Aftermath/2020 In Review/Hello, And Goodbye
The devastating terrorist attacks that hit New York City and New Delhi simultaneously on New Years' Day 2021 were the culmination of nearly a quarter of a century of incidents and events that resulted in Pakistan becoming a battleground between opposing factions, which ultimately led to the rise of extremism within the country. After Osama Bin Laden and al-Queda destroyed the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, and attempted to crash two more planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol Building, America responded by invading Afghanistan, in order to overthrow the ruling Taliban who'd been harboring Bin Laden's organization. During the chaos of the invasion, Bin Laden and numerous al-Queda members fled to Pakistan, and at the end of 2002, the United States military, in conjunction with the Pakistani government, conducted another raid that led to Bin Laden's death. However, the capture of Bin Laden would not be the end of the turmoil in Pakistan, only the beginning. Over the next few years, the organization known as TTP would rise to prominence in the country, culminating in the Islamabad bombings of 2007, which targeted Americans and other foreigners, but which were also intended to strike fear into moderate elements in the country, those who had cooperated with the West to capture Bin Laden and other terrorist, and who had also elevated reformist Benazir Bhutto back to the presidency. Bhutto launched a crackdown on extremist elements, which would ultimately succeed in defeating the TTP (at the cost of nearly starting a civil war in the country), but the remnants of the TTP would join with remnants of Taliban forces from Afghanistan and other al-Queda members to create al-Queda in Pakistan, also known as AQIP, which would become the main source of terrorism in the country during the 2010s and beyond. AQIP's goals were two-fold: their primary goal was to ensure that Pakistan's fundamentalist government, which was brought back to power during the early part of the decade, remained fundamentalist, using terror attacks and intimidation to eliminate potential rivals and the government of Pakistan itself. Its second goal was to punish the West for, in AQIP's words, "manipulating the people of Pakistan into advancing Western interests at the expense of the people's purity". They would launch terrorist attacks around the world, mostly in Europe but also across the Middle East and especially in India, who AQIP believed was a grave threat to Pakistan's sovereignty. For the most part, the fundamentalist government of Pakistan, though sympathetic to some of AQIP's goals, wanted nothing to do with radical extremism. They wanted peace, and many worried that AQIP's activities were provoking India, which could potentially lead to the loss of Kashmir or even a destructive nuclear war. The Pakistani government would launch occasional raids against AQIP bases and training camps, but they ran into trouble from the local people, and didn't use the full force of their military for fear of triggering more unrest. In addition, there were numerous AQIP sympathizers in high levels of the Pakistani government and military, and it was one of these sympathizers who would ultimately be responsible for the New Years' Day attacks.

Samir Mustafa al-Nur, a 44-year-old official in Pakistan's defense ministry, was not an AQIP member himself, though he did have a brother-in-law in the organization, and was extremely sympathetic to AQIP's goals. It was al-Nur who would work with a group of scientists and military officials to smuggle nuclear material to AQIP, which would then organize one of the worst terrorist attacks in world history. The original goal of al-Nur and AQIP was to create a "suitcake nuke" that they hoped to detonate somewhere in either the United States or India, but when that proved to be too difficult, they instead used the material to create a pair of dirty bombs. The majority of the nuclear material would be used in the New Delhi bomb, though the Times Square bomb contained enough material to cause acute (and in some cases, deadly) radiation poisoning in those close enough to the blast. al-Nur and his associates planned the attack for years, carefully hiding their activities from the Pakistani government and also working out how to smuggle nuclear material where they needed it to be. The simultaneous attacks caused devastation to their targets, with the Times Square bomber killing 318 people immediately and injuring more than 1,000 from the blast alone, while the New Delhi bomb killed 359 in the blast itself and injured more than 3,000. However, it would be the radioactive material that would claim the biggest death toll. Though there wasn't enough material to cause death more than a short distance away from the detonations, the crowded areas in which the blasts occurred maximized the casualties, leading to over 1,000 deaths from acute radiation poisoning in the Times Square blast and more than 1,500 deaths in the New Delhi blast. The total death toll from the bombings would be 3,371, while more than 30,000 were injured and sickened, making it the worst terrorist attack in world history in terms of the number of people affected (though the 9/11 attacks claimed more total lives). Images of horror from both attacks would play out on news screens around the world for weeks, leading to enormous outpourings of shock, grief, and anger. Though AQIP initially denied responsibility for both blasts, it was soon discovered that they were indeed responsible, and soon afterward, the repercussions began.

Indian intelligence quickly identified al-Nur as the likely mastermind behind the attacks. The United States and India demanded that Pakistan surrender him to face punishment. Pakistan's government was shocked and horrified by the attacks, and condemned them immediately, but wanted to conduct its own investigation before handing al-Nur over, and refused to do so right away, asking for more time. This request was refused by both the American and Indian governments, and a second demand was made: hand al-Nur over immediately, or face war. The government of Pakistan found itself in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation: they'd either be forced to allow American and Indian military and intelligence into their country, enraging a significant fraction of their population and risking an all-out revolt, or they'd be drawn into a war with both India and NATO (The United States immediately invoked Article 5 of NATO after the attack, compelling all NATO member nations to aid them in a potential military response). Pakistan ultimately refused a second time, and instead offered to hand over dozens of known AQIP operatives while they continued their investigation into al-Nur's activities. This offer was refused by both America and India, and on January 22, 2021, a joint session of Congress declared war against a country for the first time since World War II, as the United States declared war against Pakistan. They were immediately joined by India, which proceeded to launch a massive amount of troops into Kashmir. Pakistan responded in kind with its own counteroffensive, and within days of the declaration, there was all-out fighting on the ground in Kashmir between Indian and Pakistani troops, while the United States prepared to send hundreds of thousands of soldiers into the region. In the patriotic fervor following the attacks, hundreds of thousands of young people signed up for the military. A draft was briefly mulled over, but ultimately dismissed by Kennedy and his military advisors as being unnecessary, as even though America had just suffered a horrific terrorist attack, a draft would still be seen as extremely unpopular. As fighting raged in Kashmir, al-Nur and his associates went into hiding, avoiding efforts from the Pakistani government (and soon, American and Indian troops) to hunt him down. There was great fear that AQIP would launch more attacks during this time, and the world remained on high alert, while also fearing the outbreak of a potential nuclear conflict between India, Pakistan, and the United States.

