Ok so my gaming laptop died on Thanksgiving Day

…Yet I’m not entirely devastated. Why? Because I planned for it when I decided to buy my desktop PC the year before buying it. Losing my laptop means I can no longer play Diablo III or World of Warcraft. It also means I’ve lost my primary streaming device for Crunchyroll, WWE Network, Viki, Asian Crush and Xfinity. I decided back in 2013 that I would always have both a laptop and a desktop at the same time at home specifically for situations like this.

In a nutshell, I’ve only lost access to a handful of pictures from my digital camera since I hadn’t backed them up after I put them on my laptop earlier this year. Actually, I’ve lost nothing since the hard drive is fine. If I can get an enclosure or the right cable, I can remove the laptop’s hard drive and recover my files. No rush. In exchange for losing my laptop, I got a Blu Ray Player yesterday. Basically, I am taking steps to mitigate no longer having the use of my laptop.

Is it fixable? Nope, only the hard drive is salvagable and that can wait indefinitely. If anyone is interested in helping me get a new laptop, you can donate money through PayPal. If you’re open to ordering a laptop and having it shipped to me, feel free to let me know also.

That aside, I obviously still have my desktop. Eh…for now anyway. The thing’s a toaster but it’s better than nothing. Man, do I not miss the 2000s when I had to struggle to just turn on my old laptop. I stopped using it for resource-demanding games and it’s not powerful enough to run Guild Wars 2, Civilization V, Destiny 2, World of Warcraft or Diablo III (all of which I have). The CD drive in my dekstop stopped working years ago, too so it’s not good for serious gaming overall. So, I would eventually want to get a more powerful desktop in the future too.

…That said, I have more pressing priorities than buying two new computers. Namely getting stable income first, my own apartment second and going back to college third. This is also why I haven’t been doing alot of blogging for much of the year. Fortunately, it doesn’t cost me anything to keep this blog online.

Thanks, WordPress!

If you have enjoyed this post or other posts I have made on this blog, please consider making a monetary donation via PayPal. Whatever amount you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

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World of Warcraft’s 2nd expansion Wrath of the Lich King launched 10 years ago this week

Image result for World of Warcraft Wrath of the Lich King

 

…Man oh man.

 

I still remember the first time I watched the reveal trailer back in 2007:

 

 

…Mind you, I had been playing WoW for almost two years at the time. My then level 68 Paladin and a level 64 Warlock (now level 105 currently) were my mains, both Alliance. By the time the expansion launched, I had 4 chars ready for Northrend.

 

 

Here’s a rundown of the stuff Wrath of the Lich King introduced to the game either at launch or when it was current:

  • Northrend: Then a level 68 to 80 questing experience. As of the current expansion Battle For Azeroth, players can chose to level 58 to 80 on Northrend or Outland.
  • Death Knight: The game’s first Hero Class. A Hero Class is so named because they start at a higher level first and at the time, you needed to have a level 55+ Character on the server you wanted to make one on. After the expansion, the existing level 55+ character requirement and server limit were both removed. At launch, Frost was a Tank Spec and Blood was a DPS Spec. The Specs were flipped with the first major content patch when it was realized Blood had more survivability talents than Frost. After that, Frost became a DPS Spec and Blood became a Tank Spec which is still the case today.
  • Acherus: The Scarlet Enclave (Level 55-58 Death Knights): Newly created Death Knights have a separate intro quest experience regardless of race including Worgen and Goblins, who were added in Cataclysm. At the end of the quest experience, you will break from the Scourge and travel to Stormwind or Orgrimmar to officially join the Alliance or Horde. It is worth noting quest text is different in Northrend when you encounter NPC Death Knights especially in Icecrown and Zul’Drak.
  • Inscription Profession: The last new Profession added to the game, the profession is no longer as useful as it was back then. Why? Because the core feature it was made for was removed in MoP: Run Slots. Today, Inscription is mostly for making cards.
  • Rune Slots (Removed Mid-MoP): The Interface was added to go with Inscription. What it did was when you used Runes of moves from the Inscription Profession, it would change the way a move worked. Rune Slots were removed during MoP in favor of drastic changes to core moves being done via Talents. Runes are still around but they no longer cause major changes to the way moves work.
  • Dual Spec (Removed in Legion): Added with the first major patch, this game-changing feature allowed players to run 2 Specs at the same time and switch between them at will while out of combat. This was HUGE especially when playing as a Paladin, Druid, Shaman, Priest, Death Knight, Warrior, Demon Hunter or Monk since all of them have a Tank or Heal Spec in addition to DPS. No longer were you prettymuch locked into one spec. Now, you could switch between two specs and when playing as one of those classes especially, you were more valuable for Dungeons and Raiding.
  • Achievements: Clearly inspired by the Xbox 360’s achievements interface. At time time, Achievements Character-specific. In Cataclysm they became accountwide and more so given 2 or more characters or a character of both factions would be needed to get certain achievements or feats of strength.
  • Dungeon Finder: The most controversial addition to the game since Battlegrounds at the time. The feature removed the need to manually travel to dungeons and matched you with 4 other players to do Dungeons at the normal or Heroic (Now Mythic and Mythic +) difficulties. The Raid Finder feature added at the end of Cataclysm would open up raiding to more players.
  • Wintergrasp: If any feature opened up PvP to players who normally wouldn’t consider it, it was Wintergrasp. Why would PvEers care? The Raid inside Wintergrasp Fortress, Vault of Acheron could only be accessed by the faction that won the game’s first outdoor battleground for at least 2 and a half hours. Prior to the 240 (120 per faction) and then 80 (40 per faction) caps added to address server lag, you literally had the whole server of level 70-80 players queing or flying into WG. Win and your faction could raid for some gear. Lose, and you had to get away before players from the winning faction picked off stragglers.
  • Strand of the Ancients (now retired): The Strand of the Ancients Battleground was introduced in Wrath of the Lich King. In this battleground, the Alliance and Horde would take turns on offense and defense for a few rounds. The battleground was retired after Legion due to its low popularity and use in Rated Battleground matches.
  • Traveler’s Tundra Mammoth: The game’s first buyable multi-person mount. This bad boy is 20,000G which was alot at the time but if you are Exalted with the Kirin Tor, you could buy it for 16,000G. Mel Francis is the vendor who sells it in both the Northrend and Broken Isles versions of Dalaran. The mount comes with 2 vendors who can be ejected so two additional players can get on and ride with the owner.
  • Mekgineer’s Chopper (Alliance) and Mechano-Hog (Horde): Not to be confused with the promotional mounts introduced during Cataclysm, the Chopper and Hog are mounts you can build with the Engineering profession. You need an Engineering Skill of 450 as well as must be Exalted with the Valiance Expedition (Alliance) or Warsong Offensive (Horde) to buy and learn the schematic. This is aside from getting the mats needed to build it. The Salvaged Golem Parts can be purchased for 3,000G from a Roxi Ramrocket at K3 in Stom Peaks, which is south of Ulduar. Don’t want to pay 3,000G? Down the Flame Leviathan, which is the first boss in the Ulduar Raid and Salvage it (Engineering profession is required to Salvage Mechanical mobs). Anywho once you craft the mount and learn it, you automatically gain access the the bike for the other faction at the same time and as a reminder, they ARE a 2-person mounts. It’s not Bind on Pickup so an Engineer can give it to someon or put it on the Auction House. Most (still) go for 20,000G or more but most Engineers will make you one for free as long as you provide the needed Mats. They are still rare mounts between the Mats and Exalted Rep needed to get the schematic though.
  • Terrain Phasing: The then new tech caused permanent changes in Northrend as you cleared certain quests or quest chains. The biggest before Icecrown happens after the Wrath Gate cinematic in Dragonblight. Later on you will gain Flight Paths in Icecrown, Sholazar Basin and the Storm Peaks through quest chains in each zone. Someone who hasn’t progressed as far as you will not see the same changes you made until they do the quest chains themselves. The tech has been used in every expansion since so…yeah.
  • King Varian Wrynn: Also called Lo’Gosh, Stormwind City’s long missing Warrior King returns at the beginning of the expansion. He would lead the Alliance during the Northrend Campaign, personally traveling to Icecrown to lend his assistence to Alliance Players. As is said after the Raid, No King Rules Forever. Varian dies on the Broken Shore at the beginning of Legion but his legacy lives on. Varian is also a playable character in the cross-series MOBA Heroes of the Storm. Varian was voiced by Chris Metzen, who also voiced Thrall.
  • Muradin Bronzebeard: Missing since Warcraft III and presumed dead, it’s revealed Muradin survived and had been living in Frosthold with amensia. Alliance heroes first learn he survived his encounter with Frostmourne in northern Dragonblight. Later, you will encounter a Bronzebeard Dwarf who came to the Frosthold clan some time ago. It doesn’t take long for you to figure out he is the missing middle brother of the Bronzebeard royal family. His older brother Magni and younger brother Brann rush to meet him and the family is back together.
  • Mal’Ganis: Here’s another blast from the past those who played Warcraft III might remember. The Dreadlord, who was dispatched by Arthas many years earlier makes an appearance in northwestern Icecrown. This time, he has followed in the footsteps of a fellow Dreadlord and infiltrated the Scarlet Onslaught in Northrend. After being exposed, Mal’Ganis vows to return again before making his escape.

