Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Fun

Time to play Bloodb–er, Iceborne!

LOOK HOW CUTE I AM!

Back when I was engrossed in Monster Hunter World, I was obsessed with it even when I wasn’t playing. It’s my personality in general that I consume one game at a time (or one anything). I put in so many hours into that game, and much of it was me happily grinding or doing side quests rather than finish the main storyline. I prefer to be over-prepared than under-prepared, and since I play most of the game solo, it’s all on me. And Shadow. My loyal Palico. Palico armor is one of my favorite parts of the game, by the way. I always made sure to outfit him first before making my own armor. Right now, Shadow is running around in the Bandaro armor no matter what monster I am tackling because it is by far the cutest armor in the game so far.

When the DLC/expansion was announced, I was hyped. But then time went on, and my hype faded. If I’m to be honest, I soured on MHW at the end of my time with it. I had reached the Tempered Elder Dragon part of the game, and it wasn’t fun at all. Doing it solo was really hard, but doing it with a random team was hellish. You have to work together with something that difficult, and, yeah, it was frustrating to play with randos. In addition, I was specced to deal with the Elder Dragons by having a High Elderseal on my weapon, which meant they didn’t do their ultimate much if at all. As Tempered Elder Dragons, they seemed to ignore my High Elderseal, which meant I was unprepared for the ulti. In addition, I am specced with an insane amount of defense and vitality (definitely the former and lesser so the latter). I was able to be one-hit by the ult, and that’s not fun for me. I felt as if I were being punished for playing the game my way, and I quit after a nightmare of a time with Tempered Vaal Hazak. I think part of the problem was that I didn’t have much trouble with the regular one–he was not the hardest Elder Dragon by far–so I was not prepared by the Tempered Elder Dragon version.

I did not want to relearn the Elder Dragons, so I quit. When the Geralt mission came to the PC, I had a curious reaction to it. I wanted to play it because Geralt is my video game bae and the OG monster hunter, but I…I did not want to play more Monster Hunter World. I was burned out, and what’s more, I did not want to relearn the game. I had been playing Sekiro when it came out (I think. It might have been Dark Souls III), and it was really difficult to go from a FromSoft game to MHW. There was a time when I was trying to play both MHW and DS III, and that was not a good time. I did not enjoy the Geralt mission, though I did complete it, and I only did it once. Originally, I was going to do it more so I could get the armor and the weapon, but I just couldn’t be bothered.

That’s actually how I knew I was over the game. When I was into it, I would check in for every fest and do all the daily challenges and get the special armors and whatnot. When the latest fests came around, I just couldn’t be stuffed to do them. It seemed more of a chore than a want, and I said, nah.

So, yes, I was hyped when the Iceborne expansion was announced, but I had a niggling worry in the back of my mind. Why? I’ll tell you. One, it was G rank. Actually, it’s called Master Rank. I had already hit my ceiling with Tempered Elder Dragons, so what the fuck was I going to do with Master Rank? Two, the end of MHW exhausted me. I wasn’t having any fun, and it was tedious. In addition, the expansion initially released only for consoles. That was back in August, I think. Late August? Nope. September 6th, so I was close. I didn’t watch too much of the coverage because I don’t like to be spoiled, and my excitement faded. More than faded. It completely disappeared.

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Rambling thoughts about the state of my game

So, I’m have good news and bad news concerning my health. The good news is that all my flu symptoms are gone. The bad news is that my cough has settled in my chest. All things considered, I’ll take the trade off. It still means I’m exhausted, however, which means I stick to BoI:R and Dark Souls III these days. As I mentioned, I started another Sekiro playthrough, but I cannot play it when I’m not in top form. Whenever I watch someone else play it, I’m filled with passion to play it again. When I actually think about doing it, however, I just don’t have the will or the energy.

