Anime Fighter Attacked By Hackers Who Have Made It Unplayable

Guilty Gear Strive, Arc System Works’ mega-popular 2D anime fighter, is under attack by hackers who’ve resurfaced a fatal exploit that seemingly causes the game to become unplayable for some players online.

Like most competitive games, Guilty Gear Strive has a method for storing player data. This is called the “R-Code,” and it houses all sorts of information, from your in-game handle to your win-lose record, among other stats. It’s not the most stable, as players reported a couple years ago that R-Code failures would not allow the game to connect to online matches. And last December, hackers discovered they could change a player’s R-Code details, such as a name, in the middle of a match to crash a game. It seems this exploit has reared its head again, as hackers find they can change not only a player’s name, but also force a player to send in-game chat messages and create memory leak problems that slow a match to a crawl. This issue seems to mostly affect Strive’s online modes, including arcade, dojo, training, and others.

As Strive pro Julian “Hotashi” Harris said in January 3 YouTube video about the exploit that it seems to occur at infrequent intervals “since whoever’s doing this hacking thing [appears to be on] Eastern European” time. On top of sending unprompted messages and crashing games, Hotashi noted that the hack can “cause some sort of GPU or CPU leak,” forcing Strive to slow down your computer down to an unplayable rate or, worse yet, “black screen of death your computer.” Hotashi also said that while you’re more likely to be targeted by this exploit if you’re a prominent personality in the community, the issue isn’t relegated to just streamers on PC. Console players have reportedly been affected as well. I guess no one’s safe now.

Fighting game commentator Stephen “Sajam” Lyon said talk of the hack is an important discussion to have as Frosty Faustings, a well-known tournament circuit where Strive will appear, kicks off on February 2. So, players are having a hard time getting their training in while this exploit is running rampant.


“There’s a feature that lets you follow people in Guilty Gear Strive,” Sajam said. “And so, even if the person’s not streaming their matches live, you’ll know when they’re online playing people and doing stuff. So, the way you have to practice is you have to play in offline mode.”

Kotaku reached out to Arc System Works for comment but didn’t receive a reply before publication. However, Zack “Shini” Tan, an Arc System Works producer said on Twitter that he’s “back in the office” and looking at the reports.

Meanwhile, the R-Code exploit has gotten so bad that a Strive VTuber tournament scheduled to start on January 6 was postponed for now. Hopefully, Arc System Works can iron this out soon so folks can get back to gaming.


Fully Playable Left 4 Dead Prototype Discovered 15 Years Later

Some people holding guns walk through a long hallway.

Screenshot: Valve

A trove of Counter-Strike maps recently leaked on the internet, including a mod that was the predecessor to the survival co-op game Left 4 Dead. The mod is even fully playable, as long as you know how to set up your own server.

According to gaming leaks streamer Tyler McVicker, the prototype originated as a game mode in Counter-Strike: Condition Zero. Players would assemble in groups of up to four people and play as the terrorists. The goal was to plant a bomb while defending against waves of infinitely respawning hordes of counter-terrorists. These enemies only used melee attacks, which made them the perfect predecessor to L4D zombies.

Valve’s Earliest Left 4 Dead Prototypes Leaked. WOW.

The developers at Turtle Rock Studios clearly thought that the mode had a lot of potential. They polished it further during the development of Counter-Strike: Source, where it was renamed “Terror Strike.” L4D director and Turtle Rock co-founder Mike Booth confirmed the mod’s existence over Twitter. “It was our lunchtime go-to game,” he wrote. “We wanted Valve to release it but never got traction for some reason.” Turtle Rock was known as “Valve South” after Valve acquired it in 2008. They had already started development on the survival co-op, but they didn’t have an advocate within the parent company.

Former Valve writer Chet Faliszek told Kotaku that Turtle Rock had already started working on L4D before he became involved. The game caught his attention, and he became its “champion.” “I was one of the people who checked it out and told Gabe about it at lunch,” said. “I went on so much about it, he said I should just go work on it.” As a result of his involvement, he was able to increase the scope of its production. Faliszek recruited over a hundred Valve developers for L4D after the company had acquired Turtle Rock.