 

…Whew.

I could go on but I think that’s enough for now.

 

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Wrath of the Lich King was easily the biggest expansion in terms of just new content both at launch and over time. Ulduar, Trial of the Grand Crusader, Icecrown and the Ruby Sanctum were all added in content patches. This is aside from the stuff I mentioned above and even more I know I left out. It was also the expansion that showed players the Devs learned from what they did with The Burning Crusade: In Burning Crusade, the intro quest zone is Hellfire Penninsula and it is shared by players from both factions. Not only that, players from both factions shared questing areas in the zone. When Burning Crusade launched, the zone lagged for weeks due to the sheer number of players trying to just quest.

The Devs learned from that obviously. Northrend has two starting areas: Borean Tundra in the West and Howling Fjord in the East. Alliance Players can take a boat from Stormwind Harbor or Menethil Harbor in Wetlands while Horde players can take a Zeppelin from Orgrimmar (the Undercity also until BFA but that Zeppelin was moved to Orgrimmar). They are cross-faction zones but the two starting zones meant you didn’t have everyone in the same place at the same time. More so given questing is set so you deliberately don’t encounter players of the other faction until much later in the zone and only if you wanted to.

Cataclysm would continue the trend of 2 starting zones with Vash’jr and Hyjal. Mists of Pandaria would have Jade Forest as the sole starting zone but the factions started on opposite ends of the zone. Warlords of Draenor had a separate starting zone per faction while in Legion, you could start questing in any zone on the Broken Isles  you wanted except Suramar, which is a max level zone. BFA, like Warlords of Draenor segregates players by faction until you reach level 120.

 

 

“….Tell them that the Lich King is dead and World of Warcraft died with him.”

Many players consider it to be the greatest expansion ever and mostly because of the Lore around the expansion’s main antagonist. First introduced in the RTS game Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, Arthas went to the Dark Side when he took up Frostmourne. He returned home from Northrend only to murder his father and lead a grim campaign across Lordaeron and Quel’Thalas. He would then return to Icecrown and become the Lich King before disappearing from memory for two years lorewise. The Scourge Invasion pre-event marked his return to Lore as the Lich King.

Arthas was an iconic lore character and it’s easy to compare him to another Fallen Hero: Anakin Skywalker, later known as Darth Vader.

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The Scourge was at their most powerful under the Lich King Arthas. They not only controlled the continent of Northrend but also the Plaguelands (formerly eastern Lordaeron), Stratholme, almost half of Quel’Thalas and even Razorfen Down in The Barrens. That’s aside from Naxxramas and Acherus as well. The current Lich King and Jailor of the Damned is nowhere near as powerful as his predecessor but clearly the groundwork was laid during the Death Knight Order Hall Campaign for the Lich King to make a comeback down the road.

A question often asked today is what if The Lich King prevailed at Icecrown? Well, we know The Cataclysm would’ve happened regardless so there’s that. Obviously the Scourge Champions who fell and were then raised by the Lich King at Icecrown would be sent to Stormwind, Orgrimmar and the other Faction Capitals to conquer them in the name of the Lich King. When the Cataclysm happens, the Lich King will direct his now even stronger forces to take the fight to Deathwing and the Twilight Hammer. With the Horde and Alliance defeated by the Scourge, the Lich King would direct his Champions to conquer Pandaria. Since Garrosh Hellscream never went to AU Draenor, the events of Warlords of Draenor and Legion never happen.

…All that said, it would be fair to say the Scourge will make a return sometime down the line. It’s just a matter of time.

If you have enjoyed this post or other posts I have made on this blog, please consider making a monetary donation via PayPal. Whatever amount you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

 

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An important message to Parents on Internet Safety and Video Games

Image result for The Dangers of Technology

 

As more of the world has access to the internet and social media compared to 20 years ago, it is even more important than ever that we exercise caution when it comes to how we use modern technology. More importantly, leave nothing to chance when it comes to protecting children from the online predators who are actively seeking them out.

When it comes to the internet and social media, privacy is a thing of a past. The most valuable currency online is not money but personal information. After all, sites like Facebook and Twitter are hit by cyber attackers looking to gain access to the personal information of the millions who use those sites. Said information is in turn sold to the highest bidder or used to open lines of credit in your name. It’s not like the 90s where you had to be browsing certain kinds of websites to get into trouble. Now, the trouble is actively prowling Social Media and online games looking for their next victim.

Even those adults who know little about the internet knows not to disclose certain kinds of information to complete strangers they meet online. The same can’t be said about children and that is why pedophiles and sex predators have become more bold and brazen than they have in the past in luring children through social media and video games. When I say “child”, I mean someone who is 17 and under for the purposes of this blog post.

Here’s 5 questions I want to pose to you:

  1. Does your child have their own Social Media account(s)?
  2. Does your child play video games online at home and if so, does the game have a text chat or voice chat feature?
  3. Do you have pictures of your children posted or shared on your own Social Media account?
  4. Does your child have a desktop/laptop, netbook, cell phone or tablet that only they use?
  5. Does your child use technology unsupervised?

If your answered Yes to ANY of these questions, your child could be targeted by online predators or already may be. Just so folks know, most Social Media platforms state one must be at least 13 years old to make an account. Facebook has been aggressively closing accounts made by underage users to protect them from the pedophiles prowling the site for children.

It’s not just Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Pedophiles are prowling popular video games like Minecraft and Fortnite specifically looking for kids to approach. First they gain the child’s trust and then things get dark and perverse fast. Of course, they approach pretending to be kids themselves wanting to be friends. Once they’re sure they’re talking to a child, they start asking age inappropriate questions.

If your child uses social media or video games with private chat features, ask them if they have been asked or told any of the following questions by someone they met online:

 

  1. “Where do you live?”
  2. “What’s your first name?”
  3. “Can you send me a pic? I want to see what you look like.” and “You look cute/good. Wanna be my boy/girl friend?”
  4. “You sound young. How old are you?”
  5. “What are you wearing right now?”
  6. “Can I have your cell number/email? I have something to show you.”
  7. “Can we video chat/FaceTime?”
  8. “Would you like to meet?”

If your child answered Yes to any of these, they may be talking to a pedophile. NONE of these are appropriate for an adult to knowingly ask anyone under 18, let alone under 13. Of course, most kids wouldn’t know. The predator’s fishing for info to confirm who they’re talking to is in fact a child and not an undercover cop. Once that’s confirmed, they work on two things: Getting a child to send them nude photos or video and arranging an in-person meetup. Again, a child wouldn’t know. Such material is usually quickly shared on Child Porn sites.

The only way to prevent this from happening is to use your Parential Discretion and actively monitor your child. Here is a checklist I highly reccommend:

  • Set Parental Locks on any video game systems, cellphones or tablets and other electronic devices your child will be using. This helps limit the device’s communication features both ways.
  • On your Facebook account set photos of your children to Friends of Friends, Friends or Me Only. This severely limits who can see them. At the same time, do not set pictures of your children as your Profile or Cover Photo. That invites predators and pedophiles to browse your photos and download pictures of your children without your permission or knowledge.
  • If you child plays video games online, tell them not to tell anyone they don’t know in person their name, age, phone number, email address or game account information.
  • Children under 14 should not have a computer in their bedroom unless there is internet filtering software installed or parental locks enabled on it. On both PCs and Macs, you can set parental locks that restrict both internet usage and installing or modifying programs.

…No longer are we worrying about Pedophiles just hiding in plain sight. They have figured out how to target children from the safety of their own homes. In short, extra care needs to be taken when kids are using technology. Talk to your children about the importance of internet safety and privacy. Tell them that not everyone who is friendly to them is who they say they are and teach them the importance of not revealing their real name, age or location to anyone they have never met in person before.

If your child has a cell phone, make sure they understand no one they have not personally met is allowed to know their cell phone number. Boys and girls should also be instructed to never take pictures of themselves with no clothes on and more importantly, tell anyone who asks for such pictures NO. Make sure children understand only a parent, adult family member or doctor is allowed to see or touch their private parts or butt and no one else. Just put it like that. Make sure they understand it’s not ok to show their private parts to anyone else with or without their permission. For teenagers under 18, make sure they understand they and whoever they’re dating can be charged with posession of child porn for “Sexting” even if it is consentual (and it usually is consentual) as long as one or both is under 18.

These days, constant vigilance is the only way to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable from the predators who actively seek them out. Most children are very trusting and have no way of knowing the harm in talking to a complete stranger or exchanging nude pictures with a complete stranger who asks. All they know is someone is being very nice to them and is giving them their complete attention. They have no way of knowing howing why they are being asked for pictures of their private parts. Such images or video are almost immediately shared with other pedophiles via the Dark Web and once something is shared on the Dark Web, there’s no going back.

…If you’re a parent or guardian and terrified by now, you should be. Use the information I provided and put it to protecting your children. Like I said at the top, the monsters change with the times. It’s on us to change with the times and do what we can to keep ahead of them.

