With the nicer weather, I felt compelled to pick up Pokemon Go once again! Like a good chunk of people, I picked up the game when it came out last summer. Even though we have a ton of gyms and pokestops a few blocks down from LANMob, I never got into the game. I blame that on my laziness. To get the ball rolling on combating my laziness, I reinstalled the game before I left for vacation, as I intended to get a ton of walking around in! During that time, I made an effort to hit up at least one pokestop a day and log whatever neat thing I did.

Day 1:
Gyms were still closed when I arrived to where I was staying for my trip. I took my headphones, fold-up chair and phone at caught Pokemon at the beach while kicking back! The Pokemon I caught weren't too strong due to my low level but I was happy to expand my Pokedex. I wasn't able to get close enough to the Pokestop while at the beach, which gave me some problems the following day...

Day 2:


I threw way too many Pokeballs yesterday. I was having a real hard time catching this Poliway(my ball kept veering off to the side) and before I knew it I ran out of Pokeballs! I was devastated. Towards the end of the day I found myself with a set of Pokeballs. In another stroke of good fortune, I was able to catch the ??? CP Pinsir which turned into my strongest Pokemon yet! Before that I had a 300+ CP Weepingbell I caught last year. Unless it was changed from the last time I played, you get candies for setting a Pokemon as your buddy and walking around with them. I don't remember if the notification popped up but I swapped out my Eevee for "Snippy" once I filled up Eevee's gauge.


Day 3:
Between the Pokemon beach party and restocking my Pokeballs the day after,I managed to jump up two levels! I wasn't as active on this day but I attempted to try the Raid Battle that was introduced with the latest update. I was very excited when I saw the Raid Battle notice popup and equally disappointed when I found out I wasn't a high enough trainer level to participate. I browsed on forums and Pokemon Go's subreddit and it looks like you must be level 20+ to participate in Raids at this time.


Day 4:


Feeling reckless, I decided to attack a Gym to test out my Pinsir. This was my first time fighting in PoGo and I was interested in how combat worked. I did a ton of tapping and swiping but I don't believe I used my charge attack move. It was fine though, I just barely won against the Arcanine. Seeing as how the Blissy was almost triple the strength of my Pinsir I relented. I do wonder if combat's any "deeper" but it must wait until I have stronger Pokemon. The hearts above the Pokemon act as stamina for the Pokemon guarding the gym. You feed them berries to keep them in the Gym and once their stamina depletes they return to their owners. Sounds much nicer than having to revisit the Gym to collect your defeated Pokemon. With the stamina system I imagine the various teams will be engaging in a tug of war with one another to take control of a Gym.With the Gym changes, I wonder if I can catch a gym off guard and topple one back home. Nevermind that, there were so many Pokestops where I was! It was like an outdoor mall so I didn't have to worry about cars while I was walking about with my phone out!

Overall, I had a ton of fun. I didn't care about my Pokemon's party until after I attacked that gym. Despite not knowing what to do I thought it was fun. People have been asking for a year but it'd be really,really cool if they could implement Trainer Battles. I like PoGo for the collection aspect and how, in cases like this where I was on vacation, it lead me to explore my surroundings. I can't say you'll see me around Rome,NY wandering between Pokestops but I'll try my best to visit them now and then.
For this week's blog post I decided to write a post similar to Enrique's past "queue" blogs. I've spent this last week barely progressing in any games at all, and I even picked up a handful of new ones that I've been waiting a while for. Outside of being generally pretty busy/working, and playing League here and there, there's one big thing stopping me from taking on any of these new games. Despite trying to budget time a bit better, I continuously find myself playing the same game whenever I get any free time, even more so this last week...   


Injustice 2

I seriously cannot stop dumping all of my time into Injustice 2. I estimated over 100 hours but wasn't surprised to see I'm currently sitting at 140 hours played. Also I want to note, I'm not talking about sitting around watching my AI duke it out, almost all of this game time is my own (not that there is anything wrong with using the AI, it's a very cool system!) Injustice has captivated me more than any fighter since Street Fighter 4, and that's thanks to NetherRealm's impressive array of content bundled in the game. Outside of the traditional time spent grinding away at combos in practice mode and completing Story mode, I spend a ton of time playing online matches. I usually plug away at player matches as I'm learning a character, and then bring them into ranked afterwards. This system keeps repeating itself because I keep finding characters I absolutely love to play. Almost every character is just so damn fun and creative, it's insane. I have around 15 level 20s and I can only imagine I'll have more then 20 by next week. This is coming from someone who didn't even like MKX that much! Another huge time sink is the Multiverse game mode towers, which has multiple challenges that award gear and loot boxes, which reset every few hours, so there's always something to work towards. It's easily the best single player content I've ever seen in a fighting game. Although I'm absolutely loving my time with Injustice, I can't help but feel some guilt when I look over at the clock and see it's 4am, and I've been playing for 6 hours. I need to start hacking away at some of the other games in my queue. So I resolved myself to actually start a game that's been on my shelf since February!

Nier Automata


Even though it's been sitting for 5 months, I was so excited for Automata. The thing about any Yoko Taro game is you have to mentally prepare yourself for what you're about to put your mind through, and I just never felt like it was a good time to dive in. Until this last week! A lot of my friends and Mobbers have said Nier Automata is close to the perfect game, and is nothing short of a masterpiece, and I'm happy to say I 100% agree so far. I might end up writing something in the future, like a review or general overview about what makes the game so beautiful, but I only completed the A path last night. I have much more to do!


Ever Oasis

Another game that just hit my current rotation is a charming little 3DS title that completely snuck under my radar. Ever Oasis is a wonderful town building adventure game developed by the dude behind the Mana series of games. I'm not very far at all, but I can immediately see why Ever Oasis is pulling such incredible reviews. Really looking forward to seeing what this game has to offer. Huge shout out to Tyler Butters for showing me this game, or it may have completely escaped me! 