On February 27, 2021, in the face of a relentless charge by Indian troops, Pakistan decided to launch a tactical nuclear strike against the Indian army in Kashmir. It would be the third nuclear weapon ever used in war up to this point, and would kill more than 20,000 Indian troops. The world reacted in shock and terror equal to their reaction to the New Years' Day bombings, and for a brief time, it was feared that World War III would break out and that the world would be consumed in nuclear fire. When India responded in kind, using three tactical nukes on Pakistani troops over a period of two weeks, fears escalated, and both the Indian and American governments issued a sharp warning to Pakistan: any more nuclear weapons deployed would risk a devastating response in kind. As American troops began pushing against the remnants of the Pakistani forces, and the Indian army continued its assault on the shell-shocked Pakistani forces, Pakistan's government was becoming increasingly desperate. They now faced a revolt from two different elements in the country: opponents of the regime, who blamed their government for harboring AQIP terrorists and who saw the war as an opportunity to take their country back, and extremist elements who wanted Pakistan to deploy its entire nuclear arsenal to wipe out the country's enemies entirely. Conflict was breaking out within the country itself on a number of fronts as the desperate hunt for al-Nur continued. The fact that AQIP continued to launch attacks within Pakistan and against the invading Indian and American forces only added to the chaos. However, in May of 2021, Pakistan's government made a fateful decision that brought the world as close to crisis as it had been since the Cold War, potentially since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Another tactical nuclear strike was launched against an advancing batallion of Indian troops, the second nuclear weapon Pakistan had deployed, and the fifth nuclear weapon deployed thus far in the conflict. Another 30,000 Indian troops were wiped out, and India (and much of the Western World, including America) was furious. Pakistan had been warned against launching another nuclear weapon, and this seemed to have been the provocation that the two countries had warned against. It was now clear that Pakistan was still extremely dangerous and willing to use nuclear weapons to defend its territory and the AQIP terrorists still hiding within, and now all options were on the table, including strikes against civilian targets. For several tense days, heated, secret discussions took place amongst the members of the coalition. India wanted a nuclear strike against Karachi and other cities. Many elements within the United States military wanted it as well. For a few days, the world hung on the brink of an escalating nuclear war. However, ultimately, cooler heads prevailed: Indian leadership and President Kennedy decided that involving civilians in the conflict would constitute an unforgivable war crime, and that Pakistan needed to be defeated militarily, not wiped out completely. Key battles that went in the coalition's favor also turned the tide of discussion toward de-escalation, and ultimately, that Pakistani nuclear strike would be the last nuclear weapon used in the war.

After Kashmir was taken by the Indian military, Indian and American troops, aided by troops from other NATO countries, entered Pakistan itself, prioritizing the capture or killing of AQIP forces. Pakistan's military fought hard, but despite fighting on its own home territory, found itself outnumbered and outmatched in nearly every battle, and it soon became clear that even though the country could certainly hold on for years, the war would devolve into a bloody conflict that would lead to massive amounts of deaths, many of them civilians, and in the end, the Pakistani government realized that keeping AQIP sympathizers happy wasn't worth the loss of the entire country in a devastating war. By the end of 2021, Pakistan was ready to sue for peace, and the war would come to an end with a peace agreement on Christmas Day, 2021. Thousands of AQIP personnel were arrested, while thousands more were killed, including Samir al-Nur himself, who was confirmed killed in an Indian airstrike early that fall. Over the next few years, the remaining members of AQIP would be hunted down as well, becoming pariahs even in their own country. India would take over much of Kashmir, with Pakistan retaining a small portion of the disputed territory, whose borders would finally be defined in a formal treaty that would hopefully prevent any further conflict in the wartorn region. The war saw the deaths of more than 30,000 American troops in just a few short months of fighting, far, far worse than the toll that had been taken in Afghanistan, while India and Pakistan both lost several hundred thousand, along with tens of thousands of civilian casualties caught up in the devastating fighting. The war would see the fall of Pakistan's fundamentalist government, replaced with a reformist government that would be forced to deal with the difficult task of rebuilding the parts of the country that had been devastated by the war, and also dealing with the millions of people with fundamentalist sympathies who felt alienated by their country's defeat. Pakistan would also be forced to dismantle its nuclear arsenal and would have to account for every bit of nuclear material in the country, while India agreed to reduce its own nuclear arsenal significantly. The Pakistan War, as it would be called in the United States, would have a major cultural impact on the world despite not even lasting a full year. It, and the devastating attacks preceding it, were a reminder of the challenges that the world still faced in the 21st Century.

As for the full range of the cultural and political impacts in the United States, the terrorist attack would lead to a series of new laws designed to make further such attacks impossible. The lapses in security that had allowed nuclear material from Pakistan to be smuggled into the country in the first place would be stringently patched, while, as in the aftermath of 9/11, Americans would have to deal with a number of restrictions on their personal freedoms as security at large events was tightened for a significant amount of time. The attacks left more than a thousand Americans dead, while many thousands more would be left dealing with the lingering effects of radiation sickness, while over15,000 cases of cancer would come to be traced back to the incident over the next few decades. The images of that terrible day were seared into Americans' collective memories, and, just as in the aftermath of 9/11, there would be hate crimes directed at members of the Muslim community, with a number of innocent people killed in the aftermath of the attacks. However, President Kennedy, whose approval ratings soared sharply in the aftermath of the event, would come to be seen as a "comforter in chief", bringing much needed healing to the country in a series of speeches that would come to be considered some of the best presidential speeches in American history. His calmness, his imploring of his fellow Americans not to give in to their anger or fear, but to come together and help one another, and trust one another, would be credited with preventing even more hate crimes in the coming days, while his restraint in the war itself, particularly his role in preventing retaliatory nuclear strikes against Pakistan in the aftermath of their second nuclear attack in Kashmir, would be seen as an example of his excellent leadership in a time of terrible crisis. Though he would be criticized by more hawkish figures in the country for not taking a more aggressive stance, particularly as American soldiers began dying in the hundreds daily in some of the war's bloodiest battles, most historians would come to regard him as an excellent wartime president who played a key role in preventing the war itself from escalating into something that could have devastated the entire world. Another element that prevented the war from becoming worse than it did was the fact that Russia and China remained entirely neutral in the conflict. Both countries wanted to see AQIP eliminated, as both had been subjected to at least one attack by AQIP or an AQIP affiliated group over the past decade, and while China didn't like its geopolitical rival India gaining more territory and flexing its military might, it was ultimately happy to see the extremist threat eliminated from its neighbor Pakistan. The war created a refugee crisis, as many thousands fled from Pakistan into India, and this would continue for the next several years, remaining one of the lingering effects of the year-long conflict as India struggled with the issue of how to humanely deal with these refugees, while also balancing the very real threat of potential further terrorist activity. The refugee question would be debated in India for years to come, and would come to define the country's politics in the 2020s in the aftermath of one of the most consequential wars in recent human history.

