Get this QHD gaming monitor with 1ms response time for $290

The HP X32 QHD gaming monitor is a better choice than most of the monitor deals that retailers are offering if you’re planning to use it for gaming, as it comes with features that will help you maximize your investment in gaming PC deals. You can buy it from HP for an affordable $290, after a $100 reduction from the gaming monitor’s original price of $390.

While it’s not as advanced as the top-of-the-line options in Digital Trends’ best gaming monitors, you can’t go wrong with the HP X32 QHD gaming monitor if you’re on a tight budget. Your powerful gaming desktop will be wasted if you’ll be playing video games on an old display, so even if it’s a relatively cheap alternative, this display will still provide a better gaming experience. For this reason, we’re not sure how long HP’s stock of the product will last, so you have to finalize your purchase as soon as possible to make sure that you get your own HP X32 QHD gaming monitor for even cheaper than usual.

Why you should buy this 32-inch gaming monitor

The HP X32 QHD Gaming Monitor with a serene landscape on the display.

Why Buy

  • 1ms response time ensures clear images during fast motion sequences
  • 165 Hz refresh rate prevents tearing
  • Eye Ease technology blocks harmful blue light

The HP X32 QHD gaming monitor comes with a 32-inch display that supports up to Quad HD resolution, which will let you better appreciate the graphics of modern video games with lifelike colors and sharp details. In terms of response time, which is how long it takes for a pixel to shift from one color to another, according to our guide on what to look for in a gaming monitor, you’re looking at 1ms. This means that the monitor displays clear images during sequences with fast motion, and in multiplayer games where a fraction of a second may spell the difference between victory and defeat, such a fast response time could be the advantage that you need.

The monitor features a 165Hz refresh rate, which refers to how often the display refreshes the image per second. The higher the number, the better. To further prevent tearing, which is what happens when a monitor doesn’t refresh as fast at the frame rate of the gaming that you’re playing, the monitor supports AMD’s FreeSync Premium. If playing for long hours is your deal, HP’s Eye Ease technology will make sure that blue light, which is harmful to your eyes, is filtered out, without sacrificing the color quality of the other images that are shown on the screen.

Whether you’re upgrading from an old display or buying one alongside a new gaming PC, it will be hard to ignore HP’s $100 discount for the HP X32 QHD gaming monitor, which pulls its price down to $290 from its sticker price of $390. The deal may disappear at any minute, so you shouldn’t be wasting time if you think this monitor is the right one for you.

More gaming monitor deals you can shop today

Alienware 38 Curved Gaming Monitor showing video game scene, on a white background.

HP’s discount for the HP X32 QHD gaming monitor makes it one of the cheapest gaming monitor deals, similar to Dell’s price for the Dell 25 gaming monitor. You can also go with Lenovo’s price cut for the Lenovo 34-inch WLED curved gaming monitor, but if you want the best quality while you’re playing video games, consider shelling out for Dell’s offer for the Alienware 38 curved gaming monitor.

  • Dell 25 Gaming Monitor —
  • Lenovo 34-inch WLED Curved Gaming Monitor —
  • Alienware 38 Curved Gaming Monitor —

If you’re planning to buy a gaming monitor, and you have lots of extra cash, you might as well think about buying from gaming PC deals. If you want the best gaming experience, you need to make sure that your gaming desktop and gaming monitor go hand in hand in running today’s video games.

Editors’ Choice

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‘Time Flies’ turns the life of a housefly into a cute game about existential dread

I didn’t expect to laugh while playing Time Flies, but I did, out loud on the Summer Game Fest show floor. It’s a deceptively simple game with monochromatic, MS Paint-style visuals and a clear premise: You’re a fly and you have a short time to live a full life in a random house.

There are layers to the game’s main goal, as the fly has a bucket list filled with items like “learn an instrument”, “read a book”, “make a friend” and “get drunk.” Each of these tasks is completed in a delightfully surprising way — for instance, getting drunk means landing on the base of a martini glass and sipping from the small droplet of alcohol there. Afterward, the screen becomes distorted, warped lines making it harder to fly through the house. Making a friend involves joining a trail of ants as they walk single-file through cracks in the kitchen walls. The fly lands on the back of an ant and it can hang out, disappearing into one small hole and reappearing from the other in a continuous, friendly loop.

And then the fly dies. Every round ends with the fly’s death, whether that’s caused by the inevitable progression of time or the player’s direct actions, such as getting too close to a strip of fly paper, touching a light bulb or drowning in the full martini glass. A timer ticks down constantly in the upper-left corner, starting with 80-odd seconds at most, and when it hits zero, the fly drops to the ground like a speck of dust.

The timer itself presents a compelling thought experiment at the beginning of every life cycle. The length of each round is determined by choosing a location from a dropdown menu of all the countries in the world, and it’s based on the life expectancy of each region. Selecting “United States,” for example, gives players 77.4 seconds because people there are expected to live 77.4 years, according to the database used by the game. This mechanic, beginning every round with a self-inflicted geographic death sentence, grounds the game in reality. It adds weight to whatever silly, pixelated mechanics may follow, mirroring the quiet way that existential dread constantly grips us all.

Knowing you’ll die doesn’t mean you can’t have fun while you’re alive — as the fly, that is. The house is packed with personal items like books, art, instruments and furniture, and to a buzzy little fly, it feels nearly endless. It’s possible to land on certain environments and the screen will zoom in to allow players to interact with the objects there, showing additional detail. The fly can flip the power switch on a phonograph and collect coins inside a bulbous light fixture, each of these new areas appearing as the fly buzzes past or into them.

Time Flies

Michael Frei and Raphaël Munoz

The scene that made me laugh out loud involved a headless mannequin sticking out of the ceiling. Yes, you read that correctly, but this isn’t where I laughed yet. Flying into the dummy’s open neck revealed a network of intestines to escape — funny, but I still hadn’t laughed — with an exit precisely where you’d expect it to be. When the screen shifted from a dark intestinal tract to show the fly popping out of the dangling mannequin’s butt cheeks, I couldn’t help myself. I laughed and heard people watching behind me chuckle, too. Together, we all enjoyed the surprising ridiculousness of this fly’s life, and then it dropped dead.

I had a good time with that fly in particular. I played a few rounds of Time Flies and crossed out a few items on the bucket list, but there’s still so much more to explore in that solitary house. I just need some more time.

Time Flies

Michael Frei and Raphaël Munoz

Time Flies is scheduled to hit PlayStation, Switch and Steam in 2023, developed by Michael Frei and Raphaël Munoz.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Steam Deck battery life: 5 tips to extend your play time

The Steam Deck is a great device, but it has a major flaw: Battery life. In the best of cases, you can get around four hours before charging, and in the worst, the Deck can die in as little as 90 minutes. We rounded up the five Steam Deck battery life tips so you can extend your playtime as long as possible.

If you just picked up your device, make sure to read our top Steam Deck tips so you can get the most out of it. We also have a roundup of the best battery packs for the Steam Deck, which are essential if you plan on taking the handheld on a long trip.

Reduce screen brightness

The easiest way to save battery life on the Steam Deck is to turn down the brightness of the screen. Valve includes an option for dynamic brightness in the settings, but you shouldn’t use it — it’s way too sensitive, and the constant adjustment could actually decrease your battery life. Set it manually to the lowest point you can while still being able to see the screen.

Valve sets the default screen brightness fairly high. With God of War, we were able to play for just over an hour longer with the brightness down to its minimum setting. That’s the difference between playing for two hours and three hours in a demanding game like God of War. It’s simple, but screen brightness goes a long way to improve the Steam Deck’s battery life.

