STACK #228 October 2023

With spring in the air, it’s time to get out about, and we’ve rounded up all the portable tech you shouldn’t leave home without – from smartwatches, to cameras, drones, Bluetooth speakers, electric scooters and a whole lot more. You’ll also be left looking and feeling fabulous with our deep dive into the latest beauty and wellbeing tech.




ISSUE 228 OCT ’23

STACK Issue 228 OCTOBER 2023 “Time to go boom, boys!”

© 2023 MARVEL © 2023 Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC. Developed by Insomniac Games, Inc. “PlayStation, “PlayStation Studios Logo”, “PS5” and “Play Has No Limits” are registered trademarks or trademarks of Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc.



ISSUE 228 OCT ’23

ISSUE 228 OCT ’23




© 2023 Paramount Pictures. Hasbro, Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro. © 2023 Hasbro





PERKS see inside for details

PRO X SUPERLIGHT 2 LIGHTSPEED ™ GAMING MOUSE • Superlight 60g with LIGHTSPEED ™ Wireless • LIGHTFORCE hybrid switches and HERO 2 sensor • 95 hr battery life and USB-C rechargeable • POWERPLAY compatible

PRO X 2 LIGHTSPEED ™ GAMING HEADSET • Three ways to connect with LIGHTSPEED ™ Wireless, Bluetooth ® or 3.5mm • 50mm Graphene drivers Produces greater sensitivity, enhanced frequency response and lower distortion • 50hr battery life and a wireless connection of 30m • Swappable earpads in leatherette and velour.

PRO X TKL LIGHTSPEED ™ MECHANICAL GAMING KEYBOARD • Three ways to connect with LIGHTSPEED ™ wireless, Bluetooth ® or USB. • Easily connect your supported mouse and keyboard with a single dongle • Programmable keys • RGB lighting with LIGHTSYNC




LITRA BEAM LX Dual-sided RGB Streaming Key Light • Dual sided light, with key light at the front and LIGHTSYNC RGB at the back • TRUESOFT tech for cinematic colour accuracy • Bluetooth ® wireless control • Control with G HUB

YETI GX Dynamic RGB Gaming Mic • Dynamic mic capsule technology helps reject room noise, key clicks and other distractions for a crisp stream • Supercardioid pick up pattern is focused on your voice and not the room • USB plug and play • Two RGB zones with LIGHTSYNC • Control with G HUB


• Condenser mic capsule with cardioid pattern optimised for game streaming by capturing voice input but not key clicks

• USB plug and play • LIGHTSYNC RGB • Control with G HUB



ISSUE 228 OCT 2023

GAMING 5 Take 5/Game changers! 6 Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 8 Forza Motorsport 10 Assassin’s Creed Mirage 12 EA Sports UFC 5 14 MSI gaming laptops 16 Super Mario Bros. Wonder 18 Out this month 20 Fast forward/Q5/Wham, bam, game exam! MOVIES & TV 22 Intro/Take 5 23 Merch of the Month/Charts 24 Transformers Roll Out 26 Back to the Further - Insidious: The Red Door 28 Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story 30 Talk to Me / The Cost 32 The latest on 4K: Horror for Halloween 34 New from Imprint Films 36 Out this month TECH 38 Intro 40 Outdoor tech buying checklist 42 Staying connected when out and about 44-46 Keep on track with a smartwatch 48 Capture the moment with a digital camera 50 Dash cams and content creator gear 52 Level up with an action camera 54 Take to the skies with a compact drone 56-58 Electric scooters are your ticket to ride 60 Earbud essentials 62 Mobile music with a Bluetooth speaker 64 Does the UE Epicboom shake the room? 66 Move it, move it with the Sonos Move 2 68 Portable cinema and power banks 70 Stay in charge with a portable power station 72-76 Pamper yourself with the new beauty and wellness tech 78 New tech at JB MUSIC FLIP MAG AND READ FROM BACK 4-10 The Music Room: Chats with Angie McMahon, Diesel and more 12-13 Cover feature: Diamonds Are The Stones’ Best Friends 14 Lifting the Lid: John Farnham’s Age of Reason (1988) 16 Album reviews 18 Vital Vinyl 19 This Month @ JB


How many hours did you lose to Spider-Man back in 2018? A platform-defining game, the PlayStation exclusive combined an expansive open world with excellent gameplay elements, backed with a compelling story. It was a title that kept on giving, and the good news is the follow-up, Spider-Man 2 , releases in October, and we caught up with senior creative director Bryan Intihar to get the inside word. The perennial Rolling Stones unleash their first long player in 18 years this month. Called Hackney Diamonds after old East London slang for glass from broken car windows (“It’s a London band,” said Mick Jagger in the press conference reveal), the album features an array of A-List cameos from Paul McCartney and Elton John to Lady Gaga and Stevie Wonder, and we peruse the history of the Rolling Stones’ friendship (or foeship!) with each of these guest artists. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts leads October’s movie line-up, and there’s more than meets the eye to this sequel to Bumblebee , which introduces the Beast Wars sub franchise to the series and pays homage to the Saturday morning cartoons of old. October also brings Halloween, and horror fans are well served with new releases like Talk to Me and Insidious: The Red Door , plus a range of classics hitting 4K. And with spring in the air, it’s time to get out about, and we’ve rounded up all the portable tech you shouldn’t leave home without – from electric scooters and smartwatches, to cameras, drones, Bluetooth speakers and a whole lot more. You’ll also be left looking and feeling fabulous with our deep dive into the latest beauty and wellbeing tech. Paul Jones, Editor-in-Chief

