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Episode 382: The Gerenicity

by James Jones, Jon Lindemann, Jonathan Metts, and Guillaume Veillette - May 11, 2014, 6:03 pm PDT
Total comments: 24

The gang is back with brand new Nintendo games, Dark Souls 2, the Tomodachi controversy, and your emails!

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James kicks off this episode with extended thoughts on Stick It to the Man, a bizarre comedy-adventure out now on Wii U and several other platforms. Guillaume checks out Kirby Triple Deluxe for 3DS and learns that it's... a lot like other Kirby games. He also shares final thoughts and a weighted recommendation for Child of Light. Feeling inspired by our recent discussions of Mario sports games, Jon checks out the classic Mario Tennis for Game Boy Color (thanks to Virtual Console). Jonny celebrates the announcement of a Metroid-style sequel to Stealth Inc. (on Wii U, no less!) by trying the first game on his Vita. He also tries Dark Souls 2 --after many, many suggestions by RFN listeners-- and finds much to enjoy, amid all the frustration and curse-filled rage.

We have a great selection of Listener Mail this week, starting with a past-blast as we're asked to follow up on a comment made on the show in 2010 about how Wii games would hold up, graphically speaking, years later. It expands into a larger discussion of why some games look great forever, while others are hard to revisit -- and which generations struggled the most with it. Next up is a timely question about diverse characters and stories in Nintendo games, which gave us a perfect chance to recap and discuss the very fluid Tomodachi Life controversy. Keep in mind that we recorded this before Nintendo of America's updated comments! These topics ate up most of our time, but we fit in one more question about the impact of stereoscopic 3D displays on free-roaming 3D platformers. Yeah, it's a bit confusing.

We've got more catching up to do for Listener Mail in the coming weeks, and there's been a surprising amount of news considering it's pre-E3 season, so please continue to let us know what you think and suggest topics for the show! Until next time, you can also hear more from Guillaume on the Purpose Rockstar podcast, as well as Jonny and Karl freaking out over the energetic vocals of Otis Redding on a new episode of Discover Music Project.

This podcast was edited by Guillaume Veillette.

Music for this episode of Radio Free Nintendo is used with permission from Jason Ricci & New Blood. You can purchase their newest album, Done with the Devil, directly from the record label, Amazon (CD) (MP3), or iTunes, or call your local record store and ask for it!

Additional music for this episode of Radio Free Nintendo is copyrighted to Nintendo and is included under fair use protection.

Talkback

RodrigueMay 12, 2014

Homosexuals are treated very well in video games all things considered, I would even say moreso than non-Caucasian ethnicities. There are many minority groups that are not represented at all, and no one cares about them, especially not the homosexuals screaming murder at Tomodachi Collection.

To call Nintendo homophobic or whatever due to not making it possible to be gay in your random relationships in a kiddy game is just making a mountain out of a molehill. I see many people calling it a life simulation game, but I imagine they don't know about how it works, and think it's a Sims clone.

That said, I sure would like to see a game that attempts to include miscellaneous fetishes on top of every orientation in an attempt to satisfy everybody.

It's interesting to hear the RFN crew tackle something as contentious as LGBT & minority representation in video games.  I largely agree with Guillaume that I don't trust the current writing talents to make any attempt to make a nuanced gay character that isn't a bad stereotype. 


I watched one of the Tropes v. Video Games videos on youtube, and while I think there are conclusions stretched quite a few times in the video, there was one statement that rung true to me: the wish for developed characters that just so happen to be women, not characters whose defining trait was the fact that they were a woman.  I imagine gay/transgendered people would hope for the same treatment of characters that represent them in media. 

Quote from: Rodrigue

To call Nintendo homophobic or whatever due to not making it possible to be gay in your random relationships in a kiddy game is just making a mountain out of a molehill. I see many people calling it a life simulation game, but I imagine they don't know about how it works, and think it's a Sims clone.

That said, I sure would like to see a game that attempts to include miscellaneous fetishes on top of every orientation in an attempt to satisfy everybody.

