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Gaming: The Walking Dead saga ending; Castlevania, Contra, Gradius bundles coming; more

By Benjamin Bullard
Clementine in The Walking Dead: The Final Season

The last mile of a long and turbulent journey — both on and off the screen — will come to an end next week when the final episode of The Walking Dead: The Final Season takes the last step to close out the former Telltale Games series.

“Take Us Back,” the fourth and concluding piece of episodic content for the critically acclaimed but troubled game, will test protagonist Clementine as she leads her community of lost children through a gauntlet of undead dangers toward safety.

Skybound Games, which has handled development since original game maker Telltale went out of business last fall, released the launch trailer with the promise of “an explosive cliffhanger before the finale.”

“In the aftermath of an explosive mission, fire, chaos, the living and the dead” stand between Clementine and the end of the children’s journey, teases Skybound. “Can Clementine be the savior they need? Her story comes to a dramatic and heart-wrenching climax in this final episode. The night will be over soon …”

“Take Us Back” arrives to put a bittersweet bow on The Walking Dead: The Final Season on March 26, and it’s available for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC.

If nostalgia is one of gaming’s biggest hot spots, there’s no one better positioned than Konami to get in on the craze of making old things new again.

It’s hard to believe, but Konami is celebrating half a century in business this year, and it’s inviting players to its 50th birthday party by releasing a killer lineup of early gaming classics that’ve been primed to play on current-gen hardware.

Via Twitter, the company (which began life in 1969 as a coin-slot supplier of jukeboxes and early arcade games) revealed a trio of game bundles heading to consoles and PC this year. And if you love 2D classics like Castelvania, Gradius, and Contra, then there’s a solid chance you won’t be able to pick just one.

Arcade Classics lines up a slew of 1980s faves, including Gradius, Gradius 2, Haunted Castle, A-Jax, and more. Then there’s the Castlevania: Anniversary Collection, which throws together the first four Castlevania games spanning the early NES and Super Nintendo eras — plus four more titles yet to be revealed. Finally, there’s the Contra Anniversary Collection, which packs in the arcade versions of Contra and Super Contra, plus Super C for the NES and Contra 3: The Alien Wars for the Super NES — in addition to four more games that haven’t been announced.

Only slightly disappointing is the fact that all three bundles have been announced as digital-only packages (so far), but thankfully they’re coming to all three current-gen consoles, as well as the Steam store. The Arcade Classics collection is first in line, and it’s scheduled for an April 18 release, with the other two bundles following sometime in early summer.

It wasn’t so very long ago that Netflix confessed it fears competing with Fortnite more than it fears going head to head with other streaming services. But Fortnite maker Epic Games apparently isn’t looking to pick a battle royale fight with Netflix — or anyone else.

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney told The Hollywood Reporter his company doesn’t worry about what anyone else is doing to attract an audience. “We don’t stress about those things,” he said. “We build a fun game and add new stuff to it every week, and I think it’s up to everyone to come up with a healthy balance of their time between all the different things that entertain them. I’m tickled that so many people come back to Fortnite so frequently.”

With a reported 250 million user accounts (and climbing) since it first debuted in July of 2017, Fortnite has shown no sign of fading, and Sweeney believes it’s among a new breed of games that could have an indefinite shelf life. If so, at least it’s a good thing the base game is totally free to play. Check out the world’s most popular game — if you haven’t yet — on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, or MacOS.

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