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A great gift to me is something that qualifies the phrase, "the gift that keeps on giving." And what better gift is there that has more to give then what it initially offers then a good old fashioned fighting game? 2008 sounds so recent but it was six whole years ago. But 2008 was the release of Street Fighter IV and the proof of concept that fighting games weren't just a fad in the late 90's. It was a time of new blood. When Street Fighter II first made a splash, it damn well dried out the pool despite other big series starting up around it like Mortal Kombat and King of Fighters. But the pool reopened in 2008 and they even installed a water slide baby!
I was watching YouTube videos of Japanese arcades obsessively in class when I should have been paying attention. I sunk hours flunking Street Fighter IV's challenges and online lobbies. I got good with Blazblue, with their comprehensive starter guides that came packed in as DVDs. When a new fighter announced, released, overlooked, I found the hype. When SFIV singlehandedly jump started the long dead fighting game genre, it also stirred memories of classic games in the following years like how indie games patterned after classic games are now. And where most games will feel won and done in a month or two, DLC forgiving, fighting games have a meta that evolves and changes over an expanse of time, rejuvenating it sometimes. Fighting games used to be just another genre for me before, but when 2008 came, everything changed. Fighting games are a culture to me now.
Take Taiwan's Gamerbee for example. While characters like Akuma or Cammy were common sights back then, Gamerbee made a powerful showing with Adon of all characters. Now it's not as if Capcom directly responds to balance via what happens in major tournament, so even after EVO 2012, Adon was mechanically the same as before. But Gamerbee provided a proof of concept for Adon's capability and his usage became ever slightly higher after that. Heck, I gave Adon a try after seeing Gamerbee in action. All the zeitgeist needs is one particular show of impressive skill and showmanship and the shape of a game can change completely.
But there are also the endless references and moments that fighting games are so famous for. Dark Phoenix was once thought to be the plague of Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and while her usage has gone down due to her risk, her power as Dark Phoenix is still very real. When Ageojoe fought Filipino Champ during Final Round XV, Joe was particularly known for running with a somewhat unconventional team consisting of Viewtiful Joe, Rocket Racoon, and Frank West. But Joe proved that actions speak louder than goofy gimmicks because he beat Filipino Champ with weird tech not once, but twice. First was a genius move with Frank using a combination of Barrel Roll's invulnerable frames and Funny Face Smasher to utterly annihilate Dark Phoenix in one shot. Second was a goofy mistake on Champ's part when he forgets about Rocket's Mad Hopper trap and loses in the most hilarious fashion possible.
And of course the title is an homage to Combofiend's infamous exploits with Spencer from Bionic Commando and his spectacularly versatile Bionic Lancer hyper combo, better known as the bona fide Bionic Arm. I liked playing Spencer before when he was relatively unknown but when Combofiend demonstrated to the world what Spencer was capable of, there was no doubt that his usage shot through the roof for the relatively simple powerhouse with the wife arm. There are a lot of moments worth mentioning from a variety of games like wombo combo, Tokido's real life raging demon, Smash Bros. Melee raising money for charity, and Mango Sentinel. A tournament even runs called Curleh Mustache!
I've written about fighting games before. They are an endless thrill. I've thrown hours into training mode for all sorts of games. I've experienced the mad cap pace of Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. I've played Skullgirls with my girlfriend with through the ubiquity of Steam. I've played countless runbacks with my friends on Persona 4 Arena, Blazblue: CS, Smash Brothers, and Injustice: Gods Among Us.
Thank you fighting games. You aren't just fun, but also a bridge to meeting people. I've befriended countless people, both life long and casual. There's always someone I know personally or something from Dtoid that I know I can hit up for the occasional test of might. Even jumping into random matchmaking can sometimes leave me feeling satisfied just as Ryu from Street Fighter would be: conferring to each other our passion of fighting games by exchanging blows and virtually beating each other senseless. Countless unranked lobbies and connections, where there were no hard feelings, or maybe someone was mad salty. Maybe I decide to take Zangief or Kanji out for a spin and they decided randomly to try Juri or Yukiko. Maybe I never wised up to the constant reversals and DPs and lost far more health than I should have. Even in the harshest of conditions, against someone I have no real method of communication with, pride just falls by the wayside and I decide to play as some weird Jigglypuff I have in my pocket or Chipp Zanuff. Winning is great but if no one's having fun than what's the point? That's why at some point I just forget about any win ratio and start goofing off with Viewtiful Joe or Gold Lightan.
This season, its all about Smash, possibly the best example of just jumping into For Glory, playing a few rounds to measure each other's skill, then just the inevitable moment when you stop caring about seriously winning and just starting playing random new characters like Zelda or Wario. Merry Christmas to you all, and season's beatings!
