Categories
Computing

Glorious’ customizable mechanical number pad looks amazing

Sometimes you just need a good number pad for those intense number crunching sessions. Glorious has unveiled a new mechanical number pad simply called the GMMK Numpad that matches the company’s regular mechanical keyboards — and can be a good companion for those with ten keyless (TKL) keyboards.

The compact accessory is made of anodized aluminum and has the standard 17-key layout of a number pad, but also a configurable rotary knob and slider that the company says offers “unparalleled versatility.” This should make it a great tool for both content creation and productivity.

The keypad also features Glorious’ Fox key switches, GSV2 stabilizers, and ABS Doubleshot V2 keycaps. It connects over Bluetooth 5.0 or wired USB cable with Glorious claiming about 76 hours of use while using Bluetooth.

Glorious clearly wanted to make the Numpad more than just a regular number pad. Like the company’s mechanical keyboards, you’re able to swap out numerous components including the switches, switch plates, top frames, the knob and slider, and even the printed circuit board (PCB) itself. Glorious will have an “ecosystem of accessories” that should allow you to personalize the Numpad to your desired configuration.

It goes without saying that the GMMK Numpad is geared primarily toward people who prefer TKL keyboards. Many people choose TKL keyboards as it offers a sweet spot between a larger full-sized keyboard and the tiny 60 percent keyboards. A lot of people may not want or need a number pad, but still desire the navigational keys.

GMMK NumPad next to a mechanical keyboard.

That said, having a separate number pad such as the GMMK Numpad could be particularly useful to use either as a traditional number pad or even as macro keys. In fact, Glorious intentionally designed the Numpad as a companion to their GMMK Pro and GMMK 2 65% keyboards. You can even position the Numpad on the left side of the keyboard for those who are left-handed.

Glorious says that the GMMK Numpad has been one of the most requested products and seems to have delivered on a functional, yet customizable number pad. For those interested, preorders go live on August 16th and begin shipping next month. It’s not exactly cheap at $130, but it could be a worthwhile purchase for the customizability alone.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge’ is a glorious beat-’em-up revival

If you visited arcades in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s, you surely remember the golden age of beat-em-up games. Cabinets like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Simpsons, X-Men and more followed a fairly simple formula: take a popular franchise and have its characters cut through swaths of bad guys, throw in some environmental challenges to keep the levels from getting too repetitive, and top it off with a big boss battle at the end. But the real draw was multiplayer — these games let four or even six friends (or strangers) play simultaneously, a totally chaotic but thrilling shared experience.

Given the popularity of the TMNT franchise, it’s no surprise that both the original arcade game and its sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time were both ported to the NES and SNES, respectively. As a pre-teen, my best friend and I spent untold hours playing these ports, as well as the arcade games on the too-rare occasions that we could get to the mall.

I clearly have a lot of nostalgia for these games, and I’m not alone. Last year, developer Tribute Games announced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, a brand-new beat-em-up title inspired by the arcade games of yesteryear. The game features retro pixel-art, two different game modes, online and local multiplayer (up to six players online), and seven playable characters, including the four turtles, Master Splinter, April O’Neil and Casey Jones. On the surface, it seems to have everything you could ask for in a modern version of an arcade classic, and Tribute’s comments prior to the game’s release showed a deep love for the source material.

After a week playing Shredder’s Revenge on the Xbox Series S, PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch, I can confirm that Tribute absolutely nailed its mission of bringing the classic TMNT experience into the modern era. It all starts with the art style and music, both of which are spot-on for this franchise; it feels like a natural evolution of the original two arcade games, both of which were largely based on the 1987 cartoon (rather than the comic books, live-action films, or more recent animated shows). The music immediately sets the tone – the score by Tee Lopes immediately brings to mind classic 16-bit tunes, Mike Patton performs the opening theme, and Raekwon and Ghostface Killah contribute as well. While the music isn’t quite as compelling as the soundtrack from Turtles in Time (which is ), it evokes the essential mood of playing in an arcade with your friends in the early ‘90s.

The gameplay essentials from earlier games are all intact here — each playable character has different strengths and weaknesses like range and speed, but they’re not so different that you’ll feel thrown by switching players. The core gameplay is still mostly accomplished with two buttons: attack and jump.

