Rundown (12/22-12/28) The Harrowing Holidays

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Wherein I discuss the Christmas, some sorrowful assertions about a rising publisher, and the faulty saga that shall never be retold.

I dislike the holidays in general.  Not because they are events where people celebrate, are happy, or indulge in rampant consumerism, but because they are events where I need to be subjected to uncomfortable family gatherings.  They’re always noisy, crowded, and generally wrapped in melancholy no matter the occasion because of the company that makes up my extended family. A family that is filled with people who are suffering due to financial burdens, the gradual deterioration of one’s body, or a general lack of foresight in one’s life.  I am never made more aware of these people’s existence than during the holidays, and that’s why I have previously, and currently do, consider the holidays to be a generally bitter time 

Anyhow, this was the week of Christmas, and the last full week before the year ends.  This means that a lot of people in the entertainment industry have gone on break, and very few people wound up announcing much of anything over the past 7 days accordingly.  Meaning that this will be an exceptionally light rundown this week, but there are a few curios that I want to discuss.

About a month ago there was some negative buzz about independent game localizer and publisher Dangen Entertainment, and Protoculture Games, the developer of the shoot-em-up Devil Engine.  Like most stories of this nature, I first heard about it during my routine visits to ResetEra, and I dismissed the matter as closed after somebody from Dangen Entertainment admitted their fault for mishandling the release of the game, while also throwing some shade on the developers themselves.  But, as it turns out, the hole went far deeper, and the general conclusion I reached after digging through this very thorough write up from Tech Raptor is that Dangen Entertainment is… a pretty bad publisher.  

They did not acquire rights for things properly, they did not pay developers in a timely manner, they did not communicate with them very well, they inadvertently delayed the release of Devil Engine, and they deleted posts in a way that makes them seem incredibly suspicious.  Though arguably most damning of all, they were led by Ben Judd, a man with a history of incredibly questionable behavior towards young women.  Negative buzz about him and Dangen persisted throughout the year, and ultimately culminated in both the removal of Ben Judd as the CEO of Dangen Entertainment, who has left the industry while seeking out a way to remedy his poor behavior, and a greater restructuring effort by Dangen, who seems to be trying to make amends for this misdeeds… even if they have been a bit slow to act.

Now, I can understand project mismanagement in companies of this scale, as when you are a group of less than 10 people trying to run an international company, things can very quickly get complicated, confusing, and generally overwhelming.  And I stand by my belief that so long as you are actively trying to genuinely remedy a situation, then, under most circumstances, you should be forgiven. And so long as Dangen does stand by their word, and tries to remedy their misactions, I see little reason to bear ill will towards them, or not buy games that bear their name.  So don’t be surprised if I decide to review Minoria or something else they published.

Shifting to something less upsetting, but still disappointing, Tekken series producer Katsuhiro Harada recently replied to a fan inquiry about a possible HD remaster of the Xenosaga trilogy.  A series of games developed for the PS2 by MonolithSoft, best known for the Xenoblade Chronicles series, as part of a partnership between themselves and Bandai Namco.  Harada was surprisingly candid about the matter, revealing that there were plans in place for an HD remaster, but said plan “failed in a profitable market analysis”.  Meaning that the project would not garner the profits needed for Bandai Namco to invest resources into it.

It’s an answer that will assuredly upset the few devout fans of the Xenosaga series, but I cannot say that the news is especially surprising, as unlike many other niche series of its era, Xenosaga has not really grown much in popularity over the years, even after Xenoblade has cemented itself as a major Nintendo IP.  Why is that? Well, it probably has to do with the fact that the games were very compromised through assorted development challenges as the developers attempted to create a sprawling 6-game narrative that explored religious, philosophical, and sci-fi concepts.  They were received positively by critics, did not sell very well, and while they do hold a strong following, they were nowhere near as good as they could have been.

Or at least that is the impression I got from skimming through The History of Xenosaga, an absurdly detailed 33,000 word article that explores the history of the series.  It paints Xenosaga as a trial for a developer that aimed for the stars, yet came crashing down as the plans laid out by the development team changed, faith in the project began to dwindle, and numerous cuts were implemented, resulting in a project that lowered morale in the company, which was only raised after they began developing Xenoblade Chronicles.  Or in other words, the development and reception of Xenosaga is probably more interesting and enjoyable than the actual games are.  

Alright, that’s two subjects off the list, and while I did originally want to discuss the latest Dragalia Lost livestream announcement thing, I’d rather save my thoughts on that game for my inevitable re-review, sometime in 2020.  So I guess that’s it for this year.  

Header image features a background from the visual novel Saya no Uta with its colors inverted.  …Because I could not think of anything better for this week’s header image.

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