Falling Back In and Out of the Saddle

December 20, 2017

I don’t need to tell you this at this point, you guys mostly know what’s up.  Fallout 3, fucking epic.  Fallout New Vegas DAAAAMN fucking epic.  Fallout 4, eh, kinda epic.  Great technology; beautiful, great voice acting, ‘cept I didn’t like my dude’s voice.  I kinda don’t like my dude.  Shit, it’s been so long sinced I playedit – whatwashisname?  (shit now I have to plugin the ps4 to find out).  Ah yes…. Jazlout Mc Glockenspiel… Well who cares about him?  He was justsomepunk. 

Fuck him, today, we’re here to meet my Newest Vegas crew, a completely OP outfit of the malest of the male, the most masculine of the whatever, headed by none other than Eachyor Butquarack.  Hold up I spelled that wrongly: Butkquarack.  There.  Sorry, Eachyor.  Can I call you Eachyor?  I can’t?  Well, anyway I apologize, dude.

Please don’t kill me like those 48 people you’ve killed so far.  Or the 26 other creatures I’m seeing here in the stats.  Ah, I see you’ve taken 6 chems and never been addicted once.  Well, that shows some constitution.  Ooh, nice adamantium skeleton, by the way.  Is that real adamantium?   Cool.

It’s been a long but rapid adventure as we fly from place to place mutilating ass and making successful speech checks.  In today’s quest, we are going to get the Misfits at Camp Golf dosed with Psycho from the Great Khans.  This ultimately helps Mr. Butquarack rally all the biggest assholes in the game besides Caesar’s Legion and the vipers/fiends/justsomepunks who have no real Central Leadership.   

Still gotta kill Motor Run… unless I can recruit him too.  But fuck that – today, we make friends with the Khans, and that means going up through Red Rock Canyon.  I smash Mantises with a 9 Iron on the way up the mountain trail…. Fuck, killed by Cazadores.  We try a different approach this time from the Gas Station again and head west.  Oh great, now I gotta “Jump for joy up Besthesdian Mountains,” and I get high, but they ultimately cannot be crossed in this way.  Nice natural border to the Khan zone.  I suppose mods make this entrance possible, but I play strictly vanilla.  Hey, vanilla can be epic, too.

Jack the drugmaker hooks us up, then tells us to find Anders, who is the dude I found the other day on the crucifix outside Cottonwood Cove.  I’m vilified there, but I think everyone is dead, so it’s all good.  I free him.  Anders limps back and it looks as if it would take about a month for him to reach Red Rocks.  I go to Camp Golf, give ‘em the package, then return to the Khans and get paid 250 for freeing Anders who is miraculously, already returned (ain’t fast travel great?). 

Now I’m their drug mule and head over to Crimson Caravan to deliver a “mildly suspicious package” to a guy whose wife I think I ate. 

When I get back, my reward is 150 caps and a job delivering a “highly suspicious package” to Motor Runner himself.  Aww shit.  I talk my way in and I’m free to roam around Vault 3 all I want, and yet forget to pick up the maintenance suit.  I make bank and gotta teach Jack some new crank recipes, but otherwise my dealings with the Khans are over for now. 

Uhh, hope that wasn’t like spoilers or something.  I return to Return to Sender which is a big bitch.  A bitch with a glitch.  Hanlon, the guy who I KNOW has been sabotaging the radio signals between ranger stations won’t move his ass out onto the balcony and let me finish the quest.

So I take a side trip and go kill Caesar with the Euclid Finder.  I highly recommend doing that – one shot and like half a dozen Legionaries go down, plus the Man in Purple himself.  Then I pay Old Lady Gibson over 10,000 caps to repair my armor – this, I recommend maybe not so much.  But today, it’s worth it because now it’s time to win everything back on the Strip.  We’ll start by cleaning out Gomorrah.  They actually give me dope armor for winning at blackjack.  Maybe one more hand and I’ll leave ‘The Family’ alone when it’s time to do up Vegas and cash in my chips for good. 

I do and go visit Mr. House.  I have one of his chips now – a very dear thing according to him.  So I give it to him.  He’s smart and even more evil than me.  If I side with him, I could defeat the Legion, AND the NCR!  Interesting.  I’m going to work for him a little while longer and maybe not eat him right away.  Caesar sure was a tasty treat, though.

Fuckin Boomers, man.  Damn this game is long.  We could wrap up at just about any time now, but I’ve just unlocked all the locations on the World Map and am loathe to conclude the adventure.  Not when there are so many people left to eat.  180 more human feasts until Eachyor’s next rank. 

I do everything The Boom Booms want and the Quest slogs on.  I nearly drown Boone and Rex in Lake Mead since I have a rebreather, and they’re just doggy-paddlin’ it.  That miraculous fast travel saves the party and now I have to go to werk.  I don’t like that.  I’d rather be balling in the Wasteland.  And you will know when I have reached this goal when you see me on the train playing some epic shit, using PS4 Remote Play on my laptop tethered to my phone’s 4G.  Unfortunately, that will not be my commute this very fine day.


Animal Crossing for the Telephone is worth every dollar I never had to spend

November 26, 2017

To whomever wrote the “Nintendo should be ashamed of themselves” article in regards to the mobile app Animal Crossing, you, sir or madam, are a douchewank.

Let me explain in no gender specific narrative what this game is, means, and does.

We’ll start perhaps, with the history of Nintendo, who have run a successful game-making company for more than 100 years. In the late 20th Century, they invented a home game entertainment system that resurrected the idea of interactive digital entertainment in the home after Atari fucked it up and managed to convince the public at large that these so-called “video games” were nothing more than a fad best blamed on the overoptimistic spawn of the baby boomers. Perhaps a close relative of yours called it the “Intendo.”

Fast forward 20 years, and this same company continues creating home entertainment products including games and characters that pass the test of aging trends in ways the clothes you wear now will not. They continued to make games. They continued to make systems and games with the same characters of previous iterations in new and inventive ways. And though the gaming community has its share of opinions regarding which one wasn’t as good as the others, no franchise be it your Metroids, Marios, Zeldas, Smashes, Karts or Kirbys has ever been renounced as trash – until your stupid ass came along. Well, no, I take that back because it’s not true – you are one of thousands of multicellular butt-dwelling organisms who would tear down Nintendo on a regular basis be it for pay, publicity, or maybe just getting the wrong console for Christmas. Fuck you.

I am not saying that Nintendo can do no wrong. I’ll be the first to say that Donkey Kong 64 is a piece of repulsive binary waste, and that no portable Zelda game should ever be considered canon. You and I could probably agree that the Phillips CD-i ones make for a good joke, if only you had the capability for levity, but you’ve all too lately spent your credibility as being a real human by denouncing the company Nintendo as a whole, and a-hole is what you are.

How dare you. How motherfucking dare you say that Nintendo should feel ashamed of making Animal Crossing for the mobile phone. May I ask, before my profanity and insults reach illiterate levels, how much did you pay for this game during your evaluation period? Was it a lot? Can you write it off in your W-4? How about your W-10? Did you miss a meal because you needed to fashion a fashionable bench before some ostrich threatened to temporarily leave your campground? Did someone else reach level 20 before you?

If you answered 0 or “no” to any of the questions above, you’re still playing it wrong, and I think you have mistaken a phone application for a AAA release.

This whole Battlefront II debacle has left a ton of us with the digital equivalent of blaster shock, battlefront fatigue, PTSW, or whatever the fuck you care to call it. Their model was shit and we spoke up, and goddamn if we didn’t beat the bastards by making them literally change the game as we immortalized and memefied their failings while at the same time, the FCC stuck a big yellow dildo up all our internets. And even though EA is literally a secret society of dead pet molesters, we, the people who play games arrived at heretofore unseen lofts of entitlement, and we became, for lack of any more perfect word, cocky.

