Saturday, July 30, 2011

On Arkham Asylum...


I really don’t like Batman…

I always feel as if it's necessary to initially point that out when talking about him. As far as mainstream comics go, I pretty much draw the line at anything that isn't Spider-Man (being that he was the only mainstream Caucasian 'superhero' I could even remotely relate to), but I've always been able to find appreciation in some of the others. One of those others is of course---the dark knight.

I've honestly never bothered with him past the obligatory childhood phase where I watched the Tim Burton movies and just had to have the accompanying toys. However, I was cynically surprised when Nolan rebooted the films to their mostly-deserved critical acclaim (though I recently flew off on a rant about how The Dark Knight should be a mediocre film[1]).

So, apart from genuinely enjoying Nolan's recent trilogy, I've had no real exposure to the comic hero---then I purchased Batman: Arkham Asylum this past week. While I was initially impressed by the demo I played last year,  it still wasn't quite enough for me consider shelling out for. Then on a whim I decided on Arkham Asylum instead of Nier. I don't regret the purchase (especially considering it's a two-year old game that only ran me $20), but once again I'm a victim of knowing who and exactly what I want out of my games[2].

First and foremost, the hype for the game itself far outclassed it, but being that could generally apply to any 'well-recieved' games, I guess I should clarify even further that games like this only stand out as paragons because they have no relevant competition. The last Batman game I personally remember playing is the accompanying Batman Begins game on the original X-box, which wasn't actually a terrible game[3]. What Rocksteady did with Arkham Asylum was only notably exceed the basic formula for what will make a decent Batman game. They didn't evolve it, they even didn't innovate it, they just expressed competence while navigating it (and threw in a few goodies for the fans to lull over).

What I find really taxing about the whole thing is that Batman is an inherently different figure to design a game for. When compared to the other biggies such as Spider-Man or Superman, it's instantly recognizable that Wayne only has one thing---his wallet. That wallet allows access to neat little gadgets and gizmos that almost scream 'Hey! design game mechanics around me!'. Now I'm not arrogant enough to say that this inherently makes it easier to design a game for, but I will say it should throw into question to how all games featuring Batman's family[4] should be designed. Hell even the general navigation of Batman is more fitting in gaming than the likes of Spider-Man, Superman, and any number of heroes that designers think it's more 'fun' to focus on in terms of their 'powers' (e.g. Parker can swing everywhere and this is something that most of the Spider-man games consistently get right because that's all that most people care to deem 'important').

Stealth shouldn't be an exclusive trait to Batman in the 'gameverse', but it seems to be given the general familiarity to who he is and what he can do (e.g. things such as Nolan's summation of Wayne's ninja training help aid this perception these days as well). Through these types of consistencies in the character, AA makes it very clear that Batman isn't invincible, as a couple of shots will put his ass down for the count---thus this makes the game at times a very methodical experience (which is mostly to its merit). Like I just stated though, it shouldn't be exclusive to him as a character, as other more aptly named superheroes are just as susceptible to gunfire and the like and just as accommodating to other type of genre-work akin to stealth (again, Spidey is a great example there[5]). 

If I go any further with that, I'll just diverge too much into what I want out of an ideal Spider-Man game, so I'll stop here today. 

Harley Quinn is cute though...
So the greatest compliment that I can give Arkham Asylum is that it is a fantastic new template for how any superhero game should be approached, but that's where my compliment ends. As a game on its own merit, it's just another reminder of how much lower gamers' standards are and how quickly they're willing to dote on something just to pass around geek communion (in this case the comic & game community which have always been in close proximity to one another). I'll give Rocksteady a deserved vote of confidence by purchasing Arkham City in a few months, but if it's not moving the concept's general milieu along in terms of its mechanics, characters, and interweaving between the source material's conflict translations[6], then I'm not bothering again.

1. A quote from a Salon article that I recently read concerning comic heroes which hit a number of valid points but diverged way too much (and wildly) to be taken seriously past a certain extent. 

2. My post here from two years ago where I identified the hype for what it was in regards to me.

3. It was just yet another unbearably medicore cash-in licensed game.

4. That is---any damn superhero.

5. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, I still haven't played this, but I'm guessing that even if it does acknowledge what I'm talking about here, it's still blatantly guilty of focusing on his superpowers instead of his limitations as a 'superbeing'.

