03/23/2011 – I’m stealing Riddles’ shtick

March 23rd, 2011 by Ethos

I think we’ll keep this Dragon Age II Week thing going if Riddles doesn’t have other plans I don’t know about. I’d like to do some impressions with Riddles if he gets a shot in his busy schedule, and there’s an outside shot that I’ll get a review up.

Most of all, I’m taking the encouragement from you guys and calming down a bit about keeping Riddlethos up to date. There are a number of projects I’d like to get truly started (most importantly Lusipurr’s Fountain of Perpetual Disappointment), and that might mean keeping this site in low-gear until we can finally afford the re-design that Riddlethos has desperately needed for about 10 months.

Doesn’t mean that I won’t be updating, of course, just that I won’t be promising 17 weekly features.

The dishes are really really gross today, but I did a lot of them. In fact, I’ve been largely productive after work this whole week and it makes a difference on my psyche.

Anyway, that’s it. Let’s see if I do anymore actual work this evening.

Scatter Storming. Issue #048

March 21st, 2011 by Ethos

See! What did I tell you? Another Scatter Storming.

Today I am quite tired and have a lot on my plate, so let’s go to.

Let’s Be Honest

As much as Riddles and I love this site and are committed to it, it’s obvious that content and enthusiasm has been down since the beginning.

The fact is that Riddlethos does not pay the bills and takes a tremendous amount to effort to keep afloat at the level that both Riddles and I aspire to.

This leaves feelings of frustration when we can’t produce content like we’d like and feelings of guilt when we take time to ourselves.

But the point is that we truly appreciate all our readers – the ones who comment and the ones who don’t – and while Riddlethos will have dips and dives in its content production, you guys are the reason we still even consider this little site as something worth working on.

Riddles and I plan to talk soon to rework a few things, and maybe it’ll mean officially diminished content, maybe it won’t, but all decisions will be made carefully and with the future success of the site in mind, even if that means darker days for a bit.

Sorry for the rant, but I wanted to touch base and let you all know that a lack of content does not equal a lack of love.

Ugly

Pilot Wings Resort

Fuck the other games that came with my temporary 3DS unit, Pilot Wings is the shit. It has almost every good thing I remember about the 64 version while adding some good new things and removing most – but not all – of the annoying. You can blast through all the missions very quickly, but to master each one and get a perfect score in every level is a true challenge.

A challenge that’s actually not often seen in any game nowadays. It’s a clever move that Nintendo demonstrated with Mario Galaxy 2: the difficulty setting without a need for a difficulty setting.

It would be perfectly easy for a beginner player to toy around with the title and have some fun in the easier modes and the free flight and not get frustrated with the difficulty. An intermediate player would find challenge in unlocking all of the levels as a decent amount of skill is needed to do so.

A player of my experience with gaming and the series, however, can blast through and unlock all the levels, but will then have a very challenging and ultimately satisfying time with the game trying to get a perfect score on all the levels. It – very largely – takes skill and intimate knowledge of the intricacies of all the vehicles to do so. There will be no flukes to gain a perfect run.

Yes, very fun. But ugly.

However, all that praise being said, the game is actually a horrible showpiece for the new system. The graphics are bad. I saw what the launch software was capable of when I was in New York, and Pilot Wings Resort is ugly in comparison. There is no argument. It’s a stylistic choice I guess, but one in the same vein as Wii Sports, so I’m not going to defend it.

Also the 3D is bad. If I only had this game to go off of, I would say that the system’s 3D doesn’t really work that well. Now I’ve seen about a dozen other titles, so I know that Pilot Wings Resort is the exception, but it’s still a Nintendo first party launch title, so…

On the lowest level, it’s actually very pleasant. The effect is obvious, but not intense, and it can even be helpful for some of the jet pack missions. But crank the thing up and it all goes to shit. Unlike every other game that I’ve played for the system, when the slider is completely up – or even over the halfway point – there’s no way to properly focus. There is no sweet spot. The 3D just doesn’t work on max for Pilot Wings.

Anyhoo, there’s a solid preview for when I get the go ahead to write a review. (Psst, the go ahead will be once I see a review from IGN).

