Monthly Archives: April 2019

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Eat Them!

I like eating. Right now, unfortunately, due to issues related to my colon cancer, I’m not eating as much as I like. That’s a shame, both for me as well as the wonderful recipes my wife puts together. I hope to get back to a place where I can eat and not worry, but until then I guess I’ll just stomp around, destroying buildings and consuming humans for energy. Oh wait, no, that’s not me…that’s Eat Them!

In Eat Them!, you take on the role of disgraced government scientist Dr. Wilder. He has created an array of giant monsters to wreak havoc on the comic-inspired, cel-shaded city streets…because that’s just what you do when you are both disgraced and a scientist. I mean, it’s practically a law. Anyways, these big ol’ beasts eat people for power and destroy everything in their path using heavy-hitting melee weapons, mortars, powerful long-range lasers, and more.

Eat Them! lets you create monsters by plugging together arms, heads, and other pieces you’ve unlocked as you finish missions. After that, you’re tasked with taking out “baddies” across a number of different gameplay modes where you smash, kick, roar, and jump on buildings and vehicles that have earned your ire. Initially, this is a lot of fun and reminds me of the good times we all had with the 1986 arcade classic Rampage. The game has a solid look to it–I mean, I love all things cel-shaded–and it does feel good causing all this destruction, but unfortunately the fun only lasts for so long. The missions begin to feel repetitive rather quickly, and I just didn’t feel like progressing after a short while.

So, see ya in another life, Eat Them!, one where I too can enjoy consumption at the same rate and level as a giant monster.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

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2019 Game Review Haiku, #36 – PostMan

Mail to deliver
Need a dragon’s help, bird too
Some tricky puzzles

And we’re back with these little haikus of mine. Go on, gobble ’em up. However, if you want to read more of my in-depth thoughts about these games that I’m beating, just search for them by name on Grinding Down. As always, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry, even if they aren’t instant classics, such as the works of Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, or Kobayashi Issa. Hey, not everyone gets to be that great.

2019 Game Review Haiku, #35 – Batman: Arkham City

Dying Batman needs
Cure, but the Joker prevails
A tiresome (k)night

And we’re back with these little haikus of mine. Go on, gobble ’em up. However, if you want to read more of my in-depth thoughts about these games that I’m beating, just search for them by name on Grinding Down. As always, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry, even if they aren’t instant classics, such as the works of Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, or Kobayashi Issa. Hey, not everyone gets to be that great.

If you work hard in Punch Club’s training, the fight is easy

I don’t know much about boxing, and I know even less about what it entails to train to become a good boxer. I figure it’s a lot of punching bags, doing push-ups, and dodging and weaving. I saw one of the Rocky films, but couldn’t tell you which one. Well, if anything, Punch Club is showing me that there’s much more involved, such as holding down part-time jobs, fighting mutated monsters in the sewers, eating food, sleeping, and keeping up your romantic relationships by bringing a young woman some flowers. The boxing life, it ain’t easy.

There’s a story here, and it’s sad. Your father was brutally murdered before your eyes…kind of just like how Batman’s parents went down. Now you must train hard, eat chicken, and punch dudes in the face to earn your place in the Punch Club ranks. All of this serves for you to discover who ended your father’s life and get that sweet, sweet revenge. I’m not there yet, still pretty low in the ranks, because it can be hard to multi-task, and so I’m splitting my time between multiple tasks, not sure what to really be focusing on in the short term. I figure it is better right now to earn money and buy training gear for my garage than keep paying the expensive gym fees, and that’s my main goal. The problem is something else always gets in the way.

Punch Club, for those that don’t know, comes from Lazy Bear Games and is a boxing tycoon management game with multiple branching storylines. Your goal is pretty clear from the start, but how you get there depends on whether you want to legitimately climb the rankings or take the more ridiculous, shady route. I’m kind of dancing between both paths at the moment, unsure where my loyalty lies, but I’ll eventually need to pick a path and stick to it.

Whatever task you’re completing, whether is it punching a bag or delivering pizza, gameplay boils down to watching a series of fluctuating statistic bars representing your various levels go up or down and then judging when enough is enough. Every activity essentially fills up some and empties others, with time given a crucial stat bar of its own. It’s an approach that carries through to the most important portion of Punch Club: training up your fighter. You can improve your brawler’s three core attributes–strength, agility, and stamina–by using certain pieces of gym equipment. However, your abilities will degrade over time when you’re not exercising, so it’s best to reserve the really hard graft for the period just before your next fight, to better your chances for climbing that ladder.

I’m usually not one for management sims, but Punch Club has both an aesthetic and attitude that I really do dig. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is basically a sim of a 1980s fighter movie, so all the nostalgia is quite warranted. I won’t spoil all the references, but you’ll see loving nods to Rocky, Blood Sport, Cobra, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Fight Club, Aliens, and more. The game itself uses pixel art, and it’s better than anything you probably ever saw on the SNES, with more colors and attention to detail. It might not be for everyone, but it’s definitively for me.

I don’t know how far up the ladder my trainee will get, but, for the time being, I’ll keep climbing.

Over the weekend, I played Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel for free and found it to be okay

I don’t normally partake in many “free game weekends,” usually because I am too busy with other stuff to find the time to start something new, but also because I don’t like the pressure it puts upon me to hurry up and see as much content before this thing goes away in two days. That said, this past weekend, you could play Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel for free as a promotion to up some pre-orders for the forthcoming Borderlands 3, and I decided to jump in. I’ve already played a skag-ton of Borderlands 2, but I never got to try the other one when it came out a few years back.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel begins some time after Borderlands 2 and Episode 3 of the subsequent game Tales from the Borderlands, on the flying city of Sanctuary, where the three former Vault Hunters Lilith, Brick, and Mordecai interrogate the ex-Atlas assassin Athena after having captured her from the Atlas Domes. Athena recounts her story, starting after the death of General Knoxx, when she received an offer to go find a Vault on Pandora’s moon, Elpis, from a Hyperion programmer named Jack. She joins fellow Vault Hunters Claptrap, Nisha, Wilhelm, Timothy (a doppelganger of Jack), and Aurelia on a spaceship headed for the Hyperion moon base Helios. On the way, they are ambushed by the Lost Legion, an army of Dahl soldiers led by Colonel Tungsteena Zarpedon, and crash-land onto the moon base. After meeting up with Jack, they attempt to use Helios’ defense system, but realizes there is a jamming signal coming from Elpis. They attempt to escape, but they are stopped by Zarpedon, along with a mysterious alien-like warrior. Jack sends the Vault Hunters to Elpis via a moonshot rocket.

It’s perfectly fine. To me, it mostly comes across as just another entry in the series, and you could play any of them and have basically the same experience of killing monsters and discovering a thousand different guns, shields, and grenades to equip. The only difference from one to another is really how the Vault Hunters play, and for this one I went with Athena. She’s a gladiator, first seen as an NPC in The Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC. She uses her Kinetic Aspis shield to block enemy attacks and can return the damage collected by her shield by throwing it at an enemy. I followed the Phalanx tree for upgrades, which focuses on combat support and improves the offensive and defensive capabilities of the Aspis.

Here’s the thing I disliked most about Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel–the oxygen meter. See, most of the gameplay takes place on a moon or in outer space somewhere, and so, instead of just giving every Vault Hunter a spacesuit you must now pay attention to an oxygen meter. Run out of it, and your health begins to deplete. There are certain areas that refill your oxygen, but it just becomes a pain and one thing extra to monitor along with your shield and health bars. Plus, if you want to use a jump boost or ground pound move, it depletes the oxygen meter too. I’m not a fan of it and often found myself relaxing more once inside a building and not having to worry about it.

I’m now left with the choice to purchase Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and keep playing…or just wait for Borderlands 3 to come out. I think I’ll do the latter. Besides, I still have stuff to do in Borderlands 2 if I want a little more action.

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Mugen Souls Z

For some reason, I thought Mugen Souls Z was an anime-based fighting game, something like Persona 4 Arena, which meant I could pop into it quickly, play a few matches, uninstall the beast, and write a few words related to the game as per my Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge feature. Alas, I was mistaken as this is a big-as-they-come JRPG, bursting with story, characters, more story, and some turn-based fighting, along with general elements of perverted skeeviness that I’m not down with. It’s not a hentai game, but it isn’t too far off in some aspects. More on that in a bit.

In Mugen Souls, the main protagonist Chou-Chou plans to conquer the universe by subjugating the seven worlds it comprises, as she thinks the planets look pretty. Traveling from world to world with her trusty companion Altis and loyal peon Ryuto, Chou-Chou aims to turn the heroes and demon lords of each world into her personal servants, saving the world from conflict in the process. That’s all fine and good, but none of that matters anymore because I’m playing Mugen Souls Z, which is the sequel to Mugen Souls, released in North America on May 20, 2014, for the PlayStation 3. The protagonist in this one is Syrma, a goddess aiming to stop an awkward ancient threat.

