 only appears as part of one of Android 18's special attacks. This little wrinkle could change, but it seems strange that they'd announce 16 and 18 without including him if he's going to be a full-fledged part of the roster. Android 16 will also be a major part of the game's story campaign which serves as a "what if" reimagining of the anime.

Two other characters, Super Saiyan Blue Goku and Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta, are announced as well but there's a concern about whether they'll be transformations or standalone characters. Goku and Vegeta, as seen in revealed gameplay footage, can both transform into various Super Saiyan forms so this isn't a far-fetched concern at all.

Lastly, it's now confirmed that all 6 of the slots in Dragon Ball FighterZ's 3v3 format can be occupied by real players when playing in online party matches. Best start working on timing with your buds before the upcoming closed beta. Registration was moved from late July to August 22nd but is still targeting September for the beta.

Shacknews - Jason Venter

The Nintendo Switch console has been scarce since its debut this March, so Nintendo hasn’t had to worry much about how to keep consumers interested. Even so, the company today announced a special new bundle that includes the console, a digital copy of Splatoon 2, and a special carrying case.

Planned to retail for $379.99 USD, the Nintendo Switch Splatoon 2 Edition Bundle will be available exclusively at Walmart stores. It also represents the first opportunity consumers will have to obtain the Neon Pink and Neon Green Joy-Con controllers, once it arrives in stores on September 8.

“Consumers in Japan and Europe have already had a strong response to Splatoon 2 bundles in their territories,” said Doug Bowser (no relation), Nintendo of America’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “This exclusive Walmart bundle gives people who have been waiting to buy a Nintendo Switch a great value and incentive to get splatting.”

While announcing the bundle, Nintendo also revealed an upcoming Splatfest competition that should serve as a nice follow-up to the ketchup versus mayo war that completed a short time ago. The event will run from September 1st through the 2nd, and players must settle on the super power they would prefer to possess: flight or invisibility. You can look forward to more information on that competition in the coming weeks.

Whether you already have picked up a Switch and your copy of Splatoon 2, or you will be doing so next month when the bundle hits store shelves, make sure to check out our guides to the game, which include advice to get you started and even strategies for some of the single-player campaign’s bosses. Have you played Splatoon 2 yet?

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

The Upper Reaches of the Lich King's Icecrown is now open, which means Hearthstone players will have three more single-player bosses to confront. There's a fresh Knights of the Frozen Throne card pack available for anyone that beats these three bosses, so Shacknews is going to help out with some key strategies for this week's baddies.

But Blood-Queen Lana'thel, Professor Putricide, and Sindragosa won't go down easy.

(Or will they?)

THE UPPER REACHES - BOSS 1 Blood-Queen Lana'thel Hero Power: Vampiric Leech - Lifesteal: Deal 3 damage.

Blood-Queen Lana'thel curiously has a pair of 0/10 Sleeping Acolytes on her side of the board. The reason for that becomes clear when she opens with the 1-mana Bite of the Blood-Queen spell to turn your Hero Power into the 0-mana Vampiric Bite, which gives a non-Vampire minion +2/+2. On top of that, the Hero Power usage is mandatory.

The idea is that you'll have to use the Hero Power to power up the Sleeping Acolytes. The 1-mana Blood Essence spell will also randomly turn 2 minions in your hand into spells, in an effort to reduce buffing options.

This is a great place to give Quest Hunter a whirl. Use 1-mana minions to flood the board and buff them all whenever possible. Jeweled Macaw and Webspinner should also keep your hand refreshed. The Quest should ideally be completed around Turn 5, at which point the 8/8 Queen Carnassa can wreak some havoc. Blood-Queen Lana'thel has some Corruption spells in her deck, but keep aiming face and this fight should end quickly.

Watch out for Despicable Dreadlord, who can clear the board in short order. If he comes out, dispose of him.

Hunter Deck Used (1) The Marsh Queen - 1 (1) Alleycat - 2 (1) Argent Squire - 2 (1) Fiery Bat - 2 (1) Fire Fly - 2 (1) Glacial Shard - 2 (1) Jeweled Macaw - 2 (1) Raptor Hatchling - 2 (1) Webspinner - 2 (1) Wretched Tiller - 2 (2) Crackling Razormaw - 2 (2) Crazed Alchemist - 2 (2) Dire Wolf Alpha - 1 (2) Kindly Grandmother - 2 (2) Scavanging Hyena - 2 (2) Trogg Beastrager - 2

THE UPPER REACHES - BOSS 2 Professor Putricide Passive Hero Power (Phase 1): Mad Science - All Secrets cost (0). Passive Hero Power (Phase 2): Madder Science - All weapons cost (1). Passive Hero Power (Phase 3): Maddest Science - All cards cost (5). Because SCIENCE!

Good news, everyone! Professor Putricide has reduced the cost of all Secrets to (0)! That means it's time for the Mage to party!

