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16 hours ago - 7:59 AM on 05.22.2015  

Thick as Thieves: Sailing under a Black Flag

BOOOOOTAAAAAYYYYY!!!

 

Has there ever been any sort of thief cooler than a pirate? I don't think so! If you gotta steal, sailing around, blasting down enemy ships and straight up taking all their shit by force is the proper way to do it! Not only are pirates very honest with their intentions, they like to make a show out of it too. No manipulation, no trying to be sneaky. You will know why they're there, and you will fear them. 

This is my first Band of Bloggers entry, and while I could have spent it taking on personal favourites like Wario Land II (which is also theft/pirate themed), I find it a bit more interesting to write about Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, AKA the best Assassin's Creed ever made. I say this as someone who's only really played this one of them, but shut up, I know it's true! There's no beating pirates, they're the best! French Revolution? Italian Renaissance? American Civil War? Not bad in their own right, but comparing them the golden age of piracy is harrrrdly even fair.

But how does Black Flag hold up as a pirate game? Does it shiver me timbers like there's no tomorrow, or is it merely poser trash for landlubbers?

Well, I kinda spoiled that by calling it the best in the series, didn't I? It being a massive disappointment is clearly out of the question here. That said, talking about the game's overall quality is actually pretty difficult, since it feels like three games slammed together due to its large amount of different gameplay content. Unfortunately, only one of these games would be any good, yet fortunately, the good one is so good that it easily outshines the others. In other words, there is so much shit crammed into the game that there's no way the devs could've possibly done all of it very well, and some of the gameplay definitely suffers from it. Stuff like checkers, tailing missions and (sadly) underwater sections are kind of a waste, and the whole modern day framework is especially pointless, taking up a lot of resources that didn't need to be there at all.

But fear not, dear reader, as there is a point to me getting rid of all the negatives early on, and that has to do with me sticking to the theme of theft. What I mean by that is that the actual stealing process in Black Flag is so damn good that it makes everything worth it. The sailing and ship combat represents the "good game" that I mentioned earlier, and thankfully, that's where the focus is. Because of this, I'm making this blog entirely about the positives of the game.

You take control of the Jackdaw, the ship of legendary pirate Edward Kenway, a dude who stole an Assassin uniform despite having no actual interest in the organization's cause. Best protagonist? Best protagonist. A lot of the goodness comes from the way the ship handles. It is exactly as heavy and slow as a large ship should be, without ever becoming too difficult to control. You have four different speeds to work with, and making good use of these is recommended. Turning is easier at slower speeds, for one, which is especially important to remember during situations where your ship is in danger of crashing.

The combat itself is actually kinda similar to those parts in the one good level of Sly 3, except that you don't go into a specific combat "mode", meaning you can take on as many ships at a time as you wish. Well, that and the obvious stuff, like it being way more fleshed out, the tone being more fittingly bloody and "pirate-y" and all that. Blowing your load is done by pressing a single button, while the direction in which you shoot is entirely controlled by camera. It's very simple, but you also get to manually aim your shots in case you're unsure. The Jackdaw has no cannons on its backside, but you get to throw down explosive barrels which can be used to escape pursuing ships. Bracing for impact allows you to take less damage from enemy fire, and upgrading your ship with mortars allows for long distance attacks.

Once you really get your head around all this, plundering enemy ships is like a (wet) dream come true. I'm crazy impressed with how ambitious this game is when it comes to the actual pirate gameplay, and how well it's all executed.

So what happens then is that you start a fight with a ship full of valuable stuff, and depending on how strong your ship is, the battle might be tough and intense, or you might blast their asses into the next century without breaking a salty sweat. In any case, it's not over yet, because you still have to jump aboard and complete a certain amount of objectives which include killing crew, blowing up gunpowder barrels and cutting off the ship's flag. That last one is my favourite, simply because it's like the game's way of saying "don't you dare half-ass this!", which is fitting, as it only happens when you take on bigger ships. Once this is done, you get the chance to do neat stuff such as repairing the Jackdaw or lowering your wanted level, meaning you're less likely to be bothered by pirate hunters (although you can just plunder their ships too, teehee).

Here begins the circle of life, in which you sell your goods in order to afford new ship upgrades, which then makes you able to plunder bigger ships. You can buy other stuff, of course, but upgrading should be your main priority if you want to explore and conquer. That then leads us to what I consider the real objective of the game: Taking over the goddamn map! Oh, there's a linear story and everything, but that's not where it's at. That road is paved with restrictions and clumsily forced stealth. What you want to do is sail around and explore on your own pace, and basically do whatever you want, like a pirate would. Thankfully, the world given to you is huge, and there's plenty of ships to plunder, treasure to hunt and fortresses to battle.

I love the fortress battles. They are very similar to ship battles, except that the fortresses aren't mobile but way more powerful than any ship you'll come across. Aside from having every type of weapon available, they can also take a lot of damage before they go down, and you have to attack them in specific places. As tough as that is, winning these battles are worth it due to the face that it removes forbidden zones and reveals the secrets of the ocean to you. In my opinion, this could have been the whole game. It should have started with a short tutorial, then let you loose to take down every fortress in the map. An entire game built around this objective would have been fantastic, even though what we got is still very satisfying.

As mentioned, treasure hunting is also a thing. I like that little treasure chests are spread around tiny islands across the world, but the fact that the big ones require you to track down actual treasure maps with specific coordinates is just special. It is a special thing made by special people who should have a special place in everyone's heart. Seriously, it's little things like these that make the game feel like a proper pirate adventure, and it's obvious that a lot of people on the development team were really passionate about achieving this.

Another cool detail is storms, except that isn't a detail at all, but instead a huge fucking deal! A storm during a ship battle changes everything! It changes your speed, your height, your visibility, your attack patterns and even your priorities, as you might have to turn your ship around in order to make sure a huge wave doesn't do too much damage. I honestly think this is where the combat shines the brightest, and the fact that storms are seamless makes it even better. As much as people complain that this series lacks polish (which I do agree with), this makes it clear that a lot of very talented and passionate people are working on it.

Assassin's Creed IV is a good reminder that we probably shouldn't always be too critical of a game as a whole, because there will always be a few diamonds covered in dirt. True, this is usually the case for the first installment in a franchise, but I hope that Black Flag can prove to serve a similar role to a potential pirate spin-off series, made with a smaller team on a smaller budget. Ubisoft has allowed for some humble, creative projects in the past, so maybe this has potential to be the start of something similar? I certainly think that all the pirate gameplay is too good to be a one time deal, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog, which is only here to keep you distracted while my crew breaks in and steals all of your rum and sugar.

 


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9:29 AM on 05.06.2015  

Ask me everything!

I have absolutely no clue why this is a popular thing to do right now, but here's another Dtoid AMA for those of you who somehow still have any questions left in you.

I will accept any kind of question, but I might bullshit a few replies if I don't know how to come up with a proper answer.

Topics I like: Food, video games, movies, music, cartoons, traveling and curling.


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10:37 AM on 04.11.2015  

Well I like it...

Opinions are like assholes - mine is the only right one!

 

Sorry, let me start over...

Sometimes, people disagree with each other. Sometimes, these disagreements can be over something as simple as entertainment. Sometimes, this makes people want to write a friendly blog about it, rather than argue. Sometimes, there's a man.

You probably already know what's coming up, but in case you don't, this is what you're in for: A list of games that the general public seems to dislike to varying degrees, all of which I found myself enjoying (also to varying degrees). It's not a list of "underrated" games, because that really is a bit dishonest. People might have very good reasons for not liking these games, even if I don't necessarily understand them. I do not share these reasons, though, and as I enjoyed all the games mentioned, I will do my very best to defend them.

Note that I'm basing this on general public rather than review scores, as I feel that the former is what matters most in the long run. A lot of reviewers are very forgiving, after all, while fans of a franchise are more likely to be extremely critical. Fittingly enough, every single game mentioned here is part of a series, and I have no doubt that this has a lot to do with their relatively poor public reception.

So let's get started. I like:

 

BioShock Infinite

While easily the mildest case here, BioShock Infinite has definitely taken enough of a verbal ass-beating to deserve just a little bit of defense. It might have been praised to the skies (where it also takes place) by critics all over the world, but that doesn't change the fact that there was a period of time where people would constantly post a particularly harsh criticism video in the comment sections of pretty much every article related to it, just to prevent it from getting too much praise.

Having recently played through the original BioShock, I get it. I get that it's a completely different game, that it took away several mechanics, and that it went in a far more action oriented direction than previously. BioShock was almost more about planning ahead and preparing for the combat than it was about the combat itself, while Infinite is all about fast paced shootouts in huge arenas. Furthermore, I get people's disappointment with the story, as Columbia really doesn't even remotely compare to Rapture, and the characters aren't quite as compelling.

But none of that was enough to drastically worsen my opinion of the game. I just had a really good time with it, and nothing will ever change that. If anything, playing BioShock just made me hate Doom 3 even more, as it did something similar yet far more interesting. Infinite, on the other hand, is a completely different thing. It's a fun, crazy, chaotic shooter with a ton of neat and creative ideas, which is only made better by its beautiful art direction.

For everything it took away from its predecessor, it added something cool and new on its own, and I think the result of that is pretty great.

 

Splinter Cell: Blacklist

I've never played Splinter Cell: Conviction, or Double Agent for that matter. Not a fan of how those games altered Sam Fisher's iconic (and fucking sweet) character design, so after starting with the highly praised Chaos Theory, I decided to move on with Blacklist. The differences were notable, but overall I'd say the transition felt pretty smooth and natural.

