Posts tagged #editorial

Diary of a Dark Souls Dad: Day 1, part 2


I watch as the opening cinematic plays out in all its splendour on my plasma and the 5.1 sound system. I dim the lights a little, enjoying the moment. I only get to see it for the first time once, after all. I’m shocked as the game begins, dumping me onto a dais and letting me walk around.

There’s a grassy field, and with the wind blowing and my feet rustling in the brush I swear I can hear other sounds, other things making noise in there with me. I need to keep moving.

There’s a glow from a hut up ahead, so I head there. Ah, there it is. The character creation screen comes up, and I make my choices. The UI looks different from Dark Souls, and it’s initially jarring. There’s a lot more customization possible this time around, and I take my time making my character look right. Well, close enough anyway.

I choose the Warrior class, because I’d like to focus on melee, and you need lots of  Strength to even wield the weapons I’m thinking of. I can always build another character later. A Sorcerer, probably.

I choose the Ring of extra HP as my starting gift. The other ones look either useless, or consumable. I’d rather not take a gift that I’ll just use up right away.

When you exit the character creation hut, there’s the first bonfire. If you continue out of there, you get to an area with multiple branching paths, and fog doors on every side. In my mind, fog doors equals bad scary bosses on the other side, and even though that’s not always the case, I didn’t feel like checking it out just yet. So I ran through, and if you do that, you get to Majula.

I think I found a bug. If you go straight to Majula without opening any of the fog doors in the previous area, talk to everybody and collect all the loot, if you then go back to the previous area and go through the fog doors and clear the area, when you go back to Majula the loot will be there again, and you can collect it again. At least that’s what happened to me. I did not look that gift horse in the mouth, let me tell you. I took it all!

Majula is a sunny place. It’s bright, it’s open, it overlooks the sea. There’s a monument there, which at its base has a plaque listing the number of worldwide deaths in Dark Souls 2 so far. When I checked it around noon Eastern on launch day, it was already at 300k something deaths. I contributed a few to that number.

Majula also is home to three of the most vicious, hateful, violent little groundhogs that I’ve ever seen. Since I had run straight there without doing any of what is ostensibly the tutorial area of the game, I had only my starting gear with me. My weapon was a broken straight sword, and those groundhogs have a ton of health! I could only do 10 damage with each attack, and I really though the three of them were going to surround me and paw and kick me to death. Seriously. Judging from all the bloodstains around there I think those groundhogs did some serious damage on Day 1.

I managed to get 5 hours of play time, and I’ve reached the first boss and fought him twice without success. Along the way I picked up a few weapons, and bought an Estoc for some stabby stab action.

I spent a fair bit of time going through the ‘tutorial’ area, and after clearing all the different sections, it came down to the final area with creatures in it, down by the beach. There are two rather nasty cyclops / hippo / rhino looking dudes down there, who won’t think twice about picking you up and chewing on you. They’re very strong and I wasn’t successful in killing them. There’s a coffin / boat on the shore where they’re standing, and I managed to get inside of it and lie down and close the lid over top of me. The screen changed to a loading screen, the ones where they tell you tips about different items in the game, and then it went back to the same location, but with me exiting the coffin boat. At which point the two dudes promptly killed me. I’ll give you a little hint: if you want those guys to leave the beach, try lighting some fires. I won’t say what the coffin boat does, you’ll have to figure that out on your own. Let’s just say it’s a subtle change.

A note about the Black Armour Edition equipment: it’s cool looking, but be careful, some of it is fragile. I learned this the hard way after placing my summon sign down, getting pulled into someone’s world, and equipping the Amber sword, I believe, and then having it break while fighting the boss on the roof. Unable to switch swords while in combat with the boss, I was useless and died.

Day 1 has been, all in all, wonderful. It’s everything I have been looking forward to, and the world seems huge. I won’t be able to play for a few days, as other obligations are competing for my gaming time (you know, like family, March Break, and work). I’ll put more thoughts down as I play. Until then, Dad out.

Posted on March 12, 2014 and filed under Article.

