Saturday, August 27, 2016

Overrated Video Game

            I have not been posting nearly enough this year and I want to steer back from that.  To that end I have found a 30-day blog challenge and will be writing out entries, hopefully I can get all thirty days without any breaks, and if I manage to do that (since August has 31 days) I will think of an additional entry to write about.  I have done a 30-day challenge before, it for movies, but that was a while back, feel free to read those too if you like.

            Today is day 27 and the topic is “Overrated Game”.
            When I got this I remembered two popular games that I played not too long ago.  Both games had things that attracted me and both immediately ran into issues that killed my interest.  Each had trappings, both of setting and gameplay that I figured would have made them sure fire hits to me… Not so much the case, these games were “Deus Ex: Human Revolutionand “Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch”.
            “Deus Ex” is the story of a cyborg cop in a near future dystopia.  It is nothing like Robo-Cop.  I like this sort of Science Fiction and would point to “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex” as one of my favorite animes ever and it shares NUMEROUS story elements with this game.  But, 30 minutes in and I was already seeing flaws in the logic of the game and I never came back from that.  I also wrote a blog on why I dislike it, and while I consider that bit of writing to be weaker on my part it is still my opinion.
Nothing like Robo-Cop.  A lot like the Matrix.
            “Ni No Kuni” is the story of a young boy journeying thru a fantasy world in hopes of finding the power to resurrect his recently deceased mother.  It has a great art style, a cute tone, and apparently has a bit of a sense of humor about itself down the line.  I have come to understand that “Ni No Kuni” is monstrously long and I ended up chaffing at some of it about 40 minutes in.  I already wrote a long blog detailing my initial time with the game, it is an older blog entry but it still reflects my opinion on the thing. 
It looks really nice.
           Really the ostensibly good things about these games make me want to give them another shake, but as of right now I consider them both overrated because they did not sweep me off my feet.

            So, what is another game that I tried out, and was disappointed by even though it was a successful product from the perspective of the creators or the public at large?  Guess I am going to be talking about Pokemon again.  A franchise I kind of thought I wouldn’t have to talk about again, but here I am.
            “Pokemon Go” is the most overrated thing ever.  It is a middling bit of pop-software utilizing a popular (I would even say timeless) intellectual property to appeal to a much wider audience than it has any right to.  Let’s try and quickly talk about a few different things and I will link to some videos that I think better explain my issues and are from interesting online personalities.
I will give it this, The 3D models of the Pokemon are great, and belong in a good game.
The mechanics in the game are weak.  There is no player to player combat, combat is a twitchy unintuitive mess, and having to capture 10,000 pokemon to level up only the same type of pokemon via grinding the unwanted critters into candy is stupid.  Why are the micro-transactions for materials so obnoxious?  There are better ways to make games like this.
Beyond the fact that the game is just bad, the management and technical limitations of it are stupid, how many times has this thing crashed, froze up, or just failed to accommodate the audience?  The need to keep the game always running is a crime against phone batteries everywhere.  What was the thinking behind how time and walking distances were considered?  I have a pedometer on my phone, why does this thing need so much power?

            Now let’s go one step past those things.  Even if all the technical problems were fixed, and you ignore the junk gameplay, let’s talk about the philosophy of the Pokemon brand.  Pokemon is a game about capturing creatures and thru training and building a repore with those monsters a player can allow those creatures to grow to their full potential.
Pokemon has always been a game about cultivation, not only of quantity but of quality.  “Pokemon Go” is not that and I can think of no better way to illustrate this but by pointing to the very start of the game.  When you capture your first pokemon (assuming you can figure out how as the tutorial is garbage) your starter is laughably weak, and it is a rarer sort of pocket monster.
It doesn’t matter if you give your starting pick a nickname or build any sort of digital pet attachment to it “Nintendogs” style.  All sentiment is meaningless because if you ever manage to find another pokemon of the same species, that new one will almost certainly be stronger, and your original pokemon will not have advanced one bit.  What will happen is you will flush your starter pokemon down the toilet to be turned into candy, and you will replace it with the new one.
You cannot train any of your pets, there is no mini-game for that, there is no combat system for that, the only thing that gains levels is your avatar and that has never been an aspect of the series.  Being the very best like no one ever was in pokemon was always reflected thru your pokemon, not thru the number associated to your avatar.  So there is a tension that exists in “Pokemon Go”.

Your character now advances in level by collecting MORE pokemon, and your pokemon are better not because you worked with them, but because you were a higher level and thus able to catch them.  It is a lottery, the more you play the more games you are bound to “win” but think of how many times you lose, how many pidgeys and rattatas you have clogging up the works, those are the lemons your slot machine kicked back.  There is no value to the gameplay component of this “game” because you could replace the thing with a random number generating slot machine and have roughly the same effect.
Also, the fashion choices of all the human characters are shitty and stupid.

Your choices are meaningless.
Your sentiments unfulfilling.
Your victories are not your own.

(Also, this thing has “fad” written all of it.)

One final thing.  The teams.  I don’t get it.  Every team that has appeared in the games prior have been villains.  You could say that the teams represented a loss of individuality, that pokemon was in part an act of self-expression thru the infinite possible combinations and moves that could be learned by the pokemon you trained.  While a team is more about following orders and working toward a collective goal (or in “Pokemon Go” a mob goal).  Also, people are weird about it online.  Like the Harry Potter houses only more obnoxious.  I hate this crap stinking up my feed.
I don't get it.
Here is a 30-minute video from CR! about some of the game’s limitations and some suggested fixes.  And this is a 10-minute video from Jim Sterling about the positives and negatives of the game.  And here is a parody song by Il Neige for the game.

            Perhaps you disagree with me.  Perhaps you like “Pokemon Go”.  That is fine, plenty of people like slot machines.  But what game do you think I should have put down as being “overrated”?  Feel free to call me a tit in the comments below.


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