Boxing experience Thrill of the Fight is the toughest game I played, it got my heart rate the highest, and even though the graphics were a bit cheesy I ended up totally immersed. Between rounds of one fight, I nearly sat down on the virtual stool in my corner of the ring.
The hands-on experience begins when you start the app and see the menus explaining how the game works. Instead of pointing your controllers at buttons on the menus (most games have you aim them like laser guns), you walk directly up to the menu screens and touch them with your virtual hands, which are already wearing boxing gloves.
You’re in a small gym with a garage-like feel. A coach stands off to the side, watching you but not speaking. There’s a locker room area, a dummy you can practice punches on, and an elevated boxing ring. Choose an opponent to fight, and suddenly you’re in one corner of the ring with a small crowd gathered around. You throw punches, and try not to get punched. If you do take a hit, the world fades a bit, goes black and white, and you (if you are like me) back away from your opponent for a minute while you try to get your bearings.
I won three rounds against my opponent, but it was exhausting. I hit him when I could, and kept moving toward him, trying to keep the pressure on. I found myself constantly pushing into the far corner of my Guardian, which the game helpfully draws as a red rectangle on the virtual ring’s floor. I needed to punch and punch again and not get punched myself. The audience was watching, my coach judging silently. I didn’t want to fuck this up. I didn’t want to get punched. If you want to get your heart rate up, or just be a little bit terrified for a short interval workout, play Thrill of the Fight.
Players fell in love with Skyrim’s vast landscapes almost ten years ago and many never left—there’s just so much to do and see. It’s also a great introduction to the series and open-world RPGs in general.
While the game’s main quest is good—you’ll slay dragons, travel to the lands of the dead, and get caught up in a brutal civil war—you’re free to play in whatever way you want. There’s just so much to do in this massive open-world RPG: unique landmarks to discover, countless side quests to take on, and ancient artifacts to acquire.
Players create their own unique characters then slowly specialize their abilities as they progress. You can be a lithe Wood Elf assassin, a magic-wielding humanoid cat, or even a nordic cheese collector. You can strike out into the cold mountains in search of vampires, build your own home and virtual family, join the ranks of prestigious guilds, and so much more. That might sound like too much freedom for inexperienced gamers, but don’t let Skyrim’s openness scare you away; it’s actually quite forgiving.
While some old-school RPG fans look askance at Skyrim’s streamlined gameplay systems, they’re perfect for new players: Skills, equipment, and other menus are snappy and easy to use; a quest log tracks your progress; and an onscreen compass highlights objectives and points of interest. There’s also a combat difficulty slider that lets you fine-tune the challenge level and options for playing in first- or third-person perspective.
Available on: Nintendo Switch, PC (Steam, Microsoft Store), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S. (Original version also available on Xbox 360 and PS3)
I’ve tested the global youth-culture internet and the results have come back positive: Everything is looking up this week. We’re even talking about colonizing Venus, which is cool…if not impossible.
This week in TikTok: Brently and Jeffery make new friends
I’m gonna kick off the heartwarming positivity with the story of Brently and Jeffery. These two Canadian kids like movies, comic books, and slush puppies, but they don’t have many other friends. So they turned to TikTok.
“If you live in the Moncton, New Brunswick area or are just generally in New Brunswick, we’d really like to be your friend ‘cause it’s just the two of us right now, you know?” Brently said in a recent video.
The reaction was mixed. Haters said the video was depressing and pathetic. Others said Brently and Jeffery are awesome, and you’d be lucky to hang out with them. But either way, the video went viral, and soon Brently had thousands of new follows and millions of views. So he organized a meet-up, and lots of awesome people came, and they even brought sodie pop! Sometimes the internet isn’t evil at all.
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This week in streaming: I Think You Should Leave season 2 is live
If you haven’t seen Tim Robinson’s I Think You Should Leave, I’m jealous that you get to experience it for the first time. It’s the funniest, smartest show on TV. ITYSL delves deeply into humor-through-cringe with characters whose inability to navigate social norms inevitably leads to public explosions of embarrassment. It’s hilarious; the perfect show for the internet generation. Season one led to the widely shared Hot Dog Guy meme—a man dressed in a hot dog costume vowing to get to the bottom of the mystery of who crashed the weinermobile, a perfect encapsulation of the nightmare of 2020— so get in there and check it out before it’s memefied. It’s on Netflix. And while you’re at it, track down Robinson’s The Detroiters, a criminally under-appreciated show on Comedy Central.
