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10 hours ago - 12:06 PM on 10.09.2015

In memory of Lesser Dog of the snow fields. 1 spaghetti = never forgetty


19 hours ago - 2:50 AM on 10.09.2015

Undertale: Thoughts from the underground

I've just finished only the second area of Undertale and I find myself with a profound feeling of wonder, accomplishment, awe, and just raw emotion along with some truly worthwhile chuckles. I've only clear what is essentially the second dungeon, the first real dungeon after the requisite tutorial dungeon where the training wheels are still on and I'm still riding an emotional high that drives me to talk about Undertale now while the emotions are still fresh on me.

This will not be outright spoilers, but I will talk about the impact of specific story moments, pretty much the first two dungeons, like I said. So pretty much, if you haven't played Undertale, this will spoil you. However, if you've played Undertale up to the second major boss fight, I'd love to talk shop, book club style. So yeah, nevermind what I said about it not being outright spoilers. They're just spoilers past this point.


Undertale was already reviewed by bbain this week but I hadn't even read that review until just now. Unlike a lot of games, I went into it completely blind but was enticed by the absolute saturation of social media presence it had, especially in the let's play department. Asides from feeling like I had to get in on the ground floor on this experience, I only knew one other thing that intrigued me a great deal: the trailer for the game made it obvious that a part of the battle experience was a sort of bullet hell mini-game. I also knew of the mercy mechanic since the sales pitch was, "The RPG where you don't have to kill anyone!"

My experience however, was probably that of 90% of people first playing the game, and I'm sad to believe that that means most start out killing poor Toriel. The game does a mild job of teaching you how to get monsters to back down and how you spare them but ultimately, many games grow up on RPGs believing in only one thing: kill that which blocks your path.Oh sure, it's easy on the random encounters because the method to getting them to back down is more transparent and even the mid-boss ghost drops clues on prodding him to move out of the way peacefully. But Toriel was different. The game had taught me talk to monsters, observe their change in behavior, and spare them. Yes, a froggit cryptically told me that sometimes, there will be moments where I must try being merciful despite no clear indication that your choice to yield peacefully to a monster has any effect, but like I said it was cryptic, at least so much more so while being reinforced by 20 years of RPG experience. So I try weakening Toriel a few times to see if I get her to yield eventually. But later on during the second area, a book reveals something about the fight option: that the monsters are inherently weaker than humans due to humans being made of real flesh and blood and monsters being composed of unstable magic. The more malicious the intent to kill is from the human, the more powerful their attacks ultimately become against monsters. This explains why eventually after doing steady damage to Toriel, you suddenly at one point perform overkill on her.

Yes, Toriel's death was sad. She clearly strains herself in pain while still trying to put on a brave face and be happy for you, the child, the protagonist. And when Toriel dies, her physical form fades away, and to really drive home the feeling of anguish you should be feeling (you monster) her soul, in the same shape as a heart as you, breaks.

Yes, Toriel's death was sad. But I didn't restart from one death. I was still in RPG mode. That Toriel's death might have been a sacrifice for the greater good. But then Flowey returns to taunt me and rubs it in my face about how I didn't even try to spare Toriel.

That really got me. Flowey, for all his appearance as an asshole flower, really shook me by the shoulders and forced me to realize this destructive way of thinking I had from years of playing 'the good guy' in RPGs and killing 'the bad guys'. So I restarted the game, thinking I could try a new run. And for those of you who have not tried replaying the game despite getting to my point and maybe further, the game once again shocked me. It actively told me that my mistakes didn't simply vanish. It knew, and it will always know.

On my second playthrough of the Ruins, things were queer. Characters seemed to remark on a feeling of deja vu. Not only did I pass through all the puzzles knowing already how to finish them but people acted as if they felt like they've gone through the song and dance before. While figuring out Toriel's fight on my second playthrough, trying to talk results with a remark of, "You remember seeing Toriel die before, but bringing that up now would be awkward."

Even after sparing Toriel from death, on my second meeting with Flowey, he still manages to push my face into the mud. He knew I had restarted. He knew I had killed Toriel before and that I spared her now. And he realizes that I, as he main character possess the same power as him: the power to save, and in actuality the power to change fate.