So why exactly do people act like the two have little to nothing in common? I get that a lot of this comes from Conviction, but a lot of criticisms against Blacklist seem pretty unfair to me. It's a bit streamlined, but the things I liked about Chaos Theory are still there, with gameplay that feels much smoother than that game ever managed. It even adds the ability to buy new weapons and gadgets that you can use in previous missions, which is a huge improvement if you ask me, because it plays to the biggest strenght of stealth games in general: replayability. New gadgets let you play old missions in new ways, and doing so is always very exciting to me. Aside from all this, it's a very polished game, full of excellent character animations and environment design.

Granted, the game does have plenty of rough spots, and it never quite lives up to its true potential, but the potential to do so is still there. At its worst, it's forcing you through scripted action scenes while telling you a really stupid story with a terrible morale, but at its best, it's an incredibly tense stealth experience with plenty of depth to it. Most of its best just happens to be Grim's missions, in which getting caught is a non-option. How that doesn't satisfy stealth purists is beyond me, especially since higher difficulties allow you to turn off the somewhat controversial Mark and Execute feature.

Blacklist is far from perfect, but I think it's still pretty good once you get past the second level. I've returned to it a number of times, and chances are I'll probably do it again in the near future.

 

Tekken 4

Small roster. Unbalanced characters. An underwhelming amount of stages. Awkward jumping.

Looking back, Tekken 4 almost seems like it was designed to be some sort of weird prototype to the far more popular Tekken 5. In many areas, it seriously underdelivered in comparison to previous installments. Yet back in the day, it was still a huge deal. This was the main reason for me getting a PS2, a system with such a huge library that it forever changed the amount of games I'd be satisfied with owning. I used to be fine with about 6-7 games, but my PS2 collection grew like crazy, and all of it started with Tekken 4 (although The Mark of Kri was still the first PS2 game I played). 

To start, it was the first Tekken with walls. To me, that was the coolest thing about it back then. Stages were no longer flat. Now you could actually use walls (and even roofs) to your advantage, and the different environments were no longer just for show. As you can imagine, this changed everything, and I loved it. Some walls were even breakable. There was no better way to K.O. an opponent than using them no destroy a phonebooth or a pillar.

It's also important to mention that this game had the best version of Tekken Force, by far the best piece of single player content the franchise has ever had. Tekken Force was fun in 3 and all, but 4's version is the best. It feels like a very legit beat-em-up, but with a ton of player characters available, and everyone feels so much different to play as in this mode. Tekken Force as Bryan is a completely different experience than Tekken Force as Christie, and that gave it a lot of replayability. Seriously, why isn't this in more recent Tekken games? Imagine how amazing it would have been in Tekken Tag 2.

Oh, and it introduced some pretty great characters like Steve and Marduk (and Christie, but she was an Eddy clone), and finally gave Jin his own unique moveset. It's got a lot of things going for it once you look past the rough spots.

 

Sonic 3D Blast

It's fiiiine!

Honestly, I don't know what everyone's deal is with this game, but for some reason, everyone seems to agree that this is one of the worst Sonic games of all time, even though this franchise has been consistently shitting itself since the late 90's. Is it as good as the ones that came before? No, I wouldn't say so, but is it as bad as some of the stuff that came after? Fuck no, not even remotely!

As long as you play it on something that has an analogue stick, it is perfectly playable. That alone should elevate it far beyond the Adventure games, and pretty much all the proper 3D games, in which the concept of "control" seems like more of an afterthought. With this in mind, there isn't much else I should need to defend. You run around a level, collect all the birds and find the exit. The levels are fun, open and well designed. The art and theming is all pretty well done. The soundtrack is very good too, and I believe there are even two versions of it, depending on the system you play it on. Overall, while not a masterpiece, I think it's a pretty decent game.

Yet, despite this, I've heard it being compared to games like Sonic '06, which is just ridiculous to me. My theory is that some people played it back in the day using a d-pad, had a hard time controlling it, hated it, and then decided to spread the hate until it almost became legendary. It seems unreal that people experiencing it the way I did would hate it so much. I don't even like isometric games all that much, but I still managed to enjoy this one a lot.

I hope people will give this game another chance one day. It is the most hated one on this list by far, even though it probably deserves it the least.

 

SoulCalibur V

Confession time: I only bought this game because of the character creator. It's the only fighting game I know of that has this feature, and after learning about it, I knew I had to try it out. I don't know anything about SoulCalibur. Never once did I actually bother learning that much about the game, and I still have no idea how to pull off those cheap super-moves, and I don't care. Being able to make characters like Dickface, O'Deer and Ma' Suag has been worth everything. It's all I ever wanted from this game, and it delivered masterfully.

Obviously, a long-time fan will have a different perspective, and the actual fans of the series apparently despise this installment. Even the previous one seems to have been divisive, but I have never seen any fan of the series defend this one. I have no idea what it did wrong, but again, I don't care. This isn't about me straight up disagreeing with anyone as much as simply caring about different things. I never expected a great, hardcore fighting game, I expected a game where I could give a character a penis for a head, and that is exactly what I got. The actual fighting in this game will always be secondary to me.

SoulCalibur V probably won't ever sell me on the series, either, as I've never felt compelled to play as any of the regular characters. None of them appeal to me in the slightest, and I like my own fighters much more, even if many of them say the same things. I also don't like the SoulCalibur version of Yoshimitsu. His design is wank, his voice is dumb and he speaks English! What!? At least I managed to fix 2/3 of those problems with my own Yoshimitsu, one that's based on the kick-ass Tekken 3 version, with a voice that's no longer makes him sound like a 12 year old. I was even allowed to just name him 'Yoshimitsu', and that makes it really hard for me to stay mad at the game.

You're alright, SoulCalibur V, at least to a stranger like me.

 

If any of you folks out there have similar relationships with certain games, feel free to put them in the comments, or write another blog, or do neither. You can do what you want. FREEDOM!

 


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5:21 PM on 04.01.2015  

Reservoir Cocks - A Dtoid Payday Playdate!

 

Two in the Mr. Pink, one in the Mr. Stink

Greetings, people-like creatures! April's Fools day may still be in full swing in certain parts of the world, but there's nothing foolish about what I'm about to announce. 

See, Destructoid's resident superhero/rockstar/megapimp Luckrequired and I are planning on getting some well earned vengeance after a failed round of Payday: The Heist on Steam. Luck humbly placed the blame on himself, but my own noobishness probably played a big part. We then swore that we would return, stronger than ever, to recover what rightfully belongs to our enemies, but which we are gonna take anyway because fuck them!

That said, and we'd like to join forces with any one of you lovely snugglebuddies out there to help us achieve this glorious victory. It doesn't matter whether or not you've ever played this game before in your life. We wanna play with anyone, as we believe that, through the power of friendship, any financially motivated murder-shootout will lead to happiness. <3

For those unfamiliar with the game, Payday: The Heist is a co-op first person shooter in which you pull off sick heists. Said heists get even sicker as you unlock more and more cool shit with which to pull off said heists, which as mentioned, are already pretty sick. That means you got some super sick heists to look forward to. Wicked!

It's all about teamwork. Communication is crucial, and you have to try your best to work as a part of a team if you want any chance to score some fat cash. Also, learn how to do melee attacks, as this will probably save your ass a bunch of times.

Playday is Friday, April 3rd 2015. Come drunk, sober or anything inbetween!

Make sure you have the time for it, because the heists do tend to take a while. Would suck if you had to bail during one. That's the kind of thing that would be absurd in real life. "Oh, oops, I forgot to pick up the kids. Uh, anyone wanna hold on to my stuff while I'm gone? Won't take too long, I promise."

We haven't agreed on the exact time yet, but we'll discuss it with those of you willing to join. Time zones can be tricky, so it's a good idea to make sure nobody has to stay up all night. Unless you were planning to do that anyway, which at least makes things easier.

Just tell us if you want to join, and you're in!

See you then! :)

EDIT: List of robbers so far

Zer0t0nin

OpiumHerz (maybe)

Tonich (maybe)

Riobux

Luckrequired

El Dango

 

I'll remove the 'maybe' once you know you're definitely joining in, or remove you from the list if you choose to cancel. :)


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8:49 AM on 03.19.2015  

Where is BFAZ?

Last year, around the time that I started my current life as a young, unemployed hobo, I decided to use more of my spare time writing blogs on Destructoid. It seemed like an ideal way to spend some of the massive amounts of free time I was starting to gain, between applying for any open position I could find. I wanted to write about something fun, something gaming related that I really enjoyed, and in the end, I decided to write about awesome boss fights, through a blog titled Boss Fight Appreciation Zone (BFAZ). The first of the series was, I believe, the first of my blogs that was actually getting somewhat popular, and it inspired me to keep going, while making me want to make each iteration look better than the last. Five blogs were written in the series, with one being a "bonus round". It gained some steam, then lost some again, but people seemed to really enjoy the series overall. It's what finally made me feel like I was "inside" the community, like I was a real contributor, who could make a genuine impression on people on the other side of the planet.

Saying that, it might seem weird to some folks that I haven't any of these in 2015. There are a couple of reasons for that, and I'd like to ask and answer a couple of questions related to all of this.

Is BFAZ dead!?

