Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: dark souls iii

Always the watcher, never the watched, er….

I am always on the outside looking in. Even when I’m participating in a conversation, I feel outside of it–with very few rare exceptions. I’m gauging the other person(s) and calibrating my own responses. That’s not terrible in general, but taken to the extreme, it can be debilitating.

I’m a weirdo and a freak. I’ve discussed this with my taiji teacher because she is, too. The plus side to being an outsider is that it’s much easier to do things that others might consider odd because I’ve been doing that all my life. It’s always amusing to me when people get hung up on a certain band, TV show, movie, or whatever, insisting that you must like it as much as they do. Try saying you don’t like the Beatles on Twitter and see what happens. Or Breaking Bad. Or Titanic. The pushback is strong, and there are people who literally cannot fathom someone not liking __________. Well, not the last. There are plenty of people who agree with me that Titanic is shite*.

It’s the funniest when people tell me that my taste is horrible, especially in music, because I’ll cheerfully agree. It flummoxes them, and that’s when I know their intent is to put me down rather than have an actual conversation. I like to say I have no guilty pleasures, only pleasures because I don’t feel guilty about what I like (99% of the time). It’s weird because I feel guilty about almost everything else in my life, but not the pop culture I consume or not.

The downside, however, is that I just assume no one will want to hear about what I’m interested in unless there are plenty of indicators to the otherwise. When I think about dating, for example, I have a difficult time envisioning someone who will have the patience to put up with my oddities. Taiwanese American, bisexual, fat, agnostic, child-free (and do. not. want. children or steps), not interested in most mainstream popular stuff, and just plain weird. Add in video games as an old person and taiji, and the fact that I don’t want a traditional relationship, and, yeah. Prospects are dim.

The problem is that I’m so inclined to discount that anything I have to say is of any interest to anyone because I’m used to being ignored and invisible.

Side note: It’s fucking 2019. There is no excuse not to have more PoC and queer folks (and other minorities) in popular media. If I see a trailer for a show that is all white people, I immediately tune out. There was a stretch where all the trailers for new TV shows fell into the category I called, “White guys doing white guys things”. I have no interest in that bullshit, and I never gave any of them more than a second of attention.

The centering around white straight dudes in media has definitely affected how I see myself in general. Add to that a hobby (video games) that is all about white straight dudes, and my negative self-esteem is reinforced on a daily basis. I’ve mentioned before how I can get into some aspects of gaming, but I never feel truly accepted. It’s as if I’m tolerated as long as I don’t make a fuss or stand out in any negative (in their eyes) way. It’s gender, but it’s also age and race. I’m too old to be a gamer, and it stops me from fully participating in the community in general. It’s not hard to see that 95% of the visible gaming journalists/YouTubers/Twitchers fall into this category. Maybe it’s not quite that high, but it certainly seems like it. I’ve searched out women, but they are few and far between.

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Praising that good sun as a SunBro, er, SunSis summon

big hat loganning it--as a pyro.
Love me, love my ridiculously big hat!

I’m still having sinus issues, which means gaming-wise, I don’t want to tackle anything new. I want the video game equivalent of mashed potatoes, which for me is Dark Souls. I know it sounds strange because Souls games are notorious for being difficult, though you’ll get some strenuous argument about that in the community. Fans who have been playing forever have forgotten how hard the first time through was and now insist that the games are challenging and not hard. Nope. They’re fucking hard. Yeah, I get the argument that it’s more a shift in your way of approaching games than an actual difficulty, but as someone who jumped into the game after only playing a handful of ‘hardcore’ games, I didn’t have any preconceived notions of how the gameplay should be.

In addition, I had never used a controller before, and now I live for Dark Souls control mappings. It wasn’t until much later when I learned that they were considered terrible and awkward. They’re now embedded in my soul, and B is forever the roll button. It’s funny because when I was switching back and forth between Dark Souls (II and then III) and Monster Hunter: World, I would be flailing with the buttons whichever way I switched. However, when I went from MHW to DS, I quickly adapted whereas it was much rougher the other way around. Dark Souls control mapping (and, the Xbox One controller is DA BOMB!!) is what is the most comfortable for me, and it probably will be as I continue to play the games.

