Just For Fun, Folks!

I wrote this as a social media post long ago, but it deserves a place here! Enjoy!

Inspired by the Portal board game, I have devised a list of potential board game ideas to pitch to Hasbro:
Mighty No. 9: Just copy the Mega Man board game, but do a half-assed job at it.

Konami: The Board Game: You are one of the top executives at Konami, and you’ve been looking to restructure the company by laying waste to your intellectual property. Players work together to sabotage valuable IPs through neglect, outsourcing to no-name developers for Silent Hill, and making completely inappropriate pachinko slot machines out of Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, and Castlevania. The game ends when players land on the “Fire Hideo Kojima and Burn the Evidence of P.T’s existence” space. The player that cares the least wins.

Shenmue: Explore an incredibly detailed board while reading the cards as monotone as possible. While there is combat, the real fun is getting to collect capsule toys and drinking soda. When you get to the third section of the game, wait for at least fifteen years to resume play. But you can always go back and ask around for sailors.

Fanboys: Are you too emotionally attached to a consumer product as a way to compensate for the lack of meaning in your life? Fantastic, you can meet up online with and argue over which gaming platform is the best! Earn points by successfully annoying your target into stepping away from the computer in rage, and don’t be afraid to play the “death threat” card. Points don’t matter because no one you’re defending actually cares about you, but watch out! If the moderators find your rambling, you could be banned. The expansion includes “PC master race” pawn, updated spec wanking, and a shaker full of salt.

Videogame Movie Adaptations: You’re a plucky Hollywood executive trying to reach the coveted 18-35 year old crowd, but there just aren’t enough superheroes to go around these days. You can always try to be the one executive who manages to make that first great videogame movie adaptation! Buy the rights to a popular franchise without doing any prior research into whether or not it has any cinematic value.  Bank on its marketability, but come to the cold realization that you’ve joined literally every other one of these in existence. The game ends when one the players reveal themselves to be Uwe Boll.

Disproportionate Outrage: Did a publisher move a character just a few pixels to the left? Were they caught in the egregious act of removing a gratuitous panty shot? Well, you’re all about that artistic expression, right? Send hate mail, useless petitions, death threats, rape threats, and whatever means are at your disposal to get what you want. Remember, your devotion to a piece of media takes precedence over a real person’s life! Comes with double standard rules that ignore when Square-Enix has to clothe a male character more modestly. For some reason, that’s not such a big deal…

Half-Life 3: Just an empty box.

The Apathy of Mighty No. 9

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As with many game releases, I often hold back for a while in order to get a more accurate and less charged point of view. I had heard of the infamous “Mighty No. 9”, helmed by Keiji Inafune. While he was not the creator of the Mega Man franchise as is often believed, he certainly was a major part of it.

There is a certain element of modern folklore to Mighty No. 9’s development history. Indeed, many can easily recount Mighty No. 9’s rise and fall.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Capcom virtually demolished the Mega Man franchise after Keiji Inafune’s severance, relegating the property to cameo appearances (which varied from extremely unflattering to being fairly well-received) and an abysmal mobile game with gameplay so stripped down that it was easily replicated within 24 hours, minus the card game aspect.

So fans were eager to back Inafune’s Kickstarter, the spiritual successor to Mega Man known as Mighty No. 9. But how was that going to play out?

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Capcom And Konami’s Ongoing PR Nightmare

 

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Photo by Alvimann at Morguefile.com

I find the game industry to be an unusual specimen of sorts. The interplay between fans and media creators is a tangled mess that will largely be explored in “Fear and Loathing on the Internet”, but I do want to call attention to a certain pattern of corporate behavior.

Today we’re going to talk about two large game publishers, Capcom and Konami. For the uninitiated, Capcom and Konami cut their teeth early on in gaming history. Capcom became well-known for franchises such as Mega Man, Street Fighter, and Resident Evil. Konami became well-known for franchises such as Metal Gear, Castlevania, and Silent Hill.

But, take a quick glance at internet forums and you’ll find the discussions regarding Capcom and Konami to be largely very denigrating. What on Earth happened?

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Day of the DLC

 

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Photo by OfDoom at Morguefile.com

I am not a man of nostalgia. My impression of video games, as a whole, has improved over time. My childhood may be have been filled with moments of legitimate joy, but it was also filled with many more times of trial and error. Gameplay conventions that I appreciate about the modern state of gaming were absent. I recall trying to play the original System Shock and being shocked that it required the player to use a slider on one of its many intimidating user interfaces just to look up. It was an era before mouselook, an era in which I was uncomfortable travelling.

But just as it would be inaccurate to view my personal childhood through rose-colored glasses, so too would it be inaccurate to view the present state of gaming through the same lens.

