Rundown (2/17-2/23) Tax Time Makes You Go Crazy!

So this past week I began another engagement with a CPA, wherein I aid him in various tax related activities while juggling my office job, grad school, personal time, and time spent making content for this quaint little site.  It is a side job that pays well, and is rather pertinent to my interests as an accounting major, but it also represents yet another activity that impedes my ability to go through games or work on my own projects. It’s not ideal, and this week is a particularly hectic, since I am going into my part-time job today, on a Sunday, when the office is closed, because somebody thought it would be a nice treat if I went home early on Monday.  I swear, I was mentally referencing last week’s header image for the past 5 days, stewing over how much I wish I had done everything sooner rather than later.  Garf!

Remember how last week I got super peeved about how Catherine: Full Body after it came to light that the game doubled down on being actively transphobic after the original 2011 release contained some content that, even a mere 8 years later, has aged exceptionally poorly based on modern western cultural trends?  Well, it turns out that I, and many other people, were being led into a sort of fervor that stemmed primarily from a lack of information, and it being rather difficult to parse information from a game that people do not have their hands on and is in a language they do not understand.  

However, the presentation of Rin as a crossdressing male alien/angel still rubs me the wrong way just based on how it sounds conceptually, and I cannot accept that their character was not in some way inspired by the idea of them being a “trap”.  As for the ending that seemingly showed Erica forgoing her gender transition in what was meant to be the best ending was simply showing her prior to her transition, and it is supposedly implied that she transitions later on, even though it is not seen.  Yet, upon watching a full clip of the ending, it still looked to imply that Erica did not transition in this new timeline, as she is never seen as presenting herself as female. It is all a very messy situation that, at best, was poorly conceived or presented, and I honestly hope that Atlus USA can make things a bit more clear when the localized version comes out on September 3rd.  

Also, speaking of Japanese games published by Sega based by in large on older games, this whole debacle has inspired many people to look at the currently Japanese exclusive Yakuza 3 Remaster and how it handled its transgender issues.  In the original PS3 version of Yakuza 3, which was released in 2009, featured a very stereotypical (at the time) representation of a transwoman with exaggerated masculine features who was regularly referred to either as male or as an “it”.  In remastering the game, the developers looked at this content, and removed it from the game so that the game could better match modern moral values.  …I just find it funny that the Yakuza series managed to cleanly avoid these issues whereas Atlus’ mature drama did not.

Moving onto newer news, a particularly hot topic this past week has been circulating rumors about Nintendo reviving a project that was very publicly cancelled years ago.  It began with an episode of the Kinda Funny Games show where Game Informer’s Senior Editor, Imran Khan, revealing that Nintendo is reviving “a title that was dead and buried.”  Shortly thereafter, Nintendo Insider writer Alex Seedhouse claimed to have spoken to various sources about this subject, who revealed to him that this dead project is none other than the Platinum Games and Microsoft collaboration, Scalebound, which was cancelled in early 2017.  Liam Robertson, an insider who has earned a good deal of credibility over the years, and has numerous sources close to Platinum Games, spoke out about this rumor in a recent video of his.  In said video, he effectively shot down this rumor, along with a a truly bizarre rumor about Project H.A.M.M.E.R. being revived, while also revealing a number of interesting tidbits about Scalebound and the current state of Platinum.  

Such as how the project’s cancellation was, in actuality, a mutual decision on behalf of Platinum and Microsoft, who could not get the game to function properly due to a plethora of performance issues.  How Platinum in recent years has lost many developers from Scalebound, and is continuing to lose staff, to the point where they had to shelve an unnamed major project, and ended their work on Granblue Fantasy Relink prior to the game’s launch.  The fact that reviving Scalebound on the Switch would effectively mean remaking the game from scratch and would make Microsoft as a publisher seem a teensy bit incompetent.  Along with a mention that Nintendo and Microsoft are working on something big together. I would like to thank Liam for these moist morsels of information, as if there is anything that I love more than following the game industry, it’s getting to hear about the succulent unseen underbelly!

On a similar note, there has also been a lot of discussion about broader collaborations between Nintendo and Microsoft.  This past week has been the home to a slew of rumors and reports about Microsoft’s move onto the Nintendo Switch, what they are going to do with Xbox Live integration on the device, and also what Microsoft is planning for the next generation.  Between JeuxVideo, Direct-Feed Gaming, Game Informer, Thurrott, and Windows Central, there is a combined narrative that Microsoft is planning on bringing Ori and the Blind Forest, Cuphead, and one unnamed larger IP are heading to the Switch as full releases, while also planning on making the Xbox Game Pass available for the platform, where a library of Xbox titles will be made available via Microsoft’s upcoming xCloud service.

Windows Central in particular stresses this idea, saying that Microsoft is trying to get the Xbox Game Pass on just about every device possible in order to have as many active users as possible, bring their titles to a larger audience, and generate more revenue via subscription services.  Heck, they are apparently trying to get Xbox Game Pass on the PS4, which is kind of bonkers to think about. Despite this though, Microsoft will seemingly keep their console plans operating as intended, and is viewing the Game Pass as a way to broaden their brand as the gaming landscape is supposedly heading into a digital streaming age.  Oh, and there are apparently discussions going on between Nintendo and Rare too, neat.

Narrowing down on Nintendo news, and just Nintendo news, Reggie Fils-Aime, the most beloved executive in the entire games industry, has announced his retirement.  After 15 years with the Nintendo of America, he will be stepping down from his position as president and will be superseded by Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Doug Bowser.  This is a tad upsetting given how much Reggie represented Nintendo in the eyes of the American audience, becoming prolific in his status and serving as the butt of many delightful memes over the past decade.  But he is getting older, did a lot of great things, and deserves to retire on a high note, as Nintendo is doing pretty swimmingly at the moment. Also, Reggie’s body is ready to rest, now nobody will get to ask him about Mother 3 again, the Bowser-era of NOA will begin shortly, and Nintendo Leaks from NOA shall now be called Bowser’s Insider Stories.  

Okay, what else… oh!  In addition to serving as the de-facto gaming storefront on PC for a good decade, Steam has been a video hosting service for quite a while.  Having offered people the ability to buy or rent a catalog of movies and series through a store that was mostly forgotten shortly after it was unveiled, as few people are willing to buy digital versions of movies and shows on platforms that are not on their phones or their televisions.  Valve, apparently having realized how little attention their video section was getting, has made the decision to remove non-gaming related video content from Steam.  Which basically means that unless it relates to a  specific product or series on Steam, it’s going to go.  Or to give an example, ToraDora! is a getting removed, but Sword Art Online will stay.  Users who previously purchased now removed content will retain access to these delisted products, as Valve, for all their faults, are pretty good at letting people retain their licenses even after products are removed from sale.  

Honestly, I always thought that the whole video store on Steam was meant to be Valve’s way of testing the waters in turning Steam into a multimedia hub that would expand into things like music and comics.  But given how Steam has been handled in the past few years, it would be best to focus on the store’s core competencies, especially after Epic reared their head and became a promising alternative for a number of publishers and developers who want to spur competition in order to gain favorable rates and ultimately make more money.

Header image comes from Parasyte: The Maxim.

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