Ready at Dawn has added a different kind of game to their repertoire. From going to games such as the God of War games on PSP, Daxter, and The Order: 1886 to their newly released title, Deformers. A multiplayer-only brawler where you take control of ball-shaped creatures called Forms that can roll, jump, dash, and absorb items. 


There are numerous game modes from Deathmatch, Tam Deathmatch, and Form-ball which is like Rocket League. After completing games you are given currency which can be used to buy different Forms and accessories to dress up your Forms with. Most of which actually are really cool/funny. You can dress up a hamburger with a bow and futuristic glasses. Can't get better than that right? WRONG. YOU CAN UNLOCK A PUG IN THIS GAME. Which is immediately what I went for and purchased after I got enough currency to purchase. The best quality this game has is it's physics. Just moving around is really cool to see how the forms flatten once you land after a jump or get hit. 


After playing this game for roughly 6 hours it hurts to say that the game got boring really quick. Honestly, if it wasn't for the pug skin I wouldn't have even clocked in that much time on it. The gameplay is very boring and doesn't give you any fulfillment. Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch were fun for a few hours but got really boring after that. Even the Form-Ball mode misses its mark. It's a poor man's Rocket League. Once you score a goal it shows a mini replay while you continue rolling around attacking each other and wait for the ball to drop again. It feels like there is no real direction. In this game mode you are also able to grab the ball and roll right to the goal. Which is kind of dumb and while you can still knock the ball off of them it still doesn't help when aiming is atrocious. Depending on the system you're playing may hinder on your experience too. If it's PC, I'm sure you know about the terrible connectivity issues they've been having. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One haven't had terrible times getting into games, but once you get into the games the lag takes over and ruins the experience. When the lag isn't plaguing your game which is a rare occurrence, it's still frustrating since the controls aren't as smooth as they could've been. On the plus side though the maps look really good and the different classes (Ranger, Striker, Guardian, Marksman, and Speedster) can give a different twist to the game and could better suit your play style for a more enjoyable experience.


I really wanted to like Deformers. I've been looking forward to it's release for awhile now. Now that it's here after a delay to improve it; it is basically trash and it's upsetting. It hurts Ready at Dawn as well, since the flak they got for The Order: 1886 (which I enjoyed but I only paid $20 as opposed to the original $59.99). Deformers is only going to hurt their reputation further. The worst thing about this though? This game is $29.99. That's way too much. Even if the game functioned properly it shouldn't be this much. Hell, even $19.99 is pushing it. Like I said above, it's trash. Don't buy it. You'll see it for free on Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus soon.





I caught up on April '17 Nintendo Direct  .I'm excited  for whatever they have planned to celebrate Kirby's 25th anniversary being the Kirby fan that I am. However, I had an intense feeling of dread mixed with excitement when I heard Nintendo was finishing the Smash series of amiibos of Corrin, Bayonetta and Cloud. To make matters worse, they'll come in two variants that are exclusive to certain stores. And there will be Splatoon 2 amiibos of the Inkling Boy, Inkling Girl and Squid. OH NO. I'm being dragged back into the dark world of amiibo hunting. I hate how much I love amiibos and (to me) their predecessors, Skylanders.



It began with Skylanders... 
The whole "Toys to Life" thing is such a fascinating concept to me. You have these collectable toys/figures that have a chip inside them that allows it to be used inside a particular game. I can't say if Skylanders was the first to do this idea but it's the first thing that comes to mind. It was mine and my brother's first interaction with "Toys to Life". Our little minds were blown away that these figures would store our characters' levels, equipment and upgrades. It was fun bringing over a handful of our "best" Skylanders over to a friend's house and having them all powered up in a friend's world.  I won't say hunting down the figures were fun but they did make some interesting journeys. I have too many stories of how my brother and I would drive all around the state to hunt down these wretched things. As an action-adventure game, the Skylanders series became better the more games they made. I just wish I didn't go too deep buying wave after wave of Skylanders. Didn't learn my lesson because now I'm collecting amiibos!


...And it lives on in Amiibos!

Amiibos were more appealing to me because they could be used in multiple games instead of being locked in one series, at the time. Plus, I didn't have to buy multiple peripherals because my device had a built in NFC reader. I think the biggest factor of  being getting into amiibos was how they worked in Smash Bros 4(Super Smash Bros for Wii U & 3DS) and how it reminded me of Skylanders. In Smash 4, you can train your amiibo, feed it equipment to increase its stats and customize its moveset using the custom moves and items you've found while playing. The amiibos start out at level 1 and cap out at level 50. At level 50, their stats are naturally 1.5x better compared to that same character. The coolest thing is that they'll learn habits based on how you fight it. If you favor air attacks, the amiibo will be more likely to jump around and use air moves when it fights and so on. Even though their level caps out at level 50, they continue to learn how to fight. And that's just with one game. I haven't played many games that have amiibo support but it boils down to either unlocking bonus items/ doing a cool "thing" or training the AI. Oh, it should be said, the amiibo can only hold data for one game. I can't remember which game it was but people were accidentally overwriting their Smash 4 training data from their amiibos while playing a certain game(I think it was Mario Party 10?)


I fell out of love with Smash 4 but I still enjoy collecting amiibos for the bonus unlocks. Thanks to the new wave of amiibos, I'm motivated to hunt down those last three to round out my Smash 4 collection (missing a few store exclusives/ characters I don't play.) I'm not too picky on which version of Bayonetta I get but I'm hoping I can score Cloud's P2/Advent Children costume and Corrin's P2/Femae Corrin costume. With my dying breath, I'm going to curse the existence of Toys to Life and amiibos in particular. Until then, looks like the hunt is on for all these new amiibos.
Fun Forge's "Tokaido"

A few weeks ago the employees here at LAN Mob organized an AMA (or "ask me anything" for those who may not know!). We were ecstatic to see how many people participated, and were even more excited to answer some really well thought out questions from all sorts of age groups. We did a podcast-esque recording of our answers to each question while we played one of my favorite board games, "Tokaido". Check out both parts of our first ever AMA below!




