Ikaruga Progress Report: Aka my attempts to get the first stage to an A. Still no A rank. But I can consistently get the B rank now. And that is better than consistently receiving C’s consistently. Hooray for progress.
Ikaruga is one of the few games where I have gone out of my way to study play throughs by other players. Watching the S++ runs, seeing how they approach different parts of the level, how they maximize scoring opportunities and the risks they take. As an example, during the opening section I went from scoring a hundred thousand (and less) to three hundred thousand (and above) by learning from those players who have mastered the game.
And it is not just the scoring that has gotten better. The fun factor has gone up. Higher scoring demands more risk taking, more aggression, more chances being taken. And while the odds of dying significantly increase (I still get flustered by last second polarity switching) the sheer thrill of it makes the game much more rewarding and exciting then by hanging pack and playing passively.
I have learned a few new things as well. Hitting enemies of opposite polarities does twice as much damage. Yes, if you get hit you die but you can deplete health faster before last second switching to get a bounty of bullets that super charge the special attack meter. And then those specials can super charge scoring. It all works together in a beautiful way.
It’s a jungle (Gym) out there: As Rise of the Tomb Raider nears a crescendo, Lara finds herself at the ends of the earth, standing before a Lost City ensconced in an icy wasteland. Long since abandoned by mortal man, only the deathless remnants of the prophet’s ancient army wander the streets.
Fighting those guys is fun and all, but what is way more fun is turning the place into a parkour park. The Lost City gradually gets more linear as set piece events are set up (which is fine) but the opening section is a ragtag collection of broken houses and hollow streets, ravaged by a long-ago siege. Urban environments (when done right) are pretty great for exploring and getting around. And the Lost City is a blast to scamper around. I have long since finished Rise. I still come back to the lost city to run around, climb around and abseil to my heart’s content.
Buildings are densely packed to allow for free running jumping between roofs. The houses broken in the siege are full of impromptu entrances and exits, making for a lot of uninterrupted and fluid paths. Both the roofs and shattered houses have an abundance of places to fire off rope arrows, allowing the rigging up of abseiling lines. That, along with grapple hook points, bestowing the precious gift of verticality. Going from the very bottom of the level to the very top and back again in mere seconds is a blast.
The Lost City is also a fun traversal if one wishes to take it slow. I dig abandoned places, and the Lost City is as abandoned as a place can be. Well, it is once the supernatural undead soldiers have been incapacitated. The mortal population has long since passed. Animal skeletons lay idle in stables, what is left of daily life speaks to a population trying to push through a siege but ultimately failing and all the documents and relics found here help to flesh out the visuals. It feels rather lonely, and when the combat is finished there is only the sound of Lara’s footsteps ringing out amongst the hollow streets.
This place has fast become one of my favourite places in video games.
Talking myself out of buying a fighting game: Some time ago, YouTube, apropos of nothing started recommending me Dragon Ball Z Abridged clips. I had not watched anything related to Dragon Ball Z in a long time. At first I ignored these recommendations, but they kept coming and eventually I gave them a watch. I had a blast and eventually, started watching full episodes – I should have done that a lot sooner. Granted, I got on board as the series had finished but better late then never. Anyhow, watching DBZA lead to watching more Team Four Star stuff and eventually their gaming channel and streams. They played (still play) a lot of Dragon Ball FighterZ. And the more I watched, the more fun I found it. And the more I watched it, the more I thought I could finally buy and play a fighting game. And the deluxe edition was on massive sale now, so why not?
Then the wheels started turning. The game at this point is massive. That means there is a lot of characters. That is a lot of characters to learn. That is a lot of moves and combos and tells to learn. Then there would be the issue of getting all the characters not in the edition that I buy, and the cycle of learning them. This could be a tricky, time devouring process.
And then while wrestling with the counter points (learning new things is fun! Learning new things is rewarding! Getting good at something is rewarding!) it dawned on me patches are a thing. I could spend ages practicing with my characters and they could get buffed. Yay! They could also get nerfed into the ground. Oh no. Then there would be issue of learning everything that changed in the patch for all the relevant characters.
Then I returned to the question of time. If I am going to be good at this (no one likes losing at a competitive game) that would be a massive time investment. Like, spending hours running sessions in training and all that stuff. I have only just got myself into a position of doing hobbies and studying somewhat consistently, and that delicate balance could be decimated by combo learning and what not.
I did not buy Dragon Ball FighterZ. One day I will not talk myself out of buying a fighting game. Not this day, not any day in the near future, but one day. May be. Perhaps.