LeaveIt2Beaver
Hey Extra Life Community -
 
We have some exciting news to share! In an effort to help make fundraising more fun, more accessible and ultimately easier, we’ve added two new applications to the Extra Life experience. Now you can fundraise through Facebook or on the go from your phone!
 

Extra Life Facebook App
Fundraising has never been quicker or easier than with the new Extra Life Facebook App. It installs in just a few seconds and allows you to opt-in to automatic status updates, upload Extra Life profile and cover pictures and ask your entire Facebook network for donations in just a few clicks. To start fundraising through the Extra Life Facebook App, login to to your Extra Life account, and click "Fundraise with Facebook" in the participant dashboard.
 

 
Extra Life Mobile App
Manage and share your Extra Life experience on the go with our new Extra Life mobile app. This free app lets you fundraise and connect with others through SMS, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Email. You can update your Extra Life page and check your fundraising progress all from the palm of your hand.

Download the app here: iPhone | Android
 
We’ve also spent the last couple of months improving the mobile experience on the Extra Life website so give the new apps a try. We want to hear what you think so send any feedback and ideas to community@extra-life.org or comment below and let us know!
For The Kids,

Mike Kinney
Team Extra Life
Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals
Jack Gardner
Many people remember the Super Mario Bros. movie from 1993. The live-action film involved Mario Mario (Bob Hoskins) and Luigi Mario (John Leguizamo) battling against Bowser (Dennis Hopper) and his minions across dimensions. It's... weird to say the least and it performed so catastrophically that Nintendo has rarely allowed its characters to set foot in another film since. However, many people don't know that there is actually another Super Mario Bros. movie that released several years before, becoming the first video game movie in history (along with another film that happened to release the same day, but that's a story for another time).
 
Super Mario Bros.: Peach-hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen!, which roughly translates to Super Mario Bros.: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach, released in Japanese theaters on July 20, 1986. The film was intended largely as an advertisement for the Famicom Disk System and the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 (known as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels), which had both released earlier that year. After its theatrical release, the film pretty much disappeared. Nintendo didn't consider the film worth distributing on VHS or bringing it to regions outside of Japan. However, the Super Mario Bros. anime did make it to a limited VHS and Betamax release that was solely intended for video rental outlets. This extremely small-scale distribution made it one of the rarest video cassette tapes in the world.
 

 
After tape-based media began to phase out in favor of DVDs, Nintendo did not re-release Super Mario Bros.: Peach-hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen! and the film fell into complete obscurity. The film was, for all intents and purposes, considered lost with only preserved magazine advertisements and a scattered assortment of merchandise testifying to its existence. Obsessed Mario Bros. fans scoured the world for years searching for one of the elusive tapes.
 
Then, several years ago, someone struck gold. Uploading the footage to YouTube, the source files for the movie began bouncing around the internet. Of course, the video ripped off of a VHS tape wasn't of the best quality, so a group of fans undertook a restoration effort, revamping the film into a crisp, clear experience and translating subtitles for English and Spanish audiences. These efforts concluded earlier this year in September when YouTuber Magiblot1 uploaded the most recently remastered version of the 60-minute film. 
 
 
These efforts weren't supported by Nintendo, of course, and several uploads of the unobtainable film have been taken down from YouTube. However, Magiblot1's restoration remains untouched by Nintendo's copyright arm - so far. Aside from watching these videos via streaming services like YouTube, the only other option is to track down an old VHS/Betamax tape. If you can manage to find a copy up for auction on an obscure corner of the internet (and that's a big if), expect to pay hundreds of dollars.
 
I'm not going to lie - this is a bizarre movie. For starters, Mario and Luigi live in our world, running a grocery store. Mario plays the Super Famicom to escape the drudgery of life, but one day Princess Peach leaps out of the screen of his television with Bowser in hot pursuit. The Koopa King manages to make off with Peach and life seems to return to normal. That is, until a dog from the Mushroom Kingdom manages to reopen the portal and seemingly recruit the brothers to rescue the princess. Though the film is ostensibly for kids, it does feature words that roughly translate into curses and a surprising amount of violence directed toward Luigi (who wears blue and yellow). One sequence in the film even involves Luigi tripping out on mushrooms.
 