Ultimately we had total blast answering everyone's questions over a board game. I think this type of content is something we can do a lot more in the future, and will continue to improve on as well. Give our Soundcloud profile a follow to keep up to date with anything that we upload! If you missed out on this AMA feel free to shoot us questions you would have asked or let us know what you'd like to hear us do next! Thanks for listening everyone, we greatly appreciate the support!

Back in the late 90's-Early 00's we had an impressive catalog of platforming titles. From the likes of Rareware, Nintendo, Sony, and plenty of other developing studios; we were given tons of excellent games. This is in part thanks to the newest hardware allowing them to expand the worlds they wanted to create in 3D. This helped make Platformers a bigger force to reckon with which caused every developer to make some type of platformer. No other company was releasing higher quality games like Rareware Studios. With games like Donkey Kong Country on SNES to Banjo-Kazooie and Conker's Bad Fur Day on the Nintendo 64. As time went on though the genre as Platformers started to fade out in favor of FPS and Action games. Flash forward to 2015, after a drought of Platforming games outside of Nintendo consoles, hopes of a Banjo-Kazooie spiritual successor was announced. A Kickstarter began for a title called Yooka-Laylee. Being made by former Rareware employees now known as Playtonic Games. The game was funded in a record thirty-eight minutes! Fast forward to now and the game is finally here and after watching the gameplay videos I'm extremely excited to play this game and relive that Platforming glory of yesteryear. 

The story begins with that sweet Grant Kirkhope music, and your two protagonists, Yooka the Iguana and Laylee the Bat. They have finally found a home where they can relax and do as they please. It turns out the book that Laylee has been using as a coaster is targeted by the two antagonists Capital B and Dr. Quack. The book is actually all-powerful and is able to change the fabric of the universe; and if put into the wrong hands can cause destruction. They built a machine that sucks all the books in the world into their facility as they hope to capture the book they seek most. As it's being pulled away into Hivory Towers the "Pagies" end up escaping the books case and scatter across the six worlds.

  
Even Shovel Knight makes an appearance!

There's the Hub World, Hivory Towers. Within Hivory Towers are five other worlds to dive into to collect Pagies. quills, ghost writers, and pay to learn moves from your move dealer Trowzer to progress throughout the game. Each world is open, allowing you to tackle challenges in any order you want with the exception of a few that require a move you need to purchase later on. The downside is that there are only five worlds to visit. I feel like they could've added more content. All of the worlds look fantastic though; and even better once you extend them (which is possible by using your pagies.) In each level, you can collect atoms known as Mollycools. Dr. Puzz, who originally worked for Capital B until Dr. Quack stole all of her work and claimed it as his own, uses the Mollycools to help you on your journey. She is able to transform you in each world to give you exclusive abilities to get Pagies and gather information. One of the worst parts about this game is the Rextro Mini-games. You get access to these by collecting an arcade coin in each level and you get a Pagie by beating the Hi-Score. Each one is incredibly annoying and I wish they didn't include these in the game at all. Another issue that hurts the game are the camera angles. They piss me off beyond belief. There have been plenty of times when I have gotten close to a Pagie or completing some type of objective and the camera screws me over and I have to start over.



Yooka-Laylee is a time machine for better or worse. It takes everything that we remember from games like Banjo-Kazooie and modernizes it to bring us to that place we look back at so fondly. Playtonic Games did exactly what we all wanted and made a true spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie. Right from the start it feels like you're back in 1997 when you set up your Nintendo 64 and put that cartridge in. It's pure joy, a refreshing title that shines around all the serious AAA titles of today regardless of the issues. Games nowadays have become too serious. Which isn't a bad thing, it's just in my opinion that gaming today has become too over-saturated with FPS and Action games. We need games like Yooka-Laylee to come out and get us away from the realistic tone most games have. We put our money into this when it was in Kickstarter and I'm personally happy with it. Hopefully with all the quips we got in the game about a sequel brings hope that we'll get one!
At its core, Persona 5 is a game about managing your time. Each day in the world Atlus created has players deciding between socializing with friends, improving the protagonist's stats via a multitude of activities, going to school and of course exploring/decoding the twisted cognitive of a variety of villainous individuals in manifested palaces that represent their warped desires. You know, normal high school stuff. Persona 5 has players managing time in game but ironically enough, if you're anything like me, you will quickly become very poor at managing time in real life! It's been two weeks since the game saw a Western release and I've dumped around 60 hours into the game, playing whenever I can (sleep is for the weak anyway). I'm about halfway through and needless to say Persona 5 is an incredibly meaty game, and it can be a little overwhelming sometimes. Fear not! I've put together a list of tips and tricks that will help you out in the early (first half) game!


MILD SPOILERS AHEAD

Persona 5
Developed by Atlus
Available now on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4


Thieves Guild
Whenever you boot up Persona 5 you'll be asked if you'd like to connect to the "Thieves Guild" before you start playing. Persona 5 if a single player JRPG, however, the Thieves Guild gives players access to a variety of pretty helpful online capabilities! Obviously this feature is only available if you have an internet connection.

- If one of your party members get taken hostage in a battle, you may call upon the Thieves Guild for a swift rescue!


- When you get called on to answer a question during class you can check and see what answer players around the world answered. It's important to note you can't do this during exams. Come on now, that's cheating.

- While you're out and about in Tokyo you can hit the touch pad to check what players spent their day doing. Personally I never found this feature to be critically important, but it's cool to see what your fellow Persona players are prioritizing.




