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Were ‘Pokémon GO’ Raids Really Worth the Wait?

Pokémon GO is the best it’s ever been, and with raids now live, there’s an even wider variety of things to do and experience out on the go than ever before.

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A bustling Starbucks, a wooded trail, a food festival, a popular park two miles from Nintendo of America itself; these are a handful of the diverse locations I’ve attempted Pokémon GO‘s raids, released as part of the game’s one year anniversary celebration.  One of the most highly anticipated elements to the game, the raids came alongside a large update to the gym system which saw more gyms added, a PokéStop at every gym, a new badge or level system to increase the rewards doled out by those PokéStops, a new motivation system to replace the previous prestige system, increased Pokémon-type effectiveness, and some helpful limitations placed on the gyms to prevent teams from laying claim to them for too long and to rekindle the competition.  These positive changes have had an immediate impact, reigniting interest in the game and improving one of the game’s most forlorn pieces.  Unfortunately, the raids, the most enticing and exciting portion of the update, are, in proper Pokémon GO tradition, brilliant in concept but lackluster in application.  Raids may give players a reason to pick the game back up again, but, for some, raids are liable to encourage laying the game down for good.  Raids bring a long awaited social element to Pokémon GO, now if only there were anyone to play with.

GO‘s raids work much the same as the game’s gym system.  Every so often the game will inform players that a raid is beginning soon at a nearby gym.  A giant egg will appear over the gym with a countdown timer.  Once the timer hits zero, regular gym functionality ceases as a giant version of a rare Pokémon hatches from the egg and takes over the gym for the next hour.  Then, rather than tackling the boss solo, like the typical gym experience where a player gradually whittles down the gym’s motivation in the hopes of eventually claiming it and leaving one of their own Pokémon there to defend it, players from all teams from around the area are encouraged to band together with up to nineteen other players to defeat the monstrous Pokémon within the allotted time, all in the hopes of reaping some exclusive rewards and potentially catch a weaker version of the raid boss.  The only things necessary to participate are a character level exceeding five and a raid pass, which players can receive for free once a day by spinning the PokéStop wheel at a gym.

Mechanically, raid battles operate the exact same as gym battles, only fought alongside other players present against one large adversary.  Tapping the screen results in a player’s Pokémon performing a fast attack, which gradually fills a meter.  Once full, player’s can hold down on the screen to perform a charged attack.  Swiping results in the Pokémon dodging, allowing incoming attacks to be evaded, making for an engaging enough timing game involving adeptly timed attacks and well timed reads on incoming assaults.  Also new is the three minute window which players are given to attack the boss.  At different levels, one through four, the monsters encountered vary as do health quantities.  Tier one to two bosses can be handled solo by a competent player, and a tier three encounter, though recommended for thirteen players, can typically be tackled by three fairly regular players or even by one strong player, though the true challenge then is the time limit.

Succeeding in defeating the boss nets players a handful of new, exclusive items such as Golden Razz Berries, which fully restore motivation or make a wild Pokémon much easier to catch on the next attempt, Rare Candies, or TMs which alter a Pokémon’s move set.  It also grants players a certain allotment of premiere balls dependent upon team involvement and which faction controls the gym amongst a few other things, giving players a set number of attempts to catch that particular Pokémon.  These being some of the rarest, most elusive Pokémon in the game, including Charizard, Lapras, Alakazam, and Tyranitar to name a few, Pokémon GO gives players more than enough incentive to participate.  Unfortunately it doesn’t give players equal opportunity to succeed.

For whatever reason (money), developer Niantic saw fit to put a cap on the number of regular raid passes a player can hold at a time: one.  Assuming a player hasn’t gotten a pass that day and they’re already sitting on another, the game does allow players to receive another after they’ve used their original pass.  Players can also purchase an unlimited quantity of “premium raid passes” for 100 Pokécoins, the equivalent of one U.S. dollar.  Since players can earn upwards of fifty Pokécoins a day in game, essentially earning a premium raid pass every other day, that’s not all that egregious a cash grab and does allow players the option of buying in in a pinch.  However, that does discourage participation to an extent, actively countering the social intentions of the addition.  For example, I might pass up a particular raid because I already have the featured Pokémon, am holding on to my daily raid pass in case something bigger and better comes round, or have already used it.  In any of these cases, I’m essentially abandoning fellow players who might not have had the opportunity to catch said Pokémon and leaving them one less ally in what is potentially a challenging fight.  This might not make an impact in tier one and tier two fights, but three, four and, eventually, tier five fights, which are predicted to be legendary Pokémon, tend to require more players.  What’s worse, it’s impossible to tell if anyone is in a raid and joinable, compounding the issue and making me far more hesitant to burn a pass.