Not entirely, no. In fact, I'm currently working on one, and has been so for a while. It's another bonus round, one mainly featuring a certain egg-shaped super villain who I'm sure you're all familiar with. However, after this one, I may call it quits. See, these blogs take a long time to make. Not only do I have to make gifs for each boss, but tons of other little images as well, not to mention that it all has to fit together and, to be honest, for one blog, the effort isn't entirely worth it. Blogs die, and are only rarely brought up again, so spending all that time making them pretty and detailed seems a bit silly. I still want to make good looking blogs, but the way BFAZ has evolved is very demanding and overly ambitious, and changing it back to basics would just feel cheap, to me at least. 

Aside from that, it was a very community driven series, and the last blog didn't gather that much feedback, so continuing with a Round 5 would be difficult. There's always a risk to be run with stuff like that, and I got way too confident with it. People probably got a bit exhausted by it, and understandably lost interest.

Will there be another series to replace it?

Maybe, I'd say a 40% chance. Doing a series is a lot of work compared to unrelated blogs, and the only idea I currently have for one is something I'd call 'The Naughty Bits', which would be a complete rip-off of Ben Davis' Experience Points series, and probably way worse too. So yeah, while it's certainly possible, it's not on my priority list.

Will the 'Into the Desert' blog be finished?

Fuck no, it's dead!

Sorry to the handful of people who voted for it, I appreciate your enthusiasm a bunch, but that blog was turning into a boring load of shit very quickly. It's not that I can't write an entire blog about deserts in video games, it's that I can't possibly write a good one. You know, one that won't put people to sleep. 

Seriously, here's the gist of it: Deserts in real life are kinda boring, so some video games make them look interesting and give you means of transportation in order to make them more fun to traverse, while still trying to make them feel vast and open ended. That's pretty much it. Can you imagine that being stretched into an entire blog? God damn, that would be painful to read through.

Here's a blogging tip: Don't tell people about your blog ideas! I have a ton of unfinished blogs lying around, all of them coming from me changing my mind and/or losing interest. Losing interest especially is a red flag, and ignoring this flag will make for an extemely dull blog. You can't make people care if you don't care yourself.

What's the point of this blog, then?

A little bit of closure, mostly, just in case some of you out there have been wondering. That, and I wanted an excuse to show you the stupid photoshop I've made. It would never be relevant anywhere, so here you go.

That's all folks! Treat yourselves well, and be sure to have a nice day. :)

Bye!


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9:24 AM on 03.11.2015  

Dango's Favourite Food (NVGR)

 

Hello Destructoid, and welcome to a very special blog!

Writing about interactive entertainment is a lot of fun, and it's something that I intend to do more in the future. However, sometimes you need to take liberties with what you're given if you really want to express yourself in a way that truly matters, and nothings in this world matters more than food. Because, you know, we need that in order to live. Yet, while the consumption of food used to be nothing but an act of survival, we, as a species, have come as far as to turn it into an event, an activity, and even an art form!

I've always had a lot of appreciation for good food, but recently, I feel like it's been stronger than ever. Ironically, I've often been called a picky eater, and yeah, I suppose it's true, but when I do like a dish, I really like it. It actually fits in rather well with my taste in other things, such as video games, or any other media.

What I'm writing here is essentially a top seven of my favourite dishes ever, although it's only really the last one that fits into any sort of 'order' (and you might already know what that one is). The number doesn't mean anything, it just happens to be the number of favourite dishes I could come up with. No reason to make a blog like this all that long.

 

Speaking of long...

This is probably one of the first things I learned how to make, and the first thing that made me wanna learn how to cook. It took a while for me to actually get there, but this was a brilliant beginning. I've always been down for some spaghetti, and I always manage to empty my plate, no matter how big it is. Like, seriously, I've managed to eat some pretty grotesquely huge portions of spaghetti in the past, which you'd think would be impossible considering what a small dude I am. Where does it all go?

Of course, the main attraction here is the sauce. I like mine a little spicy, and I usually add a bit of extra oregano to it. Sometimes I even add some fresh tomatoes myself. It's also really important to me that the meat:sauce ratio is maintained, so that it won't get too messy and/or flavourless. Balance is important!

Parmesan cheese is also a must for me, though I've come to understand that this is something many people would rather avoid, which I've never understood. Granted, I usually add plenty of it (don't judge me, it goes bad quickly), which would understandably turn some folks off, but even a little bit makes such a huge, positive difference. But, okay, I have my own toppings and spices that I dislike, which would probably make others think I'm weird too, so it's okay. We all have our little things that make us want to chicken out.

 

Speaking of chicken...

Fucknuggets!

Sorry, I mean fuck nuggets! Don't get me wrong, I like chicken nuggets, but if they think they will ever rule the Fried Chicken Kingdom, they better prepared to get deported ASAP! Tenders tend the throne here, bitch!

Holy cock, what a surreal scenario! All that was just a way for me to say that chicken tenders are awesome and delicious, and my second (SPOILERS) favourite way of being served chicken in any fashion. This is despite the fact that I like chicken in pretty much every way.

Fried chicken tenders are basically the perfect mix of good meat and oily crunchyness, two things that are far too rarely seen together. In my experience, most fried food is junk, but I've never had tenders that disappointed. Then again, I've never had them that often, so there are probably plenty of places that mess them up, despite how easy it is to fry chicken. Seriously, I've tried it myself a couple of times, and it really doesn't take much to at least make it decent.

Then again, there's always been something fishy about the way some of the, uh... "less admirable" eating establishments serve their fried chicken. Pretty sure some of it is even worse for you than you might think.

 

Speaking of fishy...

My grandfather was a fisherman, and what an impact he left on me. He's been dead for almost 13 years now, but I'll never forget the stories he would tell and the pictures he would show me of all the fish he and his crew would manage to catch. He was a great guy, and probably part of the reason why I love fish fillets as much as I do.

Cook it on a pan and serve it to me with a slice of lemon, as well as some fries or bread to the side, and I'll be a happy man. Unlike everything else on here, however, I personally prefer having this for lunch rather than dinner. It's just 'light' enough, you know? It never makes me too full, but it gets the job done, and that's what I consider the best kind of lunch.

I also like different sorts of fish, but cod has always been my go-to fish. That's normal, right? Everyone has a go-to fish, right? Make sure to write about your go-to fish in the comments below, I wanna know what it is. You all have one, don't try to hide it, I'm not crazy! You're crazy! Tell me everything about your go-to fish! Don't wrap the truth in the blanket of comfort, it's time for it to come to the surface! Like a fucking fish!

 

Speaking of wraps...

This is where things start to get spicy. There isn't a lot food in this world more satisfying to eat than a succesfully wrapped tortilla full of hot, cheesy, meaty, tounge-roasting goodness. It's one of life's most simple pleasures.

FUN FACT: I couldn't find any images of a tortilla wrap that looked even remotely like the ones I make. Way too many veggies, not enough cheese, meat and hot chili peppers, AKA the three main ingredients in a Dango Wrap™. I just came up with that name on the fly, what do you think?

"Do you wish vengeance upon your own tongue, and do you happen to utterly despise your asshole!? Well, we got just the treat for you! Introducing the Dango Wrap™, a cheesy, spicy mess that will burn you from both sides! Go grab one today!"

Sometimes I do add a bit of cucumber though, so my recipe is a bit mixed. Variety is the spice of life, even when actual spice is hugely involved.

 

Speaking of mixed...

Here's a little something that will wok your socks off!

This is almost as much an experience as it is a tasty meal. I've only had this at one place (just down the street from where I live, which opened a couple of years ago), but I've eaten it a bunch of times, and it's always a total joy!

See, the way it works is that you get to pick from a large variety of meats, vegetables, noodles and other stuff, then take your plate to le chef, who then gets to work his magic in front of you (while you get to pick the sauce that you want). Remember to seperate the meat from everything else, though, as it needs to be cooked first, before the other stuff is added. Don't make le chef sad. Be responsible.

Oh, but even after the show is over, you get a seriously tasty meal. An unstoppable hurricane of flavour is the only proper way I can describe it, especially if you really vary your ingredients. They got squid rings at my place, and they come fully recommended. Squid is so weirdly delicious. It's chewy, but entirely worth it, and adding a few squid rings really make a difference with this dish, being a perfect complement to the more ordinary beef/pork/chicken combo.

A plate of mixed goodness like this is always guaranteed to leave me satisfied with everything in life.

 

Speaking of goodness...

Boyoboyoboy! It was only a matter of time before this timeless classic made its debut.

How do I even begin? You've had this, you know what the big deal is. We all do! It's a steak, it's not rocket science! It's not some kind of uniquely aquired taste. It's the world's most accessible piece of meat.

Of course, there is only one proper way to cook it, which is on a grill! Sure, other ways may lead to acceptable results, but only in case of weather related emergency situations (if the sun isn't shining). If you can grill it, that's how you gotta do it! Always look out for them while doing so, too. You don't leave a steak on the grill, you watch over it like a concerned mother, making sure your little kid doesn't get sunburnt. Overcooking a steak is nothing less than a tragedy, and no one should ever do that! I know that some people say they prefer their steaks well done, but some people also claim that the pyramids were built by aliens, so I think the conclusion we can make here is that some people can be a bit silly at times, and that we probably shouldn't listen to them.

There are several different types of cuts when it comes to steaks, and I would probably get a lot more street cred with the cooks if I picked and stuck with one, but I honestly like the variety. T-bones, for example, are pretty fantastic, but they are also a lot more trouble to prepare and cook, and I'm glad it's not all we got.

