Category Archives: fail

This Dragon Quest also requires keys to open doors

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All right, a slice of honesty here: I didn’t play Dragon Quest the other day in what one might consider…a legal manner. I gave it a fair shake through browser-based emulation that I will not link to here. That said, while performing a Google search for this possibility, I stumbled across another game called Dragon Quest, playable over at the Armor Games website. Here, I’ll happily link to it. To me, it is a big and bold move to name your game the same title as that of a beloved franchise some nearly 30 years in the making. Either it’s a quick grab for knowledgeable gamers’ attention–hey, it worked on me–or there’s a specific and unchangeable detail to the plot that requires such titling.

Here’s the gist: in this Dragon Quest, one must explore a deadly castle on a mission to get back a stolen best friend who was kidnapped by a dragon. I mean, if that stolen friend was named Princess Gwaelin and change the dragon to the Dragonlord, then we’re one in the same with that other mega-popular Dragon Quest. Still, this isn’t an RPG where you have to select the stairs menu option to go up or down staircases, but both titles do have a fixation on finding keys to open locked doors. In fact, that’s the only way you’ll save your stolen friend here, as well as dodge that dragon’s attacks in three separate boss battles.

I’m going to use quotation marks to highlight the descriptive text the creator of this Dragon Quest wrote when describing his or her creation. Basically, there are over 20 levels of “insane physics puzzles” that you need to solve using the “twitch reflexes of a platforming game.” I take issue with both of these claims. Insane is a descriptor better saved for puzzles like late-game Portal or Fez or Silent Hill‘s poetry riddles, not figuring out how to smush the skeleton to get a key to pop out; there’s only one way to do it in each level, and the solution is visually telegraphed based on whatever new elements are added each time. As for the twitch reflexes, you move no faster than Mario without the run button, with none of the momentum. You can jump and change direction in midair, which helps once or twice, but otherwise there is no need to keep your finger hovering over the keyboard for the swiftest of key presses.

For a soldier decked out in shiny armor and wielding a sword, the hero of Dragon Quest is quite the pacifist. He never directly kills a skeleton with his blade, often using the environment around him and the skeletons’ dim wits to do away with them. You use the sword to hit switches or cut ropes mainly. When it comes to battling the dragon, which you do thrice, the soldier must avoid the dragon’s fireballs and attacks, using them against him to deal damage. I’m not here to say I need man on dragon violence to satisfy me and my dark desires, but thought it was an unusual observation nonetheless. I wonder if it was a conscious choice or something that happened due to the nature of the puzzle mechanics.

In the end, Dragon Quest is a mediocre way to kill fifteen minutes and mildly flex your brain muscles, but it probably should’ve been called something more like Door Key Quest or The Mighty Quest to Smush All Skeletons. Here’s hoping that the next time I’m talking about Dragon Quest on this blog of mine, it’s related more to that Enix joint, even if I have to admit to being killed again and again by red slimes. I’m okay with violence against them.

Pokémon Shuffle’s Mega Glalie is bad game design

Pokemon Shuffle Mega Glalie is the worst

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was stuck on Pokémon Shuffle‘s level 120 against Mega Glalie, and that everything was fine because, no matter what, my pocket monsters were continuing to gain XP and grow stronger and, without a doubt, I’d eventually have a team powerful enough to conquer the annoying, Generation III ice-type levitating face and move on to level 121. Astoundingly, that hasn’t happened yet, and I’ve been, more or less, using all five of my hearts against the bloody ripper every night before bed. I’m sorry to say, but this is some really bad game design, and I can’t recall the last time I hit such a visible wall in a game.

I’m not the only one struggling. If you type both “Mega Glalie” and Pokémon Shuffle into Google, you’ll quickly get returns for posts about people unable to beat the beast, people beating it using every item and Jewel they had and only then crawling past the finish line, and people puffing their chests out like mighty lions, claiming to have defeated Mega Glalie easily, using no items at all. Uh huh. Here’s a handful of confetti. If you are to use items, which are, let me remind y’all, quite costly, many are suggesting Complexity -1s, Mega Starts, and Disruption Delays.

For me, there’s certainly a stubborn drive behind my desire to beat Mega Glalie without any items, and this is not at all to prove I am a big macho man and super skilled at matching severed Pokémon heads. I conquered all 119 Pokémon levels before Mega Glalie without using any items. Perseverance, patience, and picking the right team was all it took, and so it bugs me deeply that the same strategy simply cannot be employed here. The problem is that, within four or five turns, Mega Glalie begins freezing entire columns, two at a time, often locking you out of sweet–and powerful–combo chains, forcing you to chip away at its health until the board resets or you run out of moves. Even with a team of level 6 Pokémon, the farthest I’ve dropped Mega Glalie’s health is down to about 25%.

This level is designed for you to spend money on (either in-game currency, which takes a good while to stock, or through extra turns via Jewels bought by real-life money), unless you hit the biggest luck streak of the century. Truthfully, I was enjoying Pokémon Shuffle, which just celebrated some 2.5 million+ downloads, when it kept progressing, even if just little by little. Play a few matches every night, unlock more to play the next night. Heck, Nintendo is even adding in more levels to the base set, upping the count to 180. That’s sixty more for me to get through…or potentially never see.

I may have to try an item against Mega Glalie. Call it desperation, call it despair, call it giving in–I don’t care. I have a free copy of Disruption Delay in my inventory, acquired from…uh, doing something cool, so maybe I’ll give that a go tonight. However, if the match goes just as poorly as all previous attempts, I will forever be bitter against using items and will refrain from ever experimenting again, deleting this free-to-play Pokémon game and focusing instead on that other free-to-play Pokémon game. That one, so far, hasn’t raised any walls yet to impede my journey.

If you have any good tips on taking down Mega Glalie, please do share. If you beat this level with your eyes closed and one hand behind your back, kudos for you.

The Incredibles wants you to cross the line and suffer the consequences

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After all my years of gaming, I can only recall a few specific moments vividly by name or the tears that I cried as they truly frustrated me, the man with all the patience in the universe. Allow me to name them. That boss fight against Moldorm in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, especially when it could knock you off the level itself, forcing you to retrace your steps. The entire realm of Aquis from Primal, which is all about swimming, but not about good swimming controls. Lastly, there’s that wall jumping section in Super Metroid, which, to this day, is a mechanic I still don’t have down pat. Well, we can now add “Violet’s Crossing” from The Incredibles on the PlayStation 2 to this curmudgeonly list.

I’m actually going to talk a bit about the entire second half of The Incredibles, but I feel like “Violet’s Crossing” is such a special case of fail that it needs its own paragraph or two. Allow me.

For a level that many YouTubers seem to get through in about nine minutes, this one took me forty-one minutes and change; also, I stopped counting how many times I died after twenty or so, especially since you can kill Violet within seconds of gaining control. It’s a stealth mission and the only time you are in control of Violet by herself. For those familiar with the movie, her power is turning invisible, but the game limits this to only a few seconds. Four or three, tops. Your goal here is to reach the end of the level without being caught, as she is killed instantly when spotted, taken down by a single laser beam bullet. Guards are on high alert and can hear her sneaking by if too close or if she brushes against some foliage.

I like stealth, but I guess I should say that I technically like good stealth, and I’m thinking about Metal Gear Solid, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and Mark of the Ninja mostly. “Violet’s Crossing” is a terrible stealth level, seemingly created by developers that have never played a stealth videogame in their collective lives. There’s no map, the guards have no vision cones or indication of where they are looking, and you have very limited control of the camera–I wonder if I’ll say the same thing when I revisit Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Throw in a super short period for using her invisibility power, as well as one-shot kills, and this turns into a frustrating spout of patience, of creeping inch by inch forward, hoping to hit a checkpoint and not have to repeat everything over and over. By the end of it, I felt like an AGDQ speedrunner, following a specific path and doing certain button presses, knowing they’d work because I had memorized how the guards moved and where one had to go to avoid them. However, instead of waiting what felt like an eternity for Violet’s Incredi-power meter to fill back up with invisibility juice, I spammed another secret passcode.

The level immediately after this is probably the most fun I had with The Incredibles, as Dash and Violet team up to pilot a bubble shield ball thing and mess around with physics. Basically, you get to bounce around in a bubble, taking out enemy soldiers, turrets, and machinery, while occasionally hitting some sweet jumps. After this, it is back to the same ol’ same ol’, with Mr. Incredible fighting that very same tank mini-boss he fought a few levels back multiple times in a row. It’s maddening, especially since the only way to stay alive and not lose progress and have to do all this repetitive busywork over again is to spam health cheat codes. But get this–The Incredibles is so ridiculous that it doesn’t even have a full health or invincibility cheat code. All you can do is keep typing in UUDDLRLRBAS for 25% health refill….25%. Which depletes quickly when battling a fire-spewing tank. I mean, c’mon, the Konami code used to grant you 30 lives in Contra and dress Qwark up in a tutu in Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal.

Ironically, the final final fight against the Omnidroid is not too difficult and kind of fun, so long as you keep an eye on everyone else’s health meters. Plus, after you beat it, you can continue running around the area, throwing rocks and leaping into burning trash bins, as the credits roll. For some reason, it reminded me of a Tony Hawk level. Or maybe my brain was so relieved to be done with this draining process in poor controls and faulty design choices that I was already beginning to think about what to play next. Please note that I did not actually go play Tony Hawk next (more on that in another post).

Oh, and somewhere about halfway through the game, I unlocked “Battle Arena” in the menu option. No, it’s not a local multiplayer slagfest. In it, you play as Mr. Incredible or Elastigirl, placed an arena to face round after round of enemies, culminating in a final tank battle, everyone’s favorite from the main campaign. Why would anyone do this? Well, to earn more bonus items, also known as uninteresting concept art. Here’s the kicker: you get one bonus item at the end of each round, so if you want all twenty of them you’ll need to beat Battle Arena as both superhero spouses. No thanks.

I’m sure it is obvious now from this post and the previous one that I have not had a good time with The Incredibles. A part of me is deeply curious if anything got better in the sequel The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer, but maybe I should just retire my superhero cape at the ripe age of thirty-one. Also: no capes.

Grinding Down’s new year gaming resolutions for 2015

gd new year gaming resolutions

I’m strange. Sometimes I like to openly talk about a challenge or new goal, such as when I decided to draw 365 bad comics over the course of an entire year, while other endeavors are handled more privately without anyone being the wiser. In fact, I’ve already started on a few over the last several months, and some of those plans will never be brought to light. I’m okay with that. I’m the shyest man yearning for recognition, afraid to be recognized. Again, I’m strange.

As far as I’ve seen over the last few days, game resolutions generally boil down to the same idea: play that game. Whether I do or not is the real challenge, and I’ve had some ups and downs over the last few years when it came to this, but I’m willing to put it out there again, a list of games I own, want to play, and then put away (in my mind).

In 2013, I wanted to beat five specific games I had previously played but never saw credits roll. I ended up beating three of the five, and though my math skills leave a lot to desire, I thought that was pretty good, especially when you consider that Chrono Cross is no short romp through an alternate dimension.

For 2014, I naturally wanted to beat those other two names I missed out on, but that never happened. Then I started playing Suikoden and Suikoden II, with the (laughable) idea I’d get through the rest of the series in short order now that I own all of them. Well, all except for Suikoden Tierkreis. Cue wet fart sound effect? I also had illusions of grandeur for the Metal Gear series, completing the first five games, with plenty more to go. Not “swings and a miss,” but more like “swings and good job, you’re on second base,” now waiting for another player to hit you home. I’ll get through both series in due time, hopefully before Gameageddon actually happens.

With that, here are my gaming resolutions for two thousand fifteen (that’s how all the cool kids are writing it this year). Trumpet blast a-hoy:

1. Stay one step ahead of Giant Bomb for its Metal Gear Scanlon feature. That means I’m not rushing through Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater just yet, which is also the last of the bunch that I’ve actually played. Peace Walker, Guns of the Patriots, and Ground Zeroes will be totally new experiences to me, and I’m looking forward to them greatly, but I don’t want to burn out either on too much too fast. I enjoy watching Dan and Drew react to the wackiness that is Hideo Kojima’s mindset, but only after I’ve swallowed the crazy sugar first.

2. Since I didn’t get to them in 2013 or last year–double shame on me!–both Final Fantasy IX and Radiant Historia are first on the list of must-see-all-the-way-through items. I really don’t want to arrive into 2016 knowing those cute, cuddly critters are still clawing at my ankles, desperate for attention.

3. Silent Hill 3. There, I said it. Or rather, I wrote it. Even though I’m still not over my harrowing time with Silent Hill 2, I must persevere. I’m not ready to explore why.

