Music of the Month; Bolero

The music choice for this month was based first on the idea of “open world” game, and of course the first game I thought was The Legend of Zelda. Then I remembered that just using the opening theme with the text scroll is overused, so I took the song that served as the core inspiration, even though I associate Digimon with it a lot more.

Anyway, I’ve got nothing planned for the month.  February went by in mindless certification trainings and yours truly being sick, so you can imagine that I’ve amassed some unhealthy amount of unfinished business on my back. This month’s mecha post is completely open, it’s either going to be a TSF comparison or continuing with transformable mechas (to be honest, I sorta semi-decided that shape changing robots would be the prevailing theme) and at least I know what the hell I’m going to review rather than backing on something I found rather mindless, even when I had promised to review that particular item some time back. You can actually go back a post and read all about the whole review schtick I’ve laid down. I admit, that whole intro was to fill in the post if it ran short, but it went just slightly over the word limit. Oh the humanity and all that. Now that I mentioned reviews, I might make this month’s earlier than normal so I can carry the first impressions into the text.

With nothing planned, I’ll use this change to indulge myself a bit.

The Nintendo Switch hits store shelves today. The first 9th generation console, and the first pure hybrid console that has nothing to fear in the portable market side. Nintendo is in a position to rule the handheld market as they please with no competitors in sight, and that worries a bit. Considering how competition drives people, especially if you want to make money on your creations, the lack any rivalling handheld should be taken with serious concerns. The Vita’s dead in water and SONY’s more or less killed it. Smart phones and tablets compete in a different market altogether.

Of course, with something new coming over, stupid people will gawk and take shots at others for whatever unfathomable reasons. Vice’s Motherboard has a writing titles Nintendo Switch Is a Console for Human, Not Gamers is as stupid as it sounds. Putting aside the fact that these people don’t consider their fellow human to be in the same league as them, I’m astonished how stupid they are at the reaction of a person enjoying a video game. How is that a person, whom they call to be the most unqualified to review a console, nails the points that most so-called game journalists manage to miss? The worst (best?) thing in the whole article is them first saying specs don’t matter, and then the writers end up in the same gutter all others do; the specs aren’t high enough, it won’t have games.

Whether or not a console will have games is really two-fold; is the installation base large enough, and how will the first party company expand that audience? Nintendo has always been in the position to set the initial consumer base with Mario and Zelda. With the DS they had Brain Age and Wii had Wii Sports. All these titles drew in people outside the usual competition area AAA developers don’t step outside of, and when you have a console of around tent titles that sell well, third-party developers can develop and publish their games to a larger market. Or they would, of companies would compete with each other properly. Take it this way; the competition between the Xbone and PS4 is rather negligeable, as both consoles have largely the same library. The Wii U had a terrible library with low quality titles and didn’t manage to gain a large consumer base. The Wii was the opposite, the anti-Wii U with incredibly high installation base and high quality games from Nintendo (until they dropped the ball mid-way through.)

Anyway, it still rubs me the wrong way to think a gamer is not a human being. In reality, the person who said he can’t put Switch down is a gamer. There are not arbitrary rules to be one or not. You just gotta like ’em and play games, whatever it may be. Then again, this is probably the same people who took part in the Gamers are dead collusion. Switch carts tasting bad is also not proper journalism and anyone who took part in this should be treated like spoiled brats.

Do I want to rant about games and politics? Not really, but I’ll say this; games can be as political as the developer intends. They’ll just have to face low sales then, because most people want to experience the fantastic, not the banal. One Angry Gamer has an article up, comparing and contrasting how Nier: Automata and Horizon Zero Dawn handle very similar premises, but the other one just shoves a view down your throat. Hint; it’s not Nier: Automata.

And then there’s the new Ducktales. You may not know this, but I’ve always been huge as hell Donald Duck fan. Carl Barks’ and Don Rosa’s works are some of my favourite comics of all time, and the original Ducktales falls into this slot as well. Hell, I even liked Quack pack. But what’s to say about this particular show? I appreciate their aim to replicate Carl Barks’ style, but I must admit it feels too modern in the sense that the style and designs were chosen to fit the modern era of cartoons, which hasn’t really aged all that well. Something slightly more grounded and classic would’ve served the new Ducktales better. This is, of course, a personal preference. I still hope they’ll employ WayForward to develop a2D game based on the show and make their previous Ducktales remake obsolete.