 

Speaking of grilling and Summer and all that is good in this world...

Yes, it's time for the thing that you could already see in that little 'things I like' collage I've made.

Whoever came up with this is the biggest genius the world has ever seen! Holy fuckleberry, I love me some ribs! Mmmmh mmmh mhh! Everything from the consistency, to the flavour, to the slightly rough nature of the actual eating process, is absolutely perfect to me. Gotta get your fingers dirty, people! That's how nature made you! 

I could always eat ribs. It doesn't matter how sick or tired I am, there's nothing in this world that can stop me from accepting such a heavenly meal. I must have this every Summer, otherwise I would stop functioning. As with the previous entry, this belongs entirely on a grill. There just has to be a certain amount of smoke in there in order for it to be just perfect! Furthermore, the sauce should be applied in a way that makes it be absorbed by the meat. Don't drown it in sauce, that's just overkill. Some restaurants do that, and it sucks! Make it a thin but substantial layer that adds flavour to the meat, without ever overdoing it. I've even made my own sauce a couple of times, often to surprisingly good results. The beautiful thing about barbecue sauce is that there are so many ways to make it, and you can find tons of recipes online. One day, I'm planning on coming up with my own unique one. I'll probably make it slightly spicy.

But please, don't give me any of that "McRib" crap. Everyone who's ever called that thing a living legend should be ashamed of themselves. McDonald's is not quality, it's junk, and you should get your rib fix somewhere else. Ribs being treated as some sort of junk food is a gigantic insult to everything I stand for, and it's a trend that I very much wish to see the end of.

 

Speaking of end...


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4:55 PM on 02.28.2015  

My experience with Legacy of Kain: Defiance

Merry Christmas everyone, or at least you'd think it was, seeing as this is a super late Secret Santa related blog that I probably could've easily written ages ago. It's a task that's been hanging over my head for a while now, and though I admittedly haven't finished the game in question, I do think it's about time that I at least shared my impressions so far.

Cannibal Steven is a clever dude. Instead of assuming that we'd actually have it be a Secret Santa arrangement and buying something early on (which was my approach), he waited until his victim giftee was revealed before he made his choice, allowing him to pick something much more personal. Noting my open enjoyment of the Tomb Raider games, he decided to introduce me to a series of rather similar games in form of the Legacy of Kain Collection.

Getting a sizable collection of games rather than one is obviously pretty exciting, and I am very grateful. That said, figuring out where to start turned out to be really difficult. I knew that blasting through all of them was gonna be too much for me, so I decided to pick one. My first choice was Blood Omen 2: Legacy of Kain, but that one crashed pretty early on, so I decided to go with something else. My second choice, the one that I finally stuck with, was Legacy of Kain: Defiance.

What made my choice of starting point so hard is the fact that this franchise is not exactly straight forward when it comes to the way each title is named. I'd actually argue that it gives Rambo a run for its money in this regard. As you can see, the actual position of the Legacy of Kain title varies from game to game, and the fact that there seems to be two mini-series doesn't help at all. I still have no idea what the core difference between Blood Omen and Soul Reaver is, but I did eventually learn that Defiance is apparently the latests game in the franchise (aside from some MMO thing), so there's plenty for me to be confused about.

There's this channel on YouTube that tries to explain video game lore in a minute. I checked out their Legacy of Kain video, hoping to get a better understanding of what was going on in the story, but it only vaguely helped. In the comments, people were talking about all the lore that had been left out of the video, which didn't even have time to touch on one of the main playable characters. Regardless, what I did figure out through the game is that the legendary Tony Jay once voiced a giant tentacle monster, which is actually pretty fucking awesome! The Elder God, I believe it was called, and damn if that isn't a title fitting of Mr. Jay himself. 10/10 for the casting, Kane.

When it comes to the gameplay, I've found it pretty enjoyable so far. First thing I did in the game was trying to get used to the controls, and I had to change the controls around a whole lot before that would ever have a chance of happening. There are a lot of functions in this game, and it's not always clear what all of them do, so it's definitely been taking some experimentation.

Defiance has you switching between two characters, Kain and Raziel, who both have their own sets of abilities. Kain is a vampire, but I'm not sure what Raziel is. 'Zombie' seems to be the most fitting term. You use these two to kick some ass, explore some environment and solve a couple puzzles along the way. It's definitely Tomb Raider-esque, if notably more combat heavy, and with a lot less climbing involved.

One really cool feature, to me, would be the automatic camera angles. They may not always be that helpful during combat, but I still like them. Full camera control has understandably become a standard over the years, but I wish it was more divisive. I also enjoy stuff like ICO and the early Metal Gear Solids for their perspective, because it makes the games feel more simple and streamlined, which can definitely be a positive. That, and it can be a helpful tool for showing off the environment in the best way possible. Games trying to be 'cinematic' doesn't usually appeal that much to me, but if they do it like that, I certainly can't complain.

The combat in this game is unusual, but I mean that in a good way. You have your regular sword attacks, but then you also have telekinesis, which sends enemies flying. I don't think you ever have to do that, but not doing it would be madness, because it makes everything way more fun. Flinging an enemy into a wall never stops being satisfying, and the fact that you can even do it from a distance is pretty fantastic. Add the finishing moves, where Kain/Raziel sucks out an enemy's blood/soul, and you get a combat system that does a decent job carrying a large portion of the game. It's not like Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, where combat is clumsily inserted everywhere, despite not having that much to offer. Here, it serves as a nice break from the exploration and platforming, rather than getting in the way of it.

Of course, I also have to mention the environments, which was one of the biggest pleasant surprises to me. They look really, really good. Obviously, there some areas that look very pixelated, but it's more about the art direction than it is the graphical power itself. You get a lot of tunnels and tight spaces that you have to run through, but once it opens up, it shows off some huge, detailed, beautiful areas, suddenly giving you a much better idea of where you are and where you're going. I like that because it makes every area feel very grounded. You know you're in a big place, but you don't really feel it unless you spend a lot of time there, getting to explore every little dirty hole you come across.

Overall, I guess my biggest problem is that a lot of things, even simple functions, are just a bit too tricky to get the hang of. At one point I spent a lot of time with Kain in a tiny room, having nowhere else to go, as I had to light some torches in a particular order using a new power that was pretty difficult to aim. I also still find myself having trouble remembering all about Raziel's realm shifting, and I frequently forget which sword of his that I have to use. As much as I appreciate that the game wants to challenge me, I do wish it would let me get the hang of its mechanics a little easier.

During this piece, I've made a couple of comparisons to other games, but one that sticks with me as being more fitting than any other is Darksiders. Pretty much everything from the character designs, to the mythology, to the silly little glide that you can do, it all pretty much fits. More specifically, I'd say that it is to Tomb Raider what Darksiders is to Zelda. I think that sums it up pretty decently.

Before I end this, I'd like to pont out how weird Raziel looks. He might be a hideous zombie-like creature, but I gotta say, he's got some really good hair! I can't help but imagine him in his apartment, spending hours in front of the mirror each morning before going "Bleh, doesn't get better than this, time to slay some demons and vampire hunters and whatever else I come across".

Do I recommend this game, then? Well, yeah, for the same reason I'd recommend Darksiders. It's just a fun third person action game that may not be that original, but which certainly manages to scratch that particular itch. I'm definitely going to play it to completion, and chances are I'll probably check the other games out as well.

BALANCE EMBLEM!

 


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8:22 AM on 02.19.2015  

THE MAGNIFICENT NINE OF THIS TRUCK TOID

HAPPY BIRTHDAY YOU MOTHER FU

*ahem*

Happy 9th Anniversary, Destructoid!

While I haven't even been around for half as much time, it certainly feels like an online home to me. Lots of good times have been had, both in the front page comments and in the blogs, and it's exciting to me that we're getting close to the big 10! One whole decade of also cocks!

To celebrate, I'm gonna be doing OpiumHertz's "challenge" of writing about the nine Dtoid members who have left the biggest impression on me. There are tons of competition here, and many worthy members have been left out. You absolutely should not be sad if you're not on the list, because there are very few members on here that I've ever had a problem with, and chances are I still think you're the absolute tits!

Note that a lot of these "awards" are earned due to people showing themselves as much more than abstract avatars wrapped in internet memes and culture (which is still a bit too rare these days), and as real life people with varying tastes and complex personalities. Be yourself, is what I'm trying to say. :)

 

Let's start off with the top dawg of anything community related on this site, Dr. Dixon himself! His enthusiasm is indestructible, and his efforts have made it so that the blogging space has become my favourite aspect of Destructoid overall. Even when I have nothing to write, I've become so attached to the Cblogs that I check them pretty much every day. 

Andy's posts are ones that I always look forward to, regardless of whether it's a silly dick joke or the announcement of a cool new event or feature. I just straight up really dig the guy, and I'm glad he's in the position that he's in. Really, how could you not like a guy who gives you a thumbs up with every post?

Mr. Andy Dixon is the hero Destructoid deserves, and the one it needs, so it's all pretty neat.

Even though this guy pre-ripped off my title, I can't deny he's left an impression. For one, I adore his username. It's very fitting for a gaming site, but in an unusually clever way, one that certainly beats the cliché of [game character]+[age/random number] that people still use. Aside from that, his God Hand blog also inspired me to step up my image game when it comes to blogging, seeing as that one was made entirely with images, allowing for a lot of creative freedom. He also hosts the 'You can't say that' competitions, which, aside from being a lot of fun, also let me know that auto-playing Soundcloud songs is a thing you can put into your blog, as you have probably found out by now.

