On Saturday afternoon, November 19, 2016, I began tweeting rhymes set to the tune of the Gaston song from Disney’s Beauty & The Beast animated movie. This began a descent into madness marked by a downward spiral completely out of control — I changed my Twitter identity completely, and tweeted nothing but “Gaston” and Gaston-related imagery for several days.

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On Friday, November 25, 2016, I restored my account.

In the meantime, I lost about 150 followers.

Lol.

As with anything unusual that is done, half the fun was in the reactions I received. And I certainly received: From people going along with the joke and asking if I was okay, to those taking it far too seriously, and everything in between, my mentions remained a-buzz for the duration.

Mostly, it was all harmless and reasonable. People annoyed? I get that. People confused? Okay. People conjecturing as to some deeper motivation I had? Amusing. People feeling they had the right to speak on my behalf and butt into conversations so they could offer their oh-so-keen insight as to what I was ‘actually’ up to? Less amusing, but rare.

Oh, and the stream of people thinking they were telling me about @Botston for the first time. Oh my gosh. Yes, I am aware of it. Shhhh.

It was just a fun thing, overall, but it did confirm a prior finding: People CANNOT HANDLE IT when you change your username.

That’s it.

That’s the one single most determining factor in Twitter behavior that guarantees a loss of followers.

You’re mostly speaking to an echo chamber of like-minded people anyway, so espousing your views (political or otherwise) won’t do it. Silence won’t do it, as nobody will remember to bother unfollowing you.

But, gosh, change your username and people flip out.

I already went through this with @SkirmishFrogs (and wrote about it for that site), but it was still so interesting to me to see people screencap the Gaston_Legend account and ask foreboding things like, “Why are 15 thousand people following this account? And how did I start following?!”

People get unnerved, believing that Twitter is somehow acting on their behalf, like some sort of malevolent ghoul, out to control their social media followings. The horror!

I mean, like, I guess I wouldn’t go so far as to say it should be common sense (?) to know that you can change your username, but it still surprised me to see the extent that it freaks people out. You really have to sit people down and say “hey Twitter lets you change usernames” for them to understand that, I suppose.

So, uh, that’s my only real takeaway, and a few people asked if I lost followers/how many did I lose, so there you have it. Sure, I lost some, but not as many for the reason you may think. I didn’t learn any profound lesson, just confirmed suspicions on people. And I didn’t actually go crazy, silly. It really was all just for kicks and giggles. Going ‘too far’ with stuff is something I’ve been notorious for, and for most of my life. Maybe some would be well served to remember that.

Otherwise, I’m back now. Hi. See ya on my next crazy adventure!

EDIT: Oh, quick little additional story!

The scariest part was when I went about restoring the accounts… I switched the placeholder @Nintendo_Legend just fine. So then, it came time to switch @Gaston_Legend to @Nintendo_Legend.

Only, when I did that, I got a message saying that my account was locked due to detecting spam-like behavior.

It may sound pathetic, but I admit, my belly had a little fluttery moment and my eyes widened in horror. I was like NO NO NO for a minute — but then it gave me the handy option to just confirm my account with my phone number, which I did, and I think everything turned out fine.

But, whew, for that moment… terror! Ha.

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I was a big fan of the Ghostbusters canon growing up — the movies, the cartoon (my all-time favorite cartoon, easily, by far, no contest), the action figures, etc. Not the NES video game, that abomination broke my heart, but otherwise pretty much everything else.

So I was excited to see the new film. And I just watched it, just now.

And I enjoyed it!

And I have some thoughts.

This is likely more intended for people who have seen the thing, as there might be a couple minor spoilers ahead. Or maybe some major ones, I dunno.

Within the Mystical Realm of Comedic Cinema: A Contextual Overview

It was funny. I say that as someone who doesn’t usually like modern comedies. By “usually,” I mean, if it ain’t Coen brothers, I can’t remember really liking a new comedy movie since Little Miss Sunshine.

