Monthly Archives: February 2019

A Tale of Two Dragons…

This is going to be a shorter post, less a review and more of a brief comparison between two versions of the same game. I got Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen for my PC to record a YouTube playthrough with a warrior build, and I’d gone about a third of the way through the main story when I felt an urge to play as an assassin instead. Instead of swapping vocations in the middle of my planned run, I went downstairs to fire up the Xbox360 version and start a new assassin build there. In theory, the games should be quite similar, given that they’re both the Dark Arisen version.

Certainly, the lighting is similar, but on the PC I had the option of installing a shader mod to get rid of the nasty banding in the sky that becomes more noticeable in the moments after sunset and before sunrise. Both versions have problems with objects and characters popping in and out of the game world, but the PC version has somewhat better draw distances. (But only somewhat, as it’s still entirely possible to have a crew of monsters appear right in front of my party suddenly, or to stop moving and then a second later have an obstacle appear from thin air.)

However, there are some pretty big differences that improve the game for the PC version, stuff that apparently never got added as a patch for the older edition. The HD graphics actually work on the PC, for instance, looking much sharper even when close up. On the Xbox360, even after installing the HD graphics pack, the game looked hideous unless I sat way far away from the screen. It was jarring because the NPCs and enemies were fantastically detailed, but the world looked worse than Skyrim, which for a few years was my graphical low bar for Xbox360 game graphics. Continue reading

Netflix Nosedive: Penny Dreadful (Beware: MAJOR spoilers)

Before I begin, I want to apologize if this post is too long or rambly. Temperature shifts here in Pavia have rendered my brain somewhat useless, and I have trouble focusing. But we just finished watching this show, and if I don’t review it now I’ll forget all the finer points I feel need mentioning. But if you decide the review is too scattered or long for you to finish, I’m okay with that. In fact, for you, the early bailer, I will give you my final verdict now: 3 stars, a mixed bag of good, bad, and absolutely pathetic.

Let’s also get the spoiler warning out of the way because to unpack the hot mess that is Penny Dreadful, I’m going to have to spoil pretty much every story arc and character. I could in theory just write up a blurb of a review that spoiled nothing, but that blurb would leave you with the impression that I hated the show. The truth is that my feelings are more complicated, much like this series’ stretching attempts to make a grand unifying evil theory.

But I’ll be kind enough to put all the spoilers behind a page cut, so if you long to see this without knowing anything about it, bail out now. Continue reading

Netflix Nosedive: Kingdom

I am sick to death of zombies, and have been for a few years now. In films they’re the laziest monster, laying around for years without reaching an expiration date, yet always seeming to last just long enough to catch their victims. (Seriously, you want me to believe that 20 years after the pandemic infection event, there’s still armies of fresh corpses waiting to snack on four people? Oy.) In video games, they’re a programmer’s dream come true, since they barely need any AI or pathing coded in. Just fill a map with a hundred copy-pasta enemies and clock out. Problem solved.

More to the point, zombies in any medium just don’t scare me any more, I think because I’m over the hill and looking at a real death more squarely in its hollow skull sockets. Besides, if there ever really was a zombie apocalypse, I’m in lousy shape and would likely die in the first five minutes. I’m okay with that, and I’m making my peace with death rather than whistling past the graveyards. It’s just that now, it takes more than an shambling corpse to scare me. (Side note: killer sharks still seem to work on me for some reason I can’t explain.)

So what would it take to convince me to watch yet another zombie show? Turns out, adding political intrigue during the late Joseon period in Korea. Give me a scheming handsome prince with muddled but mostly good intentions, an evil young queen and her equally evil daddy, and suddenly I’m hooked like a catfish to stink bait. Despite being the centerpiece to this story, for me the zombies fall by the wayside under the weight of fascinating characters and even more intriguing political machinations. Continue reading

Netflix Nosedive: Aggretsuko

Oh, man…am I glad I started Aggretsuko late, because now I know there’s a second season coming, and that eases the torment of this show ending way too soon for my liking. That alone should tell you I loved this series. I’d seen in a couple other reviews that it was very melancholy, but that wasn’t my experience with it. I laughed until I hurt during most episodes except for the last and the Christmas Special (Which I’ll also cover in this review.)

Also, I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can avoid spoilers for this one, so if you want to go into the show clean, just stop now.

Also, this is my first exposure to the cast, as I never saw the 100 one-minute episodes that originally set up the story. So any experts who note mistakes in my review, please, keep your snickering to respectable levels.

With that out of the way, Aggretsuko is a Sanrio show for adults. The main character is Retsuko, a red panda who works as an OL (office lady) for a big company. She’s part of the accounting department, and after five years working in the same dead end position, she’s a bundle of raw nerves that seek release through singing death metal. That’s the whole premise in a nutshell, and it’s what drew me in, the curiosity to see where that angle would go. Continue reading

Game review: Pac-Man 256 for Android

Endless runners aren’t really my thing. I did enjoy Jetpack Joyride for several months, but most of the games in the genre get stale for me in a week or two. Pac-Man 256 got stale around the two hour mark.

Bear in mind, Pac-Man was one of the first arcade games to show up at our skate rink and movie theater, and it was the first game we got for our Atari 2600. Alongside Dig-Dug and Galaga, I’ve got Pac-Man on my PS4 whenever I need a quick pellet munching fix. I owned the Tiger Electronics LCD version of Pac-Man. You see what I’m saying? I love Pac-Man, and I don’t like this endless runner version of it. Not at all.

My problems with this game can be traced to the procedural generation and the blind spots created by the way the maze appears from the top and right of the screen. I might be aiming for a specific path, only to see that way is now blocked by several ghosts, and I’m dead with no chance of course correction. Continue reading