Unplugged - Yomi Kickstarter

Fighting games meet poker in this extraordinary product.

(Editor's Note: "Unplugged" is what I call my series of articles for analog games. It's for card games, board games; really any game that isn't a video game. I hope you enjoy.)

If you're anything like me, you don't have a head for fighting games. You want to get into them, they're a blast to watch pros play, and they each have unique characters that you want to get to know. But you just can't get past opening every fight by leaping forward and throwing a kick as your most advanced fighting tactic. Well for people like me, there is a solution in the card game called Yomi.

Yomi is a card game that boils fighting games down to their most simple form: Rock, Paper, Scissors. Only in Yomi, it's Attack, Block, Dodge/Counter. You and your opponent pick characters, like you would in a fighting game, draw your opening hand, and then start laying out cards one at a time to see who can capitalize on who. What this does is break down tedious combo memorization and remove barriers until all you have left is the mental game.

In Yomi, it's all about reading your opponent's tendencies and trying to plan around them. The only thing that's random in this game is the cards you get, but just like in Poker, even a bad hand can bring you victory if you read your opponent's just right. You can try and lay out your opponent with a well-timed combo, or save up your aces for a super attack that devastates half their health in one blow. It's all up to your strategy!

It's a brilliant marriage of gameplay archetypes. Each deck plays differently and has different strengths and weaknesses. Each character has their own styles and movesets that makes playing them feel entirely unique. You'll even be rewarded with new ideas and combinations the more you dig into individual characters. You'll learn what works and doesn't work against your foes, and just like in a fighting game, you'll evolve your play style to overcome them.

Now to be clear, this isn't a review. It's also not me whipping out a glowing recommendation for a game I love. It's to let you know that this game is awesome, it's real, and it's second incarnation is currently on Kickstarter. I'm not normally one to link to Kickstarter, but this is something I already know works, and want to recommend to people as an excellent game to check out. If you're even remotely interested, you can try the game now, without spending a dime, by checking out the online version at http://www.fantasystrike.com/game/

Have you played Yomi before? What's your impression of it, whether you have or haven't? Do you like hearing about analog games? Feedback and comments are always welcome!

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E3 Report! Nintendo's Digital Event

I'm really glad I got that Wii U.

It's hard not to love a show that starts with executives fighting each other like Street Fighter characters. Iwata's flying headbutt, E. Honda style, was a better way to wake up than Folger's shot directly into my eyeballs. It didn't hurt following that up with some Smash Bros. footage showing off new Mii characters. It was a strong start for a strong show from Nintendo.

Highlights include the Kirby's Epic Yarn spiritual successor Yoshi's Wooly World, a new Kirby's Canvas Curse game Kirby's Rainbow Curse, and Mario Maker, a game where you make Mario levels and share them. But it's easy to say the real winner was the new Legend of Zelda game. I don't want to oversell it, but it looks to be Zelda meets Skyrim. Don't believe me? Check out the video from the briefing.

The other big story out of this digital event was Amiibo. This initiative is Nintendo's answer to Skylanders, where real world figures can be transferred into game content. The big highlight showed Smash Bros. themed figures where you can create and level up fighters and store them in your figure for use during fights or training. These figures will also be used in other games like Mario Kart 8, Mario Party 10, and more. It'll be interesting to see if they allow Mario to be playable in the next Skylanders game, because if they do, it's game over.

There were other trailers you can check out on Nintendo's YouTube page for Hyrule Warriors, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and Super Toad 67 Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker. The downside here is, like the other conferences, most of these games are set for a 2015 release. The future is there, but we've got a little bit more of a drought to get us through. Fortunately, Bayonetta 2 is coming, and will include the original game, allowing you to also dress Bayonetta up as Samus, Peach, and others!

At the end of the conference was another Smash Bros. character announcement as Palutena leaps in from the Kid Icarus franchise. She looks great!

What did you think of Nintendo's Digital Event? How do you like the format? Stay tuned for more E3 coverage throughout the week!

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E3 Report! Sony's Conference!

All over the place, but with the right intentions.

