Cornelius, The Pooka Prince
"Little Pooka"
"Noble Prince of Titania"



Cornelius, The Pooka Prince, is the main character of the second book in Odin Sphere. Cornelius' book is probably my favorite in the game, partly due to the plot twists and Cornelius' ambition, but mostly due to how amusing he is to play as. Cornelius is an absolute combo-fiend, with a plethora of ways to control enemies and move around the map. Cornelius wields the powerful "Psypher Sword", is adept in lightning magic, and is a very proficient spinner. I'm talking duodecuple 
back flips. He spins a lot. As you can see, Cornelius is a small rabbit-like creature, which is a part of his book's story line, but I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't played. I will say however, Corenlius' story takes place before Gwendolyn's, which is all part of the story of Odin Sphere's charm. Despite taking place before Gwendolyn's story, the difficulty is taken up a notch, introducing a few new mechanics and more enemies.

Like I said, Cornelius loves to spin, and it's honestly his biggest asset. Cornelius is the most mobile of the 5 main heroes, with the majority of his POW abilities sending him spinning like a top, on top of his normal combo attacks which involve a lot of movement as well. I think his kit allows him the unique strength of separating enemies from one another when needed, and dispatching them quickly, or grouping them all up for easy combos and a massive chain. When Cornelius isn't trying to be a Beyblade, he is capable of some really strong lightning magic. In Odin Sphere, lightning magic has the added effect of "dizzying" enemies, allowing Cornelius to follow up with even more damage while his enemies are stunned. Another similarity to Gwendolyn, Cornelius has a very good balance of POW abilities, and PP magic, allowing you to budget resources pretty efficiently. If you haven't yet, please check out my Gwendolyn guide! One very cool thing to note about Cornelius is his ability to slam his opponents against the edge of the screen, allowing him to line up a follow up. I demonstrate this among other things in an early combo video -







POW ACTIVES



Spiral Claw -  Probably Cornelius' best ability. Cornelius acts as a drill, spinning with incredible force. While Cornelius is spinning players can angle themselves up or down as well, to carry enemies wherever they see fit. Spiral Claw is not only great for getting a high chain and doing decent damage, it also allows you to carry a specific enemy or enemies high into the air to be dealt with solo. Cornelius' bread & butter, keep it equipped and upgraded for sure.

Whirling Blade - Another ability I definitely recommend utilizing throughout your play-through, thanks to it's many uses. Whirling Blade is great at gathering up enemies on the ground, sucking them into a spinning Cornelius. Not only does Whirling Blade do great AOE damage and earn a high chain, but at the end of Whirling Blade all enemies are ejected from the vortex and slammed into the wall, allowing a follow up. Whirling Blade can also reflect projectiles. Lastly, Whirling Blade CAN be used in the air, but Cornelius will quickly descend. This ability has a lot of uses, and I recommend leveling it up early.

Streak Slash - Utilized in the exact same way that Gwendolyn's Beak Drive is, Streak Slash is used to reposition. Streak Slash allows Cornelius to avoid frontal boss attacks and slip behind them to continue a combo. Not to mention Streak Slash is visually stunning.


MAGIC


Spark Bolt - The first spell Cornelius learns, and one of his best. Cornelius fires a small electric bolt that damages and stuns enemies in a small area in front of him. Spark Bolt isn't flashy and it doesn't do a ton of damage, but for just a small amount of PP it can stun, which is a huge advantage for obvious reasons and works in tandem with some of Cornelius' passives.

Plasma Circle - Another ability with a ton of uses. Plasma Circle surrounds Cornelius in 3 lightning orbs that do damage, stun enemies, reflect certain projectiles and passively keep your chain going. I highly recommend constantly keeping Plasma Circle up for boss fights and other challenging combat rooms. It's too good to not! Plasma Circle also has the unique effect of keeping enemies within it's circle when they should get knocked back, allowing for even more combos.

Lightning Saber - Cornelius' flashiest ability. Lightning Saber allows Cornelius to warp around at breakneck speeds leaving a lightning trail in place of his dash attack, while all of his attacks have lightning orbs added on to them. I wouldn't call Lightning Saber a necessity due to it's high resource cost and low damage, but it's worth noting it's possibilities. Lightning Saber is a ton of fun and makes clearing out easier rooms flashy and borderline funny.

Caladbolg - Cornelius' ultimate ability. Very similar to Gwendolyn's in both use and style, Cornelius launches a cinematic flurry of lightning charged sword slashes, dealing heavy damage to all VISIBLE enemies. So unlike Gwendolyn's, it will only do damage to the enemies on the screen, not in the entire zone. Caladbolg is great for finishing off a group of troublesome enemies quickly and easily.

Passives

Assault High - Allows Cornelius to deal more damage based off of how high his current chain is. Obviously very good on Cornelius as most of his POW abilities are multi-hit moves, and his lightning spells can stun targets, allowing free combos. 

Skill Link - Cornelius will deal more damage based off of how many skills he has used in the current chain. Obvious, but I cannot stress the noticeable difference in damage on your 5th Spiral Claw in a combo.

Stun Enhancement - Makes all stuns cause by Cornelius' lightning magic last longer. Self-explanatory but works in tandem with -

Stun Striker - Cornelius deals more damage to stunned foes.


Just like in my Gwendolyn guide  I'd like to note all of Corenlius' abilities are unique and feel free to invest in abilities not mentioned here, they all have their uses. The listed abilities are simply what I found most effective in damage, chains and resource management. I've had a lot of fun messing around with Lightning Saber, Mega Spark, Strike Ray and even Thundercloud. My next guide should be coming soon, and I'll be focusing on the third character, Mercedes, The Fairy Queen. Any thoughts or comments on Cornelius? Let me know! I'm particularly interested in Lightning Saber and it's uses and will probably continue to explore it's possibilities. Lastly, if you are unaware of what Odin Sphere is, I cannot recommend it enough. Leifthrasir, the modern retelling, is available on multiple platforms and the original game is on PS2 and digitally on PS3. Thanks for reading guys!