Aside from all that stuff, though, Luck is a swell guy. Very friendly, positive and funny, and his latest blog is all the evidence you need for this.

I was Luckrequired's Secret Santa last year, and that's one chimney I couldn't be happier to climb down!

Captain Kittenbeard belongs on everyone's list, honestly. While a lot of thing initially attracted me to this site back in late 2011, Occams is what made me stay. That's right, if any of you don't like me, you can blame this guy for making me not want to leave. Here's why:

What I first saw in Occams was a person with a weird username saying weird things. That's all well and good, and not the first time I've encountered this, but what I eventually started to notice was his popularity. His uniqueness didn't turn people off, but rather, it attracted them to him. That's unusual, and it made me happy to see, because that's a sign of a good community. Occams' comments are almost always original, unpredictable and hilarious, and even the more basic ones are very positively loaded. I have this image of him being like a wise man, with his calm and eccentric behavior being almost inspirational. He's certainly one of the nicest and wittiest people I've encountered online.

Also he has like a million bands, which is awesome!

I originally got into reading about video games through stuff like top 10s, comparison pieces and other kinds of fun little articles and videos. Sadly, it seems like gaming media has drifted a little bit away from that kind of thing, which I don't understand. It's fun, and it often makes for a surprisingly good read/watch, so I think it has plenty of reason to exist. Thankfully, Ben Davis (formerly known as bbain) has done plenty to bring it back, and I very much appreciate it. He has done a lot of top 10 lists already, and is currently doing a series called Experience Points, in which he simply talks about his favourite parts of certain games.

Experience Points is, in my honest opinion, one of the best things to come to the front page in a long time. It's the kind of content that every gaming site benefits from, and Dtoid certainly does. Ben has always had a very positive influence on this site, and ever since he became part of the staff, it's only gotten better.

I feel like I don't even have to mention how friendly he is, either. It's kind of been a recurring theme on this list.

The first big impression Luna left on me was her Crash Bandicoot 3 blog (which also makes my music choice somewhat relevant). It was a really entertaining read, and had a lot of images too, if not as many as Luck's blog on the same subject. That said, she is just as much of an inspiration when it comes to the visual aspect of my own blogs, as she puts a lot of care and effort into hers, to great results. I've come to really appreciate blogs and articles that have a distinct look to them, as they are usually the ones that I remember the most.

Since then, Luna went on to arrange the Secret Santa event last year, which was awesome, even if it wasn't so secret. We were also supposed to write about our experiences with each game, but that's taking a while. Regardless, it was a great initiative, and I'd love to do something similar this year. Events like these really tie the community together, and it has convinced me that Luna is a valuable addition to it.

Before Benny Disco tragically passed away from a severe case of explosive diarrhea, he was a very active and wildly entertaining member of our lovely community, who always seemed to have an equal amount of funny jokes and genuinely intelligent discussion. 

Okay, so he didn't actually die from his own poop, but I rarely see him these days. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places, and he's "secretly" been around all along, but I kinda miss him. See, the reason why he really deserves a mention like this is that his absence is extremely notable to me. He just has too much going for him, so he can't exactly go quietly into the night. Maybe he launched himself from a catapult, in an attempt to get a high score. Seems like we'll never know.

In any case, there's no doubt that Sir Disco is truly the most amazing frog who's ever graced our site.

This is a difficult one, because I can't really put my finger on exactly why this guy has left such a big impression on me. I think it has to do with him saying and doing a lot of small things rather than a handful of larger ones, yet it all adds up to the same amount. I'm not really in the mood to do the math right now. All I know is that my instincts say "pick this guy", and I'm choosing to trust them.

What I can talk about is his username, and how proud I am of myself for remembering the second L in 'scholarly'. That seems to be a common mistake, but I am done with it! No longer shall I make that particular typo! There are plenty of others to make, and I barely havr tiem for tehm alll as id.

No but seriously, this dude is swanky as fuck, and you should all follow him on Twitter!

<3

He makes a lot of puns, and once had a show about food. That's two things guaranteed to get my blessing right away. I love puns and food!

I like Steven Hansen so much that I award his fancy name thingy with one of the best characters ever concieved: The Slugcat. Hansen is like our Slugcat.

Also, his last name is Scandinavian, which suggests that the blood of the North runs through him!

Also also, I think he made Rayman nachos once, which is super cool!

___

Again, if you're not on here, it doesn't mean I don't think you're awesome! It was a hard but honest list, and I hope that the people who made it on here really appreciate it. Otherwise, I'm gonna cry so hard that I'll vomit everywhere.

[Generic blog ending paragraph.]

Bye!

 


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2:58 PM on 02.10.2015  

Original Ape Escape team still in touch, has dinner

If you use Twitter and have any interest in video games, I strongly recommend that you follow Shuhei Yoshida. That man is a prime example of the kind of executive that benefits any industry, with his down-to-earth attitude and clear respect for the people who've gotten him to where he is. Needless to say, that respect goes both ways, as the guy is seen in a very positive light by many in the gaming community.

What makes things even better is that my personal favourite game ever, Ape Escape, also appears to be one of his. He was the producer of the game, and it was clearly a very personal project to him, as he has often mentioned it in interviews as something that means a lot to him. It certainly is something to be proud of

As such, it was through his Twitter that I was recently made aware of the fact that the original Ape Escape team has been having a reunion, and a night of dinner by a really long table.

Aside from just being really nice in general, this is insane news to me, as I never imagined these people still being in touch after all those years. The industry has changed so much, but it looks like these people are bound by more their careers. I guess it makes sense, though, considering the passionate product they've created. Everything about this is hearwarming and wonderful, and it really brightened up my day.

That said, this kind of news inevitably comes with a lot of speculation. Looking at the tweet's responses, people are already seeing this as an indication that a new Ape Escape has a chance of being developed for the PS4. This is definitely going to spread over time, no doubt about it, and a lot of fans are understandably going to be excited.

Personally, however, I won't get my hopes up. The franchise largely skipped the PS3 generation, only appearing in a half-hearted spinoff game, as well as an equally half-hearted crossover. Sony hasn't been showing any signs of wanting to do anything with the franchise. They've even refused to release the older games on PSN outside of Japan, for reasons that have yet to be explained, and because of this, I find it very hard to believe that they would allow the production of an entirely new installment.

To be honest though, I'm just happy to see the team being back together, having a good time and remembering what they've created. I wasn't expecting this to happen at all, and it is a very pleasant surprise in itself. These people have brought me and others a lot of happiness, and it's fantastic to find out how much it means to the developers themselves. That revelation alone is enough for me to be very satisfied, regardless of whether or not it's an indication of something larger to come.

I hope the food was delicious!


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2:21 PM on 12.30.2014  

Happy New Crémant: Rise of the Octokorra

A lot of people have been writing big, ballin blogs about the games they've enjoyed in the year 2014, which have mostly included games from that very same year. I like following trends, so I've been wanting to make one as well. Only thing that's keeping me is one itsy bitsy problem. One hair in my soup. One splinter in my left buttock. One rock in my croc. One croc in my otherwise presentable collection of footwear.

I only played Octodad and Korra.

I am totally fucking serious with this one. The only games I played during 2014, which also happened to be released this year, were Young Horses' Octodad: Dadliest Catch and Platinum's The Legend of Korra. No Wolfensteins, Far Crys, Bayonettas or Mordors. How do I even get around the house with no Mordors???

Guess I'm just too cheap to dish out the high price of a new high profile release, so when something competent looking and affordable comes out, I turn my attention (and wallet) towards it? That said, I certainly wish to play most (if not all) of the games mentioned at some point, but it probably wouldn't hurt economically to wait a bit longer. I did buy and play plenty of older games during the year, so that's nice. But for making a list of my favourite 2014 games, it obviously won't do, so I'm stuck with a list of two games. Bogus, sure, but I'm gonna try and compare the two in a desperate effort to make it a bit more interesting. Not that it will be that long either way.

 

"OKAY, SO WHAT'S OCTODAD!?"

Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a game about a totally normal guy who hangs out and chills with his family a lot. Or so you think! You see, there's quite a bit of a twist near the end that I won't spoil, but it will blow your mind! Anyway, the game is basically about performing normal, simple tasks without fucking everything up. Then the developers realized that the game was way too easy, and decided to make the controls impossible. As a result, even taking a few steps is intensely difficult.

I really like this game's originality. While games like QWOP and... CLOP... have done similar things in the past, this is far more ambitious. There was technically another Octodad game before this, but that one felt more like a proof of concept than anything, while this one is definitely going to be the one that people remembers the most. It helps that it has a really catchy theme song.

Oh, and the collectible ties will take forever to find, so replay value!

 

"ALRIGHT THEN, HOW BOUT KORRA!?"

The Legend of Korra is a game about the world's most dangerous fantasy eskimo, who has the ability to control the four elements through different types of dancing: the swift wind of the breakdance, the cool waters of disco, the rocky stiffness of the robot and the fiery passion of salsa!

Korra is the name of our main character (we sure have come far since 1986). One day, a gang of generic bad guys take away her ability to be Super Jesus, making her more like me, who doesn't have super powers. As it turns out, being like me is simply unacceptable, and Korra is now going out of her way to regain her extraordinary super powers that no one else can have at the same time.

