Category Archives: five things make a post

Some collectibles are better than others, but these stink

worst collectibles to collect rain gd post

There’s no shame in saying it, but I like collecting things. Both in real life and via my digital, interactive entertainment. That’s not to say I’m a hoarder, but if you give me a list of items existing somewhere out there, I’m most certainly going to try my darnedest to find them all and happily cross each one off. This most likely stems back to my younger days, on family vacations in Avalon, NJ. Besides playing a lot of Yahtzee by the swimming pool, I signed up for every scavenger hunt offered by our hotel that I could, and these often involved finding innocuous items like a specific type of seashell, a pair of sunglasses, and so on. I have fond if fuzzy memories of running around the hotel grounds like a maniac, looking for things and screaming with joy when they were found.

That said, as a player of videogames, sometimes finding items is not fun. Yeah, I know. What a hot take. Personally, I don’t need to be told specifically where each collectible is on the map, like in later Assassin’s Creed titles where you can just purchase these waypoint symbols from a shop. I prefer discovering them myself, but I also like knowing, generally, how many are in an area or which ones I’ve already found. Some record-keeping is vital, that way I don’t need to take mental notes as I pick up each shimmery doodad. The fear of leaving an area for good and suspecting I missed something is enough to lock my feet in the dirt.

Also, while not required, I greatly enjoy when the collectibles contain something else to them other than being a thing you gnab, such as some bit of additional in-game lore. Like in Tomb Raider and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, you find a thing, say a rusty knife, and that’s a collectible for sure, but you also have to interact with it and discover a hidden symbol to bring out story details. The collectible becomes more than just an object to pocket. Heck, at least collecting all those miscellaneous gizmos in Tom Clancy’s The Division got me some sweet, colorful outfits.

Because of recent actions, I’ve decided to put my brain to the task of coming up with a bunch of collectibles that absolutely stink. These are either not fun to find, do nothing for the player in the end, or maybe cover both of these issues. Regardless, boo to them, and boo to me for attempting to collect (some of) ’em. It’s a skill in others that I greatly admire, the ability to walk by these shiny sprites and polygons and not even care. Teach me how.

Gears of War – COG tags

COG tags are a mainstay of the Gears of War series, but they only become easier to track and find starting in Gears of War 2, which introduced the war journal, a sort of in-game notebook for keeping tabs on a number of things. However, for the first Gears of War, all you get is an X out of Y line when you pause the game. That’s it. I beat the game back at the end of 2013, with something like one-third of the COG tags found.

Recently, I glanced at the Achievements list to see if there was anything I could potentially pop before deleting the game from my Xbox One for forever and saw that two were related to finding the rest of the hidden thingamajigs. Alas, I basically had to follow a video guide to find each one, level by level, because I had no memory of the ones I had already picked up. Also, barely nothing happens when you bend down to grab these COG tags save for a less-than-impression sound cue. Obviously, this was early on in both the franchise and console generation, and figuring out how to implement collectibles was still in a nascent stage.

L.A. Noire – golden film reels

I’d have to go back and confirm this, but for some reason I feel really strongly that I only ever came across one of these 50 gold film canisters scattered about L.A. Noire‘s sprawling Los Angeles. They all contain names of films from the 1940s and 1950s. That’s cool. However, the problem is that they are extremely well-hidden. Maybe too well. In my search for hopping into the driver’s seat of every car in the game, 95 in total, another stinker of a collectible of sorts, I thought I explored a good chunk of the map. I guess not. I have no idea if finding all 50 golden film reels does anything for Cole Phelps and his ultimate destiny. It’d be cool if you could take these reels back to the police station and watch a few scenes during your coffee breaks, but I’m sure the licensing around something like that would be nightmarish.

Rain – lost memories

This blog post’s origins began with Rain, a game I completed on the first day of 2016. The collectibles in Rain are in the form of lost memories that the player can find to learn more about the young boy’s past. That’s fine and dandy, and there are 24 in total to collect, but here’s the sick kicker–these only are available to find after beating the game. Also, these only appear once you are in the exact location, which means you can’t spy them off from a distance; you have to know exactly where they are to start.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I burned my lunch hour to collect them all of them in a single go, following an online guide and abusing the checkpoint system so that I did not, in fact, have to play through the entire game again. Sorry, Rain–you have some great things going for you, but you are not that amazing or varied of an experience to go through again simply to now be able to collect floating orbs that give you the slimmest of slim story details to a story fairly slim on details to begin with. Ugh.

LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga – Blue Minikits

Speaking of ugh, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga. Here’s the thing. I’m totally and 100% completely used to collecting a number of things in all the LEGO videogames, from red bricks to gold bricks to characters to studs and so on. That’s just part of the flow, of going through levels and seeing what you can’t grab just yet, returning with the right characters/powers to pave the way. It’s been like this since day one. However, recently, Melanie and I worked our way through LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, and it truly was like going back in time.

As part of our climb to hit 100% completion, we had to find 10 blue minikits in every single level. Sounds tedious, but not tough. Except it is because there is a time limit, and sometimes missing one blue minikit means replaying the whole thing over. You are also not able to use any cheats, which means having to deal with enemies while frantically scouring the scene for blue minikits. Most are hidden somewhat in the open, and others are dastardly wedged behind objects in the environment. The hardest level, without a doubt, was “Speeder Showdown,” where you kind of need luck on your side to progress swiftly and the extra five minutes was not enough. Took us multiple attempts, but the job is done, and, as far as I know, this type of gameplay hasn’t shown up in other LEGO titles.

The Last of Us – All of Them

Amazingly, there are four types of collectibles to hoard in The Last of Us. Specifically, 30 Firefly pendants, 14 comic books, 85 artifacts, and 12 training manuals that improve your crafting skills and such. I’m pretty sure only the last set has any impact on gameplay, and the remainder are just things for Joel to bend down, pick up, and pocket away for no other reason than to give you something to do in-between moving from a safe space to an area full of Cordyceps-inspired monsters. A few help flavor the world, for sure.

Okay, I just loaded up the game–evidently, I found 95 of 141 as of when I last played, which is way more than I initially assumed. Not sure why it felt so low in my mind, but maybe I was thinking of Trophies, which the game is stingy with. Oh well. Either way, these are pretty obscurely hidden throughout the game, and the artist in me really wanted to be able to open the comic books and read a few pages instead of just staring at the covers.

I know for a fact there are many more that I’m not touching on, like the flags from the original Assassin’s Creed, score pieces from Eternal Sonata, and kissing 50 women from The Saboteur.

That said, I’d like to know what collectibles gave you the most grief. Join the conversation below in the comments.

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Five games I’ve been perpetually playing these last few months

Right now, change is afoot. Good change, happy change. Not useless pennies and dirty nickels change, but the quality of life kind. Because of that, I’ve put off starting a bunch of new, so fresh and so clean games, especially large time-sinks like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which will be my reward for completing chapter two of Death, Divorce, and Disney, whenever that happens. I also have my beady eyes on LEGO Worlds, Thimbleweed Park, Yooka-Laylee, and LEGO City Undercover. And that’s just a few off the top of my hairy head. There’s never been a better time to be playing videogames, both new and less new.

Because of this, I’ve been focusing on a few games only over the last few months, trying not to juggle too many things at once. Let’s take a look at them, through words of course…

Dragon Age: Inquisition

I got this and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor digitally for Xbox One during Microsoft’s Black Friday sale last November. Of the two, I picked the one I hadn’t already played a bit of and really enjoyed myself. For a good while, too, especially once I got to Skyhold and found myself running my own castle of loyal followers and friends. However, this game is big. Perhaps bloated in spots, with a lot of side quests that, while not interesting or extremely rewarding, must be completed because they are on a list of unfinished tasks, and I have to be thorough because I’m probably ever only going to play Dragon Age: Inquisition once and so I might as well see it all.

Each region is massive, and I recently stumbled prematurely into an area meant for post-game DLC, though I suspect I’m somewhat underleveled for it considering how many potions I’m burning through with each encounter. Oh well. It must be completed. That said, I don’t even know what is going on with the plot or how much of the main game I have left to see. Methinks a ton, which is why I will continue poking at this dragon-esque adventure for a few more months still, until the sky is free of every mystical demon-summoning gate.

