Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Obligatory Halloween post

It is Halloween and I managed to not play either The Evil Within 2 or Observer (thanks Ys!!) but I do want to, at the very least, bring up a very effective moment in an old, underrated game. This is not a classic moment from a dedicated horror game. Nothing like the pyramid head rape voyeur scene from Silent Hill 2, the bleeding walls in Silent Hill 3 or the ropes in Fatal Frame. It is not a modern example like most of Amnesia: The Dark Descent or the spooky crib from Layers of Fear. I would put it more in line with a frightening section from an otherwise not terribly frightening game; think the shalebride cradle in Thief or the haunted hotel in Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines. Unexpected and effective.

Step into the way back machine with me so we can talk about Doom 64.

Doom 64 was my Nintendo 64 launch title in spite of it not coming out at launch. Neither Super Mario 64 nor Pilotwings 64 did anything for me so I bought the console and waited, patiently, for something to play. Doom 64 did not disappoint. For the uninitiated (or the young) Doom 64 was not a port of any existing Doom. It was its own monster, designed specifically for the new Nintendo system, and is viewed as something of a side story to the main Doom series. It has never been legitimately ported, remade, or in any way made legally available for purchase since its initial release. Midway, its publisher, is long gone, so there is no hope to see it again.

It was also a legitimately exceptional shooter. Concessions were made for the bizarre controller and they worked. Monsters were redesigned in a distinctly late 90's manner. Weapons were reskinned and levels took advantage of what the Nintendo 64 could do. The shooting was good, the level design expansive, but the sound, oh my.

I was in college in 1997. I did not have as much time on a daily basis to play games as I do now but was capable of incredible marathon sessions on the weekends, provided I was sober(ish). I once played Turok 2 for so long that when I closed my eyes I was still running down corridors. It was just that kind of session, hours upon hours of Doom 64, sitting unmoved, cross legged, on the floor of a darkened dorm room, when this happened:

That is how you break a man. I was sleep deprived, zoned out, bleary eyed and that starts playing? I do not recall the level but I recall my reaction: pause the game, turn and look around the room. No one here? Am I sure? Ok, maybe I'll play a little more. Just a little. Even the BFG is no match for a terrifying soundtrack.

Help, I have fallen into the Post-Modern Jukebox internet hole

It started here:

And then I ended up here:

Which brought me here:

 And finally

Send help!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Missed opportunities

I was able to catch most of the Sony Press conference at the Paris Game Show in spite of my stone age office internet connection. It was not all that exciting. Guacamelee 2 is excellent news but the total lack of release window is not. Sucker Punch teasing their next project is also good news but I doubt that it will see a release before the end of next year.

God of War looks less like God of War with each trailer. Horizon Zero Dawn's winter expansion looks exactly like the rest of the game, so meh. I did not realize that Shadow of the Colossus was getting a full blown remake, not just a remaster at a respectable frame rate. I do not think that it will get played but, you know, someone will buy it. There was also quite a bit of PSVR stuff, but really, who cares.

The Last of Us 2 had an extraordinarily violent story trailer to close out the show that featured evisceration, hanging, arms broken with hammers, arrows to the head and the claw end of said hammer being embedded into a skull. There were no recognizable characters but one of the women had arms that I would kill for.

Days Gone was surprisingly absent. Perhaps Sony did not want to put it up against Naughty Dog.


Ys VIII hit an interesting crossroads last night and I do not think that it handled it very well. The entire game has been about Adol and company trying to survive on an island filled with dinosaurs long enough to build a boat and escape. There are complications: Adol having visions of Dana and the end of civilization and the giant squid thing that destroyed their ship in the first place. The giant squid problem has been resolved and everyone had calamari for dinner.

The Dana issue got much more complicated when she showed up in the current time without her memory. Adol continued to have flashbacks, some of which the player gets to control, but this time both Adol and Dana are learning about what happened in the past. The last flashback saw Dana's city destroyed be a meteor strike, somehow fitting and a forehead slapper at the same time.

Present day Dana was worried that Adol would no longer help her now that their escape is possible. Adol says that no, he will continue to explore the island while the new boat is actually being built. The adventure should have then continued with her in the party heading out to the last quadrant of the island still missing from the map.

Instead she disappears. Runs away, perhaps, and I guarantee that she will need rescuing. Groan. Dana is a relatively strong character. I say relatively because this is still a JRPG and their treatment of female characters is suspect (remember the hot nun from a few days ago?). She was powerful and resourceful, somehow avoiding an extinction level event, and now she runs away from the people helping her because, well, because the plot requires it?

