VR turned me into a movie character -- a tiny, bright yellow firefly. But here's the best part: I got to experience it with someone next to me, both literally and virtually, in a dark room with headsets strapped to our heads. For Oculus Story Studio, arguably the Pixar of virtual reality, this is the first step in making the medium more social. And it's using its short film Lost, introduced earlier this year at Sundance, as a test bed. Still, whether we're talking about a cute movie or a fun game, most VR activities so far have one thing in common: They're solitary experiences. Oculus wants to change that.

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BOXBOY! did not hit the 3DS with the fanfare it deserved this spring. It's a brand-new game, with brand-new characters and it's published by Nintendo. Which is precisely the sort of thing the company's greatest detractors claim it's missing. Then again, even though the funny, little puzzle game is ingenious and addictive, it's also as quiet and unassuming as the studio that made it: HAL Laboratory.

Much like BOXBOY!, HAL does not have the reputation it should. For 35 years, the first-party Nintendo studio's pumped out games that are deeply traditional while remaining deeply experimental. The Kirby franchise, HAL's signature work, has been both a major sales success with more than 30 million games sold and a hotbed for creativity (as in Kirby and the Rainbow Curse) and old-school style (a la Kirby: Triple Deluxe.) That little pink puff Kirby tends to dominate HAL's output, which is what makes an original like BOXBOY! so exciting. So to get some deeper insight into the creation of this new Nintendo IP, I interviewed Yasuhiro Mukae, the director of HAL's first original in five years, via a translator through email. We discussed HAL's creative process, the secret to making expressive characters and what it's like making games at one of gaming's most consistent, if underappreciated, studios.

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My Nintendo 64 memories have nothing to do with GoldenEye 007, the famed first-person James Bond shooter that helped define the genre. Unlike seemingly every other N64 owner, I never played that game because, quite frankly, shooters aren't my thing. With Splatoon, Nintendo's quirky, new third-person action shooter for the Wii U, ready for release on May 29th, however, it may be time I change my tune.

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Storyscapes Press Preview - 2015 Tribeca Film Festival

Storytellers are finding new mediums, like mobile apps, virtual reality headsets and web-based products, to convey their narratives. Of course, events like Sundance and Tribeca Film Festival are the perfect place to exhibit any fresh or interesting project, where people can actually experience them firsthand. And they all have one thing in common: The key is to make you part of the story. At Storyscapes, an exhibit at the Tribeca Film Festival that showcases immersive creations, we came across some that caught our eye. For example, a couple use VR to express the director's message, another an app and, in the case of Door Into the Dark, a 6,000-square-foot labyrinth that relies on audio to guide those who try it. Sounds like fun, right? Don't worry: You, too, can check these out if you happen to be in New York City from today, April 16th, through April 19th.

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It could've been the latent heatstroke setting in from the three days I spent tut-tutting millennials under my breath at Coachella, or the five coffees I'd drunk to sustain some form of consciousness. But when I finished playing a demo of the new 200cc level in Mario Kart 8 with some folks from Nintendo on Monday, my eyes felt looser in their sockets and a barely containable feeling of nausea lingered in my gut for about an hour. It was as if I'd come off a roller coaster -- like one of those daring, metallic serpents from Six Flags or Busch Gardens in the '80s that jolted you just a bit too much and gave the impression you'd nearly avoided whiplash.

All of which is to say, 200cc is not for the weak. It is stupid fast and stupid good.

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Guitar Hero has no business being relevant in 2015. Ten years is an eternity for video games, especially so for games tied so closely to specific technology like Harmonix's revolutionary PlayStation 2 game was to its inner-rock-star-summoning controller when it came out. A decade on from that original, and five years on from the last release in the series, Guitar Hero is an icon, but it also feels like a relic, a work hopelessly locked in its era. A 10-year anniversary reissue, maybe with some bonus tracks thrown in, seems like the best-case scenario for Guitar Hero coming back to life in 2015, a dignified archive for the nostalgic. FreeStyleGames has done so much more with its new game Guitar Hero Live. The studio has made a game that feels deeply modern, relevant, wholly distinct from Rock Band and somehow still rooted in tradition. It's all thanks to a new controller and a wildly different look for the series' debut on PS4, Xbox One and Wii U.

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Earlier today, Vizio introduced its latest 4K TVs, the M-Series. In similar fashion to the P-Series from last year, which started at $1,000, this year's models also come with an affordable price tag. But the M-Series ranges from $600 for a 43-inch model to $4,000 for the largest of the bunch, an 80-incher. Vizio says that with the M-Series, it was all about making refinements and not compromising in order to bring the price down even further. As such, most of the tech found on the P-Series has made its way into the new M-Series, like the LED panel and low-latency HDMI port (a feature loved by gamers, according to the company), among other things. Better yet, these UHD TV sets look great in person; they're relatively thin, sport a solid industrial design and, most importantly, have a picture quality that's not far behind its more expensive competitors. If you like what you see, some online retailers in the US are selling them as we speak.

