Fireside 2.1 (https://fireside.fm) Tales from the Backlog Blog https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles Wed, 05 Oct 2022 00:00:00 -0400 Tales from the Backlog Blog en-us Tales from the Backlog 46: Resident Evil 4 https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/re4 Wed, 05 Oct 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com 169412e9-22ed-4598-b2af-f9f02318f5ef In episode 46 of Tales from the Backlog, Dave is joined by Michael Mays to discuss Capcom's pillar of both survival horror and 3rd person shooters, Resident Evil 4. This is becoming a trend this summer/fall on Tales from the Backlog. Yet another critically and nostalgic...ally(?) loved game that I never played, and a horror game to boot! I had convinced myself of several things before playing Resident Evil 4:

  • I was sure that I would never play a Resident Evil game. I had never played one before, except for a light gun game at Dave & Buster's. I don't really like horror games, and I had heard people talk about how some games in the series, like RE7 are incredibly scary.
  • I was sure that I would hate this gameplay. I had seen videos of zombie enemies slowly wandering toward the player, I had seen how you're not able to move and shoot at the same time, and I had seen how many bullets some of the enemies take to bring down. I was SURE that I would hate this.
  • And when I first started Tales from the Backlog (almost a year ago!), I reached out to a lot of my video game friends to see who wanted to come on the show, and Michael Mays responded "Let me know if you want to do an episode about RE4", I was SURE I would never do that.

Luckily for everybody, I was wrong on all counts. This game rules! And I hope you enjoy the episode!

You can listen to episode 46 of Tales from the Backlog (Resident Evil 4) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Tales from the Backlog 45: 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/13sentinels Wed, 28 Sep 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com 171a99d5-29ce-4866-aabb-fdcb624d22e8 In episode 45 of Tales from the Backlog, Dave is joined by Rick Firestone from Pixel Project Radio to discuss Vanillaware's mind-melting sci-fi adventure, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim On its surface, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is not a game for me. It's half visual novel (I've never played one) and half real-time strategy (I really, really don't like these), and it's all in a very anime aesthetic (Dave repellent). So Dave, you might ask, Dave why the hell did you play this? Well, voice in my head, I like to read video game reviews, and I had heard that the story of 13 Sentinels was incredible, and a great story can carry a lot of weight for me. So I checked out a review on one of the popular gaming websites, I forget which one, and the reviewer activated my killphrase. They said, quoting from memory here, "13 Sentinels has a story reminiscent of the television show LOST," and as soon as I read that, I said "god damnit!" out loud, closed my laptop and added it to my ps4 wishlist.

And you know what? God damnit, they were right! LOST spun a complicated web, constantly introducing four new questions for one question it resolved. Granted, LOST handwaved away many of its impossible questions with the secret answer of "it's a magical island", but it sustained such a feverish internet fan base through constant cliffhangers and new plot threads. This is also how 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim tells its story. You start small, but quickly expand into mysteries and ideas far beyond what you might even imagine by reading this. Of course, I won't spoil anything in this blog, but that type of storytelling is extremely my shit, and here's the kicker- it sticks the landing! Any major question that gets brought up gets a satisfying answer, which is truly remarkable when you realize that every attempt to tell the story quickly gets into Pepe Silvia territory.

And so it's my great pleasure to discuss this mindfuck of a game with frequent guest Rick Firestone. Rick hosts a wonderful show called Pixel Project Radio along with his co-host Ben, and it gets my absolute highest recommendation. PPR does deep dives on video games, in a similar vein as Tales from the Backlog, but their show includes a beat-by-beat story breakdown with all of the perspective, intelligent conversation and love that you would want. They also do one-off episodes, like video game music (they're both trained musicians), Studio Ghibli movies, and a beginner's guide to visual novels (perfect for 13 Sentinels fans looking to expand). Check them out via THIS LINK, you won't regret it.

You can listen to episode 45 of Tales from the Backlog (13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Tales from the Backlog 44: Undertale https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/undertale Wed, 21 Sep 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com 85d1971e-502b-4c8d-8ecb-ed55af261152 Dave is joined by Eric Gess from The Unlockables podcast to discuss Undertale. Last week in the Chrono Trigger blog, I discussed the issues I had with trying to capture 30 years of other poeple's nostalgia when coming to a fan favorite game late. Well, in this case I wasn't 30 years late, but in some ways the fandom for Undertale is even louder and more rabid than for Chrono Trigger. One thing I did have going for me with Undertale, however, is that for all of the people yelling about it (positively and negatively), I avoided most spoilers for the game, except for the fact that you can kill things or not.

So once again, off on the quest to see what millions of screaming internet denizens love about a game, and I've gotta say....Undertale is ok! I enjoyed most of my time with the game, and there were some real standout moments, bolstered by a god-tier soundtrack. And as I was playing, I was given plenty of things to think about- perfect for an episode of Tales from the Backlog.

Joining me in episode 44 of Tales from the Backlog to discuss Undertale is returning guest Eric Gess, host of The Unlockables. Eric describes The Unlockables as "The story of video games, the people who play them, and the memories made along the way." Eric has really made a name for himself as a truly great guy who interviews other gaming content creators, and he has recently embarked on his quest to organize and tell the complete story of Kingdom Hearts in his Guiding Keys: The Story of Kingdom Hearts series. You can find The Unlockables by following this link!