Founder Nic Short Editor-in-Chief Paul Jones Tech Editor Scott Hocking Music Editor Zoë Radas

Music Consultant Mike Glynn Marketing Manager Fleur Parker

Social Media Manager Glenn Cochrane Production Manager Craig Patterson Correspondence STACK

Chief Contributors Gill Pringle, Bob Jones Contributors Bryget Chrisfield, Jeff Jenkins,

Games & Online Editor Amy Flower Movie & TV Editor Glenn Cochrane Creative Director Gary Siewert Movies Consultant Kerrie Taylor Games Consultant Sachi Fernando

Simon Lukic, Billy Pinnell, Denise Hylands, Simon Winkler, Jake Cleland, Holly Pereira, Adam Colby, Bec Summer, Dan Nicholson, Alex Deutrom, Michael Irving, Jacqui Picone


Parental guidance recommended

Recommended for mature audiences

Not suitable for people under 15. Under 15s must be accommpanied by a parent or adult guardian

Restricted to 18 and over


Disclaimer STACK is published by Scribal Custom Pty Ltd (ACN 092 362 135). © Copyright Scribal Custom Pty Ltd, 2023 All rights reserved. All material appearing in this publication is copyright unless otherwise stated or it may rest with the provider of the supplied material or advertisement. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of Scribal Custom Pty Ltd. No responsibility is accepted for accuracy of advertisements or information. Whilst care has been taken in the research and preparation of this publication, the publishers, writers or anyone else associated cannot accept any responsibility for any loss, injury or hardship arising from the content contained herein or reliance therefrom, howsoever caused, and it remains your responsibility to evaluate the accuracy, completeness and usefulness of any such content. Views expressed are not necessarily endorsed by the publisher or the editor. By the very nature of this publication, things change daily and we cannot take responsibility for any changes or inaccuracies that occur subsequent to going to press.

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What’s your all-time favourite game or game series?

Jak and Daxter needs to make a comeback! I need a remastered trilogy on PS5 for sure!




What have you been playing lately?

What’s the best thing about working in games at JB?

I’ve been playing an incredible amount of Valorant recently. I played a bunch when it first launched, then I dropped off, but I just recently got back into it and the VCT matches.

2 NBA 2K24

Getting the chance to talk to people from so many different walks of life. Everyone has their own genre preference and personal taste in hardware; I enjoy hearing everyone’s experiences.



You can only have one games console from any era – what would it be and why?


What’s your earliest video gaming memory?

Definitely a Nintendo 64! A few friends had them when we were growing up, but I never had one. My parents were awesomely OK with my gaming hobbies, so I had handheld Nintendo systems and Sony PlayStations (which I was very thankful for, and I still have them!), but never a Nintendo home console.

I remember when I was really little, Dad owned an IT business specialising in Macintosh. We had an old iMac as the family computer, and I would play Future Cop: LAPD all the time. Pokémon Blue was earlier, so I probably played that way beforehand!



Super Mario – Mushroom Plush




Sonic the Hedgehog Plush

Super Mario – Goomba Plush


Cuddle your favourite game characters with these fab SEGA and Nintendo plushies!

Super Mario – Chomp Plush

Kirby Mega Heart Plush


GAME CHANGERS! A YEAR IN GAMING It was an exciting new handheld time, as Nintendo stuck with their successful two-screen formula, while PlayStation kept with one. Meanwhile, there was a new type of game in town that brought a whole lot of toys to our gaming spaces…

Nintendo’s first foray into 3D in the Virtual Boy may have flopped, but they certainly got it right with the handheld 3DS. Hitting Aussie shores – and stores – in March, only a month after its native Japan, it took all that was great with the twin-screen DS and enhanced it. The most obvious addition was, of course, stereoscopic 3D, which worked without the need for special glasses. This was engaged via a slider, so could be completely turned off, which meant

Skylanders, which went on to become the most successful “toys to life” franchise, launched with a familiar face. Reportedly created with an aim to inject new life into the Spyro the Dragon franchise, Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure combined a classic 3D good vs. evil action platformer game with a “Portal of Power” – a physical, USB-powered base – upon which any of 32 real-world figurines and accessories could be

As the successor to the PlayStation Portable, the PS Vita launched in Japan just in time for Christmas – and we only had to wait until February 2012 to get our eager paws on it. Bigger than its predecessor without being unwieldy, the Vita boasted a crisp, five-inch OLED touchscreen, and connectivity options included Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and even 3G. Many high-profile PlayStation properties made their way onto the system, and indie developers took to it with gusto. Ultimately, however, Sony weren’t happy with sales, although it has since

placed, at which time they’d burst into life in-game. A smash at launch, many sequels – and extra figurines – followed before it sadly all petered out a few years later.

anybody could use it as their portable games machine of choice. A huge success, over 75 million 3DS units were sold.

become a cult favourite with gamers.