Bosses were kinda lame. I know that's kind of a sudden thing to jump to, but it is my biggest problem with the game by far. Had the bosses been more fun, varied and personalized, I may still have been playing this. Another lame thing is that the elements don't feel that different. Like, why does the air do direct damage, rather than blow enemies away? Why doesn't fire actually set things on fire? Other than this, however, I think it was a solid game. A half-swank, at least.

 

"OKAY, SO HOW DO YOU PLAN TO COMPARE THEM?"

Oh wow, way to put me on the spot, voice in my head!

I guess one way is to look at their budgets, as both of them were obviously low. What's interesting is that this comes through in different ways. While Octodad has very low-poly character and object models, Korra has better models but blander environments. Overall, I think I prefer the former approach a good deal more, as I find it far less noticable while actually playing.

But, honestly, that's just the tip of it. Looking at the amount of creative ambition for each project, Octodad curiously enough still seems to come out on top, despite being far more simple in both concept and execution.

See, you won't expect a game like Octodad to have a detailed backstory or a big climax against a threatening villain, but from Korra, with its epic fantasy world and mysterious lore, it's not extraordinary in the slightest. This means that, based on expectations alone, Octodad is the one that overdelivers, while Korra comes across as pretty tame. I honestly think this represents both games pretty well in general. I think Korra could have been so much more than it was, and I'm not sure I could say that for Octodad, should it not have turned into a completely different game in the process.

I guess, by default, it means that Octodad: Dadliest Catch is my favourite 2014 game, while The Legend of Korra is my least favourite. But hey, two games. Who cares? In the end, I had a good deal of fun with both, and I certainly don't regret buying either. Besides, the benefit of only playing two games is being able to do slightly more in-depth stuff that wouldn't usually make much sense. Had it been one game, I might have done a more complete review of it instead. That, or something way lazier.

Hey, guess what? I'm not having champagne this year, as I'm apparently not High $ociety enough for the stuff (or the store didn't have it, one of those reasons). Instead, I'm having crémant. Makes me wonder how many people actually drink champagne New Year's eve, compared to those who drink stuff that doesn't count. It's probably a minority, but the world is full of super ultra nubs who don't know the difference. The tiny, insignificant difference.

So with that in mind,

Happy New Year, Champagne, Crémant, or whatever else you plan to pour into your face!


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9:57 AM on 11.27.2014  

Why Tomb Raider: Anniversary is totally better than every Assassin's Creed

A couple of Dtoid community members have chosen for me to write a big, fat blog about sand, but that one is still in... let's call it 'research and development'. Probably mostly research.

In the meantime, let me tell you why Tomb Raider: Anniversary is way better than every Assassin's Creed game ever made, in a way that's guaranteed to piss off everyone who even remotely disagrees with me. But guys, c'mon, it's totally better in every way. It's not my fault you have the wrong opinion!

Okay, alright, so maybe Tomb Raider and Assassin's Creed isn't really the same thing, what with one being a series of puzzle focused games, while the other is a series on non-focused open world games with way too much stuff in them. Similarities are still plenty, however, and whenever the two have something in common, I've noticed that this one Raider game always seems to do it better than all the Creeds combined.

Y'see, in Tomb Raider: Anniversary...

 

Climbing is fun

Climbing in this game is practically perfect. You might be able to find some rough edges here and there, but generally, this is how climbing should be done. You control it. You control the direction, you decide when to jump, you decide whether you want to take it slow or increase the pace. There's even an option to make grabbing a manual thing, like in the first game. Aside from that, the path is never laid out for you, and you often get a lot of options. You get to figure out your route, and it requires you to be observant, and keep concentrating. This is really engaging, and it makes climbing a joy no matter how many times you take a lethal fall.

In a certain other series, the game does everything for you. Just keep running forward, and your acrobatic buddy does all the crazy stunts automatically. While this is happening, you only get a little bit of control over which direction you want to climb. Of course, this would have been understandable if this particular series didn't revolve around climbing to the same degree as Tomb Raider. But it does, and has done so from the start.

Having automatic climbing in a climbing based game is a bit like having an auto-drive function in a racing game. Really stupid, that is.

 

You can swan dive everywhere

In Assassin's Creed, jumping off of a tall structure and diving into something soft is a recurring element of the series, and it happens a lot in each game. Sadly, it's yet another automatic thing, and it's not really a part of the game as much as a glorified cutscene. You have no control over the actual jump, and it can only be done in special places, so it's impossible to do it wrong. At no point are you able to face plant into a hard surface and break your dumb face on impact, which I'm sure saddens a lot of people, since doing badly on purpose can be really funny at times (in a game, that is, not during a life-threatening operation).

Thankfully, Tomb Raider: Anniversary allows you to do just that, and much more! All you have to do is jump, then quickly press the duck button. It's a satisfying move to pull off due to its timing, and the game lets you do it anywhere you want. You don't even have to jump off a ledge or move in any directions; I can be pulled off from any height. Hitting the ground after a swan dive will be followed by a roll, unless you fall too far, in which case it will be followed by amusing ragdoll physics.

 

Combat is fast and simple, not glitchy

It's no secret that the combat in the Creed games isn't very good. It's really stiff, dissatisfying and glitchy. Especially glitchy, with an AI that's unpredictable for all the wrong reasons, and which tends to react strangely to the environment. Not the most fun you can have, and considering the whole 'stealth' pretense that these games have, there's surprisingly much of it. Maybe it'd be more tolerable if it had been toned down and simplified a bit.

Or you can just play Tomb Raider Anniversary, as combat in this game is fun, fast, simple and restricted. You won't encounter enemies in every room, and when you do, you only have to shoot them in order to do damage. Aside from that, the crazy jumps and dodges you can pull off make it much more enjoyable than waiting for an opportunity to counter an attack, only to be shot from the distance by some asshole that you couldn't see.

I am of course fully aware that the two ways of doing combat are very different, but it's not like the Assassin combat system ever had to be such a chore. At this point, it could've easily evolved into a sword based Arkham system. Everyone else have ripped off that game anyway, so why not?

 

You can always swim underwater

No need for a stupid, expensive diving bell here. Instead, the unlimited possibility of underwater exploration will now be available to you by the press of a button. It's like magic!

Sure, I know some people really hate underwater sections, because apparently Ocarina of Time is the only game they've ever played, but when a game does it well (which is very often), it adds a lot to the experience. One way to make it fun is to make it simple, and Anniversary gets that. Like with everything else in the game, swimming is fun, fluid and easy to get the hang of, so the underwater puzzles are just as enjoyable as all the others.

Meanwhile, in Creed town, underwater exploration is weirdly removed from everything else. There's no organic transition, and it's considered to be an unlockable, even when you can swim. The actual swimming isn't very fun either. Let me ensure you that my first diving mission in Black Flag was also my last. No time for that stuff when there's ships to rob and islands to explore. Of course, that does bring me to the one water-related thing that this franchise has over Tomb Raider, as those games never allow you to sail around on a pirate ship. But what if...?

 

The out-of-campaign stuff is actually cool

Both Anniversary and the Ass Creed games have some gameplay that exists outside of the main campaign: In the former, this is the Croft Manor level, and in the latter, it's the future narrative.

People aren't very fond of the future narrative. It's often criticized for being unnecessary, boring, uneventful and for having too much exposition about a story that most player don't really seem to care about. I agree with all that, and would like to add that the environments that these sections take place in kinda suck. The one in Black Flag especially, taking place in the kind of horrifically "modern" office that cynical people think look "welcoming" and "personal" because it has ugly, multicoloured beanbag chairs and bullshit "abstract art" all over the place. Because who doesn't love working in an office that looks like a fucking kindergarten?*

Croft Manor, however, is something else! This is an old mansion full of secret passages and tunnels, with a swimming pool and a hedge maze. There are no multicoloured beanbag chairs to be seen, and the art on the walls are primarily portraits of previous owners. Best of all, though, is that there's a puzzle to solve; One that stretches all over the mansion, involving every room and every hidden area. The biggest difference between this one and the campaign puzzles is that this is much more inventory-based, making it feel a bit like a classic point and click adventure. It's a really fun activity that perfectly compliments the main game, rather than take away from it.

* Sorry, got a bit off topic there.

 

There aren't any tailing missions

That's quite the bonus!

The tailing missions in AC are probably some of the most justifiably hated gameplay elements ever, yet they keep showing up in every game, even though it's obvious that nobody appreciates them. But hey, guess what? They're not in Tomb Raider! I don't know what else to say, honestly. No tailing missions. Not even optional ones. None of that stuff here. Bliss.

Hell, you could probably market any other game by listing the lack of tailing missions as a feature. "Tired of following some dick around a boring town while awkwardly jumping through hoops in order to remain hidden? Well, here is one way of spending your time doing something completely different!" Tell me you wouldn't be convinced to buy that on the spot!

So that's why this one game is totally better than an entire series of very different games. Made a lot of sense, right?

What I'm trying to say with all this is that, despite numerous differences, the Assassin's Creed series could learn a lot from Tomb Raider: Anniversary. Well, that and the Arkham games. And GTA. Probably a lot of games now that I think about it...

The other thing I'm trying to say is that Anniversary is great, and you should play it if you like jumpy climby shooty puzzly kinda deals, as it has a very good balance of each. I've heard it didn't sell very well, which is a huge shame, and it makes me sad that the series didn't continue in this direction for very long. Hopefully, it might look back at this in the future, possibly leading to remakes of other games in the franchise. Nothing like a tank control-free version of a classic adventure!