You can listen to episode 44 of Tales from the Backlog (Undertale) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Tales from the Backlog 43: Chrono Trigger https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/chronotrigger Wed, 14 Sep 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com 8250ac2d-8daa-43b1-a1cc-176cc83e69b7 Dave is joined by Josh Covel from Still Loading podcast to discuss Chrono Trigger. Do you have a game in your history as a gamer that you didn't grow up loving, but seemingly all of your friends did? I grew up playing the GameBoy and Nintendo 64 primarily, which are both great consoles that left me with lifelong memories, but they're both lacking in one major genre- JRPGs. My first JPRG was probably Golden Sun, all the way on the GameBoy Advance, or maybe Final Fantasy VI, also on the GBA. But all this time, I had heard from friends about this incredible game for Super Nintendo called Chrono Trigger, but used cartridges were expensive, even back then. So in the end, Chrono Trigger fell into that list of games that I would have liked to play, but thought I wouldn't get the chance.

Fast forward to 2020, when I was looking through the iPhone App Store for a game to play on my lunch breaks at work. Square Enix had ported some Final Fantasy games for iOS, but lo and behold, there was Chrono Trigger! So I bought it, played on my lunch breaks, thought it was fine, and put the game down. It wasn't until a few years later when I realized that I just don't jive with RPGs on my phone- too tough to pay attention. Chrono Trigger ended up getting a second chance on my new (used) 3DS- and the rest was history. An episode of Tales from the Backlog was bound to happen.

Joining me for episode 43 of Tales from the Backlog is Josh Covel, host of Still Loading. Still Loading is a video games variety podcast, self-described as "a podcast on video games, their culture and their history", with episodes ranging from game reviews, retrospectives, developer interviews and podcaster interviews. Josh has been doing Still Loading for a long time, and this is a professional show with great insights into game development, storytelling and content creation. You can find Still Loading on Twitter, Instagram, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Twitch.

You can listen to episode 43 of Tales from the Backlog (Chrono Trigger) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Tales from the Backlog 42: Spec Ops: The Line https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/specops Wed, 07 Sep 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com 57d4c649-3ead-4ff7-8209-4c2af4720882 Dave is joined by Chris Coplien from Retro Hangover to discuss Spec Ops: The Line. We're up to episode 42 of Tales from the Backlog, yet one of the world's most popular gaming genres has been absent thusfar- the military shooter. I believe that a lot of the popular franchises serve as enlistment propaganda, and I just generally don't like shooters in general, unless there is something interesting going on. For example, if you just take a look at the box art for Spec Ops: The Line, there is nothing indicating that it would be anything more than your standard game set in a desert place where you're killing terrorists.

So imagine my surprise when I start listening to video game podcasts years and years later and start hearing how Spec Ops: The Line is being lauded for going where military shooters (and video games) rarely go, telling an unforgettable story with a depth that can only be fully uncovered by playing the game multiple times. Add in some competent 3rd person shooter gameplay with suprisingly good enemy and team AI, and you have the recipe for a special game- so special that I sleeved the entire game in one 6 hour play session.

Joining me in episode 42 of Tales from the Backlog is Chris Coplien, one of the hosts of Retro Hangover. Retro Hangover is a retro games podcast covering all kinds of games from years past, and Chris and his co-host Shane have a great dynamic that makes it a very entertaining show. Retro Hangover is Backlog Approved and you can find their show by following this link.

You can listen to episode 42 of Tales from the Backlog (Spec Ops: The Line) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Tales from the Backlog 41: The Last of Us https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/thelastofus Wed, 31 Aug 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com cd92bd36-d212-4f2d-9558-1df26591267f In episode 41 of Tales from the Backlog, Dave is joined by Ben Robinson from Play Along Podcast to discuss The Last of Us. Last week in the Outer Wilds blog, I said that some games deserve a second chance. Well, it turns out that for the second week in a row, some games deserve a second chance. The first time I played The Last of Us (Naughty Dog, 2013), I thought that the story was as advertised, but had a lot of trouble clicking with the gameplay and eventually got frustrated and quit. But some games deserve a second chance. Almost 10 years later, I decided to give it another shot with the help of a trump card- Easy mode. Naughty Dog has a bad habit of making enemies into bullet sponges, and Easy mode eliminates that frustration. With that on my side, I was finally able to play through The Last of Us to the end (and what an ending it was!) to prepare for a discussion on the podcast!

Joining me in episode 41 to talk about The Last of Us is Ben Robinson from Play Along Podcast. Play Along Podcast is a games club podcast that breaks games down into small sections and meets each week to discuss. A typical game takes them several weeks to complete, so anybody can...play along. They also do a fun side series called Get Rec'd, where one of the hosts and a guest recommend a game to each other, play as much as they can, and then meet to discuss. I recommend the show, and you can find everything Play Along at this link!

