Unpopular Opinion: Who Actually Wants Mobile Games?

Hey gamers!

Another unpopular opinion here for you all. Today’s topic: mobile gaming.

We all know them. They’re on every 12 year old’s iPhone or tablet. Heck, some of you probably have them on your smart device.

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I’m no saint! I have a few myself. I won’t deny it!

But today, I need to talk about the over abundance of them on every mobile app store, and their exhaustive nature and lack of quality.

  1. They. Are. Everywhere. 

    Between posting ads online, television, subway boards, or even on other mobile apps and games, these little games occupy so much space.It’s almost impossible to escape them. Their ads are loud and often are obnoxious. They’re so often the loudest and most annoying five second ads before the video you are watching on YouTube. Worst part is, they hit you again with the same ad, a few videos later.It’s exhausting. Really.I cannot stress this enough. If you don’t feel this way, then you must be either using an ad-blocker on your browser (good idea, folks) or you are oblivious to the world around you.

    THEY’RE EVEN IN MOVIES NOW!

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    Ugh…

  2. They remove the freedom to play, at the expense of the player’s patience and money!

    Do you have a friend who is addicted to Clash of Clans, Game of War, or Candy Crush? Of course you do. Now, ask that friend how much money they’ve spent on the game, to avoid waiting for an in-game cool-down time.Go ahead. Be disappointed in them. And come back to reading this.

    Unlike other console or handheld games, mobile games don’t have the time to invest you into story, or grinding, or farming. Instead they almost prey upon you to spend your hard earned cash, time and time again, to avoid waiting to play or get specific resources.

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    This mechanic is the fundamental principle in the “Free-To-Play, Pay-To-Win” model. And I don’t like it.

    Every time I log into my Google Play account on my phone, I pour a glass to all of the mothers and fathers whose credit cards died for these apps…

  3. They are not fun! Period.

    I’ve gone on record to state how much I love the Pokémon series. I’ve been a fan ever since Pokémon Red and Blue‘s tidal wave of popularity in the 90’s. But damn did I get sick of Pokémon Go fast. It’s such a stale and shallow experience, especially at launch. It was fun to watch a social phenomenon sweep the country, including my small hometown, but it was fun on a sociological and anthropological level.Pokémon_Go_-_screenshot_of_map.png

    I have convinced myself that these games, and their kin, are just “companion” games at best. From Fallout Shelter to Super Mario Run, the games that are often praised as good mobile games, are still companions to their larger and more prestigious counterparts; potentially created to get you to buy and play their larger, more fun and more expensive console and handheld experiences.

    Not to mention, there are so many copy-cat crap games out there, trying to capitalize on the name-brands mentioned above, that they will literally steal a Pokémon game, rip it into a new app, and re-brand it as “Friendly Monster Battles GO” or something.

    Pokemon-China-640x356.jpg

    Shameless.

    Anyway, that’s all this time gamers.

    Keep on gaming, it’s been a slice!

    – Chris Pie

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4 Things Bungie Should Do To Make Destiny 2 Amazing!

As a longtime Destiny player, for better or for worse, I feel as if I have a vested interest in Destiny 2. The new features and concepts that Bungie will implement in their AAA sequel could have major implications on the FPS and console MMORPG markets.

Ever since their Vanilla launch, players have held the cross-platform game to an incredibly high standard, and for good reason. The team behind the original Halo’s were backed with a long term plan and a massive initial budget. Players who have invested hundreds of hours, like myself, have been critical of the game for years, but continue to play it due to the improvements to gameplay and lore, over expansion releases.

With Destiny 2 being teased earlier this week, and a release date of September 8th, 2017, “Guardians” across the globe are in full alert.

Here are X things that can make Destiny 2 amazing!

  1. AN EPIC STORY

    This one has to be the first and highest priority for Bungie. It was the biggest complaint at Destiny’s original launch. Fans were disappointed with the vanilla game’s unexpectedly minimal story, to say the least.They’ve added to the story with the expansions and raids, but the mainline quest felt lackluster in comparison.

    destiny-story1

    For D2, Bungie has stated they have focused on emphasizing the story, and I hope it’s for the better.

