Thoughts About Stuff: Improving Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go took the world by storm, then it shot itself in the foot, then it climbed back up a bit. I, like many others, don’t really know what to make of the game right now. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy playing the game, because I do. I just know that I’m not playing it nearly as much as I did when it first came out. This is fairly normal when you play games that aren’t story driven or you aren’t highly competitive in, but trending downward is always at least a little concerning. However, there are a few things Niantic could do to really improve PoGo, thus improving the overall experience for all players.

Quality Of Life Improvements

Improving Pokémon Go

Tracking – I know that there is a beta version of a new tracking system. I haven’t heard much in terms of reviews about it. Fixing the sightings to delete things not nearby anymore was a great step, but most everyone I’ve spoke to about the game misses the original tracking system.

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Incubators – I’m not going to demand more infinite incubators, I understand the game is a business and needs to make money. However, I would suggest making incubators available in bulk like lures and lucky eggs are. Possibly even selling incubators that have more uses for more coins. For example, you should be able to buy a pack of 3 incubators for 400 coins OR an incubator you that has 12 uses.

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Transferring – The ability to transfer as you catch pokes was a great improvement. Now if we could do something like instead of favorite the Pokémon, you could mark for transferring to mass transfer that’d be great. Oh, and transferring higher evolutions of Pokémon should yield more candy.

Gyms – End sniping by giving a thirty second grace period to players who have recently battled the gym. Being able to set a stable starting lineup for battling would be nice too.

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Balance – Everyone knows that outside of the kings of the game (Snorlax, Dragonite, Lapras) water Pokémon destroy everything, including most electric ‘mon, which should not be the case.

Content Improvements

Right now, PoGo lacks content.  There are essentially three things you can do in PoGo. Complete your Pokédex, claim gyms for your respective team, or grind levels. That’s pretty much it.  For some people that’s probably enough, and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with being a casual player, but that doesn’t mean Niantic shouldn’t consider adding more for other players. Some people will say that I’m playing too much. As of this moment, I’ve caught 135 of the available 142 in the North America, and I’m level 28. I’d say I probably spend a bit more time than the average player. However, I don’t think I’m in the category of hardcore. I really think that my issue with the game stems from a lack of content and not the amount I play. So I want to discuss some possible ideas that could be implemented.

I agree with many ideas that have come up around places like /r/Pokemongo and /r/thesilphroad. I think there is so much room for improvement and imagination not being taken advantage of. Ideas like 1v1 player battling, trading, and quests are great ideas in the spirit of the original games. However, I don’t think Niantic should be afraid to venture and make their own Pokémon game stand out.

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The CEO of Niantic has referred to the game as an MMO, and I agree. So why not add some MMO type content? An idea that I played around with and developed was the implementation raids for legendaries. Many rumors have stated legendaries will simply be gifts at events where you have to catch the ‘mon. I think this is a missed opportunity if they go that route. I think they could add a completely different dimension to PoGo when implementing legendaries by adding raids/instances.

Raids/instances might sound a little crazy at first, but I don’t think it would be all that hard for players to grasp. Let’s say we implement new items, these new items are feathers corresponding to the legendary birds (Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres). We make these feathers fairly rare drops randomly in the game. The rustling grass that used to be in the game would be perfect places to look for feathers (this would make it more equal for rural and city players as opposed to putting them in stops, I think).

After you gather 25 of Zapdos’ feathers, what do you do now? You go to a gym of your team’s color! Players can then use your feathers, and BATTLE Zapdos for the right to capture him. You can also have members of the same team battle with you to help (we may have to inflate some CPs for the fight or something). This would increase the purpose of teams. It would also add reason to get to know others of your same team. While it’s different from the rest of the game, I think making legendaries a little bit harder to catch and more unique just adds to their prestige and rarity.

All credit to the artist here: http://marcoh88.deviantart.com/art/Zapdos-311044310
All credit to the artist here: http://marcoh88.deviantart.com/art/Zapdos-311044310

On top of this, you can easily make this a scaling system. 25 feathers will get you a level 1-10 Zapdos, 50 feathers will get you a level 11-20, 100 feathers will get you 21-30, etc. It could also be a necessity to make gyms correlate, so your gym would have to be at least level 3 to use 25 feathers, level 5 to use 50 feathers, and level 7 to use 100 feathers. This makes pumping up gyms more worth your time, as well as increases the competition for them.

