One Month With My Nintendo Switch

One Month With My Nintendo Switch

I’m almost embarrassed to say that I wasn’t initially a believer in the Nintendo Switch. Rumors of Nintendo’s Wii U follow up being a console/handheld hybrid had been circulating for years before the official announcement, but I was never really too keen on merging those ecosystems.

All of that changed when the Switch was formally revealed, and doubly so when I finally got my hands on one about a month ago. Just to get this out of the way, I am over the moon in love with this system. It takes what worked about the Wii U, 3ds and even the Vita, fixes what they got wrong and wraps it all together in a sleek and stylish little tablet.

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One of the biggest compliments I can give the Switch is just how great it is to use. It’s the most elegantly designed system Nintendo has ever produced, and strips away pretty much all of the clutter that occupied the home screens of the Wii U and 3ds.

There’s no Mii Plaza, no augmented reality mini-games, and no confusing menus to sift through. Outside of your games library, the only options you’ll see on the Switch’s home screen are the eShop, standard system settings, screenshots, power options and the featured news tab.

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The Switch has gotten a bit of criticism for the lack of applications such as Netflix, Youtube and a web browser. But as someone who has plenty of other devices to fulfill these needs, I couldn’t care in the slightest.

My Playstation 4 is loaded up with Netflix, Crunchyroll, Funimation and Youtube for all of my home entertainment needs, not to mention the fact that it can play my Blu-Rays. If I really need to watch something on the go, I’ve got a laptop and a great smartphone. The only thing I care about doing on my Switch is playing games, nothing more, nothing less.

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Having only been out for about 6 months at the time of this writing, the Switch already has quite the impressive library. The system launched with Breath of the Wild, which set the bar pretty high, but there’s also Mario Kart, Splatoon, Arms and Mario + Rabbids. Not to mention the fact that Super Mario Odyssey is roughly two weeks away.

Beyond the great roster of first party titles, the Switch has also taken the Vita’s role in being a happy little home for indie games. Stand out titles include Fast RMX, Golf Story, Stardew Valley and Axiom Verge, and these titles and many more show just how tight Nintendo has become with indie developers.

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So the Switch has great hardware and great games, but what about the controllers? Well, I’m happy to say that each of them gets equally high marks. While I still do think that both the Joycons and the pro controller are overpriced, they are all really comfortable to handle.

The pro controller feels almost as good as the controllers for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, and has a fantastic battery life to boot. And whether you’re playing with the single or dual Joycons, both iterations feel fairly comfortable in your hands for games like Mario Kart and Snipperclips.

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In the month that I’ve spent with the Switch, I’ve noticed myself playing games in a number of ways. I’ll play games like Splatoon 2 and Golf Story predominantly in handheld mode, while Fast RMX gets played exclusively docked. Other titles like Breath of the Wild are 50/50, and sometimes I’ll even pop out the kickstand to play with the Joycons detached.

I’ve always had kind of a weird things with accessories and cases when it comes to handheld systems, and the Switch is no different. I’ve already invested in tempered glass, a set of blue Joycons, a dock sock, and I plan on eventually getting one of the premium Waterfield City Slicker carrying cases.

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I love almost everything about the Switch, but there are a few things that still bug me. For starters, the system really needs a method for backing up save data. Cloud saves should be a standard in 2017, and it’s kind of a bummer to see Nintendo behind the times in this regard.

Secondly, I’m really hoping for Nintendo to finally adopt unified accounts and purchases across the board this time around. I really want to go mostly digital for my Switch games, but their current system makes me gun shy about doing so.

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The few complaints I have aside, I believe the Switch is well worth its asking price. It delivers on the promise of seamlessly switching between handheld and home console mode, and I really feel that it’s going to cause a resurgence in couch multiplayer. If the Switch continues to receive the support it did in 2017, it’s going to have a very long and successful life cycle.

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Reviewing Games From Different Perspectives: The Expert And The Newcomer

Reviewing Games From Different Perspectives: The Expert And The Newcomer

Reviewing games is a profession that, while having a few generally accepted rules and guidelines, isn’t really an exact science. Compared to books and movies, games are an interactive form of entertainment, meaning different skill levels can leave players with wildly different experiences.

Every so often, a question arises: should reviewers be well versed in the franchise or genre that they are playing? For the longest time, my answer was yes, but thinking about the subject a bit differently has given me a new perspective.

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There are advantages and disadvantages alike to having a game reviewed by an expert and a newcomer, and I hope to shed some light on these differences here today.

