Why I Still Love Yu-Gi-Oh! (Guest Post)

A great post from Latonya Pennington

A few months ago, I had the strong urge to play a card strategy video game. I tried the moblie game Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft and the mobile version of Magic The Gathering and was unsatisfied. Then, I pulled out my old Nintendo DS Lite and insert the game card Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Spirit Callers, continuing a saved game I had never finished. It wasn’t long before I felt my childhood joy return.

Yu-Gi-Oh! is one of the biggest anime franchises ever, containing several manga and anime series and an extremely popular trading card game. This year is the the 20th anniversary of the franchise and it’s so big that an all-new movie was made with the characters from the very first series. Titled Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions, the film premiered in Japan earlier this year and will be released worldwide next year.

As someone who grew up watching the original Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series, I am super excited for this film. In the United States, the original series revolved around a young boy named Yugi Muto and a card strategy game known as Duel Monsters. With the help of an ancient Egyptian artifact called The Millennium Puzzle, Yugi calls on the spirit that resides in the puzzle to help him win the duels of Duel Monsters. More often than not, these duels involved evil characters that put Yugi’s loved ones and the world at stake.

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I got into Yu-Gi-Oh! in 2001 after I heard my guy friends pretending to duel each other at lunch. At the time, the Pokémon franchise was big and I never thought anything could surpass our love for Pokémon. One day, I had wanted to have pretend Pokémon battles with my guy friends but they told me, “We’re dueling now.” They told me about Yu-Gi-Oh! and I managed to catch an episode on Saturday morning on the channel Kids WB. Needless to say, I was hooked.

Looking back, I think the original reason Yu-Gi-Oh! appealed to me was that it catered to my love of fantasy fiction. While it wasn’t a Harry Potter level of fantasy, the creatures used in Duel Monsters and the mysterious Millennium Puzzle spirit had elements of fantasy that entertained me a lot. I was also drawn toward the voice acting, especially that of Dan Green, who voices both Yugi and the Millennium puzzle spirit Yami. Once I started watching the series, my guy friends and I would discuss episodes and have our own pretend duels.

Yu-Gi-Oh! was also significant because it was the first anime that I watched that was specifically aimed at a male audience. Pokemon was a franchise with male and female characters sharing the spotlight, but Yu-Gi-Oh! mostly had male characters getting the attention. Moreover, Pokémon was family friendly, but Yu-Gi-Oh! had more action adventure and darker themes as it progressed. Yet, my guy friends and I had fun with the series until we went our separate ways for middle school.

Although I would end up playing four Yu-Gi-Oh! video games from 2002 onward, I didn’t own a true-blue Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters video game until I got Spirit Callers sometime in the late 2000’s. The reason for this was mostly due to a couple misunderstandings with my family. Although I told my family that I’d wanted a Yu-Gi-Oh! game for my b-day or Christmas I didn’t tell them a specific game. As a result, I got Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Coliseum for the Playstation 2, which was the chess version of Duel Monsters.

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While Capsule Coliseum was enjoyable, I preferred a game involving the card version of Duel Monsters. After playing this game, one demo of a PC game, and one Blockbuster video game rental, I finally got Spirit Callers. By that time, the original Yu-Gi-Oh! series was over and so was my interest in the franchise. Despite this, I managed to enjoy playing the game, summoning monsters and dueling until I was content. I never finished the game back then, but I hope to beat it this time around.

Although I don’t have as much time to play video games as I used to, I’ve come to appreciate Spirit Callers more than I did as a kid. Now an older and wiser duelist, I’ve learned to build better decks in the game and have become a pretty good strategist. My personal favorite deck I have in Spirit Callers is called Sword and Sorcery, which features mostly warrior and spell caster monster cards and spell and trap cards that suit them.

When it comes to my Sword and Sorcery deck, my favorite monster cards are the Dark Magician, Dark Magician Girl, and Magician of Black Chaos. The only thing I love more than these cards is the spell card Polymerization, which allows you to fuse monsters to create a more powerful monster. In fact, my favorite fusion so far is Elemental Hero Thunder Giant. He’s come in handy when destroying monsters!

With anniversaries like Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! being celebrated this year, 90’s kids like me are nostalgic. Everyone has that one cartoon from their childhood that they will always cherish and for me that is Yu-Gi-Oh!. The card game was (and still is) fun, the voice acting was great, and the theme song is epic. If you asked me want I wanted to be in the world of anime, I think a Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist would most likely be my choice. It’s time to du- du-duel! Happy 20th anniversary Yu-Gi-Oh!

