Wednesday, October 30, 2013

MadCap's Mad Rantings - "PETA Member Traumatized by...ARE YOU SERIOUS?!" here.

The sheer ignorance and stupidity of this singular woman, one Miranda Bryant - who is apparently a member of PETA, a group I've bit at the ankles of before - is just so breathtaking. Literally, I've got no words for this. At all. I can feel my faith in humanity being dragged out by the collar and beaten to death with the whiffleball bat.

So, I'm gonna go grab two girlies and a beer that's cold.

Except without the beer...

...or the girlies...

Ah, hell, forget the whole thing...

Friday, October 25, 2013

MadCap's Game Reviews - Halloween 2013 Special
"This is not your story..."
What if your life was nothing more than a script? A predetermined set of conflicts and resolutions to be played out to a final conclusion? What if you had no control over any of it? That you were meant to play these events out to the end regardless of any outside factors or interference?

And what if you were the only one in the entire world who didn’t know what was happening?

And worse…what if even that was something that was callously taken away from you?
The paint begins to chip...
Pokémon:  False Red is a ROM hack of the FireRed and LeafGreen versions for the GBA.  It plays out exactly as those games do in terms of mechanics…but it had had some alterations made to it that are not quite what one would expect from a game in this universe.  We enter into the life of a young boy named Fire (or a girl named Leaf, if you choose that option).  He’s ten years old and eager to begin an exciting journey in the world of Pokémon, specifically in the Kanto region of the Pokémon world where the original first generation games (Red, Blue, and Yellow) and some of the third generation (the aforementioned FireRed and LeafGreen) were largely set in.  However, we have not come back to the Kanto that was so beloved by fans of the series.

Starting in his room, the first thing that draws Fire’s eye is a SNES.  This was his.”  How very strange…his, not mine.  Not some generic, chipper line about the SNES.  Just, “This was his.”  And a sign by the stairs stating only two words:

“Come home.”

Fire is haunted by these words, surely, but we get no visible reaction (as he’s in that tradition of silent protagonists) as he heads downstairs and sees on the TV a boy standing on a mountain, but who is he?  And then turning to his Mother…who claims that all boys leave home someday just like her son!  Bizarre…perplexing…even creepy, some might say.  After all, Fire is her son…right? RIGHT?!

It’s snowing outside…it’s always snowing.  No explanation, no mention, it’s not even a feature that gets discussed by the NPCs.  But it’s there.  A quick glance at the Pallet Town sign reveals that this is “His hometown”.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, this is something right out of creepypasta.  And a really effective one at that.  But so far as I have been able to find, this isn’t based on a creepypasta in the same vein as the “Creepy Black” or “Tarnished Gold” creepypastas.  In fact, the closest I could find to it was “Glitchy Red”, which – while similar – isn’t quite the same.  It doesn’t stop there with the unnerving atmosphere and the signs everywhere demanding the same thing – “Come home”.  This atmosphere is maintained throughout pretty much the entire game, which otherwise runs exactly as Pokémon FireRed does.  The exceptions being in the dialogue, which is fairly easy for a ROM hack to see changed, considering the original game had no voices for characters. Just text…and how chillingly well it is used.

This is no better demonstrated than with the Rival character, Gary.  Immediately upon meeting him in Oak’s Lab, he calls Fire out as not being Red…wonders why he looks so much like him, and claims that this is not Fire’s story.  Even after being defeated, he vows to stop Fire from stealing Red’s story, no matter the cost.  It seems that Professor Oak doesn’t even take notice of this…until you take a look at his computer and read the message “I’m sorry.  We couldn’t find him.

And, outside of his rival, Fire finds himself blasted by others for having the same appearance and doing the same things as Red.  The Nurse Joys at every Pokémon Center drop their traditional farewell for “Please don’t come back.”  The posts in the Gyms all refer to the Winning Trainers as “RED” and “Green”.  The strange man in the Gyms encourages Fire to “give up” at every turn.  Characters will wonder why Fire’s bothering to catalogue Pokémon when someone else already did it.  Even some compliments that Fire gets are mean spirited and backhanded.

Now, anyone who has played the Second Generation games (Gold, Silver and Crystal) or has played their Fourth Generation remakes (HeartGold and SoulSilver) will know that the true final battle of the game is not the Elite Four, but is a mysterious trainer named Red who stands at the peak of Mount Silver awaiting any challenge brave enough to make their way up the mountain, a mountain where it snows quite often…and how very interesting it is that it seems to snow everywhere in Kanto in False Red.

This, in combination with how many NPCs tend to speak of Red, leads us to the implication that he has died at some point after defeating the Elite Four and travelling to Mount Silver, and was never found.  Is he missing? Is he dead? No one seems to know, but given Fire’s journey and his striking resemblance to their fallen hero, most of the people are very unhappy.  To them, he’s a copycat, but it’s more than just that in this world.

Again, the sign posts.  The strange flavor text about items and objects in the world.  And those two words, repeated again and again.  “Come home”.  And it is indeed everywhere.  Anyone playing the game would be hard pressed to find a sign that doesn’t have those two words. And what does Fire say about this? Nothing.  He’s a silent protagonist, nothing more, but that only leaves us to ponder the horror of the thing ourselves.  Just what is going on here?  Is Red dead? Is he missing? Is he the sinister hand behind all of this?  And if Fire’s not Red, then who or what is he?

Well, the short answer is that there is no answer.  No clue, no reason for any of this being.  At the end of the game, once Fire has stopped Gary in his insane tirade to stop him from “taking Red’s story”, Professor Oak arrives and announces that both he and Gary are done playing – “This is not a game.” And with that line, Oak takes Fire back to register his Pokémon for victory…and the save file is erased.  Fire’s journey for all it meant and didn’t mean, for all he achieved and all ground that was retreaded, comes to an end…with no record of it ever having happened at all.

So…what have we learned? What is this besides some mad hacker’s skill at editing a game’s graphics and dialogue?