Yesterday, I beat the first DLC with the help of some awesome human summons for both the bosses, and it warms my heart that so many people are still playing. I also got two human phantoms for the Nameless King, and one stayed with me until the end. She was great, and I think she was the one wearing the same ridiculously big hat that I was (my favorite hat by a rather large margin in the whole game. You can buy it relatively early, but I always wait until the end of the game when 10,000 souls is trivial. It’s called the Sage’s Big Hat, and it’s an homage to Big Hat Logan, a character from the original Dark Souls), and it always makes me happy to see someone else wearing it. It has a plague mask as well, and it’s amazing. It’s not my favorite set because there is no set (Black Witch Set HYPE), but I will wear the Sage’s Big Hat until the end of dawn, no matter the stats, whih I’m assuming are not great for physical, but decent for elements. I’ve never looked at the stats because I was going to wear it, regardless, and I’m happy that I’ve reached the point where I can go for Fashion Souls rather than utility. The rest of the set is the Fallen Knight set, which looks like rags but in a cool way.

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A (chat)room of my own…and Dark Souls III

I’m too old for video games. Or, to be more precise, I’m too old for video game ‘culture’. To be even less precise, I’m too old for pop culture in general. I support two groups on Patreon, The Try Guys and RKG Studies (nee Prepare To Try)*, and I am in the Discord chat for both these groups. For the latter, I’m in the upper-echelon tier, the producers, which has a chat of its own. The boys dip in from time to time, which is pretty cool.

The problem is, I’m too old for either of these groups. It’s funny in that The Try Guys fan base seems to be predominantly young women in their early twenties, whereas the target demo for RKG is twenty-something dudes. I’m old enough to be their mother, and I often feel as if I’m the older and world-weary woman who has seen it all and done it all when I’m in either of the chats/reading the comments on the posts/videos.

Concerning RKG specifically, I’m fine when I’m commenting on games or supporting other people through their difficulties (I’m a healer, through and through), but any time it veers away from that, I feel alienated. I’m just too fucking old to jump into the banter, and, if I’m to be honest, much of it is uninteresting to me.

That’s one of my issues with the gaming community in general–it’s very lad-focused (and I use the word lad deliberately) with many of them not really knowing how to interact in a social way that isn’t, “me, me, me!”. I noticed this when I was in the chatroom once for a YouTuber I used to watch. They were all nice lads, but I had nothing in common with them. Plus, there’s a casual sexism that runs through most chatrooms (not to mention the more outright malicious sexism that is present in many) that turns me off to them. It’s very much a boys club in that you have to adjust to the atmosphere if you want to be tolerated.

The thing is, I’m not sure there’s a way to change that or if it should be changed. I mean, the casual sexism, yes, that should be changed. But, if it’s mostly guys who are drawn to the chatroom, then is it really upon them to actively recruit women? I have a hard time saying it is, but at the same time, there are ways to make it more inclusive. In the end, I don’t know where I stand on it, but I just know that I will mostly remain where I normally do–on the outside.


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And then there was one (boss left in Dark Souls III…plus more Remastered)

what a satisfying kill.
My biggest challenge of this playthrough–Manus.

I am going to talk more about Dark Souls III and Dark Souls Remastered, so grab your favorite beverage and settle in. Last we visited the world of Lordran, I was entering the DLC, Artorias of the Abyss, with great trepidation. You can read about it here. My first time playing this DLC, I was well-aware of how difficult and brutal it was. It’s legend, in fact, for being off-the-charts hard. People raved about how amazing it was–and how it wrecked their asses. Since I played it well after it was released, I couldn’t summon for bosses even if I wanted to–and oh, how I wanted to. Sanctuary Guardian was easy-peasy, and then I hit a major wall with Artorias. Manus wasn’t that bad, but Kalameet nearly broke me. Since then, I’ve played the DLC a few times more. SG is no biggie, Artorias has become cake, Manus was fine (because I actually could summon for him), and Kalameet continued to haunt me. I finally skipped him on NG+ with my pyro because I just couldn’t be stuffed and I couldn’t summon. All of this was in my mind when I tackled the DLC this time around.

