Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: dark souls

Monster Hunter: World; my new Dark Souls

the killing blow!
Ah, Great Jagras, I know you so well.

I’ve mentioned that when Monster Hunter: World was released on consoles, I got unreasonably hyped about it. Why unreasonably? Because I played the previous iteration on 3DS and HATED it. Oh my god, it was so terrible. I hated everything about it, but not because of the game itself. I hated it because I don’t do hand-held consoles, or consoles in general, really (PS4 and Bloodborne excluded), and so many of the mechanics of the game were stupid as shit. I’m sorry. Even MH fans have to admit that the egg quests were pure horseshit. Funny side note: I chuckle that MH are my initials as well as Monster Hunter. Anyway. For whatever reason, when MHW came out on console, I was immediately intrigued. I watched all the videos of gameplay I could, and I was captivated.

Then, time went by, and the luster wore off because one, I wasn’t buying it for console no way no how, and the PC version wasn’t coming out in the foreseeable future. Two, I hated the way the monster limped, drooled, and twitched as they were about to die. It really bothered me, and I didn’t think I could do that to a poor creature who wasn’t attacking me. See, that’s the thing in Monster Hunter. Much of the time, the monsters are just going about their business, not paying attention to you at all. Mind you, I’m still in Low Rank, so it might be different once I progress further, but I’m getting ahead of myself. They weren’t doing any harm to the hunter, and really, you’re the aggressor. It’s a colonizing mentality that doesn’t sit well with me.

Anyhoo, MHW came out for PC last week, and Ian pre-ordered it and installed it. Through the magic of family/friend share on Steam, I was able to demo it without buying it. I created my character, mulan rogue (all my characters are such named), and I was pretty happy with how she looked. I couldn’t find hair as long as mine, but I found one hairstyle with a high pony and the hair reaching halfway down her back, so that’s what I chose. I made my Palico (cat companion) black, of course, and called him shadow. I jumped into the game and because I’ve seen the opening a few times, I knew the basics of what I was doing at the start.

Let me tell you, there is a shit-ton to learn about this game. The menus and meta-game information are overwhelming. The thing I like, however, is that you don’t really need to delve that deeply in the beginning to have fun hunting. I didn’t touch the load-outs for anything, for example, until I was many hours into the game. The tutorials suck, by the way. Don’t expect to learn much from the game. You’ll get the bare-bone basics, but that’s it. It’s up to you to learn in other ways, including looking it up and watching videos.

I spent a considerable amount of time in the training area because I wanted to try all fourteen weapons. Yes, I know it’s overkill, but that’s just the way I roll. I already knew I was interested to the Switch Axe, the Charge Blade, and the Insect Glaive. Yes, I’m that person, and, yes, I like to make things harder on myself. I know, I know, the Sword and Shield is the safe choice, but my god, it’s so boring. I know I didn’t even scratch the surface of it, but it just felt blah in my hands. Same with the Longsword, which is the other newbie-friendly weapon. It didn’t do anything for me, and I gave it an honest try. I zipped through the Lance, the Gunlance, both the Bowguns, the Hunting Horn, the Hammer, and the Great Sword. Didn’t care for the Bow, but I did like the Dual Swords quite a lot. However, I’m not a dex person, so I set them aside for my three babies.

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The Surge–put it in the done folder

making him feel it EXTRA.
Crucifixion never felt so good.

Ian and I sometimes talk about the way we game. He’s a Games Journalist™ now, but even before he had to play a million games a week, he had the tendency to dive into something for a bit, then move on to another game, rinse, lather, and repeat. I, on the other hand, will latch onto a game, then wring every ounce of content I can out of it and then some. ‘Coz I’m Taiwanese, and we’re a cheap people. I tend to have ‘my’ game, playing it obsessively until I finish the game. In this case, it’s The Surge. I wrote about the first half of it here.

