Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

IT BEGINS.

Alrighty folks, as Barney stated in the clip above, as of this moment; IT BEGINS.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but over the past several days I’ve been very lazy in writing posts for this blog.

I still enjoy writing, but the fact of the matter is, I’ve been in a rut for a long time now, both in regards to this blog and life in general.

That being said, I’m not the sort to give up easily.

After all, I’m one of those guys took it up the ass long enough to eventually beat Demon’s Souls and is likely going to end up doing the same with Dark Souls.

I really don’t know what to expect from this, but I’d like to take this opportunity to ask you, the reader; to let me know what you’d like to see me do in future posts.

As much as I know there’s a demand for it, I’m not gonna’ post photos of my dick or anything like that, but if you’d like to say, see me draw something, or write an article on a particular topic; I’d be more than willing to accomodate your requests.

Anyway, here’s hoping I get a lot of responses, or at the very least, a few good ones.

Seriously folks, don’t waste my motherfuckin’ time….

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The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, #2


As you’ve likely noticed, the past couple of entries on our list of The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights have both been final boss characters from fighting games.

While I personally feel that the fighting game genre is quite likely the most prominent contributor to the realm of tough-ass boss characters, there is another genre of game that has a similar penchant for ass-raping it’s players when it comes to boss fights.

That genre, is the shoot ’em up.

Yes, this is in fact playable. And yes, it is in fact EASIER than the game featured today.

While occasionally consisting of pure twitch reflex gameplay, the challenge in conquering most modern shoot ’em ups lies mainly in knowing one’s hit box and a healthy dose of pattern memorization/anticipation.

And no, I will not be using the term “shmup,” as it is silly, and the people who came up with it smell like poo.

*ANYWAY* Many scrolling shooters, especially shorter ones; present gameplay challenges of such difficulty so as to be considered downright unfair, if not for the fact that the expectation is that the player will fail numerous times in attempting to slowly “learn” the stages and be able to anticipate them accordingly.

Indeed, the art of the shoot ’em up is a relic of times past, a genre that holds little relevance amongst the 10-20 hour technical marvels that largely represent the current age of gaming.

I don’t remember where I read it, but the best description of shoot ’em ups and old-school action games I’ve ever heard went something like:

“It’s learning how to play a small game well, as opposed to merely experiencing a large game.”

Let’s just pretend I was responsible for the quote above, ‘k?

Like many nostalgic lifelong gamers that grew up in the 8 and 16-bit era, I enjoy playing modern narrative driven games; however I often catch myself longing to go back and play some of the simpler games of the past.

That being said, today’s entrant on our list of the Top 1o Hardest Boss Fights does indeed come courtesy of a shoot ’em up, however it by no means what I’d call a “simple” game.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that today’s boss comes from perhaps the most sophisticated (and difficult) shoot ’em up of all time.

#2 on our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights is:

#2. Tageri and Ubusunagami Okinokai – Ikaruga

Pictured: A brave pilot faces down the bullet spewing final bosses of Ikaruga.

Ikaruga is one of those games that I want so badly to love, but I suck so badly at it that I just can’t….  ‘Cause it’s stomped my ass into the ground more times than I’d care to admit.

I love shoot ’em ups.

If it scrolls and it involves planes/dragons/fairies with unlimited ammo, chances are I’ve played it, or failing that; want to play it at some point in my life.

Unfortunately, I’m quite far from skillful when it comes to, well, shooting things up.

I’m usually good enough to get 2-3 stages into a shoot ’em up before dying, but as we all know; that’s usually not nearly good enough to beat the game in the arcade without dumping $5 into the machine.

Money I likely would've preferred to have pumped into Aliens vs. Predator.

To date, I have yet to beat the console version of Ikaruga.

You see, unlike an arcade game, the console version of Ikaruga restricts the player to making use of 3 lives per stage; meaning there’s no continuing from the middle of a level.

Basically, if you can’t beat the last stage with 3 lives, then you’re sunk.

While it’s an almost obnoxiously beautiful game, both in terms of art and design; I can think of no other shoot ’em up that requires as much memorization and focus as Ikaruga.

There are in fact harder shoot ’em ups out there, mostly of the bullet hell sub-genre; but in my mind there are few that are better.

That however, does not change the fact that I’ve never beaten the final boss(es) of Ikaruga.

As you may have noticed up above, I actually named 2 bosses as entry #2 on our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights.

While some might call foul on that, in my mind both characters serve as the final boss of the game.

Tageri, a biomechanical monstrosity with a literal yin and yang core, serves as the penultimate challenge of the game, and boy is he a douche-rocket of an asshole:

Don’t let the INSANE skills the player in the clip above fool you, Tageri not one with whom to fuck.

You see, Ikaruga’s main gameplay innovation is the implementation of a black and white based polarity system for every attack and enemy in the game.

At the touch of a button, the player is able to change the color polarity of their ship back and forth from white to black, allowing them to harmlessly absorb enemy fire sharing their color profile and convert it to power a homing laser attack.

At the same time, enemies struck by fire of the opposite polarity take twice as much damage, making the bulk of the game an ongoing high-speed puzzle of matching polarities for survival, and opposing polarities for quick kills.

Like all of the bosses in the game, Tageri’s attack pattern involves both of the above tactics, however in a much more straightforward and confrontational fashion.

In essence, the fight with Tageri pushes your rhythm, memorization, and polarity matching skills to the limit; as his attacks never let up, and are almost impossible to avoid, forcing you to defend yourself almost exclusively absorb bullets as your only form of defense.

