The Dark Souls of Super Mario Odyssey

dark souls super mario odyssey
Image courtesy of Reddit

Lessons from Mario Odyssey and Dark Souls

I played a lot of Super Mario Odyssey after its release. I didn’t plan on getting any other games to compete with it until I had done just about everything. I stuck with it for 503 moons.

I had a lot of fun and got a ton of it done, but the darker side of the moon got the best of me. I feel like I beat my head against it every night for nearly a week to no avail. Despite the time I’d put in, I was no match for the last stage of Mario’s Odyssey.

That was months ago now, and other games have come and gone. My wife recently decided to start playing Odyssey and is having a great time getting back into games. She rarely plays them, but Mario Odyssey set its hooks in her. She’s nearly 300 moons in and not letting up. With her playing so much right in front of me, I had to get back into it for another try at the darker side of the moon.

I beat it my third attempt.

I hadn’t even seen the entire level the last time I was playing through. I know I’ve only gotten worse since it’s been months, but the puzzles and elements just made more sense. I remembered trying to do parts in ways that didn’t make sense this time through. After giving up on it months ago, it felt weird to finish the stage with relative ease.

It, like so many other moments in gaming, reminded me of Dark Souls. The first time I beat the original Dark Souls game, I had stayed up until around 4am the night before fighting against the final boss, Gwyn, the Lord of Cinder. I finally relented and headed to bed. I got back to it at around 7:30am and finished him off in a handful more attempts. He is regarded as a rather simple boss over the course of the game, being that he’s basically a burnt out and fading god. I was just too frustrated and tired to read his choreographed attacks and patterns.

I’m not sure what happened with the darker side of the moon, as I was trying it day after day, but I’m sure stubbornness had a role in it. In a segment near the end with those colorful little fuzzball burrbos and pulse beams that shoot out circles of fire, I remember trying to use the pulse beams to clear the burrbos. Going back, it’s really tricky to avoid both, so just taking out the burrbos with my hat made much more sense. I don’t think I even considered that before. Also, I definitely had to look up what those enemies proper names are.

It was interesting to see how much simpler the level looked with a fresh new perspective. There’s a life lesson in here of course, but I think it’s more about playing Dark Souls.

The Witcher 3’s Tribute to Paul Walker

 

paul walker fast and furious gif
Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Illegal Street Racing as Geralt

I’m finally finishing up The Witcher 3, year too late I know, and just participated in an illegal street race that is a subtle nod to the late and great Paul Walker and the Fast and Furious series.

It’s well documented that there is an achievement titled “Fast and Furious” that players can earn by winning all of the horse races throughout the game, but I couldn’t find any record of this other reference to the series, and Paul Walker specifically.

witcher 3 palio paul walker race
Image Courtesy of CP Projekt Red

A Race for Cash, and Respect

The race I’m referring too takes place as part of “The Great Erasmus Vegelbud Memorial Derby” side quest. After you beat every other contestant in the derby, you are crowned champion and subsequently approached my one of Cleaver’s henchman, Cleaver is a dwarf crime boss in the city of Novigrad. Meeting with Cleaver results in him inviting you to compete in an underground and illegal street race through the city of Novigrad. There’s a vague reference here to Fast and Furious being that’s  it’s an “illegal street race” in a fantasy setting, which seems intentional, but it is also still part of the previously mentioned “Memorial” side quest and the race is known as the Palio for no discernable reason. Still pretty thin I know, I didn’t even make the connection yet, I had to replay the section after the race.

The King of Beggars isn’t exactly one of the scantily clad women that kicks off almost every race in Fast and Furious movies, but the line about respect is an obvious allusion to the scene in the original Fast and the Furious movie where Paul Walker’s character makes himself know the street racing kingpin, Dominic Toretto.

“I lose, winner takes my car, clean and clear. But if I win, I take the cash, and I take the respect… To some people that’s more important.”

The Palio is introduced as, “above all, a race of honor,” where, “the winner doesn’t  just win a reward, he earns our respect as well.” Taken altogether, this is a wonderful tribute to the late Paul Walker that seems to have been completely overlooked by most fans. Given that I’m a huge fan of the Fast and Furious and now the Witcher games, it was still pretty subtle overall.

But that’s not all! The icing on the cake is that after the races conclusion, there’s a humorous nod to the police chase following the race in the movie, except it’s a dwarf shouting, “temple guard, scatter,” rather than a street racer yelling, “we’ve got cops, cops, cops, go!” over a mic.

Someone at CD Projekt Red is obviously a fan alongside me, and that only makes me love the experience that is the Witcher 3 even more.

 

The Pro Controller Got Me Into Splatoon 2

spaltoon 2 nintento switch pro controller 1

I pre-ordered Splatoon 2 given the great things I’d heard about the original game. Like so many, I never had a Wii U and missed out on it. I was into it for a bit. I played through the first few SplatFests and had a great time. It was nice to have a competitive “shooter” experience on my new console. I didn’t stick with it for long though. There was a ton coming out on the Switch and there was something that wasn’t hooking me into Splatoon.

It was the joy-cons.

Continue reading “The Pro Controller Got Me Into Splatoon 2”

Tom Nook Already Swindled Me in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Animal Crossing pocket camp game fun with fruit goldie

I was excited to download Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp when I was notified of its release on the Google Play Store yesterday. I’ve played a little each morning and it hits on everything I want out an Animal Crossing experience. A phone game seems perfect for this Nintendo franchise, far above their Mario implementation. It’s a breath of fresh air to be customizing my campsite, making friends, and visiting others campsites without a care in the world in 2017. That was, until Tom Nook reached right into my bell’s pouch when I wasn’t paying attention… Continue reading “Tom Nook Already Swindled Me in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp”

Jotun – Catch Up Gaming

Jotun video game art 1
The first of many epic views of the world in Jotun

Jotun is a Gorgeous Exploration of Norse Legend

Jotun was announced and then later released in 2015 by Thunder Lotus Games, I only recently got around to pulling it from my backlog. I got the Valhalla Edition on Steam and played through it in time for its second anniversary. As you can see from the image above, Jotun’s most distinct feature is a beautiful, hand drawn art style. The game also features a wonderful balance of rich storytelling and challenging battles. Continue reading “Jotun – Catch Up Gaming”

My Journey to Get a Nintendo Switch

nintendo switch launch zelda

How I Managed to Get a New Nintendo

I felt pretty stupid trying as hard as I did to get a Nintendo Switch, that in and of itself says something about the new console and the company behind it.

My anticipation about Nintendo’s new console grew as it’s March 3rd release approached. Unfortunately, I was not stoked enough about the console to pre-order it in the few minutes it was available after their February presentation, which soon became an issue. I typically don’t pre-order anything. I’m get excited about new tech, but I’m not an early adopter. I skipped the Wii U though, and my Wii has been neglected for years, so I was excited about Nintendo’s next move.

Continue reading “My Journey to Get a Nintendo Switch”

Resident Evil 7 PC Demo

resident evil 7 pc steam demo graphicsSurvival Horror Returns to Resident Evil

Resident Evil 7’s demo finally reached the PC and I was stoked to give it a try. I missed out on the first Resident Evil games when I was young and have always wanted to go. I haven’t made the time yet, but this sequel is geared as a return to the original direction of the series. I jumped into Resident Evil games with RE4, as I’m sure many people did. I had an incredible time playing Resident Evil 4, enough to get me interested in the entire rest of the series. Unfortunately, the brilliance and success of RE4 took the series away from its survival horror roots as the developers focused more and more on the cinematic actions scenes in Resident Evil 5 and 6. Resident Evil 7 is positioned as a reboot of sorts to bring the survival horror element back to Biohazard.

I played through the demo for the first time in a brightly lit room, midday with my dog sitting next to me. Despite the relaxed setting around me, I still had a tense and exhilarating experience playing through the short demo. I never had the pleasure of playing P.T., but it seems that both of these demos share similar inspiration. The demo starts with a short video being played that seems to be from the original “Kitchen” VR demo that eventually turned out to be the release trailer of RE7. Your character then wakes up in a dark room with a flashlight and a single directive appears on the screen, “Get out of the house.”

Incredible Atmosphere and Graphics

The literal first impression of the game is that it’s absolutely gorgeous. I’m not much into maximizing graphics, but my modest Alienware Alpha PC ran the game smoothly and the visuals were incredible to behold. Every surface is insanely detailed in the creepiest way possible. The biggest departure from the series’ history comes in here, the entire game is in first person. This makes the game feel even more immersive, and will make the announced VR version a one of a kind experience, at least in this stage of VR games.

resident evil 7 demo bad ending Interesting Enough for My Wife to Watch

Without going into exactly how I went through the demo, here’s a quick overview. There’s a bunch of things to interact with throughout the environment, and items to find that solve problems around the Baker house. I loved the video tape you find and watch/play through as found footage that both answers questions and brings more to mind. My first playthrough, I went on the most obvious path possible, which resulted in the “bad ending.” Later I got my wife to watch the game, she hates watching me play things, and went on the same directed path. She said she wasn’t that into it, but then I started a new playthrough and did everything completely differently. Using previous knowledge, I found new items that weren’t present on my last game and explored more of the house. I found more items and puzzles to solve. Long story short, she wound up coaching me and suggesting what I should try next, like what item probably solves which puzzle. I got much further into the experience, trying to get anything but the bad ending, and wound up getting killed. I answered some of my questions though, like “what the fuck was that noise”, and brought up new ones. I’ll use that knowledge in my next time in the Baker house.

All in all, I had a great time with the demo, and I got my wife to actually watch me play something, which is always nice. I’m definitely excited for this game. Since I missed the originals, this is my chance to get into the series for the same reasons that the oldest fans of Resident Evil did.

We’ll see how the rest of the game looks, but this is a great start to reinvigorate the series and capitalize on the gap that P.T. opened and abandoned in the market.