Cocks. We’re dicks. We expect the game companies to cater to us.
Overconfident. We think that we can rally against the companies that make shit for us and expect us to buy it, and be outraged that they would think to make a single motherfucking dollar off our joy.
Like a male rooster – looking to fuck that sweet sweet hen and create an egg that when I crack open to make an omelet, horrifies me with the embryo of a chick that left under its mother’s feathery cunt, would have been born unto this horrible world to make more eggs for me to make more omelettes.
But mostly dicks.

There is a big difference between FTP (Free to play) and SABOMATGRINABBABOSTMSYHAGT (spend a bunch of money and then get raped in the ass by buying a bunch of shit that may s.? actually I forget the rest of that acronym something to do with microtransactions). The point is Battlefront II cost a ton to acquire and had all the shit on the disc – unlockable by inhuman feats of time or privileged splurges of money. And that’s bullshit – it’s an uneven playing field. We had every right to be pissed. But what it does not entitle us to is to denounce the whole Free-To-Play model that has been a boon for the digital industry and given gameplayers the world over endless hours of entertainment for which they didn’t have to spend a fucking dime. A FUCKING DIME.

When it comes to FTP games, I expect that there is a crowd of folks who pay for content, bonuses, upgrades, and the like. But I’m not one of them. My victory lies in being able to enjoy the content for absolutely zero monies – that all of my feats are earned by merit and effort alone, and thank the developer for the time it takes off my commute to work. Sometimes I thank them for the time it takes off of the workday itself. One second I’m bored, the next, I’m invading somebody’s castle, or fighting legions of axe-wielding cats, or growing and selling weed, or catching and battling Pokemon, or making a campsite for my animal friends – none of whom are dicks.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is a game in which you kill time by building a campsite, customizing your RV, catching fish, making furniture, and shopping for clothes. May I ask what in the fuck you were expecting when you downloaded this game for free? Are you mad because money can be spent to speed up the progress? You shouldn’t be. That’s a golden standard. Let’s get the fuck over it – if you paid nothing to play it (and that doesn’t count getting free copies of retail games by your employer) – just play it, and join the millions of us who are just glad to take a moment out of the shitfest known as 2017 to chill with some friendly familiar fauna for fucking free. And speaking of things you shouldn’t be doing, maybe stop playing games on your phone because you sound bad at it. May I recommend one of the tens of thousands of titles on consoles, many of which were made by a company you think should be ashamed of themselves, upon which you can spent countless hours having incredible adventures and irreplicable experiences? Starfox 64 – great game – fun as fuck – available for the SNES, SNES Retro, Wii, and Wii U – but if you hate spending money, just get an emulator and download it onto your computer. Don’t worry – I won’t tell anyone. After all, you are a thief who would steal Nintendo’s dignity by compelling them to hang their head in shame for a free offering to their adoring fans.

What say thee, low fellator of rodents? Take thy thumb from out thine mouth and bite mine penis. Sure it’s not as good as the DS, 3DS, Gamecube, or even 64 version of Animal Crossing – but it’s fucking free, and it’s fucking fun enough to play on a lunch break. And stop spending money on free games. Those that can will, and those that do need not feel ashamed of themselves, either, as they’re giving money to a worthy cause: the creation for more fun and potentially epic shit to play. There’s enough information out there to let you know where your cash is worth spending, but your fucking article? Well, that’s just misleading and slanderous!

Breadth of the Styled

March 11, 2017

Breath of the Wild: no plot spoilers, but I am going to, you know, talk about the game, so if you don’t want to know anything about it, maybe don’t read this.  In fact, it would be far better for us all if you closed this browser window, picked up a Wii U or Switch controller right this moment and either purchased or began playing this game immediately because you have to.  I said so.  And only if you willfully disregard my words should you proceed down this page (see how I did that?)

I am amazed at just how fucking hard the new Zelda can be.  It is very easy to equate difficulty in a game with the ancient Dark Souls code: Dying is learning; Get gud, bithc.  Indeed, Death is a red-faced scolding mentor in Breath of the Wild, and more on-hand and ready to dispense its wisdom than in any other Zelda title.  Can you say one-shot kills?  Because you will get fucking wrecked by enemies and missteps alike in a way you haven’t experienced since the old King’s Quest games.  Or if you played Dark Souls, then Dark Souls.

One could make comparisons to other games all day long, and that’s just what I’m going to do because I want to have a comprehensive list here that touches on so many other titles that it reveals and spoils near to nothing for its confoundedness.  Also, I have a whole day at work with jack fucking shit to do except pine for the gorgeous terrain of Hyrule and wish that I was home.

  1. Dark Souls – did this; read the paragraphs above (or don’t).  Any game that can one-shot you in a battle that is technically possible to win is fucking Dark Souls.  But are we not forgetting other elements besides the sheer difficulty that makes both of these games so remarkable?  How about the flowing, singular, contiguous environment?  It all fits together and what you see is really there.  Also, enemies remain dead for a time, then come back to life after a fashion.  You collect weapons from them, and you will have to switch up your arms according to the situation.  Also, it’s fucking hard.
  2. Skyrim – that’s an easy one – yes, in this chapter of The Legend of Zelda, yours is a sprawling open country that could take you a finite forever to walk from one end to the other, but it can be done, and done convincingly because Nintendo fucking borrowed the godcraft necessary to make Hyrule the gigantic living world it has always deserved to be.  It is outstanding.  And I hold up the example of Skyrim for its rich variation of natural occurrences such as mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes, as well as the contrivances of its sentient inhabitants.  We got wild animals, too – and we shoot / stab them for food.
  3. Red Dead Redemption – remember Grand Theft Horse?  Well, we got wild horsies, all right, and riding them through the land is a treat sweeter than Chex Mix with Lembas Bits for your wearying journey.  They are magnificent beasts, and some are blue.  Not sad blue – blue blue.  Toilet bowl blue!
  4. Wander and the Colossus (Shadow of the Colossus) – So, in addition to the horsies mentioned above, scaling vertical surfaces is critical in this game – as critical as jumping is to Mario, to make a sort of tawdry familiar analogy.  Oh yes, and you can jump, too, with the push of a button, for the first time in any Zelda game since II: The Adventure of Link – which now that I think about it is a rather stupid title.  What Zelda game is not an adventure of Link?  Anyway, climbing requires stamina – just as it does in Colossus, and there is a meter that must be monitored when in use and expanded for greater odds of success – just as it must in Colossus.  Indeed, the mechanic is practically lifted straight from the game, but I don’t begrudge it too much, since games where you climb on shit are usually fucking rad, and this is no exception.  The colossal natural and wrought structures that Link must negotiate are a marvel to behold, and often afford you glorious views from their summits.  Actually, I want to take something back – fuck the stamina meter.  The game is complicated enough, and managing stamina is perhaps the least necessary or meaningful pains in the ass that we could do without.  But hey, in for a rupee, in for a.. silver rupee, I guess. 
  5. Final Fantasy XV: I’ve come up with a new recipeh!
  6. Portal (2): The shrines you visit in Breath of the Wild are technical trials devised by the sages of old which serve to teach Link the finer points of his enchanted artifacts and their many useful functions.  They are wonderfully reminiscent of the laboratory testing chambers of Aperture Science, and each one is more devious than the last.  Link’s clever manipulation of physical law and magical instruments give players a whole game’s worth of mind-diddling puzzles to solve and wrack their brains upon.
  7. Uhh.. Zelda?  Because this game is Zelda through and through.  The silent protagonist, the Trifecta of Hero, Heroine, and Villain, the setting, the fantastic races and other annoying humanoid dildoes who dwell there, the puzzles, the beauty, the subtle horror and dread, the tools, the Sword, the enemies, the all-consuming desire to restore the worthy land of Hyrule to peace and prosperity, the chickens, the.. well, the list goes on longer than my shitty list of other games this one resembles.  Or maybe it doesn’t and I should have put my last item somewhere in the middle.  Nevertheless, after but a single major dungeon I can say with swollen and presupposed authority that this is an exceptionally outstanding addition to the Zelda series, with exploration and discoveries that will assuredly continue to delight for months and months to come.  ‘Tis epic and I fucking love it.  Oh yes, and Lynels are dicks.