 SAY YES


Open Sesame
Frequently your days will be split up in three sections - school, after school and evenings. More often than not you're free to spend your days as you see fit, spending time with friends (more on that later), working part time jobs, studying, etc, etc. With so many decisions to make it can be really easy to accidentally let entire weeks pass by before you even know it. Honestly, that's perfectly fine. However, I highly suggest you tell your friends no once in a while so you can set aside an evening to create some lock picks. What kind of thief doesn't have a steady supply of lock picks!? Creating some takes up an entire evening block of time as well as a tin clasp and a silk yarn, which can be found in dungeons or bought at the thrift shop around the corner. The amount of lock picks you can make in a single evening depends on your current proficiency, starting at 2 and going all the way up to 6. Trust me, you're going to want to bring around 5 to each palace, and open every chest you find because they will disappear once you finish the Palace. Not to mention the rare chance of coming across a locked chest in Mementos.  


It's perfectly normal for a high school student to make a bunch of lock picks at night with his weird cat.

Mementos
Speaking of Mementos, don't neglect it! Mementos is sort of represented as a place to pursue optional side quests, grind for money and items or to collect some Personas, but it also brings so much to the plot. I certainly do not want to give anything away but go out of your way to pursue as many optional targets that you can in the world of Mementos. You won't regret it. 

Gun Control
Pretty early on in you gain access to an Airsoft shop that sells a variety of equipment including melee weapons, accessories, armor and even guns! Well, fake guns. You'll see if you haven't already. Managing money is a huge challenge in Persona 5, and I have a very important tip to help ease the financial stress of being a high school student...don't buy guns! Guns are just as expensive as melee weapons, but there's little reason to invest in constant upgrades. No matter what, if an enemy is weak to gunfire they will fall to ANY gun, allowing a follow up, which is the main purpose of ranged weapons anyway. Not to mention you'll find plenty of upgrades in dungeons without breaking bank. 



Don't buy guns from this guy! 

 Booksmart
While we're on the subject of spending money, buy every single book you can. Gaining stats is an incredibly important part of Persona 5, and time management makes it a bit difficult. Usually you will have to devote an entire time frame to increasing a stat (watching a movie, playing a video game, working, etc). Occasionally on the way to school you will manage to get a seat on the subway, giving you the perfect opportunity to read a book. While these events are random, they are essentially a free stats boost that costs you no time, so make sure to have a book available to take advantage! You can buy books in various parts of Tokyo, but in the early game Shibuya's Central Street has a bookstore.

Confidants
One of the most unique and most important mechanics of Persona 5 is spending time with the people you meet. That being said, these relationships also make up some of the strongest narrative in the game, as you slowly get close with people and understand them better. There is a whole batch of characters you can forge bonds with, and each of these characters are represented by a different Arcana, or classes of Tarot cards, which is a major theme in the Persona series. In Persona 5 each Arcana offer immediate benefits and some are pretty damn valuable, especially if you get the rolling early. First off, forging bonds with the actual party members that accompany you in battle is insanely valuable. Each party member has different progressions but they will all greatly benefit you in combat in one way or another. It's also a great way to get a deeper look at some of the characters you will be spending the most time with due to the main plot. The Death, The Star, The Moon, The Temperance and The Strength are also confidants I would certainly recommend investing in as soon as you can, judging the Arcana solely on immediate usefulness. However I also implore you to spend time with whatever characters you choose to; Persona is amazing in that sense. Even if I believe these Arcana offer some of the best benefits, you should forge the story you wish and there will surely be other benefits.

So many Arcana, so little time.

Gotta Catch Em' All
Following the same formula of past Persona games, the protagonist is capable of summoning a multitude of persona, as opposed to summoning one like your other party members. If you've already started playing Persona 5 or played a past game in the franchise you're currently nodding, if not...well don't worry about it. Each Persona provides the protagonist with a variety of moves and magic, strengths and even weaknesses, so amassing a good pool of persona is really important. Here's some tips to make sure you've got a great line-up at all times.

- Thanks to the ability to summon any persona you've previously registered in the Velvet Room, collect every single persona you can. If you have to toss a persona to make room, don't sweat it. You can summon them back later if need be.

- You collect Persona via "negotiating" with the shadows you combat in dungeons. To start conversation with a shadow you simply have to exploit the weakness of each enemy you are facing For example, casting a fire spell on a shadow that is weak to fire will cause this shadow to fall down. If every enemy you are facing is "down" you can initiate a hold-up. During a hold-up you can demand money or an item from a single shadow in the group of enemies, but more important you can ask them to lend you their power. Once you do you will initiate a conversation, and if you can win the demon over, he will become a new mask, or persona, for the protagonist. Even though they explain this all pretty early, there's a trick to making sure your conversation with the demon goes well every time. During a hold-up, the targeted demon's personality will be displayed in the top left corner of your screen. There are 4 personalities: gloomy, upbeat, timid and irritable, and each personality responds different to your approach. The protagonist has 4 different response options: vague, serious, funny, kind. Atlus tucked this gem away in the manual, if you're wondering how people figured this out.


This cheat sheet does not need to be law, there's certainly a good amount of fun in trying to converse with demons on your own. However, in an important negotiation this is a lifesaver.

- Experiment with fusion. Fusing persona is an efficient way to expand your compendium and pass on powerful abilities to new persona. Spend some time learning what your persona can fuse into and what ability combinations create the strongest strategy. Take special note of the "group fusions" that become available a bit later, since the persona these create are incredibly powerful.


As Seen on TV
Every Sunday evening find yourself a television so you can check out the Home Shopping Network. You can buy a CRT TV for your room at the thrift shop around the corner, but until then you can use the TV in Leblanc. You can buy some pretty good stuff for pretty cheap and sometimes even in bulk. The best part is shopping doesn't even spend any time!

