The Rock Comments On the Passing of His Father, Rocky Johnson

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson took to Instagram to pay tribute to his late WWE Hall of Famer father, Rocky Johnson, who passed away last Wednesday at the age of 75 from natural causes.

Rocky Johnson had a decades-spanning career in the wrestling business, mostly during the industry’s territory days, and, with partner Tony Atlas, became one half of the first-ever African American tag team champions. Below is The Rock’s beautiful message to his father. Click the image to see the full video posted, which shows a pre-teen Dwayne Johnson sitting front row and watching his father wrestle.

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Click the image to see the full video!

Johnson ends his tribute with “You lived a very full, very hard, barrier breaking life and left it all in the ring. I love you dad and I’ll always be your proud and grateful son. Go rest high.”

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Johnson died from a blood clot that had traveled from his leg into his lung. Johnson’s friend, and former wrestler, Brian Blair related the news.

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Matt Fowler is a writer for IGN and a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow him on Twitter at @TheMattFowler and Facebook at Facebook.com/MattBFowler.

Frog Detective Is The Hero We Need In 2020

After a busy year of video games, the slower pace of January is a great time for us to go back and play some of the cool, smaller titles that we might have passed over while trying to keep up with the big blockbusters of the end of the year. In this article, we take a look at the wonderfully charming Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard, as well as two fiendish puzzle games for those who like a little more (well, a lot more) challenge: Superliminal and Kine.

In retrospect, 2019 was actually pretty rich for the indie scene, and it’s nice to see some of the games we’d previously mentioned in this column making it to a few best-of lists around the internet–if you missed them, you can go back and check out our takes on Eliza, A Short Hike, and Anodyne 2, as well as Mutazione, Wilmot’s Warehouse, and Fit For A King. Don’t sleep on these super cool games!


Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard

I feel like we could do with a bit more wholesomeness right about now. The second and, if the unexpected post-credits scene is accurate, evidently not the last in the Frog Detective Investigations series offers a welcome respite from the bleak realities of raging bushfires, corporate greed, and bellicose presidents. It’s a world without crime, after all, despite the confusingly-named Frog Detective Crime Solving Agency.

It’s also a world where the kind folk of Warlock Woods come together to throw a welcome parade to their devastatingly shy new neighbour, and reluctantly call in the services of the titular frog detective when they discover the parade preparations have been trashed. Everyone in Warlock Woods is just so damn nice… well, except for Victor perhaps, but he’s only a little grumpy because he’s so hungry. Still, they’re a friendly lot, a close-knit community of talking animals who have refreshingly progressive views on how to receive a complete stranger into their small town.

Actual detective work is light on the ground. You cannot leave your office to travel to the town without first collecting your trusty magnifying glass, but it’s a red herring really, and utterly useless for the task at hand. Instead, you’re best served by chatting with the townsfolk and making gentle enquiries as to their whereabouts on the night in question. There are some trifling puzzles to overcome to push the story forward, but for the most part, you’re here to enjoy the witty dialogue and revel in the whimsical nature of it all.

Be warned: this is a short game, as the Steam page makes very clear. In a sense, it’s almost a perfectly formed one, and best played in one sitting over the course of about an hour. The writing is sharp, the banter between the animals silly yet crammed full of genuinely smart and laugh out loud exchanges. It’s goofy without slipping into wackiness, and facetious without sliding into sarcasm. Hitting on a tone that’s just the right mix of playful and good-natured, Frog Detective 2 delivers a delightfully mischievous mystery to solve.

It’s like: LA Noire spent a Night in the Woods in the Animal Crossing village

Get Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard on Steam and Itch.io


Kine

A musical trio featuring drums, accordion, and trombone may not suggest ear-catching potential, but when the three are asked to jam in this pop-jazz puzzler it’s hard to resist toe-tapping along to the beat.