Valve published the zombie survival co-op in 2008. A sequel followed in the very next year Turtle Rock eventually separated from the publisher and became an independent studio in 2011.

It’s pretty neat that such a prolific game originated as a mod that its creators had been personally passionate about, rather than a carefully planned product. If you want to see what L4D looked like back in its ideation stage, you can download the mod here.

New Sony Smart Car Is A Billboard That Plays PS5 Games

Announced last week at CES 2023, Sony and Honda’s new smart car prototype seems to be taking a page from Elon Musk’s Tesla, letting folks boot up PlayStation 4 and 5 games via its interior screens. But Sony may also be planning to use the car as a way to advertise shit on the outside of it while you drive around. Welcome to the future. It sucks.

The Afeela, Sony and Honda’s new smart EV (electric vehicle), is a joint venture between the two large companies designed to leverage both Sony’s advanced tech and Honda’s decades of car manufacturing. The result is a new, super-fancy, and technology-packed prototype EV that Sony claims will be hitting the streets in a few years. And when it does, apparently, you’ll be able to use it to play PS5 games.

Now to be clear, you won’t be able to just pop a PS5 disc into the car as Afeela will utilize cloud streaming to let owners and passengers play PS5 and PS4 games on the go, provided you have a decent signal or internet connection. You’ll also be able to watch movies and TV via the various screens inside the car.

But the Afeela doesn’t just have screens on the interior. No, like a weird future episode of a Pimp My Ride reboot, the Afeela also features an exterior widescreen display. Sony call’s this the car’s “Media Bar” and says it will let owners display a variety of data including the current weather and battery level of the car. It can also be used to display different colors or images, too. Yasuhide Mizuno, CEO of Sony Honda Mobility, says with the media bar, owners can “express” themselves “by sharing various types of information to people around [the car].”

CES / Sony / Honda

Sony also has some less cool plans for this new media bar. During its CES showcase, Sony briefly displayed an ad for Spider-Man: No Way Home on the outside screen. Not much more was said about this brief moment from the event, beyond Mizuno suggesting Sony was talking to partners about how they can create “fun and exciting” interactions using the media bar. That sounds a lot like Sony wants Afeelas to be mobile advertising billboards.

Of course, all of this is still a few years away as Sony and Honda say the Afeela isn’t coming out until 2026. But as a tease of what to expect from future smart cars, it’s not looking good. Considering how ad-riddled smart TVs already are in 2023, I’m not looking forward to cars getting covered in screens and ads, too. I guess I’ll barely notice as I play a laggy PS5 game via the cloud in the backseat of the Afeela. Anyway, I thought the future would be cooler.

Callisto Protocol Studio Latest Accused Of Botching Dev Credits

Some developers on the space horror blockbuster Callisto Protocol say they were omitted from the end credits sequence despite extensive work on the game and key contributions to the finished product. The claims come amid a renewed push throughout the video game industry to fix a broken crediting system that often punishes lower-ranking employees and those who leave prior to the final release date.

In a new report by, former employees at Striking Distance Studios say they believe around 20 developers were left off Callisto Protocol’s long end-of-game credits roll. Many were surprised by the omission, and say the studio never formally communicated a policy of leaving developers off the credits if they left before the game shipped. A few regard it as punishment for taking a job somewhere else.

“[The credits omission] felt like an obvious F-U to those who were left out,” one source tells “Somebody wanted to send a message, and the message was, ‘Next time have a bit more loyalty to us.’”

Striking Distance was formed by former Dead Space director Glen Schofield in 2019 after leaving Call of Duty studio Sledgehammer Games. Late last year as its debut game was finishing development, Schofield was criticized for a tweet that endorsed crunch culture, celebrating sacrifice and long overtime hours.

While he later deleted the tweet and apologized, Bloomberg subsequently confirmed that at least some developers at the studio had crunched during production. Schofield told Bloomberg that some staff were “working hard for a few weeks” but that no overtime was mandatory.