                                                    

                                                    
For those of you who may not know, Furi is a newer indie game available on Steam and Playstation 4, which features epic boss fights, and an outstanding soundtrack. Furi's developer "The Game Bakers" create a game that is  very enjoyable and has great replay value, and is a shining example of indie games at their finest. Furi features a thin revenge plot, with players taking control of "The Stranger", who's end goal is to escape the prison he has been trapped in by defeating the "guardians" who reside within the prison. The main story clocks in at around 8-10 hours, but the feature of an in-game speed run challenge, multiple endings, and the ability to replay boss fights gives Furi a lot of replay ability.

Furi is unique in the fact that the only combat is within boss fights, which can take several tries before defeating them. Furi capitalizes on the recent trend of " difficult" games like the Souls series. The difficulty stems from positioning and timing, and the fact that the player only has four abilities keeps the player form being bogged down from inputs. "The Stranger" boasts a deadly katana, a pistol with unlimited ammo, the ability to swiftly dash to avoid projectiles, and the ability to parry melee attacks to regain some health. 


The Stranger wields his deadly katana

The bosses in Furi are reminiscent of "Punch Out" in the fact that each boss has unique traits and abilities that help bring the boss to life. Each boss has a unique number of lives, while The Stranger only has three. Removing a boss's life grants you a life, but doing so is incredibly difficult. The combat in Furi flows smoothly, and feels great. Each fight is a lesson in patience and precision as you weave between your enemies attacks that are designed to challenge your timing and focus. Each fight begins with a ranged phase in which the player must dodge projectiles while whittling down the boss. When the boss's health reaches zero, The Stranger goes in for some devastating close-combat, which is the only way to defeat the bosses. 


Each boss fight is interconnected through walking scenes, which may seem like a minor annoyance (some of these scenes last upwards of 5 minutes), but thankfully the inclusion of auto-walk buttons saves your fingers some of the stress. "The Game Bakers" primarily utilize this down time to showcase their art and give players some plot progression.  The art style is strikingly beautiful, with each level presenting a different palette and each boss having a variety of colors in their attack patterns.  The Stranger himself is a bold figure of red, white, and black, while the walks in between each boss show mesmerizing landscapes, ranging from barren deserts to the void of space.

One of my personal favorite aspects of Furi is the soundtrack. Furi's soundtrack is a compilation of music by several artists, such as Carpenter Brut, The Toxic Avenger, and Kn1ght. The music helps set the tone of combat, and helps the player really get into the action. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of electronic music, but the music choices for each boss fight helped immerse me even further in the game. Even if you aren't a fan of this type of game, and have no interest in ever playing Furi, I would highly recommend listening to the soundtrack, which is available on Furi's Official bandcamp page or on Furi's official website.

 Overall, I'd rate Furi a solid 8/10. While the plot may be somewhat thin, the combat, design, and music more than make up for it. If you're a fan of hack&slash games, strategic combat, amazing music, or intense, larger than life boss fights, then Furi is a game you should definitely add to your wishlist.





So a lot of people have been wondering -  what is all this Super Smash Bros lingo? The game is extremely enjoyable to watch, especially at a higher level of play.  But when listening to the commentators you may be googling a word every 30 seconds trying to keep up in the fast-paced fighting game.  Here's a list of some of the Smash 4 language you may see and/or hear when watching  LML or other tournaments:

Basics:

Neutral Game - The point of the game where nobody has a clear advantage.  You begin on the stage against your opponent.  The purpose of the ensuing fight is to put your opponent in a position where they are off stage or in the air, and you are edge guarding against them. Depending on what character you play, you'll have different forms of pressure.  Take into account the character's range, speed, specials, aerial moves and air mobility.  There's so much more that goes into the neutral game, depending on player skill level, but just these few variables can get the point across.

Think of the neutral game as an ongoing, fast-paced game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.  One approach will beat the next until every approach is beaten by the one before it.  It's like a snake eating it's tail!

In smash there is a rock, paper and scissors.  Shielding, grabbing and attacking.  Shielding is beaten by grabbing, grabbing is generally trumped by attacking, and attacking is beaten by shielding.  

Watch this very informative video to understand clearly what is meant:

To understand a player's ability to succeed in the neutral game, you must first take into account the player's understanding of their characters' options and their opponents options at any given point.  This concept is preliminary stuff to mind games and player skill, but it is the fundamental game you play every time you do battle. More later!


Blast Zone - The boundary line where if a character passes, they are K.O.d. A simple concept in Smash Brother's but important to note exactly where the Blast Zone is on every legal map. For example, Town and City has a "low ceiling" which means it's ceiling blast zone is closer than compared to a stage like Battlefield, which has a higher ceiling.

Aerials - Simply the non-special aerial attack a player chooses. Neutral-air (Nair), forward-air (Fair), down-air (Dair), back-air (Bair) and up-air.  Each character has different aerials that interact in different ways.  It's important to understand how they all work!

Specials - The 'B' buttons! You have 4.  Neutral special (B without an input), Down special (B while holding down on the analog stick), Forward special (B while holding forward), and Up special (B while holding up).  Every character has different specials.  Some are projectiles, some are counters, some are long-winded powerful blows, and some are completely based on RNG!

In the nature of smash and fighting games, there will be options that are generally considered good options and bad options.  The good options are simply applications that serve a vital role in the neutral game, this can be the core of a character.  

An example of this could be Luigi's green fireball (neutral special).  Unlike Mario's bouncing fireball, Luigi's will move in a straight horizontal line upon being input.  This has potential to remove the enemy's approaches or make for a safer approach for Luigi, depending on where it's placed.  This can allow the Luigi player to think steps ahead and react to the opponent's reaction to the fireball.  Smashception!  This is a simple application to a much bigger picture.

