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The Spitfire Topple the Dynasty in Overwatch League Week Four

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Overwatch-League

The first stage playoffs were looming over the Overwatch League in week four, forcing many teams to step up their game. London made Seoul look like a Contenders league team, and Boston’s continued uprising (sorry) gives them a legitimate chance at qualifying for the stage one playoffs. Meanwhile, Houston missed its best chance to break into the top three, though they’ll have one last chance in week 5. With that said, let’s take a look at where those developments leave everyone else.

  1. NY XL | standing: +1

There’s not a whole lot to say about the XL this week since their opponents (Shanghai and Dallas) are two of the worst teams in the league. It is worth noting that the Fuel were able to take a map off of them, though New York has consistently struggled on control during this stage. Their hybrid and assault play continues to be excellent, as they generally took both maps without too much trouble. Dallas took them to the time bank phase on Temple of Anubis, but they handily held them off after taking both points on offense.

They’ll have one more cake-walk next week against the Florida Mayhem before London really pours on the pressure. They’re basically locked into the playoffs at this point, but they’ll want to lock in the number 1 seed at all costs.

  1. London Spitfire | standing: +2

There were some question marks surrounding the London squad after Boston handed them their first loss in week three, but those question marks are now more like exclamation points. Not only has the Uprising proven to be a playoff contender, but the Spitfire made an absolute statement against the Seoul Dynasty.

Their defense was almost impeccable, and it only cracked when the game was already sealed in their favor. Ilios was also a fair bit closer than their 2-0 victory demonstrates, but their shot calling in most situations was commendable. They had more effective set-ups, better ultimate management and good shot calling. Then, against the Dragons, they actually do pull off a complete shutout. Granted, Shanghai is an absolute mess — but it’s still impressive.

London will need every bit of momentum they built up going into week five, however. Losses against the New York XL or the Houston Outlaws could force them to play an extra playoff game, and a falling to both could jeopardize their stage one run entirely. But with how they looked this week, it’s hard to say whether they’ll be stopped by either team.

  1. Seoul Dynasty | standing: -2

What a rough week for the Dynasty, which fell to pieces against London and barely held off the Houston Outlaws. The fault of the former travesty may fall to their coaching staff since they decided to play Moon “gido” Gi-Do over Ryu “ryujehong” Je-Hong. Apparently they figured the mix up could throw London off guard, but that clearly wasn’t the case. Instead, Seoul clearly missed having one of their leaders (and one of the best Zenyatta players in the league) on their side. Granted, they still ran a potent defense, but their offense seemed out of sync.

They decided to bring back Ryujehong for Houston, and the rest of the team returned to form. While they struggled occasionally against the Outlaws’ aggression, they were often able to adapt to the pressure. The real key to victory was Byung-Sun “Fleta” Kim’s outstanding performance on map three, where terrorized Houston from above as Pharah. If they had lost there, the series may never have gone to five maps in the first place. Their tanks also deserve credit for stopping the comeback on Lijiang tower, where their ability to zone the Outlaws off the point sealed the deal.

At least next week should be easier, though the Valiant could stage an upset. The team is the only in the top three that hasn’t dropped a game against a team outside the top three. Perhaps they’re overdue.

  1. Houston Outlaws | standing -1

This could have been a much bigger week for the Outlaws if only Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin hadn’t been sick the entire time. His absence was really felt against Seoul, which Houston took to five maps. Matthew “Clockwork” Dias was a serviceable replacement against a mediocre San Francisco Shock, but he couldn’t keep up with the likes of Seok-Woo “Wekeed” Choi or Sang-Beom “Munchkin” Byun.

Jake Lyon did rise to the occasion, but he couldn’t carry the team on his back. The team did demonstrate excellent coordination, though, whenever a payload was involved. Unfortunately, they failed to capitalize when it came to control maps.

To make it into the playoffs, they’ll have to be borderline flawless in week five. The London Spitfire are sitting pretty at the top of the standings and Boston is feeling hot after their gradual ascension. Hopefully the whole team is healthy and ready to fight their way into the playoffs.

  1. Boston Uprising | standing +2

How high will this talented Boston team end up climbing? They may be approaching their ceiling after a sweep of Los Angeles, but they’ve shattered expectations more than once this season.

Jonathan “DreamKazper” Shanchez and Namju “Striker” Gwon were nigh unstoppable this week, and proved they’re as smart as they are skilled. The way they separated the Gladiator’s support players from the rest of their team paid off in spades, and their deadliness of their ultimates against the Valiant deserves special mention. The rest of the team played well, too — especially Noh “Gamsu” Yeong-Jin’s contributions to the dive.

Beating Philadelphia shouldn’t be too tall a task for them in week five, but their real test will come against the Outlaws. Will the Uprising DPS surpass their counterparts once again and become the new best team in the west?

