Paper Mario: The Origami King Could be A Return to Greatness for a Beloved Franchise

It’s July! That means that Paper Mario: The Origami King — the sixth entry in the Paper Mario series — releases later this month. I’ve wanted to break down the extended trailer for a while, and now seems like as good a time as ever.

The Paper Mario series started off hot with epic entries on the N64 and GameCube, but the more recent entries have messed with the traditional RPG formula a little too much and haven’t given fans the same enjoyment. I last experienced the series with the Wii’s Super Paper Mario. That game had some truly great writing, but it was also more of a platformer with RPG elements than a true RPG.

From watching the extended trailer, it looks like The Origami King is a return to form for Paper Mario. There seem to be huge worlds to explore, fun sidekicks to experiment with, and some wacky dialog to keep things interesting. The most intriguing part for me is the ring-based battle system. Players have a limited amount of time to rotate and shift the battlefield around before attacking, and doing so will allow Mario to more efficiently punish his enemies. It’s certainly a creative twist, but I won’t know how well it works until I get my hands on it.

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Pokemon Unite is not what Pokemon Fans were Expecting

The Pokemon Company announced last week that not only was a Pokemon Snap sequel coming to Nintendo Switch, but that even more Pokemon news was on the way. On Wednesday we got to hear what that was all about. It turns out that The Pokemon Company is working with Tencent — a giant Chinese conglomerate that owns Riot Games — on a new Pokemon game called Pokemon Unite.

It’s League of Legends, but with Pokemon! As someone who has never played LoL, I’m nonplussed. This is another example of Pokemon trying to do something that doesn’t feel like Pokemon. Sure, the game lets you catch and evolve popular monsters, but really Pokemon Unite is about taking an already-existing popular game formula and slapping the Pokemon brand on it.

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Dave Portnoy Emerges as a Surprise Mets Minority Ownership Candidate

Is this real life right now? I find myself asking myself that almost every day in 2020. Monday tested my grasp of reality once again as Dave Portnoy was mentioned in Mets ownership rumors as the Wilpons continue their effort to unload the cumbersome franchise.

Both Alex Rodriguez and Mike Repole are reportedly involved in the bid, and both have ties to Barstool. Rodriguez teamed up with Big Cat on a podcast and Repole was a featured panelist on Big Brain, a Barstool web series based on Shark Tank. With Portnoy trading stocks every day and bragging about how much money he’s making, it’s only natural for him to be in rumors as a minority stakeholder, but the really fun part is that Portnoy started the rumors himself.

The combination of Rodriguez, his wife Jennifer Lopez, and Portnoy as a possible ownership group has some Mets fans giddy with excitement. The group would bring not only a passion for baseball, but oodles of money and business savvy. What more could a Mets fan want?

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I Just Don’t Get Shiny Hunting

I’ve been playing Pokemon for more than 20 years and obviously there’s a lot I like about the iconic video game franchise. The battling, the exploring, the wacky NPCs, and of course the awesome variety of Pokemon that have been discovered over the years; all of that’s good stuff. The one thing that’s perplexed me is the demand on streaming platforms for shiny Pokemon hunting.

For those who are new to the game, shiny Pokemon are extremely rare creatures who are differently colored than the rest of their species. For example, the Charizard we’re used to seeing is orange, but the shiny version is charcoal and happens to be extremely cool looking. Other shiny Pokemon have more subtle differences compared to their “normal” counterparts, but all of the shines are hard to come by.

In order to find one you have to go through a lot of random encounters in the wild (often more than 1,000) or hatch a ton of eggs, which is easier for Pokemon that aren’t common in the wild. It’s very time consuming, very monotonous, and for some reason has a huge following on Twitch.

The fun part is when the shiny Pokemon finally appears and the streamer loses their mind, but that often comes after hours of just running in circles on screen and talking with the chat. For engaging personalities, it can work because the streamer doesn’t have to worry about concentrating on gameplay and can put 90 percent of their attention on the chat. Of course, it’s also possible to engage with chat while doing something more exciting in the video game.

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A New Gigantamax Pokemon Has Been Discovered

That’s right. During the Pokemon Players Cup stream today we caught a glimpse of the Gigantamax form of Melmetal and it is looking pretty swole. Thanks to Serebii.net webmaster Joe Merrick for using his Pokemon Snap skills to capture our new steel deity in all its glory.

Damn. I would not want to be on the business end of Double Iron Bash coming from that monstrosity. I might have to finally dig into Pokemon Go and evolve Meltan just so I can one day have my own steel juggernaut with gorilla arms. Although just having a Melmetal is different from having one with Gigantamax capabilities, so maybe we’ll eventually be able to catch one in a raid? I hope so, because I wasn’t a huge Pokemon Go fan even when it was safe to go outside.

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Pokemon Makes Big Announcement: More Pokemon News Next Week!

I’m probably going to be a Pokemon fan for my entire life, but there are times when The Pokemon Company can be frustrating. Today was one of those days, as we expected big news, but all we got as an announcement that the big news will be coming next week, as well as a couple of smaller titles and a Pokemon Snap remake that it seems everyone is hyped for except me.

Maybe it’s because I remember playing the original Pokemon Snap when it came out. It was fun for a little while, but the on-rails gameplay didn’t leave room for exploration and the experience lacked depth. I’m sure the new experience on Nintendo Switch will offer more than the old N64 game did, but from the trailer it looks like the player will be on rails again while throwing apples and other items at photogenic Pokemon. I might end up buying New Pokemon Snap in the future because I’m such a big fan of the franchise, but I can’t say I’m over the moon with this announcement. Plus, there’s no release date yet.