My theory is that the game is a metaphor, a living avatar of the series of games and its relation to the fans.  Consider the Pokémon games in general.  Most players will substitute their own name for Red’s or Gold’s or any of the other protagonists.  In the end, though, it isn’t our story. Just as the original Red and Blue were Red’s story.  Not that anyone who plays a Pokémon game would ever have a second thought about slapping their name on the player character and playing through it.  To us, it’s just a game.
A game that, when you get down to it, has the same plot repeated again and again.

A young trainer journeys out into the world to become the best like no one ever was.

So it’s nothing more than a script…a predetermined set of conflicts and resolutions to be played out to a final conclusion, and with no real control of any of it.  But this time, the events don’t play out quite the same.  Outside factors and interference stop that, in the end.  The entire world knows it’s happening, and it stops it, forever.

Is Red dead? Missing? The story may never have really been his to begin with.  His image, everything he is, taken over and controlled by someone else.  The Player, as the game recognizes at the end…is responsible for it all.  The one who has taken Red’s face and his path in life and made it entirely their own for their own entertainment. It brings some weight to it all, leaves us to really ponder just how many lives have been overwritten in these games and in others we’ve played…how we have been the real monster the whole time.  Did the Warden really save all of Thedas from the Fifth Blight? Did Jack ever save Rapture? Did Link ever really defeat Gandorf? 

And did Red ever really become the best like no one ever was?

He may very well have never had the chance…because of every player out there who ever picked up a Pokémon cartridge. 

That may just be rampant speculation about the meaning of the game.  Crazed and unsubstantiated.  But as for False Red, I can’t say I dislike it.  The atmosphere is really good and with GBA graphics, no less. It’s chilling, unnerving, and did actually make me ponder a possibility – something which games rarely do.  I will say, though, that I was a little disappointed with the ending.  While I’m all for the breaking of the fourth wall, the ending seemed rather sudden and out of nowhere, and gave no real resolution, though that might just feed back into the game’s cruelty in general (after all, it’s not your story).  Apart from that, it’s a chilling walk that makes us wonder if the real antagonist in video games…is really…us?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

MadCap's Mad Ranting - "ANOTHER Alien Game?"

Oh, dear, it seems that our dear friends at SEGA are at it again with the Alien franchise. This time, instead of making a grossly inadequate "sequel" to an all time classic...they're making a grossly inadequate "sequel" to an all time classic.  This time, instead of Aliens, they're going right back to Alien...with a plot line that is slightly less of gigantic plothole creator. Apparently developed by British studio The Creative Assembly (with nary a Gearbox in sight, and my opinion improves immensely) since some time in 2011, where Sega West boss Mike Hayes was quoted as saying:  "This is very much a triple-A project. We want this to be a peer with the likes of Dead Space 2."

So...over the top gory whilst taking itself way too seriously? Doesn't sound like Alien at all.

This time, instead of breaking canon in a way that makes fans of the films throw their controllers through their televisions in blind rage, we're getting a protagonist in the form of Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen Ripley who passed away in the fifty seven years between Alien and Aliens.  This in theory can work, given that Wayland-Yutani is known for fabricating or outright suppressing the truth when it suits their needs, and they really wouldn't have had anything to gain from informing her mother of any of her exploits or - if it comes to it - her ultimate fate.  So point there.  From a storyline perspective, this could work.

Work far better than - say - the surface of a planet that should by all rights be uninhabitable being the setting, a not only improbable but completely impossible return of a character from the end of Aliens that only gets a throwaway line that actually doesn't explain anything, and a crappy cliffhanger that really drives home just how much time we wasted on the steaming pile of crap.

Where I have a problem is in concept. Apparently, there's only one of the Xenomorphs running around for most of the game.  This make sense, much like the original Alien, where there was only one such creature running about the Nostromo.  Being within the confined space with such a creature only added to the tension, which Alien played with very well.  Now, this could theoretically work for this game...

...except it's an FPS.

...and the developers have dropped the words "clones and soldiers".

If you remember, one of my criticisms for the game that must not be named was that SEGA and Gearbox decided to juxtapose fighting the titular Alien menace...with Wayland-Yutani soldiers that really didn't have much of a place in a Survival Horror game.  Then again, there really was nothing horrific about that game besides the fact that it was so much as greenlit, so nevermind that.

I just really hope that this game doesn't turn into Colonial Marines 2:  Electric Boogaloo, because after that abysmal mess of a game, we really deserve a lot better.  It seems, though, that SEGA is at least trying to learn from the mistakes of the past - and I say more power to them. Not having Randy Pitchford anywhere near it is a good first step.  The next good step is the first party studio working on the game to "ensure it hits a higher quality bar".

Really, guys, when your latest competition is still under the floor of Satan's wine cellar, you don't have too far to shoot for.

Just make a game that's not a walking reference, an enemy AI that's actually halfway competent, and drop the whole "clones and soldiers" crap for a real survival horror game.  Y'know, like the one that we were promised earlier this year? Please? And put the funding where it belongs, though with a first-party developer, I won't imagine we'll have that problem.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Halloween 2013 Teaser"