The largest flaw with Pokémon GO‘s raids is that it’s simply too challenging to find other players, and the game provides absolutely no tools to assist players in the social arena.  Once the raid begins in earnest and the raid boss appears, players have one hour to challenge the boss.  That’s a large window of time in which countless players will come and go, and with no way to sync schedules, there’s no guarantee players will encounter one another during their attempts, even in densely populated, urban areas.  I tackled two raids back to back in downtown Seattle surrounded by throngs of potential players.  Both ended up being solo raids.  Again, in a massive park, one of the most popular in the immediate Seattle area, one swimming with people and positively brimming with lured PokéStops, gyms, and my pick of raids, I had no way of telling which raids were being attempted by other players, and, despite picking one with one of the most desirable Pokémon, my attempt was miserable and lonely.  With matchmaking times of two minutes and battles lasting no more than three, it’s really no surprise that the true struggle with every raid is merely encountering other players.

The word “raid” brings games like World of Warcraft and Destiny to mind.  Raids in those titles are truly endgame material and some of the most riveting, challenging things players can tackle cooperatively.  That’s kinda the opposite with Pokémon GO.  The recommended player number is way overblown, and typically if the player count matches the tier level, players will have no problem toppling the boss.  In fact, bosses often fall faster than a baby taking their first steps.  Players in suburban and rural areas might be thankful for easier wins, but when tier one and two raids don’t typically require more than one Pokémon, even when soloed, it’s a little questionable.  Perhaps a solution to all of these issues, both social and in terms of difficulty, is raids scaling depending on the player count.  That would allow players in suburban and rural areas to actually succeed in some of the tier three and four raids.  Or perhaps Niantic could introduce some form of online matchmaking system which partners players fighting the same Pokémon in different places together.  The best solution, the one that would actually give the app a true, genuine social element, would be to give players the option to be seen on screen by other players and perhaps allow them to indicate that they’re in route to a particular raid (not while driving, of course!)  In conjunction with extending the range of the “Nearby” indicator for raids, players would have a better selection of raids and could prioritize the teamwork required ones more simply, making GO‘s raids the social experience they were always intended to be.

Pokémon GO is the best it’s ever been, and with raids now live, there’s an even wider variety of things to do and experience out on the go than ever before.  In true Pokémon GO fashion, the latest update is conceptually promising while the actual product is pretty severely flawed.  Raids are a great new addition, giving players even more reason to play than before.  Unfortunately, they’re all too dependent on being able to find other players to play alongside.  With virtually no way to connect with other players in app, the burden once more falls on the players to either find help externally or just not bother.  What should have been a fun, social experience no matter where you are feels a bit too much like another slap in the face of suburban and rural players.  There’s an immense amount of promise here, but without continued improvements and care on Niantic’s end, raids are liable to fizzle out leaving Pokémon GO much the same as it was before, popular, sure, but so far from what it could be.

 

Tim is not the droids you are looking for. He resides quietly in the Emerald City where he can often be found writing, reading, watching movies, or playing video games. He is the Xbox editor for Goomba Stomp and the site's official Pokémon Master.

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Fantastic Fest 2019: Second Wave Adds ‘Knives Out’, ‘Parasite’ and More

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This year’s Fantastic Fest is shaping up with one of the strongest lineups in recent years and if the first wave announcement didn’t impress you, the second wave of films announced today will have you running to buy tickets.

Wave two brings a ton of exciting new titles including Rian Johnson‘s Knives Out, Bong Joon-ho‘s Palme d’Or winner Parasite, as well as Richard Stanley‘s The Color Out of Space and the latest from filmmaking duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead, Synchronic.

This year, Fantastic Fest will also be spotlighting Mexican genre films such as The Black Pit of Dr. M and The Ship of Monsters—and, the festival will also include a sidebar dedicated to LGBTQ+ representation in genre cinema.

Check out the full second wave film lineup below. Fantastic Fest runs September 19-26. Be sure to check back as we will be covering the event once again this year.

Abou Leila
Algeria, France, Qatar, 2019
North American Premiere, 139 min
Director – Amin Sidi-Boumédiène
In the midst of the Algerian Civil War, Lotfi ventures into the desert with his lifelong friend S., who hopes to find and kill the elusive, dangerous terrorist Abou Leila.

The Antenna
Turkey, 2019
US Premiere, 115 min
Director – Orçun Behram
Somewhere within an unnamed city in Turkey, the residents of an apartment block await the installation of their new antenna as ordered by the central government. No one can prepare them for the evil that will be unleashed.

The Black Pit Of Dr. M
Mexico, 1959
Repertory Screening, 82 min
Director – Fernando Méndez
Two doctors make a pact on behalf of science: Whichever one dies first will return to share the secrets of the afterlife. This pact will not end well.

Bliss
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 80 min
Director – Joe Begos
While trying to complete her latest painting, a starving artist facing a lack of inspiration spirals out of control in a blaze of blood-soaked, drug-fueled glory.

Blood Machines
France, USA, 2019
North American Premiere, 50 min
Director – Seth Ickerman
The wild sequel to the Carpenter Brut music video, Turbo Killer, shoots you into a turbulent psychedelic adventure of galactic hunters tracking down the soul of a spaceship set to a killer synthwave soundtrack.

Butt Boy
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 100 min
Director – Tyler Cornack
Writer/director/comedian Tyler Cornack’s Butt Boy introduces us to Chip, a middle-aged man whose first prostate exam stirs feelings deep inside leading to an addiction that can only be shown to Fantastic Fest audiences.

Climate Of The Hunter
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 90 min
Director – Mickey Reece
The “Soderbergh of the Sticks,” Mickey Reece, returns to Fantastic Fest with his 27th feature. Two beautiful sisters vie for the affections of a man who may or may not be a vampire.

Color Out Of Space
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 111 min
Director – Richard Stanley
Unimaginable terrors befall the Gardner family after a meteorite lands on their front lawn in Richard Stanley’s entrancing, horrific adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story.

Iron Fists And Kung Fu Kicks
Australia, 2019
North American Premiere, 107 min
Director – Serge Ou
From the Shaw Brothers to The Matrix, this wild documentary tells the story of how kung fu films conquered the world from the 1960s to now.

Knives Out
USA, 2019
Special Presentation, 130 min
Director – Rian Johnson
In attendance – Director Rian Johnson
From acclaimed writer, director Rian Johnson comes Knives Out, a fresh and modern take on the classic “whodunnit” mystery genre.

The Lodge
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 108 min
Directors – Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala
Five years after Goodnight Mommy stunned Fantastic Fest audiences, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala are back with another disturbing psychological twister about a brother and sister spending Christmas with their shadowy soon-to-be stepmother.

The Long Walk
Laos, Spain, Singapore, 2019
US Premiere, 115 min
Director – Mattie Do
In attendance – Director Mattie Do
An old Laotian hermit discovers that the ghost of a road accident victim can transport him back in time fifty years to the moment of his mother’s painful death..

Lyle
2014, USA
Repertory Screening, 65 min
Director – Stewart Thorndike
In attendance – Director Stewart Thorndike
After the loss of her child, a young woman begins to suspect that her neighbors might be part of a satanic cult and that she might be their next target.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
USA, 1985
Repertory Screening, 87 min
Director – Jack Sholder
In attendance – Actors Mark Patton and Kim Myers
Jesse (Mark Patton) is the new kid on Elm Street and Freddy Krueger might not be the only monster in the closet in this much discussed but under-appreciated queer horror classic.

Nobadi
Austria, 2019
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Karl Markovics
In a retirement allotment in Vienna, a crabby 91-year-old finds both himself and his humanity when he hires an Afghani refugee to help him in Karl Markovics’ remarkable and poignant third feature.

Parasite
South Korea, 2019
Texas Premiere, 131 min
Director – Bong Joon-ho
Bong Joon-ho’s seventh feature — about an unemployed Korean family conning their way out of their basement apartment — is a roller coaster ride of laughs, gasps, horror, tears, and perfection.

Patrick
Belgium, 2019
North American Premiere, 97 min
Director – Tim Mielants
Patrick is not having an easy time. First his domineering father passed away and now his favorite hammer is missing. Before the day is out, Patrick’s search will lead him to discover answers to the questions he didn’t even know existed.

