Favourites – May 2018

At the end of every month, I like to make note of my favourite pieces of media from the past few weeks. This time, i’m looking at things from May 2018!

Film – Deadpool 2

As I said in my actual review of Deadpool 2, I basically walked into the cinema knowing that I would love this film. I wasn’t disappointed, with laughs galore and plenty of dramatic action to keep me entertained. Despite watching some incredible films this month, Deadpool wins my favourite film of the month purely on entertainment factor alone.

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Image sourced from Deadpool 2 YouTube Trailer

TV show – My Hero Academia

I know that i’m several years behind but I FINALLY got around to watching season 1 of My Hero Academia. I absolutely adore this anime. Not only does it have fun with superhero tropes, there is an undeniable amount of positivity swirling around the main character. Combine this with character designs that range from adorable to downright terrifying and this is shaping up to be a very good anime.

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Image sourced from My Hero Academia season 1 YouTube trailer

Game – Overcooked

This month I decided to try out Xbox Game Pass for £1. I wasn’t super impressed with the games on offer, although I did find a few gems. One such gem was Overcooked. This is a fun game that really challenges players to use the limited resources and time to their advantage. Even better, it has fantastic pick-up-and-play multiplayer value for up to 4 players, including a novel setting that lets two players awkwardly use one Xbox controller. Plus it’s published by Team17, which isn’t too far away from where I live!

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Image sourced from Overcooked YouTube launch trailer

Song – Azukita

Not a song from my usual sphere of music but i’ve been aware of Daddy Yankee songs from all the way back in 2004 when he released Gasolina, thanks to the time spent living in Spain. I love the overall video game type look of the music video, even though it’s not accurate in the slightest. Plus everyone seems so energetic and happy when they dance,  which is fantastic in my book.

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Image sourced from Azukita music video on YouTube

YouTube channel – theRadBrad

While I wait until my 100-day wait to get a PlayStation 4 ends, I have the Horizon: Zero Dawn and God of War playthrough series (and others) on theRadBrad’s YouTube channel. It’s a risky business because I could spoil the entirety of the games for myself but if I am careful then I should be able to enjoy watching them.

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Image sourced from theRadBrad YouTube channel

That about wraps it up for May 2018, thanks for reading this post! If you liked it, then please follow this blog for similar updates in the future.

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Building a free and open-source alternative to Adobe Creative Cloud

Before I start – a quick disclaimer. Downloading random bits of software off the internet can be a risky business. When delving into the world of open-source software, take care to download them from their official sites and make sure you have a robust anti-virus installed. Bungee jumping can be fun and exhilarating, but you wouldn’t do it if you weren’t safety attached to that long stretchy cord.

As Adobe Creative Cloud is such a comprehensive collection of specialist apps and services, it’s nigh on impossible to get the same level of usability from open-source applications. It’s a veritable David vs Goliath situation, a small collection of dedicated volunteers vs an army of Adobe developers. This doesn’t mean there isn’t worth in open-source software. I’ve always been an advocate because it lets people learn creative skills while only spending a tiny amount of money (if any at all). These creative skills can then be transferred over to any number of propriety software if/when needed. With that in mind, I’ve collated a big list of free and open source alternatives to Adobe CC that will all work on Windows, Mac OS and Linux!

Photoshop (GIMP)

First up, we have the GIMP. Don’t laugh, it’s an acronym. Otherwise known as the GNU Image Manipulation Program, this is a powerful piece of software that is well suited to editing photos. GIMP can also be used to create original artwork and graphic design assets. As with many of the open-source projects in this list, the UI design can be confusing for people making the transition from Adobe products. Luckily, as GIMP is infinitely customizable, there are a number of plugins and themes that make it look more akin to Photoshop.

Illustrator (Inkscape)

Even though Inkscape was released in 2003, at the time of writing it still hasn’t reached version 1.0. While still not being considered “complete”, this vector graphics editor is the go-to program when dealing with SVGs (Scalable Vector Graphics). It also has the option to open and save files in .EPS and .AI if something a little more mainstream is needed.

