Super Mario Bros. Movie Pirates Getting Hit With Malware

A Super Mario Bros. Movie still shows a beat up Mario sitting on the floor.

Some mfrs always trying to ice skate uphill.
Screenshot: Illumination / Nintendo

If you thought you were being slick by downloading illegal uploads of The Super Mario Bros Movie online (and perhaps uploading them in parts to Twitter), there’s a chance your computer has a mystery item box of its own in the form of a malicious virus—womp womp.

According to a recent report from cybersecurity company ReasonLabs, hackers infected bootleg copies of The Super Mario Bros. Movie with a Trojan virus that—instead of downloading a ripped copy of Nintendo and Illumination’s box-office record-breaking movie—installs a browser extension that steals users’ private information. According to Axios, the sensitive information the Mario malware looks for is user passwords and financial information saved specifically to Google Chrome’s browser.

“The malicious extension is hijacking the users’ web search functions by giving itself numerous sensitive browser permissions,” ReasonLabs wrote in its report. “Because it’s a local extension, it can’t be removed from the Google Chrome Web store. Moreover, it’s not supervised or inspected by the Google Chrome Web store team and therefore is not bound by security restrictions.”

Read More: Sheesh, The Full Super Mario Bros. Movie Keeps Popping Up On Twitter

The risk of malware infecting illegal copies of movies comes with the territory of willingly choosing to download them, and ReasonLabs thinks the malware Mario movie has the potential to affect over a million people’s computers. Outside of reports from its own users, ReasonLabs said “there are seemingly millions of affected users around the world” since April 30.

Of course, this technological hardship could have been avoided if said pirates, I don’t know, waited a week for The Super Mario Bros. Movie to come out on digital but sometimes pain is an excellent teacher.

Diablo IV Fans Who Hit Level 100 In Permadeath Get Cool Reward

After a decade-long wait, the next chapter in Diablo is finally upon us. With it come dozens of dungeons and a sizable open world filled with legions of demons to slaughter. Millions will no doubt answer the call and take up arms, but Blizzard has now issued a special challenge for those willing to brave the game’s toughest difficulty, with victory offering immortality. Well, your name will be carved into a statue, at least.

Diablo IV is the latest in Blizzard’s long-running series of classic action RPGs. Set in a dark, twisted fantasy world called Sanctuary, where players must overcome tremendous forces of evil, the game aims to deliver a perpetually satisfying cycle of demon killing and loot hunting. Early reviews suggest a game that will live up to the expectations the series has set, though palpable anxiety over its monetization model remains. For those looking for an even greater challenge than what the normal difficulty can offer, the series’ popular hardcore mode returns.

Hardcore mode doesn’t, in and of itself, make the monsters you face more difficult. Rather, it means that your hero has but one life to live. Die and see your character permanently deleted, all your hard-earned levels and skills with them. As a special incentive to brave the challenge of potential permadeath while racing up the game’s ranks, Blizzard will reward the first 1,000 players to hit level 100 in a unique way, carving their BattleTags into a real, physical statue of the game’s antagonist, Lilith.

Read More: Diablo IV Reviews Suggest It’s More Of the Same, In A Good Way

Blizzard announced the challenge on the game’s official Twitter page on May 26, 2023. The game is expected to go live on June 1 for those who’ve preordered the game, and with it the challenge to be among the first 1,000 players to hit level 100 in hardcore mode.

In order to be considered for the challenge, Blizzard is asking players to submit proof of their victories with a photo or video submission and a public tweet using the #Diablo4Hardcore hashtag alongside their Battle.net BattleTag.

The challenge will run until 1,000 players hit level 100 in hardcore mode. If less than 1,000 players hit this mark by September 1, those who have met the challenge up to that point will be honored.
As is to be expected, Blizzard has also published a lengthy list of terms and conditions for the challenge, which you should take a gander at if you’re curious.

The Last of Us Dev Naughty Dog Is About To Hit A Huge Shake-Up

Neil Druckmann is shown being interviewed.

