Debriefing the Film Fest

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So, last post, I mentioned that my week was not being kind to me.  It was shaking me down for time like a mobster to a dry cleaning store.  There was a reason for that.  For the past while, I’ve been working on a pretty large project.  Getting together a film festival.  Last week, and over the weekend, it happened.  It took a lot of time, a lot of labor, a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but it happen.  Although, in retrospect, the blood, sweat, and tears swimming pool was probably less of an attraction than I’d initially expected.  We could have done without that.  Still, I devoted a large portion of my life to pulling off this film festival, and now it’s done with.  That’s good!  But since it put so much of myself into it, even now, the festival’s still riding on my mind, so I wanted to take the opportunity to mentally put this stuff to rest by writing bits of my experience out.  Care to join me?

Unfortunately, our film festival was nowhere near as sexy as the picture above.  We’re still a very young festival, only in our second year, hosted in a small, rural location in a quiet mountain community.  We had booked one of the largest auditoriums in the area, and we could still only seat a few hundred people per showing without getting the fire department saying some very nasty things about us.  We’re a small event, is what I’m saying.  Still, that’s not entirely a bad thing.  We get enough people in that it’s worth us to show the films, worth the filmmakers screening the films, and worth the community to learn a bit of culture.  Trust me, that last one?  We need it here.

Anyways as a small operation, we have a pretty small team.  Last year we had about sizeable group managing the project, each taking up a different part of the duties and making sure the thing went off without a hitch.  This year?  Less than half of that.  We had the same amount of work to do, but with far less people to do so.  We did have a team of volunteers to help review films and work at the festival itself, but all the prep, organization, and heavy lifting?  Done by a fairly small committee.  That did have its benefits.  Last year we had the problem in that we just weren’t organized.  People were just taking whatever tasks they wanted, which left some areas with way more people than they needed, and some weren’t covered at all.  We ran a far smoother ship this year.  On the other hand… yeah.  Everyone was doing at least 2-3 different jobs.  FWhich, considering I was supposed to be doing this on a volunteer basis was a bit much.  I am really, really glad my employer was one of the sponsors of the event, because if they didn’t bend the rules and let me take care of this stuff on work time, I never would have been able to get through it.  We desperately needed another 2-3 people joining us on this project, just to take the load off of us.  I burnt out on it a couple of weeks before it actually started, and I can’t imagine I was the only one.

I’ve handled finances before for a wide variety of projects.  This was the first time that I’ve done so with a committee that wasn’t run by people with a lot of business/project management experience, however.  And that flipped things way the hell on its head.  One of the first things I learned this year is that I had to play the finances really close to the chest.  Money’s a powerful thing.  Money can change people.  Last year’s festival, we built it up from scratch.  This year’s festival, we had resources.  And that stuck in people’s heads.  I don’t normally like to keep people in the dark about what we’re able to do, but I had to this year.  Basically myself and the board of the festival’s parent organization were the only ones with a complete idea of the budget, everyone else had to be kept mostly in the dark.  Which, honestly ended up working out rather well.  The board was relatively flexible to what people wanted, but it did mean that they had to work out reasonable costs, what they think they could get approved rather than spending all of the money forever.  Things actually worked a bit more smoothly the less people knew of the total budget, which was quite the opposite of what I thought would actually happen.

Marketing was probably the biggest responsibility leading up to the festival, at least on my plate.  I was getting word out there pretty much every way I could think of.  The most effective marketing ended up coming from a pretty surprising source, however.  We got our program guides printed a week earlier than I expected, so I decided to use the extra time and get those out there with all the rest of the material.  And that probably got more people there than anyone else.  Everywhere I dropped them off with ran out.  Everyone I talked to about the festival left with a program.  I barely had enough for the festival itself.  It makes sense, telling people they can watch some cool films is one thing, but telling them they can watch these cool films is another.  Still, printing the programs was one of our biggest expenses, and I had thought that dollar for dollar, we’d be getting more worth elsewhere.  Nope, the festival programs probably brought in more people than any 3-4 marketing techniques combined.    Newspaper, radio, online ads, none of that worked so well as talking to people and handing them little pieces of paper stapled together.  Who knew.

