Ghosts of Christmas future and the ectoplasm they leave behind

December 9, 2014

The Wii U is at last coming to House EpicuziplayiT this year. December.. 25th, I think it is? Yes, well, the unit sits giftwrapped up on the top shelf of my closet, not to be seen by the light of day until we can frame that jolly old drow in red for breaking in and bestowing it upon us. I go to the closet and touch it through the paper sometimes. It gives me comfort.

The New Wii U comes with Motion Plus-equipped Wii Controllers (the magic wands, them – never call them Wii-Motes). I have one already, but it’s an original Wii Controller that wears a big black condom with the Motion Plus unit built into the base, plugging into the nunchaku port. I hope it’s compatible enough to play games with on the Wii U. It goddamn certainly should be, right?

20141209-132229.jpg
This controller’s name is Kip Swinger

We bought that, er whingding? Boondoggle? What’s that word? It can’t be “dongle,” can it? That’s stupider than “wii-mote.” Fuck it, whatever it was, we bought it expressly to play The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. It is looking possible that the accessory (yes, that will do), which cost upwards of $20, will now end up being used for more than that one game, so thank you Skyward Sword, for letting us have a second controller on the Wii U! And hey, you were a good game! Twice! Damn thing kinda makes the controller sticky, though.

Looking for something to play, I realize I don’t want to play anything on the Wii right now. Maybe I hate motion controls, maybe I’m seasonally affected, I don’t know, and kinda just can’t wait to put that Wii U touchpad in my hands or in my lap. That’s a fucking device, right there, that is. Smashing-on-the-Shitter-type tech.

Smash. Wii U Smash also comes to house Epicuzi this December, probably this weekend, though we’ll have nothing to play it with. It is of utmost import that we become indomitable at Smash. It’s already out in the States, and my greatest rivals on the planet are already in training! Fuck! Come on, brain, you’ve been studying nothing but Dark Souls and Monster Hunter so far this winter, and what have you learned?

Distance, timing, and patience?

It’s true – these are all invaluable considerations that will prove advantageous even in the chaotic fray of an eight-person Smash battle. But tell me this, Uzi, what are you doing with those two games that you’re NOT doing with Smash right now?

Uh, playing them?

Fool! You’re constantly pressing your upper boundaries! Every day the enemies of Dark Souls get stronger and you somehow manage to overcome them. Every day you hone your blades sharper against the claws of the Monsters of MH3rd whose HP bars just get bigger and bigger and bigger! How long has it been since you even Smashed?

It has been awhile, I won’t lie. Short of utterly disgracing myself in the final Smash Brawl tournament at Space Station last month, I’ve put in almost no time at all. You know, my kid is playing Yokai Watch on the 3DS all the ti…

Fool! Your opponents in Smash grow stronger by the day, and you’re not even practicing against bots. You’re not playing Brawl, you’re not playing Melee, oh no! You’re blogging and playing with your goddamn self! Good Christ, your dick must be at 7000% by now.

I… I’m so ashamed. I should be Smashing now.

Fool! You…wait, that’s right, yes: you should be Smashing now.

So I pull out the 3DS to do some Smashing. I have to save my son’s paused game of Yokai Watch 2, and goddamn, if this kid isn’t playing this one in the epic spirit of this blog: 312 hours clocked on his game file so far. I put it away in the 3DS travel case and take out Smash, and notice Animal Crossing sitting patiently in there, too. I can only wonder how Lasagna Town is faring without me right now. The cockroaches in my house must be the size of sleeping bags. I’d visit and clean up, but you know, after that haunting and awkward dialogue with myself just now, I am compelled to go online to remember how a human Smashes.

I’m sore that I can’t use my main, Ness, because network lag makes the PK Thunderbolt nigh unusable. I die. I come in fourth. Third. Second. Fourth again. God damn it, online players are good. These controls, I tell you… perhaps..

Hey! The 3DS is a Wii U controller, isn’t it? At least for Smash it is! The Wii U will like it, and they will be pals. The data that swirls back and forth between them will be some of the 1 and 0s that define my kids’ childhoods. There is no question of compatibility; we were all made for each other. Wii U, we can’t wait to welcome you into our home, and only hope that you will let us into your heart.

I need a shot at redemption

November 27, 2014

At some point, we determined that our species is worth saving

At the cost of every other piece of life on this planet.

John Marston was probably thinkin’ this or some old shit his daddy taught him as he scurried about his ranch on the back of a black stallion with a streak in its mane the color of the moon.

Moments later, he was mauled by a pack of wild boars by the light of the actual moon. Once conscious and back in his room John picked up some repeater ammo from the trunk by the bed and wandered around his house admiring the furnishings and trying to remember where all the rooms was. It’d been a while since he lived here. Whoops! He saw his wife and switched to the ‘fist weapon’ (I know you ain’t brandishin’ that ol’ revolver in the house, John Marston!).

He stepped outside and saw with dismay that it was still the middle of the night. There was one mission left and it was from his son, Jack, but I gotta come between goshdarngin’ five o’clock a.m. and 6:05 or whatever. It’s many hours until dawn and I think, “Let’s go to Mexico!” But no, I gotta finish this goddamn game already. Once complete, I decide, I’ll be free to go to Mexico. Hell, I’ll take the boy to Mexico with me and let him get drunk without his mom porin’ over him all the goddamn time. Feedin’ him books or some nonsense. Nah, nah, she’s a good woman and I love her. Good ol’ gal been through a lot. Fuck it, I’ll take the whole fuckin family with me to Mexico. I’ll even take her old man, the chiseling drunk ass piece of… well, I shouldn’t talk bad about her pa, neither.

