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Messages - Crimm

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Well there you go.


Not who you think.

Jon is still out this week, so this episode is a trio-show. James is playing Super Mega Baseball 3, and despite messing up the name a half-dozen times, he really enjoys it. He also clearly misses baseball. Guillaume is also playing some arcade sports with Mario Golf: World Tour, for 3DS. He knows he dropped this game at some point, but he's currently enjoying himself and isn't entirely sure why he quit the first time. He's also still addicted to Streets of Rage 4. Lastly, Greg checked out Panel de Pon on the Switch Online Games service, and returned to Super Mario Maker 2. TYP's Maker Code is JQRCNGCFG.

After the break we tackle two emails: what games do you love but struggle to explain and are we ever getting a Switch-for-TV-only?

You can ask us to explain things we struggle to explain by sending us an email.


This is no longer a joke, lives are on the line. Mine.

Dr. Mario World is the worst kind of mobile game. No, I don't mean a mobile game with spinners, gauges, and loot boxes. These are moral inadequacies that have their own inquisitors and shall not peddle my expertise where it is not needed. It is also true that Dr. Mario World is now dealing in medical falsehoods and general Internet Quackery in the midst of a pandemic. And still, I lack the power to flag their communication with a passive-aggressive "Get the facts about 'capsules.'" warning. And now, unchecked and unchallenged, they have begun to certify delphinidae as medical professionals.

Neither diamonds nor B-tier princesses posses the ability to erase viruses.

I am a frequent and known critic of Dr. Mario World. An easily-translatable puzzle game went from the Dr. Mario we all know into a more bone-standard puzzle game. I'll let inoffensive-narrator-voice explain it, as I cannot be bothered.

They didn't need to turn Dr. Mario into a move-limited puzzle game, nor did they need to add premium currencies and timers, and yet here we are. They could have done the fun thing, and just translated classic Dr. Mario gameplay to our phones. It isn't as if this is a franchise that Nintendo blanches at re-releasing.

This isn't even all of the Dr. Mario games, these are all just ports of the original Dr. Mario. Hell, it isn't even all the ports; I excluded the Vs. arcade machines. It certainly doesn't include sequels, including such unquestionable classics as DSiWare's Dr. Mario Express, unhelpfully named A Little Bit of... Dr. Mario by a PAL division that clearly just didn't care. Or bangers like Dr. Mario Online Rx, which now sounds more like a way to get 100mg tablets of Sildenafil without having to look your doctor in the eyes.

Re-branded by the world as "frequent-Dr. Mario World critic, James Jones," there are days I dread. Days where I wake up confronted by a dozen Twitter notifications.

This is threat level Red. At one point I held out hope that this meant I had put something smart or funny into the world before drifting off to sleep. Now I know better, Dr. Mario World is back on its bullshit.

"What have they done today?" It's a futile question, as I will never be able to find the bottom of the barrel as effortlessly. Dr. Mario World creates nothing; that is not its way. It is a transformation tool, repackaging known brand commodities as marketable quasi-doctors. That's how these mobile games work, after all. You need to provide incentive for players return, and to do that you keep introducing new "characters."

And I use air quotes here, in written form, in a sort of sardonic ouroboros, because these are not characters. These are literal props, wrapped in a lab coat with all the care your Taco Bell "taco artisan" wraps your Beefy Fritos® Burrito at 3 AM. You are drunk, and do not care - either literally or in the case of Mobile engagement figuratively.

Perhaps also literally; I don't judge.

But this is not without ramifications, and that's the lesson. Sure, it's funny to laugh at Dr. Nabbit.

Nintendo has now decided to place an entity who, thanks to their own devotion to nominative-determinism is capable of only petty larceny. Nabbit is Nintendo decidedly placing itself among the believers of theological determinism. If he has been promoted to doctor, is Dr. Nabbit now capable of medical pilfering? Is he going to steal your organs, like some kind of generic mobster from a Liam Neeson film? Or, as seems more likely, is he going to steal your wallet when you're on the exam table?

And decidedly, Nabbit is not a character, he is an ironically an affliction. He steals power-ups from the Toad House and scurries away. He is such a non-character that Nintendo did not even bother to redraw his model in his "graduation" photo. The model of Nabbit, to the left, is the very first model they released of him. The Dr. Mario World portrait, above, is the exact same images with some armbands hastily affixed to various appendages.