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge

Tribute

But, there are a lot more moves than in earlier games, including a variety of throws, slides, aerial attacks and dodges. Dashing lets you pull off different slide and charge attacks, you can grab enemies and throw them right towards the TV screen (just like you do in Turtles in Time), there’s a dodge button that lets you dance out of trouble and there are a host of different aerial moves. And unlike older games, Shredder’s Revenge has unique animations for every move each character in the game can pull off. Even though gameplay between each character isn’t radically different, the distinct visuals for all four turtles and their friends keeps things looking fresh.

As with any good beat-‘em-up, each character has their own special move, too. Unlike in old arcade games, where using a special would usually take a chunk out of your health, these moves are tied to a power bar that fills up as you string together longer and longer hit combos. When it’s full, you can unleash a special move or save it for later use. It’s a good way to make it so players can’t just use special attacks constantly and adds a bit of strategy to the otherwise chaotic melee.

Another way Tribute makes Shredder’s Revenge feel more modern is the game’s story mode. You’ll be able to level up your character over time, which unlocks more health, extra lives and new special attacks. You’ll also eventually get the ability to stack multiple special moves — when you fill up your bar and bank one move, you can keep filling it up and hold two and eventually three in reserve — or you can blow all three at once in a frenzied super-attack. Story mode also lets you re-enter levels to find hidden items or meet the achievement goals for each stage (things like take out 10 enemies with a special attack, or make it through without taking damage). And you can switch your character between levels, rather than stay locked to one turtle for the entire game.

Arcade mode, on the other hand, is for old-school fans who want a tougher challenge. The game is simple: pick a character, and fight through all of the game’s dozen-plus levels before you run out of lives and continues. You get the advantage of having your health bar extended to its max capacity and all your special moves are unlocked — but given the number of stages in this game, it won’t be easy, especially on the intense “gnarly” difficulty level.

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge

Tribute

This all makes for a fun single-player experience, but — just like the arcade games from the ‘90s — Shredder’s Revenge really shines in multiplayer mode. You can have up to four player on local co-op, or an insane six-players online. It’s a glorious amount of chaos, but it’s managed surprisingly well. The game scales up in difficulty depending on how many people you’re playing with; that usually just amounts to more enemies and bosses that can take more damage.

Unfortunately, cross-play isn’t supported for now — Xbox and PC players can team up, but PlayStation and Switch players will need to play the same version as their friends if they want to work together. The good news is that it’s also not hard to get a game going with strangers. It’s not quite as much fun as playing with people you know, but the game definitely feels more alive when you have at least a pair taking on Shredder and the Foot clan.

This all adds up to a game that’s a lot more fun to play than even I expected. Nostalgia goes a long way, but Shredder’s Revenge manages to work as a love letter to games of the past while still feeling fresh. There’s just something incredibly satisfying about teaming up with a few friends and mowing down a never-ending swarm of enemies; that was true in the ‘90s, and it’s still true today.

Of course, it helps if you have some affection for the TMNT franchise, but even if you don’t, the tight gameplay, addictive soundtrack and great co-op features should be enough to enjoy Shredder’s Revenge. And if you grew up playing the arcade games or their home console counterparts, this new adventure is a must-play. That’s especially true if you have friends to play it with, either IRL or online.

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Categories
Tech News

Nikon Z fc mirrorless camera puts a modern heart in a glorious retro body

Nikon has revealed its newest digital camera, though at first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking the Nikon Z fc mirrorless was something from the company’s film-based archives. Thoroughly retro in its styling, the “heritage-design” model is the first time we’ve seen the Z-series embrace a more traditional aesthetic, though inside you’re not compromising on hardware.

So, you still get 4k UHD video recording – without crop – and full-time autofocus (AF-F) during that. There’s the same Eye-Detection AF and Animal-Detection AF during stills and videos that the Nikon Z 7II and Nikon Z 6II introduced, too.

Wide-area AF-area mode is supported, with up to 87-percent coverage, and there’s an ISO range from 100-51200 (expandable to up to ISO 204800). The sensor is 20.9-megapixels, paired with an EXPEED 6 processor, and can shoot at up to 11 fps.

As well as the OLED viewfinder, there’s a 3-inch vari-angle display – a first on Nikon’s Z series models – with touch support. That automatically switches the Z fc into self-portrait mode when flipped all the way up. You can transfer images over from the camera more easily to a smartphone or tablet via the SnapBridge app, and there’s a webcam utility that allows the camera to be used as a USB webcam. A 3.5mm stereo microphone input provides plug-in power for external audio, while storage is via SD.