The combat is still fun so I will keep playing. I do not think I will finish it before Wednesday which means I will not have much to talk about. No problem, I will sit out the Stranger Things talk, which I promise there will be a lot of.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Since the universe DOES exist, might as well do a podcast

Chamberlain and Chance - The show must go on

Well that's a relief

Universe shouldn't exist, CERN physicists conclude

Click bait headline aside, this is incredibly interesting. The big bang created matter and anti-matter in equal amounts. Matter and anti-matter annihilate one another on contact, meaning that the universe should have ended as soon as it began. Obviously it didn't because here we are. This means that there should be some difference between matter and anti-matter, something to account for matter surviving. Right now no one knows what this difference is.

So the universe exists but scientists are still trying to figure out why.

...and if it was a good idea in the first place.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Finally too far

There is a nun character in Ys VII that looks like this:

Pretty normal nun, right? Crosses have been replaced by generic religious looking things. She is obviously being penitent about something. After she is rescued Sister Nia asks Adol to take her on a pilgrimage - to the top of a very tall, monster infested hill. She wants to pray while high up in the air, or something like that. Cue boring escort mission made worse by Sister Nia not being able to move faster than a slow amble.

When she finally reaches the top of the hill Sister Nia expresses frustration at how slowly she moved while tripping over small rocks. She asks Adol to turn around, there is a sound of fabric tearing, and then:

COME ON. That is not okay. She lounges around like that back at base camp after the mission is done, making sure everyone knows that the nun was smoking hot under her habit. Granted, her outfit is downright demure compared to Dana's, it still made me fill a little creepier than usual, and that is saying something coming from a 40 something guy playing JRPGs in his basement. 

If I made it through the style catastrophe that was Tales of Berseria I can make it through this.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Line and sinker

Ys VIII is an at times clumsy collection of adventure tropes. A ship is wrecked off of a deserted island by a giant squid. The hero wakes up on the beach and with the help of other survivors builds a fort to provide protection while they figure out how to get off of the island. There are dead pirates, a serial killer that happened to be on the boat and, crucially, dinosaurs, because this is not just anime Robinson Crusoe, it is anime Robinson Crusoe crossed with the Land of the Lost.

Add in a little occasional 'Oh Japan' and the game is compelling in spite of its last gen looks and mostly useless map. (Seriously, Dana's outfit gives Velvet's from Berseria a run for the bottom of the barrell.) I was not planning on dropping forty hours on this when I have better looking games to play and a new console arriving in two weeks but it appears that I no longer have a choice.

I talk a big game but just about any ARPG will hook me. Even the fishing mini-game has not been enough to drive me away.


Lacrimosa - (Italian) female singular of lacrimoso: teary, tear filled, wet

Do I smell a tragic ending? We can only hope.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Voting with dollars

Contrary to 'the way that I do things' I may end up purchasing Wolfenstein II, both as a final goodbye present to my soon to be ignored (not really) PS4 Pro and to support Bethesda's firm anti-nazi stance. I have been shooting video game nazis since the original Medal of Honor, I did have a PC in the Wolfenstein 3D days, and see no good reason to stop. Bethesda leaning into the bizarre thought that not all fascism is bad by posting videos of an American as apple pie BJ shooting goose steppers in the face is beautiful.

The belief that Wolfenstein II was whipped up in short order to make a political statement is so laughable I cannot believe that anyone actually subscribes to it. Then again, this is the internet in 'merica, I should know better than to expect more than the worst.

Guess what? I am looking forward to shooting white religious nuts in Far Cry 5 because it is about time someone took aim at my team. Bible belt white folk can be pretty terrible, just like any other group of people, why should they be immune to virtual cross hairs?

Yes, video games can be used to make political statements. No, that is not what Wolfenstein II is. It is just a pleasant accident.

Friday, October 20, 2017

And my eyes said 'meh'

I try to not make snap judgements about a game on looks alone. 'Try' is as honest as I can be seeing that I purchased an Xbox One S, a PS4 Pro, and 4K television and have an Xbox One X pre-ordered. I like the pretties but I 'try' to not dismiss a game just because it doesn't scrape the film off of my eyeballs with its high resolution prowess. Style and cutting edge visuals are not the same thing. As a recent example, Hotline Miami had style, Ruiner looked better, only one will I remember after more than a few weeks have passed.

Ys VIII looks, and I mean no offense to the handheld loyalists, like a Vita game. It looks like a slightly shiner PS3 game with simply textures, hard edges, characters with limited detail and a lot of repeated environments. Tales games suffer from this as well, but not to this extent. Berseria looked like a late PS3 game and Ys VIII could have been a launch title.

This is a shame because it plays quite well. Smooth would be a fine word to use: combat starts out simple but enemies hurt enough that the player must dodge instead of just eating attacks. The crafting system does not force farming as, at least for now, what is needed is gathered just by exploring the environment. Equipment is sparse but offers meaningful upgrades to stats. It plays like a well polished action RPG that happens to inhabit a series that I know nothing about.

But it looks boring. I have found the map difficult to use as environmental landmarks are few and far between. Characters do not change in appearance as new items are equipped (something else that Tales games are guilty of). Random enemies are small and lack detail. My jaded eyeballs are expecting more. They expect all of the digital power under the hood of the (soon to be eclipsed) most power console available to be used for something.

Sure, the frame rate is solid, but I would expect as much from a game that could probably be run on my discount android tablet and/or my dusty Switch. It's not fair but it is reality. Ys VIII is, so far, a good game, but sitting under it is the Uncharted stand alone expansion, an experience guaranteed to at least temporarily sate my desire for all of the polygons, all of the time.


My Coming Soon list is starting to stress me out. I didn't play any of the horror games I wanted to and October is almost over. At the rate it has been moving I will get to The Evil Within 2 and the new South Park some time next year and I know that when I get my Xbox One X I will end up playing nothing but Forza 7 for a week and then possibly dip back into Killer Instinct to see how it looks at 4K 60 fps.

I need to rethink this hobby of mine, all facets of it, from playing to writing this to the podcast.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Civil discourse

Of course one of us does not like Cuphead as much as the other two. How interesting would it be if we all agreed?

Chamberlain and Chance - Two out of three ain't bad

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Not exactly newbs

I finished Ruiner last night and I am still up in the air about how good it was. Upgrade points come at a premium which forces the player to choose skills carefully but respecs are free. It is expected that the player retool their skills to fight different bosses. The bosses themselves are almost never fun to fight but every encounter leading up to them, including a final battle royal that comes full circle to a spoilery plot point, are very good. Not perfect, as enemies that can teleport without warning or tell can fuck right off (especially when they are firing a minigun), but it works far more often than it doesn't work.

Aesthetically it swings from just enough weird, cyber-punk riffing on Akira and The Matrix to far too much, especially when all the nifty lighting effects get in the way of the combat. Honestly, it feels like a first attempt from a developer that has a chance of being very good. Let's check.

...time passes...

I was technically correct. Ruiner is the first game by Reikon Games but they are comprised of industry veterans who have worked on Dead Island and The Witcher games. Not exactly a first outing. More like a first attempt without training wheels. Ruiner mostly succeeds. Another pass with the digital polisher and it might have been better. Ending up in the same mind space as Hotline Miami will always bring difficult comparisons.


I played Marvel again last night. It did not go well. Sigma and monster hunter are a problem. I ended up in a casual match again a rank 9 player (full disclosure: I am rank 15, the bottom of the bottom) in which I might as well have not been holding a controller. If I wanted that kind of relentless abuse I would play Overwatch.

Monday, October 16, 2017

I likes what I likes

Having recently been lectured over the term 'guilty pleasure' and being told that if I enjoy something that no one else enjoys I should own it the same way that I enjoy not enjoying things that everyone else enjoys I must confess that I had fun with Knack 2 in spite of all of the characters being shit. It mustered up a sensible false ending, heart pumping climax and reasonable sequel tease, all with writing so terrible that Resident Evil 1 felt better about itself after hearing it.

The game was good. Honestly good. Everything around the game was not.

The first Knack never did enough with scale. Knack ranges in size from 2 and half feet to around 30, depending on what is going on, but the game never felt different. There was no feeling of power when he was big or vulnerability when he was small. Knack 2 turns this on its head by having mini-Knack run around a giant robot, feeling very weak and exposed, and later having 10 foot Knack do the same thing on truly gigantic mechanical spider of death and destruction before coming across a platoon of foot soldiers and massacring them with little effort. It has its cake and eats it, too.

