nathalie was right, games journalism is dead

Sorry in advance here. I was originally planning on doing my racing game round up just in time for the weekend, but something else has come up that is much more deserving of my attention. I’ve made my jabs in other posts talking about games writing, but maybe it’s time I dedicated a whole post to it. Much like my post on dealing with Crash Override and the fallout from that, you can choose to believe me or not, I don’t care. I’m simply putting my story out there.

If you’ve been living under a rock, or if you’re a normal person who’s smart enough to avoid games journalism entirely, I’ll give you a contextual cliff’s notes: Jeremy Soule, the guy who did the music for all those terrible Elder Scrolls games everyone tells me are good, is a piece of shit rapist (allegedly– legal department) who has attacked multiple people, and has managed to get away with it because, I don’t know, I guess the upcoming rerelease of Skyrim on the Ouya just wouldn’t be the same without him there. Some point later, the final boss of gaming journalism, Kotaku, did a piece on these allegations (italicizing these words because the guy has money for high-octane super lawyers and I don’t). The piece in question was written by Cecilia D’Anastasio (hopefully I spelled that right, and if not, who cares she can fuck off anyway), and she did a number of interviews with some of Jeremy’s victims, one of them being artist and game developer Nathalie Lawhead. Nathalie and the others had been promised that the article would be sensitive and respectful of them. Then Cecilia asked a bunch of shitty, probing questions, then released a sensationalized pile of garbage that did more harm to Soule’s victims than Soule himself. Nathalie has since, once a day, every day, for over a year, asked Kotaku to take the piece down. If that seems reasonable to you, that’s because it is. Nathalie has written multiple posts about this, but here’s a good place to start.

Kotaku has kept the piece up, while numerous idiots in the field claim that simply taking down an article is too complicated. I mean, it wasn’t too complicated to take down an article where the writer fell for an obvious April Fools joke, and wasn’t too complicated to take down an article about jackin’ it to an underage Emma Watson (complete with uncanny valley Source Filmmaker screenshots), but this article that is doing a number on the people in it apparently is. Clearly this is bull shit, right?

As a result of all this, games journos have decided to close ranks. Coming out of the woodwork to strongly imply that Nathalie is an unreasonable, hysterical liar. Comparing them to Peter Thiel and Hulk Hogan suing Gawker into oblivion. Nathalie Lawhead wants to destroy an entire institution that employs numerous marginalized people! Why does this lying liar who is probably lying about their rape hate Black and trans people so much?? Nathalie isn’t the victim, WE ARE! Gamergate never ended ya’ll, even though we all suddenly and abruptly declared it to be over as soon as people were talking about Sarah Nyberg instead of us. If you stick up for Nathalie, you’ll suddenly find yourself blocked on Twitter by pretty much every games journalist in the industry. You and that lying bitch are directing harassment at a bunch of writers with no power who simply wanted to shit-talk a sexual assault victim in the privacy of their five-figure follower social media accounts.

None of this is new.

Let’s take a quick, and by quick I mean extremely long, break from Nathalie’s situation for a moment. Let’s step into my time machine. Yes, it’s just a cardboard box with a wire hanger fashioned into an antenna, and the dials are drawn on the side of the box in crayon, but it works. We’re going to go back in time. April 2015. Six years ago.

Six years ago was when I started paying attention to games journalism, since I learned long ago that you can get more gaming wisdom from a long-forgotten Angelfire page with an eye-searing color scheme than anything written by a professional. Gamergate was in full swing at this point, and since I hated these right-wing motherfuckers, I figured I should at least give some moral support to the other side. This turned out to be a bad idea. My introduction to this modern era of games criticism and game development was being woken up at eight in the morning by my phone after a bunch of people I never heard of left notification after notification calling me a “fucking retard” over a video game article I didn’t write, on a web site I never worked for. Despite what you might assume, these people were not GG trolls going after what they thought would be an easy target. No, these were a bunch of supposed leftists coming to the defense of some indie game dev I never heard of, because her name wasn’t mentioned in said article I didn’t write. Apparently, I was not the only trans person suddenly being given the blame for an article written by a cis woman, if talking to them is any indication. So what do you do when you’re woken up out of a dead sleep and called a bunch of ableist shit? You tell people to go fuck themselves! If you have a problem with an article on a web site, maybe take it up with the people who were actually involved with it? It was a bunch of bull shit, and that was strike one.

Later on in the month, Ian Miles Cheong did his heel turn, going full-on alt-right after a short period of pretending to be a leftist. Hey, he did a good enough job of convincing people he was a good person; at least convincing enough to get him a spot in Crash Override. Ian took to Twitter prior to his Witcher 3 meltdown, because nothing good happens on Twitter, and proceeded to talk shit about the same developer who had been snubbed in that article. Then, after Ian went all “ha ha, I am a nazi now,” said angry developer and all her games journo friends decided to retaliate by…going after all the trans people who had either talked to or worked with the guy during his CO phase, because that makes sense. Suddenly, trans people weren’t just a bunch of dumb ass idiot retard imbeciles who were unintelligent, but also a bunch of dumb ass idiot retard imbecile neo-nazis! Strike two. And then after that, some cis dude in Seattle went on Twitter and said something along the lines of “uhhh allyzone.” And what would have been a cringe tweet long forgotten in an hour turned into some Pizzagate level conspiracy because the creator of the Chris-chan wiki threw a shitfit about it. While I’m on that subject, something that has never been fully explained to me, or explained at all, is this: why were/are so many of these supposedly leftist writers and developers hanging around with the creator of the Chris-chan wiki? Regardless of what you might think of CWC as a person, I think we can all agree that it’s fucking weird 1) to make a web site tracking every minute movement of an individual and 2) do it for what, like ten years? No one person, no matter how outlandish or strange, really calls for that level of a response.

Let me make something clear before I continue on:

  • Trans people did not write “Punk Games”
  • Trans people did not coin the term “Allyzone”
  • Trans people did not suddenly transform into Ian Miles Cheong and dunk on your shitty TERF friend at Riot Games six years ago

This shit went beyond mean words and social media blocks. This is not, nor has it ever been about blocking people. This was a harassment campaign directed squarely at trans people, mostly trans women, over things that we had nothing to do with. Even if we did, an article or a fucking tweet are not things to try and literally kill people over! Strike three. A mass block list was created, cutting out a lot of trans creators, and everyone who stood up for them, from the greater games industry. Lots of misinformation about us was spread as if it were the truth. IGF award winners were sending fucking death threats to my family! Aside from that, I was mostly unharmed, because there wasn’t much they could do to me. But I had to watch, over and over, as completely random, innocent people were losing their jobs, losing their relationships, and even losing their homes over this shit. Let me reiterate, and make this clear as fucking crystal: there is a clique of people in games, both journalism and development, a lot of whom you The Reader respect and admire, who used their platforms to literally drive disabled trans women out into the streets, all because some thin-skinned idiot got her ego bruised, and wanted to take it out on someone. And a lot of other transphobic fuckheads, like Gita Jackson and Dante Whatever-The-Fuck-His-Last-Name-Is-I-Don’t-Care, were willing to join in on this. Anyways, I’ve been beating around the bush long enough: the angry dev in question is Soha El-Sabaawi, and last I heard, she was still working for Riot Games’ “Inclusion and Diversity Initiative,” which goes a long way towards explaining why that company is in the shape it’s in.

This all happened six years ago. To this day, I still have the memories of all of this seared into my brain. All those late nights, up until dawn, literally talking someone down from a ledge. I still wake up from a dead sleep, bolt upright with a burst of adrenaline, and look down at my phone, hoping that everyone is still with us. A lot of names; a lot of great names you’ll never see again. They disappeared from public life, because getting shit from both sides of the political equation was too much. If it wasn’t Gamergaters doxxing you (I’m spelling it with two X’s, fuck off), you had what was essentially your side joining in, throwing you under the bus. Why were people with ACAB and BLM and DSA in their bios sharing a Brietbart hitpiece on a trans woman like somehow, Milo Yiannopolous managed to tell the truth this one singular time in his life? Where were they sharing a Brietbart hitpiece at all? Why would you want to continue to take part in something where the reward is one side calling you a tranny fag pedophile who should be publicly executed, and the other side is the alt-right? Why continue to plug away in an industry that will chew you up, spit you out, ruin your entire life, then claim that you are the abuser? Only reason I’m still here is because I’m an idiot who doesn’t know when to quit. Or a retard, I guess, as the case may be. Too many others aren’t as lucky.  No matter how much I kayfabe myself into thinking otherwise, this is not something I think I’ll ever truly get over. It’s hard sometimes to be in a casual conversation with someone that not too long ago, you came within a hair of losing, all over something so fucking stupid. It is a very angering thing to know that so many good people almost didn’t make it, and everyone who hurt them and fucked their lives up for a long time got rewarded with jobs, respect, awards. It’s bull shit. It’s fucked up that a lot of people, myself included, are looked at as a bunch of neo-nazi rapist sex monsters you should never support of look at with anything other than disdain, when our biggest crime was simply existing on the wrong day. 2015 was nothing more than a way to justify harming trans people. Full stop.

Now let’s get back into my shitty little time machine, and go back to the present day.

What has been happening to Nathalie Lawhead these last couple of months is nothing new. A group of assholes who used blacklisting and disinformation on trans people and their supporters, essentially cutting them out of an entire industry are now…using blacklisting and misinformation on someone who uses they/them pronouns and their supporters, essentially cutting them out of an entire industry. And despite any bad faith argument you may have heard, this is not a black and white issue; this an issue of basic human empathy. Before I continue, let me say: fuck Cecilia D’Anastasio. Fuck Stephen Totilo. Fuck Nathan Grayson. Fuck Heather Alexandra. Fuck Patrick Klepek (don’t know if he’s involved in this, but fuck him anyway). Fuck anyone else who thought it was a good idea to straight up tell a justifiably angry person they all exploited to go fuck off, that their story means fuck-all aside from some clicks and “engagements.” Jeremy Soule had other people he victimized (…allegedly…), why isn’t Gita Jackson logging on to Twitter, apropos of nothing, and accusing the cis women he assaulted of being unreasonable, hysterical liars? Why isn’t she comparing them to The Hulkster and his blood-drinking venture capitalist friend? Why isn’t Dante Who-Fucking-Cares-Shut-Up blocking everyone sticking up for those other women, making a tasteless analogy of sleeping with dogs and waking up with fleas? I already know the answer: because for all the posturing, the boasting, and dare I say it, the virtue signaling, these self-proclaimed leftist personalities are no less reactionary than the Reddit-dwelling chuds who complain about “SJWs.” This has been going on for six straight years. Hell, it’s probably been going on for even longer; I can’t imagine that this all suddenly started as soon as I started paying attention.

Nathalie does not deserve this shit. I mean, none of us do, but they don’t either. This whole facade of “alternative” games has been nothing more than a front for people to abuse others, free of consequence. I’m making this post because I don’t give a fuck anymore. What are they all going to do, block me on Twitter and tell everyone I’m a liar? Been there, done that. I used to be angry, then the last couple of years, I started to doubt myself. I had started to wonder: what if I was wrong? What if all these people calling for my head were the good ones, and I was the bad one? They’re the ones with all the respect, and I’m some fucking nobody. You can see in some of my past writings. I don’t name search myself, so I have no idea how popular or unpopular I am; it’s still a pleasant surprise when I introduce myself to someone, and they already know me. But when I do hear about myself, it’s never any good. You probably clicked on this post thinking that I’m some fucking weirdo that sieg heils a burning cross with the same hand that I used to molest a child with. If that’s the case, congratulations on hate-reading the last 2,444 words! That’s how fucked up all this shit is: you will begin to lose your own sense of reality. The reason why I act the way I do now, strutting and acting like hot shit, is the result of years of fighting back against that gaslighty self-doubt. Now, I’m not God’s Gift to the world, but I can at least rest a bit easier these days knowing that I’ve built a slightly larger audience in 2021 that didn’t involve me stomping on the less fortunate like a bunch of cockroaches, and I’ll be boastful about that. I was angry, then I was confused, then I was ambivalent, now I’m antagonistic. I will continue to take potshots at this shitty, toxic industry built on a rotten foundation that is “games journalism.” Their transphobia. Their racism against the Japanese people. Their whorephobia (I still remember the way you all tossed Allison Rapp aside). Their willingness to work with some of the worst people to attack some random women they don’t like, or are taking too much attention away from them. All of it. I’m still doing this shit because, despite all of this, I still really like games. I can’t speak for Nathalie, but I would imagine that it’s the same for them, too.

Yes, Nathalie was right: games journalism is dead. Though one has to wonder whether or not it was ever truly alive in the first place.

saga frontier: the remaster

Before I get into SaGa Frontier, there’s something I’ve wanted to talk about for a while in regards to the current state of the games industry. It’s been an issue for some time now, but it’s really been ramping up over the last few years.

Rereleases. Remasters. Remakes. As far as mainstream AAA video games go, it feels like every other game being released this year is something we’ve already played before, but with a fresh coat of paint. There’s a remake of The Last of Us coming out, despite that fact there already is a PS4 version available right now. Why is there a remake of Spider-Man PS4? Spider-Man came out in 2018! Not only is that such a stupid idea to remake something a few years old, the remake looks worse, despite being better hardware! In fact, a lot of these games look worse. Spider-Man, Mass Effect, Demon’s Souls. Games that really didn’t need a remake in the first place, getting a fucked up Mickey Rourke facelift and shoved into the hands of the general public, who have been conditioned that the future of games is its recent past. I remember thinking, years back, that too many sequels were suffocating to the medium. Sequel-itis seems preferable to this, as at least we’re getting a new end product. I am chomping at the bit for Resident Evil 8, to the point of pre-purchasing the game (helped that the pre-purchase price was $10 less than if I had bought it normally), and even if the game turns out to be bad, it’s still better than the fucking nightmare that would be a potential Resident Evil 4 remake. Resident Evil 4 does not need a remake! Leave it alone!

