Month: February 2015

Abnormal Mapping 24: This is Our Tree, We Know this Tree

yakuza 3 image

     Rikiya surveyed the wreckage of the bridal suite in the love hotel. Crushed statuary and shattered glass spread across the plush carpet in splashes of industrail confetti. The hot tub swirled with a crimson froth of spilled blood. The room smelled of the wrong kind of sweat for a room like this, fearful and acrid.
     “Boss,” Rikiya said. “Good job with Kanda.”
     Kazuma was standing above his fallen foe, wiping clean his crimson fists with the dishtowel from the minibar. He looked as tired as Rikiya had ever seen him, this mythic figure brought down to a mortal space. But his suit bore no markings from his fight, and minus a split lip and the bruising that was sure to spread out across his hands, he looked none the worse for wear. To Rikiya, even in this vulnerable state, he looked invincible.
     “There’s nothing to congratulate,” Kazuma said, turning to glare at Rikiya over his shoulder. “You don’t celebrate swatting a mosquito, and I won’t celebrate this similarly. Let’s get out of here.”
Kazuma turned and began walking out of the room, Rikiya hesitating as he looked down at the broken form of the unconscious Yakuza lieutenant. He was much the worse for wear, covered in scrapes, but he looked like he would survive. Rikiya turned and chased after Kazuma.
     “Boss, wait!”
     Kazuma stopped and turned around to look at Rikiya. “What?”
     Rikiya hesitated standing before him, feeling like a foolish boy before this icon of power and responsibility. “We have … our room?”
     “Our room?” Kazuma arched one severe brow.
     “We paid for the room. You’re tired. I’m tired. We could make use of the bed and the bathroom to get cleaned up before we head out onto the street. We don’t want to attract unwanted attention.”
     Kazuma paused. “You’re right.” Without hesitation, he fished the key out of his jacket pocket and strode down the hall to the small room they’d been assigned. It was dark and cool and made Rikiya think of the seaside coves back home in Okinawa. He never felt so far away from his home.
     Kazuma took off his jacket, as Rikiya rushed to fill the ice bucket with ice and water. Kazuma was inspecting his lip when Rikiya returned, brow furrowed.
     “I’ve been through worse,” Kazuma said.
     “I know, boss, but that doesn’t mean we can get lazy about taking care of ourselves, does it?”
     “I suppose you’re right.” Rikiya handed the bucket to Kazuma, who set it in his lap and then plunged both hands into the ice water. He let out a long sigh, the facade breaking, as his shoulders sagged in relief.
     “See? There you go. I know we need to be tough, but you’re a blood-brother to the Ryudo family now, so you don’t have to worry about me. We can be honest with each other.” Rikiya sat down on the bed beside Kazuma, looking sheepish beside him, as Kazuma even in repose towered above him.
     “What about you?” Kazuma asked.
     Rikiya rubbed the back of his head, laughing. “Well, honestly, boss, you kind of took care of most of them before I could do much. You’re the easiest boss I’ve ever had, you do all the work for me!”
     Kazuma smiled, and nodded. “I was … never good at giving orders. I just go ahead on my own, people have always gotten hurt around me.”
     “You should let people in,” Rikiya said. “Look at your kids. They love you. They’re better because of you, and you have to admit that you’re better because of them.”
     Kazuma paused. “I suppose that’s true. I’ve caused so much pain, though, I don’t want to do it anymore.”
     “You can’t protect everyone, no matter how much you try,” Rikiya said. “People can make their own choices and make their own risks. Even the Fourth Chairman can’t be the boss of the entire world.”
     There was a long pause, Rikiya turning to look at Kazuma. “Besides, you never know where life might take you so long as you remain open to possibilities. I mean, look at us. We went from fighting for our lives against each other out on the street to sitting here together in this bed. Who can even begin to guess what’s next?”
     Kazuma turned to look at his charge, the young man earnest as he stared up at Kazuma. The instinct was to close up and be the boss, but Rikiya was right. Hadn’t he spent the past years trying to run away from a life where he had to be the Dragon of Dojima? He just wanted to be Uncle Kaz, whether that meant doing homework or cooking fish or … or exploring the possibility of a life that was entirely his own.
     Their eyes met, recognition of the same soul within each of them passed wordlessly between them. Kazuma set the bucket down, lest it be knocked over and stain the carpet. Rikiya laughed at the consideration thoughtlessly performed by this, the greatest man he had ever known.

You can get our podcast on iTunes, on Stitcher, or you can download it directly by clicking here.

Reading List Additions: History Respawned and Top Score

Games Discussed: P.T., Paris HallwaySci Fi Corridor Maze Walkthrough, Gone Home, GTA 4, Burnout Paradise, Sleeping Dogs, Final Fantasy VII, Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, Skyrim, Minecraft, Interactive Fiction, Your Actions Do Not Effect The Ending, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy, Dream.Sim, Mirror’s Edge, Tony Hawk, Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time, Attack of The Friday Monsters, Persona 3/4, Resident Evil

This Month’s Game Club: Yakuza 3

Next Month’s Game Club: Grim Fandango with special guest Heather Alexandra

Music This Episode

Blown Away by Kevin McLeod
Dead Run by Hidenori Shoji
D 2 A by Hidenori Shoji
Bray of the Dragon King by Hidenori Shoji
Kamurocho Lullaby by Hideki Sakamoto

Abnormal Mapping 23: Clay Davis’ Big Monster Hunter

RPG Explorers Club Final 1500

Today we bring you our most sleepy episode yet with our celebration of all things Valentine’s Day by talking about anime girls hitting on each other, as the RPG Explorer’s Club returns to talk about Atelier Rorona Plus! We’re joined with fellow role playing spelunker Destiny Sturdivant for a journey into the dark heart of time limits and item creation as we run afoul of all the problems with trying to play RPGs on a timetable. The only solution? More RPGs! Please enjoy this short episode on this short month, when all seems nearly lost because winter refuses to give up its grip on our hearts.

