Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss - title

I may have been a bit hard on Dark Souls in my original review (despite spending like six months playing it before I reviewed it). I guess - despite my best efforts - I just couldn't get over my love for Demon's Souls (which I still think was a better game for its time). But Dark Souls ended up eating up a lot of my time, and I have fallen as much in love with it as I had for Demon's Souls. As such, I have updated my original review with a new, retrospective score to go along with this DLC review. I bought and downloaded Artorias of the Abyss DLC on day one (PSN) when it was released last year, but didn't get around to playing it until earlier this year.

Instead of just unlocking a special quest as soon as the DLC is download (ala Skyrim), the DLC of Dark Souls can only be accessed by defeating an existing, but entirely optional boss in an existing, but entirely optional area of the world; then defeating an existing enemy that allows access to a specific NPC; then defeating another monster in one of the end-game areas (after acquiring the Lordvessel) in order to unlock the "key" to the DLC content. Phew. That's a lot of hoops to jump through! So it took me a while just to be able to access the new content - let alone play through it. Sure, you may have paid for this DLC, but FROMSOFTWARE is still gonna make you work for it; and kudos to them for not compromising on their principles!

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Civilization V - Pocatello of Shoshone

Only a few more civs to go in my series of strategy posts about Brave New World's new civilizations. Next up is the land-snatching Shoshone lead by Chief Pocatello.

The Shoshone are a group of native Americans that originated in the rocky regions of western North America (now Nevada and Utah). Around the same time as European colonists began settling on the east coast, the Shoshone began expanding eastward, which brought them into conflict with other plains indians such as the Blackfoot, Crow, Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. Some Shoshone who migrated into Texas and Oklahoma would break off into their own tribe: Comanche, who would become expert horsemen. The Shoshone began to come into conflict with the United States in the late nineteenth century due to the U.S.'s westward expansion, leading to a massacre of as many as 500 Shoshone at a winter encampment at Bear River in 1863. Shoshone culture has survived on reservations to this day, and in 2008, began working with Utah and Idaho state leaders to create a memorial to the Bear River Massacre. At its height, the Shoshone nation was composed of many tribes that occupied vast territory, extending from modern-day Montana all the way through Nevada; and their offshoot tribe, the Comanche, exhibited strong control of Texas and Oklahoma.

Civilization V: Brave New World - Pocatello

As westward immigration lead to conflict between the Shoshone and United States, Chief Pocatello (or, Tondzaosha) lead his tribe in raids and attacks against settlers in Idaho along the Oregon trail. He was feared and respected by his enemies, and Brigham Young (leader of the Mormons) attempted to offer terms of appeasement to the Shoshone in order to stop the attacks. Instead, the United States army arrived and destroyed any chances of a peaceful solution. Despite the overwhelming might of the U.S. army, Pocatello avoided the total massacre of his people and eventually negotiated the Fort Bridger Treaty of 1868, which granted the Shoshone a permanent reservation at Fort Hall near the Snake River in exchange for annual compensation from the United States (which the United States rarely honored in full). Due to this agreement, the Shoshone cultural identity survives to this day, and the city of Pocatello in Idaho is named in his honor.

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Civilization V - Maria I of Portugal

Going into the back-end of the new civilizations presented in Brave New World, here is another strategy posts. This time, I'll be discussing the gold-generating machine that is Portugal.

The Portuguese essentially initiated the European "Age of Discovery" through the efforts and patronage of Henry the Navigator. After exploring Atlantic islands, Africa, and South America, Portugal established the first world empire in Europe and became one of the wealthiest and most influential powers of the era. Portugal lost much of its imperial strength due to wars with Napoleon and after its most significant colony, Brazil, declared independence. Portugal would never regain its former glory, but it still maintained control over many trading colonies up through the nineteenth century through the use of Feitoria (fortified factory complexes) in its colonies, which are represented in Civ V as city states.

Civilization V: Brave New World - Maria I

Maria I was the first undisputed queen regnant of Portugal and was crowned in 1777. Her rule was tarnished by mental instability and dementia that was first noticed in 1786 and which had made her incapable of managing affairs of state by 1792. The following decade, wars broke out with Spain and Napoleonic France, and Maria (along with the entire royal court) was moved to the colony of Brazil. Despite her madness, she is well-regarded among both Portuguese and Brazilian historians for her domestic policies and for supporting Brazilian independence. she is known as "Maria the Pious" in Portugal, and "Maria the Mad" in Brazil due to the fact that her mental state had already deteriorated by the time she had been relocated to Brazil, and her son had to perform most duties of state.

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Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey - title

Last night, the first episode of the reboot/sequel to Carl Sagan's acclaimed series Cosmos premiered on FOX and National Geographic Channel. I'd been anticipating this show since it was announced last year, as the original Cosmos is one of the best educational programs that has ever been produced. This show is hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, whose passion and charisma makes him an excellent communicator of scientific ideas (right up there with Bill Nye) and fitting successor to Sagan.

Cosmos A Personal Journey - cosmic calendar
The new "cosmic calendar".

In this premiere episode, Tyson gives a brief tour of the solar system, recounts the story of Giordano Bruno, and introduces the viewer to Sagan's classic "cosmic calendar". The information presented in this episode is very high-level. I'm hoping that this is due to the introductory nature of this first episode, and that the remaining episodes will go into much greater depth and detail. However, I fear that the one-hour format will be too constraining for Tyson to provide any information of substance. Sagan's original series was made up of thirteen episodes each two hours long, and that format gave him the opportunity give more than just an introduction to a given topic, providing specific details on the evidences and experiments that lead to the discoveries he presented. Will Tyson have the time in later episodes to provide more information than one can get from the first paragraph of a Wikipedia article? I hope so.

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I was going through the comments on my posts a while back, and I came across a doozy of a comment by user Maiden T. I'm not going to replicate the entire post here, but you can review the comment at the link provided. In summary, the user asserts that Silent Hill, as a series, was never about occultism, and that all the games were "repressed-memory morality tales". The first Silent Hill and "to an extent the third one" are the exceptions (according to Maiden T).

Silent Hill - Incubus concept art
Totally unrelated image of a demon god...

My mind just about exploded when I read this comment, and I started typing up a response, only to realize that I had written a whole blog's worth of counter argument. So, I decided to just turn it into a new blog. So I'll continue my series of analysis and interpretation articles about Silent Hill with a write-up about how the series is most definitely about occultism.

What is Silent Hill about?

I've already tackled two common myths about Silent Hill. The first was about the sexual nature of Pyramid Head, and the second was about the realness of the Otherworld. Now I'll address one of the most fundamental misunderstandings about the series: what is it about?

The repressed-inner-demon myth

Probably the most core and fundamental myth about the Silent Hill series is the continued propagation of the idea that the series (as a whole) is about characters dealing with repressed inner demons - typically a repressed memory of guilt over a perceived sin which they have committed. This idea is rooted in the popularity of Silent Hill 2, and it is so pervasive, that the designers and producers of newer installments of the series embrace it, while dismissing the other critical elements of the games' stories:

"[My favorite SH game is] Silent Hill 2. I didn’t really care for all the heavy occult based storyline in SH1 and 3. I felt SH2 had the best stand alone storyline, and provided the best atmosphere of all the SH games by far.
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I find all the in’s and out’s of ‘The Order’ to be overly intricate and rather uninteresting, but that’s just my opinion."
   - Devin Shatsky (producer, Shattered Memories, Downpour), in an interview with Hell's Descent (Nov 5, 2010).

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Gaming for life...

Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to opinions about video games and the video game industry. But occasionally, I talk about other stuff too. Feel free to read about the blog.

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Why are fans so resistant to the Good+ ending of 'Silent Hill'?Why are fans so resistant to the Good+ ending of 'Silent Hill'?11/20/2013 Stumbled onto this Gamefaqs forum topic about Masahiro Ito "confirming" that the Good ending of Silent Hill is canon, and that Cybil is supposed to die. Many fans apparently see this as absolute validation of their dogmatic opinions on the topic, and that to argue otherwise is moronic. I don't understand why there is so much...

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'Portal 2' - Did we really need another Portal?'Portal 2' - Did we really need another Portal?12/30/2012 This review was originally published 05/15/2011 on Game Observer. It has been republished here for archival purposes. Yes GladOS, we brought you back to life because we really do love to test! To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t looking forward to this game. I love the first Portal, as it was about as close to "perfect" as any...