By: Andrew Lister
Today marks the official second day of E3, yet as always we heard from tons of companies days before with big announcements. If you missed it, I've already talked a bit about my thoughts on EA and Microsoft's presentations, and I wanted to follow up with even more talk on some of the other companies.
While I'm champing at the bit to talk about Nintendo, I figure I should at least give a little love to Bethesda and Ubisoft, who had some interesting games to show off.
To read the article, hit that link below!
By: Andrew Lister
A year ago we launched the Questionable Endeavor Network. I honestly wasn't sure where it would go (if anywhere), and in just one year we've grown so much and have you all to thank.
The first article that we posted a year ago centered around E3 2016. It's cool to go back and read my first articles on E3 (which can be found here and here) and make it to this year's E3 and start brand new articles.
I'm a huge fan of E3! As a gamer, I get so hyped spending the days before the conference watching prediction videos and making my own predictions. The week of E3 I'm glued to my phone and TV watching YouTube and Twitch to catch all the big conferences.
So far we've seen big reveals from EA, Microsoft, and Bethesda. Seeing as how I'm a huge Bethesda fan, I'm going to tackle it in a separate article and focus this one on the former two companies.
So what stood out the most for better or worse? Click the link below to read my full thoughts!
By: Andrew Lister
Nintendo dropped an announcement out of nowhere the other day, letting the world know that there would be an exclusive Nintendo Direct event on June 6th. I jumped for joy when I realized that this Direct event so close to E3 was centered around one of my favorite video game series of all time: Pokemon.
My mind started racing at what Game Freak and Nintendo had planned. Rumors have been amassing about a new project named Pokemon Stars, but what was it? Could it be the first ever Pokemon game in the main series to make it onto the Nintendo Switch? Was it a third game in the newest series of Sun and Moon?
Well, the live event is already past us, and here’s what we found out, for better or for worse, about Pokemon releases for the remainder of 2017.
Pokken Tournament DX
Back when Pokken Tournament was announced for the Wii U, I was super excited. Tekken is my favorite fighting game series of all time, so a crossover with Pokemon was a match made in Heaven. I got the game at launch, and I found it enjoyable. Sure, it wasn’t 100% what I had wanted, but it was a solid fighting game.
I knew it was only a matter of time before the game got ported over to the Switch. Wii U didn’t sell well, but there were a number of amazing games for the system that a lot of people missed out on by not picking up Nintendo’s last console. Even though I saw it happening, I didn’t think that they would focus so much of their time on the port, which is a Deluxe edition.
What exactly is the appeal of Pokken Tournament Deluxe over the Wii U? Well, as with any Switch game, the portability will be a big draw. I usually take my Switch over when we record Tooning Japanese on Friday nights, and we play some multiplayer as a way to kill time before we get started. Being able to set up the screen and play some multiplayer on the go is a big plus.
Aside from that, it looks like we’re also getting five new fighters, including some strange choices like Empoleon and Croagunk, but also some really cool ones like Darkrai, Scizor, and Decidueye. On top of the characters, there will be 3 vs 3 battles that seem like a cross between Marvel vs Capcom and the Tekken Tag games. It also takes advantage of the online system, which will hopefully be more stable than Tekken 7 has reportedly been at launch.
The port of Pokken Tournament DX will launch on September 22nd, and there will be a competitive tournament taking place at Nintendo’s events from E3.
Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon
Instead of a game called Stars, we also saw a glimpse of the next Pokemon games in the main series, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Even though I’m not crazy about the names, the information we received about the two games is intriguing.
We don’t know a lot yet, but we were told that these two games would be a different story from the one presented in Pokemon Sun and Moon. Not only is the story new, but we will get a different variety of Pokemon. Does this mean getting ones that we couldn’t catch that are already part of the game, or could we see more Alolan variants of the original 150? Please, please, please give me a new version of my favorites Vileplume, Hypno, and Pinsir!
If you paid close attention, there does seem to be ways to mega evolve some of the key legendary Pokemon, such as Solgaleo and Lunala. I can only imagine that we’ll see more legendaries.
