Rundown (2/27-3/05) Miserable Suckful CPR

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Wherein I discuss how I listened to a mashup over 250 times on loop this past week, Pokémon Gen9, a physical only collection of classic games, and the big politics invading gaming!

This past week, I have been preoccupied with a particularly stubborn partnership return for a cryptocurrency mining company. I can’t divulge details for obvious reasons, but I wound up needing to do special allocations for income and revenue after one of the partners left partway through the year. And these allocations needed to be repeated across 6 states. Which should be easy, but every state does things a bit differently, meaning I need to do some absolutely stupid things to get the return right. Like manually calculating the depreciation for all assets in the Illinois return, even though not every asset is in Illinois, and then allocate that depreciation to two partners.

I eventually got everything right, but it was an hours-long multi-day process, during which I only retained my flaking sanity by listening to Misery X CPR on loop. A mashup that became something of a meme on YouTube, TickTock, and Twitter in late 2021, but I discovered it two months late via this nifty little animation.

So, what about this song compelled me to listen to it so many times? Well, musical analysis is far from my forte. However, the core of it is that Misery X CPR is something that I can listen to intently when I feel like it, and something I can listen to passively while concentrating on a moderately complex task. It is a vocally-driven song with discernible lyrics, which keep me stimulated when working on something dull, but the words of the song are not prominent enough to distract me. The mashup has a consistent structure from start to end, beginning with Misery before introducing CPR as a high-speed pitched up chorus that lasts for about 30 seconds, fades away for about 20 seconds, then returns. It gives the song some appreciated variety. The fade in and out offers a short, yet pleasant, break from a constant stream of music. And with a runtime of 3:28, the song never feels like it is dragging on.

Or in other words, it is a very well-balanced song for repeated playback… and it is also incredibly vulgar

Misery literally starts with the singer talking about how scared he is of breaking his penis when it bends in some girl’s vagina. While CPR is a hyper-sexual gag song with the line “I save dick by giving it CPR” repeated several times. Both songs are super explicit, but when merged together and just listened to casually, it is not immediately obvious how lewd the lyrics are. 

This mashup is also an instance where I think the songs might work better together than they do separately. On its own, Misery is a pretty standard pop love song, about a relationship going bad and the man trying to maintain communication with the woman. But the song’s music video, which has over 400 million views on YouTube, completely transforms the song’s tone and meaning by… basically being a parody.

The music video is this wackadoo hyper-sexualized slapstick schtick where this horndog keeps trying to get in this girl’s pants. But she keeps beating the crap out of him, bashing his head between doors, throwing him into cars, and pulling out a freaking rocket launcher. It’s hyperbolic and sexualized in a way that normally turns me off of music videos, but it works in the video… In fact, the video itself is so entertaining that it makes the song seem lame and generic by comparison. So, um… good-job, bad-job, I guess.

I’m also not crazy about CPR. The slurping sounds, the echoing screams, the deeper and more androgynous voice of the female singer, CupcakKe, and the higher-pitched backing vocals of a woman feigning the sounds of sex. It is has big “Imma fuck you in an alley and Imma make you cum” energy, and I can’t say I really vibe with that. I still respect what it is trying to do, but I prefer the version by EnVtuber Akuma Nihmune, whose performance and the more uniform backing vocals gives the song more of a sultry and intimate tone. Or to spin this another way, the original is ‘I’m gonna fuck you’ while Nihmune’s version is ‘c’mon, let’s fuck’. That’s a galaxy of difference!

While I’m at it, the Reeses Puff version of Misery X CPR is fine, but it robs the original two-part mashup of certain qualities for the sake of humor. It is funny, but it is a worse song.

…I like how I’m not even trying to tie in these intros to anything anymore and just go on 500 to 1,000 word tirades. It’s great fun!

Let’s start off this week by following up on an acquisition story from December 2020. Back when Sony decided to broaden their stake in the global anime industry by purchasing Crunchyroll from AT&T. With their goal being to broaden their stake in the global anime industry by merging Crunchyroll, Inc., the largest English-language distributor of Anime in the word, with the largest English-language anime dubbing studio in the world, Funimation. This gave way to a year-long corporate reconstruction that resulted in Crunchyroll, Inc. becoming the subsidiary of Funimation, who changed their name from Funimation to Crunchyroll LLC. Or in other words, the old Crunchyroll is Crunchyroll Inc. and Funimation is now Crunchyroll LLC.

Now that things are finally restructured, Crunchyroll announced that Funimation content is coming to the Crunchyroll platform, and that all future Funimation content for the Spring 2022 anime season, beginning in April, will be only available on Crunchyroll. Meaning that Funimation, as a platform, is dead, and it lives on in Crunchyroll. And as a name… it might stick around for a while, or it might not. You never know with these things.