Kine presents a series of discrete spatial puzzles that sprawl out across a kind of big band infused cityscape. Aesthetically it screams–well, rather shuffles and struts–early 20th century New York, all bright lights and big beats and Broadway. Each puzzle takes place on a small grid and you must maneuver your musical instrument, whether it’s drum, trombone, or accordion, across the grid to a goal square.

The catch is that the block-shaped instruments can only be moved by rolling them on their side, a task that’s made trickier through the devious gaps in the floor and pillars that block the obvious path. Each instrument has different dimensions and movement mechanics to consider too–the accordion, for example, can extend either vertically or horizontally, changing its shape on the fly and thus the squares of the grid its now eligible to roll onto. The L-shaped trombone is even more complex. It can be reconfigured along two axes and is prone to find its movement impeded by the increasing number of obstructions around the grid.

The difficulty ramps up gently as you’re introduced to the three instruments in turn. Later levels become fiendishly fraught when the trio finally comes together and you’re required to switch between them to solve the puzzle. Moving the drums just so to create a new platform for the accordion to land on which in turn will open up a route for the trombone, and so on. These later levels encourage you to visualise the shape of the board several moves in advance, which is exhausting in the moment but thrilling to solve.

I had to take breaks after every few levels when my head was too cluttered with geometry. The compulsive, looping jazz soundtrack kept me returning, though, driving me forward onto the next puzzle grid of musical gymnastics with its percussive momentum.

It’s like: Stephen’s Sausage Roll by way of Cadence of Hyrule and Jazzpunk

Get Kine on the Epic Game Store and digitally on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.


Superliminal

Superliminal is a puzzle game about how we see the world, and how much your perspective on the world matters. And it really wants you to understand that its core mechanic is also a metaphor for the infinite ways we collectively see the world. We’ve all got our own perspective, but wouldn’t it be good if we could see things from another vantage point? Maybe a change of perspective might, you know, change some perspectives.

That core mechanic initially sees you able to pick up certain objects and alter their size depending on how they’re set back down into the environment. Walk real close to a tiny ball so it appears large, then pick it up and suddenly it’ll be enormous when you look up and drop it in the middle of a room. Conversely, grab something large from a distance and it’ll shrink in your hands, letting you set down a miniature version. It’s a startling effect the first time you see it, and that sense of wonder–that feeling you’re performing some kind of illicit dark magic every time you pick something up–only dissipates slightly over the course of the game.

Other mechanics are added to your puzzle-solving repertoire, letting you utilise negative space to your advantage or allowing the seemingly infinite replication of interactable objects, among others. Some of these additions are more successful than others, and while they do extend the palette of puzzle types, it’s that core “is it big or is it small?” conceit that conjures the most satisfying conundrums to crack, especially the second-to-last series of challenges that take the core idea and twist it back in on itself in an unexpectedly giddying manner.

The denouement to this Portal-esque series of puzzle chambers is a little anticlimactic in terms of its difficulty, though it never fails to throw up fascinating new environments that you’ll want to thoroughly explore. And it’s here where the “how about a new perspective?” narrative metaphor becomes laboured to a point verging on parody, though the earnestness of its all-too-obvious message did make me feel bad for rolling my eyes.

Don’t let the clumsy theme deter you, Superliminal remains an inventive and eye-opening puzzle game throughout.

It’s like: Portal enrolled at the Stanley Parable and brought a bag of Photoshop tricks.

Get Superliminal on the Epic Game Store.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore Beginner’s Tips: Fast Money, Leveling, And More

Getting Started On The Path To Stardom In Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is the re-release of the Wii U RPG from Atlus and Nintendo. It’s filled to the brim with J-pop, idol culture, showbiz, and classic Shin Megami Tensei demonic themes (though much more lighthearted). Now that TMS on Switch, it’s an opportunity for many more folks to give this somewhat overlooked gem a fair shot. And if you’re one such person, we have a few tips to help you find your rhythm.

