Monday, November 30, 2015

Podcast Episode 10 - Yo-Kai Watch!

Another month has gone by, which means that it's time for another podcast. This month I talk about Yo-Kai Watch! and why I think it's so interesting. Do you know what Yokai are? How into Japanese ghosts are you? Listen to the podcast to find out!

Friday, November 27, 2015

End of the Year Rush

I had the past three days off, and in those three days I expected to play a lot more video games than I did. This means that I essentially have the month of December to beat six more games, which is a very unrealistic goal that I hope to complete. This is the kind of thing that shouldn't matter at all, but I really enjoy making game of the year lists. I like looking back on the games that came out in a year and seeing how I felt about all of them. It's made even harder by the fact that I tell myself I have to complete a game in order to put it on my list. This doesn't mean I have to 100% the game, it just means that I have to see the narrative or single player portion through to its completion and see the credits. This isn't possible in everything, so it's definitely a case by case basis.

There is only one more game coming out this year that I will be playing, so five of the six games I hope to beat I already have in my possession. I will now rank them starting with the one that I'm most likely to complete.

1. Splatoon (Wii-U)
2.Life is Strange (PS4)
3. Undertale (PC)
4. Yoshi's Wooly World (Wii-U)
5. Fallout 4 (PS4)
6. Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii-U)

Realistically I will probably only finish three of these games before the year is over. If I only beat one of these though, I want it to be Splatoon. For starters the single player is super short, and I'm already over halfway through it. The reason I want to beat it so badly is because I honestly think that it deserves a spot on my top ten list for the year. Nintendo took a huge risk and it paid off.

Life is Strange is feasible as well. It's a 5 episode game where each episode is approximately 2-3 hours long. I have already completed the first two chapters, so I have rougly 6-9 hours left to go. If I actually motivate myself to play it on my next day off I can definitely beat it!

Then we have Undertale. I've seen a lot of people speak highly of this PC indie title, but I have yet to start it. I've heard that it takes around 5 hours to complete, so I hope I can get around to starting it. This is one of those games that I want to try and complete in a single sitting, so I need to block off some time to do so.

I made a huge mistake and purchased Yoshi's Wooly World the other day. I love the game, but I don't think I should have bought it when I did. So far I've beaten 2 out of the 5 worlds in the game, and have had a lot of fun with it. I mean come on, Yoshi is literally made of wool. It makes my heart feel all warm and fuzzy, but I think all the other games on this list are more important in the grand scheme of 2015.

This is where the list makes me want to break down and cry. The main story of Fallout 4 is relatively short, but I have a serious problem when it comes to games like this. I always do as much of the side content as possible. In a Bethesda game like Fallout that is actually a majority of the game, and it's where all the cool stuff happens. When I sit down to play Fallout I intend to main-line the story, but end up running around doing everything else for like six hours. As much as I want to beat the game, I'd rather keep doing all of the side content.

Finally I have Xenoblade Chronicles X. It comes out on December 4th, and there is no way I'm going to complete it. The game is so dense that I can't even begin to fathom how much content is in it. It has MMO style combat like the previous Xenoblade, but takes it into a gigantic open world with a million other systems layered on top. Watching gameplay videos of this game makes me want to cry as someone who would like to beat it before the year it through. This may be the one game I allow myself to put on a top ten list without having completed it. Seriously, it takes like 30 hours to get a robot, which is pictured on the games case! If I don't know how I feel about the game after that long, then its definitely not one of the best games of the year.

So there you have it. This is my goal for the rest of the year. I don't know how many I'll get to, but I'm going to try my damnedest!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Honest Opinion: Bethesda RPGs are a little too broken

At this point in time many people are enjoying their time with the newly released Fallout 4. I was, up until two nights ago when I last played. Bethesda RPGs are known to be a little janky, and it makes sense that they are. The scope of the worlds they create are unparalleled, so when people don't look at you while talking, or float a little too far off the ground it's kind of funny.

There's another type of jank that Bethesda games bring to the table that's not quite as funny, and at this point has me considering whether or not I should continue to play the game. The last time I played I found myself in a building with a lot of security in it. Many terminals to hack and robots to loot. I did my business, and then made a save. I then continued to do a few more things and made a quick save. There was an elevator to another part of the building, which I then took up. At the top I got gunned down by an assault robot I had never seen before. That's fine, I can just load my last save and go back there. Wrong!

