5 Self Care Tips From Gaming

You may not think mental health often when you think of video games. How can something that is just a hobby to so many people end up being helpful to your everyday life? Well after years of gaming I have picked up five simple traits that have helped me that I try to apply every day. Some may come as second nature, others a large change to your day to day life, regardless, the goal here is to maybe impart one thing that will help you with your very own self-care.

Number One – Save Your Progress

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Journaling at the end of the day is something that you can do to really help your mind shake off all the dirt and grime. A lot of mornings I wake up roll over and journal a little bit to whatever was on my mind over the night. Things that you normally wouldn’t think of in the day sometimes pop in that head over the night in your dreams. Then when you get through all the long slog of the day you write everything out and it helps to give you a good perspective on what you have done and what you need to still do. Little things tend to add up from this, such as I wrote down what I was eating for a solid week and suddenly I was dropping pounds before I knew it. All that from just getting pen to paper.

Number Two – Grind

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When you focus on a task and repeat it until you master it you will get ahead. Other people will see those wins as luck or happenstance, but it is directly related to the time you put into it that you get back in success. When a large boss stands ahead of you in a video game you grind out what you need if you can’t beat it. A game that comes to mind for me was Bloodborne. When I was trying to finish the chalice dungeons up I just couldn’t get a few of the bosses to drop down. I would come close, a hit away, damage short, or my health just wasn’t there. I spent a solid five hours justing grinding through some of the other dungeons, listening to metal music as I went, determined to finish those bosses. When I returned they fell easy! Sure I overleveled more than I needed to but I wanted them done, and in life, if you want to make the hard things easy you have to grind.

Number Three – Equip The Best Gear

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Many times I have heard that the two things you invest in are a good pair of shoes and a good bed. If you aren’t in one then you are in the other so invest wisely in both. In a video game sometimes you go for what looks cool on the character instead of what hits the hardest of is actually effective. I see people do this in real life with getting things that are bad quality and in the end spending more on the same item over and over. Take the time and save up for what you really want or you will always spend more on the worse version. Vehicles, clothing, healthy food versus ramen for days, buy the best gear and use it. The extra money put in will normally repay itself tenfold.

Number Four – Heal The Party

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You never know when the next battle is in life. When you ignore the small things that add up on you suddenly they become not so small. I have too many times in games not used a potion because I think it isn’t enough damage or not a big deal and then suddenly I am loading up an old save hours behind. You have to go around and do the small things, you have to brush your teeth, shower, get to the gym and see the damn doctor if you are hurting. When you don’t heal the party suddenly things just start snowballing down and you will be regretting that you didn’t “use your potion” sooner.

Number Five – Hard Mode

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Yes I know I wrote Are You On Hard Mode? not too long ago, but it is slowly becoming my mantra. Take the hard road in life and everything will start to be more to you. When you fight all the way to the top of the hill the view is better than the flat road. You get better loot when you fight harder enemies and you are the only person who can set your difficulty at the beginning of your adult life. Tutorial mode finishes and you get to see the world how you want it too.

All of these Self Care ideas are things that I have mentioned or talked about before, but I want to always try to help you push forward. I like to surround myself with people who like to go the extra step, people who want to fight and do the hard things. If you are ever struggling and wanting to get further ahead just send me a message and I will always try to help if I can. I know things look grim at times but follow these five and aim ahead and things will get better.

– SCH

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Brick Wall Board Games

On my list of things to do today, I have, write a blog post about a board game called Seasons. Overall the things I have pumped out and written since I started this blog up, none of them have made me hit a brick wall when it comes to getting the words out. So I will be talking about that problem, but I do want to discuss the future of a board game day in general with all of you amazing readers.

Here is the problem.

Tabletop games are a large part of my life and I am around them often. I work with them and they are always there, yet somehow I draw a blank talking about them sometimes unless it is the week or months current demo. I get into my salesman mode over a game when writing when really I just want to talk about why I like it and how it is fun to me.

