Rabbit lets you watch movies & videos with friends

There’s nothing quite like snuggling up with a friend — or friends — and streaming a movie on Netflix.

But what if those Netflix buddies are spread out around the world? How, then, can you enjoy a film together, cracking wise and taking in each other’s reactions?

A new service called Rabbit aims to bridge that geographical gap for Netflix watchers everywhere. The website — memorably located at www.rabb.it — lets you stream videos from Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and elsewhere on a single page, which pairs with a video chat service that lets up to 10 people watch the stream at once.

The heads of the people in the video chat float below the shared screen. A group text chat can pop out from the right side of the website, if you don’t want to interrupt the audio.

Rabbit Lets You Watch Netflix and YouTube with Friends Around the World

It’s easy to pop on any video you’d like and share it with teammates or friends. You can visit any webpage you want by typing the URL into what Rabbit calls the “Sharepad” — that row of streaming services you see just above the bubbleheads.

Though Rabbit lists Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, MLB.TV, Google Drive, and BuzzFeed, you can co-visit any site with a Web address using Rabbit. That made it easy for my team, for example, to look at an article, and chat about what we liked and didn’t like.

Rabbit is based entirely in the browser, so you don’t need to download a separate app to use it. Once you visit a Rabbit room, your webcam immediately starts up and inserts you into the chat — no registration, usernames, or passwords required.

Rabbit screenshot

Navigation within the streaming site, especially if you want to scroll down a page or highlight text, can be a little clumsy; you are basically using a virtual mouse on a virtual version of Google’s Chrome browser, and the cursor can be finicky. But once you get the video going, or the page loaded, the service does its job, playing the video without interruption for all parties.

If you are using Rabbit exclusively to video chat — an alternative to Google Hangouts or Skype, or any number of video conferencing services — there are drawbacks. There is a 10-person maximum per chat room, with no option to increase the number of participants. There is no way for the host of the chat to select whose face appears largest when he is talking; the service chooses the speaker, and sometimes it chooses incorrectly, so you are left staring at someone’s blank face while another person is talking. Those who have used Google Hangouts will find themselves longing for that service’s array of party hats and mustaches. More pressingly, right now Rabbit supports only the Google Chrome and Opera browsers; that means more than half of all Internet users would have to open up a different browser than the one they normally surf on.

Rabbit screenshot

But Rabbit certainly has advantages over more familiar video chat services. No one needs to make an account to start or join a chat, for example: You just open a room and then send a link to whomever you want to invite. (You can also register and create your own private, permanent room, password-protected or not.) The screen-sharing feature can be incredibly fun and is easy to use. And the design of Rabbit is super clean and appealing — and much more modern than Google+, Vidyo, or Skype.

Rabbit says it is working on adding support for more browsers and platforms, and that additional features are in the works. I’ll certainly be watching to see how the service improves and builds on its current bare-bones state. With its easy screen sharing and attractive design, the foundation for Rabbit is solid enough to support much more.

Indeed, for friends, colleagues, or Netflix streaming buddies who want to watch and talk about almost anything on the Internet together, Rabbit is definitely a big bunny hop in the right direction.

Facebook makes $407 every second

Wednesday evening Facebook was was down for a little over 30 minutes. In that time, the company lost somewhere in the ballpark of $854,700 in revenue. That figure’s based on a revenue report for last quarter. The company’s total takings from July to September? $3.2 billion.

So if, by some chance, you’re unable to post that status update or chat with your friends, there’s a good chance there’s an accountant somewhere who is a bit more upset than you are!

Bungie explains why Destiny’s DLC is on disc

….if you even want to call it an explanation. 

For weeks now, Destiny players have been glitching into walls and finding secrets that they weren’t meant to see. Buried in the game’s files are all sorts of hidden zones that you can’t access normally, some of which will be used for Destiny’s upcoming downloadable content.

That’s right—Destiny has committed one of gaming’s cardinal sins: On-Disc DLC.

