25 Years of Pokemon

Happy Pokemon Day!

Pokemon is celebrating 25 years of games and fun! On February 27th, 1996, the first Pokemon games were released in Japan with fans across the world excited. This adorable game, created by someone fascinated by collecting bugs, grew into a household name. Starting with their Pokemon Red and Blue, all the way to the new Sword and Shield, you’ll find a fan of each style.

Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

In honor of Pokemon’s 25th anniversary, they have announced Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Pokemon Shining Pearl to be released on the Nintendo Switch! Revisit the Sinnoh Region and defeat the Pokemon League all over again in new reimagined adventures that stay true to the originals. These two remastered games will be launching in late 2021! So keep an eye out for a blast from the past.

More details about New Pokemon Snap announced in the video presentation. It will have special in-game events for Pokemon’s 25th Anniversary! Here you are a budding photographer in the Lental Region. You’ll work in hand with Professor Mirror, the region expert. Remember your photo skills and get those epic snaps! Once finished with your mission, you’ll be able to edit and touch up all your photos before sharing them with friends and others to compete worldwide!

Up next is Pokemon Legends: Arceus. Wait, is that Breath Of the Wi– Ohhh I see what they did there. Encounter pokemon in this new game to become part of the Pokedex Adventure! Trainers visit the Sinnoh Region as it existed in the past. Long before Diamond and Pearl was even an idea. Visit Mount Cornet the heart of Sinnoh and experience Pokemon in a whole new experience. Check the beautiful experience coming later this year on Nintendo.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

With all that said, we can’t forget about Pokemon Go! GO has multiple events happening over the course of the next few months to celebrate Pokemon‘s 25th year anniversary. Special raids including Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, and Mewtwo!
In Pokemon Sword and Shield, a special Max Raid Battle event feature Gigantamax Pikachu is underway!
Pokemon Masters EX has the chance to take on Champion Leon and his Partner Pokemon Charizard!
And last but not least, Pokemon Cafe Mix is handing out 2500 Golden Acorns to anyone who signs in between Feb 25-28th.

Happy Pokemon Day!
Go catch ’em all!

Fry’s Electronics: An Obituary (1985-2021)

Like a certain iconic electronic music duo that also disbanded this week, Fry’s Electronics is no more. For me, that is a big deal. Fry’s Electronics was one of the biggest electronics stores that I frequented growing up. There were TVs, computers, video games, mobile phones, appliances, tools, toys, books, software, hardware, and in some locations, restaurants. At one point, one could spend hours in Fry’s looking at the massive selection of products they had to offer. Before you headed to the checkout line, there was also a huge selection of snacks for your gaming sessions, including organic sour gummy worms and some extremely rare snacks that I still can only find online (looking at you, Mauna Loa Kona Coffee Glazed Macadamia Nuts).

When Fry’s chose to close up shop on February 24, 2021, this put an end to an electronics retailer that offered far more than just products—they offered services such as PC building, audio installation, the list goes on and on. The very first parts that would end up in my PC came from Fry’s Electronics. It was also an excellent place to find the latest video games. Even the tiniest electronic parts could be found at Fry’s, like those little transistors that go in some circuit board for some project. Another thing that caught customers’ eyes were the thematic stores. The location in Palo Alto, California was Wild West-themed, while the location in Sacramento was Gold Rush-themed. One of my favorites, the original Sunnyvale location, detailed the history of Silicon Valley, while the Las Vegas location (where I live now) was Las Vegas Strip-themed (obviously).

While there is no doubt that Fry’s has had a reputation among customers as being empty shells of their former selves in more ways than one even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it is an institution that has fostered my interest in consumer electronics that led me to build my first PC a decade ago. From the early 2000s to the mid-2010s, I frequented Fry’s at least once a month (if not more frequently) with my family and friends. While the writing was on the wall in the late 2010s, it took a global pandemic to put the final nail in the coffin of Fry’s Electronics.

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On their website, Fry’s said: “After nearly 36 years in business as the one-stop-shop and online resource for high-tech professionals across nine states and 31 stores, Fry’s Electronics, Inc. (“Fry’s” or “Company”), has made the difficult decision to shut down its operations and close its business permanently as a result of changes in the retail industry and the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Company will implement the shut down through an orderly wind down process that it believes will be in the best interests of the Company, its creditors, and other stakeholders. The Company ceased regular operations and began the wind-down process on February 24, 2021. It is hoped that undertaking the wind-down through this orderly process will reduce costs, avoid additional liabilities, minimize the impact on our customers, vendors, landlords and associates, and maximize the value of the Company’s assets for its creditors and other stakeholders.”