  I would consider all three of the above games in my current "rotation", but there a few games just sitting on my shelf that might not get played for a while, and I'm adding TWO more this week! These are some of the games nagging me in the back of my head, but I just keep setting them on the back-burner.


Nioh

I have an on going joke with a few of my friends about the Fallout series. Whenever a new Fallout game drops I joke that I need to avoid it, like a drug addict on parole. I usually lose all sense of responsibility and reasonable lifestyle and become a total zombie. I'm pretty afraid of Nioh in that way. Samurai dark souls with a gear system? Uhhh...I have a family that needs me, I can't do it...yet.


Yakuza 0

I think Yakuza 0 is easily my most shameful backlogged game right now. I got about 15 hours into it and quit, diving full on into Persona 5. I LOVED almost every single moment with Yakuza 0 and I keep telling myself it's definitely the next game I'm getting back into. Rob has put in much more time then I have, and he says it gets even better, which is further reinforcing the GUILT. Soon Yakuza 0...I promise.


Kingdom Hearts 1.5 +2.5 Remix

I've already played most of the Kingdom Hearts series, but I recently got this HD collection for a really good deal. I've been really really itching to play the series again and this was a perfect opportunity! This one might not come off my shelf for a bit because it's hard for me to justify playing a game I already have before when...well Yakuza 0 sits there. Soon though! The heart wants what the heart wants, amirite?


Valkyria Revolution

I just picked Valkyria Revolution up yesterday! I'm a huge fan of the Valkyria Chronicles series, so when I heard the West was officially getting the spin-off, I immediately preordered. If you follow a good amount of gaming websites or blogs, you may have seen that Valkyria Revolution is pulling some pretty bad review scores. As unfortunate as that is, I will not waver, and I'll be playing Revolution for myself and forming my own opinion on it.


Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy

Lastly, I'll be picking up the Crash remaster when it releases on Friday. I love Crash, the series make up a huge part of my childhood. In fact, I usually play Crash 2 at least once a year! I'm excited to see what playing a non-polygon Crash Bandicoot is like, but I also really value the nostalgic weight the series holds for me. I guess we'll just see how it goes!

So there we have it, this is essentially my week in gaming. Whether the game is currently in my rotation, I just bought it, or I keep looking at it on my shelf, these are the major titles I've been wanting to put time into outside of the evergreen games I always find myself playing a bit with friends. I can't say I'm particularly distraught about my back log, if anything it's kind of a great thing. I always have something to look forward to popping in and enjoying. I am a little concerned about my Injustice 2 obsession. I'm doing combos in my sleep! In fact, I'm probably going to go play now...
I recently picked up a new word: Ikigai, a Japanese concept meaning "A reason for being", is finding the point where your skills, aptitudes, passions and societal needs all cross. It's the assurance that whatever your life occupation is - your way of making a living - that you approach it with the energy of your whole self.


Ikigai - bridging your life's work and your passions


LAN Mob is the manifestation of that for me, and thinking back I can remember that very February day and spot where I made up my mind to start LAN Mob; snowshoeing along a river creek I had found a large tree to sit against and just think. The small stream of water breaking through the ice was an early sign of spring and life with everything else having been frozen for weeks and miles in every direction. I was fortunately employed and making good salary, but during my working hours I felt a strong pull to be pursuing the things I loved and was passionate about - entrepreneurship, gaming, improving quality of life. My career path was on a completely different trajectory so LAN Mob had to be a side project, but I felt this project had the right overlaps that it could be my Ikigai.


The view from the spot LAN Mob was born.

I'm happy to say most of these circles have come together, although it's not fully there yet the business is slowly growing towards that point where I can make the leap to making LAN Mob my full time gig. I continue to keep a job miles away from LAN Mob, and not a day goes by where I don't imagine the day where I can invest those hours back into the business and see how far we can fly this spaceship.

I needed to be comfortable enough in my own skin to launch this very public thing that is the manifestation of who I am and that wasn't easy at first. Identity and self-confidence is something I see a lot of people struggling with. People are often chasing some ideal that their parents, relatives, or culture has set for them. They struggle in just being themselves out of fear of rejection or ridicule or otherwise.


Friendships


I'm happy that LAN Mob has become a place for gamers to gather and have fun meeting new people and trying new games. Any extroverted customer can walk into our shop and immediately start talking video games with the front desk or customers and feel 100% accepted and comfortable. This is one of the goals we set out to accomplish and I'm generally happy with the culture we've been able to foster in shop.

Still for many people it's admittedly hard to walk into a place like LAN Mob or other social clubs as a first timer. Gaming has become an activity for the home with consoles and personal computers, so a store like ours can feel a little unusual at first. We've noticed it often takes a handful of visits to our shop before a customer starts feeling like a regular around us. We have plenty of customers who come in and prefer to game alone or with their close group of friends, and that's fine too. On a typical day off I'll find myself bouncing between gaming with others and spending solo time in Adventure Capitalist or League of Legends. Gaming doesn't always have to be a social experience, although gaming with friends is admittedly much more fun!

My hope is that even people who don't necessarily consider themselves gamers can feel comfortable coming into our shop and burning a few hours playing some Overwatch, Battlegrounds or League of Legends.


Relationships


There are plenty of couples who visit and will spend hours gaming together, and it's great that we can offer an outlet for that activity. We also have our share of lonely young people around the shop, from recent break-ups to prolonged bouts of unwanted single life. Social media can amplify this as there is no shortage of couples trying to portray a perfect life, with a perfect family, house, and relationship. I've often wondered what drives some people to try so hard to make their lives appear perfect; who are they trying to convince?