On-disc DLC—that is to say, content that’s on a game’s disc but is locked until you download more files and potentially pay more money—has become taboo in the video game world for a number of reasons. For one, there’s the whole psychological element—if you’re paying for a video game, you’d expect to be able to access everything that’s on the disc you bought. More importantly, the very idea of DLC being ready in time to ship alongside the main game would imply that the game’s developers cut out that content to be sold separately.

Of course, there are all sorts of possible factors in play here—there are scenarios where parts of a development team might start work on DLC while other members of the team are finishing up the main game, therefore allowing some early assets to ship with the disc. In this case, it’s clear that most of the unfinished zones aren’t quite fully baked yet, and there’s no clear evidence that Bungie cut out planned content just to sell it later. Sill, just the words “on-disc DLC” are enough to make some gamers’ skin crawl. So Eurogamer asked Bungie president Harold Ryan about it:

I’m sure you sure the recent leaks with players able to see a lot of this planned content already in the game. Based on what you’ve told me, a lot of that doesn’t seem to be in The Dark Below.

Harold Ryan: There’s a bunch of shared-world content we’ve shipped on the disc specifically to limit download sizes for people. Both inside the US and all over the world, how much you download on your local home internet connection can be a problem, and even how much storage space it takes up on your console. So we share a lot of assets across all the activities in the game. When people get into areas that aren’t unlocked right now, they’re seeing pieces we built and shipped ahead of time, but they’re by no means the finished experiences or even the finished content.

But when we can get into these areas already and see this content, there’s a feeling at the content is finished, cut and saved for DLC.

Harold Ryan: No. Eris and her story were built over the last three months, long after the game was done. For example for The Dark Below, that included the activities and the bosses and all of the polish of it.
Satisfying explanation? Irritating non-answer? You be the judge!

Xbox Live Gold members get vikings, piñatas and more free

Xbox Live Gold subscribers will be treated to three free games next month, starting with the Xbox One debut of the indie title Volgarr the Viking, Microsoft announced today.

Xbox One-owning Gold members will be able to get Crazy Viking Studios’ brutally difficult action game free from Nov. 1-30. Volgarr the Viking launched on Windows PC via Steam in September 2013. Non-Gold subscribers will be able to buy the Xbox One version for $9.99.

Microsoft noted that Volgarr the Viking is the free Xbox One game for November in certain regions only, including the U.K. and North America. Customers in Australia, Brazil, Germany, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Russia and Taiwan will instead receive the full version of the Xbox One launch title Powerstar Golf.

Xbox Live Gold subscribers on Xbox 360 will be able to download two well-regarded games for free in November: Rare’s Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise (screenshot above), the 2008 sequel to the original Viva Piñata, and Volition’s Red Faction: Guerrilla, the destruction-tastic open-world shooter from 2009. Trouble in Paradise (regularly $14.99) will be available free from Nov. 1-15, and Red Faction: Guerrilla (reg. $19.99) will take its place from Nov. 16-30.

GameStop to be closed Thanksgiving “Out of respect”

