Malik  (5/12/04)

Well, you might be wondering what's up, with a Wednesday Malik's Bitchings and all that...well, I have just two characters to explain; E3!  Some of the E3 details are a little to controversial, in my eye, to remain in news format.  Thus, I today, and possible I'll do this again on some more of the E3 days, bring you a smaller and more timely Malik's Bitchings.  So, in case you've forgotten your role; I'm Malik and you're in my world now.

There was a purpose all along... 

During the pre-E3 festivities, as reported by MSNBC.com,

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata had an answer for the attendees fervent responses. "I have an engineering background so I understand that technology can be interesting. But we are in the entertainment business," he said. "Itís time for games."

I think this sums up most of my bitches about games as respectfully as possible. 

Prior to the Nintendo showcase, Microsoft and Sony both had their showcases, and it seems to me that the attitude was the exact opposite of what it should have been. For a geek event of the magnitude of E3, there is a certain way things should be handled, and games/fun should be job number one. 

Microsoft, from the details, seems to have focuses a bit too much on empty awe-inspiring effects; Who wants to see Peter Moore of team XBox show off a tattoo of the release date for Halo 2? I mean, is this supposed to impress me or make me think, "Wow! That is a sad and pathetic geek show will probably need some laser work to remove that thing when November comes around and Halo 2 is delayed". Is this supposed to make the lowly geek decide that if it's cool enough to get a tattoo of the release date over, maybe I should checked out the game...everyone who will get Halo 2 (which will be a vast majority of the XBox owners) doesn't need some lame-ass attempt at trying to look hip to influence our buying habits. Then to try to wow us with Jenny McCarthy while unveiling a console version of video conferencing...seriously, what will be next? Bringing out Donald Trump? Oh, wait a minute; they did. Is there really that little respect for geeks that they think the hype is more important than what we all want to see (the games)? 

Then along comes the Sony showcase of corporate doom. Sony, instead of even trying to entertain their audience, gives a stockholder meeting of sorts. No one gives a shit about facts and figures in regard to sales. E3 is about the games and the fun. Why would we honestly give a crap about an early morning meeting to go over graphs when just a few hours away... 

Nintendo raises things up in all the right ways. They show off what E3 attendees are there for; games. While Microsoft tried to use the celebrity factor, and Sony tried to use boredom, Nintendo shows Zelda. Plus, Nintendo even tries a bit of humor, beyond the "humor" of Donald Trump saying "MMORPG", by pretty much saying the truth about their competition...it's true that Microsoft is losing money on the XBox but is happy since Windows is making their money flow. As for Sony, they could fail with their console and still be doing fine with their revenue from music, electronics, movies, etc. Nintendo not only knows how to be on task, they know who they are (they are supposed to be a geek oriented company...hence, they throw out the hip celebrities and tattoos and they don't give the geeks a bunch of figures...they give geeks games and geek related jokes). Strange how the XBox is seen as the system for hardcore gamers, but Nintendo was the only company in the E3 kickoff showcases to actually give hardcore geek entertainment. 

Solution 

Microsoft and Sony have the entirely wrong attitude for how to go about winning over geeks. While the game makers are drawing in the players, the console makers are all doing their best to show that they are completely out of touch with their audience. Microsoft should stop trying to be "cool" when they need to be geek...in other words, stay on task. Don't give us a bunch of celebrities who have as much to do with gaming as...well...Donald Trump. Give us some gaming legends. We geeks will know who they are and begin our worshipping...Nintendo gave us Shigeru Miyamoto, who if you weren't a geek (and hence wouldn't be reading this), you wouldn't care about...but the geeks were out and going crazy over the local gaming god of Nintendo. 

Meanwhile, Sony needs to stop being on task so strictly. Geeks are all about the lazy relaxation, so who needs figures and charts? Some may argue (and some have) that this is merely the Japanese work ethic trying to sneak in to E3...but then again, why is Nintendo putting on such a fun show? They are a Japanese company too. It's because Sony still has not learned how to be more than an electronics company; While consoles are electronics, they are also a whole lot more. People who buy electronics are usually the types who would care about statistics (all stereos can play music, so you'd want the stats of which one sounds best for the price with the best shelf life and warrantee), but when it comes to games, the rules change. Not all consoles can play La Pucelle Tactics, or Metroid, or Halo...tell us why we want your console with important details like what your system will do for us geeks. 

Nintendo was the only company that seems to really have it's act together. They had a nice showing of Link, Shigeru Miyamoto, and Samus Aran...the celebrities that game geeks give a shit about. Plus they used info about geeks, for geeks. Good job, for once, Nintendo. 

If all consoles could play the same exact libraries of games, I'd go with Sony since they presented the sales figures on why their console is most reliable in sales. If I cared more about Hollywood and the yuppie elite, then I'd go with Microsoft since they have the backing of those I usually despise the most. However, not all consoles are equal, and no celebrities will influence my gaming library (with the exception of a little voice acting), so I will have to give my vote to the games. If I had to declare a winner of E3's first round of challenges, Nintendo just beat the shit out of Sony and Microsoft, hand-down. 

Square Just Keeps Doing It... 

Some more details of FFXII were released with the E3 festivities, and once again, I am looking in Square's direction with a feeling of...what's the best word...pride...nope...confusion...a little...I think...the word is disgust. Yup. That's about right. 