All in all, this is a pretty fascinating piece of film and video game history that I feel glad to have seen. The strange eccentricity comes across as oddly endearing and I enjoyed it much more than the live-action film the followed it. Think of what might have been if this title had been localized for Western audiences and released prior to the 1993 debacle that largely tanked video game movies in the eyes of Hollywood and game publishers for almost two decades. The landscape of video game movies could be vastly different today if Nintendo had released its films a little differently.
StarkleSparkle
Article written by Eileen Howard, a sixth-year participant who plays for Nationwide Children's Hospital.

 
When I first learned about Extra Life back in 2010, I was living with my fiance and enjoying the life of an adult geek and gamer.  I saw my friend Steve Hamner participating and decided to join because I felt geeks and gamers in general still had quite a lousy reputation as being lazy and immature. I wanted to help show that we can make great things happen, too, just by doing what we love!
  
That all changed in 2014 though.  See I had a heart attack at the tender age of 40 in May of 2013.  So in 2014 I decided to have gastric bypass surgery to prevent a second heart attack or early stroke because I have a genetic lipid disorder.  So I had surgery August 1, 2014.  Two weeks later, in severe pain, sick as a dog, we rushed to the emergency room.  After some initial X-rays, blood tests, and more they came in and said, " Mrs. Howard, did you know that you are pregnant? "
 
I almost fell out of the bed!  For TWENTY YEARS I've battled, cried, and dealt with the sad state of "Non-Specific Infertility" and now suddenly, two weeks after a bypass they discover I'm pregnant at 41 years old!  We were shocked and nervous and thrilled.  Then they ran more tests, an MRI of my abdomen.  They found a small bowel obstruction and the phrase "emergency small bowel resection surgery" was uttered and I cried again.  
 
They said anesthesia would probably cause a miscarriage.  THEY WERE WRONG!  My baby had already survived my gastric bypass, and she survived the resection as well!  I had a fantastic pregnancy, despite all the tossing of cookies, and was honored with the arrival of Miriam Louisa Howard on April 13, 2015.  As the days unfolded after her delivery, more surprises were in store for us.  Miriam was born withtTrisomy 21, also known as Down Syndrome.  She has hearing loss in her right ear.  Then the scary stuff was revealed.  She was born with two heart defects - two  holes in her heart that were causing a back flow/overflow of blood through her lungs.  She had to have open heart surgery, and pretty quickly.  
  
September 16, 2015 was the longest day of my life.  I handed my 5 month old daughter over to strangers and asked them to perform open heart surgery on her, and save and extend her life for me.  I cried again. I have an unlimited supply of tears it would seem, both happy and sad!  That day was nerve-wracking but the amazing people at Nationwide Children's Hospital here in Ohio made it so much easier on us and they did a beautiful job on our baby girl!  She received the best care and was out of the hospital in just five days!  Her strength and resilience astound me.  She inspires me. She is my sunshine!  Her names literally mean " Wished For Child " (Miriam) and " Renowned Warrior " (Louisa).  She's worth waiting for and worth fighting for, and I intend to show her that every day for the rest of my life.  SHE is now Why I Extra Life!
 
 
Jack Gardner
Look, games are weird. We know that. Heck, one of the most recognizable video game characters ever is a plumber who frequently fights a dragon and fraternizes with royalty. Maize, a game about scientists who create sentient corn, might take that weirdness to new, a-maize-ing heights. 
 
The team at Finish Line Games has concocted a first-person adventure game that has players exploring a secret government facility that has been overrun by living, breathing, walking, talking corn-people created by two scientists who misread a government memo. Players must figure out the secrets of the facility and its corny residence with the help of Vladdy, a talking stuffed bear with a crabby attitude, a robotic backpack, and a Russian accent.
 
I don't have much to add, but Maize just looks like something everyone should be aware exists.
 
 
Maize is available now for PC.
Jack Gardner
What do you get when you lock the creator of Killer7 and No More Heroes in a room with a copy of Dark Souls and hallucinogenic mushrooms? Probably something that very much resembles Let It Die, a third-person action game about trying to reach the top of a tower with the help of Uncle Death, a grim reaper who rides a rocket skateboard. The quirky title appeared for free on the PlayStation a couple days ago and it's all kinds of strange.
 
