Top 5 Challenging Boss Battles in Dark Souls 2!

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Dark Souls is a series known for its robust level of challenge and punishing learning curves. Dark Souls 2 is no exception to this, and it contains several bosses that occasionally make you wonder why you are playing in the first place. Generally speaking, the bosses in DS2 are considerably easier than the original (or perhaps I am now just more skilled at the game). Indeed, some are almost laughably easy. Demon of Song and the Skeleton Lords spring to mind immediately, with an honourable mention to Nashandra and Aldia who were disappointingly easy as a final boss in comparison to Lord Gwyn.

That being said, some of the bosses were frustrating to say the least. Here are my own personal top five most difficult (or annoying) bosses in Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin.

  1. Sinh, Slumbering Dragon

The main game and the DLC material pit you against a number of Dragon bosses, but I would say that this is the most challenging of the lot. Primarily, this is due to the fact that it spams toxic at you as an after effect to its breath attacks. Bosses that like to inflict status effects on to the player are always frustrating, but in this case the combination of toxic, flying charges, fireballs and punishing melee attacks make this fight stand out.

  1. The Smelter Demon/Magical Smelter Demon

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I have included these two in the same spot as they are more or less identical in terms of appearance and move set (albeit slightly more power on the magical demon). Some players may have found this fight pretty easy but I found myself struggling. The Smelter Demons hit hard, move faster than you would expect for their size and also inflict fire and magic damage respectively. A few area spread attacks can catch you off guard, and midway through the fight the Demons will cause residual damage if you stand too close and enchant their weapons for further damage. This is challenging enough, but I think what caught me off guard the most was the fact that, well telegraphed as the attacks are, there is a slightly longer pause than you would expect between the beginning of the attack animation and the attack landing. Often you roll out of danger only to then take the attack full on in the face. Most people could probably adapt to this a bit quicker than I did but it still proves a challenge. A special nod has to be given to the magical Smelter Demon for having a very irritating run up to the boss, full of dangerous enemies and traps.

  1. Aava, the Kings Pet

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Hands up, who remembers Sif from Dark Souls 1? Anyone else feel slightly bad about killing him? I always did; he looks too cute, makes a heart-wrenching noise like a dog when hurt and just misses his dead buddy.

No such feelings accompany this fight. Aava is a bastard; a straight-up bastard. Beast boss fights are, in my experience, either quite easy or punishing in the extreme. Aava falls into the latter category. Unlike the Royal Rat Authority, whose attacks are pretty easy to suss out and avoid (roll forward), Aava’s move-set is more varied, do more damage, and he is much, much faster. All of your dodges need to be completely on-point or you are in for a mauling. There are many times where I felt that my dodge was perfectly timed only to die moments later. Additionally, Aava also has a few spells/area attacks to keep things interesting. I always plump for a melee build; I have no idea how spell-casters manage to get through this fight.

  1. Raime, the Fume Knight

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I probably died more times in this boss fight than in many of the others put together. He is another boss fight that comes in two halves; once his health is depleted by half he becomes a lot more dangerous. His initial attack pattern is quite varied but can be mastered with a few attempts. That being said, if he hits you, the damage can be quite severe as he racks up combo-hits and staggering attacks. It is easy enough to heal at this stage; sprinting across the room should give you enough time to chug that sweet, sweet Estus.

His second form is genuinely frightening. He adopts the move-set and flaming sword attacks of Lord Gwyn, the final boss in Dark Souls 1, only there is no favourable terrain to assist you in the fight. His attacks are lightning fast and it is nearly impossible to get enough breathing space to heal. I ended up two handing my Pursuer’s great sword as blocking any of his attacks was simply not an option. In order to win, your rolls and doges must be perfect every time. There is no margin for error. Additionally, he can follow up his quick combos with punishing area attacks, fireballs, and a laserbeam-like type attack. If you have depleted your stamina through dodging his combos they can be very hard to avoid.

However, the sense of triumph on winning this fight is pretty special, and has only really been matched the first time I defeated Ornstein and Smough in the first game.

  1. Burnt Ivory King

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I am going to preface this entry by saying that I did actually enjoy it quite a lot, despite the level of difficulty.

This boss is possibly unique in the Souls franchise (I haven’t played DS3 so can’t say for sure) in the sense that the boss fight includes a melee or sorts with multiple enemies and allies. The Burnt Ivory King opens portals into the fight arena and you have to defeat all of the Burnt Knights before facing off against the King himself. It’s actually quite fun, but the enemies are not as weak as you would like which means that the changes of actually getting to the King each time you try is about 50/50. Due to the fact that he is similar in fighting style to the challenging Fume Knight, this can be problematic. He moves with terrifying speed, hits hard and offers very few chances for healing. On his own, this fight is probably a bit easier than Raime, but when you add in the extra challenge of defeating his knights, it just pips it for me in terms of difficulty.

Do you agree with my list? If not I’d love to hear which bosses made you want to never play the series again!

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Drop the WiiU? Hahaha….. Oh you’re serious?

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This week, upon browsing video-game blogs, I began to notice that in comment sections relating to WiiU news, comments along the lines of ‘Nintendo should drop the WiiU and develop a competitor to the Xbox1 and PS4’ were surprisingly prevelant, given that this was a thought that had not once occured to me. Some of these comments were undoubtedly the work of the internet trolls (akin to the Christmas fairies but far more numerous and toxic), but some were not. Some even seemed to come from people claiming to be Nintendo fans. This is surprising, as it is hard to see how anyone can think this is a good idea. Indeed, its hard to find much of an upside at all.

I find it hard to believe that Nintendo will go down this route. There are just too many downsides to that course of action. Most obviously, this move would be a huge slap in the face to people who had already invested in a WiiU and were perfectly happy with their machine. How would you feel if you had just forked out for a new console only to find out that it was being dropped because the company wasn’t happy with it? Now, I’m not claiming that Nintendo are above slapping their customers in the face (they aren’t; who else got a 3DS on release onlyfor the XL to be released shortly after?) but the alienation of customers that this would create is not something that Nintendo can afford right now.
Financially, dropping the WiiU would make little sense. There are many big, first party titles which are already in the late development stage. To drop the WiiU would force them to either halt or delay these games and re-develop them for a new console, which is time consuming and costly, or release them anyway. But who would buy them after the console had been officially dropped? Why not just wait for their iterations on the new super console that people are apparently asking for?

On that note, its all very well saying that Nintendo should develop a more powerful console to take on the new Microsoft and Sony releases, but we all know that its not that simple. Developing a console to a good standard from concept to release takes a huge amount of time and money,and by the time this could be completed the Xbox1 and PS4 would be hugely entrenched, so sales of the new console would not be guaranteed to be good or anywhere near the volume of sales that the current gen consoles will rack-up. A powerful machine is also not really that useful for the kind of games that Nintendo want to make. ‘I really want to see every bead of sweat on Mario’s face when he kills another Goomba’ said no-one ever. The reason that Nintendo haven’t ever gone for the most powerful system capabilities is because they don’t really want to. It isn’t their style and they don’t need it. Graphical capabilities are not the reason that people want to buy Nintendo products. Not to mention the huge undercut of confidence in Nintendo as a company if they decide to drop their console after only just over a year.

These calls to drop the WiiU make no sense and seem to be coming from a tiny minority of people. So why write this blog entry? Well, mostly just because I’m astonished that this argument is ever put forward at all. Lets hope this sets things straight, eh?

 

Top Ten Video-Gaming Moments

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Several weeks have now passed since the chaotic releases of the now current-gen consoles, to rather mixed receptions, some glowing, others less so. The main gripe that people have had so far revolves around the lack of hard hitting exclusive games on each platform. This is not terribly surprising since launch titles are never usually the best a console will offer. As we head towards the New Year and a 2014 filled with brand new gaming experiences I’m sure that both platforms will step up with a whole host of games filled with exquisite gaming moments. In honour of the occasion I have compiled my top ten gaming moments, moments which remind you why you love gaming in the first place. This list is obviously only my opinion based on the games I have played but I would love to know which moments make your top ten.