This appeals to all players. If you’re simply looking to increase your Pokédex count, just go for a low level legendary, because who cares right? If you’re a player who wants the strongest Pokémon, then you grind a bit and save your feathers up to battle a high level legendary.

Final Thoughts

To be super clear about this, I’m not a developer, and I wouldn’t expect these things to happen overnight. I have very little idea about how hard these things would be to implement. These are simply some ideas I had and wanted to talk about it. I do enjoy playing PoGo, I just had some suggestions that I think could make an even better game, because I do think it is wasting some of it’s potential.

Let us know your thoughts, bash/discuss/talk to your heart’s content! Please check out our Amazon Store, full of items that we recommend as Amazon Associates! 

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From Smash to Street Fighter – The Fighting Game Shift Struggle

The release of Street Fighter V was hotly anticipated, as Street Fighter IV’s long road to reviving fighting games on console. Now, the actual release has been harped on, due to the severe lack of content found within the game, from character roster and extensive story modes, to different modes and character specific training. However, the gameplay does pick up a lot of this slack, but this is not a review. As a seasoned Super Smash Bros player, I have largely avoiding taking 2-D console fighters seriously like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and King of Fighters. With this iteration, I have decided to finally tackle this franchise that has defined fighting games since the dawn of video games.

Tech-Skill, where art tho?

Super Smash Bros is a game built upon a legacy of games, namely platformers. So when anytime picks up a control and takes hold of a character, say Mario, you move around like Mario.

Kirby flies like Kirby, Yoshi hovers like Yoshi, and Donkey Kong hits like Donkey Kong. While other characters are adjusted to the fighting formula, the core mechanics lie in controlling a platforming game with the characters you like with the goal of beating the crap out of your opponents. This is part of what makes the game so approachable; it gives an air of familiarity to anyone who has touched the games.

With Street Fighter, you have to learn what makes each character unique. Learning the basic inputs, their special abilities, their weight, movement, and overall flow of the gameplay is just an ounce of understanding the game. It doesn’t mean squat if you can execute a heavy hitting if you can’t find a way to break your opponents defenses.

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It’s Just You and Your Opponent.

Another main factor that separates Super Smash Bros from Street Fighter is stage selection. In Super Smash Bros, some stages are considered neutral, such as Battlefield and Final Destination, which feature mainly flat surfaces, non-moving platforms, and no obstacles.

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In Street Fighter, stage selection is aesthetic, so with that, the major focus is your opponent. Most of the mind games begin on this screen select.

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Managing the tools comes next. With most Smash Bros characters, all of the abilities are accessible right when the match begins. In Street Fighter, as you battle and take and inflict damage, you increase your EX gauge that allows to perform stronger versions of your attacks and hard-hitting special arts. Strategy involves managing this meter, time, and focusing on positioning your fighter to overwhelm your opponent.

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As a Smash player, most of my adjusting to Street Fighter is managing meter and executing. In my experience, Super Smash Bros conditions you to learn character match-ups, utilize the stage, choose effective moves, and understand every habit you have ever had. Street Fighter has many similarities in understanding the player and matchups, but there is a greater importance in carrying over momentum from round to round, as opposed to the stocks and lack of meter that give you a fresh start in each minute of Super Smash Bros. As I struggle in the online realm of Street Fighter V, I remain humble in the continuous learning curve that is brutal as it is rewarding.

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20 Years of Pokemon Red & Blue

This past February marked the 20th anniversary of Pokemon Red and Blue releasing and Nintendo honored this glorious event by re-release Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow on 3DS’s Virtual Console. Some of the staff have been playing, while others have been enjoying the reemergence of Pokemon, like the upcoming Pokemon Sun and Moon announcement, along with oncoming releases of Pokken Tournament and Pokemon Go! We’re all just excited to see the rise of Pokemon on different platforms and are excited to share our thoughts on one of the most iconic video game franchises.

From the original game, what part hooked you the most?