This poses a problem for people who tend to look outwards and around them for understanding on how their own inner life should be. No matter how hard they try things always seem better in other people's lives. It can be a chase towards an end they'll never reach; or to use a cliche the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

It's important to build up self-confidence in your own life wherever you may be. If you're single own it. It doesn't mean you're horribly broken or never going to have the kind of relationship you want, you're just single and that's ok. Instead of being crippled to walk out your front door, be comfortable in the fact that you're just between relationships. Developing this kind of self-confidence will actually work in your favor when you do find a relationship worth pursuing, as a self-dependent person is much more attractive than a needy one.


Social Status


We humans use material things to try to boost our status up, from gold-plated iPhones to clothing, jewelry, cars, houses. An interesting study from "The Millionaire Next Door", a book which was a study on the average millionaire, found that the majority of millionaires lived somewhat humbly. They lived in an average house, purchased used mid-sized sedans, and spent within their means which allowed them to amass the savings needed to reach the millionaire level. There is a good chance if you know someone trying hard to maintain a flashy outward appearance that they're spending beyond their means and deeply in debt.

College degrees are also used as a status symbol, although the number of degrees - and student loan debt levels - are at an all time high. 34% of Americans over 18 years of age now have college degrees, and some people will use their degrees as a social status, even before they start their first job. The thinking goes "I have a degree in X field, so I'm already more successful than my peers without one". While degrees can be qualifiers in many fields to get your foot in the door, everything that comes after that depends on a person's performance and many other factors. Sometimes people discover that they hate the field they've studied in, or their interests lie elsewhere, or often there are just no real employment opportunities in their field of study.


Conclusion


People would benefit from worrying less about their outward appearances and just owning who they are right now. Dream big and set goals for where you want to be in life, and then live within your means and realities to get there. Be true to yourself, your friends, and everyone around you. Be confident and comfortable in who you are and let the universe take care of the rest.

Rayman is the coolest limbless hero ever. Recently I've been playing through Rayman Legends and it got me thinking about the past games in the series. I used to play the original Rayman a ton as a kid and it's hands down one of my favorite Platformer games.  Developed by Ludimeda and published by Ubisoft, it was released for the Atari Jaguar, Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and PC in 1995. Since then it has been ported to plenty of other consoles since then and is even on iOS and Android!

The story begins with a magician like character who gives you the gist of whats going on. The evil Mr. Dark has defeated Betilla the fairy and steals the Great Protoon (who brings peace and balance throughout the valley) leaving the Electoons vulnerable to Mr. Dark's army of goons. The Electoons are captured and put into cages. It is up to Rayman to free the Electoons and recover the Great Protoon and restore balance to the valley. "But will the bad guys let him do it?" Throughout your journey you are assisted by Betilla the Fairy, the guardian of the Great Protoon who was defeated by Mr. Dark assists you and gives you abilities to help you succeed on your quest.


tldr;

Let it be known that I've never beaten this game. To be honest, Rayman is a rough experience. Not in a negative way though! It's just incredibly difficult and it starts really easy and then cranks up the difficulty rather quickly. The first level gets you acquainted with Rayman's movement and takes all of 45 seconds at most to complete. It really begins once you get to Mosquito's nest. Each level on the Overworld map has a varying number of stages and you can't come and go as you please after the first stage. It makes it kind of like a gauntlet of sorts. You can't back out because you are low on health or power-ups. You have to suck it up and hope you don't lose all of your lives and waste a continue. 

The fabulous Overworld you travel through.

Back to Mosquito's Nest though. It's where the platforming can really put a damper on your extravagant Rayman experience. There is a part in the first stage where you are in control of a floating platform and you have to jump by these swinging spikes. It's a little difficult to explain if you've never played the game before. So when you are on the platform if you have Rayman facing the left, it'll move left. If he's facing the right, you guessed it, it'll move right! The issue is while maintaining that and focusing on not messing that up, there are the swinging spikes to spice it up. So you have to time your jump perfectly and jump over the spikes and land on the moving platform three times and you get to the end of the stage. It sounds simple but it's a massive annoyance to get through, especially if you're impatient. It's one small example how the platforming in this game can get really difficult really fast. There are tons of other parts that are 1000 times harder but that is one of the most annoying parts from my youth. One of the many things this game got right is the amount of happiness that overcomes you once you see the sign that indicates the end of the level. However, it can get aggravating. There are some instances where right before you touch that sign an item will appear. It could be a power-up, extra life, or in one case; a cage. Right when you hit the end of the level a cage appears right under you. Which left me furious. 

It should also be known that you can't fight Mr. Dark until you rescue every Electoon in the game. So if you think you could just go through the game and it doesn't matter if you save the Electoons or not you're S.O.L. You'll have to go back and collect all of them and then you'll be able to beat the game. 