I feel like it's hard to pinpoint exactly what narrative Sony was trying to deliver at their keynote conference. Honestly, as far as presentations go, I thought it was kind of terrible. It was too long, too unguided, and generally hodgepodgey. They could have cut that comic book/TV guy out completely. There was no need for that "Millions of our fans wrote in" load of horse shit. And I don't know that anybody cared about Sony TV. But what Sony did do right was pack that abomination of a show to the rafters with real game footage of new and announced games alike. And that's what ultimately won me over.

It started with Destiny, which still looks weird and sophomoric to me, but hey the kids love it. Then it went on to some gameplay of The Order: 1886, which I really hope isn't as button-mashy/quick-time event filled as it looked. And after that it was just everywhere. They showed off a game called Entwined, which looked to pretentious for my tastes. They showed off Little Big Planet 3, which looked fine. I could never get into those titles myself, but I recognize a quality product when I see it. And that was a major announcement for a game coming out this year, which is something Microsoft had none of, and for which I am thankful.

They also had their share of sans-the-gameplay announcements, though. Bloodborne, Dead Island 2, and Uncharted 4 all showed up. I'd complain about sequels right now, but honestly there was enough interesting content that I didn't come away from this feeling sequel burn.

There were a lot of mentions of great partner deals with publishers like Devolver, so it's good to see crazy amounts of little games like Hotline Miami finding homes on the PS4.

My most curious game of the conference was No Man's Sky. It was announced last year, but seeing more of it made me salivate for a chance to play. That may be the game that gets me to buy a PS4 if it doesn't come out on PC at some point. Procedurally generated sci-fi worlds has me all kinds of excited.

Overall, it was a shotgun spray of announcements, news, and fuck-all that we could care less about. But when they were on their stride, Sony was doing great, and it should be commended that there are some serious contenders in there for game of the show.

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What would you like from a "Mario Maker?"

Recent E3 "leak" has me pondering...

With just a day before E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) starting proper, I thought I would have some fun with one of the supposed leaks going around. The craziest leak is a game titled "Mario Maker." As seen above in this suspiciously blurry picture (taken with a 3DS?), there may just come an announcement during Nintendo's digital E3 presentation featuring a game that involves making and/or Mario. But what could a game like this be? We won't know until Tuesday if it even exists, but a game like this could just as easily be a real project. So I decided to make believe that it is real and talk about what I want it to be.

The obvious answer here is that this is a Super Mario Bros. level creator. Using either the 3DS or Wii U stylus, you plop down blocks and create your own levels. We've seen these types of ROM programs on the internet before, which is why I feel that this alone is too much of a low hanging fruit. If that's all "Mario Maker" turns out to be, I think that's cool, and I'd love to see sequels using Super Mario 2, 3, and World assets as well.

Then we can get into some sick shit.

But I do hope there's more to this whole "Mario Maker" than a level creation/sharing tool. What if you could have access to a sprite maker to make your own enemies/stage designs? Heck, they could even go full blown Mario Paint and give you access to the same sound font that Koji Kondo once used to create the famous Mario tune we all know in our heads. This would allow level creators to also create original tunes to add to their unique characters and worlds, all using the Mario Bros. gameplay. Adding this almost Little Big Planet level of customization could really turn a simple ROM stage creator into a full-packaged game maker. Now -that- would be an E3 surprise.

There could also be a chance to add some of that NES Remix magic in here too. Nintendo could include other characters like Kirby or Samus. There was an old flash game, called Super Mario Crossover that allowed you to play through the original Super Mario Bros. as other NES favorites like 8-bit Link, or Mega Man. Tapping into Nintendo's nostalgic collection of characters to play Mario games as could really open the whole "Mario Maker" project.

We'll see if this is even a real thing come Tuesday, but for now it's just fun to pretend what kind of things Nintendo could do, even if it's sometime in the future. What kind of game would you want out of a "Mario Maker?" Drop a comment below and let's speculate together!

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Adachi joins the growing roster of Persona 4 Arena 2: Ultimax

"You're a dumbass."

News from Siliconera comes our way that Adachi, the defective detective from Persona 4, will be joining the growing roster of fighters in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, the fighting game sequel due out later this year.