Stardew Valley

I only got about 25 to 30 hours in on Stardew Valley when playing it on PC last year, but since then, it came out on consoles, and growing crops at Melanator Farm has been a mainstay in my weekly gaming routine. I’m certainly further than before on the Xbox One, now working through my second year of that sweet, sweet farmin’ life. Here’s a quick summary: I’ve completed the Community Center, I’m married to Maru, and we have a baby that four-hearts me very much. I still have a bunch of other things I want to do, like ship more crops, befriend more dudes (Maru doesn’t like when I gift too nicely to other women in town), and go at least another year and see what my Grandpa thinks of my work.

Battle Ages

Somewhere in my lengthy list of drafts here at Grinding Down, I have a work-in-progress blog post for Battle Ages that I have been saving for when I “complete” the game. Or rather when I feel like I’ve completed my time with it. I thought that might have happened sooner than later, as I’m nearly the last Achievement I want to pop, which is for leveling up my settlement to the Industrial Age. That costs 6.5 million in-game gold coins, which takes a while to build up, especially when you log in and see that you lost a million or so when not playing due to invading enemies and such. This is a free-to-play take on Age of Empires with limited space to build and glacier-like slow gameplay, but it’s something I keep dipping into every now and then to see how my people are progressing between Netflix and going to bed.

Gimme Five

Gimme Five, besides being a somewhat odd name and just makes me think of that one Seinfeld episode, is a trivia game that puts your knowledge of anything and everything to the test. Questions range from rhyming words to geography to pop culture to math and so on. It really does run the gamut. The aim of the game is simple–answer as many questions as you can before the time runs out. Each question has 5 correct answers, and in order to move on to the next question you need to answer it correctly. Or you can use some power-ups, like skipping the question entirely, highlighting one right selection, or removing all the wrong answers.

It’s trivia. That means I have good runs and bad runs, depending on the subjects at hand. For instance, I’m phenomenal at identifying words with five syllables, and I’m not so good with prime numbers or countries in Africa that border another country. Backing all this thinking is a surprisingly great soundtrack, and the UI is clean and easy to navigate. Gimme Five is something I go to when waiting for my dinner to cook or need to zone out for a few minutes, with my intention being to only play a round or two and then discover I’ve done ten in a row and it’s half an hour later.

Disney magical world 2

When I last wrote about Disney Magical World 2 here, it was in January 2017, and I was ready to put the collectathon down for a bit until the in-game environments changed over for Spring on April 1. I mostly kept to this plan, putting some time into Pokémon Moon and Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King instead. However, a few weeks before Spring was to debut, I put the cartridge back into my 3DS and have been chipping away at my completion rate (now over 50%!), as well as those post-game pro stickers. I have only one left, which asks you to surf 400 meters in Lilo and Stitch’s land without falling off. This is no easy task, requiring luck and timing and a strong thumb, and the best I’ve gotten to is around 375 meters.

Since then, Spring has hit Castleton, with character-themed eggs to find, bunny costumes to craft, and Easter medals to stock up on. This season will last sometime into June, if I recall correctly. Maybe I’ll be around 75% completion by the time things change once more. We’ll see.

I fully expect to still be playing these five games, as well as some others, like Gears of War 4 and Borderlands 2, over the next few months. After all, sometimes familiarity amidst change can be calming, grounding. This is a topic for another post down the road, but I actually have anxiety over all the untouched games in my collection and often freeze when trying to decide what to play next, settling for something that I already know and enjoy rather than plunging into the unknown.

What games have stayed in rotation lately for you? Tell me about them in the comments below. Especially if one of them is Panzermadels: Tank Dating Simulator. Especially.

Grinding Down’s 2017 gaming resolutions

gd-2017-gaming-resolutions

This is always dangerous, making promises. I’ve done it in the past here on Grinding Down, only to burn myself and those written words when it, for instance, ultimately, took many more years for me to beat Final Fantasy IX. Still, it’s always good to have goals, something to reach for and hopefully achieve after putting in the hard work, and, at the very least, these empty checkmark boxes give me direction, a place to go when I’m not sure what to do next. I’m not saying I’ll be successful on every account below, but I am willing to try. For all we know, 2017 could be the year of our very unmaking, and I might as well go down fighting for a cause, trivial as some of these may be.