Mechanically and visually, as far as I can tell, Mugen Souls Z looks almost identical to its predecessor, but with some improved presentation bits. It’s got a cutesy look to it, with bright colors and bubbly personalities. You are not bogged down immediately with a hundred and one tutorials, as they are instead spread out over the first few hours, but even still, I found it to be a lot of concepts to juggle in my brain, from hitting crystals on the battlefield to turning enemies into peons and so on. The gameplay is also similar to the original; players will travel from one world to the next, finding spots on the map that will ask them to perform actions, such as handing over a certain item, using a certain fetish/affinity to flip their switch, or fighting a specific amount of monsters. Otherwise, you spend a good amount of time in G-Castle, which is both your flying spaceship that can transform into a big robot and your hub area full of shops and things to interact with.

Battles are somewhat tactical and turn-based. You can move around your party based on a circle, positioning them for maximum damage or even hitting multiple enemies at once. Each arena has a set of crystals, which, when activated, grant boosts or have negative repercussions. These allow for a certain level of cleverness on the player’s part, meaning that you can position yourself in such a way to literally cut damage in half while also boosting your own magic power. It’s a simple concept, but one that I still haven’t really figured out how to trigger. And no, I don’t want to go back and read the 15-page tutorial on it.

Ultimately, here are the things I liked:

  • That part where your G-Castle transforms and battles another large robot in the same style as the one-on-one duels in the Suikoden series, where you need to pay attention to the dialogue to prepare for the incoming attack.
  • The late title card that shows up, along with a music video, at the end of chapter 1.
  • That’s it.

Mugen Souls Z is way too talky for me. I’m not against a lot of dialogue, but much of it here feels unnecessary or repetitive. It took about two hours just to get to actual gameplay. Also, this is a very Japanese RPG, meaning that there’s a strong focus on fetishes, bouncy boobs, upskirt shots, and steamy bath scenes. Heck, the first piece of armor that you’ll unlock is underwear, and you’ll be able to accrue others as you play. I personally don’t know the ages of the main characters, but they look young to me, even as gods, and it’s extremely off-putting. I’m sure there’s an audience for this game, but I’m not part of it. And so it goes, uninstalled, never to know what ultimately happens to Chou-Chou, Syrma, and their friends. Maybe it is better not to know in the end.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Payday: The Heist and Payday 2

If you have Netflix, I highly recommend you check out Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist. It’s a 2018 true crime documentary series about the murder of Brian Wells, a high-profile 2003 incident often referred to as the “collar bomb” or “pizza bomber” case. I didn’t really have a great intro planned here, seeing as I myself have never once robbed a bank or attempted to, but I am fascinated by those that put these actions into motion. I figured I’d use this time to recommend a new show for y’all to watch, as if there aren’t enough of those out there right now. Also, Reservoir Dogs.

Payday: The Heist and Payday 2 are cooperative first-person shooters developed by Overkill Software and published by Sony Online Entertainment. In them, players use a variety of firearms to complete objectives, which are usually centered around stealing a certain object, person, or a particular amount of money. This is not a run and gun ’em all down kind of game. Killing civilians is punished; players instead may take a limited number as hostages. Should any player get arrested, which happens after taking enough damage and not being revived in time, during the heist, one of their teammates may release a hostage, allowing a trade to take place. While playing the levels, players will notice a lot of variation in a single level, as there are often a large number of random events programmed in.

Payday: The Heist focuses on four robbers–Dallas, Hoxton, Chains, and Wolf. Their first heist takes place at the First World Bank, where they enter a vault by using thermite hidden on the inside of a photocopier and try to steal a large amount of money. A post-game message congratulates the group, telling them that they are “set for life,” but recommends more heists, including robbing drug junkies in an abandoned apartment complex and ambushing a prisoner transport in heavy rain weather, simply for the enjoyment of the players. Payday 2 takes place two years after the events of the previous game. A new gang comes to the Washington, D.C. area to perform another heisting spree, and you can control of one of the gang’s twenty-one members and perform heists alone or with up to three teammates.

I…was never any good at either of these two games. Trust me, I tried. However, I always felt like I was dragging down my team and never knew what step to take next. Like, for instance, when the cops show up…do I engage with them or not? I often did, because that’s the mindset in a first-person shooter–you shoot the things shooting at you so they, y’know, stop shooting at you. However, this always ended poorly. I do like the idea of a cooperative heist game, as heists in general are cool and probably the only thing I enjoyed from Grand Theft Auto V‘s main campaign, but I would need to play this with friends and talk through our plans very thoroughly before taking action. Alas, on the PlayStation 3, I have no friends, and so that will never happen. Goodbye to both of y’all.

May your next digital bank robbery go smoothly, all you fans of Payday: The Heist and Payday 2. I’m rooting for ya, truly. Also, watch Heat, one of the greatest heist films out there.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.