Living the Good Life, Episode 47 (August 25, 2017 ): Shovelry!

You know the drill, friends ;D

WATCHAN:

Knight’s and Magic episode 8: This was another really fun episode! It starts off with a big battle against a bunch of insectoid monsters led by a big queen beastie (as these kinds of things almost invariably are), where Ernesti’s new mechs (especially his cavalry centaur mechs) destroy them easily. Ernesti taking out the queen with a sort of mecha-chariot type thing was really coo. After that, the rest of the episode was more sedate: The bug monsters were converging towards a village of elves who not so coincidentally produce the engines for the mecha in this series, so the elves allow Ernesti to learn their secrets as a reward for his heroism! So we get a lot of exposition on how these mecha engines (called Ether Reactors) work and are produced, and since Ernesti makes a couple of his own, he’s able to finally build the mech of his dreams. At long last, we finally, FINALLY get to see the main character’s mech, the Ikaruga! Just a glimpse at the very end of the episode, but hopefully it gets to show off its moves in the next episodes…with only 4 left, it better!

But my favorite part of this ep was the depiction of the elven village. While I hear that the elves in the original novels were pretty “typical,” in the anime the elves had sort of weird, bunny-ear like hair extensions. Not that attractive, but not that bad either. The best part was how their village looked, the buildings and architecture were both beautiful and alien. It’s been a very long time since I’ve watched a nice fantasy anime that had really distinctive foreign races, the sort that made you feel like you were really in a fantasy world instead of just medieval Europe, and this episode delivered. So, yeah, I’m still enjoying myself quite a bit! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

EATAN:

 

 

TIMAN:

w0000t! Sky got back to me! She looked over episode 24, so now Starseeker and I just gotta do some quality checking–spelling, adjusting the dialogues to scene breaks (cause the Italian dialogue sometimes lasts a little longer than the Japanese, so we have to re-time it slightly), that kinda thing, and then it should be out soon! πŸ˜€

PLAYAN:

Just beat Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope last night.

Hooo boy. It was…an experience.

I gotta say, Shovel Knight does what it sets out to do very, very, very well. It aimed to be like the classic Nintendo sidescrollers of yesteryear, and hits the mark perfectly. The graphics are spritework, but capture the feel of old platformers like Ducktales and Castlevania very well, albeit with a few cheats to make things look nicer. The music is 8-bit chiptunes, but the compositions are wonderful, easily as good as the old Castlevania songs. And so on, and so forth…it was like playing a new version of a game from my childhood.

Equally nostalgic (in a good way) is the plot. Shovel Knight is a pretty stand-up hero, and his objective is to rescue his beloved, a female warrior named Shield Knight, from the clutches of the evil Enchantress. In order to do so, he has to fight the servants of the Enchantress, called the Order of No Quarter–they’re a bunch of knights with their own gimmicks (Mole Knight burrows, Plague Knight brews potions, etc), and they’re the bosses of the game. So yeah, a pretty thin plot, but there’s a lot of fun to be had along the way–you can interact with the villagers as you buy things, the bosses say funny things when you fight them, and so on. There’s nothing grim or distressing about the story, no violence or anything like that, just some humorous puns and gentle jokes. None of the bosses die when you defeat them, they just (sorta) reform their evil ways. One thing even this simple, child-friendly story does well, though, is illustrate how badly your hero wants to rescue his girlfriend. After defeating a few bosses you have a dream sequence by a campfire where you have to save a falling Shield Knight, and at the very end of the game, when you rescue her, you actually have to catch her for real, and the feeling is pretty moving. Especially considering how difficult the game can get, it does a great job of conveying the feeling of having overcome a great obstacle to finally save your beloved.

The difficulty is where the Shovel Knight team (Yacht Club) really did a good job, IMO. In a lot of classic games like Castlevania, you only had a limited amount of lives, so if you died a lot in a stage you’d be sent back to the very beginning, if not further. That might have been kinda sadistic in this day and age, so there are a multitude of checkpoints scattered throughout each level, meaning you don’t lose much progress when you die (aside from a bit of the gold you have in your inventory). However, for folks who want an old-school challenge, you can destroy those checkpoints if you want for a monetary reward, so you can essentially make the levels as difficult as you want–destroy no checkpoints for an easy time, or destroy all of them for a huge reward but also massive risk! Pretty inventive, huh?