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Hyper Nintendo Hot Over Strong Holiday Season, Though Gaming's Immediate Future Is Uncertain

The NPD quietly released some of the numbers from last year's holiday season, and though many Americans are still reeling from the tragic events of New Year's Day, last year's gaming sales figures, in conjunction with current online player numbers, reveal that gaming may well bounce back quicker than one might expect, as many dive into their favorite hobby for an escape from world events. The Hyper Nintendo was the best selling console of the holiday period by a significant margin over Apple's Quest, though the Quest also did fairly well, selling briskly over the holiday period thanks to games such as Sonic: The Rings Of Chaos and Flare: Princess Of The Calders. However, it was the Hyper Nintendo which dominated the season, selling almost as well as the Game Boy Zero did last year, and becoming the fastest selling console over the November/December period ever, even surpassing the sales record set by the Ultra Nintendo back in 1997. It does help that Nintendo supplied plenty of Hyper Nintendo units to stores, while the Ultra Nintendo faced a supply crunch that limited its early sales. The Game Boy Zero also did well, especially since it didn't see the same supply issues it saw last year, and was the second best selling gaming hardware device over the holiday sales period, seeing a slight dip in sales from this time last year but still maintaining its strong pace and remaining the fastest selling handheld of all time. Google's Stadia was able to push plenty of hardware was well, with both Stadia boxes and Stadia-capable TV sets selling at a slightly faster pace than last year. Overall, Stadia hardware sales were still behind Apple's Quest, with most people opting to stream Stadia games rather than buying the hardware to download them, but it's estimated that there are now over 10 million Stadia download-capable devices currently in homes, a significant fraction of the platform's overall base. In terms of player numbers, Stadia remains the most played next-gen platform by a significant margin, with more than 100 million people having tried the Stadia platform at least once, and perhaps 60 million regular players overall. That's an incredible figure for a platform so early into its lifespan, and much higher than the market share enjoyed by Apple's G platform, which is being played by about two-thirds the amount of people as the Game Boy Zero. The G platform is generally viewed as a success by Apple, but it's clear that the Game Boy Zero's overwhelming popularity is occurring despite the versatility of Apple's platform, and it's something the company will likely aim to remedy as it moves forward with both of its next generation gaming ecosystems.

We've also gotten an early look as to how the New Year's Day attacks might be affecting the overall gaming environment, as we've received some early digital sales and streaming figures from the days immediately after the attacks. Though gaming time did see a steep dropoff in the two days after the bombing, playtime steadily increased over the rest of the week, with digital sales picking back up as well. With many people seeking to escape the tragic news of the past few weeks, it's no wonder that many would turn to gaming, especially with the release of two popular new consoles. Certain games, such as the military-themed Call Of Duty: Nightfall IV, have seen dramatic increases in sales, while other games such as Fallout 4 have seen sales drop, with that game's advertising being entirely pulled, understandably so considering the radiological weapon used in the bombing. Escapist fare such as Super Mario Adventure 2 and Flare: Princess of the Caldera have also seen increased playtime and sales, and the Apple Quest in particular, with its emphasis on venturing to new worlds through virtual reality, may be poised to see a further increase in sales during this trying time. Though there are clearly many more important things going on than video games at the moment, it's hard to blame people for retreating to their favorite hobbies in a time of crisis, and these early numbers are a good indication that the industry may recover faster than others as the year progresses.

-from a January 26, 2020 article on Gamespot.com

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Top 20 Best Selling Games Of The Year:
(Note: Multiplatform sales are combined. Only console games first released for consoles in 2019 are included. Does not include pack-in and bundle sales. Includes all North American software sales between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.)

1. Mario Kart Zero
2. Call Of Duty: Nightfall IV
3. The Covenant 6
4. Super Mario Adventure 2
5. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
6. Madden NFL 21
7. Sonic: The Rings Of Chaos
8. The Boiling Isles
9. Metroid: Samus Awakens
10. Final Fantasy XV
11. Marvel vs. Capcom vs. DC
12. Quixsters Arena
13. Futureshock 2
14. Leyline
15. Fallout 4
16. Awakened From The Earth
17. Watch Dogs: Legion
18. Blackheart: Love And H8
19. Half-Life: Alyx
20. Genshin Impact

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MTV Video Game Awards 2020:

Game Of The Year:

The Boiling Isles
Call Of Duty: Nightfall IV
The Covenant 6
Metroid: Samus Awakens
Super Mario Adventure 2

Handheld/Mobile Game Of The Year:

Call Of Duty: Warzone
Genshin Impact
Mario Kart Zero
Strikeback: The Cloying Pod
Velvet Dark Artifice

Indie Game Of The Year:

Call Of The Sea
Cloudpunk
CrossCode
Death And Taxes 2
Ebullience

Action/Adventure Game Of The Year:

Futureshock 2
Leyline
Metroid: Samus Awakens
Sonic: The Rings Of Chaos
Super Mario Adventure 2