I can see you rolling your eyes, thinking that 'Chamberlain is enjoying this ironically' and that 'this is the same guy who said that Breath of the Wild and Horizon: Zero Dawn were just okay.' I am not comparing them based on artistic quality or technical achievement. Knack 2 is no slouch, it looks quite good running at 4K, 30 fps, but Horizon is one of the best looking games I have ever seen and Breath of of the Wild is a remarkable achievement for a game running on a glorified tablet. What I am saying that is Knack 2 made me smile and annoyed me less than weapon degradation or wandering into giant robot dinosaurs that I shouldn't fight yet.

If I were a paid critic my analysis would be a little deeper that 'it made me feel good.' I would talk about how the combat is basically solved once Knack gets the long range grapple move and how playing through the game on Normal left a full one quarter of his skills still locked. I would complain about quick time events monopolizing several key moments (but not the ending) and I would harp on how terrible the voice acting and characters really are. But I am not a paid critic, I am just a guy who plays games, compulsively, that sometimes find it difficult to enjoy them through several decades of accumulated cynicism.

Knack 2 is a solid 7 and I expected a 5. Breath of the Wild and Horizon were 8's but I was promised a 10. There is a big difference.


The jury is still out on Ruiner. Game math shortcut because I am lazy:

Ruiner = Hotline Miami + Akira visuals and sound + a dash of Max Payne bullet time.

That certainly sounds good but there are problems. First, the visuals are flashy but are so busy that they can get in the way of the action. Hotline Miami worked because it was sparse and sharp. You could see what was going on at all times. Ruiner has enemies disappearing into lens flare. Second, Hotline Miami had no bosses because they would not work with it style of quick death/quick restart. The bosses in Ruiner are bullshit hard and not as much fun to deal with as waves of gun toting mooks.

Third, the control is seriously over complicated. It starts out as a twin stick shooter but then adds a dash on L1, one special move on L2 (right now a shield), a melee attack on R1, ranged attack on R2, pick up weapons on X and special moves on the remaining three. This means that to pick up a weapon or throw a grenade you have to stop aiming. Time does slow down when picking up a weapon but your motion slows down just as much. This means that you get to see what is going to kill you at one quarter speed.

The dash is also bizarre. Tapping L1 is a dash that can be chained up to three time. You can also hold L1 and set three waypoints with the left stick and R1, then release L1 and jump through the series. It looks cool but I have yet to find a use for it as there is no time for any actions between set jumps.

I will play it more but the coming soon list is seriously out of hand and this was purchased based on snazzy trailer. If it does not get finished I will not shed many tears.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Don't look, just play

There is no denying that Knack 2 is a significant upgrade from the first game. It looks better, making good use of the PS4 Pro. It plays better, giving Knack more abilities to deal with the spikes in combat difficulty that are still present and honestly expected. But is this enough to pull the game up from 'yeah, I played it because I play everything' to 'I am honestly enjoying this in a non-ironic sense'?

Almost. Almost.

When I am playing Knack, just playing it, not paying attention to the characters, story, voice acting, etc, it is almost a good game. The platforming is simple but accurate (enough). The new leveling system makes sense and rewards the player for not taking hits and keeping the shield at full strength. There are enough new moves in combat to keep it fresh and they arrive at reasonable intervals. The first was a power hit that breaks shields and just as I began to think 'this is nice but those archer bastards are always too far away to hit' the game gave Knack the ability to stretch out an arm and grab enemies, pull them in, and then pound on them until they die.

But then someone talks and when someone talks it is unbearable. All of the human characters are dick heads, either yelling at each other or treating Knack as if he were a small child. This might make sense when he is in his smallest state but patronizing a 20 foot beast does not sound like a good idea. Knack just takes it because, since his creation, it is all he has known. If I were smarter I could draw parallels between Knack's treatment and indentured servitude, how his position as property makes me vaguely uncomfortable, but I am not that smart and this is just a family friendly game with surprisingly punishing combat.

Knack is not an allegory for anything, it is just tone deaf to everything.

So is it better? Absolutely. Am I having fun with it? Yes, but this is a tepid yes. I enjoy 3D platformers and they are coming around less and less often. Thankfully this is not a collectathon (I am looking at you, Yooka Laylee), just a romp through colorful, 4K(ish) environments interrupted by punching and getting punched by robots, goblins and robot goblins. I just wish that I didn't hate all of the characters.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Force Awakens The Last Jedi From His Nap

Things we learned from the new Star Wars trailer:

  • Luke is a shitty trainer. Obi Wan levels of shitty. He lost pouty baby Vader and is going to lose Rey. Everything is his fault and he should be ashamed of himself.
  • Kylo Ren is going to kill Leia, thereby saving us from more terrifying CGI recreations of dead celebrities, ala the end of Rogue One. He is the true hero of this story.
  • Finn takes a break from shilling Battlefront 2 just long enough to get his ass kicked by shiny lady stormtrooper.
  • The ground hog from Indiana Jones 4 has mad, mad connections. Co-piloting the Millennium Falcon with Chewbacca? That's some serious cred. Maybe Weinstein got to him, too.
  • Snoke was pieced together from bits of Palpatine and, somehow, Frieza.
And now, for the super awesome twist that won't happen, but should:

Rey falls to the dark side. Ren, after killing Leia, pulls a Vader 180. Rey kills Luke. This sets up a wicked double twist for the third movie with Ren being Luke, Rey is Vader and Snoke is, well, he is still Snoke. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Niceties rescinded

I can now confirm that my early tepid praise of Agents of Mayhem was misplaced. The game showed all that it had in the first five hours and that is being generous. Because it is Monday and I am feeling a bit bitchy I will now catalog its failing in excruciating detail.

The city is esthetically boring and uniform. I am not a fan of the GTA series, having started and not finished most of them thanks to shoddy driving and shooting controls, but even from that limited exposure it is obvious that the cities are laid out like cities, just in miniature. There are recognizable neighborhoods and districts. It is possible to tell where you are just by looking at the architecture. Agents of Mayhem suffers from homogenous apathy of design. The city looks like rejected Tron 2.0 storyboards and every area looks the same. It is not exciting or even interesting to explore, so I didn't.

I suppose I will admit that the driving works, but that too is boring, with different vehicles behaving more or less the same, the only variety being cosmetic skins obtained randomly from chests and side missions.

Side missions is not accurate. Side errands? Distractions? Padding? All enemy hideouts look the same and are completed the same way. Enemy bases are interesting to take over the first time but at the halfway point everything you have obtained is undone and if you bother to retake any of the bases they just revert back to enemy control a few minutes later. This is the game's idea of depth: to force the player to replay identical sections, the only reward being crafting materials and pointless skins.

Crafting is used to duplicate captured enemy abilities that are then assigned as mods to other agent skills. Not a bad idea but unlocking the enemy skills means running agents through the same hideouts over and over. These skills become more important at higher difficulty levels but the game idea of difficulty is just making enemies bullet sponges.

I got bored. Soooooo bored. The attempts at humor were not enough to keep me interested and once I leveled one team up to their cap I had no desire to switch them out. But I still need to finish the game...

There is one point that I must give Agents of Mayhem: it automatically adjusts the difficulty level as your team gains strength. These keeps you from feeling overpowered. If the game were better I would have enjoyed this. Instead it offered up a way to bull my way through to the end by setting the difficulty back down to almost default levels, allowing me to one shot most enemies.

One more night and I will move on. I am paying for so any good games in a row, now, and the next one on the list is just as bad, if not worse.

Friday, October 6, 2017

A quick note

Cast is still down so I recorded this manually via Audacity. Don't worry, I have no intention of making this a regular thing.

Chamberlain and Chance - It's lonely in here

Thursday, October 5, 2017


Many apologies but there is not going to be a full podcast episode this week. The service that we use for recording, Cast, is having hosting issues. I have blamed them for things in the past but this is not on them and they have been pretty up front with what is going on. I promise that my next week I will have calmed down and there will be a little less yelling.


Cuphead is finished. The final boss took around two hours, probably more. Time began to melt away as the retries mounted. Several bed times came and went, from 'it's normal bed time' to 'it's late bad time' to 'oh fuck, I have to work tomorrow' bed time. I just could not let it go and I began to wonder, somewhere in the second hour, if it was honestly beyond my ability.

I guarantee that next week's podcast will contain a discussion comparing my resilience to Cuphead to my cowardice towards Bloodborne to wish I offer a pre-emptive pishaw. I am old, my remaining time on Earth is precious, therefore the amount of time a retry takes and what I lose for failing are of incredible importance.

Dying in a Souls game, which happens a lot, costs the player both physical progress, as the player is sent back to a recall point, and character progress, as accumulated experience is lost. This makes dying terrifying and costly. It is part of the game, an added stressor that I do not agree with and will not tolerate. I have passed on excellent games with no hesitation because I knew that I simply would not enjoy them.