  2. EXPANDING THE UNIVERSE

    I mean this in the literal and metaphorical sense.By branching out to more planets, more moons, or even more systems, Destiny has a space-exploration experience, becomes more enriched.

    destiny-planets

    The gameplay is fantastic, and so are the visuals. Bungie needs to capitalize on both of these strengths by letting players fight the darkness in spectacles across the vast depths of space.

  3. ADDING AND KEEPING FEATURES

    When Destiny introduced the Sparrow Racing League, players were given the option to earn loot and have fun in a totally unique playground. Features like the SRL allow gamers to lighten the rooting and grinding load by taking some time off patrolling the planets, to race across them.

    original

    Features like these, and the special holiday/themed events, need to make a return.

    Through introducing challenge modes, players were also allowed to play through old content, with new initiative. This was excellent game design! Keep this going!

  4. IMPROVE THE SINGLE PLAYER EXPERIENCE

    During my early Destiny days, I was playing almost exclusively alone on PS3, working and saving towards a PS4. My friends and then Destiny Clan mates, were already on the new console, and when you have no one to play Destiny with, it can become quite exhausting, and boring.

    What Bungie needs to do, is to add to the single player experience. They added exotic exclusive quests and bounties to the game’s hubs, that allowed players, individual or not, to chase after rewards and loot to diversify the grinding. This is a step in the right direction.

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    Bungie should experiment with previously completed missions, to enhance the way the play; by maybe having a boss run-like mission mode, where you have to race through and score high, via a similar scoring system that the latest strikes use, to qualify for loot or gear. This could really break up the simple patrol and strike basic formula.

    Realistically, we have lots of time before we see more. When the Destiny 2 teaser hit the Internet this past Thursday, guardians got excited. Let’s hope that Bungie is able to deliver on that excitement.

    Until next time gamers, it’s been a slice!

    – Chris Pie

    destiny-1

Nintendo Switch – IMPRESSIONS

When the Nintendo Switch was released on March 3rd, 2017, I eagerly rushed across the city to finally pick up the long awaited console.

Before I do a full audio review, I wanted to share a few initial impressions. Keep in mind that these are my opinions, but opinions that I formed with roughly 150 hours with the unit.

  1. The portability is key!

    Being able to take the console on the go, wherever you want, is the most important aspect behind the Switch. Nintendo was, and still is, relying on getting the unit into the hands of consumers so they can see how it feels. And honestly, it’s sells itself when you try it.

    credit-nintendo

    Having the option to take the game I was playing on the bus with me during my commute to downtown Toronto, is fantastic. The initial teaser trailer they released convinced me that the versatility of the console was the focus, and I’m glad it’s so catered to my lifestyle.

  2. Zelda is the “killer-app”

    Let’s not kid ourselves, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, is the “killer-app”. Aside from the portability, it’s the biggest incentive behind buying the Switch.

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    Sinking hours in Zelda, at home or on the bus, has never been so fun. It’s definitely helping the Switch in terms of financial success and marketability.

  3. The Joy-Cons are…

    Really comfortable! I played a 90% of my time on Zelda with the Joy-Cons separated, and it felt great. I separated the Joy-Cons from the grip so I could rotate the right Joy-Con to a more comfortable position, so that the right-stick wasn’t always directly below the A and B buttons. This made it super easy to navigate the camera in the game.

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    The connectivity issues have been voiced, and I barely had any issues. I could replicate the problem that the left Joy-Con was grilled over, but never did it happen naturally with me.

  4. The Internal Storage IS NOT a deal breaker

    Having only 32GB’s of internal storage, might sound like a draw back to the Switch, but rather, it’s a design obstacle. That may sound confusing but allow me to explain.

    The Switch is able to have expandable storage via micro-SD cards. This is good.
    Is it unfortunate that there isn’t more on-deck for the plethora of digital games incoming? Slightly.

    cartridgeandcardswitch

    Micro-SD cards are relatively affordable in today’s world, but that isn’t a sufficient excuse. People don’t want to buy more stuff to play their games; gamers want it simple.

