5 fun things to do during winter

By: Maya Breininger

As the snow lands on the treetops and the smell of holly fills the air, companies are preparing to satisfy their customers with ‘round the clock winter activities. This presents us with a problem; such few months of winter, yet so much to do!

This list of holiday favorites ought to help enlighten your decisions, and get your winter planning on track!

1 – Go Holiday Shopping

Many holidays, for many different folk, happen around this frosty season, and even if you practice no religious holidays, it can be enjoyable to purchase gifts for your family members!

Test your knowledge on how well you know your cousins, aunts, grandparents, or significant other by giving them a present they’ll love!

2 – Go Ice Skating

As the temperature freezes, so does the water! Call your friends and schedule a day full of holiday shopping, followed by a visit to the nearest ice rink! Practice your V 8’s, your backward skating, or impressing that special someone! Ice skating is a must-try common winter activity that you can’t miss!

3 – Spend a Snowy day in your Favorite Coffee Shop!

What could be better than sipping your favorite warmed beverage while watching the snow fall? Invite your friends out on the same day you ice skate, or plan a different day in order to spread the love! (Double points if the area is decorated!)

4 – Bake Gingerbread Treats!

Whip out your family’s traditional gingerbread recipe, or simply click the link below the image to lead you to one! Invite over little ones, or old ones who simply enjoy the decorative and tasty part of winter! Decorate them, or create your own little town of ginger people! And speaking of decorating houses…

5- Decorate your House in Lights!

Try not to peeve off your father as you hang the lights – maybe you should stick with hanging the wreaths! Try a new design, or stick with your traditional decorations, either way, letting your neighbors know of your winter spirit is a fun way to celebrate the season!

Now that you have your list of winter fun, feel free to call over your buddies to celebrate with you!

We sincerely hope that you and the company you choose to have, have a wonderful holidays, and a happy new year!

JOYSTiCK Holiday Special – Can you beat ‘Minecraft Story Mode’ without experiencing permanent PTSD?

By: Daniel Kendle

Happy holidays!

While writing for JOYSTiCK, I’ve always enjoyed playing and reviewing games (good thing too; if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here). However, I thought it would be nice to take a break and do something a little… dumb. But fun!

Now, lately I’ve been writing a lot of ‘Minecraft’ related articles. My last one was on ‘Minecraft Dungeons,’ a charming spin-off title, and the one before that I’m unable to pronounce without dry-heaving. And lucky for me, THAT’S the one we’re going back to today!

Gaming challenges are always fun to check out. Whether it be minimalist challenges, pacifist runs, “not using ____” play through, you name it. All very fun and interesting ideas to spice up a game you’ve already played.

So what if we did that? How about we begin an annual holiday special dedicated towards doing a gaming challenge? How about we ask the following question:


This might be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life. And while it may seem daunting, I am prepared for the journey ahead. Will I survive? Will I defeat this arch-enemy of a game, never having to play it ever again? Will I sustain lethal brain damage by the end of this? (If you’ve read my review of this game, you’ll probably know the answer to that last one). Whatever may be the result of this alien idea I’ve come up with, I am ready. More accurately, I am ready…

…for war.


Friday, December 2nd. 3:14 PM. I get out of my parent’s car, walking up the side steps to our large brick house. Unlatching the white gate, I make my way towards the locked door, waiting for my mother to open up. The weekend seems calm, peaceful, like I can relax.

It’s wrong.

After throwing my backpack into my cubby and unpacking my lunch, I look back at my bag and see the bulge of my iPhone and AirPods in the outermost pocket. A grim waft of hydrated air rolls my neck as I skulk over to the pack, unzipping the pouch. Picking up my phone, I do a face scan and unlock it to see my homepage, the black-and-red icon for Netflix just above my browser. I click on it, and tap my account with the rhinoceros on it. Looking at the picture, I remember it from a BBC documentary, which gives a bit of solace whilst dread creeps through my heart.

I head on up, sandwich in one hand, phone in the other. Lazily slouching down onto my parent’s bed, I flick through movies and shows, looking for the object I so desperately want to leave.

‘Stranger Things’? No.


‘Don’t Look Up’? Not today.

Then, I see it. Its icon has an animal with a vague green shape, eyes square, face contorted into a silent scream. Cuboidal head, prism body, logo for Netflix Interactive viewable in the corner. A backdrop of a navy tint surrounds the abnormal creature, once part of a respectable piece of media, now a husk of decrepit life. I click, wanting to run, wanting to hide, but I know better.

“Daniel, you’re 14, practically an adult by now.’“The voice in my empty head says. “You’re at the age when smoking a cig wouldn’t kill you (probably), and yet here you are, frightened by ‘Minecraft Story Mode’ of all things. Press play, let’s get this over with.