Use the frame rate limiter

The Steam Deck laying on a laptop.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Beyond reducing the screen brightness, always use the frame rate limiter on the Steam Deck — even if you don’t need to. We recommend setting the frame rate limiter to 30 fps in the Quick settings menu regardless of the game you’re playing. This is especially true for games that hover between 40 fps to 50 fps on the Steam Deck. Those extra frames could represent 45 minutes or more of extra battery life (as we saw in God of War).

You can also adjust the refresh rate of the display, which you should do to match whatever your frame rate is set at. The refresh rate won’t save as much battery life as turning on the frame rate limiter, but the two together can give you an extra hour or more of playtime.

Limit power and GPU speed

Power limit settings on the Steam Deck.

If you don’t mind a bit of trial and error, limiting the Steam Deck’s total power and GPU speed can massively improve battery life without sacrificing performance. You’ll find both in the Quick settings menu, and you’ll have to play with the exact numbers depending on the game you’re playing and the frame rate you want to hit.

We recommend turning on the frame rate overlay on your Steam Deck to see how much power the device is consuming and the clock speed of your GPU. From there, set the TDP and GPU around the mark you see in the overlay. It’s best to start low, see where your frame rate is at, and then slowly increase from there until you can maintain the frame rate you want.

For example, we limited the retro-styled platformer Blasphemous to 5W and were able to maintain a steady 60 fps (and improve battery life by around an hour and a half). The Steam Deck allows you to store these settings as per-game profiles, too, so you can set everything up once and keep your battery life steady.


Performance overlay on the Steam Deck.

The Steam Deck supports AMD’s FidelityFX Super Sampling (FSR) upscaling, and it’s hands-down the easiest way to save battery life. FSR essentially runs your game at a lower resolution, which takes a lot of strain off of the Steam Deck to improve battery life (and reduce fan noise in the process).

Using FSR on the Steam Deck is a little confusing, though. You can turn it on in the Quick settings menu, but you’ll need to turn down your in-game resolution for FSR to actually do anything. The Steam Deck has a resolution of 1,280 x 800, so bump down your resolution to 960 x 600 to save some battery life (or 640 x 400 if you need your battery to last even longer).

Turn on half rate shading

Half-rate shading option on the Steam Deck.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Valve recently added half rate shading to the Steam Deck, which is an interesting piece of graphics tech that can massively improve battery life. Shading is a complex topic, but the short of it is that every pixel on the screen needs a color value — and figuring out all of those colors takes a lot of power. Half rate shading cuts the rate in half, essentially only shading half of the pixels on-screen and using nearby pixels to fill in the missing information.

The result is that your game looks like it’s running at a lower resolution, even if half rate shading isn’t exactly the same as FSR. Keep this tip in your back pocket, though. Several Steam Deck games don’t allow you to adjust the resolution, so half rate shading can be a major help to save your battery life.

Editors’ Choice

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What is the best time to post on TikTok?

If you’re going to be a successful TikTok creator, you need to think about how to use TikTok more effectively. And that includes being more intentional about when you post your videos. Your followers and those who are new to your content could miss out on your videos if you post them at the wrong time.

In this guide, we’ll go over what you need to know about when to post your TikTok videos so that as many people as possible will see them.

Does it matter when you post on TikTok?

Yes, it does matter. But timing is just one of the factors you need to consider. When combined with other factors like the quality, uniqueness, and frequency of your content, getting the timing right on when you share your videos can help you get more views and engagement initially, which can lead to TikTok’s algorithm boosting its recommendation of your content in other users’ For Your Page suggestions. Because as HootSuite and MakeUseOf (and even TikTok itself) note, in order to get more engagement and attention for your videos via TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, your video actually needs to have already garnered some engagement to start with.

And that’s the goal: To get your content in as many users’ FYPs as possible to increase the chance that those users will engage with and view your content.

To reach that goal, though, you’ll need to clear the first hurdle, and that’s to get as much engagement (such as likes, comments, and views) as possible when your video is first posted. The more engagement you get at first, the more likely TikTok’s algorithm will keep recommending your video to other users. A key to ensuring your video succeeds in snagging as much engagement as possible when it first publishes is picking the right time to publish your content. To do that, you need to be aware of who your content’s target audience is and when they’re most active (read: when they’re more likely to view your videos). If you’re able to align when your content is published with when your audience is around to view it, you’ll likely increase your engagement. How much engagement you get will still depend on other factors like the quality of your content.

Is it better to post in the morning or at night on TikTok?

That depends on who your target audience is. You’ll need to do your research to figure out things like what time zones your viewers live in and when they’re active on TikTok. And to do that, the general consensus is that you’ll need to see your videos’ analytics. To access those analytics, you’ll need a TikTok Business account. You can switch to a Business account by going to your TikTok settings: Open the mobile app, select Profile > MenuSettings and privacy > Manage account > Switch to Business account.

It’s free to switch to a Business account. You will, however, need to have posted a few public videos before analytics will be available for you to view.

Once you know when your target audience is active on TikTok, you can time your posts accordingly.

When are the best times to post on TikTok?

While there are well-researched general guesses posted online, nothing beats the accuracy of looking at your own videos’ specific analytics and creating a posting schedule based on your viewers’ activity. But if for some reason you don’t have access to such analytics just yet or you just want a general guide, you can go by what Influencer Marketing Hub had to say about it as of May 2022.

The following is Influencer Marketing Hub’s suggestions for posting times based on over “100,000 global TikTok posts and engagement rates”:

(All times listed are Eastern Time.)

Monday: 6 a.m., 10 a.m., and 10 p.m.

Tuesday: 2 a.m., 4 a.m., and 9 a.m.

Wednesday: 7 a.m., 8 a.m., and 11 p.m.

Thursday: 9 a.m., 12 p.m., and 7 p.m.

Friday: 5 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.

Saturday: 11 a.m., 7 p.m., and 8 p.m.

Sunday: 7 a.m., 8 a.m., and 4 p.m.

You can also use their website’s calculator to get a more personalized posting schedule.

Editors’ Choice

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Tesla AI Day event: start time and how to watch the live stream

Today is Tesla’s AI Day, a sequel of sorts to the company’s Autonomy Day event held in 2019. The event, which will be held at Tesla’s headquarters in Palo Alto, CA, will be livestreamed for the public starting at 5PM PT / 8PM ET (though the event may not actually begin until closer to 5:30PM PT).

We don’t have a lot of details about what will be announced, but based on the invitation, we’ll get a keynote address by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, hardware and software demos from Tesla engineers, test rides in the Model S Plaid, and “more.” Musk has also tweeted that the “sole goal” of the event is to lure experts in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence to come work at Tesla.

Tesla usually holds around two public events a year. This year, we got the Tesla Model S Plaid launch event in June, and now AI Day. Over the past few years, Tesla has been holding events, not to unveil new products, but to highlight certain technologies that the company views as crucial to its future development. Last year, Tesla held its first Battery Day event, at which it discussed plans to drive down the cost of battery development with the goal of producing a $25,000 electric car.

AI Day is expected to pick up on the themes first introduced during Autonomy Day, which include the manufacturing of Tesla’s own silicon computer chips to power it’s Full Self-Driving advanced driver assistance feature.

This AI Day comes at an awkward time for the company. Earlier this week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that it was investigating Tesla’s Autopilot for the nearly dozen incidents in which its cars crashed into emergency vehicles. Two Democratic senators also called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Tesla’s marketing practices for potentially misleading information.

