September has come and gone at a speed that would embarrass January which is a shame because the last week has been really, really nice unless you count the torrential downpour that happened a few times each day. During the past month I’ve reconnected with a hugely popular franchise or two and dipped my toe into some of the bigger franchises that have passed me by this past generation. This was also the month Nintendo rolled out its Online...thing, so my games journal this month is a bit more robust than...well, July anyway. September has been a nice month for gaming but I feel like a big chunk of the month was spent in anticipation for the behemoth that will be October’s launch line-up. Anyway, here’s what I’ve played in September;
(Woot! Hyper-realistic drawing of the Seitengrat!)
So roughly two years ago I started playing Demon’s Souls (mostly) blind as part of my youtube channel. Over the course of 25 videos viewed roughly 20 times I made it as far as the Penetrator boss fight, after having killed the Dragon God and no other end-stage bosses. My youtube channel never took off but the main reason I stopped playing back then was due to my needing to move and my never being able to get back in a position where I can record more LP videos...So anyway, fast forward to the start of September where I’m feeling very hyped up about Dark Souls launching on Switch. I felt that old itch and since Destiny 2 took forever to download, install and, update, I started playing Demon’s Souls again as a second character I made up about a year ago and never really got far into.
This was my first time actually getting through to the end of Demon’s Souls and the only other game in the Dark-Bourne pentology....quintollogy...It’s the second of the five games in the series that I’ve beaten. It’s unfortunate that the online features were disabled but it seems like all I missed out on was one specific boss fight and a bunch of random invasions. I can’t say I enjoyed the number of pitfalls found around Latria and the Valley of Defilement but it definitely made enemy encounters more interesting. Out of all of the stages, I feel like I had the most difficulty with The Valley and the later half of Boletaria. I didn’t have much trouble with the diseases in The Valley since a vendor was literally steps away from plague-carrying rats which, in hindsight, was probably some kind of scam. The later half of Boletaria, specifically after the Penetrator boss fight, was intimidating due to the triple-Phantom fight and the Blue Dragon (which I haven’t killed...I didn’t kill Old King Doran either). The most dense progress wall I ran into had to have been the Maneater boss fight which I’m sure I was only able to win when their AI decided to make a bunch of really dumb decisions. Oddly, I think my favorite bosses were those found in the Valley since I’m pretty sure every last one of them were formerly part of Maiden Astraea’s personal guard. Also the Storm King because the concept of killing an alien Kaiju with a magical wind sword is freaking awesome. As much as I liked this game, I absolutely took advantage of AI glitches to take on not only the Maneaters but also Flamelurker. I also exploited a glitch that allowed me to respawn outside of fog gates instead of all the way back at the previous bonfire. I found out about the glitch while I was fighting the Maneaters late into my playthrough but I don’t see myself playing normally from here on out anymore. On the whole I think I liked Bloodbourne more than Demon’s Souls but I’m still very excited to play Dark Souls Remastered in a couple of weeks.
Destiny 2 was free through PSN and I was ready to see what the fuss was all about so I went ahead and downloaded the game. While I waited for it to be ready to play I played Demon’s Souls, a much, much better game for a much, much longer time. Destiny 2 is a pretty game, Destiny 2 has guns that sound and feel great to use against enemies but, I stopped playing as soon as I realized that I would have to grind to start the story proper. I didn’t think I would put 90 minutes into the game but once I got to the cathedral I had to put the game down so I could play a game that wouldn’t demand I play with other people to continue.
The first of only two Demos I played this month was for Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, a Yakuza game in the clothing of a wonderfully cheese 80’s anime. I absolutely love Fist of the North Star: I’ve read as much of the Manga as the US got, I’ve seen the entire anime series and the original movie, I even have the live action Gary Daniels movie made for American audiences in the earliest of the 90’s (or was it the latest of the 80’s?). The thing is, I’m just not feeling this game and I can’t quite put my finger on why. I think a big part of it is that in between the combat in Yakuza there’s a lot of other interesting things to do during down time like fishing, playing on arcade games and, running a hostess club. Fist of the North Star seems to only have 2 arrows in its quiver: combat and driving. I feel really on the fence about this game and I don’t really plan on grabbing unless there are some really wacky side quests and mini-games in the package...or I could just watching Fist of the North Star and play any other Yakuza.
Mega Man 11...Megaman 11...Megaman 11 had a demo out on the Switch and I think other platforms as well but I played my version on the Switch! Despite having been born the same year as Mega Man 2’s original release, I never actually grew up on the franchise. The first game in the series I played was Legends but on the Nintendo 64 and later on I played Battle Network 2. I didn’t play any of the original Mega Man games or the X games until much later, when I grabbed the collection discs on the PS2 around the mid-to-late-aughts. So with all that background in mind, I’m feeling really good about Mega Man 11. I love the art style and how much detail has gone into the level demoed. Block Man being multi-stage is a cool addition and since there’s a new power up mechanic, the multi-stage boss thing didn’t feel as overpowered and dangerous as it could have. I don’t know if either of the power ups provided were Block Man’s weakness though so I have no idea just how overpowered those weaknesses are going to end up being in the full game. I preordered this game and I’m excited to play it when it comes out on Tuesday.
