Category: Video Games

My thoughts on the February 13, 2019 Nintendo Direct

My thoughts on the February 13, 2019 Nintendo Direct

How sweet of Nintendo to give us an early Valentine’s Day present this year!

We’ve got games, games and more games to discuss out of a brand new Nintendo Direct.

I’ll be talking about the larger, more exciting subjects (to me) in detail before lumping the rest together for a quick mop-up at the end. So if you want to follow along, feel free! I’ll try to include individual trailer links where possible.

That said, let’s a go!


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Image courtesy of Engadget

Super Mario Maker 2

Oh man, if there was any reason to own a Wii U, it was Super Mario Maker.

When I got mine, it was in a Mario Maker bundle that included this neat Mario Amiibo:

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Ain’t he the cutest?

I spent hours making levels on the game pad, and the sheer amount of creativity oozing out of all corners of the Nintendo universe during its time in the spotlight was something to behold!

Plus it made for excellent YouTube fodder. Watching the Game Grumps play Ross’s hard levels, the endless hours of Beard Bros. fan levels

Can’t wait to see that come back in vogue.

While I eventually moved on with Splatoon, Super Mario 3D World and Twilight Princess HD, my Wii U was undoubtedly a Super Mario Maker machine.

So seeing the Mario Maker 2 trailer featuring all kinds of new additions like sloped platforms, moving pathways and the Mario 3 angry sun was really hype to say the least. Especially for a portable system!

Given the first game’s pedigree and the sheer amount of improvements for an already creative powerhouse, I’ll be more than happy to drop some money on this come June.


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Image courtesy of Nintendo UK

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

There was a decent amount of RPG news for fans to soak up in this Direct.

Dragon Quest had Builders 2 — even though I forgot the first game was a thing — and 11S Definitive Edition. I haven’t personally played a DQ game, but 11 looks like a fun, polished game with a cute 16-bit mode.

If nothing else, I’ll be expecting the protagonist as a Smash Bros. DLC.

The original Final Fantasy 7 and 9 Switch ports got some recognition, as did Chocobo Mystery Dungeon. Plus Square Enix has Oninaki coming, which looks pretty.

Plus who can argue with a Symphony of the Night-inspired platforming RPG in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night?

However.

My heart belongs to Fire Emblem.

So Jason was a happy boy seeing more Fire Emblem: Three Houses in this Direct.

The segment kicked off with a lore-filled cinematic about the titular three houses in this new continent, the customizable player protagonist’s place in the story and more.

The leaders of the three houses — Edelgard of the Adrestian Empire, Dimitri of the Kingdom of Faerghus and Claude of the Leicester Alliance — all got some attention too. You only get to choose one, which will presumably branch into three campaigns.

Only this time we just have to buy one game!

The most interesting thing about Three Houses is that it looks like a high school anime, filled with vaguely Harry Potter-esque sensibilities and Fire Emblem mechanics.

Rather than a tactician, you are a teacher with students making up your ‘army.’

All of the battles (presumably before a real war breaks out) are considered training assignments, despite featuring such tasks as “quashing rebellions.”

In general the premise and scope of the game seems very interesting compared to most Fire Emblem titles. I’m excited to see where they go with it!

… I’m also excited to see Intelligent Systems announce a Heroes banner with the three leader characters sometime before the July 26 release date.

You know it’ll happen.


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Deltarune

Ostensibly, there’s nothing to say about this game that I haven’t already said. It doesn’t need a whole section here.

But I adore Deltarune, and it broke into my top games of 2018 list. So if you haven’t played it yet and own a Switch, just get the game on February 28.

Do it, nerds.


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Image courtesy of Engadget

Link’s Awakening

I heard vague rumors floating around that a top-down Zelda game would be announced at this Direct, but I wasn’t expecting this to come crashing into the spotlight.

Now that I know about it, I’m pretty damn excited!

There are nothing but good things said about Link’s Awakening, and as a fan of Link Between Worlds-style Zelda games it’ll be sweet to finally play it.

I know the original 1993 GameBoy version has been available on multiple platforms for years, but I’ve never gotten around to it.

Now I can justify putting it off by saying I waited for this brand new experience in an absolutely adorable Pikmin-esque art style!

The ‘2019’ release date is vague, but Marin humming the game’s theme over the end card sent a shiver down my spine. So I’m ready to wait for you, Wind Fish.


Those were my high points in today’s Direct, but there were plenty of other games spotlighted!

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate got a lame teaser for it’s upcoming 3.0.0 update where we found out nothing, other than Amiibo coming for the Belmonts and Pokémon Trainer.

Updates were announced for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and Starlink, the latter featuring more Star Fox characters. I don’t own either, but still neat.

Demos were announced for Yoshi’s Crafted World, Daemon X Machina and Tetris 99.

… The last of which being a battle royale-styled Tetris game? I’m definitely going to have to try that and see if it’s as weird as it sounds.

Hellblade, Dead by Daylight and Rune Factory 4 are all getting ports for the Switch (plus Rune Factory 5 was announced). I’m not sure I’ll have the time to get to those over everything else, but I’ve heard great things about them all.

Mortal Kombat 11 and a remasted Assassin’s Creed 3 (from what I understand the best of the series) are coming to Switch.

Yet there were games I didn’t particularly care for, like Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, Box Box + Box Girl (basically my TI-83 calculator game), Disney Tsum Tsum Festival and GRID Autosport car racing among them.

But that said, it’s hard to say there’s not something here for everyone, even if they aren’t for me!

… Unless you’re a fan of Bayonetta. Because Bayonetta 3 only got a brief ‘in progress’ mention after PlatinumGames‘ Astral Chains was announced.

Still, the future of the Nintendo Switch continues to be promising!

Which games stood out most to you in today’s Direct? Let me know, I’d love to start up some conversations!

Family Fire Emblem-y love is in the air

Family Fire Emblem-y love is in the air

Ah Valentine’s Day. What a lovely day of loving loveable people.

Except for those of us who don’t have a significant other to spoil in that romantic kind of way.

Like me!

For us, there’s only one way to celebrate this most commercial day of love:

Playing Fire Emblem Heroes. Naturally.