I noticed this in two places. One was that they are the least read topics out of anything I do. That is fine and somethings will be noticed and others will not. The interest of the readers and having conversations with you is the most important part of all this to me. I think I could easier talk about why Bastion is probably my favorite or second favorite game soundtrack over why Seasons is one of my favorite drafting games.

The reason why I can is that one is a passion. Something that I enjoy talking about and getting reactions from and seeing how you all react to them too. Having someone message me in an email and having it say they picked up a game after I talked about it made my whole day awesome. The other just still makes me feel like I am trying to sell something to you. Which if you saw me during the day at work, that is exactly what my goal would be. I want this blog to be a passion and not just more work.

That leads to the second places that I noticed this problem and that was my blog about Star Realms. I adore that game! It is something that I would gladly play if someone asks me too and enjoy it the whole time through, and yet still I made the thing sound like a sales pitch to my dismay. I felt that I was drifting from what I want this site to be and to grow into and that is a place to talk about games for fun and why we all enjoy them.

I don’t care if you play Minecraft to level out a mountain, beat the Ender Dragon, or to dig a hole. I care that you are happy and having a damn good time during it.

I don’t care if you go out to the movie for the plot, the date night, or the popcorn. I care that you enjoyed yourself and it gave you something to leave with. That you left with more than you brought.

Each time I post I worry that I will waste your time and that is the worst thing that I could possibly do with this site. So I need to really get down to my brass tacks and figure out what I like talking about so you get the best I can provide.

As the site expands and now has twitter and twitch is about setting up and ready to go I think making the time I do post matter more is the most important part. This summer along with my 40-50 hours at my game store job I plan to work another job as well to get a vehicle paid off and to upgrade my car to a newer one. I miss road trips and getting out to see everything, so I want to return to doing that as well. Turns out that is a lot simpler if you have a safe vehicle to rely on.

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Does this mean the end of board game posts?

I don’t think it does really. I like talking about things and at times boardgames will pop up and I will show why I love them, to try to share some of the joy with you. I know there will still be a post about the Game of Thrones boardgame, one that I have dumped hours and hours into. Really what I think the board game side of things will come down to is I will reach out to my network of friends and have someone who writes about them with a passion about boardgames instead. A few people already come to mind and they can hit the topic harder than I can anyways.

With this, I hope today wasn’t a waste for you. Sometimes all this website may turn out to be is a journal of sorts, but I will always be transparent with you guys and let you know what is going on. The other good news is I don’t think I will have any gaps in posting this week as a motivation based one for Friday crept into my mind, and I want to talk about it.

No matter what, go out and enjoy what is there. Play some games and be happy!

-SCH

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Life Is A Platformer

Don’t miss that call it could be important! Did you make it to your work on time? Did you remember to eat so you had enough energy to make it to the meeting with the boss? No matter how you look at it everything in life can be translated into a video game. In this case, it is all 2D.

That call could have been making it over the jump in a level that led to failure if missed.

If you didn’t complete the level in time you fail, same goes for missing work or an important family event.

Don’t get that mega mushroom and I’m sure you won’t have an easy time with the endgame boss.

I know that a lot of people see every day as a challenge and an uphill struggle that makes you stretch and get there. Taking a moment each day to see things in a different light, or a more lighthearted one even can change how everything goes.

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I mentioned in Starting The Day With A Win that I have a routine I try to do in the morning to get the ball rolling and really get pumped for what lays ahead. I tell myself that mission one is making that bed. Mission two is power up with food so you can take on the day. The biggest tasks that I look at remind me so much of how life is like a platform game than possibly any other.

Things in these games, like Mario, Sonic, Braid or even Never Alone are simple to start and they progress harder through the respective levels. So many people have stormed passed level 1 -1 of the original Mario Bros. How far have you gotten without the continues? Have you actually gotten to the right castle before and saved the princess?

I like to think of all the different stages you have in life as different levels you can have. Each year is marked down as a long level, each month, day, or even sometimes minutes if its a really hard moment. I set my goals up based on these different timepieces and in my journal write down all the big obstacles I have coming ahead of me. In my year goals, I have twelve months I have to get through so my level time is defined, what bosses sit at the end and how much of the special item do I have to collect?

