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Letter from America: Want an iPhone Game Boy?

Plus: Amazon's video game console.

Greetings all!

I'm kicking off this week with something that we didn't write a story about, but simply tweeted the moment we saw it because we thought it was so cool. It's an HTML5 Game Boy emulator written by New York-based programmer Ben Midi specifically to work with smartphones. It certainly runs beautifully on my iPhone 5 - others have said that it also functions perfectly well on their newer Androids.

All you have to do to make it work is type www.benmidi.com/gameboy into your browser, and hey presto! Your phone is now a Game Boy - complete with a nice selection of old classic games that includes one of my all-time faves, Tetris. The emulated Game Boy's buttons are a tad cramped in portrait mode, but in landscape mode there's plenty of room for your fingers to take you on a highly enjoyable cruise along memory boulevard.

Proper buttons! Proper buttons! My kingdom for some proper buttons!

I'm not sure how bothered Nintendo is about this, but since I played a similar java-based Game Boy emulator about 18 months ago that's still around, it seems that, at least for now, they have more important things to deal with. Either way, this emulator is just another step toward a future where we'll be playing all sorts of interesting stuff on our browsers. And by interesting stuff, I mean really decent games, and not just the simple things we tend to associate with web gaming. I'll be talking a little more about this in an upcoming LFA. I recently spent time with some folks involved in WebGL and the PlayStation 4 UX (whose backbone is WebGL code), and they have some very exciting things to say about how browser gaming will evolve.

Mike also had emulators on his mind this week when he wrote about the best ones currently available for Android. He picked out some interesting apps, which made me look at my iPhone with some degree of irritation. I do like the thing, but sometimes it feels like Apple's vice-like grip is just a tad too iron-clawed. Still, at least I have iMame for it, which I managed to snag in the few minutes it was on the App Store before Apple yoinked it off.

As I'm writing this piece, Mike is putting together a news story about Amazon's rumoured Android-based video game console. The Seattle company showed it was serious about entering the gaming market some weeks ago when it acquired Double Helix, and now it's busy posting gaming jobs that sound pretty damn exciting. Most interesting of all is that Amazon's Lab126 (essentially its consumer electronics R+D department) is looking to bring around 250 new people on board. It certainly sounds like things are beginning to pick up the pace.

Not all of us enjoyed stomping around punching other giant robots in the face.

Titanfall was a big topic of conversation earlier this week. I thoroughly enjoyed playing Beta, and indeed ended up sinking many more hours into it than I thought I would. I didn't enjoy it much at first - but once I stopped playing it like I do CoD, and instead approached it like I used to play Unreal Tournament, it really got under my skin and I was hooked.

Mike and Kat also played it, and we ended up writing a three-way preview where we all chimed in on what we liked and didn't. I do enjoy being involved in this sort of article, as it's fun to compare notes, and indeed gaming tastes.

Speaking of which, Pete also played Titanfall. He's more of yer RPG kinda fella, but he magnanimously gave Titanfall 10 chances to win him over. Did it? Well, you'll have to read his report to find out - it's definitely worthwhile.

Another great article by Pete is something he wrote for Valentine's Day - five games that you shouldn't play with your loved one. I'm sure we can all rattle off plenty of games that are tons o' fun to play with your partner - but how about ones that seem to be designed to keep divorce lawyers in business? Pete's dug up a quintet of real stinkeroos - some of which carry the best-known names in the business.

Jeremy wrote a terrific piece about the plethora of games you can download for the 3DS in Japan that aren't available to us lowly, third world gamers. Some of these are rare gems that go for mondo dinero on eBay in cartridge form, because that's the only way us unworthy Westerners can play them. It's all very specialised stuff, but if you are a hardcore retro/Nintendo fan, you should definitely check it out. Just be warned - it'll likely make you want to buy an import Japanese 3DS so you can play them. Which I'm about to do...

Strider is back in a game that falls just a tad short of greatness.

I'll wrap up with our reviews of the week. First up is one Mr Strider Hiryu, whose welcome return was almost, nearly, but not quite great. I enjoyed it, but at the same time couldn't help but be annoyed by the fact that it's obvious that with just a couple of months of additional playtesting, the new Strider could have been a stunner.

Earth Defense Force 2025 also dished out some decent entertainment, but fell at the last hurdle towards greatness. It's a basic, old-school feeling shooter featuring giant insects that has its tongue very firmly in its cheek. Like Strider, it could have been a little better, but it's still cheap and cheerful.

We also reviewed a game with a name that you most certainly can't ignore - Drunken Robot Pornography. However, while that name conjures up a myriad of possibilities, it's probably not quite the game you think it is. At least, not unless you're expecting a 3D bullet hell shooter.

Cassandra took a look at Banished, an indie city builder/survival game. It's not going to win any awards, but she still found it strangely compelling.

Last, but by no means least is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Despite sounding more like something that you'd buy from an ice cream van, Nintendo's oldest character came out swinging with a platform game par excellence that shows everyone's favourite hairy ape still has what it takes. If you ask us, if you have a Wii U it's an absolute must!

See you next week.

Jaz Rignall is editorial director of USgamer.net, a version of Eurogamer from the country that beat those gosh dang Rooskies at Ice Hockey. Yeeeee haaaaw!

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Jaz Rignall avatar

Jaz Rignall


Jaz Rignall is editorial director of Eurogamer's American cousin, USgamer.net. Back in the day he worked on ZZAP! 64, Mean Machines and C&VG when it was made of paper.