I was once asked what’s up with my drive to make old things obsolete. I answered that I love old things, and thus I want new things to be even better.

Monthly Three: Of remakes and remasters

The difference between remakes and remasters to some is cosmetic or about marketing terms, but when you look at the examples, there’s a bit more to them. A remake is based on a previous work, a new piece of product that recreates the original piece somehow. Another meaning of course is that something is taken and remade anew, like reconstructing a knife. Remaster on the other hand is completely tied to the original piece, like video or audio, and then improved on it somehow. For example, the recent Fight!! Iczer-1 Blu-Ray release was a good one, containing a properly digitally remastered version of the original.

NES remaster

Unlike what the package says, Ducktales Remastered is a remake. Nothing really is taking from the original game outside the overall stage designs. The musics have been remade, the graphics are remade and so on. If WayForward had remastered Ducktales, the two screenshots would look the same, except the resolution of the remaster would be higher. Digital things are pretty neat in that way that in principle as long as you have the source code and assets, it should be relatively easy to adapt those to a new machine. This is essentially doing a higher resolution ports, but I’m leaving HD “remakes” for next week.

Remasters on the other hand would look something like this.

dvd_28_09.57.35] screenshot016

The first one is from the Anime Works DVD, the second being the recent BD release. The difference is rather staggering, with higher definition bringing the line work out much more and showing more detail in form of dust specks and the like. For more colour, check the examples for these two stitches, first being from the DVD, the second being from the BD.

A remaster can bring new life and vibrant dimensions to a product that didn’t really have it before. An original master may have all the elements in there, but for whatever reason it could not be put into use. The LP-records  could not contain as much data as the compact cassette could, just as the compact cassette couldn’t hold as much data as the CD could. A CD on the other hand lost its place to digital sound formats that can, in principle, be as large as one wants them to be, even to obscene amounts.

While having as pristine version of something is desirable, the fact is that at some point there is no point of trying get any higher version of that piece. It could be even argued that the screenshots of Iczer-1 above is too highly defined, as it was never intended to be seen at that resolution. That goes for anything in audio and visual department, as in case of Star Trek, sixty years of development in television technology show every bit of those sets, costumes, double actors and the like, which were never visible before thanks to the lower standard definitions. This can have a largely negative effect on the piece from some, as they will point out and laugh at how cheap some of the things look nowadays. Can’t really fault them for using the best technology they had available at the time, which would be a good thing to keep in mind.

Another thing that pops up from this is that now that we can see absolutely everything, we can enjoy and even research the way some of those sets Trek used were made and so on. In animation we can admire all the fine lines and colours that were put in there by the animators and painters, things that we didn’t see before because of the lower definitions.

The necessity of remakes can be questioned, as in film their quality has been largely dubious. From making remakes cult flicks like Nightmare on Elm Street to remaking television series like Charlie’s Angels and Kamen Rider (The First is an atrocious movie with great suits), none of these really all the well received. The idea is solid; take an existing franchise and update it to a modern audience with modern techniques and technologies. However, rarely these remakes are made for the benefit of product and aim for pure nostalgia grabs instead. Very few remakes stand against the originals because of this, like the 1982 The Thing against 1951’s Who Goes There?, and 1986’s The Fly against its 1958 counterpart.

It’s often argued that remakes miss the point of the originals, and that the excess use of CGI elements do not stand up to the originals’ practical effects when it comes to films. Simply put it, it can’t hold the candle in direct comparison. This can be up to opinion to some extent, but it is true that CGI ages faster than practical, so take that as you will.

Maybe the most pressing argument against remakes is that they do not add anything new to table. While everything we produce nowadays is more or less a remade variation of pre-existing myths, stories and legends, exact remakes in and out of entertainment media don’t even try to create a basis for something new or expand into region less explored. An example of starting with a similar core idea and making it its own piece could be made in comparison between Star Trek and seaQuest DSV. On the surface, the both shows have similarities with their missions and overall idea of a top of the line ship send to the unknown for exploration and research. Yet, both shows stand apart from each other because of their themes and how they were handled, adding something to the cultural view in ways that a simple film remake never could.

