Stay on target I’ll always appreciate what Telltale has done for the adventure game genre. Classics like Grim Fandango and Maniac Mansion have some of the funniest writing and thoughtful storytelling in a video game landscape more obsessed with dumb action. But they ruined their own flow and fun with frustrating arbitrary puzzles. Even a loving throwback to that era, Thimbleweed Park, was smart enough to make that design much smoother. But Telltale was brave enough to completely rethink the form.Founded by former LucasArts employees, Telltale Games initially made adventure games that followed in the old-school tradition. But its true breakout title, the 2012 debut season of the landmark episodic adventure game based on The Walking Dead, elegantly streamlined the genre into something enjoyable without qualifications.Not only it is the best piece of art based on the shambling zombie corpse of The Walking Dead franchise, but the way it turned narrative elements like dialogue choice and managing character relationships and branching storyline outcomes into gripping gameplay mechanics in their own right was revolutionary. It’s great for couples, too.However, even after adopting this rock-solid framework as its new path forward, Telltale’s post-Walking Dead output became shockingly spotty. Follow-up Walking Dead seasons failed to capture the original spark, especially since the main creatives left to form Campo Santo and develop Firewatch. Folks seem to generally like The Wolf of Among Us and Tales From the Borderlands, but games based on huge #brands like Minecraft and Game of Thrones and Guardians of the Galaxy seemed more interested in said #brands than in being good games.Imagine my surprise then that a modern Telltale game based on one of the biggest #brands around has now become the team’s strongest work since, well, Walking Dead season one. I’ve already talked at length about how the first season of Telltale’s take on Batman is great Caped Crusader comfort food. But The Walking Dead started strong as well, before running out of gas. However, now that I’ve finished the second season, Batman: The Enemy Within, it feels safe to say that Batman is now Telltale’s best franchise.Like the first season, Enemy Within takes advantage of just how much stellar stuff there is in the Batman mythos for storytellers to play with. Amanda Waller (voiced here by Debra Wilson) and the Suicide Squad. Lucius Fox’s whole family of tech geniuses. Catwoman’s ambiguity. Mr. Freeze’s tragedy. Jim Gordon and the less-than-stellar cops he has to work with. Alfred! Batman’s criminal alias Match Malone! (Even if he isn’t called that) Recent botched adaptations have made us forget this, but the core of Batman’s world is just so good from the start. One chef’s kiss of a dialogue prompt lets you to choose to passive aggressively grapple away instead of responding to the feds.The Enemy Within also somehow finds an original and compelling take on that most overexposed part of Bat-lore: The Joker. Following up on the first season, freed Arkham inmate and proto-Joker John Doe develops a creepy yet endearing friendship with both Batman and Bruce Wayne. But his needy yet violent nature leaves him torn between his obsession with Bruce and infatuation with a refreshingly take-charge version of Harley Quinn. And fulfilling the promise of Telltale’s branching narrative design ethos, the story can go in all sorts of directions subverting expectations of folks familiar with the comics and movies. The finale has two completely different potential takes on the Joker, villain or vigilante, even if bragging that the combined script is longer than the whole Dark Knight trilogy is a little much. Christian Bale Shares Cheeky Batsuit Advice for Robert PattinsonRobert Pattinson Describes Trying on the Batsuit for First Time Batman: The Enemy Within even manages to look and run way better than a typical Telltale game. The company gets a lot of flack for relying on increasingly old and broken and technology. The breakneck episodic release schedule makes it tough to re-examine something as fundamental as the underlying engine. But at least on PC where I played it, Enemy Within features significant visual upgrades compared to its predecessor released just a year previously.I’m still not entirely sure about the future of Telltale. After rapid expansion, late last year the developer laid off a significant amount of staff. Next up on the release calendar is the final season of The Walking Dead and sophomore seasons of Game of Thrones and The Wolf Among Us. But these two seasons of Batman, and teases for more (Justice League???), have reignited my interest in both this developer as well as this style of story-driven adventure game. Batman really is one of the World’s Finest.Purchase Batman: Telltale Series Season 1Purchase Batman: The Enemy WithinLet us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.
NASA Says 2 Asteroids Will Safely Fly By Earth This WeekendScientists Discover Possible Interstellar Visitor Stay on target During its recent approach to Jupiter, NASA space probe Juno snapped photos of swirling clouds above the gas giant’s south pole.And the results are stunning.Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran compiled the images—taken 15,379 miles above the cloud tops—into a psychedelic animation.Mathematician-cum-software professional, Eichstädt reprojected two JunoCam images to the same vantage point, showing the subtle motions within the atmosphere.“This animation represents a ‘feasibility test,’” Eichstädt said in a statement. “Building on this initial work, we can add in more variables that will give us a more detailed description and physical understanding of Jupiter’s atmosphere.”Together with Doran, the amateur scientists also created a composite image of Jupiter, the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar System.This composite image of Jupiter was taken as Juno swung away from Jupiter’s south pole following its closest approach to the planet in April 2018 (via NASA/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran)“It’s something of a labor of love that requires plenty of patience,” Doran said of the project. “Energetic particles impact the CCD [charge-coupled device] and produce bright specks. Once I’d finished the processing, I needed to go through and repair a couple hundred of these bright pixels.”Such amateur observations are “key” to astronomical research, according to Glenn Orton of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. While professional resources are often spread thin across various programs, hobbyists can help fill in the gaps.“Two years into the mission, we’ve seen some tremendous new science emerging from this collaboration, and breathtaking imagery of Jupiter’s complex atmosphere that would not have been possible without the talented army of citizen scientists who have been working alongside the JunoCam team every step of the way,” Orton said.Breathtaking, indeed: The animation looks like something Google’s DeepMind AI lab would generate (i.e. trippy, kaleidoscopic images reminiscent of abstract modern art).In April, scientists working on the Juno mission shared a 3D infrared movie showing nine raging twisters at the gas giant’s north pole.Data collected by the probe’s Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) tool can help scientists better understand the central cyclone and its eight surrounding windstorms. Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.