Resident Evil 2: Just What I Expected!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Resident Evil on January 27, 2019 by slateman

I’ve played a lot of Resident Evil. Barring a handful, I’ve experienced at least a little bit of almost every major title ever issued. With the first, fourth and seventh being Game of the Year victors, we’re here with another excellent entry that, who knows, could be a contender in 11 months.

The title isn’t doing anything shocking, unlike those aforementioned GotY titles. I remember RE VII just stunned me in its opening hour. But while this feel like a gorgeous re-envisioning, the comfort food is just spectacular. What is phenomenal is the sound design. Couple that with Mr. X’s approaching footsteps and it’s unnerving and uncomfortable.

I bought Red Dead Redemption 2 but didn’t love it, so I traded it in. In return I got Just Cause 4 and I didn’t love that either. Trading that in left me with RE2 and so far, I’m just loving it. See how it all turns out. So far, so good!

Game I’ve Played / GotY 2018

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Bloodborne, Castlevania, Games, Lists, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Screenshots on January 12, 2019 by slateman


Usually I split this into two postings, but alas! it’s already 2019. Today’s update will include the games I’ve played over the last year as well as the easy choice as to which was the best. The latter will be detailed on my main Games Of The Year page. I’ll separate all this into individual sections. First – Platinums! Bold words indicate a 2018 title.

Platinums 2018

  • Bloodborne
  • Burly Men At Sea
  • Castlevania: Requiem
  • God Of War
  • Guacamelee! 2
  • Lara Croft Go

Two of the PS4’s greatest exclusive games were conquered this past year. Bloodborne stays with me and I now consider it one of the greatest games ever made. That’s a different list I’ve been mulling over. I’ve written about some of the rest of these already. Moving on…

Older Titles Played in 2018

These will fall into three categories:

  1. First-time plays (not completed)
  2. First-time played/beaten
  3. Beaten again

Here we have a mix. Some are simple PS+ games, others are purchases I never cared to complete, etc. A key for easy reference is listed above.

  • Assassin’s Creed Origins
  • Bloodborne
  • Burly Men At Sea
  • Call Of Duty: WWII
  • Dark Souls III
  • Fe
  • Firewatch
  • God Of War: Chains Of Olympus
  • God Of War: Ghost Of Sparta
  • God Of War: Ascension
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational
  • Lara Croft Go
  • Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2
  • Matterfall
  • Metal Gear Solid 2
  • Nioh
  • Rayman Legends
  • Resident Evil 4
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter
  • Sky Force Anniversary
  • Ys VIII: Lacrimosa Of Dana

Due to Gothenburg’s wonderful library system, I got to borrow some pretty cool titles this past year. I quite enjoyed AC:O – would like to return to it and would also love to try its sequel. Similarly, Nioh seemed cool and I’m still chugging through Sherlock Holmes though it didn’t really inspire me like its predecessor.

Many others I tried and never really felt inspired enough to finish. Dark Souls III was fucking difficult (I later tried DS Remastered and fared better). Matterfall was a huge disappointment, particularly after Nex Machina. After beating the PS3 remasters of the two PSP God Of War games, I figured I’d try out Ascension again. And again I lost interest. Firewatch, Fe, Rayman Legends – all just hit the ‘meh’ button and never beckoned me to return.

On the other hand, a few older titles were memorable. The aforementioned Bloodborne, those two GOW games and finally beating GTAV were some of the highlights of the year. Toss on yet another replay of RE4 and my second playthrough of the underwhelming MGS2 and old titles impressed in 2018.

2018 Titles

Once again we have categories: played, beaten and platinumed, despite the redundancy of that last item.

  • Bloodstained: Curse Of The Moon
  • Burnout Paradise Remastered
  • Castlevania: Requiem
  • Chasm
  • Dark Souls Remastered
  • God Of War
  • Guacamelee! 2
  • Hollow Knight
  • Ikaruga
  • Iconoclasts
  • Just Cause 4
  • Onrush
  • Overcooked 2
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Shadow Of The Tomb Raider (Started in 2019)
  • Spider-Man
  • Spyro The Dragon: Reignited (2019 plat!)
  • Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection
  • Yoku’s Island Express (2019 plat!)

