Posted by: seanmalstrom | May 6, 2021

Shigeru Miyamoto on Physical Media

“Personally, I’m one of those guys who, even if I have all the songs from iTunes, I want the CD as well. I feel more reassured with that physical media,” said Miyamoto. “Entertainment is something that will not just become digital. If I look at Wii MotionPlus, this is something that you’re not doing via digital distribution. The thing for us is we really don’t see the future of video games being merely confined to digital distribution or moving solely or even to a majority of our products being distributed that way.”

Source

Posted by: seanmalstrom | May 4, 2021

Why did Miyamoto change?

I’m realizing more and more that I am a time capsule. I appear on the Internet, say something such as “X!”, and then gamers run around and cry that I said “X!”.

“How dare you say, X, Malstrom,” they say. “Where on earth did you get the idea that X is X?” asks another.

What I want to know is why did gamers get these STUPID ideas of what genres like Zelda and Metroid are about? Good grief.

For the longest time, I kept hammering that Zelda is a hybrid genre of computer RPG elements and arcade/action gameplay. AND I think Zelda II was a fantastic Zelda!

Fast forward a couple of decades, people for some reason think Zelda II is ‘terrible black sheep’ and that Zelda is nothing more than ‘story’ and ‘puzzles’. I couldn’t believe that. Where’d they get these crazy ideas? What’s next, that Metroid is about Samus Aran’s character development and not about… Metroids?

Of course, they probably have thought the same for me. On my side, I have proof of prior Nintendo quotes. One example would be Nintendo Fun Club Newsletter describing what Legend of Zelda is with its ‘best of both worlds’ analogy.

Well, HERE IS ANOTHER. This one is from 1992 before Link to the Past came out.

Interviewer: How would you describe Zelda?

Miyamoto: A kind of adventure game that’s got an RPG feel to it or RPG with some action touches to it.

Guys, I can’t make up these quotes. It’s right there. This is as recent as 1992. True, thirty years ago, but it shows that the concept of Zelda as RPG plus action parts wasn’t just for 8-bit. That definition extended into 16-bit Zelda.

Some ideas Miyamoto wanted to put in Link to the Past include…

Miyamoto: When you use fire in the field, we could have made the fire spread on it’s own, etc.

That idea showed up in Breath of the Wild. But Miyamoto says another idea. Listen!

Miyamoto: Or where you use a shovel to dig a canal and then destroying the lake boundary so the water seeps into the canal.

Perhaps that will be in Breath of the Wild 2.

Oh, and you so-called Zelda fans, get a taste of THIS QUOTE:

Interviewer: Any games similar to Zelda to be released in the future?

Miyamoto: How about Link’s Adventure on the Super Famicom?

And there you have it. If Zelda II was so hated, why is Miyamoto talking about putting a sequel to it on the SNES? Because it wasn’t hated. Because it was never a black sheep. The black sheep is Aonuma. Baaaahhhhh.

The true reason is that Zelda II blows up the Aonuma paradigm of Zelda. Zelda II is blatantly an action/RPG hybrid game. Why? Because that is what Zelda is. An action/RPG hybrid.

Above: Imagine a sequel to the best Zelda ever on the SNES. It would’ve blown Link to the Past away!

Posted by: seanmalstrom | May 4, 2021

Age of the Cowardly Lion

Above: A portrait of the reader.

What is the measurement of a man?

As I grow older, experience more of ‘life’, I am finding an interesting curiosity.

Everyone is ‘smart’.

“Even the stupid people?”

They’re the ‘smartest’ ones of all!

We have created a Religion of the Smart. A microcosm of this can be seen in the US university system as they fleece young people out of a great deal of money and time. What is the university selling? The idea of being ‘smart’. But it doesn’t end there.

If I ask you about nutrition, everyone becomes ‘smart’. “I eat whole vegetables.” “I am keto.” Everyone is so smart!

If I ask you about finance, everyone becomes ‘smart’. “I put extra money in my ROTH IRA.” “I buy crypto.” “I buy real estate.” Everyone is so smart!

But if I ask you about your dreams, everyone becomes stupid. “I do not know what my dreams are,” they might say. “It is a steady course,” they might reply, “of spending less than I earn. I must save for the rainy day!” Or “I am working for promotion/retirement.” And yet again, they all shake hands and declare themselves ‘smart’. “We are so smart!”

Everyone is smart! EVERYONE! It’s a miracle, reader!

Perhaps a Democrat has entered the room. Did you know that the Democrat will then talk of Republicans as ‘stupid people’ who ‘do not understand science’ or ‘anything else for that matter’?

Perhaps a Republican has entered the room. Did you know that the Republican will then talk of Democrats as ‘stupid animals’ who ‘do not understand the constitution’ or ‘anything of basic finance’?

Maybe I will find stupid people in prison. But nope! One prisoner says, “Yeah, I might be in for armed burglary, but I’m not a rapist! I’m not that stupid!” See! The prisoner is smart!

I go to another prisoner. He says, “I may be a rapist, but I am no child rapist. Now that is just really dumb and bad.”