Epic Game Of The Year:

The Boiling Isles
Beyond The Rainbow
Fallout 4
Final Fantasy XV
Mega Man Destiny

Sports Game Of The Year:

Madden NFL 21
Mario Golf: Grand Tour
NBA Elite 21
NHL 2021
Stadia Olympics: Barcelona 2020

Shooter Of The Year:

Bloodlust
Call Of Duty: Nightfall IV
The Covenant 6
Dead Midnight
Half-Life: Alyx

Best Graphics:

Call Of Duty: Nightfall IV
Ecco Evolution
Futureshock 2
Super Mario Adventure 2
Wolfenstein III: The Black Bunker

Best Soundtrack:

Beyond The Rainbow
Call Of Duty: Nightfall IV
Final Fantasy XV
Leyline
Super Mario Adventure 2

Best Storyline:

The Boiling Isles
Call Of Duty; Nightfall IV
The Covenant 6
Futureshock 2
Lesser Pill

Best Original Game

Ben Breaks The World
Bloodlust
The Boiling Isles
Lesser Pill
Leyline

Best Licensed Game

Alien: Escape
Dragonball Z: Kakarot
Kazugeki: Ultimate Hunter 3
Marvel vs. Capcom vs. DC
Star Wars: Droid

Best Online Game:

Genshin Impact
Pixel Quest
Quixsters Arena
Star Wars: Droid
Strikeback: The Cloying Pod

Best New Character:

Amity Blight (The Boiling Isles)
Chuck Robbins (Fallout 4)
David Colworth (Call Of Duty: Nightfall IV)
Genji (Final Fantasy XV)
Kage (Leyline)

Most Improved Sequel:

The Covenant 6
Ecco Evolution
Kazugeki: Ultimate Hunter 3
Kingdom Quest V
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Best Voice Performance:

Ashly Burch as Samus Aran (Metroid: Samus Awakens)
Chuck Norris as Chuck Robbins (Fallout 4)
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Motai (Futureshock 2)
Mae Whitman as Amity Blight (The Boiling Isles)
Norman Reedus as Jake (Awakened From The Earth)

Game Company Of The Year:

Capcom
Electronic Arts
Nintendo
Pyramid
Ubisoft

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Games Over Matter Awards 2020:

Game Of The Year:

1. Super Mario Adventure 2
2. The Boiling Isles
3. Metroid: Samus Awakens
4. Final Fantasy XV
5. Ebullience

Best Graphics:

1. Super Mario Adventure 2
2. Final Fantasy XV
3. The Covenant 6
4. Futureshock 2
5. Star Wars: Droid

Best Sound:

1. Final Fantasy XV
2. Metroid: Samus Awakens
3. Super Mario Adventure 2
4. Fallout 4
5. Leyline

Best Gameplay:

1. Super Mario Adventure 2
2. Metroid: Samus Awakens
3. Leyline
4. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
5. The Boiling Isles

Best Thematics:

1. Metroid: Samus Awakens
2. The Boiling Isles
3. Final Fantasy XV
4. Ebullience
5. Beyond The Rainbow

Most Innovative:

1. Ben Breaks The World
2. Mercurun
3. Ebullience
4. Pixel Quest
5. Pigman

Best Multiplayer:

1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
2. Star Wars: Droid
3. Resident Evil: Zone Of Alienation
4. Stunt Race VR
5. Super Mario Bros. 35

Best New Character:

1. Rena (Ebullience)
2. Lyla (Fallout 4)
3. Amity Blight (The Boiling Isles)
4. Queen Xanadae (Final Fantasy XV)
5. Etsuko (Leyline)

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The January 2021 Nintendo Direct was significant for several reasons. It would be the first major video game reveal event since the New Year's Day attacks, and though Nintendo was somewhat muted in some of their announcements, wanting to be as sensitive as possible just over three weeks since the attacks, there was also a sense of wanting a return to normalcy, and to bring some good news to people who'd been inundated in nothing but tragedy since that day's events. It would also see the introduction of the new head of Nintendo of America: former Activision executive Jennifer Oneal, who was previously employed at that company as its head of marketing and creative development since 2016. This marks a significant milestone for Nintendo: Oneal becomes the first woman, the first Asian-American, and the first member of the LGBTQ community to lead Nintendo's American division, and this was a highly unexpected move, as Nintendo has normally been seen as a very conservative company. However, Nintendo's American division has been somewhat bolder in terms of personnel hires over its history, with Gail Tilden notably working as advertising manager for the company and being one of the key figures behind the birth of Nintendo Power and the introduction of the NES to the West, so the hiring of Oneal, while unexpected, is not entirely shocking. Oneal appeared in the Nintendo Direct alongside outgoing company president Katsuya Eguchi, who is expected to be succeeded as president of Nintendo by Yoshiaki Koizumi next month. This Nintendo Direct also gave us more surprise announcements than any in recent memory, as new installments in the Mario, Zelda, and Metroid series were all announced for the Game Boy Zero, while we'll also be getting Gran Turismo Hyper later this year for the Hyper Nintendo, along with a brand new Pokemon Stadium game, Pokemon Stadium Challenge. The new Game Boy Zero Mario game is called Super Mario Bros. Zero, and will be a brand new sidescrolling platformer installment in the series that will take elements from the first three Super Mario Bros. titles and combine them into an epic adventure that sees Mario and Luigi venturing across nine worlds to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser's clutches. Players will be able to play with up to three other people, who can control Wario and Daisy in addition to Mario and Luigi, making Daisy playable in a Mario Bros. game for the first time. The Zelda title is a fully 3-D adventure and a follow-up to Majora's Mask, called The Legend Of Zelda: Majora's Hollowing. It will see a brand new terror rise in the land of Termina, and Link, now joined by Zelda, must bear a set of brand new masks in order to stop it. The upcoming Metroid tltle, Metroid Intrusion, is a game styled after the classic Super Metroid-esque adventure platformers of the series, though it will feature fully 3-D graphics, and will have Samus descend into an underground laboratory taken over by a deadly AI menace. Samus will need to integrate computer code into her own systems to combat the AI, and the game looks to introduce the elements of hacking into the series for the first time, perhaps a sign of the influence of series such as Cyberwar. We only got a teaser for Gran Turismo Hyper (which is likely a 2022 release), but Pokemon Stadium Challenge is coming later this year, and it looks to provide a lifelike Pokemon battle experience for the first time, with battles playing out in full 3-D like the ones we saw in the show, and full commentary and analysis on matches, with the presentation resembling something you might see on Sunday Night Football. You'll be able to import your own Pokemon from the mainline games, or train up Pokemon in Stadium Challenge itself. There doesn't look to be a single player campaign, and the focus here seems to be giving players a dramatic and lifelike way to battle their Pokemon, with the potential that this could become an e-sports platform as well.