Alex: I liked the journey of venturing around and being the best. The silent trainer let his training do the talking; beating a gym would allow you to have your name engraved right in front, you filled up the pokedex, and your reward for defeating tough opponents and pokemon gave you relevant and key rewards. The sense of accomplishment from dismantling a huge crime organization and beating everyone to be the best was rewarding to no end.

 

Willy:Definitely the joys of challenging all the gym leaders. Since all the gym leaders were based off one pokemon type, it was always fun to go out and find a specific Pokemon to counter that gym leader. I had the most trouble with Brock and Misty since I picked Charmander but then I learned about the power of Butterfree. Since then, Butterfree has become one of my first picks every time I started the game over (since Beedrill sucks). Butterfree using Confusion was my jam, carrying me places I never knew about.

Yeksson: It had to be the theme music. I was immediately hooked when I first faced Brock in Pewter City. I remember always saving before the Gym Leader battle and turning up the volume to hear that awesome theme. It’s the closest I felt to being Ash from the anime. In a sense I was turning my cap backwards and about to throw down!

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What was your team back in the day and with another shot at the game, what would your Hall of Fame team look like?

Alex: Way back when, I picked up Pokemon Blue and since my brother got Charizard, I had Blastoise on my final roster. Alongside the big turtle was Venomoth, Flareon, Hitmonchan, Omastar, and Zapdos! I mostly picked Pokemon that looked cool, and I think my new team will do some of the same. As I’m playing through the game again, my final team will probably consist of Charizard, Nidoking, Pigeot, Gyrados, Alakazam, and Jolteon.

 

Willy:I don’t remember too much about my starting team but I know it had Charizard, Pigeot, and Gyrados for sure. As for my new team, I’d definitely run three Eevees and Vaporeon, Jolteon, and Flareon. I’d name the Eevees Glaceon(<3), Espeon, and Umbreon since they didn’t exist at the time.

Yeksson: I started off with Red and remember picking Charmander because he looked the closest. Every play through had at least Pidgeot and Charizard. I liked to mix in Gyarados, Jolteon, Aerodactyl, Nidoking, Arcanine, Dragonite, Zapdos, Articuno and Mewtwo.

What is your favorite moment of the original games?

Alex: Anytime I beat Blue when I was completely taken off guard (Rt. 22, Cerulean City, SS Anne), I was so proud and glad to shove his bragging back down his throat.

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Willy: Abusing Missingno and going mad with power, harvesting rare candies for the rest of my life. Occasionally evolving the Missingno into a Kangaskhan that knew sky attack was hilarious.

Yeksson: Beating the Elite Four and Blue for the first time. Lance’s strongest Pokémon was a level 62 Dragonite whereas Blue had a level 65 fully evolved starter that countered your original in-game pick.

Pokemon Yellow was a follow-up game made to capitalize on the anime and overall Pokemania. Mainly featuring a Pikachu that follows you and a quest that resembles Ash’s from the show, what aspect from the anime would you have loved to have in the game?

Alex: Dodging. Anytime a Pokemon was able to dodge, I was so jealous. Still waiting when that type of move (similar to a Defend command) can be incorporated into a main franchise game.

Willy:I would’ve loved to see more Team Rocket trolling you around. Constant attempts of snatching my Pikachu would’ve made for an enjoyable experience. AND IF THEY PUT IN MEOWTH’s LOVE STORY. OH MY GOODNESS, GREATEST LOVE STORY EVER TOLD. HE LEARNED ENGLISH FOR HER!!!

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Yeksson: Being able to use more than 4 moves. I always found it phony that Ash also made up some moves. For example, using water gun, powered by a Thunderbolt.

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2014’s Twitch Plays Pokemon event was a fantastically bizarre experiment where countless Twitch users controlled one trainer in an emulated Pokemon Red game. Of the countless memes, which are your favorite?

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Alex: The religious connotations that came with the game’s play through were hilarious. Praise Helix and the False Prophet Flareon always crack me up.

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Willy:I didn’t dabble too much in the twitch plays Pokemon era so I wouldn’t know. I only heard stories.

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Yeksson: Bird Jesus, the Messiah.