What I’m observing here is not that ‘everyone is smart’ often by putting others down, whether it is true or not. I’m simply observing that EVERYONE now finds value in being ‘smart’.

“My IQ,” snorts the nerd, “is so high that everything I say is now authoritative.”

Then answer this question for me, oh so high IQ.

“Of course, Malstrom. My brilliant IQ will be able to answer anything.”

I do not know your IQ number. But I assume it is over 100.

“You assume rightly.”

And while I do not know your net worth, I know that you are not the wealthiest person out there.

“This is true.”

In fact, there are people who are ten times wealthier than you are. Many people are ten times wealthier.

“It cannot be denied.”

Therefore, how can this be? Do they have an IQ ten times you do? Do they have over a 1000 IQ?

“Do not be absurd, Malstrom,” snorts the nerd. “There is no such thing as 1000 IQ.”

But if IQ matters, why are they so much wealthier than you?

*crickets*

Clearly, IQ is not the most important variable in wealth generation.

“Perhaps it’s time, Malstrom.”

So you work 8 hours a day, and they work 80 hours a day?

“That is not possible.”

Right. So working more cannot be the answer.

I like the Wizard of Oz metaphor because there are three virtues shown in the book/movie. The scarecrow doesn’t have a brain. The tinman doesn’t have a heart. And the lion doesn’t have a medal for courage.

I see tons of people falling over themselves claiming they are the greatest scarecrow ever. “I’ve got the biggest brain!”

And to those who do not have the IQ or degrees, they fall over themselves claiming they are the greatest tinman ever. “I’ve got the biggest heart!”

But where are the lions?

Everyone is the cowardly lion. There are no displays of courage.

The reason why things are not changing in your life is because you’re scared. Fear drives most people. It is also what keeps turning people into scarecrows and tinmen. When a rare time a lion is around, they are called ‘stupid’ and ‘heartless’ which completely ignores the virtue the lion does represent: courage.

To be a successful soldier, it is not brains that is needed. Nor is it a heart. It is courage.

To be a successful businessman, it is not brains that is needed. Nor is it a heart. It is courage.

The reader complains, “Can you place this in a context that I can understand?”

OK. Take a young man who wants a hot babe.

“Oooohhhh,” says the reader. “I can relate to this!”

Will a big heart get the hot babe?

The reader laughs. “No. You just become her ‘friend’. A Nice Guy ‘friend’ haha.”

Will a big brain get the hot babe?

“Only if it translates to money. Girls don’t care about the smarts unless it brings in income.”

But what about courage?

“…”

It doesn’t matter how much the young man ‘studies’ woman. What matters is whether he pulls the trigger. Does he have the BALLS to ask her out?

“That is the question.”

And if he doesn’t have the BALLS, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS! It is because then no relationship is possible. His brain won’t matter. His heart won’t matter.

“You speak truly.”

Now translate that to everything else. You find the lagging variable in the Human being today is not SMARTS, not HEART, it is COURAGE. We are the Age of the Cowardly Lion.

“But how do you define courage?”

An excellent question. Courage, in this context, means ‘getting out of your comfort zone’. It explains why someone getting a third PHD will never become successful. That person may be getting more ‘smarts’, but that person refuses to leave his or her comfort zone. You cannot be successful without leaving your comfort zone.

“What other indicator is there that we are the Age of the Cowardly Lion?”

Look at the movies and the books. We make heroes of people who have attributes we desire. Poindexter is never seen as heroic. No one wants to watch a movie about a guy being ‘smart’. Or about a guy being ‘heart’. No. Courage defines everything in the movies we watch.

Ironically, in prior centuries, where courage was more common, other attributes were displayed.

“I need examples,” spouts the reader.

Shakespeare runs the round of all various virtues. Courage is shown, yes. Intelligence, however, is frequently mocked. In As You Like It, the courageous wrestler gets the girl while the intellectual, philosophizing Jaques is left alone in the forest. The ‘Heart’ is also shown but only from a position of strength, after the warrior has displayed courage and wins.

My point is that the reason why your life sucks is because you lack courage.

“Courage of what?”

Courage of your dreams. Your dreams suck, reader. You need to dream bigger.

“But bigger dreams means I am more likely to fail at them.”

And you’re scared to fail.

“That’s right.”

And that is why your life sucks.

Look, I have had the fortune to talk to some of the richest motherfuckers who’ve ever lived. People keep saying they are ‘smart’. They weren’t STUPID, but none of them were ‘smart’. People say they had big hearts who wanted to serve their fellow man, but they only did that in a selfish, profitable way.

No one wants to see the obvious because of what it implies in ourselves. They had courage.

Not the courage of jumping off buildings or the courage of jumping into the cannon’s mouth. It is the courage of bold dreams, and the courage to go after them.

They are ten times wealthier than the reader because the reader has small dreams. People who are very successful always talk in big terms like selling to the entire continent or something. The reader’s dreams may be something like ‘I want to buy some real estate and some bitcoin. Then… then I’ll be smart.” (Oh, that word again!)

Everyone I know who’ve become super successful have on thing in common: they were unconventional. That takes BALLS. I rarely see anyone ‘conventional’ win in the end.

The Cowardly Lion does not become rich. The Cowardly Lion does not get the girl. The Cowardly Lion creates a hell out of his life.

Above: How the readers live their lives. “Derrrpp. I need to be ‘smarter’ in order to become successful.” “I need to have more heart… DERPP.”

Fuck this way of living. ‘Smart’ now just a cover for lack of courage.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | May 4, 2021

Email: Pro is an Apple Term, not a Sony One

Hey Sean, hate to be a stickler here, but gotta point out a few things here in your recent blog post.

Yes, at one point in time, Sony was the company with the most powerful marketing brand; today, it’s Apple. To give you an example, Steve Jobs presented the president of the company at the time that most likely wasn’t Kaz Hirai of 599 US dollars fame a special version of Mac OSX running on their VAIO laptops (which, like a great artist that Apple is, stole the industrial design from and used it for their unibody Macbook line which hasn’t really changed for over a decade ever since it was introduced) well before they made it official that they were going to transition to using Intel processors for their own Macs, which happened on the same year the Xbox 360 was supposed to launch.

Now the tables have turned; the reason why Sony uses the word ‘Pro’ for their PlayStation systems is the same reason why Apple uses it for their Pro-branded machines: it’s only for the people who intend to use these things for professional use (ie- Playstation Pro users want to capture the best images that the hardware can push out to publish their content on the internet with, more consistent framerates due to more powerful hardware inside, etc.).

And your recommendation of calling the next under-the-hood hardware improvements to the switch the “Switch+” is still subconsciously channeling out Apple-styled marketing, since they used the word “Plus” for the largest iPhone size you could get prior to the introduction of the iPhone XS. Calling it a Switch + would not only confuse people into thinking they’re getting a bigger switch (which wouldn’t make sense since that’d break compatibility with the current joy cons unless “bigger” means “wider,” and I don’t think Japanese arms are that long to begin with lol), it’d make people think that there’s no major performance improvements under the hood of the system as well. That, and Sony also uses “Plus” on their platform as some sort of lame online service thing. I’m pretty sure Nintendo doesn’t want to confuse users all over again with incremental hardware updates to the switch like they did with the DS by calling them something like “NEW Nintendo 3DS/2DS” either.

A better Nintendeo-esque name of the first major switch revision would be called the “Super Switch.” Apple pulled a Nintendo by calling the iPhone X’s screen a “Super Retina” display, which they’ve stuck to calling every OLED iPhone screen to this day. And… that’s a surprisingly fitting name for that incremental improvement to that display. Super Retina XDR has an immediate impression similar to GameBoy Color too (both indicate you’re going to get a major improvement in the colors of what you’re looking at; at the former, it’s closer to the values high end professional video editors would use while the latter is literally being able to play your gameboy games with color, which was a crazy technical feat at the time since it had to retroactively apply those colors to games that were originally released on the game boy prior to this hardware revision).

If they wanted to make the new switch sound cooler, I’d go for something like “Switch Mk II.” That’s more Sega-esque though.

Anyway, enough about name semantics and marketing even though that’s actually pretty important given how badly the WiiU failed because of Nintendo’s carelessness in executing that side of the business for it. I do like your insight that the steroids from forcing people to stay indoors is starting to wear off as I’m seeing it myself where I currently live near a major metropolitan city. I’ve been working in retail since the lockdowns started last year, and the turnout of people entering the store has spiked dramatically in the last three weeks or so, which is actually making my job a lot more annoying because I’m getting stopped from my task in order to help customers with their problems along the way to my destination more often lol. Not only that, traffic’s been reaching close to normal levels now, which is also really annoying, and I’ve been seeing more crossing guards in the morning, which means that a lot of schools are starting to come back online as well. It’s a combination on the heavy emphasis on everyone being told to take the vaccine and feeling more confident in going outside after they take it that’s causing this huge surge of people to start wandering outside. So the switch is going to get competition from outside again real soon.

The other one with hyperinflation is something I haven’t personally seen yet, but I trust your instincts on this side of society, so if you’re saying that’s going to be playing a factor soon in everything, I’ll begin to take notice. I’m guessing that hyper-inflation will be a key factor in getting those switch lites to fly off the shelves, since it’s always the regular switch models that sell out right away in every store I’ve walked into. Video Game pricing hasn’t reflected this inflation yet, and my guess is that’s when the real cooling off begins.

If the prices stay the same while the inflation skyrockets for everything else, then we’ll see your prediction play out that video games will replace movies like in the century before it as the entertainment medium that all companies will capitalize on first before considering entering other entertainment markets. I can already see this happening since a lot of theaters remained closed for close to a year, forcing movie studios to either delay the theatrical release until they can safely guarantee that they can get the turnout numbers to get a decent ROI on the production of said movie, or they’re also simultaneously releasing those same movies through the streaming channels and hoping for the best from there.

But that’s enough of my rambling. Thanks for reading another crazy fan’s email and I’m looking forward to completion of the projects that you started on last year! They’ve been really fun to read!

Nintendo has used branding such as ‘DS Lite’ for DS or Gameboy Advance SP for that revision.