Screenshot: Max / Kotaku

Naughty Dog, the developer behind The Last of Us and Uncharted, is about to undergo a pretty big shakeup in leadership. Co-president Evan Wells has announced he’ll be retiring, and co-president and Last of Us director Neil Druckmann will be the sole president of the company moving forward.

Wells wrote about his departure on the studio’s website, saying he’s retiring from the studio after 25 years, but that he’s confident in Druckmann and the rest of Naughty Dog’s current management to lead the company in his absence.

“The decision brings with it overwhelming and conflicting emotions, but I’ve come to realize that I’m content with my time at the studio and all that we’ve accomplished together over the last 25 years,” Wells wrote. “I couldn’t be more confident in Neil’s ability to carry on running the studio. It’s the right time for me to provide the opportunity for him and the others on the Studio Leadership Team to steer the studio into a successful future.”

Wells has worked at Naughty Dog since 1998. After a stint at Crystal Dynamics working on the Gex series, Wells joined the studio as a lead designer on Crash Bandicoot: Warped, then worked on the Jak series, ultimately stepping into the co-president role in 2004. Meanwhile, Druckmann joined the studio in 2004 as a programmer on the Jak series, moving into writing roles on the Uncharted series before becoming a director for The Last of Us games. He stepped into the co-president role in 2020.

What’s unclear now is if Naughty Dog will have Druckmann remain as the sole president and head of creative of the company, or if it will hire or move someone to Wells’ position in the future. Wells was co-president at Naughty Dog for most of his stint at the top of the studio, though in 2017 when Christophe Balestra retired as co-president, Wells was the sole acting president until Druckmann’s promotion in 2020. So it’s not unheard of for the studio to have a single president.

Alongside whatever Naughty Dog is working on, Druckmann is currently working with Max on the Emmy-nominated Last of Us live-action TV series as director and co-writer. So he’s pretty busy these days.

Naughty Dog’s last new game was 2020’s The Last of Us Part II, after which it released a PS5 remake of the original PS3 game. It’s also working on a multiplayer game set in its post-apocalyptic universe, but has yet to show the project to the public.

Call of Duty Players Flood Fixed Xbox 360 Servers, Hit Problems

A Call of Duty: Black Ops image shows a soldier sneaking up on two enemy soldiers in a narrow hallway.

Image: Activision

In a surprise move, Activision has revived the multiplayer servers for a number of Xbox 360-era Call of Duty games, and it’s proved to be a popular decision. In fact, this past weekend, Xbox 360 Call of Duty games reportedly had more players than both Halo Infinite and Battlefield 2042 combined.

Read More: Microsoft And Sony Finally Reach Deal For The Future Of Call Of Duty On PlayStation

According to the Call of Duty news account ModernWarzone, this weekend saw more people playing Xbox 360-era CoD games that were released over 10 years ago than there were playing contemporary first-person shooters like Halo Infinite and series rival Battlefield 2042. Xbox fan account IdleSloth84_ corroborated this news with screenshots revealing that there were 123,852 people playing CoD: Black Ops, 11,514 people playing CoD: Black Ops II, and 79,619 people playing CoD: Modern Warfare 3 on Xbox 360 servers. CoD: Black Ops was first released in 2010, and CoD: Modern Warfare 3 was released the following year.

Read More: Microsoft: Pulling Call of Duty From Steam Was A ‘Failure’

While the server fixes come at an auspicious time for enthusiastic players inclined to celebrate in the streets about Microsoft and Sony coming to terms with their joint custody over the mega-popular first-person shooter franchise, reliving the glory days of these decade-old games on current-gen Xbox consoles is coming with some last-gen problems.

Unfortunately, hackers are reportedly still present in the old-school servers, and the gameplay is feeling a bit off on the Xbox Series X/S, as some players are experiencing input delay on their ninth-generation consoles. Currently, it’s unknown whether Activision will continue working to improve the experience of these older games for players who are experiencing issues.

   

Hit Steam Game Remnant 2 Has A Secret Only Dataminers Can Find

Remnant II, a new Souls-like shooter developed by Gunfire Games, contains a lot of secrets, including a whole, completely hidden player class. But, twist: The devs hid it so well that only dataminers would ever find it. And they just did.

