I'm a popular gaming icon who has recently become unemployed. I first became popular in the early 90's with my badass multiplayer and frenzied explosive action. As time went on, I became significantly less popular, despite my best efforts at recapturing my fans attention by diversifying my games. Racing, Puzzling, Minigames... I tried it all, but nothing seems to work. Now here I am, my company has closed it's doors, I'm out of work.... Why did this happen and what do I do?
- Bummer, man
Diversification was likely your first mistake. Just like every musician wants to become an actor, and every actor wants to have their own band, the urge to diversify when you become popular can be overwhelming. Don't believe me? Just ask everyone's favorite Blue Blur how diversification is treating him. Whether you're known for running fast in ridiculously clunky large red shoes, or dressing up like some weird scuba-spaceman and blowing up your friends and opponents with silly cartoon bombs, that is what your fans want. They don't want to see you in a karaoke game or driving go karts. They're here to blow shit up with crazy cartoon bombs.
As for what do you do now? Well, aside from acting as a cautionary tale for the rest of us, your best bet is to get a guest appearance in someone else's game and try to sell your franchise to another company. Good Luck!
Piddy pida pa pida,
Papidda paddy padiddy pa papa. Paddy papiddy piddy pida a piddy. Pappidy pi pidy apid adiddy. Pippidy paddy pa pi piddypa. Piddy piddy?
- Pa Piddy Patty
Please turn off your Animal Crossing filter and send that letter to me again. Thank you.
I'm a very well known, respected, and well liked game character who has had many successful ventures into different genres. One of which is fighting games. I'm consistently ranked amongst the top characters in previous installments of a certain fighting game franchise, but for some reason, with the recent release of the newest installment of said series, I'm nowhere to be seen. I've always done my best to keep my fans happy, and they've never seemed to be upset with what I've done... so why? Why am I not in the new one?
- Feeling Blue Bomber
I don't know. Sometimes people just do stupid things and lose sight of what works in pursuit of something new. Fortunately, you're still available in the previous fighting games for us to remember you with, and let's not forget the possibility of downloadable content.
So, another early morning Friday with no work, another jaunt to Gamestop's website to salivate over the immense release of games that I will never, ever be able to afford. Only this time, I stop on the front page. Something has caught my eye. At first, I think to myself that it has to be a mistake. Just random coincidence. I look again......
Wait... Is that.. It has to be... Gamestop has incorporated in one of it's sales ad banners what can only possibly be concluded as the lamest excuse for an attempt at copying Mr. Destructoid ever.
Now, I'm no fool. Not every robot is Mr. Destructoid, and I'm not so rabid a fanboy as to go around seeing Mr. Destructoid in everything... but look again. Forget for a moment that the robot in question is about as much like Mr. Destructoid as Kane & Lynch is like an enjoyable game. The robot is right there saying "Sweet". Deja Vu.
I have to say, if mimicry is a form of flattery, then the gang should be suing GameStop for defamation of character. C'mon GameStop. If you're going to steal... at least put some effort into it. Or some color. Or hire an actual artist.
As undoubtedly all of you know by now, on April 15th, Microsoft will be shutting down the online service to original X-Box games. This bitter pill has been somewhat alleviated by Big M's offer of a token amount of points, beta codes, and even an extension on the Live service for 360. Stand up fellas, right?
Well, you see, I kinda have a problem with this.
To begin with, How is it that Microsoft is dictating who gets their special little gift? They are giving these care packages to people because, and I quote, "We realize that you are an avid Halo 2 fan." I'm sorry? Could you please repeat that?
Oh. Okay..... For those of you looking to read Microsoft's "Pot of Gold" Email yourself, this should work for you. Thank you Engadget for that find.
Aside from the Orwellian implications of Microsoft knowing that you are indeed obsessed with Halo 2, let's explore the issues surrounding this matter.
How does Microsoft determine who an "avid fan" is in the first place. When I first heard the announcement that Microsoft would be disowning the online portion of its original X-Box lineup, I immediately loaded up Halo 2 and downloaded all the extra multiplayer maps. Then I played a quick match or two. You see, here's the rub. I suck at playing Halo in multiplayer. Absolute SUCK. I've beaten the campaign for both Halo and Halo 2. I still own both games. I used vacation time to ensure that I was able to get to the midnight launch of Halo 2 and pick up my preordered copy from Gamestop. Waited with a buddy in line for over two hours to ensure that I got it as soon as was humanly possible. I own Halo 3. I haven't picked up ODST yet, but it's only a matter of time. However, due to my inability to not die in multiplayer, I have not logged much time in that mode. I still play it occasionally to see if time or screwing around with a wiimote has made me any better.