I would wager that the bottom line is that some expect a remake to simply remake an original piece for the modern era, while some expect a remake to stand on its own two legs and be something more. There is a golden middle way, but not many seem to be willing to take it.

Why the hell would you want to spoil your own game?

Invisible walls you say? It’s not like anyone wanted to find that out while playing the game, thus having a fulfilling game experience, right? Good job at spoiling the stage you dumbasses. Why would you go and tell the players that hey this stage has secrets and this is how you access them? It’s like Citizen Kane having a trailer that explains what Rosebud means, or Planet of the Apes telling you that it was Earth all along.

All the money that went to make this game could’ve been used to make completely new game, Ducktales or not. Imagine if they would have made Ducktales 3 instead. New stages, new music, new stages, new bosses, new everything but still the same awesome core.  But no, we can’t have nice things.

Ducktales; old Vs new stone

The first minutes in each stage seems to be blah blah blah rather than playing games. The reason the video cuts so fast to the Remastered version is not to focus on it, rather it’s to show the plot! it has going for while pausing the NES game. The worst offender here is the new coin bits, where the game just halts until the dialogue has been delivered. There is no reason for these bits to be in there. These same coin descriptions should be at the end of each stage, or perhaps in the item description screen somewhere between the stages. Halting your action for things like this is not good game design. The inclusion of mode hidden treasure is neat, but I also wish that all the stages have been expanded accordingly at least 30%. If not, the only reason this game is longer than the original is because there’s more talking and less action.

Well, setting the completely unnecessary blabbering in the stages, this video gives a bit more insight on how the stages have been remastered, and the jungle looks a bit boring. First, the lush forest looks decent, good even, but the brown stones that come soon enough into the scene is just off. It doesn’t look good. It’s drab boring brown that doesn’t work for the lush forest. Why not go for the extra mile and make it looks like proper bedrock stone. Or even better, if it’s Incan treasure they’re looking for, the stone colour they could have there could look like your generic stone looks like in Peru. And you know what, even if the stone is very brownish in Peru, you could use a sort of patter for it, like what the Stonewalls of Cuzco looks like. You have those Incan stone tablets laying in the jungle, so why not go the extra mile rather than use huge, almost empty blocks of colours with slight cracks?  The NES version, while using (arguably) duller grey, the stones look far more interesting and natural due to the design of them. That, and the entrance to underground has that nice green hue to indicate that there’s something of interest in there. In both versions the entrance is clearly visible, but Remastered doesn’t invite you in, not even with the added pylons.

Speaking of the underground, it looks neat. The NES had it’s limitations, but I’m glad to see that the Remastered manages to pull of large cavern look well enough. However, the stone colours still bug me, as does the spiked plants design. In the NES version you see that it’s dangerous, that you do not want to touch it. Because how the visuals have been designed in Remastered, the ground doesn’t look any less dangerous than the rest of the plants that are not man-eating.

Good question is whether or not the stone is natural in the wine-climbing spot. In the NES version is can be accepted as natural mostly due to its colour and design, but in the Remastered it looks like it was cut and just put there. Did the Incans cut a whole mountain like that just for that one temple? Well, not entirely impossible I guess, but that’s would be stupid even for Ducktales. The colours change slightly in the later level, and the spike vines now look actually dangerous. However, the stone now looks sterile. It has been looking sterile the whole time.

The reason why I’m harping at the stone this much is mostly because I love to work with stone and I’ve visited handful of different stone quarries. Only cut stone looks so sterile. Very rarely natural stone is so blocky, unless it’s few specific varying types. However, here inside the temple this kind of cut stone works like a wonder amidst other stone crafts like statues. Now it looks like a natural thing when it’s clearly inside an unnatural construct overall. Before that the cut stone design doesn’t work because you’re clearly inside a natural environment as depicted by the caverns. So, what would’ve been better? you ask. Advancing from natural stone to cut stone temple, of course. Imagine the effect the game could’ve had if the starts from the jungle with natural stone and with each “area” of sorts it shows more and more cut stone elements, until finally the player reaches the temple where the rough, raw natural stone is morphed into sleek cut stone. This is sadly a visual design that would demand the designer to look at every area of the visuals from location to history and so on to actually bring in a proper design. Perhaps I’m harping on the whole stone design a bit too much, but it’s just a symptom for me. There’s something wrong with this game at the moment, and partially it’s in the visuals. While it looks decent and is highly defined, a lot of things just don’t mess with each other properly. The stone is just one thing I notice the most at the moment, and the weird mishmash of Disney’s influence within the last 30 years, eg. the spiders certainly look something Disney wouldn’t do nowadays while the Incas do look something what you could find in the Ducktales cartoon. Gorillas on the other hand look just weird, a bit too modern against the other two.