The experienced player’s greatest advantage is being able to give an authoritative and informative analysis on their game of choice. They can go into minute and nerdy detail about the inner workings of a game, how it compares to previous entries in the genre or series, as well as what new mechanics it brings to the table.

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A problem that can sometimes occur in this situation is a reviewer being almost too comfortable with a game. An example would be my review of Sonic Mania. I’m extremely knowledgable about the classic Sonic games, as well as the history of the developers. As such, I didn’t really consider how approachable the game is to someone who has never touched a classic Sonic the Hedgehog sidescroller.

The ability to give a fresh opinion is the biggest advantage of the reviewer who doesn’t have much history with any given genre or series. Since they are playing it for the first time, they’ll be able to gauge just well the game communicates its mechanics, and how easy it is to pick up and play.

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This reviewer’s disadvantage is that they may not be clued into some of the game’s finer points. They won’t be able to give a definitive overview of how true said game is to the genre’s tropes, and could end up giving a title a low score because of this.

As someone who reviews games from time to time, this situation can definitely be conflicting. The style of review I enjoy writing requires me to be at least somewhat familiar with the game I’m looking at, meaning I haven’t really reviewed anything outside of my wheelhouse.

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Most of what I’ve reviewed are platformers or action adventure games, two genres that I know very well. I’d have no problem reviewing games like Sonic Mania, Cuphead or Uncharted because I have no doubt that I’d be able to provide an informative opinion.

Having said that, I wouldn’t feel comfortable reviewing something like Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite. I could play the game and give some semblance of an opinion, but I would feel much better about doing so if I had a more astute knowledge of fighting game mechanics.

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Like most things in life, this is a question without a real answer, as it all boils down to perspective. Do you want just a quick idea about the game, with maybe a few bullet points to cap off the review, or do you want to see somebody really dive in and size it up from top to bottom? Luckily, the internet has resources for both styles of game reviews, but it is up to the viewer to seek out a personality they really connect with.

My 12 Favorite Games Of All Time: ‘Persona 4 Golden’

My 12 Favorite Games Of All Time: ‘Persona 4 Golden’

When I originally bought my Playstation Vita back in 2015,  I was already well aware of many of the most highly recommended games. Danganronpa, Freedom Wars and Dragon’s Crown were amongst their ranks, but no game had higher praise than Persona 4 Golden.

Before I first played Persona 4 Golden, my experience with the franchise was extremely limited. I remember seeing gameplay clips of Persona 3 on G4’s X-Play back in the day, and beyond, that my only experience with the games was from two of my best friends.

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They had both become huge fans of Persona 4 in the few years prior, with one of them also falling in love with Persona 3. As such, I had a fairly decent overview of what the Persona games were all about. I would often listen to them gush about how great the games were, or even watch them play through bits of it. Fast forward to a PSN flash sale in 2015, and I’m suddenly playing Persona 4 Golden for myself.

It actually took me quite a few hours to really get into the game. The opening felt a bit too lengthy for me at the time, but in retrospect, I know that this was a necessary step. It does a great job of setting up the story, world and characters, so that the main narrative doesn’t have to waste time once it gets going.

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I can’t exactly remember at what point in the game things finally started to click for me, but I do remember being absolutely enamored with just about everything it had to offer. Persona 4 Golden is equal parts dungeon crawling, turn based jrpg, and high school life simulator. At times you’ll be grinding shadows to prepare for the next boss encounter, while at others you’ll be getting in one more study session before your exams.

What makes Persona 4 Golden so special is that both halves of the game are engaging. The combat system is a fairly standard turn based affair, with the key to victory being exploiting enemy weak points. The variety comes in the form of choosing which Personas you take into battle, as well as being able to adapt to different situations on the fly.

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Many people would argue that the high school life is the best part of the game. I already mentioned studying for exams, and I couldn’t be more serious about that. Persona 4 Golden made me stress about getting good grades more than I ever have in real life. Outside of academics, you can also take part in extracurricular school activities, and develop your bonds with your friends.

Persona 4 Golden has a mechanic known as social links. Essentially, there are a number of characters that you can form a special bond with in the game, and take part in their personal story arc, and doing so with your party members actually helps with their skills in combat.

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Persona 4 Golden has a really strong narrative, but what makes me truly love the game is the cast of characters, more specifically, your party members. Yosuke, Chie, Yukiko, Rise, Naoto, Kanji and Teddie, these people didn’t feel like just video game characters to me, they felt like genuine friends.