Fuck it, I’m going to Mexico alone. Right now. Shit’s almost 11:00 at night. Come on now, lil’ dogies, let’s have one last ride into the tequila sunrise. He set off on his steed once again and decided to avoid the boars this time. Instead, he found himself soon shot to death trying to save a woman from being hanged. God damn it, he thought as he fell off his horse and died.

(Shit I love this game, and I am going to miss it when it’s over, but I can tell already that I will play it again. Next in the series is Dead Nightmare, the zombie version of RDR, already installed and ready to go.)

Now it was fuckin’ midnight. Will this long ass night ever end? asked John, awoke in King’s er, Thieves Landing with a freshly patched gunshot wound from his failed heroics on the road. Still plenty of time to get to Mexico, he thought, and continued riding south, over the Butter Bridge, and into Diaz Coronas.

Nice night. Nice night for shootin’ these coyotes, he said aloud as he gunned down a pack of the beasts and left their corpses shivering on the desert road. Holy shit, mang; he realized, I’m in fuckin’ Mexico! Now, where to go? Torquemada was a piece of shit on the borderlands to the east, but Casa Madrugada had class like the lambada. He’d go there. Maybe play some poker before the sun goes up. Then, at 6, 7 latest, he’d stagecoach that shit home and be in time fer supper.

Where was you? She would ask.

Out, he’d say. A man’s gotta provide for his family. I once remember a drug dealer in Mexico or New Mexico said sunthin’ like that once.

What are you talking about in frunt of our boy, John Marston. Jack don’t wanna hear that silly shit about you going to Mexico. Ew, you went to Mexico?

Shut up woman. Hmm, maybe better not mention the drug dealer and what John thought was just some friendly man-to-man advice at the time. The boy needed advice like a bull needs a pair of horns, he thought. Huh. He’d probably better not tell his wife about the beautiful whore he was now seeing up the road, either.

As John approached the gate to Casa Madrugada, he witnessed yet another NPC conflict, this time between the whore who’d been standing at the gate, and a crazed-looking man in a sombrero. If John didn’t do somethin’ quick… well hell, the the madman was already chokin’ her, so John got down off his horse, and once down, he was already STABBING her.

“Hay, like git off ‘er n’ stuff,” said John in his gringo tongue, but to no avail. The madmang lifted his knife again, and

BANG BANG BANG!

The volcanic pistol went off three times and all three bullets had found their mark. The madman was dead in a pool of blood, but John had also accidentally struck the woman herself in her brand new stab wound with the first shot. “Sorry, ma’am,” he said, and the woman screamed and ran off beyond the gates of town and up the mountain peak pass. What happened next was nothing more than another tale of John Marston trying to the be hero, and this time fucking succeeding, cuz that’s what John Martson does. And done did do. As best he could.

20141127-121450.jpg

“Ma’am, where’d ya get off to?  I will take you to safety even if I have to hogtie you with a lasso.”

(That’s right, I played through this game as a paladin this time around, and found it to be a rewarding, “Right” way of doing things, but then again, I never finished it when I was playing the Black-Hearted “Prick” John Marston all those years ago when it first came out. “Grand Theft Horse,” one of my friends called the game, and I laughed, because hell yeah, no company has made stealing cars as fun as Rockstar. The horseplay they promised with Red Dead Redemption turned out to be some of the most fun one could have on a console.)

Back at Casa Madrugada, the madman’s blood stain still greeted all passing through the town’s gate, but the body had been taken away. John hitched his horse up at the inn or whatever these folk called it, had two drinks at the bar, and lost $20 at Liar’s Dice. Interressin’ game, John thought. I would have paid $30 in game dollars for a lesson like that. Whoop, is that the time? 6:00 a.m.? Holy shit on the dot. One more drink fer the road. Tequila? Hell yep. John left the bar with a reel in his step and jumped up in the shotugn seat for the long ride home. (Meanwhile, I’ve got to take my shower before work, so I’ll just let the let the dude drive me the whole way there while I type this and do that.)

When I get out of the shower, John is back in Casa Madrugada and I start asking all the local folk what the fuck happened, and why was I not back up at my ranch? “Accident on the road senor. You passed out dead, but we brought you back to life.” Sheeit, John thought, is there still time? He hopped the closest stage coach, chose home as his destination, “Casa,” he said, “Mi casa, por favor senor and stuff,” he tried, and the coach driver laughed, and then John held a gun to his head. “Fast travel, motherfucker,” he said, and the horses took off.

It was nigh on to dusk by the time he reached home. I can still make it, John said as he dashed off toward’s Jack’s cabin on the edge of the farm. The stagecoach driver took off, yelling “Yoo-Hoo” or something in his native tongue, happy with whatever shitty money John gave him. Come back between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., the game said. It was a quarter after eight in the evening. God damn it, guess I’ll jist have to put it off until tomorrow, John decided. Wonder what’s happenin’ in Armadillo tonight?

20141127-121552.jpg

Sunset from ma screen door or sunthin’

Monsters and the Monsters that Hunt Them

November 21, 2014

By jove, I think I may be getting better at these goddamned video games!

In direct continuation from this week’s unexpected post, I am happy to announce that I have successfully slain Dragonslayer Ornstein and the vile Executioner Smough. In that order, too, which people will tell you is the wimpy or wasteful way to go about it, but I actually wanted Smough’s fat man grotesquerie armor, so I am not torn up about any so-called “lost opportunity” for the haughty dragonslayer’s gear.

Ratshit Cookie finished the battle at level 58 wielding a +2 crystal halberd, which is probably about to break. Now able to teleport at will across Dark Souls’s lush country of death, we return to Firelink Shrine to plot our next adventures…

So I’m proud of that.