It seems like this game could have a feel very similar to what they did with Pokemon Black and White and their sequels Black and White 2. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I like the world of Alola, and unlike some of the other games, the post game play felt a little thin to me. I haven’t gone back to it as much as I did with games like X and Y.
These two new entries in the series drop on November 17th, almost one year after the release of the original Sun and Moon.
Pokemon Gold and Silver
Last year Game Freak released versions of their original three American games, Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow onto the 3DS Virtual Console. At the cost of only $10, it was a fun way to feel the nostalgia of my childhood without having to play on the small screen of my Game Boy Color. I assume these games sold well because now we are getting the same treatment with Pokemon Gold and Silver.
These games did receive remakes back in 2010 with the amazing Pokemon Soul Silver and Heart Gold. It’s certainly a better way to play the original Game Boy games, but these new Virtual Console ports will allow a much easier transfer of your team through the Pokemon Bank.
Be prepared to traverse Johto and Kanto once again on the same day that Pokken Tournament drops, September 22nd.
Given that Nintendo seems to have rushed their release of the Switch in order to get a jump start on their competitors and heal the wounds caused by the Wii U, it was probably too much to expect a full blown Pokemon game on their newest system. Pokken Tournament is a safe bet and something they can feasibly get out within the span of this year. Sure, it may not be the game that most people wanted, but it’s still Pokemon on the new Nintendo system, and those that didn’t bite on the Wii U have a solid game to play for the first time.
Given that the Ultra versions of Sun and Moon are coming this year, it feels like there are more questions than answers at this point. We’ll get lots of information going forward in the coming months much like we did with Sun and Moon, probably including weekly videos showcasing some of the new characters and story elements. I’m optimistic that this game will deliver another interesting story within the Alola Region and give me a reason to spend another 50+ hours using my 3DS.
What are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments below or head over to our Discord and spark up a conversation!
By: Andrew Lister
Yeah, I know you're probably all sick of my intense love for Nintendo and their new Switch system. However, I managed to take a bit of time out of my busy day to sit down and play ARMS. The game isn't out quite yet, but they are currently doing an online beta, known at the Global Testpunch, to test the servers. Everyone with a Switch will be able to play the game for free and see what ARMS is all about.
I'm going to focus this review on a number of things I experienced in the half hour of drowsy, early morning gameplay that I got in at 7 am CST. I want to talk about my experience with the controls, gameplay modes, online functionality, and the characters and weaponry. Some of these things I'll go into more than others as this was just an online test and my time with the game was rather limited.
Click the link for my first impressions!
By: Andrew Lister
Recently, one of our network's podcasts, Words of Geekdom, did an entire episode on educational television shows from our childhood. Even though it seems that the age of growing up with PBS may be in danger in our modern times, I look back with fond memories on some of my favorite programs. I would excitedly learn about geography and history while watching groups of sleuths seek out Carmen Sandiego. My love for reading was deepened by LeVar Burton on Reading Rainbow.
More than any other show, however, I wanted nothing more than to wake up one morning and find a floating message telling me that I was the newest member of the Ghostwriter Team.
I really hope that I'm not alone in saying that Ghostwriter was one of my all time favorite shows growing up. It's a show that (thanks to IBe Ghostwriter) I've unabashedly gone back to even over the last few years to relive my childhood. Unlike many other shows that I watched during that time, it taught me some very important life lessons and made me look differently at the world around me.
So what is it exactly about Ghostwriter that I found and continue to find so appealing? Get out your casebook and write down the clues for yourself because Andy is on the case!
Clue 1: The Importance of Writing
For those of you that do not know, my day job is teaching English at the high school and college levels. I spend most of my time during the day, after school, before school, and weekends reading student writing and teaching ways they can improve their skills. The opening sponsor commercial from Nike tells the views each time to "Exercise your head" by either reading or writing, which sets the tone for the entirety of the series.
