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Messages - lolmonade

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General Chat / Re: The COVID-19 Virus is Coming For Us All Thread
« on: May 21, 2020, 07:23:54 AM »
I recall reading that story about her being fired, truthfully my biases had me mentally taking her side, but I'm trying to work on not coming to conclusions with incomplete information, especially as the news seems to be flying at the speed of light.

I will say too that there's been aritcles with data showing that the PEOPLE of the US broadly started social distancing before the state orders came into place, so I'd be more inclined to credit the people of Florida moreso than the state & local government.  Again, my biases might be partially at play with that conclusion.

TalkBack / Jet Lancer (Switch) Review
« on: May 12, 2020, 01:23:14 AM »

Top Gun Meets Knight Rider

Jet Lancer is a fast-paced shoot-’em-up from Armor Games Studios.  It’s not simply “fast”, but blisteringly fast.  As the ace pilot/freelance mercenary dogfight job taker Ash Leguinn, I assumed ownership of a prototype jet fighter plane which rivals the most technologically advanced aerial flight vehicles in service.  Along with the commander of an aircraft carrier, I ping-ponged my way along a string of contracts that unveiled larger forces at play and a world-ending threat only I could defeat.  

Each mission is constrained to a somewhat limited piece of aerial real estate on a 2D plane, with sky in the North, Ocean or ground in the South, and east/West having invisible barriers that’ll turn you back around automatically in-flight.  Objectives vary mission-by-mission: one might simply be downing all enemy fighter pilots; another might be hovering around a satellite tower long enough for a meter to fill, signifying it’s been disabled.  Every mission is littered with air combatants, a volley of huge bullets filling the sky like the fourth of July, and heat-seeking missiles that can only be avoided by sharp pivots and dodge rolling just as they’re about to knock you out of the sky.  In-between missions, optional loadout changes of weapons and vehicle perks allow new opportunities to try different strategies if you get stuck.  Is that missile barrage super move not hitting the submarine hard enough?  Swap over to the giant charging laser to obliterate it in one shot.

Every five or six missions are capped with a boss battle level that has one primary objective to take down and is commonly littered with secondary enemies and hazards.  The first one was a hose-like mechanical flying dragon, weaving in-and-out of the water at awkward angles that made it challenging to dip down-and-up after striking without crashing into it.  The second battle was a less-inspired giant submarine, slowly lumbering along, shooting a flurry of bullets and huge missiles that rocket into the sky and then come tumbling down toward the water again.  Each boss has several phases and attack patterns that take patience to learn, which can be aggravating when truly stuck but provides a great deal of satisfaction once you get over the hurdle.

The act of flying itself feels fantastic.  They nailed the sense of speed, with a weight to the aircraft itself that has an appropriate amount of drag when trying to turn on a dime or swerve at the last moment away from danger.  Beyond the boss battles, enemies feel appropriately challenging, making each takedown of an enemy pilot feel like a small victory.  Visually, while navigating from mission-to-mission has a clunky appearance, the missions themselves highlight a multilayering of colors in the backdrop and illusion of depth-of-field via something that looks like the original F-Zero’s space underneath the track.  It’s a nice touch that under scrutiny would look overly simplistic, but in the act of playing works perfectly well since it was almost never the focus of what I was looking at.

Jet Lancer’s positives aren’t novel⁠—plenty of games where you control a plane nail the feeling of flying at the speed of sound.  Lots of shoot-’em-ups provide the exhilaration of narrowly dodging a flurry of projectiles then tagging the enemy.  Multi-wave bosses with clever, varied patterns are almost cliche at this point.  But this is the first time in recent memory I’ve seen those elements married to elevate the experience to something that might be both my favorite indie so far this year and in a rare club of games I’ll keep playing for some time to come.

TalkBack / Hyperparasite (Switch) Review
« on: May 07, 2020, 06:33:22 AM »

Invasion of the bodies snatcher

Hyperparasite is a twin-stick, top-down, roguelike shooter.  If that combination of words didn’t sound like a bot spat it out, maybe the theme will pique your interest.  You play a symbiote-like creature whose survival depends on possessing a mixture of different human combatants with varying abilities, navigating various levels, and fighting off waves of enemies.  I was greeted upon launch with an absurd introduction video message from the President⁠—a bunker-occupying, eyepatch wearing, foul-mouthed leader who looks like a mixture of Ronald Reagan and Big Boss—who has sent out a call-to-arms to the citizenry worldwide for the noble cause of protecting him from the amorphous enemy.