I faced the SG with no fear in my heart. It got me the first time because I was a bit reckless (pro tip: NEVER get greedy), but I made short work of it the second time around. Another pro tip along with a *spoiler* I guess, if you can spoil a game that is seven years old. Acquiring the Rite of Kindling from slewing Pinwheel, you can kindle bonfires to give you 20 sips from your Estus Flasks. 20! To give you context, you start with 5 at most bonfires, and you can kindle to increase by five per each kindle. You have to use humanity to kindle, but there is an endless supply of humanity in the game. So, you could kindle every bonfire to 20 if you so chose. that’s basically what I did the first time I played, but this time, I only kindled Firelink Shrine (which already started with 10 because there’s a Fire Keeper* there) to 20. Then, I would warp to it, rest, and then go back to the bonfire I had been at. In this game, you can only warp to certain bonfires, but fortunately, most of the bonfires before a boss were warpable. And, in the remaster, they added a bonfire in the Catacombs right by Vamos (which pissed off the purists, but which was a good addition in my mind), so having only Firelink Shrine kindled to the max is a completely viable option.

Going through the DLC with ridiculous Endurance, a maxed-out Zwei**, and five attunement slots made pretty short work of the DLC. Of course, it helped that I’d done it several times before as well because there was nothing that took me by surprise. Well, except for the first dog on the way to Kalameet. I forgot about those fuckers. Why are dogs in Soulsborne games such fucking assholes? Stepping up to Artorias’s fog gate, I felt a frisson of tension because he owned my ass the first time we met. The last time I met him, I did him in one, but who knew how it would go this time? It went smashingly well, dear reader. I got him in one, and I merrily went on my way. Next up was Manus, and I wasn’t feeling too worried about him. Boy, I should have because he got the best of me over and over again. I really didn’t want to fight him several more times, so I decided to try the cheese of shooting him from outside the boss arena, but I was an idiot and used the wrong ring (hornet instead of hawk, which I didn’t even have), so it didn’t work. I womanned up and fought him mano-a-womano. The time I finally beat him, my use of the silver pendant was true, and he didn’t do that asshole six-move combo very many times. I think it took me maybe a dozen times to kill him, and he was by far my hardest nemesis in my playthrough. BY FAR. I will admit, I thought about summoning for more than a second, but my goddamn stubborn pride wouldn’t let me do. I hadn’t summoned for anyone up to this point during this playthrough, and I’d be damned if I did it for Manus.

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Obsessed with Dark Souls (Remastered and III)

no way i'll have to kill him later.
My pyro pal, Laurentius of the Great Swamp!

Hi, my name is Minna, and I’m addicted to Dark Souls games.

Hi, Minna!

I’ve been addicted to Souls game for….three years now? Maybe four? But I can stop at any time. I can!

Let it all out, Minna. We’ve all been there.

Currently, I’m mostly playing Dark Souls Remastered because it just came out, and it’s been so much fun to return to my Dark Souls roots. I will say, if you have the Prepare to Die  edition on PC (which includes the Artorias of the Abyss DLC) and are running it with dsfix, which, of course you would because there is no way to play it otherwise with the stuttering and other problems, there’s not really a reason to get the remaster. I am not a huge graphics person and from what I read from those who had a pre-release (read, reviewers and maybe certain YouTubers), there wasn’t much that popped in the remaster. I will say the sparklies added are really nice, though. Like, when you die, the white dust is brighter. When you get souls, it’s crisper. The white fogs are also more lively. I dig the enhancements and the extra noises.

What I don’t dig is something that isn’t in control of Namco Bandai Namco (the publishers. Bandai Namco more precisely, but they used to be Namco Bandai)–the hackers. They released the Steam edition early, and within hours, some asshole hacked in and was streaming himself invading players in the Undead Burg, dropping loot for them that got them soft-banned. In my first playthrough, I went human to summon for the Bell Gargoyles and Capra Demon just for fun, but then regretted it because it was so trivially easy. Of course I got invaded because tons of people were playing, and I contemplated starting over because I felt bad about cheesing the gargs and Capra (yes, I’m that person now), but I continued merrily on. I went to see Andre to upgrade my weapons and, what? He was dead?!? How the hell???

I quickly Googled it and on Steam, there was a user warning that this happened in his game after he was invaded. Yup, you got it–another hacker. I was livid. My hands were shaking. Andre is a very important blacksmith in the game and losing him that early was devastating. It reminded me when I played the first time and aggro’ed him by accidentally swinging at him instead of talking to him. Any time I returned, he would immediately try to kill me, and I Googled what to do. Most people advised starting over, but no way in hell I was going to do that. I finally got enough souls to absolve my sins so he wasn’t mad at me any longer, but I learned my lesson.