Now excuse me while I wait for someone to make a Tomb Raider pirate game. It better happen!


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9:49 AM on 11.12.2014  

Boss Fight Appreciation Zone - ROUND 4

Check out the others!

 

You're struggling.

The battlefield has not shown you mercy, and you find yourself getting increasingly exhausted, as fierce enemies overwhelm you and grand obstacles stand before you. At times, it may look like you're attempting the impossible, that you are so weak and insignificant that it takes nothing to bring you down. At times, the challenge is almost scary to you, and the solutions seem out of the realm of possibility. You're running out of options, and you're running out of health.

But you do not give up.

You don't work that way. 'Life's as worth living as ass is worth kicking', is the code you live by. So you press on. For every step back, you take two steps forward. With every failure comes a little bit of wisdom. As the difficulty rises, your fear lowers, and you accept it. You get comfortable with it. As you polish up your strategy, you eventually reach perfection. Before you know it, you see your goal. There is your destination, right in front of you. What once felt like a distant dream has come true, and you finally get to advance on your journey. But that's when you see it.

That's when you face the boss.

Thinking you were at the end of your struggles, it now turns out that they have only started. Every enemy you've faced, every obstacled you've passed, everything you've fought for so far, has led to this. You now face the ultimate test of skill. Your fear returns.

It's not easy. The strategies that were flawless against everything else are not enough here, and once again, you're forced to think out of the box. After a good while being a chew toy, you start to consider your surrender, as the difficulty seems to be too much for you to handle. But then, you discover a weakness. Something unexpectedly starts working, the pieces start coming together, and it's just enough to turn the battle around. With this weakness exploited, your strategy suddenly has an effect. Your confidence is renewed. The battle lasts a while, but in the end, the boss turns out to no longer be a match for you. You strike the final blow, and emerge victorious.

You stand as a lone champion in the middle of what was once a battlefield, look upon your defeated, and walk off to seek a new challenge.

Welcome back!

 

Yes, it is once again time for gifs and gushing. As usual, commenters from previous rounds throw their own personal favourites into the mix, ensuring that even games that I haven't played myself (or haven't considered) get a chance to make it onto the list.

Spoilers are obviously going to be all over the place, so tread lightly.

(NOTE: Every gif is clickable, and links to each boss' soundtrack. Open it in another tab while reading for the ultimate BFAZ experience!)


"One of my favorite bosses ever is the Huge Hermit from Metal Slug 3. It's a giant hermit crab that chose a huge military tank as a shell, and it chases you down while shooting projectiles from the tank and attacking you with its claws, and also destroying the bridge you're running on. It's a cool idea for a boss to begin with, not to mention it looks freaking beautiful in motion, since the Metal Slug team's pixel work was just phenomenal!"

- bbain

First one on the list and we're already tits-deep in crazy!

By itself, the tank is already strange, with an impractical number of cannons pointing in different, random directions. Makes me wonder what cross-eyed maniac developed this thing. The hermit crab thing only perfects the piece, and it is a really cool idea.

The Metal Slug games are where I think people really started to see the potential in pixel art and animation, and the games have had a very clear influence on modern pixel artists and game developers. It's the kind of influence that has led to stuff like Rain World, which I really appreciate, so I have a lot to thank these games for. I wanted to pick up MS3 on PSN, but it wasn't available, so I got the first one as well, and it's been plenty of fun so far. I should probably return to it soon, even if I may not beat it.

 


"As for a boss I love, the final confrontation with Radec from Killzone 2 is easily the best boss in any FPS I've played. A highly strategic, punishing but fair fight. Doing it on Elite was one of the most amazing things I've ever done."

- GajKnight

Dude, this game looks Radecal! HAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!

No but seriously, I think GajKnight might have sold me on the Killzone series, or at least this one installment. This is considered the best one, right? In any case, this teleportation stuff, combined with Gaj's description, makes me really intrigued. It looks tactical, raw and tense, which is something that I really value in a shooter.

The franchise's name has always sounded cool to me too. It's so punchy, simple and straight to the point, while still being fairly original. That's the best kind of product name in my opinion, especially for entertainment.

Killzone may never be a Halo killer, but it's definitely welcome in my zone, hahahaHAHAHAHA!!!

 

"I'd like to nominate the "Liquid Ocelot" encounter from MGS4. Not so much because of the fighting itself but for everything that this battle encapsulates:
Two old men. Both have been pushed far beyond their limits and at this point in the game, it's all basically over. The GOP-Servers are destroyed and a virus is destroying what's left of the other Patriots.

Yet here we are and there is no turning back for the two. There are no flashy special moves this time. There aren't even weapons. They brawl it out on top of a secret submarine with their life-bars and the background music changing over time to resemble the respective ones from the previous games.
...Damn, I'm getting goosebumps while typing this."

- Zer0t0nin

I've talked so much about Metal Gear Rising on here that I've almost forgotten about the other MG's. The entire series has always been well known for its bosses, despite being based around stealth (although it has gotten more and more action focused).

Here we see two old men punching the arse out of each other, despite the main conflict seemingly being solved. They are just really tired of each other's shit, I guess.

Solid Snake really seems to be at a disadvantage here, though. It looks really warm, yet he's still wearing his entire suit. I know it protects him, but that hardly matters if both are going straight for the face, which certainly seems to be the case here. Ocelot gets all the fresh air, and Snake's old ass is cooking. No wonder he's losing in the gif.

 

"...For me, one would be ... in Final Fantasy VIII. The first time you face Ultimecia at the end of the first disc, because (Spoilers for a half a million years old game here) when you "beat" the boss, she doesn't actually die, because Ultimecia ends up being the final bossof the game. You "willow" down (Is that a real expression, or am I hearing it wrong?) her hitpoints enough to progress with the story, but it shows you kinda giving her an attack, and she just kinda waves it off, and then she summons this giant icicle that's like the size of this massive spear, and then she just sends it into Squall (the main protagonist of the game) and kinda pierces his heart, so it looks like you die, and you see your team has been defeated. You have a second splinter team that failed in their mission as well. They've all been captured. And then it kinda fades to black and says: "alright, go to disc 2", so you're left with that cliffhanger of a boss..."

- djnealb (PStoid)

That is a very rough quote, yes, but it's the best I could do. You can't copy-paste audio, after all.

With JRPGs being alien territory to me, I don't know much about Final Fantasy. I know there's a guy named Cloud, and he has spiky hair and a huge sword that he couldn't possibly lift. The games are also extremely long, so you always need like ten discs to play them. There's a wizard. There's a cactus thing. That's about it...

Predictably, I can't comment much on the boss fight either, but I do love a good cliffhanger, especially one that you know will be resolved. That's actually a pretty clever use of having more than one disc, since there will inevitably be a break in the story anyway, and being part of the same game means that the player won't be frustrated by it. Instead, frustration is replaced by anticipation and excitement, like when you finish a season of a show on Netflix, knowing the next one is on there too.

So yeah, good on you Final Fantasy VIII. That's a cool thing that you did.

 

"I ended up picking Majora's Mask and Majora's Mask from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask"

- Nanashi (PStoid)

The thing about Majora's Mask from Majora's Mask is that Majora's Mask always Majora's Masks when Majora's Mask, but not when Majora's Mask Majora's Masks in another Majora's Mask. It might be because Majora's Mask isn't really Majora's Mask without Majora's Mask and Majora's Mask from The Legend of Majora's Mask: Majora's Mask.

I want there to be a Minora's Mask, which is just a really shitty, poorly made version of Majora's Mask. Like, the eyes aren't fully circular, some of the paint is peeling off, stuff like that.

FUN FACT: Did you know? Majora's Mask was originally going to be named Major Ass Mask, explaining why the titular mask vaguely resembles a firm pair of buttocks.

(NOTE: Nanashi actually did go further into detail during the podcast, but I felt like making fun of the game's name instead, like an asshole. If you want to know the rest, and a couple of other cool boss opinions, go listen to the full podcast. It's only three hours, you have the time!) 

 

This time around, I have a few choices on here that are probably a bit unexpected. There are also a couple that I have been dying to talk about ever since I begun making these. Let's have a look!

Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc is a strange game. It's kind of the black sheep in the series, but not to the same degree as something like Zelda II. In fact, if you might find that a lot of people actually consider it the best in the series, likely preferring the more simplistic, combat focused gameplay over the other, more collection based games in the series. But it's generally either the first one, the second one or Origins/Legends that gets the most praise. I personally consider it the "worst" one, as little as that means, but there is one thing that I find it did better than any of the other games: the bosses. The bosses of Rayman 3 are just the coolest! They are creative, varied, fun, challenging and memorable. While the game's combat can get a bit repetitive at times, the bosses alone makes the entire game worth playing, and I strongly recommend it to any boss lover out there for that reason alone. It's actually a bit difficult for me to choose between them (especially from the first half), but I think Reflux will always be my favourite.

Reflux is a Knaaren (with a hard 'k'), a powerful species of creatures that you, usually, can't do anything against, meaning you have to run from them. But this guy, the strongest of them all, you will have to face. That's a very effective way of immediately making him scary. He's no pushover either, and he fully deserves his reputation. With many different attack phases, and with no real safe spot anywhere, this is a fight that forces you to constantly move and adapt to your opponent, which in this case often requires some quick reflexes. Once he's been through a number of attacks, he rests his staff, allowing you to do damage. But he never stops attacking you, as you still have to dodge fireballs while moving close to him.