Every run starts with a different human avatar, each of which has a unique move set consisting of a regular and special attack, a dodge, and the ability to detach from the host and take the natural parasitic form.  A police officer has a gun-based attack with a special move that makes bullets travel farther.  A homeless man has a more melee-based kit, using a shopping cart as a battering ram.  Once the host’s life bar is depleted, I shed my human skin and was relegated back to my blobular form—a weak, ill-defined body which has modest offense and a fragility that incentivizes finding a new host quickly.  Get destroyed in that state, and your game over is accompanied with a clever little newspaper article highlighting which human was the hero in that timeline.

Those future human husks are acquired by defeating those that haven’t been unlocked yet.  If a brain drops from their body, you can make it back to the hub area and pay the necessary monetary fee to unlock them as a possessable form moving forward.  In practice, this felt like one requirement too far to unlock new forms, or at least it’s too punitive with how cash-tight things can seem throughout.  There are also perks that can be intermittently unlocked with experience such as HP boosts or attack power.  Admittedly, I hadn’t noticed an appreciable improvement in ability after investing in these power-ups, so it became a rote exercise of spreading it across the different options as I played.

For me, the success of a roguelike is how good the core game feels.  A game like Dead Cells feels so fluid and crisp that the randomness of the level layouts, enemy placement, and item/ability drops bolster that solid foundation well and provide variety.  The worst type of roguelike has a core gameplay that doesn’t stand out from its peers, which then highlights how uncurated the RNG level generation and item drops are, therefore making the entire game feel like chance. .  Hyperparasite is somewhere in the middle—it’s best when I find a new human that has a toolset that empowers me; at its worst, I get a bad draw of a host and encounter enemy types that are bullet sponges.  Oddly enough as well, I noticed a slightly less smooth movement rate when in handheld mode than docked.  It didn’t affect my ability to progress but was sometimes distracting that lessened my enjoyment.

Hyperparasite leans heavily on its setting to stand-out from other top-down shooters, and in that sense, it succeeds in having a great, dark, B-movie tone that feels distinct and engaging.  There’s a real variety to the different host bodies you vulture off-of, which would provide a great flow of hoping from body-to-body if some of them didn’t just feel like they will set you behind by doing so.  If you have a craving for a twin-stick shooter that’ll keep you engaged for a while with an interesting premise, Hyperparasite can provide some brief fun, but be prepared for some grind to unlock new flesh suits and a better experience on the TV.

General Chat / Re: The COVID-19 Virus is Coming For Us All Thread
« on: April 17, 2020, 06:36:04 AM »
Illinois and surrounding states joining up to "govern" their own economic reopening in absence of a federal plan or assistance.

This could be a bad trend depending on how things progress.

As an Illinoisian, I think it's a good thing.  The Northeast with NY already started their own consortium.  The concerns I have are more around the long-term effect when it comes to the health of the country....tough to feel like we're all part of one nation if it ends up being 5-6 regions of the US basically competing and fighting each other for resources.

I sincerely worry about what is done to bring us back together after this is all said and done.

TalkBack / In Other Waters (Switch) Review
« on: April 14, 2020, 05:57:56 AM »

Let this sea wash over you.

After an error and a hard reboot, a garbled cryptic warning of what lay ahead scrolled across my screen.  I awoke to a clinical, sterile topography map with a Dr. Ellery Vas explaining that she was stuck underwater in her personal exploration suit, calling for assistance or any sort of response.  As I acknowledged her pleas, an overlay of dials and buttons covered the map, and she explained to me our dire circumstances—I am an AI (but not her suit’s original AI) that’s attached to her exploration suit stuck in alien waters, and the nearest explorers are too far away to discover us before it’s too late. Therefore, she and I must work together to move and find our way through.  Those are the stakes of In Other Waters, a recently released title announced as part of Nintendo’s latest Indie World presentation.

There isn’t much in terms of gameplay here, at least in the traditional sense.  Progression means interacting with the control panel, an array of stick movement inputs or button selections that correspond to an action that’ll take place on screen.  Hitting B will enact a doppler radar kind of ripple that highlights markers in the area, which take the form triangles for different waypoints to progress to and other symbols indicating possible underwater life.  Selecting the triangle markers moves the map along to that spot, where I was able to once again hit B to highlight new points of interest within the current zone in the reticle.  Each point of interest is accompanied with text describing the area being traveled to, or if yellow dots are strewn around it, I could see what kind of underwater flora or fauna exist there.  In those spots, the sea life can be extracted and retained in inventory.  Eventually, a terminal is reached where larger stores of samples can be kept, inspected, and then details recorded in an encyclopedic-like record.  I was impressed with the amount of thought put into minute details of each living creature and plant. I don’t know whether it’s because of how involved the controls feel in action, but the dry act of scanning an area, using the right stick to highlight waypoints and sea life, collecting samples, and exploring further is oddly meditative.  It’s also likely because of an accompanying dream-like soundtrack, filled with a melody that is as alien sounding as the game it’s based on.  The swelling and waning of its dulcet tones evoke the sense of natural flow of water or an erratic heartbeat, swishing back and forth.  What also lends to this mood is the dialogue; Dr. Ellery Vas’ conversations with you remain largely clinical, rarely showing fear or anxiety, and the glimpses of excitement appear mostly when discovering a new plant life or underwater discovery.  Her perspective provides the framework through which I viewed the story, and her sterile mindset when navigating a harrowing situation is refreshing and suits the theme well.