Of course, not to say that every remake or remaster is bad. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 was fantastic. The Yakuza Collection was worth it for reintroducing content cut from the US version of Yakuza 3. The Switch release of Baroque is a second chance for a little-known game in a niche genre, assuming that Sting will ever release it outside of Japan, and they fucking better. Hell, I recently spent an awful lot of words talking about how great the PC-Engine remake of Tower of Druaga is, and made a few mentions of the Resident Evil remake. If it’s done sparingly, or for something that should have been better received than it was, remaking something can be great.

That leads to the focus of today’s post: SaGa Frontier Remastered. This is the perfect example of a game being remade/remastered/whatever. A second chance for a game that was demolished in the gaming press (Western press, naturally) at the time, was released unfinished, and didn’t reach the fond memories that so many other Squaresoft games on the Playstation did. SaGa Frontier was a game that I hadn’t spent much time with over the years, mostly due to its reputation of being a bad game. In the subsequent decades since, I’ve learned to love the SaGa games (Final Fantasy Legend 2 being a particular favorite), and a remaster of another one of its entries that included characters and quests that had been cut from the original game got my interest. As far as the “remaster” part goes, it’s pretty great. The prerendered backgrounds have been AI enhanced, there’s a number of quality of life changes that can be turned on or off (I turn them off because I am America’s Most Important Gamer), and the best thing, a cryptic hint system that nudges you in the direction you need to go rather than leaving you to wander around for hours.

Yes, SaGa Frontier is an extremely open world game. There are seven scenarios to pick from (including a hidden eighth one), each having a different degree of linearity. Some will lead down a straight line for a majority of time, and others will let you explore the entire world at once, leaving you to figure out how you want to take things.

Anyways. That’s it for the “is this a good remaster?” part. If you’ve already played SaGa Frontier, you want to get this.

SaGa Frontier is a great game. SaGa Frontier is a game about watching numbers go up, in its own weird, anti-RPG way. Listen to an internet radio show (sorry, but I fucking hate the word “podcast,” despite being a co-host of two of them) or an ASMR video while you do some stat grinding. It’s great, because it is an RPG that does not give a fuck. There’s no overarching theme. There’s no coming together to fight a Big Evil at the end. There are eight characters, all vastly different from one another, who have their own shit to deal with. And when that shit is done? Their story is over, roll credits. No long, elaborate cutscenes or extra-long dialogue to sit through. No lengthy exposition, which is both good and bad. Good in that there’s less cruft, and everything moves much more smoothly. Bad in that maybe characters don’t get as much personality as their peers in other RPGs do. I feel like the main characters get just enough time to show enough personality to keep you interested, but maybe they could have stood to get a little more time. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter. The main character of SaGa Frontier is the world that everyone inhabits, the playable characters are bit players in showcasing this gorgeous and strange mirror to our own world, much like you and I being bit players on Earth.

I think that’s what I like the most out of SaGa Frontier on a narrative level. It’s not as if the characters are boring or anything. You have a Tokusatsu hero, a robot with amnesia, a shapeshifting monster, a woman brought back to life as a kinda sorta vampire, a gifted magician, a super-model turned underground thief who at one point goes undercover as a pro wrestler to infiltrate a martial arts tournament, a slacker musician recently kicked out of his mom’s house, and a member of an elite detective force. Those are all extremely interesting characters, who do get to show off some of their personality. But at the same time, they are all focused on their own individual goals, while the world keeps on going. Why is there a biological laboratory where all of the scientists have turned into hideous monsters? I don’t give a fuck, I have to get revenge on the man who framed me for murder. There’s a town where everyone is a fortune teller or a magic salesman. Great, but I’m a robot who cannot learn magic, and I need to figure out what my prime directive is. Why are the furthest reaches of outer space a surrealist landscape where everything is made out of sweets? Doesn’t matter, I need to learn more types of magic so that I can kill my brother in a preordained duel.

The narrative structure is a bit true to life that way. There’s all sorts of weird, fucked up shit happening in the real world, but we’re all focused on our own lives. Going to work, going to school, maintaining a relationship, raising a family, sitting in a dark room and jerking off to internet porn, all sorts of things. It’s not that we don’t care about the evils of the world, but there’s not really a whole lot we can do about it, unfortunately; you can’t just cut the president’s head off with a Samurai sword, or suplex the concept of white supremacy.

I like that SaGa Frontier is this thing that managed to be both grounded in reality, and completely out there. It’s a world of magic and monsters, robots and spaceships. There’s a real life super-hero running around while people make ends meet in a very obvious allegory of Kowloon’s Walled City. There’s a robot, a martial arts master, and a vampire wandering around a city literally called Manhattan, while regular folks relax in a large shopping mall. This really cool blend of the outlandish and the mundane that, frankly, pulls it off better than Final Fantasy XV did. I got this game a week ago, and in that time, I grew so resentful of the publications that told me to avoid it at all costs

SaGa Frontier is this amazing game that appeals best to weirdos and artists. Genre conventions are out the window, and in its place is a surrealist adventure that makes sense on its own terms, not yours. Even with the remaster’s user-friendly additions, SaGa Frontier remains this wild animal of a video game, bouncing off the walls and talking a mile a minute. Like other games I’ve brought up, like Tower of Druaga and Genpei Toumaden, SaGa Frontier is a game that has long since been blown open, with all of its secrets displayed to the world. We all know how to exploit a glitch that gives you infinite money, and we know how to get an unlimited supply of weapons and items from a particular shop. We know which characters can be recruited, what skills they possess, and who they work well with. This remaster puts back all of the missing content. Despite all of this, like Druaga and GT, there still remains this aura of mystery, like there’s still more to be discovered. This is what I love about video games. I love games like this, that do interesting stuff that can only be done in this medium. Movies can’t do this. Books can’t do this. Music can’t do this. Only games can do this. To tie this back to my point at the beginning of this post, I would rather have a market flooded with games like SaGa Frontier, than the murky sea of selling me the same tired ass “prestige” bull shit that I didn’t play from 2-10 years ago. I don’t need, nor do I want, Billion Dollar Crunch Culture HD Remake Exclusively On Playstation 5. Give me cheaper, weirder shit that isn’t interested in meaningless awards or the praise of some dickhead who already hates the Japanese anyway. Give me more games with a soul.

there is some cool stuff on the internet archive, part 3

It’s that time again. That wonderful time where I go dumpster diving through every transphobes least favorite den of piracy: the Internet Archive! Let’s get fucking started!

NamCollection 50th Anniversary

NamCollection is a five-game compilation of Namco PSX games for the Playstation 2 only ever released in Japan. The games included are:

  • Ridge Racer
  • Tekken
  • Ace Combat 2
  • Klonoa
  • Mr. Driller

Now, while this is not the digital monument to classic games that the Namco Museum series was, it’s still pretty cool. You get all these games on one DVD, with some slightly updated textures for all of them, and in the case of Ridge Racer and Ace Combat, analog controls.

when i say “slightly updated” i do mean slightly

Going back and playing these games, it’s pretty incredible how good they are even now, decades after their release. Except for Tekken 1. Tekken 1 fucking sucks. Playing this, I wondered out loud how this spawned eight sequels that were all really good; like okay, Tekken 4 was not super stellar, but at least it had ambitions that only failed due to the genre it was in. Tekken 1’s controls are fucking terrible. The AI is the worst kind of SNK mind-reading bull shit. Characters have about five moves that you can never get to input right. Heihachi and Paul can straight up kill you in two hits. It sucks. If you want to play a Tekken game so bad, there are plenty of other options out there, and three of them are also available on the PS2.

Ridge Racer is pretty good. The thing about the series prior to Ridge Racer 4 is that I am terrible at them; I just cannot wrap my head around the way the cars handle. It feels extremely sensitive compared to other games, even more recent Ridge Racers. A big problem is that PCSX2 uh, kind of sucks when it comes to mapping analog sensitivity,so trying to use the analog sticks to drive was a hassle, as it had no problem turning to the right, while trying to turn left literally did not work unless I moved the stick all the way. I’m sure the analog stuff works fine on original hardware, but it does not here. Game is still fine, despite me being bad and my emulator refusing to cooperate with me. Only real downside is that this is the original release of Ridge Racer, locked at 30 FPS, and not the updated 60 FPS version released with Ridge Racer 4. I’m not a big FPS person; I’m fine with 30, but I feel like racing games should go as fast as possible, so it’s a shame that the 60 is not the game on this collection.

Ace Combat 2 is awesome. Ace Combat in general is great, except for that horrible American one that everyone somehow has in their game collection. While I still had the same analog troubles here as I did with Ridge Racer, it’s not as big a deal as I can handle the planes here better than I could the cars there. Being on PS2, the planes have a little more detail on them, which is cool; if I’m going to be uncritically taking part in the American War Machine (this was before Ace Combat took more of a “war is bad” stance), it might as well look nice. The action is just as wild and frenetic as it was on the original Playstation. I have nothing to complain about here, other than some control issues that are not the game’s fault.

Klonoa is one of those games that is really good, everyone agrees is really good, and I have never, ever finished. It’s one of those games that I load up in an emulator, play around with for a few levels, then I say, “yeah this is cool, I will come back to this later,” and then I never do. I really should get around to fixing that at some point. Even now, for this post, I simply played a few levels and said, “yes, good.” Sorry everyone; I will turn in my Gamer Card at the end of the post. Klonoa is good, or at least the first five levels are.

Like the older Ridge Racer games, I am fucking terrible at Mr. Driller. I have played and owned multiple versions of the game, and I am incapable of completing any stage beyond the easiest, Baby’s-First-Game level. I like Mr. Driller, but I do not understand him. I suck at it, but the game is good.

F1 Races

Aside from playing host to obscure video games, video game collections, and queer literature, the Internet Archive also has a bunch of racing on it! Looking around, it has Grand Prix’s dating all the way back to the late 80s, the incredibly exciting time where you got to see the rivalry between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna unfold, to the modern day, with its current attitude of “we are literally a sports manga now.” That’s awesome.

The Archive also has episodes of the Netflix documentary Drive To Survive. My introduction to F1 was a YouTube video on a gaming channel that I’m subbed to, but for normal people, this show is what got people invested in the sport of Auto Racing. Granted, reality television is a complete work, but at least this is a good work. There’s a video on YouTube that I would recommend as a supplemental material for DTS. F1 Racing is pretty cool, and you should at least watch Drive To Survive if you don’t have the patience for a longer 2-3 hour race.

Looking at more trans zines

Given recent events and me writing a big angry post telling TERFS to go die, I thought I would go back into looking up old trans publications. But rather than look at old magazines that showed off queer happiness with outdated terminology, I was looking for something angry. I went back in time to the 90s, and the early 2000s. I wanted to compare and contrast the different eras, and I was not let down.

Here’s some weird, tru-scummy bull shit from the 80s. You can tell by reading this that there is this theme of, “you will never be a real woman.” Reading through, there’s this attempt at both-sidesing the concept of being trans. It does say that you should feel free to express your gender as you please, but also says that taking hormones is totally a crutch in the world of drag queens. There’s still the reiteration that trans women are simply cross-dressing men, this constant use of “he.” Cis gays are shown in pictorials having fun and enjoying life, while anyone on HRT is shown in pornographic spreads. Now, I most certainly do not have any objection to trans porn, but there is something being said when you have these polar opposites of “here are normal people” and “here are these weird, exotic freaks who only exist as a hole to park your actually functioning dick into.” It’s kind of bull shit.

Meanwhile, going back to TranSexpress in 1996, it’s very much a “fuck you, we’ll do what we want” style. There’s a few things in here that are a bit iffy, but again, it was ’96 and it was written and published in the UK, so I would be shocked if everyone involved with this publication weren’t round up and forced to witness cisnormative culture like that one scene in A Clockwork Orange until they weren’t trans anymore.

Going forward in time even more, to 2000. This next zine I found is honestly a complete heartbreaker. The reason why is because having read through it (or at least whatever parts survived the terrible Xerox job), it shows that nothing has changed in twenty-one years.

That sucks. This was 2000. We’re still going through this fucking performative, faux-leftist “Just Asking Questions,” I-Support-You-Until-I-Actually-See-One-Of-You shit. A few years ago, I said that people might support trans women as a concept, but will just as soon join in on our harassment and marginalization and assuming that every negative stereotype about us is true. As I very angrily put a couple posts ago, I’m kind of over it. Over these cis clowns thinking that we’re monsters, and also over all the fucking “pick me!” trannies that will gladly sell you out and throw you, not under the bus, but under a moving diesel train, and have the audacity to say, “nothing personal, just business” afterwards. Fuck off, let me enjoy my PS2 games and racing in peace.

I can at least be glad that, although shit still sucks, our voices have only gotten louder and angrier. We’ve gotten meaner and more aggressive. This is a trend that will only continue.

resident evil

I’ve spent this past weekend getting away from Namco stuff for a bit, and decided that it would be a good idea to play the original Resident Evil. Admittedly, I did so for reference purposes; I’ve mentioned in the past my inability to model humans in Blender, so I thought I would load the game up and see how Capcom did it. What was originally meant to be a five minute look-through turned into me playing, replaying, and unlocking every secret in the game. It wasn’t even out of nostalgia, as RE2 is the game that I know like the back of my hand, not this one. I don’t have much in the way of nostalgia for RE1. Not that I didn’t play it back in the day; of course I did, but I never got very far in it, and by the time I understood how Resident Evil worked as a game, it’s bigger and badder sequel was already out and available to rent at the Hollywood Video around the corner from my house.