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It is worth noting Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo all have Parental Restrictions on their current and previous game systems. All three expanded the Parental Restrictions to include communication features on their respective consoles. Most gamers already know this but most exchange their gamertag or game account username online on various websites to connect and play with others. Most gamers are also aware all three discourage this practice and warn that gamers only add people they know to their contacts list.

5 years ago, Nintendo famously disabled the Online and Spotpass communication features of its then hugely popular Swap Note Messaging App on the Nintendo 3DS when it was discovered some were using it for Sexting. There were concerns Pedophiles could use the Swap Note App to exchange pictures with minors. Of course, Nintendo was well aware many 3DS owners exchange their Nintendo ID online on various video game websites or social media.

Since Swap Note is Peer to Peer communication, the obvious concern was a minor could unknowingly add a Pedophile to their contacts list from a website who could then in turn exchange nude pictures with them. Nintendo decided to disable the Spotpass and online communication features almost overnight worldwide as a precaution. It was a risk they were not willing to take. Although the change all but killed the app, I still believe they made they right call. The risk for potential misuse was just too high.

 

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A few “Tales of” Games that should be ported to the Nintendo 3DS

About 5 years back, Tales of the Abyss was released on the Nintendo 3DS. Aside from the smaller screen and lowered audio quality, it ran as those who played the original Playstation 2 version remember. No glitches or bugs to speak of at least. I am well aware ports and remakes in general always get mixed reactions or criticism from fans of the original release.

Some of the games I’m about to name are warranted while others will be a surprise. And yes I mean getting released outside Japan.

Image result for Tales of Destiny

Image result for Tales of Destiny 2

 

These two games should come as no surprise. Destiny and Destiny 2 were first Tales games with connected storylines released. A recurring plot element introduced in Destiny 1 and 2 is the “Judas” character type: A party member will be revealed to be a traitor, then be forgiven or allowed to redeem themselves. In the case of Destiny 1, it’s Leon. He returns as Judas in Destiny 2 and aids the main protagonist of that game.

Anyway both games were originally released on the Playstation 1 and then re-relased on the Playstation 2 but only in Japan. Destiny 2 was never released outside Japan either. The characters from both games have made cameos or references in other Tales games. A straight remake would be in order for both games. They would fit on a 3DS game card just fine with video cutscenes added, though.

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It was originally released outside Japan as Destiny 2 since the real Destiny 2 never left Japan. Bamco clearly tried the same thing Squeenix did with their early games in reordering games released outside games (For example FFIV and FFVI being released in the US as FFII and FFIII). Of course, we ended up never getting the real Destiny 2 but that needs to change. Eternia was originally released on the Playstation 1 but later got a Japan-only PSP release. Goes without saying a straight remake would be in order. It would easily fit on a 3DS game card with video cutscenes thrown in.

Image result for Tales of Legendia

 

Ah, yes. The PS2 Tales game most want to forget exists. Admittedly, I never played this game because of how bad this game was rumored to be across the board. Even though it was released on the PS2 and AFTER Tales of the Abyss, it looked more like a PS1 game! Legendia does have the distinction of being the only Tales game in which the main protagonist fights barehanded. It was never re-released presumably because of how unpopular it was. It would easily fit on a 3DS game card but clearly some retuning would be in order.

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Ah, Hearts R.

We barely got it on the Vita in the U.S. but the lazy translation demands a re-release. Hearts was originally released on the Nintendo DS in Japan but later got remade on the Vita, which got a US release. Chalcedony, who is an NPC is Hearts is a playable character in Hearts R. Gaius is a new character who wasn’t in Hearts that joins the playable cast as well. Adding an original playable character wasn’t new at that point: This has been done with Vesperia’s PS3 port with the addition of Patty (as well as Flynn, who is an NPC in the Xbox 360 version as a playable character) as well as Suzu Fujibayashi in the Game Boy Advance version of Tales of Phantasia (NPC in the SNES and PS1 releases).

I wrote a review for this game a few years back so…yeah. It needs another chance. I bought this game digitally on the Vita so I can confirm it would easily fit on a 3DS game card as-is. Hopefully the 3DS port will have the translation cleaned up and English audio.

Image result for Tales of Innocence R

 

When Hearts R was released on the Vita in North America, there were hopes we would also get Innocence R. Nope! Bamco gave us a giant middle finger by adding it to the list of main series Tales games to never get released outside Japan. Tales of Innocence was originally released on the Nintendo DS before getting a Vita port, both in Japan.

 

…Anywho, those are the ones I’d like to see get a 3DS port and preferably sooner than later. I wanted to throw in Tales of Symphonia but it would probably be too big to fit even after everything’s compressed. I do see Tales of Syphonia + Dawn of the New World getting a Nintendo Switch release sooner than later though. Should be interesting!

 

If you have enjoyed this post or other posts I have made on this blog, please consider making a monetary donation via PayPal. Whatever amount you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

 

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The usual overcrowded servers crashing highlight problems with Battle For Azeroth’s Global Launch

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Leave it to the Internet Trolls and the impatient few who couldn’t log in on Day One to make things sound worse than they really were.

Although I don’t have the new expansion Battle for Azeroth yet, I was online when it launched. I was leveling one of my alts on Draenor (Now two expansions ago) at the time on my laptop while following the BFA news on my desktop (I know how to multitask!) via the WoW Forums as well as MMO-Champion. The latter site, which has now has gained a track record for being where Ex-WoW players go to bash the game in the last several years did not disappoint.

Now, it is no secret WoW actually does have a serious overcrowding problem with its four biggest servers and has almost from the beginning. I won’t name them but I do not play on any of the servers in question myself. I have always played on Medium or Medium-Low Population servers. Cross-Realm and Sharding Tech are nothing more than band aids to the much larger issue exclusive to those servers.

My idea?

Move half the players off those servers and force them to migrate to the lowest-pop servers. It wouldn’t be all at once but it would be gradual and yes, whole guilds can do it like it is now. Blizzard can incentivize the move by offering players who move their choice of two mounts from the WoW Store for free and their choice of the mounts you normally have to participate in the Recruit a Friend Promotion to get, also free. We’re talking two $25 mounts ($50 Total) plus a mount that requires buying the full game to get ($50) being given to you for free just for opting into moving to a Low-Pop Server. Of course, they can pick which low-pop server they move to. The move itself would be free of charge of course.

That aside, it was basically like the launch of Legion and Warlords of Draenor: Switch flipped, most dive into new content for the first few weeks, gets bored and then stops playing until new content is released. A player reached the new level cap of 120 in 5 hours, getting the World First. Me, I never rush through new content. Mostly because I’m an Altoholic.

I know when I do something for the first time I’m gonna be doing it again 10+ times and I don’t mind either. I haven’t done 60% of Suramar yet. I haven’t done any of Broken Shore or Argus either. I plan to farm Rep with the Legion Factions so I can unlock the corresponding Allied Racies in BFA. This includes the Highmountain Tauren. I think I’m Revered with them on my lone Level 110 Character (Human Death Knight), can’t remember. I do know that Legion Rep Gains were increased in the case of Allied Races to shorten the grind. The precondition to unlock an Allied Race introduced in Legion is to become Exalted with the faction.

Moving on.

I do think the next expansion will be announced in two years. Blizzard announced a few years back they design future expansions two expansions in advance since the tech has updated enough to allow them to do it. What this means is new content comes faster and there is a shorter wait between expansions. LOL they learned their lesson from Cata to MoP: 16 months of Madness of Deathwing. 10 Months of Seige of Orgrimmar was a little better but they got it right with Warlords of Draenor. So, when Mists of Pandaria was live they began working on Legion (Warlords came next). When Warlords was live, they began working on Battle for Azeroth (Legion came next). Right now they are working on the expansion coming two expansions after BFA so they already finished the design phase for the expansion coming after BFA. Get it? Got it? Good.

Prettymuch they do not announce the next expansion until they have the Alpha player-ready. I Beta tested Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor so…yeah. BFA was announced at BlizzCon 2017. The expansion launched this past Monday. The time inbetween was spent wrapping up Legion and setting up for BFA. They did a much better job this time than they did with the Warlords to Legion transition. Alot of it has to do with the flow of the story and the Faction War being the main story of BFA.

I’ll end with this: Everyone is (painfully) aware BFA is a filler expansion like Cataclysm was for Mists and Warlords was for Legion. It will be interesting to see how the expansion to come after BFA is set up moving forward.

 

If you have enjoyed this post or other posts I have made on this blog, please consider making a monetary donation via PayPal. Whatever amount you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

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My 100 Favorite Video Games of the 1990s

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I originally planned to keep it to 50 but then when I remembered how many SNES and Genesis games I played throughout the 1990s, 50 wasn’t gonna cut it. LOL.

For the purposes of these lists, I made these rules for myself:

  1. No limit on games per console I played
  2. Doesn’t matter if I never finished the game
  3. Don’t talk about each game in this post that I list, just name them
  4. It’s fine if I played a game originally released during this time later

 

…There ya go. Let’s get started, shall we?