Right. Allow me to highlight some future gaming goals…

Suikoden III

It’s always been my intention to play (and replay) the entire Suikoden series from start to finish to get to the games I’ve never touched yet, specifically Suikoden III, Suikoden IV, and Suikoden Tactics. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t believe I ever saw credits roll on Suikoden V, but I do have a memory card save…somewhere. I got through replaying the first two games rather quickly, but then moved on to other non-Konami adventures after that.

For 2017, I’d like to get back to collecting them 108 Stars of Destiny, especially after finally playing some Dragon Age: Inquisition last year and seeing a few strong connections between the two. The roadblock is that I want to finish up everything for Dragon Age: Inquisition first before moving on to another large, time-demanding RPG. I just became friends with Dorian and am looking to move things forward romantically with Blackwall before tackling many more side missions. It’s probably going to be awhile.

So, I did play a bit of Suikoden III a few years ago, but my PlayStation 2 copy seems scratched up and unreliable. Thankfully, during some past PSN flash sale, I purchased a digital copy for the PlayStation 3, which means I really have no excuse now. It’s installed, ready to go. The real question is, as always, what to name my castle once I acquire it.

Earthbound

I’m not sure what it’s going to take me to finally start playing EarthBound. I was hoping buying the game, for more or less zero dollars thanks to Nintendo Club’s closing back in May 2015, was a solid place to begin. Alas, nope. I haven’t loaded it up once. Honestly, having this game available on the Wii U gamepad and not actually a Super NES locked to a TV should make this process even easier, considering I can take the experience with me into bed (hey now) before the Sandman visits.

However, that would mean I’d have to put down my Nintendo 3DS for some time, and with Disney Magical World 2 taking up all my pre-sleep time and Pokemon Moon waiting in the wings–as well as the remake of Dragon Quest VIII waiting even further in the wings–this might not happen just yet. Maybe by Spring 2017. I mostly wrote that to both give myself some breathing room, but also a starting point to stick to. This one’s for you, Iwata.

Steam backlog

At the time of writing, I have 362 games in my Steam library. Yeowza. Granted, many are not installed, and not all of them are huge, triple A titles that can’t even run well on my struggling-to-breathe ASUS laptop. Many have not been played at all, in fact. See, I have a bad habit of downloading just about every free thing released on the platform, as well as gobbling up indie bundles for real cheap to bloat this thing out even more. It’s gotten to the point that, when I do finally occasionally scroll through the list, I can barely remember where some of these titles came from, and then I freeze in fear, unable to decide what to try next, eventually settling on something safe, like AdVenture Capitalist or another unsuccessful run in Runestone Keeper. This is a problem.

I’m not here to make any kind of crazy schedule, like trying to play X number of games every week. That’s not going to gel with life. I am, however, here to make an effort, and make that effort known. I’m going to start small, using HowLongToBeat to help identify the not-so-big-timesinks and start whittling away from there. My problem, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, is that I always want to experience as much of a game as possible, that I can’t remove it simply after beating it if there are, for instance, collectibles remaining to find or extra challenges that could be accomplished. I need to work on that. I need to accept that not every game needs to be squeezed dry, leaving nothing behind but a colorless husk. For 2017, I need to let go more often.

80,000 Gamerscore

This seems more than doable, especially considering that I jumped 10,000 Achievement points in the matter of six months last year. This goal also feeds into the constant sub-goal of clearing up hard-drive space on my consoles and removing finished games, as I continue to download those freebies every month, but not do much else with them except wonder when I’ll find the time. I’m looking to polish off Earthlock: Festival of Magic real soon, as well as a number of those single introductory episodes from Telltale’s numerous adventure gaming series, which will probably help make a good step forward towards this next milestone.

Create something one might call a game or experience or waste of time

Now, I know nothing about programming and code and how to submit something for certification with the big console-makers. It takes me upwards of three minutes to remember how to hyperlink something using HTML when the button doesn’t work here on WordPress. That’s fine. I’m not looking to do all that and beyond. This can obviously be argued, but: I can draw, I can write, and I have ideas.

And so, I want to create something. An experience, with emotions and mood and meaning and jokes, maybe stuff to click on, a puzzle or two or twist you never saw coming. Something interactive. Which leads me to think that a piece of interactive fiction is a good starting area. I plan playing a few pieces of interactive fiction soon, which will hopefully help bring the inspiration juices to a boil (ew gross). The trickier part would be deciding what story to tell, y’know, from the hundreds bouncing around in my brain every day.

Well, there you have it. Five things make a post. Two named games to finally dive into, a whole bunch of things within my Steam library, a larger Gamerscore, and something creative. We’ll stop there, as any more goals will just tip the boat over.

That said, how about y’all? What are you looking forward to accomplishing in 2017? It need not be related to videogames. Perhaps you are finally ready to start cleaning up that garage full of clutter (hi, Dad!) or want to exercise more or get into knitting. Either way, let me know in the comments. I like knowing.

Five things make a post, and Suikoden III is an undeniable PlayStation 2 classic

gd bought suikoden III again on psn

Activity on Grinding Down has been sparse as of late, which is pretty much par for the course when it comes to the summer months. Truth be told, between moving from one state to another, working, burning the midnight oil, frowning over piles of paperwork, living a life, and eating up several episodes of House of Cards on Netflix every night, I’ve not been juggling many games at once, continuing to focus on my current mainstays: Pokémon Shuffle, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, and a handful of mobile entries, one of which I’m not even ready to openly admit to “playing.” What a tease!

Anyways, here’s a few–well, five, if the title of this post is to be believed–short topics I have enough words to spew about. Perhaps I’ll get back to longer, more traditional posts sooner than later, but I promise to make no promises. Except for that promise.

Onwards!

Steam Sale Has Shipped

I always imagine myself going crazy and buying game after game after game during Steam’s annual Summer Sale…but that never seems to happen. It should, as there are plenty of great sales, and I checked in on the marketplace at least once a day, almost pulling the trigger on Grow Home, but nope. This year, I spent a total of $0.74 for the Developer Alliance bundle, and of them, I’ve only got to enjoy one outing so far. The other titles are at least installed on my machine. Also, I tried out that weird meta “keep on clicking” mini-game about monsters battling, but had no idea really what the point of it was, other than contributing to unlocking additional sales.

Well, there’s always the end-of-year Holiday Sale to look forward to. Maybe I’ll spend over a dollar for that event. Maybe I’ll finally grab a copy of Grow Home before 2015 concludes. Maybe.

Welcome to tactical alien shooting

Naturally, I have a longer, much more detailed post in the works for The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, but the videogame-musing words have not been very forthcoming these last few weeks. Anyways, I finally beat this last night, but the final fight took–ready for this–nine attempts. Seven with my team of agents that I’ve been playing with since perhaps the second or third mission of the game, which was frustrating as the last fight seemed designed to undermine every one of their abilities. Instead, I had to swap out my generic-but-loyal dudes for two other dudes with different classes, and yes I totally understand that these are personality-less soldiers, but, to me, to CIA Agent William Carter’s journey as a whole, it made more sense that his long-standing comrades should’ve finished the fight with him than these newbies. Oh well.

The Flame Champion once more

The Suikoden franchise, as much as it hurts to write it, is dead. And this time, there’s no late-game manner of reviving it like there was with a certain Young Master’s friend. Clearly, Konami doesn’t even want to make videogames anymore.

Thankfully, there’s been a few gasps of air over the last couple of months with the bringing of Suikoden II to the PlayStation Network as a digital download. This fantastic trend is continuing, with Suikoden III popping up this week for fans of Konami’s star-studded RPG series to eat up. Yes, I purchased a digital copy immediately for a whopping $9.99; y’all might remember the time and length it took me to finally snag a (used) retail copy, but it turns out that my used discs are a wee bit scratched and unreliable. Now I don’t have to worry about that, though I’ll have to start the adventure over. Methinks I will once I get through Final Fantasy IX.

What in the world was that?

I burned through a guessing game on my non-fancy Windows 8 phone the other week called What in the World?, which basically presents you with a category, a low detailed drawing, and a bunch of letters at the bottom. Your goal is to guess what it is, and, for the most part, the answers are pretty obvious. Harry Potter, Madonna, Paris, Spider-Man, and so on. I struggled mostly with celebrity names and automobile brands, but if you get stuck you can use power-ups to remove unused letters or even put several correct letters in their final places. In the end, I unlocked all the Achievements and then deleted the thing from my phone.