Quest For Sumthin or Other

August 8, 2016

All right, so don’t tell anyone, but I’m playing Quest For Glory III this week.

Well, actually – you can tell them that – in fact, tell them about this blog!

Just don’t tell them where I was playing….

Wages of War is the sub-title of Sierra’s 199something PC adventure, Quest for Glory III.

I fucking love this series. It is epic each time I play it, and this time might have been the best. It will be known as the summer of Pokemon Go and the best game of Quest for Glory III that I ever fucking played. Mostly because I played the game and the role (the R in RPG, by the way) of my character to the hilt, so many beautiful and interesting interactions, new discoveries, and subplots emerged simply because of the way I played it, which was epically.

I began the game as a Fighter. This was a first, since I had previously played Wages of War as a Paladin, then a Thief, and then finally a Magic User. You choose your class at the beginning of the game. And if you import your character from the previous games (I:So, You Want to be a Hero? and II:Trial by Fire), well, that’s the only way you can start as a Paladin in QFG3. I didn’t start this game as a Paladin, but damned if I didn’t end as one.

Here’s a story my dude will be telling in a pub someday. If paladins can hang out in pubs.


“Okay, so I got held up by this hippie back in Tarna. He’s not a bad guy, but goddamn if he didn’t sonofabitching hold up my peace efforts. I had just come back from the savanna, actually all the way from the Simbani village in the east. I had run all the way back because I forgot to pick up this Dispel Potion I had him cooking up the last time I left town. I haven’t even washed up. I smell of lizard blood and giant ant shit. I basically smell like him. I run into his apothecary shop, all customer-cozy like, ‘Hey man, how’s vibes, how are you?’ you know?

‘Everything’s Zen, man,’ he says, and then gestures for me to take a seat on his floor mat. Oh boy, here we go, I think. I’m not really in the mood for this shit – I have to get my ass back to the Simbani quick as a fucker to dispel this leopard lady they got in a cage over there. If I don’t change her back into a human, these tribal motherfuckers are going to straight up.. well, I don’t want to speculate, but I know that the longer you keep a chick in a cage… well, actually I don’t know or want to speculate about that either. (We paladins ain’t supposed to think of those kind of things.)

So I sit down, lean back, take a hit of his water pipe and we bullshit. The coming war, rumors around town, dreams, waves, vibes, buzzes and bummers. Finally we get to the topic of the Dispel Potion. ‘Oh yeah man, I finished it,’ he finally announces.

About fucking time! So he shows it to me – it’s a pink, sparkly bubbly thing, and I just know it’s going to work. I’ve had to use dispel potions in every fucking game up until this point, but check this shit out. The dude wants to charge me 30 Royals for the Dispel Potion that I had to goddamn collect for his ass… It was preposterous – ‘Yo man,’ I say,  ‘shouldn’t you just like, GIVE me the potion after I’ve risked life, limb and member out there in the bush to get the parts for it?  There were three components necessary to make it, and I got every one of them for your bespectacled ass.  You said ‘Gimme a few days to make the potion, man, not a few days and 30 goddamn Royals and shit!  And here I am.’

So there I am haggling on the price of a single goddamn bottle, and he absolutely will not give it to me until we agree on that price and I pay that price.

Boy, do I pay that price.

apothecary hip

This guy.


I bargain him down to 28 Royals, but I don’t have 28 Royals – because I’ve spent nearly everything I’ve got on zebra skins, a spear and other wedding shit (don’t ask). And lots and lots of pills. Nah, it’s not a habit – my class just kinda needs a lot of different kinds of pills, for healing, mana, poison cure you know? Magic-using fighter, what’cha gonna do? So cash is running low, and the hippie’s getting all of it because he’s the only merchant in town with healing items. Shit, I barely have enough these days to tip the hostess at the Inn. But I ain’t gonna stop tipping her (if you know what I mean).

So to get the gold, I gots to go out into the savanna and hunt fucking lizard men, since they’re like the only enemies that carry any gold in the game in this part of the world – which incidentally is the only part of the world where you can spend it. This hippie is getting iced the fuck out. The coming war between the Liontaurs and the Simbani is going to make him rich as his mother in a sperm bank. How’s those vibes?

But it’s my fault that I don’t have the scratch because I’ve been living big. Three waterskins. Oil. Rope. Beads. 100 pounds of rotten meat from the vendor at the bazaar.  I buy fruit at the full price because the fruit man makes me feel like a douche.  Plus I stay at the Inn in Tarna whenever I get the chance and always ask what meal they’re serving that night just before devouring it. The girl there always lays it on thick and sweet, and makes desertified goat balls sound like a dragon steak dinner with Antwerp Ale on the side. One time a distinguished man in the city died and I only got vegetables and rice because they don’t serve meat on dead guy day. I had some jerky stashed in my inn room’s box… but I didn’t eat it until the next day. I promise. I’m a man of honor.

I am the goddamn Prince of Shapier, after all. They say so in the intro. I’ve saved Spielburg, Shapier, and Rasier by this point, and now you I’m trying to help the Tarnans but it’s not easy with this cheapfuck skatenik trying to con me out of 30 Royals for a goddamn dispel potion that’s only going to save the world.  And it’s not easy becoming rich when you started like I started, which was a magic-using fighter. Battle Mage. David Copperfield the Barbarian. Anyway, I hit the sticks, run from anything not a lizard man, fight and fight and kill and kill and level up and level up and finally get all the cash I need to buy one measly goddamn fucking Dispel Potion. I walk in – bargain him down to 27 this time, and just as I make to hand over the gold, he says,

‘Hey man – it’s cool – they’re on the house.’

Yeah.  Jaw meet floor.  ‘What the fuck? I’ve been busting my ass to collect your muthafuckin cheddar in addition to all that SHIT for the potion, and now you’re just giving me it?’

‘Yes, the cosmos spoke to me in your absence. They said, “Apothecary: gold you take in exchange for you wares, and gold you shall take. And when the times comes, you will not take it. And stuff.”

I say, ‘Okay…’

Then he goes on this rambling, stoned AF rant or rave about the war and his wages, thanks me for telling about the tree woman in his dream, and saying there’s a conspiracy by Anubis to have me go fight monsters and collect gold to raise my stats or whatever ‘meta’ shit he was on. I didn’t touch the water pipe again after that.

When he was finished he was practically weeping into his beard and beads saying, ‘Thank you. Thank you, man.’

‘No, thank you, man,’ I say, ‘I sure hope you get to fuck that tree.’  And the potion was moine.”