I know you've all been marking your calendars for the long-awaited holiday of Halloween. More important, I know you've been waiting patiently for this year's Halloween special after my last one. Well, don't worry. While I might not have acquired a game as awesome as Symphony of the Night, I have gotten a hold of a particular game that I think will  A̴͚͈̤̫͔̮ͯ͒̅̂̇ͯ̅͢l̝̮̙̮͍̱̳ͣ̈͡͞͝l̷̖̜͍͕̟̜̪ͦͦ̃̿ͨ͛ͩ͛́ ̸̨̦̘̯̫̔ͭ͋ͫ̿ͩ̎Iͫ͐̒ͪ͐ͦ҉̖͎̮ ̡͇̱͕̩̔̆w̷̴̡̥̝͗a̧ͥ̒̚҉̵͍̮̝ͅn̯̩͎̱̩͖͍͇ͩ̉̐͛̆ͭ̿͊͢t̫̻̬̒͌ͥ̔̎ ̰͇͖̗͙͙̙̞̘̏̐̈̆̅̍͟į̸̸̬͖̠̤̗͙͉̭̒̂̅͂́̒͑s̡͉̤̗͚̝̘̃͐̐͆̂ ̡̡̻͎̠͖͓̪̽͛͂͐ͪͭ͂ͅͅm̬͉͍̘̍͊͋y͗ͦ̈́̒ͭ͏͡҉̭͖͍̙͓͍ ̜̲̣̩̜͈̇ͣ̽͐̕f̆̽҉̼̜͔̜̻̥̜r̻̗͌͢͝i̭͔̮͕͖̦̎̀ͯ̓̎́̋̄ȅ̶̟̥͉̙̞̝̕ͅn̢͇̥̝͔̏ͣ͢d̴̺̳̹̣͚ͩ̽̀̓ͧ͑ͥ̕,͔̖̬̤͖̠̣ͬ͛́ ̻̠̮̜͇̝̜̘ͬ̌̉̿͌͟m̶̞̫͓̭͊̃̀ͥ̆͒̆́́ͅỷ̺͓̰̦͌͢ ̖͕͎̲̲̈̿ͫ͝ͅr̗̹̞̩̠̟̝ͫ͊ͭͬ̽ͦî̧̝̩͉̭̥̥̗͉̊͌̕͘v̯̻̭̎ͬͨͨ͟a͙̰̬̎͛͑ͦͯ̌͘l̷̢͙̊̒ͦ͘ ̤̬̯̺̬̔͂̒͒̋ͦ͡b̘͈͚͓̮̟͈ͭ̿ͩa͍͚ͬ͑ͤ̈́̚c͔̠ͬ̉ͬ̎͟k̜̬̑̆ͤ̑.ͥ̍ͮ̊̽͏҉̠͓̫̰̠͍͜.͕͎̄̏ͭ.̷̤̯̬̬̭̻͈̉̎ up everyone's alley and will be very P̟̙̜͉͔͔̔ͧ̄ͩ̓́ͭ̀̚͠l̶̼̱̗̤̣̩͇̈́̾̐̃̑̊̿͊ȅ̸͍̰͗̃ͧ̿̄ͦ́͞a̧̻̝͓͖͖͔̖̟̍̄ͫ́͡s̤͈̼̒ͫ́̓̔e̲̣͖͉̟ͯ́͒̂̾̈ͪ͐͜ ̈͑̈́͐ͨ͋̉̎̂́̕͏͓̥̼͖͍͍ͅd͇̲̰͒̿ͫͭͨͣ̾ͫ̾͡ö̩̣͈̘͈̙̪̎̂ͭͨͧ̿ͤn̶̵͔͕͔̬͍̠̋ͯ̍ͨ̒͡'̢̘̠͈̐͒̏̕t̬̱̉ͬ ̳̱̬ͮ͝c͓̪̼͙̖̙͐̅̑́o̱̭̭̜̟̭̿̽ͯ͐̀ͅm̸̜͎̻̳̓ͮ̑ͩ͗͌̃e̜̮̰̤͖̭͛͛ͅ ̡̝̝ͫ͐̇ͤͦ̋ͣ̚͟͝b̭̞̰̖̳͌̍̊ͯͭ̿̒ǎ̢̫̯̞̮͓̦̹̘͉ͬ̀̕c̡̦̞̈́̀̔̃͋̄̂͜k͖͓̯̳͖͎̒͗̇̍̑̿͜͡ͅ.͈̬̻̖̱̪͇͐͆̄̇͑̉ͅ. So I hope you're all going to enjoy a very chilling tale about a young man on his T̛̘̜̲̏͗͊̂̿̓ͧ̚h̛̦͇͔̘͑̂͢i̭͎̙̳̞̰ͭ̾̌̓ͬs̮̯͍̖͙͆ͪ͑̃̂͘ ̪̦̤̝̦̬͕͚̗̉̑̋͌͟͜͠ḭ̢̓ͬͫͬͪ̋ͅs̷̥̟̟̼̟̽͂̀ͥ ̧̛̘͚̞̦̼̯̈́̄̓̀̃̕ṅ̸͈͐o̦̜ͦ̿̍ͬ͋͂ͥͣt̡͍̔ͭ̾̒̐ͧ͟ ̷̢̥̼ͫ̋͑̏̔̈̅̐ȳ̬̠͈͓͂̍o̧̼̮̫̪̱̰̅̔̈̅̂͆u͌ͭ͢҉̻̫̼̬̦ŗ͚̙̭̳̞͑̍͆ͥ̏̓̌ͬ͟͜ͅ ̧̙̙ͧͮ͞͡ͅs̶̲̱͙̻̞͎͂ͧ̃t͒̇ͣ̓̍ͭ̋ͫ̄҉̳͔̜̦̘̥͍̹o̞̓ͩ̆͜r̶͕͎̝̱̥̗ͪ̀̇̄͛ͥͅy̷̢̻͆ͥ̏ͤ̈́̆.̜̞̱͈̱̳̘̪̽ͧ̈ͫͬ̅ͭ master.  So I hope you will all join me on October 25, 2013 for the Y̭͎̗̣̆́̀̀ȫ͖̘͖ͯ̊͟͟u̲̘̳ͨͥͧͩ͐͌̔'͙̬ͫ̀͆ͯ͗rͮͧ̔̔ͨ̚̚҉̷̥e̘͖̹͉͖̝͉̋̓ͭ̑̔͜ͅ ̭̪͉͖̱͓̪̜ͧͮ̅̌̿̀̇͘͢n͖͎͍̹̤̫̭̰̔͠ǫ̛̥͈̭̩͕̟̏̌ͥ̓͌͊͆́t̬̖͍̦̥̜̞͑̆̈͗̄̈́͂͂̔͜͢͠ ̷̛̘͙͉̄̏ͥh̏͛͞҉̳̝̥̠̹̼͔i̴̠̺̫̓ͫmͭͯ̈́̍̒̆҉̧̼.̡̥͈͚̮͚͖ͯ̊̔͡ on the Mouth of the Munchkin!