Players begin Let It Die with nothing but some snazzy underwear and the goal of fighting their way to the top of The Tower of Barbs. To do that, players must collect everything that isn't nailed down as they fight through crazy enemies and bosses, because those things might just help to not die. However, most players will die. A lot. Go in with that expectation because the game creators have put together a beginner's guide for those who find the game too frustrating. Fittingly, dying represents one of the main hooks of Let It Die. Every time a player succumbs to the dangers of the tower, their "death data" uploads to every other player's game and becomes an enemy in the tower for everyone playing. 
 
 
The free-to-play model of Let It Die focuses on death, too. When players die they can either start from zero experience with an entirely new character or fork over some cash to continue with their old character from where they died. this will probably prove to be a turn-off to many, but the core gameplay encourages players to embrace the loss and press on, much like Dark Souls. 
 
Let It Die is available now on PlayStation 4 and has Remote Play, so it can also be played on the PlayStation Vita.
 
Jack Gardner
A new season of Telltale's The Walking Dead begins later this month, which has led to a lot of people wondering what exactly it will be about. Last week, Telltale gave just a bit more information via a sequence taken from the first episode of the upcoming series. In it, we get to know one of our main protagonists, Javier, as he and his family go through the initial outbreak of the zombie virus. At the end of the trailer, we see the heart of Telltale's The Walking Dead: Clementine. 
 
 
The scene with Javier's family takes place years before the events of the game itself, with a more grown up and weathered Clementine. She looks like she's seen some more human depravity and now comes wielding a shotgun. It's both heartbreaking and gratifying to see that the world hasn't taken her down yet. Javier and Clementine will be dealing with pockets of civilization that have formed and adapted to the zombie apocalypse.
 
There have been some obvious improvements to the Telltale Engine, the software Telltales uses to run their games. Animations seem smoother, environments present more objects and details, and the lighting effects have improved (though the eye shine seems a bit distracting).
 
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier premiers on December 20 with two episodes titled titled 'Ties That Bind Part 1' and 'Ties That Bind Part 2.' The episodic adventure series is slated to come to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and mobile devices on the 20th, but Telltale says that it will also come to other platforms at an unspecified time in the future, so Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners might still see versions come their way.  
Jack Gardner
Telltale Games had a lot of news to drop last week at The Game Awards 2016. The long rumored Marvel-Telltale team up was revealed to be Guardians of the Galaxy with a short teaser referencing the cassette tape mixes featured in the Guardians of the Galaxy film. The series is set to premier sometime in 2017, likely around Guardians of the Galaxy 2's May 5th release date. 
 
Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series allows players to control the various members of the team as they adventure around the galaxy. Not much is known about the core story angle, but it's likely that it will tie in with the film in some capacity. "The energizing blend of humor, emotion, teamwork, and full-on sci-fi action-adventure of the Guardians provides an enormously satisfying space to explore through Telltale’s unique style of interactive storytelling," explained Kevin Bruner, Telltale Games' co-founder and CEO. Marvel's senior vice president of games and innovation, Jay Ong seems keen to reassure fans that the game won't be a rehash of one of the movies, telling fans that they should expect to be "immersed in an original, character-driven narrative."
 
 
Jack Gardner
We are only a day out from the release of The Last Guardian, the game that has taken Team Ico over eleven years to create. Earlier this year we discussed the developer's first game, Ico, and the impact it had on game development going forward. To be a bit topical, we are happy to present a lengthy, in-depth look at Team Ico's second game, Shadow of the Colossus. The 2005 PlayStation 2 title carried the spirit of Ico into a large open-world full of magic, danger, and beautiful stillness. Though not glowingly received by critics at the time, regard for the third-person adventure game seems to have grown over the years. Usually opinions on a game degrade over time, so the case of Shadow of the Colossus might strike some as particularly odd. Has a large segment of the gaming population collectively chosen to wear rose-colored glasses or have people been slowly realizing the merits of the game that pits a man against living mountains?
 
Also, this marks the one year anniversary of The Best Games Period podcast - a huge thank you to everyone who took the time out of their day to listen in each week. We really appreciate those of you who have left comments and reviews. We hope that you'll stick with us as we keep talking about the best games through 2017 and beyond! 
 
Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative.
 

 
Outro music: 'The Sunlit Earth' by Kow Otani (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POTlM3SyMVo)

You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod
 
New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
StarkleSparkle
Article written by Melissa Megan, a fourth-year participant who plays for UF Health Shand's Children's Hospital.

