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Super Mario Odyssey can be summed up in a few words: fun, delight, inventiveness. It earned a rare perfect 10 in the WIRED review, and it seems players have agreed on its merits – it’s instantly become the fastest-selling Super Mario game in Europe, ever.

To really understand what makes the game such a joy though – and as an excuse to use some of the captures we’ve taken using Odyssey’s addictive photo mode – requires examining some of the most impressive, charming, and heartfelt moments Nintendo has worked into this modern masterpiece.

If you’re still working your way through Mario’s globe-trotting adventure with his new pal Cappy, be warned though – spoilers lay ahead!


Super Mario Odyssey may be a trek around Mario’s world, but it’s also a journey through his past. The game is packed with nods and references to previous games, sometimes even remixing elements. For instance, graffiti of Cat Mario and Cat Peach from Super Mario 3D World can be found dotted around the worlds, but rendered in pixel art form representative of Mario’s earliest 8bit outings. His 2D roots get a regular homage too, in the form of sections where warp pipes can lead to flat platforming sections built into the very walls of the 3D world. A particularly nice touch is seeing these 2D retro-style Marios all rendered in whatever costume you may have Mario wearing in 3D


Nowhere is Mario’s heritage more evident than in New Donk City, the central area of the Metro Kingdom. Not only is the city run by Mayor Pauline – Mario’s first girlfriend, from his barrel-hopping, giant ape-stomping days – but the end of that area’s local storyline culminates in a festival reimagining the original Donky Kong game as a sprawling, gravity flipping mega-level wrapped around the three-dimensional buildings of New Donk. With Pauline and her band belting out Jump Up, Superstar, the signature song of Super Mario Odyssey, it’s a joyous experience that never fails to bring a smile to your face.

Really Surreal


One of the most surprising aspects of Odyssey is how it flirts with reality in a way the series has never really done before. New Donk City itself really brings this home, a sprawling metropolis full of realistic buildings and cabs, populated by humans without exaggerated proportions, all wearing formal business attire. It gives the whole place a sort of 1940s vibe, completely at odds with the colourful worlds Mario usually visits, but in doing so delivers something entirely new. My personal theory is that New Donk City is, decades later, Nintendo’s gentle rebuttal to the (dreadful) Super Mario Bros. movie, showing how the realistic and the animated can co-exist.


Perhaps realism is the wrong term though, and it’s Odyssey’s level of detail, and the juxtaposition it creates against Mario’s cartoonish frame, that really makes the game pop. A battle with a gargantuan lightning dragon in a kingdom that looks like a Dark Souls side project is hardly ‘realistic’, after all. Yet with the dragon’s individually detailed scales rain-slick and glistening from the storm you fight under, and its malevolent eyes that follow you around even after you’ve defeated it, it creates an experience unrivalled in other Super Mario games, and one all the more striking for its contrast.

Bitter Bosses

If there’s one criticism that can be levelled at Super Mario Odyssey, it’s that it’s a bit too easy. While none of its bosses will prove particularly challenging, that doesn’t take away from their sheer inventiveness. From defeating giant Aztec-styled godhead Knucklotec by capturing his own rocket-propelled stone fists and punching him in the face to swimming up Cookatiel’s streams of pink lava-vomit as a living fireball, each fight brings a new way of thinking about the game and its mechanics.


One of the best examples is the final (story-driven, at least) battle against Bowser’s new rabbitoid minions, the Broodals. Having pestered you throughout the game one-on-one, they eventually team up to pilot a giant Broodal Bot. Unfortunately, they built it out of wood, and Mario can possess Pokio – a sort of woodpecker that can use its long beak as a pole to fling itself up wooden surfaces. It’s one of the trickier battles too, making it a nice test of players skills while offering a unique solution.

Super Mario Dogessey


There are tons of dogs flitting about Odyssey’s kingdoms, even in the most unlikely places. Just like Mario, these adorable Shiba Inu puppers roam around wearing a variety of hats. They think they’re people! Canine sartorial choices are adorable enough, but one of the game’s best elements is that you can play with these dogs, mostly for no greater reason than “just because”.


Some will go digging, tracking down buried Power Moons for you to ground pound to the surface, but they’ll also just follow you around being playful. You can even play fetch with them, throwing Cappy for them to bring back. The doggos are the sort of added detail that Nintendo does so well – no real impact on gameplay, totally missable if you’re not looking, but a real delight if you take the time to stop and notice them.

