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Pokémon Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary!

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Pokémon, the worldwide phenomenon, turns 25 this year. Feeling old yet? For some, the thought of Pokémon conjures up some nostalgia as they think back to their childhood. For many others, the thought has them reaching for their phone to play the mobile game. To celebrate its birthday, the Pokémon company promises all kinds of fun for 2021. From the trading cards to Pokémon GO, let’s unpack the pocket monster craze and see what’s in store for the birthday celebration.

Pokémon Trading Cards

Pokémon hit America by storm in ’96 and kids everywhere couldn’t get enough. Forget about Pogs, no one cared about Beanie Babies anymore. Everyone wanted Pokémon cards. Like Magic the Gathering, Pokémon TCG is a turn-based game where you stacked your monsters up against the other players. For many, it was much more about collecting than actually playing. The crown jewel of the Pokémon TCG was the First Edition holographic Charizard. Stories of people selling their holo Charizard today for thousands of dollars have collectors calling their mom to dig through the attic.

TV Show

If you were a fan of Pokémon in the 90s, you are no doubt singing the theme song in your head. The anime followed young Ash Ketchum and his Pokémon, Pikachu as they travelled across the land, making friends, catching Pokémon, and battling trainers – trying to become the very best like no one ever was. The show introduced fans to Team Rocket, the regular villains of the series who wanted to use Pokémon for nefarious purposes.

Pokémon on Gameboy

How far games have come since the original Pokémon video games were released. Pokémon Red and Blue released in tandem for the Gameboy in 1996. A brilliant marketing ploy – Game freak released two nearly identical games to the public. The gameplay was the same, except that players needed to play both games to get all 150 original Pokémon. Sure, you could trade with your friends to complete your PokéDex, but most kids just begged mom for both. Remember Mew? Mew was the legendary 151st Pokémon. Game freak built-in code for this Pokémon, but never gave fans an official way to see or catch it. There were rumors that Mew was hidden under a truck by the SS. Anne, but that was bogus. Bust out your Gameshark and enter the cheat code if you wanted a full PokéDex.

Red and Blue have seen many sequels, and the franchise has evolved (no pun intended) with better graphics and more Pokémon. There are now over 800 unique Pokémon that you can catch in the latest games: Pokémon Sword and Shield.

Pokémon Go

In 2016, Pokémon got an adrenaline shot and thrusted back into the mainstream with Pokémon Go. The mobile game lets players use the real-world GPS on their phone to walk around and catch Pokémon using augmented reality technology. Just like the card game or Gameboy, the goal is of course to Catch ‘Em All. Players can team up to take down strong monsters or trade to get what they need. The game is regularly changing and adding new features. Various events like Community Days encourage players to meet up and play together. The game is made so that kids (and adults) can go outside and get some exercise – you have to walk around to find Pokémon, but with COVID-19, adjustments were made so that people can play safely from home.

What’s in Store for 2021

Katy Perry

Pokémon announced that they will be releasing Pokémon themed music throughout the year. Their first collaborator: Katy Perry! More artists are lined up to be announced throughout the year.

Merch

Pokémon promises a rollout of cool merchandise. They teamed up with Bear Walker to release Pokémon skateboards. McDonalds will have Pokémon toys in their Happy Meals. New Trading Cards will be available all year. Build-A-Bear will have your favorite Pokémon available to build and take home.

Games

Another favorite game, Pokémon Snap is getting an overhaul. The reboot displays shiny new graphics and will be released in April of this year.

Pokémon Go is celebrating the original 151 Pokémon with their Kanto Event. The mobile game will highlight the original characters from the red and blue Gameboy games.

Diamond and Pearl?

Rumors are flying around about an announcement that will be made later this month. Fans are speculating that it will be a reboot of the Diamond and Pearl installments of the Gameboy games. Nothing has been confirmed yet.

Pokémon promises all this and more for their 25th anniversary. Whether you haven’t played Pokémon since middle school, or you have kids that play – or you haven’t stopped playing all this time, 2021 is sure to be a nostalgia packed year for fans all over.

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I Played Pokémon Snap All Weekend

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Fans of the Pokémon franchise have eagerly awaited the release of Pokémon Snap since it was announced last year. The reboot was among a whole list of additions to the franchise during their 25th anniversary year. Finally, the game arrived this past Friday (or Thursday night for the real gamers), and the wait is over. After spending the weekend playing Pokémon Snap, here’s my review.

Nostalgia with an Upgrade

Pokémon Snap is a remake of the 1999 Nintendo 64 game. When I learned we were getting an update to the game over 20 years later, all I could think about was the visual improvement. One of my favorite games of all time is Mario Kart. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve lost playing that game growing up. But try playing that game after playing Mario Kart 8 on the Nintendo Switch – it’s impossible. The eye strain from the terrible graphics is enough to give you a migraine. The same goes for Pokémon Snap.