That said, even with the “adjustable” difficulty of the checkpoints, some of the later stages are extremely frustrating, especially Propeller Knight’s stage. They’re not so bad once you get the hang of them, but I found myself getting very irritated at parts. I think some of this may be due to my controller, though…I’ve heard Shovel Knight has extremely crisp, smooth controls, but I was using a joypad (rather than a keyboard), and it’s a Logitech brand…when I looked at it I think it may have been oversensitive. I’ll check to see if I can change those settings the next time I play. But for now, with Shovel of Hope done with, it’s time to explore the bonus campaigns: Plague Knight and Specter Knight, who were bosses in the main Shovel Knight campaign! It sure is mighty cool for Yacht Club to give those games to me free of charge, though I bought the game pretty early, and I hear it was a reward for those like me–nowadays folks have to pay for each campaign separately. Lucky me, then πŸ˜€

READAN:

I read the Shovel Knight guidebook as I played through the game. This…this was OK. It’s not really a strategy guide, nowhere near as involved as the old-school strategy guides were. As you can expect for something aimed at kids, there are lots of pictures, some gentle puns, that sorta thing, and brief descriptions of the stages and strategies for the bosses, but not detailed stage layouts or anything like that. Still OK, I suppose. Maybe I’d have been justified in expecting more if they’d called it a “strategy guide” specifically rather than just a guidebook :p

I also checked out Legacy of the Wulfen, which is two books: Curse of the Wulfen, by David Annandale, and Legacy of Russ, by my main man Robbie Macniven. Both were good, but as you can expect, I liked Robbie’s book better. XD No, really, not just because I know him. Let me lay out what happens in both stories, hopefully without spoiling too much.

They involve the Space Wolf chapter of Space Marines in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. In Curse of the Wulfen, the Space Wolves (scifi vikings, pretty much) embark on a quest to recover their fellow warriors of the 13th Company, who have been lost for many years and have mutated into savage beasts, the titular Wulfen. However, it soon becomes apparent that the sudden reappearance of the Wulfen is a plot by the evil forces of Chaos (interdimensional horrors trying to invade our dimension), and the second book, Legacy of Russ, revolves around how the Space Wolves attempt to foil the scheme, which was also intended to spark a civil war between them and other chapters of the Space Marines, most notably the Dark Angels!

Much of what I described in previous reviews of 40k books applies to this double-feature. Pretty light on characterization, though one old-school fan-favorite character, Ragnar, does make an appearance and he’s pretty much as you older fans would recognize. Not that difficult to get the “angry viking” personality right, though πŸ˜› The real strength of both stories are the battle scenes–demons consuming entire planets, with the Space Wolves roaring in on their gunships to take the forces of Hell (Chaos, but same difference) back to where they belong! Overall, though, I think Macniven is a better battle writer than Annandale. In Curse of the Wulfen, most of the battle paragraphs are composed of several short sentences in rapid-fire succession. I know short, brisk sentences are supposed to be good for keeping readers into the fight, so to speak, but I think it’s also possible to go overboard with that approach. Annandale’s fight scenes, though tolerably choreographed, didn’t really draw me in. The short, repeated sentences made the combat seem as if it was constantly stuttering and starting instead of each blow, parry, or shift in the tides of battle seguing smoothly into the other.

The fight scenes in Legacy of Russ, on the other hand, were as good as Robbie’s work in Red Tithe πŸ˜€ Great choreography, readers kept on the edge of their seats, and so on. Sentence length and structure were more varied–some short crisp sentences, but many linked through commas, more evocative use of sound effects (“a muffled whoosh of meltaguns” on page 363), and so on. Definitely better, IMO. So yeah, while I liked both stories, I liked Robbie’s the best πŸ˜€

WRITAN:

Nope, nothin this week either, still waitin, still waitin…

SHOOTAN:

Went to take a rifle course last Friday and Saturday. Pretty good times…the instructor covered a lot of stuff about gun safety I already knew (I memorized the 4 rules: Treat Every Gun As If It’s Loaded, Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger Till You Wanna Fire, Keep It Pointed In A Safe Direction, and Know Your Target And What’s Behind It), but a refresher never hurt. I also got some tips on how to “sight” the gun and hold it, which were nice. I fired a .22 with a scope and got some decent accuracy, so I think one of those would probably really help me with an AR-15. Now, my accuracy wasn’t perfect–I hit a bunch of shots off center even when the crosshairs seemed to be directly on target, and when I tried to “adjust” for that my shots went even wider, but the instructor said the gun I was using was actually his wife’s and that I shouldn’t adjust the scope or else she’d get mad at him (lol), so that was probably it. So next time if I get to fiddle with the scope on the AR I should do better πŸ˜€

Man, this was a very productive week! On to the next~

 

 

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2 comments

  1. cormagravenstaff · · Reply

    Yo, I got a quick question. With your dissertation, what degree are you going for?

    1. Ph.D in American history πŸ˜€

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