Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Video Games

Revisiting old favorites…and knocking out new ones

I’m ready to take on the world.

My gaming is at a stall. While I continually want to find the hot new thing (for me), I keep going back to games I already enjoyed. Ian asked me on Twitter (a thread thing) for my four favorite games. I was going to cheat and count each Dark Souls as a separate game, but I didn’t. I said Dark Souls (series), Night in the Woods, Cook, Serve, Delicious (series), and Torchlight for nostalgia reasons. I didn’t include Binding of Isaac: Rebirth because it’s not exactly a favorite, though I’ve played it more than all the Souls games put together. Probably all the FromSoft games. But it’s not a favorite in the sense of I really enjoy playing it. It’s a habit more than anything. I’m not saying it’s not a good game–it’s a very good game. It’s just not a favorite.

I’ve been playing Dark Souls II. I installed the original thinking it was SotFS, and then I decided to try the original because I haven’t played it. I also installed SotFS because SSD with 2 Terrabytes, bitches! I can install ALL. THE. GAMES. *evil laugh* Anyhow, I have seen a Let’s Play of the original game, and I knew that it was somewhat different, but not that much different. Oh wait. I started SotFS first as a Cleric. I forgot how much I hated not having a ranged option. Especially in this game where there are so many mobs. It’s one of my gripes that they come in groups, and being able to spell them from a distance makes a difference.

I fired up Dark Souls II, vanilla addition, and went back to my roots–I started as a Sorcerer. For whatever reason, you cannot start as a Pyromancer, which still makes me very bitter. In addition, it’s hard to get the Pyro shit, and it confirms my belief that casters get shit on in the games. Anyway, my sorcerer cruised through the first bit, and I did not die until after fighting the first boss, and it was a stupid death. Then again, my first death in SotFS was also dumb because it was in the tutorial at the point where they teach jumping, and it’s a tricky over a gap jump. I’ve died there several times, much to my annoyance.

One of the problems with playing the original DS II is that there aren’t many people playing. I did find one summons, but that’s not much. In SotFS, on the other hand, there are plenty of people playing. Both as a plus and a minus. I was in Heide’s Tower of Flame, and I was able to summon two people to run through it with me. Unfortunately, I got invaded, and he vanquished both my summons. So, I jumped into the ocean in order to avoid being killed.

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FromSoft games on my mind

While I’m not feeling my best (and in this case, have no idea what the hell is going on with me), I like to return to my comfort gaming. For me, there are a few games that reach that level. It’s not necessarily ‘easy’ games, either, as they are all games I struggled with when I first played them. But, they’re games I’ve played so much, I have a groove on when I get in the zone. I blame it all on Dark Souls being one of the first ‘hardcore’ games I’ve played. It broke me, remade me, then broke me again. I hated it with all my heart by the time I was done with it (having played the whole game plus DLC), and I was relieved to see the backside of it. Then, Dark Souls II was released, and, damn it, my interest was piqued. I wasn’t going to jump right in because I was cheap and never bought games full price. While I was gunning up for it to go on sale, I decided that the best way to prep for it was to play the first game again. Why? I don’t know. Time eases the pain or some such. I was and am a masochist. I don’t know what it is. I also don’t know why I finished the game the first time as I HATED it by the time I went to *spoiler, I guess, for a 9-year-old game* take on Gwyn, the final boss.

Honestly, I was done with the game after beating Biggie & Small. That took so much out of me, although for the longest time, it was the highlight of my gaming career. The fact that I died to them sixty to seventy times and then finally, finally, beat them on my own. I felt like a GOD, and you couldn’t say shit to me for, oh, three minutes. Until I probably promptly got killed in the next new area. That’s how these games work. With one hand, Miyazaki giveth, and with the other, he slaps you across the face repeatedly and as hard as he can.

You want to know what took the place of defeating Biggie & Small as my proudest gaming moment? Two things happened in Sekiro that tested my mettle and found me almost wanting. And by things, I mean bosses, of course, because those are the linchpins of the game. We can talk about the gorgeous environments and the interconnectivity all we want, but we all know that the pinnacle of the games is when you walk through the white fog and face that boss. Or don’t walk through the white fog in some cases, which is trollery at its finest.

Genichiro was the first boss to make me question why the fuck I was playing Sekiro and maybe I was out of my league. Ian likes to say that I get that way with every big boss in a Souls game, and he’s right, but there’s something different about Genichiro. You get a tease of him because he’s the tutorial boss against whom you are supposed to die. You *can* beat him, which I did in NG+, but that was when I had all my gear. The three times I’ve faced him in NG, well, let’s just say he got the best of me. I will say I did much better the second and third time than the first, but I still didn’t even manage to get one of his life pips.

Coming across him up on the Ashina Castle roof was epic, and it was the hard check that every FromSoft game has. It’s the boss that takes your measure and sees if you have what it takes to finish the rest of the game. Some games journalists say if you can take Genichiro, then you can take any of the bosses later in the game. I don’t think that’s true, but I’m truly mediocre at the game. I’m decent at Souls games by now, but Sekiro took everything I had to give and then some. I reached the third phase of Genichiro for the first time after being ecstatic thinking I beat him, and then he immediately grabbed me and killed me.


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Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!–just as addictive as ever

The food of my people returns!

One of my fondest gaming memories is 100%ing the original Cook, Serve, Delicious!* even though I don’t care about achievements at all.  I’ve explained before that my OCD traits mean that I went for perfect days no matter what in the first game and gold medals in the second. It’s carried over into the third game, Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!, which is what this post is about. It’s the third in the series, all done by one guy, David Galindo, also known by his Twitter name, chubigans. The game is in Early Access, but it’s already polished and very playable.