One big revelation that I had already kind of suspected: the place I live is full of uncultured boors!  One thing that really seemed odd to me is that a lot of people wanted to live in the type of place that has a film festival more than they actually wanted to go to a film festival.  We’re still not big enough to be able to run the whole event off of our profits, so we have a lot of community groups and organizations providing grants and sponsorships, simply because they want the festival.  I sent all of them free festival passes as a thank you.  Not one of them got used.  And I should have expected it, but most of the locals were really only interested in films that affected them.  The two screenings I considered to be the best, most powerful ones were also the least attended.  The ones with the highest attendance were generally lighter, more surface-level stuff that were either made by local filmmakers with lots of connections or were made about local matters.

New Eden Page 6: Lost Time Edition

This week is shaping up to be a rough one for me, so until I find the time to give you something more substantial, what say we take advantage of work I’ve already done for content?  And our first real look at the game at the center of our story, New Life!  So exciting!

New Eden Page 6

Transcript:

Panel 1: This is interesting.

Panel 2: With a typical MMORPG, I’d start with character creation.

Panel 3: This one shouldn’t be any different, right?

Panel 4: No?  Do they give you a premade at first?

Panel 5: Hmm?

Panel 6: I’m not alone.

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Taking Vengeance in Dark Souls

Last time, on Aether Crushes Dark Souls Beneath His Heel, we took on Anor Londo, one of the more famous locations in the game, which is quite a testament to its design, considering this is like thirty hour in. Usually, the more well-known places tend to be early on in the game. Anyways, we took on hordes of the Dark Knights’ slightly lamer cousins, wrestled with giants, fought through demons, and none of them could stop us. We made our way through this castle-church thing, with the tons of enemies arrayed against us, barely able to slow us down. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty good about our progress. We’ve been going through the game slowly, but we’ve been absolutely indomitable. We’ve always been making progress. We haven’t faced a challenge that took more than a few tries to overcome since way, way back with the Capra Demon. In the time since, we have become truly mighty. Is there anything left in Lordran that can stop us?! Is there anything more in this game that can meet my challenge?! Or have we left all the difficulty that Dark Souls is famous for behind?

Those who have played the game before are probably laughing at me now. They know what’s coming next. For the rest of us… well, let’s just keep our innocence for now.

So, last time, we had capped off by slaying the fearsome titanite demon and heading up into a staircase into the unknown. Well, the unknown is actually a massive room. An entry hall of some sort, sized so that even the giants that apparently once called this place home could stand tenfold on each other’s shoulders and still not reach the top. You could hold air shows in this place. It’s huge, and there’s no way to really do it justice via screencaps. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.

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I take stock of the place. For all its size, it’s still mostly empty. There’s another one of the Silver Knights across the way, and two ornately-dressed, giant sentinels on the floor. None of them seem to have noticed me. There’s a staircase leading down and another leading up from my current position. The one leading up seems to take me to a walkway around all the enemies, so I take that first. The walkway leads me by a broken window that gives me access to a section of roof. It has some dropoffs and seems to be a one-way trip, so I ignore it for now. I follow the walkway along to the other side. I hear a sound, a somewhat familiar sound of metal on metal. I’m not sure what exactly it is, but it keeps coming rhythmically, growing louder as I approach a opening in the wall.

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The opening leads to a staircase down, which I take, as that noise grows ever louder. I spy this giant figure below. It’s him who makes that noise, metal impacting against metal, over and over and over again. Whatever he’s doing, his attention is solely focused on his work. Slowly, I continue descending. On top of that sound, there’s blood! So much blood! Smeared on the floors, the walls, streaks of it everywhere! What exactly…

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New Eden-Page 5: SPLASH PAGE!

New Eden Page 5

This one was harder to take a picture of than draw, apparently.  That says ‘New Life’ there.  That’s the name of that VR game.  Considered calling it New Eden, after the title of work, but New Life was more what the character who created it would have called it, for reasons that will someday be apparent if I ever get off my butt and start posting more of these, so there you go.