Released earlier this month, Remnant II has become one of the most popular games on Steam thanks to its tight combat and Soulslike gameplay. While its launch has been a bit messy due to performance issues, an upcoming patch should help improve on what is already one of 2023’s best games. But another reason Remnant II is doing so well is that the RPG shooter is chockablock with hidden secrets, with the game’s devs suggesting it has “secrets within secrets within secrets” that players have yet to find. One of these hidden treats is the secret Archon class, which has a strange list of requirements to unlock, so much so that it’d be nearly impossible for someone to stumble upon the solution naturally. You’d have to be incredibly lucky…or a dataminer, which was all part of the developers’ plans.

As spotted by Forbes, on July 28 Remnant II’s principal designer Ben Cureton tweeted about the secret, saying that players needed to “penetrate the code itself” to unlock the hidden class.

“We knew we couldn’t stop datamining,” tweeted Cureton, “so we leaned into it and created an entire Archetype that could be shared with the community once revealed by those with the ability to see between worlds.”

In other words, the steps needed to unlock the class were buried in the game, and once dataminers found it, they could share that info with everyone, letting all players access the secret class.

How to unlock the Archon class in Remnant II

If you were wondering how you unlock the new class, here are the steps courtesy of dataminers. First, you’ll need to level up two other classes and gather some items, then equip them all. Here’s the full list of stuff you need to do:

  • Level the Invader Archetype to 5 with the Worm Hole skill activated.
  • Level the Explorer Archetype to 10 with the Fortune Hunter skill activated.
  • Equip Leto’s Amulet.
  • Equip Amber Moonstone ring.
  • Equip Anastasija’s Inspiration ring.
  • Equip Zania’s Malice ring.
  • Equip the Black Cat Band ring.
  • Wear the Realmwalker armour.
  • Equip Ford’s Scattergun primary.
  • Equip the Cube Gun secondary.
  • Equip the Labyrinth Staff melee weapon.
  • Equip the Void Heart relic.

Once you have all this equipped, head to the corrupted door found in the Labyrinth. There, you’ll discover a Strange Box engram in the Backrooms. And that’s your ticket to gaining access to this uniquely hidden class.

For a game that is filled with secrets—in a genre that is also famous for hiding stuff and obfuscating information—it’s a really cool way to reward the most dedicated fans while also still keeping all of your playerbase involved.

People are going to datamine your video game. It’s 2023. That’s just what happens. You can be angry about it, you can bemoan the spoilers or wish it wasn’t the case, but none of that changes the fact that nowadays there is an army of expert dataminers out there waiting to pull your game and all of its updates apart, piece by piece. You can fight it, as some devs have done, or you can embrace it, like Gunfire Games has done here with this hidden class.

Personally, I think it’s a lot cooler to embrace dataminers and reward (or troll) them. Letting these players then share new, hidden knowledge with the rest of the community makes it so everyone feels involved and a part of something bigger. Good shit all around.

Narrator Outtakes Are A Critical Hit

Lae'zel readies her blade.

Image: Larian

As a seasoned lover and player of many tabletop roleplaying games myself, Baldur’s Gate 3 has been a joy to play. In my dozen or so hours thus far, one of my favorite elements of this digital adaptation of Dungeons & Dragons is just how lushfully present and entertaining the game’s narrator is. And recently, the narrator’s voice actor has shared her vocal outtakes of the recording sessions, and, yes, they are absolute gold.

Based on the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game, Baldur’s Gate 3 replicates much of the experience of playing a game of D&D with friends, complete with a narrator who serves the DM’s role in describing various sensations and observations in equally evocative and descriptive ways. For this role, Baldur’s Gate 3 stars actor and voiceover artist Amelia Tyler as the game’s guiding voice, wonderfully filling that essential second-person phrasing many of us GMs and TTRPG fans are used to. She’s starred in a number of other games (including the two Pathfinder CRPGs) and has a YouTube channel where recent uploads contain narrator outtakes from Larian’s latest CRPG epic. Drop what you’re doing and check these out:

Amelia Tyler

If that was too brief for you, worry not, as Tyler has posted two additional videos with outtakes in recent days.