Halfway through the game, I started getting sick of the game. Now, this is normal for me when I play a game, especially a Souls/Souls-like game. It’s the downside of ingesting a game until it bleeds out of my eyeballs. I clearly remember the first time I played the original Dark Souls. After the infamous duo, everything went rapidly downhill. I didn’t want to play the rest of the game. And, it’s pretty much accepted that the second half of the original Dark Souls doesn’t hold up to the first half, do not @me, Souls fans, because you know it’s fucking true. When I beat *spoilers* Gwyn, I chose to link the First Flame, and watched the credits roll, I didn’t feel jubilation, elation, or any other kind of positive -ation. I was relieved, and I was glad to see the backside of Dark Souls. I put it in the done folder, and I thought I was through with it forever. Ha! I will get to that more in a bit.

One thing I quite like about The Surge is that you had to go back to one early area–Central Production B–several times because doing later parts unlocked new areas. What I didn’t like is that it wasn’t always clear what I was meant to do when I finished an area. Yes, yes, I know esoteric and Souls go together like hand and glove, but usually in a Souls game, you at least know what you’re supposed to go. And, because it’s not exactly linear, sometimes you have several places you can go. Yes, there are areas that you can skip or not even know exist, but in general, all the places you NEED to go are fairly easy to spot. There is one major counter-example in Dark Souls II, but, again, not a Miyazaki* game. In The Surge, I had to check the wikis more than once after finishing a section because I had no idea where I was supposed to go next.

Here’s where we touch on the story. The story is…meh. The premise is serviceable.  You start on a train into CREO, a company dedicated to using technology for the betterment of the world. Yeah, like we have never heard that one before. Like it’s not the basis of a zillion sci-fi novels/movies/TV shows. Yes, there’s the board that even for all their good intentions, ultimately do more evil than good. They are positioned to be the big baddie, which they are in the metaphorical sense, if not the literal one. *mild spoiler* When the train stop, you get off the train, wait, what? I’m in a wheelchair, which is an interesting choice. Not being able to sprint is frustrating, which is a good thing. Here’s the thing, though. It’s just a shtick. The first thing you do after getting off the train is to roll to a place where you choose either ‘Lynx’ (dex) or ‘Rhino’ (tank), and then you have the mechanical pieces grafted onto your body. You’re supposed to be sedated, but it doesn’t take. As a result, you get thrown into the garbage heap, and you wake up to a drone trying to drag you somewhere. And, of course, you can walk. *unspoilered*

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First half of The Surge–otherwise known as Junkyard Souls

grind 'em up!
You didn’t need that arm, did you?

In the world of the Souls-like, I have tried many–oh, so many–with dismal results. Most of them lacked a certain something that makes Souls games addictive to me, though it was different with each game. Ironically, the ones that hewed the closest to Souls were the most disappointing because they made me want to be playing a new Souls game. I haven’t finished most of those games. The one exception to that was Salt & Sanctuary, which I thought was a solid game as a caster, but a shite one as a melee character. I also promptly forgot much of it once I beat it, but that’s neither here nor there. Then, there was a Souls-like I really adored, Hollow Knight, that I just sucked at and knew I wouldn’t be able to finish. I still think it’s a great game, and I love the protagonist.

Anyhoo, one of the more slavish Souls-like games was Lords of the Fallen, made by Deck 13 Interactive. It made no bones about the game being a love letter to Dark Souls, and almost everything they did could be mapped onto something in Souls. It should have been my jam, except it wasn’t because one, the magic was shite (at least in the few hours I played). Two, they mistook careful combat for everything being suuuuuuuper slow. Three, the one thing they added is a timer for getting back your Souls (whatever they were called) when you die, and I hated that. A lot. I tried Lords of the Fallen twice, and quit within a few hours the second time because it just wasn’t very good.

Fast-forward to 2017. Deck 13’s next Souls-like game came out, called The Surge. Lords of the Fallen was called Clunky Souls, which was more than apt. The Surge is Junkyard Souls, though they prefer to say it’s Sci-fi Souls. I watched a bit of YouTubers and reviewers when they played it, and it was immediately much more intriguing than Lords of the Fallen, even though I’m not into sci-fi. At all. I’m way into fantasy, but LotF was so generic, it might as well have not been fantasy at all.