But I didn't get a magical email giving me points and a beta and an extension. Microsoft doesn't think I'm an avid enough fan to bother. You see, giving out rewards based on chance is all fine and dandy if you're talking about a contest. But this isn't. Microsoft is giving rewards to people based solely on it's own discretion of who it feels is worthy enough to get it, with no sign of what is required to meet said criteria. How does one prove one is an avid enough Halo 2 fan to qualify if one has no idea what exactly the qualifications are?
Sorry, dude. Not enough hours logged online. You, Sir, are not a big enough fan.
Also, let's not forget that Halo 2 is not the only game to use the Live service. What if I'm despondent over
no longer being able to catfight with other folks in DOA Ultimate? Or perhaps I'm upset over my loss of being able to Pokemon battle with crazed psycho powers in Phantom Dust? Sorry Burnout Multiplayer fans. If you had been into First Person Shooters instead of cars, then perhaps you would have gotten some lovin' from Big M too.
But you see, when we get down to the nitty gritty, while all these things irk me, they aren't the real issue. They aren't the problem that makes me want to cancel my Live account as you read. It's this.
If you purchased a Live enabled original X-Box game, either on disc or through download on the Live service, YOU DESERVE TO GET THE SAME OFFER FROM MICROSOFT THAT THEY ARE GIVING OTHERS.
When we purchased these games, we purchased them with the understanding that all the functionality provided by said game would be supported. When I picked up Halo 2, I don't recall seeing anywhere on the box or in the instruction manual where it was touting its incredible online support any warning along the lines of "Online support can be permanently terminated for this game when we feel like it". We all paid money for these games and part of that money went to the fact that we would be able to use them online.
Microsoft is slighting us not only by ignominiously choosing which players to award based on (I would imagine) the same formula they use in determining the real world value of their monopoly money, but by removing the functionality to begin with. To be fair, they are not the first to do this. SEGA pulled the carpet out from underneath me THRICE with Phantasy Star Online. Once with the Dreamcast and then again with the X-Box, and then finally on Gamecube with CARD Revolution. Needless to say, I'm not touching another Phantasy Star with online capabilities again, and it has made me leery about SEGAs business practices in general. But Microsoft should know better than this. The 360 has something that the Dreamcast did not have. A hard drive and the ability to implement downloadable fixes to games. Costing a bit too much to keep those Halo 2 servers up? Outsource it. Release a downloadable fix that allows you to connect to a third party matchmaking service and/or dedicated servers. Why is this not an option anyway? It's been pretty basic for PC games for quite some time.
Seriously, game companies. FUTUREPROOF YOUR GODDAMN GAMES. The game keeps all of the intended functionality. Fans obsessed with the playing experience of yesteryear get to relive their thrill, and nobody feels screwed over when they don't get chosen to receive a gift of magical space bucks.You get to save on your costs by shutting down or repurposing or whatever. Everybody wins! And for the love of all that is holy, stop expecting all of us fans to be okay with it when you pull this kind of crap. We are your livelihood. Start giving a shit about us.
Oh, Anthony. Your Rev Rant series is often such a great way to invoke thoughtful, meaningful discourse on a good topic. That said, you can imagine my shock to see this: Games as Art.
Seriously, folks. Hasn't this topic been discussed to death, given a Phoenix Down, and then pummeled to death once more? I stayed out of this discussion since that day long ago when Kotaku posted the article on Ebert denouncing the medium, and haven't said word one on it since. I felt that the answer was too obvious to be commented on and that, quite frankly, the topic was pointless.
Not the first time I've been wrong.
IV, not VI... Stupid roman numerals...
Now listen up, kiddos, because this is going to be the first and hopefully the last time I discuss this idiotic debate. Let's start with the term "Art". Webster's defines art as "the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects; also : works so produced". Wikipedia states that "Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music and literature". So to recap, art is by definition a work that is deliberately made to evoke either a sensual or emotional response. Are there video games made to have a sensual or emotional effect? Yes, obviously. Have people had emotional responses evoked when playing video games? Yuh-huh. Was this done through purposeful creative and imaginative skill? Yep.
Now, Anthony talks about video games as a medium, and its intrinsic artistic value compared to other well documented and universally accepted mediums. I, of course, refer to literature, motion pictures, music, sculpture, and so forth.
Oh yeah. Way more emotionally stimulating than any o' them newfangled vidya games.
Part of his argument is that other mediums have a bedrock of artistic work to prove itself. While this is true, video games do have a bedrock. Things such as Flower, Indigo Prophecy, Little Big Planet, and so many more have proven the artistic value of the medium many times over. Also, one has to look at the fact that other mediums have had a great head start on video games, both in time and in development. Considering that some of the other accepted mediums have had hundreds if not thousands of years to develop and to build this so called bedrock, I feel safe saying that video games are coming along better than one might expect.