The Megaman 11 demo was great, even though it killed me a whole lot of times, and the Legacy Collections were on sale so I picked up the second Legacy Collection on Switch. Most people would have probably started with Megaman 7 since that was the first on the collection but I’ve played it recently (ie: within the past two years) so I decided to go with Megaman 8 this time! I’ve only just realized while typing this out that I’ve played all but Megaman 10 in the main series and while it’s been a while since I’ve played six out of those ten, I can definitely say that 8 is one of the ones I didn’t enjoy. Megaman 8 felt like a slog to play, I’m not sure if it had to do with the size of the sprite or what but the game felt really slow. The anime cutscenes were entertaining sure but the power-ups didn’t feel very powerful and honestly the whole thing was mostly forgettable. Megaman 7 is definitely a more entertaining and memorable game and I see myself playing Megaman 4 again before I play 8.
(Block Man, more like BLOOP Man! Seriously, Mega Man 8 was lame, 11 is gonna be great!)
I feel like I’ve given away my feelings for this game by never talking about it and also by referring to it as God of Bore instead of the more obvious joke name God of Four. I gave this game a lot more of a chance than Destiny 2, playing for what felt like four or so hours...I think. I had trouble getting into the story since I don’t resonate well with father-son stories. The combat felt alright but I felt like I was relying on the same two combos and the totally-not-Force-Push. Since the combat wasn’t doing much for me and the father-son dynamic between Atreus and Kratos didn’t do very much for me, that just left the story overall which, again, didn’t do a whole lot for me especially since I’ve had huge chunks of it spoiled for me since the game launched. God of War is a pretty game but I didn’t feel like I could really explore. The combat was adequate but it made me want to play a more combat-focused game. The story was fine sure but it made me want to play something with a better story. I feel like I would have liked this game more if it wasn’t a God of War though since I associate God of War with mile-a-minute, non-stop, murder and deicide, not admittedly-great, terrible Dad stories. For the record, I stopped playing after fighting a bunch of dark elves in a dome so that light elves could take it back.
Mega Man 9 is a game I couldn’t play until very recently because as far as I know, it’s impossible to buy Wiiware games in 2018 and Megamen 9 and 10 were only recently physically released in The Megaman Legacy Collection 2. So with my history of burn-out and with Mega Man being a franchise that is very repetitive if you play them back-to-back, what did I think? Megaman 9 was the best Megaman I’ve played this month. The default weapon felt like a viable option against most bosses, every boss weapon felt useful in more than a single situation and not a single one of those boss weapons was a stupid soccer ball! The Wiley Castle was a little challenging but save states kept it from being unbearable, especially at the end since the three-stage fight with Wiley was challenging without P and W tanks. I’d like to play Mega Man 10 but I think I’m going to hold off until after 11 before I dig into it.
(Mega Man, no)
Ninjin: Clash of Carrots was a game I won in a giveaway drawing because I’m so great. That game itself is pretty fun in a casual sort of way. You play as either a bunny ninja dude or a foxy ninja dudette, auto-running from left to right and killing carrot thieves. In all honesty, I only played a few levels of this and I may play it again but I wasn’t very engaged. It’s an interesting premise but auto-runners don’t engage me for long periods and since this isn’t a shoot-em-up like Gradius or whatever, but instead relies on melee combat (ie: close quarters combat), it makes the combat more challenging which is fine but it still isn’t enough to keep me hooked. The comedy in the game matches up with what I like so I see myself at least trying to get back into it for the sake of seeing where the story goes.
Axiom Verge is a game I’ve been meaning to play for a while and it finally went on sale on the eShop! I really like Metroid style games and the Gieger-esq, body-horror of the presentation really grabbed my interest. The problem I have with Axiom Verge though is that I started playing other more interesting things around the same time as that game so it’s kinda slipped by the wayside for me. It’s a game that feels much more Octoberish to me and when I do pick it back up, I’ll be starting back up after having killed a couple of bosses.