Another recent happening on the EpicuziplayiT front is the bestowing of long-awaited props upon the Monster Hunter series. It’s been there as long as I can remember, and recommended for nearly as long a time. I could never get into it, for reasons both real and imagined. Mostly it’s the fact that you have to collect thousands of crappy little items, catalog them, and then turn them into gear, which is the only way you can “level up.” Bones, fluids, seeds, bullets, skins, grasses, and fuck, what a lot of weapons and armor there is to make. How could one possibly collect it all? The answer is, you can’t, and accepting that is the first step that I could never take until now.

Monster Hunter 3rd for the PSP showed up last weekend at Book Off used for ¥280, which is now actually ¥10 cheaper than a beef bowl at Matsuya. There are certain games that eventually sell for these ridiculously low prices when they make too many on initial release, or subsequent titles render them irrelevant. Dragon Quest VIII was one, and I still remember buying it in the store in Tennoji (or was it Abeno?) all those years ago for ¥1000 and being worth more joy than a barrel full of drugs and monkeys. If only all games scaled in price when the new ones came out.

Being a hunter, it can be a bitch. You’ve got to manage all kinds of shit like money and cats, cook your own meat for stamina, and keep careful track of your inventory to make sure you have enough potions or empty slots to store dinosaur dung. That said, the game is incredibly colorful and fun as hell. Taking what I learned from Dark Souls about combat, I’d say I’m much better off than I would be otherwise. You can’t get up in the monsters’ faces like a bad birthday surprise and hack them to pieces because it just won’t work. The things are tanks that are capable of taking a full minute’s worth of assault while unconscious and still retain the energy to chomp you a new mudhole.

As for the great hurdle of mentally dealing with the vast amount of materials to gather, I just send everything to my nigh-bottomless box and the weapon smiths will tell me on the same screen both what they need and whether I have it. At the moment, they tell me that I must needs find a good source of something called “bearlight ore” and I’ll soon be in possession of a weapon that looks leagues ahead of anything I’m carrying. It’s a pipe. It plays battle songs and knocks monsters to their asses. I wants it, and will not rest until it’s mine.

Toot toot, motherfuckers. It’s the Season of the Monster.

Dark Souls, Dark Room, Bright Home

November 19, 2014

Hey, you want to know what games be fucking epic cuz i play them? Yeah, well, that’s the theme of this here fucking my blog so okay:

Dark Souls is damn epic, not only cuz i play it, but damn what a lot of motherfuckers there are on the Internets and Elsewheres who know how to do that what I do nots. There are two, at least two separate wikis that cover the whole-ass game, with narry a detail neglected. Folks on Youtubes be showing off just how great their own game is with their techniques, builds, and damnable speed runs that make us all look like garbage. Redditors are always on the ready with their helpful if not condescending advice be for noobs, but mostly just there to spoil the whole fucking game for anyone with an ear foolish enough to be listening.

Well hell, it’s not as if I have 700 hours to play Dark Souls just because I want to get good at it, right?  Or do I?  Maybe just enough to talk some shit? Well, aiight.  I am currently at war with the Les Enfants Terrible, Slough and Berndawort. No wait, Heckyl and Schmeckel. Whatever, those two huge douchebags up in Anor Londo who I will now try to but probably never kill.

I have to eject the Ducktales DVD from my PS3 and put it into the Dark Souls case. Dark Souls and Ducktales — now that would be one hell of an epic crossover. As it was, this past month, we played both games separately, and then watched the very first 7 or 8 episodes of Scrooge McDuck simultaneously managing his nephews and nemeses. Watched and played a whole bunch of Yokai Watch (2), too.  Being the father of an Epicuzi Jr. is well, awesome.

My PS3 seems louder than before. Could it be that the game is actually.. hurting the unit? As punishment for all my deaths? Or could it be that it’s just 6:00 a.m. and everything sounds fucking loud in a dark living room?  As I load up Ratshit Cookie, Level 55, I think about what weapons I’ll use this time. Nah, what I’m really thinking about is how Motoi Sakuraba’s (Golden Sun, Baten Kaitos, Smash Bros.) soundtrack is tits as ever. I give it five tits out of tits.

(Dude Miyazaki, director of DS was highly inspired by the look and feel of the manga Berserk, and made it fucking look great, I might add.)

6:30:  There’s no way I am going to kill those two fuckwads, so I’d better do some grinding for souls, which will provide the numbers and practice necessary to take on the wretched twosome.  I begin by beating the fuck out of the Londonian Silver Knights (each has their own page in each wiki), one-handedly using a  Zweihander (German for “two-hander,” get it?)  to smash them flat as pancakes, or “pancaking” they asses.

I am currently undead, but I don’t fret. I’m going to visit my friend the Blacksmitch and forge this gargoyle helm deeper. I look like Dead Guts.  I look good…aaand a silver knight deals me a deathblow. Fuck I suck at this game sometimes. Now I gotta go back and get my stuff. Hope it’s on the way to the Blacksmitch.

My other Tamagotchi is a Hollow

My other Tamagotchi is a Hollow

Woke up in a campfire, upped the stakes by popping three humanities – not even turning back into a human yet. More silver knights.  Archers.  Spearman.  Swordy-swords.  I switch up to my badass Halberd and try a new poke-and-parry style.  Holy shit, I actually time a parry-riposte against a spearman.  Success: got everything back and upgraded a bunch of shit on the way. Humanity count: 3.

Yes, I got all my shit back and a little extra shit. Met Smitty, the Giant Blacksmitch. Upgraded the fuck out of my Guts armor, Baldur’s sword, and a Crystal Halberd for reasons not entirely determined (I hear those things are hard to repair except by upgrading). Trekked back to the campfire and oh, and I came back to life, too. This means that I’m at a good place, so I better get dressed and go to work before I do something stupid like die again.

It will have to wait until next time when me and Sunny D. set off to take down the unlikely twins, Ethel and Bethel or whoever the fuck..

