Hi! And welcome to the Turtle Jump Show: the video game podcast of your hearts, and ours! In this episode we discuss Bioware’s Dragon Age Inquisition, a sprawling open world RPG full of fanciful fantasy.
As you may have noticed, the podcast has been on an unplanned and unannounced hiatus. We apologize for the lack of content and communication. However, we are back! Monday, May 11, the podcast will return with an episode on one of 2014’s biggest games, Dragon Age Inquisition. Paul and I both spent a lot of time with this game, and we’re eager to finally air our thoughts.
We have several other big episodes planned in the coming weeks. Also on the docket are Code Name S.T.E.A.M., Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Splatoon, and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. With E3 next month we have plans for pre- and post-show episodes as well. It’s an exciting time for gaming and for Turtle Jump.
As always we love to hear from our readers and listeners. If you have a question or topic you’d like us to discuss, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll read it on the air and you’ll become instantly famous among our small listener base. Some of our best episodes have come from answering listener mail.
We look forward to recording, and we hope to hear from you!
Hi! And welcome to the Turtle Jump Show: the video game podcast of your hearts, and ours. To our great dismay, Nintendo recently announced that the new Zelda for Wii U, previously slated for this year, has been delayed. We will not be receiving the game in stores this year, nor will it be present at E3 2015. Join us as we rant and rave about our major disappointment and give our two-cents about how Nintendo could try to fill the Zelda-shaped hole in our hearts this year.
This article is more of a stream of consciousness look at my thoughts as I played through the first few hours of the game. I’m planning to post a more in depth examination of the game’s mechanics and aesthetic based on my first few hours soon.
Bloodborne wasn’t really on my radar. I had seen it discussed on news sites some, but I didn’t know a lot about it. Then, out of nowhere, the floodgates opened and it was all over the Internet. I think it’s the only thing Polygon is reporting on right now. I didn’t have any experience with From Software titles. I only knew that they were hard, according to the chatter here and there. I had no plans to play Bloodborne. However, after reading several articles and watching a few let’s play videos on the early parts of the game, I was intrigued. I tried to resist for a while, but last Saturday I strolled into GameStop and slammed my sixty bucks on the counter, requesting a copy of Bloodborne.
Since then I have probably played three or four hours. I managed to reach the first boss, but it proved too challenging for my unskilled self. I’ve practiced, explored, and leveled up a bit, though, and I feel ready to take it on again soon. What follows are my impressions of the game from the opening cutscene to the first boss.
The game begins with an unkempt fellow talking about palebloods and transfusions. My character appears to be strapped to a table, and the guy gives me the opportunity to build my hunter. The character creation tool has myriad options of customization. Some of the sliders seem to have no visible effects, and others can cause the model’s face to contort in grotesque, inhuman shapes when assigned extreme values. The options are mostly intuitive, however, and I manage to create the character I want: a tall, slim fellow with a brooding, bookish face.
After creating my character, these nightmarish glowing pale things surround my guy on the table, and he passes out. When he awakens, I’m given the opportunity to explore the clinic. I find an angry wolf who kills me pretty quickly. When I awaken I’m in a hazy area called the Hunter’s Dream. The pale things are huddled up on the ground in a few places, and when I approach them, they offer notes with some gameplay info. A couple of them offer even more: a choice of weapons. I go with the threaded cane for my right hand weapon and a blunderbuss (a type of olde fashioned shotgun) for my left hand. Then I return to the clinic through a gravestone that acts as a warp.
The wolf that killed me is still there, but I manage to kill it in return. I exit the clinic into Central Yharnam, the first area of the game. Yharnam is a Victorian Gothic styled town with cobblestone roads, gas lamps, pointy iron fences, and lots of angry villagers. I wander through the streets fighting the occasional enemy wielding an ax, pitchfork, or torch. I find several gates that won’t open, and eventually I come to a lamp that serves as a checkpoint.
The trek from the clinic to the lamp didn’t present too many challenges. Most enemies were alone, and none of them caught me by surprise. I used this area to familiarize myself with the controls and the general layout of the land. The roads after the lamp, however, didn’t go as smoothly.
The lamp presents a crossroads: a closed gate to the left and a narrow street to the right. The gate won’t open, so I journey right. I come across a few enemies including one that tries to ambush me and another wielding a shield. Then the trouble begins. As I descend the stairs into the street below the shield enemy, I see a gang of villagers patrolling by. There are four or five of them, the most I’d seen together to this point. I wait for them to pass and attempt to catch them from behind. They notice as I approach, unfortunately, and I have to take them on.
