Streaming in Canada on Prime Video, Apple TV+, Crave, Disney+ and Netflix [May 23-29]

Every week, MobileSyrup outlines some of the most notable movies and TV shows that recently hit Canadian streaming platforms. Our ‘Streaming in Canada’ column typically focuses on new content from Amazon Prime Video, Crave and Netflix, but other services like Apple TV+ and Disney+ will be mentioned when relevant. Premium video on demand (PVOD) platforms are also […]

This Week In Techdirt History: May 22nd – 28th

Five Years Ago This week in 2017, the FCC was still working hard to ignore support for net neutrality and also ignore how fake much of the opposition was, while Apple and Verizon were joining forces to lobby against the right to repair. We learned more about how little it takes to be branded a […]

Nintendo recap: Sega’s Sonic plans and Pokémon fan pays tribute to OG art

Plus, Pokémon fans reimagined what Gen 1 would look like in 3D using the original art style.

Welcome to yet another Nintendo recap where we discuss all things Nintendo! To start things off, three additional classic games found their way onto Nintendo Switch Online this week. Plus, the 3DS and Wii U eShops no longer accept funds from credit cards as we count down to the day that these services no longer accept purchases of any kind.

In other news, some Pokémon fans created a stunning video that shows off what the Gen 1 games would look like if they used the original art style in 3D. Sega also discussed what its plans are for Sonic games going forward. There’s even more Nintendo news to cover, so let’s dive in.

Sega intends Sonic Frontiers to lead the way for future Sonic games

In a recent Q&A session following an investor briefing, Sega spoke about its plans for Sonic Frontiers and what it hopes to achieve with the blue blur’s upcoming came (thanks, VGC).The game is set to…

Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds is a solid, if peculiar, mobile MMO

Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds key art

Admittedly, hearing the term “mobile MMORPG” (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) doesn’t exactly appeal to me right away.

In general, I don’t like mobile gaming, and MMOs — outside of Final Fantasy XIV — are absolutely not my cup of tea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZwEGP2t2Vw

Having said all of that, Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds — a new mobile MMO from Netmarble — is pretty solid. Co-developed by Ni no Kuni maker Level-5, the game puts you in the shoes of a beta tester who’s thrown into a virtual world. I’ve only played a few hours of the original Ni no Kuni way back in 2013, so I can’t speak to what connections — if any — Cross Worlds has to that or its sequel. (I also think Cross World‘s premise is a little odd considering you’d assume this was just a regular colourful fantasy world, but I digress.)

Looking past all of the frivolous story beats, the game has a lot of charm. Immediately, I was impressed by the lush, console-quality visuals. The painterly aesthetic absolutely pops, especially on my iPhone 13 Pro, and the animations are lively and fluid. On top of that, Joe Hisaishi, the composer of the previous Ni no Kuni games and numerous Studio Ghibli films, has scored Cross Worlds. I’ve been going on a Ghibli rewatch ahead of Hisaishi’s Toronto concert, and his splendid music adds even more to Cross Worlds‘ lovely presentation.

But Cross Worlds also has one of the oddest design choices I’ve seen in a while: it can be played almost entirely by itself. To be sure, it’s not uncommon for MMOs and mobile games to have some sort of automation, but I’m not exaggerating when I say that Cross Worlds automatically does nearly everything for you. After creating my character, the magical spear-wielding Witch, and personalizing her using the game’s serviceable customization options, I was thrown into a quick tutorial. This opening stretch was the most hands-on I got. (For what it’s worth, the other four classes seem decent so far: the Rogue (an archer who can cast buffs), Destroyer (a hammer-equipped tank), Engineer (boasts guns, machines and healing spells) and Swordsman (exactly what he sounds like).

Ni no Kuni Cross Worlds Witch A Witch.

Upon completing this intro, I was thrown into the game’s overworld, which was initially nice to soak in thanks to the wonderful visuals and music. But that was short-lived, as the game almost immediately started taking my character, on auto-pilot, to the next story mission, featuring a strange British accented pig-like floating creature named Cluu. As I let this go on, I was taken into a battle where my character… did basically everything for me, outside of dodging enemy attacks. Throughout all of this, the only interaction I had was tapping the screen to skip dialogue options and accept my reward for completing the quest.

Of course, you can turn all of this off, so there’s some level of input on your part. And I can even see how automation might be useful for some looking to avoid the notorious “MMO grind,” especially since the game bafflingly doesn’t have controller support at the time of writing. That said, it was weird for it to be on by default. Moreover, it honestly made me a little less enthusiastic about playing. After all, if the game can do virtually everything for me, then what’s the point?

