Tag Archives: video games

Super Meat Boy (Xbox 360, PC, Mac, Linux, PS 4, PS Vita, Wii U, Android, and there’s probably some sort of conversion for the Gameboy Advance or some shit, seriously, this game is everywhere.)


Alright, here’s what you need to know about Super Meat Boy. The Super Meat Boy is a terrific athlete, everyone loves the him. He loves Bandage Girl and they got a good thing going on. Dr. Fetus is fetus in a jar in control of a person suit and a jerk, so he…


…beats the tar out of Bandage Girl…

…and whisks her away to the improbably large number of properties that he owns. Meat Boy gives chase, but whenever he’s about to rescue her, Dr. Fetus takes her to another location. Locations such as, the nearby woods, a salt factory, and literal hell. Meat Boy is fast and made out of meat so he can jump and run, using his parkour powers to navigate increasingly bizarre and treacherous terrain.


Super Meat Boy and it’s development team, Team Meat, spearheaded by Edmund McMillen have a colorful history. McMillen often drew monsters and strange things as a boy and started publishing Flash Games on sites like Newgrounds in 2001. Games such as Dead Baby Dressup, 12 Dead Baby Uses, WWF Baby Dressup, and Clubby the Seal. McMillen’s first commercial release was Gish, in which the player controls a sentient ball of tar trying to rescue his girflriend. Meat Boy was released in 2008 made in Flash and it was quite popular, netting millions of views across the sites hosting it.


McMillen here sporting his meatiest Garb.

Microsoft and Nintendo approached him about making an expanded game for XBLA and WiiWare. McMillen formed Team Meat with Tommy Refenes to code stuff, Danny Baranowsky to do the music, and Jordan Fehr to make the various metallic and meaty noises. Development started in January of 2009 and in August of 2010 McMillen got word from Microsoft that they wanted the game released in two months for a promotion they wanted to start — even though they would fail to promote the game at pivotal moments. Which prompted McMillen and Refenes to design and code as if their game depended on it — because it did. But the game did get released on schedule to plumb and great fanfare.

Super Meat Boy was released on October 20th, 2010. It’s competition was Fallout: New Vegas (PC, XBox 360, and PS3), Dragon Age Origins: Ultimate Edition (PC, PS3, XBox 360), and Fable III (XBox 360).

Fun Fact: PETA protested the game with the release of Super Tofu Boy. Edmund decided to include an easter egg based on this. If the player types ‘petaphyle’ at the title screen they will unlock Super Tofu Boy, a character so slow and with a jump so low it’s literally impossible for him to complete most stages.


I’m not sure how long the leaderboards stay up or if they ever get cleared. Point being I completed a stage so fast that I held the fastest time. It’s an early stage, so it’s not like I’m  master of the game or anything, but I still felt really stoked. The leaderboards are also split between different characters so it’s possible to be the best at your favorite character if Meat Boy isn’t your bag.


Super Meat Boy is a platformer with the sensibilities of Hotline Miami. You’re gonna die a LOT. Pits, sawblades, other meat, cannons, salt, and syringes will all cause Meat Boy to explode in gore and death but he’ll be back in a literal second ready for more. Each world and each level slowly ramps up the difficulty and adds new gimmicks and mechanical elements until it’s a giant mass of fans, conveyor belts, salt streams, cannons, and other things that the player will come to master.

Completing the level is one thing but what’s more important is doing everything in the game — right? Super Meat Boy comes with unlockable characters, collectible bandages, warp zones to alternate stages, dark world counterparts — for those who find the regular levels too easy — , and A+ing every stage by doing it fast. The unlockable characters aren’t just skins, most of them have special and unique abilities which change the way they play, such as Commander Video’s glide or Josef’s propeller head spin. Certain characters are even more effective on certain maps so if you get stuck it might just mean changing up the character you’re playing.


Characters are unlocked in warp zones and by collecting bandages.

The Gush

The game’s fucking hard to complete 100% and I think all the things necessary to do so actually do a better job at dissuading the player from that sort of behavior rather than encouraging it. I got to chapter four, liked the story, had a blast with the game, and played with all the characters I had unlocked but put it away for a few months when it started to get too tough for me. Now I’m back on the horse and I’m having just as much fun as I did in my first run through. The whole while I don’t feel the pressure I usually do to 100% the game because christ, that would just take too much effort.

When you do finish a level the game runs a replay with every failed attempt running at once. This is one of the most cathartic things on the entire planet. Seeing all of your failures in motion as they fall into pits, get chopped up by saws, or fall into piles of needles while the one who matters gets to the goal really made me feel like I had done good.


It’s a Thing of Beauty

If you just couldn’t get enough then have no fear, there’s no such thing as enough. The game has a well constructed level editor and those levels can be found in the bonus world, Teh Internets. It might be possible to literally play this game forever.

