Saturday, April 25, 2015

Personal Note - Variety! Blues, Bloodborne and general geekery.

Ahhh Saturday.

It has been one hell of a week.  Did I ever tell you that the blues is what first made Kayla realize she was attracted to me?  I make a terrible first impression, and she'd initially considered me an "arrogant asshole," but I was an arrogant asshole who ran in the same circles, so she just had to deal.  We'd been to a lot of parties together, and I'm one of these doinks who will go hook up their iPod to the host's music system (though, in my defense, I am often asked to).  On one such occasion, I did just that, and plopped myself back down into a chair at the patio table and lit a smoke as the song came up.

"What is this?" Kayla asked.

It was Wang Dang Doodle by Koko Taylor, but I didn't say that.  I looked her in the eye, smiled and said "that's blues, baby." That phrase, I was later told - along with the precise tenor and cadence I wielded that day - elicited the "sploosh" response.

For that reason alone, blues can be considered "the good shit," but one of the things I love about it (beyond just... y'know, loving it) is how there is always another gem to discover.  There are a thousand Wang Dang Doodles out there - wonderful emotional moments, crystallized in audio - that we'll never find, without digging.

So digging, on occasion, is a worthy effort.

Everything here's from an album The Heavy pointed me to called Midnite Blues Party.

Anyway, let that spin.  Shall we speak of geekery?

Being Canadian does not, often, present challenges.  It's a first-world country with good Internet, and any major movie or game will be out here day and date with its US release.  We're basically the US with better manners, but when things get the least bit obscure, we take a hit.

An unknown release from a third-tier publisher, for example, might make its way north of the border a half-week or week after its initial release,- but I didn't expect the Bloodborne strategy guide to be in that boat. When I (and everyone else) bought Demon's Souls, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves in to.  I didn't buy the strategy guide (did it even have one?), but for Dark Souls and its sequel, I had no problem snapping up the hardcover Collector's Edition guides on day one.

Now, a huge part of the pleasure of a Souls game is of feeling your way through it, and finding answers with the community, but - to me, at least - when you love a game, it's lovely to have a tome of knowledge at your side, replete with the Final Word on this and that, filled to the brim with original concept art and insight from the developers.  It completes me.

And you know the deal with strategy guides - they're always sitting on the counter at GameStop when you go in on launch day for whatever game just came out - but with Bloodborne, I was taking no chances.  When March 24th rolled around, I called my store to ask if they could hold a copy of whatever strategy guide Bloodbone had received for me... and was told they didn't have any.


"Yeah, we didn't get any."

"Will you get any?"

"It's not showing up in my system..."

Okay.  Whatever.  Kevin must just be messing with me today.  I went down to pick up the game, but it was true.  No strategy guides!

That's... okay, though.  That's fine.  I can certainly play through Bloodborne without a guide's assistance (and did, in fact), but... my inner fanboy felt the loss sharply.

There was a book-shaped hole in my love for Bloodborne.  I immediately turned to and placed a preorder on the Bloodborne Collector's Edition Strategy Guide, which had no release date.

Turns out Future Press had held off on the release of the book to ensure it was up-to-date with the day-one patch changes - a choice I appreciate - and the book would release on the 14th of April.

Bam.  Preordered.

April 14th came and went.  I beat Bloodborne twice, in this time.

"Not yet shipped.  We need a little more time to provide you with a delivery estimate," kept saying.  Every day.  April 21st rolled around.  People in the US started receiving their guides, and kept telling me they had no idea when my preorder would ship or arrive.

This happens to me every fucking time I preorder anything through Amazon.  They just never send it!  It's like they take preorders for items they will never receive, and I have no conception how one of the biggest retailers in the world can't know when they're getting a book in.  It's insane.

Even now, today, doesn't have the bloody thing in stock.

Can someone explain to me how this is a best seller
when you've never received or shipped out any copies of the bloody thing?!

So screw that.  On Wednesday, I checked one last time to see if .CA had it in stock, or had a ship date.  They did not.  I checked .COM to see if they had it in stock.  They did.

Order cancelled on .CA, order made on .COM.  It shipped on Thursday and arrived last night.  It's gigantic.

Dark Souls & Dark Souls II guides, and the Valkyria Chronicles III Imca Nendoroid for size comparison.

There's a huge interview with director Hidetaka Miyazaki at the back of the book, and it is... exhaustive.  Every enemy, every damage type, damage calculations, et cetera.  Did you know that every single attack in the game is affected by a damage multiplier?  Like, your step-back-forward attack might be x1.05 damage, but your charged R2 might be x2?

It breaks down each weapon in the game over multiple pages, and actually discusses the movement properties of the attacks.


So that showed up yesterday.  Awesome.

I'm plucking away at the Bloodborne review, naturally - and quite happy with what I've got, so far - but with two playthroughs under my belt, I still don't feel done.  I want to start up yet another new game and see what I can get done with the threaded cane...

But, y'know, there's other stuff to do.  I never wrote an Olli Olli 2 review! Heck, I never finished Hotline Miami 2.  Shovel Knight is frickin' awesome, but...

...but Bloodborne is Bloodborne...

Anyway, other geekery!

For some reason, yesterday, Kayla and I actually had the energy to get up and go down to our collectibles/comics shop.  The last time we were there, they had the One:12 Collective Batman: The Dark Knight Returns action figure.

The first time I saw him, I had resisted.  'Cause I was broke.  I was all

I'm not big on action figures or poseable figures at all.  They're too finicky, take too long to get looking decent, and sometimes you pay three hundred dollars, open the package and the fucking arm was never attached to begin with, and never will be in this life.  Play Arts Kai can die in a fire.

But here's the thing... y'know that cool hipster redesign of Batgirl?  I love that design, and she's getting a black & white figure like Harley.  I told Kayla that I love the design and I was kind of tempted... but Batgirl holds no great sway, for me.  Not like Harley - not like Bats himself.

And it then occurred to me that it was strange that I have a Harley figure and not a Batman figure.  "But if I was gonna' get a Batman figure," I explained, "I'd want it to be like a really great Batman: The Animated Series Batman.  Or a Dark Knight Returns Batman."

The problem being, awesome scale figs of those don't exist.  An action figure is the best you'll get, and this... this is one hell of an action figure.

My resolve kinda' broke when the folks at FigureGAF started talking about its quality - how awesome the heads are, how great the cloth of his Batsuit works, the fact that the cape is actual cloth and comes with a wire skeleton you can place beneath, to achieve the shape you want.

So last time I saw him, I resisted.

This time, it was financially doable.  I saw he was still available and was like

And Kayla says"you should buy it" and I was all "but it's expensive" and she goes "here's sixty bucks" so I'm like

and then

I think I'll muck around with the frame for the cape a bit - maybe get something more dynamic going and then set him up in a shelf with Harley.  He's about $100, comes in blue or black cowl/armor variants, and... yeah, he looks awesome (thank you Kayla).

Oh, also, remember Sin City?  Not the comic books, the movie?

I love Marv.  I loved that Hard Goodbye story, and when Sin City first came out on Bluray, I sprung for the special edition that came with a teensy bluray-sized copy of Marv's story.  I adored it, and - years ago, when times were tough - I parted with it in exchange for a buck or two.

That's weighed on me, ever since, to the point that every time I wander through a bookstore's graphic novel/comics section, I'll check out their Sin City options to see if The Hard Goodbye is available - it never is.  It's always a case of "it might be in this three hundred dollar super-omnibus wrapped in plastic, but you can't check to find out!"

So while we were at the geek store, I spied a bunch of Sin City books on a top shelf.  There it was. A reissue with new cover at by Miller himself - the first of a bunch of Sin City volumes (The Hard Goodbye was the first Sin City arc).

Groovy.  I think I may start up a new collection.

Before we left, I asked them to order me a copy of the Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus volume 8.

For the past year or so I've been picking up the books as they release - finally, Lone Wolf and Cub in nice, healthy-size print - but this one, for some reason, didn't come in at the local huge bookseller chain or the other local huge bookseller chain.  If my nerd mecca is able to order it?

Sure, I'll give 'em my custom.

Annnd... one more blues track, I think.

Oh, and I just remembered I promised you a Shovel Knight .GIF the other day.  Here you are:

That is a game that controls well.  It's just... well, it's excellent is what it is.  Zero complaints, from me.

And now... I think it's time to get a little fancy.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Mad Max gameplay overview trailer.

See, DICE?  This is gameplay.  And this looks amazing.

...if it plays well, that is.

It should.  They made Just Cause.

The Briefest of Game Diaries.

Yesterday, Kayla taught me how to use my hot new cellphone as a WiFi hotspot.  I hooked my Vita up to it as soon as I got into the office, downloaded the game, and waited patiently for my lunch break.  After work, I told Kayla that we needed to pick up a few PSN cards.  She asked why, and I explained I was buying a copy of Shovel Knight for her.

To put it succinctly, Shovel Knight hits all the right notes as a spiritual successor to old challenging NES classics like Mega Man - without ever seeming to be quite that challenging.  I've not yet cursed at my Vita, even as the game steadily ratchets up its expectations of the player.  It's beautiful, in its eight-bit way, and charming, and its soundtrack is excellent.

And the controls... well, I'll get into that tonight.  I have a .GIF to show you - or will, by this evening.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Music post! The Black Angels.