GreilHeroic Exemplar

  • Faithful Axe (Might = 14, Range = 1)
    • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance +3 during combat.
  • Aether (Cooldown = 5)
    • Treats foe’s Defense and Resistance as if reduced by 50 percent during combat. Restores Health = half the damage dealt.
  • Fury 4 (A Skill)
    • Grants Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance +4. After combat, deals 8 damage to unit.
  • Wary Fighter (B Skill)
    • If unit’s Health ≥ 50 percent, unit and foe cannot make a follow-up attack.
  • Armor March (C Skill)
    • At start of the turn, if unit is adjacent to an armored ally, both units can move one extra space (that turn only, does not stack).

SorenAddled Strategist

  • Blárblooms (Might = 12, Range = 2)
    • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance +3 during combat.
  • Rally Attack/Speed (Range = 1)
    • Grants Attack and Speed +6 to target ally for one turn.
  • Attack/Resistance Bond (A Skill)
    • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Attack and Resistance +5 during combat.
  • Speed Feint (B Skill)
    • If a Rally Assist skill is used by unit or targets unit, inflicts Speed -7 on foes in cardinal directions of unit through their next actions.
  • Resistance Opening (C Skill)
    • At start of the turn, grants Resistance +6 to ally with the highest Resistance for one turn (excluding unit).

MistPurest Spirit

  • Gronnblooms (Might = 12, Range = 2)
    • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance +3 during combat.
  • Rally Defense/Resistance (Range = 1)
    • Grants Defense and Resistance +6 to target ally for one turn.
  • Swift Sparrow (A Skill)
    • If unit initiates combat, grants Attack and Speed +4 during combat.
  • Resistance Feint (B Skill)
    • If a Rally Assist skill is used by unit or targets unit, inflicts Resistance -7 on foes in cardinal directions of unit through their next actions.
  • Green Tome Valor (C Skill)
    • While unit lives, all green tome allies on team net 2x Skill Points (only highest value applied, does not stack).

IkeStalwart Heart

  • Heart’s Blade (Might = 14, Range = 1)
    • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance +3 during combat.
  • Radiant Aether (Cooldown = 4)
    • During combat, treats foe’s Defense and Resistance as if reduced by 50 percent. Restores Health = 50 percent of damage dealt.
  • Distant Counter (A Skill)
    • Unit can counterattack regardless of foe’s range.
  • Special Fighter (B Skill)
    • At the start of combat, if unit’s Health ≥ 50 percent, grants Special Attack cooldown charge +1 to unit and inflicts -1 on foe per attack (only highest value applied, does not stack).
  • Even Speed Wave (C Skill)
    • At the start of even-numbered turns, grants Speed +6 to unit and adjacent allies for one turn (bonus granted to unit even if no allies are adjacent).

Right off the bat, I think it’s worth noting that I vastly preferred the approach taken by last year’s Valentine’s Day banner.

There we had Roy and Lilina as a romantic pairing, with their fathers cutely handling the potential relationship in different ways.

With this banner, Ike and his sister reunite with their father. As sweet as it is, I can’t speak to the impact of the character relationships having never played the Radiant games.

Plus Valentine’s Day is usually about romantic love more than family love, so the choice to add Greil here seems a bit bizarre. Why not for Father’s Day?

That being said, Greil — namesake of The Greil Mercenaries, is an interesting character pull.

He’s also easily the best unit on this banner, despite being yet another armored axe-wielder. That power-crept Fury and weapon provide +7 to each stat when next to an ally, and if that ally is armored he also gets to move an extra space.

The other three don’t work quite as well with the same weapon gimmick in my opinion, as Mist and Soren are both different flavors of the new Feint/Rally skill combo and Ike is another long-range red armor.

He’s the second best thing on the banner because Black Knight is a broken unit archetype, but that’s almost a given when Ike is involved.

I kind of feel like I should have used my orbs to invest more into the Duma banner, considering I got neither Duma nor Tiki.

But I can’t be mad because Intelligent Systems gave me a very nice Valentine’s Day present:

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Both at 3 percent? Sure I might be a little salty that Mist and Greil are in the same color pool, but this kind of luck is unheard of for me.

If there’s anything I can complain about, it’s the genetic likelihood that Ike and his sister each have unique hair colors from their brown-haired father…

It’s almost like the game developers wanted cool hair colors and didn’t focus too much on continuity.

Or the Ike family has some weird recessive genes. I suppose.

The two-year anniversary events have given me the chance to save up a bunch of orbs, so with my luck I’ll save up to see who else comes around next.

Speaking of saving orbs, how about that new Paralogue chapter?

Segue: Nailed.


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While the aesthetic of the Valentine’s Day maps aren’t my favorite, the actual Paralogue story offers something refreshingly new.

Instead of leading off with the “Order of Heroes goes to get money or food” cliché, this Paralogue doesn’t mention you at all.

It starts with the Greil Mercenaries lamenting Ike’s complaints over his outfit as he slows them down.

Even though it’s kind of what he always wears.

Everyone is shocked to see Greil alive, when he shows up, and It’s really quite nice seeing Ike and Mist so happy to see their father.

Then a few battles pass and we get this scene where Soren is being hella gay for Ike.

So I guess there is romance on this banner?

Everything goes rather smooth until the final battle, which ends with a slightly awkward transition of Greil suggesting that the Order of Heroes surrendered after you defeat them.

I can let it slide, as that moves into another nice scene of the children trying to get their father back.

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D’aww! It nearly crosses the line into being sickly sweet, but I love the character moment and references to Ike’s maturity over two games.

By trimming the usual fat of Anna being vaguely reprehensible as a leader, Intelligent Systems made for a really nice alternate universe story that I quite enjoyed more than most Paralogues.

… Granted, it did make me wonder why Ike and his family got this special treatment when, for example, we had the Hoshidan mother Mikoto brought back to life in Heroes not too long ago with no fan fare.

But hey. All I continue to look for is a return to some new Sacred Stones characters considering we haven’t seen any since before last Valentine’s Day. I’m a simple man.


There we have it, Valentine’s Day 2019 in Fire Emblem Heroes.

The banner units might just be okay, but that’s made up for by a very nice underlying premise.

