Sickness tricks

So, I said I would tell you the other thing that kept me company while ill, and here it is.

Today's subject is
Dark Cloud

Whenever I'm low on cash, but feel like a game, i'll go over to a local store and pick up some really cheap old PS2 games. This was one such game. It was left to collect dust on my game cabinet for quite some time in the shadow of newer games, but my illness was the best excuse I could find to dig this out of my back catalog. The story of this game is probably the most laughable thing ever and can easily be forgotten, but it's basically about an evil dude who summoned an evil genie who started destroying the world. A magical fairy saved everyone but put them into these little balls that you have to go collect to help rebuild the world, then you are expected to fight the genie. You were selected by the fairy to save the world. I call my character fairy boy every time I play. Immature? Yes. Fun? You fucking bet. 

Anyway, this game is about as classic a dungeon crawler that you're going to get. When you enter your first dungeon you get bombarded by a wave of information. You have weapons, all of which have a breaking point. If your weapon breaks, it is gone forever. The only weapon that doesn't break is your starting weapon, which is always pretty worthless. Your weapons are also able to be upgraded after continued use, and after leveling to a sufficient point they can be broken down and added to other weapons. You also have a thirst gauge while in the dungeon. If your thirst gauge runs out, your health starts to deteriorate. 

Along your travels you develop a team of allies that you can switch to while in the dungeons, but they are all moderately useless and only occasionally shoehorned into the game. 

All in all, I found myself slowly becoming an accountant going over my inventory and weapon building trying to figure out how to max out my stats to increase the speed of my swings as well as their power. It was a great experience, and you can easily lose hours on it. I was informed that I should play Dark Cloud 2 now, as I am told it was much better in the story department.

Can anyone confirm this?

Double Post Monday(Don't expect this to happen ever again)!: Scary Stories - A Dramatic Reading

Two posts in one day! This one is me getting rid of my backlog of stuff to talk about. I should admit, I am a fan of scary stories and tales that cause goosebumps to go up your spine. I actively seek out these stories and often find just the right thing to get my fix. One day, I landed on a gold mine in the form of one woman's youtube channel. The subject of this post is

The Little Fears
I blame this book for my obsession with scary stories

The Little Fears is a youtube channel that takes scary stories from around the web that were traditionally in a written format and gives theme a dramatic reading. I personally find the reader's voice to be smooth and relaxing, which often betrays the actual meaning of what she is saying. It creates a sort of cognitive dissonance that is perfect for unsettling someone, rather than jumping out and scaring them. It is this kind of gradual horror, and occasionally psychological horror, that I feel our entertainment mediums are really missing the mark on these days. We need more slow creeping horror and less jumping at the screen horror. In that facet, The Little Fears provides wonderfully. There is only one video that she has ever released that could even be viewed as a 'screamer.' Even then, it doesn't appear to have been intended that way. One fair warning though, she updates so rarely, that one of her readings will only show up once in a blue moon. However, it is almost always worth the wait.

Go give her some views, she deserves it.

Illness and how to handle it. A.k.a. Why I didn't post this weekend

Something about me I probably haven 't mentioned before, I get sick easily. I'm not sure why, but my immune system is utter shit. I spent the weekend running between my bed and the bathroom. It wasn't that bullshit kind of sickness where you just wake up and 'feel kinda bad.' No. There is a distinct difference between those days and what I had. On those days, you sit up in bed, open your mouth, say you don't feel well, and lay back down. What I had was more, sit up in bed, open your mouth, paint the nearest wall with a grayish-green goup, and lay back down.

Not pictured: The freshly painted wall

I'll spare you the rest of the details and move on to talking about what I did over the weekend to make me forget about my sickness. The first thing I did was used this as an excuse to read a book a friend bought me a long time ago. This book was called House of Leaves. House of Leaves is designed to be a story within a story. The first story is of a guy who is running his life into the ground and is just trying to seek every pleasure he can. This man finds the notes of a guy who was trying to create a documentary about a peculiar house. As the man explores and tries to complete the documentary, his life of debauchery slowly crumbles around him. The story within the story is about a famous photographer and his family as they get a new house on Ash Tree Lane. The house seems fine, but small things about it are off. The earliest mention of this is that the house is just slightly larger on the inside than it is on the outside.

This image comes form a randomly selected page. It does get that screwy late in the book.

This book is a great little mindfuck that will leave you reading through its appendix looking for more. I definitely recommend it to anyone who would love a good psychological horror story, with the stipulation that that person be over the age of 18 or have permission from their parents. It's a great story, but it is definitely adult only at certain points.

The other thing I used to pass time I'll talk about tomorrow.

University in the United States

When I attended High School here in the good old USA, there was not a single student in my graduating class that wasn't planning to go to a University after they graduated. From our first year of High School, all the way to our senior year, we were told that if we wanted to live well, we had to go to college. We were told that all people deserved and needed to go to college, and that college was made for everyone. I truly believed this at the time, as I was a gullible 17 year old. However, now that I've been in the University system, I can whole-heartedly say

University is NOT for Everyone

Look like an exclusive kind of place? That's cause it is.

My rage at this issue is from a friend. Recently I tried to explain to him that not everyone needs to go to college to be perfectly successful and happy. My friend was completely convinced that I was crazy and that if someone wanted a good job, they needed a diploma to prove that they earned it.