I can’t quit BoI:R. I’ve reached the point where I can do a run quite comfortably as long as I get some damage upgrades fairly quickly. By the way, let me ruminate on some of the most annoying things about the game. I was going to make a whole post of it, but that seems like too much of a bother. One of the worst runs in this game is one where I have a ton of health (say as Maggie), but no damage. I remember a run where I was on the Mom floor, and I had no damage upgrades, but a shit-ton of health and health regen. There was no way I was going to die, but it was taking me two or three tears to kill very basic enemies. If I don’t have at least four ticks of damage by this floor, it’s a bad run. I’ve actually ended runs prematurely because I couldn’t stand the thought of going to the Chest with no damage.

Speaking of the Chest, that’s another issue with the game. The ‘heavenly’ route (Cathedral and Chest) is way better than the ‘hell’ route (Sheol and Dark Room). I never go the latter except when it’s dictated by the Daily Run. Part of the reason is that you can get four new items on the Chest. What do you get on the Dark Room? Spiders and troll bombs, mostly. Speaking of troll bombs, I really hate them. I don’t mind that they exist. Ok, I do, but I accept it. What I hate is when I literally cannot outrun them because I’m too slow or the room is too small (and, yeah, I’ll get to that in a minute), it feels cheap.

That’s the thing about RNG–there’s a very thin line between fair and foul. I’ve said this in the past. I know that’s part of RNG, but I do think sometimes it’s the coding at fault. Yes, I know that’s my go-to when I’m displeased with something in a game, but at least I acknowledged it, right?


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Not today, Satan. Not today

I was going to go on a full-out rant about toxic masculinity, ‘boys will be boys’, cross-Atlantic culture differences, and video gaming culture, but I’m really not in the mood for it today. I’m still sick, though, thankfully the flu symptoms are gone. It’s all settled into my respiratory system, and my voice comes and goes as it pleases. When it comes, it’s still Barry White deep but not nearly as sexy what with the sneezes, sniffles, and hawking up loogies. I need to be in fighting form to do a full-throated rant and because I want to fully develop my theory of…well, I don’t have a pithy name for it, and I cannot for the life of me find the post in which I thought I wrote about it, but it’s a good theory. I swear!

I still can’t find it. I’ll look for it and craft the post and do it when I’m feeling better. In the meantime, enjoy the latest Oxventure (first of four parts). It actually is tangentially related to my rant. With that teaser, enjoy.

The one true game of 2019

*Bonus Post*

I have written about how meh this year has been as far as gaming goes for me. There have been dozen of games that I’ve tried and stopped after an hour or less of play. There are some that I played more than an hour and actually liked the game, but then fell off it for one reason or another. In fact, I wrote about two of those games in my last post. I toyed with naming this award The best game that I wasn’t good enough to finish (again) in homage to the category I used for the last two years (for Hollow Knight and Dead Cells, respectively), but, really, there is no need to name it anything other than The perennial FromSoft best game award. Or, The take my money, Miyazaki, award. I could drag this out for several more paragraphs, and you know I can do it, but it’s the worst-kept secret if you know anything about it–and me–so I’ll just blurt it out.

The one true game of 2019

My best game of the year–and The Game Awards agree with me–is Sekiro. It’s a FromSoft game. What a surprise!

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a brilliant game. I could end the post right here, but I won’t. I have written about the game countless times as I was playing it, and I’m currently doing a replay from the very start. Why? I mean, I do have an NG+ run in the bank (fighting Bird Daddy for the second time. One of my personal nightmares, and it only gets harder from this point on) and an NG run where I’m currently sat at the bonfire in front of the Guardian Ape. I started a new playthrough because I haven’t played it in several months, and it’s not a game you can go into rusty and expect to come out ahead. At least, I cannot as I’m firmly a scrub.

Funny side note: My niece’s husband is a big FromSoft fan, and we were talking about Sekiro at Christmas Eve dinner. We were also talking about nerd stuff along with my niece, and I said I didn’t consider myself a nerd. He looked at me weirdly and said, “Not even a Dark Souls nerd?” I laughed and said I wasn’t good enough to be a Dark Souls nerd. I think we’re using nerd in different ways. I think he and my niece mean it in the more popular nomenclature which is being a huge fan of something techie or sci-fi. I was using it ironically in that the more hardcore members of ‘the community’ disavow anyone who does not play the game in the exact same way they do. Of course, they don’t play it the same as each other, so that’s fun. I like to say that I am firmly mediocre at FromSoft games, and I stick by that. I also remain absurdly proud of myself for beating all the games without ever learning to parry.


