Rundown (2/24-3/02) Petty Platinums, Predictable Pokémon, and Prosperous Positions

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About two weeks ago I started playing through Bayonetta, a title that I have tried multiple times in the past, yet struggled to get into due to my ineptitude when it comes to ‘real’ action games and obsessive personality traits that are triggered based on hyper specific criteria. Or in other words, I positively suck at the game, but also wanted to go through the game while doing two very specific things. Get high rankings from every encounter and get all of the collectibles. While I believe that the former is very possible if I were to play through the game on easy, difficulties below normal automatically give the player all the health and magic upgrades from the get-go, and that approach deeply bothers me. These are two incredibly petty things to hold against a game, but it left me unable to truly enjoy myself with the game, so for the fourth time in my life, I’ve given up on Bayonetta. Though if someone were to make an ‘auto-platinum’ mod, I would probably give it a proper playthrough.

This week brought the announcement of the next mainline Pokemon game, Pokemon Sword and Shield, which was revealed with a full trailer and some brief reassurance from some higher level Game Freak staff. Reassurance aside however, the title mostly just looks like an expanded version of what was previously accomplished in Pokemon Sun and Moon, but with more expansive looking locales, more detail, and a more striking color palette. All of which lines up with what I would have expected after Game Freak emphasized how this title would be a very traditional entry back in May of 2018, but based on the snippets of gameplay shown, it does forgo two features from Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee that I was really looking forward to seeing again, the following Pokemon and the ability to spot wild Pokemon freely in the overworld.

If I seem a bit muted about this announcement, it’s because I’m fatigued with the series at the moment, and the hype cycle that each title perpetuates from announcement to release. A hype cycle filled with wild hopes and dreams, outlandish theories, and some utterly vile behavior. All of which results in two camps of people who genuinely enjoyed the game for what it was and another group who are swelling with disdain about how the latest title in the series continues to retreat the same path it paved 23-years ago, forgoing any brave new reinvention or being appropriately modernized to their liking.

I understand this mentality, and I will agree that the idea of a more ambitious Pokemon title does intrigue me greatly, but after Let’s Go came out last year, I think I have reached a point of continuous acceptance with this series, and the most I really want from each new entry is to see the consolidation of more nebulous minutia. If this game were to make breeding a seamless process, speed up battles, consolidate evolution methods, remove the dumb incense items, allow for easier stat manipulation, and make it easier for a Pokemon’s moveset to be customized on the fly, I would be positively elated by the final product, even if the game is as bland as an authentic British sausage, only given zest by the massive fanbase who interject personality into these games wherever they can.

Anyways, the trailer showed off the England inspired Galar region, and it looks to be rather linear based on the map, while also succumbing to the same biome dilemma that X and Y did. The new protagonists, who continue the trend of a bland looking male character and a stylish female character. The environments, which remind me of Xbox 360 JRPGs like Eternal Sonata and Tales of Vesperia, at least until getting to the water, which I really hope is a placeholder of softs. Along with the three starters, Grookey, Scorbunny, and Sobble, a trio of cuties that I am not really crazy about design-wide, but will assuredly grow to admire as time goes on, as I inevitably do… most of the time. The games are due out in late 2019, and based on the release pattern seen since ORAS, will probably launch on November 22nd.

Moving on, I have something of a soft spot for the work of Freebird Games, and even though I find certain elements of the story in To The Moon to be a bit… peculiar, it is still a game I would recommend. Or at least I would if not for the archaic attributes that are inherent to certain RPG Maker games. So imagine my simultaneous surprise and delight upon hearing that To The Moon is coming to the Switch this summer by X.D. Network, who are remaking the game in Unity. This simple engine transition could easily lead to a definitively better version of the 2011 story-driven adventure game, and may warrant yet another playthrough if the presentation seen in the trailer is any indication.

Coming off of the tail end of a variety of rumors about Microsoft making their moves into the next generation, people have been digging through the latest builds of Windows 10 and discovered information that implies that Microsoft is working on something that will allow Xbox titles to be played on PC. Perhaps I am just misreading this, but I think this means that Microsoft is effectively working on a way to allow Windows 10 PCs to play any compatible Xbox games. Which in turn could be extrapolated as any Xbox Original, 360, or One titles, many of which have never been released on the PC. If this plays out as it looks like it’s going to, this would be a massive boost for PC players, while also making the Xbox more or less completely irrelevant to that same audience. This is something I have quietly wanted since Microsoft began bringing all first party titles to Windows 10, and I would be positively overjoyed if I could play through my library of ~100 Xbox 360 games from the comfort of my desktop PC.

Alright now, what else is there to talk about… oh, right. So throughout this past month there has been a sizable amount of hubbub about child pornography. Youtube panicked after realizing that their algorithm was enabling pedophiles to fall down internet rabbit holes of scantily clad children to fawn over. Twitter hammered down against child pronography by banning all loli/shota porn. Which in turn has led to a lot of Japanese artists to migrate to the Pixiv run Twitter equivalent Pawoo. While THQ Nordic, who has been pretty great these past few years all things considered, pulled a massive blunder by hosting an AMA on 8chan, which is like 4chan but almost exclusively catered towards the alt-right, white supremacists, and lovers of child porn, both drawn and otherwise. It was an incredibly stupid, idiotic, and perplexing move that some have viewed as a marketing tactic by THQ Nordic’s PR department with the intention of gaining the fiercely loyal 8chan audience, but I honestly cannot believe it to be anything as contrived. It’s kind of like the difference between actual fraud and constructive fraud, which is really just another name for extreme and reckless negligence. Which is a fairly good way to summarize the shitstorm that followed this AMA.

Anyways, because of this groundswell over child porn, I feel compelled to talk about this subject, mostly due to the amount of vitriol I have seen towards the general topic as of late, which seems to largely come from the ideology that any kind of sexualization of children is, in some way, child porn, and is reprehensible. It is an approach that I have seen a lot throughout ResetEra, which I peruse regularly for both news and to keep in touch with the core gaming community, and I honestly find it to be a little extreme.

Yes, real live action child porn is horrendously bad in how it abuses and victimizes minors without the ability to offer consent. But footage of children being sexually suggestive is something that often just naturally happens, and back when I was in high school I remember seeing a PSA that indirectly mentioned that if somebody posts anything online, there is a chance that someone will masturbate to it, so I’ve come to accept that as a natural part of society after the advent of the internet. Plus, just having a family picture of a child is enough to get some pedophiles going.

However, drawn/loli/shota child porn is, in the vast majority of cases, a fictional abstraction of reality wherein no person is hurt physically or emotionally in any way I can think of. As such, I can still understand why people find it to be gross or awful, but it really just comes down to a specific fetish. Whatever people are into, whatever they like, whatever kink they fancy, so long as it does not harm anybody or lead to them exhibiting unscrupulous behavior in other aspects of their life, it’s fine. But at the same time, if somebody wants to view a kink as disgusting or despicable or outright ban it from their website, that’s fine too. It ultimately has a right to exist, unlike real live action child porn, which should be burned with fire.

Header image (obviously) comes from Bayonetta.

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