I haven’t been nearly as interested in some of these titles as I had hoped I would. I sold back RDR2 b/c I simply has zero interest in playing it. Spider-Man was probably a great game, but I didn’t feel the itch to play that either. I never beat Bloodstained and found Hollow Knight to be far less enjoyable than all the praise suggested. Just Cause 4 looks better than 3, but in so many other ways it felt like a step backwards. I’m not even listing some titles like PS+ games that I played and deleted here.

Burnout Paradise drew me back in just as it did a decade ago, Guacamelee! 2 was a fun and challenging romp but was marred by a few incredibly-difficult parts and I don’t think I’d ever go back to play it again. The first on the other hand…I would. And did! Overcooked 2 was great, but my wife and I devoured it and never touched it again. I’ve just started Yoku’s Island Express and will be finishing up JC4 in the coming weeks/months.

So, what we’re left with is the clear and easy victor. While I thought RDR2 might challenge the mighty Kratos, it didn’t even come close. God Of War’s story, gameplay, visual luster, deep and engaging lore and simple fun factor was leagues beyond anything else I played in the year (Well, Bloodborne may have the edge, I don’t know). I still haven’t a clue how Sony Santa Monica pulled it off. They took this beloved series, reinvented so much of it and made us all care about this one-dimensional killing machine. Being a father while playing it surely helped. This game is fucking legendary already and I look forward to diving in again when things slow down a bit.

Game Of The Year 2018 is an easy choice. God Of War. Now, my New IP GOTY? I don’t know that yet. Based on the limited titles I’ve played, Yoku’s Island Express wins, but that’s temporary. I feel Dead Cells or Celeste might take that crown, however, I haven’t had the opportunity to try them out yet. Let’s see what I missed below.

2018 Titles I Haven’t/Want To Play

  • A Way Out
  • Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
  • Celeste
  • Darksiders III
  • Dead Cells
  • Detroit: Become Human
  • Divinity: Original Sin 2
  • Far Cry 5
  • Mega Man 11
  • Shadow Of The Colossus
  • Tetris Effect

There are a few games I genuinely want to try out here. Unlike music, it’s not so easy to just try out everything you like and are interested in. A Way Out would be great…with a friend. Odyssey will require many hours, but I bet it’s a blast and quite the quick-and-easy opposite of something like Red Dead. Others on this list are a ‘kinda want to try’.

But the ones I must one day play: Dead Cells and Celeste. Both seem right up my alley and I think I’d just love them. They could be that coveted New IP GOTY. But…they’re a bit expensive for indie titles and I’ve been awaiting a sale to dip my toes in. Can’t wait to try them though!

Sulphur Aeon – OMFG

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Lists, Music on December 29, 2018 by slateman

This band’s last effort ranked #5 of 2015 and shocked me entirely at its outrageous heaviness, absurd speed and killer cover. Here I am, at the end of 2018, writing up my best albums of the year and I stumble upon its follow-up. And what have I here? An album that just crushes, easily surpasses its predecessor, whose cover is as nightmarish as the last and which very well could rival even my top-three of 2018. WTF?

The Scythe Of Cosmic Chaos is a grand continuation of the last masterpiece and is so goddamn heavy, it just has to bring a smile to your angry, Lovecraftian face. It’s fast, contains melodic breaks and has impeccable production. With me being so wishy-washy on the three records atop my list, it’s refreshing to have something just knock me on my ass. It may not be #1…but who knows…this album is that fucking good. \m/

Oh – and the full image of the last album…just because it’s so insanely awesome.

Just Cause 4 – Mini-Review – Disappointment

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Reviews with tags on December 27, 2018 by slateman

Just Cause 4 is out and considering how much fun I had with the second and third iterations, I just had to dive back in to see Rico’s newest adventures. Despite the poor reviews installment #3 got, I quite enjoyed the romp through the fictional environments, blowing up virtually everything and scouring the world to collect all those obscure hidden treasures and spots.

However, while JC4 fixes some of the basic issues inherent in JC3, the end result is a lackluster title, missing much of the heart and soul of what the series so fantastic. Bottom line? I’d play 3 over 4 any day – warts and all.

