Rundown (2/21-2/27) Bloody Balls and Ridiculous Reconciliations

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Wherein I discuss my busy and ‘hard’ life, a new dinosaur, a sudden stake through the heart, a continued western push, a rising thunder, the future of Sony, the continuation and compilation of the Compilation, Anthem’s third death, and new highs and lows for the Pokémon series.

Whoo boy, this week was another stacked one for the games industry and for me as well. I had a less than stellar recovery from my genital electrolysis on the 20th after an injection into my scrotum went wary, and a cut formed in probably the worst location possible. Throughout the healing process, the cut grew, started scabbing, and made it pretty much impossible for me to wear normal underwear for several days, because whenever I tried, the cut would come dangerously close to reopening. It was definitely among the worst experiences of my privileged little life, but I’m willing to do a LOT to rid myself of my stupid and gross male genitalia, so I’m not too hung up by it.

Besides this, I also had a bunch of accounting work, but it was mostly long and tedious information accumulating from disorganized clients. The type who do not keep track of loans made and reissued over years or don’t think to update and reconcile their bank balance every month. I do not understand why clients think having me do simple yet time-consuming work like this is a good use of their money given the high rate I’m billed at, but I guess some people just have more money than patience.

Even to this day, I’m still kind of amazed that Rare Ltd. released so many games on the Nintendo 64 during the system’s fairly short lifespan. 11 titles shipped to market, they were all received well by critics, and they did so with no shared technology, segregated teams, and while incurring numerous prolonged development cycles. However, one of their later Nintendo 64 titles, a Zelda-like action-adventure game by the name of Dinosaur Planet, never saw release. Or at least, not in its original form. The title was originally set to come out in 2001, but as development was wrapping up, the game’s publisher, Nintendo, decided that the game should be retooled as a GameCube title and instead of being an original IP, the game should use characters from the Star Fox series.

This resulted in Star Fox Adventures, a 2002 title that was met with a mixed reception, with contemporary critics highlighting how this game still feels like a Nintendo 64 title despite the hardware update, and how haphazardly the Star Fox characters and elements are inserted into what was to be an original IP. This served as a somewhat sour note that ended much of Rare and Nintendo’s working relationship as, the day after Star Fox Adventures’ North American release, Microsoft bought Rare and proceeded to mismanage the studio for a decade and some change.

I bring this all up because I had thought that Dinosaur Planet was one of those games that would remain lost to time forever, locked away in an archive and rotting away on a piece of physical media. However, game developers have a habit of keeping certain bits of their old work as keepsakes for sentimental reasons, and sometimes they sell them to collectors who put them online for preservationists to distribute to the masses and keep history alive. That is what happened with Goldeneye 007 Remastered a few weeks ago, and this is what happened with Dinosaur Planet this past week.

Games preservationist Forest of Illusion released a near-final version of the N64 version of the dated December 1st, 2000, and while this build does swap out its original protagonist’s model for Fox McCloud from Star Fox, this is as close to the original developers’ vision as you’re reasonably going to ever get. This probably won’t lead to much beyond satiating the curiosity of a niche community and lead to a series of comparisons that illustrate what changed in the transition of Dinosaur Planet to Star Fox. But this is one more piece of gaming history that the community saved from oblivion, and I think that’s always worth celebrating.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 is one of those titles whose existence has perplexed me, as it is a high-budget sequel to a notoriously cursed mid-2000s PC game handled by the fairly niche and small-time publisher Paradox Interactive. I have not been following the title’s development, as nothing about it conceptually grabs me, but after reading up on it and learning that the original writing team was fired from the project, I can infer that something had to be going wrong in this game’s development, and that was made all too obvious this past week.

In their 2020 year-end report, Paradox Interactive announced that Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2’s developer, Hardsuit Labs (formerly known as Zombie Studios), will no longer “lead” this project, and their position has been replaced by a “new studio partner.” Because of this transition, and presumably many other reasons, Paradox have delayed the game well past 2021, and it is not clear when the game will be finished.

Historically, I don’t think there has been a single high-profile developer switch where a game got better unless the transition happened early on, the existing game was more or less scratched, or the new developers had a solid foundation to build upon. Looking over Bloodlines 2 and the fact that production was handed off to some unnamed developer, I do not think any of these scenarios apply, and if I were invested in this title, I would likely interpret this as a sign that production has ended, and the game will probably never ship. Just like Dead Island 2!