The Pokemon Company also revealed a puzzle game called Pokemon Cafe Mix and a mobile app called Pokemon Smile whose goal is to motivate children to brush their teeth. I’m interested to see how many adults download Pokemon Smile just for themselves. I’m sure it will be booming on Twitch today, as the game is available right away.

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HooliganZ Struggle in Boom.TV Code Red Charity Tournament

Any expansion team is going to experience its share of growing pains, especially one that has thrown itself into the fire like the HooliganZ of Barstool Sports. On Monday evening, Smitty and Glenny Balls took part in Boom.TV’s Code Red charity tournament, competing against some of the titans of the first-person shooter genre.

In the kill-race scoring format, the dynamic duo finished 36 out of 37 teams with just 42 eliminations in four hours. The team in 37th place had 0 eliminations, so I’m not sure they even showed up. Given the steep competition, it would have been rough sledding for Smitty and Balls even if they were on the same page.

Not great! Certainly brighter days are ahead for the HooliganZ, a team that probably needs to fill out some more roster spots with pro-level gamers if they hope to finish at the top of one of these tournament in the future. For now, they are still an expansion team, and that means lots of ups and downs, just like this incredible Balls sequence from earlier in the day.

Make sure you get in on the ground floor, because there’s nowhere for these HooliganZ to go but up.

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Who Won the First HooliganZ Community Gunfight Event?

The HooliganZ at Barstool Sports made history on Sunday afternoon by hosting their first 3 vs. 3 community gunfight. Smitty and Glenny Balls took on Muj and Hank with one fan from the community joining each side. Smitty and Balls got New Jersey resident Broboken while Muj and Hank teamed up with LikeButta.

The matches quickly went south for Smitty’s side, as LikeButta showed off his pro-level skills and Broboken proved to be ordinary by comparison.

Team Smitty ended up losing the first three matches 6-3, 6-0, 6-1 before the General took drastic action in an effort to turn the squad’s fortunes around. Smitty pulled the trigger on a trade that sent his rival Balls to Muj’s side and brought back the phenom LikeButta. Deeming the move necessary for team chemistry issues, Smitty hoped to get along better with the two Stoolies on his side than with the subordinate sidekick.

The deal paid off instantly, with Smitty’s squad rolling off five straight match wins before dropping the ninth match of the series. That would have given Smitty a 5-4 advantage, but the first match after the trade was invalidated due to Hank’s connection dropping. The decisive 10th match saw Muj, Balls, and Hank win 6-4.

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MLB’s New 2020 Proposal Gives us a Little Bit of Hope

Baseball’s inability to come up with a plan for the 2020 season has been a source of growing frustration for fans since the beginning of quarantine, and while there has been news of proposals sent to the players from the owners, nothing has been close to being agreed upon yet.

The biggest bugaboo is that the owners want the players to take even less money than the previously agreed upon prorated salaries. The players remain steadfast that they don’t want to be paid less on a per-game basis. That’s an issue when you consider that the owners probably won’t be taking in any gate money over the rest of the summer even if there is baseball.

Karl Ravech of ESPN reported today on the latest proposal made by the owners.

 

That’s more “generous” than some of the previous offers, but according to baseball insider Jon Heyman, the players still want 100 percent of the prorated pay.

 

One area where there seems to be room for compromise is in the postseason structure. MLB can pretty much do what it wants as far as expanded the postseason, and that’s important because playoff games mean big television money. That money might be able to make up for some of what the owners are losing in gate revenue. If the players agree to an expanded postseason, the extra revenue might allow the owners to get closer to those salaries that the players want. Maybe there’s hope after all.

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Could the Astros Sign-Stealing Scandal be Good for Baseball?

Spring training games are less than a week away, and baseball is still buzzing about the Houston Astros using an illegal center-field camera to steal opponents’ signs during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The punishments to the Astros organization, former manager AJ Hinch, and former general manager Jeff Luhnow were handed down last month, but the spotlight is back on the scandal because of aggrieved players just this week meeting with the media at spring training in Florida and Arizona.

Some of the loudest comments were made by Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Cody Bellinger, whose team lost to Houston in the 2017 World Series. He said that not only were the Dodgers robbed of a fair World Series, but that Jose Altuve stole the American League MVP award from Aaron Judge.

Much of the outrage was directed at the unemotional and insincere-sounding apologies from Astros players as well as the comments made by owner Jim Crane at a press conference. I feel bad for Crane, because he’s had to navigate this scandal as the head of the organization even though I think he had no knowledge of what was going on in the clubhouse. I could be wrong, but if Crane wasn’t in the dugout during games, there’s no reason to believe that anyone kept him up to speed on his team stealing signs illegally.

Just look at what the team’s hitting coach Dave Hudgens had to say about the scandal.

When I first heard about it, it was during a game. The season had been going for a little bit. I don’t remember exact dates or anything, I just remember sitting in the dugout and heard some bangs going on. After it went on for a little while, I asked a player sitting next to me – I can’t remember who it was – ‘What’s the banging going on back there?’ I didn’t know what it was. And he said, ‘Oh, they’re letting him know a breaking ball’s coming,’ or whatever. I said, ‘Wow. OK.’ And so I wish at that point I would’ve gone to A.J. and said, ‘Maybe this isn’t the right thing to do. What do you think?’ But we didn’t. So now we’re dealing with it.

Again, he could be lying, but it sounds like Hudgens, who is in the clubhouse and dugout with the players every day, barely knew what was going on. Why wouldn’t the hitting coach want to know more about what his players were doing to decide which pitches to swing at? Isn’t he burying his head in the sand just to avoid blame? Even if Hudgens knows more than he is letting on, it still leads me to believe that Crane didn’t know much at all.

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