The awkward angle of his feet work in the Great White Abyss of a character render. Set against the sterile Dr. Mario World background, he appears to be mid-trick, kick-flipping off a skateboard that he has launched too far forward.

He is not going to stick the landing.

He will need medical attention.

I don't need to make commentary on the wisdom or ethics of placing life and death decisions in the hands of babies; I understand that Dr. Mario World is not a diagnostic tool. The creation of Mario Character by agglutination is a well-established meme. These are empty calories in the form of player avatars. We do not bat an eye at Gold Mario or Baby Daisy. We retch ever so slightly at Pink Gold Peach, but largely we have inured ourselves. This is where we failed. Our willingness to buy Mario Kart 8, and its cast of metal-plated and infant racers has sent a message.

When we look at the ever-growing list of "Doctors" what looks back is our own pink gold reflection.

And madness.

Dr. Goomba Tower is no character. It's not even a singular entity. You could make a bad-faith argument that Dr. Goomba Tower is in fact three characters, making this a "best value," to borrow mobile game terminology. But again, Goombas are less character and more speed bump. They are designed to teach players how to jump; if you cannot figure out the A Button you will not pass Super Mario Bros. very first screen. At least some species of Koopa have the self-awareness and self-preservation skills to not walk off edges. Goomba simply march to their doom.

Normally this is where one would compare them to lemmings, but that only applies to long-discredited science, Walt Disney cartoons, and the titular video games.

Misconceptions about lemmings go back many centuries. In the 1530s, geographer Zeigler of Strasbourg proposed the theory that the creatures fell out of the sky during stormy weather and then died suddenly when the grass grew in spring. This description was contradicted by natural historian Ole Worm, who accepted that lemmings could fall out of the sky, but claimed that they had been brought over by the wind rather than created by spontaneous generation.

"Natural Historian Ole Worm" sounds like a character. Are you telling me you wouldn't trade virtual Diamonds to play as Natural Historian Dr. Ole Worm? You would trade many virtual Diamonds for Dr. Ole Worm.

The manufacture of Dr. Goomba Tower took Radio Free Nintendo Episode 671 into a pit. This sparked an 18 minute commentary on Nintendo's process minting "doctors," which Greg Leahy noted produced "a whole constellation of horseshit."

GL: "Am I to assume that all of these Goombas have medical degrees?"
Guillaume Veillette: "I don't care if the middle or bottom ones have medical degrees."
Jon Lindemann: "If I go to see the doctor, and I have a problem with that foot, who's going to look at it?"

Before my not-entirely-rhetorical question of "Would Bullet Bill would be a better doctor than Goomba Tower, because he has hands" could be answered Guillaume seemed to imply there were some limits to what Nintendo would dare to doctor.

They would not "wrap a lab coat around a DK barrel and call it a character," as I had suggested.

GV: "I think we're going to see all New Super Mario Bros. ****, not even the 3D Super Mario Bros. stuff they could mine."

It was as if they were listening.

Dolphins first show up in Super Mario World. However, they only show up on Vanilla Secret 3 and hidden path of Chocolate Island 1. In this role they're not even speed bumps, they literally serve as platforms. Primarily, dolphins have shown up in the mini-games and background artwork for Mario Party and Mario Sport titles.

Lift: arguably as much a character as a dolphin

Dolphin's most recent adventure was as the theme of a track in Mario Kart 8. So presumably next month I'll be revising this article complaining about Dr. Moo Moo. Moo Moo Meadows has been in far more Mario Kart instances at this point, and at least the Moo Moo has a name! Nintendo didn't even bother to give dolphins a name, which is ironic as dolphins do in fact use names.

A cursory exam of the venerable Super Mario Wiki returns precious few creatures that Nintendo have not bothered to name. This is a series where even munitions have been granted identity. I should point out that the Super Mario Wiki did turn up the fact that some dolphins have names. I am speaking specifically of Donny, the Micro-Dolphins that resides in Yoshi's digestive tract.

