(random thoughts: I didn’t think Nintendo could ruin Kirby as they’ve done in Triple Deluxe.)

I recently had the chance to play Pokemon Y. (I’ll kick the fan shtick at 30) So far, I’m liking it. It’ kinda hard to decide on a team considering all the new w/e’s look ugly as hell beyond Talonflame and maybe the frog ninja who’s name is preposterously difficult to remember. I get to this city in the “coastal” region, and I can’t progress beyond a certain point because some random chick in a bikini stops me and says “I dropped a fossil, please wait until I find it”. At that moment, my opinion of the game quickly dropped. “This is their excuse of holding me back? Really?”

Never mind that you should have the ability to swim around the stupid bitch, but that needs an HM as well as for some reason, your character can’t swim. Oh he can skate and do grinds but the water isn’t deep enough for you to not take a slight dive. GameFreak has never been good with arbitrary barriers that halt your progress until you’ve completed some task in the games to unlock new paths. The most they can do is put up literal road blocks and say “the road is under construction, please wait until later”. Later never comes until you do something about it. Obviously. But often times I think… “where’s the fun in that?”. Pokemon games have worlds that constrain players by the most arbitrary of barriers that GameFreak seems ever so content on continuing. Ledges you can’t jump over even if they’re 1 foot high (but have to jump over from the other side), trees you can’t simply squeeze by without activating an HM cutscene that takes at least 10 seconds (and Amma forbid if you have plenty of trees to cut down!), Pokemon games can’t seem to shake off the bullshit since day 1.

A while back, I had the prescriptive thoughts behind the meaning of RPG. More specifically the… “Role Playing Game”. Typically, it means you play the role of characters you choose in board games with the most retarded looking dice out there. But going deeper, what does it really mean to “Role Play”? What is a Role? A role is basically a part you play. In What? A movie, an operation, an activity, a process… basically a “job” you perform in an attempt to “contribute” to a team or just people in general. A role is that in which you work.

In an RPG, the role of Archer is back up support. He stays out of the way and picks off people from afar. The mage makes it easier to kill things and can bring people back to life if need be, and the knight is the blunt damage dealer. They all serve roles. This is the party in which everyone is like a giant clock. And the clock only works when all the cogs spin in cohesion with each other. If you play the role right, you will be rewarded. If you perform well in your job, you will be rewarded. Doing your part is rewarding.

Given that, it isn’t difficult to see why no one likes them 😛 . No one enjoys being constrained by… anything really. What is an RPG, it’s a game of constraints, you see. I can see why Yamauichi implied that it is a genre that attracts the depressed. Depressed people are usually the ones who feel constrained. To be constrained is to be revoked of your power. Power to do what? Power to make your own decisions. Power to change the course of your journey. Power to do anything other than serve the roles that you are assigned.

An RPG is a genre that denies power. It demands that you submit to it’s will. To flow with the currents of it’s own choosing. You are merely a willing participant.

So of course… the obvious answer would be to avoid the RPG. Of course… that isn’t possible. Like gays, RPGs are being pushed into every facet of gaming (if it wasn’t obvious already with the amount of stats you have to keep track of, even in a goddamn racing game like…. Sega Racing Transformed?). But… this isn’t about RPG’s. The same philosophy that drives RPGs… can be found in games without stats, even. All the games that feel like hollywood with their scripted nonsense, with their pointless padding, these PC Adventure games which aren’t at all adventures but rather a pair of wood with strings attached to you. Every game you see now feels like a job. A role to play by another’s hand.

For a while, I’ve been trying to bang my head around why Sonic games simply aren’t fun anymore and have rendered the series as irrelevant. Early on, I had commented on the appearance of the homing attack in 2D Sonic, an abnormal addition that was necessary in 3D Sonic for the sake of making combat a non-headache. And one commenter stated that it is to maintain game flow. What is “flow“? Flow is essentially your ability to perform a job well without hindrance. At the same time, flow requires that the person be in full “enjoyment” of the process. There are very few people enjoying Sonic games today. That could be contributed to the fact that the games feel like tasks, one in which a flow must be maintained by the player. Flow is really a mental state that must be maintained to perform a task without hindrance. That means Modern Sonic games are fucking work!

When describing Sonic in terms of a game, it’s a faster “platformer” heavily steeped in pinball physics. But described in terms of a Role Playing Game, you play the role of a super fast hedgehog who is constantly “in the zone“. In truth, playing the role isn’t very fun. But dictating the role is.

That’s why in a lot of ways… people can’t quit Nintendo. See, Nintendo’s games didn’t innovate anything other than giving you power. What kind of power? Why… the mortal sin of allowing you to walk a different path!