We only have a few shots to go off of so it's hard to tell exactly what kind of fighter he'll be off the bat, but we know he's packing his revolver. It's safe to assume he'll have some distance fighting. We also know he brings his Persona, Magatsu-Izanagi, but we have yet to see if that will be a clone of Yu Narukami's Izanagi or its own thing.

Adachi-baby joins the growing roster of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax as a DLC character. He adds to previously announced fighters Rise Kujikawa and the tag team of Ken and Koromaru from Persona 3.

What do you think of this news? I'm personally pumped for Adachi and, may just main the representative of the Hunger Arcana.

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Mario Kart 8 - A Hundred Word Review

Fast, gorgeous, and full of online fun.

Mario Kart 8 is probably one of the strongest Mario Kart's to have come out. It's gorgeous, fast, and entertaining.

As far as Mario Kart's go, you're not getting a bunch of new territory here outside of the brilliant zero-g racing. Riding upside down and on walls never fails to be fun.

Above all else, come to this game for its gameplay, but while you're here, enjoy the bountiful visual feast blowing out of your screen.

The battle mode is the worst, but the online works phenomenally! Creating videos with Mario Kart TV and viewing them at Mariokart.tv is a blast.

This is a new format I'm trying called the "Hundred Word Review." Just like it says, I take only 100 words to describe my feelings towards a game. I'm doing this in an attempt to find a gimmick that appeals to folks. Quick, bite-sized reviews are the idea. Something to counterbalance the half-a-novel reviews you see elsewhere. I could write a lot about Mario Kart 8, but I feel like these 100 words are all I need to say to tell you what I think of it.

Let me know what you think in the comments. Does this format work for you? Am I omitting things? Do you like the idea of shorter reviews in general, or have I taken it to far? Please slap that feedback on the table so I can write more gooder for you.

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Pushmo World announced for Wii U

Push it real good.

Nintendo announced today that Pushmo World, the sequel to Pushmo on the 3DS, will be coming to the Wii U on June 19th.

In Pushmo, the goal is to get the adorable sumo wrestler Mallo to the top of oddly shaped structures by pushing and pulling blocks forward and back, ultimately platforming your way to the top. The original came out on the 3DS eshop a couple years ago, and was considered to be a refreshing and truly unique puzzle game by most critics. The sequel appears to be a bit more of the same, complete with stage building and sharing, but in HD. If you've never had a shot at the series now, I highly recommend you go pick up the original.

Of course you can check out the trailer right here and drop comments below on what you think!

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Kirby: Triple Deluxe Delights and Disappoints simultaneously.

Still not sure what exactly is "Deluxe" about it.

Kirby: Triple Deluxe is a strange game. It feels as though it was scientifically distilled in a vat somewhere. It's almost entirely inorganic and it ultimately left a bitter-sweet taste in my mouth.

Obviously, it's a video game, and of course they're all created in a studio somewhere so yeah, it's just as "inorganic" as any other game. I think it's more about taking risks and having interesting designs, and this game seems to be a one safe bet after another. It uses all of the formula's that have worked in the past, and takes painstaking efforts to recreate them rather than make something new.

This is essentially the same Kirby we got on the Wii a few years back in Return to Dreamland. I would argue in favor of Return as a type of Kirby game that was trying to come back around to it's roots, and it did so fairly well with some interesting multi-player options. This game is almost identical, without the interesting multi-player. Sure, the flimsy scraps of story are different, and yeah the worlds look much more interesting than they did in Return to Dreamland, but if you've played one you know exactly what you're getting for the other.

Take for example the powers. We've seen Kirby copy abilities, put on cute hats, and interact with the environments a dozen times before. There's only four new powers but even those don't feel like anything different than we've had in the past. Archer existed in a different form in previous games, Beetle is essentially Suplex with a primary attack, and Circus is unique but functionally useless.

Then there's the introduction of the Hypernova ability, which is arguably the game's number one bullet point. To be blunt: it shouldn't be. It's a neat enough gimmick the first couple times, but after a while it becomes more tedious to see and use. All it does is kick Kirby's trademark inhalation ability into overdrive, allowing him to suck up everything on screen. Occasionally there's a puzzle or two to be solved with it, but honestly these are just long, treading, exhausting sequences that make me never want to revisit a good portion of the game's levels.

