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Jack Gardner
Animal Crossing has a strange hold on people. It seems to appeal to those across a wide range of demographics, young and old. What makes the series about moving to a new town full of friendly cartoon animals so attractive to so many people that Nintendo has an army of fans ready to kick in its door for a Nintendo Direct about the upcoming Animal Crossing coming to Switch? Jack and Naomi try to get to the bottom of it and maybe discover whether Animal Crossing: New Leaf stands as 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: Animal Crossing: New Leaf 'Morning Jazz' by AJ DiSpirito (https://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03623)
 
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
After years of requests from fans, the team behind the popular Dungeons & Dragons live role-playing show Critical Role has launched a crowdfunding campaign to create The Legend of Vox Machina an animated special based on the characters that starred in the first season of the show. Despite being up for less than a day, the Kickstarter campaign has already surpassed its primary goal and several stretch goals with over $2.5 million in the first day, moving closer toward making The Legend of Vox Machina a feature-length film.
 
Critical Role began in 2015 as a collaboration between voice actor Matt Mercer and Geek & Sundry, though the series has amicably split from Geek & Sundry in the years since. The show stars a team of voice actors and actresses who gather together to play Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition while broadcasting live across the internet. The central cast of Season 1, who will reprise their roles in the upcoming animated special, consists of Matt Mercer (Dungeon Master), Ashley Johnson (Pike Trickfoot), Laura Bailey (Vex'ahlia "Vex" Vessar), Liam O'Brien (Vax 'ildan "Vax" Vessar & Lieve'tel Toluse), Marisha Ray (Keyleth of the Air Ashari), Sam Riegel (Scanlan Shorthalt & Taryon "Tary" Darrington), Taliesin Jaffe (Percival "Percy" Fredrickstein Von Musel Klossowski de Rolo III), Travis Willingham (Grog Strongjaw & Sir Bertrand Bell), and Orion Acaba (Tiberius Stormwind). Each episode consists of  a full Dungeons & Dragons session, meaning that they can frequently run between 3-6 hours apiece. There have been two seasons thus far as well as many efforts across the series' history to raise money for numerous good causes, Extra Life among them! 
 
The adventure this colorful cast of voice actors has been on for the last several years has included spin-offs, partnerships with Wizards of the Coast, and even comic books. Now they've taken to Kickstarter to bring their characters to life on-screen in the animated adventure The Legend of Vox Machina. The animation for the special will be handled by Titmouse, a well-known and beloved studio in the realm of animated television. It's most recognizable works include The Venture Bros., Metalocalypse, and Big Mouth. On top of that, Critical Role has obtained the services of Jennifer Muro, the writer behind Star Wars: Forces of Destiny and Spider-Man, to pen the upcoming special. In addition to the voice actors already attached to Critical Role, additional talent that has yet to be announced will include voices from shows like Attack on Titan, Dragon Ball Z, Duck Tales, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
 
 
At the time of writing this, The Legend of Vox Machina has raised over $2.5 million from over 19,000 people to produce the animated special. Initially, the pitch was for a 22-minute special for $750,000. However, fans quickly demolished that goal. At $1 million raised, a one-shot called The Search for Grog Epilogue: The Search for Bob will be played. At $1.5 million, the length of the special doubled to 44 minutes and those who pitched in over $100 will receive a special beanie. At $2 million, fans unlocked another one-shot called Vox Machina's Summer Reunion at Dalen's Closet. At $2.5 million, the length of the special shot up to 66 minutes. If the special raises over $3 million, fans of Critical Role will unlock an 88 minute special along with a third one-shot which will see Season 1 and Season 2 characters colliding. There are still 45 days in the fundraising campaign.  
 
If you've never seen Critical Role before, you can watch all 150+ episodes of it for free over on the Critical Role YouTube channel. 
 
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
Dead or Alive 6 hits stores today and while fans of the long-running fighting game series can pick it up the base version for $60, there's over $100 of additional content locked off from the main game. As deep as we all are in the age of microtransactions and loot boxes, the price point for Dead or Alive 6's downloadable content has caused many to do double-takes. 
 