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A little bit of this, and a whole lotta that

hello, beautiful!
Oh, what’s this? I’ve Forgotten.

I’ve been at loose ends in the world of video games, so I’ve mostly been comfort gaming. Well, kinda. I discovered that there was a booster pack for Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ which included a new character.

*Spoilers*

It’s name is The Forgotten, and of course, users data-mined it so they figured out how you unlock the character. Edmund McMillen, the developer, tweeted out his disappointment as he did the last time this happened, saying just enjoy the game and follow the hints. My dude. Be realistic. I understand from his point of view how unhappy it would make you if you spent hundreds of hours planning the unlock, only to have people cheat their way to it, but from a user standpoint, it’s completely understandable. Most people at the point of unlocking new characters have put countless hours into the game. Doing repeated runs simply to glean clues as to how to unlock a character isn’t fun, especially when the clues are so esoteric and random. Wanna know how you unlock The Lost? Grab a mug of tea and a comfy chair, and I’ll tell you how.

First, you have to take the Mysterious Paper into the Sacrifice Room  and die with it as a trinket four times. It’ll fill in each corner with a picture of a death, and then you have to do those deaths in order without dying in between. First, you die as Isaac to a Mulliboom on one of the first two floors (Basement/Cellar). Then, die as Maggie to your own bomb in the Caves/Catacombs. Then, die as Judas to Mom’s foot or hand. Lastly, die as Azazel to Satan, but only to him himself, which is the second phase. There’s another way to unlock it, but that’s more random.

This actually wasn’t that difficult to do, but no way in hell I would have figured out how to unlock The Lost. Now, here’s how you unlock The Forgotten. Beat the first boss in under a minute. Bomb the spawn room on the first floor. Pick up the item dropped (Broken Shovel) and carry it with you through the rest of the game. What does the Broken Shovel do? It allows Mom’s foot (or two) to randomly stomp around your character for. the. entire. game. Well, OK, not the entire game, but we’ll get to that in a second.

Can I tell you how much I fucking hate Mom’s foot? There’s a trinket that has this effect randomly, and I never pick it up. Having to deal with it the whole time I’m trying to, you know, win the game, is off-the-charts terrible. This is by far the worst unlock and one of the worst things in the game (trying to finish The Keeper’s post-it note is arguably worse. The Lost is fine since I now start with the Holy Mantle with this character), and I seriously thought I might not be able to do it*.

So, of course, I had to play as Azazel because he flies, he starts with mini-Brim, and he has more damage and speed from the start. In other words, why wouldn’t you start with Azazel? I have to say, I tried to unlock the character organically a few times, but no way in hell I would have figured it out, and after watching NL unlock The Forgotten, I’m glad I didn’t waste more time trying to do it myself. Beating the first boss under a minute is not something I ever would have thought of. Oh, also, if you beat the first boss in under a minute, you hear Mom laugh and then scuttle away. That’s your first hint.

Anyway, Broken Shovel’s active is you get a reprieve from the feet for the room. It has a four-room charge, and I was bumping it every chance I had–especially on the bosses. Oh, also, fighting Mom, the effect doesn’t happen. I suppose it’s because it would be too confusing as that’s the effect of the fight in general, but it would just mean avoiding two to three feet instead of one. So, a sliver of reprieve from the constant agony.

Then, you have to beat boss rush to get the other half of the shovel. You normally have to make it to boss rush in under twenty minutes. For this run, they turned off the time restriction, thankfully. Also, they make it so you have to go to boss rush, and you can only take the Negative because you have to go to the Dark Room. Once you get the second half of the Broken Shovel, it becomes the regular Shovel, but keeps the four-room charge instead of six (I think). The foot thing stops, thankfully, and you have a choice to make. You can either proceed as you normally would, or you can use the shovel to skip the womb levels. You can’t skip Shoal, so you have to do that and the Dark Room, but you only have to do the Dark Room until you find a room with a crumbly square of ground in the middle of it. Then you use the shovel on it and dig up The Forgotten.