All 6,600 GameStop stores will be closed on Thanksgiving. The stores will open on midnight on November 28th, Black Friday.
In describing why it decided not to open on the holiday, the company said in a statement:
“At GameStop we often use the phrase “protect the family” in reference to our business. A large part of what that means to us is to not open any of our GameStop, SimplyMac, Spring Mobile or Cricket Wireless U.S. locations on Thanksgiving Day out of respect for our store associates and their families and friends. We believe it’s the right decision not only for our employees, but also for our customers. Enjoy this time with your loved ones and we’ll see you on Black Friday.”
GameStop joins a growing list of national retail chains that are announcing they will stay closed on Thanksgiving Day. American Girl, Burlington, Dillard’s, Coscto, Nordstrom, Patagonia, and REI have all confirmed they will be closed. Many cite similar rationales as GameStop’s. Costco said it will be closed because, “Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families.” Dillard’s explained, “We choose to remain closed on Thanksgiving in longstanding tradition of honoring of our customers’ and associates’ time with family.” Patagonia said simply, “It’s a holiday – we’re closed!”
That may sound logical, but Macy’s and Walmart have already said they’ll be open that day, meaning that employees will have to spend time at work instead of having a meal with family and friends. Last year, at least 10 other stores did the same thing. And that’s their prerogative, given hat the United States doesn’t guarantee paid holidays. Forty-five percent of service sector workers don’t get that benefit, and while the stores that open on the holiday say shifts are filled voluntarily, last year there were reports of workers being denied their requests to take the day off.
There may be little benefit from asking workers to come in on a holiday, however. Opening on Thanksgiving last year didn’t boost retailers’ sales above regular Black Friday numbers. The vast majority of shoppers said they weren’t going to shop on that day anyway. And half of them disapproved of the early openings, with 20 percent saying it made them less likely to shop at stores that opened on the holiday.

The stuff you didn’t know about PlayStation

Sony cannonballed into the overcrowded console market and managed to make gaming cool again for aging veterans of the 16-bit console wars. While two decades doesn’t amount to much in the grand scheme of the universe, those years saw Sony ascend to absolute dominance over the industry–meaning you could have missed one of many notable moments if you so much as blinked.

The PlayStation originally started as a Super Nintendo add-on
By the early ’90s, “multimedia” was in the zeitgeist, and even ultra-conservative companies like Nintendo wanted to dip their toes into the vast ocean of CD-quality audio and slideshow-quality video. Ken Kutaragi–who helped design the SNES’ amazing sound chip–spearheaded the creation of the Nintendo “Play Station,” which would play existing Super Nintendo titles along with those in the new SNES-CD format. Unfortunately for Sony, Nintendo chairman/ruthless businessman Hiroshi Yamauchi wanted complete control of licensing rights, so the company ditched their partnership in favor of working with Philips. In a move Sony wouldn’t soon forgive, Nintendo announced the change of plans at the very same 1991 CES that was to host the PlayStation’s reveal.

PlayStation lost a mascot before it even came out in US
PlayStation has gone through so many would-be mascots in the past two decades–but did you know that its first mascot was also the first to die? Polygon Man was a jagged purple head meant to show off the amazing 3D visuals that looked great in 1995 but haven’t aged all that well. The character was meant to sell the system to the West, but then-PlayStation boss Ken Kutaragi reportedly “went absolutely insane,” when he saw it at E3 1995 (and not in a good way). The character was gone before the PlayStation launched in the United States, but he did make a funny return as the final boss in PlayStation Battle Royale.

The black coloring on PSOne discs doesn’t serve a functional purpose
One of the more notable features of the PlayStation experience could be found in its black-bottomed discs, which looked strikingly different from the CDs we’d grown accustomed to at the time. And while this choice could ostensibly be used to discern authentic games from copied ones–at least, until technology gave us CD-Rs in every color of the rainbow–PlayStation discs received a coat of black ink for one reason alone: to look cool.

Kaz Hirai got a custom PS3 when he left to take over Sony
Current Sony head Kazuo Hirai had led the PlayStation division to success before he was promoted to his current position. As fun as Shuhei Yoshida and Andrew House might be at E3 press conferences, Kaz had a certain something that many still miss–including his former employees. When Kaz left in 2012, Shuhei presented him with what might be the most rare version of the PS3 there is: a red and white model that was never available at retail.

There’s a meaning behind the symbols used on the PlayStation controller
When Sony’s Teiyu Goto sat down to design the PlayStation’s distinctive controller, he wanted something easier to remember than letters or colors, so he instead opted to use symbols. And these four characters we’re all familiar with had been chosen to infer each button’s function: the circle and cross aligned with the Japanese symbols for “yes” and “no,” the triangle symbolized a players head or perspective, and the square represented a menu, document or map. While a handful of early Japanese PlayStation games followed Goto’s protocol, it didn’t take developers long to cast aside his original intent.