Indesign (Scribus)

One of the more premier free page layout programs available, Scribus offers a stable platform for desktop publishing. It ships with plenty of colour palettes, supporting RGB, CYMK and spot colours. An additional feature helps emulate forms of colour blindness to help inform your design choices. Helpful and ethical!

Premiere Pro (OpenShot)

The Openshot website boasts that this piece of software is “easy to use, quick to learn, and surprisingly powerful video editor.” Very straight to the point. With that said, Openshot is one of the better-looking and sleeker apps on this list. Proving a plethora of features, from curve based keyframe animations to chroma key (green/blue screen), this is a compact and functional video editor.

After Effects (Blender)

As After Effects is a very specific and powerful piece of software, it’s REALLY hard to recommend an open-source alternative. So hard in fact, that I have to offer something slightly different. Instead of a dedicated visual effects program, I can recommend Blender. Blender is an absolute powerhouse that supports the entire 3D pipeline, from modelling to motion tracking. More importantly (in this case), Blender has lots of tools that support visual effects and motion graphics. Time spent learning how to use Blender is time very well spent.

Lightroom (darktable)

According to the website, “darktable is created for photographers, by photographers.” It’s nice to know that the people who have programmed this piece of software have a clear vision of what they are doing. This makes darktable very usable. Plus, i’m really amused by the name. “What’s the opposite of light? Dark, sure, cool. We need something else? Something that’s in a room? A table? Awesome. Let’s call it darktable.”

Dreamweaver (Brackets)

Out of everything on this list, Brackets is my absolute favourite! There is something very satisfying about looking at the clean and modern UI. It lacks the WYSIWYG capabilities of Dreamweaver but does have a live-viewer that shows you a preview of what you are working on. Interestingly, it was actually developed by Adobe as a community project, something that I think does reflect in the way that it looks. Is it ironic that my favourite “alternative” is made by Adobe? Yeah, I think so.

Audition (Audacity)

If Brackets is my absolute favourite, then Audacity is a close second. One of the first pieces of open-source software that I ever discovered, it isn’t the best looking. This drab exterior hides a very practical application. It has the capabilities to edit audio, but it can also record live sound, as long as there is a microphone handy. Perfect for recording podcasts!

Media Encoder (Handbrake)

While a few open-source apps take time to learn, Handbrake has be one of the tougher nuts to crack. The world of transcoding is a murky one, and Handbrake doesn’t take any time to explain any of the many features it has. If you can fight through that learning curve though, this is a very viable choice for your digital video file needs.

Bridge (Digikam)

Do you have an impressively large library of images but don’t want to use Adobe Bridge? If you are in this very specific situation, then let me introduce you to Digikam! Aside from its ability to handle lots of files, it can handle lots of different TYPES of files and edit metadata.

BONUS SOFTWARE!

Libre Office – Like Microsoft Office, but free!

OBS Studio – Screen recording and live streaming!

VLC Media Player – The ultimate multimedia player!

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Piggin’ out at the Sheffield Food Festival 2018!

Foodies have once again descended on Sheffield to savour the food this great city can offer at the annual Sheffield Food Festival. Now in it’s eighth year, this three day event has spread across the Peace Gardens, Winter Gardens, Millennium Square, Town Hall Square and Fargate. Even though we have lived in Sheffield for several years, my girlfriend and I have never been around the festival before. As we are both vegetarians we were interested to see what was available.

Thankfully, there were so many incredible options! Most of the vendors that we saw had at least one vegetarian dish and a few even had some vegan things to eat too. Obviously, not every single stall had as much choice, but that’s fine! It’s good to have variety! In fact, that was probably the best part of the whole day. Just looking around the vast array of stalls was entertaining enough.

Rather than just spending our money on random things, we decided to set ourselves the challenge of only spending up to £10 on food. This made the search for food both stressful and fun at the same time. You can see the breakdown of what we spent below:

Noodle Bar – Me

  • Plain noodles with onion & pepper : £4.50
  • Black Bean sauce: £1

Wah Wahs – Girlfriend

  • Halloumerito: £7.50

Bedazzled Cupcakes – Both

  • Oreo Egg cupcake: £1.80
  • Creme Egg cupcake: £1.80

Total spent

  • Me: £7.30
  • Girlfriend: £9.30

As you can see, I tried some noodles and my girlfriend went for the Halloumerito! We both enjoyed what we had, although I probably could have got something that was a bit more exciting. At least mine was super tasty and the service was good.