It also doesn’t help that the game overall is colourful and then the stones are brown. We’ve have enough of that colour for some time. Then again, it might be sandstone. Sandstone temple atop a mountain, sure…

Now the revamped boss looks first a bit silly. Why would they want to change a guardian statue that fits the overall design to a head? Oh, the they changed the whole room into a boss. If the stone would still be sandstone, Scrooge should be able to scratch it into tiny bits. Sandstones not the sturdiest substance to built your stone guardian. Some visual design choices still bug me here; why is there so much dust in the head’s trail, when the stone is clean? Why does the head jump high enough to hit the ceiling but doesn’t bump into it? I know the dust is an effect of tradition, but it looks silly and unnecessary. At least they could’ve thrown some very thin layer of dust or sand unto the ground from where the dust would rise. Then again, most likely the room as been undisturbed thousands of years. Or then not, as there’s people walking around it and the Incans are very much aware of its existence.

Perhaps I’m ripping this one level a new hole for no reason. Perhaps I just don’t want to wait and read through unnecessary dialogue to get into the game. Now that I think about this for a moment, WayForward’s Bloodrayne had very small amaount of these story scenes compared what it could’ve had.

Ducktales and Zelda

I’m sure at this point we’ve all seen the A Link to the Past 2 trailers and all. There seems to be excitement about it on the Internet that I don’t share. I can’t get myself excited on the fact that I would be able to play ALttP all over again with slight changes. This should’ve been a similar addition what Ocarina of Time’s Master Quest was.

I wonder what  were Nintendo’s thoughts when they devised this. Was it  something along the lines of Geez, people sure liked that SNES game, but how could we make it more annoying and gimmicky? or was it We want to rework one of the best games we had for our handheld in trouble! It’s shameless abuse of nostalgia, much like Ducktales Remastered is. It’s also apparent that both games suffer already from being made in the modern game era.

While the Legend of Zelda as a series is still in the minds of the core audience (to an extent,) Ducktales has been dormant and unused for long time now. Even the three companies involved in developing Ducktales Remastered agree that there has been very little buzz on Ducktales. Are they using this game to gauge the possible revival of the franchise for modern generation? If they are, Disney is stupider a company than I thought. You really don’t want to see if an animation series has potential based on a success of a video game.

While ALttP2 will be decently successful because of the raving fanbase, as shattered as it is, Ducktales has to fight against obscurity. Hipsters will buy it because of that, but that market is small. People with nostalgia for the original game are the target market here because of this. It’s weird to think that Ducktales is aimed at people from 25-years and up. Not that an adult couldn’t enjoy it, but it’s a cartoon best watched young, and were at their best when you just came from an episode and wanted some more before next episode.

So, why were kids on their focus test? In fact, why are they giving so much emphasize on the result of the focus test? While focus tests are something of worth, one focus test alone shouldn’t determine the direction you need to take. Human variable is far too big to handle, and one small group can’t really give proper results on a world wide scale. With this focus test, the kids were Disney fans and found the game hard to work with. It’s true that modern children have grown up in a completely different game environment. It makes me feel old to think that there are some fifteen year old people whose first game console was the PS2. A simple 2D platformer doesn’t sit their skill set… except that it does. 2D platformers never went away, and in recent years they’ve been coming back to the mainstream gaming. Saying that these kids found the game too hard isn’t something to be discouraged of, but something that you should be feeling proud of. Ducktales by no means wasn’t a hard game, but it wasn’t easy either. Much like with Mega Man, CAPCOM managed to balance between a good challenge and fun gameplay.