This week in video games: American troops pulling out of Afghani Pokémon gyms
Last week, American and NATO troops pulled out of Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, leaving behind both Afghani civilians facing an uncertain future and some weak ass Pokémon. When it was filled with thousands of young troops, Bagram hosted a thriving Pokémon Go community, with hotly contested gyms defended by only the strongest Pokémon. Now that the troops are gone, there’s no one to battle. Bagram Air Force base’s Pokémon gyms, once home to only the strongest, highest-CP Pokémon are now defended by weaklings.
According to The Stars and Stripes, a piddly little Lotad has defended the Warrior Chapel at Bagram for ten days, and an Aron has been holding down another gym for two weeks. There’s a bright side, though, as John Sutter, a Pokémon playing military man, pointed out. “I’m sure somewhere in Afghanistan, some kid is bragging about how he took control of an American Pokémon gym,” he said.
This week in global pandemics: Kids faking positive COVID tests
Clever British schoolchildren are reportedly falsifying COVID test results to take days off from school. Before it was banned by TikTok, #fakecovidtest was a thriving hashtag with over six million views. It was full of teens suggesting dumping Coca-Cola, lemon juice, and other substances on COVID tests to fake a positive result.
Surprisingly, it looks like the TikTok videos weren’t just trolls: You can, apparently, break a lateral flow COVID test by dousing it in an acidic liquid like lemon juice, but positive results on that test would likely lead to a not-currently-hackable PCR test for confirmation. Plus, it’s just not a good idea.
“We are sure this involves a very small minority of pupils, and that for the most part the tests are used correctly,” Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told Britain’s iNews.
“However, we would urge parents to ensure that tests are not being misused, and we would suggest to pupils who are interested in chemical reactions that the best place to learn about them is in chemistry lessons in school,” he added, Britishly.
Viral Video of the Week: How to terraform Venus
I can’t even figure out how to keep a basil plant alive in my backyard, but the science-based YouTubers at Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell are figuring out how to terraform the planet Venus. The temperature on Venus is hot enough to melt lead, and the atmosphere is made up almost entirely of CO2, so it’s not going to be easy. The plan is to clean up the CO2 from the atmosphere by building mirrors large enough to block all sunlight from the planet, freezing the deadly atmosphere, and then sending the CO2 elsewhere. From there, we’re going to transport huge blocks of liquid water from the moon Europa somehow, then create miniature artificial suns out of space-mirrors in order to… you know what? It’s not going to work. But it’s a fun video anyway. It’s nice to have hope that we’ll have a livable planet in the future.
Lets’a go! Super Mario 3D All-Stars is down to $50 at Walmart today, a familiar price for anyone who grew up playing the games included in the collection. Back in 2002, I remember getting $50 from my mom so I could go to the mall and gleefully pick up a copy of Super Mario Sunshine. Then there was 2007’s Super Mario Galaxy, one of the first games I bought on my own when I went off to college. At the time $50 seemed like a real investment. Seeing that price tag on these classic games is kind of nostalgic, isn’t it? Okay, I’m reaching. It’s a little bizarre that the collection was $60 to begin with, but the price reduction here is a welcome one. Super Mario 3D All-Stars will literally vanish from shelves starting today, so if you’ve been hoping for a discount, this is your last chance.
This deal was originally published by Giovanni Colantonio on 11/26/20 and updated with new information on 03/29/21.
Pokémon is all the rage right now … again. With a franchise this enduring, its popularity never ceases to die down, even after 25 years. It’s not just the cartoon or video games that fans keep coming back to either. Pokémon cards continue to be a weirdly dominant force in the collectibles space, with some old cards still fetching for millions of dollars. For proof of that, head over to YouTube, type in “Pokémon cards,” and you’ll find videos from some of today’s biggest content creators with millions of views. People are lining up in droves just watch someone else collect the darn things.
The craze recently reached a new crescendo thanks to Logan Paul. The controversial YouTube star has made waves as of late with his newfound Pokémon card obsession. Head over to his channel and you’ll find his incredulous face plastered over videos such as “Opening the $200,000 1st Edition Pokémon Box” to the tune of 11 million views. But for Paul, the newfound obsession simply came out of nostalgia for the classic game (and a little insider info).
