Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Word About Konami, Apathy, And Pachinko Machines

Konami doesn't care anymore. The only games they've produced in maybe two years are a single Bomberman game for the Switch, a Pro Evolution Soccer game, and Metal Gear Solid V. Their two most important game makers, Koji Igarashi and Hideo Kojima, abandoned ship after they were seemingly trapped only making the sequels to the same games over and over. The last money I gave Konami was when they released the remastered collection of Hideo Kojima's Zone of the Enders games. I foolishly hoped it would convince the at the time game publisher to push their most celebrated creative mind to produce a third installment to one of his most beloved franchises. Alas, we got no such goodness and instead have been met with shoddy mobile iterations of the companies beloved franchises and Castlevania themed pachinko machines.

I can't speak for anyone else as far as their opinions of video game publishers, but many of the so called AAA publishers are guilty of the "take my ball and go home" garbage Konami has done in recent years. I'm not sure who their current leadership is, but we didn't have these problems with Konami in the 80s, 90s, or even in the last decade. Was every game they released perfect, not in the slightest, but they didn't blame gamers for not buying crappy games and just stop making games altogether. When the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles console title didn't set the world on fire, they borrowed from what worked with the followup. When Castlevania titles felt stale, a creative turn was made and the best titles in the franchise, particularly on the Nintendo DS followed. After a long hiatus of sorts, Treasure was tapped to develop Gradius V. This brought a fresh feel to a tried and true shooter series.

New Konami will give you a Metal Gear zombie game. I don't get it, but it's not my company. I don't make a dime from their decisions, but a lack of quality games released from what was once one of the most heralded publishers in gaming hurts everyone who loves gaming. Konami, Capcom, and other prominent publishers from the late 80s struggle to stay afloat in the age of the also-rans that dominate store shelves. The sad thing is that it's their fault for churning out shovelware much like it's our fault for not supporting good games that get released. Everyone has a role to play in the apathy of Konami, but Konami has to carry that cross. Carry it they will. Right to the trailer for the next Castlevania themed pachinko machine.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Wild Guns Reloaded Has A Fat Female Protagonist And She's Awesome!!

Natsume, as a developer, has always been big on rewarding their small yet hardcore fan base throughout the years. While most know them as "The Harvest Moon people", they are so much more. Their legacy "pre-Harvest Moon" catalog includes some of the greats in the annals of retro action gaming history including "Shadow of the Ninja", "Shatterhand" (published by Jaleco but developed by Natsume), and perhaps one of the most obscure action games of the 16-Bit era, "Wild Guns". For the uninitiated, Wild Guns is a 1994 arcade style shooter in the same vein as "Cabal" or Konami's incredible "G.I. Joe" arcade game. "Wild Guns" quickly became a cult classic and in turn became very expensive in the resale market. Because of the price tag, I had given up hope of getting a physical copy of this game in any iteration, but suddenly, Natsume announced a remake of sorts of the title for PS4 and released a series of trailers for the game as well as the two new characters. While Bullet the dog is fun and cute but not shocking, the other new character, Doris is pretty surprising and actually pretty awesome in a world where some gamers take anything different from the norm as an affront. In reality though, Doris is pretty awesome and also quite important.
The reason Doris is important as a character is not because she's the "power" character of the four, or because she's a
female character. Both of those things have been tropes in gaming for a while, but it is a big deal that she's a visibly fat woman. She wears a crop top and throws grenades as her primary ranged weapon. If that isn't the definition of bad-ass, I'm not sure what is. In addition to being a pretty cool character design wise, her character also lacks the weird trope of being tied to a love interest that tends to bog down a lot of character backstories in games regardless of gender. She's a soldier first, and the mission is supreme above all. So, she has something in common with legendary male gaming protagonists like Sam Fisher and Solid Snake, also filed under bad-ass.

With the addition of Bullet and Doris, the playable roster of "Wild Guns Reloaded" is majority woman. That's a rarity in gaming nowadays. Having capable characters in those roles is a great thing in general but having a fat character in one of those slots can do a lot towards filling representation gaps in gaming for big groups of folks who have been long underrepresented in gaming. Now, if we could just get a small update with a playable person of color...