It always makes the simple folk laugh when he tells it. At least it did when the Paladin still went to pubs. Remember – he began as a “magic-using fighter.” It’s a kind of “hidden class” which has been its own unique experience learning. It relies on a lot of slow turn-based fighting and tedious training to succeed. But QFG always encouraged a bit of tedious training; it’s part of its charm.

Battle is such a bitch on this computer, though (My setup is Dosbox through the school laptop that I use at my desk. There. You happy?). I don’t really want to describe it, but if you’re interested, here goes:

In battle, you click on a panel that has four actions – slash, thrust, dodge, and parry. Each time you click it, you lose a little bit of stamina, and have a chance of hitting the enemy. This chance is really really small at the beginning, and you’ll wonder if the game is even fucking working. You try everything, frantically clicking, hoping you don’t get mauled to death, and then – it hits! Blood squirts out and the creature screams. You hit! It took me a long time to realize, but this basically means every frantic click is a roll of the dice (D20, then damage dice if you hit).

In other words, it’s not really real time. On a fast computer with better controls (like the numeric keypad which I don’t have)?  Maybe it resembles more of a slash-dodge/Punch-Out!!!/Infinity Blade vibe, but with mouse clicks, it’s more of a menu selection.  Especially on shitty computers like my school’s.  But each time you click one of the four actions, you gain a few points in that skill, and the higher they get, the better your chances of hitting, plus better damage. It’s a weird but working model of RPG as a point and click – action adventure.

Anyway, that’s how I turned this:qfg3 starting fighter

into this:mowkusdelarah epic version

To make the magic-using fighter (no acronyms, now), I dropped most of his starting points into magic – which costs a lot if it’s a skill you don’t begin with. Dropped some points in Intelligence, too – those I already had a little.  Of.  Anyway, I had to get smart. As I said, I’ve beaten this game with a Paladin, a Thief, a Magic User, and finally – a magic using fighter. A fighter with four spells which he must practice often.

And I do – right before battle I charge my weapon, then lob as many fireballs and force bolts at the enemy as I can before the battle begins, as rapidly as the game’s menu bar will allow. When I do this, my mana goes up, as does the skill of each individual spell. It really works!

And now, it is time to continue, and finish the Quest. Going into the jungle now in search of my runaway bride and a brief intermission from this tedious telling:


I mean, by Simbani law, she’s my bride…


…but I never touched her, I swear by my honor…

…and that’s how I accidentally ended up getting crowned a Paladin. Well, way to go dude. It wasn’t my intention (and the above is in no way the actual scripted sequence), but hey – flaming sword is flaming now. Makes killing demons a breeze.

End game:

But now I got this last fucker I gotta kill and I don’t remember how.

Oh, yes. I figured it out. God I love this game.

Woo Hoo. Next stop: MORDAVIA!!!

Yokai to the left of me, Pokes to the right

July 28, 2016

So Pokemania has come yet again to Japan. The headline was “All Japan is a Pokemon festival,” and what a time it was, is, or whatever. The moment Pokemon Go finally came out here, I was at work, and just about to go on a two-hour lunch stroll, so it was quite an agreeable coincidence. I learned what I could about The Game that first day, and the rest over the weekend. We traveled out of the city to my wife’s folks’ place where my niece and nephew live, and played it with them pretty much the whole time. We went on so many walks around the neighborhood, traipsing about local shrines, and up and down the corridors of the nearby shopping mall for the two and a half days we were there. We walked, hit the stops for supplies, caught the little devils, went home, continued to catch, ran out of supplies, and then organized another walk.

This phenomenon is.. well, to be honest, it’s kind of played out but that doesn’t make it any less fun. Exercise is good, my kids love it, and I haven’t had to pay a goddamn dime in spite of the days and days worth of entertainment it has given me. What I realized about The Game, though, is that it is essentially the premise of Yokai Watch brought to life by the Pokemon Company. In the Yokai Watch universe, you use your special device to see and capture creatures that are invisible to our human world. And there’s even a watch coming out for GO to aid Pokemon goers! And to think that less than a week prior, Yokai Watch just released their third main installment of the series. That is huge, y’all. Like a new Dragon Quest was expected to be back in the day. Yokai Watch 2 came out two years ago, and its impact on the youth of Japan was also phenomenal. There was a moment during that time when Yokai Watch was expected to eclipse the popularity of Pokemon, and you could see it in the number of goods and promotions, on children’s clothing, and even in news features trying to cash in on its cultural currency.

But in short, what should have been their grand rollout of their prestigious third generation got hosed by the Blastoise of Pokemon Go. And that’s sad, because I’m playing the new Yokai Watch game, and it is fucking incredible. No seriously – just watch the opening sequence (after the song). And watch the song, too.


jump ahead to the 4-minute mark if you must, but seriously – watch the song

Isn’t that great?! It’s Mulder and Scully – and instead of the X-Files, it’s the Y-File! Yokai Watch has been doing mainstream cultural spoofing for years. There are Yokai that look like actual famous people (Steve Jobs, Billy Blanks, and Mark Zuckerberg to name a few), and most of the brands in the game are meant to be cute imitations of familiar trademarks. Now we have Mulder and Scully, er, excuse me, Malder and Cackully. Or Cackully and Malder, if you prefer. If you think the representation above is cheesy and campy, fuck you! Fourth-wall satire is incredibly sophisticated, and to pull it off without offending my sensibilities is no easy feat. I’m not even kidding; I love this and I want to believe the truth is out there. Or whatever these two say in the game. As you can guess they’re two agents in the field investigating a… well.. that would be a spoiler. I’ll bet you anything it has to do with Yokais, though.

I talked before about Yokai Watch 2 and how its representation of a Japanese town is so well done that if I ever repatriated to the States and got homesick for Japan, I could just play the game and be at least halfway spiritually transported back. In 3, the game takes place in both Japan and the United States, with all-new locations to visit, shit to see, and people to meet. I’m not very far in the American portion, but there is a bit of that nostalgia there from home. I can sense it. And I also think that Level 5 must have done a hell of a lot of good research to get the feel of the US correct. Understanding and portraying foreign cultures is a constant struggle for the Japanese. There is a lot of security in stereotypes and very few taboos in generalizing or appropriating other cultures in media over here. But I think that they must have sent actual teams all over the States to re-discover the place Fukuzawa Yukichi style for the 21st century. The neighborhood layouts, the look of facilities like schools and shopping centers, and of course, the English that people speak at your poor immigrant Japanese ass when you get there is all in place, and comes together organically while maintaining its lighthearted anime atmosphere.

That’s right – Keita (or Nate if you’ve played the overseas version of YW1), our original Yokai Watch hero is now in America (dad got an overseas transfer at work), and one of the first major barriers is how the hell does a Japanese character interact with all the English speaking natives in the game? Do they make a backstory that he went to conversation school in the months leading up to the move? Do the people in America magically speak Japanese like aliens speak Basic in Star Wars? No! This is Yokai Watch – and one of the first Stateside Yokai that you meet is a lion who makes people fluent in whatever language they need to speak. Kind of like a babelfish, and it fits into the narrative splendidly.

i nickname thee “i’m out of a job”

Also, Keita is without his extensive collection of Yokais that he collected in the previous games (Samus syndrome) and so the collection begins from scratch, once again. The quest is clear – gotta catch ‘em all. No, wait. What’s my quest again?

Ah, who cares. I’m having a blast just running around the towns. St. Peanutsburg in U.S. is not unlike the small Midwestern town where I grew up, and Aobahara is the YW world’s version of Akihabara in Tokyo. There is so much to do and all summer to do it. Over 600 Yokais to collect this time around, too.

