Can you do a “Year of Something” twice?

I ask because it’s looking like 2017 is going to be another Year of Nintendo 64.

In the last two weeks, I have purchased three N64 games on Wii U Virtual Console. Strange, right? I know.

For the record, the only one I bought at full price is F-Zero X. Pokémon Snap and Star Fox 64 I already owned on Wii, so it was just the little “add save states and controller configuration” upgrade fee for those two.

I’ve also been eyeing up Excitebike 64 for some time now, and it’s a bummer that Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey will never appear on VC because for some reason I am really jonesing for some wacky arcade hockey action.

Hm. This might… this might actually happen…

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Drakengard 3 – The twistening

Hey all. Against all odds, I am sticking to my guns, and still playing Drakengard 3. While the opening hours were a little bland and the trademark Drakengard insanity had only reached “silly” on the bonkersometer, I forged ahead, undeterred by mediocrity.

And it’s begun to pay off! But we’ll get to that in just a moment. First: gameplay. It hasn’t changed much. In addition to the swords that you begin with, I have unlocked spear and bracer weapon classes. Spears are kind of garbage, as they don’t cut a nice, wide swath like swords do, and it’s difficult to connect with enemies if you aren’t locked on. This is in stark contrast to NieR, where the Phoenix Spear was my weapon of choice for nearly the entire game. Bracers, on the other hand, are super fun, as they let you combo a whole bunch of hits really fast. That, and punching guys just feels right, you know?

I also learned that blocking is a thing. And like most games of this style, you can parry attacks if you block just before they land. Unfortunately, enemies are kind of hard to read, which makes parries even more difficult to perform than in, oh, let’s say Dark Souls. Also, Zero has crazy long recovery lag after attacks (even worse with spears), making it nearly impossible to time a block properly in the middle of an attack combo. As a result, I basically haven’t been blocking at all, relying mostly on the dash as my defence strategy. So essentially, I’ve been playing Drakengard 3 the same way I play Monster Hunter. Only Zero’s dash doesn’t have any invincibility frames, so it’s not terribly effective on large enemies with wider attack ranges.

I think the best way to describe Drakengard 3’s combat is ” like Hyrule Warriors but slower.” But it’s still a heck of a lot faster than the combat in the original Drakengard.

Luckily, the game isn’t all hack-n-slash. It also has a handful of stages in which you ride around on Mikhail and blast fools with fireballs. The missions that still technically take place on the ground (All-Range Mode, if you will) are a little janky, as you have to manage Mikhail’s altitude by flapping his wings now and then. It’s a little more involved than other air combat games where you have the privilege of consistent propulsion. Missions in the sky proper are a lit more fun, as they’re basically just less interesting Star Fox levels. It’s on-rails, and you just blast everything out of the sky. No obstacles, no wingmen, no power-ups. It may actually be more akin to Galaga than Star Fox, to be honest.

What surprised me the most about Drakengard 3 so far is that it has a very overt sense of humour. The first game and NieR may have had their moments, but were typically played very straight. D3 takes every opportunity to make a joke, whether it be the soldiers freaking out about being slaughtered, or Zero and her companions trash talking back and forth. Though, in the latter case, whenever a companion character takes a jab at Zero, her response is usually “You wanna die?”

Zero and Mikhail also have a very weird relationship, wherein she is like a very abusive mother towards the immature dragon. There is a touch of love buried deep beneath the insults that Zero is constantly slinging at Mikhail. And while Mikhail does question Zero’s motives, he always follows her orders and tries to do his best in an effort to earn her respect. It’s very entertaining just to listen to the banter between the two. Criticize the game all you like for its awkward gameplay and last-gen graphics, but it’s got some excellent writing.

There are also the hilarious hijinks that ensure during cutscenes, like when Zero kills Five and the screen switches over to a censor card stating “this content has been deemed inappropriate for pretty much everyone” while Z stabs her sister repeatedly. Or the time where Zero and Dito are crushed by an avalanche and a “The End” screen pops up, only for Zero to burst out of the snow shouting “I’ll decide when it’s the end!” while Dito turns to the camera and shrugs. As a fan of comedy, Drakengard 3’s sense of humour is very welcome, especially since it stands in such stark contrast to the ultra-violent and otherwise horrific content of the rest of the game.

