Super Mario Maker launches for the Wii U across Europe and North America this Friday, September 11. It’s one of the hottest games to hit the Wii U this year, and a limited edition of the title including an art book and 30th anniversary Mario Amiibo has encouraged a lot of pre-orders. However, pre-ordering the game through UK retailer GAME has ended in disaster.With the game being shipped out to reach our doormats on Friday, GAME started collecting the money for pre-orders yesterday. The problem is, a glitch in GAME’s system has seen individuals charged up to seven times even though they only pre-ordered one copy of the game. In a lot of cases this has seen bank accounts go overdrawn and bank fines triggered, costing customers even more money through no fault of their own.GAME is charging £33.99 ($52) for the Standard Edition or £46.99 ($72) for the Limited Edition. That means people are waking up to their bank accounts having had up to £328.93 ($500) taken. Ouch!GAME acknowledged there was a problem last night and apologized, but the multiple charges continued this morning. The only way to stop them is to cancel your pre-order, but by doing so you lose your copy of the game. If it’s the Limited Edition, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get it again. Presented with a choice of ongoing bank fines or ensuring a game arrives on Friday, many people will be forced to cancel their pre-order.For GAME, it’s generating a lot of negative PR, but they are also going to be facing claims for bank charges incurred because of this. They’ll have no choice but to pay all charges for their customers, and they need to do that quickly as well as issuing refunds ASAP.
As we had hoped, the sudden increase in competition in digital PC video game distribution services is forcing everyone involved to try out new things to lure in the biggest audience possible. And that works out great for us customers, with companies catering to our interests instead of the other way around. A couple of recent news stories together paint an interesting picture of what challengers are rising to the occasion and what monopolies are cracking apart.First, the Epic Games Store is continuing to use its Fortnite fortunes to throw everything at the wall to see what gets users to stick. The latest game that just announced surprise Epic Games Store launch exclusivity is Shakedown: Hawaii. I first remember seeing this tropical Vice City-esque 16-bit follow-up to the 8-bit Grand Theft Auto homage Retro City Rampage two years ago as part of the Nintendo Switch indie reveal. But hopefully this news means the long-delayed top-down open-world crime epic is actually committed to its spring 2019 release date.And if that’s not enough the Epic Games Store also continues to hands out free games like it’s nothing. For the next two weeks Slime Rancher, an apparently underrated game about finding and farming different types of goo, will be free on the service. After that, players can get the awesome indie teen horror game Oxenfree for nothing. Oxenfree of charge?AdChoices广告Meanwhile, classic games store Good Old Games just scored a coup of its own. You can now buy famous good old game Diablo on GOG.com for $10. This is the first time Blizzard’s original hellish RPG has been available digitally. You can’t even buy it on Blizzard’s own stores. But thanks to this GOG partnership you can now get loot and kill the devil like it’s 1996.You have to actually because outside of support for modern operating systems, the GOG release of the first Diablo mirrors the original version as closely as possible, including the charming but dated visuals. This isn’t a StarCraft remastered situation. This untouched experience might be exactly what you’re looking for though. Expect similar treatment for the classic Warcraft games Blizzard is also bringing soon to GOG. Hopefully this is the first step of the company’s escape from abusive parent Activision.Finally, in sadder and potentially triggering news (content warning: sexual assault) Valve finally responded to public outcry over the presence of controversial game Rape Day on Steam. And if the title isn’t a clue, this game is “controversial” in that it encourages players to sexually assault virtual women. Or rather it did before Valve removed it from Steam.It’s not sad this game is gone. It’s sad it was ever up for sale in the first place. It’s sad that Valve’s interpretation of “non-judgmental” developer freedom on its platform actually means harmful negligence and lack of oversight or moderation of any kind. In a blog post Valve said “After significant fact-finding and discussion, we think Rape Day poses unknown costs and risks and therefore won’t be on Steam” which is just another cowardly dodge of drawing any kind of ethical line in the sand for acceptable content. Reminds us of Twitter.For more on the ongoing PC games store drama catch up on what happened with Metro: Exodus and the potential censorship of this Taiwanese horror game. Stay on target Trade In Your Nintendo Switch For a Better Battery (With a Catch)Get Used to ‘Fortnite’s’ Powerful Mech Suits