Dying in Cuphead, which happens a lot (480 time from beginning to end, to be precise), costs the player nothing. There is no walk back to whatever did the killing, as the game is just a boss rush, and no character progress is lost as there is almost no character progress anyway. New weapons are unlocked by coins collected in the run and gun levels but the run and gun levels are short enough that having to do them over and over is no worse than one of the boss levels. Death is not a penalty, it is a quick detour.

This does not mean that it is easy, only that it is not discouraging. In the final throws of self doubt I kept returning for one more attempt. One more try. One more. And when I beat the final boss I exhaled, satisfied.

I realize that I have said nothing about Cuphead's iconic look or the fact that is the best controlling side scroll anything in many years. Those facts are secondary to these: playing Cuphead made me happy and, while it was difficult, it was never frustrating and, in the end, incredibly satisfying. Please, Studio MDHR, make another one, and soon.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Slowing progress

Day one of Cuphead saw me complete all of Island 1 and all but one boss on Island 2. That's 9 boses and 4 run and gun stages. Pretty good progress for around three hours.

Day two, also around three hours, was limited to 4 bosses and 1 run and gun stage. At this rate of decrease I will finish the game some time in 2018, if I am lucky. This is not a complaint. However, based on my rather spirited reaction to failing at Marvel vs Capcom Infinite (chronicled in last week's podcast) this is not a game that I am going to play every day. I maintained my zen shooter state for two solid days but I can feel it cracking, giving way to the same fits of juvenile rage usually reserved for button mashed auto-combos.

Cuphead is exceptional but it is not for everyone. The game does not attempt to dilute itself to the point of pleasing everyone and it is better for it. I am not making a 'GIT GUD' argument, as I myself am not capable of 'GITTING GUD'. I am only saying that, much like some games that I hate *cough*From Software*cough* it is clear that Cuphead is exactly the game it was intended to be.

No compromises.

If you fall into that niche, the niche that actually played, completed and enjoyed Super Mario Bros The Lost Levels (yes, I did this), then $20 is an absolute steal. If you do not fall into that niche then for God's sake watch a let's play. There are parts of this game that need to be seen to be believed.

Monday, October 2, 2017

So this is what happens when you get old

Your favorite people start to die.

Refreshed, not punished

Long weekend away from my gaming devices (yes, I did not take my Switch on vacation) but I do have two important things to talk about.

First, I now understand the low-ish metacritc scores for Agents of Mayhem. Following a story missions I unlocked about six character specific tasks, at the end of each that character was unlocked. Sounds good so far. Each character has their own attacks and skills that can be unlocked. So far each of their missions has been a carbon copy of something that I have already done. Clearing an enemy base, something that I have done at least six or seven times, loses its amusement when they are all almost the same. A new gun does not automatically make it fun again.

This does not mean that I am not going to finish the game but I have been distracted by a game that I never thought would see the light of day: Cuphead.

Cuphead came out on Friday but I did not get a chance to play it until Sunday afternoon, and even then I was sick and tired from traveling all day. That evening, when I should have been sleeping, I was powering through the game, rubbing my eyes and wiping my nose in an effort to stay conscious for one more boss. It's that good.

I do need to take some air out of the game's mystique: it's not that hard. Sort of. I ran through all of the first world and all but one of the bosses of the second in about two and a half hours. A full half hour of that was dedicated to one boss (fuck you Beppi the Clown) but I was never frustrated. Cuphead is not shy about killing the player. It should be assumed that each new section of a boss, of which there are three or four, will be lethal as there is no fucking way to predict what is going to happen.

This should piss me off, right? I'll tell you why it doesn't: Cuphead is almost entirely comprised of bosses. When I die, and it has happened well over a hundred time now, I am literally seconds away from trying again. No being sent back to the beginning of the level (the run and gun sections are the weakest part of the game), not losing all the experience or money or weapons gained, no penalty at all. I do not even need to walk back to the beginning of the fight from an arbitrarily placed bonfire. I push a button and try again.

Cuphead is not the Dark Souls of platformers. Cuphead is fair. Cuphead is fun.

So is the gameplay hard? Of course it's fucking hard. The clown boss I mentioned before had attacks that were so hard to avoid that it was silly. I know that things are just going to get more difficult but I am looking forward to it because the game handles death in a logical manner, not a punitive one. The gameplay is hard but playing the game is not. Playing the game is easy in that I want to keep coming back and my time is not abused. There is no progress to lose, only to gain.

It would be nice to finish the game tonight so I can get to my October project of horror games but that may or may not happen. I have doubts that my pace of progress through the final third of the game will match that of the first two thirds. And that's okay.