Some former developers now tell that studio management would make promises to address crunch culture in the very same meetings where it would praise the long hours people had put in. “My issue is those of us who took part in that culture, who put in that time, and worked intensely to help craft this product, were punished with a credit omission for not going the extra mile…to stay until it shipped.”

The International Game Developers Association announced a plan last August to try and standardize how developers are credited for their work, and foster the spread of tools that can make it easier to update end credits scrolls when they are missing someone or contain other inaccuracies. “Game credits are hard, particularly in AAA,” former Naughty Dog communications manager, Scott Lowe, tweeted in reaction to today’s report. “But the answer is easy: credit everyone. Gating by time and subjective assessments of value/impact is messy and cruel.”

Striking Distance Studios did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Writer Of Minecraft’s Ending Got High And Made It Free

The controversial ending to Mojang Studios’ Minecraft has sparked plenty of conversation over the years. A poem scrolls on-screen following after players defeat the Ender Dragon for a whopping nine minutes. Quotes from the “End Poem,” as the swan song is titled, have been inked on fans skins and turned into merch. But the story behind the prose is tantalizing in itself.

In a lengthy Twitter thread, Irish writer Julian Gough recounted meeting Minecraft creator, Markus Persson 11 years ago and writing the narrative ending for the adventure game, Minecraft’s End Poem. Gough said he was pressured into signing a contract with Mojang Studios, and later Microsoft after the company purchased the studio back in 2014, after the ending had already been implemented in the game. The contract would sign over Gough’s rights to Mojang and later parent company Microsoft. According to Gough, he was never under contract with Mojang when he wrote the game’s ending, meaning he owned the copyright over the poem, not the corporation. In the thread, Gough uploaded a photo of the contract Microsoft allegedly sent that Gough refused to sign in 2011 and in 2014.

“I’m lucky in that I don’t give a shit about working in the video games industry, so I can just tell the truth and whatever happens, happens,” Gough told Kotaku. “Video games are a great artform, potentially the greatest artform, but the industry as a whole frequently doesn’t treat writers with respect or understanding, and so it often doesn’t get the best out of them. It’s tragic, because the best writers can really elevate the whole game, at every level.”

After taking shrooms in the Netherlands, Gough decided to take the Minecraft Poem End under public domain through a Creative Commons license, according to his own account of the story, which he shared on Substack in December 2022. Gough said he put Minecraft’s ending under the public domain was so that players would be free to do whatever they liked with it, whether that’s using the poem in a school play, making T-shirts and posters of it, or painting it on the side of a van.

“But there’s no point giving people a present if they don’t KNOW they’ve been given it. So I wrote a long piece on Substack, telling the story,” Gough wrote in the Twitter thread. “It went mildly viral. A terrific editor at a major global media organisation read the piece, and got in touch.”

When the undisclosed media organization reached out to Microsoft, Gough says the company refused to reply. According to the writer, Microsoft’s silence was the company’s way of circumventing the Streisand effect. Rather than making a big deal out of news only to make the news become a bigger story, the article was scrapped.

“And… it worked. Silence worked. The lawyers at the media organisation, understandably but annoyingly, lost their nerve,” Gough wrote. “Without a comment, even a ‘no comment’, it was impossible to tell what Microsoft knew or planned to do. And that was too much risk for the media organisation’s lawyers, because Microsoft [has] 1700 lawyers and unlimited financial firepower.”

Kotaku reached out to Microsoft for comment but did not receive a reply.

Had Gough’s ending been for “some tiny little indie company with no legal department,” he says getting news out about his ending poem, would not have faced such high levels of “scrutiny” and obsessive fact-checking by lawyers.

“If they said or did anything, we could have reacted to it. If they made a good objection, we could have changed a few lines, and published,” Gough wrote. “If they made a bad objection, we could have shown them proof that we were right, and published.”

Gough told Kotaku its been interesting seeing his Twitter thread receive a support from fellow writers and folks in the video games industry.