The atmosphere the game presents is great; though a little random. The game begins in The Dream Forest which makes sense from looking at the valley in the beginning scene. Then you're thrown into Band Land. Which is a place made completely out of instruments. This is when the game begins to get merciless. It doesn't get any easier from here on out. Not one bit. Nowadays people claim the hardest games to come out recently are From Software's "Dark Souls" Series. While that can be debatable, I often hear people call games like Dark Souls "hard." To put it bluntly, this game is much more difficult than Dark Souls once it starts rolling. After you beat Mr. Saxophone you go to the Blue Mountains. Then to Picture City where the game begins to induce true rage. You need to be so precise at this point that even moving one small pixel forward will screw you over. IT DOESN'T STOP THERE COTTON. It laughs in your face and pushes all of these obstacles in your way and you're sure to get plenty of game overs. I almost gave up. I was really goddamn close to. I don't want to cheat. I want to legit beat this game. I ended up using the 99 Lives cheat though. I wasn't going to continue without it. My patience was wearing thin. You're better off using the cheat though since trying to get one life ends up risking up to 4 lives. Sure there are some that are easy to get but then there are some that involves running towards death head-on. It taunts you and isn't worth it but you get sucked into trying to get it anyway. I'm getting a little sidetracked..Anyway, most of the bosses involve a rhythm. Once you watch/dodge their attacks you get the hang of it and it gets easier. Afterwards you get to dance with the bosses and it's pretty awesome. Some of the bosses involve absolute perfect timing. With being in even a fraction off will result in the loss of a life. Possibly even numerous times. Mr. Skops is a prime example of this. He shoots out a homing ball of energy that shoots past then loops around to you. Your goal is to jump over it at the right time so it hits him instead. Sounds simple enough, but there are times where its almost unavoidable and you get hit. 

This is the piece of trash right here.

It only makes beating the boss that much sweeter. You feel on top of the world and so accomplished. Which is what I really like about the game. The final boss can be a bit tricky. It starts with three levels before the final showdown. Then the showdown with Mr. Dark begins! He taunts you with a golden fist and attacks you once you realize you can't get it. After avoiding said attacks, some Electoons help and get the golden fist for you! Afterwards you go into a gauntlet where you face the previous bosses then the fight is over. It's a little disappointing considering how difficult the rest of the game is. Even worse is you never really "fight" Mr. Dark to begin with. This is the only thing that I consider a flaw from an otherwise fantastic game.

 
The Final Level

The music is groovy af as well. I still frequently listen to the soundtrack. There's not one track that I skip through.



Honestly I could go on and on about how much I like Rayman. It's pure platforming magic. It is a must play no matter what kind of a gamer you are. It's not just this game, but the rest of the series is amazing. Especially Origins and Legends. Hell, I even enjoyed the Rabbids games. I'd recommend it to anyone that's looking for a fun and challenging game. Once our retro station is set up we'll have it available to try out! 
I think one of the most common questions I've been getting around the shop recently is "Is the Nintendo Switch worth buying?" It's a hard question to give my opinion on because everybody enjoys different games and forms of gaming. Outside of telling people to give the Switch at LAN Mob a shot, I usually just defaulted to praising Breath of the Wild, the best launch title on the Switch by far. However, before the Switch even launched, there was a whole mess of games that were revealed on a Nintendo Direct that helped get people hyped for the pseudo-portable console, even though almost none of them were launch titles. ARMS was easily one of the most anticipated games after that direct, and it's finally available! Now when I'm asked, "Is the Switch worth buying", I'll still recommend giving our Switch a shot, but now Nintendo has another title on the Switch to help people answer that question for themselves.


Unfortunately I missed out on both ARMS "test punch" demos, so my first chance to play ARMS was last Friday when it officially released. To be completely honest, I didn't have the highest expectations for ARMS. I imagined it would feel a bit like Wii Sports boxing but I'm happy to say I was pretty wrong. After the tutorial I jumped right into what is essentially arcade mode and got decimated by level 5 CPUs. This game is not as simple as one would think, which was a huge positive for me. On top of the semi-deep but very approachable combat, ARMS is dripping with style. Much like Splatoon, ARMS proves that Nintendo is still capable of cranking out pretty strong IPs.

ARMS would be classified as a fighting game, but it's definitely not traditional. First players choose their characters, and boy there are some crazy options. Outside of the fact that every character has inexplicably long arms that stretch an entire arena, each character manages to be more unique then the last. There's a huge mummy, a small girl in a mech, an edgy ninja and my personal favorite; Helix.

The "Man" of Mystery 

It's important to note that players can play ARMS in a plethora of ways. You can play with the Joy-Con movement controls, the Joy-Cons in controller form, pro controllers and even right on the Switch screen. That kind of compatibility is really nice, letting players worry about what character to play and not how. Once you've decided on your character, you can customize a loadout to bring to the next fight, but more on that later. Outside of some unique abilities, combat is essentially the same for everybody. You throw punches, which can be curved mid flight similar to the bullets in Wanted. If you throw out both arms at once your character will go for a grab instead, which can't be blocked. Every once in a while you can unleash a flurry special attack which does pretty massive damage. That's basically it for offense, and on defense characters can block, side step and even jump. The game is pretty simple to pick up, especially if you're just playing with some buddies who are also new to it. However, like I mentioned above, there's definitely some depth and a skill gap. For instance, if you hold guard, dash or upon landing from a jump your gloves will glow, and for a short time your next punch will be empowered. This small detail is pretty critical once you dig into ARMS on higher difficulties, or against stronger opponents, since different elemental effects have major effects. Also, most characters have special and unique abilities that the game doesn't really explain. For example, Master Mummy can heal some damage while he guards, Ninjaro can disappear and reappear when air dodging or blocking and Helix can adjust his height by stretching or becoming a blob. These special abilities make each character feel a bit different and helps add to the style and personality that they all carry.

As far as loadouts go, before players begin unlocking any content, each character comes with three different kinds of gloves, and before each round of combat players choose what glove to rock on each arm. These gloves usually compliment the fighting style of the character, like Helix's "Blorbs", which are big, bouncy and apparently taste like fruit, or Master Mummy's Megatons, which are massive, slow moving and high damaging. However, players can unlock other character's base loadout gloves, and even variations of those gloves, by using the in-game currency to enter a mini-game, similar to Smash Brother's "Trophy Rush". 

With so many ARMS (heh) at your disposal, it's easy to make some really unique loadouts, that cover a multitude of match-ups.