I transform my cane to a whip using L1 (all weapons include a standard and a trick version). Its damage is weaker now, but it offers me better range and a wider area of attack. I swing, hitting three of them at once, and swing again. A few charge forward with their torches and pitchforks, and I dodge backward to avoid their blows. I dash forward again to press the attack and take a few hits. I stagger back, flick my whip, and all that’s left is a guy with a shield and a torch. My whip just bounces off his shield. I wait until he charges and lowers his guard, and I land the final blow. I take a moment to catch my breath before pressing on. Further down the street I get ambushed and die.
I start back at the lamp and take out the first few enemies again. I handle the patrolling gang a bit easier this time, and I’m ready for the ambushes ahead. Now a large mob of enemies armed to the teeth lie ahead surrounding a large bonfire. I try many times to take them out and die. And die. And die again. I didn’t count how many deaths I suffered here, but I’d be surprised if it were fewer than twenty. I manage a lucky break through the mob once, and a burly enemy wielding a cinder block beats me to death in the next area.
After many attempts I break the mob street battle down to a science. I take out this group as they patrol, weed out a couple of ambushes, take out another group of patrollers, sneak attack this guy, lure the next patrol off to the side, sneak attack the guy with the gun, grab the attention of the other patrol, kill them and the hound, take out the other gunman, and finally eliminate the stragglers around the bonfire. After more trial and error, I learn that the big guy in the next area is pretty easy to handle as well: wait on him to rear back with his block, hit him with the blunderbuss, and move in with a powerful visceral attack while he’s staggered. This method is important for many combat encounters, I’ve come to learn.
Even though I can (mostly) get through the mob every time at this point, it’s still a laborious process. Worse, I have to do it every time I fail since the checkpoint lamp is just before the bonfire. Several times I clear the mob, progress just a little further than before, and die. All the time I’m learning more of the nuances of Bloodborne’s combat.
I also learned more about how the levels are laid out. I cautiously explored before, but I skipped over several doors and windows where I could talk to the saner villagers. I eventually realized that I should pay attention to the lamps outside. If a door or window has a lamp lit, it most likely has a villager willing to spare some wisdom or ask for help. Additionally, I learned not to neglect breaking down the destructible parts of the environment. At first I didn’t bother since they never seemed to offer pickups, but they do, in fact, often hide secret passages.
In the area just past the bonfire mob, even before the big guy with the cinder block, I found a dropoff to a lower area hidden by some breakable boxes. I passed it ten or twenty times without noticing, but an online hint led me to it. Since then I’ve been breaking everything in sight. The new area had some hounds and cinder block guys, but I made short work of them. Then, gloriously, I found a gate that I could open. The lantern from earlier was on the other side. Now I had a way to bypass the bonfire! Hallelujah!
Since then I have explored the first area in the game pretty thoroughly (at least, I think so). I also gained the ability to level up once I found the first boss. I explored a hidden sewer area and found some cool stuff, including better armor and a new weapon. At this point I had a better handle on the game, and I managed to get through a lot of enemies and back to the lamp without dying. Using the blood echos retrieved from enemies, I leveled up a few times back in the Hunter’s Dream.
The initial frustrations at the bonfire served to make my later successes much more satisfying. There’s always a sense of tension going through a new area, especially when I have a lot of blood echos on the line (you lose them all when you die), but the feeling of relief and triumph that comes with playing well is delicious. I’m eager to play more. Next time, that boss is going down.
Hi! And welcome to the Turtle Jump Show: the video game podcast of your hearts, and ours. Nintendo recently announced a partnership with DeNA for developing games on mobile platforms. They also mentioned that their new console, dubbed NX, is in development. We give our thoughts, wants, and expectations.
Hi! And welcome to the Turtle Jump Show: the video game podcast of your hearts, and ours. This week we talk about OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood, the indie skateboarding game from Roll7, now available on PS4 and Vita. We also discuss Titanfall, amiibo, and bacon donuts.
Hi! And welcome to the Turtle Jump Show: the video game podcast of your hearts, and ours. This week we discuss video game lengths. Are games too long? Are they too short? Does a game’s length affect its value? How do you even measure game length, anyway? We give our thoughts in this episode.
Hi! And welcome to the Turtle Jump Show: the video game podcast of your hearts, and ours. This week we discuss The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, the remastered edition of the acclaimed Ocarina of Time sequel. Join us as we travel to the land of Termina, doomed to be destroyed by the falling moon, and relive the same three days in a quest to stop the mischievous Skullkid and return the stolen Majora’s Mask to the Happy Mask Salesman.