None of this is all too surprising. Just about everybody and their dog predicted that these two companies would merge in some way and they would create a unifying service. A service that, thanks to a surplus of new content, can justify raising its prices over time. As I said back in December 2020, this is a worrying precedent. And I think that this will hurt the industry in the long-run as the anime industry starts becoming dependent on Crunchyroll to distribute their work. Plus, you know that Sony is looking to expand Crunchyroll even further. 

Unfortunately, this is something I cannot feel too passionately about, mostly because I only watch about one anime a year nowadays. 

On that note, I will review the anime adaptation of Metamorphosis sometime in July. I know it’s going to be worse than the manga (which I love) but I’m willing to give it a go, even if it is just to analyze why it doesn’t work.

Speaking of streaming services, Netflix is still aiming to enter gaming in a major way, and they made another step in this grand ethereal plan by buying up Next Games. With Next Games being a mobile developer known for games based on Stranger Things and The Walking Dead, two shows that are popular on Netflix’s platform. So there is reason to suspect that, in order to retain this valuable partnership, Netflix bought the studio outright, so they can exclusively make games for Netflix or Netflix-adjacent intellectual properties.

Given the revenue that Next Games has brought in over the years, it was almost inevitable that they were going to be scouted by a bigger company. Based on their focus on licensed properties, I cannot help but assume that this acquisition was part of the owner’s business plans. To break into the lucrative mobile games space with licensed properties in order to attract a buyer, allowing the shareholders to make mad bank in slightly over 10 years of hard work and long hours. Or in other words, Next Games probably did exactly what the owners were hoping to do when the company started up… Yeah, I can’t get too mad about that.

Next up, we are jumping to Indonesia. A country that I know very little about beyond the fact that they are home to oodles of growing industries, both in manufacturing and tech, and they are the second biggest country in terms of Nigma Box readership. I have absolutely no clue why, but I get more Indonesian viewers than UK, Japanese, and Canadian viewers. It’s weird, but cool!

Anyway, the story is that Indonesian game developer Toge Productions acquired fellow Indonesian developer Tahoe Games. With Toge Productions being a growing independent developer, who is probably best known for their 2020 relationship-driven barista simulator Coffee Talk. Which was something of an indie darling during the early days of the pandemic, as it focused on a simple intimacy that people were deprived of. Meanwhile, Tahoe Games is a far smaller developer who is best known for Rising Hell, a 2021 roguelite action game that seems to have been met with a warm reception. 

Toge is clearly aiming to become a bigger developer and help establish more of a game development presence in this country. And the acquisition of Tahoe seems to be less about any sort of money and more for the mutual benefit of both parties, as Toge offers Tohoe more resources, and Tohoe offers Toge more skilled and passionate developers. Or in other words, I think this is a good acquisition, as it is helping smaller companies grow into mid-scale companies and helping to establish a game development scene in a growing economy.

So far, this week’s slew of acquisitions has been sensible, but then Epic announced that they were not acquiring another game developer, but rather the music platform Bandcamp. Now, this is not unprecedented. Last year, Epic acquired ArtStation and SketchFab, so they are clearly invested in… buying creative tools used by artists, but I truly am not sure what their ultimate goal of these acquisitions is. …Unless they somehow plan on integrating these tools with Unreal Engine? Regardless, I still dislike the precedent these acquisitions represent. One, because I do not want Epic to become a megacorp (even though they already have). And two, because whenever Epic makes money, Tencent, their 40% owner, makes money.

I really hope that this acquisition does not materially affect Bandcamp from either a user or creator perspective, as I consider them the best music distribution platform. They were born before the streaming age, and are one of the few music platforms still designed around storing and preserving music instead of streaming it via a service where you retain nothing once it leaves your ears. 

Bandcamp is about giving artists as much money as possible, providing customers with high-quality files, and giving the customer the ability to choose how to manage their collection. When I buy stuff from them, I don’t need to deal with the lagoon-ish interfaces of iTunes, which always runs like crap, or Amazon Music, which is only somewhat acceptable.

Also, yes, I just outed myself as an old who doesn’t like streaming music, but instead saves all her music on her computer. I get the appeal of streaming, and it is great for discoverability, but I prefer to have a greater connection with music, and you forge a better connection with a collection— with something you can control. Also, NEVER trust platforms to preserve content hosted on them. That is why I have a 1 TB SATA SSD with 15 GB of videos, 129GB of images, 28 GB of The Comedy Button, and 37 GB of music. All of which I back up onto an internal 1 TB HDD every Sunday, and back up onto an external 4 TB HDD whenever I remember to do so (like once a year, maybe).

