Going a Little Hollow in Dark Souls

Last time, on Aether’s Adventures in Public Humiliation, we died. A lot. To a single boss. But eventually, because we are absolutely indomitable, we triumphed. And then we did a little dance.

Defeating the Capra Demon has done one very important thing. It’s let me level my strength up to 20. Of course, that number probably doesn’t mean anything to you, but it means the world to me. Do you remember way back in the first entry, when I spent like two hours straight ramming my head against the Black Knight? Do you remember how glorious it was when I finally defeated him? Do you remember what I said then?

As a reward, I get a titanite shard, of which I already have several and have no clue what they do, a ring that boosts my defense when my health is low, and the dark knight’s sword.  And it is a glorious blade.  The scimitar I’ve been using all game, the one I’ve been one-shotting hollows with?  That has an attack rating of 80.  This one has an attack of 220.  Almost three times as much as my current sword.  However, the requirements for using it, both strength and dexterity, are quite high.  I meet the dexterity requirement easily, but it needs twice as much strength to use it than I currently have.  My most glorious prize, from my most glorious conquest, and right now it is naught more than a trophy.  I equip it anyway, and try a few practice swings.  My character flails around like a wiener.  I really hope I wasn’t showing up as a ghost in somebody else’s game right now.

I start putting some more points in strength immediately.  This may not be the most optimal setup for my character, but I worked hard for this sword and I’m damn sure going to use it.

Guess what, ladies.


Oh yes.

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I Will Never Quit at Dark Souls

Last time on Aether Dies a Lot in Dark Souls, we… actually didn’t die all that much. Turns out I’m pretty badassed! Who knew! We absolutely conquered the Undead Parish, cheated against most of the minibosses they threw at us, tried interacting with our fellow players to absolutely no end result, and rang one of the two magic bells that we need to ring for reasons that are certain to be almost valid! That was a pretty productive entry! Although wow, has it really been a month since I posted the last one? I need to kick these out faster.


After ringing the bell, we head back down the belltower. There’s this guy, here. And yes, he stands like that the whole time I’m talking to him. Dude apparently heard the bell ringing then decided to move in to the base of the tower and ask for a hug. He offers to forgive me of my sins, for a price. Obviously, I am the Best Chosen One and don’t have any sins, so I don’t have much use for that, but he also sells a few things. I don’t have the money or use for most of them, but I do buy some purging stones, which cure curses, because the internet tells me that curses in this game are about the worst things ever. As you probably know, I hate things that are bad, so I stock up now.

Heading back downstairs, I come to a quick realization. Some eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that I got a new helmet when I killed the Gargoyles last update. Have I finally obtained a piece of solid armor that doesn’t make me look like a ninny?


Success! Oh my… I didn’t think it was actually possible! I had stopped believing, I had lost hope, but finally! Finally I can show pictures of my character without shame! I don’t have to worry about other players laughing at me when I show up as a ghost in their games! The helmet even makes the chainmail shirt look decent! Oh, happy day!

Anyways, bell is rung, I’m pretty much done with the parish, so I head back to Firelink Shrine, which is fast becoming the closest thing I have to a home base, much to my chagrin.

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Machete Don’t Review

machete kills poster

Philosophical question here.  If someone deliberately tries to make a bad movie and succeeds gloriously, have they done something good?

To understand the background for the recently released Machete Kills, you have to start a couple films ago in 2007’s Grindhouse.  The directors of the film put trailers for fake movies in between each of Grindhouse’s segments, one of which for an over-the-top parody of 70’s exploitation films starring the film industry’s biggest “That One Guy”, Danny Trejo.  I imagine director Robert Rodriguez had planned to leave it at that, but the trailer turned out to be surprisingly popular, so of course they turned it into a movie.