From then on, I found resolve to really look at the characters I meet as people inhabiting this space, rather than someone who is outright good or outright bad.The real star of this story were the skeleton brothers, sans and Papyrus. Sans, the goofy slacker and his try hard, dorkier brother Papyrus, both named after the fonts that boldly talk in. At every turn I meet them, they continue to reinforce the lesson I've learned, that the characters in this story are more than just black and white representations of morality. Papyrus should be the bad guy since he's motivated to capture a human so that he can join the Royal Guard. But ultimately the goofball repeatedly fails to intimidate anyone and even takes a liking to you. I particularly loved it when I came to his complicated sliding puzzle, and instead of continuing on like I usually would have, I decided to hear the wacky, almost Rube Goldberg-esque directions to his crazy puzzle again, and it turns out I was rewarded for my outside-the-box thinking with a revelation that the directions were even confusing him, to the point where he mixed up the colored traps, forgot some of them, and outright gave up on explaining his dastardly puzzle and opted to just leave the instructions on the ground before leaving and trusting you to read them and do the puzzle yourself (it doesn't even work!).

During the second boss fight, I had completely come around to the idea of always sparing at least major encounters due to how much I was having in figuring out the monsters up to this point in order to get them to yield. More importantly, by the time I reach Papyrus when he decides to get serious and try capturing me, I just liked the lovable bonehead too much. I decided I'd just have to dodge his so called infamous blue attack in order to stay true to these ideals I'd just realized were important to me. Showing mercy is more than just being a pacifist in Undertale. You meet and get to know the monsters inhabiting the underground and see who they truly are but ultimately your friendship is tested when a monster decides that your presence as a human is an anomaly in their life. Just how far will you go in order to preserve a friendship? For me, I grew to absolutely love Papyrus, for all it seems that he'd be better off not joining some royal guard. I didn't want to hurt this lughead who didn't even kill me when he decided his surekill death contraption was much too cliche for me to die by.

Through all his boney attacks, blue attacks, and the unexpected Pomeranian who carried away one of his attacks, I still wasn't going to kill him. And even if he killed me, I wouldn't be sad about it. I would stick to my ideals. Yes, I'd be restarting but even Flowey told me that there would be monsters who will come at me with 100% killing intent and that he was waiting for my to try and try again from my save point until I got frustrated and let my ideals cave. He literally said that, as if talking directly to me. But Undertale is a special game about realizing where you've come in life, how you make decisions, and ultimately after putting my thoughts down, a game about how far you will go to stick to your morals. This isn't just some paragon or renegade choice, where I get results but go about it as a nice guy or as a dick. This is either being someone who can live with murder, in a world that knows I've killed someone, or sticking to me ideals as a person, and never killing so long as the option to make it out alive myself is present. No matter how I'm tested, I won't kill a friend.

Or a really hilarious skeleton.

(Note: the music is really good too)


7:00 PM on 10.08.2015

My heart will always be yours, Papyrus #2spoopy4me


6:50 PM on 10.07.2015



10:09 AM on 10.05.2015

Finished Freedom Planet as Carol the wildcat. You may also know it as the best Genesis game in the past 5 years.


9:33 AM on 10.05.2015

Nobody is talking about Monster Hunter X

I considered talking about this months ago when Monster Hunter X was first announced, but I figured someone would bring it up eventually. It's been months and not a peep asides from your usual quips of uninterest like with most things that are somewhat niche. Like of course people will talk about Mario or Destiny but even after Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate's relatively successful entry, nobody really gives it any buzz. Monster Hunter has always been doomed to some sort of eternal obscurity and "I've never really gotten into this" kind of business but even though Monster Hunter X isn't considered a big, numbered entry to the series, the new mechanics look to be a big departure on how you play the game. Even if it is running off the MH4U engine, it's going to be bring some excitement to the series that isn't characteristic to usual MH shenanigans.

Look at this magnificence!