6. This is just a shorter way of saying how a the source material's concept is translated to the player. In this case, that means how much of Bruce Wayne's conflict and 'I am Batman' the audience gets to feel instead of just the 'I'm Batman dude---fuck yeah!' design methodology that I picked up on as a substantial force driving Arkham Asylum.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why Would Capcom Ask Such a Stupid Question?


“As a fan of Resident Evil, what do you think we're doing right and what should we be working on?”[1]
One would think that enough fans yelling the answer to this since 2004 would have left more of an impact on the series. Given that it actually HAS been seven years since Leon S. Kennedy traipsed through Europe[2], inspiring a notable number of other developers to forgo one of the media’s longest lasting muscles[3], it would only be sensible that such an echo chamber be created. The answer to the question is of course, atmosphere--- or at the very least some semblance of a narrative (the former of which can make the latter always seem more qualitative than it is if done competently). The answer of atmosphere should only inspire ‘fans of Resident Evil’ to ask their own question, which is:
“Why in the hell haven’t you delivered on it already?”
Even to the answer to that is obvious, as the action of RE4/5 easily pandered to a generation of gotta-shoot-shit-junkie gamers, understandably making them the best-selling entries in the franchise to date. Money was the answer, so the question then becomes:
“How much of that fanbase can you see yourself realistically parting with Capcom?”
The answer to this isn’t as cut-and-dry and would rely mainly on hypotethicals of optimism and pessimism that would be up for debate by any of the various fanboy camps involved. The current formula being tampered with would irrevocably alter the income generated by the games. What does a new Resident Evil even mean in the context of this late age of 7th generation console survival horror? The only reason Resident Evil is even still relevant is because it’s had no worthwhile competition to spur it on. I wouldn’t consider something like Silent Hill as competition like most would either, because it mainly provides a different type of fear in the new rhetorical age of what all of these games could potentially convey.

Resident Evil easily flew off into the action-cliché arena for another reason apart from money. That is---that it was simply more of an action-based game in the basest sense. The horror was always more external, rather than internal (something I intend to post about on its own when I get back to playing a ‘certain’ pre-4 Resident Evil title). Players were always better armed and they were consistently more powerful in the space of the game’s narrative context. Resident Evil 4 capitalized on this gloriously, abandoning all prior atmosphere and external horror in the face of power and a cathartic sense of action; instead of horror acting as an overbearing supplement for the latter two in the franchise, it was laid on top of an action game more along the lines of a mere aesthetic filter instead. The little horror that the games started out with has never progressed forth since. Capcom merely used all of the flashy design bells and whistles to ‘put the band-aid on a broken arm’ (i.e. HD optimization, inclusion of co-op elements, potent design focus on being a shooting gallery, etc.). There were also plenty of stagnant design decisions that when analyzed, become questionable in themselves (such the inability to move whilst shooting).

So many of the comments on that Facebook Status resonate with the older titles, but few give articulation towards what it would mean to make a new Resident Evil game that’s not just a mere remake[4] or extension of an older title [5], but rather an admirable evolution in the design of the older games’ synergy. I don’t want to dwell too much on this post-because as I’ve said---I’ve got another one coming somewhere down the line concerning a pre-4 title specifically. So, here’s a short list of things off the top of my head that better-delve into the inadequacies of the franchise as it exists today.

1. Something Resident  Evil 4 did right was depict Leon get butchered in a plethora of brutal and vicious ways[6]. This was strangely absent in Resident Evil 5 where the dynamics of various socially-retarded design tropes began manifesting all over the place (e.g. Sheva wouldn’t be shown getting graphically mutilated simply because she’s a woman). So, less timid design choices would always be a plus in evolving the likes of fear, vulnerability, and gore that’s not specifically for gore’s sake. If you Capcom can GRAPHICALLY show a pair of tits shaking whenever a woman blinks her eyes[7],they can GRAPHICALLY show them get ripped apart as well. At least grow a pair of testicles if you’re going to be GRAPHIC.

