You may not know this about me: my first semester in college, I was enrolled in an Arabic class. I took Arabic out of pure intellectual curiosity, nothing more; at the time it wasn’t really part of any long-term plan of study or anything like that, it was just as far away as I could get from the languages I’d been offered in high school and it sounded neat. I lasted about three weeks, maybe; it turns out that despite being an excellent student, high school had not taught me to study, and as it happens mastering the Arabic alphabet, which not only has a handful of letters with no English equivalent but where each letter looks different depending on its position in the word– letters that start or end a word look different from letters in the middle, and the primary and final positions look different from each other as well– was more complicated than I could handle at the time. I would eventually fill my language requirement with Hebrew, which isn’t quite as complicated as Arabic, but that was the class that finally taught me to buckle down and study.
I have two big academic failures in my life: Arabic and calculus, and I still want to achieve at least a working knowledge of both before I die. I took calculus my senior year in high school but a bad case of senior burnout combined with a math teacher who was, inexplicably, one of the best math teachers I’d ever had for sophomore Geometry but was utterly unable to reach me for senior Calculus meant that as soon as I was admitted to IU and fulfilled all of my graduation requirements I dropped the class and took an independent study period of Spanish.
Stick a pin in that; we’re gonna take a left turn for a couple of paragraphs.
I’ve never particularly considered myself a weeb– a lifetime of aversion to any sort of Japanese animation not involving Hiyao Miyazaki will kind of nip that in the bud– and while it’s not entirely accurate it’s fair to suggest that the presence of a Japanese voice track on really any form of entertainment is an indicator that I may not be into it. That said, I’ve spent approximately six thousand hours since March playing Nioh and Nioh 2, both Japanese-with-English-subtitles and very loosely based on sixteenth-century Japanese history, and I have sunk a similarly obsessive amount of time into Ghost of Tsushima in the last couple of weeks, which is based on the (real) invasion of Tsushima island by the Mongols in 1274.
And god help me if this hasn’t woken up a previously-nonexistent desire to learn more about Japan.
I keep trying to find a decent English biography of Oda Nobunaga, who appears in both of the Nioh games, and I’m discovering, after spending half of my waking hours listening to people speaking Japanese for five months, a certain interest in learning to at least fumble my way through speaking Japanese. I’m not even sure where to start with that; there are apps and such, but anything reputable is way more money than I’m willing to invest. There are probably some reputable textbooks out there, but I haven’t taken the time to look for them yet.
Which, depending on whether this desire sticks around once I get past these few games, will add another complicated long-term intellectual goal to my list. I feel like I probably ought to get started on at least one of these at some point, right? Which one would you start with, at gunpoint if necessary? 🙂
Be it known that after 132 hours spread across my first two playthroughs and an additional 85 hours spread across my second two, and three months and five days after the game’s release date, I have now played through Nioh 2 four complete times, and that unless I decide to go through all of the Twilight missions and beat all of those, I have well and truly exhausted all of the game’s content until the DLC packs start releasing.
… and let’s be honest, I’m probably going to go through those Twilight missions too. Maybe not twice; my Onmyo build has definitely emerged as my favorite, so I’ll probably just do them on that build.
Favorite game of all time? Entirely possible. While I own games I’ve played through four times (at least a couple of the Soulsborne games, all of which I’ve played through at least twice, and I think I’ve got 4 playthroughs of DS3 and Bloodborne by now) I have not ever since the days of the old-school original Nintendo played through the same goddamn game four times before moving on to something else. Nor have I ever ponied up money for DLC before it was released, and I’ve already bought all of it. Nor, to this date, have I gotten every single trophy for any PS4 or PS3 game, although there were a few Xbox 360 games I did that with.
I was loosely keeping track of how many times I said “God, I hate these things,” while I was playing Nioh 2 yesterday. It was … a lot. I love the game, but I have some serious enmity toward some of the monsters. Let’s do an absurdly detailed post about it!