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The Best Mario Party Mini-Games of All Time

Clearly inspired by traditional board games, the Mario Party series has always melded what people love about those classic physical games with the advantages that could only be done in video games. The basic rules are always simple to grasp: Roll a die to move around the board, get enough currency (coins in nearly all the games) to purchase a star, and whoever has the most stars at the end wins. There’s plenty of twists and tweaks to keep things interesting there, but the very heart of the game is absolutely the mini-games. After every player moves, there is a mini-game break where the winner, or sometimes multiple winners, can earn extra coins.

With more than 10 Mario Party games out now, there have been well over 100 mini-games included in the series. Between free-for-alls, 2v2s, 3v1s, and rarer special event games, there is a huge range in what each game asks of the player. Some have stood the test of time better than others (we’re looking at you, Mario Party’s Tog o’ War), so we’ve looked back across the entire franchise to make our list of the best Mario Party mini-games of all time.

Some mini-games appear in multiple games, sometimes with different themes or names, so in those cases, we’ll be listing them in the game they first appeared in.

Further reading

Face Lift (Mario Party)

This is a personal favorite of ours, and is basically a play on the little tech demo thing at the beginning of Mario 64 where you can tug on different parts of a giant Mario face. This showed up first in the original Mario Party as a regular mini-game, then returned in the sequel as a much less common Battle mini-game. The game will open with Bowser’s face becoming stretched and warped in various ways, and each player will then have a default Bowser face they need to pinch and pull on to best match the one the game presents. In Mario Party 2, the roster of faces is expanded to include every playable character, such as Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi. When the time runs out, every player’s face is graded on a scale of 0 to 100, and whoever made their face closest is the winner.

What makes this so much fun is the combination of playing with these iconic characters’ faces in funny ways with the weird level of focus and precision you will want to commit. You’ll want to make Donkey Kong’s upper lip and brow look just right, but the timer forces you to balance matching one aspect perfectly at the risk of not getting to the ears or nose. There’s no luck, random elements, or anything like that, and yet it’s also unlikely any one person’s skill will make it less fun or unfair to the others. It’s everything great about a Mario Party mini-game wrapped up in a funny face.

Bumper Balls (Mario Party 2)

Mario, DK, Wario, and Yoshi playing bumper balls.

One trend we’ll keep coming back to on this list is that a lot of the best mini-games this series has seen are also the most simple in concept. Case in point, Bumper Balls from Mario Party 2. The setup is simple: You are each placed on a small island standing on inflatable balls with the goal of bumping into one another to try and knock them off the stage. You can move and build up more momentum, but otherwise, this is all about strategy. There are no gimmicks or finicky controls, either. Just you, three opponents, and one minute to try and be the last one standing.

Despite being a free-for-all mini-game, Bumper Balls often sees alliances formed and broken in record time. If one person teeters too close to the edge, the others will often gang up to try to confirm the kill, but whoever attacks first will be the most in danger next, leading to plenty of mind games. Do you want to avoid the pack, ram anyone who comes near you, or maybe try and bait someone into hitting you near the edge and try to dodge them so they end up rolling themselves off? Any and all of these tactics can work, making this simple game of rolling around big bouncy balls one of the all-time greats.

Mushroom Mix-Up (Mario Party 1)

Yoshi jumping onto a red mushroom.

Mushroom Mix-Up, which became Hexagon Heat in Mario Party 2, perfectly captures that sense of tension and chaos that we all love in Mario Party mini-games. The idea is that all four players are placed in the middle of a hexagon of different-colored platforms, mushrooms in the first game and generic metal hexagons in the sequel. A toad stands on his own platform and will show everyone a flag identical to one of the colored spaces. Every other platform will lower down into the water, or lava, eliminating them from the game. As the game goes on, the amount of time you have to get onto the correct platform gets shorter and shorter until only one player remains.

Recognizing the safe space you need to reach is only part of what raises the tension on this particular mini-game. Once you know where you have to go and recognize where that space is, actually getting on is half the trouble. Four characters can barely all squeeze on at once, and blocking others from getting on is absolutely a strategy, but can also just happen accidentally. You can’t attack during this game, but you can jump. That may help when things speed up and you need to try and save yourself from falling into the water or lava, but jumping also means you might land on top of another player’s head, bouncing you off in who knows what direction. You might manage to steer your bounce and survive, or end up sailing off in a fit of laughter. Either way, this is one we all look forward to showing up in the rotation.

Booksquirm (Mario Party 4)

Mario characters on a giant book.

When you look at them back to back, Booksquirm is actually very similar to Mushroom Mix-Up. They both center around the idea of figuring out where the safe place to stand is and getting there fast enough, and without getting blocked by other players. In Booksquirm, you’re not racing to a platform to avoid getting dropped, but almost the opposite. You are shrunk down and placed on the pages of a book. As pages fall, threatening to squish you, you will see certain shapes cut out of the falling page that you need to align yourself with to slip through. Again, the longer the round lasts, the faster the pages will flip.

This time you won’t have a Toad telling you where you need to go, but need to use your spatial awareness and shadows to figure out where to stand. There are technically only six places a safe space could be, and early on there can be more than one, but thanks to the different shapes, like the devious crescent moon, you can still get eliminated if you don’t line yourself up correctly. You can see in advance where the next safe areas will be by looking at the upcoming page and relating the cut-out spot to where it will be once it falls, which is a fun bit of brainwork that isn’t overly taxing. You can also use the shadows, but once things get speedy, you probably won’t have time to move where you need to.

Snow Brawl (Mario Party 6)

A Mario Party snowball fight.

1 vs. 3 mini-games are the hardest to get right. Too often they’re unbalanced in one team’s favor, with either the single person being overly powerful or the three too easily overwhelming the one. When it works, though, they’re some of the most different and fun games in the series. Snow Brawl takes the already fun concept of a snowball fight and puts the Mario Party twist on it. This would be such an easy game to slot into a 2 vs. 2 type game, but they decided to push themselves and make it a 1 on 3 event. The rules are as simple as a snowball fight. If all members of either team are hit, either the 3 or 1, then they lose. To even the odds, the single-player will have four A.I. teammates to help them, but the other team still only has to hit the player to win.

The way this simple setup forces each team to develop different strategies is brilliant. If you’re on the team with three humans, do you all try and rush the lone player or take out their A.I. helpers first? They’re not the most intelligent opponents, but they do outnumber you and can and will eliminate you if given the chance. But, if just one of you manages to land a hit, you win. The single player has to think of the best way to utilize the A.I. Should you capitalize on outnumbering the other team and attack with your buddies, or hang back for safety and let them do as much work as possible? If you end up solo against three, though, that’s going to be hard to come back from. All in all, this is a perfect example of a 1 vs. 3 mini-game.

Sneak ‘n’ Snore (Mario Party 2)

Mario and friends sneaking up to a chain chomp in barrels.

Take the classic game of red light green light and add in a cranky chain chomp and you’ll get Sneak ‘n’ Snore. This free-for-all game is a slow race to reach a button next to the sleeping ball and chain, press it, and make it back to the exit without getting caught. Like a certain Solid Snake, you have a barrel you’re wearing for cover to disguise yourself when the Chain Chomp unexpectedly wakes up. You’re visible when moving, but stopping has your character slip down into the barrel so the beast won’t see you. If you’re not fast enough to stop, he’ll grab you and pull you off-screen.

This game is an absolute nail-biter every time. It’s not just about reaching the end and escaping, but doing it first. That leads to this perfect balance of risk and reward. Do you try and squeeze out a few extra steps to get some ground on your opponents, or make sure you’re safe because the Chain Chomp is about to wake up? It’s a long trip to and from the button, so there’s plenty of opportunities to slip up and get caught. Plus the music that plays just ramps up the tension in a majestic crescendo before cutting off abruptly when the Chain Chomp’s nose bubble pops to signal he’s awake. Simple, fun, and tense, this is one mini-game you don’t want to sleep on.