Nintendo games gave the players what? Freedom in how to progress. Freedom is Power. To be without hindrance.

As it turns out, some of the best selling games and franchises of all time… are also the games that give you the most power. Grand Theft Auto, Minecraft, the Pokemon Series, the earlier Mega Man games, and even the earlier Sonic games. There are many reasons people continue to herald most post-2K video games, not simply as some sort of “nostalgia”, but a sense that these games gave players power. And it was one of the many attractions of Nintendo games. Super Mario Brothers with their Warp Zones and Warp Flutes, short cut cannons, and even Lakatu clouds. Pokemon will forever remain fun so as long as you have the power to assign roles to specific pokemon. You can have one to deal damage or to absorb damage, or to cause status ailments and be used as mere hunting dogs. You have to power to create humble workers who are loyal to their strong general. Nintendo games weren’t great because of an esteemed amount of quality (it’s involved, but not the secret ingredient!) Nintendo games were great because they put you in a position of power.

This is the benefit of video game entertainment. The Fun Factor of interactive entertainment is to grant the user power. The power to be free of constraints. After all, people considered these games to be “escapism”. You wouldn’t need to escape if you didn’t feel constrained, of course.

And when Nintendo went away from their origins of granting the user power? The results speak for themselves. They become like everyone else. Their games self-destructing their save files if you break a particular sequence… is a constraint. Everything Aonuma Zelda… is a constraint. Sakamoto Metroid… is a constraint (an INSULT at that). Playing their recent installment in Kirby feels most definitely like a constraint.

It always seems to be the case… in every sector of life. The more people evolve, whether they age or develop better skills, there seem to be more laws in place to constrain them. As a baby, you have too much freedom because you don’t know a damn thing, and you’re basically the boss of your parents. You can make demands that they will never understand because you need it. But as soon as you learn to walk and talk… there are ground rules in place. Now you can be spanked!

And you betta believe yo mama could wield a weapon of ass destruction.

 

You get older, you go to school, you find more laws in place. You don’t do well, you don’t get luxuries, or you get held back a grade (or that’s how it used to be, thanks NCLB). And when you reach 18, there’s a shit load of laws. You have bills to pay or you get arrested, you have speed limits to follow, you have juries to attend (With a $15 compensation and a thousand dollar consequence, ain’t that a B?) you have selective services, you need health insurance just to avoid a higher tax, you need licenses to get married. To grow food. And please, hold your explanations for why these laws exist, that ain’t the damn point. And I damn sure ain’t in the mood to read all about it. 😀

The more people grow, the more constraints come into place. The more technology grows, the more constraints come into place. With that, it is easy to see how constrictive gaming has become. Used games were nearly wiped out, even. Why is it so that evolution begets constraints? A hindrance of power? It can’t be the excuse of how dangerous humanity “just is”. Who creates the constraints? Those who are already in power. Those in power wish to maintain power. By hindering those without power, they have nothing to fear. To be withheld of power and to be told that power is something dangerous to have… you have a more complacent and more compliant people. You notice how most people who love these powerless games… always seem to adhere to the principle of “what’s good for the developer” instead of “what’s good for me”?

It is because they have been denied power… and have taught themselves that power is not a necessity… and may even be a bad thing. Notice how the games that give you the most power (most Arcade Centric titles and GTA) are often times the games that get attacked by the hardcore? It might be inherent or something of a hivemind, but deep down, game developers know… that giving the players a taste of power in their games… creates demands and expectations. The player will actually want certain things in games. The player will want the return of warp zones and alternate paths in video games. The layer would want more options with equal consequences. The bottom line is the players will want better of the power they had before. The developer, however, wishes to have the power alone. Creating a game of hindrances (Aonuma Zelda) and trying to convince people that this is how the games have always been! It is a devious.. yet often repeated… strategy of maintaining power. If you can convince people that they were never meant to have power… then they will not seek it. They will often demand their own subjugation. And that makes it easier to control them.

The hardcore couldn’t be better slaves to the current gaming environment. Powerless games create powerless customers. And yet, there is growing disinterest in games every day. Why is that? Because people realize that they don’t “need” gaming for entertainment. But people do need to feel “powerful”. If they can’t go to video games for a typical power fantasy, then where can they go? There’s no other outlet for feeling powerful, nothing in the civilian environment is created to make powerless people feel powerful, that’s too dangerous for those in power. And if a video game is not made to make the people feel powerful, then what good is a video game?

I call it “junk entertainment” for a reason. Junk is undesirable, don’t you think?

Can anyone tell me what the fuck these Fairy types are weak to?! These pink bastards are whoopin my ass.

 

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