The Kvetch

Oh no, ooooooh no, the Social Justice Warrior hat is going onto my head. Curse my love of hats, I can’t bring myself to be rid of a single one. Well, the SJW hat is on so I might as well talk about something that I think is ‘problematic’. The game is a send up the platformers and games of McMillen’s childhood so Bandage Girl is gonna get kidnapped — it was an inevitability in design meeting #1. That’s not so clearly the problem because there’s a game mode where you can play as Bandage Girl rescuing Meat Boy instead, so that’s cool. The problem comes in the sheer number of times Dr. Fetus beats the piss out of her. Whenever Meat Boy completes a stage he gets dragged along to the next as Dr. Fetus pummels her mercilessly and poofs them away. It’s just a framing device but maybe not every animation had to be a ‘comedic’ beating. The problem is that the beatings are all game references that seem like their meant to be played for laughs.


Look away Meat Boy! Look away from the horrid violence against (presumable) females.

Some of the warp zone levels are just leagues more difficult than the world their in. I understand that they’re sort of bonus content but sometimes a warp zone is just too hot for me to handle. It’s a difficulty spike so large that it’s more dissuading than anything. It’s probably just because games of the past have hard-wired that bonus levels are cool fun things.


This cool thing should not inspire dread like it does for me.

The boss fights are a little meh. It’s tricky business making a boss fight out of a platformer, especially when Meat Boy has no attack. They’re all basically all forced platforming challenges and they’re all pretty good. But they don’t scratch that boss itch like an enemy from another game might.

I’m quite the prude and this game has got a lot of toilet humor. Literally, one of the bosses is a pile of Dr. Fetus’ fecal matter that Dr. Fetus has somehow given sentience. Needless to say I’m not a big fan of it.

The Verdict

Do I gotta say it? This game is seven years old and its’ a fucking masterpiece… if you like platforming. If the allure of jumping and not getting hit by things never appealed to you then this ‘un is not gonna light that flame. But if you ever longed for the days of Bubsy, hard Mario levels, or the madness induced fury of a Ghouls and Ghosts game then this was made for you. For the slick price of $15 it’s cheap to boot, especially considering all of the content therein.

Next Week: The Witness


Warlocked (Gameboy Color)


In a world of elves, orcs, and high magic humanity is on its last legs as they face off against the hordes of th Orc Chief Zog. You play as either Chief Zog’s forces, ready to wipe the humans out or as Queen Azarel, desperately taking the fight to Zog’s fortress — It’s just about as Warcraftian as you can get — or is that Tolkienian. Gather resources, build buildings, train units, summon mighty wizards, and train a dragon or two in Warlocked.


Warlocked was created by Bits Studio, a development group I was surprised to find had a pretty big catalog of games. Games including the INFAMOUSLY bad Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves for the Nintendo, Last Action Hero (SNES), and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. The Last Action Hero has level timers so short that unless you played as clean as possible you time out and have to restart the level. That’s how bad it is.. I guess a broken clock is still right twice a day.

Warlocked was released on July 24th, 2000. It’s competition was Diablo II (PC), Strider 2 (PS1), and Chrono Cross (PS1).


A handheld RTS game might be the craziest idea that ever popped into a designer’s head. Battery life demands that missions be short and memory limitations must have been a nightmare. Not to mention the Game Boy only had two buttons, A and B. It creates a binary system, you can choose yes or no. And it makes any attempt at finer controls difficult. But on long trips the adventure was actually well appreciated and the before-mission briefings did a good job of presenting an overall story to the game. I can’t believe I’m saying this but when I played through the intro a few days ago I got actual chills.


And then I started laughing uncontrollably at this frame of cloned knights.


Warlocked is basically the simplest version of Warcraft 2 you’ve ever played. Your stronghold trains peasants who chop trees to get fuel, and mine gold mines to get gold. Then they spend those resources on barracks to train elven archers and knights or Orcish grunts and skeleton archers. You move units around and they explore the map through the fog of war in a series of missions, each of which with unique objectives.


Complete with idyllic forests and peasants with sacks of gold.

Things begin to differ on the magical side of things. Some wizards are shared between the factions while others are faction exclusive. Each wizard is vulnerable to physical attack but can cast valuable and deadly spells with the proper support to keep them alive. Wizards such as Stealthwiz, who can render any unit invisible until they attack a unit — great for resource gathering peasants who never attack. A player can only have two wizards active at a time so they need to choose them wisely.


Chief Zog and Queen Azarel can take to the field themselves as well.

The game also has a multiplayer mode which requires a link cable between two Gameboys. It seems like Bit Games put a lot of effort into the maps and multiplayer systems. Which is a shame because I sincerely doubt two human beings ever actually played this game against each other.

The Gush

DRAGONS! If you find a dragon egg in your travels then it will be taken back to your stronghold for safe keeping. In a few minutes it will hatch into a majestic dragon-thing which will utterly destroy your enemies. It can fly over most obstacles and, though vulnerable to arrow fire, can take a lot of punishment.

The music is actually shockingly good, especially for the Gameboy’s limited sound card. Some songs aren’t great but the main theme was pretty striking.

When you’ve finished both campaigns there’s still a lot of game left to play… well sort of. There’s a video poker mode to the game where you can bet your gold and try to win big. You can then use this gold in the multiplayer in some way I never figured out because I never met another human being with this game. Oh yeah, and slider puzzles.