ARMS comes with a few game modes outside of the aforementioned arcade mode. ARMS can also be played 2v2, which is surprisingly fun, despite the questionable approach. Teammates are tethered to one another and cannot stray too far or they'll tug each other around the arena. This tether is extra annoying when one of you get snagged and you both get sent flying. I don't think it's a bad game mode, but I can't help but wish there was an untethered 2v2 mode as well. There's a few mini-games in ARMS as well, which provide pretty good fun in short doses. There's volleyball, basketball, target punching and even a 1vs100 survival mode, reminiscent of Smash Brothers. Of course ARMS can be played online, which is probably most people's strongest selling point for the game. Of course you can play matches with your friends, play matches online and even participate in ranked matches. However, I think the best game mode in all of ARMS is the online "party mode", which pits you (and a buddy if you so wish) against other players in a variety of game modes. Its a great way to play a variety of game modes and earn plenty of in-game credits.

You float around in this lobby, where you can practice until you are matched up with another player in some sort of game mode.

As I mentioned, ARMS is not a traditional fighting game. While that helps it set itself apart and establish a very clear style and charm, it's also lacking some of the strengths of traditional fighters. One of the biggest questions regarding ARMS on the internet (especially the competitive Smash Bros twitter verse) is "Is ARMS a competitive fighter?". For me, the answer is a very clear no, whatever that may mean to you. This is due in part to the level of depth of ARMS, which I mentioned is much more then I expected, but it's still not high. Once you understand some of the nuances and get a grasp for the pretty simple neutral game, it feels like you don't have much left to discover in ARMS. It certainly doesn't help that there is almost no progression outside of unlocking additional gloves. Even climbing up the ranked ladder offers next to nothing. It's just hard to justify sitting down and playing ARMS by yourself for an extended period of time outside of learning the game and trying out all the characters. That being said, this manages to play into what I believe to be the game's greatest strength.

ARMS has everything it needs to be a top tier party game. The Switch gets advertised a lot as a portable console, and bringing a game like ARMS to a party is exactly where the game shines. I certainly can't recommend sitting down and grinding ARMS for hours on end (like I currently am with Injustice 2), but I couldn't recommend it enough for casual play with a group of friends. In turn, this makes ARMS an awesome addition to LAN Mob's Switch titles. We sat down with a group of five people at our most recent lock-in and rotated players in and out as we played 2 player party mode, and it was a total blast. The lack of content is pretty unfortunate, but that's not to say Nintendo won't add some characters or more content in the future. I would've loved to see some sort of amiibo support, or the ability to buy extra skins for characters with the in-game currency, but unfortunately there's nothing of the sort currently. Ultimately, ARMS is a much better game than I ever expected. I could never see myself sitting at home playing for hours on end, but I can't think of a better game to break out with some friends, or at a LAN Mob lock in. The game reminds me so much of Splatoon, which showed that Nintendo is very capable of showing players some new stuff that can't help but make them smile. You've got to give it to Nintendo on this one, releasing such a unique and highly polished take on the fighting game genre while utilizing the strongest aspects of their brand new console is quite the feat. I've heard the game called a "one trick pony", and while I can't really disagree, it's a damn good pony.    


TAKIN' MY TIME

I'll be going on a trip in the next few days! In case the weather's bad or I end up stuck in transit, I plan on bringing my 3DS to pass the time! I don't intend on staying indoors during my trip, so I won't bother packing up one of my consoles. On trips, I generally like to bring games that are easy to pickup and play as well as a puzzle or strategy game. Any story heavy games or anything that requires focus while playing will be shelved for the trip. Monster Hunter and Fire Emblem are two series that come to mind. Which is a shame, I was hoping to finally start Fire Emblem Echoes! Thumbing through my library, these are the games that come to mind.

Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition

Crazy long title but it's actually two games in one! Puzzle & Dragons is a mobile game made by GungHo and it's a match-three puzzle game mixed with RPG and strategy elements. Think of it as a typical turned based RPG where you have a party of monsters. Each monster has a corresponding color/element and takes additional or reduced damage depending on what color/element is attacking it. You make attacks(or heal) by matching color blocks, the more blocks you match at once the stronger the attack. You can increase the potency of the attack or heal by chaining these color matches. You create matches by dragging one of the color blocks and cam set up combo chains depending on how you drag the color block. I think the closest game I can compare it to is Pokemon Shuffle or Bejeweled. It was a bit of an obsession back when I played it on mobile! I hope I don't "unleash the beast" (as Cody puts it) and become addicted to it again!

Terraria 3DS

I logged many hours on the PC version of Terraria just doing stuff. It's one of the games I site when I mention why I avoid sandbox games! With that said, this was on sale following e3 2017 on Nintendo's eShop. This was more of an impulse by than an informed purchase!  From what I understand, the 3DS and console versions are a few patch cycles apart from the PC version. Which is fine with me for now, I spent too long perfecting my minecart track that reaches from one side of the world to the other side to recreate it !

Azure Striker Gunvolt 1 & 2


I talked about these games before! It plays like a spiritual successor of the Mega Man X series, an action platformer game. It has a rank system that scores you based on your performance through a level, such as multiple enemies killed at once or not being hit by an enemy attack. There's a crafting system and leveling system that further encourages multiple playthroughs of a level. My focus is on Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, as I've already unlocked the true ending in the previous game. I haven't played much of the second game due to all the big console games coming out but I'm hoping I can make time in the few days of free time that I have!

