Where media is anathema

So, this week? Pretty busy. Everyone here at the office is spending inordinate amounts of time over at the Moscone Center, trying to write about Game Developers Conference 2007 without being spat upon by said developers, who basically skulk about looking for an excuse to punch anyone wearing that white PRESS ribbon. We gave their work a bad review, once, and now it’s personal.

Between dodging black eyes and broken limbs, I’ve been writing. A lot! We’re supposed to keep our event write-ups brief, but. Ah ha, ha. Yeah. It’s me. I have an allergic reaction to not being thorough. But hey, whatever — it means everyone who didn’t get to see Koji Kondo’s impressive talk on interactive music in games still has a pretty good idea of what he talked about. And I’m okay with that. The Sakaguchi/Molyneux/Canadian Dude panel on RPGs was interesting in a different way, although my write-up for that comes off as pretty dry because the reasons for which it was interesting are mostly editorial in nature, and news stories ill need opinions such as those.

And then there was the Experimental Gameplay Session, which is closer to the core values of GDC than just about anything else and therefore has gone almost entirely ignored by both media and readers. Yes, we all suck. All of us. And there’s no “us” without “u.” I don’t know how you can live with yourself.

Today: Final Fantasy XII postmortem, which will probably not be very interesting at all because Square Enix is a Japanese publisher and therefore vets every last bit of information. Seriously, I hear they go over presenter speeches in advance and cross out entire lines, like a bad parody of Catch-22. Which brings to mind the only way the post-mortem could be interesting: I find myself comforting a dying Matsuno (“There, there”) as he bleeds out in my arms, and the press conference ends in comical chaos when Kawazu’s whore bursts through the door, screaming, and tries to kill me. But! Probably not.

Oh, yeah, and I wrote up something on Super Paper Mario. I was a little bummed not to end up on the EGM/1UP review of the game, but in retrospect it’s probably for the best. The judges always throw out the high score anyway, and I have trouble imagining myself giving it anything less than a WOWOWOW/10. Like FFXII, it’s pretty much a game designed for my specific sensibilities: Creatively retro-styled art, fairly open-ended gameplay, classic platform jumping. And most of all, it plays hell with ingrained preconceptions about 2D gaming, something I’ve long wanted to see in a game.

Every time I get stuck in a Castlevania game and find myself staring at all the decorative doors in the background, I wonder “Why is Soma too stupid to break out of the 2D plane and go through one of those?” Every time I try to envision a game like GTA as a side-scroller, I wonder why someone doesn’t create a 2D game that allows the world to be rotated by 90-degree turns, essentially placing players on a grid that can be explored on either its x or y axes. Every time I play Klonoa and chuck an enemy into the background, I wonder why I can’t just hop over there myself. And so forth. And Super Paper Mario lets you do that, to some degree, and that makes it completely awesome. The fact that it’s probably another wonderfully solidly-made work of excellence by Intelligent Systems is pretty much gravy (the kind that’s not bad for your arteries).

In any case, it will definitely be better than Wario: Master of Disguise! I apologize for anyone whose hopes I inspired last month when I said it wasn’t too terrible. I hadn’t played the rest of the game yet, you see. Nintendo really needs to start protecting its properties from this kind of disaster. The last thing it needs is a stable full of Sonic the Hedgehogs.

21 thoughts on “Where media is anathema

  1. Dear Mary,

    I yearn for you tragically.

    A. T. Chapman, Chaplain, U.S. Army

  2. The more I see of Super Paper Mario, the more my frothing demand for it increases. It may well be my first Wii game purchase since I got my Wii (other than VC downloads). And if it makes you feel better, we, the fans, love you PRESS guys. Unless, of course, you give a bad review to one of our favorite games. Even if we’ve never actually played it ourselves.

  3. As an English nerd, I have to point out your MAJOR ERROR about Dragon Warrior I’s “Old English” translation (shame) in the newest Retronauts! Old English resembles German (and not even modern German) more than it does Modern English (think Beowulf… and not translations of Beowulf). Middle English is the stuff of Canterbury Tales. Early Modern English is Shakespeare’s era. The DW I translation is a sort of attempt at Early Modern English.

    It’s just that everyone assumes old-sounding English is automatically Old English :(

  4. The Koji Kando write-up was Top Notch. Have you ever considered creator-themed episodes of Retronauts? It could be like “Inside the Actor’s Studio”.

  5. Having done a bit of research into Old English to find an Old English word for bureaucrat, I can safely say that Old English looks nothing like English. It’s weird, weird stuff.

    Also! Perhaps the reason why people were pissed at you for wearing the white PRESS ribbon is less to do with nasty reviews of games and more to do with the media being perpetually out of step with what developers are doing. I mean, there’s been a lot of talk about story in games at this year’s GDC, and 1up’s contempt of story in games is easy to prove. Most of the gaming ‘media’ aren’t much better.

    I know some developers think of the gaming media as basically neoGAF members who get paid to harass them. I’m not sure how far this is from the truth.

  6. Since attack damage can increase, I’m assuming there are enemies that will eventually require a bit more than a quick jump on the head. Did the demo guy mention anything about that?

  7. To continue your Wario apolgy/cry-for-help… but Wario was nothing more than a more rotund parody of the Italian stereotype. He’s Mario’s bigger, badder, uglier bizarro counterpart who was never meant to outdo his goodie-two-shoes other. Sure, he’s fun in small doses (see: microgames), but his adventures in platforming have been more aggressive yet less interesting spin-offs of Mario’s light hearted quest to save Peach time and time again. Master of Disguise seems like an attempt to cater to our inner six-year old, with the copious scat references and the super-powered magic wa..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    You’re right. Super Paper Mario looks appears to be the cat’s meow. And with the video of SM Galaxy, I’d have to say it’s good to be a Nintendo fan.

    Oh, and what system was Koji playing? I’ve never seen a controller with blue shoulder buttons.

  8. The latest Retronauts has a major omission – how can you discuss localisation while not mentioning the greatest dialogue translation of all time, the mighty Bangai-O?

  9. Did you mean “anathema” as in “Cain was anathema?” I Googled “ananthema” and was surprised to find it used as a word (meaning “trouble”???), but I don’t see it at Merriam Webster… Enlighten me, Mr. Parish. Great word, though. Great word.

  10. That is called a “typo.”

    I realized we skipped Bangai-O the morning after we recorded. I loved the localization — totally perfect for the game.

  11. I don’t know man. No one looked like they wanted to punch me in the face. Although, Jeff Minter did look like he might pass out.

    Good thing I don’t “reveiw”!

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