While other games were shown off, including third parties and a few smaller exclusives, and we got more footage from the upcoming Squad Four Academy as well as a teaser for an exclusive Metal Gear game, these were the top five announcements of the show, and they all looked excellent. Four of these games are expected to come later this year, so we know the Game Boy Zero will be having a huge year, while the Hyper Nintendo also looks quite strong with Pokemon Stadium Challenge and a new Squad Four game on the way. The Direct definitely worked as a nice break from all the terrible news as of late, and it's good to know we'll still have plenty of great games to look forward to as we head into a challenging 2021.

-from a January 21, 2021 post on Super Nintendo CD Chalmers' Nintendo blog

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Other Awards:

IGN (Editor Top 10):

1. Super Mario Adventure 2
2. Metroid: Samus Awakens
3. The Boiling Isles
4. Leyline
5. Genshin Impact
6. Futureshock 2
7. Pixel Quest
8. Flare: Princess Of The Caldera
9. Ebullience
10. Final Fantasy XV

Edge (Game Of The Year- Editors' Choice):

Metroid: Samus Awakens

Famitsu (Game Of The Year- Readers' Choice):

Final Fantasy XV

Sylph (Editors' Choice Top 5 Games Of 2020):

1. The Boiling Isles
2. Metroid: Samus Awakens
3. Flare: Princess Of The Caldera
4. Awakened From The Earth
5. Final Fantasy XV

Destructoid (Top 10 Games Of 2020):

1. Super Mario Adventure 2
2. Awakened From The Earth
3. Futureshock 2
4. Star Wars: Droid
5. Ebullience
6. Leyline
7. Half-Life: Alyx
8. Pixel Quest
9. NHL 2021
10. Mercurun

PowerGamer (Top 5 Of 2020):

1. Leyline
2. Call Of Duty: Nightfall IV
3. Metroid: Samus Awakens
4. Super Mario Adventure 2
5. Wolfenstein III: The Black Bunker

Eurogamer (Game Of The Year 2020):

Metroid: Samus Awakens

Ars Technica (Top 20 Of 2020):

1. Ebullience
2. Pixel Quest
3. Super Mario Adventure 2
4. Leyline
5. The Boiling Isles
6. Metroid: Samus Awakens
7. Stadia Flight Simulator
8. Ben Breaks The World
9. Ecco Evolution
10. Velvet Dark Artifice
11. Flare: Princess Of The Caldera
12. Futureshock 2
13. Star Wars: Droid
14. Call Of The Sea
15. Mercurun
16. Panzer Dragoon Delta
17. Castlevania: The Awakened Symphony
18. Awakened From The Earth
19. Stunt Race VR
20. Super Mario Bros. 35

GameTV (Top 10 Of 2020):

1. Super Mario Adventure 2
2. Metroid: Samus Awakens
3. The Boiling Isles
4. Star Wars: Droid
5. Futureshock 2
6. Call Of The Sea
7. Bloodlust
8. Sonic: The Rings Of Chaos
9. Castlevania: The Awakened Symphony
10. Fallout 4

BAFTA Game Awards:

Game Of The Year: Super Mario Adventure 2
British Game Of The Year: Ben Breaks The World
Action/Adventure:Super Mario Adventure 2
Artistic Achievement: Ebullience
Audio Achievement: Metroid: Samus Awakens
Debut Game: Ebullience
Family Game: Mario Kart Zero
Game Design: Super Mario Adventure 2
Innovation: Pixel Quest
Mobile/Handheld: Mario Kart Zero
Multiplayer: Pixel Quest
Original Music: Super Mario Adventure 2
Performer: Josh Keaton as Ben Brochner in Ben Breaks The World
Sports Game: Stadia Olympics: Barcelona 2020
Story: Call Of The Sea
Strategy/Simulation: Fruit Market

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Google Glass Launches Nationwide To Brisk Sales

The Google Glass, Google's new device intended to be worn like a pair of glasses that promises to merge smartphone-like functionality with augmented reality launched nationwide today in both electronics and mobile stores, and early indicators show that the launch will meet Google's sales expectations despite initial skepticism and Google's decision not to delay the launch in the aftermath of the New Year's Day attacks. The Glass, which retails for $199.99 in the base model (an augmented pair of sunglasses or eyeglasses, or a VR google attachment), is the company's latest foray into the growing trend of "augmented reality" devices that can enhance how the average person views the everyday world. While these devices have gradually made their way into cars and other vehicles over the past few years, and have been part of mobile phones since smartphones first hit the market, a standalone AR device that can work in conjunction with the user's other devices or can be worn on its own has not yet been released by a major company. The Google Glass is more than a decade in the making, going through numerous iterations and scrapping numerous designs, including a controversial plan to include a camera with each unit, raising privacy concerns. Google ultimately scrapped this and decided to focus their device on accessing information rather than gathering it, enabling users to bring up a transparent heads-up display that can, for example, display the weather, flash breaking news stories, and even translate speech in real time (this functionality is still evolving, and is far from perfect, but most reviewers agree that it's quite impressive in what it can do thus far). The VR-enabled Glass is intended for use with the Google Stadia to enhance the user's heads-up display during online gameplay, allowing for real-time hints and stats to be displayed that will give players a competitive edge. More expensive Glass models, with more memory and processing power, have also been released, though so far, the base model is proving most popular. Google promises "constant" updates to improve the Glass' functionality, and that the device will never require a subscription, though individual companies can choose to require subscriptions for their services. Google's stock climbed sharply upon news of the Glass' successful release, and Google has been one of the best performers in the stock market, which has declined 20% in the aftermath of the New Year's attacks, with sharp losses across the board. While most of these companies are expected to recover in the weeks and months ahead, Google's share price is currently above its pre-1/1 figure, and was up more than 2 percent today as Glass sales continue to remain strong. The company remains the world's most valuable technology company, ahead of titans such as Microsoft and Lycos, and the company's prospects remain strong, with subscriptions to Google's Stadia gaming service continuing to increase despite successful product releases by its competitors Nintendo and Apple.

