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Jan Ochoa's Top 10 Games of 2019

Who knew I'd cry over a duck casting a spell this year?

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Jan Ochoa is a Video Producer for Giant Bomb Dot Com. He presses a lot of buttons to make videos happen and sometimes has time to press buttons to play video games. He is currently wanted for committing several food crimes this year. Beware, he may be in possession of a massive key.

YO! HOW HAVE I MADE THREE OF THESE NOW?

I tend to just drown myself in work for various reasons, whether it's to keep my mind off of things or because I generally enjoy it. I don’t often let myself slow down to appreciate what’s happened or what I've done and that is a definite fault of mine. But these end of the year write-ups help me remember the year in games and also the year that was 2019.

And holy poop, 2019 was an awesome year. I carved out a small pocket of the site to battle the community, manned a 24 hour Extra Life stream as a single producer, went to PAX West and hosted a panel with Abby, committed several food crimes with Ben, and a lot of other moments in between. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I rarely do so--TOOT TOOT.

Anyway! Let’s get to some hot list action!

BONUS: Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid

DRAGON. ARMOR. TRINI. W H A A A T ? I’ve gone on to gab about how much I enjoy the Power Rangers before, but Battle for the Grid was such a pleasant surprise. A surprise in that the developers kept improving the game! I remember thinking that the initial release was kind of bare bones, but as the months progressed they were adding more and more to it! A great release for a Power Rangers fan.

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BONUS BONUS: FINAL FANTASY XIV

Everyone makes New Year’s Resolutions that inevitably fall apart within the first couple of months of the year. Some people want to read more, work out, or pick up a new hobby. I didn’t set any this year. Instead, around August I had the idea that maybe I should go DEEP into a game not knowing anything. Then I thought it’d be completely possible to get through years worth of content over the course of a couple of weekends… sadly, that was not the case. I did, however, finally get a Chocobo! I still want to carve out time to get through all the expansions and eventually get to the Shadowbringers stuff that came out this year. I NEED TO EXPERIENCE THE NIER RAID FOR MYSELF. Also, now that I’m on the proper server that the Giant Bomb Free Company is on, maybe I can beg for a spot on the squad.

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BONUS BONUS BONUS: Pokemon TCGO

I don’t think that I have an addictive personality or that I have a problem with buying things, but then I finally dipped my toes into the Pokemon TCG. I believe I’ve mentioned in a bunch of places that my barber, Jan, has been trying to get me to play for forever. Well for whatever reason I finally decided to take the plunge, AND MY FINANCES HAVE HATED ME. Your boy is broke 90% of the time, but after I temporarily picked up the habit of buying cards, I was broke all of the time. In my short stint with the physical card game, I had a lot of fun, but had to cut back before I went too deep into it. I do still enjoy popping online on the app and getting in a couple of quick games here and there, the best part about that is that’s FREE.

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10. DOTA Underlords

I cannot believe that I got into this, and that this served as a gateway drug for me slowly getting into DOTA II. Auto-chess was an interesting genre that popped up this year, a game that had NOTHING to do with chess other than a grid, but that also kind of behaved like a deck-building game. Games of DOTA Underlords would run too long initially to be a quick “phone” game, but that was my main mode of playing Underlords. I would lose plenty of hours of sleep playing while my phone was burning my hands. I haven’t played much since the initial release hype wave, but I’ll occasionally pop in when they roll out a big update.

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9. Control

I have a very weird relationship with this game. The main character, Jesse, looks exactly like one of my former bosses that I loved, so it was hard to see Jesse go through all the rough parts of the game. But once I got over that hump I fell in love with the style of Control. From the level design, extra collectibles, or even to the title treatment of entering a new area, it was very clear that Remedy paid a lot of attention to the littlest of details. There were definite moments that I had trouble with, but with all the intrigue, I found myself pushing forward.

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8. What the Golf?