That’s the one element of Ikaruga that’s perhaps the most difficult to embrace, even as a veteran of shoot ’em ups:

In Ikaruga, you’re not only expected to run into enemy bullets; at many times it’s to your advantage.

In a genre where the one steadfast rule of the gameplay is to not touch the bad things, that’s not an easy pill to swallow.

That being said, the “dot eating” aspect of Tageri’s attack pattern is a nerve-wracking experience that as mentioned earlier, I’ve yet to conquer.

All of the bosses of Ikaruga are tough, but Tageri is one of the only ones that forces you to basically stand your ground and eat every bullet on the screen throughout the duration of the fight.

This involves keeping an eye on the half dozen or so sources of fire at all times, and accounting for which color bullets are going to hit when.

That's a direct quote by the way.

The fact that you only get 3 lives, many of which can easily be exhausted before you even enter his chamber, coupled with the information overload produced by Tageri’s maddeningly aggressive attack pattern, has resulted in me never quite getting to a point in which I’d say I were “comfortable” in fighting him.

Despite this, I have managed to beat him once or twice, though I did so with little tact, and at the cost of nearly all of my lives.

Which brings us to the “other” final boss of the game, the Ubusunagami Okinokai, or “The Power of God:”

Awr?...

Not actually an enemy to be fought, Ubusunagami is actually just a diamond shaped object that shows up after you’ve defeated Tageri, and then proceeds to fill the screen with bullets for 60 seconds.

Indeed, you read that right.

Immediately following one of the hardest bosses in gaming, with one of the most brutal and oppressive attack patterns imaginable, you then have to face down the diamond-shaped embodiment of “The Power of God” for an entire minute.

Before the dark times, before the Empire, THIS is what Ubusunagami looks like.

Remember when I said Ubusunagami wasn’t really something to be “fought?”

Well, what I meant by that wasn’t just the fact that you’ve gotta’ have Korean-level gaming skills and APM to win against him, but that you also can’t fight him period.

That’s right, after encouraging you throughout the entire game to eat like colored bullets to survive, the game basically forces you to put that newly developed gaming instinct to the test and survive, without the option to fight back; for one whole minute.

THIS. FOR AN ENTIRE MINUTE.

While that’s admittedly a very bold and, frankly, “cool” way to force players to truly excel at the game in order to be rewarded with an ending, it’s sadly a test I don’t know I’ll ever pass.

As mentioned earlier, much of Ikaruga is based around the concept of memorization.

It’s a well known fact that Ikaruga players are among the hardest of the hardcore.

The fact that the ultimate source of pride in playing the game is not simply beating it, as few mortals can ever hope to do; but to do so with a high-score should tip you off to how dedicated they can be.

Doing so that involves killing enemies of the same polarity sequentially to string combo multipliers, or in some cases, beating the game without firing a single shot.

Yes, it’s possible, though not for this poor shmuck:

I’ve beaten games like Demon’s Souls, which involved a great deal of trial and error and persistence, but the level of memorization and timing required to beat Ikaruga straight through, are such that I’d probably have to sacrifice my ability to recognize simple shapes to free up space in my brain.

Who am I kidding, if I sat down and forced myself to be an expert Ikaruga player, I’d probably end up an autistic and incontinent husk, capable of nothing but playing shoot ’em ups and counting cards.

Huh, if I could get Tom Cruise to take me to Vegas, that probably wouldn’t be too bad a deal…

*Sigh* If only...

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I’m Gonna’ Beat A Castlevania Game Goddamnit

Castlevania has never really been one of my favorite game series.

I’ve been fascinated by the series’ music and characters for a long time now, but in all honesty; I never really sat down to play any of the games.

Truth be told, the exploits of the Belmont clan, that is; their eternal struggle against Count Dracula and the forces of darkness, managed to blow right by my radar when I was a kid.

I guess I was too busy playing Mega Man and Ninja Turtle games during the NES era to have really paid mind to Konami’s whip cracking platformer.

Nah' that's a lie... I was playing Snow Bros.

That’s not to say I wasn’t aware of Castlevania.

On the contrary, I remember reading a lot about Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest in Nintendo Power, but perhaps more importantly I remember being genuinely frightened of the cover art depicting Simon Belmont holding Dracula’s severed head.

Pictured: The cover in question.

It wasn’t so much the graphic nature of the image, blood and guts were “cool” to me even as a kid; it was Drac’s motherfuckin’ glowing red eyes that bugged me.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT!

Seriously, how could you put that on the magazine stands and expect parents to buy it for their kids!?

*Ahem!* Anyway, I remember Nintendo Power going out of their way to talk up Castlevania 2 like it was the coolest game ever, even giving it a Nester award for Best Audio.

Strangely enough, nowadays the game seems to have a pretty well established reputation as being a crytptic and poorly translated heap of garbage.

I guess people were willing to swallow a lot more shit from their games back in the day than they are nowadays…

I owned, played, and liked this back in the day. Don't ask me why...

Anyway, while I read plenty about the Castlevania games in various gaming magazines back in the day, I honestly don’t recall ever sitting down to play any of them until I was much older.

I remember reading about Symphony of the Night in Playstation Magazine, which gave it a perfect score and even went on to give it the top spot on their Best Playstation 1 Game of All Time list.

To this day, I have yet to try Symphony of the Night, largely because it’s Metroid style, backtracking heavy gameplay would likely drive me insane.