    The games load directly from the cartridges themselves, which saves the console from having to save and load the games directly from the hard drive. This does drastically improve load times and internal storage.

    Ultimately, the long term game of the Switch is going to be the most interesting thing. What they have planned in terms of software will be what propels the console from being a unique concept, and a gaming mainstay, by my impressions!

    Until next time gamers, it’s been a slice.

    – Chris Pie

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – IMPRESSIONS

So after a mild hiatus, I’m back!

Tl;dr: School is/was insanely busy.

Anyway, I picked up the newest Zelda earlier this month and oh my goodness… Podcast incoming for sure. After nearly 3 weeks, I want to share a few things with you. Keep in mind, I haven’t finished the game’s story upon writing this blog post, but I have invested roughly 120 hours into Link’s newest quest.

Lemme list a few things that I want to note about this game:

  1. This game is BIG!

    The world is huge! Seriously.Coming from a guy who has played Skyrim for more hours than I care to share on this blog, Hyrule this time round is massive.

    And the best part is, it doesn’t feel empty. The world is truly immersive and alive. The NPC’s are colourful and reactive. The

    Don’t believe me? Check it out!

  2. The combat is fluid!

    Disclaimer: I consider myself a seasoned Zelda expert.
    However…

    I wouldn’t be honest with myself if I didn’t say that the formula wasn’t becoming repetitive. The differences between Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess are few, in my opinion. And what Breath of the Wild does is great for the franchise.

    The game meshes exploration and combat; eat your heart out, Egoraptor!

    egorapter

    The game brings back the targeting mechanic from previous 3D Zelda games, but liberates the gamer at the same time. No longer do enemies feel like they’re taking turns attacking you, or you can just spam the same attack to get by. Battle decisions have consequences and timing is everything.

  3. Be prepared!

    On the topic of combat, being prepared no matter where you go is essential in Breath of the Wild. If you don’t have enough arrows or any meals ready when walking into a new area, you might be in for a shock.There are various ways to approach each situation, but always be ready for things to go south. You never know how hard an enemy might hit you, ending your adventure in a blink.

    Always make sure to grill those veggies before hand!

  4. It’s truly an open world.

    There is just no better way of saying it. The world is inviting in nearly every way.You can visit any region, in any order. You can challenge any dungeon, in any order. You can do nearly any side quest, in any order.

    And with Link being able to climb nearly anything, the possibilities are endless. No experience will ever be the same.

Anyway, my scatterbrain still has a lot of game left to process, and I don’t want to spoil anything for any new gamers.

But I just gotta say, this might just be my favourite Zelda game to date. Like ever!

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It’s been a slice guys!

Until next time!

  • Chris Pie

Soundtrack of the Week: Majora’s Mask

What’s up, gamers?

In a little segment I like to call “Soundtrack of the Week” (original, I know), we will be delving into the world of video game music. I usually talk about gameplay, story and graphics so often in blogs and podcasts, I figured it would be borderline criminal to ignore the tones that accompany the video games we love so much. So let me begin this new and exciting segment with a classic!

This week, I want to highlight the music behind one of my favourite games OF ALL TIME! The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is one of the most unique Zelda titles in the series, and its music is no different. Despite displaying the iconic, yet presently dated, electronic tones that it’s Nintendo 64 counterpart produced in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the music of Majora’s Mask is constantly thematic and never disappointing. Each track perfectly captures the tone that the game developers were trying to achieve. To summarize what is a genuinely dark and gritty game within a light-hearted adventure franchise, Majora’s Mask centers around the former Hero of Time, Link, as a child attempting to locate a lost and beloved friend from one of his previous quest. The game sees Link journeying through the Lost Woods only to stumble upon a mask-possessed Skull Kid, who not just disfigures our hero, but holds a small town and the entire world hostage.

Koji Kondo, Composer and Arrangement Director for the game knew just what parameters he was working within, and delivered some of the best pieces of cinematic music to date. He knew just what the developers were envisioning and he wanted to create music that would be a perfect soundtrack to Link’s perilous adventure to save Termina.