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When something I love doesn’t love me back

I recently tried out Dead Cells again because why not? I loved the game and put countless hours into it; I wanted to see if my waning enthusiasm could perk up. Plus, it was going to be released soon (it’s still in Early Access), so I thought maybe there was another update. There was. What have I noticed so far? One, the name of the bosses have changed. There are four that I know of, including the final one, and here are the name changes. Spoilers and all that. The Incomplete One is now The Concierge. The Watcher is now Conjoctivius. The Assassin is The Time Keeper, which makes sense given where she is. The Hand of the King is…wait. I think this one is actually the same. Don’t quite remember as I was too busy trying to not be killed by him. The Time Keeper is still easy as cake for me as long as I have ice weapons/grenades. Conjoctivius still sucks, but I killed her the one time I fought her (though I’m still not quite sure how as I was positive she killed me), and The Hand of the King still fucking sucks.

There’s another adorable gremlin guy who lets you modify your weapons for a set amount of gold. The leveling up the weapons system has changed so that instead of leveling up certain weapons, you level up each tier of weapon that applies across the board. These are good updates, and the fact that you have to spend souls, er, cells in order to attain the tier level upgrades means that cells actually matter again.

There are different room patterns and enemy placements (it’s RNG to a certain extent, but there are certain patterns you can recognize), which was frustrating. I went the vanilla path for a few times just to get my feet under me. When I veered from that, I got killed. I gotta say, one of my frustrations about the alternate paths is that they’re so fucking difficult. I know it’s because you get better shit on the alternate paths, but better shit doesn’t matter when you’re dead. I went to the Ossuary which is an alternate path for the third section, and it wrecked my ass. It feels so RNG-dependent. If I get ice grenades or an ice bow early on, then I can do the alternate path. If I don’t, then I can’t.

I noticed a new secret in the Ramparts that I won’t be able to figure out without looking it up (similar to the one in the Promenade of the Condemned), and instead of exciting me, I just heaved a sigh and shrugged my shoulders. I know I’m not going to figure it out, and more importantly, I don’t want to figure it out. Let me make the first (but not last) comparison to Dark Souls. When I find a secret in Souls, I’m hyped and excited. Even if I can’t figure it out (which I usually can’t), it’s still a thrill. Here, it feels like a burden. “Oh, great. One more thing I have to do. Swell.” I actually felt that way in DS III during the last DLC (and during all of the DLCs for DS II), and it’s become a sign to me of when the joy has been sapped out of a game, and I’ve lost my will to live.

I played half a dozen runs or so of Dead Cells, met The Hand of the King three times, and promptly died to him every time. I got him down to half one time, but that was it. I was doing no damage to him, and while he wasn’t quite as hard as in the previous build, I didn’t feel as if I wanted to take the time to learn him. I *think* I could, but I don’t want to. Again, it’s a mark of my engagement with the game that I don’t want to for reasons I’ve mentioned before. One, it takes an hour just to get to him. Two, his HP pool is ridiculous. Three, the castle is still ridiculous.

I uninstalled it again after a few runs because I just couldn’t be stuffed again. I’ll give it another look after it releases for real, but I have a hunch I won’t be spending too much time with it. It’s like Nuclear Throne in that while I really really want to love the game, it simply won’t allow me to. I’ve hit a hard wall, and I don’t want to struggle to scale it. I’ve talked before about walls so I won’t belabor the point. However, to briefly recap, there are different levels of walls. One is the ‘I just hit this hard thing’ wall. In Dark Souls, it’s the Asylum Demon for those of us who have never played a hardcore game or very few and sucked hard during a first playthrough. The first time you see the guy, you’re like, “Aw, hell no. What the fuck am I going to do against this monstrosity?” Especially as the first time you see him, you don’t have a real weapon. Once you figure him out, though, he’s cake. He’s big and lumbering and slow. He telegraphs his movements so even I can see them a mile away. Then, you can adhere to the age-old DS advice of SMACK DAT ASS, YO! These days, if the Asylum Demon even hits me, I’m embarrassed. Not saying he doesn’t, but it shouldn’t be happening. He did kill me once the first time I met him in NG+, which I still blush to admit. But, normally, he’s no harder than a regular enemy–just a few more hits than others take.


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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 had owned my ass every time we met in the past. 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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Picky media consumer

I am not a picky eater. At least, I wouldn’t be if it weren’t for my sensitivities. There are only a few things I don’t like, and the list includes kiwi, water chestnuts (I LOVE regular chestnuts, though), and coconut. I like coconut curries, but coconut itself? Not so much. Other than that, I’m pretty much a fan more or less of food. When it comes to the media I consume, however, it’s a much different story.