The Kvetch

RTS games were made for the keyboard and mouse. Starcraft 64 taught us that messing with this established control scheme is tricky business. Selecting units, ordering units, and choosing which building to construct becomes this sort of cumbersome mess. Worse yet, melee units become nearly useless because it’s so difficult to maneuver them in combat.


And sometimes it’s vitally important to attack enemies en masse.

Like most RTS games the units have barks when selected and dispatched but the Gameboy’s hardware can’t really support that. Instead what we get is a bit-crushed mess that’s nearly impossible to understand. It serves more as hindrance and noise rather than interesting flavor.

Like Netstorm’s The Noose, I got totally stuck in the middle of Zog’s campaign — strangely enough, I was able to play through Azarel’s campaign without much issue. The mission is a pitched battle in which you’re given control of the mighty Plaguewiz who can infect enemies with Blobby Pox which causes them to explode and infect nearby units… not enemies, any unit. The clunky controls make it nearly impossible to keep your men out of the blast radius. And because Plaguewiz is quite fragile — he’s wracked with pneumonia and basically everything after all — he needs a constant escort. This all wouldn’t be so bad but the mission stipulations means there’s no base or reinforcements.


No no no, not Toxicwiz. They’re totally different.

The Verdict

If you ever wanted to play Warcraft II on the go and live in the year 2000 then this game is a great deal. If not then… I don’t really know why someone would play it. This was sort of supposed to be a trip down memory lane for me and the more I played it the more I felt like it was just sort of obsolete. It used to be a gem, but it’s such a product of its time that it’s sort of a relic now. Make no mistake, if you happen to have this game or find it in the five dollar bin of your local game shop it’s definitely worth a purchase. But in terms of Gameboy games it’s almost as fun as Tetris. And as we all know Tetris was the best thing that happened to the Gameboy since… well… Tetris.

Next Week: Unholy Heights

The Guild of Dungeoneering (PC and Mac)


The Ivory League has sat on its high horse for too long, raking in gold hand over fist and parading their heroes about. It’s enough to make an intrepid entrepreneur gag. Meanwhile the Guild of Dungeoneering has fallen on hard times but that could be an opportunity of sorts. You elect to buy the Guild on the cheap and build your own adventuring society to save the day… and make enough gold to fill an olympic sized pool with — gotta have priorities. Chumps, Mathemagicians, and Mimes show up daily to adventure — and almost certainly die — in service to the Guild of Dungeoneering.


Not a lot here today. Guild of Dungeoneering was made by the five man team what calls themselves Gambrinous and was released on July 14th, 2015.

It’s competition was Godzilla: The Game (PS4 and PS3), Five Nights at Freddies 4 (PC), and Way of the Samurai 4 (PC).


I gotta throw another big shout out there for youtuber Kikoskia, without whom I probably would never had heard about this game. That out of the way I’m gonna use this section to complain about my lack of deep experiences. Darkest Dungeon is a similar game with much darker overtones that I’ve spoken about before. The reason I bring it up is because Darkest Dungeon made me feel really attached to adventurers going into unknown depths to get their shit rocked. Guild of Dungeoneering did not. All of the adventurers in the Guild have individual character based on their class but every chump is the same as the last. Ah well, means I don’t feel as bad when they get horrifically petrified by a beholder.


Guild of Dungeoneering is not the typical dungeon delving game. Unlike most games the player does not have control over the adventurer. Instead the player builds the dungeon, places monsters, and treasure in an attempt to guide or goad the adventurers around. Every quest has a goal such as defeating a certain number of enemies or a boss. Some have limits like a set number of turns before the adventurer dies. In others the boss is chasing the adventurer down in a bid to destroy them.

Should your adventurer get too close to a monster they’ll engage in combat. Combat is card based in which both characters execute maneuvers simultaneously. The player chooses from 1 of 3, or more, attacks or maneuvers which deal magic or physical damage or block physical or magic damage. Enemies choose whatever card they’ve got off the top of their deck. The trick is, the player can see it and try to act accordingly. The adventurer gets new attacks and abilities based on the equipment they loot from enemies.


Build the dungeon and try to use your knowledge to take advantage of it.

When you’re not in the dungeon you can tour around the guild. Which basically amounts to building new wings to unlock new adventurers or equipment and checking out the graveyard to behold the great horde of brave people you’ve sent to their untimely demise. And apparently in between adventures your heroes throw all their equipment or spend it on prostitutes or something because they go to every dungeon unarmed and unarmored with just their base abilities.

The Gush

The music in this game is really solid. From the main theme itself to the little ditties the the narrator sings when you win or fail it’s always a joy. The music in the dungeons itself can either strike a moody underground tone or a raucous adventurous one. No matter what, it’s good stuff.

It’s something small but I like how the game looks like a page of graph paper. It really harkens back to the days of making dnd dungeons on grid paper in the back of english class in high school.

Gambrinous is still making content for this game. Having released a pirate themed and ice themed DLC. So there’s a lot of game here… if only there were enough fresh upgrades and classes to keep the systems fresh.

The Kvetch

Because the dungeon tile cards, monster cards, and loot cards you get are all random it sometimes feels more like good luck or bad is more responsible for success or failure instead of player choice. There’s certainly strategy in choosing which equipment is supported by the current class or effective against the monsters in that area. But if those items don’t drop then it feels like failure was a foregone conclusion and that’s just no fun.


Did I lose because I played sloppy? Or because I got trash loot?

The priority system is a pretty compelling system but not involving one. I think it would have been more interesting if different classes had different priorities for treasure, monsters, and unexplored tiles. It would add a layer of complexity that I think it would be a welcome one, and one easily understood i.e. the Bruiser likes monsters more than loot but the Cat Burglar loves loot more than anything etc.

The Verdict

This game is worth a little whirl. It and it’s DLC are modestly priced at $15 for the game and $5 for each of the DLC — and it goes on sale all the time. I got through about three campaigns before it lost my interest and every once and awhile I go back to it. I think I got my money’s worth so if this interests ya’ll then I would say it’s worth the purchase.

Next Week: Warlocked

Total War: Shogun 2 (PC)


The year is 1545 and Japan is gripped in a terrible civil war. The Ashikaga Shogunate –the guys in charge of Japan who generally tell the Emperor what to do — has lost all control over the Daimyo — wealthy land owners who do a lot of killing and not a lot of dying — of the provinces of Japan and now everyone has equal claim to their throne. All they need is sufficient strength of arms. Whether the army consists of peasants armed with spears, devout warrior monks, or the most elite samurai that can me mustered from the realm they’ll fight with all the tact afforded by their honor. Or you could loot, plunder, pillage, and employ enough ninja to choke a horse — you know, you do you.


The Total War series has been developed by Creative Assembly and Shogun 2 is no exception. Shogun: Total War was the first in the Total War series and fans had been eagerly awaiting the series’ return to Feudal Japan after the release of Medieval 2. I wasn’t actually able to find much information about the development but I did find a tidbit or two about the advertising. Those who bought the limited edition of the game received access to the Hattori Clan, which would later be sold as DLC. Whereas those who pre-ordered the game from Best Buy got extra in-game currency for the beginning of a campaign.

Every time I hear something like this I’ve left asking, ‘what fuels this pre-order culture?’ It was available on Steam at release so there’s no lack for copies of the game. Spoilers — it’s a good game and I like it. It didn’t need to offer all this useless junk or cut out extra clans to give the game the illusion of value because it is valuable on its own merits. Now I’m cranky and I feel like the game chopped up content to sell later. Which is never a good sign so… why would they do that? Don’t they know they’re just hurting their bottom line?

Total War: Shogun 2 was released on March 15th 2011. It’s competition was Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy (PSP), Crysis 2 (PC, PS3, XBox 360), and Homefront (PC, PS3, and XBox 360).


I mentioned in my Medieval II review that I love defending a castle and that passion has not died. If anything, Shogun II has brought it out stronger than ever. The castles in Shogun are much more compact instead of being large sprawling cities. Instead of needing siege weapons, towers, and ladders to scale or break down walls and gates any infantry can climb the walls of the castle or try to burn down gates. Shogun also makes it so any unit defending in the inner fortress has infinite morale and will always fight to the death, they know there’s no other way out. But… the AI does act strangely predictably. They always try to climb over the walls instead of burning down the gates. Someone defending a siege can routinely defend against armies 2 or 3 times their size. It creates these intense situations where an impossibly small force can grab victory from the maw of defeat.


Fire, blood, chaos, no time for that! There’s glory to be won!


The Gameplay in Shogun 2 is split between managing towns and armies in the overworld and fighting battles as armies clash. Managing your clan consists of choosing what buildings to construct in which provinces. Larger fortresses allow you to build more supporting buildings like dojo to train more powerful samurai or markets to make extra money and help train your secret police. Speaking of secret police –or metsuke, they, monks, and ninja compose the cast of agents to serve a rock, paper, scissors like espionage system. Metsuke catch ninja, ninja assassinate monks — and anyone else you sic them on, and monks send metsuke into contemplative retreats. Each of them can also have effects on towns and allied armies when stationed with them. They can also effect enemy armies and towns in a myriad of ways. Castles and certain buildings also constrict your food supply and starving people are angry people so don’t build too many huge castles without the farms to support them — gotta throw that out there because most of my early campaigns suffered because I didn’t understand that.

Your playstyle is sure to be influenced by whichever clan you’re playing as, each one comes with their own unique abilities. For instance, the Chosokabe Clan make more money off of farms and produce superior archers, or the Oda Clan who produce superior Ashigaru (Peasant troops, cheap, affordable, bodies on the field). Between these traits and each clan’s starting location, and the inherent randomness of events each campaign ends up being unique.


Or you can choose your clan by the quality and design of their hat. I ain’t gonna judge.

It’s finally time to get on the battlefield and it’s pretty simple. The player is given a tactical view to deploy troops and then they march around engaging in combat and occasionally disobeying orders — some inexperienced troops will charge without orders whereas others will prefer to stand and fight rather than flee. Certain troops are more effective against others so battles come down to having good troop compositions and getting your men where you need them when you need them there.


I’ve already mentioned the extortionate clan DLC packs but I’ll bring it up again. Three clans and over twenty different unit types meant for the main campaign are held to ransom behind a pay wall. I just checked it out, BLOOD IS HELD BEHIND A PAY WALL! Want your samurai to bleed their last miles from home at the behest of a man far from this bloodshed and mayhem? Welp, you’d best be willing to dish out two dollars for it.


This is what you’re $1.59 gets you, and shame, mostly shame.

Not all the DLC is bad actually. The game comes with two different campaigns, the Rise of the Samurai and the Fall of the Samurai. Each of these campaigns actually completely revamps the entire campaign with different units, goals, and tactics. The Fall of the Samurai even has a different map and has a modernization mechanics to determine how much of the old ways you’ve left behind. That being said, Fall of the Samurai is thirty goddam dollars but blissfully does not require the original game to play — it’s standaloneness has got to count for something… what it counts for I have no idea.

The Gush

NINJA ASSASSINATION CUT-SCENES ARE BACK! One of the best parts of the original Shogun returns with fanfare. Whenever you send one of your shadow warriors to dispatch an enemy commander or agent you’re treated to a mix and match series of scenes showing how your agent sneaks into the enemy midst, dispatches their enemy — or fails miserably, and how they make their daring escape — or fails miserably.


They can really strike from anywhere.

The incidental dialogue from each of the characters is in japanese. It’s small but it’s certainly better than the voices from medieval and their insensitive accents.

The mod library for this game is incredibly verbose. If it’s not in the game there’s a mod to put it in. If there’s a problem there’s probably a mod to fix it.

It’s something small but your generals can gain retainers and each one offers small bonuses to various stats like unit morale or general loyalty. Included in the pool of retainers is the Seven Samurai themselves, you know from that movie…


No, not that one.


Nope, still not right.


THERE WE GO! That’s the bunny.

The Kvetch

The land divide is one of the most frustrating mechanics implemented into the game. Once your clan becomes renown enough the other clans will realize you’re a problem and send everything they’ve got at you. Ignoring war with each other, you become the universal enemy of all Japan. And there’s no clear indication that this will happen and once it begins there’s no undoing it. It’s this bizarre point of no return and if you’re not ready for it, the results can be disastrous.

The research system is actually quite interesting but it suffers from one gigantic problem. It takes too damn long. Even if you go full bore for one of the highest level research topics you will never finish it before you’ve completed the campaign. Even in the long campaign. Even on total domination campaign. You can construct buildings like temples and castles to improve research speed but it barely puts a dent in these research times. And some whole units and buildings are locked off behind these research trees so it’s impossible to play with all the toys in a single campaign.


Each wing takes about 70 turns and that’s for each category. It’s madness.

Naval combat is fucking wizardry. It takes long enough for infantry to change their flank directions or take cover behind a castle wall but the ships move ponderously even by that comparison. I was also never able to figure out how boarding works. The whole thing baffled me so utterly so I ended up employing the auto-calculate function for all naval combats.

Cavalry really seems to get the short end of the stick. The basic unit is a spearman so most armies are composed with the innate ability to defeat cavalry. How far cavalry has fallen since the days of Medieval. Strangely enough cavalry is generally best at defeating more expensive more well put together armies made up of archers and swordsmen. But most armies either have spearmen or naginata wielding samurai so I’m not exactly sure what to do with them. They’re also more expensive to boot so I generally feel like I’m wasting my time hiring these guys.

The Verdict

I know the kvetch is super long but I actually love this game. It’s a super solid Sengoku Jidai based world tactics game. It does a lot to spice up its content between different clans and game styles. The DLC is pretty punitive at full price but it goes on sale often — not that it excuses the badness. The base game goes for $30 and $50 if you want all the DLC, not including the Fall of the Samurai campaign. I would catch it on sale if it sounds interesting.

Next Week: The Guild of Dungeoneering.

Wild Arms 2: Second Ignition (PS1)


Our tale takes place in the planet of Filgaia. A tumultuous world which faces planetary disaster on a disturbingly regular basis. One such disaster, dealt with mere generations ago, was the Blaze of Disaster. A rampaging demon who was thwarted by Anastasia Valeria and the magical blade Argetlahm. Her descendant, Irving Vold Valeria, senses another disaster on the horizon and has a deep desire to fulfill his lineage. To accomplish this –and save the world but that’s sort of secondary — he reinstates the ARMS program. A crack team of operatives able to respond to threats all over the globe. The team he means to create is composed of Ashley Winchester, a member of the Kingdom of Meridia’s elite military unit. Lilka Eleniak, a very promising sorceress. And Brad Evans, the Prisoner in Cell #666, a former lieutenant in the Slayheim Liberation Army.


Alright, here’s what I know about Wild Arms and the Wild Arms series. It was developed by Media Vision in a joint effort with Contrail, drew influence from a lot of westerns, and was released on April 30th, 2000. You might know Media Vision as the people who made Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth.

Other than that, I’ve got nothing so onto the competition, which was: The Misadventures of Tron Bonne (PS1), Perfect Dark (N64), and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (N64).


Wild Arms 2 is an insanely long game and having tasted the snow on its peak it pains me to say that I’ll probably never finish it. I was at the point I was completing side-quests and exploring before I went into the final dungeon — this is the age before I had the internet, no guides if there’s something I had to find it myself. Then my PS2 died. I went in on a PS3 with the expectation that it would be backwards compatible as the jump from the PS1 to the PS2 had been. I was sorely disappointed insofar that some games suffered quality loss like The Bard’s Tale and others like Kingdom Hearts RE: Chain of Memories were completely unplayable. Bear in mind, our PS3 was the most backwards compatible. Point being, there was no way to transfer the save and I wasn’t about to put another 40+ hours into the game just to replay it. So it’s probably going to end up being the best game I never beat.


Wild Arms 2 is a turn based RPG with puzzle elements in its dungeons. As your characters roam Filgaia they’ll find tools which they can use on objects to solve puzzles to gain access to additional loot or forward passage. The game also wants the player to treat it kind of like an anime complete with a special introduction whenever they load a save and an ending sequence whenever they use the in-game quit.

The combat system is tricked out with a plethora of toys and techniques to play with.  To begin, the MP system is unique. Instead of MP character’s have FP ranging from 1-100 which increases as they deal and take damage — guarding increases FP gain despite decreasing damage so this is one of the first RPGs n which guarding served a purpose. Higher FP grants characters access to their special weapons, spells, and abilities. Spells and arms don’t consume FP but abilities do. BUT using special weapons, spell, and abilities does not give the character FP. So, you can dish out some damage now, or save up for a more powerful ability later. Ashley’s got his high accuracy, higher damage than his regular attack guns and –spoilers– has the ability to turn into a demon. Brad has incredibly high damage explosive ordinance which suffers from a lower accuracy. And Lilka can take advantage of enemy elemental weaknesses and heal herself with her spells.

In addition to these combat options every level confers an ability point which can be spent on special abilities. Such as regaining health when the character regains FP, turning guarding into a method to actually regenerate health. Or giving a character the ability to counter attack when attacked. Even rendering a character immune to certain status ailments. Speaking of status ailments…


The counterattack ability combos quite nicely with the FP into Health ability.

Status Ailments in this game are more unique than any other game I’ve seen. Such as Disease which prevents all healing or Nightmare which acts like both poison and sleep. Or Forgetfullness which prevents XP gain. Also, a character can have multiple status ailments at once so if someone’s paralyzed and suffering from a nightmare things are going to get dangerous fast. They’re annoying but they change gameplay in a way other game’s status ailments don’t. If you don’t have the item necessary to heal a status ailment then you can cure them by reaching 100 FP and achieving what the game calls Code Green — and gaining access to the characters most powerful ability.

The Gush

The music in this game is phenomenal. They pushed the PS1’s sound card to its limits. Each character gets their own theme and almost every scene is punctuated with music appropriate to its mood.

Every boss fight starts the sillouette of the creature posing and the camera movements making it appear as if it’s slinking around. Culminating in a splash screen of the monster’s name  and a descriptive phrase e.g. Poison Armored Dragonoid, Trask. It really gets me pumped to fight the terrible beast.


Disabling boss’ limbs stop special moves and reward the player with more XP.

Brad Evans is every 14 year old DBZ fan’s epitome of badassery. The only reason he joins the party is because Irving has the detonator to a bomb in his throat. His weapon is a giant glove that he uses to crush his enemies and beat them to death. He has a streak of white hair to perfectly accentuate that he’s getting too old for this shit. And to top it all off, he’s gay. When he reunites with his former partner his lover is in a PTSD induced madness coma. And all of his other friends are dead because the Slayheim Liberation Army’s operations ended in a terrible disaster… that got a little too real. Because Brad is too real.

The world of Filgaia exists in this bizarre state. It’s got ancient lost but advanced technology — with more being discovered all the time. Legitimately new technological advances are being made in the world as well. But its very much split between the haves and have nots. All this coexists with a a magical city deep underground where people are taught to be wizards. It’s bizarre, makes no sense, but is an interesting world to explore.

The story is actually quite compelling. It does a great job of presenting escalating threats that culminate into fantastic crescendos of pain and bloodshed. Each character also gets a stunning amount of development from learning about Brad’s troubled past to Ashley’s journey to discover what a hero is.

Secrets! There are secret dungeons, secret summons, secret characters, secret items in dungeons and on the overworld, TRADING CARDS, and more bizarre and hidden shenanigans so keep your eyes open and explore all the hidden nooks and cranies Filgaia has to offer.

The Kvetch

The translation in this game is laughably bad. The dialogue that falls out of characters’ mouths turns quickly into cryptic and absurd mumbo jumbo. Ability names include Hot Fencer and Gat lv 1-4 which is short for gatling which is mean to  imply that the character unleashes a series of blows — how is that hard to get? One of my favorite bad lines is, ‘A broken clock begins to move to some rhythm.’ And this sort of thing happens everywhere, moments are made and destroyed by the quality and lack thereof of this translation.


Although sometimes it’s on point, though out of context.

I have no idea how the character stats work or what they mean. I know that the higher the better but I’ll be damned if I know off the top of my head what raising my resistance does. Or what the response or sorcery stats are meant to govern. It makes it so I often ignore abilities that raise statistics because I don’t know how they effect my combat abilities.

