In a bout of good fortune, I managed to have some free time during the Nioh: Last Chance timed demo. I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed playing through Nioh. My circle of friends enjoy playing  the Demon/Dark Souls + Bloodborne line of games and I would enjoy watching them play. Of course, seeing my friends play would motivate me to try to pick up that game. Unfortunately, I would not enjoy it on my own as much as they did. That is, until I gave the Nioh demo a shot. I enjoy everything the Souls games are about, as action-adventure games are my jam, but having the desire to play them is a different matter. Assuming nothing else changes from this "final demo" and the release of the game, I found three things that made me interested in playing Nioh: Environment, Combat and Progression. As a warning, my only contact with the Souls series is Dark Souls 1. I'll stay away from making comparisons of Nioh and DS1 because three additional games of that series have been made since I've last played. My gripes with DS1 could have been fixed in Dark Souls 2/3 or Bloodborne.


Environment


I heavily enjoyed the Japanese setting of Nioh. There's something lingering from my boyhood on how cool it is to play as a samurai or ninja fighting Japanese monsters. I've grown up with watching movies and shows about all of this, so it's always exciting to play it out. Gameplay wise, I like how you have stages to play through instead of an large, interconnecting world. I might be thinking long term but it would be nice coming back to the game after taking a break and not have to worry about how you're going to get to this area and such. You can simply choose on your map the area you want to start from and being your journey into the game. In fairness, this is partly because I have a bad habit of getting lost, especially when playing Metroidvanias. Makes life easier on me when I want to take an extended break from a game. The downside is, I noticed when I played a stage I had already cleared, my shortcuts were reset. Which seems fair, I know I would try to abuse this by rushing to the boss and defeating them as quickly as I can for mission clear rewards.


Combat



Nioh's combat has a certain flow to it to me. What I feel makes it unique is both the stance system and your management of ki, this game's stamina bar.  Counting your sheathing "stance, there four difference stances you can take with a weapon: "High","Mid" and "Low" stance. Each stance as its pros and cons. High Stance deals slow, but powerful blows that can easily be interrupted. You acquire a high damage output in exchange for poor defensive abilities (dodging and blocking) and heavy stamina/ki consumption. In contrast, Low Stance is very defensive, you dodge quickly and your blows are quick with a small ki consumption. In exchange, your blows do not have as much power to them. This stance is good for focusing on evading enemies and interrupting their attacks. Mid Stance is a balance of offense and defense. Unless I am mistaken, there was an emphasis on blocking skills that could only be used while in Mid Stance.

Nioh's "stamina" mechanic is quite interesting. After an attack, you can perform what is called a "ki pulse" to instantly regain your stamina/ki meter. The amount of ki you recover depends on how well you time your ki pulse. In a way, it is similar to the Gears of War series' active reload with the exception is you were not penalized for mistiming a ki pulse. It should me mentioned that monsters, even bosses(The Ogress and Muneshige Tachibana) had their own ki meter. Monsters/enemies consume ki when they attack and like the player, will be stunned for a brief moment if they run out of ki while attacked.  Combined with certain skills, you can switch between stances and perform a ki pulse, opening up the possibility to combo enemies to death after draining their ki. I feel this has the potential to make combat quite interesting to watch as the individual dances between the stances to inflict as much damage as they can to their opponent.

I should mention there also is a "super mode" your character can enter called "Living Weapon". I don't quite understand how it works but I believe you fill up the gauge (next to your health and ki bar, looks like a medallion) when you collect amrita/souls. Should you die, the guardian spirit will be in that spot waiting to be reclaimed, similar to bloodstains. You can also recall your guardian spirit at a shrine at the cost of abandoning your lost amrita. When you activate your "Living Weapon" your spirit becomes one with your weapon and you enter a state of invulnerability. You can unleash a series of elementally charged attacks in this mode, based of your spirit and any damage you take will decrease the amount of time you can spend in Living Weapon mode. I did not take advantage of this until the later half of my playthrough but it helped push past a stubborn monster and helped secure the killing blow on the boss.

Progression



Man,this screenshot still pains me. I really needed better pants than what I currently had equipped. Perfect for the final aspect I'm touching on: Progression! I loved how Nioh handled finding equipment, as I am a huge fan of the Diablo series. Equipment randomly drops from enemies and chest. It should be noted you can fight AI controlled human enemies called Revenants and they have a chance of dropping their gear. Revenants can be summoned from a "bloody grave" and are fallen players or pre-determined geared characters. Gear is assigned rarity and from lowest to highest rarity it goes yellow to blue to purple gear. The higher the rarity, the better the quality of item/number of stats on the item. Much like the Diablo series, equipment can roll with different stats. This is in contrast from Dark Souls 1, where you can find weapons from chest or dropped from enemies and their values will be static. To be fair, I think I enjoy this system so much in Nioh is because there were no stat requirements on the weapons during the demo. As for armor, if you did not have the proper stats to equip the armor you were wearing, you would not receive the passive benefits from the armor.

I don't typically play the genre but the Nioh demo has me really excited to dive back in. Some of what I liked may have been because it is the demo build of the game but it has be curious enough to try the full game. Aside from being excited about the setting in Feudal Japan, the combat looks promising with how fast it flows and the management of ki. Paired with the loot grind style of acquiring gear, I see this game has the potential of stealing all of my free time.
As I said in my previous soundtrack blog, music can really make a game have more impact. I listen to all different kinds of music, but I always find myself listening to OSTs more so than other genres. I'm going to try my best to not load this list with Final Fantasy so bear with me.




Toejam & Earl
I do like myself some funk; and this game brings it. A very unique title that was released for the Sega Genesis that I personally played a ton of. While it only has a few songs compared to the rest of the list I still really enjoy listening to it.




Super Mario Sunshine
While Super Mario 64 has some of my favorite Mario tracks like "Dire, Dire, Docks" and "Staff Roll", Super Mario Sunshine has a better full length soundtrack in my opinion. I love the island/laid back feel of most of the tracks. It makes you feel relaxed.



Brutal Legend
For a game based on the world of heavy metal Double Fine created a phenomenal soundtrack. Both the original music and the 107 heavy metal tracks are just fantastic. From all different bands such as Judas Priest, Mastodon, Testament, Ministry, Kiss, and tons more you're bound to find something that you're going to love!



Xenoblade Chronicles
It's quite a long soundtrack but it's 100% worth the listen. In my opinion it's a masterpiece.