I knew when I saw The Surge that I would try it out. I’ve given most Souls-likes a go, and this one had enough going for it that I wanted to at least give it a shot. I also knew I would wait until it went on sale because I wasn’t paying forty bucks for it. The Steam Summer Sale started last week, and both The Surge and Prey (for some reason, they are the same game to me in my mind) were on steep sale, and both had free demos. I installed both, and before I tell you about The Surge, let me tell you about my experience with the Prey demo.

I fired it up and was immediately nauseated. It’s first-person, and I have severe motion sickness. I fiddled with the FOV, and when I tried to go back to the game, it crashed. When I tried to restart, I couldn’t use my controller. Third time, I was able to get it running, but I was still nauseated. I messed with the FOV for a few more minutes, but nothing seemed to work. I went to the Googles, and the Steam forum informed me that it’s a motion blur problem, and that you have to go into the files to fix it because it’s not an option in-game. Which is infuriating because motion blur, apparently, is to make console game players forget that the game is only 30 fps and not 60 fps, like PCs. Ahem.

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I’m all about that Souls, that Souls, that Dark Souls

a worthy foe.
I bow to you, Sir Alonne.

Last we checked in with our erstwhile heroine, she was triumphant over her defeat of Sinh, the Slumbering Dragon, who slumbers no more, yo! She had thoroughly trounced the Ivory King with the help of her four Loyce Knights, and she only had one goal left in the DLCs*: beat Sir Alonne solo. Shocked and surprised that it wasn’t the Fume Knight? By the way, the nugget that he goes berserk if you dress up as Velstadt was interesting to me, so I tried it. I cosplayed as Velstadt, and, indeed, Raime lost it when I stepped through the fog door. He forewent the first part of the fight completely and jumped straight to, “MURDER THE ASSHOLE NOW!”, which means he only uses the Fume Sword and not the smaller sword. Funny note: It works if you’re only wearing Velstadt’s helm and not the full armor as well, but I can’t tell you if it’s the same if you only wear the gauntlets, chest, or legs.

Anyway, no. I beat Raime with my first tank character, even though it wasn’t easy. I remember blood, sweat, and liberal cursing for that fight, and while I tried him a few times solo this time around (and did decent damage. It’s just the slow, sweeping sword movement that got me every time), I eventually beat him with summons. I think it was the two NPCs, but it might have been with one NPC and one human. Might I say it’s so cool that these games are still being played? Not so cool was being invaded, but, yeah, I know it’s part of the game. A beloved part for many Souls players, so I begrudgingly accept it.

Sir Alonne owned my ass every time we met. I have difficulty with the quick human enemies, and he was no exemption to this. In addition, the area leading up to him is fairly brutal, and there’s a time limit to it as well–an interesting mechanic, and I was burned by it once or twice in the past. This time, I was resigned to spending two or three hours on him because I was going to beat him solo no matter what. I dug in deep and stomped my way to his fog gate with relatively little difficulty. I had to laugh, too, because one of the Let’s Players I watch (Super Best Friends, Woolie on the sticks for DS II, Pat ‘helping’, and I’m talking about Pat) was ranting about how he was grinding for the Blacksteel Katana, which the Alonne Knights in the Iron Keep drop, but rarely. The problem is, the enemies permanently disappear after 15 deaths (I think it’s 15), which means if you don’t get that drop by the fifteenth death, you don’t get it at all. I hated this addition to the formula, as did most Souls players. I understand why it was added, but enemies respawning is one of the mainstays of Soulsborne games.

Anyhoo, Pat was ranting about trying to grind for two of the Blacksteel Katana for hours and while he got one fairly early on, he didn’t get the other. The area was depopulated, so he couldn’t get the second one.  What he apparently didn’t know/figure out was that the Alonne Knights in this area drop the Blacksteel Katana as well. In my first run, I got two from the knights themselves, and there’s one in the bottom area–which apparently Pat didn’t explore/didn’t remember. I cracked myself up over the idea of tweeting him to taunt him about my incredible luck, but I kept that to myself.