Let’s get the good out of the way first. This game looks good, runs smoother and more fluidly than the last and its load times have been drastically shortened. Explosions and chaos in general is still rather impressive.

With that short list covered, what remains is more of the same…except it’s sometimes less of the same. The series has never striven for realism or depth. Quite the contrary, really, and locating bases to simply reduce them to rubble was genuinely the reason I signed up. Now, there’s no specific purpose to do that. Instead, causing chaos fills a meter which leads to more squad reserves which leads to advancing your frontlines in order to unlock new supply drops. Ummm…OK. So, I can still blow shit up, right?

Sure! Except you can’t keep track of the places you blew up. And while you do so, let’s say in a helicopter, you can raze an entire base to the ground without anyone even complaining. “Enemy chopper noticed,” or some similar message is mentioned, but that’s OK. Just keep destroying the bad guy’s satellites and fuel reserves. They won’t mind. If going on foot, on the other hand, expect some serious resistance. But who cares? Rico can absorb 8,000 shots before the screen gives you warning and then you can just grapple hook elsewhere and return 4 seconds later to continue the mindless fun. There’s no reason to actually kill the baddies because they appear to just keep respawning. Oh, and those remote mines I used 90% of the time in JC3? Yeah – Inexplicably gone. Quite literally the best parts of JC3 are gone. At least they added nitro boosts and jumping abilities to boats. Maybe that evens it all out???

Missions fare no better, mind you. It’s always about flipping switches and then hacking consoles. Well, sometimes it’s about hacking consoles and then flipping switches. Oh no, sometimes it’s about driving some dude to hack some consoles and then protecting him. At least you’re not flipping switches. It’s fucking stupid – and I say that having played the barely-more-than-skin-deep JC2 and JC3. I’m sorry, sometimes it’s about blowing up generators and THEN hacking consoles. My bad for missing out on that mission diversity.

Now – of course, there’s new stuff! New grapple hook loadouts allow you to make them liftoff like MGS5 or shoot boosters. I suppose they’re nice, but their implementation, some 6 hours into this venture, are also skin-deep at best. I use them when I need to, but, perhaps b/c I’m not 14 and have all the time in the world, I find the entire system clunky and unwieldy. In this effort, I’m assuredly missing out on the game’s best features.

But one of the greatest portions about JC3’s beautiful, open world was the exploration of said world. Here, there’s literally no incentive to do so. There are no secrets or perks or hidden awesomeness. Nope…if there’s nothing on the map, then there’s literally nothing there. You could wingsuit over it for shits and giggles, but like I mentioned, there is no reason to go there. Screw it. Just load up the next shitty mission which happens to be the same as the last shitty mission. The forgettable story with forgettable setpieces and forgettable characters are there simply to move forward towards what I’m envisioning is a very non-memorable finale.

So, the final verdict is that this game takes the best parts of the prior game, relegates them to meaningless side notes, adds some weather effects that I simply don’t give a shit about and fails on about every level beside the frame-rate and load times. No remote mines, a shoddy lock-on system, no incentive to explore, weak missions and average everything else really hurts what could have been a phenomenal game. Of course, things might get oh-so-much-better in the coming hours, but given how it’s gone so far, I won’t hold my breath. Might as well just boot up JC3 instead. :(

Some screenshots forthcoming…If I care enough to upload them.

Skewb Ultimate Algorithms

Posted in Algorithms, Blog, Cubing on December 13, 2018 by slateman

I grabbed this little guy while in New York and, it being a Skewb variation, I quickly ran into troubles. Not quire sure what’s up with these friggin’ things, but my brain breaks a little bit, particularly this dumb dodecahedron. It didn’t help that after getting a few steps in, I kept getting confused by orientation and the tutorials out there leave a bit to be desired. Not knocking their content – but they’re not too organized. Anyhow, here’s my solution, which will likely require some tweaking before I forget how it’s all done. That’s kinda silly though, as it only really requires the same one algorithm all Skewbs need. R’, L, R, L’. You can reverse it (L, R’, L’, R) for step 2.

Step 1: Solve an X
This isn’t so bad, though sometimes moving an item out of the way takes a second. This should really be intuitive, but worst case, you might have the piece in the correct spot but not oriented.