PART ONE: YOKAI I DON’T ACTUALLY HATE ALL THAT MUCH:
DWELLERS: Most of this first category is yokai that frankly should never, ever kill you. Are they going to? Yes. Yes, they are. But dwellers, both of the smaller and larger size, are usually pretty harmless unless they’re throwing firebombs at you and you haven’t noticed them yet.
SKELETON WARRIORS: Again, either size, neither of them should be killing you. The ones with spears can be kind of dangerous because that spear usually hits harder than you’re expecting it to, but it’s easily dodged. No biggie.
SPIDERS: I mean, they’re spiders. Don’t attack them from in front, you’ll have a bad time. Other than that … eh.
ABERRANT SOLDIERS: Can be highly annoying at range, but they’re still cannon fodder and they’re generally pretty fair. Slightly more annoying than skeleton warriors and dwellers because they block.
KAPPA (NORMAL): Damn near harmless on their own, but they run away and chasing them down can lead you into other trouble.
SNOWCLOPS AND ONE-EYED ONI: They hit like a truck but their movesets are predictable and they can be blinded. These can be dangerous in smaller rooms, especially if the camera goes nuts on you, but they shouldn’t be a problem unless they’re surrounded by other enemies.
YOKI: Man, these were trouble early on in Nioh 1. Now only the kusarigama variant should even be hitting you, although the new four-swing move they’ve given the ones with the katanas can still catch you if you’re too close when they start attacking. They feel pretty defanged now, though.
ONI-BI AND BIWA BOKU–BOKU: Not dangerous, really, but the Biwa Boku-bokus are always hidden and an endless stream of Oni-bi can be trouble if you’re fighting something else. Plus, in Nioh 2, the fire ones explode after you kill them sometimes, which teleports both way higher on the I Hate You scale.
ENKI: Basically a Yoki but in the shape of a gorilla and with longer-range moves, the Enki are actually kind of fun to fight but their damn grab and stomp move is so fucking disrespectful that I kind of hate them but only a little.
YAMANBAS: Actually, these aren’t that bad. You don’t want to get caught by surprise by them but they’re usually not too much of a threat unless there are other monsters around.
PART TWO: THESE THINGS ARE ALL ASSHOLES:
FLYING BOLT: An enemy that was significantly scarier in Nioh 1, so I have left-over enmity from that, but they’re much rarer in Nioh 2 and I tend to have flame available most of the time so it’s not as big of a deal. Still hate ’em though. (Also, I can not get this image to cooperate, and I’ve used two different pictures of these damned things. I don’t know why it’s being weird.)
GAKI: Properly fought, a Gaki can be disposed of in a few seconds. Which is why there are usually several of them, and they’re hanging from the ceiling to drop down on you and eat your face, or they eat each other and become Super Gaki, or they’re high up on a ledge throwing shit at you. Fuck them.
MAGATSU WARRIORS: I probably should hate these more than I do, but they’re pretty rare, and while they’re tough every one I’ve fought so far has been in a position where I could bring everything I had to bear on them and in a one-on-one fight they’re not that bad. I think if they were around more often I’d hate them more.
MUJINA: Damn near harmless except for the fucking heart attack I have every time one of these bastards jumps out of a Goddamned treasure chest.
WAIRA: Not especially tough, especially considering their size, but their grab attack is bullshit and they can tunnel underground, and they’re much faster than they look.
NAMAHAGE: I hated these a lot more in Nioh 1, where they didn’t show up until the DLC, and I feel like they’ve been defanged a bit in this game, but they can throw shit at you now, and I never remember they can do that until there’s a hatchet protruding out of my Goddamned forehead. Plus I still have leftover Nioh 1 trauma from these things so I always forget they’re mostly easier to handle in this one.
ONYUDO: My single most-feared opponent in Nioh 1; Onyudo and their stupid tongues are pushovers in Nioh 2. Hang back, wait for burst attack, Brute counter, seeya. Still hate ’em a lot, though, but it’s maybe a bit less warranted in this game than it was in the previous one.