I took a deep breath and walked through the fog gate. I was pretty sure casting against Sir Alonne wasn’t the way to go, so I had the weapon buffs magicks, but no pyromancies. Also, this area is made of lava, so I knew my pyro techniques wouldn’t work very well. We started battling, and I was astonished that it wasn’t nearly as hard as I remembered. He wasn’t doing as much damage (probably a better load out, more suited to his agility), and I was dodging him better than I ever had. I think it’s probably because of my time with Bloodborne that my dodging has gotten better over all, and halfway through the fight, I allowed myself to think I had a chance. He didn’t do his charge-up attack for whatever reason, and I actually killed him on my first try! I couldn’t believe it, and I allowed myself to feel proud for a full minute as I looked around the room.

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Getting out of my own damn way

I’m my own worst enemy, and I know it. I can think about a hundred things I want to do or should do, but when I actually get down to the nitty-gritty, I start throwing roadblocks in my own way. I immediately think about a million of things that will go wrong, and then, more often than not, I end up doing–nothing. One big decision I made in my life was going to SF for grad school in writing. Writing & Consciousness, to be more specific. Yeah, it’s SF. Whaddya going to do?

Immediately, I was inundated with doubts. I poured them all out to my therapist, one after the other. After listening to me for twenty minutes or so, she stopped me and said, “Minna. Half of the things you imagine will never happen, and things will happen that you can’t even dream of right now.” I know it sounds cliched, but it really hit me hard. I didn’t have much control in my early life, so now, I worry obsessively as a way of trying to feel as if I’m in control. Her timely reminder that I can’t control what happens was what I needed, and it emboldened me to go forward with the move. The results were mixed, but I at least fucking did it.

You’d think I’d learn something from it, like, yeah, do something, anything, and just keep it moving. I’ve said it before, but one thing I really admire about my brother is that he’ll get an idea and just do it. If it doesn’t work, he’ll move on to the next thing. Now, obviously, there are downsides to that (like wasting time on unfinished projects), but it also means he can shrug it off when something fails or when he goes to the next project. Plus, he actually finishes a lot more things than I do. He once told me he had no regrets in his life, which blew me away. I regret everything in my life–everything! Even the good things, I can find a reason for regret.

You know what? I should take a positive example in my life–taiji. I had taken it before, and it was a terrible experience. Once I was recovered from it, I decided that I wasn’t going to throw out the baby with the bathwater. I liked taiji itself, and I wanted to take classes again. Of course, my brain was telling me a million reasons why it was a bad idea, but I managed to push through it and started researching nearby studios. I had a few things I were looking for–one was Asian-led. I let that one go pretty quickly, though, because I live in Minnesota. the second one was that the teacher was a woman. That one was a bit more fruitful, and I was encouraged. The third was no payment schemes. What I mean is, there are some martial arts schools that are more interested in getting paid than in teaching. A common way is to have paid belts. (There are no belts in taiji, or shouldn’t be.) There was one studio that insisted on a uniform and that you had to buy everything through them. NOPE.

I came across my teacher after hours of searching, and I have to say, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I’ve learned so much from taiji, and it keeps giving to me (even if I’m currently frustrated with it because of all the changes). It’s hard for me not to think of all the ways I’ve failed, though. All the bad decisions I’ve made, many of them in my personal life, are scarred deeply in my soul. Sometimes, I can’t help thinking about them and picking over what I’ve done wrong. Or, I Google my exes just to torture myself. (Not all of them, just the ones I regret where things went wrong.)

I tend to let things happen to me rather than actually be proactive about things. There are things I want to do, but I have a real fear of actually doing them. All these doubts besiege me, and I end up paralyzed emotionally. Let me give you a current example. I blog (duh), but I know that podcasts and vlogging are the ways of the future. Or, having a strong social media presence and piggybacking off that. Or streaming if you’re into video games, which I am. I *know* all this, but am I doing any of it? No. Why not? I’ll tell you why, one by one.