 "̡͕͉ͫ̃͑̔̆ͫ̈́͟I̱̜̝̎̊̀ͣ̕͢'̍̉̉̔ͬ̌͛͏͍̞̝m̦͎̹͋̓ͅ ̨̙̦̳̜͍̫͚̹ͬ̏̓̄̾ͮ̀s̶̙̦̪̺̯͓̻̊̓ͭ̓̓͛̎̚ͅo̮̤̗ͧ̓̏ͮ̅͆͑̑r̶̜̲̪͓͇͔͒̋͋̎̎͒ͫ͛r̟͙͔̜͔̻̻ͤͩy̷͖ͧ̇̉̍̚͡,̴̶̹̥̬̫̮͚͓͑͊̎̆̒ͦ̍͠ͅ ̵̼̘̫̗ͥ̃͑͐͋͑̽͘w̻̦̣͔̩̫͉̳̿̌̀̕͜e̟͎͕͔̼̯͓̾̄̊ͥͨͥ̇̏͆͘͟ ͓̼̖̖̯̭͖̉͗̃̌̈́̅̍c̼̞͚̆͊̑ͣͭ̂̒̚o̫͕͎̮͇͍̗ͬͭͥ̂̓̍͗̚̕͡ủ̼̳͇̝̘̣͎̿̎͒͗͋͟l̗̲̟̤͍̜̮͓ͨͧͬ̂̀ͩ̽̈͠d̤̹̆̄̈̋̉͂͜͟ṉ̷̪̦̬̳ͪ͗ͣ͟͝ͅ'̥͇̮̮̝ͪ͊͑̌ͤͧ̽̇͜t̪̤͑̍̈͛́̌̓ ̛͓̥̆̾f͉̰͇ͪ͗̅͗͞i͇͎͓̱̎ͅn̢͔̖ͤ̅͂͌̓̐ͩͩ͟͠ḓ̞̦̞̦̪͔̳͒̇ͫ̿́͞ ̢̾ͬ͐͆͂҉̳̟͈h̺ͨ̓ͤ̃ͩ̈́͗̍i̧̻̾͋̆͐͡ͅm̳̘̠̰̐͌ͭ̑ͥͭ͐͝.͐ͦ̈͟҉̶̠̳.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

"̧̱̹̲̬̮̘ͣͮ̈́̀̐̄͝W̴̬̝̝̪̪̦ͬͮ̇ͧͨ͂̈ͩ͠ḩ̟̉ͨ̀̆ͩͧ́̚y̸̡̭̤̳̲͍͚̙̐̎̎͆̏̄̚ ̶̡̞̭̗ͣ̅ͮ͛ͦ͂̃a̸̰͇̜̲͈̪͎̎ͧͣ̀́̈͢r̷̢̧̘̤̲̘̜̗̲̳ͧ̇̏e̴̱̬͖̝̮̻̅̉̽̓ͦ̋ͮ̋ ̧ͯ̀̈҉͓̘̮̖̼̦y̫̺̔̇͒̓̓o̴̦̞̖͌ͭu̬͈͙̹͇̤̐ͥͨͪͯ̉̂̇͡ͅͅ ̮̝͓̘̝͙͕̲̘͆ͨ͊ͯ̆͛ḥ̡͆̆eͭͭ͂́ͪ̉̌̓̄҉҉̰͎͇͍̪̻̞̞̕rͨͨ́͛͏̢̠͉̼́e̠̘̘͚̓̓ͫͩͦ̂͊̆̚͘͜ ̴̱͈̣ͬ̐̋͑͗̽̆͜w͈͕͙̌̿̈̐̐͊̄͟͜h͚̠͈̘͓́͋̊ͭͫ̌̇ͫ̀͘e͎̰͉͎̹͊̉̍̃ͪ͑ͨn̐ͫ̐̏̐͂̄̚͏̤̗̕ ͨ̏͒̈̐҉̗̪̦̭͍̰h̵͈̣̥͙̠ͤ̋̔̀̕e̢͓͉̳͓̥͍͐'̢̟̮̭̺̮̘͈̙̊ͧͪ̉ͬͧ̏͂s͉̼̼̦̥̗̬̍ͩ͂͟ ̳̥̟̞̰̻̻̤͂̾͂͋̓̚g͉̒͂̍͐̅̽̂́̚͜o̱̝͙̎̓̔̑̏̍͗͜͢ņ͓̩̽̾͊͑͑͌͛͡e̹̠̦̼̱̞͒ͥͦ̄̀̃͒̀̚?̵ͨ͐ͮ̉҉̜̖̯̠̪ͅ

