EpicuzibuildiT

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.

dragonloardoffer

“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.

telescope

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.

RIVENMARBLESSOLUTION

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.

riventruth

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.

Links that will be dead and not twitching anymore by the time you click on them

September 8, 2015

These crazy assholes are about to finish their 13th Final Fantasy in a row http://www.twitch.tv/rpglimitbreak

Meanwhile, these insane fuckers are still trying to control a game of Dark Souls through text input: http://www.twitch.tv/twitchplaysdark

And you also may as well know that the next iteration of the Pokemon games have been announced under the monickers “Pokemon: Crazy Asshole” and “Pokemon: Insane Bastard” respectively (with Pokemon: Batshit Fuckhead coming out in the following December): http://www.nintendo.co.jp

One of these links is erroneous.

God damn it, I love twitch.tv  If you’ve never seen a video on twitch.tv, well then, this will probably be the last text-based blog entry you’ll ever read.  Imagine; a network of thousands of gamers broadcasting live, the video games they are playing right this moment, with live chat among viewers, and it’s all fucking free.  It not only exists, but it’s been around for years, and is a valuable commodity to today’s hooked in gamers.  Mom, Dad?  Do your kids like video games?  Good.  They are going to find online personalities that you yourself find unbearable.  Keep an eye on that shit, I know I do.  My kids watch Stampy & Squid, Derpy Dude (I think his name is Summy?), and Zack fucking Scott.  Anyone else, I sit down and watch three or four videos of their shit to make sure my kids not only understand the content, but learn to use all the swear words.

One of these sentences is not true.

Still, it has been pretty amazing to log into a chat room and participate in the very political and psychological experiment that has been Twitch Plays Dark Souls (aka #twitchplaysdark).  Much like the original text-input game, Twitch Plays Pokemon, we were in utter chaos for awhile, and eventually learned to cooperate, and the streamer programmed all these extra dope features into the community interface, so we have been more successful anyone could have forseen.  Bosses, minibosses, hazardous terrain, and menus have all been conquered by the hive-mind, advancing the story and creating its own memetic lore along the way (raise your flongers! in salute to the pool god! etc!)

I’ve been taking dozens of screenshot throughout the run, and really need to put them up somewhere.  Imgur?  Picasa?  Geocities?  Anyway, I have a bunch, and can probably tell you what’s happening hive-mind and story-wise just by looking at it.  Fuck, Dark Souls is such a brilliant game.

That reminds me, I had a terrible relapse back into the world of Dark Souls.  Fortunately, this time I was able to finally defeat the last enemy and claim victory over the game. Unfortunately, upon completion, I immediately started a new character and began the sequence of torture and adventure once again.  Fortunately, I was able to blaze all the way through the game with her, too, and win the prize without ever stopping at a bonfire, using an estus potion, or even powering off the Xbox.

One of these sentences is an out and out lie.  I would never ever harbor, let alone purchase another corny-ass console made by them.

Well, gotta go help the helpless twitch stream out of the Painted World, so see you around.  Look for me on the stream – I go by the handles @leisuresuit*****, @solarstink*****, and @whatthefuckhaveidonewithmylifeiusedtoplaytoomanyvideogamesbutstreamslikethisseemtobesayingthatidontplaynearlyenoughimeanfucktherearetwopeopleracingtofinishallgoddamtwelveconsolefinalfantasygamesandivebeenplayingthesamegameofnineforlikethreeandahalfyearsandalsoviandvandohfuckimnevergoingtofinishanyofthesegamesami*****

(One of those is not one of my actual usernames.)

Stream on, streamers.  If you have a channel you’d like to promote, link it in the comments and I promise to check it out and say something rude but poignant in the IRC.

Edit;I think I was drunk when I wrote this.  I might be now as well, too.

Voodoo Dragonomics

July 13, 2015

I have now officially played Dragon Quest X more than any other MMORPG. Usually I steer clear of games of this genre because they make me isolated, moody, and obsessive. But there’s something about this one that has drawn me in without making me a complete infected penis hole. For one, I can share it with my son who has a character of his own. As a father who can’t help but spoil his child, I hook him up with weapons and gold through the game’s postal system and in exchange, he learns how to read and recognize more Japanese characters when we play together. Second, it’s on the Wii U, so I am not tethered to a stationary screen like I was with World of Warcraft and Vendetta Online. Thanks to the miraculous and downright inexplicable technology of the Wii’s wireless gamepad, I can level grind in bed if I wish, and it doesn’t take a genie or a candle on a cake to make that wish come true, although that latter did play a catalystic role in reacquiring the game (happy birthday to my old ass).