Like Zelda before it, Metroid games have always had a way of making me feel dumb and lost throughout the experience, and based on what I’ve seen of the map from Symphony of the Night, I think it’s in my best interest to stay away.

"For the love of God, I don't speak Japanese!"

Don’t get me wrong, the game looks absolutely gorgeous, with some of the most detailed and well animated sprites I can recall, (always a huge selling point in my book) but I know what I like, and I know what pisses me off, and it’s more than likely that Symphony of the Night would piss me off something fierce.

Completely dodging tremendously successful game series is not exactly a new thing for me, as evidenced by me having never played a Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, Prince of Persia, or Duke Nukem game; but in the case of Castlevania, I was always bothered by the fact that I actually wanted to play some games in the series.

More specifically the straightforward platforming games in the series I.E. the first 4, and Rondo of Blood.

Any game that includes Shoryuken-ing Minotaurs as boss characters gets brownie points in my book.

While the gothic aesthetic didn’t really appeal to me all that much, the old-school horror references, platforming action, and downright legendary music of the more traditional games in the series have always seemed right up my alley.

Hell, I’ve been listening to Castlevania music since middle school, but I only just played my first game in the series a few years ago in the form of the NES original.

That being said, while I can’t say I enjoyed my experience playing a Castlevania game nearly as much as I hoped I would have; the challenge, combined with the delightful sights and sounds left me intrigued in an oddly masochistic sense.

While I won’t be throwing down my gauntlet and saying I’m gonna’ beat Battletoads or Ghosts ‘n Goblins anytime soon, Castlevania seemed to have a reasonably challenging difficulty level that appealed to me.

The Battletoads Turbo Tunnel: SERIOUS BUSINESS.

Hard enough to piss you off, but with gameplay that feels rewarding enough to encourage you to keep trying regardless.

What can I say, I’m one of those sickos that actually liked, and beat Demon’s Souls; and is likely to do so again before picking up the sequel once it comes out.

By comparison, sacrificing a few hours of my life to Castlevania seems like fuckin’ cake.

Anyway, the point of this post, I think; is that I think I’m gonna’ challenge myself to sit down and beat Castlevania sometime soon.

Castlevania isn’t my favorite series of games, nor do I have all that much history with it, if any; this is just me saying I’m gonna’ kill me some vampires ’cause I think I’ve got what it takes to do it.

I don’t think I’ll be doing a Let’s Play, so you’ll just have to take my word for whatever accomplishments/failures I encounter.

Anyway, wish me luck!

"Pizza delivery for Mr. Dracula... Hello?... Bueller?"

 

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Demon’s Souls 2!?

Holy Schnikes, Demon’s Souls is getting a sequel!

As some of you may recall, I made it a point to slog my way through the beast that is Demon’s Souls; not just so I could say I did, but because I genuinely enjoyed the experience.

As only the second game I would own for my Playstation 3, I poured hours and months of my time into Demon’s Souls, making progress by inches, and generally doing my best to see and do as much in the game as I could manage.

Highly publicized for it’s brutally unforgiving difficulty, Demon’s Souls was an expansive and creative dungeon crawler that was very much designed for a specific breed of gamer, (read: masochistic) with the rewards of it’s gameplay experience being reserved for only the most persistent and determined of players.

 

Pictured: Said breed of gamer. He's probably still trying to get all 120 stars in Mario 64...

Like most people, my relationship with Demon’s Souls is very much equal parts love and hate.

While I have yet to start a new game+ in Demon’s Souls, as I’ve been busy with work/blogging/playing other games; in hearing news of the upcoming sequel, feelings of excitement brewed in my heart.

Demon’s Souls was a game that struck a chord with me on many levels, however it was by no means a game without it’s flaws.

On the contrary, the game was riddled with design problems and missteps, from somewhat generic art design, to “cheap” combat mechanics, to minor annoyances like respawning monsters.

The trailer for the sequel, titled Dark Souls; is fairly ambiguous in terms of presenting the gameplay mechanics of the game, however even at this point it’s evident that the art design and graphics have been vastly improved, and the repertoire of attacks available to the player have been expanded in some capacity.

Check it out below:

Personally, I’m thinking Dark Souls looks pretty decent.

Bear in mind, I watched this trailer without any sound, (malware fucked my audio drivers in the ass…) so for all know there could be some horrendous narration that totally ruins the entire ambiance of the video.

In any case, if it’s at least as good as Demon’s Souls, then chances are I’ll give Dark Souls a try.

For now though, I guess I’m stuck writing lame blog posts about it as I seriously consider picking up Demon’s Souls for another playthrough.

By the way, Tremors FTW.

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Azn Badger = Hypocrite

The Azn Badger has been feeling a little hypocritical as of late.

Despite my general disdain for the UFC/MMA culture, I’ve found myself playing the demo for UFC: Undisputed 2010 pretty much every day this week.

I know, I know:

“How can a hardcore boxing fan that talks shit about the UFC all the time allow himself to support the organization by playing it’s official videogame!?”

Well, A): I’ve never had anything bad to say about the actual sport of MMA, only the culture and obnoxious fanbase that seems to have sprung up as a result of it’s ascension into the mainstream.

Sorry to beat a dead horse, but...

And B): Chill out, dick wad.  It’s just a videogame, and a fairly good one at that.

To be fair, I used to play the previous iteration of the game with my roommates for shits and giggles.

Only 1 out of the 3 of us (the one with legitimate interest in the UFC) actually took the time to learn how to play, so for the most part the matches boiled down to little more than button mashing sessions not unlike a round of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.

"AND IT'S ALLLLLLLLLLLL OVERRRRR!!!!!!!"

At the time, I used to watch a fair amount of UFC, usually in support B.J. Benn, (he’s a Hawaiian pro athlete, therefore he’s worth my time) as well as for the social value it presented in me in hanging out with my roommate.

Though I no longer have roommates to play games or watch cagefighting with, for some reason I feel like I’m mentally in just about the same place that I was back then.

That is to say:

I’m not exactly the most cerebral of people these days.

I would probably shit myself with glee if I had one of those bubble thingies right now...

As with most things these days, I blame work; as it has retarded my brain functions to the point of making games like Undisputed 2010 seem like the coolest ever made, and dare I say; potentially worth buying.

Did you hear that?

That was the sound of Hell freezing over.

While I still don’t have a clue how to play the demo properly, (the command list in the options screen is like 50 pages long) the pick up and play factor has been a godsend in terms of keeping me sane this week.

I don’t know if it’s just the 60 hour work weeks or what, but I just can’t seem to find time for more involved games like Batman: Arkham Asylum.

I want to finish Batman, but for whatever reason I just feel “too busy” to play it.

Batman: Great for Azn Badger on 3 day weekends, too "smart" for him during 60 hour work weeks.

UFC gives me an experience that can be over and done with inside of 5 minutes.

While I’ve never been one to seek out instant gratification in my games, (if it’s any indication, Demon’s Souls was my 2nd PS3 game) at this point in time, I think it’s the only kind of gaming entertainment I can handle.

Though I’m legitimately excited to try games like Valkyria Chronicles, games that require a high-degree of time investment and involvement from the player; the more hours I put in at work, the less I see myself being able to fully enjoy a game like that.

In my current mental state, I'd probably just try and bumrush my way through every mission...

Anyway, I’m beat to shit, (anus still recovering…) so that’s all I’ve got for tonight.

Chances are I’ll pick up UFC at some point, though I assure I’ll do so grudgingly, and while mumbling under my breath that boxing is the superior and more gentlemanly sport.

Unfortunately the new Fight Night Champion doesn’t come out until next year, so for now I’m going with UFC.

Either that or Splatterhouse, ’cause Splatterhouse was the shit back in the day, and from what I’ve read; the new one ain’t so bad.

Plus it’s bloody as fuck and probably as cerebral as your average UFC fan.

Haha!  BURN.

Filed under: Boxing, Games, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Batman Games and the Azn Badger


Today, after more than a month since my last PS3 game purchase, (Demon’s Souls) I went out and bought Batman: Arkham Asylum.

This one has been a long time coming for me.

As you may have guessed, the Azn Badger is very much a fan of the Batman.

The comics, the animated series, the first 2 and last 2 live-action movies, (those other ones never happened…)  if it’s Batman related media; I’ve probably seen it or want to see it.

In my eyes, few characters in the realm of fiction better represent the embodiment of a persona crafted through sheer will than Batman.

He’s a man that chooses to be what he feels he must, and that simple element of his character has led to a seemingly neverending stream of great stories surrounding him.

It hasn’t however, led to all that many videogames that represented him all that well.

 

Batman Begins: The only game where seasoned criminals are paralyzed with fear at the sight of moving boxes.

The Tim Burton Batman movie-tie on the NES, and the Batman Returns game on the Super NES stand as my favorite Batman games of yesteryear, however aside from borrowing the sounds and aesthetic of their respective movies, neither really made use of the character of Batman in their gameplay.

The NES game was a handsome and vaguely Ninja Gaiden-esque shooter/platformer that still receives acclaim to this day.

It also has quite possibly the most awesome, and totally fucked up endings to a Batman story ever in the history of everything:

The Batman Returns game was essentially a sidescrolling beat ’em up with a few extra bells and whistles in the form of a mildly expanded repertoire of moves, (including being able to throw dudes into the background scenery!) but other than that; was little more than standard genre fare.

 

Pictured: The coolest element of Batman Returns - slamming 2 clowns faces together for twice the pwnage.

I love both of these games, and find them to be quite fun in their own right; (especially Batman Returns, which I own to this day) however I have to admit, neither game really feels like a Batman game should.

In the comics, Batman never jumped around giant factories with a laser gun strapped to this forearm.

 

Hmm, I don't remember this in the comics...

In the comics, Batman never walked from left to right and beat the piss out of a clone army of clowns for hours at a time.

 

Although I must admit, such a comic would definitely be on my "must read" list. Man, I hate clowns...

In the comics, the detective work to beating up of goons ratio is generally 2:1.

Let’s get one thing clear:  Batman is really fuckin’ strong.

Batman has told villains on numerous occasions that he could “crush their head like an egg,” and for all intents and purposes, I don’t doubt that fact.

Batman is supposed to be a man trained to the peak of human ability, so I would think crushing a human skull with his bare hands would be well within his capability.

When you think about it from that perspective, it’s hard to envision all that many people that could take a patented Batman Sucker Punch (TM) and not go right to sleep.

 

Pictured: The Batman Sucker Punch (TM) in all it's glory.

Though in many ways it might be a product of the unique and condensed structure of American comic book storytelling, I’ve always thought that Batman’s penchant for separating bad guys from their senses within a panel or 2 to be well in line with the facets of his character.

Batman is not a character that engages in dramatic and overblown, 5 minute kung fu brawls with his opponents, he is a silent predator that, more often than not, lays people out rather than battling them directly.