Those of you who play the game might be wondering why I didn’t do some kind of joint ‘update banner’ post to talk about the Bane/Boon system, new weapon refines, Aether Raids changes and Dragon flowers.

Well… Mostly because I’m kind of burnt out on the mechanical stuff in Heroes. At the moment I’m playing the game for new characters, even if I appreciate things that have been added.

So I think I’ll skip out on some of the update info for a bit and keep my writing focused on banners, just to keep the game more fun for me.

That said, let me know what you think about these holiday units, and tell me who you want to see in the game next!

Echoes of strength

Echoes of strength

In the age of the ancients, two sibling Gods shared a near unbreakable bond.

However, a disagreement at the core of their ideologies led to a schism. The sister aimed to create a world rich with blessings of the Earth, peace and pleasure. The brother felt strength was all that mattered, and wanted a world full of powerful subjects.

To the south of the continent Valentia, the sister founded a kingdom called Zofia: Rich with live. A kingdom which, in its overindulgence after her disappearance, became rife with greedy, entitled rulers and passive farmers who struggled as the lands died.

To the north, the brother founded a kingdom called Rigel: Cold, calloused and infertile. A kingdom which, fallen into the trappings of power, became militarized and unkind. His power gave way to madness, and the pious subjects of that fallen deity sought to conquer all.

This is the tale of Mila and Duma, a story underlying the plot thrusts for both Alm and Celica in Fire Emblem: Gaiden (and its recent remake, Echoes: Shadows of Valentia).

Now in Heroes, you too can summon yourself an endlessly powerful god of war, fallen from grace, who also happens to be an inexplicably handsome daddy that transforms into a dragon monster with wacky eyes.

Just like every.

Other.

Fire Emblem villain.

… Except for Sacred Stones which had a cool demon guy instead.


DumaGod of Strength

  • Fell Breath (Might = 16, Range = 1)
    • Grants Attack +3. At the start of combat, if foe’s Health < 100 percent, grants Attack and Resistance +6 during combat and foe cannot make a follow-up attack. If foe’s Range = 2, calculates damage using the lower defensive stat.
  • Draconic Aura (Cooldown = 3)
    • Boosts damage by 30 percent of unit’s Attack.
  • Defense/Resistance Solo (A Skill)
    • If unit is not adjacent to an ally, grants Defense and Resistance +6 during combat.
  • Bold Fighter (B Skill)
    • If unit initiates combat, grants Special Attack cooldown charge +1 per unit’s attack, and unit makes a guaranteed follow-up attack (does not stack).
  • Upheaval (C Skill)
    • At the start of turn 1, deals seven damage to all foes, and if defending in Aether Raids during anima season, destroys offensive structures within the same column (does not affect indestructable structures).

So I heard a rumor that every Mythic Hero was going to be some kind of deity in the Fire Emblem canon.

If that’s the case, I think I might try to provide some deep lore diving into each whenever a Mythic Hero banner comes along.

Even though the top of this banner technically says he’s a Legendary Hero?

But whatever. Semantics.

Let’s talk about Duma, shall we?

As our second colorless dragon and fourth armored dragon, Duma has a strong legacy to live up to.

The guy’s gimmick ties back to his Upheaval, which damages all enemies right away. Once they’re damaged, he gains an Attack and Resistance buff. Then if he’s alone, he instantly gains more Defense and Resistance.

Add all that to the increased chance of a powerful Special Attack and you have yourself a hard-hitting tank who faces no weakness on the weapon triangle.

… Just weaknesses from dragon-killing weapons like the Falchion or armor-killing weapons like Armorslayers.

Also he loses a good chunk of that benefit to his stats should the opposing team have a healer.

But hey, he blows up buildings in Aether Raids!

So all-and-all, I’d say he’s got some well-balanced benefits and detriments.

His overall status also increases due to great synergy with other armored dragons like Grima, Tiki and Myrrh. So he’s easily worth a summon for powerful team building.

In fact, that Legendary Tiki he melds so well with is also on this banner. She’s alongside:

Unlike a lot of the other Legendary Hero banners, Duma’s entourage splits equally for me.

I have every green and red unit besides Laegjarn.

Yet I don’t have a single one of the blue or colorless units.

So my targets are narrowed, particularly focused on Duma and Tiki.

If any of you remember my Legendary Tiki banner review, you’d know I was super into her. A powerful alt for one of my favorite characters who eluded me all those months ago, and I’ve been waiting for her to rear her head again.

Hopefully I can summon her and the God of Strength, which would give me a perfect  foursome of armored dragons.

Unfortunately those aspirations cost orbs.

… And I wasted a whole bunch of orbs on the hot springs banner, only to get a stupid regular Elise instead of Sakura.

So I turn to the Duma Battle Map to get my orbs stash up:

 

I never have anything particularly interesting to say about these things, other than the fact that they’re cool references to stages like the final map of Echoes here. So I’ll mostly make them quick asides from now on.

Especially since my time is better spent gathering orbs to feed my addiction.

Or to be honest, playing a certain other game which received a new character today.

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So there we have it, my thoughts on the Duma banner.

I know this whole post was a bit more scatterbrained than usual for my formulaic FEH pieces, but hopefully it was all worth my attempts to shake things up a little. All things being said, I was actually more excited for Duma here than I was for the hot springs units last week.

Let me know what you think of Duma in the comments below, and weigh in on whether you think we’ll get his sister Mila as our next Mythic Hero or not.

Personally I’m betting Intelligent Systems will keep us waiting.

Just like they’ll keep us waiting for more regular Valentia units.

An impossible choice

An impossible choice

I want to put more effort into the post with my thoughts on classes this semester, so I’ll be saving that for tomorrow.

However, today I’m going to sort of ruin that by spoiling my thoughts on the class I’m looking forward to most.

All in service of discussing an existential crisis it has delivered unto me.

While most of my classes are wrapping up my Comm major, Psych minor and Honors distinction, one in particular stands out as being taken purely for myself.

An American Studies class: Gaming in American Society.

I’m no stranger to the American Studies department, as I did take an AMST course on  American Character during sophomore year. Yet that was mainly to fill a general education requirement.

I took Gaming in American Society simply because I adore gaming. Plus I have 21 years of experience in American society, I suppose.