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Google has unveiled a whole new type of Chrome device, and it's one that can fit in your pocket. It's called the Chromebit, and it's essentially a Chromebook crammed in a dongle. This tiny little package contains a Rockchip 3288 SoC, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of eMMC memory, a USB 2.0 port, WiFi 802.11 ac support, Bluetooth 4.0, a Smart Ready controller and an ARM Mali 760 quad-core GPU. Just like Intel's Compute Stick, all you have to do to get the Chromebit working is to attach it to any display with a HDMI port, and voila, you've turned it into a computer. Unlike the Intel stick though, the Chromebit's HDMI end actually swivels around so that the dongle doesn't stick out in an unsightly way behind a monitor or TV. As for battery life, well, Google says it doesn't really know that just yet as the product is still in testing. Google promises that the Chromebit -- the first is made by ASUS -- will retail for less than $100. It'll be available in either silver, blue or orange and will be out later this summer.

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With 20 million-plus PlayStation 4 consoles sold to date and over 80 million PlayStation 3s in homes worldwide, Sony has plenty of reason to make Vue, its TV-streaming service, a cornerstone of the platform. The subscription-based service, which officially launches today in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, is more than just a Sling TV clone, too. Vue offers not only a mixture of live and on-demand content from cable networks like Discovery Communications (e.g., TLC, OWN, Animal Planet) and NBCUniversal (e.g., Bravo, CNBC and E!), but also broadcast TV from NBC, CBS and FOX. And thanks to cloud storage, PS Vue also features what Sony's calling a "virtually unlimited" DVR. It's the company's take on a streaming experience that "redefines television."

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It's been a long road from where Valve started with VR. It was only a few shorts years ago that the company was letting select industry folk demo prototype VR hardware in its QR code-laden "Room." And now, Valve has its own consumer-facing VR headset, the HTC Vive; its own controller that looks like the space opera version of Sony's Move wand; and a positional-based tracking solution in Lighthouse VR. None of this has exactly caught us off guard -- Valve was always cagey when it came to questions of commercial hardware. But we weren't prepared for just how impressive the combination of all the VR tech truly is. In fact, our own Ben Gilbert called it the "best VR" he's experienced to date.

It's only fair, then, that Valve would want to look back on its own journey pioneering VR. And look back it did with a timeline of prototypes and R&D breakthroughs it had on display here at GDC. Care to take that walk down Valve's memory lane? Then treat yourself to the gallery below and be sure to head past the break for a video tour.

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I spent roughly 10 minutes with the final Steam Controller at GDC 2015, playing snippets of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, The Talos Principle and Unreal Tournament on various Steam Machines. The body of the controller is wonderful to hold. Two long, clickable pads running along the backside of the handles, right where a player's middle and ring fingers lie, would be a welcome addition to any existing gamepad. Plus, the final controller adds a single analog stick on the left side. This makes the design more familiar overall, but with a trackpad replacing a second analog stick, the final Steam Controller remains what it always has been: awkward.

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Steam Machines. Maybe you've heard of them. They're Valve's oft-talked about, rarely seen in the wild solution for streaming PC games to the fancy HDTV in your living room. And at GDC this week, the company brought us closer to the promise of that commercial reality with a display of all the various units you're likely to see hit retail by November of this year. As Gabe Newell told us, the variety of Steam Machines on offer, from the low-end $50 Link to the premium $5,000 Falcon NW Tiki, present a "good, better, best choice for consumers." But enough talk -- I know you just want to see the goods. So check out the gallery below for a trio of the Steam Machines Mr. Newell demoed for us, as well as a video just after the break showcasing an expanded selection coming later this year.

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You already know what NVIDIA's latest Shield hardware is: an Android TV-powered set-top box that uses the latest chip from NVIDIA. It streams games over the company's "Netflix for gaming" platform known as GRID; it streams games from your local PC; it powers Twitch streaming at the same time of said streamed content; heck, it powers games like Crysis 3 locally, running on Android.

But is it any good? The only answer I've got is maybe.

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The new Project Morpheus at GDC 2015

I just used Sony's newest version of the PlayStation 4 virtual reality headset, Project Morpheus. Rather, I should say that I just faced down a burly, British would-be-torturer before being whisked away to a first-person gunfight in a well-appointed London manor. That's "The London Heist," one of the new demos from Sony's London Studio being shown off this week at GDC 2015. It's intense, and demonstrative of the new prototype's upped specs.

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Up until now, ESPN has had two separate apps on iOS for news and scores, one designed for iPhone (SportsCenter) and another for iPad (ScoreCenter). Well, starting today, that's about to change. The Worldwide Leader in Sports announced that it is, finally, unifying its apps on Apple's platform, mashing them into a single application that'll be known simply as "ESPN." The newly consolidated app doesn't just bring a rebranding, however -- it's also completely redesigned and developed to take advantage of iOS 8, which you'll need to have on your device in order to download it. As such, you can expect the ESPN app to support the bigger, higher-res screens of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, a feature that's been long overdue.

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