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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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2021 Black Friday Video Game Deals

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Gamers everywhere, gather ‘round! We have another series of Black Friday video game deals for you to drool over. We’ve got another Call of Duty, another Far Cry, another Resident Evil, and a few originals scattered here and there. Scroll through and find a deal that you won’t be able to resist. 

Behold, our 2021 Black Friday video game deals!

Scroll down to the bottom for a very special deal!

Call of Duty Vanguard 

Who doesn’t get excited for the next Call of Duty? Even those who remember this series as a WWII-specific game get excited for the next round of action. 

44% Off $69.99 – $39.00

Deathloop

You need to get on this future Game of the Year entry. Not kidding. It’s like Groundhog Day, but badass. 

57% Off $59.99 – $24.99

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

These two are back at it again! Snag this action-packed delight now before it goes back up to peasant prices!

28% Off $69.99 – $49.94

Far Cry 6

You know you felt chills at the sight of Giancarlo Esposito. Why wouldn’t you? Did you see what he did when someone scuffed his sneakers? 

42% Off $59.99 – $49.94

Resident Evil Village

Tall vampire lady stole the internet before this game was officially released. Download this game and see why she’s so scary and so sexy. 

60% Off $49.99 – $19.99

Riders Republic 

Get into some sick riding, brah. What more is there to say? Do you need details? GTFO. 

57% Off $59.99 – $24.99

Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut

This is the samurai game we’ve been asking for. It’s here and it’s stunning. The director’s cut is even more special with a lengthy add-on that reminds you why this game is so beautiful. 

29% Off $69.99 – $49.94

Lost Judgment

True crime? In a game?! Yo, my bloodlust is tingling. Check out this intense murder mystery and see what everyone isn’t shutting up about. 

50% Off $59.99 – $29.99

Just Dance 2022

An easy crowd pleaser. If you need any reason to snag this game, here it is

50% Off $49.99 – $24.99

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

It’s hard to imagine a game more cathartic than this. Who doesn’t want to be a village-pillaging viking? Like, come on. 

67% Off $59.99 – $19.98

Back 4 Blood

It’s called Left 4 Dead. They use a 4 for “for.” That’s how you know it’s fun. I’m not being sarcastic. 

33% Off $59.99 – $39.99

Madden NFL 22

Nobody is surprised that another Madden game is out. But this one has that cutie-patootie heartthrob gorgeous piece of man that is Patrick Mahomes on the cover. Sold. 

50% Off $69.99 – $34.99

The Last of Us: Part II

Ellie is back and she’s kicking ass. Continue the grim, brutal story that is The Last of Us with some of the most thoughtful character development seen in video games. 

50% Off 39.88 – $19.93

FIFA 22 

A little soccer (or football if you’re some kind of non-American) never hurt nobody. 

50% Off $69.99 – $34.99

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Launch Edition

If you thought Peter Parker was the end-all-be-all of Spider-men, you’re just wrong. Miles Morales is as fun, if not more so, than Parker. This game helps solidify is permanent Spidey-Status. 

29% Off $69.99 – $49.99

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl

Is this a Super Smash Bros knock off? Sure. Who cares? Nobody. Dive into some no-kidding-around nostalgia with this gem. 

40% Off $49.99 – $29.99

Life Is Strange: True Colors

A thoughtful and beautiful graphic adventure game that launches this series forward in ways that is sure to gain more fans. 

42% Off $59.99 – $34.99

Mass Effect Legendary Edition

The epic series has been rereleased for you to cry all over again. Will you recreate your classic Shepherd? Or will you create an entirely new character to fight the Reapers? 

58% Off $59.99 – $25.00

Minecraft Dungeons Hero Edition

It’s Minecraft. Who hates Minecraft? You know who? People without souls. 

33% Off $29.99 – $19.99

And now, for the very special deal… 

Oculus Quest 2 (128 GB) + $50 Gift Card

Use Promo Code – OCULUS50 – $299.00

Not what you were expecting when you read “special deal?” I guess you don’t appreciate the value of a $50 Gift Card! That’s a whole game or two on Black Friday!

Be sure to check out all of our other Holiday Gift Guides and Black Friday/Cyber Monday Deals!

Happy Holidays and Be Safe!