My friend found me upset because he honestly believed that people who have no aspirations beyond a roof, a family and a job should still have to go to college to get all of those things. I asked about the unbelievable amounts of debt that person would be in, and was told it is all inconsequential. I persisted, saying that upwards of $60,000 in debt that I've seen many seniors come out of Universities with was not inconsequential  and represented nearly a years pay or more for many people leaving college. This was once again dismissed, this time saying that it was 'worth it.' I asked how it was worth it. I didn't really get a response beyond, they get to have an education. I explained that anyone leaving High School does have some amount of education, and that there are some that don't feel they need to have more of it. My friend was getting snarky and simply said, "They do if they want to be successful." I decided to explain to him how wrong he was. I told him the story of a man I know by the name of D.K.(For anonymities sake, I wont post his real name). 
No. Not that DK

This is a man who instantly began working in food service after High School. He worked as a low level employee for about three years and eventually became the manager of a chain restaurant. After learning how to run a restaurant, he set out to make his own. He started a restaurant and became very successful, making six digits each year. He then started another restaurant, which had a similar effect on his income. Eventually, he sold both of his restaurants for a few hundred million dollars. He is now 36 and lives happily a mansion with his wife. He was successful, happy, rich, and never went to college. My friend believed I was telling him a lie, as no one who chooses work over college becomes rich. I eventually had to introduce my friend to D.K. in order for him to believe me. 

What this entire experience taught me was that students in America believe so ardently that they have to go to college to be successful, that they've forgotten that experience is just as(if not more) important than knowledge. 

Break Time #1

I realize that I've made two posts and both have been very serious. I think it's time for a break, some time where I can write about, and you can read about, something a bit less serious.

Quite possibly the best game I've played in ages

You start Portal 2 as Chell, a woman who has been put into cryogenic sleep after destroying a large robot, GLaDOS, who ran the Aperture Science facility. GLaDOS can be accurately described as a crazy ass bitch who wanted to have you preform science tests with her for the rest of your life. While you escaped her clutches, Aperture is slowly falling apart without GLaDOS. You wake up from your cryogenic sleep an unknown amount of time later by the small robot name Wheatly. With Wheatly's help, you begin your escape from Aperture, but along the way you accidentally revive your old enemy GLaDOS and the testing begins once again.

The story is macabre while still being very funny at times. From the realization that you are completely under the control of an insane robot who is out for revenge, to that same robot making monotone fat jokes about you, the game goes from horror to comedy very quickly. While this would be the death of some creative works, it is actually what makes Portal fantastic. You'll find yourself venturing through a dark world with a smile on your face as you face puzzle after clever puzzle. 

The story doesn't end with Chell, though. Portal 2 separates itself from its predecessor by including a completely separate cooperative campaign. In the Co-Op campaign, you take control of one of two bipedal robots, Atlus or P-body, as you preform testing for the maniacal robot overlord GLaDOS. 

Atlas(Left) is my favorite of the two robots. Look at that Gritty Mofo. He is ready to get down and dirty...For Science.

She leads you through the testing stations all the while praising your existence as robots, while also taking stabs at your performance of each task. An interesting feature of the Co-Op is the gesture and indicator systems by which you can non-verbally tell you partner where to place portals or just show a sign of affection or anger. These gestures are also related to the story of the Co-Op, as GLaDOS begins to take notice of your growing human behavior.

I can say that the Co-Op is one of the best parts of this game and should be considered the major selling point. It is one of the most interesting types of multiplayer I've seen in quite some time and really brings a refreshing breeze to the constant Call of Duty-esk online gameplay the gaming community has been seeing over the past few years.

I will say that there is one major drawback. Portal 2 suffers, to a lesser degree, from the same problem Portal 1 suffered. They single player stories of both games are short and leave the player wanting more. The good news is that Valve, the company who makes the game, announced that they plan to release plenty of downloadable content for the game that will all be free. With that in mind, I can't help but think Portal 2 is most definitely worth the $40 it now costs here in the United States. 

Being turned into a potato battery: Also a major Drawback

Portal 2 is out now for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. I personally recommend getting it for the PS3, as doing so gets you a free copy of the PC version anyway. However, if you only have an Xbox, don't let that deter you from picking up this great game.

The Osama Issue

Sunday night Osama Bin Laden, a man America had been chasing for around 10 years, was finally found. He was also killed in a firefight, suppose that is pretty important to mention. Of course, if you've been outside your basement over the past few days, you are probably aware of this. So why talk about it? Because I'm not honestly certain how I feel about the whole, "He's Dead," thing.

Coincidentally, anyone want to congradualte him on his second term?

I mean, yes, it is great that we've now bought ourselves a feeling of momentary safety. I say momentary because we here in America are likely to see a backlash from all of this some time soon. That is, if Al Qaeda isn't essentially a bunch of bumbling chimps without their cave jumping leader. My problem, though, is that he had to die. I probably sound like a terrorist now, but hear me out. I, like many Americans, value the sanctity of life. I believe we should do our best to preserve it and its quality. So, when I hear someone has been murdered, I can't help but feel a little sad.

Alright, I'll admit it. I just added this one for fun.

However, This guy was a mass murderer and he wasn't even killing people for one of the cool reasons, like because he saw it in a video game. He murdered people almost solely because they were from the west and weren't Muslims. The guy is a prick by all accounts, and while I'm sad he had to die, I'm not exactly upset to see him go. It's a very odd state of being.

I guess this is one of those times where we have to test our convictions. Do we join the people at ground zero that are essentially dancing on a man's grave, or do we feel a little sad that he had to die and move on?

It's up to you to choose.