Rundown (1/26-2/01) The Questionable Box

Wherein I discuss the troubles plaguing Natalie’s precious Box, Okabe’s adaptation adventures, a new home for my 1,000 babies, the success of the Switch-makers, and another icy blunder.

Nigma Box has always been an off-kilter playground for me, but I do periodically wonder if it is truly ‘okay’ or ‘appropriate’ for me to lump all of the content I produce together into this one melting pot that is representative of the things I adore.  On one hand, this is the home for semi-professional and personal-preference-based game reviews and fairly straightforward summaries of gaming news that has me say “this thing looks pretty neat, I hope it’s good” while expressing my more unique thoughts on a given matter.  On the other hand, this is also a place where I post novels about cannibalism and short stories about gloryhole ghosts.

These things do not necessarily blend well together and I often wonder if I should give up any and all pretense of this site being a moderately analytical look at the games industry.  But like most major changes about this site, such as fixing the grey bar above the logo, updating its WordPress theme to something from a year more recent than 2011, or trying to actually advertise my stuff beyond my limited ecosystem, I procrastinate.  I just keep doing what I like doing, and hope that someday my typical post will garner a few hundred views, instead of one or two dozen.

To kick things off this week, Mages. has recently announced two new projects related to their acclaimed and beloved Science Adventure visual novel Steins;Gate, revealing that sequel/prequel story Steins;Gate 0 will be receiving an updated version that replaces gorgeous artwork of the original title with comparatively bland stills from the anime adaptation along with some instances of animation, known as Steins;Gate 0 Elite.  As was the case with the release of Steins;Gate Elite a few years back, I find this approach to be objectionable, but I guess it was successful enough for the developers to invest the time and effort needed to pursue a gimmicky update to an already niche game, as I suppose such a project was deemed lucrative.

Speaking of which, it was announced that a western adaptation of Steins;Gate is being produced by American production company Skydance Television.  It’s a notion that honestly makes me tilt my head considering how distinctly Japanese Steins;Gate as a story is, and how some of its more… eccentric plot points might not jive particularly well with a western audience, especially in the 2020s.  Still, adaptations like this really do nothing to impair the value or merit of the original, so I say, sure, why not.

After months of anticipation and theorizing, The Pokémon Company has finally unveiled some finite details on the much-heralded replacement to 2014’s Pokémon Bank, with Pokémon Home.  A subscription service for storing, transferring, and trading Pokémon between games, and moving your collection of creatures forwards, but not backwards because that would just be absurd.  A limited free plan is available, allowing anyone to store 30 Pokémon and trade one Pokémon at a time via GTS with no strings attached, but most of the features are locked behind the premium plan.  Including storage of up to 6,000 Pokémon, three GTS slots to use simultaneously, an IV checker, and the ability to host trade rooms.

How much will it cost though?  Well, since Pokémon Bank only cost $5 a year, people assumed that Home would cost something similar… but instead, it will be $16 a year.  A dramatic increase for certain, but one that I look at and genuinely cannot get upset or angry about, as this service will be handling a lot of the online trading features for the series going forward, and those things cost a lot more to maintain than a storage service.  Also, it’s $16.

Personally, I understand why The Pokémon Company wants everything Pokémon related to be connected to this unified platform with a recurring revenue model, and I really cannot begrudge them for this strategy.  If anything, I believe that this should just be the beginning. I can easily imagine The Pokémon Company crafting this elaborate interconnected mobile ecosystem that allows players to engage with Pokémon through a variety of different ways throughout their days.  

Catching Pokémon in Pokémon Go, raising them in the hypothetical Pokémon Breed, storing them in Pokémon Home, battling them online in the also hypothetical Pokémon Battle, all before transferring them to Pokémon Sleep to do… sleep stuff.  It would be a way to make Pokémon a greater part of people’s lives, and allow them to enjoy many of the core appeals of the mainline RPGs without the commitment of buying a games console or investing dozens of hours into an interactive story.  Or at least that’s what I imagine some random businessman trying to pitch to the upper management of TPC as the future of the series.

They could easily pivot Pokémon strongly into that or, y’know, they could just keep making mainline Pokémon games, ‘cos those are selling pretty well.  Pokémon Sword and Shield have raked in 16.06 million units from their November 15th launch to December 31st, 2019.  Meaning that these games are already on track to surpass X and Y’s lifetime sales of 16.42 million.  All of this may seem surprising considering the vile that surrounded these games since June, but I guess any publicity is good publicity, and people still bought the game in droves.  

Mind you, another reason why the games sold so well can be attributed to the high software attachment rate of Nintendo Switch owners, a user base that has recently reached 52.48 million, matching nicely with the general sales trajectory of the DS and Wii.  All of which is wonderful to see for a system that superseded the flop that was the Wii U, and supposedly had many developers worried, despite the fact that the Switch is precisely what your average game-liker wanted from a Nintendo system.  So what else is there to say other than congratulations?

…Man, I really should re-watch Evangelion sometime.  I last saw it when I was 14, did not get it at all, and now all I remember about it is the mecha dance sequence, the inflation fetish episode, the naked emaciated 14-year-old in a bathtub, and the greatest song to ever accompany divine genocide.  I also know about that one time Shinji was forced into crossdressing in his dead mother’s clothes and subsequently raped by some old bastard, but that was from the 2003 video game Evangelion 2, which nobody really cares about or remembers.

I was going to end things there, but some last minute stories crossed my way, most notably how Nintendo is consolidating their Tokyo offices into a location.  A move that, while likely not a very appreciated by its employees, as they will likely need to pursue long commutes, will supposedly improve the development teams’ productivity and efficiency.  But likely not in a way that will be immediately perceivable to us game-likers. Though the most curious move regarding this consolidation of office space is how “group companies”, like Game Freak, will also be joining Nintendo’s first-party studios in this move, seemingly implying that Nintendo will have some stronger relationship with Game Freak as, well, they’ll be working in the same building.  There’s nothing much to draw from this news beyond blind theories, but it is nevertheless an interesting tidbit to make note of in the growing saga of Nintendo, Game Freak, and possibly Pokémon.

On a completely unrelated note, Blizzard recently released an updated version of their seminal genre-spawning classic Warcraft III, dubbed Warcraft III: Reforged.  The remaster was a supposed downgrade from what was initially shown off in 2018, with the final game looking worse and lacking many features from the base game.  While that would be cause for frustration alone, the release of Reforged wound up crippling the original Warcraft III, limiting what content players could enjoy, and, seemingly, wiping away one of the most lively and creative modding communities of the 2000s.  A community that must now agree to a far harsher EULA, seemingly after Blizzard lost the rights to Dota, which originated as a Warcraft III mod.  

This left the title with a pitiful aggregate review score of 63/100, and a boatload of disdain that, while not as palpable as the whole Blitzchung incident from last year, it is still a blunder so immense that I don’t have anything else to say other than… congratulations!  You did the bad thing again!

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