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iambrooke_
Now through September 30, GameStop stores and online at GameStop.com will be accepting donations to help local kids. One hundred percent of all customer donations collected will be equally distributed to help kids going through treatment at one of the 170 local CMN Hospitals or by having their wish granted by Make-A-Wish.
 
Learn more about our partnership and how you can help kids like Mia treated at Children's Miracle Network Hospitals by reading GameStop's official campaign announcement.


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 a new application to the Extra Life experience. Now you can fundraise through our mobile app made possible by a grant from the ESA Foundation! 
 

 
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. Learn more in our best practices section!

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
Namco Bandai has announced that they will be offering Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War in its entirety as a pre-order incentive for Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown. It will be available for both digital and physical editions of Ace Combat 7, though those who opt for the physical copy could miss out on a dynamic theme.
 
Here's what's included in the pre-order bundle:
 
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown dynamic theme - only available for digital pre-orders A McDonnell Douglas F-4E plane and three aircraft skins Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War   
Ace Combat 7 will be a full $60 at launch with a season pass available for $25 that includes three extra planes, three new stages, and an in-game music player. A deluxe edition will be sold digitally that packages the game with the season pass and will include the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter plane.
 

 
Presumably, this means that Namco Bandai has updated Ace Combat 5 for modern systems, which might be worth the price of admission on its own. The hightlight of the PlayStation 2 run of the Ace Combat series, 5 puts players in the middle of a fictionalized version of our world, dubbed affectionately Strangereal, that has its two major superpowers on the brink of turning its Cold War into a hot one. The characters, flight controls, and scenarios are all excellent as each mission escalates in intensity. It's one of the best arcade flight sims out there, so seeing it in the air once again will be a real treat.
 
We got some time to play with Ace Combat 7's VR features hands-on last year and it was a really amazing experience. Despite being the seventh numbered title in the Ace Combat series, 7 will be a direct sequel to 5. Sunau Katabuchi, the writer of Ace Combat 5, will return to write for Skies Unknown and has left open the possibility that characters from The Unsung War will return to fly again. The story will focus on the political conflict over the construction of a massive space elevator that spans multiple nations. 
 
 
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown will release on January 18, 2018 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The VR version will be exclusive to the PS4 version.
 
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! 

Jack Gardner
Over the next few days, PlayStation Now subscribers will start seeing the ability to download PlayStation 4 compatible games onto their PS4 systems. This move will allow players to choose between streaming titles via a stable internet connection or playing them locally, though Sony is careful to point out that the system will have to "check-in" every few days to verify the PS Now subscription for games downloaded through the service.
 
This could be a gamechanger for the service that has typically been flamed for having too much lag when used with less than ideal internet service providers. The only catch is that players can only download games that can be run locally by the PS4. That means that any PlayStation 2 classic or PlayStation 3 game that hasn't been remastered for PS4 cannot be downloaded and played locally. 
 
Every downloadable PS Now game will "support" DLC, microtransactions, and add-ons. "Support" in this case meaning that players will be able to buy all of those things for games they have downloaded. Games that have been downloaded will continue to support multiplayer without PlayStation Plus, just like their streaming counterparts. 
 
In kind of a weird decision, if you have been making use of cloud saves via PS Now and want to transfer those saves to a downloaded version of the same game, you will need a PlayStation Plus membership to enable that transition. Essentially, players will need to move the save file from their PS Now cloud saves to their PS Plus cloud saves and from there download the files to their PlayStation 4. It seems a bit of a convoluted way to go about the transfer, but maybe it's due to technological limitations and not simply a scheme to grab up some more Plus subscribers. 
 
Overall, this is a very interesting move that could further the cause of subscription gaming by opening up that model to downloaded games. However, it also seems a bit like trying to have cake and eat it too with the enabling of microtransactions and DLC on top of the PS Now subscription and a PS Plus subscription necessary to transfer saves.
 
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

iambrooke_
Yep. You read that right. Participants now fundraising for Children's Miracle Network hospitals and foundations in Canada can now receive donations in the Canadian currency.
 
How does it work?
By default, any donor who donates via credit card on www.extra-life.org and has a Canadian billing address will automatically be charged in CAD. All other transactions will be processed in USD.
 
