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Check Out These Hyper-Realistic Pokemon

Have you ever wondered what Pokémon would look like in real life? Well, so did the very talented RJ Palmer, a San Francisco-based freelance artist.

When we saw his artwork, we were filled with awe, and just had find out just how RJ came up with these awesome, absurd designs.

IGN: Why did you decide to draw hyper-realistic Pokémon?

RJ: Well I have always been a Pokémon fan since I was 9 years old and got Pokemon Yellow Version.  Back in late August I was burnt out on doing some freelance illustrations and before I went to bed I scratched out a more realistic Garchomp to relieve stress.  After I there it up on my deviantART account, it became very popular.  I had more ideas for Pokémon to do and decided to just start working on my creature design skills, and decided to keep doing them in my spare time.

How long does an image take?

These Pokémon pieces have taken longer and longer as I progress as I get more ambitious and push them further.  Average illustration work I do takes around 10-20 hours and most of these Pokémon pictures have been under or around 10 hours, so they are fairly relaxing.

Are there any Pokémon you’ve tried repeatedly to draw but can’t quite figure out?

The greatest thing about looking to nature for your inspiration, is that nature has generally thought of it all first.  So not being able to make a Pokémon more realistic comes down to you not knowing enough or not being creative enough.

Before I draw each one, I take an hour or two to just research some real animals and gather reference to pull from.  Its sort of like looking for pieces made of nature and assembling them into a Nintendo-shaped puzzle.

Which Pokémon are next?

As far as which Pokémon are next, I’m not really sure.  I’ve wanted to do the Eevee evolutions.  Though I am open to being commissioned to have someone else’s favorite Pokemon redesigned.

Are there any other games or nerd culture icons you’d like to take a shot at drawing?

After drawing Dissidia Ryan Clements, I think I’ve got my nerd culture icons covered.  No, I kid; there are always new designs and video game characters that will inspire me.  Though I mostly just draw the inspiration from other video game designs and don’t actually draw the characters themselves.  I did draw the cast of Star Fox as humans though.

You can check out more of RJ’s art on his deviantART, Tumblr, and personal portfolio site, but be warned – some of his early stuff is NSFW.

Nic is the Editor of IGN Tech. He loves technology almost as much as the SF Giants, Velveeta Shells, and Wartortle. You can follow him on Twitter @nicvargus and IGN.

By Nic Vargus

CES: Kingston Unveils 1 Terabyte Flash Drive

Kingston has unveiled DataTraveler HyperX Predator, a line of flash drives carrying up to 1 terabyte of storage. Built in a zinc alloy metal case, Kingston calls the line its fastest yet, supporting USB 3.0 and speeds up to 240MB per second and 160MB per second depending on the model.

The drives will carry a five year warranty, and the 512GB model costs $1,750 and is available now. No pricing has been announced for the 1TB drive, which is expected to ship some time in the first quarter of this year.

Source: The Verge

Andrew Goldfarb is IGN’s associate news editor. Keep up with pictures of the latest food he’s been eating by following @garfep on Twitter or garfep on IGN.

By Andrew Goldfarb

T-Shirt of the Day: Legend of Zombie

We’ll admit it: we never understood what Link was supposed to be doing with all those hearts. We try not to jump to conclusions, but … If you get your sustenance from the vital organs of your own species: you might be a zombie.

Still, questions remain: Whose hearts were these? And who put them in those pots anyway (or left ‘em on their overgrown lawns)?

Legend of Zombie

SplitReason – $20 + shipping.

Last week’s shirt:

Falloutopoly from Ript

Jon Fox is a Seattle hipster who loves polar bears and climbing trees. You can follow him on Twitter and IGN.

By Jon Fox

CES: Hands-on with the Razer Edge

Today at CES, we got an opportunity to take a first look at Razer’s new Windows 8 gaming tablet, the Edge, which they’re calling the “most powerful tablet in the world.” With Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, Nvidia’s GT 640M LE, and up to 8GB of RAM, it isn’t an overstatement. The company is demoing games like Dishonored, Dirt: Showdown, Civilization V, and Rift running at medium-to-high settings in each of the tablet’s four core modes — tablet, PC, console, and handheld. The variation really stems from how the tablet is paired with an array of optional accessories the company has produced, such as a docking station, side-mounted controllers, and a transforming keyboard.