It's a pretty incredible price point to charge for additional content at launch, but maybe it's worth it? Those who purchase the deluxe edition of Dead or Alive 6 will have to shell out an extra $20. The deluxe edition comes with another character, Phase 4, an exclusive costume for series' mainstay Kasumi, 25 additional costumes, and three more tracks for the game's soundtrack.
 
If, however, you happen to be a super fan of Dead or Alive 6, you can opt to buy the game's Season Pass 1, which will cost $93. This season pass contains 52 costumes consisting of the Happy Wedding Costumes and the full Costume Pack, two new playable characters (one of which is Mai Shiranui), five costumes for each new character, and two costumes exclusive to Season Pass 1, NiCO's technomancer gear and a wrestling costume for Nyotengu. Whether or not that will all be worth it to someone who loves Dead or Alive 6 remains to be seen. Almost every negative user review posted so far lists the DLC pricing as a major part of their distaste for the fighting game. 
 
All told, to get everything available in-game for Dead or Alive 6 at launch will cost $113 on top of the $60 for the base game itself. And you see the number 1 in Season Pass 1? Koei Tecmo plans to release more season passes in the future. If this pricing is indicative of where Dead or Alive is going in the future, then fighting game fanatics could be looking at spending $266 for a second season pass if they want to own all of the game they love. 
 
 
On top of all that, there's the distinct possibility that Koei Tecmo will release more than a couple season passes, meaning fans could be asked to spend far more. Taking DLC pricing to the extreme isn't that far out of the norm as the free version of Dead or Alive 5, Dead or Alive 5 Last Round: Core Fighters, on Steam currently lists all of its DLC for nearly $1,300. That's, quite frankly, absurd and has some fans worried about the future of the venerable fighting series.  
 
What do you think? Is the DLC price point to high? Does the existence of DLC change how you think about a game? Let us know in the comments!
 
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
You may have noticed a few images floating around the internet that appear to be advertising a game that looks suspiciously like Metal Gear Solid. That game is most likely Left Alive, a new game from Square Enix set in the Front Mission universe. 
 
For those unfamiliar with Front Mission, the series deals with a future where the Earth has descended into constant warfare between supranational states, collectives of countries working together to fend off aggression. All of them rely on "wanzers," large, humanoid tanks capable of sustaining massive amounts of damage while dishing it right back out. Though wanzers inevitably play a large role in each of the games, many of the series' main entries are more interested in the human drama unfolding that makes the use of these weapons necessary.
 
Front Mission began in 1995 and many believed it ended with Front Mission Evolved in 2010. Until Left Alive came out, that is. 
 
Left Alive tells the story of people trapped in the contested city of Novo Slava and features both on-foot missions that mix stealth and action and explosive mech piloting segments. All of this exists in the grounded reality of a city under siege with defense forces struggling to survive and civilians just doing their best to stay alive. If you're wondering why Left Alive looks like Metal Gear Solid, that would be due to the character design and artistic contributions of Yoji Shinkawa, a prominent artist on the Metal Gear Solid series. On top of that, Armored Core V director Toshifumi Nabeshima has directed the reboot of Front Mission (which might also be a possible spiritual successor of Metal Gear Solid). 
 
 
Metal Gear Solid certainly inspired the game, but in interviews, director Toshifumi Nabeshima has stated that he considers it neither a stealth or an action game, that both are merely ways of reaching the end. However, don't go in expecting Deus Ex levels of solutions. Front Mission initially began as a turn-based strategy RPG. Players would move units around a hex grid in an attempt to outmaneuver the enemy in a war game. Left Alive is not that. Instead, Left Alive focuses on emphasizing how devastating wanzers can be by placing players in a position of weakness, where wanzers can annihilate them without a second thought. It's a tale of survival rather than the large-scale picture of commanding a war or a skirmish. As such, players have limited ammo and a broad range of freedom when it comes to achieving objectives that might require them to think on the fly and improvise. 
 
Overall, Left Alive looks really cool. With Hideo Kojima's departure from Konami effectively ending the Metal Gear Solid series, this might just be the thing Metal Gear fans need to fill the void left behind by the series' passing. 
 