What does this mean for you? It means that any donations, platinum upgrades or registration fees Canadian registrants pay will be processed in CAD (assuming you're using a credit card that is registered with a billing address in Canada).  It also means that any friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, strangers on the train, etc. who live in Canada and support fundraising efforts will also be charged in CAD.  
To put it simply, there's no more need to worry about those tricky conversion rates!     This upgrade to the website will make it easier for Canadian Extra Lifers to play games, heal kids. The fundraising is turn-key, when and how you play is up to you, and children's hospitals win. Every time!    We've posted more information about this upgrade at this link. Stay tuned for more improvements to the participant and donor experience coming soon.

Jack Gardner
The trio embarks on a nighttime manhunt for the thieves that stole Sean's divine gear. Their search brings them face-to-face with the criminal underbelly of Riverton.
 
We Wanted Adventurers is a liveplay Dungeons & Dragons podcast that follows a motley trio of unlikely heroes as they bumble into adventures both big and small across the fantastical continent of Nevarrone. For the uninitiated, a liveplay podcast features an unscripted recording of a traditional tabletop roleplaying game, with all of the goofs and drama that comes with the territory.
 

You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. You can follow the show on Twitter for updates. Let us know what you think of the show! We know that some parts of it are a bit bumpy, but I hope it doesn't get in the way of your enjoyment as we all learn and grow together. Thank you for listening! 
 
New episodes of We Wanted Adventurers will be released every Wednesday
 
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner

Review: Marvel's Spider-Man

By Jack Gardner, in Features,

How does one make something new while retaining the weight of lore and history that comes with a premise that has been reborn again and again countless times in fiction? Marvel has certainly struggled with this question in their cinematic universe and various game developers have their own takes on classic superheroes. Often each iteration retells the heroic beginnings of the headlining hero or makes some connection with a popular continuity of said character. Insomniac Games seems to have been answered the question by skipping the iconic moments of the wall-crawler's origin story altogether in order to tackle the sophomore issues of being a hero. 
 
"With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" - Everyone even remotely familiar with Spider-Man knows the final commandment of Uncle Ben, Peter Parker's father figure who dies early on in his origin story. Usually, when a piece of media starts off with this, we see Parker struggle with figuring out exactly how much responsibility he has to be using his power to help others. Given that Marvel's Spider-Man takes place roughly eight years after the events that made Peter Parker into a superpowered webslinger, it needs to address a different idea. There aren't any quotes delivered on the dying breath of a beloved old man, but the game tackles the issue of what happens to people who have accepted that responsibility but find forces beyond their control pushing them, perverting that sense of duty. How does someone good go on to commit brutal and evil acts despite the goodness they displayed and what does it take to stop them?   
 

 
When Marvel's Spider-Man roars to life with all cylinders blazing, it captures how much larger-than-life everyday struggles can feel sometimes. Clashing with the colossal force of Rhino or dodging the blasts of a villain whose on-the-nose name is "Mr. Negative" can be seen as a fight against the worst parts inside all of us. And part of what makes that resonate so much is that Peter Parker doesn't walk away unscathed. Over the course of the game, these fights take their toll. He is slashed, burned, stabbed, blasted, and crushed. At one point he has so many broken ribs that his allies tell him he shouldn't be standing. Peter, despite all the impediments thrown into his way, continues to do his best to stand by that responsibility, sacrificing himself at every turn. All of this he does while having ample opportunities to walk away and spare himself. 
 
In many ways, the way Peter fights as Spider-Man fits into the classic mold of a hero who does what is right no matter the cost to himself. If that's all one is looking for in a game about superheroes, then Marvel's Spider-Man will fulfill that desire. If, however, you're looking for a game that has things to say about the myriad of issues that those acts of heroism touch upon, Marvel's Spider-Man might fall a bit flat.
 

 
For a super genius with a heart for justice, Peter Parker seems surprisingly unwoke about the systemic issues around him, focusing on the symptoms of various problems instead of the root causes themselves. All of this would be fine if this was a story about a Spider-Man just getting the hang of the hero business, but the game makes a point to show Peter has been at this for a long while now. Of course, one could argue that this version of New York is one without any systemic issues, but the text of the game indicates that's not true. The opening scene has corrupt cops attempting to murder Spider-Man (something that isn't really seen as abnormal by anyone involved); Oscorp routinely poisons the air and water in the name of profits (which Spider-Man fixes, but also doesn't report, effectively letting the billion dollar company off the hook); and both Peter and Aunt May work at a local homeless shelter. However, during all of Spider-Man's running monologues as he traverses the city, he never talks about the systemic issues that lead to those things being problems. Where are his comments about trying to reform the police in some way so as to discourage cops taking bribes? Why doesn't Spider-Man hold the billion dollar corporation responsible for being so focused on profiting that it is willing to allow people to be poisoned? How does Peter Parker not even consider the reality of income inequality staring him in the face when he moves between the world of Norman Osborne and that of FEAST, the homeless shelter at which he volunteers?
 