Speaking of which! It’s time to see what makes Drakengard 3 completely bonkers!

So, after the prologue, Zero was severly injured, having lost an arm. The arm was replaced with a metal prosthetic, which is apparently controlled by a parasite that attaches to the wearer’s body. Gross. But what’s more, Zero also mysteriously started growing a flower out of her right eye. A flower with what sort of looks like the butt end of a syringe sticking out of the middle. We get no information on this weird flower until halfway through chapter 2, where Zero’s other arm is chomped off by a wayward Cerberus head. Zero is about to collapse and die when the flower suddenly blows up to super-size. Then, a bloody had shoots out if it, and pulls out… a fully-formed clone of Zero, complete with the arm that just got bitten off, covered in nothing but buckets and buckets of blood. Calling this scene grotesque may be underselling it a little.

And that’s more or less been it as far as actual shockers go. There’s the rather explicit implications that Zero is banging her companions, which isn’t weird in itself. But when she recruits Decadus, she orders him to “Clean yourself up. Front and back. We meet tonight.” to which his eyes widen in fear and his voice beings trembling as he complies. At one point, Dito asks if Mikhail and Zero have slept together, completely serious. Mikhail, of course, is incredibly naïve and has no idea what Dito is really asking. I can’t decide whether the exchange is hilarious or disturbing. Probably both.

So that’s pretty much the extent of my impressions as far as the end of Chapter Two. Stay tuned for more, maybe!

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Start the countdown clock!

You know, I was so distracted by other things going on that I totally forgot to mention the most exciting news from last weekend: I pre-ordered my Switch!

I meant that in that it’s exciting for me. I know you aren’t excited. Or maybe you are, because online pre-orders for the thing sold out in 20 minutes. I tried to get one, but the EB Games website was so choked up that I couldn’t get my order in. Given that there are less than two months until launch, I didn’t think they would offer any more pre-orders. So I spent the rest of the day despondent and wondering what would be the most painless way to end my life.

But then! I got a text from my brother; he had gone to the mall after work, and they were still taking pre-orders there! So I anxiously hopped on the bus after work and took what seemed like the slowest ride in the history of everything. When I finally arrived, I ran from the bus stop to the mall, too anxious to worry that it was -40 outside.

I stepped into EB with my fingers crossed and wearily asked the man if they were still taking pre-orders. He replied “I’m pretty sure we still have a few” and dug out the allocation sheet from under the counter. “Do you want the grey one or colour?” My heart skipped a beat. I would have been happy to have any Switch, but the Switch with the colourful joy-cons was the top prize. And I got the very last one! Hooray!

I literally only ever have good luck when it comes to getting video game machines, but that’s good enough for me. I’ve got my priorities straight, all right.

The story isn’t quite over yet, because EB has over-sold and cancelled pre-orders in the past, so my Switch isn’t 100% guaranteed until it’s in my hands. But I feel like this isn’t going to be an NES Classic Mini situation, and that Nintendo will pump out enough units to satisfy demand. It’s probably going to be okay. Worst case scenario, EB cancels my pre-order, and I get to have a fun camping adventure in front of Toys R Us on Switch Day Eve.

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From the desk of Raunchy Ryan

I watched The Garbage Pail Kids Movie on the weekend, and I have to say that literally anything else would have been a better way to spend a Sunday morning. Like, I would have been better off going to church.

But seriously, folks, this is a bad movie. It’s not the kind of movie that anyone would even like ironically, and I don’t think you could really get much out of it by watching and riffing on it with friends. This is one of those movies that How Did This Get Made? wouldn’t touch.

So why did I watch it in the first place? Because it was mentioned on an episode of The Purple Stuff Podcast a while ago and I was curious. That’s all. I never collected Garbage Pail Kids cards or whatever as a child, so there’s not even any nostalgia value for me there.

All you really need to know is don’t watch it.

However, one thing that really stood out to me was the ending. Over the course of the movie, our main character gets in good with an older girl that he’s got a crush on, and then she double-crosses him. When she returns at the end to apologize, she asks if they can still be friends, but the kid shoots her down and says “I don’t think you’re pretty any more.” Wow! Not only does he not mend fences, he burns her but good. Good on you, kid. Way to stand up for yourself. Way to not go for the cliché ending.