After one class I’m already convinced taking it (as per the recommendation of my friend Mimi) was one of the better decisions I’ve made in my college career. Especially as a final semester swan song.

It’s a 400-level course with a good amount of “dumb fun” elements to the curriculum given its subject matter.

Our novel selection includes Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One and Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. We’re also watching a whole host of movies including 1983’s WarGames and 2012’s Indie Game the Movie, all about the development of titles like Super Meat Boy and Fez.

In other words I’ve already consumed a large chunk of the required materials.

The stuff I haven’t yet consumed seems plenty interesting in its own right, even outside of the bias that comes from knowing they stand in a pantheon of enjoyable media.

Hell there’s even a day where we’re just going to spend our three-hour class just playing Dungeons and Dragons. How sweet is that?

Another objectively cool element of the class is that essays are replaced by a long-form research project where we get to choose a game to analyze. Then the three papers we write will be pulled into one mega-paper as our final.

As someone who writes pseudo-game reviews on this blog and actual reviews for papers like the Daily Titan (big Nintendo hitters like Mario and Kirby at that), I should arguably be the most excited for this portion.

Yet I’ve hit a conundrum.

How the hell do I pick just ONE video game to analyze when I could arguably do it for any of my favorites?

Should I analyze one of my favorite nostalgic games of all time, like Pokémon Crystal?

Or for that matter one of the objectively better Pokémon games, given it is my favorite video game series. Perhaps Heartgold and Soulsilver or Black and White 2?

Maybe I should pick a game with more of a cultural impact considering I’ll need to write about its wider historical context. I could potentially use Ocarina of Time (or its 3DS remake), as much as games of that caliber have been analyzed to death in the past.

The Nintendo fanboy in me could downplay itself as well, leading me to analyze a game I enjoy but haven’t spent quite as much time with. Kingdom Hearts 2 or Simpson’s Hit and Run on the Playstation or even something like Don’t Starve or FTL as indie representation out of Steam.

That said, I could pick a game I straight up haven’t played before just to get a fresh take. Final Fantasy 7 has been gathering dust in my Steam library for a long time, and I do want an excuse to finally play it.

Even with all those options in the abstract, my mind did immediately wander in a particular direction when I found out about the assignment.

Recently, especially with the advent of the third Choose your Legends event in Fire Emblem Heroes, I’ve had the desire to go back and play Sacred Stones. My first and favorite Fire Emblem game.

Part of me couldn’t help but think about an interesting analysis coming out of Sacred Stones due to it being the first title released after Fire Emblem’s western debut.

… I was admittedly primed to go in that direction from watching The Geek Critique’s assertion that Smash Bros. Melee was a “kingmaker” for their series the other day.

That’s my most developed idea at the moment, but frankly I’m more than open to coming up with more in the weeks to come.

There are simply too many good games out there in need of analysis.

So I suppose that brings me to a call to arms of sorts. If any of you have ideas for a game I should try to analyze for my research paper (assuming it’s within my means), let me know somewhere on the Internet.

It’ll definitely be taking an unreasonable amount of my brain power for a good long time.

Hot heroes hit the springs

Hot heroes hit the springs

With the spring 2019 semester recently kicking off, I can’t think of any better way to stave off my looming cloud of stress than to blather on about nonessential pleasantries.

Luckily Intelligent Systems has just what the doctor ordered with a well-timed banner of special heroes!


RyomaSamurai at Ease

  • It’s Curtains… (Might = 14, Range = 1)
    • At the start of turn 1, grants Special Attack cooldown count -2.
  • Luna (Cooldown = 3)
    • Treats foe’s Defense and Resistance as if reduced by 50 percent during combat.
  • Attack/Defense Solo (A Skill)
    • If unit is not adjacent to an ally, grants Attack and Defense +6 during combat.
  • Chill Speed (B Skill)
    • At the start of the turn, inflicts Speed -7 on for on the enemy team with the highest Speed through its next action.
  • Odd Defense Wave (C Skill)
    • At the start of odd-numbered turns, grants Defense +6 to unit and adjacent allies for one turn (bonus granted to unit even if no allies are adjacent).

SakuraHot-Spring Healer

  • Grandscratcher (Might = 12, Range = 2)
    • At the start of turn 1, grants Special Attack cooldown charge -1 to ally with the highest Attack.
  • Physic (Range = 2)
    • Restores Health = 50 percent of Attack (minimum of 8 Health).
  • Fireflood Balm (Cooldown = 1)
    • When healing an ally with a staff, grants Attack and Resistance +6 to all allies for one turn.
  • Wrathful Staff (B Skill)
    • Calculates damage from staff like other weapons.
  • Speed Opening (C Skill)
    • At the start of the turn, grants Speed +6 to ally with the highest Speed for one turn (excluding this unit).

EliseBubbling Flower

  • Red-Hot Ducks (Might = 12, Range = 2)
    • If unit’s Speed > foe’s Speed, deals damage = 70 percent of the difference between stats (maximum of 7, combos with Phantom Speed). After combat, if unit attacked, inflicts Defense and Resistance -7 on foe’s within two spaces of target through their next actions.
  • Rally Up Attack (Range = 1)
    • Grants Attack +6 to target ally and allies within two spaces (excluding unit) for one turn.
  • Swift Sparrow (A Skill)
    • If unit initiates combat, grants Attack and Speed +4 during combat.
  • Attack Feint (B Skill)
    • If a Rally assist skill is used by unit or targets unit, inflicts Attack -7 on foes in cardinal directions of unit through their next actions.
  • Dagger Valor (C Skill)
    • While unit lives, all dagger allies on team get x2 Skill Points (only highest value applied, does not stack).

HinokaRelaxed Warrior

  • Splashy Bucket (Might = 12, Range = 2)
    • Effective against dragon foes. Disables foe’s skills that “calculate damage using the lower of foe’s Defense or Resistance” and “calculate damage from staff like other weapons.” After combat, if unit attacked, inflicts Defense and Resistance -7 on foes within two spaces of target through their next actions.
  • Draw Back (Range = 1)
    • Unit moves one space away from target ally. Ally moves to unit’s previous space.
  • Attack/Speed Bond (A Skill)
    • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Attack and Speed +5 during combat.
  • Attack/Speed Link (B Skill)
    • If a movement assist skill is used by unit or targets unit, grants Attack/Speed to both unit and ally for one turn.
  • Air Orders (C Skill)
    • At the start of the turn, grants “Unit can move to a space adjacent to any ally within two spaces” to adjacent flying allies for one turn.