See? Art is so easy, even a caveman can do it.
I believe that the larger concern for Anthony is the amount of games that are released that he considers base and not of artistic consequence. Specifically, he batters violent and actiony games for being superficial. There are multiple problems with this. Of course, we can begin with the fact that just because something is gory and violent doesn't mean that it doesn't have intrinsic artistic value. Art is, after all, in the eye of the beholder. Also, superficial is not always a bad thing. Passage was a five minute game played in it's entirety by walking to the right. How much more superficial can you get?
Anthony points out that in a year you will get a good handful of artistic games and a boatload of crappy "fun" games that are superficial. I would point out that for every thought provoking artistic movie released, there's fifty horribly ill conceived slasher flicks.
Just don't call it "High Art". We all know what Jason does to potheads.
Now, Anthony places blame on developer laziness. He points out that developers have no interest in trying to further the medium when guts, gore, and violence is all that is needed to sell a game to the general public and earn boatloads of cash. I'd say that this is at least partially true. Like the Motion Picture Industry, video games are a business. But it isn't the developers that are entirely to blame. As with any other business, if there is demand for something, someone will make it. Art games, however, have a tendency to garner unimpressive sales to say the least.
Hey look! A fire sale! See? See? It's funny!
Jaffe counters that while a great many developers would like nothing more than to make a Citizen Cain sidescroller or a Casablanca MMORPG, the issue is how to make it fun. A game simply doesn't sell if it isn't fun to play. I agree, but only to a point. Saying that artistic games just can't be made fun is a cop out. Okami was plenty fun. So were other "artsy" games like Patapon and Indigo Prophecy. Sometimes you have to take a risk, though. That's how all advancements are made, by banking on a risk and trying something new. Besides which, Casablanca? A love story about betrayal, deception and doublecrosses. About intrigue and sacrifice. Hmmm....
Yeah, this game so totally blows. More dialogue than a JRPG!
So in closing, what have we learned today?
We've learned that video games are indeed a viable and in fact already legitimized medium for art, regardless of what blustery overpaid movie critic elitists may have said some odd time ago. We've learned that consumers set a market, not developers, and thus share the blame for.. whatever Anthony wants to place blame for in the next Rev Rant. We've learned that developers like ideas of great artistic endeavor, but apparently have attention spans too short to bother with implementation. We've learned that I like using visual aids often, even though I have a great deal of trouble getting them to format properly.
Most importantly, though, I think we've learned that this topic should be buried deep within the bowels of the earth where it will never be seen or heard from again, because wasting time debating things as subjective as whether or not something qualifies as art is as meaningless as discussing whether or not reality is real.
I leave you with this promise and a final thought. While I will, as always, respond to any comments and criticisms anyone may have to what I've written, I will never initiate any serious discussion on this topic. Ever. Only in response to others and only in extreme cases. Because here is my final thought to you.
In the amount of time it took to read this article, whether you agree with my points or not, you could have been playing video games. Or looking up porn. Or doing something that was actually entertaining. All that wasted time, in the name of debate about something so silly.
Really? Couldn't think of anything better to do with your time. Not a single thing.
I won't lie to you. Bashing Square is one of my all time favorite things to write about. Consider this the first in a series of Square bashing articles, in which I will be voicing my opinion on when and why the gaming colossus fell from grace. Why pick on them, you say? Three dead simple reasons. The quality of their games have been in a steady decline for some time now. A company such as Square, which has set the high water mark for the RPG genre on several occasions should be held to a higher standard. Then, finally, because I find it both amusing and fun.
There will be vitriol. There will be spite. There will not be mercy. But throughout this article, please keep in mind that this is, after all, only my opinion.
What happened to Final Fantasy? Oh, I don't mean the Final Fantasy we have today, I mean the classic Final Fantasy of that rose colored yesteryear. Specifically, what happened to the standard of the JRPG? Turn based menu styled fighting. Square used to be the masters of that particular niche... and then.... something happened.
Final Fantasy used to be all about the old school menu driven turn based approach. Some might say that it still is, but I rather vehemently disagree. You see, one day, Final Fantasy VI was released. Don't get me wrong. Final Fantasy VI is and always will be a classic in it's own right. But it presented an unprecedented paradigm shift in how Square would make future installments of Final Fantasy. It introduced the Active Time Battle. Now you not only had to choose your attack options, but you had to do so in a given timed order, or else the enemy would start attacking again. Not that bad, really. It added a little additional pressure to battles and there's nothing wrong with that. Final Fantasy VI also introduced the advent of direct input techniques for certain characters, such as Sabin's Martial Arts, Setzer's slots, and Cyan's sword techniques. Again, innocent and harmless, right? Just another way to get the player more into the game.
Ha! If only we had known.
With each new installment in the series, Square repeatedly changes the recipe. They slowly evolve the time tested menu driven system to an action oriented one. From advanced direct input techniques in VII to the active boosting of Summons in VIII to the full on removal of turned based systems in XII... Square's intent is clear. Final Fantasy is slowly being morphed from a classic menu driven RPG to an action RPG setup. It's a cool and calculated move, one nefarious step at a time, but the end result is obvious. Here's the kicker. I'm okay with that. I have no problem with Final Fantasy becoming an action RPG- but for one thing....
Square already has an action RPG series. It's called Seiken Densetsu, and it's being pushed out. Square has its new action RPG, and it doesn't feel that it needs another, so Seiken Densetsu, known to many as Secret of Mana, is being rather unceremoniously shown the door. The loss of this series hurts me greatly.
Secret of Mana has always been a very rich and well formed universe in it's own right. It owes very little to the showboat Final Fantasy series, instead drawing upon a wealth of individualism to it's own unique feel. A Secret of Mana game is unmistakably a Secret of Mana game. From the moment you pick one up, you can tell the difference.
Or at least.. you used to.
You see, as Final Fantasy continued to encroach on Secret of Mana's territory, Square had to do something. In their infinite "wisdom", the course of action they chose was to morph Secret of Mana into some other genre, the way they had successfully morphed Final Fantasy. The problem is, they had no clue what genre to aim for. This has led to a series of aberrations that should make even the most novice to the series cry. It started off adapting the series to 3D and reworking it using the Havok system. That failed miserably. Gamers wanted their classic 2D action gaming with the lush and unforgettable enemies and environs. Imagine that. It also didn't help that the game mechanics were poorly designed and missing that signature Squaresoft polish. It comes as no real shock. Square was too busy turning Final Fantasy into Secret of Mana to be bothered making the next Secret of Mana... y'know... good.
Then came a series of blunders. A Dungeon Crawler, an RTS. Seemingly Square wanted Seiken Densetsu to become anything, just so long as it wasn't Seiken Densetsu. Then came the announcement. Due to poor sales, the Seiken Densetsu series would not be made again.
Due to poor sales?
It certainly is hard to imagine that fans of one of the most beautifully conceived action RPG series wouldn't be absolutely thrilled to see their beloved series being pimped out as everything this side of a real time dating sim. Why it's unbelievable to think that they wouldn't go right out and say, "Well, I loved the formula and though all I ask for is more of the same goodness I've been given, sure. I'll go out and buy a real time strategy version, even though I don't care for RTS and the entire feel of the series has been completely changed. Hell, it still has Rabites in it, and therefore it must be Secret of Mana-ish enough for me!"
I lament the shelving of any series before its time, but the cancellation of a masterpiece before it hit its stride is unforgivable. And the fact that its death comes at the hands of its own creators against the express wishes of the fandom is treasonous.
I raise a glass to you, Secret of Mana. I toast to you in loss.
No more Sprites.
No more Mana Spirits.
No more weapon upgrading and leveling.
No more Item Rings.
No more Rabites.
No more Chobin Hoods.
No more Ballooning.
No more Tomato Man.
I raise a glass to you, Seiken Densetsu, and recall memories bittersweet.
This letter is a writ of intent, declaring a pending lawsuit made by our client The 3, 2 Shape, more commonly known as "The 'L' Block", against your client, the game of Tetris. The basis of said lawsuit are as follows:
*Intentional misrepresentation of clients' usefulness in said game. Client is either too tall or too wide to be useful in the majority of situations when a T Block or S Block would suffice. Also as a matter of record, client is too short for majority of situations when an I Block would suffice. This alludes to intent to misrepresent the client as useful in the game.
*Willfully forcing the client onto the player in situations where there is no acceptable place to put the client, causing the player to be forced to miss lines.
*Forcing the client to retain its less useful form when it attempted to change its form to the Right Angle Block of two by two blocks attached at a hinge.
For these infringements against our client and for other similar allegations of defamation of character, our client is seeking reparations in the amount of 260,008,000 points, or roughly 500 points per line of Tetris botched by the average player. Also expected are the inclusion of fireworks, a Russian orchestra, and a rocket launch. The location and destination of the launch are unimportant. If you or your client wish to discuss anything regarding this lawsuit, contact our offices, not our client. Any attempt to contact our client will be viewed as menacing and will be added to the list of charges.
Howard H Miffler
Romanofski, Abiju & Miffler Law Offices