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BranKetra Blog

Thoughts on Dust: An Elysian Tail

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Of May, this game is the first out of two free video games for Xbox Live Gold members via Games With Gold . After the 16th, another game will be available with this program, so get it while you can and give it a chance. I say to do so because it is refreshingly good. This game has been on the Xbox Live Arcade since August 28, 2012 and I have seen the its name in forum conversations sometimes, but I always moved on to something else. Now that I have played it, I will remember it. My first playthrough is currently ongoing in chapter one. My thoughts on it so far are 1) it is a mildly complex game, 2) the dialogue is interesting, and 3) the gameplay is like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night mixed with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic which is a definite plus.

In any game, a story is one of the most influential parts of my evaluation of whether or not I enjoy it. For example, Batman Arkham City would have felt less immersive and probably would have received lower scores had it not featured such a good story. Likewise, Dust: An Elysian Tail has a story good enough to keep me interested in the next major event or simple conversation. I do not feel like I am a part of a mass audience who was marketed to in order to buy this game. Let me explain. Sometimes when I am learning about certain stories, I am given the impression that they are meant to be known by a select group that I happen to be a part of. From a business perspective, that is probably wrong considering that every storymaker probably would like as many people to play their game, read their book, or watch their film as possible. This game seems that way even still. That said, the story is growing in complexity as I progress through the main quest and side missions.

Within the details of the dialogue is the story and the voice acting for it is not bad. Every line is available to read and a character speaks each word. I think I was not expecting that because of the apparent overall simplicity of this game. Most of the indie games I have played with this presented level of simplicity are lacking in speech. Next, as a character, Dust is someone I would like to know more about. It is apparent that he makes a decision to say and do good deeds or bad ones; Player choice to continue the game after certain points tests my morality in a harmless manner, but they are tests all the same of a personal nature. I also like that he is in search of his identity and wears a gloomy outfit, but his attitude contrasts that along with the coloring (The latter of which I will get to later). Other characters in the world of Elysium are similarly charismatic. If you have already played this game, take from that what you will. Things started simple, but began to increase in complexity after a certain few points. Also worth mentioning are the many moments in which characters break the fourth wall. They are not awkward, but they do feel forced like this could have been a short story or a game and the latter was chosen. I am not saying that is what occurred, but I do slightly get that impression. Other times, they are comical.

Since the start of the Dust, the majority of gameplay has consisted of combat with the talking Blade of Ahrah and companion, Fidget. Being a side-scroller with stat-based combat, I am reminded of Castlevania: SotC. It is not nearly as complex since Dust has that one sword and side kick, Fidget, for high potential and low variety combos, yet the premise of that sword kind of makes battles cool. A small moveset limits me to a few combos and it has been really easy to get high-counting combos with Fidget's magic combined with Dust Storm. In addition, the aerial variant makes leveling up easy. Actually, anything from the aforementioned combat to completing quests and even making simple conversation with non-playable characters gives experience points. How meaningful the side quests are reminds me of KotoR in spirit, though absolutely not in setting which is fine. Exploration is obvious and almost guided with a basic map at the top-right part of the screen. Crafting items and mercantilism throughout the game are nice aspects of role-playing games which I am glad are in it. As a result of the overall light challenge Dust gives me as a player combined with the story slowly growing in complexity, I find it charming.

Besides those parts of Dust, the art is good and certainly worth talking about. It is supposed to have been all hand-painted which gives it a distinct look set apart from other games and especially side-scrollers I have played. Each area is vibrantly colorful and has obviously been made with care. Secondly, the Eastern and Western appearances of characters outfits and buildings contrast well. Also, without spoiling anything, from what I have seen thus far, that seems to have a point. Next, Dust's torn hat cloth and covered face is not a gloomy sight because the light shade of blue that most of his outfit is an uplifting color. Anthropomorphic beings which I would describe as human-like rabbits living in a societies are almost too cute, but the story keeps things mature. This game has already surprised me in many ways because I was considering not even downloading it based on the Xbox Live Arcade cover image, but now that I have, I intend to learn everything there is to know about Dust and Elysium.

What are your thoughts on this game?

GameStop inadequacy

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I went to GameStop last week and decided to finally purchase a copy of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 for the PlayStation 3. When I went to the cash register to buy the game, I let the sales associates I was talking with know that I would not buy a new game if it were unwrapped. They accepted and followed by explaining the wrapped new copies of that game were out of stock and they could order one online for me and have it shipped to my house with no additional charge. I accepted that offer. Today, I received that game and it was an unsealed copy. I am displeased with GameStop. I bought something specific and I was mailed something different instead. Now, I would be unable to receive a money-refund because GameStop's policy on unsealed new games is game replacement only. I will not be using that purchasing method again with GameStop until they acknowledge and address the inadequacy of selling a new game unsealed.