I once flummoxed a professor in my grad program ((Writing & Consciousness) by saying I didn’t like movies. She said that was like saying I don’t like sandwiches or soups–both of which I like, thank you very much. Part of the problem is that at the time, there weren’t many movies that reflected me. Taiwanese American bisexual fat woman? Yeah, good luck finding something with that, mate! In addition, I’m always conscious that I’m watching a movie. When I read a book, I disappear into the pages and am absorbed in the world. With a good book, I completely forget that I exist. With movies, I’m always removed from the action except on very rare occasions. My three favorite movies, Once, The Station Agent, and Japanese Story, are all movies I actually lost myself in, even if it weren’t for the whole time. Another difference is that I can read my favorite books a million times, but I don’t often feel compelled to watch a movie more than once.

I find movies limiting. When I read books, my mind provides the details that the book doesn’t give. With movies, it’s all on the screen, and I find it a much more passive way of ingesting media. I think there’s less room for error, too, because continuity can be a problem. I remember watching a movie (don’t remember the movie now) that was so bad, I noticed that the color of a shirt wasn’t consistent in what was supposed to be the same scene. I’m not that detail-oriented, so the fact that I noticed meant I was not into the movie at all.

Another problem with movies for me is that my brain can’t always differentiate between reality and fabrication, so horrific images in movies stay with me a long time in the way horrific scenes in books don’t. I know that seems counter to what I said earlier, but I never said my brain was consistent. There’s a suicide scene in Girl, Interrupted, that stayed with me for years afterwards. Any time I thought of it, I would feel as if someone had actually died. With books, the whole experience may stay with me, but I’m less likely to remember horrible scenes with such a vivid reaction.


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Nioh V. Dark Souls: An Unfair Comparison

I recently tried out Nioh again after a long period off from it (because I was sick and did not want to sit at my desktop. It refuses to run on my laptop. At all) because I read about a Jutsu (magic spell) that supposedly trivialized bosses. I didn’t have it, but I ‘bought’ it and equipped it. I went through some old sub-missions, and I can’t say it made a noticeable difference. I encountered a ‘boss’ in one of the sub-missions, but she’s not the same as an actual boss, obviously. In fact, she becomes a common enemy in another mission.

I like to do old missions in order to farm and to brush up on my skills. I have to say going from Dark Souls III to Nioh (and back again) is not easy. I am so used to the DS controls (right bumper and trigger for weak attack and strong attack respectively, B for roll/run, A for interaction with items. X is for using the consumable item in the down position on the D-pad, and Y is to two-hand your weapon), that when I play Nioh, it takes a good half hour to adjust to the buttons. X and Y for weak attack and strong attack (like The Witcher 3 and apparently most games), A for dodge/run, B for interaction with items.

Both games have systems that are almost impregnable. I think the members of FromSoft (devs of Soulsborne games) pride themselves on their menus being counterintuitive and byzantine. They change their stats every goddamn game, and there’s always one stat that just doesn’t do jack or shit. One small example of needless obfuscation*–in every game, there is a consumable item (souls in the Souls games and coldblood in Bloodborne) that if you crush, you get a large quantity of souls/blood echoes. The thing is, they all have these weirdass names and refuse to tell you exactly how many souls you’ll get for crushing it. So you might pick up a Soul of an Intrepid Hero, a Large Soul of a Proud Paladin, and a Soul of a Great Champion (all names of consumable souls in DS III), but you probably wouldn’t know they give you 2500, 1000, and 50,000 souls respectively.

They decided that wasn’t opaque enough and went even weirder for Bloodborne with the consumable blood echoes. There are categories such as Coldblood Dew and Thick Coldblood, for example. Then, in most of the categories, they are numbered. Therefore, Coldblood Dew (1)  is 350 blood echoes, and Kin Coldblood (12) is 20,000. I’ve played Soulsborne games countless of times and still cannot tell you how much each consumable soul/coldblood is worth without Googling it.

Nioh is obviously influenced by Dark Souls, and I feel as if they took a look at DS’s menus and saw it as a challenge. “You think that’s obscure, mate? Take a look at this!” I don’t know why I made Team Ninja British when they and FromSoft are Japanese, but so be it.

Another reason it takes so long to reacclimate to Nioh’s control buttons is because there are so many things to do with the buttons.

*taking a deep breath*


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