“I’ve always loved Pokémon,” Paul tells The Inventory. “I collected when I was younger, so when I heard from a friend that the industry was booming, I ran straight back to my old collection to see if I had any cards of value. They were destroyed. So, I turned to eBay and became obsessed with the TCG.”
Paul has turned that hobby into something of a PR spectacle. His most recent project was a collaboration with Goldin Auctions, where he opened 36 first edition Pokémon card packs live on stream. The box contained 12 high-value holographic cards, featuring two Charizards—the holy grail of Pokémon card collecting. In total, the collection of cards is worth $2 million in total.
It may sound impossible that these little pieces of shiny cardboard are still so valuable after two decades, but Goldin Auctions founder Ken Goldin says that the hobby is no joke. Goldin is something of a card collecting guru who started collecting when he was 12 years old. Goldin wasted no time getting to work when the cards came out, partnering with the world’s largest card distributor at the time to grade and sell them.
“If I had all the cards I had graded,” Goldin tells The Inventory, “I probably would have $15 million in Pokémon cards.”
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Pokémon cards haven’t really waned in popularity over the years, which is out of the ordinary for the hobby. While things like Yu-Gi-Oh cards had their 15 minutes of fame, Pokémon continues to endure. Goldin says the only kind of cards that are analogous to Pokemon in terms of popularity are basketball cards. “Legitimately, I would compare a Charizard card to a Michael Jordan card,” says Goldin.
It’s not just a trend driven by one specific country either. While the cards are particularly popular in Asia and North America, Goldin Auction sees high bidding interest coming from Germany and Denmark as well. It’s a universal appeal that speaks to the franchise’s firm position in the pop culture pantheon.
“In many ways, the people who are into Pokémon are like people who are into Batman or Spider-Man,” says Goldin. “There is no age limit. It’s part of people’s childhood, but also it’s an ongoing and everlasting licensed property. You need to look at it in terms of a Marvel or Disney property and not just a card game.”
For the most part, the value isn’t in the individual cards. Instead, collectors have higher ambitions. The ultimate prize is a full set of high-quality first edition cards, which is almost impossible to obtain. Goldin estimates that there are only around 42 possible sets of PSA 10-grade, or perfect condition, first-edition cards in the entire world. Goldin Auctions sold a full set back in January for $686,000. As for the standalone cards, the most valuable one out in the world is probably not one you’d expect: a rare item card called an Illustrator.
“It was a very, very limited edition card … They were never put in packs. I think there’s only 12 of them that exist” Goldin explains. “To give you some sort of value: in a PSA 10 grade, there’s only one. The card would be worth probably well over three million dollars.”
A casual fan would never be able to afford that, but the mythological nature of cards like this is part of the allure. There’s still pure excitement in opening up a pack in hopes that fans will find something rare, whether to complete their own collection or sell it for big bucks. That’s what makes it fun as both a collector and a YouTube spectator who wants to watch from the sideline. Paul himself understands that creators can kill two Pidgeys with one stone through the hobby.
“A friend of mine suggested it would be a great piece of content with so much room for optimization,” he explains. “Feel like a kid again, put on a great show, turn a profit, raise money for charity, and amplify an industry.”
Paul may have gotten into Pokemon cards as an SEO play, but he’s sincerely swept up in the spectacle at this point. Whether you’re collecting cards for the love of the game or clicks, it’s all the same. The ultimate appeal is that they can reduce adult auctioneers and content creators to 6-year old kids who just want nothing more than to find a shiny Charizard.
I have a very bad case of joy-con drift. I’m on my second set of Switch controllers in almost four years and the situation is dire. I can’t play Mario Tennis Aces without Birdo springing off the court in a panic. I’ve been waiting for a chance to replace them for a discount (might as well get some new colors while I’m at it), and the time has finally come. Walmart has joy-con pairs down to $69, which is nice. I’d frankly much rather these controllers not drift in the first place, but considering that Sony’s DualSense is suffering the same fate, it seems like that’s just our new future. We will all be trained to drift a little to the left in our daily lives. You hate to see it.
This week, the kids online are pouring hot wax on their faces, being outraged by Disney, disappointed by Nintendo, and learning what happens to all the dead bodies piling up from COVID-19. So everyone is basically out here having a normal one.