You can listen to episode 41 of Tales from the Backlog (The Last of Us) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Tales from the Backlog 40: Outer Wilds https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/outerwilds Wed, 24 Aug 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com b929403c-1dd1-4c37-96c0-db895716e5f7 In episode 40 of Tales from the Backlog, Dave is joined by Keith Gasper of The Main Quest podcast to discuss Mobius Digital's 2019 open-world space exploration sim, Outer Wilds. Some games deserve a second chance. The first time I played Outer Wilds, I enjoyed the mystery and the experience of exploring a mini solar system, but got very frustrated by what I thought was supposed to be an opening area and a [REDACTED] mechanic that resulted in a lot of wasted time. I then became "the one guy in the channel who didn't like Outer Wilds", which was kinda fun for a while, but I always had a nagging thought that told me to give the game another shot. Nothing worse than the feeling that everybody else is "getting it" while you don't, right?

So I decided to give it that second chance, and I'm glad I did. There are a lot of things to commend Mobius Digital for, but the fact that they created a fully open-world, clockwork solar system to explore with state changes and unique mechanics for each planet is truly a marvel. It would have made one hell of a tech demo (and it did!), but they also managed to weave one of gaming's most engrossing stories into this clockwork system. The result is a game driven by exploration and the desire to learn more, as opposed to the carrots that so many open-world games dangle in front of players to entice them to explore. And despite some big frustrations with one late-game section, I will forever be impressed by what Mobius accomplished here.

Joining me to discuss Outer Wilds is the host of The Main Quest podcast, Keith Gasper. Keith is a great podcaster, an even better dude, and a returning guest on the show, previously heard on the Earthbound episode. The Main Quest podcast is Keith's personal journey to revisit every game he played throughout his childhood and early adulthood, burning down the nostalgia within...or not! It's a great podcast, and he doesn't just play the hits. You can find everything Main Quest via this link.

You can listen to episode 40 of Tales from the Backlog (Outer Wilds) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Tales from the Backlog 39: Deathloop https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/deathloop Wed, 17 Aug 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com e3fd9f16-58dc-4eb6-8005-74d97a3c6d8f In episode 39 of Tales from the Backlog, Dave is joined by Morgan Remington from Intergalactic Pinecone to discuss Deathloop. Arkane Studios has long been one of my favorite developers, occupying the rare space in the pantheon where no matter what they put out, no matter what direction they choose for their newest game, I know that I will play it and probably enjoy it. Dishonored and Dishonored 2 were both level design and power fantasy treats, while Prey took a space station alien invasion plot in very interesting and surprising directions. But despite the permissive, play-your-way game design at the core of these great games, I always tend to play them the same way. Sneak around, plan a route, sneak around in the shadows or along rooftops or hanging structures, quicksave, get caught, quickload, and try again. Despite having the tools to go loud and cause mayhem, I always default to the quiet play style.

Enter Deathloop. In a world that resets at the end of each day, why not throw caution to the wind? That's the question that Deathloop is asking, both mechanically and thematically. Its characters are a collection of the worst people possible, and your (the player's) mistakes are wiped clean at the end of each day. Why not have a little fun? Deathloop is a flawed game, but it scores one resounding victory over its predecessors- it's finally more fun to go loud.

Joining me to discuss Deathloop in episode 39 of Tales from the Backlog is Morgan Remington, a Twitch streamer and pocaster and captain of the Intergalactic Pinecone. Morgan streams all kinds of games, but you can find all kinds of Nintendo games, from Donkey Kong Country to Monster Hunter over on his streams. You can check out Morgan and all things Intergalactic Pinecone on Twitch, on YouTube, on Twitter, and on Instagram.

You can listen to episode 39 of Tales from the Backlog (Deathloop) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Tales from the Backlog 38: Vampire Survivors https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/vampiresurvivors Wed, 10 Aug 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com 2530face-a1b7-472e-94c3-377c5f876e8e In episode 38 of Tales from the Backlog, Dave is joined by Chris Rettig to talk about the roguelike that came out of nowhere to take the gaming world by storm, Vampire Survivors. Make sure you're sitting down before you read further. Are you sitting down? What I'm about to write might shock you, so just, for your safety, take a seat. Ok. (Deep breath). I play a lot of video games, and I listen to a lot of podcasts about video games. I feel like I'm pretty close to the goings on in the video game world. Despite that, sometimes a game seemingly comes out of nowhere to take the gaming world by storm. Vampire Survivors was that game in late 2021, when suddenly every single one of those "what are you playing lately?" sections in video game podcasts was just full of talk of screens filled with projectile weapons, taking out hundreds of enemies at a time, collecting lots of shinies...so I did what any of us do, I filed it away in the "That Sounds Cool, But I Have Too Many Games Already" box and put it on my Steam wishlist, where it would be doomed to languish for years and years despite costing $3 full price.

Enter my good friend Chris Rettig, who spent that princely sum of $3 to gift me a copy of the game, and it probably took about one or two minutes before I suddenly understood why everyone was in love. Vampire Survivors is pure video game- no story, rpg mechanics, crafting systems, enemy movesets or character arcs. Enemies walk slowly towards you, your weapons autofire, and all you have to do is move your character around. Kill things, pick up shinies, level up and pick a weapon, and repeat while the hours melt away. This turned into a game where I would start a stream in the Tales from the Backlog Discord server with the intent of playing one or two rounds, then 3 and a half hours later I finally pull myself away, and it quickly became a game I spent more than enough time on to talk about on the podcast.