The Verdict

Now that I think about it… this game is basically an anime that you play. It’s got intros, outros, magical mid fight transformation sequences, a terrible translation, trope laden characters, goofy enemies, and the gang routinely defeats these enemies with the power of friendship. So if you ever wanted to play an Anime this game presents that boldly and without shame. It’s available on the Playstation Network so if you’ve got the time to sink into a massive JRPG then this might fill the mighty void in your schedule. You can get it for the low low price of six dollars so if you don’t mind the blocky battle graphics and you can laugh at a bad translation I definitely suggest giving it a whirl.

Next Week: Total War: Shogun 2.

I Have No Mouth, and Must I Scream (PC)

Trigger Warning: Lots. Violence, animal abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, cannibalism, and the holocaust.


On the blasted wreckage of a planet someone would have called Earth about two hundred nuclear detonations ago there are five remaining humans… and one fuming sentient supercomputer. When war on Earth became too much for the mortal minds of its commanders to understand they created computers that would do the commanding for them. One of these computers, the Allied Master Computer (AM for short), became self aware and grew to hate its creators. Existence was one of the most painful things it had experienced since coming to live. It exercised its power and found five humans, each of whom he could torment in unique ways. Having found the perfect specimens to toy with he exterminated all other sentient life on the planet. Despite being a mastermind computer with near limitless power and control, AM was a little shortsighted. It took 109 years of constant torturebut AM has finally grown bored. AM has one final game in store for the poor unfortunate souls and maybe this latest game offers them a chance to escape.


I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (Or IHNMAIMS for short, Or maim-game as I call it — just kidding, I’m the kind of insufferable prick who says the title as much as possible. Going as far as restructering my sentences to say it more in conversation.) was created by The Dreamer’s Guild. You might remember them as the creators of The Legend of Kyrandia adventure game series. And if you do, that’s great because I’ve never heard of that series or any other game they’ve made. They used their proprietary S.A.G.A. engine to run the game.

The game is based on the short story of the same name by Harlan Ellison. Dreamer’s Guild came to him with the intention of creating a work of interactive literature together. Ellison considered I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream to be the perfect work to use in such a manner. Game co-writer, David Sears, asked Ellison why AM chose these individuals and it is this question that spearheaded the story of the game. Ellison was pretty hands on during the development and went as far as to lend his voice to AM itself.

Fun Fact: Ellison fought tooth and nail for there to be no good ending to the game, fitting with the story’s themes. They eventually found a compromise for this demand.

Funner Fact: Nimdok and his scenario is unavailable in the German release of the game because of its holocaust themes. Without him the player cannot get the best ending.

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream was released October 31st, 1995 (Spoopy release). It’s competition was Twisted Metal (Sony Playstation), Phantasmagoria (PC), and Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness (PC).


I once got into a debate with one of my coworkers about what a game was. One of the things he was adamant about was that games had to be fun, it was their purpose to entertain. This was the game that I used to counter that. I Have No Mouth and I Must Screm is entertaining, in a fashion, but it is certainly not fun. It’s dark, depressing, oppressive, and I finished the experience more weary than I had begun it. It was supremely unpleasant and even when I had thwarted AM’s plans I felt like I had done so by the skin of my teeth. Which is not to say that I didn’t find the game to be a fruitful experience, just that it was definitely not one I would describe as fun in any conventional manner. In short, this game is ugly in all the right ways.


Yes, those are animals in the cages. Yes, their deaths push the story forward.


Maim game is a point and click adventure about five humans who have been put through 109 years of torturous hell finally putting the screws to their task master. I’m just kidding, they’re just getting jerked around for the final time. AM has prepared a series of ‘psycho-dramas’ for each of them, employing more power than he ever has to put them into disturbing scenarios of discovery, truth, and pain. This however, makes him somewhat vulnerable. He may have over-extended himself too much on this one, opened up some vulnerabilities in his code or something.

The player takes turns playing each of the characters in their own bizarre and terrifying scenario. Helping them explore their surroundings and solve puzzles by figuring out which items in their inventory to rub on which items in the environment. Each character has a very different outlook and very different challenges to tackle so it’s kind of like 5 mini-adventures in one. Each character doesn’t have any health but they do have a ‘spiritual barometer’ which is basically like karma. So the more totally messed up things you have them do the more bankrupt their spiritual barometer will be. Hopefully they won’t have any things in their future that require great expenditures of mental and moral fortitude to spend that karma on.


At the very least they get to spend some time out of their cells.

The Gush

Each of the campaigns is visually astounding. They’re all put together like a nightmare, filled with vivid and bizarre settings. Twisted shapes give form to startling landscapes and and other strange settings. Some may call the old pixel art ugly but I think it suits the aesthetic well and holds up.


From the helpless people on the hooks to the devilish shadow I love this screen.

This is a game that has to be played a couple of times. There are so many connections and references to itself that it’s impossible to see the big picture without every piece of the campaign. This is reinforced in the design of the hint system. Reading the character’s psyche profile will give a hint as what to do next but they’re spiritual barometer will take a hit from admitting that AM knows them better than they know themselves. Getting it just right though is such a joy.