Dino Crisis


You’ll first encounter one of Super Mario Odyssey’s disturbingly realistic Tyrannosaurus Rexes in the Cascade Kingdom, taking a nap in the sun and primed for you to take control of with Cappy – with a satisfying roar of power the first time you do. A more sinister encounter awaits in the Wooded Kingdom, where one lurks in the murky depths of the dense forest, attacking unsuspecting travellers. Any time you cross paths with one of these mighty beasts is a thrill, and Nintendo gets the balance just right – common enough encounters to please, not so many you become bored.


By far the best use of the terrible lizard king though comes in a Power Moon mission in the Metro Kingdom. Riding a scooter, Mario has to outrun a ferocious T-rex, swerving out of its hungry, snarling jaws, all while making daredevil bike jumps to collect coins along the way. Of course, just as the residents of New Donk City are decked out in 1940s era attire, so to is the T-rex dressed for the setting – with a pair of oversized period aviator goggles, of course. Why pilot attire for the famously stubby-armed dinosaurs? No idea, but it’s a brilliantly surreal touch to one of the best Power Moon challenges in the game.

Buds with Bowser


Are Mario and Bowser really arch enemies? Sure, Mario and Cappy spend the majority of Odyssey chasing the Koopa king after he kidnaps Peach and tries to force a wedding on her, but in the end, there are some hints the pair have a begrudging friendship. After their climactic throwdown, everything is literally falling apart. Mario could have left Bowser behind as he makes an escape with Peach but instead captures Bowser, using his immense physical power to escort all three of them to safety.


Later, when Peach rejects a marriage proposal from both Mario and Bowser – simultaneously adding credence to the long-running fan theory that she’s actually dating both of them – Mario even consoles a despondent Bowser. Terrifying, fire-breathing turtle demons covered in spikes have hearts to break, and Mario is there for him. Mario, Bowser – let the healing begin.

Gone Home

Along Mario and Cappy’s journey, you’ll find paintings hidden around the kingdoms. Not just another nod to the Super Mario series’ history – reminiscent of the paintings in Peach’s Castle in Super Mario 64, which lead to each level – in Odyssey they serve as links between realms. Each one leads to a remote area in another kingdom, with a Power Moon reward waiting for having found them.

One is truly special though. Without any indication through the majority of the game that the Mushroom Kingdom was ever going to be featured – much of Odyssey takes after Super Mario Sunshine, with new locations and creatures to uncover – you can find a painting portal in the Luncheon Kingdom that leads you there early. You can’t explore at this point, with the portal popping you out on a remote island (home to a certain other dinosaur-type creature in Mario’s life) but it’s a tantalising peek at what awaits you in the end-game content.


When you finally get to the Mushroom Kingdom proper, another treat awaits. Sat in an egg on top of Peach’s Castle awaits Yoshi. In gameplay terms, Yoshi’s there to gobble up apples, earning you another three Power Moons, but Nintendo went the extra mile with the character’s inclusion, letting you capture and control the friendly dino.

As Mario-Yoshi, you have access to the familiar flutter-jump, as well as a new way of climbing walls and trees using Yoshi’s extendable tongue. Just running aroung the Mushroom Kingdom like this is a joy, but also helps grab a few more Power Moons by using Yoshi’s specific skills to complete some trickier platforming challenges. A lovely nod to a fan-favourite character.

No end in sight


Best of all, Super Mario Odyssey keeps on giving. After taking you around the world and beyond, delivering a bevy of incredible experiences along the way, there’s still more to do once you’ve interrupted Bowser and Peach’s wedding. Even after Mario delivers a heart-melting “Thank you for playing my game!” at story’s end, there are friends to revisit and new challenges to complete. Even Better, with Bowser’s threat once again (temporarily) contained, all the weird and wonderful people you’ve met along the way start visiting each other’s kingdoms, leading to wonderful moments like the one above.


The pinnacle may just be reaching the Darker Side of the moon, where almost everyone you’ve met is having a party in space, praising your efforts and urging you on to greater challenges still hidden. With Pauline and her band rocking out again, it’s a beautiful coda to the game – and possibly not even the last secret it holds.


A lover of all things tech, love all things that uses creative juices (not an innuendo) an avid blogger and part time vlogger, now stop reading and go check out some awesome posts on this site.