T̡̍ͨ̎́͊͗ͪ͊̎ͫ̽ͫͯ̇ͤ͟͏̺̖̬͈̠̼̦͇̗̝H̶̛̛͍̜̖͍̜̠̳͍̭͇̼̻̏̆̊̎͑̉ͥ̏ͩͪ̽̂ͥ̚͘͞I̵ͮ̏ͯ̍̾̓̀͏̷̭̲̳̜̝̟̪͕̬̟͎̞̜͓͜S̸̢̛̲̣̳̬͔̳̣͖̠̘̫̪̭̟͎̝̻͚͚̄̾ͧͤͦͪ̔̄̀̒ͣ́̾̎̀̚͟ ̶̵̦̩̳̥̫͎̭͖̭̹͕̳͊̆̓̈̾̋͒̇ͧ̆́̾̄̽ͤ̋̃̃ͫ́͜͢Ḭ̴̗͕͕̲̯͉̘̤͍͎͉͙̯͓͇ͩ̀̊͋̆ͯ̀̅ͩ̀͘͞͡Ş̷͈͓͉̪̔͊̍̾̂͐͌͋̒ͬ̊ͫͨ̍̿ͣ̿́̚̕ͅ ̧̘̫͇̠͎̤͇͖͎͙̬̬̮̙͇̫̥̭͎ͥ̇͐̒̓͗ͣ͌̂ͩ̒̌̃͂͒͆̅ͨN̏ͬͬ̓͊̃̓ͪ̃̈́҉͈͖̱̙̜̻̙̱̫̗̞͓͍̜͇̕͟͢Ŏ̷̧̢̳̤̟̣̲̱̻̤̯̺̭͕̖̜̖̋̀ͩ͊̆̿̅͒̀́͜T̢̟͈͓͎̗̺̓̉̔ͬ͒̀ ̷͈̠̣̖͔̣͖͔̤̥̬͙̤̘̤͈̈́̽ͤ̀ͦ͒ͤ̃ͫ́ͣ̉̄ͧ̐ͣ̊̚͢A̯̟̤͓̠̞̍̿̌ͪ̽̋̉́́͟ ̞̠͙͍̺̩̼͉ͣ̈̿͊͊͋̎ͦ̓̒ͦ̑̄ͧ́́͜͞ͅͅG̶̡̧̧͚̗͔͔̝̪͕̖̳̺͎̲̬̥͉̟͉̮̎ͧ̃̌̌̄̓͂̑ͤ̀Ä̶̸̢̢́̈͊̊͊ͤ̋̎͒̀͏̰̥͖̱̺Mͭ̽ͮ̆͌ͬ̓̈͗́͝͏͖̹̖̬̮̤̟Ēͮͨͣ̐ͦ̒͗̆̾͋ͪ҉͠͏̢̭̩̲̱̝̹̳͈̤̀!̊̐ͫͩͧ͊͊̐ͧ̏̄͑͊ͨ̾͞͏̵͚͚̹̱̲̣͉̬̫̗̯̯̜̟̣̤͕̼ T̡̍ͨ̎́͊͗ͪ͊̎ͫ̽ͫͯ̇ͤ͟͏̺̖̬͈̠̼̦͇̗̝H̶̛̛͍̜̖͍̜̠̳͍̭͇̼̻̏̆̊̎͑̉ͥ̏ͩͪ̽̂ͥ̚͘͞I̵ͮ̏ͯ̍̾̓̀͏̷̭̲̳̜̝̟̪͕̬̟͎̞̜͓͜S̸̢̛̲̣̳̬͔̳̣͖̠̘̫̪̭̟͎̝̻͚͚̄̾ͧͤͦͪ̔̄̀̒ͣ́̾̎̀̚͟ ̶̵̦̩̳̥̫͎̭͖̭̹͕̳͊̆̓̈̾̋͒̇ͧ̆́̾̄̽ͤ̋̃̃ͫ́͜͢Ḭ̴̗͕͕̲̯͉̘̤͍͎͉͙̯͓͇ͩ̀̊͋̆ͯ̀̅ͩ̀͘͞͡Ş̷͈͓͉̪̔͊̍̾̂͐͌͋̒ͬ̊ͫͨ̍̿ͣ̿́̚̕ͅ ̧̘̫͇̠͎̤͇͖͎͙̬̬̮̙͇̫̥̭͎ͥ̇͐̒̓͗ͣ͌̂ͩ̒̌̃͂͒͆̅ͨN̏ͬͬ̓͊̃̓ͪ̃̈́҉͈͖̱̙̜̻̙̱̫̗̞͓͍̜͇̕͟͢Ŏ̷̧̢̳̤̟̣̲̱̻̤̯̺̭͕̖̜̖̋̀ͩ͊̆̿̅͒̀́͜T̢̟͈͓͎̗̺̓̉̔ͬ͒̀ ̷͈̠̣̖͔̣͖͔̤̥̬͙̤̘̤͈̈́̽ͤ̀ͦ͒ͤ̃ͫ́ͣ̉̄ͧ̐ͣ̊̚͢A̯̟̤͓̠̞̍̿̌ͪ̽̋̉́́͟ ̞̠͙͍̺̩̼͉ͣ̈̿͊͊͋̎ͦ̓̒ͦ̑̄ͧ́́͜͞ͅͅG̶̡̧̧͚̗͔͔̝̪͕̖̳̺͎̲̬̥͉̟͉̮̎ͧ̃̌̌̄̓͂̑ͤ̀Ä̶̸̢̢́̈͊̊͊ͤ̋̎͒̀͏̰̥͖̱̺Mͭ̽ͮ̆͌ͬ̓̈͗́͝͏͖̹̖̬̮̤̟Ēͮͨͣ̐ͦ̒͗̆̾͋ͪ҉͠͏̢̭̩̲̱̝̹̳͈̤̀!̊̐ͫͩͧ͊͊̐ͧ̏̄͑͊ͨ̾͞͏̵͚͚̹̱̲̣͉̬̫̗̯̯̜̟̣̤͕̼ T̡̍ͨ̎́͊͗ͪ͊̎ͫ̽ͫͯ̇ͤ͟͏̺̖̬͈̠̼̦͇̗̝H̶̛̛͍̜̖͍̜̠̳͍̭͇̼̻̏̆̊̎͑̉ͥ̏ͩͪ̽̂ͥ̚͘͞I̵ͮ̏ͯ̍̾̓̀͏̷̭̲̳̜̝̟̪͕̬̟͎̞̜͓͜S̸̢̛̲̣̳̬͔̳̣͖̠̘̫̪̭̟͎̝̻͚͚̄̾ͧͤͦͪ̔̄̀̒ͣ́̾̎̀̚͟ ̶̵̦̩̳̥̫͎̭͖̭̹͕̳͊̆̓̈̾̋͒̇ͧ̆́̾̄̽ͤ̋̃̃ͫ́͜͢Ḭ̴̗͕͕̲̯͉̘̤͍͎͉͙̯͓͇ͩ̀̊͋̆ͯ̀̅ͩ̀͘͞͡Ş̷͈͓͉̪̔͊̍̾̂͐͌͋̒ͬ̊ͫͨ̍̿ͣ̿́̚̕ͅ ̧̘̫͇̠͎̤͇͖͎͙̬̬̮̙͇̫̥̭͎ͥ̇͐̒̓͗ͣ͌̂ͩ̒̌̃͂͒͆̅ͨN̏ͬͬ̓͊̃̓ͪ̃̈́҉͈͖̱̙̜̻̙̱̫̗̞͓͍̜͇̕͟͢Ŏ̷̧̢̳̤̟̣̲̱̻̤̯̺̭͕̖̜̖̋̀ͩ͊̆̿̅͒̀́͜T̢̟͈͓͎̗̺̓̉̔ͬ͒̀ ̷͈̠̣̖͔̣͖͔̤̥̬͙̤̘̤͈̈́̽ͤ̀ͦ͒ͤ̃ͫ́ͣ̉̄ͧ̐ͣ̊̚͢A̯̟̤͓̠̞̍̿̌ͪ̽̋̉́́͟ ̞̠͙͍̺̩̼͉ͣ̈̿͊͊͋̎ͦ̓̒ͦ̑̄ͧ́́͜͞ͅͅG̶̡̧̧͚̗͔͔̝̪͕̖̳̺͎̲̬̥͉̟͉̮̎ͧ̃̌̌̄̓͂̑ͤ̀Ä̶̸̢̢́̈͊̊͊ͤ̋̎͒̀͏̰̥͖̱̺Mͭ̽ͮ̆͌ͬ̓̈͗́͝͏͖̹̖̬̮̤̟Ēͮͨͣ̐ͦ̒͗̆̾͋ͪ҉͠͏̢̭̩̲̱̝̹̳͈̤̀!̊̐ͫͩͧ͊͊̐ͧ̏̄͑͊ͨ̾͞͏̵͚͚̹̱̲̣͉̬̫̗̯̯̜̟̣̤͕̼

