Rundown (8/29-9/04) Efu Efu Eclair III Lives Rent-Free In My Mind

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Wherein I discuss one of my favorite settings, China’s government being a wet fart, my childhood friend’s favorite series heading to uncharted territory, and subpar emulation for 20-30 year old games.

One story that passed by my optics this past week was that Final Fantasy XIII came to Xbox Game Pass for consoles and PC. And when the game was brought to the Microsoft Store, fans were wuick to pick up on the fact that the port was updated by developer Virtuos. This would have been a cool and welcomed update, but Square Enix did not carry these improvements over to the Steam version of the game, which they stopped supporting years ago because Square Enix is… full of bees.

Now, I don’t really care about this story, as I know things will get worked out eventually, but this news reminded me of Lightning Return: Final Fantasy XIII-3 – Clairevengeance, and I want to talk about that game for a little while. I played the game a little over 5 years ago, and did not think it was particularly good, but it has stuck with me because it has one of the best and most interesting ideas for a setting that I have ever seen in a piece of fiction. 

Lightning Return: Final Fantasy XIII-3 – Clairevengeance is set in a world that experienced a great disaster 500 years ago, leaving behind only a series of islands that serve as the new home for humanity. However, and this is the weird part, humans also stopped aging 500 years ago and lost the ability to reproduce, meaning that everybody who is still alive when the story begins is over 500-years-old, but their appearances have not changed. The elderly are eternally elderly, children are eternally children, and the psychology of humanity should be vastly different, as humans are so long-lived and have been around the same people for half a millennium. Hell, the liveable landmass of the world is probably less than 100 square kilometers.

However, that all changes with the start of the game, where the god of this universe decides that humanity has had a good run and will be eliminated in 13 days, tasking the titular Claire Farron to help these people take care of their unfinished business and accept their demise. Meaning that the entire game is about this woman, enslaved by god, exploring this isolated society, learning about it, getting to know its people, and informing them that, after 500 years, death is finally here. That is SUCH a wonderful concept for a story, but the game completely botches it, and I don’t know how the people who devised this concept didn’t understand what they were working with. 

There’s no questline where the protagonist needs to go up to a 5-year-old kid who has been trying to work and mature beyond his body and lost their parents through some accident so long ago they forgot their faces. There is no questline where you meet with an elder person who just has absolutely nothing, lives in isolation, and, upon hearing that the end is near, is ecstatic that their suffering will come to an end. And there is no character who is simply fed up with this world for being this small shoebox and, upon being told that death is finally coming, decides to defy all reason and take a boat so they can either find a new land or die at sea. There is nothing even on that same tier.

There are so many things that you could do with this concept, but the developers seemingly did not know what they were working with here, and delivered a game that, while interesting, just does not deliver on what it set out to do. It all makes me wish that some other developer would take up this concept and fully commit to it, but that’s probably not going to happen.

Starting with a heated topic this past week, China has a history of trying to limit and regulate the games industry, and I will not pretend to know what their actual goals are with this. But what I do know is that China has implemented a restriction that will ban people under 18 years old from playing online games outside of three hour long intervals every week. 

Yes, three hour-long intervals every week. Not three hours a day, not even three hours a week. Three specific hours every week. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 20:00 to 21:00. Which is so little and so limited that I’m surprised they are not just outright prohibiting children from playing online games in general. 

Now, you might wonder what could possibly be the rationale for this move, and the article I found on this issue cites that this is a means of combating a national gaming addiction. I think the logic that China’s garbage-tier government is operating under is that, by limiting the amount of time children play video games, they will instead focus on developing skills that will advance the nation once they enter the workforce. However, that is not how children, reinforcement, or humans in general work.

When you give guidelines that are harsh or restrictive, you are basically telling people to find a workaround or way to circumvent these limitations. For example, this only applies to online games, so it is entirely possible for these children to instead find ways to access games with no online capabilities, most likely by emulating console games or by purchasing DRM-free versions of games. It is also entirely possible for these children to use a parent’s account to play these games (in China, you need to use a government-issued account for many services, including games), as adults do not face the same restrictions.

Limiting gaming time just urges children to spend their time with other leisure activities. It encourages them to talk to friends on social media, watch shows, watch videos, watch other people playing games, or partake in myriad other activities. 

