Back in 2003, a game called Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy was released on the GameCube. An adventure title starring a boy called Sphinx and his friend the Mummy, it had them fighting through an ancient Egypt inspired world to stop the plans of the evil Set, complete with two different gameplay styles the player had to switch between.
For Sphinx, that was a traditional adventure/platformer set up similar to the Zelda games of the time, and for the Mummy, it was a puzzle/stealth hybrid where you had to use his abilities (and reactions to the environment) to solve puzzles and find your way out of maze like dungeons.
It was an interesting combination really, a neat hybrid of puzzle and platformer that reminded many of the Wario Land series. Or perhaps its own GameCube instalment, Wario World.
And like many other games with interesting gameplay styles, it quickly became a cult classic. Hence why years later, THQ Nordic bought the rights and released it on Steam. Complete with improved tech, new achievements and more besides, the game found a new audience on the platformer.
But now it’s become even better still! Why? Because as of today, the folks at THQ Nordic have released modding tools for the game.
But they’re not just any modding tools.
Nope, they’re the original game’s development tools! Yep, if you liked the original title, you’re now able to download the exact same kit the original programmers and artists used to work on the title when it was in production for the GameCube, complete with the ability to edit anything you like in the game. It’s a really great deal all round, and shows a level of respect for modders that few companies will ever match.
Hence go and check it out. You can find the authoring tools for the game over on Steam here:
Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy Authoring Tools Page
As well as every resource used to generate the levels and characters too. They even kept in various beta elements and resources too, like early designs for levels and character models not found in the normal game. Talk about an impressive dedication to the modding scene!
So, thanks THQ, thanks for going above and beyond with these development tools.
Let’s hope a few other game developers follow your lead in future!
Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy Authoring Tools (Steam)
Over the years, we’ve seen some pretty damn terrible DRM in video games. We’ve seen stuff that could accidentally wipe out or cause security holes in someone’s computer due to its creator’s sheer incompetence. We’ve seen rip-off schemes where even playing a single player title requires internet access at all times.
And well, with a certain recent Sonic fan game… we’ve even stuff straight out of a bad creepypasta. As in, something that literally closed your web browser when it detecting you were looking for cheats, right before corrupting the game itself and turning it into some kind of hellish troll game.
But now we may have come across something even worse. Something may actually take its games creators from the realm of incompetent and dangerous to downright evil.
Yes, one game (or more precisely, content pack) actually has malware in its installer. Named the FSLabs A320, this pack of digital aircraft for flight simulators has a file called ‘test.exe’ in its install files. At first glance, this sounds harmless.
However, it’s actually far from it. You see, test.exe isn’t a typical test program. It’s not something you’d just randomly include in an installer.
It’s actually a Chrome password dumping tool. As in, a way for hackers to steal passwords from your browser’s password manager and mail them the details over the internet. Like a fancy keylogger or what not.
And as you can imagine, that’s not something you ever want to see in a video game. Heck, that’s not something you’d ever want on your computer period. It’s a huge security risk even having the thing included in the files.
Oh, and there’s more here too. You see, you may think this file would merely be a mistake by the developer. After all, everyone gets viruses at some point. So it seems all too possible than a random dev may have gotten their computer infected and accidentally included such a program in their work by mistake.
However, that’s not the case. Nope, the people at Flight Sim Labs deliberately included this file to ‘hunt down people who pirated their work’. Their plan was to actually steal people’s login information, then use it to hunt them down and send their details to law enforcement.
Here’s the comment on their forums confirming it:
If such a specific serial number is used by a pirate (a person who has illegally obtained our software) and the installer verifies this against the pirate serial numbers stored in our server database, it takes specific measures to alert us. “Test.exe” is part of the DRM and is only targeted against specific pirate copies of copyrighted software obtained illegally. That program is only extracted temporarily and is never under any circumstances used in legitimate copies of the product. The only reason why this file would be detected after the installation completes is only if it was used with a pirate serial number (not blacklisted numbers).
This method has already successfully provided information that we’re going to use in our ongoing legal battles against such criminals.
Yeah, that’s a pretty bad way of doing things isn’t it? Not only do you to put legitimate customers at risk, you outright break the law to go after pirates too. Remember, it’s illegal to do this stuff. Doesn’t matter if you’re doing it for the ‘right reasons’, there’s no legal basis for hacking someone’s machine at all.
That’s clearly stated in country laws on the subject around the world. Like the UK’s Computer Misuse Act.
So, for anyone who’s used this software, remove it from your computer right now. You do not want to support a company like this, especially now they’ve opened up your machine to hackers and proven they have zero respect for anyone else’s security. They don’t deserve your respect for this, and they should have lost your support forever as a result.
And as for Flight Sim Labs? Well you’re just kind of screwed at this point. You’ve made a terrible decision, it’s probably killed your business and (based on what people have said online and previous legal precedents), likely opened you up to various lawsuits and charges for computer misuse related crimes.
Congratulations on committing business suicide!
But what do you think about the whole ordeal? Are you shocked that anyone would consider using malware to steal personal information a legitimate form of DRM for a game or game related product?
Post your thoughts on this here in the comments or on the Gaming Latest forums today!
Flight Sim Group Put Malware in a Jet and Called it DRM (Rock Paper Shotgun)
Last year, we saw Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy released for the PlayStation 4. A compilation of the first three Crash games with updated visuals and tweaked gameplay elements, the title got great reviews all round and ended up being one of the surprise hits of the year, with many considering it proof that Crash really had returned to form all over again.