Here, we cover many of the basics, like the inner workings of the combat system, some important items you should have at all times, and some small details that could go unnoticed. Carnage Unity and Radiant Unity upgrades are explained in the game, so we skip going through those systems. But we also dive into some ways to sort of game the system with a few pointers on how to get money fast and level up quickly.

For more on this wildly stylish RPG, be sure to read our impressions on Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore. You can also check out the original review from 2016 when the game first came out on Wii U.

If You’ve Never Played An SMT Game, Here’s How Combat Works

Shin Megami Tensei games are turn-based RPGs, and Tokyo Mirage Sessions uses that foundation for its own combat system. If this is your first rodeo, there are a few basics you should know about. Exploiting elemental weakness is at the heart of winning battles, but in SMT games, hitting a weakness not only does more damage, but grants extra attacks within the same turn. In TMS, these manifest as Sessions attacks, which we explain in more detail below.

You won’t know an enemy’s weakness unless you either defeat them once or hit them with the right element the first time around. To make things easier to track, highlighting an enemy when choosing an attack will list their weaknesses, and an exclamation mark will indicate which spell to use when scrolling through your spell list.

What most SMT/Persona games don’t have that TMS does is a timeline for turn order. You’ll definitely want to keep an eye on this since it’ll help you identify when enemies are due for attack–you want to prioritize killing enemies before it’s their turn, so target enemies that will attack sooner before those that attack later.

Session Attacks Are Crucial

Once you know how to exploit enemy weaknesses, you then line up what are called Session Skills. Each party member will gradually build up a number of them, but each one activates under certain conditions–Session Skills chain into combos when specific elemental attacks are used. It’s fairly easy to keep track of early in the game since you have fewer party members and simply accept all Session Skills you learn, but it’s something to be more mindful of later when you’re juggling much more with party composition and who gets what spells. Some fights can be difficult, so it’s absolutely necessary to plan around Session attacks in tougher battles and land big combos in a single turn.

Cheesing Your Way To Higher Levels

Encore comes with the DLC and extra content from the original TMS release. Right off the bat you’ll have access to what’s called the EXPeditous Hunter Training Area within the Bloom Palace. In that particular area, you’ll collect Tomes in the four corners of the first floor, and using one Tome on a character will boost their XP bar to about halfway–using two Tomes will bring them right up to the point of leveling up. The Training Area is very generous when doling out Tomes too, and they’re easy to farm since you can just enter and exit the dungeon repeatedly.

Cheesing Your Way Through Weapon Skills

There’s another dungeon in within the EXPeditious Hunter called the Mastery Area. And just like with Tomes, you can farm Skill Books here. Skill Books work similarly but instead boost the XP of a character’s weapon. Leveling up weapons is how characters learn new spells, abilities, and stat perks. This can help you in a pinch if you don’t want to grind in order to get the skills you’ll want before big fights.

Get Rich Quick Scheme: Cash For Gold

Furthermore, EXPeditious Hunter areas can also contain Gold Bars instead of Tomes or Skill Books, and that ain’t no problem. Gold Bars have no purpose other than to be sold at stores for a lot of money (50,000 yen, to be exact), and they can be farmed just as easily with repeated visits to these areas. Having a ton of money lets you stay on top of the newest accessories you can buy at the jewelry store to boost your armor and stats. But it also allows you to stay stocked up on important items.

Stock Up On Energy Drinks

With that cash-for-gold scheme, you can now ball out on anything you want, and you’ll always want plenty of healing items at all times. Energy Drinks are important because they restore full HP to any one party member–keep in mind that you can only carry 20 at a time, which should be enough for any boss fight. This also means you won’t need to relegate a character’s Command Skill slot to an individual healing spell like Dia or Diarama, making room for more elemental attacks and saving you the EP cost of healing.

Have Someone With Media / Mediarama / Mediarahan

While you can rely on Energy Drinks to heal single party members, it’s still important to have a way to heal the whole party in one turn. Early on, Media will be your best bet for an all-party heal, which Tsubasa can learn by leveling up her Silver Feather weapon. As the game progresses, keep an eye out for party members who can learn Mediarama and Mediarahan, which are stronger versions of the all-party healing spell.