The voice in my head compels me; I watch the small preview shown on the game’s UI. It shows key moments from throughout the series, like a man watching a tape of his life before execution. Shuddering, the writhing animation is of a quality compared only to a horror movie, a work of fright. My hand is shaking, I can’t eat anymore. Hunger is drained while head is full – full of terror at the thought of going back to this. But I need to do this, for Ms. Lingofelt, for all the kids in Newspaper/Journalism, and for all the readers of JOYSTiCK. For those who are tired of hearing about this game, for those who love seeing my suffering.

I press play.


My muscles contract. I recoil from a pose of curling fear, unraveling my arms and legs from my chest. The gentle tune plays during the opening, a misleading rope that could send me down a rabbit hole of misery.

“Well, this isn’t so bad. The music’s nice, the animations haven’t started yet, the actual ‘story’ hasn’t begun, maybe this won’t be so bad?

And then the narrator starts talking.
Never mind.
Moving along, I hear the game’s introductory question, an old joke spiraling around Reddit a while back.

“Would you rather fight 100 chicken-sized zombies, or 10 zombie-sized chickens?”

My flight-or-flight response kicks in. How foolish of me to go back to this game, I remind myself. Why couldn’t I have reviewed something normally, like… ‘Tetris?’ Such a sad sight; a man ensnared within his own creation, a moth fluttering towards a flame.

After forcefully answering the question at hand, the dialogue continues for a while longer, and I pause the video to recollect myself. Rubbing my temple I look out the icy-white window, snow pelting down against the frosted glass. I sigh, knowing that I don’t have anything better to take care of. No homework, no chores, no nothing. Normally this’d be a sign of joy, but I couldn’t help but wish I had work to keep me busy. Unfortunately, this IS homework, technically. I press the triangle again, and settle back down into the sheets.


For the next good chunk of the game, this is how it plays. After maybe an hour of watching, I pause to take a break, a relief from the twisted storm I’ve caught myself in. I eat, I sleep, I go on walks, all to take my mind off the pain I’ve endured from this nightmarish experience. My sanity is numb; I can’t feel my fingers, with a creeping chill forming worse each time I subject myself to this creature of a product.

Once I reach the end of episode 2, I feel… better. I feel refreshed, like I can overcome this iron grip latched onto my soul. What the other 2 episodes will be like, I can’t tell.


Chapter 3 starts like the other 2 had before: me crying for about an hour. After retracting my tears and going through a couple hundred tissues, I sat down for the long stretch. I can smell victory, and it smells good (probably).

Lo and behold, the penultimate video starts without a hitch. 2 hours ago I would’ve been terrified of this image, this ancient, primal threat. But thou must see that I have dramatically matured since then! Yes dad, I AM self-sufficient! I can experience trauma, too!

While sitting through the opening narration crawl once again, I get the ping! of a text.

“It’s time for your daily French lesson. Take 5 minutes now to complete it. -Duolingo.”

This is a pretty standard Duolingo alert; since it’s an app for learning languages, these aren’t uncommon. However, in my glory-dizzy saga, it instead looked like this:

“Human child, you shall never be able to vanquish the ‘Minecraft Story Mode’ demon. Come now, let us continue the blood-letting ritual. Your soul is not fit for the realm of humanity; passing your spirit into our hands shall let the Elder Ones rejuvenate their aching bones. -???”

I know deep down that my mind is playing vengeful tricks on me, and I can’t blame it. In reality, my brain’s the one subjected to this torment, not me. I am merely a vessel, a carapace, my pink thoughts an alloy. It’s trying to make me go back to my old ways of thinking, but I won’t let it.

I won’t let it.
I-I won’t let it. No.
No, no, no. No, I won’t.
I-I won’t-t! No!



No more ‘Minecraft’ reviews. No more slandering ‘Minecraft Story Mode.’ No more thinking that I’ve gotten past the treachery that has infected this serial.

When I started JOYSTiCK, I was excited to be able to review video games for school purposes. But now, 6 issues later, half have somehow featured the same game. And I need a break. I need to return to my roots, I need to review other games.

I made this jokey episode not to delve into the actual question at hand, but to just make a funny spin-off article for the holidays. But the menace of ‘Minecraft Story Mode’ still lingers. It’s not really even fun to criticize this game anymore; I’ve done it so many times. It’s time I move on in life, to new horizons, to new experiences.

Episode 6 (this one doesn’t count) will come in 2023. I hope to see you then!

Croatia makes a good run but falls short in the semifinals

By: Aeden Evenson-McDermott

After narrowly escaping the Groups stages with the 0-0 tie with Belgium, Croatia would feature in the Round of 16 against Japan on December 5th. In the first half, Japan would be adventurous and have a more free flow approach. Just before halftime, Daizen Maeda scored a goal that was deflected and bounced through the Croatian defense for the 1-0 lead.