Mario Kart 8 on Nintendo Switch vs Mario Kart 64

Cruising around, taking pictures of my favorite Pokémon has been a nostalgia-fueled hoot(hoot). The mechanics are virtually the same as the original game but with two notable improvements: amazing graphics and many more generations of Pokémon to pull from.

Gameplay

The premise of Pokémon Snap is pretty simple. You are a young child tasked with snapping pictures of Pokémon in the wild to help Professor Mirror with his research. You are in the new Lental Region, which is comprised of different islands. Each island has a different climate and ecosystem. Professor Mirror hooks you up with a cool camera and puts you on the NEO-ONE, a hovercraft that steadily pushes you through the different habitats. As a player, you don’t control the NEO-ONE, so all you have to worry about is snapping pictures. Once you get through the trail, you report back to Professor Mirror, and he grades your pictures. Mirror grades your pictures between 1 and 4 stars as well as awards points for them. It does get a little more involved but more on that later.

Not Your Average Pokémon Game

Pokémon Snap plays very differently than other Pokémon games. In fact, it plays very differently from most other video games. The gameplay is all turn-based and strategy with the flagship games that started with Red and Blue (or Green overseas). The goal is, of course, to Catch ‘em All, but even for an avid fan like myself, I’ll admit that the monotony sets in fairly quickly. I still have PTSD when I think about Zubats in the Rock Tunnel. But while the other games are all about filling up your PokeDex as quickly as you can, Pokémon Snap is about taking in the sights. And it’s a relief.

Skip through the intro and tutorials and get to the meat of the game, where you snap pictures of Pokémon in the wild. I was immediately blown away by the visual masterpiece that is Pokémon Snap. On each trail, you see a variety of different Pokémon. And they’re not just running or grazing or sleeping. They’re interacting with each other. A little Grookey and Pichu are chasing each other around like two kittens. A Scorbunny is sleeping with its paws behind its head on top of a Torterra. They had personality.

When Sword and Shield came out in 2019, the big talk was about the addition of the Wild Areas. Players could walk or ride around in this giant open map, see Pokémon in the grass, and interact with them. But it was still very mechanical. The Pokémon sprites walked and turned like they were wind-up dolls. They moved in a tiny, predictable loop. But in Pokémon Snap, these animals come to life.

It gave me a whole new appreciation for the Pokémon. Arbok, for example, was never anything special to me. I dismissed him long ago as that stupid snake that Jesse from Team Rocket used. But in one of the early maps in Pokémon Snap, you see him in the wild, and he’s huge and kind of intimidating. And if you’ve never thought much of Meganium, wait until you see him in all her majestic beauty in Snap.

A Camera that Feels like a Camera

The whole game hinges on the quality of the camera feature. I was worried that the photos were going to be lame. They weren’t all that impressive 20 years ago, and I was curious about whether it would feel like just a fancy way to take a screenshot. But the camera functionality is very intuitive and life-like. The zooming and focusing are quick and adaptable, and no two pictures are exactly alike. Here are some of the pictures I snapped.

A Game of Easter Eggs

If you like to fly through games and be the first to beat them, you’re missing the point of this game. Pokémon Snap is a slow-paced, leisurely pursuit. Think Apple TV screensaver meets Pikachu. But that’s not to say there’s not plenty to do. Your main objective is to get the best 1-star, 2-star, 3-star, and 4-star snaps of each Pokémon. The stars depend on what the Pokémon is doing in the picture. For a 1-star picture, the Pokémon is basically just standing there. Whereas a Pokémon doing something magnificent gets you a 4-star picture. Sometimes, getting a perfect picture means being in the right place at the right time. Other times it means interacting with the Pokémon just so.

You can interact with the Pokémon by scanning the surroundings, which Professor Mirror calls an ‘accidental say cheese.’ You can also throw Illumina Orbs that light up the Pokémon like they’re going to a rave or throwing fluffruit (which are just apples). Interacting with the Pokémon can set off a chain of events that make your trip through the habitat different from the last. For example, if you throw a fluffruit at a Pidgeot in one part of the map, he will fly to a tree in another where he stalks a Magikarp before swooping down and grabbing it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one Pokémon prey on another before. It was awesome!

Fluffruit is Dumb and Perfect

The whole concept of the fluffruit is ridiculous and stupid… and I love it. If you’ve ever been to the zoo or a safari, what do they tell you? Don’t feed the animals! Imagine going to the zoo, and they hand you a sack of apples at the entrance and tell you to go crazy. The whole game, I’m just chucking apples at Pokémons’ heads, trying to get them to do something. Heracross was particularly annoyed. And then you go back to base camp, and Professor Mirror tells you how the Pokémon must really like you.