If you want children to be more studious, you need to implement a reward system where you give them things of value in exchange for academic or extracurricular achievements. You need them to view school as a job and understand that they get bonuses if they meet performance milestones. Or, if the actual goal of this is to make kids more skilled than those in other nations, offer a paid apprenticeship program where children make a pittance, but gain valuable work skills. Because you know what the best way to get a child to do something is? Money. Kids will do the hardest and most menial crap if you give them money for it!

It pisses me off when governmental bodies lack such obvious foresight, and it is goldarn nightmarish that people who have the power to change lives and shape nations wear blinders when they look at the outside world, and spend their working days with their heads in a desk drawer that hasn’t been cleaned out since 1957.

Hopping away from bad news and back to good news, a 4chan leak popped up this past week, claiming that Sony is planning on bringing the console Uncharted games to PC as part of one extensive collection dubbed Uncharted The Naughty Dog PC Collection. Said collection is supposedly co-developed by Nixxes, who Sony acquired earlier this year, and is set to come out on December 7, 2021 via Steam and Epic Games Store.

Now, this is not a wholly unfounded concept, as Sony did previously state that they were bringing Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End to PC, but upon seeing this image and hearing this news, I was hesitant as to its legitimacy. However, various press outlets, such as GamesRadar, ScreenRant, and CBR, did act as if this reveal was indeed a legitimate leak, which makes me believe it will actually happen. And if so, that would be great, as many people adore this series and it is nice to have a good chunk of it on an evergreen platform that is popular worldwide.

However, notice that I said a “good chunk.” That’s because, and this is a mistake that many outlets made in reporting this story, as this collection does not contain the entire Uncharted series. This collection, based on the leaked image, contains Uncharted 1: Drake’s Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. However, it does not contain the PlayStation Vita launch title Uncharted: Golden Abyss, or the Vita card game spin-off, Uncharted: Fight for Fortune

Now, I would comment on how this is a pretty lame exclusion and is just another way that Sony is deliberately shunning the Vita, but no, that’s not what is happening. Sony does not think it is worth including these games in the collection, and that by omitting them, the sales of this collection will not increase enough to warrant developing ports for either of these games… and they’re probably right. While people might want fully complete collections, they are willing to settle for subpar samplers that only capture a snippet yet act like they are definitive. It’s why so many collections are lackluster and feel as if they do the bare minimum. Because if something makes the same amount of money, then why bother putting additional resources into it?

Moving onto a story that has indeed been corroborated by insider sources, this past week there has been buzz about Nintendo expanding their Nintendo Switch Online offerings with GameBoy and GameBoy Color titles. First it was mentioned on an episode of the Nate the Hate podcast, then NintendoLife picked the story up, before Eurogamer looked into this story and confirmed that this is indeed happening, and other retro consoles are in the cards. Or rather, “on the cards,” ‘cos they use the dirtbag English there. 

Now, this is indeed good news, as Nintendo is shoveling out more of its legacy titles for people to enjoy, and that is always nice to see. However… I am also super disinterested in this news as I find the Nintendo Switch Online emulation to be incredibly lackluster. When I emulate a game, I want three things. For the game to fill the screen as much as possible without compromising the aspect ratio, the ability to have plain black borders around it, and no sprite filtering. And… Nintendo got one of those things right.

This subpar emulation presentation, at least compared to unofficial PC emulation, made me incredibly disinterested in ever using this service. And while there are several quality GameBoy and GameBoy Color titles… pretty much all the good ones were and are available on the Nintendo 3DS, so this really is not all that exciting compared to, say, something that actually tries to rework, improve, and remaster older games. …Which you can find if you unofficially emulate games, as people do make enhancement mods for ROMs.

Header image was drawn by ONATaRT as part of a Patreon request back in 2017. I like to post this image from time to time, as it is a joke that pretty much only a small group of people would understand. The protagonist of Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning, is also known as Claire Farron, but only in the international versions of FF XIII. In the Japanese version, Lightning’s legal name is Eclair Farron. I don’t know why anybody thought that was a good name for a character, but they did, and after learning this little factoid, I could not get this image of Claire Farron transforming into an eclair out of my mind. So I had an artist immortalize this vision of mine, and it turned out better than I anticipated.

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