“I’ve even received PayPal donations from Microsoft employees! That was a pleasant surprise,” Gough said. “And I’ve had some eye-opening DMs from writers, and other creatives, who feel they were screwed over by big games companies, but who are afraid to say anything in public, because they worry they will be quietly blacklisted. There’s a lot of hurt out there.”

At the end of his thread, Gough encouraged players to read and share the original Minecraft game’s ending, which can be seen in the YouTube video below.


A Big Month For RPGs On Game Pass, But The Departures Hurt, Too

Another month, another set of games coming and going from Xbox Game Pass. If you’re an RPG fan, you have a lot to look forward to, but if you’re a murder mystery fan, you’re quickly running out of time to play a real gem of a visual novel before it leaves the service.

As promised when the ports were first announced, Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden are joining Xbox Game Pass on January 19, with Monster Hunter Rise to follow the next day. If you’ve never played either of the classic Persona games, those are two meaty RPGs with great dungeon crawling, social elements, and banger soundtracks. While they might not be as modern as Persona 5 Royal, which launched on Game Pass back in October, they’re still really strong games in their own right, and these are the “definitive versions” of both games, and are the closest in the series to Persona 5 in terms of quality of life changes.

But as Game Pass giveth, it taketh away. Six games will be leaving Game Pass on Sunday, January 15, and one of them in particular is worth your time as a Game Pass subscriber to get the most out of your subscription. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is a murder mystery visual novel that spawned the cult-hit series that rapidly became an internet phenomenon in recent years.

For the next five days only, the first of the series’ murder mystery entries (there’s a spin-off puzzle shooter that never came to Xbox, for some reason) will still be available through Game Pass, but that first game is foundational to the other games. Danganronpa isn’t a series you can really jump into wherever you feel like, as the story of each game is deeply intertwined with its predecessors.

Trigger Happy Havoc is set in a high school called Hope’s Peak Academy, where students from around Japan are scouted for their talent in their respective field and promised further success just by having graduated from the school. But once there, the students find themselves trapped by an animatronic teddy bear called Monokuma, who tells them that, in order to leave the school, they must kill one of their classmates without being caught in a mock trial. It leads to some fascinating mysteries, twists and turns, and directly into the sequels that fine-tuned the format and created even more incredible mysteries.

Right now, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is just a few short days away from leaving Game Pass, but if you start now, you can likely finish it before it’s gone, and jump right in to Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, which doesn’t seem to be in danger of leaving the service any time soon. I just got a handful of friends to finally try out Danganronpa on the heels of watching Glass Onion and looking for a good murder mystery, and they got hooked in the first case. Trust me, you will be, too.

The full list of games leaving Game Pass in January are as follows:

  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (Cloud, Console, and PC)
  • Nobody Saves The World (Cloud, Console, and PC)
  • Pupperazzi (Cloud, Console, and PC)
  • The Anacrusis (Game Preview) (Cloud, Console, and PC)
  • We Happy Few (Cloud, Console, and PC)
  • Windjammers 2 (Cloud, Console, and PC)

Marvel Snap’s Hated Leader Card To Be Less Powerful After Nerf

Marvel Snap’s latest round of balance changes hasn’t officially been released yet, but following a last-minute delay and leak, the info is out there. And players have begun debating one nerf in particular involving the controversial Leader card. For many, the leaked nerf details aren’t enough. There was so much chatter around this change that Marvel Snap boss Ben Brode had to address it and the card’s future on Twitter.

Released last year, Marvel Snap is a fast-paced digital card game available on Steam and mobile devices that stars superheroes and villains. Matches are fast, decks are small, and each time you play the game feels a little different as randomized zones can completely shake up a match. We here at Kotaku thought it was one of the best games of 2022.

But even a great game has its problems. And one issue in Marvel Snap as of late has been the controversially powerful Leader card that—thanks to its ability to copy all cards your opponent played this turn—-can basically steamroll over most decks in the final moment of a match.