Crazy Cutter (Mario Party)

Mario riding a jackhammer to free a cheep cheep.

Another original Mario Party game that came back for the second game, with the slight name change from Crazy Cutter to Crazy Cutters, also went from a default free-for-all game to a less common battle mini-game. It also features the same scoring system as Face Lift, funnily enough, but is otherwise pretty different. Your goal is to steer a jackhammer around the outline of a classic Mario enemy as precisely as possible. The first game has some pretty simple shapes, being the Goomba, Bob-omb, and Boo, while the sequel swaps them out for a Chain Chomp, Cheep-Cheep, and Blooper.

This is a precision-based game, but as simple to understand as tracing. Everyone moves at the same speed, so all you need to do is worry about staying on the line as accurately as possible. As it turns out, that’s easier said than done. Tracing isn’t all that hard, and even with the wonky N64 analog stick, it wouldn’t be a huge challenge to outline even the most complex of these enemies. However, the isometric perspective and size of your character riding on the jackhammer mean you need to kind of memorize and predict when and where you need to curve and turn. It’s one we all feel like we can ace, and yet it’s deceptively easy to go off course.

Tumble Temple (Mario Party 9)

Yoshi and Waluigi dodging spike balls.

One of the most famous games from The Price Is Right has to be Plinko. So, what is Mario Party’s take on that? To put you and the other players at the bottom of a Plinko-style slope, but instead of a pink disk bouncing its way down between the posts, it’s giant spike balls. Just like the classic game, you can never be quite sure which way the ball will bounce, and if you’re unlucky enough to get rolled over, you’re out. To keep you on your toes even more, the pattern of the posts will change as the game goes on. You have a little room to move around in, but as with most mini-games, the other players are just as hazardous as the actual spikes in some cases.

Randomness is notoriously hit or miss in Mario Party, but Tumble Temple gets away with it because the whole point of the game is the randomness. Trying to predict all the spike balls’ paths is never totally reliable, especially when multiple start rolling at once and the posts start to change position. You can do your best to get as far from the ball as possible, but getting clumped up with all the other players may not be such a good idea either. All you can do is move and jump, though jumping here isn’t a very good idea in most scenarios.

Hotel Goomba (Mario Party 5)

 Goomba hotel puzzles.

So many Mario Party mini-games are focused on combat, survival, or reflexes. There are precious few that challenge your puzzle-solving skills, but of the bunch that do, we find Hotel Goomba to be the best. The objective is to make your way up to three floors of the titular hotel, but your path is blocked by Goombas. Instead of just jumping on them like a normal Mario game, you are basically playing one of those traffic jam sliding puzzle games. By punching a Goomba, they are moved one tile in the direction they are hit. But there are also static environmental blockers like statues and pianos that can’t be moved. The first person to clear a path through all three levels of puzzles wins.

These little tile puzzles are not all that hard on their own. It only takes a few moves to clear a path, at least until the final floor, which can be somewhat tricky. The Mario Party twist of competing to get it done first, though, is where people will make silly mistakes. It is possible to even create an unsolvable situation with poor planning, but thankfully the game includes a button to reset the floor. Odds are you have fallen too far behind to win at that point anyway, but it’s there. A game that rewards smart and quick thinking is a great change of pace in most games of Mario Party.

Look Away (Mario Party 2)

Mario heads looking in different directions.

Another game that puts a spin on a classic kids game, Look Away is kind of a reverse Simon Says. It’s another rare 3 against 1 mini-game that nails the balance just right … as long as the three-player team doesn’t cheat. You all play as just the heads of your character, with the solo player up top and three below. By using the stick, you can choose to make your face look up, down, left, right, or leave it facing forward. The single player wants to look in the same direction as the other team. If, when the jingle stops, anyone is facing the same way as the top player, they’re out. There are five rounds for either the single player to eliminate all three others, or the other team wins as long as just one makes it to the end.

As long as you and your friends make the agreement that the team of three won’t tell each other which way they’re looking, making it impossible for the single player to get more than one of them at best, this is a fun game of tricks. You can swing your head around for a few moments as the music is stopping to try to fake out the top player, but that can lead to you accidentally switching to the same direction at the last second. If you’re unlucky and two or even all three of you look in the same way, the game can even end in just one round. The five total round limit is the perfect number to make both teams sweat, but still feel fair by the end.

Slaparazzi (Super Mario Party)

A picture of Wario punching.

The whole goal of winning a Mario Party game is to be the superstar. As such, a game where you’re trying to be the focus of a picture makes perfect sense and is a riot at the same time. All players are placed in a circular arena with five platforms a Red Koopa can appear at. When he shows up, camera at the ready, everyone has to rush over and try to be the focus of the shot once he takes it. You can all give each other smacks to try and make room so you’re in the center when the flash goes off. The person most in focus gets three points, descending to the furthest getting zero, with the player who earned the most total points after seven rounds being the victor.

This game is just about being a wacky good time and totally hits the mark. As soon as that Koopa shows up, everyone scrambles to get right up in front of him, but the inconsistent delay between when he gets there and when the picture is actually taken makes it almost impossible to really devise a winning strategy every time. That might sound like a bad thing, but if no one can learn the timing, then it will always be fair. Even if you smack someone away and jump in the center frame, if you’re too early you’ll end up just getting bumped out by someone else. The icing on the cake is that the game is played from a distance isometric perspective, but you get to see the first-person shot that the Koopa takes of all your characters shoving and punching each other trying to be the focus.

Bowser’s Big Blast (Mario Party 2)

Yoshi about to push down a plunger.

We’ve spoken a lot about randomness and strategy, and in most cases, the best games either forego random elements or fully embrace them. Bowser’s Big Blast takes the latter approach. It first showed up in Mario Party 2, then made a comeback as Bowser’s Bigger Blast in the fourth game, but was so good the first time that nothing about it was changed aside from how it looked. This is a pure lottery game. Each character goes one at a time up to a series of multicolored plungers attached to a giant Bowser head. There are five at first, with one being the plunger that will detonate the Bowser head. If you pick wrong and the head explodes, you’re out. If you choose correctly, you get back in line and the next person must choose, only now with one less plunger to pick from. The process repeats unlit there’s just one player standing.

Again, there’s no way to strategize here. There are no tricks, tells, or anything to help you. All you can do is pick and cross your fingers. Each time you press down on the plunger, the big Bowser’s head eyes will start a countdown of 3, 2, 1 and then either release steam, signaling you didn’t pick the detonator, or, obviously, explode. The tension of that countdown is basically the essence of Mario Party boiled down. You’ve done the best you can, but in the end, it’s all up to chance.

Dash and Dine (Super Mario Party)

Mario characters running around a kitchen.

The 2 vs. 2 mini-games are usually plenty of fun, but not very unique compared to a free-for-all or 3 vs. 1. Up until Super Mario Party, they were generally games that could’ve been done solo for the most part, but Dash and Dine really makes teamwork the determining factor between victory and defeat. Plus, the obvious cues it takes from the fantastic Overcooked! games don’t hurt. Both teams are chefs in a shared restaurant and need to fulfill orders just like in an Overcooked! A Toad will tell each team what they need, and they have to go and retrieve the ingredients from the tables scattered around the kitchen. The team that fulfills the most orders wins.

Just like both Overcooked! games, the challenge of this game is in the layout of the kitchen. Not only do you have to coordinate with your partner on who should be getting what, as well as trying to not get in each other’s way, but the other team is also trying to get those same ingredients, and may want to get in your way. Then, as if that weren’t enough, other Toads carrying dishes will move through the stage as mobile blockers to throw both teams off. It’s much more simplistic than either Overcooked!, with only three ingredients and no actual cooking involved, but perfect for a quick taste of that style of game.