A bad option is one that consistently leaves you in a position where you can be punished.  A good example of a 'bad' option would be Ganondorf's Warlock Punch (Neutral B).  Similar to Captain Falcon's Falcon Punch, this beefy move doesn't come out til frame 70! What's worse?  You can't act out of it until frame 118 of inputting the move.  If you've spent any time on Kurogane Hammer checking out the frame data of your main character (please do this), you'll understand that this is the equivalent an eternity.


Frame & Frame Data - A frame is 1/60th of a second, meaning that the game plays at 60 fps.  During every frame of gameplay, the game is registering controller inputs and a variety of unique situations that arise from player interactions.  We are about to get into teching, which is a key defense mechanic in the Super Smash Bros. series.  To tech, you have to make a shield input 20 frames before encountering a floor, ceiling or wall.  20 frames = 20/60 seconds.  This means that in order to successfully tech, you need to shield one third of a second before encountering terrain.  

Frame Data is the information gathered about characters' movesets.  What frame does a certain move create a damaging hitbox after being input?  When can you act out of that move?  Does it have a lot of end-lag?  These are all questions that should be asked when digging deeper into smash.  

ex. Yoshi's Fair hitbox is active from frames 16-20.  Yoshi cannot input another command until frame 44 of this move. We call this end-lag, which transitions into FAF (first actionable frame) in which the player can begin to input new commands.  

Tech - "Officially" yet less known as a breakfall, it acts exactly as it sounds.  Instead of landing on the ground like a sack of potatoes, which leaves you vulnerable to attacks, you touchdown and stand up with a short period of invincibility.  This is performed by inputting the shield button 20 frames before contacting the floor.

Techroll - The same as a standard tech, but while contacting the floor you moves the analog stick left or right to roll.  

Wall tech - This tech follows suit, with a 20 frame or fewer window to execute.  This is commonly used defensively offstage when your opponent is trying to stage spike/gimp you.  Got hit with a back air from the majority of the smash cast? No problem! Time that shield button to ricochet off the stage, eating your momentum and giving you a few invincibility frames.   

Rage - A damage multiplier new to Smash 4.  As a character gets damaged, they begin to become enraged, doing increased knockback on damaging abilities, up to a cap.  Rage comes online once a character has reached 35% and maxes at 150%.  

Directional Influence (DI) - Having changed many times through the series, Smash 4 DI is the players ability to influence their characters' movement.  Trajectory DI, in this case, is the direction in which you influence your character to go from the point of getting launched.  

Imagine eating a Captain Falcon knee (F-air).  When the knee connects there are freeze frames (or hitlag) before you are launched away.  During that hitlag, you can DI away from where you are intended to be launched, reducing the trajectory.  There is specific DI that is optimal against certain characters move-sets,   and with based on a characters' damage percent and their opponents rage, DI may not make the biggest difference.

Still, consider it a last ditch effort; it's do or die.

Smash Directional Influence (Smash DI/SDI) - Tech that changes the position of your character during the freeze frames of an ability, or while being hit with multi-hit attacks.  

Ex. 1: Rather than sitting in the Captain Falcon knee waiting to act afterwards, you can take that near half-second time of hitlag to slightly manipulate where you will be launched from as well as how far you will be launched by following optimal trajectory DI.

Ex. 2: When caught in Little Mac's 3rd jab multi-hit, rub the analog stick up and away from Mac in an attempt to jump out of the hit-stun.  This works on many multi-hit jabs with slightly different SDI for each.

Perfect Shield (powershield) - Arguably a bit more advanced, but you've probably seen or done this yourself whether aware or now.  This is the act of shielding an incoming attack four frames before an incoming attack.  This acts as the 'parry' of Smash bros, as a perfect shield results in no shield damage or knockback, as well as avoiding the freeze frames you would typically receive if you did not perfect shield.  This gives the player who perfect shields an advantage, giving them the immediate jump on the opponent while they are caught in hitlag.  Perfect shielding will make a crisp parrying sound to let you know if you've executed this properly.  Ryu is the exception as his perfect shield will make the parrying sound from Street Fighter III.

Freeze Frames (hitlag) -  No news here to fighting game enthusiasts!  This is an occurrence when an attacking character 'freezes' for a short amount of time after an attack.  This is very noticeable during smash attacks, or a Captain Falcon knee where the game stalls for a fraction of a second.  There are plenty of situations where the defending player is capable of power shielding to remove themselves from the freeze frames, allowing them to act sooner than the attacker.

Labbing - Fighting game lingo for practice.  This can be anywhere from a friendly match to applying tech to in-game scenarios.  This is where you do your homework.

Advanced:

Boost Grab (extended dash grab) - When a character  transfers dash attack momentum into a dash grab, essentially extending a normal dash grab while *typically* being a safer option

Dash-Cancelling - Simply put, when a character cancels their dash animation by  jumping, shielding, pivoting or performing a smash move.

Dash-Dancing -  Performed by tapping the analog stick left and right quickly, cancels dash animation in one direction by instead performing a dash animation in the opposite direction.  Although the tripping mechanic from Brawl was removed in Smash 4, dash-dancing is not a popular mechanic in the newest iteration of Smash, favored by stronger neutral game options.

Frame Cancelling - Performed while you are about to land against a grounded opponent.  By performing aerial attacks against a non-shielding opponent, the landing lag will begin on the freeze frames of the attack, shortening the usual length of landing lag.  This tech is easily punishable due to perfect shielding's existence in the neutral game.

Jab-Cancelling - Any character with a rapid jab can execute this.  Before the 3rd jab that starts the jab combo, a character can shield, crouch or pivot to begin a new string without having to finish the 3rd multi hit jab.  Also known as a 'jab fake' the tech is used for a few reasons.  Firstly, the 3rd jab can easily be DI'd out of or shielded, losing you the neutral game and leading to a returned punish.  However if you were to bait your opponent into shielding preemptively, you'll be able to act with a grab.  They stuffed their air dodge into the stage?  That's a free grab.