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Facebook personal data use and privacy settings ruled illegal by German court | Technology



The court found that Facebook collects and uses personal data without providing enough information to its members for them to render meaningful consent.
Photograph: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook’s default privacy settings and use of personal data are against German consumer law, according to a judgement handed down by a Berlin regional court.

The court found that Facebook collects and uses personal data without providing enough information to its members for them to render meaningful consent. The federation of German consumer organisations (VZBV), which brought the suit, argued that Facebook opted users in to features which it should not have.

Heiko Duenkel, litigation policy officer at the VZBV, said: “Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy friendly in its privacy centre and does not provide sufficient information about it when users register. This does not meet the requirement for informed consent.”

In a statement, VZBV elaborated on some of its issues: “In the Facebook app for smartphones, for example, a location service was pre-activated that reveals a user’s location to people they are chatting to.

“In the privacy settings, ticks were already placed in boxes that allowed search engines to link to the user’s timeline. This meant that anyone could quickly and easily find personal Facebook profiles.”

The Berlin court agreed with VZBV that the five default settings the group had complained about were invalid as declarations of consent. The German language judgment was handed down in mid-January, but only publicly revealed on Monday.

The court also ruled eight clauses in Facebook’s terms of service to be invalid, including terms that allow Facebook to transmit data to the US and use personal data for commercial purposes. The company’s “authentic name” policy – a revision of a rule that once required users to use their “real names” on the site, but which now allows them to use any names they are widely known by – was also ruled unlawful.

In a statement, Facebook said it would appeal, adding: “We are working hard to ensure that our guidelines are clear and easy to understand, and that the services offered by Facebook are in full accordance with the law.”

A week after the Berlin court ruled against Facebook, the social network promised to radically overhaul its privacy settings, saying the work would prepare it for the introduction in Europe of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a sweeping set of laws governing data use across the EU.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, announced the changes, saying they would “put the core privacy settings for Facebook in one place and make it much easier for people to manage their data”.

The European Union’s new stronger, unified data protection laws, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), will come into force on 25 May 2018, after more than six years in the making.

GDPR will replace the current patchwork of national data protection laws, give data regulators greater powers to fine, make it easier for companies with a “one-stop-shop” for operating across the whole of the EU, and create a new pan-European data regulator called the European Data Protection Board.

The new laws govern the processing and storage of EU citizens’ data, both that given to and observed by companies about people, whether or not the company has operations in the EU. They state that data protection should be both by design and default in any operation.

GDPR will refine and enshrine the “right to be forgotten” laws as the “right to erasure”, and give EU citizens the right to data portability, meaning they can take data from one organisation and give it to another. It will also bolster the requirement for explicit and informed consent before data is processed, and ensure that it can be withdrawn at any time.

To ensure companies comply, GDPR also gives data regulators the power to fine up to €20m or 4% of annual global turnover, which is several orders of magnitude larger than previous possible fines. Data breaches must be reported within 72 hours to a data regulator, and affected individuals must be notified unless the data stolen is unreadable, ie strongly encrypted.

Facebook has faced repeated attacks from European regulators, particularly those in Germany, over issues ranging from perceived anti-competitive practices to alleged misuse of customer data.

Since March 2016, the company has been investigated by the German Federal Cartel Office over allegations it breaches data protection law in order to support an unfair monopoly. In an interim update in December last year, the office said that it objected to the way Facebook gains access to third-party data when an account is opened. This includes transferring information from its own WhatsApp and Instagram products – as well as how it tracks which sites its users access.

In October, Facebook was the target of an EU-wide investigation over a similar issue. The Article 29 Working Party (WP29), which oversees data regulation issues across the European Union, launched a taskforce to examine the sharing of user data between WhatsApp and Facebook, which it says does not have sufficient user consent. When the data sharing feature was first announced in 2016, the group warned Facebook that it may not be legal under European law, prompting the company to pause the data transfer until a resolution was found.

“Whilst the WP29 notes there is a balance to be struck between presenting the user with too much information and not enough, the initial screen made no mention at all of the key information users needed to make an informed choice, namely that clicking the agree button would result in their personal data being shared with the Facebook family of companies,” the group told WhatsApp in October.

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Samsung S9 vs iPhone X vs Pixel 2: which one should you buy?