If you go back to July of 2012, you’ll find an entry up here about buying this game for the first time, right when it came out, for the Wii. Incredibly enough, the characters that we created way back then survived, even after months and years of inactivity. And imagine my delight and surprise when upon rejoining the online world I was notified that I had 40,000 gold to collect – KATUNK (that’s the sound of a sack of gold hitting the counter). I wasn’t sure what for at first – dismissing the idea of interest accruing on the meager sum I had stored in the bank, and doubting highly that Square Enix simply rewards their players with in-game monetary gifts for simply not deleting a character from their servers. But a fortune is a fortune, and like a bumpkin winning the lottery, it took me all of one week to squander my newfound wealth, and here’s how I did it.

Crafting, crafting, crafting. After buying myself the most luxurious armor that my level 24 thief could equip, I re-dedicated myself to that noble pursuit of blacksmithing weapons for other players in the game to use. However, in order to make this job a source of income, one must needs spend thousands and possibly millions of gold investing in the recipe books and components needed for the items to be crafted and then sold in the online marketplace. For a game that only has a user base in Japan, the amount of commerce that takes place in this game is fucking staggering, and kind of requires an explanation of its own. It is probably not that dissimilar to other games’ user-run marketplaces, but is a goddamn marvel of ingenuity that hints at strange impossible plutarchian economies that would make any real life economist shit with anger, envy, madness, and above all, respect at its near perfect sustainability.

On my day-to-day delvings, I’ll go into that marketplace looking for some kind of, oh let’s say Silver Ore, which is an actual ingredient needed to make mid-level weapons. It’s a common enough item in the right areas, and many (technically most) of the game’s players have no use for it but to sell it. Sure, blacksmithing is a common profession for characters in DQX, but there are other jobs out there, and it is the other players who make clothes, food, and enchantments who see metallic components found lying around in the field the same way I see cotton plants: stray gold. People collect this shit while they’re out fighting monsters, then bring it back to town to sell. Inventory space is severely limited, so you have to get rid of it, and computer-run item shops won’t give you jack shit. This is why it’s standard to sell the things you find in the online marketplace, because you can undercut any shop run by NPCs, and usually have no problem finding a buyer as long as you price your stuff smartly. This is key to both generating gold and clearing out that precious holding space.

Now, my silver ore is being sold in various quantities by literally hundreds of other players, and you can even sort the listings by cheapest per-unit price. This list updates every time you access it, but you can be assured that the cheapest per-unit priced items will be snatched up almost immediately after being posted, even if it’s just a couple of gold less than the standard price. Say silver ore costs on average 240 gold per unit. Some smart guy puts two on the market for 460, or 230 per unit. That’s not a bad price, I think, considering, and so I select it and make my purchase when suddenly, the little creep behind the counter is like, ”Uh oh – looks like someone has already purchased that! Tough luck. Don’t hate me, bro.” This happened again and again and again one night when I was on a crafting spree. It’s almost a minigame in itself, browsing through the item lists, trying to find the aberrant cheap stuff and button smashing that A, praying to some weird petty god that you get the message, “Here you are – thank you for your purchase.” You start to think that if only you could apply this to buying and selling shit in real life, you could be… I don’t know. Some kind of tycoon motherfucker or something. But probably not. Remember, I went broke doing just this.

Now it’s hardly a given that you’ll make back your money just by collecting the pieces. When the components are purchased and the recipe is known, the actual mini-game of hammering out the product begins. One must remember that love and care, or at least care is needed for the process of crafting, or else you will fuck it up and churn out a sub-standard product that sells for poop, or perhaps a completely irredeemable glob of slag that is worth less than poop. This mini-game is rigged so that cheaper items are easier to make, which is kind of fucking brilliant when you think about it (think higher DCs on accurate hammer strikes in my blacksmith’s case). One could easily crank out 20 shitty swords with a small investment, but these are the questions that the crafter must consider: Are people really going to buy them? At MY prices? Is it worth it? And what is life, anyway? It soon becomes obvious that the returns on low-level items are shitty in terms of gold and experience, meaning that only by moving up, up and up can one expect to make an actual profession out of this hobby. And by hobby, I mean timesink. Christ, I haven’t even killed a slime anywhere in this article yet.

My problem is that I need crafting experience that will allow me to craft the higher level weapons, and I haven’t found my perfect price-margin that will let me continue making weapons AND turn out a profit on them. The demand for weapons is always there, but the components needed to make them sometimes end up costing much more than the standard selling price for the weapon itself. I took goddamn nearly 8,000 gold out of my bank account to buy two “wind cutter wings” for this new set of Falcon Claws, only to discover that such claws were selling for a mere 6,000 in the marketplace – and mine even had a two-star rating, which means they were some kick-ass artisan masterpieces. Luckily, my character uses claws, so I ended up using them myself to farm gold in the more traditional way while stocking up on components to nickel and dime my way back to wealth.