February ended this past week and, as is the annual tradition, The Pokémon Company held another Pokémon Presents event to commemorate the… 26th anniversary of the Pokémon series. Which means they want to show what projects will be released within the next year. Or more accurately, it showed off what events were currently going on, or coming to, a deluge of currently released titles. Including Pokémon Go, Pokémon Masters EX, Pokémon Café Remix, and Pokémon Unite. I have to wonder how TPC expects anybody to keep up with all of those games, but I suppose they are positioning these four titles as more ‘catch-alls’ than anything else. If you are not interested in A, then you should be interested in B, C, or D.

Regarding the console games, GameFreak is doing a Mystery Gift distribution for Shaymin in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. Which, despite being something baked into the game, is still a piece of arbitrarily limited content that will only be distributed for a month. Meaning that if I want to get the content (and I really don’t care about mythical Pokémon duplicates), I will need to turn Brilliant Diamond back on. Which I do not want to do.

As I alluded to in my review, Pokémon Legends: Arceus basically ‘retired’ my interest and tolerance with the old format of the Pokémon series. Speaking of which, despite being a month old, PLA is already getting content updates, which look like they will take the form of dedicated version updates instead of a DLC season pass. And this first major update is little more than a repackaging of existing content and new features to make certain Pokémon available earlier or through more accessible means. Nothing too crazy, but a sign that there will be future support for this game.

But still, considering its success, I need to ask why there is no season pass, and the answer soon came in the form of the second mainline Pokémon game coming out in 2022. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. …My first impression was that those are the worst version names since Diamond and Pearl. They asked players to choose between diamond, one of the strongest and most valuable minerals on Earth, and pearl, a shiny rock made by clams that is only really used for cheap jewelry.

Scarlet and Violet are clearly meant to be a throwback to the Red and Blue or Ruby and Sapphire convention that was continued with the color schemes of X and Y and Sword and Shield. One version is red, the other is blue. Except for here, where they decided to go with a standard nice shade of red, and violet, which confuses me. I think Scarlet and Cobalt, or Indigo, would have been a far better pair of version names, but I’m being super pedantic here. Violet is my favorite color anyway, so I guess I’m not complaining for any reason greater than… this makes the autistic side of my brain angry because it is unorganized and goes against an established structure.

Anyway, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet both look to be iterations based heavily off of Pokémon Legends: Arceus. They have the wide, open, explorable biomes, what appears to be a centralized HUB city, battles that take place in the ‘overworld,’ and Pokémon who organically wander about. As it stands, its biggest technical differential over PLA is the introduction of new textures for Pokémon, which is nice, but it does not look to help the game in regards to its performance. I know a lot of optimization needs to be done, but you can see the framerate, field of view, and resolution problems seen in PLA in this trailer.

I would consider this an obvious fault. However, I think this is just a limitation that GameFreak keeps running into due to the limited power of the Switch and the fact that they cannot really afford to rebuild the core technology of Pokémon. It’s an unfortunate reality, but one that I’ve chosen to accept rather than criticize. Sure, you could point out how games that are doing very different things look better on Switch, but I think that’s missing the point.

Instead, the only ways the games can really iterate is with minor technical achievements and different visual designs, which they are kind of doing with the human characters. We only got a close-up of the child protagonists, who look to be students of some sort of Pokémon school, but their eyes are circles instead of ovals, and… I don’t really like that. Their eyes are a bit too short, their irises are circles instead of ovals, and they look different… for the sake of looking different.

The starter Pokémon were also revealed. As per usual, they are a gaggle of cuties, but I personally view them as marketing tools more than anything relevant to the gameplay experience. They receive copious amounts of fan art, are featured heavily in marketing and merchandise, but when playing the game, they typically evolve past their first form within the first 10% of a playthrough. And if I were to guess, I’d imagine that people spend about 60% of a playthrough with the fully evolved starter. So I tend to view the final evolution as the ‘real’ form.

Plus, you really cannot predict the final evolutions of starter Pokémon based on their first form. Not in regards to type or design. If that were the case, Litten’s final evolution would have been a quadrupedal feline instead of a cat man wrestler and Grookey wouldn’t completely change its color scheme and get a drum out of nowhere. I just hope that the fire starter winds up being a fire dragon, which is a wonderful type, but they’re probably going to make them a fire poison type or something lame like that. 

Last week, I eye-rolling-ly dismissed the announcement of Wonder Boy Collection for being a subpar collection that only featured 4 games in a series with 6 distinct entries. Which was a real bad look considering there was a similar, but better, collection released in 2007 for the PS2. Well, it turns out that part of the reason Wonder Boy Collection is so lame is that publisher Strictly Limited Games is putting out the ‘proper’ version of this collection, Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection

Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection is a compilation of Wonder Boy, Wonder Boy in Monster Land, Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, Wonder Boy in Monster World, and Monster World IV. Furthermore, the compilation features multiple versions of all these titles, including every version previously featured in Sega’s 2007 collection, Sega Ages Vol.29: Monster World Complete Collection, but with more international/western versions of the same games.

This sounds great, and like what the Wonder Boy Collection should have been, so why are there two collections? Well, this is likely some sort of deal with Strictly Limited Games, as they, in their infinite wisdom, decided that they wanted the expanded Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection to be a physical exclusive. While WBC can be purchased physically and digitally, WBAC can only be purchased in limited quantities in the form of marked up collections of various tiers. 

Now, I get the core idea of what Strictly Limited is doing here. If you sell things in a limited quantity, there is a good chance they will sell to both fans and collectors. But digitally, you can sell unlimited copies with no COGS. And you would have an easier time selling digital copies if you market it as the complete collection of the series, and earn good word of mouth for putting out a definitive compilation. Plus… you already did the work, so why bother with the regular Wonder Boy Collection at all when you could just put out Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection? You are needlessly fragmenting a niche re-release and using such similar names that I’m sure that even people interested in this collection will be confused. And they should be. Because what you’re doing here is just stupid.

Next up… I do not like talking about a lot of topical global stuff in these Rundowns, but the video game industry has been responding to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

What Russia is doing here is baseless, horrific, regressive, and just… a deplorable waste of resources. Cities are being demolished, people are being displaced, homes are being abandoned, and basically every NATO country is expending resources to aid the refugees from this conflict. But the biggest lost resource is, naturally, the human lives that have been lost and will be lost as the conflict escalates. I have nothing but disdain for the government of Russia, and I encourage all with a decent chunk of disposable income to support those displaced or harmed through the ramifications of this conflict.

The reason why I think this is an unavoidable topic is because several video game companies have been standing against Russia, and their ally Belarus, by blocking access to online storefronts. This kicked off with the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, Mykhailo Fedorov, requesting that Xbox and PlayStation prevent sales in Russia. 

Following this, various game companies began preventing Russian/Belarusian users from accessing their storefronts. While I am not sure if this prevents them from accessing services via VPNs and the like, this will undoubtedly inconvenience Russian citizens. While this sounds petty, this incovneincent can and will enourage some to urge them to end this conflict. Even if they only want to end the war so they can play the latest and hottest video games.

  • CD Projekt Red suspended digital sales of all games on GOG to Russia and Belarus.
  • Electronic Arts suspended all digital sales and in-game currency purchases in Russia and Belarus, and are looking into removing their titles from the regions. 
  • Nintendo quietly sent the Russian Switch eShop into maintenance mode to remove the option for users to pay with rubles, and hopefully it will stay down.
  • Sony removed Gran Turismo 7 from sale in Russia, which… is at least something.
  • Epic Games suspended all commerce from Russia in their games.

Though, the big takeaway for me is how Microsoft suspended “all new sales of Microsoft products and services” in Russia. This means that current subscriptions will continue, but Russians can no longer purchase Windows, Microsoft Office, or any of Microsoft’s sleuth of services, including Xbox video games. All of which is meant to discourage Russian users of Microsoft’s services, and use Microsoft’s near-monopoly to help shift a war effect by inconveniencing millions of people. Or at least inconvenience them without outright removing their ability to read their email, use Office, or rob them of services that are essential to do their jobs. Which I think is for the best. While a hard shutdown of all ongoing services might be more effective, that would dramatically inconvenience the entire Russian population and likely result in the closure of hundreds of businesses.

All in all, good show on behalf of the games industry, but I would like to see Nintendo and Sony take a more definitive stance on the matter, blocking all further sales and shipments to Russia. Hell, I would love to see all major streaming services, social media platforms, and VPNs stop working in Russia. Because if you take away people’s access to Twitter, Netflix, and YouTube, they will be standing outside the head office with signs, spitting vile at their government for being a bunch of war-loving militaristic shitbags.

Also, and this showed up after this post was all queued, but Visa and Mastercard both suspended all operations in Russia, and the two cards account for 74% of all transactions in the country… Yeah, video games are pretty paltry compared to that. If the rest of the global services of the world telling Russia to ‘stop it’ doesn’t help, then I don’t know what will.

The album artwork used in the header image is the cover image of An Audiophile’s Nightmare, a collaborative mashup album headed by Jab50Yen. I listened to the album sometime in late 2015, did not care for it, but I loved the cover art. So I decided to use it as a generic cover art whenever a song or album lacked a visual component I could incorporate in my MusicBee library.

Yes, I use MusicBee. It works well for my purposes and I have no desire to change to a ‘superior’ music playing platform, or embracing scrobbling to keep my library consistent. Again, I’m an old 27-year-young lady!

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