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Jack Gardner
As the school season comes to a close, millions of kids across the United States prepare for a summer of relaxation following their graduation. Those children look forward to playing with their friends outside, having time to brush up on their Fortnite skills, and going off to various camps and retreats. Graduation season stands out as a wonderful time in their lives. However, as one group of kids move up in grade or don caps and gowns, another group prepares for a very different kind of graduation that ends with the ringing of a bell. 
 
Kids who enter Children's Miracle Network Hospitals for cancer treatment face a long and difficult battle toward the day they can leave and live their lives cancer-free. When the doctors caring for these children believe they have sufficiently recovered, they are led to a bell to ring in the end of their difficult journey and the beginning of a cancer-less life. The bell ringing tradition dates back to 1996 when it was begun by United States Navy Rear Admiral Irve Le Moyne. Le Moyne installed a brass bell in the center where he was receiving treatment for the cancer that eventually overtook him a year later. The bells that began appearing in cancer wards after his passing included an inscription with a short poem by the late Le Moyne:
 
Ringing Out
 
Ring this bell
Three times well
It’s toll to clearly say,
 
My treatment’s done
This course is run
And I am on my way!
 
These moments, kids ringing bells to announce their recovery, straddle the line between being heartwarming and heart-wrenching. No child should have to go through cancer treatment. However, we should celebrate when kids recover from battles with serious illnesses. Here are just a few of the kids graduating from their treatments and partaking in the ringing of the bell with all of the joy in their hearts on display.
 
Benjamin Burke
 
 
Benjamin was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after his seventh birthday. While battling his cancer, he spent time raising money to help others like himself. He and his family started a “lemonaid” stand and have raised over $100,000 to help other kids struggling to recover from cancer at the Ann & Rover H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. After three and a half years of treatment, Benjamin finally got to ring the bell at the end of April. He’s continuing to fight for other kids by becoming a national ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
 
Grace Griffin
 
 
St. Louis Children’s Hospital helped Grace through her treatment for a cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. It’s one of the most common forms of cancer in children, but that didn’t make Grace’s fight against it any easier. Traci Griffin, Grace’s mom, talked about her daughter’s journey saying, “The treatments for Grace are sometimes very brutal, sometimes very painful. She’s often not feeling well, like most kids on chemo, but she’s been extremely, extremely strong and brave throughout this whole process.” Despite the hardships, Grace fought hard and even continued attending school. Her chances of remaining cancer free are, in the words of her doctor, “very, very high.”
 
Dylan Pogodzinski
 
 
At 4 years old, Dylan was diagnosed with an extremely rare type of cancer called Burkitt’s lymphoma. It’s one of the scariest kinds of cancer out there, with tumors capable of doubling in size every 48 hours. Luckily, the Pogodzinski family were able to take Dylan to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. The doctors were able to make a correct diagnosis and immediately start Dylan on an intensive regimen of chemotherapy for the next five months. While he still receives monthly checkups, he was officially declared cancer-free in February and is now back attending kindergarten, happy and healthy.
 
Peyton Richardson
 
 
After Texas Children’s Hospital diagnosed Peyton with acute lymphocytic leukemia in 2015, she began a long and difficult journey. It took her over two years of treatment for Peyton to get her chance to ring the bell. “You all were my best friends throughout all of this. I just love you all so much and I’m so thankful for you guys,” she said before ringing the bell while onlookers gathered to support her had tears in their eyes. “I think it will take a little bit to sink in that I’m done, I’m finished. I’m glad, I’m happy I’m done.”
 
To help more kids reach their graduations from treatment and ring their bells, please sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals across the US and Canada!

Jack Gardner
Following the scuffle with the furnishings of the Halfway Inn, Arakiel, Sean, and Pribi descend into the basement of the unnerving inn. What they find there puts the three of them into an unusual and uncomfortable position with the fate of innocents in their hands.  
 
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.
 

 
"Aftermath"
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!

Naomi N. Lugo

Review: Detective Pikachu

By Naomi N. Lugo, in Features,

Detective Pikachu had its opening weekend and was able to pull its weight against heavy hitter Avengers: Endgame. In retrospect, that shouldn't be totally surprising. The Pokémon brand certainly stands out as one of the biggest contributors to the box office achievement of Detective Pikachu. That logo alone almost guarantees that a product will grab some attention. Add the sly but charming leading man Ryan Reynolds, fresh off of his turn as the wise-cracking Deadpool, into the mix and an older audience will come to see it out of curiosity. The family-friendly rating ensures that people of all ages will frequent their local theater to take in the unique attraction of a live-action Pokémon film. However, the true secret to Detective Pikachu's success isn't the fact that it branched off of a ridiculously popular franchise. No, the secret is the respect paid to the multi-generations of fans who grew up with Pokémon by their side. This elevates the film to that rare next level; Detective Pikachu stands as a truly decent video game movie. 
 
Don’t worry, this review is spoiler-free.
 