Intihar was happy to offer this top

tip for budding Spideys in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 : “Mastering when to swing and when to pop those Web Wings will open up the door to some absolutely amazing traversal moments through this expanded Big Apple.”

the story more mature, delivering a story with the heart and humour that our studio is known for is also just as essential to this Spider-Man experience," he says. As we now know, the ‘2’ in the title isn’t just because this is a sequel – we can also play as two Spider-Men. So, how will this work? “The main story will feature missions where you play as Pete, Miles, and sometimes as both,” Intihar explains. “As you explore the open world, there’ll be activities that either Spider-Hero can participate in, while others will be crafted around one particular hero.” The New York City that we get to swing about has expanded this time out, too. As well as new areas to investigate, there are new ways for our Spider-Men to get around. Intihar tells us more… “While the addition of Brooklyn and Queens opens up new possibilities for storylines and activities, it’s also opened the door to new traversal mechanics like using the Web Wings to quickly get across the world. By chaining together Spider-Man’s various abilities through the Web Wings, and web-swinging, traversal feels even more enhanced, faster, and more satisfying than ever before.”

You could visit the Ghostbusters firehouse in the original Marvel’s Spider-Man . DYK?

It’s time, Spider-fans! Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 hits the PlayStation 5 this month, so we caught up with Bryan Intihar, senior creative director on the game at Insomniac, to get more of an idea of what to expect from this latest Spidey outing. Words Amy Flower

I nsomniac’s first Spider-Man game, and the follow-up Miles Morales , are hard acts to follow. However, Intihar tells us that the team were well prepared when approaching this sequel. “Ever since Marvel’s Spider-Man , we’ve always tried to follow the mantra of ‘Respect the DNA of the franchise, but don’t be afraid to mix things up’. So, whether it came to the story we were developing, the additions to combat and traversal, or even how we wanted the open world experience to feel, we let that mantra guide our decision making.” With a new game comes a new story and, as

Intihar tells us, this one brings us double the Spider-Man fun. “The Spider-duo of Peter Parker and Miles Morales must work as a team – while also juggling their lives outside of the mask – to protect the city from all-new threats.” These threats include some serious big bads for us to face off against, too. “ Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 will feature a number of new adversaries that will make their debut here,” teases Intihar. “That includes the likes of the Lizard, the world’s greatest hunter in Kraven, and, of course, Venom – and many others. As you can probably imagine, we’ve had a lot of fun exploring the symbiote and how it ties into such a popular Marvel character.” We’re promised an outing that will be darker than Marvel’s Spider-Man , however Intihar

As a PlayStation 5 exclusive title, the Insomniac team have been able to harness the system’s incredible power to bring us more seamless gameplay than ever before in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 . “From being able to deliver a Marvel experience that stars not just one but two Spider-Heroes with all-new combat and much faster traversal speeds, to fully immersive city soundscapes, to our all-new open world hero switching and fast-travel mechanics, it’s been really exciting to develop Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 with the PS5’s features in mind,” Intihar enthuses.

assures us that all the reasons why we fell for the franchise in the first place will still be there to enjoy. “While characters like Kraven and Venom are naturally going to make

• Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is out Oct 20






Esaki offered this top advice for those new to the art of racing: “You’ve got to go slow to be fast. Or more to the point – slow in, fast out. Use the driving line feature and pay attention to when it goes red as you approach a corner. Brake before you go into a corner, coast through it, and then accelerate as you come out of it. Go in slow, and you will come out of a corner fast.”

Car fans have waited six years for a new entry in the Forza Motorsport series, and it’s finally with us this month. We chatted with Chris Esaki, creative director at developer Turn 10, about just some of what we have to look forward to. Words Amy Flower A s well as a longer wait than usual, the series receives a naming reset to Forza Motorsport . Unsurprisingly, there’s good START YOUR ENGINES …

Motorsport is no exception, but it’s being used to enhance our racing experience. “There are two components at play with how AI controlled cars get around a track in Forza Motorsport : the AI controller, and the driving line,” muses Esaki. “The AI controller is how the game uses throttle, brake, and steering inputs to move a car around the track. The driving line is the path that the AI controller follows. To create AI opponents as fast as the fastest human drivers, we had to do it without any cheats, hacks, or rubber banding. These often cause racing incidents for players and unrealistic competition. We also needed to reduce aggressive driving behaviour to ensure cleaner, more competitive racing. Therefore, in Forza Motorsport we have evolved the Drivatar system to use machine learning. It no longer replicates the driving behaviour of your friends; however, it still pulls in their cars, drivers, and customisations." This new model of Forza Motorsport sees the arrival of an all-new career mode. “Builders Cup Career Mode is the car building focused single-player campaign in Forza Motorsport ,” Esaki enthuses. “It’s a spiritual successor to our community favourite career modes from Forza Motorsport 3 and 4 . It takes the magic of what made those games so special, modernises it and genre-blends it with RPG progression. We like to think of it as a ‘CarPG’, with three core pillars: competition, car progression, and car building. Many features in the Builders Cup are totally new to Forza Motorsport and include Open Practice, Track Mastery, Challenge the Grid and more.” The most important piece of the racing game puzzle? The cars, and tracks! “ Forza Motorsport will launch with 20 completely rebuilt tracks from around the world with multiple layouts, including five never before-seen tracks in a Forza Motorsport game,” says Esaki. “Each feature is fully dynamic within time-of-day, with weather, living crowds, and tracks that react to temperature changes. As for the cars, Forza Motorsport starts with over 500 at release. We’re proud to have partnered with General Motors on the cover cars, given Cadillac and Corvette’s rich history of racing and commitment to performance.”