Joining me for episode 38 of Tales from the Backlog is the aforementioned Chris Rettig, a good friend and slinger of the best locally roasted coffee beans in the Eastern Hemisphere. Chris is a first time guest on this show, but he was a guest on my other show, A Top 3 Podcast on our Top 3 Standup Comedians episode. He's a big video game fan, and if you live in the Seoul, Korea area (which I know some of you do!), you owe it to yourself to check out Groove Coffee Roasters.

You can listen to episode 38 of Tales from the Backlog (Vampire Survivors) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Tales from the Backlog 37: Mega Man X https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/megamanx Wed, 03 Aug 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com 4e2a4150-7a62-4764-89c1-871145c4ece8 In episode 37 of Tales from the Backlog, Dave is joined by returning guest Chris Nelson to try to retroactively access other peoples' nostalgia for Capcom's 1993 classic, Mega Man X. I grew up playing video games, starting in the mid-90s with a Game Gear, then a Gameboy Pocket in 1998, and a Nintendo 64 a year later. I have nostalgia for a lot of those games, and remember everything about those early Pokemon games, for example. Conspicuously missing from my gaming history, however, are the NES and SNES. I played them at some friends' houses, but never more than a few minutes at a time, and holy shit now that I'm thinking about it, had I even beaten a Super Nintendo game before playing Chrono Trigger and Mega Man X until this year?

Through the past several years of living in Video Game Land and talking games with people all the time, the Mega Man X games (especially the first one) were repeatedly brought up among the greats from the SNES, so I decided to give it a try. I had played a lot of the Mega Man Battle Network games for the GBA, Mega Man is cool, right? Aaaaaand I absolutely hated it. I got through the tutorial mission, but I couldn't get any further than that. And so that's how it was for about a year, when I began to torture myself with that thought of "Yeah you didn't have fun with that game, remember? Why don't you not have fun with it AGAIN?". So I did. And I managed to get through it this time! And even though I can say that I didn't have a whole lot of fun playing it, I'm glad I did, so that I can get a faint whiff of secondhand nostalgia from some of the members of the Tales from the Backlog community.

Joining me for episode 37 of Tales from the Backlog (Mega Man X) is Chris Nelson. Chris is a longtime friend and returning guest on the show, previously heard on episode 20 (Blasphemous). Chris actually did grow up playing Mega Man X, so it was fun to compare our personal histories with it, and I really like this episode. I hope you do too!

You can listen to episode 37 of Tales from the Backlog (Mega Man X) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Break from the Backlog: Elden Ring Bosses Tier List https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/eldenringbosses Wed, 27 Jul 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com 88261264-50c0-421b-905b-18c93e27fb9b In this Break from the Backlog episode of Tales from the Backlog, Dave is joined again by Jim Rodeman to tier-rank the bosses in Elden Ring. Elden Ring is a game with a lot of stuff- a lot of caves, a lot of catacombs, a lot of items, a lot of NPCs, a lot of deaths, and you guessed it, a lot of bosses. And while there are only a dozen or so bosses that are actually required to finish the story, there are well over a hundred bosses in the game, from end-of-catacomb repeats like Ulcerated Tree Spirts to absolute wall bosses like Soldier of Godrick. It's something I really enjoyed about the game, and one of the few ways that I think Dark Souls 2 was kept in mind when designing Elden Ring. That game has a lot of bosses, and some of them are laughably easy. And in a series as difficult as Souls, I appreciate an easy win every now and then. Elden Ring continues this- I rarely died to a boss at the end of a cave or out in the field, but the rewards are usually pretty good, and it just feels great to one-try a boss.

And so, as is tradition on Tales from the Backlog, there had to be an episode where we tier rank the bosses. Now, because there are a million bosses in the game, I used a tier list that only included enemies marked as "Great Enemy" and above- 33 bosses in total. There are a few notable omissions from the list, but I felt good about this one. Joining me for this episode is a return guest on the show- Jim Rodeman. Jim was previously on the Hollow Knight and Hades episodes of the show, and I wanted to get his perspective on the bosses because his only experience with FromSoftware in the past was Dark Souls, and that was only a few years ago.

Here are our tier lists, and you can listen to the episode for our explanations:
Dave:

Jim:

And as always, we encourage you to make your own tier list using this link, and share it with us! And a great place to share it is in the Tales from the Backlog Discord server!

You can listen to this Break from the Backlog episode (Elden Ring Bosses Tier List) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Break from the Backlog: Elden Ring for the FromSoftware Newbie https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/eldenringnewbies Wed, 20 Jul 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com 0986ba93-d0ad-4906-8f90-c16072e405b1 In this Break from the Backlog episode, Dave is joined by Aaron Angle and Ryan Arrington to answer one simple question- why is Elden Ring FromSoftware's most approachable game yet? As a big fan of FromSoftware's games, I naturally want to talk about them with as many people as I can, and those attempts are often met with people saying "I could never get into those games" or "Those games seem cool but I don't like hard games", or simply "Sekiro is too fucking hard". And that's fine! People can enjoy the games they enjoy and not play the ones they don't! It's ok! I have plenty of people within the Dark Souls and FromSoftware community to talk about.

