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Gaming New Releases

All 20 ‘Mass Effect’ Companions, Ranked

If you’re like me, you’ve been sinking hours upon hours into the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, which dropped on May 14th. It is one of the most beloved and highly regarded sci-fi gaming franchises out there. While the ending to the original trilogy and the follow-up game, Mass Effect: Andromeda, have divided the fanbase, the games hold a special place in many gamers’ hearts, myself most definitely included. Taking on the role of Commander Shepard, players embark on a galaxy-spanning adventure full of action, drama, comedy, romance, and more.

Having finally just completed the long, arduous mission of saving the Milky Way Galaxy from the villainous and genocidal Reapers, I got to thinking about arguably the most crucial part of the franchise: Your companions. One of the big reasons Mass Effect remains so popular is that fans loved the characters, identified with their struggles, and laughed and cried alongside them.

Bioware achieved something extraordinary with these characters, and even though much of your crew were fictional alien beings, they felt as real as anyone you may encounter in real life. Whether it be the rogue space cop and ultimate bro Garrus Vakarian, the eccentric scientist Mordin Solus, or the academic research turned information broker Liara T’Soni, each of these characters were valuable members of a squad assembled to save the galaxy.With all that being said, some squad-mates were simply better than others, and throughout three games with 20 potential companions, some were bound to be more memorable. Here are all 20 Mass Effect companions, ranked from worst to best.

20. Morinth

Putting Morinth last on the list is sort of cheating since she is an optional squadmate and one that only truly renegade players would choose to join the squad.

Morinth is, well, a serial killer, one whose only mission in life is to seduce and then murder her victims. She is a powerful biotic (Mass Effect‘s version of magic), so she is, hypothetically, a potentially very useful squadmate. Morinth is also the daughter of Samara, another potential squadmate, and Morinth first appears in Samara’s loyalty mission. Players are confronted with a choice: Side with either Samara or Morinth. Most players tend to choose Samara, so at the end of the day, we never truly get to know Morinth but are you really going to choose to side with someone that has no qualms about murdering innocents? I sure hope not.

19. James Vega

James Vega gets a bit of a bad rap in my eyes. Voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr., he’s a new squadmate that gets added to the last game in the trilogy (Bioware has said that he’s supposed to “represent” players that are just starting to play the games), and he doesn’t get much to do in Mass Effect 3 outside of being a space jock.

He’s a soldier through and through but in a game that already has so many other quality characters, it’s just hard to get invested in Vega’s story.

18. Zaeed Massani

Zaeed Massani is a legendary space bounty hunter that is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. He gets shortchanged in these games simply because he was a DLC character in Mass Effect 2 and, much like Vega, sort of feels like he was brushed aside.

He is a gruff guy that’s seen it all and done it all, but when his conversations boil down to non-cutscene interactions, how are we supposed to care about what happens to him?

17. Kaidan Alenko

One of your very first squadmates in Mass Effect, Kaidan, lands with you on Eden Prime in the franchise’s very first mission.

As the game progresses and your squad begins to expand, Kaidan felt less important as a squadmate during my playthroughs.

Put it this way: When the player reaches Virmire and is forced to decide whether Kaidan or Ashley Williams dies, I’ve never had too much of a moral dilemma in siding with Ashley.

16. Jacob Taylor

 Ah, Jacob Taylor.

A character who should have been much more interesting than he ended up being, but I place that more on the writing, and the voice actor, Adam Lazarre-White, has nothing to work with.

He is a human biotic who serves as one of the major players in Cerberus, the human-centric organization that Shepard works for in Mass Effect 2, and, similar to Kaidan Alenko, he’s just a rather bland character.

15. Kasumi Goto

I take no pleasure in ranking Kasumi this low on the list because she suffers from the same problem that Zaeed does: She is a DLC character in Mass Effect 2.

Kasumi, the galaxy’s greatest thief, is an interesting character who, unlike Zaeed, has a great backstory. Her partner in crime, and love interest Keiji, was murdered by arms dealer Donovan Hock and she enlists Shepard’s help to pull a heist to get some of her equipment back.

The mission is a ton of fun and a nice change of pace for the third-person shooter game, which helps Kasumi greatly.

14. Ashley Williams

Ashley Williams, another one of the earliest squadmates available to you and the other potential survivor on Virmire, is an Alliance soldier that believes wholeheartedly in the organization’s mission.

Bemoaned as a “space racist,” Ashley mistrusts the alien crew members on the ship and even goes so far as to say, “I can’t tell the aliens from the animals” at one point. However once, you get a better idea of her backstory (her grandfather was the first human to surrender a garrison to an alien force), her misgivings, while still wrong, become a bit more understandable.

She’s a soldier through and through, but her lack of trust in Shepard throughout the second and third games can make her seem unreasonable.

13. Javik

The last voice of the Protheans.

Javik, another DLC character, should have been included with the main game as his appearance fleshes out a ton of lore in the Mass Effect universe.

The Protheans are a long-extinct race whose beacons help set the stage for the entire saga of Mass Effect. However, Javik was placed into cryostasis for 50,000 years and is awoken by Commander Shepard, and he joins the crew of the Normandy.

He has no time for compassion or mercy and believes that one must be ruthless to survive the Reaper onslaught. When asked by a Paragon Shepard why he is like this and if he has any sense of honor, Javik replies with one of the best quotes in all of Mass Effect: “Stand in the ashes of a trillion dead souls, and ask the ghosts if honor matters. The silence is your answer.”

12. Legion

“Shepard-Commander.”

One of the biggest surprises in Mass Effect 2 was the fact that a Geth, a race of synthetic machines that Shepard had killed thousands of in the original Mass Effect, would be joining your crew. He saves Shepard’s life on board a derelict Reaper and proves his loyalty by helping the commander defeat the Collectors.

His efforts to achieve peace between the Geth and Quarians in the third game help showcase just how far he has come as not just a sentient being but as a friend.

11. EDI

EDI, which stands for  Enhanced Defense Intelligence, is Normandy’s Artificial Intelligence in Mass Effect 2. So she isn’t a physical member of the squad, but once she is unshackled during a Collector attack on the Normandy, her abilities increase dramatically.

In Mass Effect 3, she takes control of the body of a Cerberus operative who had been upgraded with Reaper technology, allowing EDI to take physical form.

This was an enormous criticism of Mass Effect 3, given that the body that EDI was given was highly sexualized for no particular reason (something the entire franchise is guilty of when it comes to its female characters.) However, she is a great character in her own right, and much like Legion learns what it means to be human and, literally, not just a robot.

10. Samara

Samara is an Asari Justicar, think an agent of justice that believes in her code above all else. She is an extremely powerful biotic, and when she is first encountered by Shepard, she is hunting down her daughter, the aforementioned Morinth.

Samara has a tragic history, all of her daughters suffer from the same disorder that drives them to kill, but Morinth is the only one who acts on it. Still, she lives a lonely life moving around the galaxy rooting out evil, forcing her not to hold many attachments.

That is until she meets Commander Shepard and becomes a loyal member of his/her crew.

9. Grunt

An accidental member of the team, Grunt is a cloned Krogan bred in a tank by a rogue Krogan scientist. Shepard initially arrives on the planet looking to recruit said scientist, but upon being ambushed by mercenaries and finding the scientist dead, decides to bring Grunt along.