Just after halftime, and in the 55th minute, Croatia’s Dejan Lovren crossed an on point ball which found its way to forward Ivan Perišić who excitingly got the breakthrough with a thrasher header, which was beautifully perfected and put into the bottom right corner of the goal. Both teams would go back and forth between possessions. Croatia would reclaim and take the midfield and be more physically dominant.

After the Croatia goal, Japan would rise to the occasion and wouldn’t go down too easily. Wataru Endo would test goalkeeper Dominik Livaković with a shot fired from way outside the box which for sure stung the hands of Livaković.

As the game drew to a close of the 90 minutes regulation, it would be sent to an additional 30 minutes of extra time. With no score in the additional 30 minutes it would be the first penalty shootout of the 2022 Qatar World Cup to decide the winner.

Following 2018’s World Cup, Croatia was pretty dominant when it came to a penalty shootout. The first two penalties for Japan were saved and Croatia came through and converted theirs. A clutch performance by Croatia’s keeper Livaković would send them on to the next round of the quarterfinals.

On December 9, Croatia would turn their attention to the epic finale of facing Brazil. With the odds stacked against them, and many counting the Croats out, it would have to be a spectacular performance to hold Brazil at bay.

Croatia came out ready to play with a refined passing game and the upper hand in the possession. Croatia wasn’t intimidated by the pace of Brazil and stood firm. The first half was pretty back and fourth but the second half would contain more drama.

When the ball came in and there were claims of a handball on right back Josip Juranović, VAR (video assistant referee) got involved but quickly shut the down the possibility of a penalty.

In the rest of the second half, Livaković would be busy as he would have to eliminate the ball getting to the back of the net. Croatia held their breath as the moments ticking down to the 90 minutes of regulation occurred.

It would be an additional 30 minutes of extra time. Both sides would exchange opportunities and go on the attack. Just before the end of the first period of extra time, Brazil’s Neymar dribbled his way and eloquently slotted the ball into Livaković’s net. 1-0 to Brazil.

Croatia would need to channel their inner belief to get the equalizer and take it to penalties. Croatia came out strong for the second period of extra time and would make Brazil play into Croatia’s hands and style of play.

With the inability of giving up hope and surrendering, Bruno Petković would have a powerful shot which took a deflection off a Brazilian defender, and went past goalkeeper Alisson in the 117 minute. 1-1!

It would send it to penalties once again and Croatia would need to stand tall.

Rodrygo would be denied on the first penalty kick by Livaković. Nikola Vlašić, Casemiro, Lovro Majer, Pedro, and Croatia captain Luka Modrić would all convert theirs with Croatia having the 3-2 lead.

Marquinhos of Brazil would need to step up in order to keep the Brazil dream alive. A poor run up would lead to Marquinhos hitting the front side of the post and the ball going out. Such a big missed opportunity which would cost them the game as Croatia’s Mislav Oršić got the deciseful winner!

Brazil would be kicking themselves and left asking themselves questions. Why didn’t Neymar step up to take the penalty? Following the game, Brazil’s manager Tite would resign and leave the team.

On December 13, Croatia played Argentina for the semi final clash. Modrić vs Messi. Two incredible players with much history. Croatia would again be the underdogs. After a successful run of the World Cup so far, Croatia would come out flat footed and discombobulated in many ways against Argentina. Croatia had much of the possession in the first half but Modrić was limited in his abilities by the play of Argentina.

An early penalty in the 34th minute would start the unraveling for them. The referee was quite poor with many calls but this, in my opinion, was not a penalty. Julián Alvarez of Argentina was going for the ball and actually initiated the contact by running into Livaković. The ref gave Livaković a yellow which was totally a joke, in many ways, because if you give a penalty you can’t do a card as well. Anyways, Messi of course would smash the ball into the upper part of the goal and give Argentina the lead.

A few minutes later, in the 39th minute Alvarez would dribble himself down the field and weave his way through the Croatian defense and score to make it 2-0 going into halftime.

The second half was a bit more composed for Croatia but Argentina was still quite dominant. In the 69th minute Messi would dribble Croatian sensation center back Joško Gvardiol down the field and dump the ball off to Alvarez with another great feed to ultimately make it 3-0. It was a costly defeat and unfortunate for such a great Croatian team through the World Cup.

Another great player, the captain, the heart and soul, the savior, of the team, Luka Modrić would have his last go at the World Cup but would fall short.

Congrats to Argentina and more importantly Messi! Argentina faces France for the World Cup final on Sunday the 18th, at 9 am on FOX, while Croatia will make a run for the bronze medal as they take on Morocco on Saturday the 17th, at 9 am on FOX as well. Should be an exciting weekend and hopefully a good roundup of the 2022 Qatar World Cup!

Be on the lookout for the recap of the final, and 3rd place game, of the World Cup as well!