But this, this Ghostbusters movie, it made me laugh many times. That was great. I suspect that my particular sense of humor has much to do with this appreciation; when it came to themes like awkward interactions and strange wordplay, that is my jam. I can dig it. However, I can definitely respect if someone else did not find it funny, as some of the jokes were really a stretch, and speaking in an overall sense, if you are not plugged into the unique frequency this project was aiming for, you could certainly walk away feeling left out and disappointed.

Now, I am no professional critic… I am a mere layman in the arts of critical analysis. I do suspect, though, that whereas the quips of the original Ghostbuster film relied more purely on the strength of character chemistry and their well-scripted dialogue, this new Ghostbuster leans on the exaggeration of individual caricatures.

In other words: The line “Yes, it’s true. This man has no dick” works in the original because of Bill Murray’s masterful dry delivery coupled with a sublime lead-in. The character Jillian Holtzmann works in the new Ghostbusters because Kate McKinnon performs shamelessly in a weird role that pays off with treats of unpredictability in physicality and tone alike.

Well, it worked for me, anyway. Both are slices of comedy, just in different flavors.

The Logo is a Filthy Consumerist Whore: On In-Jokes and References

Okay, wow, the fan servicing was almost overwhelming. I mean, it was nice, and a couple spots truly made me smile, but dang, whew. Okay.

Like, it was so present for me, that it is difficult to imagine how I would view the film as an outsider, as if I had no prior experience with this canon. This is not a bad thing inherently, just interesting to me, I guess. Bring back some familiar faces, trigger a positive response: A cheap tactic, perhaps, but an effective one I won’t complain about too much.

Speaking of Triggers

There is no trace of controversy here. I mean, for all the whiny manbabies out there who actually did have an issue with an all-female Ghostbusters effort, this was a harmless product overall. I probably should not even bother addressing the topic. But there it is: Any detractors of the concept just come out looking dumb, and some who did those extra-nitpicky “46 Things I Hate About This Movie”-type videos are likely now exposed as the agenda-toting cavemen they are.

But I Do Have Quibbles

Besides the overarching “it ain’t Citizen Kane” angle you can take with any example from the Comedy genre whole, I do have a couple more-specific complaints.

Pacing/Editing

Am I the only one who got the sense that a lot of things were glossed over strangely? I haven’t exactly dug into lots of reviews, so for all I know maybe this is a common observation, but nonetheless.

It felt like, multiple times throughout, the movie rushed past stuff that either was meant to have more gravity but now did not, or I just feel like should have had more weight but did not.

Introducing the proton packs? A hurried explanation from Holtzmann, a trip to an alley, a test firing that ends up launching a character like a pinball, a quick cut back into home base for the next bit of exposition.

How about the grand unveiling of the newly customized Ecto-1? We get a few angles, a shrug from Holtzmann, and, um, not much else, honestly. Really, am I insane? Not that a paint job and some branding has to be a Grand Moment, but it was hardly there at all, to me.

That was the one element that I felt that kept the movie from being great: The lack of seriousness was so profound that no payoff could ever reach any great height. Maybe that’s how people like their comedies, light and breezy. Maybe I just don’t like comedies. But. Still. You can do a comedy and still act like the story has some merit and justice and authenticity to it. And as much as the writing affects this, so too do many other aspects of filmmaking as well. You can light a scene in a way that adds more gravitas. You can hold onto a shot for a couple extra seconds to really emphasize a reaction for the viewer, to send it home even further.

Or you can make all the ghosts neon blue, I guess.

One more note on this pacing/editing thing: The scene at the concert, where they use the trap? It was jarring to see wide shots of all four ghostbusters firing their rifles, only to keep cutting back-and-forth to the closer shot of Holtzmann, messing with the trap, clearly not firing her proton pack… all four are firing, now they’re not, now they are, now they’re not…

Physics and Consistency

This is actually an aspect that my wife brought up first, and we got to discuss. How do the physics works in this iteration of the Ghostbusters universe? Do the proton beams harm the ghosts (clearly do, sometimes, apparently), or merely harness them (wait, no, this is a thing, sometimes), or harness them but also enable them to be sent away as a projectile (a sudden strategy implemented in a late scene, it seems)?