Protect Yourself With Spells, Stones, And Soda

A big part of keeping your party battle-ready is to use buffing spells such as Tarukaja, Rakukaja, and Sukukaja, which increase attack power, defense, and hit/evasion respectively. There are items that impose the same effect for your party, but you can only keep five in stock at a time.

Two important buff-related items you’ll want to have on hand are Dekaja Stones and Dekunda Stones which negate stat buffs on enemies and stat debuffs on your party, respectively (and you can keep 20 at a time). As for dealing with status effects like poison or sleep, be sure to have Amrita Sodas on deck, which also let you skip having to rely on the Amrita spell.

Have Elemental Stones Just In Case

Since you still have so much cash from dealing gold bars, it’s smart to stock up on other useful items like Maragi, Mabufu, Mazio, and Mazan Stones. You won’t want to rely on these too much since they won’t hit as hard as stronger spells, especially from characters with high magic power. They come in handy if there’s an enemy weakness not covered by your party’s spell composition or when you want to hit several enemies at once.

Characters Not In The Party Level Much Slower

One thing to be mindful of is that characters outside of the combat party won’t gain experience points at the same rate as those who are. Over time, they’ll fall far behind in levels, and you might be inclined to swap them in at certain points to use their particular strengths and abilities. With plenty of Tomes in hand, keeping them up to the general level of your party is a cinch.

Restore HP And EP At The Cafe

Admittedly, I was wondering where to restore my party to full HP and EP for the first couple hours (other than the green aura in the prologue dungeon). I found out that going to Cafe Seiren in Shibuya (Central City) and getting anything on the drink or food menu will take care of that. It’s only 400 to 500 yen, too.

Always Go Into Boss Fights With Full SP

It’s always smart to go into boss battles with full HP and EP, of course, but it’s also important to build up your party’s SP meter beforehand. Think of SP attacks, or Special Performances, as a the Limit Break or all-out attack of Tokyo Mirage Sessions. These tend to deal very high damage and always initiate subsequent Session attacks, so you’ll want to save them for the tougher fights.

Manually Save Your Game Often

Unfortunately, like its Wii U version, TMS#FE Encore doesn’t have an autosave feature. At least you can manually save your game at any point outside of battle, you just have to remember to do so. It’d be frustrating to spend two hours making progress in a dungeon only to have the party wipe in a Savage encounter you didn’t intend on fighting.

Trails Of Cold Steel III Is Coming To PC With Enhancements In March

During a livestream for a PAX South panel, publisher NIS America announced that it is bringing the third entry in the cult-hit Japanese RPG series Trails Of Cold Steel to PC. Fully titled, The Legend Of Heroes: Trails Of Cold Steel III, it originally released on PS4 in September 2017 for Japan and October 2019 in the West, and a Switch version is due later this year. However, those who are looking to continue the Cold Steel saga on PC can do so on March 23, 2020.

Cold Steel III continues the story of main character Rean Schwarzer and friends from Class VII navigating tense political drama and the terrors of war as they grow into young adults and take on new roles in life. The series incorporates story elements from the Trails In The Sky series (and other Japan-only entries) as all these games take place in the same universe.

When it comes to this version in particular, Cold Steel III gets the enhancements that came with the previous two games on PC. This includes native 4K support, ultrawide 21:9 support, an uncapped framerate, and a bunch of graphics options. Another important inclusion is turbo mode, which lets you fast forward 2x, 4x, or 6x the game’s speed at any point.

For more on the series, be sure to read our in-depth interview with developer Falcom’s president Toshihiro Kondo about Trails Of Cold Steel and how it fits into the larger RPG landscape. If you’re looking to take the game on the go later this year, you can check out our Cold Steel III gameplay on Nintendo Switch. Trails Of Cold Steel IV closes out the series, and while it’s been out in Japan since 2018, there’s currently no word on a Western release.