 

Super Nintendo

  • Super Mario World
  • Super Off Road
  • Pilotwings
  • Batman Returns
  • Sunset Riders
  • Tiny Toon Adventures
  • Street Fighter II
  • Street Fighter II Turbo
  • Super Street Fighter II
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Earthbound
  • Killer Instinct
  • Final Fantasy VI
  • F-Zero
  • Top Gear 2
  • Super Mario RPG
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Super Mario All Stars
  • Act Raiser
  • Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Fighting Edition
  • Sim City
  • Chrono Trigger
  • Joe & Mac
  • Super Metroid
  • Lufia
  • Toy Story

…Unsurprisingly, nearly half are RPGs or Strategy games. A noticable omission: Secret of Mana. Yes I played it but I hated it. With a passion. I hated the mechanics more or less. That’s why I could never get into it and I don’t know anyone else who feels the same way. LOL. I also owned the Genesis version of Super Street Fighter II. I played Final Fantasy VI for the first time in 2001.

Sega Genesis

  • Sonic 1
  • Sonic 2
  • Sonic 3
  • Sonic Spinball
  • Sonic & Knuckles
  • Phantasy Star III
  • Phantasy Star IV
  • Wardner
  • Outlander
  • Ariel The Little Mermaid
  • The Lion King
  • Aladdin
  • Streets of Rage II
  • Golden Axe
  • X-Men
  • Michael Jackson: Moonwalker
  • Mortal Kombat
  • Mortal Kombat II
  • Mortal Kombat III
  • Ultimate MK3
  • NBA Jam
  • Sports Talk Baseball
  • Jordan vs. Bird
  • Shining Force
  • Altered Beast
  • Columns

 

…Between SNES and Genesis, I knew I was gonna hit 50. LOL.

I actually played Shining Force for the firsttime when it was included in Genesis 6-Pack set released on the PC in 1998. All the rest, I played or owned physical copies of. Back in the day, everyone had a Genesis or SNES or both. So many good games on both consoles.

…And I was the oddball who LOVED Phantasy Star III…at age 10! LOL.

 

Sega Game Gear

 

  • Sonic 2
  • Sonic Chaos
  • Sonic Spinball
  • The Majors Pro Baseball
  • Shining Force: Sword of Hajiya
  • Columns

 

A damned shame the Game Gear, like the PS Vita was doomed to fail from the start because of hardware reasons: The handheld was so powerful, it would drain 6 AA Batteries in 2 hours! If Sega took the time to solve the problem, they might have beat the Game Boy in the Handheld market. What happened instead was Nintendo learned from Sega’s mistakes when they developed the Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance and later the Game Boy Advance SP.

I owned Sonic 2, Sonic Chaos, Sonic Spinball and The Majors Pro Baseball. I played the Game Gear versions of Columns Shining Force on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console.

 

Game Boy/Game Boy Color

 

  • Super Mario Land
  • Super Mario Land 2
  • Pokemon Red
  • Pokemon Blue
  • Pokemon Yellow
  • Pokemon Gold
  • Pokemon Silver
  • Pokemon Crystal (Released in 2001, I know)
  • The Pokemon Trading Card Game
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX
  • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages
  • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons
  • Game & Watch Gallery 2
  • WWF RAW

 

…Unsurprisingly, all but 5 are Pokemon related. As a reminder: Pokemon Blue is Pokemon Green in Japan. I own the virtual console versions of ALL of these games except WWF Raw, which didn’t get a VC release.

 

Playstation 1

  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • CTR: Crash Team Racing
  • Ridge Racer
  • Tomb Raider
  • Tomb Raider 2
  • Grab Tourismo
  • Gran Tourismo 2
  • Driver
  • Driver 2
  • Twisted Metal 2
  • Cool Boarders 2
  • Resident Evil 2
  • Grand Theft Auto II

 

…Fun Fact: I STILL have my physical copies of FFVII and Metal Gear Solid even though I no longer have a PS1 20 years after I got them.

I actually have a funny story about my original playthrough of MGS1: It took me a year to finish it because when I first got the game, the 2nd disc was missing. I ended up buying a second copy–the one I still own now–the following year at my neighborhood FuncoLand (now a Gamestop). I played it every week from then until I bought the Gamecube Remake Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.

One of the interesting things about my PS1 list is almost all of them is a sequel. I do think it’s a shame they’re phasing out digital downloads in favor of streaming. On the one hand it makes sense given it’s storage shared by games, game saves and movie or TV Episode downloads. On the other, there are folks like myself who like being able to enjoy things without an internet connection.

Easily the coolest thing about Ridge Racer: Being able to swap in a music CD while racing. Man, some great memories!

 

Nintendo 64

  • Mario Kart 64
  • Starfox 64
  • Super Mario 64
  • Goldeneye 007
  • Diddy Kong Racing
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • Super Smash Bros.
  • WWF Attitude
  • Pokemon Stadium
  • Pokemon Stadium 2
  • Cruisin’ World
  • Paper Mario
  • Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside
  • NBA Showtime: NBA on NBC

…Whew.

The hours I poured into this console. The last game I bought was Pokemon Stadium 2 in 2002 for $70 at Toys”R”Us.

The game I spent the most time on bar none: Goldeneye 007. The reason: Unlocking the Cheats. Unlocking Invincibility on the Facility…let me tell you. It requires clearing the level normally on 00 Agent, which is the hardest difficulty…in 2 minutes and 5 seconds(!). Yeah. Now imagine trying to unlock this cheat without an LP Video. I did. LOL.

The Nintendo 64 introduced a prehep incorporated into almost every home console controller released after it: The Rumble Pak. Sony released the Dual Shock Controller for the PS1 in response to the Rumble Pak. For those of you wondering where the vibrate function on your console came from, now you know.

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…Man, oh man.

I don’t care what anyone says, the 90s were the best decade for gamers and the industry alike. No question.

I didn’t get into PC Gaming until after high school when I finally got my own computer. That’s why there are no PC Games listed. I knew about Computer games but didn’t have my own computer until 2004. I shared one with family a few years up to then.

Posted in Blog, Brendan Aurabolt, Retro Gaming, Review, Serene Adventure, Video Games | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When will the expected Diamond and Pearl remakes be announced? What changes should the 8th Gen Pokemon Games bring?

These are two big questions in the absence of such announcements ar E3. Yes, new Pokemon Switch games were announced and that’s cool. So is being able to transfer Pokemon captured in the Pokemon Go App. Still, TRUE Pokemon fans will not be fooled: When will the 8th Gen Pokemon games be announced?

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…Before that, let’s talk about remakes to the 4th Gen games Pokemon Diamond and Pearl.

I think it would be a safe bet that they will happen. The 1st Gen remakes FireRed and LeafGreen were released during the third gen on the Game Boy Advance. The 2nd Gen remakes HeartGold and SoulSilver were released during the 4th Gen on the Nintendo DS. The 3rd Gen remakes OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire were released during the 6th Gen on the Nintendo 3DS. The remakes were all released on new hardware from the originals.

My guess is the Diamond and Pearl remakes will be New Nintendo 3DS exclusive. Like OmegaRuby/AlphaSapphire, they will also likely be remade in full 3D just like OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire were. Diamond, Pearl and Platinum were mostly 2D despite being on the Nintendo DS, which could handle 3D environments. The Pokemon Company probably could have put OmegaRuby/AlphaSapphire on the Nintendo DS but with the Nintendo 3DS, they could take full advantage of the improved hardware and make better games.

That aside, it will be interesting to see what the Pal Park will be replaced with. Those who played the 4th Gen Pokemon games when they were current could use the Pal Park to transfer Pokemon from the 3rd Gen games to the 4th Gen using a Nintendo DS or Nintendo DS Lite (The Nintendo DSi doesn’t have a GBA Slot). Diamond and Pearl required you to see every Pokemon in the Sinnoh Pokedex to use the Pal Park (as well as fully access the postgame area). In addition, you could only transfer Pokemon once a day in both games. These limitations were removed in Platinum, HeartGold and SoulSilver though. In all five games, you could only access the Pal Park after you beat the Elite Four + Champion.

The 4th Gen introduced Move-based Evolution and Area-based Evolution. For example, Eevee evolves into Leafeon near the Moss-Covered Rock in Eterna Forest in Sinnoh. A Moss Rock has since been included in every game released afterward so trainers can evolve Eevee into Leafeon. Piloswine evolves into Mamoswine when it knows the move Ancientpower. You will only be able to get Anicentpower by paying the Move Relearner a visit. In Sinnoh, he’s in Pastoria City. In Johto, he’s in Blackthorn City. In every game after Crystal, he’ll help you relearn any move a Pokemon learns by leveling–excluding Egg Moves and special Moves Promo Pokemon come with and moves learned from Move Tutors–for a Heart Scale. You can get a Heart Scale from Wild Luvdisc (Use the move Thief, which is learned from a TM).

When the Diamond/Pearl Remakes are released, they will likely follow the precedent set by the other remakes and incorporate the story mechanics from the third games. In HeartGold/SoulSilver, the Suicune story events were included from Crystal, ending with a guaranteed shot at Suicine. In OmegaRuby/AlphaSapphire, the postgame Delta Episode is all about Rayquayza, who is Emerald’s cover legendary. As a bonus you get a shot at catching Dexoys, who was an event Pokemon Emerald as well as HeartGold/SoulSilver.