Ghostwriter is at its core a detective story, a sort of Sherlock Holmes Light, starring a group of middle school students that "check out clues and solve mysteries" with the help of a supernatural spirit named Ghostwriter. The only way to communicate with this friendly ghost is by writing to him. You can tell this is a show of the 90s rather than today when the young teens struggle to remember to write messages in order to communicate with Ghostwriter. I can only imagine how mundane the concept would be to today's youth, who sometimes balk at the thought of actually calling someone on the phone to speaking face-to-face.
Anyway, the show focuses on written communication between the team and Ghostwriter, who cannot express himself through speaking at all. This forces the crew to consider what they say before they write it out and learn the power that writing has in communicating with others. Writing can be powerful, which is shown in a number of key moments from the show: Double T teaching Rob about the importance of creative writing and communicating with his father, Alex and Gaby's father using writing to apologize for causing so much trouble for Lenni's dad (and destroying his instruments), and even saving the day when only writing could bring back Ghostwriter, who nearly faded from existence after a fight broke the team apart.
What I'm trying to say is that the show knew that writing was important, and it spent much of the show teaching young kids that good writing can help us express our feelings and help solve our problems. This is something I've dedicated my life to doing at work--aiding students in seeing that their own words can impact the world around them and help them understand and cope with the troubles in their own lives. I'm grateful Ghostwriter helped reinforce this message for me at a young age.
Clue 2: Lessons in Diversity
The Ghostwriter team consists of an ethnically-diverse cast of characters. Each one broke the negative stereotypes of their race, gender, and culture and gave the show's viewers a clearer understanding that there's more to America than its white, male citizens.
The first member of the team that we meet is Jamal Jenkins, an intelligent, cheerful African American. He's the heart and soul of the group, serving as the team's leader. Alongside of Jamal we have Lenni Frasier, a creative and independent female character; Alex Fernandez, a keen-minded, puzzle-solving Mexican-American; his strong-willed and eager sister Gaby; the Vietnamese-American Tina Nguyen, who always looks for the truth in every news story; and Rob Baker, a character not afraid to express himself creatively rather than through sports and masculinity.
As we get to know each team member, we see the struggles that they face not just as teens but because of their race and nationalities. For example, when Rob is harassed by a group of Latino gang members, who call him a dumb white boy, Jamal laments about how he's faced racial discrimination from people that have said "much worse" things. Tina's parents came to America from Vietnam to start a new life for their family, and Tina must navigate the world as the first American-born child of her family and keep to the cultural heritage of her mother and father. Both Alex and Gaby are expected to work in their parents' bodega everyday and help provide for their familia.
As a white child growing up, seeing such a diverse and realistic cast broadened my perspective of the world around me. Even more importantly, it served as a positive reinforcement to its non-white viewers that there were people like them out there that could make positive changes within their communities.
Clue 3: Teamwork & Intelligence Can Change the World
A lot of the shows I grew up watching focused on using physical might to solve your problems. Shows like He-Man, Transformers, and Ninja Turtles revolved around big battles and beating up the bad guys. While I love all of those shows, they didn't always send the most positive message to its youthful viewers. I can remember several times when I got in trouble for pretending to be Leonardo and throwing fake punches and kicks at my fellow classmates on the playground.
Ghostwriter wasn't about solving your problems with violence. It preached the importance of using your head and working together to come up with non-violent solutions.
The problems that the Ghostwriter Team faced centered around real life rather than mere fantasy. Throughout the series they dealt with cases involving theft, arson, gang violence, addiction, and kidnapping. Instead of swooping in with their fists, they gathered evidence and solved each case with the help of their floating, time-traveling Google search.
Above all else, the kids relied upon one another when times got tough. They didn't always get along, but the show taught the power of working together rather than going off and trying to face to world alone. It's a message that's still inspiring in a world that continues to become more and more insular.
I could go on and on about how much of an inspiration Ghostwriter was on my early life. Instead, I want to hear from you! What were some of the most influential shows of your childhood? How did they help shape you into the person you are today? Leave them below in the comments section! Oh, and when life gets you down, always remember...
by Adam Salzer
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another edition of Making the Grade!
Tonight is WWE Payback, the "Raw Exclusive" PPV event that also happens to feature a bunch of SmackDown stars thanks to the poorly-timed Superstar Shakeup. I'm going to try and not let my overtiredness cloud my opinions of the show. Let's see how it goes!