None of them are trope-y, one note or stereotypical, they are each fully fleshed out people, each with their own dreams and sets of problems. On the surface, Yosuke feels like just a comic relief character, but he actually deals with serious issues of guilt and self doubt. Another example would be pop idol Rise, who struggles with the realities of being a celebrity. Examples like this can be given for every character, making them much more endearing and relatable.

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It’s rare that video games make me feel anything other than just the sensation of having fun, but Persona 4 Golden managed to do just that, and on multiple occasions. Hanging out at Junes with my friends was super familiar and comforting.  Going on a vacation to a ski resort, and getting snowed in with my girlfriend Chie was strangely romantic, and I adored checking in on Nanako and Dojima.

One moment that will always stick with me is Persona 4 Golden’s Inaba culture festival. As I stood with my friends and watched the fireworks illuminate the night sky, a feeling of profound sadness washed over me. I should’ve been overjoyed to be sharing such a special moment with these people, but I finally realized that my time with them would soon come to an end.

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I didn’t want to leave Inaba. I didn’t want to stop living with Nanako and Dojima. I didn’t want to stop making memories with my friends on the Investigation Team. Even as I inched closer and closer to the final boss, I just wanted time to stop so that I could enjoy my days with the people important to me.

It’s those types of moments that make Persona 4 Golden so special to me. No other game has given me the same warm feelings that this game has, and that sentiment rings especially true for the happy moments. Another one of these would be getting to visit Inaba just a few months after moving back home. 

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It was a nice surprise to see how much the crew had changed. They were still recognizable as my friends, but each of them had attained a new level of maturity and personal growth. Whether it be Naoto embracing her femininity, or Yosuke gaining the confidence to carry on, I was extremely proud of each and every one of my friends.


Just thinking about Persona 4 Golden makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Even the game’s rural setting gives me a strange sense of comfort and familiarity, and I always find myself having flashbacks to specific moments that happened in the different locales. Not only is Persona 4 Golden one of my favorite games of all time, but it is one of the best experiences I’ve had in entertainment, period.

Shantae: Half Genie Hero: Pirate Queen’s Quest’, Risky Waters

Shantae: Half Genie Hero: Pirate Queen’s Quest’, Risky Waters

Last year’s Shantae: Half Genie Hero was a fantastic little adventure (and felt especially great on the Vita). It had fun puzzles and platforming challenges, tons of collectibles and a myriad of cool power ups, not to mention a really funny story. Pirate Queen’s Quest is a downloadable expansion to the original game, one that puts players in the role of Shantae’s swashbuckling rival, Captain Risky Boots.

Pirate Queen’s Quest shows us what Risky was up to during the events of Half Genie Hero. Her goal is to complete an invention known as the Dynamo, a device that will allow her to open a portal to the genie realm. To this end, Risky and her crew are on the hunt for five special components.

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It is important to remember that Pirate Queen’s Quest isn’t a totally new game, rather, it is a very familiar romp, but with a new pair of boots. Risky visits largely the same areas as Shantae did in Half Genie Hero, right down to the boss encounters. The major difference comes in the form of Risky’s pirate tools, new level gimmicks and new collectibles.

Risky lacks Shantae’s animal transformations and magic skills (as well as her sweet dance moves). She instead has access to a number of pirate weapons. Risky starts her adventure with a scimitar and three firearms, namely, a pistol, a homing rocket launcher and another pistol that has a spread shot.

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Risky eventually gains access to a pirate hat that allows her to glide, a cannon that gives her additional jumps, a grappling hook that can be used to reach higher places, and an orb that permits underwater travel. Having such a rich array of tools at your disposal means that Pirate Queen’s Quest scratches that same Metroidvania esque itch that Half Genie Hero did. Revisiting older levels to discover new routes rarely gets old if done correctly, and this expansion nails it.

Risky also has a different method of upgrading her abilities. Instead of buying upgrades from the shop using gems collected in the stages, Risky can only level up using dark magic orbs found in treasure chests. Because of this, defeated enemies drop firearm ammunition instead of currency (they still drops hearts as well).

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At first I didn’t like this approach to upgrades, but I gradually grew to appreciate how it further incentivised exploration and revisiting old levels. Risky’s pirate tools are just as fun to use as Shantae’s transformations, if not more so. They avoid the issue of having one skill feel too similar to another, as each tool serves a different purpose. Additionally, each tool is assigned to a specific button, meaning you don’t have to stop and toggle through item wheels (though I personally never found this to be an issue in the original game).