Hyrule Warriors Legends

Another victim of game over saturation! I loved the Wii-U version of this game so much I picked it up for my 3DS when it was on sale. Hyrule Warriors Legends plays similarly to any of the "Warriors" games from Koei-Tecmo, which is to say it is a hack n' slash of you versus an army. At lower difficulties, you're brainlessly cleaving your way through thousands of the opposing army. At the higher difficulties, you need to be wary of high ranking units clumped together. From what I understand, the 3DS version lets you take control of multiple officers/playable characters in certain battles. I'd imagine the downside being you'd lose if any of the playable characters were to fall in battle. There's also "My Fairy" which acts a little partner that can grant you buffs or unleash magic on your foes from what I understand. I haven't done much research on this title either but I hope it doesn't lose too much of its charm coming from Wii U to 3DS.

There's no guarantee I'll get to any of these during my trips but I like being prepared! Although, I am giggling at the idea of submitting a blank page for next week's blog entry. The above are typically what  games I like to bring on trips, if any! Nothing too story heavy and something I can play in short bursts. Again, best case scenario is I'll get to none of these and spend most of my time walking around with Pokemon Go open. Worst case scenario: the weather's awful and/or I get stuck somewhere! Fingers crossed!!
E3 this year felt a little underwhelming. It's understandable, I feel that it was hard to compete with the announcements of last year. This year was also loaded with good content but some conferences were left with much to be desired. Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft each had their own surprises from TWO new games to a series dear to my heart to a Shadow of the Colossus remake. It wasn't a bad showcase by any means. There are numerous other games I'm looking forward too but if I list them this blog would be quite lengthy.

Super Lucky's Tale
(Xbox One)
At first when I saw the tail I thought we'd finally get a new Conker game. NOPE. Then I saw the ears and realized it wasn't meant to be yet again this year. Though when gameplay was shown I found myself drawn to the game. The cute design and the platforming itself looks really well done. All of the characters have a certain charm to them as well. On top of that it's only going to be $29.99!


Cuphead
(Xbox One, PC)
FINALLY A RELEASE DATE! Everything you see in this game is hand drawn. That is ******* incredible. I'm fascinated with the 30's animation style and StudioMDHR is doing great with this game. This is in my opinion a one of a kind game that you won't really find anywhere else. It's truly something special. They brought in a 13-piece big band and a 10-piece ragtime band as well as a solo pianist and singers for over two and a half hours of music for the game! They also brought in a studio to create the sound effects you'll hear in the game as well. I. Can't. Wait.


Crackdown 3
(Xbox One)
TERRY CREWS BOYS. BLOW STUFF UP.


Beyond Good & Evil 2
Beyond Good & Evil is a game that everyone should play through. The game is fantastic and after a teaser that was released nine years ago we're finally getting the sequel we deserve! Except it's not a sequel...it's a prequel! I was a little disappointed but was very excited, and after seeing the developer's overwhelming emotions after the trailer was presented reassured that I shouldn't be disappointed in the slightest. When a developer shows passion like that for a game it makes it special. It doesn't feel like it's a "9-5" job to them. I'm so excited for this. All aboard the hype train!


Detroit: Become Human
This game caught my interest last year. I really enjoy games where you get to choose what happens in the story. I really enjoyed Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls. From the looks of it this game looks just as if not more intense than the titles previously mentioned. On the dowside it didn't show the detective from the first trailer last year. Maybe you'll play as both characters? Or could be that they scrapped the idea.


Spider-Man
Who doesn't love them some Spider-Man? The gameplay was so smooth and the voice acting was superb. I'm glad to see Insomniac doing what they do best and making what will be the best Spider-Man game yet!


PSVR Support Continues!
I'm sure some of us remember the Vita. When Sony announced they were cutting first party support last year I was crushed. I literally bought it a month before E3 and I was excited to see what they had in store for it. Only to be disappointed. This was the case with the PSVR. I was honestly scared that they would either one game or cut support altogether. It felt unlikely due to the massive success but still. I was really happy to see all of those titles get announced and I'm looking forward to playing each one.


Super Mario Odyssey
This isn't Super Mario Sunshine 2, it'll do. Joking aside every Mario entry does something new. That's what is so great about Nintendo. They aren't just total copy & paste games. They always have something new implemented to give the game a twist. Odyssey looks incredible. From the visuals to possessing a T-Rex. Cappy is a really cool concept and I'm 100% stoked for October!


Metroid Prime 4
There wasn't anything shown other than the logo. Man, that build up nearly gave me a heart attack. You could ask a few regulars around the shop and I've been talking about how cool it'd be to have a new Metroid on the Switch. Now we've got it! It may be a few years but just the fact that it was officially announce has me stoked!


Metroid: Samus Returns
Here's that second game I mentioned in the beginning of the blog! Metroid is a kick-ass series and it makes sense now of why they cancelled the fan remake AM2R, since this is a full-fledged remake of Metroid II! Gameplay was shown and it looked incredible. It's nice to see Nintendo still show support for the 3DS even with the Switches portability. It may slowly phase out the 3DS in time, but not for awhile.



Xenoblade Chronicles 2
As a lover of RPGs I loved both Xenoblade games. The open worlds are beautifully designed with amazing soundtracks to boot. The characters are mostly like-able and have great battle systems. This game seems to hold the same standard as the others. Monolith Soft has an impressive track record that has ceased to disappoint me. With an October release date (unless it gets the Xenoblade X delay treatment) it looks like Nintendo is preparing for yet another stacked holiday!


Ahhh E3. Like most gamers, this time of year feels almost better than Christmas. Every year we all gather up and watch some of the biggest and best names in the industry present all the hardware and software they've been working on and even what's to come. Despite some of the internet cynicism that comes with so many expectations and personal taste, there's usually something for everyone at the Electronic Entertainment Expo! We've been watching all week in the shop and now that all the major pressers are over, here are some of my favorite moments, announcements and gameplay from this year's E3. Obviously I can't touch on everything, but I'll mention my personal favorites and most anticipated.