The theme of the game was about healing, forgiveness and grief, and the soundtrack embodies those themes. Kondo incorporated various other Zelda music inclusions that would bring joy to fans of the series, while introducing songs that directly affected the plot of the game. Songs like the “Song of Healing” provided restorative relief to those suffering in the games plot.  A good example is when Link finds and rescues a struggling Zora in the Great Bay waters. Mikau, the previously mentioned and injured Zora, explains that he was trying to save his band-mates future offspring from sea-faring pirates, but was mortally wounded while doing so; thus asking Link for mercy and assistance in the form of the “Song of Healing”. In turn,  Mikau’s spirit is put to rest, knowing that he can trust Link with doing what he could not. It’s kind of gruesome if you think about it, but the simple notes within the “Song of Healing” detail just how painful loss and suffering can be.

I could sit here and spit-ball all day about each and every track within the game, and I wont. However, what I will do is briefly detail some of the most notable tracks and explain why they are perfect for the game. Keep in mind, these are all of my opinion, and you are welcome to disagree, like always! (Links included, and puns intended!)

  1. Clock Town (Day 1, 2 and 3)
    I realize I kind of cheated right out of the gate by putting three songs in one, but it’s the same song, just arranged differently depending on the day in which it is being played. It helps to understand that Link is given three (3) days to save the land of Termina before Skull Kid crashes the moon into the earth. So it’s interesting to see Kondo arrange this track to accurately reflect the ever growing desperation that the characters, and the player feel while looking up in the sky at the gloom-and-doom moon. Its when Day 3 arrives, that you realize that you only have so much time left to do what’s needed, before ultimately resetting time, or challenging the powerful Skull Kid yourself. As the stakes increase, so does the tempo of the songs!
    (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0kXVfqPrLs
  2. Final Hours
    This is another piece of music that is heard primarily within the boundaries of Clock Town. Once the third and final day has concluded, the game REALLY, REALLY wants to set the mood by letting  church bells echo throughout the region, only to be met with absolute silence. That deafening silence is what makes this piece so epic, because the player realizes that there isn’t really anyone left in the town, because they’ve all abandoned ship and fled to safety. Essentially, you come face to face with the fact that you are the only thing standing in between the safety of the world, and it’s cruel destruction.
    (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e056R97svz8
  3. Stone Tower Temple
    Talk about eerie… This track from Kondo accurately portrays the life and struggle of the Ikana Canyon. The area is described as the canyon of death, and this song echo’s a chilling sense of mortality. The final, and most difficult dungeon in the entire game has this song playing throughout it’s corridors, and to great effect. The unnerving sounds of the Ocarina as it plays on top of a ritual-like hum, drums and tambourine will quickly send chills down the player’s spine. The song’s bars capture the psyche-testing challenges and puzzles within the dungeon in pure melodic form.
    (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ab60XEyA5OQ)

As I said, I could do this all day, but I want to save a little bit of Majora’s Mask excellence and brilliance for another post! Feel free to comment what you’re favourite Majora’s Mask song is. Hey, I’d even open it up to what your favourite thematic piece of video game music is!

Until next time guys, it’s been a slice!

– Chris Pie

One Gamer’s Perspective: Has the age of turn-based RPGs come and gone?

With the release of Final Fantasy XV (FFXV) this past November, we’ve come to see another evolutionary step within the JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) genre. Japanese role playing games are often very stylized, thus easy to pick out from a crowd; usually having a spiky haired and emotional protagonist with a big sword on an epic quest with a bunch of companions. These tropes of JRPGS are often associated with the core concept of turn-based RPGs. This style of game usually revolves around the player and the game each taking turns attacking, defending, summoning or healing themselves or their teammates.  Final Fantasy used to be the king of turn-based RPGs in the gaming industry’s teenage years, but even the adventure fantasy giant has changed the way they want to play.

