rynling: (Terra Branford)
"Everyone's smiles shine so brightly. Those smiles led us to so many other people. And those meetings will lead us to a bright future. I'm so glad I got to meet everyone. I'm so glad I got to meet you."

- Lillie

Pokémon Sun is such a sweet and gentle game. It only took me about 45 hours to finish it, but I spread it out over ten months because the world of the game was a surefire source of happiness and joy. Breath of the Wild was a lot of fun, but Pokémon Sun healed me.

As I wrote when I started the game (link), Pokémon Sun is an unapologetically positive model of what a postcapitalist utopia might look like. Money isn't much more than a game token, everyone's needs are met, and there is no scarcity; jobs pay well, leisure is abundant, and volunteerism is common. There is a state, but it only exists to provide basic services. The villains in the game are aberrations that have to be tolerated as a byproduct of the functioning of the local market system, which is driven by individual interests. Basically, even in a postcapitalist system with no scarcity, some people will still insist on behaving according to capitalist ideology, and those people will create problems for everyone else if someone doesn't talk sense into them.

What I especially appreciate about Pokémon Sun is that it repeatedly emphasizes the message that everyone's talents are valuable. Success is achieved through cooperation and mutual support, and the goal is not to "get stronger" but to develop one's unique strengths. The character Lillie is a good example of this value system. She wants to get stronger at the beginning of the story, but gradually she finds the courage to resist the expectation (enforced by one of the game's villains, who happens to be her gorgeous and fascinating mother) that there is an absolute standard to which she should aspire. That being said, Lillie isn't content to "be herself," as she acknowledges that change isn't something to be afraid of, and she makes a firm decision to direct her own character evolution by setting her own challenges.

If you choose to play as the female protagonist, the relationship between this protagonist and Lillie is the most pure and perfect thing I have ever seen in a mainstream game. I'm actually really surprised that Nintendo allowed this, considering how gay it is.

The people who wrote the entries in the pokédex are complete savages, though. That shit is dark, and whoever is responsible for it needs to reflect on their life choices and think about what they've done.

Paris FAQs

May. 18th, 2017 06:13 am
rynling: (Gator Strut)
Are there a different set of Pokémon that appear in Pokémon GO?

No, unfortunately not.

Are you really still playing Pokémon GO?

I don't know... Maybe?

What level are you at?

I'm at level 30, the old level cap. I told myself I would quit when I got this far.

How's that working out?

Okay look, I love Pokémon, that's a normal healthy adult mindset.

Why didn't you bring your Nintendo 3DS with you?

I thought I would be working and not wasting time on games.

Games like Pokémon GO?

Listen there are a lot of Pokéstops here, it's culture, I am becoming cultured.

Is there a lot of culture in Paris?

There is a fucking ton of culture, I'm almost at level 31.
rynling: (Gator Strut)

That Pokeyman Thing is a twenty-minute browser game that was put together partially in response to an interview with Werner Herzog in which the dude totally does not understand Pokémon Go.

To me, as someone who is still keeping up with Pokémon Go, That Pokeyman Thing captures the experience of playing the game quite well - it's more than a little stupid, but it's actually kind of fun, and it does encourage you to leave the house and explore your neighborhood. I usually hate WASD games, but this one is well written and well programmed, and as an added bonus the music is super catchy.

I'm on Level 27 in Pokémon Go, if anyone cares. I have been on Level 27 for months.
rynling: (Default)
I really love Pokémon Sun. It's full of happiness and healing. Everyone is kind to the player-character, and everyone helps her and wants her to succeed. There is no racism or sexism or homophobia, there is no war or poverty, and there is no animal cruelty. There is an overt critique of capitalism, but it's very gentle, and the real-world history of human migration to Hawai'i is treated respectfully as well.

There's a famous quote from Slavoj Zizek that goes, "It's much easier to imagine the end of all life on earth than a much more modest radical change in capitalism," but the dude obviously never played any of the Pokémon games, which all function as beautiful interactive models of what a peaceful postcapitalist society might actually look like.
rynling: (Needs More Zelda)
I downloaded A Link to the Past on my New Nintendo 3DS, and I've been playing one dungeon every night. I've gotten all the way to the end, but I don't feel particularly compelled to fight Ganon. I'm just going to let him be; he's not hurting anyone. It's surprisingly difficult to play A Link to the Past on such a small screen. It's always been my experience that gameplay is much easier on larger screens. I wonder why that is?

Speaking of large screens, I downloaded Super Metroid onto my Wii U. The game isn't as difficult as I remember it being, but I also haven't gotten very far. The Wii U allows the player to create save states on Virtual Console titles, so hopefully I'll be able to cheat in order to compensate for the difficulty level if it ever becomes a problem.