PS3 ditched the Spider-Man font for practical reasons
The PlayStation 3 launched while America found itself in the grip of Spider-Mania; after all, with two fantastic Sam Raimi movies in existence, what could possibly go wrong for Marvel’s web-slinger? (Don’t answer that.) Curiously, Sony chose to brand the original line of PlayStation 3’s with the same font they used to market Spider-Man–another Ken Kutaragi special–in what many viewed as an awkward attempt at synergy. It was eventually dropped in 2009 for a much more streamlined alternative. Why the change? Sony chose the simple “PS3” as their new logo because it would be easier to read in advertisements than the elongated, Spider-Manly “PLAYSTATION 3.” (And yes, all caps was Sony-mandated typesetting.)

The Sixaxis was a very late addition to PS3
Many stories focusing on the PS4’s design mention how inclusive it was compared to how Sony made the PS3. One shocking example of the communications problems with making the PS3 involves the motion-controlled Sixaxis getting added to Sony’s E3 2006 plans just a few weeks before the public saw it. According to current PlayStation exec Shuhei Yoshida, the hardware team told him that a motion controller was being made and they needed a demo ready for the E3 press conference, ASAP. So if you thought the Warhawk demo at Sony’s disastrous press conference felt rushed and unfinished, you now know why.

Final Fantasy VII originally starred a character called “Hot-Blooded Detective Joe”
The grand tale of Cloud, Sephiroth, and That Girl Who Died might be etched on the brains of everyone who grew up alongside PlayStation RPGs in the ’90s, but Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi envisioned part VII as a detective story starring a gumshoe named Joe. While the final version of FFVII took a much different route, traces of the game’s original concept can be found in the opening area of Midgar, which still uses Sakaguchi’s idea of a city being blown up, and a team of vigilantes on the run.

The world experienced the Great Memory Card Famine
2002 stood as an opportune year to pick up a PlayStation 2; by that time, the system finally had a handful of notable titles to justify its $299 asking price, like Ico, Metal Gear Solid 2, and Final Fantasy X. Unfortunately, along with the infamous PS2 console shortages (remember those?) came something just as vile, if not more so: a complete lack of memory cards on store shelves. If you happened to be working video game retail at this point in time, you no doubt remember the disappointed faces and angry phone calls of people who just wanted a meager 8 MBs of flash memory to help them get on with their lives.

Certain Sony mascots received an “anime makeover” for their Japanese versions
Just as Americans (apparently) demand smugger, angrier characters to grace their games’ box art, the Japanese marketplace is very welcoming to weapon-grade cuteness. So when edgy ’90s characters like Spyro and Crash Bandicoot left American shores, they lost their smirks and cocked eyebrows in exchange for larger eyes and a much friendlier demeanor.

One of the PlayStation’s rarest games could only be found at E3 1999
While it’s easy to quibble about the rarest video game on the PlayStation, few people would disagree with the Elemental Gearbolt Assassin’s Case’s rank of number one. The only way to originally get your hands on this version of the obscure Working Designs shooter (which included a “gold-plated” GunCon) involved going to E3 1999 and somehow snapping up one of 50 given away as prizes. The major downside to this treasured item can be found in the enclosed letter, which indicates the gold paint coating the GunCon could be dissolved through the power of human hand sweat.

A rubber duckie is Sony’s unofficial tech mascot
When most modern developers want to show off their new console’s horsepower, they simply render an old man’s face in real time and call it a day. Back in the day, Sony had a more playful side, and used a digital rubber duck bobbing up and down in a sink full of water to display their system’s potential. Hideo Kojima would include this duck as an Easter Egg in Metal Gear Solid 2, and Sony’s synthetic water fowl would later make an appearance at the unveiling of the PS3, and, eventually, in its own game: 2007’s Super Rub ‘a’ Dub for PSN.

