NOTE: This review will contain mild spoilers and then will break into major spoilers after the main review. I will make a break in the article to note where the major spoilers start.
I was admittedly worried in the weeks leading up to the release date of Kingdom Hearts III. I mean I’ve been burned several times in the last five years alone from games making a major comeback. The most obvious one for me was Mass Effect: Andromeda, a game that I was 100% positive at the time, that it couldn’t fail. Not only did it fail, it crashed and burned to the point that I’m not sure I can trust BioWare ever again. So with Kingdom Hearts III being not only a similar situation, but one with an even larger gap in time between the last game I played from that series and the game I was about to play.
So when I finally held the copy of the game in my hands, there was a hint of doubt along with the massive amount of joy I was feeling. Then I plopped in that disc, hit ‘New Game’ and the train started a’rollin’!
From the moment the intro cutscene started playing, hearing that orchestrated version of Utada Hikaru’s “Don’t Think Twice”, I felt every bit of nostalgic emotion flooding back into me. I may not remember exactly how I felt playing the original PS2 games, but I felt all the memories of those two games returning back to me. It truly was a “shiver up my spine” level moment and served to pump me up for the 50+ hour journey I would go on.
To put it simply, Kingdom Hearts III for me was a 14-year long wait that was well worth the patience I somehow mustered. With the main story completed and I’d estimate around 75% of the entire game completed in terms of content, I have no problem saying that this game not only was worth the wait, but lived up to any and all expectations I had for the game. That’s not to say it’ll live up to your expectations or anyone else’s mind you, but for me as someone who has learned not to over-hype myself, the game does a damn good job in every single way.
I didn’t play any of the side games really in between KH2 and KH3. I gave Birth By Sleep a try, but I’ve always had a problem getting into handheld games, so I struggled to stay interested on the PSP. Had the game been available later on through the PS TV (if it was, it’s only digital and I didn’t buy a single digital title for that device), I might have given it a shot, same with 358/2 Days, but the interest wasn’t there. So I’m looking at the differences in the series from the PS2-era games and this one. And boy oh boy does the game improve on so many things.
First of, MY GOD THE GAME IS GORGEOUS!!! Timing it perfectly, the game came out just before I moved out to my new apartment, so I started the game on a small 24″ 720p TV and moved to a 53″ 1080p TV, so I’ve seen both levels, aside from 4K, cause good lord that’s still expensive for my budget and at this point there’s no reason to be upgrading to a PS4 Pro anyways. Regardless, as I set before, HOLY FREAKING HELL THIS GAME LOOKS AMAZING!!!
This really hits home in the Disney worlds. Working on the Unreal 4 engine, I can’t imagine playing the older games ever again after seeing how the various worlds look today. Out of all of them though, I couldn’t have been more awestruck than in the Toy Story world, specifically the first time you leave Andy’s house and see the world outside. It really hits home that this is what a current-gen Kingdom Hearts game looks like, after countless games on handheld and mobile devices.
In most cases though, the game transitions between all these worlds seamlessly, mostly retaining the core look of the game, while altering slightly for most worlds, except for the Pirates of the Caribbean world, which has a much more realistic look, aside from Sora and company, of course. That world is also a marvel to look at. Speaking of which…
Since I’m going to talk about the gameplay, might as well start with the bit I’m going to remember the most. The Pirates of the Caribbean world really shows how much the series has evolved. No longer just world after world of smacking around endless respawning waves of Heartless (not that I ever had a problem with that), with small rooms that needed separation through short loading screens. This world alone is massive for what you’re used to in Kingdom Hearts, akin to a fraction of the entire world in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, which the world is basically quite reminiscent of. Ship battles, islands to explore, that world has become in my opinion the most memorable world in the series thus far through its gameplay. And it’s not the only unique one, the Tangled world has some interesting ideas with exploration, though I wish they’d done a little more, the Toy Story world has mechs you can pilot in the world once you enter the toy store that functions as the main dungeon there, hell even the Monsters Inc. world, that I figured I’d just want to breeze through, it ended up being a lot of fun with its various little quirks, like gliding across rails and various doors to go from place to place.
But anyways, enough world gushing, now to gush about the gameplay. In terms of traversing the worlds, not much has changed in that regard. You still walk, run, jump and eventually through leveling up, gain the ability to glide. Oh and I guess there’s the ability TO RUN UP WALLS! It’s the lone notable change in movement and yet it adds so much to each world. Rooftops are easily accessible (see the Big Hero 6 for the primary example of that), battles can actually be waged completely above ground and the overall verticality makes each world feel a lot bigger than the worlds of old, where at best you can jump up to a second floor. Now you run as high up as skyscrapers. I guess there’s also improved underwater fighting, as you see in the Pirates of the Caribbean world, and it is certainly better, but after a small usage of it in the final boss battle, I kinda wish they’d just erased it. Underwater + Kingdom Hearts has always been a bit of a struggle.
The battle system overall however, is no struggle at all. In fact, I’m amazed just how improved everything is. Aside from the absolute fluency through the entire game (never noticed any major framerate drops), the chaotic fighting is very much still around and better than ever. More moves, more abilities, more available options, more strategy (that I don’t use), more fun. Smaller changes of note include three sets of 4 shortcuts, making it easy to organize spells, summons and items without having to go digging through the menu during the heat of battle. You can also cast spells in the air, which is especially helpful during your constant need to heal. MP is also a little different, as battle spells use portions of MP, while a Cure spell or summon takes the entire bar and puts it in a cooldown mode until it refreshes your bar to the full amount. Which means if you can stay out of trouble, you won’t be chastising yourself for not buying one more Ether or Elixir. They’re all nice touches, helping things along while other improvements do the heavy lifting.
For example, Keyblades actually have meaning throughout the entire game. With the ability to upgrade each and every Keyblade, every weapon is viable if you want it to be. Though the Ultima Weapon is back and is still far ahead of the rest, all the other Keyblades are worth something, depending on your style of play. They all also come with special transformations, kind of like the various Forms from Kingdom Hearts II. For example, my favourite Keyblade, the “Favorite Deputy” has three forms, the first being the default Keyblade, the second being a hammer and the third being a drill. I also enjoyed the Pirates of the Caribbean “Wheel of Fate”, especially for its second form, the spear-wielding “Highwind”, naturally intentionally named after Final Fantasy VII party member, Cid Highwind. I didn’t try every Keyblade mind you, specifically the ones geared for magic users, but they all have their quirks. Hell, even the Winnie the Pooh Keyblade has a form that you can use to attack while using the Dodge Roll ability. It’s awesome!
The lone complaint I have is in the extra attacks you can have during battle. Through Goofy, Donald and the Disney party member you get in each world, there’s bonus attacks you can activate, and they’re all fine. It’s a different bonus attack that causes a bit of an issue with me, that being the “Attractions”, which are essentially summons you gain from landing an attack on a specified enemy, which summons a Disney park attraction such as the tea cups, or the pendulum-swinging Pirate Ship. At first, they’re absolutely fine and fun, and in a way they still are, but the problem is that they’re very easy to get and break the flow of battle. I played on Easy mode as well and man oh man are they overpowered. You can’t turn them off either, so the only way to not use them, is to simply ignore them and let the timer run out, which is an eyesore having to stare at that timer for a good 30+ seconds. It’s certainly not a deal breaker, but they could’ve either reduced the amount of times you can pick them up, or at the very least take them out of boss battles. They feel out of place there.
