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‘Dragon’s Dogma’ and the Curse of Bitterblack Isle

The expanded release of ‘Dragon’s Dogma’ introduces players to a labyrinth-like dungeon filled with engaging boss encounters.



Since time immemorial, boss battles have been a vital part of video games. A challenging adversary at the heart of a dungeon or the end of a section became the staple of most game genres, with RPGs and other story-driven titles leading the charge. Throughout the years, gamers got to experience a pantheon of memorable boss battles, but few games were as ingenious as Dragon’s Dogma.

From the mind of Hideaki Itsuno (known mostly for Devil May Cry 2, 3, and 4), Dragon’s Dogma is a fast paced action RPG highly praised for its dynamic combat and overly criticized for a poor world design, washed-out graphics, and loose storyline. The project was something Itsuno wanted to work on for years, but the technology necessary to fully realize his vision didn’t exist until the seventh generation of consoles came around.

Unaware newcomers will be welcomed to a limited fauna as well as chimeras, cyclops, and griffins, which provide great a challenge early on. These encounters are awfully common around the world of Gransys and become potentially terrifying as the main objective presented in the beginning of the Arisen’s journey is fulfilled. As the dragon falls, the scenery changes and all sorts of nefarious fiends prowl the vast plains and thick forests of this cursed world, from hell hounds and gargoyles to the stronger gorechimeras. Dragon’s Dogma‘s post-game is refreshing when compared to other RPGs, but it’s not the only thing the title has to offer.

Developed and published by Capcom, the game comes with an expanded version dubbed Dark Arisen. This version (released for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 in 2013 and later in 2016 for Microsoft Windows) includes the DLCs available for the original release as well as a new area, the mysterious and alluring Bitterblack Isle. These ruins, a place forgotten by time, are where Dragon’s Dogma‘s mechanics and designs truly shine as the claustrophobic hallways and expansive courtyards are inhabited by dangerous enemies.

Dragon's Dogma

Cursed halls

Located near the shores of Southern Gransys, Bitterblack Isle is a massive dungeon comprising several floors. Newcomers may first perceive it as an unworthy short DLC-like adventure, but it doesn’t take long until the scope of the place becomes clearer.

The ruins consist mostly of a grid of narrow corridors and vast courtyards. While designs are often repeated, they all have subtle differences that make each floor unique and easily recognizable. The isle’s inner halls present the sort of asset limitations and creativity lacking in Gransys’s overworld, where bigger areas feel linear most of the time.

It’s dangerous to go alone

The architecture and loot are not the main attractions to be found in Bitterblack Isle, however. The extra scenario puts an added focus on Dragon’s Dogma‘s combat by throwing players at increasingly dangerous enemies. The earlier levels may seem easy enough, but it doesn’t take too long until there’s a gap between player skill and the character stats recommended to advance.

Instead of scaling to the character’s stats, sections of the isle are optimized for certain level ranges with lower floors becoming deadlier the weaker the Arisen is. In some cases, the blow of a seemingly ordinary foe or the regular attack of a mage can nearly kill an unprepared player. It’s a place meant for multiple visits throughout the course of the Arisen’s journey or a continuous run once they feel strong enough.

Dragon's Dogma

An eliminator and an elder ogre ready for supper.

Bitterblack Isle becomes available from the start of the game, but visiting it then is a risk as its halls are crawling with elder ogres, garms, eliminators, and other such fiends. Elder ogres and garms, in particular, are attracted to the stench of death and decay, so the more enemies defeated in a determined area, the higher the chances an eerie rift will let out one of the former or a pack of the latter.

These encounters can easily be described as mini-boss battles and they’re far more common than cyclops and chimeras across Gransys. On top of that, specific rooms house actual bosses such as the Gazer, the Dark Bishop, and the Living Armor, all of which amount to memorable fights where the game’s dynamic combat shines even brighter.

Until Death do us part

All these possible boss encounters only become scarier at the sight of a towering cloaked figure bearing an enormous scythe and a ghostly lantern. The Death lurking around Bitterblack isle is an accurate depiction of out own Grim Reaper, albeit creepier.

On the Arisen’s first trek through the ruins, Death appears at specific points and provides a tricky challenge that will most likely result in the temporary loss of pawns. With several health bars, this foe can put its enemies to sleep and land a killing blow with its scythe. Its abilities are also effective against the isle’s inhabitants, being a viable and dangerous strategy against tough enemies.

Defeating Death requires careful prevention and multiple encounters. Despite the greater dangers, accomplishing such a task becomes easier after the final boss of Bitterblack Isle is defeated as Death will appear more often.

Dark Arisen

Bitterblack Isle tells a sad story that sheds some light on the affairs of Arisen and pawns. What transpired before the player character arrived raises questions regarding the role of humans and myrmidons and just how much different those born from the rift are from mortals. The end of the base game is confusing enough to anyone who hasn’t been paying attention, but the storyline in the isle helps explain it.