Pivoting - The act of turning your character around from a dash without the lag you would normally get from harshly turning around.  This is done by turning the analog stick in the opposite direction of where you're dashing, followed by a move.  In smash 4 you can execute a pivot at any point in the dash, and depending on your controller scheme you can perform a tilt, jab, smash attack or grab.  There's nothing quite like getting pivot-grabbed by ZSS, Lucas or Samus, now is there?!  This technique acts as an incredible spacing and mind game tool by separating yourself from where your opponent thinks you'll be.  

Most notable in Smash 4 is Perfect Pivoting which is essentially just a faster pivot.  There is only a short window in which you can execute a perfect pivot, but mastering this wave-dash-mimicking tech will help take your game to the next level.  Here's a tutorial on perfect pivoting for those who are interested in labbing it out:



Reverse Aerial Rush (RAR) - A tech that changes the direction that your character is facing without intensely altering the momentum of a dash.  From a dash, input the direction change and quickly perform a jump.  The result will be a seamless turnaround.  This is most effective for characters with strong back-air options, such as Fox and Donkey Kong.





And this isn't even the full list!  People are constantly experimenting and learning the quirks of their characters.  It's important to understand how all of this tech functions in game.  So get into training mode and try it for yourself! We hope this guide helped orient you with the game a bit more.  Did we miss something? Have something more to add?  Leave a comment below and share with those who are trying to get into the Smash 4 scene!
Words to live by


A few times in my life I've found myself sitting & waiting for things to happen around me.  This ranged from a years-long wait - for example the entirety of my high school, to months-long, like waiting for a task to be given to me at a job.  I was a baby in the sense that I needed attention and to be fed every detail of how and what to do.  Even the process leading up to the forming of LAN Mob was years of me hesitating and waiting for easy money to appear, until I finally gave up and just bootstrapped the business using every mean possible.

The public education system I was brought up in had a way of reinforcing this thinking, and I think the US education system is just now starting to realize that the most valuable 21st century workers are those who can think for themselves, and not those who need to have everything defined for them.  The most valuable workers now are those who take calculated risks, possess the ability to be creative, can learn for themselves and are not afraid of failure.

Being a pro-active worker means thinking for yourself about what needs to be done, and then accomplishing those tasks with minimal oversight.  It also means taking on tasks you may feel under-skilled or even incompetent in.  We're privileged to live in the Internet era where - with Google and YouTube - practically anything can be learned on our own with a bit of motivation.  This massive amount of knowledge means there is literally nothing in the world you can't learn to do on your own now - for free!

A common block people run into when taking this path is known as "impostor syndrome".  The thinking goes "I'm not qualified to do X thing, because I don't have Y certificate or Z degree, and therefore I'm an impostor!"  It's good to remember that for any task, there was somebody at some point who had to do that task for the very first time.  They were pioneers who were unafraid of failure and willing to take risks in order to learn and grow.

I've felt the impostor syndrome myself many times through life, and I imagine I've made more than one person think to themselves "Man, this kid knows nothing."  But I've used those experiences to constantly be learning & growing, gaining confidence and leveling up.  Now in any given situation I can call on my past experience and knowledge to apply a relative level of kick-assedness.

So if you find yourself in the situation where you're not quite sure if you have what it takes, take the words of Shia Labeouf and JUST DO IT.  You might fail, or do a poor job, or maybe even find things go surprisingly well.  The important thing is to take that step from thinking to doing!

Dark Souls 3 is definitely one of my contenders for Game of the Year for 2016. The ominous unpropitious RPG series developed by From Software is famous for a plethora of things, but one of my personal favorites is the cryptic storytelling, and Dark Souls 3 was one of the best in the series in this aspect. The Dark Souls fandom loves to discuss, theorize and canonize the series in different ways, creating a very strong community in the process. One of the strongest time periods this is present is when there's a DLC announcement and Dark Soul's Artorias of the Abyss and Dark Soul 2's Crown of Kings DLCs all added on to and rounded out some of the story lines in these games if you searched for it/discussed it. This time is upon us again! Bandai Namco has revealed the announcement trailer for the upcoming Dark Souls 3 DLC: Ashes of Ariandrel, and it's nothing short of amazing.



It's hard to not get giddy with excitement, right? Last week Bandai Namco said there would be an announcement but this trailer is a lot more then I was hoping for. Not only did Bandai Namco and From Software give us this trailer, we also got a look at some screenshots!

Ashes of Ariandrel will have new gear, weapons and magic.



I've always loved Dark Souls' snow environments, Painted World and Crown of the Ivory King were some of my favorite points in the entire series!

There's something about the way From Software does snowy environments that makes the player feel even more uncomfortable then spooky castles.

Looks like a new Miracle. In the trailer you can see this ring of light gets tossed out and return like a boomerang.

Definitely a new boss. In the trailer we can see this being whipping itself. Which feeds into a theory I have about Velka. Also is that The Lordvessel?

Ice Magic! New Sorcery?

Probably a new NPC. Very interesting interaction in the trailer. Looks to be wearing robes similar to the Forlorn Set in Cathedral of the deep offering what seems to be a small piece of Canvas. (Painted Woooooorld)

It's not all pretty snow-scapes. This looks...foreboding.

Bandai Namco has mentioned a 3v3 multiplayer mode. This may be an early screenshot, but it's all speculation at this point.


So there's plenty of stuff to get everyone hyped for the upcoming DLC, and the DS community is all about it. Ashes of Ariandrel is already making huge connections to Painted World of Ariamis, with some people already predicting it may BE the painted world. Reddit user "Kanakilisious" has started a thread of discussion relating to this concept here and there's definitely some really solid theories.

"The Painter"

This screenshot probably has the Dark Souls community the most interested. NPCs are always a huge outlet for the Dark Souls universe, giving the players the most information about the world we can get. It's unsure of who this mysterious figure is, but some people are questioning if she is related to Gwynevere, who is such a missing piece of the puzzle in the Dark Souls timeline. Is this Ariamis, actively working on the world we visiting in the first story? I am absolutely ecstatic to find out.