-from a Yahoo! News article posted on January 23, 2021

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DICE Awards 2020:

Game Of The Year:

Ben Breaks The World
The Boiling Isles
Metroid: Samus Awakens
Star Wars: Droid
Super Mario Adventure 2

Action Game Of The Year:

Ben Breaks The World
The Covenant 6
Lesser Pill
Mercurun
Super Mario Adventure 2

Adventure Game Of The Year:

Awakened From The Earth
Castlevania: The Awakened Symphony
Ebullience
Leyline
Metroid: Samus Awakens

Family Game Of The Year:

Just Dance Revolution 2021
Mario Kart Zero
Pixel Quest
Stunt Race VR
Super Mario Adventure 2

Online Game Of The Year:

Crater Settlement 2
Fruit Market
Pixel Quest
Star Wars: Droid
Strikeback: The Cloying Pod

Portable Game Of The Year:

Fairytale Imperia
Genshin Impact
Mario Kart Zero
Panzer Dragoon Delta
Strikeback: The Cloying Pod

Racing Game Of The Year:

Australian Rally 3
F1 2021
Forza Stadia 2
Mario Kart Zero
Stunt Race VR

Role Playing Game Of The Year:

Beyond The Rainbow
The Boiling Isles
Fallout 4
Final Fantasy XV
Star Wars: Droid

Strategy/Simulation Game Of The Year:

Civil War Simulator
Crater Settlement 2
Fruit Market
Stadia Flight Simulator
Summit: The Roof Of The World

Sports Game Of The Year:

FIFA 21
Madden NFL 21
NBA Elite 21
NHL 2021
Stadia Olympics: Barcelona 2020

Fighting Game Of The Year:

Fighter Maker M10
Marvel vs. Capcom vs. DC
Raigeki: The Forgotten Princess
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Way Of The Fist IV

Outstanding Art Direction:

Awakened From The Earth
The Boiling Isles
Ebullience
Leyline
Metroid: Samus Awakens

Outstanding Character Creation:

Amity Blight (The Boiling Isles)
Ben Brochner (Ben Breaks The World)
Rena (Ebullience)
Rick Wilton (Awakened From The Earth)
Stacie Avarest (Lesser Pill)

Outstanding Character Performance:

Kaiji Tang as Genji Sakarada (Final Fantasy XV)
Kelly Marie Tran as Nimea (Futureshock 2)
Mae Whitman as Amity Blight (The Boiling Isles)
Norman Reedus as Rick Wilton (Awakened From The Earth)
Rose Emma Darlington as Rena (Ebullience)

Outstanding Animation:

Beyond The Rainbow
The Boiling Isles
Castlevania: The Awakened Symphony
Flare: Princess Of The Caldera
Super Mario Adventure 2

Outstanding Game Design:

Ben Breaks The World
The Boiling Isles
Leyline
Metroid: Samus Awakens
Super Mario Adventure 2

Outstanding Game Direction:

The Boiling Isles
Final Fantasy XV
Futureshock 2
Leyline
Metroid: Samus Awakens

Outstanding Innovation:

Ben Breaks The World
The Boiling Isles
Fruit Market
Pixel Quest
Watch Dogs: Legion

Outstanding Online Gameplay:

Dive In
Pixel Quest
Quixsters Arena
Stadia Flight Simulator
Star Wars: Droid

Outstanding Original Music:

The Boiling Isles
Final Fantasy XV
Mercurun
Sonic: The Rings Of Chaos
Super Mario Adventure 2

Outstanding Audio Design:

Awakened From The Earth
The Boiling Isles
The Covenant 6
Leyline
Metroid: Samus Awakens

Outstanding Story:

Awakened From The Earth
Ben Breaks The World
Call Of The Sea
Futureshock 2
Leyline

Outstanding Technical Achievement:

Final Fantasy XV
Futureshock 2
Metroid: Samus Awakens
Stadia Flight Simulator
Watch Dogs: Legion

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Top Rated Games Of 2020 (Metacritic)
(NOTE: Only games with a Metacritic rating of 90 or above. Only newly released games or full remakes are included, no remasters. If more than one version of a game is released, the top rated version will be shown here.)

Super Mario Adventure 2: 97
Metroid: Samus Awakens: 95
The Boiling Isles: 94
Pixel Quest: 94
Ebullience: 94
Stadia Flight Simulator: 93
Futureshock 2: 93
Flare: Princess Of The Caldera: 93
Leyline: 92
Star Wars: Droid: 92
Castlevania: The Awakened Symphony: 91
Panzer Dragoon Delta: 91
Final Fantasy XV: 91
Beyond The Rainbow: 90
Mercurun: 90
Velvet Dark Artifice: 90
Lesser Pill: 90
Mario Kart Zero: 90
The Covenant 6: 90
Fallout 4: 90
Call Of The Sea: 90
Sonic: The Rings Of Chaos: 90
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: 90
Wolfenstein III: The Black Bunker: 90

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January 14, 2021

Steve Jobs was ready to go.

He didn't want to go, of course... he'd done so much in his life already, but he still knew he had more he could have done with more time. He'd given the world the Macintosh, the iPod, the iPhone, and, what he hoped would be his fourth great industry changing innovation, the Apple Quest... and one of his biggest regrets was that he wouldn't be around to see just how much his Quest would change the world as the other great innovations had done.