People have been waiting for a balance change for a few weeks now, with many hopeful that The Leader would get tweaked to be less powerful. We were supposed to get a patch with balance changes on January 4, but at the last minute, an issue delayed it. However, likely as a result of the last-second delay, the details of the patch leaked via Marvel Snap’s Korean community team and quickly spread across the web. While the patch notes contained a few different nerfs and card buffs, The Leader’s minor balance change—-only removing one point of power from the card—-was considered not enough by players.

In response, Marvel Snap boss Ben Brode discussed The Leader nerf on Twitter, providing more context for the small nerf and clarifying that the team has more plans to tweak the card in the future, it’s just still trying to figure out what to change. But those changes are coming, eventually, and this first, smaller nerf is just step one towards balancing Leader.

Meanwhile, if you are someone who likes running Marvel Snap decks with the various Guardians of the Galaxy characters, good news: Groot and Drax are getting small buffs to their base stats to make them more viable and less of a gamble. It also appears, via the leaked patch notes, that artist credits are finally being added to the game in the next update, too. Of course, these leaked patch notes aren’t official yet, even if Brode is responding to one part of them, so keep that in mind. As for when to expect this delayed patch, Brode explained on Twitter that the wait shouldn’t be longer than a week, so it could go live around January 10 or 11.

Update – 1/10/23, 11:42 a.m. ET: After its patch notes leaked last week, the latest Marvel Snap update is now live following a small delay. 

NFL Pro Jamaal Williams Wants You To Show Pokémon Some Respect

NFL pro Jamaal Williams started 2023 right: By beating the hell out of the Chicago Bears and coming out in a post-game interview as a huge weeb gamer. He wasn’t just willing to admit that he played Pokémon like the rest of us, he was ready to defend its honor in front of a clueless reporter.

Williams is a running back on the Detroit Lions, which means two things: He has mainstream legitimacy, and he can probably beat you in a 100m dash without breaking a sweat. Neither of which I can really identify with. But nerds like me can finally find common ground with him in two aspects: He likes the Naruto anime, and he’ll judge anyone who lacks basic Pokémon literacy.

After beating the Bears 41 to 10 on New Year’s Day, Williams was being interviewed by a sports reporter and looking incredibly fly in a Naruto sweatshirt and headband. Everything was going well until he said that he “just [wanted] to go home and play Pokémon” after admitting he didn’t watch TV, and therefore missed Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers talking smack about the team (the Lions beat the Packers this past Sunday, by the way). Williams made the mistake of assuming that the average American would know about one of the biggest gaming franchises on earth. We’ve all been there.

Unfortunately, the reporter was clearly not a Kotaku reader. “Pokéman?” he asked.

Pokémon,” Williams hastily corrected. “Don’t do that. You can’t disrespect Pokémon like that. Pokeman?”

“‘Mon,” the reporter corrected, but it was too late. He forever solidified his image as a normie. Desperate to redeem himself, he added: “I got my nephew some Pokémon cards. They’re kind of a big deal.”

“I don’t know what cards you’ve got,” Williams replied. “They must’ve sucked. Because you’re calling them Pokéman.” Go off, king. Kotaku reached out to Williams to ask how long he’s been a Pokémon fan, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

His nerd antics didn’t stop at that interview. On January 8, the self-proclaimed “Swagg Kazekage” introduced himself as “the leader of the Hidden Village of the Den.” ‘Kazekage’ is a reference to the leaders of the ninja villages in Naruto, and the “Lion’s Den” is a nickname for Detroit Lions’ players and fan community. A clip of his introduction was posted to the NFL Twitter, which feels slightly unreal to me. Did you know that the NFL has 32 million followers? Well, now you do.

Naruto and Pokémon are mainstream now, and there’s nothing that you can do about it. So don’t go around calling it Pokéman.

Madden Will Pull CPR TD Celebration After Damar Hamlin Incident

A screenshot of Madden 23 shows a player running while others lay on the grass.