But then, FromSoftware president Hidetaka Miyazaki stated that Elden Ring would be "FromSoftware's most accessible game yet....and will lead to more people finishing the game than any of FromSoftware's previous games"- to which the fans started to wonder "What does he mean? Will there be an easy mode?". Then, Elden Ring released and started getting all-time level reviews (not weird). Almost immediately, people who ordinarily don't play FromSoftware games started expressing interest (also not weird). The weird part was that I started to hear a sentiment pop up again and again- "I don't usually like these games, but I'm really loving Elden Ring!". This Break from the Backlog episode was inspired by those people, and seeks to answer one simple question:

_Why is Elden Ring connecting with so many more people than FromSoftware's previous games? _

Joining me for this discussion is total FromSoftware newbie Aaron Angle and on-and-off-again fan Ryan Arrington. Aaron is my co-host on [A Top 3 Podcast](www.atop3podcast.fireside.fm) and a frequent guest on Tales from the Backlog, and Ryan is a frequent guest on both shows. Aaron was a guest on the Ghost of Tsushima, Hades and It Takes Two episodes of Tales from the Backlog, and Aaron and Ryan have been guests together on the Rocket League and Persona 5 episodes. They lend some great insight and comedy to this discussion, so if you're on the fence about whether Elden Ring is for you or not, give it a listen.

You can listen to this Break from the Backlog (FromSoftware and the Open World) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Break from the Backlog: FromSoftware and the Open World https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/fromsoftopenworld Wed, 13 Jul 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com 45230244-8952-468f-8fdc-34f6d5b92bb3 In this Break from the Backlog episode, Dave is joined by the Friendly Neighborhood Gamers (Andrew Kimball and Dylan Wren) to discuss open worlds and FromSoftware's open world design choices in Elden Ring. In 2005 or so, I was looking around in my local GameStop after work when one of the workers asked me if I was looking for anything in particular. I was just idly browsing, but I said something to the effect of "RPGs are cool, I guess", and the employee, may he live forever, immediately grabbed an Xbox game that I'd never heard of with this weird golden triangle cover art- The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind. And for about two years, Alan (A Top 3 Podcast co-host) and I would either be at our own houses playing Morrowind, or at the other person's house watching them play Morrowind. It was the first open-world game I ever played, and I was totally mesmerized by how you could have this entire world to explore as you please.

In 2022, however, the industry standards for open worlds have changed, and not always for the better. I get burned out by open world games as often as I complete them, and I haven't 100% completed an open world game since about 2008. It's made me think about what I actually want in an open world game, which games do these things, and which games are still pretty good despite design decisions that I don't care for? These are the questions that I sought to answer in this topic episode of Tales from the Backlog. I also believe that Elden Ring has a fantastic open world, so I was ready to discuss their design choices that led to this.

Joining me for this Break from the Backlog episode are Andrew and Dylan from Your Friendly Neighborhood Gamers. They're returning guests on the show, previously heard on the Bloodborne Bosses Tier List episode, and they're great voices in the indie gaming podcast community. Their goal is to approach gaming and make content from the perspective of the average player, and they do a great job with game reviews, topic episodes and interviews with indie content creators. You can find them on your favorite podcast app, YouTube and at their website.

You can listen to this Break from the Backlog (FromSoftware and the Open World) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Tales from the Backlog 36: Elden Ring https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/eldenring Wed, 06 Jul 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com 78b9aa2e-00b9-49de-9436-447039343cd3 In episode 36 of Tales from the Backlog, Dave is joined by Ryan Juengling from the List Off! podcast to discuss FromSoftware's long-awaited open world epic, Elden Ring. Have you ever been so excited for a game that you preloaded it and just watched the countdown on your console's home screen? Well, that's how excited I was for Elden Ring. People who know me or have listened to the show before know that FromSoftware is probably my favorite game developer of all time, and I've played all of their modern games from Dark Souls back in 2013 or so all the way through multiple replays of Bloodborne and Sekiro. So when Elden Ring finally got a release date, I went on full media blackout- muting words on Twitter, avoiding YouTube videos from the network test, no podcasts about it, nothing. I didn't even know you could jump until I booted up the game.

Sometimes that kind of hype can lead to a vicious disappointment, however...anybody else remember that Dark Tower movie? Gross! But anyway, Elden Ring is placed squarely in the "lives up to the hype and then some" category. In my opinion, this is the clear winner of Game of the Year 2022, even though the year is only halfway through. And joining me to break the game down in detail is Ryan Juengling from List Off!. Ryan is a friend and returning guest on the show, first heard on the Death's Door episode. List Off! is a gaming podcast that does top 10 lists about all sorts of gaming-related topics, as well as monthly news roundups, deep dives on specific games, and other fun topics. They're a highly recommended show, and you can find them HERE or on your favorite podcast app.