The majority of the levels are extremely similar to the way they were in Half Genie Hero, meaning the adventure will feel very familiar to fans of the original game. In order to spice things up, developer WayForward introduced a new level gimmick that takes advantage of Risky’s new moves, and tests player’s reflexes and timing.

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Each level has these grey, floating eyeballs that usually spawn a purple platform upon being hit. Other times however, they will change the terrain of a particular level, an example being the sand platforms in Tassel Town. The game occasionally throws floating rings into the mix as well, which Risky can latch onto with her grappling hook.

Pirate Queen’s Quest strips Half Genie Hero down to its bare essentials. The story, while present, is sparse when compared to the original game, and the hub town has been entirely omitted. When you aren’t in the levels or on the world map, you’re lounging in the captain’s cabin, with the only available options being travel, saving your game or asking for a hint towards progression.

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There are less cutscenes in Pirate Queen’s Quest, but they are just as well written. Risky’s snide remarks about her Tinkerbat minions got a few chuckles out of me, and I loved the various explanations for why she is fighting the exact same bosses as Shantae. In particular, the cutscene following the Tassel Town’s boss was really clever and unexpected.

Folks looking for an entirely new adventure will be let down by Pirate Queen’s Quest, but that also isn’t what the game promised. Rather, it aimed to provide a similar experience, but with new tricks and approaches to level traversal. As someone who loves doing basically the same thing with classic Sonic games, Pirate Queen’s Quest was a great time for me.

 

A Word On Video Game Trophies And Achievements

A Word On Video Game Trophies And Achievements

Note: For the sake of clarity, and because I’m a Playstation gamer, I’m going to be using trophies in place of repeatedly saying both trophies and achievements for the bulk of this piece.

It’s kind of crazy to think just how much trophies and achievements have grown since their inception. What started as a simple, but innovative extension of normal gameplay has evolved to feature entire communities regarding the system, with some of the more notable ones being Achievement Hunter and PSN Profiles.

As the trophy and achievement ecosystem has grown, so too has the line that divides those that love them, and those that could care less. Because this is the internet, I think I deserve to give my two cents on the subject.

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So what exactly are trophies? In short, they are virtual rewards for completing some sort of game specific objective. Examples can range from something as mundane as completing the tutorial, all the way to defeating a game’s final boss. A fairly simple concept, one would think, so how could something so seemingly harmless possibly be divisive?

Various trophy and achievement driven communities have cultivated over the years, leading to the creation of people that are known as trophy hunters. These are people that love collecting trophies, and have a small sense of pride when it comes to the task.

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On the other side, there are people who actively hate the entire system, and I’ve personally never really understood the vitriol. My stance has always been this: trophies are there for the people that want them, and you can just ignore them if you don’t care. In fact, the consoles even allow you to completely disable trophy notifications.

The primary reasoning I’ve seen these people give is the fact that they’ve seen others behave rather obnoxiously when it comes to comparing trophies, something I jokingly do with my friends. I’ll give them a good ribbing when I find that I’ve earned more trophies than them in a game, all while casually ignoring the ones they’ve beaten me in.

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There are hunters out there that do take the hobby a bit too seriously, and genuinely mock those with low trophy levels and gamerscores, but I’ve seen less and less of these people in recent years. Just because you love collecting platinum trophies, doesn’t mean you can insult someone for not having any, nor should trophy hunters be disparaged for loving them.

Because trophies and achievements are entirely optional, I don’t think they should really detract from a game’s overall experience. However, I’ve found that a really good trophy list can actually add to a game’s enjoyment.

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A great personal example is Infamous: First Light (best Infamous game by the way). I adore that game’s challenge rooms, and going after the related trophies made me really appreciate just how finely crafted that game is. Most of the Ratchet & Clank games also have really great lists, with many of them asking for 100 percent completion, with a few jokes sprinkled in for good measure.

A good trophy list can also ask you to play the game in interesting ways. Earlier this year, I obtained the platinum trophy for Shantae: Half Genie Hero, and two of the trophies involved speed running the game. If it weren’t for those trophies, I’m certain that I would never have attempted a speed run, but doing so gave me quite a bit of knowledge on some of the game’s finer tricks and nuances.

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Sadly, most trophy lists are bad. Many of them are generic afterthoughts (complete chapter 1, get your first kill etc.), or just really uninspired (most of the Uncharted games, sadly). Even worse is when a game has hidden trophies with cryptic or unintuitive requirements. Trophies, even hidden ones, should be possible to unlock by playing organically, not going through oddly specific situations.