Personally, whether it be this DLC or the DLC expected in early 2017, I believe Velka, The Goddess of Sin, will make an appearance. Some speculation states the newest "boss" is Gwynevere possessed by Velka in her attempt to take down the gods, or even Velka herself. Personally, I believe this boss, whatever it may be, it wielding the Lord Vessel. This would tie directly in to the Gwynevere theory or even a new one, but I'll save my crazy theories to myself...for now.

Ultimately, I trust From Software with any direction they take, and I'm confident Ashes of Ariandrel will be a memorable experience. Personally, I'd love to see some more lore on Gwynevere, Velka and especially angels and their place in the world of Lothric. Dark Souls 3 is available right here in the shop, and I implore you to give it a try if you haven't. There's a reason these games are so wildly popular. We have quests available and even a special prize for the first player to beat the game solely in the shop!

  Do you have any theories? Anything you hope to see appear in the Ashes of Ariandel expansion? Let us know in the comments!




Odin Sphere originally released in 2007 on the PlayStation 2 and I was infatuated with it. It was the first game from Vanillaware I ever played, and made me an immediate fan of the Japanese development team. When I originally found out about the remaster on PS4, "Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir", I was ecstatic to revisit the stunningly gorgeous action JRPG with improvements to it's original formula. Unfortunately I got side tracked with life and other games but I'm glad to say I've been playing Odin Sphere whenever possible lately. Leifthrasir does so much right with it's improvements and changes to it's original system, it's almost unreal. In a day and age where remasters, HD remakes, ports, etc, etc, are so incredibly common, it's great to see a company REALLY revisit their game and make it even more magical. Someday I may write an entire review for Odin Sphere Leifthrasir as it is becoming one of my favorite games of all time, but for now enjoy the guide for Gwendolyn, The Valkyrie Princess.

Gwendolyn, The Valkyrie Princess
"Odin's Witch"
"Crownless Lord"


Gwendolyn is the first character you get to play as in Odin Sphere. Vanillaware does a great job of using Gwendolyn to introduce players to the world of Erion, with her story and fighting style. Gwendolyn is incredibly well balanced when it comes to combat, being capable of dealing with a multitude of different enemies with relative ease, utilizing her "Psypher Spear", ice magic and powerful melee abilities. It's safe to say Gwendolyn is the most basic character, but she definitely has some advanced nuances.

Odin Sphere's combat revolves around combos and Gwendolyn dominates the sky, capable of juggling enemies nearly endlessly in the air. I'll cover some skills and abilities a bit later, but Gwendolyn is basically designed to utilize air mobility and multi-hit skills to combo up massive air damage to enemies. Get mini-bosses and even bosses airborne to dispatch them quickly and stylishly. As a Valkyrie, Gwendolyn has the power of limited flight in her arsenal, along with the ability to dive bomb, carrying enemies from the sky to the ground, resetting the combo and allowing you to pick up more enemies. Gwendolyn is also excellent at positioning, capable of moving through bosses to avoid damage while doing her own. Now, there are a plethora of skills Gwendolyn can earn to compliment her play style, and I'll touch on what I believe to be the best in each category. POW skills (or melee abilities), Magic (skills that use PP as a resource) and passives.




Gwendolyn is right at home in the air, capable of juggling enemies for their entire health bar.


POW ACTIVES

Needle Strike -  An absolute must. Not only does needle strike rack up a massive chain for those S ranks, it does really great damage when combined with certain passive abilities and uses very little of your POW gauge. You get Needle Strike very early, equip it and keep it equipped! Level it up when possible and you won't be disappointed. Pop a few enemies into the air, start a combo, cancel with needle strike, and continue to do so, and it's simple to chain over 100 pretty easily. Not to mention, just like everything in this game, the Needle Strike animation is eye candy. 

Beak Drive - Beak Drive isn't great for damage or even building a high chain. So why equip it? Beak Drive is incredible for re positioning. Beak Drive allows Gwendolyn to fly through enemies with a powerful blow, ending up on the opposite side. Great for getting behind bosses or just simply not allowing yourself to be surrounded.


MAGIC


Ice Shot - Ice Shot is the first magic Gwendolyn has access too. I wouldn't necessarily call Ice Shot a main stay, but it's definitely great early on. Ice Shot uses very little PP but has a decent effect on controlling the battle. Ice Shot sends out multiple small homing ice projectiles to enemies, doing more then just damage. These projectiles are capable of freezing, a unique ability Gwendolyn possesses. Frozen enemies cannot move for a given amount of time, and are effected by some of Gwendolyn's passives as well. These Ice Shots can also juggle enemies into the air and do a massive amount of damage to bosses, thanks to how big they usually are. I love Ice Shot's introduction and the way Vanillaware uses it from a design standpoint. Ice Shot shows players that Gwendolyn is well versed in ice magic and what ice magic is capable of all in a small spell you obtain early on.

Icicle Wave - Another display of Gwendolyn's ice mastery, Icicle Wave is incredible at creating space for Gwendolyn. Icicle Wave sends out pillars of ice along the ground, emerging from her in each direction, more often then not freezing every enemy it touches. Although my current play through didn't use Icicle Wave at all, I would recommend it to players not comfortable in the air, or for a build revolving around magic.

Blizzard - One of Gwendolyn's best spells. Blizzard, as it sounds, conjures up a Blizzard that stays active in the current stage area for a while. Blizzard continuously does damage over time with a chance to freeze every time it does so. Blizzard is incredible when your screen is filled to the brim with enemies. The main downside is Blizzard uses a vast amount of PP.

Blinding Light - One of my personal favorite spells in Gwendolyn's arsenal, despite it's limited uses. Blinding Light serves as a magical flash bang, dizzying all enemies in an area around her. I used Blinding Light for huge portion of the game to crowd control and group enemies up for combos. Blinding Light is great for dropping enemies out of the sky, combo resetting and even just to flee.