In an example, this year I know I am getting debt free. I am getting a newer vehicle, jumpstarting my online presence in writing, and completing all my backlogged video games. There are so many other things on the list as well, but let’s save you some time here loyal reader.

Many of those things listed can be completed with one thing. Money. So my coins from Mario or golden rings from Sonic are defined as dollar bills in this case. I then add up my total cost for everything I want to accomplish and get that down too. Then I divide it all out and see where I sit as I break it down into tinier levels. After all, a day level isn’t going to be as hard as the whole year, and as long as I hit the daily goals it builds into completing that larger goal.

So I know what I have to collect in the level, then I start out with my fear setting. The large obstacles that I can run into. Tim Ferris has a lot to say about this topic through TED talks and his books. I advise both if this is something that interests you. With the fear setting, I am able to understand the obstacles and adequately prepare for them before hand. I know that after two weeks of dieting or three weeks of working two jobs I will hit a wall. I have been there, I have failed, and I learned more about the level. Writing down and mapping the level out helps me know when I have to jump before I even get there. Now I am finding my hand reaches for the water before even thinking about the Pepsi because I can’t complete the level otherwise.

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Complete the obstacles, collected the items and already you are almost done with the level, you just have the boss at the end. This is where you put your largest most blatantly hard task you have. In day levels for me, it’s usually getting to bed on time. Something that I lose a lot, but it teaches me the next day when I wake up how important that is to do. My devious weekly boss is staying in budget. Something I struggle with daily, but I know I have to do to get by. That yearly boss that I hate looking at is my physical fitness. Sure I can save money and pay things off, but it is easy to ignore what is in front of you.

Make the boss yourself and have your own Dark Link battle. It isn’t pleasant, but it needs to be done.

Life is simply a platformer that you make and build. Construct your level, find and prepare for the obstacles, and take down that boss. Only you can do it. There is no Obi-Wan coming, you are your only hope, but you also know the only path there is to take. After all, you are the one crafting your game.

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Weekend Blur

Sometimes everything passes by you in the blink of an eye. You get to work at ten in the morning and suddenly you are leaving at four AM. Normally this is a schedule you wouldn’t want to have, but every once in a while for a special event, it is totally worth it. So for today’s quick little article, I am going to tell you about all the gaming that was had at work that kept me away.

To give you a quick preface, my full-time job is at a game store. Been there for years and love it, but decided to also do this blog on the side for my own enjoyment and to branch out a bit. It helps scratch that itch I get at times to go out and write. The game store hosts all kinds of events throughout the year and this last weekend was the release of a large magic set. I talked about it a bit in The Culture, but this was a big one for a lot of reasons.

War of the Spark in Magic the Gathering brought a lot of high powered cards to the table and advanced the plot of the in-game lore significantly. Much in the same fashion of Game of Thrones and Endgame this last weekend, Magic also wrapped up years of work and the big bad guy battle.

With this culmination of work getting put together, people showed up from all over to play in the prerelease. A chance to get to play with the cards a week before the set even officially comes out and to get together with other fans of the game to talk and trade. Every person has their own goals when coming to one of these events. For some it is fun, others it is the competition and trying to get first for more packs, myself I like to trade during the weekend. My first goal when a set comes out always is trading as fast as I can for a playset of each card. A playset is four in this game, with that being the max amount allowed in a constructed deck.

Friends and I joked about where we would be going next in the story as I read the Novel that was released for the set when I did finally get home. Part of the beauty of Magic is that the set pieces can change radically from location to location. An eldritch horror set can be followed by a steampunk one, all from the way the story advances between planes, something I will love touching upon soon. All the guesses aside I do want to thank everyone who did trade with me and helped me get closer to getting a set of the cards I need.

Now with me working the events I got out the shop around five am for the midnight release, midnight the next day and a little later the last. Many of these hours going into trying to get ahead on things with this upcoming weekend being big too. I always have loved the fact that at my job there is something new on the horizon every time you look.

