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GIF GIF: ANIMEILLUMINATIEven in a genre as varied as fighting games, the Soulcalibur series has maintained a distinctive personality throughout several installments thanks to its fluid, weapon-based combat. Soulcalibur VI, which landed on store shelves just last week, continues this tradition, and both pre- and post-launch tournaments have provided some of the most exciting moments in modern fighting game competition thanks to gameplay mechanics unique to the franchise.Soulcalibur VI competition started long before its October 19 release. This year’s Evolution Championship Series featured a developer-organized side tournament for the fighting game months before its official launch. Watching the main stage finals live was one of my favorite moments of my trip to Las Vegas, thanks in part to Soulcalibur legend Marie-Laure “Kayane” Norindr’s return to serious play and the overwhelming Ivy skill of champion Sean “LinkRKC” Evers. SoCal Regionals, held in Ontario, California, in September, featured an impressive run by fighting game genius Dominique “SonicFox” McLean, who defeated Soulcalibur powerhouses like Daniel “Nofacekiller” Sanchez and Tommie “Tomahawk” Williams before eventually losing a neck-and-neck grand finals to Ryan “Signia” Huculak.In the wake of those tournaments featuring high-profile players, fans were poised to take Soulcalibur VI seriously before even getting their hands on the game. The competitive scene for its predecessor, Soulcalibur V, petered out relatively soon after release, but as Kayane emphasized to Kotaku last summer, players are hoping that this iteration will have a longer competitive lifespan. Now that Soulcalibur VI available worldwide, competition has begun in earnest, and so far, it looks promising. AdvertisementLast night, Red Bull Gaming Sphere Tokyo played host to one of Japan’s first post-launch Soulcalibur VI events as part of their weekly Fighting Tuesday tournament series. While the entire bracket showed just how much competitors have learned in just a week, the grand finals in particular included two particularly illuminating moments that showcase just how intense Soulcalibur VI competition can get.After the elimination of 39 attendees, the Soulcalibur VI grand finals came down to two competitors: Sawazuma, a strong Maxi player from the days of Soulcalibur V, and Sunkro, whose Xianghua made top 8 at the high-profile Battle Prologue in Nakano event held in the same Red Bull venue earlier this month. Neither player had faced much of a challenge up to that point, defeating most of their other opponents by a score of 2-0. Their championship match definitely provided some fireworks.Sunkro set the pace early on with a pair of dominating rounds. The first saw the Xianghua player bait Sawazuma into using Maxi’s Critical Edge (Soulcalibur VI’s version of a super attack). He waited for it to whiff, and then punished his opponent with his own Critical Edge. As the commentators noted, Sunkro could have closed out the round with a simple combo, but instead chose to make a statement. Right after that, Sunkro absolutely mauled Sawazuma and scored a perfect round to close out the first game.But Sawazuma wasn’t ready to give up. His solid Maxi play earned him two quick rounds in the second game, and he was able to stave off a comeback by Sunkro to take a third, tying up the game count at one win apiece. With momentum on both sides, Sawazuma and Sunkro entered the last grand finals game.AdvertisementIn the second round of the third game, Sunkro found himself on the wrong end of a sizable life deficit. With the time on the clock counting down, the commentary team pleaded with Sawazuma to simply run away; his higher health bar would’ve let him win the round, so long as he could wait out the clock. But Sunkro ensured that wasn’t an option through the use of a technique new to Soulcalibur VI. Soul Charge, a special state that strengthens characters and gives them access to new moves, has a secondary effect of freezing the timer when activated. This stopped the round clock with just three seconds left, giving Sunkro the few additional moments he needed to win another round. And what would a Soulcalibur match be without ring outs? Although every stage is different, most have areas where players can knock opponents off a cliff or into water, instantly winning a round no matter how much health the fallen player had left. This means that, in addition to watching their spacing and meter, players also need to pay attention to where they are in the stage and make sure they don’t put themselves in a position to be thrown into the abyss. Sawazuma came face-to-face with this possibility when Sunkro dodged a final launcher and put his foe dangerously close to the edge of the stage. From there, all Sunkro needed to do was land his own launching attack and kick Sawazuma over, cementing his grand finals win in the most Soulcalibur way possible. It’s still too early to label Soulcalibur VI a failure or a success as a competitive title. Fighting game competition is fluid, and future discoveries could make this game anything from a laughing stock in the community to a main game at the next Evo. The one thing that is certain, however, is that the latest Soulcalibur is already providing compelling gameplay for spectators, its unique mechanics setting it apart from the rest of the genre. If the Soulcalibur VI scene can continue producing tournament moments on par with Evo, SoCal Regionals, and Fighting Tuesday, I’ll do my best to set aside time and watch.AdvertisementIan Walker loves fighting games and writing about them. You can find him on Twitter at @iantothemax.