Sometimes that subtle approach can detract from progress if you don’t pay enough attention.  At the start of being able to control the game, Dr. Vas gave very little direction on how to get moving.  The ensuing hour was filled with confusion as I fumbled with different levers, learning through trial-and-error how to interact with the environment, and worrying whether I was overlooking important details or actions I should be taking.  In a particular section of my playthrough, Dr. Vas began speaking to me in a region where there was a quicker-paced flow of water blocking progress to the next waypoints.  My eyes glazed over for a brief moment as it was later in the evening at a time where I was already tired, and I missed a key clue that was meant to provide direction on how to overcome that obstacle.  Patience is a virtue, especially when such information is given so seldom. Other than that, I came away from In Other Waters so pleased with the experience.   While the action of playing the game is threadbare, the tone being set between the repetitive motions of exploration, your doctoral companion’s calm demeanor, a serene and mysterious accompaniment, and the satisfaction of each new discovery makes for a divine experience.  If you’re looking for an interactive balm for your spare time or something to sate a sense of discovery without needing action-packed stimulation, sink into these waters and let them wash over you.

General Chat / Re: The COVID-19 Virus is Coming For Us All Thread
« on: April 14, 2020, 07:51:58 AM »
What is the real US infection rate though? The John Hopkins Map says you've only tested around 3,000,000 people for 500,000+ positives. Or a 18% positivity rate.
In Australia, only about 1% of people tested come back positive. Eitehr you guys have been really good at not wasting tests or really bad at testing enough people.

We have no idea.  What's scarier is there could be untold number of people who have died from COVID-19 but we'd have no clue for sure because they never got tested either due to dying before being able to receive attention or because they didn't show severe enough symptoms before it was too late, and testing is too precious of a commodity to waste one on a post-mortem test.

There's still a shortage of testing, no antibody testing, no plan.  It's almost all been ad hoc with the states being told to get supplies themselves, but then there's also been various news stories about states getting a purchase in with a manufacturer only then for FEMA to come in and take them away.  One of the few times i've been grateful to live in Illinois as Chicago has forced the Governor's hand early and it should mean we will be in a better position than some states to start gradually easing some of the restrictions.

This is why it would have been nice to have a federal government that understood that while, no, you don't have direct control over when states decide to "reopen the economy" (lol), that a competent administration would have been able to coordinate with all the states, be the singular purchaser of goods for the entire country, and then collaborate WITH the states as a group regarding which states get supplies when in order to respond to peaks which each of them will have happen at different times.

TalkBack / My Hero Academia (Season 4) Review
« on: April 01, 2020, 08:38:23 AM »

This season can be one enjoyed for all.


I’m not a natural fan of anime, which made it surprising that I fell in love with My Hero Academia. This series takes place in a world where a fraction of the population started developing superpowers (known as “quirks”) and developed a society of superheroes and villains. The protagonist, Izuku Midoriya (Superhero Name “Deku”), is a child born without a quirk who’s obsessed with becoming a hero in spite of it. He gains his opportunity by encountering All Might, the world’s number-one hero who selects him to inherit his transferrable super strength named One-for-All, and teach him how to utilize this power with his classmates in class 1-A at U.A. High School – Japan’s premiere superhero academy. Using the power at the start breaks his body with each use, and the series up to Season three has been a fantastic arc of watching his character use his intelligence to work-around this limitation and gradually understand how to harness bits and pieces of this power.

Season 4’s story arc of My Hero Academia in some ways is a natural progression of Deku’s coming of age story, but also a tectonic shift in tone and focus from the dynamic personalities and tensions between members of Class 1-A. We start in a state which includes All Might now having completely depleted what was left of his reservoir of One-for-All after his epic showdown against his arch nemesis All-for-One, having now left a vacuum of superhero leadership that factions of villains have scrambled to fill the void with. While the League of Villains (sans All-for-One) has continued working on building a formidable force on the back of the inspiration of Stain the Hero Killer, Kai Chisaki (Villain name “Overhaul”) and the Yakuza have formed an unsteady alliance with them to develop a serum that negates quirks drawn from the blood of a captive girl Eri and her quirk “Rewind”, which lets her reverse someone’s body back to a prior state.

This primary narrative focuses on Deku in his internship with All Might’s former sidekick and one of the top senior students (Hero Name “Lemillion”) as they investigate the Yakuza and the whereabouts of the missing girl. Deku struggles with not only trying to better learn his power (at which he can currently only control a small fraction of), but also coming to terms with a internship boss who actively dislikes him, a partner in Lemillion who he sees himself comparably inferior to, and not having the security of All Might to come in and save him when things get dire. This results in a less manic, more grounded in serious stakes than prior seasons. While I enjoy the lighthearted, day-in-the-life segments, the sharp turn into the students being active heroes jumping into the fray provides a welcome turn into stakes that feel more real than they have at other points in the series. Not only that, but Deku gets some spectacular screen time as a thoughtful and powerful superhero in his own right.

What I also appreciate this season is how the focus of the class 1-A has taken a turn toward highlighting some of the team who up to this point had been less developed or more bit players. Katsuki Bakugo, who fills the role as Deku’s rival, takes a backseat as he’s held-behind from being able to participate in internships. Eijiro Kirishima, Bakugo’s best friend in class instead gets a heavy amount of focus as a B-plot throughout the season. His exploits as an intern intersect with Deku’s as their separate investigations coalesce into the main arcs’ narrative wraps, and includes great character development as he shows doubt in himself and his abilities compared to his peers, resolve to protect those with him, and a range of personality that had otherwise been absent to this point.

My Hero Academia: Season 4 picks-up the baton from Season 3 and deftly navigates telling a compelling season narrative that not only shows maturity from Deku and class 1-A, but also carries them to a point by the end of the season that feels like a natural progression of their character and qualities while also offering surprises along the way. There are some pacing issues toward the end, but if you can accept that as an epilogue arc rather than a continuation of the same story, then this season is a thrilling watch throughout.



  • High-stakes arc feels earned
  • Underdeveloped characters given center stage
  • I don’t love the closing credits song
  • Not enough All Might



TalkBack / Langrisser 1 & 2 (Switch) Review
« on: March 31, 2020, 05:13:14 AM »

This legendary weapon has some rust.

The Langrisser 1 & 2 collection, a re-release and remaster of two tactical RPGs originally released in the 90s, was a complete gap in my gaming experience.  Both entries included in this pack are centered around protagonists and medieval fantasy stories and settings that see you needing to obtain the Langrisser, a legendary weapon.  While Switch owners are blessed with a bounty of tactical RPGs, as a fan of the genre I’m always interested in finding new franchises to see how they stack up.

Missions play out how you’d expect from something like Fire Emblem, with some minor but meaningful differences.  The party is comprised of several heroes, the primary characters of the story.  Each of them has special moves and/or magic, with attributes that are strong or weak depending on the enemy you’re encountering.  Hero characters (other than the protagonist) are not subject to permadeath; rather, they simply exit the battle until the next round.  Prior to combat start, up to four support units are hirable.  You select and utilize these units similarly to how you control the heroes, except without the benefit of the special moves or magic spells the heroes can employ.  Additionally, these mercenary units are considerably weaker than their hero counterparts, so while they are strategically useful when chipping away at an enemy’s health or blocking-off a path, they’ll rarely be used for more than cannon fodder.

Langrisser 1 & 2 differentiate themselves from others in the genre with mixed results.  Most missions are practically impossible without paying for mercenary troops, but this turns every battle into a war of attrition, with you as a commander of dozens of units.  Heroes have job class progressions which can be earned via points you gain by the number of generals who are downed by that character, offering nice ways to branch-out their core competencies.  One quirk I found strange is that you can only use magic spells if the character hasn’t yet moved in the turn, and once you do, that uses up the turn.  It became a unique wrinkle on how I strategized each turn that felt positively distinct, even if I didn’t appreciate it at first.

As a remaster, this collection is stylistically all over the place.  There have been visual updates in the map backdrops, character models, and character portraits.  Being able to swap the new maps and character portraits with the original versions on the fly is a welcome feature, but the character models are not changeable.  These units, which have a very simple, clean, inoffensive look generally end up clashing hard with the more classic, pixelated original backdrop.  The portrait swap option only dictates a choice between whether you prefer the more 90s or current anime style and is largely inconsequential except for one or two that haven’t aged well to a hilarious extent.  The soundtrack has some good musical pieces, but the tone is similarly disjointed.  Some tracks have a more typical medieval fantasy vibe; others are flush with a variety of guitar riffs and a sweeping stringed instrument section which feels haphazard when put together.

That disjointed nature was inherent throughout my time with this collection, and while distracting at times, it was never enough to sour the entire experience.  The Langrisser 1 & 2 collection is a pleasant tactical RPG collection with some gameplay quirks that range between novel and grating, and audiovisual stylistic choices that at times suit it well and at others are baffling.  Overall, the core experience in this collection is sound enough to overlook the wild swings in presentation quality.

TalkBack / Snakeybus (Switch) Review
« on: March 30, 2020, 09:09:00 AM »

Lo-fi hip-hop bus to snake to.

Snakeybus, outside of being a very silly name, is a very descriptive one.  It’s like Snake, the top-down 2D game of collecting dots, expanding the length of your snake which you must avoid contacting with your head.  With Snakeybus, this concept has been reimagined as a 3D game of controlling a bus, collecting passengers, and letting them off at randomly generated drop-off points on the map.  Doing so extends the length of the bus by several cars each time, as well as increasing the passenger capacity.  

Each standard round lasts roughly three-to-five minutes depending on how adept you become at navigating the bus.  As a round progressed and I made several drop-offs of passengers to their final destination, busses morph into a more sluggishly turning and unwieldy train akin to the public transit systems in New York City or Chicago.  Like snake, eventually your tail gets so long that it gets difficult to avoid crashing into yourself.  Unlike snake, doing so isn’t an immediate game over.  The game ends when you either fall off a cliff or get stuck in a spot where you’re unable to move.  One way the 3D space is taken advantage of is a jump/boost button.  This becomes very important as the tram extends as long as the levels, requiring hopping over parts of it crisscrossing along the level.

At the start menu, a variety of maps, bus types, and modes are available to choose from but are gated-off by a cumulative point score requirement.  Maps vary between attempts at realistic looking neighborhoods and cityscapes, children’s bedrooms with Hot Wheels style tracks looping up and around furniture, and more surrealist options to unlock later.  Similarly, the busses expand into the psychedelic and supernatural (tie-dye and dragon busses) as you reach deeper unlocks, but appear to be purely aesthetic choices.  The different game mode options, while a welcome addition, are all fairly minor tweaks to the base game.  For example, one tweaks the jump so it acts like an endless boost, turning you into a flying bus hurtling in the air and trying to navigate through flying hoops.  It’s a fun distraction from the standard mode, but the novelty wears off quick.

It’s difficult to expand on more because there just isn’t much “there” there.  The core experience of playing Snakeybus is amusing but fleeting.  There are scoreboards for each level, but I suspect for most the experience isn’t grabbing enough at its foundation to justify trying to challenge those at the top.  The soundtrack is mellow like that lo-fi hip hop beats to study to YouTube channel, but it becomes redundant quickly.  Levels are a bright spot in their diversity in both the locales and how well each of them has their own sense of verticality/layering of lanes to drive in.  If you’re looking for a breezy unique twist on a classic game, Snakeybus can provide a few hours of mild humor.

General Chat / Re: The COVID-19 Virus is Coming For Us All Thread
« on: March 25, 2020, 06:51:13 AM »
It might be because my perception of things is being colored by Spanish flu documentaries from 2018-19 that are still fresh in my mind, but I think the Wuhan virus is way worse than most people realize. If the"flatten the curve" plan is successful, these measures will have to be in place until the beginning of 2021.

From what I've gleaned, the "plan" if the curve is flattened is to ease up on some restrictions and try to get back to some semblance of normal life.  It'll be an ebb and flow of loosening and tightening restrictions as cases escalate and what's happening with healthcare capacity until a vaccine is available.

Either way, I agree we're in for a sustained discomfort at minimum.

This isn't needed. I really hope NWR doesn't start going for click bait articles designed to upset the audience to drive traffic. It is a short-term bump but ultimately will drive away longtime readers / patrons.

As much as I severely disagree with Justin's take on Breath of the Wild, I'm sure he's not alone, and he's taken a lot of effort in writing this many words about expanding on his feelings.  My dunking on the article on twitter doesn't discount that. 

The title of his editorial might be a little grabby, but I understand his reasoning, as much as i'd love to draft a rebuttal lol.

TalkBack / Strike! Ten Pin Bowling (Switch) Review
« on: February 24, 2020, 12:10:39 AM »

7-10 Split.