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N64 Games Coming to Switch had Sparked Buzz among Nintendo Fans

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Nintendo Switch Online (NSO) celebrated its third anniversary on September 18, 2021. Nintendo gamers and enthusiasts expected exciting promotions alongside NSO’s milestones. Thus, several rumors circulated online that N64 games might be added to Nintendo Switch. Is the alleged introduction of new retro contents likely to happen? Are you a fan of Mario Kart, Mario Tennis, Dr. Mario, Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Lylat Wars, Sin and Punishment, Operation: Winback,  and other N64 classics? Continue reading to know more.

Key Points

  • Nintendo Switch Online turned three on September 18
  • The Japanese game giant recently applied a particular game controller with the Federal Communications Commission 
  • Fans went crazy over the alleged introduction of retro titles on the subscription service 
  • The subscription fee hike is imminent once the upcoming expansion pushes through 

What do the folks think about the Nintendo rumors?

If you noticed on Twitter, the public recently went wild with their mixed reactions about an odd game controller application that gaming giant Nintendo Co. Ltd. filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). FCC is an independent government agency that monitors local and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable in the US. 

Most of the fans think that the new filing is related to the anticipated expansion of Nintendo Switch Online. Because of this, “N64” and “retro gaming” have been among the trending topics on Twitter since mid-September. Now, how did the rumors start? The speculations began when Nintendo insider Nate the Hate leaked that Game Boy, and Game Boy Color games are expected to be introduced to the Nintendo Switch Online service. Eurogamer later confirmed, saying the other Nintendo retro games will head on over to NSO as well. 

Most Nintendo famous games are already available online, and folks are continuously looking for new games. Since September marks Nintendo’s anniversary, many fans expect the video game company will offer a unique selection of titles. They’ve been doing this since 2019.

In January 2019, a data mine of the NES Switch app hinted that the video game company would add new SNES titles to the service before the official launch. During that time, Eurogamer said, the data mine also pointed to a couple of other hidden emulators in anticipation of their further enhancements. With the news, folks speculated that they would also include Game Boy advance in the upcoming expansion of the Nintendo Switch online subscription service.

Additional leaks and reactions

Nate the Hate also divulged that Nintendo 64 games can become an addition to NSO, too. The fans are thinking about whether or not these upcoming releases will add value to their gaming experience. On September 16, Twitter user SamusHunter2 shared that the gaming giant had filed a particular game controller-related application with the Federal Communications Commission. 

Although it does not clearly mention the Nintendo Switch, the console’s peripheral model numbers all share the prefix, “HAC” also present in the new FCC application. Sadly, any part of the application that would reveal more information about the product is not published. Regardless of these limitations, hardcore Nintendo gamers continue to share their predictions about what kind of game controller it could be.

Another Twitter user Toufool said that the rumored launch can become attractive for anyone interested in Nintendo’s emulation history.  He added that fans who want to discover why NSO N64 will perform compared to the Wii’s Virtual Console. Others were hesitant to try it. It’s because of the fear of ruining their game due to lags and other performance problems. 

The Mysterious Game Controller Filed with the FCC

Kotaku EIC Stephen Totilo emphasized that  NSO’s third anniversary and N64 25th anniversary simultaneously happen in September. The whole buzz continues since a lot of people are expecting some retro-related Nintendo Switch Online upgrades.

On the other hand, LootPots founding editor Jack Parsons thought that the new filing is most likely linked to the new NSO version. The extent of the expansion remains a puzzle for Nintendo games fanatics. But Nate the Hate strongly believes that there is a high possibility that subscription rates will increase once the development pushes through. They were hoping for a moderate increase, though. 

BONUS: What is Nintendo Switch Online?

Nintendo Switch Online or simply NSO is an online subscription service for the Nintendo Switch video game console. Septmber 18 2018 was the launch date, which initially covered 43 markets and expanded later. Nintendo Switch consoles imported to China experienced connectivity issues because NSO service running on Google servers were blocked in China. Nintendo Switch consoles imported to China experienced connectivity issues because China blocked the NSO service using  Google servers. 

NSO features include online multiplayer, cloud saving, voice chat through smartphone App, access to the library of Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), and other promotions and offers. Nintendo Switch Online’s classic game library currently contains around 80 NES games and 50 SNES, though it varies between regions.