Lastly, the story. Without major spoilers (which I’ll have further below after I end the main review), the story is about what you remember from Kingdom Hearts games. They’re a total mess, you get lost over and over again, and yet you’ll still love the majority of it. The Disney worlds are large in part either re-tellings of the subject material or in Big Hero 6’s case, an original story, post-film. They’re perfectly fine, though the Toy Story and Frozen worlds each miss a great opportunity that could’ve really set them apart from the rest, which again I’ll get into in the spoilers section later on.
The main story however, is certainly a challenge, especially to those not familiar with every bit of lore the series has had. Even after watching videos that tell every ounce of detail I missed in games outside of the PS2-era games, I found myself lost and confused a number of times. Though admittedly, I can’t distinguish between the times I was lost because I didn’t know the material, and the times I was lost because the villains always spoke in riddles. However in the end I did find myself catching up and by the final world of the game I understood everything I had been working towards and thus there were two scenes back-to-back that nearly brought me to tears.
This game closes a lot of stories, ties up a lot of loose ends. This is the end to the “Dark Seeker Saga” with Master Xehanort and Organization XIII, but certainly not the end of the series. There are two major cutscenes at the end that show that we are far from anything being over. Sora’s journey may have only just begun. In the end, I felt satisfied with the ending, a little underwhelmed by the final boss battle, but not to detract from anything. I was left just wanting a tiny bit more.
Like I said at the top, this game was well worth the wait. Massive improvements, a gorgeous looking game, though a few bumps in the story. Which quite honestly, is exactly what Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 were. They were never perfect and I didn’t expect KH3 to be either. What I wanted was a game that I felt was at par with KH2 and I feel I got just that. I honestly can’t tell you which is better, I feel both games offered the same level of emotional value, the difference is the kind of emotions. At age 17 and now 31, I treated the two games differently, KH2 was a wonderful achievement, while KH3 was a massive flood of nostalgia. Neither feel better than the other, they just offered different feelings for me.
The important thing is that both are worth your time, so if you’re a veteran to the series, this game isn’t a disappointment in any regard. And if you’re new, I think this game is still worth looking at. I’d tell you to take a look at the re-packaged older games that are being offered, but if you don’t want to go through 100+ hours of content before playing this game, I think there’s still plenty to enjoy. Just watch a video about the story up to this game so you don’t get too lost and you’ll be fine.
I waited more than a decade for this game and now that it’s over and done with, I cannot wait to see what’s next for one of my favourite series in gaming.
***MAJOR SPOILERS INCOMING!!!***
All right! Let’s get into all the juicy stuff, shall we?!
Who called this son of a bitch being Luxu?! I mean if there’s anything that shocked me right off the bat, it was finding out that Xigbar is the apprentice that the Master of Masters gave that giant black plot device, I mean box to.
By the way, let me make this perfectly clear, I have a vague understanding still of the lore that will be making this new storyline with the Master of Masters in the future games. I know little about him, the six apprentices and other pieces of information relating to that part of the series’ lore. So this first scene was a bit of a wash for me, as I admittedly didn’t get most of what they were saying, though I imagine most of it is the game’s love of speaking nonsense and riddles. Though I’ve seen various hints to what’s to come, like for example the seven pieces that Eraqus put on Xehanort’s side of that game board containing the seven symbols of the aforementioned Master of Masters and his six apprentices, meaning those seven may be our villains in the next game or set of games, depending on how deep this goes.
The secret ending, or the “Yozora” ending is what really intrigues me. I mean, that world is either a The World Ends With You World that would likely mean a DLC sidestory, in my opinion…OR THE NEW GAME WILL HAVE US PLAYING IN OUR OWN WORLD!!! Either way, I’m stoked to see where this goes, but I have to imagine there must be a connection with the Verum Rex game that we see in the Toy Story world and/or The World Ends With You, so I’m more inclined to think this will be either DLC or a small side game.
I mentioned I nearly cried twice during the time I spent playing this game. This beautiful girl is one of the two things that made me well up a bit. The first was Terra’s return, just seeing the three of them together again and especially seeing Aqua truly happy again for what was more than a decade for her, that meant a lot, even if I didn’t know much of the story.
But Xion coming back, being revealed as one of Xehanort’s new Real Organization XIII members, that was a big moment. And then once Roxas made his triumphant return, that was it for me. Watching Xion absolutely break down as not only did she finally see Roxas and company again, but people remembered her, she was no longer a forgotten shadow. Those two moments were awesome and especially being back-to-back like that.
Lastly, I wanted to talk about a few missed opportunities the game had. Right off the bat, HOW DID THEY FUCK UP A POTENTIAL BOSS BATTLE WITH A DARK BUZZ LIGHTYEAR?!!! How awesome would that have been, especially considering this game really went out of its way to not have you fighting Disney villains aside from the Titans in Olympus? It seemed all but set in stone that you were going to have to face Buzz after he got possessed and yet they just made it so that you brought him back to the good side and then faced another big Heartless boss. It was still a good boss fight, but man oh man could’ve a Buzz Lightyear boss battle have been awesome!
Secondly, the Frozen world really fucked up by not having Elsa being your party member. I thought after showing that she could defeat Heartless with her magic, she was a shoe-in to be your party member in the world. Instead, you get shafted with the snow golem she creates to guard her castle and his bonus attack is meh at best. Massive missed opportunity there.
Finally, let’s address there being no Final Fantasy characters at all during the entire game. Unless there’s going to be some DLC arena that includes another ass-kicking from Sephiroth, while I don’t mind there not being a Final Fantasy presence in the story, it really does feel like we’re being cheated out of content with no one being around. Leon, Aerith, Yuffie, Tifa, Cloud, Sephiroth, even Yuna, Rikku and Paige, how are none of them in there after being around for so long?! And come on, it would’ve made so much sense for Cindy to be your Gummi ship mechanic!!!
So that’s everything from me here, folks! If you’ve got anything to say about the game, or if I missed something really important, leave a comment below!
Just a quick post, stemming from a comment at the Paris Fan Festival from the director and producer of Final Fantasy XIV, Naoki Yoshida:
“I’d like to see a Final Fantasy that is straightforward fantasy, one that doesn’t have much machinery, and with no mecha in it.”
Given how so many RPGs in general as of late are focused a little too much on the technology side of things, take the last few single-player Final Fantasy experiences for example, I am more than okay with this. It’s not to say that I don’t want to see a more tech-based Final Fantasy, but I think it’d be nice to go back to the classic setting that the series was first known for.
My first ever Final Fantasy game was Final Fantasy IV (or Final Fantasy II as it was known at the time in North America) and the game is definitely far more set in a fantasy world with fantasy elements. Sure there are airships, a spacecraft that gets you to the Moon and a hovercraft, but in this game, you are a knight who goes from town to town, castle to castle with a bard, several mages, a dragoon and other non-technology required classes. It was an incredible sight to me as a kid, I was seeing things I’d never heard of, nor seen before. I can’t imagine what my reaction would’ve been if my first FF game was the newest one in Final Fantasy XV and the first thing I do, is push a freaking car that ran out of gas.
Again, not to say I don’t want to ever see games like FFXV ever again, I think it’s just time that a lot of developers go back to that absolute fantasy era. Most RPGs that claim to be in a fantasy era are either taking from modern day technology or future technology, or they’re taking from our own past history and adapting that into a fantasy RPG. I don’t want stuff I know about or see on a daily basis, I want the awe and suspense of seeing things that don’t exist today, nor have ever existed.