Quote the raven

Once again, I’m tasked with making room on my fledgling of an Xbox 360, as I’d really like to download Just Cause 2 and see some chaos unfold. But first, let’s complete some other Games with Gold freebies from my hard-drive. Like…um, The Raven – Legacy of a Master Thief. Well, Episode 1 at least. It’s a point-and-click adventure game…on a console. Grrr. So far, I’m glad that this was free, but generally once I start something, I need to finish it, even if it is only the first episode. My favorite subtitle typo currently has been about a train patron when she “looses” her purse, but the next line contaiedn the correct use of “lose.” Can’t win ’em all, the creators of The Book of Unwritten Tales.

That’s all for now! I have to go find some lady’s lost purse, as well as trick a violinist into opening up his violin case. Videogames–am I right?

Five things make a post, so please stop uppercutting me to death

mk20704

Things have been a little quiet over here at Grinding Down, and there’s a good reason for it, though I can’t reveal much at this time. Basically, I’m neck-deep in comic work and have been severely limiting my ferocious playing of videogames. Crazy, I know, especially since I’m right in the middle of my 2015 goal of seeing Final Fantasy IX‘s end credits–hey, remember when I wrote about how something always comes by and pushes me away during the second or third disc? Yeah, that’s what’s going on at the moment, but I have the fullest of intentions to get back to solving what’s really going on in that Black Mage Village.

That said, there has still been a few glimmers of activity, which brings us to this style of post.

FINISH HIM/HER, I CAN’T

I picked up the Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection the other week during that crazy good PSN flash sale and have been inching away at it slowly. There’s not much to actually inch away at, seeing as these are literally just a column of enemies to three-round fight until you get to the end. Naturally, I remember everything a little different, back when I used to play these on my neighbor’s Genesis, and I don’t recall the computer AI being so difficult. I’ve even dropped the difficulty settings down to “very easy,” seeing little change. I won’t feel satisfied until they are all best, but for now I’ve only beaten the original Mortal Kombat (using Raiden, of course), though Goro still took a number of tries in the double digits.

Free-to-Pokemon nightly

I continue to use up my allotted five hearts in Pokemon Shuffle once a day, at night actually, just before Mr. Sandman comes calling. Strangely, since changing the system clock on my 3DS due to Daylight’s Saving Time, the game thinks I’m trying to pull one out from under it and has restricted my access to the “Special” levels. Unless I want to do blah blah blah–whatever, game. It’s not my fault you and the system don’t grok how the practice of advancing clocks during summer months by one hour works. Currently, I’m stuck on level 120, unable to take down a Mega Glalie, which is forcing me to go backwards, grind my hearts away while occasionally capturing a new Pokemon. It’s fine, really. So long as my captured pocket monsters are slowly gaining XP every night, I’ll eventually be strong enough to hit level 121. You gotta believe!

Greetings to Gracie

This should be no surprise to anyone, but I’m still playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf religiously and continuing to unlock slash see new elements of the game some years after its release. Such as finishing up Gracie’s Fashion Check quest four times, which results in the fashionista giraffe opening up a store of her own and upgrading your department store to fit all her swanky merchandise. Still need to pay off my house in full, fill the museum with more bugs, fish, and pieces of art, and get Katrina to open up a stationary fortune-telling shop in the town square. There’s always something to do, and even when there isn’t, just chatting up neighbors and pulling weeds is enough to satisfy me for fifteen minutes.

Not epic text, but bigger

Several weeks back, I saw word of another Dragon Age: Inquisition patch incoming, and usually these patches are just a long list of very specific catches/fixes that I might not ever notice or come across, but one item in this update stood out to me: Added an option to control the font size of subtitles. I’ve run into a lot of problems with the latest entry in the Dragon Age series–see here, as well as see here–but nothing got me to quit that game hard after only a few hours than its teeny tiny–nearly unreadable–text size. I’ve since loaded up the game again to discover that, yes, the text is much bigger and easier to read. Perhaps I’ll continue on with Girgna’s journey and actually leave the Hinterlands after Final Fantasy IX.