• Forza Motorsport is out Oct 10

reason why Turn 10 did this. “We used an extended concept and pre production period to rethink and redevelop the core of what a Forza Motorsport game is,” Esaki tells us. “We focused tightly on our vision of falling in love with cars through competition and skill, and developed the game with the key innovations and features in mind that would support that vision. The end result is inherently different than what the new numbered Motorsport game would have been, with everything in the game laddering up to our central vision for the game.” Having a new generation of console to play with means improvements across the board, with none more noticeable than in the graphics department. A lot of effort – and tech – went into bringing more shininess, and more realism to all facets of Forza Motorsport . “We’ve made improvements to how the cars look by using a spectrophotometer, which captures multiple data points of light behaviour on a surface,” Esaki explains. “With this new sourcing technique, our paint models have a more realistic light response across colours, metal flake, and gloss levels. Cars now have context-aware damage and dirt build-up

will start with 20 environments featuring multiple track layouts. Because of the level of detail that went into the tracks through photogrammetry and laser scanned images, the team was able to depict ten times more realistic detail, including highly detailed vegetation and overgrowth. With all the

cutting-edge visuals, including tens of thousands of fully animated 3D spectators, each player will feel immersed in the spectacle of racing.” AI is everywhere, and Forza

that is authentic and unique to each vehicle, gathering more in the low pressure areas like recesses and alcoves. “In addition, Forza Motorsport

Free cars and tracks will be added to Forza Motorsport post-release. DYK?






Assassin’s Creed Mirage features a nice surprise for longtime fans – there’s a nostalgic visual filter option, for those who wish to explore the game with the blue-grey colour palette from the original Assassin’s Creed .

The Assassin’s Creed series returns this month, going back to its roots as we inhabit a young, ninth-century Baghdad street-thief named Basim in Assassin’s Creed Mirage . The game's creative director Stéphane Boudon and senior game designer Marco Maresca at Ubisoft Bordeaux tell us more about what to expect from the experience. Words Bec Summer SNEAK SOFTLY AND CARRY A BIG STICK

Eivor was, and to give that feeling we worked out animations to reinforce the sense of speed when jumping, vaulting, and free roaming. Stealth is another key ingredient of the Assassin’s Creed experience.What’s on the table in this respect?

SB: A core focus of Mirage ’s stealth is that we want players to work in the shadows, plan their next move, strike, and then vanish. There are more ways to assassinate, with

• Assassin's Creed Mirage is out Oct 5

You’re promising a return to a more classic Assassin’s Creed style of play in Mirage . How did you go about achieving this? SB: When we got the opportunity to work on the next game of the series, we sat down with the rest of the core team and asked ourselves, as fans, what kind of Assassin’s Creed game we’d most want to play. Coming off Valhalla , we started to explore the idea of introducing a new playable hero, Basim, and creating an experience that is a love letter to the origins of the franchise – a coming-of-age story with rhythm mechanics to bring the feel of the early games into the modern day.

new killing animations, some leveraging a stealthy approach,

others delivering a violent killing blow. We also have direct throwbacks to the first games with moves like the bench assassination that you might recognise from Assassin’s Creed 2 . Also, kill from the rooftop gardens, an old favourite of players. Social stealth is also making a return. We’re bringing back the systemic blending with larger crowds that allows you to move undetected through the business location. But you can also bribe more factions with specific tokens in order to control AI groups and make your way through guarded areas. MM: We also reworked our enemy AI to improve detection and vanishing loops, making our behaviours more responsive and readable. New enemy archetypes will also increase the stakes. The marksman can shoot your eagle and prevent you from using it, the spearman pokes through haystacks, and the horn bearer can call for reinforcements. That’s where your assassin skills come in handy. And then there’s the big one, of course: assassinations.What can we expect here? SB: The bureaus in Mirage act as gameplay hubs from which you can take on side contracts with various objectives, from rescue missions to assassinations, and help the Hidden Ones in their fight for freedom. And with our black box missions, we give you the freedom to approach key assassination missions however you see fit.

Please, tell us more about the story? SB: We’re going back to the Middle East, but this time in ninth-century Baghdad, 300 years before the time of Altair. We’re telling the story of Basim and how he became a master assassin. MM: For parkour, we looked to our previous games for inspiration, and chose to put the emphasis on comfort and fluidity. In Mirage , parkour is easy to learn and to master. Our approach is closer to the Ezio games, where it’s all about keeping the flow and momentum going, with the design centred around verticality. Many elements from past games are making a return – we have the corner swing, the ability to vault over objects, elevators to quickly reach high ground – with also new ingredients, such as the pole vault, allowing you to cross large gaps between two rooftops. Of course, Basim is faster and more agile than What can we expect in the way of classic parkour in Assassin’s Creed Mirage ?