Do the ghosts interact with their environment, or not? If the Devices were needed to Break the Barrier, then where did the first few come from, or was that because of a localized lampshade of convenience, and what was with the window thingies if the street was just going to crack open anyway, and how much goop can a ghost hold if they constantly drip and barf, and whoa wait he can just straight-up mind control entire crowds now, but if that’s the case then why doesn’t he just hm, and My Gosh are the Ghostbusters rather supremely lucky that Slimer decided to drive Ecto-1 back to the exact same spot at that exact right momen–

I get it. I really do. This is a mindless popcorn flick, one cannot reasonably expect detailed explanations from it.

However, this is my point: Storytelling is stronger when the in-world rules are coherent.

Especially when you already have odd pacing moments that are glossing over stuff you are maybe supposed to care about anyway. Right? Maybe?

My Favorite Bits

I like Kevin. I am pro-Kevin. Kevin can stay. When there’s a loud noise and he covers his eyes, that brings me a chuckle.

Despite all that critiquing up there about gravitas and whatever-the-hell-else-I-was-talking-about, I actually liked that bit near the end, where Erin has to leap into the Green Tunnel to Presumably Some Sort of Hellscape after Abby. I dunno, I just thought it was kinda cool.

Holtzmann’s weird speaking-singing stuff. All of that. Just, like, yes. Outweird me, go for it.

I actually really liked the opening scene. That whole tour-guide monologue, with the “and this is the room where P.T. Barnum first had the idea to enslave elephants,” that was delicious, and hit some strange, subversive notes. That was a highlight. I would like to go on an expanded version of that tour.

The whole concept of your co-author friend selling your book on Amazon without your permission and you having to hear about it secondhand from someone who heard about it because of a reblogged reddit post was delightfully contemporary.

I don’t even remember the specific scene, but there is a conversation going on, and Patty does not say a word, but the face she makes was the best part of the whole exchange.

Janine.

Let Us Conclude

Ghostbusters (2016) is a fun romp, good for some laughs, with bonus takeaways for franchise fans. It compares favorably within its genre. I am glad I experienced it, although I would not place it on too high of a shelf as far as All Films go.

Also, I just wrote a lot more about this movie than I meant to. Neat!

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Here it is, folks! Playing old Nintendo games every Thursday night!

Follow me on Twitch, @Nintendo_Legend!

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I really enjoyed the Netflix series Stranger Things. I have some thoughts.

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The acting was tremendous. Characters went through some compelling arcs, with performances that justly conveyed such transformations. Could Winona Ryder’s role been played any more pitch-perfect than what she gave us? And those kids, all of them, so great.

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One specific element that I really like in my entertainment media is telekinesis. So, there’s that.

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Stranger Things is a great example of visual media with a familiar-yet-refreshing presentation — in the midst of a popular culture that has verbalized a weariness of rehashes and reboots (yet, notably, continues to support them at the box office), it was a powerful recipe to gulp down: Every frame feels like it is utterly known in a sort of distant-sentimental way, yet with enough newness to keep things moving and interesting. I think Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars: The Force Awakens reaped a similar benefit from this effect. In all these cases, the end product is not absurdly wacky, neither is it jaw-droppingly revolutionary, but it combines just-enough innovation with a cozy, almost-intimate style that we cannot help be drawn to.

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Another rare feat that Things achieved was, in my opinion, serving up a satisfying beginning-to-end story while also leaving plenty of unanswered questions.

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I liked how the series normalizes geekdom. What I mean by that is we see four boys who regularly play hours-long Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, and although they are clearly identified as little nerds (through their participation in AV club, relationship with their teacher of similar persuasions, etc.), this is never really (really) treated as a trait that is scornworthy, nor vilified.