My largest gripe is the surge in DLC or downloadable content. DLC is pretty self-explanatory in concept. Previously, additions to a game could only be released for PC games as expansions. Consoles for the most were absent from this process, though the lock-on cartridge for Sonic 3 and Knuckles could be argued as its own form of an expansion pack (though it would be more accurate to describe it as a standalone expansion). As the Dreamcast introduced online connectivity, and the original Xbox introduced hard drive storage, it was now possible for a game to receive patches and updates from the internet.

But, the widespread adoption of DLC came quickly, and without structure. People were still trying to figure out what to do with it. Arguably, they still are. But what was happening as a result?

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No Man’s Sky and The Death of Hype Culture

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I’m certain that I’m late to the party on this subject, but I do want to throw in my two cents on the broader pattern of the presence of “hype culture”. The recent release of “No Man’s Sky” helps to highlight a key problem with how consumers and media creators interact.

Hype culture is the result of the process of elevating the consumer’s expectations through tantalizing press releases, trailers, demos, or other forms of marketing and promotion that are meant to produce “buzz”. After the product is promoted, consumers begin to jump on the bandwagon in anticipation for release.

But does this expectation always match with reality? To that, we turn to the case study of No Man’s Sky. What happened with No Man’s Sky, and why did it turn out the way that it did?

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Gamers Gather For A Smashing Good Time at CCBC

Everyone was crammed into the dimly lit room. Around them were several projectors, each of them playing a game. Game consoles varied from old classics like the Sega Dreamcast to the latest generation such as the Wii U.

One crowd of gamers were playing Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. Another were playing Dead or Alive 5. Others were playing Killer Instinct. Two projectors were playing Super Smash Brothers.

No doubt, everyone was having a good time. Club president Chris Mason Hale noted in particular the popularity of Super Smash Brothers, “We try to change it up, but…it’s what [people] come for.” Vice President Linda Brainerd added, “We have such a high volume of club participation, Smash Brothers seems to be the best choice because you have the capability of playing [with] up to eight people at one time. Nevertheless, they also voiced their enthusiasm for other games such as Super Street Fighter and Pokken Tournament.

Brainerd went on to describe her favorite parts of video game club. “It is the aspect of bringing people together that are like-minded and see them make friends.” Hale agreed, “A lot of people who come to club, I don’t think would be in the same groups without the club. I think we introduce a lot of people who normally wouldn’t cross paths…”

Secretary Quentin Stefano said “My favorite aspect is the community itself. We are a very big organization on the campus, one of the biggest. We are also one of the friendliest. We welcome anyone and everyone to our club.”

The star of the show was definitely Super Smash Brothers. The colorful, quirky fighter was the biggest draw by far, and many were lined up to play it. Whether it was competitive or casual play, Smash Brothers was at the top of the list.

Super Smash Brothers was first introduced on the Nintendo 64. Designed as a budget game, it quickly became popular with gamers around the world. While the first game was not well-known for its competitive scene, it did find an audience.

Unlike most fighting games, which rely on depleting your opponent’s health through attacks, the main goal of Super Smash Brothers is to knock your opponents out of the ring. As a character takes damage, they are launched further and further away from the attack. This act of “launching” a character offscreen is the main way that players deplete a set stock of lives. Once the stock is depleted, the player is considered defeated.

The competitive scene really came into its own upon the release of the game’s sequel, Super Smash Brothers Melee. Improved game mechanics, new characters, and a tournament-friendly style of play made it a go-to favorite for tournament players. Even to this day, Super Smash Brothers Melee is being played competitively.

Melee’s popularity with the community has resulted in tournament communities cropping up around the world. At anime conventions, Melee is often one of the top games played competitively. People line up with their old Nintendo Gamecube controllers just to play the fabled game.

Upon the release of the Nintendo Wii, fans were greeted with teases for a new game. The game, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, was the third and most controversial edition of the game. Support within the tournament community was not as strong as it is for Melee.

There are several reasons for this. The addition of a “tripping” mechanic in Brawl felt that power was being taken away from the players. Additionally, the physics were changed to a “floatier” style, making people fight more defensively. The addition of “Meta Knight” has been widely scorned by the community and most tournaments explicitly ban the character from use.

However, when the Wii U came out, another Super Smash Brothers looked quite promising. Super Smash Brothers for Wii U, colloquially called “Smash 4” was well-received by critics and fans alike. This version also came out with a companion version for the Nintendo 3DS. Several of the fans’ biggest gripes were officially dealt with in Smash 4. The tripping mechanic was removed and several characters were altered or “nerfed”.

This edition of Smash Brothers also had downloadable content or “DLC”, characters and stages that were added into the game after launch. One example is the popular Cloud Strife from the video game Final Fantasy VII, as well as the sultry Bayonetta who has graced the console with Bayonetta 2.

Regardless of whether it was Smash, Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, or any of the other games at the club – it was clear that everyone was having fun and getting to know each other. With such an enjoyable pastime, it’s clear that the club has a bright future ahead of it.