The first working title for the original Assassin’s Creed was Prince of Persia: Assassin . DYK?

10 OCTOBER 2023



sure to get grapplers grinning. We’re promised that new ‘Seamless Submissions’ will make the grappling feel more fluid and realistic than ever before. Several play options are set to keep players busy, including both local and online career modes. The local career boasts an all-new introduction that sees the return of Coach Davis to guide the player through their burgeoning UFC career. Features to get excited about include new cinematics, new locations, a refined focus on

onboarding, and an upgrade to training camps, which will let players simulate

Erm, Ouch!

It’s time to get back in the octagon for big-time MMA biff action, as EA Sports bring us UFC 5 . Here’s just a taste of what we can expect when it hits this month. Words Bec Summer A lot has happened in the franchise since 2020’s EA Sports UFC 4 , and fans are certainly in for a wild ride full of THERE WILL BE BLOOD!

EA Sports UFC 5 features a staggering 64,000 possible combinations of facial damage.

their training camp and sparring drills to reach peak fitness and get to the fights faster. Meanwhile, the online career is set to include skill-based matchmaking, division progression, and title chases across four divisions. Players will be able to compete with a different created fighter in each division, which will allow them to showcase multiple character customisations,

as well as vanity items.

In other great news, the Fight Now experience has been revamped to offer a suite of authentic MMA/UFC match types, including ‘Main Card’, ‘Main Event’, ‘Championship’, ‘Backyard’, and ‘Kumite’. Meanwhile, we’re promised new monthly Fight Week content, which will present various challenges, features, and extra content based around real-world UFC events. As is always the case with EA, UFC 5 is about rewarding its players. To this end, playing the game will earn a very desirable set of rewards, including in-game currency, player profile customisations, created fighter vanity items, and alter egos. If that isn’t enough, completing Profile Challenges will reward competitors with XP that levels up their punch card’s ability to earn. It’s all shaping up to be the at-home fight card that MMA fans have craved, with EA Sports truly striving to make UFC 5 as real as it gets.

people have taken aboard internal and external feedback and really upped the ante. There are numerous new strikes and hit reactions, with all-new animations for ground and pound elbows, spinning attacks, and several other punches, kicks, knees, and elbows. If that’s not enough, new striking animations emulate heavy hitters, professional kickboxers, and more.

improvements across the board. No more obvious are these improvements than in the next-level graphics of EA Sports UFC 5 . Now powered by EA’s awesome Frostbite Engine, we’re in for such treats on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S as dynamic lighting and vastly improved looks. Marvel at the realistic clothing animations, watch replays of your finishing blows in super slow motion with cinematic camera angles and lighting, and be stunned by the impact of authentic looking – and bloody and bruising – fight ending shots. Yes, Frostbite allows the effects of impacting blows to be all the more real. The improved fidelity means that when fighters take strikes, the results show on their face and body in authentic, flinch inducing fashion. On top of this, all new fluid physics and particle systems make blood and sweat drip and spray just like in the real octagon. All of this brutality isn’t just a cosmetic thing, though. As your fighter – or your opponent – takes more of a beating, the game’s all-new Real Impact System kicks in, meaning those cuts and strikes can affect mobility, defence, stamina, and other variables. If too much damage is taken, the doctor could step in and pause, or even stop, the fight. As for that fighting, the EA Sports

The existing grappling systems have also been revamped, bringing faster animations while offering a smoother, more authentic ground game that’s

• EA Sports UFC 5 is out Oct 27

The Greatest!

Get in quick and pre-order EA Sports UFC 5 and amongst bonuses such as XP boosts and vanity

items, you’ll score a magnificent Muhammad Ali playable fighter.

12 OCTOBER 2023



Whether you’re just starting out in the thrilling world of PC gaming or you’re an old hand looking to upgrade your system, MSI have a laptop to suit every requirement – and every budget. Words Bec Summer LEVEL UP YOUR GAMING WITH MSI


Sixteen top esports teams will be duking it out for ultimate

honours at the Intel Extreme Masters in Sydney this month, from October 20-22. It’s the longest running pro gaming tour in the world, having kicked off originally in 2006, and currently involves such titles as Counter Strike: Global Offensive , and StarCraft II .