2. Something else Resident Evil 4 and 5 did well was introducing an exclusive air of tension into progressing through the story-mode. This of course, is undermined by how the AI will still react (i.e. running full speed at you then stopping just so the player can have a sort of ‘reaction reprieve’ and can see how much work the animators put in as the infected leer at you before launching a scripted strike). This has its ups and downs in both games, but putting an emphasis on how the enemies react or act at all is key. They can be mindless, but that has to be conveyed through their action (which is why the older games hold up, as the zombie’s action is consistent with the general perception of how a brainless undead corpse would act). It doesn’t hold up in the recent games because the Ganados and Majini are semi-intelligent entities that are part of a larger hivemind. When the illusion breaks on that (which is fragile as a spiderweb holding up a two-ton truck), the game devolves right back into a competent shooting gallery.

3. What the latter two entries in the main franchise remain utterly terrible at is the distribution of power available for the player. There’s a similar problem faced in stealth games where over-equipping the player kills the entire point of the genre. Resident Evil 4 basically said ‘fuck it’ and gave the player everything from tommy-guns CONVENIENTLY-useable rocket launchers. When finding weapons and ammo in the older games, it was complemented by the direness of your situation, requiring you constantly keep an eye on and maintain it. RE4/5 only do this in the superficial sense of the player managing the layout and organization of their weaponry rather than the content of what they have (yet another example of ‘the band-aid on the broken arm’).

4. There’s only a slight difference in the variance of monsters between the pre-4 titles and those afterwards, but there was better sense of unpredictability in the pre-4 titles. For RE4 and 5, the game had begun to hit the point of ‘going through the motions’ with what it offered in terms of its creatures instead of giving more interesting dynamics and systems to the ones that were already there. Sometimes the inefficiency of the combat system in the pre-4 titles worked in favor of gaining those titles atmosphere. If Capcom designed the over-the-shoulder shooting-mechanics to expose themselves with similar deficiencies (which are only alluded towards in certain areas of 4 & 5), then the franchise would begin moving forward again at least.

5. Narrative-wise, there’s no coherency in terms of the game’s scale. For the first three titles, which were confined to a small Mid-Western American city, more of a global sense of doom was available than that of the latter two games (which ironically take the player to two different damn continents). It was obvious at the point of RE5 that Capcom was more excited with ‘traveling’ for the sake of SAYING they’re doing something different rather than actually doing something different.

6. Then there’s the massive number of Japanese design problems inherent to their whole culture in terms of social inertia. This includes things such as the way both females and males are shown aesthetically, how the design of both the narrative and characterization have always been hovering just between camp and plain dumb, and just the general tendency for the Japanese to rely on their over-disciplined design principles out of the sheer sake of not wishing to shake up certain aspects of their games.

As usual, I don’t expect any of these to be acknowledged within the next two or three games---that is if they ever even will be. Too much experience with the franchise has run me dry towards being optimistic for it in any realistic sense. Someone like me is better off playing one of the older games and theorizing how they could be better-built upon, which is exactly what I’m doing these days anyway. ¯\_()_/¯

Note for #1: Yes, I realize the fact that this being a fanpage question means that such a query is not likely to have been generated or even be accessible to the actual developers of the game and is just a pandering attempt by the fanpage itself to interact with and grow its fancount. I just used it as an excuse to write this. ^_^
2. Resident Evil 4 – Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resident_Evil_4]
3. Gears of War – Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gears_of_War]
4. Gamecube Remake of Resident Evil – Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resident_Evil_(video_game)]
5. Resident Evil:  Revelations – Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resident_Evil_Revelations]
6. Resident Evil 4 Death video [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHsHjrC6BXY]
7. Excella Gionne – Resident Evil Wikia [http://residentevil.wikia.com/Excella_Gionne]

Friday, July 15, 2011

No Comment

"You're not an easy person to talk to."
This really originated as a response to some recent activity on my Tumblr (where a surprising number of people acted as if they paid for some type of strict gaming/art microblog without doing two seconds of work to figure out that I post everything from nudity to highly-offensive opinions and jokes), but before the backlash gets out of hand here as well, I thought I’d at least make one post explaining why comments are no longer enabled on my blog. Most of my readers HERE have just been expressing a bit of confusion on whether I don’t ‘allow’ them anymore, or it’s just their browser acting funny. Those actual readers do deserve an explanation in that regard, but people with some axe to grind on this topic can READ my two cents as well (especially given that the latter is really who this blog is aimed towards).

I’m not going to waste my time offering any academic muscle/backing for why I will no longer entertain feedback (and even calling it ‘feedback’ at this juncture is somewhat of a problem).  Such work would be a waste on the ears that are likely to contest it on any ground inconvenient to their perception, so I’m not going to waste my time simply humoring the dense. I’m just going to address what I’ve seen, what I’ve heard and what I’ve gathered in response to not only my recent decision, but a conversation that went down earlier this year at Critical Distance.[1]

First of all, not everyone wants or needs feedback as much as others (and even then, not in exactly the same way). This also applies towards how all blogs handle comments as well, which should be enough for the intelligent mind to settle at but obviously it isn’t. Many have begun working the pro-comment stance off that assumption alone, and it’s just as inherently flawed as any accusation made with it. This blog and its predecessors have pretty much just been 80% me expressing myself in regards to thoughts on various gaming topics. Occasionally, I did ask for feedback---sometimes my wording was even specifically geared to provoke it, but the structure of my writing style often called for a comprehensive understanding of one’s own individual dynamism, which would be better suited to a blog in itself (which I’d always gladly read when notified or if I found it on my own). Occasionally, people actually would e-mail their commentary to me anyway, as they felt odd publishing it on the post itself. I can even recall one quoting my blog here on Tumblr and offering her own commentary under the blockquotes.

"Personally, however, I feel this marks the beginning
of a new era of despair. What's your opinion?"
There’s also the reductionist accusation of this action being an ego problem. EVERYBODY HAS A DAMN EGO PROBLEM, but people who accuse others of ego problems generally are those with far more troubling self-image issues themselves that they're trying to conceal behind weak opinions and pseudo-true accusations, so the whole ‘ego-trip call-out’ is a wild shot in the dark against anyone who’s taken a similar route with their postings (the reason behind which could range from a sense of comfort and confidence in one’s own writing to overwhelming distaste for the ‘noise’ which the Internet is so effective at facilitating). If you have a need to assert an opinion towards the ‘originator’ of some kind of concept or idea, THAT in itself is an ego problem. The neurotic need to be ‘heard’ on the Internet is one that many people have given into, and announcing slavishly that others be branded with a similar mockup is borderline counterproductive to all of the arguments I’ve seen in favor of comments---or more specifically, in criticisms of the option to not allow any.

Anyone who has entered into my illusive circles of friends is always free to use any of the ever-growing list of social linkups to engage a discussion with me.[2] That’s not what this is about. I’m not against comments, not at all. I’m against my ideas being challenged, questioned and engaged in a very particular fashion, as my idea of what that information will mean when it is will cause its value to degrade in my eyes. That’s it. One could make the statement that it’s simply too cumbersome to ‘go out of their way’ to offer their thoughts to me elsewhere, but I’m fine with that thought just being lost if the person is too busy, too apathetic, or outright too lazy to convey it (e.g. if you’re too lazy to sit on your ass and click open an e-mail to throw me your opinion, then I don’t really care either). The Internet has become an overbearing collection of noise and filtering it out for myself is my goddamn right these days. Manipulating the negative space is the forte of any competent crafter and that’s what a lack of comments represents to me (to offer an analogy to aid that metaphor, I very rarely take photographs of people for a somewhat related reason). I don’t necessarily operate off the assumption that I am actively encouraging conversation to happen elsewhere, but lo’ and behold I have an option that says put up or shut up’---at least enough to say that ‘I’d rather it be that way and this is the step I’ve taken to make it so’.

If you happen to be one of those people who just ‘shuts up’, an idea will be lost, but the world will NOT end. Get the fuck over it.

True enough that once a post is made public, it doesn’t necessarily belong solely to the author anymore. In effect however, disallowing comments allows the author to ‘vanish’ in sense. Such a sense has most commonly been described as liberating (with which I agree with). There’s also the assumption that the vanishing author (in terms of simply not engaging with his/her readers in comments) is not an action in itself---not only that but that such an action isn’t equal or possibly of more value than allowing comments/engaging. Asserting so is a dangerously short-sighted stance in favor of an (AT BEST) optimistic lure of debate and discussion which have more immediately tangible (and increasingly more often redundant) ‘results’.

And here’s a quote concerning the author who sparked such an action (no matter how unrelated it may or may not be to my particular related actions here).[3]
“Ben Abraham is famous not only for having a very clever blog, but for having a blog at which it is impossible to comment.  A little while back, Ben produced a post that prompted a good deal of controversy and discussion but because Ben’s site does not allow comments, it is now incredibly difficult to find out what was said.  In a round-table discussion recorded for Critical Distance, Ben defends his decision to not allow comments and there ensues quite an intriguing chat about the value of different forms of online communication.  Does not allowing comments encourage ‘the conversation’ by forcing people to write their own blog posts and argue on twitter or is it reducing something worth preserving to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it trend on Twitter?  You decide (Please RT, comment and pay attention to meee!)”
"Yes, it was because of that I became a vanishing mediator."
Comments such as this one make a valid point and further throw darts at certain problems in the sphere of game-blogging in particular. Obviously from this paragraph I’m referring to Twitter. Anybody that does follow me can easily note that in the past six months my style-usage for Twitter has transferred mostly to my Tumblr, which has taken its own monstrous form[4]. There’s a reason for this. Twitter is a horrible medium for any type of realistic discussion/debate, so in essence that was the first move I made towards ‘vanishing’. Anytime a concise point CAN be made, the perspective can consistently be shown to reveal a facile and willfully-ignorant assault on the complexities of any given situation, all under the guise of being succinct.  Given that this blog is about a relatively young medium that most of the populous is still growing up with, the pains of such a social structure (based profoundly on personal and biased viewpoints) that’s in itself built on the foundation of malleable digital information is dubious at best.

A comment is useless to me on numerous levels given that vast majority of the time as it's either:

A)  Simply sympathetic towards my point.
B)  A reactionary contrarian situated atop some nonsensical or irrational argument.
C) A troll looking for provocation.
D) A sparse critical look in which the basic foundations (or some irrelevant minutiae) of my ideas are questioned.
E) A comment without an exact goal or ‘message’, but a mere expression of stance/opinion as a reaction to my own (these are typically very long comments that deserve to be explored in posts in their own right). These are what usually get e-mailed to me.

Now does this mean that most of the comments I’ve received up until this point are 'worthless' (i.e. 'worth less') in the terms most relevant to this particular post? In regards to the criteria I just mentioned---yes. Are they the incentive for the lockout? Not---necessarily. Hell, 'E' is what I'm after most of the time (with a bit of D sprinkled in). Mostly it’s just a minimal factor in why I decided to do it. My negative and positive experiences with comments overall is irrelevant because my conception of what ‘negative’ or ‘positive’ even means is subject to debate in itself.

It has nothing to do with privacy. If I didn't want anybody to read or engage with my idea, I wouldn't have posted it at all, especially not on the vicious and cacophonous cesspool of opinion that is the Internet anyway...

It's about distance. It’s about my weariness with the ludicrousness of syntax and semantics that so many arguments these days are based on (gaming-related and not). I'd rather the discussion (if there's any to be had) take place away from me for a countless number of reasons both personal and logical; and even if it’s in my reach, I want the option continually open for myself where I’m not simply obligated to launch a response towards someone that may not see a certain discussion in the same light as me. This is especially in regard to people I'm not already familiar with and doubly so for arguments I’ve repeatedly come across in my years of posting about games.

"As your captive audience, I've listened to your words,
now I have a few for you----"
It’s not about me not caring what someone has to say, it’s about allowing the audience to make up its own damn mind and not waste its time trying to fruitlessly and gradually proselytize me towards their own viewpoint. By all means engage with my thoughts and ideas, but don’t you ever assume that you’re entitled to engage with ME on them. Quote me, praise me, eviscerate my entire posts piece by piece, or simply call me an idiot, but don’t expect to do it here. Forced attempts to do so have already seen me tossing all cordiality out the window and acting as troll and/or malicious manipulator (and anybody who knows me beyond a superficial level will instantly attest to this, as I’m notorious for purposefully manipulating information for various ends) to provoke people in fashions that most likely will be more affective towards communicating any idea I deem necessary.