I been feelin' mighty low, lately.  Just... just everything, man.  I am down, and life has been kicking me.  Usually I'll turn on my mix list at work, and will sometimes dance around to other playlists as the mood strikes - but for the past few days, all I've needed to do is tap on my Black Angels playlist, turn it to random and let it go.  And it works.

It's what I need.  Check it out.

And now, to make dinner.

And then, in a desperate search for something that will spark the imagination of the excitable, gleeful child I'm quite sure still dwells within me, I will try Shovel Knight.

Did you know Shovel Knight came out on PSN today?

(Shovel Knight came out on PSN today.  Cross-buy.)  Like an asshole, I left my Vita at the office so I'm gonna' have to throw down on the PS4.

But first, Hawaiian pizza.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Minipost! About Daredevil on Netflix.

Kayla's usual Netflix diversion is Once Upon a Time.  I never got in to it, and never formed much of an opinion on the show beyond the belief that whoever plays Prince Charming is a bad actor, and not good.

We taste-tested Daredevil, and it turned out to be one of those shows we could both enjoy - which are precious gems, like Hannibal, Justified and Archer.  [update]  Turns out it's just me that likes Daredevil.  I was lying to myself about Kayla. [/update] Daredevil's bloody fisticuffs can kinda' paint your perception of other shows, though.

A few days ago, I walked into the living room as she was watching Once Upon a Time, and Captain Hook was throwing down with some other pirate for some reason or another, and I couldn't help but opine,

"After Daredevil...  I just don't buy that these two are trying to kill each other."

Oh, and I'll say the guy who plays Foggy is also a bad actor, and not good.  He looks the part, but he's the weakest actor on the show.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Defiled Chalice dungeons. Oh my lambda.

I think it's safe to say that I actually enjoy Bloodborne more than any previous Souls title.  Case in point: I'm still playing it.  I'm still mucking about in the game - and lately, that has consisted entirely of wandering around the chalice dungeons and seeing what's up.

If you thought making it through the dark, lovely city of Yharnam was hard, you ain't seen nothin' yet.  The first few chalice dungeons were obviously designed for lower-level players in mind, but before long I was in to some nice, challenging stuff - terribly dangerous enemies I couldn't just one-shot - and I was loving it.  Then, I found out that to get to Queen Yharnam's dungeon, I had to go through something called the Defiled Pthumerian chalice dungeon.

This.  This is hard.

Not the dungeon itself - that's merely challenging, and requires me to be on top of my game - but the bosses.  Two down, so far, and I've made it to the third - but these are bosses that stopped me in my tracks.  The crucial factor, here, is that your health bar is halved in these dungeons - which drastically changes the balance and dynamics of encounters you've overcome before.

For about an hour, yesterday, I threw myself against the Defiled Watchdog of the Old Lords, and he kicked the shit out of me.  Today, I tried again, and Kayla came in to watch.

This thing has multiple attacks that will, literally, one-shot kill me.  There are a few moves you can just eat, if you miss your dodge, but he has a ton of stuff with very short tell animations that will just - bam - end the fight.  Try again.

I finally beat him, though.

It was kinda' spectacular when I finally stuck the landing.  I haven't had this much trouble with a boss since the Ancient Dragon (an optional boss) in Dark Souls II.

And now... now I gotta' kill a super-buffed Amygdala with a gimped health bar...

[update]  Fuckyeah!

Now, to kick the shit out of Gherman again.


(Loving Bloodborne.)

Why won't you let me take pictures of your nipples, The Order: 1886?

Y'all know I liked The Order: 1886 - and one of the things I appreciated it was the game's way of permitting itself to have adult situations without pandering, or appealing to the porn-informed appetites of lusty teenagers.

Well, y'know the photo mode that was recently patched into the game?  I haven't had time to check it out, yet, myself - Bloodborne's talons remain buried in my gamer heart - but it appears if you activate photo mode while any of The Order's three naked people are onscreen, those people just - blip - disappear.  Can't take pictures of The Order's ultra-high-fidelity dangly bits.

...which is weird to me.  The Order's a very, very rare game that has nudity which never feels exploitive or damaging - it feels mature in a meaningful way, instead of just a rating on the side of a box - and to have Ready at Dawn cover up one of their strongest and most respectable choices feels... cowardly?

Yes, cowardly.  Ready at Dawn, you made a strong, intelligent choice with precisely how you showed nudity in The Order.  What possible reason you could have for not wanting your good example to serve as a good example to gamers, parents and other developers around the world is elusive, to me.

Twenty five Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness screenshots

Click to embiggen.  Some of these look kinda' meh - but other ones look kinda' pretty!

See? Kinda' pretty!

This almost looks like a church someone made in Minecraft.

You might be thinkin' is that just a pattern on an outfit, or is she wearing what is, essentially one step up from a fishnet catsuit?

And to that I say,