Grunt is a perfect Krogan soldier who is tough beyond belief and never backs away from a fight. However, he is just a teenager in many ways and is shunned by his species as inferior because he’s a clone.

Shepard helps him defy those odds and shows the galaxy that Grunt is not to be messed with. Grunt is one of the funnier teammates and, if he survives the Mass Effect 2, is found leading the legendary Aralakh Company in its fight against the Reapers in Mass Effect 3.

8. Miranda

Genetically engineered by her villainous father to be perfect in every aspect of her life, Miranda Lawson is Cerberus’ second in command when Shepard first meets her. Though she begins as a cold, calculating, and no-nonsense operative, Miranda gradually opens up to Shepard about her past.

Shepard begins to help Miranda see that Cerberus isn’t what she believes it to be, and by the end of Mass Effect 2, she leaves the organization behind and goes on the run.

Much like some of the other female characters in the franchise, Miranda is hypersexualized to the point that the developers literally edited scenes from Mass Effect 2 when making the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition to cut down on it.

Those issues aside, Miranda is one of the most well-written characters in the game and has one of the best arcs in the whole franchise.

7. Jack

“The psychotic biotic.”

Jack, aka Subject Zero, was kidnapped by Cerberus as a child and experimented on in a secret facility where she was tortured to fully test her capabilities. She broke out of the facility and went on the run where she did anything to survive and was eventually captured and placed in a private prison run by mercenaries.

Shepard arrives to recruit her for the mission against the Collectors, and their relationship gets off to a rocky start, to say the least. Jack butts heads with Miranda, whom she calls a “Cerberus Cheerleader,” and their relationship never truly improves until Mass Effect 3, but only ever so slightly.

Thanks to her efforts to stop the Collectors, Jack takes a job as a teacher at a school for biotics, helping to bring her arc full circle. Much like Miranda, she learns to outgrow her mistakes and move forward, and not let the past define her.

6. Liara T’Soni

The shy academic researcher turned ruthless information broker, Dr. Liara T’Soni, is a fan favorite and a no-brainer to include in my top five. Liara begins the series as someone who is unsure of herself, whose mother is a companion to the first game’s primary villain, Saren.

Caught between family and duty, Liara remains loyal to Shepard and is forced to help kill her mother, who had been brainwashed by the Reapers.

Her experiences with Shepard changed her as a person, causing her to embrace a new role as an information broker on the world of Illium. Shepard helps her take down the Shadow Broker, one of the great forces of the galactic underworld, and Liara assumes the role herself before joining Shepard once again to finally defeat the Reapers.

5. Thane

Thane is a terminally ill assassin that is recruited for one last job: To stop the Collectors. He’s lived a life full of regrets, and it is only through absolution that he ever hopes to find peace. His species, the Drell, can vividly recall every one of their memories. During Thane’s conversations with Shepard, he often breaks away and describes his kills and experiences perfectly.

Before meeting Shepard, Thane had planned to mend his relationship with his estranged son Kolyat, whom Thane had neglected due to his life as an assassin.

Thane survives until the events of Mass Effect 3, provided he hasn’t been killed on the mission to the Collector base, and it is there that he makes one last heroic sacrifice. He prevents Cerberus assassin Kai Lang from killing a member of the Citadel Council. A life full of mistakes and wrongdoing, redeemed in the service of the greater good.

4. Mordin Solus

“I am the very model of a scientist Salarian, I’ve studies species Turian, Asari, and Batarian.”

An alien scientist with a passion for musical theater, who is also able to help you defeat genocidal monsters? That’s just Dr. Mordin Solus.

Inherently funny and eccentric, Mordin is full of memorable lines and quotes, none more so than his rendition of Gilbert and Sullivan.

At the beginning of Mass Effect 2, Mordin is running a clinic on the crime infested world of Omega, where he is attempting to cure a plague that is ravaging the alien population there. He then aids Shepard in defeating the Collectors, and along the way gradually comes to terms with his own past, a member of the Salarian special forces who helped forcibly sterilize the Krogan population.

Now you might think Mordin is a monster based on this description, but (if you follow the Paragon path) he helps to cure the bioweapon that is causing this problem with the Krogan, at the cost of his own life.

“Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong.”

3. Tali Zorah Vas Normandy

“Keelah se’lai”

Tali Zorah, along with Garrus, is the only character who is a squad-mate in all three entries of the Mass Effect franchise and has, arguably, the most significant character arc out of all the characters that join Shepard.

In the first game, she is a scared, young Quarian (think Space nomads forced to live in bio suits), and by the third game, she is an Admiral brokering peace between organic beings and synthetics.

Engineer, strategist, and loyal companion, it is a true testament to the writers of these games that Tali becomes such a fan-favorite character, and you never even see her face (unless you form a romantic relationship with her, and even then it’s only in a picture.)

Her arc is so impactful for players because she, much like all of us, is genuinely experiencing this universe for the first time. The rest of the squad-mates in Mass Effect are all veterans or seasoned spacefarers. Meanwhile, Tali is just getting to know other planets and species, much like us.

2. Urdnot Wrex

Urdnot Wrex is what happens when you take a gruff, old, angry alien and force him to join a crew dedicated to saving the galaxy, one that has done next to nothing for him or his species. In fact, the other species are forcibly sterilizing his kind, slowly killing them off.

However, he commits to Shepard’s cause in Mass Effect, helping the commander stop Saren from unleashing the Reapers upon the galaxy. He’s similar to Garrus in many regards, a guy that has seen it all and done it all, and while he isn’t the nicest guy in the room, he is dedicated to doing the right thing.

He just doesn’t mind killing a few people to get that done.

Wrex is a born leader, and in Mass Effect 2 and 3, we find him leading his species. He wants to cure the sterility plague that is affecting the Krogan at any cost. Wrex also intends to repair the image of the Krogan and how they are seen in the rest of the galaxy. To do so, he adopts more progressive policies and leaves the old ways in the past.

A gruff guy, Wrex is also hilarious, fiercely loyal, and one that would gladly take a bullet for Shepard if asked to do so.

1. Garrus Vakarian

“Not sure if Turian heaven is the same as yours, but if this thing go sideways and we both end up there, meet me at the bar… I’m buying.”

The undisputed GOAT. The best space buddy anyone could ever ask for, the one and only, Garrus Vakarian.

It sounds almost like a cliche, but Garrus is a rogue space cop that doesn’t play by the rules and is the embodiment of “getting things done.” He has no time for rules and regulations that get in the way of his mission and becomes frustrated by bureaucracy, which is a big reason why he joins Shepard’s crew in the first place.

Along with Tali, he is a crew member for all three games and is loyal to Shepard until the very end. He’s funny; he’s deadly in combat, and you know you can always rely on him.

Say it with me, everyone: “There is no Shepard without Vakarian.” 

Categories
Consoles Gaming

Now’s The Time for a New All-Capcom Versus Fighting Game

When the topic of “Best Versus Fighting Games” pops up in a random gaming chat room, everyone and their grandmother revert back to memories of Capcom’s genre-defining efforts. The gorgeous 2D sprites that accompanied games such as Marvel vs. Capcom and Capcom vs. SNK were upheld by amazing gameplay, fan-friendly rosters, and a strong focus on team synergy. In the case of Marvel vs. Capcom, that mind-bending crossover has been at the forefront of team-based fighters. But sadly, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite left a bad taste in many fans’ mouths and was easily upended by the superior 3v3 fighter in Dragon Ball FighterZ.