Other than that…

…I haven’t really been playing many games. I just haven’t been home. Dragon Age calls to me, but because it has turned out to be “just a fun game” and not really the sequel that Origins deserved, I haven’t been cutting into sleeping time to play it.

I have been playing Pokémon when I can, but I’m just on the grind now. I picked up a few Pokeymans that really suck now, but evolve late and will be worth the investment. I’m at the Elite Four, but haven’t properly challenged them yet. I’ll post my winning team when I finally do.

That’s all! I actually wrote more than I expected, so suck it.

Weather Forecast: Scatter Storming

March 20th, 2011 by Ethos

Riddles and I have both been very busy. He with work, me with work and nonstop social activity. Perhaps his is more legitimate? Who knows. All I know is that this is the first time I’ve been home in a while, and I’m about to leave.

Never fear, however. I’m going to keep this Scatter Storming thing alive and at least start it tonight. That means it’ll go up tonight or tomorrow. I’m not like Riddles who starts a Dead Space 2 review and never finishes. Once I have a draft up, it’ll be posted within 24 hours.

Edit: I actually started it today (Monday) and I’m just waiting for an awesome picture from my friend to use for the cover. So it still will be posted within 24 hours. That just might mean Tuesday now.

Concerning Dragon Age II and Not Playing as a Female

March 17th, 2011 by Riddles

Well that’s an unwieldy title. I might change it later, in which case I’d have to remove this sentence as well. Or maybe I won’t, which means this sentence will still be here. And you’ll be reading it.

Ahem. It’s Dragon Age II week here at Riddlethos, and I’ve decided that in the sixty minutes or so I have before I must depart for work, I’m going to attempt to write… well, something about it. Some simple impressions would be almost superfluous at this point, so I decided to touch on a tangential topic relating to my personal playthrough.

In every BioWare game that I’ve played before Dragon Age II (which is limited to Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, and Dragon Age Origins) I’ve always chosen to play as a female. (Cue tired jokes). Ethan’s the one who originally gave me the idea (cue more tired jokes) and I’ve always found it to be a rewarding experience, for a few reasons. First and foremost, Shepard’s female voice is far easier on the ears than the male version. Jennifer Hale is a goddess among voice actresses, and that is a fact. Second, lesbian sex scenes. This may only apply to the original Mass Effect, really, but whatever. And finally, playing as a female is just a good ol’ change of pace to me. I’ve played plenty of games with burly or even not-so-burly male protagonists. I’m past the stage where I idolize angsty spike-haired males – who, in fact, are often more effeminate than Jane Shepard could ever be. When I have the chance to decide, I’ll go with the change of pace, and remain confident enough in my own sexuality to not be ashamed of it.*

My dude looks less douchy.

That aside. You may notice the title of this article includes the words “not playing as a female.” I almost feel sheepish saying this after the above mini-rant, but it’s true: I chose the Male warrior in Dragon Age II. And I didn’t do it because I’m having a crisis of sexual identity.** I did it for the history books. Yes, the history books, children. I’m willing to guess that many of you are confused right now, so let’s advance to the next paragraph, where I will elaborate.

One of the most rewarding things about playing through Mass Effect 2 was seeing how my decisions from the original game carried over and affected the people, events, and world around me. The world behind Mass Effect is one of the richest fantasy mythologies created for a videogame, and the cohesiveness of it all – even factoring in the vastly different decisions of different players – is mind-blowing. It’s why I’ve never replayed either of the Mass Effect games. I want my story to be perfectly preserved, and I want to see it through to the end before I go back and mess around with different decisions. As a gamer, it’s like I’m building my own legacy, my own mythology, within this fictional universe. For some reason, that really tickles my fancy.

As we all know, Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 share the same protagonist. Dragon Age Origins and Dragon Age II do not. When I first played the demo for Dragon Age II, I selected a female warrior like usual. Soon, though, I found myself thinking: how much sense does it make for Fereldan’s heroes to all be… y’know, chicks?

Think about it. In my playthrough of Dragon Age Origins, a female Grey Warden named Luthien saved Fereldan from the blight. Not sure what grand effect on the world Hawke will have when it’s all said an done, but I imagine (or hope, rather) that it’s something similarly epic and world-changing.