One of the best moments in Detective Pikachu occurs within the first few minutes. The camera soars above the landscape of an alternate universe, unassuming, like any other movie. However, a key detail stands out. The birds flying alongside the camera are Pidgeots. The camera doesn’t highlight the unassuming winged Pokémon, but instead, the fictitious creatures blend in with the scenery. They look like they belong there, as real as any sparrow or falcon. That sense of grounded belonging hit me hard. I'm definitely a Pokémon nerd, and I'm totally not ashamed to say that seeing this made me tear up, just a little. 
 

 
Detective Pikachu originated as a 3DS title of the same name that released in Japan in 2016. The handheld game released worldwide in 2018, but did little to impress me. The first trailer for Detective Pikachu failed to grip me in a similar manner. The premise of a crime-solving, talking Pikachu seemed like an odd choice for such a big budget film. Then there were the character designs. Oh wow, the character designs. 
 
Being a live-action affair, Detective Pikachu’s aesthetic choice for the Pokémon that live alongside the human population was to ground them in reality as much as possible. The first trailer showing off these designs didn’t hit me right. Jigglypuff's characteristic innocent blue eyes melted away into horrifically realistic, veiny orbs. Mr. Mime... Mr. Mimed. It all seemed seconds away from a fatal misstep, one that would lead these companion creatures I've known and loved for so long down a dark and creepy path. 
 
However, I am happy to report that director Rob Letterman was able keep the production on the tightrope. Detective Pikachu never slips from the delicate balance that seemed impossible when I first saw the trailer. Much of that is due to the vital piece of the puzzle prevailing in every scene, the Pokémon themselves. Charmander has scales? Wild! While some Pokémon were certainly disturbing, the steady drip of new designs and iconic Pokémon moments kept me curious and engaged. As a lifelong Pokemon fan, I wanted, nay needed more.
 

 
Almost the entirety of Detective Pikachu takes place in and around Ryme City. The urban locale brings all kinds of people and Pokémon into close proximity, allowing it to become a character in its own right. The first taste of the city gives the audience an onslaught of Easter Eggs, with Pokémon from across all generations of the games filling in almost every nook and cranny. As a dedicated Pokémon fan, it occurred to me that this might be what heaven looks like. Even if someone hadn’t ever played a Pokémon game before, the incredible sights of Ryme City should prove to be delightful. The special effects provide a seamless visual experience with a steady drip-feed of wonder. It took a lot of love and a substantial understanding of Pokémon’s appeal to create a world this full of marvels.
 
The plot of Detective Pikachu revolves around Tim Goodman, a young man who encounters a talking Pikachu shortly after the disappearance of his father, Harry. Justice Smith does an admirable job as Goodman, managing to hold his own playing alongside Ryan Reynolds as the titular detective. The two go through a bonding arc over the course of their adventures together that's surprisingly heartwarming. However, the plot becomes secondary to the magical world of the film.
 
Detective Pikachu stands as a great achievement. It manages to be both a vehicle for nostalgia, effectively conveying the magic that made Pokémon great in the first place while introducing a whole new generation to the franchise. The filmmakers crafted a world where the fluffiness of childhood continues, but holds just enough darkness around the edges to feel real. This is a place where whimsical creatures can be both adorable distractions and participants in a gritty criminal underworld. It’s a world with more similarities to our own that operates with a freedom that many will find a refreshing change of pace from the typical sanded polish of Nintendo’s titles. As strange as it might sound for a film about a talking yellow mouse voiced by Ryan Reynolds, Pokémon has become a bit more real thanks to Detective Pikachu.
 
 
Conclusion:
 
Ryme City and its environs become an opportunity to see the Pokémon you’ve always imagined coming to life. It’s a magical opportunity that taps into what made the games so alluring as a kid. Pokémon gripped me in part because it seemed like an ideal world. It was a place where the worst thing that could happen would be a trip to the local Pokémon Center or a missed opportunity to catch that one rare Pokémon. Plus, who doesn’t dream of going on an adventure with a magical best friend? Rob Letterman as well as seemingly everyone working on Detective Pikachu understood this, using the live-action of the film to bridge the gap between that dream and reality. It’s no exaggeration to say that Detective Pikachu helped to heal my cynical Millennial soul, if only just a little. If that isn't an endorsement, then I don't know what else could be. 
 
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
Dragon Age has been one of the biggest western RPG franchises to emerge in recent years. Since its debut in Dragon Age: Origins, which we previously covered on this show, the series has continued to grow under BioWare's direction. While there are now three games in the series, Dragon Age II has widely been considered the odd duck of the trilogy. With a rushed production resulting in reused environments, many wrote it off at the time as lazy or too repetitive.
 
However, could Dragon Age II actually be one of the best games of all-time?
 
To help answer this question, we turn to Dragon Age expert and all around swell writer/streamer/podcaster Ginny Woo! You should make sure you follow her over on Twitter: @GinnyWoes 
 
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: Demon's Souls 'Epitaph for Boletaria' by RoeTaKa (https://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03043)
 
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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