Friday, October 18, 2013

Madcap's Game Reviews - "Pokemon Red, White, and Blue (An Unofficial PETA Parody)"
Brought to you by "Dear God, please pay attention to us!"
I won’t lie, sometimes it’s a joy to watch something collapse in on itself.  Like flan in a cupboard, like a dilapidated building dropping into a sinkhole piece by piece, we have PETA’s newest jab at not only the Pokémon series but at McDonald’s as well.  I’ll just go ahead and say that if they were trying to appeal to the demographic that Pokémon is intended for, they failed miserably.  I’ll also just go ahead and say that if they were trying to appeal to any other demographic besides the one that Pokémon is intended for, they failed miserably.  So, besides their own clique, I’m not really sure who this is supposed to be for besides stroking their own egos about what good little animal-friendly, environmentally conscious people they put on airs about being.

There’s a level of preachy like an After School Special, and then there’s this.  Some would call this a parody or a satire, but there’s nothing really satirical about it.  It’s very much boldfaced and quite happily demonizing both franchises with absolutely no subtly about it.

Or, y’know, humor.

But getting into the actual plot of the game, we are first asked a question.  If Pokémon were to come to the real world and see how we treat all those poor, innocent animals, would they love us as much as we’ve claimed to love them over the years?  They also take a few shots at how much the series hasn’t changed over the years, which I find rather humorous - and by that, I mean, not at all.  Join the club, PETA, we’ve all waiting for some distinctive change in the series since 1996.  Oh, and free tip, stay away from the Genwunners, they can really be spiteful.
Well, I'd advise them not the play anvilicious pieces of shit like this...

The story picks up with a Miltank being attacked by the Hamburglar bloodied up and wielding a crowbar.

…let me just let you process that while I go and get myself some more crazy pills.

The fight carries on for a bit, Hamburglar slurring angrily about how Miltank is owned by them and has no choice, and therefore has the right to beat her ferociously and then slaughter her for meat.  This is doubly hilarious because the Pokémon games and show have never depicted violence so graphically as this game does.  Miltank looks cut up and has dried blood across her body, the Hamburglar is similarly bloodied (heavily implied to be blood splatter from Miltank, obviously), and then Pikachu when he shows up he’s bandaged, collared, and has apparently had a large bite taken out of his ear!

It’s so over the top and ridiculous that I’m not really sure how anyone at PETA could see this as being taken seriously, at all. I certainly can't, no matter how hard I don't try...and believe me, I didn't even begin to try. This transitions into the player taking control of Pikachu (ha, see, PETA? I’m controlling an animal in your game!), where the four attacks that Pikachu gets are Slam, Charge Beam, “Protest”, and “Group Hug”, the latter two of which serve as your “Growl” and “Tail Whip” attacks.  The cheesiness continues with the flavor text for the battle, with such gems as “Pikachu beat down on the Mysterious Stranger with some powerful words” and “Pikachu smothered the Mysterious Stranger with a hug”.  No, really, I can’t make this up!

They also incredulously state that the main point of the Pokémon games is to teach children that Pokémon are property and that we have the right to force them to do whatever we want, which really couldn’t be more from the truth.  The only time any such ideas come up in any of the media are from groups like Team Rocket, i.e. the villains, who treat Pokémon in such a way and are defeated by the Player Character.  The main theme of Pokémon is that they’re supposed to be our friends and partners first and foremost.  It is with them that trainers achieve victory, working together to bring out the potential in both parties, human and Pokémon.

This game, however, makes it out to seem like Pokémon’s message – and a rather blatant message at that – is merely a sinister smokescreen over a vicious and evil plot to corrupt the minds of children into having no empathy for animals...while, all the while using a similiar medium in order to corrupt the minds of children into their own anvilicious belief system...

Huh. Irony.

Now you might ask is this is just stupidity? Not caring about the source material? Or PETA just trying to grasp at straws where the straws are made of the cocaine they've been snorting? The answer is yes.

But, after Pikachu cuddles the Hamburglar to death, he tells Pikachu of a horrifying world where animals are turned into people food! OH, THE HORROR!  Not believing that such a place could exist, Pikachu teams up with Miltank – who apparently can be named, something one does to a pet, right PETA? – to follow in the wake of their attacker through a magic portal.  But not before you can unlike a delightfully graphic video about the absolute horrors of animal farming.

Seriously, PETA, you made this for children?!