Hmm. I just thought of a wickedly hard-to-make Halloween costume set for my kids next year

I am the Yokai Watcher on the Wall

September 16, 2014

Years from now, a generation of Japanese men and women will be fondly reminiscing about the summer of 2014 as the Summer of Yokai Watch 2. Heard of this game? You will. It met the 2 million-unit sales mark less than a month into its release, and that is probably important, but I’m much more impressed by the game itself and everything it encapsulates about being young in Japan during summer vacation.

In this game, you play a Japanese fifth-grade boy or girl whose summer vacation has just begun, and your main quest involves doing all the things that Japanese kids do on their month and a half-long break between the first and second semester. Now what is that exactly? Well, catching bugs, going fishing, and street festivals play a big part in this, but also going to visit your relatives out in the boonies is a very real, if not stereotypical part of the Japanese childhood experience. Somehow, Level 5 has translated all of this and more into a cohesive game that makes goofing off in your town just as worthwhile as fighting monsters. And if you’ve ever spent time in a Japanese town, you’ll see just how immaculately they have managed to recreate damn near everybody’s childhood here with a fully-interactive environment more realistic than even the metropoli of Grand Theft Auto. I fucking love it.

Whenever I move back to the United States with my family (no matter how much I’d love to do just that, let me tell you) I am inevitably going to miss my life in Japan, and I think it will weigh even heavier on my wife and children who were born here. But I know that whenever I need the flavor of being alive here in this crazy country, I will always be able to jump into a game of Yokai Watch 2 and be magically transported back with wizardry that would make Doraemon blush.

As for the meaty questy part of the game, you have the very Pokemon-esque task of catching and cataloging the many monsters you encounter. These are the titular Yokai, a word which refers the mythical creatures of Japanese folklore. For anyone up on this, either through traditional tomes or other expositions into the Yokai world such as Ge Ge Ge no Kitarou, the familiar faces of the single-eyed umbrella ghost or the lady with the long neck are easy to place. If you’ve studied Japanese and can piece together the linguistics of the Yokai’s pun-heavy names, you will feel a sense of satisfaction and amusement at their clever, if not groan-worthy nomenclature. But for most of the Western world, you’re pretty much fucked, and the Yokai all going to look like just, well.. fucking Pokemon, making it all too easy to dismiss the game as a big rip-off of the successful Game Freak formula.

But they’re not Pokemon. They’re sentient spirits of the Yokai world which overlaps our own human world like something out of an Algernon Blackwood story. The Yokai affect our pliant human minds and manipulate our actions without us even knowing about it. Are spacing out today? Perhaps there’s a Wasurenbo invisibly clinging to your head, chewing on your memories and making you forgetful. Are you falling asleep at your desk? It’s not because you stayed up all night drinking and playing Smash – there’s likely a Baku lurking somewhere in the room and lulling you to sleep so it can eat your dreams – yum! Did you get the urge to clean up your house? No, you’re not on speed – there’s a Katazukerai somewhere making you obsessively need to straighten everything up!

If you had a Yokai Watch on your wrist, you’d be able to see these things, and start taking measures to get rid of them, typically by summoning a different Yokai with counteracting powers. Once defeated and befriended, the Yokai are yours to summon at will, although honestly in this game, you’re mostly making six-member parties to auto-fight other groups of Yokai. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s Pokemon for Japanese people who are sick of Pokemon.

It’s not difficult to see why this game has so far had very little traction outside of its country of origin, because it’s just so goddamn Japanese in that you have a set of very real settings and traditions and lingo that struggle for purchase outside the native mindset. When they bring this game over to the States and beyond, it’s going to be like trying to market igloos in the Sahara, but I’m convinced that Yokai Watch is a real opportunity for people around the world to actually learn something interesting and real about Japan. At the very least, it will give them something besides their snide and tired mumbles about tentacle porn and used panty machines to invoke when discussing Japan on the internet. A daunting task, but god damn, how noble.

How I’d love to be part of that elite squad of localizers, deconstructing the names of the Yokai, rechristening them with shiny new Westernized monickers, and researching all the ancient and modern lore to tell their tales in tasty little bite-sized blurbs for the Yokai Encyclopedia you build in the game. A dream job, eaten by a Baku, egged on by whatever Yokai is responsible for making me need to keep these go-nowhere teaching jobs and drink all this fucking alcohol every night. Fuck it, I’m going fishing.

Snaking Bad

July 9, 2014

I suck at Metal Gear Solid games. Love them to death, but I suck at them, and somehow you just know there’s going to be a big heaping bubbling septic tank of criticism coming, so let’s put our feet up (knees above the waist) and let me take my own dump before I empty the whole thing into the ocean of collective thought to disperse and mutate the aquatic plantlife.

Metal Gear Solid 4 – yes, FOUR as in the one that came out six years ago – is a 12-hour movie you watch between a dozen 25-minute sessions of gameplay. It’s unconventional to say the least, but I suppose this makes it impossible to call it a short game.

Oooh that felt good. Let’s squeeze out another.

This movie, then, is about Snake the old fart ninja who wins every battle in spite of his bumbling, and yet manages to lose every war in spite of being a psycho badass. Infiltrate the enemy’s camp? Good job, your nemesis kills everyone and gets away. Make contact with the enemy scientist and kill a boss? Awesome, your base of operations is compromised. Every chapter so far ends like the Empire Strikes Back, and the prize for completion just gets worse and worse. Something makes you think that if Snake had just gone to a Cubs game that day he’d have had a better chance of seeing victory.

Plop ploppity plop plop plop.