And there is a good reason to revisit stages, at least in the eyes of this compulsive collector: keychains. Each level has collectible keychains scattered throughout it, some rarer than others, that are each an image from previous Kirby games. Honestly I'd love to have most of these in real life, but seeing them on the 3DS comes in a close second. You can also collect them via Street-Pass and Play Coins, and there's a whole heck of a lot to unearth.

I will say that some of the boss and level designs take time out of their day to make a strong argument for functionality in the world of stereoscopic three-dimensional gameplay. Even for a game that plays entirely on a series of overlaid two-dimensional plans, there's a lot of action that happens between the foreground and background and it looks great. It's unfortunate that most of these events are reserved for boss fights, and that even then they're few and far between.

As for side modes, there's your usual smattering. An unnecessary rhythm game, a boss rush mode, a somewhat enjoyable "Kirby Fighters" mode that might replace Smash Bros. for all of one evening. Upon beating the game you do get to replay most of it as King DeDeDe which I actually found to be more fun than a large portion of the main game, if by no other virtue than by removing the Hypernova sequences.

If I sound bitter about Kirby: Triple Deluxe it's probably because I'm a longtime fan of the franchise, and this game is perhaps the least unique of them. I wanted something a little sharper and more clever like I receied with the likes of Epic Yarn, and Mass Attack. In the end it's a fun little game, though. If you really like Kirby I'd recommend giving it a go, but if you don't, it'll by no means be an exception to your general feelings.

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Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire Announced

GameBoy Advance games being remade for 3DS, releasing worldwide in November.

This November, Groudon and Kyogre return to Pokemon in Pokemons Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Today's announcement was little more than a teaser trailer, but history has shown that we'll probably see something coming up on Japan's Sunday morning Japan show in the next couple weeks. Or maybe this'll stay hidden until E3, who knows anymore with Nintendo. It could be a Pokemon Direct coming next week, as far as anybody can tell. What we do know is that these GameBoy advanced classics, released roughly 10 years ago, are going to be given the 3DS treatment. Hopefully we'll also see the return of The Pokewalker or at least Pokemon that follow behind you, like in 2010's update of Pokemon Gold and Silver, HeartGold and SoulSilver.

Any excitement out there for this Pokemon announcement? Any fond memories of Ruby and Sapphire you wanna share? The comments below sound like a great place to do that.

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It's Been One Wii-k

That's right. I went there.

The Wii U has been out for a week, and I've already started referring it to the Wii, having pretty much phased the original console out of my head. Fact of the matter is this: Nintendo has caught up to the whole "HD Console" after 6 years of leaning on the Wii for as long as it could. In a single week, library of games not withstanding, it has completely surpassed it's competition.

Granted, with 6 years of planning, every failure would weigh them down infinitely more. Every "negative" is much heavier reason not to get it in this current environment. Where the longevity of the system lasts as updates to the XBOX and PS3 arrive is big cloud in the sky. However, one look at the market for iOS and Android games and the way they're being moved to the big PC with Windows 8, and I think you'll see that the trend here is moving away from power-hungry machines, and more or unique experiences. And with history as my only source, Microsoft and Sony are more interested in an arms race with the same old thing. Where the Wii was, in all fairness, a gimped experiment hamstrung by an effort to move away from high-cost consoles, the Wii U is a perfection on the Wii's attempts at bringing the new. Historically, consoles are always about either evolution or revolution, but the Wii U manages to strike both.

In case Nintendo's incredibly vague marketing has you confused, yes, it's a new console, not just a new controller.