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Most importantly, what’s your favorite Pokemon from the original 151 and why?

Alex: Eevee. I always thought his potential for growth was great and continues to expand.

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Willy:Probably Pikachu with Vaporeon being an extremely close second. But I mean Pikachuwilly sounds so much better than Vaporeonwilly. How unfortunate indeed.

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Yeksson: Jolteon. I remember having a first edition Jolteon card and seeing the move Pin Missile. As I kid I was like “that’s so cool! I want one!”

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Let us know your thoughts! Please check out our Amazon Store, full of items that we recommend as Amazon Associates! 

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4 Legend of Zelda’s 30th Anniversary Games to Get Excited For

Nothing says the best video game franchise (in this writer’s opinion) like a 30th Anniversary celebration. In case you haven’t set out to explore the world of Hyrule, there is no better time to start than now.

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD on Wii U

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Another big console re-release, Twilight Princess is out now on the Wii U almost 10 years after its initial release. Back when it was being launched, it was the insane time during the Gamecube/Wii transition. No one knew what to expect from the new console and Twilight Princess emerged as a progression from the base Ocarina of Time/Majora’s Mask had established (as opposed to Wind Waker’s focus on naval exploration and cel-shaded graphics.

Legend of Zelda: A Link to a Past on New 3DS

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Hands down my favorite Zelda and possibly favorite game of all time, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to a Past is an overhaul to the original Legend of Zelda on NES, but also established a mythos, introduced new weapons, made a quest staple that many games (including Ocarina of Time) have developed upon, and really brought Hyrule to life. Whether you’ve played it on SNES, GBA, or are getting a shot at it now, there’s no better way to experience Zelda than by playing this classic.

Hyrule Warriors Legends (3DS)

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The Zelda spinoff you never expected but glad it exists, Hyrule Warriors initially released on Wii U back in 2014. The 3DS is getting its own version in March with new characters such as Tetra, Linkle, Skull Kid and more. The Dynasty Warriors gameplay may be hit-or-miss for some, but you can’t help but awe at the power of Link, Darunia, Zelda, and many beloved character being able to let loose on countless enemies.

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Legend of Zelda (Wii U)

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Obviously, the most anticipated title is the next entry in the series. Promises of a grandiose game that utilizes an open world, Hyrule will has never seemed so big. Not much more to say at the moment, but no doubt we will see something great at E3 this summer.

All in all, this year looks to be a good year for the Wii U. The wait is rough but the rewards for a Zelda fan like myself are great.

Let us know how you’re celebrating this anniversary below or via our Facebook and Twitter pages!

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Video Game Retrospective: Earthbound

Super Smash Bros, as a series, celebrated Nintendo’s rich history of great games and characters will always be cherished for honoring our beloved heroes and shining a light on new ones. In 1999, I played the first entry in the series and loved seeing Kirby, Link, Pikachu, and Samus battle it out. But did I know who Captain Falcon and Ness were when I unlocked them? No. Looking up Earthbound on the internet at the time, it was hard to find a new copy, let alone a good used one, as Earthbound included a player guide in its original box.

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Fast-forward to July 2013 when the game was rereleased on the Wii U’s Virtual Console. With no expectations of than the game is an RPG, I’m a complete blank slate when I jump into this game. Well, as they say in the business:

Here We Go!
Here We Go!

I Can’t Stop Laughing

With any RPG, there’s bound to be heaps of dialogue. While this is expected, the humor completely took me off guard, as Earthbound’s timeless characters had me laughing time and time again.

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Bizarre, self-referential, timely, and sometimes informative just to add detail, every character has a set of dialogue that makes talking to NPCs (non-playable characters) worthwhile. On top of that, there are plenty of occasions where the thing you run into are simply bizarre. Some of Ness’s enemies are random people, stray animals, and inanimate objects come to life. One of Ness’s early adventures leads him to a town corrupted by a cult leader that makes everything blue.

 

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LET’S FIGHT!

In the overworld, you travel mostly on foot and fight enemies as they approach you. Depending on if you surprise them or they run behind you and get the jump on you, you receive various advantages and disadvantages. Actual battle will remind players of Dragon Quest, in which you view enemies up front, but do not view your own party members.