All the TVs in his home had been turned off... the last two weeks had been nothing but bad news, and he didn't want to see it. He felt guilty that he'd be contributing.

He was laying in bed, surrounded by his closest loved ones... his wife, his children, his sisters, all knowing it would be the last time they'd get to spend with him, and all bringing him comfort in his final moments. The drugs took most of the pain away, but not all of it, and he felt a lingering ache in much of his cancer-ravaged body. Just as they had done for him a decade ago, his doctors had tried to save him, but this time they'd failed, and he'd known it would be the end for a couple of months now. He'd known it would be the end even when the Quest was released.

His loved ones expressed their love to him as best they could, holding his hands, telling him what they loved about him, and trying to hold back their tears, but in some cases failing.

Steve Jobs was proud of the work he'd done, but he wished he could've done more.

Nine years before, he'd felt something come over him, something that at first he hadn't been able to pinpoint, but now he knew. It was the death he'd avoided thanks to his successful treatments... in another world, he'd gone sooner, accomplished less, had less time. He knew in still other worlds, he'd have gotten many years more. That feeling was coming over him again, and he reached out, toward one of his children, who took his hand and held it tight.

"Take... care of it..." Jobs whispered, looking around the room at as many people as he could. He felt darkness intruding, and his hand slipped away, falling back down to the blanket.

What had he meant, in his final moment of consciousness? Take care of the world? Take care of his legacy? Even his family would never be truly sure... but it would still be a message they'd impart to as many people as they could in the coming months and years.

Steve Jobs had given the world so much, and it was up to those who knew him to take care of the world he left behind, and the gifts he'd worked to bestow upon it.

After he closed his eyes that final time, he never woke up. His family watched him depart the world at 8:05 PM, Pacific time, on January 14, 2021.

And shortly afterward, the world would learn of what they'd lost.

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STEVE JOBS DEAD AT 65

Steve Jobs, co-founder of the technology company Apple and the brains behind some of the most innovative tech devices of the past 50 years, died peacefully at his home earlier this evening, according to a statement just released by his family. He died of complications of pancreatic cancer, which he had previously survived but which came back in 2018, and which he'd been battling over the past two years. Jobs leaves behind a wife and four children, and a legacy of innovation that continues to shape our modern world today. Jobs' contributions extend far beyond computers, to the telecom industry, the information technology industry, and even the world of video games, an industry Jobs had been highly involved in since Apple's purchase of Sega's gaming properties back in 2003.

-from an excerpt of the AP News report on Steve Jobs' death, released on January 14, 2021

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Katie Couric: People around the world, already reeling from the devastating terrorist attacks two weeks ago, are now in mourning again due to the loss of such a monumental icon.

Brian Williams: I think this is something that will add to the feeling of loss after the New Year's Day attacks, obviously this is the death of just one man, but his impact has been felt worldwide, more than a billion people have used an Apple product at one point or another, so yes, while this is not as visceral or shocking a loss as what was experienced on New Year's, this is going to add to the sense of sadness that people are feeling right now, to lose someone who has had such an impact in so many lives.

Couric: And even though it's quite late, you can already see mourners gathered at Apple headquarters right now, laying down flowers in memory of Steve Jobs, some have even left iPod devices, which, certainly a sign of just how much admiration people had for this man and what he's created.

Williams: And the loss felt in so many industries, you know Apple just released a video game console a couple months back, a virtual reality device that Jobs had a major role in creating.

*Footage is shown of Steve Jobs demonstrating the Apple Quest and playing Pixel Quest at E3 2020.*

Williams: So now, to lose him just two months after creating such an innovative gaming device, I think, with that so fresh in people's minds... people feel like they knew Steve Jobs, he's been so public in promoting his creations and putting his face on everything Apple the company has done, so he was fresh in people's minds even in the weeks leading up to his death, which adds to the sense of sadness that people are feeling.

Couric: He actually released a statement shortly after the New Year's attacks, from his hospice bed at home, and expressed a lot of sadness that the world was still such a violent place, that he'd always hoped what he created would bring people together, and that there's still a lot of work that needs to be done, and, you know, I think he was sad that he wouldn't get to keep contributing to what he saw was a mission to bring us all together through technology. in that statement, he also said that it would be up to young people to keep working toward bringing the world together, so I do think he saw that there would be people to continue his work, but there was also a lot of sadness there and I really think he believed there was more to do, like his work wasn't done.

Williams: When you're someone who works as hard as Steve Jobs did, I think the feeling is that there's always more that can be done.

-from the NBC News Special Report on the death of Steve Jobs, at 11:27 PM EST on January 14, 2021

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"Everyone at Nintendo is mourning the passing of Steve Jobs, who brought as much dedication and innovation to video games as he did to every other aspect of his work. His brilliant mind and competitive drive did a great deal to advance video games as both a technological medium and an art form, and his work at Apple helped inspire and push those of us at Nintendo to innovate as much as he did. We will all miss Steve Jobs, and we wish the best for his friends and family at this time."
-translated from a statement by outgoing Nintendo president Katsuya Eguchi on the death of Steve Jobs, on January 15, 2021

"Steve was a great boss and a great friend. He always had such brilliant ideas for how to make games more fun, more exciting, more real, and he was a definite inspiration for me. I'm grateful for the opportunity he helped give me, and I'm glad to be able to continue his work. I'll miss you, buddy."
-John Carmack, in a statement shortly after Steve Jobs' death, January 15, 2021

"Steve was one of the tech industry's titans, and his loss leaves a void that can never be filled. He took gaming to the next level, and he's one of the big reasons why Google made such a strong push into the industry, because he showed how it could be done and done successfully. He'll be missed by anyone who ever got a great new idea, and by the billions of people whose lives have been improved tremendously by those who brought their great ideas to life."
-Google gaming head Eric Bright on the death of Steve Jobs, in a statement made on January 15, 2021