They arrive in that horrific land to a McDonald’s, complete with advertisements in the window from the Pokémon world, and Pikachu laments that McDonald’s is using his adorable image to sell their “death burgers”…and as I facepalm, he claims to want a lawyer…and I find myself wondering if it’s actually possible to facepalm all the way through one’s own head.

And at the McDonald’s, they meet a customer outside who rattles off my unfunny shots at the Pokémon franchise as though marketing and merchandising is some great evil that Nintendo is a perpetrator of.  Insert obvious EA joke here.  And then, he attacks the pair after somehow jumping to the conclusion that if we can farm animals, why not Pokémon? Insert long-running joke in the fandom about trainers eating Pokémon, even though we’re pretty sure that doesn’t happen…right? Right! … right?
Damn, that is subtle!
After being defeated, the Customer laments his lost childhood.  And, of course, gets a rant on how he’s just being overly dramatic about it.  He’s not, PETA is just staffed by crazy people who believe that all people who don’t share their views think that way.  And then, the Pokémon team (joined by a Jigglypuff that literally comes right out of nowhere) meets members of PETA, who they mistake for Team Plasma from the beginning.

Okay, at you guys can recognize satire, so one point to you there.

And we continue on by attacking a slaughterhouse, where we seem just as justified when Jesse and James…oh, I’m sorry, “Slaughterhouse Workers” attack.  Another fight, and then we’re joined by “Grimace”, who is apparently a mutated Pokémon in this version that was made by McDonald’s to eat food made of tortured animals.  They claim this happened decades ago, which I call BS on.  My earliest memories of Pokémon shamelessly advertising with a fast food franchises were strictly a Burger King affair…and Grimace has been in the McDonald’s franchise since 1971…so…yeah, I’d call it bizarre, but then there would have to be something founded in logic here, so nevermind that.

Oh, and the final boss battle is Ronald McDonald, apparently having been distorted by the powers of Satan…or some very heavy-handed, preachy propaganda.  And defeating him with the combined power of all your self-righteous might reveals Ronald to be – in a Scooby-Doo-esque manner – to be nothing more than a man who cares for nothing more than the exploitation of Pokémon (wistfully remembering the efforts of Team Rocket in the original games…do you feel the anvil yet?), and the team decides to share their knowledge with the world about the injustice and cruelty suffered by animals and Pokémon alike.

And after playing this game, I really don’t want to go to an all vegan diet – but a stiff drink seems like a not at all terrible idea.

I won’t get into the moral debate about whether or not animals share the same level of sentience that humans do, that’s not what I’m here for.  As for whether or not this is a good game – well, obviously, it isn’t, is it?  It’s boring, preachy, and is pretty much how a Pokémon is but without any of the charm of the thing it’s claiming to be doing a parody of.  This isn’t a satire, I’m even tempted to say it’s not a parody so much as it is taking the vague visual trappings of something, giving it an Eli Roth makeover and screaming “LOOK, DEAR SWEET BABY JESUS, IT’S SO WRONG!!!” over and over again at the top of your lungs.  By contrast, the Pokémon and PETA are all apparently completely justified in assault, destruction of property, and theft.  Because, y’know…it’s for the animals and thus doesn’t hurt people who work in those industries and are just trying to earn a living, clearly.  We’re only attacking the EVIL CORPORATIONS!
After playing through this game – which, to its credit, can be done in about twenty minutes without issue (this, by the way, is not a compliment) – I can really only say that at its best, I roll my eyes at how stupidly over the top it is, and at its worst, I’m kind of offended by it.  It’s clear in several cases that someone at PETA has played some of the Pokémon games (or knows of the “Whitney’s Miltank” and “Top Percentage Rattata” memes), because of some of the in jokes in it, but they managed to comically miss the entire creed that Pokémon teaches, which I just handily explained a little bit ago.  And regardless, referencing things that are popular within the community of Pokémon fans isn’t going to get us all jumping over to your side of the fence, not with this steaming pile of Flash animation you’ve thrown out.

And by the way, PETA (in case someone who works with/for them reads this, and I know they won't), I typed this review after eating nachos.  Nachos that had cheese on them! FROM COWS!!! Maybe I'll stop once you look up what fun means (you know I won't).

Here is where you can play this rather tasteless, anvilicious abomination of a game.  Why anyone would want to is beyond me... 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Coming up next week...

Here it is.

Yeah, I know I hinted at Fallout 3, and I will get to that.  But this...

This is just begging for me to break off my well-seasoned critic foot in its ass.

And so, tune in next week for the ultimate showdown between MadCapMunchkin and the Real-Life Planeteers in...

"Madcap's Game Reviews:  Pokemon Red, White, and Blue (An Unofficial PETA Parody)"

See you all Friday! In the mean time, I think I'm going to go enjoy a meat product of one sort of another...

Friday, October 11, 2013

MadCap's Game Reviews - "The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Unearthing Mehrunes Razor"
The Pigsticker of Demonic Powah!

Alright, yes, this review is yet another opportunity for me to gush about how much I loved Morrowind.  That’s because it really is a large majority of what Unearthing Mehrunes Razor is.   But y’know, that’s really enough for me for this DLC.  It does much like certain other games do, but not in a way that screams “Hey! Look at us! We can make references to something that was once immensely popular! Please ignore the fact that it’s not actually a game!”  But the difference between that ungodly abomination and this is a simple one.  Unearthing Mehrunes Razor is an exercise in not just spectacle, but substance.  The references actually mean something, at least within the confines of the DLC.

You can start Razor from the moment you leave the Imperial Prison sewers, though it’s highly recommended you pursue it at a higher level, which I have to agree with.  So, once you’ve power leveled, you can finally answer the bizarre psychic message you receive about some activity in the far east of Cyrodiil by a Dunmer mage from Vvardenfell who seeks the power of Mehrunes’ Razor.  Understandably in Oblivion, you don’t get a quest from the Daedra Prince of Destruction, so this adds in his namesake artifact as a nice little bauble.  That doesn’t mean you can use it in the Blood of the Daedra quest, of course (Logic bomb:  After all, why would Mehrunes Dagon let you use the Razor against him?), much like you can’t use Sheogorath’s staff if you were to beat Shivering Isles before taking on the main quest (something I rather stupidly forgot to mention in the Shivering Isles review).
Nevertheless, this seems like quite a bit of trouble to go through for just a dagger, right?


