On this week’s episode of Channel F, host merritt k takes a little break from our regularly scheduled Video Game Game Show™ activities to focus on the “video game” portion of our program, with three new discussion-oriented segments designed explicitly for your enjoyment! (Note: Previous segments on this show were also designed with your enjoyment in mind, however that was a secondary objective placed just below causing immense harm to the participating guests. These priorities have since been flipped.)
Senior Managing Editor Nerium, Featured Contributor Fūnk-é Joseph and Charles “the Intern” Harte join merritt to talk about the most surprising things that happened to them this week (in a video game at least), as well as the latest hubbub in everyone’s various live games of choice.
No Man’s Sky, for instance, continues its gradual ascent towards greatness with its 20th major update since launching in 2016, Endurance. Meanwhile, merritt is still playing Destiny 2, and she swears it’s good now, not like before, she promises, really this time — and you would not believe how many guys can fall after the latest Fall Guys update.
Plus, merritt resurrects Get Rec’d, an ancient segment from a lost podcast wherein our panel of experts each recommend something you should try, such as the monogramed towel mentioned above. Charles also discovers that Square Enix used to be two different companies, in a moment that made producer Jordo so aware of the horrible, unrelenting passage of time that he withered into a skeleton and crumbled to dust.
This Week’s Segments (In Order):
- Surprising Moments of the Week
- Numbers Go Up Presents: The Live Games Update
- Get Rec’d
Games Discussed on This Episode (Not Necessarily in Order):
- Elden Ring
- Live A Live
- Fall Guys
- No Man’s Sky
- Genshin Impact
- Destiny 2
Channel F Ep. 172: Smoothie Cube Transcript
Transcribed by E. Powers
merritt: Hello, and welcome to Channel F, the Fanbyte podcast where we basically just do whatever we want. I’m your host, merritt k, and…happy Culinarians Day, everybody, which I misread as Galerians Day and briefly thought that there was a day dedicated to the 1999 survival horror game Galerians on the PlayStation 1.
merritt: There should be, but there is not. I don’t know what Culinarians day is, presumably–
Nerium: Culinarians? Like, cooks?
merritt: Presumably it’s about cooking, but there’s no link on time.is, so I’m just gonna let that hang out. And speaking of hanging out, I’ve got three folks hanging out with me here today on the podcast. We have, first of all, we have, Nerium, Fanbyte Managing Editor of the senior variety.
Nerium: Hello. Culinarians Day is observed on July 25th annually to honor cooks and chefs.
merritt: Oh, good for them. You know, that’s…they’re the real heroes. Also with me, I have Fanbyte Featured Contributor, Fūnk-é Joseph.
Fūnk-é: Hey, what’s up? I’m Fūnk-é, I’m 24, and I make a mean smoothie. [quiet laughter]
merritt: I love your like dating game intro thing. [Nerium laughs]
Charles: Yeah, what was that?
merritt: It’s like your talking head segment where your name appears on the screen on a chiron at the bottom. You’re on Blind Date in like 1999 or something.
merritt: Which is definitely a show that you know about and have seen before.
Nerium: Well, you just have to use–
merritt: Being that it aired in 1999.
Fūnk-é: Yes. I was watching TV young.
merritt: Oh, okay.
Fūnk-é: One year old.
Nerium: You have to use a more universal point of comparison. You could say that like Fūnk-é is applying for the cast of Mallrats 2. You know, something–
merritt: Oh, yes. A movie that I have seen.
Charles: Yeah, yeah.
merritt: I’m very familiar with the works of…I want to say Kevin Smith?
Nerium: Ding, ding ding ding ding!
merritt: Yeah! We did it, folks. We did it!
Nerium: A hundred points to merritt.
merritt: Ah, cool. I’m starting off with a huge lead, with a hundred points. And joining us this week is Fanbyte summer 2022 intern, Charles Harte.
Charles: Hello. I thought Fūnk-é’s intro was more like the Jared vine, which is kind of like the inverse reference.
Charles: Was that what it was supposed to be?
Fūnk-é: Absolutely. Yeah.
Fūnk-é: Well, I mean, it was in the tune of like game show energy.
Charles: Uh huh. Uh huh.
merritt: Yeah. Jared.
Fūnk-é: Also culinary day or whatever.
merritt: Yeah, also culinary day or whatever.
merritt: I am always saying this. [laughter]
Charles: Can I do one to introduce myself?
merritt: You can do as many as you like.
Charles: What is up? I’m Cherr–
Charles: I’ll do another one.
merritt: Okay, sure.
Charles: You said I can do as many as I…
Fūnk-é: It’s okay. It’s not live. It’s not live.
Charles: That’s cool.
merritt: Well, no, but that is in– that is going to be in the show.
Charles: What’s up, I’m–
Nerium: [laughs] Yeah, it’s in the movie.
Charles: Oh, sorry. I’ll go again. What is up? I’m Charles, I’m 22, and I make a nice smoothie.
Charles: Fūnk-é’s was mean. I put love in mine.
Charles: No offense, Fūnk-é.
Fūnk-é: Oh, wow. Okay. No, no, that’s good.
merritt: Well, I would say I make an average smoothie, but what I– here’s my problem with smoothies. I make a big batch, and then I put them in these special ice cube trays that I bought a few months ago, and then I always forget to put a smoothie cube in a glass the night before in the fridge, and so they’re just frozen. So it’s like–
Fūnk-é: Wait, wait, wait.
Nerium: What? Sorry?
Fūnk-é: You freeze the smoothie, and then you use the cube…
Nerium: I just dropped my phone in shock. What? [laughter]
merritt: Well, because no, I mean, I make a ton, and then I have some when I make it, but then I save the rest.
merritt: So that I can have smoothie– in theory, I could have a smoothie every morning without having to make one every morning.
Fūnk-é: To make one.
Nerium: How long before a smoothie, uh, cube…sorry, you did say smoothie cube, right? [laughter]
merritt: Yeah. It’s like–
Nerium: How long– what’s the half life on that?
merritt: I don’t know. It’s frozen. That’s good forever, probably.
Fūnk-é: Forever, yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Nerium: That’s not…that’s not true!
merritt: Well, ice cream. [pause, others laugh]
Charles: Ice cream’s good forever.
merritt: I mean, I didn’t really know where I was going with that, but ice cream lives in the freezer for a while, so…
merritt: Look, a smoothie is just fruit, yogurt, and…kale. So, that can live in the freezer. Right?
merritt: That’s fine.
Nerium: What’s your number one smoothie? What’s your go-to?
merritt: Okay, my go-to is kale, blueberry, banana, Greek yogurt, and I’ll put some flax seed meal in there too.
Fūnk-é: I go for a–
merritt: I know a lot of people go for like a soy milk or an almond milk, but I need the protein [Fūnk-é: “Yeah”] and the fat content of the Greek yogurt, so.
Fūnk-é: Sometimes I go for almond milk, but I usually have just been going like pear nectar, mango nectar, and then frozen strawberries or mangoes. That’s it. Ship it.
merritt: See, I need– for me, a smoothie is a vector for getting greens in my body that I wouldn’t otherwise eat unless I was just eating them raw or something, so.
merritt: It feels like cheating, because it’s like, oh, this is really good for me and it’s easy to eat. So. Anyway, happy smoothie day or whatever the fuck it was. [laughter] We’re gonna do things a little differently today. We’re gonna kick things off with a question. So, much like– [thunder] oh. Did you hear that?
merritt: There was a thunder clap.
merritt: It’s begun raining, nigh torrentially I would say. The first time we’ve had rain in a while, so I am–
Nerium: Oh, I thought this was a bit.
Charles: I also thought this was a bit. [Nerium and Fūnk-é laugh]
merritt: No, not a bit. There is– it is just…
Nerium: And it’s raining video games! [laughter]
merritt: It would be great if it were like a storm-themed bit, but it’s not. We are just gonna talk about some games that we played this week, ‘cause you know what, I think the fans deserve it.
merritt: I think the fans deserve to hear us talk about video games, and–
Nerium: Nobody’s ever done this on a podcast before.
merritt: No one’s ever done a video game podcast before. We’re gonna try it, see how you like it. Let us know. Rate and review us on iTunes, and give us some feedback in the Discord. Fanbyte.casa will take you there.
Nerium: Ding that bell.
merritt: Bing bing bing! So, I have a question for you all, and it is as follows: What was a surprising moment in a game that you played this week? Preferably a newish game, but it doesn’t have to be. But Fūnk-é, I’d like to start with you. What have you been playing, and did you have any kind of…what was a fun or surprising moment that you had in one of those games?
Fūnk-é: Fun or surprising. Um, I think the one that’s coming to mind is when I was playing a lot of Multiversus on the weekend, and I just got bodied by Jake the Dog a bunch, way too many times.
merritt: From Adventure Time.
Fūnk-é: From Adventure Time, yes, the…
merritt: And Multiversus is the platform fighter from WB.
Fūnk-é: Yeah, it’s sort of a fever dream collection of characters that I…it has Arya Stark. It has Tom and Jerry from Tom and Jerry. [someone sighs] It has Finn the Human.
merritt: So, it’s the video game equivalent of Space Jam 2.
Fūnk-é: Yeah. I mean, LeBron is gonna be there on, I think, tomorrow. Yeah, he’ll be in the game.
Nerium: Yeah. He’s literally in it, yeah. [laughs]
merritt: Wow. I found out he’s also in Fortnite today, so he’s…
Fūnk-é: He’s gonna be in everything.
Fūnk-é: Bring LeBron to League of Legends. Fuck it.
Fūnk-é: I’d main LeBron. But yeah, when I was playing Multiversus, I was getting– in Smash games and like fighters, you can get dunked off the side of a stage.
merritt: Yeah, spiked, right?
Fūnk-é: When someone hits like– yes, when someone spikes you down. So, Jake has a skateboard move—that is the down arrow, if I’m correct—and that just knocks you straight down off the stage. And there’s so many Jakes that are just way too good at this in open beta.
Nerium: [laughs] So many Jakes.
Fūnk-é: [laughs] Yeah.
merritt: Too many Jakes. Forget it, Jakes! It’s Multiversus.
Nerium: Sounds like you’re talking about jabronies. [laughter]
Fūnk-é: But yeah, it was embarrassing, but you know, we fought back. Finn mains, we’re gonna make it on top here.
merritt: Is that who you’re maining, Finn?
Fūnk-é: Yeah, Finn the Human. His kit is so cool.
Nerium: Oh, Finn the Humane.
merritt: Yeah, what kinds of stuff does he do?
Fūnk-é: He has a lot of sword work. He’s similar to Marth in that sense.
merritt: Ah, sure.
Fūnk-é: But he also has a shop mechanic that reminds me a lot of Hero from Smash Ultimate [merritt: “Mm”] where he can purchase different upgrades like speed boost, armor, and also BMO, which acts like Peach’s Toad from Smash Bros.
Fūnk-é: It’s really cool. The thing that like surprised me the most about this game is just that it’s good. It’s like a good platform fighter with a lot of recognizable characters, and I’m enjoying it. It’s quite fun.
Nerium: The thing I’ve seen from this video game that I told merritt about, I think, like weeks ago from one of the early betas was that they really seem like they get this. And I’m curious if you agree with this Fūnk-é, but like the one example that I really loved was Tom and Jerry are one character like Duck Hunt from Smash.
Nerium: And when they fight, they’re always looking inwards at each other, and like it’s Tom taking out a big mallet and trying to hit Jerry, and then Jerry dodges, but then you hit the player behind Jerry as Jerry dodges.
Nerium: So they’re never attacking anybody but each other, which is very funny.