Have people been really calling Nintendo homophobic over this?  I haven't been keenly following this, but while I wouldn't be surprised over the internet making these claims, I would be disappointed if video game journalists did the same. 


I'l repeat my stance, from the talkback thread - Nintendo should just not include a gender option in these games, then it wouldn't matter what kind of character you enter a relationship with.

RodrigueMay 12, 2014

Most respected video game bloggers know better than to make claims like this, but yes, part of the people who turned this into a big deal to begin with are acting like Nintendo is homophobic/discriminatory. I brought up how Japanese people portray themselves as Caucasian in media, and apparently that means they're discriminating against themselves too and have a wrong culture.

That's what I gathered from Reddit's r/games subreddit.

Quote from: Rodrigue

Most respected video game bloggers know better than to make claims like this, but yes, part of the people who turned this into a big deal to begin with are acting like Nintendo is homophobic/discriminatory. I brought up how Japanese people portray themselves as Caucasian in media, and apparently that means they're discriminating against themselves too and have a wrong culture.

That's what I gathered from Reddit's r/games subreddit.


Reddit's r/games userbase is horrible, and their views & opinions are ridiculous.  Doesn't surprise me that they'd made statements like that.

My goals when I selected that email for the show were to treat it seriously, keep a tight context of video games, and avoid any comments based more on political ideology than on simple reason. I felt good about how it went at the time, but in anxious to hear how it sounds a second time, especially after Guillaume sanding off the burrs.

Quote from: Rodrigue

To call Nintendo homophobic or whatever due to not making it possible to be gay in your random relationships in a kiddy game is just making a mountain out of a molehill. I see many people calling it a life simulation game, but I imagine they don't know about how it works, and think it's a Sims clone.

That said, I sure would like to see a game that attempts to include miscellaneous fetishes on top of every orientation in an attempt to satisfy everybody.

No need to bring up sexual fetishes as Tomodachi Life has nothing sexual in it. Clearly, you see gay relationships as purely sexual stuff, but gay relationships can be everything heterosexual relationships can be. Just like "this is my girlfriend" doesn't simply mean "this is the person I ****" for a heterosexual man, so it is for a gay person.


If it were just sexual, then gay marriage wouldn't be a thing in the first place.


Gay relationships have therefore as much business being in a "kiddy" relationship game as the heterosexual relationships that are already in it.

CrimsonSpyroMay 12, 2014

Thank you Johnny for your tasteful handling of this issue and thank you for not making this a political issue. I have heard other video game podcast that get into ugly politics.


Both sides need to remain calm and try to find what makes sense for the future. The hateful comments towards nintendo and people that disagree with the miiquality agenda needs to stop. There will always be immature people on the internet but sinking to their level does nothing but inflame more anger from both sides.


I don't look to video games to see what the black experience or the gay experience is like. Mario's color doesn't matter. However TT's walking dead is a great example of a strong black character. The character could have been white and it wouldn't have changed the story but TT made a choice and it paid off well.


CrimsonSpyroMay 12, 2014

Quote from: lolmonade

It's interesting to hear the RFN crew tackle something as contentious as LGBT & minority representation in video games.  I largely agree with Guillaume that I don't trust the current writing talents to make any attempt to make a nuanced gay character that isn't a bad stereotype. 


I watched one of the Tropes v. Video Games videos on youtube, and while I think there are conclusions stretched quite a few times in the video, there was one statement that rung true to me: the wish for developed characters that just so happen to be women, not characters whose defining trait was the fact that they were a woman.  I imagine gay/transgendered people would hope for the same treatment of characters that represent them in media. 

Quote from: Rodrigue

To call Nintendo homophobic or whatever due to not making it possible to be gay in your random relationships in a kiddy game is just making a mountain out of a molehill. I see many people calling it a life simulation game, but I imagine they don't know about how it works, and think it's a Sims clone.

That said, I sure would like to see a game that attempts to include miscellaneous fetishes on top of every orientation in an attempt to satisfy everybody.

Have people been really calling Nintendo homophobic over this?  I haven't been keenly following this, but while I wouldn't be surprised over the internet making these claims, I would be disappointed if video game journalists did the same. 