Seeing the initial silhouette teaser for this banner piqued my interest.

I had no idea who we were looking at and, at the time, wasn’t expecting any special banners until Valentine’s Day.

Yet I rolled my eyes without even thinking after I found out we were getting more Fire Emblem Fates royal sibling alts.

I’m a fan of Fates and everything, but there are so many characters from it who have no representations. Meanwhile Tempest Trials Camilla is her sixth alternate costumes.

It’s disheartening… But unfortunately I’m such a fan of the Hoshidan royal sisters that the game had me at Sakura and Hinoka.

Wanting this Sakura because I like her character and status as a pegasus-riding staff user probably won’t save me when the police come for summoning a near underage girl in a towel…

But that’s a bridge I’ll cross later.

Oh, and I’m 100 percent summoning for characters, not skills, on this banner. Hinoka is the only one with an interesting build, so she and Sakura are my focus.

Unfortunately, all 60 orbs have gotten me is a 3-star original Sakura.

So you know what that means? Time for paralogue orbs!


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Shout out to that armored unit with the buns on his head in map 30-1. He’s worth this entire mediocre banner.

Outside of his majesty there isn’t a whole lot to say for the story.

There’s kind of no explanation as to why the Order of Heroes has to jump in. The royal siblings have just been put under a contract but… Nobody knows why?

Also it’s just a side story, so Alfonse isn’t dead from Hel’s curse yet.

He’s simply concerned about heading into such a private place.

Luckily my keen interest in cute redheads is vindicated by the way they share Alfonse’s reservations.

The Nohr sisters seem more than eager to just let a bunch of soldiers join them in the baths.

Yet that’s the only bit of story worth talking about here.

After the fighting ends, Anna makes a comment about wanting a hot springs in the Order’s castle, which seems less a nod to future content than it is an outlet for Alfonse to make fun of the girls for getting into useless tasks too quickly.

So… Orbs.

Hurray!


If it wasn’t obvious, this banner didn’t really excite me.

I’m happy to shill out orbs for Hinoka or Sakura in lieu of the beast units who are going in the main summoning pool, but I don’t particularly care about any of the units mechanically.

Even my complaint about Fates units being used again is easily mitigated by the argument that Fates had the first canonical hot spring system. So that’s a banal annoyance at best.

Perhaps the Valentine’s Day units will get me more hyped up, but for now this isn’t much more than a neat distraction from school.

That’s just my opinion though. Let me know what you think of these special hot springs units!

New adventures (real and fake)

New adventures (real and fake)

So I broke my New Year writing streak yesterday. Unless you want to substitute in that day I did two posts in one, in which case I’m right on track!

But if you don’t count that, I have a good excuse.

It was raining a lot, and that made me lethargic.

Plus I was playing a lot of Breath of the Wild.

That’s right, after talking all about my desire to return to Hyrule earlier this week, I actually went through with my threat and popped the game back in.

Frankly?

After a year-and-a-half break, everything about this open-world Zelda experience feels fresh again. It seems like I’m getting through the map way faster with just as much of a fine-toothed comb.

I actually cleared out two portions of the map in just the last two days, which included finally making my way into Death Mountain…

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… finding my second Divine Beast…

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… and destroying the blight inside…

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… to bring peace to Goron City!

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Primed and ready to fire.

I think the most astounding thing about Breath of the Wild to me is how easy it was to pick up and play again after so many months.

It only took a few minutes to re-familiarize myself with the controls before I was running all across Hyrule, solving puzzles and slaying baddies with a bunch of very powerful weapons I saved up. Even most of the side-quests came right back to me as soon as I saw brief reminders in the Adventure Log.

For having such a large map, Breath of the Wild actually has a lot of landmarks that made it feel like I haven’t taken a single day off. It’s a bit uncanny, honestly.

Oh and in case that video I put on Twitter didn’t make it clear, I’m having a blast doing neat things. Plus the NPCs are far funnier than I remember!

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I don’t know who you are random Hylian lady, but you have a great little backstory packed into one line.

So yeah. Breath of the Wild has actually been a godsend for the end of my Winter Break, where I haven’t had too many chances to see my friends. Perhaps it’s less of a godsend for the work on my novel I was planning to finish but…

I’ll get that done.

I swear.

To be fair, BotW hasn’t been the only distraction in my life. I went on a strange adventure with my Mom today.

About a week ago I got a letter from the State Controller of California.

As it turned out, I apparently had some dormant savings account at a bank that isn’t what my family uses. We don’t remember making it or anything, but the Controller let us know there was about $80 in the account — and that if we didn’t claim it soon, the money would go directly to the State.

I’m not one to let $80 slip away that easily.

So I followed through with that bank and went over there with Mom today, assuming she set it up the account considering it has been dormant since 2010.

However, when we arrived, it turned out there was no longer that much in there.

For some reason the information we got from the State Controller just a week ago was accurate to the balance over a year ago? As a result of the upkeep cost, by the time we showed up there was only about $20 to pull out.

Hurray.

Don’t get me wrong, $20 is $20 and I was happy to get a little extra cash in my pocket. It’s just strange that we had gotten such a misleading number from the State.

So… I guess moral of the story is… Get your records together State Controller Yee.

The rest of my afternoon was right as rain — in the rain. Mom and I got coffee, then picked up my sister, came home and I pretty much just played more BotW.

Before stopping to write this post, of course.

I’ll probably be playing Zelda a lot in the next few days, so I’ll try not to bother you all with it unless some really cool stuff happens. It just felt pertinent to give the world an update on how my prior indecision turned out to be a net positive.

Sometimes the world just needs some feel-good stories like that.

Jason plays the Pokémon Trading Card Game

Jason plays the Pokémon Trading Card Game

Time to say good-bye to the last strands of my dignity.