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Can It Carry That Weight? A spoiler-lite review of The Walking Dead, Season 2

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Man, Season 1 of the Walking Dead came out of nowhere. Telltale Games had been cranking out licensed adventure games for nearly a decade by that point, and had yet to produce anything that wasn’t completely missable if you weren’t already a fan of the source material. But still, they kept trucking along, spending their days being as inconsequential as possible, then all of a sudden, BAM! Game of the Year. Telltale had a certain reputation, one that didn’t exactly speak to great quality, when all of a sudden they’re leading the pack? That wasn’t the only thing odd about the situation, though. Most of those Game of the Year awards go to whichever games have the most polished shootbanging, the smoothest swordhitting, or the most detailed gutsmashing. The Walking Dead, however, while it did have you shoot some bangs, was notable mostly because of the quality of its storytelling. This was a game that, rather than wow you with detailed mechanics or shiny graphics or complex systems, simply made you sad, but so glad that it did. The Walking Dead delivered the kind of videogame storytelling those plot-first players like me have been clamoring for for years, and executed it so powerfully that it was placed on a pedestal even higher than a lot of the more high-profile polished-to-a-gleaming-shine traditional games that were released that year. The game was definitely flawed, but it delivered such an emotional experience that so many people looked right past those mars and hailed the Walking Dead as one of the best storytelling experiences in all of vidgames.

It sold a lot. So of course there was going to be a sequel. As the game is released episodically, it was a Season 2 to the first game’s Season 1. Nobody was surprised at its announcement. Nobody had expected it not to come. The only question was if it was going to be a worthy follow up to the deep, powerful experience that was The Walking Dead, Season 1. Well, the final episode of Season 2 dropped last week. I finished it all up yesterday. The answer to that question ended up being a bit more complicated than I had expected. What do you say we go through it here?

The biggest question we probably have to address first would be “Is Season 2 as good as Season 1?” No. It’s just not. Which isn’t surprising. Season 1 left some mighty big shoes to fill, and it would take a lot to reach or surpass it. “Is Season 2 good?” would probably be a better question, and one I’ll try to answer here. My feelings on it are complicated. The game’s certainly a lot worse than it had to be. It seems to take the foundation Season 1 laid out, and build on it in all the wrong directions. So we end up with a house that has all of its walls sideways and looks like a design student just vomited all over the blueprints. But you know what? It had some good parts going for it too. The house is still liveable, and has a few bits here and there that make it worth keeping around.

So, if someone were to ask me to sum up the biggest difference between Season 1 and Season 2, I’d point to the writing staff. Season 1 had three writers contributing towards various episodes, two of whom had been writing for Telltale for years, and one of whom is an accomplished screenwriter. Season 2 has five writers, but only one of them has any sort of significant writing credits earlier than 2013. All the other writers, including the lead, seem to have been broken in either with the Walking Dead Season 1’s lackluster DLC, or with their previous game, the Wolf Among Us. The Walking Dead should be Telltale’s showcase series, yet they handed the writing duties, that which the game is most known for, to a bunch of newbies, and it shows so much in the final product.

To sum things up nicely, the writing in Episodes 1-3 is sloppy, Episode 4 brings in a much more experienced storyteller and ends up being the strongest one and the only episode that reaches the quality of Season 1, and Episode 5 really feels like a first draft but has a powerful (yet likely very divisive) ending that, to me, made it all worth it.

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In Season 2, you play as Clementine, the Player Character of Season 1’s surrogate daughter, grown up a couple years to a hale and hardcore 11-year old trying to stay alive in the zombie apocalypse. The zombies in all mediums of the Walking Dead are fairly generic, operating by only one or two non-typical rules, but the big thing that makes The Walking Dead what it is are how the people act. In this world, zombies are pretty much just an environmental hazard, it’s the humans that are most dangerous. The breakdown of society and the difficulty of getting resources makes humans infinitely more unpredictable and dangerous than the zombies are, and the big reason that no form of society can be reestablished is that people just can’t trust each other anymore. That’s the setting you have to deal with, that’s what you have to guide Clementine to survival through.

Just because the writers are new, doesn’t mean they don’t have guts, and they make a fair number of bold changes to the Season 1 formula. Most of them don’t really work out, though. One of them that does, though, is the switch in focus on what feelings the game invokes. Season 1 made me feel so sad. It’s a hard world, with a lot of hard choices, and each one I make leaves me worse of than before. Season 2, on the other hand, made me feel like a dirtbag. You join Clementine in a world much devolved, if possible, from the situation in Season 1 two years before, where it’s almost impossible to make do without harming others. You’re posed with choices in the game, but there’s nothing good to come out of them, and the most you can affect is who the bad comes down on or whether the bad is your fault or not. I tend to try and immerse myself in the narrative, and that made me really uncomfortable this time, but it definitely added to the experience as a whole and with some of those wicked choices, I really did deserve to feel like a dirtbag.

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I don’t know whether it’s because the writers are inexperienced, or there was a deliberate decision towards this effect, but the way the player’s choices are handled in Season 2 works a lot differently than in Season 1. Choices were a big thing in the Walking Dead. One may say that they’re one of the major factors making the game’s story as powerful as it was. One of the biggest criticisms of Season 1, however, was that a lot of the choices were simply illusory, that they didn’t really have much of an impact on the story. Season 2 seems to have corrected that by removing the illusion of choice. Oh, you’ll still be making the hard choices. It’s just that only a few of them actually make a difference beyond the next scene. Season 2 invalidates your choices all over the place, often right after you make them. Do you remember that scene at the end of Episode 1 of the Walking Dead’s Season 1, where you had two characters who were both in trouble, and only enough time to save one? That was a huge wake up call. It set the tone for the rest of the season, and let you know exactly the gravity your choices would have. Moreover, it had real impact. One character would die, and the one you saved played a significant part in the next couple of episodes. Season 2 does the same thing, except it turns out a bit differently. You have Character X and Character Y both in danger, and you can only save one of them. If you save Character X, he lives and Character Y dies immediately. If you save Character Y, Character X lives and Character Y dies anyways in the first act of Episode 2. And that’s one of the lucky few that actually matters at all. There are far more that are just invalidated as soon as they’re made. For example, there’s one choice regarding whether or not to have Clementine admit to something she did. No matter what you choose, one of your group will just interrupt you before you can speak and take the blame for you. There’s one part where a member of your group is downed in a firefight, and Luke is providing covering fire while you attempt to get behind a wall. You can choose to take that member with you. If you do, both of you make it behind cover and Luke gets shot in the leg. If you don’t, Luke goes out to get that member, and gets shot in the leg. Either way, it never gets called back to again. There’s a couple of times where you can keep a character from getting killed. If you do, they’ll never talk in cutscenes afterwards, and they’ll barely have any speaking lines outside of them. Even the most seemingly meaningless choices in Season 1 had at least some play with how the other characters viewed you, but there’s none of that here in Season 2. I know it’s really, really complicated to actually create a branching narrative, but you could have at least tried, right? There doesn’t seem to be any effort towards that end here.

Another difference is that the game is a lot more linear, here. Season 1 was very well on its tracks, but it still had moments where you could stop, figure out puzzles, chat with your group members, and get more background on everything. This had huge impacts on the game. For one, having the opportunity to be challenged, to have to figure out how to get through situations, to get a chance to explore a small part of the world you found yourself in; it brought you more into the world, made it feel more real, and helped with that all-important immersion. For another, this is how you got most of your characterization out of the game. For such a character-driven experience, that’s absolutely vital. You were given a list of subjects you could go through, leading to a fairly broad conversation with most characters several times per episode. Season 2 doesn’t have much of that. It’s all just playing from one cutscene to another. Occasionally, you might be called upon to actually do something, but whatever it is will be incredibly straightforward and won’t give you much opportunity for conversation or deviation. The few times you do get to talk with people, they’ll have a single things to say, and you don’t get to go through the conversation trees that were so good last time. The game definitely loses something for that. I was never as close with most of the characters as I was last time around, nor did I ever feel like I was as much a part of this narrative.

The episodic nature is definitely not helping this game. It’s not an episodic game, even though it’s sold as if it is. Season 1 was episodic. Each episode had a well-defined arc, a story that began, built up, and resolved, all while creating an arc over the season as a whole. Season 2 on the other hand has two well-defined arcs, one lasting from ep. 1 to ep. 3, and the other building from ep. 2 to the final episode. Breaking things up into episodes just had the effect of making those arcs feel a bit more disjointed, and the blind insistence on always ending arcs on massive cliffhangers is simply sloppy and offensive.

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Honestly, that’s not to say it’s a bad game. I didn’t hate my time with the first three episodes, and the package is worth it for the last two alone. I just feel that the experience as a whole is sloppy, and made a lot worse than it needs to be by some really odd design decisions. The writing and story is still a cut above that in most games, and starts approaching the quality of Season 1 in the penultimate episode, although it never really reaches the previously established heights. They do do some interesting things with the plot and characters. They did a really good job of making me hate people then turn around and actually like them after a simple, honest apology. They’ve got something going here, and Season 2 is definitely worth your time. Just be aware it’s starting to look like we’re slipping back into old Telltale, not the storytelling renaissance we expected after Season 1 came out.

Those Left Behind: The Lefties of Video Games, Part III

So, while writing my last post outlining the Southpaws of the Video Games world, I ended up with more characters than I had time.  So here’s the long-awaited follow-up to part 1 and part 2 of our thrilling series highlighting members of one of the most underappreciated groups in video games, the mighty Southpaw.  Tracking down left-handed characters in games is a lot harder than one might think, largely due to how scarce we are, but I believe that with the completion of this list, combined with the other two, I’ve almost exhausted all the lefty characters in video games.  Got any I missed?  You know where the comment field is.

Phoenix Wright-Ace Attorney Series

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Here’s one that’s never officially been determined, but it really does seem likely to me.  Phoenix Wright’s pointer finger is legendary.  Tell a lie in court, and it’s coming straight for you.  And it’s always his left finger, too.  Moreover, whenever you see him manipulating anything, usually his papers, he’s holding it in his left hand.  And his left arm’s used a lot more often than his right in official art.  So I’m calling it.  Phoenix may be stuck in the closet, but he’s still a member of the Southpaw Crew.

Makes total sense, as Phoenix Wright is one of the few defense attorneys able to carve out any sort of winning career in a courtroom heavily biased towards the contribution.  Of course, that is largely due to the fact that almost all of his clients are indeed innocent, but the fact that he’s left-handed and therefore part of a long history of outmaneuvering the rest of the population certainly plays a part.

Ice Climbers-Ice Climbers, Smash Bros.

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Much like lefties as a whole, the Ice Climbers are vastly unappreciated.  They haven’t had a game of their own for almost thirty years, their stages tend to be a bit more poorly designed than most in Smash Bros., and even as Smash fighters themselves, they’re a bit of an odd duck.  They don’t have the raw attributes of some of the other characters, so they really need practice and study to be able to use effectively.

Still, though, considering how smoothly they went from smacking down icicles and ceiling tiles to pounding Bowser into the pavement, you know they have to have some game.  And it’s all in their left hands.  It’s their left-handedness that gives these former benign glacier scalers the power to hang with the worst of all of Nintendo’s canons.

Bowser Jr.-Various Mario Games

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So, the Mario universe is really inconsistent about the handedness of their characters, but Jr. here seems to be a lefty more often than not.  He paints left-handed, plays baseball left-handed, chucks enemies at you left-handed, etc.  He’s a significant pain to deal with, and his handedness only makes him more effective at causing you trouble.

Yoshimitsu-Tekken

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Back in the day, I used to think that the Tekken Yoshimitsu and the Soul Calibur Yoshimitsu were the same character, displaced by time.  The fact that SC Yoshi was a filthy right-hander was what clued me in that this wasn’t the case.  Anyways, Yoshimitsu is pretty much what Robin Hood would be if he were a ninja from space.  He’s one of the most honorable and effective characters in the game, and has proven popular enough to be a part of every entry in the series save one.  And that one entry is pretty darn bad.  Coincidence?  I’ll let you decide.

Isaac-Golden Sun

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When everything starts crumbling all around you, of course people will look to the nearest southpaw to lead them through the storm.  That’s just basic survival instinct.  You latch on to the smartest, strongest, and most skillful person available to see you through, and a preference for the left hand is one of the clearest signs of those traits there is.  So it is that everyone counts on Isaac to lead the group fighting against allowing the terrible power of Alchemy back into the land.  And a good call that is.  Isaac is one of the most talented combatants on the team, being well-versed in physical attacks while still having enough skill with Psynergy to fill in as a caster in a pinch.  And sure, Isaac may have made the wrong call in being convinced that Alchemy is necessarily a bad thing before taking the whole picture into account, but Golden Sun is still a net gain for lefties, largely because of…

Felix-Golden Sun

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So, as it turns out, Alchemy in Golden Sun is a necessary thing.  In fact, it’s the only force that can avert the eventual self-destruction of the world.  It’s dangerous if misused, however, and people are scared of it.  They need someone to drag them kicking and screaming into the age of alchemy, to save their own lives.  They need someone bold.  They need someone wise.  They need someone left-handed.

For the second half of the game, Felix leads the team trying to bring Alchemy back to the world.  He knows what’s up, he knows what needs to be done, and he’s not afraid to do whatever it takes.  Obviously, as a left-hander, he’s just as skilled in a fight as Isaac, and is well poised to bring his world into the new age.

Shion Uzuki-Xenosaga

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Shion’s a scientist.  In a video game.  I know, I know, Gordon Freeman aside, that’s usually a recipe for a quick and dirty death, but Shion manages to stick it out, thanks to her experimental android, her unusual weapon, and the might of that left hand.  She may not be the most useful party member, but her ether abilities do keep her afloat well enough to suitably lead the party through the first entry in the Xenosaga, and keep her relevant afterwards.

Angelo-Dragon Quest VIII

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Angelo is a skirt-chasing, hard-drinking, gambling swordsman.  The fact that he rises so far in the Templar Knights even with all his vices is a testament to how much his natural skill as a left-handed warrior places him above the rest.  He outperforms the rest of his kind in their darkest hour, and proves himself to be one of the most versatile members of your party.  Seriously, he’s able to do anything well, his natural handedness lending itself well to quite a variety of weapons and spells.  In fact, some may even say the game never truly begins until the southpaw swordsman joins your crew.

Marisa-Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

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In the 2-d Fire Emblem games, people’s handedness was all over the place, thanks to sprite-mirroring.  Marisa was one of the few who ever made a point of their preference, and she’s very clear on that front; she’s a lefty.  A first-class Myrmidon, she’s very dedicated to the art of the sword, going so far as to sleep on her right side to always have her weapon hand available.  In most of her endings, she ends up as one of the best swordsmen in the land, stoppable by no man.  Of course, her southpaw nature only serves to give her the edge against anyone who dares face her.

Miriel-Fire Emblem Awakening

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As you can tell just by looking at her, Miriel’s one of the smartest people in the Shepherds.  Sure, that image gives lots of traditional signs of intelligence: the book, the glasses, the superior and distant gaze, but the biggest indicator?  That’d have to be that she prefers her left hand.  A perfectionist, Miriel demands much of those around her, yet her performance in combat makes her fastidiousness worth it.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Yuri Lowell-Tales of Vesperia

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Yuri’s actually fairly ambidextrous, switching his swords between hands as his combos and moves require.  He does seem to have a definite preference for his left hand, though.  He was probably born left-handed, but, as a common fate for lefties in a Right Power world, he was forced to adapt and learn to use his right as well to utilize stuff like school desks and scissors and notebooks and things like that.  Tales games usually deconstruct a common aspect of modern day storytelling over their runtimes and in Vesperia’s case, it’s all about breaking down the contemporary anti-hero, a role Yuri fills well.  Having a clear dark side, Yuri’s not afraid to just ice the villains the justice system can’t touch.  Perhaps his sinister handedness provides a window into his sinister nature as well?

Super Mac-Super Punch Out

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Nintendo’s been really cagey on whether this guy is actually Little Mac or not.  The character’s just as cagey about which hand he prefers.  Unlike Yuri, who’s mostly ambidextrous, Mac here seems to be a clear case of mixed dominance, preferring to use different hands for different tasks.  In the boxing ring, his left jab is his fastest and far most reliable attack, and probably the sole reason why he’s able to take down foes far larger and stronger than he.  He also leads in with his left for his Super Body Blows, but the Super uppercuts are done with his right.


And thus, we end.  Thirty-five characters, three posts worth, and we’ve gone through all the left-handed characters in the games I’ve played.  Are there more?  There might well be.  I haven’t quite played all the games in the world just yet.  I’d posit you’d be really hard pressed to find any, however.  So here, between these three posts, we may well have the most comprehensive list of southpaws in video games on the internet.

One thing that’s still really odd to me though.  Thirty-five characters, I’ve found, and only one, Doomguy, was brainborn outside of Japan.  Seriously, what’s up with that?  Is Japan the one place free of persecution against lefties?  I might have to be making a visit there, sometime soon…

Laying Siege In Dark Souls

Wow, it’s been a while since I had myself some Dark Souls adventures. Well, last time on Oh My God How Long Can I Keep This Going, we had a bunch of trouble with some imaginary people in a fake world, then met a beautiful woman who didn’t want anything to do with us.  Because of this, we jumped off a cliff.  Somehow that led us back to the real world. So now, rather than barely being able to handle the Painted World of Ariamis, we’re up against the rest of the famed Anor Londo, city of the gods. Will we be barely able to handle this one, or are we doomed to a life of failure and hollowness? Read on to find out!

dark souls anor londo

Leaving from the entrance to the Painted World of Ariamis puts us pretty much exactly where we left off; at the foot of this chapel. I don’t get a really good screencap of it, but all this is built really high off of the ground. Good thing I’m not afraid of heights. I would be, but after the first couple hundred times you come back from the dead, the more pedestrian ways of dying kind of start losing their sting. Of particular note, you can see some bat-wing demons, those spindly little pale creatures, perched gargoyle-like to each side of the staircase. They’re the same creatures that brought me here from Sen’s Fortress, except these ones seem armed. I’m wary of them, but they don’t make a move as I head by. Either they’re as docile as the ones that served as my transport earlier, or I’m just not within their sphere of aggression.

dark souls anor londo stairs

Interesting thing to note about these stairs, they come in two sizes. Suggests there’s two sizes of people that visited this place. One relatively human-sized, much like me, the other some sort of giant.

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Like these guys. Two sentinels guarding the entrance to this place. I got my practice in against them near the entrance to Anor Londo, so I don’t expect these guys to pose much challenge. Well, as long as I can keep the fight one-on-one. I’m still not crazy enough to be facing these guys en masse yet.

Fun thing I quickly discover, if you lure a sentinel far enough down the staircase, they’ll hit a point where they just start backing up to their original position, ignoring everything else up to and including the Best Chosen One slipping behind them and taking them on from their unguarded rears. If you don’t think I abuse this… well, you clearly haven’t read the earliest posts in this series.

dark souls bat wing demon

I spy one of the bat wing demons lurking behind this door, seemingly trying to get at me. I guess it was too much to hope that they wouldn’t hate me just because they took the time to bring me here. Don’t know why I’m surprised. This is Lordran, everything and everyone hates me. Comes part and parcel with the undead curse. The more you die, the more likely you are to go hollow, and those already hollow, well, they’d love to have more of their own. Given how much I’ve fallen in this pursuit of becoming the Best Chosen One, it’s a wonder I’ve stayed as sane as I have. Anyways, lending further credence to my ‘humans and giants coexist here’ theory, this gate is built to accommodate to size. As a whole, it opens large enough to fit beings of a grand stature through, but it also has a little doggie door for those of my height built in. Hmm… ‘doggie door’ seems exceptionally fitting, the way this is built. Makes one wonder how relation between the two races was shaped.

dark souls anor londo sized doors

In any case, this gate is locked from the other side, and my big beefy arms are just too large to reach to the lock through the bars.  The main doorway into the chapel is solidly locked as well. The gate to the right of the doorway is wide open, however, and it’s through that I venture forth.

dark souls anor londo bat wing demon fight

It’s through that path that I finally come face to face with those demons. They… well, they’re very different opponents. They’ve got some tricks in them. They’re quick and jumpy and somewhat hard to hit and they have a habit of sneaking around corners when they go aggro unbeknownst to me so I end up fighting groups when I was trying to take them on one by one. They have electric spears, too, meaning I can’t entirely block their damage. They also slide backwards when they’re hit, so I can’t get more than one blow in at a time unless I’ve got them cornered. All these tricks makes them incredibly difficult to fight. I swing my Black Knight Sword low, so they often fly right over my attacks before punishing me for them. They’re too fast to be using pyromancy efficiently. And with how much they move, it’s hard to find an opening. Once I learn they’re moves, though, they end up pretty much being cake. Spears don’t actually have a whole lot of flexibility to them; like an inexperienced jock on prom night, all they can do is thrust. When you know what to expect, it’s not too much trouble to slip past their attack and strike out with your own. My favorite thing to do is to fight them up against a ledge. Since they slide back when hit, it doesn’t take much to fill the abyss below with their corpses. Continue reading