In case you are wondering what a Halloumerito is, its a tortilla wrap filled with Mexican spiced bean balls, halloumi fries, bbq’d veggie salsa, sweet potato relish, slaw and sauces. It was quite the concoction, and one that my girlfriend enjoyed, although she did note that there didn’t seem enough halloumi in it to earn its name. There was a slight food emergency, the tortilla split open and food went everywhere while she was eating it!

foodFestival2.jpgTo finish our small culinary adventure, we both decided on some super cute cupcakes. Bedazzled Cupcakes was a great little place. We were served by a friendly gentleman who explained that specific cupcakes had a tiny chocolate egg baked inside them. What more could you ask for? They ended up being slightly dry but both cupcakes that we bought were very full of flavour and tasty.

Overall, we had a really nice time. The weather was perfect and everyone seemed to be in a good mood. There were plenty of other things to do like attending Food Futures or Food For Thought but we only had a short amount of time to see what was happening. It was definitely worth going though, and I would completely recommend it!

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Christopher Robin Official Trailer – Reaction!

Featured image sourced from YouTube trailer

I really honestly don’t know what i’m going to think about this film when I see it. This trailer has left me so undecided! Pooh and Friends are so DAMN CUTE that I can’t even breath. They look like actual toys from Christopher Robin’s childhood and it’s absolutely glorious. How they managed to get so much life into Eeyore’s plastic eyes is beyond me. Piglet and Roo are flop-eared and wonderfully innocent. I do have a few criticisms regarding Owl and Rabbit though. I feel like they are kinda just generic CGI animals? I understand that they are meant to be animals living in the Hundred Acre Wood but they seem to pale beside the unique and huggable designs of the stuffed animals.

Moving past the animated characters, i’m not really bothered about Ewan McGregor as Christopher. He’s a great actor and i’m glad he’s getting work but if he was replaced with someone else I don’t think I would notice.  It’s wonderful to see Hayley Atwell appearing in more big movies as she always has a strong presence on screen. It will be interesting what Bronte Carmichael brings to her role, as I haven’t seen anything she’s done before. I’m not sure how much of a role Mark Gatiss is going to play but he’s always a welcome addition.

Even though Christopher Robin’s name is the title I feel like the real stars of this film are going to be the voice actors. I’m glad they kept Jim Cummings as Pooh and Tigger. There’s plenty of history there and he knows the characters well. If the film itself is a dumpster fire then at least I know Jim Cummings will be a highlight. I’m glad they kept Peter Cullen in the Transformers movies and I feel the same way about this film too. Everyone else featured in the trailer also sounded great, I can’t wait to see what Toby Jones and Peter Capaldi do with their time as Owl and Rabbit respectively.

Overall, my main problem at the moment with this film is the plot. I’m always wary of “fictional CGI animal/character trying to interact with our world and failing because they don’t understand it” storyline. It’s not a massive deal breaker though. I said the same thing about Paddington a few years ago and if there’s one film that shows us that exact formula works, it’s Paddington. Hopefully, it turns out more like that rather than something like The Smurfs. Here’s hoping!

Check out the trailer below!

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My hopes and dreams for E3 2018

Featured image sourced from E3 2018 trailer video

Thanks to E3 2018 only being just over two weeks away, hype for the event is rapidly building. Already, we’ve had a slew of leaked information – whether all these instances of information are true or not is yet to be seen. Regardless, I like to be as clueless as possible when it comes to what is going to be announced. Obviously, some things like the Rage 2 announcement and the various Pokemon title leaks are impossible to miss.

It’s always an exciting time of the year for gamers, but I am determined to not get on board the out-of-control hype train. Below are my top 10 hopes and dreams for E3 2018.