Before I had even finished the game for the first time in many years, it had dawned on me: the original Resident Evil is still an absolute classic. Even now, over twenty years later, with numerous sequels, spin-offs, and easily the greatest video game remake ever in the time since, it is still a solid, well-designed game. But, in looking around online, that seems to be a minority opinion? It seems to be that the legacy of the original Resident Evil is simply bad voice acting, that horrible, horrible song in the second Director’s Cut, and little more than that. And that’s a shame. It’s a shame that something as great as this has more or less been reduced to “meme” status. Let me be clear going forward: this post is not a “defense” of Resident Evil 1. This post is a reminder that Resident Evil 1 is a tremendous piece of work.

There’s a term that gets thrown around a lot when talking about old video games: Hasn’t Aged Well. As someone who spends a lot of time writing about retro stuff, I obviously don’t agree with this. I do not believe that graphics, game mechanics, and level design age. Now, if a game has some questionable imagery or narrative regarding women, queers, or people of color, I can get behind saying that something has not aged well. For example, since I’m talking about this series, Resident Evil 5 has not aged well. In terms of actually playing the game, it’s about as solid and refined as any game, at least any of the post-RE4 action focused ones, in the series. However, as far as its depiction of Africa and Black people, though, it sucks. That has not aged well, and you can argue if it even actually aged in the first place. Otherwise, games don’t age, even if advances in technology and understanding of how games work improve upon them, they don’t age. It doesn’t matter if it’s Donkey Kong or Super Mario Odyssey, Mario still runs and jumps as well as he ever has, you know?

Resident Evil 1 is a game frequently labeled as not aging well. One would assume that it’s because of the reasons I mentioned earlier: the acting and the Dual Shock version’s terrible soundtrack, but no, it’s levied against the game’s tank controls and graphics. This is strange, considering that Resident Evil has always had tank controls, up until RE5; just because the games stopped using fixed camera angles does not suddenly mean that they stopped using tank controls too. Tank controls are fine, gamers, get over it. Graphics? Well, I guess that’s up to your personal tastes. I think they look great, especially the prerendered backgrounds. An unfortunate thing, but the days of games with prerendered backgrounds are over, and I’m sure it will never come back.

But there’s more to a game than how it plays. At worst, the mechanics in RE1 are serviceable. No, what really pushes/pushed Resident Evil and made it what it was was its narrative. Now, I get it: I can imagine that you, in 2021, find it laughable that the game that gave us “Jill Sandwich” and “Master of Unlocking” can be compelling from a storytelling standpoint. I mean, Resident Evil was originally not going to even have a story. I mentioned in my RE6 piece that the initial concept was cyborgs vs zombies in a two-player shooter. Then someone at Capcom hastily threw a story at the game, and it somehow managed to work.

found a translated version of that design artwork

This barely put-together story not only managed to compel you to see where things go (even if it was just to laugh at more bad acting), but also managed to make the game somewhat relatable. See, the thing is, while the characters are no longer cyborgs, they are all still highly-skilled super cops. The S.T.A.R.S team are all walking, talking super-heroes. I can’t relate to Chris Redfield as a person; hell, I can’t even relate to the “normal” cast members, like Leon Kennedy or Claire Redfield. Now while I can’t relate to the characters, I can relate to the situation that they are in: a major corporation with ties to the government doing shady things that are and will continue to get people killed, all in the name of money. The Umbrella Corporation kidnapped homeless people off the streets, and did cruel, inhumane experiments on them, resulting in the Hunters, Chimeras, and Lickers that you have to fight.

I have said it twice already, but I will repeat it: what makes Resident Evil scary, and therefore also good, is the knowledge that the creatures you are killing were once human. The fast moving, bipedal reptile about to rip your head off was once someone down on their luck, sleeping in an alley somewhere. The freakish insect thing on the ceiling birthing larvae and maggots could have once been someone struggling with a drug problem. I can’t relate to big guys punching boulders, but I can relate to being a person cast off by society. I can relate to Big Business fucking people lives up to line their pockets just a little bit more. It’s not zombie dogs bursting through a window that makes Resident Evil so terrifying, it’s the more mundane aspects of greed and a desire for power at any cost. A bunch of rich shitheads with a love of eugenics used other human beings as test subjects for their biological weapons, and eventually the entire world would feel the effects. Despite being a sci-fi/horror setting, it’s not too far-fetched to believe that a large company could very well end up doing the same in our world; how long until Tesla or SpaceX start working with the military (assuming that they aren’t already), or have their own weapons program? And it’s not like the US government hasn’t experimented on people in the past, what with forced sterilizations of Black and Latino women, testing nuclear weapons on their own soldiers, testing the side effects of drugs and pesticides in low-income neighborhoods, among other things. Only difference between them and Umbrella is that we don’t have a ten foot tall man infected by a giant worm and carrying a rocket launcher around, but the similarities are no less monstrous.

Resident Evil is a game about exploring a large, opulent mansion full of ostentatious decorations, and finding a horrible secret underneath it. The political commentary is as subtle as a drunkards’ punch. It’s about ironically casting you as a cop, while also telling you not to trust authority. Other games would feature government bailouts, corrupt police forces, and exploitation of people and resources. That is what makes the series so good, even when some of the games have been less than stellar. And that’s what makes Resident Evil 1 a timeless classic: it had a point and that point meant something. Yes, it does have a remake, which is also the absolute best remake in the history of video games. But even in the face of that remake, that does not change the fact that the original game is still amazing, and didn’t age a single day since 1996. The fact that it plays well enough, and the exploration and sense of progression make sense doesn’t hurt, either. At the very least, Resident Evil deserves to be recognized as something other than a meme, or Resident Evil 2’s prequel.

4/9/2021

There’s something that’s been bugging me for the last few weeks. I’ve mostly been hiding it, choosing to take subtle potshots on here, or in private group chats or something. But it has gotten to me a bit more in the past few days. Figured that, since this is my web site where I can say whatever I want, I’ll do so here, even if that violates my 2020 stance of trying to keep the vibes good and not cutting a fucking promo all the time.

Let me start this by letting everyone know: being transgender is the least interesting part about me. My gender is the most mundane, boring, uninteresting shit possible. Me being good at Tekken is more important than that. Me being an artist is more important. Me being informative, or funny, or the rare times where I sound smart is more important. It’s only a big deal because you got these fucking weirdos out there who want it to be one. These dumb motherfuckers who cannot wrap their head around the concept of a person not wanting to adhere to a strict, made up binary, and use that fear and anger to cause harm to others. Your fucking Singals, your Savages (no relation to me), your Greenwalds, your Wendigs, your Wheatons, your Jeminsins, your Harpers, your Jacksons, whatever. Assholes whose idea of a good time is to permanently ruin the good time of somebody else.