Whenever a new legendary is introduced, it's usually assumed that it'll fall into one of two tiers of power: OverUsed, which means its powerful and popular to use in team building, and ubers, which means its too powerful for normal play and only deserves to fighting against other ubers. For those of you who don't know, not all Pokemon are obviously made equal. Masquerain is a cute little Pokemon but its base stat total flats at 414 while Arceus, the god of Pokemon, sits at 720. Over the life of the Pokemon metagame there have been contenders who obviously held certain advantages that made team building easy. After all, why struggle thinking of good teammates to support a steel-type like Aggron with his slow, bulky ass when you can just slap Agility on Metagross and call it a day? But some Pokemon have it way easier than others. At least Metagross has checks and counters to switch away from. He's not like a snowball who becomes impossible to stop if you give him a chance.
Mega Rayquaza has the unique distinction and precedent of being the first Pokemon Smogon has banned from ubers. That's right: Mega Rayquaza has been banned from the normal play of a tier that is considered to be too strong for normal play. Part of this is from Mega Rayquaza's ridiculous base stat total, which is 780. Arceus, a deity in the Pokemon world, is a whole 60 points short. And while both Mega Mewtwo forms can tie Mega Rayquaza in the numbers department, Mega Rayquaza has one other ace in the whole: a unique mega evolution trigger. The Mega Mewtwos need to hold their respective mega stones to mega evolve, leaving behind options like choice items to instantly boost their power or leftovers for passive health regen. Mega Rayquaza only needs to know the move Dragon Ascent in order to mega evolve, being explained that Rayquaza was the first Pokemon to mega evolve after eating juicy meteorites for breakfast to support the rest of its immortal life filled with vitamin OP.
Afraid that your opponent is going to run away with a clean sweep? Bring out your bulkiest wall and cripple them! It's why I always have a Rotom or Gourgeist ready to take a hit and Will-o-wisp. But I'm afraid there ain't a wall alive that can live through Mega Rayquaza if it's absolutely armed to the teeth. Dragon Ascent is 120 BP, 180 BP when you consider STAB, flying off the handle from a 180 ATK stat and flinging itself out of orbit with items like Life Orb or Choice Band offering an instant 30 or 50% boost to ATK respectively. Something like that would overkill something like Charizard twice over. Mega Rayquaza's stats combined with the option to hold items lets it punch straight through the roof that is the sky and climb straight into the stratosphere.
Mega Blaziken can earn quite a few nicknames depending on who you ask: Destroyer of Worlds, The Mountain Crusher, Sky Cleaver, or That Damn Flaming Chicken. Mega Blaziken is a great representative of the general philosophy of what happens when you give a mega evolution too many tools to build up an unbeatable steam explosion.
Technically, Blaziken with Life Orb is said to have more raw kicking power. But Mega Blaziken is certainly easier to implement. Just mega evolve, swords dance, and if your opponent failed to kill you in that turn while Speed Boost kicks in, you win unless you hit the 10% miss chance a few times in a row. Obviously you can stop it with the likes of Azumarill but then that means you're putting an Azumarill on every team you plan because of your crippling PSTD induced flashbacks of when the damn bird crushed you under his foot, literally.
Mega Kangaskhan is just like Mega Blaziken, but worse to deal with in some aspects. What if you could simeltaneously attack and use Swords Dance? That's Parental Bond plus Power-up Punch for you, letting Mega Kangaskhan duplicate its attack. You know what's worst? Mega Kangaskhan has Sucker Punch for priority. Want to kill it with priority of your own? Not before it royally screws you over, if you can kill it at all.
Look, I love mega evos as an exciting new mechanic. While its like giving a 9-year-old a nuke in his back pocket, it gives all the relevant 9-year-olds nukes and creative teams still have ingenuity plus a nuke. Personally I like Mega Pinsir but he's still fragile beyond his destructive power. But there are of course a handful of megaa who were suspect tested to ubers and everyone has a story to tell. Mega Gengar? Shadow Tagged your ace didn't it? Mega Salamence? It's unfair how it gets boosted offense and defense. A lot of megas simply fit this bill of absurdly powerful headache. Not all mind you, and I still love megas in general, but try not to panic when Mega Charizard Y rolls in with Drought.
Remember Pokemon Red and Blue? Alakazam remembers! Can you believe there was a time when Alakazam rules the metagame? Back then, times were simple and made less sense. Special was one stat, governing attack and defense of special attacks like Surf and Thunderbolt and psychic-types had no natural enemy. If you didn't take the time out to train a simple Abra into the number one champion of Kanto then you simply didn't care, obviously.