I want to see floating cities in the sky, I want to see magical spells that defy all scientific knowledge. I would love to sit down and play a game where everything I know is thrown right out the window and everything I see challenges my brain not only to freak out about how awesome these things are, but make sense of it all.
After all, is it really a “fantasy” if I’ve seen everything and understand it?
NOTE: This will be a spoiler-free article in terms of story.
As of writing this post, I’m just shy of 10 hours into the game. I’ve been slowly going through the story, having fun collecting things, messing around, etc etc. I’ve just arrived at my third world, the story really hasn’t started to show its hand yet, but the nostalgia factor is what’s keeping me running at full speed right now.
The moment I hit start and got the orchestral version of “Don’t Think Twice”, everything hit me all at once. All those emotions when I was in my mid-teens, playing the first two games. The music, the visuals, the combat, it all came back to me, like it had never left. Kingdom Hearts was back and not only was it back, but it hadn’t compromised its original state. Sure, it’s added more special moves, newer worlds and more, but the core of the series is still very much there. I don’t feel like I’m playing “the new and improved” Kingdom Hearts, I’m just playing an improved Kingdom Hearts.
First off, the graphics. Holy fucking shit is this game gorgeous. The mixture of current-gen limits, mixed with the vibrant, anime-like visual style that the series has always had, it looks absolutely incredible. In particular, the third world I’ve landed on, the Toy Story world, looks unbelievable. It definitely gives me the same reaction the trailers did, it legitimately looks like I’m playing a game within the confines of the film series.
The music is also very much the same to how it’s always been. Hearing familiar music from the first world of Olympus brings back the nostalgia, but also hearing this new orchestra version of “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” in the Toy Story world, it gives me an irresistible desire to have the biggest smile on my face at all times. But then again, when has Yoko Shimomura disappointed us?
Lastly, the gameplay. What can I say? They made it bigger and better. Wall running, more special moves, actual boss mechanics that isn’t just “hit this spot, then hit this spot” or just smacking the shit out of him. The Rock Titan as you saw in the trailers is a great example, there’s a lead-up to the boss, rather than just fighting a giant rock out of nowhere. The fighting is quicker, more chaotic, with more options that should make me so much better at the game, but instead I still get hit by everything cause I’m not paying attention to shit. I’ve gotta say, not that it would’ve been hard to top the gameplay of a PS2 game, but the fighting in KH3 is easily the best the series has ever had.
Hell, even the Gummi Ship sequences are kinda fun now and they’ve never been for me. There’s more exploration to these sequences, little collecting here and there, it adds just enough to be a pretty decent improvement, but still has a lot to be desired. I don’t like how there’s just one enemy alone in a massive range on the map and can only be attacked if in close proximity, to which it takes you away from the open space and resumes the classic sequence-driven fight. This should’ve been an open world with enemies littered around the map (apart from the couple ones that are situated on asteroids and don’t move at all) that you’d be fighting regularly as you flew around. But it’s still better than what it used to be.
So yeah, I’m really happy that I can say with a straight face that Kingdom Hearts 3 thus far, has lived up to what I had hoped for. Now I’ve seen many different reactions from people and I think they may have overhyped themselves in comparison to myself, though I’ll obviously have a more finite opinion once I get to the end of the game. But for now, it’s certainly what I wanted and I’m so relieved that this is the case.
Though admittedly listening to Haley Joel Osment, who is two months younger than me, still voicing a tiny teenager…it’s a little odd now.
I love the Mortal Kombat series. I have loved it since the very beginning, tried to enjoy the series as much as I could during the 3D days and then continued to love it again once the complete overhaul that was Mortal Kombat (technically MK9) on the 360 and PS3.
But since the past game Mortal Kombat X and now with the reveals of the upcoming Mortal Kombat 11, I’ve been noticing something that I don’t quite like, nor do I understand. It’s not a deal breaker necessarily, as when it comes to the game, I’m more concerned about the mechanics and the gore, because that’s what the game is supposed to be, but there’s one thing that they’ve changed recently that seems way too coinciding with the current political climate.
So look, I’m just going to say it flat out. I am 100% in favor of what Mortal Kombat used to have with specifically its female cast. Yes, I’m talking about the overly sexual outfits.
I should’ve noticed this change right away when for the first time EVER, Mileena’s outfit was very conservative. Anyone who’s played the series before the MK9 comeback knows that Mileena has always been the sex symbol of the franchise, which is pretty ironic given she has the ugliest face in the game, aside from Baraka.
But in MKX, she shows so little skin in comparison to every game before that, in retrospect it’s shocking I didn’t really pay attention to it when I first played the series. She no longer has the one-piece “ninja” outfit that has several other characters wearing similar if not the same gear with a different color palette. Those girls included Kitana, Jade, Frost, Khameleon, Tanya and even Skarlet, who at one point was a glitched red colorization before becoming a real character in the series.
And now in the past game and the soon to be released MK11, all of these girls have been changed significantly to alter their outfits in order to show less skin, while several male characters have largely remained the same. Hell, the new male character Geras? Shirtless.
Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the outfits that we’ve seen characters like Jade, Sonya and other female characters aren’t cool, I will never do that. But why all of a sudden are outfits that are 10, 20, some almost 25 years old now, being completely erased? In a genre that sees characters have several different outfits, why does it appear that the ones that your average third-wave feminist would immediately scream at, they’re the only outfits truly affected?
I mean take a look at Skarlet for example, hence why she’s the cover image for this article. This is what she first looked like in the 2011 redesign. Is it over-the-top? Sure, but this is Mortal fucking Kombat we’re talking about here. This isn’t a “realistic” game, nor is it a realistic world. But now, in MK11? She looks like she’s preparing for a winter storm, not a fight. And another thing, REALLY?! YOU GAVE HER A PIXIE CUT AND YOU THOUGHT THAT LOOKED GOOD?! SHE LOOKS TERRIBLE!!! Skarlet looks more masculine than feminine now, are we seriously going to start playing that game?
I’m not saying every character needs to be sexy, don’t get the wrong idea here. But why are characters that have always been sexy suddenly not sexy? Is the solution not to make new characters that aren’t automatically fan service characters? Isn’t that what D’Vorah is? Cassie Cage and Jacqui Briggs? You are laying down a foundation of new characters, so if you want to make characters who aren’t revealing 75%+ of their skin, you can do that. But don’t erase the characters you had, Skarlet was fine as a sexy, powerful assassin, same with Kitana, Jade and especially Mileena, who I’m pretty sure at this point got killed off in MKX so they could show to the world they’ve “changed”, by taking out the most sexualized woman they had.
So this all goes back to the leftist, feminist approach of we can’t sexualize women in video games. So once again I will say it, why the fuck not?! This isn’t a realistic, present day game, this is a game that features several different realms with ridiculously over-the-top fantasy setting characters, such as an undead ninja, a man who controls ice, a sorcerer who takes people’s souls, several characters with more than two arms, a minotaur, a man with bionic arms, a motherfucking dragon, you get the idea, right?
This isn’t real, who are you to say that this world doesn’t have a different cultural and societal approach? How do you know wearing clothes akin to a one-piece swimsuit isn’t normal battle attire for women in that world? How do you know that women don’t normally wear more revealing clothing because perhaps their world is hotter than ours normally is, or hell, maybe that’s just their fucking choice? That’s my favorite counter argument, how do you know that this world wouldn’t be one that’s different from ours, with characters who think different than we do? Why does everything today have to be 100% reminiscent of our present day?
