Rundown (6/16-6/22) Super Graphical Butthurt

Something that routinely baffles me nowadays is the fervor that people get into regarding a game’s graphics.  While I get the obsession over frame rate and resolution, I honestly assumed that the greater dedicated gaming audience has moved beyond voicing dissatisfaction with some games not looking as good as their peers, or looking like a “last gen” game, while posting cherry picked comparisons in order to make themselves feel like they are more… sophisticated?  This recently happened with Pokemon fanatics who are super butthurt about Pokemon Sword and Shield, with its graphics not being as good as people want them to be, and I feel like such a tired old bastard whenever I try to understand why this is important to them.  Sure, I’d like the game to look a bit better, but I’m someone who said they would be fine, if not happy, with graphical fidelity never advancing beyond that of HD renditions of GameCube games, and I goldarn meant it.  

Moving to the news, over the past few years, I have noticed that Nintendo likes to announce their mobile projects very early to appease shareholders, and then stay hush-hush on the project until it’s about a month away from release.  This was yet again the case with their latest mobile affair, Dr. Mario World, which was given a formal announcement trailer this past week, and it looks… like Dr. Mario but adapted for smartphone play.  Meaning that the levels are a lot less chaotic and based around using a finite collection of capsules, the name of the game is getting 3 in a row instead of 4, and the capsules now ascend, not descend, because that makes more sense considering how people hold their phones.

There are also a few new mechanical extras like shells, bombs, new green viruses, a stamina bar that limits how often you can play, skills that are powered by a mixture of microtransaction funbucks and in-game currency, and additional playable doctor characters with their own unique abilities, determined via a gacha system.  Well, maybe not a gacha system with different rarities, but it’s random regardless. So yes, it is just another mobile game at the end of the day, but with a Nintendo flavor and some questionable decisions that could lead to people spending oodles of money to get a 3D model of Daisy dressed up like a doctor. Or in other words, what one should have expected, and overall it looks like it will be a fun divergence when it drops… upwards on July 10, 2019.

Disaster Report is one of those obscure niche Japanese series that I honestly would not blame anybody for not knowing.  The original PS2 title was a budget title with a sketchy localization that could not keep names consistent, a sequel that was rebranded as Raw Danger and came out for the PS2 in 2007, and a PSP title that, naturally, never left Japan.  The fourth entry in this series was originally meant to come out for the PS3 back in the spring of 2011, but, well, making a game about a devastating disaster in Japan right after a devastating disaster struck Japan was considered a bad move, so the game was shelved.

Following this, the developer, Irem, folded, many of its staff went on to form a new company by the name of Granzella, who are best known for City Shrouded in Shadows, which is basically Disaster Report but with magic powers and where Evangelions fight King Ghidorah and imposter Ultra Men.  Also known as one of the best games to not get localized this generation… mostly for legal reasons.  Anyways, somehow Granzella got the rights to the series back and updated what they were working on, expanding it into Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories last year, which was finally picked up for a western release by NISA, who will put it out in early 2020 for PS4, Switch, and PC.  And knowing just how wild and crazy these games are, it is almost certainly going on my list of games to maybe possibly get around to.

Anything else?  Well, there was a bit of a kerfuffle wherein an artist drew Nessa, a gym leader from the upcoming Pokemon Sword and Shield in a manner that lightened her skin tone.  It is something that I mostly just brushed off when learning that the artist responsible for the original image is Japanese because, broadly speaking, a lot of Asian countries either lack the historical background centered around whitewashing, blackface, and other problematic elements that involve changing a character’s skin tone or general ethnicity.  They also tend to associate light and fair skin with beauty and desirability, even when the majority of their occupants have darker skin, which is pretty messed up when you think about it. But then again, everything associated with the subject matter of race is pretty messed up when one stops and thinks it through. Hell, it carries so much loaded baggage that it is hard for a discussion about it to be held without somebody throwing a fit.

Personally, I do think that artists and creators should be free to reinterpret characters however they want to whether it changes their proportions, ethnicity, sex, sexuality, background, absolutley anything is fair game in my book.  Yet art does not exist in a vacuum, and one must be careful when playing with these concepts to not to give way to a caricature, stereotype, or anything problematic in the confines of the real world. Which I say as somebody who enjoys casually toying with the concept of “race change” in the stories she writes, and just last month wrote a short story wherein a Latin American grandfather transforms into a young fair skinned woman (Pyra from Xenoblade Chronicles 2).  Is it technically whitewashing when the character’s ethnicity is presented as an arbitrary afterthought and their entire body transforms into another person who just happens to be of a different ethnicity?  I don’t think so.

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