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The close but no cigar game awards

Last week, I wrote about my year in gaming–which, let’s face it, has mostly been meh. I mentioned two Souls-like games that I played quite a bit and enjoyed until I didn’t, a game that I enjoyed and finished that wasn’t a Souls-like, and a game from the past that I resurrected as my comfort game. Then, of course, there is the one true game of the year, which I’ll get to at the end. If you know anything about me at all, you’ll know what it is, but you’ll have to wait for it, anyway. Let me quickly give the other games (hopefully) amusingly named awards before tackling the big one.

Quick note: In reading my game awards posts from last year in order to write this one, I stumble across this:

I play the hell out of each game I play. I wring every ounce of content out of it, and then I squeeze it some more. I would rather play three games a year that I really like than a couple dozen that I’m meh about.

I still feel that way, and that’s why I’m a bit down about this year in gaming. When I was thinking back on the year, I couldn’t think of many games that gave me dozens of hours of engagement. I’m hoping that 2020 will be different, but I’m skeptical. This post is for the games that hit a spot to a certain extent, but aren’t the One True Game. I have a hunch I won’t get to the big one in this post, but hope springs eternal.

The game I can’t quit no matter how hard I try

Binding of Isaac: Rebirth*

I played the shit out of this game when it first came out. I tried to play the original, but it felt ungainly, and I never got into it. That game was developed by Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl. Edmund (and his wife) went with Nicalis for BoI:R and everything after. I was immediately hooked on BoI:R, much to my surprise, and I played an embarrassing number of hours. I also True Platinum Godded it before the requirements changed, and I’m only missing something on The Keeper, the worst character in the whole game. I forced myself to quit playing it and left it off for about a year. I did play again when Afterbirth+ came out, but then I didn’t. Then, for whatever reason, I  installed it on my laptop (the last one). Why? I don’t remember, but I think it’s because it’s small and I can play it with the keyboard and no mouse. I do the daily every day along with a free run (usually Eden), and it’s my comfort game at this point. When I can’t play a new game or feel up to a Souls game (which, while comforting, still takes more energy), I pull up BoI:R and escape for an hour. I’m going to give it up again soon, but until then, I’m enjoying all the weird synergies.


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The state of my game in 2019

Normally, this is the time of the year when I start handing out game awards with goofy names. The criteria is not what I consider the best games of the year, but games that I liked the best. I very rarely play the games on the best of the year lists, especially in the year they are released, so I don’t have much to contribute to that conversation. The one exception, of course, are FromSoft games, and I promise I will get to that later–but probably not in this post. A few weeks ago, I started thinking about the games I played this year, and I realized that there weren’t many that really stood out for me. More to the point, there weren’t that many that I actually finished.

I tend to play one ‘big’ game at a time (big in terms of amount of things to do, not necessarily Triple A or story-wise or whatnot). Ian and I like to joke that he has an ADD approach to gaming whereas I have an OCD approach. However, I’ve been thinking lately that I am more ADD than OCD than I previously thought. Yes, I can focus on one thing to the exclusion of everything else, but that’s the hyperfocus part of ADD. Anyway, this year, I played Sekiro at the end of March/all of April when it was released. I played it obsessively. I thought about it when I wasn’t playing it. I dreamed about it. It was in my blood, and I didn’t have room to think about anything else. We shall,  of course, get to that later.

One of my enduring quests is to find a mystery game that I can really sink my teeth into.  There are plenty of mystery games out there, but, unfortunately, most of them are…not great. I’ve written at length about my disappointment with them before (and the point-and-click genre in general), so I’m not going to rehash those points. I’ll just say that my experiences this year with the genre cemented my belief that those games are not for me. I tried Unavowed and Thimbleweed earlier in the year, and while the former held promise (the latter irritated me from the beginning), it inevitably fell into the trap that so many point-and-clicks do–namely, making me do elaborately nonsensical things to accomplish a quest AND showing me things I knew I would need later, but did not allow me to pick up the first time I saw them. This is the year I’ve given up on point-and-clicks, and I’m a bit sad about it.