Upon loading the game I go back into the elevator and hit the button to go back up to the top of the building. Immediately the frame rate drops below ten and continues to chug for a few minutes. The game eventually went back up to speed, but the elevator kept on going. I waited a minute and it still didn't stop. No big deal right? That kind of stuff can happen when a game has so many moving parts. Giving it the benefit of the doubt I load again, and it does the same thing. I load a third time and the game crashes to the main menu of the PlayStation telling me that an error occured and the game had to close. Cool!

What made me even more angry was that the PlayStation then told me I should try updating the game, There is no update. When a game crashes like that, especially on a console it kills all of my motivation. So I just turned off the PS4 and went about my life doing other things. Earlier today I booted it back up. I tried the elevator again hoping that it would work, but once again the frame rate chugged and when it came back up to speed the elevator never stopped.

Fine. I decided to give up on the building. I open the door to go back out into the wasteland and the game crashes! Oh sweet! So now I can't go up in the elevator, or get out of this building without the game breaking. Amazing!

This wouldn't be nearly as frustrating if my last save wasn't far before this point. People always recommend making multiple saves and saving often, but I had two saves very near to each other that are now both unusable. The autosave system also only works after ten minutes go by and you look at your pip boy, or you eneter a building. Surprise, I hadn't looked at my pip boy in a long time, and the most recent autosave is in the building that crashes the game when I try to leave it! Yes, I can go back to a save that was a half hour or so before this point, but now I'm always going to be worried that the game is going to break in spectacular fashion.

I realize that these kinds of things don't happen to everyone, but when they do they're devastating. There is a very real scenario in which I would have had to start the game all over after playing for over twenty hours.

I know that the amount of variables in Bethesda RPGs make them nearly impossible to playtest, but this kind of stuff is ridiculous. Maybe a patch will come out eventually to un-break this building, but will I still care then? Who can say?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Memorable Melodies - Lookin' Fresh from Splatoon

Song: Lookin' Fresh
Game Splatoon
Composer: Toru Minegishi

It's getting close to the end of the year, which has me thinking about all of the games that came out in 2015. As I try to whittle the games I've played down to a top ten list Splatoon keeps popping into my mind. I remember everyone getting excited about it when it was first announced, but I couldn't have cared less at the time.

After playing Splatoon I totally changed my mind. Nintendo took a risk, which they normally don't do. Splatoon is a fresh and friendly take on third person shooters. Shooting ink everywhere is a blast and the game truly feels unique. 

What's even better to me is that the game is overflowing with style. The inklings you play as are way into fashion, and all of the clothing is as hip as it can be. To match the hip and colorful style of the characters the soundtrack of Splatoon sounds like it came from an early Gorillaz album. It's got some sick hip-hop beats. My personal favorite is the shop music. There are four shops, and the song gets remixed slightly in each one. 

I'm here to tell you that the jam playing in the shoe store is the freshest track I've ever heard in a Nintendo game. Seriously, just check it out. In my mind this song and the style of Splatoon are synonymous. 

I hope that the success of this game means that Nintendo will be more willing to go outside of their comfort zone in the future. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Memorable Melodies: The Rusty Anchor from Grim Fandango

Song: The Rusty Anchor
Game: Grim Fandango
Composer: Peter McConnell? (Don't actually know)

This past Friday I completed one of my all time favorite games on stream for charity. In fact, I do it every year. The game already meant a lot to me, because it was one of the first games I have fond memories of. It also touches on my writing sensibilities. It's both well written, and funny, which is harder than you'd think to pull off in a video game.

However, now it holds an all new meaning. The first time I streamed on Twitch for real I played through Grim Fandango while my friend Noukeo got to see it for the first time. I've come a long way since then, and it's cool that my yearly playthrough of the game can now be something more by raising money for charity.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is that I still find new things in each playthrough of the game I have, When the HD re-release of the game came out I found out that if you show Glottis an item you would never normally show him he bursts out into song. So, there is a point in the game when you get a piece of paper that says the rusty anchor, and a number on it. You're supposed to bring it to the tattoo parlor, because it's referring to one of the sample tattoos in the book there. It's cool, because there's no real reason you'd ever show Glottis the item, but if you do you're treated to a delightful little sea shanty!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Extra Life 2015 Was a Success!

This is it! This is the entirety of my Extra Life 2015 stream in 9 parts! I had a ton of fun doing this, and I'm proud to say that we surpassed our goal of $100 dollars. We ended with $130, which is crazy. If you read this, and still want to donate Extra Life accepts donations a bit after the date. Our team can be found at

I just want to thank everyone who stopped by to keep us company, and everyone who made a donation to a good cause. Watching this back a bit there were audio issues, especially in the Rivals of Aether segment. That one was totally my fault, because I didn't turn down the PC audio like I should have. Other than that sometimes it's hard to hear us talk when a game is being played. The game audio was a little bit too loud, but it's also hard to pick up audio from multiple people, so I did the best I could.

