Anklegators and Crankydiles: As-I-Play Bastion (Part Six)

I made up the “Crankydiles” in the title, but the sentiment goes well with a lot of my attitude about Bastion in my most recent play sessions. This is likely obvious to you, as readers, because of the distance that tends to fall between posts about Bastion, particularly when compared to the steady stream of Rise of the Tomb Raider posts. And yes, I know it’s been a long time since I posted about Bastion, but I’ve gone back to it. I swear, this game I will finish (unlike Borderlands 2, which I’ve mostly been forced to concede that I just don’t have time to finish… kind of like Skyrim).

I’ve said it before—Bastion just isn’t my cup of tea. That said, this time I’ve made an addition to my “gaming set-up” which is making it a good deal more tolerable: an Xbox controller that plugs in to my PC. (Note: My other 360 controller is of the wireless variety, and I would have needed to get an adapter to do this with it. This is a wired controller, which means it has a USB dongle and I can plug it straight into the laptop. I chose this instead of the adapter because my other controller is in the process of dying anyway, and the left stick tends to, well, stick, which means I have accidentally walked off a number of cliffs and into fires—and firefights—because I stopped paying attention and my player-character kept going without me.)

In Bastion, the addition of a controller instead of the old mouse-and-keyboard combo means that moving diagonally is infinitely easier. I’ve gone a whole hour without falling off once! It’s a huge improvement, and if you do decide to play this game, I cannot recommend using a controller enough. It’s definitely making me less of a crankydile.

But back to the story… game… whatever.

The Kid is headed to Rothas Lagoon, which, Rucks tells me, “isn’t the sort of place you go by choice.” Except I clearly have (sort of). Experimentation with the buttons on the controller suddenly teaches me that my fists are a fighting option I didn’t know I had (in addition to my melee and ranged weapons). Interesting. It seems like that’s something someone should have mentioned at some point.

This puzzle involves the Kid winding his way through a swap, being attacked by the anklegator every time he has to run through tall grass, which is fairly often. Thankfully, the controller gives me a lot more control over his movements, so it isn’t half as annoying as it would have been with a keyboard. The interesting thing about this level is that the ankelgator (Ann—Ann the Anklegator) has the shard in her lair, and the Kid is able grab it before the battle even starts. Rucks then narrates that the Kid has to “finish her off,” so, okay, I proceed to dodge-fight-dodge-fight Ann the Anklegator.

After a while of this, Rucks says she’s “starting to get annoyed,” but then I notice that the skyway portal activates, before Ann is dead. Well, okay, so there are those fun little blue things that drop whenever I kill an enemy, but the game just gave me permission to leave before the fight is over. You can bet your britches that this crankydile is getting the heck out of anklegator town. Rucks says, “The Kid decides to let Ann live, after all.”

I’m actually feeling pretty good about this—I’ve had to destroy Pompeii-style bodies before, and kill gods, and kill the Squirts (except the one that loves me and lives in the Bastion), and I’ve been told that they don’t really mean me any harm, they’re just looking for a place to live, too, so I’m pleased that I’m able to get out of a fight without killing an animal that has no choice in the matter. I still stole her shard.

I also stole her egg, but Rucks tells me that anklegators don’t care for their young, anyway. Maybe I’ll get to raise it and ride it through the swamp or something. I also acquired a really nifty spear.

Okay, I do get to keep the anklegator! When the Kid approaches Zia to ask about the anklegator, Rucks remarks that “That anklegator is a real crazy one. ‘Course, so is the gal you asked to look after her,” and then an anklegator horn pops out of the ground—I can walk over to it and tell it to “Come!” and it follows the Kid around Bastion (until I tell it “Stay!”)! A pet anklegator. Awesome. I shall name it Archimedes the Anklegator. Much more classy than “Ann.”

Since I’m actually not feeling all that much like a crankydile, I press onwards, to Point Lemaign, which is apparently the reason Zelandia is (or was) the wealthiest city in the world, according to Rucks. The thing which makes this level different is that there’s a moving walkway (a train rail, according to Rucks) that carries the Kid through a gauntlet of ranged enemies, birds, and swamp gas. It’s… “interesting.” At the end of it is another Ura survivor, whom—according the Rucks—the Kid initially mistakes for Zulf (since clearly all Ura males look the same from the back).

Instead, Rucks narrates: “‘This is for you,’ says the man,” and then the screen goes black to the sound of a punch. I guess he’s not a friend. “When the Kid comes to,” Rucks says as I wake up, “the man is gone. But somethin’ else is there.” It’s a note, sealed in an envelope with wax. “The only words the Kid recognizes on that there parchment are ‘For Zia.’ Well, what’s a Kid to do?” I’m pretty sure the answer is “Give the note to Zia,” but maybe I’m just crazy.

The note tells Zia that she has to go East to find out what caused the Calamity. I really kinda hope that this is the sequel, because this crankydile doesn’t know how much more of this she can take.

Back at the Bastion, there’s also a stew pot in which Zia makes her “famous cookin’,” which promptly sends the Kid into a food-coma dream. It takes me to another dream-world, this one telling Zia’s life story while the Kid fights off enemies.

Back at the Bastion, there are apparently still more shards to collect. Oh, goodie. Off to Coleford Cauldron, where the Kid gets a flamethrower! (Well, okay, it’s a bellows that shoots fire, but I’m calling it a flamethrower anyway.) I like flamethrowers. The level itself is otherwise unremarkable—set things on fire, they die, I keep going. I didn’t even fall off once!

The egg I got to bring back this time is from a Pecker (no, not that kind of pecker, get your mind out of the gutter). He will fly around (“Fly!” and stop when told, although Rucks warns me to “watch your fingers around that little guy”) the Bastion, as well. Apparently, the Bastion is some sort of Zelandia-ark (except only with one of each animal, instead of two): I have a Squirt, a Pecker, an Anklegator, a god… you know. Just the usual assortment of pets.

I’ve had enough for now, but the moral of the story—this time—is that one really ought to play Bastion with a controller. I’m so much happier playing this way…and so much better! So, despite the title, I guess there wasn’t a crankydile at all…

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