I don’t want to play something 100% realistic, that’s boring as shit, I want to play a game where I’m playing as ridiculous characters, doing ridiculous fighting moves and pulling off ridiculous kills like the fatalities have always done, ramping it up each and every installment.
I want these characters to be over-the-top in every way. I want 9-foot tall giants with four arms who can rip a normal person’s limb off with ease. I want shirtless karate legends with abs on top of abs pulling off absurd fighting moves that even Jean Claude van Damme couldn’t even pull off. I want to see scantily clad women who look like strippers, but can kick anyone’s ass at the drop of a hat, in the same way I want to see women who are also dressed conservatively and can pull off the same thing. Or maybe they can do other things like they’re mages/sorceresses, they’re a medieval looking knight with a giant Claymore sword, anything that can make sense of things.
But a girl who just fights with a Sai and martial arts, like Mileena? There’s no reason for her to cover up as much as she can, she needs the extra speed and agility, to be able to move faster and be able to make that critical shot. It’s harder to do that when you have more clothing pulling on you. I’m not saying she HAS to fight in a thong, but why can’t she? Because it could offend women? Well the game for almost 30 years has gone strong being a game that has a primary demographic of men aged 13-35, so why change now?
Can we stop making changes to please everyone? Because we never can. Make the game that suits your primary demographic first, that’s where the money is. And for fuck’s sake, Netherrealm, you have been making a series of fighting games that politicians have always been against because of the violence, why are you even bothering changing anything at this point? Nothing you do will change what you are now with this series.
Want to make a game for everyone? Start a new franchise. Oh that’s a risk and you might lose money doing so? Then what are you doing right now by changing so much about the characters? Isn’t that a risk to the fanbase you’ve collected for decades now? Ask EA, Bethesda and Blizzard, they’ll tell you a few stories.
Once again, I’m not saying every character has to be sexualized. But in a world where limbs are lying everywhere and there’s more blood than an Olympic swimming pool can hold, how ridiculous is a couple of girls with DDs in a skimpy one-piece?
It’s been nearly fifteen years since the last major console release of a Kingdom Hearts game. Not a remaster, not a collection, a full brand spanking new release. It’s also been about four years since I’ve pre-ordered the damn game, so to have the knowledge that I am mere days away from finally having this game in my hands, it’s quite something.
When I think about how I got into the series, it’s really funny remembering. When the original Kingdom Hearts came out, I laughed at it. Here I am, y’know, a 14 year-old teenager who’s trying to be a little more edgy cause it’s supposed to be cool and you think for one second I’m gonna play a video game with a bunch of Disney characters?! Fuck that shit, right? That doesn’t sound cool, who cares that it’s being made by the same company who just a year ago, released what would become my all-time favourite game in Final Fantasy X. It’s fucking Disney, that’ll be stupid and childish!
Then I saw a friend playing it. He was running through the Hades Cup and if I remember correctly, the first battle I ever saw was against Cerberus. It looked pretty goddamn fun, which threw me for a loop. “No no no no! It’s a fucking Disney game, it has to be lame!” I kept thinking to myself and yet I would just get drawn in further. But I did hold my ground a little bit, I went a few more months without playing it.
But once it made the Greatest Hits list, thus it was cheaper, all bets were off.
I was stunned, absolutely stunned. The world, the story, the characters, the gameplay, the music, the graphics, the atmosphere…it all clicked, it all blended together and it was all Grade-A quality stuff! I couldn’t believe it, here I was thinking a game featuring a shit-ton of Disney properties would make a garbage game and yet I was sitting on my couch enjoying the hell out of playing through Tarzan’s world. Couldn’t believe it.
When it was all over, I was all in. Now I wanted more. So the day Kingdom Hearts 2 came out, I had my money saved up and was ready to go. I got so impatient, that I decided that the day before, I was going to lie to my Science teacher that I had a dentist appointment, so I’d miss my last class of the day. It honestly didn’t bug me that much, I hated the class and I was doing more than fine anyways. So I walked all the way from my school to the only EB Games we had at the time, which was an hour walk away. My walk home? 20 minutes. Didn’t care, I wanted that game and I wanted to play it as soon as I could.
Same deal, was blown away. Couldn’t believe just how much they could’ve improved that game, but they far exceeded any expectations I could’ve had for the series. Keep in mind that Chain of Memories for the GBA was released months before and it was no slouch either, though it had its problems. But once I put down Kingdom Hearts 2, I was a forever fan and I couldn’t wait for the third installment.
Except…it never came. I kept my PS2 a few years into the following generation (Persona helped) and waited to hear when Kingdom Hearts 3 was coming. But it just kept never being announced. Instead, we got mobile games, handheld games, web browser games, anything but a console title. Sure, some of the games were all right, but I never got the same feeling of them, and honestly? I’ve never finished a Kingdom Hearts game since Kingdom Hearts 2. I’ve had to watch YouTube videos to get the full story I’ve missed, in preparation for KH3.
I was truly upset, because why the fuck was Square Enix being so stupid by not releasing a third installment and instead releasing sidestories no one cared about on not-consoles?! What the fuck was the matter with them?! Did they not like money?! Well, we’ve seen over the last 10 years that it might be true, but that’s besides the point! I was beyond mad and turned elsewhere to find my new gaming niche. I went away from PlayStation, got a Xbox 360 and was getting ready for hours upon hours of Minecraft, Mass Effect and eventually, Destiny.
But in 2013, they just had to fucking tease it. 8 years of nothing and OH MY GOD, IT’S FUCKING HAPPENING, OH MY GOD!!!
And another five years since have ensued and we come to today. In just over a week as I release this, the game will be in my hands. A game I have basically waited nearly fifteen years to play. Fifteen long fucking years.
I don’t know what to think, to be honest. I mean everything I’ve seen looks incredible, especially the graphics. I can’t fathom how I’ll feel being in the Toy Story world as it looks like a movie and not the game. But in terms of my emotions going in…I can’t quite explain how I feel. I mean the best I can do is say that I’m excited without being excited. Maybe it’s because it’s been so long, maybe it has more to do with how old I am now in comparison to how I was when Kingdom Hearts 2 was coming out.
In the end, what I do know is that this may just be my happiest moment as a gamer since I impatiently awaited playing Mass Effect 2. I get the feeling that the moment the first second of the initial cutscene starts, a flood of emotion-filled nostalgia will envelope me. I’m actually considering the idea that I may actually well up, but I won’t cry. I’ll have teary eyes with the biggest smile on my face, because in those first moments, I will truly feel at ease.
Because when I hit start on Kingdom Hearts 3, fourteen long years will have passed. And I’ll be as thankful as can be that I got to experience this moment before the decade’s end.
Another Blizzard short story reveals a second gay character in the Overwatch series and this time, it’s everyone’s favourite dad, Soldier 76. Naturally, the gaming press is going bananas over this. Color me shocked. However, I have a much different reaction to this “incredible” revelation…
It’s a little late, to be honest. I mean anyone with half a brain can figure that this is nothing more than an attempt from Blizzard to make Overwatch a little more relevant again. The game is over 3 years old now, there are a ton of other games taking attention way from Overwatch and people are getting bored of playing the same game over and over again, no matter how many new characters they add. Hell, I’m not seeing nearly the amount of fan art (yes, including porn) than I’m used to seeing from the series. It’s very clear that Overwatch is no longer the juggernaut it was in its first two years of release.