1. Fallout 3/New Vegas/4 on Nintendo Switch

Thanks to the great ports of Doom and Skyrim, at least one of these HAS to come to Nintendo Switch. Personally, I will take any. I love all the modern Fallout games, and dabbling in the older ones are on my to-do list.

2. More information on Rage 2

In the short amount of time since Rage 2 was leaked, Bethesda has shown us a game that seems to be impressively vibrant and fast-paced. The marketing has been incredibly distinct, a far cry from the drab and generic box art that heralded the original Rage. I don’t actually know whether i’m hoping for more gameplay or more of that district marketing aesthetic.

3. Details on Nintendo Switch Online or new system updates

With September 2018 coming in fast, people are readying their wallets for paid Nintendo Switch Online membership. While I have no real problem with paying for this service thanks to those potential NES games (a console that I never actually owned or played) and exclusive offers, I do want more information. Whether that’s other things paying customers are getting or updates to the Switch OS and the Store.

4. Incredible new exclusive IP for Xbox One

Basically, I want Microsoft to make me change my mind when it comes to trading my Xbox One for a PlayStation 4. I have been an Xbox owner for a long time, and I worry about the future of the exclusivity of the games on the console. My interest in Gears of War, Forza, Halo, Halo Wars and Crackdown 3 dwindled away long ago.

4. New Backwards Compatibility games.

I really like the idea of Backwards Compatible games. To me, it’s a genuine selling point for the Xbox One. If Microsoft can’t provide their fans with new exclusive games then at the very least let them have some of the older games to play.

6. Solid information on the FF7 remake

This game is one of my most anticipated games in a long time. Any information about this would make me so dang happy. Enough said really.

7. Fortnight on the Nintendo Switch

Fortnight is apparently a massive game right now. I’ve played it a few times and had fun with it but it’s definitely not my type of thing to play. However, I do see the value of it, and completely accept that this would be a good addition to the Nintendo Switch. This will probably be used as an incentive to entice people to pay for Nintendo Switch Online.

8. Ports of older The Legend of Zelda games

Ok, i’m about to drop a huge guilty secret. I’ve only ever played Link’s Awakening, Twilight Princess and Breath Of The Wild. What kind of gamer am I? A terrible, terrible one obviously. This is why I desperately want any of the older Zelda games to become available on the Switch. You can bet that i’ll be playing my way through the NES versions when they come to Nintendo Switch Online.

9. Reassurance that Spider-Man isn’t going to be terrible

It’s a great time to be a massive Spider-man fan. This current iteration of the cinematic Spider-man is the best so far, plus there’s a shiny new Spider-man game coming to PlayStation 4. It’s one of the big IPs that Sony is going to concentrate on at E3. Things sound perfect, right? Maybe not, as most of the gameplay we have seen seems to be quick-time based button mashing. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of good ‘ol quick-time events but an entire game full of it? I hope not. Overall, I feel positive about this though.

10. Pokemon for Switch announced

Out of everything else on this list, I want this to come true. As I detailed in a previous post, I have been a fan of the Pokemon games since they were released in the UK. The series has admittedly grown stale, so I want the new Nintendo hybrid console to breath new life into this age-old series. The announcement doesn’t have to be big because I can wait patiently for the inevitable Nintendo Direct to glean details, but just some solid details would be great. A release date is probably too much to ask so i’m hoping for meer confirmation.

Thanks for reading about my hopes and dreams for E3 2018! If you liked it, then please follow this blog for similar updates in the future.

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Rocket League – Salty Shores update

Psyonix is once again rewarding us fans of the football/car sensation that is Rocket League. Aside from the expected Competitive Season 8, there are plenty of new things coming. Chief among them (for me at least) are the ‘Rocket League x Monstercat Vol.3’ EP and the new arena ‘Salty Shores’.

While previous ‘Rocket League x Monstercat’ playlists have been fantastic, and this newest one is shaping up to be great also, the thing i’m most excited for in the upcoming update is the aesthetic of the new arena. Having been born in the Eighties, I have somewhat of an obsession with that decade. The resurgence of Eighties design in properties such as Thor: Ragnarok and Stranger Things is a welcome sight for me, and i’m glad that it’s slowly seeping into my favourite competitive game. It brings back memories of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and I can’t wait!