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Photo: PokimaneEarlier this week, one of the most followed streamers on Twitch, Pokimane, surprised viewers by kicking off her stream sans makeup. On Monday, the Fortnite player, podcaster, and IRL streamer decided she’d walk her fans through what it takes to do her makeup for one of those streams. It ended up touching off a wide conversation about women, makeup, and unrealistic expectations.Early on in the stream, Pokimane even predicted that there might be backlash to her showing her naked face, but she still felt like this was an important thing for her to do. “I know not having makeup on is unusual, and some people might meme me for it, or say whatever,” she said. “But I think it’s good to not always just be promoting ‘I look like this naturally.’ Because girls just don’t. When you have makeup on, you look like you have makeup on.”AdvertisementWhat happened next was, given the nature of the internet, inevitable: a barrage of insults pointed Pokimane’s way from men and teenage boys. Fortunately, this was quickly followed up by a wave of support for Pokimane, as fans and other streamers rallied behind her to point out that that people’s expectations were unreasonable, and that nobody’s face is naturally up to society’s absurd standards all the time.“Hate to break it to you, but if you think you’re going to find a girl who looks flawless with and without makeup, you’re going to have a hard time,” said Omen community manager and streamer Sloane. “Also you have to be really insecure to make fun of someone else’s looks. Time to grow up.”“People shocked about how Pokimane looks w/o makeup just outing that they probably haven’t had a girlfriend. Even worse outing that they’ve never had a female friend consider them close enough to hang out with no makeup on. Big yikes,” said League of Legends analyst Mark Zimmerman.Advertisement“If all these internet kids are surprised that Pokimane looks different without makeup, they’re going to be really surprised what I look like when I have yet to feast upon the blood of innocents to preserve my eternal life that day,” said game designer and streamer Brian Kibler.Other women streamers even began posting pictures of themselves without makeup, in order to demonstrate how much effort goes into it and that—shock of all shocks—they, like Pokimane, look different with and without makeup!“This is gonna sound crazy but…did you KNOW that girls aren’t born with black lines on their eyes, their skin isn’t flawless, and get this, their hair isn’t perfect when they wake up either???? WOW THIS IS SUCH CRAZY NEW INFO FASCINATING DISCOVERY,” said Twitch and Discord partner Girlwithyellowspoon in a tweet accompanying makeup-free pictures of herself.“For Pokimane and every girl in the world: Rock the bare look, or a face full of makeup,” tweeted Miisty, another streamer who posted a picture of herself. “Rock your hair all messy, or completely done up. You’re beautiful no matter what you decide to do. If you judge someone for ‘too much makeup’ or lack thereof, you can frick off dudes.”AdvertisementMen having unrealistic expectations of women’s appearances is hardly a new thing, but one of the central selling points of Twitch is the perceived accessibility of streamers. Viewers can, in theory, spend whole mornings, afternoons, or even days with their favorite streamers, getting a front-row seat to intimate spaces like their homes and bedrooms. That does not mean, however, that streamers can just let their hair down on stream. It may seem like they’re your virtual pal kicking back, having a laugh, and playing video games, but it’s a performance—one that can take a toll over time. This goes double for women, who are expected to look all at once flawless and natural, so as not to break the illusion that they’re just regular people chilling out.“When it comes to online personalities, especially popular ones, they’re often held to the same standard as your typical entertainment celebrity. In short, all perfect all the time,” Miisty told Kotaku in a DM.Pokimane, other streamers say, is very good at makeup, which may have added to viewers’ surprise at seeing her without it. “Her makeup is super clean and natural looking,” streamer and cosplayer Tiger Lily, who also posted pictures of herself in support of Pokimane, told Kotaku in a DM. “It accentuates her natural features rather than adding unnecessary focal points (like dark lipstick on a mouth or dark eyeshadow on the eyes, etc).”“If you don’t know anything about how makeup works, you might think she barely wears makeup at all,” Tiger Lily said. “So I think people were shocked when their perfect image of her was shattered by the fact that she doesn’t look like that all the time. They were shocked to the point that they thought they had been ‘duped,’ when in reality they were just ignorant about the ways makeup works and also ignorant to the pressures women face to look beautiful all the time.”AdvertisementBoth Miisty and Tiger Lily decided to post pictures of themselves because, among other reasons, they didn’t want Pokimane to feel like she was staring down the inconsolable hordes all by herself.“I just wanted to call out the fact that Pokimane chose to be brave, vulnerable and human with her fans, and that it was met with immaturity,” said Tiger Lily. “Even though I don’t know her personally, I didn’t want her to be alone facing all that criticism.”“To be honest I’ve never posted a picture with zero makeup and zero photo editing,” said Miisty. “For years the thought never crossed my mind, it was to always look Instagram/Twitter perfect. Makeup, no blemishes, filters, etc. I still look at the tweet I posted, and my stomach starts aching all over again. But I’m happy that I did it. To show support for Poki, women who are struggling with self image issues, and myself.”Though the experience can’t have been pleasant, Pokimane seems to be taking things in stride, reacting to a comment from a pro Halo player about how she’s “hoarding the world’s greatest skin care routine from the rest of us” by posting her whole skincare routine and thanking her supporters.Advertisement“I’m at peace with myself, my body

The Vatican has commissioned a mobile game called Follow JC Go, an AR title which is almost identical to Pokémon Go, only you’re out there collecting Saints and “blessed characters from the Bible”.It works exactly the same as Niantic and Nintendo’s blockbuster: you hit the streets and run into things you can capture, only instead of battling monsters, you just need to answer some questions from Saints and other Holy Folk.Corriere reports that in addition to tracking a user’s “hydration and nutrition”, it’ll also take note of your prayer count, and while the game features transactions, they come in the form of donations to charity.AdvertisementFollow JC Go was made for World Youth Day in Panama early next year, but the app’s already out, albeit just in Spanish. There are more languages coming soon.

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B-Boy Recreates Smash Bros.

GIF This is Martin Cochingco, a man able to take a bunch of ridiculously exaggerated video game animations and somehow recreate them in real life.Here he is recreating some select Smash Bros. victory animations, from Bayonetta to Sonic to Captain Falcon to Green Mario.And here he is with some friends doing some Overwatch animations:God damn that’s impressive.

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The Vermin Tide

Patrik Rosander is an artist at Fatshark, where he’s worked on games like Warhammer Vermintide II.You can see more of Patrik’s stuff at his ArtStation page.

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