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The problem with Souls-like games

badass blacksmith, but a bit broken.
My buddy, Andre! Er, Bataran.

So, there’s a little game called Ashen that was exclusive to the Epic Store for a year and just was released on Steam earlier this week. I had my eye on it when it was first released, and then I noticed it was on Steam. I snapped it up and eagerly dove in. It’s a Souls-like, and I read a bit about it but not much as my thing is to go in as fresh as I can with the games. That doesn’t last long as an hour later, I’m madly Googling shit. Unfortunately, in the case of Ashen, not many people have played, but we’ll get to that in a little bit. I was immediately taken by the graphics as it felt very paper-craft/cut-out to me. It had a charm to it, and the little bit of reviews I read were mostly positive. I knew there were AI companions, and I was on the fence about that going in. Still on the fence now, but I’ll get to that later as well.

Jumping in, there was very little character creation, but I made her look as Asian as possible. I wasn’t able to name her, unfortunately, but then I just dumped in. The buttons were mostly the same, but there were a few that made me raise my eyebrow. One was putting jump on Y. Um, no. That’s not where the jump goes. I tried to put it on A, but that was was for interaction, and I was sternly informed that they could not be on the same button. I swapped the two, which isn’t ideal, but A has to be jump. Just B is roll. This is life. This is how it  is. And it can never be changed.

The rest of the controls are similar enough, but we’ll come back to the jump in a bit. I  know I keep saying this, but I’m trying to do this in an orderly fashion, which is not like me at all.

In the beginning, I have some rubbish weapon and some rubbish clothing and a rubbish shield. The enemies aren’t very memorable, and the spear-chucking woman quickly gets irritating. Also, spear-throwing is…um…problematic. That’s your projectile in this game, and you have to aim it. It’s not enough to lock on it and throw. You have to manually aim to throw the spear, which when you’re running around and fighting enemies in general is not doable for me.

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A little bit of this…a little bit of that

I still am on a quest to find the One True Game (of the moment). I will note that I’m going through some personal shit at the moment, so that might be influencing my mood at the moment. I’m also dealing with health issues (which, sigh), so I’m not always up to trying something new. I’m not really up to anything arduous, including my beloved Souls. The only thing I can play with any regularity is Binding of Isaac: Rebirth*, and that’s maybe one game a day plus a go at the Daily Run. It helps that I only have to use the keyboard as well. It’s very minimal exertion, which is pretty much all I need at the moment.

At any rate, I’m trying to find other games. There is a Steam sale going on because there always is, and I picked up Vampyr, DMC 5, and Gris. By the way, I have a disgusting number of games in my shame pile. I can’t tell you how many because, as I said, it’s disgusting. Before the sale, I heard tell of a game called Disco Elysium. It’s a open world RPG detective noir game, and it sounded like it could be right up my alley. I have been searching for a lifetime for a detective game that is actually enjoyable and a good game. I have tried countless of them over the years, and I have only tasted bitterness and disappointment. The Sherlock Holmes games that everyone loves so much? Bollocks. I’ve tried five or six of them, including the most recent two, and I hated every minute. Well, that’s not completely true. There were glimmers of goodness, but overall, it was tedious, grinding, not good gameplay. The reason I kept trying is because people loved them so much. I thought I must have been missing something, but I finally gave up. Until they are done by someone else, I’m not buying another Sherlock Holmes game.

Side Note: Casual game devs get away with so much shit. I kind of put the Sherlock games in this category, but not quite as bad. They churn out the same game over and over again with the slightest tweaks–sometimes, not even tweaked at all. In addition, for the love of god, do not have a cut scene before I have a chance to mess with the options. I play casual games without the sound, and I turn off the sound as soon as I can. The Sherlock games are not that bad, but the basic gameplay doesn’t change at all. Or rather, it didn’t and then it did with the modernization of the games, but then it didn’t again.

