The long, long slog to get through the backlog
October 04, 2019

So, in the couple months since my last lazy-man blog entry, I finished a few games and have started others. This is what those are!

To start with one I'm still playing, with Trials Rising, the second DLC expansion came out and I've played a lot of it, but haven't focused enough to get through all the tracks. Due to primarily my persistence (at least my ability to not act like a fucking baby and call the game trash because it doesn't solely cater to my whims -- an issue you can easily get the impression of by going to the Ubisoft Trials Rising forum), I have (or had) reached the Top 5% on the game's leaderboards. Been a bit since I've played it and I was borderline Top 5%, so might be out of that range right now, but there are a few things I can still do to try to solidify that status a bit more. It's not because I'm a great player -- I just persevere and complete all the non-extreme/ninja tracks AND play the DLC, so I have a lot more tracks under my belt than a lot of players who are superior at the actual game than I. On the second DLC, I have two medium tracks I need to improve to a Gold medal, I have two hards to complete and between the main game and this DLC, I have a few Stadium Finals (where you run all three races in a stadium back-to-back-to-back as flawlessly as possible) to still complete. And in November, they're coming out with two 5-track mini-packs I'll probably purchase, as I have enough IAP currency to get one and the other would be $5 or less, I think.

Also on the PS4, I've been playing Witcher III. I really dig this game. Reminds me of taking the Witcher and putting it in a Rockstar-esque open world, with main quests, side quests and lots of points of interest, which give you a mini-quest where you kill a few people or monsters and get a small reward for doing so. I've done the intro area and the main quest stuff in the Velen region and currently am wandering the land to do the more level-appropriate side quests and points of interest. I like the "gambling man" aspect of it where you don't know how doable a point of interest is until you're practically on top of the monsters. I'll be coming up on some monster, find that it's 15 levels higher than me and has a red skull by its name and then be in a panicked run, hoping to get away before it tears me apart. Exploring the land is a lot of fun, with all sorts of little towns, although there aren't many people to actually interact with other than quest-givers and merchants (primarily to sell off stuff, repair equipment and play that damned addictive Gwent game with). Overall, a super-fun game where 5-8 hours can go by really quickly when I'm playing it. Seriously, I have to watch the clock and only start up a session when I know I can devote a few hours.

In Dark Souls II, I find those vestiges of OCD I have really love to rear their head. The weird thing about this, compared to FROM's other Souls-style games, is that there are limited respawns for monsters. Which means that a person can gradually eliminate everything standing between them and an area's boss, if they desired. Do I desire? YOU FUCKING BET!!!! I mean, it doesn't hurt when I can justify my actions by saying that weapons aren't as durable as in the first game, so some elimination is very helpful in ensuring my weapon doesn't break while fighting a boss. Or that death trims off a bit of your Max HP until you use a Human Effigy (limited-number consumable item) to reverse that. I've laid waste to the inhabitants of the first main part of the game (Forest of Fallen Giants, No Man's Wharf, Lost Bastille, Belfry Something and Sinner's Rise) and have been working my way through Huntsman's Copse. Two exits there, it seems. One to Undead Purgatory, which is currently problematic, as there's a tough Red Phantom guarding the entrance and I'm currently 0-3 against him. So, it looks like I'll be going to the other Fog Door.

As a fun side note, I have the Scholar of the First Sin version...on the 360. Which is basically vanilla DS II, but with the DLC included. On the PS4/XBone versions, Scholar of the First Sin re-works the population of each area to usually make things even more difficult, as well as to add a number of NPCs, both enemy phantoms and summons for you. This version has none of that stuff -- just the DLC. As another fun side note: Toughest Part So Far -- Ruin Sentinels. Hands down. Even with the NPC summon, it was hard to keep my head above water against these guys. Most Anti-Climactic Part -- The real fight with Pursuer. After getting butchered by him in that "climb the ladder; SURPRISE!!!!" fight you can have with him, I kind of ignored the actual fog door encounter until I'd done most everything I could do in the first main area. By the time I remembered to fight him, it was a pretty easy fight. By which I mean, I survived even though I'd just been playing Witcher 3 and was struggling to remember the controls, repeatedly hitting the "use item" button (goodbye Lifegems!) when trying to hit him with light attacks. And let me tell you, using healing items when at full health is a waste, and quite humiliating when you're standing right in front of him, allowing him to blast you with his sword while you're standing there like a big goof.

I'm making another attempt at the PS2's God of War. I've made it partway to Trial of Posideon, so I'm farther into the game than I've gotten previously. This is a game with great atmosphere and great graphics and sound for the time, but I never can shake the "this is overrated" vibe. Things start out really fun through the boat and Athens levels, but when you get to Pandora's Temple, things just seem to get a bit annoying with the puzzles and timed events and whatnot. It's a good game, but I just struggle to see the "CLASSIC!" vibe that it seems so many have bestowed upon it.

And I'm making a second attempt at Bonk's Revenge. There I was, going through the first few levels and having a good time, wondering why I abandoned it my first try and figuring I screwed up something emulation-wise to lose progress. And then I got to the third boss and it all came back to me. The boss is a ballerina on an icy surface that only is vulnerable when it stops in the middle of the screen. You're supposed to jump into its head and spin. If you look on YouTube, you can see a longplay where this is accomplished pretty easily. When I try it, I get hit every single time while also hitting it. Like, I put a freeze state right when it was stopping, so I could try to figure out what I was doing wrong and simply traded hits about a dozen straight times before getting pissed. But then I found that when you lose a life, you start from exactly where you fell, so the key to beating it is to apparently be willing to eat through a couple Bonks and win a war of attrition. Either there's something wrong with the fight or you need super-precise timing and I can't figure it out. Either way, that fight SUCKS. As someone who liked the first game a good deal and think this one is good, too, that one boss is a serious misstep in my opinion.

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