I don't even believe this is real, but the wiki insists that the Nintendo Adventure Book Unjust Desserts is about Mario's Innerspace adventure inside a Yoshi who had recently consumed his brother. And, alarmingly, Yoshi is occupied by a collection of small dolphins who are also flat-Earthers.

I can state with absolute certainty that at sometime between 1993 and 1995, a child gave a book report on this novel while his teacher despaired at their lot. This Amazon listing makes it quite clear that at least one copy of this literary enigma was well-loved, you will need to cough-up the completely reasonable asking price of $199.95 to confirm if the contents do detail the internal ecosystem of Yoshi and its pod of petite-dolphins.

If I had died being the only person with this knowledge then did I really live?

Did you?

I should be done with this book, but can we take a break here and go back to that book cover?

Toad, what have they done to you?

Why is Toad so small? Is everyone else just large? Did Toad find magic beans and climb to Tiny-Huge Island? I can already hear murmurs of Dr. Toad Tower.

Is this where Dr. Mario Tour leads, pondering the fate of cellular dolphins that swim through a river of cola inside a fictional dinosaur and the canonical height of Toad in a series of children's books?

At this point Dr. Moo Moo is a given, and we should just accept that. You are weeks away from tightly gripping your phone, juggling capsules provided by a cow doctor. Are we weeks away from Dr. Cheep Cheep? Months? Certainly not years.

I suppose that this step towards absurdist avatars is a step away from their usual process of just appending Baby or Metal, unless Tower is just the newest adjective they've concocted. If we're headed towards Dr Baby Buzzy Beetle Tower then I'm not here for it.

In conclusion:

Podcast Discussion / Episode 674: The Fall of Miiverse
« on: May 24, 2020, 06:39:00 AM »

Where once the Wii U's rivers rolled with "amazing water," there is nothing.

With Jon out and a Patreon podcast to record, we took it a bit easy this week. Three emails comprise the whole of the show. This week we: try to find holes in the Switch library, praise Nintendo TVii yet again, and maximize remake revenue. You can have us strip-mine our childhood by sending us an email.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 672: A Dingo Ate My Podcast
« on: May 12, 2020, 10:29:20 AM »
I'm not surprised The Bureau came out decent; it was clear they were planning to spend real money on it. It just seemed shockingly tone deaf for what that audience wanted. It felt like the standard "I have a license, apply it to whatever is 'hot' now and make money."

Command and Conquer: Rivals was sort of the gold-standard of this recently. It was clearly not what fans of the franchise wanted or needed, and fundamentally - no matter how much the devs swore otherwise - it wasn't "RTS on mobile" it was a mobile game with RTS elements. Fans predicted it would be pay-to-win, grind for hours to get anywhere. And they were right. The game itself is apparently decent, and a perfectly functional mobile game, but every review slammed its P2W elements as significant negative.

Just having a brand will get you coverage. If this wasn't XCom-themed nobody would have remembered it. It sure as hell wouldn't have had a PAX East presentation. But that initial impression matters and it can poison a product in the womb. Nintendo themselves were chastened by this with Federation Force, and they responded when they announced a logo for MP4 alongside Return of Samus Returns.

Does anyone remember Cing's successor's name?

You absolute monsters.

We are the aggrieved and you have the temerity to shift the blame to us?

TalkBack / Re: Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories (Switch) Review
« on: April 02, 2020, 05:20:03 AM »
The framerate is wild. When it stables out it's a 30.

BUT sometimes it will just plummet into a stuttering mess. It seems to be tied to loading. After loading an area or an in-engine cutscene the framerate almost always craters.

TalkBack / Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories (Switch) Review
« on: March 31, 2020, 11:15:07 AM »

There’s rubble everywhere, aftershocks are knocking me off my feet, everything is on fire, and that’s just the game.

I thought reviewing a game like Disaster Report 4 during an actual global pandemic would be the biggest challenge I’d face today; I was wrong. Reviewing Disaster Report 4 at any time presents a cloud of confusion and mayhem that defies traditional review. This is a confoundingly bad game, so much so that if it were any other series, it would never see release in this state. This isn’t a game that’s bad so the devs could cut corners; rather, it is a game that puts in the extra development effort to create confusing or tedious objectives that make playing the game worse. Normally, that would be enough to write an abysmal review, but this is Disaster Report.