So we mentioned a little journey I went on back in 2011, when I attempted to play through all of the Zelda games in a row. This was, of course, in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Zelda. While I didn’t make it all the way through before Skyward Sword landed in November of that year, I did get half way through the last one, Twilight Princess. As requested by Allen, I am posting a link below to a series of articles that I was writing at the time, chronicling my adventures. I only ever finished the first three articles, but hey, what can you do? Ah, the things we mean to do but never get around to…
The time has come to bid a fond farewell to 2014 and to embrace the bright future of 2015. Recently, Allen and I were discussing just that, and we determined that we should start naming each year, with a focus on gaming. Of course, 2013 was The Year of Luigi, there was no question there. But what about 2014? It would be easy to look back and say it was The Year of Smash. Or perhaps, it was The Year of Destinies. Or maybe, it was the Year of Another CoD, the Year of the Zelda Reveal, or for some of you out there, the Year that Gaming Stood Still. But this article isn’t about you, reader. It’s about me. So the question at hand is, what was last year all about for me?
A BLEAK PREDICTION
Twenty-fourteen was the year that began with a thousand questions. If you don’t believe me, just go check out Episode 10 of our Podcast, where we looked forward at the next twelve months before us in both anticipation… and apprehension. It is no secret that, here at Turtle Jump, we fancy ourselves Nintendo Fanboys. This is undeniable in the light of our backlog of episodes, of which more than half are based on games played exclusively on Nintendo consoles. With that being said, January 2014 found both of us in a state of concern for the gaming company of our hearts. Since the launch of the Wii U, Nintendo had dug themselves in a financial and critical pit of despair. Sales for the home console were abysmal, gaming websites took to the interwebs to poke fun at them every chance they got, and even the dyed-in-the-wool fanbase, like us, found themselves shaking their heads and averting their eyes. Reading each new piece of press concerning the Wii U was like witnessing a car accident: unbearable to watch, but impossible to look away.
This time last year, I was a stalled gamer. I’d enjoyed my time playing Super Mario 3D World, but essentially every other game I turned to left me with a sour taste. The landscape of Gaming was not what I thought it would be. The Xbone and PS4 had landed, but to little or no effect. Call of Duty wasn’t enough to sell me a console. There were just no games out there to play. Nothing was calling to me anymore, I had no drive to go out. I walked into stores like GameStop and left without even considering a purchase. There was nothing to entice me, to draw me in, and I felt myself slipping away from the medium altogether.
THEN EVERYTHING CHANGED
By the time June arrived, I’ll admit I had all but given up. We had already been given two consecutive E3’s that promised to show Nintendo’s hand and really turn things around for the Kyoto-based company. I went into last year’s conference with equal parts anticipation and dread.I certainly never saw it coming when they came out swinging with more new IP announcements than I can ever remember seeing from them at a single conference: Splatoon? Captain Toad? Mario Maker? All of these and more rekindled within me that fire that had dwindled down to no more than a flickering spark. Could we really be on the precipice of something unforgettable? Could Nintendo, going on their third year on a “doomed” console, turn things around for the better?
Yes. We could.
Maybe you disagree? Maybe you weren’t impressed by Nintendo’s outing, or by Sony’s, or Microsoft’s. As the summer wound down, I found myself fervently searching for news on my favorite gaming sites. I sat and watched gameplay videos, read journalist’s impressions on the hottest new titles, and even began expanding my horizons. In September, I purchased a Playstation 4, along with Destiny. And over the next two months, I was captivated by the pure, unadulterated fun of playing online with my partners in crime. I found myself falling for a FPS for the first time since Halo 2. I was a new man, driven by a need to play that I hadn’t felt in ages.
And that same fervor that drove me to my PS4 for Destiny has bled over into new games, new experiences, and a love for gaming that I feared I would lose until the next incarnation of Zelda. Destiny fed into Super Smash Bros. (for 3DS and Wii U). SSB fed into Dragon Age: Inquisition, which turned me on to a brand new franchise that I will now revisit for years to come. From Dragon Age I fell into A Dark Room (iOS), Majora’s Mask 3D, and Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire. Now I have a slew of games on my list for 2015, from Code Name S.T.E.A.M. to The Witcher 3, and there’s no end in sight.
Gaming is now more vibrant and alive to me than it has been since I was a young boy. Perhaps 2014 was, for you, the Year that The Media Killed Gaming. Maybe it was the year you lost interest, or the year you got too busy for games. For me? 2014 was The Rebirth of Gaming. From the remains of what was once my love for the gaming arose a fiery, majestic creature, bursting from the ashes and burning bright for all to see. One year later, the Gamer was Reborn in me.