Get a Job!
Last but certainly not least, I cannot stress how important getting a part time job is. Not only is it a great way to make some quick cash, some jobs have stat buffs, Mementos targets and even confidants attached to them. It's also important to note you can apply to every single job you come across and you choose your own hours! You can even go months without working and you won't even get fired...if only, amirite?

The Flower Shop part time job has quickly become on of my favorite ways to spend days outside of confidants. Good pay, kindness up and even some Mementos progress!


I feel like I could keep going and going with this list, since there's just SO much to do in Persona 5. I'd love to give some more advice about Persona fusion and boss fights, but perhaps I'll save that for when I finish the game. I hope this guide helps players manage their time a bit more efficiently in the school year! If you have any spoiler-free early game tips, let us know in the comments! Enjoy high school!

I was successful putting time towards Persona 5. At the time of writing, I've logged about 21 hours of living an ordinary Japanese highschool life. I'm enjoying everything about Persona 5. It's very stylish,as is the most recent Persona games. I want to jump in and play to my heart's content but I can easily spend half the day playing and not mind it. So for now, I'm limiting my play time to two or three days a week at most. I think budgeting my play time for heavy story games is my best course of action. In my free time, I've played Shovel Knight and Guild Wars 2. I focused on Shovel Knight with the intent to beat the game and have been playing Guild Wars 2 to satisfy my MMO craving.







Shovel Knight
In a serious attempt to get through my backlog, I put all other games aside to focus on beating Shovel Knight. I didn't get all the collectibles or finish all the challenges but it was a wild ride. The final boss sequence was a great way to close out the game. Overall, I've enjoyed my playthrough of Shovel Knight. The platforming was fun and the extra stages were pretty tricky to get around. The game's been out for a while now but I don't want to say if  you were on the fence and found yourself reading this. It's a well done platformer and I highly suggest you give it a try when you have time. Shovel Knight has two DLCs released but only the Nintendo Switch has access to the second DLC at the time of this post. I'll have to revisit the DLCs after I chip away at my queue.




Guild Wars 2
My "evergreen" game,a term my coworker has been whipping out whenever I play games not on my queue. I think the term evergreen game fits what I like to play. The kind of games that don't have an end point to reach that you can play whenever and still enjoy yourself. With that said, I learned with my brief stint in WoW that I need to set goals for myself before I get bored with a giant world. A goal I've been slowly working towards is completing my character's "story". The short version is your story is a chain of story-based quests that can splinter depending on your dialogue. The angle they had in mind was to have you make meaningful choices and forge a unique leveling experience. From what I gathered playing two characters, you have points where your stories have to converge to get through the plot and anything in between is based on the choices you've made. It was a fun experience but I don't plan on doing it again with my other characters.


Persona 5
SO.MUCH.STYLE. Now, due to unfortunate circumstances, I haven't had a chance to finish a Persona game. I got into the series in my youth with Persona 3 and I'm familiar with the flagship series, Shin Megami Tensei. If you haven't played the recent Persona games, the best way I can describe it is 50% Dating Sim (build relationships with people and <3 <3 <3) and 50% JRPG.  What got me into the Persona series was the soundtrack. There's some J-Pop with hip-hop mixed into it. It's pretty much my jam. With Persona 5, I'm determined to set aside time to play through it and eventually beat it.

Without saying too much about Persona 5, that's what I've been working on. Not sure what I'll play next after beating Shovel Knight. I could go back and finish Shantae:Half Genie Hero but there's also a new Kirby game on the 3DS eShop that I'm curious about. I want to continue scheduling time for Persona 5 but I'm getting hooked with each session. I just want to sit down and sink hours into it each night but I need to work on my backlog. Ah well, maybe the next blog post will be a spoiler heavy blog& play of Persona 5!



Hidden within the pages of it's teenage angst, Drawn to Death has the potential to be a popular arena shooter. Especially being free with PlayStation Plus. To be completely honest; I hate this game, I really do. I can't stop playing though. Maybe because it has that Twisted Metal arena vibe to it? The game takes place in a high school kids notebook. All an expression of his imagination while he sits bored in class. A neat thing is the trophies and character bios of Drawn to Death tell a story of the kids day to day life. It's a nice little touch to kind of give you a look into the "creator" of the world you're playing in. 

The first thing that caught my eye was how good the art style is. Everything from the menus to the characters and items look like they have been hand drawn and it looks fantastic. Each arena looks great and if you look around the arena you can find little drawings/notes that relates to the kids everyday life, which is pretty neat. There are portals you can go through to help you escape from the enemy or flank. The gameplay itself isn't too bad either. Plays like most arena shooters but falls a tad short due to a four player limit. Maybe in a future update there might be a mode with room for more players but it feels a little empty sometimes on certain stages. Other stages fit that mold perfectly. 

You unlock weapons by gaining XP which fills up a blood key. Each weapon has its own damage; some weapons are quite overpowered such as the Russian Jackhammer and the Star Laser 3000 but that's known for happening in these types of games. With the use of plenty creative weapons such as the J-RPG which is a console rocket launcher that shoots missiles that explode in 8-bit goodness. There are also two different versions of it. One is a "Used Copy" and the other is a "New Copy". There are different weapons involving people/animals; Dodge ball Dan, Emily, and the Evil Monkey. Once the timer gets close to zero, the announcer will make you aware of a golden gun that has been placed on the stage for you. 

There are a few different games modes. You have your Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and the really fun Organ Donor Game mode. In Organ Donor every time you kill an enemy they drop a heart. After collecting one or numerous hearts you go to the deposit and let the meter fill up and you get points according to the amount of your deposit. There are areas that are stationary that give you points according to the amount of hearts you have and moving areas that give you double points. Which is the most powerful gun in the game to help close in on a win. 

