Evolving with Pokemon


I must’ve been good the day I got Pokemon Blue.

My dad came home and asked me if I wanted a Gameboy. The KB Toys in the mall had bright red shelves and all the video games were behind the counter. The wall behind the teenage cashier split with rows of Pokemon Red on the left and symmetrical rows of Pokemon Blue on the right.

My dad bought me a blue Gameboy Pocket and Pokemon Blue. Did he know what doors he had opened?

Pokemon came into my life when I was a shy 8-year-old Asian-American growing up in a white suburb. Pokemon Blue was something to share with my peers. Classmates would bring Gameboys to school and we’d battle or trade. We shared tips and Pokemon news. During a rainy-day recess Matt handed me his red Gameboy Pocket and asked me to catch a Scyther. His mouth agape when he saw the green monster with blades for arms locked in a safari ball. From then on classmates recognized me as a Pokemon Master.

Kevin became my rival. He caught all 150. We would meet at the center of the basketball court, our Pokemon battle court, to link up and play or pretend we were the real deal. He was one of the first friends I hung out with after school. Our friendship started with one game, then expanded over many.

Trading cards. Movie premieres. Eevee evolving into Umbreon on my birthday. The time a cousin’s boyfriend made Pokemon cries over the phone. (I knew he’d be a keeper then). The amount of childhood memories with Pokemon matches surpasses the amount of little monsters now more than 700.

Pokemon grew up with me. Blue, Gold, Sapphire, Pearl, HeartGold, Black, X, and later this year Sun. As a child the game gave me an identity, but its significance in my life has evolved to the way men and women recall their days playing sport. Pokemon has helped me make new friends over a shared love of a game that teaches companionship, courage, persistence, and proper bicycle-usage etiquette.

Happy 20th Anniversary Pokemon and Thank you.


Summer Haul

What a strong Summer Sale on Steam this year.

I walked away with 14 titles from the week-long deal fest.


The Banner Saga: A brutal tactical RPG starring Nordic warriors. The game features a hand-drawn art style reminiscent of Disney’s Cinderella days.

Dead Island Riptide: I played a bit of this zombie survival game when the original game was released. I’m looking forward to get back into it at the right price.

Delver: An early access title that promises to be a a first person roguelike with a Minecraftian pixel look.

Hitman: Absolution:  I have not played any of the Hitman games but I saw that you get to wear an animal costume in this one. Sold.

Kentucky Route Zero: This indie adventure game takes players through a road trip along a secret highway beneath Kentucky.

Long Live The Queen: Don’t let its title fool you, players guide a princess’s education to queen but she’ll have to survive first in this visual novel game.

Metro: Last Light: The second game of a series based on a novel. I’ve been interested in this first person shooter where the main character is one of the Russian survivors living in the subway system below a dystopian world.

Noir Syndrome: I bought this indie game on the promise alone that it’s a detective murder-mystery with a new story every time you play.

Organ Trail: Director’s Cut: Think Oregon Trail but with zombies.

Spec Ops: The Line: I’ve heard nothing but good things about this shooter that aims to show the true horrors of war rather than romanticize it.

The Stanley Parable: One of those weird games where the narrator is the star.

Transistor: I went ahead and rushed through Bastion so I could play Supergiant Games’s next title. This sci-fi game has an amazing art style and soundtrack with some challenging combat.

The Wolf Among Us: Finally a video game in the Fables world.

Wolfenstein: The New Order: This recently released shooter surprised a lot of people with its story and I can’t wait to dive in. I’ll have to wait as it’ll take me a day to download the title.

Are any of these games your favorite? What did you buy from the sale? Let me know in the comments below.

Three things I want in Mortal Kombat X

MKXNetherRealm Studios revealed Mortal Kombat X in 2015 with a trailer.

The 2-minute video shows series favorites Sub-Zero and Scorpion have at it in forest in the dead of winter.

Here are three features I’d like to see in the future title.

1. Finisher frenzy

I want the gambit of finishers. Characters in 2011’s Mortal Kombat reboot had several fatalities and a babality, but I want them all to return including friendship fatalities, animalities, brutalities and maybe something new.

Can’t forget the stage fatalities.

2. Interactive Stages

Imagine fighting in front of Shao Kahn as he sits on his throne. Then after hitting your opponent with a mix up you throw him into Shao Kahn where the big bad brings the pain and throws him back to you to finish the combo.

NetherRealm Studios did a great job in interactive environments in Injustice Gods Among Us and I’d like that feature to make it’s way to MK.

3. More cheese

The best part of Mortal Kombat is the one-liners.

They’re a little cheesy like Smoke’s “Where there’s smoke there’s fire,” but I’m all in. In a game where bones are breaking constantly and the floor is covered in blood I expect the characters to enjoy the tournament. Give me more cheese and I’ll be a happy boy.

What would you like to see in the next Mortal Kombat? Let me know in the comments.


Why aren’t you playing Hearthstone?

Take the addictive gameplay of a great trading card game and the charming character of Warcraft and you get Blizzard‘s latest video game  — Hearthstone.

Hearthstone is a competitive, online card game featuring characters, spells and setting of Warcraft. The game recently entered open beta, which means anyone with a computer can join in for FREE right now.

Hearthstone looks as good as it plays. (Credit: Hearthstone website)

Players control one of nine character classes — including mage, warrior and rogue — and create decks of cards to whittle their opponents life points to zero. It’s standard fare for anyone who’s played a trading card game before, but for TCG virgins there’s a tutorial to ease players into the game’s intricacies.

The game starts with the mage deck and from there a player must defeat a class to unlock its deck. As you play through the decks you unlock a handful of class-specific cards.

After that cards are unlocked through randomized boosters that players can purchase with either in-game gold or real cash.

There’s never a need to actually buy cards as the game doles out daily quests that reward a player with gold upon completion. Although, players that spend money during the beta will unlock a exclusive card. (Gotta keep the lights on somehow).

The amount of varying strategy is staggering. Each class has its own specific cards in addition to an open pool of minions. Classes also have unique, character-fitting powers such as the mage’s fireball or the Warlock’s life tap, which allows him to draw a card at the cost of life points.

The starter decks are viable early on, but being able to unlock cards and create your own combos and builds is the heart of the game. It’s thrilling to lay into your opponent with a combo you created, or build a deck that freezes an enemy’s strong minions turn after turn.

If the card play doesn’t make you say “Wow,” the game’s polish will.

Meet the all powerful Angry Chicken (Credit: Hearthstone website)

While players who have dabbled in the world of Warcraft will get an extra kick seeing memorable characters or hearing, “Job’s done” after completing a turn, the game’s overall tone is inviting and not excluding to newcomers.

The game’s card art is varied and stunning. The board features environments that you can click and interact with, which is especially useful if an opponent is taking forever on their turn. Spell effects dazzle and more powerful cards carry weight.

Drop a strong minion and the board beneath it fractures and the cards around it launch into the air for a brief second.

The game is still in development so there are bugs here and there, but the gameplay is so good it’s easy to forgive when cards appear stuck on the board.

Currently there are three play modes: Practice, Play and Arena, with a fourth solo adventure mode coming.

Practice allows players to play with AI bots and Play puts player against player in either casual or ranked games. Most of my time has been spent in Arena, where you build a deck by choosing from randomly generated cards.

Arena games cost gold to enter but winning and winning plenty means better prizes. The counter to glorious loot is three loses ends the journey.

The developer is working on iPad support, but if you’ve been looking for something to play join me and grab Hearthstone.

Have you been playing Hearthstone? Share your thoughts, favorite classes and deck builds below.