This week in weird food: The internet’s most disgusting recipes
This week in TikTok warnings: Don’t pour molten wax on your face
Moms, hide your scented candles. A barber shop in the Netherlands recently posted a series of TikTok videos of a unique service to its 850,000 followers: Full-face waxing. Patrons of Kapsalon Freedom pay a barber to glob hot wax all over their faces and torsos and then rip it off. I don’t know why either; life is mysterious sometimes.
As you’d expect, medical professionals quickly condemned the practice. “It is clearly not a good idea to cover the whole face with wax,” Dermatologist Dr. Emma Wedgeworth told Yahoo!Sports. “The bottom line is that this is a senseless practice, which has more potential for harm than good and I would not advise it.”
Well, you’re not the boss of me, Dr. Emma Wedgeworth. If I want to pour hot wax all over my face, I’ll do it. I have a candle right here and I’m gonna…My god, why? The burning! Why wasn’t I prevented from doing this?
This week in movies: Cruella trailer
The first trailer for Disney flick Cruella dropped this week, and, shockingly, the more sensitive corners of the internet found something in it to be outraged about. The upcoming crime comedy stars Emma Stone as the titular villain, a fashion maven described as “Brilliant. Bad. A little mad.”
While many internet movie nerds reacted to the trailer by observing that Cruella looks fun, like a stylized black comedy featuring a girl version of Joker, minus the self-serious, 1970s auteur-theory vibe, others were sputtering and popping their monocles from outrage. The calls for boycotts and cancelation stem from Cruella’s unique approach to fashion: The (entirely fictional) character values stylish outwear more than the lives of (pretend) Dalmatian puppies, and some fear this will promote, glamorize, and encourage animal abuse. The movie (which is entirely make-believe) comes out in May.
Viral video of the week: COVID-19 deaths in Los Angeles
This week in video games: Nintendo press event fails to make dreams come true
It had been over a year since Nintendo released a full Nintendo Direct video—COVID has affected everything—so the ever-excitable Nintendo fan coalition were positively giddy with excitement prior to this week’s Nintendo press event.
In keeping with tradition, the actual announcements dashed the hopes of the faithful. It’s not that there isn’t cool Nintendo stuff to look forward to; it’s that there’s not enough and it’s not the cool stuff fans wanted.
Instead of the reveal of a new 3D Mario game, a revival of Pilotwings 64, or in-depth info on the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild, we learned that The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, a classic Wii game, is being ported to the Switch. That’s nice, I guess, but will Breath of the Wild 2 feature Zelda as a playable character?
Other notable not-Breath-of-the-Wild-2-news includes the word that Splatoon 3 is slated to launch in 2022, goofy combat platformer Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout will come out this summer, and Mario Golf: Super Rush comes out in June. Check out the full Nintendo Direct here (even though there’s nothing new about Breath of the Wild 2.)
It seems like every retailer decided to have a massive video game sale this week. Whether you’re looking for physical copies or prefer to download digital versions, we’ve assembled a round-up of the best console games on sale for less than $15 this week. (There are plenty of games on sale for more than $15, too, but we wanted to focus on the best bargains.)
Target: Buy 2 get 1
Target is running a limited Buy 2 Get 1 promotion for several products, including a selection of PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch games. We’ve picked out the best titles for each platform featured in the sale priced under $15, but there are many other games available if you’re looking to spend a bit more. The Buy 2 Get 1 deal is valid in-store and online.
Sony is running two major sales, one for remasters and remakes, and a “Critic’s Choice” promotion on highly-rated recent releases and must-play games. Here’s a round-up of the best PS4 games in both sales under $15 (though we snuck a few more expensive bundles onto the list if they were a particularly good deal.) You can also see all of the current PlayStation Store discounts here.
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On sale through Feb. 10
On sale through Feb. 17
In addition to the numerous discounts you can always find on the Nintendo eShop, there are three unique sales occurring this week in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Here are the best sub-$15 games you can snag in each:
Mega Man Collection sale (ends Feb. 11)
Warner Bros Valentine’s Day sale (ends Feb. 16)
Ubisoft Valentine’s Day sale (ends Feb. 18)
A bunch of Xbox One games are on sale this week, too. Microsoft has special discounts for multiplayer and anime-related games, plus a sale on games from publisher Deep Silver. You can browse all the deals here, but these are our picks for the best games on the Xbox store under $15 right now: