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NEWS (LAST 200)
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Francesco Molinari wins British Open...
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Francesco Molinari wins the British Open...
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REVIEWS & PREVIEWS (LAST 60)
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Dear Liz: I am 64, single and planning to retire in two years. I have saved enough to pay off my $100,000 mortgage. It will take the bulk of my savings but I have no other debts. I will have a pension and Social Security. I also have a credit score over 800. Should I do this?

Answer: Probably not.

... Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 22 Jul 2018 03:00:00 PDT )

Sheila Brown was shocked to learn, in the spring of 2009, that the Los Angeles City Council was planning to raise the speed limit on Zelzah Avenue, a few blocks from her home in Granada Hills.

A few weeks before, a 60-year-old woman had been struck and killed in a crosswalk on Zelzah, Brown told...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 22 Jul 2018 03:00:00 PDT )

California hit its target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels four years early, a milestone regulators and environmentalists are cheering as more proof that you can cut pollution while growing the economy.

But a closer look at data released by the state Air Resources Board shows...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 22 Jul 2018 03:00:00 PDT )

While the nation’s big retailers battle for consumer dollars they’re now also waging a fight for seasonal workers.

Retailers such as J.C. Penney Co. and Kohl’s Corp. already are posting help-wanted ads for their busy season, weeks or even months earlier than usual. That means Americans looking...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 22 Jul 2018 03:00:00 PDT )

My earliest memory of Jonathan Gold involves stalking him.

About six years ago, I was a freelancer — working on a chapter about the history of Peruvian restaurants in the Western United States for a small academic press in Lima.

I had spent countless hours sorting through mountains of articles...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 22 Jul 2018 03:00:00 PDT )

The fastball is no longer all that fast. In a game increasingly dominated by strikeouts, Clayton Kershaw relies on a mix of pitches, the ability to throw them to a precise spot, and the cooperation of his fielders in converting batted balls into outs.

When Kershaw came off the field after his sixth...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 21 Jul 2018 19:35:00 PDT )

A gunman who opened fire outside a Trader Joe's in Silver Lake was in custody after a tense standoff that began when he shot two people at a home in South L.A.

Police were now searching the store to care for bystanders who trapped inside during the standoff.

The incident began as family dispute...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 21 Jul 2018 18:45:00 PDT )

Los Angeles police descended on a Trader Joe's in Silver Lake on Saturday afternoon after a gunman opened fired outside the store at end of a police pursuit, sending shoppers diving for cover.

Los Angeles police Asst. Chief Robert Arcos said a gunman is barricaded in the store with some bystanders....

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 21 Jul 2018 17:45:00 PDT )

It began with such promise. Baseball was happy. Baseball was human.

On the eve of the All-Star game, in its signature home run derby, the hometown boy made good. In front of a chanting crowd in the nation’s capital, Bryce Harper swung for the fences while wearing not a cap but a colorful headband...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 21 Jul 2018 16:00:00 PDT )

Fighting EX Layer is a one-one-one fighting game that's built for a very specific audience. There's no tutorial, no story mode, not even a basic arcade mode yet. However, the resulting game is built purely on competitive fighting with focused efforts on making the brawling as satisfying and engaging as possible. And to that end, developer Arika succeeded spectacularly.

Fighting EX Layer comes from Arika, the developer behind the Street Fighter EX series for the PlayStation 1 and 2, and features many of the original characters created for those games. Faces like Blair Dame, Doctrine Dark, and the fan favorite Skullomania are all here to deliver epic beatdowns while looking better than ever. If you enjoyed the SFEX games, playing EX Layer feels like seeing old friends again after a very long time--though you don't need to remember the roster from a 1996 game to have fun with its colorful cast of fighters.

Of course, characters in a fighting game are just empty shells without a solid fighting engine to back them up, and EX Layer delivers that. The six-button fighter incorporates throws, dashes, a special overhead attack, varied special moves and super attacks, and basic attack chain combos (executed by pressing light-to-strong attack buttons in succession.) Movement, particularly dashing, feels swift and responsive even for slower characters, and basic attacks are satisfying thanks to a combination of well-designed animations and delightful auditory and visual flourishes.

This solid gameplay provides the foundation for EX Layer's two defining mechanics. The first is the ability to chain attacks into special and super moves, which is achieved by cancelling mid-animation into a stronger skill. While many fighting games do this, EX Layer is notable for how smooth and free-flowing the cancelling feels; timing windows tend to be generous, and there are only a few restrictions on what attacks can chain into others, leading to some spectacular combos involving multiple special and super skills fired off in rapid succession. Allen's Justice Fist special move has a tremendous recovery time that makes it difficult to utilize on its own, for example, but by cancelling it into a super move, it becomes a lot more versatile. The cancelling, combined with dash-oriented movement, makes for a game that's very focused on aggressive, in-your-face tactics.

The other major element that sets EX Layer apart is the Gougi, pre-constructed decks of five special skills--either active or passive--that activate when certain conditions are met over the course of the fight. Effects can range from an increase in movement speed after a certain amount of time has passed to special properties attached to your attacks after you land hits with them a certain number of times. There are currently 15 Gougi decks available in the “standard” version and five available in the lower-priced “light” version, with more potentially on the way as DLC.

The skills that activate in each Gougi are designed to pair well with each other. The Infinity deck, for example, contains three boosts to building super meter and two other skills that make use of this extra meter gain, allowing you to play by building and spending meter very quickly. Other decks can change basics of the game in some unique and challenging ways; the Stealth Raptor deck transforms dashes into short hops, while Sky Dancer gives you a homing jump that will let you land near your opponent from any distance. This results in some Gougi decks being easier to use than others, but the more technical decks offer some intriguing potential to those willing to put in the time and effort to work with them.

It's in the thick of battle when you really see how much Gougi can impact a match. Many of the effects don't activate until a couple of rounds in, meaning that you'll gain access to new skills and abilities throughout the entire match. This challenges you to not only change up your fighting style and take full advantage of your unlocked skills as the battle wages on, but also to adapt to your opponent's ever-evolving set of skills. Due to the aggressive nature of its combat and the Gougi boosts, the playing field in EX Layer is practically always changing in a fun, organic way.

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The fact that Gougi and attack cancelling are so versatile makes for a game that feels designed expressly for people who savor the technical aspects of fighting games--the kind of folks who will gladly spend hours upon hours in Training Mode just experimenting to find cool and interesting techniques. With its lack of single-player modes (besides a versus-CPU Kumite mode buried under menus), Fighting EX Layer is expressly targeting the hardcore competitor. While Arika has said that there are no plans for expanding the single-player element of the game anytime soon beyond an eventual arcade mode, it's showing that it's dedicated to maintaining the health of the community. Unfortunately, for such a competition-focused game, the netcode can be spotty, leading to some noticeable lag and occasionally frustrating matches if you don't have anyone to fight against locally. If you keep to high-bar connections, things usually go a lot more smoothly.

On a pure gameplay level, Fighting EX Layer is an absolute treat. What it lacks in bells and whistles it delivers in pure, fun combat. This is a game made for the sort of people who will spend hours perfecting an impractical, extremely-precise combo in training mode simply for the satisfaction of having done it. If that describes you, then Fighting EX Layer will be worth everything you put into it.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Fri, 13 Jul 2018 11:00:00 -0700)

Nintendo has all but cornered the market on streamlined, cute adventures for all ages. While Captain Toad made his first appearance in Super Mario Galaxy, he's since been spun off into his own puzzle-platforming series based on a very different type of design philosophy than you may be used to. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker debuted on the Wii U back in 2014, but as Nintendo moves much of its legacy system's library onto the Switch, Toad has another shot at stardom. And it's certainly a worthy outing--even four years on--for anyone who appreciates clever puzzles.

The core gameplay conceit is one of level design. You'll need to rotate a cuboid world around Captain Toad as you look for clues and solutions from multiple angles. Each move helps change the level, affecting how different parts react to one another and to you. As you turn the stage, you can see different pieces and elements. It's not uncommon to shift things around and notice a "POW" block in a convenient location. Toss a turnip from the other side, and you can dissolve a wall with its power and move through.

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Perspective matters, and the obstacles that can affect how you use your perspective are fertile ground for spectacular puzzles. And it allows a breadth of pacing options as well. Some stages feel tense and rushed, but some are set against calming pink clouds. A calm stage can be followed immediately by one filled with foes and traps, though, shifting where and how you focus your attention. The progression is steady enough--both within stages and across them--that you'll be left, more often than not, feeling clever and encouraged.

This is all true for both the Wii U and Switch versions, but the Switch version adds in a few things, most notably local co-operative multiplayer. Ostensibly a distinctive addition (as there's also a 3DS port that lacks it), it is poorly executed the majority of the time. Each player gets one of the Switch's Joy-Cons, splitting the typical play into two roles. One handles Toad's movement, while the other dispatches enemies and shifts the camera. It's a bizarre twist that could feel a lot more developed than it is. As it works, neither role gives much for its player to do and having enemies largely handled by one person cuts down on the scope of the platforming and the puzzles, making each stage feel like a cut-down version instead of a solid addition in its own right.

That said, the sharper screen on the Switch and addition of about a dozen new areas and modes make this version a strictly better choice, and the short, relatively simple stages of Captain Toad lend themselves to a portable environment. Of course, it also carries with it the weaknesses of its forebear. Even with the bonus content, Treasure Tracker is a bit short. You're left with the sense that there could be plenty more and that the idea of rotating through levels doesn't get its full due.

Despite a smattering of minor complaints, Captain Toad stands as a pint-sized version of Nintendo's stellar first party pedigree. It's among the best Mario spin-offs around and a delightful iteration on old ideas.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Thu, 12 Jul 2018 15:55:00 -0700)

The fifth season of “Steven Universe” has been full of surprises, but the Cartoon Network series saved the biggest one of them all for San Diego Comic-Con.

At the close of the show’s Saturday morning presentation featuring creator Rebecca Sugar and members of the cast, fans were treated to a short...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 21 Jul 2018 10:50:00 PDT )

Nightflyers is a novella by George RR Martin, writer of the Song of Ice and Fire series which was adapted into HBO's Game of Thrones. Now, Nightflyers is being adapted into a TV show, and Syfy released the first trailer for it at Comic-Con.

The novella was very well received, winning several awards and accolades including the Hugo award for best novella. It follows a group of scientists as they embark on a mission to find a race of alien nomads. The group gets on the Nightflyer spaceship, ready to explore, unaware that the man who captains their ship is murderously insane.

The trailer as well as the plot summary that Syfy has released offers a similar premise but with a bit of a twist. The earth is dying and the scientists are on a mission to find aliens who they believe can help. It doesn't mention anything about a crazy captain, but instead suggests that whatever they're looking for in space isn't nearly as frightening as whatever--or whoever-- is already on the ship with them.

The show is described as a psychological thriller, and there are some clips of what looks like hallucinations driving people insane, so I'd say we're in for a bit of a scare. Starring Eoin Macken (Resident Evil: The Final Chapter), Nightflyers will premiere this fall on Syfy.

San Diego Comic-Con 2018 Coverage

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Source: GameSpot Gaming Reviews (Sat, 21 Jul 2018 11:13:00 -0700)

With such amenities as a recording studio and a temperature-controlled garage, this gated compound seems suited for the bright lights of Hollywood. But it’s the quiet city of Claremont where the place sits on more than an acre of grounds.

Recently reimagined, the home strikes a balance between...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews ( Sat, 21 Jul 2018 05:00:00 PDT )

The Parkland students — survivors of a February mass shooting in Florida — brought their activism to Los Angeles this week as they try to maintain momentum in their push for greater gun control at the local and national level.

The students, part of a recently formed organization called March for...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 21 Jul 2018 05:00:00 PDT )

What do you call a hamburger made from meat that was grown in a giant vat, rather than from the ground-up flesh of dead cattle? Is it “meat,” “cultured meat” or something else entirely?

That sounds like the set up to a joke. But it’s an honest-to-goodness debate brewing among the advocates and...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 21 Jul 2018 04:05:00 PDT )

To the editor: Bringing art into the community, as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art proposes to do by opening several satellite locations, is never a bad idea. The emphasis should be on how we share art with the community, not where we share it.

However, part of the experience of viewing art...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 21 Jul 2018 04:00:00 PDT )

To the editor: The United States has spent some 70 years creating and fostering a trans-Atlantic alliance whose main purpose has been to halt or forestall any sort of Russian aggression. We did this through our membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a body that helped create a world...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 21 Jul 2018 04:00:00 PDT )
On the president's cardio workout of constant movement on Russia, and other observations from The Times' Opinion section. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 21 Jul 2018 04:00:00 PDT )

A group of guys walks into a bar, doesn’t like another group of guys, and a fight breaks out. Police officers stop the scuffle, and everyone goes home a little worse for wear. This is a nuisance so common that it could have happened anywhere.

For most of our letter writers, the scene that played...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 21 Jul 2018 04:00:00 PDT )

The first scene in the premiere of FX’s critically acclaimed and groundbreaking drama “Pose” is a high-energy trip into the underground world of New York City’s ballroom culture in the 1980s.

After swiping garbage bags full of gowns, crowns, jewels and fur coats from a museum, Elektra Abundance...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 21 Jul 2018 03:00:00 PDT )

As the sun rose over this harbor town, four scuba divers with cameras and notepads finned toward canopies of undulating kelp.

They were teeming with small fish that flashed kaleidoscopically vivid colors. The small fish attracted larger fish — opaleye, kelp bass, sheephead and bright orange garibaldi,...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 21 Jul 2018 03:00:00 PDT )

Hope you studied up on your geography because this week’s collection goes from coast to coast. A filmmaker set his sights on a coastal Midcentury, a news anchor offered up his forest retreat, and in the rocky landscape of the California desert, a historic ghost town traded hands.

For a master class...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 21 Jul 2018 00:05:00 PDT )

The newcomer found the silence in the locker room curious, with the players listening to music doing so with headphones, as was requested by their manager.

“Somebody turn on the music,” Manny said aloud.

From then on, there was music in the Dodgers clubhouse.

Matt Kemp laughed as he recalled the...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 20 Jul 2018 22:55:00 PDT )

The state agency that regulates physicians on Friday ordered USC’s former medical school dean stripped of his license to practice medicine, citing “an appalling lack of judgment” in his use of drugs and association with a circle of addicts and criminals while leading the major institution.

The...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 20 Jul 2018 17:50:00 PDT )
A psychopathic but oddly charming coke dealer shoots and blusters his way through “The Price You Pay,” a brilliant, blood-soaked (maybe) debut novel Read More

Source: The New York Times - Sunday Review (Thu, 12 Jul 2018 20:40:26 GMT )

Robert Scott Wildes’ dreamlike desert fable “Poor Boy” opens with a loose, rambling sequence that’s like a cinéma vérité version of “Cops.” It’s funny — a pair of police officers interrogate a pair of debauched brothers and a screaming woman about the case of an allegedly stolen lawn mower — but...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 12 Jul 2018 11:20:00 PDT )

Trying to straddle the space between “Primer,” “Dark City” and “Memento,” “7 Splinters in Time” ends up a frustrating trip to no man’s land. Despite an ambitious premise and style, the neo-noir sci-fi indie is a fractured narrative that can’t achieve what its lofty ideas intend.

Darius Lefaux (Edoardo...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 12 Jul 2018 11:20:00 PDT )

The Spanish molecular gastronomy restaurant elBulli (now closed) was considered the height of cuisine during its reign, and its head chef, Ferran Adrià, was lionzed as a legend. But what about his collaborators, specifically his brother, pastry chef and underrated legend in his own right, Albert?...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 12 Jul 2018 12:25:00 PDT )

The intimate documentary “Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda” finds the accomplished composer in a deeply introspective place in both his life and career.

Filmed over a period of several years during which time the iconic musician and vocal anti-nuclear activist was first diagnosed with Stage 3 throat cancer...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 12 Jul 2018 12:40:00 PDT )

Not every Hollywood marquee name’s life deserves a full-length documentary, but Marsha Hunt — ’30s starlet turned wartime character actress turned outspoken, blacklisted activist — has made the most of her glamour-tinged, humanitarian-focused century on Earth. (She reached that birthday milestone...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 12 Jul 2018 12:55:00 PDT )

“Jim Gaffigan: Noble Ape” is a filmed version of the actor-comedian’s sixth stand-up special, recorded live last October at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston.

And by “filmed,” I mean that director Jeannie Gaffigan, who co-wrote the quite funny material with husband Jim, simply aimed her cameras at the...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 12 Jul 2018 12:45:00 PDT )

Unlike most anthologies, the science-fiction omnibus “A.I. Tales” doesn’t have much of a unifying concept — not even “artificial intelligence,” which barely figures into any of the collection’s four stories. This is really just a shared bill of preexisting short films, most of which emphasize everyday...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 12 Jul 2018 12:55:00 PDT )

The importance of journalistic integrity can’t be overstated these days, which is why for all its flaws “Shock and Awe,” like 2017’s far superior “The Post,” is worth seeing.

Still, if this swift, entertaining film, set during the post-9/11 run-up to the Iraq war, brashly leans left, it has history...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 12 Jul 2018 11:50:00 PDT )

Retro throwbacks rarely go for the mid-'90s mix of 2D sprites and low-res 3D models, but along comes Octopath Traveler, a game that manages to both faithfully recreate the aesthetic and add to it in subtle yet meaningful ways. It's a great look, one that draws you into the world and delights you with small artistic touches that bring something magical to otherwise simple environments. Enemies and bosses alike are lavishly drawn despite the confines of the game's intentional low-res aesthetic. It's a similar treatment that you can find in a game like Final Fantasy VI, where rough sprites in the overworld transform into big, detailed illustrations in battle.

Taking pleasure in the dreamy, diorama-esque look of Octopath will satisfy you for a while, as will the immediately likable combat system, which implements a few small innovations to revitalize the otherwise traditional turn-based mechanics. What may ultimately trip you up, however, is the narrative--a collection of eight short stories each divided up into four chapters of increasingly higher difficulty. After picking a protagonist at the start of the game, you gather allies by travelling to their icons on a map.

This approach is viable in theory, but Octopath woefully struggles to weave interesting tales despite the wide range of personalities behind them. You get an intro, a spirited launch into a quest, a revelatory examination of people and places, and then a conclusion, each chapter lasting roughly one or two hours with a lot of drawn-out dialogue. Coupled with wildly varying English voice acting, it's all too easy to want to reach for the skip button when a story sequence slowly winds up. In these moments, everyone but the relevant character is relegated to being backseat companions, hidden away from view entirely. The only time your team acts as such outside of battle is during rare opportunities that you get a banter notification, which allows for a brief discussion between a couple of characters, dependent on who's in your party. These can be entertaining from time to time, but they are too infrequent and inconsequential to truly matter.

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It's no doubt disappointing to report that Octopath's stories are more or less a wash, but that doesn't mean the world is any less intriguing on its own. On the contrary, it's constantly refreshing to see how much care has gone into fleshing out run-of-the-mill NPCs, many of whom have peculiar backgrounds that outshine some of the more mundane major characters. Side quests allow you to explore these personalities a bit further than usual, but there's enough variety and colorful writing to make fly-by introductions worthwhile whenever you come to a new territory. Octopath's towns are brimming with excuses to look twice at the unsung heroes and villains that call your rest stops home.

NPCs feature other smart interactive touches that call upon your characters' individual strengths. Just like you'd inquire into backstories, you can steal belongings (or talk strangers into selling what you can't steal), allure them into following your crew and helping out in battle, or pick a fight with them in the middle of town--just a few of your options. Some of these actions carry a chance of success, and repeat failure in a particular town can temporarily kill your reputation, preventing further attempts until you pay the local barkeep to spread positive gossip about you to their customers. It's a punishment that's easy to overcome, and it's a little strange that you can so freely try to rob the same person ad nauseum until you succeed, but it's nonetheless great to have that added layer to exploration.

Without a broad objective steering your party across the world map, you're instead guided by icons that tell you where to pick up the next chapter for a specific character and what level your party should be to survive random encounters with beasts and brigands. The initial stops circle a sizable body of water in the middle, with each round of chapters shifting ever slightly outward towards the edge of the map. The procession of events and markers is measured in such a way to provide natural progress through each character's personal adventure. Keep up with the logical order and you may never have to grind for experience if you avoid fast traveling to previously visited locations.

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In order to activate a chapter, you need the relevant character in your party, but even if you neglect to cycle party members regularly enough to keep them on even footing by the time they're called upon, you can still carry a grossly under-leveled character into battle without too much concern. It's one of many reasons why Octopath's battle system feels so fresh: it's about what you hit the enemy with rather than how hard the hit lands.

Every enemy in Octopath is vulnerable to at least one particular element or weapon type, and most are vulnerable to three or more. A grid beneath their sprite in battle will automatically tell you how many vulnerabilities they have, but it's up to you to uncover the specifics by hitting them with everything you've got. When you successfully strike with a relevant spell or weapon, an icon fills in a space on the grid so you have a clear record of what to do throughout the battle and in future encounters. With these tactics in mind, your goal is to break your enemy's defenses by hitting them enough times with effective attacks to whittle away their shield. Once broken, an enemy will lose their next turn and remain in a highly vulnerable state where attacks hurt them a little more than usual.

Despite the lackluster stories that pull you through the world, Octopath thrives on its character progression and the temptations of high-level challenges and rewards.

The other important piece of combat is the battle point system. Battle points act as extra swings of a weapon in a turn, or as a means to power up magic attacks. Every character gets one BP added to their slate per turn so long as they don't spend BP, which will delay the accrual process by an additional turn. In most cases, saving up BP is a beneficial way to wear down an enemy's shield in one turn with a single character. But once an enemy is broken, BP is best used to fortify single attacks during that window of opportunity.

The concept of breaking enemies is paramount during boss battles (which often include a pair of sidekicks), long affairs that test your ability to remain focused on your resources, characters' turn order, and unusual dangers, like coordinated attacks against your party that can insta-kill characters when you least expect it. If you're fighting around the experience level that Octopath suggests for these fights, you may find yourself engaged in a 30-minute test of your ability to remain organized and focused. Common enemies will pose formidable challenges as well, but those fights go a lot quicker, and you're afforded more opportunities to flex your various skills for the fun of it, rather than to satisfy the punishing demands of excruciating bosses.

Your battle party is only as good as you make them, which means not only earning enough experience points to level up and learn new skills, but coordinating individual skillsets to diversify your options while also doubling down on your most effective attacks. Each of the eight characters starts with a distinct job, and as you explore the world, you uncover shrines that let you assign a secondary job as well--each secondary job is limited to one character at a time. Managing two jobs and equipping passive support abilities recalls RPG like Final Fantasy Tactics, but unlike such games that typically give you free reign to stuff your party with overpowered job configurations, Octopath smartly limits your options to prevent you from breaking the system.

You will no doubt come to prefer certain jobs over others, but some of the most valuable skills are tied to characters rather than their assignments. H'annit, the hunter, has the unique ability to capture enemies that can be summoned during future battles a limited number of times, whereas Alfyn the apothecary can make medicine mid-battle by synthesizing salves with expendable ingredients, for example. Between these unique character skills and the variety of jobs on hand, your party will transform on a regular basis to keep up with the demands of bosses and particularly finicky enemy types. This constant search for new strategies leads to a wonderful variety of experiences and accomplishments by the time you reach Octopath's end.

Despite the lackluster stories that pull you through the world, Octopath thrives on its character progression and the temptations of high-level challenges and rewards. The promise of new jobs, exciting boss fights, and powerful gear will inspire you to poke around every corner, and there are no shortage of discoveries to strive for. And all the while, you're treated to one of the most interesting and effective re-imaginings of a retro aesthetic around. Octopath will likely be a divisive game due to its fractured storytelling, but it's one worth playing despite its lesser qualities. Its high points are simply too good to ignore.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Thu, 12 Jul 2018 06:00:00 -0700)

A 4-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his 2-year-old cousin in a small San Bernardino County town Friday morning, authorities said.

San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies responded to the shooting, which occurred in the unincorporated town of Muscoy a little after 9 a.m. When they arrived...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 20 Jul 2018 14:35:00 PDT )

Federal authorities have obtained a recording, made two months before the presidential election, of Donald Trump discussing a payment to a former Playboy playmate who said she had an affair with him, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The former playmate, Karen McDougal, received...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 20 Jul 2018 09:20:00 PDT )

The onetime Encino Hills home of Maureen O’Hara, the late Irish actress who starred in such classic movies as “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Miracle on 34th Street,” has come on the market at $2.399 million.

Set behind gates, the single-story house rests on about an acre of grounds and has...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 20 Jul 2018 09:00:00 PDT )

An Orange County Superior Court judge has given the green light to Huntington Beach’s lawsuit opposing California’s “sanctuary state” protections for immigrants in the country illegally, denying the state’s attempt to delay it.

An expedited trial is scheduled for Sept. 27 before Judge James Crandall.

... Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 20 Jul 2018 07:40:00 PDT )

The Year of Legendary Pokemon rolls on with another pair of free Legendaries for Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Next month, The Pokemon Company is giving away two powerful monsters that originally appeared in Pokemon Black and White versions: Tornadus and Thundurus.

Continuing the trend of previous distributions, the Legendaries will be given out in different ways depending upon your region. US residents can pick up a free download code for the Pokemon at the electronics section of Target from July 13-28; those in Europe can download the Legendaries over the Nintendo Network via Mystery Gift from July 6-22; and players in Canada will receive a code in the Pokemon Trainer Club newsletter.

As before, the Legendaries can be redeemed in any seventh-generation Pokemon game, although the one you receive will differ depending on which version you have. In Sun and Ultra Sun, players will get the Electric-type Thundurus, while those with Moon and Ultra Moon will receive the Flying-type Tornadus. The Pokemon will also come at different levels and know different moves depending upon the game. You can see the moveset for each Legendary below.

Pokemon Ultra Sun

  • Thundurus -- Level 100 (w/Gold Bottle Cap)
    • Thunderbolt
    • Focus Blast
    • Grass Knot
    • Nasty Plot

Pokemon Sun

  • Thundurus -- Level 60
    • Discharge
    • Crunch
    • Charge
    • Nasty Plot

Pokemon Ultra Moon

  • Tornadus -- Level 100 (w/Gold Bottle Cap)
    • Hurricane
    • Heat Wave
    • Grass Knot
    • Tailwind

Pokemon Moon

  • Tornadus -- Level 60
    • Air Slash
    • Crunch
    • Tailwind
    • Rain Dance

The code you receive can be redeemed via the Mystery Gift feature from the games' main menu. After selecting it, choose the option to receive your gift with a code/password, input the code, and the Pokemon will be downloaded to your game. (Players in Europe must choose the option to receive their gift via the internet to download their Legendaries.) You'll then be able to pick your Pokemon up from the deliveryman waiting inside any Pokemon Center.

Since February, The Pokemon Company has been giving away free Legendaries for the seventh-gen Pokemon games. Following the Tornadus and Thundurus distribution, players will be able to get the Hoenn Legendaries Groudon and Kyogre in August. In the meantime, you can see all of the free Pokemon available for Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon right now.

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Source: GameSpot Gaming Reviews (Fri, 20 Jul 2018 07:15:00 -0700)

Federal, state and local firefighters are battling a 75-acre wildfire near the Cleveland National Forest, a fire department spokeswoman said late Thursday afternoon.

At least 240 personnel are fighting the blaze, which started about 3 p.m. at Skyline Drive and Burrero Way, near the entrance to...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 17:50:00 PDT )

President Trump, after coming under fire for even considering the idea, on Thursday decided not to allow Russia to interrogate a former U.S. ambassador and other Americans, as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin proposed during their summit in Helsinki.

“It is a proposal that was made in sincerity...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 11:50:00 PDT )

University of California regents on Thursday approved the first cut in tuition in nearly two decades and decided to again take on the issue of how many nonresident students should be enrolled as they wrapped up a two-day meeting in San Francisco.

Regents approved an $8.7-billion spending plan for...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 11:45:00 PDT )

Just days after the death of a Cal Fire bulldozer operator, two more firefighters were injured while battling the Ferguson fire near Yosemite National Park, officials said.

One firefighter broke a leg and was being treated in a hospital, and the other suffered heat-related injuries, authorities...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 11:45:00 PDT )

The way veteran boxing promoter Bob Arum sees it, his fighters Jose Ramirez and Alex Saucedo will “sell out Staples Center” in the near future.

“It will be a dream fight,” Arum says.

The junior-welterweights are bound for separate title bouts by the end of October, and in a joint conference call...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 09:45:00 PDT )

Less than two weeks after being released from jail following a February charge for domestic violence, former USC wide receiver Joseph Lewis IV was arrested again Wednesday night on suspicion of a felony.

Lewis is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail by the Los Angeles Police Department, online court...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 08:50:00 PDT )

Peter Facinelli’s Cape Cod-inspired home in Toluca Lake is on the market for $2.695 million. That’s $680,000 more than what he paid five years ago, records show.

The home sits a few blocks from Warner Bros. Studios. Facinelli played supervillain Maxwell Lord in the first season of the superhero...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 07:45:00 PDT )

To the editor: Office ties are a public menace? Yes! But the surprise to me was Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris’ reasoning that ties might restrict blood flow to the brain and should be made optional for men by their employers.

I thought the article would go on to say that — since ties are often...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 04:00:00 PDT )

For a century, professional baseball players were regarded as entertainers: see ball, hit ball, play in whatever city you are assigned, for whatever salary you are assigned, and keep your mouth shut.

In 1968, as Americans rose to let their voices be heard, so did the ostensibly privileged subset...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 04:00:00 PDT )

There are crucial moments in history when leaders must put aside petty rivalries and partisan politics and work together to address existential threats or other looming dangers.

Now is such a time.

Republican leaders in Congress need to stand with Democrats to proclaim publicly and unequivocally...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 04:10:00 PDT )

Last month, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri introduced a bill going after, of all things, nonprofits. The word “nonprofit” tends to conjure images of idealistic charities committed to saving vanishing forests, teaching underprivileged kids or counseling the victims of sexual assault....

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 04:05:00 PDT )

In a welcome bit of relief, California will avoid a convoluted, messy and completely unnecessary battle this November over breaking up the Golden State.

The California Supreme Court decided Wednesday to pull Proposition 9 — the initiative to break California into three states — off the November...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 04:05:00 PDT )

Under a perverse interpretation of federal law, tax-exempt nonprofit organizations supposedly devoted to “social welfare” can spend large amounts of money to influence elections without publicly disclosing the identities of their donors. But instead of cracking down on the use of “dark money” for...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 04:05:00 PDT )

When Forbes put Kylie Jenner on the cover of its latest issue and declared her one of the “60 richest self-made women,” the magazine seemed to think it was telling a simple, inspiring tale: About how the youngest child of America’s reality-TV royal family, the Kardashians, became an almost-billionaire...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 04:05:00 PDT )

Nicaragua is taking a dangerous turn toward civil war. Since protests and riots began three months ago, Nicaraguan soldiers, police and paramilitary groups have killed more than 280 people and injured 1,800 others.

The demonstrations were sparked in April by changes to the country’s Social Security...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 04:05:00 PDT )

Drivers along Highway 1 — coming and going to Big Sur — typically ignored Mud Creek. Most maps overlooked this most prosaically named feature along the California coast.

There were no landmarks here, nothing to call attention to anything but the road, which hugged a cliff high above the surf below....

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 04:00:00 PDT )

To the editor: During the past few months, the children of asylum-seekers have been ripped from the arms of their parents, exposing them to suffering and feelings of abandonment. Often, those who have been reunited with their families show signs of deprivation: weight loss, bruises, rashes and...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 04:00:00 PDT )

Before Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s jolting primary win over one of the most powerful House Democrats made her a fixture on cable news and the toast of progressives nationwide, there was the shoestring-budget video that got the base buzzing.

By election night last month, more than 1 million people...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 04:00:00 PDT )

To the editor: How to prevent police chases is an issue from the last century that still bothers us frequently. The problem can surely be handled more efficiently and expeditiously.

Recently, I watched a chase on TV that started in El Cajon and went through Santa Clarita; it included a procession...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 04:00:00 PDT )

“It’s been a real bucket list year for me,” Andy Garcia says. “I got to work with Cher and Diane Keaton.”

The actor, 62, is currently co-starring in “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” the sequel to the 2008 musical film, which opened Friday. He plays an innkeeper named Fernando, who duets with Cher...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 03:00:00 PDT )

Earlier this year, attorney Jennifer Marrow visited TomTop.com, an online marketplace, to buy one of the most popular toys in America.

The site based in China claimed it had a deal on the priciest version: the limited-edition L.O.L Surprise! Big Surprise, a rose-gold case with 50 small toys, including...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 03:00:00 PDT )

After a legal battle lasting more than two years, Costa Mesa and the company behind a plan to demolish the shuttered Costa Mesa Motor Inn to make way for an apartment complex have agreed to settle a lawsuit by an affordable-housing advocacy group.

The agreement clears the way for the motel’s owner,...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 03:00:00 PDT )

When British actor Damson Idris auditioned for the role of young street entrepreneur Franklin Saint in FX’s “Snowfall,” a drama set during the infancy of the crack cocaine epidemic in 1980s South-Central Los Angeles, he was given more than lines to read. He was issued a challenge.

John Singleton,...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 03:00:00 PDT )
Norm Laich has made a lot of the most compelling art of the last 30 years - assuming you know that "made" means fabricated for other artists. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 03:00:00 PDT )
A list of the must-see booths from the exhibition floor of San Diego Comic-Con International 2018. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 03:00:00 PDT )

Andrea Colucci’s long, slow slide into homelessness began, as it does for many, with medical bills.

At the age of 67, she had decided to finally transition as a transgender woman. Her insurer balked at paying her surgeon’s bills, so she put them on credit cards.

Then her post-surgery housing plans...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 19 Jul 2018 03:00:00 PDT )

"Custody" is a time bomb of the most devastating sort. The ticking starts slowly, almost imperceptibly, but it never lets up, never stops inexorably increasing in volume, until a conclusion as devastating as it is inevitable.

As written and directed by French filmmaker Xavier Legrand in a formidable...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Wed, 11 Jul 2018 09:45:00 PDT )

Keanu Reeves and Molly Ringwald, together again for the first time since, well, never. Unlikely costars despite being actors of the same generation, they play husband and wife in "Siberia" — though their collaboration, like many things about this puzzling film, is not what it seems.

Despite acting...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Tue, 10 Jul 2018 12:50:00 PDT )

“Gauguin: Voyage to Tahiti” is an immersive, strikingly shot, wisely telescoped look at the years — 1891 to 1893 — in which famed post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin escaped the artistic and financial struggles of his Paris life for the jungles of French Polynesia, where he would create some...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Tue, 10 Jul 2018 13:45:00 PDT )

From the opening title's splash screen, Sonic Mania's presentation is intoxicating. Its colorful, retro 2D graphics and vibrant '90s-inspired pop soundtrack is enough to make any Sega Genesis fan squeal in excitement. In this jointly developed game, Sega and members of the Sonic fan-hack community have created a loving homage to the blue hedgehog's glory days. But Sonic's latest outing isn't only concerned with reminding you of his past; though it is decadent in this regard. Sonic Mania exceeds expectations of what a new game in the franchise can look and play like, managing to simultaneously be a charming celebration of the past and a natural progression of the series' classic 2D formula.

Taking place shortly after the events of Sonic & Knuckles, the game's story sees Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles getting involved once again in a battle against Dr. Eggman--this time over a mysterious emerald artifact. However, the conniving scientist isn't alone; enlisting the help of the Hard-Boiled Heavies--a group of customized Eggrobos. But the story takes a backseat as the time honored premise endures: defeat Eggman and his baddies, and collect all the Chaos Emeralds.

Sonic Mania makes a strong first impression thanks to amazing visuals and music. Its presentation replicates the charming aesthetic of Sonic's earliest games with thorough detail. While the pixelated sprites of Sonic and friends are reminiscent of their Sega Genesis' counterparts, they take on a new life with a higher degree of detail and animation quality. The new effects add an extra layer of personality to the iconic characters that's a joy to see in motion.

On the other end of the spectrum, the game sports an assortment of new music tracks and remixes of greatest hits. They channel the New Jack Swing dance music stylings that heavily influenced Sonic's soundtracks in the '90s, remaining just as catchy and well-orchestrated here. Both visuals and music work together in Sonic Mania to build up an aesthetic that's evocative of earlier games, but in a pleasing style that feels contemporary all on its own.

On top of Sonic Mania's fantastic presentation, the game also controls like a classic-style Sonic game. You have the option to play as Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles; you can even work cooperatively with another player as Sonic and Tails a la Sonic 2. From the get go, the movement physics and overall feel of each character are distinct yet familiar, staying faithful to the originals. The gang's unique abilities remain intact, albeit with one exception: Sonic has a new Drop Dash, which allows him to quickly roll forward after a jump. It's a small addition, but it provides a handy new way to pick up speed or avoid incoming danger.

 It can feel exhilarating to pass through a multitude of pathways, especially at top speed.
It can feel exhilarating to pass through a multitude of pathways, especially at top speed.

Level design is at the series' best here, sporting 12 zones that are each meticulously designed with cleverly placed obstacles and varied pathways that keep you guessing. It can feel exhilarating to pass through a multitude of pathways, especially at top speed. No route ahead ever feels incorrect as you sprint through loops or hit springs launching you into different directions, and there are rarely any instances where the action halts without reason. And thanks to the visibility granted by the widescreen aspect ratio and the smooth framerate, your awareness and sense of control running through a zone feels better than Sonic's classic outings ever did.

It also helps that levels are designed around the abilities of each character. While Sonic can blaze a trail through a zone, Knuckles and Tails can find other paths beyond his reach thanks to their respective climbing and flying abilities, which often lead to new ways of experiencing the same stage. It's enjoyable to engage with the subtle ways each character interacts with the world and the conveniences they offer. And you're rewarded for taking the time to do so, as on some occasions, characters even get completely new levels to explore that are designed specifically around their abilities.

We all know where this goes...
We all know where this goes...

Sonic Mania closely follows its forebears, utilizing the exhilarating sense of speed that the 2D games charted their success upon. However, it never incorporates elements from the past purely for the sake of nostalgia; rather, it expands upon the familiar with new ideas of its own. This is most apparent when you play remixed versions of older zones from the first five games. Sonic Mania's version of Sonic 2's Chemical Plant zone introduces a mechanic where you constantly jump on jelly to bounce upwards to new parts of the level. Changes like this liven up the design of well-known levels, offering fresh and gratifying new experiences.

New zones, on top of offering a suite of charming visuals and catchy melodies, deliver plenty of inventive concepts that diversify and build upon the series' fast-paced level design. Whether it's by encouraging you to freeze yourself into an ice block to smash through walls, or challenging you to figure out a maze-like sequence of gates to reach the end of a zone, the ideas the game explores give it a strong sense of identity compared to the originals.

In the same style as Sonic 3, every level culminates in a boss fight--ranging from relatively simple, to demanding set-piece battles where you go head-to-head with Eggman and his minions. However, there are some fights that pay homage not only to past games, but early spin-offs from the Sonic's history, such as Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine and Sonic Fighters. There's also a fair number of more challenging battles that require more advanced tactics to beat. One has you dodging projectiles as you use a series of poles to propel yourself towards a spider robot. Boss fights offer a great balance of difficulty, steadily challenging and entertaining you in numerous ways as you progress.

The past and present seamlessly intermingle in Sonic Mania, answering your nostalgic yearning, while satisfying your thirst for fresh concepts.
The past and present seamlessly intermingle in Sonic Mania, answering your nostalgic yearning, while satisfying your thirst for fresh concepts.
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The more you play Sonic Mania, the more it rewards you with reasons to keep playing. Additional modes like Competition and Time Attack offer other ways to experience its levels. Aside from acquiring all the Chaos Emeralds to obtain the true ending, one of the most compelling reasons to replay zones come from Secrets--Sonic Mania's term for unlocks that give you access to new characters and abilities. For example, you can play through the entire campaign using Sonic's Insta-Shield ability from Sonic 3. You can even unlock "& Knuckles" mode, where a second player can play cooperatively with you as Knuckles instead of Tails.

For years the Sonic series has chased the legacy of its early games, constantly delivering experiences that either came close or failed to recapture the spirit that made them classics. Whether it was by getting wrapped up in story or putting too much emphasis on speed instead of level design, the newer games lost track of what made the originals great. Sonic Mania methodically uses its sentimental appeal to great effect, but in the process, it heals the wounds inflicted by its most disappointing predecessors and surpasses the series' best with its smart and interpretive design. An excellent 2D platformer, Sonic Mania goes beyond expectations, managing to be not only a proper evolution of the series' iconic formula, but the best Sonic game ever made.

Editor's note: Alongside Sonic Mania's physical release is a $5 update (included with the physical) that introduces new features that add even more diversity to the game's high-speed thrills. The most noteworthy addition are classic--albeit lesser-known--characters Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel, who each sport their own unique abilities. Mighty's ground pound makes for a satisfying way to pick up speed and dispatch enemies, and his resistance to spike traps is a nice bonus if you're more a player with an unhealthy desire to accelerate. On the other hand, Ray's momentum-based glide ability takes some getting used to, requiring you to alternate directions on the D-pad after jumping to maintain flight. The thrill of stringing together his high-flying antics with a well-timed jump onto an enemy or platform is well worth the effort to learn. Both Mighty and Ray offer subtle, yet substantial additions to the well-established formula.

Returning players are likely to spend the most time in Encore mode, a new campaign that takes you through remixed versions of the game's stages. But there's a twist: swappable characters replace extra lives. You start as Sonic and slowly accumulate the game's playable cast via item boxes and bonus challenges scattered across the stage. You can control and switch between two characters at a time, but when one dies, that character is lost and switched out with whoever you have left on reserve. Encore Mode is a welcome change-of-pace that makes Sonic Mania's already fantastic levels more tense and exciting. And the ability to play all five characters in a single mode makes the experience all the more varied and joyous.

Beyond these additions and small tweaks, including balancing fixes and the ability to use secret options in any of your save files, Sonic Mania is the same exuberant celebration of Sonic's past. While it was already a fantastic package on the outset, this new update makes it even better than before. If you missed Sonic Mania the first time around, now is the perfect time to catch up.

The original review text and list of good and bad points have been updated to reflect the current version of Sonic Mania. - Matt Espineli, July 10, 6:00 AM PT

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Tue, 10 Jul 2018 09:35:00 -0700)

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is taking his place back in the spotlight as he prepares for the release of his book next week.

Spicer, who had a famously contentious relationship with the news media when he worked for President Trump, will be making several television appearances...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 18 Jul 2018 12:05:00 PDT )

Netflix will launch a comedy radio channel with satellite radio provider SiriusXM next year, marking the streaming video company’s first foray into audio and the latest expansion of its comedy empire.

The channel will feature audio-only versions of Netflix comedy specials as well as content developed...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 18 Jul 2018 09:40:00 PDT )

Those who follow the X-Men franchise will already know who Jean Grey is. She is an extraordinarily strong telepath and a mentee of Professor X, who has helped her get her powers under control. Grey has appeared in several X-Men movies, but now, she is finally getting a movie that focuses on her story as she struggles to control her emergent alter-ego.

What It's About

When last we saw the X-Men, the band had gotten back together after the ancient Apocalypse had divided some loyalties. Realising that humankind would never be completely out of danger, Professor X decided to train the newcomers to become X-Men.

Set a decade after X-Men: Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix will follow Jean Grey as she begins to discover the full extent of her powers. The X-Men undertake a rescue mission in space which goes wrong when a solar flare hits them and brings out Grey's powerful and terrifying alter ego, Dark Phoenix, who has some seriously destructive tendencies.

Who's Who

Crew

  • Simon Kinberg, who wrote Deadpool and several of the X-Men movies, including X-Men: The Last Stand, which featured Phoenix's last on-screen appearance, will make his directorial debut with this film. He also wrote the script.
  • Famed composer Hans Zimmer is scoring the film.

Cast

  • Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones) is playing Jean Grey, the powerful young mutant.
  • James Mcavoy (Split) will continue to play Charles Xavier, a.k.a. Professor X, the telepath and leader of the X-Men.
  • Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) returns as Mystique, the shapeshifter.
  • Michael Fassbender (Assassin's Creed) will play Erik Lehnsherr, a.k.a. Magneto, the morally questionable metal manipulator and Charles Xavier's best frenemy.
  • Jessica Chastain (Molly's Game) will play a mysterious shapeshifter called Smith.
  • Evan Peters (American Horror Story) will play Quicksilver, a mutant with super speed. We last saw him as he joined the X-Men.
  • Tye Sheridan (X-Men:Apocalypse) will play Cyclops, a mutant whose eyes shoot lasers, and the romantic interest of Jean Grey.
  • Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse) will play Psylocke, a telekinetic mutant who was one of Apocalypse's horsemen, but parted ways with the X-Men.
  • Alexandra Shipp (X-Men: Apocalypse) will play Storm, a mutant with the ability to control the weather who joined the X-Men.
  • Kodi Smit-Mcphee (X-Men: Apocalypse) will play Nightcrawler, a friendly mutant with a dextrous tail that enhances his already superhuman agility. We last saw him joining the X-Men.
  • Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max) will play Beast, a mutant who has claws as well as extraordinary strength and intelligence.

What's Been Released So Far

So far, very little has been released in anticipation of Dark Phoenix. There is no trailer, but there are a few images, one of which features a few of the X-Men at what looks like a funeral, which teases a potential death in the film.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, some members of the cast and crew offered details on the upcoming film. Kinberg, the director, talks about how he felt very invested in this storyline after writing X-Men: The Last Stand, which is why he wanted to write and direct Dark Phoenix. He also talks about how Xavier's ego is one of the factors that leads to the accident that triggers Dark Phoenix. They teased at a plot twist in the film.

Sophie Turner also talks about studying schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder in order to prepare for the role because of how quickly she has to go from one version of Grey to another.

Interestingly, the movie's release was delayed due to extensive reshoots which changed some of the plot.

What We Want At Comic-Con

Mostly, we want to know more about the Dark Phoenix alter-ego and Jessica Chastain's character. Ideally, we would get a trailer, but sadly, 20th Century Fox is focusing on The Predator this year, which means that it's unlikely that we will get much information.

We're not expecting a lot from 20th Century Fox in regards to Dark Phoenix, mostly because of The Predator but also because Disney recently acquired the company and they have scaled back their Comic-Con presence quite a bit this year. So it seems that we'll just have to wait for the movie to hit theaters on February 14, 2019.

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Source: GameSpot Gaming Reviews (Wed, 18 Jul 2018 12:12:00 -0700)

Perhaps you missed out on the 2016 game Hitman. Maybe you didn't care for its episodic release schedule, or maybe you were waiting for the full game to come out the following year and let it slip by without playing it. Whatever the case, between now and July 31, you can play the game's third episode, Marrakesh, for free on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The free version is called Hitman - Summer Pack, and you can find links to it in the various digital stores below.

Each episode of Hitman is a new self-contained level that acts as a sandbox in which your job is to commit creative assassinations. The third episode brings players to Marrakesh, Morocco, where they can play through "The Gilded Gage" campaign mission, complete eight Escalation Contracts, earn 20 levels of location mastery (including six weapon/gear unlocks), and complete more than 90 challenges. Any progress you make will carry through if you purchase the full game, but you will lose access to Episode 3 once July 31 rolls around.

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According to an IO Interactive blog post, "Offering two targets, the 'Gilded Cage' mission challenges players to eliminate private banker Claus Strandberg, held up inside the secure Swedish Consulate, and army General Reza Zaydan, protected by his elite squad of soldiers at a temporary headquarters in the heart of the city. Both targets will be challenging to reach and both will, of course, have some entertaining special moments attached to them that will allow players to dole out some poetic justice."

Also included in the Summer Pack is the ICA Facility location, a training ground that essentially acts as a tutorial for the game. It includes a good deal of content on its own, with two story missions, two Escalation Contracts, and over 40 challenges.

From GameSpot's Hitman review: "This 2016 take on Hitman is a brilliant game. Expansive level design and nearly unlimited replay value courtesy of so many routes to your assassinations (and so many methods with which to carry them out) make the experience almost completely different each and every time you play."

At E3 2018, Square Enix announced a sequel to Hitman, coming November 13. Unlike the original, it won't be released episodically. You can pre-order Hitman 2 now.

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Source: GameSpot Gaming Reviews (Wed, 18 Jul 2018 11:14:00 -0700)

Josh Hader, the Milwaukee Brewers' pitcher confronted at the All-Star Game with racist and homophobic tweets he posted as a teenager, was ordered Wednesday by Major League Baseball to undergo sensitivity training.

The tweets dated to 2011, when Hader was 17. They surfaced during Tuesday’s game...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 18 Jul 2018 09:50:00 PDT )

Netflix will launch a comedy radio station with satellite radio provider SiriusXM next year, marking the streaming video company’s first foray into audio and the latest expansion of its comedy empire.

The station, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, will feature audio-only versions of Netflix...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 18 Jul 2018 09:40:00 PDT )

The history of Appalachia is one of exploitation and extraction — and dogged resistance to both. This region, my family’s home for seven generations, has literally powered American life since the 19th century. There is no song, labor union or machine built east of the Mississippi that does not...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 18 Jul 2018 10:00:00 PDT )

Los titulares fueron brutales.

"El mejor aliado de Putin", decía sobriamente la portada del martes de Le Monde.

"Trump le facilita las cosas a Putin", se hizo eco el diario alemán Die Welt.

"Trump 0, Putin 1", dijo el diario comercial finlandés Kauppalehti, jugando con el recién concluido torneo...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 18 Jul 2018 07:19:00 PDT )

Early in Evgenia Citkowitz’s thrillingly hushed and haunted novel, half-doting husband Michael recalls his third date with wife-to-be Catherine: “On a lucky hunch, he had bought tickets to a concert performance of Monteverdi’s ‘L’Orfeo’ …. The opera, written in Italian, retold the mythic story...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 18 Jul 2018 08:00:00 PDT )

This time it can’t end in a draw.

For the second time in four days, LAFC will meet the Portland Timbers at Banc of California Stadium. Sunday’s MLS game ended in at scoreless tie, but there will be a winner Wednesday at the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Though it’s the same team, LAFC coach Bob Bradley...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Tue, 17 Jul 2018 16:25:00 PDT )
The former labor secretary Robert B. Reich reviews two new books arguing for a universal basic income: “Give People Money,” by Annie Lowrey, and “The War on Normal People,” by Andrew Yang. Read More

Source: The New York Times - Sunday Review (Mon, 09 Jul 2018 09:00:06 GMT )
Alissa Quart’s “Squeezed” examines the problem of families at the upper edge of the middle class, struggling to survive financially in America. Read More

Source: The New York Times - Sunday Review (Wed, 11 Jul 2018 17:07:20 GMT )

After surging to first place in the National League West during the final week of the first half, the Dodgers stand on the verge of an acquisition which would increase their chances of returning to the World Series. As the All-Star Game played out on Tuesday night, the Dodgers were in talks to...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Tue, 17 Jul 2018 15:30:00 PDT )


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