Needless to say, the last boss is directly tied to the events. The demon Daimon gives further meaning to the story and, on top of that, provides one of the best boss battles in the entire game. His speed demands quick thinking as his skills can overwhelm those too slow or squishy to sustain his blows. It can be a difficult or entertaining fight depending on the character stats, gear, and the player’s skill.

Dragon's Dogma

Daimon in his first form.

Defeating Daimon for the first time concludes Dark Arisen, but much like the base game holds a surprise after the credits: Bitterblack Isle becomes more interesting. There’s no drastic change in scenery, but the upper levels of the labyrinth will be home to foes often found deeper within. Additional mini-bosses such as gorechimeras and drakes will also make an appearance and, as mentioned, Death may spawn at random. Finally, in great Final Fantasy fashion, Daimon makes a comeback with a second phase, delivering a more challenging fight with greater rewards.

With the video game industry leaning toward generic titles with predictable plots and enemy encounters, the way Dragon’s Dogma handles its battles is refreshing—although it’s nearly five years old by now. Be it the fearsome creatures roaming Gransys or the occult dangers of Bitterblack Isle, Dark Arisen is a title for RPG fans and those looking for memorable boss battles should experience it at least once.

Born and raised in Northeastern Brazil, Gabriel didn't grow up with video games as many of his colleagues did. However, his dedication and love for the industry make up for his late start in the gaming world.


Watch the Trailer for ‘The Mandalorian’ the First Live-Action ‘Star Wars’ Series




Thanks to the arrival of the D23 Expo, Disney has revealed the first trailer for its long-awaited Star Wars original series, The Mandalorian.

Created by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), the series is set after the events of Return of the Jedi and follows Pedro Pascal as a mysterious, gun-slinging Mandalorian bounty hunter who navigates the seedier side of the Star Wars universe.

Along with Pedro Pascal, The Mandalorian stars Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Carl Weathers, Omid Abtahi, Werner Herzog, and Taika Waititi. The first season of episodes will be directed by filmmakers like Dave Filoni, Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa, and Deborah Chow.

the mandalorian trailer

Here’s the official description of The Mandalorian:

After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.

The Mandalorian begins streaming on Disney+ on November 12, 2019.

Check out The Mandalorian trailer below.

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Soundtrack Gets a Vinyl Release




While we don’t publish music news or music reviews here at Goomba Stomp, we are huge fans of vinyl and since we cover film, we figured this announcement would interest some of our readers.

Back in 2017, Jordan Peele’s Get Out topped our list of the best films of 2017 and while the year isn’t yet over, there’s a good chance his follow-up Us, will land somewhere on our best of the year list as well. There are many reasons why we love Peele’s ambitious sophomore film including for the suspense, cinematography, performances, and direction, but one thing that doesn’t get enough praise is the soundtrack by Michael Abels. And if you like us, love the original score, you’re going to love this bit of news.

After giving his Get Out soundtrack a vinyl release last year, Jordan Peele is now doing the same for the soundtrack to Us.

WaxWork Records announced the news earlier today and if you’re planning on buying a copy, you don’t have to wait since it is now available to purchase through the label’s website.

The soundtrack, which received a digital release earlier this year, features composer Michael Abels’ score, in addition to songs from Janelle Monáe, Minnie Ripperton and the “Tethered Mix” of Luniz’s “I Got 5 on It” that appeared in the film’s first trailer. The album artwork was created by illustrator Edward Kinsella and features an interactive die-cut mirror board back cover, a heavyweight art print and an exclusive essay from UCLA Professor, scholar, and activist Shana L. Redmond Ph.D.

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Trailer for the Twisted Dark Comedy thriller ‘Villains’




Alter has released the first poster and the official trailer for Villains, the upcoming dark comedy thriller which stars Bill Skarsgård (IT) and Maika Monroe (It Follows) as a couple who rob a gas station and scores enough cash to start a new life in Florida. Unfortunately for them, their getaway plans turn upside down and the young couple end up stumbling on much more than they bargained for.

Villains hits theaters on September 20th and was written and directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen. In addition to Skarsgard and Monroe, the movie also stars Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick. It’s co-produced by Bron Studios, Star Thrower Entertainment, Creative Wealth Media Finance, and The Realm Films. You can watch the trailer for Villains below.

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Beanie Babies: The Collectables with Heart

Toys We Love Spotlight



For our Toys We Love Spotlight, I’m looking at one of my personal favourites: Beanie Babies. I had collected so many of these growing up, and households worldwide in the 90s and early 2000s were sure to have at least one Beanie Baby in their possession (was it even the 90s if they didn’t?). These plushie companions were cute, cuddly, and collectable, so it’s not a surprise that the Beanie Babies craze swept the globe, forcing parents and toy collectors everywhere to dig into their wallets.