The omission of any opining comments from Peter on these topics and issues certainly stems from the desire to keep Marvel's Spider-Man as uncontroversial as possible. Clearly, Peter as a character would care about all of those issues, but the game goes out of its way to avoid topics that might be touchy in the current context. Though the in-game world is presented to us as a version of New York City, you won't see Spider-Man or Peter Parker attending a rally against police corruption or breaking up a gathering of Neo-Nazis. There won't be talk about the forces that evict people out onto the street, though the game implies that rent prices are out of control and the care provided for mental health issues is inadequate. Ultimately, its desire to avoid saying anything that might be even slightly seen as controversial leaves Marvel's Spider-Man feeling a bit hollow once the dazzling feeling of swinging between skyscrappers wears off. 
 
To clarify, since this topic has become something of a sticking point for the game since its release: The decision to tiptoe around most of its relevant social issues doesn't make Marvel's Spider-Man bad. It's simply a noticeable narrative decision that might lead to its story being forgettable over time.
 

 
To Insomniac's credit, that shine doesn't wear off quickly. Easily the best parts of Spider-Man are when the game leaves the player to traverse the city and do street-level hero things. Stopping a burglary in progress, disarming a bomb threat, or saving people from the wreckage of a car accident are all thrilling in their own way, but getting to the scene stands as the best part of any of these encounters. Swinging through the city, right from the beginning, feels amazing. The game knows this and has players shooting webs onto buildings within five minutes of booting up the game. As players progress along the three skill trees, new traversal abilities will unlock, making Spider-Man faster, giving him new abilities to keep up momentum, and it results in this gentle learning curve that keeps things fresh from the beginning of the game until the credits roll. 
 
However, once I hit the credits scene, complete with clips teasing what future games in this series will be about, I felt fully and totally done. The side content, while enjoyable based on the traversal mechanics alone, isn't terribly interesting. It serves as a decent distraction while going through the main game, avoiding the charge of being bloated fluff by virtue of the overall solid gameplay mechanics and the various tokens you get from doing them that can be used to upgrade gear or unlock new spider suits. However, the stories relegated to the side missions just aren't that interesting even when drawing on fun bits of lore. (Also, Insomniac, make Mysterio a proper villain, you cowards) 
 

 
It's a bit of a missed opportunity because one of the most intriguing decisions Insomniac made with regards to their Spider-Man game is that there are a number of missions where you take on the role of Mary Jane and Miles Morales and need to use stealth and trickery to sneak through different areas. These segments actually had a lot of potential for expansion into interesting side missions, but are only used in the main story under tightly controlled circumstances. Early on, there is a great section where Mary Jane sneaks into a facility owned by Wilson Fisk to collect some evidence and must do some sneaking and puzzle solving. It's fun and a breath of fresh air; seeing more iteration on that idea would have been really neat, maybe adding a social element to it and some more fleshed out stealth options. Miles is given some extreme hacking abilities that would make for awesome stealth gameplay, too, but that never fully pays off in any satisfying way. 
 
The little touches around the edges of Marvel's Spider-Man really give it a lot of character. Subtle musical call backs to The Avengers thrum through the most climactic moments. Gaining momentum while flipping through New York City results in a flurry of stringed instruments adding to the sense of speed and wonder. Different camera options in the obligatory photo mode (something no modern game should be without at this point) give players a lot of different options with which to play and get those perfect shots. The diverse array of suits are also really nice, and it was a great idea to tie them to specific powers that are then unlocked on every other suit. Heck, the game even has a Stan Lee guest appearance which was absolutely lovely. 
 

 
Conclusion:
 
Marvel's Spider-Man might just be the best Spider-Man game ever made. It's gorgeously realized, cinematic as heck, for better and worse, and delivers a powerhouse of a final act. It also isn't perfect. Its side missions are dull, saved from mundane boredom by some rock solid traversal mechanics and adequate combat. Seriously, swinging through a city has never been as fun as it is in this particular Spider-Man game. All of that is built on a story about heroism; what it truly means to not just become a hero, but to live like one, too. While it misses the opportunity to be about a much more encompassing and larger idea of what heroes should be outside of the individual, punching-bad-guys level, that core conceit should be enough for just about anyone to enjoy Marvel's Spider-Man. Here's hoping that the sequel builds off of this simple foundation for a significantly bolder narrative that tackles some of the more grounded problems of our current times.   
 