Diablo II
Atmospheric, tense, creepy, synonyms. Blizzard games got an enormous amount of play out of me as a young one. The music made the games intensity increase ten fold. If you don't think the theme for Tristram is amazing I don't know if I can socialize with you. On a serious note though the soundtrack is perfect for the type of game Diablo II is. So stay awhile and listen to this incredible soundtrack!



Diddy Kong Racing
Whoa. That's all. Also, better than Mario Kart.


Parasite Eve
This was Squaresoft's answer to the survival horror genre. The soundtrack is everywhere though. From a loungy sound one track to opera the next. Maybe after that some upbeat music as well. It meshes quite well though.



Brave Fencer Musashi
This game in general I feel more people should know about. Brave Fencer Musashi is an incredible game with a great soundtrack. If you take the time to listen, I think you'll really enjoy it.


Chrono Cross
To me, not only is this one of the best composed soundtracks its also the best sounding. Nothing sounds dated. While playing through this game I would just set the controller down and let the music play on a loop until I decided to continue with the story....which took awhile. Though Chrono Trigger's soundtrack is fantastic, I hold Chrono Cross quite a bit higher up.



Final Fantasy VII
See! I didn't flood this list with Final Fantasy! I only flooded it with Square games. Anyway, Final Fantasy VII is a game that I hold very close to my heart. It's hard to choose which tracks are my favorite because I honestly love all of them. Though it may sound dated but it doesn't bother me at all. It's hard to choose my favorite song. It will bring you through a flurry of emotion from sorrow to joy and back again. Nobuo Uematsu is one of my favorite composers and I'm thankful he created this masterpiece.


Honroable Mentions: Legend of Dragoon, Tales of Destiny, Secret of Mana Quake, Spyro The Dragon, Crash Bandicoot, Donkey Kong Country, Conker's Bad Fur Day.

Rob recently wrote about his most anticipated games of 2017, highlighting a plethora of releases that are making this year look really solid. Rob's list was really thorough and touched on a bunch of games that I'm also really excited about and ultimately inspired me to do a list of my own! I decided I'd make a list of confirmed releases I'm most excited for Q1 of 2017, even games that came out a bit before writing this. It hurts me right in the wallet to put them all in one place, but hey, money is for spending right?...



Pit People
PC, Xbox One
Release Date: January 13th (early access)



Pit People is the latest title from the team at "The Behemoth", the indie game development studio behind games like Castle Crashers and Alien Hominid. The Behemoth is really well known for their unique brand of humor and art style in all their titles, and Pit People definitely delivers on those fronts. Pit People is described as a "fast paced, turn based, co-op adventure with management and role play elements"...they could've described it as a monkey poop flinging simulator and I'd probably still be down with it.




Resident Evil 7
PC, PS4, PSVR, Xbox One
Release Date: January 24th


Resident Evil 7 will be the only game on this list that I distinctly might not be playing. I love Resident Evil as a franchise, but ironically enough I'm a giant baby man, and Capcom's decision to make the newest entry in the franchise absolutely terrifying is respectable but I can't do it. I'll watch Rob and anyone else play through the game here at LAN Mob. Maybe if I can get a group of friends together we can play through it, but there's no way I can stomach it alone at my house. *gulp* 



Yakuza 0

PS4
Release Date: January 24th


Believe it or not, Yakuza 0 is the SIXTH installment in the franchise. Never played a Yakuza game? It's okay, not many people have. Even though this is the sixth game in Sega's crime-drama series, now is the time to jump in! Yakuza 0 is a prequel and takes place before the events of the first game, following Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima in 1988 Japan's Yakuza underworld. Oh and there is plenty of passionate drunken karaoke.




Tales of Berseria

PC, PS4
Release Date: January 24th


The "Tales of" series is generally hit or miss for me. Outside of Tales of Xillia and Vesperia I haven't deeply loved a Tales game in over a decade. That being said, when Bandai Namco dropped a demo for their latest entry I was incredibly happy to try out the JRPG before picking it up. I'm happy to say the demo was pretty enjoyable and sold me on giving Berseria a shot.



Digimon World: Next Order
PS4
Release Date: January 31st


I've bought every single Digimon game to have ever come out in the west and I'll probably continue to do so until I die. Digimon World 1 was one of the first RPG games I was completely infatuated with and I loved almost every game in the series thereafter (we don't talk about DW4). To be honest, I could care less about the anime/manga or whatever, but these games are a blast for me, and Next Order looks like an excellent addition.



Nioh

PS4
Release Date: February 7th


Enrique is currently working on a separate blog post relating to Nioh so look out for that in the near future. Nioh is an obvious insta-buy for me for so many reasons. Team Ninja provided players with multiple demos showcasing the Japanese samurai era "soulslike", and the combat and theme feel like exactly what I need in my life. The 7th can't come fast enough.  




Sniper Elite 4
PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: February 14th


"Shooters" are probably my least played genre, but when I find one I enjoy I play it A LOT. Once upon a time I rented Sniper Elite 2 and I was really engrossed in the unique third person shooter and went on to play the living crap out of Sniper Elite 3. The 4th entry is looking just as promising and prettier (and gorier) then ever. 




For Honor
PC, Xbox One, PS4
Release Date: February 14th


There was a point in my life where I would bring a Bushido Blade setup everywhere and force people to play with me. Swordfighting (or axes/hammers/spears/flails...) games with deep combat are certainly not a common genre of games but Ubisoft is going to be scratching that itch with For Honor. It also has online squad based multiplayer. We'll definitely be picking this one up for the shop, so stop by February 14th to check it out!





Night in the Woods
PC, PS4

Release Date: February 21st


Night in the Woods is a very bizarre game about an angsty college dropout cat. I backed this game on Kickstarter a few years ago, as many other people did too. (they reached 500% funding in 20 days!), and I'm ecstatic it's finally coming out! NITW is an adventure game focused on exploration and character building (you get to hang out with other angsty animals!). It's definitely odd but it looks awesome.




Horizon Zero Dawn
PS4
Release Date: February 28th


Wooo boy an IP! Simply put, Horizon Zero Dawn looks absurdly good. E3 showed us a lot of what we can look forward to from Guerilla Games' ARPG, and that was such a small piece of the pie. HZD has players controlling a woman named "Aloy" in a post apocalyptic world inhabited by "machines". I would be lying if I said HZD doesn't have a atmosphere similar to Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (one of my favorite games of all time), but either way this is a PS4 exclusive that may define the generation. We will have to wait (thankfully not much longer!) and see. 




Nier Automata
PC, PS4
Release Date: March 7th



I recently wrote about my impressions of the Nier Automata demo, so check that out if you're interested! Automata shot itself way up my gaming priorities after giving the demo a shot. The atmosphere is incredible, combat is tight and clean and with Platinum Games in the driver's seat, I expect the full title to be filled to the brim with quality content.   