The reason I'm super interested in MHX is that the game is being created with a philosophy of empowering hunter to fight with more flashy moves and give each hunter more individuality and uniqueness in the way they hunter. Usually people who don't get into MH have trouble adapting to it's rigid and methodical combat system like how attacks have very specific cancellable frames and that players are expected to cancel animations at all. Currently, most weapons offer just one or two general strategies to utilizing them as explored by the community. For lances, people learn to guard lance or evade lance but for something like the great sword, there's generally only one way to use it, especially in terms of armor skills such as requisite skills like focus and quick sheath.

So there are now four styles you can adopt to hunt with: guild, aerial, bushido, and striker, along with new super moves or hunter arts that offer unique things from a highly damaging strike to creating passive healing zones. Personally, my weapons of choices are the dual blades and great sword. Even the guild style, which brings back the traditional movesets veteran hunters are used to, will offer some slight changes and buffs such as the new double back hop for bow users. The striker style offers three total possible hunter arts to equip, compared to guild's two and the one of the last two. Striker overall simplifies the combat hunters have learned from most modern Monster Hunter games in exchange for a diverse selection in hunter arts plus some more straightforward combat. Using great sword as an example, you can no longer use the super charged slash in combos, but charge speed for its primary charge is much faster. Charging for different moves is overall faster but combos are less complex. In all honesty though, I'm most excited to try aerial and bushido.

Take to the skies!

Aerial takes the concepts of verticality that MH4U brought forth and expands on it. Rather than limiting jump attacks to cliffs and the insect glaive's pole vault, aerial hunters trade their traditional evade for a tiny flip jump. While aerial hunters can still jump off cliffs for air attacks, performing a flip jump onto just about anything, from monsters to other hunters, results in a springboard kick that gives hunters ridiculous airtime and control to perform an expanded aerial moveset. I'm really excited by the aerial style because it offers a unique kind of high risk, high reward combat with a unique payoff of working towards a mount and knockdown. Of course, with more airborne moves available to all weapons, monsters have an overall higher tolerance to mounting than before.

Since aerial style replaces your normal evade with a slower flip, aerial hunters are more at risk in trying to evade damage normally, which in most cases involves reading the monster's cues and dodging to the left or right. Aerial style can't avoid side-to-side as well, but aerial style allows hunters to springboard over monsters instead for a more unconventional evasion while allowing for a simultaneous offensive at the same time. The strange thing is, to balance this unconventional mobility, many of the more powerful and important options for a given weapon is locked to being an airborne action in an altered form. For example, something as basic as the great sword's charge attack cannot be done on the ground but must instead be done in the air. Of course, the charge time is dramatically faster to compensate for the limited time you're airborne, but using a combat style in which your only viable way of avoiding damage is to charge straight at the monster sounds exciting! Plus who doesn't love the adrenaline rush of coming from up above and crashing down with a giant sword, a heavy hammer, or a flurry of swinging blades?

For me personally, as a dual blades lover, it's been shown that dual blades being used with aerial style are extremely flashy and offensive, featuring a shimmering storm of spiraling swings both on the way up and on the down.

Wait until the perfect moment

Bushido on the other hand is the answer to all evasion lovers' prayers everywhere. As it's been described so far, performing a perfect evade (or a perfect guard for the lances), allows the hunter to completely avoid an attack and deliver a powerful counterattack. Firstly, as long as your timing for a perfect evade is accurate, you won't need to devote points towards the actual evasion skill, which is a great in providing a place for my diversity in armor builds. Secondly, like the aerial style, certain core aspects of a weapon are removed from the normal moveset, instead being locked to after performing a perfect evade. The long sword for example cannot perform it's signature round slash to upgrade its spirit gauge normally but instead can only perform the spirit finisher after a perfect evade, though this will be balanced with less spirit energy being needed to perform the necessary spirit combo.

Many of my current armor sets include an evasion skill of some sort, at least +2 but +3 wherever possible simply because it's rewarding to avoid monster attacks by the skin of your teeth and continually attacking. But getting evasion +3 is a steep commitment in terms of armor selection plus the evasion skill doesn't even work well with dual blades since it uses an entirely different evasion animation compared to the usual dive. But as trailers show, it's entirely normal to perform perfect evades while using dual blades in demon mode, which is an entirely different evade animation which normally poses a problem in integration with the normal evasion skill.