for, you get a snazzy, 2023 Reddot Award-winning, low-profile, 16-inch, QHD+, 240Hz laptop in eye-catching ‘Cosmos Gray’, with dazzling translucent WASD keys. Ready to rock for gaming or productivity, opt for either the latest 13th gen Intel i7 or i9

come as standard, as does a crisp, 15.6-inch, Full HD display supporting up to 144Hz. Cooler Boost technology keeps things cool even in the hottest of battles, while all the

processors, coupled with 16GB RAM, a whopping 2TB SSD, and graphics

options of NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 or 4070. It’s designed to keep cool under the biggest loads thanks to MSI Cooler Boost 5, even with MSI OverBoost Ultra supporting up to 250W full power. Add almost nine hours of battery life under typical usage, plus connectivity including Thunderbolt 4.0, five USB ports, Bluetooth v5.3, and Wi-Fi 6E, and you’re looking at one top-shelf laptop. MSI Raider GE68 HX The awards keep coming for MSI, with their 2023 Raider design scoring both a CES Innovation Award and 2023 Reddot Award. Arresting to look at with its translucent WASD keys, per-key RGB programming, and prominent matrix light bar, the Raider also packs power

features you’d expect such as Windows 11 Home, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, and ports aplenty are all present and accounted for. MSI Stealth 14 Studio Add some truly sharp styling to your gaming arsenal with the Stealth range, with two striking colour options in ‘Star Blue’ and ‘Pure White’. Nabbing such prestigious acknowledgements as the 2023 CES Innovation Award and the 2023 Reddot Award, this versatile unit will take you from gaming to productivity without a whimper, all in an ultraportable 14” magnesium

MSI Thin GF63 If you’re dipping your toes in the gaming laptop world, here’s a brilliant place to start. Budget priced, but not budget specced, whether you opt for the 12th generation Intel i5 or the i7 model, you'll get top features such as a 15.6 inch, Full HD display that runs at up to 144Hz, the latest NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2050 graphics, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of speedy SSD storage, Windows 11 Home, and up to six hours of battery life. With plenty of ports – including HDMI, and the ability to add two extra displays via Matrix Display – plus Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth connectivity and Hi-Res Audio, the Thin lives up to its name at just 21.7 millimetres, and weighs in at a mere 1.86 kilograms. MSI Cyborg 15 If you really want to make a statement, look no further! With its cyberpunk styling complete with translucent components on the chassis and keyboard (check out those WASD keys!), the Cyborg is a stunner, and

aluminium alloy chassis that weighs just 1.7 kilograms. All Stealth 14 Studio models come with a 13th generation Intel Core

to impress, with a 13th generation Intel i7 at its heart, coupled with 16GB RAM and either a 1TB or 2TB SSD, depending on model. The same goes for the graphics power, with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 and 4070 options. Then there’s the MSI OverBoost Ultra capability, supporting up to 250W full power. A 16-inch, QHD+ screen delivering up to 240Hz brings your games bursting to life, plus there are connections galore, Windows 11, and more!

its tech specs don’t let it down. Inside lives the latest in 13th generation Intel i7 processing power, coupled with either NVIDIA

i7 processor inside, 16GB of RAM (upgradeable), 1TB of SSD storage,

Windows 11 Home, and a stunning 14-inch QHD+ (2560 x 1600), 240Hz display, plus all the connectivity options that you need. MSI Vector GP68HX No matter which model of the Vector you opt

GeForce RTX 4050 or 4060 graphics. 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD

14 OCTOBER 2023



KONKS: Remember Thwomps?

Konks have a similar M.O., throwing their weight around

Mario and friends are back, in their first all-new side-scrolling platform game since New Super Mario Bros. U in 2012.We went exploring to discover some of the cool new stuff that we can look forward to when Super Mario Bros.Wonder releases this month. Words Amy Flower The story WELCOME TO A WONDER WORLD!

while trying to squish you. MAW-MAWS: These things like to swallow anything that gets too close to them, before eventually spitting them out. MUMSIES: These tall,

Pokey-like creatures

are, as their name suggests, mummified, so defeating them will require their unwrapping first. How will we power up?

As well as some classic powerups such as the Fire Flower, three new ones join the fray in Super Mario Bros. Wonder… BUBBLE: This lets the recipient blow bubbles that can catch

Rock Plateau to the marshmallow cloudiness of Fluff-Puff Peaks, and beyond. While not a traditional open world game, there will be areas where you can take on a selection of courses in whichever order you like. How many of us can play? Four players can take up the fight locally, working together to conquer Bowser, and saving fallen comrades along the way if necessary. Things are different online, with co-op rooms and other opportunities to join with friends, such as competing in races. Who’s against us? Many of the enemies that you encounter will be familiar, such as Boos, Dry Bones, Goombas, Koopas and Lakitu. But there’s also a whole new cast of baddies, which includes… CONDARTS: Flying in from all directions, these pointy birds have sharp beaks that can lodge them into walls –

We’re welcomed to the Mushroom Kingdom’s neighbour, the Flower Kingdom, by its Prince Florian. Unfortunately, however, calamity strikes as big bad Bowser invades, touching a curious Wonder Flower which transforms him into a flying castle. Naturally, he begins to cause all manner of havoc across the land – if only there was a group of heroic types at hand who could

and defeat enemies, including otherwise impervious ones, and can also be used to

access higher areas.