Podcasts and vlogging: I hate the way I sound and look. Now, I know the former is pretty common because we can’t hear our voices as they sound to others. I’ve accepted that I have a voice that others find soothing and pleasant, so I can deal with it. Barely. As for the latter, I hate the way I look. A lot. For several reasons. As I’ve noted before, I don’t look in the mirror unless I actually have to, and every time I do, I cringe. I don’t know if I can get past that barrier, either for vlogging or for streaming, but I know that people respond better to face cam than when there isn’t one (for streaming), especially with women, but that brings up another issue with women and streaming–the rampant sexism that women have to face online. On the one hand, there’s the death threats, the rape threats, the ‘you don’t belong here, bitch’ threats, and such. On the other hand, there’s the stalkers, the obsessed fans, and the “I want to get in your panties” assholes. For whatever reason*, misogyny just spirals out of control online.


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My love/hate relationship with Dead Cells and other ‘hard’ games: Part one

come. at. me. bro.
Cursed, but it was worth it for the ice bow!

I think I’m reaching the end of Dead Cells. Not because I hate it. Not because it’s a terrible game. But because I’m hitting the wall, and while I’ve hit walls before, this feels like the wall I cannot overcome without putting in way more hours into the game. Let me explain. I think most people are familiar with the concept of hitting the wall in which you just can’t get around an obstacle in front of you (be it physical or mental). In a video game, it’s usually a boss that you simply can’t beat. In a ‘hard’ game, it can be other things, such as level design, difficult enemies, or just simply dying over and over again for a variety of reasons.

Let’s take Dark Souls for example. And, yes, it’s my go-to when I want to talk about difficult games. It’s notorious for its difficult bosses, and I’m betting that the Bell Gargoyles were the first real gut check for most Souls players. Well, OK. Asylum Demon first. Then the Taurus Demon. But definitely the Bell Gargoyles! Hm. What was my point? Oh, yeah, this! The thing, though, is that many people didn’t even make it to the Bell Gargoyles for a variety of reasons. One of the things about the game is that after you beat the Asylum Demon (if you do), you’re taken to the Firelink Shrine. There are three paths you can take from there, and two of them are ridiculously hard. Now, some Souls fans will tell gush about how brilliant it is because the two paths are so hard, it points you in the right direction. Hard disagree from me. What’s the one thing you hear about Souls if you’re a gamer, even if you have no interest in it? That it’s fucking hard. FUCKING HARD. You just tried to beat a demon to death with your goddamn fists because you didn’t know you were supposed to run from him (so you can get your weapon and fight him properly later, and he’s still no joke in your first playthrough), so being attacked by ghosts you can’t kill* or skellies who can one-shot you doesn’t seem that outre.  Your idea of hard has already been busted, so especially without context (the third path being hard, but not insanely so), it’s easy to think you’re supposed to run through the area with the ghosts or the skellies and just deal with it.

The reason I’m saying this is that there are tons of legit reasons for people quitting Souls. I love the games, and I’ll recommend them ad nauseam, but I also realize they’re not for everyone. I had a friend who reached Firelink Shrine and saw a message in front of the Crestfallen Warrior to attack him, so she did. Which is a BAD idea. If you aggro an NPC in Dark Souls, they will be permanently aggro’ed unless you pay an exorbitant amount of money to get your sins absolved. I know this because I accidentally hit Andre while trying to talk to him (first time I used a controller, and the controls for Souls games are, at best, whimsical), and I had to pay something like fifteen-thousand souls to make him forget (it’s based on your level. 500 souls per level, so the higher level you are, the more you have to pay). I seriously considered starting the game again because Andre is essential, and that much money (souls) seemed exorbitant at the time. Anyway, my friend couldn’t use Firelink Shrine, which is your hub bonfire, because the Crestfallen Warrior was aggro’ed, and that made her quit. I completely understand that, and I do not blame her in the least.  Continue Reading

Dead Cells has its icy claws in me

a breath of respite!
Are we in Anor Londo?

