These days it's rare to see a game praised for graphics alone - with incredibly powerful hardware available on consoles, PCs, and yes, mobile hardware, it's more about what you can do with what you have. A prime example is Contrast, a combination platformer and puzzle game that first debuted on PC and console download services just under two years ago. It's a perfect intersection of unique art design and compelling game mechanics. Today it's available on Android for $14.99, but only if you have NVIDIA's SHIELD Android TV box.
Contrast takes place in a sort of steampunk-burlesque universe, following a very personal story about a mother and daughter.
Lately it seems that "retro" games have become synonymous with faux NES-era pixelated graphics. And while some pixel art is impressive, it's often just a means of seeming somewhat trendy without having to put in the extra effort and expense of making high-resolution 2D graphics work well. Not so with the latest SHIELD exclusive: Pix the Cat manages to blend truly nostalgic gameplay with absolutely gorgeous 2D visuals for an altogether unique experience. Unfortunately you'll need either a SHIELD Android TV or SHIELD Tablet (and a hefty $10) to play it.
The gameplay of Pix is somewhere between Snake and Pac-Man.
Yesterday, NVIDIA announced GeForce Now, the company's new game streaming service. Today, that service is available on all SHIELD Android TV devices as part of a massive new OTA that's chock-full of stuff.
The star of the show is undoubtedly GeForce Now, which brings over 50 streaming PC games to SHIELD. The service is free for the first three months to all SHIELD owners, and after that it'll run $7.99 a month, which is an extremely reasonable price for all-you-can-eat gaming (at least in my opinion). Aside from Now, however, Update 2.0 also brings support for native Android games in 4K; here's a list of what will run in Ultra HD right out of the gate:
Beach Buggy Racing
Hardwood Solitaire IV
Riptide GP 2
Video Poker Duel
Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders
That's a relatively short list for now, but more developers should be adding 4K to their titles moving forward.
If you have a Chromecast or Android TV, you've probably noticed the one big glaring hole in content on those devices: Amazon Instant Video. Now, it seems more unlikely than ever that these devices will be getting AIV support, because Amazon is apparently preventing sellers on the US site from listing them altogether, and will remove all existing listings for the devices on October 29th.
NVIDIA finally announced launch details for GeForce NOW (formerly GRID) earlier today, but the company has still more news to share. It's expanding availability for the SHIELD hardware and adding new features to its already impressive repertoire. It's all kicking off tomorrow.
It's no secret that NVIDIA has been working on a game streaming service for quite a while — it's called GRID, and anyone with a SHIELD device has been able to test it out for the past several months. Today, the company is announcing the result of all that testing: GeForce Now.
GeForce Now is, at its core, a gaming service. It lets subscribers stream over 50 high-end PC games (at launch), as well as buy and play others instantly. That's pretty huge in itself — without the need to wait for hours for downloads, it removes a lot of the hassle of picking up something new to play.
NVIDIA must be paying its developer partners really well. That's the only reason I can think of that so many developers of 2D games, which could be played well on just about any modern Android device, keep creating SHIELD-exclusive games. Heck, half of Devolver Digital's current games could run on a bargain bin tablet ripped from a Wallgreens shelf. So I invite you to wonder just how many potential sales Frima Studio (developer of previous wide releases like Nun Attack) is giving up by making Chariot exclusive to the SHIELD TV... and how much NVIDIA incentivizes developers to make up for those sales.
NVIDIA's customer service department has had a tough time of it recently. After a massive recall of last year's SHIELD Tablet for faulty batteries that posed a possible fire hazard, it's come to light that some SHIELD Android TV units will also need to be recalled. Luckily, this one isn't quite so widespread: the recall only affects the SHIELD Pro model (the one with the 500GB conventional hard drive), and even then, only a small portion of units seem to be affected. Also there's almost no chance of them exploding, which is a good thing.
If you've got NVIDIA's flagship tablet (hopefully you've already swapped yours in for a replacement with a non-explodable battery), then it's time to hit that settings menu and pull the latest update the SHIELD team is pushing out to devices now.
This one's not a huge deal - just a few bugfixes, performance improvements, and stuff like that. The most notable fix is a patch for the Stagefright vulnerability; otherwise, it's pretty simple. Here's a look at the full changelog: