Strike Witches: Shirogane no Tsubasa [Japan Import]

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Praised for their incredible depth as players did nearly everything they wanted with the fantasy worlds, though they never quite reached the levels promised by Molyneux. The franchise was in the midst of a huge shift with Fable Legends last year, a free-to-play action title with asymmetrical multiplayer elements. It cost roughly $75 million to develop but was canceled along with Lionhead Studios being shuttered.

Fable Fortune was in development before the doors closed at Lionhead and was crowd funded when ex-Lionhead devs set up a Kickstarter. Development was then taken over by Flaming Fowl Studios, where the former Lionhead developers currently work, and Mediatonic.

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If you want to give it a shot, Fable Fortune is available on Steam and Xbox Live for $11.99. If Fable Fortune finds a way to climb to the highest tier of a genre that is getting more and more crowded, Fable could find new life in the gaming industry. The difficulty of FromSoftware’s “SoulsBorne” games gets blown out of proportion.

They’re challenging, sure, but even new players can hone their skills and triumph over the likes of Ornstein and Smough, Darklurker, the Nameless King, Ludwig the Accursed, and Old King Allant. All you need is a little patience.

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Across five SoulsBorne games, Dark Souls 2’s the Last Giant is the easiest first boss that players encounter. He’s ponderous, predictable, and susceptible to most types of damage.

As if that weren’t enough, you’re bound to come across a few resins that add elemental damage to your weapon if you search the Forest of Fallen Giants, the boss’s domain. With or without resins, you’ll be yelling “Timber!

Public release Strike Witches: Shirogane no Tsubasa [Japan Import]

” in no time. The Handmaid’s Ladle is a deceptively powerful weapon once you apply mundane to it. Until then, and even after, you have to work around its flaws. Pitifully low durability tops the list. After 20 hits, give or take a couple, the ladle will break. Fighting with a shattered spoon isn’t a problem if your weapon is mundane. The infusion ignores damage and scales with your lowest stat. Without mundane, a broken Handmaid’s Ladle deals zero damage.

I discovered this when my ladle snapped less than 30 seconds into my fight against The Last Giant. Equipping a different weapon was out of the question. I embarked on a ladle-only run. Trembling in a corner, I used a Homeward Bone to teleport out of the boss room. As my screen faded, Last Giant watched without moving.

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He was probably shocked. Can you blame him? I was probably the first person to flee his lair. Repairing the ladle was out of the question: I had no souls, and since I couldn’t deal damage, I couldn’t farm enemies to gain souls and pay the blacksmith, Lenigrast, to repair my weapon.

As a matter of fact, I couldn’t afford the 1000 souls to buy the key to his forge so I could let him in and get him back to work. (Side note: What kind of blacksmith can’t pick a lock?)I had two choices. Scrap the character and start over, or reallocate my stats. Starting over was a bad idea. It had taken three tries to get a mundane stone by trading with the crows in Things Betwixt and about an hour to get my hands on a ladle. To reallocate my stats, I would need to find Cale the Cartographer in Forest of Fallen Giants and get the key to the locked mansion in Majula, where a Soul Vessel—an item that lets you reconfigure your character—can be found. Far from feeling discouraged, I was energized.

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The appeal of a challenge run goes beyond picking a ridiculous weapon and killing bosses with it. Challenge runs are about meeting an obstacle, devising a plan to neutralize it, putting that plan into action, and reveling in your genius when you succeed. That exultation is arguably more rewarding than finally slaying a tough boss after countless tries. (And I know a little something about that.)My plan unfolded thusly.

First, I went back into the forest and found Cale in his hidey-hole, crawling around in the dirt on his hands and knees. After mashing X to skip through his spiel, he handed over his key. Back in town, I plundered the mansion and left with a Soul Vessel in hand and a skeleton hot on my heels. Returning to Things Betwixt, I handed over my Soul Vessel to the cackling old firekeepers. Rather than keep my stats even across the board, which I’d need to deal mundane damage, I dumped four into Attunement, raising it to 10 to give myself a single spell slot, and put the rest in Intelligence to use a single, important spell. The next leg of my trip took me to No-Man’s Wharf, one of my favorite areas in the game. I normally love running around killing off pirates and setting sail across the smooth, glassy surface of its dark waters, but I wasn’t there to sightsee.

