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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
Now that Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown has released into the wild, people are finding its quirks. One of the earliest parts of the game that has since become a meme is the strange, 2D image of a fluffy dog inserted into one of the game's meticulously rendered 3D cutscenes. Of course, the internet being the internet, this flat hero captured the hearts of many players and catapulted it into meme status as "JPEG Dog".  
 
The jarring image of the adorable pooch raised many questions. How could such a detailed game have made such a seemingly bizarre addition? What series of decisions had to be made to get this dog into a game about aerial combat and international political situations?
 
 
It turns out that JPEG Dog actually has a tragic and touching backstory. Kazutoki Kono, Bandai Namco's brand director on Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, took to Twitter yesterday to clarify why the curious canine seemed so out of place. Translated by writer and translator James Galizio, the message reads:
 
 
While it's sad that the precious pupper is no longer with us, the tribute to the dog included in Ace Combat 7 has spread a lot of joy with the memes it spawned. Enjoy them, get some good laughs, and never forget our precious JPEG Dog. RIP JPEG Dog.
 

 
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
2018 was an incredible year of games that will be hard to top going forward. However, 2019 holds a metric ton of great games just waiting to be unleashed. Let's take a look at some of the most exciting upcoming games and talk about them a bit! On top of that, Jack answers the question: What games from the past might convince someone to spend their days writing about games?
 
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: Skies of Arcadia 'Inner Reflections' by YoshiBlade (https://ocremix.org/album/90/arcadia-legends)
 
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!

Jack Gardner
Take a nostalgia trip back to the heyday of the 8-bit era with Odallus: The Dark Call, an action-platformer coming to Nintendo Switch. Odallus: The Dark Call tells the story of Haggis, an aged hero who embarks on a quest to save his son and avenge the destruction of his village. Battling demons, cultists, and eldritch beings, Haggis presses onward to spare his son from becoming a dark sacrifice.   
 
Brazilian developer JoyMasher masterminded both Odallus: The Dark Call and Oniken, which will also be receiving a Switch port. The company specializes in retro game development, with Odallus covering the Metroidvania action subgenre and Oniken representing JoyMasher's take on the old-school Ninja Gaiden. They also have a game currently in development called Blazing Chrome, a 16-bit run-and-gun action-shooter in the vein of Super Contra or Metal Slug. 
 
Odallus: The Dark Call initially released in 2015 for PC, receiving mostly positive reviews for its heartfelt send up of the Castlevania of old. It includes classic 8-bit cutscenes, a large world full of secrets, and clever gameplay twists that might trick even the most veteran of players. Now, the adventures of Haggis are coming to Nintendo Switch in February as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One later this spring. 
 
 
Odallus: The Dark Call features eight levels that can be explored for more secrets when players have acquired more abilities. Levels are populated by over fifty different enemy types and offer chances to face off against colossal bosses. Players who stick through to the end will spend, at a minimum, eight hours completing the game, only to find a veteran difficulty awaiting them for added replayability.  
 
When it launches, Odallus: The Dark Call will be available digitally. However, Eastasiasoft will be offering a limited run physical edition of the game. These physical copies will work on all systems worldwide, but may have some limitations on their online features. The following will be offered physically:
 
Odallus: The Dark Call (PS4)
Oniken + Odallus Collection (PS4/Switch)
Oniken + Odallus Collection: Limited Edition (Switch)
 
Odallus: The Dark Call releases for Nintendo Switch on February 8 and will be coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One sometime during spring of this year. 
 
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
Pribi, Sean, and Arakiel attempt to run through the imposing fortress of South Gate, one of the last barriers standing between them and completing their original mission for Kindell Witherthorn of the enigmatic Silver Key.
 
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.
 

 
"Furious Freak", "Jet Fueled Vixen", "The House of Leaves"
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
 
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! 
 
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
The first show recorded in 2019, which means it's time to look back on the past year and talk about the best games of 2018. What moved us this year? What pushed us to think? What helped made us better people? Talking about what we experienced and what mattered to us will always be a worthwhile conversation to have, and 2018 was full of phenomenal games.
 