Gungnir - I wouldn't recommend keeping Gungnir equipped at all times, but this ability has it's uses. Gungnir is a cinematic "ultimate" attack, dealing massive damage to every enemy in the zone. Even enemies that aren't immediately visible! This move is excellent for finishing off those enemies across the map so you don't drop your combo, or for finishing off a dangerous enemy quickly. Gungnir is devastating and makes short work of opposition, but it requires an insane amount of PP.


Gungnir, Gwendolyn's ultimate magic ability



PASSIVES

Assault High - Assault High allows Gwendolyn to deal more damage based off her chain. The higher the chain is, the more damage her attacks deal. Assault High combined with high chain Needle Strikes are absolutely devastating. Assault High opens up the door for players to nuke bosses quickly with the right combinations.

Skill Link - Allows Gwendolyn to deal more damage based on how many skills she has used in the current combination. Once again, looking at mid air Needle Strikes!

Freeze Enchantment - Forces frozen enemies to stay frozen longer. Very good for getting free combos, extending your chain and letting Assault High + Needle Strike do work.

Ice Breaker - Works in tandem with Freeze Enchantment. Ice Breaker allows Gwendolyn to deal more damage to frozen enemies. See where we're going with this?

Ultimately, Odin Sphere allows you to play the game the way you want, and is a beautiful experience whether you're getting S ranks or not, especially early in the game playing Gwendolyn. I've messed around with other skills like Pain Feather, Freeze Lance and Rising Crescent and they are all a blast, but leveling up the passives with the high string moves make for an excellent strategy, especially on harder difficulties. I'll be writing a Cornelius guide very soon, so look out for that! Any thoughts or comments on Gwendolyn? Let me know in the comments! To anyone that hasn't played Odin Sphere, I HIGHLY recommend the game. It's available on multiple platforms, with the original on PS2 and PS3 digital, however, I would recommend getting Leifthrasir if you have the option, which is available on PS4 and PS Vita!




For a while I practiced commuting by bicycle, living only a few minutes from my work.  This saved money on gas and helped get the blood flowing in the morning, and I found I had crazy productive mornings of coding.  I had bought a slew of gear with the plan of biking through winter as bicycles are proven all-weather vehicles, but I chickened out at the first sign of a snow plow barreling down the street.


During my few months of commuting I would occasionally get caught in the rain, and the first time this happened I was really bent out of shape about it.  Slippery roads and the idea of getting clothes, shoes & bike wet was discomforting, as I could feel the back tire splashing water up my back.  That discomfort slowly faded as I adjusted to the ride, and I began to notice things like how much easier I could hear traffic approaching behind me on the wet road, and how the rain had a cooling effect on both ambient and body temperature.

I started to adjust to the ride as well, getting comfortable with braking & turning on wet road.  It was then I realized it wasn't such a bad thing, and I actually started to enjoy the whole experience.  As I pulled up to my home I was grinning and wanted to actually keep riding.  By placing myself in a situation of discomfort I discovered something I found really enjoyable - cycling in the rain.

We all have comfort levels and boxes we build in our own lives that begin to guide our daily habits, and it helps to push those boundaries to put ourselves in unfamiliar situations that are outside of our comfort levels.  This is where growth happens: be it learning a new character in a game, overcoming a fear or learning something new about ourselves.
Kled, the Cantankerous Cavalier, is the newest champion in League of Legends. Releasing on August 10th, a week ago today, players are still learning a lot about the unhinged yordle. Being praised for his ability to stick to carries, auto attack quickly and having incredible engage, Kled has a ton of potential. Typically, Kled has found a place in the top lane. A decent bully with incredible sustain, it makes sense for him to bunker down up there. However, after some games I'd like to say Jungle Kled also has a decent amount of potential in the right hands, and is an interesting pick. If you are unfamiliar with Kled's kit, check the link below.

Check out Kled's kit here!



SUMMONER SPELLS
So I've played Jungle Kled to great success a handful of times and I gotta say, my favorite summoner spell combination is Flash and Smite. Smite for obvious reason, and flash for a few reasons. The main one being that Flash is just good. Closing distances, escaping, making plays, etc. However, there are some other awesome offensive maneuvers that flash allows you to pull off.  When you connect with Kled's, "Beartrap on a Rope", the enemy may flash the second part of the skill, where led tugs on the rope. If Kled flashes the rope will stay connected and tug the enemy anyway. Another one of my favorite moves that flash allows you to pull off is a specific bot lane gank, but more on that later. I've also messed around a fair amount with ghost instead of flash. Ghost has uses, but overall I think flash is the way to go.



RUNES & MASTERIES


I've tried a multitude of combinations and have settled on this for now -





















Marks
4x - +1.7% Attack Speed 
5x - + 0.95 Attack Damage 

Seals
9x - + 1 Armor

Glyphs
9x - + 1.34 Magic Resist

Quints
2x - + 4.5% Attack Speed
1x - + 2.25 Attack Damage

The mixture of attack speed and attack damage allows Kled's W to be used in full effect, allows an easier clear of the jungle. Seals and Glyphs are simply for survival. I think there's certainly room to customize a rune page even further, but a mixture of attack speed and attack damage definitely feels good. Do you have any suggestions or comments? Let me know!

Masteries were a bit simpler. I have experimented a bit with multiple keystones but so far this is my preferred tree -





















This is pretty obvious, with Strength of Ages seeming like the best option. Skaarl definitely benefits from Strength of Ages + Veteran's Scars, making Kled's overall sustain so much greater then the sum of his own stats. I also make sure to grab Runic Affinity because Kled with a red buff is terrifying. Once again, I'm still playing and experimenting so any suggestions you may have are appreciated!


