Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 33 - The Thing Furries Don't Thing About

We come back to the Lion King world, so let's try not to fall asleep.


Thankfully, Sam's here to add some spice to my life.

Vistory Podcast - Episode 2 - ROM Hacks

Welcome to another episode of Vistory. Today, we discuss ROM Hacks.

I apologize for my relative silence this episode. This is a topic I thought I knew more about than I did.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 32 - How Sora Saves Christmas (Again)

This world is best world.



As much as I love Halloween Town, we're still getting tired of all these world stories. And as a result, we were still in the middle of losing our minds.

I would apologize, but I think it's fun to watch.

Vistory Podcast - Episode 1 - Genre

Welcome to a new project I am undertaking with a friend of mine: Andre Doucet. This is Vistory, a podcast discussing the history of games one topic at a time.

Our inaugural topic is Genre. This is an interesting one to start with, because while games of yesteryear generally stayed within the confines of one genre, that's less true in the modern era. These days, you'll mostly find rigid adherence to single-genres in the indie scene.

We hope you enjoy our first episode and many more to come.



Monday, May 1, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 31 - Magic Carpet Ride

Sometimes we make interesting, serious points about Kingdom Hearts.



And sometimes we look at copyright and just say "screw it".

This is one of those latter times.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 29 - Of Kings, Contracts, and Fish Lawyers

Finally, we get to the part I HATE!



I've written about it before, but I can't even fathom how anyone though Atlantica was a good idea. It's a concentrated does of everything wrong with Kingdom Hearts 2.

I hate this world, and I hope it they never come back to it in future games.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 28 - What Has My Life Become!?

Welcome back to Port Royal. We're barely hanging on.



This is roughly the point where Sam and I start to lose our minds and slowly slip into madness. It's not quite so visible at this point, and we're still able to mostly hold a coherent conversation. But we start making a ton of diversions and side conversations, which will become a more common occurrence later on.

In the meantime, enjoy the sanity while it's still there.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 27 - JRPG Talk

While Kingdom Hearts rolls in the background, Sam and I talk about the JRPGs we have (and haven't) played.



I want to point out that while Sam seems to have a chronic inability to finish the JRPGs he starts, as of the time of writing, he has completed a single JRPG: Final Fantasy XV, otherwise known as the Beautiful Boy Band Adventure.

Given how long this series has gone on, and Kingdom Hearts status as one of the biggest JRPG franchises out there, it was only a matter of time before an episode like this came out. Sam and I spent a while just talking about the various games we've played in the genre, lightly comparing them both to each other and to Kingdom Hearts.

Also, props to Belle for not being another captured princess. Even when held hostage, she still manages to be the only sane person in the room.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 26 - This Force Called Sora

And now that we've finished with some of the important stuff, we can do nonsense for the next 5-10 episodes.



A recurring problem we're running into with this series has more to do with the nature of these long RPGs than any inherent flaw with Kingdom Heart's actual story. Our objective here is to help explain the lore and story behind this franchise. That said, so much of the content, even when focusing purely on the cutscenes, has little, if anything to do with the story.

Most of this "filler" story comes from the Disney worlds. This is an interesting problem, because those Disney worlds are a major draw for many, if not most, of the people who play this franchise. A lot of the reason people come to Kingdom Hearts is to fight alongside characters from classic Disney films.

But for us, who are only interested in the overall plot, most of this is just a waste of our time. It's almost shocking that, if you remove most of the Disney-related worlds from any given Kingdom Hearts game, and focus on the original story, without losing much. Some details are lost, but the series as a whole will still make sense.

If anything, I would want to have the main story thread woven into the Disney world storylines with much more grace than this. Considering worlds like Beast's Castle can do that, it doesn't seem like too much of an ask.

Then again, I wasn't on the team for this project, so what would I know.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 25 - Going Full Stupid

It's so refreshing to have cool, interesting conversations about the story.


The scenes in the first seven minutes of this episode are all Final Mix exclusive, and that's honestly a large problem. In those seven minutes, so many of the reveals from future games are foreshadowed that the people who only played the original release don't have the foundation that they should. Unless you're like me, and read the wiki, the only way you'd have this content is to:

  • Look it up in the wiki
  • Import the Final Mix version from Japan
  • Wait several years for the ReMix to be releases, that you'd have no way of knowing about at the time Kingdom Hearts 2 came out
And up until recently, this was one of the biggest problems with the Kingdom Hearts series. In order to have the complete story, it was required to have the following systems so that you could play every game in the Kingdom Hearts series:
  • PlayStation 2
  • Game Boy Advance (any variant)
  • Nintendo DS (and later 3DS)
  • PlayStation Portable (PSP Go and Vita wouldn't work due to copyright protection)
  • Mobile Phone
This all changed recently with the ReMixes. While this was a problem for a long time (and part of why Kingdom Hearts was so hard to get into), now all one needs is a PS3 and a PS4 to have access to every game. Soon, with 1.5 + 2.5, the PS3 won't even be necessary, and the PS4 will be the one-stop shop for Kingdom Hearts.

Square Enix has had this problem for a long time, and finally they've solved it. Still, disregarding the financial commitment of getting all the systems and games, there is still the issue of having to play all of the games. As you can see, even with a ton of the gameplay edited out, going through all of these stories is still quite time-consuming.

It's a messy complicated problem Square Enix dug themselves into. While I appreciate the attempt to solve it, it's still a problem.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 24 - An Single Joke (Please Laugh)

It's story time, ladies and gentlemen.



It's weird to think of how Kingdom Hearts 2 is a product of it's time. I'm not talking about mechanics or how dark its story is (although that's certainly true). I'm talking about how it references other media that, in hindsight, are clearly only to drum up or capitalize on hype for other projects.

We touched on that topic earlier in Port Royal. In hindsight, it's obvious that the only reason Port Royal is even in Kingdom Hearts 2 is that Pirates of the Caribbean was taking off in a big way at the time it was being developed. This is silly, but something that one can easily look past, and is no more offensive than any other Disney-world story.

On the other hand, the references to Advent Children are some of the worst offenders in the game. It's not just that the game is detouring to make a thinly-veiled hype piece for the movie. That could be hilarious, but otherwise inoffensive in its own way. The real problem is that the way the jury-rig the pieces together makes almost no sense. It comes off as awkward, especially when those extremely edgy looking outfits are juxtaposed to "Happy Disney Funtimes".

Monday, April 3, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 23 - De-Rezzed

Sam and I stop playing games to talk about not playing games.


I appreciate Sam's help in reminding all of us who Christopher Lee is and why you should be worshiping him.

Aside from that, it's nice to have a Disney movie tie into the main thread in a way that makes sense without feeling too much like filler.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 22 - A Tale of Two Ansems

Today, we start to get into some of the more confusing aspects of Kingdom Hearts.


I love the way they leverage the fact that Tron exists in a computer system in order to write the scenario. The way they smartly link it back into the main scenario through the protagonist's quest for answers was a nice way to keep the plot moving forward.

I was also very impressed at Sam's ability work through his confusion and figure out the Ansem/Xehanort connection without my help. It shows that he's been paying attention as we prime.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 21 - Zippers Held By Belts

Finally, we're back to talking about story content.



It's actually pretty amazing that, after the original Kingdom Hearts, Kairi has a huge problem with almost completely ceasing to be relevant to the plot. Even though she spent most of the first game in a state of limbo, she still does contribute to the story in some ways.

In Kingdom Hearts 2, her only real contribution is being kidnapped, and then not being kidnapped anymore while Sora goes off and actually deals with the real plot. It gets worse from here on. At some point, you'd be hard-pressed to remember who Kairi is. I wish that they'd make more use of her. As it stands, she only serves as motivation for the real heroes, without taking any actions of her own.

Also, points to Sam for correctly figuring out the Xehanort/Ansem family tree on his first try.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 19 - Stupidity Skyscraper

And now, we leave the worst level in the game to go to the worst filler level in the game.



This world is another example of how the game just blatantly copy/pastes the story of the movie, and jury-rigs Sora, Donald, and Goofy into the mix as Mary Sues that solve all of the problems.

For that reason, I don't have much more to add beyond what we said in the video.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 18 - Atlantica: A Hate Story

From one of my favorite level, to what is easily my least favorite....



It's amazing how quickly I can go from singing this game's praises to groaning at how bad it is. Atlantica is, if anything, a microcosm for all that is wrong with Kingdom Hearts 2.