NURIKABE: Most of the time, fights with Nurikabe can be avoided since you can usually gesture your way past them. Nurikabe are high on my hate list because they usually have shit hidden behind them, and the last thing I do before finishing any main mission is spend a month looking for the one damn wall in the entire level that has Goddamned eyes on it. Plus, if you do have to fight them, they’re tougher than they ought to be.
UBUME: Ubume aren’t actually that dangerous or hard to kill, but the central conceit of the damned things is that they’re yokai that were formed from grieving mothers, and about half of them are carrying around a baby-shaped chunk of spirit stone that you have to shoot if you want to actually fight them. I’m all for the occasional dead baby joke but man this is bullshit.
LESSER UMI-BOZU and TOXIC SLIME: Sneak-attack ass motherfuckers, all of them, and I hate them, especially since I should be smart enough to look for the sonsabitches by now. Slightly lower on the list because pretty much any fire attack will kill them; they’re a huge pain in the ass if you happen to be out of fire, though.
ONE-EYED IMP: Awww, isn’t he cute? NO, he’s not fucking cute, he’s going to swat you with his goddamned tongue and then jump away toward fifteen other enemies and then while you’re dealing with those he’s going to turn into a goddamned One-Eyed Oni and mudboot-stomp your ass when you’re not looking. Fuck these things.
MITSUME YAZURA: Sure, he’s all heads and legs, and that’s fun, but I hate these things just because they look so much scarier than they actually are until you get complacent, which they have a magical power to make happen, and then they grab you with their feet-hands and hold you over their many heads and rip you in half, and fuck these things.
KARAKA: Not terribly hard to defeat, since their distance attacks can all be interrupted, but their habit of masquerading as fucking torches is really Goddamned annoying and they tend to pop up at the worst possible moment. These things raining fire on your ass while you’re trying to deal with something more immediately dangerous is hellaciously annoying.
PART THREE: FUCK EVERYTHING ELSE ON THIS LIST, THESE MOTHERFUCKERS ARE ALL ASSHOLES AND SERIOUSLY, FUCK THEM:
MOTHERFUCKING WHEELMONKS: I hated these motherfuckers in Nioh 1, and now they can jump. They move at the speed of light, they are the only enemy in the entire game who can hurt you just by touching you, and half the fucking time when I get killed by these bastards I hadn’t even seen the fucking thing yet and it just buzzsawed me into a corner and killed me dead before I knew it was there.
GODDAMNED ROKOROKUBI: I’m not even sure these assholes are supposed to be top-tier enemies, but something about them makes them impossible for me to fight, and a single rokorokubi can take me down under damn near any circumstances at all if I’m not either incredibly careful or using massive overkill. Their grapple attack sucks, occasionally mistaking one for human sucks, their range sucks, they suck. Fuck rokorokubi.
PIECE OF SHIT TESSOS: They fucking fart on you and then you can’t heal properly. Another fast-as-fuck enemy, they’ve also got this bullshit Sonic the Hedgehog spin around like a crackhead move that I hate, and they even have the fucking temerity to have a weak spot in their tails that I can somehow still never take advantage of. I think these are my most hated of the enemies new to Nioh 2.
PUNK-ASS FUCKING KARAKASA UMBRELLA MOTHERFUCKERS: Yes, that’s a fucking umbrella standing on a foot with an eye. These goddamned things have no excuse to be as annoying as they are because they’re tiny pieces of shit and oh also they’re umbrellas and if you don’t know how personally insulting it is to be killed in half a second by a fucking possessed demon umbrella then imagine how mad you get when it happens twice in a row.
GARBAGE MONSTER RED KAPPAS: Neither harmless or as useful as the regular kappas, no, these assholes jump on your back and break your spine when they aren’t Koopa-ing around on their goddamned shells faster than you can keep up with them. Dicks, all of them.
THESE FUCKING KARASU TENGU BASTARDS: I hate them. I hate them I hate them I hate them I hate them I hate them. I hated them in Nioh 1 and I hate the assholes now. This game is set up poorly to be able to manage monsters that can fly, and the fact that if they look at you crosseyed you lose 2/3 of your health does not help. Fuck fucking tengus. They’re assholes, all of them.