Each of the six characters have their own special abilities, as well as weaknesses/strengths to other characters. A melee attack might do more/less damage, or a special ability could be negated if activated on a specific character. It's a nice touch and throws a challenge into the game itself. Sometimes it doesn't matter though if everyone decides to be the same character *cough* Alan *cough*. 



There is one problem with this game and drags it down a tremendous amount. The "humor." I'm totally fine with immature jokes because I make those type of jokes all the time; but the amount of language/offensive humor in it is ridiculous. While playing the game with every kill, special move, item grab, death, spawn, basically anything you do, the announcer is making some remark that usually ends with a flurry of language. Including a 45 second rant about how the kill you got gave him an erection. Though I'm totally fine with all of that but it's all said so often you'll hear them a good 20 times a game (kind of an over-exaggeration). It's incredibly annoying but luckily you can turn the narrator off (Thank God). He is without a doubt the worst part of this game. 

The tutorial was unnecessarily long and could've been cut down to about half if they didn't have to stop after every movement for a frog to tell you what to do and also rip into you in about two paragraphs each time. The only good part about the tutorial though was when they tell you to reload; they tell you to actually say "reload". After failing they tell you to say it a little louder, maybe yell it out. Then they get you with the psyche. It was very clever. I fell for the first part but I didn't want to yell reload in my house, my friend playing with me however, fell for it. And it was hilarious. On top of all of this there are taunts and gifs you are able to show on screen when you're in the lobby, get a kill, and win a match. All of the gifs are obnoxious and terrible, with the exception of one that got a chuckle out of me. The only reason I can believe that they felt all of this terrible humor is okay is due to the game taking place in a High-Schooler's notebook. Since it's an immature kid it makes sense that this type of humor is present. It doesn't make it okay though. It negatively impacts the game and it suffers strongly from it. None of this offends me though. It's just embarrassingly obnoxious and lame. Not even stupid teenage me would've thought any of this was funny. 

Even with all of the obnoxious flaws Drawn to Death presents, it's still a game worth giving a shot at. It has potential and I have high hopes for it. As long as it keeps a player base it should be around for quite awhile. They just have to draw out better plans in the future. More characters, new weapons, arenas, cutting down the humor/announcer's comments, etc. It could really make the game great. It already has a unique style and it's pulled off quite well. Though in all honesty it's not worth $19.99 right now. We'll have to see what happens! 


  I'm so happy to say we live in a day and age where the gaming subculture is well accepted! Now we can have fancy parties.

Recently one of my very close gaming buddies entered a new relationship with a girl who doesn't really game much. For my buddy this doesn't make or break the relationship, not even close, but it did start a dialogue with me about how to help introduce such a prominent hobby in his life to someone close to him. It's really important to note that times are a lot different from when we were kids when it comes to the gaming subculture. A comprehensive poll done by Big Fish states that 50% of all males play video games and 48% of all females play games, averaging 49% of all adults.  However only 10% of adults will openly label themselves as "gamers."  This brings up an interesting question in how a gamer can reach out to the casual to non-gamer and bridge that gap.

After much conversation I've compiled a list of tips for helping to introduce the gaming subculture or helping to deepen the pool of a significant other, sibling, parents, etc! I don't really believe all people are capable of grinding MMOs for hours a day or taking on the challenge of Dark Souls or even casually playing a MOBA, but I do believe if gaming is important to you, the people close to you will be willing to give some stuff a try and something might stick.


Start Casual
Not all video games need to be highly competitive, require insane reflexes or be massive time sinks. Unfortunately those are attributes of some of the most popular ones. If you're trying to introduce somebody to gaming try thinking on a very casual scale to start. Nintendo consoles really strike a chord when it comes to the casual side of gaming, especially thanks to their energetic movement games like Wii Sports and 1,2 Switch. Super Mario Maker is a game I've seen have great success right here in the shop as a way for gamers to connect with non-gaming parents or siblings and even couples thanks to the ability to use your imagination to create some silly and action packed stages. There are also platforming games like Super Mario 64, Banjo Kazooie, Spyro the Dragon and even Crash Bandicoot that come off as super casual thanks to how simple everything is, but are great starting points to the imaginative media gaming offers. I'm excited to say this summer we will have some retro titles available right here at LAN Mob when we add in our new retro station! I think people's ideas of what "casual gaming" is can be drastically different (I play League of Legends casually), but consider what would be best for the gateway player by asking what they have played/liked and go from there.


Say what you will about Nintendo's design choices, but you must admit they really know how to make a casual gaming experience. My elderly father used to play Wii Baseball with me!



Couch-Coop
One of my favorite sub-genres of gaming, gateway or not! I wrote a blog a while back chronicling a top 10 couch-coop titles and I would seriously suggest every single one to your gateway player and you. Games like Champions of Norrath, Jamestown and even Overcooked can be pretty difficult but a lot of that difficulty and hesitation to play can be wavered for the newer player simply because they are playing the game with friends or YOU. Since these games are cooperative, the team's victory is everyone's victory, and that can make for a much funner experience for a player who doesn't really know everything going on. I can't even begin to count the amount of times my friend group has dragged nearby friends and "non-gamers" into all sorts of titles and they had a blast.



Party Games
Even though some party games go against the fun cooperative nature and the benefits they offer for newer players, (some have a distinct winner and distinct losers) the right party game can really be engrossing. Games like Mario Party, Mario Kart, Guitar Hero etc, etc offer some casual fun in a group of friends, even if you aren't some elite Guitar Hero player!


Gang Beasts is a fantastic example of a perfect party game. The game is ridiculous enough where you can't really get upset at losing, and you just want to keep playing to get revenge. 



 Up to this point, this all may seem a little obvious, and I don't disagree. If you're going to introduce someone to a hobby you love deeply, it's clearly best to start off small. Whether your attempted convertee plays select games, no games or even exclusively mobile games (which is becoming a common trend according to Big Fish), I believe the above attack plan will work out! I don't offer a money back guarantee though...Time to think outside the box a bit! 