Now that we’ve been thoroughly engrossed in three-dimensional gaming, the turn-based style of RPGs have faded in obscurity, to say the least. It wasn’t always this way. The turn-based RPG used to be one of the most popular and celebrated genres in gaming back in the late 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s, when graphics and console horsepower could only handle semi-still animated character sprites and models. Now that gaming has nearly matched a level of pseudo-realism in terms of graphics and appearance, the genre is no longer the force it once was, with RPGs favouring to opt into an action/strategy RPG hybrid. To be fair, I’m not trying to bash on contemporary RPGs for their style and direction. I just want to be able to have my cake, and eat it too!

The platforming genre went through a mild renaissance these past few years with a ton of amazing side-scrolling platformers hitting Wii U and Steam, while also seeing the generation give birth to great 3D platformers across all mediums. Some could say that the platforming genre is right there with the RPGs and arcade-puzzle games that really started the video game resurgence in 1987. My point here is that I recognize that genres and styles evolve and change with gamer interests and new technology, but why can’t there be both? It’s clearly been done before!

Nowadays, I find it difficult to name more than just a few franchises that have and are continuing to invest in the turn-based RPG genre. Some examples include the Persona series, the South Park next-gen games, and the obvious Pokémon series. There are various off-shoots of the original formula, like Fire Emblem, and X-COM where the strategic element is a core principle to the game’s style of play, and Ubisoft’s Child of Light, where over-world action elements are critical.

It seems so long ago that turn-based RPGs used to rule the industry. Games like Chrono Trigger, Xenogear, , Dragon Quest, Paper Mario, Secret of Mana, Golden Sun, Earthbound, Super Mario RPG, were all at one point considered to be masterpieces of their craft and templates for games to come. (Keep in mind I didn’t mention a single Pokémon or Final Fantasy game in that list…)

We have some games now expanding on that genre and adding new things to it, since we have had so many great games to look back at with inspiration, but I was always told that “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. So at what point did we look at the genre and label it ‘broken’? Ultimately, I wanted to ask where all the turn-based RPGs went, but it might not be quite that simple.

Aside from technical advancements, which are certainly a contributing factor in the change of artistic direction with the genre, I believe that at its height, the turn-based RPG’s popularity is what ultimately soiled its future, and not some mortal flaw in particular.  During its hay-day, the genre was so over saturated that there was very little chance for every game to be unique or truly great; gamers saw that there was so many titles on the shelves of their local video store that they couldn’t decipher which games were good and which games were bad. This is just a theory, but wouldn’t that hurt sales for those games in general? I realize that it’s never a good idea to paint with broad strokes in discussions like this, but if you look at any of the games I listed above, you can find a quick turn-around of sequels that followed in the wake of their original success. It wasn’t just knock-offs or market capitalizers that soiled gamers on the genre, but the recognizable staples that we all know today. I truly believe that it isn’t much of a stretch to wonder if the genre got too close to the sun, and had its candle wax wings slowly melt away from the exposure.

As I said earlier, I love the RPG genre as a whole, I really do. If I didn’t I wouldn’t make a post this long detailing a seemingly non-issue. We have so many great games to play and celebrate today, with different ideas and innovations being introduced each time. Today, I can pick from a variety of different games within different sub-genres of the RPG classification. I should be elated! Yet, the greedy gamer in me wants to see a return to form to what made the genre so great in the first place.

Please feel free to let me know in the comments what some of your favourite turn-based RPGs are, or just RPGs in general. I’d love to hear some classic discourse from fellow lovers of the medium! So if you wanna pause your journey with Noctis in FFXV, and dust off your nostalgic buster sword, feel free to join in on the conversation!

Until next time, it’s been a slice!

– Chris Pie

Influences and Inspirations

Hey gamers!

Talking about video games is clearly a passion of mine. I love the industry and how it innovates. I love the games and how they tell stories through gameplay and characters. I even love the players who create and cultivate communities dedicated to their experiences! This love for gaming is truly an organic one, but the passion that drives me to share that love has had it’s fair share of influences.

As an aspiring blogger and podcaster, I’ve been asked who I look towards for inspiration, and I couldn’t be happier to share!

