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Episode 489: Mario Party 9-alism

by James Jones, Greg Leahy, and Guillaume Veillette - August 21, 2016, 12:44 pm PDT
Total comments: 12

Let's just remove any artifice here; everyone gets a million stars and none of it matters.

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Guillaume returns after doing three weeks in prison for his role in an elaborate scheme to install more charm in the world, and apparently this new, prison-hardened Gui scared away Jon Lindemann. One day we'll be whole again, but this isn't it. After a belabored attempt to start the show, James gives up and ejects us into New Business. Guillaume bullied children at Mario Party 9, until an avenger for justice knocked him from his pedestal. He then slinks off to the hilariously-priced 3DS sequel to an Xbox Live Indie Game, Gotta Protectors. The 8-Bit tower defense/kill-em-all hybrid is a lot of fun, and has fantastic music that you can upgrade for a measly fee of $8 US. James is a Tadpole Treble dissenter, so instead he dives into the meta reality-that is a real, fake, MMO set in the far future of 2010 with .hack//Infection for the PS2. Greg wraps up New Business with thoughts on Monster Hunter Generations before "Gettin' Jiggy" with Banjo-Tooie.

After a direly needed break, things continue to fall apart during Listener Mail. A simple question on the future of Rhythm Heaven receives no meaningful answer; a question about video game violence results in James badmouthing all media from the interwar period; and a question about AM2R results in obscenities being thrown at Shigasa-faux Itois. James is pretty much responsible for all of this, and he isn't sorry. You can let James ruin your question by emailing it to us.

If you missed it last week, Greg caught up with former RFN host Dr. Jonathan Metts to see what a year of RFN sobriety has done for him. May we all one day live such a healthy existence. James took the opposite approach, streaming a collection of eShop games, selected by Kusoge Master Daan Koopman and troll friend/fiend of the show Syrenne McNulty. You can watch him slowly lose patience with his guides as they gleefully direct him to ever-worse gameplay experiences.

This episode was edited by Guillaume Veillette. The "Men of Leisure" theme song was produced exclusively for Radio Free Nintendo by Perry Burkum. Hear more at Bluffs Custom Music's SoundCloud. The new Radio Free Nintendo logo was produced by Connor Strickland. See more of his work at his website

This episode's ending music is The Withered Forest from Etrian Odyssey. It was composed by Yuzo Koshiro, and selected by Guillaume. All rights reserved by Atlus Co., Ltd.

Talkback

EnnerAugust 21, 2016

Good show. Nice handling of the E3 question.

I don't think Pokémon Showdown and simulators like that will get taken down - there's been simulators dating back to before the turn of the century, and one's still up for Gen 1. I think since it's not trying to be a full game, it might fall under the same exemptions that you see for things like full-season fantasy sports.

ClexYoshiAugust 22, 2016

yeah, if anything, Showdown is a simulator to run numbers between folks and if anything, a tool that is paramount for people playing the pokemon VGC that isn't y'know... the alternative of just straight-up cheating. a lesser of two evils, so to speak.

Mother 4 is kinda screwed whenever they decide to release, though.

I think Nintendo is giving us a kindness by not shutting down projects until the last possible moment in that the internet at large gets to play the finished product (unlike say... the game that spawned Them's Fightin' herds because of a C&D), but it also speaks to broken copyright law the world over. that needs amendment. Maybe a non-profit fan project license that allows for royalty-free distribution of a fan project under the license and maybe gives the IP holder rights to the assets of the project?


I also want to bring up the other end of the spectrum here and why I DEEPLY hope that Sonic Mania (coming to PS4, XBOne, and PC) ends up being successful venture for Sega, as it would set a precedent of collaboration between talented people making fan games and a license holder being a lucrative venture. Yes, Sega is doing this out of pure desperation to save their brand, but I think that this might create the sort of rapport needed to where a usually combative situation can maybe turn into a collaborative one where a fan game gets a C&D, BUT then things like the folks on the pokemon uranium team get brought in to do Pokemon designs for Gamefreak, or maybe the AM2R guy gets to apply his modified game maker engine to a proper game under Sakamoto's watchful eye or such?


Also, if Gui is poo-pooing on a game  I'vve never heard of, I usually look it up, and... honestly, I like Gauntlet, and Gotta Protectors looks fun, so... Thank you for selling an extra copy of Gotta protectors, Gui!

I said it was fun!

ClexYoshiAugust 22, 2016

Maybe that was James who started taking shots at Gauntlet and by extension Protect Me Knight? I do know you mentioned it was Grindy in a very modern way... which generally tends not to be a compliment.

My apologies if I failed to accurately represent the contents of the episode in a forum post that people most likely won't read until after they listen to the episode.  :P:

The maturity of video game storytelling is something that's been on my mind for a while now.  I can remember when "mature" game meant more Mortal Kombat spilling blood and guts on Genesis more so than a video game covering mature and complex themes in storytelling.