Fūnk-é: Yeah, it’s really tight. I was talking to you, I think, a little bit about this last week, but it reminds me of Nick Brawl, the game from last year.
Fūnk-é: Which, it felt like a prototype for this kind of game, for the Smash-like to platform fighter to be in the world. But that was very bare bones. They didn’t have any voice acting, didn’t have any skins at all. Like, no gallery. Whereas Warner Brothers’ Multiversus has everything. Like, this shit feels like a fully fledged game. All the mechanics, all of the gimmicks are actual like strategies that you can apply in the game, and I’ve been enjoying that as a fighting game stan.
Nerium: Doesn’t like Arya steal people’s faces? Like she’s a Mokujin character who can just steal other people’s moves and stuff?
Fūnk-é: [laughs] Yeah. She can steal Bugs Bunny’s face and then be Bugs bunny for a little bit.
merritt: Oh my God.
Fūnk-é: It’s quite fun.
merritt: Who’s making this?
Fūnk-é: Player First Games.
merritt: Is that an established studio, or do they– were they sort of like put together for this?
Fūnk-é: Under my understanding, it’s a fresh studio just for this game [merritt: “Mm”] of industry veterans.
merritt: That’s cool. Yeah. I mean, the platform fighter has become, I feel like, such a genre in the last like 10 years, but so few games have done it well. I mean, like, and also like the sort of multi IP approach isn’t really new either, [“Mm-mm”] because things like Brawlhalla have been around for a minute, but this one sounds like– it sounds like, oh, they’re really thinking about like how these characters would work. And as much as I sort of hate the slop of like just throwing a bunch of IPs together…
Fūnk-é: Every brand, yeah.
merritt: Yeah. It’s like, all right, well, if you’re gonna do it, this seems like maybe, you know, a good way to do that?
Fūnk-é: It shares a lot of DNA with Brawlhalla, actually.
Fūnk-é: Like in terms of stage setting and recoveries, which is really fascinating. When I was in the alpha in may, it was just me and a couple of like pro Brawlhalla players. [laughs]
merritt: Uh huh.
Fūnk-é: And they’re all like 12 or 13, and they are way too good at this game! It’s like, I couldn’t believe it. I fought the same guy who was playing Wonder Woman like 40 times in that alpha. [Nerium laughs]
merritt: Oh my God.
Fūnk-é: Just understands the game way too well. They should be banned. [merritt laughs]
Nerium: The Brawlhalla comparison is like really interesting to me too, ’cause like, a lot of people always– whenever one of these games gets announced, people are like, “They’re trying to come for Smash Brothers,” but like, no, this is like a genre at this point.
Nerium: And like Brawlhalla is free to play, and so it’s huge, [merritt: “Mm-hmm”] because it’s just, the barrier to entry is like nothing.
Fūnk-é: Yeah. I really recommend. We should square up sometimes soon, if y’all are free. [laughs]
merritt: Yeah. Yeah, I might be willing to give it a try. I, uh… [laughs softly] I’m not like great at Smash. I’m like okay. I’m good for like– ’cause I feel like there’s two skill tiers for Smash. There’s like playing with your friends, and then there’s like competitive play. I’m good in the former, and I am like terrible in the latter. So.
Fūnk-é: Mm-hmm. That’s very true. I think there’s also a middle tier there of like upper casual, where if all of your friends watch pro Smash and they they’re trying to learn some of these things like wave dashing and short hopping.
Fūnk-é: So they’re like a bit better, but we’re all still ass compared to like…
merritt: Oh, sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Fūnk-é: Mew2King or something. [merritt laughs]
Nerium: [laughs] Mew2King.
merritt: Yeah, you know, the king of Mewtwo. [laughter]
Nerium: I’m just picturing Mewtwo with a little crown.
Nerium: He’s so proud. [Fūnk-é laughs]
merritt: Yeah, Charles, what about you? What have you been playing?
Charles: Um, yes. I apologize for my quietness there. I’ve just been processing the…
merritt: It’s a lot to take in.
Charles: Multiversus goodness. [laughter]
Charles: The thing that came to mind for me, it’s not like recent recent, but I have picked Elden Ring back up.
Fūnk-é: Let’s go!
Charles: I feel like that’s really just… [laughs] The perfect answer for this question is that entire game, because you know so little at any given moment that I feel like it’s just a constant jump scare. The specific thing that happened to me is I had found this– it’s in the Siofra River Well.
Charles: It’s this like underground area, and there’s this giant gargoyle, and I was beating him up, and I was doing really well.
Fūnk-é: Uh huh?
Charles: I always do way better the first attempt than any other attempt.
Charles: And then I get him down to half health, and I’m doing pretty good. And then he’s got a brother that shows up.
Nerium: Uh huh.
Fūnk-é: Yeah. [laughs]
Charles: That’s not fair. Why were– I mean, and I’m upset for myself, right?
Charles: Because I’m fighting this. But I’m also upset for the gargoyle himself, [laughs] because his friend’s just been hiding out back there, [Nerium laughs] and he doesn’t come in until it starts to get like kinda hairy. Like, if it was two of them at the same time the whole time, I would stand no chance, but because this one guy just isn’t, you know, on site, then, you know. I never beat him, but.
Nerium: That’s every FromSoftware game.
Nerium: Every FromSoftware game has a fight where it’s like, here’s a guy who is just like, exists for you to fucking just kick his ass and then has a friend who’s just like, “Haha! I’m gonna look cool coming and in here and killing that fool.”
Fūnk-é: Yeah. Yep.
Charles: There’s another fight where it’s– I think it’s Misbegotten Warrior and a Crucible Knight.
Fūnk-é: [laughs] Oh no!
Nerium: Oh, Charles!
Charles: And I spent a very long time on that.
Charles: And then googled it…
merritt: Is that the one where the guy turns into a big ball and rolls around?
Fūnk-é: I don’t think so. I think that’s right before the festival.
Charles: Yeah. Well, so I–
Nerium: merritt, I think you skipped this fight.
merritt: Oh. Oh, okay. [laughter]
Fūnk-é: It’s skippable, yeah.
Charles: I spent so long on it and then googled it. This always happens to me. [laughs]
merritt: Uh huh.
Charles: I’ll get stuck and then google it, and they’ll be like, “Hey, you don’t have to do this one.” And I’m like, “Ugh, I didn’t want to! So, good!”
Nerium: This was a fight when we had this game pre-release, and me and Imran were playing it together and just going back and forth. Imran like DMed me and said like, “Fuck this fucking game! I’m done with this game! Like, this is actually maybe the worst game FromSoftware has ever made, [merritt: “Mm-hmm”] ’cause this fucking fight is just fucking unfair.” [laughs] And then like the minute he did that, mm five minutes later, messaged me like, “Okay, well, I did just beat them.” [laughter] But you can skip them. Depending on the order of story that you do things in in that game, those guys just don’t appear, ’cause Blaidd, [merritt: “Ohh”] the big wolf man will kill everybody in that castle ahead of you.
merritt: Oh, is that what happened with me?
Nerium: Mm-hmm. I think so.
Charles: Wait, everyone in the whole castle?
Nerium: Yeah, that whole castle is empty if you–
Charles: Oh my gosh.
merritt: Oh, wait. Wait, wait, wait. Oh, is that before the fight with, uh, what’s his name?
merritt: Yeah, and it was just empty for me?
merritt: Ah. [laughs]
Nerium: If you go– if you get there earlier, before like progressing that quest line more, [merritt: “Yeah”] you have to fight a Misbegotten Warrior, which is like the big lion men, [merritt: “Oh, right”] and then a Crucible Knight, which are like, there’s like six or seven Crucible Knights throughout the whole game.
Nerium: And they’re like some of the most annoying bosses.
Fūnk-é: I have not fought a single one. Those guys suck.
Nerium: Oh yeah, they’re fucking terrible.
Fūnk-é: [laughs] Yeah.
Nerium: They’re just like knights with like unlimited poise [Charles: “Yeah”] who kick the shit out of you. And then, halfway through the fight every single time, they just reveal like, by the way, I’m turning my arm into a big giant tentacle now, and I can hit you from across the map.
Nerium: Yeah. Also I have wings.
Nerium: Also I can fly. What’s up?
merritt: I don’t know if I fought any of them.
Nerium: Maybe not. Some of them are hidden.
merritt: I don’t remember fighting– ‘cause I was thinking– I thought you were talking about the tree knight guys.
Fūnk-é: Oh, Tree Sentinel? Yeah.
Nerium: Oh, Tree Sentinel. Yeah.
merritt: And those guys are easy.
Nerium: No, no. Crucible Knights are way worse. [laughs]
merritt: Yeah. Huh.
Nerium: There’s like, I think they’re all optional.
merritt: Is there one guarding the tree underground in the place where the man died? [laughter]
Nerium: Yes, there is.
merritt: I remember so little.
Nerium: There absolutely is.
merritt: I remember so little of this game.
Nerium: I know exactly what you’re talking about, and you’re right.
merritt: I think I killed that. Like she is like a named one, or no?
Nerium: Eh, might be, ’cause there’s like…there’s two different variants.
Nerium: Or there’s multiple variants. Some of them have the fire breath, some of them have the tail, and some of them have the shoulder charge with the horn.
Nerium: And then they drop different armor.
merritt: Yeah, this sounds vaguely– God, I miss playing– I miss FromSoft games. I’m gonna have to start playing Sekiro at some point.
Fūnk-é: [chanting quietly] Demon Souls! Demon Souls!
merritt: Or Demon Souls, but that’ll be a little harder.
Nerium: merritt dies twice! [laughter]
merritt: merritt dies a thousand times playing Sekiro. [Nerium laughs]
Charles: Sekiro is the only other FromSoft game I’ve played.
merritt: Oh, word?
Nerium: Oh, really?
Charles: And– well, it was the only one that interested me.
Charles: Because the other ones, I don’t know if it was just the lack of color. Like it was really just the thing of [merritt: “Mm,” Fūnk-é: “Yeah”] it just didn’t press the right buttons, and then…I got pretty far in Sekiro, but I’ve played more Elden Ring.
Fūnk-é: I quit Sekiro.
merritt: Now, Charles, I don’t know if you know this about me, but I was like a big anti-FromSoft advocate for a long time.
merritt: ‘Cause I was just like, “These games are bullshit. They’re just– everyone’s like, ‘Oh, they teach you.’ All they teach you is like the game’s patterns. It’s not like they give you any actual skills. They’re just like bullshit. People like them ’cause they’re hard.” And in 2020 and 2021, I played through Dark Souls 1 to 3 and Bloodborne on stream.
Charles: Mm, mm-hmm.
merritt: And I became like a huge convert, [laughs] and so I streamed Elden Ring like the day it came out, and uh…yeah, so I totally get like why you would look at those games and be like, “Oh, yeah, these aren’t really for me.”
Charles: Yeah. I know you now as merritt souls.
merritt: Right. [laughs]
Charles: As far as I know, that’s your last name.
Charles: merritt souls k.
merritt: That’s my secret last name. Yeah, but for a long time, it was not that way. I bounced off those games like a bunch of times.
merritt: I tried Bloodborne. I hated it. I tried Dark Souls 3. I beat the first boss on my first try, and I was like, “Oh, easy game,” and then got killed by, you know, variants of that guy, [Charles: “Mm”] of that blood dinosaur, like six different times. Yeah, no, it’s…but you’re, so, how many hours are you into Elden Ring now?
Charles: [thoughtful sigh] I think 42 was the last time I saved and exited.
merritt: Oh, wow.
Charles: I am… [laughs] The last thing that happened– another thing that surprised me in the game [merritt: “Mm-hmm”] is they’re like, “Go to the big elevator!”