I'l repeat my stance, from the talkback thread - Nintendo should just not include a gender option in these games, then it wouldn't matter what kind of character you enter a relationship with.

Is the future of nintendo caving to political correctness and just not releasing games like this in the future?

Quote from: CrimsonSpyro

Quote from: lolmonade

It's interesting to hear the RFN crew tackle something as contentious as LGBT & minority representation in video games.  I largely agree with Guillaume that I don't trust the current writing talents to make any attempt to make a nuanced gay character that isn't a bad stereotype. 

I watched one of the Tropes v. Video Games videos on youtube, and while I think there are conclusions stretched quite a few times in the video, there was one statement that rung true to me: the wish for developed characters that just so happen to be women, not characters whose defining trait was the fact that they were a woman.  I imagine gay/transgendered people would hope for the same treatment of characters that represent them in media. 

Quote from: Rodrigue

To call Nintendo homophobic or whatever due to not making it possible to be gay in your random relationships in a kiddy game is just making a mountain out of a molehill. I see many people calling it a life simulation game, but I imagine they don't know about how it works, and think it's a Sims clone.

That said, I sure would like to see a game that attempts to include miscellaneous fetishes on top of every orientation in an attempt to satisfy everybody.

Have people been really calling Nintendo homophobic over this?  I haven't been keenly following this, but while I wouldn't be surprised over the internet making these claims, I would be disappointed if video game journalists did the same. 

I'l repeat my stance, from the talkback thread - Nintendo should just not include a gender option in these games, then it wouldn't matter what kind of character you enter a relationship with.

Is the future of nintendo caving to political correctness and just not releasing games like this in the future?


I'll try to tread lightly, because I 1) don't want to be misinterpreted, and 2) don't want to get in trouble for talking politics in the forums.

How is this caving to political correctness?  I sincerely doubt Nintendo did this out of anything other than to quell a potential fan outcry and stem the tide of negative gaming press.  If anyone thinks they were taking any sort of moral stance by not including same-sex relationships in this game, and then back-tracked because of political pressure, then I think they are giving Nintendo more credit than they deserve in terms of their political awareness.

Overall, I think Nintendo handled the issue well-enough.  That said, I'm not one to play games that have any real relationship simulators, so this type of issue usually flies under my radar.

I think this issue is interesting in the sense that it's an indicator that the definition of family is slowly changing, in North America at least, and Nintendo is now fully aware that it needs to be cognizant of that.

SorenMay 12, 2014

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

My goals when I selected that email for the show were to treat it seriously, keep a tight context of video games, and avoid any comments based more on political ideology than on simple reason. I felt good about how it went at the time, but in anxious to hear how it sounds a second time, especially after Guillaume sanding off the burrs.

Quote from: Pandareus

Gay relationships have therefore as much business being in a "kiddy" relationship game as the heterosexual relationships that are already in it.

Quote from: NWR_Lindy

I think this issue is interesting in the sense that it's an indicator that the definition of family is slowly changing, in North America at least, and Nintendo is now fully aware that it needs to be cognizant of that.

I want to thank you guys for the excellent discussion. I skipped forward to it and I have to say it was some of the best banter I've heard on the podcast.


Coincidentally, last weekend also saw the release of results on the first large-scale style study conducted on Japanese LGBT students' school life. (http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/05/08/national/lgbt-bullying-rife-in-schools-survey/#.U3GXT61dXlc) Predictably the results aren't good.But the idea that awareness is finally starting to trickle out in Japan can only bode well for future inclusive practices by companies like Nintendo, without putting subsidiaries like NOA in a difficult position.

azekeMay 12, 2014

News about Stealth Inc 2 becoming a big interconnected world is a great news. Toki Tori 2 also embraced metroidvania map and was hundred times better than first game.

I played first game a bit when it was still called Stealth Bastard and was freeware. It's very similar to Mark of the Ninja.

azekeMay 12, 2014

If Dark Souls is anything to go by, Souls games are not that hard, it's more of a slog rather than actual skill measurement tool (it's just CAN'T be, seeing how popular it became).