I’ve been playing it for a week, and I just can’t put it down. In the beginning, I played one or two days at a time because that was all I could handle. As I got back in the groove of the frantic keyboard pounding, I found myself chanting the letters over and over. For example, cannoli. I use it a lot because it’s a 4-point dish (out of 5), and I did it plenty of times in the last game. In the holding sta–

Ok. Let me back up. The last game introduced the idea of Holding Stations at the top of the screen where you can prep dishes ahead of time so they’re ready to go when customers arrive. You make them in bulk, so it saves on having to make them individually. Some of them require additional steps when the customer comes. Take, for example, hamburgers (another 4-point dish). You cook the meat (M) ahead of time in the Holding Station, then when the customer comes, you have to doctor the burger to their taste. It’s not uncommon to hear me chant, “M, M, B, C, S, R,” and sometimes I’ll add a, “SEND” at the end of it. I don’t think I could play this game in front of other people because it would be really disturbing to them. Not disturbing as in horrifying, but as in literally disturbing.

When I first tried the Holding Stations in the last game, I was against it because it was just one more thing to have to deal with. Now, however, I don’t know how I ever lived without them. It’s a godsend to be able to fill five or six orders at once rather than each individually, and then just have to fill it out once when they’re all gone.

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Video game randomness

Feeling scattered, so I thought I’d do a stream-of-consciousness post about what’s on my mind re: video games. How is this different than any other post you ask? First of all, rude. Secondly, it’s different because I’m announcing it ahead of time. Third point, normally I write about one general topic with many little side paths. In this post, they are all side paths. With that warning, let’s jump right in.

I spent all day yesterday thinking it was Tuesday? Why? I have no idea. Therefore, today is Wednesday in my world. That may explain why I forgot that Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! was released in Early Access yesterday. Now, Steam is down, and I cannot cook, serve, and be delicious! By the way, I love the way the developer, David Galindo also known as chubigans because it’s his Twitter handle) numbered the sequels. The original is Cook, Serve, Delicious!. The first sequel is Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!. And this one is Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!. It’s a little thing, but I think it’s fun. Well. The store page loaded and then the search page loaded. Then, the game page did not load. Apparently, Steam is down in the US and the UK.

Oh. Dark Souls thought. I’ve been ruminating about all the hate for casters I have several thoughts, but one that just suddenly occurred to me. Apparently, magic really was OP in Demon’s Souls–the one game I haven’t played. Not coincidentally, it has a mana bar, much like Dark Souls III does. That does make it easier to make casting overpowering because you can basically have as many spells as you want as long as you spec for it. In addition, in Demon’s Souls, the magicks don’t have level stats. Let me give you an example. In Dark Souls, White Dragon is a sorcery that needs 50 points of Intelligence to use. Pyromancy doesn’t require spell levels in the original game, but it takes 340,500 Souls to fully upgrade the Pyromancy Flame. That’s 55 levels. That’s a shit-ton of levels.

So my theory is that someone who played as a caster in the first game or saw someone play as a caster in the first game formed an opinion of casting that didn’t change throughout the games even though the mechanics of magicks have changed drastically from game to game. Also, I think it’s laziness in which someone just repeats what they see/hear in the videos/forums without really thinking about it. It doesn’t make it right, but it makes it more understandable.

Back to CSD3. Which I still can’t play because Steam is still down. The original was one of my favorite games of all times, It’s one of the few games I’ve 100%ed. Well, until they added new content. The same thing happened with Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. I got True Platinum God before they changed the requirements. Then I couldn’t be stuffed with either to do what needed to be done to achieve it again.

Steam is back up, and I am installing CSD3 as I type. I won’t be able to play it until later, but it’ll be a treat when I’m done with everything I need to do. I’m tempted to play it now, but I know once I start, I won’t be able to stop for hours. I have my Sabre Form lesson in an hour, and I am not going to want to stop by then.


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Feeling icy about Iceborne

It’s not Fashion Borne, but it’ll have to do.

Ian and I have been  chatting about Iceborne. He’s loving it, and I’m….um….playing it. A little. Reluctantly. Back when I was playing the base game, he gave up on it much sooner than I did. Then at some point, he jumped back in and finished the storyline. We have very different ways of approaching games, and I think it was to his benefit in this case. He tends to play several games at once, even before he was in the industry, whereas I might dabble a bit, but I usually focused on one game at a time. This works well for me in FromSoft games, and even then, I find myself approaching burnout near the end of each game. For whatever reason, that goes away, and I play the games over and over. Well, to be more precise, the Souls games. I’m currently stalled on my most recent Sekiro playthrough because it takes so much out of me, and I have to be at my best to play it. I’m rarely at my best.

So, Ian is loving Iceborne whereas I’m trying to love it. He’s put about half to a third as much time into the base game as I have, and he recently completed the Banbaro set. He’s maining the Insect Glaive, which is one of my two backup weapons. Charge Blade is the other. One of my issues, I insisted on clinging to my gear from the base game, even though I had read that you should immediately make new gear in MR. I mean, it makes sense. I had to do it back when I made the jump from LR to HR. It was one of the things most discussed–don’t bother grinding out all the gear in LR because it’ll be useless in HR.

The thing, is, though, HR is many hours more than LR. By the time I was done with HR, I had fourteen Switch Axes all fully upgraded and dozens of loadouts. One for each monster. It’s not an economy  issue because I have over 2,000,000z and over a hundred and twenty-five thousand research points. I have mats for days, although my using the elder melder to make some of the rarer resources on the regular seriously cut into my Great Jagras mats. The point is that I can’t get over feeling as if I wasted my time in HR. I finally gave in and made MR armor and the basic bone swaxe. They already do more damage/have more defense than my fully-upgraded HR gear. Intellectually, I understand why this is the case, but emotionally, it’s a hit.

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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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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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