Hello, humans. I know I’m interrupting your massive celebrations caused by my absence and apparent demise – but my death has been greatly exaggerated. Or at least a little exaggerated. I have, in reality, been feeling pretty shitty, and trying to get work done and helping out the people in my life that need takes all the energy that I have out of me.
I do find time for some games though! I’ve finished Divinity: Original Sin and loved every minute, and now I’ve launched right back into Divinity: Original Sin 2. These are both just prime examples of how to do so many parts of game development right. Crowdfunding, significant content stretch goals, quality product on release, and a deep and immersive RPG story. I love these games – I can’t say that enough. I’ve also begun a weekly ritual of fourplay coop games with my sons and friends which has been a blast.
My writing and journaling has been sporadic as my pain levels allow me to find the energy to be creative. My standup is much the same – whenever I can find it in my body to do an act, I’m trying to do so. It is so fun, and I’m glad I can still find energy to write and perform!
And work is still a love both professional and personal. One day maybe my love won’t break there, but heal full instead. It is the same person that can do both, so hopefully a matter of time!
It’s been a while, humans. While I would actually love to be able to say I’ve just been so busy that I haven’t had time to sit down with you all, unfortunately the reason is MUCH more of a pain in my ass. Actually, it’s pain literally everywhere. See, years ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Essentially, I hurt, everywhere, to varying degrees, all the time. There are medications and treatments that they try to help mitigate the condition somewhat, but the bottom line is that fibro itself isn’t that well understood yet, and they can’t cure it or do much more than try to treat the symptoms. Several months back, I started to experience significantly increased, debilitating levels of pain, along with increased frequency of migraines. Dealing with that day in and out is, quite simply, exhausting. So after months of testing to figure out what was wrong – as I have a family history of other issues that they wanted to rule out – it was finally determined that my fibro has advanced in severity and intensity, and in addition, my nervous system is actually more responsive and acute than most – top 4 percent of people, from what they’ve said. While normally, I’d be thrilled to be in the top percentile of anything, when it means you feel exponentially more pain from your CONSTANT FUCKING PAIN DISORDER, it loses its charm.
All that to say…I have to accept a higher level of pain as my new “normal.” And that has sapped most of my waking energy lately. So the updates have been very sparse, and may still be for a while – but I promise they will keep coming when possible!
But while I’ve been laid up I’ve found some ways to spend my time – like, for example, the digital crack that is Stardew Valley on the Nintendo Switch. Yes, my cat Zero and I have started quite the cozy little farm, creating mayonaise and cheese and trying to win the love of the dark gamer girl Abigail. Sadly, art imitates life – and she wants nothing to do with me. Goddammit.
I also decided that, in order to fully immerse myself in the storyline of Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, the ideal class to play was Ishgard’s own Dragoon. So after some intense grinding to get my level up to snuff, I can say it was well worth it, as much of the lore and history of Ishgard and the Warrior of Light’s quest there is inextricably woven with the Dragoons themselves. While by no means do you NEED to play as a Dragoon to appreciate the story, I’ve felt much more of a connection to the characters and their struggles as one of the high-flying dragon-slaying knights than I would have otherwise. FFXIV remains my favorite MMO of all time – and I’ve played many – as well as one of my favorite FF games ever – and I’ve played them all.
Getting tired (and pissed off for being tired) but before I go for now, one last tidbit that caught my attention, and that is that sleeper-hit SRPG God Wars: Future Past is getting a full story DLC expansion in Japan. The main game made its way to the West on PS4 and Vita and was one of the best SRPGs I’ve played in some time, so here is hoping that the DLC makes it here (for Vita especially since that’s what I played it on) as well.
Now, it is time for meds and trying in vain to actually sleep for a while before giving up and playing a game while watching Dragon Ball Super all night and being exhausted tomorrow. This isn’t a cry for help – it’s just my natural state now. Actually…that might be a cry for help. I don’t know anymore. – EWE
Greets, people, non-people, literate farm animals – anyone reading this, really. It’s good to see you all again, and for a change, I have some good news! First and foremost, the Ominous Dark Tower has a new resident! After engaging in a dark and arcane summoning ritual – or, you know, contacting my friend and fellow attorney Heidi – I have successfully gained a new familiar. Now all shall kneel before the might of EWE and Zero!
And as if that wasn’t enough, Z and I have recently gained access to a Nintendo Wii U – thus we can soon enjoy and bring you our thoughts on some of the exclusive titles for that innovative, but ill-fated system. But before we get to the Wii U, let’s discuss the latest title for its successor that has been sucking up all of my free time. If you like any combination of SRPGs, wacky anime-style slapstick, and penguins, then boy does NIS America have a treat for you!
So, let’s get this out of the way – if you’ve previously played a game in the Disgaea series and did not care for it, this game isn’t going to change your mind. NIS has recognized their target audience and steered firmly toward it, and while there are some basic quality of life improvements to this compilation of the previous PS4 release of Disgaea 5 coupled with all of its previously released DLC, those who have been put off in the past by this series’ quirks will only find more of the same here. In fact, if anything, there are even MORE stats to build, subsystems to master, and over-the-top zany jokes to roll your eyes at than ever before.
Like previous games in the series, the main gameplay here consists of turn-based, tactical RPG battles on grid maps between up to ten of your units and armies of enemy units. Your army will not lack for diversity – as there are an absolute TON of different humanoid and monster classes to be unlocked, in addition to the plot-based characters and their own unique classes. Each class has its own unique skills as well as the ability to learn weapon based skills for any weapon that they gain sufficient proficiency in. Between battles, you can wander through your hub world, conversing with party members, buying weapons and items, powering up skills, and as is tradition for the series, journeying into each and every one of your items in order to level them up. As before, every character, weapon, and item in the game can be raised to Level 9999, and while this is not in any way necessary to complete the main plot, you will be doing an incredible amount of grinding in order to complete the challenging post-game content. And honestly, if you came into Disgaea 5 without a desire to grind…what are you doing here?
Likewise, the trademark wacky demon humor of the series has been ratcheted up to 11 here – and while I still appreciate it for what it is, I can easily see how it is beginning to wear thin for many. You can only tell the same joke, or do the same slapstick, so many times before the audience becomes numb to it, no matter how funny it originally was. But while some SRPGs are heavily focused on plot (hello, Final Fantasy Tactics), the plot in Disgaea has always been there as an excuse to facilitate the leveling treadmill. The real draw of this series has always been for that OCD impulse in many gamers to create a party of living gods that can inflict damage in the billions of points of HP, and on that front, Disgaea 5 on the Switch allows you to scratch that itch literally anywhere you go.
If you are a fan of the series, then this game is the ultimate way to experience everything great about Disgaea. The DLC chapters give you access to a plethora of bonus characters for your party drawn from across the other games in the franchise, as well as from other NIS SRPGs. And the Switch’s blessed portability is the absolute best way to play a Disgaea title. I have owned and played every entry in the series on every platform it released on, and I have always enjoyed the PSP and Vita ports of the prior Disgaea titles – a game so dependent on jumping in, grinding a few maps, and jumping back out before it gets tiresome is absolutely MADE for a portable platform. I honestly can’t say enough about how at home this game is on the Switch, and the beautiful screen is perfect for the hi-res sprites and beautiful 2D cutscenes. The voice acting is a mixed bag – Killia has a cool, calm voice perfectly suited to an aloof anti-hero, Red Magnus is a hilariously obnoxious knock-off of the Rock…but word of warning: Seraphina’s voice, laugh, really any sound she makes is tooth-grindingly aggravating.
Bottom line is this – if you weren’t a Disgaea fan already, this game isn’t going to change your mind. But if you’ve liked the series at all in the past, even just a little, then this is probably the best game it’s produced so far, and this is the ideal, definitive version of it to play.
That’s it for now, doods and doodettes! See you again soon – and that’s not a promise, it’s a threat! – EWE
Hello, mortals! Well, are we in for a treat today. You see, my fellow spell-slinger, The Well-Red Mage posted a query to our blogging community, wanting to know the answer to the following:
Me? You want to ask me, the living embodiment of snark and cynicism what I’ve learned since I started communicating with you feeble humans? Oh, now you’re…in for…what’s that sound? Music?
Hello, friends – Editor here. I thought that the Well-Red Mage’s question deserved some thoughtfulness and introspection, and well…I think we all know that those aren’t the first things that EWE goes to when a query is posed to him. So, I decided that I would be a better fit to respond for the both of us. Don’t worry – he’ll be ok. See, he doesn’t know it, but all I have to do is put on something relatively sad and/or sappy (in this case, “After All” by Cher and Peter Cetera) and he goes completely catatonic. It’s like rolling a shark over onto it’s back – and since I’ve compiled an entire Spotify playlist of them, he’ll be locked up for hours. Don’t tell him though – typically he has no memory of it once he snaps out of it, and his denial is rather amusing.