You can listen to episode 36 (Elden Ring) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Tales from the Backlog 35: Half-Life 2 https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/halflife2 Wed, 29 Jun 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com 4f170e98-c416-47fe-9f26-7f7484724980 In episode 35 of Tales from the Backlog, Dave is joined by Jay Davis from Super Bracket Bros to discuss Valve's foundational first-person shooter, Half-Life 2. Longtime listeners and friends who know my gaming history know that I was a console kid growing up. I had a PC with a few games, but it was mostly edutainment games, TIE Fighter and Rollercoaster Tycoon. By the time 2004 rolled around, I was firmly into the Gamecube and Xbox, with PC gaming far in the rear-view mirror. When Half-Life 2 released, I never heard about it. I continued on without hearing about it until I started seeing the Half-Life 3 memes, when I started to gather that Half-Life 2 was maybe pretty good, or something. Why else would its sequel become a meme? But I'm not a PC gamer, or wasn't at the time, so I just figured I'd let that lie.

Fast forward a while, when I finally remember that PC games exist, and there are a lot of good games out there that maybe my budget laptop can run! As a rule of thumb, indie games and anything released before 2010 is generally, maybe possible on my laptop. Portal 2 can run on my laptop, and hey didn't Valve put out another critically acclaimed first-person game? Luckily Half-Life 2 also ran just fine, with some hitches and slowdown here and there, but that's to be expected. And there was always that nagging doubt that happens whenever I boot up a critically acclaimed game from decades past- does it hold up? Not to spoil what we talk about in the episode too much, but.....yeah! It's great!

I'm joined in episode 35 of Tales from the Backlog by Jay Davis from the Super Bracket Bros podcast to deep dive into Half-Life 2. Super Bracket Bros is a "who would win in a fight" tournament style podcast where fictional characters from all kinds of media are pitted against each other in single combat. The current season is focusing on firearms experts, and I was even on the first episode where Archer faced off against Black Widow. Find Jay and Super Bracket Bros wherever podcasts are found, as well as on their website, Instagram and Patreon!

You can listen to episode 35 (Half-Life 2) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Tales from the Backlog 34: Yakuza: Like a Dragon https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/yakuzalad Wed, 22 Jun 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com 303e71aa-ac26-4cb6-a701-b1732ec1b7f9 In episode 34 of Tales from the Backlog, Dave is joined by Rick Firestone from Pixel Project Radio to discuss Yakuza: Like a Dragon As I've said in previous entries on this blog, I took a break from gaming between 2015 and 2017 or so, which is the time period where Yakuza Zero was released and thus kicked off The Great Yakuza Games Boom of the Late 2010's (working title). So when I picked up a used PS4 in 2018 and started looking at the "So You Just Bought a Used PS4 After a Few Years of No Gaming" articles, people kept talking about this game series that I'd never heard of. It was described by some as "GTA in Japan" and described by others as "Extremely Not GTA in Japan", with fun minigames and an affecting crime melodrama story. Fast forward to 2022, after having played all 7 of the Yakuza games starring the GOAT protagonist Kazuma Kiryu, I was ready for more.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a reset for the franchise. After hundreds of hours of the stoic and reserved Kiryu, a new main protagonist by the name of Kasuga Ichiban steps on the scene. In contrast with Kiryu, Ichiban is fun, outgoing and extremely gullible. After taking the fall for a crime committed by a fellow Yakuza family member (where have we heard that before?), Ichiban emerges from prison 20 years later, only to find that he isn't exactly welcomed back with open arms, becomes homeless, and meets a whole crew of new friends who will comprise the traditional JPRG party in the game. The switch from the classic beat 'em up combat to turn-based JRPG combat is the other major diversion in the game, and it's mostly successful while also suffering from some of the same pitfalls that the genre is known for. The game also excels, not surpringly, in all of the goofy and heartfelt ways that every Yakuza game before it did.

Joining me in episode 34 of Tales from the Backlog is a returning guest, Rick Firestone. Rick was a guest on Tales from the Backlog before (episode 13- Disco Elysium), and he is one of the hosts of Pixel Project Radio, which is one of the best video game club style podcasts out there. Each week, Rick, his co-host Ben, and sometimes a guest or two talk in-depth about a game. It's an excellent show that I highly recommend everybody check out. Find Pixel Project Radio on Twitter, Instagram, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts!

You can listen to episode 34 (Yakuza: Like a Dragon) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Tales from the Backlog 33: Unsighted https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/unsighted Wed, 15 Jun 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com 146d7b37-032a-40ef-97a8-f73f60da858d In episode 33 of Tales from the Backlog, Dave is joined by Nave (Gaming Together: A Cooperative Podcast) to discuss Unsighted. If you play a lot of video games, sometimes you start feeling like maybe you've seen most of the ideas people have, and while games are still really fun, you start to yearn for something with a unique idea. And while some people bemoan the lack of creativity and freshness in the AAA space (they're kind of right but not totally), it's no secret that novelty is flourishing in the indie space.

Enter Unsighted, an isometric metroidzeldasoulsvania with a killer twist- as the characters in the game are androids, and their life source is running out, every character in the game is running out of time. And I mean every character, from the random NPCs around town, to the shopkeepers and traveling merchants...and your main character, too. The looming specter of time is really felt in Unsighted, and the ways that pressure interacts with metroidvania-inspired gameplay create all sorts of memorable moments and tough decisions. It's not a complete success in all situations, but it works enough of the time to make this game stand out in the crowded indie metroidvania market.