Check out what the developers have to say below:

Which sunblock SPF does a Battle-Car need when it’s soaking up rays and playing in the sand all day? We’ll know soon, because our new Salty Shores Update splashes down on May 29!

This next Content Update is all about Rocket League fun in the sun, starting with the aforementioned ‘Salty Shores,’ our brand new seaside Arena! As our sunniest map to date, Salty Shores should keep the summertime vibes going year-round as a permanent addition to all online Playlists!

Along with a new Arena, we’re also bringing you the start of Competitive Season 8, the distribution of Season 7 Rewards, the new ‘Impact’ Crate, fresh beats from the ‘Rocket League x Monstercat Vol. 3’ EP and more! You’ll also find some nice quality of life improvements in the mix, including a new ‘Report Server’ button for when servers misbehave during an online match.  Our ‘Beach Blast’ in-game Event is coming soon too, but not for a few more weeks — June 11, to be exact! We’ll have more details about Beach Blast closer to the start of the event, so stay tuned!

 
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Blogging about Pokémon professionally for the first time

Featured image sourced from GameRant

If there is one thing that you can take away from the BestGeekLife blog, it’s that I love Pokémon. When Pokémon Red and Blue released in the UK during 1999, my 10-year-old brain was hooked. At the time, the gameplay was fresh and exciting. Obviously, as I progressed into adulthood, I found later games to be slightly dull and repetitive, but still enjoyable. I have no problem with later Pokémon designs or additions to the series like the new types, Dark, Steel and Fairy. As a franchise, it has developed and changed, just as anything should to stay alive or stay relevant.

But this blog post isn’t about the evolution (haha) of the Pokémon franchise. This blog post is about the first time I was able to write about Pokémon in a professional sense. Interestingly, this opportunity came from the strangest situation. During the summer of 2016, the world was obsessed with Pokémon Go. The fuss generated by this mobile game was so great that it even penetrated the office where I worked at the time, a place where the people were really nice but mostly not geeky or nerdy.

To cut a long story short, I managed to write a blog post on their website that compared playing Pokémon Go with undertaking postgraduate study. Entitled Postgraduate Study Takes (Poké)balls, it definitely was meant to be a funny article, something that should be read with a tongue-in-cheek attitude.  It was an interesting exercise and something that sparked the need to write more blog posts about geeky stuff. It probably seems like a small thing, but getting paid to write about a series of video games that i’ve followed and loved from childhood was something straight off my bucket list.

If you want to read the article, it can be found here.

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Deadpool 2 – review!

It’s great when you walk into a theatre knowing you are going to enjoy a film. It happened back in 2016 when I saw Deadpool and it has happened again with Deadpool 2. I am an absolute sucker for big-budget superhero films. Especially ones that are full of humour and generally have a feel-good vibe.

Instead of the “reuniting with your girlfriend and getting revenge on the guy who messed up your face” plot that the first film centred around, this second film sees Deadpool and friends (old and new) in a plot that is only slightly bigger in scale. There are surprises aplenty, something I found welcome and entertaining. Plot points twist the story and characters develop in ways that I did not expect. In an industry so reliant on formulas, this is damned refreshing.

Every character in this film is larger than life, but the absolute stand-outs are Deadpool himself, Cable, Russell and Domino. Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool is incredible as usual. He breaks the fourth wall, drops one-liners and basically makes the entire audience chortle almost consistently. There are a few jokes that fall flat, but when those jokes hit, they are so funny. There are some emotional moments, and Reynolds mostly gets it right. When Deadpool is paired up with Cable, played by Josh Brolin, sparks definitely fly. Brolin has had such a good year for playing compelling bad guys. He might be killing people, but you know and understand why he’s doing that.

I admire Julian Dennison so much for playing Russell Collins. He brings a brooding teen angst to Russell,  bubbling just under the surface. I’ve only seen two of the four films he has been in, something I really need to fix. Finally, Zazie Beetz plays Domino. It’s very entertaining seeing her embrace her power of luck. Even when the area immediately around her is constantly blowing up, she has an almost nonchalant attitude. There’s no need to panic when you know you aren’t going to get hit by wreckage. Sure, Ryan Reynolds and Josh Brolin take top billing in this film but the real talent comes from Beetz and Dennison.