BUILD


Kled is great in the sense that he benefits so much from almost ever stat besides mana related builds. I think when it comes to picking your jungle item, Cinderhulk, Bloodrazor and Warrior are all solid in certain situations. If you need to be a bit of an off tank, go for Cinderhulk. As far as being a Carry Killer, I'm still on the fence with Warrior and Bloodrazor, but ultimately I think I like Warrior better. While Bloodrazor gives Kled the attack speed for his W, Warrior's pure AD stats benefit his entire kit! I also choose Skirmisher's Sabre due to Kled's ability to duel, leaning it even more in his favor.

I was struggling on what to build after jungle item and, thanks to Slooze, I've settled on Trinity Force. Although it takes a while to build, it makes Kled a monster. After Trinity Force I build what our team needs, but I favor Phantom Dancer if I'm far ahead and our team doesn't need an off tank. Otherwise I'll build black cleaver and tank items like Dead Man's Plate.

There has been a lot of discussion in the shop of whether or not Kled benefits from Ravenous Hydra. Hydra definitely helps Kled with his clear and keeping Skaarl healthy. It definitely isn't a BAD item to build. I think it's important to note, however, if Kled is dismounted from Skaarl, he cannot heal past his dismounted threshold. So yes, Hydra is useful and definitely great for Kled's clear and keeping Skaarl healthy, but when you are dismounted, it's best used for last hitting so you can get Skaarl back.

As far as leveling goes, take W level 1 for a speedy jungle start, max q, then w, then e, and ult when you can. Bear Trap on a Rope and Pocket Pistol both are capable of doing a good amount of damage, and lowering their cool downs is valuable.




Jungle Path & Ganking


Kled's early jungle is tough. He has decent clear, but once he loses Skaarl things become interesting. So, in my experience, it's best to start machete and 3 pots and start red-side, taking W level 1 (but maxing Q first). Pick up krugs, then red then wolves and blue for a healthy clear that allows you to gank top or mid directly after. Use your smites on Krugs and Blue. If there's no ganks pick up a scuttler for a small health boost and vision for the side of the map opposite of where you plan to gank next. When you go for a gank on Kled the most important thing to look for is a Bear Trap on a Rope. I've botched so many ganks by positioning with my E ability, and getting behind the enemy bot lane, baiting their flashes then missing my Q. Feelsbadman. Ultimately, if you can hit your Q and position properly, Kled will stick like glue to his target, Thanks to Bear Trap and his ability to re position with his E, Kled can avoid damage in the lane while laying it down with his W passive. Unfortunately once Kled unloads his kit on a target, he doesn't have much more to offer until his cool downs return. Especially early on.

When it comes to Kled's viability as a jungler the most notable thing is his ultimate. Not only does Chaaaaaaaarge allow Kled (and his team) to rotate, collapse and lane gank easily, but upon Kled's collision with his enemy, he does a whole lot of damage when used to engage from far away. There's also a lot of value in ulting from medium range just for a quick engagement. Using ult to engage on a lane that's too far pushed up will at the very least force summoners, it's pretty strong. It's very predictable due to the ultimate's visuals, but if placed properly they can see it, but they can't stop it.

I'm definitely going to put more work into Kled. As a jungler it's fun to see what niche picks work and why. I will say Kled is probably a lot better off in Top lane, but Jungle Kled fills a niche roll and is a total blast to play. After a couple dozen more games I'll revisit my thoughts on Jungle Kled more thoroughly! Once again, any suggestions or tips are absolutely welcome, and leave them in the comments below!   


Zug Zug


Okay you whippersnappers, gather around for story time!

Once upon a time it was the mid-nineties, and personal computers were just starting to take over the world.  A little software company called Microsoft was on the rise with its recently released Windows '95, America Online was introducing the world to the Internet, we carried around big bulky books called Encyclopedias instead of Wikipedia, and Google was barely an idea on a napkin.

Sergey!  Stop!  That's a multi-billion dollar napkin!

At this time battle.net didn't yet exist as an entity - Blizzard would usher this in with Starcraft, Diablo II, and World of Warcraft.  The massively popular Blizzard game at that time was Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness.  This was a very basic Real-Time Strategy game featuring mineable resources and two playable factions (Horde or Alliance), with a campaign mode featuring a decent AI.  Multiplayer options were limited unless you had a LAN setup, and LAN Mob was still 20 years in the future.


Marty you're out of time!


Those a little more technically inclined could get 2-player multiplayer matches to work.  You see in those days most household Internet was dial-up - you would plug your computer's modem into one of your home's phone jacks and use your phone line to connect to the Internet.  With a bit of tweaking myself and some friends discovered we could dial into each other's computers and establish a "hand shake" connection, which made multiplayer game play possible.

Of course in order to get this working you needed to dedicate your phone line to it, and for those of us not rich enough to afford a second phone line this meant informing everyone in the house not to pick up the phone, as this would often cause a disconnect and mean having to start all over again.  In a time before cell phones and texting, picking up a house phone to call someone was one of the only ways to communicate.  Tying up the phone line for hours on end didn't go over so well with family members such as siblings with very active social lives, making multiplayer online PC gaming a delicate exercise in diplomacy and tact.


Negotiating tactics


Also if you had the fancy schmancy "call waiting" option on your landline and received an incoming call it was Game Over as your modem would fizzle and go dead.  Assuming you could get your modem strings just right, manage to lock your siblings in the bathroom and get everyone else in the home to cooperate, a multiplayer connection could be made allowing some relatively lag-free gaming.  If you made it to the end of a match without getting disconnected or running into a random blue screen of death it was a near miracle.

When high-speed Internet services like cable and DSL became available in the late-90s gamers flocked to them, and more stable internet hubs like battle.net formed, ushering in the era of online PC gaming we see today.

So what drove us early PC gamers to go through all the hassle for just a chance at a game (or two if you're lucky)?  Simple - Blizzard is ruled by dark lords capable of creating extremely fun, borderline addictive gaming experiences.  This held as true in 1995 as it does today, with Overwatch and a revamped WoW dominating our gaming hours all summer.