As for Pokemon GO, I’ll be collecting those little fuckers all summer, too, but I’ll tell you what – I could give a fuck about new Pokemon. After the 5th generation or so, they all look the same, and I couldn’t name more than a dozen outside of the original 151. Those are the ones I’m limiting myself to, lest my home become more overrun with yet more fictitious creatures.

Pokemon! You got some fucking Pokemon!

July 18, 2016

Pokemon, Go Pee in a Magicarp Infested Lake!

In 2008, a question was submitted to Chiebukuro forum on Yahoo! Japan asking how one would go about buying Japanese stock, particularly in a company of their interest, Nintendo of Japan (they make games and stuff). The top answer said this: Yesterday (this was in 2008, so actually quite a few yesterdays ago), the stock (kabu, or “radish”) closed at ¥40,600. Now the minimum amount of radishes one can buy is 100, meaning that the minimum possible investment you could make in Nintendo would be 4,060,000 yen or about $40K. And this was in 2008 prices – and who know what shit has changed since then? I suppose it’s not a very good reference, chiebukuro, but usually they get the gist of it right.

Buy me a radish – my Nintendo kickstarter.

Hey, buy me 40K worth, and I’ll let you have one if we meet the goal.

For more information, click this link and learn why you should give me money, motherfucker. (insery link to kickstarter here)

But you have to act fast. Funds may be transferred to the purchase of a Playstation 4 if the goal for Nintendo stock is not met.

It makes sense that with all of the insane, inane, and memetic refrains of Pokemon Go!, it would be a sound investment, especially since hearing that the stocks went way up over there in the States once the game was released. Who wouldn’t want some of that cabbage, or radish, as it were?

But you and me are not getting rich off this nigh-guaranteed boost to the economy – Nintendo is, and they deserve it. We, we are getting Pokemon. That is all; nothing more, nothing less. Perhaps less deserving are the fuckheads at Google who just got millions of Pokemon trainers to give full access to their Google account when they signed up. Class action lawsuit? Now that’s a way to get rich, although I think South Park may have already tackled this issue. I will not be profiting from such a class-action lawsuit, either. I have never even been fired by Nintendo. That should change.

And speaking of changin’ and times how they a’be, have you seen what this Pokemon Go shit is doing to people?  Wow. Everybody looks so terrible doing it. Sorry, but you do, and I’m about to join you doing it, too.. We just need poise, people.

(insert video of people stupidly playing that fucking game that i’m about to play if they ever release it here)

Today, I realized how awful I’m going to look walking around the streets of Japan, phone in hand, and the digital shutter sound going off each time I take a picture of an invisible fucking Pokemon. Man, you have no idea what a creep I felt like when I took this picture.

(insert picture of park)

And there wasn’t even anything there.

Soon, there will be kids there.

I actually ventured further into the park to take a picture of these posters:

They say: FUCK OFF BITCH (left) and EPICUZIPLAYIT owns this gym and you can’t beat me (right).

(insert picture of rice paddy with rain softly falling)

This one turned out okay, though – walking through the rice paddy to get the Lapras, though… try explaining that to the lady whose crop you just trampled.

This augmented bordering on demented (and errors must be prevented) reality game is already having a huge effect on my kids who have sometime during 2016 have already become bonafide Pokemon nerds, and yet the game is still yet to drop (13:25 Tuesday the 11th – nope, still not up). I check compulsively for it to appear because I’m a fully-fledged Pokeman nerd, too.

My Pokemans; Let me Show you Them

Can I confess something here? I just beat my first Pokemon game for the first time about a month ago. It was the weekend, my oldest was playing Pokemon Pearl, and so I fired up my copy of Diamond. I didn’t set out to beat the game when I turned it on, but I realized the alternative was more grinding, which I had just spent some weeks, some weeks ago doing, and it was not very satisfying. So I thought I’d go all out and challenge the Elite Four (which I think was actually Five now that I think about it), and use all my items and be as cheap as fuck. I only allowed myself one of the level 100 Pokemon that we discovered when we bought Guy’s used copy of Pearl – a shiny Mewtwo – but the rest were dudes I trained, caught or acquired personally.

It was a hard battle – really hard, I have to say, but we prevailed. And this is my Hall of Fame:

  (insert picture of Pokemon finishers)

Yeah, that’s right – a shiny Mewtwo. It was one of the many rare and wonderful Pokemon that were in the last trainer’s file. Shinies, Legendaries, Level 100s, from the rare to ultra-rare, it was a treasure trove of magical creatures, many of whom we deleted out of existence. After about two hours of trading as many as I could onto my copy of Diamond, Guy was getting impatient (we bought the game for him to play, after all), and we finally deleted the old file so that Guy could begin his own Pokemon adventure. And I have no fucking regrets. I have a shiny… whatever this red fucker’s who’s on the cover of Ruby is.

(insert picture of that red fucker who’s green-yellow now)

And hey, I’ll admit this, too: I’m a bad trainer – I’ve never leveled anything up to 100, and I’ll abandon Pokemon games for years, sometimes decades at a time (I still have a file on Leaf Green from 2004 that has all eight badges, but no Championshit). But I like Pokemon well enough. Remember when Twitch played it and I got all holy roller fever on Lord Helix? Whether Go! is here to stay or fulfill the prophecy of its namesake, one thing’s for sure: my interest will wane as surely as it has waxed again. But I got kids now – junior trainers in training. Whether I enjoy it or not, I am aboard the Pokemon express with them at the moment, and there’s probably no getting off it this summer. At least until the new Yokai Watch… oh shit. The new Yokai Watch is coming out on Saturday…

Pokemon to the left of me, Yokai to the right, here I am.

Pokemon vs. Yokai Watch

No contest.

It’s going to be a monstrous summer.

13:55 – still not up

Just remembered one time back in the day when my friend Andy and I were driving back to town from Vincennes, blasting the Misfits and changing every lyric Glenn Danzig wrote to be Pokemon themed. London Dungeon would have been… Pokemon Dungeon, Last Caress would begin with the refrain, “I got something to say! I caught a Weedle today!” I’ve hardly ever laughed so hard – after we were at it for like 20 minutes, I knew the song “Attitude” was coming on, and Andy just changed he whole title to “Pokemon!” and it’s the first lyric of the song, so when he belted it out, it was one of those, oh my god, we’re so fucking silly, man kinda moments. Man, I miss that fucker. He and I Pokemonned way back in the day. Once, he James and I were all at James’ place, smoking cigarettes in the garage and playing Pokemon on Gameboys and Gameboy Colors. I might have even bought a fucking Pikachu-version Pokemon/GBC pack at Wal-Mart that night – in fact, I’m sure I did. I remember in my dorm, freshman year at IU some months before that when I had to yell at the girl in the hall to shut the fuck up because I was trying to watch the first series of the Pokemon cartoon on TV.

So many memories. Yeah. So. How you doing? Oh no, I’m not just killing time at work checking the App Store every 20 minutes (14:03 – still not up), waiting to go home and play some Dragon Quest Builders before I have to go to fucking work again. Nah. I’m a professional. But I am fucking bored, and would rather be out looking like a creep snapping Pokemon than sitting in this nice air conditioned room having to do jack shit but exist and write about Pokemon and shit.

I’m going to eat some ice cream.

(14:15 – still not up)

Shit, now I guess I’m checking every ten minutes. Jesus, read a book.

14:41 – still not up (a confederacy of dunces is fucking hilarious, though)

15:15 – still not up

15:49 – still not up

16:09 – nope

Days passed, and the weekend finally came.  Then I got drunk and finally posted this entry.

July 18, 2:38 a.m. – still not up.