Speaking of Event Pokemon, Sinnoh has five: Manaphy, Phione, Shaymin, Darkrai and Arceus. Manaphy could only be acquired via a Manaphy Egg in Pokemon Ranger for the Nintendo DS. The other three required event items you could only get from a Nintendo event. My guess is this time, Nintendo will make all of them accessible without having to go to an event.

Darkrai is Cresselia’s polar opposite so they could be version-exclusive in the remakes. Darkrai is actually referenced in the postgame sidequest to get the Lunar Wing, which is how you encounter Cresselia. The Lunar Wing is needed to wake a child trapped in an endless nightmare caused by a certain pokemon we all know who is known for inducing endless nightmares.

Arceus has the power to create a Dialga, Palkia or Giratina in HeartGold/SoulSilver or Platinum. What could be done is require a player to have Dialga, Palkia and Giratina to trigger a sidequest leading to the Arceus encounter.

Giratina lives in his own world in Platinum. That could be brought back. Same with Shaymin and its alternate form. To get Regigigas in Sinnoh, one needed to import Regi-Rock, Regi-Ice and Regi-Steel from Hoenn (3rd Gen Ruby, Sapphire or Emeral) originally. You can get them in OmegaRuby/AlphaSapphire or UltraSun/UltraMoon so that’s covered.

Professor Oak makes a cameo appearance in Sinnoh. His appearance could be expanded upon to now result in his giving you a Bulbasaur, Charmander or Sqirtle. In HeartGold/SoulSilver, Oak will do this when you get all 8 Kanto Badges. They don’t appear in the original games but The Pokemon Company could probably get away with adding Professor Sycamore and Professor Kukui to the remakes for Z-Moves and Mega Evolution respectively. Lucario, Garchomp, Abomasnow, Gallade and Lopunny all have a Mega form. So do other older-gen Pokemon that also appear in Sinnoh such as Glalie and Gardevoir.

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Before I continue, I wanna say this.

The Ruby and Sapphire remakes Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire expanded on Mega Evolution, which was introduced in X an Y. The Pokemon Company gave a giant middle finger to those expecting a Pokemon Z when Zygarde’s other forms were released online and instead added them to Pokemon Sun and Moon. It felt like more of an afterthought as did Mega Evolution in the 7th Gen games.

Speaking of: I only just found out a few weeks ago The Pokemon Company released lore reasons to explain Mega Evolution being boarderline taboo in Alola. According to the Pokedex Entries for almost all Mega Evolutions in the 7th Gen, Mega Evolution puts a massive strain on the Pokemon’s mind and body. In the hands of an inexperienced trainer, some Mega Evolved Pokemon will go berserk and attack its trainer. Others will lose control of their abilities. The only way to prevent these negative side effects is for the Pokemon to have a strong bond with its trainer. The one interesting exception is of course Mewtwo, who can freely Mega Evolve without a trainer (as demonstrated in one of the Pokemon movies).

Anywho, Mega Evolution is prettymuch dead.

The Pokemon Company currently has no plans to introduce new Mega forms or expand on Mega Evolution. This is why it is merely supported in the 7th Gen and can only be accessed after clearing the main story in Alola. So, if you stockpiled Mega Stones in X/Y and Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire with the hopes of being able to freely use said forms in Alola like I did, sorry to disappoint.

In a way, it actually forces those who skipped the 6th Gen games to get them since Mega Evolution is the big mechanic in those games. At this point, you’re locked out of all the promo items and promo Pokemon released when the 6th Gen games were current (Especially the 12 Legendary Pokemon released in 2016 to coincide with Pokemon’s 20th Anniversary, shame on you). You can still access the GTS and trade online in the 6th Gen games minus the Pokemon Link features (now only works with the 7th Gen games). Unlike the 4th and 5th Gen games, Nintendo will likely keep the 6th and 7th Gen online features minus the Pokemon Link features online indefinitely.

Image result for pokemon ultra sun and ultra moon

Now let’s speculate the 8th Gen. Not the pokemon we may see but more important stuff: Changes to gameplay mechanics as we know them.

The 2nd Gen introduced Steel and Dark types. The 3rd Gen introduced Double Battles. The 4th Gen reclassed elemental moves as Physical (Aqua Tail and Fire Punch), Special (Psychic and Aura Sphere) or Other (Recover and Mean Look). The 5th Gen introduced Triple Battles and Rotation Batttles but only for the 5th Gen. The 6th Gen introduced the Fairy Type and Mega Evolution.  The 7th Gen introduced Z-Moves.

I think it would be fair to say the 8th Gen will introduce another game-changing mechanic or two as well. My hope is the introduction of two or more new types. More so since The Pokemon Company is looking to reduce the number of existing Normal Pokemon further. Remember: Jigglypuff and Clefairy were originally Normal Types before they became Fairy types in the 6th Gen.

If I were to introduce new Types for existing Pokemon, I would go with these:

  • Beast: Pokemon based on or strongly resemple real-world counterparts. Such Pokemon include Rattata, Sentret, Teddiursa and Lilipup. They would have a Type advantage over Poison, Grass and Normal types but be weak to Fire, Rock and Steel Types.
  • Cyber: Pokemon based on technology or that have been genetically engineered. Such Pokemon include Porygon, Genesect, Mewtwo and Type:Null. They would have a type advantage over Psychic, Dark and Fairy types but would be weak to Electric, Water and Bug types.
  • Mythical: Not an actual typing but a classification for Event Pokemon such as Celebi, Jirachi and Diancie.
  • Legendary: Not an actual Typing but a classification for Rare and powerful Pokemon such as Lugia, Groudon and Giratina.

It took 7 years but I now appreciate the rebalancing that has been going on since the 5th Gen. Some Abilities were nerfed and all the Super Legendaries were nerfed HARD. The rebalancing changes done in the 6th and 7th Gens has effectively been open war against Cookie Cutter builds the internet invented 20 years ago. Most of you know what I’m talking about: “If you’re having fun, you’re not doing it right”. I don’t participate in the online Pokemon tournaments since I returned to the Pokemon Games at the start of the 6th Gen. The reason: I respect those who are serious competators too much to waste their time and mine. I’m not a serious competator in that way. Sure, I’ll level 12 to 24 Pokemon to 100 but that’s are far as I’m willing to go. I won’t digress further.

Getting back on topic, I would like to see Pokemon Abilities reworked and upgraded. 4 Gens since Abilities were introduced, it’s time. More so given more and more Pokemon obviously have a signature Pokemon Ability compared to the 3rd gen.

What I have in mind is each Pokemon having 3 to 4 Abilities:

 

  • Passive Ability: The Pokemon always has this ability is often the signature ability of the species. For example Wishiwashi’s Schooling or Aegislash’s Stance Change. Because more often than not it is a core ability, it can’t be effected by other Abilities or Pokemon moves.
  • Primary Active Ability: The Pokemon’s main Ability. Can be swapped with their Secondary Ability. Can be switched with their Second Ability.
  • Secondary Inactive Ability: Some existing Pokemon have a Second Ability that isn’t their Hidden Ability. Can be switched with their Primary Ability.
  • Hidden Ability: Some existing Pokemon have a second or third ability that can only be accessed via Promo or Virtual Console Transfer.

I’ll use five Pokemon as an example: Zoroark, Groudon, Kyogre, Talonflame and Pikachu:

  • Zoroark and Zorua both have Illusion, giving them the appearance of the last non-fainted Pokemon in your lineup when sent out. This would be a Passive ability now.
  • Groudon has Drought, summoning Sunlight when it enters battle. The effect was permanent unless changed until the 6th Gen when it was nerfed to now only last 5 turns. This was done mainly because other Pokemon gained Drought in the 6th Gen. Vulpix & Ninetales have Drought as their Hidden Ability and when you import a Pokemon from the 1st or 2nd Gen games, they always come with their Hidden Ability. Torkoal also has Drought as one of its two possible abilities in OmegaRuby/AlphaSapphire. Finally, Mega Charizard Y automatically uses Drought upon transforming. Obviously it would make sense to nerf Drought since non-legends would now have the Ability.
  • Kyogre has the same kind of thing with Drizzle. Those who want “Old-School” Kyogre/Groudon will want to use their Primal Forms, which you have access to in the 7th Gen’s postgame (after getting the Mega Keystone from Dexio): Desolate Wasteland/Primordial Sea are buffed versions of Drizzle/Drought: Not only is the weather permanent as long as they’re in battle but Water and Fire type moves will not work respectively.
  • Talonflame’s Hidden Ability Gale Wings would be Passive and likely haved to be buffed to now be active while above 50% health.
  • Pikachu is the official mascot for the brand so…yeah. It’s no secret Nintendo has been doing everything they can think of since the 1st Gen to make Pikachu seriously viable in competative battles. It started with the Light Ball introduced in the 2nd Gen, which doubles Pikachu’s Special Attack stat. Then Pikachu got Volt Tackle as a signature move starting in the 4th Gen, which inflicts MASSIVE recoil damage on top of it so if Pikachu goes first it likely won’t survive the exchange. Pikachu’s Ability is Static and its Hidden Ability is Lightning Rod, neither of which do the Mascot Pokemon any favors. Anyone facing a Pikachu will use a Ground Type to shut it down completely anyway. Iron Tail on Pikachu doesn’t do enough damage to scare away Rock/Ground types, let alone KO in one turn and Surf is more of a threat coming from Alolan Raichu. So, Pikachu would need Passive Ability that would make it viable in Competative Battles. At best it’s a glass cannon and at worst, it’s a waste of a slot. A Passive Ability that Negates it’s Ground-type weakness would be a plus as would a Primary Ability that can shore up its Defense. This is just to start. LOL.