I’m sure it’s no secret that I love Pokémon, as I spent months building up to Pokémon Sun and Moon on this blog when it was announced. However, I haven’t spent too much time talking about the Trading Card Game.

Which is strange considering how much I talk about Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links — even pulling out old childhood memorabilia when it became relevant.

Yet I have plenty of experience collecting Pokémon cards as well! Looking back at my most recent room renovation, you can actually see a Jirachi card hanging out with my other mythical wish-granter merchandise:

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Just on the rightmost side.

But that and the Gardevoir set I keep under my desktop keyboard for good luck…

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… is only the tip of the iceberg.

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My parents like to tell the story of how they had original card packs for one of the first sets in the Pokémon TCG, which would have been amazing collectors items today. However, I had no interest in them at that point.

So they got rid of them.

Hilarious considering how much I wound up getting into collecting the cards:

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Back when I collected most of these, it really did just amount to collection. Like with my physical Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, I never actually played the game.

My first real exposure to playing the Pokémon Trading Card Game came in 2015 when I first watched a Let’s Play of the GameBoy game by TheKingNappy and ShadyPenguinn.

I was so interested in it that I downloaded the game off the 3DS eShop.

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Despite the game having come out in 1998, I would still argue it has some of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard in a video game. Just listen to the Club Master Duel theme.

However, it was mostly the video game’s interface and music that kept me really engaged. I still never went so far as to play with real cards.

Thus it was kind of the end of my experience with the Pokémon Trading Card Game.

… Until this most recent December, when ProJared began to upload a Let’s Play of the GameBoy TCG game.

Game.

Watching it get played again inspired me to jump in. But this time I didn’t go back to my 3DS.

I re-downloaded the official Trading Card Game online.

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I say re-downloaded because I did have a brief attempt at playing the game before (as you’ll see from my cringe-worthy screen name based on some half-assed character), but it didn’t stick quite as well as my recent deep dive.

For those of you who have never played the Pokémon Trading Card Game, I figure a very brief synopsis of how it works is in order.

Each player starts with a 60-card deck, out of which they draw seven cards for a hand and six prize cards. There are two primary win conditions in the game. You either draw all of your prize cards by defeating a Pokémon, or you defeat all of your opponent’s Pokémon so they can no longer play.

There are six kinds of cards in the game:


  • Pokémon: The monsters are your primary players. Each has a set amount of health, specific moves they can use when given energy and sometimes abilities that can affect your play environment.
    • Pokémon can evolve by placing the next stage card on top of a basic card, but not on the same turn that basic card is played.
    • There are also “EX” or “GX” cards that are powerful and have strong abilities, but allow your opponent to draw two prize cards instead of one if defeated.
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Legendaries are typically basic Pokémon, but require a lot of energy.
  • Energy: Energy is required in specific typings to use an attack, unless that requirement is a basic white star — any energy can fill that requirement.

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  • Items: Provide a variety of effects from healing to drawing cards. Can be used as many times as they are drawn per turn.

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  • Supporters: Typically based off of major characters or NPCs from the video games, these cards are usually advanced versions of items that can only be used once per turn.

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  • Tools: Can be attached directly to one Pokémon as a buff, such as increased damage or defense.

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  • Stadium: Applies an effect to both sides of the field, similar to certain abilities. Only one can be in-play, and playing a second Stadium overturns the first.

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The balance of Pokémon and energy placement, where only one is active at a time and players can set up the team in their back row, feels a lot more complex than Yu-Gi-Oh!’s basic gameplay style.

However, all of the Trainer cards seem a lot more focused on draw power and health restoration than Yu-Gi-Oh!’s Spells and Traps, which have a daunting amount of variety and often incentivize playing to a narrowed archetype.

That said, I love both games.

Here’s an example of me playing with a Psychic-type deck I built.

Video’s a bit choppy, so be warned. Though it shouldn’t be nearly as bad as my Armagetron video.

As you can tell, the primary focus of my deck is to build up to Gallade or Lunala (mostly the latter).

I don’t have quite as many GX or EX cards as a lot of players who have clearly been playing longer, but Lunala being a Stage 2 legendary means card designers balanced the trouble of getting her out with some powerful attack output.

It has worked wonders for me thus far, and I’ve been building up my digital card collection using booster packs from the Trainer Challenge mode…

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… As well as theme decks bought using coins from Versus duels…

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… To create a few different decks.

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A Metagross deck is currently being tested, though it’s not quite as well-developed.

While I think the card game itself has some unique complexities that stand out compared to Duel Links (which I’ve fallen out of favor with and replaced my vice apparently), what really keeps me going with the Pokémon TCG is how amazing the card art is.

See Yu-Gi-Oh! cards are always the same for a given card, unless they get altered for balance down the line.

But Pokémon cards for each monster can have a variety of attacks, abilities and even types in different printings. Each of those new prints also has a new piece of artwork.

Here’s a small slideshow of some of the really cute cards I’ve found in my relatively short time playing.

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That’s the real charm of the Pokémon TCG. That’s what keeps me playing.

So… Yeah.

I’m sure many of you saw ‘Jason plays the Pokémon Trading Card Game’ and groaned. Hopefully I gave you enough visual spectacle and explanation to understand why I’ve been so hooked on this stuff.

Because as much as I keep joking about how playing this game out of everything I could be doing in 2019 will ruin my reputation… What can I say.

I’m just a sucker for a fun card game.

Yearning for games prematurely abandoned

I was originally going to spend part of today writing the post that will probably ruin my reputation once and for all. A post about my recent relapse into playing the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online.

But uhh… I got lazy and didn’t put the effort in.

So sorry about that! Maybe tomorrow.

Now to be fair, it wasn’t pure laziness that kept me away. I may or may not have slept late after staying up real early, but then I did spend a good amount of time working on stuff for Gladeo and my novel this afternoon.

Plus there were a good amount of chores getting done. There’s only about a week left until the new semester starts, so I’ve gotta get through them while I can.

However, I didn’t want to skip out on writing anything tonight. Not when keeping up the craft outside of work-related pursuits is something of an unofficial New Year’s resolution.

So I think I’m instead going to chew on my sudden desire to return to an experience… Somewhat long-since abandoned.