So yeah, I thought that was alright. But the rest? Nah. Not even worth writing up a whole thing about.

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So blog

Gosh, work sure has been workey lately. Doin’ all the work and business. Keeping the numbers up. Or down, maybe, depending on which way they ought to be.

Good lord, I wish there were something halfway interesting to say about my work. Alas!

There are other boring real-life developments to talk about, though! Hooray!

Like, for one, I am now officially the proud owner of an automocar. I don’t know how I keep managing to bumble into life improvements, but that’s just the way it goes for me. Law of averages, I suppose. When you don’t take action to make things happen, something’s bound to happen on its own eventually, right?

But yes, when my late grandfather passed, his car was given to my uncle, so that he could ferry my grandmother about. Once in a while, I would borrow it when necessary. Over the course of time, it began to stay in my possession longer and longer. My grandma would often talk about how she just wanted me to have it, but unfortunately I just didn’t have the means to support car ownership. Now that I’m living with mom and dad again, my cup overfloweth and I was finally able to complete the transaction and register the car under my name. The extra nice part is that my grandma was paying the insurance up until now. I’d like to pay her back, but there is no reality in which she would accept my money. I mean, she gave me a whole freaking car for free.

Have I mentioned lately how great my grandparents are? Even if I have, it can’t be said enough. And I mean all four of ’em. I really should make more time to spend with the three I have left.

Next up: Home renovations! Or, bedroom renovations, I guess. I think that at this point, I have put more work into improving my temporary bedroom than I ever did when I was a homeowner. The hook I hung on the door is almost too simple to mention, but I also installed a wall mount for my massive television. I had put it off for a month, but then realized that I could really use the extra surface space, so now my TV hovers in the air. Huzzah!

I also put up a small shelf over my bed to hold all my toys. I did a very thorough job of making sure it was level, but then completely forgot to center it properly between the wall and window. So now it’s mis-aligned with the photo frame that hangs directly above it, and it’s driving me bananas. I don’t feel like banging new holes into the wall and filling up the old ones though, so I’m just going to learn to live with it. It will forever be a reminder of my inability to do even the simplest tasks properly.

Also, yes, I know that frame is still empty. If I had a picture worth putting in there, I would.

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Drakengard 3 – The beginnening

I didn’t buy a Playstation 3 just for Drakengard 3 (that would have been silly), but it was the first exclusive game that made me really want a PS3. Fortunately I was able to adopt the console for the low, low price of free, and then I bought Drak3, and then I… didn’t play it for like two years. Oops!

But now, I am playing it! Time to get m’self up to speed before NieR: Automata drops. I mean, they’re only very loosely related so it’s not like it really matters, but I still feel like I ought to play through this game that I was desperately excited for before I start up the next game that I’m desperately excited for.

Before I even started up the game, I logged into the Playstation Store to check out the DLC options, as I knew there were add-ons for extra chapters. While I was ready to go ahead and buy them sight unseen, I decided to wait and see how the base game turned out before dropping another $30. It turned out that you can’t play the extra chapters until the main story is cleared anyway.

There are also costumes and music packs to purchase. The costumes are all of characters from the previous Drakengard games and NieR, and they also actually affect gameplay! But, they’re $4 each, and that’s a little too steep. Even though I could be running around dressed as Kainé or Nier (albeit the inferior “brother” Nier). Even though I don’t know exactly what it does, I did drop $3 on the NieR BGM pack, which adds three remixed NieR tracks to the game. Where? Not sure yet! But they sure are cool mixes. Wish I could put ’em on my phone somehow so I could listen to them whenever I like!

The game starts with “protagonist” Zero and her dragon partner Michael (not a good name for a dragon) assaulting a fortress, with the express intent of murdering Zero’s five sisters. Apparently they’re all legendary angels, but I don’t really know what that’s about. Gameplay is very basic hack-n-slash business in the intro. Hopefully it’s just keeping it simple for now, but if the previous Drakengard games are any indication…

After mowing through countless soldiers, who bleed as if they’re literally just huge bags of blood, you finally meet up with the sisters. And then a massive four-on-one boss fight ensues. It’s not hard because Zero is nigh invulnerable, but it can be tricky to keep your sights locked on to any one girl for long. Once they all give up, One, who appears to be the de facto leader of the group, summons her own dragon pet, Gabriel (oooh I get it now). You fight Gabe for a bit, then he blasts Zero’s left arm clean off and presumably kills Michael. The pair tumble into a chasm and we jump a year into the future.

Zero, to this point, doesn’t seem like much of hero. We have no idea what’s going on in the plot so far, and her only justification for attempting to murder her sisters is that she wants to be the only magical angel lady (or “Intoner” as the game calls them). She is also not very appropriately dressed, but this isn’t surprising, because Taro Yoko very obviously has some issues with women. Her outfit isn’t quite as skimpy as Kainé’s lingerie, but it’s not very much better. In fact, I sort of regret having purchased the game at a real store, because the checkout girl that seemed happy to help me at first took one look at the cover and shot me a look that told me she’d decided that I must be some sort of weird pervert.

But Zero is definitely a badass. She’s got a short temper and a foul mouth, and has got the skills to back it up. The way she flies around the screen, slicing her enemies to ribbons, is very cool. Actually, she is basically just Kainé, if Kainé was a murderous psychopath instead of a grumpy hermit. Her temperament is much more like that of Caim, the hero from the first Drakengard. Which I greatly approve of, if only because his characterization in The Dark Id’s LP was amazing.

An I make it sound worse than it really is when I call Zero a psychopath. Because every single character in Drakengard is on the psychopath spectrum, and it looks like D3 is following suit. Except for Mikhail, Zero’s baby dragon buddy who is apparently a reincarnated version of Michael. Mikhail is constantly asking Zero why she wants to kill everyone instead of just talking it out and trying to resolve their issues. He’s a naive little dude that dislikes violence, but follows Zero around anyway. It actually seems like he belongs more in the NieR branch of the series than Drakengard.

Anyway, the game hasn’t made much of an impression yet, but these things are often pretty unassuming from the start. Gameplay is snappy but uninspired, graphics are not the best the PS3 has to show, and the story hasn’t gotten twisted at all. But that’s after just the prologue and two levels into chapter one. It may take a while before it really opens up and goes coo coo bananas. There have been a couple shocking scenes, but nothing on the level of the Grotesqueries yet.

Stay tuned to maybe read some more about this wacky game!

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I’m going to be talking about sandwiches again

Prepare your mind, for it is about to be blown. For after many years of intense training and studying, I have finally completed the Perfect Sandwich. Behold its majesty.

In an effort to benefit all of humanity, I will now share the secrets of this sandwich. Please craft it with love in your heart and a rumbly in your tumbly. This sandwich should never be used for the forces of evil, or for personal gain.

  • Toasted honey oat whole wheat bread
  • Precisely one and a half slices of cheese
  • Slightly more salami than necessary
  • A dickload of ham
  • Top it with a generous portion of pickle slices
  • An explosion of Curry Dijon mustard (top slice)
  • A fine layer of margarine (bottom slice)

Go now, prepare yourself this delicious sandwich, and revel in all of its tasty glory. If you would like to submit your own (wrong) suggestions of what the perfect sandwich is, please feel free to leave a comment. But we all know that nobody reads this anyway, so meeeeh.

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I’m going to be talking about NieR again.

You all remember when I fell in love with NieR a few years ago, right? I regard it as one of the best games of the last generation, and it is finally getting a sequel this March. Needless to say, I am very eagerly awaiting NieR: Automata, as I have had it preordered since last June and am even more anxious to play it than I was for Pokémon Sun.

Right there, that should be a “holy crap, really?” moment for you, dear reader.

The Automata demo came out at some point recently, and I only just remembered to play it last weekend. For those who are ready to check out: I like it. I like it a whole lot. Like, it impressed me to the point where I am even more excited for the full game, if that’s even possible.

There is a lot left to be seen, though. For starters, Nier and Automata have very little in common besides art direction and basic gameplay elements. Nier is about grumpy old man fighting shadows to save his daughter. Automata is about androids fighting alien robots to save the world. As Nier and its sister series, Drakengard, are well-known for their insane gut-punch story twists, I’m sure that the alien robots in Automata will turn out to actually be the good guys and then we’ll regret having killed them all over the course of the game. Or something like that.

Really, all the demo shows off is the gameplay. And the main character’s pantsu. Oh, Japan. The game’s really fun, at least! It sets you in an “abandoned” factory, hunting down a big ol’ enemy robot. Of course the factory is absolutely swarming with li’l robuts, which you will mow down with reckless abandon. On the surface, it plays like a much more polished Nier, with you using a pair of massive swords to dice up your foes. Then you learn that your little flying robot buddy can also be used as a turret, adding long-ranged attacks to your arsenal. It’s a small change, but has a fairly significant impact.

Automata still plays a lot like a combination of a brawler and a shmup, and it feels really great. I don’t know if it’ll have more RPG-like downtime parts (farming, fishing, sidequests) like Nier did, or if it’ll be a pastiche of different gameplay styles like its big brother, but the core gameplay is solid. It’s very obvious that Platinum Games is behind this.

So anyway, after travelling through the factory and blowing up more robots than you can shake a Phoenix Spear at, you come up to the absolutely ginormous boss, who is a transformer and was hiding in plain sight as part of the factory that you were just bouncing around on. He’s got two massive buzzsaw arms, and constantly sprays a stream of bullets (which are big purple orbs) at you. Halfway through the fight, you board a small aircraft and the game becomes Sin & Punishment, as you’re now flying around the boss while trying to dodge his attacks and blast him in the face.

And then. Then comes the epic finale, in which you lop off one of the boss’ buzzsaw arms, assimilate it into your own arsenal, and then use it to bash his head in. And, you know, he’s a giant robot, so it’s not nearly as graphic as I made it sound. Just awesome. So very awesome. Also the “beating a robot’s head in with its own buzzsaw arm” thing is such a Platinum thing to do.

Following this awesome victory, three more of the giant factory robots emerge from the ocean, and the protagonists are all like “welp, we’re boned” and then use some kind of supernova self-destruct thingy in an attempt to at least take the giant bots down with them. Then the demo ends and I’m all like “whyyyyy I can’t wait two more months.”

I don’t know if NieR: Automata will appeal to me in the same way that the original game did, but it’s certainly making a strong case for itself. I mean, I kind of doubt that this game will feature watermelon farming, but that’s something I’ll just have to accept when the time comes. And if it does feature watermelon farming, well, we might just have the 2017 Game of the Year on our hands.

If you have a PS4, I absolutely recommend giving this demo a try (I don’t know for sure if it’s available on PC). Also, check out the sweet boss battle trailer from last year’s E3 that I’ve embedded below. It’s so amazing, and I know I’ve said it a dozen times already, but I simply cannot wait to play this.


Kinda weird that the game is still called Nier, even though the character that it is named after is ostensibly not in the game at all. I mean, it would be really shocking if he was. Maybe that will be the twist somehow. But given that Automata takes place after Ending D of the original game… That would be a pretty tough sell.

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Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up – December 2016

in b4 2017 gets sucky

All jokes aside, good lord did I play a lot of different video games in December. Where in the heck did I find all that extra time?

~ Game Over ~

Pokkén Tournament (WiiU) – I forgot about this game so quickly after it came out, but I really do enjoy it. I just wish I had the dedication to get better at it. I finally finished the single-player “story”, at least. Also, why the heck haven’t all the new Pokémon from the arcade version been made as DLC? I want to play as Scizor!


The Cat Lady (PC) – A traditional adventure game that’s kind of ugly, but has a very interesting and thoughtful story. But you know all about it already because you read the post I wrote about it, yeah?

Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations (WiiU) – I started playing this what seemed like months ago, then it fell off my radar because ?????. Picked it up again and solved the remaining cases. It’s a pretty good throwback to adventure games of yore! And almost the exact opposite of The Cat Lady in terms of tone. But it’s not so good that I’m going to buy the DLC chapter.

Shantae: 1/2-Genie Hero (WiiU) – The third Kickstarter game that I’ve backed to be released. It falls somewhere on the quality scale between the immaculate Shovel Knight and the troubled Mighty No 9. Mostly very good with beautiful graphics, but has a surprisingly bad final chapter and a horrific recurring audio glitch. Pirate’s Curse is still the best Shantae.

Picross e7 (3DS) – I knew this one came out in Japan a while ago, but its North American release totally blindsided me. With joy. Thanks for the early Xmas gift, Jupiter! I didn’t clear all the mega puzzles, but they’re all the same as the standard puzzles, so I’m considering it beaten.

