#Mv27: Introducing Murf Versus 27, a Gaming Retrospective for April 2015

All my life, I’ve been passionate about video games but every passion requires daily sacrifice. You sacrifice your time and your money. You sacrifice your mind. You certainly sacrifice your heart. But what for? What wealth have I earned from spending so much energy on what so many have called a frivolous, meaningless, and useless thing?

This April I turn 27. That means nearly three decades of my singular life have been expended in the pursuit of better, cooler, bigger, and more exciting video games. I am no universal expert on the subject of gaming, but I am my own personal guru. I think now is the right time to reflect on games, game culture, and how they have shaped or influenced my journey thus far as a human being.

I am calling this series Murf Versus 27. I will publish a post every day in the month of April. They will be published in a loosely chronological order, following me from my youngest years as a gamer up until where I find myself now. The aim is to combine the autobiographical with an exploration of gaming over the years.

My passion for gaming has waxed, waned, and evolved many times over the course of my life. Its future journey has no itinerary to follow, no guarantees to fulfill, and no debts to repay. In this fleeting moment, I only reflect, not determine; I do so knowing and hoping that my own private path has many intersections with the paths that you all have taken.

Let us reminisce and reflect together.

Announcing: Healing the Murfsses

I mention Healing the Masses a lot on this blog. There are a grand total of 15 articles using the tag Healing the Masses, but that doesn’t reflect the many more which have been directly or indirectly influenced by Eri’s invisible hand. In my valentine’s post from February celebrating her good name, I had this to say:

I couldn’t ask for a nicer, cooler, or wackier person to call a friend, nor can I ask for a better blog. I read everyone of her posts with a glee that only her rambling rants can conjure up – I never know what to expect!

These words are still true and they have been in the back of my mind ever since. We already have a great working relationship as friends and fellow bloggers. We have shared many ideas, guested on one another’s blog, and talked long into the night about future articles. Eri and I are already a team.

As you may have seen mentioned yesterday, I ran a notice to update your links and feeds to Eri’s relaunched blog with its own full website. However, there was a secret motive. Citing her superior views, hits, and overall broader appeal, Eri and I both agree that her brand is the better one, and she has accepted me as a partner and co-writer at Healing the Masses.

In other words, updating your links and feeds for her also means updating them for me, as Murf Versus will cease operation at the end of the month. It has been an absolute blast writing for you all here and including a more personal style of games blogging, but the time has come that I embrace my love of MMORPGs and rants. Like Eri, I plan on writing almost exclusively on MMORPGs, whether I enjoy the ones I am playing or not. The world has had enough of Murf the person – the masses have always wanted my angry MMO rants and it is time I begin healing that rift.

With this last month on Murf Versus, I am planning to unveil a final project beginning later today, which will run through the rest of the month.

Thanks once again for all your love and support. I hope that will follow me on this new adventure to this new home. You can view an about me page on the new Healing the Masses website here.

PSA: Update your Healing the Masses feed.

Favorite friend, frequent contributor, and NBI compatriot, Eri, has recently surpassed me in yet another blogging achievement: she’s gotten a real website not hosted here on wordpress.com.

If you weren’t aware, haven’t read her work, or just need something to do, please update/add/worship this new link to her brand new temple of rant:

Healing the Masses (now with nets!)

Project #Murflocke: The Aftermath! #Pokemon

In case you missed, avoided, or need a reminder about my first and only Nuzlocke run in Pokemon:

  1. I am the alpha.
  2. Rocking Rustboro City.
  3. Brawling or Bawling?
  4. Wash Out/Washed Up!
  5. Thunder and the Mountain Top.
  6. Blasting Off.
  7. Father, Son, and Kipper’s Ghost.
  8. I Choose You, Revenge Route.
  9. A Final Flame.

The Aftermath!

If you are a long time fan of the Pokemon series, I cannot recommend enough taking on a Nuzlocke run of your own devising. These games so rarely have the challenge needed to task seasoned Pokemon Trainers to task – additional rules help keep the difficulty curve from flat-lining.

I freely admit that I got out of my groove after my initial five to six hour push. It wasn’t so much my rules that hindered, but the familiarity I slowly regained of the Alpha Sapphire world and X/Y’s lingering impact. I bought my 3DS almost solely to play Pokemon again, and X/Y, being the quality game that it was, hooked me for a solid month. Alpha Sapphire felt like an extra scoop of ice cream after eating the whole sundae.

When I started the run and writing about it, I had big dreams to do multiple runs and multiple series. The turn out was never that great, but I knew this project would be a hard sale. Most of you don’t even play Pokemon and I struggled to find a good tone between roleplaying and reflecting on the role I was playing.

A few of you supported me and read each post despite the issues. I thank you for that.

However, those dreams have ended. As much as I hate losing, I don’t mind it. More games need a permanent sense of defeat; I bet you that I won’t soon forget the 12 hours I spent on Alpha Sapphire. I don’t plan on trying again or trying with a new set of rules – not even in a return to X/Y.

It was a good experience. Perhaps in a future endeavor, I might draw on what I learned and come up with a way to write a Let’s Play for another game. We shall see.

Once again though, I really want to thank all of you for your support, your comments, your hits, etc. I am most grateful.

Finally, a special nod to all those who have fallen:

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Project #Murflocke: A Final Flame. #Pokemon

Last time on Project Murflocke …

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Revenge is simultaneously simple and complex. It has one direction: it travels singularly and unquestionably toward retribution. Real revenge requires meticulous planning and hard work. I knew this journey would not be easy, but I took it any way because a flickering hope can always be rekindled into a greater fire.

With Bro and Hepha, I knew I’d need to gain levels immediately. There were no more areas left to capture new Pokemon, so my only hope was to hit Norman’s Gym with all the might I could muster.

This meant turning every stone in the land for trainers I had missed or intentionally skipped. This meant a second journey across Johto, only a much more somber one. As I wandered the countryside once again, my thoughts never drifted far from how little a chance I stood.

Being the lowest level, I let Bro take the lead first. We traveled and battled and rested. Of the few close calls we had, Hepha was always there to bail him out.

Then I wandered along Route 117 and remembered all the stress that had once drawn me into the game as a kid. I met a Breeder who wanted to battle me with all six of his Pokemon.

Few things strike fear in my heart as a Pokemon trainer, but seeing six lit up slots versus my two made me truly fear that I’d lose to a simple Breeder. When your team is so small and so limited, even a bunch of significantly weaker Pokemon can pose a threat. It’s a war of attrition and my job was not letting a single teammate fall.

The first Breeder wasn’t a problem. In fact, he was really good experience, and the ease in which I dispatched him gave me a false sense of confidence. Like many battles before, the illusion that I was a master of Pokemon fighting from my prior experience misled me to believe that no mountain could not be climbed.

After resting, I engaged a second Breeder with a second full party. Unlike the prior trainer, this one came to town with my biggest fear: Water Pokemon.

Fuck.

If you aren’t familiar, Hepha is a Fire/Ground Pokemon and Bro a Rock Pokemon. Water Pokemon are strongest against exactly three other types: Fire, Ground, and Rock. In other words, there are no Pokemon I should fear more.

The fight wasn’t as bloody as the Zangoose in my father’s gym. In fact, Bro’s heroic last stand where he barely escaped that fight would be mirrored here. Saving Hepha’s life and prolonging this run a little longer, Bro nearly gave his own for the cause, but held onto his few remaining HP to see the other trainer fall.

It was a brilliant moment, but we were still nowhere near ready to take on Norman. In need of stronger challengers, I took my team north, ascending the mountain from which Hepha had descended, to continue our tale of revenge.

One such challenger ended up being a fellow Numel, like Hepha, who I opted to have Bro fight. It didn’t go well. The beauty of a good Numel is its immense special attack, coupled with the firepower of Fire attacks and the earth-shattering might of Ground attacks. Both of those strengths were potential weaknesses for Bro, but I had to protect Hepha at all costs if I wanted to at least challenge Norman.

Bro inflicted serious damage, but he and my chances were melted away by the enemy Numel. Never as strong as he could be, Bro kept my chances alive – I can’t thank him enough for the honor.

With my final Pokemon, everything seemed so much clearer. I must continue this path of righteous destruction, extract from the land all the might which I can carry, and evolve Hepha into her true form. Only then would I be ready to challenge my Father and exact my wrath.

Combined, Hepha and I lit Johta in a blaze of broken hearts and burnt Pokemon. It didn’t matter what challenges I had to face, I was taking them. Every enemy trainer would meet the wrong end of Hepha’s greatest attacks or we’d both die trying. We descended on resort beaches where we challenged children. We rode the bicycle lane and took out athletes. We scoured the desert for scientists and archaeologists who weren’t smart enough to run.

Hepha was on the doorstep of true evolution. She was ready to take on a new form which would be the weapon worthy of fate’s demands.

And then we met an Ace Trainer whose renown would live long past our own. On his team of nearly equal strength Pokemon, he had this guy:

320Wailmer

In a single attack, his Brine washed away all hope, all possibility, and all potential. He swept Hepha away from this mortal plane and drowned my destiny in a torrent of pain and agony.

Hepha never reached her true potential, nor did I.

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Goodbye, Hepha. Goodbye, Johto.

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Project Murflocke is a written Let’s Play series where I play Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire with certain limitations. Known as a Nuzlocke Challenge, I am also incorporating three community voted rules into the mix. Here’s everything I am self-enforcing.