It always drives me nuts that they say you should avoid conflict and try to sneak around instead of engaging the enemy. We all know that this is fucking impossible. Even with radar marking the positions and vision fields of the enemy soldiers, you’re going to get spotted, and it’s going to be a bloodbath. Not to mention that there are like 100 different types of weapons and dozens of accessories for them. And picking up weapons give you money to buy – more weapons! So basically they included and programmed all this useful heavy shit, and you’re supposed to ignore it all. Fuck that. Give me a P-90 and let me kill all these stupid assholes, please Santa Claus?

Courtesy flush. Let’s wipe up.

If you can filter out all of the stupid crap that annoys you about MGS (I’m not even going to get into the retarded flophouse of its controls), you’re left with a pretty awesome and powerful game. Basically, don’t listen to anyone on the radio, shoot everyone with a silencer, and have snacks and drinks at the ready in case it’s time to watch another goddamn cutscene. Nukes and robots, the modern war machine and its economy, stealth, weapon, and nano tech all mix together to make a killer batch of Grandpa Cigarette’s 21st Century War Time Cookies that you can dunk in blood. It’s great fun when you win, neck-stabbingly frustrating when you lose.

It would be a good game to take to a deserted island (off the coast of Alaska). If you put all other games and a good part of your life on hold, I have no doubt that you could become intimately familiar with the stages and patterns of the enemies and work your way up to the rank of Big Boss by being a slick motherfucker who never gets caught. Hell, you might even find a way to take down the bosses using Playboys or other non-lethal means, but it will take time. Time that the egotistical designers believe you should spend on their crazy-ass game. Time you could be using to polish up your Smash technique, learn a new language, have sex with a human, wash your pets, or otherwise live. Most games are like this, and it’s good of Konami to include nearly endless content in challenge form. But I suck at Metal Gear games, and they will never fail let me know that any victory I achieve will always glow pathetic next to Hideo Kojima’s big smart awesome and wonderful guy accomplishments.

Somebody open a window.

You may kill the slime

June 7, 2014

It’s turning out to be a bad weekend for RPGs. Which sucks, because this is ostensibly the best time to play them – 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday with my family sound asleep. Frankly I’m surprised I didn’t scream and wake everyone up when those Mandoragoras killed me in Final Fantasy IX just now.

I picked up FInal Fantasy IX again because I thought that my save file was at the very beginning of Disc 2. While it is very near the beginning, it has none of that Disc 2 intro stuff that I was counting on for orientation. Where are we in the story? What are my current goals and party members? And what the fuck did I name everybody this time around?

Doesn’t matter. I bit it in less than ten minutes and have no desire to pick it up again until, perhaps I’m on the plane taking me back home this summer for a month’s worth virtual reality in the good old US of America. Plenty of time to get refamiliarized with everything on Iifa’s green Gaia then.

I was supposed to be playing Dragon Quest V, but in my haste to get the hell out of work for the weekend, left the 3DS charging in my desk where it sits now.

Nice game, that. It’s healthy to play Dragon Quest games. I wanted to get VIII for the phone, but $30 is kind of a fucked up ridiculous well not really because it’s great but I can’t justify it because I already have the game for PS2 price. You should buy it, though. Especially if you played the non-Japanese version, because when you did that, you got a shitty version of the game.

The Western localization of Dragon Quest VIII for the PS2 featured voice actors, which for Dragon Quest games is fucking blasphemy. You’re not supposed to hear the voices. When you talk to someone or even read text in ANY OTHER Dragon Quest game, you hear a range of tones going bloop and bleeb and THAT’s the voice. It’s like a compass for your imagination to work with and hear the words in your head. It’s part of the Role-Playing Experience(™) to imagine things for yourself. In a big, big world, your character on the map is obviously a grossly enlarged representative version of your tiny self. Each step you take is like half a mile in reality, and each battle, though executed with menu commands is actually a rollicking fracas with jumping and swearing and the clang of steel. Dragon Quest has a tradition of sound effects for these things, and they’ve remained unchanged since 1986, motherfuckers. So cut the shit and don’t assume we want to hear the profanity of human speech when stabbing slimes in the ass.

Right, so I didn’t buy it. But DQV for the DS can be reliably found at a reasonable price, and I bought such for such one rainy Saturday night last month and got caught back up in the Zenithian saga again. This game is unique in that at a certain point you are forced to marry one of three women who will bear your child who will take up the sword in a kind of Dragonballsy epic fashion. Interesting story mechanic, but could the choice possibly be any more aggravating?

Here are the maidens from which you have to choose:

Bianca: You go adventuring with her early in the game when you’re still a child. And she’s blonde. Balanced melee fighter / spellcaster.

Flora: Hair of blue. It is revealed that she is kind. Strong spellcaster, weak defense.

Debra: Debra is Flora’s black-haired bitch-ass bitch of a bitch sister. Strong melee fighter. Not featured in the original Dragon Quest V, so you think I’d rally against her very programming code for that fact alone.

 

dragonquestdeadwivestease

Ladies and gentlemen, Mrs. Debra Cuziplayit.

Truth be told, I didn’t want to marry at all. I didn’t think it was a particularly good time to be wedded, what, in the middle of my epic quest and all. I slay and bleed every day and stay at shady taverns every night, and it’s no way to start a family. But I suppose if you look at it from the standpoint that you didn’t have a choice whether or not to fight monsters in the game – you either do it or you don’t proceed – getting married is really not so different from killing a slime.

So here I sit, not playing any RPGs, thinking how best to make the time go by. Hey wait, that’s right! I have a family! I’m going to cook some bacon and wake their ass up.

20140607-210804.jpg

Right Said Red Dead Confection

May 10, 2014

Holy shit, I’d forgetten how fantastic Red Dead Redemption is. It’s one of those games from my 360 Degrees of Darkness era, and the games played on it can be hard to remember. It can be hard, man.

