Rundown (10/18-10/24) Spoopy Scares!

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Wherein I discuss my disinterest in horror, a time-limited localization, and my favorite mobage.

Whenever Halloween rolls around, I always feel… odd due to my lack of interest in the horror genre, or anything that can be considered adjacent to it. Between films, games, or general aesthetics, horror has never particularly clicked with me as something I was especially fond of. Not that it scares me or makes me uncomfortable, as it doesn’t, just that I don’t feel any real draw to it.

I think my indifference has to do with my history with the genre. For whatever reason, my mother had no problem with me watching R-rated horror movies when I was a wee little kid. I saw snippets of Alien 3 at age 3, and it gave me nightmares about the Xenomorph crawling around my attic or inside my closet and murdering my baby-ass. I saw 1978’s Halloween at age 6, and it made me scared to use the bathroom at night because I thought Michael Myers was going to be hiding in my bathtub, ready to murder me. And I saw the 2002 American adaptation of The Ring when I was 9, which scared the bejeesus out of me for a while due to how ordinary the protagonist’s life and the situation seemed to me at the time. I also think it made me start taking showers instead of baths… for some reason.

After these experiences, I never really paid much mind to horror or anything that could be considered especially creepy. I did not have a connection with it during my formative teenage years, and now as an ‘adult’, horror just does nothing for me. I don’t find myself getting lost in it, I am constantly aware of my safe surroundings when engaging within it, and I do not view it as especially scary because… it’s just a story. It’s a thing that somebody wrote and rendered either as a film, game or whatever. I will mess with horror media from time to time, like when I played Corpse Party and Mad Father, but the horror element is something I never really click with. When I think of both of those games, I think more of bizarre supernatural circumstances, rather than anything that creeped me out or scared me.

Maybe I’m just misunderstanding the appeal of the genre, which is very much possible, but it routinely makes this time of year awkward, as I am constantly inundated with people who are enamored with the spooky and the macabre during the month of October.

This week has been a relatively quiet one, with little in regards to game announcements, but Nintendo dropped a rather suspicious trailer related to the Fire Emblem series, announcing the localization of an older title. Nintendo infamously did not begin publishing the Fire Emblem series in the west until 2004’s Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, foregoing the localization of 6 titles in total. This, while unfortunate for future fans of the series, was done for a variety of good reasons.

Fire Emblem has always been a text-heavy series that pushed the storage limits of its original hardware, and English text takes up more storage space than Japanese text. Many of the games came out late in their respective systems’ lifecycles, meaning the localization would come out after new systems were released. The titles often dealt with more mature subject matter than what Nintendo of America was comfortable with at the time. And after the failure of the Dragon Quest, or Dragon Warrior, titles in the west, Nintendo of America was apprehensive of publishing RPGs.

Because of this, fans have taken it upon themselves to localize the first six Fire Emblem titles themselves, gathering and sharing information about them, and preserving them via their own means. But Nintendo has sensed an opportunity to capitalize on the devout community of Fire Emblem fans that developed after the release of 2013’s Fire Emblem Awakening and has decided to go back and localize the very first Fire Emblem game. 1990’s Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light.

The title will be ported over to the Nintendo Switch on December 4th for $5.99, where it will come with both a Nintendo-sanctioned localization and emulation-based enhancement features. Most of which are simple, like the ability to return to the previous turn, save states, and the ability to speed up the otherwise lethargic combat of an 8-bit RPG. However, it’s about everything I would like to see in a re-release of a classic title (beyond bonus features and developer diaries) so it gets a hard thumbs up from me. Or it would, if not for the fact that, out of all the Fire Emblem titles they could localize, this is the one that needed it the least.

For those not aware, the first Fire Emblem has been remade twice since its original release. The first being in 1994, where the title was condensed as part of Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, and the second being in 2008, where the title was released worldwide for the DS as Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon. Because of this, fans should be well versed in the original story and characters who helped begin this series, and due to how archaic and limited the original Famicom title was, only the most diehard fans have much of a reason to return to it.

If this was part of a collection, I would be all for this localization and seeing the entire original series be brought forward, but if you were to ask me, or really any Fire Emblem fan with some time to think things through, which one title they would like to see localized, they would probably say something else. Such as 1994’s Mystery of the Emblem, 1996’s Genealogy of the Holy War, 1999’s Thracia 776, 2002’s The Binding Blade, or even 2010’s New Mystery of the Emblem. Not titles that have been recently remade and enhanced beyond the limitations of their original releases.

So yes, while I am happy to see a classic title be brought to the forefront… it probably is not very good based on contemporary usability standards, and if people really wanted to see where the series began out of sheer curiosity, they would probably have a better time playing the 2008 remake.

…And they actually have every reason to prefer the remake, because, unlike this new release, it will not only be available for a limited amount of time.

Yes, as part of what I can only categorize as a vile and callous move, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light will only be available to purchase until March 31st, 2021, giving fans less than 4 months to purchase this digital title. Because Nintendo does not want its digital library to be available in perpetuity and is clearly against the preservation of their titles, and the preservation of gaming history as a whole.

I said it before when they pulled this same stunt with Super Mario 3D All-Stars, but I’ll say it again:

Fuck you, Nintendo.

You have a responsibility to preserve your history, you spent resources on this project, and now you are throwing it in the garbage because you don’t want people to buy and own your products, you just want to sell time-limited promotions so you can sell the same thing again in a decade or so, or maybe never.

Guh, I need something uplifting after that, but… wow, really no headlines are sticking out to me… so I’ll just talk about my live service of choice, Dragalia Lost, because it’s been nearly 4 weeks since I last gushed about it.

As a follower of a live service, I am sporadically concerned about whether or not the title is profitable for the developers, and how much longer it will be supported. This is why I care about any financial figures I can get about Dragalia, and why I don’t feel bad about spending $10 in it every few months. And this past week came two important figures. The first being an update to the estimated revenue of Dragalia. The title launched in September 2018, accumulated $50 million in December 2018, $106 million in October 2019, and now brought in $146 million as of October 2020.

This might seem like a downturn in earnings, but live services, especially gacha games, typically see revenue dropping during the lifespan of the title, barring the occasional bump. So if anything, I’d say that Dragalia’s revenue seems perfectly healthy, and is surprisingly high for a title commonly considered the most generous gacha game on the market.

However, revenue means little without the corresponding expenses, and while those figures will never be made public, the game’s director, Yuji Okada, claimed that over 100 people are currently working on Dragalia Lost. That figure seems high for a ‘mere gacha game’ but it makes sense when you break down everything. Between writers, artists, programmers, musicians, social media, translators, and general designers, a lot of work clearly goes into this game, and to get this much done so fast, you need a lot of developers. But even if we assume the staff is paid for their work year-round, or that the 100 is closer to 200, the game is still doing more than well enough to pay its core operating expenses. Which will hopefully mean that the game will keep going for years to come.

I mean, it will never make major licensed anime money, it won’t be a GranBlue Fantasy, and it genuinely cannot be a Genshin Impact because the game is designed for phones, not consoles. But for an original IP mobile game with little continuous marketing push, I think it is doing quite well for itself.

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