You do a thing, then do the thing again for hundred times, then do it yet another 10 thousand times. And then you do a level up, and see your stats grow for one point. And then start doing another thing for millions times.

azekeMay 12, 2014

I must disagree with notion that Xenoblade will look great forever.

It looked bad even when it came out with all those jaggies and PS1-quality models. And i usually never have any trouble with that because i play old games way more often than modern games, but i remember that it really bothered me in 20 minutes of me playing the game.

You don't even have a questionable advantage of SD TVs smoothing out everything (like in say Super Mario Galaxy) because like a several late Wii games, Xenoblade only runs in widescreen mode and letterboxes when run in SD mode which makes it almost unplayable because you can't see anything.

You can't see the forest for the trees. Xenoblade has some ugly elements (so do Super Mario Galaxy and Wind Waker), but its primary aesthetic features, especially the wide open world design and deliberate focus on mixed scales, will make the game impressive for many years to come. These are artistic elements that can't be mass- produced by the next generation of game engines.

I'm going to say, that games are always going to be a product of the mores of the society that develops them. I don't want to see Japanese games be any less Japanese out of concern for offending sensibilities of other markets. At the same time, there needs to be - and there is - an understanding that it affects the viability of a product outside of the home market.


To that end, Nintendo should have anticipated some degree of pushback on the Tomodachi Life. At the same time, that is a tremendously Japanese game, and if you had asked me after first viewing "Will this game allow gay relations," I'd have paused and concluded "Oh, no way. I mean they didn't even de-Japaneseing the title." At the same time, I DIDN'T think about if this would include gay relationships, despite being able to reach the previous conclusion. So, I don't view this as malice.


I'm not going to view this incident as some grand condemnation of Japanese society, or even the Japanese gaming industry. It's not my place. I can comment on the stupidity of Nintendo in releasing this game without a plan for dealing with this seemingly obvious question in cultures where same sex relationships are more in the forefront of society.


It's an application of Hanlon's razor - "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

azekeMay 12, 2014

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

You can't see the forest for the trees.

Oh definitely. As i said i barely spent 20 minutes into it. And i AM looking forward to starting it someday.

Still, i find these these troublesome technical "trees" are way more obstructing with Xenoblade for me compared to SMG or WW, which i honestly can't find any visual flaws in. I started to play both games on old CRT tv and then switched to HD and they looked absoultely gorgeous. Also, this very well might be my overall preference for more cartoony inspired artstyles of both Mario and Wind Waker rather than anime/JRPG look that Xenoblade tries.

broodwarsMay 12, 2014

Umm...Lindy? You DO realize that The Last of Us does have an openly gay character in it, right? He's Bill, the crazy guy holed up in that 1st town you go to that set up all those traps? There are a few allusions to it in a joke later on about his magazines, but the character is played completely straight (so to speak).

Sal ParadiseMay 13, 2014

Jonny's talk about Dark Souls 2 was as fair as I expected from him (especially compared to the recent Gamespot "review") and it was interesting to listen to his opinions, but I still strongly disagree that it's such a difficult game - it's just challenging. The rest is the casual media and the publisher searching for a way to sell the fanbase the game.

It's not typicall trial & error either. You just have to learn the basic combat and gain some experience by fighting a few regular enemies and bosses. The knowledge you've gained from that will help you through the whole game... roll or circle around them, dodge/block a lot, maybe guard break and stab... and if you really can't beat a boss - summon other players. Also, try to run through enemies on the way to the boss - it's possible in most cases, pull them seperately with arrows, or cheese them completely - the game offers multiple ways to succeed. Just stop telling yourself over and over that it's impossible and oh so difficult and everything will be fine/fun.

I'm not the world's best gamer at all, and I'm currently playing Tropical Freeze & failing pretty hard. Those minecart levels are what I consider trial & error, especially in the first DKCR. In many cases you can't react fast enough and you have to memorize the level - in Dark Souls, most of the time you have enough space to at least run away. Games like Metal Gear Rising I had lots of problems with, until I finally could beat it, but somehow I still made it through every game in Souls series, without "trying over and over". Sure, you die a lot, but you do so in every game (except Kirby maybe - hi Gui! :)). I died tons of times in Skyrim for example, because the combat was awful and broken as shit, especially compared to Dark Souls.

