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For the next two weeks, Snackbar Games’ columnists are all mixed up! Serotonin‘s Henry Skey steps in for this installment of Gaming Unplugged.  

I’m not exactly a board game person. Oh sure, I pretended to like Monopoly like everybody else growing up, and we’d roll out some obscure card game at a friend’s house, usually involving multiple languages, ripped cards and missing instruction booklets. The obvious joke of playing a “bored” game came up frequently. I sound like the perfect guest host for a column dedicated to talk about non-electronic games, don’t I?

The truth is, I like board games and card games, but they’re an entirely different kettle of fish from video games. READ MORE

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Drinkbox Studios first released Guacamelee! for the PS3 and Vita last year. It made appearances on two of our Staff Picks lists, but due to circumstances beyond our control, it never got an official Snackbar review. Thankfully, an updated Super Turbo Championship Edition was recently released to all the home consoles, giving us a chance to correct this oversight.

This finely-crafted love letter to both Mexican culture and video games in general is, at its core, a Metroidvania-style adventure with a combat emphasis taken from arcade-y beat-’em-ups. As you progress through the game, you will receive new attacks and other moves that will aid you in exploring the various areas in which the story takes place. As a Metroidvania, there will inevitably be backtracking as your new abilities gain you access to areas that were previously closed off, but most of it is narratively justified until you reach the endgame. READ MORE

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When attempting to recreate historical events in video game form, few actually succeed, often relying on a base understanding of history in order to provide a well-rounded experience appealing to a broader audience. These games seemingly sacrifice accuracy for entertainment and potentially lose something in the process. Ubisoft’s Valiant Hearts is a title that surprised me for a multitude of reasons, but its focus on utilizing historical facts in an otherwise-fictional representation of World War I is what stood out to me the most, creating an experience that felt authentic despite its cartoonish exterior.

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Arc System Works is known, at least in the West, for its anime-style fighting games. With XBlaze Code: Embryo, though, it’s dipping into another side of one of the BlazBlue universe, straying away from intense combat and floating into the gentle waters of the visual novel. Despite the fresh (to us) approach, is XBlaze worth the journey? READ MORE

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In From Pixels to Polygons, we examine classic game franchises that have survived the long transition from the 8- or 16-bit era to the current console generation. This time, Graham Russell and Andrew Passafiume look at Intelligent Systems’ strategy-RPG series, Fire Emblem.

The evolution of the Fire Emblem series has largely been from capability to intention. On the surface, the formula hasn’t changed much; you’re still moving units around top-down square grids and pitting them in menu-based combat. Once you dig below the surface, though, you’ll see that the series has become increasingly defined by how and when it chooses not to progress. READ MORE

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Whether or not you’re a fan of importing games, nothing can really beat playing something in your native language. It’s sometimes hard to know just what is going to make it to the West and what isn’t, though. In the second edition of the Guide’s Localization Radar, we’ll take a look at the likely candidates to get picked up in the near future.

The time since the last Radar has been absolutely full of localization announcements, from the likely (Monster Hunter 4) to the not-so-much (A-Train 3DS). So… what else is out there to make it out of Japan? Oh, don’t worry: plenty.

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The crew gathers for a little Mario Kart 8 action, as well as some game chat! Join Andrew, Henry, Graham, Lucas, Chris Ingersoll and Chris Dominowski for some racing, Shovel Knight discussion, musings on what it means to be American and more!

To watch the show and chat with us live, check out this page every other Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern and follow us on Twitter for special streams.

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I’m not proud that I’ll probably go see the fourth Transformers movie. I could tell myself, “Henry, you’re an adult. You don’t have to go see a movie you don’t want to see.” It’s no use. I’ve seen the first three movies and everybody’s talking about how horrible it is. How dare I deprive myself of such collective misery?

The first movie was fine, in no small part to Steven Spielberg encouraging director Michael Bay to restrict computer-generated imagery and use more practical effects. The fight scenes were fun to watch because you could mostly see what was going on. There’s no accounting for taste, but giant, transforming robots fighting is a genuine treat to watch. But the key factor was perspective; I could see what was going on. READ MORE

progressreportQ22014

While many releases are packed into the last three months of the year, there’s more than enough going on in the rest of the calendar that can be easily forgotten by the holidays. Progress Report is our way of remembering: a quarterly look at the laudable and notable in the games industry. This installment covers April, May and June. Check out the previous installment here. READ MORE

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Laura Kate Dale is a games journalist, co-founder of the website IndieHaven and creator of the upcoming title You Are The Reason. Staff writer Chris Dominowski talked to her about the state of gender diversity in games, how it affects both the fields of games creation and journalism and some games that incorporate gender diversity in thoughtful ways.

Chris Dominowski, Snackbar Games: You have been in games journalism for quite a while, and in that time, you have been pretty prolific in your work. What made you want to get into games journalism, and what inspired you to help start IndieHaven?

Laura Kate Dale: Video games were always something I have had an interest in. At a very young age, I was given a Super NES by my older brother as a birthday present, and there was just something about that as an antisocial child who wasn’t very good with other people. It was a really good place to have adventures and interact with other people — even if they weren’t real. For me, it was just a nice escape, and a way to have some fun even if I wasn’t good with talking with other people. READ MORE