Hop into a Maximilian_DOOD, IFCYipeS, or jwonggg Twitch stream and you’ll most likely be treated to a batch of fierce Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 matches. Hours-long sessions that feature the sort of battles that go down to the very last piece of health on a character’s health meter still elicits a ton of hype. It’s clear from those streams and the comments circling around fighting game forums that people are clamoring for another Capcom made Versus fighting game. At the time of this writing, Street Fighter V: Champion Edition is the sole Capcom fighter that holds a lot of weight in the current FGC landscape. Now that that game is nearing the end of its long and eventful life cycle, it’s time for Capcom to fulfill a much-requested dream scenario – make a quality 3v3 Versus fighter that features nothing but Capcom characters.

Now mind you – we’ve already gotten two fighting games that are solely dedicated to battling it out among Capcom’s vault of all-star characters. But to be quite honest with you all, the one that actually saw a release was super disappointing. Capcom Fighting Evolution simply felt like a half-hearted attempt at developing a proper all-Capcom fighting game – reused sprites were in heavy abundance, the roster was minuscule compared to the ones seen in other Versus games, and the overall gameplay lacked that certain oomph that its contemporaries thrived on. As for the other game that embraced the “everything Capcom” moniker, it never even saw an official release. Capcom Fighting All-Stars looked somewhat promising and featured some cool characters that garnered a bit of interest. But it ultimately never saw the light of day.

With those two failed attempts behind them and the unfortunate circumstances that kept MVCI from succeeding, it’s time for Capcom to go back to the drawing board and craft an amazing Versus fighter that’s all about them & them only. Just think of all the iconic and lesser-known fighting game franchises the heralded Japanese publisher/developer could bring into that fantasy battle royale:

Street Fighter

Darkstalkers

Rival Schools

Star Gladiator

Power Stone

Red Earth

Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness

Saturday Night Slam Masters

Hell, it’d even be great if Capcom lifted the four original characters from Capcom Fighting All-Stars (D.D., Rook, Ingrid, and Avel) and gave them a platform to truly do big things in this dream fighter. Ingrid certainly has her detractors, but she still deserves a chance to have a go in an all Capcom 3v3 team brawler. Now when we bring up Capcom’s other IPs, there’s a wealth of characters that could also be adopted from them for this game as well:

Resident Evil

Monster Hunter

Strider

Captain Commando

Final Fight

Dead Rising

Onimusha

Devil May Cry

Also, the prospect of Capcom bringing in the more obscure characters from their slept-on IPs into this fighter would be super cool. Gene (God Hand), Sieg Wahrheit (Chaos Legion), and Fou-Lu (Breath of Fire IV) could use a lift from their current state of obscurity. Plus watching the likes Ryu, Morrigan, and Hayato go to war in a hyperactive clash with a team comprised of Leon S. Kennedy, Captain Commando, and Nero sounds incredible, doesn’t it?

Adopting an all-anime art style instead of the comic book look of UMVC3 and sterile presentation of MVCI would be much preferred if this game ever came to fruition. Including the mechanic from MVCI where you could tag in a partner and create your own assists on the fly sounds like it would be tough to incorporate in a 3v3 game of this caliber. But we’d love to see Capcom find a way to make that feature work. Do people really want a full-fledged story mode for an all-Capcom fighting game? Judging by the negative reception to SFV and MVCI’s story mode presentations, we think it’s best if Capcom just adopted a traditional arcade mode ladder that wards players with some cool ending art sequences for their winning efforts. As far as this game’s actual gameplay goes, all it would need to do is retain the frenetic pace of MVC2 and MVC3 to really grab the attention of hardcore players and casual onlookers.

We say all that to say this – there exists a perfect world where Capcom has regained all of its fans’ trust thanks to the double whammy of quality releases in the form of Street Fighter 6 and an all-new Capcom Versus fighting game. And we just want to live in that world.

Categories
Sports Strength

Which American Cities Should Host the 2026 World Cup?

The 2022 World Cup is getting closer to kicking off in Qatar, but plans are also moving forward with the 2026 edition in North America.

Canada, Mexico and the United States will co-host the 2026 World Cup, marking the first time in the tournament’s history that three nations will host the event

Canada and Mexico’s sites have already been set with Edmonton and Toronto north of the border, while Guadalajara, Monterrey and Mexico City will host in Mexico.

Looking back on the 1994 World Cup — the last time the U.S. hosted the tournament — the featured cities for the competition were East Rutherford, NJ (close to New York City), Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington D.C.

Although Chicago is out for the 2026 edition of the tournament by the city’s own choice, the other three cities will likely host multiple matches as some of the biggest markets in the U.S.

Major League Soccer has made tons of progress over the years with its initiatives for clubs to design soccer-specific venues, but for the World Cup we’ll see matches played in American football stadiums due to the demand to watch games.

For Mexico, it will be the second time the Latino nation has hosted the World Cup, while Canada will be doing so for the first time in the country’s history.

Here’s a look at the top 11 American cities that FIFA should select for the 2026 World Cup.

Ranking the American World Cup venues

Host cities

1. New York/New Jersey (MetLife Stadium)

2. Los Angeles (Rose Bowl Stadium or Inglewood)

3. Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field)

4. Miami (Hard Rock Stadium)

5. Seattle (Lumen Field)

6. Atlanta (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)

7. San Francisco/Bay Area (Levi’s Stadium)

8. Dallas (AT&T Stadium)

9. Denver (Mile High)

10. Boston (Gillette Stadium) 

11. Washington, D.C. (FedEx Field)

On the bubble

12. Nashville (Nissan Stadium)

13. Houston (NRG Stadium) Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium)

14. Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium) 

15. Houston (NRG Stadium) 

16. Orlando (Camping World Stadium)

Categories
Gaming Interviews

ONE37pm Speaks With TSM VP of Apparel Erik Marino

It’s only been a little over a month since TSM VP of Apparel Erik Marino joined the company, but like everything else in his career so far, his first release with the brand was an instant success. Selling out within the first hour, the TSM: Core collection is the first core program of their sportswear staples, and while TSM has offered merchandise before, it has never been at this level. This collection is centered around the organization’s iconic logo, taking a clean approach in its monochromatic palette, incorporating raised embroideries, wax prints, and rubberized appliques ranging from fleece, tees, headwear, varsity jacket and bomber jackets.

TSM
 TSM: Core Launch

TSM continues to skyrocket as one of the most valuable esports organizations in the world, and Marino, who is the former Executive Creative Director of FaZe Clan, brings nearly two decades of experience developing high-level brands in streetwear. 

Marino has also previously partnered with hip hop legends Wu-Tang Clan, and was the co-founder of the internationally known music lifestyle brand Rocksmith, based in NYC and Tokyo. As mentioned earlier, the TSM: Core Collection sold out within the first hour of its release, and we got a chance to speak with Marino following the drop to ask him about this collection, and what he has up his sleeve for TSM Apparel in the coming months.

ONE37pm: First of all congratulations on TSM Core selling out within the first hour! What was it about TSM FTX that attracted you to your role as VP of Apparel? It’s only been a little over a month!