I mention those names, and not anyone who is full-on Alt-Right, because these are the people who bug me the most, as they will stab us in the back, while the Right will simply shoot us in the face. They are Cowards, with a capital C. Cowards who will say and do a bunch of transphobic shit, play the victim when called out on it, and then will act sad when trans people get run out of public life, or die way too young, or when some bull shit legislature that targets children gets passed, as if this will convince us all that they are our allies. Cowards who will call us every horrible thing imaginable and accuse us of the most heinous crimes a person can commit, then hide behind their own marginalized identity. I can’t be transphobic, I’m Gay! I’m Jewish! I’m Black! I’m Disabled! I’m this, that, and the other thing! My response to this is: yeah, so? Being a member of another discriminated group doesn’t suddenly preclude you from being a jerk. I don’t give a pass to Blaire White whenever she says something stupid and racist. I’m not letting Buck Angel slide every time he sucks up to ugly people who would rather blow his face off with the largest gun they can find. Their trans status does not suddenly make their bull shit okay. And your status doesn’t make it okay, either.

If they don’t hide behind the shield of their identities, then they post the trans pride flag, or say “Trans Rights Are Human Rights,” shortly after calling Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin a couple of flaming faggots (because that’s allyship). Trans Rights Are Human Rights. What a bunch of shit that is. Another version of “It Gets Better,” the most toothless, meaningless thing you can say, normally said by the most mealy-mouthed Z-Level celebrities only in it for the likes. The only time I’ve ever believed someone who said that shit out loud was when Nick Fucking Gage said it, and that’s because he is a man notorious for not giving a fuck, and saying whatever he wants.

These worthless motherfuckers post this “no really, I like ‘you people'” bull shit, while they call us pedophiles, rapists, neo-nazis, liars lying about the sexual assaults we’ve been through, accuse us of cheating at sports, attempting invasive surgery on five year olds, whatever. If you have ever talked about sex at any point in your life, you molest children (sorry, I meant: “if you use the term ‘sexually averse person,’ I’m going to assume you’re a predator”). If you write a work of fiction that can move people to tears upon reading it, you’re a cis white man using a pen name. If you calmly explain to these chickenshit losers that these accusations are false, that’s Mansplaining. If you tell them to go fuck themselves, that’s Male Violence. It’s fine if their glorified blog posts are sourced in bigoted legislature, but it is not fine to be mad at them for it. It’s fine if their harassment has caused you to be up until five in the morning in a Discord call, convincing their “justified” target that suicide isn’t the answer, all while said targets are still fielding death threats from Breitbart readers, in addition to their shit, but it’s not fine to tell you to go to hell for putting someone through that. You’re “just asking questions” and I’m just asking you to fucking die. Now, wishing death upon those who would do the same, even if they don’t have the balls to outright say it, may sound extreme. If that does sound extreme, you can go fuck yourself too. I don’t need a bunch of wavering neolibs looking at me or my work. I hope these fucking losers stop living sooner rather than later.

I simply wish to go through life on my own terms. I want to play video games. I want to watch wrestling. I want to watch racing. I want to watch an*me. I want to make things that look cool. I want to do cool shit until my time is up. But no, no, I have to be forced into a position where I have to be an “activist.” I have to argue for my own right to exist, something nobody should have to fucking do. I don’t even like talking about gender anymore, but I fucking have to!

These sacks of human garbage have undeservedly put so many of us through hell, and they get rewarded for it. They get gainful employment by stoking the flames of hate, all while trying to play both sides like the world’s worst spy. They get those Star-Bellied Sneetches check marks. Hundreds of thousands of idiots look at them like a bunch of rocket scientists, when each and every one of them are dumber than me after taking half a Benadryl, or taking a couple long inhales of some Double Scorpio. The fact that these motherfuckers are alive and successful, while so many of us need to beg the internet for enough money to have dinner tonight, is all the proof I need to know that there is no such thing as God.

The fact is, these heartless monsters, these transphobic losers, with their sad little lives and no real friends other than the alt-right bigots they’re too afraid to acknowledge, are pathetic. They have no fucking talent. They can’t write. They can’t act. They’re dumber than a fucking rock. They’re ugly as fuck. They can’t create anything with any beauty to it. They are utterly worthless, and society is frankly much better off without them. If at least one of them dropped dead tomorrow (and I fucking hope so), good fucking riddance. I do not dislike you. I do not despise you. I hate you. I hate all of you for what you have put me through. I hate all of you for what you have put my friends through. I hate all of you for what you have put people I’ve never even met or heard of through. I hate all of you for what you are putting literal children through, all while trying to paint us as the child predators. I’m 34 years old, and I have gray hair that is only getting grayer by the day, and I will blame you gutless transphobic cowards for that.

I spent years doubting myself. Spent years wondering who I was; if I had any actual talent, or if people were blowing smoke up my ass because they were too nice to tell me I sucked. Whether or not you think I’m actually great is up to your opinion, but I can at least hang my hat on the fact that I’m better than all these clowns. Me at my worst is better than anyone I took shots at at the beginning of this post at their best. Me writing a post talking about how good Tower of Druaga is is far more valuable to the human race than any easily debunked, non-researched gender science. Me talking about a bad porn game on the Sega Saturn serves a bigger use than a shitty sex column. Poetry that I spent a week on has more views and more sales than their bad fucking Star Wars fanfic, I guess people are more interested in what I have to say than your concept of Luke Skywalker flippity-booping and skapappa-blabbing across the galaxy. Me playing fighting games on Twitch, even when I lose, is more entertaining than you trying to convince everyone that Overwatch is still worth playing in 2021. And so on.

You, The Girl Reading This, I don’t know who you are, but I will say this: if you are a trans girl doubting yourself, I can guarantee that you are better creator and a better person. I won’t say “it gets better” or any other useless platitudes, because I don’t think you’re an idiot, but I will say that you continuing to exist now, even when shit is fucking bleak, is pretty cool, dude. Despite what society or your brain may tell you, you are not better off dead. Society would be, but not you.

One final thing before I wrap up this disorganized rant. The last couple of weeks, I’ve heard about two trans women dying. Dying prematurely. I didn’t know them, didn’t even know who they were until the news broke. And while I didn’t know them, people who I talk to or follow did, and the news destroyed them. I don’t have to know a person to think it sucks when someone’s life ends way too soon when it absolutely shouldn’t have. But the one thing that I was able to take solace in was the knowledge that in death, their lives were celebrated. I can take solace in knowing that when we are dead, people will miss us. People will remember us. These fuckhead TERFs will not be missed or remembered beyond the monsters they were. In death, people will celebrate their deaths. And I will say this: if you are a worthless TERF, I guarantee that, no matter what it takes, or what I have do, I will outlive you. If I have to run on pure spite for thirty years, so be it. But I will outlive you. Once I do, I will find out where you are buried, and I will piss on your graves. Fuck you.

the pc-engine is god’s favorite console, part 3

I’ve spent this past week dealing with the aftermath of being bitten by the Namco bug. If I’m not playing an old Namco arcade game, I’m playing an entry in the Namco Museum series, or I’m playing Tekken 7, or I’m playing Ridge Racer 7. Turns out, at risk of sounding like I’m fangirling over a major corporation, I just really like Namco stuff. I like Namco stuff bad enough to spend actual money on the free-to-play Pac-Man 99. Worth it.