What about you? Share your favorite game of the year in the comments!  
 
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: Skies of Arcadia 'Valhorteka' by Garpocalypse feat. Darkflamewolf (https://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03836)
 
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!

Jack Gardner
Jon Shafer has been quietly working on a new game for the past seven years, and At the Gates is finally set to release next week. Shafer served as the lead designer on the critically acclaimed  and BAFTA winning Civilization 5. Now, he and his small indie studio have prepared a roguelike strategy game completely focused on the single-player experience. One could say At the Gates is at the gates.  
 
Development on At the Gates began in 2012 shortly after Jon Shafer left Firaxis to found Conifer Games. Shafer worked on the project largely himself with the help of a number of contractors and freelancers pitching in to make it a reality. He was able to pull it all together thanks to a Kickstarter launched in early 2013 that raised over $100,000 to fund future development on the At the Gates prototype. 
 
At the Gates will release on January 23 for PC. It will retail at $29.99 and be made available through Steam, the Humble store, and the At the Gates website. During launch week, the strategy title will be available for 10% off normal price. 
 
 
In At the Gates, players take on the role of a leader who will forge a mighty kingdom out of the ruins of the Roman Empire. Using tactics, wit, and some luck, players will build up their clans, subjugate or negotiate with their neighbors, and eventually strike the killing blow against the Roman Empire itself. 
 
All of the action takes place from a point of view that should be immediately familiar to fans of the Civilization franchise. However, the design decisions behind the game are very different. Perhaps most notably, At the Gates has been designed to be a completely single-player experience. The reason behind this according to Shafer is to allow for an element of asymmetry. In other words, the design will sometimes be unfair, either for the AI or for the player. The randomized roguelike elements make each playthrough unique. That randomness can be increased when taking the design decisions multiplayer necessitates. Random factors include the appearance of various characters, their unique traits, the seasonal weather that can open or close opportunities. Winter in particular can lead to devastating situations if a kingdom hasn't properly prepared.  
 
Overall, At the Gates looks to be a real labor of love made by one of the best strategy designers in the business. If you have any interest in strategy games, check it out when it releases next week on January 23 for PC. 
 
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
What Remains of Edith Finch can now be obtained for free on the fledgling Epic Games store on PC. Epic Games announced last December that they would be releasing free games throughout the 2019 year. So far, the company has made good on their promise, releasing the ocean-based exploration and crafting adventure Subnautica and following that up with the excellent platformer Super Meat Boy. 
 
Epic Games continues to fulfill its promise of releasing a free game every two weeks with the release of What Remains of Edith Finch. The indie hit will be available through the Epic Games store for free from now until 11:59pm EST on January 24. 
 
Developed by Giant Sparrow, What Remains of Edith Finch tells the story of Edith Finch, a young woman exploring her family history, all of which is contained within the Finch family house. Each member of the family has died and the game reveals their stories on the day that they died. Edith Finch just wants to know why she remains the only Finch left alive. 
 
 
If you're curious about what will follow the current free title, Epic Games announced that The Jackbox Party Pack will be the next free game following What Remains of Edith Finch. The pack of party games will become available on January 24 and remain available for free download through the Epic Games store until February 7. 
 
It's interesting to see the titles Epic is curating to try and make their store a more widely used platform. Going from strong single-player experiences that haven't found massive market penetration in the current generation of gaming to a party game feels like some really savvy planning on their part. The recent announcement that The Division 2 will only be available through the Epic Games store also feels like a big win, and one we should expect to see more of in the near future as more devs and publishers bring their games to Epic's platform for a bigger cut of their games' sales.  
 
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
The crew regroups after a rowdy night out and wakes up bright and early to test some newfangled transportation on the way to South Gate Prison. Things get a bit fiery. 
 
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.
 

 
"Frozen Star", "Welcome to the Show"
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
 
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! 
 