I’ve waited patiently for Nintendo to release a follow-up to the Wii Sports series – the last game that drew in everyone in my family from siblings to grandparents to play with its approachability and novelty in motion-controlled sports.  Strike! Ten Pin Bowling is a port of an iOS title, isn’t the first bowling game on Switch, nor is it the first motion-controlled option.  But as someone whose family always eventually went back to bowling after trying the slate of Wii Sports options, the question is whether this title scratches that same itch well-enough to recommend.

Flinging a ball down the lane will feel mostly familiar if you’re a Wiimote vet.  Setting position and angle is easy with the Joy-Con stick.  Once in position and with one Joy-Con in hand, holding the X button picks up the ball, motion your arm backward, then as you reach the right point in your arm’s return arc forward hitting the ZR button to let it loose.  Putting some English on the ball requires a twist of the wrist at release if you like more spice in your 10-pin game.  If motion-controls isn’t your cup of tea, handheld play is still an option.  Holding the Switch vertically, placing a finger against the screen picks-up the ball.  While holding the ball, swiping left or right before throwing adds spin to the release.  Checking against the (free) iOS app version, it largely matches the experience there.In most cases, it works as advertised – frames zip by in seconds when you get in a rhythm, and while some throws didn’t feel they went where I expected them to, the same could also be said of Wii bowling.  The ultimate test is whether I could play with my kids.  My 7-year-old loves Wii Sports, so I thought this would be a great way to see if my initial impressions met his.  Below are the chain of events that occurred:

  • Attempt 1: Swung hand without hitting x to pick up the ball.
  • Attempt 2: Held x and swung hand out without hitting ZR to release the ball.
  • Attempt 3: Same as attempt 2
  • Attempt 4: Same as attempt 2/3
  • Attempt 5: Same as attempt 2/3/4, asks if we can play something else.

Shockingly, having to press an extra button to release the ball was enough to defeat my son after trying to help him understand how to play.  He doesn’t play video games all the time but has enough familiarity where it took me by surprise.  Something to consider for parents or those looking for a bowling experience that’s the most accessible.

Time, place, and presentation matters in context of Strike! Ten Pin Bowling.  Wii Sports was attached as a hot selling point to the Wii as a fresh new device and novel way to play at the time.  Miis with their customizable faces and reactions when dropping a ball added a lot of personality this title is missing.  Strike! Ten Pin Bowling has none of that going for it, and while it ticks off a lot of the same boxes you’d look for in a pick-up-and-play bowling game to share with family, the lack of character and slightly more complex controls prevented it from catching fire in my home.  It’s a completely serviceable bowling experience, but one that doesn’t reach the heights of its predecessors.

TalkBack / Re: The Thirsty Mage - NieR: Automata
« on: February 11, 2020, 12:35:25 PM »
My experience playing Nier: Automata a few years ago was transcendent.  The characters are well-developed by the end, the story is a roller coaster of emotions, and the music is spectacularly applied to the different sequences of the game, not to mention just being outright beautiful. 

It made me feel hollow like few truly great games do for me, where despite devouring it I wanted to jump back into a new save and start over despite devouring it the first time, chasing the feelings from it that I know won't hit the same now that I've experienced it.

Fun listen.

TalkBack / Not Tonight (Switch) Review
« on: February 09, 2020, 11:07:54 PM »

We All Fall Down.

Not Tonight, a game developed by British studio PanicBarn about a post-Brexit dystopian future, has arrived to provide an interactive storytelling and work simulation experience from the perspective of some who have been living in it.  People of European heritage living in Great Britain have been corralled into a set of slums where the community is kept prior to being deported unless able to scrounge enough money to pay-off the government controlled by the Albion First party from doing so.  Either by doing gig economy jobs as a bouncer or engaging in less legal methods, the objective is to play through the story and balance the various demands of survival.

Gameplay is structured in calendar days – wake up, check a screen-shattered phone for job opportunities via the Bouncr app, then arrive at the venue to work.  The owner advises who is allowed that night, then shooing you out front to tend the queue.  Potential patrons arrive to be vetted with the right credentials or be denied entry.  Let in too many that don’t qualify, pay is severely docked.  Too many more than that, and the establishment shuts down, a night wasted with nothing to show for it.  If you successfully complete a shift three times at one venue, the manager makes you head bouncer – doubling pay and offering an item which can open new character arcs or other benefits.  Each night of work is tense enough to be satisfying when you squeak by, especially if you can sneak enough bribes without losing a paycheck.