I know I said that trophies should never negatively influence your perspective on a game, but it is rather disappointing when developers clearly don’t put in the effort to make an interesting list, especially with how big the communities around these collectibles have gotten.

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A good list doesn’t even have to be one that is challenging or engaging. There have been a handful of games that have opted for humorous and meta trophies, as opposed to serious ones. Portal 2 is probably the best example, with many of the trophies being pretty oblivious to the fourth wall. Undertale is a great recent example, as it turns the simple task of picking up items into a sort of running gag.

Almost as much as I love collecting trophies, I love looking at my friends’ collections. I often compare my list to those of my PSN friends, and I use them to gauge what they are playing, how much they enjoy a particular game, or how much progress they’ve made in the story.

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Trophies and achievements are there for the people that want them, and can easily be ignored by people that don’t. There are a few developers out there that genuinely do try to create interesting trophy lists, something I wish many more would attempt. Much like any community of like minded individuals, the trophy community is often a really fun and inviting place to be.

I love trophies, short and simple. They’ve challenged me to play games in ways that I wouldn’t have otherwise, and have given me added enjoyment with numerous titles. I consider myself a proud trophy hunter (though my platinum collection is paltry compared to many others), and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Game Review: ‘Uncharted: The Lost Legacy’, Fight For Fortune

Game Review: ‘Uncharted: The Lost Legacy’, Fight For Fortune

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was the final chapter in the journey of Nathan Drake. Nate may be retired, but that doesn’t mean the treasure hunting world is any less active. The Uncharted franchise is rife with hidden treasures to be discovered, interesting locales to explore and most importantly, cool characters to follow.

The Lost Legacy started life as a downloadable expansion for Uncharted 4, but quickly evolved into a full fledged retail release due to Naughty Dog’s ambitions. Having said that, the game doesn’t feel like any less of an Uncharted game than the previous entries, but it doesn’t often aim to be anything different.

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Uncharted: The Lost Legacy follows the unlikely duo of Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross as they attempt to uncover an ancient Indian treasure. These two women are fairly different, with Chloe being much more similar to Nathan Drake himself, while Nadine is a pretty forward thinking person, with an almost trademark short temper.

Lost Legacy’s story does attempt to draw a few parallels between the pair, the biggest example being their family issues and sense of responsibility. However, their relationship isn’t always told so gracefully. Chloe and Nadine don’t have any sort of established friendship, so they don’t quite have the chemistry of say, Nate and Sully.

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I feel that Naughty Dog was attempting to give them a more professional relationship that eventually turns into something more genuine, and in that aspect, they succeeded. But for most of the adventure, you won’t really find the type of dialogue that is more typical of an Uncharted (no shortage of quippy remarks though).

Chloe in particular really shines in The Lost Legacy. Previous games have built her up as the sort of woman that just does things for financial gain (plus the perk of traveling the world), but her journey in this game is a much more personal one, which made me care just a bit more about the overall narrative.

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In many ways, The Lost Legacy reminds me of the first Uncharted game, Drake’s Fortune. Each of the Uncharted sequels took Nate and co. on globetrotting adventures, while the original game focused on one island. Lost Legacy does the same thing. There is only one central island, but there is plenty to see and do. There are various areas on the map that can be explored for story progression, treasures and an optional side quest that unlocks a really useful trinket.

One chapter of the game takes place on a wide open map, similar to Uncharted 4’s driving sections. For me, this was the weakest and most boring part of the game. The area isn’t huge, and you’re given a map to help, but it had a level of nonlinearity that I don’t expect from this series. I appreciate the team wanting to make a more open ended Uncharted, but it didn’t quite resonate with me.

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Puzzles in The Lost Legacy aren’t ever too brain taxing. For the most part, they are simple affairs that ask you to form an image out of jumbled pieces, or turn dials and switches in a certain order. But there is one really cool puzzle that requires the movement of one set of statues, in order to form two distinct pictures, and I found this one to be the most challenging, but also the most fun.

Uncharted has never had really deep shooting mechanics (though I do think they are better than most people give them credit for), but the games have always done a great job of masking this by putting you in unique and challenging situations. If you simply hide behind cover and shoot the entire time, you’ll probably end up dying quite a bit.

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Constant movement is the name of the game. Most environments give you plenty of cover options on the battlefield, meaning you should always be finding new spots to take out enemies, stock up on ammo, and gain better vantage points. The Lost Legacy also borrows the stealth and enemy tagging features from Uncharted 4, making stealth a highly viable option.