Evolution comes from the improvements made in the realm of things that are a staple of modern online connectivity. When the Wii came out, nobody hard heard of an iPhone store, and even Steam was only starting to pick up... well, you get the idea. Digital storefronts were pretty weird and clunky all around, so it was easy to settle with Nintendo's hat-in-the-ring. Also that Wii shop channel music could calm a charging rhino. With the Wii U we have a much smoother interface, but like the 3DS, there's still an issue of just wanting the ability to browse based on categories. It's easier to get what you want and go, and at the end of the day you either check it obsessively like me or you wait until somebody tells you to get the bestest new game, and then you just go find it with the search. On the downside, WiiWare and Virtual Console titles are still tucked under the "Wii Channel," which straight up boots an emulation of the Wii, and forces you to go into the Wii Shop Channel to find what you want. It's clunky as hell. Considering how easy throwing GameCube games in the Wii was, I'm surprised they went so weird this time around. Also, when the DSiWare evolved into the 3DS eShop between generations, everything in the DSiWare rolled into the new shop. That is not true of the Wii U eShop. Here's to hoping that with a unified account system being found in Wii U's Nintendo ID, we can move towards something cross-platform, akin to Sony's excellent dealings between the Vita/PSP and the PS3 with the Sony Network. It wasn't right to have to buy Super Mario Bros. on the 3DS when I have it on the Wii, and as time goes, it's less and less excusable to continue that kind of practice.

I also wanted to mention that the fact that you can buy almost every retail game that comes out on Wii U in both a digital format as well as the standard physical is amazing. It's finally time people started catching up to services like Steam, who even then usually has to wait for some releases to finish making a PC port after the console launch. I don't foresee myself buying anything more than I have to in physical formats. Now you might be one of those "I like everything on the shelf," type people, and that's cool, I get that. But that doesn't take away from the fact that Nintendo, who had a bare-bones online presence with the Wii and DS, has suddenly caught up and blown the other guys out of the water. Sony getting a Day 1 digital release was cause for headlines at IGN. Now it's an every day thing, thanks to Nintendo's push.

The Wii U has tons of other neat features like a browser that you can access while your game is paused. As somebody who is dumb and likes to Google the answers to Subject 16's puzzles in Assassin's Creed, or the day-to-day guide for unlocking your social links in Persona 4, I bloody love this. The 3DS has it, and I know from experience that it's useful. You can also access TVii here at some point, which promises the ability to meld all your streaming services and TiVo together, but that feature's not up and running just yet. I think, once it is, the Wii U will be the only console you want to experience streaming media on. That is, of course, unless you're already using it for that.

I'll readily admit that I stopped using XBOX's ridiculously degenerating interface. Combined with requiring me to pay to use my XBOX to stream Netflx and Hulu, despite them being free to stream on literally every other device in existence, there was just nothing left that system could offer me. Achievements don't mean anything when it's that much weaker and plays the same games as my PC and PS3. Admittedly, I never had a problem with the PS3's interface, but let me tell you, there's something about that GamePad that just works. You only need the pad, because it doubles as a universal remote, making the process of setting up your nightly Star Trek: TNG session that much easier. Technically, you don't even need to do that if you're interested in just watching Netflix on the GamePad. It seamlessly transfers from big screen to little screen, which is great for when you're sitting at your computer away from the TV. I suppose if you had kids it could be useful to keep them off the big TV. Or (and let's all be brutally fucking honest here, people) if you're on the toilet and you don't want to stop watching 30 Rock.

Let's talk social, because the Wii U just may have done it the best damned way possible. The XBOX has taken great strides for online play with your friends, and admittedly they still do it best. What the Wii U does do, however, is create a sense of community around it's games. When you boot the Wii U on, your GamePad hosts the Wii-like tile menu, while your screen is overrun with Mii's surrounding game icons. Each one of those Mii's is another person out there in the Nintendosphere, all of whom leave comments on each game's Miiverse page. Miiverse is kind of like Twitter, Facebook, a little bit of DeviantArt, and Reddit all rolled into one surprisingly cohesive package. Except here, the people are (generally) better, there's no advertisements, and nobody can ruin your day with downvotes!

This is what happens when you say you liked Mass Effect 3's ending on Reddit.

You can load up the Miiverse and search for a game you like, or a game you're interested in. On that board, you can view posts based on tags, or just run down the list to see what's up. There's conversations taking place, people can post screenshots directly from their games, and you can even leave drawings or hand-written messages. It's insane the amount of talent people have been showing off in the Miiverse. Tons of sketch art and scratch art for all your favorite games. You can follow anybody and see whenever they post something, so if you've picked up on a few awesome artists, you can catch every surprising masterpiece they post.