Although far be it from me to say that I don’t appreciate the few instances in which ‘ole Bats gets dragged into an all out slug fest:

 

Even though this was intensely one-sided, and I never got to read the rematch, this still ranks as one of most awesome moments in Batman history.

This is what initially drew me to Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Yeah, it’s been critically acclaimed up the ying yang.

Yeah, it’s gameplay is supposed to be a MetroidVania* mish-mash of backtracking heavy awesomeness.

Yeah, it even has always awesome Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprising their roles from Batman Animated series.

 

"Always awesome" or not, Father Time has officially backed his truck up over Mark Hamill's face and taken the mother of all corn-filled shits on it for good measure

While I obviously don’t discount any of the above, as I did in fact just buy the game today; what really got me hyped for this game ever since it came out, was that most of the reviews I was reading about placed a great deal of emphasis on the fact that in this game, you really feel like Batman.

Everything from the exploration of the detective mode, to the stealth and counter heavy combat system has been said to reflect the Batman sensibilities we all know and love to a T.

Try saying that about Batman: Vengeance, or Dark Tomorrow, or any of the dozens Bat-Failures in videogame history.

 

I like how me and my friend used to pretend that this was fun... Man I was a dumb kid.

Every kid that loves Batman has wanted to be him at some point in their life.

We do it because goddamn it, he’s just a man.

Aside from the billionaire fortune, gadgets, and unlimited resources, at his core; Batman is just a man that woke up one day and committed himself to being Batman.

Even if it’s total bullshit, and has a 99% chance of never coming true, at some point in our lives, even if just for a moment; we trick ourselves into thinking that with enough time and dedication, we could be Batman if we really tried.

 

And there's kids like this that are destined to be loser-ly for the rest of their days. Seriously, who in their right mind would want to be Robin?

While I’ve long since grown beyond thinking that, it doesn’t stop me from thinking that playing a game like Arkham Asylum could make me relive those feelings in some capacity.

As of writing this, I haven’t actually started the game, but I was feeling nostalgic, so I figured a little Bat-Ruminating was in order.

Anyway, here’s hoping the game lives up to my insanely high standards!

*It should be noted that I am not a fan of Metroid, nor am I a fan of the Symphony of the Night style Castlevania games.  This could lead to some issues in terms of my overall enjoyment of Arkham Asylum, however I am hopeful my experience will lean towards the contrary.

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Demon’s Souls: Conquered

*Ahem!* I win...

*WARNING! SPOILER ALERT PERTAINING TO END GAME EVENTS.  NO SPECIFICS, BUT IF YOU REALLY WANT THE END-GAME TO BE A SURPRISE, TURN BACK NOW!*

Last night was easily one of the worst of my life.

Don’t expect this to happen on this blog all too often, but I’m sorry to say that my experience of being stuck in a snowy traffic jam in the Seattle area for 6 hours straight was horrible to the point in which I don’t think I want to share the details.

Seriously, it was that bad.

Anyway, as a result of getting home from work at around 11:30 PM, as well has having my body be a complete wreck as a result of the harsh cold and tight confines of my car, I decided that I simply could not allow myself to go to work today.

Despite this, Amazon saw fit to penalize me for doing so; even going so far as to call me in the morning to chastise me for my actions.

Though I love buying products the company, working for Amazon gives me an insight into the inner workings of their ground-level management that really leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Oh well, it’s a job, and that’s more than a lot of people have at the moment, so I’m thankful.

Moving on, as any self-respecting survivor of a 6 hour traffic jam would do, I decided to use my self-enforced day off from work to play Demon’s Souls.

No way was I gonna’ go outside today, even to pick up a copy of The Expendables.

I’ll do that tomorrow…

*Ahem!* Anyway, in short; I managed to beat Demon’s Souls today.

Much like the rest of the game’s limited story sequences, the end of the game was quite flat, and very much anti-climactic.

Truth be told, it had been so long since I had started the game (just over 20 hours of game time) that I honestly didn’t even remember who the last boss was, or why I was fighting him for that matter.

In either case, the last boss was pathetic.

Like, “he couldn’t hit me if he tried,” pathetic.

On one level, this was quite disappointing, as many of the earlier boss fights in the game were quite epic, and fairly inspired in how the actual battles were carried out.

At the same time though, as I recall bits and pieces of the supposed “story” of Demon’s Souls, (seriously, there’s not much to be found) I’m starting to understand that the final boss of the game was supposed to be a pitiful creature, to the point where it’s ironic that it serves as the game’s final challenge.

Demon’s Souls was an excellent game.

While it indeed has flaws, as pretty much any game does; it benefits from an indefinable element in it’s gameplay and presentation, a “hook” that serves to draw in a certain demographic of gamers.

As it turns out, I fit pretty well into that particular category of gamer, as I enjoyed my time with Demon’s Souls.

In regards to it’s vaunted, and supposedly impenetrable difficulty level, I have this to say:

The game is indeed quite difficult, but only if you’re bull-headed and refuse to adhere to the “rules” of the game.

The gameplay of Demon’s Souls is methodical and rigid, meaning the game is difficult; but everything has a rhythm and a weakness, so it’s up to you the player to determine these factors before charging headlong into things.

Hell, I game in practically reverse order, resulting in most of the enemies being far too powerful for me to handle most of the time, and yet in the end, I managed to get past them all through careful planning and observation.

As you play Demon’s Souls, just remind yourself:

The game is challenging, not unfair.