Not only did Alakazam have high special attack, but since it was one stat back then, it could shrug off Surf from Starmie or Thunderbolt from Gengar. Oh, Gengar? His only ghost attack back then was Lick and it didn't even work properly against psychic-types. Remember on the OG cartoon show where Ash was recommended to catch a ghost-type in order to beat Sabrina and her Kadabra? That advice was tantamount to sabotage because while Haunter and Gengar were all well and good as special attackers, being part Poison-type was a liability against Kadabra simply using a STAB boosted Psychic. The only checks against Alakazam are Pokemon that can't really do much against Alakazam like Starmie or Chansey but the checks go both ways; neither one of them can really hurt Alakazam so much as Alakazam doesn't really hurt them.
Man, Ash is the worst Pokemon Trainer ever.
Legendaries and ubers are normally off the table when I want to talk about annoyingly powerful Pokemon because of course an uber is powerful. But Kyogre is special to mention for not only being powerful but automatically making an entire team built around Lyogre powerful. Back before gen VI reared its grotesque head, the gen V landscape was covered with more water than a Perfect Storm sequel. Since Drizzle and Drought were permament weather effects back then, Kyogre made a handful of water Pokemon unbelievably strong just by stopping by and asking his neighbors if they had any sugar before popping back home.
Kyogre was as bulky as you'd imagine a supernatural orca to be, but with its rain, everyone would get acquainted with abilities like Swift Swim and Hydration. Kingdra, Kabutops, Omastar, and Floatzel are just a handful of Swift Swimmers that encouraged the combo of Drizzle + Swift Swim to be banned from OU. Kingdra moving first means having free reign to abuse its typing and power on anything not built to taking punishment. Meanwhile Vaporeon, Toxicroak, and Manaphy could wall and stall thanks to the rain keeping them healthy. 1/3 health left? Vaporeon used Rest! Full health recovery and a rainy wake up call! Toxicroak doesn't even need to waste turns on recovery. Toxic Sludge and Dry Skin passive recovery gives him like, 1/6 of his total health back every turn. Even without a rain-centric ability, getting a 50% boost to attacks like Surf, Scald, and Hydro Pump will hurt regardless of resistances. Not to mention making Thunder and Hurricane 100% accurate, which makes throwing a check to block your water-types riskier with powerful attacks like those blowing past bulky waters and grass-type counters, among others.
I mentioned Azumarill before as an important check to the mega metagame but that of course means you'll be seeing a lot of that water mouse too by virtue of people trying to keep the megas under control. Azumarill isn't just good at checking megas though. Natural bulk, an ability that makes his mediocre ATK really good, and access to STAB priority in Aqua Jet makes dealing with Azumarril with anything that can't take a strong hit a real headache. Azumarill is one of my favorite examples in what a diverse array of sets and items can do to make predicting attacks hard. I prefer Choice Band to hit hard right off the bat and switch him in and out like a pocket rocket but people can bluff Choice sets by spamming a strong move, especially against specific Pokemon who are so weak that you're unsure of the damage calculations. Azumarill can also wear an Assault Vest, shrugging off attacks it would normally fear like Thunderbolt while its typing lets it power through most other attacks others would worry about like Hi Jump Kick or Outrage.
Azumarill is an example of gen VI's reliance on priority. Aegislash, the steel/ghost sword Pokemon can safely boost with Swords Dance while in shield form and can even boost twice if you're confident in its defenses. Most sets will then spam Shadow Sneak for priority and you'd be amazed how much a STAB 40 BP attack will hurt after +4 ATK. Then he can stop physical attackers cold in their tracks if they make contact with his signature King's Shield defensive move. Not to mention Aegislash is known to be physical then once in every blue moon you get thrown through a loop by a special attacking Shadow Ball user.
Talonflame is another priority abuser and while its not necessarily super bulky, the fact that its ability Gale Wings adds +1 priority to all flying-type moves, Talonflame sets are extremely diverse but united under the fact that Talonflame will always move first. Choice Band set? Brave Bird hurts a lot. Life Orb set? Now he can Roost off Life Orb damage. Bulk Up set? Hard to kill when Roost goes first. But all of them have a STAB 120 BP attack ready to go before anything else. Not to mention having automatic priority means your EV training spread can be diverse. Bulk in defenses? Why not? All in attack and HP? Ok! Speed means nothing until you're worried about... Azumarill, again.
Do you have certain Pokemon you dread to face in battle? Tyranitar bringing in constant sandstorms. Slowbro walling physical hits and using Regenerator to switch out and regain health. Garchomp and his speedy little STAB Earthquakes? Let me know in the comments what you groan at seeing in battle online and with friends. My friends back in gen V probably grew to hate my rain supported Omastar.