The handsome kid you see above is my nephew, Dusty. Video games were always important to him for many reasons, not least of all because the games kept him busy, distracted and happy during his long hospital stays at Shands Children's Hospital.
 
Dusty battled Cystic Fibrosis and we lost him in 2013.
 
He and I shared a love for video games and comic books and that mutual love helped us stay connected over the years, even when we lived on opposite ends of the country. I started doing Extra Life when Dusty was still here, to show support and appreciation for all the hard work  Shands Children's Hospital had always done for my family, and now I continue to do it every year to honor his memory.
 
There are lots more kids sitting in hospital beds, desperately needing a distraction from the unique difficulty of their lives, and video games are still a small comfort for those kids. This is why I Extra Life. To honor my family, to say thank you for the years of care and dedication from Shand's Childrens Hospital and to keep helping in the small way that I can.
 
 
Jack Gardner
The developers of Dishonored 2 revealed a tantalizing 9 minutes of gameplay showcasing Prey. Their upcoming project takes place on a space station that has come under attack by mysterious, shadowy being with the ability to manipulate the world around themselves in mind-bending ways. By surviving, crafting, and upgrading themselves with human and alien abilities, players might just be able to make it out alive.
 
Creative director Raphael Colantonio and lead designer Ricardo Bare narrate the gameplay trailer, which demonstrates some of the basic combat and uses for weapons outside of fighting. Prominently featured is the glue gun, which can freeze tricky mimics in place, but also create platforms to climb on and a way to plug flaming pipes. We also are able to see how gameplay will work when you can turn yourself into any environmental object, like a cup. The ability combinations are already intriguing and only a handful have even been revealed - from an extensive catalog, if the skill trees are to be believed. 
 
 
The whole thing feels an awful lot like System Shock, right down to the wrench the protagonist carries to fend off enemies at the start. If what we are essentially going to be getting a polished BioShock in space experience, I am all in on that idea. 
 
Prey launches sometime in 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. 
Jack Gardner
Shovel Knight released to critical acclaim and financial success in 2014, becoming one of the most noteworthy indie darlings of the year for its retro aesthetic, tight controls, and boppin' soundtrack (yeah, boppin' - I said it). The DLC campaign Plague of Shadows followed in 2015. The new campaign allowed players to take on the mantle of Plague Knight, one of Shovel Knight's antagonists. Yacht Club Games revealed their next game in that retro platforming world at The Game Awards 2016: Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment.
 
The new side-scrolling platformer has been created from the ground up to play differently than the original Shovel Knight. It follows the quest of Specter Knight to assemble the Order Of No Quarter, the league of knights who allied themselves with the evil Enchantress from the original Shovel Knight. Because Yacht Club Games started from scratch to create Specter of Torment, fans can expect to encounter new everything. The game will look different, sound different, and play different.   
 
While Shovel Knight was clearly a homage to Mega Man, Specter of Torment seems to be Mega Man-meets-Castlevania. Much of the gameplay seems based around movement and melee combat. The influence seems to extend to the soundtrack and visuals, too, which adopt more gothic, tones.
 
 
Players can expect to get their hands on Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment when it releases Spring 2017. Yacht Club Games is also planning to release a campaign focused around King Knight sometime after, though details on that are scarce. Like Plague of Shadows, both Specter of Torment and the campaign for King Knight will be free updates for those who have purchased the base Shovel Knight game. 
Jack Gardner
If The Game Awards 2016 had an category for "Most Enigmatic Trailer" Hideo Kojima's further unveiling of Death Stranding would have taken it home easily. Famous for its E3 reveal featuring a weeping Norman Reedus in the nude holding a baby in the middle of a dried seabed filled with dead whales and crabs (yes, that really happened), Death Stranding left many wondering exactly what Kojima Production's first game might be about. Unfortunately, the new, longer trailer seems to hold few answers, but that hasn't stopped fans from trying to guess as to what it all might mean.
 
The new teaser, which clocks in at about five minutes takes place in an emptied riverbed, reminiscent of the first trailer, with a digitized Guillermo del Toro seeking refuge in a sewer from a conflict raging above. Planes fly over bombed out buildings, an inverted rainbow arcing away from the ground above them. Del Toro can be seen looking back in horror at something happening behind him. We see he has what looks to be a surgery scar running across his forehead and a badge with an image of the United States of America crossed by a massive spiderweb with the word or acronym BRIDGES written above it. 
 