Here’s the second:

Amelia Tyler

And the third:

Amelia Tyler

It’s hard to pick a favorite line here, and I’m kinda torn between: “That could be the tagline for the entire game: Frantic bi energy,” and, “Terror Fuck, that’s my new death metal band,” which, hey, if you’re game, Amelia, I just got a new eight-string and am ready to hit the road and make that happen. (I’m through with the whole living-out-of-a-van phase of my guitar-playing life, though.)

Roblox Hit With Lawsuit Claiming It Profits Off Child Gambling

An image shows a robber running away in Jailbreak.

Image: Roblox

Roblox has long been accused of not doing enough to make sure its massively popular gaming platform is free of toxicity and exploitation. Now parents are joining together in a class-action lawsuit to take the $17 billion company to court over allegations that it gets children into online gambling and profits off of it.

As first reported by Bloomberg Law (via Axios), the lawsuit was filed in federal court in the Northern District of California on August 15 on behalf of parents Rachel Colvin and Danielle Sass. They accuse the enormously successful game creation tool (that doubles as an online social hangout with over 65 million active users)of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and claim it acts in concert with third-party websites “to profit from gambling games meant to attract kids.”

A handful of online gambling sites are also included as defendants in the lawsuit. The parents’ argument rests on the fact that Roblox users, including kids, can use their in-game Robux paid for with real world cash to gamble on virtual items. While Roblox officially bars gambling and other illicit activities, the lawsuit claims the company is complicit since it allows the funds to be transferred to the gambling websites directly through the Robux wallet, on which it earns a healthy commission.

“Each of the Illegal Gambling Websites operates on or in concert with Roblox and the Gambling Website Defendants, facilitating an exchange of Robux for gambling credits that occurs on the Roblox platform,” the lawsuit alleges. “Indeed, Robux never leave the Roblox platform until they are exchanged for cash. Once a minor user’s credits are exhausted, the Gambling Website Defendants cash out their newly-acquired Robux and provide Roblox with its 30% transaction fee.”

Read More: Roblox Trying To Describe Adult Poop Is Very Funny

Roblox didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but told Bloomberg Law in a statement that, “These are third-party sites and have no legal affiliation to Roblox whatsoever. Bad actors make illegal use of Roblox’s intellectual property and branding to operate such sites in violation of our standards.” It added that it continues to be “vigilant” in going after companies that violate its policies or “endanger the safety” of its community.

Roblox has recently tried to leverage the success of its kid-centric platform by trying to appeal to more mature audiences with games rated for users 17 and older, and tools to do job interviews inside the platform. The ‘metaverse’ of our dreams is apparently just another awkward conversation where someone asks you where you see yourself in five years. Roblox has lost 40 percent of its market value since this time last year, despite continuing to attract new players.

       

Steam Hit Only Up! Pulled For Good So Dev Can Finding ‘Healing’

Only Up! Is a brutal janky platformer that blew up on Steam earlier this summer after becoming a hit with Twitch viewers. A number of controversies later, its creator has removed the game from Valve’s digital storefront seemingly forever, saying they made a lot of mistakes and need time to heal before making their next game.

“The game has kept me under a lot of stress all these months,” the game’s developer, Indiesolodev, wrote in what appears to be the final update for Only Up! (via PCGamesN). “Now I want to put the game behind me. And yes. the game won’t be available in the Steam store soon, that’s what I decided myself.” The game now shows as “not available” on its store page, though players who already purchased it still have access.

A parkour game about constantly ascending to new heights, Only Up! released back in May and rose to popularity in June with over 10,000 concurrent players and 90,000 viewers on Twitch. Reviews of the game’s actual quality were mixed, however, with some players praising the surreal and capricious 3D platforming while others critiqued its glitchy physics and hasty design full of what appeared to be cheap asset flips.

Signs show in-game prompts for Only Up!'s elevator.