Bob-Omb Bogey (Mario Party 10)

Mario and friends hitting golf balls.

The Wii Mario Party games relied heavily on motion controls, for better and for worse. Just like Wii Sports, though, the Mario Party 10 games that replicated sports were the best implementation of the Wii control scheme. Bob-Omb Bogey is a driving range, but with a couple of twists. The first is that all players are swinging in rounds together. Whoever hits the ball first gets 50 points, second 30, third 20, and last just 10. But, to keep you from swinging wildly, occasionally a Bob-Omb will be put on the tee. Swing your club at that and you will lose 50 points. Whoever has the most points after 10 balls are hit, not counting any Bob-Ombs, wins the game.

It’s by no means Wii Golf, or even Mario Golf, but swinging the Wii remote like a golf club still works great for the small experience of a mini-game. In fact, since you don’t need to be accurate, it doesn’t feel frustrating when your ball would otherwise go sailing off even though you swear you were swinging straight. As far as the game itself, it’s a fun test of reaction speed, a little like Sneak ‘n’ Snore, but perhaps even fairer because instead of you failing due to not knowing when the Chain Chomp is waking up, it’s because you were too eager and swung when you shouldn’t have. The penalty for hitting a Bob-Omb is maybe a little too harsh, but you can recover and it is better than you just being out for the rest of the round like some other mini-games.

Editors’ Choice

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Microsoft shows off Halo Infinite’s campaign for the first time in over a year

With Halo Infinite’s release date fast approaching, Microsoft has shared a new six-minute trailer that offers an in-depth look at the game’s single-player component. The last time the company provided an extended preview of Infinite’s campaign was during its . That trailer was poorly received, with most fans agreeing the game’s visuals looked dated. In the aftermath of that reveal, developer 343 Industries said they , and Microsoft subsequently .

In this latest preview, you can see the visuals have gotten an update (look at Craig the Brute). But what hasn’t changed too much is the emphasis on sandbox gameplay. During a , 343 Industries said they were inspired by levels like from Halo: Combat Evolved to design the game in a way that would allow players to accomplish objectives with creativity. 

You see that ethos on display in the second half of the trailer. Master Chief stumbles upon a Banished outpost he has to take out. You can use his grappling hook to move around the facility quickly and pull enemy weapons and explosives to augment your current arsenal. Vehicles play an important part in the overall gameplay loop, as do abilities you can purchase for Master Chief. 

All of the different gameplay elements come together to form something that looks like it will offer a classic but more open Halo experience. It’s just too bad you won’t be able to play the campaign with a friend, at least .

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The Best Video Game Soundtracks of All Time

Visuals in video games have improved drastically over the past few decades, with characters and environments inching ever closer to realism, and it can make the graphics in older Nintendo or PlayStation 1 games look downright putrid. Video game original soundtracks (OSTs) are a not often talked about aspect of games, but can live on well after their games become unplayable.

While game soundtracks have evolved to frequently use orchestras and choruses to add a more dramatic atmosphere, similar to big-budget films, there are absolute classics from the ’80s and ’90s that are just as entertaining and catchy today despite being generated with limited bits and synthesized audio.

Setting games to music is not a lost art by any means, though: There are plenty of more recent soundtracks already poised to become future classics. Here are the best video game soundtracks of all time — or, at least, our personal favorites.

Super Mario Bros. (1985)

When you hear the phrase “video game music,” there’s a pretty good chance that the opening tune to the original Super Mario Bros. will just start playing in your head. Whimsical, bouncy, and at a perfect tempo to keep you pushing forward, the music perfectly matches the sound effects made when Mario jumps in the air, breaks blocks, and warps down pipes. When you head underground, the volume drops and the music switches to a minimalist beat that signals the danger ahead. Inch forward in time with the “do do do do do do” of the music, and you just might make it out the other side alive.

Even when you fail, you can’t help but crack a smile, with those few notes punctuating your defeat. When you inevitably run out of lives, and have to start over from the very beginning, the game taunts you even more with a flat-key reimagining of the theme song’s opening notes. Before you have a chance to beat yourself up too much, however, it’s back into World 1-1 and the most memorable tune in video game history.

Mega Man 2 (1988)

The Mega Man games are notoriously difficult, but without picking up a controller or even seeing footage online, you can tell that Mega Man 2 is going to be relentless from its soundtrack alone. Every stage’s song is a breakneck, anxiety-inducing sprint that you’ll struggle to keep up with, and even the game’s slower tunes, which you’ll hear in Air Man’s theme, are still faster than the majority of music on the NES.

It isn’t until you finally defeat Dr. Wily and view the ending credits that you finally get a chance to breathe, as the music switches to a soft, melodic tune as a reward for all your efforts. Later games in the series, like Mega Man X, were certainly able to build on the foundation of Mega Man 2 and deliver something a little more complex, but there’s something charming about the soundtrack’s simplicity.

Super Castlevania IV (1991)

The Super Nintendo was capable of producing audio far superior to what we heard on the original Nintendo Entertainment System, or even the Sega Genesis, and Super Castlevania IV might just be the best example of what the console could do. Combining the blaring organs associated with gothic horror with the rhythmic chiptune beat Castlevania fans had come to expect, the soundtrack often outshined the game’s visuals, which are still beautiful more than 25 years after the game’s initial release.

Even if you loved a particular song from the original Castlevania NES trilogy, there’s a good chance it’s in Super Castlevania IV, as well. Later stages use reimagined versions of these tunes, including the first game’s Vampire Killer, giving you a healthy dose of nostalgia as you push into Dracula’s Lair. Our favorite song has to be Simon’s Theme, however, as its punchy melody and blistering pace make it the perfect background music as you cut some ghoulish creatures down to size.

Chrono Trigger (1995)

Square Enix’ masterpiece, Chrono Trigger, has stood the test of time, with some regarding it as the best role-playing game ever conceived due to its complex story, fine-tuned battle mechanics, and Akira Toriyama’s signature character design, and Yasunori Mitsuda’s beautiful score. The opening title screen begins with a soft, ominous tune that hints at more bombastic music later on, but over the course of Crono’s adventure, we hear a wide variety of music. Frog’s Theme, for instance, is as stoic as the knight, but with a tragic undertone that hints at the struggles he’s faced since his transformation.

Our favorite music has to involve Magus, arguably the game’s best character. First believed to be an antagonist who wants nothing more than to send the world into peril, he is eventually is revealed to be a more nuanced character who forms an uneasy alliance with the rest of the group. His theme reflects this, always appearing like it will reach a boiling point without ever actually getting there.

Star Fox 64 (1997)

The collective brainchild of underrated great Hajime Wakai (Pikmin, Wind Waker, F-Zero X) and the legendary Koji Kondo, the Star Fox 64 OST is a bombastic and dramatic space opera score that adds drama to what could have been a silly arcade game starring talking animals. Considering each playthrough only lasts an hour, the catchy music makes replaying the game over and over more enjoyable.

Each track perfectly captures the mood of the mission and planet. The classic Area 6 score evokes the desperation of four pilots on a suicide mission through a fleet’s non-stop barrage. Star Wolf was the perfect background for tense dogfighting against your cartoonishly evil rivals. Slower tracks like the Meteo Warp and Aquas captured the deadly beauty of a galaxy just as dangerous as Andross’ forces.