  • While easy and otherwise inoffensive, there's nothing engaging about the musical segments. They're nothing more than fluff.
  • The scenario is some of the most vapid writing I've seen from any Kingdom Hearts world. Not only is it blatantly coping from the first movie, but it does so in a way that almost directly contradicts the "character growth" that the people in the world underwent in the first game.
  • Facts revealed in this scenario (like the world *above* the sea), make me wonder just why we needed to blend in with the undersea world at all in the original Kingdom Hearts. Why not just land above the sea and interact with the people there.
If we never revisit Atlantica in another Kingdom Hearts game again, it'll be too soon. It's clear that nobody knows what to do with it.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 16 - Revenge Before Pleasure

This is Hollow... CHRISTMAS!



Please note that between the time we recorded this footage, and now, I have actually sat down to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas for the first time. When this was made, I had not seen the film.

Someone in the Square Enix offices is obviously a huge fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas, because out of all the Disney worlds, this one got the most love by far.

The script is so much more well written, they added a ton of cool little details into the Final Mix version, the enemy and scenario design is heads and shoulders above most other worlds. There is so much care than went into this level that I'm genuinely impressed by it.

Shame that the other worlds aren't cared for as much.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 15 - Sam's Undersea Sing-A-Long

Welcome to my personal hell.



I hate this world with a blinding, fevered passion. If you want a preview of my big problems with Atlantica, you can read about it in my post from way back in the day.

I touch on it here, but in truth we'll need to wait until we come back a few times before I can really drive the point home. It's bad, and just thinking about it makes me wonder why on earth did it turn out the way it did.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 14 - Dice Like Duke

We skip Timeless River in favor of Port Royal instead.



When Sam and I talk about this game's tendency to just recycle the stories from the movies they source from, this world is one of the worst offenders. Not only is this the same exact story, but it's also the same shot more often than not. On top of the frequency in which they repeat scenes, it's one of the worst ones in the game. It exists only to capitalize on the popularity of the franchise back when Kingdom Hearts came out.

It's also just a strange world in general. The "realistic" visuals looked pretty good at the time, but it just hasn't aged well at all. By modern standards, it just looks too uncanny. And to have Sora, Donald, and Goofy is juxtaposed to the much more washed out visuals of the world and characters is even worse. Sam's right when he says it looks like it's from a different game entirely.

When I went through this level way back when Kingdom Hearts 2 first came out, I was impressed by it. That said, it doesn't hold up to the test of time. Nothing here is particular well done.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 13 - The Doritos of Light!

Witty intro setting up the episode you're about to watch.


"Interesting", long-winded discussion or critique of the material we covered in the episode. This could be anything from an elaboration of a point Sam or I made to a new avenue of discussion that only occurred to me when re-watching the video for the purpose of making the post.

Follow up to the previous paragraph, further elaborating on the points made as needed. Sometimes this is short, sometimes this can take multiple paragraphs.

End with a brief sign-off that either servers as a punch-line to a joke established in an earlier paragraph, or gives a nice stopping point for the reader.

Or I could just be an ass who didn't have enough points to make for a good article on the nothing that just happened.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Hitman (2016) - Episode 43 - The Poison-Her

Let us finish what we started, with puns.



In a typical Hitman level, most of your time is spent figuring out what approach would be best to take out your target. What weapon will you use, when's the best time to strike, how will 47 get out after the kill is completed, and remove all evidence of the crime?

Players are likely to screw up several times before they successfully complete the mission, one way or the other. What makes this mission different is that one of those questions is already answered for the player. What weapon will they use on the targets: The Viral Syringe (which is functionally identical to the Modern Lethal Syringe).

This would normally be fine, but this one question also answers several others. When and where is the best time to strike? The answer to that is basically any place and time where no one is looking at the target. How will 47 hide the evidence? He doesn't need to. A Poison Kill is treated like an accident, so it doesn't matter if the body is discovered.

Because of the particulars of how this weapon works, the tricky part is merely in finding where all three moving cogs (the viral syringe and the 2 targets) are. Since players can still restart until the first objective is complete, the most dangerous part of this mission is completely safe. You'll notice that once I found where both targets were, I was able to quickly kill both of them, delete the evidence tape, and escape.

I think it's good to experiment with new ways to add challenge to the Elusive Targets, but I think this experiment failed. This was just far too easy.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 12 - Look At That Crowd!

The filler never ceases!



I feel like I'm grading on a curve for this plot. Sure, it's original, which makes it 10 times better than most of the Disney world stories in Kingdom Hearts 2. That said, there are too many little problems I have with it for me to think it's more than bland, uninteresting filler.

It's death by a thousand cuts. Nothing here is bad, it's just mediocre all around.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Hitman (2016) - Episode 42 - Pro Surgeon

We talk about the addition of the Professional difficulty while completely another Elusive Target.



The addition of a Professional difficulty hammers home the need to allow players to more easily customize their own difficulty settings to form the ideal experience for them. There are a ton of ideas in the Pro difficulty that I would love to have added to my Hitman experience. I want to play around with how the game plays if players need to make clean kills to take disguises, or if cameras can detect suspicious/illegal activities and summon guards.

But other parts of that difficulty mode, like the limit of 1 manual and no auto-saves, and the rearrangement of objects in the mission to make them harder to get to, are things I'd rather not have when playing Hitman. I'd love to be able to turn some of these options on and leave others disabled.

After playing Dishonored 2 on my own custom difficulty with enemies who are easy to sneak around, but deadly and tenacious once alerted, it's hard to not see how other games, especially these kinds of "immersive sims", could benefit from this kind of customization. In one of the recent updates to Dishonored 2, players can change everything from enemy detection rates, how much damage they inflict and how often they attack, to even how much potions heal for. It takes the innate replayability of the game and severly ampli

Monday, March 6, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 11 - Underworld Supervisor

The priming continues as we explore the ramifications of Winnie the Pooh, and then travel to the depths of the underworld.


Even during my first playthrough of Kingdom Hearts 2, despite how cool Auron is, I was checked out for most of the story parts of Olympus Colosseum. Frankly, I just didn't care.

It's also hard to get invested in the plot when the characters make decisions that I can only describe as nonsensical. As I said in the episode, when Sora volunteers to help Meg by going to speak with Hades, how did he think that was going to go down? Hades was the villain for this world in the previous game, and Sora should know he'd be up to no good. It just seems kinda pointless.

Nothing that went on here seemed to really matter, even to my younger self. Little did I know, right?

Friday, March 3, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 10 - You Missed A Chest!

Welcome to the Beast's Castle, home of old friends and missed treasure chests.



In lieu of making any meaningful commentary on Beast's Castle, I'm going to instead talk about a problem I have with RPGs.

Many times in an RPGs, players will see treasure chests in the level while watching cutscenes. This is good because it gives them something to pay attention to while the characters are busy talking about things not relevant to the main plot.

On the other hand, if the scene changes or they end up behind a point of no return, then it feels like the game is teasing them about the chest they missed.

Remember the player's feelings when placing chests in your game.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Heart 2 - Episode 9 - Objectively Better

We finish Mulan's world and go back to faffing about for a bit.



Not much to say. Frankly, any criticism we could levy towards this section would only be criticism of the original movie.

Next time, other worlds!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Hitman (2016) - Episode 41 - Rube Goldberg's Revenge

Welcome once more to sunny Sapienza, where we take on Landslide.


The more I play both these Bonus Episodes and Elusive Targets, the more impressed I am with how effortlessly IO Interactive re-contextualizes the same maps from the story missions in ways that still feel fresh, new, and interesting. Even though I played the Sapienza map countless times since it's initial release in Episode 2, Landslide adds enough new/remixed content that it feels almost like a new map.

Out of all the bonus episodes, I'd say this one is easily my favorite of them. The target for Landslide speaks to me in a "I want to murder you so badly" kind of way that the targets in the Summer Bonus Episodes just didn't. I almost felt bad for those sad saps, but the mafioso deserves no sympathy.

It also feels like this bonus episode comes with many more interesting opportunities than the other two. Not only is Priest 47 just a delight to see, but there are many more hilarious and/or karmic opportunities just in the plaza (and even more if players take the time to explore the town).

Episodes like these make me all the more excited to see what can be cooked up once it's time to release the second season of Hitman.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Heart 2 - Episode 8 - Your Army Sucks!

We start the Disney worlds... and the parts not really relevant to the primer.