 
Marvel's Spider-Man is now available on PlayStation 4. 
 
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

iambrooke_
I Extra Life for TORI!
 
Victoria is the reason Extra Life was started and is my reason to participate in this cause. My life changed after Victoria was diagnosed, we are cousins and very close in age so her being sick was very hard for me to understand- then my life changed, even more, when we lost her.

For a very long time, I would try to volunteer at hospitals or be involved in other ways to help kids and I just couldn't bring back memories of her being in the hospital. Now with Extra Life, I enjoy participating, we are playing games, putting a smile on children's faces and players faces, and most of all we are raising money and awareness so that one day someone's life doesn't have to change because of a nasty disease!
 

 
This post was submitted through Extra Life's Why I Extra Life by Extra Lifer Shelly Magoulas playing for Texas Children's Hospital. You can learn more about Extra Life at extra-life.org. 

Jack Gardner
From humble beginnings as a Kickstarter project to becoming one of the biggest indie darlings of 2016, Hyper Light Drifter has quite the history of defying expectations. Gorgeous pixel art animations and vistas, dialogue-less storytelling, and a fantastic soundtrack by Disasterpeace came together to tell a gripping tale about a lone wanderer in a sci-fi apocalypse. 
 
While all of the pieces come together for a solid game, do they gel well enough to create something considered one of the best games of all-time?
 
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: A Link to the Past 'Chamber of the Goddess' by Disasterpeace (http://ocremix.org/album/33/25yearlegend-a-legend-of-zelda-indie-game-composer-tribute)
 
You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available, as well!
 
If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod 
 
New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
 
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

iambrooke_
When I was little, I was always in and out of the ICU due to my bad asthma. I remember there being a small game room, back in the day, at Arkansas Children's Hospital. When I was able to leave my room, I would go there every chance I got.
 
Just being able to leave my hospital bed, and get in an hour or two of gaming on their NES and SNES helped just as much as the care the doctors were giving.
 
When I found out about Extra Life after moving to Texas, memories of that tiny game room flooded back. All I could think about was how that helped me, even when I was close to death's door. I knew I had to be a part of this. I wanted, no, I had to help and do my part! Extra Life helps kids in need. I know how they feel because I was right there with them. This is why I Extra Life.
 

 
This post was submitted through Extra Life's Why I Extra Life by Extra Lifer Zander Price playing for Texas Children's Hospital. You can learn more about Extra Life at extra-life.org. 

iambrooke_
Hey, my name is Tim the Asian.
 
Gaming has always been a big part of my life. I first got involved with raising money for Extra Life by putting together the event for my group Guns of the Helghast. It was free and easy to do.
 

This year I'll probably be playing hack//last recode Destiny 2, Killzone Shadowfall, and more. I will be playing for John's Hopkins All Children's Hospital. And this will be my first year playing in Florida. But, second time as a participant.
So, come check me out on Twitch.tv/jiin_kun or over on Twitter @timtheasianinc.
 
This post was submitted through Extra Life's Why I Extra Life by Extra Lifer Tim Horton playing for Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. You can learn more about Extra Life at extra-life.org. 

iambrooke_
I joined Extra Life purely as a way to help sick kids.
 
Kids have little to no control over their life’s circumstances, and yet, they tend to weather storms better than most adults. Children are the future, and showing compassion to them in their times of dire need will teach them to always be compassionate.

Several years later I had a child born with autism. While this isn't something that is directly relevant to the hospital I raise money for, I know others out there raise money for Autism Awareness. I continue to raise funds for Extra Life as a growing streamer, where I dedicate 100% of my income from the stream to Extra Life until my goal is filled. Once the goal is filled I switch to a modified model to ensure I have funds to invest back into the stream, and invest into further income-generating opportunities to, in turn, give more money to charitable causes.
 
I Extra Life because I am proud to be a part of a community of people who genuinely want to help others, and have dedicated large quantities of time and funds to doing so.

 
This post was submitted through Extra Life's Why I Extra Life by Extra Lifer Roy DePhillip playing for Johns Hopkins Children's Center. You can learn more about Extra Life at extra-life.org. 

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