Now, I am sure there were groups of kids who did similar things in the 1980’s, but even in my own era, this treatment serves as a contrast to a society that sometimes tends to try to downplay and even demonize (quite literally, if you grew up in an evangelical Christians setting) these geeky pursuits. Their shared adventures in a role-playing game are never played up for laughs at their expense, and just played to the camera straight, as a mutual experience. It was cool, I thought, but it is likely growing more common in shows as well.

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Considering its popularity, I assume a season 2 will be in the works. This is fun, because I have no idea what direction they would go (if they would even keep the same characters, etc., or go in a whole new pathway), yet I am excited all the same.

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Nintendo-NES-Classic-Mini

It looks like Nintendo is finally back on top. The release of a little game called Pokemon Go saw the value of the company skyrocket. And then there was the news that they’re releasing a miniature version of their classic Nintendo Entertainment System, which was met with glee from both children and nostalgic adults alike.

Earlier this month, Nintendo announced a new version of its classic console called the NES Classic Edition that connects through an HDMI cable and fits in the palm of your hand. It brings back the golden age of gaming when 8-bits were all you needed and Super Mario Bros. 3 was the height of gaming brilliance. The retro gaming device will include 30 classic games including many of the NES’ greatest hits. Among these titles will be the first three Super Mario Bros. games, Donkey Kong, the first two Legend of Zelda games, Mega Man 2, Castlevania, Metroid and much more. There’s even something for sports fans with such beloved titles as Punch Out!! and Tecmo Bowl.

However, those of you with a box full of old Nintendo cartridges shouldn’t get your hopes up. The system won’t be an internet-connected device and can’t play old cartridges, so the initial 30 games are all you’re going to get. And without an internet connection, don’t expect updates or new games via download. But for an announced price of $60, it’s still a bargain as you’d easily twice spend that amount trying to purchase the same games from the Wii U Virtual Console.

As a new generation of 20 and 30-something professionals have more disposable income, the nostalgia for their childhoods has never been stronger. Just take a look at lists that are all about ’90s nostalgia. Much like the newfound popularity of Pokemon GO, the new Nintendo is perfectly placed to take advantage of consumers in their late-20s and early-30s desperate to recapture a portion of their childhood innocence. And there’s no better way than through video games.

It also boils down to the fact that there some styles of games just never go out of style and continue to remain popular practically forever. This is further evidenced by the simplicity of many mobile gaming sites that offer new takes on classic platforming games and matching puzzles. Another style of gaming that continues to be played by millions, although not nearly at the peak it once knew, is online poker. The game has remained a popular staple since its inception more than 150 years ago and that popularity reached a fever pitch at the turn of the millennium with the advent of online poker tournaments that allowed gamers to instantly play with fellow fans all over the world. The simple rules and accessibility help to appeal to new fans year after year while still retaining its timeless sense of fun.

Unfortunately, throwback gaming fans are still going to have to wait a little bit before they can fire up the new console. The NES Classic Edition is set for a Nov. 11 release date, and we’re getting excited for the mushrooms and magic whistles already.

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Had a fun exchange on Twitter recently.

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This is actually a tricky question, though; or, at least, I felt that way as I browsed the NES library.

Most NES games just… aren’t easy, whether that’s because the gameplay is friggin’ hard or the whole design is confusing and non-user-friendly. And to answer the question, I don’t want to merely name some games that are impossible to ‘lose’ (Mario is Missing) or made for small children (the Sesame Street titles are certainly not hard, per se). I think I can assume that the intent behind this question is to also have fun playing these titles, right?

So I thought along the lines of accessibility, and difficulty curves, and fairness, and what are some games that allow the player to ease into an enjoyable experience while neither babying nor torturing them?

I am convinced there is plenty of room for healthy discussion on this idea, this topic, so I only hope to add a constructive voice. You can slice this quandary many different ways. Here are my eight choices for easy NES games to recommend, in no particular order, with a brief note of explanation for each.