It’s all wrapped up in a design which Nikon says was inspired by the FM2 SLR film camera first released back in 1982. The Nikon logo is the same as the company used in the 1970s and 80s, while the FM2 donates most of the control positioning, plus a circular eyepiece and trio of dials on the top body.

Along with the magnesium alloy parts, there’ll be six different exterior color options. That’ll run the gamut from the more traditional black, tan, and white, through pale pastels for those who want something more eye-catching.

There’ll be two matching lenses as well, though of course owners will be able to use any Nikon Z mount system glass they might have. The NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) is a compact prime lens, also with a heritage design, capturing at 42mm angle of view and with a minimum focus distance of 7.5 inches.

There’ll also be NIKKOR Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens in a silver-color variation, Nikon says, again to match the Z fc aesthetic.

Pricing for the Nikon Z fc starts at $959.95 body-only, with preorders opening from today. It’s available in Black, Amber Brown, White, Natural Gray, Sand Beige, Coral Pink, and Mint Green, though Nikon warns that the more unusual colors are limited-availability. The kit with the 28mm prime lens is $1,199.95, or $1,099.95 with the 16-50mm zoom.

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Categories
Tech News

The Nemesis DLC for Stellaris is a glorious add-on for horrible people

The much-anticipated Nemesis expansion for Stellaris launches tomorrow alongside the game’s free 3.0 patch. I managed to get my hands on a review copy so I could “be the crisis,” and I have some early impressions.

First things first:Nemesis is primarily an end-game enhancing DLC. But its accompanying free update has a little something for everyone including much-needed improvements to early game scenarios such as making first contact with alien species and a wonderfully-implemented version of Europa Universalis IV’s espionage system.

What’s good: The biggest changes with Nemesis occur during the end game. Players will have several new options in fighting the final galactic threat and, as mentioned, you’ll even get the opportunity to become the crisis.

Do-gooders will get the chance to organize or even lead the galaxy against the final threat and those who fancy themselves the Palpatine type can declare themselves the emperor of the galaxy and rule with an iron fist.

[Read: The biggest tech trends of 2021, according to 3 founders]

But what’s best here is the opportunity to become the crisis. Once you’ve reached a certain level of experience (I’m being intentionally vague here so as not to spoil anything for people who want to maintain a little mystery for their first play-through), you’ll be given the opportunity to work towards becoming the ultimate evil.

As the crisis you’ll set off on a path with goals that include destroying entire star systems with all-new technologies and choices. You’ll, essentially, burn your way through the galaxy until you collect enough resources to power an ultimate doomsday device.

This makes the decision to begin the game as an evil or self-centered species a lot more fun. Prior to Nemesis, I felt compelled to be one of the generally decent species in the galaxy simply because the mid and end game crisis required a certain level of teamwork among species. Now, I have the opportunity to be a monster from day one all the way through to the end. I love it.

[Related: Games to play on date night: Rule the galaxy together in Stellaris]

What’s bad: As far as I can tell, there aren’t any cosmetic updates such as new portraits or voices and I didn’t see any new options in the species creation interface (aside from the option to start with new imperial ship models, which do look pretty rad). It’s possible I missed something, but if I didn’t: it’s a bit disappointing. This would have been the perfect opportunity to introduce a handful of new dark and evil portraits for species other than the Necroid to add an additional layer of immersion for villainy campaigns.

What’s great: I cannot overstate how much the combination of tweaks to first contact, espionage, and the end game change the Stellaris experience for the better.

For the most part, Stellaris has always felt like a really good board game you played on the computer. But Nemesis turns it into something more. It finally feels like the galaxy simulator I’ve always wanted. I have a lot of control over how the big picture looks now.

Aside from the end-game revamp, there’s also the free 3.0 update. Here, the developers have leaned into some of the best features of Europa Universalis IV to flesh out the rest of the experience. In doing so, they’ve recaptured the sense of wonder that comes from turning your attention to a new species, not just painting the galactic map. First contact is much improved and makes a lot more sense, as does no longer having instant access to intelligence about an entire species’ domain.

Bottom line: This is a must-have expansion if you enjoy Stellaris. I think it replaces Apocalypse as the most fun and Federations as the most useful. Veteran players will get the most out of it, but for those new to the game wondering if they should buy any expansions: I’d recommend this as one of the top three you should pick up, with Federations (adds much-needed diplomacy features) and Synthetic Dawn (you get to play as robots) rounding out the list.

Nemesis is available starting April 15. You can pre-order it now on Steam for $19.99. It does require a copy of the base Stellaris game.



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