Joining me to discuss Unsighted in episode 33 of Tales from the Backlog is the artist simply known as Nave from Gaming Together: A Cooperative Podcast. On Gaming Together, Nave and hid co-host Phillip discuss their co-op gaming experiences in a very entertaining and insightful way.

You can listen to episode 33 (Unsighted) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Tales from the Backlog 32: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/majorasmask Wed, 08 Jun 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com c38d40e7-bfe5-4d8f-860b-7819325a76dc In episode 32 of Tales from the Backlog, Dave is joined by Alan Nichols to discuss the Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. For a long time, I would loudly proclaim that the greatest game ever made, and thus my favorite game of all time, was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. But through the years, as I replayed it again and again, it started to feel a bit less wondrous, and a bit more tedious, and I started to think "Hey, I haven't played Majora's Mask since it released, I should probably replay that. I remembered it being darker, weirder, depressing, a bit more existential...you know, things I've come to seek out in video games as I've gotten older. But I was worried about how much I would actually enjoy playing it, since my most recent replays of Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess have left me with the idea that maybe I just don't like the older 3D Zelda games anymore in a world where Breath of the Wild exists.

I'm happy to report that I actually really enjoyed playing the game, found almost no tedium or frustration, and was able to soak in that atmosphere, which is even darker and a bit closer to home now as we live through a deadly pandemic where people choose to react to the world around them in such different ways, just like the NPCs in Majora's Mask.

Joining me for episode 32 of Tales from the Backlog is Alan Nichols, my [A Top 3 Podcast](www.atop3podcast.fireside.fm) co-host and longtime friend, who I most certainly played Majora's Mask with all the way back in the year 2000. We had a good time discussing both comparing a modern replay against our memories from 20 years ago and approaching it as a game in the year 2022. In the episode, we discuss our personal histories, our worries about the time mechanics, mask collecting, the classic zelda dungeon puzzle solving, and of course, that sweet sweet darkness. We hope you give the episode a try!

You can listen to episode 32 (The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Shadow of the Colossus https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/shadowofthecolossus Wed, 01 Jun 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com 2c5b40b2-b37f-4822-bdfc-e2d60ce7c0a6 In episode 31 of Tales from the Backlog, Dave is joined by Adam Bucceri to discuss Team Ico's Playstation staple, Shadow of the Colossus I have to assume that most gamers need to choose which platform they're going to buy, ask for as a gift, etc, and by doing so, there are going to be console-exclusive games that are just flat-out not available to you. For me, I was a Nintendo kid growing up, and through my teenage years I supplemented that with the first few Xbox consoles. Many of my friends had Playstations and would always tell me about the coolest games they were playing there, from Final Fantasy to The Last of Us to God of War, and while I was always happy with the Xbox and the games on offer, there was always one game that my friends breathlessly told me about that made me feel a little jealous.

"You can climb on the bosses? How big did you say they are? They're the size of skyscrapers? This is a PS2 game??"

Fast forward to 2019 or so, when the Bluepoint Games remake was given away to Playstation Plus subscribers, and as the owner of a brand new used PS4, I finally had my chance to try out that game I'd been hearing about for all those years. It was an experience that still stands up in my mind years later as one game that is, no hyperbole, truly unique. I'm happy to be joined by Adam Bucceri in episode 31 of Tales from the Backlog to discuss the game, the games it influenced, and the nature of video game remakes.

Adam is an extremely passionate and informative guest, and it was a pleasure having him on the show. It would mean a lot if you took the time to check out his indie survival horror tabletop RPG, ENTER THE SURVIVAL HORROR on his itch.io page. You can also follow Adam on Twitter.

You can listen to episode 31 (Shadow of the Colossus) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Dark Souls 3 Bosses Tier List https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/ds3bosses Wed, 25 May 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com 42f0595a-7c0e-4e01-a74c-4b8df38c228a In a Break from the Backlog episode of the podcast, Dave is joined by Jake Anderson to tier rank the bosses in Dark Souls 3. While I've said many times on the show that the bosses in a Dark Souls game are not my favorite parts of the games, and that oftentimes they feel more like obstacles keeping me from getting to explore the next level, they are just endlessly fun to talk about. I enjoy sharing and hearing experiences about how we beat troublesome bosses like The Nameless King and Sister Friede. I love hearing which bosses took hours to beat, and which ones we unexpectedly beat on the first try- it's an endlessly interesting subject of conversation to me, and that's why I dedicate an episode of the podcast to giving the FromSoftware bosses the time and discussion that they deserve.

In this Break from the Backlog episode of Tales from the Backlog, Dave is joined once again by podcast guest extraordinaire Jake Anderson, previously heard in the episodes about Firewatch, Gone Home and Bloodborne, to tier rank the bosses in Dark Souls 3!

Here is my (Dave's) tier list:
davetierlist

And here is Jake's tier list:
jaketierlist

You can, and should, fill out the tier list for yourself HERE and share it with us in the Tales from the Backlog Discord server!