Marino: Thank you. The reaction from TSM FTX fans was incredible! I joined TSM FTX because it’s a very prestigious org in esports that is globally respected. After my conversations with Walter Wang it felt like a good fit and an opportunity along with the creative freedom to build a true lifestyle and apparel component for the Org. PLUS- buyers will be able to use FTX PAY to purchase their merchandise on the TSM website with cryptocurrency – and receive 15% off if they do. 

ONE37pm: You have an extensive resume with a long list of notable clients, how has your TSM experience been different thus far?

Marino: Well, it’s just the beginning. I like that the Org is really focused on esports and winning, as opposed to companies that are fashion driven. This is refreshing to me as I have lived on the fashion industry calendar both for clients and with my own brands like Rocksmith NYC in the past.

TSM
TSM: Core Editorial

ONE37pm: What all went into designing this collection?

Marino: Really it was an objective to make a stylish but very core collection for our fans and players. This collection done in black and white, our team colors, is meant to be staple everyday wear items. We will be restocking in a matter of weeks and make this group readily available. Stay tuned for more collection drops and special projects!

ONE37pm: Obviously the demand is super high. Will there be another release of this specific capsule?

Marino: Yes, the Core collection will be restocked. Some items like tees have already been restocked, and we offer a custom jersey option that is always available.

TSM
TSM Apparel Editorial

ONE37pm: Last but not least, what do you guys have in store for the near future?

Marino: We have plans to really build out TSM as an esports lifestyle brand by way of Apparel, home goods and gaming related products. We will be doing projects in collaboration, as well as expanding categories internally, with the goal to have fun in the process!

Be sure to keep up with all of TSM’s latest apparel releases via the official TSM Store

Categories
eSports Gaming

Inside The Screen With XSET Vrax

This week’s edition of Inside The Screen hosted by Aaron “Don” Dukes was another special show that featured guest XSET Vrax. Vrax is a sixteen-year-old content creator for XSET, with a whopping 2.8 million followers across TikTok and Twitch. Joining Don for a game of Minecraft, the two had an hour-long conversation that covered a variety of topics including: Vrax’s gaming journey, his passions outside of gaming, and what he has been up to lately. The two kick start their conversation building a house on Minecraft, which Vrax playfully admits isn’t his strong suit. As they build, Don asks the content dynamo how his summer has been.

“Things are good! It’s summer so we’re having a good time,” he tells Don before they dive into Vrax’s early gaming days. “I’m sixteen, but when I started content creation I had just turned thirteen. I was streaming, doing content, and things started to take off when I started TikTok right after turning sixteen. Don then asks Vrax who and what inspired him to become a content creator.

“For me, it was about seeing content in general. I have a twin brother, and we are big on creating content. That is one thing that we have always been able to bond over, and that is probably why it sat so well with me. I never really saw myself actually doing content to be honest. I thought that this was an exclusive thing, and it was only for those who were already in. Obviously I was wrong!”

Noting that a lot of people think gaming and creating content is “easy,” Don mentions the amount of time gamers have to put into being successful at their craft, a point Vrax definitely co-signs. “It’s definitely far from easy, especially having an audience. My story of growing my audience is a lot different than others. I would have my demotivating days, and days where I felt like nothing was going to come out of this. After three years, my Twitch was still sitting around 4,000 followers from just streaming for fun. Obviously things picked up for me after TikTok finally happened, and that was a huge factor. I learned very quickly that this wasn’t a joking matter, and if content was something that I wanted to pursue, there would be a lot of time, energy, and effort going into it.”

Continuing to build his house, Vrax elaborates on his point of just how much work a content creation career takes. “You don’t just wake up one day with everything. It’s weird when I say that now because that is kind of what happened when I started TikTok, but for the most part whenever somebody starts off they have to start from zero. Even the people we look up to now all came from zero as well. Nobody ever realizes that because they are famous, but that’s not true! When you look back on content creation from a couple years ago, you’ll realize that a lot of these guys had nothing back then.”

Don and Vrax had a great conversation, and you can catch the rest above. Be sure to follow them both on Instagram. 

 

Categories
Culture Music

The History of Breakdancing and a Conversation With Red Bull Breakers

New York City. The city of dreams—the city of talent. A place where some of the finest musical acts, legends, and prodigies have originated. If you have ever had the pleasure of living in or even visiting New York, then you are already well aware of the musical gifts that surround the Big Apple. It’s not uncommon for music to be blaring from cars, apartments, and bodegas, and it’s certainly not uncommon to see people dancing (even in the streets and subways). One of the most common forms of artistic expression to emerge from the city that truly never sleeps is breakdancing. Through the years we’ve seen breaking take on different names and forms mostly depending on which region you are in.

Getty Images

On the East Coast, the common term was “breakdancing,” whereas on the West Coast you may have heard “Pop Locking” or “Krumping.” Nowadays, the art form is referred to simply as “breaking,” and through the decades, we’ve seen the style evolve along with music and popular culture. Now “breaking” is elevating to an even higher level.

We’ve always heard the term “dancers are athletes,” and they truly are in every since the word. It takes a tremendous amount of skill and discipline to be an elite dancer, and oftentimes dancers use the same energy and muscles as athletes in other sports.

Think about it—from a breakdancing perspective, dancers often incorporate gymnastics (I.E. flipping), karate, or even Capoeira into their routines, along with heavy cardio, and bodyweight training (for example when they do headstands). So, this next step of breaking being recognized as an Olympic Sport was a long time coming.

Red Bull
Vixxx

Officially announced in December 2020, breaking will make its formal debut at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, and to understand how we got to this moment, we have to rewind all the way back to the late 1960s and early 1970s.

When looking at vintage tapes of dancers from that time period, you can literally feel the magic from that era. Music as a whole was transitioning from the Motown sound that had pretty much dominated the entirety of the 1960s into the Funk and Disco sound that defined the 1970s (think Kool & The Gang’s “Hollywood Swinging.”)

In that aspect, the timing was perfect as breaking matched the heavy beats and live instrumentation that accompanied songs from the 1970s (which ultimately paved the way for the rap and hip hop beats that followed a decade later.)

As hip-hop continued to evolve, so did breaking, and we have consistently seen breakdancing go through many different variations in the last five decades. In the 1980s, breaking began to take on the pop-locking form as the music transitioned into heavily synthesized disco beats. The street dancing, Soul Train lines, and freestyles from the 1970s carried over into the earlier part of the 1980s, and it was a fun era where people expressed themselves creatively through dance and music. Of course, as the 80s progressed, we saw the emergence of hip-hop as a musical genre.

When looking back at the history of hip-hop, it’s important to understand that it was around long before its official “introduction,” as there was definitely an underground movement happening before it went “mainstream.” From a popular culture standpoint, however, “Rapper’s Delight” is culturally recognized as being the first hip-hop song. Gone were the days of “disco,” and hip-hop emerged as the defining musical genre for breaking with its heavier beats (which we now refer to as “hard”), and transitions.

New rappers such as LL Cool J burst onto the scene (think “Jingling Baby”), and new breakdancing styles were formed by the many different B-Boys and B-Girls such as Mighty Zulu Kings and the Lady Rockers, who told their stories and life experiences through their passionate dancing. 

Now, this is where it starts to get interesting. For all of the breakdancing in the 1970s and 1980s, mainstream coverage of breaking slowed down considerably in the 1990s. Here are a possible few reasons as to why—for starters, the late 80s and early 90s brought in the New Jack Swing era.

