Tag Archives: death

2018 Game Review Haiku, #35 – Chairs for Bashir

Life with civil war
Put on concert, distraction
Need chairs, please no bombs

For 2018, I’m mixing things up by fusing my marvelous artwork and even more amazing skills at writing videogame-themed haikus to give you…a piece of artwork followed by a haiku. I know, it’s crazy. Here’s hoping you like at least one aspect or even both, and I’m curious to see if my drawing style changes at all over three hundred and sixty-five days (no leap year until 2020, kids). Okay, another year of 5–7–5 syllable counts is officially a go.

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The Fabulous Screech will make you click and feel emotions

gd the fabulous screech final impressions

The Sea Will Claim Everything is a game I think about now and then, a game which I haven’t really touched in about four years. That said, I think about it like this: starting over, falling into it once more, eyes wide and absorbing, my brain ready for an overload of story and characters and rich lore. The amount of detail that Jonas Kyratzes imagined up for this world, these Lands of Dream, staggers me still, as does the inviting, storybook artwork by Verena Kyratzes. Together, these two create portals, doors that open and close, but take you far away from where you started. I don’t know if I’m ready yet to give The Sea Will Claim Everything another go–I believe I walked away from it feeling somewhat overwhelmed–but I continue to build up brain space for when that day comes.

In the meantime, there’s The Fabulous Screech, which is a smaller, more contained bit of whimsical fantasy and storytelling. No, it’s not about everyone’s less-than-loved Saved by the Bell nerd-for-brains. The jaunty plot is that your partner bought you a ticket for the season’s last performance by The Fabulous Screech and His Trained Humans. You travel to the town of Oddness Standing to see this unique show and learn how The Fabulous Screech lived its life. Interestingly, this game came to fruition as a Christmas gift for someone’s boyfriend when times were tough and funds were short, and the Kyratzes duo ended up making it more personal than originally intended. This is why you’ll click and feel emotions.

Gameplay is minimal and easy, but that’s okay. This is more of an interactive story, and there’s so much to interact with, to click on and read, that dealing with solving complicated puzzles for getting you from point A to point B would have messed up with the laid-back pacing and gentleness blanketing everything here. At most, you have to find an item for a character, and there’s only so many places you can search, so you’ll eventually find it and move ahead. All this captivating reading and visuals are backed by a soothing soundtrack that works when things are bouncy and childish at the theater’s curtains to the darker moments of dread and frailty by the end. Also, and I had this problem in The Sea Will Claim Everything so I suspect I need to learn to live with it, I’m still not a fan of the common-day references everywhere, such as to the Sierra or T.S. Eliot, but I guess that’s what helps make these lands dream-like. That blurring of fantasy and the real world.

The life–and presumably death–of The Fabulous Screech in The Fabulous Screech is anything but straightforward. There’s whimsy and silliness, but also a good amount of stark reality and sadness. Look, aging is unstoppable. That’s a hard fact. Time passes by with every second, and it’s up to us to make the best of things, to find happiness and be happy. I try not to think about my furry pets dying, but I know they will some day, and that debilitating fear makes it difficult to even write about this stuff. Sure, Timmy can be a psychopath and bully, but also a lap warmer and affectionate friend. Pixie can shed like there’s no tomorrow and get her claws stuck in everything, but she also headbutts me hello whenever she can. They are special to me.

Okay, that’s all I can do. Gonna go hug both of my kitty cats now and hope that, at least in their feline eyes, I’m a well-trained human.

2014 Game Completed Comics, #14 – Broken Age (Act 1)

2014 games completed 14 - broken age act 1 facebook

Every videogame that I complete in 2014 will now get its very own wee comic here on Grinding Down. It’s about time I fused my art with my unprofessional games journalism. I can’t guarantee that these comics will be funny or even attempt to be funny. Or look the same from one to another. Some might even aim for thoughtfulness. Comics are a versatile form, so expect the unexpected.

Disposabot teaches you that death is the answer

GD disposabot final thoughts

I learned of Unept’s Disposabot from perusing the ever enlightening Jay Is Games, and I’m glad I gave it a shot, as this turned out to be a bit more than just a cute-looking puzzle platformer. In fact, it’s a cute-looking puzzle platformer that makes you think, though some levels can be beaten simply by throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks, but for the most part, you gotta use your noggin. It’s definitely one of the better Portal wannabes. Wait, let me explain.

Dr. Nemesis, the snarky founder and CEO of the Tyrant corporation, has decided to kidnap you, an ordinary citizen robot, and really put you through the ringer. By that I mean…a number of anti-hero weapons testing rooms, which are filled with numerous and dastardly ways to lower an android’s power level from 100 to zero in a flash. Your job, naturally, is to get through each room safely and in one piece in pursuit of finding a way to stop the often heard, but rarely seen villain, that way you can get back to normal, daily automaton life. Whatever that is. In each of these rooms is a replicator that allows you to respawn in a new, mechanical body after dying, and this is the main mechanic that will get you from one side of the level to the other. Yup, dying is the answer.

When your little robot dude/dudette dies, your body remains in the level. The Last Geek from Ludum Dare 22 did this, but it was only for cosmetic purposes. Some enemies will leave an empty, light-as-a-feather husk of a corpse that you can push around and use as a stepladder, and others will completely freeze your wireframe in place, even in mid-air. The trick is figuring out how and when to use each of these special corpse types to your advantage, to reach the end-of-level pipe entrance, and the first few levels are beyond basic and obvious, there to teach you these skills, but the majority of the levels are quite puzzling, especially the later ones where you need to get keys before exiting or do certain actions in a specific order without fault.

Disposabot is controlled entirely with just the arrow keys. You move left and right with the respective keys, and press up to jump. If you find yourself stuck and want to start over, simply hit the [R] key to clear away all your mistakes. Surprisingly, that’s all the control you need to get the job done, though I always prefer to play platformers with a d-pad or analog stick for better precision and ending up missing a few vital jumps. Each level gives out medals at the end based on how many times you died, the less earning the better prize, which helps add some replayability for those trying to make it through as perfect as possible. I got mostly golds and silvers, though a few of the final levels saw me dying over and over again out of frustration and unplanned attempts to just push my way to the end, winning only bronzes.

However, unlike Portal, the story never reaches that same wondrous high, but you do eventually put Dr. Nemesis in his place, and the last third of the total 21 levels are very rewarding from a gameplay perspective. Again, it’s a cute-looking puzzle platformer that makes you think. Plus, all the clouds are Tetris shapes. Really, you can’t not smile at that.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #51 – Eternally Us

2013 games completed eternally us

A best friend is gone
We all grieve differently
Amber points and clicks

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

It’s hard to stay alive in a horror-ridden basement

binding of isaac thoughts

I love trading cards, and I mostly blame Magic: The Gathering for it, but this affection traces back further than that to when I was a wee lad, collecting Fleer baseball and Marvel cards with a vigor I’ve never since seen again. I still have much of my collection stashed away in boxes and binders, but have mostly fallen away from collecting cards due to the cost these days and the fact that, part of the fun, is trading X and Y for Z with other collectors. Alas, I can count the number of real-life friends I have on one blender-mangled hand, and none of them are down with this type of lifestyle.

That all said, Steam now has trading cards, and while I still don’t fully understand how the system works, I find it fascinating nonetheless. Also, with these being digital trading cards, I no longer have to worry about accidentally bending or nipping them, as well as how to store them safely amongst everything else crowding up my studio space. Basically, you play a specific game, and a new trading card is added to your inventory roughly every 30 minutes. However, you can only earn so many, say 5 out of 9 cards, and thus have to either trade with other players or sell/buy cards online. Once you complete a set, you can craft a badge which gets you some background art, new emoticons, discounts on other Steam games, and XP to level up. It’s an odd meta game that I have a hard time ignoring. Thankfully, I haven’t gone full tilt yet, selling only one duplicate for $0.27 and sitting on it while I figure out my plan of attack.

I was able to give Grinding Down long-standing compadre Greg Noe some of my extra cards from The Binding of Isaac, allowing him to craft his first badge. It was both exciting and not. Like when you’re seven, and you are watching your best friend opening his birthday gifts. I believe he has some Stacking cards for me, too, but last time we attempted to trade the system kept glitching out. Another time, me hopes. I’m also pretty close on completing all the cards for Super Meat Boy.

Anyways, even though I got all the cards that I possibly could to drop from The Binding of Isaac, I’ve been playing a lot of it lately. Like, first to relax and just mindlessly see how far I can go, and then immediately after try my hardest to actively reach the end. Unfortunately, I’ve still not gotten past the Depths, but I feel like I’m getting better with every run. However, getting far actually requires a ton of luck, in that certain items will be more beneficial than others. Noe mentioned that a friend of his beat it on his first run, to which I replied, “Fuck him.” Trust me. When I beat The Binding of Isaac on my 157th run, now that will sound impressive.

Bosses that I just can’t seem to grok:

  • Widow
  • Pin
  • Chub

But it’s not actually the bosses that often slow me down or bring my flight of fancy to a grinding halt. Just your day-to-day room enemies are enough to give you grief if you don’t know how to handle them or can’t hit the keys fast enough, and I particularly hate entering a room to find it filled with charger maggots, hoppers, knights, keepers, and globins. On the other hand, I’m a pro at dealing with flies and piles of poo.

Hopefully, luck will be with me one day soon, giving me the best items from the get-go and opening a clear path to Mom. If I can just beat The Binding of Isaac once, I will feel a great wealth of accomplishment, because it really isn’t a simple task. I do have to wonder if I’d be any better at the game using a controller, but I don’t think, unlike Hotline Miami, another tough title requiring quick reflexes, that it offers gamepad support.

SMT IV’s Minotaur boss is one loud wake up call

SMT IV minotaur boss fight

After dying four times during the tutorial section of Shin Megami Tensei IV, I’ve succumb to the blurry darkness a bunch more since then. Probably too many times to keep counting, actually. For a few of those deaths, I revived myself by paying Charon a hefty sum of Macca; other instances saw me just reload to an old save, losing a bit of progress, but keeping me out of downward spiral of debt. I now have the option to use Play Coins to return to the land of the living, but asking for nine is a bit too steep for my shoes, especially when I need to conserve them for Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Find Mii II. So yeah, life as a Samurai is hard, which I should have expected from my earlier time with Devil Summoner Overclocked, but I didn’t realize just how fast and cruel the Press Turn system can be, despite how enjoyable it is when it operates in my favor.

It all becomes clear when you reach the Minotaur boss fight, a few levels deep in Naraku. He’s weak to ice spells like Bufu, and you can get quite a few hits in before it is his turn to attack, but once he does…well, he wipes out my team in a single sweep thanks to the Press Turn system and smirking. I’m not sure exactly if I’m doing anything wrong specifically or chuck it up to bad luck, but it’s been a roadblock for sure. I’d say I’ve taken him on maybe five or six times now, just reloading an old save instead of going into debt with Charon. Boo and grrr and I’ll get you yet, you disturbing piece of Dali-esque artwork.

Until I’m strong enough or lucky enough to beat the Minotaur, I’m grinding and doing side stuff. Like collecting gryphon tails. And downloading free items from the store. No, wait. I’m actually downloading the quests that will allow me to gain these items, but they still require work/items, like 10 or so Life Stones. Every now and then I pop into the Cathedral of Shadows to see what I can do with fusion, but that place is scary and I’m always worried that I’m going to waste a good demon unit to create a subpar one. Right now, I’m rocking…you know, I can’t remember their names specifically and don’t have my 3DS open to check. Hmm, one is the weird connected horses beast. The other looks like a boar. I’m sorry, I just don’t have space in my brain to remember what these crazy critters are called, not when that information is fighting against Game of Thrones theory details and all 108 Stars of Destiny. Also trying to save up all my App points so I can buy the “recover MP while walking” one, quickly followed by “recover HP while walking” right after it–those seem like must-haves.

I’ll be back soon, Minotaur, to try again. If you have any handy tips on how to knock him out fast, please share. I don’t want this to be a permanent roadblock.