Blizzard HQ

We've come so far in online gaming, but I often ponder what gaming will look like 20 years from now.  Augmented reality, holograms, virtual reality, and super-fast fiber Internet are all in their infancy but could each on their own revolutionize how we game.

Have any memories from the old days or thoughts on the future?  We'd love to hear about it, leave us a comment below.


Occasionally when I'm out and about I'll overhear random strangers talking about the shop.  Most customers who have visited our shop have had an overwhelmingly positive experience, but there are still some people who scoff at the concept of a LAN Center and refuse to go.  The thinking often goes "Why would I pay to play video games when I can just play from my bedroom at home?"  We offer a lot of things that you just won't get at home.



Powerful PCs, Fast Internet & Many Games


Don't own a PC and missing out on some of the finest video games in existence?  Is your five-year-old home PC struggling to run Overwatch?  Poor Internet connection causing you to lag out?  At a LAN Center you can crank your graphics settings up to Ultra and play lag-free on a fast Internet connection.  Enjoy games the way they were meant to be played!  Our selection of games is also massive; it would take many trips and lots of energy drinks to play through them all.


Community


LAN Centers are hands down the best place to meet people who love to game.  If there is a game you're really interested in, chances are there are one or more people playing that game at a LAN Center.  You'll make quick friends and likely be introduced to other games that you didn't know existed but enjoy just as much.  We have networked with gamers all over Central NY and even created local Facebook groups for our more popular games.


Entertainment


Have a few hours to burn?  Bored and looking for something to do?  Have kids to entertain and need a few hours to yourself?  Want to just game all night into the morning?  We'll always have a new game in our rotation and players around the shop who will be happy to add you to the party.  Even when the shop slows down you'll sometimes find employees keeping games going.


Competition


Hang around the shop enough - especially when we're hosting tournaments - and you're bound to meet some highly skilled players.  If you're serious about getting better at a game, a LAN Center is the best place to seek out someone to play and learn with.

Have an amazing memory or story from our LAN Center to share?  Comment below!
There's something in the air that sparks an impromptu WoW character reroll with a group of 5 friends.  

Last night, I had the great fortune of sharing in an adventure with some of my favorite people.  It brought back a sensation in social gaming that I hadn't felt in about 8-9 years.   If you had watched our twitch stream (twitch.tv/lanmob) last night, you would have seen Scarskull, Sage, Connorkaze and another Butters Bro, we'll call him Fish Paste, and I all embark on the quest to rush to level 20 with fresh toons.

     Slooze: "What does everybody want to roll?  Alliance or Horde?"
     Scarskull: "Alliance."
Sage: "I definitely don't want to make another Dwarf."
Slooze & Scarskull: " :( "
     Scarskull: "Well, not humans. Humans are boring."
Slooze: "Not Worgen, either.  They're too dreary.  So Draenei, Gnomes or Night Elves?"
Sage: "I'm fine with Night Elves."
Scarskull: Yeah, Night Elves are fine."
Connorkaze: "Ok."


There we were, a pack of no-good Night Elves wandering through the isle of Teldrassil.  It all started out very simple.  We all collected the starting quests and managed to progress together, but that was short-lived.  It wasn't long before Scarskull found himself in the parental role of catching up and slowing down when we inevitably began to split.  He did an incredible job, so props to him.

Quickly we closed in on level 10, where it was decided that we would walk as 5 to The Deadmines dungeon (level ~15 dungeon) in order to close the gap to level 15 and unlock the Dungeon Finder feature.  

However, before any of this, it's important to note that we spent a good amount of time goofing off dueling and pet battling.  Scarskull was able to show off his superior heirloom- I mean - his inherent dueling mastery, while Sage pet battled a very confident Tyler.  

Our Team:
                          Scarskull - Warrior (Tank)
                              Slooze - Priest (Discipline)
                                 Sage - Druid (Balance)
                      Connorkaze - Hunter (Beastmaster)
                         Fish Paste - Mage (Arcane)

And just like that, we were off. We were able to catch a direct warp to Elwyn Forest due to the Darkmoon Faire, which put us right next to Westfall, where The Deadmines were.  We made sure to stop and do the Hogger quest before we passed into Westfall, but why did the turn-in have to be all the way back in Goldshire!  We passed over zones and headed towards Sentinel Hill.  There we set our inn, sold junk and repaired our gear.  The world event was happening in Westfall at the same time, so we figured we'd stick around and get some gear..... but not before flying back to Goldshire to turn in the Hogger quest.  

What we accounted for at the last second was that we had to fly through Stormwind before flying to Goldshire (BLIZZARD WHY) and the world event in Westfall began right as we flew out of the zone.  Scarskull was flustered, but I knew we'd get back in time if we used our hearthstones to get back.  We did with the objective progression at only 72%.  We piggybacked two events and most of us got some sweet gear..... Most of us:





Thus began our dungeon grind to level 20.  At first it was difficult.  Having only one healing ability and a pretty decent bubble on a relatively short cooldown was met by the constant struggle of the global ability cooldown.  I let Scarskull die a few times but we made it.  Each time it got easier to run Deadmines, trimming down a 30 minute run all the way down to about 15 minutes.  We all hit level 15 around the same time and hit our first major spike: level 15 talents and Dungeon Finder.  In no time at all we had covered several more Deadmines runs, as well as Ragefire Chasm and Wailing Caverns.  

It took about 4 1/2 hours, but we made it to level 20.  In a game that's known to many as an endless grindfest, it was good to remember the best part about it: going on an adventure with your friends, getting relatively crappy gear that's better than what we have, progressing together, and simply goofing around.  

I encourage anyone on the grind to rally up their WoW friends and do the same.  Pick a race and run around Azeroth mindlessly gathering herbs, mining ore, battling pets, exploring zones to completion, or just killing some baddies with your buddies.  You never know, it could be the start of an authentic guild experience!

*2 hours later*

Fish Paste: "WHY DID WE MAKE NIGHT ELVES?!"

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