There are a lot of great series out there with seemingly inexplicable staying power despite one of their bullet points being, "Don't change too much."
I just beat Pokemon Alpha Sapphire after a long binge on it. I played it at home, during breaks at work, and even after Thanksgiving dinner. After having beaten the Delta Episode (with still Battle Resort to go!), I felt like putting my thoughts down on what was one of the most impressive Pokemon adventures I've had yet. Remember, this is coming from a long time Pokemon fan who's played the game since Red/Blue back in 1998.
Impressive flare and presentation
Even when X and Y came out, with its introduction of a full 3D engine on the 3DS, it was still definitnely a Pokemon game in certain aspects. While characters and gym leaders come and go, there's no splash or staying power. Remember Grant? I bet you don't but he's the gym leader in X and Y who was the Rock-type trainer. So naturally his characterization was a rock climber! HAHAHA. Meh.
Here's one of my favorites though and his name is Crasher Wake (Japanese name: MAXIMUM MASK). Yeah, you don't even find out his real name. He wears an insane mask like a luchador and is a Water-type gym leader. Water can only be jazzed up so many times and when it is, it's usually a swimmer or a diver, but Crasher Wake is memorable because he dresses up like a wrestler because he's going to freaking pummel you like tidal wave. Now that's character design and presentation.
It's nice to see that since we're dealing with a game who's source material is over 10 years old, Game Freak has gone through the trouble of adding some extra pizzaz to the game. Flannery straight up shouts at you like she's panicking at a public speaking session and Norman is downright bushido when you meet with him and he's canonically you're father. And I've already mentioned the rise of Wally leading up to your fateful showdown in Victory Road. That battle truly took me by surprise and ranks as one of my favorite moments in Pokemon now.
But it's much more than the characters though. X and Y had your usual pedestrian camera views and perspectives. Black and White was the last game to offer something unique with Castelia City's sprawling diorama presentation of its huge skyline and docks. But in ORAS, a great deal of attention has gone into giving your typical Pokemon experience a cinematic experience. Close ups on sprites, pans on characters in their full body, a view of important landmarks and strangely emotive characters which all the more makes your typically unemotive trainer stand out.
By the time I had finished the Elite 4 and gotten through the Delta Episode, I walked away thinking that the package as a whole would definitely be one of the most memorable for a Pokemon fan. From encountering your cover legendary, battling unique trainers in 3D, and journeying to Ever Grande City, the whole experience was suitably epic.
Everything old, new again
I thought I'd feel deja vu picking one of the old Hoenn starters again but for some reason, seeing my Mudkip grow and evolve despite having a Swampert in X and Y still felt like I was growing a brand new Pokemon rather than one I felt like I've seen before. I guess things really are different in 3D now, because seeing all my favorites from the Hoenn region in 3D in this new metagame felt less deja vu and more an exciting new adventure.
I decided to use Pokemon Bank but I didn't cheat all the way through. I only used Pokemon near the same level as my current party and most of them were Pokemon from Black and White's old Dream World with their hidden abilities. Not only could I experience the Hoenn adventure in 3D with old Pokemon but I got to play around with new toys firsthand like a Fighting-type sumo Pokemon, Makuhita, using Sheer Force to sacrifice extra effects for more power. Or the fossil plant Lileep with Storm Drain, completely shutting down any member of Team Aqua I came across.
Everything worth complaining about
I will say up front that the long dreaded water routes have either been compressed or they weren't as bad as I remembered. I certainly had a Sharpedo to surf on to speed up the whole process (surfing on Sharpedo is faster than normal) but any route travelling north is a ridiculous trudge. Before hitting Lavaridg Town to reach the fire gym, you make close to an entire loop around the mountain before the game lets you hit the cable car up. Then there's the route to Fortree City which is fraught with rain, grass, trainers, and more rocky trails than you can shake a Bidoof at. Hoenn's water ways feel compressed but there sure is a whole lot of nothing in the countryside in between traveling to gyms for matches and discovering an eco-terrorism plot.
Speaking of a whole lot of nothing, it's weird they revealed the inclusion of the Delta Episode as a big part of promotions but not Battle Resort, especially considering the weight of what each represents. You'll most likely be testing real teams at Battle Resort and grind out battle points for important battle items like the choice items but it's not really mentioned in promotional materials. On the other hand, the Delta Episode is a long slog of fetch quests and rendevous without a lot of pay off asides from a few mind blowing lines. The impact the Delta Episodes implies with the fact that we're playing a remake that's discovered mega evolution while the original source obviously did not is truly a curious case that's worth mentioning but it's not worth an hour of flying back and forth between locations to trigger story events without so much as a meaningful battle.