What held the Star Fox 64 soundtrack back was its MIDI tools, which couldn’t quite live up to the orchestrated sound Wakai and Kondo were trying to achieve. But jump ahead to Star Fox Assault — which cribbed much of the same music — and the Super Smash Bros. games’ re-orchestrations for the Star Fox levels, and you’ll find that the music achieves its full Hollywood-esque potential.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is often regarded as one of the greatest video games ever made, and while that praise stems largely from its fantastic world design and time-traveling story, it would be downright criminal to discount composer Koji Kondo’s contribution to the title’s success. From the moment Link wakes up as a child and begins walking around Kokiri Forest, the light, calming music sets the mood — it’s soothing almost to hide the fact that the nearby area of Hyrule is soon going to plunge into darkness.

Handing you an ocarina, the game has you bring some of the series’ most iconic themes to life: Zelda’s, Epona’s, and Saria’s themes not only stand the test of time but also play important gameplay roles as you progress through dungeons or navigate the Lost Woods. Ganondorf’s theme, on the other hand, portrayed the villain’s menacing danger so well that it made a reappearance in several sequels.

Of course, few things are more exhilarating than charging across Hyrule Field on Epona as the music crescendos into a loud, booming chorus that gives you the confidence you need to defeat Ganondorf. Except, of course, for infiltrating Gerudo’s Valley, with its often-remixed score evoking exhilaration and danger while far from home.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (1999)

Punk rock and skateboarding grew up together, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater reflects that, setting an upbeat tone with pop, punk, and ska earworms that found a new audience, and a popularity that extended beyond the game. With tunes from acclaimed bands such as the Suicide Machines, Dead Kennedys, and the Vandals, the game had the perfect soundtrack to listen to for hours as you attempted to master your “McTwist” or replicate the 900 you saw Mr. Hawk complete on TV. One song has come to represent the THPS franchise’s cultural footprint more than any other: Goldfinger’s horn-infused ska track Superman is so relentlessly upbeat and catchy, it’s virtually impossible to get upset when you’re listening to it. The other games in the franchise all feature strong soundtracks, but without Superman, they all seem to be lacking something.

Halo 2 (2004)

The original Halo introduced us to the series’ signature, choir-heavy theme song, and the third game ended with an emotional piano number that offered what we thought was definitive closure to Master Chief’s story. But neither can compare to the electric guitar shredding of Halo 2. Early in the game, we’re reacquainted with the Covenant’s deadly Hunter enemies, which typically strike fear into our hearts the second they burst onto the scene. But with Steve Vai’s solo blaring in our ears, we had the confidence to charge in with our guns blazing. When we switch perspectives and take control of the Arbiter, the music takes on a horror tinge, one peppered with sullen, tragic moments that remind us of the impossible mission he must complete.

Of course, gamers who spent hours in Halo 2 matchmaking will remember the game as much for its heart-wrenching menu music like Heavy Price Paid and Unforgotten. Allegedly named “unforgotten” because the composer Marty O’Donnell forgot he had scored it until Halo 2 was nearly out, it really evokes the tragedy and memory of all the humans and duped Covenant dying in a senseless war. The theme unsurprisingly returned in Halo 3 and Halo 4.

Even the game’s controversial, cliffhanger ending was made more bearable by the soundtrack. As Master Chief utters his famous “Sir, finishing this fight” line, Marty O’Donnell’s score crescendos and the screen cuts to black. Fans would have to wait three years to discover how the war between the humans and Covenant came to a close, with the score ringing in their ears.

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (2007)

The Uncharted series can be described as a direct descendent of the original Tomb Raider games. The game’s music, however, is one of a few elements that helped Nathan Drake climb out of Lara Croft’s shadow. His theme song can only be described as “epic.” Hearing it transports us to one of the series’ many beautiful, treasure-filled vistas. Drake’s Fortune also knows when to ratchet things back to built up dramatic tension, especially in between gun battles. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” doesn’t even begin to describe these spooky, otherwise silent sections, where just one false move could send Nathan plummeting into a pile of skeletons or a group of gun-toting mercenaries.

Minecraft: Volumes Alpha & Beta (2011–2013)

It’s not too bold a claim to make that Minecraft probably wouldn’t have sold 200 million copies, becoming the second-bestselling game of all time, unless German composer C418 gave gamers a soothing yet alien soundtrack to fill the emptiness as they explored its near-deserted, endless setting.

Peaceful piano solos create a somewhat melancholic ambience as you navigate a world full of scared critters and violent monsters. Then, upbeat electronica gives you a burst of energy, hearkening more to the mood of gamers building blocky buildings and getting up to in-game hijinks with Minecraft mods.

Most Minecraft OST fans gravitate toward the first album’s simple classics like Moog City, Sweden, and Subwoofer Lullaby. Don’t sleep on Volume Beta, though, as it moves beyond pieces that are simply “peaceful” or “sad” and creates tracks like Taswell and Kyoto that feel like distinct performances, each evoking its own strange new world.

Journey (2012)

Composer Austin Wintory spent three years creating the soundtrack for Journey, and this dedication paid off in an incredible soundtrack that was the first and only one to be nominated for a Grammy Award. Wintory made cellist Tina Guo the center of the soundtrack and said in an interview that the game is “like a big cello concerto where you are the soloist and all the rest of the instruments represent the world around you.” Eventually, as you climb the mountain, the cello emerges from the orchestra to represent the completion of your journey. Plus, the soundtrack changes to add new instruments when you meet with other players.

Add in his work on Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Abzû and the Banner Saga trilogy, Wintory makes a strong case for being the best game composer of the last decade.

Rayman Legends (2013)

Aside from rhythm games such as Thumper and Guitar Hero Live, it’s rare to see a developer work its music directly into its game’s mechanics, but that’s exactly what Ubisoft Montpellier did in Rayman Legends. After several traditional platforming stages — each complete with its own lighthearted songs — each world ends with a lightning-fast platforming sequence set to a popular rock or pop song.

Classics such as Black Betty and Eye of the Tiger are recreated with Rayman’s oddball humor (the latter is played entirely on kazoo) as the limbless hero sprints toward the finish line, and his jumps are in perfect time with the songs. Symbol crashes, for instance, ring out whenever Rayman is about to be hit by a cannon blast, and this all happens within the game world, with enemies joining in to perform a concert as they try to kill our hero. Don’t mess up the timing: You’ll ruin the song!

BioShock Infinite (2013)

If Rayman Legends managed to tie its soundtrack to its gameplay in a way no other game had before, BioShock Infinite achieved a similar meld of music and story. From the moment Booker DeWitt steps foot in the floating city of Columbia, he’s greeted with music that doesn’t exist yet. The Beach Boys’ God Only Knows, is sung by a barbershop quartet, even though the song wouldn’t be written for about 50 years. As the space-time continuum further disintegrates around Booker, he hears tunes from bands such as Creedence Clearwater Revival and even new-wave legends Tears for Fears.

Perhaps the most memorable moment in the entire game can actually be skipped if players aren’t nosy enough. After entering a basement, Booker can pick up a guitar and perform Will the Circle Be Unbroken? as a duet with his companion, Elizabeth. You feel their emotions through the speakers, and the song left us thinking about how its lyrics related to the universe, or multiverse, for weeks afterward.

Child of Light (2014)

Canadian singer-songwriter Cœur de pirate created a moving soundtrack that matches well with the mood of the game, heavy with melancholic violin and thoughtful piano solos before upping the tempo into percussion-heavy battle ballads. Mostly set in a portal fantasy world and starring a young girl desperate to return home to save her dying father and thwart her evil stepmother, this dark twist on a Cinderella story with violence and no Prince Charming shines in part thanks to its beautiful music. Even as Aurora gains powers and friends, the combination of sadness and whimsy reminds us that this journey is not as enjoyable for her as it is for us.