Your Favorites
I'll tell you right now, this won't always work. However, I still think there's an immeasurable amount of value in handing somebody your absolute favorite book, movie or in this case, video game and saying, "This is my absolute favorite video game experience." In the case of my close gaming buddy, his very favorite game series is Dark Souls. That's the definition of not accessible for somebody who doesn't play a lot of games. (I'd still recommend it...) However, if somebody has been dabbling a bit in different games and titles and your absolutely favorite game of all time is less difficult, the newer player may take your suggestion seriously and open a whole new world of gaming for them. I once got my elderly father to play Ape Escape because I told him it was my favorite game! I even got Slooze to commit to Persona 3 for a bit before he moved away from home, just by saying it was one of my very favorites! I think people consider your strong opinions a bit when choosing games to commit too. Dictator's strong love of the Mass Effect series makes me feel guilty for never playing it.  


Tabletop Gaming
I've been playing tabletop games for quite a long time and sometimes I prefer it way more than video games to be honest. There's all sorts of tabletop games ranging from the well known simple favorites like Sorry, Life and Monopoly to even a bit more complicated classics like Risk and Catan. You can even find games of immense depth like Twilight Imperium 3 and Empire of the Sun which take hours and hours to complete. Tabletop gaming and video games share a lot of gameplay mechanisms, like puzzle solving, planning ahead and general tactics. They can even share the same imaginative and creative themes. Much like the world of video games, there's a plethora of choices and options when it comes to tabletop gaming and I guarantee you can find something for everybody.


One of my playgroup's favorite games, King of Tokyo, has players battling it out to see who the best monster in Tokyo is. King of Tokyo takes about 5 minutes to learn to play and each game can last about half an hour.

One of my personal favorite board games, "Tokaido" was recently given a "digital adaptation", which further proves the point that these hobbies are very similar.



  
I see a lot of "gateway gaming" around the shop, whether it be parents attempting to play some games with their children, brothers and sisters introducing their younger sibling to Minecraft or in my gaming buddies' case, bringing your girlfriend/boyfriend to LAN Mob to just try some new stuff out! There's something for everyone in this fantastic media, no matter what level you would consider yourself engrossed. I think when people try stuff out they can be surprised at how fun some games can be, even if they don't seem particularly accessible, and especially when they find one that clicks. I'm happy to say LAN Mob is a place where we can help bridge that gap.  



Officially dropping Pokemon Moon from the juggling act I call my game rotation!! My last entry was late February where I stopped just before my first encounter with a (creepy looking) Ultra Beast? Since the start of the new year, my motivation to play&blog Pokemon Moon has been waning to say the least. I didn't dislike blogging about my adventures through Pokemon Moon but I do think there could be a better way for me to do things. This entry will be me picking my brain trying to figure out what I liked and dislike during my time blogging about Pokemon Moon. I hope that by doing this, I can look back and focus on what went right with my blog and what went wrong in order to make a better blog.

Cons


  • Intimately familiar with Pokemon

With every new Pokemon game, I'm excited to see the new Pokemon designs and what they've done to change the core Pokemon experience. Unfortunately, that's where my excitement ends after playing all but a few entries into the main line of Pokemon games. I'm more interested in blazing through the game until I beat the Elite Four. Forming somewhat competitive teams, breeding for stats and egg moves and EV training is where I start enjoying Pokemon. It's just easier to do these things after you beat the Elite Four instead of before. To combat this, I tried to go against this and take my time playing through Pokemon Moon. I enjoyed exploring the Alola Region thus far but I'm too impatient to play through it at this time.
  • Screen captures are disabled

The biggest issue with assembling posts for the PokeBlog was trying to naturally capture moments in Pokemon Moon. For a reason I can't comprehend, the screen capture feature is disabled on the Pokemon Games. This lead to me trying to always having my phone ready in case something cool happens like a funny piece of dialogue or defeating a tough trainer. It broke my immersion because I felt I had to be ready to capture that "moment". There were a few times where I'd save before an event and replay it just to capture a good moment.  I could always take less pictures but I felt it gave insight to whatever I was doing. If I'm ever to do another playthrough blog, I'll have to either avoid games that disable screenshots(what are the chances?) or decide what's a healthy balance of pictures to take.
  • Undermined by my habits

I have a weird habit where I don't like sitting still or doing one thing for too long. Usually, this means I'll walk around a lot while playing games, watching TV or even reading on my smartphone. It's hard for me to get hooked into games or shows because of this. Believe it or not, it's even worse with handhelds. Although I can play wherever I chose with a handheld, this means I can also stop playing mid session and maybe go a few days before I pick it back up again. There were many times where I'm in the middle of a Pokemon battle, close my game and have my battery die before I can resume that battle. I'm getting better at managing this habit but I'll have to accept going with the flow instead of forcing myself to play.

Pros


  • Pokemon Moon was better than I expected

I thought long and hard about it but liked my playthrough so far. I'm loving the tropical setting and I think the Alola variants are a cute twist on older Pokemon. I'm not just saying that because Alola Dugtrio is favorite Pokemon, either! Z-Moves are a nice change compared to Mega Evolutions. On paper, it doesn't sound as oppressive as Mega Evolutions. You don't have to worry too much on having an entire party swept by a Mega Evolved Pokemon. The Ride Pokemon are, to me, a welcomed change after forcing myself to carry one or two Pokemon that knew only HM moves so that I may travel freely around that game's region. Poke Pelagos are a cute gimmick. They add a mobile game element to Pokemon with timed activities such as sending your Pokemon on expeditions for treasures or my personal favorite, passively EV training your Pokemon. If you can't tell, I really like the characters I've met so far, including Team Skull! There's so charming and goofy. I look forward to 
  • I liked writing about my progress
Chronicling what I did every week was nice. It motivated me(for a time) to keep playing to see how far I'd get. Without the use of guides, it was fun trying to figure out what element a Trial Captain specialized and then figuring out what team I can form to best beat their trial. When I went through my camera roll, I looked at each Pokemon team photo I took and remembered who I was trying to beat at that time. Pictures that invoke those type of emotions are something I want to focus on while writing my blog posts.