Yes, the exclusion of trainer customization is a big blow, but a lot of the other features do a lot to make up like BuzzNav locating variants that come with egg moves and the new social aspect of Secret Bases. But hopefully the next Pokemon won't be weighed down by legacy to consider bringing trainer customization back with hopefully more to bring to the table for male trainers. Since I thought the male trainer in ORAS looks goofy, I played as the cute female trainer recognized as May in anime adaptations but named her after my girlfriend, just to keep a root in reality for creativity's sake.
But that's all there is I have to say for now. Pokemon will likely be on my mind for a long time coming. From talking about our favorite teams and who we'd have as a gym leader to one interesting topic about how powerful Mega Rayquaza is but for now I think it's safe to say that I've gotten my thoughts out well enough for someone who's played the latest Pokemon game after playing pretty much every Pokemon RPG game before it.
I'm just glad to be on my damn computer again. For three whole days, I've had none of my regular Internet access. The only way I could connect to the net was through my phone's 4G LTE connection. That explains the comments I've left during the time I've described and why I haven't done much else. Despite paying for unlimited data, I feel guilty about relying on my phone's 4G to do things like watch YouTube when I used to do it off wifi. I wasn't motivated to do anything on my laptop since I had no Internet. No syncing with Evernote, which is where I like to do most of my creative work, no online matchmaking for games like Smash, no Miiverse to see posts on Mario 3D World, no wifi to properly watch all my streaming like Hulu, Netflix, or Crunchyroll. I'm so behind on my usual show watching schedule. I'm only posting this now because I'm currently at school bumming off their wifi. I still needto wait on a technician from my ISP to deal with my modem which seems to be on the fritz. Last thing I managed to watch was Parasyte, which at least featured the turning point that I knew I was going to love. I don't even mind posting on Monday because as we're all familiar with now, Smurf constantly has stuff going on keeping him from recapping Mondays. I wasn't always a recapper and was always mindful of what day I was posting due to what recapper (hey Wednesday cbloggers! Whatever!). But before I get into Parasyte...
Birthday art attack
Look at this neat little diddy. 4 weeks ago, a week before my girlfriend's birthday, I commissioned an old art friend of mine to draw something I had pictured in my mind for my girlfriend's birthday. What if for her birthday, I gave her her very first Pokemon? So I brainstormed a piece of art with my friend.
I think the female trainer from Black/White had a great wardrobe, possibly my favorite of any female trainer. As for me, my favorite gen wasthe RSE gen, so I opted for the male Emerald trainer getup. Cosplaying as trainers would be cool for a Pokemon oriented piece of art. Igave my friend her choice of my favorite Pokemon to feature as my helper, either Aron or Makuhita. Their base forms make more sense in interacting whereas Aggron and Hariyama are much too big to be intimate helpers, because I knew I'd want to give my girlfriend an Eevee! After all those specified details, the rest wasup to my friend's artist liberties. After all,just giving my girlfriend a Pokeball that has an Eevee would be lame.
We're now both using it as our phone wallpapers. After asking Mike Turvey of Dtoid fame for a Dtoid crew picture, it was a bit jarring going back to my friend for a more analog commission that she had to scan in compared to Mike's all digital, high-rez art. But in the end it all turned out quite well!
I always knew the Pikmin series was good. I played the first one and knew it was good. But it was never a beloved series to me. It's just one of Nintendo's greats. Since the demo came out recently, I figured, why not? I didn't expect to be so enthralled by it though, even being sold on it. I want Pikmin 3 now.
Could it be that Pikmin 3 has a great deal more personality? The way Alph and Brittany talk to each other in the demo and their reactions to meeting the Pikmin was cute and fun. Pikmin 3 is undoubtedly more natural than the previous two well. While Pikmin 1 and 2 has various manmade treasures with hints of a disappeared humanity, Pikmin 3 is much more about the gentle beauty of nature and harvesting juicy fruits. A lime is called a Zesty Bomb after all. I'd forgotten how endearing it is for alien life to name our everyday household marvels.
Apparently there are different control schemes? Because the demo locks you into Gamepad mode, with your left hand using the stick and L-trigger exclusively while your hand handles the stylus on the touch screen. I found this control scheme very natural though. I liked it even more than Pikmin 2's Wiimote pointing control scheme.
Parasyte: The Maxim spoilers
The most interesting thing about Parasyte is the questioning of one's humanity. Shinichi assertshe is undeniably human and that the aliens could never understand what separates us from normal animals. As the series progresses though, we're left to question what humanity means. Mysterious observer Reiko Tamura is a keenly scientific parasite who willing has sex with another alien-human host for an experiment that proves that while Reiko may be an alien, she is pregnant with what should be a perfectly normal human. Later on nearing the end, Shinichi meets a serial killer who is human but is irreconcilably inhuman in how he views life.