Redundant

The natural downside of the game is that it eventually gets a little redundant. After the fourth or fifth ride through each trail, the original awe of the landscape wears off, and you start to feel like you’ve seen it all. The developers do their best to combat this. At first, you are only permitted on the first trail, and then you can go there at night and see different Pokémon doing different things. But right when I was starting to grow tired of that, they open up another trail. And then they opened two at once. And you can hop from one trail to another whenever you want. I found it best to switch trails after every few trips to keep it fresh and change it up.

Still, going after those 4-star pictures, I found myself having to quit and restart over and over again because I didn’t throw the fluff fruit at just the right time or wasn’t facing the right way. But whenever I got frustrated, I reminded myself to stop and smell the roses. That’s the whole point, afterall.

Overall

The biggest reason I like Snap is the same reason I enjoyed the Detective Pikachu movie. It’s a different spin on an old-school game. The makers of Pokémon have built this giant universe with 100s of lovable character, but it has always suffered in terms of scope. It all came down to catching, battling, and leveling up. I always felt like the world around the game was under-utilized. Pokémon Snap rights that wrong.

If you are considering getting Pokémon Snap, I absolutely recommend it. Even if you’re not a Pokémon fan, this game feels like it’s good for the soul. The slow, easy pace is soothing and practically rage-quit-proof. The Pokémon in their natural habitats is really a sight to behold. Check out Pokémon Snap for a refreshing take on a gaming legacy.

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Why You Still Can’t Get a PS5

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Released in November of 2020, Sony’s PlayStation 5 sales hit past the 6 million units mark at the start of March 2021. Despite this, many fans are still dismayed as getting their hands on one is next to impossible. Target, Best Buy, and Walmart have sold out their stocks, and the outlook of a restock isn’t as promising.

Target Restocks PS5

However, Matt Swider of TechRadar, along with YouTuber Jake Randall, regularly confirms restocks. The most recent was at Target on April 28th.

The two have Twitter accounts that are currently used primarily as restock trackers. Citing corporate emails from his Target sources and inventory numbers sent by Target employees, Swider announced an online-only purchase on the morning of the 28th.

As of this writing, it’s still all wait-and-see as they announce Walmart and Best Buy restock dates and time, too. In the meantime, here are the reasons why people are having a hard time securing a New Xbox vs. PlayStation:

Global Electronic Chip Shortage

One of the culprits is the shortage of semiconductor chip supplies worldwide. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), makers of the chips that PS5 and the new Xbox operate on, outsource these chips’ manufacturing to Taiwan. 

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) apparently can’t keep up with the unprecedented demand. What with Microsoft also competing with Sony, and many other tech companies, for the parts.

PS5 and the Pandemic

The strain on global trade brought about by the pandemic also caused the PS5 shortage. The delays in factory production and, more importantly, the shipping crisis impacted the supply chains. With people having to stay at home, the demand for goods increased while the capacity to transport from one country to another lessened. 

Adding insult to injury is the recent blocking of the Suez Canal, a crucial shipping lane, by the ship Ever Given. However, it may or may not have directly affected the PS5 supply chain. We know that approximately $10 billion worth of goods were blocked each day the ship got grounded. It’s sure to have affected it. 

Internet Bots, Scalpers, and Scammers

Other culprits include internet bots and scalpers that can wipe out PS5 stocks faster than any human can. Some e-commerce sites placed cybersecurity measures to stop retail bots from scooping all the units. But, sadly, the evil-doers still found ways to work around them.

The stocks these bots and scalpers get are then resold for as much as three times the regular price. Death threats and an unscrupulous image aside, scalpers still make big bucks from this strategy.

But the worst culprits are the scammers. First, they put up for sale the very few units they can get their hands on. Then, once they receive the online payment, they ghost their buyers. 

The Cryptocurrency Craze

The recent dip in crypto prices didn’t stop enterprising people from mining their own open-source blockchain currencies instead of just buying them. Thus, the need for powerful graphics cards such as the ones made by AMD. And with the shortage of parts, it’s not a surprise that PS5 and Xbox are scarce as they use GPUs from AMD.

Check us out for more gaming news and reviews.

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Is The Uplift Desk V2 Worth It? (Review)

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Standing desks are all the rage nowadays ever since we’re all forced to work from home. Sitting at a desk all day for both work and pleasure can be unhealthy. Having a motorized standing desk is gives your productivity a new level of verticality you didn’t know you needed. If you’re on the market for a new standing desk, chances are you’ve run into Uplift. They’re one of the more premium standing desk manufacturers that’s known for quality and customizability. If you’re curious if they’re the right fit for your work style, read on to find out.