In Disaster Report, left is right and up is down. In Disaster Report, an earthquake turns into the opportunity an octogenarian-led gang has been waiting for to diversify into the lucrative slavery business. Disaster Report 4 is madness, delivered with none of the technical proficiency or skill you’d expect of a game coming out in 2020, or even 2010. It’s a game that makes you laugh, makes you confused, but mostly makes you frustrated.

Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories, to use its full title, is an escape game. Tokyo, or something resembling it, has been struck by a massive earthquake. Our hero, a visitor from an unstated “elsewhere,” is now trapped in a crumbling and burning city. The basic goal is to escape, not just the fires and the debris, but also the crushing hopelessness of the refugee sites; the goal is to get home. This is a perfectly serviceable premise for any game, but Disaster Report uses this as the canvas for a more psychotic narrative. Our hero meets other survivors, carries out quests in order to assist those who remain, and evades mortal danger of falling concrete and rogue cultists.

Did I neglect to mention the cultists? I guess it would be more appropriate to call them shinshukyo (“new religions”), but they’re just cultists masquerading as a salvation movement. Look, this review is going to be littered with spoilers, but it hardly seems like it matters. There are moments of Disaster Report 4 where the game shifts from rote, but acceptable, disaster movie plot to nonsensical mania. One minute the morality system is rewarding you with +5 Morality for not scamming a woman trying to feed their infant, and the next it’s penalizing you with -300 Morality for sinking the aforementioned slavers’ ship with a bomb. Me telling you these things happen doesn’t deprive them of their power, it amplifies it. Denial is a weapon, and I am taking it from you.

If you’re thinking something like “I like the Yakuza series, and this sounds similar” then I have to dissuade you. The older Yakuza games are janky and primitive, but they’re old. Disaster Report 4 is not old. It plays like it’s from the early PS2 era, and appropriately it most closely resembles an early PS3 game. But this isn’t the PS2, or even the PS3. It’s the Switch. And while this game started development back on the PS3, it’s gameplay wouldn’t feel any less primitive if it hadn’t been delayed by The Great Tohoku Earthquake.

Mission objectives generally involve our hero entering a section of town, often just an intersection of two roads, and then rubbing against every surface until the event required to advance the plot triggers. Sometimes it also involves schlepping back and forth across the intersection to move things between survivors that they could easily move themselves. Sometimes you’re slowly rowing an inflatable dinghy surrounded by partially submerged briars and ruined apartment blocks. Sometimes your hands and feet are bound and you’re dragging your butt across the floor in a stealth mission with AI kidnappers that literally cannot see you. It’s tedious, and that’s when you know what you’re supposed to do.

Often you’re dropped in this little section of town with zero guideposts or objectives. Then it's just a matter of wandering around until something, anything, happens. Maybe a teddy bear needs to be rescued from underwater or a bullied teen needs to be rescued from a suicide attempt. This game swings wildly in tone, but so much time is spent just trying to find the next point that much of its roughly 10-12 hours is not knowing what to do.

I don’t think anyone would be upset if the game just served up the moments of madness, the morality questions, or the characters that you can genuinely connect with over the course of the adventure without all the aimless wandering. But without it, how would you use your useless call button? Yes, there is a button that makes our hero shout “HOI!” to find survivors, but despite pressing it constantly in order to amuse myself I never really saw that it did anything. Simply put, the game feels needlessly aimless for what ultimately is a fairly linear game. Not knowing where to go is by far the most common and frustrating feeling.

It’s not the only frustration. The game is just unpleasant to look at, with visuals that would have been unimpressive a decade ago. The game itself seems to agree, as the camera often seems intent to not show you anything of value. It so frequently ended up inside the skull of my hero, showing me a brief image of the back of his eyes, that at some point I stopped noticing. Load times between areas can be shockingly long, and even after control is resumed often many textures are still loading in and until they do the game devolves into a stuttering mess. Overall, it just feels like Disaster Report 4 is on the edge of exploding at any moment. To be fair, it never did crash, but that’s not something I normally feel like I need to call out.

Update: While playing the epilogue I experienced a game crash.