If so, move it up to the opposite side. If moved to the right, rotate counter-clockwise, if on the left, CW. Then bring it down and fix the initial turn. Note, if the color you want is facing up when starting this, you’ll have to do this step twice. You can situate all four without breaking one another.

Step 2: Position remaining centers
This will swap the top and front centers as well as the left and the right. If you’re smart enough, you can plan this out. I, on the other hand, just keep bringing the top piece down to its correct spot (and messing up the rest in the process) until everything is right. Don’t worry about orientation – just getting them in the right spot. You’ll know which algorithm to use based on its upper-level orientation. If the piece you need is on the left face, start with a R’ to bring it to its position. If on the right, start with L. This takes a few tries, but it’s easy.

Step 3: Orient top-layer X
This can be a pain. Figure out the top-layer colors (here they’re pink and green) and you want there to be two on one face. In this photo these stickers are close, but it could be on the other side where they are farther apart. These can be any combination of those colors too. G,G/P,P or how it is here, one of each. You’ll put these on the left side and rotate the puzzle up so your algorithm is done adjacent to your bottom layer. Doubled algorithm this time: R’, L, R, L’ (x2).

If you have no doubles, which is likely, find one sticker you want. If it’s on the left, start with the R’ version of the algorithm and vice versa. I believe this should consistently give you a usable pair.

Step 4: Orient remaining centers
The very same algorithm will be used to rotate centers. This will flip four centers: U, F, L and R. If you only have two, you’ll be doing this algorithm twice – by fixing one and breaking three others (3+1=4).

Get the four centers U, F, L and R as mentioned and rotate up slightly. You will be performing this algorithm on a properly-oriented side as shown here. Do the same algorithm 6x. Every so often you will have four mis-oriented centers in a row and not a plus pattern. Despite having four, your goal, you still have to perform this step repeatedly. Use your intuition to figure out which to fix so to prep yourself for a proper final step.

Good luck!

Master Pyraminx Algorithms

Posted in Algorithms, Blog, Cubing on November 19, 2018 by slateman

When I first moved to Sweden, I purchased the new flat-edged Master Pyraminx. The puzzle looks great and I solved it a number of times. Then, I forgot how.

It’s strange; I can still solve the rest of my puzzles, or at least I think I can. In recent months, I’ve returned to the puzzle each time frustrated by my lack of memory and the unclear tutorials online. Today I checked again and hobbled together a solution. As always, for my own purposes, here are the steps I used to finally remember this solve!

Step 1: Solve One Face

Well, of course, get tips matching their adjacent sides first and get all three corners properly aligned. Then, pick one face to solve. This requires some intuitive positioning but it shouldn’t prove too difficult. Get those three center edges and then fill in the remaining six middle-edge pieces.

Step 2: Flip Middle Edges

Sometimes you’ll have all these middle pieces placed correctly. If not, however, two will be placed correctly, but oriented in reverse. In this case, move the correct piece to the back. Then you perform this algorithm, using intuition for replacing the bottom layer.

LD, RD, LU, RU
U’, L’, U, L

Step 3: Finish Second Layer

Here we bring the red piece down, not vice versa. Again we break the bottom layer, but that’s OK, it’s easy to fix! Of course, you can figure out the opposite if mirrored, so use intuition when figuring out what goes where here.

l, R’, l’, R’
Then get the U out of the way (u’)
L’, u, L, u’

Step 4: Centers

There are three possibilities here. Centers are all solved, none are solved or three are out of place. You could solve centers earlier or at the end, but if you have three centers misplaced, the algorithm will make you repeat the final step, so here’s a good time to do this algorithm.

To solve four centers, place opposite centers on top and bottom. It should be an easy one here:

LD, RD, LU, RU (x3).

As I mentioned, when three centers are out, it messes with things. This is sometimes referred to as parity. For this case, place the one properly-placed center on the left side and do the following:

R, U, R’, U (x2).

If this doesn’t swap your centers correctly, do it again. Done!

Step 5: Last-Layer Edges

All that should should remain are last-layer edges. Either these are solved or they need to be permuted. These could go clockwise or counter-clockwise. The algorithm here works opposite of that rotation. But it’s easy enough and can be done twice to accomplish the same result.