For as easy it is to write them off as an anime games manufacturer given the bulk of their output, something I find fascinating about Bandai Namco is how they are pretty much the only major Japanese publisher that still routinely partners with western developers. This was something the likes of Sega, Capcom, Konami, and Square Enix did frequently during the seventh generation of gaming, but after all of them were burned by less than stellar results, they cut back on western production and focused on delivering pure Japanese games. Except for Konami, who basically left the industry.

Bandai Namco could have followed suit after putting out titles like Dead to Rights: Retribution, Splatterhouse (2010), Inversion, Star Trek (2013), and Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, but instead they kept trekking along, working with western third parties, and have been greenlighting a bunch of smaller-scale projects from western developers. Little Nightmares, The Dark Pictures Anthology, Twin Mirror, Project CARS, and so forth.

Anyway, I was reminded of this trend after I saw that Bandai Namco had acquired a minority stake in Limbic Entertainment, a German developer who is known for their work on the Heroes of Might & Magic series, Tropico 6, and Memories of Mars. The justification behind this purchase is that Bandai Namco is currently working on creating two new IPs with this studio, and clearly wants to maintain a strong relationship with this developer by making them related parties. 

This might seem like a curious move, but in digging around after seeing this announcement, I stumbled onto a article explaining how, by 2028, Bandai Namco wants 50% of their output to be new IPs and wants 50% of their new titles to be developed outside of Japan. So I guess this is part of their prolonged 10 year plan of becoming a major player in the international games market, while still putting out a good amount of licensed content. 

I actually like this plan and consider it forward thinking, but that 50% new IP goal might be a bit much. Especially for a developer with as many legacy IPs as Bandai Namco who could have continued producing projects like Wonder Momo: Typhoon Booster and Namco High, but decided to just kill both of those games instead.

On the subject of companies buying stakes in companies, Thunderful Group is definitely one of the quirkier companies to explain when it comes to acquisitions. They are a parent group founded by Bersala, a Swedish game distributor who managed to form an incredibly strong relationship with Nintendo back in the early 80s and has continued to be their Scandonavian distributor even after the company established official offices over the world. However, Bersala evidentially wanted to have a greater stake in the games industry and decided to pair up with independent Scandonavian developers, Image & Form and Zoink, in order to create a middle-tier company that has only grown since its inception back in 2017.

In 2018, they acquired Rising Star Games, who are among the most eclectic publishers one could name. In 2019, they acquired Guru Games, who I don’t think ever shipped a title. And throughout 2020, they acquired both the quirky English game developer Coatsink and The Station, a support studio who has been kicking around for 15 years and are probably best known for their work on the LittleBigPlanet series.

I bring them up today because they recently made the news again after having acquired Headup Games, a German developer best known for their work on the Bridge Constructor series, and marking yet another studio whose name, identity, and overall structure are set to be dissolved and integrated into a growing European corporation, and I have mixed feelings about this.

On one hand, this spending spree is robbing many of these studios of their identity and putting dozens of people under the umbrella of a growing corporation who will probably begin steadily imposing more limitations on these developers in exchange for a greater sense of financial security. But on the other, I see this and am reminded of when the middle of the games industry collapsed in on itself during the seventh generation. Around that time, I recall commentators claiming the rising wave of indie developers would grow into a new generation of AA developers. And looking at the growing development resources of companies like Thunderful, TinyBuild, and many more, I’m pretty sure that’s what’s happening. The smaller tendrils of the games industry are clinging together into something greater. The AA of the ninth generation!

Shifting gears from AA, let’s talk about the AAA industry, or more specifically various machinations involving Sony, who picked up more than a few headlines this past week.

Firstly, following last year’s release of Horizon: Zero Dawn, Sony have announced that they will continue to bring more PlayStation games to PC. Which is great news for a no-PlayStation-having scrub like me… but the first game they are using to kick off this new wave of releases is 2019’s Days Gone, a zombie shooter that was received tepidly at launch, and forgotten shortly after its release for a lack of originality and much to set it apart from other contemporary AAA games.

I’m glad that this effort is being made, but… this game probably won’t do particularly well on PC, and seeing as how poorly it reviewed and sold, and I fail to see why Sony is pushing this title as the next big PC release, when they could instead bring any number of first-party titles to the platform that would probably do better than Days Gone.

