Rundown (10/10-10/16) Tax Season Has Ended — The Galaxy Is At Peace

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Wherein I discuss my Q4 plans, the frustrations of the Sub-Platinum, a surreal revival, how Nintendo is abusing their legacy for profit, and some crypto stuff.

After a week of crunching, working late nights, and jumping from client to client, my boss and I finally got through tax season and comfortably submitted all 2020 tax returns before the October 15th deadline. While I have been a tax accountant since 2018, this was the first year where I was working any sort of regular schedule. And while I am not happy with how we had to crunch near the end and work irregular hours, I am glad that I got so much done, help so many people with complicated tax problems, and had a good time doing it. 

This past week is when it really hammered home how much I actually enjoy being an accountant. I get to play pre-algebraic math and graphical design puzzles in Excel while listening to music. I get to manage files and consolidate information into a (mostly) sensible system in order to create something valuable, necessary, and helpful to clients. It combines a lot of things I enjoy doing with something that plays a larger role in society, and you can also make good money doing it if my current salary is any indication. It all makes me glad that I decided to go with this as my profession of choice instead of something harder or more demanding, like programming. 

…Also, because tax season is now over, things are going to be pretty lax for me these next two weeks. I want to say that this will result in more content… but that will not be the case. 

My current schedule is as follows:

  • Get my new PC up and running, which will take a day or two.
  • Play Metroid Dread and release a review on October 27th.
  • Finish up Natalie Rambles About Dragalia Lost – 2021 Remix by November 3rd.
  • Re-edit Psycho Shatter 1985: Black Vice Re;Birth by November 18th.
  • Finish writing the initial drafts of the remaining 2 chapters for Psycho Bullet Festival 2222 by November 18th.
  • Play and release a review for Pokémon Brilliant Diamond by December 1st.
  • Write, edit, and release TSF Series #012: Boxfort – An Escapist Transsexual Fantasy.

In between meeting these milestones, I hope to get around to Student Transfer Scenario reviews, but those, sadly, are at the bottom of my priority list. 

Jumping ahead to one of those items from my task list, previews recently dropped for Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. And while the titles are keeping many smart additions, such as accessing one’s Pokémon storage at any time, keeping the party-wide EXP share, and not incentivising the use of HM slaves, not all of this game’s changes are positive. I say this because it was revealed that the developers ditched one of the best innovations the series ever saw by bringing back single use TMs.

In the games released from 1996 to 2009, TMs were single-use items that could teach an applicable Pokémon a given move, but once. This all changed with Black and White in 2010, which let players use a TM an unlimited amount of times. Everybody liked this, and it was such a good quality of life feature that I do not think I ever used a TM when I played through Platinum back in 2019. Because I was THAT paranoid about needing them for something later on. But now, under the guise of paying tribute to the original, this archaic element is coming back and… I am once again reminded of why I should stop loving Pokémon. Because it is made by insane people.

Insane people who throw away a few innovations, while investing resources into recreating the subpar mini-games of the original release. The obtuse Poffin creation, Pokémon Contests, and reimagining hardware specific gimmicks in the name of paying tribute to the original. 

…I am dreading the inevitable mediocrity that this title will assuredly bring, and hope to get through it as quickly as possible, so I do not dawdle amongst the dread that Pokémon games instill me with nowadays. Hell, I ever planned out my team already, but I am putting as much thought into the composition as the developers did in changing this game’s underlying foundation. Meaning that I am planning on rolling with Torterra, Staraptor, Luxray, Houndoom, Floatzel, and Gardevoir. Except I am going to name them Notorious B.I.G., Old Dirty Bastard, Big Boi, Andre 3000, JUICE, and The Pharcyde, and I am going to name my player character Wu-Wu-Chan. Because I need to make this game fun for me somehow.

Moving on, Data East is one of those developers who were never a major or foundational name in the games industry, yet released an immense and impressive catalog of titles of unremarkable games. Their best known titles are probably BurgerTime, Windjammers, and Magical Drop— they definitely had their hands in some nifty, albeit obscure, stuff that might be of interest to retro-game-likers. However, Data East shut down in 2003, when their back catalog was acquired by G-Mode, a Marvelous subsidiary who has done little with these titles beyond licensing them out to ‘retro’ console makers.

Of these titles, one of the most re-released was probably Joe & Mac, also known as Caveman Ninja, or some combination of the two titles. It was not a particularly great game, being a standard caveman-themed action platformer, but it earned a good degree of recognition because it came out in arcades, NES, SNES, Game Boy, Amiga, and DOS. If you had a video game machine in the early 90s, you could probably play Joe & Mac, and with the rental market being what it was, many people wound up playing this game and remembered it to varying degrees.

Accordingly, it is not too surprising to hear that someone is attempting a reboot of Joe & Mac, and those someones are developer Mr. Nutz Studio and publisher Microids. Mr. Nutz Studio is a new developer that I could not find much information on, other than they are French and are working on a 2D Asterix & Obelix beat ‘em up. Microids is a French publisher who I know by name… but that’s pretty much it, as I do not know what their brand or image is supposed to be other than that of a B-tier publisher who puts out B-tier games.

