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By Namerah S
Hitman 3 headed to Nintendo Switch on January 20
by Namerah Saud Fatmi
IO Interactive announced Hitman 3, the third and final installment in the World of Assassination series, at the PS5 event back in June 2020. At the time, the stealth shooter was set to land on the PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and PC in January 2021. A few months later in October, a Nintendo Switch announcement followed suit.
So far, the Danish video game developer had only confirmed the exact release date for the Sony and Microsoft consoles and PC. Today IO announced the specific launch date for the Nintendo Switch as well.
Hitman 3 is scheduled to launch on the exact same date, January 20, 2021, across all the aforementioned gaming platforms. The NS release is going to happen through the cloud.
A lot of details about the upcoming Hitman 3 release have been announced so far. In August it was revealed that the game will be an Epic Games Store exclusive and that owners of the title will be able to import their old data and game locations from Steam. In the same month, IO also detailed the game modes for the January 2021 release.
New Pokémon Snap gets a release date of April 30 along with a new trailer
by João Carrasqueira
It's been over 20 years since Pokémon Snap released on the Nintendo 64, and while fans have had a lot to wait for another take on the franchise, the wait is almost over. The Pokémon Company has announced on its Twitter page that New Pokémon Snap is set to launch on April 30 on the Nintendo Switch.
The new title was initially revealed during a Pokémon Presents video last summer, but a release date wasn't given at the time. The title is in development at Bandai Namco, and as you'd expect, it comes with a pretty major graphical leap over its predecessor. The company shared a new trailer along with the announcement.
In New Pokémon Snap, players will explore the Lental region with the goal of seeing and taking pictures of as many Pokémon as possible, in the best possible conditions. Players also have to investigate something called the Illumina phenomenon, where vegetation in the region starts glowing, seemingly leading to super-sized versions of Pokémon appearing.
While the first entry was released when only the first generation of Pokémon games had been released, we're now eight generations in, and the game appears to feature creatures from all of them. However, not every Pokémon is included, as the game's website denotes that you can photograph "over 200" of them. In terms of visuals, the game is also a major departure from the style adopted in the latest mainline series games, Pokémon Sword and Shield, with arguably better-looking models and scenarios.
As mentioned above, the game will release exclusively on the Nintendo Switch on April 30, and pre-orders are available today at retailers such as Amazon.
As an Amazon Associate, Neowin may earn commission from qualifying purchases.
Super Nintendo World grand opening faces delays due to local state of emergency
by Boyd Chan
Super Nintendo World has been years in the making with an initial announcement of the theme park made towards the end of 2016. While the world caught a glimpse of what to expect inside the park thanks to a guided tour with Shigeru Miyamoto in a recent Super Nintendo World Direct video, people have had to sit tight until the grand opening date on February 4th.
Unfortunately, those looking to experience Super Nintendo World for themselves will have to hang on a bit longer. In an announcement from Universal Studios Japan (Japanese), the opening of Super Nintendo World will be postponed until the current state of emergency declared for Osaka prefecture has been lifted.
At this stage, an indicative opening date has not been provided by Universal Studios Japan, however, Osaka prefecture's declaration of emergency is currently in place until February 7th to combat the spread of COVID-19. Of course, this could change in the coming weeks.
Although this may scupper plans for those who were planning and able to travel to Japan to get their Super Nintendo fix in the flesh, you can try tiding yourself over with a virtual tour of the theme park here where you can find out more about some of the rides and attractions.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury trailer shows off gigantic Bowser and new worlds
by João Carrasqueira
Nintendo first revealed Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury in a Nintendo Direct celebrating the 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. last September. This will be an expanded version of Super Mario 3D World - first released on the Wii U - but Nintendo didn't show off any of the new content in the expansion at the time.
With one month left before the official release, the company decided to take the wraps off of Bowser's Fury, the new mode in the game in a pre-announced 2-minute trailer posted today. While seemingly short, the trailer shows off quite a bit of interesting stuff, including a number of levels that appear to be much larger than the main Super Mario 3D World levels. In this new adventure, Mario will seek to fight off a gigantic version of Bowser, seemingly covered in some kind of dark liquid.
One of the more interesting features showcased is that Bowser Jr., usually an enemy in the Mario franchise, is Mario's partner in this mode. We get to see Bowser Jr. flying around in his clown car and carrying a paintbrush akin to the one seen in Super Mario Sunshine, a GameCube title where Bowser Jr. was an enemy. Here, it looks like the paintbrush can be used to reveal certain secrets in levels, and Bowser Jr. himself can help defeat certain enemies. In addition to that, we see some new collectibles spread throughout the levels, as well as a new giant bell power-up that will seemingly transform Mario into a super-sized Cat Mario.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury is set to release on February 12, being the first major Nintendo title of the year. To go along with it, Nintendo has also announced a new special edition of the Nintendo Switch, with colors inspired by Mario himself. This is one of the most custom Switch bundles yet, with a red dock, main Switch unit - which has a color other than black for the first time ever - and Joy-Con, paired with a blue Joy-Con grip and blue Joy-Con strap attachments. The straps themselves are striped in white and red, which we've also never seen before.
Additionally, the Mario Red and Blue Edition, as it's called, of the Nintendo Switch, also includes a carrying case and screen protector. The whole package will retain its $299.99 price, the same as a regular Switch, and it will be available on the same day as the game.
Microsoft Weekly: Windows builds, built-in apps, and no more Minecraft Earth
by Florin Bodnarescu
Returning for the year’s first Microsoft Weekly column, we take a look at the latest Windows 10 preview builds, some changes Microsoft is planning for built-in Windows apps, and the end of Minecraft Earth. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of January 3 – 9, 2021.