You can get our podcast on iTunes, on Stitcher, or you can download it directly by clicking here.

Games Discussed: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, Kindle, DS9 Books, Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes, Atelier Rorona Plus: Alchemist of Arland

The Next RPG Explorer’s Club Game: Final Fantasy VIII

Music This Episode

Blown Away by Kevin McLeod
Eyes of the Dragon by Ken Nakagawa
Falling, The Star Light by Yamamoto Mineko

Let’s Play: Alan Wake’s American Nightmare

Trapped in the Dark Place, Alan Wake must relive the same day over and over until he can face his evil alter ego Mr. Scratch, and Jackson shall be taking the journey through time with him. Featuring all the nonsense of Alan Wake, except with 100% more FMV, this LP of Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is a gloriously stupid time.

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is developed by Remedy and published by Microsoft.

The video art was put together by Matt!

Jackson’s work on Abnormal Mapping is funded by Patreon. If you enjoy it, and want to see it continue, then click here to help fund him!

On Being

Content Warning: This piece contains fully sexually explicit discussion, and talk about dysphoria and suicidal thoughts.

It is Not Safe For Work.

Beyond Two Souls

When rain mixes with cotton, it sticks gently to my skin. Layers of clothing blend together in the wet, rough plaid over-shirt and soft black t-shirt forming an armour that encases my torso. The rain spills down upon my exposed skin, cooling my burning head. Keeping me alert. Keeping me alive. Technically, I’m a wanted fugitive hiding out from the CIA, but in all honesty, I can’t remember where I was going. I don’t care who happens to be chasing me, and I don’t care whether I get away. I just want to stand here for a while longer, shirt clinging to the curve of my hips, hair cropped yet shaggy, blowing over my face in the wind.

I don’t want to do anything. I just want to be.

Before I played Beyond: Two Souls, I’d never felt this so strongly. We played that game eight months ago, and in the time since I haven’t once tried to write down this reaction, to codify and analyse it, or even take the time to understand it for myself. The game had tapped into an unease within me, and for the first time I consciously acknowledged the dull pain I feel every day. The pain I feel when I catch a glimpse of my face in a mirror, when I get undressed to shower, when the man at the restaurant firmly shakes my hand. Playing this, I Iet myself, for just a moment, to imagine what it would be like to be free of that pain. The sensation I felt being Jodie Holmes, simply felt more correct than I how I felt trapped inside my own skin. (more…)

Let’s Play: Unrest

In Ancient India, a city’s turmoil reaches boiling point, and things go from bad to worse. Join Jackson has he plays from the perspective of five different characters, rich and poor, young and old, trying to bring peace to the region, or simply live their day to day.

Unrest is developed by Pyrodactyl Games and published by KISS Ltd.

The video art was put together by Matt!

Jackson’s work on Abnormal Mapping is funded by Patreon. If you enjoy it, and want to see it continue, then click here to help fund him!

Who Am I Rooting For Again? – Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and the Problem with Link

Ocarina of Time Saria LinkHey everyone, I’ve been really quiet on the blog on the writing front for a few months, mostly because I honestly haven’t been playing that many games outside of the podcasts or the youtube channel, and certainly not spending the energy to think hard enough about them to write about them at any length. I have a half-finished Game of the Year 2014 article that’ll probably never see the light of day (spoiler: 80 Days and Donkey Kong and Jazzpunk are the best games) but otherwise? I honestly have been enjoying doing anything but pouring time into games for a while. That said, with 2015 now upon us and new games soon to be out, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Nintendo 64’s pair of Zelda titles.

It’s easy to pooh-pooh Ocarina of Time now, because its ideas have been so often stolen from that it doesn’t even feel like the novelty a 3D Zelda would be on paper, but at the time it was as much a vision of cinematic storytelling and broad expanses brought to you through muddy polygons as that other 1998 classic, Metal Gear Solid. While Snake’s adventures were wordy, technical, and full of high pastiche, Zelda focused on something much more emotional and low-key (as low key as time travel and saving the world can be, I guess), with a young boy/man and his adventures through the usual storybook land of Hyrule. It’s a game that’s been written about to death, but upon revisiting Ocarina to prep for the re-release of Majora’s Mask on the 3DS, I wanted to talk specifically about my favorite moment in Ocarina of Time, and what it represents about the Zelda franchise as a whole. (more…)

What’s Done Is Done

This piece contains spoilers for Gravity Ghost.

Gravity Ghost

I’ve only ever hit someone once in my life.

When I was eleven, I spent a summer hanging out with a group of my sister’s friends. I’d wake up most days and wait for her to get a phone call, then tag along to the town centre, where we’d mooch from shop to shop and look longingly at all the cool shit we weren’t old enough to buy. After a few weeks, I begun to spend some time alone with one of them, who wasn’t, but may as well have been called Andy. Andy was a little older than the rest of us, a little colder, but we gravitated to each other due to our equal status as intruders. I was someone’s brother, and he was someone’s boyfriend, in the way you can only be when you’re eleven and twelve.

One day Andy and I went on a trip to London. Andy’s dad was rich, so he took us both up to the Science Museum as a treat. I had a great time, but as the day went on, Andy slipped into his habit of pushing people’s buttons for a quick laugh. Andy was the same as all the people who’d bullied me out of my first school, except he did it from the position of a friend. Started elbowing me just a little too hard, talking about what a loner I was, how I didn’t have any friends and never would, but hell, he still liked me!

I can’t remember what he said that took it too far. I’ve never forgotten the silence on the ride home. (more…)