Charles: And I made it to the big elevator, and it didn’t do anything! [merritt laughs] And then I google it, and it’s like, oh, you actually have to have both halves of the magic circle to get up.
merritt: They were like, “Oh, came here without the two halves of the magic circle, huh?”
merritt: “That must suck for you. [laughter] Better find those things. [laughs like NPC]”
Nerium: “Can’t use the elevator without your pizza.”
Charles: So, it’s…
merritt: I found that way to the magic elevator pretty early on and was like, wait, there’s another way though? There’s like a coward’s way or something? What if I just do that?
Nerium: There’s like five ways.
merritt: And you can just go up the mountain and just like fight ‘em. And I was like, wait, am I getting close to the end of the game or something? [laughs] And I wasn’t really, but I was at some bosses that were like way too high level for me, so I think Nere jumped in and helped me out with a couple of them.
Nerium: Yeah, and then we also encouraged you to find one of the other ways past that area, which is to fall down the big hole and get eaten.
merritt: Oh, yeah!
Charles: That sounds pretty mean.
merritt: Yeah, by…
Nerium: It’s fun. It’s fun.
merritt: By the monsters with the…
Fūnk-é: What is that called?
Nerium: Abductor Virgins.
Charles: What did you say?
merritt: Yeah, it’s weird.
Nerium: Abductor Virgins.
merritt: They’re like iron maidens. It’s like a play on iron maiden.
merritt: And yeah. Damn, I want to go back to Elden Ring now. [laughs]
Nerium: Yeah. I want to get more endings.
Nerium: I started my arcane run on PlayStation, and I never kept– I honestly got bored, because [merritt: “Mm”] Rivers of Blood is so fucking powerful. It’s so good.
Nerium: And they never nerfed it.
merritt: Yup! Once I started using that, I was like, wow, this is comically good at just killing everything. Okay.
Nerium: Like, you just attack and never stop.
merritt: Like, remember how many times I bounced off of Malenia before I tried that and then was like, “Oh, okay. Easy game.”
Nerium: Uh huh. [laughter] You spent like two or three weeks on Malenia.
merritt: And then just got Rivers of Blood and like specced into it and was just like, oh, okay.
Nerium: Uh huh.
Charles: What is Rivers of Blood?
Nerium: What isn’t Rivers of Blood?
merritt: It’s whatever you want it to be.
Charles: That’s a bad answer, merritt. [laughter]
merritt: It’s like a katana that has a special attack with like an absurd range that does bleed damage.
Nerium: Bleed damage and fire damage and magic damage.
merritt: And a lot of things are vulnerable to bleed and to those things. Some things aren’t, but like most of the things in the game are.
Fūnk-é: Bleed is so powerful.
merritt: And it comes out so quick and it hits such long range.
Nerium: And it combos.
merritt: And it combos.
Nerium: Like, you can just keep spamming.
merritt: It’s really silly. It’s ridiculous. I’m really surprised that they didn’t nerf it more, but.
Nerium: Charles, if you want access to Rivers of Blood, I can tell you how to get there.
Charles: Oh, sure.
merritt: So, when you get to the River of Blood, you’re gonna want to head on straight down… [laughter]
Nerium: I don’t mean on the podcast! I meant later!
merritt: You’re gonna head on straight down I-95.
Charles: Yeah, Nere, point me to your YouTube channel where you do all your… [laughs]
Nerium: Let’s go ???
merritt: Turn off at 24, and then you’re gonna want to keep going till the– yeah.
Nerium: [imitating YouTuber ad read] Hey, before we get to that part, I just want tell you about [bleep, laughter] and how they have the greatest new– if you need nutrients to take you between the Lands Between– haha!
Fūnk-é: Jordo, can you bleep that?
Nerium: [laughs] Yeah.
Charles: Bleep that.
Fūnk-é: They have to guess what brand Nerium was talking about
merritt: But yeah, Nere, what about you? What are you…you’ve been playing AI: The Somnium Files, the sequel, which I thought that game came out like last year. It turns out that, no, it came out in like 2019 or something?
Nerium: 2019 for AI: The Somnium Files. Now the sequel AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative.
merritt: Sure, yeah, that might as well be the sequel naming convention.
Nerium: I mean, yeah. The thing about it is it’s like– it’s even worse, too, if you see it like written out, because it is spelled “nirvana initiative,” but the first N is lowercase and then the last A is uppercase, and then the first I of initiative is uppercase. So it says AI again.
merritt: Oh my God.
Nerium: In nirvanaA Initiative.
Charles: Oh! You’ve explained it to me now, Nere.
Charles: I’ve seen it written so many times and been like, “That’s kind of dumb,” but gotcha.
Nerium: nirvanA Initiative.
merritt: Okay, guys. All right.
Nerium: The Artificial Intelligence, a great movie. And a great game about weird psychic detectives in a cyberpunk near future Japan, who are using like a big giant machine to enter people’s dreams and to figure out like what they’ve seen and what they know by basically doing psychotherapy on them to get them to overcome trauma and stuff like that, so that you can figure out like, Hey, why did this murder happen that you witnessed? And like you’re a 12 year old kid, but you had a really bad reaction to this, so I’m gonna like go into your brain and fix you. That’s something I could use.
Fūnk-é: Nere, what’s the gameplay like in that?
Nerium: It’s sort of– it’s like a mix of a visual novel– so, this is from the team that makes 999 and the Zero Escape games, if people are familiar with those. It’s pretty similar in that it’s like 70% visual novel, 30% puzzle game kind of like adventure. I would say probably the most surprising thing that happened to me while playing this game was watching, near the beginning of the game, doing the tutorial where a bunch of people are on a game show answering trivia questions, and then suddenly, half of a person’s body teleports into the middle of the room.
Fūnk-é: Nothing personal, kid. [merritt laughs]
Nerium: Yeah. Cut hot dog style, I guess?
Charles: I was gonna ask how– which half.
Fūnk-é: What do you mean hot dog style?
Nerium: So like, the– down the middle, starting at the top of the head, down the nose, all the way down. So like–
Fūnk-é: Oh, that sucks!
merritt: I used to like when you got a hot dog or whatever on the street, and they would cut like the…like they would make slices down the middle, [Nerium: “Yeah”] and so more of it would be exposed to…I actually don’t know what the point of that was.
Nerium: To the elements.
merritt: So it’s crispier?
Fūnk-é: Steam it out? Cook it faster?
merritt: So like the more of the surface area was crispy?
Nerium: More surface area? Yeah.
merritt: Yeah, possibly.
Charles: I got in my head that they would explode if you didn’t slice ’em open.
merritt: Oh, that’s possible too, yeah. [laughs]
Nerium: That also does happen. Yeah, yeah.
Charles: But I don’t know– I don’t think…does that actually happen, or am I just…
Fūnk-é: I believe it.
Nerium: Hot dogs explode if you like put them in the oven. Like, that’ll happen.
Charles: Maybe that’s what I was thinking of.
merritt: Yeah, that’s…yeah.
Nerium: They don’t explode, but they like pop, and the end gets nasty.
merritt: Yeah, they pop and fall apart and yeah.
Nerium: Yeah. Just like a human body in AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative. [laughter] This game is like…I mean, it’s already a weird game to begin with. It’s like full of AI puns and eye puns. The guy who is like the creative director on all these games has just like a very– somebody was like talking about him and like– I think it was like @MinovskyArticle on Twitter, which is a very good Twitter account for people to follow, cool guy with some interesting like insights into a bunch of obscure media.
Nerium: And he had said something like, “This man is like 55 years old and understands the internet better than like 90% of game developers working today.” [laughter]
merritt: Oh, wow.
Nerium: ‘Cause like, his sense of humor is just very, very, very out there and weird and like nonsensical sometimes. One of the pieces of DLC for this game is for your little eyeball character that lives inside of your head, ’cause this is–
merritt: Sure. Yeah, we all have that.
Nerium: Yeah, exactly. The AI-Ball.
merritt: Uh huh.
Charles: Really, is that–
merritt: Do they call it that?
Nerium: Yes, AI-Ball.
Fūnk-é: You didn’t just make that up just now?
Nerium: I didn’t make that up just now.
Nerium: There’s two of them in this one. There was one in the first game named Aiba.
Fūnk-é: [laughs] Aiba?
Nerium: There’s a new one named Tama in this one, ’cause there’s two playable characters, and they’re just like shitposting little fucking freaks who live inside of your hollowed out eye socket and like give you advice as detectives and make fun of you constantly. And one of the pieces of DLC for this game is a t-shirt for Aiba to wear that is just a picture of Aiba.
Nerium: So it’s Aiba wearing a picture of herself.
merritt: What are you talking– wait, how is it an– wait. [laughter] Okay.
Fūnk-é: So many questions.
merritt: So wait, it’s an eyeball?
Nerium: Yeah. It’s an AI. It’s like a little AI.
merritt: Does it have like a projection, like a person projection? It has a Cortana that lives in the eyeball in your head?
Nerium: Yes, and- there’s two versions of it.
Nerium: There’s the AI-Balls– so, the main characters in these games are always missing their left eye.
Nerium: And it’s usually for various reasons that are explained throughout the game. So, the little girl from the first game is now one of the new playable characters. Something has happened.
Nerium: I’ve not gotten far enough in yet to figure out why, but she lost her eye, and now Aiba lives inside of her eye, inside of her head instead of her adopted dad’s head.
merritt: Sure. [someone laughs quietly]
Nerium: The AI-Balls, when you enter Somnium, which is the dream world where you do the psychic detective work, [merritt: “Of course”] they have visual projections. So they look like people inside the virtual reality world.
Fūnk-é: That’s cool.
merritt: Ah, I see. Okay.
merritt: And that’s where they were a t-shirt, not as a orb.
Nerium: Yes. However…
merritt: [cautiously] Okay.
Nerium: They can also like independently pop out of these people’s eye sockets whenever they feel like it and start walking around, but they’re little jelly eyeballs, but the jelly is like Stretch Armstrong. It can like distend and like get a little body. So Aiba takes on the form of a tiny little gummy bear made of a giant, like, made out of an eyeball, [merritt: “Uh huh…”] with just like, where the vitreous humor equivalent is like little bear ears.
merritt: Hey, that sucks. I don’t like it. [laughter] I don’t like– I’m just gonna say right now, I don’t like it.
Nerium: The games are like the Zero Escape games.
merritt: I’m sure it’s a good game and everything.
Nerium: They’re great.
merritt: I don’t like that part of it.
Fūnk-é: Would you have to play the first one or does it like do a good job of being like, “Hey, this is everything you know.”
Nerium: [laughs] There’s a whole thing in the tutorial of this game actually, where like a character basically just like turns to the camera mid sentence and just says like, “Hey, we’re trying to ask you if you played the first game or not.” [laughs]
merritt: Oh no.
Nerium: “Can you– listen, you don’t have to have played AI: The Somnium Files to understand what’s going on in this game, but if you answer this question, ‘Did you play the first game or not?’ we won’t spoil the first game, so you can go back and play that one out of order if you want.”
merritt: Oh, interesting.
Nerium: But if you say that you did, we won’t do that.
Nerium: We won’t go out of order.
merritt: That makes sense.
Nerium: And then it’s like, the main character’s like, “What are you talking about? Like, why are you asking me these questions? What is AI: The Somnium Files?” [laughter]
merritt: Uh huh.
Nerium: “What is this?” And it’s like, “Don’t worry about it!”
merritt: That’s fun.
Charles: I have a question about this game.
Charles: So, Aiba sounds like eyeball.
Charles: Which I get. The other one is Tama?
Nerium: Tama, yeah.
Charles: What is the joke there?
Nerium: I don’t know.
Charles: Is it just a name?
Nerium: Is it a…tama equals friend?
merritt: It’s a Japanese thing, yeah.
Charles: Okay, so you…
merritt: It’s like a mitama, like a spirit.
Charles: Okay. Okay. That’s…yeah.
merritt: And I think tama is just like orb or something.
Nerium: Oh, maybe. Here’s the little eyeball gummy bear for you. I just figured I would drop this so y’all know what I’m talking about. Tama is more of like a bunny, I think?
merritt: No, that sucks.
Fūnk-é: Oh my God. [laughter]
merritt: No, it’s bad. I don’t like it.
Fūnk-é: I was like kind of happy for a second that we were getting a visual, and now…
merritt: I hate it. Everyone at home, please look it up. Please look up “Aiba AI Somnium Files” to know why I don’t like it.
Charles: I played like 20 minutes of this game. I forgot that there was like the spinal cord up in there. That’s kind of gross. That’s the only part I dislike.
merritt: It’s not great. It’s not…it’s not ideal.
Fūnk-é: Uh huh.
merritt: Is how I would describe it. Um, that’s cool, aside from that part. That…ah, man. [laughter]
Nerium: There’s also a guy who walks around who’s like the…the game is just, ugh. I’m trying to get through it and see where it all comes through. There’s a character who is like the owner of a diner who is like a nine foot tall Frankenstein-looking guy who wears like a Five Nights at Freddy’s-looking like happy bear mask, and everybody just talks to him like he’s a normal guy. And it’s like, “Hey, what’s up?” and he’s like, “Hey guys, how you doing?”
Nerium: [laughs] And he just has like a normal voice, and somebody asks, “Oh, hey, why does he wear that mask?” It’s like, oh, because, uh, his face is supposed to be scarred or something like that. And they’re like, “Oh, okay, cool.”
merritt: Yeah, he’s Dr. Doom.
Nerium: He’s just Dr. Doom. It’s just Dr. Doom runs a diner in this world for whatever reason.
Nerium: The games are just like completely bizarre.
merritt: Dr. Doom’s diner.
Nerium: But the mysteries are genuinely interesting. In this one, you’re trying to solve the half body serial killings, and it’s cool. Yeah.
merritt: Nice. Well, here’s the trick is what they did, is the killer has a portal to a garden pocket dimension, and he opens the door on the train, and then when you’re halfway through, he closes it, [laughter] and so you get cut in half and…
Nerium: Ohh. Well.
merritt: I learned that from the first season of The Adventure Time. Adventure Zone, sorry.
Charles: [laughs] The Adventure Time.
merritt: It’s The Adventure Time.
Nerium: [laughs] You’ve solved my Jake the Dog puzzle.
merritt: [laughs] Ah. Speaking of hot dogs, I’m playing a game with horses in it, and…
Nerium: What are your hot dogs made of? No!
Charles: Mm-mm, mm-mm.
merritt: I mean, I don’t eat hot dogs, but you know.
Nerium: You could have a vegetarian hot dog.
Fūnk-é: Are you implying–
merritt: You should know what they are made of.
Charles: It would be hot horse if it had horse in it.
merritt: So wait, are you implying that there’s dog in it? That’s worse.
Nerium: That is way worse than any possibility.
Charles: I didn’t say that. I just said if there was horse in it, it would be called hot horse.
merritt: Well, regardless, I have been playing the remake of…actually, no. First of all, how do you say the name of the Square RPG that just came out again on the Switch that was never really–
Nerium: Live alive.
Fūnk-é: I was saying liv alive.
Charles: I was also saying liv alive.
Fūnk-é: Liv a liv.
merritt: I used to say “liv a liv,” and I don’t actually know what it’s supposed to be. I don’t know if we’ll ever know. But I tried to play this game a few times on the Super Nintendo, because there was a fan translation a few years ago, and I never really got that far. I always kind of got stuck. But I’ve been playing through the Switch one. I’ve finished one of the stories, ’cause it’s set up in like, there’s like these seven—well, eight actually, but—seven different like time periods where you play as different characters, and like the gameplay is totally different across them.
merritt: I mean, not totally different. There’s like, you know, it always has the same basic battle system, but there’s, you know, there’s one mode. There’s one thing where you’re a robot in the far future, and there’s no combat at all. There’s one where you’re a ninja, and it’s like stealth based. There’s one where you’re a caveman kid, and there’s no dialogue at all, and there’s like a crafting system where you can combine like sticks and rocks to make weapons.
merritt: So I did the wild west one first, and in that one there actually isn’t that much combat, but the bulk of it is like you’re setting up traps for this ambush for this gang that’s coming into town.
merritt: And so you have to like gather equipment and then like have people set up traps and stuff, and it’s cool. Yeah, it was really neat. It’s almost fully voiced, which is surprising.
Nerium: Oh, wow.
merritt: I didn’t think it would be voiced at all, but pretty decent voice acting. And the 2D/3D I think is like an acquired taste, but I’m starting to warm to it. But the moment that was cool for me was, you know, they have these tool tips that are like, oh yeah, like you can run from battles except for ones that are like really important to the plot, right? And so the plot of the Western one is you’re basically playing this outlaw named the Sundown Kid who is being pursued by this bounty hunter named Mad Dog. [laughs] And you both come into town, and then you sort of make a temporary truce to help the townspeople fight off this gang. And then, you know, after you beat the boss and everything, Mad Dog’s like, “All right, well, you know, like, that was real nice and all, but I’m still collecting the bounty on your head.” And I was like, oh, okay, sure. And so it goes into the battle thing, and I’m like, “Huh, I can run from this fight. Okay.” [laughs] And I just like hit flee, and like, it’s just like, it ends the battle, and Mad Dog’s just like. “All right. I’ll be seeing ya, kid,” and basically just like gives you a head start to leave.
merritt: And then like the chapter ends and there’s like the credits and everything, and it’s like, oh, okay, cool. And then, but then there’s like an encounter where he like chases– like after the credits or like midway through, where he like finds you running through the desert and like catches up to you and is like, “All right, like now we’re gonna finally end this thing,” and then you fight him again, and you basically just like scare off his horse and just leave, and he’s just like, “God damnit!” Like, “Get back here!” [laughter] But it was really cool, ’cause it was like, wow, you can just like not do what seems like the boss fight.
Fūnk-é: Yeah, something you have to do. That sounds fun.
merritt: Right. And I looked it up and like, if you do that duel, you just kill him.
merritt: Like, and then you just leave.
Nerium: So wait, the stuff later just never happens then?
merritt: That little, yeah, that little like extra scene later never happens. And it seems like there’s like a lot of that stuff in this game, which is really cool.
merritt: So yeah, I’m enjoying it. And that game, I sort of know how it plays out with like the later chapters and the ending and everything, and it gets real wild, and I’m pretty excited to see that for the first time. So.
Nerium: Huh. This is like, this is the talking point that everybody brings up about this game, but like, just for people who maybe don’t know…
Nerium: This is like one of the like chief inspirations for Undertale and things like that and Chrono Trigger as well, I think.
merritt: Yeah, so it was…
Fūnk-é: I had no idea.
merritt: I think it was the first game that, yeah, it was the directorial debut of Takashi Tokita, who was also the director of Chrono Trigger and Parasite Eve.
Nerium: Oh, wow!
merritt: And so basically it’s just like seven different short stories that you play through using the like RPG format as just like the format for like telling the story. It didn’t do well at all when it was first released, even in like– well, it only was released in Japan, and it did very poorly, but it’s cool that Square rereleased it, and like, not just like with the translation but did this whole remake. And kind of hope that they’ll do more of those, ’cause there are a bunch of Super Famicom JRPGs that are really cool that never got Western releases. And I actually wrote a piece today about some of them that have fan translations. So there’s games like Treasure of the Rudras, which has a whole magic system where you like write spells using syllables.
merritt: Yeah, some really cool stuff, but because JRPGs weren’t like huge in the West in the, you know, early to mid nineties, they didn’t– I feel like they didn’t really pop off. I mean, you know, people were playing the Final Fantasy games on the Super Nintendo, but it wasn’t really until like the PlayStation that they really, really took off here.
Nerium: Yeah. VII was such a watershed moment.
merritt: So there’s a lot of games that still haven’t gotten official Western releases, and hopefully if this does well, then yeah, more will.
Nerium: It’s not quite the same thing, but they did, I think like just literally this morning announce that they’re like doing a re-release of Tactics Ogre.
merritt: Oh, cool. The Super Nintendo one?
Nerium: I can’t remember. This feels like something Jordan in chat might know, but Tactics Ogre: Reborn. Okay.
Nerium: Let Us Cling Together. Oh, this was from 2010 actually, this one of it. So I think it was a PSP game at the time, but they are bringing like back– Square is dipping into its catalog of stuff a little bit more.
Nerium: Which is interesting.
merritt: They’re running out of Final Fantasy games to remake, so they have to do other stuff now. [laughter]
merritt: But you know what?
Nerium: Bring back Einhänder!
merritt: That’s fine by me, because between Square and Enix, God, they have such an incredible– Enix in particular, so many great nineties games that like just never really got their due.
Charles: Wait, wait, wait, wait. Are these– is Square and Enix two separate things? Like, used to be?
merritt: They used to be. Yeah, so, in the nineties–
merritt: In the nineties, Enix Corporation was SquareSoft’s main rival.
Charles: Oh my gosh.
merritt: And then I think it was mid to late 2000s? No, it was 2003, when Square and Enix merged. So.
Nerium: Yeah, ’cause of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.
Charles: That’s honestly the wild– that’s like if you told me there was like two companies that used to be called like Ninetygames and TendoSoft. [laughs]
Charles: And they combined and made Nintendo or something like that.
merritt: No, it’s weird, right?
Charles: Wow. Yeah.
merritt: No, Enix had, yeah, some really…some really huge hits.
Nerium: Charles, there was– the SquareSoft, back when they were just SquareSoft, [Charles: “Yeah”] was like really high on their own supply after like the success of Final Fantasy VII and VIII and IX and a bunch of other stuff. And they were like, “We’re gonna waylay this into being like a multimedia empire.”
Nerium: So they spent like millions and millions of millions of dollars creating a movie studio in Hawaii to do…they created their own virtual actress that they were like saying like, this girl is–
merritt: She’s gonna be in ads. She’s gonna be in other movies.
Fūnk-é: I didn’t know about all this.
Nerium: Oh yeah. They did a thing where it’s like, “Here’s our proof of concept,” and they did a– yeah, “Hatsune Miku before Hatsune Miku,” says Jordan. That’s kind of what she was.
Nerium: And they put out a short for the Matrix sequels, the 3d animated thing that played before Matrix: Reloaded. And then they put out a movie called Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, which was fucking terrible and tanked horribly. [laughs]
Nerium: And they were like, immediately like, “Oh God, we’ve just wasted like hundreds of millions of dollars on all this stuff,” and they like almost went bankrupt, and they were like, “Well, let’s merge with Enix,” and that’s what happened.
Charles: This has been a really– my most surprising moment in games this week was that just now. [laughter]
merritt: Cool. Yeah. Anyway, yeah, great.
Fūnk-é: What are you playing on, merritt?
merritt: Playing Live A Live? I think it’s only on the Switch? Or is it on Steam too? It’s only Switch.