Depending on the plan, the subscription fee in the United States ranges from 3.99 to 79.99 USD. Since its establishment, Nintendo Switch Online has released many game titles. That is why fans got curious about what was in store for them during the company’s third-anniversary celebration. 

Conclusion

So, where do all these rumors take us? If the Nintendo 64 integration on Nintendo Switch Online succeeded, it will be easier for the public to figure out Nintendo’s odd game controller application recently filed with the FCC. Maybe, it is just a replica N64 controller to be used with the Switch. Well, this is all speculation, of course. Who knows, it could just be another Joy-Con.

Well, it is for us to discover one to two months away from now – once the expansion becomes stable and available. With two anniversaries happening simultaneously, maybe the video game company will treat its fans with fantastic news and finally uncover the truth. Let’s look forward to that and party like the ’90s.

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Holiday Gift Guide – 11 Board Games For Distraction

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2021 wasn’t much better than 2020. We could use all the distractions we can find to get through all the noise. We could also use more reasons to bond with one another. What better way to accomplish that than with board games? This holiday season, gift your loved ones some of these super fun board games. 

Disparity Trap – The Unfair Game of Life

Fresh off of a successful Kickstarter campaign, Disparity Trap is similar to The Game of Life, only far more realistic. You have individual goals of earning as much wealth as possible and a team goal of avoiding all of the pitfalls of a system designed to work against you. Like life, the dice in your hands, but the odds are not. With themes of race, economic inequality, and other tough topics, this is a game surely to expand the minds of all of its players. 

Buy it here for $35

2020: The Best Year Ever

If you ever wondered what it would be like to take the COVID-19 pandemic and turn it into a board game, look no further. 2020: The Best Year ever places you in an all-too-familiar pandemic situation where you don’t know what will happen when you land on a space. If you’re lucky, the COVID spinner will turn up negative on each turn. 

Buy it here for $50

OUTSIDE Artistic Board Game

Here’s a board game that allows you to play outside. Based on paranormal events with an emphasis on narrative and artistic design, this incredibly creative game will have you completely immersed. 

Buy it here for $24

“I Would Kill Hitler” Party Card Game

We’ve all asked each other, “if you could go back in time, would you kill Hitler?” With 100 hypothetical cards, “I Would Kill Hitler” has you answer wild, zany, and thoughtful questions that will have you on the floor. 

Buy it here for $69

Final Challenge Social Challenge Based Card Game

Get outside of your comfort zone and take part in a game that will have you performing unimaginable tasks where you try to outsmart your opponents. Even the shiest of your friends will be laughing like crazy. 

Buy it here for $20

Moonpreneur Business Strategy Game

Hone your entrepreneurial skills and shoot for the moon! Moonpreneur is a uniquely strategized game about how to start and expand a business all while obstacles are thrown in your path. 

Buy it here for $54.99

Hindsight 20/20 Tabletop Card Game

This is the most cutthroat card game you’ll ever play. Players compete as different nations trying to survive some of the most difficult times we face. Takedown the other nations through disease, looting, explosions, and more. 

Buy it here for $10

The Shame of Life Card Game of Weird Conversations

Here is an NSFW Card Game that encourages players to embark in the weirdest of conversations. If you like imagining ridiculous situations, solving improbable problems, and talking nonsense with friends, this game is for you.

Buy it here for $24.99

Why Me? Secret Identity Party Game

You’ll start to give your friends the side-eye with this game. The goal is to survive – by getting rid of your friends. Full of chaos, this fun party game lets you make temporary allies and enemies as you move around the map. 

Buy it here for $25

Tipsy Toes Drinking Board Game

Who doesn’t love a good drinking game? Tipsy Toes comes with over 200 drinking cards to keep everyone on their toes (get it?). To win, you have to be the first player to get to the bar. Whoever comes last has to drink the full cup of beer from the beginning of the game. 

Buy it here for $25

Straight Up Chessboard

Why not? Every house needs a chessboard. Why not have yours on the wall? Kinda different, right? Why the hell not? The price is high, but this is more than a chessboard, it’s a work of art. 

Buy it here for $315 – $520

What are you waiting for?! Stock up on board games for you and your loved ones this holiday season.

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