Unsuccessful hunter of monsters

Three times I’ve entered a physical store and tried to buy a copy of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate only to be told to scram. Well, no, not that. But mainly that such-and-such didn’t have a retail copy for sale. Now, I know I totally could go and order one from Amazon or download it via the eShop (actually, I can’t, as I doubt I have enough free blocks space for it), but that’s not my main operative. I want to go into a store and buy a thing and then have that thing in my hand, ready to be consumed. Me being me, I’m going to take this as a sign that I probably shouldn’t buy MH4U even though it seems like an interesting action game brimming with cats and cat-fed puns. This also happened when I tried to get Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Fire Emblem: Awakening, though I did procure a copy of the latter eventually. Meh, time will tell.

And there you go. Five random thoughts for a Friday.

Five things make a post, and I quit thee from my thoughts

Knytt-Underground_Mushroom-Town

Well, it’s that time again. No, not filing your taxes, though that is coming up in a few months. Sneaky bastard, always creeping up on people like that. But I digress–it’s another roundup post so I can touch on a couple of things real fast without having to devote an entire post to each topic separately, especially since some are less than interesting to analyze. That might not seem like much to you, but for me, I can only string together words so many times in a week without my creativity and passion melting away, and this is the best solution I have.

All right, here we go. Five things.

No more Knytt

I tried. I really did. I probably put in around four to five hours for Knytt Underground‘s chapter three alone, which is, more or less, the main meat of the game, and I literally got nowhere. The point of the final third act is for Mi Sprocket to ring a number of bells–I think it’s five or six–to stop the apocalpyse from happening, and this time, the map is your ocean. You are no longer limited to where you can go, especially now that you also have the bouncy ball powers of Bob at your side. Except that’s not true at all. I constantly hit wall after wall, sometimes literally and other times in the form of locked doors or NPCs requesting specific items to let me pass. Look, I totally understand the point of a Metroidvania game, but for some reason, this one really irked me. It never felt rewarding, and I was never rewarded for anything I did. Quests fizzle out, and you can do a crazy series of bounces and magic power jumps only to pick up some description-less item for your hard work.

All of that said, dang. Dang, dang, dang. I really loved the look of the game, and getting to a new screen was a pure joy, until it just became one new frustrating roadblock after the other. According to the Trophies list, you can beat the game without ringing a single bell, but I’m sure that’s even more difficult than the mainline goal, and so my saved progress will remain underground for good, never to be seen again.

Gears of Insanity

I uninstalled Gears of War from my Xbox 360 this weekend. Before I did that, however, I completed its first act again on its most difficult of difficulty settings, the properly named Insanity difficulty. Usually, I never try the high-end difficulties, as the challenge always seems too brutal, too unfair, but I was curious what it’d be like and whether or not I could do it; turns out, I could, but at the cost of constantly reloading checkpoints, grumbling about useless AI-controlled comrades, and dying in flashes of uncontrolled chaos. Knowing what the remainder of the campaign looked like, I was not interested in finishing it a second time on a much more savage level. Oh well. At least now I made room for Sleeping Dogs and whatever else Gold members get for free this month.

The Fishiest Grind Yet

Some bugs and fish are simply better than others in the world of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and a lot of that determination depends on what season we’re in. For summer, you want to catch emperor butterflies and all kinds of palm tree-clinging beetles. For the fall, um…I don’t know. Mushrooms, I guess. And for the winter, you want to keep your eyes glued to large shadows in the river at night, because if you’re lucky you can snag a stringfish, which sells at Re-Tail for a whopping 15,000 Bells. In the mighty words of George Takei, “Oh my.” Or should that be OH MY GOSH?!

So yeah, I wouldn’t say I’ve been actively trying to grind out stringfish, but I do walk the river-line back and forth a few times each night before I let the Sandman take over. Still upgrading my house, planning to upgrade town hall, and Bells come and go, but will always be desired.

