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Win a Civic Type R? Gamers, start your engines!

Petrol heads might have the racing chops for the Civic Type R contest, but gamers have been racing the Nürburgring from our bedrooms for years.

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Honda Civic Type R

Petrol heads might have the racing chops for the Civic Type R contest, but gamers have been racing the Nürburgring from our bedrooms for years.

Honda are updating their car lineup for 2015 at the moment. There’s a facelift of the standard Honda Civic, plus a new Jazz and a relaunch of the HRV, a compact crossover (to rival the ugly Tonka toy Nissan Juke).

Stick with it, I’m coming back around to gaming in a minute…

Those are all very sensible things, though. Honda have had a history of doing very exciting cars too, and they’re making a comeback in the next 18 months. There’s a relaunch of the S2000 roadster, a totally new NSX supercar (which looks… wow) and a brand new Civic Type R, which is very exciting. Everybody loves the NES-era-rocketship-styled pocket rocket, and the new one looks epic.

To prove how epic it is, Honda have thrown the new Civic Type R around the Nürburgring – the test track to end all test tracks – in a fraction over 7 minutes 50 seconds.

That might not sound that fast, but in so doing the new Civic Type R has beaten three Porsches, an AMG Mercedes, a Nissan GT-R, Ferrari 430 and a Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4. Holy shit!

Nearly back at gaming now, I promise…

How would you like to win a brand new Civic Type R? Well your gaming chops might just help you do it.

There we go! Told you it was worth it!

Honda are taking a state of the art simulator, loaded up with the Nürburgring circuit (named affectionately by Sir Jackie Stewart as “the Green Hell”) and a model of the new Civic Type R, for gamers to have a bash at in the hopes of winning the car itself. It will be travelling around car shows, shopping centres and various other locations, which at the time of writing are:

  • 17-19th July – Westfield, London
  • 24-26th July – Silverstone Classic, Northamptonshire
  • 31st July-2nd August – Carfest North, Cheshire
  • 6-9th August – Bristol Balloon Fiesta, Bristol
  • 12-13th August – Spinningfields, Manchester
  • 17-19th August – Finsbury Avenue Square, Broadgate
  • 21-23rd August – Bullring, Birmingham
  • 28-30th August – Carfest South, Hampshire
  • 1st September – Summer Race Day, Epsom Downs Races
  • 5-6th September – Briggate, Leeds
  • 12-13th September – Armada Way, Plymouth
  • 17-18th September – Festival Square, Edinburgh
  • 26-27rd September – West Quay, Southampton
  • 3-4th October – St Davids, Cardiff
  • 10-11th October – Victoria Centre, Nottingham
  • 17-18th October – Metro Shopping Centre, Newcastle
  • 24-25th October – Braehead, Glasgow
  • 30th October – 1st November – Westfield, Stratford

So if you get yourself along to one of those venues, and are the fastest in the country around the Green Hell, then you will be picking up the keys to a brand new Honda Civic Type R.

You may think the petrol heads and experienced racers might have the advantage, but I think it will be a gamer that will come out on top. And sure, the petrol heads might have more experience on track, but how many of them have ever lapped the fearsome Nürburgring?

Whereas the gamers? We’ve been doing it for years, on Gran Turismo, Forza, Need for Speed, Project Gotham Racing… you get the idea. Gamers, start your engines!


Pick up a copy of Forza Motorsport 5 from Amazon to get in some practice.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.

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Super Mario Bros. 35 is out now on Nintendo Switch

The new Super Mario battle-royale game is out now for Nintendo Switch Online members.

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Super Mario Bros. 35 - Nintendo Switch
Nintendo

The new Super Mario battle-royale game is out now for Nintendo Switch Online members.

The Super Mario Bros. 35th anniversary celebrations continue apace with the release today of Super Mario Bros. 35 on Nintendo Switch. The game is based on the 1985 NES classic but adds a battle-royale gameplay twist similar in format to Tetris 99.

The game sees 35 players compete online across classic Mario courses, beginning with the iconic World 1-1. The platforming gameplay comes as naturally as breathing, but this time, defeated Koopa Troopers and Goombas are sent over to other players’ courses to disrupt their progress. You’re also up against the clock which counts down from 35 seconds and has to be topped up by stomping on enemies. The fun continues until there’s one Mario left standing.

It’s a simple concept, and in our brief time with the game, a well-executed one. Matches are chaotic and pleasingly clumsy with familiar levels made significantly more challenging. The game is also exquisitely produced with a user interface that echoes Super Mario Maker.

Here’s the launch trailer.

Super Mario Bros 35 is free to download and play for Nintendo Switch Online members at no additional cost. Weirdly – and just like the recently released Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection – the game is only available until March 31, 2021. To get it, navigate to the Nintendo Switch Online section of the Switch eShop.