Our Standing Desk Spec

  • 60 x 30 +$110
  • Bamboo +$40
  • V2 C frame
  • One power Grommet Cover +$39
  • Advanced Paddle Keypad +$59
  • Total: $816

Add-on

  • Magnetic cable channel +$19 (for cable management)

Coming in multiple pieces

One thing to note is that your packages will come in multiple pieces and may not all arrive simultaneously. This is important for city dwellers who live in tight apartments and have to schedule their deliveries to be picked up at a local UPS or USPS store.

Also, when ordering, pay close attention to the availability of the different types of tabletops. Some of the more exclusive wood will have significantly longer preparation time. In our case, the 60″x30″ bamboo tabletop could ship out the next day and didn’t have to wait long.

Assembly

If you’re worried that assembly will be complicated, fear not – it’s not. The Uplift team did a great job with their simplified instruction manual and neat packaging. All the nuts, bolts, and washers are clearly labeled. I recommend having a bowl or tray to keep everything organized during assembly.

When assembling the legs into the center frame piece, make sure you have the middle frame RIGHT side up. The manual didn’t indicate which side is up/down, but the pictures are accurate. So be sure to follow the diagram and make sure that the center frame is orientated correctly. I had to redo the leg assembly because I was careless.

Complete assembly of the standing desk took about 1 hour with just one person. You can easily do this alone, and honestly, I don’t think having a partner helping will expedite the process much. You definitely will need someone’s help to flip the desk over once the assembly is complete.

Quality Craftsmanship

Every single piece we held up had a sizable heft to them. We spent a lot of time admiring the craftsmanship of the desk during assembly. Although there aren’t that many pieces to put together, each one was thoughtfully engineered. Making the assembly process simple, painless, and intuitive is an art that’s often under-appreciated.

Cable Management

I’m glad Uplift provided a cable management kit. My advice would be to do all of your cable management BEFORE flipping the desk over. Once you flip it over, it’s going to be a painful process. My one complaint is that the double-sided tape is too weak to hold up the thicker cables. The smaller wires held up just fine, but the thick power cables proved to be too heavy.

Responsiveness

The paddle controller is well worth the extra $59. Adjusting the desk’s height was as simple as lightly tapping up or down on the paddle. There’s a 1-second delay between the click and the desk lifting, which is excellent. That 1-second of lag input between hearing the click and the desk moving gave me more precise control. I’ve reviewed other desks that were either too delayed or too responsive, making the exact height adjustment nearly impossible. The motor doesn’t move too quickly or too slow—just the perfect speed to gauge precisely when to stop.

Stability

The desk is stable regardless of the height setting. That should come as no surprise given the weight of the desk. Most standing desks are sturdy below 35″. However, the desk loses that rigidity when fully extended. I didn’t experience that issue with the Uplift desk. Even fully extended, the desk remained stable and wobble-free, making it suitable for most of my work and gaming needs.

Noise Level

It certainly is noticeable when the motors are moving, but nothing major. Overall, it’s reasonably quiet and shouldn’t be a significant concern. The motor humming is unlikely to wake up a baby or annoy your neighbor.

Aesthetic

Now let’s get to the real reason why you’re picking this up over a cheap Ikea or Amazon Basic standing desk. It looks expensive and gorgeous in any room. Uplift didn’t skimp on where it matters the most – the tabletop. You’ll notice right away is how thick and generous the tabletop is. I got the 60″ bamboo finish with a black base, and it looks even better in person. Almost everyone who’s stepped foot into my home office has asked about the desk.

The aesthetic appeal of a 60″ bamboo finish standing desk was an unexpected and welcomed surprise. I knew that it would look professional for the price; I didn’t think it would be a centerpiece.

Extremely Well Built

Depending on the tabletop, options, and accessories you select, your Uplift desk could easily be $1000+. What may seem costly at first will eventually feel like an excellent investment. After I started using the Uplift desk daily, I noticed just how much I enjoy being at my desk. Switching from sitting to standing was a breeze with the paddle switch. It takes less than seconds for me to adjust the desk to my desired height fully.

A good working environment can significantly affect our productivity. And the best tool we can invest in is a quality desk – particularly a standing desk. One of the best things about the Uplift desk that makes it such a joy to use is that it’s well built. I’ve mentioned the craftsmanship at least three times in this review because that’s the thing you’ll likely notice and appreciate the most.

Final Verdict

Uplift makes one of the most premium standing desks on the market today. The prices aren’t cheap; however, they’re well worth the investment. Our 60″ bamboo finish with all the added accessories came out to just over $800. It certainly is an investment. If you’re looking for a desk that can accommodate both your work/life productivity needs, the Uplift desk is well worth the investment.

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