What I’m trying to say is that Nintendo isn’t going to brand similar to Sony. Ever. If Sony goes one way, Nintendo will go a different way. This is through products, branding, marketing, etc. There will not be a ‘Switch Pro’ because Sony calls their products ‘Pro’. It’ll be called something else, something ‘Nintendo-esque’.

My work has taken up more of my time so this blog has suffered due to it. That happens of course. You can only juggle so many balls and if I’m going to drop a ball, it’s going to be this one (as this one doesn’t give me any money haha).

Inflation is probably already here. Bank of America is warning of Hyper-Inflation. Michael Burry, of ‘The Big Short’ fame, was sounding the alarm on hyper inflation months ago and kept doing it until the SEC paid him a visit and shut him down.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | May 3, 2021

Nintendo going aggressive on Switch hardware

Read this story. It is about Nintendo wanting to produce 30 million more Switch along with Switch Pluses (Switch Pros which won’t be called Switch Pros because ‘Pro’ is a Sony term).

Nintendo would not be putting out this hardware unless they had the software to built momentum. I believe when the new model of Switch appears, some mega-software will be launching along with it.

People are surprised that the Switch is going to hit Wii and DS type numbers. I am not. I even said so when Switch was launched.

However, there are three things to keep in mind.

One, Switch does the job of both handheld and home console. Direct comparisons to handheld and home consoles are not exactly honest apples-to-apples comparisons. I think for the Switch to truly be successful it needs to sell DS + Wii numbers combined. No analyst or Nintendo will do this because that is not the perception they want.

Two, the lockdowns and pandemic have effectively banned Nintendo’s greatest competitor: Outside. With Outside banned or increasingly forbidden, Nintendo’s marketspace has a much greater ceiling. The question is how long will Outside be banned? And will Outside return as a competitor?

Three, we are in the calm before the storm. During the Wii and DS Eras, which I was here, the years of 2005-2007 were golden years for Nintendo. Then the recession of 2008 happened. This coincided with the Wii momentum collapsing in the United States in 2008.

The Wii and DS were designed to sell to new markets as Nintendo was fighting against demographic collapse of Japan. There is no demographic collapse of other nations such as the United States. This is why Wii sold so much better there.

But when the economic trends reversed, customers became much more savvy. Games like Wii Music were soundly rejected. Nintendo’s Wii ship slowed in the face of recessionary winds.

Nintendo assumed Wii’s console lifecycle was pretty much over. It would now slope downward. It had a good run. However, Iwata brought up how Pokemon rejuvenated the Gameboy. In 2009, NSMB Wii exploded the Wii market for December making it sell four million Wii systems. Nintendo was stunned.

So my prediction is that, very soon, an economic cliff will occur which will take out much of the momentum of the game console markets. It will be like 2008. I do not know the exact time this will happen, but it will happen. This ‘steroids’ of the gaming market due to the pandemic will be counteracted by economic downturn. It could be hyperinflation or something else. I’m witnessing inflation skyrocket everywhere else so I expect enthusiasm to eventually cool for the gaming stuff…

[The article has a paragraph stressing that Nintendo seeks a new Switch model to compete with the new Sony hardware. See? Nintendo is definitely competing. They are asymmetric competitors.]

Hey Sean, Glad to see you awake from your blog hibernation lol. Was saving this email for the moment I saw signs of your life back on here again.

So anyway, I was busy attempting to do a big review of this game and compare it to Octopath Traveler, as SaGa Frontier was clearly the target of their company’s history the developers were trying to beat ([just take a look at the back of the box art for the original US release if you don’t believe me](https://www.mobygames.com/images/covers/l/266657-saga-frontier-playstation-back-cover.jpg)), and they kinda did it. I was going to go into really huge detail, but life circumstances had to cut it really short to just a bunch of bullet points.

First off, Octopath Traveler had a really big advantage over SaGa Frontier, [being that the latter was literally rushed out the door](https://tcrf.net/SaGa_Frontier) (that, and Xenogears since they were released at around the same time, hmm…). Anyway, to show you how badly it was rushed, here’s some key things that were wrong with the game:

– Poorly optimized save system. You had to create a system save file that took one block of memory (it kept a record of your progress for each character story you’ve played, which unlocks a Chrono Trigger-esque Easter egg upon immediately completing the last character story in the game), and each actual save file of said character’s story took two blocks of system memory. Considering the standard Playstation Memory Card stored only 15 blocks and were one of the most expensive accessories that you needed to buy if you know, WANTED TO SAVE YOUR PROGRESS FOR ANY GAME THAT YOU PLAYED, you needed a minimum of 1/5th of your memory card free just to be able to play this game properly. No, just because you can save anywhere at anytime and have a maximum of 15 party members is no excuse; final fantasy tactics only took one block of space and had to store more data than just 15 party members. Same with metal gear solid.
– There were sections of your character’s story that had stat check encounters that you had to guess through trial and error to see if you were at the right level to overcome it. The thing is, the pacing’s really, really off; you could be in one part of the character’s story and take care of the issue without a problem, then immediately go into the next part of the story and get completely wrecked because the boss’ stats were 3x that if the previous encounter. This is one pain point Octopath Traveler fixes, since it gives you a recommended baseline level you need to be at before you start the next “chapter” so to speak. Since the character’s stories were pretty short (like, ocotpath traveler short), a lot of time was spent usually finding the party members you wanted and grinding the party that you’ve made and going through the same spots to get the spells/gear/skills before you decided to tackle the next encounter for each story. 
–  The other big problem with SaGa frontier stems from the previous bullet point: since it wasn’t too clear whether or not you were ready for the next “chapter” of the character’s story, you could be locked into a dungeon that you couldn’t escape from. The developers tried to mitigate this problem by implementing a Quick Save feature (yeah, even the developers were aware of how stupid their save system was) that instantly saved your current story progress inside the playstation’s system RAM for as long as the game was running  at the blink of eye (see how badly they programmed the memory card save feature?), which was meant for situations where you weren’t too sure if the next part of the story locked you into a dungeon you couldn’t leave if you realized you weren’t quite ready for it. Once again, octopath traveler fixes this problem by allowing you to backtrack if you realize you’re in over your head and can come back to that spot later when you’re better equipped. 
– SaGa Frontier, for its debut release on the PlayStation, was meant to have nine invidual character stories, but had to scrap one because the tone didn’t fit well with the other eight (!). Time constraints dropped it to 7, but realistically you had only six unique stories. 1 story had no real… story (Lute) since they didn’t even have any time flesh it out, let alone give you a proper hint to a specific NPC they’ll reply with something along the lines of HEY IF YOU TALK TO ME AGAIN I WILL SEND US TO THE FINAL DUNGEON AND YOU WON’T EVEN KNOW IT BECAUSE OF HOW RANDOM ENCOUNTERS WORK since you could literally run into them immediately from wandering around the overworld after the opening cutscene. Another story had its ending requirements changed (Asellus) to tie in more with her unique game mechanics instead of visiting certain locations (this change personally was a lot better).  

TL;DR- Octopath Traveler pretty much removed the pain points of  getting stuck in an unwinnable situation because you didn’t properly prepare (aka- grind) for the next section of the character’s story (except for Lute, because his only story segment triggers by talking to said NPC and agreeing to go there). However, SaGa Frontier still beats Octopath Traveler in a lot of ways:

– If you thought Octopath Traveler was hard, SaGa Frontier is brutal. The game does not hand-hold you as to how any aspect of combat actually works, let alone give you any tooltip as to what anything does. Depending on what species your party member is, they have different methods of learning skills, and certain story protagonists have access to ones not readily available on top of all this. This isn’t a big issue if you’ve played a SaGa title before, but considering this was my first SaGa game, it was the Square RPG that graduated me from a newb to an experienced veteran of the genre (it was so brutal that I thought the developers were wussies for making Saga Frontier 2’s combat less difficult and capping the damage to 9999 instead of… 99999? I never got that high of a number, only around 30K-ish). There is literally a boss in the game that doesn’t test you to see how well you can manage your party’s skill point reserve and pound their 6-digit HP down to zero, but how well you can do level 5 combination attacks, and you can’t spam the same skills to trigger said level 5 combination attacks all the time! Oh you know what else? You couldn’t run away from any fight. Ever. You either won, or died. Either that, or I never found that feature since I was playing the game without a manual and was a moron to not use gamefaqs for help.
– The graphics look really dated now (hey, no looking at the remaster yet!), but it’s still technically superior than Acquire’s efforts with their 2D-HD look using Unreal Engine (the combat engine, that is). The sprites look muddy, but they’re more animated (with no flag-warping tearing in the sprites either whenever the camera moves around!), have way more personality, and do a better job looking believable in a 3D space than Octopath Traveler does. They even did a good job blending in 3D effects with the sprites and the camera does stuff that not even Octopath Traveler can pull off, and are just barely coming to grips with in that PTSD game. I mean, [just look at this final boss fight.](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psdY0xgQu08) This comparison is unfair, but it goes to show you what Squaresoft could do at their peak with 2D sprite graphics (this technically wasn’t their peak; Legend of Mana and Saga Frontier 2 look much better, but still have crappy colors with slightly blurry sprites which I was never able to fathom why they did that until the Wha Happun? Series covered Bubsy 3D) compared to now where they have to relearn everything all over again
– Remember how I hinted about Lute’ story in regards to random encounters but never explained it yet? It’s pretty brilliant, actually. Simply put, the strength of the monsters scale to the overall stats of your main party (there’s a very technical reason as to why you can have up to three parties of 5 members, but I’m not going to go into that here). In other words, your main party can accidentally level up to the point where the random encounters are more difficult than the story bosses themselves, especially when you didn’t buy the right equipment to be able to deal/take the damage that scales up with the monsters you encounter! Sure, it makes no sense that you’re wandering around a high-tech factory and then SUDDENLY DRAGONS in your random encounter, but I’d rather have that instead of monsters that do fit the theme of the place but are a pushover because my party accidentally over-leveled or over-geared.
– This was also the last SaGa title that used a science fantasy setting. I didn’t have a manual to read, but apparently the reason the game is called SaGa Frontier is because the game modeled its setting after the Five Star Stories, where different planets contained different civilizations of differing technological and cultural settings and people can travel between them like they’re riding a bus. That’s why one story was a combination of charlie’s angels mixed with a detective plot that involves a fiancé murder, one that’s literally a homage to Japanese superheroes, another that’s high-tech, two that’s high-fantasy, one that’s gothic fantasy, and one that doesn’t have a story (sorry, Lute).