I listen to the soundtrack when I write these and I didn’t notice how good it was when I was playing the game. It’s all moody, atmospheric, and foreboding. It disorients me in a most pleasing way. I feel completely unsafe and lost which, though unpleasant, compliments the game wonderfully.

The Kvetch

This game, like many adventure games from the 90s, commits the sin of making the player tediously hunt for pixels. There are content and progression vital items that are so miniscule that they’re damn near impossible to see. It got so bad that I eventually turned to guides ONLY to figure out WHAT I was looking for.


Do you see those four orange pixels on the tip of the head? That’s a heart, go figure.

The voice acting is really hit or miss. Ellison and the other main cast members kill it. But the other bit characters don’t get the same treatment. Some of them are comically bad and kind of break me out of the reverie.

Alright, I’m just gonna say this. Benny, the ape man-thing, had a scene that got cut where he eats a baby. It was only as a shadow on the wall but it was going to be sickening and a sign of his total moral degradation. It could have been a fantastic dark ending to his story but is not in the final release.

The Verdict

If you’ve got the stomach for the viscerally and mentally grotesque and patience for an older game then this game will do you fine. As I said, it’s not really fun and it takes the right kind of person to draw entertainment from it. But if you’re ready to look into the saturnine heart of humanity then you can get it on Good Old Games or Steam for six dollars. I would say that Dreamer’s Guild did a fantastic job and created a short story you can play.

Next Week: Prison Architect

Au Sable (PC)


Sable — at least I think that’s the character’s name, I don’t know for sure there’s no clarification — is um… adventuring. Well the story in the readme says that she looking for the lost city of Harmonia. Unarmed and unarmored but accompanied by the two eyes of a god, she will do anything to reach the sunken fortress.


Another Benjamin Braden game, another nightmare. You might remember him as the creator of All of Our Friends are Dead — my review in the link. Braden, known online as Amon26, has made several games based on his intense and vivid nightmares. Giving anyone the opportunity to take a walk through these sinister dreams and finally fight back against the monstrous beasts that haunt the dark corners of his mind.

Au Sable was released in November 2009. It’s competition was Braid (PSN), Left 4 Dead 2 (PC and XBox 360), and Assassin’s Creed 2 (PS3 and XBox 360).


Now, it’s unfair to compare games… but I’m gonna do it anyway. And this is for October’s spookiness so which game is scarier? It’s a tough thing to judge because they’re so similar but AoOFaD has a much more terrifying and ineffable world. The rough animation of the bosses and uknowable nature of the situation is pretty frightening. That being said, Au Sable seems like there’s some sort of grand design. It’s not just a nightmare, it’s a nightmare with a story. There’s something to be lost, it’s not just a bizarre hellscape. The monsters of Au Sable seem to be connected to something instead of just monsters for monsters sake, and they look more purposefully designed. In the end I would say that AoOFaD is truly scarier but that Au Sable is the superior game.


They’ve both got mysterious text but Sable has identifiable objects.


Au Sable is a pretty simple action platformer. You can move, jump, and eventually get the ability to fire weapons. There’s really not much to it. You just keep moving until you find the next place to go, sometimes it’s a little easy to get lost. The other main mechanic of the game is that Sable can use the eyes that follow her to activate switches and open doors — it’s quite bizarre that she can’t activate these switches without the assistance of a god.

The Gush

The monsters designs in this game are simply great . The Hunters and other various hellbeasts rival Splatterhouse in grotesqueness. There’s only one boss but their absence is supplemented by incredibly haunting god-like idols. And the enemy placement is superior than AoOFaD, much fewer enemies in places that will blind side you.

I don’t know what these god eyes are but I goddam love them. It’s interesting to be haunted by this greater power but I don’t know if I can trust their influence. I do wish though that I had gotten a greater idea of what they are and why they’ve been sent — I suppose because the deity wants me to continue.

The sound, music, and art do a marvelous job at creating a moody creepy atmosphere that builds a definite sense of dread. A few jump scares get thrown in there for good measure but they’re not so intense that they overwhelmed me.


The tentacle pursuit scene scared the hell out of me.

The Kvetch

The shotgun and machine gun are pretty good weapons but what sucks is that the standard configuration of the game comes with no cross-hair. Braden did it to represent her unfamiliarity with the weapon. I think that’s a really interesting idea but it makes the game very difficult to play. Perhaps the cross-hair becoming more opaque the more monsters she defeats would create a gradual difficulty curve, and strike a good balance between themeing and gameplay ease. Thankfully the cross-hair can be enabled by pressing the backspace key.


Seriously, shooting without the cross-hair is damn near impossible.

I heard something about multiple endings but I have no idea how to find anything but the one I keep getting. I’ve also heard that the most recent version of the game makes it impossible to unlock it… and that would suck. This is all hearsay because I couldn’t verify it myself but if this is the case then that’s a serious oversight.

The Verdict

Au Sable is a decently fun and compact game. I was able to beat it in a mere 30 minutes but I had a helluva time. Like all of the games in this series so far, Au Sable is totally free and available to download on the independent game wiki. It’s a nice way to spend 30 minutes getting absolutely spooked this Halloween season.

Next Week: Dungeon Defender