New Jack Swing is hard to express verbally because it’s a specific sound that you instantly recognize (songs like “Motownphilly” by Boyz II Men are good examples), and while breaking moves like the running man, splits, etc. were incorporated into routines, the early 1990s mostly had its own style. The same could also be said for the 90s era of rap as well. Moves like the c-walk were introduced and later heavily incorporated into early 2000s breaking, and rap music became “harder” to dance in terms of a breakdancing perspective.

That largely remained the case until the early 2000s when breaking saw a resurgence. Again, that coincides with the musical change and style of rap and hip-hop. In the 90s, hip-hop was “darker,” but as breaking legend and Red Bull BC One judge Ericka “Baby Girl” Martinez points out, breaking never went away.

Sean Millea
Ericka “Baby Girl” Martinez Speaks With ONE37pm’s Jael Rucker

“For me, I feel like the 1990s was a golden era. I think there was a lot in the community of B-Boys and B-Girls within that time period. I remember being at events that were huge. There was a transition as we started getting closer to the 2000s, where it started to die down a little bit. I was really lucky enough to see Yo! MTV Raps, and all of the music videos. I saw Lady Champ when I was young, and she has since become a friend of mine. I think back then, it was huge, but we didn’t have as many platforms to showcase it.”

And while it may not have been as popular in the United States at times, that popularity never waned abroad, says Neguin, another breaking legend who judged Red Bull’s Red Bull BC One New York Cypher over the weekend.

Red Bull
Neguin

“Maybe some places like New York weren’t as big at the time, but places like Brazil and Korea were booming. I’m lucky enough to travel the world and see how much it has evolved over the years. For me, hip-hop is going to always be alive. Some might say people weren’t dancing as much, but it was always around.”

So, now we’re in the 2000s, a time period where at least from a mainstream standpoint, breaking began to experience a resurgence. We saw classic moves like the Harlem Shake and crip walk making a comeback, to go along with the popular early 2000s rap classics that we all know and love, but as B-Girl Sunny points out, breaking has continued to remain a staple through the remainder of the 2000s. Sunny herself was introduced to breaking in the mid-2000s, making her official debut in 2008.

Red Bull
B-Girl Sunny

“Funny enough, the interview was kind of new, and my brother showed me a clip of some B-Boy’s doing airflares. I remember thinking it was kind of “cool,” but I was a gymnast, so I also didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I didn’t think anything of it. When I went to college in Philly, I saw some people dancing late at night, and they invited me to a popping class. I was terrible at it, but they suggested different tips since I was a gymnast. I was basically addicted after that.”

So there you have it. The legends themselves say that breakdancing has always been here, and always will be. That was evident this past Saturday at the Red Bull BC One New York Cypher, where the B-Boys and B-Girls competed in a showdown to determine the finalists for the upcoming U.S. Red Bull BC One National Finals in Orlando. 

Red Bull
Bgirl Marta

The event was hosted by Nemesis and b-girl Trinity, and Judges included Kid Gylde, Red Bull BC One All-Star Neguin, and the 2020 Red Bull BC One World Final contestant, b-girl Sunny

Red Bull
Bboy Frankie

The Red Bull BC One competition continues this weekend in Los Angeles, with additional regional qualifiers to follow in Boston and Houston before the U.S. Red Bull BC One National Finals, which take place in Orlando. One b-boy and one b-girl will represent the U.S. at the Red Bull BC One World Finals taking place in Gdańsk, Poland, on November 5 to 6. 

Categories
Art NFT

Don’t Own a Superman First Edition? Grab a Stan Lee NFT

It cost just 10 cents when it came out in 1938. It sold in April this year for $3.25 million. The mint condition comic book, found in a pile of 1930s movie magazines, was just one of 100 issues of Action Comics#1 known to have survived. The comic includes the first appearance of Superman and explains the superhero’s origins. The sale netted its owner a cool million dollars profit just three years after they’d bought it. 

Comic book investing is well-established. Anyone with a box of old magazines gathering dust in the attic hopes that buried in there somewhere is a mint condition of the first Batman story or the initial appearance of Spider-Man. But as comics migrate to the online world, those opportunities have become rarer. You can’t put a downloaded first edition on Comixology up for auction, no matter how quickly you grabbed it or how well you’ve kept it.

Some collectors hoping to turn their comic book appreciation into profit are now looking to digital solutions to monetize their digital habits. 

A new auction of Stan Lee NFTs is showing the way.

https://mintable.app/stanleelegacy

The auction of the Stan Lee Legacy Collection, held by NFT marketplace Mintable, includes fine art, pop art and NFTs. Lee chose the works with painter Rob Prior over a period of two years, and signed each of the images. Buyers will be able to purchase both the 1/1 original, massive paintings and their digital tokens. 

The paintings have titles such as “The Infinity Gauntlet”, “Introducing Stan Lee: Master of Magic”, and “I Am Iron Man”. Stan Lee appears in all of them: wielding the Infinity Gauntlet; dressed as Sorcerer Supreme; taking off Iron Man’s helmet. Lee’s request to be painted on to the covers of his creations is a nod to his love of his own cameo appearances in the Marvel films. 

https://mintable.app/stanleelegacy
STUDIOPRIOR

The auction also includes art by Stan Lee’s friend, photographer and producer Jonathan Bolerjack. The sale will take place on August 6, and a portion of the proceeds will go to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library which supports childhood literacy. An hour before it begins, a fourth Stan Lee painting will be revealed during a special livestream of the Bad Crypto Podcast. It really will be unique.

Buyers who participate in the auction will be able to pick up a number of benefits. They’ll be purchasing attractive artworks by two well-known artists, both of whom were close to Stan Lee, the leading figure in American comics. Prior has worked for brands including Marvel, D.C. and Image Comics, as well as on Star Wars: The Force AwakensTerminatorDeep Space 9 and Game of Thrones. Each year he paints in front of an audience of more than 250,000. 

They’ll also be buying images of Stan Lee himself. In addition to the inclusion of Prior’s paintings, Bolerjack will be contributing photographs and videos of Stan Lee’s private moments. The founder of Marvel Comics has become an icon since he started making cameos in movies of his superheroes. Buyers will be able to own a unique, signed image of him, and photos of him in his last years. 

But they’ll also be able to make an investment that they can keep and transfer digitally. Each NFT links to one of the images, ensuring that for the first time, comic book fans will be able to own both an endorsed Stan Lee work and sell a digital version. It’s a watershed moment for NFTs, art and pop culture.

Few people had a better vision of the future than Stan Lee. Mintable’s Stan Lee Legacy Collection auction brings a future even he didn’t foresee.

Categories
Sports Strength

Four Players to Watch in the 2021 NBA Draft

Like the front page of a newspaper (remember those?), the NBA Draft packs the most important action at the top. Broadly speaking, the expected value and importance of a pick declines as the draft recedes into its later stage—if a player is chosen with the 24th pick, there’s a reason that 23 players were selected ahead of him.

Still, what makes this year’s edition so fascinating is its relative flatness. Sure, the likes of Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley are considered franchise-changing players, but there’s surprisingly little difference this year between the eighth and 38th picks. More than perhaps any other year, teams will have to navigate a minefield of hidden sleepers and busts, hoping that they can provide an environment where players can actualize their potential. Below, the best draft picks to keep an eye on—after the jump.