Maybe I’m just paranoid, but I worry that Days Gone will flop and discourage Sony from bringing other titles to PC, and I guess part of the reason why I think that might happen is how Sony has commitment issues when it comes to supporting anything other than the latest PlayStation console. They gave up on supporting the PSP with first-party titles after a few years, stopped putting out major PS Vita titles three years after the thing hit the market, and while they have been doing alright with PlayStation VR, it has not captured the market as well as they hoped. 

This raised the question of whether or not Sony would drop VR support this generation… but instead they announced that they are indeed working on a next generation VR system for the PlayStation 5. Details were slim, lacking any images or even a codename, but supposedly the new device will feature better resolutions, features, and wire management, so that’s all good, I suppose. But will it be enough to encourage the masses to plop a headset on and escape the world when they want to do some quality gaming? …Probably not. 

For all the success VR has had over recent years, I simply do not see it being a mainstream success, because it requires one to immerse themselves. Over the past decade, the way people partake in media has changed. They are more inclined to multitask on several things at once, frequently step away from media they enjoy by pausing it or checking their phones during lulls, and are accustomed to being called away by whatever they are doing in order to attend matters related to work or those they live with. In order to play VR, you effectively need to lock all of that out in order to ‘lose oneself’ in a digital reality, and even when one does, they should not play it for particularly long due to the physical strain it puts on a person. And I dunno, that seems like something destined to only be beloved by enthusiasts.

I could also comment on how VR does not really have much of a market in Japan, insinuating that Sony is closely tied to the Japanese market, but that’s not really true. Over the past generation, Sony has been scaling down its Japanese operations as their reigns over the handheld market loosened and Japanese console sales declined. The western division got more power, they moved global headquarters to America, and while their creatively named Japan Studio continued to produce quality games, they paled in comparison to the great critical, commercial, and cultural success seen by the output of their western studios.

You can pinpoint to myriad things that indicated Sony was shifting away from the Japanese market overall, such as how they decided to make the X button the universal confirm button on PlayStation 5, when the Japanese release always used Circle as the confirm button. But nothing cements this more than the recent announcement that Sony is ‘re-organizing’ Japan Studio. Which is a polite way of saying that, after Japan Studio failed to produce profitable products for several years, and had mostly been relegated to a support studio, Sony decided to shut them down. They allegedly informed staff of this in advance, which explains the departure of Silent Hill, Siren, and Gravity Rush creator Keiichiro Toyama back in 2020, and various other departures over the past year. 

The only part of Japan Studio that will remain is Team ASOBI, who previously created Astro’s Playroom and Astro Bot’s Rescue Mission, and will continue to make Astro Bot games going forward. But beyond that, Japan Studio is pretty much dead and will be fully replaced on April 1st. I would call this a damn shame, but this was a gradual process born from years of industry shifts and globalization efforts, and it’s not like Sony issued a press release saying that Japan Studio is closing before they even broached the matter with the team itself.

It sucks that Sony is not investing more into Japan, but at least the creative teams behind the studio have pivoted elsewhere and will continue to make games. They just might not get as big a marketing push or as much of a budget.

Keeping the Sony train going, they also held a State of Play event this past week… which mostly offered trailers for previously announced games, and nothing too remarkable to speak of until the very end of the showcase. When Sony announced that Final Fantasy VII Remake is making its way to PS5 via a free upgrade for owners of the PS4 version. 

This new version boasts what I think will become a trend with a lot of games that receive this light remaster treatment when coming out for new consoles. The game now features higher frame rates, higher resolutions, and more advanced lighting effects that… are something of a mixed bag based on what was shown in the trailer. While I often take it for granted, lighting plays a tremendous role in establishing the tone or mood of a given scene, and while more ‘natural’ or ‘intense’ lighting might sound better, in practice it’s something of a mixed bag. Sometimes scenes look more vivid and eye-catching, but other times the lighting just suffocates whatever the original art team was going for.

This upgrade is currently pegged for a June 10th release, and while that seems a bit futuristic, that’s because, in conjunction with the PS5 launch of Final Fantasy VII Remake, Square Enix will also be releasing a new DLC mini-campaign/episode exclusive to the PS5 version, dubbed Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade. Intergrade is a side story set during the events of the main game that follows Yuffie, the spunky Materia hunter and optional party member from the original Final Fantasy VII, as she ventures into Midgar in a raggedy Moogle outfit with the aid of her new male companion, Sonon. Together, they go on an adventure that lets the player tool around with new characters, see repurposed locations, toy with some minor iterative sub-mechanics, and fight a few new enemies. 