DRILL: Great for defeating well armoured foes, this also allows the

save the Flower Kingdom! Wonder Flower?

user to burrow through various hard surfaces. ELEPHANT: The big one – in so many ways! This makes your character larger and decidedly elephantine, able to

As we learned from Bowser’s transformation, this thing is pretty powerful. It has the ability to shift

barrel through obstacles and swing your trunk to attack, spray water, flip items, and more.

realities – maybe hurling your protagonist into space or emitting a barrage of bubbles – and can be a good thing or a bad thing. Finding a Wonder Seed will negate its effects. The areas The Flower Kingdom, set up with the central Petal Isles surrounded by six others, will give us a total of seven new areas to explore. These will range from the quite classic look of Pipe

and unsuspecting players! HOPPYCATS: These spiky creatures jump when you jump, requiring

What’s with those talking flowers?

strategy to get around.

These are here to do everything from offering encouragement to divulging hints at getting further through levels. Oh, and we’re told that they can be silenced if you really want.

Who to play as? Players will be able to choose to take on the adventure as Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Yellow Toad, Blue Toad, Toadette, Yoshi (in green, light blue, yellow, or red), or Nabbit. The latter two are designed to make the game easier for younger or new players, as they don’t take damage.

• Super Mario Bros. Wonder is out Oct 20

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© Nintendo




ASSASSIN’S CREED MIRAGE With an eye to rekindling the magic of old school Assassin’s Creed, Mirage will take us to ninth-century Baghdad, at the peak of its Golden Age. It’s set to be more of a narrative-driven adventure, stripping out many of the RPG-styled elements that have been a part

HOT WHEELS UNLEASHED 2: TURBOCHARGED How are Mattel and Milestone planning to follow up the wild, orange track action of Hot Wheels Unleashed ? Well, they’re starting with a story mode, all-new mechanics, five fresh environments, plus new vehicle styles and game modes. It’s set to launch with over 130 vehicles, and as well as four-wheeled classics, we’ll also be able to race with motorbikes and ATVs for the first time.

of more recent outings. So, that means a focus on parkour, stealth, and assassinations via the return of Basim Ibn Ishaq.







DETECTIVE PIKACHU RETURNS Get ready to don the classic deerstalker hat and grab that must-have magnifying glass, for the sleuthing – and coffee-worshipping – Pokémon mascot is doing his mystery-solving thing once again in the thriving metropolis where Pokémon and people live side-by

MARVEL’S SPIDER-MAN 2 Insomniac’s super-anticipated PlayStation 5 exclusive is finally swinging our way, packed with more thwip infused swing, swing action. This time out we’ll have two Spidey stars of the show, in both Peter Parker and Miles Morales, with each of them set to be playable

side, Ryme City. Unravel a series of mysteries in this big new adventure, as our great detective is joined by partner in solving crime, Tim Goodman.

via a simple switching mechanism. The big bad of proceedings is Kraven the Hunter, who we’ll be tackling in an expanded New York setting.







FORZA MOTORSPORT The next track-based iteration of the legendary Xbox series is going back to its roots by name, but it’ll look like nothing that has come before it. Harnessing all the technical wizardry of the latest hardware, such as 4K graphics at 60fps and on-the-fly ray tracing, this is set

SUPER MARIO BROS. WONDER Age doesn’t weary our favourite superstar tradie, as he’s set to star in this brand new 2D adventure. Fans of the original Super Mario Bros. are going to love this one, which will bring all sorts of new mechanisms and creatures to the table, including transforming environments, and even talking flowers that deliver

to be the shiniest Forza yet. Add truly dynamic weather and a cavalcade of cars and it’s fair to say that we’re very excited for this one!

encouragement as you progress. Plus, there’s a Super Mario elephant metamorphosis!







SONIC SUPERSTARS It’s old school, legendary Sonic the Hedgehog, but with a thoroughly 21st century look and vibe – the best of both worlds! Yes, classic 2D Sonic gameplay meets modern 3D graphics, new Chaos Emerald powers, and up to four players going after nefarious old Dr Eggman all at once. Join Sonic, Tails,

JUST DANCE 2024 EDITION The dance sensation platform returns for another yearly instalment, bringing a new tracklisting that’s absolutely jam-packed with 40 fresh and classic bops. Name a huge dance act and they’ll likely be ready and waiting for you here, from Miley to

Whitney, and Bad Bunny to Blackpink. Visually, there’ll be a bunch of new universes in which to let loose your moves, and wild new characters to encounter.

Knuckles, and Amy Rose as they set out to save the animals of the game’s new Northstar Islands from the grasp of evil.







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Director on Street Fighter 6 at Capcom TAKAYUKI NAKAYAMA

WARIOWARE: MOVE IT! Move over, Mario! It’s time for Wario to get the spotlight again with his latest collection of crazy WarioWare microgames. Grab your Joy-Cons and get your motion control on playing over 200 quick-fire games, shaking, punching, dancing, wiggling, and curtseying towards victory! You can even let up to three friends join in on the madness in the local party mode, although fair warning: Wario sets the rules…

CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE III Last year’s thrilling return of Modern Warfare continues in this direct sequel that sees Captain Price and Task Force 141 face off against the ultimate threat in war criminal Vladimir Makarov. Look forward to new open combat missions, which will provide more player choice – go stealthy or go loud! Add 16 multiplayer maps at launch and the return of zombies with their largest map ever, and this one’s coming in hot.