MOISTENED BINT NURI-ONNA: Wait, did I say tessos were my least favorite new enemy? No, fuck that, there are at least two that are worse: Goddamned Nuri-Onna, for starters; these assholes can hide on ceilings, under water, have long range, a grab attack, eat your face, and God help you if you miss a burst attack and get hit by their fucking paralysis vision. Fuck that. These can be handled if you know they’re there, and don’t tend to have a ton of stamina, but that just makes it more frustrating when they kill the shit out of you.
I’m in the neighborhood of a third to halfway through my first playthrough of Nioh 2, and to a very real extent I don’t even need to write this review, as it doesn’t take long to say “Other than the inventory system the game is damn near perfect, and I’m used to the inventory system by now.” Like, that’s the review. Nioh is one of my favorite games of all time– it’s kind of amazing how many of those games I discovered during this console generation– and the sequel improves on the original in damn near every way, adding a ton of new enemies, a few new overlapping systems, a couple (not as many as I’d like, which might be my only complaint) of new weapons, and other than that just keeps everything rolling. The original game’s horrifying, punishing, kill-you-in-a-second-if-you-stop-paying-attention difficulty is still there, for sure, and the boss fights so far have been really satisfying. About half of them I’ve managed to pull off within a couple of attempts, and the other half have been those great kind of boss fights that start off with getting obliterated in seconds without laying a finger on anything and then you just keep learning patterns and getting better until you win. The fact that I don’t have to be back to work for five weeks and I still wish I had more time to play should tell you something. I suppose it’s always possible the back half could go repetitive and dull, but I doubt it; everything’s been amazing so far.
Finally getting around to wiping the hard drive on my old iMac– or, at least, I’m staring at it as it slowly reformats itself. The computer has been replaced long enough that the computer I replaced it with has been paid off, but is still sitting, forlorn, on my desktop waiting for me to do something with it so I can have it recycled. I need to get the office under control– my wife pointed out that there was a litterbox clearly visible in the background of one of my instructional videos the other day, and I actually started one of them with the words “Welcome to my filthy office!”
That’s gotta stop, and the first step to getting that done is reclaiming the desk so that I can take everything else that used to be on the desk and put it back, which will, along with some heavy decluttering, go a long way to making the room look a lot better. Again, I’m off for weeks. It’s not like I don’t have time.
School will be open on Monday, as apparently they’ve decided to break from past practice and send computers home with the 3rd-5th graders, requiring a whole lot of people to spend time disassembling computer carts today. Starting Tuesday, we are closed for “at least” two weeks, and seeing as after the third week we have Spring Break anyway I suspect we will not be returning for it. So there’s a very good chance that I’m about to be off work for a solid month, expected only to produce e-learning assignments and lectures for students who will not do the assignments and not view the lectures. I’m considering making one of them a profanity-laced tirade just to see if anyone notices. Since my kids don’t need to come to school to pick up Chromebooks, and since no one with any sense is going to send their kids to school under these circumstances (one single day followed by two weeks off, in the middle of a pandemic?) I expect to have less than 25% of my students in the building and I have no plans to actually provide any instruction. Pretty sure it’s going to be completely pointless to even try. I’ll spend Tuesday at home recording lectures and putting together simple assignments, and that’ll be that until April.
I guess it works out for me that Nioh 2 came out today, then.
The original game ate my goddamn life when it came out. Ate my goddamn life. I think I’ve got … 200 hours in it right now? More? I’m scared to look, but it was the only thing my PS4 was for for months after it came out. I put about three or four hours into it today (note that today was the last day of the 3rd quarter and a teacher record day, so the kids weren’t at school and I ducked out early once I finished everything I had to do) and I see no reason to believe that it’ll be of any lesser quality.
Oh, right, and I’ll have the boy with me the whole time too, because he’s also off until April. I have to feed them every day, right? That’s how that works, with kids?