You may look at the following content creators and ask me, why they’re so incredibly different, but that’s what I like! I like variety; different styles and topics can really keep things fresh.

So let’s quickly list them off! (in no particular order)

  1. Around the NFL Podcast
    (http://www.nfl.com/podcasts?series=aroundtheleague-podcast)
  2. Double Toasted
    (http://doubletoasted.com/)
  3. GameXplain
    (https://www.youtube.com/user/GameXplain)
  4. The Phillip Defranco Show
    (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClFSU9_bUb4Rc6OYfTt5SPw)
  5. Game Grumps
    (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9CuvdOVfMPvKCiwdGKL3cQ

I listed so many different content creators, and for good reason. To quickly summarize, it’s important to note that each of the mentioned creators create stuff that particularly intersting to me. Each being so diverse and varying, not one can be solely compared to the other.

The Around the NFL Podcast is a select group of sports writers who catalog the weekly events of the NFL, while featuring different special guests and entertaining their listeners through comedic and engrossing routines. Double Toasted, was created as a crowd-funded initiative by former Spill.com creator and movie critic Korey Coleman. This website was a lovechild of his and his following from his former projects. His comedy and critique behind movies and films, tapped into a voice that I wanted to replicate when it comes to the podcasts. GameXplain is a YouTube channel that focus on popular gaming news and rumors. Not that I have intentions of becoming a rumor mill-like news cast, but I do recognize their approach to discussion and community cultivation that happens surrounding their channel. The Phillip Defranco Show, created by the one and only Phillip Defranco, is one of the longest running vlog channels on YouTube today. He documents worldy news, often without a political bias in hopes of creating a conversation amongst his viewers, both new and old. Lastly, the Game Grumps are one of my favourite comedy-gaming channels on the Internet, solely for their dedication to having fun while playing games and cracking jokes. Their knack for consistency and creativity is unparalleled. Many “Let’s Players” follow in their footsteps in hopes of achieving the same type of impact.

If you ever get a chance, I recommend you check these content creators out, especially if you are interested in what they cover. Ultimately, I know that my influences are specific and different, but that’s what I believe makes my style special. I believe that learning, listening, viewing and reading about these creators has allowed me to create a voice in this new and exciting blog space! I think it’s through exploring what you love, and experimenting with new mediums can one push their

Anyway, until next time!
It’s been a slice!

– Chris Pie

Was Link Dead? Was it a Dream? GT Breaks It Down!

Hey gamers!

Just wanted to share an old video for you all, from the MatPat at GameTheory.

In one of his most viewed videos to date, he asks the audience if Link was actually dead in Majora’s Mask, and if it was all an allegory for death and grief.

Give it a watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7S1SVkysIRw

Until next time guys, it’s been a slice!

  • Chris Pie

 

The NHL eSports League

Hey gamers!

Just wanted to throw a shout out to my bro, Corin and his blog over at sciencefuelingathletes and his piece on the NHL eSports league.

Give it a read, and drop him some likes and follows!

Science Fueling Athletes

In late March the NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman, made a bunch of announcements, including when the NHL will release the expansion player list, and then he talked about his hope for an NHL online eSports league. Now for someone like me, an avid EA Sports NHL player, this is incredible news. What’s even better, is that it’s my favourite game mode, EA Sports Hockey League (EASHL). This announcement came a few weeks after the NBA announced the creation of their very own eSports league on the NBA 2K platform. The NBA 2K league expects to have at least twelve teams, all ran by their respective NBA club.

Bettman is hoping for the eLeague to start by the release of EA Sports NHL 18, which releases in early September. He envisions ten teams coming in, all ran by NHL teams, which means people like me who weren’t good enough to…

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Music You Have to Check Out – Hyrule Castle (The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild)

Hey gamers!

Just wanted to post a link to one of my favourite musical pieces from the newest Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

After nearly 150 hours, finding this song/medley waiting for me at Hyrule Castle was truly epic!

Here’s the link to an extended version, for all of you Zelda Music Study-Nerds: Hyrule Castle – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Music

Until next time gamers, it’s been a slice!

  • Chris Pie