Have You Ever Been To A Video Game Music Concert?

Yesterday, after having recorded my weekly podcast, my friend Francis and I were sitting down, chatting, and browsing the interweb—yes, that word exists!

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On my Facebook feed, Francis noticed an upcoming Ghibli show in Montreal. He screamed in excitement. I stared in confusion. I, for one, had no idea what Ghibli was. So I asked him. And he explained. Simple, right?

Now explain it to us.

My pleasure.

Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation film studio. The performers in Montreal will be playing scores from Studio Ghibli, heard in movies such as Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke—movies which I have yet to see but have heard of on numerous occasions.

While scrolling through the OVMF website, I saw a concert titled “NES Concert”. This drew my attention right away. I clicked on the link, read the description, and my heart-race increased: there is an NES Concert this October, in Montreal. Scores will be performed from games such as Kirby, Final Fantasy, Super Mario, Metroid, and more.

I asked Francis if he wanted to go, and he said yes. We will be buying our tickets in the coming days hopefully.

I have heard of many people who went to video game concerts in the past, but I have never gone to one. I am very excited for this NES Concert. Being able to hear an orchestra perform hits from classic video games is sure to send shivers down my spine—all the way to my coccyx.

Have you ever been to a video game music concert?

Chant-note: DO not REply; it is MIne, this FAcetious SOng that LAnguishes the TIp of the human DOgma.

Dark Souls 3: The Reason Of My Absence

Why hello there.

I haven’t posted in a while.

We know. We have just been so eager to hear from you.

That swells my heart!

Now now; onto the topic at hand, please.

The culprit behind my inactivity is a video game from one of my all time favorite video game franchises: the Dark Souls franchise. I have been playing Dark Souls since the release of the first one back in 2011.

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In 2016, Dark Souls 3—I just watched the video that I linked you to, and I have goosebumps all over; I adore this game, so much—was released. I bought it the moment it came out—well, I mean, not the moment it came out, but you get the idea—, and purchased the deluxe edition. The deluxe edition included all expansions that were to be released for the game in the future. The previous Dark Souls games had two to three expansions each, and for me this extra purchase was a must.

I played through about half of the game throughout the course of the first few weeks after having purchased it, but then school, work, and personal endeavors took over and Dark Souls 3 was put on the back burner.

However, after having completed my second cycle in osteopathy a few weeks ago and having received my diploma—yay!—, this game that had been calling my name for months and months finally had its prayers fulfilled: it got air time on my TV. And not just a little bit—hence my disappearance of late—but a good 20-30 hours in the past two weeks. I just finished the last boss of the game, and now all that is left are the two expansions—well, I’m almost done one of them already.

So. Much. Fun.

So. Much. Information. But would you mind telling us what Dark Souls is at least? All I can tell is that it does sound dark. And maybe fun?

Dark Souls is considered to be among the hardest and most frustrating video games ever made. It is a game where you can easily be killed by the weakest monsters in the game. It is a game in which you will die—without exaggerating—hundreds, if not thousands, of times before completing the game. Frustration is bound to ensue many times over.

Now that doesn’t sound very appealing. Frustration. More Frustration. And even some more. Where are the words “fun” and “enjoyment”?

You are right. This game is not made for everyone, although that can be said for any game. Dark Souls targets a particular audience. As a matter of fact, a few of my friends have tried it, and all but one quit out of frustration no more than 45 minutes after having started; however, the one who did enjoy it bought an Xbox 360 two days later simply to be able to play Dark Souls, because he enjoyed the experience so much. So to answer your question: the difficulty level of this game is what appeals to me, and to many others out there too. For me, too few games offer an extremely difficult and in-depth challenge to beat, something that I strive for in video games. Dark Souls offers just this.

When you beat a boss in this game—normally after many trials and having learnt through experience from the multiple deaths he has caused you—the satisfaction is immense. You managed to beat the horrible odds, and came out on top due to skill as well as trial and error tactics. And when you beat a boss, you receive his “soul essence”, and you can transfuse it into a special weapon, shield, or item, depending on the soul you acquired.

Two main causes of frustration in the game are the following:

  • All enemies always respawn once you die. All of them except bosses and mini-bosses. That means that if you just spent 42 minutes killing enemies and venturing towards the bosses’ area, and that you die, you must kill all those monsters anew to make it back to the bosses’ area. Also, if you run out of estus flasks—basically potions—you must rest at a bonfire to replenish your health and your estus flask count. However, once again, every time that you rest at a bonfire, all monsters respawn.
  • The experience points mechanism, called “souls”. Any monster you defeat yields souls. Any boss you defeat also yields souls, often many more than a typical foe. Souls are used as currency in the game, as well as for leveling up your character—the Ashen One. The catch is that if you die at any point during the game, all of your unused souls that you are carrying on you are dropped at the location of your death. If you manage to retrieve them, congratulations to you. But if you die again before picking them up, they are lost forever, and are replaced by a new soul drop where you just died. Also, you cannot simply level up at any time in the game, or else it would be too easy to always use up all your souls. You must go to see one specific character in the game to level up, and there is no other way than that. Therefore you must be extremely careful when carrying many souls on you, or else you will get very angry. Grrrr.

Now, imagine the following scenario—true story that occurred during my last two weeks of play—:

You have been killing monsters for about an hour. You stumble across a hoard of monsters—in this game a hoard is anything as little as two monsters, because they can brutally punish you by chipping away at your stamina—and you die. You drop all the souls that you have been collecting for the past hour, enough to level up about four times. You then set out to go retrieve them, but all the monsters have respawned. Easy as 3.14 pie; you decide to play more carefully and defend more frequently just to assure you make it back to your heaping souls crying out in despair on the ground, threatening to leave you if you die again on your journey back to them. And then as you are just nearby the area with your souls that were dropped, you get excited. And so you decide to run across that bridge a little less cautiously than normally. And you accidentally fall off.

Your previous soul drop is now gone.

Those souls are gone.

Forever.

Well, this long briefly summarizes Dark Souls. I am sad to hear that they will not be making a fourth game in this series because the director felt strangled by having to only create the world of Dark Souls. He wants to expand to new horizons and make new games. However, I am very happy that there are three games in this series, with around six to seven expansions throughout the series. I am already planning on playing the first one again sometime soon—probably once I finish doing everything there is to do in Dark Souls 3.

I will write some more posts with regards to Dark Souls in the future, such as explaining the lore, which I also love tremendously.

Dark-note: never leave your soul lying on the ground. You might lose it. Forever.

Board Game Review: Hero Realms

Board game aficionado Jonathan here.

Two weeks ago, I went to the Randolph boutique to use my gift certificate to acquire a new board game. I received this 25$ gift card because I volunteered this past March at the annual Montreal Joue gaming pic3236535.pngfestival, in Montreal.

Really? I would have never guessed that Montreal Joue was in Montreal.

I was contacted in March a few days after Montreal Joue and was told that a 25$ gift certificate was waiting for me at the boutique to thank me for my volunteer work. I already have many games that I haven’t tried, so I didn’t rush out to get something new—to say the least, I didn’t have a clue as to what game I wanted.

I finally decided to go two weeks ago.

I leisurely walked around the store in athleisure, and couldn’t seem to find a game in the 25$ range. I decided to take one last walk around the store, in case a game decided to call me out or something—and one did.

Low and behold: Hero Realms stood before me.

The box was glaring at me from the shelf, calling my name.

I had heard about this game in the past, and I wanted to try it. To my luck, it was priced at 23,99$, which was exactly what I had to spend. So I decided to pick it up—and wow, am I happy I did.

I opened the game a few days after getting it, and played it many times in the first day—wait, can you guess how many times?

Hmmm, 5?

A little more.

Intense much? 10? 11? 100? 9000?

Exactly: 11 times.

What is Hero Realms?

Hero Realms is a 2 to 4 player deck-builder game in which each player has 50 hit points. Your goal is to be the last one with hit points remaining. To eliminate other players, you buy cards to strengthen your deck which will allow you do bigger combos as the game progresses.

Each turn, you draw 5 cards, and you can play them in any order you wish. Your possible actions are mainly:

  • Playing cards from your hand to get various bonuses;
  • Buying new cards using gold;
  • Attacking by adding up all your combat strength.

Once your turn is over, the next player takes his 5 cards, takes his turn, and so forth.

The game ends, as mentioned, when there is only one player left standing.

My Thoughts of Hero Realms

I think I already know the answer to this one.

Yup: I love it.

The game lasts about 15-30 minutes when playing with 2 players, and I enjoy starting off with a crummy deck and trying to build it into something epic. Each game feels different, even though there are only 80 or so different purchasable cards that come with game.

I tried the 4-player variant where each team of 2 players has a total of 75 hit points, and it was also a lot of fun. However, the 3-player variant wasn’t to my liking; I really prefer this game as a symmetrical 1 on 1 or 2 on 2.

Have you ever played Hero Realms? Or any other game 11 times in a day?

Hero-note: I wish I was playing right now, and that I could play 11 times.