The view from Belmond Copacabana Palace, in Rio de Janeiro, is truly unforgettable. But then the wedding-cake façade is uniquely memorable, too. Architect Joseph Gire based the hotel on the Carlton in Cannes and Le Negresco, in Nice. When it was built in 1923 it stood alone and proud on Copacabana Beach, but it attracted other buildings, and in 1970 Roberto Burle Marx tidied up the four-kilometre-long roadway in front, putting in thousands of black and white mosaic stones, in Portuguese style. Now what is called Avenida Atlantica is side-by-side hotels, says the gal, but it is still ‘the Copa’ that dominates. Over the years it has been so lovingly restored that apparently 11 shades of white are used on its exterior, both the six-floor original palace and, behind it, its 11-floor Tower annexe, added in 1948.Swimming Pool © Belmond Copacabana PalaceFor many guests the 30-metre pool, flanked by both buildings, is the heart of the hotel, and sunworshippers have their favourite chairs from the moment light dawns until early afternoon (those in the know apparently order pizzas, which are said to be outstanding, from the pool bar). This hotel, which has a total of 241 rooms, is beloved of so many. Roughly 20% of staying guests are repeats, and some of the most loyal have formed an unofficial Copa club, to fly in here from Amsterdam, Frankfurt, New York or Rome, or wherever, to party seriously, which they do twice a year. At the same time locals use it, for meals, for special events and just to network. I missed the 400-person wedding of television celebrity Isis Valverde who had met her now husband at a pool-side function. A photo gallery inside has 128 signed portraits of celebrity guests, the latest being Phil Collins. I did wonder who all the people were around me as I sat by the pool, under the awning of Pérgula, having a simple lunch, just a starter, a simply gorgeous whole burrata, its creamy centre oozing out in a most wicked way. It came with sautéed Mediterranean vegetables and a beetroot reduction, on a most attractive ceramic plate with its edges turned up. They do make basic ingredients look jolly good here.Apartamento Luxo Vista Mar – Deluxe Ocean View Room © Belmond Copacabana Palace Andrea Natal has been at this hotel for quite some time (a driver later told me he had worked with her at another hotel in town when she was 18). She looks ageless, in fact. Perhaps it is the Biologique Récherché in the spa or practising for the Carnaval. Every year, on the Saturday of Rio’s worldwide-famous extravaganza, she hosts the best party in town, for at least 1,500, and she dresses up with the best of them. She does actually admit that in another world she would like to have been an actor…She is certainly always creating (not the same as improvising – everything she does is well thought out).At the moment the hotel is about to start renovating the 400-seat tiered theatre that is part of the rear of the building. Also in creative mode, the the Copa is about to open a mammoth Gucci store, attached to the front of the hotel and opening on to Avenida Atlantica. This will replace the current H. Stern, which will relocate inside the main building (Ronaldo Stern, by the way, is married to travel advisor Carolina Perez).The recently renovated Restaurant Pergula © Belmond Copacabana Palace Renovations already finished include Pérgula, the all-day restaurant that offers inside and air-conditioned, or outdoor, poolside – the designer here is Muza Lab, no not Inge Moore, who did such a splendid job on Belmond’s Andean Explorer train, but one of her colleagues. They fortunately left in place Pérgula’s splendid local-view trompe l’oeil murals, done in 1997 by French artist Dominique Jardy, who also produced other similarly charming and stylized wall paintings for other public areas. One, for instance, now graces the lobby where the Concierge used to be – cleverly, the Concierge and Reception share a long counter the other side of the lobby. The former conciergiere is now a brilliant and highly successful AQUIM chocolate stall (Samantha Aquim uses cocoa from the Brazilian rainforest that are 50% up to 100% cocoa and her Q Collection is already available in Harrod’s in London). Next visit too, I will hope to dine once again at MEE, the Asian restaurant that is overseen by Ken Hom. And I have promised that I will do a Sugarloaf Mountain climb, going up to the 396m-tall peak – this is the peak, by the way, that appeared in the James Bond movie Moonraker. Perhaps if I do make it my photo might be added to the 128-strong rogues’, sorry VIPs’ gallery elegantly displayed in public areas… Already there is more to do here than ever before. The hotel always had Caloi bikes which it rented out for the beach circuit, along the length of Copacabana and back, over four kilometres. Now the surroundings are not quite literally but quite obviously littered with drop-anywhere bikes, sponsored by the financial giant Itau. I did not see any drop-anywhere electric scooters, thank goodness. The news that electric scooter startup Bird has been the fastest company ever to reach US$1 billion valuation is scary. The scooters are potentially dangerous and they need armies of workers to find them, wherever they have been dropped, and charge them every night. No, on this trip to this vibrant city I was happy merely walking along Avenida Atlantica and seeing the sights, whether human or weirdly artistic. As always there were opportunists building elaborate sandcastles in the hope of a few bills, especially greenbacks, fluttering their way.Here is a hint before leaving town. First, allow at least 90 minutes to get to the airport, any time of day. Next, American Airlines’ airside lounge is one of the most gracious anywhere, with super food and a good choice of wines, all served in full-size Chef&Sommelier glasses. And yes, even though I ate, and drank, superbly at the unforgettable Belmond Copacabana Palace, I, like many, was still a little peckish when we got to the airport. My lasting memory, however, is of Andrea Natal miraculously appearing by front desk to say farewell. Now THAT is one of the signs of a true luxury innkeeper. Go back to the enewsletter Go back to the enewsletter