More than any other year I can remember in recent times, E3 2017 brought a lot of high quality DLC and expansions to major presentations and smaller ones alike. Before I get into some of the other big announcements and gameplay trailers, here are some of the DLC/Expansions/Add-Ons I'm most excited for!

Dishonored 2: Death of the Outsider
In my review of Dishonored 2 last year, I stated Arkane managed to create a perfect sequel for a game that I adored. I did peg the game a bit for an uninspired plot but it looks like Death of the Outsider is bringing a whole bunch of narrative to the table. Technically, Death of the Outsider isn't DLC, it's a stand alone game that can be purchased separately, even though it is directly building on Dishonored 2's plot. Players will be taking control of Billie Lurk and, with the help of Daud, attempt to take down the mysterious and god-like "The Outsider". I really look forward to returning to the world of Karnaca come this September.


Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds
I think my favorite aspect of PS4's massive open world game "Horizon", is the world itself. Guerilla Games' hit the highest marks when it came to Horizon's combat and narrative as well, but the environment is easily one of the most gorgeous I've ever had the pleasure to romp around in. The Frozen Wilds is expanding this beautiful world to a brand new land. Alloy is looking for answers in the very mysterious "mountain" and must "face the beast the guards it", according to the narrator. This is dropping sometime this year.


XCOM 2: War of the Chosen
I kind of lost my mind when this trailer cropped up. XCOM is such a legendary franchise, and as I mentioned in a recent blog post, the latest title "XCOM 2" is by far one of my favorite games of all time. Following this amazing trailer was an in depth interview with the game's creative director Jake Soloman gave a ton of information on the classes and enemies being added, and stated this expansion is at least double the size of previous ones. I'm beyond excited to get my hands on all this content on August 29th.


Rivals of Aether - Guest Character - Ori & Sein
Rivals of Aether is a criminally underrated Smash-esque fighting game from Dan Fornace and his team. I cannot express how much I enjoy loading up Rivals of Aether and playing it with some of the smash community here at LAN Mob. I also cannot stress how much I love Moon Studios' gorgeous "metroidvania" style game Ori and the Blind Forest. NOW I GET TO DO BOTH AT THE SAME TIME THIS SUMMER.


However you may feel about DLC/expansions, I'm pretty happy to revisit my favorite game worlds without having to wait for a full sequel. Obviously there wasn't just DLC announcements, there was plenty of first looks/world premieres that were plenty exciting.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Hey, speaking of Ori! I can't say this one was a huge surprise for me, but it doesn't make it any less awesome. They even presented the trailer with the original game's composer Gareth Coker playing the beautiful theme on the piano. Unfortunately, there no release date just yet.


Dragonball FighterZ
There was a reveal trailer, but this gameplay video definitely shows off more of what has me so excited for this one. DragonBall Z 2.5D 3v3 developed by Arc System? Yes. Please.


A Way Out
This one was a huge surprise. I respect EA Games, even if a lot of their games aren't tailored to my own tastes. A Way Out is a narrative focused co-op game, following 2 prisoners attempting to escape, which is cool enough. To add to that EA has designed the game very specifically to play in split screen, so players can examine both perspectives which I thought was pretty innovative.


Metro Exodus
I'm not a huge FPS player, never really have been. However, Metro 2023 and Metro Last Light are easily some of my favorite games, and definitely my favorite single player FPS experiences to date. Pretty quickly into the Exodus reveal trailer, I realized this was a new Metro game and I couldn't help but light up. Apparently Exodus will feature nonlinear levels and the narrative will take place over an entire year. Man, 2018 needs to hurry up.


Monster Hunter World

This reveal seems to be pretty polarizing. Some huge Monster Hunter fans are pretty actively flaming this title for the apparent differences between Monster Hunter World and the rest of the series. Personally, I think change can be good, and why not reinvent the series for a big console release like this? The other side of the argument is "HOLY CRAP MONSTER HUNTER NOT ON A HANDHELD AND I CAN PLAY WITH MY FRIENDS AHHHHH. I'm probably sailing in that boat.


Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Okay, so on paper this sounds terrible. In fact, when it was being presented by Yves Guillemont and Shigeru Miyamoto I was still not very impressed. However, once they started showing some gameplay I was pretty intrigued. THIS IS MARIO X RABBIDS X XCOM!? The game looks genuinely charming and goofy, yet combat looks minimally complex enough to seriously make me excited about a game that includes the Raving Rabbids. What an age we live in. This is definitely in my top 5 games of this E3. I'm pretty excited to get ahold of this in August.


Anthem
Another monumental surprise for me, a new Bioware IP! After Mass Effect Andromeda I think people were a little hesitant to see what was next from Bioware, and a lot of E3 casters were predicting some new content for the Mass Effect title. Nope! Even though this is a pretty early look I think Anthem is a step in the right direction for Bioware. It's being compared to Destiny in some ways already, and even though we won't see the title until 2018, I'm excited to see if it's bringing some of that Bioware charm of old, or if we'll see something like Andromeda again.


Beyond Good and Evil 2
This is, by far, the best thing I saw at E3 this year. It almost feels like a dream, but I pinched myself enough to know it isn't. We're getting a Beyond Good and Evil sequel...prequel! Ahh who cares IM HYPED! If you don't know why you should be hyped...go play the original. It's seriously something special.

Outside of the three major pressers there's actually a lot of other reveals and trailers coming out of E3. Some of these are easy to miss or simply get forgotten amidst the massive release news from the three titans, so check out some of my favorites.

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
Following SEGA's announcement of Yakuza Kiwami just recently, we got a release date and trailer for a Western release of Yakuza 6!


The Last Night
Tell me that doesn't look gorgeous.