Even when the game is doing a good job, it seems to act in spite of itself. I became genuinely attached to the friends you make along the way. If one of them met an untimely demise or betrayed me, I felt genuinely hurt. But the game just moves right onto the next scene. Friend kidnapped and sexually assaulted? Give it a minute of quiet to set in (or just choose to walk away if you’re a jerk) now swing wildly into comedy and replace her torn clothes with any outfit you found throughout the game. Baseball uniform? That’ll make her feel better. Carry an old lady to a refugee camp and bottle water from a puddle, calling it a “miracle cure”. Get exposed, run off by your new worshipers, and then take a tour through an orphanage where most of the kids died in a fire. You can make a game with these scenes but it often feels like two different teams were writing this game. And how they’re set against each other weakens both. There is no shortage of character twists that were nothing but “they’ll never see THIS coming.”

The game is fully voiced, in Japanese, and the cast seems really invested. The insert songs, vocal tracks that play at key moments, are lovely. And the only other song of note, an airy piano track that plays when you use the toilet, is nice, I suppose. This is Disaster Report: the fact the game doesn’t play music unless you’re “taking care of business” is wonderfully on brand.

That really is the challenge in reviewing this game. I see what the team wanted to make, and it is exactly the kind of thing I go for. I did enjoy the comedy, and some of the drama was touching if occasionally tactless. But there are so many technical issues, so much dated gameplay design, so many dubious writing choices, and so much grinding tedium that it just eclipses the things I enjoy. I could deal with the technical issues, the weird story hiccups, and even some of the gameplay stuff if only I felt like I always knew what I needed to do. The tedium and the madness are the two things that stick out. And sadly, the tedium just outweighs the madness. I would love to recommend this game to new-found fans of games like the Yakuza series, because there is a tonal similarity, but I just can’t. Early games in that series were primitive, but they weren’t aimless.

There aren’t many games in the world where an NPC rewards your good deeds by offering to, among other things, “end the game” or “rename the game.” I picked “rename,” because I didn’t believe that even a game as wild as this would do that, and from that point forward the game called itself “Disaster Report 5?”. I don’t know why I doubted him, because at that point I had already concluded that some very creative and funny people worked on this game. And when the real Disaster Report 5 comes out I’m going to keep an eye on it, and if the absurdity I described excites you then you should too. But this one, there are just too many things that got on my nerves. Some people will still have a good time, and for sure there were moments where I went from delighted to dumbfounded and back in seconds. But the best I can say is proceed with caution, falling debris ahead.

Podcast Discussion / Episode 663: RPG Voltron
« on: March 08, 2020, 10:37:00 AM »

In context, "The Tunnel Home" is one of the most uncomfortable things I've ever seen. I hate you Barry.

We're down one Lindemann this week. The doctors say he'll recover from his injuries, but he'll never have feeling in his elbows again.

In his place we're joined by Syrenne McNulty for an all-New Business RFN. Guillaume kicks it off with quick impressions of mystery Picross adventure Murder By Numbers. He's still very early, so consider this the prologue chapter. He then really sets us on our path for the show with a duo of retro re-releases SEGA AGES: Phantasy Star and Final Fantasy Adventure. Both these remasters are courtesy of M2. Both of these are JRPGs from roughly the same time frame. One clearly got more love than the other. Greg is ALSO playing a re-release of a JRPG with his closing thoughts on Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore. #FE is such a ridiculous game, but that's the source of a lot of its charm.

It took far longer than expected to get through these re-releases, so we took a break to move the show into a new direction. That new direction? Syrenne has impressions of Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers, and in case you're confused, despite being from Omega Force it is not a Musou game. Say it with me now, "It's a JRPG!" That's right, part 2 of the show begins with a surprise JRPG. James wraps-up the show forming the head of this beast, with concluding thoughts on Fire Emblem: Three Houses DLC. He's also started a hilariously overpowered New Game+ run, that's probably done more to harm the game than help it.

As always, you can send your emails to us. One day we'll find our balance again.