Phil Tippett – Mad Dreams And Monsters
France, 2019
International Premiere, 80 min
Directors – Gilles Penso & Alexandre Poncet
After their documentary Creature Designers – The Frankenstein Complex, French journalist Alexandre Poncet and filmmaker Gilles Penso deliver an in-depth, sad, and beautiful documentary about the stop motion and VFX artist Phil Tippett, a man who changed the landscape of visual effects in film.

The Platform
Spain, 2019
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
In attendance – Director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Somewhere in the future exists The Platform, a vertically tiered prison where the upper levels have access to exquisite food and the lower levels fight for survival. Level assignments are random, but how long can a prisoner’s luck hold? One man is about to find out.

Prey
1977, United Kingdom
Repertory Screening, 78 min
Director – Norman J. Warren
Jessica and Josephine find more than their relationship at stake when they’re chosen by a shape-shifting alien as his target for an observational study.

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 100 min
Directors – Roman Chimienti & Tyler Jensen
In attendance – Directors Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen
More than thirty years after its release and his departure from Hollywood, Mark Patton (star of A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge), sets the record straight on the famously queer horror sequel in this fabulous, surprising, and eye-opening documentary.

The Ship Of Monsters
Mexico, 1960
Repertory Screening, 81 min
Director – Rogelio A. González
Two Venusian women and their robot servant are on a mission to find suitable candidates to repopulate their planet. Soon their ship is filled with bizarre specimens from across the universe, leading to an adventure like no other!

Synchronic
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 96 min
Directors – Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
In attendance – Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
Two paramedics find their world ripped apart when they start encountering deaths linked to the otherworldly effects of a new designer drug called Synchronic.

Trampa Infernal
Mexico, 1989
Repertory Screening, 77 min
Director – Pedro Galindo III
In Mexico’s most notorious unseen video-era masterblast, a crew of toxically masculine bear murderers runs afoul of a forest-dwelling war veteran wearing a mannequin mask and Freddy Krueger glove. Entertainment ensues!!

The True Adventures Of Wolfboy
USA, 2019
North American Premiere, 88 min
Director – Martin Krej?í
Suffering from hypertrichosis — which covers him with animal-like fur — Paul knows he’s not like other kids. But a seemingly random package from his estranged mother will send him on a journey of self-discovery alongside extraordinary characters.

The Vast Of Night
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 90 min
Director – Andrew Patterson
A rural 1950s radio DJ and a telephone operator uncover a strange signal that could change everything in this stunning science fiction debut feature.

VFW
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 92 min
Director – Joe Begos
In attendance – Director Joe Begos
In the near future, a new drug called Hype has turned America into a war zone. The addicted are more mutant than human, and they’ve set their sights on assaulting a VFW post in Joe Begos’ star-studded latest.

VHYES
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 71 min
Director – Jack Henry Robbins
In attendance – Director Jack Henry Robbins
This bizarre retro comedy, shot entirely on VHS and Beta, takes us back to when 12-year-old Ralph, over one formative week, mistakenly records home videos and his favorite late night shows over his parents’ wedding tape.

Vivarium
Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, 2019
US Premiere, 98 min
Director – Lorcan Finnegan
When young couple Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) drive out to a maze of temptingly affordable houses in the suburbs, they find themselves unable to leave.

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Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Antlers’ Gets a Mysterious Trailer

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Fox Searchlight has released the first trailer and poster for Antlers, a rural horror film about a small-town Oregon teacher (Keri Russell) and her brother (Jesse Plemons), the local sheriff, who discover that a young student (Jeremy T. Thomas) is harboring a dangerous secret that places the entire town in danger.

Director Scott Cooper and producer Guillermo del Toro have teamed to adapt a short story from Nick Antosca, the creator of the criminally underrated horror anthology series Channel Zero. Not much is yet known about Antlers other than Fox Searchlight, now owned by Disney, has scheduled the film for a 2020 release. Rounding up the main cast is Graham Green, Amy Madigan, Scott Haze and Rory Cochrane. Watch the trailer below.

Antlers Movie
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Be Excellent to Each Other with these Awesome ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ Figures

“History is about to be rewritten by two guys who can’t spell.”

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Since its release in 1989, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure inspired a sequel (Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey), a Saturday morning cartoon, a comic book series, and launched actor Keanu Reeves into movie stardom. And now, three-plus decades later, Bill and Ted are getting their own scale collectible set courtesy Sideshow and Blitzway.