The fight is on a high note the whole way through, and never lets up for a second. With a foe that spends most of the fight being invincible, never gives you a break, has a ton of health and gets more dangerous the more you hurt him, this makes for one of the game's hardest battles by far, and the game treats it that way. It takes place in an underground arena surrounded by smoke and lava, watched by an audience of your enemies. The music is weird, yet fittingly intense, and the whole thing is like a little climax in itself, ending off the first half of the game with a bang.

 

Has there ever been a movie that had an evil training montage? Like, it's just a montage of the bad guy getting stronger, and instead of feeling motivated, you're supposed to be scared? Because, for some reason, that's what the music of the Wardens makes me think about.

As for the Wardens themselves, they don't get a mention here for their difficulty (they are kinda easy), but for the system that they represent. In most open world crime games, once you get the highest possible wanted rating, it stays like that until you either die or somehow manage to run and hide for long enough for it go down. In Saints Row IV, getting the highest rating triggers this boss, and beating it takes the rating down to zero. That is goddamn revolutionary, and the real reason I put this one on here. It is at once a punishment and a reward for the chaos you've caused, and it's kicked off by such a sweet intro, with the Warden falling from the sky and roaring at you, and the music kicking off.

I once fought one at the top of a skyscraper, and managed to have both of us fall off during the final blow. Killed the bastard before I landed among the clueless, virtual citizens. Instant mood change. Suddenly, the fight felt like a distant memory, despite having happened seconds ago. Looking back, I think that was the moment that I really started to appreciate the Wardens.

They may not present that much of a challenge, but they are memorable for many other reasons.

 

Oh yea, catching up on those Zelda bosses!

I believe the excited fellows at ScrewAttack described this one fairly well in that one video. Originally I wanted the first Darknut to take its place during this round, but that one will have to wait. Priorities!

Strangely, it seems like Zelda bosses tend to be either extremely cute or demonic abominations, and while the Dead Hand will probably always be the scariest thing in the entire series, Stallord is by far the most metal! A huge, skeletal torso with long arms and a demon-like head. Or dragon-like. Is... is this Spyro!? Is this what's happened to him!?

Spyro or not, the boss is amazing. You fight him using the most ridiculous item ever, a huge spinning top, which you use to surf around and hit him in the spine while he tries to grab you. He also raises a bunch of warriors from the dead to essentially act as goalies, as they try to prevent you from reaching his spine by standing in your way. There's even a second phase, in which you use the top to grind on the walls and basically chase his floating head around while avoiding his attacks. The entire thing is absolutely balls crazy.

What's even crazier is that Nintendo had Lamb of God do the music for this boss, as they felt it was the only appropriate way to do it. It's so weird that they would do that, but hey, I agree with them. It was a good decision overall, and I'm glad that it's a thing that they actually did, and not some bullshit that I made up because I thought the actual music was kinda dull compared to Stallord's design. Yup, glad that wasn't the very specific case.

Moving on!

 

In the first blog, I already had a gif of a Darksiders boss prepared for a proper mention, but I hadn't gotten very far in the game at that point, so I decided to hold off any mention of a boss from that game until I had completed it. It's a good thing that I did so, because this game has far better bosses later in the game. Many of them were a challenge, but Silitha gave me the most trouble by far, as she forced me to master a pattern rather than just learn it.

Silitha's attacks do tons of damage to you. Makes enough sense, as she pretty much uses her entire body weight against you, by teleporting over you and letting gravity do the work, when she isn't attacking you directly. Both attacks have to be avoided by dodging, which sounds simple enough. Dodging is a big part of the game's combat, so naturally, you should be pretty good at it by this point in the game.

But no. It is not nearly as easy as it may sound. See, simply pressing the dodge button isn't enough to escape an attack. You have to learn to use directions to your advantage, and in this case, do so by looking at Silitha's shape (and shadow), which lets you know where the closest safe spot is. Even then, you aren't given a long time to look, so you have to think quickly, and time your moves right, which is then made harder once she starts teleporting all over the place in an attempt to throw you off. When you actually get a chance to do damage while she rests, you will rarely make it over without using the grappling hook, which still doesn't reach all that far.

In short, there is a lot of things going on with this boss, and Silitha did kill me a lot of times. While most bosses in the game were mostly challenging because I didn't know how to hurt them, I knew how to hurt Silitha from the beginning of the fight, yet she still beat me multiple times. For that, she is definitely worth a mention here.

 

So far I've been avoiding fighting game bosses. Not because I dislike them, but because it's such a vague definition. They are almost always playable characters that you can unlock for yourself, and this is usually what most people remember them as. But I don't want to exclude them either, so I guess it's time to introduce them to the zone, and I'm starting with the one that's closest to my heart: Heihachi Mishima from Tekken.

I chose his Tekken 3 incarnation specifically, because that's the first one I played, and because of the remarkable achievement of being far harder than the actual final boss, Ogre. Ogre has a cool design and theme and everything, but he's child's play after dealing with Heihachi, who never fails to put up a fight. His style is a very heavy version of (classic) Jin's, and he's got some mean, hard hitting combos, as well as some brutal throws. He also has that one counter move that you never see coming, in which he pretty much kicks you across the room. This guy is no joke.

Jinpachi from Tekken 5 would also be worthy for a spot here, but he has a lot of weird, supernatural moves that are a bit too flashy for my taste (when it comes to fighting games). What I like about Heihachi his old fashioned toughness. He kicks your ass with nothing but his martial art skills, and has no need to breathe fire, shoot lasers, teleport or fly around in order to do so, which all the supernatural bosses rely on. He's just a buff old man who won't take anyone's shit, and that's a big reason why I like him so much.

I have become very familiar with his moveset ever since he became my main, so the fight against him has naturally gotten a bit easier over time, but the memories of him kicking the ass of my ass will stay with me forever.

Oh, and his music rocks!

 

"Oh, but those aren't real bosses you idiot, you never have to fight them."

Well, you know what you are? An anti-dragonite! Well, that and a non-existant strawman.

I know that these probably aren't technically considered to be bosses in a traditional sense, as they are avoidable obstacles, but the Blood Dragons have a lot in common with most bosses. They do a lot of damage, take a lot of hits to kill, and always require your full attention whenever they are close. Because of this, I still consider them bosses, and them being optional to fight doesn't change that.

Aside from being huge and fast, Blood Dragons have the ability to fire lasers out of their mouths. This makes a fight against these creatures much more intense, considering the increased range of their attacks. Add to that a very smart and organic AI, and you have an endless possibility of exciting combat scenarios, as a Blood Dragon can appear anywhere on the map (except in water).

Interestingly, you also have the option of using them to your advantage, and turn them against regular enemies. This is very helpful for taking over enemy territory, even though it might leave you and the Blood Dragon alone by the end, depending on how efficiently the enemy soldiers fought.

When you get a certain super weapon by the end of the game, these creatures unfortunately become way easier to fight, and it's a shame that they don't get to stay threatening. But during most of the game, they are still rulers of the jungle, and the've made for some very memorable fights.

So happy I chose the Blood Dragon in the round that uses red.

 

Are you a HUGE Member? If yes, you probably know about all the perks you have access to, such as increased site customization. Every HUGE Member gets to upload their own, very special background, and I have been so kind as to make one themed after Boss Fight Appreciation Zone, featuring bosses of all different shapes and sizes, for all of you out there who love to put up a good fight!

Here you go!

Unfortunately, it only really works on a widescreen monitor, and making a resized version is tricky, because the amount of space available on each side changes, meaning a complete redesign. I hope you widescreeners like it though.

Furthermore, for all the Steam users who are reading, feel free to follow my curator, Boss Lovers, to find some of the games with the best boss fight that the service has to offer. Most of them have already made an appearance here, so now you have a nice, comfortable list of the BFAZ games that are available on Steam. It's not all of them, sadly, but there are more than you might think.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!

I'd like to do something special for the distant Round 5, by having a fun little exercise that happens to be relevant to the theme:

Are there any characters you would like to see as game bosses?

From any media, really. It doesn't have to be restricted to movies or TV, it can be anything from books to music to sports to cereal boxes. Anything you can think of.

Some examples:

O-Ren Ishii from Kill Bill

Skilled at swordfighting, and one of my favourite characters from the movie.

Mike Ehrmantraut from Breaking Bad

Has proven himself to be a very clever, tactical guy, who comes up with a lot of ways to mess with you on the spot.

René Dif from Aqua

His voice is a deadly weapon in itself.

As you can see, I'm not necessarily looking for detailed descriptions here. I'd just like to see some fun suggestions. Excited to see what you peeps can think of! :)

 

What a bunch of craziness! Well, we're about to wrap this round up, but before we do so, I'd like you folks to participate in a little community vote thingy. See, there's a bunch of game related subjects I'd like to blog about, all of which are somewhat related, but I need to find out where to put my focus. As such, I've come up with three blog titles, each covering a theme, and I'd like to know what people are the most interested in.

a)

In which I talk about 3D platformers, and do my best to explain their appeal, while highlighting influential examples.

b)

In which I talk about how tricky it is to turn a desert into an interesting level, and take a look at how different games pull it off.

c)

In which I talk about game environments in general, and what makes some of them more interesting than others.

All of these subjects are fun to me, but some of you might like one more than the other. Just write which one you'd like to see in a comment, and it counts as a vote. :)

As always, all of you are encouraged to share your favourite boss fights in the comments below, (or anywhere else), and any of them might have a chance of making it to the next round.

This is it for now. I'm out!

 


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