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I needed to talk to Carhillion of the Fold, an NPC who sells magic spells if you’ve got at least 10 INT. Completing our transaction took a few tries. I knew the area well enough to run straight through and find him sitting at the end of a pier. So did the enemy horde that gave chase each and every time. Getting fed up with the riff-raff, I summoned an AI-controlled phantom to distract the enemies while I chatted with the wizard and bought Magic Weapon, a buff that adds magic damage to any melee weapon. Look, in my book, “ladle-only” extends to companions, but only for boss fights.

No way would I summon a phantom to help kill a boss. I just needed him to buy me some time, and he did. No harm, no foul. (I vowed not to make summoning phantoms in levels a regular habit, even if I had no designs on taking them into a boss fight. I’ve stuck to that promise so far.)There’s a reason I was so keen to defeat The Last Giant. For one thing, bosses grant lots of souls, and I was flat broke. For another, the game opens up considerably once you bring him down. You get a key that leads to the second boss of Forest Fallen Giants, and beyond him, The Lost Bastille, where I would find another blacksmith—one not locked out of his own forge, I mean—and infuse my ordinary spoon with extraordinary damage. The third reason, really, was that that damn tree embarrassed me. I ran away! No one runs from Last Giant! Outside his fog gate once again, I cast Magic Weapon on my ladle and reentered his arena determined to do my best impression of Paul Bunyan sans axe. Here’s the thing about sprinkling magical damage all over a broken spoon: It’s still a broken spoon. Every light attack chipped off fewer than 10 hit points.

How to update Strike Witches: Shirogane no Tsubasa [Japan Import]

I switched to heavy attacks, upgrading my damage per hit to a whopping 15 to 22 HP. Heavy attacks are slower, so I got in fewer licks, but the damage evened out. The problem, I came to realize, was that I didn’t know this enemy at all. As hit points flaked away from Last Giant’s life bar, it occurred to me that I’d spent maybe 30 minutes of the 1200 hours of spent playing SoulsBorne games battling this boss. He’s relatively simple, so I never bothered to learn more than the bare minimum of strategy: run around his ankles like a little dog and hack away at his legs while he stomps. It’s a viable tactic even when running a challenge build like this one, but I’d invested all of my levels into Attunement and Intelligence.

My character wasn’t a glass cannon. He was a wet sheet of paper. Invariably, the Last Giant stomped on me. With only five Estus Flasks (recovered by racing through levels and grabbing Estus Shards followed by teleporting to safety or getting pummeled in a corner), zero life gems, and no souls with which to buy more, deciding when to heal took on huge significance.

Too early, and I’d left without flasks for later in the fight. Small breakthroughs occurred as the hours wore on. I checked my inventory and discovered I’d picked up three medium-sized life gems somewhere. I don’t often use life gems during boss fights because they restore life slowly; I like to pop gems during levels and save flasks for major encounters.

At that point, I was happy to have an edge, albeit a temporary one. Unlike flasks, gems can’t be restored. Desiring more, I pushed a couple of enemies off ledges and exchanged the paltry souls they gave me for all 10 of the life gems sold by an old crone in the forest.

Those 13 gems became the most important, most precious commodities in my meager inventory. Plunging back into battle against the Last Giant, I changed tactics, swigging Estus first and only deigning to pop life gems if I thought I had a real chance at victory.

My penny-pinching was for naught. Over a series of near wins, I ran through all 13 gems. I was left with the bare essentials.

Estus Flasks, a broken spoon, and Magic Weapon. And then I realized that that was as it should be. Dark Souls is perhaps the quintessential example of the “man against self” conflict.

The Last Giant wasn’t my enemy. My dependence on weapons like dual maces and on items like life gems had dulled my instincts. Over the next few attempts, I didn’t attempt to cut down the Last Giant. I watched him. After some experimentation, I found an even better weak spot than baiting him into stomping around like a toddler throwing a tantrum.

During the first phase of his fight, if you hug the side of his left foot, he’ll bend down and try to backhand you with his right hand. To evade his strike, all you have to do is walk—not run, not roll, just walk—behind him and then quickly return to his toes. You’ll have just enough time to get in two heavy strikes or three quick ones before the boss bends down and swats at you again, and you won’t have wasted stamina rolling, letting yo

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