It all began with Smash Bros. Ultimate, actually. Despite how long it has been since the game came out, I still find myself playing quite a bit. Maybe not as intensely as I did when I was grinding through World of Light, but I’m still hoping to improve so I can have more fun matches with my friends.

Then the other day I was playing on the new Great Plateau Tower map, griping about how I wished Link was his Twilight Princess design since I personally prefer it (in spite of the fact that Breath of the Wild Link has his own interesting mechanical complexities that are arguably more diverse).

Playing in the background was the theme song to BotW. But something about part of the song brought to mind the 2016 reveal trailer for the game.

When I first saw that at E3, I was fucking hooked on it like a drug.

No joke, I played the trailer on repeat just to hear the music (even while showering), at times on the verge of tears from how beautiful it looked and sounded. I’m not sure a trailer for a game has ever had that effect on me before.

I was so obsessed with it that I wrote a blog post back before it was something commonplace.

In fact I didn’t even realize that post was more about Pokémon Sun and Moon than it was Breath of the Wild, because I only recall the Zelda trailer leaving an impression!

Once BotW came out, for a long while I was disappointed that I didn’t have the Nintendo Switch to play it on. The Wii U version seemed like it might be inferior, so I avoided it.

Which to be fair means I’m probably part of the reason why the Wii U failed. Whoops.

Eventually I did get the console, and the summer of 2017 becoming the summer of Zelda as a result. I played the game obsessively, combing through the vast environment until I literally got sick of it.

Seriously, I completed one of the Sacred Beast temples and explored a good quarter+ of the map before giving up because I was too overwhelmed with how I was playing it. I may have put it in my top games of 2017 list, but I haven’t looked back.

Yet remembering that trailer gave me flashbacks to the gut feeling of awe.

A feeling which only got more intense as I discovered a new YouTube obsession with KingK.

The guy does extended retrospectives on different game series. The 3D Zeldas, 2D Sonics, Kingdom Hearts, etc. I find his videos really compelling because they don’t strictly focus on the same arguments you’ve likely heard a million times. They seem more about his personal, emotional connections with each game.

All still mediated by tough analysis.

He has some great content and I’d highly recommend watching it.

KingK became important to this conversation because I happened to come across his (no joke) hour-and-a-half long analysis of Breath of the Wild soon after getting the feels over that trailer again.

Frankly? I think it primed me to want to jump into the game again.

I’ve always said I have a complicated relationship with BotW. I love the game but could never complete it.

Nearly two years later, I think it might finally be time to delve into the Hyrule of the Wild once again. Hopefully to see its story through to the end.

This little silly post actually wound up being longer and a bit more self-reflective than I expected, so hopefully you all don’t find it too superfluous.

I’d love to know if you’ve had any experiences with games that you may have abandoned, only to yearn for it again years later. Just so I know I’m not crazy!

Fire Emblem Heroes goes full beast mode

Fire Emblem Heroes goes full beast mode

I’ve said before that the Radiant games are an unfortunate blank spot in my experience with Fire Emblem. When I found out beast units were finally on their way and that they would be from this particular universe, I was a little hesitant about whether I’d want them over some potential other options like Kaden or Yarne.

But then we saw what these beasts were packing, and my first reaction was:

Why are there so many different kinds of animal units out of this one Fire Emblem continent? Hawks, swans, ravens AND wolves seem a bit over the top.

Then my second reaction was:

Oh man, there’s some potential here.


TibarnLord of the Air

  • Hawk King Claw (Might = 14, Range = 1)
    • Grants Attack +3. If foe’s Health = 100 percent and unit initiates combat, unit makes a guaranteed follow-up attack.
    • At start of turn, if unit is adjacent to only beast or dragon allies, or if unit is not adjacent to any ally, unit transforms (otherwise they revert). If unit transforms, they can move one extra space and grants Attack +2 (that turn only, does not stack).
      • Will furthermore be referred to as ‘Beast transformation effect.’
  • Draconic Aura (Cooldown = 3)
    • Boosts damage by 30 percent of unit’s Attack.
  • Sturdy Impact (A Skill)
    • If unit initiates combat, grants Attack +6 and Defense +10 during combat and foe cannot make a follow-up attack.
  • Chill Attack (B Skill)
    • At start of turn, inflicts Attack -7 on foe on the enemy team with the highest Attack through its next action.
  • Even Attack Wave (C Skill)
    • At start of even-numbered turns, grants Attack +6 to unit and adjacent allies for one turn (bonus granted to unit even if no allies are adjacent).

LeanneForest’s Song

  • Heron Wing (Might = 14, Range = 1)
    • Grants Speed +3. At start of turn, restores 7 Health to allies within two spaces of unit. Beast transformation effect applies.
  • Sing (Range = 1)
    • Grants another action to target ally.
  • Mirror Stance (A Skill)
    • If foe initiates combat, grants Attack and Resistance +4 during combat.
  • Flier Formation (B Skill)
    • Unit can move to a space adjacent to a flying ally within two spaces.
  • Hone Beasts (C Skill)
    • At start of turn, grants Attack and Speed +6 to adjacent beast allies for one turn.

ReysonWhite Prince

  • Heron Wing (Might = 14, Range = 1)
    • Grants Speed +3. At start of turn, restores 7 Health to allies within two spaces of unit. Beast transformation effect applies.
  • Sing (Range = 1)
    • Grants another action to target ally.
  • Steady Posture (A Skill)
    • If foe initiates combat, grants Speed and Defense +4 during combat.
  • Fortify Beasts (C Skill)
    • At start of turn, grants Defense and Resistance +6 to adjacent beast allies for one turn.

NailahUnflinching Eye

  • Wolf Queen Fang (Might = 14, Range = 1)
    • Accelerates Special Attack trigger (cooldown -1). During combat, boosts unit’s Attack and Speed by the number of allies within two spaces x2 (max of +6 to each stat). Beast transformation effect applies, and unit deals +10 damage when Special Attack triggers.
  • Moonbow (Cooldown = 2)
    • Treats foe’s Defense and Resistance as if reduced by 30 percent during combat.
  • Distant Counter (A Skill)
    • Unit can counterattack regardless of foe’s range.
  • Null C-Disrupt (B Skill)
    • Neutralizes status effects and disables skills that prevent counterattacks during combat.
  • Glare (C Skill)
    • After combat, if unit attacked, inflicts status on target and foes within one space of target restricting movement to one space through their next actions.