Screenshot from Dragon Quest VIII
Screenshot from Dragon Quest VIII
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Typical Battle in Earthbound

Earthbound’s battles aren’t terribly complicated or complex, but the enemies, moves, and items are creatively original. Using ordinary items, status ailments that are seemingly reasonable, and increasing stats that are simple to understand, the game is increasingly approachable in comparison to more fantastical and classically inspired RPGs that precede it. You use items like bats, toys, household items, and outside of the telekinetic powers, your party consists of ordinary kids doing the extraordinary. The primary thing about this RPG is the level of difficulty. Enemies hit hard, drain your magic, and make you use items. There’s no holding back and any seemingly harmless battle can become your last. Oftentimes, enemies call in backup or attacks miss and the odds can seem unfavorable. The wins outlast the loses however; when you are high level and encounter enemies that are lower, you instantly defeat them without having to battle. It’s incredibly satisfying, especially if those enemies used to take you down with ease before.

I’m still a bit early on in the game, but I’m surprised at the big and little moments in the game. Ness’s whole family being a part of the game (his dad is hilarious to talk with via telephone), traveling from different cities by tour bus, and interacting with all sorts of strange characters. The charm of the game never ceases to go hand in hand with the serious difficulty, always keeping me on my toes.

The game is the Wii U’s virtual console, or if you can find it, also on the Super Nintendo. If you’ve ever wanted to jump into the world of Earthbound, let us know your experiences with the game in the comments below, or via our Facebook and Twitter pages!

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Nerd Swole Roundtable: Valentines Day

Whether you celebrate Galentine’s, Singles Awareness, or Valentine’s day, February 14th is a time to display some kind of love, so we decided to talk about some things Nerd Swole appreciates about the day, love, and other nerdy things.

Who is your favorite couple across games, movies, TV, anime?

JD and Elliot
Brian: 
I think I’d have to go with Elliot and JD from Scrubs. Something about the way they were written, how at some points I legitimately saw them not being together, and then I couldn’t imagine them not together. They went through so much as friends, colleagues, and lovers that it just felt right when everything finally fell in place for them.

Erin: So many to pick from, but I’m gonna go with Jim and Pam from The Office. The jokes and pranks in that show really enhance their relationship and make it so charming that you root for them the entire time.

Yeksson: I’m going with Bulma and Vegeta.  It’s just not your typical romance.  Out of nowhere, their future child arrives to tell Goku about incoming danger and the fact that his parents are Bulma and Vegeta.  Then there’s the point in the Majin Buu Saga where Vegeta blows himself up, but first admitting to the love he has for his family.

Alex: Tony Stark and Pepper Potts in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From employee to boss and friend to friend to inappropriateness to being in love to being dysfunctional together. Perfectly rational relationship in a world with Norse gods, superheroes, alien invasions, and madness every summer.

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What couple do you wish ended up together, but never did?

Brian: Mal and Inara from Firefly. This type of thing is to be expected from a show that was cancelled too soon. And while there were some exceptionally rude things said between them, they obviously cared very deeply for one another.

Erin: Barney and Nora from How I Met Your Mother. Finale aside, I loved Nora and I think there was so much potential for character growth in Barney while they were together. She really complemented his lifestyle and attitude, and she was a great addition to the overall dynamic of the crew.

Yeksson: Meryl and Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid.  You as a player have to mash a button to survive electrifying torture, twice, just to spare her life.  Sure, they snowmobile off into the sunset together.  However, in MGS4, she ends up marrying her follow comrade Johnny Sasaki.

Alex: James Bond and Vesper Lynd. Casino Royale revamped Bond for a newer generation, taking him to the beginning of earning the “00” license. His arrogance gets him into trouble and Vesper brings him back down to Earth, and Bond’s strength allows him to support Vesper as she comes into a world filled with darkness. Her death truly destroyed James and he became the cold Bond we all know.

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What couple DID end up together that you didn’t want together?

Brian: I’m going to go ahead and pick the low hanging fruit here and say Ted and Robin from How I Met Your Mother. The finale doesn’t bother me as much as it used to, but I’ll just always dislike that ending, because it’s a twist that should be reserved for movies or shorter series, not 9 seasons of buildup.