It’s not to say it’s a bad thing, whether I’m talking about Soldier 76 being gay, or Blizzard attempting to stay relevant, both things are ultimately fine. However, the question I’d have to ask is why now? Why so late into this game? Tracer’s reveal was pretty much as late into the game as I thought it should get, it was at the tail end of Overwatch’s peak popularity and it was essentially the game’s most beloved character. Everything made sense then, but this reveal just doesn’t make sense.
I don’t think there’s any other way to say it, but I don’t think there was ever a plan to make Soldier 76 a gay man from the very get-go. I think this was a calculated decision made by Blizzard and the Overwatch team as a way to gain some relevancy back as the game is experiencing its first true noticeable decline. And just like how Tracer was the best choice for gay character #1, Soldier 76 from what I estimate was the second choice in terms of popularity. If this had been say…Hanzo, then maybe I could believe this was something they were deliberating over long before the reveal. But Soldier 76? Another really popular character? Yeah, that sounds planned last minute more than long-term.
And to be clear, I’m not against this reveal, there’s no stake in me being against this, it’d be silly to say I had one. My issue is with the timing. Like I said, I don’t think this was a choice that had been done at the time the game was being first produced, I think this was a choice made whenever they recently looked at their numbers and realized they needed to do something to get back in the news.
So let’s not pretend this is some amazing revelation, shall we? It’s not a well-thought out story, it’s not a long-term planned out character arc, and I’m not even fully convinced it’s a decision made for the LGBT community.
What it definitely is, is a marketing ploy.
I don’t know how often I’ll be doing these types of articles, but every once in a while I read something that gets me so annoyed that I gotta let my thoughts out somewhere. Hopefully this 2019 doesn’t have me this upset all year round, but I’m not holding my breath.
Anyways, here‘s a link to the full article that was posted on VG247 on the 2nd of January this year, so you can read the entire thing if you want, as I’m only going to respond to certain paragraphs and excerpts. This way you can check whether or not I’m taking things out of context.
Also, at the bottom of the article I’ll actually brings up points I agree with in the article as well, just to show that I’m not just being a cynical, argumentative asshole.
So anyways, let’s talk about this article about the importance of diversity in games that was written by Kirk McKeand:
“Video games are crafted from so many parts, it’s difficult to pin down exactly where the ‘game’ exists.”
The first paragraph tells me right away how this whole article is going to go. In reality, it’s not that hard to tell where the bulk of a game exists. It all depends on the genre. I can tell you without question that the “game” in a JRPG is the story and its characters, while a FPS’ “game” lives more in its, well…gameplay, the shooting mechanics, the speed, the competition, etc.
It’s not really that hard, Kirk. You’re making things sound far more complicated than the actually are.
“Despite this hunger for more diversity within our stories and experiences, there are still people who push back, pining for the days when ‘gameplay’ was king. But what even does that word mean? For me, ‘gameplay’ means all the interactive parts: the running, jumping, driving, and shooting. It means the verbs.”
That’s because there are a ton of games that are being drastically changed to suit an audience that doesn’t normally play those games. Take the Battlefield series as a great example. Try and tell me that people who participate in the mass outrage culture would dare play a game that’s all about war and violence that spent most of its time in the two World Wars, where the enemies were Nazis and the people who participated in the war, tended more often than not, to be white men. Also, the people we see constantly writing articles like this, what do they usually play and talk endlessly about? Indie games, y’know platformers, visual novels, choose your own adventure games, puzzles, etc. How often are these journalists talking about shooty shooty bang bang games? Not that often, unless there’s clickbait controversy involved.
Before all this outrage, gameplay meant exactly what it says: the gameplay. The mechanics, not the racial or gender identities of the characters involved, but the actual mechanics of the game they were playing. We weren’t worrying about the skin color of characters when we were playing Super Mario Bros, Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Final Fantasy, Street Fighter, or any other classics. We just cared about how good it played and if it was fun.
We’re not saying diversity isn’t bad, but when an over decade-long series suddenly changes to fit a racial/gender quota and concentrates less on improving the actual game, people are going to be irritated about it. And by the way, not all of these “racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic” gamers are white men. Remember that.
“Recently, Battlefield 5 came under criticism from some circles for its inclusion of female soldiers. While people are fine with gameplay mechanics that contradict its historical setting – respawning, killing helmet-clad soldiers with a single headbutt – there’s been criticism of the inclusion of women. Why? Because, for some, there’s no tangible gameplay benefit.”
Gamers understand that no matter how much time you spend creating a game, coding it, testing it for bugs, people will always find ways to “break” it. The videos of people jumping out of fighter jets, shooting someone in another jet and landing in their jet, of course that’s unrealistic. But no amount of coding and patches will fix that kind of problem. That’s a video game problem. What you’re talking about with the “women controversy” is a historical problem and that’s one that’s very easy to identify and very easy to fix if it’s deemed to be a problem.
Also, if a game was truly 100% realistic in every way, it wouldn’t be fun. The lack of speed, the difficulty aiming when you take into account distance, both in length and height, wind speeds, balance while holding a weapon, not to mention the actual accuracy of human eyesight. That all alone would create a difficult experience for the player, what would the fun in that be?
You can’t talk about gameplay benefits as if they’re a detriment, they are the most important problems that need to be addressed. A game is not a good one if it doesn’t feel good and isn’t fun to play, there’s no disputing this.
“Women want to feel represented in their hobby. It gives them more enjoyment than playing as a man.”
But you make it sound like there aren’t any games where you can play as a woman. Hell, even Feminist Frequency showed us that over half of all the games at E3 in 2018 allowed the player to play as a woman and they tried to pretend that was not good enough.
Also, why are you even speaking about what women want, Kirk? How would you know, you’re not a woman. I don’t pretend to know what “all” women want to play as in a video game, all I know is that I don’t always play as a male in games, hell I probably play more games as a female character than a male. Video games are like a fantasy, why would I play as something I already am, what’s the fantasy in that? I used to play games like Skyrim as a human male, what’s so interesting and different about that? Now I play much more varying kinds of characters, in terms of gender, skin color and sometimes the race of species.
I played Gone Home, a game that has three characters, all of them being white women. I love that game, even though there isn’t a single character in it who’s male, let alone white. When I played Mass Effect: Andromeda, my Ryder was a black woman with silver hair. All three of my Destiny 2 characters are female, including the robotic EXO. Yet I can play a Metal Gear Solid V and not care one way or the other than Snake is a white male, the same way I’m currently playing Yakuza Kiwami 2 and I’m playing a badass muscular Japanese male, while I’m a skinny white male who’s never thrown a punch in his life.
I don’t need to see myself in something to justify my existence. I care more about the personality and backstory of a character than the color of their skin, their gender, their sexuality. Stop basing the importance of a character on their surface characteristics, remember that what’s on the inside is supposed to count more.
“It’s not just women, either. You can count on one hand how many games feature an Arabic protagonist or a disabled hero.”
Given that over half of games these days feature character creators for the main protagonist, the Arabic argument doesn’t fit. Don’t play the “well what about games where you can’t customize your character” argument, because that’s up to the artist, you don’t get to define what race a writer/creator has to make their protagonist, they can do whatever they want.
And really? You’re going to play the disabled card? You tell me how to make a good FPS game with a disabled person that would be considered “realistic”? Because the only one I can think of off the top of my head is the recent Wolfenstein II and we all know how realistic that game is.
“If it improves the game for some and doesn’t affect others – because it shouldn’t bother you – then it is a quality of life addition in the same way gameplay mechanics and accessibility options are.”