Usman Garuba

Across all sports, chicks dig the long ball. As such, Usman Garuba’s game is remarkably unsexy. Although the 19-year-old forward is a defensive genius, Garuba has been largely unappreciated because his offensive skillset doesn’t really exist in any practical sense; he has shown flickers of three-point shooting and short-roll passing during his time with Real Madrid (arguably the best team outside of the NBA), but those are largely theoretical for now.

Still, Garuba is undoubtedly worth a lottery pick because he’s the best defensive prospect in this year’s draft and just about any other year’s too. Standing 6’8” with a 7’2 wingspan, Garuba plays with a coiled, focused aggression, rotating so quickly, it’s as though he materialized from the ether to contest a shot or corral a drive. He’s the rare teenager who plays defense on both an intellectual and physical level—most players with his positional intelligence developed it as a way to compensate for athletic shortcomings; most big men with his quickness and explosiveness don’t need to develop his foresight. Thanks to his defensive excellence, Garuba has been a productive pro player in Europe for the last three seasons and will be an even more successful one in America for the next decade. 

Jalen Johnson

According to a certain crotchety class of the college basketball intelligentsia, Jalen Johnson is evidence of everything that’s wrong with kids these days: after only 13 games at Duke, he abandoned his teammates and Coach K to pursue personal glory. Plus, he was expelled from IMG Academy in January of his senior year of high school. To detractors, he’s selfish, a quitter, a bad egg. Really, he’s none of those things—he left IMG because he was allegedly caught smoking weed (the horror) and he left a very bad Duke team so he could rehab a foot injury and prepare for the draft.

Unfortunately, this nonsense has eclipsed the one undeniable truth about Johnson: he’s a stupendous player. In terms of pure talent, he’s conservatively one of the seven best prospects in this class, even if his draft position reflects otherwise. He’s a big, powerful athlete who can dominate the rim on both sides of the floor; he’s dynamic in transition, creating quick, easy offense; he dribbles and passes with grace that belies his size. Aside from a wonky jump shot and a defensive intensity that fluctuates like cryptocurrency, Johnson is what a modern power forward should be. 

Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland

If, like figure skating, basketball awarded extra points for degrees of difficulty, “Bones” Hyland would be one of the greatest scorers alive. Instead, he’ll have to settle for just being one of the best scorers in this draft class. A 6’3” guard from VCU, Hyland is the draft’s best and most daring shooter, averaging 19.5 points and making 37 percent of his eight three-point attempts per game during his sophomore season. While he doesn’t have the highest three-point percentage, Hyland is unique in that he can maintain remarkable accuracy even on a hearty helping of astoundingly hard unassisted attempts—it’s one thing to drain open looks when you’re standing still in the corner and another thing entirely to splash contested shots off the dribble from so far away that even your defender daps you up.

Accordingly, it’s hard to imagine any scenario where Hyland isn’t at least a useful player, even if he cannot overcome his weaknesses; he may never put on enough weight to become a true deterrent to burlier guards or muster the required playmaking oomph to be a full-time point guard in the NBA, but his elite, versatile shooting at once guarantees a high baseline level of goodness while also heralding the possibility of future stardom. But aside from any hazy armchair augury of how his talents will translate to the next level, Hyland is ultimately a prospect to watch out for simply because he’s so much fun to watch. 

Vrenz Bleijenbergh

Okay, let’s get weird with it. Vrenz Bleijenbergh is a Belgian 6’11″ point guard/shooting guard/small forward/power forward/center who plays like he learned to play basketball from YouTube mixtapes. Conventional wisdom says that 6’11″ players aren’t supposed to toss 30-foot lobs with one hand or dribble between the legs for a stepback three; Bleijenbergh laughs in conventional wisdom’s face.

Playing for the Antwerp Giants in last year’s EuroCup (basketball’s equivalent to soccer’s Europa League), he averaged 9.4 points (on 7.6 shots), 3.1 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game, demonstrating that he’s a legitimate player and not some freakshow novelty act. Despite his rare and obvious talents, though, he hasn’t gained much traction in mainstream draft coverage—ESPN projects him to go undrafted and other prominent mock drafts have him no higher than 48th. Granted, there are genuine mechanical concerns—namely that he looks like Flat Stanley and he’s so tall that his dribble is high enough for a medium-sized child to comfortably walk under—but, like, come on: what he’s doing is almost without precedent. It’s a mystery whether Bleijenbergh’s mind-expanding psychedelic stylings are compatible with NBA stardom or even NBA mediocrity, but either way, investing in him is a trip worth taking.   

Categories
Consoles Gaming

The 23 Best Anime Games on Switch

After spending an obscene amount of time binge-watching a whole season of your favorite anime, chances are you’ll want to play out that show’s epic adventures yourself. And doing so usually becomes a reality when you do it in video game form. Many of the most popular anime properties known far and wide have their own quality video game adaptations. You can get embroiled in some fast-paced arena fighters, go adventuring & vanquish foes in a turn-based/action RPG, and even destroy hundreds of foes within a Musou beat ‘em up. Besides the anime shows you watch, there are games out there that adopt the Japanese medium’s signature art style to attract anime fans. If you own a Nintendo Switch and want to scratch that anime game itch, then the 23 following games are worth their weight in gold (Golden Frieza FTW!).

1. ‘One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4’

The One Piece: Pirate Warriors series has steadily been expanding since its grand debut. And with the latest entry, it ends up offering the best installment of anime-based Musour brawls to date. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 features an original storyline of its own, plus it lets fans play out the biggest moments from the anime/manga’s memorable story arcs. The number of playable characters you can take into battle is massive, which means you have the opportunity to clear out battlefields full of rival pirates with all their amazing signature abilities.

2. ‘Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy’

Anime arena fighters are a dime a dozen these days. But if you’re looking for the best-looking and mechanically sound games within the popular sub-genre, then look no further than the Ultimate Ninja Storm series. This compilation brings together the first three entries in the series. If you’re in the mood for some wonderfully animated ninja-themed struggles and jaw-dropping boss encounters, then make sure you give this Naruto fighting game collection a shot.

3. ‘Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 Road To Boruto’

Once you’ve made your way through the story modes for the first three Ultimate Ninja Storm games, it’s only right that you see it through to its full completion with the fourth and final game in the series. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 Road to Boruto lets you play out the final events of the Naruto Shippuden story arc and even enjoy the early missions tied to Naruto’s son Boruto. And as always, the team-based ninja combat is as fun as ever and refined to near perfection.

4. ‘Dragon Ball FighterZ’

This is THE greatest Dragon Ball fighting game (and Dragon Ball game period!) of all time. Arc System Works are master architects when it comes to putting together a beautifully animated and mechanically solid anime fighter. With the iconic roster of Dragon Ball FighterZ mashed up with those two factors, you just can’t go wrong with it. The 3v3 team battles that take place in this game are the definition of hype as beams are thrown, air combos are dished out, and cinematic finishers come into play.

5. ‘Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2’

Creating your own superpowered Dragon Ball warrior ended up being a smashing success in the first Dragon Ball Xenoverse. The sequel magnifies that addictive game concept by adding new character class transformations, a larger hub world to explore, an ever-expanding roster to use, more special moves to attach to your custom character, etc. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is jam-packed with things to do and people to see/battle/team up with. You’re going to love saving the universe as an all-powerful Time Patroller in this one.