4. Come up with another new feature at Grinding Down for the year. Games I Regret Parting With seems to be a big fav, but I’ll eventually run out of those to dissect. I used to do Achievements of the Week and Half-hour Hitbox, but those lost steam after awhile, mostly because I lost steam. If you have any ideas or niches you’d like to see my cover, y’know, other than all these unheard of freeware joints or obscure point-and-click adventure games, let me know. I’m interested if you’re interested.

5. Get proper equipment like a microphone and learn how to stream better in preparation for  the next Extra Life event. I want to do it again and have friends over and raise lots of money for those that need it more than me. I’m even hoping to hold out on several games still in hopes of playing them live that during those twenty-four hours.

All right, we’ll stop there. Resolutions are tricky because you can just keep stacking them, and like I said, for gaming stuff, it often ends up being a list of games you want to play. I have too many to even start counting, and most of them are long, lengthy JRPGs, like Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny and Xenosaga. Cue mad scientist laugh? Yeah, cue it hard.

What are some of your new year’s resolutions, gaming-related or not?

Dragon Age: Inquisition’s war table is frozen with fear

dragon age inquisition war table game freezes gd

My favorite quest so far in Dragon Age: Inquisition is the one where you move the cursor across the war table map only to have the game freeze and hard-lock your PlayStation 3, forcing you to manually power it down, turn it back on, report an error to Sony–which I assume goes right into some digital trash bin–and then wait five to ten minutes while the console does a repair fix to ensure nothing got broken. I love this mission so much that I’ve replayed it at least four times now. Sometimes I like to do this mission after playing for a good amount and forgetting to save recently, forcing me to replay parts I already did because I can’t seem to remember just how borked this AAA title from BioWare actually is.

No wonder people are playing Dragon Age: Inquisition for such a high amount of hours. Seems like whatever latest patch that went on did nothing to fix stability, certainly nothing to enlarge the tiny text. Grr. To the Void with that!

Suikoden II is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar

Suikoden is a great JRPG with lousy translation work; that said, Suikoden II is an even greater JRPG with lousier translation work. The proof is in the published work. This is the PlayStation 1 era, meaning there’s no way to patch the game and cover up caught mistakes. I did this for Suikoden after I beat it and figured I might as well snap some slanted cell phone shots of poor grammar or translating problems as I went through Suikoden II all over again. I did not expect to take so many photos. Truth be told, I grew lenient as I played, and so the following is not every bit of wonky wordsmithing I saw.

All right, let’s do this my fellow grammar geeks.

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The joke here is that the true Hodor would never say such a thing. Simply “Hodor.”

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Since, y’know, YOU ARE PRISONER.

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I immediately found it strange that, for every shop in Suikoden II, the words “buy” and “sell” are lowercased while everything else is not.

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Maybe Nanami meant an Estate spy?

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You really don’t see many people using the form Its’ these days…

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Um…what?

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At this point, not even the makers of Suikoden II can remember how to spell their main villain’s name.

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Maybe you’re too quick at writing these pre-cook off blurbs.

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Wrong. I know not that name. There is only McDohl. There can be only one.

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“This is home I make my living” sounds like something you’d want to shout angrily. THIS IS HOME, I MAKE MY LIVING!!!1!1!!!

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Remember when they got Luca Blight’s and McDohl’s names wrong? Well, let’s add Jowy to the list.

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YOU ARE EYES.

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Some time after defeating Neclord, things got weird. Any time I ran away from a fight, the game replaced Hodor’s name with one of the enemy’s names. Thus…ZombieSlug.

I’ll probably restart Suikoden III early next year. Here’s hoping the translation work got better once the series hit a new console platform. Here’s hoping.

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH: Colony Wars

games I regret trading in colony wars

I still can’t believe we haven’t seen a new Colony Wars game in this day and age of impressive technology, big TV screens, and unstoppable imagination. Or, at the very least, a half-hearted remake of the first 1997 space adventure from Psygnosis. Alas, it seems like the Colony Wars series was deeply cornered in the late 1990s, possibly too unique for its time, and never managed to break free from its own genre, and that’s a shame, because this is the series that really taught me what it might be like to fly an aircraft not of this world. Also, not in this world. Yeah, sorry, Decent.

Story stuff. In Colony Wars, the player assumes the role of a nameless colonist involved in the expanding League of Free Worlds resistance movement. As a skilled League fighter pilot, you take orders from the Father in an attempt to overcome the oppressive Earth Empire and its massive naval fleets, which are spread across multiple colonies. I don’t know if it is simply the American Revolution in space, but it’s close enough. What’s really neat is that failing a mission in Colony Wars did not mean “game over,” just a new branch to follow. You can “fail” every mission in the game and still see it end, albeit through dire consequences. This allowed for the story to really feel unique, like your own, and certainly softened that blow when things didn’t go as perfectly as you planned them. Evidently, there are two alternative “good” endings, though I couldn’t tell you if I saw any of them. I definitely witnessed my fair share of “failed” missions though…

Speaking of missions, I remember them being quite many, as well as varied, though they naturally all involve you flying in your spaceship to some capacity. I think there’s about 70 in total, and you have to remember that you’ll only experience maybe a third or so based on your success or failure rates, making multiple playthroughs worth the effort. Let me see what some mission types were: perimeter defense, guarding supply lines, protecting capital fleetships, taking down opposing capital fleetships, dogfighting, infiltrating Imperial territory, and surveillance-style objectives, like obtaining Naval technology.

At the time, the graphics in Colony Wars were capable of being described as light years ahead of other PlayStation titles (pun intended). It did that thing where when your spaceship goes faster, speed lines appear around you in a circular fashion, something I’d probably scene on Star Trek or some other space-themed TV show. And there I was, the one piloting the ship, zooming forward through the emptiness towards that massive hulk in the distance, my target to destroy. It’s also one of the rare games that I enjoyed using the cockpit view more than the third-person camera, as seeing the inside of your ship and HUD really helped immerse yourself in the action, especially when you’d be flipping this way and that, hot on some enemy ship’s trail. Also, a friendly warning that should be heeded by all: do not look directly into the sun.

The game’s soundtrack is not exactly memorable, but upon giving it another go via the YouTubes, I’m finding it thematically appropriate. Dark, brooding, and capable of building to something that feels almost entirely overwhelming–perfect for backing up a contested dogfight out in the middle of no spaceman’s land. A great use of orchestra and electronica, but maybe a bit too unnerving for listening to when writing a blog post. I feel the need now to take down an evil-as-evil-gets ginormous battleship hiding in an asteroid belt singlehandedly; that, or entirely rewatch Battlestar Galactica for like the umpteenth time.

I’ve had a disc copy of Colony Wars: Vengeance in my collection for some time now, untouched, the manual glanced at occasionally, and I guess if I ever do really get that itch to fly through space and shoot some massive vessels I can give it a go. I don’t know much about this sequel to the original, save that it retains the idea of fail-able missions, but also lets your spaceship entire planets’ atmosphere to shake things up. However, it won’t be the same Colony Wars that I remember so fondly from 1997, that opened before my blossoming eyes and stretched out endlessly, that put a dot in the distance and directly me towards it. Let’s leave with a fitting Carl Sagan quote: “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH is a regular feature here at Grinding Down where I reminisce about videogames I either sold or traded in when I was young and dumb. To read up on other games I parted with, follow the tag.

SPLASH DAMAGE: Videogaming in “Undeclared”

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Unlike my videogaming habit, I try to stick to watching a single TV show at a time. This allows me to stay immersed and connected with the characters and storylines and not have to juggle a billion different happenings in my limited headspace; of course, due to the wealth of shows out there and number of places you can watch stuff for free or relatively cheap, I’m juggling three to four shows at the moment, namely Downton Abbey, The Walking Dead, Top of the Lake, and, lastly, Undeclared. Actually, I’m only one episode away from finishing Top of the Lake, which is a hauntingly beautiful and sad show filmed and set in New Zealand, and Tara and I only catch up with The Walking Dead every week and Downton Abbey every few weeks. So really, for me, it’s just been Undeclared over the last few days because I wanted something light and breezy after finishing up Breaking Bad recently–hey, check out my newest comic if you’re a Heisenberg fan–and that third season of Louie did not cut it.

Undeclared comes from cult favorite Judd Apatow and closely follows up on Freaks and Geeks, a show I very much adored. But instead of high school and hour-long episodes, we’re now in college with a potpourri of freshmen and 30-minute long episodes. A lot of the same themes are present here, such as taking responsibility and accepting who you are, but they are buried pretty deep beneath general goofiness, zany character motivations, and bombastic plots. At one point Adam Sandler playing Adam Sandler shows up. It’s not amazing, but it’s okay and bite-size, and I’m enjoying seeing many actors in their prime that I follow now, such as Lizzy Caplan, Seth Rogen, and Amy Poehler. Will Ferrell also appears in episode 7, “Addicts”, and his performance and script and the way he acts when it comes to videogames only confirms for me that Elf was and will always be his best, as well as that most people in TV have no idea how to portray entertainment gaming or those that like it.