Where the Water Tastes Like Wine
This is a weird one, but you gotta give it a bunch of credit for being unique. Where The Water Tastes like Wine isn't a brand new E3 reveal, but we got a bit more insight to this strange game from Serenity Force and Dim Bulb Games. WTWTLW (haha) is best described as a collection of short stories themed around The Great Depression. Each character has a story to tell, and each character was written by a different writer. The player takes control of a hobbo. I don't know; it looks interesting.

The End is Nigh
Edmund McMillen's new game! Looks...well looks like one of his games!

Ashen
I'm hoping this one doesn't get drowned out in the mainstream hype. This game was revealed right during Microsoft's press conference and is being called a "dark co-op RPG adventure game". I can definitely get behind this one.

Ruiner
Devolver Digital is easily becoming one of my favorite indie game developers of all time. I feel like they're always cranking out quality games and Ruiner doesn't look any different. I've also got a huge soft spot for twin stick shooters.

PS - If you didn't watch the Devolver Digital Conference go check it out. It aired pretty late, but trust me you don't wanna miss it. It was something special.

Griftlands
You know how I said Devolver Digital is becoming one of my favorite indie devs? Welp, Klei Entertainment would probably hold that title right now, and that's because of their steady supply of unique games like Griftlands. Griftlands is an sci-fi action RPG with that beautiful Klei art style I've come to love.


Ooblets
Ooblets is a charming looking Harvest Moon/Pokemon title being developed by 2 people in a studio called Glumberland. You basically grow your Pokemon like creatures in a garden and help them nurture and grow and take place in turn based battles out in the world. You can also decorate your home and garden similar to Animal Crossing. The game looks adorable, to say the least, and Double Fine thought so too, since they're publishing it!

There we have it, folks. This is definitely just a small sample of the massive amount of technology being displayed at E3 2017, but these titles definitely have me the most excited. While these are my favorites, there is a lot of other games for all sorts of players as well. I certainly look forward to games like Metroid Prime 4, Mario Odyssey, Star Wars Battlefront 2 and even this year's CoD looks pretty good, but I'll save some of that for another time. Check out the rest of LAN Mob's staff E3 impressions as they are published this week! Oh also...

Monster of the Deep
We're chiming in on E3 impressions this week! I'm going to throw a wet blanket on this party and say I'm not a big fan of E3. On one hand, it's nice to see what's in development and what's slated for launch by the end of year. On the other hand, any gameplay footage shown isn't guaranteed to represent the final product. Putting away my E3 bingo card and shoving my pessimism aside, I'll talk about what I hope to hear announced and a bit on what I saw from Microsoft's E3 presentation.


Wishlist
God of War 4


I'm a sucker for hack n' slash/beat 'em up games. I loved playing the God of War series in my youth! The Quick Time Events(QTE's) mixed into the combat kept it very active and fun for me and I always felt compelled to do hard mode runs after completing the game. Even now, I have God of War 2 loaded up on my Vita when I'm in the mood to break out the Blades of Chaos. While what was shown at E3 2016 wasn't what I expected, I look forward to any additional information we can get during this year's E3.


 Borderlands 3

As far as I know, there has been no news on Borderlands 3 but I hope to hear something about it this year. Back when it debuted, I loved how Borderlands 1 combined the loot mechanics I was accustomed to as a diehard Diablo fan with an FPS. Like, not the Telltale games though. Those were nice but I want a loot driven FPS! I think the series is charming and I hope to see a new entry soon. 


Fire Emblem Warriors



Fire Emblem Warriors(F.E.W.) was announced early 2017  and will be made by the same team as Hyrule Warriors. Like Hyrule Warriors, F.E.W. will be a collaboration between Nintendo an Koei-Tecmo's hack n' slash Warriors franchise such as Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors. What I enjoyed most of Hyrule Warriors was how it took elements from the Legend of Zelda series and made them work with the hack n' slash style of play. For example, if you use a specific sub-weapon on a specific enemy, it would stun them and reveal their weak-point gauge, which deals massive damage once depleted. Another neat touch was the Adventure Mode, which had you travel around a map grid completing missions. These missions would unlock weapons and items that would strengthen your character. They would also hold item cards that you would you to traverse further through the map, such as a bomb card to break through boulders blocking your path or a hookshot card to circumvent a broken path. I'm curious to see how the weapon triangle and class system is reflected in F.E.W. I don't want to set my expectations too high for Fire Emblem Warriors but I hope it will receive as much detail as Hyrule Warriors did.






Microsoft's E3 2017 Presentation 
By the time I caught Microsoft's presentation, I had already missed about half of it(I think?) That's what I get for trying to grind out a few levels in Overwatch during double xp. I did like what little I saw though, in particular Sea of Thieves, Anthem and Crackdown 3. The only game I hear of prior to the presentation was Sea of Thieves. I believe this was announced last year? I don't want to get too excited for the game but it looks really fun as a co-op game. I'm hoping we can get people to play it around the shop and do pirate things like search for treasure or getting into naval battles. Anthem also looks like a fun co-op game. I think the suit and way it flew reminded me of  Dark Void. Never played the game. Honestly, I was suckered into caring for Crackdown 3 because of Terry Crews in the reveal trailer. I heard of the Crackdown series before but have never played it personally. Like Anthem, it looks like an open world game where you go around doing as you please. Although, Crackdown 3 looks more like a single player game where Anthem looked like you want to bring a 4-man squad to explore the game. This is all baseless speculation anyway.


That's that. By the time this blog rolls out Sony's E3 presentation to should be starting up. Like I said, I hope to hear more about God of War. Not sure if I'm more excited about that or new IPs announced. It's always fun to see games that could be the "next big thing". But on the other hand, I value the final product over any promotion material/tech demo that gets cranked out for these type of things.


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