Yet you expect not to be called out when you’re getting so upset when a game’s creators decide to make a story that revolves around male characters, or white characters. Again, that’s not for you to decide. You know when you get to decide how you feel? With your wallet when the game is released. As EA said, if you don’t like it, don’t buy it.
“What would Dishonored be without Dunwall, its hyper-real visual style, and the little stories dotted around? What would The Last of Us be without its characters?”
Dishonored could still thrive without Dunwall, the gameplay is what really got people interested in the first place. The Last of Us could still be a good game without its characters, maybe not Game of the Year as people have described it, but still a good game. I wouldn’t know, I think that series is overrated and I really didn’t enjoy the few hours I played of it.
I know what you’re trying to do, Kirk. You’re trying to make a case that characters are more important than gameplay. Unless we’re talking non-intensive games, you’re in a whole different world, bud. Don’t tell me that the characters in a Call of Duty game matter more than the gameplay. That’s just idiotic. They may enhance a game, but they’re not as essential as you seem to think they are.
Minecraft could literally be a bunch of white silhouettes walking around and it still would’ve been big. The original Mass Effect trilogy could’ve only had a female Shepard of any race and with that story and gameplay, it would’ve still thrived. Mario could’ve been Icelandic, Link could be a dark elf, hell Samus could still to this day be gender unknown. It would still be a great series.
“A truly historically-accurate WW2 experience wouldn’t make a ‘fun’ video game.”
Ah, we agree on something.
“If that was where the real issue was, people would be up in arms about any game that tried to create a virtual rendition of the conflict, not just the one where you can play as a woman.”
Apart from the anti-SJWs that are just as toxic as you and your brethren are on the other side, the majority of people upset were not mad “just because women were in the game”. They were upset because they saw that a series that had been made the same way for as long as it’s existed and had been successful for that period of time and enjoyed by everyone without anyone complaining about it until now…it was being changed into something that had little to do with the series title they’ve grown up with their entire lives.
Take the new Ghostbusters movie. Don’t lie to me, the vast majority of people were not mad at the initial trailer because it was an all-female team. They were mad because people were taking an already established product that was not just successful, but held legendary status, and changed it into something that looked like a terrible cash grab film. The trailer was garbage and people saw it for what it was, a lazy attempt at re-creating something that could not be re-created.
I could write a whole article about this, but I’ll sum up my feelings in one paragraph. Stop taking established properties and changing them to suit your own interests, make your own goddamn property. Stop leeching off good will and pre-established fortune, making something fresh and new from the ground up. But since that takes work, what’s the fun in that, right?
“Now, more than ever, we need games to let us be someone we’re not. We need to spend a while in someone else’s skin. Let’s start 2019 with a little more empathy.”
And this is where the article ends. So Kirk, let me ask you…have you ever played a video game before? Because here’s the list of games I can think of off the top of my head where I’ve played as something I’m not:
- Every single video game
I have never played a video game where I played something other than something I’m not.
I’m not a plumber saving princesses. I’m not an elf with mad sword skills saving the world from an evil pig man. I’m not a space bounty hunter who can look good in a skin-tight suit. I’m not a soldier, I’m not a cop, I’m not a member of a crime syndicate, I’m not a heroic adventurer, hell I’m not even a guy who knows how to throw a goddamn punch.
I’m literally trying as hard as I can right now as I’m typing this to think of a game where I literally played as myself. Even in The Sims games, while some characters looks kinda like me, they still didn’t act like me. I’m not rich, I’m not living in a big house, I’m not capable of flirting with anyone and bedding them with ease. Like seriously, Kirk, what game is there that’s doesn’t let us be something we’re not?
The problem isn’t that games aren’t letting us be something we’re not, the problem is that games are suiting your definition of diversity. You think diversity is only skin deep, but the definition of diversity is more than that. It simply means being diverse, varied. And games are certainly that. You play people of different gender, race, age, body type, personality, physical capabilities, and even more minor things like hair/eye color, hobbies, hometowns, the friends they have.
Games have been and always will be diverse. You just want them to cater specifically to a select number of groups more than others. That’s not diversity, that’s racist and sexist. Let game creators make the games they want and you will over time get legitimate diversity. Because if you allow creators to make the games they want, they’ll spend more time making a good product, not an okay product that has to check off certain boxes.
My favourite game last year was a game where I created a character who was a dark-skinned muscular badass woman who fought giant monsters with dual blades. Don’t tell me that Monster Hunter: World doesn’t count as being diverse and don’t tell me that games aren’t diverse. Because that’s not true and anyone who stops to think for half a second knows this.
…OKAY! Things I agree with Kirk on.
“Interactive entertainment is getting increasingly complex and the goals of their creators are more varied than ever. Simply being ‘fun’ often isn’t enough. Multicultural teams work together to create virtual places that elicit various emotions as we explore their strange universes and inhabit personalities different from our own.”
I 100% agree with this, games are become more and more varied, more complex and a lot more games are trying to capitalize on the graphical realism we have today and using that to create more real-looking experiences, ones that thrive on bringing the emotion out of players. We have more games that are film quality in terms of storytelling, just 2018 alone we had games like Red Dead Redemption II and Detroit: Become Human, both which are very emotional games.
“Developers are starting to recognise that the audience wants more diverse experiences and they are reacting to this demand.”
That’s because the market has opened up more and more each passing year. Remember that in the Super Nintendo/SEGA Genesis era that video games were something nerds played, it wasn’t so widely accepted. Today, everyone plays video games, one way or another, it’s not something you’re bullied for liking anymore.
It’s a great thing that developers are trying to create more diverse experiences as the gaming market continues to widen. Of course I love seeing new games I’ve never played before, characters I’ve never experienced before. I’m always looking for things that are different, hence why I love a lot of what Japan exports to us in terms of games, anime, music and more.
Now if only developers continued to recognize the things beyond “diverse experiences” that their audience also wants, we’d be far better off. Looking at you EA, Activision Blizzard and Bethesda.
“You see, a video game is more than a collection of systems. You don’t need more than one type of tank in Battlefield 5, but choice is a good thing. You don’t need to have flashy visual effects such as dust particles and debris with each explosion, but they help craft an illusion. Choice and flavour are as integral to a game as the verbs.”
You know, I’m aware he’s about to pull this back to choice and flavour also referring to the skin color and gender of characters, but in the end, this line is not wrong.
Back in the NES days, we weren’t capable of choice as easily in terms of customization and variety in our games. Today, there’s no excuse not to have that variety of options. A multiplayer shooter released today that only had one type of pistol, one machine gun, one sniper rifle and one rocket launcher, that would be unacceptable in almost any case. Unless the game was undeniably fun and possibly the most well-made shooter in history, the lack of options for weapon types, clothing options, map variety and more would simply be unacceptable, no way around that.
And while flashy visual effects aren’t 100% necessary, the best games on the market tend to have them, which is why those games sell better. They may be as fun to play as other games, but they have that extra oomph, that special something that sets it apart from others. Just as yourself why Overwatch did better than games like Paladins and Battleborn. They all similar games, but Overwatch had just that extra something that brought more people in.
“Modern video games are more than just a series of actions. Think back to the most recent games you’ve played – the ones that have stuck with you – and I bet many of them linger because they triggered some kind of emotional response.”
The games that I remember the most from the past few years are indeed there because they invoked a larger emotional response than others. The Yakuza series has been some of the funniest shit I’ve played in years, yet its story is so serious and dramatic. Persona 5 hits emotional points with the struggles of its characters and especially its villains. I got really disgusted with the first villain in Kamoshida.