Overall, it looks like a lean and refined little addition that will quench the thirst of those who want to play a short and flashy AAA RPG, or want more Final Fantasy VII, since the next main installment is quite a ways away. However, Intergrade is curiously exclusive to the PS5, meaning that, unless Sony fixes their supply issues, and fast, many will not be able to play through this new episode for quite some time. 

And Square Enix is evidentially aware of how many people will not be following this series to PS5 just yet, so they announced two Final Fantasy VII spin-offs for mobile devices.

Final Fantasy VII The First Soldier is a prequel set 30 years before the events of FFVII that explores the foundation of the SOLDIER project by Shinra, and… it’s a battle royale game. A title where players use guns, magics, summons, and swords to murder the poop out of other players, and also enemy mobs, in repurposed environments from Final Fantasy VII Remake all in order to win the battle and become… become the first SOLDIER, I guess?

While I find this title amusing for its forced and marketing-scented premise, I think it is doing enough to at least warrant a look, but before I can even assess the quality of its systems or mechanics, I have to ask why is this a mobile game? While Fortnite and PUBG found immense success in the portable front, they also have dedicated audience on PCs and consoles, and if Square Enix really thinks it is a good idea to try and make a multiplayer spin-off of Final Fantasy VII, wouldn’t they want it to be on the same system as Final Fantasy VII Remake?

Actually, better question: Why the hell is Final Fantasy VII Ever Crisis a mobile only title, because it looks freaking amazing! The trademark for the name Ever Crisis has been fluttering around for a while and, due to how it aligns with the naming scheme of Advent Children, Before Crisis, Crisis Core, and Dirge of Cerberus, many wondered if this would be a continuation of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII project from the mid-2000s. Well, not quite. Instead, Ever Crisis is a compilation of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII

Ever Crisis is a chapter-based retelling of the original Final Fantasy VII, Advent Children, Before Crisis, Crisis Core, and Dirge of Cerberus, that will introduce new content pertinent to the lore and history of the series. All of which is rendered using intentionally blurry pre-rendered backdrops and modern semi-chibi 3D models for overworld stuff and full-sized modern 3D graphics for enemy encounters. It is a remake of everything Final Fantasy VII was circa 2007, and by God, do I love this premise.

Now, I do have some reservations about this concept and what was shown in the trailer. The battle system appears to be entirely different from the original, and needlessly so. By focusing on the story of these games, this title will inevitably lose out on the feel, vibe, and sense of space that these original titles all offered in spades. And I have to wonder if the game will ignore certain subplots or side quests due to the volume of content this game needs to cover.

But if Square Enix can pull this off, then Ever Crisis could be a meaty, rich, and decadent feast that wonderfully encapsulates an entire fragmentary universe in a single package, while cutting out all the crap. The game is not coming out for iOS and Android until 2022, so we will need to wait a fair while before seeing how well Square Enix handled this transition, but regardless of the title’s quality, I still want it to make its way to consoles and PC… with 4K pre-rendered backgrounds. The backgrounds can (and should) look like they were made on a Silicon Graphics workstation, but I want them to be as crisp as a summer’s breeze. 

Next, let’s revisit an old yet well discussed topic by bringing up Anthem. The 2019 Bioware title that has gone down in history as a middling game birthed from a lack of vision, a terribly troubled production, and some utterly horrific crunch. Throughout 2019, Bioware struggled to keep their promised slate of content updates and fix the numerous technical problems with the game, all while the playerbase shrunk due to the game’s lack of content and innumerous issues. Then in February 2020, a year after the game’s release, Bioware announced that they were suspending future updates for the game and were reworking Anthem into a better game, dubbed Anthem NEXT. At the time, I said that “it would be best if Bioware and EA cut their losses, repurposed what they could, and began work on something else,” because I had doubts that the game was worth salvaging after it became a laughing stock after launch.

Since that announcement, Bioware has offered some updates on this rework, but after a year of tinkering by the team assigned to this project, EA decided that enough was enough, and canceled this rework before anything came of it. Anthem will not be shutting down, as EA is committed to ‘supporting’ the game for at least more than two years, but no future substantial updates will be released, and the game will remain in its current form for the remainder of its life. 

In the announcement on Bioware’s blog, a representative said the primary reason for this end of development is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but that’s just a convenient excuse. EA was not happy with the progress the team made, and the project was shut down accordingly. Bioware failed a performance review because they were given an absurd task, and now the dev team is being reassigned to other, hopefully better, projects. 