Left Alive is available now for PlayStation 4 and 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
Sean, Arakiel, and Pribi fight the unearthly monstrosity known as Infurion alongside McFisto, the greatest fighter who has ever lived (and the man whose house they robbed to get him into this mess in the first place).
 
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.
 

 
"Werq"
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
Detective Pikachu returns in a lengthy trailer focusing on the trusty pokémon detective, his human companion, and the mystery they both set out to solve. If the hype surrounding the film can be used to judge how well it will do, expect it to be huge. 
 
Detective Pikachu tells the story of Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), a young man who grew up wanting to become a pokémon trainer, but soured on the idea along the way. As the film begins, he's an unhappy, mild-mannered telemarketer (or at least doing a job that looks very similar to telemarketing). Tim's basically the vision of what happens to trainers in the pokémon world when they can't become successful adventurers. That is, until the night he comes home to find a talking pikachu (Ryan Reynolds)with a caffeine addiction in his apartment. With Tim's father, a legendary police officer on the Rhyme City force, missing, it's up to the unlikely duo to solve the disappearance.
 
The new trailer delves into the backstory of the titular pikachu detective. We learn that he suffers from amnesia and woke up on a lonely country road alone. The only clue he has to go on is the name Harry Goodman written on the inside of his adorable Sherlock Holmes hat (incidentally, that style of hat is called a deerstalker, but it just seems wrong to say that pikachu wears a deerstalker). That leads him to Tim's apartment and the two pair up to find Harry, Tim's missing father. Their journey takes them on a collision course with a mysterious woman, a seedy underground fighting ring run by some shady characters, and a special ops squad of Greninja. Oh, and Mewtwo appears as a possible antagonist.
 
 
Now, aside from these two trailers and a selection of tidbits revealed in interviews, details on the story beyond that are scarce. So, here are a few of my theories: 
 
Tim's dad got wrapped up in a large scale investigation of Team Rocket. My guess is it's going to be Team Rocket rather than one of the other criminal teams that have existed across the Pokémon franchise because of Mewtwo and its history of being involved with Team Rocket. Team Rocket's lower members participate and profit off of the operation of underground pokémon battle arenas that aren't as safe as mainstream ones.
 
Getting wrapped up in all of this, Harry Goodman stumbled across evidence of forbidden experimentation going on at a secret lab, which can be seen during one of the rapid cut moments in the second trailer. However, Harry was discovered and used as fodder in the experiment - which transformed him into a pokémon, the adorable detective himself. This isn't the first time this has happened in Pokémon history and I'm going to guess there will be some nod to Pokémon Red & Blue's continuity with the lead scientist being named Bill. I'm also going to go out on a limb and guess that the Flareon we see form out of light on what appears to be an opulent desk is Giovanni, the leader of Team Rocket, using the refined transformation tech (which I further guess is based off of the pokémon Ditto's abilities). Flareon also might just be evolving or coming out of a pokéball, but the framing and animation implies that it might be something more important.
 
The mysterious woman we see adventuring with Tim is likely a scientist who escaped from the lab with some hidden agenda either related to the good detective or Mewtwo itself. I'm leaning toward the Mewtwo possibility because she appears to have a psyduck companion and that's one of the few major psychic pokémon we see in the trailers. 
 
 
This new trailer comes on the heels of the announcement that The Pokémon Company would also be releasing a complete remake of the first Pokémon film, Pokémon: The Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back, using CGI called Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution. The remake is slated for release on July 12 of this year.
 
Detective Pikachu releases in theaters later this year on May 10. What are some of your theories for the movie so far? 
 
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
Bending the rules for the podcast a bit, this week we tackle A44's action-RPG Ashen. Released late last year, the Dark Souls-lite game takes players on a perilous journey through a world filled with monsters. With a disarming art style and tight controls, this indie came out of the shadows and surprised quite a few people. Could it be one of the best games period? 
 
To help us tackle that question, we brought on wonderful Noe Monsivais AKA Trobadour_XP on Twitter. The English teacher/streamer nominated Ashen to throw a bit more of a spotlight on what might be one of the most underappreciated indies from the past year. 
 