  1. Los Angeles Valiant | standing: –

Considering how dominant the Valiant looked against Philadelphia, it was surprising that they lost so completely to Boston. Terence “SoOn” Tarlier, Ted “Silkthread” Wang and Brady “Agilities” Girardi all outperformed the very talented duo of Jae-Hyeok “Carpe” Lee and Georgii “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha, but couldn’t keep up with Dreamkazper and Striker. Kang-Jae “Envy” Lee and Pan-Seung “Fate” Koo held up against the Fusion, but couldn’t prevent the dive from Boston.

It’s a bit Jekyll and Hyde, and it won’t make qualifying for the stage one playoffs any easier. They’ll need more of a killer instinct against Seoul, who demonstrated plenty of weaknesses against the Spitfire. Hopefully the Valiant spend enough time watching the tape to give themselves a fighting chance in the first day of week five.

  1. Philadelphia Fusion | standing: -2

Making the stage one playoffs was always going to be a long shot for the Philadelphia Fusion, but their hopes were mostly dashed after being swept by the Los Angeles Valiant. Carpe had a bad day, and the whole series would have been much uglier if it weren’t for ShaDowBurn and Alberto “Neptuno” González Molinillo. They simply couldn’t execute their game plan at the same level as their opponents and were generally outplayed.

They did get a sweep of their own against Dallas, and the rest of the team seemed to be playing much better. But a large part of that may well have been the caliber of their opponents. The Fuel haven’t looked good all season, and they have many exploitable weaknesses. Philly does get points for adapting to the off-kilter Doomfist, though, since adaptation is an important part of a team’s toolkit.

They’ll need a lot of help in week five, though, if they hope to make the playoffs. A victory against Boston will be a start, but they’ll need a lot of other teams to drop games they’re likely to win.

  1. San Francisco Shock | standing +1

The Shock may be eliminated by making the stage one playoffs, but the team showed a bit of fight this weekend. The Outlaws were always going to be a tough opponent, and the fact that they avoided the 4-0 is commendable. It may have been more commendable if they’d been able to score a point on Dorado after clutching out a win on the control maps, but beggars can’t be choosers. Andrej “Babybay” Francisty and Dante “Danteh” Cruz are still the best thing about this team, and Daniel “dhaK” Martinez Paz certainly needs to stop dying. Their win against Florida also could have been a lot cleaner, but a sweep is still a sweep.

Next week won’t be so easy, though, with a seemingly unwinnable match up against Seoul and what will likely be a hard fight against the LA Gladiators.

  1. Los Angeles Gladiators | standing -1

The Gladiators beat the team they were supposed to and lost to the team that seemed better than them. It isn’t really surprising, but it also isn’t very conducive to rising in the standings. Benjamin Ville Aapeli “BigGoose” Isohanni continues to be a bit of a liability on Mercy, or a point of exploitation at the very least. Considering his best hero is Lucio, though, he’s likely looking forward to the start of stage two. Maybe the extra mobility and the lack of resurrection will help them out against dive comps that seem to be giving the team so much trouble.

The good news is, however, that they have a chance to pick up two wins next week and finish the stage on a good note. Of course, if they end up with a repeat of week four, it wouldn’t be entirely surprising either.

  1. Dallas Fuel | standing: –

The most confusing team in the Overwatch League went 0-2 once again. It’s one thing to lose to the New York XL — especially when you can take a map off them. But losing 4-0 to the Fusion, especially when the match was very winnable, is a huge disappointment. After all, Timo “Taimou” Kettunen was (almost) able to keep pace with ShaDowBurn’s levels of destruction, and even Hyeon “Effect” Hwang’s Doomfist was surprisingly useful.

But ultimately, Sebastian “Chipshajen” Widlund couldn’t stop dying at the absolute worst times. He died in the middle of his ultimate, died just moments before getting a crucial ultimate and generally just died. And without the important healing from their mercy, it didn’t matter how good the rest of the team was. Holding objectives in this patch often requires the two resurrections from Mercy’s Valkyrie ultimate, and he just wasn’t able to be there for his team. Until they solve that problem, they’ll never live up to their full potential.

  1. Florida Mayhem | standing: –

Florida is like a tiny iceberg. They may not look like much at first glance, but there is (some) potential below the surface. They lost 3-1 and 4-0 against two teams they should have been able to compete with, but they did show flashes of cohesion that could lead to a much better stage two. When Tim “Manneten” Bylund is applying enough pressure so Andreas “Logix” Berghmans and Kevin “TviQ” Lindström can play at their best, they can compete. If Sebastian “Zebosai” Olsson can stop getting killed over stupid mistakes, they can at least compete with the bottom half of the standings.

They still may not end up anywhere near the top, but these six players could at least get more than a single win. At the least, they could make their games close. Fortunately for them, the OWL analyst desk seems confident that, once the next patch gets here, things will be different. They could also use some subs, too, to be honest.