This is your chance to own the friendly duo in one go! The work put into creating these high-end figures is truly astounding as the figures capture the look of a young Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves just as we remember them. If you have $399 to spend, they can be all yours.

Check out the photos below along with the official press release.

Bill and Ted are two high school buddies who dream of becoming international rock stars. Their hilarious time travel adventure is depicted in the amazingly audacious comedy Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

It’s like having them pop up right in front of you, with their iconic fashion and elaborate accessories. Besides, the iconic props are designed to let you reproduce a variety of wonderful scenes from the movie.

Be excellent to each other and travel to the past through the exciting story of Bill and Ted!

The Bill & Ted Sixth Scale Collectible Set specially features:

Highly detailed likeness of Alex Winter as Bill S. Preston Esq.
Highly detailed likeness of Keanu Reeves as Ted “Theodore” Logan
Newly designed and developed male body with over 30 points of articulations and flexible soft arms
Two (2) Newly designed and developed figure stands
Twelve (12) interchangeable hands (total for both) including:
Two (2) pairs of guitar hands
Two (2) right blow fist hands
Two (2) pairs of open hands
Two (2) right good fortune hands

Costume for Bill:

One (1) purple pattern shirt
One (1) graphic t-shirts
One (1) pair of blue jeans
One (1) pair of pattern underpants
One (1) pair of striped socks
One (1) pair of canvas shoes

Costume for Ted:

One (1) blue jacket
One (1) black vest
One (1) graphic t-shirt
One (1) pair of graphic shorts
One (1) pair of inner training pants
One (1) pair of striped socks
One (1) pair of canvas shoes

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Watch the Creepy Trailer for ‘Little Nightmares 2’: Six is Back and She has Help.

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One of the biggest surprises to come out of Gamescom 2019 so far is the announcement of Little Nightmares 2, the sequel to the puzzle-platformer hit horror game developed by Tarsier Studios.

While the first Little Nightmares has you take control a character named Six while avoiding instant death as she traverses alone amongst the depths of a dungeon, the sequel will give her a companion named Mono, who must accompany Six throughout her terrifying new journey.  

Little Nightmares was one of our favorite games of 2017 and so we can’t wait to get our hands on the sequel. In our review, James Baker wrote, “Tarsier Studios have created a wholly original concept to a horror genre that has leaned more towards thriller before anything else, bringing its roots back without relying on jump-scares and needlessly-gory shocks. Just like hide-and-seek, Little Nightmares captures the fear of being caught, albeit in a creepy, macabre style.”

Little Nightmares 2 will be released sometime in 2020 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

Watch the trailer below and if you are a fan of the first game, we recommend reading this article that dives deep into the meaning behind Little Nightmares.

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NBA 2K20’s Story Mode Gets a Stunning Trailer

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NBA 2K19 features to date, its strongest MyCareer mode with the aptly titled, “The Way Back”, a fascinating look at the culture behind college basketball recruiting. The story mode was well received by critics and fans everywhere and in our review, we called it, “an incredible achievement that conveys the fabric of modern American life, aspirations and incidentally, sports, in close-up and at length”.

NBA 2K20 which will be released in less than a month, promises to include an even better story mode, and while we haven’t played the game yet, we have plenty of reasons to think it might be. Not only does it feature an all-star cast with top-tier talents such as Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson, but the story mode – entitled “When the Lights Are Brightest” – is being produced by LeBron James’ Springhill Productions, the same company behind the upcoming Space Jam 2.

NBA 2K20’s latest trailer, which debuted Monday during Microsoft’s Inside Xbox show live from Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, give us a good idea of what to expect. We get a glimpse at Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson in action as well as the rest of the supporting cast which includes Thomas Middleditch, Mark Cuban, Ernie Hudson, Lamorne Morris, Scottie Pippen, and Jaleel White!

The NBA 2K20 demo will go live on Wednesday, Aug. 21 and will allow players to create a character and get a head start on MyCareer. Any progress made will carry over to the full game, which will be released Sept. 6 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

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Goomba Stomp is the joint effort of a team of like-minded writers from across the globe. We provide smart readers with sharp, entertaining writing on a wide range of topics in pop culture, offering an escape from the usual hype and gossip. We are currently looking for Film, TV, Anime and Comic writers.

Contact us: Editor@GoombaStomp.com

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