And then you go in and add a cutscene where Scrooge shows the kids that you can walk through some walls.

This is stupid. This shows that you have no trust on your focus group. Then again, wasn’t your target group people who actually recognize the characters and are able to purchase the game? There’s multiple ways you could show the kids that you can walk through certain walls outside damn video clip. Make the walls have slightly different texture, or even better; make an enemy walk through a wall in the opening stage and thus informing the player that fake walls exist. There’s absolutely no reason to bog down the gameplay any further than it already it. The whole thing just reeks. On one hand it looks likely the target audience is young children and teens, but overall the only people who really are interested in this game are old and jaded gamers. Sorry WayForward, this is one game I’m sitting out.

Why am I contrasting this to ALttP2 on any level? Well, we all know that Link can turn into painting in it, and the game has been built on the 2D/3D contrast. I want to quote the director Aonuma here;

“The world of Hyrule has been reborn in a highly realistic stereoscopic vision, which will feature a new story and new puzzles to be solved. The development for the successor of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is going smoothly, so, please look forward to it!”

I do not like Aonuma Zelda, nor the direction this game has gone. First, how does he think stereoscopic Zelda will be more realistic when everything’s in those crayon cartoon graphics and all enemies are still in super deformed style? If he tries to say that seeing it in 3D will make more realistic, I want to slap his glasses off. Then he mentions story, which I hope will not be any more prominent than in original ALttP, but then he mentions the puzzles. Aonuma likes to cut grass and solve puzzles, and Zelda games have become one of the most perfect Grass Cutting simulators with a dash of ouzzles because of this. I’ll be honest with you; in the last three Zelda releases that I’ve played through I’ve been using guides to breeze them through. At some point I realized that the games were so puzzle ridden, that I needed to have a guide at hand almost all the time. There’s so many puzzles in-between grass cutting, that it’s almost funny in a very sad way.

This is why the Painted Link exist; to create new puzzles. I’ve heard people call it a cave painting, but it’s more like the middle-aged mural painting. Nevertheless, it’s inclusion is needless. Why couldn’t they concentrate on making the dungeons more interesting to look at and use the power modern era offers to make this game stand out? At this point it’s not really a good thing to proclaim that this game will be the sequel to one of the best games ever. It’s like saying that a Volvo will be your next car after you’ve driven a Jaguar for multiple years.

Because the Painting Link exist only to appease the developers’ wish to create puzzles, do not expect interesting gameplay. I would joke that the next Zelda games will remove almost all of Zelda-like elements and concentrate on dungeon puzzle solving alone, but Skyward Sword already did that.

Aonuma will be the death of Zelda franchise. Thus far 2D Zeldas have been able to have their own identity form the their 3D brothers, but now Aonuma hinted that 2D Zelda will be changed into 3D for all time. Well, Zelda had a good run. It’ll be a painting on a canvas of video game history from now on.

When will plot be substituted with gameplay?

While you could say that I’ve been vehemently against storylines in games, that would be misnomer. I do enjoy a good story in a game when it has its place in there. For example, I do love the plot in Ultima and Fallout, both of which are computer games. What about Muv-Luv? Visual Novels still aren’t games. I do recommend you to give a look at Sisters if you’re into heartwrenching stories that are largely pornographic. I know you are, so give it a hoot.

Arcade games and console games are different things thou, and arcade games do not need plot to be good games. Nobody is going to put in quarters into Yie Ar Kung-Fu to be swept by a epic story about the arts of Kung-Fu and Chinese mysticism. For that I recommend you to watch Big Trouble in Little China.

Y'know, by changing few things here and there, this movie could be a sequel to he Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. I wonder why....
Y’know, by changing few things here and there, this movie could be a sequel to he Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. I wonder why….

Console games are a bit different. As they are the best of arcade and computer games in harmony (a lost art nowadays) and certain games can balance between story and gameplay. Ducktales is one of those games that doesn’t need to balance with this, because the game was pure gameplay. We know that Scrooge was on a mission to make money and that’s that. The Remastered version seems to add a lot of unnecessary things.

For example, the developers seem to be baffled by why there would be rat on the Moon. Well, Moon is made of cheese, isn’t it? Rats and mice eat cheese. It’s not hard to put the blocks together. I need to quote the next one, because it’s unbelievably stupid.

“In the original NES version, you go in the UFO to find the remote control to open the area to get to the boss. You don’t really know why. The game doesn’t explain it well,” Jimenez stated.

The game doesn’t need to explain it. We know what the remote does. We weren’t idiots back in the day, were not idiots now… thou the Internet and few selected people try to prove otherwise. I doubt that there’s anyone who didn’t have enough imagination and/or intelligence to deduce why you needed to collect the remote first; to access the boss room. There’s nothing more to that and better yet; there’s no need to be more than that.

There’s also a point where they explain who GizmoDuck is and it seems to have a far larger part than previously and I need to ask why? To make it more like the cartoon? Then why isn’t the game looking more like the cartoon? It’s because they want to shove more story in there, and we don’t need no story in these neighbourhoods.

But to be serious, the main reason why this game will have longer completion time isn’t mainly because of the new stages, but because the cut scenes. A game that’s so rooted on accurate and tight controls can stand on its own two feet without having a story. If I wanted to see a Ducktales cartoon, I’d watch an episode. If I wanted to play a Ducktales games, I’d just pop it in. But what if I wanted to play a cartoon that is like a video game?

Well, there’s Laserdisc games for that

A good example of a cartoon game would be the likes of Earthworm Jim, and somewhat ironically, the original Ducktales. It’s mostly how they feel and play, how the visuals blend with the cartoony design. Not how they tell a story. What’s with game developers not trying to develop a way to tell a story within the games’ context rather than having cutscenes?

It’s an alarming example when developers are adding things to a game that it doesn’t need. Who the hell cares if the remote control or the rat is explained? We just want to find the damn remote and beat the boss. Why make it more dull and have us taken away from the game?

When everything else fails, use nostalgia

Ducktales Remastered is a symptom of industry gone bad. The amount of HD remakes we’ve had is another. Remakes of old TV-series and films are another one, and the music industry has been suffering from the lack of variety for some time as well.

When an industry is facing hard times, it will fall back to nostalgia. It’s not only an easy way to make money, but it’s also a way to produce something the easy way. When I heard of Ducktales Remastered, my initial reaction was nothing short of Oh… and nothing more. I had to ask myself Why does this exist? Ducktales has not been a relevant product for years and is remembered mostly by older consumers. An example of this came out yesterday, when I mentioned the Remastered version to a younger friend, his reaction was There’s a Ducktales game?  According to an interview, both Disney and CAPCOM have been wanting to remake Ducktales for years now. I would have liked to see a new Ducktales game rather than a remake, but what do I know, I’m just the person they expect to pay for this product.

Nostalgia is a cozy thing really. I admit that I revel in it from time to time, but nostalgia is the thing that holds a lot of products back. New things sell. People are both afraid and intrigued by something new. It’s the stuff they don’t understand what scares them, and designing around this is easy enough. However, designing new things is hard and asks people to actually use their gray brain cells in order to put up a proper product, be it an event or a film. Falling back on nostalgia seems to be a way to throw away any desires to make anything new and actually worthwhile. We all can be Warhols and copy/paste stuff around. Becoming a Da Vinci is where the challenge is.

It’s good to have nostalgia now and then, but nostalgia seems to be taking more and more power, especially in the game industry. This is because more and more developers who have been only experiencing games are getting into the higher positions. Experiences are things that anyone needs when producing something special. Not everybody can make a game like Ultima, direct a movie like Citizen Kane or make Thriller. The three examples are not peaks of creativity, but carefully planned and designed intents. Everything starts from a point where one wants to eclipse something that already exists with his own work, but one can’t eclipse something that already is by remaking it.

I love how West got the better deal of the Super Mario Trilogy on the NES. Super Mario Bros. was great. Super Mario Bros. 2 was different and a great game as well. Super Mario Bros. 3 was everything the two first were and then truckloads more. Japan had their own SMB2, which we know as the Lost Levels. It’s not a good game, to be honest. It’s only SMB1 with different levels and harder bullshit difficulty. That’s what falling on nostalgia is. Super Mario 3 is when the producers decide to outdo themselves and do their damn job. Incidentally, Super Mario Bros. 3 is still seen as the shining of example of video games for this reason; it’s just that good.