Another way in which The Lost Legacy keeps you moving is the set pieces. There are only a handful in the game, but each of them is fun and engaging. The best set piece by far comes at the end of the game, so I won’t spoil it here. However, I will say that I believe it is one of the best in the entire series.

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Uncharted: The Lost Legacy isn’t a new generation of Uncharted, nor is it attempting to be. Plain and simple, it is more Uncharted. It takes the foundation and mechanics of the previous game, and gives us a new story. But more of the same isn’t always a bad thing, especially when you remember that this is one of the most critically acclaimed franchises in modern gaming.

The Lost Legacy is a game for Uncharted faithfuls. It lets us explore the world of Uncharted in the boots of a fan favorite character, and a much welcomed newcomer. The game rarely does anything new or exciting, but I still had fun experiencing an Uncharted “side story”, and I’m definitely open to more of these games with different characters.

 

My 12 Favorite Games Of All Time: ‘Pokemon Emerald’

My 12 Favorite Games Of All Time: ‘Pokemon Emerald’

This was easily the hardest entry to select for this countdown. I’ve loved the Pokemon series ever since I was a kid, but I’ve always had a hard time deciding what is the overall best game, let alone which one is my favorite. But whenever I toss and turn thinking about what Pokemon game is the most important to me, always land on Pokemon Emerald.

I technically didn’t start playing Pokemon until Pokemon Crystal, the third game in the franchise’s second generation. I was aware of Pokemon before I played Crystal, as I loved the anime and had briefly played the first generation at a friend’s house. I’ll never forget booting up Crystal for the first time, naming my rookie trainer, and starting my first journey through the Johto region with my Cyndaquil.

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So why Pokemon Emerald? It wasn’t my first game, and though I do think it is one of the best Pokemon games, I don’t think it is the absolute greatest (an honor that probably goes to Pokemon Black and White 2). The answer to that, I think, is the fact that Generation III, and Pokemon Emerald specifically, is where I became a genuine Pokemon fanatic.

Pokemon Emerald was elementary school for me, and being that I was the prime target demographic for the series, I was constantly exposed to everything Pokemon. If I wasn’t playing the games, I was watching Ash and Pikachu’s adventures in Hoenn and the Battle Frontier, reading the novelizations of anime episodes, studying my Scholastic Trainer Handbook or desperately wishing for one of the toy Pokedexes.

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Beyond my nostalgia for the time and place that I played Pokemon Emerald, I also think it’s just an amazing Pokemon experience. The Hoenn region is one of the most divisive ones in the entire series, but I personally love it. I’m a huge sucker for tropical aesthetics, and it’s a huge part of why I love films like Lilo & Stitch and Moana, as well as the sounds of island music, with a few trumpets for good measure.

The Hoenn region was able to convey the sense of exploring an island that was completely unique from Kanto and Johto. This was even exemplified by the designs of Brendan and May (the best Pokemon girl). Much like their Generation II counterparts, the Generation III duo are wearing outfits that look much more appropriate for going on an adventure.

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Generation III is notable for being a drastic shift in the Pokemon franchise. It was the first one to not be directly connected to the previous games, and the general art style changed to be a bit more exaggerated and cartoony. Generation III also introduced a number of new mechanics, with two of the more notable ones being double battles and Pokemon abilities.

Similar to Link’s Awakening, Pokemon Emerald is a game that I spent a lot of time exploring. I would spend hours scouring the region for stronger trainers to battle, new Pokemon to catch, and more the ever elusive Legendary Pokemon encounters. Speaking of which, Generation III introduced quite a few of my favorite Pokemon designs. Grovyle, Swampert, Torkoal, Manectric, Snorunt, Poochyena, I could go on and on just listing them out.

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Pokemon Emerald was also the first game to introduce the Battle Frontier. I remember thinking that the Battle Frontier was the coolest thing ever, and it didn’t help that the anime based on the area is one of my favorite Pokemon shows. When you do enough exploring, your team is eventually going to be able to effortlessly defeat even the Hoenn Champion. But the Battle Frontier provided a much greater challenge.

Each of the facilities caps your levels, and this forced me to think more critically about my movesets and team combinations. In addition, different rulesets were employed at each area. One facility forces you to battle using a selection of rental Pokemon, while another places you in a tournament against several other trainers.

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Pokemon Emerald is my favorite Pokemon game to be sure, but it also reminds me of a time that was incredibly important to me. I’ve had a lot of cool experiences because of this franchise, and that statement extends to pretty much every generation. Pokemon is a series that brings people together and makes them happy, and I’m glad that it has been a part of my life.