You know what?  I’m… going to bed.  With visions of weird anthro-pokemorphic radishes dancin in my head.  I think we all need a break.  You should try Yokai Watch.

After, of course, you catch them all.



Listing to Port

June 15, 2016

This month, I finally played through and finished for the first time, the delectable Portal 2, only five years after its original release in 2011. Why did this take so fucking long, and have I no shame or regret? Well, strawman question a, the reason it took forever for me to play this game was… I simply must have been playing other shit. Video games are really in style these days, they just keep making more and more, and the back catalog, it does a-pile up. This one’s been on the back burner for a long time, and I guess if I was to speculatively honest, I was probably just waiting for it to go down in price.

What’s hilariously tragic is that I’ve actually had this game for over a year – on Steam – but my Macbook’s not the spry devil it used to be. The machine would threaten to burn a hole through the crust of the earth itself whenever it ran the game at its aggravatingly slow speed, and our first attempts concluded before the end of the first chapter. Then when I saw the game’s been $20 on PSN forever, I did what I so often do when under the influence of the alcohol gnomes and made myself a nice little impulse purchase. Now you’re probably saying, $20! You call that an impulse purchase? And I say fuck you, rich tits.

Because the miracle of this whole thing was how I not only put off playing this game for five years, but was able to play it completely unspoiled, meaning every piece of dialogue, every new scientific contrivance introduced in the game, every plot twist and even the ending song were complete surprises. And even more incredible than that (and yes, such a thing is possible) is that I was able to play it with my son, now eight years old and there’s no better age for a test subject.

He and I have played through countless games together. The day he was born, I swore that when he turned five we would play through Kingdom Hearts as father and son – and we did. It was one of the most beautiful and rewarding moments of my dadhood. However, that one was planned, and this one was so serendipitous in its timing that he played not only as my gaming buddy, but fellow puzzle-solver and spare brain. The little guy was on over a dozen occasions able to notice features of the rooms and work out the solutions to puzzles while I bashed my head and randomly flung portals at the walls trying to advance the game. He even lit upon several procedures necessary for the final encounter, and I might still be fighting that little [REDACTED] if not for my clever lab assistant. So regrets at waiting this long to play it? Hell fucking no. Shame? Only the slight embarrassment that my brain, like my Macbook is an aging and polluted machine which will one day be replaced by a newer, fresher model. But I’m mostly beaming with pride.

So now that I’ve illustrated just why my playing of this game reached such colossally epic levels, can we talk about the game itself? I’m going spoileradical on that ass so if you haven’t played the game, DON’T FUCKING READ THE NEXT PART AND GO PLAY PORTAL 2 RIGHT NOW.


we can't do much about it, but we can watch and make you feel horrified with yourself

We can’t do much about it if you do read ahead, but we can watch and make you feel horrified with yourself.  


Did you play it? Yeah? It was good, huh? See, I told you it was good and I was right.

I have no plan for how to proceed so I’m just going to begin rambling about various features of the game starting with its characters.

Wheatley: this little bastard was amazing in his role as supreme tool and chief antagonist of Portal 2. Of course I find out later he’s voiced by Stephen Merchant, the guy who co-wrote the British (original and superior) version of The Office. Much like Ricky Gervais’s character in that show, Wheatley is a highly potent combination of charm and cringe that leaves one torn about whether you grudingly despise him or just want to merrily kill him. On a side note, I love listening to just about anything spoken in a British accent (I just do) but I have to say, I find his particular accent the most annoying of all of them – even moreso than Threepian Welsh. I’m sure it has something to do with Wheatley sounding nearly identical to a certain intolerable twat (rhymes with “hat”) I happen to actually know. The little orb’s passive antagonism really hit home when I noticed the resemblance there.

GlaDOS: What can one say about GlaDOS without worrying that her AI will destroy the file on which you’re writing shit about her? She was such an intriguing and dark character in the first Portal game that it would be hard for her to outshine her own role the second time around. I was a little bit disappointed by how humanized she became, but mostly just because her voice acting sounded much less like a robot this time, and more like a human playing the role of a robot. As a character, I think discovering her human (and nightshade!) roots was very satisfying, and making her so vulnerable and helpless was some killer storytelling. For me, though, the most interesting part of GlaDOS’s role this time is how you must form a grudging alliance with her once she loses her seat of power. Ever since I was a kid, my favorite episodes of any show were the ones where the heroes and villains have to team up and declare a partial truce – it happened in He-Man, it happened in Ninja Turtles, and it even happened in Salute Your Shorts. Perhaps it’s the peacenik in me, but I love when bitter enemies can see eye to (potato!) eye and temporarily put aside their differences to focus on the shared aim of defeating something they both can’t stand.

Cave Johnson: So since you played the game, you know there’s a part where you’re sent miles beneath the earth and get to work your way up through the old sealed-off testing laboratories of Aperture Science’s past, right? That was an unexpected birthday cake. Unlikely that those places would still be in tact or have working lights and pump systems, but hey – we’re talking about a game where you send energy to the goddamn moon faster than the speed of light, and I’m more than willing to suspend disbelief in the name of science. The people who wrote this game are so fucking clever that I want to throw up and tear what’s left of my hair out. Aperture Science’s founder, Cave Johnson is perhaps the greatest character who you never meet. In a way, he is Chell’s opposite in that she plays the lunatic mute, while he is nothing but a voice on a tape recording: “I pay the bills around here and I’ll talk about the control group all damn day!”

Seriously, that whole section of the game where you learn the history and fate of Aperture Science was just like going through one of the Bioshock games and letting the environment tell the story. When it’s done right, it is one of the most memorable and enjoyable gaming experiences you’ll ever have. I say they did pretty goddamn well. Introducing the bounce and speed gels was great, too, and I’m still haunted by the arpeggios that augment the soundtrack when you’re trying them out for the first times.

That fucking soundtrack, man. Or should I say, “This fucking soundtrack, man,” since I’m listening to it right now and can’t stop. It’s three compact discs long, and completely free to download from the game’s official website. That is an unbelievably kind offering and I suggest that everyone acquire a copy ere they decide that five years is long enough to GIVE SOMETHING PRICELESS AWAY FOR FREE.

I’m so taken with this game right at the moment I almost want to skip my weekly Game of Thrones viewing event tonight and play through Portal 2 again. Hell, I don’t even want to be at work right now! La la love this game and there’s never been a better time to be into it (even if you got to play that ARG in the weeks leading up to its release). There’s still the commentary-laced version of the game to enjoy, plus a whole cooperative mode for which I’m going to need to get my second PS3 controller working again. I know just who I’m going to play it with, too.


April 15, 2016

Last month, my son got an early birthday present from his grandfather. They went out shopping, and I was 90% sure he was going to come back with the new Yokai Watch: Romance of the Three Kingdoms game that just came out, but instead, he ended up choosing Dragon Quest Builders for the PS3. I really must applaud his choice, because I’m the one who’s ended up playing the shit out of it when he refused to abandon the people of Termina in his current game of Majora’s Mask.

The game is really fucking fun. I typically mistrust spin-off games because they typically suck whale sperm. Not the case with DQ Builders. It reminded me of one of the only other spinoffs that managed to accomplish this rare feat, which was also a Dragon Quest game centered around the character Toruneko and his Mysterious Dungeon. In that one, you controlled the merchant Toruneko and fought in real-time or what I called, “Zelda-style” combat through randomly generated dungeon floors, collecting treasure and gradually building up your castle town with the riches. In Builders, you are a humble builder who fights monsters (in the same “Zelda style” albeit isometrically), collects resources, and learns to craft those things required by your fledgling towns which are just barely weathering the scourge of the Dragonlord.