Following this mission, I decided to play manually, which fared okay. In combat, your character has a standard combo attack and six special skills that operate on a cooldown. For my Witch, these included a mix of fire-based ranged spells and close-quarters spear jabs, which look delightfully flashy. You can also roll out of the way of attacks, but I didn’t find myself needing to do that. (Naturally, the game can’t be very difficult — at least this early on — and require you to dodge if the automated combat can’t actually do that itself). In the end, it’s all pretty standard stuff for an RPG on mobile, but it works reasonably well.

Ni no Kuni Cross Worlds

But where I’m relatively lukewarm on the combat, I’m quite impressed with Cross World‘s breadth of content. There’s a slew of quests in here, each offering its own rewards through which you can purchase and upgrade gear. There are also recruitable ‘Familiar’ creatures that can help you in battle, adding a Pokémon-esque monster-catching element. And best of all, the game has a robust social offering. On top of the expected co-op and PvP (player vs. player) options, there’s a neat “kingdom” mechanic, through which you can team up with others to rebuild destroyed territory. In a way, it sort of reminds me of the novel asynchronous multiplayer elements of Death Stranding, wherein you pooled resources together with other players to construct a new world, except in Cross World you actually see other people. As you build the kingdom, you all get access to shops, special battles and other rewards, making it well worth your while. I’m generally someone who likes to run through MMOs as solo as possible, but I certainly appreciate that this content is here.

In the end, I haven’t spent a significant amount of time with Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds, but it so far hasn’t quite dug its hooks into me. But I admit that this is more down to my personal tastes of not normally being into this sort of game, rather than anything overtly wrong with it. I also can’t speak to how intrusive the in-app purchases might be, although the knowledge that Netmarble has gross blockchain and NFTs planned for the game is genuinely offputting.

For now, though, Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds is worth trying out, especially if you’re a mobile gamer. After all, being free-to-play removes the subscription barrier that many MMOs have. If nothing else, it sure looks and sound pretty.

Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds can be downloaded on Android, iOS and PC.

Image credit: Netmarble

Ex-golf pro links with Seattle-area AI experts on app that uses 3D motion analysis to improve game


Before you take yet another mulligan, the tool to improving your golf game might not be found in your bag of clubs. The makers of an app that employs artificial intelligence and 3D motion analysis say they’ve created a revolutionary way to improve your golf swing through a video shot on your phone. Sportsbox AI is a startup that launched in 2021 out of AI Thinktank, a Bellevue, Wash.-based incubator for AI ideas founded by tech veterans Mike Kennewick and Rich Kennewick. They’re the brothers who founded Voicebox Technologies, an early leader in speech recognition and natural language tech that sold in 2018.… Read More

Automate your home with the best HomeKit smart plugs out there

The best smart plugs for HomeKit can help bring your older devices into the modern era. These simple HomeKit accessories can turn on your coffee maker at sunrise automatically through scenes and automations created in the Home app. They can also turn your lights on and off when you’re home or away. If you are ready to elevate your home’s intelligence, here are some of the best smart plugs for HomeKit that you can buy.

Best for most

Belkin’s Wemo Mini Smart Plug, Wi-Fi enabled

Staff Favorite

Belkin’s Wemo Mini features a slim profile that won’t block the other plug on the wall, allowing two of them to be used in a single outlet. This smart plug is super conveninent because you don’t need a hub; simply connect to HomeKit, Alexa, or Google Assistant and the Wemo app on iOS and Android. The Wemo Mini is also UL certified.

$24 at Amazon

$25 at Target

$25 at Best Buy

Budget-friendly

meross Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini

The meross plug mini is a favorite of ours at iMore. When we test…

Netflix adds content warning to Stranger Things season 4 premiere after Texas school shooting

Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven. | Netflix

Due to the general but chilling similarities the opening scenes of Stranger Things 4 bear to the recent mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Netflix has issued a content warning.

In addition to a recap of Stranger Things’ previous chapters, the new season starts with a short message explaining that while production on Stranger Things 4 wrapped in 2021, viewers may be disturbed by the parallels between scenes from the first episode and the real world Texas school shooting that left two teachers and 19 school children dead. In the days leading up to Stranger Things’ season 4 premiere, Netflix had previously uploaded the scenes in question to YouTube as a teaser, but the video has since been pulled down. Netflix’s…

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