The Miiverse doesn't just stop at being it's own thing, though. It can be implemented into every and any game. In Nintendo Land, it's there to talk about what you thought of a game or post your high score. In New Super Mario Bros. Wii U, it will pop up during certain benchmarks to ask you to express yourself, sometimes in colorful ways. It's going to be a non-issue for some people, but I find it really enjoyable. And whatever moderation Nintendo has is doing an alright job. I've only seen one poorly drawn scrotum all week! Once the Miiverse hits mobile phones and PC, I honestly seeing it be the answer to Facebook for people who just like games, and as a way to keep up with what your friends are doing. The only other competition would be Steam's new community that's only been around for a couple of months. With a few more improvements, and a couple of firmware updates, there's no reason Miiverse couldn't continue to grow into something, well...

My only real beef with the Wii U itself is that they've seemed to take up Sony's plan of being slow as hell whenever you get a new game. Never mind the hour-long "Day 1" download, booting up a game that needs any updates installed is way more painful than it needs to be. We're talking upwards of 5 or 6 minutes. I'm hoping something down the line will help ease those installations because they are rough.

Something that's going to make the Wii U a tough sell to a lot of people is "I've already got a PS3 and/or Xbox, why do I need this?" I don't know what it will take to convince you to get one. What it comes down to is this: Nintendo consoles have always been seen as only profitable for Nintendo. The Wii U changes that. There's no reason not to port anything on the Wii U. There's no weird tiny discs, there's no technological ravine between it and the other consoles, and the digital front is heavy. You're already making games for XBOX and PS3, just throw in another port. On top of that, the Wii U is superior in both hardware and software to the XBOX. At this point it's PS3 and Wii U to get your bases covered. If you're one of those people who has just condemned themselves to a life of thinking "I don't like Nintendo or anything they do," well then there's really nothing that can be said to convince you otherwise. I can tell you why it's great, but you'll find an excuse not to believe me. And that's true of any console, not just Nintendo.

How I imagine anybody who uses the phrase "fanboy" to try to win an argument.

There are more ways to play games, better ways to stream videos, and awesome ways to connect with your friends and communities. There is a lot of potential here. With the new consoles from the other guys inevitably on the future, I'm curious to see what all happens in the next year or two. Even just looking at the horse power behind my computer and my XBox and PS3, I'm positive we're not going to see -that- drastic of a tech shift; the Wii U will not be another Wii. Plus, with more "normal" ways of gaming, it'll be easier to convince people to make games for the system. The Pro Controller bridges the gap between the Wii-Remotes craziness, and the fact that only one GamePad can connect to your system. I think the longevity is there, but it's really dependent on how Nintendo continues to evolve the platform. Also looking ahead, don't be surprised to see Sony try to integrate the Vita better, or to see Microsoft's push it's "Glass" down your throat just as much as it does Bing.

If I sound like I'm overenthusiastic about the Wii U, it's because I probably am. Maybe it's this new Bupropion I'm taking, but I really do like this system. I won't deny my love of Nintendo, but there are two things to understand about said love. 1: I give everything a fair shake and a fair chance. I really do. Ask me about the Vita, I'll tell you I absolutely love the thing. 2: There's a reason I love Nintendo the way that I do. They can be the most infuriatingly stubborn company, but when they want to do something, and really get it right, nobody can do it like they do. And while the technology might not be 100%, and a new console should probably happen sooner rather than later to stay 'caught up' with the competition, I think the Wii U really is a new way of playing, and for the better. It's versatile in a way that no other console is. It's 'new' without being something so drastic as just the Wii-motes. It is, at the risk of sounding hopelessly glassy-eyed, the future.

But hey that's just me. Do you have any questions about the Wii U I can maybe answer? Do you have your own thoughts on your console? I'll be talking software down the road here, I wanted to focus more on the 'Out of Box" experiences you'll be having for now. I've spread myself a bit thin on games... 6 on the Wii U alone, not to mention Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Persona 4: The Golden, Professor Layton: The Miracle Mask, Virtue's Last Hope, Crashmo and holy fucking hell I need to stop buying games. I also need a month or five off of work to catch up. Hopefully this all means I"ll have more to talk about, as more game-specific discussions (let's not call them "reviews," per se) will start coming down the pipe. I look forward to conversation!

Oh and look, I have a Twitter account! Aren't I novel?

-Randy

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