By: Troy Boesen
: MNT DEW KICKSTART YOUR HEART SHOW
Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs The Club (Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson)
The Build: The Club lost the Tag Titles to The Hardy Boyz and lost the subsequent rematch. Enzo and Big Cass answered an open challenge after The Golden Truth were thankfully destroyed by Braun Strowman. Despite The Club beating Enzo and Cass, we get a rematch here on the Paycheck Kick Off Show.
My Pick: The Club
WWE United States Championship (If Jericho Wins the title, he will join SmackDown): Kevin Owens © vs Chris Jericho
The Build: Owens and Jericho fought to a disappointing conclusion at Mania and this is Jericho’s rematch. Since the Superstar Shake Weight, Owens and Jericho have been separated from each other and this should be the last we see of Jericho for a while. If Jericho does win, he gets sent to SmackDown as well, because Kurt Angle’s pill brain is worse than Daniel Bryan’s concussion brain.
My Pick: Owens.
WWE Raw Tag Team Championship: The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff Hardy) © vs Cesaro and Sheamus
The Build: After a surprise return, The Fractured Hardyz won the Raw Tag Team Championships. Sheamus and Cesaro won a number 1 contender match to give them possibly one last chance to become two time champs.
My Pick: The Hardyzzzz, via Cesaro and Sheamus split.
House of Whores Match: Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt
The Build: What was once anticipated to be a great feud turned to rot before our very eyes man. The Eater of Worlds Bray Wyatt held the championship in his holy hands, only for the Viper to sneak up and snatch it away. Once the suits in charge decided that Bray should be moved to a new kingdom, there was one thing left to do, have a House of Whores match man. Now, I know you may be contemplating what a Waffle House of Horrors match is brother, but I can tell you, nobody knows. The title is not even on the line anymore man.
My Pick: Bray, Because Fuck SmackDown Live, Amirite!?
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Neville © vs Austin Aries
The Build: Austin Aries is the second best Cruiser on the roster, which is why he keeps winning number one contenders matches but Neville is the best. Austin Aries is like the Buffalo Bills when they lost four straight Super Bowls. #Sportsball #StayWoke.
My Pick: Neville
Roman Reigns vs Braun Strowman
The Build: Roman Reigns. Braun Strowman. Big sweaty men. Erections to be had.
My Pick: Braun Strowman via anything to keep Roman strong while not burying Braun so he can get buried by Brock.
Seth Rollins vs Samoa Joe
The Build: Joe is upset that Seth hurt Stephanie and Triple H. Joe should be upset he didn’t get paid for WrestleMania.
My Pick: Seth
WWE Raw Women’s Championship: Bayley © vs Alexa Bliss
The Build: The Superstar Weight Loss shake took Charlotte to SmackDown so she could continue to be terrible at promos and brought Alexa, who is arguably the best talker in the Women’s Division, to Raw. Alexa won a number one contenders match because we don’t know how to organically create feuds anymore. Bayley has had a very forgettable and very poorly received title run.
My Pick: Alexa Bliss.
By: Troy Boesen
Monday Night Raw was largely the ascension of Braun Strowman. Braun dominated the show and was a running theme throughout the episode. I’ve always been a fan of these types of episodes as long as the Superstar that is involved is entertaining. I don’t like it when Seth Rollins spends an episode searching for Triple H, and it doesn’t lead to anything. SmackDown Live this week proved that you can have your entire roster at odds with each other and can be great, so anytime that someone interacts with people they typically don’t, it’s usually great. Anyone who doesn’t comment on this article is a Vince Russo supporter. Just checking to see if you are actually reading this or not.
SmackDown Live was the Charlotte show. She was featured in three segments. James Ellsworth was also in three segments. The Usos and Becky Lynch were not featured. Let that one sink in. This show really felt like they did not have enough time to showcase everyone they wanted. SmackDown also has everyone mad at everyone else. While it is hard to figure out clear storylines, it’s great because people are not being segmented away from everyone else not in their feud.
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