I'm largely in agreement with James regarding how the maturity of the video game industry is what'll eventually propel game storytelling to be more nuanced, complex, and intelligent with character/story progression.  My perception is that the industry is in a bit of "puberty" stage in how it's able to balance gameplay and story and do both well.  My most cherished story experiences have been mostly games where looking back, either there was barely anything constituting gameplay (Telltale games, YES HEAVY RAIN JAMES JONES), there was a specific hook that subverted expectations and changed perception of your motivations (Bioshock), or games where the story is essentially what happens around you as a character in the game, and you're placed as the silent protagonist (Chrono Trigger, Legend of Zelda).  Most of my teenage fondest story memories, while I still get nostalgic about, are wrought with juvenile themes or tropes like amnesiac protagonist (Final Fantasty VII).


Conversely, something like Battlefield doesn't even pretend to have a mature premise outside of violence.  They like the Action movie genre are about the spectacle and experience of being in the action without having a moral imperative towards if something happens to a character in the game.  In a lot of ways, this dehumanizes any avatar on the screen. 


This might get some groans, but the best example of a game series that got anywhere close to having engaging gameplay tagged with a thoughtful, multilayered story and themes is Metal Gear Solid.  Yes Kojima is way too out there with the ridiculous flow chart you need to keep in order to keep track of relations and events, and YES, there's this ridiculous gap between the world that's supposed to be "realistic" and the characters that are larger than life.  That said, it's clear the teams making those games had story intent, the characters had their own individual motivations that for the most part drove the actions they take, and the story dealt heavily in consequences of the past actions that many, many other military based games don't tackle.


I don't know what the solution is, or if there's even a solution to be had.  I'm not even confident James assertion that we'll get to that maturity point that the movie industry has gotten to, because as mentioned, even that industry has a lot of DUMB, or heavy-handed attempts at being "deep".  That said, going to the actual topic of the E3 presentations,  I'm inclined to think even if EA could have pulled the plug on their conference out of "respect" to the victims of the Orlando shooting, it would have been largely catering to a vocal minority of gaming outlets and people who likely aren't even directly impacted by those events, and would have been not much more than self-serving.


LemonadeAugust 23, 2016

It was an interesting discussion about maturity of games.
Im sure some people would disagree, but I think games are better now than ever. I find it hard to go back to pre-gamecube era games. Game design has changed so much since the 90's.

Quote from: Lemonade

It was an interesting discussion about maturity of games.
Im sure some people would disagree, but I think games are better now than ever. I find it hard to go back to pre-gamecube era games. Game design has changed so much since the 90's.

Largely agree. And it's almost inevitable that they are. Forms are polished, and edges rounded out. That is not to say that every game we lost, every genre shelved, is done so because something better replaced it. It's possible it was replaced by something more polished, something more accessible to general audiences, or just something easier to produce.


The old image macro of the map of a 3D Realms shooter compared to a modern FPS is kind of the gold standard here. The reason the twists and turns of mazes were replaced with linear hallways was in the service of all three of the above. Removing key-hunts makes the game more approachable. Knowing all the paths the player will take allows for more hand-built encounters/events, and trying to build sprawling levels on modern platforms would be both resource and cost expensive.


BUT - the slimmer, shinier, shooters of modern gaming don't universally find acceptance - but they do at a good enough clip that they're worth outlaying the money.


There's a movie paradigm where a studio will release their next $100m project, and it just bombs (sup, Ben Hur remake). Would the studio have been better served dividing that money up 10 ways and making a bunch of much smaller risk films? Maybe, that's largely why imprints like Fox Searchlight exist. They produce a small number of decently successful films on the "relatively" cheap. We used to have this in the games industry - right down to the multiple imprints under one publisher. With the increased costs and arrival of mobile games that's largely dropped out of the publisher system, and has instead been ceded to the indie space. But, to be clear, these games still exist. It isn't as if EA and Ubisoft show nothing but the shoot-bangs, but even if they did it would be not because they aren't making other stuff, but because the audience that watches E3 cares about the shoot bangs. At some point that's just a matter of not throwing good money after bad.

LemonadeAugust 23, 2016

Quote from: Crimm

The old image macro of the map of a 3D Realms shooter compared to a modern FPS is kind of the gold standard here.

I actually played through Duke Nukem Forever for the first time just recently. It felt like a much older game than it really is. I guess 10+ years in development hell will do that to a game.
Its kind of funny just to compare it to Halo Reach, which came out the year before and is a much better game.

lol at my new title.

SorenAugust 24, 2016

Quote from: Crimm

It isn't as if EA and Ubisoft show nothing but the shoot-bangs, but even if they did it would be not because they aren't making other stuff, but because the audience that watches E3 cares about the shoot bangs. At some point that's just a matter of not throwing good money after bad.

Agreed to a point. Yes, a certain demographic lusts over E3 week, but it also attracts the mainstream press and what they end up writing about will have a broader reach. If Sony dedicates 90% of their presser to shooters and leaves other games to a token sizzle reel that eventually reaches a bigger audience than E3 enthusiasts. It's the Sonic cycle...

pokepal148August 25, 2016

So where else can I find the James Jones fun for all stream. The link to twitch isn't working.

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