Speaking of Skyrim, what you don't get in the Souls series is the typicall "quest arrow" and endless tutorials of course, but everyone is sick of them anyway, right? At least us Zelda fans. Similar to Jonny, I play the Souls games cause of the mystic world that reminds me of early Zelda or Castlevania, exploring the different areas, and later on the PVP, and not because it's so "ultra hard". But it's just how the game is and I have no problems with it, cause back in the NES days we didn't really have a problem with that either and it actually added to the experience. Finally reaching a new area after a great boss fight was way more fun than just wander into it with no challenge at all. 

Dark Souls 2 isn't perfect, especially compared to the first game, which was a masterpiece, but it's definitely the most accessable game of the series. I could go on about how it wasn't the original team who made it, how PVP is having huge balance issues, and how the original Dark Souls was actually much fairer and better thought through when it comes to enemy placements, the lore, how the world is connected, the bosses etc , but it's still the best Souls game for a beginner and most likely my GOTY. So, I'm very glad Jonny gave it a shot, cause otherwise he would have missed on a great series. :)

One more thing - it sounded like James was using an old unpatched version of Dark Souls 1. He talked about being cursed and his HP being halved each time. Back when he played it there was already a patch that made this impossible. You could only lose half of your health, and if you got cursed again, you would just die without losing more HP. Also, the item to get rid of it wasn't "so far away", it would have been roughly at the beginning of the area in which he probably got cursed. Some shopkeeper lady sells it. So the save wasn't lost at all. Just saying. Wish I would have been online back then and beat the ****** Dragon for you, James! It would have been a pleasure!  :P:

Xenoblade's character design was never the best, but the world looks amazing and will always look amazing. Next to Dark Souls 1, it's the game of the generation for me. That ending though, that ending!

Pretty much agree with Lindy on the Tomadachi discussion and have nothing add, except that Dark Souls 2 has a sex change casket! ;)

azekeMay 13, 2014

Quote from: Sal

I'm not the world's best gamer at all, and I'm currently playing Tropical Freeze & failing pretty hard. Those minecart levels are what I consider trial & error, especially in the first DKCR. In many cases you can't react fast enough and you have to memorize the level - in Dark Souls, most of the time you have enough space to at least run away. Games like Metal Gear Rising I had lots of problems with, until I finally could beat it, but somehow I still made it through every game in Souls series, without "trying over and over".

I have a creeping suspicion that HDTVs (and maybe wireless controllers) have majorly killed fast action games simply because they impose such a significant lag time between your action and when it's actually gonna be reflected on TV, game designers simply can't afford to operate on timings shorter than say, half a second.

This impediment severely mutilates action unless gamer knowingly prepares to fight against it. Game designer is trapped between knowing that significant part of potential audience that simply has no technical chance to react to event that happens too fast and a his wish to enhance gamer's experience by adding gameplay elements that pay off ONLY on ultra precise timings.

Maybe this is the secret of Souls games' success. These games are slow.

ClexYoshiMay 13, 2014

Oh -GOODNESS-, this episode was probably the best one in the past few months and I have -SO- much to say here, just as the numerous commenters who already said their piece have.


First of all, I would like to thank Mr. James Jones for adding Gerenicity to my vocabulary. I didn't read the episode title and listened and I'm like, "Why didn't they use that for the episode title?" and then I looked and you totally did. <3

I am A friggin' OK with Kirby Triple Deluxe being an extension of what I feel is this rennisance in Kirby Super Star feeling Kirby games.  It feels like you could naturally append Return to Dreamland and Triple Deluxe to Superstar if they were sprite based and maybe shorter, and I'm all for that. Also, there's a King Dedede mode. <3 Still kinda want them to do a Mega man styled Fulmination of Milky Way Wishes or a game that is like a combination of the Meta Knightmare mode in Nightmare to Dreamland and Helper to Hero from KSSU where you could just do a time trial through the whole game with a solo copy power. Hell, why not have that in an NES Remix game! @_@;;