There isn't much to be said about what's so cool about bushido style. But bushido is a part of a fundamental enjoyment of Monster Hunter: learning monster patterns and cues in order to better fight them when the odds against you never change much, no matter how good your armor and weapons become. It's the culmination of every fan of Monster Hunter's core love: no stats, just skill. Especially when you become G rank, monsters never stop challenging you and it's all about relying on your experience and skill to overcome challenging monsters like Gore Magala, Teostra, or Seregios. And the bushido style is a reflection of this core understanding, rewarding the truly capable and skilled with impressive invincibility and extra powerful attacks. This style is definitely not for newer hunters nor the faint of heart.

The dual blades are the only weapons that perform an active attack while perfect evading. Every other weapon causes the hunter to perform a flashy dive before breaking into a full run in the direction you want to deliver a bushido attack. Dual blades on the other hand causes the hunter to spin through the air while diving, becoming a deadly corkscrew auger that cuts through monsters before engaging in the roadie run. I also find evasion an important skill for gunner since gunners have very little defense, and I expect bushido to be a popular style for gunners. It's worth noting the mystery surrounding how bushido and aerial will limit the move sets of gunner since they have no real combos and just fire projectiles.

All in all, I'm excited for Monster Hunter X because as you can see, this will be the most outrageous Monster Hunter to date. Rather then be locked in cumbersome animations that dictate how you approach the game and work around the limitations MHX will actually be providing a punch of powerful change in how it moves and handles and looks to be the friendliest entry for newcomers to date, and Monster Hunter 4U was fairly lenient already in teaching hunters through the abundant tutorials it provided.

I'm relatively new to hunting, but I've dumped hundreds of hours on MH4U alone, and that was an entry that went easy on bringing newcomers into the fold and brought together so many classic and new elements. MHX looks like a sort of dream team assembling of so many series favorites while ratcheting up the cool factor, which in turn attracts newer hunters and retaining them as well. I'm already excited just to hunt the Lagiacrus, the sea leviathan from MH3, which has been retooled to fight entirely on land like the Ivory Lagi without worrying about the half-baked swimming mechanics. Nargacuga is even coming back, and both mentioned monsters offer really cool weapons to forge. I'm excited for MHX not only for the new it brings but also for all the old glory it brings back like old villages and older monsters. The #MHXfortheWest hashtag is being continually used and I sincerely hope that the November Japanese release date is followed by a western announcement date, or better. Pokemon managed a worldwide release, remember?


1:25 AM on 10.03.2015

A Nintendo rep who happened to be checking stock at Toys R Us found me a Little Mac amiibo behind the counter #collusion #bias


7:06 PM on 10.02.2015

I found Kirby's Dream Collection at a GameStop. Now that was quite a find.


2:10 AM on 10.01.2015

All I need is some sound absorbing foam against a wall and maybe I'll get back into podcasting in my new apartment set up


2:51 AM on 09.30.2015

Want to fight about it? A Wii U owner's lament on fighting games

Fighting games were a peripheral fixation of mine since I was child. Street Fighter II of course was the only real one I liked asides from Mortal Kombat. But when Street Fighter IV came out (that was fucking 2008 oh my fucking god it's felt longer) I became fully ingratiated with the fighting game community. Say what you want about how one goes about including themselves into a community, I spent classes in college just opening up YouTube and watching subscriptions uploading SFIV footage from channels like Spooky, GAMEacho, and ArcadeInfinity (RIP). I drove an hour to get a taste of Blazblue back when it was still new, Calamity Trigger, and confused as some sort of missing link to Guilty Gear. I went through the previous generation's unnaturally long cycle playing everything from SFIV, to Marvel, to Injustice, and Persona 4 Arena. I've made friendships and broken them in this genre. I should show more appreciation to Virtua Kazama.

But for the past year I've been on the Wii U, which as we all know has a notoriously shallow pool for games. Now the water is filled with herbs and oils, creating a quality experience but nonetheless you're only getting your ankles wet. You'll have fucking awesome ankles but that's it. I've been missing out on Mortal Kombat X, the SFV beta, Killer Instinct, KOFXIV was announced (HA), and who knows what else?