Disco Elysium. I didn’t know much about it before I bought it. I knew it was dystopian and D&D based. By the way, ever since I started watching the Oxventures, I have a desire to  play D&D. Jane is playing the character I want to play–Prudence, a tiefling warlock who has dedicated herself to Cthulhu–but I found out from the interwebs that a tiefling warlock is so basic. I have a feeling that the D&D community is going to be a lot like the Souls community. Mostly good folks, but with a very vocal minority who blather on about the right way to play. Let’s face it. Mostly young white dudes because that’s how it is in most nerd communities.


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The feeling of MEH

I’ve been *sigh* fighting health issues this week. Mostly migraine related, but also sinus-related. Plus, I just got my period today, which I was expecting, but it’s never welcomed. I shouldn’t complain about the last, really, because I’ve been very fortunate with my period over the years. In my heyday, I got it two to three times a year for three days at a time. Don’t worry, I asked my doctor about it, and she said as long as I got it twice a year, I was fine. And, since I didn’t want to have kids, it helped me attain that goal as well. When I had sex on a regular basis, I had my period more regularly (damn body working against me!), but when I went without, my period was all over the place. Wait. In addition, it was light whenever I had it, and I never had too many physical side  effects from it. The worst of it was that I was a bit bitchier than usual and my boobs were tender. MAYBE I got a weak cramp here and there, but that’s it. Nowadays, I barely even know I have it, and I’m pretty sure I’m perimenopausal if not menopausal.

Anyway! Vidya games. The reason I mentioned my health is because when I’m feeling miserable, I can’t play ‘hard’ games. I didn’t even feel up to DS‘ing some of the days, and that’s saying a lot. To be honest, it was because of something stupid. I play DS offline for most of the game because I am human/embered up most of the time (I got gud, y’all) most of the time, and I do not want to be invaded. I hate being invaded in these games. I hate it because I suck at PvP, and I have no desire to waste time fighting someone. In addition, anyone still PvP’ing so long after the games were released means that’s all they do in the games at this point. In other words, my chances of winning are slim to less than none. I will note, however, that I have a better chance when I’m strengthcasting than when I’m pure casting. Magic is shit in PvP given lag issues.

I like co-oping in bosses, though. For whatever reason, you can’t switch from online to offline in-game or even while the game is playing (at least in DS III). So, when I’m up to a boss, I have to quit the game, go offline in Steam, and then fire up the game again. Also, for some inexplicable reason, FromSoft decided not to have Cloud Sync for DS III, so I had to start new games every time I switched machines. First world problem, but what a strange decision. Anyway, the irritation of switching from offline to online has stopped me on occasion from playing because I just can’t be bothered. In addition, while the game is no longer difficult for me, it can be tedious at times. It’s still a slog, and while I can play it mostly on autopilot, that doesn’t mean that I can’t be taken off-guard from time to time.


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The perfect game for me, er date?

In Friday’s post, I wrote many, many words about how I defined myself and how it applied to dating. It was purportedly about gaming, but I spent most of the post focusing on dating. Now, on a day when I’m supposed to be talking about personal issues, I’m going to focus mostly on gaming. Why? Because it’s funny to me.

In the last post, I left it off by describing how death in Dark Souls made me learn this game back and forth. Let’s take the Undead Burg because it’s the first real place you explore after the Northern Undead Asylum. You’re dropped at the Firelink Shrine by a big black bird, and there are three ways you can go. One, across the way by the skellies in the graveyard. Two, down by the mute Fire Keeper, then down again, to New Londo and the ghosts who don’t take damage (unless a certain condition is met). Three, up the stairs where there are more skellies, but manageable one.

One small gripe. Some people ‘in the community’ say it’s obvious that you’re supposed to go the third route because the other two are so hard. My retort to that the one thing everybody knows about the game is that it’s brutally hard. How the hell are you supposed to discern ‘too hard’ with adequately hard? Especially if you’ve never played that kind of game before.

Anyway, here’s the Undead Burg run. Go up the stairs from Firelink Shrine. There will be a boney to greet you. Then one jumps down as another chucks firebombs at you. There is an armored one further down the way, but I ignore him for now. After dispensing with boney number two, I go up the second set of stairs to take care of another boney, then firebomber, then two more bonies.


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