Blog Entry October 5, 2013

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GameSpot is changing and I got invited to the New GameSpot beta. Along with updated Terms of Service, I have reason to be more active in the forums. Hopefully, some of the unions will be brought to the new site because I am a member of a few of them and I would not like witnessing them being left behind, but that is the responsibility of union leaders. Since I am not one, I leave it to them.

Japanese:

Year: Toshi

Latest Events

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A few days ago, I began working at my new job. It is simple with efficiency being the most important factor in success with it. The other day, I went to GameStop with some change I had around my room to buy a low priced PlayStation 3 game and there was a sale going on offering some pre-owned video games fifty percent off normal prices with no additional stipulations for them. I am unaware of the sale's current status. Anyway, I got Dragon Age: Origins because it has a higher metacritic score than Alpha Protocol: The Espionage RPG which was also part of that same sale. Alpha Protocol is a video game I consider buying when I search for games because I remember the Game Informer feature preview article for it years ago. The concept was interesting to read about, but the reviews dampened that somewhat.

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An Interesting Concept, but a Less-than-Stellar Work

I also recieved an email from GameStop telling me how many Power Up Reward points I have accumulated when I did not realize I was accumulating anything of the sort. I have enough to get some free stuff, so I am going to. That Adventure Time hat looks cool.

Japanese

Mouth: Kuchi

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Blog Entry 9/18/2013

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I wonder how many people read my blog. Hmm. A vistor counter would be good.

 

Today is my birthday which makes me twenty-four years old.

 

My new job starts tomorrow. Pray I do well, please.

 

That is really all for now. :P

 

Blog Entry 9/15/2013

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Today is Sunday. I managed to attend the afternoon church service and listen to my pastor preach. One of the things he said was you can choose to sin, but you cannot chose the consequences. I took that as a proclamation of agreement because I know some of what the Bible states about sin and I was hearing my pastor say that which I agree with, but he was the one saying it in his own words. Besides Christianity, I think that statement is true for Hinduism and Buddhism, too, because the cause and effect idea of karma is known, but not exactly what led to one's current state. Basically, every life contains thoughts, decisions, and actions. Every one of those accumulates into a spiritual record. At death, the souls of life forms lose their memories with their former bodies and start a new life with the past life's spiritual record determining the good and bad things life forms experience. The cycle then repeats itself. I heard that some Tibetan monks claim to know everything about their past lives, so their are exceptions to that belief system.

Besides religious meditation, I bought some headphones today. They are not fancy. When I get my new job, I will get save up and buy some professional headphones near Christmas if I have money left after getting gifts for others. I am considering getting some testosterone booster. I would like the lowest row of my abdominals to finally show and a manager at a local GNC said it helps. Using steroids would be going too far because they damage natural testosterone in the human body. I would really like to develop my muscles without unnatural testosterone sources, anyway.

I saw a copy of the PlayStation 3 version of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn at Walmart. I think this is noteworthy because I heard it is sold out everywhere. I did not get it because if I am going to play it, it will be on computer. It is just a decision I made a little while ago.

 

Japanese for the Day

Nichi youbi (Ne-chi yoobe): Sunday

Inu (e-nu): Dog

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Blog Entry 9/11/2013

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The interview process for the job I applied to is over. I took a authorized a drug screen and background check for the business to review. The drug screening is in review right now as well as the background check. After those two things comes an orientation which I read is technically my first day of work there. Basically, I was not told, but I have been considered favorably and might start work this Friday. The background check might take a week to complete, so that is not a certainty.

About the job, I will be working in a retail company stocking the store floor during the day to night. I think the referral by one manager and welcoming words by two others really helped me secure this job. I am grateful for their confidence in me. It is physical labor, so I will thankfully be doing more than sitting around all day. Once I enroll in my new school, I will probably continue to think this.

My laptop and tablet work well, but I need to do something about their battery lives. When I start working, there are going to be days in which I am going to be waiting for my shift to start at the store. There is a Starbucks I can lounge at with a good wi-fi connection in reasonable walking distance from my work after being transported. Until I get vehicle of my own again, that is the best I can hope for. I gave my last two cars to a relative of mine because he needed them for work and I was in high school for the first, then got the second as a graduation present. The first car was pawned by an ex-girlfriend of his. He has a questionable preference for trucks which use gas inefficiently, so I gave him my second car to alleviate the any further consequences of that for the past years and the near future. If there is anything to say from this experience, it is that I am grateful for having a supportive family.

Okay, Japanese for the day

Japanese


My plan to continue studying particles this week continues to be enacted.

Particles:

1. made ("mah-deh"): Up to, until

2. kara ("ka-ra"): from, After, because

In a sentence, I think these particles would be placed like so:

Yoru kara asa made suimin shi  masu.

Translation:

Yoru (night) kara (until) asa (morning) made (to) suimin (sleep) shi (next) masu (measure).

As I understand it:

Night until morning to sleep next which one.

English translation:

I sleep from night until the next morning.

 

Also, one non-particle word

Neko: Cat

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Oy. Nani shi te neko.