Sony destroyed Sega at E3 1995 with just one utterance
In those console crazy days of the mid-90s, Sega went forth with a business plan that in hindsight was cataclysmic: quietly ship the Saturn to a handful of retailers in the midst of E3 madness, and get a months-long jump on the competition. Unfortunately for Sega, the Saturn’s $399 asking price paired with its subpar launch lineup didn’t exactly send gamers running to the stores–the ones who heard about the system’s availability, anyway. Following Sega’s announcement of their stealth launch at E3 1995, SCEA President Steve Race took to the stage and destroyed Sega’s ambitions with a two-word utterance: “299 dollars.” Apparently, Sony won that console war by saving gamers 100 clams–hey, that was a lot of money back then.

Sony’s Net Yaroze fostered indie development in the late ’90s
In 2013, it seems as if every living human being has developed (and KickStarted) their own indie game, if only because the tools are so readily available. This certainly wasn’t the case in the ’90s, though Sony made an attempt to reach out to “garage developers” through their Net Yaroze system, a $750 black PlayStation released in 1997 which would interface with the user’s PC (not included). While most of these projects didn’t see life outside of their random appearances on magazine-bundled demo discs throughout Europe, the Yaroze no doubt had a great impact on an entire generation of developers.

A handful of US-published games featured support for the Japan-only PocketStation
The Tamagotchi fad of the late ’90s forced many console developers to follow suit, which explains the existence of the Dreamcast’s ever-beeping VMU. Sony jumped onto this bandwagon by developing the PocketStation, which essentially offered the same memory card meets minigame functionality of Sega’s own creation. Though this peripheral came extremely close to seeing an American release, a handful of games offered functionality for a device US gamers wouldn’t see outside their local import shop. Both Final Fantasy VIII and Saga Frontier 2 shipped too late to remove the PocketStation references that probably confused gamers wondering why their local retailers didn’t carry this amazing new Sony product.

Ken Kutaragi hated Crash Bandicoot
The Godfather of the PlayStation brand had a serious problem with Crash Bandicoot acting as the face of Sony during the mid-‘90s console wars. As Sony positioned itself as the home for edgy teen gamers, Crash’s status as a goofy, cartoony platformer conflicted with the company’s intended message. When Kutaragi finally confronted a Naughty Dog representative with his distaste for Crash, he offered up a list of complaints, including “This game is crap!” Ultimately Ken shouldn’t have gotten so stressed; Crash eventually faded from the mainstream after countless outsourced sequels, and Naughty Dog became a Sony-owned studio in 2001.

The PlayStation found its Japanese mascot in the form of a white cat named Toro
While Sony struggled with the non-issue of finding a mascot character to support its brand in the United States, SCEJ found an unlikely candidate in Toro, a small, white cat who made his debut in the Japan-only 1999 PlayStation release Doko Demo Issho. Since then, Toro (and his black cat counterpart, Kuro) has appeared in a number of PlayStation titles and merchandise, but the significance of this character is mostly lost on US gamers.

The original PlayStation marketing campaign was ’90s genius
As consumers generally grew accustomed to irony in its myriad forms, advertising, in turn, grew more aggressive, and didn’t especially care about confusing the Average Joe. Hence, the original PlayStation’s slogans of EnoS Lives (“Sony lives”) and URnote (“You are not RED E” — get it?), which branded the original commercials full of stock footage, staggered fonts, and very little actual gameplay. Grandma might not have known what these commercials intended to sell her innocent family, but kids picked up on the mystery and carried it with them for endless discussions at school.

The 360’s red ring of death had nothing on Sony
Hardware malfunctions aren’t new to this world, though Microsoft had the misfortune of theirs happening just as social media networks began to wrap their icy tentacles around our lives. Rewind back to the launch of the original PlayStation, though, and you’ll see a shoddily constructed plastic box that often had to be turned upside down just to function properly. The PS2 suffered its own share of problems as well, with a disproportionate amount of first-generation systems suffering from the dreaded “disc read error,” which rendered the console all but useless. Sony eventually settled a class action in 2005, and doled out meager rewards to anyone who held onto their original receipts for half a decade. Justice!