Erin: I’m gonna take a turn here and go with Bruce Wayne/Batman and Talia al Ghul. Very disruptive relationship for obvious reasons, she stabbed him in the back, pretty much broke his heart, and gave birth to Damian, who is, in his best moments, slightly tolerable.

Yeksson: I’m not too caught up on Arrow but I’m going with Felicity and Oliver.  Mainly because I’ve been on Team Laurel since day one.

Alex: Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy in Amazing Spider-Man 2. It just felt like the actor’s had great chemistry and weren’t really playing Peter and Gwen. A rushed relationship that ultimately aimed to play fan service and shock value, instead of develop the characters naturally.

What’s a good movie or episode of TV to watch on Valentine’s day?

Brian: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a movie I love very much, and in my opinion has very appropriate themes for the holiday whether you’re single, dating someone, or married.

Erin: Any episode of New Girl. The show is just ripe with comedic romantic situations and friendships, and makes it such a great watch for people our age. Great to watch with friends, “sig oths”, or even alone chillin. Specifically, “Valentine’s Day” – Season 1, “Thanksgiving IV” – Season 4, and “Cruise” – Season 3.

Yeksson: Friends, the One with the Prom Video.  Yes, it’s about Ross and Rachel and there is an intense feels moment.

Alex: All of the above are great choices, but for me, either Hitch or Crazy, Stupid Love are great romantic comedies that find both sexes at odds and take a lighthearted but honest jab at dating, recovering from heartbreak, and relationships.

What’s the best pickup line?

Brian:

Broken Pencil
You must execute exactly like this.

Erin:

Yeksson:

54580718dhhei_smMost, if not, all of Will Smith’s pick up lines really.

Alex:

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This is all I got.

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Opinion: Is Open-World Gaming Too Much?

When Team Nerdswole decided to stream with our good friend Tien Nguyen on Twitch, we got to play some rounds of Super Smash Bros for Wii U and talk about some of the games we’re loving today. On the topic of open-world games, his playthrough of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and my run through Batman: Arkham Knight, we both shared the same joy and frustration with each game.

Both games are the pinnacle of their franchises, with a grand history of universal acclaim, overall fantastic production and follow-through, and a commitment to staying the course through new iterations. Sure, both series have had their hiccups, but they’ve ultimately evolved into the latest generation. My one concern comes simply from excess.

Batman: Arkham Knight is, like its predecessors, one of the most fully fleshed out versions of Batman. You take control of the caped crusader as he battles the Scarecrow, his enlisted assassin (the aptlynamed Arkham Knight), and the rest of the Gotham’s Rogues Gallery. As you play through the extensive main story, crimes pop up all around the city. To take a deviation from your mission, you access the most wanted menu, allowing you to follow each case.
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For fans of Arkham and the Batman lore, this is a fun way to take out new and old villains, along with protecting Gotham, leveling up, and being challenged in new ways. On the other side, you are treated to another menu, called AR Challenges. These allow you to tackle old missions and gain upgrades for doing them under certain conditions. This is what I would call a huge deviation: adding nothing to the game other than retreading your past accomplishments.

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The main point of these missions is not that they exist to simply lengthen gameplay. There are moments in the storyline when you’re given “fresh air,” a moment when you can choose your mission. However, these pop-up all too frequently, as the game pushes you away from accomplishing your main quest while you wait around an arbitrary amount of time or perform a certain number of side missions. When a game is open-world, like many MMO’s that have set the standard for exploration, you shouldn’t be forced to do anything. Free-reign, sandbox, call it what you like, but it means the world is your oyster, not “go after one oyster in the distance, not this large shiny one right in front of you.”

A game like Super Mario World 3D World, albeit a different genre, hid its secret in the main levels, giving you the opportunity to explore but allowing you to decide. Games in the Legend of Zelda franchise never stop reminding you of your main quest, but allow you to explore the world at your own pace. A game like Deadpool kept the action going on a linear scale, allowing the story to play out. This is more important than ever in comic-book inspired games, as their basis and reason for being comes from having great characters and narratives.

