Monday, March 31, 2014

Dark Souls II, Conception II, and the Emerald City Comicon  


Games: Well, I finally managed to finish Dark Souls II a couple of days ago, and it was a great experience overall. My final review is in the can and should go up at @Gamecritics soon. Not to spoil my verdict, but I was a huge fan of the changes to the formula, and I really appreciate the increased accessibility.

In fact, my only real complaint was that the developers make some strange decisions right at the very end, and instead of building towards a logical, exciting climax, they drag things out with sections that are admittedly pretty neat, but don't feel like they belong right before the conclusion. On top of that, things get confusing, and I ended up needing to ask some friends for help just to figure out how to actually end the game.

Oh and that final battle? A thoroughly unimpressive non-event.

I don't mean to sound too negative, though, because I was absolutely glued to that game for 73 out of the 74 hours that it took me to finish (with a grand total of 374 deaths) and much of it is just brilliant -- great level design, great atmosphere, and super solid gameplay combine to create a wonderful experience to be immersed in. Although I don't think it displaces Demon’s Souls as my favorite (its world and story were just pitch-perfect) it's definitely going to be on my year-end best list, for sure.

In other games news, I just completed the demo for Conception II on Vita (it’s also on 3DS) and it's got my attention.

The premise is that there are demons invading earth, and the main character must "classmate" with several different girls in order to produce (I guess?) Star Children who are used as teammates in dungeons. It sounds sort of bizarre, but it’s a bit of a cross between Persona and a dating sim, which sounds pretty awesome when you think about it

What I saw so far was quite interesting, but of course it kind of goes without saying that anyone coming to this game should be open to the concept of playing a male role with the purpose of courting several different females, not to mention there’s a certain amount of innuendo going on that some people will find humorous, and some might find offensive.

As for me, I'm happy to take it for what it is and I thought the demo was entertaining, so I’ll definitely be looking into the full version. That said, I was a little concerned about the dungeon design… It seemed a little boring and repetitive, although I'm sure there’s much more to the formula than what was shown in that small slice.

Side note, the game save from the demo carries over into the full version, so time spent playing it isn’t wasted! Such a cool feature. Keep doing that, @AtlusUSA!


Comics: The Emerald City Comicon took place this past weekend, and after being snubbed for a couple of years in a row, I got smart and bought my tickets about six months early. It seemed a little absurd at the time, but considering how early the show sells out, I'm glad that I did.

The event took place in the Washington State Convention Center this year, and it was enormous. Although I don't think there were as many exhibitors as something like PAX, this was the most crowded I've ever seen it, and it certainly felt very PAX-like when walking around. It wasn't too bad when we got there early in the morning, but by noontime it was becoming quite tough to make it through the crowds, especially with my youngest son still in a wheelchair with a broken leg.

(His cast comes off soon, hooray!)

Interestingly, the female presence was quite strong this year. As we walked through the artist areas, it seemed like the majority of artist there were women. I don't have any hard numbers but this was an awesome trend, and I hope it continues. It's great to see more diversity in terms of who's holding the pencils and writing the stories!

Along the same lines, the female presence overall was quite strong. My wife commented to me that she noticed tons of women who were there of their own accord, and not as some guy’s girlfriend or tag-along, and I was thinking the exact same thing. As someone who grew up in a time when it was unheard of for girls to play games or read comics, it's pretty awesome to see how quickly the opposite sex is making up ground. I'm sure there’s still a long way to go, but the progress I've seen so far is quite heartening.

Anyway, here are some pics of what we saw and did...

We planned to get my son the zombie fanatic a shirt here, but strangely, none of the designs were that great. Also kind of overpriced. Bummer! 

No matter what anybody says, the Army of Two games are stupid fun times if you're playing with a buddy. My wife and I enjoy them, and it was cool to see the bros 'bumping on the floor. 


 Pretty sure she was cosplaying from Saga, but not 100% sure. Anybody know?

 Always good to see a nicely-done Rorshach like this. So cool. 

It's tough to make out the details here, but this is a hand-drawn pic of the Doctor Who companions. It's just beautiful in person, and is a complement to a similar drawing we bought last year featuring the Doctors. This awesome piece was done by Charlie Donkin (here's his Etsy page) and he's a hella nice guy, to boot. 