You can listen to this Break from the Backlog episode (Dark Souls 3 Bosses Tier Ranking) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Dark Souls 3 https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/darksouls3 Wed, 18 May 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com 72a3aec3-8aa7-4c8f-9f64-00872dcc4fef In episode 30 of Tales from the Backlog, Dave is joined by returning guest Adam Rivera to discuss Dark Souls 3, the end of the Dark Souls series and a divisive game among fans. After I first played Dark Souls back in 2012, I patiently waited for the next game in the series, sure that it would be as great as the first. Unfortunately, vanilla Dark Souls 2 and I just didn't get along, and I soon moved to Korea and stopped playing video games for a few years. By the time I got back into the gaming world, Bloodborne and Dark Souls 3 had released without my knowledge, so one of the first purchases I made with my shiny new slightly used PS4 was Dark Souls 3 with all of the DLC, and just like that, I was back into the series. This was the game that reignited my love for FromSoftware and led to the focus on their games that fans of Tales from the Backlog have noticed.

Dark Souls 3 is at the same time a very fun game to play, the beginning of some troubling design philosophies by FromSoftware, a half-step toward some of the mechanics that make Elden Ring work as well as it does, and a strong example of how fan service and callbacks can backfire for your longtime fans. The gameplay is faster than the previous games in the series, the bosses are more complex, and for those looking for the biggest challenge that the series has to offer, you'll find it here.

Joining me in episode 30 of Tales from the Backlog to break this divisive game down is Adam Rivera, who is returning for the second time on the show, previously heard in Episode 7 (Dragon's Dogma). Adam is a Soulsborne expert with many many hours in every game in the series, and adds a great deal of knowledge of both gameplay mechanics and lore for this game and the series in general. In the episode, Adam and I share our thoughts on story, changes to the established Dark Souls formula, and fan service, as well as sharing memorable moments and thoughts on some of the boss fights in the spoiler section.

You can listen to episode 30 (Dark Souls 3) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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Pokémon Legends: Arceus https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/pokemonlegendsarceus Wed, 11 May 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com c741637c-2760-43a3-9d4a-f9ff5750b0d5 In episode 29 of Tales from the Backlog, Dave is joined by Jared Moss from Play Along Podcast to discuss a new direction in the world of Pokémon. Ever since I played my first open-world game (Morrowind), whenever somebody has asked me what my dream game is, my answer has always been the same- open-world Pokémon. It seems like such an obvious smash hit- explore the world, interacting with actual wild Pokémon, you know, realizing the dream that we've all had since Pokémon fever first hit all those years ago. Well, I'm happy to report that Pokémon Legends: Arceus really is everything I had hoped for. There is still lots of room to grow, but this game really revived the magic that many of us longtime Pokémon fans have been trying to recapture since those days on the playground in the late '90s.

In episode 29 of Tales from the Backlog, I'm joined by Jared Moss of Play Along Podcast to share our thoughts on the open world structure, comparisons to Monster Hunter, catching mechanics, and a few tweaks to the battle system. Play Along Podcast is a book club style video games podcast, where co-hosts Jared, Ben and Ky pick a game, break it into sections, and report each week for their progress and thoughts on that week's section. They've covered many popular and interesting games in the past, such as Disco Elysium, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker, Super Mario RPG, Metal Gear Solid, and many others. I am a fan of their show and would recommend anyone who likes video games to check them out with this link, or search your favorite podcast app!

You can listen to episode 29 of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!

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It Takes Two https://talesfromthebacklog.fireside.fm/articles/ittakestwo Thu, 05 May 2022 00:00:00 -0400 talesfromthebacklogpod@gmail.com 4dcc5851-391c-4315-9d65-dcc687dab9ed Dave is joined by Aaron Angle to talk about It Takes Two, the 2021 Game of the Year award winning co-op platformer from Hazelight Studios. It's time for some co-llabo-ration! This week on Tales from the Backlog, Dave is joined by fellow A Top 3 Podcast co-host Aaron Angle to discuss It Takes Two, the 2021 Game of the Year award winning co-op platformer from Hazelight Studios.

Aaron is a returning guest of many previous episodes of the show, including the episodes about Persona 5, Ghost of Tsushima, Hades and Rocket League. Aaron is also one of the co-hosts of Dave's other podcast, A Top 3 Podcast. Aaron and Dave have been friends since high school, and have spent many years playing and talking about video games together.

It Takes Two is a mandatory co-op game, and Dave and Aaron played this game together, thanks to the wonderful Friend Pass system, where only one person of the pair needs to purchase the game. And what a game it is! It Takes Two tells the story of Cody and May, a married couple who are nearing a divorce. One day, their daughter Rose overhears them talking about splitting up, she goes out to the shed, yada yada yada, and Cody and May are transformed into dolls. You and your co-op partner assume the roles of Cody and May as you work through fantastical 3D platforming levels, solving puzzles and fighting bosses in order to get back into their real bodies and possibly repair their broken relationship.

Listen in to episode 28 of Tales from the Backlog to find out how Dave and Aaron felt about the game, including the various gameplay mechanics that are swapped in and out through the game, the story, and the infamous Dr. Hakim.

You can listen to the full episode below, search "Tales from the Backlog It Takes Two" in your favorite podcast app, or follow these links to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher or Google Podcasts.

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