Podcast Discussion / Episode 657: Killing ARMS
« on: January 26, 2020, 12:29:00 PM »

Spring Man
2017 - 2017

This week is the podcast-equivalent of a stay-cation. We had to record a Patreon episode  (Say it with me now, "Patreon dot com slash N W R") and we had done two double-stuffed episodes in a row. So this week we recorded a short email-only episode. This week we try to determine if Smash a marketing tool and grade the Switch as its third birthday approaches.

Here's the part where I put the plugs:

Emails go here.
Thoughts on our upcoming RetroActive for Rhythm Thief  go here.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 656: Top 1010 of the Decade
« on: January 21, 2020, 06:50:08 PM »

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 656: Top 1010 of the Decade
« on: January 21, 2020, 06:49:17 PM »
Batman is an interesting situation for Wii U and this list.

Jon and then after a gap Greg are the two most likely to have listed it, but in both cases they would have played it on a different console a year earlier.

Those early weird Wii U ports had a lot of good game but...I associate them with other systems

Podcast Discussion / RetroActive 46: Rhythm Thief
« on: January 18, 2020, 05:14:12 PM »
It's that time again! We're doing a RetroActive in Rhythm Thief for Nintendo 3DS. You can play along with us, and post your thoughts here. It's a short game, so we hope you can join us.

Comments posted here may find their way into the episode. Given the brevity of the game, we're doing this one on a tight turnaround. Recording will happen in early February.

Podcast Discussion / Episode 655: Bringing that Big Lindemann Energy
« on: January 12, 2020, 01:05:29 PM »

He didn't.

We had big plans for this week, much of which were scuttled by an emergency Jon deficiency. Normally, this would be a great tiding for any well-authored plan. Alas, today I stand alone in the desert testifying to all to look around and marvel at my great works.

Instead we kicked-off our show with a regular New Business. James starts it off with a deep dive into castaway life with Ys VIII. He might care for it, but the 20 hours in five days is an inconclusive metric. Greg gives an update on Space Invaders news (yes, a real thing in 2020) before leveraging his skills as an elite platform game player to bring us his impressions of New Super Lucky's Tale. Guillaume closes out New Business with Guacamelee! 2. Mixing brawler with Igavania produces...I don't know I'm pretty sure Iga's already run around E3 in a mask.

After a break we attempt to provide some coverage of the Pokémon Direct from earlier in the day. Pokémon is getting DLC, and also new-old Pokémon. All of these things are going to be controversial, and we need those sweet listens. This is now a for-profit podcast.

You won't believe two announcements from the Pokémon Direct!
Some people are very upset...

Am I doing this right?

Lastly, we try to salvage some portion of our plans with our Top 5 Games of 2019! Jon's absence means he will have to present them on his own, in front of the entire class. Please jeer him. A remarkable lack of overlap this year by the crew indicates the depth and breadth of quality software available in 2019.

Speaking of quality software, it's time for our next RetroActive! It's time for a fiat selection, and this time we're going with Rhythm Thief for Nintendo 3DS. Normally, we wouldn't announce it quite yet, since we're not planning to do it for a little while, but it's on sale in North America until January 16. Get it now! We'll have the RetroActive thread next week.

TalkBack / James Jones Presents: The Top 10 Games of the 2010's*
« on: January 07, 2020, 08:53:00 AM »

While everyone else produces unscientific, unsubstantiated, and frankly unprofessional Top 10s, James is here for science.

Never content to just break new ground, James used the start of the 2020's to shatter all ground in sight with his exploration of the most important games of the 2010's. With no Earth left to tread, he is free to apply the most scientific metric available to assess which games are the most impact, important, and best of the previous 10 years.

So settle in, as best is possible in this post-ground reality, and prepare for the most educational 16 minutes in YouTube history.

* [Insert asterisk here]

TalkBack / Tokyo Dark: Remembrance Review
« on: December 08, 2019, 10:23:02 AM »

It’s always dark in the Tokyo underground, especially if you’re talking to a murderous ghost.

Tokyo Dark caught my eye a couple years ago. Promotional art showing off the game’s protagonist, Tokyo PD Detective Ayami Itō, put a feminine spin on the “ruffled detective” trope, while also setting her against a foreboding city skyline. Cherrymochi’s Kickstarter campaign promised a point-and-click set in the “darker underbelly of Tokyo,” where Detective Itō was disturbed by her encounter with the paranormal. A couple of years hence, I finally got to play Tokyo Dark: Remembrance on Switch and while it delivers on that promise, I wasn’t as engaged as I had hoped.

