Wednesday, December 27, 2017

When Everything Gets Remastered, What Actually Matters?

It's time to face a hard truth: a lot of our favorite games have aged like mayonnaise. Hell, the first two
years of the PS1 are an example of this. Games with outdated controls, ugly graphics, and other relics often necessitate these games being remade to justify them being playable after their console has been rendered obsolete. It may seem like a hypocritical statement by me, a guy who actively avoids most remakes, but in some cases a game getting a fresh coat of paint could be a great thing. One of my favorite games a few years ago was Wayforward's remake of the classic NES game Ducktales. This year, Lizardcube's breathtaking re-imagining of Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap holds that spot and I'm not alone in loving that game. The issue with this trend of spitting out remasters and remakes comes up with the glut of games that got the treatment only a few years after their initial release.
 I knew something was fishy when I saw remakes of Deadpool and DmC: Devil May Cry. Both were released initially in 2013 and saw a re-release in 2015. The dust from the fanboy outrage that we saw from fanboys yelling about Ninja Theory's design decisions regarding the latter's main characters hadn't even settled and the game was getting reissued. That makes no sense to me, but I'm not the decision maker with these publishers and it is abundantly apparent that a slight resolution update is enough for some gamers to give Activision, Capcom, and other publishers top dollar for the same game twice. It's pretty similar to what happens with yearly sports game releases, where we get a minor update and gamers flock to purchase essentially the same game for full retail price every year.
 While I'm very much on team "Stop selling us the same games over and over!" I must admit I've fallen for it. I bought the Zone of the Enders HD Collection and even covered it on this site. I was disappointed with the result, because there was nothing special there. I am excited about getting a copy of the HD remaster of Okami and the complete remake of Shadow of the Colossus has me over the moon with the possibilities of the reworked controller scheme. The thing with the latter of those is that it isn't the same game with a fresh coat of gloss; it's allegedly an all-new experience. I hope I don't get scammed, but I want this in my hands.
 I'm confident that Sony won't push out a subpar remake of one of it's most critically acclaimed first party releases ever, because to be fair, they aren't Activision, Konami, or Capcom. Okami might be the only time Capcom doesn't mess something like this up, as they're about to push the first three
Devil May Cry games out on us again along with a third Mega Man Legacy collection. Konami basically just throws Metal Gear Solid games at us with little actual care since they're a joke now. I just heard that Atlus is readying a remake of its 2011 puzzle game, Catherine. Yeah, we're definitely living in a world where the phrase "everything old is new again" is very true, for better or worse.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Be Careful With The Shooting Nazis In The Face Thing

We live in a strange time. It has been almost a century since the rise of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party, yet we still see people who deny his actions. Many in pop culture creative spaces play Nazi sympathizers as comedy acts or faceless cannon fodder. This is no more an accurate assessment that in video games. Starting with the first Wolfenstein game many moons ago (remember shareware, kids?!) to the myriad of tasty morsels that Bloodrayne consumes without a care in the world through three games, video game developers have always seen real life bogeymen as inspiration for the
fictional ones they depict in pixels. What happens when mainstream media is celebrating men like Richard Spencer for regularly wearing a suit, though? Sure the suit was ill-fitting and the person wearing it is an irredeemable monster, but hey, he's wearing a bow tie and showers so he can't be that bad. The truth is, he's dangerous and playing these very real monsters for laughs is how we ended up in this current sociopolitical climate. Even more so, while some video games may show white supremacists as the monsters they are, some insist on playing them as a joke, and this can be even more dangerous.

A phenomenon in modern gaming has been the rise of online play and with that, interacting with faceless gamers from around the world. This can be an avenue to forge new friendships and rivalries, but in many instances, it's a place where hateful vitriol can flow like water. I have actively avoided playing much online throughout the years because I just don't want to hear it and it isn't even that bad for me. Imagine being a woman, or being gender queer and not being able to hide it if voice or god forbid video chat is enabled in a game. While gamers have found themselves in communities where they can be themselves without fear of violence from those who seek to do them harm, The harsh reality is that gaming runs the risk of becoming even more segregated as the celebration of terrible people in mainstream circles lends to emulation of their behavior in spaces like gaming.

You may ask what all that has to do with the Nazis in Wolfenstein II or the anti-government cult in
the upcoming Far Cry 5. My concern is that as gamers witness events of things like the tragedy in Charlottesville, VA or how systemic racism has ripped Black and Latino communities around the country apart of the span of decades with no real consequences for those responsible will lead to more copycat racists. Folks who would decry their parents or grandparents saying they shouldn't listen to the next big thing in rap music because it's racist yet see no issue dropping the "n-word" at every turn because the word is allegedly ubiquitous because their favorite rapper said it. We have to be careful who deem cool or sympathetic to impressionable members of our society and while there are elected officials in power in America that have a problem saying that Nazis killed six million Jewish people during World War II or news media that gives press coverage to admitted racists, it'll be easy to make Nazis the hero of the next Wolfenstein game.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

And Now A Word About Mega Man 11...

After the departure of Keiji Inafune from Capcom in 2010 and their apparent lack of any caring about what fans wanted thereafter, there was no hope in sight for fans of Mega Man. That was the case until December 4th, when Capcom hit us with a megaton of hype in a single short video. In short...CAPCOM ANNOUNCED MEGA MAN 11 AND BROKE THE COLLECTIVE FANDOM!!! 

I mean, everyone who heard the news was overwhelmed by the warm fuzzy feelings they had. I was excited too, until I saw the game in motion. What I saw took me back to the first footage of that abomination Keiji Inafune announced a little after his departure. Mighty No 9 had all the trappings of a Mega Man game, but something smelled off. As more footage and eventually the finished game got into the hands of gamers, the off smell became a fully rotten egg. Do I think Mega Man 11 will be that bad? Not at all. I can't help but be nervous when I look at the announce trailer, though.

It's pretty obvious whenever Capcom has done too much with the Mega Man franchise, the results aren't that great. Mega Man 7 and 8, which were released on the SNES and PS1, respectively, paled in comparison to what we were used to in the NES games in the franchise. Before you get in an uproar about Mega Man X, Legends, Battle Network, etc Those games did what they were supposed to do on the consoles they originated on, but deviations led to them not being so good. Take for instance Mega Man X7 and X8. Those are easily the worst games with the words Mega and Man on the cover. I'm purposely ignoring that Mega Man Soccer happened, by the way.

My point is, I'm reserving judgment on Mega Man 11 because while it's beautiful and just having a new game in the core franchise that isn't a compilation disc meant to cash in on nostalgia is amazing, I just don't know if I trust the Capcom of 2017. I really hope they prove me wrong, because in all honesty, the best Mega Man experience I've had since 2010 was probably a fan made game where the robot masters were replaced by Street Fighter characters.