 

 

That is it for today.

Blog Entry 9/10/2013

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Today, I went to my second interview at a job I was told I could get two weeks ago. I got there late and had trouble completing an applicant questionnaire because of store errors, but I was still allowed an interview. Thank God for forgiveness. With those out of the way, the biggest issue is my transportation. If hired, I will be getting a ride to and from work from family until I purchase my own car. Once I get my own car, this big issue will be resolved. Until then, my word to come to work each day I am assigned is both a promise and act of faith. I am going in tomorrow for a drug test and background check authorization. Also, I will attempt to get hours I can come to work which will most likely be in the late morning to afternoon and evening to night.

I got a referral from a manager to initially apply and two others are friendly with me. One of them offered to refer me to the hiring manager after we talked about bikes for twenty minutes or so. I think I will enjoy working with them. The manager I spoke with during my second interview said I would actually be better suited to management than the position I applied for based on my personality, but that business is not hiring management right now. If a management position becomes available, I might apply to test that recommendation.

Other than that, a storm suddenly appeared while I was at my volunteer job. There was some thunder that sounded like laughter to me. I know it is weird, but that is what came to mind when hearing it.

I downloaded Star Trek Online, but did not like it, so I deleted it after ten minutes of gameplay. I also downloaded Star Wars: The Old Republic. Supposedly, that game cost five hundred million (US) to make, so I expect an enjoyable experience with it. If not, I will feel sorry for the Bioware and the now-closed LucasArts. I think Electronic Arts would survive without any major damage. I gave Team Fortress 2 one final chance to impress me and I enjoyed it. I had to move to another room to do so, though. My room (Where I was playing the other day)is so far away from the router that there is not a good enough connection to play online in favorable conditions. It is the same with my PlayStation 3 and tablet, but my laptop has the best wireless connection out of the three at that distance. Because I like the comfort of my own room, I may invest in a wifi extender.

Japanese

I learned some Japanese yesterday. For the rest of the week, I will be focus on them for memorization purposes starting with two. 


The structure of Japanese sentences differs from English sentences. English sentences are structured subject-verb-object. Japanese sentences are subject-object-verb. Object-subject-verb is also okay. As long as the verb is at the end of the sentence, the sentence is okay.

Example:

English: Luke invited MacLeod.

Japanese: MacLeod Luke invited. Luke MacLeod invited.

The way to know who invited who here is by placing particles after each noun phrase. The particle for the action performer is "ga" and the particle for the action reciever is "o." Both of the following Romaji sentences mean Luke invited MacLeod.

1. Ruuku ga Makuraudo o sasotta.

Taking a look at the structure of the sentence:

Ruuku (Luke) (topic) ga (subject-identifier/action performer) Makuraudo (MacLeod) o (action reciever) sasotta (past-tense of sasou=invited).

2. Makuraudo o Ruuku ga sasotta.

Taking a look at this sentence's structure, too:

Makuraudo (MacLeod) o (action reciever) Ruuku (Luke) ga (subject-identifier/action performer) sasotta (past-tense of sasou=invited).

Just so this is clear, I will say it again.

1. ga: subject-marking particle

2. o: direct object-marking particle

"Ga" and "o" are Japanese grammar. They have no English translation.

 

That is all for now.

Blog Entry 9/8/2013

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My Japanese studies are going well. The Japanese language has three writing systems. There is Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. You have to learn all three in order to be fluent and literate because most sentences use a combination of the three systems.

For example, while English has the Latin-Roman characters to form the sentence "How are you?," Japanese uses the three writing systems to say the same thing. It looks like this: EDIT: Gamespot does not allow Japanese characters. Here is a link to some phrases in Japanese with their English translation.

http://www.linguanaut.com/english_japanese.htm

Note: "How are you?" is the fifth phrase on the list for those who are looking to find it fast.

As long as I am writing this blog about the Japanese language, I might as well say some of what I know about it.

Kanji is actually based on Chinese characters because the Japanese people and the Ainu, the natives who lived in Japan before the people we know today migrated to the islands, had no written language. Even though Kanji and Chinese characters may be the same, they have different meanings depending on the language. Next, Hirigana is not an alphabet. It is a phonetic system based on five vowels with consonants used before the vowels. Katakana is the writing system used for non-Chinese foreign words and they are distinguishable because of that. Also, Katakana is used for formal writing like upper-case letters in English.

More information on Katakana: http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar/katakana

I memorized most of the kana, so now I can learn words without romaji versions. I still need to learn the meaning of the words, so I use definitions in english to understand. I also started learning kanji. A typical Japanese high school student knows about two-thousand kanji and scholars know about seven-thousand, so I have many to memorize.

In order to become aquainted with the Japanese language in use, I watch and listen to Japanese lessons I find on the internet. They help show how to move the mouth when speaking because the language is unique and not based on Latin like English which happens to be my native language. I also watch anime and listen to Japanese music. So far, it is going well and I hope my studies will continue to be fruitful.