About a year ago, I heard tell of an exciting Souls-like* game in Early Access called Dead Cells.  I watched a few Let’s Plays and Let’s Look Ats, and I was immediately intrigued. However, I am chary of Early Access, and I decided to wait.  Recently, it was on sale, and I was between games, so I snapped it up. I installed it, started it up, and I was hooked. The controls are intuitive (although, funny story. I went back to Dark Souls III to try a pure pyro strategy, well, close to a pure pyro, and I’ve been accidentally hitting NPCs because interact in RB in Dead Cells and A in Dark Souls III (on my Xbox One controller). Fortunately, you can hit NPCs once and not aggro them, but it’s pretty disconcerting), and soon, I was rolling, jabbing, and collecting my souls, er, cells, with the best of them.

So, speaking of souls, let’s talk about it being a Souls-like game. I’ve heard that quite a bit about Dead Cells, and I didn’t really see it when I first started playing. The more I played, though, I got the comparison. It’s funny to hear Lets Players talk about souls and Estus Flasks, and I agree it’s better to be deliberate in combat rather than just mashing buttons (though I panic-mash more often than I care to admit). However, I don’t think it’s so much that this game is Souls-like than it is that both are Metroidvanias. Sprawling levels to explore with locked off areas. Getting runes to acquire abilities to unlock said locked-off areas. In this case, permadeath, but with upgrades that you keep between runs.

When I start, I’m just a ball of goo that rolls across the floor until I reach an empty body. I inhabit the body, and then I’m ready to go. I start with a Rusty Sword, and I start wrecking fools. Or rather, they wreck me in the Prisoners’ Cells. There are random pickups on the ground, such as melee weapon (all kinds of swords), ranged weapons (bows, whips, etc.), shields, and skills (traps, grenades, meat grinder, etc.). There are also upgrades and gold balls you hit to break and scatter. There are secrets in the wall that are marked with a faint rune, and you hit them to open them. They usually contain some kind of gem (gold) or food (kebabs and chicken so far), which is a nice pick-me-up.

You can speed run through the area to try to make it to the timed door in the next area, but the time limit is really strict. To make the first timed door, you have to get there in under two minutes. I’ve done it a few times, but that means skipping most of the first area and not getting the upgrades. Behind the timed door is *spoilers* good loot such as one upgrade (strength, tactical, or skill, and each includes a health upgrade), several gems/gold/coins, a bunch of cells–oh! forgot to say that the cells are used for the permanent upgrades at the end of each level–and sometimes a blueprint for a new weapon/shield/skill. I don’t think it’s worth it, though, because you have to take the blueprint and cells to the end of the level in order to cash in on them, and I feel severely under-leveled if I don’t clear out the first area before proceeding. I’ve never made it to the other timed doors, and I don’t really care.

Let’s talk upgrading. After each level, you can talk to the Collector who’ll use your cells to make whatever you want (and if you have blueprints for it). When you first start the game, you don’t have any ability to heal. You can buy the Estus Flask from the collector for fairly cheap, and you get one gulp. Each upgrade is successively more expensive, and I’m up to three swigs. You have to spend all your souls–cells!–before moving onto the mutation guy, though I just found out that you can break that door down to save your cells. There’s a reason for doing this, which I’ll get to in a minute.

The adorable mutation guy lets you choose one mutation after each level. This can be as simple as more health, or as specific as an X amount of increase in damage for Y amount of seconds after killing an enemy. You can unlock more of these by spending your cells with the Collector. My favorite is Ygdar Orus Li Ox, which brings you back from death once, but you can only pick it up after the first level.  I guess it’s so you won’t choose it right before a boss fight, but so what if you do? It’s irritating that I have to carry it all the way through all the levels if I want it to actually help me during a boss fight.

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The Politics of Art

So, I love to write. A lot. Prolifically. Garrulous. It’s the equivalent to a chatterbox who cannot keep her mouth shut. I can’t keep my fingers from banging away at my keyboard, and I have many broken keyboards to prove it. In fact, this one (on my laptop) is on its last legs, and I should replace it pretty soon. The problem is, people are reading less and less. Rather, they’re reading less of actual longform pieces and novels. I’m old woman shaking my fist at the clouds, but I also acknowledge that it’s probably not going backwards any time soon.