6. ‘Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot + A New Power Awakens Set’

If you’ve played Dragon Ball Z: Sagas, then you know just how disappointing that game ended up being. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is a fully realized version of that action RPG that adapts the entirety of the anime’s sagas in playable form. You can dish out defeat to baddies such as Frieza, Cell, Majin Buu, and even some movie villains such as Goku and the Z Fighters squad. This game’s incredible battles play out just like the ones from the show – Ki blasts, energy beams, and flashy martial arts techniques come into play. And simply flying through the game’s massive open world is a simple joy you have to experience for yourself.

7. ‘Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Complete Edition’

Sure, you already have the Pokémon RPGs to enjoy on your Switch. But if you’re open to enjoying a game that features a different pair of creatures that fight by your side, then this Digimon game compilation is worth a look. Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Complete Edition lets you explore the real world and digital world as you try to get to the bottom of a crazy caper. And in order to solve that cyber mystery, you’ll have to rely on the abilities of your chosen Digimon and engage in turn-based skirmishes against other users, wild monsters, and even internet viruses.

8. ‘Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Pack’

This two-pack is an essential pickup for anime fighting game aficionados. The Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Edition comes with the very first game in the franchise, plus it offers one of the best entries in the series in the form of Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R. So not only do you get to see how the game played at the very start, you’ll get to enjoy one of the most polished and tournament ready entries in the long-running series.

9. ‘Fairy Tail’

You’d be forgiven for thinking this Fairy Tail game was nothing more than a cheap cash-in title that offers nothing but fan service. But you’d be wrong. This JRPG offers a clever twist on combat that emphasizes proper spacing and elemental weaknesses. The massive amount of guild warriors you can bring into battle and upgrade adds a lot to the game’s replay factor. Plus getting to experience the anime’s story arcs while building up the main guild at the heart of the game over time makes Fairy Tail far better than one would initially expect.

10. ‘My Hero One’s Justice 2’

PLUS ULTRA! That phrase should instantly concoct images of the superhero contingent that fights for good from the My Hero Academia anime. My Hero One’s Justice 2 improves upon the superpowered hero vs. villain clashes of the first game by allowing character assists to pull off their own super moves and giving everyone even more impactful Plus Ultra attacks. The roster gets expanded to include even more beloved characters from the show, plus you can participate in the insane clashes that transpired during the Shie Hassaikai Arc.

11. ‘Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch’

Noted Japanese animation film studio Studio Ghibli entered into a working agreement with game development studio Level-5 for this grand JRPG project. The fruits of their labor ended up being one of the most heartwarming and heartbreaking games Bandai Namco has ever published, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. You’ll take on the role of a young boy named Oliver, who taps into his magical prowess and the assistance of his friends in an effort to revive his beloved mother. Prepare yourself for a whimsical adventure that features fun combat scenarios, gorgeous graphics, and a deeply affecting storyline.

12. ‘Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom — Prince’s Edition’

Once you’ve completed the first Ni no Kuni, you’ll find yourself fully immersed in the series as a whole. With that newfound fandom in tow, you’ll need to jump into the equally amazing sequel. Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom features two important political personalities from two different worlds. They eventually find the will to team up with their allies and unite warring nations during a crusade against a great evil. The action RPG combat, fort-building mechanics, and magical Higgledie present some welcome changes to Ni no Kuni’s strong gameplay formula.

13. ‘Valkyria Chronicles’

This former PS3 exclusive has made its way onto a wealth of other consoles in an improved form. Of course, you can enjoy its clever mix of third-person active combat and strategic unit placing on your Nintendo Switch as well. Valkyria Chronicles will pull you in just based on its striking art style. But it’ll keep you enthralled thanks to the constant progression that comes with upgrading your beloved troops. Taking down tanks, pulling off clean headshots, and managing to complete a stage with all your units intact are some of the many joys you’ll derive from this Sega classic.

14. ‘Valkyria Chronicles 4’

The second and third entries in the Valkyria Chronicles franchise are pretty hard to come by since they’re PlayStation Portable exclusives. Thankfully, you can get back into the series proper by checking out the fourth game. The same aspects you adored about the very first game are kept intact here. As far as new stuff goes, Valkyria Chronicles 4 features the explosive new Grenadier class and battle adjustments that give your soldiers a fighting chance when they’re on the verge of death. And the visuals are even more gorgeous than their predecessors.

15. ‘Astral Chain’

PlatinumGames have a knack for producing high-octane action games that never seem to slow down. Astral Chain is one of their original IPs and it’s a must-play for Switch owners everywhere. In it, you take on the role of a special police task force member who has the power to control otherworldly creatures called Legions. You’ll have to master controlling your onscreen officer and their chosen Legion simultaneously during frenetic skirmishes and major boss encounters. The music is top-notch, the art design is splendid, and the many ways in which you can work in unison with your Legions are truly gratifying.

16. ‘Pokémon Sword/Pokémon Shield’

You know the deal if you’ve been in for the long haul ever since Pokémon made its debut – you set out into a vast world full of varied biomes, capture different pocket monsters, train them in battle, and attempt to become the greatest Pokémon trainer of all time. A host of new trainable creatures come into play here as you freely explore the Wild Area, participate in the Gym Challenge, hop into tough raid encounters, and complete a bevy of Poké Jobs. Pokémon Sword/Pokémon Shield offers more of what fans loved before.

17. ‘Steins;Gate Elite’

There’s a bunch of visual novel-based games out on the market that is worth seeking out. One of the finer ones that’s available on the Switch is Steins;Gate Elite, which is a much-improved remake of the 2009 original. The striking anime visuals and sequences from the original game get a boost in this portable classic. As you make your way through this mind-bending story, you’ll be treated to a memorable cast of characters that get wrapped up in a world of science-fiction madness. Your choices matter here and put you on different branching paths, which means there’s a lot of replay value here.

18. ‘Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido’

If you’ve been to Japan and seen those conveyor belt restaurants in the real world, then the mechanics within the zany puzzler should instantly be familiar to you. Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido is pretty much you versus a bunch of offline/online opponents in a bid to match as many sushi plates on a conveyor belt as humanly possible. You’ll quickly find yourself entering a zen-like state as you make big combo matches to throw your rivals off balance.

19. ‘River City Girls’

If the River City beat ‘em ups still hit you right in the nostalgia whenever it’s mentioned, then this modern-day spin-off will instantly become your new fave. River City Girls switches things up by letting you and a buddy play as the boyfriends of the series’ longtime protagonists. After they’re kidnapped, Misako and Kyoko step up to the plate to dish out their own form of street justice and rescue them. That means you’ll be

20. ‘Catherine: Full Body’

Vincent, who’s the lucky/unlucky dude at the center of this trippy game, finds himself in quite the predicament. Instead of making the decision to get married to his girlfriend Katherine, Vincent steps out on his relationship with a sultry lady named Catherine. His acts of infidelity force him into a nightmare realm where he’s forced to navigate intense block-pushing/pulling puzzles and stay ahead of vicious night terrors. Catherine: Full Body features all of the DLC from the original game and retains all the major decision-making & wild puzzle playthroughs fans celebrated during its original launch.

21. ‘Persona 5 Strikers’

Persona 5 Strikers is pretty much a sequel to the highly celebrated JRPG. This time around, Joker and the rest of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts find themselves in a new alternate realm called “Jails.” Taking down the Shadows that harm humans within those Jails means you’ll get to hop into some wild Musou battles with the aid of multiple Persona demons and a wealth of slick special moves. If you want an action RPG that will keep you enthralled during a long flight, look no further than Persona 5 Strikers.