However, when a product like SMB3 happens, then the competition is suddenly just that much harder. Too easily a product tries to be like the one it tries to overcome rather than beating it. Super Mario World tried to be SMB3 with updated graphics, but lacked the finesse SMB3 had. It was too much too fast. While the same principles of development apply to any platform, the fact is that SMW didn’t hit the right spot. It’s just not as good as SMB3 because it was based on same ideals as Lost Levels. SNES didn’t start getting really hot until Donkey King Country stepped in. It was something new, something wild, something that people understood and wanted to get their hands on. Naturally Miyamoto stated it to show how customers don’t recognize great games and only value graphics. His pride got a hit that it never really recovered from.

Enter modern 2D Super Mario, that is stagnant because of the developers not wanting to make a better game than SMB3, but SMB3 with 3D Mario physics. No wonder they don’t sell as much as they could, but even then they sell more than most current games.

This is what the problem is with Ducktales Remastered; it isn’t a new game. It’s still the same game with a new lick of paint and new frames. Nintendo could do Super Mario Bros. 3 HD and it would sell insanely well, but not because it’s a new game, but because it would be SMB3 HD. It’s an alarming issue when a game like this causes massive uproar on the Internet and becomes the most hyped game of upcoming summer.
I do not want to see games as good as Super Mario Bros 3 or Donkey Kong Country again. I want to see better games that leave those two biting dust. I want to see movies that do not recycle same things over and over again just because they work, I want to see movies that are good simply because they’re made that good. I want to hear music that isn’t homogenous; I want music that can stand on its own again. I want events that evolve from year to year, always making the past one seem like a gray memory.

Video games are the one region where we haven’t reached a ceiling when it comes to design. Industrial design has been stagnant for a long time (we really need to move outer space or deep sea, where new design is required.) Music has a lot of untapped places, but nobody is exploring them, and the same applies to films. Load of event organizers seem to think that shit rolls uphill because they say so. Well, shit can roll uphill, but you need to expel it with enough force to do so, and that requires a lot of work… But video games are still a young medium that needs to be explored even more and with courage. The variation in games we have now is smaller than what it used to be, and the amount of variation we have now is just measly compared the potential games have as a whole, but the developers are ignoring the new could be made and simply fall back on nostalgia.

And nostalgia only carries so far. It’s only a one-time solution. What then when nostalgia doesn’t sell any more and the creators are not producing anything that’s new?

Have you ever noticed how emulation is an often talked topic when there’s no good games being released? Incidentally, piracy and emulation have been a topic for more than ten years now…

I did like the Darkwing Duck game on the NES, even when it is an uninspired ripoff of Mega Man. Well, that’s exactly why I liked it. At least it had better music than Ducktales

CAPCOM doesn’t get it #4

While I was washing my dishes today after being sick on/off for three weeks now, I pondered on CAPCOM and their latest moves regarding Mega Man and Ducktales. It’s something to think about for sure, but then I realized that it’s something that has been clear all the time and doesn’t ask for any pondering or discussion.

Modern CAPCOM shouldn’t touch Mega Man as they are.

While everybody seems to be drooling over the Mega Man statue, I’ve been questioning CAPCOM’s intent of getting the PC Mega Man X ports on Good Old Games. While the site is good and all that, I have to question why the hell would they like to have Mega Man X PC version available anywhere? It’s a horrible port. Modern hard core PC gamers would laugh at it, much like they did back in the day. You get a better version of the same game through emulation nowadays, and the game itself is available on multiple other platforms as well, not to mention Maverick Hunter X exists. Mega Man X8 on the other hand has a decent PC port, and some mods to boot for what I remember, but the game itself is boring, and with it the subpar results of X6 and X7 pretty much confirmed that X-series wouldn’t see any more games. That, and the fact that other Mega Man games were selling better and X8 was a failure in CAPCOM’s eyes. Most fans look at it through rose tinted glasses. However, seeing that the progress is slow we can say that the chances of getting those games on GOG is closer to nil. Knowing how CoJ has been thinking lately, we won’t get them.