What I really wanted from my extended SNES nostalgia trip was to play is Secret of Mana, so I pirated a ROM. I've been playing the game about fifteen minutes every morning, and it is still a beautiful shining treasure.

I still haven't beaten Mario & Luigi Paper Jam. I feel like I should grind to raise my levels before I face off against the Bowsers, but every battle that gives decent experience takes five minutes to work through, so I haven't been making much progress. I should probably just challenge the Bowsers, enjoy their ridiculous dialog, and move on.

According to my PS4 trophy achievements, I think I'm probably halfway through I Am Setsuna, and not much has changed. It's still all snow all the time. Sometimes there is ice.

Meanwhile, I don't know why I'm still playing Pokémon Go, but I'm currently at Level 24. There have been a lot of public demonstrations in my neighborhood this weekend, and two separate reporters have stuck cameras in my face and asked to talk to me. Because I was standing alongside the sidewalk and futzing with my phone, they apparently thought I was blogging, and I had to tell them that no, I was just playing Pokémon Go. They were not impressed. I keep telling myself that I'll quit the game after I get to the next level, but that hasn't really worked out.

It seems as though I've been playing a lot of games recently, but what can I say? Sometimes I go through periods when I'm absolutely not interested in engaging with the real world.
rynling: (Default)
As a gaming franchise, Pokémon goes out of its way to be open to newcomers. What I've witnessed over the past two weeks of playing Pokémon Go is this ideology of acceptance translated into the real world, with older or more experienced players actively helping younger or less experienced players.

To give a concrete example, I live by the National Zoo in DC, which has a good three dozen pokéstops (an extremely high concentration). When I go for walks there, I see players approaching people who seem confused about how something in the game works, and the zoo employees and volunteers have been engaged in helping the kids who come up to them to ask for directions. I'm sure there are hardcore trainers lurking by the gyms at either end of the park, but the overall approach seems to be one of enthusiastic welcome.

Even in more "adult" environments (like the bar scene at Adams Morgan), it's been kind of amazing to see how an inclusive attitude regarding gaming has become a means of fostering real-world kindness. Pokémon Go is like an all-ages and friendship-focused version of Tinder for nerds, which is something that shouldn't work but does.

Oh man. What a strange and wonderful world we live in.
rynling: (Default)
Pokémon Go has a fantastic amount of potential. It really, really does.

The game is also very difficult for three reasons.

First, Niantic has some serious server issues. Granted, they have well over 45 million people logged on at any given time, but I don't know why they didn't prepare for this. If you're playing the game between noon and nine in the evening EST, you're not really "playing" the game so much as desperately hoping that it doesn't crash.

Second, Pokémon Go doesn't tell you what to do or how anything works, which is all the more damning because it's the first game of this nature that most people have ever played. I am ashamed to admit that I have dug deep into Reddit to search for answers, but it seems that even experienced players still have no idea what's going on.

Third, the game does not accommodate casual players. I habitually walk several miles a day through neighborhoods that have a wealth of Pokéstops, but I've made almost no progress in filling out my Pokédex or leveling up my avatar. Unless Niantic can figure out how to reward players on a more consistent basis, I don't think they're going to be able to keep the game going for the entire summer. Once the casual players arrive at the conclusion that Pokémon Go isn't something that everyone can enjoy, the middleground players will drop out as well.

I'm not sure how long I'm going to keep playing. I'll give it the rest of the week, but I'm beginning to think I'd rather sit on my couch in my air conditioned apartment and play I Am Setsuna instead of futzing around with malfunctioning AR in the middle of a record-breaking heatwave.
rynling: (Gator Strut)
There's a bench on a tiny patch of grass in the triangle of a three-way intersection next to my apartment complex. Because it's not technically a park, it's not technically illegal for me to have an open container of alcohol, so sometimes in the evenings I go there to write.

Yesterday, a little after eight, three tiny children start wandering around with enormous smart phones. What's going on is obvious to me.

"Hey, are you guys playing Pokémon Go?" I ask them, pulling out my phone.

They get really excited, and we dig our heels into comparing notes on the pokémon in the neighborhood (all Pidgeys all the way down), a conversation that goes well until a harried soccer mom runs over and begins apologizing to me.

"I'm so sorry these boys are bothering you," she says, "but it's this Pokiemans app they're addicted to. God, it's just the dumbest thing."

"Yes, of course," I tell her, sneaking my phone back into my bag, "it absolutely is."

"I blame the Japanese," she continues. "It's them and their devil worship that leads to things like Pokiemans."

Although her wording is imprecise, she's not wrong. The eighteenth-century Neoconfucian drive to scientifically classify supernatural phenomena was appropriated by State Shintō during the Meiji Period, the cultural echoes of which can indeed be found in the Pokémon games. I think about explaining this to her and decide against it.