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Rampage — Of all the 8-bit arcade ports, this is definitely among the friendliest. You can literally play without any concern for your character’s health and still end up destroying a handful of entire downtown skylines before the pesky military finally brings you down. Honestly, it’s just fun, too, to cause so much destruction and discover some of the humorous environmental interactions. This may not be a game you ever reach the end of, but it’s not painful to pick up and play. Who knew mass destruction could be so zen?

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Guerrilla War — Oh yes. This is an action-packed cartridge that hits the ground running with both barrels blazing, a constant barrage of top-down military shooter action. But most importantly, it has one nice feature that defines it as a gunny slog: Infinite continues. That’s right: You may die many times, but there’s truly no excuse not to beat this game if you truly want to.

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Rollerball — A pinball game? Well, sure! Pinball games are fun. However, if you just pick up any ol’ NES pinball title, you might come across something like High Speed or the Pinball Quest, which… as much as one can defend their merits, they are not as easy as Rollerball. Rollerball’s physics are very smooth, with a gently rolling metal sphere that doesn’t clunk through the floor as hard as the original Pinball game. It is also quite small for a pinball protagonist, offering the player more time to react and decide on potential tactics. I really like Pin*Bot, too, but Rollerball is the more welcome-you-with-open-arms choice here.

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Capcom’s Disney library — Okay, yeah, a game like DuckTales definitely poses its own degree of difficulty. Overall, though, Capcom’s platformers are made so well that they are imminently enjoyable even if you have to endure a few frustrating lessons in the meantime. Some people are turned off by The Little Mermaid’s mechanics, but it has a slower pacing than most platformers, and can be a lot of fun in the right mood. I have heard Darkwing Duck referred to as “Mega Man for babies” which is clever, and not entirely inaccurate, but also doesn’t do justice to a great NES game in its own right (full disclosure, Duck can use his cape as a shield, it’s pretty sweet — and can make survival a little more easygoing!). I would recommend Rescue Rangers. Will you get to the ending on your first attempt? Nah. But boy is it fun, even when you pick it up for the first time.

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Pac-Mania — Pac-Man is a legendary, simple game. So what happens when you give Pac-Man the ability to jump over those pesky ghosts when he needs to? … it may not be as iconic (and some may be turned off by the isometric presentation), but it is fun. Whereas the original relied on rapid mental puzzle-solving in regards to ghost positions, Pac-Mania allows you to relax a little more, even if this arguably (ignore the arguers) ‘lessens’ the whole product somehow. Trust me, it is still a neat little challenge.

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Marble Madness — Ah, I can hear the disagreements now. “Seriously, Eric? I’ve never beaten Marble Madness, and I’ve tried dozens of times! It’s a hard game!” Well, okay, sure, but it is exquisitely simple. It is downright elegant in its controls. When you push Up on the d-pad, the marble goes up. Push down, guess what? Marble rolls downward. Tap or hold ‘A’ for increased roll speed, and — that’s it! No instruction booklet, no tutorial, no hand-holding of any kind required. Think about it: There are very few games in history that are as immediately evident as Marble Madness. The moment the game begins, you understand 100% of what it entails. Is it easy to master? No. But is it remarkably accessible? Yeah. … I mean, I think so anyway, but I could be wrong, whatever.

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Bomberman II — I really like the Bomberman series. Many people will point to the 16-bit classics in the franchise, or even some N64 outings, but I do believe the NES carts are worth looking into as well. The Bomberman formula is suited for a slower, non-stressful form of puzzle/action-hybrid gameplay. In addition, you have password support, and powerful items like the Detonator are given to the player pretty early on. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a well-made thing.

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Kirby’s Adventure — Yes, there are levels where you can just fly above all the enemies. There is also battery-save support. You can backtrack to prior levels if you need to grab a desired power-up or feast on extra lives. Even between the levels and bosses, there are quirky little minigames and Museum rooms. The whole presentation is a thundering triumph of light and sound for the NES console. Kirby is a deceptively powerful dude, and taking control of him is a blast.