…I think that’s enough for folks to get the idea. The point is it would add depth but still wouldn’t make the games too complicated for beginners.

Moving on, I also think it’s time to make the biggest change since the main series Pokemon games were introduced: Doubling the number of usable moves from 4 to 8. It’s time. The series has progressed enough to handle a change this drastic. How it could be done is having two sets of moves: Primary Moves and Support Moves. Primary Moves are offense used to attack or effect opposing pokemon. Support Moves are Defense, Healing and Buffs used to strengthen your Pokemon and/or team. In battle, you can pick a combination of both or two of the same category.

There are two restrictions, however. The first is you can’t pick the same move twice in the same turn unless Encore is in effect (Encore forces the opposing Pokemon to use the move it last used for the next 2 to 5 turns). The second restriction is you can’t two different moves that inflict a negative status. For example a Hyno using both Hypnosis and Poison Gas. You can only have one of them on a Pokemon at a time as it is so…yeah. Moves that have the chance to inflict a status condition like Sludge and Sacred Fire will still work of course.

I think of Pokemon that have deep movepools but are held back by the 4-move limit. Most Grass, Psychic, Bug, Normal and Water-Type Pokemon have large and deep movepools. Let’s look at the final evolutions of three Pokemon you would would often get early on in different gens with large movepools: Butterfree, Beedrill and Pikachu.

  • Butterfree takes about 2 hours to evolve in the 1st Gen but once evolved, you’re good until you evolve Abra into Kadabra and get Oddish (Red and Yell) or Bellsprout (Blue and Yellow) even if you started with Bulbasaur. Across all the Gens, Butterfree learns a combination of Grass and Psychic moves. It gains Bug Buzz in the 4th Gen but most of its moves and stats both suggest it’s not meant to be in your lineup once you can get something better. With my idea, it can open with Sleep Powder and use Psybeam in the same turn for example.
  • Beedrill’s movepool was sorely lacking until the 7th Gen. It now learns Twineedle upon evolving, making it an instant threat to Grass, Dark and Psychic Pokemon. Despite its Bug/Poison typing, Beedrill was the only Bug Pokemon that could take advantage of STAB (Same Type Attack Bonus) in the first Gen thanks to Twineedle and Pin Missile. This allowed it to go offensive against Psychic Pokemon. The irony is thanks to its typing and lacking stats, it’s a glass cannon. It doesn’t take much to take down Beedrill. With my idea, it can at least strike hard and fast before it’s taken down itself. It’s not the only Bug/Poison type but its stats make it super fragile so the change would make it a threat.
  • Pikachu’s movepool is almost entirely electric, rendering it useless vs. Ground types. It would probably need to be given a move that allows its Electric moves to hit Ground types ala Ash’s Pikachu. That aside, it would need signature moves to hide how fragile it really is.

 

Speaking of Moves. I think it’s time Hidden Power’s displayed type be shown once a Pokemon learns it. Yes, there is someone in the 6th and 7th gen who will tell you the type it will be but it would be much more straightforward to display the type once it’s been learned.

This is getting lengthy but I’m almost done.

Hints were dropped in the 6th Gen The Pokemon Company was moving away from HMs with the introduction of rideable Pokemon. In the 7th Gen, HMs and The Item Finder were rendered obsolete with the Ride Pager. It’s a safe bet the concept will not only return but be expanded on in the 8th Gen. We have yet to see Ride Pokemon for the moves Flash, Rock Climb, Waterfall or Whirlpool. There were no scalable walls, dark caves in Alola, nor were there any Whirlpools or Waterfall obsticles and I assume that was on purpose. Flash has been obsolete outside battles since the 5th Gen so…yeah.

In HeartGold/SoulSilver, the out of Poke Ball feature first introduced back in Yellow was brought back but for all Pokemon: The lead Pokemon will follow behind you in those games. Yes, even Pokemon that are not supposed to be able to move easily like Magikarp and Metapod.

My point is I would like to see a fusion of both: You can pick one to three Pokemon that is always outside its Poke Ball. Depending on the Pokemon, you can interact with it in different ways to overcome obsticles or even just to get around. The Lati Flute flight concept from AlphaSapphire/OmegaRuby is something I’d like to see brought back: Rather than just picking somewhere to fly to, you manually fly there on a Pokemon.

To provide a few more examples:

 

  • You can use a Pokemon that knows Explosion like Electrode or Forretress to blast away destructable walls and other obsticles. Since it’s out of battle, it doesn’t faint.
  • Using Flash inside a Cave forces a Wild Pokemon Battle but also lowers the Accuracy of the Pokemon you face.
  • Having certain Pokemon like Muk or Wheezing out of its Poke Ball will prevent you from encountering Wild Pokemon.

 

To take that third idea a step further, it’s time to change how Wild Pokemon Encounters play out again. SOS Encounters was a more drastic change than Wild Double Battles and Wild Swarm Battles introduced in the 6th Gen. I would only be ok with SOS Encounters making a return if you could send out a second Pokemon to back up the first. That and being able to use a Poke Ball even if there is more than one Wild Pokemon present.

My point is it’s time for the way Wild Pokemon Encounters happen to change even further than we’ve seen in the 6th and 7th Gens. Maybe even have a Wild Pokemon just want to join you when the battle begins without fighting you. Or Possibly even encounter a Pokemon that just doesn’t want to be caught and deliberately dodges or repels Poke Balls unless hit with a status ailment.

One more possability is if you have certain Pokemon, the opposing Pokemon behaves differently. I mean in general. A few examples:

  • When Zangoose and Seviper face off, their stats boost when fighting each other.
  • Most Wild Bug Pokemon flee when facing a strong Fire or Bird Pokemon.
  • Pokemon visibly react when facing a Pokemon it has a type disadvantage or significant level disadvantage against.
  • Koffing and Wheezing may explode when hit with a Fire-Type move, leaving it with 1HP but possibly taking out the opposing Pokemon.
  • Powder moves linger for a few turns and can effect Pokemon Switched in.
  • Using Earthquake in a Cave may trigger a cave-in somewhere or otherwise alter the interior.
  • Using Fire-type moves in tall grass may set the field on fire. After the battle, any wild Pokemon that were hiding nearby will be exposed.

I hope folks get the idea. Battles need to become more dynamic. This last one is a massive game changer.

One concept introduced back in the third Gen but was never expanded on is teaming up with NPC Trainers. I don’t just mean for story events but throughout the game. You could have a Trainers’ Club or Trainers’ Association and recruit trainers you encounter in the game to join you on your adventure. After you clear the main story, you are then able to recruit important trainers like Gym Leaders and the Elite Four.

The kind of trainer you recruit to join you offers different Perks and obviously will use certain Pokemon. They will also offer more help the stronger your bond with them grows.

For example:

  • Bug Catchers use Bug Pokemon in Battle. In time, they will offer to train your Bug Pokemon for you and even catch certain Bug Pokemon you have encountered before. Pokemon they catch will be sent to your box.
  • Fishers use Water Pokemon in Battle. In time, they will give you tips on rare Water Pokemon you can fish for and even offer to catch certain Water Pokemon you have encountered before. Pokemon they catch will be sent to your box.
  • Bug Catchers and Fishers will both also sell you Net Balls to catch Bug and Water Pokemon.
  • Doctors/Nurses use Pokemon that know recovery and support moves. They will sell you recovery items and offer to fully heal your Pokemon for you. In time, they will sell you powerful recovery items like Max Revive, which can’t be bought in stores.
  • Breeders use various Pokemon that evolve twice. They will offer services to help Pokemon that evolve via Happiness and quickly hatch Eggs. In time, they will offer to teach your Egg Moves you would normally have to Breed Pokemon for.
  • Hikers use Rock, Ground and Fighting Pokemon. When using Dig or an Escape Rope from within a Cave, they will offer to take you back to where you left off if you want. In time, they will offer to sell you items normally found on Wild Pokemon encountered in Caves.

 

These are a few examples. As a bonus, you will experience a boost in EXP and Prize Money when traveling with Pokemon. Unlike the 4th Gen, your team is not automatically healed after each battle unless you have a Doctor/Nurse with you. You can’t control your Ally Trainer’s Pokemon but you can influence what Pokemon they use: Once you’ve maxed your bond with an Ally Trainer, they will ask you which of their Pokemon you think they should use when you visit a Pokemon Center.

Ok that’s enough of this. This took me a week to put together. I can only dream some of these ideas happen!