In “Addicts”, Ferrell plays a townie called Dave who, for a small fee, will write papers on any subject for struggling–or lazy–college students. This works out well the first time, getting our leading lad a high mark, but the next set of papers turn out simply terrible, and it’s then that we realize that Dave is supremely messed up, on drugs, and unable to distinguish reality from videogames. See, Dave just got a PlayStation 2, and you can clearly see him enjoying Kessen, a real-time tactics simulator set in feudal Japan. As he plays, he is literally mashing on every button and moving the controller in his hands as if it covered in butter and he can barely hold on. When confronted about how bad the papers were, Dave says it’s because he was “this close to getting to level 24.”

As far as I can tell, in Kessen, there are no levels, not at least in the traditional sense. The game is broken up into different events, such as the Skirmish at Kuzegawa or Escape from Minakuchi, each with their own objectives, and I don’t think if you even added up everything in the game you’d come up with 24 somethings to do. Though I could be wrong. Still, it comes across as Dave just shouting gibberish, a phrase better associated with something like Super Mario Bros. or Sonic the Hedgehog–though not perfectly. If Dave was really into the game, as they show he is, he could’ve been more specific, like saying the name of the final war encounter. Later, he also refers to it as “that ninja game” when he is out of his mind on speed and trying combat the trio of college freshmen in his own house. It’s over-the-top and embarrassing, and only reinforces negative stereotypes of what a gamer looks like (well, in 2001)–college dropout, skeezy, on drugs, hyperactive, and unable to keep a grip.

If you’ll remember, I also ran into some problems with how games like Crash Bandicoot were handled in Felicity, and many of the same stereotypical dramatizations happened there as well. I wonder if Judd Apatow and J.J. Abrams shared emails with one another.

Anyways, you can watch clips of Dave being a loosely wired videogame freak from the show here, but the action really starts around the 4:00 mark:

SPLASH DAMAGE is a non-scheduled feature on Grinding Down that examines the way videogames are handled in different types of media, such as comics, movies, and TV shows. Basically, whenever I see them being grossly misrepresented, I’ll write about it. Expect a lot of grumbling over people thrashing around like wild beasts when holding a controller and shouting out strange things that many non-gamers might assume a gamer would say. Also: obvious links to drug addiction tendencies. Seriously, we can do much better than this.

It’s all about déjà vu for Dead Rising 2

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I’ve started Dead Rising 2 over twice now and am currently playing through the opening story bits for a third time, wondering why I’m doing this to myself. Certainly not because I love the sound zombies make when you bop them on the head with a spiked bat. The problem is that I keep running into boss fights that are wiping the floor with me, and I’m unsure if it is due to my lackluster fighting skills or if Chuck Greene is not high enough in levels–which increases health, inventory slots, speed, damage, and so on–to deal with these psychopaths. The latest progression roadblock happens in Case 4 involving two sword-wielding women, if you’re curious.

Clearly, someone at Capcom loves starting over. This seemingly masochistic mechanic is also a key element in the company’s Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, an RPG from the PlayStation 2 era that more or less demands you die and begin again to better learn how to survive some fights. I will eventually go back and try to grok Dragon Quarter because, man…I need to know. Maybe that’ll be on my “Games to Beat in 2014” list. Unfortunately, at the rate I’m playing, a few from my 2013 list will most likely be there too. In case it’s not clear, I’m not talking about the main character dying and reviving at some checkpoint–you literally must start Dead Rising 2 over again, from the very beginning, cutscenes and all. The twist is that you retain Chuck’s level, money, upgrades, and a few key items, so you’re only growing stronger with each and every playthrough.

But some games are not fun to play over and over, especially when the playing part is fueled by frustration. A few I find I keep coming back to and enjoying include Borderlands 2, Fallout: New Vegas, and Saints Row: The Third. Those kinds of gaming experience offer you choices and variations on how to play. You can go down an evil path or focuses on heavy weapons or whatever.