It’s been a great run, and may all their employees land on their feet and find something new as soon as possible.

World of Warcraft News: Patch 9.1, Burning Crusade Classic leaked

Ahead of this weekend’s virtual BlizzCon event, a Blizzard employee mistakenly posted PR information about World of Warcraft that discussed both Patch 9.1 and The Burning Crusade Classic. The leak was immediately posted to the MMOChampion forums. BlizzCon is being held virtually from February 19-20, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is free of charge.

Patch 9.1

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While not much about Patch 9.1 has been set in stone yet, there will be a new 10-boss raid, the Sanctum of Domination, as well as a new eight-boss mega-dungeon, Tazavesh, the Veiled Market. In addition, there will also be a new zone, Korthia, the City of Secrets. The new PvP season will be released with 9.1 in addition to the next Mythic+ season.

There will also be additions to the covenants, such as upgrades to soulbinds and (possibly) new conduits. You can also fly in the Shadowlands in 9.1, although it is not clear what achievements will be needed to unlock flying. Flying will be similar to Legion with players only being able to fly in the four original Shadowlands zones of Revendreth, Maldraxxus, Bastion, and Ardenweald.

It is not yet known when 9.1 will release, but several reports have speculated a late May to early June release due to the amount of content involved.

The Burning Crusade Classic

While this was a matter of when and not if, The Burning Crusade Classic was also leaked. While all features of The Burning Crusade return (along with being free to play for World of Warcraft subscribers), there is also an option to advance characters straight to The Burning Crusade or opt to remain in WoW Classic. This is an interesting addition and may spark some debates in the community.

We’re looking forward to more information during BlizzCon Online this weekend. Stay tuned for more news about Blizzard games in the upcoming days!

The Mortal Kombat reboot trailer has arrived

The Mortal Kombat franchise hasn’t graced the big screen in over two decades, with the last entry, Mortal Kombat Annihilation, leaving a rather bad taste in our mouths. But all that will change this April, when Warner Bros. releases the highly awaited reboot from director Simon McQuoid. And this morning, they unleashed a good first look at what’s to come.

Mortal Kombat is going all out this time around, shooting for that R rating with all kinds of carnage. In fact, the trailer provides a whole lot of it, from “Jax” Briggs getting his arms frozen off by a vengeful Sub-Zero to the legendary Hiroyuki Sanada showing his stuff as Scorpion, ripping through enemies like they were paper with his spear. (And yes, he says, “Get over here” in pure Scorpion fashion.)

The trailer also focuses a little bit on the story this time around. A newcomer fighter by the name of Cole Young (Lewis Tan) finds himself embroiled in the Mortal Kombat tournament, after a birthmark is discovered on his chest. He soon discovers just what the deadly Shang Tsung (Chin Han) has in mind for it, as he meets a number of competitors along the way, including Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), Kano (Josh Lawson) and Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee). There are others as well – including the return of the vicious Kano.

The movie is set to hit both theaters and the HBO Max on-demand service starting on April 16th. It looks to be a bloody good time, while also paying tribute to the original game’s storyline. Sure, it doesn’t have Christopher Lambert along for the ride this time around (“Sorry.”), but it’s got more than enough to make up for it in the meantime. MORTAL KOMBAT!

Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts coming to PC on March 30

One of Square ENIX’s best-selling series, Kingdom Hearts, is coming to PC on March 30. The Kingdom Hearts collection will be available on the Epic Games Store. This ends nearly 20 years of console exclusivity for the franchise. The first Kingdom Hearts game came out in 2002, Kingdom Hearts II came out in 2005, and Kingdom Hearts III came out in 2019 after being in development for over a decade. In between, there were lots of spin-off games in the franchise which can also be found on PC.

Epic Games announced the release of the Kingdom Hearts series on PC in a tweet. “The iconic @KINGDOMHEARTS series is coming to PC for the first time ever on March 30th!” they said. “Are you ready to join Sora and friends in their battle against the darkness? Pre-order all the titles in the @KINGDOMHEARTS series starting today!”

Epic Games has announced that the following games are coming out for PC at $49.99 for Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix:

  • Kingdom Hearts Final Mix
  • Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories
  • Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (HD remastered cinematics)
  • Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix
  • Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix
  • Kingdom Hearts Re:coded (HD remastered cinematics)

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue includes the following at $59.99:

  • Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance HD
  • Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A fragmentary passage –
  • Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover (movie)

Kingdom Hearts III and Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory will be both $59.99 on PC.