Posted in Blog, Brendan Aurabolt, New Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS, Pokemon, Preview, Retro Gaming, Review, RPG, Serene Adventure, Video Games | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Fire Emblem Warriors (New Nintendo 3DS)

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…To say Fire Emblem Warriors was one of, if not the most anticipated Nintendo + Warriors Crossover game goes without saying. Of course, the only other is the smash hit Hyrule Warriors game. Fire Emblem Warriors holds the distinction of being the first non-port and non-remake game for the New Nintendo 3DS, which of course has backwards compatability with Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo DS games. It only took 2 years since the console’s release back in 2015!

Fire Emblem Warriors was also released on the Nintendo Switch but this review is for the version I own, the New Nintendo 3DS version. Aside from graphics, sound quality and controls, both versions are prettymuch identical just like Hyrule Warriors and Super Smash Bros. 3DS/Wii U. Henceforth I will refew to Fire Emblem Warriors as FE:W for the rest of this post.

FE:W boasts of roster of 33 characters including the 9 DLC-only characters, 6 of which have been released so far. The cast comes from four of the most recent Fire Emblem titles:

 

  • Fire Emblem Awakening (Nintendo 3DS): Chrom, Lissa, Frederick, Male Robin (Female Robin is unlockable in History Mode but is non-canon), Lucina (Masked and Unmasked variants available) and Cordelia. Owain, who appears as an NPC Ally in Story Mode is playable via DLC along with Tharja and Olivia. Validar, the Dark Priest of the Grimleal appears as a boss as well.
  • Fire Emblem Fates (Nintendo 3DS): Female Corrin (Male Corrin is Unlockable in History Mode but is non-canon), Ryoma, Hinoka, Takumi, Sakura, Xander, Camilla, Leo and Elise. Oboro and Niles, who appear as NPC Foes in Story Mode are playable DLC along with Azura (Her Costume from Conquest is available). Iago, Nohr’s chief strategist appears as a boss as well.
  • Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon (Nintendo DS): Marth, Caeda and Tiki. Navarre, who appears as an Ally NPC in Story Mode is playable via DLC along with Linde and Minerva. Gharnef, the Evil Sorcerer who plunged Archanea in war appears as a boss as well.
  • Fire Emblem Echoes Shadows of Valentia (Nintendo 3DS): Celica is unlockable after completing the History Mode map Together to the End.
  • Fire Emblem (Fire Emblem: The Blazing Sword in Japan; Game Boy Advance): Lyn is unlockable after completing the History Mode map Noble Lady of Caelin.

Anna, who has been a playable character in every Fire Emblem game since Awakening is an unlockable character but takes some time and effort: You will need to first complete an illustration and then completing a certain mission afterward. It takes time as well. This Anna, like the one in Fates is a Bow user just so you know. The other two playable characters are the Lords of FE:W, Rowan and Lianna. They both play the same way and use the same weapon type (Sword). Everyone else is unlocked by playing through Story Mode.

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As noted above, Male Robin and Female Corrin are Canon for the purposes of this game’s Story Mode. For those who never played Awakening or Fates, Robin/Corrin’s gender can be freely chosen by the player at the start of the game. The dialogue is slightly different depending on Robin/Corrin’s gender but in the games’ video cutscenes the gender isn’t directly referenced to keep it ambiguous. Even after you unlock Female Robin and Male Corrin and switch to them in Story Mode, it has been only coded for Female Corrin/Male Robin for the story content.

Those who played Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright and/or Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest knows the conflict between the Kingdoms of Nohr and Hoshido is the main story of both games with Corrin forced to chose one or the other. In the DLC-Only third campaign Revelations in which Corrin sides with neither Nohr or Hoshido, the royals of both games join forces. So, Xander and Ryoma joining forces in FE:W is technically canon.

I’ll give Intelligent Systems and Koei Techmo credit: They did a masterful job blending the mechanics from both Fire Emblem and the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors franchises. Yes, there is even Perma-Death (optional as of Awakening). Those who played the older Fire Emblem games know this but when a non-Lord character falls in battle, you lose them for good. When a Lord falls, it’s instant game over. As of Awakening, you can turn this mechanic off but I won’t digress further. My point is to the ire of most Fire Emblem vets, the franchise opened the series up to people new to the series. FE:W is no different despite the fact it is, to put it simply a Fire Emblem-themed Warriors game.

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The game is split into Story Mode and History Mode. In Story Mode, Aytolis’ Twin Royals Rowan and Lianna recruit Heroes from other worlds to help them save their kingdom and slay the Chaos Dragon. This is the second Fire Emblem title after Sacred Stones to feature twin protagonists and the third including Shadows of Valentia to feature two main Protagonists. The difference is there are no branching storylines like there are in the other two Fire Emblem games I just referenced. There actually is a split during the portion involving the Fates Cast spanning 6 chapters (3 for each side) but everyone gets together again after that. Darios, the Prince of the Gristonne assists the twins until a certain point in the storyline. I won’t say more than that for plot reasons but yes, he does become an enemy.

Clearing Story Mode at least once is required to unlock Lunatic Mode and that’s when things get real. You actually do need to complete Story Story Mode on every difficulty if you want to complete the Illustrations. This is in addition to clearing History Mode Scenarios.

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Even though they are not a part of story Mode Lyn, Celica, Anna and the DLC Characters (and the Female Robin/Male Corrin) do have Supports with the canon cast as well as each other. Every character has abilities that require you to get a Max Support with a specific character. Clearing some of the more challenging History Mode Maps does require you to level characters to 90+. Not just 1 to 4 but almost all of them in some cases: Some of the History Mode matches do have special restrictions such as Mounted Only or Bows Only. What this means is if you haven’t been leveling certain characters, your best bet is to grind some Story Mode Maps on Lunatic for Gold, then use that to Power Level underleveled characters.

Overall, I give Fire Emblem Warriors an 8/10.

It’s a solid, solid game and you can’t help but give props for striking a hard balance: it’s game those familiar with both Fire Emblem and the Warriors games will enjoy but doesn’t assume one is familiar with one or both games. I took two points off for two reasons: The first and biggest is physical copies of the game New Nintendo 3DS version may randomly glitch and crash while browsing menu screens. The problem does not exist in digital copies of the game, only physical copies. Nintendo has released patches with every DLC release to address this in problem as well as upgrade the game. The game doesn’t glitch and crash during battles but clearly a longterm fix is in order.

The other reason I took two points off is because of the fact all of the known DLC content was announced in advance and no new DLC content has been announced since. Anyone who’s been reading this blog for years should know I have a very favorable opinion of DLC when it makes sense. In the case of FE:W, more would make sense. A Shadows of Valenia Pack featuring Alm, Mycen and Nomah would be cool. So would a Path of Radiance Pack featuring Ike, Soren and Mist as well as a Radiant Dawn Pack featuring Micaiah, Sothe and The Black Knight. A Fire Emblem GBA Pack featuring Eliwood, Hector and Guy would also work. So would a Sacred Stones Pack featuring Erika, Ephraim and Lyon or Seth. They could all work.

That aside, I am holding out hope we may see a Fire Emblem Warriors II. Would be cool and as I just hinted, there are ALOT of characters and games who could be drawn from to fill out the cast. Spanning all the current Fire Emblem games…we’re talking over 600 characters. So, yeah. If it happens, we’re talking a who’s who playable characters!

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Review: Pokemon Ultra Sun and Pokemon Ultra Moon (Nintendo 3DS)

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…You gotta give credit to The Pokemon Company: They shared enough info to market the game but not too much before its release. As it turned out, Ultra Sun/Moon followed the Yellow/Crystal/Emerald/Platinum model in which it’s an enhanced of the base pair.

There is a twist, however: Ultra Sun/Moon are the first games in which a new Pokemon is introduced that wasn’t in the base games: Poipole and its evolution form Naganadel as well as the Ultra Beasts Stakata (Ultra Moon Only) and Blacephalon (Ultra Sun Only).

The storyline involving Lusamine and the Aether Insitute is different as well. In Sun/Moon, she was the main antagonist. In Ultra Sun/Moon it’s Necrozma, The Ultra Beasts and in the postgame  Team Rainbow Rocket. More on them in a bit. Of course there’s also Team Skull but it’s a bit more obvious this time that they’re not really bad.

Mina, the Trial Captain of Poni Poni Island makes a brief cameo appearance in Sun/Moon and give you Fairinium Z. In Ultra/Sun Moon, she has a larger role and her own trial as well. Araquanid replaces Whishiwashi in the Water Trial and WILL curb-stomp your whole team unless you bring in an overleveled Pokemon to deal with it. Togedemaru replaces Vikavolt and despite the 4x Weakness to Ground will take some effort to take down quickly.

Like I said in my review of Sun/Moon, I hate Totem Battles and the SOS Mechanic as a whole. I hate the fact that Heart Scales are tied to it along with several Wild Pokemon obviously. For those who don’t know, Heart Scales drop from Luvdisc and is needed to use the Move Relearner since its introduction in the 3rd Gen. The thing is, wild Pokemon don’t always have a hold item with them. AlphaSapphire/OmegaRuby at least had a means of forcing encounters with wild Pokemon with a hold item. Since Luvdisc will only appear as an SOS Pokemon, that needlessly makes Heart Scales rare in the 7th Gen.

Rant over, moving on.