Beanie Babies had a few aspects to them that made them stand out from your average plushie. Firstly, they did not have as much stuffing as most soft toys. Whilst some thought that this made them look cheap, it also made them light, posable, and gave them a realistic feel and look. The bear Beanie Babies were particularly good to pose, and this set them apart from run-of-the-mill teddy bears. Another element that made Beanie Babies more unique was their special tag. Each toy had a tag attached which had the toy’s name, date of birth, and a quotation etched inside. The former was something that could have been a risky choice, as although it wasn’t completely taking away the child’s choice of name — there was nothing stopping them from just calling their Beanie whatever they wanted — a pre-selected name can be difficult to sell, as kids can often take great pride and pleasure in naming their toys.

It was a great success, however, and worked as a nice finishing touch for the Beanie Babies, adding a dash of personality and flair (something much needed in the often critically over-saturated soft toy market), as well as making each Beanie Baby feel like their own creature with their own little stories. Adding to that was the wide variety of animals that were available, such as Tiny the Chihuahua, Pegasus the Unicorn or Swampy the Alligator. This means that the desires of each individual child or enthusiastic collector could be catered to (I myself favoured the dogs and bears).

The puppies were my Beanie Baby of choice. They were all such good boys and girls.

The Beanie Babies also had their own way of tackling difficult issues in society, showing them to kids through the guise of a soft toy. I’ll give you an example through my own experience: I had a Beanie Baby that (as odd as it may sound) gave me more of an understanding of the horrors of September 11th. Weird, right? Allow me to explain. I was only just nine years old on that now-historical day when the twin towers in New York were attacked and so many innocent people lost their lives. I had come home from school (it was afternoon time here in the UK when it happened), and I remember my mum watching it on television in complete shock. She had watched the whole thing whilst I’d been at school.

I didn’t really understand what was happening to be honest. Even when I was watching the repeats of the plane crashing into the side of the tower, I was somewhat oblivious the gravity of the situation (though as a nine year old child, I suppose I could be forgiven for that). The news continued to report the tragedy for a long time, and my school held assemblies to discuss the matter. I knew people had died, and that made me very sad, but I remember thinking that people died all the time, so why was this one incident reported on so much? About a month or so after, TY released three Beanie Babies as a tribute to those lost during 9/11. One of these was a Dalmatian Beanie Baby called Rescue, and I wanted him the moment I saw him, not really knowing the true nature of his purpose. My mum obliged happily, knowing what he represented. I remember taking my little Dalmatian with the red collar and American flag on his leg home and reading his tag. It read:

To honor our heroes
who lost their lives in the
national catastrophe that
took place on September 11, 2001.
We mourn for them and express our
deepest sympathy to their families.
God Bless America

Rescue the Dalmatian was joined by America the Bear and Courage the German Shepherd. The Beanies were a set of three released to honor those who perished in the tragedy of 9/11.

I found Rescue in my room recently, and the memories flooded back to me upon reading it again. I remember looking into all the acts of heroism and bravery after reading Rescue’s tag, and that’s when the situation really hit home to me. I looked into the stories of firefighters and first responders and those who had died, as well as all the search-and-rescue dogs attempting to save people among the chaos. As a child, it can be hard to see past your immediate opinion and truly consider the sheer weight of a situation, but with Rescue’s help, I was able to see just how this event was indeed very different to anything I had ever seen before, and how serious it was. It was the first time I felt like I was thinking like a grown up. I looked at the world differently from then on — obviously as I got older, but also from my ability to think harder and search deeper. Honestly, I don’t know if I would have even bothered if it wasn’t for Rescue reminding me of exactly how much was lost on that day.

Rescue, perhaps the goodest and bravest boy of them all.

Beanie babies will forever be ingrained in culture. They are still bought, sold and collected even now and will remain a timeless staple of most of our childhoods. They certainly are for me. Especially you Rescue, the bravest firefighting Dalmatian the world has ever known.

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‘Shenmue III’ Gamescom Trailer Details a Day in the Life of Ryo



The original Shenmue games pioneered the open world genre, in part through their inclusion of many different minigames and side activities. The Kickstarter-funded Shenmue III looks to continue that legacy, as developer Ys Net and publisher Deep Silver have debuted a new trailer at Gamescom 2019 entitled “A Day in Shenmue.”

The developers provided the following description of the trailer via their latest Kickstarter update: “Exploring the town, playing minigames and battling! We hope it feels just how a Shenmue day should!” Sure enough, the footage showcases the series protagonist Ryo participating in a number of minigames, such as a boxing game and a pachinko machine. The end of the trailer also includes a good look at the series’ signature kung fu combat.

Beyond the new trailer, the Kickstarter update also noted that Yu Suzuki, the famed creator of Shenmue, will be present at Gamescom for autograph signings.

After numerous delays, Shenmue III will finally launch on November 19, 2019 for PS4 and PC via the Epic Games Store.

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