Yesterday, my colleague Jason Schreier and I spent 12 hours sitting on my couch and streaming video games. We ate some pizza, sang some songs, and beat some bosses. It was fun.
Each of us picked three games for the other one to play. Jason had me play Suikoden 2, Super Mario RPG and Super Mario World. I picked Dark Souls, Splatoon 2 and Resident Evil 7. Below are some highlights, along with a few post-stream thoughts on each game.
Kirk: Jason, you played Dark Souls in a very gung ho manner.
Jason: I think one of the themes of yesterday's stream was that I am an aggressive gamer.
Kirk: It got you killed a lot, but you also made a lot of progress. Albeit sloppy progress. What'd you make of Dark Souls?
Jason: I am way into it. I see why people love it. Having played a few hours of Bloodborne, I already had a feel for this type of game, but the atmosphere and general vibe of Dark Souls still impressed me quite a bit, and I would totally go home and play through it all if not for: A) The janky framerate/controls and B) the massive time commitment. If only it were on Switch!
Kirk: I think you did pretty well, considering my ancient PS3 controller was so busted you couldn't do a heavy attack. And every time you pressed X it'd also attach, which caused you to make an unfortunate enemy of Solaire of Astora. Not bad! It made me want to go back and really finish the game.
Jason: So despite our longrunning narrative, you have actually played some Suikoden 2 before. But you didn't remember much of it, so it was nice to get back into the first few hours of the game. You got to fight through some early battles and see some of the big plot moments that set up Suikoden 2's epic narrative - what'd you think?
Kirk: I'm impressed by how sweeping the narrative feels in those early chapters. I had to laugh at the unsteady juxtaposition between all the interesting political squabbling and the fact that you spend most of the game fighting like, giant axe-wielding rabbits. It's such a standard JRPG some times, and so interesting others.
Jason: Yeah, and I will confess, invisible random encounters have not aged well. I played through the game's worst dungeon (the Sindar Ruins) early yesterday morning before we streamed, and it was not a pleasant experience. Still, even in 2017, no game's story has hit the grand highs of Suikoden 2, which I hope you'll discover yourself by playing through the whole game. Do you think you will? If it helps, you're just about to bite into the really good stuff.
Kirk: Yeah, I mean I've always planned to really play the game. I sense it will continue to be a challenge to find the time and headspace to dedicate however many hours it will take to get into a groove. Anything to get to listen to that "quack" sound effect more, though.
Kirk: After Suikoden 2 it was your turn getting repeatedly owned and fucking up my W/L ratio in Splatoon 2. Learning curve notwithstanding, what'd you think?
Jason: Unsurprisingly, Splatoon 2 is excellent. The aesthetics blow me away — that music! — and it's a blast to play. But after two hours, I felt like I got my fill. I don't think I'd buy it and I don't have much desire to keep playing. With Destiny 2 out in a week, I've already got my one big competitive shooter game, and I don't need another. But I get why people are so into squid vs. kid warfare!
Kirk: Yeah, I can see that. Once this game gets its hooks into you, it's hard to stop, but you also have to make time for it and get over that initial learning curve. It gets much more fun once you've had four to five hours to get into the rhythm of dunking, swimming, jumping and shooting. But I agree, as much as I love it, it's gonna be a matter of free time for me, too. Also: Salmon Run got hard since I last played!
Jason: I actually didn't enjoy Salmon Run! But I did enjoy Turf War quite a bit. Splatting people never gets old. I'm more of a PVP guy than a horde mode guy, I think. I wasn't a huge fan of Prison of the Elders either.
Kirk: It didn't help that you had some heartbreaking Salmon Run games. It's a lot more fun when you have a good team.
Jason: Yeah I imagine it's also a lot more fun when you're playing with friends.
SUPER MARIO RPG
Jason: I was very curious to see how you'd react to Super Mario RPG, a Squaresoft game that was unlike anything else we saw in the '90s (and is still way better than any Mario-themed RPG Nintendo has put out to date). What'd you think of the first two hours?
Kirk: What an odd game!
…that's my take.
Jason: Good take. I was worried you'd hate it forever after dying to the Hammer Bros. boss.
Kirk: Ha. That was something of a recurring theme in our stream — the bummer of losing progress the way you can in older games. But no, I liked it. I actually want to play more, though maybe I'll wait to play it on SNES Classic (God and WalMart willing). I can't imagine what people thought of this game when it came out. It must have seemed so strange.
Jason: I was too young to be like, "Whoa this is weird!" I just accepted it and played the hell out of it because it was awesome. Also: Just wait. You only got to the Kero Sewers - as you make more progress you'll see that it's chock full of weirdness, humour and random mini-games. We should play more tonight tbh.
Kirk: Haha I dunno, I don't want to make TOO much progress when I might start over in like a month. Whenever I play again, though, expect me to be bugging you for tips. You were very helpful.
Jason: Hahaha, people who watched us play live might think otherwise, because you seemed pretty annoyed when I gave you tips. But maybe they just don't understand the unique Kirk-Jason dynamic.
RESIDENT EVIL 7
Kirk: Jason, you didn't seem thrilled with Resident Evil 7. Accurate?
Jason: Definitely. I'm just not into horror games. I loved Resident Evil 4 because it was a great action shooter with rad bosses and really solid mechanics, but the first two hours of RE7 just didn't do it for me. I wasn't really scared or thrilled, just kinda bored. Getting chased around by invulnerable bosses does not make for a fun video game. THAT SAID, I can totally see why horror game aficionados would be into it. I am just not one of them.
Kirk: People in chat kept talking about the VR version, which I haven't played because I'm waiting for it to be on PC. (Hopefully? Eventually?) Can you even imagine playing this game in VR?
Jason: I'd just get nauseous, I think. Too much head-spinning.
Kirk: Also too much dismemberment.
SUPER MARIO WORLD
Jason: And we closed things out with one of the best platformers ever made, a game that gave you trouble, which was understandable considering that you've never really played it. Those of us who grew up with Super Mario World have the muscle memory and mastery to zip through its levels, as I did when we were wrapping up, but for someone who's never played the game, it's really friggin' hard! You played through Yoshi's Island and Doughnut Plains - what'd you think?
Kirk: It's clearly a work of genius. I was so tired at that point, my experience definitely suffered, and I was probably more annoyed than I needed to be that I kept dying. Streaming games like SMW is weird, since it's so skill-based and many of our viewers are so familiar with and good at the game. It feels like everyone's expecting you to be amazing, even though that's probably not actually the case! I really want to go pick it apart a bit, I was amazed by the high-level stuff you were doing when you took over at the end. Also I didn't realise just how many complicated new mechanical ideas were introduced in this game.
Jason: I promise you that nobody expected you to be amazing. I was monitoring Twitch chat and everyone was just cheering you on. You did pretty well considering it was your first time playing the game!
Kirk: I had my moments. I think the part that freaked me out most was the part where you climb on chain-link fence with a bunch of koopa troopas, and you can punch them off if they go around the back. Like, what? What game is this?
Jason: Yeah, I think it's rare for a modern game to be constantly introducing new mechanics (especially one-off mechanics that are only used once or twice in the entire game), so it's a bit mindblowing to go back and play Super Mario World today. It's really quite the accomplishment that they were able to stick so many incredible ideas in this one 2D platformer!
Kirk: Hell of a game, and hell of a way to end the stream.
You can find archived videos over on Kotaku US' Twitch channel, though they're pretty broken up because Elgato's unfortunate streaming software kept crashing. (Next time I'll use OBS, I promise.) Thanks to everyone who tuned in!