The overarching story is one of individual and structural discrimination, creeping authoritarianism, and whether you can scrape by in an unjust society without compromising what you know is right and just.  As it accumulates power, the Albion First party beats a constant drum of fear and other-ism towards non-Britons through press releases and mailers.  Immigration officer Jupp condescendingly refers to you only as “#112”, eager to remove your personhood, taking advantage of your plight and forcing work via coercion to better his station in life.  The resistance wants you to balance making enough to live with letting in Euros and resistance members into clubs.  If you compromise your well-being enough to help them, will they liberate you?  If you do as Officer Jupp demands, will you be spared, or be the last against the wall?

Those you work for have varying ranges of prejudice.  Dave (the first pub owner) makes a derisive comment about Europeans, in the same breath stating “not like you, you’re one of the good ones”.  Later club owners are more overt, calling you Euro trash, lamenting how you’re taking good jobs away from hard-working Britons and accepting a Euro is the only affordable option they had for a bouncer.  The resistance members intermittently communicate with plans to overthrow the Albion First regime, assigning minor tasks but keeping their plans close to their vest.  Are they true freedom fighters, or using you like officer Jupp does for their own ends?  Other Europeans in the same block of living quarters commiserate about the circumstances, without a clue of how to proceed.  How long can they last in this dehumanizing state?  

Each day is not just an increase to the game’s difficulty, but a test of character.  What starts as benign (checking IDs at club doors for age and expiration date) creeps into unsavory denying entry to those who are of European descent, who have traveled to European nations, or have low “social credit scores”.  Not Tonight’s greatest trick is forcing choices with a shock factor to start that slowly dulls until considering the complicity of your actions becomes an afterthought.  Eventually the NHS is privatized, adding healthcare bills to your debts and wellness as a new measure needing monitored.  Calendar days and ratcheting-up pressures to survive are done deliberately to press the feeling of malaise but might be overindulgent in a way that hurts pacing. There are times where completing another day feels like straight-up work, which might be immersive but at the sacrifice of fun later on.

Not Tonight is the video game equivalent of a protest song – a piece the artist releases to the world with the intent to elevate a social movement or perceived injustice.  I suspect the story will act as a Rorschach test of your political alignment depending on whether you love or hate it.  Some could critique it as being too on the nose, but the lack of subtlety feels genuine in this moment.  I don’t have enough of a personal insight into Brexit to know whether this is an accurate portrayal of Great Britain’s current trajectory.  Nevertheless, as an American I’ve been firsthand witness to enough radical injustices, prejudiced speech, and discrimination toward the least well-off among us to make what I’ve played believable, and to me that makes it a success in immersive storytelling.

Stale Jokes / Re: iTT we make eachother feel old.
« on: February 10, 2020, 06:23:56 AM »
I'll be 34 in April.  I started listening to RFN and visiting the forums almost 10 years ago.  Since then i've gotten married, moved twice, had two children, and offset given in to my male pattern baldness by shaving my head and growing a beard. 

So I've got that going for me.

With the news that Animal Crossing's save file will be tied to the system and can't be transferred, I'm seriously considering buying a Switch Lite ahead of that. I've been tempted for a while as someone who barely ever plays on the TV, and this seems like the point where I either take the plunge or decide to stick with what I have for good. What do people here who have a Lite think about it?

My wife has a Switch lite.  It definitely feels more comfy to me in my hands, the shape itself is more comfortable to hold.  Caveat - I don't have big hands.

I use Switch in docked mode enough to not transition over to a lite though.

Nintendo Gaming / Re: The official NWR joycon graveyard.
« on: January 29, 2020, 06:12:42 AM »
What are you doing to your joycons?

Like I said above, my youngest has a tendency to clinch hard in excitement while he's playing a game which doesn't help, but even before I ever let my kids touch the Switch, I started noticing occasional drift. 

The joycon drift is a well known defect to the point where a class action lawsuit was ramping up before Nintendo decided to offer free repairs on the problem.

Nintendo Gaming / Re: The official NWR joycon graveyard.
« on: January 28, 2020, 08:27:56 AM »
Do we know how Switch Lites are holding up in this regard? I still want to upgrade to a Switch this year, but between the Joy-con fragility and paid online stuff Nintendo are making it real easy to postpone that purchase.

Tough to tell.  A quick google search shows some cases of drift in youtube videos and reddit threads, but it's not as pronounced or at least visible as the joycon issue became.  Part of the problem might be that the defect just takes time to be known.

Nintendo Gaming / Re: The official NWR joycon graveyard.
« on: January 28, 2020, 05:26:37 AM »
My original joycon have drift, which hasn't been helped by my 5 year-old absolutely manhandling them when playing Mario Oddysey.  It's been mitigated so far by occasionally spraying a bit of electrical contact cleaner underneath the joystick from time to time, but I'm thinking it's gonna have to be sent in at some point.