Image: Indiesolodev

A hit among Twitch streamers who found viewers were attracted to it as a sort of voyeuristic failure porn, Only Up! was nevertheless briefly pulled from Steam for a day in July after it was accused of stealing another developer’s copyrighted 3D anime model. As PC Gamer pointed out at the time, the game also appeared to be loosely affiliated with NFTs, from images of Goblintown tokens appearing in levels to the title itself which is a common rallying cry among crypto scammers.

“What I need now is peace of mind and healing,” Indiesolodev wrote in today’s update. “I plan to take a pause, and continue my education in game design and further with new experience and knowledge to direct my energies to my next game.” They’re sophomore project is currently titled “Kith,” which means friends or acquaintances, though it’s also the name of a popular streetwear brand. Indiesolodev describes it as completely different from Only Up! with an emphasis on “cinematography.”

“This time I hope the project will be created by a small team,” they wrote. “This is a challenging project on which I want to significantly improve my skills in game design.”

Some players are already mourning Only Up!’s unexpected disappearance, asking why Indiesolodev didn’t just decide to give it away for free. But most of the comments on their update are just congratulating them for creating a viral game out of nowhere. “You did a fantastic job with this game and should be nothing but proud of yourself,” wrote the_drummernator. “I’ve had a great experience with it so far, and finally getting to the top after many setbacks was very fulfilling.”

          

Popular Battle Royale Fall Guys Hit By Epic Games Layoffs

Epic Games acquired Mediatonic in 2021 after its colorful battle royale, Fall Guys, became a multiplayer sensation early in the covid-19 pandemic. Now, it’s laying off tons of developers at the UK-based studio as part massive cost cutting at the Fortnite maker.

In Epic CEO Tim Sweeney’s email to staff today about the more than 800 layoffs, which was subsquently shared on the company’s website, he said the company would continue to invest in its games. “We aren’t cutting any core businesses, and are continuing to invest in games with Fortnite first-party development, the Fortnite creator ecosystem and economy, Rocket League and Fall Guys,” he wrote.

But some developers impacted by the decision immediately started sharing the news they had been cut from the studio on social media. Staff in the office even apparently took the letters normally used to display the company’s name and rearranged them to spell “Decimation.” The image was tweeted out by Ed Fear, designer and writer on Mediatonic’s 2020 Ace Attorney-style visual novel, Murder By Numbers.

“Unfortunately, I am one of the people affected by the layoffs today at Epic,” he wrote. “I’m absolutely devastated to leave behind so many amazing Mediatonic colleagues who I loved.” Others impacted include game designers, level designers, and artists. It’s not clear how many people in total were laid off from Mediatonic, or how many developers are still working on Fall Guys. A spokesperson for Epic Games declined to share specifics, but called reports that the entire team had been let go “false.”

Mediatonic was cofounded in 2005 in Uxbridge, England by Dave Bailey and Paul Croft. The small indie startup was widely known for making flash games until it released the shooter Who’s That Flying?! for the PlayStation Portable in 2010. It then made a remake of the cult-hit Hatoful Boyfriend and worked on various mobile releases including Gear Pop! and Fable Fortunate. But it wasn’t until Fall Guys became a break-away hit in 2020 that Mediatonic’s profile blew up and it was subsequently bought by Epic.

The parent company transitioned the online multiplayer platformer where players maneuver clumsy beans through surreal obstacle courses from a paid model to a free-to-play one more in-line with Fortnite. This came with season passes and the expectations of constant updates and new costumes for fans to be able to purchase. Epic also pulled the game from Steam. Amid fears it’s been stagnating, some of the game’s hardcore fans routinely pine for a major overhaul and revival.

“Very hardworking, super-talented and genuinely nice colleagues got laid off at Epic/Mediatonic today,” tweeted Fall Guys game designer Beatriz Díaz Martín. “Many of them friends I have worked with for years.”

When big tech comapanies announced mass layoffs earlier this year, Sweeney responded with a meme about how Epic Games banded together when things got tough unlike Google, Meta, and other Sillicon Valley giants. It’s not clear yet whether Sweeney is taking any pay cuts as part of the latest cost-saving measures.