I honestly wish EA had the conviction needed to do this a year ago, but instead they jerked a development team around for a year, wasting time, money, and resources that could have one into something else. 

Moving on, the next item on the jolly old agenda is a surprise confirmation that the upcoming Switch title, Monster Hunter Rise, is coming to PC. This was something people started expecting after the Capcom ransomware leak, where people uncovered discussions about a timed exclusivity deal between Capcom and Nintendo. It made sense, matched the deals seen with other Switch timed exclusives like Daemon X Machina and Octopath Traveler, but I did not expect to hear about this until months after the initial release of Monster Hunter Rise. So you can imagine my surprise when a scattering of preview pieces casually mentioned that a PC version is coming in 2022

That’s great to know, but I have to look at this news and ask… why? This will only go to hurt initial sales, it does nothing to hype up the PC port, and I have to wonder why Nintendo would allow Capcom to let this news slip through since they are pushing Rise as a major exclusive.

Alright, am I done yet? No? Well, what else could they possibly— oh right, it’s the Pokémon anniversary day, so of course there is going to be a big new announcement alongside a nifty nostalgia-rich commercial for the series and its multiple permutations over the years. That’s precisely what happened in this week’s Pokémon Presents, where The Pokémon Company offered not one, but two major announcements.

Pokémon Diamond and Pearl remakes have been expected for quite a while now, and they were finally announced as Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. A pair of titles that are set to be the Pokémon holiday offering for late 2021, and they have a lot to live up to based on their very concept. 

To many, Diamond and Pearl were massive steps forward for the series, or were titles that truly introduced them to the world of Pokémon, and it’s easy to see why. They were the first mainline Pokémon games for the DS, the DS is the best-selling game system of all time, and when breaking things down on a mechanical level, the fourth generation added a bunch of stuff to Pokémon. Personally though, I was never too fond of Diamond and Pearl, and consider them to be the worst mainline Pokémon games due to their poor balance, technical shortcomings, egregiously slow combat speed, and bland presentation.

When you get over these issues, or play the far superior Pokémon Platinum, which I reviewed in 2019, then the games have a lot going for them, and plenty of unique ideas worth revisiting with more time, resources, and technical power. Unfortunately, that’s not what we’re getting with Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.

For the first time in Pokémon history, these mainline titles are not being developed in-house at GameFreak, but rather at ILCA, Inc., a game developer that you would only know of if you’re really into scouring through the support studios listed in the credits of AAA Japanese games such as Nier Automata, Yakuza 0, and Code Vein. They have never shipped with their name prominently tied to any game, but have held a respectable place in the industry and, after developing Pokémon Home, The Pokémon Company decided that they were the right developer to remake a mainline Pokémon game. I admire that sentiment, giving a hard working studio the chance to work with such a high-profile title in such a valuable IP… but I have to wonder why they thought ILCA was up to the task.

Because if the reveal trailer is any indication… they have no business being the sole developer of a game with the scale and scope of a 3D remake of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl… which is pretty much what this game looks like. The original title, but with a true polygonal world and 3D character models instead of sprites. Which includes the chibi JRPG overworld sprite proportions, grid-based world design, and overall blocky look to everything.

Now, I would normally be fine with this— while its presentation was a bit underwhelming, I still think Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee look pretty good due to their strong art direction and expressive characters. However, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl just look… devoid of artistic intent. At first, I thought that the game just looked bad because the textures are low resolution, the polygon count is low, and this is one super deformed chibi art style. But no, that’s not the problem here. There are plenty of games with lower fidelity that look far better than this, while attempting a similar art style. I could name off any number of PSOne or PSP adventure games or RPGs that fit this quota. The problem is that the art direction itself is bad… and the game is more technically underwhelming than Pokémon X and Y, despite having some semi-modern lighting events.

How do you do this? How do you greenlight a project that looks like this? How do you confidentially present a game that looks quantifiably worse than something that came out for weaker hardware 8 years ago? I mean, sure, the battle sequences look fine with their flat cel-shading, but the overworld is… it is the worst and most baffling downgrade to any game that I have seen since the mobile port of Final Fantasy VI

I don’t like getting angry at Pokémon, because people throw outrage towards the series at the drop of a leaf, but this is… I don’t get it. I don’t get how any major publisher can push a title like this in 2021. And the more I think about this game, the more I try to find a justification for it to look this way, the more I feel like I’m losing my goldarn mind. Because this game looks like a bootleg. This game looks like it would have come out for mobile in 2013. The human characters in this game look like 50 cent gashapon toys. This game looks like it should not be real… but it is! It is… and I wish it wasn’t. I wish this game didn’t exist… but I’m going to buy it anyway, because I’m a goldarn idiot.