I realize how entirely vague and bizarre I sound right now, but for whatever reason, raising another female Fereldan (or Kirkwall-ian) hero just didn’t sound appealing to me. And it’s not how I want my personal history in Fereldan to play out. So, I chose to play as a male. I changed up my appearance a bit so I look less douchy, but I’m still definitely a dude. And… it’s not bad. I’m glad I did it, but it seems I’m more partial to playing as chicks than I thought, because it’s still a bit strange.

Honestly, though, I’m not sure playing as a chick would make it much better. I think Hawke him/herself is a little on the bland side. Granted, I haven’t gotten too far yet, but I just can’t quite pinpoint the dude’s motivation.

But that’s an article for another day. Like tomorrow! I mean, it IS Dragon Age II week.

*I would recommend  you write that sentence down and use it out of context to embarass/troll me at some point in the future.

**A sexual identity crisis may well be happening, all I meant to communicate is that it had no bearing on my decision to play as a male Hawke.

Oh, and Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.

An update on all the stuff I can do before you.

March 16th, 2011 by Ethos

Just saw an advanced screening of Paul and it makes so many nerdy references, your face will bleed. Also, it was a lot better than I expected. Really a great movie.

Also, I got my grubby little hands on a 3DS unit. It’s not mine, but it’ll be in my possession for the next few weeks. I’ll be bringing you impressions/reviews when I can/am allowed to.

Hope all’s well!

Welcome to Dragon Age II Week

March 16th, 2011 by Riddles

Sure, Dragon Age II came out a week ago, but we’re only now having a theme week – which, of course, is the most important thing.

Nah, I’m kidding. But we are going to talk about Dragon Age II this week, which should be a fun time – seeing that many people already have some strong opinions on the game. Such as Yours Truly.

Yeah, I’ve been playing it. I know I haven’t been around here much, but I have been playing videogames, so that counts for something. I’m only ten hours in at the moment (shameful, I know) but I’ve certainly played enough to form an opinion. For now I’ll say that I’m enjoying it quite a bit –  but, many of the complaints about the game echoing about the interwebs are, indeed, valid.

Except for the ones about the battle system. It’s awesome.

In other random news, Angry Birds is strangely addictive. This morning I woke up to find that my electricity had been shut off (which inspired no small amount of rage) and even after I paid the exorbitant sum in order to turn it back on, I had to sit in a dark apartment for at least an hour. With no electricity, I had naught for electronic entertainment aside from my lovely iPhone 4 which I love. So. I finally decided to give Angry Birds a try. It’s fun. I always feel kinda dirty playing such candidly casual stuff, but I won’t lie: I enjoyed it. So there.

Scatter Storming. Issue #047

March 14th, 2011 by Ethos

Okay, crazy weekend over. I’ve still got a crazy week ahead, but I’ve at least got a small amount of downtime right now. And with that downtime, am I going to play Dragon Age II? Am I going to practice my horrible StarCraft II? Am I going to play more Pokémon: Smugleaf Edition?

NO! I am going to write a Scatter Storming for my beautiful readers.

Edit: Turns out that I DID play DAII and Pokémon after a while. Most of this Scatter Storming was written Sunday night, and the cover is lackluster. Deal with it.

Last night

So because I couldn’t keep the ball rolling with daily content for you over the weekend, I might as well fill you in on some of the happenings.

Yesterday, my extremely talented younger brother performed in a production of Bye Bye Birdie which was far more bearable than I ever expected it to be. Of course, Jordan was fantastic, but afterward was the most interesting part of the night.

It was also my grandmother’s 70th birthday. I had gone with her and my mother to a tame sushi dinner earlier in the day, but after the show a few of us decided to go to a bar.

“A few of us” consisting of my sister, my father, my mother, my mother’s husband, and my grandmother. Amazing. Didn’t ever picture that scenario materializing. Anyway, video games exist.

Cooling off on Dragon Age 2

We’ll talk far more in detail about this when we start Dragon Age 2 Week, but after 10 hours, I’m not as gung-ho about it as I first was.

I mean, not the battle system. That’s still awesome. The complaints about it (at least in terms of the PS3 version) are a little ridiculous. It’s straight-up an improvement. Still has all the abilities and capabilities to delegate to your party, but now it runs better and faster and it’s more visually appealing. Also, now it rocks to be a mage.

Still, maybe I’m playing it wrong, but so far it really just seems to be Kirkwall: The Game. There’s no sense of impending doom, no sense of a giant world to traverse, no sense of darkness and medieval fucked-upness like there was was in the original.

I’m also annoyed that I can’t start a full-on conversation with my party at any point. I know that they rarely updated, but it still feels like a step back. And having to traverse to individual houses to progress relationships? I know that the loading times are better, but I miss a general camp. And it’s not like loading times are THAT much better. Saving just doesn’t pause the game anymore.

TV

I wanted to review Mr. Sunshine because it wasn’t as good, and I wanted to review Modern Family because it had its first truly excellent episode of the season, but I didn’t. And now I’m behind in TV. That’s what happens when I stop becoming a hermit for a few days and work more on the weekends. Ta-da!

PokéParty Update 04 – Smugleaf Edition

March 14th, 2011 by Ethos

My (fairly short) Scatter Storming is basically finished, but since I’m at work and can’t photoshop the cover from here, I thought I’d do a party update. Especially because EVERY POKÉMON IS DIFFERENT! Well, mostly, but the only ones that are the same have evolved. Let’s go!

Fraxure lvl 40 – This one is a little weird to have in my party because I know I’m going to replace it with a Dark/Dragon-type that you can find in Victory Road.

This guy is just a regular Dragon-type, and he’s suitably strong, but he’s just biding his time until I encounter that aforementioned badass.

I’m a little annoyed that I spoiled said badass’ final evolution, but it did confirm that the guy is a certified monster beast. And it’s Dragon/Dark. I already mentioned that, but it’s worth mentioning again. Especially because I ended up begrudgingly getting rid of my super-powerful Crocodile thing, even after it evolved. Too many good Pokémon. Speaking of…

Jellicent lvl 40 – I have to admit, I’m disappointed in how this guy evolved. He just did and his previous form was a lot cooler-looking.

This picture isn’t even accurate because I have the male version, but it leaves the same impact: “meh”.

However, I can’t imagine this dude is going anywhere, despite not loving the design anymore. Its base stats may very well be the weakest in my party, but it truly doesn’t matter. Jellicent is a Ghost/Water-type and that’s all I need to say. What a killer combination. Only weak to 4 types, but resistant to 5 types, immune to 2 types, and because of its ability it absorbs Water-type moves. So. Good.

Victini lvl 40 – I always feel a little uneasy about using Legendary Pokémon or ones that are only available through special offers or for a limited time, so in normal situations, I wouldn’t even consider Victini.

However, Victini is adorable, I can’t find any other good Fire-types for the life of me, and it’s a dual Psychic/Fire-type, so the positives have added up to making this exception.

It’s tiny, but super-potent and super-adorable. I’m not necessarily opposed to swapping it out if I find a cool Fire-type on my own, but I feel like I’m too spoiled by its power for now.

Unfezant lvl 41 – Once again, this picture is inaccurate. I have the male-version which I prefer. Either way, both final forms are the best yet for this bizarre Pokémon set, and I’m glad that Game Freak decided to switch it up a little from the Pidgey/Starly formula.

Still, I want this guy out. I would have loved to get rid of my Unfezant before my ultra-badass Krookodile, but I’m held down by Fly. I need that move. A Flying-type is nice against Fighting, but I have Victini for that, so if I could teach Fly to ANYONE else in my party, Unfezant would be gone before you could say “simultaneously regal and ugly”.

I also haven’t come across any other Flying-types that I’m interested in enough to replace Unfezant with, so we’ll see. I’m just waiting for a chance to boot him out, despite the fact that he’s actually pretty powerful.

Cobalion lvl 42 – Yes, I just said that I rarely use Legendary Pokémon, but my first playthrough is a small exception, and the three Legendary in this game are sweet!

I mean, just look at this dude. You can tell it kicks ass, but at the same time, you’d totally invite it over to watch the game or have an Arrested Development marathon. Then afterward, you’d hop on its back and you’d run through a meadow laughing like the best of friends.

Plus, it’s a Fighting/Steel-type. Win.

I actually haven’t had a big chance to use it in battle yet because of my OCD leveling habits – I caught it at level 42 – but I’m excited to.