There are plenty of stunts in this film thanks to David Leitch’s eye for impressive action. These stunts did come at a price though, with stunt actress Joi Harris dying mid-way through the shoot. In fact, a few other complications marred the production. A certain controversial scene concerning baby Hitler was supposedly cut from the film. I completely understand why they took this out, especially as it doesn’t really fit into the narrative that well.

Overall, it’s refreshing to see a film that is still quite a personal story. There isn’t a universe that needs saving, there’s no giant laser shooting up into the sky. It proves that bigger isn’t always better. If you can’t stand superhero films, then this probably won’t change your mind. If you are a fan of Deadpool, then this film will satisfy.

And remember people, watch out for the cameos and stay in your seat when the credits start rolling.

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100 days until my PS4

Featured image sourced from Pixabay

PlayStation vs Xbox vs Nintendo vs PC – the age-old argument of which platform people should play their games on. There is no doubt, each system has exclusive titles that can be enjoyed nowhere else. Lately, this exclusivity is being blurred with games like Rocket League offering crossplay or with schemes such as Xbox Play Anywhere.

Normally, I don’t mind too much about the platform I play games on. I don’t really care about framerates or graphics. Not to say good graphics and stable framerates are not important, but for me, they are irrelevant. Controversial opinion? Maybe? Throughout my life, I have been an avid gamer. In my time i’ve had a multitude of gaming devices, from Gameboys to PCs to my mobile phone. Currently, I have a Wii, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and a PC. I can’t fool myself forever though. I’ve buckled under the sheer amount of incredible PlayStation 4 exclusive games that I am yet to play. Infamous. Horizon: Zero Dawn. The Last of Us. Uncharted. All common, household names. All out of the reach of my sweaty geek hands. I cannot stand it any longer. In 100 days, I will be trading my Xbox One for a PlayStation 4!

After many, many years of owning some kind of Xbox, my allegiance is changing. It’s not that I don’t like my Xbox One. There are many things that are very good about having an Xbox One. My previous post praises the Backwards Compatibility feature offered by Microsoft, but the amount of good Xbox exclusive games just don’t cut it for me. I don’t really enjoy the shooter or racing genre, so that’s Forza, Halo, and Gears of War games out of the window. My betrayal has been a long time coming, and what finally broke me? God of War. Oh my, God of War.

I’ll summarize by saying that I’m very much looking forward to getting my PS4. It’s going to be a painfully slow wait for Saturday 25 August 2018. One question remains though. Why am I going to wait that long and torture myself so? Basically, I can be pretty impatient, and this scenario is perfect to exercise some self-control. Plus, there’s probably a slim chance that E3 might make me change my mind. In the meantime, i’m going to binge watch this playthrough series of Horizon: Zero Dawn and totally ruin the game for myself.

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For the love of Backwards Compatibility

(Featured image sourced from Gamespot)

Released to the public on November 12th 2015, Backwards Compatibility lets gamers play a select number of Xbox 360 games on their Xbox One console. The number of playable games started at 104, but more have been added periodically since then. Personally, I adore the idea of being able to pop my old games into my Xbox One and firing up Gears of War or Alan Wake. Hell, I discovered my love for Beyond Good And Evil HD thanks to it.

It was a smart business move by Microsoft and i’m glad they decided to implement the feature. I confess that i’ve spent no small sum of money during my time on the Xbox 360 and i’m glad it hasn’t gone to waste. Sure, I have my moderately powerful computer to play games on now. It’s something I prefer, but there is a certain satisfaction booting up a console in my living room.

And for all the raging between which platform to play on is better, to me, it doesn’t matter. I play games for the fun of it, and the more games I can experience and enjoy the better. Backward Compatibility is just one of the many options I have. Every so often I log onto my Xbox One and an old dusty game that I forgot I bought a while back pops into my ready to download list. It’s like Christmas and all the presents were bought by me a few years ago.

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