Detective Itō’s life as one of the top detectives is upended when she and her professional and romantic partner, Detective Kazuki Tanaka, respond to a hostage situation. There she confronts the occult for the first time, and as a consequence takes the suspect’s life. The repercussions of her actions would cost her: her career, her sanity, and Tanaka his life. Tokyo Dark is the story of Itō’s quest to figure out what darkness is driving her mad, figure out why those who should be dead seem to be calling to her, and hopefully somehow be reunited with Tanaka.

The plot often shifts seamlessly between horror and mystery. Itō may find herself investigating the suspect she knows she killed, only to encounter visions of the deceased’s tortured life. The dead regularly reach beyond the veil to Itō, who despite her career investigating gruesome crimes is mentally unprepared for the darkness that she has to confront. I often found myself as confused as Itō, and given her circumstances that’s what I’d want. The game is deeply foreboding, and the constant intrusions of the paranormal into otherwise normal circumstances are impactful. Ultimately, I found myself concerned about Itō, which is at a minimum a good measure of the writing.

Tokyo Dark also features a number of really fun characters and comedic moments that lighten the mood. There are two cat cafes in Akihabara, but only one has cats; the other features costumed maids who are very dedicated to their roleplay. A very affectionate cat, an actual cat, might actually be my favorite character, and these moments serve to create a sense of place and a good contrast to the dark that Itō is forced to confront. Whenever she has to step back into the real world, these anchors keep the game from being too foreboding.

If it seems like I’ve spent a lot of time talking plot, there’s good reason: the gameplay itself isn’t particularly deep. It bills itself as a point-and-click, but I’d argue it straddles the line between point-and-click and visual novel. Itō is very-literally railroaded from setting to setting, and all interactable items are highlighted. There are a handful of choices that will lead to different endings, some resulting in rather abrupt ends. There is also a system that tracks Itō’s mental state.  As she encounters horrors, her sanity takes a hit, and while taking her antipsychotics will correct it, they put her in a fog that reduces her observation. There are a number of stats being tracked, ranging from her sanity to professionalism, but ultimately I didn’t have to give the system much thought, and the game rarely seems to mention it. I think I took her drugs a couple times and petted a cat once to calm her down.

On my first play I got all the way to the game’s natural conclusion, so I didn’t feel compelled to go back and see alternate routes. This is especially damning, since the Remembrance version is primarily marketed on the inclusion of even more “additional content.” Ultimately, while I like Itō and her story, I didn’t love it. And the rather repetitive gameplay didn’t inspire a desire to re-experience the major plot points to get a new perspective.

While Tokyo Dark sets an appropriately haunting tone, and weaves a competent mystery, it just doesn’t do much else. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but the game would have been much better served to either streamline all the walking about and poking things into a proper visual novel or to add significantly more point-and-click style puzzles. Either option would have produced a more engaging experience, and likely would have seen me go back to see some alternate endings. If you like these kinds of stories, then Tokyo Dark: Remembrance is likely worth a look. I enjoyed my time with it, about 10 hours, and Itō’s quest to find the truth at great personal cost is compelling. That said, if you’re looking for a solid point-and-click, I can’t really recommend it. It’s just too thin on that front.

TalkBack / Re: Remaster of Princess Maker 3 Makes Its Way to Switch
« on: December 08, 2019, 11:22:02 AM »
Wait, what?

Podcast Discussion / Episode 650: Use Steroids, Kids
« on: December 01, 2019, 10:31:38 AM »

If you want to grow-up big, strong, and angry then milk isn't going to cut it.

Short episode, short article.

Jon's unexplained disappearance stretched into a third week. We recorded this epsidoe Thanksgiving evening, so we kept it quite a bit shorter than normal. On the New Business front we left enough time for Guillaume to talk Ring Fit Adventures and James Crypt of the Necrodancer.

The crew even found time for an email, what games are misunderstood by reviewers and the public at large? You can email us here.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 649: French Poetry Slam
« on: November 26, 2019, 03:17:34 PM »
Plans are not settled.