1 What’s the first game that you remember playing? Super Mario Bros. 2 What was the last game that you finished? Furikake Spacey game series of all time? Street Fighter! Castlevania, Fatal Fury, Romancing SaGa, Shin Megami Tensei… 4 What do you think is the most underrated video game of all time? Outlaws of the Lost Dynasty 3 What’s your favourite video game or video





5 What’s the game that you most wish you’d worked on? Street Fighter! Castlevania, ActRaiser…

PERSONA 5 TACTICA Since its release in 2016, Persona 5 has delivered a slew of spin-off titles, and that is set to continue this year with the arrival of Persona 5 Tactica . The clue here is in the name: the tactical strategy-based RPG is set to feature a completely new story, with the cast from the original game and a new direction in gameplay for the series.

SUPER MARIO RPG Yes, the much-loved Super Nintendo game is heading back our way in shiny and colourful new remastered form! A collaboration between JRPG masters Square and Nintendo, it made RPGs more accessible for all, and is set to look stunning when it hits our screens. The story? Mario, Bowser, and Peach unite to repair the wish-granting Star Road, and thwart the evildoings of the Smithy Gang.






Are you up to answering all eight of this month’s game related posers? 1. In what year did the first Assassin’s Creed launch? 2. Which British singer played a doctor in the Pokémon: Detective Pikachu movie? 3. In which country was Forza Horizon 3 set? 4. What’s the name of the little bird that appears in many Sonic the Hedgehog games? 5. What’s the usual colour for Hot Wheels track lengths?



6. What did Marvel legend Stan Lee make a cameo as in Marvel’s Spider-Man ? 7. In which Nintendo game did Mario’s pal Yoshi make their first appearance? 8. Which US group had their own Just Dance spin-off game in 2011?

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ISSUE 228 OCT ’23


© 2023 Paramount Pictures. Hasbro, Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro. © 2023 Hasbro






William Friedkin

The Exorcist turns 50 this year, and the highly anticipated legacy sequel The Exorcist: Believer arrives in cinemas on October 5. Although it’s cause for celebration, the occasion is marred by director William Friedkin’s recent passing at the age of 87. Here are some trademarks that set his work apart from the rest. Controlled chaos and civil unrest Capturing anarchy and mayhem became a hallmark of Friedkin’s work, and injecting the chaos of civil unrest into his stories gave his films a palpable sense of realism. From the terrorist bombings and uprisings in Sorcerer (1977) to the anti-American demonstrations in Rules of Engagement (2000), authenticity was always key. Dutch angles Dutch angles are a type of shot in which the camera is positioned at a slight angle, giving scenes a sense of the abstract or unease. Friedkin often used this technique in close-up shots during important dialogue, to build tension and disorientate the viewer. Examples can be found in all of his films, including gripping scenes in Bug (2006) and Killer Joe (2011). Citizen Kane shot Friedkin’s favourite film of all time was Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941), and he expressed his love for it by using the now-iconic Citizen Kane shot throughout his work. The technique involves the camera positioned on the ground, pointed upward and capturing wide shots from a low vantage point. This method allows the viewer to engage in the scene from a third-party perspective.



What’s one of your all-time favourite films, and why? As a huge fan of the Godzilla franchise, Shin Godzilla would be one of the best films I’ve ever

On The Radar

seen. Updating the classic Kaiju film genre with amazing visuals and score is a sight to be seen. What’s one of your all-time favourite TV series, and why? Personally, I don’t think anything can beat classic SpongeBob SquarePants . The goofy jokes and fun animations really shaped my sense of humour as an adult. What have you been watching lately that you’d recommend? I’m getting back around to my yearly rewatch of The Lord of the Rings series. I finally think I’ll have some spare time to get through the twelve-ish hours of the extended editions on 4K.


November is going to be a huge month, and Margot Robbie is leading the charge as Barbie . Hot on her tail is Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning, Part One , followed by a pack of mutts in Strays . Also expect Ninja Turtle action, another Megalodon and more.

What’s the best thing about working at JB? I would say we have the best culture in any retail company, along with the best people. I know the friends I’ve made here will last a lifetime. What’s a movie you saw as a child that has left a lasting impression on you? The original Jurassic Park , when I was five. I absolutely loved dinosaurs (still do) and seeing them alive on my TV was just groundbreaking for my little brain.

Although the 2009 spin-off movie Legally Blondes was released to video in Australia as Legally Blonde 3 , the upcoming Legally Blonde 3 is the legitimate second instalment in the hit franchise. The film has been in the early development stages for several years, with Reese Witherspoon confirming her return as early as PRE-ORDER NOW IN DEVELOPMENT

From the mind of Tim Burton, The Nightmare Before Christmas is the stop-motion animated holiday classic that has become one of the most iconic children’s films of all time. The concept of a Halloween character longing to participate in Christmas was a stroke of genius, which has allowed the movie to be celebrated during both holidays. With songs by Hollywood maestro Danny








Y 30



2018. Warner Bros. originally set a 2022 release date, which was later revised. With the current writers’ and actors’ strikes still in motion, there is no confirmation on when we will see Legally Blonde 3 , only that we will… eventually.







Elfman, who also provides the singing voice of Jack Skellington, the movie remains timeless, enjoyed by new generations every year.


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