That's it for the Pokeblog, for now. I think typing out all of this helped me realize the good and bad parts of how I wrote the Pokemon Moon playthrough blog. Hopefully, I actually take away something  good from this and it'll help me write a better playthrough blog in the future. Maybe I'll  revisit Pokemon Moon when I stop being fickle about playing monster taming RPGs. For now, "Mr. Moon's Wild Ride" is stopping on Ula'Ula Island/The Third Island of the Alola Region.



Before Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution dominated the Rhythm game scene there was the innovator, PaRappa the Rapper. In honor of the 20th anniversary on Dec. 6, Sony announced a remaster of the original title! PaRappa The Rapper was originally released on PlayStation in the U.S. on November 17, 1997  and There were no games at the time that could be compared to it. With the combined minds of music producer Masaya Matsuura and artist Rodney Greenblat, they were able to make a kick-ass game that was truly original and helped the PlayStation launch into people's homes. Though our rapping dog had a short lived franchise, he still lives through all the memories that kids (now adults) have of plaything this title back in the day. They released a demo but I held out on it and decided to patiently wait until April 4th and its finally here! Released only on the PSN for only $14.99 or $11.99 if you're a PS Plus member, it's a pretty good deal. I decided to set Persona 5 aside and give this a go, after all it won't take long.


The game centers around PaRappa the dog, who is trying to impress the love of his life; Sunny Funny. Along the way he goes though a few different scenarios. He trains at a Dojo, gets his driver's license, gets a job, and bakes a cake (which for some reason is the most difficult thing ever). While PaRappa is rapping with each guru, you have to press the button the cursor goes over at the top of the screen. With the guru busting one line; then you follow. There are six stages you have to go through in total. The fifth stage has you battle against your gurus for use of the toilet. The last you're taking the stage and impressing everyone with your raps! You gotta believe!

Is PaRappa The Rapper Remastered a faithful remaster that does the original justice? Yes. It has been revamped with hi-res textures and looks beautiful on the PlayStation 4. Every song in this game is awesome and while corny (like it was when released) it's still catchy as hell. I find myself quoting the songs "DO YOU KNOW WHY WE STOPPED THE CAR?" It's upbeat and lively. There are a few gripes I have with this remaster though. One being the cut-scenes between each stage. They're ripped straight from the original with no changes which is upsetting. I don't see why couldn't improve those too? It's not a huge deal but I felt it was a little weird they didn't bother update them. The other issue is the ridiculous amount of rage this game produces. There is still input lag from what I heard was an issue with the original. Maybe it's just my monitor but It would've made sense to add a calibration setting to fix these issues but clearly they didn't think that was needed. I was stuck on the Cheap Cheap Chicken stage for quite some time. There's no way my rhythm is that bad. I know its not. As one of our regulars was in the shop he was watching me hit everything spot on, but it would drop my "good" to "bad" and then finally to "awful" and failing the level. This Chicken is garbage and I hate her with every fiber of my being. After rage quitting, the next day though I decided to just spam each button and that seemed to work. That damn chicken wasn't going to beat me again. I wouldn't allow it. She had some good rhymes though, now the song is stuck in my head. I ended up doing that for the rest of the game and it worked perfectly. It's definitely a product of its time as it just oozes 90's. It's fantastic. Except the chicken. The chicken is not fantastic. She says in the beginning of her song "Everyday stress comes in every way" this level was the pinnacle of stress. I hate it. I hate it so, so much. Thank god it's over. 

The best thing about this remaster is aside from the timing issues and even though it has been 20 years, it still feels fresh. Other than it's sequel and spin-off UmJammer Lammy, PaRappa the Rapper is still a game that's unique. You don't see many rhythm games like this. It has this charm to it that leaves you wanting more. While I would have preferred a third entry in the series instead of this remaster; maybe this is a way to see if there's still interest in this franchise? After him being in PlayStation All-Stars I was hoping for some type of game including PaRappa. I'm glad we were able to get something and who knows? Maybe if this remaster sells well we might see an official sequel in the future. They could do a lot with a new PaRappa, they could collaborate with a few artists and have them help with writing new songs! Though PaRappa the Rapper Remaster made me rage, it's a refreshing blast from the past.
We hear the idiom, "Don't judge a book by its cover." at a really young age, and we hear it often. It's a great metaphorical phrase meaning one should not prejudge the worth or value of something by its outward appearance alone (in case you didn't know). That being said, video games actually tend to be judged by outward appearances pretty quickly. Graphical style, ESRB, developers, etc, etc, can all work in tandem to give off a general basic idea of what kind of atmosphere or feel a game will have before we even get playing. In fact, I've bought games on box art alone! However, the metaphor could not stand firmer for Frozenbyte's partnership project with GameTrust, "Has Been Heroes". Has Been Heroes is a delightfully breezy looking game with a simple premise and a light $20.00 price tag to match, however, almost nothing about the gameplay is light. Has Been Heroes is an insanely deep, brutal and punishing title.