Well, PC games aside, CAPCOM’s intent on Mega Man at the moment is further merchandising the brand to cash on the nostalgia. While that’s what CAPCOM has been seemingly been doing for a while, now it’s actually what they’re doing… ever since Mega Man 9 was released. No, Mega Man 9 and 10 were not good Mega Man games, they were subpar Mega Man Zero games in Mega Man cloth. 9 and 10 pretty much doomed the Classic series as far as we can see. I’ll use one of Josh Hadley’s favourite terms here and call them cash-ins. While not completely applicable, Mega Man 9&10 completely fulfil the requirements of cash-ins, such as relying on an existing product, not doing anything special or even trying to be their own product.

The same can be said for the Ducktales Remake. Oh look, Aalt hates Ducktales! Shush you peasant, listen before you open your jabberjaw. The reason why this Remake, alongside the Dungeons and Dragons; Chronicles of Mystara, is cashing on nostalgia with minimum of effort. I admit that I am a huge WayForward fan, so saying this isn’t easy, but this looks halfassed. Why 2D sprites for characters and everything in 3D? WayForward, you’re better than this, you’re one of the last proper 2D game developers on the world, why not go all out and make this look like the cartoon? The sprites already do, so why not make he whole game look like the cartoon? Bloodrayne Betrayal looks extremely good with its full 2D approach.

Every sprite seems to have a good amount of animation frames, thou the trailer shows that Scrooge has the same walk cycle as in the NES version, thou the test version at PAX seemed to have later version, where Scrooge has increased animation. In that version you also hear that the music is pretty spot on and the pogo sound is still there, but some things are just really strange, like a fade into black when walking into a new area rather than the screen sliding. This is a technical issue I’m sure. Still, it’s weird to see Scrooge all smiling and happy when his nephews have dropped through a  trapdoor. WayForward has good designers and 2D developers working for them, and if Ducktales would get same full 2D treatment, the game would not only look better, but feel better.

Then again, if you’ve ever liked Ducktales cartoon or comics, you’ve already played both of the NES games, and you even might own them like I do. The question is if these additions really are worth the price? Hype says yes.

As a trivia, the NES game red Scrooge palette isn’t inaccurate. At the time CAPCOM followed Carl Bark’s design on the McDuck, so red isn’t inaccurate as such, but it’s not show accurate. Then again, I live in a region where Duck comics are more common than bread and everybody used to inhale them more than oxygen, so variations on Ducks isn’t anything you’d call uncommon.

When we get to know how much the remake costs, we’ll then have a proper price on what nostalgia costs. I will most likely purchase it as well, as it is from WayForward. I’m not infallible either, but I’m sure I will struggle with the decision on the future.

Nevertheless, these are few reasons why I do not want modern CAPCOM to make a new Mega Man game of any kind. They simply can’t do it. It’s like having your leg on a samoflange. The fact that they have an ongoing discussion about Mega man is as good as doing absolutely nothing. It’s a common thing to say that discussion is ongoing when everything is on hold. I will believe that there has been discussions when I see proper hard evidence on it, namely development of a new game that’s not halted or cancelled a year after letting it die in silence.

Outsourcing Ducktales to WayForward was a good idea. WayForward has a good record on doing justice to old games. If CAPCOM wants a new Mega man, they should outsource it as well to WayForward. Seeing that Zero and ZX series was developed by Inti-Creates rather than CAPCOM, it explains why the games have their own feel and swing. Then again, Inti-Creates fell victim to the myth of Mega Man being difficult, and is one of the main reasons why Mega Man 9&10 are dim jewels without proper cutting. Mega Man doesn’t suit CAPCOM’s modern image, thou neither does Ducktales, but that’s WayForward, right?

Imagine if they had decided to do Ducktales 3. Just add 1 and 2 as options, you could even use same sprites. Nevertheless, it would be a completely new game, which would be a proper reason to actually purchase this game. Not only because of nostalgia (that will always be a part of the charm for both good and bad) but because it would mostly, if not completely, be a new product to enjoy. The applies to Mega Man; modern CAPCOM would try to cash in what Mega Man was and mythically is instead concentrating on what Mega Man really is and should be.

It’s like Mega Man would be the best grilled cheese sandwich ever, and CAPCOM thinks Mega Man should be a fajita with horse shit in it.