If you get pissed and break your controller when you die in a game, then I’m sorry, Demon’s Souls is probably not for you.

Seriously, controllers are what, $50?

You’d be bankrupt in a week.

If however, you take every death in the game as a sign of your own failings, an indication that you could’ve played better or smarter, then chances are you’ll have a lot of fun with Demon’s Souls.

Now that I’m done with my little advertisement for the game, I feel I should take a moment to talk about some of the random things that stuck out to me in my first playthrough of Demon’s Souls:

I was a little upset at the very limited selection of armors I ran across in the game.

While it’s probably my fault moreso than the game’s, I found that as a Knight, I only ended up changing my armor maybe twice throughout the entirety of the game.

Maybe it’s just because I selected a Knight, who just happens to start out with some the better starting equipment, but I felt myself getting bored of constantly finding new weapons and equipment, but never finding an armor that was good enough to switch over to.

Seriously man, I ended up beating the game wearing Mirdan armor, something the Temple Knight starts the game out with if I recall.

To me, that’s the equivalent of watching a version of the Iron Man movie where Tony Stark remains in the original Iron Man suit throughout the entire movie.

That’s that just plain sad.

Another quick thing, from a gameplay standpoint, those fuckin’ dragons were truly fucking pathetic.

Seriously man, they’re not enemies, or bosses for that matter, they’re fuckin’ scenery.

Destructible scenery that can, and will; wreck your shit 20 times before you figure out how to get past them.

I found one of those dragons on a list of 2009’s worst boss fights, and I can honestly say, whoever wrote that list is certainly justified in doing so.

Don’t ask me how I found the patience to actually kill those motherfuckers, but I did; and that’s largely the reason why I’m writing this “I beat Demon’s Souls, quick everyone, suck my golden cock!” article today instead of a week ago.

Seriously man, that traffic jam last night might’ve taken 6 hours of my life, but I’ll be damned if those dragons didn’t take at least an hour between the 2 of them.

Other than that, I think that’s about all I’ve got to say about Demon’s Souls for now.

Now that I’m done with the game, I think I’m gonna’ move on to something radically different.

With Metal Gear Solid 4 as my first PS3 game, followed by Demon’s Souls, I think it’s time I played something besides a 3rd person action game.

My gut is telling me to try Valkyria Chronicles, but I’m also leaning towards something a little more mindless like UFC: Undisputed 2010 (*Gasp!* but Azn Badger, I thought you hated the UFC!?).

At the same time though, who knows; maybe I’ll surprise even myself and hop back on the Final Fantasy wagon, of which I’ve been off ever since VIII.

There’s a lot of great games out there for the PS3, old and new; so feel free to let me know what I should look into.

Anyway, happy snow day to me; hopefully everyone drove safe this evening!

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Azn Badger’s Friend Mencius Started A Blog!

"Monkey sips master's wine!" "Drunken maid flirting with the master!" "Down the hatch!" "Waterfall!" ~ Actual Chinese proverbs.

So, you remember my buddy Mencius?

The guy that made that awesome Minecraft parody comic that I…  Honestly didn’t “get?”

Well, as fate would have it; he recently went ahead and started a blog of his own called Another Sunny Morning.

For those that don’t trust in-paragraph hyperlinks, (I understand.  I’ve lost loved ones to hyperlink-ing too…) please note that there is also a link to the blog listed on the “Links” column on the right.

For the truly dense and/or retarded, this is my not so subtle way of saying CLICK THE FUCKING LINK, EX-LAX.

Moving on, despite the title I assure you it’s not some coffee house, namby pampy, hipster-doofus-y poetry corner blog.

Pictured: Hopefully not the kind of imagery that posts at Another Sunny Morning will evoke.

At least I hope it isn’t.

If it is imma’ have to break ‘ole Mencius’ thumbs or some shit…

*Ahem!* Anyway, as thanks for all the publicity and promotion he gave to me by allowing me to post his comic, which he shamelessly whored out to the masses across the internets via Reddit; I feel it’s only right that I do what I can to send a little bit of traffic his way via my some shameless promotion of my own!

That being said, his blog is very young at the moment, and given what I know of him; he probably couldn’t give 2 shits as to how many people actually visit it, but do us both a favor and check it out anyway.

He’s honestly a terrific, insightful, and fun-loving writer, such that many people I’ve known over the years have seen fit to have him edit their work.

That’s more than I can say for myself, as my grammar, use of tenses, and sense of sentence structure are just about on par with a wombat.

An illiterate wombat, that smells of basil and turpentine…

That's the one...

Anyway, that’s me vouching for/promoting my buddy’s blog.

Sorry for the shitty post, work kind of fucked my writer’s brain for the day.

Either that or I got home earlier than normal and am itching to play some Demon’s Souls

Let’s just pretend it’s the former rather than the latter.

This post has been brought to you by the formidable combination of laziness and writer’s block.

ANOTHER SUNNY MORNING

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Demon’s Souls Just Raped My Face. And Ate My Children…

*WARNING!  SPOILER ALERT!  IF YOU’RE LIKE ME AND DON’T WANT ANY HELP OR SPOILERS ON YOUR FIRST RUN THROUGH DEMON’S SOULS, PLEASE STOP READING NOW! *

A few weeks ago I typed up a post declaring the nigh impenetrably difficult Demon’s Souls to be far less difficult than I previously assumed.

While this fact still rings true, something happened today that has taken my feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction and shat all over them.