You may remember than Microsoft put a hold on the release of preview builds to the public in December, but said release stoppage has now been lifted. As such, build 21286 made its way to testers in the Dev channel, and switched everybody back to the rs_prerelease branch. It has a number of features, from UI changes to Storage Spaces in the Settings app, to the ability to run commands on startup in the WSL, and even enhancements to time zone transitioning. There’s also a new taskbar toolbar, but we’ll discuss that in the ‘Logging off’ portion of this column.
As you’d expect, the build also comes with a set of fixes, including the option to disable automatic controller-to-virtual-key mapping for UWP apps, as well as fixes for sign-in issues, UWP app behavior, Narrator problems, and high contrast bugs.
If you want to install this build from scratch, ISO images are available.
Finally, to wrap up this section, cast your mind back to 2018. Back then, Microsoft was rumored to be building a sleek version of Windows 10 codenamed Polaris, which would - under the Windows Core OS umbrella - deliver a modular experience for users. This would also include the experience on mobile devices like the subsequently canceled one codenamed Andromeda.
Both the device and the OS were canceled in the aforementioned year, but an RTM build from the RS3 release has now leaked online. It unfortunately has no GUI, so there’s not much to see, but it is compatible with the ARM32 architecture, meaning you can run it on the now rare Surface RT.
This Windows Core OS effort was subsequently supplanted by Windows 10X, which Microsoft plans to deliver in the spring.
And since we’re on the subject of future things, the Redmond giant is preparing to replace both the Mail and Calendar apps in Windows 10 with something a little more sensible. Codenamed Project Monarch, it’ll have a significantly smaller footprint than the existing apps, and previews will begin showing up this year. General availability is targeted for 2022.
On a slightly related note, in the area of managing B2B (business-to-business) identities, Microsoft has now announced the GA of email OTP for business clients. This is what the company refers to as BYOI, or Bring Your Own Identity.
Switching over to another set of things meant to improve the overall UX, Edge now supports the Apple M1 chips, and as a result can run on ARM-based MacBooks. This is true as of Dev version 89.0.752.1, which finishes the rollout of the Sleeping Tabs feature, as well as adding a number of fixes and small UI improvements.
A feature that has been missing from the browser itself for a while, but which is making its way now to the stable channel is history and tab sync. Again, this is just the beginning of the rollout, so it’s possible you may not see the feature just yet on your end.
As a result of this, folks have started recommending switching to other apps, and of course, Microsoft was quick to point out that Skype is also an option. Whether people will actually switch to Skype, despite having the option, is an entirely different matter.
No more Minecraft Earth
In case the name of the game doesn’t really ring any bells, this was the AR (or as Microsoft likes to call it, Mixed Reality) effort from Mojang that aimed to transform Minecraft into a bit of a Pokemon GO experience.
Having been announced in May of 2019 and subsequently released in October of that same year – even being demoed on stage at WWDC -, the game seems to have had a sharp decline in interest from players. As such, all real-money transaction abilities have been removed, folks that have spent money on the game are to be provided with a copy of the main game itself, and the servers will be online until April 26. Minecraft Earth however is set to properly shut down on June 30.
In better news for folks who enjoy gaming, Injustice 2 and eFootball PES 2021 Season Update are already playable on Xbox Game Pass, with titles like Torchlight III and What Remains of Edith Finch set to arrive on January 14. There’s also a list of titles leaving the subscription, as of January 15, so be sure to check those at this link, if you’re interested.
Moving on to console-specific news, Microsoft has promised that the Series X controller disconnect issue will be fixed in a future update. This is the bug whereby the controller disconnects and reconnects while playing a game.
And since we’ve touched on controllers, the company has made it clear that no, there isn’t some kind of master plan that forces you to use Duracell batteries with Xbox controllers. The more likely reason for bundling that particular brand is that Microsoft has a partnership in place. Using Sony batteries will not magically set the controller on fire.
Ending things with another rather amusing tidbit, Microsoft actually tried to outright buy Nintendo about 21 years ago. The Japanese console maker reportedly laughed in the face of such an absurd proposal, even declining a joint partnership offer. Then Microsoft went on to release the original Xbox with Halo, and Nintendo released the GameCube, complete with a handle which made it easier to carry around.
Microsoft has highlighted the December updates to Teams. The company has also shined a spotlight on the features added to OneDrive in the last month of 2020. The Redmond giant has revealed details about requests filed by the U.S. Government to access customer data. Microsoft Launcher version 6.2.201202.9334 has brought in improvements to profile setup, app padding, and more. Microsoft’s AI model has outperformed humans in natural language understanding. The Surface Studio has received a firmware update to improve stability. Teams recordings will be stored on OneDrive for Business and SharePoint after March 1. Logging off
We end the week, and indeed the column, with a bit of news concerning a UI overhaul for Windows 10. Yes, another one.
Job listings have showed up for something called a Sun Valley UI overhaul of Microsoft’s main OS. Said to arrive with the 21H2 update from the second half of 2021, this will be a “sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows”.
Folks would understandably not be too impressed with this statement. After all, this is the same thing that happened with Vista, and Windows 8 to a greater or lesser extent. Even so, Windows 9x-era dialog boxes and icons will still remain, as will hints of Aero and Metro, Microsoft Design Language, Modern, or however else to company ended up naming its previous design initiative. In the end, due in no small part to its backwards compatibility, Windows is mostly likely still going to remain a mishmash of old and new.
Whether this is one of the waves of the larger Fluent Design System is frankly unknown at this point.
However, if you’re eager to see what exactly this Sun Valley experiment is set to bring, you may want to use the ‘news and interests’ feature that’s available in the taskbar as part of the just-released Insider build we discussed in the first section of this column. As the name implies, it allows you to browse news and topics of interest directly from the taskbar.
Thankfully, it can be turned off.
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.