  1. Shanghai Dragons | standing: –

The only thing to say is thank goodness the team is getting some help for the next stage. Signing three new players will hopefully bring some life to a squad that simply cannot find a groove. At least they have one final chance to nab their first win of the season and avoid embarrassment. Dallas won’t go down easy, but their chances are better against them than against the Valiant.

Freelance writer (journalism/fiction) , esports oriented. Big on Pokemon VGC, League of Legends, Overwatch. Sports Journalism MA at Cronkite School of Journalism, class of 2019.

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‘Tecmo Bowl, the Godfather of NFL Games

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Tecmo Bowl Retrospective

Tecmo Bowl was a big deal back in 1989!

With Madden growing more popular and even more complex every year, we sometimes forget about the game that started it all.

I cannot stress the importance of Tecmo Bowl twenty-nine years after its release. Originally an arcade game, Tecmo Bowl was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System by the makers of such classics as Ninja Gaiden, Mighty Bomb Jack, and Solomon’s Key, and it took everyone by surprise by just how good it was. Nobody expected the Japanese developers of puzzle games and 2D platformers to succeed in creating a sports game, much less an American sports game, but they did. Named NES Sports Game of the Year, Tecmo Bowl provided players with the best football experience found on the NES console back in 1989 and it paved the way for what became the biggest trend in sports games to this day.

Although Tecmo didn’t have the official NFL license to use the actual team names and logos (the teams in the game are identified by their home city or state), the game features players from 12 NFL franchises due to being licensed by the NFLPA (National Football League Players Association). Nowadays this doesn’t seem like a big deal but back in 1989 it was huge! Tecmo Bowl features some of football’s greatest players including John Elway, Bo Jackson, Marcus Allen, Mike Singletary, Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Walter Payton, and Dan Marino, and when it shipped 29 years ago, it changed everything for sports video games.

Long before football video games became just as complex as real-life football, Tecmo Bowl laid the groundwork for what would be the standard moving forward. There aren’t many plays to choose from but you’re given the choice of 4 plays while on offense and another 4 while on defense. In addition, the game features three different modes: Single Player, Two Player, and Coaching mode which allows you to call plays while letting the CPU control the players on the field. The simple and responsive controls work perfectly within the framework of the game, and it is this simplicity that makes the game fun to play to this day. And regardless if you know don’t know much about the sport, anyone can easily follow along thanks to the broadcast camera view and two-button controls.

Tecmo_Celebration_1280w

Tecmo Bowl is a seemingly effortless game in which everything falls neatly into place. It stripped football down to its basic elements and created a fun arcade experience anyone can enjoy. Tecmo Bowl was Madden before Madden was a household name. It’s the game that started the football franchise craze in video games and laid the groundwork for the even better, Tecmo Super Bowl. American football games have come a long way over the years, but what hasn’t changed is the sheer enjoyment any football fan can have when playing Tecmo Bowl.

Tecmo Bowl is without a doubt the granddaddy of football games, and there’s something to be said for the back-to-basics formula that Tecmo Bowl employed. With technological enhancements in gameplay, graphics, power, and speed, the original Tecmo Bowl seems incredibly dated in 2016, but surprisingly the game holds up nearly three decades later.

Side Note: There were two NES versions of the game released in the U.S. The first release is easily identified by its black and gold seal of quality and the second version by its white and gold seal. It should also be noted that the names of players were removed on the virtual console release.

Tecmo Bowl
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‘Coffee Talk’ Review: The Best Brew in Town

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

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It’s 9:00pm. The rain just started coming down softly a few minutes ago, and the street outside is reflecting the lights above it. Neon signs shine brightly in the distance, although it’s hard to make out the words. You unlock the doors to the coffee shop and wipe down the counters in order to get them clean for the customers. The rain makes a soft sound as it hits the glass and passerby speed up their walking pace to avoid it. The bells chime as a tall, green orc walks in and sits down at your table in silence. You wonder what their story is…

I wanted to set the tone for this review because of how important atmosphere and audio/visual design is in the world of Coffee Talk. While it’s easy to boil the game down as a visual novel-type experience, it’s honestly so much more than that. A unique cast of characters, incredible user interface, and a mysterious protagonist combine to form the most enjoyable experience I’ve had this year on Switch.

Coffee Talk
Some of the subject matter can be pretty serious in nature…

Coffee Talk is beautiful because of how simple it is. The entire game takes place within a single coffee shop. As the barista, you’re tasked with making drinks for the patrons of the shop as well as making conversations with them. The twist is that earth is populated with creatures like orcs, werewolves, and succubi. The relationship between the various races is handled very well throughout the story, and some interesting parallels are made to the real world.