First things first, I said that Eddie Murphy did the voice of Mushu here. That was completely wrong. It's a soundalike.

Sam and I have talked for a very long time about how we're going to tackle these Disney worlds. In a series where our goal is to comment on and explain the main story of Kingdom Hearts, these Disney worlds, especially in Kingdom Hearts 2, are mostly filler.

I'm also really annoyed that the world scenarios are, more often than not, straight up rehashes of the movies they are "inspired" by. The only real difference is that Sora, Donald, and Goofy are added to it in ways that read like bad fan-fiction.

Bottom line, these worlds just weren't fun to comment on, and not much happens that pertains to the main story.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 7 - KH and the Sunken Cost Fallacy

Finally, we have arrived at the game proper.



I must say, as someone who has played this game countless times, I really appreciate the scenes they added in the Organization XIII chambers for Final Mix.

In the original release, most of the Organization members hardly get any screen time before Sora starts to slaughter them one-by-one. While this is still true even with these scenes, they help to introduce players to these characters so that there's something resembling a buildup to the boss fights against them.

It's not much, but it's a needed addition that goes a slight way towards establishing our villians.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hitman (2016) - Episode 40 - Getting Outside Help

It's too dangerous to go it alone...


Outside of the complications I had in finding the location of the thumb drive, there's no much to this target. Honestly, I might have even been able to get Silent Assassin if I had been more careful in walking out without getting spotted by the staff manager.

The worst part of this mission is that I didn't really have any way (that I know of) to find the thumb drive aside from brute force. It was essentially a game of guess-and-check until I lucked out with the correct room.

Kinda boring, otherwise. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 6 - The Boy Who Cries Inside Me

Roxas's last day of summer vacation has come and gone, so now we go some tutorial bits with Sora. :)



It makes sense that we would have some sort of introductory sequence for Sora since there's a change in protagonists. That said, since we already had a 3 hour long intro as Roxas prior to that, as a player I can't help but feel frustrated at how long it takes for the game to get moving.

The strange thing about video games is that their interactivity gives players a higher tolerance for this amount of front-loading, since it can be broken up through gameplay segments, and players aren't likely to go through it all in one session.

But at the same time, the fact that players do wish to play and interact with the game, instead of watching a bunch of cutscenes, means that it is often smarter to get right into the action. This is largely why In-Medias-Res is such a popular plot device for video games.

That's why I have such mixed opinions about how long this intro sequence is b/t Roxas and Sora combined. I can appreciate how important it is to perform setup for the story and plot of the game. Even when that's considered, this process takes entirely too long, and could have easily been abridged in numerous ways.

It's not the intro that's the problem, it's the aggressive length of it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Hitman (2016) - Episode 39 - Doing A Murder

Today, we look for a deceptively simple solution to the problem of The Blackmailer.



This was a lesson in how to be more effectively experiment with NPC routines without openly exposing yourself to unnecessary danger when performing Elusive Targets. Even with the single attempt, it is important to do some basic scouting to figure out where the target is at their most vulnerable.

That said, since player death means that a contract is failed, a little more creativity is required when looking around. I pulled my gun out a couple of times not because I wanted to shoot anyone, but just to see who would detect suspicious activity. If the vision cones start appear when my gun is in my hand, then I know that it's not safe to take out the target where I'm standing.

Though certainly an easier target than average, this one required some thought. It's easier than it seems to break his routine and isolate him. Spacial awareness is, and always has been, king in Hitman. Knowing the map is the key to succeeding, no matter who the target is.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 5 - ROXAS SMASH!

Five episodes in, and we're finally finished the intro to the game. Good thing we aren't playing, or that might have been another five or so episodes.



I've said it before, but I really feel that a lot of the anger people have for Roxas has much more to do with the overly long intro than anything about his character. As much as the character needs this kind of introduction, there's no denying that most people playing Kingdom Hearts 2 were starting to get annoyed by the time the dual keyblade boss fight with Axel came around.

It's such a shame because he is one of the most interesting characters in the series. The Nobodies in general pose interesting philosophical questions about what it means to be a part of a person, divorced from the whole. If that half were to develop it's own personality and feelings, essentially it's own self, would they want to merge back into who they once were, or would they want to be their own person.

Roxas is the body and soul that Sora left behind when he became a heartless. But unlike other nobodies who yearn to be whole, Roxas has no interest in going back with Sora. He hates that his very existence is fundamentally tied to someone else. There's a lot of good sources for drama there, and they aren't capitalized on as much as I would like.

That said, this is a topic better discussed in 358 Days/2, so I'll table this discussion for now.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 4 - Rivals With Destiny

We question our life choices while Roxas investigates the seven wonders of... oh thank god.



Not much to say here as most of this episode consists of filler, nonsense, or retreading old ground.

Still, we made some bad jokes in the meantime. That's almost worth it. :)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 3 - The Belt That Strangles Nomura's Head

Today, we watch teenage children beat the stuffing out of each other in a legally sanctioned blood sport.



We erroneously say it's been two years since the events of Kingdom Hearts 1. This is a lie, it has actually been 1 year in Kingdom Hearts time.

Aside from that, we spend most of this episode talking about the Struggle, and trying to get Sam up to speed on the many Ansem's of Kingdom Hearts. To recap:
  • There's the original Ansem: Ansem the Wise. This man was the person who ruled Hallow Bastion with benevolence.
  • He took an apprentice, who would betray him and take his name, becoming the heartless known as "Ansem, Seeker of Darkness" that Sora fought in Kingdom Hearts 1.
  • When "Ansem, Seeker of Darkness" became a heartless, he left behind a nobody, who would take the name Xemnas.
Confused yet? Don't worry, that's normal.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 2 - Eyes Can't Lie

I don't have the budget to render an introductory paragraph.



One of the fun things about doing this Primer series with Sam is that even when I'm telling the complete truth about what's going on or the reasoning behind some character's actions, the answers can often be so outlandish that he still won't believe me.

This primer series is definitely intended to help people understand what's going on in Kingdom Hearts. That said, it's also been great for me because doing it with Sam has been a great way to uncover a lot of the common hangups, expected and unexpected, that make it difficult to parse through.

I still firmly believe that the overall plot is pretty basic, but a terrible job was done in presenting that plot. The confusion comes more from presentation and mistranslation than anything else.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 1 - Blood Sport

This is the big one, ladies and gentleman. For most of you out there, this is where Kingdom Hearts jumped the shark. Fortunately for you, Sam and I are here to explain the plot, make some bad jokes, and occasionally let a good joke or two slip into the mix.



It's really tough to go through this tutorial/intro segment of Kingdom Hearts 2. As I said in the primer, for the story Square Enix wanted to tell with this game, it was necessary to introduce Roxas in a low-impact, mundane way, and do it early. That said, this is, was, and has always been a really rough segment of game to go through.

Not because it's particularly difficult. It's the tutorial, and generally pretty easy. However, it's 3 hours long and unless you know what's going on in the lore through outside sources, not much here will make any degree of sense to you.

It's disorienting, and I understand that it's intended to be. But for people who just wanted to play as Sora again, the anger they must have felt makes sense.

A shame really, because Roxas is easily one of my favorite characters in the series once we get into who he is and what motivates him.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Trailer

It's that time again. Once again, Sam and I are delving back into Kingdom Hearts to help solve the mysteries within.



This is going to be the big one, taking up most of the run-time for the Primer series. At the same time, now that a lot of the big ideas and concepts are out there for discussion, this is where Sam and I can also truly begin to start hacking away at what most confuses most people about Kingdom Hearts.

I hope you guys enjoy what you are about to experience. :)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hitman (2016) - Episode 38 - We Are The Watch_Dawgs

Another day, another Elusive Target. This time: The Chameleon.



This is another video where, like The Chameleon, I had the right general idea, but didn't execute correctly because I had lacked situational awareness.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Hitman (2016) - Episode 37 - A Critical Eye

Let us talk about Elusive Targets, the internet, and Hitman as we take on The Food Critic.


I spoke in the episode of The Guru about how the Modern Lethal Syringe isn't the completely worthless item that I originally thought it was, but only outside of story missions. It is a silent weapon, so no noise will be generated when the player uses it. It's faster than choking someone out and snapping their neck. Furthermore, poison kills are treated as accident kills, if the body is discovered later, it will not count as a body being discovered for the purpose of calculating the final score. This makes it possible to get Silent Assassin without having to worry about hiding the body.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hitman (2016) - Episode 36 - Remember the Evidence

I was so *close*...