Wait, you thought the Dragonlord was dead? Slain at the end of DQI? Aha, you see because he wasn’t – not in this universe, anyway. In this history, the “hero” of DQI fails in his quest by taking the Dragonlord up on his offer before the final battle: “Join me and I’ll give you half of the world,” resulting in the utter ruin of Alefgard and 200 years of oppression which has literally sent human civilization back to the stone age – and maybe even further. The people in this world cannot even conceive of ideas like construction, crafting, cooking, or medicine, and it is up to your character, touched by divine inspiration to teach them all this shit again. And so we rebuild.


“Yeah, yeah stand beside thee, sure sure, sounds good.  Now wilst there be whores?  Nay, I loveth me some whores.”

The borrowing of the Minecraft concept in Builders is unabashed, and it’s a little sad that Square Enix didn’t reach a deal with Mojang to make a true cross breed of the two games, but at least nobody got sued and neither brand needs suffer a tarnished reputation for it. I was worried that Builders was going to be a shitty Minecraft clone, but was delighted to discover that it’s actually an exquisite one, and offers most of the joy that both Minecraft and the Dragon Quest series has offered since its conception, simultaneously being both and neither game.

One key difference between this and other Dragon Quests is that in Builders, you are are told explicitly at the beginning of the game by the guiding light: You are not a hero, bitch. Now this doesn’t mean you can’t be heroic, but as a technical matter, not being of the hero genome means that you do not have the innate ability to collect experience points from terminated monsters, and that means that “leveling up” does not occur through victory in battle. Instead, your experience comes from completing various structures in the town, and exp can be gained by adding furniture and ecoutrements to its various dwellings and workshops. The only “level” belongs to the town itself. Your character may become stronger, but this strength comes strictly from items such as the seeds that increase your max HP, and of course, stronger weapons and armor that you yourself must find a way to construct.

no hero quest

“You’re actually more like a pissant, in the great scheme of things.”

The main difference between this game and Minecraft is that in Builders, the narrative is set out and you are given missions to accomplish before you can go out and build the world as you see fit. You could argue that Minecraft’s beauty comes from not being explicit in its directives (I also hear that the multiplayer is fun as fuck), but should you get bored with its boundless pixellated freedom, Builders offers not only a colorful aesthetic to enjoy, but some devious challenges to set your mind to. The first three “chapters” are extended tutorials that are so damn enjoyable that I already want to do them again and try to beat all the bonus challenges such as finishing the chapter within 20 game days, slaying the optional dragons, and building a cemetery.

Essentially it’s like playing Minecraft and Dragon Quest at the same time, and I’m just loving the hell out of it. Once I’ve beaten the Restoration of Alefgard storyline, get ready for some original EpicuziplayiT narratives. This world is sure to see some major changes once I’m sitting pretty atop the Dragonlord’s throne. Half of the world – ha! I’m fixing to take no less than the whole damn thing.

The Art of D’ni? More like the Fart of C’ni

April 15, 2016

It’s true – I suck at puzzle adventure games. Always have. I would have never finished a single King’s Quest without a Sierra hintbook, and yet I still love sitting down and playing them over once I know all the answers. Why is that? Well, they are colorful, fun, and in a roundabout logic sort of way, the puzzles in these games make sense. When I played Myst back in 1995 or whenever it was, I found it challenging and definitely cheated a few times, but after a little gamma correction, the most difficult trial of the game (namely navigating the Channelwood Age), I was more or less able to complete the game on my own. It left me with a slight but deserved sense of satisfaction and I would often venture back into Myst just to hang around and take in the serenity and spookiness of those islands again.

Riven, however, is a son of a bitch, and I despise it. I will venture to say that from a gamer’s point of view, it is the shittiest puzzle adventure game I have ever played. Riven is a convoluted mess that gives you no sense of direction and requires the player to be a psychic with a master’s degree in engineering from D’ni University. Where Myst was very image driven with distinct symbology that linked hint to puzzle, the mechanical buggery of Riven is such that you literally have to pull a bunch of levers and try to figure out what the shit they do. Buttons, levers and cranks everywhere. Fucking maddening transportation systems with the express purpose of making you feel lost and frustrated. Doors you have to close in order to open up doors. Searching in the dark for (surprise, surprise) a fucking lever to open another goddam door where the reward is passage to a place you’ve already been. If this is puzzle solving, children would read blueprints instead of comic books. I hate it.

Back in 1997, maybe, I got Riven on CD-Rom and gave up on it pretty early on because not only were these “puzzles” too obtuse, but you would have to change discs each time you traveled to another island, and in a game where you spend 90% of the time running back and forth between islands to try out some new harebrained theory (that won’t work), changing the discs took up so much playing time it was ridiculous. In 2016, it still takes a computer about half a minute to read a disc, so imagine a 1997 Dell desktop trying to do it. It took ages (huyuck), after becoming disgusted with the thought of another disc change on another endless ride on the stupid little rocketship train to go try out another mouseclick ultimately resulting in nothing, I more or less said, “This game fucking sucks,” and never played it again.

Those who beat it, either by cheating or their own psychic prowess, praised Riven for being not only a great game, but superior to Myst if not the best in the entire Myst series. I wondered if there was something about this game that I may have overlooked, and when I noticed that it only cost $5 to have the whole game on my iPhone, I decided to give it another chance. After all, there would be no disc switching this time, and with the power of the Internet, I could be a psychic, too.


Here’s something that will make you waste no small portion of your life

I didn’t set out to look up all the hints online. In fact, I made very respectable notes in a brand new notebook about everything that I discovered in my initial re-adventure into Riven. I was ready to enjoy the game and see what everyone thought was so goddamn great about it that they’d rather play this that Myst.

Now it’s going to get spoilerific as fuck up in here, so if you haven’t played the game, first of all, don’t read this, second don’t play it on an iPhone, and third, maybe don’t play it at all. You’ve been warned and stuff.

First, navigating is a bitch as ever. It’s worse than trying to get around this blog and its damnable entries.  There is way too much commuting about the islands of Riven and even without having to change discs it still takes too long. It takes too long even when you skip the gratuitous quicktime animation that every conveyance just thought they were so great in showing off 20 years ago. So many repeated sequences, and not all of them are skippable. There’s a place early on where you have to push a button to rotate a room with five exits and only two open portals that change configuration with each push of the button. One instance of this button is very straightforward. It is located right beside the door and pushing it activates the rotation animation. The other doors, however, have this button off to the side, and you have to stare at it for half a minute each time you push it because there’s no superimposed quicktime animation to skip. It’s very aggravating to have to use contraptions like the dumbass revolving door after you’ve already been to the other side a thousand times, but the game really wants you to put up with mundane bullshit like this all the way to the end.

The iPhone version makes things especially shitty, because the animation and sound themselves are fucked up. One puzzle early on teaches you the numerals you will need to know by animating a doll that drops a certain number of times when the digit is displayed. The choppy transition into animation however, will never reliably animate the correct number of drops because it’s using that same old lazy animation technology that causes it to occasionally burp and fart through the frames. I worked on this for over twenty minutes and number that I had logged as 6 was now 5. 3 was now 2. Fuck this, to Google images I went and never looked back. It’s a clever way to present information, but unfortunately, the arcane mechanism implemented makes it entirely unreliable.