It sure as hell isn’t about controlling conversation. Well---it is controlling towards conversation with me specifically, but if you knock on my door I have no obligation to answer (something else plenty of people will attest to concerning me). People saying the existence of the door does actually obligate me to answer is tickling. People saying they have the constitutional right to stand on a soapbox in the face of any author on the merits/demerits of their work is downright hilarious. Hell, it’s actually leaving the door open (though it may not be as encouraging as I’d like it to be) for a more tangible sense of ‘free’ conversation to blossom.

Ironically though, where my reclusion has kicked in on written expression, it has receded in visual (i.e. my two-year-long ban on the likes of future commissions and finished illustrations/paintings being posted here from now on).

The Internet along with too much recent Ghost in the Shell re-viewings/readings has given birth to a newfound contempt for discussion that is pointless in cyberspace. Welcome to it manifesting on Misanthropic Gamer.
“DARN IT! THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND THE POINT OF WORD-USE IN THE LEAST! THIS IS EXACTLY THE SORT OF INFORMATION THAT OUT TO BE RELAYED ELECTRONICALLY! WHY DID THEY WASTE TIME WRITING OUT A NOTE JUST TO TELL ME THAT!? THE SIGNIFICANCE OF WORDS ISN’T THE SUPERFICIAL ABILITY TO CONVEY FACTS, BUT RATHER TO STRUCTURE THE SELF-PROGRAMMING QUALITY THAT’S INHERENT IN LANGUAGE ITSELF!!! THEY DON’T GET IT!!!”[5]
Thank you, and good day.

1. Critical Distance Podcast, Episode 7 [http://www.critical-distance.com/2011/02/10/episode-7-a-post-comment-world]
2. Misanthropic Gamer, Hypocrisy Tab [http://snakelinksonic.blogspot.com/p/hypocrisy.html]
3. On Magazines and Conversations [http://ruthlessculture.com/2011/02/24/on-magazines-and-conversations/]
4. My Tumblr [http://snakelinksonic.tumblr.com/]
5. Tachikoma, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Episode #2, ‘TESTATION’ [http://ghostintheshell.wikia.com/wiki/Runaway_Evidence]

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Ridiculousness of Pokémon, Part IV

The experience of playing through any of the Pokémon titles often naturally leads to a place of extreme player-entitlement. To be honest, this is something that most games in general are guilty of, but focusing on the franchise at hand leads to some interesting questions to say the least. The world that players are meant to inhabit is so skewed narratively and mechanically, that nearly no illusions are present in which they aren’t ‘the special one’ (i.e. the game doesn’t even try to pretend you’re just another trainer rising to prominence).

Sure, we’re consistently given things such as rivals to serve as wannabe illusions/complements, but at no point do the actions of that rival manifest in such a way that would challenge the player to honestly think of them as such (and in turn, think of themselves outside of the ‘I’m the special trainer’ mindset). The only one that even came close was Blue and this was mainly due to the fans running amok with nostalgia and deifying him as a meme as time passed.[1] In reality, he wasn’t that much different and at best, was only a notch above the others due to the limitations in the software/hardware at the time. Also, take a look at the situation in this sense---very, very, VERY rarely does the player actually witness an in-game battle that is not their own (for example, two regular trainers engaging each other or two legendary Pokémon clashing in the wild). Of course there could be a plethora of situations that would call for simple spectation (off the top of my head, an example would be coloring a Champion as a formidable fighter long before the player has to engage them him/herself).