Out of all the games that came out in the initial Apple Arcade hype, What the Golf? is the game that stuck with me the most. I couldn't help but be entertained by the little gags in each new level, or even the different hole-in-one lines. It’s also pretty damn ambitious to cram in so many references to other games, and then to take it a step farther and straight-up switch a golf game to copy the reference material.

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7. Luigi’s Mansion 3

You know a thing I’ve noticed over recent years while playing games? I’m often not smiling while playing them. That wasn’t the case with Luigi’s Mansion 3. Just like Gooigi is oozing with goo, the game oozes with charm. I’ve never played any of the previous entries in the franchise, so I didn’t mind the linear approach to the level design with each hotel floor. It made it easier for me to play, because I’d try and tackle a floor or two every other night. The aiming and tank-like controls can get frustrating though, especially when some of the bosses have long sequences that you have to wait to reactivate. But there was enough spirit in there to keep me from checking out.

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6. Indivisible

What a pretty looking and fun game. I remember seeing a trailer for this earlier in the year, and thought it looked brilliant. But there was a small detail about it that I couldn’t quite nail at the time, but it wound up sticking around in my head. After I started playing through it and meeting the various companions, I realized what that small detail was--all these characters LOOK LIKE ME. THERE ARE BROWN PEOPLE IN THIS. TIGHT. Okay, maybe not a one for one appearance wise, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a cast of characters, and feeling this sense of warmth, because they looked like me. Besides the design and writing of all the characters, this was a very rewarding game to get the hang of. The pseudo-active-time-input-based combat was awesome once I got the hang of it. Oh! I know that there is a character that looks like a certain East Coaster, but Naga Rider’s helmet looks big enough to accommodate my hair.

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5. Baba is You

Baba is Hard

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4. Outer Wilds

Thanks to my partner, I'm exposed to many books I would never think to read myself. One of those books recently was Thomas Hardy’s “Jude the Obscure." It’s about a guy named Jude and a bunch of tragic events keep happening to him, but he trucks on and keeps going with his life. I don’t want to get too deep into it, but I walked away from it thinking that it’s an encapsulation of the phrase “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey,” just keep going and LIVE life.

That is what Outer Wilds was to me, a journey of just going because it had to be done.

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3. Kingdom Hearts III

THE ABSOLUTE AUDACITY and the BALLS that Tetsuya Nomura and company have to finally put a proper numbered game out after so many years is amazing. It blows my mind that a casual fan of the series may have missed all of the releases that have moved the plot forward (and back and forward and up and down and left) since KH2. I am still bothered by how some of the line reads, or how they’re paced. BUT I AM STILL CAUGHT IN THE DAMN GAME’S GRASP. I’m not gonna go to bat for how the game plays or looks, but I will try and swing for the fences for the big moments. The moment of finally reuniting Aqua and Ventus, Dark Riku coming back, the fallen keyblade masters coming to your rescue, the Xigbar reveal, the after-credits sequence with Sora in Shibuya, DONALD DUCK BEING THE MOST POWERFUL MAGE, AND THEN LINGERING WILL. LINGERING WILL.

I think I need help, my heart aches.

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2. Fire Emblem Three Houses

It’s taken me a while to nail down the genre of games that gets me goin’, but I think it’s turn-based tactics games. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance just might be in my top three of all time. But it looks like we’re never going to get another one of those, so I’ve had to turn to other franchises to get my fix. I’ve always enjoyed the Fire Emblem series for how punishing and rewarding the missions can be. I would dread possibly losing a character to a bad choice. Fire Emblem Three Houses though, doesn’t scratch that itch of a tactics game. It can quickly get way too easy if you’re focusing on your own house and not recruiting in. Halfway through the game, Lysithea was wiping out whole armies on her own. I'll admit that may be based on my own user error in not picking the hardest difficulty right out the gate. All of that said, do you know why this game is still so high on my list, despite being bummed about the gameplay? I LOVE MY KIDS. I can’t imagine everyone else’s playthrough with the Blue Lions or Black Eagles because they all seem like such downers. The Golden Deer started as a breakfast-club-recess-power-rangers-esque mishmash of kids, but over time I started to care a lot about their well being outside of battles. I relished the time we spent eating, teaching, and having tea with each other. I never thought my ragtag group of kids would start to pull at my heartstrings. My students flipped the script and taught me about rising above where you come from and taking agency in your future, all the while having casual hijinks happen in the background.