Not only that, the game proceeded to set them on fire, and eat their children in front of them, seemingly just for kicks.

Oh yeah, and then the game tore out my eyes and raped my face, once again; seemingly just for the hell of it.

I’m not gonna’ lie, the past 2 days have been a rollercoaster ride for me in Demon’s Souls.

I cleared 2 and a half worlds, dusted God knows how many bosses, and even managed to save a few NPCs.

That last part is where the aforementioned face rape-age comes in.

You see, somewhere in the Tower of Latria stage, (one of the better and more atmospheric levels if you ask me) I happened upon a caged NPC named Yurt, The Silent Chief.

Sure, he looks like a wholesome and friendly guy...

Now, as I approached Yurt, preparing to engage him in conversation; I happened to notice that some of the player created messages scrawled on the ground near him were saying some awfully nasty things about him.

“Liar.”

“Don’t bother about nothing.”

These were the cryptic and/or cautionary messages strewn about in the immediate area.

Despite this, in games with morality systems, my general aim is to be a “white knight” of sorts on my first time through, so in keeping with that trend, I decided to free Yurt.

I figured:

“He hasn’t done anything wrong as far as I can tell.  He’s cool in my book for now.”

Sadly, my naivete was not to be rewarded.

From his gravelly, foreboding voice; and his decidedly menacing armor, I figured he was at least somewhat evil, however I figured I’d get a chance to rectify whatever mistakes I made by freeing him if he were to suddenly turn outright heel on me.

After I freed Yurt, I happened upon him on the second floor of the Nexus.

He was tucked away in a corner, very much out of sight; such that I was lucky to have even spotted him.

When I spoke with him, excited to see if he’d offer me a sub-quest, or reward me with some sort of item, I was surprised to find that he had nothing helpful to offer me whatsoever.

He sold no items, he offered no services, all he said was something along the lines of:

“Life is not as precious as most may think.”

Following that episode, I would go on to visit with Yurt with every successive return to the Nexus, hopeful that he would eventually say something or do something useful.

It never happened.

At some point, my dungeon crawling in Demon’s Souls fell into a unbelievably progressive rhythm.

For several hours, my character; Ultimate Warrior, was an unstoppable juggernaut of untold epic-ry.

If only I could get him to look like this in-game...

Bosses fell by the wayside, and at least one entire realm collapsed at the might of the Ultimate Warrior, effectively making me like I had finally made the gaming beast that is Demon’s Souls, my servile bitch.

After venturing into the untread depths of the heart of the lion’s den, I reached a point where my inventory was utterly full, even with the use of strength augmenting rings; and I was forced to return to the Nexus to offload my loot.

Only a game as cruel as Demon’s Souls could come at me at my highest of highs, and tear me down to the lowest of lows in the blink of an eye.

One blink, and my eyes were out of their sockets, while Demon’s Soul’s virtual cock jackhammer-ed my frontal lobe with fervor unimaginable.

You see, Yurt The Silent Chief is an assassin.

Not only that, he is an assassin assigned to kill the survivors of Boletaria, I.E. the central cast of the game made up of static NPCs, and NPCs you’ve rescued (like Yurt himself) throughout the course of the game.

Being as I never saw him kill anyone, I have to assume that he goes about his business off-screen, that is; while you are away having the time of your life, as I was.

When I returned from my epic journey, I returned to a Nexus devoid of life.

Every single character I had saved, began learning skills from, and in a loose sense, gotten to “know,” was missing from their previously constant positions.

I searched the upper floors.

I searched all of the dead end nooks and crannies.

Nothing.

All that remained, were a few floating orbs containing what I presume were said character’s belongings.

As I charged up the stairs, already coming to realize that Yurt had to have been responsible, I took note of the background music.

It was different.

After 20 or so hours of play, one notices when the previously monotonous music changes to something totally different.

The tone was gloomy and somber, such that I could tell that I had fucked up just by the sound of it.

When I approached Yurt, I was not surprised to hear him take full responsibility for the deaths of everyone in the Nexus.

As one would expect, the last task on his agenda just happened to involve killing me, which of course led to a brief melee between myself and Yurt.

Despite the horrors of his previous actions, Yurt proved to be a less than capable opponent.

Unable to deal any sort of serious damage to my Ultimate Warrior, I crushed Yurt, took his armor, and immediately put it into storage, finding it to be utterly worthless despite it’s striking appearance.

In the blink of an eye, Yurt The Silent Chief took my “white knight” sensibilities and swathed them in darkness.

To my knowledge, everyone who died, that is; every character in the game, will never come back.

I’ll never learn any more spells.

I’ll never learn any more miracles.

I’ll never get to hear anymore retarded stories and anecdotes that I genuinely never cared to hear in the first place.

In the blink of an eye, the living symbols of my success in Demon’s Souls were taken away from me, leaving my home base a dull and lifeless husk of pitiable solemn, complete with sad-sack music to drive the point home.

I’ll continue to push forward and beat Demon’s Souls, as to my knowledge I’m very near to the end, however I find that in getting there I simply don’t care as much as I used to.

Maybe it’s just me, but beating the game, and winning the day is a helluva’ lot more rewarding when you feel like you did a good job.

As it stands, after losing every NPC in the game to a mistake I didn’t even have a chance to realize I made; beating Demon’s Souls is going to be the equivalent to finishing a race, dead last; and crawling on all fours.

Sure, you finished; but do you feel good about it?

No, you feel humiliated; and realize you need to try harder next time, if there is a next time.