Styx: Shards of Darkness
PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: March ??


Maybe one of the least known games on this list, Styx: Shards of Darkness is honestly a game I didn't expect to ever see. Shards of Darkness is a direct sequel to 2014's "Styx: Master of Shadows", which was a bit of an unknown game that takes place in the world of 2012's "Of Orcs and Men". Players control Styx in a third person stealth adventure, utilizing arcane abilities and shadows themselves to progress through a surprisingly interesting plot. Shards of Darkness will continue the story of Master of Shadows, introduce new abilities and hopefully fix some of the small gameplay issues of the original game. I can't wait for Styx's one liners and genuinely foul demeanor.   




Akiba's Beat
PS4, PS Vita
Release Date: March 14th

Akiba's Strip was one of the weirdest games I've ever had the pleasure of playing, and I'm glad to see the sequel make it's way to the west. Akiba's Beat takes place in Akihabara, a large shopping district in Tokyo. Unlike its predecessors, Akiba's Beat will control like a typical turn based JRPG as opposed to a beat em up. While the gameplay looks decent, the draw of these games is the hilarious examination (and exaggeration) of modern Japanese subculture and lifestyles; even at its goofiest and most outrageous.

Dark Souls: The Ringed City
DLC
Release Date: March 28th


Despite not being a separate title, The Ringed City will be a must play for me. I've gushed over Dark Souls in every way imaginable in multiple places on this blog, but The Ringed City is a double edged sword. The second expansion for Dark Souls 3 may very well be the last bit of Souls content players will get for a long time. Hidetaka Miyazaki is apparently moving on from Dark Souls, and while that saddens me so, I hope to see him go out with a bang. "The Ringed City itself is at the edge of the world, as far as one can go".  

Now that I put all of these down in one place, I'm pretty sure I didn't forget any! However, I need to go aggressively develop a budget. If I cut out eating and sleeping I should have enough time and money for all of these, right?!

What games are you most excited for Q1? Let us know in the comments! 

Mallow has such a way with words, doesn't she? She is correct! I underestimated the trial and was handed a loss for my troubles. I spent about two days playing on and off training new Pokemon to conquer this trial, although I only was able to use 3 people after it was all said and done. I stuck with Magby, Salandit and Oricorio.

What I believed doomed my last run was I used the Pink Nectar on my Oricorio. There was NPC chatter on how different colored nectars affected Oricorio. I remember back on Melemele Island I found Yellow Nectar, in that same area I caught my Oricorio. On Akala Island, I found Pink Nectar in the garden in Royale Avenue. I used the Pink Nectar on my Oricorio and it changed forms! I would up with a pink, hula dancing Oricorio. Not only did it's appearance change but also its type. It remained a Flying-Type but became Psychic/Flying instead of Electric/Flying. This explains why I wasn't learning any Electric-Type moves...
Back on the topic at hand, Lurantis knew Bug-type moves, which makes sense seeing how it looked like a giant  pink mantis. If you recall type charts, Bug-type moves are super effective(2x) against Psychic Pokemon and not effective(0.5x) against Flying Pokemon. I keep making the mental mistake of believing Grass is super effective against Electric Pokemon when actually Electric-type moves are not effective against Grass Pokemon. So by using the Pink Nectar on my Oricorio, its new form lost it's natural defense against Bug-type moves which did not help my battle against the Totem Pokemon.



I found that line peculiar. Lurantis knew Synthesis, a grass moves that heals the user(A taboo for bosses! Arg!!) . I knew it's effect grows stronger when the weather is sunny and that certain moves like Solar Beam can skip their charge phase and be immediately used but couldn't figure out where this came into play. Until I fought it again and it called in Castform as it's helper Pokemon. Castform's from Gen 3 and both the Pokemon and that Generation's gimmick was the introduction of weather. Castform changes form and type depending on the weather. Fire on sunny days. Ice during hailstorms and Water during rainy days. Naturally, it knew Sunny Day, which caused the above mentioned effects as well as powered up Fire-type moves. Thanks to Castform, this Totem fight became more difficult than I would have imagined. I'm almost happy it never dropped to low enough health to summon allies in our first encounter.

Boy, despite Sunny Day working in both our favors I still had a hard time clearing this trial. I changed Oricorio's form back to the yellow Electric/Flying form. I had it first in my party because it was more of a glass cannon. I spammed Flying moves and occasionally used my buff/debuff skills to lessen the damage the totem Pokemon could crank out. It ended up being a brawl because every turn I would try to do more damage than what it could heal. I secretly wished I could have one shot the Totem Pokemon like in the previous trial but that would not have been as interesting. The real trouble I had was fighting the Castform powered up from the sunny weather. Magby and Salandit were the only ones who could fight the Castform and not receive extra damage. I made the mistake of making the rest of my party some type of Bug-Type hybrid.



We made it! Time to take on Akala Island's Kahuna! I'm very excited to take her on. Partly because I won't have to go out of the way to train new Pokemon to fight her. I can finally break out my Starter Pokemon, Bounsweet and Alola Diglett!! But first, I was instructed to visit a Lab outside Route 6. Instead of flying to Heahea City and walking there, I decided to take the scenic route and run straight through Routes 5 & 6 to the waypoint. Partly through Route 6 I ran into Hau just as he finished Mallow's Trial. I was worried he was going to challenge me to a battle because I never switched out my party after the trial. Luckily that wasn't the case! Since I was on the way, I decided to stop by Royale Avenue. I wanted to participate in the Battle Royale but my party was way too low. I thought the opponents would scale to the highest Pokemon you are participating with but was not the case! That's alright, I can't wait to bring my party back here when the average level is LVL 50.


Detour aside, I kept heading down Route 6 until I reached the waypoint outside the Dimension Research Lab.This was a plot related way-point. It was explained this lab is doing research on Pokemon that can move between dimensions and that the Ultra Beasts are trying to get into our world from cracks in the dimension. Something about the Alola Guardian Pokemon fending off the Ultra Beasts from invading our world. We were introduced to a new character, Professor Burnet. She's Professor's Kukui's wife, a researcher at the lab and left Lillie in Kukui's care after she found Lillie unconscious on the beach. Once that was done I was told I needed to travel through Diglett's Tunnel to reach Olivia.  I was also to warned to be wary of Team Skull along the way, which I look forward to! I find them funny despite being known as the bad guys.




