8 Hours of Animal Cross New Horizons for Your Daily Grind

8 Hours of Animal Cross New Horizons for Your Daily Grind

Ok, so let’s all agree not to make this post reach too far and wide and let the powers that be know about it, but if you ever wanted your work day to feel more like Animal Crossing and less like…well, normal work, this is just the ticket for you.

Animal Crossing New Horizons has 24 tracks of music that play throughout the day, one song per hour. My compilation plays all 24 tracks for 20-ish minutes each, clocking in at almost exactly 8 hours. Start this when you log on for the day and hopefully you’ll be wrapping up work as soon as it finishes.

The best flow seemed to be to start at the 6AM track, which feels very warm and welcoming, and concludes all the way around at 5AM with some very chill night time music to wrap up the day.

Download the 8 hour MP3 here (462 MB) and put it on in the background while you work. Just make sure to turn it off before jumping on a conference call.

And if you would prefer them as individual tracks in the music player of your choice, there is also a 24 track version you can download here (80 MB).

PS5's Disappointing Backwards Compatibility

From the official PlayStation blog

A quick update on backward compatibility – With all of the amazing games in PS4’s catalog, we’ve devoted significant efforts to enable our fans to play their favorites on PS5. We believe that the overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ PS4 titles will be playable on PS5.

The fact that PS5 will not have full backwards compatibility with PS4 games is a disappointment, even though I've seen some people express joy in this update. I'm sure most big games will still run, and that's great, but it feels like they should have done better here.

What's really disappointing is that as far as we know, there is zero PS1, PS2, or PS3 compatibility. With all this power at their disposal, emulating PS1 and PS2 games should be a breeze. The PS3 was notoriously complicated, but PCs are able to do this really well today, so it seems like it should be there too.

Sony has a remarkable collection of games on their 4 major consoles, and it's a shame that it currently looks like you will only be able to enjoy PS4 and 5 games on this new machine. Unleashing that libraary of games on the new console would make this The PlayStation and would help them get the gamers who want the new, as well as those who want to relive the classics. Maybe Sony has a summer announcement where they'll reveal expanded compatibility, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

I should mention that PlayStation Now lets you play some PS2 and PS3 games, but only via streaming and it is only an average experience in my time with it.

PC Gaming is Kinda Magical

So I’m a console gamer at heart, and I’m greatly looking forward to the PS5 release later this year, but I recently got my first gaming-capable PC and have been giving it a workout over the past month. Here’s a few things I’ve come to appreciate.

Old Games Just Work

Half Life 2 came out in 2004 and at the time ran on most people’s computers at resolutions close to 720p (some higher, some lower, but in that ballpark) and most people got 30-ish frames per second. Since then, technology has evolved considerably and on my current machine I can run it at 4K, 300fps. I didn’t have to wait for a remaster or of the game to be upgraded to 64-bit, I lust clicked the “install” button in Steam and it worked.

This isn’t a remaster by any means, and it looks like a 16 year old game in many ways still, but it looks incredibly sharp, and runs at a frame rate higher than any consumer display on the market can even render.

Compare this to the PS4 where old games simply don’t work in the first place, and even if you play them through PS Now, their streaming service, the games look at low-res as they did when they were released. Supposedly this is going to change in the next generation, and Microsoft has done some good work this generation with resolution and frame rate improvements in their backwards compatibility mode, but it’s so much simpler on PC.

And if you compare it to the Mac where 32-bit apps simply don’t work at all, it’s infinitely better than that train wreck. Half Life 2 simply does not run on macOS anymore.

High Frame Rates are Addictive

As a console gamer, I’m pretty used to 30fps games and feeling totally fine with that in most cases. But after spending some time with a pretty high-powered PC, I’m now hooked on 60fps everything. As a dumb, but perfect comparison, Madden 20 has two modes on PS4 Pro:

  1. Standard mode: 60fps at 1080p
  2. High res mode: 30fps at 4k

On the PC, you of course don’t have to choose, and I can get:

  1. 4k at 60fps+

Madden is not a hard game to run, but this 60fps expectation is possible with basically every game. Similarly, Forza Horizon 4 has similar options in its Xbox One X version, but here on the PC I can run at visual settings higher than the best Xbox version and still get over 60fps.

Before getting this machine I would have told you 30fps was fine, but now I treat 60fps as the base and will configure my settings to make sure I hit that at all times.

More Stores Equal More Sales

One confusing thing about PC gaming is that there are many game launchers out there, and many games are only available on one of these, so you need to have like 5 launchers installed to play all the games you want. But there are plenty of games that are sold in multiple places, and with more stores comes more of a chance for games to be on sale, so it feels like you can get a deal easier than waiting for your consoles one store to run a sale.

Also, it’s a little thing, but I have a wishlist on my PS4 store, but Sony doesn’t tell me when those games are on sale. Meanwhile, it seems the major stores on PC do this pretty reliably.

Forza Horizon 4 Might be my Favorite Racing Game Ever

I don’t think I was prepared for just how good Forza Horizon 4 is. I’m not a big fan of racing games, but games like Gran Turismo 4  and Burnout Paradise spent tons of time in my PS2 back in the day. Since then no racing game has managed to capture my imagination like those, and I’ve bounced off all of them pretty quickly. I mean, I’ve dropped more than 100 hours into Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but I think cart racers are a whole different category.

That 15 year drought ended this week when I started playing Forza Horizon 4 for PC. I got the game through Game Pass and honestly just wanted to play it for a bit to test out my new PC and see how beautiful it looked. Well, the game certainly looks good, and it’s optimized to run really well on my system, but I didn’t expect to have sunk 15 hours into the game already and have no intention of stopping anytime soon.