OH and also the music that kicks in during Chapter 21? WHEW BABY.

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2B. NieR: Automata

Yo, have y’all heard about this shit???

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1. Pokémon Sword and Shield

Come on y’all. It’s ME! As the host of the HIT Giant Bomb program, Pokémonday Night Combat, we all knew this was coming. This game had a lot of negative buzz leading to release, and a lot of it was genuine criticism. It’s a bummer that you can’t catch them all, or transfer your existing pokémon in. It’s a bummer that many of the moves are still using old animations. It is also a big bummer that the campaign is super easy. But despite all of that, I still had an exceptionally fun time with the game. I’ve had a blast wasting hours in the wild area, and doing max raids with folks from the community. The biggest thing for me, though, is that the competitive side of Pokémon just feels so much easier to get into. Building teams truly feels like a collaborative process, and the introduction of dynamaxing has added a neat dynamic with team composition because of the additional stat boosts. I wish there were even more new pokémon, and variations of existing ones from this generation, but I loved the designs of all of them. So there you go, Pokémon, you fucking got me again.

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47 Comments

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captubaplayer

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Great list Jan!

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aiomon

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This is a fun list. Look forward to getting into my first Pokemon game after boxing day!

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MocBucket62

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Edited By MocBucket62

Love the list Jan! Heck yeah with that Fire Emblem love! And I love your Baba is You description ha!

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Efesell

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Vinco welcomes you at any time Jan.

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guip1408

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Great list!

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zorak

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Edited By zorak

Jantastic.

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Sessh

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Nice list, Jan.

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SamStrife

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FEAR THE DEER

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madlaughter

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TOOT AWAY JAN

Great list, Jan. So glad you're a part of GB in 2019. +1 for the perfect Baba write up. Glad to see that FE:TH struck a chord. Black Eagles for life.

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hollitz

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Finally, someone brave enough to put Kingdom Hearts in the top 3.

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csl316

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So bummed Indivisible isn't out on the Switch yet. A pretty dumb reason to avoid a game I've been hyped for for years, but here we are.

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Rohay

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KH made a staff Top 10 This is why Jan the GOAT

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Haz_Kaj

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Fair play to Jan for liking Kh3 and Pokemon SS but neither of these games belong anywhere near an overall GOTY list. Kh3 especially I found to be a very mediocre game.

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thefizz

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I'm also kind of a sucker for turn based tactics games. Final Fanatsy Tactics. Tactics Advance, XCOM, XCOM 2: War of the Chosen. I never played a Fire Emblem game. I feel like I should start.

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jeremyf

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Hot Chocolate

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lethalki11ler

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lethalki11ler  Online

Can't wait to see what you think of Shadowbringers, I had the same issue of having to go through the entire game before getting there and honestly, once I started treating it like a proper numbered FF game it became a lot more bearable and I've had an amazing time (Heavensward in particular was INCREDIBLE).

Happy new year Jan! Hopefully there's more of you coming on the site!

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mrfluke

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Ima just say it, Jan brings some truly energetic enthusiasm and humility to the West side of GB, he's like that friend from highschool that your so happy that he's still the same cool dude.

Hope we continue to see your presence on GB West.

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MikeLemmer

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Well Jan, if you're looking for a goal to aim for on the FF14 stuff, the big 5.2 patch with the next part of the Eden raid is scheduled to hit in mid-February sometime. If that sounds a bit too tight for you, the next part of the Nier raid should land sometime in June/July.