 This piece featuring Mass Effect's Reapers is stunning. The one based on Shadow of the Colossus  below is just as fantastic, and both were bought for a song. Click on over to Gillian Newland's website if you want to own these for yourself - and why wouldn't you??

This is a small booth the famous 501st Legion had set up as a fundraiser of some sort. You kicked in a few bucks and got to take some shots at Empire scum... It was awesomely fun times, and when my son scored the headshot you can see here (look close at the right trooper's eye) the crowd around roared with cheers and applause.   

The size of this flamethrower just blew me away. 

Speaking of large accessories...

My son spotted a couple who had fabricated their own Daft Punk masks, and he was dying to get his picture taken with them. We lost them in the crowd and had searched fruitlessly for an hour or so, and were just about to leave the show when they appeared out of nowhere and we finally caught up with them. They were quite nice people and they offered to let our son wear the silver mask... His grin afterwards was the highlight of my day.



Nicalis, Inc., developer and publisher of independently awesome video games, announces the action-platform game 1001 Spikes is coming to Xbox One® in addition to the previously announced PlayStation®4, PlayStation®Vita, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS and PC versions.

About 1001 Spikes

Discover the lost treasures of Ukampa in South America as Aban Hawkins searches for his estranged father, world-famous archaeologist Jim Hawkins. Before the elder Hawkins mysteriously disappeared, he entrusted his daughter Tina with a map to the location of the ruins with a grave warning that death awaits around every corner. Aban Hawkins races into the frozen tundra of the antarctic, undiscovered temple ruins, and the vast caverns of South America in search of his father and the legendary treasure rumored to lie behind the Golden Door of Poko-Mum.

Game Features: Tough-as-nails difficulty, Pixel-perfect, razor-sharp controls, Clever-yet-insidious game design, Single and simultaneous 2-4 player co-op and vs. multiplayer! 8-bit inspired visuals with current gen flare, Soundtrack by Misoka and Rushjet1, Over a dozen unlockable characters with different abilities, some as featured friends from other games, Over 100 stages to clear, Three save files, and Multiple endings.
1001 Spikes continues Nicalis’ partnerships with ultra-talented and super-awesome independent developers. Previously Nicalis has teamed up with Edmund McMillen (The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth), Studio Pixel (Cave Story, Ikachan), Nicklas Nygren (NightSky), Hotapen (Legend of Raven) and Terry Cavanagh (VVVVVV).

More information can be found on the official website at

Idea Factory International is excited to announce that Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1, a new installment of the long-loved fan favorite RPG series, Hyperdimension Neptunia, will be released on PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system in the North American and European markets in the late summer of this year. Hyperdimension NeptuniaRe;Birth1 is a remake of Hyperdimension Neptunia™, which was previously released for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system in 2011. Renewed event conversations, graphics, and newly added game mechanics will entertain fans who have already played the PlayStation3 version of Hyperdimension Neptunia as well as newcomers to the series. More detailed information regarding the release method and the release date will be available soon!


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3 comments: to “ Dark Souls II, Conception II, and the Emerald City Comicon

  • Jeroen


    Haha, that picture of your son just put a smile on my face! Cute... Nice way to start my day!

    I'm hoping to do lots of fun stuff with my little boy as well once he grows up a litte. Still only 9 months old, so I just have to wait a bit. I'll make sure he once wears a gamecritics T shirt!

  • JackyBeans


    I've been following both blogs for long now and enjoy your writing tremendously. Nevertheless I don't agree with your final assessment of ds2 and having playing all souls series, I find ds2 to be the synthesis and the best of all souls games.
    And by far.

    However my only complaint will be the familiarity which is good but not that good when it's too familiar! Lol

    On of the best games in the last twenty years
    (yes I'm 34 :-(

    Keep up the good work


    Jeroen> I'll tell Chi to order some infant/child sizes. ^_^

    JackyBeans> Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy DS2. for me, the series is probably Demon's>Dark 2>Dark. Much of that is due to the story and cohesion of Demon's but DS2 is also amazing. Dark can hang. ; )