Namco also made a bunch of games for the PC-Engine, God’s Favorite Video Game Entertainment System. 25 to be precise. Thought I’d cover a few here.

Genpei Toumaden- Kan no Ni/Samurai Ghost (US Name)

I’ve written about Genpei Toumaden before. Multiple times. It’s a strange, frustrating, tedious, awesome, wonderful, amazing game that pisses me off and also kicks ass. It also got a sequel exclusive to the PC-Engine. Kan no Ni takes place entirely in “Big Mode” from the first game; large, individually animated sprites getting into sword fights with each other. There’s no more platform-based “Small Mode,” or the overhead transitional levels where you could change your progression route. There’s no more worrying about keeping your sword sharp, so you can swing and hit as many rocks and armored enemies as you want. There’s no more dealing with the underworld and Enma-Daioh if you fall down a pit. Money has a significantly reduced use. It’s all action with mild platform navigation. Kan no Ni is a much more focused, straight-forward game as a result.

The weird thing about that is that it is both a better and worse game as a result. Better in that it’s arguably a better game to play, having less bull shit to deal with and worry about before you make it to the end of the game. But it is worse in the sense that Genpei Toumaden’s personality is gone, leaving a game that looks cool and plays fairly well, but it’s not the same. The original game was fucking weird, even by the standards of skee-whoa wacky Japan, and was awesome for it. It was like playing someone’s fucked up dream. What made it, and other Namco of the era by extension, so great was that these were all games that looked simple to play, but were all weird as fuck, and had all this cool hidden shit underneath the surface; Genpei Toumaden had hidden levels where the development team would pop up and leave you a message, for example. Even when you found everything the game had to offer, explored every route and every variation of those routes, is still feels like there is more that players have yet to discover. I love that. I love games that can maintain a sense of mystery despite literally decades of having been blown wide open. Kan no Ni doesn’t have this. It is extremely cut and dry, and again, while it is a good game, it’s not the same experience. It’s too normal. That being said, it’s still worth trying out. I mean, it’s still a pretty good game to play, but not a good one to experience.

Bravoman

Bravoman is a port of an arcade game that really isn’t all that good. It still maintains that sense of Namco Weirdness, with its control set up using six-buttons like a fighting game, dedicated to how far you punch and how high you jump, and generally looking weird and having animation that is way too fluid for its own good. It plays like shit, but it’s maybe worth checking out in MAME for a couple levels.

The PC-Engine port? Whoa, that is its own animal. It’s more or less the same, in terms of level design. No, where Bravoman shines is that it looks, sounds, and plays like it’s a bootleg; as if some pirates took Galaxian hardware (a once-popular arcade board to make bootlegs from) and made an ill-executed attempt at a mascot game. Namco is and was a company with a lot of money. They have some of the best artists in the business under their employ. A number of their games from the 80s and 90s look good today, and it’s funny that Bravoman is as ugly and low-tech as it is. I don’t bring any of this up as a complaint, mind you. I love it! I love how Bravoman looks so incredibly amateurish!

I love Bravoman’s aesthetic because it gives off this chaotic energy that I love about video games. This concept of simply making shit. Does it look like shit? Yes. Does it play even worse? Oh yeah, you better believe it. Does any of this matter, as the game itself is at least an interesting mess? Fuck no! Bravoman is Kusoge to the max. It is dogshit, and it is amazing. Punch a telephone box in stage one, and it talks to you. If you keep punching your ally who delivers health-restoring rice balls, he will get mad and actually stop showing up at the end of stages. It’s the little details. It’s a damn shame Bravoman hasn’t been seen in any games since, at least outside of Namco x Capcom, a game that deserves either a re-release outside of Japan, or a fan translation that isn’t absolutely unreadable bull shit.

Tower of Druaga

Unlike the sequels and ports so far, Tower of Druaga on PC-Engine is a full fledged remake of the original arcade game. Back when the word “remake” meant something other than “95% of 2021’s release calendar.” Here’s the thing: Druaga is one of those games, like Hydlide, that is absolutely beloved in Japan, and thoroughly hated over here. And like Hydlide, I fucking love Tower of Druaga. Yes, the game is obtuse. Yes, the first two floors are an absolutely slow-ass drag. I don’t care, Tower of Druaga is amazing. It’s my favorite game in Namco Museum Volume 3, I love the Game Boy version, it’s my current “theme” in Pac-Man 99, and it’s my favorite game in this post.

Aside from updating the art, Druaga PCE, as I will call it, because I do not want to type out “Tower of Druaga PC-Engine Version” over and over, made a couple quality of life changes. The first one is that the default walking speed has been increased, meaning that you don’t have to find the hidden treasure chest in level 2 to move at a faster speed than a story being told by Grandpa Simpson. The other change is that you get a cryptic hint at the beginning of every level. For those who have not played Tower of Druaga, most levels would have a secret treasure chest. In order to actually finish the game, you needed a specific set of items that could only be acquired through these chests. To actually find said chests, you would have to do any number of things: killing certain enemies, standing still for five seconds, hitting a wall, walking in specific and unmarked parts of the level, taking damage, all sorts of things. Of course, the original game never actually told you that these chests existed, let alone how to find them. This led to communities forming in arcades, as players would try to find the solution to any given level, and share these secrets in notebooks and such. But obviously, because Druaga PCE is a console game pre-internet, you can’t really not be that obtuse to the player. At least not without also being a tremendous dickhead.

Much as I love the original Druaga, it is a pain to have to have notes nearby while I play, because I don’t have the capacity to remember how to find secrets in 60 fucking levels, so Druaga PCE is sometimes the better alternative. Plus it has something the other versions of the game don’t have: HARDCORE NUDITY!!

nanja monja…

I’ve been a bit back-handed about the other two games in this post, but I am telling you right now: Play Fucking Druaga PCE. Definitely among the best Namco games on the system, and one of the better games on the system in general. It was never officially released in English, but there is a good fan translation that you can find pretty easily by clicking here.

That’s it for this one. I’ll come back to the PC-Engine again soon enough. Until then.

resident evil 6: a great game presented badly

Something that may come as a shock to the readers of this site: I enjoy playing video games. After sitting down and putting some thought to it, of the video games I enjoy, I’ve realized that my favorite series is Resident Evil. I love all of them, and even have a soft spot for the bad ones. Resident Evil 6 is widely considered a bad one. It’s even arguably considered to be the worst one. The purpose of this post is to both agree with this assessment, and also wildly disagree with it. This sounds confusing, I know. Do I like Resident Evil 6? Do I hate Resident Evil 6? The answer is yes.

