Guacamelee! 2 (PC)
Guacamelee, are you trying to put me off you? I adored the first game, but you've been slacking off since then. First there was the Super Turbo Championship Edition which was the Gold Edition with 30% more stupid pointless bullshit, now this.
Guacamelee 2 opens with a dumbed down recreation of the first game's final boss, which lets you know what the game is from the start; a weaker retread of the original. After some gratuitous nods to Limbo and Bad Dudes, Juan is taken to a parallel universe where another Luchador is threatening the space-time continuum of the multiverse, and all the parallel universes' Uay Chivos (the goat man mentor from the first game) have met up and decided Juan is the only one who can stop the apocalypse. You know, the first Guacamelee was drowning in pop culture references, but at least it didn't base its entire premise on a fucking Rick and Morty joke.
At one point you run into that witch from the first game, but now she's running a sanctuary for orphaned Alebrijes. And I could practically hear the game shouting "Remember the Alebrije from the first game? Remember how you had to sneak around it, then it chased you through an obstacle course at the end of the level? What, you want us to actually do something with the Alebrije? Oh, you!"
Okay, the base game is still Guacamelee so it's not terrible by any means, and there's are plenty of sweet platforming that require your full suite of moves to get through. It's just limper than its predecessor. And the plot about the universe collapsing means taking queues from the second worst part of Super Paper Mario after the fucking hamster wheel and yes, there are walls in there.
The abilities are mostly the same, and just don't feel as meaningful when you get them. For example, in the first game you got the ability to turn into a chicken because a character relevant to the plot turns you into a chicken, and after running around in your helpless state for a while another character relevant to the plot teaches you how to turn back and forth. Here, you're given the ability to turn into a chicken because it's an ability from the first game and it was needed for the next hurdle. The one new ability is the Eagle Boost, which launches you from special statues at the same angle you are from the statue. This is totally not awkward and irritating to use, and especially not so when you have to make multiple split-second shots from them.
The story seems to just give up towards the end. The main antagonist appears to be possessed by some kind of snake demon, but I don't believe the game ever explains what's really going on. Did he make a deal with the demon for the strength to take the magic luchador mask? Did he go into the Snake Temple to have a sulk after he was told he couldn't have it, and the demon latched onto him? Is his magic luchador mask cursed? Is it some manifestation of his own chi (for lack of a better word) which takes on the form of snakes sprouting out of his back Dr. Octopus style? Sorry, the game was too busy referencing the new God of War game to think about the important stuff.
Maybe the final boss would have been less crap if the game didn't give you the ability to sit down and recover your health whenever you wanted. But even then, Guacamelee ended in a giant demon dragon that took all the skills you'd been honing through the game to bring down. Guacamalee 2 ends with a dude you button mash, half the time as a chicken.
Like the first game, you need to collect some hidden items to get the good ending. But I just couldn't bring myself to do them this time because they're gated with challenges that are fucking torturous. One relies on that godforsaken Eagle Boost ability, and another plays out like something from Super Meat Boy that got scrapped for being too drawn out.
The only thing I can say has improved is the fidelity of the environments. I'm hesitant to say the graphics are "better", because while Guacamelee 2's backgrounds have more color complexity and detail, the simpler style of the first game had its strengths.
Carpe Jugulum (Terry Pratchett)
The copyright on this book is 1998, otherwise I would have thought this was a jab at the Twilight series. I mean, shit, there's even a story thread about the vampire son being into a girl because he can't read her thoughts very well. But rather than sparkling in the sun this family of vampires is trying to get over their traditional weaknesses like garlic and holy water, effectively trying to have all the strengths of being a vampire and none of the weaknesses. And as if to take a preemptive swipe at Twilight, the climax is about how people like their old fashioned vampires.
The protagonists for this adventure are the witches of Lancre, and something about the witch books has never really gelled with me. Maybe it's Weatherwax being a know-it-all who never loses, or maybe it's Ogg being a pig-headed busybody with a disgusting cat. This one also brings back Magrat who was barely in Masquerade, if at all, and now she's an obsessive mother who thinks her kid is the golden child. Barf.
I was more into the substory of the Omnian priest having a crisis of faith. Some of this parallels with Small Gods, which I really need to reread sometime; at the time I was more religious and had a kneejerk "Wah this book is making fun of my faith" reaction so I'd like to see what I think of it having a more secular mindset (I'm not sure Small Gods was even that critical of religion, just the church using their god to do whatever they wanted). Anyway, there was a part of that where Brutha is asking Om about all the laws and proclamations Om allegedly made and Om is all "What, no?" because after generations of priests inserting their own rules the doctrine was bloated with nonsense. Here, Oats literally sets fire to his sacred text because he needed the heat so save somebody, and when asked about it says "Look, the parts that actually matter are the parts that don't burn." Then he gets to kick ass at the end.