I'm signing off this week outside Diglett's Tunnel with the above party. I feel like I did not do much exploring this week as I wanted to because I wanted to train a party to pass Mallow's Trial. Also, I felt the pool of Pokemon I wanted to use to clear the trial was small, as the past areas had plenty of Rock,Grass and Water-type Pokemon.  I'm going to try and do better having multiple types on standby to assure I do not get swept by another Totem Pokemon. Of course, the further along I go, the better chance I'll have access to more diverse Pokemon. My end goal is to have a few boxes, if I were to be ambitious, of favorite Pokemon that I'll always want in a party as well as multiple boxes of Pokemon to fill in the gaps of these teams. For example, I expect to run into Flying/Rock/Ground type Pokemon in Diglett's Tunnel, so I've brought with me Pokemon effective against those types. But honestly, I was almost wiped out by a pair of Zubats in a wild encounter. I kept bringing the Zubat(s) to critical health instead of knocking them out and they kept summoning allies. Look forward to next week's entry, where I'm stuck in Diglett's Tunnel, terrorized by hordes of Zubats!



My earliest memories of video games come in the form of multiple arcade games like TMNT, The Simpsons and Street Fighter 2; as well as my first console ever, Sega Genesis. We only had 4 games on the Sega Genesis - Sonic The Hedgehog 2, Toy Story, Vectorman and Batman Forever. This was basically all we played until years later when we got a PlayStation 1. When I think of a lot of these games and what they all had in common, difficulty is the first thing to come to mind. Despite being a youngster, there was a clear cut style of difficulty back then, whether it be at the arcade where your games do not save and you can only progress as long as you have the quarters or, my Sega, where a Game Over screen meant it was time to start again after you used up your incredibly scarce extra lives. This level of difficulty was never seen as a flaw of design, simply the norm. However in the many years following this generation of gaming, titles got easier and easier thanks to saves and a general design decision to make a wide majority of games more accessible for the less seasoned player. Lately more than ever, modern gaming has re-implemented "permadeath", a delicate gameplay mechanic where player characters that die are permanently dead and essentially completely removed from play. What is the reason for this relatively new trend of ruthless permanent death in indie games and AAA alike?

The idea of "permanent death" is definitely nothing new, but the recent resurgence somehow manages to be refreshing in key titles. I wouldn't call "permadeath" a sub-genre, since this mechanic manages to seep into all types of games across a plethora of genres. Don't Starve, a wilderness survival game, utilizes the mechanic perfectly. If players meet their fate in the wild, that's all she wrote. Game over, start again. Let it Die, FTL, XCOM, DayZ, Mass Effect, Fire Emblem and even Diablo 3's Hardcore Mode all use permadeath as a mechanic of gameplay and are very different styles of games. Some people may say, "That sounds too hard." or "How is that even fun?". While these are valid concerns, in general it is being used to to create higher highs for players. 


Due to some silly early mistakes, Bossman and Drew are permanently dead in my current XCOM 2 campaign. Bossman didn't even complete a single mission. RIP.

Single player gaming in general lacks the urgency and excitement that multiplayer games have due to a major experience; failure. In a multiplayer game failure is pretty common and a huge motivator to continue playing is to continue to succeed. That same mindset doesn't translate perfectly into a typical single player experience. In popular games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, etc etc, players aren't particularly ecstatically proud of beating the campaigns, since they can try over and over and over until they find success. However, when developers utilize a mechanic like permanent death, the intensity of genuine challenge finds itself back into gaming. Essentially, if players are risking something - like all the time invested up to this point - then success under these conditions will be even sweeter, since they cannot simply get all of their progress back by with the press of a button. I'll get more into this a bit later, but despite the pros of the "permadeath" mechanic, there are cons; the main one being player frustration. How do developers balance offering a genuine challenge via permadeath without frustrating their own player-base?

To anyone familiar with permadeath in gaming in the last decade or so, you may notice I didn't mention some really iconic titles utilizing the mechanic above. Games like Binding of Isaac, Enter the Gungeon, Ziggurat, Spelunkey, Rogue Legacy, Crypt of the Necrodancer, etc, etc all utilize permadeath in a very potent and interesting way. All of these games fit into genre called "Roguelikes", officially defined as "a sub-genre of role-playing games characterized by dungeon crawling through procedurally generated game levels, turn based gameplay, tile-based graphics, and the permanent death of the player character.". While the meaning of "roguelike" can be extremely fuzzy thanks to the term "roguelite" which is a roguelike but a little different and....well it's honestly just a pain in the butt. Simply put, roguelikes have procedurally generated worlds and permadeath, and the mechanics have managed to evolve in some really unique ways from there. I bring up this nebulous sub-genre primarily to answer the earlier inquiry of "How do developers balance genuine difficulty via permadeath without frustrating the player-base?". First off, "procedural generation" staves off the frustration of repetition, since levels are different each replay. Additionally, a lot of roguelikes allow some sort of progression even when you are forced to "restart" over and over, addressing one of the major complaints somebody may have; "Why am I wasting my time?". For example, games like Enter the Gungeon and Ziggurat give minor rewards after each run that can stack up to make the next run simpler. Rogue Legacy does this as well, one of the designers of the indie title states, "We use a modified version of permadeath. You still retain all gold you gained in the run so it is a little more casual. It allowed us to give players all the benefits of permadeath (ability to refresh level layout, meaningful consequence, etc) while also lowering the frustration bar." There's also the immeasurable reward of knowledge, which will help you in your future endeavors. However, there are still a multitude of games where permadeath is simply an end, erasing any progress at all. (RIP XCOM soldiers). Despite what I believe to be a great design choice, it certainly doesn't fit into every game. Even when it's a perfect fit, it can be off-putting to the mainstream audience and incredibly niche. Some games utilize a different type of soul crushing difficulty that does not include permadeath, and sometimes that's ideal.


Darkest Dungeon, a roguelike dungeon crawler known for its atmosphere of despair, is the definition of a niche game that employs permadeath to increase tension. Red Hook Studios also included a sanity gauge which is also capable of throwing a wrench in hours of investment due to bad decisions or just straight up back luck.    


One game series that has been praised for its difficult nature in recent generations is Dark Souls. Dark Souls is well known for its incredible (albeit cryptic) world building, level design and genuinely interesting enemies and bosses. Despite these strengths, there's certainly people (one of them are one of my best friends) who distinctly do not enjoy Dark Souls, whether it be due to difficulty or simply not liking the setting/theme; which is fine, of course. Dark Souls uses a formula of being able to recover what you have lost after dying by reaching the location you died and picking everything back up. Without utilizing permadeath, Dark Souls is critically acclaimed as one of the most difficult AAA games of this generation, and yet it doesn't include one of the best popular development strategies (permadeath) to earn that merit. Simply put, if Dark Souls did use permadeath, forcing players to restart after death, not only would the game become completely inaccessible to those not up to the challenge, it would essentially destroy what narrative the game does have. Other games, even when they may suffer from being a bit too easy would not benefit from permadeath at all if it was to simply be slapped on as an extra mechanic, but sometimes they make for an excellent higher difficulty choice, like in Diablo 3 and DOOM. 