"There were times when Steve and I didn't see eye to eye, but that's true with anyone in this industry, and what I'll remember him as more than anything else was a mentor, teaching me how to think big and to be bold when doing so. He helped me navigate the ins and outs of this business like no one else, and his ideas carry over to so many other industries, so even after leaving gaming, I was able to be successful elsewhere because of what I learned from him. We actually talked shortly before he passed, and I'm so glad I got the opportunity to do so, because it really helped to clear the air between us, and he said something that's going to stick with me for a long time. He said, 'Reggie, people always remember the failures, but if you want them to remember the successes, you have to succeed in a way no one's ever succeeded before. It's got to be unique, it's got to linger, it's got to be something that sticks with people in such a way that they won't even worry about the times you failed because they're still benefitting from the success'. Even with the way my time at Apple ended, he said he still remembered how well the company did when he first got into the industry, and then he thanked me for giving him a chance to make games. Now, the way I see it, he could have gotten rid of me as soon as he came in, but he didn't, and he remembered our time working together, and that meant a lot, hearing it from him. He's the one who gave me a chance to innovate with him, and I'll never forget it. I remember waiting to see what he'd come up with next, and I'm going to miss never getting to have that feeling again."
-Reggie Fils-Aime, in a statement made shortly after Steve Jobs' death, on January 16, 2021

"But it was games that brought us back together. I don't think I've ever seen him happier than when we were working on games together. I think the reason he survived the first bout with cancer was because he was doing something he truly loved. I dunno, I dunno if it was games but... when we were working on the Virtua, it was like we were back working on that original Apple computer. I hadn't felt something like that in almost 40 years. For all the disagreements we had, you know, I still enjoyed working with him. He wasn't perfect, but he was a good friend, and I'm going to miss him a whole hell of a lot."
-Steve Wozniak, January 15, 2021

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THE END

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(Author's Note: Of course, this is NOT the final end! It IS the end of the timeline proper, but there WILL be a pretty sizable epilogue post detailing 2021 in gaming, the decade beyond, and a whole bunch of ending posts for the various players and figures of the timeline. If there's something you'd like me to consider touching on in the epilogue, feel free to let me know, I can't promise anything, it's more of a reminder in case I forget something I wanted to include, but still let me know what you'd like to see. I don't know when the epilogue will be posted, but it SHOULD be no more than a week or two. Again, no promises, if something happens or I get sidetracked it could be longer, but I'm hoping to have it up ASAP. I want to thank everyone who's read the timeline and contributed and everything else, this wouldn't have been possible without all of you! I'll have a more heartfelt and lengthy goodbye post at the end of the epilogue, but I did want to give some thanks before then, since we're truly so close to the end now, just the epilogue and then this epic work will finally be complete! I truly hope you've enjoyed the timeline, and I hope the epilogue will live up to everything else that's been posted so far.)
 
So, this is it. The canonical end to the saga.

Between the aftermath of the New Years Day bombings, the January 2021 Nintendo Direct, the launch of the Google Glass, and the death of Steve Jobs, I couldn't think of a better way to go out on if we don't count the epilogue post.

However, there are some things I'd like to add in said epilogues.

-Kids Networks in the 2020s
-Sony splitting from Nintendo's hardware division and devoting more time to software.
-Polly Klaas

And that's about it. Godspeed, sir.
 
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That was one hell of a ride. The war makes me glad I live in OTL as someone in the service. Glad the conflict didn't escalate to WWIII, but nuclear weapons are always pretty horrifying. It's something I hope the world never revisits.
 
This has been one hell of a alternate timeline. My favorite one to date and I would be glad to read it all over again starting From Player Two Start
 
This has been a great TL, probably one of a kind that has never been done before ! It deserve all kind of awards and certainly a nomination for the writers for the honorific turtledove award
 
This TL is one of the all time greats on the site, IMO - possibly, one of the best alternate history works ever, period - on par with published ones.
 
This TL is one of the all time greats on the site, IMO - possibly, one of the best alternate history works ever, period - on par with published ones.
Thanks for the flowers, dunno if that near to the legendary Decades of Darkness(for me, maybe the best alternate history done here), or A world of laugthers a World of tears(that TL broke my HSQ with each update), but thanks
 
For epilogues, can there be an update on anime and manga, especially after the Kadokawa Massacre?

I also think there should be an epilogue update on comic movies and comic books as well.
 
(Author's Note: Of course, this is NOT the final end! It IS the end of the timeline proper, but there WILL be a pretty sizable epilogue post detailing 2021 in gaming, the decade beyond, and a whole bunch of ending posts for the various players and figures of the timeline. If there's something you'd like me to consider touching on in the epilogue, feel free to let me know, I can't promise anything, it's more of a reminder in case I forget something I wanted to include, but still let me know what you'd like to see. I don't know when the epilogue will be posted, but it SHOULD be no more than a week or two. Again, no promises, if something happens or I get sidetracked it could be longer, but I'm hoping to have it up ASAP. I want to thank everyone who's read the timeline and contributed and everything else, this wouldn't have been possible without all of you! I'll have a more heartfelt and lengthy goodbye post at the end of the epilogue, but I did want to give some thanks before then, since we're truly so close to the end now, just the epilogue and then this epic work will finally be complete! I truly hope you've enjoyed the timeline, and I hope the epilogue will live up to everything else that's been posted so far.)

You're more than welcome! It's been great to see what could have been over thirty or so years, and it's one of a handful of timelines here that caused me to finally get myself an account almost four anr a half years ago.

2021 is probably remembered across the board as a terrible year in both the USA and on the Indian subcontinent, with the Pakistan War and Steve Jobs and all that, but it's a year and a world not at all without hope, that's for sure.

I'l probably DM you and Nivek some stuff in the coming days for some stuff I wouldn't mind seeing in the lengthy epilogue and/or the "where are they now" bits, and I'll make a concerted effort not to go overboard there. :)

It's been a great ride, and once again I'm glad to have been a part of it.
 
Over 25 years of video gaming, pop culture, and political butterflies.

Over 8 real-life years of near-continuous updates.

And now, one of THE defining pop-culture TLs comes to its formal end.

I'm proud to have followed this TL from the very start - going back to when I was a mere anonymous lurker on this site. Congrats to @RySenkari and @Nivek (and the other users who contributed ideas) for producing this outstanding work. You've earned it.
 
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