TL;DR- Sean, I think SaGa frontier is probably a good way to detox yourself after playing games from Squeenix’s amateur hour developers trying to emulate the magical success of using Unreal Engine like [Arc Systems does,](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ox11CCHilmo) but fail miserably at. I just took  a peek at the remastered graphics, and even I want to buy a hard copy from play-asia, despite putting 120 hours into the game many, many, many years ago.

The game is goofy as hell. There seems to be lack of cohesion. There already isn’t an overriding narrative. But I see things like a space ship as a party member (WTF!? Hahahaha), a girl character with bunny ears (oh no!), and other things that give me the cringe reaction.

I haven’t been able to get into the combat style of SAGA games. Maybe I need to put more time into it.

I don’t want to do direct comparisons, but if you love Saga Frontier, that’s great. Unfortunately, it looks like a game I would have difficulty getting into.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 21, 2021

Hades Lasting Impressions

There has been much hype about one game in particular lately: Hades. Does this game warrant the hype?

I bought the physical edition of Hades on the Switch, dear reader. I didn’t finish it. But I did sink several days of time into it (10+ hours). How does the game fare?

First of all, I don’t think I’ve enjoyed any of Supergiant (or whatever the name of the company is) games. I’m not going to go into the reason why.

I actually like Hades. The game is very smartly made. If you like rogue type games, this is one to get. There are options in the game even if you don’t like rogue like games.

What I think elevates Hades beyond a ‘polished’ game is its use of classic mythology. Apparently, the developers realized that actual mythology is far more interesting and imaginative than any of their ‘creativity’! When people play Hades, they get an interest in the mythology and actually look it up! The game is exposing people to actual culture! Imagine that!

Why was Lord of the Rings so effective with the imagination?

“It is because,” says the reader, “that Tolkien was a smart guy.”

It is true that Tolkien was very smart. But there are other smart people. Why does Lord of the Rings succeed while other works do not?

A big reason why is that Tolkien was primarily interested in classic mythology, classic religions, classic views of the universe from the ancients. All this knowledge has been building by many, many people for thousands of years and the interesting stuff was filtered through time. Time is like a water filter that separates the boring stuff from interesting stuff. What gets filtered out is what we call ‘history’. It’s why history is filled with wars and assassinations and not ‘someone walks across the street’ type stuff.

Did you know that the purpose of ancient mythology to explain mathematical star charting? It’s true! But mathematical star charting is very boring as most math is. What people remember are the stories. Eventually, that is all we know.

The Bible is a supreme form of literature with many non-entertaining parts that probably should be edited out if read for literature. Do we need pages of genealogy or the Book of Leviticus? If it weren’t for Sola Scriptura, perhaps we wouldn’t have those more boring parts. We’d just have the more cool stuff from Adam and Eve, Moses, to Armageddon.

The point is that our imagination sucks compared to GENERATIONS of ancient knowledge of whatever culture of the past. The Hades developers were wise enough to realize that actual mythology is more interesting and exciting than their ‘creative passions’ could ever formulate.

In addition to this, playing the game of Hades is now not just playing a game. It is interacting with actual mythology. This gives the game a value edge that other games do not have!

Do you think other game developers will learn from this?

Of course not. They’ll go, “Time to focus on my creative passions, I am a genius!” and keep flooding the market with dreck.

I ask them, “Why did the classics become classic?”

“Because,” they reply, “they were first.”

No.

Where you see Donkey Kong, I see King Kong.

Where you see Super Mario Brothers, I see Alice in Wonderland.

Where you see Final Fantasy, I see Bahamurata.

Where you see WRPG, I see Lord of the Rings.

Where you see Metroid, I see Alien.

Where you see Contra, I see Rambo.

Where you see Starcraft, I see Aliens, Robotech, and a huge slab of Starship Troopers.

Great artists don’t create. Great artists STEAL.

What do they steal from? From the analog world. As industries and people become more and more digital, they lose the connection to the analog world. No more will there be game developers like Shigeru Miyamoto putting in his experience of going into a mountain and being surprised to find a lake into the Legend of Zelda. The new generations of game developers just create derivatives from prior works.

Could the first generation of game developers have been so great not because they were ‘first’ but because they were all raised in an analog world? Maybe. George Lucas made Star Wars with his memories of very old 1950s TV (the text scroll at the beginning) as well as the monomyth ideas of ancient tales. Curiously, as George Lucas went more digital, the less interesting Star Wars became.

“And then came the third trilogy with Disney…”

There is no such thing as a third Star Wars trilogy.

Blazing Chrome is actually a near complete rip-off of the Sega Genesis game Contra Hard Corps although it feels somehow easier and more inviting to play than the Sega game ever was.