Transistor (2014)

Most gamers would pick Darren Korb’s excellent Bastion soundtrack for this list, but for our money, Transistor represents Korb’s best work by far. You play as Red, a singer whose voice has been sealed away inside of a mysterious sword and who must fight to defeat the robotic intelligence that is absorbing the city inhabitants into itself. Unable to speak, Red can hum along to the music of each level, and you’ll also hear several former performances of hers over the course of the game.

Korb described the genre of the soundtrack as “old-world electronic post-rock,” which really just translates into an intense cyberpunk vibe that matches the action-heavy gameplay and desolate, futuristic world. Add in singer Ashley Lynn Barrett’s amazing voice, used to great effect in songs like We All Become and The Spine, and you get a soundtrack that’s worth listening to over and over.

Ori and the Blind Forest (2015)

The graphical beauty of the Ori franchise is only matched by its truly gorgeous soundtrack, which was performed by an entire orchestra and choir and features multiple solo performances from Aeralie Brighton, Rachel Mellis, and Tom Boyd. The vocalists’ harmonies sound as if the game’s forest setting is serenading Ori as he progresses along his quest, with solo performances often arising during cutscenes when Ori has taken a step further in cleansing his home of the sickness infecting it.

Its excellent production value aside, the Ori and the Blind Forest soundtrack succeeds thanks to Gareth Coker’s thoughtful composition, which creates a new, magical-sounding melody for each new area you encounter and leitmotifs that reflect upon the recurring characters you meet.

Nier: Automata (2017)

The opening hours of Nier: Automata are accompanied by a melancholy and occasionally cheery soundtrack that mostly exists in the background as you move throughout the open world. The song Rays of Light has a memorable and simple piano tune that you’ll often find yourself humming — as there is little noise when in the game’s City Ruins — but the final few notes of the jingle shift toward a more depressing tone that is evocative of the emotional torture you’re about to endure over the course of the game.

Emi Evans, the vocalist for many of the tracks, researched linguistics in order to make up a convincing, fake in-game language, Chaos, then harmonized with Keiichi Okabe’s composed melodies in that fake language. Aside from having a beautiful voice, Evans added authenticity and immersion to the game’s outlandish world by creating and singing words that sounded as if they could be a real far-future language.

The game’s final moments are where the fantastic soundtrack really hits its high point. An initially quiet, somber tune, The Weight of the World, starts with a solo performance before giving way to an orchestral anthem, with an entire choir of voices joining in as you make your way to the game’s touching conclusion. Even after 2B and 9S finished their journey, we still wanted to “shout it loud.”

Persona 5 (2017)

The jazzy Persona soundtracks are a big favorite with video game audiophiles, and the Persona 5 OST is full of energetic music encouraging you to “wake up, get up, get out there”. Composer Shoji Meguro frequently uses the electric piano and guitar in the game’s music, adding a synthesized tone that makes your character’s daily Tokyo routine feel just as exciting as the Metaverse.

The highlights of the soundtrack come from singer Lyn Inaizumi, who performs a dozen or so pop / R&B songs that will stick in your brain and have you humming them well after you beat the game. They appear as both vocal and instrumental versions depending on the time of day, which is a neat touch. Plus, the game even adds lyrics to some of the fight music, a choice that few other games have ever been bold enough to try.

Celeste (2018)

Celeste is a challenging game, not only in terms of gameplay, but also in subject matter. The soundtrack perfectly keeps up with the tone set by the game, pulling double duty as background music and sound design. Following your events perfectly, Celeste’s soundtrack almost feels like a character in the game, sticking with you on the long and often lonely journey up Celeste Mountain.

Furthermore, Celeste‘s soundtrack perfectly bends the mood of the game to its will, with the opening First Steps offering a hopeful tone in the early moments of the game and songs like Reflection offering a deeper, more methodical tone as your physical and psychological journey continues into a darker place.

Celeste also has “B-Side” levels with increased difficulty and fast-paced remixes on the original level themes. While all trippy and adrenaline-pumping in their own way, Reflection (Center of the Earth Mix) is an incredible stand-out track, with the discordant chanting reflecting upon the absurdly deadly environment that your character keeps diving into headfirst.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (2018)

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate helped Nintendo transform the Nintendo Switch into the biggest and most impractical MP3 player of all time. Players can access over 30 hours of original tracks and remixes from a huge variety of video game franchises from the game’s Sounds menu and across its 100+ stages. The game lets you listen to your favorite franchises and create custom playlists. Or simply select shuffle and relive some of the best video game music in history, including compositions from several of our other all-time best picks.

The Smash Bros. series brought a fun mix of old classics and fresh orchestrations that fans loved. Like with Star Fox 64, Nintendo used musical technology and sound libraries to remix MIDI soundtracks completely. This meticulous work brought a fresh take to music from franchises like Mario, Zelda, Fire Emblem, Metroid, and Kirby. Another fun spin is that the new DLC characters, like Joker in Persona 5, get their theme music.

Doom Eternal (2020)

The Doom games are often compared to a heavy metal album cover, only playable. Of course, a heavy metal soundtrack has always been present in the series, but it wasn’t until the reboot in 2016 that we really felt the impact of the music on the game. Composed by Mick Gordon, this soundtrack dynamically adapts to just how hard you’re ripping and tearing through the demonic hordes to perfectly punctuate every shotgun blast and machine gun shell fired. The result is apologetically over-the-top metal, and while it would feel almost cliche in any other context, it fits the brutality of Doom Eternal perfectly.

The music is so responsive that it basically becomes a mechanic in the game itself. As noted, the harder you’re killing, the harder the guitars rip and drums beat, but it also cues you in to when certain abilities are ready, when new demons are spawning, or when your health is low. Unfortunately Mick had a falling out with the developers after this game launched, so this may be the last game we get to enjoy his demonic musical talents.

Honorable mentions

NES has been in households for over 35 years, so our top 20 list doesn’t cover every year. Since there’s such a wealth of great soundtracks, we’re listing our runners-up here. They’re worth a listen, even if they didn’t make the top 20.

  • Super Mario World (1990) by Koji Kondo
  • Earthbound (1994) by Keiichi Suzuki and Hirokazu Tanaka
  • Final Fantasy VI (1994) by Nobuo Uematsu
  • Secret of Mana (1994) by Hiroki Kikuta
  • Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest (1995) by David Wise
  • Banjo-Kazooie (1998) by Grant Kirkhope
  • Chrono Cross (1999) by Yasunori Mitsuda
  • Final Fantasy VIII (1999) by Nobuo Uematsu
  • Super Mario Sunshine (2002) by Koji Kondo
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2003) by Kenta Nagata, Hajime Wakai, Toru Minegishi, and Koji Kondo
  • Super Mario Galaxy (2007) by Mahito Yokota and Koji Kondo
  • Persona 4 (2008) by Shoji Meguro
  • Assassin’s Creed 2 (2009) by Jesper Kyd
  • Halo 3: ODST (2009) by Martin O’Donnell and Martin Salvatori
  • Bastion (2011) by Darren Korb
  • Sonic Generations (2011) by Jun Senoue
  • Life Is Strange (2015) by Jonathan Morali
  • Undertale (2015) by Toby Fox
  • Hue (2016) by Alkis Livathinos
  • God of War (2018) by Bear McCreary

Editors’ Choice

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Amazon delays ‘New World’ MMO again, this time to September 28th

Amazon has delayed New World mere weeks before its previously announced August 31st release date. It will now arrive about a month later, on September 28th, so that Amazon Game Studios can spend an extra few weeks polishing, fixing bugs and improving stability. The company says it decided to delay New World again following player feedback it collected during the MMO’s recent closed beta.