What kills me most about this target is that I very clearly had the Silent Assassin solution thought out, but I just missed a few details.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

#110: The Disappointments of 2016

As I said in my highlight reel of 2016, this has been one of the best years in gaming in quite a long time. That said, no year is free from games that didn’t live up, and this is no exception.


The same rules as last year apply. Just because a game made this list, doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily bad. All it means is that when I played it, it had significant problems that really hampered my enjoyment of the overall experience.


So without further ado, my disappointments of 2016 are…

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hitman (2016) - Episode 35 - Happy Holideaths

I know it's late, but now's still an excellent time to celebrate the season of hitting, with Hitmas!



One of the things I love about Hitman, and its the same reason a mission like this can exist, is that it really doesn't take itself seriously. And because of that, it's completely willing and able to play around and poke fun at both itself and others.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Hitman (2016) - Episode 34 - Out of Touch and Time

And now, we finally kill a sweet old lady!



I admit, when I looked up the solution to see what I was missing, I kicked myself for not realizing that the soldiers would move on their own if the player just let's them talk. This is something that I probably would have known if I watched/played more Marrakesh play. I've never cared much for this map, so I don't know as much about it as I do the others.

As I mention in the video, it's very often that getting Silent Assassin has almost nothing to do with the player's ability to execute their plan. Usually, the steps to get a Silent Assassin rating are pretty easy to perform. The tricky part is usually in figuring out what exactly the solution *is*. It's often very deceptively simple.

If I had stuck to my original plan, this contract would probably been over in a single episode. I saw the differences between the normal map and the variant for the target. At the time, I even knew about the pipe, and how to use it as a way to sneak up to the roof silently. The only thing I didn't realize was that letting those two guards talk would give me the opening I needed. And that comes strictly down to map knowledge.

There's always a way. You just have to find it.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

#109: The Highlights of 2016

If you talked to a bunch of random strangers on the street today, they’d probably tell you that 2016 hasn’t been a great year. There are all sorts of reasons why that might be, but gaming isn’t one of them.


No matter how crappy everything else was, 2016 has been a fantastic year in gaming. So many great and wonderful games game came out this year that we gamers were drowning in really good experiences throughout.


As usual, this is a list of games that I present in no particular order (it’s decided by a random number generator). And just because a game doesn’t appear on this list does not mean that it is a bad game. All it means is that either I didn’t play it, or it didn’t leave a strong impression on me.


With that said, my highlights of 2016 are:

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Hitman (2016) - Episode 33 - Old Lady Spy Novels

Today, we lay the groundwork to kill a harmless old lady.



The more I play these Elusive Targets, the more I realize something I'm not sure I like. They do a great job and being the closest thing one can get to being a Hitman. There's no denying the thrill that comes from making your attempt and knowing that if you screw up, it's over. I won't deny that in the slightest, and I overall enjoy my time attempting them, success or failure.

That said, the large opportunity cost for failure, where you can no longer attempt the target if you die, and cannot restart once objectives are completed, discourage players from playing the game in the way that is the most fun.

I have a problem I spoke of earlier in stealth games, where I restart the moment I am detected and try again. I'm trying to break myself of that habit for a good reason. A lot of the fun of playing Hitman comes from letting a mistake occur and just rolling with it. The game's systems encourage players to improvise and figure out how to take a bad situation and salvage it so that they can still kill their target.

The Elusive Targets, as brilliant as they are, severely discourage this kind of play. When the player is detected during an Elusive Target, they have every incentive to immediately restart and make a fresh attempt. You see this occur several times in this episode alone, and it's partly because the high risk discourages any form of risk-taking. The fact that bonuses are awarded for Silent Assassin kills during Elusive Targets further disincentives it, because you cannot even be detected when going for that ranking.

I'm not sure how you solve that problem either, because the draw of an Elusive Target is that it's such a high risk environment. At the same time, this high risk prevents Hitman from being the tense and exciting game of improvised murder that it wants to be at its core.

Tough problem. Worth thinking about.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Hitman (2016) - Episode 32 - Personal Space Invasion

In this episode, The Chef's goose is cooked.



If you're curious about the Elusive Target suit rewards, IO published the below chart regarding how to unlock each one...