Thus, to Sundercliff Watch you go.  Pack a lunch, because it’s a bit of a long trek as I said before – on the far east edge of Cyrodiil.  But once you’ve arrived, you can head in and the fun begins with several members of the “Drothmeri” army, a group founded and run by the Dunmer mage mentioned before - Frathen Drothan – a rogue Telvanni mage, he hopes to seize the dagger and use it to overthrow the Tamriel Empire.  Now, an obvious question is how a single mage can possibly just use one dagger to do this, but forget logic! Are you a bad enough dude (or dudette) to brave dark corridors, vicious monsters, and occasionally overly-long loading times to get a magic dagger?  Oblivion yeah, you are!

Getting through Sundercliff Watch to the Ayleid ruin of Varsa Baalim (where the Razor’s resting place can be found) can be a bit of a challenge if you just plow your way through the Drothmeri army.  Sneaking here is definitely a good idea and is rather fun.  With a high enough Sneak and a bit of luck, it’s actually very possible to get through the entire dungeon and kill nobody at all, sneaking around literally everyone in the dungeon and leaving no one the wiser that you were even there…or leaving a trail of bodies in your wake and anyone who follows it utterly confused as to who killed a certain Dunmer soldier and left his body precariously perched on a stalactite in a comedic fashion.
Interestingly, Dagon doesn't seem to notice the Razor if you have it in the Main Quest
There’s a medley of things to be found in the place, mostly dark elves of various types that give about as much resistance as your common bandits if things don’t turn for the  insanely fluster-cucky in fights.  Within Varsa Baalim itself, you’ll find vampires, which are pretty much your standard fair depending upon level.  Again, you can sneak around them too and they’ll be none the wiser for the experience.  Until, at last, you get to the final room in Varsa Baalim and come face to face with Drothan himself…who can very easily and promptly get himself killed if you wait him out and he doesn’t notice you, which will eventually get him to try and force the door to the Razor open, which will wake up the Guardian who will more than likely kill him.

If not, then kill him yourself and go for the Razor.  If you just feel bloodthirsty and kill him, then head up to the door and try to force it open, upon which occasion you will be forced to take on Mehrunes’ Champion.  Which you can easily side-step if you remove his heart, which will give you four infamy points and give you Porphyric Hemophilia (the vampire disease) and Cannibal's Prion if you eat it.  This is an easy way to become a vampire for some.

Which leads me to a brilliant and utterly flawless segue into talking about vampires in Oblivion, which admittedly I should have done before…why? Vampires are completely useless to play in Oblivion, even more so than they are in Skyrim.  Unless you restrict yourself to only moving around at night, you stay fed enough so that you don’t get the perks of the higher tiers of vampirism and really where is the fun in that?  Unless you’re just going to hang around in the Imperial City, I wouldn’t recommend taking the route at all.  Werewolves, given all the wilderness available in Oblivion, would have been a much more logical choice.

And now to segue flawlessly back into talking about Razor.  Like all weapons in the game, it’s levelled depending on your level, and unlike Knights of the Nine, there isn’t a handy little rack that will let you insta-recharge it and level it up to where your level is.  This, too, is another reason to tackle this DLC at a higher level rather than later on.  The Mehrunes Razor itself is not a bad weapon, with a nice bit of Distengrate Armor and Daedric Banishing enchantments, the latter of which has a change of instantly killing a target on strike which is based in part on the player’s Luck Attribute.  Interesting, which some pop up flavor text will tell you that “through the Razor, Mehrunes Dagon claims this soul” or something to that effect, any target hit with a Soul Trap or similar spell will still fill a Soul Gem as though nothing had happened.

And, of course, all the references to Morrowind.  Instead of just throwing them in our faces like certain other, lesser games might, Razor does it largely through flavor texts in various letters and books that can be ignored if the player so chooses.  However, through them we’re able to learn of Drothan – the work he’s done to find Varsa Baalim and the Razor, and the reason why he could be such a threat.  In essence, we can at least on some level care about what’s going on.  And apart from that, the little nods to things in Morrowind – the House of Earthly Delights and a book that is mentioned as having been purchased from Jobasha's Rare Books, and so on – add a little bit of spice and character to what would otherwise just be mooks that the player tears through to achieve a goal.
That all being said, there is one major problem I have with this DLC – there is absolutely no adventure hook.  You can go about being as the Champion of Cyrodiil and completely ignore Sundercliff Watch and all that is contained within and the game world will be no different for it.  There is a rather interesting letter that was made by Bethesda as part of the add-on that explains the situation with Drothan in the form of a missive from the Imperial Ambassador of Morrowind to an Advisor to King Helseth (who veterans of Tribunal will no doubt remember), but this doesn’t appear in the game.  There is absolutely nothing that gets the player involved in the add-on at all.  Just a sudden pop up in your Journal telling you that it’s there.
See, kids? You too can create paradoxes.

Beyond that, however, it’s a nice little add-on.  Around an hour’s time playing around with it, maybe less, and for three bucks (around that, it was 250 Microsoft Points at the time of release) I have to admit it was more than I was actually expecting to get.  That, coupled with the references to Morrowind, makes this one a fondly remembered one.

And that, dear friends, closes the book on Oblivion and my recollections of it.  Certainly, I could go on into the others, but here is as good a stopping point as any.  Besides, I just might need the fodder for the future, who knows?

Now with Oblivion out of the way, I’m going to take a look at another beloved Bethesda series.  Pack your rail guns and your Tesla canons, and wrap yourself up in something warm, because we’re heading into a nuclear winter wonderland…

…that happens to be very brown and green.


"Unearthing Mehrunes Razor" is available for Xbox 360, PC, and Playstation 3.