What’s the new big thing? Videos. Streaming. It’s all the rage with the kids these days, an it’s something I’ve thought about doing myself. The problem is, first of all, I hate the way I look on camera. Now, of course, I could stream a game without face-cam, but from what I’ve seen, you get more views with the face-cam on, especially as a woman. Which, therein, is my second issue. The world of video games is still a man’s world with a very bro-y culture. I don’t watch streams on Twitch (except Ian’s! twitch.tv/eenbou) because the chats are fucking toxic. I don’t use that word lightly, but it’s sadly true. Anything over ten viewers, and it’s ‘fuckbois’, ‘faggot’, and ‘i’d fuck that ass’ all the damn time. There’s a streamer I did watch occasionally when he wasn’t too big yet, and I already felt not included by dint of being a woman in my forties. I watched a vod of a recent stream, and he’d changed from being low-key and lovable to low-key and ‘fuckbois’, and it really disappointed me. I’m not naming  him because it’s not him–it’s the ethos of chat. I’m stil working on my Theory of Dudes in which the more dudes you have in one place, the grosser the culture becomes.

Anyway, I watched a podcast with four female streamers, and they were emphatic about not being just boob jigglers, but one of them is known for that, and another is known for being bro-y in her chat. They were all young and conventionally pretty, which is another double standard for women who stream. Dudes can be any age, shape, size, or look, but the women have to be young, not fat, and hot. In addition, most of the female streamers are even bro-y-er than their male counterparts as a way to overcompensate. It’s the same with streamers girlfriends/wives. They put down women, make sexual innuendos, and are pretty jerky. They also feed into the stereotypes of the nagging wife, which is annoying as hell as well.


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His Name is Nioh and He Advances in Japan: Part Two

let's be samurai homies!
Lady Ginchiyo is a bad-ass!

I’ve been playing more Nioh, and I have plenty more to say about it. You can read my initial impressions here. I’m roughly half-way through the game, and the bloom has come somewhat off the rose. To briefly recap, Nioh is a game that has been called a mix between Dark Souls, Ninja Gaiden, and Diablo. You can probably guess that I’m here for the Souls part, and I enjoyed Diablo III as well. This should hit my sweet spot nicely, and it does. Kind of. I’ll get to that in a bit.  Oh, also, there will be mild spoilers, but nothing huge. Just FYI. When we last left off, I was describing the Estus system. Er, Elixirs. You start off with a certain amount, three is the base, and for every five Kodama you find in a region, you get one more base Elixir that will replenish every time you visit your Shrine. I know I said in my Bloodborne posts that a combination of a set number of Blood Vials that replenish at each Lamp in addition to the ones you pick up as you romp through Yharnam would be ideal, and that’s pretty much what we have here. However, as much as I liked it in theory, it doesn’t quite work in execution if you’re as mediocre at the game as I am. Right now, I’m roughly ten levels above what is recommended for the missions, and it’s the minimum I need to feel comfortable. You can store up to 9999 Elixirs, but I haven’t been able to even reach a hundred extra. One thing in BB that I appreciated was that I could buy Blood Vials. Yes, they were expensive as hell by the end of the game, but I wasn’t spending my Souls, er, Blood Echoes, on anything else, so why not? You cannot buy Elixirs in this game (as far as I know), but you can make offerings to the shrine of equipment/items/weapons you don’t want, and you receive Souls, Amrita, in return. In addition, you may be blessed with a gift, often an Elixir.