The Purpose of Art

This is the year that art and my unprofessional game journalism come together, as y’all can probably already see with the comics I’m doing for all my completed games in 2014. I also plan to re-tinker the look of Grinding Down from top to bottom, so expect some new pieces of art to pop up periodically over the next few weeks, as well as some other elements to disappear. Did anyone notice that I got rid of my large list of Achievements? No, didn’t think so. Anyways, I’m still trying to figure out what I want here art-wise, as well as working on other comic projects, but I eventually want this blog to really stand out as something unique, even more than just silly words on images as post headers.

Broken Age Breaks Out

Here’s something crazy: Double Fine’s Kickstarter-funded Broken Age releases today. Well, Part 1 (of 2), that is. Double well, only for backers, which Tara and I are, meaning we will get to play what I can only describe as a visually astounding old-school point-and-click adventure game. I’m excited to finally see the thing in playable, watchable form, as I’ve been following the documentary videos closely now for two years, seeing its creators struggling to produce something both small and grand, something beautiful and instantly recognizable. Hopefully all my adventure game playing will aid me in solving puzzles high up in the sky, as well as in space. You never know what Tim Schafer will throw at you next.

Five things I still need to do in Skyrim

At the same time that I splurged on Mark of the Ninja–more on that fantastic stealth-stabby game later, I promise–I also picked up the second DLC item for the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It’s called Hearthfire, not Heathfire or Healthfire as I’ve been constantly seeing it misspelled across the Internet in the days since its birth, and it only costs 400 Microsoft Points. The low cost is low because there isn’t actually a whole lot of content in the pack; it basically gives you three spots to build a house of your own, and then you have to grind for materials like iron ingots and nails and chopped wood to actually build it and fill it with items. I’ve only just begun filling my Lakeview Manor with storage barrels and shelves to place my filled grand soul gems. Nothing terribly amazing, and it seems like this kind of Minecraft-esque stuff is better suited for somebody just starting out on their adventure to rid the realm of evil dragons than me currently who already owns a house in two different holds.

But at least I’m back in the game for the time being. Finishing up a few quests while selling some items and emptying my digital backpack of potions I’ll never use–like anything related to breathing under water for X seconds. And so, I got to thinking, and here are five things I’ve yet to do in Skyrim after playing the game as one single character for upwards of 95 hours.

Ride a horse

Look, if you could hop on a horse and ride it in first-person perspective all while still wielding a bow and arrow or sword and magic spell…then yeah, I’d be all for that. I play these Bethesda games in this perspective and this perspective only; moving out of it breaks immersion and really comes across as just goofy and dangerous to one’s safety. But no, if you get on horseback, you must ride in third person, and that’s not for me.

Get married

Haven’t really given it much thought, to be honest. From what I can tell, being married in Skyrim is a bit…old-fashioned. You gain a spouse who makes you food and takes care of your home. Great. Not really. I’m curious to see if I can adopt a child without being married after I finish building my house; if not, I guess I’ll go hunting for a favorable partner. Vex sounds ideal /sarcasm.

Find the Dark Brotherhood

Please note there that I said find, not join. I haven’t even been contacted by them yet, and I guess for that to happen I’d have to openly murder somebody who didn’t deserve it. Like, not a bandit cave leader or blood dragon. Hmm. That’s not really how I play, so it is unlikely this will every happen on my first character. Maybe if I ever roll a new dude, but that might not happen for a long time–if ever. I know, call me crazy. Except you should know I never did many Dark Brotherhood quests in Oblivion either. So there, fantasy murderers.

Learn any spell above the novice level

I’m no Harry Potter, y’all. When I need healing, I use a potion or eat some cheese. When I need to weaken a foe, I poison my arrows and loose them from afar. I’ve done the occasional spell to clear webs or gain entrance into the School of Magic, but that’s been it. Not my style of combat.

Kill a giant

Everybody did it at the beginning of the game. You see some mammoths and head over to check them out. Then a giant comes stomping at you, swings violently with his club, and sends you flying into the sky with one hit. Instant death. Lesson learned. Since then, the only times I’ve come across giants has been in groups of three or four, and I’m scared to take on one for fear of three more seeking revenge. Plus the mammoths, too. So, yeah. All those giant’s toes in my bag? I stole them.

So, those are my things still to do/things to never do in Skyrim. What about you? What have you not done yet in a world that seems to never run out of quests or ways to occupy your time? Catch a butterfly?