Each mode is meant to demonstrate the device’s versatility and performance for any play style and game genre. The tablet mode is being shown with Civilization V, a touchscreen-optimized title, while Dirt: Showdown is used to show how the tablet can handle split-screen games output to an HDTV via HDMI. For more MMO-focused experiences, the company is using an add-on keyboard and Bluetooth mouse. And finally, to replicate the gamepad control scheme, the side-mounted controller cradle running Dishonored.

In each of the configurations, the Edge delivered great performance. Framerates were smooth and when we took a look at the graphics settings, each of the games were set to baseline or high. It is, in fact, the most powerful tablet on the market. But as we’ve learned, the Edge’s emphasis on performance has come at the cost of battery life and affordability. Razer has quoted the Edge at roughly one hour of battery life when playing games without the aid of a power cord or extended battery and roughly four to six hours for regular use. Razer will be selling an extended battery, which can be housed in each of its add-on accessories for $70, which adds another hour of playtime, bringing it to a maximum of 2 hours of gameplay. And then there’s the cost of the accessories themselves. While the Edge Pro comes with the controller add-on bundled in, it’ll cost $249.99 on its own, and the keyboard case and docking station will cost $199.99 and $79.99, respectively.

As for the system itself, the baseline Edge, which comes with 4GB of RAM, Intel’s Core i5 processor, 64GB of SSD storage, and Nvidia’s GT 640M LE chip, and no bundled in accessories has an MSRP of $999. Stepping up to the Edge Pro adds an Intel Core i7 processor, 128GB, 8GB of RAM, and an included controller cradle will cost $1,299, with 256GB of storage adding another $200. Given the quality and power of the hardware, the cost of the Edge is extremely competitive, but when you factor in all of the added accessories and the extended battery, to get the full experience, consumers must shell out more than $1,500.

And as exciting as a concept as the Edge is, we struggle to understand why it would or should replace your gaming laptop. Aside from the touchscreen interface, Razer’s Blade gaming laptop — and practically any other gaming laptop — offer the same functions, just in a different form factor. And often, at a lower cost. The Edge is unquestionably compact, but it is definitely the heftiest tablet we’ve used. But with the limited battery life and powerful specs generating a ton of heat, it doesn’t offer a ton of utility. The accessories, while well-constructed, are also somewhat jarring. The keyboard case is cramped and compact, though responsive. And the controller accessory is ergonomically confounding. The shoulder buttons are nearly out of reach and with the analog thumbsticks positioned so high, we found ourselves struggling to make quick taps to the d-pad or action buttons.

The most ideal setup we found was the console mode, which allows you to prop the Edge up and plug in USB peripherals — whether it be a mouse and keyboard or a gamepad. But if that’s the ideal configuration, again, we wonder why users wouldn’t be better suited with a laptop.

Though there are certainly with some glaring issues, Razer definitely deserves credit for the bold concept. It just needs refinement.

Scott Lowe is IGN’s guru of Tech. He enjoys coffee, burritos, and moonlit walks. You can follow him on MyIGN Scott-IGN and on Twitter @ScottLowe. For more of the latest and greatest in technology, follow @IGNTech.

By Scott Lowe

EA Denies Reports of Origin Hack

EA has denied reports that Origin has been hacked. In regard to several users complaining about their accounts being stolen on Origin’s official forums, an EA spokesperson tells IGN “At this point, we have no reason to believe there has been any intrusion into our Origin database.”

Specifically, users are getting emails claiming that their username and password have been changed despite taking no such action. A NeoGAF forum thread features several more complaints from users reporting similar problems.

EA provided the following statement to IGN regarding Origin security measures:

“Anytime a player has a question about the security of his or her account or personal data, we take it very seriously and take all possible steps to help. For any customer who cannot access their Origin account for any reason, we ask them to please contact Origin Help or EA’s customer experience group at help.ea.com. The robust security measures in place to protect Origin users accounts are constantly being expanded and upgraded, and we also strongly recommend customers take the protective steps of using strong passwords and changing passwords often.”

For now, it’s unclear exactly what’s happening to users and whether the password resets are some kind of technical glitch or a hack that EA isn’t aware of. We’ll continue to follow up with EA and will update this story with any additional info we receive.

Andrew Goldfarb is IGN’s associate news editor. Keep up with pictures of the latest food he’s been eating by following @garfep on Twitter or garfep on IGN.