By the way, I had a terrible thing happen once while I was making my offerings. I do it regularly, especially when I need a few thousand Amrita for my next level. Once, right before a boss, I was making my offerings as quickly as I could. I’ve gotten into a routine of clicking as fast as possible, clearing up as much of my inventory as I can. I like to keep my load to under half of what I’m allowed to carry 500 items, so under 250). One niggling irritation is that if you’re offered a gift, and you can’t carry any more of that item, it gets sent to your storage. That’s not the annoying part. The annoying part is that when you get a gift, you have to click on it. That’s bad enough, but if it’s being sent to storage, a message saying you can’t carry any more and do you want it sent to your storage will pop up, and you have to click on confirm. That’s two more clicks than should be necessary to accept a gift (it should just be automatic), and it’s especially annoying to have to confirm you want it sent to storage. Yes, it’s a small thing, but if I’m doing the process twenty to thirty times, it adds up. Anyway, you use the trigger buttons to go from one category to the next. Weapons, helmets, torso armor, etc. Apparently, I was holding it down plus hitting another button at the same time, so I ‘made an offering’ of all my weapons that weren’t equipped. Because I was doing it as quickly as I could, I said yes before I had realized what I’d done. I can’t tell you how upsetting that was. Not because I use the other weapons, but because some of them are given as rewards for missions. I actually had already done another sub-mission twice because I accidentally offered up the spear that I received as a reward. Now, I had four or five weapons that I could only get from redoing earlier missions. I didn’t really care otherwise because weapons drop like crazy, but I was still mad that this was a thing.

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His Name is Nioh and He Advances in Japan*: Part One

Many moons ago, I heard tell of this game called Nioh. It was described as a samurai Dark Souls, and I was intrigued, but cautious. Souls-like has become its own genre, and most of the entrees are, quite frankly, trash. The ones that aren’t only make me long to be playing Dark Souls.  It’s difficult to strike a balance between being Souls enough to satisfy that itch while being different enough to not be a clone. Any-hoo, it didn’t matter because Nioh was a PS4 exclusive, and I didn’t have a PS4 at that time. I kept hearing about it, though, especially after it was released. It was widely praised, being called the child of Onimusha and Dark Souls, a cross between Dark Souls and Ninja Gaiden (which makes sense since the team that did Ninja Gaiden, Team Ninja,  developed Nioh) with the loot drop of Diablo, and confirmed it was samurai Dark Souls. Most of the people who loved Souls adored Nioh as well, especially with the tweaks that recalibrated enemy toughness (too tough in the demo). When I bought my PS4, I thought about buying Nioh, but I’m cheap. I am simply not willing to spend $60 on a game, even though I would get plenty of bang for my bucks. I’ve poured hundreds of hours into all the Soulsborne games (if not thousands), so paying sixty bucks each would be reasonable. Side note: I am against pre-ordering, but FromSoft is one of my few exceptions, especially with Miyazaki at the helm. I am willing to buy anything he makes. JUST MAKE A NEW GAME ALREADY, MIYAZAKI!!

As I was romping my way through Bloodborne, the announcement that Nioh was coming to PC dropped, and I lost my shit. As much as I love BB (which is a great deal),  I do not love playing it on the PS4. I don’t hate it, but I’m a PC grrl at heart, and I firmly believe all games should be on the PC. In addition, if it’s on the PC, there’s a chance that it’ll go on sale sometime in the foreseeable future. This is simply not true on consoles. I bought BB two years after it was released, and I still had to pay $35 for the GOTY edition or whatever it was (it included the DLC). In contrast, I bought Dark Souls: Prepare to Die edition (which also included the DLC) for under $10 a year or two after it was released on PC. With Nioh on the PC, I could reasonably expect it to go on sale in a year or two at which point I would snatch it up.

The astute among you will have observed that it’s not years since the game has been released on PC; in fact, it’s only been a few weeks. By the way, it was $50 with DLC on PC, so it’s already cheaper than it would be on the PS4. Ian bought it on release, and he was loving it. He streamed the first part, which I watched because I’ve seen up to boss two (three if you include the tutorial boss, which I don’t. More on him later), and it ticked all the boxes for me. I was looking forward to playing it one day, but I was going to wait until it was under twenty bucks. I don’t mind playing a game several years after it’s released, and I have hundreds of games in my pile of shame just mocking me for not touching them. However, after I beat BB and was wondering what my next game would be, Ian and I were talking about Nioh. Late into the night, he gifted it to me, and I was properly stoked to be Samurai Geralt. This is another running joke with the game–the protagonist, William Adams, who is based on a real person, looks exactly like Geralt of Rivia from the Witcher series. William is Irish and a pirate, but he might as well be Polish and a witcher; he looks that much like Geralt, minus the scars. I’m down with that as Geralt is one of my video game boos.


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