The original PlayStation logo underwent a number of revisions
The four-color “PS” that defined the PlayStation’s first era of console dominance may conjure up warm memories for those of us who lived through those ancient times, but this logo didn’t come into creation fully formed. Designer Manabu Sakamoto came up with a number of variations on the PlayStation’s logo, many of which can be seen in the image above. While there’s something attractive about the extant logo’s clean design, you still have to wonder how the PlayStation would’ve sold without the “P” and “S” so visible in its branding.

There’s a meaning behind those white towers on the PS2’s startup screen
The PlayStation 2’s startup screen zooms through a seemingly random arrangement of white towers with a space-age WHOOSH sound–but is there something more to these rectangular objects? Turns out, the PS2 bases the visual composition of its startup screen entirely on the contents of your memory card.

Ken Kutaragi wanted the PSP to be “the Walkman of the 21st century”
Before Sony introduced the Walkman in the early ’80s, the idea of walking around and privately listening to your own music existed only in the fevered dreams of madmen. Sony legend Ken Kutaragi wanted the PSP to be just as revolutionary, which helps explain why the company’s first portable let users browse the Internet, listen to music, and watch movies in the now-deceased UMD format. Unfortunately, smartphones soon supplanted all of the PSP’s ancillary uses, leaving the system as a far less essential item than Kutaragi intended.

The port of Riven featured the most discs for a single PlayStation game
While video-heavy RPGs spilled their content across three and often four discs, the sequel to Myst topped out at a total of five, granting it the dubious honor of “Most CDs for a Single PlayStation Game.” Given that Riven largely consists of full-screen video segments linking different areas, it’s no wonder why the game needed so much plastic to contain its sheer size. These days, you could fit several copies of the game on your run-of-the-mill flash drive, and with plenty of room to spare.

Nintendo’s getting into the health biz

Nintendo revealed first details about its health-focused QOL platform, which stands for “quality of life,” announcing a new sensor that monitors and analyzes you while you sleep.

In a presentation, Nintendo described the QOL device as having “five ‘non’ sensing” features: It will be non-wearable, non-contact (meaning it doesn’t need to touch your body), non-operating, non-waiting and non-installation. Essentially, the device is designed to operate on its own, without much set-up.

The QOL device is designed to monitor a user during sleep. Using radio waves, the device reads a user’s movement, heart rate, respiration and fatigue, and sends that data to servers to be analyzed. The QOL system will connect with smart devices and “dedicated video game devices,” presumably Nintendo’s Wii U and 3DS systems, via the cloud. Services designed to improve health and quality of life, through diet and exercise, for example, will be part of the QOL system.

QOL Nintendo

Nintendo is partnering with U.S.-based ResMed, a manufacturer of “medical equipment for treating, diagnosing and managing sleep-disordered breathing and other respiratory disorders.” Its QOL device is slated to launch sometime in 2016.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced the company’s plans to expand its business into the health market earlier this year, with the hopes that it can improve “quality of life through entertainment.”

“[D]efining a new entertainment business that seeks to improve (quality of life) creates various possibilities for the future such as ‘learning’ and ‘lifestyle,’ but it is our intention to take ‘health’ as our first step,” Iwata said at the time. “We wish to achieve an integrated hardware-software platform business that, instead of providing mobile or wearable features, will be characterized by a new area of what we like to call ‘non-wearable’ technology.

Iwata said Nintendo planned to go beyond what it attempted with exercise software Wii Fit, and was “considering themes that we have not incorporated to games for our existing platforms” with the aim to create a new market.