Excuses aside, I hope you enjoy the videos above. If I had to say, part 3 is the absolute best part! We play Ultimate Muscle: Legends Vs. New Generation, and it is an absolute blast. We make custom characters based on the people who donated! Zucchini Zach, and Tusslin' Tiff are so good. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time!

Thank you all again. I've come a long way in the past year, and I hope to expand in the years to come.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Game Time - October 2015

As I mentioned in the last edition of Game Time, my two most anticipated games of 2015 came out in October. That's right, Rock Band 4 and Disgaea 5 hit me on the same day! To no one's surprise those were really the only two games I played last month, and while I "beat" them I'm still playing the crap out of both of them. 

There's not much introduction to be done here, so without any further dawdling we're going to get right into it. It's game time!

Rock Band 4

There was a time around 2008 when video games centered around the playing of plastic instruments were very popular. The craze started with the original Guitar Hero, and Peaked around the time Rock Band 2 came out. Rock band was, and is a lot of fun to play in a large group. If you have all the equipment you can have a guitarist, bassist, drummer, and singer. Most songs only take a few minutes to complete, so it's super easy to switch people out as needed. I personally remember having like twenty people over to my house on a weekend I came home from college, and it was a complete blast. Much to my dismay that was around the time Rock Band 2 released, and that was when the plastic instrument fueled games started to burn out. Their decline was completely understandable, because there were over six guitar hero games, and at least 5 Rock Band Games. What made it even more upsetting was that Guitar Hero stopped focusing on guitar and started encroaching on Rock Band by adding drums and vocals in order to properly compete. The sheer amount of games being released at an insane clip caused the genre to collapse in on itself.

This is why Rock Band 4 has me so excited, because the plastic instrument genre can return once again. It's crazy, because Guitar Hero is also making a comeback, but they have returned to their guitar only focus, which means that it's not "directly" competing with what Rock Band has to offer. I feel weird saying that, because I really only play guitar in Rock Band, but that's fine. The reason I am so down with Rock Band 4 is because I can use all the DLC I bought when the series was at its peak, and I didn't have to buy new instruments either!

Man, there are no exciting Rock Band 4 pictures huh?

I've seen a lot of people complain that Rock Band 4 is a bare bones product, which it is. However, when you consider what the game is accomplishing behind the scenes I feel like the fact that it exists at all is a miracle. For the previous entries in the franchise Harmonix teamed up with EA and WB in order to get their games out. Now Harmonix is more or less a fully independent studio, and they did not get a major publisher for Rock Band 4. They instead partnered with Madcatz who is a hardware manufacturer to get the game out to the masses. This is extra cool, because Madcatz produced brand new higher quality instruments for the game. Even though I didn't need to I purchased a new guitar, and it's amazing. The strum bar is much sturdier than the previous ones, and it makes playing a lot more comfortable.

Now, this is where Rock Band 4 gets crazy. Not everyone is aware, but licensing music is a nightmare. Obviously Harmonix had to go out and license new music to put in Rock Band 4. What's insane is that they also went back and re-licensed almost every single DLC track from the previous entries. Over time they put out over 1,800 songs, and only a handful are not available for purchase anymore. So this means that since I bought some songs on PS3, that I was able to download those songs on the PS4 for no additional cost! It doesn't stop there though. It hasn't happened yet, but all the previous disc based games excluding Beatles Rock Band will be exportable to Rock Band 4 as well. The catch with those is that you had to have exported them into Rock Band 3 previously. In the case of Rock Band 3 you will have to have played it on your account so that they can verify your purchase of the game when the export becomes available. This only works going from Xbox 360 to Xbox One, and PS3 to PS4, which makes sense. Wait though, it gets even better! If you still have your old instruments lying around you can plug them into a PS4 and have them go right off the bat. The Xbox One makes it a little more complex, because you need to buy an adapter, but at least you can still get everything to work.

Rock Band 4 still looks like Rock Band!

Seriously, Harmonix went above and beyond in bringing Rock Band and all of its content to the current generation of consoles. The main game doesn't have much in the way of features right now, but it will gain more over time. See, Harmonix is going to use the game as a platform, which will have free updates over the course of the games life. All it really has right now is a career mode, super limited character creator, and quick-play. It's basically a vehicle to play your old content on the current generation of consoles, and it works very well for that. On top of all of this they have spun up the old DLC machine, and are releasing three new songs every week.