Keep in mind however that emotional responses are pretty vague. I mean, laughing your ass off is an emotional response, crying, disgust, anger, they’re all emotional responses. Like how I said games have always been diverse, games have always made us emotional. So while I agree with the general statement, let’s not limit this to modern games, Kirk. I got seriously emotional playing old games like Phantasy Star IV and Final Fantasy VI as well, it’s not something specific to the 3D era of gaming.
I’ve wanted to stay away from this topic, to be honest. I’ve fought it for so long that it’s kind of become a boring topic to talk about. But this particular round has not gone away, fans are still bashing the hell out of Sony for this current round of censoring of sexual content in video games, something that is continuous, has never stopped and switches between companies on a regular basis.
There’s a lot to unpack with this topic, but let’s start with why I had to finally put my two cents in on this very topic:
Will Someone Please Think Of The Children?!
“Regarding the regulation of the depiction of content, it’s simply a matter of matching global standards.”
“As for the freedom of expression… we have to think about what might be unpleasant for children and shield them from those things while also thinking and assessing ways to find a balance [for that expression].”
Atsushi Morita – President, Sony Japan
We all know the immediate counter for this comment, a comment that is such bullshit, a pure dodge of the question, featuring an answer that anyone with an iota of a brain cell in their head could figure out was an outright lie.
Unless Japan literally has zero restrictions on who can buy games with sexual content in them, especially games that here in the West would be given an ‘M’ rating, the “we must protect the children” line is an absolutely ridiculous reason as to why Sony is suddenly making a heavy push to censor sexual content in the games released on their platform. For the umpteenth time, we have all the possible restrictions we can place on these games without outright banning the production of them. Games have warning labels on them that say the required age for the game, with descriptions of what is contained within the game. Stores are “supposed” to check the ID of customers who buy these games as well. There shouldn’t be any reason a child owns a game as explicit as say a Senran Kagura game.
Point The Finger Elsewhere
I don’t know how many times this has to be said. Apparently we’ll never stop saying it.
STOP LAYING THE BLAME SOLELY AT THE FEET OF GAMERS!!!
When it comes to both violence and sex in video games, there is a consistent push from parents, journalists, politicians, as well as the developers and publishers themselves to blame the player base for the scrutiny, the problems the industry is facing. Instead, we should put a mirror in front of all the groups I just listed, as they should be taking as much of the blame, if not more.
Parents for starters are the worst offenders. These lazy, irresponsible people are the ones who walk into a store, hear their son or daughter cry for more than half a second about something and then buy whatever it is they want to shut them up. I’ve watched countless times as parents walk into a store, ask for a copy of Grand Theft Auto, are told that this game is for 17 and up and will brush the employee off. Then they have the audacity to turn around and say their child is out of control.
You are supposed to be the one responsible for your child, not the black gaming box underneath the TV. It is your job to know exactly what you’re buying your children. If you’re buying your 10 year-old a game that is supposed to be for people about to graduate high school, use your fucking brain for a moment. And don’t give me the excuse that you didn’t know what you were buying, it’s your responsibility to do the fucking research. It takes one Google search to learn everything you need to know about a single game. And once again, if you’re too lazy to even notice the ESRB label in the corner of the box that tells you exactly what the game is for, you don’t get to complain. You failed not only as a parent, but a supposed “intelligent” lifeform.
Next are journalists. This is pretty straight-forward. The vast majority of the major outlets need to get off their anti-free speech platforms and stop complaining about every game that features a woman with any amount of skin showing. It has been because of Gamergate and the constant outrage culture behind sexually themed content in games that has put censorship on the table more often that it has been since the PS2/Xbox era.
There is nothing wrong with this sort of content. We’ve shown through so many different sets of research and testing that there is no correlation between what gamers see and engage with while playing video games, and what they do in real life. Just like how shooters aren’t making kids shoot up schools, games with blonde elves in bikinis are making men suddenly leave their house to go rape women randomly. There is no reason to believe that and research supports that. Just because you don’t like the content, doesn’t mean it doesn’t get to exist. Get a fucking grip.
Politicians. Good lord. As if it’s bad enough watching a bunch of rich, crooked assholes yelling at each other over anything and everything, these bourgeois members think it’s up to them to dictate we, the not 1% should be doing with our lives. It’s not good enough for them that they tax us to near-death, constantly pass laws that benefit anyone besides us, and engage in pissing contests with other countries around the world (I’m not speaking about anyone in particular either), they now feel they need to control the few things we have left that we enjoy.
I’m sorry that you miserable curmudgeons are bored of grandstanding, campaigning and fundraising, but do us all a favour and mind your own goddamn business. It’s bad enough we have to deal with you letting the FCC fuck us over, letting big pharma fuck us over, screwing over everyone via health care, taxes, hydro, rent and whatever else you’re taxing us for, we don’t need you to tell us what we should be playing too. Also, get your shit together in Chicago. What the hell is with that gaming tax I’m hearing about?!
Finally, the developers and publishers themselves. You’re not necessarily a huge part of the problem, but your endless caving to pressure from people who don’t often buy your products anyway is a sign that you don’t care about your player base, your audience. I don’t care that a bunch of moms in Australia are yelling at you about violence in Grand Theft Auto, I don’t care that Kotaku, Polygon and other major “games journalism” websites are writing a ridiculous amount of smear articles, because they think breasts and butts are offensive. Stop caving to the vocal minority, especially the ones who never planned on purchasing the games they complain about in the first place.
We all know that the people who are holding the torches and pitchforks outside your building never planned to buy Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, Senran Kagura, or any game with similar content. You caving to them does nothing to help your bottom line. You know what does help your bottom line for these games? Doubling down, supporting the people who actually put money into what you produce. You know, the sensible thing to do as a publisher.
But I’m not going to sit here and act like the conversations about this current wave of censorship from Sony has bad points and bad apples on only one side of the debate. Oh no no no, there’s plenty of stuff on my side that’s being said that I cannot stand either.
The Console Wars Doesn’t Belong Here
The most irritating thing I’ve seen during this entire wave of outrage, debates, arguments, screaming matches, and everything in between, has been this overwhelming hatred coming from people clearly anti-Playstation, or at the very least sitting on the fence, looking for the next bandwagon to jump onto.
Anyone who’s acting like this is a Sony problem is clearly looking through the biggest pair of rose-coloured glasses that has ever been produced. These same people are acting like Nintendo is the white knight of games because they’re currently not actively censoring games with sexual content. The reality is that EVERY SINGLE CONSOLE goes through a round of censoring this kind of content. Nintendo, Microsoft and Valve have their own history of censoring games featuring explicit sexual content on their platforms. Don’t act like Sony is the only one doing this, it’s just their turn.
I’m not defending what Sony’s doing right now, they are 100% in the wrong. But for anyone to defend the other consoles is insane, they have all done their fair share of censorship as well. You are more than in your right to call out Sony for their bullshit, but don’t talk to me about how great your favourite company this week is doing. This isn’t a fanbase battle, this is a gamer-wide battle that we all need to be fighting together. The console war needs to fought on a different battlefield, this ain’t the one.
This Isn’t The Hill To Die On
Lastly, this is the point that might get me in trouble the most, especially with people on my side of the debate.