At first I thought I wanted to play GTA IV again. I was wrong. It’s funny because at the same time I was waiting to download and play GTA V, Rockstar was having a sale on the PSN and I got the complete Red Dead with all the DLC for like $10. I started the game to get past the intro, then played a whole shitload GTA V when it was finally released, and life went on. I’ve started no less than three new Final Fantasy games since then, a new game of Baten Kaitos (attempt #3 is well on, by the way… in fact.. maybe after I write this bullshit…)

Oh! Here’s an update, I guess. I turned a new number and on that day received a second PS3 controller, and it is a beaut (coloration more than appropriate for current game). It’s allowed me and Guy to play some incredible games together. More later, make a note.

Fuck, as I was typing this, my stagecoach was taking me across the land, there was a robbery on the side of the road, and fuck me if it doesn’t always happen like this, check it out.

So someone’s screaming about “treasure, it’s mine!” and there’s gunfire. As I dismount the coach and run over to the commotion, I discover two men shooting at a third man fleeing. Are they law? Sounds like their MO. So I wait to see their dots become badges (allies of the law) on my radar. They become red dots instead. They’re shooting at me. I lasso one, and when the other doesn’t stop shooting, I grab my revolver and plug him in the guts. It executes a fatality scene, which is just enough time for the other guy to untie the lasso and shoot my ass in the back. Or is it shoot my back in the ass?

It can be difficult playing as a good guy, and I’m going all out Paladin on this motherfucker. Marston 360 from back in the day would shoot damn near anyone on the road in broad daylight to loot their corpse. The dots often turned out to be badges in those cases, resulting in just as many, if not more dramatic capers than our current Golden reddened Boy John Lannister Marston, as I’m calling him. I guess. Anyway, there’s a thunderstorm on, so I’m out.

20140510-071720.jpg

GTA: Lost Sainthood

April 25, 2014

I found this post from last year that I couldn’t believe wasn’t uploaded. It was barely topical for the saturation of GTAV-related coverage at the time, and even less relevant now that the only people I know who still play this games are the people of /r/trees. I guess that makes it more ridiculous to post it now, but god damn it, I think this needs to be said. For as much as I loved this game, well… let’s just take a trip back to October of yesteryear:

I finished Grand Theft Auto V last night which means that preparations begin today on cordoning off Midosuji Boulevard to hold a parade in my honor. You’ll see me on the Bethesda float playing Fallout: New Vegas again.

I’ve been meaning to think about meaning to talk about this game because it was on the horizon when last I preached. It’s not like there aren’t 5,000 reviews out there or that you haven’t played it for yourself, but I don’t keep a diary and yet want to preserve the memory of what will certainly be remembered as a major title in the history of video gamery.

It’s pretty good. Which is surprising, because my instinct is to enshrine anything that I devote 100+ hours to as epic by nature of my attention. However, I could not get anywhere near as excited about playing this one compared to other GTA titles, and I have to tell you, it made me a little sad.

As far as controls, gameplay, and environment go, GTAV was probably the greatest achievement of Rockstar Games, and I commend them. If you like driving around and taking in the scenery or causing wanton chaos in the street, there is no better way to do it than by playing this game. It’s just wonderful and we should stand in awe of the designers. If you’ve ever spent more than 24 hours building something in Minecraft, you can really appreciate that the amount of work that went into the state of San Andreas was fucking colossal.

That being said, the game does a surprisingly bad job of creating the illusion of immersion, which has more or less been a key strength of GTA games where players believe that the insane freedom granted to the characters is actually theirs. From the very beginning of the game, I was not impressed that San Andreas is actually an island. Look at the map: it’s a fucking goddamn island. And yet, there are highways and byways and all of these long-distance hauling vehicles going where, exactly? 10 miles across the state? Because that’s about as far as you’re going to get on land from any point to the next. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

If Los Santos is meant to be a mirror-version of Los Angeles, there are some serious gaps in geography, especially considering that when Carl C.J. Johnson was in charge, the same landmass was shared by no less than three major cities. So what happened? Did San Fiero and Los Venturas sink into the sea? A tragedy like that would be a major part of the culture, and yet the events of September 11th are referenced on popular Los Santos radio stations, as if that could still be relevant in a time where 75% of a single state suddenly disafuckingpeared into the god damned fucking ocean.

I don’t know why it makes me mad, but it does. Border the state with mountains or something. Create a fucking probation bracelet that explodes if you try to cross any borders out of the game’s playable area. But don’t fucking tell me that San Andreas is a 100 square mile island, because I won’t buy it. Oahu is an island. Does it look like fucking Los Angeles? Hell no, it doesn’t! The weight of the highway system alone would force it underwater. God damn it, so I hate the island thing and now we all get it let’s move on.

Other instances of bullshit that ensures you will not feel immersed are things like having a back door to your home which cannot be opened (come on), and a bottle of beer sitting on your counter that one: you would ever think to drink out of, and two: that you can drink out of forever. You can actually get blind drunk by taking hundreds of sips out of a 12 oz. goddamned beer bottle. Now you can get just as drunk drinking out of the never ending whiskey bottle, too. And yet, no matter how smashed you are, you’ll be sober enough to pilot Air Force One in less than ten minutes, or about two hours in game time. As an alcoholic, I have a major problem suspending disbelief about these kinds of things, and think that if they were smart enough to take out the eating thing, they probably should have completely removed the drinking thing, too. Taking bong rips is a little more interesting, but still just a silly distraction. Maybe if I were a kid who wasn’t supposed to be playing this game like 50% of the players out there are, I’d find it more amusing.

Never mind the fact that out of the thousands of buildings placed around the state, only a couple dozen have any actual interiors and the rest are static exteriors. I’m hoping that future DLC will open some of them up, and I’ll wait to see if it does.