All of these games are not on Wii U and I'm on some serious Smash Bros. fatigue.

I want some Mika 3:16

I'm starting to really burn out on Smash's unorthodox fighting mechanics. The mobility mechanics, the air game, the edge game and percent system. I still like playing it thank god because I live for fighting games and matchmaking but my god I'm really missing a fighting game that just takes a step back into the old fashion face-to-face and life bars fighting game. I miss thinking about meter management, I miss executing special moves I find easy and hearing people complain about how they can't do quarter circle forward motions, I miss mechanics built for traditional combos, where getting hit is called hitstun and not hitlag and I can cancel certain footsie moves into special moves. And when I say combos I mean I'm tired of chasing opponents as they directional influence away from my attacks and I'm tired of seeing something being called a combo when the victim simply fell into an attack as a misjudgment on spacing or as part of an elaborate tech trap.

That's not to take away from Smash 4's amazing staying power within its balance and competitive community. I mean that from a context where when Brawl came out it just died a slow, stagnating death on the vine when it came to community. Melee continues to live as the 3rd Strike of Smash Bros. and Smash 4 is kind of like SFIV: it has its fair share of problems but people still enjoy it. I daresay Brawl is like the Street Fighter EX of Smash Bros. but anyways, I'm saying I've been playing a lot of Street Fighter IV and I want to play some Persona 4 Ultimax.

Calling you out Skullomania

Full disclosure, I play a lot of Little Mac on For Glory. So burning out is inevitable as I decide to cram nails through my hands with such ferocity as I am currently. I do like playing Bowser and a few other characters like Ike (wields a club, not a sword), Roy (hello Fsmash), and Ryu (what are inputs?). I suppose I should just cool off a bit with For Fun and goof off or work on some Classic mode runs to earn coins and trophies and round up some trophy collecting. But I salivate at the idea of playing Ken as the most different he's been in any version of Street Fighter, Ryu with his denjin fists, an Charlie with his fucking teleport shenanigans and Genocide Cutters (Rugal fucking called you Nash). I want to give Tremor a go and play as an Earthbender in the Mortal Kombat universe, with its fucking wacky variant system expanding matchups (even if most people just play one version of Sub-Zero apparently and why would anyone play as the version of Kung Jin that uses arrows when you can just beat people with a big stick?). Hell yeah I'd want to play as a Buick-sized Native American named Chief Thunder in Killer Instinct and stomp on insensitive white people (and werewolves, and skeletons, and aliens) or play as a giant golem who can create his own corner combos. All of these examples have unique strategies in using meter, using special traits and powers, and doing actual high-low attacks (holy crap I miss actually worrying about blocking high or low).

To add salt to the wound, I also don't have much a PC gaming presence despite my obviously answer being Steam like Rising Thunder. Though if my laptop can run Skullgirls and KOFXIII (King of Snores XIII), I guess I should try out Yatagarasu. I'm not good at 3rd Strike but its not exactly like 3rd Strike at least. Hell, Yomi is receiving some praise in my circles and that's half card game, half fighting game.

Yes Smash 4 has it's own unique set of mechanics to make it stand out like knocking people off stage, edgeguarding, ledge trumping, tech chasing, pivoting, and meteor smashing people into the disrespect hole. But hopefully you see where my fatigue is coming from. It's honestly just the Wii U complaint about the availability of games and diversity on the platform and repurposed to specifically talk about fighting games.

Now before you call me out on it, yes Pokken Tournament is on the way to attempt to save the day. Ironically I'm not a big fan of Tekken and this might be the first Tekken game I'll take seriously (Pikachu is basically Heihachi by the way). Even though it'll still be comparatively wacky with respect with the form of fighting I miss, it'll still have many of the mechanics I miss in Smash which are in most mainstream fighting games like meter managment, life bars, and it'll even have assists like the faster, team-based fighters. Weavile might be my jam as the speedy, technical type but I'd love to play as Gengar as the tricky type, or even Suicine as a fucking quadrupedal beast looking to hang out in a bipedal fighting party and let's not forget that not only is there's Heihachi reborn as Pikachu but an alternate Pikachu dressed as a luchador who justifies grappling moves by way of grabbing Pokemon with electromagnetic waves.