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Those are my picks. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments below!

[ Welcome to the What Do We Really Know About series, in which we explore what people really know about a given topic in order to unearth the truth. It all began with What Do We Really Know About Mario?, while other targets have included the Ottawa Senators team from Blades of Steel (NES) and what we really know about Ganondorf. ]

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“I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Those were the last words of Marcus Chaftwhile, payroll clerk for the New York offices of Neuman & Britt. He was 47 years old. He is survived by his father, Clarence, and his mother, Clarice; his brother, Clarence Jr., and his younger brother, Norbert; his son, Niles, his other son, Theodore, and his daughter, Sheila May; and his ever-loving wife, Pearl, known by those close to her affectionately as “Blöuzen-kitz.”

Chaftwhile enjoyed travel, fine dining, and an occasional round of golf. With a sharp wit and handsome jawline, Marcus could often be seen emceeing various fundraising events and other social pursuits. He was an active member of his community and a faithful parishioner of St. Lucidia’s Third Spire where funeral services will be held Friday evening.

While those closest to him would praise Chaftwhile’s generosity and general affability, murmurs frequently arose regarding his more bizarre interests. “Oh yeah, he was into some real weird stuff,” a man named Jeffrey Karlson* confirmed. He continued, “Chafty had his share of secrets. I suspect he knew a lot more than he let on, and will go into the grave with more than his fair share of shadows and darkness.”

In lieu of flowers, loved ones are encouraged to donate toward The Mastery of Kinetics Foundation, a non-profit organization that was launched per instructions in Chaftwile’s will. There was also a note to include a particular quote in this space: “For want of a nail, all hope was lost. I do hope that humanity fares well in its last days.”

[ *Note: This name has been changed to protect our source’s identity. His real name is Taylor Zonne. ]

When it comes to gaming the options are tremendous for players. Whether it is Red Flush Casino on the smartphone, playing FIFA online against someone across the world or starting up the Wii fit, we have options aplenty and they look set to continue to grow and embrace the technology available. That’s because Nintendo are planning on releasing their latest console, the Nintendo NX which we should expect to see on the shelves in the next year.

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So far, the NX has been clouded in secrecy with nobody sure of what it will actually do, either way we are expecting a big statement from Nintendo with their latest design, ensuring it will be something that attracts the masses and puts them firmly back at the top seat amongst the fierce competition that exists in the gaming industry. Despite little official coming out, there have been strong rumours that NX will incorporate a virtual reality gaming aspect. VR gaming has been on the rise in recent years with better quality gaming available, however there has still been nothing major that has made its way into our homes, but 2016 is the year of the VR and there are big things expected. So that could prove that Nintendo do have one eye on the future and they are trying to make a significant breakthrough into that market before anyone else does, which could prove a smart business move.

 

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When it comes to gaming, you can see how much it is evolving so the Nintendo NX could be onto something with the new technology it will involve. To demonstrate the range of platforms that gaming now has, you only have to look at the latest craze, Pokémon Go, which hasn’t just swept the nation but the globe instead with millions of players from all ages hooked by the game. That is a sign of the many platforms that gaming has, and for brands to become successful, whether that is game developers or consoles you need to appreciate the range of ways gaming is accessed nowadays. A clear example would be the online casino gaming industry. With Red Flush Casino you can play the most popular table games out there, however, the added appeal is that you can play it from both your PC or tablet as well as your smartphone, you aren’t restricted and the quality doesn’t suffer on either device. The graphics, gameplay and sounds combine to create a casino feel, and to think you can experience that from your phone on the bus or walking to work is testament to the quality of the gaming options we have out there.

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Overall, gaming is going to continue to grow and adapt various forms of technology and whether that is following the example of Red Flush Casino or taking a risk like Nintendomight be by incorporating VR, it shows that you have to plan to hit a wide consumer base. All of this work means one thing, that once again the gamers are coming out on top thanks to the lightning speed at which gaming is evolving.

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