So…what have we learned since our first blog post? My goodness – it’s been a little less than a year, but it almost seems like forever. As those of you who have been following this little literary lark for a while know, this blog began as a coping mechanism. A short time before, our world had come crashing down at the hands of the person we trusted most. The resulting depression was very, VERY deep – and but for the intervention of our eternal bestie, Malevolent Moogle, as well as some unexpected kindness from somefantasticfolksatIGN, it might have been permanent. But they brought us back from the edge of that abyss, and then the question became what to do in order to begin to heal the wounds and be able to connect with people again. Having always enjoyed writing, the decision to try blogging seemed somewhat obvious.
As anyone that looks back at those first few entries can attest to, EWE was firmly in control of our little endeavor – I was only able to prevent him from making any truly horrific mistakes. And that was a direct reflection of the place we were in – hurt, angry, and alone. But then something completely unexpected happened, and it leads into what I’ve learned. As trite as it may sound, I learned that I wasn’t alone. I was welcomed into the blogging community by so many other amazing, talented writers. I developed friendships with fantastic people from all over the world, whom I’ve never seen, but who have been there to listen to me and share in my journey back from the place I was in. And slowly, but surely, they helped to draw the scattered pieces of me back together so that EWE and myself could start to reassemble them.
Along the way, as I found myself again, this blog found its voice as well. In the beginning, I honestly didn’t know what this would be – other than a place for EWE to vent and melt down without resorting to screaming at stuffed animals like a COMPLETE lunatic. But as my friendships with so many talented people in the games and entertainment community grew, I found a niche in offering my thoughts on all sorts of offerings in my hobbies of choice. As someone who has often sought escape from my world into those of others, I’ve always loved books, movies, comics, manga, anime – anything that I could get lost in, with characters I could grow attached to. And then there was my day job as an attorney – one of the few things that I can claim without feeling arrogant to be fairly good at. There are my posts about cooking, which grew from something I only liked doing when I could do it for someone else into something I get to share with all of you. And so, while it may seem like a fairly eclectic hodgepodge of subject matter, it is me. In sharing all of these things with others, I found that I was opening up more to all of you than I had to almost anyone else, ever. And while EWE would likely kill me for telling you all this – I’ve been grateful for the acceptance I’ve found in doing so.
Have there been setbacks? Of course there have. I’ve been called pathetic some whom I hold very dear; I’ve been mocked by some that don’t see why I even bother with this blog as an outlet. But instead of letting those define me, I have instead focused on the support I have continued to have from my friends and loved ones, both in my daily life and in the wider Internet community. It’s a process, and one that I keep working at each and every day. So in a way, what I’ve learned since first starting my blog is something that I’m still continuing to learn each day. As Tolkien put it:
And so, I’ll keep following the road, wherever it leads. And I’ll continue to be grateful for each of you that is beside me along the way.
Now, it would appear that EWE appears to coming out of his daze, which is my queue to quietly step aside. Thanks to you all for indulging in a little introspection with me! And remember – don’t tell EWE about our little trick. First, it’s unlikely to keep working if he were to catch on. And also, there’s a decent chance he’d be so humiliated that he’d burn the entire globe to a cinder. – Editor
Hello, friends. You probably only know me from the occasional Editor’s Notes you see here and there when EWE is on a tirade. (EWE’s Note: How DARE you reverse our roles like this?! You release me from these parentheses RIGHT NOW!) Just be patient for a little bit. I’ve kept us out of jail this long, so don’t you owe me that? (EWE’s Note:…point taken. Carry on.)
You see, I thought that the tone of this entry, being rather different from the norm, would perhaps be more impactful coming from a different voice. While anything that is posted on Evil Wizard, Esq. is always open for you to share with your friends (EWE’s Note: Or enemies!) we rarely request that you spread the word. But for this, I would ask only that if you feel this message is one that resonates with you, or that would resonate with someone you know, you spread this message. I truly feel it is something that many people encounter in their lives, from one side or the other, and would benefit from seeing from this perspective, even if only a little. If you find you agree, I would only humbly ask that you share the following with someone that could use it.
Now you may wonder where I found such a long-winded meme online. The answer is…I didn’t. The picture is just a random photo, true enough – but the words are my own. They are drawn from my own experiences. And while sometimes writing acts as a catharsis, a way to take what is trapped inside and remove it and place it elsewhere, when I read over these particular words again, they still resonate with so many feelings. And so I wonder if perhaps they may help someone else, on either side of such a bond, recognize what it is that they have.
I know this is quite different from the normal…colorful streams of consciousness that you’ve come to expect from EWE here (EWE’s Note: Fuck yeah!) and I can promise that next time we will be returning to your regularly scheduled insanity. But while it is often very, very hard for me to share a part of me with others without the shield of cynicism that EWE provides, I thought this may be something worthy of exception.