I can be a right stupid fuck when it comes to figuring this kind of thing out on my own, and learning to correct this flaw can be an expensive endeavor indeed.  Want to hear how I set fire to 17,000 gold with one careless, caustic fart?

Every crafting profession requires a tool of some sort. The tailor needs a needle, the cook needs a frying pan, etcetera blah blah, and each of these trade tools has a limited number of uses before it breaks and your have to buy another one. It’s like income tax, I suppose. Now I’m a blacksmith, so one day I was thinking, hey, I’ll just forge my own crafting hammers! The fucking things are ridiculously expensive, after all, and like the pothead who decides to grow his own weed, I went out in search of the necessary components for this project without doing any intelligent or discerning research at all. I ended up buying a recipe book for a Platinum Hammer that cost over 17,000 gold, and I was like hot dog, now I’m set. That’ll save me tons in the long run. It was only after my crazy purchase that I discovered I have to be at a crafting level of 28 to make this fucking thing. This was nearly 10 levels in the future, meaning probably half a million gold for parts, and at least 10 days if I work at it every day. The silliest, most premature purchase ever, right? Well, it gets worse. I discovered soon after this that tool crafting is a completely separate profession from weapon crafting, and that I would have to change jobs and start over from level 1 if I ever really wanted to make this fucking thing which I don’t. Are you serious? Fuck that, I’m just getting into my own right as a weapon maker, so let the tool makers make hammers for me, and I’ll just keep the bragging rights that my character knows how to make a platinum hammer even though I will never actually bring the filthy thing into reality. Anyway, that was 17,000 gold down the goddamn fucking toilet – there is no refund on recipe books that your character has read. They pretty much evaporate into light as soon as you read them.

Half a year of awesome nothingness

July 9, 2015

Since acquiring the Wii U last Christmas, I realize that I haven’t written a single article for this goddamn blog. That was nearly seven months ago. It’s just that fucking good.

All right, no shit I’m unmotivated. Not just because this shit goes mostly unread, but I haven’t done any gaming that I could truly consider epic in a while. The games, they are fun and more beautiful than ever, but my enthusiasm toward them has somewhat dwindled in the face of life, as I suppose it must for every exhausted bi-polar middle-aged alcoholic drone just trying and mostly failing to make ends meet. Do you forgive me yet?

Well, EpicuziplayiT, as 99% of your reading audience, no, I do not. Get your shit together, pal. Write something like you give a fuck. You can pull your life out of the toilet later.

Right. Um. Video games R fun and somefing.

And what games would those be, Epi? Can I call you “Epi?”

I guess so. And let’s just list the acquisitions here because I need to remind myself.

Mario Kart 8

Nintendoland

Super Smash Bros. Wii U

Bayonetta 1&2 for Wii U

Dragon Quest X Online for Wii U

Pikmin (Gamecube)

Metroid (3DS Virtual Console)

Shadowgate Remake (Steam)

Half Life 1 (Steam)

The Stanley Parable (Steam)

Portal 2 (Steam)

The Dig (Steam)

Bioshock Infinite (PS3)

Whoa, wait, you got Bioshock Infinite?

Yeah man. For like $5.

Whoa! How is it?

Well, it’s like pretty good. I don’t know, I only played a couple hours of it.

What the fuck?! How were you even able to put it down?

Shut up, fuckhead! I’m not having a conversation with you anymore. Let me make clear that I’m not playing anything to the hilt at the moment. I’m fucking working and looking after my family all the time, and when there’s time for games, getting into hyperkinetic shooting matches with endless hordes of patrioracist zealot fuckholes simply isn’t my idea of unwinding. I barely have the energy to Smash, motherfucker. But Smash I do, because it’s an important ritual, and the best game I’ve got. Here, I’ll rave about Smash for a minute.

Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U is fun as shit, and Smash is Smash as ever. The connectivity is so good that I can even play online with my original Smash crew who live scattered all across the globe. It’s a tradition that we’ve been at since the first iteration on the 64, and I’m extremely pleased with how Nintendo has encouraged us to keep at it all these years. I fucking love those guys. Okay that’s it.

Other than that, I’m mostly just gaming to distract me from the grim ponderings of reality and abject catatonia, although there is an item in that list of games that’s gotten some special attention and is about to get some serious coverage here because I’m paying out the ass for it, and want something to remember it by when I finally hang it all up. It’s about to get Dragon Questy as fuck up in here, people, so buckle up your cursed belts and get ready for slime time.

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?

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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.

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“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?

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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


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