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Bloodborne – First Impressions

Even an innovative game like this still has the default box art design of “one badass standing in the middle”.

Bloodborne is a third-person adventure/horror(?) game made by From Software and exclusively on the PS4. It is the fourth game in what is known as the Souls series (Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls 2, and Bloodborne). Bloodborne has been out for a few months now, so hopefully most of the people who want to try it have gotten a chance by now. I’ve certainly gotten plenty of time with it this past week, and I’m not completely the worst player anymore. I have a lot of opinions about it because that’s what I’m good at.

The Setting

Bloodborne seems to be taking place in a sort of Victorian-Era London-y town named Yharnam. The architecture on display is mind-blowing, and the city would be beautiful, if not for the rampant werewolves, bonfires, and blood-red sky. The inhabitants apparently solve all their problems with magical blood, and now that I’ve arrived in town and been given a transfusion, so do I. The downside is that this blood usage seems to be people turning into monstrous beasts, but even so, blood is still basically the religion of the whole town, used to treat all illnesses, and is even a substitute for alcohol. So far I haven’t learned a whole lot about the situation other than I should hunt beasts, because I’m a hunter and that’s what hunters do.

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Legend of Grimrock 2

Legend of Grimrock 2 was released in October 2014 and is an improvement over the first in almost every aspect. After the original’s sales proved the existence of a market for this type of game, the team set out to make a sequel with a much larger scope, and in my opinion, knocked it right out of the park. There’s more content, more imaginative puzzles, better skill progression, more races, more weapons, extremely varied locations, and an interesting overarching set of mysteries that tie the game together. Almost Human is a development team to keep an eye on in the future.

This game maintains the grand tradition of starting adventures with a shipwreck.

The first thing to note about Grimrock 2 is the existence of what the layperson calls “outside”. The previous game was spent entirely inside a dungeon, and while the dungeon looked nice and did incorporate many different styles of architecture, it was still a dark, cramped dungeon. Grimrock 2 does have some nice-looking dungeon parts, but the art for the outdoors maps is gorgeous. Forests, deserts, beaches, bogs, castles and pyramids are just a few of the locales the player will visit, all while exploring the same island.

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Let’s Deconstruct Super Paper Mario – Part 4

Let’s get back on SPM, it was a nice break from the topic but now it’s time to look at even more of this decidedly strange game.

We’ve obtained a 3rd Pure Heart, and the villains look pretty silly now. Dimentio is sent by Count Bleck to deal with Mario and co., and we find out that O’Chunks had to write 1000 pages about his failure. Now THAT’S villainous, torture by forced writing! Mimi isn’t around to apologize for failing, maybe she died. Bleck postures about how strong he is for a bit, and how good it will be to destroy the world, and says something about his heart suffering. His sadness isn’t explained yet.

We go to Luigi, who appears to be in the same place Peach was last chapter. He meets two Goombas, and expresses concern for their well-being, even though he regularly squashes them flat. Also these particular Goombas are jerks.

Even this tiny bit of concern is totally unwarranted.

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Diablo 3 Beta – A Quick Look

So, the Diablo 3 open Beta Weekend is over, and I am no longer able to play it (thanks for never giving me a real beta invite, Blizzard). However, I did play it almost nonstop while it was available, and so I have gathered my thoughts and impressions together in this post. Please keep in mind that the Beta only covered 1/3 of Act 1 and 13 possible levels, so this is basically only the tip of a much, much larger game.

The Classes

D3 brings only 5 classes to the table, less than D2, but each of them had their own similarities to D2 classes, with some new things thrown in. The Barbarian returns as the incredibly destructive melee hero, skilled in cutting swaths through enemies and grinding hordes of mobs to paste in seconds. He actually felt extremely overpowered in the beta, and at no point did I have trouble playing him. He’s pretty close to his D2 counterpart, but more focused on cleaving and attacking groups. The Wizard is the quintessential elemental spellcaster, with lots of AoE effects than slow and snare enemies, and is very squishy in combat. I found that the wizard was very weak in the beta, especially compared to some of the the things the other classes were doing. I imagine the class is stronger at higher levels, just like in D2.

The Demon Hunter played like any kind of archer with traps you can think of, and I wasn’t too excited about it, even though it was cool to watch. All of the DH’s moves have style. I’m hoping that’s also a class that also gets better with time, because it look like it had potential. Unfortunately, due to some server issues (lots of those this weekend, since it was a stress test), I wasn’t able to try Monk or Witch Doctor much, but I have gathered that the Monk is very much like a Paladin, and the Witch Doctor has summons, like a Necromancer. Every class has a primary stat, Strength, Dexterity, or Intelligence, and it’s a very easy system to use. Also, unlike D2, each class can be either gender. Read the rest of this entry

Let’s Deconstruct Super Paper Mario – Part 3

So last time, we finally got to fight the villains a bit, adventure, and get our first Pure Heart (that required effort). Mario headed back to Flipside, and we are treated to another villain interlude! Maybe this time we’ll actually learn more about their plans.

That's some serious villainy there, giving homework.

So O’Chunks is back from his pathetic failure against Mario, and is begging for forgiveness. Count Bleck, ever the forward thinker, decides that Mario is a real threat, and decides to set a trap for him at the next Pure Heart. Evidently, the prophecy that named Mario as the hero also completely lines out his entire adventure and the order in which he will gain the hearts, so if the villains manage to LOSE, they have no one to blame but themselves. Mimi is sent, apparently she has magic powers from Bleck. Again, they don’t all go gang up on Mario, but at least this time we see that Bleck and Nastasha have some business. Bleck declares that he has to go somewhere and do something (and that’s all we get), and Nastasha goes to subdue some of Bowser’s minions, who are still hanging around since the wedding. Why doesn’t she take a minute to go mind control Mario? Read the rest of this entry

Let’s Deconstruct Super Paper Mario – Part 2

So after receiving our quest and hearing from our villains, we set off through the dimensional door to go find the second Pure Heart. Every chapter of this game is divided into specific sections, with title cards like “1-1”, another reference to the original Mario games. In fact, everything about this first area should remind you of the original Mario games, because it’s a direct homage to them. Even the music is a jaunty (if disjointed) remix of the classic Mario theme.

The line between paying homage to and ripping off classic Nintendo games blurs more each day.

Upon entering this chapter, Tippi tell you that you can point the Wiimote at the screen to have her examine and describe objects and people, and even reveal hidden objects and doors.  So far, this is the only use of the motion controls, but it’s not a bad mechanic. It’s a little forced in this first chapter, maybe, because while there are several hidden doors, I’m willing to bet that there’s a lot less invisible things in later chapters. I don’t remember, but I’ll try to keep track. Read the rest of this entry

Let’s Deconstruct Super Paper Mario – Part 1

Super Paper Mario is the latest installment in the series, and is very different from the other two entries. “Wildly divergent from the formula” is an understatement, and the fanbase is divided over the quality of this game. I had a lot to say about this game when I first played it, but that was two years ago, so I need a refresher. In these deconstruction posts, I’m going to take you through the game as I play it again for the first time, and tell you what’s good, what’s bad, what’s new, and what is old. The game is divided into chapters, so I’ll try to do a chapter each post. Today is just the opening, which is exposition-heavy. Read the rest of this entry

Fission Mailed

Today I had a post talking about the intro to Super Paper Mario, and I don’t know what WordPress did, but it posted it blank and lost the draft. I have bits that I can pull back together, but I don’t have time for it today anymore, so I guess I’ll post it tomorrow. From now on, I’m never going to trust WordPress with this kind of thing. I’ll write them in Word, even if it means sometimes having weird image difficulties.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (2004)

Paper Mar: TTYD is a sequel in style and gameplay to the original Paper Mario. The graphics are better (but everything is still paper), the controls are smoother, and the locations are even more varied and interesting than ever. Besides the staple Mario cast, it features a unique cast of distinct and quirky characters. It really feels like a Paper Mario 2.0, and I think it is an improvement in almost every way. Besides the whole paper world thing, the main gimmick of this game is that fights are now done on a stage, where you can gain or lose audience appeal and even receive help (or hindrance) from audience members. If you have enough appeal, you can cast certain spells. It plays on the fact that the whole world knows Mario, and it makes it a fun part of the story. Read the rest of this entry

Paper Mario (2001)

The original Paper Mario should be considered a spiritual successor to Super Mario RPG. It doesn’t have any of the unique characters or locations that appeared in SMRPG, and the art is totally different, but the plot is very similar, and it is also a turn-based story and character-focused game set in the Mario universe. I’m willing to call that close enough.

Paper Mario’s main gimmick is that everything is well…paper. You see almost everything from the front, but when people or objects are turned on their sides, they become nearly invisible lines. Also, there are many points in the game where holes appear in the backdrop, fire is used to burn away objects, and obstacles unfold as if they were made by a master in origami. It’s cute and silly and gives the world a unique feeling. You are a 2d being traversing a 3d world filled with 2d everything. Read the rest of this entry