 
As Guillermo del Toro is about to enter the sewers, a tank rumbles over the entrance, covered in large internal organs, human skeletons, and the autonomously moving black ooze omnipresent in both trailers. Soldiers follow behind, similarly streaked with ooze and linked both together and to the tank via a long umbilical cord. As they pass overhead, water begins to return to the riverbed. We finally see that del Toro has been carrying a large canister this entire time, a canister that contains a baby. Guillermo hooks what appears to be his own block umbilical cord into the canister and the baby seems to awaken, opening one eye to stare directly at the camera. A doll cast aside long ago begins floating down the river, into the sewer, bumping into del Toro as it passes. He then stumbles into the sewer as if he expects to see someone just around the corner. 
 
The camera follows the doll as it floats through the sewer and begins to fill the surrounding water with an orange glow, a glow that is faintly answered farther down the tunnel. Soldiers step out of the darkness, armed to the teeth and wearing skull masks. They all appear to be attached via black umbilical cords to their leader, portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen. Mikkelsen seems to be able to command his unit wordlessly and without gestures (he gives gestures, but he is clearly standing behind them and outside of their line of sight). With a swipe of his hand, his helmet dematerializes and the umbilical cords between him and the soldiers follow suit, setting them free to hunt the sewers for their prey. The doll bumps into Mikkelsen's leg, its broken body bearing a disturbingly similar scar to the one Norman Reedus bore in the first trailer. The doll's only remaining eye opens, revealing an unnervingly real eye as a scream seems to come from it. Mikkelsen smiles.
 
All of it adds up to whatever Death Stranding is - and there are now a lot of theories as to what this game might be. There are a dizzying number of them. People have proposed everything from nanomachines to quirks of quantum physics leading to the reanimation of the dead to some kind of post-apocalyptic civil war. Personally, I have my own interpretation. Hear me out:
 

 
There's a number of signs that make me think Death Stranding could be an alien invasion story. The mysterious black ooze seems to be alive, behaving in decidedly unearthly ways. So far, we have only seen two characters who aren't covered by the black ooze, del Toro and Reedus (though he does have a vision of black ooze on his hands). This, combined with the advent of technology no human would really have a desire or see the necessity in inventing (i.e. connecting one's self to other people or technology via a synthetic umbilical cord), indicate that not only is this black ooze alien in origin, but it might even be a method of mind control.
 
Yes, mind control - I believe Death Stranding is going to focus heavily on psychic powers. The compass on Mikkelsen's combat jacket can be seen spinning crazily as he sets his soldiers free from their cords. A psychic link would seemingly explain how he is able to coordinate them from behind without any obvious form of communication. Also, it would fit with the recurring symbol of three eyes, which I believe is a reference to the concept of a psychic/spiritual "third" eye. Perhaps these umbilical babies are means of hiding from psychic enemies or the umbilical link helps them to become inoculated to mind control. Given del Toro's possession of a baby (with a seemingly cruder cord than Mikkelsen's), his medical forehead scar, and the badge on his coat, I'd hazard a guess that he's a scientist working for the BRIDGES organization, maybe even one that specializes in the aliens or in psychic research.  
 
 
There are other little details that I think might indicate aliens. The tank covered in large internal organs seems to indicate either some altercation with a beached whale or perhaps a larger organic creature. I'd speculate that the weirdly receding and returning water that resulted in dead aquatic life in both trailers might be due to super massive ships throwing off tidal patterns by being too close to the planet. A large ship might also explain what del Toro was looking back at in such horror and the oddly inverted rainbow in the sky. Aliens would also explain some of the futuristic-looking technology the trailers display for brief moments, like the glowing handcuffs both del Toro and Reedus wear. Finally, this alien theory would also gel with the older theory that Reedus' character eventually dons the space suit/armor featured in the Kojima Productions logo (the video for which states the game being shown is Death Stranding). 
 
Whatever Death Stranding turns out to be, it will certainly be interesting. The internet can't seem to get enough of Hideo Kojima's penchant for weirdness - and that's exactly what the game seems to be tapping into.