R, U, R’, U, R, U

Change that to U’ for a clockwise last-layer spin.

Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night – 200.6% Again!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Castlevania, Games, High Scores/Accomplishments on November 15, 2018 by slateman

Just four months later, I’ve 200.6%ed Symphony Of The Night again! In the process, I managed to platinum Castlevania: Requiem as well. Two of the best Castlevania games in one package? I shelved Red Dead Redemption 2 to play 20-year old games. What a world.

To address the port itself – it’s lazy as hell. The options and modes are pretty pathetic and it’s missing some truly basic items. You can’t turn off the overly-used rumble feature? Simply no option at all? But while it’s a real bare-bones title, the games are rock solid. Playing through Rondo Of Blood again reminded me just how awesome it is – handily defeating the other games of the era (see my recent retro-game backlog!) The game’s hype is spot-on and it’s a must-play from the series.

There’s little to say about Symphony that hasn’t been said yet. There was really no way I wasn’t going to 200.6% this beast. I was reminded of its few bullshit moments which come from a different time. However, the whole experience was just remarkable, just as good as ever. In addition, the trophies really gave me reason to try things I never would have and even after so many playthroughs, I learned new things. This game is a legend and yet another run solidifies it as a top-10 ever game. (Or so…that list is tough to quantify!)

So, after not playing the game fully to completion in the prior 21 years, I’ve now managed to do it twice in four months. Not bad.


Retro-Game Backlog Entry #5: Castlevania: Dracula XX

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Castlevania, Games, Lists, Retro Games on November 10, 2018 by slateman

After Castlevania III, I must’ve just stopped playing the series. I appear to have missed everything up until Symphony Of The Night in 1997. It makes sense; I had no SNES or Genesis and college meant poverty for most. So, as I address this backlog, these titles feel very new, despite their age. Now, I tinkered with some of them, Super Castlevania IV most notably, but I most certainly never beat them and with Dracula XX (not Rondo Of Blood, the SNES sequel to it), I never would have had the patience to complete it without emulation!

However, going back to the start…Dracula XX was Konami’s attempt to bring the legendary Rondo to the SNES without severely downscaling it. Instead, they made an entirely-different but kinda-the-same game. In every aspect it’s inferior. What we got was a noble attempt. Several of the key elements were recreated here and it rewarded exploration with a pair of bonus stages and girls to rescue. Unfortunately, since those same features were on the Turbo CD game, it’s impossible not to compare.

Richter returns and the fantastic hero traipses throughout familiar stages replete with beautiful fiery and watery effects. They look impressive but the design of those same stages is really quite weak. It was a product of its time; every jump was situated with a particularly-placed enemy crafted with the sole purpose of instilling frustration. Death comes from everywhere, jumps, floating heads, annoying enemies – it can be grueling. The foes are the customary ones, with many a true challenge. Saving the two girls is a must for the good endings, but even those were far too brief.


The game’s music, on the other hand, doesn’t let down. Well, it’s not that any game in the series at that time did. The familiar tunes don’t have quite the same punch as Bloodlines’ tracks did, but that’s no worry. I found myself muting everything else or turning up the volume as I played with headphones just because of the soundtrack. They rarely disappoint.

And then we have Dracula himself. After a rather easy battle in the original Dracula X, Konami decided to concoct the bullshittiest final boss I think I’ve ever encountered. The walk up to the tower was impressive, before a glowing moon, but the rest of it was memorable for all the wrong reasons. He had two forms: the first similar to what we all know and a second beast form where he flies above. However, the whole battle takes place on columns and the screen is wide. Therefore, you don’t have access to attack many times and in the time-honored tradition, a hit bounces you back – oftentimes to your death! Oh, it’s just so much fun, particularly when you manage to get to the final form and die by one misplaced jump. It’s fucking brutal and I would’ve been so pissed had I purchased this thing back in the day. You will die. Over and over. And not in any fair fashion. I’m getting angry just thinking about it and it marks one of those many gaming quotes, “I’m never going to do that again in my life.”

That final battle mars what is otherwise an OK game. It’s frustrating but looks good and sounds great. This title isn’t fondly remembered, understandably so. However, I’ll take Richter over those Bloodlines heroes any day. Another day, another retro game completed. I’m thinking I’ll hit up Super Castlevania IV next. I never loved that one, but most people do. See how it goes!