Podcast Discussion / Episode 649: French Poetry Slam
« on: November 24, 2019, 11:22:00 AM »

Remember when you write this piece,
Ensure your words rhyme at least.

James returns to the show,
Joining Greg and Gui this week.
But without Jon's personal glow,
We rely on David Lloyd's technique.

David and Greg both bear Shield
in the latest Switch blockbuster.
Early impressions focus on the "Wild" field,
Pokemon still holds much of its luster.

Exploring The Outer Worlds David discovered
a spiritual-successor from the Fallout creators.
An adventure of capitalist uncovered,
Choices befitting dictators.

Oh my God, this is going to take forever. James, the joke isn't worth it.

Guillaume fixed his Wii U with a transfer,
At the cost of Yoshi's Cookie.
But without a poet's pentameter,
Milkmaid of the Milky Way's rhymes annoy him, G.

This was an awful idea.

Greg's hunting ghosts in a Mansion,
With a coward, a vacuum, and spirit hound.
Luigi's third trip may have expended the series' room for expansion,
But this game's worth it just for his petrified sound.

Okay, that wasn't so bad, what's left? Oh God, it's a bunch of Japanese.

Arcade Archives were a chance for James to find content,
So he loaded the show with Mr. Goemon and Shusse Ozumo sumo.
Both games are pure arcade 80's-style that supplement
Arcade owners bank accounts with simple gameplay and fleecing consumo.

That stanza was a train wreck. That last line didn't even work. I think I wrote myself a bad check, oh no now I'm the jerk.

That's quite enough of that!

Email this week ask us to turn characters into goo and explore how difficulty settings impact enjoyment of a game. You can have your email read too, the address is always the same.

You can find David on The Thirsty Mage. We thank him for joining us.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 648: Les Absents Ont Toujours Tort
« on: November 18, 2019, 05:30:39 PM »

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 643: My Son's Name is Turok
« on: October 16, 2019, 06:44:33 PM »
Regional, lower-tier, and other national leagues do often serve as test beds for rule changes in major sports.

NBA frequently uses the D-League...excuse me the G[atoraide] League to test out possible rule changes. They also do similar test during their annual Summer League for rookies and young players. FIBA basketball uses different rules and the NBA studies how they impact games. NCAA basketball plays exhibitions under different rules - and sometimes real games- before applying them across the organization. Last season a number of games were played with a new 3-point line (further back) and this season it's applied everywhere.

The short-lived AAF had a number of differences in rules from the NFL, largely in pursuit of finding "a better television product." Their semi-official partnership with the NFL seems to have been the origin of some of the ideas, and the NFL monitored their impact on the games played in the aborted first season. Likewise, NFL Europe had some unique rules that the NFL used for testing their impact.

MLB will test changes to rules and equipment in AA-level ball and sometimes in independent minor league ball, a recent example being the weird padded pitcher's hat was introduced into minors first. Baseball rules are different in other markets, especially in Asia, and some of these have been factored into baseball's international governing body for "International rules" baseball.

NHL? Same verse. Minor leagues, preseason, international rules play, etc are all used to test out possible changes to rules and equipment.

Simply put, it's actually super common in major sports for rules to be different in different organizations, different territories, or different levels.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 642: The Fudge Factor
« on: October 11, 2019, 04:19:29 PM »
This episode will never get a TSI  :'(

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 642: The Fudge Factor
« on: October 08, 2019, 07:06:54 PM »

TalkBack / The Blue Coin Cast: Episode 1
« on: September 30, 2019, 02:10:40 AM »

Xander and Brett take a deep dive into one of the most infamous Mario games of all time in a brand new podcast!

Now that Summer is over, it’s time to celebrate just like Nintendo did back in 2002 with the release of Super Mario Sunshine, on The Blue Coin Cast! Join co-hosts, Xander Morningstar, Brett Posner-Ferdman and guest, James Jones, as they reminisce about the luxuries of Isle Delfino, look at old manuals, discuss the highs and lows of the adventure, and the genre moving forward! It seems everyone has a hot take with Super Mario Sunshine, so if you have something to say, share a comment down below and you could earn your Blue Coin on the list!

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