"Mmmmmmm," I respond, and she wanders off after the kids.

So that went well. At least she didn't think I was a molester.
rynling: (Needs More Zelda)
I decided to play Skyward Sword again. I set up my old Wii system, but the batteries in the remote were dead.

So I got off my ass and put on some flip-flops and went to the CVS to get some AA batteries. Since the Skyward Sword opening sequence always makes me cry, I also picked up some tissues for good measure.

I go to check out, and the lady working the cash register eyes up me and my batteries and my tissues. She gives me this look, like, I know what's going on here.

And this is why I decided to give up on Skyward Sword and start playing Pokémon Go instead. For some reason I get this feeling that I may need to get out more.
rynling: (Terra Branford)
Thursday was hellish and exhausting, so I devoted Friday to playing video games. Gaming tends to stress me out when I'm busy, since all I can think about is how I should be working or sleeping instead of wasting my time. I sometimes forget that games are supposed to be fun, and that the point of fun is to distance oneself from work. This in and of itself is productive, as this distance allows for a broader perspective and encourages lateral thinking. Play enhances work, and work adds meaning to play.

Unfortunately, this cycle doesn't function properly if the game you're playing feels like work, as is the case with Oracle of Seasons, which I was fooling around with this month. That game is garbage, so much so that even thinking about how I would explain how it's garbage is exhausting. Oracle of Seasons managed to convince me that I hate the entire medium of video games, so I dropped it. I'll finish it later, maybe, if I have insomnia while I'm on a business trip.

Instead, I started playing the 3DS version of Ocarina of Time, which is beautiful and perfect. I'm trying my hand at the Master Quest, in which Link takes double damage, all the maps are flipped along their Y axis, and the dungeons are substantially different. It's tricky, but it's a lot of fun.

I've also decided to tackle one level in Yoshi's Woolly World every evening. One day I'll finish the damn game, one day.

The game I'm really excited about, however, is Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition, which is without a doubt the single best Metroidvania-style game I've ever been fortunate enough to lay hands on. The art, the music, the humor, the animation, the combat, the exploration - everything is ten degrees of amazing. I already get the feeling that this is one of those games (like Ocarina of Time) that I'll keep returning to as long as I have a game system to play it on, because Guacamelee! is pure unadulterated joy.

I'm also playing Bravely Second. I'm enjoying myself, and I'm doing my best to limit my play time to twenty minutes a day so that I don't get burnt out. One of the nice things about living in a big metropolitan area is that I pick up a lot of people through Street Pass; and so, even though I'm only a little more than four hours into the game, my moon base is already almost complete.

I can't wait for the new Pokémon games. According to the official website, the games' release date is "Holiday 2016." I don't know when that is, but it's appropriate, because I'm already planning to take a holiday when they come out; I'm saving money and vacation time so that all I do for ten days is travel and play Pokémon. Honestly, considering how stressful work has been lately, looking forward to the next generation of Pokémon is the only thing keeping me sane sometimes.

God I love video games. Is that sad?
rynling: (Silver)
Fuck the haters, I regret nothing.

( rough sketch of my commission from Sara Goetter )
rynling: (Default)
It took me about fifty hours to explore everything, fight all the trainers, pick up everyone's pokéball litter, pimp out my secret base, make a bunch of unappreciative assholes happy with exceptional wonder trades, and work through the postgame content, but I'm finally finished with this game.

I'm not sure how one would go about measuring "completion" of a Pokémon title, but I certainly did not complete this one. I didn't pay any attention to capturing all of the extra legendaries or to the talent competitions. I also gave up early on trying to fill out my Hoenn Pokédex, because who has time for that nonsense.

It is my unpopular opinion that the original Ruby and Sapphire games were the weakest of the Pokémon generations. Unless you choose the "right" starter (which is obviously Mudkip), the game is poorly balanced in terms of Pokémon type distribution for the first thirty or so hours, and the two main legendaries – Groudon and Kyogre – are kind of lame in that you have to wait an extra five seconds for them to change the weather at the start of every battle. There is also a METRIC TON of backtracking, fetch questing, and running around in circles. Finally, because such a large portion of the game's trainers are swimmers and divers, it's almost impossible to earn money.

The 3DS update fixed the balance issue but made the other problems more pronounced. The end result of these layered annoyances is that, while there are more things I could still do in this game, I'm kind of burned out.

Of course, this is a Pokémon game, and I had fun. I'm just happy that the series moved away from this direction, because Diamond and Pearl were excellent.

Next up is Super Mario 3D World!


rynling: (Default)
Rynling R&D

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