And not sure if you're referring to just getting into the Free Company itself or getting into one of our Savage raid groups, but if you like the thought of violent online marching band, Savage raiding may be for you.

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abadwind

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I cracked up at the 2b

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brunomafioletti

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Edited By brunomafioletti

love to see you enjoyed the pokémon go Jan

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Musubi

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Respect for Kingdom Hearts on the list Jan.

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terium

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I audibly laughed at the 2B sneak attack. Such a good list. Love having you at GB West, Jan. You bring so much to the site.

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st0z

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Hell yeah dude Nier Automata 2019

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MaxxCanti

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Yes! Jan has the best taste at Giant Bomb!

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TadThuggish

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Jan Ochoa's Top 10 Thomas Hardy Novels

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LyndBako

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damn, pokemon at #1? Never saw that coming

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CaptainInvictus

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I have a feeling Indivisible is going to be pretty much entirely skipped over this year on people's GOTY lists and that makes me sad, that game has so much heart and is so much fun, even if it's not perfect. The music is glorious, the story is actually pretty solid, and the visuals of course are staggeringly good.

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Dixavd

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KINGDOM HEARTS

KINGDOM HEARTS

KINGDOM HEARTS

(rest of the list is great too - glad to see Fire Emblem and Pokemon appear so high)

KINGDOM HEARTS

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JoeDangerous

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Being able to love games you know are flawed is a great thing to enforce on the internet in 2019. So many people come at opinions with a sharpening stone, but I like being able to hold up this baby and say, "IT'S NOT PERFECT BUT I LIKE IT". That's why I can totally get the Pokemon inclusion, despite not landing on the same endpoint.

I think I'll be championing Chocobo Mystery Dungeon: EVERYBUDDY for the same reason. That poor child is basically hobbling down the street but I gave my son the best pair of Irma's talons I could find.

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Farkas

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NIER GOTY FOREVER YORHA FOREVER

BECOME AS GODS

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Mayor_McCheese

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The NieR raid is rad. Shadowbringers itself is also probably the best modern FF.

A solid list!

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Smeat

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Good list Jan. The 2B gag was also funny.

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#1 Giant Bomb Staff Member I met this year - Jan!

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UnsolvedParadox

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Great list Jan, Pokemon remains undefeated!

Also I completely missed out on that Power Rangers game, it sounds wild & I'll be checking it out.

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Onemanarmyy

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This is one of those lists that make you realize how diverse the amount of games are nowadays. GOTY used to spread around the same 30-ish games from outlet to outlet but it feels like you could genuinely come away with 100+ different games nowadays.

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gamerpigeon

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Great List Jan

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Lord_Punch

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Jan, play Final Fantasy XIV.

Jan, convince the other Giant Bomb peoples to play Final Fantasy XIV.

For the love of God, everyone play Final Fantasy XIV.

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Genessee

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Indivisible is so good for that and the music too!

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hassun

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What is this... NieR:Automata you speak of?

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MarriottPlayer

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I appreciate how much Jan's voice comes through here. Great list!

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Agent_Eli

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I have. I have heard about that shit.

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Klager

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I didn't even know Jan was brown, let alone that Divisible actually came out, so thanks for the reminder! Loved the styyyle the first time I saw it, but that feels like ages ago.

And I apparently need to play Outer Wilds. I was expecting Outer Worlds to nab a few of those spots earlier in the year.

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posterguy

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I always loved Jan until like two years ago when he said he peed next to some Pokémon guy (I don’t invest as much Time in this as a lot of people so Idk). he Lost a lot of respect for that Imho.

I am trying to get it back as I feel he is a cool dude but I just have such different tastes... someday bro.

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pweidman

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First, Yes Jan, I have heard of that shit! Second what a great write up, very clever and wildly entertaining. Is it possible for anyone to be more charming than Jan Ochoa? I think not.

Keep up the great work duder. <3

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eddiephlash

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This is a good fucking list, Jan.