In the last five months, three of the most well-known smartphone manufacturers – Apple, Samsung and Google – have announced new flagship devices. Google led the pack in October with the release of its Pixel 2, with Apple following a month later with the iPhone X. Now Samsung has revealed its own hand with the announcement of the Galaxy S9 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

There’s not a great deal separating these devices at the top-end of the smartphone market, although each device has its own strengths and weaknesses in different areas. So to help you work out the best device for your own needs, we’ve put together a guide to how they compare.


The Pixel 2 has a five-inch 1080p AMOLED display with a chunky bezel at the top and bottom of the screen. This is the smallest screen of the three flagships, which is to be expected since it has the smallest overall footprint too, but it does feel a little squeezed compared to the other two phones. Flip the Pixel 2 over and you’ll find some models have a contrast colour scheme on the back, with the top section of the phone a slightly different shade to the rest of the back. Whether this rocks your boat is down to personal preference, but its a nice touch of personality that is sometimes missing from these top-tier devices.


Enter the Samsung Galaxy S9. Its 5.8-inch Quad HD AMOLED screen takes up almost all of the front of the device, leaving just a narrow strip of bezel at either end. At either side, the screen gently curves around the sides of the device, blending neatly into the rear. On the back of the phone, the fingerprint scanner has been shifted to sit directly beneath the camera. Compared to the Pixel 2, the S9 is a much slicker-looking device, all smooth curves and shiny glass, that fits much more screen into a similarly-sized device. It’s also the only of these devices to have a 3.5 mm headphone jack, so if you’re still fully wired up, this is the phone for you.

Dimensions compared

The iPhone X also has a 5.8-inch, screen even though the device as a whole is a tad smaller than the S9. And as is the case with the S9, the iPhone X screen fills almost the entire of the front of the device, save for the notorious notch that takes a chunk out at the very top. There’s no fingerprint scanner on the iPhone X, since Apple decided to go all-in on Face ID with this model, and some people might find it more inconvenient using their face to verify payments or unlock the device instead of a finger, so that’s worth bearing in mind if you’re picking between the devices.


All three of these phones have extremely capable cameras, so picking between them again comes down to a matter of personal taste. The single-lens 12.2 megapixel rear-facing camera on the Pixel 2 has an aperture with an f-stop of 1.8, which makes it particularly well-suited to photography in low-light conditions – and recent software updates have given the camera another boost. Aside from its snapping skills, Google has integrated some machine learning smarts into its camera so you can point its at an object in the real world and use Google Assistant to identify it and bring up relevant information.


Since it’s only just been announced, the jury is still out on the Galaxy S9 camera, although initial indications are that Samsung has managed to set a new high when it comes to smartphone cameras. Like the Pixel 2, the main S9 camera also has one lens, and a 12 megapixel sensor, but the S9 has another trick up its sleeve. A variable aperture feature widens up the camera’s f-stop in low light conditions, letting in way more light than most smartphone cameras are able to capture in relative darkness. In normal light conditions, the camera automatically switches to a more conventional f-stop for better focussing. The ability to record slow-mo at 960 fps is a nice too, too.

Cameras compared

The iPhone X also has a 12 megapixel sensor, but this one is a part of a dual-lens setup, with one wide-angle lens paired with a telephoto lens for photos with plenty of Instagram-friendly bokeh. Dual optical image stabilisation smooths out videos taken in bumpy circumstances while the X’s quad-LED flash is supposed to smoothly light backgrounds and foregrounds without washing subjects out.


There’s not an awful lot between these phones when it comes to their insides. The S9 and Pixel 2 both have super-fast eight-core processors, while the X’s six-core processor is more than capable of powering everything the phone can do. If plenty of storage capacity is a must, then the S9 has a Micro SD slot that can fit in up to a 400 GB SD card, while the Pixel and the X both max out at 256 GB. When it comes to battery, however, the S9 leads the pack with its 3,00mAh battery, while the X’s battery weighs in at 2716mAh and the Pixel 2 at 2,700. All should last a day of mixed use.


If you’re in the market for a new phone and only the best will do, then you’ve got a tough decision ahead of you. In terms of specs, these phones are more or less on par with each other, but if a big screen is a must then you can rule out the Pixel 2 and decide between the other contenders. Photos are more subjective, and each of these phones will hardly disappoint in the camera department, so it’s worth taking the time to get hands-on with these devices and take a few test shots to decide which one is really ticking your boxes. Whichever you chose, you can’t go far wrong.

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