I'll never forget the Dragonslyer Ornstein & Executioner Smough fight from the original Dark Souls. Even though I could try time and time again with almost no punishment for failing, this proved to be an insanely frustrating challenge at the time (2011). Since then, I have learned the mechanics of these series and can take them on with relative ease, an ode to how Dark Souls uses difficulty.

Personally, I love a challenge most of the time. I've recently been playing through XCOM 2, a run of Darkest Dungeon with some buddies and pounding away at some Enter the Gungeon playthroughs, trying to earn a platinum. That being said, I'm also looking really forward to Yakuza 0 and Digimon World: Next Order, both of which are not particularly difficult series. Difficulty, whether it be due to the permadeath mechanic or not, is a delicate formula to create immersion and player investment. It can be a fickle thing that can harm a game's sales or, in the case of recent trends, inspire players to delve into the challenge. I've vastly enjoyed my time playing games like Issac and Darkest Dungeon, even when I'm incredibly frustrated with the difficulty curves, but I personally prefer a balance of styles. I plan on writing a review of XCOM 2 when I manage to stop being bad and rip through the campaign and I'll delve a little bit more into permadeath as well. What permadeath games have you ever played? Are you a fan or not, and why? Let us know! Thanks for reading everyone!
Developers have their games full of secrets for us to discover. Whether it be something that's easily found to something that takes gamers years to find. With hidden character, areas, and interactions can make a game that more memorable to someone that lets them reflect on how they first found it and how excited it made them. Let it be from a secret that was funny or just something that was really cool.

Doom II - John Romero's Head 
The development staff didn't have much love for John Romero at the time of Doom II's development. John's ego was getting the best of him and the rest of the team viewed him simply as a d***. How did they handle it? The best way they could. When you get to the final boss in the game; the Demon says "To win the game, you must kill, me, John Romero!." Though it is heavily distorted and backwards to give that demonic feel to it. In order to find the shrine for John, you have to enable "No Clippings" mode and go through the wall behind the demon head where you will be greeted by the real final boss' head on a stake.



Diablo II - The Cow Level
Now the list wouldn't be complete without this! The creation of this level is all thanks to rumors spread about the first Diablo. It was said that if you interacted with a certain cow enough times a secret portal would open. Blizzard decided to make the rumor a reality with the famous Cow Level on Diablo II. All you need is to combine Wirt's leg and a Tome of Town Portal in the Horadric Cube and a red portal will appear in the Rogue Encampment. Though you can only do this when you have beaten the game in the difficulty you're currently on. When you go through the portal, you are greeted by axe-wielding bovines. While you're killing all of them they all let out numerous "moos".



Diablo III - Whimsyshire
Blizzard responded to the criticism regarding Diablo III's graphics being "too bright and cartoon-like" by creating a whole new level involving unicorns, teddy bears, flowers and treasure clouds. Though the only way there is to assist the Cow King. There's a decent sized list of items to gather along with building the Staff of Herding in order to enter the magical realm. Once you enter, you get to slaughter everything in your path.



Grand Theft Auto IV - Statue of Happiness
Rockstar is well-known for their hidden secrets/Easter eggs. From the Grand Theft Auto series to Max Payne and Manhunt they have plenty of secrets waiting to be found. This one is one of my favorites. After you've gotten to the Statue of Happiness, you see a sign that says "No Hidden Content This Way". Obviously you ignore it and advanced into the Statue. Go up the ladder and you see a giant, beating heart!



Metal Gear Solid 3 - Guy Savage
After you're tortured by Volgin and placed in the jail cell in Groznyj Grad save the game. When you save Para-Medic will talk to you about Dracula as Snake starts to fall asleep. Restart the game and load the file and instead of continuing the game you'll be playing something totally different. You're in a nightmare and you have have two hook swords to hack and slash monsters until you wake up. Afterwards you chastise Para-Medic for giving you a nightmare due to your fear of vampires.



Metal Gear Solid 3 - The End
While one of my favorites boss fights there is TWO quick ways to avoid the fight. The first way is when you first see him in the wheelchair you have a small window of opportunity to actually snipe him and therefore not have to worry about the boss fight at all. The second way is when you initiate the fight is you can actually save and then turn the system off and change the date a week ahead and load the game back up and The End has died of old age! Cool, right?



Wave Race Blue Storm - Sarcastic Announcer
Wave Race is a very relaxing game. Ride the waves, do some cool tricks and have fun! Until you enter a certain code on the audio settings screen. The code changes the announcer's tone to being really cool and approving of your skills to criticizing everything you do.




Mortal Kombat - Reptile
I remember being around my brother's friends and hearing them talk about video game "secrets" all the time. They heard about this secret and there were plenty of attempts to pull this off and when they did it was insane.  About 3:35 into the video you'll see a rocket fly past the Moon in the background, after that you have to pull a double flawless victory and also pull off a fatality and you are then challenged by Reptile!



Toejam and Earl - Level 0/Present Island
I used to play Toejam and Earl a ton when I was younger, and I still play it every now and then. If you get lucky and get certain items you can use them to go over to the top right of level 1 and you'll be at an island loaded with presents. Afterwards use those presents to progress towards the bottom left of the level and drop down the hole. It brings you to level 0; where you can hang out with hula girls in a hot tub that heal you and drink lemonade that grants you extra lives.   



This is my party going into the Lush Jungle! Pay no mind to the Grimer, she's overly excited. With the exception of Val the Umbreon, my party is set to be strong against grass-types. Poison, Fire,  Flying and Bug type moves are super effective against grass-type Pokemon. The party is a little on the low side but I had hopes so level them up in the trial area.