Now if that wasn’t harsh enough, here’s something nobody wants to admit in print: the story is probably the weakest of all GTA games, and that includes the top-down versions of 1 and 2, which had you playing as a fast-driving hustler for hire, no questions asked. Not a bad technique, especially for the arcade-style gameplay it featured. GTA games didn’t really get dramatic and plot driven until 3, but 3 took an anonymous character and put him into incredible circumstances that made you feel that it was what you had to do. Vice City gave you a character with a back story, also thrown into a wild situation out of which he clawed tooth and nail to the top of the game. Are you seeing a pattern here? These characters lived out their lives of crime as a survival mechanism, and it brought them varying degrees of success and victory. GTA V features not one, but three fuck-ups who are all at heart, just opportunists who are greedy and bored and nihilistic enough to try their hand at something big. Not an intriguing setup, and the implications portend further worship of aimless, preposterous, unmerited success for all who buy into the story. Fuck that shit. The dialogue is terrible, too. “I’m getting too old for this nonsense,” is the literally last line of the game, and the cliche couldn’t have less of an impact even if it wasn’t cribbed from the script of the Lethal Weapon movies. It’s a story, yes, I get it, but it’s only compelling if you care about the characters, which you don’t, so I don’t feel bad about spoiling anything, because this fruit was rotten to begin with.

There, harsh enough? Because I actually liked playing the game quite a bit. The expectations ran just a little bit too high this time, that’s all. It’s a big legacy to live up to, and they created something monumental without a doubt. But if you want my honest assessment, GTAV bears all the hallmarks of a Star Wars prequel: beautiful, big-budget gorilla shit. I purchased it, hell I pre-ordered it with money, and I don’t have a lot, so I don’t feel bad in telling you this game gives a lot of head, but few epic blowjobs.

 

 

The 100 Wonderfullest-ass Games in the World (part 4/4)

March 14, 2014

10. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!!! – Note the three exclamation marks. I’ve heard this described as the “perfect game” or “the very bestest game ever made in the world ever,” and yeah, it’s pretty epic. How can such a deep game about boxing be accomplished with only a directional pad and two buttons? It’s simply incredible and holds up as a true classic. The addition and subsequent subtraction of Mike Tyson makes it all the more legendary.

9. Arnold Palmer’s Tournament Golf – Really? Yep. Remember, it’s epic because I played it, and for me, this was the first game that came close to making the game of golf enjoyable without windmills. Memorizing club strengths and taking into account the direction and speed of the wind, spacing the feet apart, and following those little lines on the green to sink a perfect putt – when it’s a video game, it’s not completely pointless and wasteful. All golf games should be video games, and they should all try to be as good as this one.

8. Toe Jam and Earl – This game deserves another playthrough and a whole article devoted to it, so I’m going to ramble on a bit about this one. A rich kid in our town got a Super Nintendo before any of us, and somehow through the magic of money got Toe Jam and Earl for the Genesis in the same day. Needless to say he became very popular, and another one of my friends and I found it necessary to sleep over at his house. That night, in spite of the imminent power of the SNES, we ended up playing probably 90% TJ&E because it was so fucking funny, challenging, and the cooperative gameplay was much more meaningful than any game we had ever played. You play as aliens, searching the earth for your lost spaceship parts, collecting mysterious presents that could be helpful weapons, extra life or lives, or even instant deaths. You had to contend with various earthlings such as swarms of bees, a lady pushing her kid around in a shopping cart and screaming at it to SHUT UP!!, the Nerd Herd, and the Boogeyman himself who would boogey you to death or knock you off the stage to fall a few levels, forcing you to find your way to the elevators that would bring you back. You could get separated from your buddy and sometimes have to hop down to help them out. You could get good at identifying presents and knowing which wrapping papers to avoid until you accidentally open a randomizer which mixes up all the contents and forces you to start trial and erring with them all over again. If you had Icarus Wings or rocket skates, you could go back to level 1 and cross the sea to the southwest to drop down a hole and visit the secret level which had a lemonade stand and chicks in a hot tub who would “titter titter” as you “chat chat”ed with them. You burped when you drank root beer. You could have a rap jam instead of playing the adventure. The adventure could be randomized or standardized, and it was just about the greatest game ever. They really fucked up the sequels, but this first one should be enshrined, infused with the soul of a saint and be guaranteed a spot in the afterlife because if it isn’t there, I’m not going.

7. Thunderforce III – I know I say that a lot of games have the best soundtrack ever, but Thunderforce III has the best soundtrack ever, and it really does. If you don’t believe me, you should play it. In that way, I hope you doubt everything I’ve ever said, because it would require you to actually sit down and enjoy some of this shit, which would bring me joy. Not as much as simply having my opinion respected and considered every once in a while, but definitely more than a brand new Game Gear. Anyway, Thunderforce III is just a kick fucking ass side scrolling space shooter with dope bosses and treacherous environments. Did I mention it has the best fucking soundtrack ever? Man, is it good.

6. King’s Quest IV – One of the earliest games where you play the heroine rather than the hero. That’s pretty cool, and it was still a parser style command game, and our commands just got grosser and grosser. If you were to log the commands typed into King’s Quest IV when I was 10 years old (or 33 for that matter), they’d be like PICK UP BOW (okay) TAKE OFF CLOTHES (i don’t understand) UNDRESS (I don’t understand) SHOW TITS (i don’t understand) FUCK YOU (now what kind of language is that) SUCK MY DICK (i don’t understand ‘suck’) YES YOU DO BECAUSE YOU SUCK COCKS FOR A LIVING (i don’t understand). Great game with slightly more sensible puzzles than some of its predecessors, a lot of it based on classic fairy tales, though there was some bullshit that could really get you screwed, like digging up too many graves and your shovel breaking. Or the fact that you had to save and load and pray in order to get through the troll’s cave, because it was actual luck (or a random number generator if you want to be a nerd about it) that determined if you could proceed to the next screen without the troll showing up and dragging you off to your death by the braids. Weird random memory: Playing this game in the den while my parents watched a made-for-TV movie called “Perfect People” about a married couple who end up getting liposuction, hair implants and plastic surgery. I think they get hooked on prescription drugs, too. The TV was just a couple feet to the right of the computer monitor, so I ended up watching a bunch of it and realizing that adults were very susceptible to becoming (or perhaps remaining) insecure lameasses.

