Category Archives: introduction

The Paul gives his impressions on the first hour or so of Bastion

Like most gaming entertainment, Bastion begins with some narration. This is to set the scene, tell a little backstory, get the proverbial ball rolling. However, with Supergiant Games’ first release, there’s a hook; the narration never stops. Voiced by Logan Cunningham, the game’s narrator is ever watchful and never a bit shy to comment on the fact that you’re slashing everything in your path apart or that you need to leave that adopted pet in your stronghold alone for now or that you went left instead of right first. It’s interesting and a little creepy, but it certainly gives one a sense of their own experience, something true to only them, and that their version of the Kid is being role-played as they deem.

Bastion is about rebuilding. An event known as the Calamity has split the world into a series of floating islands, and the Kid, our silent protagonist, heads to the Bastion, a safe haven of sorts that his people created to live at protected during these hard times. Unfortunately, upon arrival, it is clear that there is a lot of work yet to be done, and so the Kid sets off across the floating map to find new resources. So far, I’ve been able to upgrade the Bastion with two new buildings: a distillery and a forge. The former is a place of potions and magical unctions, and the latter lets you tweak your current weapons with passive abilities, such as improving the speed of your bow or your chance to land a critical hit with that mighty hammer. Standard RPG flair, but the stat personalizing and slight customization is welcomed.

The game is highly stylized, with gorgeous artwork, vibrant colors, and a playing field that forms all around the Kid as he moves forward. It’s amazing to see the path constructing right before your feet for the first time, and it’s still equally amazing the fortieth time it happens. Kudos to the developers for that neat trick. The monster designs are adorable, like something from a Hayao Miyazaki film. At times, the camera zooms in for a closer look at the action, which I greatly appreciated. Every place is a place of import, nabbing a cool name that any fan of epic fantasy fiction will love. My personal favorites: The Rippling Walls and Breaker Barracks.

If there’s one complaint I could toss onto the field it’s that the dynamic narrator is sometimes talking right as a swarm of Squirts appear out of nowhere and attack the Kid. Unfortunately, at that point I am more concerned with staying alive and swiping my enemies to bits to really listen, meaning I’ve missed out on whatever he said. Granted, it might have been something minor, but it might not have been. A narration log would be nice, or some kind of codex to keep track of everything. Also, at least for me and my television from 2005, Bastion is another example of a tiny text game.

But so it starts:


The Stranger (10G): Complete the Wharf District.

Looking forward to building more of the Bastion tonight after work.

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It’s the age of industry in Fable III, and the chickens aren’t pleased

The Fable series sure loves its chickens. Well, I can’t actually speak for the first game as I’ve never played it, but Fable II had a lot of chicken-related things going on. You could kick them for an Achievement, kick them for a bonus in the Coliseum battle place, you could sacrifice baby chicks to represent how true evil operates, and you could dress up like one because…well, everybody has their quirks. But yeah, they were there, hopping around some of the towns, adding life and personality.

Times are a-changing for Fable III. The kingdom of Albion is embracing the age of industry, and cogs and machines and factories are just about everywhere. But chickens always remain constant, and as our narrator tells us, the oppression of the common person is at the heart of the story. Thus, the chicken. It, too, can be oppressed, be a hero, and it just takes one hero to get an uprising started. The intro shows just how far one can fight back, and it certainly is an interesting journey to watch unfold.

Check out the opening cinema sequence from Fable III due out this Fall:

I think for lunch today I’ll get a crispy chicken sandwich in its honor. Wait, what? That’s not how “honoring” it works? Too bad. No arguing with my tummy. Om nom nom…

Meet the three Pokemon Black/White starters

Earlier in the week, Pokemon fans got teased with the following silhouettes, which represent the three new starters from the forthcoming Pokemon Black/White games:

Many guessed that, seeing as there’s been little innovation in this aspect, the three Pokemon would fall under the usual category of being fire-based, grass-based, and water-based. Sure, some hoped for new elemental types to start out their next adventure. Personally, a baby dragon-based Pokemon would be killer to train from the get-go, but alas, it’s been revealed what they look like, knocking down all theoretical walls and solidifying that they are what they are, which is adorable/freaky and just more of the same:

We have a fire-based pig, a rather stoned-looking grass Pokemon (inside joke?), and some kind of…demented beaver? Really, your guess is as good as mine. Their Japanese names are reportedly Tsutaja, Pokabu, and Mijumaru, but I’m sure they’ll swiftly be made into something more punny for us silly Americans. Either way, I’m not overly excited for Pokemon Black/White. See, HeartGold will definitely be keeping me busy for a long, long time, and if there’s a severe lack of innovation in this next iteration of the series and just, oh, a hundred more Pokemon to ultimately collect then there’s no reason to jump on it. Chances are I won’t even have half of HeartGold‘s Pokedex filled by the time this comes out. And I really do think the series needs more than a graphic overhaul to spice things up.

If I had to pick one though, I’d go with the fire-based pig. Naturally, his nickname would be Bacon.

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH: Trap Gunner

trapgunner

I can’t even recall why this game is no longer in my collection. I must have, at some point during my climb from Playstation 1 to Playstation 2, traded it in along with a heap of others to help get some extra gaming funds. The young fool I was…the young, dumb, blind-as-a-barrel fool.

Of Trap Gunner, what I remember the most is that it was a hoot to play. Not the storyline, not the characters, not the graphics–just that it was a party every time. The premise revolved around your character and another character running around a battlefield, and as you went you planted all different types of traps to snare them in and drain their life-bar. You could use bombs, pitfalls, gas, mines, and force panels. Some worked well on their own, others had to be used in conjunction with other traps to really seal the deal.

Here’s a great example of something I’d do every round in Trap Gunner, no matter the stage:
1. Plant a force panel
2. Directly across from the force panel plant a pitfall
3. Next to the pitfall plant a switch detonator
4. Lure my opponent over to the force panel
5. Enjoy the domino effect

The best part is that traps you plant can’t be seen by your opponent (and vice versa), making running around a bit nerve-wrecking. You might not want to go up those stairs…so you can drop into a sneak mode to sniff out enemy traps.

There was a single player mode, as well as a two player split-screen if I recall correctly. The story mode did little, but open up new levels and secret characters. All in all, Trap Gunner was a fun mix of action and strategy, and is most certainly a game I miss from time to time.

Check out the anime-like intro as well:

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.

Once more, this time with feeling

Wow, my last post here was in the middle of March 2009. Yeah, let’s get down to the meat and potatoes: I suck.

But we’ll try again, as I do love thinking about videogames and such, especially since I’m now the fancy owner of one of these things:

xbox360Only took me a billion years to get it, too.

Not Game Over Just Yet

Videogames.

From Marble Madness to Super Mario World to Suikoden to Jumping Flash! to Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus and countless others. More than just entertainment, they’ve been a part of my life ever since I was a young boy and received my very first game console for Christmas. It was, to my boyish delight, a Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and with its velvety purples and soft, ash-like grays the darn thing nearly brought tears to my eyes. In actuality, I’m saving those liquid droplets for when my SNES no longer works; I still play Donkey Kong Country 2, Killer Instinct, and Kirby on it to this very day, which, when you think about it, is akin to observing a miracle.

Anyways, I’ve gone through only a handful of gaming systems though, still not yet crossing into what Interwebberz deem “next-gen,” but not a day goes by that I don’t keep up with what’s happening in the industry or what new achievements were issued for such-and-such or when the next price cut might hit. I have thoughts, I have some experience, I have ideas and rants and questions that need posing. I guess that means writing about games again, or trying to. Hence, Grinding Down. It’s a gamer’s guide to nothing, which more or less means whatever you want it to mean. I’ll do my best to make it into something, really.

mario

So here I am, resetting my inner console, starting over yet again.

PRESS START TO CONTINUE