By Andrew Goldfarb

Opinion: Console Price Cuts are Too Timid

Hardware manufacturers will do just about anything to avoid cutting their prices. Why? “They’re making way too much money,” says analyst Michael Pachter.

With packaged games sales plunging, games publishers are desperate for new console owners, especially on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 where they make most of their money. But instead of slicing prices, hardware companies prefer to ‘add value’ with pack-ins, or follow bigger strategic agenda like promoting gizmos such as Kinect. Although the pack-ins are generous, retailers and games publishers receive almost no benefit. The more games a consumer gains for ‘free’ at launch, the less they are likely to buy.

Yesterday’s announcement of two $250 Xbox 360 pack-ins (one with 250GB, another with Kinect) is great news, but it’s the first real price cut for Xbox 360 since its larger hard-drive version came down to $300 in 2009. And Microsoft won’t even confirm that this current roll-out is anything more than a Holiday promotion.

Pachter says, “They are making a ton of money and they don’t want to stop.”

With the big sales season coming, gaming needs as many new console owners as possible. But the Xbox 360 promotion as well as the $20 cut on Wii and the introduction of a sexy (but more expensive) PlayStation 3 won’t be enough to move the needle.

Colin Sebastian, an analyst with RW Baird, says, “The Xbox 360 price cuts will help, on the margin, stimulate a few more console sales, although the size of the cuts is not large enough to drive meaningful incremental unit sales.”

Microsoft could, if it wanted to, cut the price of Xbox 360 down to below $200 and generate some seriously high sales. But it won’t because, strategically, it makes more sense for the company to monetize the current generation, than expand it. The time for taking a hit on profits is next year, when a new console will likely launch.

Pachter says, “Microsoft is about making profits. So why cut prices?” He says that the new bundles are a likely reaction to the introduction of Wii U. “They can point to these offers and say they are at least $50 cheaper than Wii U. Microsoft might not believe there are that many possible Xbox 360 owners out there who haven’t bought one yet, But there are lots of Wii owners who don’t have a console and might be upgrading, and they want to tempt a few of those.”

He adds, “If some kid got a Wii when he was six years old, he’s 12 now, and wants something new. A 45-year-old woman who enjoyed Wii Fit might be coming into stores for an upgrade. Microsoft won’t get all of them, but they’d be happy to get 100,000 of them.”

Jesse Divnich, an analyst at EEDAR, says, “With this generation being long in the tooth, price cuts are the only consumer motivator. We’ll see a temporary increase in console sales through the holiday from these price cuts, but price discounting rarely has a long-term impact.”

What about Sony, which is offering the new ‘slimmer’ PlayStation 3 for $279, with pack-ins. It’s got less room for wiggle because of financial constraints and the cost of the new console form. Divnich says, “I have no concerns for Sony. I’m sure they have their own holiday strategy and just because they didn’t decrease pricing when everyone else did, it doesn’t put them at a disadvantage. There is optimal time for Sony to react.” (We reached out to Sony for comment and will post anything we receive.)

Pachter also believes Sony will sit tight, at least until next year. “Wii U will be supply constrained so it will sell out, both to Nintendo hardcore fans and people who want the new gadget, The competition gets more serious in the spring, and that‘s also when we’ll likely be hearing more about new consoles from Microsoft and Sony.”

A History of Hardware Price Cuts

Tracking price histories in this generation is difficult because of the number of models, based on memory size. But seeking a central thread, this is what you get.

Xbox 360 Price History

The 20GB Xbox 360 launched in 2006 at $400, which dropped to $350 after 18 months. That model was replaced with a 60GB version, which was dropped again to $300 in the fall of 2008. So, after two years, the machine had dropped in price by 25%, with memory improvements.

By the middle of 2009, the premium-priced 120GB version of the machine had dropped to $300 and was the de facto machine, replaced by a 250GB version in 2010.

So, although the machine dropped by $100 in its first two years, it’s only dropped by $50 in the last four years, albeit with fat pack-ins and extra memory.

The low-memory version of Xbox 360 has generally been priced at between $70 and $100 lower than the core version, although now it’s the same price, with a packed-in Kinect, which retails at around $100.