Kingdom Hearts

Square ENIX has not yet confirmed whether or not this will remain an Epic Games exclusive or if it will be released on Steam in the future. Fans were hopeful for a Steam release in the future in response to the announcement. Are you buying these games (again) on PC? Are you excited to see this franchise hit the PC? Let us know in the comments below!

Dustin “Screech” Diamond passes away at age 44

Fans of the classic 90s show Saved By the Bell were thrown for a loop this morning upon learning about the passing of one of its beloved characters, “Screech.”

Dustin Diamond was only 44 years old.

Dustin Diamond, the actor who portrayed the strange but lovable goofball from the NBC series that ran from 1989 to 1993, passed away earlier today at the age of 44 in Florida, following his bout with stage 4 lung cancer.

“We are saddened to confirm of Dustin Diamond’s passing on Monday, February 1st, 2021 due to carcinoma,” his reps from Roger Paul, Inc. said in a statement earlier today. “He was diagnosed with this brutal, relentless form of malignant cancer only three weeks ago. In that time, it managed to spread rapidly throughout his system; the only mercy it exhibited was its sharp and swift execution. Dustin did not suffer. He did not have to lie submerged in pain. For that, we are grateful.”

Diamond’s actions weren’t always easy to take. Following his fame in the series, he self-produced a sex tape, wrote a tell-all book spilling the secrets on working on the show, and was even arrested in a bar fight back in 2014. However, the reps acknowledged these actions, stating that Dustin “was a character in and of himself: an unpredictable spitfire who always left us shocked, but never left us bored. We are thankful he trusted us enough to share his genuine, authentic self with our team. We wish you knew him in the way that we did.”

Along with his appearances in Saved By the Bell and some of its spinoffs, Diamond also appeared in such films as Made, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star and American Pie Presents: The Book of Love. He was also a subject on reality shows like Celebrity Big Brother and Celebrity Fit Club.

Our thoughts are with Diamond’s family and friends. We’ve included a memorandum clip below, highlighting Diamond’s best moments on the show.

Rest in peace, Screech.

Reckful, former top-ranked World of Warcraft PvPer, commits suicide at age 31

Reckful once held the highest PvP ranking in the game’s history.

Byron “Reckful” Bernstein was once a fixture in the World of Warcraft arena scene for many years, playing a rogue. He was in the middle of developing his own video game before he sadly took his own life at the age of 31. His roommate and ex-girlfriend confirmed his death via Twitter. Many others in the gaming world paid tribute to Reckful, who once held the highest PvP ranking in World of Warcraft history.

What made Reckful even more prominent was his openness with his struggle with mental health issues. Typically, mental health issues are still a taboo subject even in the gaming world, where a higher percentage of individuals may suffer from mental health issues than the general population. He even talked with a psychiatrist on his stream to encourage other viewers who were also undergoing depression and other mental health issues to seek help. Sadly, some people took advantage of Reckful’s vulnerable state. Some viewers even openly encouraged him to commit suicide despite their knowledge of his mental health issues.

Hours ago, Reckful made a series of tweets proposing to his ex-girlfriend and even apologized to people who had to deal with his struggles with mental health. These were the last tweets he would make before taking his own life.

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Reckful was developing a game called Everland at the time of his death. He will be missed by everyone in the World of Warcraft community and the gaming world. We would like to use this time to remind everyone to be kind to one another and check in on all your friends during this difficult time, especially those who are struggling with mental health issues.

If you are struggling and want to reach out, here are some global resources for you to use.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 Remaster Coming September 4, 2020

Skateboards out this September.

It’s time to get back on the skateboard—Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is coming to the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on September 4, 2020. Today also happens to be skateboarding legend Tony Hawk’s birthday. Original publisher Activision and developer Vicarious Visions (who also did the Crash Bandicoot remasters) are working on the project.

The last game in the series, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5, came out in 2015. The licensing deal between Tony Hawk and Activision was set to expire at the end of the year, and fans were disappointed in the game. There were rumors of a remaster of the series in 2019, and today, the remaster has been officially announced.

“Thanks to all the fans of our series for keeping this dream alive,” Hawk said on Twitter. The original cast from the games will be returning. Skateboarding fans will recognize faces such as Steve Caballero, Geoff Rowley, Bucky Lasek, Elissa Steamer, Kareem Campbell, Andrew Reynolds, Bob Burnquist, Eric Koston, Rodney Mullen, Jamie Thomas, Rune Glifberg, and Chad Muska.

The 4K resolution graphics aren’t the only new thing coming to this remaster.