 

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You can find Latonya on Twitter at
@TonyaWithAPen and at https://www.linkedin.com/in/tonyapenn

To Infinity and Beyond: No Man’s Sky Review

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Written by: Nick Porter

 

The vastness of space has always captivated the imagination of many for thousands of years. When one looks into the night sky, questions of the possibility of different life forms, civilizations, and galaxies run rampant. Media has greatly influenced that imagination, from Star Trek to Forbidden Planet in movie cinema to Colony Wars and Space Invaders in video games, space has always been the “final frontier.” When No Man’s Sky was initially announced, the thought of exploring space was too intriguing not to pass up. Actually playing No Man’s Sky, I got just that.  

No Man’s Sky is from British game developer Hello Games. You play the role of an unnamed and ungendered person. The main plot of the game…well, is there one? The point of the game is to explore the many galaxies and get to the center of the universe. How many you say? Hello Games managed to put over 18 quintillion, yes quintillion, planets into this game.

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More specifically 18,446,744,073,709,551,616. To put that into perspective, you would need over 5 million years to visit each and every planet. There’s never been a game in recent memory that boasted this many planets to visit and explore.

When you initially begin No Man’s Sky, there’s no beginning video sequence, no backstory, no introduction to the game. You are placed on a random planet and forced to basically survive. The game doesn’t give any kind of tutorial or instruction. It’s literally survive or die. And that is the main theme throughout the game. During your voyage through space, you can mine a variety of minerals such as iron or plutonium, meet and learn about alien races, and map different species of plants and animals. You can also name these discovered species as well as the planets and galaxies, thereby cementing that specific name in the No Man’s Sky servers (P.S. if you come across a galaxy named “House of St. Laurent” it’s yours truly).no-mans-sky-screenshot

The game isn’t without faults. There have been many times that the game simply froze up on me. Not sure if that’s just latency or an issue with the game itself.  I would have like the monoliths to be greatly different while visiting each alien races rather than similarly alike.  One of the major hopes I’d love to see in the games is actually seeing other gamers while traversing the galaxies. Reminiscent of Demon and Dark Souls series. Rumors that some kind of multiplayer aspect have run rampant across the internet, let’s hope that some part of the rumor holds true.
Now some people would say that there’s not enough action in No Man’s Sky to warrant its purchase. And that’s a fair assessment. This game will not be for everyone. However, if you’re looking for something that is unlike what’s out, I’d highly recommend this game. No Man’s Sky is one of those few games that let you loose on the entire cosmos and discover its many mysteries. That feeling of discovery and piecing together ancient civilization’s history is something I have never found in a video game. I highly commend Sean Murray and everyone at Hello Games in introducing wonderment and imagination back into space games. Let us hope that, that kind of ingenuity will be injected into all genres of video games.

Shoot ‘Em Up Style: Overwatch Review

From the first moment I loaded Overwatch and the thunderous John Williams like music boomed from my TV, I knew this game was not your typical first person shooter.

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Overwatch is from developer Blizzard Entertainment, most famous for World of Warcraft and Diablo. It was released on 05/14 for the Xbox One, PS4, and PC. The game pits players on teams of six into competitive modes on exotic locales throughout the world. At first, the game has a level of simplicity that appears to be behind the time of modern day first person shooter, however I was so wrong.

Overwatch has a very deep gameplay that’s not found in today’s FPS’s. With a roster of over 15 shooters each with different abilities, the game is completely unique in every way. In fact, it brings something new to  FPS.

Ingenuity.

Characters are split into four different categories: offense, defense, support, and tank. Players can swap different heroes on the fly in combat after death, whether it be the French speaking sniper, Widowmaker, or if you need a healer in the way of Mercy. Changing heroes during the middle of a battle can literally mean the difference between victory and defeat.

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What I believed to be one of the greatest accomplishments Overwatch achieved was the inclusion of so many different women. Recently game developers have come under justifiable scrutiny for not including women as playable characters.

Developers at Ubisoft, creator of the Assassin Creed series, mentioned in a 2014 interview that creating main protagonist women characters are “too difficult to animate.” Which is particularly “interesting “considering they’re the same company that created Assassin Creed: Liberation which featured a woman as the main protagonist. There have been many games as the main characters, but that is another story.

However, what’s missing from their roster of badass women is a Black female character.  Hopefully, this will change in the updated versions.

The gameplay is fast and the graphics pop out like a fluid Japanese inspired cartoon. With more content and characters on the way, Overwatch will be played throughout much of the year. It is very much a contender for game of the year by many.

Written by Nick Porter