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The games’ real big bad is of course, Team Rainbow Rocket. The 7th Gen’s introduction of other dimensions and multiple universes–and you can be sure this will be expanded upon–opens the door to bigger, longer and more games in the future. While it is true that there have been specific Pokemon whose lore involves other dimensions–most notably the Giratina and Palkia–Ultra Sun/Moon is the first game to take things to the next logical step and make a storyline focusing on it.

The Team Bosses from the previous gens all appear in the postgame Team Rainbow Rocket event. The tone is the same as OmegaRuby/AlphaSapphire’s Delta Episode. The cool thing about these bosses’ backstories: Each Team Boss comes from a “What if they succeeded?” world. Or more specifically, if the main protagonist wasn’t there to stop them. Colress from Black/White and Black 2/White 2, who makes a cameo appearance in Sun/Moon plays a significant role in the TRR Event. Each Team Boss has the cover legendary from their games. Cyrus has Dialga in Ultra Sun but Palkia in Ultra Moon. Lysandre has Xerneas in Ultra Sun but Yveltal in Ultra Moon. Ghestis has Zekrom in Ultra Sun but Reshiram in Ultra Moon. Finally, Giovanni’s Mewtwo will Mega Evolve into Mega Mewtwo X in Ultra Sun but Mega Mewtwo Y in Ultra Moon. This is the toughest string of battles yet and I strongly reccommend importing Level 100 Pokemon from Poke Bank or Sun/Moon if you can.

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Speaking of legendaries.

Like OmegaRuby/AlphaSapphire, you can catch ALL of them in Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon. The second and third pictures contain the version-exclusive ones. To get the third Pokemon, you will need to trade the Pokemon not in your game to yours and put both of them on your team (For example you need both Kyogre and Groudon to get Rayquayza).

This excludes Event-Only Pokemon now referred to as Mythical Pokemon. I’m talking about Mew (can be caught in the 1st Gen Red/Blue using a glitch during a certain point in the game), Celebi (You get a code for it if you buy Gold, Silver or Crystal from the eShop), Jirachi, Deoxys (can be caught in OmegaRuby/AlphaSapphire), Phione (must beed a Manaphy with Ditto for one), Manaphy, Darkrai, Shaymin (has an alternate form), Arceus, Keldeo (has an alternate form), Meloetta (has an alternate form), Genesect, Diancie (was given away via promo codes), Hoopa (was given away via promo codes, has an alternate form), Volcanion (never officially given away in the U.S.), Megearna (never officially given away in the U.S.), Marshadow and Zeraora (yet to be officially introduced worldwide).

Most of the Mythical Pokemon have had a limited releases, most notably during the the 20th Anniversary Pokemon giveaway in 2016. Each month, a legendary Pokemon or Mythical Pokemon was released via Mystery Gift.

As of the 6th Gen, the cover Legendary Pokemon are no longer the end-all powerhouses in battle they once were. I get they were nerfed to be fair to non-legends but prettymuch turning them into glass cannons? I shouldn’t have to worry about Groudon, Yveltal or Solgaleo being handled by a single Pokemon one on one. It should take the efforts of at least two Pokemon to take down ANY legendary Pokemon in my book. Mega Rayquayza will meet its match against Necrozma’s Ultra Form, Dusk Mane Solgaleo or Dawn Wing Lunala. For those who don’t know, Mega Rayquayza is considered the single most powerful Pokemon of the 6th Gen because of all the things it has going for it.

The nerf to Sandstorm, Snow Warning, Drizzle and Drought in the 5th Gen I get. For those who don’t know, Pokemon with one of those abilities would summon Sand/Storm, Rain or Sunlight for the rest of the battle. The moves were nerfed to only last for 5 turns with the exception of Primal Groudon/Kyogre (Sunlight/Rain lasts while said Pokemon is in the battle). Nerfing the weather mechanics was prettymuch necessary because of how integral the weather was for many in tournament strategies.
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For a limited time, you could get a special Rockruff via Mystery Gift. This Rockruff has the Own Tempo ability (blocks Confusion) and comes with Happy Hour, a move exclusive to Ultra Sun/Move that works the same as the Amulet Coin (increases payout from Trainer Battles). It can also only evolved into a special Dusk Lycanroc 5:00PM and 5:59PM. For the other two Lycanroc forms, you will need to import them from Sun or Moon. The promotion ended on January 10, 2018 so the only way to get this special Rockruff is to ask someone who got one to breed one for you.

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Overall, I give Pokemon Ultra Sun/Moon at 7/10.

Z-Moves being usable once per battle makes using them very situational just like Mega Evolution. Speaking of, I was angered and furious how 95% of the known Mega Stones were locked behind the postgame Battle Tree no one dones. I refuse to participate in such a luck-based mechanic where the competition can 2 or 3-hit KO whatever you send out. Not just in Ultra Sun/Moon but Sun/Moon, too. I just wished they didn’t prettymuch add Mega Evolution as an afterthought in the 7th Gen. It felt like “Oh wait we forgot about Mega Evolution, which such a big part of the 6th Gen games!” It’s a travesty and felt like they were basically saying they regretted introducing Mega Evolution. That’s just one point.

The increased difficulty of the games is why I took two points off. It’s very…hostile to those new the Pokemon games or anyone who hasn’t played past the 2nd Gen to now. Even to Vets, you’ll be impatiently waiting for the chance to use the Pokemon you imported from Poke Bank but can’t since it’ll be a while before you have access to a Pokemon Center for the first time.

It has been announced that Pokemon UltraSun and Pokemon UltraMoon will be the last main series Pokemon games getting released on the Nintendo 3DS. It’s still believed the remakes to Pokemon Diamond and Pearl will be released on the 3DS though. As for the 8th Gen, many think it will be released on the Nintendo Switch. I think it’s more likely they will be New Nintendo 3DS exclusive like Fire Emblem Warriors though. The 7th Gen games had increased functionality when used with a New Nintendo 3DS ala Super Smash Bros. 3DS.

Speaking of Fire Emblem Warriors…yep, that review is coming up next ^_^

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World Health Organization formally issues guidelines for Gaming Addiction

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…Let’s be transparent: There are those who proritize their gaming habits to unhealthy levels, no pun intended. We’ve always known this. The fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially issued guidelines for Gaming Addiction speaks to how serious the problem has become worldwide in recent years. While the linked article admits it only effects a small number of people and is limited to only certain areas of the world, the data and headlines exist to back up the need for this.

Swatting, which is exclusively associated with online gaming is the act of someone calling law enforcement on someone not in their area. The caller gives dispatch a fictional story in which the victim is or is about to put the lives of others in the house in imminent danger to get police to go to their home in force, weapons drawn. Last month, a young man who was the victim was Swatting was killed by law enforcement. For those who are wondering there was no way for Law Enforcement to know in advance the man who they killed was a Swatting victim. That’s a chance they just can’t take regardless so…yeah. Not excusing what went down, mind you.

That aside, there are PLENTY of stories worldwide in which one’s gaming habits have lead to the death of the gamer. That’s what these new guidelines are about. Gaming addiction is NO JOKE. The gaming community prefers to ignore the obvious warning signs or brush off those who make the news as “extreme examples”. The Gaming Industry does advise taking breaks and limiting playing time per day but of course, most gamers prefer to ignore the warnings.

On that note, I want to remind folks of something I’ve said more than a few times: The Gaming Industry cares about profits first and everything else second. They’re not different from anyone else in that regard and it is EXTREMELY important that folks keep this in mind. We were lucky retired Senator Joseph Lieberman didn’t get his way 20 years ago when he called for strict regulations on video games. He has been an outspoken critic of video games, pointing to what we brushed off as “isolated incidents” as reasons for it. The media is not on our side either given with every story involving a video gamr, they always use stock footage of gamers playing violent video games. This is being done on purpose of course. Timing sucks given gaming is now mainstream but…yeah.

I know how I’m starting to sound to my fellow gamers so I’ll end with this: We can no longer be silent about this. We need to stand up and voice ourselves. Gaming Addiction IS real even if it only effects a small amount of people. Like other kinds of addiction, the first step is acknowledging there is a problem. When your gaming habits consistently or drastically impacts your quality of life, some changes need to be made. Yes, I know how I’m sounding.

I posted this on THIS blog to make a statement.

One other thing.

I was planning to make this a separate post but I have decided to step up and say this here instead. Over the last 3 months, I have sold 5 of my game systems: My Xbox 360, PS3, Wii and both of my PS Vitas. I sold all the games for all of those consoles as well. That leaves me with my PS4, Wii U and both of my New 3DS consoles. I sold a third of my physical 3DS games for the same reason as well. I do plan repurchase a PS3 and 2 Vitas once I am financially stable again though. Same with about half of the 3DS games I sold. Oh and yes, I kept both of the 64GB Vita Memory Cards I bought via Amazon.

My reasons for selling most of the video games I had were for money and a large change in priorities. This is also why I hadn’t posted any game reviews in several months. That and I have been focusing on actually getting through my (MASSIVE) backlog of video games. The last 2 games I bought…were Pokemon UltraSun and Fire Emblem Warriors, both in December. That will have to be it until I have income. That and the change in my priorities like I said before.

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