To mitigate the busy weekend I have ahead I am going to pump out the articles and schedule them to post in advance this week. This blog has a lot of relearning attached to it on how to maintain a site. I love to think I will get back and still write something out, but priorities tend to shift and sometimes the minutes slip through your fingers like sand. To be fair when I was home I didn’t want to tear myself away from the book I’m enjoying either and that was a large part of it.

The largest thing about this blog is I don’t want to become known for “calling in sick” and you great readers missing out. I was given a few messages asking if I was doing okay since I missed two and it made me smile even though I had to admit I was just not getting to them. It did push me harder today as work finished and I got my chores out of the way. Doesn’t matter how old you get you still have to clean your laundry and do your dishes. With everything settling and my eyelids already getting heavy I just wanted to get this out there and thank everyone once again.

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The schedule for the rest of this week is as follows.

Tuesday we will be firing up a new motivational post to really get you guys excited for the summer and the week in general.

Wednesday we have a brand new top five that I am excited to talk about. One that many people will chime in on I am sure, but I look forward to hearing opinions.

Thursday we have a tabletop game that I have enjoyed for years and wanted to bring to the table and show all of you. It is colorful, quick, and has an amazing drafting mechanic.

Friday I am popping out a game review even though I usually take this day off to get you guys some extra content for the missed days this last weekend. I wouldn’t be at this point without you guys and I plan to stand and deliver.

Saturday is talking about a few separate things involving comics and books that I’ve wanted to touch on for a few weeks.

Then we will finish strong on Sit Down Sunday with a co-op game you and a loved one have to try out.

I know this page isn’t much yet, but it is growing every single day with all of your help and that is awesome. So Listen up for that Facebook notification when a new post pops and I will excitedly see you all this week.

-Shane

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5 Horror Levels Done Right

Horror in video games can be something that is lost quickly. All it takes is for a moment to feel goofy to really take you out of the element and help you lose the immersion that you found yourself in. These five games that I am talking about today may not have been a scary game or horror all the way throughout, but the managed to really rock it on one level. Now keep in mind many of these were experienced as they came out and may have a different feel if played now as opposed to then. No matter the case let me know what some of the ones you thought were too in the comments.

WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD

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Number One – Timesplitters Future Perfect – Mansion Of Madness

Timesplitters was always a game that brought you to different locals. You may find yourself far in the future, in the past fighting in the jungles, or in this case a haunted mansion in the nineties. The previous two levels of this game had you working with a character much like Austin Powers and had a really light-hearted fun feel to it. That was that about to change.

As soon as you enter this mansion you could tell things were off. The new character to help you out was a teenage girl that was telling you about all the haunted rumors of the house. Sure there are zombies and giant deer corpse creatures, but that wasn’t the spooky part. The children rooms in the house had rocking chairs and quietly sang to you. It was eery because they didn’t have to put much into it to make you feel uneasy, the whole level was a blast and worth a play through on its own.

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Number Two – Half-Life 2 – Ravenholm

When you were told we don’t go to Ravenholm you should have listened. The Half-life games were fun for their oddity about them. From the guns feeling strong and unique to the craziness that was the G-Man, the game had a certain “feel” to it. So when you heard there was a scary level they added in, you had to give it a try. The headcrab infestation that is plaguing this old mining town is horror done right. The first time playing through this for me was on the Orange Box. I had on a pair of great headphones with full surround sound and was into it, the screams the headcrabs had made me wish I wasn’t. Top that with the fact that you didn’t have many good guns at the time and get ready for a level of horror you didn’t expect from the game until you were knee deep in it.

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Number 3 – Halo Combat Evolved – 343 Guilty Spark

The Flood may be known to everyone who hears the Halo name now, but at the time so many of us had no clue. My friends and I didn’t have internet when the game came out and thought it was just cool looking from fighting aliens. My best bud Matt and I had spent the night at a youth group and played the game nonstop throughout and got it soon after to beat the game campaign ourselves. I remember walking through the swamps and thinking how cool all the different locations in the game were. We played on a beach, in a space ship, in an alien control ship and now these swamps, how neat! I was wrong.