Charles: I also think that.
merritt: It is only Switch, yes. But for me, it is one of the– it’s a perfect game for the Switch, because each of the little stories is like, you know, hour, two hours each.
merritt: So yeah, very cool. Also, the tutorial messages are written in the style of the period. So like, the prehistoric ones are just like, if you– or like, even like the item descriptions and like the attack descriptions, it’s like, you hover over like the attack called Bonk, and it’s like, “Hurt bad.” [laughter] Or like, there’s like an attack called like Yell and it’s like, “Hurt many bad good.”
merritt: So, yeah, it’s a fun game, and if you like JRPGs, you should check it out.
Nerium: I am going to do this now. I had no idea about a lot of this.
merritt: You should. Yeah, let’s take a break, and we will be back after this.
merritt: Hey, I know we said we were doing an ad break. We are doing a manner of speaking an ad, in a manner of speaking. We’re advertising ourselves, ’cause you know, you gotta big up yourself.
merritt: ‘Cause no one else is gonna do it for you. So, why don’t we just, let’s hit our soces. Soces, it’s a new thing that I’m trying where I call social media accounts soces.
Nerium: Uh huh.
Fūnk-é: It’s already trending.
Charles: It’ll catch on.
merritt: Yeah, I think it will catch on. And Charles, what’s your…you on Twitter? You on Insta?
Charles: Yeah, my soce. I’m on everything as chuckduck365, as in throwing a duck 365.
merritt: Every day of the year.
Charles: Every day of the year. [laughter]
Fūnk-é: Never stops.
Charles: Except February 29.
merritt: Except February 29, yeah. You do take a day off every four years. Fūnk-é, what about you?
Fūnk-é: I’m on Twitter and Twitch at funkefly. F-U-N-K-E-F-L-Y. I’m going to not ever stream regularly, I think, but I’m gonna pop in whenever, so tap in. I’m bad with schedules, I think, is my thing.
merritt: Yeah. Schedules are tough. Nere?
Nerium: Hi, you can find me on Twitter at @neriumstrom.
merritt: Hell yeah. I am on Twitter at @merrittk. Our producer Jordan is @jordan_mallory and at cohost.org/jordo.
Nerium: Oh jeez. We’re giving out cohosts now?
merritt: We’re giving out cohosts now. And Fanbyte is @fanbytemedia, and of course the website is Fanbyte.com. If you want to join our Discord, that’s over at fanbyte.casa. And let’s get back to the show.
merritt: All right, and we are back. Let’s just have a quick live games check in, because I know we all play…we all play some live games from time to time, and we used to do a show called Numbers Go Up, and…was it, wait, what was the sequence? Did it evolve into EDZ or from?
Nerium: Oh, from. Definitely from.
merritt: Okay, the show started as Good Morning EDZ, which was a Destiny-focused show, and it evolved into a live games show called Numbers Go Up. So this is sort of–
Nerium: ‘Cause we launched a Destiny show during the worst season in Destiny history. [laughs]
merritt: Yeah, which– when was that? Was that chosen– or not chosen. Worthy?
Nerium: Worthy, yeah.
merritt: Oh boy, that was a bad time to be a Destiny player or conkent– content. conkent? content creator.
Nerium: Conkent ???
merritt: But yeah, let’s just have a, let’s have a quick…maybe some quick hits about what is new and exciting in the world of these games that maybe some people, you know, are playing or haven’t played in a while but are curious about. Like, one example for me– actually two examples, that Fūnk-é and Nere, I know you are playing, are Fall Guys and No Man’s Sky respectively, because those are both games that I haven’t played in like over a year. Fūnk-é, what’s up in Fall Guys?
Fūnk-é: It’s fun as hell! Fall Guys is really fun! [laughter]
merritt: Have they added like more mini games and like…like, what’s going on with it?
Nerium: More guys.
merritt: More guys? More lil beans?
Fūnk-é: Yeah. More guys are falling. That was the latest patch. [laughter]
Fūnk-é: Nah, but it’s been pretty cool to see like them slowly update over the…I guess it’s been two years since that game originally released?
Fūnk-é: I think so.
merritt: Yeah, it was…
Fūnk-é: It was like in the pandemic.
Charles: Yeah, yeah.
merritt: It was 2020, yep.
Fūnk-é: Yeah, which is shocking to think about, but yeah, it’s real. But they keep adding different like things for each season, and it’s become a game where– I think when I originally played, I was pretty bored after a few rounds, but now like once a week I just get a bunch of my friends. We get a custom lobby going, like 10 or 11 of us, and we just fall. [laughs] It’s a pretty joyous occasion. It’s not too different from it was at launch, but I think there’s some quality of life changes. There’s a bunch more costumes, and they seem to have gotten onto the whole Battle Pass train. ‘Cause I don’t know if y’all have played Fortnite recently, but whenever you–
merritt: I was playing literally before we started recording today.
Fūnk-é: Yeah. Well, you know when you like…when you win a game or something, and then the screen is just like brrrrrrch, number, number, number, number.
merritt: All the numbers going up.
Fūnk-é: Screen, screen, award, award, award.
merritt: Oh my God, yeah.
Fūnk-é: Shiny, shiny thing. Your chest. Did you open it? Did you open it? Fall Guys is feeling like that now, which before it wasn’t, it was pretty barren.
merritt: Yeah, it was like one bar.
Fūnk-é: But yeah, they put Among Us in Fall Guys.
Charles: [laughs] Yeah.
merritt: Wait, sorry, what?
Fūnk-é: They put Among Us in Fall Guys.
merritt: What does that mean?
Fūnk-é: They put Among Us in Fall Guys. [Charles laughs]
merritt: Wait, so the characters or the…
Charles: What else could that mean?
Fūnk-é: The characters. So, you can play as a crewmate.
merritt: But it’s like a bean dressed as a crewmate?
Fūnk-é: Yeah. I mean, it’s shaped– it’s pretty well sculpted to look like just a crewmate, to be honest.
Charles: Do they have arms?
Fūnk-é: They do have arms, but they’re floating. They’re kinda like Rayman-like, Rayman-esque.
Charles: Okay, okay.
Fūnk-é: But yeah, it’s really fun to play that game. [laughs] Nerium sent a photo of it, but yeah, look up Among Us Fall Guys. It’s real. I’m not pulling your leg.
merritt: That’s so wild, ’cause those games were like the two…like they both came out in like 2020. They’re both about just like little guys running around.
Fūnk-é: They are! The originals.
merritt: Wait, so wait, is it an official crossover or did they just– were they like, “Ah, we’ll take this.”
Fūnk-é: Nah, they’re not Fortnite. This is official.
merritt: Okay. That’s nice. That’s good. ‘Cause Fortnite, when I logged in today, I was like, oh yeah, that is definitely just Bendy and the Ink Machine. They just didn’t pay for that.
merritt: They just took it.
Fūnk-é: But yeah, to close up like the Fall Guys on the scene reporting.
Fūnk-é: I think it’s a fun game. I don’t think I would play it every single day, but I think once a week or every couple weeks, just checking back in, falling a couple times, trying to get that crown? It’s fun. It’s still fun.
merritt: Cool, yeah. I don’t…
Nerium: I had a good time playing it for the first time.
merritt: When was that?
Nerium: On last Friday with Fūnk-é and Niki, actually.
merritt: Oh, nice. Yeah, I haven’t played it basically since the like pre-release, I feel like? Like I played a bunch of games then. I remember playing this game at E3 and being like, [unimpressed] “Eh, yeah, it was cool. It was pretty cool.”
Nerium: Remember that booth! I remember them being like…
merritt: “I’m sure it’ll be neat, I guess.” Yeah, it was in like a trailer that they had like set up with like gym equipment and stuff.
merritt: Like pads and things. It was kind of neat. And at the time, I was like, “Oh yeah, this is cool. I bet it’ll do okay.” [laughter]
merritt: And now there’s like a dozen different clones of it on Steam.
Fūnk-é: There’s so many.
merritt: [sighs] Well, Nere, how about No Man’s Sky? Because this game…it’s unfathomable to me.
Nerium: What’s unfathomable about it, merritt? I want to know. I want to know what you don’t understand.
merritt: Oh, jeez. I mean, I started– I tried to play No Man’s Sky I want to say like a little over a year ago?
merritt: Maybe longer. I feel like we played it together briefly.
merritt: And I was like just setting up a little base, and I was just like figuring things out, and I made a really funny looking little toad character with big bulging eyeballs [Nerium laughs] that I really liked. That game really lets you play like a really weird little freak, and it’s very cool.
Nerium: Oh, they’ve just added more and more little freaks and ways to make yourself freaky.
merritt: Oh my God. And there’s like, they posted like a screenshot or like just a pic of like all of the updates that that game has received since release.
merritt: That game came out in like 2015, 2016?
Nerium: 2016, yeah.
merritt: 2016. And it’s like, there’s like been like 20 different updates to it or something wild. And like, they’re like, oh yeah, no.
Nerium: This is the 20th named update, yeah.
merritt: We have, uh…yeah, no, we got capital ships. We got freighters. We got living ships. We got little buddies. We got all kind– and I’m like, what are you talking about? Like, somehow this game became Elite Dangerous. [Nerium laughs] Like, somehow became those like, those huge Kickstarter games that just will never deliver on their promises.
merritt: That people have sunk like thousands of dollars into to get ships. Somehow, while no one was watching—well, some people were watching—No Man’s Sky just became that.
merritt: And it’s just this gigantic like open world experience now.
merritt: Like, how would you even…like if I wanted to start playing today, would I…is there a good on ramp for that?
Nerium: There absolutely is, actually. I actually wrote a piece about this quite a while ago now, ’cause this wasn’t even like the most recent expedition, it was like two or three or four ago. They do these live event type things now called expeditions, where you basically, they have like these little discrete stories that run for six weeks, and you can start a new save on those expeditions, and those expeditions like have their own like little self-contained plot and their own self-contained, like…
Nerium: Instead of doing the normal thing of like you wake up on a planet and your ship is broken and you have to fix it, and you have to get off the planet, and you have to meet Atlas and meet the space anomaly.
Nerium: Skips all that stuff in the early game and replaces it with some new original story that has its own unique upgrade path and a bunch of other stuff. And by the end, you end up with like a ton of good shit just by playing through this story, like a really good ship or a really good freighter or great guns or something like that, and then you unlock a bunch of rewards that are allowed on every other save.
Nerium: And then after that expedition is over, that expedition save converts into a normal save, and you could just play No Man’s Sky as if you had just played through the tutorial and were jumping into it for the first time. But you start with a bunch of– you know, like a huge head start and some unique stuff like pets and whatnot.
Nerium: The last expedition they did, you could get like a… [laughs] See, this is a big, like, I remember having this conversation with you the other day, ’cause this update, the 20th one they’ve done is endurance. Honestly, kind of one of their more lowkey expansions in the grand scheme of things.
Nerium: It’s a pretty heavy rework and overhaul of freighters, which are like the capital ships in the game. And I remember you being like “[scoffs] My God, they’ve added freighters to the game? or they’ve added capital ships?” and it was like, “merritt, they added capital ships to this game like 17 expansions ago.” [merritt and Nerium laugh] This just like overhauls it, so you can– people have been comparing it to like Star Trek, because you can have like an engineering deck and an agriculture deck and a bunch of other stuff on your freighter as you move around, as your like little mobile capital, your little base that goes from the stars back and forth. And there’s going to be an expedition that goes with this, probably launching tomorrow, I think? where it is all about like, no, your ship does not have a hyper drive on it. You have to move through space on your big capital ship, and that’s pretty cool.
Nerium: It’s a pretty cool setup in general. The last one was all about like…the last one was like the really wild one, I think, of the expeditions that I really went hard on most recently, ’cause it was about– it forced you into survival mode, which is like way harder. You die. You can like die from fall damage in like one instance of fall damage, if you’re not careful.
Fūnk-é: Oh no.
Nerium: And it was a roguelike, so if you died, you just restarted at the beginning of the whole campaign.
Fūnk-é: That does not sound fun to me.
Nerium: It was, though!
Fūnk-é: That was fun?
Nerium: You’re like stuck in– your character’s stuck in a time loop, and there’s these characters Nada and Polo who are these like just two little weirdos who live on the space anomaly, which is kind of like the multiplayer hub for No Man’s Sky these days. And they are like, well, we live outside of space and time, so we can see that you are stuck in a time loop, so we know that you’re like that. So every time you talk to them and complete quests for them, that stuff would stay in place every time you died. So every– all you had to do was get back off the planet again and go talk to Nada and Polo, and they’d be like, [merritt: “Mm”] “Listen, we got you. Here’s a bunch of free loot, because you did this quest in a previous lifetime.” And it was all tied to like a Star Trek 4 style space whale that you’re trying to like communicate with this psychic squid in space and find it and track it down and not die in the process. And at the end, you got a space whale leviathan to be like, to enter your capital ship fleet.
Nerium: And now they’ve just added those to the game as like a thing anybody can get and level up, and you feed them like food that you cook, and they evolve and bring back new materials to like stick an antenna on your living ship that you can get.
merritt: Oh my God.
Nerium: It’s just wild.
merritt: Yeah, that’s…
Fūnk-é: Yeah, the way you describe these expeditions sounds really fascinating. I think I stopped playing No Man’s Sky because of the…it got too grindy into like resource management, which is not my cup of tea in games.
merritt: Mm, yeah.
Fūnk-é: But when you described that some of the expeditions just give you all the stuff you need and task you with, like, “Hey, check out this specific situation.”
Fūnk-é: Like, they have a story attached to it? That’s the shit that may draw me in. Or if not draw me in, like let me be more excited to watch a stream of it.
Nerium: For sure.
Fūnk-é: Or like check that stuff out.
merritt: Totally, totally.
Nerium: There’s like a whole expedition where it was like you were being hunted by a cult that were– like, they had added sand worms to the game, ’cause that was like a big thing that was in some of the early original No Man’s Sky trailer.
merritt: Right, yeah.
Nerium: Yeah. So like, and then there was like, they existed, but they were like not really a big thing, and people– they were very rare, so people couldn’t find them. They did an entire expansion where it was like, “Listen, we’re just gonna really [merritt laughs] put sand worms all over the fucking place now.” People want the sand worms. Dune had just come out.
merritt: [voice] Everywhere I go, people say to me, “Where’s the sand worms?” [Nerium laughs] Look, buddy. Here, I’ll give you the sand worms. Look, take ‘em. I don’t know who this character is that this… [laughter]
Charles: It’s the sand worm farmer.
Fūnk-é: It’s the Italian sand worm farmer. [laughter]
Nerium: Yeah. He’s on the– [voice] you gotta cut the sand worm down the middle, just like a hot dog. It makes it all better.
merritt: Mm, otherwise it’ll burst when you put it in the oven.
Nerium: Otherwise it explodes.
Nerium: But you were like, you were being hunted by like a sand warm worshiping cult for one of these expeditions.
Nerium: And you were like fighting back against them, as you like searched for more sand worms across this space.
merritt: How do they…like, who’s funding No Man’s Sky? [laughter] is my question. Where is this coming from? How is this possible?
Nerium: It’s wild!
Charles: Is it free to play? Or is it…
merritt: No, it’s like a retail release, but these updates are free.
Nerium: These updates are free, and there’s no microtransactions in the game whatsoever. They’ve never added– like, it’s the base game and nothing else.
merritt: How is this possibly sustainable?
Fūnk-é: That is a great question.
merritt: Like, what dark magics have they wrought to be able to do this?
Nerium: My…I’ve got two things that I guess on it. Yeah, well, three things, I guess, ’cause Jordan points out it’s a very small team. One thing is, yeah, like 12 people work at Hello Games or something just absolutely bonkers.
merritt: Oh, okay, so their costs are lower.
Nerium: Pretty low.
merritt: Okay. Mm-hmm.
Nerium: And also every time they put out one of these expansions, they put it on sale for half off on all platforms, basically.
Nerium: And you always see whenever they put those sales out, like it’s still in the top 10 on Steam.
merritt: Oh, wow.
Nerium: Like, it always leaps right up.
Nerium: They also– it’s on Game Pass now, so I imagine Microsoft cut them a check for at least something.
merritt: Oh, sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Damn. You love to see it, you know?
Nerium: I do.
merritt: What a– like, ’cause this game was so maligned when it was released, because they sort of like wrote a check that they couldn’t really cash.
Nerium: Yeah. And then Sony really hung them out to dry on it, too.
merritt: Yeah. And they were just like, “Nah, we’re just like not gonna quit.” It’s truly, truly a game that will not quit.
Nerium: Yeah. Jordan also points out like, their– I think the game wasn’t even out yet, and like halfway through development of this game, their studio—in London, I think, or Cambridge or someplace—flooded, and they lost like a ton of their computers and like a lot of their tech.
merritt: Oh my god.
Nerium: And like some of the data was backed up, but like most of their equipment was gone. That was like a huge thing, yeah. They’ve been through– they’ve really been through it.
Nerium: And like, this is a success story…not unlike any other, ’cause I think like Final Fantasy really did that, but Final Fantasy had the backing of like Square Enix behind it, you know?
merritt: Right, right.
Nerium: This is just, yeah.
Fūnk-é: Both Square and Enix.
merritt: Both of ‘em.
Nerium: Both of them!
Charles: Yeah. Both parents.
Nerium: [laughs] They had that Final Fantasy Spirits Within money, you know? But it’s a great game. I’m excited for this new– the new expedition hasn’t started yet, but it should probably be live tomorrow, and I’ve been messing around with it. I’ve been working on getting my living ship in the meantime, which is just like, you hatch an egg and you have to go across the galaxy collecting weird materials and like building it a brain, and then you have to like stick it all together at the end. It takes a really long time, but at the end you get a big, horrible-looking flying egg with like feelers and antenna and stuff that you fly around in. It’s great.
merritt: That rules.
Fūnk-é: Aiba’s cousin.
Nerium: Aiba’s cousin! [laughter]
merritt: [sighs] Charles, what about you? You started playing Genshin Impact. Is that right?
Charles: Yes, I…
Charles: I’ve…whoa. [laughs] I’ve kind of been trying to dip into live games now, just for writing purposes at Fanbyte. It’s not usually my type of thing, so. Yeah, the thing…Fūnk-é briefly talked about it, and I mentioned it when I was talking to Jordan before the show started. It’s interesting to me, because I feel like you start and it’s so overwhelming. They like throw all this stuff at you.
Charles: Like casino-style almost, of like, “You got this! and you got this!”
Charles: “And welcome, first time player!” And I think it’s like intending to be like, wow, doesn’t this feel good to unlock stuff? And actually for me, it’s almost like offputting, ’cause I’m like, I don’t know. I don’t know what to do with all this. And in Genshin Impact, there’s like five different kinds of currency and yeah. But I…and I think I understand it better than I used to, where it’s not as much about the immediate satisfaction of gameplay as it is this is just a part of your routine now. You’re gonna play this game every day for the rest of your life.
Charles: And so I was kind of–
merritt: Normal, good, healthy, you know. [laughter]
Nerium: Mm-hmm. merritt, what–
Charles: I was kind of just–
Nerium: You have feelings about that? [merritt laughs quietly]
Charles: Yeah, you go ahead, Nere.
Nerium: Oh, no, I was just making fun of merritt. [laughs]
Fūnk-é: Like you have a skincare routine. You need like a daily routine, you know, log into that game.
Fūnk-é: Do your chores.
merritt: Yeah, do your dailies.
Charles: Yeah, then eat breakfast.
Charles: Yeah, but it’s…but it’s it’s made me feel better about the way the game was going, ’cause I was mad ’cause it was like, “Here’s the next story mission,” and I kind of wanted to just steam through to get [merritt: “Mm”] up to date so I could do the most recent stuff, but you can’t play this story mission until your adventure rank is high enough. And in order to get your adventure rank up, [Nerium: “Yeah”] you gotta do the side quests. So then I was like, well, I didn’t need to get my, you know, gliding license, but if that’s the only way I can progress the main story, then it might as well be a required thing.
Charles: Which is interesting.
Fūnk-é: Are you enjoying your time in this game?
Charles: You know… [laughter] I don’t know. I really don’t know. I think there’s a version of me that could get into it, but it’s really like, I think I have to grow into it, and I have not yet. And I don’t think I can’t, but– I guess the other thing about it that I was surprised by is, in terms of the money of it all, it’s never really like shoved down my throat, “You gotta spend money on this game.”
Charles: But it has thrown many, many inconveniences in my way.
Charles: So it’s never saying like, here’s a flash– it’s not like a free, you know, app on like, you know, 2013 app store. It’s specifically like, “Wow, this sure is really, really boring, huh? It’s really hard to beat all these guys. You could grind for three hours, or you could just spend, [Fūnk-é: “Mm-hmm”] you know, 20 bucks and spin the wheel three times and see if you get, you know, the new magic lightning boy.”
Charles: So, yeah.
Nerium: It was one of the things that really, I got back into it later, and eventually it did click for me, and I think that there’s just also a very gacha game thing of like a pity system.
Nerium: Like where if you don’t play a game for very long, they will eventually just like, “Oh, okay. Your first pull after you’ve been gone for six months is just gonna be the new five star character, ’cause we gotta get you invested.”
Nerium: “’Cause we want you to pull more.” And I remember– but when the game first came out and everybody was talking about how awesome it was, and it was like, one of the things that really pushed me off was…the wind boy, I forget what his name is, but one of the wind boys early on was like the first five star character, and he just had an ability where he could just leap up into the air and fly around like better than anybody else.
Nerium: And I was like, people are talking about how fun it is to just like launch themselves up into the air with wind and then like glide wherever they want, but I don’t have that guy.
Nerium: And I don’t…
Nerium: And I can’t get him, ‘cause that event, that banner is over, and now it’s a fucking fire lady instead, and she’s good, but she doesn’t have that.
merritt: Mm-hmm .
Charles: Yeah. And even then, it’s not– like, you can’t just buy fire lady.
Charles: You gotta hope you get fire lady, so it’s…
merritt: Yeah, I can’t do the gacha stuff. For me, that’s just like…
Fūnk-é: Yeah. There’s something in my brain blocking that. Like, I can’t…I think I did it once with Overwatch loot boxes, where I was like, [excited] “Oh boy, what– I can’t wait. What am I gonna get in this box?” But now I’m just like, just let me– if I want to buy something, just let me spend the money on that specific thing or not.
Fūnk-é: Like, I don’t want to get caught up in all of that.
Nerium: It’s something that’s really great about Warframe, where that game is just like, there’s a new character. If you want to, you can just– you could pay seven bucks, and you can just get them. They’re just there, whatever.
merritt: Yeah. Yeah.
Fūnk-é: Charles, I just want to say, like, if you’re not actually having fun, you don’t have to keep playing it.
Charles: No, I know. I know. [laughter] I mean…
Nerium: But then you’re gonna miss your dailies.
Charles: Yeah, I’m gonna miss my dailies. No, I mean, I might get into it. I think it’s just a thing I feel the desire to contribute for Fanbyte, ’cause we don’t have…there’s not a lot of Genshin stuff on the like short featuresy side.
Charles: But I am trying a bunch of different things, so if I find one that I like better, I’ll probably…
merritt: Yeah, don’t. Don’t.
Charles: I played Fortnite for the first time earlier, also.
merritt: Yeah, we were playing Fortnite.
Fūnk-é: For the first time?
Charles: Well, it was kind of the– my first and a half time ’cause I played it alone once for like three minutes and died really quick, [merritt laughs] and I was like, nope, mm-mm. [Nerium laughs]
merritt: No, you gotta roll with Niki. That’s like how to get into Fortnite, ’cause it makes you feel so cool when you’re just like, you know, getting kills on teens and stuff. Like, ah yeah.
merritt: Just driving around in a cool truck with the Master Chief.
Charles: I got like four kills.
Fūnk-é: Yep, Joker, Master Chief, Ridley.
merritt: Yep. Now, you were–
Charles: And me, default brown guy.
merritt: You were a default skin though, so that was…
Fūnk-é: Oh, a Jonesy.
Charles: I was.
Nerium: Oh no.
Charles: Now, so the thing that bothers me about that is like, I really…eventually I’ll get excited about some kind of skin, like some character I’ve just gotta be once I’m into the game.
Charles: Right now it’s more of just, I don’t– I feel embarrassed. I don’t want to be default guy, you know?
merritt: Yeah, that’s the thing. That’s how they get you. They’ve made it into a bullying tactic, [laughter] like kids on the schoolyard are like, “Ha, you’re default! Ahaha.”
Charles: I’m getting, yeah, I’m getting bullied by Master Chief and the Rock.
Charles: Which is like an elementary school kid’s like real life nightmares.
merritt: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
Nerium: Yeah, that’s definitely way better than gacha. [laughter]
merritt: But at least you can buy the Rock, you know?
Charles: I did– I played Fire Emblem Heroes when it came out.
merritt: Oh boy.
Charles: For like two months. That’s like a mobile gacha Fire Emblem game.
Nerium: Oh yeah.
Charles: And I hate it, but I do– I kind of get off on the gacha stuff.
merritt: Well, yeah–
Charles: Like, it’s just…I like spinning it, ’cause it’s like, I know I won’t get it, but if I do, like that’s so much better.
merritt: That’s, yeah, it’s gambling. That’s why gambling is a thing. [laughter]
Charles: It is. It is.
merritt: It’s bad. It’s not good.
Nerium: Charles, do you think about this?
merritt: Don’t go to Vegas. But you know what?
Fūnk-é: Only if you’re checking out Saints Row, the new one.
merritt: I bet Vegas probably isn’t as exciting as gacha games to some people, because you just get money instead of like an anime JPEG.
Nerium: Yeah. [Charles laughs]
merritt: And you don’t have any like personal connection to money, but money can be exchanged for anime JPEGs, so there’s that.
Fūnk-é: Wait, what?
Nerium: Money can also buy you art lessons. You could just draw your own, like that’s–
merritt: No, it’s not the same. I don’t know the character that I draw, and I have to do work then, it’s not– the gratification is less instant. It’s delayed, and I don’t like that. I’m sorry, Charles. I feel bad now. I feel like we’ve like put you–
Charles: Oh, what do you feel bad about?
merritt: I feel like we’ve put you through such a trying experience. [laughs]
Charles: Wait, which experience? Can you be more specific?
merritt: Playing Genshin Impact. [laughter]
Charles: Oh! No. I mean, nobody asked me to. It was really a…
merritt: I mean…
Charles: I had also been curious for a while, ’cause I remember way back like when it was like, some trailer of it came out online and it was still like in– it’s Chinese, right? Chinese developers?
merritt: That is correct.
Nerium: Yeah. HoYoverse is I believe what they changed your name to.
Charles: And it was still like, it was like an early, before it had been like translated, and people were like, “Ugh, this is just a Breath of the Wild clone.”
Charles: And I was just interested in it from that. I was like, oh, Breath of the Wild clone.
merritt: [laughs] Oh, interesting.
Charles: And then played it, and now I’m like, [disappointed] this is not as much like Breath of the Wild as I thought it would.
Charles: But it’s all my fault. No one forced me to do that, so. I don’t feel bad.
Nerium: Remember when there was like stories about people, like that guy in China who took a hammer to his PlayStation 4 in protest, to like, “You can’t just rip off Breath of the Wild like this! This is disrespectful to Nintendo!”
Fūnk-é: That’ll show ‘em.
merritt: It was Flappy Bird for a whole new generation. [laughter]
Charles: Oh. RIP Flappy Bird.
merritt: Well, speaking of games that are jobs, still playing Destiny.
Fūnk-é: I’m curious, ‘cause every time you talk about it, it’s either like, “Oh, Destiny‘s fun,” or “This is the worst.”
merritt: No, it’s fun. It’s good. It’s good.
Fūnk-é: It’s good?
merritt: Look, it’s good. It’s just like, it’s bad ’cause it just, the loop feels so good. It’s just like, and it’s not even like the loot stuff so much that it is just like– well, okay. It is making numbers go up. So there’s the solstice event on right now, which is they basically started doing four seasonal events throughout the year. The solstice one is the summer event, and so you make a little armor set and it has like a cool glowing effect. And then you go to this floating island, like you’re playing Sonic and Knuckles, and you stoke a big bonfire.
merritt: And that’s cool, but it’s just like the core gameplay just feels so good.
merritt: And like also the world is still one of the best in…like, this season has had its–
Nerium: Like the lore.
merritt: The lore and stuff, yeah. And, also just like visually, it’s just like a stunning looking game still.
Nerium: Oh yeah.
merritt: Bungee knows how to make a sky box. Like, they really are just, [Nerium laughs] you know, top tier in that respect. But yeah, solstice is going strong this week. They put a Sparrow, which is like the hover bikes that you get in that game. They put one in that’s Mario Kart, and it makes blue sparks when you turn, and it drops little ghost shells, because like, you know, like turtle shells, like Koopa shells.
Charles: Good shit.
merritt: They don’t do anything, but it is cute. And yeah, I don’t know. I’ve been like on the title grind, where I’m just like…I have to stop myself though, like from doing things where it’s just like, ’cause games like that will just put numbers in front of you, right? and be like, “You could make this go up if you wanted to.”
merritt: And I’m just like, I don’t need to. And then I’m like, ooh, but I do like to. [laughter] So like, you know, there’s like weekly challenges, and the start of the season, I was like, I’m not gonna do ’em this time. They just give you bright dust, which is like the free cosmetic currency in the game. And then I’ve done most of them, and so it’s like, all right, well, might as well do the rest. But I’ve been doing the high level content lately, which is like kind of the most fun, because you really have to– like Destiny basically has two like modes of play, right? There’s like this sort of lowkey just messing around, doing something like watching a movie while you’re playing it in the background. And then there’s like the high end stuff, where like, if your fire team dies, you have to start the whole thing over.
merritt: So I’ve been doing Grandmaster Nightfalls, which for a long time, I just like totally avoided, ’cause they felt really like a cheap way of gating difficulty and of like, you know, just, I don’t know, blocking off content and stuff.
merritt: And also Bungee’s encounter design isn’t always the best, but they’ve actually been really fun, ’cause they sort of force you to think about these strikes and things that you’ve run like hundreds of times in a different way. Where like, normally, if you’re just playing like a, you know, average difficulty strike, you’re just running straight into an area, tossing off abilities, just firing away. In a Grandmaster, you’re like, “Okay, shit, how do we approach this room?” Like, every room is like kind of like a combat puzzle, ’cause it’s like, if we just run in there, we’re all getting sniped instantly and killed. [laughs]
merritt: So it’s like, okay, I’m gonna take this side. I’ll like activate my rift to keep our damage up, and then you go around and like stealth and take out these guys. And so it’s like much more like engaged, which I guess is the point.
Fūnk-é: Yeah, and strategic.
merritt: Yeah, yeah.
Fūnk-é: I really like when games do that, like I’ve– I was talking to my friend about the League of Legends flow state that you get into, [merritt: “Mm”] when you’re playing like a full five stack and you’re like, okay, this is like League, and you can play while you’re like picking your nose or whatever. But here, when you’re playing like seriously with a squad, you really like, “Okay, well, let’s go over here. Like, let’s do this.” And when you’re in that, like, you feel you yourself meshing with everyone, that’s the shit that really like shines. So that makes me excited to hear you talking about that in Destiny.
merritt: Yeah. Oh God, Fūnk-é, you would…you gotta see a Destiny raid.
Nerium: Oh no.
merritt: They’re so fun.
Nerium: Fūnk-é, don’t fall for it.
merritt: Destiny raids are so fun, ’cause they’re basically just like these huge like multi-phase encounters where [Fūnk-é: “Mm-hmm”] everyone has to be doing different things and like performing all their like actions flawlessly while also like taking out enemies and stuff.
merritt: The boss of the most recent raid—which launched Witch Queen, which came out, earlier this year—is just a huge guy who like, you have to do all this stuff to basic– like he has this barrier up, and so you have to do all these different actions to like take that barrier down and to be able to get up close to him. And once you do that, he just takes out this giant glaive and starts like anime dashing around the arena at you.
Fūnk-é: Oh my God.
merritt: And then also just like trying to step on you, ’cause he’s like three or four times your size, [Fūnk-é laughs] and you just have to blow off pieces of his armor while also like doing this thing to weaken him, and then you finally are able to actually do damage. And it’s like, Destiny raids are just like…man. I’m sure there are other games that are like this, and I’m sure like Final Fantasy XIV raids are like this.
Nerium: Oh, absolutely. Yeah.
merritt: But just like some of the most fun co-op stuff I’ve ever played in a video game.
merritt: It’s like, stuff like that is what keeps me coming back to that and like the narrative stuff, and…
Fūnk-é: I really want to see one of those in motion. You gotta stream to– maybe not even on Twitch, but on Discord. I’d love to see like a bit of a raid.
merritt: Yeah, sometime I will. Unfortunately, yeah, the raids are like six people. Like, you need a full six stack.
Fūnk-é: And a comms as well.
Nerium: And there’s no matchmaking.
merritt: There’s no matchmaking. Yeah, because you need comms.
merritt: So Bungee is just like, “No, we can’t matchmake it,” which like, I get it. It would be very frustrating to matchmake in a raid, because there’s just–
Nerium: But people already just do it themselves, has always been my weird thing.
merritt: Yeah, but he thing is like, if you’re doing it through– there’s like a Destiny app where you can do that, but then you’re like, you know.
merritt: Yep, it’s an official app.
Fūnk-é: Oh, cool.
merritt: And you can sort of be like, “I’m looking for people to do this,” and then people can join your fire team through that, which is like basically as good, but. Yeah. The story’s wrapped up, and uh…
Charles: Can I–
merritt: The seasonal story, which means basically after this week, I think I’m done for the season, so. Yeah, Charles.
Charles: Yeah. Can you pitch me Destiny versus– of my extremely limited service game live game experience.
Charles: Why would one play Destiny over Fortnite or Genshin Impact or Fire Emblem Heroes?
merritt: Do you like Halo?
Charles: I’ve dabbled in Halo.
merritt: Okay. Well, basically the main appeal is like the moment to moment stuff.
merritt: So…also, there’s no gacha mechanics. All of the…
Charles: I’m out. [laughter]
merritt: All of the micro transactions are cosmetic only.
merritt: And the…yeah, just the moment to moment gameplay basically just feels like playing Halo 2, which to me is very good.
Charles: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
Nerium: Halo 2 but with like magic.
merritt: But with space magic, yeah. Crucially, with space magic. You can be a space ninja, you can be a space knight, or you can be a space wizard, and there’s like different flavors of all of them. And also there is an ongoing storyline that has characters that are increasingly like actually really well drawn and compelling and yeah.
Nerium: There was like a long period there where the story was pretty actively infamously terrible.
Nerium: But like the lore in the background was really good, and like people could never figure out why that was. And there was like a big investigative report like a year or two ago, where basically it’s like, yeah, there was a lot of really shitty people in positions of power at Bungee for a while who have, I think, largely been ousted, in the year or two since. And then like a lot of those people were like, “No, we’re the real writers. [merritt: “Mm”] We have the good ideas,” and they wrote all the shit that everybody hated. And now the people who were like writing the good stuff in the background are kind of more in charge than they used to be, is kind of my understanding.
Nerium: So it has gotten a lot– like merritt will just tell me on Discord, just like, “Okay, do you care about spoilers?” And then I’ll be like, “No, merritt, go ahead and tell me.” [laughter] And she’ll be like, “Oh my God! So like Crow, he remembers who he was now! Oh!”
merritt: Oh my God. Crow is a whole fucking thing. [Nerium laughs] This season’s been all about like trauma and shit. And admittedly, it did get like a little old by the end of it, because it’s like, all right, we’ve been through this song and dance with a few characters. We’re moving on.
merritt: But man, those first few weeks, they hit real hard. Yeah, that’s the Destiny report. So we’re gonna wrap up, but before we do, I want to do a quick little recommendations segment.
merritt: I used to do a segment called Get Recced on a show that I used to do called Woodland Secrets, and I figured, let’s just do that. Let’s recommend something real quick. Doesn’t have to even be video game related, just anything you got. And I can go first, since I don’t know if I– I may have just sprung this on all of you, so I’ll go first and give you some time to think. I’m going to recommend—this is gonna sound like really bougie—a monogrammed towel. [Nerium laughs] Get yourself–
Fūnk-é: Say what? Well, it did sound really bougie.
Charles: So much bougier than I could have anticipated.
merritt: Get yourself a monogrammed towel. It’s gonna cost you five bucks more than a regular towel, and you will feel like–
merritt: Yeah, like a bath towel.
Charles: What does it say?
merritt: Just has, you know, your initial on it.
Charles: Just your initial, okay.
merritt: Or, you know, or all of your initials. Mine just has like k on it, but. It will make you feel like royalty. And again, you know, places when you buy a towel online, it’s gonna cost you like an extra few dollars. I think like…I don’t know if they actually sell towels, but Muji will do monogram stuff. I think Uniqlo might as well? You can…yeah, okay. Well, Fūnk-é has linked South Park Towelie, that’s…
Fūnk-é: I looked at monogrammed towel and this was the first…
merritt: How is that the first thing that came up? [laughter]
Fūnk-é: I don’t know!
merritt: That doesn’t make any sense. Trust me, though. This one of those little things, you know? Just like treat yourself. Just like get a– even if you don’t want a monogrammed towel, get a nice towel, ’cause it’s gonna pay for itself in drying and in just feeling, you know, make you feel better.
Fūnk-é: What defines one of those?
merritt: Like a nice towel?
Fūnk-é: Like, what does monogrammed mean?
Fūnk-é: I don’t know what that word means.
merritt: Oh, monogramming? It’s like when you put your initials on something.
Fūnk-é: Oh, okay.
merritt: So like it belongs to you, and you’re important.
Fūnk-é: Oh, yeah, it’s your towel.
merritt: ‘Cause your initials are on something.
Nerium: So yours would say FJ.
merritt: Yeah. It’s like–
Fūnk-é: I’m a fan.
merritt: It’s really, it’s just so nice. And again, it sounds bougie, but it’s like really not. It’s like some stitching. It’s not that fancy. [laughs softly]
merritt: It’s just like, you know.
Nerium: I just– this is a great shout, actually, ’cause I just need more towels, and this just reminds me that I need– I should buy some new towels, ’cause you know, you use the same towels for too long, they get ratty.
Nerium: They get, you know, they get old.
merritt: No, you gotta– yeah, you, that was sort of the position– actually, what happened to me is that I did order new towels like a while ago, but I accidentally had them sent to my old apartment.
merritt: And I was like, I’m not going across town to get those towels that I sent there. They were only like 20 bucks, so like, I don’t know, I don’t really need them that badly. And then I didn’t get new ones for a long time, because I was like, “Oh, I already got new towels.” [laughs] But yeah, that’s my rec. Nere, what about you?
Nerium: I would love to recommend the Black Company series by Glenn Cook.
merritt: What is it, books?
Nerium: This is books.
Nerium: This is a series of low fantasy, I would say, I guess, novels about a mercenary company called the Black Company.
Nerium: That takes place in kind of a, just a really, really, really down to earth fantasy world where bad shit happened 100, 500 years ago, something like that. And the books just kind of follow a bunch of dudes who are just like, “I guess we just gotta live with this!”
Nerium: Like, I gotta make money to eat and stuff. So they like– the first book follows the…they sign up with like the main villainess basically of the universe. Like, what if the…what if there was a fantasy book about like the orcs from Sauron’s army or something like that. And they’re just like, but it’s just a bunch of dudes who are like, “Yeah, I don’t know. Like, she pays us. Like, what do you want?”
Nerium: And it kind of spirals out from there. Very interesting. The second book is like really different, ’cause it kind of like almost shifts into this weird sort of body horror murder mystery type thing, mostly centered around one town. And, had been recommended to me a million times before as just like a really, really like interesting kind of take on this sort of thing, where it’s like, you know, doesn’t– it doesn’t put on any airs, which I get really– I have a really low tolerance for like overly frilly sci-fi about– or not sci-fi, but fantasy, especially about like, “This is my main character, and he’s my OC, and he’s the coolest guy that ever lived, ’cause he can do cool magic.”
merritt: Mm-hmm. Yeah, you know, like what’s his name? ??? or the other one?
Nerium: Any fantasy character written by a dude in the last like 30 years?
merritt: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
Nerium: I tried reading those like Mistborn books a little while ago, and it just drove me up the wall.
Nerium: ‘Cause it was just like, the main character is just like, “Everybody in this world can do one type of magic out of the five core types of magic, except for me! I can do ‘em all, ’cause I’m cool.” And that shit just, that drives me up the wall. And this one is just like, the main character is a doctor. Like, he doesn’t do anything special. He’s just like the doctor and happens to be the guy who is like, on the first day that he joined up with the mercenary company, they were like, “Okay, you’re in charge of– like, we have to have a chronicler, and the last one died, so you’re in charge,” and he’s like, “Okay, I guess.” And so he just like keeps the journal, and that’s why it’s from his perspective, and yeah, it’s really cool.
merritt: Nice. Fūnk-é, what about you?
Fūnk-é: Uh, I actually mentioned this in call before everyone joined, but it’s a very simple thing I recommend. My partner put me on this, but put some ice cubes in your water. That shit hits.
merritt: Wow. Wait, you’re saying I can transform water from a liquid into solid by removing heat?
Fūnk-é: I know. And then just plop it in your bottle.
Charles: The issue with this is all of merritt’s ice trays are full of smoothie.
merritt: That’s so true! [laughter] That is true. That’s the problem.
Fūnk-é: What if you mix up at the start and you accidentally put a smoothie in the water?
merritt: God, why don’t I do this, though? No, ’cause I have a huge—uh, I’m actually not gonna say the brand name—water bottle that I love, and hit me up offline if you need recs.
Fūnk-é: [laughs] Yeah.
merritt: But I should put ice cubes in it, ’cause the water, you know, it doesn’t come out super cold out of the tap unless you like let it run for a sec.
Nerium: No, yeah.
Fūnk-é: And even like, like you’re recording a podcast, like I am.
Fūnk-é: I put some ice cubes in here. This shit is cool even now, an hour and a half later.
merritt: [sighs] Such a good idea. It’s so obvious, but it’s just one of those things you just forget to do, so thank you for that.
Fūnk-é: Of course.
merritt: Charles, you got anything?
Charles: Yes. I have been absolutely obsessed, kind of passively obsessed with this app. It’s a game that was announced at Netflix Geeked Week called Poinpy.
Fūnk-é: Oh, you’re still playing Poinpy?
Charles: I beat Poinpy, Fūnk-é.
Fūnk-é: Oh my God.
Charles: If you have Netflix, you can download Poinpy. You can just search for Poinpy in the Netflix app on your phone and get it, and you’re this lil green dude, and you jump around, and you get fruits, and you gotta feed this giant blue monster that’s chasing you, and it’s fun. Oh, it’s also made by the creator of Downwell.
Charles: Which is not– I’m actually playing Downwell now, ’cause I beat Poinpy.
Charles: The ending of Poinpy is genuinely one of the most bonkers endings to a video game I have ever played my entire life.
Charles: It is so trippy. It really is similar to Kirby, where it’s like, you know, level one, you’re eating a little dude, [Nerium laughs] and then the last level you’re eating God, somehow. It’s kind of like that, except it’s just so– it’s so great. I don’t want to spoil it.
Charles: Because I want everyone to play and beat Poinpy. But yes, that’s my rec, Poinpy.
Fūnk-é: How long did it take you to go through all that?
Charles: Um… [laughs] That’s a great question. Probably like a month and a half, but I didn’t play it…I wouldn’t like sit down and play Poinpy for a few hours, you know?
Charles: It’s just kind of like, I’d pick it up every now and again. The trick to beating Poinpy, I should say, you’ll get– the way it works is it’ll say, you know, to beat this objective, eat, you know, three apples and a blueberry before touching the ground, and that’s what you gotta do.
Fūnk-é: I could do that. [merritt laughs]
Charles: The trick is the higher the combo you get, the more exponentially you can like pass through the levels. So if you can get 50 fruits without touching the ground, you will beat the whole first game and then go onto like this challenge mode end game, where you actually beat the game beat the game.
Charles: But you unlock all sorts of like gear things, and there’s like a puzzle mode. It’s a good game. Poinpy’s good.
Fūnk-é: Yeah, I’m gonna check that out. ‘Cause it is– you can just download it on your phone. It seems pretty simple to access.
Charles: Yeah. Very low stakes.
merritt: A game on your phone?
Nerium: You do have to have a Netflix subscription.
Charles: That’s true.
Fūnk-é: Shoutout, mom!
Charles: Yeah, shoutout to my mom, too.
merritt: Oh my God. Wait, are all of us on our mom’s Netflix accounts?
Fūnk-é: [laughs] I am.
Nerium: No, my mom is on my Netflix account!
merritt: Oh, wow. Okay, well.
Fūnk-é: Dang. Hashtag adulting.
merritt: See, it’s funny, ’cause like I have my own streaming stuff, I just like…like, my mom is on– like, ’cause, you know, I had a Netflix account before, but then like, yeah, I’ve just been on my mom’s Netflix for a while. I don’t use Netflix that often, I guess? So I’m just like, I mean…
merritt: If it’s not hurting anything. There was that one time when I was trying to watch Frasier and my sister was trying to watch Friends. [Charles laughs] And I tweeted about that, and someone tweeted a picture of Wonderbread at me, which I thought was very funny. [laughter]
Fūnk-é: You tweeted like complaining about that?
merritt: Well, ’cause I was like, “I can’t watch Frasier, ’cause my sister’s trying to watch Friends!” And someone was just like: white.
merritt: And I was like, you’re not wrong. I mean…
Charles: It really says a lot about your age and race simultaneously. [laughter]
merritt: Yes. Yes it does. But that’s gonna do it for us for this one. Thank you for listening, and you know, let us know how you feel about the format and how you feel about video games. Do you like video games? Do you not like video games? Let us know. And we will be back next week with another one of these, so until then, make sure to slice your hot dogs and keep that dial tuned to Channel F.