Diary of a Dark Souls Dad: Day 1, part 1

10:00AM. It’s March Break, so that means the kids are off. Today they’re heading over to grandma’s house, which is about a 15 minute walk. I feel like walking, but my youngest isn’t really in the mood. I really want to walk, not only because it’s warm out (6C in what’s been a very cold March), but because on the way between our place and grandma’s is the video game store where I placed my pre-order for Dark Souls II, and I’d really like to pass by and pick it up on my way home.

She is convinced to go as long as she can take the scooter. The plan is a go.

10:30AM. I step into the video game store. I know that it is this time because I looked at my phone when I crossed the threshold.

“Oh, you guys are open,” I say, knowing full well that 10:30AM is the stated opening time, but that sometimes they arrive late. Not today. “Did Dark Souls II come in yet?”

The man behind the counter nods. His name is Sam. He pulls out a copy of the game, and puts it on the counter. There’s a problem. “Is that the regular version?” I ask, “because I saw on your Facebook page that all pre-orders had been upped to the Black Armour editions. Can you check?”

Sam doesn’t know. He picks up the phone and makes a call. “Yeah, hi. I’ve got a customer here…”

I move to the display case of PS3 games, letting him make his call in relative privacy. I’m looking for a few titles to build my new collection. I’ve had the PS3 for less than a week now, and I have a lot of catching up to do. There’s a copy of Ni No Kuni on the shelf for $15. I’m taking it.

Sam gets off the phone. “Yep, you’re right. What’s your name?” He checks my name and number on the list, and crosses me off. The steel book Black Armour Edition of Dark Souls II and a used copy of Ni No Kuni are paid for and in my hot little hands.

10:37AM. I tweet “Dark Souls 2 get! I might just skip all the way home!”

10:45AM. I arrive home. There are some things I need to do before I can begin my gaming session. The dishes from breakfast won’t wash themselves, and I know it. Once I get started, I plan to go until the kids get home in the afternoon, so I can’t have dirty dishes lying around.

11:12AM. I head downstairs. The game feels heavy in my hands, a pleasing weighty case. As the PS3 powers up, I take off the plastic wrap and admire the art on the sleeve. The steel book is even more impressive out of the sleeve, as the front is raised and textured. I open the case, and the installation begins. A small 125MB patch is downloading, and then it installs.

11:26AM. I’m in.

Posted on March 12, 2014 and filed under Article.

Underestimate Nintendo at your peril

Bowser mario super sluggers

Kristan Reed at

On the basis of what it has shown to the world to date, there are lots of reasons for Nintendo to be cheerful. For a start, it's the only gaming system that can adequately combine legacy controls, with the modern touch, tilt and swipe controls of tablets and smartphones.

While Microsoft has the intriguing SmartGlass concept ready as a spoiler, and Sony has plans of its own by integrating the PS Vita more closely with the PS3, both present users (and developers) with plenty of issues.

SmartGlass might well offer users a useful touchscreen to browse maps and the like, but it's an either/or solution - you'll have to put down the controller to access it.Using a PS Vita as a controller for the PS3 (and potential second screen) has the greatest spoiler potential, but the installed base is so low, who's going to develop for it? Hardly anyone. As ever, it comes down to whatever the lowest common denominator is. Always.

With the Wii U, the presence of the tablet with its integrated physical controls means that every developer has free reign to make use of both the analogue sticks and buttons, as well as calling upon the touch, tilt and even the camera functionality should they wish.

In the right hands the Wii U has the potential to deliver the kinds of new games that any next generation system should have, and many of the minigames within the bundled NintendoLand already demonstrate that.

… As ever, you underestimate Nintendo at your peril.

For those that deride the Wii U and point to the Vita or SmartGlass and say, "oh yeah, well we have that feature too", let's remember something. There's a difference between having a feature as a check box, and having a feature that people actually create games for. Tech demos are nice, but what games have been announced? When will the functionality ship? What will it really cost? Can I get a PS3 and a Vita for $350? or an xbox 360 and a tablet?

I think Nintendo has a sleeper hit on its hands, and if pre-orders are any indication, people are taking notice.

Posted on September 19, 2012 and filed under Article.