Pack all of the Mage's greatest hits, including Mana Wyrm, Medivh's Valet, and Flamewaker. Also, go nuts with as many offensive Secrets as possible. Leave Ice Block and Ice Barrier at home. Instead, pack up Frozen Clone, Duplicate, Potion of Polymorph, Mana Bind, and Counterspell. Ideally, you can swipe some of his Growing Oozes and use them for yourself. Also, minimize the Professor's own Secret impact by packing in some Kezan Mystics and Eaters of Secrets.

The fight gets a little tougher down the stretch, because the Professor also has a slew of weapons. Put a stop to that with your choice of Ooze or Harrison Jones. The latter will be essential, since he'll provide much-needed card draws. When Professor Putricide shifts to his second phase, he'll summon a 3/5 Festergut. Deal with him immediately, because he'll cause 3 damage to all of your minions each turn if left unattended. Use a removal spell off Primordial Glyph, if necessary.

Professor Putricide's last gasp will involve bringing all card costs to (5) and summoning Rotface. If you have the board presence, ignore Rotface entirely and just keep aiming for the face. By this point, the Professor's resources will be far too thin to withstand a straight-up assault.

Mage Deck Used (1) Babbling Book - 2 (1) Mana Wyrm - 2 (1) Secretkeeper - 2 (2) Acidic Swamp Ooze - 1 (2) Medivh's Valet - 2 (2) Primordial Glyph - 2 (3) Counterspell - 2 (3) Duplicate - 2 (3) Flamewaker - 2 (3) Frozen Clone - 2 (3) Mana Bind - 2 (3) Potion of Polymorph - 2 (4) Eater of Secrets - 2 (4) Ethereal Arcanist - 2 (4) Kezan Mystic - 2 (5) Harrison Jones - 1

THE UPPER REACHES - BOSS 3 Sindragosa Triggered Power (Phase 1): Frost Breath - At 20 Health, transforms all enemy minions into blocks of Ice. Triggered Power (Phase 2): Frost Breath - At 10 Health, transforms all enemy minions into blocks of Ice.

Don't let the useless blocks of ice littering your side of the board fool you. Sindragosa is an exceptionally easy fight once you've figured out her game. The idea is that at 20 and 10 health, she'll turn whatever minions you have on the board into blocks of ice, rendering board slots completely useless, since these ice blocks are unremovable.

Sindragosa will also use the 1-mana Unchained Magic to cause 3 damage to the face for every spell in-hand. So if minions and spells aren't the way to go, the answer becomes weaponry. And if the answer is weaponry, then it's time to call in the Warrior.

Just as with Deathbringer Saurfang, pack the Warrior's best weapons and keep upgrading them along the way. Have Grimestreet Pawnbroker ready to power up the next weapon in the assembly line. Use minions only to trade in to Sindragosa's, because they'll clutter up the field the moment she hits 20 or 10 health.

Use Bash and Mortal Strike to finish the fight and enjoy the card pack!

Warrior Deck Used (1) N'Zoth's First Mate - 2 (1) Southsea Deckhand - 2 (1) Upgrade! - 2 (2) Bloodsail Raider - 2 (2) Fiery War Axe - 2 (2) Heroic Strike - 2 (2) Revenge - 2 (3) Bash - 2 (3) Bloodsail Cultist - 2 (3) Frothing Berserker - 2 (3) Grimestreet Pawnbroker - 2 (4) Death's Bite - 2 (4) Kor'kron Elite - 2 (4) Mortal Strike - 2 (5) Arcanite Reaper - 2

There's only one fight left and that's with the Lich King himself. Shacknews will be back next week to break down the best ways to defeat him and stand tall atop the Frozen Throne.

Shacknews - Jason Venter

Ys Net, the development studio responsible for the upcoming Shenmue 3, announced today that it has partnered with Deep Silver to bring the title to consumers worldwide, on both PlayStation 4 and PC. The game will be available at retail and digitally, with release expected during the second half of 2018.

Shenmue 3, the long-anticipated follow-up to 2001’s Shenmue II, was revealed during Sony’s pre-E3 media briefing in 2015. The announcement was accompanied by a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that raised $6,333,295 USD, despite launching with a more modest goal of $2,000,000.

“I am very pleased to secure this global partnership with Deep Silver, which is comprised of incredible men and women who have a deep passion for bringing Japanese titles to the rest of the world,” said Yu Suzuki, director of Shenmue 3 and the CEO of Ys Net. “Throughout this process, Deep Silver has expressed a deep passion for Japanese games, the Shenmue franchise and its fans—this gives me further confidence in Shenmue III and that we have found the best partner possible.”

Since 2003, Deep Silver has published a variety of games on numerous platforms, particularly in Europe. In that region, it has published major Japanese titles including Persona 5 and Valkyria Revolution, along with various crowdfunding projects such as Mighty No. 9 and Wasteland 2, among others.

“Shenmue is one of a few game franchises that have historical value whilst continuing to ignite passion across gamers,” said Dr. Klemens Kundratitz, CEO of Koch Media/Deep Silver. “We are delighted to have signed this publishing partnership and look forward to utilizing our global publishing network to maximize the potential of this highly anticipated game.”

Shenmue has always been an ambitious project, and it’s hard to say how the third installment will fare in today’s more competitive industry. Are you looking forward to finally spending more time with the characters introduced in the Dreamcast originals?