Let’s get one thing straight guys. Yes, it is important that we fight back against censorship, but let’s be honest here, how many of us were going to buy these games to begin with? I will admit, when the heavy bashing of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 was abundant, I nearly purchased a copy from Play-Asia just to spite people. But in reality, would have I ever bought any of these games? In about 90% of these cases, the answer is no. The only game released this year I would’ve bought that falls into the same jurisdiction as all these games was Punch Line. I still plan on buying it, just not at the price it’s set at currently.
But in reality, how many of us are buying these sexual visual novel sort of games? These are the bulk of games being censored and I imagine the majority of people shouting about it have not and will not purchase the games being censored. I’ve always said that you need to vote with your wallet and this works both ways. If you want something to keep being made, you have to buy it. If you want certain practices to stop, you don’t buy the thing in question. So to truly have a horse in this race, you gotta have put some money into it. It’s fine to put your two cents in, but the amount of screaming, rage and even threats I’ve seen people post, it’s pretty ridiculous considering these people likely don’t even own any of these games they’re sending death threats to Sony about. Come the fuck on.
This Is A Real Issue, But We Need To Fight Smart
The vast majority of us that are on the side of anti-censorship, we know what the outrage culture looks like on the other side of the debate. It’s full of lies, deceit, twisting of words, crying over nothing, fakeness, an inability to listen to truth and facts. We all know what the other side does. So let’s take what we’ve learned from being on the other side and apply that to how we respond.
Don’t fight with fake outrage. Don’t fight with death threats. Don’t fight with deplatforming. Don’t fight with lies, deceit, twisting of words and all that bullshit. If you truly want to fight this issue, do it the right way. Say your piece without bias. This isn’t a console war, this isn’t a culture war, this is just a phase. Like Valve, Nintendo and Microsoft, Sony will eventually concede and be a little more lax on the censorship front. It will go away eventually. But it will last longer if we turn it into a war, an unnecessary battle.
We’re better than that.
Battlefield V got a massive amount of blowback when a combination of historical inaccuracies, outrage from both extreme left and right-wing groups, and terrible PR responses after the initial negative reaction to the game’s first trailer.
Then Diablo Immortals got a ton of blowback after a long-running PC-exclusive franchise suddenly went the mobile route. It was featured as the star attraction of a convention showcase where the fanbase was expecting something larger. Naturally, like EA/DICE with Battlefield V, the response from Activision Blizzard was, shall we say, less than stellar. And yes, we do have phones.
Now Bethesda is taking a turn with Fallout 76, a game that was created for a trendy genre several years too late to that party and was release as a broken, buggy and lifeless mess. Couple that with the recent outrage over a nylon bag in the $200 special edition where a refund of $5 of in-game currency (which is jack squat), and fans are also extremely pissed off.
This is just three recent cases of major franchises making a massive mistake (or several) and generating losses (or in Diablo’s case, potential losses) for franchises that before these controversies, were guaranteed to make tons of money in profits before even counting microtransactions, DLC and more. But there’s plenty of other franchises that developers and publishers alike have been slowly pissing away all the good will they’ve had over years and years, game after game.
Final Fantasy. Without counting the surprising success FFXIV: A Realm Reborn has had, single-player Final Fantasy games haven’t had a real hit since Final Fantasy X on the PlayStation 2. FFXII went well under the radar, FFXIII was a trilogy no one outside of Japan asked for, and FFXV showed promise, but was a mess from the beginning of its pre-production and could not have been saved.
Mass Effect. Not just a trilogy, but THE trilogy from the past console generation. Despite the controversial ending of the final installment, the series was one of the most well-respected franchises in gaming. Cue Mass Effect: Andromeda, a game that was released in a poor state, made by a studio that had never made a game of that scale before, and was such a disaster, no single-player DLC came out for it and the series has been put on hold, potentially forever.
Star Wars. One of the few licensed franchises to have legitimately good games and then EA decided to get its hands all over it and do what EA does best. Cancel potentially interesting titles (Star Wars 1313, the game Visceral was going to make, etc.), refuse to remake or continue promising games within the license (KOTOR, Republic Commando, Rogue Squadron, etc.) and release only Star Wars titles of the most poor quality and rifled with microtransactions and create one of the largest video game controversies in history (Star Wars Battlefront II).
There’s six franchises right there. We could talk about Konami ruining Metal Gear Solid, SEGA constantly saving Sonic the Hedgehog and then screwing up all over again, and so much more, there’s just so many examples out there, some I’ve forgotten or aren’t even aware of. It’s not an anomaly anymore, it is a yearly, if not quarterly occasion now for long-time consistently great franchises in gaming to get either destroyed or severely damaged.
With Fallout 76 being the current offender, while not striking a lethal blow on the Fallout franchise, there is now considerable worry and disdain from fans of the series because of the game that many are calling an absolute disaster, a broken mess, a failure of failures. Couple the bad game with a terrible PR response to the aforementioned nylon bag in the $200 edition and it’s clear that Bethesda is going a similar route that a lot of the major publishers and developers are going. They’re simply using the good will of their franchises’ names and making games that cost less and rake more profits in through overpricing the base game, microtransactions, and other nefarious means.
Let’s not kid ourselves here. We’re in a very important time in this generation of gaming. Thankfully, we’re responding in the way that we should, however we’re also failing as well. Sure, we may be giving companies hell for failing miserably and insulting our intelligence, whether it’s making garbage games, poor PR relations with their consumer base, or just plain ol’ not listening to what their customers want, but in the end, way too many of us are just buying or even worse, pre-ordering their games just on brand recognition alone.
I’m sorry folks, but I have no sympathy for people dropping hundreds of dollars on games that “might” be good. It’s your job as a consumer to not look at things through a rose-coloured lens, rather than just pre-ordering a game, assuming it’ll be just as good as the last one. I made that mistake with Andromeda, and I will beat myself up for that one for years to come. The signs were all there, the game didn’t look that great, what little of it was shown. The concept was all I had to go on and that should’ve been a red flag. Fallout fans, you knew this game was not going to be a traditional Fallout game. Hell, we knew it wasn’t even going to be just “Fallout Online”, it was going to be something more akin to Rust or ARK: Survival Evolved. As someone who really enjoyed Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, but not Fallout 4, just the idea of getting a Fallout game that looked a lot like a copy/paste of the latest edition in the franchise, but one that would be more devoid of life as most of these survival games are, I was immediately not psyched. Boy am I glad I steered clear of this one.
So the question remains, are we in for a long period of time, perhaps permanently, where long-time franchises are doomed to failure? Are we soon to expect other franchises like Street Fighter, HALO, Legend of Zelda, The Witcher, Hitman and many more, follow the same trend and royally piss off their consumer base, just to make a quick buck off the brand value? Hell, even though I like what I’ve seen from Kingdom Hearts III, I’m not discounting the possibility that this game could be an absolute pile of shit and completely drive the franchise into the ground, just like Square Enix has been doing with Final Fantasy.
But in the end, I remain optimistic. I think it really depends on who’s running the show. If it’s EA, there’s no hope. Activision Blizzard? Hahahaha, we know we’re screwed now. Bethesda is new to the game, maybe they’ll learn from Fallout 76. Ubisoft has learned their lesson several times, just take a look at Rainbow Six: Siege, Tom Clancy’s The Division, the Assassin’s Creed games. They’ve improved. Nintendo should be fine, they generally put real effort into what they make. It’s honestly a 50/50 chance that your favourite franchise could take a hit when they release their next game.
So have a coin handy the next time a big reveal trailer drops for a series you love and adore. Heads, you pre-order. Tails, you don’t. It’ll help you make a call so you don’t have to take those rose-coloured glasses off.