In the latest episode of Parasyte, its apparent that in order to save Shinichi from bleeding out, Migi's lifesaving procedure cause celluar bits of Migi to shave off and be absorbed by Shinichi's body. The end result is Migi's sleep cycle becoming a crucially deeper state of hibernation and Shinichi becoming something a little different than a superhuman.
Its been hinted through the series up to this point that Shinichi's humanity isn't as pure as he thinks it is. People sense and instinctively back away from some dark, frightening presence inside of Shinichi whenever he's backed into a corner. Particularly acute people ocassionally ask Shinichi if, "He really is Shinichi Izumi?" Like he somehow seems like a different person.
Now that Shinichi's mother is dead and he's merged with Migi, the series will really pick up like in the manga. Shinichi gains a drive of revenge against the parasites. He simultaneously becomes more confident in his abilities and more detached from his friends and family. I cannot wait to see the anime adaptation of the finale!
Did you guys hear about these new consoles? They're called the Xbox One and the PS4, in honor of their predecessors: The one true ring, said to bear the mysterious markings of a box with an X in it and Paul Sabbur IV, the greatest war chief a small village in Ubekistan had ever known. Apparently with the name power of these great achievements alone has allowed these next-gen consoles to really bloom.
You know what's not next-gen? The Wii U. You know what I bought on impulse after finally chucking my Xbox 360? The Wii U. Think Nintendo is/was/has been dead? Long live Nintendo.
I walking into my Best Buy, knowing it would give me the best value for my Xbox. I also consciously went there because 1) my eBay account was mysteriously and unceremoniously slapped with demerits keeping me from selling and 2) they were giving me $40 more on the trade in then other places. I had intended on just going in, getting the credit, and waiting out for Black Friday deals. But I decided to browse around after getting $115 for my entire shabang and low and behold, I saw it: the Wii U Deluxe bundle with Mario 3D World. After that, it was all a haze and next thing I knew, I was standing outside with a Wii U in my arms and a $200 dent in my credit card. I was suddenly overcome by great awe, guilt, and excitement. The last time I made a big purchase was a 3DS for my girlfriend and that purchase still lingers on in my statements as a crater representing how much money I could have without altering my spending habits. And now I've done it again on one of the most impulsive purchases I'd ever done. I seriously saw it, realized how rare a chance it was to see this bundle in stock for once, and just snapped it up. I have to start fasting soon if I actually want to earn a profit.
There are a lot of people who are the type who will ask, "Why on Earth did you ditch your perfectly good, working, Xbox 360?" To answer that question, I'm a very pragmatic gamer. Sure, if I held onto every game I'd ever owned, I'd have a rather substantial collection. But despite years of resenting my mother for telling me to throw out stuff that takes up space which I don't use, and being a pack rat who likes to keep a few little knick-knacks here and there, I've still developed a habit of keeping my space tidy and cutting off the fat so to speak. I have to face facts that no matter how much I love the Mass Effect series or how expansive an experience Skyrim is, their time in my rotation has passed. There may be a lot of DLC I haven't played in Skyrim but I can't go back to that game after having played a more recent stable of games. I played Shadow Complex some 6 odd years ago and I don't feel the need to revisit it. Even more reason on multiplayer focused games like Street Fighter IV or Injustice; online communities ebb and flow with relevance and immediacy. Playing Person 4 Arena within a month of release means you'll find people reasonably within your skill range of crappy to extremely competent. The older a game gets though, the more the audience matures and changes. Newbs get better and pros hone their craft while noobs eventually get tired of losing and get weeded out. Months after release, you'll be playing matches ranging between fair to getting curb stomped.
Time to face facts: new stuff is going to the more socially relevant consoles while publishers are doing a weird transition of cross-generational games in an effort of making shiny new games while keeping their old install base happy. The best solution to this problem is of course, to invest in a console that's still receiving new games without any weird circumstances. A console that's still technically the previous gen that is! But it doesn't stop at the prospect of brand new games like Yoshi's Wooly World or Captain Toad. There are a ton of Wii games I slept on since selling my Wii due to my faltering faith in the old system. For example, I can finally play Okami, the best game you've never played! Or Muramasa, the most beautiful game not in HD. And even Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom, which despite it not having online service would still be a hoot among friends.
I think many people can agree that Nintendo has our nostalgia sense by the balls. The Xbox and Halo is a great game, but that doesn't change the fact that many of us probably grew up wasting our childhood hours on Super Mario World or Kirby Superstar or something further back. If you're waxing nostalgic on a game like Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, you're not thinking back far enough or you're exceptionally young to my exceptionally old.