 Developer - Frozenbyte
Publisher - GameTrust  
Available for Xbox One, PS4, Windows, Nintendo Switch


I've written about roguelikes and difficulty in a past blog and I'm a huge fan of the genre. As expected from the genre, you will die in Has Been Heroes and you will die A LOT. To anyone who didn't know what Has Been Heroes is, would you have guessed it was a tactical combat roguelike? Exactly. Has Been Heroes follows the story of Tam the Rogue, Crux the Warrior and Metacles the Monk (among many more heroes as you unlock them) and their legendary mission to...well their mission is to escort the young princesses to school. However, shortly after their adventure begins it is brought to an abrupt end as our heroes are hit with a random falling meteor. This is when players are introduced to the major mechanic of death in Has Been Heroes. Our Heroes find themselves at the gates of Heaven where god himself offers to revive the protagonists in exchange for their help defeating a great ghoul terrorizing the land. Now that players are introduced to dying, it's time to go die a lot!


The plot doesn't show up very often other than some silly banter between your heroes relating to your quest. Players unlock more spells and items after each playthrough by giving God some orbs from the enemies you've slain, and players can unlock more playable heroes by succeeding in runs. Players can check out their library of unlocked content at the main menu, but unfortunately these menus seem barely finished - but more on that later.


Has Been Heroes gameplay is unlike anything I've ever played before and that's a really good thing. Players move their heroes along a maze-like map (bottom right of the above screenshot!) where they can fight enemies, stop at shops, gamble and open chests among other things. Players collect keys, coins and candles (a resource that allows you to backtrack) on their way to the final boss of each area. Moving around the map is pretty simple and straight forward, combat however...Each of your heroes occupies one of three lanes at any given time, and enemies will appear in one of each lane as well. Once again, following the theme, combat is way deeper then it first seems. As you can see, each party member has a health bar and small green blocks next to them. Those blocks represent Stamina, which is a massive part of combat. For the most part, a character's stamina must be broken before you can hack away at their health bar. You see, even the plethora of enemy types that barrel towards your party also have a stamina bar that needs to be dealt with. Each hero type has X amount of attacks and it is in your best interest to take out an enemy's stamina with an exact attack, and it's extremely important to plan each move very carefully, because melee attacks have cooldowns. For example, if an enemy has three stamina and the rogue attacks them, they will have zero stamina, but the rogue will now be on cooldown. When an enemy goes down to zero stamina they become stunned, and the next attack aimed their way will go straight for their health pool AND send them to the back of the lane. It's pretty important. If you aren't managing stamina well things can take a pretty bad turn and you'll get overwhelmed really quickly.

This is what getting overwhelmed looks like.

There's still much more to combat than attack and stamina management. For one, each Hero comes equipped with a weapon that has various stats, some are passive such as "20% cooldown on all spells", and some are as game changing as "When you cast a spell, you can automatically attack again". On top of your weapons, players can find a number of passive items on their journey that vary from simple attribute buffs/nerfs, immunity to elemental effects and even extra stamina bars. The plethora of items allow you to essentially create a "build" for each hero, considering their strengths and weaknesses. The variety doesn't stop there! Players can also gain access to a bunch of spells (elemental and physical) to assist in combat. Some simply do damage, some wreck stamina and others apply status effects. These mechanics easily make up my favorite aspect of Has Been Heroes, the variety. It's a common trend in rogue-likes to "rarely run the same build twice", but considering the unique combat and dungeon crawl style, Frozenbyte did a marvelous job of making each run rewarding, even if you don't do so well. As I mentioned above, after each run, all the orbs you've gathered are turned in towards progress to unlock an even wider pool of spells and items. Unfortunately, this amount of depth can have some negatives, based on who you ask.
Some of these spells are a massive power spike.

So, much to my dismay, I really didn't care for Has Been Heroes at first. Originally, it was due to the sheer brutal difficulty, because as I've mentioned, this game is way tougher then I ever imagined. I don't really mind restarting over and over, but more than any other roguelike, this got monotonous really quickly. Perhaps it was due to the tiny pool of early enemies, rolling bad spells all the time or the less than stellar soundtrack, but things started to feel like a chore.  As with any roguelike, the more you play the more you understand and the bigger your item pools become, helping you deal with the difficulty spikes. However, that doesn't really address the biggest problem plaguing Has Been Heroes. Frozenbyte has created one of the deepest and easily most strategic combat systems I've ever seen in a roguelike, but they barely tell you how it works! That being said, I'm no stranger to the genre. I have over 200 hours in Binding of Issac and a near Platinum Trophy in Enter the Gungeon, among many others, and these games don't hold your hand in the least. However, they make all of their game mechanics known to you pretty quickly, and Has Been Heroes simply doesn't clue you in on a lot. Frozenbyte's lack of explanation for mechanics like elements interacting and effecting enemies, a very cool backstab mechanic and even a thoughtful and helpful system of equipping spells in certain places providing powerful passives seem to be excused by "This is a roguelike!". They don't even tell you what the previously mentioned candles do! Frozenbyte has developed an awesome combat system that has so much going on and it's a self inflicted wound to allow your playerbase to get frustrated and confused by some bad tutorials right out of the gate. It's not as simple as writing it off as a supplementary mechanic of the genre.

"Wait...I can do what!?

I still genuinely enjoy Has Been Heroes for what it is. It took sometime and unfortunate outsourcing but once you understand how the game works it's a total blast. Some of the most difficult situations start to feel really manageable and conquering them feels incredible. I slowly started to think of combat as a chess match, thinking three, four, even five moves ahead to succeed. Boss fights are a massive spike in difficulty and can be really jarring, but the spells you unlock from failing will eventually help you succeed. These spells as well as items and even heroes are documented on the main menu, but unfortunately there is almost no information here. It feels like a huge oversight to not include a proper bestiary or item pool for players to check out. Outside of these problems, Has Been Heroes accomplishes so much for such a small price tag. Frozenbyte created something great, I'm just afraid it's not particularly accessible. I definitely recommend everyone giving the game a real try, and not writing it off for the raw difficulty. Once you get into it and start to understand how the world of Has Been Heroes works; there's a really great and unique roguelike here. After all, you can't judge a book by its cover.     
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