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 Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening 'While the Wind Fish Sleeps' by bGevko (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03868)
 
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
Developer Storm in a Teacup has been relatively quiet after presenting Close to the Sun to the world during Gamescom 2018. However, their dark and atmospheric action-horror-adventure title has been slowly coming together in the months leading up to its release. That work looks poised to deliver something really interesting that, despite the comparisons to older titles like BioShock and SOMA, will give players a new experience.
 
Close to the Sun takes place in the year 1897. It imagines a world where Nikola Tesla grew in wealth and influence instead of dying in despair and poverty. In this alternate history, Tesla was able to build the Helios, a massive vessel bound in international waters where the brightest minds from around the world could come to conduct experiments unhindered by things like ethics and laws. Of course, things didn't go well for everyone on-board that fateful ship. Players take on the role of Rose Archer, a journalist who arrives at the Helios on a mission to find her sister Ada. However, Archer finds that the Helios lies empty save for the odious stench of death and its entrances plastered with signs of a quarantine. 
 
The aesthetic and setup of Close to the Sun definitely conjure comparisons to BioShock. However, Storm in a Teacup claims that the gameplay and narrative both diverge significantly from what players might expect. Close to the Sun is not "BioShock, but newer," it stands as its own piece of artistic expression. Instead of a straight action game, Close to the Sun focuses more on exploration and horror than the original BioShock. Players will have the option to fight whatever horrors they encounter, but the deck will always be stacked against them, usually leaving running or hiding better options to deal with threats. This goes along with part of Storm in a Teacup's development vision that states, "We don’t kill just for the sake of seeing some blood on the screen, everything must have a reason which represents the character in a specific situation of need/danger/fear. The idea that “violence itself sells” is true on a market level but this doesn’t mean that we have to crucify our vision for that." Rose Archer is a journalist, not a trained fighter, so players should not expect to be decimating whatever awaits them in the Helios. 
 
 
The de-emphasis on combat makes Close to the Sun more of an adventure game with situations that should be approached like puzzles - albeit puzzles that are very scary and very time sensitive. In a recent interview with Game Reactor, designer Joel Hakalax stated that the gameplay emphasizes scares that put the player in difficult situations. "You either think on your feet, make split-second decisions or you end up dying in horrible or brutal ways," he said.
 
While there has been no release date given for Close to the Sun, we do know that Storm in a Teacup expects to release their game sometime this year. It was also just announced that Close to the Sun will be exclusive to the Epic Games Store, joining the ranks of other games that have been abandoning Steam for exclusive deals on Epic's platform. As part of the deal with Epic, Storm in a Teacup received more funds to spend some extra time polishing their already gorgeous indie title, likely contributing to the somewhat nebulous release window.
 
Honestly, Close to the Sun just looks rad. There aren't a ton of games that are able to nail the oppressive and creepy atmosphere of the BioShock titles, but Close to the Sun nails it. The approach to gameplay that casts players in the role of a normal person dealing with life or death struggles always feels like a compelling choice in horror-oriented games. When it's done right, Silent Hill 2 and The Last of Us come to mind, it can really ground a game and elevate the tension in subtly captivating ways. And that's not even touching the mystery of the Helios that strongly hints at some kind of time-travel narrative.  
 
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
For those that follow industry news or just tune into Nintendo's yearly E3 briefings, Reggie Fils-Aime has been a longtime figure in the gaming community. Today, he announced that he would be retiring from his role as Nintendo of America's president. He will officially be gone on April 15. Fils-Aime has also announced that his successor will be Doug Bowser. Yes, Nintendo's American operations will now be run by Bowser. 
 
The soon-to-be former president of Nintendo has been at the helm for the past 15 years. During that time he became a meme multiple times over with lines like, "My name is Reggie. I’m about kickin’ ass, I’m about takin’ names, and we’re about makin’ games." These memes even penetrated the non-gaming world with memes from Fils-Aime's Wii Fit demonstration carrying forward the iconic line, "My body is ready." Even obscure lines like, "Here's a TV that looks like an apple," became memes in their own right within certain communities. 
 