10. First exploration of Peach’s Castle in Super Mario 64

This is one of the first games that I owned on the excellent N64 and remains a favourite to this day. The game is filled with many great moments but for me, the most stand-out moment is entering Peach’s Castle for the first time. This is one of the first games to use a 3D explorable hub as a means of moving from level to level and, I must say, did it beautifully. The sense of space and scale was incredible. Seemingly infinite rooms branching off in all directions, massive gardens (filled with Boos) and basements to work through, and huge Mario themed artworks festooning the walls, all enjoyed to the backdrop of a regal musical accompaniment. The levels themselves are perfectly designed, but the addition of the hub lends a wonderful cohesiveness to the game.

9. Arrival in Oblivion/Skyrim

I have put these two together because the positives that they have are identical. As you emerge from the sewers (damn sewers) or dragon ravaged towns to emerge on the main world map, the feeling of freedom within the game is brilliant. You are given vague directions towards a main goal but equally you are free to just wander off wherever you like. Not many games have done this as well as the Elder Scrolls games. In Oblivion you are faced with a vast beautiful expanse full of colour and burgeoning possibilities that just demand to be explored. It is the same for Skyrim although, of course, the world seems harsher and starker, but no less beautiful. Both games offer a huge and, at first, seemingly overwhelming amount of freedom and choice, and this is most apparent when you first venture out into the vast wilderness.

8. Finding the last mask in Majora’s Mask

This game was slated by many fans of the series for being too small as it only contains 4 traditional Zelda dungeons. However, this game was far from small. Every mask that you had to collect involved the telling of a mini story, which gave a real depth to the world of Termina and its inhabitants. They became real people with real problems and not just irrelevant NPCs to interact with. By the time that you have found the last mask out of 20, you have completed 20 mini side quests, helped dozens of people, performed a complex array of tasks, and travelled back and forwards in time more times that you could possible count. You have changed the world of Termina for the better. The attainment of the last mask is the end of a long and immersive journey, and never fails to feel well earned.

7. Defeating the Elite 4 and Lance the Dragon Master in Pokémon HeartGold

Defeating these opponents feels hugely satisfying. You started out with one weak level 5 starter Pokémon, but through innumerable battles and showdowns you have raised it and at least 5 other Pokémon from humble beginnings to fully evolved and strong Pokémon. As such you really care about the Pokemon under your command and the sense of achievement is strong as you face down and defeat the very toughest trainers that Johto and Kanto have to offer to take your place in the Hall of Fame.

6. Defeating the first boss in Dark Souls

This game is littered with amazing moments so picking just one is particularly hard. I initially thought that the showdown with Lord Gwyn at the end of the game, but after reflection settled on the killing of the first boss. At this point you are new to the game, still finding your feet, cutting down hollows and knights, but still dying a lot. At first the demon boss occupying the bridge seems to be an unbeatable foe, but after many attempts you learn the skills to take him down and kill him in a furious and hair-raising struggle that leaves you out of breath and exhausted but full of triumph. If you haven’t played this, go do so, you’ll see what I mean. The sense of victory against impossible odds is great.

5. Becoming adult Link in Ocarina of Time

After opening the Door of Time Link steps forward and grasps the Master Sword, and makes videogame history. The moment that Link awakens and realises his adult self is stunning as you transform from a child to the Hero of Time, Master Sword in hand, is one that I, and many others I’m sure, will never forget.

4. Defeating Bowser for the final time in Super Mario 64

After climbing the previously infinite stairway, the final confrontation with Bowser awaits. You have explored numerous worlds, collected 120 stars, and defeated countless numbers of Bowser’s minions. The moment when Bowser starts moving towards you to attack sent a thrill down my spine. You have chased him across worlds to this point, but you both know that there is no escape for either of you at this point, it’s the final confrontation. The feeling of elation when you throw Bowser into a bomb for the last time is huge; the last act in an amazing game against the most iconic villain in video-game history.

3. The village scene in Resident Evil 4

Like Dark Souls, this is a game which is crammed full of great moments, but for me the best moment has to be Leon’s first trip into the village. So far only a handful of Ganados at a time have been attacking you and you’re thinking, this OK, nothing I can’t handle. Then you go through the gate and suddenly a whole village is after you, your safe refuge being broken into by a huge maniac with a chainsaw and a bag over his head, intent on beheading you. This was shit scary the first time. It feels as if there is nowhere to hide from a whole village full of pitchfork wielding locals all trying their very best to kill you. This scene exemplifies the qualities that make this game great, it’s fast paced, action packed, scary, brutal, and makes you feel terribly alone against overwhelming odds. Surviving it makes you feel like a hero. Only 900 more Ganados to go, eh?

2. Killing Trevelyan in Goldeneye

This is the climax to one of the best games ever and really feels that way. You have finally cornered this shadow, this phantom that you have been pursuing for the whole game. The race through the cradle is brilliant, and, is actually still tricky on the higher difficulties. The enemies are numerous with powerful weapons, infinitely respawning. You have little ammo and limited health, and all the while you have to keep pace with the fleeing figure of Trevelyan, trying to damage him enough to make him take his final stand and trying to keep yourself alive. It’s not easy. Hence the elation when you finally blast him off the satellite. How many times did you die before figuring out not to use the ladder?

1. Ganon Attacks! (Ocarina of Time)

So, you have freed all the sages, cleared all the temples, stormed Ganondorf’s castle and tower and defeated the man himself. So its over now, yes? No. Just as you go to make your escape the figure of Ganondorf emerges from the ruins of his castle and uses the power of the Triforce to transform into the monstrous Ganon, revealing the actual final showdown of the game. It’s a huge moment in video-gaming and was actually surprising the first time through, his appearance enough to quash the triumph that you were feeling at defeating Ganondorf. The Master Sword is knocked out of Link’s hand making you feel utterly defenceless against this huge monster. Perfect.

Have next-gen sales spelt doom for Nintendo?

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As the sales figures for the PS4 and Xbox One have become apparent, with both selling above 1 million units on their first release days, there have been the inevitable cries from all corners of the internet proclaiming Nintendo to be doomed and facing ruination. I hope this is not the case, and there are several reasons why I don’t think that it will be. Yes the initial sales projections for the WiiU are disappointingly low, but the total projected sales is still higher than those accumulated by the GameCube. Now this console was also seen to be a failure, a flop, but the roster of games that it had was excellent and offered some quality gaming. The N64 before it too was outsold by the Playstation and was considered to be a bit of a commercial failure. People bemoaned the Wii before its release, claiming limited commercial viability, and yet to this day it has sold over 100 million units. Now, it looks unlikely that the WiiU will reach anywhere near these heights, but the overall point is that despite industry perceptions and predictions, Nintendo have always managed to keep a hand in the game.

 

Not too long ago people were writing Nintendo off because it came to light that they were making a loss on each WiiU sold. Now it has come to light that the XboxOne is also sold at a loss and that the financial aspect to Microsoft’s gaming side of the company is not as rosy as everyone expected. Lucky for them they have such a strong income from Android technology to shore them up. Selling hardware at a loss is a tactic that has long been used in the console industry, relying on software sales etc so make money back. Fortunately, Nintendo are no slouches in the software department.

 

The next gen sales figures will not worry Nintendo overly much (in public at least anyway) as they claim not to be in competition with their counterparts as they offer a different and complimentary gaming experience. Happily Nintendo also has revenue coming in from other avenues. The 3DS, after a slow start, has been selling consistently well, and will continue to do so on the run-up to christmas. Several big name game releases, such as Pokemon X and Y and Zelda: A Link Between Worlds have increasingly helped to generate interest in the hand-held console, adding even more weight to an already impressive games line-up, with more big name titles on the way. Nintendo are not a spent force yet in creative terms and hopefully the 3DS’s success will help to mitigate any losses incurred by the WiiU. In addition to this, there are signs that Nintendo are starting to think about moving into the phone and tablet gaming industry, allowing some of their titles to appear on these formats. Given the potential number of customers that can be reached in this way this will hopefully help to improve their profit turnovers.

 

Of course, I could be wrong. My knowledge of the business world is pretty shaky at best. I am however, familiar with Nintendo’s games and its fans, and I have faith in both. Let me know what you think!

The Evil Within: The New Resident Evil?

ImageContinuing on from my last halloween inspired horror-related post I will now move from past horror to future horror in the form of a game due to be released in 2014 but which, frankly, can’t come soon enough. For those, like me, who have been desperate for the Resident Evil franchise to return to its zombie infested survival horror roots then our prayers may have been answered in the form of The Evil Within. Obviously, this is not a Resident Evil game. It is however, shaping up to be a great looking survival horror game. Trailers and game-play videos seem to suggest that this game possesses all the necessary attributes to make us fall in love with the survival horror genre all over again. It seems to combine many qualities from Resident Evil 1 and 4: including over the shoulder action viewpoint, various quick time event actions, limited weapons and ammo and that overwhelming feeling that it is just you, alone, against a terrible and nameless enemy. Comparisons to Resident Evil 4 does no disservice to the game, after all it is one of the best video games of the last 10 years. The game opens with the wounded protagonist trying to escape from a grisly and macabre looking asylum or hospital chased by an enormous figure wielding a chainsaw. The tense run through the level, being chased by a seemingly unbeatable foe, immediately put me in mind of the tense moments of trying to escape Salazar’s right hand or the Nemesis through the chaos of Raccoon City. So far so good. The character design in the game looks stunning, particularly the various bosses which have been revealed so far. The game apparently draws from many horror tropes found in other horror games and films so horror fans should find plenty of things to enjoy in the game. The audio effects and music of the game seem to be first rate and fully capable of creating an atmosphere of crippling fear within moments of the opening sequence. Unfortunately the videos released so far predominantly feature FMV sequences so it is unclear to see how smooth the game-play will be with any degree of certainty. However, survival horror fans should be hopeful that another first class title may be being released in the not so distant future. The Evil Within definitely seems to have promise, particularly seeing as though Shinji Mikami, the driving force behind Resident Evil 1 and 2 is at the helm.

Check out the video below to get an idea of the game-play and visuals!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1POefYUgkw

 

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Wii Need U!

It is probably fair to say that the achievements of the Wii U so far have been dismal. This may or may not be down to the name (naming a console with a word which relates to a bodily function was always going to be risqué.) Irrespectively, the impact of the console has been less than Nintendo’s most pessimistic expectations and has sold slowly across all regions. On the customer end of things, the WiiU concept has left man gamers confused, with many still thinking that the WiiU is merely an add-on to the older Wii. This is yet another spectacular fumble from the brains behind Nintendo’s marketing strategies. Despite this, there has never been a better time to invest in this console. Nintendo have stated that from September 20th there will be a $50 price cut for the deluxe version of the console bringing the price down to $299. This brings the price down to a very reasonable level. The WiiU also has several advantages over the other next gen consoles. The quality of the Nintendo franchises and the new and future game releases remain a huge plus point in the WiiU’s favour. Titles such as Pikmin 3, Super Mario 3D world, Mario Kart 8, Bayonetta 2 and Super Smash Brothers are all reasons to buy this console in and of themselves. The imminent release of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD will also allow those who missed the game first time around to have the opportunity to play this astounding title. The game line-up for this console is really starting to pick up now after a poor start. For once, however, it will not only be first party titles which will be the consoles must have games. Third party and Indie titles are another draw to this system. Nintendo have taken steps to ensure that it is easier than ever to develop indie titles for the system by making their hardware simple for developers to work with. They have also made sure that small developers have equal space and visibility on Nintendo’s eShop, making developing games for this system a lot more lucrative which will all contribute to ever more numerous high quality titles being released for the system. In addition to new games, old games are another reason to invest in a WiiU. The Virtual Console on the WiiU contains a large number of retro games to be purchased and downloaded directly to the WiiU home page, allowing gamers easy access to retro gaming experiences without having to have multiple consoles. Nintendo’s inclusion of backwards compatibility is as welcome as ever. The Miiverse feature on the WiiU is now being expanded to the 3DS and mobile devices allowing for greater connectivity with more and more gamers and the possibility for using the system link to unlock more features in titles which appear on both systems. Of course, if you want a console that is also a media centre featuring TV capabilities and Netflix then the WiiU is not going to be the choice for you. The Xbox1 or the PS4 will be better suited to your needs. This will also be the case if you want hyper-realism in your video games. However, these additions come at a price, almost $500 if current release prices stay as they are. There is something to be said for a console that was designed purely to play games on, and the WiiU offers exactly that.Image