Lifeless Planet (PS4) – A game about being an astronaut, bouncing around on an unexplored planet with a mysterious history. At least that’s what it is for the first hour. After that, stuff starts happening, and honestly I think I was happier just exploring the simple landscapes of the early game. The story is quite good, though!

The Way of Life (Free Edition) (PC) – A walking simulator wherein you play different “events” through the eyes of a child, man, and geezer. The three scenarios provided are boring and preachy and I can’t say I’d ever consider paying for the “Definitive Edition.”

The First Skunk Bundle (WiiU) – I played Haunted Hotel a couple months ago, and recently went back to try out the other games. They’re “better” if you’re measuring by playability, but have absolutely nothing on Haunted Hotel as far as being completely bonkers. Still, they’re all mostly garbage. Catchy is okay, I guess.

~ Now Playing ~

Dragon Quest Builders (PS4) – The hours just melt away when I boot this baby up. It’s like the heyday of Minecraft, but with good graphics and music (though a little less freedom). Currently on Chapter 3.

Super Mario Run (iOS) – Well this is weird. But also really good. But also, the Toad Rush mode has showed me that despite all my years of training, I suck at Mario. Whoops!

Ape Escape 2 (PS2) – I’ve played the first and third Ape Escape games to completion, and only when I played Ape Escape 2 did the realization dawn on me that Ape Escape feels a lot like Gex, except not as terrible. Ape Escape 2 has some camera issues, but otherwise it’s decent enough.

Dino Eggs: Rebirth (PC) – One of those bundle situations where I bought a bunch of games because one looked cool and I didn’t give a flip about the others. This is one of the “I don’t give a flip” titles. It’s actually a fun, breezy puzzlatformer. I hear that it’s an expanded remake of an old Apple II game that I don’t remember ever playing, but very well could have. Apple II was a long, long time ago.

Bit Dungeon+ (WiiU) – A pixel-graphics, dungeon-crawling, roguelike game that I picked up on sale after Xmas. It’s not quite what I was hoping for, and it’s a little broken/inscrutable, but I like it! My brother decidedly does not, so it looks like I’m flyin’ solo on this one.

Pokémon Picross (3DS) – Somehow, the memory wires in my brain got crossed in a way that Christmastime now makes me think of Pokémon Picross. So I played it a bunch. Still not enough to complete all the Alt-World stages that I had left undone, though.

Life is Strange (PS4) – It’s been over a year since the last chapter came out, which meant time for a replay! There are fewer shocking “I get this foreshadowing now!” moments than I had expected. At least in chapter one. Just one massive one right at the very end.

Pokémon Sun (3DS) – Sure, I beat it last month, but there’s more to it than just getting the credits to roll. There’s a bit of post-game content, and of course I’ve got to… catch them all.

Bit Boy Arcade (3DS) – For reasons I won’t get into, I booted this up somewhat randomly. Played a bunch of stages, and it seemed kind of crappy at first, but I quickly found myself getting into it as I learned how the game works. I might just see it through to the end.

Stardew Valley (PC) – I might as well have started using cocaine. There’s a very good reason that I stopped playing Harvest Moon games.

Rollercoaster Tycoon (PC) – I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the kind of game you beat over the span of years, or never at all. Because at least in the early game, all the scenarios end up feeling the exact same. It’s like, spend a year building up a great park, and then let the game sit for a couple hours to run down the clock until you win.

Bioshock Remastered (PC) – Made a tiny bit of progress, but have now been stymied multiple times by the game locking up when I attempt to open the map.

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2016 Xmas Gift Roundup!

Oh my, has yet another year passed already? Well, I guess three years if you’re just going by the last time I wrote one of these things. Remember how it used to be an annual tradition? Did I write this exact same intro paragraph last time? Ehh, I’ve already recycled the idea and the banner, might as well re-use some of the text as well.

I think that, for the most part, I stopped doing these because I began to feel embarrassed about all of the stuff I get for Xmas. I mean, it’s not like it’s all that excessive (especially with my lack of wife), but it’s easy to look at these articles and think to myself “gee, I sure am spoiled, aren’t I?” Maybe next year will be the year I finally act on my desire to volunteer somewhere and help those less fortunate.

But probably not. That would also require leaving the house, and my incredible selfishness is a defining character trait.

Continue reading

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