I'm seriously thirsty for a different fighting experience from Smash but all I have is the Wii U. I don't read frame data spreadsheets but I love counting frames in training mode. I'm not travelling to competitive tournaments but I like getting online to see the dumb shenanigans people will cook up to compensate for lag, lack of skill, or a combination of both. I'm ready for a new experience. That may be par for the course in the context of Wii U ownership but I'm not salty about it. I want some new salt is all.


1:07 AM on 09.30.2015

I need Monster Hunter X in my life and in english


1:03 AM on 09.26.2015

Plague of Shadows: a great excuse to get back into Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight's expansion is a great excuse for more Shovel Knight, even if you're not actually playing as the titular and agile Shovel Knight. While I've seen some people complain about how different Plague Knight is and how different his mobility is, I think they're not thinking of Plague Knight differently enough to really understand that he isn't Shovel Knight and needs a different mindset.

So first of all, why should you play the new Plague of Shadows expansion for Shovel Knight, asides from it being free? Personally, I figure Plague Knight offers a different way to play through Shovel Knight's enjoyable level design. Whereas Shovel Knight gets through meticulously designed stages with his shovel plunge and variety of sub-weapons, Plague Knight subverts the same stages with swift aerial movement. While he doesn't respond to a variety of melee situations well, Plague Knight is all about approaching combat from another angle. We're talking about a maniacal scientist who seeks to exploit weaknesses rather than face them head-on with his own mettle. One example is the giant spear wielding warriors from Mole Knight's Lost Civilization stage. Shovel Knight would have to engage them directly in most cases, avoiding their flaming crossfire attack and dodging their spear thrust. In most cases for Plague Knight however, I was able to sit comfortably from a distance and throw the right explosives that would reach my enemy from outside his effective range. The ability to approach combat differently is probably the biggest crux for playing Plague Knight. Shovel Knight really only fights up close with his shovel blade while his relics offer an opportunity to expand upon it. Plague Knight can change his explosives drastically based on a variety of different cases, powder, and fuses. I can attack enemies on different heights with the lob casing and the long fuse, create fire and forget defensive traps with sentry fuses, and even perform more adequately in close range combat with the boomeranging whirl case and impact fuses.

Plague of Shadows offers up an interesting, concurrent story running parallel to the main Shovel Knight quest story. I always thought the knights who make up the Order of No Quarter were really cool. Polar Knight's implied history with Shovel Knight, Specter Knight's mysterious immortality, Treasure Knight's obsession with gold and wealth. Plague Knight isn't portrayed as a dastardly villain but rather a social outcast alongside his arcane and scientific colleagues. Characters from the main story like Percy the horse or the Magicist appear again as nerdy foils Plague Knights socially awkward egomania. While Shovel Knight's feelings and guilt remind you as dream sequences involving saving a falling Shield Knight, Plague Knight has an underlying plot with Mona, the robed female Shovel Knight might've played a few mini games with. While she appears apathetic and quiet to the Shoveling Dynamo, Mona displays more dynamic expression in the secrecy of the Potionarium with Plague Knight. It's highly implied that the two are crushing hard on each other, and this is implied very early on. The rub is that being both the scientific types, they're either too shy to do anything about it or focus on the task at hand instead. Even collecting music sheets from the main game is given to Percy, the horse, who needs paper to write his notes on. In exchange for paper he can't use, not only does he give you gold but he offers love advice.

Overall, Plague Knight is about enjoying Shovel Knight again in a different way. It's not about enjoying it as a standalone experience for me but as revisiting the game in a different way. It's no wonder in order to play Plague of Shadows that you need to beat the game first. You'll enjoy the expansion more if you've played it before as Shovel Knight. While there's a code to unlock the mode straight away, it's highly recommended to beat the game first.

Shovel Knight was my game of the year last year. Any excuse to come back to such an excellent game is a welcome idea.


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