Picking up where I left off, I was staring at the tunnel connecting Route 7 and Route 8. About a 1/4 of the way of traveling through Route 8 I met a new, fancy looking character. I think I was sleepy when I met this person because I have no recollection of what he's about. I do remember that he gave me a TM and mentioned there's some island minigame I have to check out. I found the island minigame, Poke Pelago, available in the menu. I've always wondered what that empty space was for in the second page of your menu. I was too excited to beat the 3rd trial of Akala Island so I'll get back to it later. Aside from meeting Colress, Route 8 had a guy trying to start his own Pokemon style Jurassic Park and a motel where Gladion was staying. I swore I passed a Pokemon museum while I was traveling but I hope this Jurassic Park guy is where I go to revive fossils. Gladion didn't challenge me to a battle when I found him but I demanded I leave. Makes sense, I did just barge into his motel room. There was also a coast I could surf and fish around at the end of Route 8. There was a Pokemon who drops an item if you were able to catch or defeat it . The first time I tried, it ran away into a hole. The second time I was able to corner it between two rocks. Unfortunately for me, it had an ability that forced it to run away when I brought it down to yellow health. I'll have to stock up on Quick Balls and hope I get lucky the next time around.





At the end of Route 8 lies the entrance to Lush Jungle! There was a pathway beyond Lush Jungle that leads behind the PokeCenter on Route 5. I explored there a  bit before making my way back to the trial grounds. Mallow's trial wasn't difficult. I had to find ingredients for Mallow. The ingredients were hidden and I was encouraged to use the Ride Pokemon Stoutland to search them out. At almost every ingredient there was a Pokemon encounter, apparently you caught its eye while foraging. After retrieving the ingredients, Mallow called on Lana and Kiawe to help you make the dish. You find out the purpose of the dish is to lure out the Totem Pokemon. Oh dear...





Being the chicken that I am, I was a little spooked by its entrance. The cut-scene starts off with the other captains looking behind you with a shocked expression on their face as it creeps closer to you. Have I mentioned I don't like bugs? Especially giant bugs that are larger than my character. Lurantis's Totem Power was speed and boy, it was a tough battle. I may have taken this battle too lightly. It wiped my entire party, forcing me to retreat. Being a giant horrifying bug, it knew bug type moves, which made life hard on my Umbreon and Grimer. Lurantis also has a move that lets it heal itself which I was not prepared for. I mentioned a few weeks back my biggest weakness is that my Pokemon can't survive slugfests and that's what this totem battle turned into with that healing move. I couldn't catch a break because while the Totem Pokemon was healing, it's ally was also beating on my Pokemon. The biggest surprise of this was it knew a move that took two turns to use, which are usually quite powerful.  I believe it was called Solar Blade? Appealing to the child in my heart, I thought it was awesome! That is until I learned it had a held item that caused it to use two turn moves in the same turn, one shotting my poor Pokemon.



Defeat is awful! Going to explore the area behind Route 5 and train my Pokemon some more until I take on this Totem Pokemon. I'll have to swap out Umbreon for another bird Pokemon and possibly the same for  Grimer. The bright side of this is I've been really taking my time looking for new Pokemon as I traveled. They may not be as diverse as I'd like but I have some reserves to rely on. Gonna get swole, be back next time!
Happy 2017!  We're pleased to be kicking off another year since our opening in the Fall of 2015, and excited to continue to highlight the best in games, gaming technology, and eSports events for Rome, NY and surrounding areas.  We have a lot of announcements to make concerning upcoming tournaments, technologies and more so let's get right to it.


The Big Announcement - SSB4 LML Returns

A few of the regulars.

The game that has a special place in our hearts is returning after a few months break from official LML business. Draxsel captured last year's sponsorship and recently attended UGC Smash Open in St. Louis, Missouri, and has eyes on a handful of tournaments this upcoming year (with a possibility of a west coast tournament such as EVO 2017). There has been interest in another season of LML and we're happy to kick off another sponsorship contest - LML Season 5 running Saturday February 4th through Saturday December 30th with a growing pool of cash & prizes, and a grand prize sponsorship package that will "stretch" with the number of entrants we yield throughout the year.

A few notes on the season:


  • Weekly events only, but expect special higher buy-in events throughout the year.
  • Points are earned through weekly participation and win rate. The point structure is somewhat flat - 10 points are awarded for participating, with an additional 10 points for every increase in placing. Example: In an 8-person tournament, 1st place will earn 80 points, 2nd place 70 points, and so on down to 8th place earning 10 points.
  • A $20 yearly tournament will be held on Saturday, January 6th 2018 and feature a large point bonus (to be decided later this season).
  • Top points earners will be eligible for sponsorship and other prizes which can increase and change as the year progresses. The more people we get involved, the larger the prizes will be at the end of the year, so spread the word! Expect a full list of possible prizes in early February.
  • Draxsel is ineligible for this contest, but will be able to compete in weekly events and earn points.



Tournament Announcements


Many of you will be attending our January Call of Duty MW: Remastered and Infinite Warfare tournaments this weekend, but we have a few more tournament announcements to make!




February Overwatch 3v3 Tournament Sunday February 12th at HIGH NOON - $10 buy-in

Matches will be played on the PCs. If you bring enough for a team of 6 we'll be happy to run a second $5 tournament immediately following the conclusion of the 3v3.




March League of Legends 1v1 Tournament Sunday March 12th 12:00 PM - $10 buy-in

Same as Overwatch - bring enough for a team of 5 and we'll get a follow-up $5 tournament running!

We plan to run more tournaments on a monthly basis throughout the year - follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all the details.


VR expanding


We've expanded our HTC Vive PC offerings to 25 games, and now are one of a handful of LANs nationwide to feature the VIRZoom bike, which allows control of VR games through a stationary bicycle and is introducing a new fork from traditional eSports called "VSports". There will be tournament announcements upcoming with a handful of sponsors on-board. If you're a VR enthusiast or gamer-athlete stop by the shop and check out the bike. We have models for sale as well at $399 MSRP!


New PC Software


We're happy to be in an early access group for new LAN center software! If you've been by the shop recently you've experienced the new software, and we expect soon to be able to offer leader boards where you can sync up your League of Legends accounts, earning coins per hour played at LAN Mob and bonus coins for good play which can be redeemed for snacks, drinks or gaming time. We also expect this spring be able to participate in nationwide and global eSports events under the LAN Mob banner.


Remodeling LAN Mob


Sometime in the next few months we'll be undergoing some remodeling to open up and expand the shop, joining the two storefronts together. Our present plans are to create a retro gaming area where you can enjoy the classics (and stream them live!) in a relaxed setting. Remodeling will also allow us to reduce the cost on the HTC Vive as we'll be able to run appointments without additional staffing.

In closing I wanted to thank everyone who has continued to support us through visits, gift card purchases, follows, likes, comments, shares, or word of mouth about us. I grew up local and lived through the lack of entertainment and night life in our area, and that understanding drives my thinking every day on how to make LAN Mob the type of place I would have enjoyed frequenting the last 30 years of my life. We can do a lot to improve and be better as a business, and will constantly be pushing to provide the best we can offer.

Boss fights in video games are one of the most unique aspects of the medium. They tend to be narrative climaxes and gameplay feats of strength, pushing players to their limits and testing everything they've learned up to that point. Sometimes they even force you to learn something on the fly, but no matter what they usually share something in common; it feels pretty damn good to take one out. That being said, there's a lot that comes to mind when I consider video game bosses and what makes them "good", but I wanted to write about what my favorite and most memorable boss fights of all time are, whether they are well designed or not. Some Boss Fights can hold extra weight thanks to being that wall of our childhood, loving their design, or having a stellar theme, etc, etc. As I was creating this list I was pretty overwhelmed by the sheer number of bosses I've fought over the years, but I've managed to sift through them all and develop a definitive Top 12 for my very favorite fights of all time! Before I get started I just wanted to note, due to the nature of this list and to add some variety, I am limiting myself to one boss fight per series. Fret not, this list won't be all MGS and Souls fights (even though it COULD be)...Let's get started!





12
Bebop & Rocksteady 
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989)


Despite not being higher on my list, the Bebop & Rocksteady fight is something I'm going to remember for the rest of my life. I have very distinct memories of taking a trip out to my favorite pizza place - Oneida's "Pepi's Pizza" - every Sunday night and dropping a majority of my tokens into the TMNT arcade machine. Rocksteady is the first boss of the game, providing little challenge, with Bebop being the second boss and being a bit tougher. Eventually the game tests your ability to fight them both at once, and defeating them again was incredibly satisfying, even if it was just to make them stop shouting "Say your prayers, toitles!" The TMNT arcade cabinet was one of my favorite arcade games growing up, and I can't help but smile when I think of the "Cowabunga!" shouts echoing throughout the arcade.


11
Master Hand & Crazy Hand

Super Smash Brothers Melee (2001)


This boss fight is in every installment of the Smash series besides Smash 64, but Melee was my first experience with it. If players manage to complete Classic mode in under 18 minutes, the normal final boss of Master Hand shows up just like normal, but when brought to half health Crazy Hand joins in the fight. Smash in general is such a creative game, so I find this "secret" boss fight to fit right into the game, with Master & Crazy hand having some really insane and goofy move-sets. I found these guys to be extremely difficult when I was younger, and I loved the Crazy Hand tales of woe classmates would tell at school.




10

Tiny Tiger
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (1997)

Another blast from the past, Crash Bandicoot is a series well known for being well designed, and the Tiny Tiger boss fight is a shining example of this. I find the mechanics of the Tiny fight not only relatively challenging considering the game's demographic but thematically perfect, treating Tiny like a big dumb oaf who doesn't care to pay attention to his surroundings. To this day, whenever I take out Tiny I have to try my best to not break out into the Crash dance.





9
Mister Freeze
Batman Arkham City (2011)

Boss fights, especially back in the day, tend to fall into cycles. Dodge X, wait for Y and strike, rinse and repeat. By no means is this formula archaic, in fact it is currently keeping me sane while I play Enter the Gungeon non-stop, however Mister Freeze uses a very different formula and it deserves to be noted. Whether you are a fan of Batman or not, the Mister Freeze fight is awesome, thematically, mechanically and even the narrative is solid. Mechanically, Mr Freeze will not fall for the same attack twice, forcing players to consider every tool in their belt (HEH) to outwit the cryogenic genius. It's a fun and tense boss fight, made even better if you're a longtime fan of Batman, thanks to Rocksteady Studio's perfect rendition of Dr. Victor Fries.



8 
Emperor Doel
Legend of Dragoon (1999)

Emperor Doel is a major antagonist in the first disc of the Sony Interactive Entertainment epic; Legend of Dragoon. It feels like the entire first disc of the game is leading up to this encounter, as Doel's ambition hangs heavy, leading to multiple tragedies (No spoilers!). The Doel fight takes place in "The Black Castle", the center of Kazas, the capitol of enemy territory, which makes the setting appropriately dark and tense. Doel is one of the first truly difficult fights in the game, thanks to his powerful move-set which can be devastating if not managed properly. His strongest move "Judgement Storm" does massive damage, and forces players to take the defensive occasionally. Once Doel is defeated there is an exchange of dialogue where Doel expresses how proud he is of Albert, his nephew, and offers some crucial information, as well as a Dragoon Spirit for another party member. Ultimately, my favorite part of the Doel fight is the narrative surrounding Doel and his downfall, and how it moves the plot forward, which is a very intricate tale. If you've never heard of/played Legend of Dragoon I definitely recommend it. It is one of those games that doesn't get the praise it deserves, in my opinion.




7 
Malus
Shadow of the Colossus (2005)
   
Team Ico has a remarkable knack for creating gaming experiences I can only describe as magical. To anyone familiar with Shadow of the Colossus, you're probably not the least bit surprised to see one of these guys on my list, but for me Malus has the most emotional impact of any of the fights in the game, so he was an easy choice. Not only is Malus the Sixteenth and final Colossi, concluding the wonderful (but cryptic) tale, he is by far the most interesting fight. Players are forced to approach this massive opponent using a network of tunnels as to avoid being pegged by fiery bolts of energy Malus tosses your way. Once you make it to Malus, climbing up his body and attacking each sigil is a puzzle in it's own. Shadow of the Colossus is a truly epic game, and as open ended as the narrative is, it leaves many things open for interpretation. Malus is the most human looking Colossi, possibly a reference to Wanderer's own humanity. Malus is the only boss fight which occurs in the rain, the theme is incredibly somber, and once you make it to his upper portion, he seems to stop trying to fight back. Based on your interpretation of the game, this makes a lot of sense thematically, making players question why they are doing this in the first place. Shadow of the Colossus makes a heavy argument for the common discussion "Are Video Games Art?", and in my opinion, Malus drives the point home.