While everyone would love to skate their favorite levels in 4K resolution, you can also do tricks like wall plants, reverts, and lip tricks. The game is also known for its iconic soundtrack, but due to licensing issues, some of the tracks from both games will not be available in the remastered version.

You can even create your own skater and your own skatepark, and even share those parks with your friends online. The game will be available on September 4, 2020, for $39.99. You can purchase the digital deluxe edition for $49.99, or even get the collector’s edition for $99.99, which includes a full-sized Birdhouse deck autographed by Tony Hawk himself.

What do you think about the remaster of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater? Are you ready to get on the sticks and start grinding and kickflipping your way to skateboarding supremacy? Let us know in the comments below.

Michael Chu Leaves Blizzard

Lead Overwatch Writer Searches for New Opportunities

After 20 years at Blizzard, Overwatch lead writer Michael Chu is leaving the company to pursue other adventures. Chu is a significant contributor to the ongoing Overwatch lore and story outside of the game. He’s written many of the hero’s origin stories and flushed out the universe in which the game takes place both through comics and short fiction. Two of Chu’s pieces, “Bastet” and “Reflections” were celebrated throughout the community for revealing Soldier:76 and Tracer as LGBTQ+ heroes. Chu also worked on Diablo 3, World of Warcraft, and the in-development Overwatch 2.

On Chu’s website, he stated that: “Overwatch has been a life-changing experience. I have always felt that games and the stories they tell have the unique ability to bring people closer together and that the empathy you feel from stepping into someone else’s shoes, even virtually, can bridge the gap between miles, cultures, and nations.”

Whoever takes Chu’s place has big shoes to fill. Overwatch 2, which will feature a story-driven campaign, will rely heavily on the writing done by his replacement. While Overwatch lore has always been a hot topic for discussion, I’m hoping that Overwatch 2 will teach us more about the characters and the world they inhabit than ever before. While lore exists in the game, many players don’t seem to know much about the world, nor do they care. Hopefully, a game based around the story aspect will entice players new and old to learn about the characters that make up this world. It’s one of my few expectations for the new game.

Here’s Blizzard’s statement on Michael Chu’s departure: “Michael’s contributions to the games and stories of the Warcraft, Diablo, and Overwatch universes have been a source of inspiration, and we will always be thankful for the time he spent at Blizzard. We wish him the best for the future.”

New Overwatch Hero Echo Could be Game Changing

The Newest Hero

When Blizzard announced Overwatch 2 at Blizzcon, it left many fans wondering what it meant for the original game. Would we still see consistent updates? Or would Overwatch be put on the backburner during the development of the sequel? Only time would tell.

Luckily, it turns out that the developers still have a couple of surprises for their fans and players alike. On March 18, @PlayOverwatch tweeted the reveal of the new hero Echo. Her origin story revolves around Dr. Liao, a Singaporean scientist who worked to create and eventually fight the omnics. Liao was an expert in artificial intelligence, an employee of the Omnica Corporation, and the sixth founder of Overwatch. When she was killed in an attack on the Overwatch facility, Echo, Liao’s creation, adapted to Liao’s personality and goals. Dr. Liao built Echo to fulfill her dream of helping the world; she is an echo of her legacy.

Echo was initially introduced back in the 2018 “Reunion” short for Ashe and McCree and later took a more significant role in the Overwatch 2 teaser trailer. It turns out her origins go back before the 2018 video and before Overwatch itself. Echo was formerly an asset from Blizzard’s MMO Titan, which was canceled in 2013. Her appearance has changed since then – she’s much more humanoid and sleek – but her concept has stayed relatively the same.

Echo’s Abilities

It turns our Echo is Overwatch’s newest DPS hero and not a support character like many players assumed. Her abilities are energy-based and seem to be quite strong so far. Her primary, Tri-shot, lets her shoot a triangular burst from her hand. She also has a sticky bomb ability that explodes after a few seconds, and a Focusing Beam that deals high amounts of damage for a limited time. Not to mention, she can fly and glide in a way similar to Mercy and Pharah.

Echo’s most substantial ability is her ultimate Duplicate. It allows her to copy any enemy team hero – minus another Echo – and use their abilities as her own for a short period. This technique means she can fill any role, tank, support, or DPS, and use their ultimate to her advantage.

Echo’s Abilities Courtesy of @RevertMercySays on Twitter

According to Jeff Kaplan, Echo is most likely the last new hero we’ll see until Overwatch 2. If you want to try her out for yourself, she’s currently live on PTR servers.