Unfortunately for Nintendo fans, Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy was a PS4 exclusive. That makes sense given Crash’s origins as Sony’s unofficial mascot, but is disappointing for fans of other consoles none the less.
But it seems things may be changing soon. Why? Because according to the Licensing Source Book for Spring 2018, Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy will be heading to other systems this year, with the Switch and PC being among them.
And it doesn’t end there either. Oh no, it seems a new Crash Bandicoot may be on the way too! Yep, as also mentioned in the book, Activision has plans for another Crash game that’ll be released in 2019, with merchandise for the series seemingly being in the works as well. It’s a full-on franchise revival of the highest order.
But hey, don’t take my word for it. Take the word of the magazine’s writers, who state that:
Looking ahead to 2018, Max picks out Crash Bandicoot as one to watch. “The new game was a success at retail with no marketing spend. Next year it will be going broader (Switch and PC) and there will be another game in 2019. Activision have a five-year plan for this, and GB eye is delighted to be fully on board for all products.
Or read the quote for yourself in this image:
As you can see, it’s pretty clear about what it’s saying. There’s no marketing fluff or vagueness, just a direct confirmation that Crash is getting a new game and that his last one is seeing a release on non-Sony related systems.
So, go and have a look at the book if you don’t believe us (the comment in question is on the top right of page 97), and tell us what you think about Activision’s plans for the series. Are you excited to play N Sane Trilogy on Switch? Feel like a brand-new Crash Bandicoot adventure could be amazing to see after all these years?
Let us know what you think here in the comments below or on social media today!
Licensing Source Book Europe – Spring 2018 (page 97)
As you may have noticed, updates have been pretty slow here on Gaming Reinvented.
But don’t panic, there is a reason for this.
Namely, I’m redesigning the entire website. Why? Well to be honest, there are two reasons.
Firstly, the existing site doesn’t really work for its purpose at the moment. It’s meant to be a service, yet currently feels more like a traditional blog. And that’s fine if you’re running a blog.
But I’m not running one. I’m running a service where people are meant to post their own content. It’s basically a social media type site for writers, in the guise of a news site.
And the current design means people don’t understand this. They don’t realise they can post their own articles or content, they keep asking me to post them as if guest blogs were still relevant and gaming sites require professional staff.
So that’s one reason I’m redesigning the site. To encourage people to use it in the way it’s meant to be used, not as yet another blog they have to send messages to about guest posts and staff writer positions.
Reason number 2 on the other hand… well that’s a bit philosophical. Basically, as I realised a few months or so ago, traditional content sites don’t really work anymore. Why is this? Because society has moved on. Instead of using traditional desktop computers, people use smartphones to access the internet through most of their day.
However, most existing sites don’t get this, and as a result, they’re stuck in the desktop era.
And that’s a huge issue. Put simply, the workflow required for old school news sites and platforms doesn’t work in this new world.
Think about it. How convenient is it to post an article on mobile?
On like, any CMS you can think of?
Not very. This means sites like Medium (and traditional CMS systems like WordPress and Drupal) lose out whenever audiences on their phones.
Yet it’s not just limited to them either. No, the same goes for news reporting too. Want to cover a Nintendo Direct? Yeah, good luck doing that on an iPad, since taking and uploading screenshots is hell and videos are even worse. Add glacial upload speeds, fiddly buttons in website interfaces and awkward plugins telling you how hard to read your work is, and things just become a complete nightmare.
But we want to fix this. We want a world where reporting the news is super simple, lightning fast and convenient for everyone. One where authors can write a beautiful story on the bus back from work without worrying that their 3G connection will fail while they’re doing so. Where users can read articles even while offline. Where modern, futuristic looking articles can be written and posted without the backing of a high-tech development team and thousands of dollars in media production skills.
Hence that’s why we’re redesigning Gaming Reinvented right now. Because in today’s smartphone era, the competition just isn’t good enough.
When you think about it, 2017 has been quite the year for retro revivals. We’ve seen Crash, Mega Man and Sonic come back from years of poor games and neglect. We’ve seen attempts to carry on older gameplay styles in general, like A Hat in Time and the 3D platformer or Cuphead and the Contra type run and gun platformer.
And well, with even the likes of Nintendo attempting to capture the olden days with Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey, it’s clear everyone wants to bring back their childhood favourites from the 80s and 90s. Heck, even Bubsy made a return this time around!
Unfortunately, not every beloved franchise has been so lucky, with one classic series chance at a comeback being recently shot down in flames. That franchise?
Jet Set Radio.
Yep, the classic Sega franchise actually had a development pitch put forward for a revival this year, with Dino Game Dev being in the driving seat. What’s more, it’s not just any old pitch either. It’s one that looks utterly fantastic and captures the feel of the original games perfectly. Here it is if you haven’t seen it already:
As you can tell, it looks pretty damn good all round. Indeed, if this had been officially taken on and actually announced by Sega, I’m sure millions of people online would have been hyped as hell for the whole deal. Like say, good old Daniel Ibbertson of Slopes Game Room. Or those other folks in the Sega retro gaming scene.
But alas, it wasn’t to be. Sega turned it down, and now the pitch is just that; a look at what could have been in some other alternate universe. It’s a shame, but it’s expected none the less. Every company gets hundreds of pitches for interesting new games and products that never get made. It’s just a sad truth about the world as a whole.
So, what do you think about it? Are you disappointed we never got a Jet Set Radio revival in this style? Do you secretly hope Sega changes their mind about the whole affair?
Or do you feel another company could have done better with the series?
Post your feelings on this (and more) in the comments below today!