It’s a slight criticism but many games on next-gen consoles are targeting and using the open-world, action-adventure, slightly first person hybrid approach in many current and upcoming games. For me, as a Legend of Zelda fan, I’m worried about the future Zelda. Will it retain a focus or will breaking pots and opening chests be what you’re told to do?

Is Alex crazy? Is more not better? Let us know what you think in the comments below or via our Facebook and Twitter pages!

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Indie Game Spotlight: Nuclear Throne

From time to time I pick up an indie game, usually from a friend’s recommendation or gift on Steam, and if I really like it a lot I think I’ll be writing an Indie Spotlight on it. Today’s game is Nuclear ThroneI’ve mentioned it a couple of times on our Nerd Swole weeklies, and now I wanted to talk a little bit more in depth about the game.

Firstly I wanted to say that this game is about as unforgiving as any game I’ve played, and even more so than a game that I already thought was quite cruel and challenging in Ramapge KnightsThrone is a top down, 8-bit looking, third person shooter, dungeon crawler, that will make you want to punch holes in walls with how much you can get absolutely WRECKED when you thought you were having a pretty solid run. The dungeons are random, the weapon drops and power ups from leveling are all random as well, so you may have a good run where you get great weapons but terrible power ups and vice versa. So if you dislike games involving some luck this game may not be for you.

BICEPS
One of the random power ups you can get called “Back Muscles”

Don’t get me wrong though, this game does take a fair amount of skill and isn’t a bunch of random generator luck. You skillfully navigate through dungeons, conserve, and use of special skills depending on your character. You make decisions like skipping chests and items now hoping for a big payoff later or you get completely screwed because you hoped for a shovel and got a screwdriver (this makes complete sense if you play the game I promise).

On top of that, characters are unique and different, and none of them seem particularly overpowered and ridiculous, each has a pretty useful special ability/mechanic. I really commend the developers on this part as each character really is different from the others and there is a very good variety of characters to find a really good fit for your style (you do have to unlock characters though).

Throne Characters

There is a lot to be said about synergy as well, because certain characters definitely work better together, so you and your teammate don’t have to be on the same page with character selection, but it helps if you are. Oh right, a teammate, the main reason that I even picked up this game is the co-op (usually a driving factor with a lot of indies I play).

I’ve mentioned many times how much I enjoy co-op because of the memories that are made in local co-op games when your friend/teammate makes a big play to save the day, and as much heartbreak as there is in Nuclear Throne, there will also be plenty of great memories forged by all of the possible clutch moments you come across. Whether it’s finding a med kit so you get above 1 hp to revive your teammate, or blocking for a teammate, or just skillfully dodging the bullet hell, there are a lot of opportunities for skilled plays.

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More likely than not you will die. A lot. However, it’s more often than not it’s because you positioned yourself poorly or didn’t prepare for an oncoming level properly, which with a game like this is quite important. It’s important not to feel like you’re fighting poor design, because that just causes frustration to a point where you likely won’t want to play the game anymore.

Nuclear Throne has enough depth and skill involved with it’s randomness that it makes players feel in control and that the reason they didn’t beat the game is because players made a wrong move. In my opinion, there is nothing more frustrating in gaming than feeling like you played perfectly and getting owned because you’re fighting the design of the game, and not the game.

In addition to navigating random dungeons, bullet hells, and random luck of the draw, you’ll also have to fight bosses. The bosses in the game aren’t just clones of the last boss with more projectiles, they’re each unique from each other and really challenge you to use a strategy to beat them. Whether it’s having a melee weapon to reflect their projectiles, or making sure you’re in a smaller corner to control their mobility, there is a fair amount of strategy and skill going into fighting these bosses, and don’t even get me started on the final boss. I’ll avoid spoilers, but let’s just say the final boss has a couple of tricks up their sleeve.

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I found Nuclear Throne a fun challenge, and would recommend it to people who enjoy a good co-op game. It currently retails on Steam at $11.99.

If you’ve got a suggestion for a game you’d like me to play, let me know! I’d love to hear it and will definitely consider it.