Pre-Emptive Clarification: I do not blame ILCA or GameFreak for how the Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl games look. I blame The Pokémon Company. I blame them for everything I dislike about the series, because they’re the ones who technically own and manage it. I get that their job is hard… but they are really bad at it sometimes.

Thankfully, the taste of lead-painted flash-molded plastic toys was not left to linger in my mouth for too long during the broadcast, as the announcement of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl was followed with an announcement for Pokémon Legends Arceus. A clunkily titled name for what is… pretty much the Pokémon game fans were begging for amidst their ravenous demands when Sword and Shield were gearing up for release. 

Pokémon Legends Arceus is an open world RPG set in the Sinnoh region introduced in Diamond and Pearl, but it takes place hundreds, if not thousands, of years in the past when the land was untamed and technology was more primitive, but not too primitive. The game itself follows a familiar-looking young trainer as they set out through this land with the goal of creating the first Pokédex, scouring through the wilds to catch, train, and battle Pokémon in order to see everything this world has to offer. Which naturally includes the assorted legendary and mythical Pokémon of the Sinnoh region, namely the titular Arceus, the bringer of all life in the Pokémon universe.

It is a premise that reads like something that would be laughed off of 4Chan for being too fanboy-ish, but that’s what the game is about. And while it bears a strong resemblance to Sword and Shield, as the title presumably uses the same core technology instead of a brand new engine, it innovates in two major ways. The game is centered around a hub from which the rest of the open world is available to the player, meaning it will likely lack the oft derided linear campaign of prior games. And the game will seemingly do away with the battle transitions that have always plagued the series, as battles now take place in the overworld itself and players can lob Pokéballs  at Pokémon while stalking them in the wild, using the element of surprise to their advantage.

Back in 2019, I put out this massive airing of grievances I had with the Pokémon series, and if there was one thing I were to change about this list, I would have put even more emphasis on how horrifically slow the Pokémon series of games are and have always been. Battle transitions take too long, trading blows is slow and tedious, and the cutscenes seen in the Max Raid Battles of Sword and Shield are a horrendous waste of time that should have been addressed with a patch long ago. Everything that should take 3 seconds in Pokémon takes 10 seconds, and it makes the game feel more monotonous than many of its contemporaries.

As such, the very idea of a Pokémon game that does away with the archaic gesture of a battle transition and tries to speed up combat and the catching process… It sounds too good to be true. It sounds like something that should not happen, and if GameFreak is willing to change that, then what else are they willing to change?

Will they change evolution methods to be less asinine? Will they make moveset management even easier? Will they make the Pokémon Center a place where you go to heal instead of a place with a person who will heal your Pokémon after a few dialog boxes? Will they make nature, EV, and IV management less of a needle in the rectum to deal with? Will they make breeding less of a chore? 

Probably not, but just the idea that GameFreak is thinking about changing the foundation and fundamentals of this series… it makes me want to cry. Because that sounds like a dream come true. And that, that is the overwhelming feeling I walk away from Pokémon Legends Arceus. That it could be the Pokémon game that I have wanted for years, and the world has wanted for longer… but GameFreak maybe should have considered holding back on this title, because this is not the best first impression.

Now, Pokémon Legends Arceus is not set to release until “early” 2022, which probably means June or November, so what we’re seeing here is early alpha footage. As such, I am not surprised by the visual stuttering, the not-so-great look to the distant horizon, the iffy environment shading, or the likely recycled ground textures. This is an early project, the primary focus for GameFreak at the moment, and they probably have hundreds of other people ready to get started on this project as production ramps up. So I expect things to improve. And even if they don’t, I think the game’s colors look nice, the Pokémon models are shaded in an appealing way, and I have a certain fondness for games with sub-30 frame rates like this. It makes me feel like the game is too much for the hardware to handle.

In conclusion, I like seeing the Pokémon series move forward with me. But I do not like it when it does something so baffling it makes me question reality.

Das Ende

Header image comes from Mayonaka no X Giten Chapter 6 by Yamaguchi Mikoto and Bareisho. It was a pretty dope body swap mystery that I got about halfway into when it originally ran, but never went back to for whatever reason.

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