If you've played Sonic the Hedgehog on your phone, Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 in the last half-dozen years, you have Christian Whitehead to thank. In 2009, he created an unofficial proof of concept iPhone port of Sonic CD using a custom-built game engine -- a project that eventually led to Sega hiring him to officially port Sonic CD, Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to modern platforms. This week, the fruits of that partnership reached a new high point in Sonic Mania, an all-new 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog platformer that sees the mascot return to his glory days.
Artificial intelligence isn't just good at playing Go -- it can also emerge victorious in the eSports arena. The Elon Musk-backed OpenAI team has developed a machine learning system that has beaten "many" of the best pro Dota 2 players in one-on-one matches, including star player Dendi during a live demonstration at The International. The trick wasn't to teach the AI how to play the game -- instead, it was to have the bot play many games against itself, and encourage ideal behavior as it learned the ropes over time.
The Mortal Kombat franchise was riding high... and then 1997 rolled around. AV Club takes a look at the hot streak before the release of two games and a movie in the fall of that year. All three fell flat. That trio of shortcomings didn't kill the franchise completely, but it did enough damage to end Mortal Kombat's reign atop the video game world.
Some of the world's best Dota 2 players are doing battle at Valve's The International esports tournament, but they may need some more practice when they get home. That's because the company just announced it will add two more characters soon in its "The Dueling Fates" update. Neither hero has a name yet, but in the preview trailer the first attacked enemies both by rolling over them Sonic the Hedgehog-style and with a sword, while the other one flew in on fairy wings before releasing a minion to attack.
As the fall sports seasons draw closer, we're also getting more information about the fall sports games. NBA 2K18 has highlighted its position as the dominant hoops game -- and squelched the release of NBA Live 18's demo -- by drip feeding tidbits like player ratings and screenshots. This means that not only are players excitedly tweeting out their ratings to start this year's game, but we're also getting a look at what they'll wear on their feet.
Until two years ago, there was no way to play with female characters in FIFA, the world's most popular gaming franchise. But EA Sports changed that with the introduction of FIFA 16. That's because, for the first time ever, the studio revealed that its flagship game would feature women soccer players. It was a great move toward diversifying the game's plot, albeit a risky one considering its core demographic: young men. That doesn't mean FIFA players aren't open-minded. But in an industry with a reputation for being misogynistic, EA Sports made itself vulnerable to potential backlash. As it turns out, the company needn't have worried: FIFA 16 quickly became one of the best-selling titles of the year.