Screenshot: EA / NFL

Last week, during the first quarter of an NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals, Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed after making a tackle. Hamlin required CPR while on the field and was taken away via ambulance. Now reportedly in the aftermath of that scary incident, EA Sports is removing a celebration animation from Madden NFL 23 in which players mimic giving each other CPR.

Injuries happen in the NFL all the time. But during last week’s Monday Night Football game between the Bills and Bengals, Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest and needed oxygen and CPR on the field. After Hamlin was taken away by paramedics to be put on a breathing tube, players remaining on the field looked shaken up by the terrifying incident and the game was eventually postponed. Hamlin thankfully survived and is no longer in critical condition thanks in large part to the CPR he received on the field.

As reported by TMZ Sports and CBS, EA Sports is planning to remove the CPR touchdown animation from Madden NFL 23 soon following the incident with Hamlin. While EA didn’t say specifically when or why it was removing the animation, one can assume that the company has deemed it would be in poor taste to leave it in the game following such a horrific on-field injury that required actual medical personnel to use CPR to literally keep someone alive.

“EA Sports is taking steps to remove the celebration from Madden NFL 23 via an update in the coming days,” an EA Sports spokesperson told Kotaku.

Read More: Detroit Lions’ Jamaal Williams Defends Pokémon From Disrespect

The CPR celebration has been around for a long time, both in the Madden games and in the real world, usually used on players following a big play or touchdown. In fact, a few days after Hamlin was rushed off the field due to cardiac arrest, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith participated in a CPR celebration after sacking Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson in a game on January 8. The following day, Highsmith apologized about the celebration after fans called it “trashy” and “classless.”

“I just don’t want people to think of me that way and think I was doing anything [intentional],” Highsmith told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Because I would never, ever, ever, ever want to do that intentionally, and I never ever would do that.”


Wavebird 2.0 For The Nintendo Switch Promises To Be Drift-Free

A close-up of the Nyxi Wizard shows its Wavebird-like configuration.

Image: Nyxi

Like many others, the GameCube Wavebird was the first game controller I ever seriously loved. Everything that came before it was fine; at best a novelty, at worst an oversized pain, but mostly just a means to an end. Now there’s a new controller for the Nintendo Switch that looks exactly like a spiritual successor to the 2002 peripheral and claims to have none of the stick drift issues the Joy-Con have become notorious for.

“The Nyxi Wizard combines the retro appearance of our long-run NGC controller with a much more ergonomic design and works perfectly with any Nintendo Switch console,” Nyxi recently tweeted. The controller is on sale for $70, featuring replaceable joysticks and adjustable turbo and mapping options. But the real draw are the hall effect joysticks that use magnets to prevent drift.

As Chris Person points out at The Verge, Sega used this technology for the Sega Saturn 3D and Dreamcast controllers. By using parts that are less prone to wear, the sticks should last longer without succumbing to drift whereby the directional controls are engaged even when the stick is left in the resting position. As someone whose modern controllers only seem to last a couple years before the pin springs break down or the rubber starts to disappear, it’s an appealing proposition, and one 8bitdo and other speciality controller manufacturers are working on offering.

The Joy-Con’s issues are well known at this point. I’ve gone through three pairs in six years. There have been issues with the locking mechanisms on the sides and button springs, but the drift is the most infamous, resulting in lawsuits, regulatory investigations, and overworked repair centers. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Sony’s DualShock 4 and new PS5 DualSense haven’t worn well over the years either. My old Wavebird meanwhile? Still fine for a friendly game of Smash Bros. 

And that’s the other major appeal of the Nyxi Wizard: providing manufacturing polish to a nostalgic design that modders have been emulating for years now. While the look immediately conjures images of late night GameCube sessions, it also follows in the footsteps of a controller that would become the wave of the future, from the lack of wires to the offset joysticks. Almost exactly 20 years later, we’re still living in the future Nintendo’s Wavebird built.

Having not tried it yet, I have no idea if it will actually feel as good, or hold up as well, as the company boasts. But it is great to see the current renaissance in gamepad design continue to unfold.

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