Takeovers: Six months into the explosive rise of Canada’s nascent marijuana industry, Aurora Cannabis Inc. Has established itself as a bold deal maker. Underlying this growth is a takeover strategy that’s pretty unconventional. Truth is, it hard to tell especially if one of your primary concerns is must have exclusive games geared for the younger members of your clan. Xbox One has Zoo Tycoon, PlayStation 4 has Knack, and that about it right now.Microsoft may soon edge ahead of its competitor, though, thanks to a pair of games announced last spring that are edging closer to completion: Project Spark and Kinect Sports Rivals.Post Arcade had a chance to check out both at a recent event in Microsoft downtown Toronto digs.Project Spark currently in beta, with a final release date yet to be announced might best be thought of as LittleBigPlanet in three dimensions rather than two.Based on Microsoft Research Kodu Game Lab, a simplified programming environment made available for Windows and Xbox 360 about five years ago, it essentially a visually oriented game design tool that just about anyone can use, including kids.And from what I saw it looks pretty powerful.My half hour demo began with some examples of what Project Spark current beta community has been up to, and one ambitious amateur designer recreated the famous island level from Halo complete with cute little Grunts thrusting players into a first person perspective and arming them with vague facsimile of an assault rifle.Another user created a fantasy village on the side of a steep hill, arranging its houses and shrubs to resemble a pinball table. Large boulders rolled between these obstacles like silver balls, with a pair of logs attached to fences at the bottom acting as flippers.Seeing highlights from an enthusiastic user community is fine and dandy, but I couldn help wonder just how hard is it to make stuff like this.Not very, apparently.For the next 20 minutes I was shown how easy it is to create a world by raising and lowering topography and then painting on complex environmental details ranging from textures to trees and vegetation of various sizes.Starting from scratch, my host created a tropical island with a U shaped mountain, a village, and a moat with a bridge in a matter of maybe five minutes.Then he began populating the map with creatures.
IT MAY BE ABOUT time to make this a once every two years series, since the 2001 edition of Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation looks a lot like floor sweepings. Many reruns are added to flesh out a 90 minute show, including a Betty Boop cartoon, carelessly blown up from 16 mm. The low point is a rerunning of a number of “No Point Joe” excuse me, “No Neck Joe” cartoons, revived from the oldies pile by virtue of animator Craig McCracken’s breakthrough hit with the Powerpuff Girls.