PlayStation 3 Price History

PlayStation 3 launched in 2006 at $600 with 60GB which by July 2007 had been dropped in price to $500 and then again to $400 in September 2008 with 80GB. (Along the way, cheaper, lower memory versions came and went.) In August 2009, the PS3 Slim was introduced with 120GB at a price of $300. That was cut to $250 in the summer of 2011. The new PS3 Slimmer costs $270 with a 250GB hard drive and pack-ins.

Wii Price History

In contrast, the Wii began life at $250 in 2006. Three years later, in 2009, it dropped to $200. In the spring of 2011, about 18 months later, it dropped again by $50. With another $20 lopped off, Wii has dropped in price by 50% since launch. The Wii U is being introduced at $300 for the base 8GB version, with a 32GB version costing $350.

What do you think? Let us know in comments.

For daily opinions, debates and interviews on games you can follow Colin Campbell on Twitter @ColinCampbellX. Or IGNColinCampbell at IGN. 

By Colin Campbell

CES: Microsoft IllumiRoom Makes Your Room a Screen

During Samsung’s keynote at CES today, Microsoft unveiled IllumiRoom, a new technology that turns the entire room around your TV into an extension of the screen. As explained on Microsoft’s official site, IllumiRoom uses Kinect and a projector “to blur the lines between on-screen content and the environment we live in allowing us to combine our virtual and physical worlds.”

Microsoft explains that IllumiRoom “augments the area surrounding a television screen with projected visualizations to enhance the traditional living room entertainment experience” and “can change the appearance of the room, induce apparent motion, extend the field of view, and enable entirely new game experiences.” Kinect captures the geometry of a room and adapts projected visuals “in real-time without any need to custom pre-process the graphics.”

In a video demo shown off during Samsung’s keynote, Microsoft showed off several different applications of the technology, noting that the footage was “captured live and is not the result of any special effects added in post production.”

IllumiRoom appears to be the realization of the immersive display experience Microsoft patented last year, which aimed to make gaming “more realistic” and eliminating “out of context images” that sit next to your TV.

Whether or not IllumiRoom will tie-in with next Xbox or the next generation of Kinect remains to be seen, but Microsoft says more details will be revealed at the ACM SIGCHI Conference in Paris in April.

Andrew Goldfarb is IGN’s associate news editor. Keep up with pictures of the latest food he’s been eating by following @garfep on Twitter or garfep on IGN.

By Andrew Goldfarb

Iron Man 3′s Chinese Tech Product Placement

Product placement is nothing new in movies, but one Chinese firm — electronics manufacturer TCL — is reportedly going all out with for Iron Man 3.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, TCL has “announced that its televisions, cloud technology and mobile phones will be conspicuously employed by Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr.’s billionaire superhero, in Disney-Marvel’s upcoming Iron Man 3, which is set for release on May 3 in North America, China and other select territories.”

TCL also recently acquired the right to rename the Hollywood landmark Grauman’s Chinese Theatre to the TCL Chinese Theatre.

Iron Man 3 is a Chinese co-production Disney-Marvel and the Chinese outlet DMG.

By Jim Vejvoda

CES: Nvidia Introduces Project Shield Android Gaming Handheld

Nvidia has introduced Project Shield, an Android-based gaming handheld. The system uses the company’s new Tegra 4 processor and is housed within a controller with a flip-up screen, complete with its own integrated sound system and the complete array of controls you’d find on a traditional console controller. It features an HDMI port for video output, micro-USB for accessories and docks, and a microSD port for expandable storage. While the exact specs are still forthcoming, Project Shield has a 5-inch 720p HD display. The system, Nvidia says, is “pure Android,” which gives it unhindered access to the standard Android interface, as well as apps and games from the Google Play store.

Harnessing the power of Tegra 4, Nvidia demonstrated the system outputting HD video and realtime games to a 4K display with no framerate lag or degradation.

Using software built by Nvidia, the Shield provides remote access to the games installed on your gaming PC at home, including Steam titles. Users can play any PC game on the Shield from anywhere within the same local Wi-Fi network.

Pricing has yet to be revealed, but Nvidia says Project Shield will ship in Q2 of this year. We’ll be getting hands-on time with Project Shield later this week, so stay tuned to IGN.com/CES for updates.

Scott Lowe is IGN’s guru of Tech. He enjoys coffee, burritos, and moonlit walks. You can follow him on MyIGN Scott-IGN and on Twitter @ScottLowe. For more of the latest and greatest in technology, follow @IGNTech.

By Scott Lowe

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