 
Reggie was the face of Nintendo in America for well over a decade, so it's natural for fans of the products Nintendo puts out to be sad at seeing news of his departure. To ease the transition, Reggie put out a video message through Nintendo's social media channels to all of the fans who have connected with him or identified with him over the years. The video makes it pretty clear that he felt very strongly about the Nintendo community. Here's hoping he enjoys retirement or finds something awesome to do with his time post-Nintendo. 
 
 
“Nintendo owns a part of my heart forever,” Fils-Aime said. “It’s a part that is filled with gratitude – for the incredibly talented people I’ve worked with, for the opportunity to represent such a wonderful brand, and most of all, to feel like a member of the world’s most positive and enduring gamer community. As I look forward to departing in both good health and good humor, this is not ‘game over’ for me, but instead ‘leveling up’ to more time with my wife, family and friends.”
 
So, who is this Doug Bowser, aside from an evil Koopa king in disguise? He has been working at Nintendo since 2015 after coming to the company from EA following a stint at Procter & Gamble. People might recognize him from the handful of times he's taken the stage during E3 for Switch related marketing pushes for titles like Super Mario Odyssey. Right now, Doug Bowser oversees Nintendo of America's sales and marketing department and has been one of the people within the company spearheading the console's growth as a haven for indie developers. His efforts have largely born fruit with the console topping it's holiday 2018 expectations , though the company's own analysts predict that the console will fall short of its 20 million shipment goal for 2019 by about 3 million units. It's a big challenge to branch out of the core console market with the Switch, but one that Bowser will be in an even better position to do when he becomes Nintendo of America's president on April 15. 
 
“It has been my great fortune to work with and be mentored by Reggie for four years at Nintendo of America,” Bowser said. “And rest assured, we will continue to build on his work to evolve and expand our brand, furthering Nintendo’s global mission of creating smiles. There are millions more of those to come.”
 
It's the end of an era for Nintendo. Best of luck, Mr. Fils-Aime. 
 
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 fully commit to saving McFisto by standing at his side for his final trial by combat in the fighting pits of Faragos.
 
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.
 

 
"Werq"
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 gang goes to the magical department store Sellingdales and hobnobs with the sales attendant. 
 
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! 
 
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 spooky and talented folks at Red Hook Studios have teased a sequel to their dark and macabre roguelike RPG Darkest Dungeon. Here's everything we know so far about Darkest Dungeon 2.
 
The reveal included a roughly 30-second trailer with an intriguing key visual and a haunting voice-over. It depicts a mountain, frozen with ice and snow half covering twisted rock formations set in what appear to be screaming faces. As the camera zooms out, one can pick out the six core classes that released in the original game (though none of the additional classes that released as DLC) standing astride a nearby mountain staring at the even more foreboding peak in the distance. The voice-over comes courtesy of Wayne June, who lent his vocal performance to the original Darkest Dungeon.  
 
PC Gamer conducted an interview with the developers that's very much worth reading in full. Beyond the trailer, we know that Darkest Dungeon 2 will be a departure from the manor-delving that made up the majority of the original's metagame. Instead, players will be on a journey that exposes more of what's going on in the outside world. The scope of the game seems to have expanded dramatically, too, with Red Hook almost tripling in size from its original team. Much like the first game, Darkest Dungeon 2 will enjoy a period in Steam's Early Access category while the developers add content, fix bugs, and listen to community feedback. 
 
 
Darkest Dungeon was one of the best indie roguelikes of 2016, and earned quite a bit of acclaim even during its Early Access period. It put players in the position of an inheritor of an estate that had belonged to a deranged family member. Of course, arriving on the estate grounds, all of its various sections are overrun by madmen and monsters. Using various adventurers willing to risk both mind and matter, each section must be cleared to fully claim the inheritance hidden beneath the manor. It's very much worth the current $6.24 asking price on Steam. 
 
No word yet on when fans should expect to see Darkest Dungeon 2 hitting Early Access, so we'll have to be patient and not succumb to madness... for now.
 
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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