Making drinks is as simple as putting together a combination of three ingredients and hitting the ‘Serve’ button. If a unique drink is made, it will be added to a recipe list that can be referenced on the barista’s cell phone. This is where the awesome user interface comes in, as the phone has a series of apps that can be accessed at any moment in the game. One app houses your recipe list, another acts as a facebook for the characters in the game, one allows you to switch between songs, and the other houses a series of short stories that one of the characters in the game writes as it progresses. It’s one of the coolest parts of the whole experience and helps it stand out from other games in the genre.

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Coffee Talk cycles between talking with customers and making drinks for them. In the beginning, they will ask for basic beverages that can be brewed on the fly. Later on however, they may ask for a specific type of drink that has a unique title. These drinks often have certain descriptive features that hint at other possibilities in terms of unique dialogue. If the wrong drink is made, you’ll have five chances to trash it and make a new one. If the wrong drink is made, don’t expect the customer to be pleased about it.

The gameplay really is not the focus here though; it’s the characters and their stories that take center stage. An elf with relationship issues, a writer that can’t seem to pin down her next story, and an alien whose sole goal is to mate with an earthling are just a few of the examples of the characters you’ll meet during the story. There are tons of memorable moments throughout Coffee Talk, with every character bringing something unique to the table. The barista develops an interesting relationship with many of these characters as well.

Coffee Talk
Appearances can often be deceiving in this game.

Even though serving the wrong drinks can change some of the dialogue, don’t expect any sort of options or branching paths in terms of the story. It’s not that kind of experience; the story should simply be enjoyed for what it is. I found myself glued to the screen at the end of each of the in-game days, waiting to see what would happen in the morning. The first playthrough also doesn’t answer all of the game’s questions, as the second one is filled with all kinds of surprises that I won’t spoil here.


Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who loves video games, not just visual novel fans. There are characters in the game that I’ll certainly be thinking about for a long time, especially when the setting brings out the best in them. Don’t pass this one up.

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The Magic of Nintendo: How Mario and Zelda Connect us to Our Inner Child

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Magic of Nintendo

Nintendo is special. Many excellent developers depend upon story or progression systems to entice engagement, but not Nintendo. Nintendo games captivate because of their immediate charm. There is no need for a payoff. The games, themselves, are enough: they elicit feelings, hard to find in adulthood. Through intrepid discovery, playful presentation, and unfiltered whimsy, the best of Nintendo connects gamers to their childlike selves.

The heart of any great Nintendo game is discovery and no encounter encapsulates this better than Breath of the Wild’s Eventide Island. First, finding the island requires genuine gumption. Found far from Hyrule’s shore, the island is only clearly visible from other islands, and even then, it’s only a speck in the distance. Reaching the island requires players to brave the open ocean and head towards something … that could be nothing. Then, upon arriving on the beach, a spirit takes all the player’s gear, including clothes and food. Link, literally, is left in his underwear. From there, players must make clever use of Link’s base skills in order to steal enemy weapons and make traps. The scenario creates a marvelous sense of self-sufficiency brought on by one’s own desire to discover. The player comes to the island purely of their own choosing, tackles the sea, and then overcomes obstacles without the aid of their strongest tools. The game turns players into plucky children who are discovering they can take care of themselves.

The intrepidity of Breath of the Wild and other Nintendo greats mirrors the feelings Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of many Nintendo franchises, experienced as a child. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” Miyamoto told the New Yorker. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation.” In sequences like Eventide Island, players don’t just understand what Miyamoto describes, they feel it: Apprehension gives way to exhilaration as the unknown becomes a place of play.

 Nintendo’s intrepid gameplay is often amplified by playful presentation with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island being the quintessential example. The game’s visuals, defined by pastel colors and simple hand-drawings, appear crayoned by a child while the celestial chimes that punctuate the jubilant soundtrack evoke shooting stars. The overall effect cannot be understated. It takes the surreal and turns it real, allowing players to interact, tangibly, with imagination.

Super Mario Odyssey Wooden Kingdom

Even if one removes the presentation and gameplay from Nintendo’s masterpieces, an unabashed creativity remains that bucks norm and convention. The arbiter is fun; reason and logic have no say. For instance, Super Mario Odyssey’s Wooded Kingdom, takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting akin to Nier Automata. Players explore the metal remnants of a civilization that has become a lush home to robotic beings. However, unlike Nier, the dark undertones of the past have no bearing on the game or those who inhabit its universe. The post-apocalyptic setting is just a fun backdrop. It’s as though a bunch of children got together, began playing with toys, and one of the kids brought along his sibling’s adult action figures. There is no attention paid to the context, only unfiltered imagination.

When they’re at their best the creators at Nintendo invite gamers to come and play, like a parent arranging a play date. Pulled along by joyful gameplay that expands in unforeseen ways, players desire to play for the sake of play. It’s a halcyon state of being: No messy thoughts or contradiction, just joy.

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