So fun fact, writing out the skills for these units took nearly 500 words. Beasts take up a lot of god damn text, apparently.

That said, I would say all that text was very worth it for how broken some of these units look. Namely Tibarn and Nailah.

The two swans are interesting in that we’re leading with singing units for our introduction to beasts, as well as the fact that they have the exact same weapon in two different colors — which I think is a first?

But Tibarn hits like a truck with all of his attack, and that new Attack/Defense buff from Sturdy Impact is a crazy power creep.

Then Nailah basically always triggers Moonbow from any distance while neutering the opponent’s skills and movement range. It’s crazy to me that we finally have a non-Hector unit with Distant Counter and she appears just as broken.

So yeah. I’m definitely focusing more on red and blue stones in this banner.

… It’s just too bad all of the holiday banners sapped my orb supply.

Luckily the new run of Forging Bonds is giving out one free summon ticket for each character.

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Sure that’s a downgrade from the seven we’ve gotten out of daily rewards in the past, but we’ve got a whole new chapter in Book III to help bolster that orb supply.


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This new story chapter starts by setting the scene for what I imagine we’ll see for a while:

King Gustav tells his son to avoid Hel at all costs, as she is literally death and no matter how strong one becomes they cannot help but succumb to death.

He talks about how he had prior experience fighting Hel years ago, which left him with his battle scar.

… I’ll admit, I didn’t see the scar until he brought it up, but now that I know the lines on his face aren’t just wrinkles and crow’s nests, I understand the danger.

After the brief introduction, business goes about as usual. Anna leads the Order of Heroes into battle and there’s a good four matches without any serious exposition.

The most interesting bit of dialogue we get is from Reyson:

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What’s interesting about this is Princess Veronica is the one who forges contracts with units, but apparently it’s the Askran ancestor who does so for Hel.

Maybe that’s just interesting to me?

When the next map begins, King Gustav’s advice goes right out the window as it turns out Hel is there. Her daughter, Eir, provides a bit of foreshadowing.

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Didn’t think I’d forget about this dumb meme, did you?

Once the battle commences, Hel is surprisingly easy to kill (on the lower difficulties where she has an Iron Axe, anyway). But for story reasons her defeat turns out to be a subterfuge.

She reappears and brings context to the name of the chapter by cursing Alfonse to die in nine days. Why she couldn’t just take him right away with her scythe as she does in the opening cinematic is beyond me…

But it does open up this philosophy dialogue:

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So you know. Sometimes we have to be poetic rather than sensible.

Let’s just hope the next bit of story comes within nine days so the prince doesn’t die.


Keen viewers out there will know that a few days ago I promised this would be coming out yesterday. That’s because I can’t read dates, apparently!

The banner is out now however, so here we are. That means you should expect a second post about my time at Alyson’s mini band banquet later tonight.

Until then, let me know what you think about the brand new beast units in Fire Emblem Heroes, and which beasts you want to see come out next!

Also, just for curiosity sake, let me know what you think about how inefficient Hel was with that ‘nine day curse’ thing. Like she is literally death get a little more realistic, lady.

What did I just find?

What did I just find?

Oh yeah, I’m clickbaiting all you social media folks today.

It’ll be worth it. I promise.

After an interview fell through this afternoon, in order to not be a complete bum for the day I decided to finally put my full energy into another New Year tradition that I’ve been half-assing for a little while now:

Cleaning my room.

I’ve done an entire post about the subject in the past, and to be honest the overall appearance of the room hasn’t changed much since then.

It will sometime soon when I finally get this new computer together and put in a proper spot, but for now you can get the gist of things from that other post. All the decor is mostly the same.

Arguably the most notable thing I had originally wanted to talk about with this post was how nice it feels to finally clear off a usually cluttered surface.

Because just look at this:

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Especially with the new calendar, it’s looking pretty slick.

At least until you turn around and look at where all the stuff wound up…

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Slightly less slick.

Though I’ll admit it’s also satisfying to remind myself how much I usually put up without it looking too busy.

However, if you’re keen on picking up context clues with blog post headlines, featured images and past tense language in text, you know that I wound up finding something completely different to talk about.

Something much more whacky and interesting.

Hidden away behind my bookshelf in an unopened plastic casing was this astounding poster:

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You may be wondering why I decided to just put up a picture of the woman’s face instead of the full image for my Featured Image, and to be fair it’s 99 percent just to be funny clickbait.

But it’s also because that was genuinely my reaction when I first unraveled this thing.

Now you can’t just dig up something this bizarre and not try to do a little bit of research into it.

As the corner of the poster suggests, this was a promotional poster for “Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution,” a 2014 game released on the most notable last gen consoles besides the Wii U.

I never played the game, and in fact I don’t think I’d even heard of it until right now.

So where the hell did this poster come from?

Well, according to this Reddit post I found from way back in the day, it was a promotional item given out at GameStop for pre-ordering Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution.

But after a while, employees just started to give them away with anything. I must have picked it up alongside some totally different game and forgot about it.

I shared this rare finding with my friends and together we did a bit more fun elaboration into it. For instance, my friend Nina (who lives in Japan and is studying to be a translator) gave us a bit of insight into exactly what it says:

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Knowing this is basically like a cheesy B-movie poster is kind of fascinating, honestly.

Then my friend Jonathan went out to YouTube and found us some footage of Mecha Naruto in action.

It’s uhh…

It’s something else.

Probably the most beautiful nightmare fuel I’ve seen in a long time.

Just look at his ultimate jutsu. I’m dumbfounded staring at such a glorious spectacle and frankly want to go thank anyone who was involved in the executive decision to include it in the game.

It’s just that good.

I’m absolutely putting this up on my wall tonight. Probably right up next to my Mega Diancie poster.

Gotta fit that call to action in here somewhere, so let me know what kind of weird stuff you’ve found while cleaning up around the house! This is probably one of the more strange things I’ve ever dug up, so I’d be curious to know if any of you have some similarly unexpected items hiding away.