6
   Ludwig Von Tokkentakker
CarnEvil (1998)   

Back to Pepi's Pizza for my number 6! As I mentioned above, my family took weekly trips to Pepi's Pizza for quite a long time, and after a while a lot of games were going out of order for weeks on end and the small pizza joint never really got any new games. Week after week I was pretty content to play Street Fighter 2, TMNT, The Simpsons and a few others but I did wonder if Pepi's would ever get anything new. Enter CarnEvil, the newest and shiniest game at the arcade. Pepi's managed to get a brand new cabinet for the light gun shooter, and people were pretty excited about it. There was usually always somebody playing CarnEvil, but due to it's horror carnival theme I wasn't too ecstatic to jump in to play when I was younger, not to mention it had a steeper price. (it was a whole FOUR TOKENS to start a game up!). Eventually when I did get to playing CarnEvil, I found it wasn't actually that scary and much to my own surprise, I was pretty good at it! It wasn't long before I went toe to toe with the game's final boss "Ludwig Von Tokentakker", the mastermind of the sadistic carnival. Tokkentakker wasn't particularly super difficult, but at the time his name was terrifying to me. The 12 year old version of myself clutched my pocket full of tokens tight, eyeing his name "TOKKENTAKKER" like a sick premonition of what was about to happen to my allowance. Much to my surprise, he is pretty easy to stun-lock, and even though he does pretty nasty damage it's nothing too ridiculous. CarnEvil was the first light gun game I ever beat, and Tokkentakker's boss fight was super memorable to me, especially since the opening cutscene loops around to make it canon that he has been defeated before, but gets resurrected whenever some sap comes along and raises the CarnEvil carnival again. Also that death scene. Oh yeah.


5
Augus
Asura's Wrath (2012)

Asura's Wrath was a very polarizing video game, utilizing a plethora of quick time events and cinematic combat. For some people, these traits make a game completely unplayable, but I rather enjoyed Asura's Wrath, giving off the same feeling as an anime. Augus, previously of the Seven Deities, is very similar to Asura in a few ways, with one of the major similarities being utter strength in combat. Throughout the Asura vs Augus fight there's a pretty badass exchange of dialogue between Asura and his former mentor on top of the insanely over the top fight that takes place...on the moon. Even out of context, this fight is epic, displaying what makes boss fights so great when it comes to story telling.



4 
Luca Blight
Suikoden 2 (1998)

To anyone that has been following our blog right along, I don't think you're too surprised to see me take a chance to write more about Suikoden 2. I touch on Luca Blight specifically during Part 2 of my storytelling and immersion blog, highlighting how he is pretty much pure evil. Luca Blight is presented to players as the living embodiment of everything wrong in the world, and while that may seem cliche' it's actually relieving in a way. In the war torn world of Suikoden 2, amidst the tale of betrayl and tragedy there seems to be one solid truth; which is - Luca Blight is an evil bastard. Known as "The Mad Prince" in the world of Suikoden 2, his cruelty and bloodlust is unmatched. He is a sadistic, murderous psychopath and I can't even begin to list the evil deeds he commits without writing an entire essay. His most notable atrocity is burning down the small village of Ryube, and forcing a civilian to beg for her life by acting like a pig. The woman does so much to Luca's amusement, but he murders her anyways, exclaiming "DIE PIG!" between his fits of laughter. Luca is fought multiple times throughout the story, mostly during the massive war battles. However, during the night raid climax, you finally corner Luca utilizing almost your entire army, and fight him 18 on 1, barely slipping through. Ultimately, the fight becomes a 1 on 1 duel between Riou and Luca, (who was just bombarded with arrows) where he continuously attacks Riou with reckless abandon. Before dying by Riou's hand Luca's last words are -

"Look at me!!!
I am sublime!!!!!
I am the true face of evil!!!!"

Okay, man.   




3
The End
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (2004)





I purposely didn't include a video for this boss fight because I couldn't find one that does this the justice it deserves. "The End", the legendary ancient sniper of the Cobra Unit is one of the most interesting boss fights I've ever fought on every account. At this point, Metal Gear Solid is incredibly well known for having very crazy boss fight mechanics (thanks Kojima) and by comparison The End is relatively tame. You simply have a sniper duel with an old man in the forest of Sokrovenno. However, the first time you fight The End is absolutely terrifying. Before you understand the mechanics, it's borderline impossible to move around the forest, because you will be sniped. Boasting that he is "one with the forest", The End utilizes some insane camouflage, can photosynthesize and has a spotter in the form of a parrot, so it feels like the odds are aggressively not in your favor. While I believe The End fight loses some of its potency once you understand how the fight works, that first encounter is my favorite boss in MGS history, and that's saying something.

2
Vergil
Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening (2005)

I don't think difficulty makes or breaks a boss, if anything I believe difficulty can be considered a bit too heavily when it comes to boss fights. Some of my favorite boss fights aren't particularly difficult (Tiny!). However, in this case, Vergil is an absolute monster. He is incredibly fast, does massive damage, his katana "Yamato" has better reach than Dante's Rebellion and he has his own Devil Trigger form as well. There are no gimmicks for defeating Vergil either, you must weave between strikes and look for your chance to counter attack. Gameplay aside, this fight is incredible thematically as well. To make a long story short, Vergil is Dante's twin brother, born from the legendary Demon Knight Sparda. Dante chose to walk the path of his human half, embracing humanity, while Vergil chose the opposite, embracing his demonic side. As edgy as that sounds, it sets the stage for a very climactic boss fight.




1 

Gwyn, Lord of Cinder 
Dark Souls (2011)

This one was a no-brainer for me. Gwyn is my favorite boss fight of all time, easy. Anyone who played Dark Souls is aware of how critical Gwyn is to the overarching storyline, being the Lord of Sunlight. To anyone who is not familiar, Dark Souls utilizes a very cryptic and vague narrative style, and I'm not going to completely describe Gwyn's place in the world. Essentially, Gwyn was an all powerful warrior and was renowned as a god, fighting alongside the other lords against the dragons long ago. Gwyn sacrificed his soul to kindle the first flame, unnaturally prolonging the Age of Fire (age of the gods) and therefore creating the curse of the undead. Players are tasked with either succeeding Gwyn (sacrificing themselves as he once did) by linking the flame in the area they defeat him, or simply leaving, ushering in the Age of Dark, or Age of Humanity. While this may or may not mean anything to you, it was a perfectly cryptic ending to Dark Souls, which gets built up on a bit in later titles. Mechanically Gwyn is a fierce opponent who reacts to your movements more so than any other enemy in the game, which makes him appropriately difficult. Gwyn wields a massive blade enchanted by fire which adds to his damage. One of my favorite traits of Gwyn is his humanoid stature, which is ironic upon first meeting him after taking down some of the monstrosities in the rest of the game. I love Gwyn's design, his theme is incredible and I even love his arena. Leave it to Dark Souls to leave such an epic impression.


  This list was pretty difficult, as I mentioned. I was originally going to write an honorable mention list, but that got way too long in itself. I would like to say Ornstein and Smough was endlessly frustrating in the best way possible, Senator Armstrong is legendary, the power ranger fight from God Hand plays in my head randomly and I have to try not to laugh and I absolutely love the final boss of Jamestown. So what about you? What are your favorite boss fights of all time? Let us know in the comments! 
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