“What is generally good for health requires some kind of effort to be made by the individual,” Iwata said. “This is where our strength as an entertainment company to keep our consumers engaged and entertained comes into play, assisted by the non-wearable feature, which is the biggest differentiator of this new business field, as well as user experiences that integrate into people’s daily lives, all of which help us overcome this difficulty. If we do indeed succeed in doing so, we will be able to provide feedback to our consumers on a continual basis, and our approach will be to redefine the notion of health-consciousness, and eventually increase the fit population.

“While we feel that this is going to take two to three years after its launch, we expect the QOL-improving platform to provide us with new themes which we can then turn into games that operate on our future video game platforms, too,” he said. “Once we have established such a cycle, we will see continuous positive interactions between the two platforms that enable us to make unique propositions.”

Halo 2 gets a facelift

While Halo: The Master Chief Collection combines the first edition of Halo with the following editions up through Halo 4, the game receiving the biggest overhaul among them is Halo 2, which celebrates its 10th anniversary on Nov. 9. The game has been given a complete visual facelift courtesy of Halo developers 343 Industries, and to complement their work, the studio brought in an industry stalwart to redo the game’s cinematic cutscenes.

Watch the exclusive debut of a Halo 2 trailer highlighting some of the work done for the game by visual effects outfit Blur Studios. The studio, which has done similar work on just about every major series in gaming, from Star Wars to Far Cry to the Batman: Arkham games, completely upgraded every memorable scene from the original Halo 2.

From environments to characters to camerawork, Blur has delivered some of their most gorgeous work to date, and the trailer is just a tease of what’s to come in the full game’s cinematics.

Destiny gets into the Halloween spirit

You can become a pumpkin-headed legend in Destiny, thanks to the game’s latest update, which adds a handful of Halloween-themed items. The most important of those, at least from a visual standpoint, is the new Jackolyte item.

Players can score some Jackolyte by visiting the Postmaster, who should have three of the consumable item waiting for them in an All Hallow’s Eve package. Yes, the headwear is consumable and limited, but you’ll be able to sport a spooky three-eyed jack-o’-lantern for as long as it lasts. If you need more, the Hive reportedly drops Jackolyte and another consumable called Flight of Shadows, which changes the appearance of your respawn.

The update also adds four new Sparrows which are decorated with some flame graphics that may or may not enhance the sensation of it being Halloween this week.

Nintendo makes surprise return to profit

Nintendo achieved a surprise return to profit in its second quarter following four years of annual losses. The Japanese firm credits new games and a weaker yen for an improved performance in its second quarter.

The corporation has made $132 million in profit for the six months ending in September, marking a significant upward swing from the $91 million loss it announced during the first three months of the period.

Analysts were far off the mark in their projections, with many expecting Nintendo would announce a multi-billion-yen loss for the quarter. The strong performance could be instrumental by April, with Nintendo hoping to bring an end to its four-year run of annual losses.

Responsible for the success in particular was the “extremely strong initial sales” of Super Smash Bros for 3DS, which has shipped 3.2 million units globally already since its mid-September release. In addition, the eccentric life sim Tomodachi Life has sold about 1.3 million units worldwide since its release.

Meanwhile, Wii U hardware sales have more than doubled in the past six months, though that’s in comparison to the system’s dismal performance during the same period last year.

During the six months to September, Nintendo has sold 1.1 million Wii U consoles worldwide. During the same period last year, it had only sold about 460,000 units.

In terms of software, Nintendo shipped 9.4 million Wii U games. The corporation did not specify further, only adding that Mario Kart 8 and Hyrule Warriors performed “steadily”.

However, 3DS hardware sales are down significantly. During the April-September quarter, Nintendo sold about 2 million 3DS systems, compared to the 3.9 million units it sold during the same period last year. In terms of software, Nintendo sold about 233 million 3DS games during the six months, which again represents a decrease from the 273 million it sold during the same half-year period in 2013.

Wii hardware sales sunk further as Nintendo discontinues the console across many territories.