Another technical fuckup is missing sounds. There are a couple of buttons that you should be able to press, but no sound will be made even though upon further inspection, you will find that the buttons actually did their work. This is fucking terrible, because no sound – not even the click of a depression – is supposed to be reserved for non-functional items, decorations, and other red herrings scattered around Riven. That’s a shitty thing, but not nearly as heinous as the puzzle that requires you hear a sound that doesn’t play. There are a series of wooden eyeballs that when rotated show a symbol and play a sound that you absolutely need to keep track of for later reference. Two of these eyeballs do not play the sound, and only one of them is not supposed to. The other one (off the beaten path with blue fungus to be precise) simply does not play the sound because the game is buggy and badly ported. That is a serious fucking problem because if you don’t know that sound, you cannot solve a major puzzle of the game.

Speaking of shitty port, nothing has been done to soothe the harsh transition from the original CD-Rom game’s graphics to the HD display of the iPhone. Yeah yeah, first world problems, I know, but have fun getting migraines and going cockeyed trying to read the journals you pick up in this game. It’s fucking atrocious. The other particularly awful thing about these graphics on the iPhone is that when trying to read a particular 3D topographical display, the spots of interest that you are to catalog cannot be easily discerned by the human eye. When I looked at some of the pictures of solutions later with the target area marked by a big friendly circle, I exclaimed, “Really? I was supposed to find THAT?” Admit it, you all cheated to get the solution for that one. Okay whatever, liars.


Here, let me save you some time

After I finished the game, I thought about how much I’d like to come back to the islands of this Fifth Age and chill like I used to post-game Myst style, and realized that I would not like that at all. Getting around is a pain in the ass enough, and there’s really not all that much in Riven I feel like sentimentally gazing upon once more. And since I’m bagging on everything, I might as well mention that the music in this game is completely mediocre, and doesn’t have one memorable melody. Myst used a very limited number of musical pieces but I can still hear them all in my head, and I remember getting excited about having to go to certain rooms because I knew that I’d get to hear a certain song when I went there. The plot of Riven is decent enough, but the silent protagonist thing feels super forced this time around. I know that I’d be telling the English speaking characters a thing or two if I were in the protagonist’s shoes. Mostly to go fuck themselves.

Contrary to what you must think by now, I really like the mythology of Myst, and playing Riven was basically a chance to progress the story for my own understanding of the places and characters in the game series. I may have “ruined the gaming experience” by going online for hints, but even with the solutions to the puzzles, they can be extremely difficult to apply, and in some cases, the hints themselves cannot be uncovered in the game, so what the fuck is the point of trying to beat this one on wits alone? Seriously, it’s all a bunch of levers, tedious travel, and bullshit. Fuck Riven, I’m going back to Myst to do the whole thing over from the beginning. I’ve still got plenty of space in my new adventuring notebook.

Oh Yes and fuck Atrus.


Karakatte Miitomo

March 18, 2016

Yesterday saw the release of Nintendo’s first venture into the wasteland of smartphone applications, Miitomo. I had to try it out because after all, one of the reasons I chose to live in Japan was to try out all the games that got released here before anyone else. Kneel and writhe in envy or something. But don’t worry you’re not missing all that much at the moment.

I want to make something clear for better or worse, and that is I love Nintendo and always have. I’ve enjoyed their products for over 30 years now, and they rarely disappoint me on a consumer level. But Miitomo is probably the worst thing they’ve ever made, and this is coming from someone who owned a Virtual Boy. Come to think of it, the Virtual Boy was pretty awesome.

Here’s how it works: in Miitomo you make your own custom avatar called a “Mii,” and then it lives in a room, buys clothes and answers questions. And that’s about it. Oh right and if you link a facebook or Twitter account, you can connect with your friends and see how they answered those questions. Let’s go through these steps one by one, and see just what enjoyment can be secreted from between the gears of this blatant data collection machine.

1. Making the Mii
Making a Mii is about as stimulating as it was on the Wii, the 3DS and the Wii U. You can recreate a likeness of yourself, other people, or weird shit that strictly belongs in the realm of nightmares. The only novel feature this time around is creating its voice according to qualities such as pitch and depth. There’s been no crackdown on obscenities yet, which means at the moment the Mii will literally say out loud anything you put in its filthy mouth. So if you never got to fuck around with text-to-speech software as a kid, now’s your chance to hear a robot say bad words.

Next, you give your Mii a “personality” which is based on traits such as how quickly you move, how direct you are with people, and how quirky you percieve yourself. Try as you might, the product of the slidebars will never result in declaring you a pompous delusional shithead, which is kind of unfortunate. Instead, you will be categorized by the associated positive attributes into something like a “leader” or “artist.” At least my mom thinks I’m a shithead.

2. The Room
After birthing your beautiful, brilliant tomorrow child, you will move it into the Room. This is your Room, and this will be your only Room. You will not interact with the furnishings of the Room. The furnishings in your Room will not leave the Room or be replaced by other furnishings from other Rooms. You will not modify, decorate, or deface the Room. You will not leave the Room except to visit the Room of another Mii. And you will not envy the other Mii’s Room.

So no, Animal Crossing it is not. There is no customization of the domicile, and there is nothing to do in it anyway but ponder deep existential questions and host uncomfortable visits from other Miis. More on that later.  Or not.

3. Buying clothes
Basically your character has a stash of coins which they use to buy clothes and customize their look. Some of the clothes are cute, and many of them are stupid. This is pretty straightforward. I want to talk about those damn coins which you get by answering questions, so let’s just cut the crap and get into what this app is really all about.

4. Answering questions
These days they say that if the product is free, then the consumer is the product, and boy is that ever the case with Miitomo. It’s every company’s dream to have a database of all of its consumers’ and potential consumers’ personal data, preferences, and habits. They use this data to develop their products, services, and most of all, their marketing strategy. There are actually companies that simply collect this data to sell it to other companies who think they can use it to sell more crap. Now while it would be ridiculously time-consuming, not to mention awkward for a representative from a corporation to directly ask its customers the questions that yield this kind of information, Nintendo has found a way to ask all of these questions directly and make the customer think that they’re playing a game while they’re doing it! It’s brilliant, really, but also kind of pathetic and sickening because the questions are so overt in their purpose that it’s just an embarrassment.

To demonstrate, here are some of the questions that Miitomo has asked me in the last 24 hours, completely word for word:

  1. What sweet thing you’ve eaten recently would you recommend?
  2. What thing have you noticed has become more popular recently?
  3. What’s your most recent purchase?
  4. Which female entertainer do you think will break into the big time soon?
  5. What present from your parents were you disappointed with?
  6. Which song used in an advert has left the biggest impression on you?

It’s really really sad, so I’ve mostly been answering these questions with utter insolence. To me, the real game is coming up with answers that while occasionally honest will be fraught with unhelpful and disingenuous data.  This is not to derail their marketing strategy – I mean, after all, I love Nintendo and wish them success, but for my own security and amusement I make sure that any information collected about me is dubious at best and certainly not to be interpreted as a fact.

And come on. This is gross. It’s like a Mario game where instead of saving the Princess, he’s like..um..  Well there is no true analogy because there’s no narrative to living in an empty box having meaningless conversations with the goal of wearing a costume.  Unless you’re into weird prison shit or something.  It’s not a very satisfying app, and as a game it’s borderline evil. The real evil (or possibly redemption) is that this supposedly ties into the new Nintendo reward system and loyalty scheme, which means continued play may actually net me a prize down the road like a real game or rare Nintendo swag like when I was a platinum member of Club Nintendo.

And so I continue to play.  I’m sure they’ll guess all my passwords any day now.  Connectivity is enabled through Twitter of all things, so by all means go ahead and follow me @epicuziplayit so you can come see my Box.