I’m referring to this mass of games by the app wherein I found them; NES and Famicom online which contain, as of September, 20 NES/Famicom games. Have I booted up all 20 of them? Hell No, but I did boot up a few that I didn’t think I would give the time of day like Ice Climbers, Tennis and, Tecmo Bowl. I actually really love Tecmo Super Bowl but the original Tecmo Bowl is a definite step back. I’ve been playing Super Mario Bros since before I could form full on thoughts and memories, Super Mario Bros 3 since I was about five or six, but I never actually beat them until I could play them with save states on the Virtual Console, same with Legend of Zelda and none of those three games are games that I’m all that excited to play again. Part of what annoys me about this app is how it takes several button-presses to get to the quick save/quick load menu but on the Wii U and 3DS virtual consoles it seemed much snappier and easier to use in general. I’m not going to download Ghouls and Ghosts or Metroid on my 3DS to use the better save feature but there isn’t much incentive to play those games on my Switch if I already have them downloaded elsewhere. I don’t know how often this app is going to be updated and when it is updated, I don’t know how much new software is going to be added. I’m also unsure if there’s going to be a tradeoff between new and old software since this app is going to be much more valuable if everything that is available remains available. 20 NES titles in September doesn’t sound very appealing but 30 in October, 40 in November, 50 in December, this sounds a lot more appealing (even though Nintendo seems to be hinting that there will only be 3 new NES games launched each month). I’m positive games like Batman and, Dick Tracy won’t ever make it onto this app but I’m hoping Solstice and, Solar Jetman make it there sooner rather than later.
(River City Ransom is wicked awesome but the border isn't)
I played through Doom on the Switch when it was still new on that platform and I liked the multiplayer a little bit more than the actual campaign. I played through the entirety of the campaign sure but I have never felt compelled to go back and play through the story mode again. It’s the multiplayer that I was interested in giving a try this month just to see if anything had changed since roll-out of Nintendo’s online thingamajig. The answer is ‘no’ but on the plus side, there’s still enough of a player pool that I didn’t have to wait long to get into a match. Doom’s MP is still mostly fun but it’s not fun enough to keep me playing.
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is a game I received as a gift when I got my PS4 last Christmas but things like Super Mario Odyssey, Bloodbourne, and...well, I have a whole list of other games that I’ve written about which kinda kept me away from FFXII since I grabbed it. Part of what kept me away from it was my ill will I felt towards it when I first played it in like...2010. Unlike the PS2 version that I played way back then, I don’t have to worry about opening the wrong chests and screwing myself out of a Zodiac Spear. In truth, the first thing I worked towards was grinding up some Seitengrat bows. I’m at the point in the story where I’m trying to find a friend of Fran’s who’s missing from the hidden forest village. Running around through the plot has been trivialized sure but I’m still having some trouble with the gambit system and accessorizing so trial mode, hunts and, optional bosses have been giving me some trouble. Cuchulainn the Impure for example killed me several times before I decided to do some more story, buy a bunch of black belts and, go back to try again (that time succeeding). I like how if I really want to I can just shut off my brain and run through the story given my overpowered bow but I’ve come around on the combat system as a whole since I last tried playing this game. I’ve enjoyed the hunts that I’ve completed and am eager to unlock more of them, same with the optional Espers I’ve found and defeated. Final Fantasy XII isn’t my favorite in the series, nor is it a top 5 but I’m absolutely enjoying this playthrough more than my last couple attempts. I’m going to blame the fast-forward feature for my enhanced enjoyment of this version though.
I nearly forgot about the Dark Souls Network Test held on the Switch! I've never played Dark Souls before the network test and if I kept my Switch docked, I wouldn't have been able to play it at all! I don't know what the issue was but as long as I kept the console in handheld mode, I was golden. The Network Test allowed players to chose one of several premade character types and of them, I played as a black knight, a solider and, Solaire (not in that order). I wasn't used to the magical lightning thrower Solaire and, the Black Knight felt really powerful but I spent most of my times playing as the Solider class...or was it a warrior? I wish it was possible to use the titanite shards I kept finding as I played through the demo because the way I play, I basically just ate a lot of the damage that was being thrown my way. When it came to the Baulder Knights and even the Black Knight on the tower, figuring out their timing wasn't too difficult but I was never able to make it past the Bell Gargoyles. Solaire's lightning bolts took out huge chunks of their health but in the end, I wound up getting cornered and scorched by their fire breath or else slashed to death by their axe tails. Placing the demo in the Undead Parish was a good call but those Bell Gargoyles would be a lot easier to manage if I could have leveled up either myself or my weapons. I can't wait to dig into the full version on the Switch...even though I know I can grab the PS4 version right-stat-now...or the PS3 version right-stat-now...
(I still have no idea what the Hell this thing is)
It’s October and for the first time since Metroid: Return of Samus, I’ve got a game preordered...I’ve got 3 games preordered and there are a bunch of other big releases this month that may or may not fall into my lap. That isn’t counting great games that launched earlier this year that may or may not go on sale during the month. Mega Man 11 is out tomorrow and it seems to be getting some great reviews, and not just comparatively. Starlink is out in a couple of weeks and Dark Souls remastered is out a couple of days after that so hopefully I’ll have enough time to play through the Star Fox content before diving into what I understand to be the Sabre Wulf of action RPGs. At some point though I’m going to have to get through the rest of Final Fantasy XII and hopefully grab the Platinum for it along the way. I’ve also been feeling an itch to get back into Breath of the Wild, if only so I can wander around Hyrule aimlessly again.