The closest thing we ever got to a Contra III the Alien Wars…well not rip off since Konami made this game too was the Wii Ware Contra Reborn I think it was called game. Sadly Konami stupidly gimped that game by removing all the controls that the superior Contra III SNES game had plus I think I’ve heard it be said the Wii Ware game was far shorter.

In anycase I truly wish some indie dev or Konami themselves would get a clue already and make some real 2D style successors/sequels to Alien Wars on the old SNES but streamlined so there’s precisely none of those garbage top down levels and just maximum gameplay fun and badassery with a bangin soundtrack.

I’d literally throw money at Konami or any indie dev for such a game but they keep insisting on putting all of their efforts into creating Metroidvanias.

Guys come on already…

The market is saturated with those.

Enough for now.

Plz make a badass side scrolling shooter that completely rips off Contra III the Alien Wars in its full SNES control scheme but with slightly better graphics and sound as befits the technology we have available to us in current year 2021.

But I’m too busy making the spiritual successor to Final Fantasy VI/ Octopath Traveler/ Ultima IV!

If I am able to make another game, I’m targeting this one…

Mario is seen flying using the "Raccoon Mario" power-up over a yellow/gold background. The Game's logo appears on the top and the game's tagline appears on the bottom.

Enough is enough. Since Nintendo refuses to make it, I’ll take their market. No longer am I going to sit here wasting words into the void about Nintendo making the next great Mario, Zelda, and Metroid games. They’re 75% there with Zelda but seem to be in complete shock and denial over the reasons for its success (Aonuma syndrome) so I expect Zelda to go backwards from here on. With Metroid, they have no clue (Sakamoto syndrome) so Metroid 4 is the last ditch effort of Retro to save the IP. And with Mario, they are hostile to the reasons for its success and longevity (Miyamoto syndrome) [ex: “They just like the character of Mario, they don’t care about the world!”].

If they won’t make the games I want, I’ll make them. But first, I’m targeting Squaresoft/Enix/Whatever-They-Want-To-Be-Named-Today. I love how games these days have teams of hundreds if not thousands yet no one is able to stop the mediocre high-graphical dreck that keeps coming out.

How can these companies be so out of touch from the market? I’ll tell you why. They’re drunk on the digital kool-aid. The more time you spend in the Analog World, the better game maker you become. In Digital World, you become crazy.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 19, 2021

First Impressions of various Switch games

Let me write these down before I forget. Most were played in January.

Blossom Tales

This game should be right for me since I love Link to the Past. But I did not like this game. I know the game sold very well. Either many people are happy with it or it came out early during the Switch lifecycle.

Got bored and dropped it fast. Why?

Too much text. This seems to be an issue with every indie game. In the games indie games are emulating (8-bit and 16-bit), text was limited for two primary reasons: cartridge space and children-as-gamers. Even a meaty RPG like Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI has surprising very little text in it (mostly composed of single syllable words).

Reading text is problematic because the player isn’t playing. Also, text doesn’t carry audio-visual strength as, say, a cinematic would which makes it even more annoying. The areas where text does work is when it is expertly refined to fan the flames of imagination (think NES Shadowgate or PC’s Star Control 2). Even then, text is tightly controlled.

Second reason was the controls. They seemed so sloppy. Link to the Past has exact controls which makes the game feel fun.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Blossom Tales art style, but it is an indie game so I overlooked it. But I couldn’t overlook the controls and text. The ‘jokes’ the indie game developers are doing aren’t nearly as entertaining as they think. It all translates to the player not playing when the player should be doing something instead of ‘beholding the screen’. I’d rather just replay Link to the Past.

Blazing Chrome

This game is a Contra 3 inspired game. I love Contra 3. Why don’t I like this game?

Again, I’m not a fan of the controls. I forget exactly why.

I enjoyed the pixel work of Blazing Chrome. But Contra 3 does an excellent job with pacing that I feel Blazing Chrome lacks. Blazing Chrome also seems harder than it should be but that could have been the controls. I got bored with it.

Puyo Puyo Tetris 2

Puyo Puyo Tetris is one of my favorite Switch games (I know it is on many systems). It is almost a perfect game! How does Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 fare?

It is… more of the same. I’m glad the game has a sequel. But you won’t find much ‘new’ in it. It won’t be as fresh as the original Puyo puyo Tetris.

If I was younger, I would put more time into this game. But I am old so I suck at being so fast at the game. Oh well.

The ‘RPG Mode’ was what I was much interested in, but it is essentially the first game’s single player with an overworld map (with lanes more like SMB 3). That didn’t do it for me.

I’m not the biggest fan of the crazy anime faces and voices as I wasn’t in the original. It makes playing single player annoying unfortunately.

What I do LOVE is to watch replays of online players. I like to watch the top games of all these tetronomoes falling perfectly into screen-wide clears. How do these players do that? How do they set up such massive puyo puyo tetris chains?

Puyo Puyo Tetris is to Tetris what Starcraft 2 is to Starcraft. Great if you are a competive player. It’s a great local multiplayer game to boot. But if you already have the first game, you won’t need the second unless you are interested with online play.

