Games and gear

Crave giveaway: $500 shopping spree from Shopping

Congratulations to Christopher N. of Castle Rock, Colo., for winning a Philips Fidelio SoundRing wireless speaker in last week's giveaway. Readers have loved past shopping sprees at Shopping, so we're back with another one, and it's big-ticket.

This week's winner gets a $500 gift certificate from the massive online retailer, which sells everything from consumer electronics to furniture, clothes, shoes, jewelry, toys, sports gear, and well, more stuff upon stuff. Yep, $500. And next week marks a great time to go all consumer-crazy up on Shopping, since it will hold a big sale, with goods up to 70 percent off sitewide. … Read more

Scrabble to get new official word: Twerk? Derp? Photobomb?

Sneaking in a made-up Scrabble word and getting away with it is almost as much fun as playing a legitimate one that uses three Zeds -- Zyzzyva, anyone? Word nerds who attempt to sneak illegal words like "huzzah" and "bazinga" past their friends may be happy to know that they can now nominate a new word into Hasbro's official Scrabble Players Dictionary, which hasn't been updated in more than nine years.

Fans have the chance to chime in on the Hasbro Game Night Facebook Page comments section to suggest their favorite new word to be added, now through March 28. … Read more

The 404 1,444: Where we're trapped in a phone booth (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Amazon Prime fee jumps to $99 a year.

- The most legendary phone booth in the country is back, with conferencing.

- Here's a map of said phone booth and one of the first transcribed conversations that took place there.

- The best theater in the galaxy: now you can watch "Gravity" in zero gravity.… Read more

Next Angry Birds game a turn-based RPG

If you wanted more bird-flinging, it looks like you might be in for a wait: Developer Rovio has revealed that the next title in the Angry Birds series is a turn-based RPG.

Our heroes are, of course, the birds, with each bird being a different character class; the red bird, for example, is the knight (obviously; see the teaser trailer below), and the yellow bird is the wizard. You'll lead them into battle across a fantasy-themed Piggy Island, defeating the pigs, apparently, on their home turf -- presumably the story will reveal the whys and wherefores.

It also seems … Read more

Mathematician says Candy Crush is really, really hard

I confess that I occasionally laugh at my mathematician friends. (They laugh at me all the time.)

What stirs me is the stimulus/response mechanism that urges them to reduce everything to math. It doesn't matte whether it's global warming or intercontinental warring, they can find a mathematical answer.

I know it's not (always) their fault, but when they start to discuss who ate what at dinner, in order to split the check, my teeth begin to talk among themselves.

I am secretly overjoyed, therefore, that mathematicians have declared that something mundane is quite difficult for them.… Read more

The 404 1,443: Where we're taking the couch by storm (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Neil Young just destroyed his funding goals for a digital music player on Kickstarter.

- Meet the people making new games for Atari, Super NES, and Virtual Boy.

- Funny or Die was's No. 1 traffic referrer yesterday.

- Bill O'Reilly bites back at Obama's appearance on "Between Two Ferns."… Read more

Twitch Plays Pokemon: In conversation with the phenomenon's creator (Q&A)

Thirty-six million views. 1.16 million unique players, with 121,000 connected simultaneously at one point. For a major videogame publisher, those numbers would be nothing to scoff at. (Indeed, that's more people than are playing Battlefield 4 online currently, across all five platforms.) For an independent port of an 18-year-old game originally intended to be played on the humble Nintendo Game Boy, that's nothing short of a marvel.

Built on top of the Twitch game streaming platform, Twitch Plays Pokemon (or TPP) was an attempt to play through Pokemon Red, where everyone in the chat room had … Read more

Dong Nguyen on the return of Flappy Bird: 'I'm considering it'

The creator of Flappy Bird is doing quite well since he decided to pull the smartphone game from the iOS App and Google Play Stores last month. Dong Nguyen, the 28-year-old Hanoi, Vietnam-based game designer, is still making tens of thousands of dollars off the addictive mobile hit that pushed smartphone users to a game-playing fever pitch, as well as his other titles, Shuriken Block and Super Ball Juggling, that earned success by association.

The clones are countless; a new one was sprouting up on the App Store an average of every 24 minutes in the immediate wake of Flappy … Read more

Digging for Atari's 'corporate shame,' the buried E.T. games

AUSTIN, Texas -- E.T. wants to go home. But first there will have to be a massive excavation of a city's garbage dump.

As is part of video-game industry lore, in 1983 Atari ran screaming from its ill-advised E.T. game and hastily and quietly buried millions of cartridges. Somewhere. No one was quite sure where.

It turns out the where was Alamgordo, N.M., and almost certainly deep in the giant city garbage dump. Last year, a team of filmmakers announced they're working on a documentary about the infamous E.T. game disaster -- which cost … Read more

The 404 1,442: Where we're all mixed up (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Popcorn Time is just like Netflix, but everything is pirated.

- Polygon examines everything that went wrong with the "Street Fighter" movie.

- People are selling their organs on Facebook.

- In which Jeff attempts to explain cloud-gaming in Titanfall to Justin.… Read more