This is an odd situation all-around, and I am curious as to how this project came to be. But the bottom line is that Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja is a revival of the series and will come out on undisclosed consoles in 2022. Only screenshots have been released, and while I do not care for the… Frenchness of it all, it at least seems like it is paying tribute to the original’s style. Plus, I am always glas to see platformers with crisp hand-drawn 2D animation.

Let’s see, what else can I gab on about… Well, there was an Animal Crossing Nintendo Direct that announced a final stream of content updates for New Horizons, and a piece of paid content by the name of Happy Home Paradise. I normally would not care about this, as I consider Animal Crossing to be… an inefficient premium offline live service with subpar farming features and an emphasis on grinding gold. 

However, I perked up from my catacomb when I heard that Happy Home Paradise will be available as both a $25 piece of DLC and as a bonus with a Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership. This is the higher subscription tier that Nintendo announced back in September— the one that lets players play a scattering of Nintendo 64 and Genesis games— which Nintendo announced would cost a whopping $50 per year. 

For $50 a year, players can access rudimentary online features on the platform, gain access to a collection of ROMs, and get a $25 piece of DLC for a game they may or may not own. I can break down and understand the economics of this plan, see how Nintendo justified these figures. And… Nintendo is just trying to find a way to perpetually make money off of games they released 38 to 20 years ago.

Nintendo has the best back catalog of any game developer of all time, but they do the worst job of preserving it. Precisely because they want to make a profit off of it and, after failing to see the desired level of profit with the Virtual Console, locked their catalog behind a subscription paywall. This is not an inherently evil practice, as it could keep their entire legacy alive and available for an affordable price, and encourage players to try out a wide spectrum of titles. But that is not what Nintendo is doing.

Instead of showing off their entire back catalog, they only offer a small selection of titles to players, and only the titles with the lowest worth or value. NES games, SNES games, and Nintendo 64 games. They could add hundreds of games to their subscription service, spanning over 20 years of first-party fully owned titles, but they don’t do that.

Why? Because they want to keep their audience hungry, clamouring, talking about their dreams, wishes, and desires. Because they do not want to offer a good value for a low price, as they want to perpetually preserve the value of their back catalog. Because they do not want to distract players from their current output. Because they want to give players just enough to subscribe, but not much else. And because they ran analyses and determined this is the most profitable move, same as any billion-dollar company who does anything.

I see this move for what it is. I know they are offering the Animal Crossing DLC as a bonus to get new subscribers to jump on because “it just costs an extra $5 and I probably won’t play it in a year.” Then, once they are in the system, Nintendo will slowly introduce more and more titles, so players start second guessing the value of the subscription, thus turning $20 in subscription revenue into $50 in subscription revenue.

…Or in other words, Nintendo is being greedy, manipulative, and this makes me want to save their entire back catalog onto an external hard drive, just for the sake of metaphorically flipping them the bird. 

Moving onto a less frustrating story, Steam recently banned games that use NFT or blockchain technology in some way. Valve did not say why they added this change to their platform, but the answer seems pretty simple. Because the world of cryptocurrency and blockchain is filled with bad faith actors, scam artists, and people who trick others out of their money. 

I personally think that blockchain technology has the potential to be used in the world of game or software design, and that the smart contract features of cryptocurrency are a potentially useful tool for financial management. But in its current form, all cryptocurrency is good for is allowing men to make millions by buying and selling digital assets as the market shifts to greater and greater heights. Which I say from personal experience, as I am a tax accountant who specializes in cryptocurrency. Also, I am using gendered language here because the world of crypto is overwhelmingly dominated by men, and of the dozen or so ‘crypto clients’ I have serviced, all of them have been men.

This would be a rather unremarkable story about Steam covering their rear and preventing people from getting scammed or manipulated. But right as Steam issued this ban, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said he is open to blockchain and NFT games on the Epic Games Store. Not because he believes in blockchain, he doesn’t. He is just saying this to be an alternative to Steam and make EGS seem like the progressive market leader. Which is just a wormy and pitiful move.

Epic does not actually care about anything but bringing in more revenue for their products and amassing more market share, and it is both refreshing and frustrating to see them be so transparent about these desires..

Header image comes from Insider by Loggerzed. I want to say that I have a good justification for using this image… but I don’t. I just wanted to use this image because I think it is hilarious and only gets better the longer you look at it. Stuff like this is one reason why I love Loggerzed’s work, because this image was made by a person with a clear vision. Someone who, while not the most adept in their field, made something frame worthy. The look of derpy shock on the catgirl’s face, the emaciated body and dead-eyes of the male, and the fact that there is what looks like a magical glowing penis growing out of the catgirl’s crotch— I just love it so, so much.

Insider itself is a pretty wack comic that could have just been about a guy crawling up a girl’s genitals and taking over her body. But it has some utterly wild flavor text that, in very few words, paints this grim, hyperbolic, and dystopian world where men are an oppressed slave caste while women are the ruling caste. But that only changes after 1.5 billion men manage to… merge(?) with the bodies of women and start brewing a revolution to grant equal rights among both genders/sexes. It is all so unnecessary yet so passionate, and I would not have it any other way.

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