Indivisible

This game has beautiful art, and it is an interesting twist on the RPG formula (it is a platformer RPG! Not like Zelda 2, more like the overworld is 2d Metroidvania).

The art is absolutely stunning, and I was genuinely sucked into the game. However, the game’s balance problems emerged which made me turn off the game and walk away. A damn shame.

Developers, please play your own games. If you’re going to make an RPG, you can’t rely on the story or art to save you. Your game has to be fun, by itself, if you were just playing the battles. I know this because I am figuring it out with my own RPG.

Bravely Default II

This is the biggest crash and burn for me. The battle system I’m not the biggest fan of, but I absolutely can’t stand the graphical art and story. They all triggered the ‘burn it with fire’ instincts inside me. Do the Japanese even LIKE this style? Or do they just ignore all that and just focus on the min-maxing battle system? It has to be the latter.

Why did the early Bravely Default games sell well at first then drop like a rock? Bait and switch marketing. The bait was that this is a classic RPG. The reality is that this is the shittiest, sloppiest, full-of-Japanese-tropes story and graphics. It’s not that I did not enjoy this game. I despised it. The game actually makes me hostile to it. Strangely enough, I had the opposite reaction to Octopath Traveler which has the same producer.

The people responsible for Octopath Traveler, Bravely Default, and Project Triangle, please listen to this: your story telling and world building suck. You have no talent for this. The battle systems are why people are playing your game. Octopath’s world is more neutral (some of its stories are all out cringe though, but they are in small doses so it is at least digestible).

I know some will disagree and love Bravely Default 2 graphics and story. And that is good for them. But I’m not one of them. If the company is not happy with Bravely Default 2’s sales, it will be easy to point to why. I think Bravely Default 2 will start out strong in sales then immediately crash.

I think Octopath is the much better direction I’d want RPGs to evolve toward rather than Bravely Default 2.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 19, 2021

Replaying Octopath

I’ve decided to replay Octopath. It is the first time I’ve replayed it since the game came out. I am replaying it on Switch.

I own Bravely Defaults on the 3DS and Bravely Default 2 on the Switch. I simply can’t get into those games. The art style just brings me out. I know the battle system is similar, but I put down the controller and say, “I do not want to play this.”

Octopath Traveler absorbs me… but not in all ways.

HOLY MOLY! Those intro chapters are CRINGE INDUCING BAD WRITING. With the exception of Primerose’s tale, the chapters are all coma-inducing-insomnia-solving exercises on the player. Story is NOT the strength of Octopath Traveler.

Other minuses are the stupid map design. Ooohhh, optical illusions are hiding the treasure chest! …stupid. I feel stupid every time I get one of those treasure chests because the trail is ‘hidden’ by the 3d-2d bullshit. They’re not hard to find, they’re simply not fun. And the items inside are always a stupid healing grape or something.

Minuses and pluses of Octopath I can see after doing all intro chapters (15 hours of playtime):

-Story

-Exploration

-Map Design

+Spritework

+Battle System

+Music

+Graphics and production work.

What makes Octopath Traveler ‘fun’ is the ‘growth’ and goals as well as experimentation that comes from building up your characters. I don’t mean in levels. I mean in gaining new skills, job skills, and skills from other jobs, as well as new weapons and armor.

Levels don’t tend to be that big of factor in this game. Weapons, however, are huge. I dislike how this game encourages so much ‘cheesing’ as in spam stealing everything and everything… even at 3% steal rates. Hello GrandPort! (Yes, I know how you can boost the Steal Rate in the cities. But you need more Scrutinize and Provoke skills, some of which are hard locked at certain levels.)

The monsters are uninspiring. The world atmosphere is well done, but none of it is imaginative. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before.

Americans and Japanese have two different definitions of the JRPG… and it is due to a split caused by the 16-bit Era.

Japanese believe the JRPG experience is Final Fantasy V (systems, job classes, mix and matching…).

Americans believe the JRPG experience is Final Fantasy VI and VII (story, atmosphere, character, plot twists…).

Final Fantasy IV came to America as an ‘easy mode’. So Final Fantasy IV, which I think is the flagship definition of the JRPG, is seen by Americans as story, adventure, and characters.

Octopath Traveler will not appeal to those looking for adventure, story, or characters. It will appeal to those looking for a better battle system over the 16-bit systems.

Of all the games that Switch brought us, there are a few I consider ‘top’ games such as Breath of the Wild. Octopath Traveler was on my list. When initially replaying it, I thought I must have been nuts. The writing is so boring. But as I passed the intro chapters, I realized why it was addictive. The battle system and growing your character skills are very fun and something I haven’t seen in a long while.

Why is the writing bad? First, they use words where there shouldn’t be any words. They have characters declare their friendships and love for each other for some reason instead of using visuals or stagecraft to imply it. Too many words!

Story writing requires extremes for it to be entertaining. Primrose’s tale works because it is so extreme. A bunny ranch with murders with a villain preposterously evil that you want to hate. The other stories are nowhere near extreme. They are boiler plate, not spicy enough. Hence, they become boring.

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