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
Bungie has issued an update on its official channels announcing that they will be splitting from the partnership with Activision that birthed the Destiny franchise. The almost decade-long deal has changed quite a bit since it was first announced, and it seems like the two companies have decided to part ways, though nothing is set in stone quite yet.
 
Bungie initially partnered after it broke free from Microsoft in a bid to create something entirely new after years spent developing the Halo series. The developer had supposedly been working on the idea for Destiny for some time, but needed a publishing partner to make it happen. They turned to Activision to help them secure the funding necessary to make their vision a reality. However, as these things go, Activision initially envisioned Destiny and future sequels receiving yearly updates, DLC, and more. Word is that Activision was unhappy with the pace of development on Destiny and its expansions. This led to years of raised tensions between Bungie and its publisher.  
 
With that in mind, Bungie posted to the company website today that they were in the early stages of extracting themselves from the partnership they've maintained with Activision since 2010. Despite the difficulties behind-the-scenes, Bungie's announcement thanked Activision for their eight-year partnership which has led to Destiny becoming a recognizable force in the industry and public landscape. 
 
Part of the statement clarified the future of both Bungie and Activision:
In other words, Bungie will assume full creative and publishing control of Destiny and become an independent developer. They will be able to publish whatever they please for PC platforms and will be free to work on their own with console manufacturers to get their games onto various devices. Activision, meanwhile, will be freed up to focus on its own projects.
 
This feels like a positive move for both companies, though it does leave Activision in a strange place where its only major franchise will be Call of Duty. If popularity for that game series dips, they could be in a really tight place with such an open publishing slate. For Bungie and everyone who has followed their development history, this is an exciting and risky time. While they will be continuing to work on Destiny for the foreseeable future, their departure from Activision probably means that they will be able to work on other game concepts - and gamers should be excited to see more games from the people who brought Halo and Destiny into the world. All things come to an end, but something even better might be just around the corner. 
 
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
Have you ever wanted to run a day spa? No? What if I told you that your day spa could be run, operated, and patronized by adorable, smiling marshmallows? That's exactly the case with Marshmallow Day Spa, a new (and free!) game coming out of the Winter Jam 2019 game jam event hosted by itch.io. 
 
Winter Jam 2019 had the theme of "hot chocolate" and the event received fifteen submissions. Teams had from January 4 at 1:59am CST until January 7 at 1:59am CST to come up with an original idea for a game based on the prompt and create a working version of that idea from scratch. Game jams always bring out the strangest and most creative ideas from developers by putting them under strict time constraints. Occasionally, this leads to some brilliant ideas for games that can be fleshed out in more detail later.
 
One of the stand outs from this year's Winter Jam event was Marshmallow Day Spa, a game that puts players in the marshy body of a mallow who just wants to run a great spa for its fellow mallows. Players have to run around the spa to see to the needs of their stressed out guests. To optimally take care of them, players need to create the perfectly warm hot chocolate hot tub for them to really let go of their anxiety. Don't forget to add the very necessary milk and toppings!
  
 
Marshmallow Day Spa was developed by Ryan Pocock, Jasmin Habezai-Fekri, Megan McCurdy, and Maeve Broadbin. Pocock handled the programming and general design of Marshmallow Day Spa with Habezai-Fekri crafting the environments and pitching in with the textures. McCurdy wore many hats, working as both a 3D and texture artist, rigging and animating the world, and designing the levels. Broadbin came up with the concept art and designed the user interface. 
 
Keep in mind that all of this game was, essentially, thrown together in three days - which is pretty freakin' incredible. It even has controller support if you don't want to use a keyboard to play. You can download and play Marshmallow Day Spa for free on itch.io. 
 
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
Overcooked! A game about cooking and such. Is it a best game period? Is it not? We sort of get to the bottom of it by the end of this episode. One thing is certain: It's a game about culinary delights and skills that you can shove in your friends' faces. I hear it's delightful and it even got a sequel! 
 
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: Mario Kart DS 'Tilt & Drift' by YoshiBlade (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR01108)
 
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!

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