I think the thing that Horizon gets right for me is that it’s kinda of a simulation racer with insane objectives. I like simulation style racing games, because I enjoy driving real cars that feel realistic. I like the danger in taking turns a little too fast and having to hold on for my life, but I get bored pretty quickly by the relatively unexciting tracks I have to do this on. It’s certainly satisfying when you figure out the best angles to attack each turn on a race track, but I don’t personally derive that much joy from doing time trials and trying to get new personal bests.

Forza Horizon 4 has a bunch of real cars and they handle in a way I’d describe as hyper-realistically. They feel realistic, but they’re far more forgiving than these cars would be in real life, and the consequences for running into a tree at 100mph are basically nothing. But for me that’s great! I get the realistic feel of a sim racer in a world where everything is fun and over the top. The game is mostly made up of normal races, but these races are quite varied, and then there are a bunch of speed traps, massive jumps, and hidden goodies all around the world you can find. And then there are the highlight events which have you racing crazy things like hover-boats, trains, and planes. These are more scripted sequences than the standard races, but they lead to some really amazing moments and I looked forward to each new one as they appeared on my map.

And can we talk about how this game starts?! The hook for this version of Horizon is it’s seasonal system, which has the map go from Summer to Fall to Winter to Spring, and the map changes in interesting ways all along the way. To get you into the game and to make sure you experience all the seasons quickly, there is a 5-10 minute opening scene where you’re dropped into 4 separate races with the seasons changing between each one. It’s an absolute thrill, and you get to do some street racing, cross country trails, and dirt rallies all within this super small window of gameplay, and it does a better job than almost any game I can think of at getting you hyped for what’s coming in this game. It’s effectively a tutorial, but it’s also something I desperately wanted to play again after it was done. Game developers of the world take note, this is how you do a tutorial.

Forza Horizon 4 has much more going on, and I’m only scratching the surface here. This is a beast of a game, and there is so much to do that I haven’t even touched yet. We’ll see how long this game can keep its hooks in me, but as of right now it’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had with a racing game and I’ve instantly become very invested in the franchise. Turn 10 Studios did a bang up job on this title and I hope they have something even more amazing cooking for the inevitable Forza Horizon 5.

Nintendo is on Fire

Nintendo is on Fire

The Switch has had a hell of a run since it launched almost exactly 3 years ago. It’s become the best selling console almost every month, and even had Wii-like shortages in the early days that made it challenging to find one for months after launch.

And while the sales numbers look great and customer sat (hat tip, Tim Cook) is through the roof, I think what’s really impressive is how good Nintendo’s first party games have been for the platform. Here are 9 games Nintendo has put out on the Switch:

  1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  2. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  3. Splatoon 2
  4. Super Mario Odyssey
  5. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
  6. Super Smash Bros Ultimate
  7. Super Mario Maker 2
  8. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  9. Luigi’s Mansion

Each of these is a part of an existing Nintendo franchise, sometimes franchises that have been around for 30+ years, and I think each one has an argument to be made that it’s the best entrant in its respective series ever. Not only did Nintendo create great hardware that marketing campaigns around the Switch, but their software quality is through the freaking roof right now.

Now not all of these are universally accepted as the best in each series, but I know for a fact you’ll find plenty of people who would say they are. Mario Odyssey is maybe the most controversial on this list, but even that makes a pretty compelling case for a top 5 Mario game, which is insane considering that impossibly high standard.

I’m just writing this down now because it’s sometimes hard to notice when you’re in a golden age of something, but I think we’re in a golden age of Nintendo games and if that doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will.

You Must Read This Post About the Decade Writing About Video Games

You Must Read This Post About the Decade Writing About Video Games

The Cost Of Being A Woman Who Covers Video Games

At the beginning of 2010, I had no idea how often I would be terrified, over the next ten years, to be writing about video games and gender. I had no idea how tired and jaded I would become by the time 2020 arrived. I had no idea that Gamergate would become international news, that various people I had met in passing at local gaming meet-ups would become talking points for mainstream political pundits beyond the world of games. I had no idea how much games would change, and how hollow and pointless the supposed victories would often feel in comparison to the fear and the pain I experienced and watched my peers experience.

This is the best article I’ve read in weeks. A lot has changed in the past decade when it comes to video games, and this article sums up the often toxic world of “gaming culture.” I love the medium itself, but the abhorrent behavior and gatekeeping of a loud minority of gamers is frankly embarrassing. This article summarizes the “highlights” from the past 10 years perfectly.

This Reboot Needs…a Reboot

This Reboot Needs…a Reboot

Finding Lara Croft - Super Jump Magazine - Medium

Sega has responded to this collision of old and new fans by releasing games like Sonic Generations and Sonic Mania, where they are offering both a clear nostalgic experience alongside upgraded visuals and new content.
In my view, this is what needs to happen with Tomb Raider in order to keep the fun and humour of the classic series going — to preserve its DNA.

I never played the old Tomb Raider games, my actual introduction to the series was 2013’s Tomb Raider and I really loved that game at the time. I then played the sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider, a few years later, and enjoyed it some, but with much less passion than the first one. When 2018 rolled around with a third game in the rebooted franchise, I was over it and never bought the game, even when it was on sale for something like $9.99.

I’m not sure what way the series should go at this point. On the one hand, moving the series away from it’s new super-serious tone sounds good, but on the other, I don’t want them to regress and “just make one like the old games” because that’s as sure a sign as any that there’s nothing left for a franchise.

We’ll see where they decide to go with this franchise, but I definitely share Daryl’s feeling that it can’t just keep doing what it’s currently doing.