The Wii U and Nintendo is such a conundrum. On one hand, it's so bass ackwards and slow on the uptake on things I've taken for granted like online functionality and connectivity, media playback, and account consolidation. On the other hand, Nintendo stuff is so purely about fun without the extra stuff. There's less concern about DLC, season passes, and content gating. Perhaps in the simplicity of the software architecture, there's no space to implement some of the more insidious content wringing practices like content being locked away on disc. There are so many hoops to see if your friends are online so you can play together and yet I'm playing Super Mario 3D World with a big stupid grin of enjoyment. I can either tune my TV to play Nintendo games in HD, which is a selling point as we're maybe nine years past the widespread adoption of HDTVs, or I can keep my TV tuned to something like Regular Show while I play on my Gamepad.
I don't know if I'm jaded to it all or if there truly isn't anything that interests me on other consoles. For every game I'm mildly interested in which is cross-generational like Farcry 4 or even some geniunely interesting next-genners like Sunset Overdrive, there are games I am not interested in pursuing currently in like Shadow of Mordor or Assassin's Creed Unity and god know's what else is on the horizon. I cannot adequetely explain why I am so interested in Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker but fuck it all, I want that casual ass fun looking game. Look at him fucking run, collecting diamonds, and shout with all the genuine emotion of fun in the world.
Warning: As with any scary game, most will want to experience the spookiness fresh, without spoilers. The following will totally spoil Eversion in its entirety. Note that I'm so much of a scaredy cat that I still derived an amount of fun after hearing mild spoilers of the game but for purists, you should totally just play the game now. It's a cheap and quick thrill. You can probably beat it in a half-hour and come back to read this.
Cold, hard, lies.
Horror and I have an awkward relationship. I can't stand tension, dread, suspense, or the scaries. That rising heartbeat, the tensing of the muscles, leading up to an explosive outburst with a rush of adrenaline is something real horror fans thrive off of. That palpable feeling of terror is like a drug for most but I'm no addict baby, no siree. I ain't about that wacky tobacky Jack. I'm clean and sober and also a pussy, you see gee? Please don't scare me.
Resident Evil 4 is about the only game that's even remotely close to horror and we all know RE4 struck a balance between pants goldmine cave-in and Die Hard that only saw the balance slide in favor of Die Hard: The Musical. Any horror game people talk up, I simply look it up on YouTube and derive a poor, sad sense of satisfaction knowing that watching it is as far as I want to go, rather than play it and feel the dark clench of evil wrap around me like a slow fear fart creeping out of my cheeks. I stay out of horror's way and horror stays out of my way, you dig cat? It helps that horror is very clear in marketing: Silent Hill has deep, foggy covers, Resident Evil has gritty, dirty color schemes, and Outlast is just a disturbed mind trapped in night vision mode. So imagine how perplexed I was when I take a gander at a friend's Steam review of Eversion.
Huh? Lovecraft? With rainbow font?
Eversion's box art completely ignores the common traits many horror games use to indicate that it is indeed a spoopy game for people who want a spoopy time. The preview image is bright, cutesy, and is in no way threatening unless such a colorful palette was able to give you diabetes. What really doesn't add up is that you'll see this preview image first, then see the tags to confirm what kind of game it is. Is it a platformer? Yes. Is it indie? Yes. Is it Lovecraftian? Whoa, hold on a sec Jimmy, you lost me there. Did you just say Lovecraftian? And horror? This is just the start of our descent into the rabbit hole. The game doesn't begin at start for me. It started at the sales page where my senses tell me Mario rip-off but my eyes seem to be playing tricks on me. How does a game that uses as many pixels as the average NES game become a horror experience?
Turns out, less is more.
Eversion is about cliche as you can get in the beginning. You're a weird little dude named Zee Tee who must travel across the land in a left-to-right manner to find and rescue the fair princess of the Flower Kingdom. It's so simple in its conceit, it lures you in a that classic false sense of security. Go right, jump on monsters, and collect more stuff than an episode of Hoarders starring Banjo-Kazooie. In no time at all, you'll come to a roadblock by design. You can't move forward and there's no point in going back unless by go back you want turn off this game and go make a sandwich. So naturally you wander around the screen to find an eversion point. Zee Tee has the ability to cross over to parallel realities, which in this case allows him to bypass obstacles à la Nintendo dark worlds like Zelda or Metroid Prime. Early on you'll find eversion points that will allow Zee Tee to cross back and forth to exploit the different rules of each. In the first dimension for example, clouds are just background images. In the second layer however, they act like actual platforms you can jump on.