5. Super Mario All-Stars – Ka-ching, motherfucker! Four games in one slot. Hey, Nintendo did it and so can I. It was such a great idea to port the first four Super Mario Bros. games to the SNES on a single cartridge, so of course I bought that shit up (and did it once again when they made it for the Wii). I played this one listening to the Beavis and Butt-Head Experience CD – remember that one? Literally got to the very last stage in the Lost Levels (which was actually just Japan’s Super Mario Bros. 2) but could not beat it. All the other ones, though, got their due. It was with this game that I realized that not all that glitters is gold, and not all graphic and sound updates are as lovable as their original incarnations. George Lucas would later drive the point home when he added those extra scenes to the Star Wars movies and made them stupid.

4. Chrono Trigger – Take the artwork of Dragonball’s Akira Toriyama and a Squaresoft RPG and you get… Dragon Quest! No, wait – Enix and Square were still two separate companies (I almost wrote ‘countries’) at the time. This is just a brilliant RPG with excellent music, story, and god damn fucking everything. I play this game, or at least start a new quest every winter and listen to the Roots’ second album because it’s a tradition. One of these days I swear I’m going to try out a game that snubs Magus in favor of helping Frog, but it’s really hard to pass up adding such a badass to the party. Bonus – the Japanese version for the DS has both English and Japanese options, and you can switch between them at will.

3. Super Smash Bros. (N64) – I’ll tell you a story. Be quiet. When I was in the throes of my first bout with Pokemon madness, I got into some wack shit. I had seen the Pokemon movie in American theaters. I played 50 hours of Pokemon Snap trying to photograph the little shits. I kept my money and driver’s license in a Pikachu wallet. And still, I was yet to control a Pokemon in a game as the Pokemon itself. The same way I wanted a Final Fantasy-esque role-playing game with Zelda-style slashing, I wanted to BE the Pokemon and jump around and attack enemies with all my Poke-might. It must have been the late spring of 1999 when my friend and I visited Toys R Us and they had a game at the playable Nintendo 64 display which I had never seen or heard of. It was called Super Smash Bros. and seemed to be a kind of fighting game where you could play as classic Nintendo characters. Among them, Pikachu was playable, and I was like hot Koffing shit! Pikachu was playable! I grabbed the controller and jumped and attacked and fought, and we must have played the game for an hour there in the store. Not soon after that, this friend owned a copy of the game and we began playing it as part of our evening ritual of drinking and smoking and cursing and getting fucked up and playing video games. Life was very fulfilling then, on summer breaks from college. By the time school started again and I had moved back to my college town, playing Smash remained the #1 game among my friends who remained at home. The next summer, Smash was still the de facto purpose of our nightly get-togethers and remained so all the way until December of 2001.

2. Super Smash Bros. Melee – This game came out in December of 2001. The anticipation had been swelling all year since we had heard that there was going to be a new Smash game with more characters, and a complete overhaul on the graphics, which though not necessary, would provide a new experience, which was welcome, because I’m not sure how long we’d be able to continue playing that first Smash Bros. game on the 64 without going mad. Our tradition continued through Smash Melee, and we logged thousands of hours fighting each other and perfecting our techniques. It became the deepest fighting game that was as much of a psychic battle of wits as it was a technical ballet of the fingers. Smash was representative of all conflicts in life, and like Miyamoto Musashi wrote in the Book of Five Rings… uh.. a bunch of very insightful stuff about battle and stuff. Smash became a kind of hyper chess that we played every fucking night, and it bound us together like a cult. My friendships with my fellow Smashers have not deteriorated even with years and miles between our meetings. We will meet again, and we will Smash again.

1. Super Smash Bros. Brawl / X – Which brings us to the present day. It was to be expected that we would all get the new Smash Bros. game even though we lived thousands of miles away from each other, but Brawl lets us continue to play over a Wi-Fi connection, which is really great. Though we can never truly replicate the summers at the turn of the century, at least we can use Gamecube controllers.  Smash has also always been like a kind of museum of Nintendo’s greatest achievements, and if you thought the number of collectible trophies in Melee was insane, Brawl lets you basically mount every one of Princess Peach’s pubes on pedestals for posterity. You can read the history of old games and characters, and even play demos of some of their classic titles right there in the game. You collect soundtracks. You collect stickers to modify character stats for the fully-realized adventure game included. So many goddamn characters to play and new strategies to explore. Items, stages, music music music. This is the game used for Smash tournaments where I live now. I have met fighters from across the world and observed their techniques and learned more about my fellow man through the advent of Super Smash Bros. It is the ultimate game and deservingly takes the number one spot on this list for its beauty, its playability, its sense of tradition, and the effects that it can create on your outlook on life and way of living. Well, at least my outlook on life and way of living. Which is all that really mattered in the first place. Do you even Smash, bro?

So there you are, fiends and neighbors. Play and play well because there is obviously a lot out there, and a significant amount of it is actually worth checking out. Someday, maybe today, you will have a list like this of your very own. I kind of want to kill some items on this bitch so I can squeeze in Leisure Suit Larry 6 and Gabriel Knight 2, but perhaps someday there will be a revised version up here. Oh fuck that. It took forever and wasted a lot of person’s time. And now it’s over and I can get back to trying to finish Quest for Glory IV here at work while nobody’s looking.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.