I know I keep going off about Square, but there's a quite good reason for it. FF games (well, actually all Square derived projects of Square Enix) are just getting too freakin' realistic and serious. The worlds of FF games keep getting more realistic, with a stronger basis in the real world, with each passing FF title. 

It first started to go this way with FFVIII and the scenes that just screamed out "Invasion of Normandy" as you and your squad ran onto a beach from a troop transport ship while dodging fire and running around barricades. That game just never got to any point more relaxing and jovial than that moment (and that's pretty messed up if a beach invasion is the most relaxing point in the game). Then we got a short break from reality with FFIX...I love that game...so silly and fun...sigh... 

Then FFX came out with it's realistic war torn environment. That game embodied all that I try to escape from when I play video games. There was brutality (if I want that, I have the news to watch...or games with a fun story), poverty (news again), strong racist sentiments (ummm...news), and a whiney cast of losers (I have to put up with whiney people all day...) who should have been squished by Sin long ago. When I play a Final "Fantasy" game, I want just that; Fantasy. I don't want any of this realistic shit. Worst of all, FFX (not to mention some other Square offenders; FFTA and FFX-2) had no real story to tie everything together. Or, I should say, it did not have enough of a plot to tie together everything and still make up for the whiney characters (anyone who thinks Tidus and Yuna are cool...just die already) and overly serious themes. 

Let me explain something; there is seriousness and there is overly seriousness. FF recently has fallen in the second category. If a game has almost no fun (emotionally fun) moments (besides some bittersweet ones), and the plot focuses on (not counting the romance between two pieces of shit who can't stop their pathetic pity parties), extensively, serious themes, then it is "overly serious". Especially if all the serious themes are ones that can and are faced in reality...how is Lulu and Wakka (who are more freakin' loser characters...Wakka more than Lulu...but Lulu is not much more than a Goth poser...I hate posers) learning to cope with the loss of Wakka's brother fun? How is Tidus reliving verbal abuse by his father fun? How is watching those flashbacks and NOT seeing Tidus's father physically abuse that sad sack of shit fun? How is watching Tidus and Yuna do that whole damned "I want you, but I can't have you" routine fun? None of that is fun. It's depressing and disgusting. By the way, notice how I said "watching" so much. It's because you can't even have much fun in playing the game...most of the time you just watch it. 

The only semi-realistic RPG I have enjoyed ever was Shadow Hearts...and that was due to how SH is based in a (for lack of a better term) "shadow" world presented almost on a parallel to our real world. The issues faced by Yuri (SH protagonist) and his crew were usually as far removed from reality as possible...having a demon possession issue is not something that makes me think of how crappy my work day and the world around me are. However, racism, violence, poverty, and overly serious dialogue do. Plus, Yuri had a certain old Chinese dood to keep up some comic relief. 

Plus, on top of how overly realistic (in terms of it's basis in reality) FFXII is going to be, we have another issue that just pisses me off; Ivalice. That's right. The world of FFTA (the game that pissed me off so badly) is back in FFXII. Am I the only one who misses when the worlds and characters of previous Square games DID NOT appear in new titles (with the exception of Cloud in FFT...which was pathetic...)? Square was always the master of creating a unique and yet strangely familiar experience with each new game. That feeling just disappears when a world is reused, a sequel is a reality (like with FFX-2), and the tone of the game is just too serious for it's own good. 

Solution 

Square is somehow being quite popular with the geeks despite the hollowness of their products. So, my solution is two-fold. 

First off, the majority of geeks (those who support realistic, serious, sequel-minded Square) need to pull their heads out of their asses. NOW! 

Secondly, Square would then feel a loss of profit, so they would probably (on their own) go back to making entertaining titles. If not...then Square can eat shit and die. I was once the most loyal of Square fans (just one step away from being a fan-boy...like a fan-boy who can actually think for himself), but I can't keep buying into this crap just because it's a Square title. Square was once king, but now they are nothing more than a British Monarch...they have a cool title, but they don't do enough for their people to justify their position. 

As for those who follow Square so loyally (like little fanboy lap-dogs), I just have this to ask. Why do you play Square's games? Why do you play any games? I play for the fun sense of escaping reality (hence I don't play Square much when it comes to their new titles). This doesn't just mean the actual world and characters...it means the themes and moods. If a game is serious, shows the realities of racism, sexism, bigotry of any sort, violence, genocide, mass murder, whatever, and the level of seriousness far outweighs the levels of fun and escapism...well, there's just something wrong. If you're going to devote 60 hours to a serious game with no real plot (and considering a RPG needs a good plot...I love RPGs, but even I can say that game play is second to story in all good RPGs), you're misguided...devote the same time to something far more rewarding like volunteer work. I know if I must face a not-at-all-fun harsh reality, I would rather be doing something to help my neighbors than just wasting my time and attention span on a Square made piece of shit.

 

Conclusion 

 

Well, that's it for today.  I have far too much E3 news to sort through to devote too much time to writing.  However, stay tuned for more developments as they come out from the gee-fest known as E3.  As always, if you think I'm too rough on Square Enix...you can suck it!  However, if you want to defend your precious Tidus in all his whiney ways, tell me.

Malik