Notice how I painstakingly detail how you evert forward than evert back in one example though. In this very short game, you'll find eversion to be a subtly menacing mechanic. One which seemingly unravels your sanity each time you evert forwards in dimensions. Like a trans-dimensional travel machine gone wrong, you'll gradually evert fowards into alternate realities but not back to your happy, home dimension. Every time you evert forwards, the world loses a bit more color, a bit more music, and becomes more hostile and disturbed. It's easy to see as your enemies start out as happy little Goomba knock-offs and slowly transform into mute, expressionless oddities until finally becoming creatures possessed by an unspeakable madness. The music becomes a more and more twisted beat that urges you forward to escape your current reality until eventually you're playing in eerie silence. The landscape doesn't just become more desolate and sad but it becomes openly hostile to you. Ordinary bushes that prove to be simply background at first become thorny vines that kill you. I've played levels several times to collect items I'd missed before and the Lovecraftian horror claws still creep me out as they reach out to me from the depths of each blood red pool. Even the very mechanics and design of the game seem to go crazy, as if to confirm that the game isn't just going crazy; its trying to drag you down with it. The score counter goes insane, your deaths transform from simply animations to full on blood explosions, and by far the worst part of it is the small collection of randomly assigned splash messages which range from slightly humorous (Get ready... to die!) to downright horrifying after playing for awhile (Behind you).
What starts as a happy, joyful little journey gradually turns into an experience I wish would stop. In the beginning, sometimes I'd evert forwards someplace creepy than back to normalcy. Further in, I might evert forwards then go a few levels going back and forth, like I'm promised some amount of normalcy in this game. But the further you get to the impending end of this short game, the more you realize that you're only going to evert further and further into a nightmarish dreamscape which mirrors a descent into madness and stress. Eventually there is only silence save for the sound of your jumping and the hell claws that try to rend you into a thousand pieces of shattered confidence. No matter how much I prepared myself before buying this game that something was going to go horribly wrong, there's nothing quite like experiencing the jarring transition from depressing fields to 7th circle of hell for yourself.
There's a moment midway where a block is enticing you to hit it. Maybe something good will happen for once. Maybe this seemingly unimpressed face block can show me something better? But as soon as you hit it, the world around you comes crumbling down and the once somber world that linked you to a happier place has suddenly everted you forward someplace very dark and very disturbed with no hope of return. The face on the block is now frozen in an expression of sheer terror and all you can do is move forward and witness what else this sick little game will show you with its limited tech set. The worst part is that every time you've traveled dimensions before, it was by your will, after finding a very specific warp point. This time and further along, you'll find that just like a person going certifiably insane, there is no control and no warning to manic episodes of dementia. Once you start falling, you don't magically slow down thanks to prescription drugs or important story plot points. As if the power of eversion had been forbidden all along, you now find yourself plummeting into a pit of evil filled with malicious plant life, unnerving creatures, frightening claws, and in some levels a scrolling wall of doom and oblivion.
This game isn't really forgiving either. The platforming is strict and difficult like games of yore and you'll find yourself dying a lot in order to perfect runs and collect all the gems. Out of the many things that unnerve me, dying for the fifth time on a stage only to be greeted at the ready screen with, "I See You," makes me genuinely glance around my room nervously as if I really am being spied upon by some invisible, menacing force. Every frustrating death at a difficult curved jump or a super strict leap of faith while trapped in a world populated only by living nightmares leaves a piece of my sanity stranded in some negative zone as I trudge onwards into this god forsaken desert called a game.
The real kick in the balls is the ending. None of them, except maybe the last secret ending, are particularly happy endings. And all of them have an unnerving atmosphere of pure, 100%, unadulterated dread as the environment goes full on Lovecraft around you and the music transforms into something only appropriate when you're surrounded by impenetrable mists with someone, or something, lurking within them.
Eversion is a game that manages to disturb me at my core. It surpasses simple horror via jump scares like dumping cold water on me through sudden monster appearances. Instead Eversion soaks you in a warm bath, all the while slowly turning the heat up until its too late to realize that my blood is boiling from out of my skin. It promises scenes of cutesy color and systematically lowers you someplace dark and forbidden. Its like you assume your party host is dimming the lights for mood but it turns out he's just fading to black before turning you into his next Hannibal-inspired art piece. Perhaps this the kind of horror someone who doesn't have an active palette in horror should consume. Not necessarily through false promises and subversion but rather through a slow burn that puts you in a situation of terror and dread before you even realize it. Instead of wandering a dirty Spanish village and hearing a chainsaw go off in the distance to trigger my response, I'll wander an ordinary landscape for a few minutes, not noticing that the a fog is slowly choking my vision until a dark hand creeps onto my shoulder and whispers something unintelligible into my ear.
Crap, I just composed this all before going to bed.