Shacknews - Charles Singletary

Nielsen Media Research, established by market analyst Arthur Nielsen, has become the definitive rating system for television since expanding into that market in the 50s. Now, they’re widening their scope and taking on the gaming world with the newly formed Nielsen Esports.

Reported by ESPN, Nielsen’s Esports analytics platform will be tracking growth and engagement for sponsors and advertisers. A byproduct of this will be a defined impact for those that question the staying power or longevity of esports.

"There's a high demand for reliable, independent measurement of value in esports," Howard Appelbaum, the president of Nielsen Entertainment, said in a statement to ESPN.

If you’ve ever casually kept track of television shows and the cancellations and renewals of various series, chances are you’ve read or heard “Nielsen ratings” mentioned. A show will live or die largely by the numbers those ratings reveal and esports entities can expect the partnerships with sponsors and advertisers to be heavily influenced by this new division. Esports seems to be experiencing massive growth for now but, as things start to level out, not all rating results will be rosy.

"The global, digital and young nature of esports fan base audience represents advertising's most highly sought after segment, yet consistent and high-quality data has been a challenge to measure and define," said Craig Levine, the CEO of ESL in North America.

ESPN, who took a step back in their esport coverage after losing Heroes of the Dorm to Facebook, is a part of the advisory board for Nielsen Esports along with ESL, Facebook, FIFA, Major League Gaming, the NBA 2K League, Sony PlayStation, Turner Broadcasting, Twitch, Twitter, YouTube, and others. Last year yielded info that showed that Twitch streams influenced the sales of games. It will be interesting to see if esport events have a similar impact on games, especially with 24-hour esport channels in the mix.

Shacknews - John Keefer

Valve has been cracking down on "games" designed to push achievements or Steam trading cards, and a new comment leaked from the Steamworks private group seems to indicate the company is looking closely at key requests as well.

A screen cap of a comment from Valve Software Engineer Sean Jenkin indicates that Valve is looking closely at developers asking for excess Steam keys, particularly if the requested number significantly exceeds the proportion of sales of the game on Steam. "If we are denying keys for normal size batches, it's likely your Steam sales don't reflect a need for as many keys as you are distributing, and you're probably asking for more keys because you're offering cheaper options off Steam and yet we are bearing the costs," he wrote (via Reddit). "So at some point we start deciding that the value you're bringing to Steam isn't worth the cost to us. For example, say you've sold a few thousand copies on Steam but have requested / activated 500K keys, then we are going to take a deeper look at your games, your sales, your costs, etc."

Keep in mind this is not an official policy (yet) and is just being discussed in the Steamworks group. However, the fact that Valve is doing extra monitoring of key requests is significant, especially if it affects legitimate indie game devs or publishers, or sites such as Humble Bundle. While it is likely that Valve's intentions are not to harm those groups, it is hopeful that the crackdown will continue to be on a case-by-case basis.

Valve has made a concerted effort to get the right games in front of its users, talking in the past about changing its Curator system and overhauling how recommendations are made. The site also ended its Greenlight program earlier this year in favor of Steam Direct to help streamline the publishing path.

Shacknews - Charles Singletary

Those with a passive interest in virtual reality can’t be blamed if they’re only aware of the technology’s potential for entertainment, but the possibilities expand to a great number of industries. This latest development from UPS should serve and just one of many examples of this, as the company is now adding virtual reality headsets to their driver training program.

Source: CNN Money

ZDNet reports that UPS’s eight Integrad training centers will be replacing touchscreen devices with virtual reality headsets for simulation of city driving conditions. Those undertaking the training will have to look at a full 360-degree scene and point out any road hazards they recognize. The program will roll out in September and will specifically be focused on the experiences of package delivery drivers at launch, but UPS plans to expand to tractor trailer drivers as well.

Source: ZDNet

The HTC Vive is the only headset mentioned by name in the report but “other headsets” will also be used in the program. VR is quite versatile when it comes to its library of content and can provide platforms that boost efficiency and education for various industries beyond third-party logistic companies like UPS. One can also wonder if brain-controlled VR will find some sort of place in these industries as well.

This new effort will be a positive boost for virtual reality's exposure. One of VR's pioneering social platforms is surviving a premature death knell as well, so things are looking up for VR enthusiasts. 

Shacknews - John Keefer

The Zed horde of Killing Floor is a bit terrifying in its own right. Putting them into a VR version of the game with Incursion is an exercise in soiled britches, nightmares and anti-anxiety meds.

In this version of Killing Floor, the beasties move from London to Paris, but you still take on the role of a Horzine Biotech soldier trying to contain the mess that your company has caused. The game is playable solo or in co-op mode, which basically means for screaming to go around.

“Bringing the Killing Floor universe to VR has enabled us to create experiences and gameplay we couldn’t have achieved in a traditional game” Project Lead Leland Scali said for the obligatory press release. 

Killing Floor Incursion is now out for Oculus VR and Oculus Touch for $39.99. Watch the trailer if you want to stay up really late tonight.


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