The Flood is an enemy that needs to be experienced to understand why they are a horror type enemy. As the ammo runs thin and they continue to sprint at you, your heart races, you ask your friend if they have shotgun ammo left, you run. The flood in lore is such a huge part of this franchise and later on encompasses much more of the games. To bring it all back home you need to start here, you need to fight the enemy that even the Covenant fear and 343 Guilty Spark knows the way. Obviously, he just wants to help.

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Number 4 – Bioshock Infinite – Comstock House

Many people remember playing through the first Bioshock title and enjoying the horror elements it had. The creepy splicers and the Big Daddies stomping around with all that Adam they are guarding you against. Infinite took a different approach, the bright open sky, and sunshine for days. The game has it’s elements here and there like Songbird and effects your rifts soon have, but nothing could prepare you for the Comstock House.

In the element of the game that shows you the worst possible outcome, you learn why you must be there for Elizabeth. You hear the horrors she has to go through and what it ultimately turns her into. The Boys of Silence in this portion of the game reminded me what a scary enemy can mean. The lunatics that are normally docile beings leaping at you like no other when the Boys blare their horn. You want to see a dark future, give this level a play.

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Number 5 – Fallout 3 – Dunwich Building

To be fair I believe any of the fallout titles since three and their own version on the Dunwich Building would have worked. The Dunwich storyline in Fallout follows a strong Lovecraftian horror. In a game that is about Nuclear Apocalypse and how people fair you may think there would be more spooky things. The ghouls may make you jump the first time, but otherwise, the scariest thing is usually if you forgot to save and you die. Dunwich shakes this up with a story of an altar far below the building to Ug-Qualtoth. In normal Fallout fasion, much of what you learn comes from the PC terminals throughout. The descent into madness is a fun read for when you want to feel the horror writing kick in from Bethesda. I personally enjoyed the Dunwich touch in their newest 76 installment the best, but will always remember Fallout 3 for this particular level.

So there you have it, five levels that I believe really kicked you into a horror game. All of these didn’t feel like they would have them until you were there and fighting your way through the masses. I would have loved to save this until near Halloween, but it just kept creeping up into my head to get it typed up. I love games that surprise you with a level that doesn’t fit the mold. Things like how Splatter House reversed you back to 2D at times, it spices it up and keeps each level exciting. Even in the large open world games I always went back to that “level” when I would replay because the lore and flavor were so exciting to experience.

Either way, let me know what you all think. What games shook you up? What ones had a surprise scary level built in? Let me know and I will talk to all of you tomorrow!

Play Games and Be Happy

Shane

 

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Starting The Day With A Win

During college one of the largest games to launch was Halo Reach. So many of us at the college and all over the world would log in each and every day to get our time in on a title that was unlike any of the others that came before it. The gunplay was great, the story was a beauty and the daily challenges made you want to get in there, get that exp, and get ahead. A few of us got to the point that we would wake up and the first thing that we would do in the morning is knock out those few challenges really quick, so we knew even if we didn’t get back on that day, we still got the bonuses.

It started a trend in my gaming that has helped me beat a ton of games but also advance further in my life. The idea behind it is a simple one and something that I see more and more when it comes to morning routines. For many, this task is making your bed when you first get up, but the premise is starting the day out with a win.

When you get to the point that you wake up and get a lot of small things done first you start to build up a certain momentum as you go. The larger more difficult things in your mid-day feel like less when you have already knocked out ten things on your to-do list. For me a lot of how I beat a game is before I go to bed I tell myself, “Just play until you unlock an achievement.” This type of play has kept me progressing through a ton of them and of course if I enjoy the game I just keep playing.

My mornings now when I am on my schedule consist of the little wins like making the bed, a shower, brushing the teeth and drinking lots of water. During this time I also like to load up a few different games as I move around in the morning to get a daily login in bonus of a challenge just from turning the game on. Elder Scrolls Blades gives a daily that I hit quickly every morning, Fortnite is much the same. I also like to turn on Arena, League of Legends and Gears of War 4, just to get the bonuses. Many times I don’t really play through the game during this time, instead reading a book as it loads or listening to a podcast as I grind out a quick match victory.