I actually took a 2 week vacation to Evans Colorado where I stayed with my friend and watched him play through pretty much the entirety of Dark SOuls 2. I have the original game that I actually recently got with spare birthday gift cards and am loving. Johnny's discussion of the game is pretty great, where it's an exercise  in perseverance more than anything. I feel in this way it mirrors Both Classic and Modern Castlevania where you do have rigid attacks with wind-up animations and often times the enemy placement is such that it makes you try and approach it in a different manner... of course, you also have about a billion options as to -HOW- you approach each situation because of the gross amount of loot, weapons, consumables, and armors that resist various stuff you have. You also have that non-linearity where you don't have to beat your head against the wall constantly. As a matter of fact, to tie this into my Classic/Metroid Castlevania argument, you know what Dark Souls -REALLY- feels like to me? La Mulana. whereas La Mulana's brick walls come in the form of puzzles and maybe the bosses, it's still got a similar progression where things branch out and interconnect in weird ways, and you're always looking for that Grail Point/Bonfire and re-exploring rooms and getting used to what you have to do to get through them and extend your time you can spend doing such exploration.

I had Mario Tennis for GBC. I remember liking it before my asshole friends nicked it and pawned it. yeah. ._.;;



The listener Mail here was super duper juicy. I'm with Gui as far as the 64-bit graphics discussion goes. A lot of my favorite polygonal games from that era are actually Arcade stuff like Sega Rally, DAYTONAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA USA, and perhaps things like Time Crisis and what-not. this is partially due to cars looking better with the blocky modeling, but more importantly, the games moved silky smooth and still in a way bring me a sense of wonder. Also some of the engrish going on int hem, but that's decidedly less important.

As for Wii games looking bad? eh. I honestly don't mind unless you're like... the Wii port of Far Cry that looked like it was friggin' Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. There will be plenty of Wii games that stand the test of time like a Boy and His Blob, Muramasa, SUper Mario Galaxy, Mad World, etc.


and then there's the LGBT discussion. this is a MASSIVE can of worms you've opened, but for my discussion on this topic, I would actually like to turn to Popular youtube channel, the Game Theorists. Particularly, Matpat and his game theory videos, which are all little food for thought pieces like theories on the weighted companion cube having dead people inside them or a thesis on how the 5 major acts of Majora's Mask reprisent the 5 stages of grief one goes through when trying to accept death into their life...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdmJXHJLZ6M

Matpat had recently been working with a fellow named Jerard Khalil on a Final Fantasy 7 video compilation talking about that game's themes of loss of identity when he decided he'd do a video about the very bizzare scene in Wall Market where Cloud has to dress in drag to infiltrate Don Corneo's bordello, and... well, then he started looking into the way Homosexual and Transgender characters are treated in gaming, and... he found lots of disturbing trends. and for every Vivian or Kanji from Persona 4, we have a at least a dozen portrayals like Birdo, Flea From Chrono Trigger, or Thomas Maclaine from Deadly Premonition.

I also have a follow-up post I'd like to do but I have to interview a few friends about another LGBT related gaming kerfuffle that particularly relates to a particular indie dev.

happyastoriaMay 13, 2014

What?! DS2 is far easier than DS1 and Demon's Souls. This is coming from the guy who couldn't finish Demon's Souls and barely, by sheer luck, completed DS1. Both games are beyond difficult. Quite frankly DS2 is for beginners. It's kind of a disappointment in the difficulty and atmosphere department. DS2's world is boring, nowhere near as Gothic or depressing as the first two games. It's probably the weakest in the series.

ResettisCousinMay 13, 2014

I really didn't agree with most of the host responses during the Tomadachi Life discussion. The most rational step for Nintendo to take with the next iteration would be to remove any romantic elements in the next installment, if there is one. Also, Gui needs to talk more.

They're fairly integral to what this...thing is. Without them there isn't a whole lot to it...so I presume I just bit on satire...shit

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