I think Dead Rising 2 is a prime example of a game you should only play once, all the way through; just like the zombies you hack and slash out of your way, this game moves at a shambling, almost idiotic pace. You can skip the cutscenes, but still have to endure the loading screens, and the missions do not play out any differently a second and third time through. Sure, you can get through them faster now that you know what they entail and have a better grip on what makes an effective zombie-killing weapon, but it’s more or less mindless grinding for the sake of…what? Some designer’s guilty pleasure? Also, stick suck at saving survivors unless they are standing a few feet away from the safehouse. Every playthrough is an uphill climb, each less than the previous, but still–completely unnecessary.

I think the most fun I’ve had so far with Dead Rising 2 is when I hit a zombie with a painting, stuck a goofy mask on its head, attached an IED to its back, and shot it from a safe distance after it meandered over to some friends, racking up a sickeningly rewarding amount of PP in one heck of a zomplosion. That said, I really hope I don’t have to start the game over for a third time.

An angelic army enslaves the world thanks to Overclocked’s early bad ending

ds overclocked lockdown tokyo

Well, after battling both demons and angels for a little over forty-five minutes, after losing every single team save for P-san’s, after constant spamming of gun-run-heal tactics, I finally did it. Victory was mine, earned with sweat, devotion, new strategies, the use of the Drain skill, and various sacrifices. I beat that mission in Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner Overclocked that has repeatedly kicked my ass these last few days, constructing a roadblock of sorts. With the angels and demons defeated, P-san and his friends Atsuro, Yuzu, and Midori escaped the lockdown, bringing Honda and his frantic buddies along with us for good measure. Y’all welcome.

However, immediately upon exiting, a strange lighting storm appears over the lockdown. The angels, who P-san was beginning to side with, declared that the lockdown was a failure and decided to kill everyone inside it with lightning. Pew pew pew. For those outside the lockdown–namely, P-san and friends and remaining family members–the angels have declared humanity to be in default of their responsibilities as children of God, and an angelic army appears to enslave the world. Anyone who is not immediately subservient is killed outright, and the remainder are stripped of their free will. This is all told via text on the screen, which is then promptly followed by the words “Mission Failed,” sending you back to the main menu to load from a previous save.

It’s heart-wrenching, and not necessarily from a storyline perspective, but the suddenness of a GAME OVER screen after all that story and choice and time spent battling monsters and trying to survive to live another half hour really does leave something to be desired. I mean, this whole time, we’re trying to escape the lockdown, and now you get the chance to, and if you do it YOU LOSE. The logic behind is severely flawed. Evidently, you are supposed to the fight demons and angels and then attack the humans to break their COMPs while also protecting them from the previously mentioned angels and demons who can, in one hit, take them out, and any civilian dying is a mission fail status. So the easiest option of kill everything and run for it results in death, despair, and dropping you back to the start screen.

Evidently, there are six endings in Devil Summoner Overclocked, and of them, one is literally called “the Early Bad Ending,” which is obtained by breaking through the barricades of the Lockdown on Day 6 and escaping after defeating both the angels and demons in your way. I had no idea about this as I played; I was just playing, making the choices that seemed right and logical, like escaping the demon-filled lockdown at first chance. For that, I felt like I should have been rewarded, but instead I was punished.

When the “Mission Failed” text came up, I literally started at it for over a minute, mouth agape and heart-rate increasing. I just couldn’t believe it. This game loves to waste your time and test your patience, and despite how patient I actually am, I’m over it. I took Devil Summoner Overclocked out of my 3DS and tossed it back into my cartridge bag; now, if I was truly over it, I would have put the cartridge back in its case and then on the shelf to sit untouched for the remainder of days. But there’s a sick part of me. It’s hungry and demanding and greedy and covered in dirt. There’s a sickness within me, and this side still wants to see how things are supposed to go down (or one of five possibilities) before deeming the experience over. I mean, after thirty-seven hours am I just suppose to accept an early bad ending as the final say in this story? Especially now that I know what I’m supposed to do to “beat” the mission correctly.

I’ll try again, I will. Devil Summoner Overclocked and I just need some space, the kind you build after everything breaks down. I’ll end this fail-driven blog post by quoting Nick Hornby’s fail-driven High Fidelity, which I think does a good job of summing up this Day 6 battle set on the fringe of the lockdown that literally tore me apart: “What went wrong? Nothing and everything.”