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ICYMI: The Pokémon Super Bowl Commerical

The big game usually has a lot of really creative, fun, and quirky commercials. It’s become a bit of a show in and of itself to simply watch the biggest game in football to see the ads between the game action. It isn’t unheard of for games (usually mobile games though) to get in on the action, but usually it is bigger tech companies, foods, and movies that really show up on these ads. So that’s what makes this ad special, Nintendo appears to be releasing a Pokémon ad, which is kind of incredible, because it’s not even for the whole company, just the single franchise. So let’s check out the Pokémon Super Bowl Commercial.

I really love that there is such a wide audience being targeted here. Of course, a lot of the main subjects are young kids, but there are obvious throwbacks to fans of the first generation of the hit franchise, such as having “Like No One Ever Was” above the doorway. Some have called the ad cheesy, but I’m a big fan of the whole commercial, and really appreciated it for what it is. It’s not a specific ad for any particular game coming out (although you might argue it’s for Pokémon GO) it doesn’t specifically list any game, so to me it’s just a celebration of the franchise and its longevity which is a beautiful thing.

It doesn’t hurt that it made me look up Pokken and Pokémon GO’s release dates again though. I guess what they’re really asking is this:
body are you ready

Let us know your thoughts! Please check out our Amazon Store, full of items that we recommend as Amazon Associates! 

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Video Game Retrospective – Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

Taking another crack at a Zelda game is both an absolute joy and a trial in frustration. On the one hand, playing through a near perfect franchise with more creativity and innovation is incredibly rewarding. It can also be a pain being unable to remember puzzles, side-quests, and enemy patterns that were solved in the past, as the game continues to engage and taunt you whenever possible. A game that has had the pleasure of challenging me at every turn is Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3DS.

Making the Familiar Unfamiliar

When most people hear Legend of Zelda, they think of a few things: the guy in green (Link, not Zelda), the princess (actually Zelda), Ganon/Ganondorf (the big baddie), dungeons, puzzles, magic, and great story. While Majora’s Mask is the fifth canonical entry in the series, it is by far one of the most unique. One can say its reuse of the famous Ocarina of Time engine, graphics, and enemies can be considered a shortcut, but I argue that the time saved one those elements allowed the development team to create one heck of an emotional story. There’s 4 main dungeons (6 in total, as opposed to Ocarina of Time’s 10+), there’s a 3-day timer to stop the end of the world, and there are transformations that take the place of most of the major weapons, and a major focus on sidequests. You can run through the game pretty quickly by just going through the four dungeons to the final boss, but the true ending lies in the world of Termina.

Link: Hero Of The People

majora__s_mask_by_ieaturkittenz

Termina is filled with despair, as if Termina wasn’t explicit enough. As the world watches a giant moon closing in on the land, many of the citizens of the land are trying to make their final restitutions. For the three days that Link is in Termina, he has to save the lives of these strangers. But how do you help a whole world? Fortunately, as a sequel to Ocarina of Time, Link still has the titular instrument that allows him to travel through time. Before the moon strikes the world in 3 days, Link can travel back to the first days. All of the problems Link solved are recorded in a notebook and he is rewarded with a mask to commemorate the event. By collecting all the masks, Link finds the truth behind the evil mask.

The World of Despair Paints a Colorful Portrait

The world is definitely discouraging, but there are beautiful stories everywhere. Link doesn’t speak, but his actions give life to every character he encounters. The masks, the characters, the art; the game, especially the remastered 3DS version, successfully translate official artwork to gameplay.

 

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While I can’t give away too much, I absolutely adore this game. For all of its emotion, innovation, and cast, the game remains one of my favorites in not only the Legend of Zelda series, but of all time. For that, here is a few pieces of artwork inspired by the game.

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The game is available on the Nintendo 3DS, but the original version was rereleased on the Nintendo Gamecube and the Wii’s virtual console. If you’ve loved every moment of Majora’s Mask troubling and inspiring story, let us know your experiences with the game in the comments below, or via our Facebook and Twitter pages!

Interested in writing for Nerd Swole? Contact Brian at twentytwo.le@gmail.com for more information!

Please check out our Amazon Store, full of items that we recommend as Amazon Associates!