22. ‘BlazBlue Central Fiction Special Edition’

At one point in time, Arc System Works moved away from the Guilty Gear series for a bit to produce an equally great spiritual successor. That game was BlazBlue, which ended up getting a series of system and roster updates that further improved its formula. The final installment in the series is the best one of course. BlazBlue Central Fiction Special Edition is a flashy fighter with a roster full of characters that come with their own gimmicks tied to a single button. And once you find your main, you’ll come to adore just how chaotic fights unfold in this game.

23. ‘BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle’

This anime fighter offers a battle royale full of beloved characters from Arc System Works’ many IPs and even a popular anime. BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle’s roster brings together the very best from BlazBlue, Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-Birth, RWBY, Arcana Heart, Senran Kagura, and Akatsuki Blitzkampf. The 2v2 clashes you’ll be treated to in this 2D fighting game gem explode off the screen and are just as hyperactive as you’d expect.

Categories
Culture Music

ONE37pm Sits Down With Leon Sherman of SoundCloud

Anybody embarking on a career in music will have a lot of memorable moments, but nothing will be quite like your very first show. Atlanta artist SoFaygo recently experienced that feeling for the very first time in his career, and ONE37pm got the chance to be a part of it.

Making his on-stage debut as part of SoundCloud’s new artist accelerator program “First on SoundCloud,” the show was an absolute success from start to finish, and fans who RSVP’d quickly filled the venue until it reached capacity. That venue by the way was an Atlanta landmark called The Loft, and the crowd wrapped all around Peachtree St, with fans waiting for hours to have a shot at seeing SoFaygo. 

The show itself was magical and a memorable night that we were happy to be a part of. SoundCloud brought SoFaygo’s “first” to life by making his dream of performing live a reality, co-producing an Atlanta show for him to connect and interact with his fans for the first time before heading out on tour with Trippie Redd and Iann Dior. The artist was joined by supporting acts Metro Marrs, Sportvvs, and YellaBandanna, and Pusha T was also in attendance to support SoFaygo for his live debut, which was an exciting way to cap off the evening. At the event, the first 300 fans at the door were gifted a limited edition original SoFaygo x SoundCloud t-shirt, designed in collaboration with SoFaygo himself, and the rapper lit the stage up with hits like “Off The Map” and “Knock Knock.” TyFontaine also surprised the crowd when he jumped on stage and performing his collab track with Faygo, “Run It Up.”

The “First on SoundCloud” artist accelerator program features 9 breakout emerging artists celebrating their “first” major career milestones with original, collaborative projects co-created by SoundCloud. We spoke with Leon Sherman, editorial lead at SoundCloud, a few days after the show to find out more about the program, and what’s in store for the future.

ONE37pm: We know that this “First on SoundCloud” project is something that you guys are very passionate about. Could you give a little more detail about this program?

Sherman: The program itself has been going on since 2018, and it’s a correlation between SoundCloud and discovery essentially. It is very much well known by the rising stars that you see today whether it’s Lil Uzi, Billie, or Chance, etc., and we wanted to carry on that mantle that you see from SoundCloud with this program. It started in 2018 with Little Simz and Kehlani and moved on to the likes of Lil Tecca and Baby Rose. Then in 2021, we wanted to figure out how Soundcloud could have more skin in the game of discovery. There are a lot of rising artist programs out there, and with us, we wanted to work with the artists over the course of one year. We are working on creative first projects with these artists, and for SoFaygo that was his first show. 

We actually work with the artists—we don’t just want to give them a list of things to do for us. It’s more of a “let’s work together” scenario because that is how you get the most out of an artist. You get the best content and you have an artist that’s engaged. That was something that was really important to us, and a new aspect is that it goes on for the full year. We are putting our money where our mouth is, and we’re hoping to support our artists through our own platform through these career first milestone projects that all of the artists will overtake over the next six months. We feel really excited about this, and it’s very special!

ONE37pm: If you went back, let’s say 20 years ago, there was a full artist development program. How important is the developmental process?

Sherman: It’s super important. I think there are two lanes that artists go down. The lane of influence can be great, but it can also be a little toxic as well. Sometimes people think that because they have gotten here that they have automatically made it, and that is not the process, really. Even with SoFaygo as an example, he didn’t come out of nowhere; He’s been doing this for a couple of years now, and he was releasing songs on SoundCloud getting buzz. The development process isn’t just the music, but it’s how you carry yourself in certain spaces. He’s got the looks, music, and fashion, which is an important part of the development and creates careers. 

If you can have places like SoundCloud or DSP labels help you with development, that is super important. One thing I will say to rising artists is that there is a whole suite of channels that you can utilize, and you need to do so. Teach yourself—you don’t need to be the kid in the class that needs somebody to teach you. If you are willing to put in the effort and hard work, you can achieve it. Obviously, in my opinion, the music has to bang, but the development process is key, and artists can do it themselves.

ONE37pm: What makes you know that someone is special?

Sherman: I’m thirty-five years old, so I don’t pretend to be on TikTok every day! For me, it’s a few things. For one, the power of building a community is something that is key. That piques my interest because if somebody I know and trust is telling me that an artist is something special, and then you kind of go on that search to check them out. All it takes is for someone to get that word of mouth, and then you can go on these multitudes of platforms to learn more about these artists. Having a story to tell is also something that piques my interest. We shot a content series with SoFaygo, and his story was one that a lot of people could relate to.

He was making digital moves, but prior to his Atlanta show, he had never rehearsed before. It was his first time picking a rehearsal space, and it took two hours to set up the equipment. Those types of stories really catch my eye. Your digital footprint is important because you never know who’s watching.

ONE37pm: Okay, let’s talk about the man of the hour, SoFaygo. When we pulled up, that line was wrapping around Peachtree St.! This show was completely sold out! Were you guys expecting that response?

Sherman: That is almost like SoundCloud in real life. It’s a couple of things—it’s the community of SoFaygo and his fans. He has a huge following. We were expecting it to be absolutely busy, but he actually had to go outside and speak with some of his fans. Even before the show, we knew he was special, but when you have an artist that has that many people show up when they have never performed before—now you are on to something. The people that got in were very lucky, and the people that didn’t were still singing Faygo’s songs outside. Even to be a part of it is super special because you will always remember an artist’s first show. Harnessing that many people says a lot about Faygo and his community. 

It was just a really great night, especially since we have gone through a lot in the last year. Music is such a special connection point, and people like myself have missed live shows. That’s so special to me. For me personally, there is nothing like going to live shows because you get to meet like-minded people and those who like what you like. It’s a sign of good things to come.

ONE37pm: What is your advice to anybody in the music industry that wants to make it?

Sherman: I always used to have that question when I was a teenager. I would say there is no guide as far as how to do it in the music industry. My career like others goes all over the place and it flips all over the chart. If you are really into this and about that life, don’t give up. I was balancing an internship along with working at a bar. I’d moved back to the capital (London), and I knew I wanted to work in the music industry. Make those connections, work hard, and don’t give up. Be that annoying person that speaks to everyone. Some people don’t want to do that, but that’s now how it works. You have to roll your sleeves up and put in the work. That’s the best advice I can give.

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