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It may sound silly to some to make games have these “chores” of a sort, but then when I do want to hop on and really play I have maintained being ahead.

A good friend when I told him of these routines said it made it sound like games are a task now and they are just money grabbing for your attention. All of the things I do for these dailies are again free. So it then goes back to what I mentioned earlier, starting with a win. To help explain some more, you have to understand that I am in no way at all a morning person. When insomnia lets up a bit and I do manage to doze off I am a pain to wake up. The alarm blares and I hit snooze and nothing ever seems to get accomplished.

However, when you hear that alarm and say, “Well let me punch in the daily really quick.” You wake the brain up for a reward, as soon as I log in on Blades and get the free item I am up and moving. Soon it is the bathroom and then back into the room to make my bed, I turn on League and finish up my emails. Quickly my morning that I don’t want to do turns into a productive few hours before I get into work and the money-making side of things.

Days that I know will be hard flash by when I know I already got to enjoy my morning. If I don’t want to exercise I like to do it in between matches of a game. I tell my self twenty push-ups or whatever it may be and then I can play again. If you lose you double it.

The point of this short sweet post is to let you know that you can easily start your day with a win too. Make that bed, read that chapter, or beat that game. Focus on dailies in a video game to implement them into your day to day life and let your hobby work for you.

Remember that winning the day is just a series of decisions you put yourself through, and you can accomplish anything.

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Couch Crashing Fun

I think that it was the fifth time that we had started this level. The tall grass an indicator of the level of difficulty we would soon have thrown at us. The panda bears could throw giant tornados at you after all. Yes you heard me right, and I just as easily could have mentioned giant barbarians, a catfish the size of a house, deers with diarrhea or oh so much more. This game is real and it is Castle Crashers, the Sit Down Sunday game for this week. ,

Although not a recent title to come out it is one that always leaves you with a good smile as you manage to sit down and play with another. The game doesn’t ask for much from you, get in there and save the princesses, that is all. Yes, plural because the king has four daughters after all. So what kind of wacky crazy game is this you may ask?

Well at its core it is a hack and slash adventure. You can allocate skill points into some different things such as how hard you hit, how hard you can get hit, your speed or archery and last your magic. Most are self-explanatory, but magic does change for each character giving you some variety on the characters that you choose. For instance, the Red Knight shoots lighting as to the Green Knight who puffs out a cloud of acid.

The real charm of this game isn’t that it is just another hack and slash or that it is as difficult as the creators previous game Alien Hominid, but the humor. The art is simple and allows for a lot of over the top set pieces that lead you against absolutely insane enemies at times. In a similar game, you may be in a boss battle and fight a large barbarian, not one the size of a catapult, oh and you also fight a giant battering ram now that I mention it. The bosses are quick and sweet and make you laugh the whole way.

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As you and whoever you play with progress you also unlock little animal orbs that follow you around and give you some added bonuses. Like moving through the water faster or the orb may go and pick up coins for you. Plus you unlock more weapons and what game would be complete without that.

When The Behemoth released this game initially in 2008 I played through once, loved it and set it away in my game log as a complete title. Years later I found myself sitting beside others laughing at things that flew over my head at the time and screaming at them when they continued to take all the damn health potions. On top of this, the game has garnered a 10/10 on steam since then, and it isn’t an easy accomplishment to make that many gamers happy.

I believe you can get this title for ten dollars or less these days and if you are simply trying to find a game to play with someone that is less than the price of a single movie ticket in some states. The only downside you may have is that a beatemup title can, of course, get repetitive at times. Anyone who has played through a Gauntlet title knows that after killing the first ten goblins the next thousand really does feel the same. For some, that may be a deal breaker, and for others, that is just more reason to keep playing.

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If you are looking for something with a little more meat on it you may want to hold back and give Diablo 3 a try. A game I want to touch on at a later date, but for the quick arcade fun that this game provides I don’t think you can find a better value. All I ask if you do say yes to this game is you have to give their next title a try as well. Battle Block Theater had me laugh so hard I was in tears the first time, but start out with this title and see why these guys always know how to bring you a good time.

Also remember, the princess kiss is totally worth it.