So far I've had a ton of fun playing songs every Friday with my friends. I'm not the best player, but I just enjoy playing the game. I'm not upset about the missing features that many others seem to be upset about, because they'll probably make it into the game eventually. There is a huge update patch already planned to come out in early December. Harmonix did a lot of work to get everything to work on the current generation of consoles and I seriously respect it.

Disgaea 5

Disgaea is a crazy franchise. It takes the regular strategy RPG genre and makes it infinitely more complex by throwing as many systems as it can on top of it. They all end up working together in the end, which makes this one of my favorite franchises of all time. I picked up Disgaea 2 on a whim in high school and ended up playing it and trying to figure out what the hell was going on for weeks. I stayed up like 18 hours a day at a friends house as we played through it and dabbled in the madness. What's cool about Disgaea is that it gets better with each iteration. I'm not talking about the story, but the gameplay. In each successive game the mechanics are explained better, and streamlined to make everything less frustrating.

None of this means anything if you've never played a game in the franchise, or you haven't watched it before, so let me explain a little bit. Strategy RPGs generally have you send around ten characters into battle. You then move them one-by-one on a grid. If they move up to an enemy they can attack, or use a skill. Disgaea plays like that as well, but it takes the level cap and cranks it up to 9,999. You can then start your character over by reincarnating them, and bringing them to 9,999 again at which point they will have higher stats. You can do that until the character is technically 186,000. This isn't exactly how it works in Disgaea 5, but it was like that in the previous games. As if getting to 186,000 wasn't crazy enough you can also go inside of your weapons and fight monsters in order to make them stronger. Everything can level up, and eventually you can do it ridiculously fast, which feels amazing! Disgaea is all about leveling and doing insane damage with overblown stats.

I did actually like these drawings.

You don't really see how crazy the franchise can get until the story is over, which in my opinion has been the worst part of Disgaea 5 so far. I streamed most of my playthrough of the game, which is now archived on YouTube. Near the end I started to get very impatient, because the story went on way too long for its own good. Most of the time the story doesn't bother me, but in 5 the overall plot is super generic. The only thing saving it is the characters interacting with one another, but sometimes even that is super awful.

The main character is Killia, who is a cool looking demon who likes to eat a lot. In the first scene of the game he saves princess Seraphina, and she "makes" him help her take down the evil Void Dark. Void Dark has been taking over netherworlds and generally being evil, and on top of that Seraphina's dad is trying to make her marry him. Obviously she doesn't want to do that, and for reasons not initially apparent Killia wants to take him down too. Through a series of events they meet more characters who are going against Void Dark and form a rebel army to take him down. It sounds alright, but the plot is the one of the most generic revenge plots I've ever seen. It doesn't help that the game is at least twice as long as all the other games were. Like I said previously the characters are cool, but even they wear thin. By the end of the game they had repeated the same lines and reasoning for so many hours that I just didn't care at all anymore. Every time anything would happen I would call it beforehand on stream, because all of the conflict in the story and between characters was so predictable. Like, if Killia hadn't been funny and cool then I might have stopped playing the story all together. If the characters had been allowed to interact without the stupid revenge plot getting in the way all the time it might have been an enjoyable story.

I thought this so many times during the story!

My favorite part of Disgaea games is when the story is over. That's when you unlock all the cool extra characters, and challenge stages. You don't really get to level like a crazy person until you get the proper maps to do it on. I am now in the process of going insane and leveling my characters to the best of my ability. There's always a point when you beat the game where you're too strong to level on the stages you have, but too weak to beat the enemies that let you level up super quickly. I'm stuck in the middle ground, but am on the cusp of breaking through.

If you want to see what Disgaea 5 is all about then head over to my YouTube Channel, and keep an eye on my Twitch account. All my streams are archived, and I've been recording videos of myself playing through the games many pieces of DLC. Even if you don't have any interest in playing, I recommend you check out what the game is all about anyways. It has a lot of interesting concepts that you don't see very often in  strategy RPGs.

Just When You Thought It Was Over

Even though my two most anticipated games of the year have come and gone, November is going to have some crazy stuff! For starters Yo-Kai Watch! the Japanese sensation is finally coming out in English on the 6th. Then, just four days later Fallout 4 is coming out. I feel weird about Fallout, because I'm not excited for it. I would like to be, but I feel like my mind can't comprehend that it's actually coming out so soon after its announcement. 

Then, as if Fallout wasn't going to be huge enough, Battlefront comes out the following week! How the hell am I going to play Fallout 4 and play multiplayer with my friends in Battlefront!? I want to cry, because my time management skills recently haven't been the best. That's not something to talk about here though.

Trust me, I'll find a way to play everything and then write about it next month. See you on the other side.