Get updates on the latest Xbox One, Switch, and PlayStation 4 video games via our new releases page. And follow Thumbsticks on Twitter and Facebook for daily news updates.

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October’s PlayStation Plus games are fast and frightening

Sony has confirmed the two PlayStation 4 games coming to PlayStation Plus in October 2020.

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PlayStation Plus
Sony / Thumbsticks

Sony has confirmed the two PlayStation 4 games coming to PlayStation Plus in October 2020.

First on the starting grid is EA’s Need for Speed Payback. Which Need for Speed is that you ask? It’s the 2017 effort from Ghost Games. The racing isn’t actually that bad, but the game is dragged down by creaky storytelling and aggressive microtransactions. It’s worth a quick spin.

Next up is Vampyr, Dontnod’s 2018 tale of bloodlust and revenge set in Edwardian London. It’s a distinctly AA game but not without merit for fans of gothic fiction and Hippocratic hokum. In our review, we said that a “vivid sense of time and place, and a fantastic central idea, soon turn pale with repetitive combat and a forest of conversation trees.” It certainly doesn’t suck.

Both of next month’s free PlayStation Plus games are available to download from October 6, 2020.

PlayStation Plus free games – October 2020

  • Need for Speed Payback
  • Vampyr

September’s PlayStation Plus games – PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Street Fighter V – are available to download until next week. And if you’re playing on Xbox One, Microsoft has also confirmed the four titles coming to Games with Gold in October.


Take a look at our new releases page for regular updates on the latest Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PS4 games. You should also follow Thumbsticks on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard.

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CD Projekt Red reneges on ‘non-obligatory crunch policy’ for Cyberpunk 2077

Developers will have to crunch, and crunch hard, until Cyberpunk 2077 releases in November.

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Cyberpunk 2077 crunch
CD Projekt Red

Developers will have to crunch, and crunch hard, until Cyberpunk 2077 releases in November.

In 2019, before Cyberpunk 2077’s big E3 showing, CD Projekt Red requested an interview with Jason Schreier, then of Kotaku. Schreier, now with Bloomberg, is one of the industry’s foremost voices on video game labour and conditions, with a level of access many of us dream of.

In that conversation, which was published on Kotaku, CD Projekt Red co-founder Marcus Iwiński spoke of a “non-obligatory crunch policy” for developers working on Cyberpunk 2077, and promised that the developer, famed for its intense crunch on games like The Witcher 3, wanted “to be more humane and treat people with respect”.

Now, weeks out from the release of Cyberpunk 2077, Schreier reports that mandatory crunch is now in effect at CD Projekt Red, following an email from studio head Adam Badowski.

Per the Bloomberg article, quoted verbatim as Thumbsticks has not seen the email directly:

“Starting today, the entire (development) studio is in overdrive,” Badowski wrote, elaborating that this meant “your typical amount of work and one day of the weekend.” The extra work would be paid, as required by Polish labor laws. Many other video game studios don’t pay for overtime.

“I take it upon myself to receive the full backlash for the decision,” he wrote. “I know this is in direct opposition to what we’ve said about crunch. It’s also in direct opposition to what I personally grew to believe a while back — that crunch should never be the answer. But we’ve extended all other possible means of navigating the situation.”

It’s important to stress at this point that crunch is not simply “a bit of overtime”, as many armchair commentators on social media are quick to suggest. Crunch, in video game development terms, is the systematic failure of project management that leads to extended periods – weeks, months, or sometimes years – of development staff working horrific hours with no respite. That will often involve six- or seven-day weeks, evenings and weekends, totalling 60-, 70-, or 80-hour weeks. Week in, week out. For months. Delays to release dates, which you might think offer a reprieve, often simply extend and elongate the crunch.

CD Projekt Red is always keen to point out that – as per Polish labour law – crunch is paid overtime for its employees, reportedly time-and-a-half for evenings and double-time for weekends. This sounds brilliant to our American friends and colleagues, who – far removed from the sorts of working time protections we enjoy in the EU – might have to perform similar crunch with no additional remuneration, only holding onto the vague promise of bonuses should the game perform well upon release.

And for an odd evening here or there, or the weekend before release, that would be fine. That would just be regular overtime.

But when crunch is a culture and lasts for months – or years – it’s no wonder that burnout is endemic in this industry and attrition rates are so high. It’s also often referred to as “optional” but there is a tacit expectation that everyone must crunch; just look at Rockstar, where the Housers reportedly expected everyone to be working if they were, and they were always working. Nobody wants to be seen as letting their teammates down when everyone else is suffering together, missing their families, struggling with their mental health and exhaustion.