I actually also caught the Fighting/Grass-type version of this guy, and it is even cooler. But I just resisted because I couldn’t make a redundancy on…

Smugleaf lvl 41 – That’s right, assholes. Smugleaf has evolved again, and it is eating your soul. Smugleaf one-hits your Pokémon, absorbs your health, and embarrasses your party.

Smugleaf will coil its new dragon-body around you and slowly squeeze until you can feel your guts spilling out of your pores. Smugleaf will take that opportunity to inject painful poison into what’s left of your blood to make sure you know nothing but agony as it slowly and meticulously drains the life from you.

Smugleaf’s alternate name, Serperior, is actually pretty decent too. That’s because Smugleaf can do no wrong.

Don’t expect this party to change too much beyond the things I already mentioned. But you never know…

Busy weekend

March 11th, 2011 by Ethos

I know I’ve been on a roll and it’s Smugleaf Week, but I’ve got a pretty packed weekend planned. I’ll try to get some PokéParty Updates going, but it won’t be the barrage you were just treated to. Or probably not.

Current crisis: Do I get rid of Smugleaf or Zebstrika to make room for a Water/Ghost-type? I’m serious. And those two are my favourite two in my party. They’re just single-types that are both good against Water, so I need to cut out the redundancy. It’s killing me.  Thoughts?

PokéParty Update 03 – Smugleaf Edition

March 9th, 2011 by Ethos

I’m on a roll today. Enough content in one day from one person as we usually crank out in a week. And I’ve been working all day. FUCK laziness. I haven’t even had time to eat lunch today.

Sandile lvl 24 – I just added this into my party, hence the lower level. Yes it’s sad, but I had to ditch Liepard. It was a badass, and strong enough, but I can’t deal with single types. And by only evolving once, that makes it a little weaker in the long run.

Sandile is not only a dual-type, but I cheated a little to confirm that it evolves twice. I don’t know what the final evolution looks like, but I’ve seen its first evolution in game, so I’m not worried. But what I am worried about is…

Palpitoad lvl 28 – Look at this ugly-ass mother fucker. Not only did I not expect this dude to be so hideous, but I didn’t even notice that he’s a dual Water/Ground-type until I already switched out Liepard for Sandile. Ugh.

So the point is that I don’t care that it evolves again, I’m getting another Water-type as soon as I can. I don’t care if this abomination is strong or has a powerful dual-type.

Conkeldurr lvl 28 – Yup, I skipped a step. While remaining relatively spoiler-free, I do get paranoid about how the new Pokémon evolve. So while I don’t look at pictures or names, I try sneak a peak on Bulbapedia from time to time to see if my team evolves by level, stone, trading, or other means.

That turned out to be very helpful in this case because the moment Tumburr evolved into whateverthefuck its evolution is, I traded it to Abe80 to make it evolve into this beast and traded it right back. Just a solid fighting type who gets the job done.

Also, his name is Conkeldurr. CONKELDURR.

Zebstrika lvl 28 – I was right. Look at this warrior. I know I just mentioned that a single-evolution Pokémon wasn’t as strong, but I’m willing to make an exception with Zebstrika.

Beautiful, bold, powerful, badass. While I like to make my party as efficient as possible with dual-types, Electric-types are usually an exception. Water and flying are just too common, and Electric is just too powerful. That fighting beast I just drooled over a second ago is more at risk than Zebstrika is, to be honest.

Tranquill lvl 28 – Not much more to say here.

I mean, like Abe80 pointed out, we should all be a little uncomfortable with the pose its making with its wing in this photo…

…I’m still holding out hope that its final evolution will somehow be pretty. But I’m a little scarred after that Water/Ground nightmare above.

I just…I won’t know what to do if I don’t have my Flying/Normal-type in my Elite Four party…

Smugleaf lvl 27 – Smugleaf will rip open your chest and suck out your arteries. Smugleaf will enjoy your brain as noodle soup in front of your family. Smugleaf will steal your girlfriend and make her forget you so fast that she won’t recognize you ever again. Not if you re-introduce yourself. Not if she ends up being your boss and sees you every day. You are GONE from her brain.

Don’t fuck with Smugleaf.

The final form of Smugleaf is coming…

…Be prepared.