Retro-Game Backlog Entry #4: Castlevania: Bloodlines

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Castlevania, Games, Lists, Retro Games on November 1, 2018 by slateman

Having proclaimed my love for Castlevania already, one might expect for me to have played virtually every entry. However, it is not the case. Of course, I have gone through a vast majority of the series, but a handful eluded my gaze over the past three decades. One such title is the Genesis game Castlevania: Bloodlines.

I never owned the hardware and during the mid-90s, I avoided Castlevania entirely. In fact, it was only many years later that I got around to Super Castlevania IV. In any event, let’s address the best part of this game first: the music. The series is known for its hummable tunes and this game shows them off in spades. Familiar melodies return, but virtually every portion of the game’s audio shines and it stands as the title’s highlight, hands down.

Nothing else about this game stood out quite as much. The modern environments really didn’t work for me and were in direct contrast to the moody locales in every other Castlevania title. Some bosses and game effects just felt like excuses to show off the system’s tech. In a later level your screen is torn in half or you’re mirrored above the stage. Enemies flail about displaying interesting 3D effects but none were truly interesting themselves. Machine foes, reflecting patterns and fancy displays seemed more important than good level-design choices or enemy choices. I didn’t particularly enjoy big chunks of the game. This was compounded by the ending.

As with many other games of the time, the ending ramps up the difficulty substantially. I’m not a fan of boss-rush modes and the game’s finale is just nonsense. First you face Death who looks as bad-ass as usual. He dishes out these cards and whichever one you hit dictates who you fight: any of the bosses from stages 2-5. While they are random, you have to defeat all four. One of the cards is a screenful of meat. Hopefully you didn’t get that one first! So, after beating four bosses, you square off against Death who isn’t particularly difficult. OK! Now for Dracula, right? Nope…you head up another set of stairs and find a woman who summons a Medusa-like creature before you fight the woman herself. She’s rather easy once you’ve got the pattern down, fortunately.

And NOW you fight Dracula – assuming the stage – boss rush – death – medusa – chick boss combo didn’t kill you. Now you get a classic three-form Dracula battle before an atrociously-underwhelming finale boots you back to the beginning urging you to beat it on expert mode.

Beyond the music, there were certainly perks. Some of the effects were more than simply flash, and I’m sure at the time it was all really quite impressive. Large enemies and bright colors added a beautiful visual flair and newcomer Eric Lecarde changed how the game was played – with different paths for him and for John Morris. These all added up to a unique experience and one that is quite interesting in the series’ universe.

Ultimately though, while the game has a fair share of perks and good replay value, I will probably never return to this game. That soundtrack, however, will get some new spins as there is some truly phenomenal music. Beyond the killer tunes though, there’s not enough to beckon me back. I’ll stick with the classics of the series instead – spoken after 200.6%ed Symphony Of The Night and purchased Castlevania Requiem.


Guacamelee! 2 – Platinum Get!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, High Scores/Accomplishments on October 27, 2018 by slateman

I realize I said that I gave up. Those damn chicken illuminati challenges just annoyed me. Well, the first one most of all. But it kept tugging at me to return – I knew I could do it!!!

And so after a few weeks, knowing that Red Dead Redemption 2 would consume me at the end of October, I went back. And I beat those damn challenges. And I’ll never do them again!!!

So it was just hard mode that sat between me and the platinum. The first Guacamelee! was more difficult than the second and I platinumed that. So this one should be easy, right? Not at all. Some of those small battles were insanely difficult with a narrow margin of error. Get hit twice in a frenzied room of a dozen foes flailing about chaotically? Restart. Miss one button press? Restart. But facing the final boss for the third time (twice to get both of the endings + hard mode) was still incredibly easy. Each of the three times I defeated him on the first try, refreshing after getting brutalized over the 10-hour replay session.

Platinum achieved, but I don’t think I’ll ever return to Guacamelee! 2. It looked great, played great and the music was fantastic. However I think the first game is superior. For now, I’m done, at least until Guac! 3. Below is one of the harder challenges, just to open up the chicken illuminati ones. *sigh*.