I can’t wait to be done with Demon’s Souls so I can finally move on and play something else…

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Thoughts On Call Of Duty: Black Ops

Since it’s release, I’ve had no less than 5 people tell me to by Call of Duty: Black Ops, usually because quote:

“Trust me, you’ll like it.”

That’s 5 different people inside of what, a week?

Now it should be noted that most of these people are not exactly close friends of mine, and are thusly unaware of how cheap/Azn/stingy I am when it comes to purchasing games, particularly at full retail price.

I suppose it also helps that I have a distinct phobia of register clerks, which makes the purchasing process all the more difficult.

We’ll get into that some other time…

Anyway, while I have yet to buy into the hype and pick myself up a copy of Black Ops, today I was fortunate to have the game quite literally brought to my door by my Krn buddy from up the street.

While both of us are veterans of the Call of Duty series, spanning all the way to the original title; my friend has been playing them online on his PS3 quite consistently in the past few years, making him a far more experienced player than myself.

I sort of dropped out of the series after Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

I had it for the PC, and really enjoyed it for the most part, however I never played it online; and rarely caught myself missing it when I had to format my PC.

That being said, I would never consider any game in the Call of Duty series to be anything less than excellent.

Well, except maybe Call of Duty 3… And maybe Big Red One.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say here, is that I’ve played COD, and I like COD, so don’t get butt hurt if it sounds like I’m being mean to your precious COD.

That being said, here’s my first impression of Black Ops after about 2-3 hours of online split screen play with my friend:

Black Ops makes me feel like an old man.

An old man with poor eyesight and shitty reflexes.

In short, like any online COD experience, the game is an insanely fast-paced rollercoaster ride of half second moments of awesome, followed by equally miniscule (yet all too frequent) moments of fail and butt hurt.

You run around, you shoot at things that move/have evil red words hanging over their head, and you die.

A LOT.

And yet, this unbelievably troglodytic cycle of mayhem and Red Bull fueled chaos somehow equates to something fun.

This is coming from somehow who’s probably played 10 hours of COD over the past 5 years, and just played Black Ops for the first time today.

What I mean to say is:

From what I can tell, I sucked pretty epicly at Black Ops my first time out.

My kill-death ratio was in the neighborhood of .70-.80, while my buddy’s was 2.0 even.

As mentioned above, the online component of Black Ops has an interesting (well, at least to me it’s interesting…) flow to it.

For a FPS newb such as myself, the game felt alarmingly fast, as if everything in the game world, my character included, was moving just a half beat quicker than I was ready for.

Then again, I’ve been playing Demon’s Souls and Metal Gear Solid 4 for the past several weeks, so by comparison; just about anything would seem fast…

Being a newb really hurt me in Black Ops.

At times, I found myself getting killed quite rapidly, to the point where it felt downright embarrassing.

Despite this, to it’s credit, Black Ops, like any COD game I’d imagine, manages to counter this quite well with it’s quick pacing.

In short, you simply aren’t given enough time to feel shitty about anything in the game, ’cause in most cases you’ll be back in the fight in no time anyway.

That being said, it should be noted that I felt myself “going numb” at times.

That is to say, I would kill and die, (mostly die) and do something cool every now and again, but everything came so clustered together, that I would just stop caring after awhile.

When you don’t care whether you live or die in a game, that either means that the stakes of the game aren’t all that important, the actual gameplay experience isn’t as meaningful as one would hope, or the player is someone that truly doesn’t give a fuck.

I was somewhere between the first and the last portions of the above statement, however I’d imagine it would really ruin someone’s day to find that their feelings coincide with the second.

Make no mistake, playing COD online is a very different beast from playing something like Demon’s Souls that severely punishes failure.

It’s an instant gratification game that punishes and rewards by inches, with all the worthwhile rewards only coming as a result of logging a great deal of playtime hours.

Personally, I prefer my games to have tangible stakes tied to my performance, however this is simply a case of personal preference.

Regardless, I died all the time when I was playing Black Ops, and while that pissed me off from time to time, particularly when I was getting my ass handed to me mere seconds after respawning, I’d usually forget about it once I got my legs back under me and scored a kill or 2.

In a sense, playing COD online is a strangely bipolar experience, with pleasurable and frustrated emotions coming and going as rapidly as they can manifest.

And they say A.D.D. isn’t a problem among the current generation…

From a features standpoint, while I can’t really compare it to the previous COD games all that much, I have to say, it seems like Black Ops has a lot going for it.

The equipment and perk customization is back, largely unchanged from it’s previous iterations.

The map selection is well varied, and seems adequate in quantity, with a number of the maps being tailor made for the Ground War mode in the sense that close-quarters engagements are almost a guarantee.

The Nazi Zombie mode from World At War is back, and seems to be a little more forgiving than it’s previous iteration.

That is to say, the weapons are more effective for the most part, and the initial map is far more spacious, lending the player a great deal more survivability due to their ability to turn tail and run if need be.

Outside of that though, Nazi Zombies feels largely the same, albeit with a lighter tone, a few campy power ups, and a more frantic pace.

Anyway, I only played Black Ops for a few hours, but those are my thoughts.

It seems like a pretty good game, though my lack of skill, combined with my recently adopted positive stance towards “deeper” gameplay experiences, leads me to believe that I probably won’t be buying another COD game anytime soon.

Sorry peoples that told me to by Black Ops, while I did indeed “like it,” I think I’m gonna’ hang onto my $60 for now.

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