Every so often we wind up with a lot of staffers on vacation or out for illness or whatever. Short-staffed as we've been this month, we've still managed to run some pretty cool stories. My five favorites from last week:

  • 10 Ways To Make Your Favorite Games Feel New Again | A fun, light one from features editor Kirk Hamilton, suggesting different ways to play games. Can I take Kirk's advice? I love open-world games but I do not have Kirk's courage to turn off the mini-map. I will try it someday. Maybe.
  • The Maker Of The Trollface Meme Is Counting His Money | Who actually made one of the most famous visual memes on the Internet? And, wait, he's made how much money from it??? And there have been disputes over it? Of course. Good reporting by Patrick Klepek aided by a killer top image from chief Gawker Media artist Jim Cooke.
  • Amiibo Has A False Prophet, And His Name Is Esteban | In this one, Patrick tries to explain why some people on the web were so excited about the idea that a guy named Esteban might know when some new Amiibos would be available. The saga ends, as all sagas should, with Amazon Tweeting a photo of a chicken. Not a big story, but a fun one.
  • The Pokémon Superstition That Will Not Die | I am a sucker for stories about strange things people believe (see "Esteban"). In this case, senior writer and Pokéxpert Patricia Hernandez was trying to sort out why people think that pressing down + B will help them catch Pocket Monsters and why others think it matters if you yell "Gotcha!" When I was a kid I briefly believed my fellow second-graders who swore that, in Punch-Out, there was a way to make Mario pull a gun on Mike Tyson. I didn't believe them for very long. Like, a year or two?
  • How A Small Studio's Chance At The Big Time Died At Microsoft's Doorstep | News editor Jason Schreier is a bulldog who does not let a story slip from his jaws. First he broke the news of the shutdown of Darkside Games, the studio working on a reboot of Xbox classic Phantom Dust. Then he revealed leaked footage of their scuttled game. With this third story, he told the tale—as best he could, what with Microsoft refusing to comment in depth—about how things went so wrong. Jason has been known to drive some of the people he covers crazy (but never the people he works with, nope, not at all). He does not let go. This is what readers get for those efforts. A job well done. An extra hat-tip to Jason for showing elsewhere on the site last week that not every scoop needs to be a big, headlined article, a trap too many in the gaming press, ourselves included, often fall into.

Got thoughts about what we published last week or about stories you'd like to see on the site? Let me know.

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To contact the author of this post, write to stephentotilo@kotaku.com or find him on Twitter @stephentotilo. Top image from Patricia's piece about a possible Bloodborne beast-mode secret.