We have a pink/green pair as well that I haven't allowed the kids to touch so they're in relatively good shape (worst wear & tear is from me playing Smash) and haven't seen any drift YET, but I suspect eventually they'll be victim to that unless there's been some mid-stream revision level change in manufacturing to mitigate it.

Stale Jokes / Re: Safe Words 15 - Fast Food Frenzy. Round 1.
« on: January 27, 2020, 05:17:06 AM »

Oh no......

Never be that hungry. Welp. Based on the disastrous results to lolmonade's bowels after mixing curly fries with onion rings while you have the meats, the Khushrenada Corporation has decided to distance itself from a partnership with Arby's. We shall now clean things up in order to start Round 2 of the testing.

I'll bow out of the game as the rules states, but I won't stand for this blasphemy - Arby's is delicious and top-tier fast food.

Stale Jokes / Re: Safe Words 15 - Fast Food Frenzy. Round 1.
« on: January 26, 2020, 06:21:54 PM »
Thanks to Mop it up's safe choice, we'll keep BK in consideration still for endorsement.

Now we come to lolmonade. Where shall we dine from now?

Taco Bell
Dairy Queen
Papa John's Pizza

Arby's, yo.

Yeah lolmonade, I was thinking that if you had been more active throughout the game, the plan at the end to reach a quick majority might have worked, since we would have had less inconsistencies to point out. Nickmitch was active the whole game and made an investigation every night, so it was tough for you to say that's what you've been doing yet didn't post much nor join our votes in previous days.

Agreed.  I felt a bit off going with that gambit, but I don't think we had much leverage either way, so why not toss it in the air and see if it gets caught?

So, just to weigh-in a little:

Khuhsrenada's consistently being in the crosshairs early-on definitely helped as it resulted in the alternative vote being a somewhat random choice instead.  Unfortunate stalemate, but in a way Khushrenada getting out of the game probably helped clear the logjam for townies so there wasn't such a specific target to start each day.   This is the first true error i'd attribute myself for agreeing to and joining in on that vote.  If we could have milked him as cover for a day or so more, it maybe would have helped clinch the win.  Khush also was the only one besides maybe Mop-it-up that had overt suspicion of me as a mafia, so who knows.

Second true error was on the day Luigi Dude was voted out, Insanolord & I could have gotten the vote switched to someone else and saved him.  Likely would have Outed us as mafia, but maybe the sparing one extra day of not being voted out would have been enough?  Tough to tell.

Us Wesker mafia had blunders of targeting Pokepal and then Mop-it-up on nights where it was most likely they'd be protected, losing two separate chances to whittle down numbers quickly was a huge loss.  Then being borg'd into the Ashford mafia threw everything out the window of how to approach things. 

Pokepal's hail mary plan was probably the best angle we had, but it was hamstrung by 1) me being busier than expected at work during the last day game, and 2) me having been relatively quiet through several days, making me tossing accusations and claims of knowledge around in the day thread more suspicious.  Sorry to Pokepal that I wasn't available to do the full court press, but I was probably also NOT the right partner for that strategy either, unfortunately.

Regardless, good game everyone.  Wish it would have resulted in a Mafia win instead, but ces la vie.  I like the game format though, the second mafia group really changes things up.

And yet, pokepal148 has not sent a message to prove his innocence. Why would he not do this before making accusations, to prove himself? If nothing else, I would at least advise to hold off on voting until he sends in a proof message.

I can't speak for Pokepal (haven't heard from him since earlier today in a Discord DM), but he made it seem like he wouldn't be getting back to his computer for a bit.  I can't send the encryption on his behalf, but this was our convo (worth noting the timestamps are CST, haven't talked to him since this early afternoon).

Considering that pokepal148 has not used his encrypted message power to prove his innocence, and is now turning on us, it's pretty clear that he is the one who has been converted.

That said, from the investigations we know that lolmonade is the OG goon turned Ashford, and appears to be the successor, so we should vote him out today to block the hit.

Interesting timing that you choose to wait until Pokepal is away to toss accusations his way like that.  If anything, the prior days events has shown if anyone is likely safe from being mafia, it's him.  It would also be crazy of Stevey to recruit the one person in the game with a role that can verify whether or not they're corrupted when they could instead quietly accumulate a normal townie more covertly.

I'll level with people since we're close to the end game.  I'm the townie detective, and I've investigated and been informed that Mop it Up is a part of the Ashford Mafia.  Let's put this to a close.

Vote Mop it Up.

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