Crunch is far from the only issue with Cyberpunk 2077, with questions around the game’s use of racial stereotypes, cultural appropriation, and attitudes towards transgender people circling since that E3 demo. And no doubt people will still buy it in droves. A large portion of the gaming public simply won’t care about the cultural harm or the conditions its developers face. Or, at least, will care less about that than their desire to play the hot new video game. Some will see working on a game like Cyberpunk 2077 as such a “dream job” that people should suffer any poor conditions with a smile.

But we once thought that the food industry wouldn’t change, as was the case with battery-farmed eggs. Then, when the public stopped buying them in favour of higher-welfare options, the industry changed its ways. The same is true of the cosmetics industry and the growth of cruelty-free products with the “Leaping Bunny” accreditation, or the market for ethically-sourced produce with certifications like “Fairtrade” or “Rainforest Alliance”.

These campaigns prove that when the public votes with its feet – or more to the point, with its wallet – then the industry of production can change.


Follow Thumbsticks on Twitter or Facebook for more video game news.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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Peter Parker has been ‘recast’ in the Marvel’s Spider-Man PS5 remaster

You might have noticed something a little… different about Peter Parker in the PS5 remaster of Marvel’s Spider-Man.

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Peter Parker recast Marvel's Spider-Man remaster PS5
Sony / Insomniac Games

You might have noticed something a little… different about Peter Parker in the PS5 remaster of Marvel’s Spider-Man.

The narrative around the remaster of Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PlayStation 5 has been confusing, to say the least. Now, it’s gotten weird.

If you own the base game on PS4, for instance, you don’t get a free upgrade on PS5. Nor will you get to carry over your saves between generations. But if you buy Spider-Man: Miles Morales for PlayStation 4, then you will get a free upgrade to PS5 for that. But you can’t buy the ultimate edition of Marvel’s Spider-Man – that includes both the remaster of the original game and the Miles Morales expandalone – for PS4, so yeah, you’ll basically have to buy it again in some form to get the remaster.

Got that? Good. Except it just got weirder.

Remember Peter Parker, AKA title character Spider-Man, in the PS4 game? Well, he’s looking a little… different in the PS5 remaster.

What appears to have happened, here, is that Insomniac has recast Peter Parker, like Aunt Viv’s sudden change after the third season of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. But that happened because (reportedly) Will Smith fell out with original Aunt Viv actor Janet Hubert. That can’t have happened with an already-modelled digital character, right?

Here’s the explanation, from Insomniac community director James Stevenson, on the official PlayStation Blog:

“In order to bring the best performances to players with our next-generation Marvel’s Spider-Man games, we have recast the face of Peter Parker. We loved working with John Bubniak on the original game; however, to get a better match to Peter Parker/Spider-Man actor Yuri Lowenthal’s facial capture, we have cast Ben Jordan to be the face model for Peter Parker on the PS5 console. He looks incredible in-game, and Yuri’s moving performances take on a new life.”

Which… is technically an “explanation” but it’s still weird, right?

Fans of the game are making fun of the changes on Twitter, with many speculating that it’s to make the video game character resemble his big-screen counterpart, Tom Holland.

You can see why people are thinking that. What’s also weird is that, for an “older” portrayal of Spider-Man – 23, according to the game’s marketing – he now looks significantly younger; far closer to the high school-aged Parker of the current Marvel movies.

And it’s still weird.


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Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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Elite Dangerous paid expansion, Horizons, will soon be free for all players

The 2015 Horizons expansion is being added to Elite Dangerous in anticipation of its major Odyssey expansion in 2021.

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Elite Dangerous - Horizons
Frontier Developments

The 2015 Horizons expansion is being added to Elite Dangerous in anticipation of its major Odyssey expansion in 2021.

Frontier Developments has announced that Elite Dangerous, its space (trucker) simulator and competitor to Star Citizen, will have its only paid expansion, the 2015-released Horizons, folded into the main game on October 27 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

The expansion added planetary landing, weapon crafting, ship-launched fighters, multi-crew co-op, and exploration with the SRV Scarab ground vehicle, among other things.

For those who invested early – perhaps five years early – they will be granted an exclusive “Azure ship paint job” compatible with all ships. Get in there quick, then, and it could still be yours.

It all comes in anticipation of the game’s major add-on coming in 2021, Odyssey. The major expansion will add on-foot exploration of planets, first-person combat, refreshed visuals, social hubs, NPC missions, thousands of new settlements, and more. There will be no VR on launch, but perhaps you can forgive them that?

The game is already a bottomless pit of sheer space given that less than 1% of its galaxy has even been explored according to Frontier. These expansions should do a lot to add colour to the void.


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Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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