“This was not an easy decision to make. We know this isn’t the first time we’ve changed our launch date in pursuit of quality, and that it can be disappointing to wait a bit longer.” Amazon Game Studios said on Twitter. “But we want to be sure we deliver you the highest quality game possible at launch.”

For those of you still keeping track, this is New World’s fourth delay. When Amazon first announced the game, it said it would come out in May 2020. Its release date initially slipped to August 25th, 2020, before Amazon announced a month later it was pushing the game back to spring 2021. At the start of the year, it then delayed the game to its most recently planned August 31st release date.

To say there’s a lot of pressure on Amazon Game Studios to deliver a hit for its parent company would be an understatement. Amazon announced the game’s first major delay after taking the unusual step of rolling back the availability of Crucible, its first AAA title. It later ended the development of that game. Before taking over as CEO of Amazon, Andy Jassy told employees he was committed to the studio. “Though we haven’t consistently succeeded yet in Amazon Game Studios, I believe we will if we hang in there,” he said in an email. Now it’s on the New World team to prove that confidence was well-earned.

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The Best Batman Games of All Time, Ranked

Arguably the most beloved superhero of all time is Batman, leading to a litany of comics, movies, shows, and video games based on the character. Although the caped crusader has always been a fan-favorite, his track record in the video game space didn’t pick up until the last decade or so. Since the ’90s, we’ve gotten Batman movie tie-in games, stand-alone stories, and games of all genres, including action, 2D platformers, and narrative adventures.

Thankfully, there have been a lot of high-quality Batman games released for various systems over the years. Whether you’re a veteran Batman fan or just getting into the hero for the first time, there’s likely a game out there for you. These are the 10 best Batman games, ranked.

Recommended reading:

10. Batman Begins

This is probably a game that many haven’t thought about (or even heard of) in years. The Batman Begins movie tie-in was a good attempt at mixing fun stealth gameplay with wild Batmobile sections and even includes many of the film’s cast reprising their roles in the game. Aside from stealth sections and vehicular mayhem, there’s also basic hand-to-hand combat, wherein Batman utilizes his gadgets to defeat enemies. It’s not the greatest game ever, but it did lay the groundwork for what would come from Batman games later on, and we recommend giving this one a try.

9. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate

Batman defeating enemies in Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate.

Another game in the Dark Knight’s catalog you might not remember is Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate. No, not Batman: Arkham Origins (more on that one below), but rather, a 2.5 Metroidvania game set in the same universe. This game launched alongside Arkham Origins but was initially designed for handheld systems like the PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS. Blackgate takes place after the events of Origins and does a fair job of translating the beloved combat from the Arkham games into a 2.5D presentation. Again, this game isn’t amazing, but it’s a worthwhile entry in the Batman series, especially to fans of Metroid and Castlevania.

8. Batman: The Telltale Series

Batman and Catwoman in Batman: The Telltale Series.

Telltale Games was one of the masters of storytelling in video games. One of the shining examples of this is Batman: The Telltale Series, a game released episodically towards the end of 2016. Its strength is in presenting familiar characters in an unfamiliar way, featuring slightly different backstories than you might be used to. It offered a thoughtful, choice-driven narrative that never lets up throughout its five-episode saga. A followup season, Batman: The Enemy Within, was released throughout 2017 and 2018 and is well worth checking out, too.

7. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes

Batman and Superman in Lego Batman: DC Superheroes.

Many of the Batman games on this list are for more mature audiences, typically falling into the T ESRB rating. While those games are great, it’s nice to have something the whole family can play, which is what you get with Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. This game ups the ante from the first installment, featuring not only characters from the Batman series but other DC Comics heroes as well. Lego Batman 2 is notable for being the first Lego game to include a fully voiced cast with dialogue rather than the gibberish presented in older entries. It’s got an open world and two-player co-op, making it a great fit for the family.

6. Batman (NES)

Batman in Batman for NES.

Serving as the oldest game on this list, the movie tie-in for 1989’s Batman is a blast from the past. Sure, it might not hold up as well today, but Batman for the NES is widely regarded as one of the best superhero games of that era. It’s a sidescrolling action game that’s loosely based on the Tim Burton film but also features various classic enemies like Deadshot, Killer Moth, and Joker. In it, Batman has access to an arsenal of gadgets and can even wall-jump. This game is worth checking out if you’re into retro 2D games — or if you just simply can’t get enough Batman in your life.

5. Batman: Arkham VR

Batman in Batman: Arkham VR.

Out of all the games on this list, Batman: Arkham VR is the one that truly makes you feel like the Dark Knight himself. Taking place in the Arkham universe from developer Rocksteady Studios, Arkham VR is a short experience that sends you on a mission to investigate the disappearance of Nightwing and Robin. It doesn’t directly include combat but rather focuses more on storytelling and puzzle-solving while immersing you in its world. Arkham VR is one of the standout PSVR experiences, thanks to the way it’s presented while making you feel like Batman.

4. Batman: Arkham Origins

Batman on rooftop in Batman: Arkham Origins.

Arguably the most overlooked entry in the series is Batman: Arkham Origins, a game that tells the story of a younger Bruce Wayne. While this game takes place before the events of Arkham Asylum, it wasn’t developed by Rocksteady Studios, which led to disappointment among fans. Instead, it was created by WB Games Montréal, and considering it was the team’s first major game developed, it’s remarkable how well it turned it. Since it’s a prequel, it makes a lot of references to the rest of the Arkham series, offering more context and backstory for many of its characters. And out of the rest of the games in the series, this one has some of the most memorable bosses, including fights against Black Mask, Deadshot, and Firefly.

3. Batman: Arkham Knight

Batman on rooftop in Batman: Arkham Knight.

Out of the three mainline Rocksteady-developed Batman games, Arkham Knight is typically the least favorite, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. In fact, it does a lot of things better than the previous entries, such as featuring some of the best narrative moments in the entire series. It ropes in many characters from the Bat-family, including Robin, Nightwing, Barbara Gordon, and Alfred, while telling a story with high stakes. We particularly appreciated just how many costumes there are to choose from in this game, sprinkling some variety throughout the main story or the challenge missions. Aside from the out-of-place Bat-tank battles, this game does a lot of things right and is essential to the overall narrative.

2. Batman: Arkham City

Side view of Batman in Batman: Arkham City.

There’s often debate about which Batman game is the best — with it usually coming down to Arkham Asylum versus Arkham City. And it’s a tough choice because both are so good. Batman: Arkham City is our second option between the two, but it’s still a game that deserves its praises. It features a large open world, allowing you to freely explore it to tackle side quests, find collectibles, and take in the interesting sights and sounds of Gotham. Arkham City expanded upon many of the mechanics from the first installment while paying homage to the character’s rich history throughout the years. It’s easy to see why so many adore Batman: Arkham City, and while it isn’t our top choice, it’s an incredible experience from start to finish.

1. Batman: Arkham Asylum

Closeup of Batman in Batman: Arkham Asylum.

That leaves us with Batman: Arkham Asylum, a game that broke new ground for the way it handled Batman as a character. It introduced the satisfying free-flow combat that many other games drew inspiration from afterward. But outside of the memorable combat, it leaned into Batman’s detective skills, with sections that required you to gather clues to solve mysteries. The reason this game works so well is due in part to its level design. It’s a tight, confined world that never feels too big or overwhelming. It also doubles down on the Metroidvania elements, allowing you to visit new areas once you’ve unlocked certain items. Its stealth mechanics, storytelling, presentation, and pacing are all brilliantly put together, making it the best Batman game of all time.

Editors’ Choice

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