Exacerbating this even further is the fact that over 60% of the NPCs in the games are barely even that---‘Non-Player Characters’. It’s possible that the original Japanese versions of the game are able to hide this better, but I’m assuming for the sake of argument that at best they’re only minutely less embarrassing. Most of the time, NPCs are just ‘grindstones’ or ‘event-dispensers’.  They exist mostly for the player to gain EXP from (which is a can of worms in itself to engage in most RPGs period) or they exist to give the player some tool (such as a Hidden Machine) that they need to proceed further in the ‘narrative’. To ask for anything such as ones with actual writing or creative existences (e.g. importable characters across different games) would be stupid on my part, so I’ll spare you the ‘what I wants’ in this paragraph. However, to keep this entitlement rant going, I'll also assert that this applies to the base moveset in the games as well.

Bullshit.
The total number of moves actually rivals the number of creatures in the current roster (i.e. 649 pokemon sporting  559 moves).. This stifles any sense of individuality the games could possibly have for the sake of having control over the stat-play that's so popular among the hardcore players. If the moveset were say---double the number of current creatures (i.e. 1,200 moves between 649 Pokemon), we’d be looking at a much richer experience, but only special legendaries and mascot fodder have noteworthy signature moves, and most of them can learn the same moves. The moves themselves don’t differ that much between most Pokémon and when it does, it’s only in the most extreme cases.

Fittingly enough, where individuality is positioned up front and center, it’s pissed on within the same game or one title later. The previously-mentioned OT/Nickname dilemma is one of the more prominent ones (e.g. when a player loses their status as an Original Trainer when transferring any Pokemon across gens). Another example is one of the sneakiest and one of my most personally reviled: Shiny Pokemon.[2]

The concept is intriguing, but the execution is nothing short of insipid. The rarity between any player catching a shiny Pokemon without any kind of aid is pretty damn rare and THIS is assuming they play any of the games for well over 200+ hours.

First and foremost, shiny Pokemon are simple palette swaps in the franchise's current state. In generation II there was a slight difference in  IVs (1/2 of the underlying code that individuates the overall battle efficacy of any given Poke), but after generation III it was scrapped and left these catches as rare aesthetic ‘treats’ to stumble across through extensive play. A palette swap Pokemon in itself doesn’t bother me, but the method to which they are applied in every single game I’ve seen them in is as I said---nothing short of stupid. Personally speaking, more than half of them are just plain ugly. The colorings reek of programmers childishly turning the tone meter all the way in the opposite direction and expecting players to freak out when said ugmo jumps out at them in the wild. 

There’s nothing wrong with questioning why each individual species of Pokemon don't AT LEAST have a dozen different colors.

 (and if I really want to be demanding, differing sprite positionings between each one), because current Pokemon variations such as Shellos[3], Spinda[4] and Unown[5] are just bad arguments. Such a drastic variation between each Pokemon species could realistically turn a 649 roster closer to 8,000 if done with a certain level of expertise. As it stands for any of the current games, I don’t begrudge any player that has hacked a shiny Pokemon (or got it ’off the back of a truck’) over the course of their play, as the rarity of even encountering these butt-ugly palette swaps is ludicrous to begin with. I’ve seen children and adults act like idiots to get their hands on them, trading away hard-earned Pokemon for these things, all in the name of grasping a jokingly superficial status of individuality and expression.

Just so you have more of a sense of what it takes to get a shiny Pokemon the ‘legit’ way (speaking towards something more removed from flat out numbers), it recently took me three weeks of Soft-Resetting[6] (basically just cutting the system on and off) my DS in Pokémon Diamond to get a shiny Giratina[7]. I spent at least two hours every day doing it nonstop and came away getting one fairly easy after about 3,000 resets. And yes, I only did this just to say I did (and to also palpably grasp the insanity of catching one personally) and also because I’m a stubborn idiot.

And us idiots compose 90% of the Pokemon fandom and most of those are unquestioning slaves to the little scam that ‘NintenFreak’ has set up. A smaller amount are fans that are so dependent on the franchise’s system that they---inspire this quote from Morpheus:
"And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependant on the system, that they will fight to protect it."[8]
The rest are in my arena---and are arguably the worst. These are the players who are well-aware of the inanity of the franchise but continue to give our vote of approval with further purchases. Either way the coin falls, it’s not likely to matter. Why? Because gamers are known for a lot of things, but speaking with their wallets isn’t one of them. GameFreak & Nintendo now UNDERSTANDABLY rely on this basic rule of thumb, which is why the series only grows in popularity.