And a wonderful movie it was.  Freed from the standard filmmaking constraints of “making sense” and “not being totally stupid”, 2010’s Machete was a celebration of wild badassery and rampant sex, forming a modern take on the blaxploitation craze while straddling the line of parody the whole way through.  Sporting more fake blood than that weird uncle of yours on Halloween and less plot sense than the ending to Mass Effect 3, Machete was such a beautifully dumb action movie that nevertheless has some real substance behind it.

So how exactly do you follow that up?  How do you make a sequel based on a joke that’s already been told?  Well, apparently, you make Machete Kills.

The obvious thing to do when creating a sequel to something where the main selling point is just how excessive everything is would be to just push the envelope even further.  Take the dials that are already at eleven, and twist them up to 15 or so.  Get the party loud enough to where you start blowing out your neighbor’s windows.  Machete Kills, on the other hand, tones things down considerably.  It’s like the neighbor comes over and politely asks you to turn your music down, and you actually listen.  Who even does that?!

But yeah, the sequel is much less extreme than the original was.  The violence is less inventive and more restrained, the sexual content is mostly gone, and many of the traditional ‘exploitation’ elements have just been forgotten.  And honestly, that last one is probably the biggest factor dragging this movie down.  While it never stops being so self-awarely redonkulous, Machete Kills does not seem to poke as much fun at its subject matter as its predecessor did.  And when you’re not being tongue-in-cheek about many of the moments presented, it just kind of creates a bit of dissonance, like you’re expecting the viewer to take some of the craziest pieces seriously.

One of the biggest draws of the first Machete was getting name actors in the most bizarre roles, and in some senses, the casting of Machete Kills may be even better in that regard.  Obviously, Danny “I can’t believe he’s finally getting a starring role” Trejo returns as the title character, with Michelle Rodriguez and Jessica Alba also reprising their roles from the last film.  They’re joined by Charlie Sheen making a four-course meal out of the scenery as President Rathcock, Mel Gibson hamming it up as one of the primary villains, and Cuba Gooding Jr., Lady Gaga, and Antonio Banderas all showing up and having nothing to do with anything really.  But honestly, the stunt casting really works out well in this movie.  Gibson in particular seemed to be having a huge amount of fun in his role, more so than in any other movie I’ve seen him in.

All in all, Machete Kills seems to lack the spirit the original had.  They’re both stupid frenzied movies, to be sure, but the sequel doesn’t quite feel as personal as the previous one did.  The first Machete had a surprising amount of substance for what it was.  It was a movie with things to say, and while it said them by essentially screaming obscenities into a bullhorn, its content all worked well together, fitting the pieces into a very solid whole.  Machete Kills, on the other hand, seems much more disjointed and indecisive.  Events seem to happen randomly, the tone and themes vary wildly and drop easily, and there are a lot of characters and plot points that never seem to connect with the main plot.  That’s not to say there’s nothing of value here; there are a couple of smart things the movie does, particularly one where the ending connects with what seemed to be a throwaway gag in the beginning in such a major way.  But for the most part, it feels a lot like they were just throwing ideas out there and not paying attention to what actually worked together, rather than building a cohesive whole.

That’s not to say it’s a bad movie.  It’s not.  It’s alright, if you’re into action fare and don’t mind a healthy dose of deliberate stupidity.  Problem is, it’s just not as good as the first one, and since the movie seems to operate with the assumption that you’ve already watched that movie, well, why would you not just go for that instead?

Ranting ’bout Rogue Legacy


I’ve been staring at Rogue Legacy for a while trying to will myself up to playing more. I’ve dropped a good length of time into it, and I despise starting games and not finishing them. To beat the game, though, I’d have to play more of it, and that’s something I really don’t want to do. I hit a speedbump in the game, stuck on the third boss. I can think of ways that might get me through it. I could alter my runes to better suit the challenges the boss is presenting. I could grind to get my stats up. I could just keep training against the boss until I get it right. All I have to do is click the ‘Play’ button in my Steam overlay. But I don’t wanna. You can’t make me.

And it’s not like the game is meritless, either. I can see how people would have fun with this. Hell, I was having fun with it for a while. It’s got a clever concept. It’s got charm. It’s got some decent mechanics. Yet those have all worn thin on me, and I’m only halfway through the game.

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The Liebster Award 2, Revenge of the Liebster


If you’ve been rolling around the internet for a while, you may have come across the Liebster Award a couple of times.  For the uninitiated, it’s something small-time bloggers nominate each other for, seemingly as a means of getting everyone to know each other better, foster good will, all that fun stuff.  Well, Lost to the Aether was recently nominated for the Liebster Award by esteemed Filmmaker/Videogame Player/Entrepreneur/Possibly Millionaire Playboy Superhero Paul Michael Egan!  I greatly appreciate and am very honored by his nomination.  Also, if you enjoy what I’ve been doing here, it’ll likely be worth your while to check out his blog.  He’s been going through and reviewing what seems to be his entire videogame collection, and I know I’ve learned about quite a few games I’ve never even heard of since I started following his blog.

I know some of you that have been following the blog for a while might be thinking, “Now Aether, you modern day Adonis.  Didn’t you already get nominated for the Liebster by the illustrious Mental Gaming?  Is it really properly sporting of you to make a second Liebster post?”  And that’s true, we have previously gone through the whole Liebster rigamarole.  But the more observant of you in the audience might see the idea of passing up the nomination for what it truly is: absolutely no fun at all.  Turning down a nomination and the interaction with my fellow bloggers does not really strike me as being within the spirit of the award.  Besides, I’m sure that if you ask anybody who knows me, they’d all agree that I’m at least twice as Liebster as the average person.

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Rose-Tinted Gaming

I had cause to look for my old PS1 memory card recently.  Well, I had lost the card, and wanted to play a PS1 game.  That’s about about as deep as the ’cause’ goes.  Anyways, that set me looking through the house, uncovering all my old stores of games and game supplies.

I’ve got quite a few of them.  Back when I was a youngling, I tended to finance the acquisition of new consoles by trading in everything I had for the old, but every since I got my Nintendo 64, I’ve hoarded all my games and systems jealously.  Adding to that my efforts to regain the games I once had and the various old-school gifts I’ve gotten over the years, my collection now takes up several boxes, most of which currently lies in safe storage in my closet.

Breaking into those boxes brought a wave of quiet nostalgia over me.  Most of these consoles haven’t even been turned on in years, yet the craftsmanship of those days was such that I’m almost positive they all still work.  The games themselves, well, the graphics are nowhere near the level of today’s efforts, the experiences may not be as polished, and the interfaces may not be as user-friendly, but I’ve got a lot of games in that collection that still stand strong in terms of entertainment, and lots of games that have well earned their place in video game history and paved the way for today’s blockbusters.  These were boxes filled with masterpieces, untouched for so long.

It struck me then that the way I approach gaming has changed over the years.  I make my own money now, and don’t have my parents on my back, so I can both buy as many games and play for however long as I think is appropriate.  Yet, though I don’t have those limitations any more, I don’t have such strong memories for as many modern games as I do for these older ones.  Hell, I still remember where I got most of these classic games.  Donkey Kong Country, purchased used at a friend’s garage sale after saving my money up for months.  Mischief Makers, bought at the department store down the mountain, then spending the next week being almost constantly played by a friend and I.  A beat up SNES, a gift along with a Japanese copy of Shin Megami Tensei to keep me occupied for the year I spent as a full-time volunteer.  I can’t even definitively state where I got half the discs in my library, but I have such vibrant memories of most aspects of these games.

Several years ago, I was worried that I wasn’t really appreciating my games, that I had too many that I wasn’t getting the full value out of, and so set out to replay all my games in full, generation by generation.  I’ve been going strong and am currently up to the PS2/GameCube/Xbox gen, but now I’m wondering, with these games being stuck in my closet for so long, if I haven’t been working in the wrong direction.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to go play some games.