I think I should start by talking about the context in which RE6 was made and exists in. RE6 came about during a weird time in Capcom’s history; actually, a weird time in Japanese game industry history. The “HD” era, with the success of the XBox 360, and the belated success of the PS3. Suddenly, games became bigger, more expensive to make, took longer to make, and in some cases, were harder to make. The old ways of coding a game engine from scratch, then building a game around it was not sustainable, and middleware sources like Unreal didn’t have resources for Japanese developers to use. At the same time, there was this really shitty, uncomfortable time in games “journalism” (ALWAYS TAKING SHOTS AT GAMES JOURNOS FUCK YOU) where you had multiple (white, male) critics putting the Japanese industry on blast. The Japanese were always second place to “The West.” A single level in Gears of War was now considered better than an entire decade of another countries’ output. Final Fantasy XIII was literally the worst game of all time. You had guys like Phil Fish feeling emboldened enough to tell Japanese devs, to their faces, “your games suck.” Basically, there was a time where people were paid cash money to say, “white people are better at making games than the Japanese.” It sucked.

Now, when you are a Japanese game developer, even one as large as Capcom, you still need that international exposure and acclaim, since that also equals money. As such, there were a lot of games that were made specifically so that Americans, especially those who were crying at the ending of fucking Fallout 3 of all things, would like them. I hate to say it, but a lot of these were not very good; I might be a big fan/apologist for From Software, but I’m not going to pretend that Ninja Blade was anything more than a terrible idea. To their credit, Capcom did end up taking this whole situation and making RE6’s prequel, Resident Evil 5. RE5 was huge. It was (still is) impressive on a graphical level. It had online co-op (also forgot: this was during a time where you had professional clown/thin-skinned transphobe Adam Sessler asking, “does it have online co-op?” to literally every developer at E3) It was a loud, explosive shooter staring a buff dude with guns. It was racist as fuck. All the things that could ever appeal to Americans, it did.

look, i fucking love resident evil, but i’m not going to pretend that this was ever okay.

And…it worked! It was Capcom’s highest selling game ever, up until the release of Monster Hunter World. While Capcom was counting their money, there was a subset of fans that wished for Resident Evil to “return to form.” Go back to the days when Resident Evil was only kind of an over-the-top action game, rather than a full-blown Michael Bay movie. Bring back the horror.

Now, this post is already sort of a 600 word aside, but I think I need to take one more: Resident Evil has ALWAYS been an action game. Silent Hill is a horror game. Resident Evil is a series where highly-trained super cops use a rocket launcher to blow up a large, hulking monster. Hell, the original concept for Resident Evil 1 was a two-player co-op shooter where you played as cybernetically-enhanced soldiers shooting at zombies created by a mad scientist. It has always been fucking stupid. This is one of the reasons why I love it.

GELZER

Anyways, enough ranting. People wanted either “horror” or, like me, more emphasis on exploring a large building and having to worry about ammo. Keep in mind, despite RE5’s popularity, the world at large was still very much in “Fuck Japan” mode. The only thing that had changed during the development time of RE6 was that the world went into “Fuck Japan, except for Dark Souls, which is now the only game that has ever existed” mode. Capcom was still aiming for acceptance, like this large company was a bullied, unloved child.

ACTUALLY TALKING ABOUT RESIDENT EVIL 6 NOW

The thing about Resident Evil 6, and why it got so fucking ravaged in reviews, is simple: it wanted to do everything, and accomplished nothing. It wanted the old-school style of looking for keys and emblems to fit into perfectly shaped holes. But it also wanted the frenetic action of RE5. But it also wanted a combination of the two, while you were being chased by a large, invincible monster like in RE2 and RE3. It wanted to be a big fan-servicey thing that brought back old beloved characters. But it also wanted to bring in a whole host of new characters to lead Resident Evil into the next generation.

As a result of this, RE6 is all over the place. There’s no real identity. Leon Kennedy’s story campaign involves methodically searching for keys while shooting a large horde of zombies in-between. Chris Redfield’s campaign is straight up Call of Duty but now with zombies (wait, fuck). Sherry Birkin’s campaign is a combination of the two, but now you have to contend with being stalked by something that looks like a 90s Image Comics character. Even with all these differences, they all meld into bang-bang shooty game by the end. Now, I’m not someone who has an aversion to shooters, or even games that are repetitive, but the thing about RE6 is that it does all these in a really boring way. Levels are not very well designed, and the set pieces are really generic and cliched. Doesn’t help that each campaign is about a million hours long. Right, RE6’s length is fucking ridiculous; in the time it takes to get half-way through a single campaign, you could finish about two actual Resident Evil games. It’s way too long, way too boring, and the story itself sucks so bad.

The thing about Resident Evil is that no matter how ridiculous it got, or how simplistic its delivery is, it was consistent. There really wasn’t a whole lot in the way of plot holes. At its heart, Resident Evil is a commentary on capitalistic greed and the fallout of Unit 731. It’s about a corporation that performs cruel experiments on people, and get away with it because they have friends in high places. Resident Evil 6 says fuck all this. Fuck it, Wesker has an adult son who inherited his super-strength, even though the timeline of events doesn’t match up (his son Jake was born in 1992, and Wesker didn’t inject and then gain his T-Virus abilities until 1998), let alone Wesker actually settling down to have a child with someone in the first place. There are now secret societies that run the world like supervillains, rather than the much more relatable story of “big corporation does shitty thing that kills people.” It’s a lot easier to hate Tesla and Amazon than the Illuminati. Ada Wong has a clone now, solely created because Evil Illuminati Man responsible for everything going to shit in RE6 was horny for her, and she told him no. Yes, really. A viral outbreak occurs in three different parts of the world because an incel couldn’t take rejection. At least the body horror element that Resident Evil is so good at is still very much awesome here. When I complained about the RE2 Remake, I mentioned that killing things that were once human or animal is where the real horror lies.

These new characters are also pretty bad too. You have Jake, the aforementioned son of Wesker, who fills the role of “bald white guy who makes wisecracks” that every fucking game of the era needed. There’s Piers Nivans, the closest thing to a good character, as he was originally created for a Resident Evil manga, and therefore had effort put in to give him a personality and a design that isn’t dogshit. Then there’s Helena Harper. Fuck me, she is bad. Someone at Capcom really needed a character that managed to be both a complete idiot and a complete bitch at once. She spends a good chunk of the game acting untrustworthy, being evasive around Leon, while also lecturing and chastising him for stopping to help people. It’s clear that Helena knows more than a few things about the current viral outbreak, but refuses to straight up tell Leon “hey, some high-ranking dudes in the government are experimenting on people, including my sister,” despite that fact that she knows who Leon is, and therefore knows that he has dealt with the threat of bio-terrorism at least twice already. So she goes this whole time looking guilty as fuck, but then still telling Leon off for pulling a zombie off an elderly woman. It makes no sense.

Really, that’s all there is to it to RE6’s campaign. It’s long, boring, and badly written. An attempt at pleasing everyone that ultimately pleased nobody.

Now, you might be reading this and thinking, “okay Ramona, you said in the title that Resident Evil 6 was good. What the fuck?” This is where the second part of my critique comes in.

You see, Capcom royally fucked up here. They put all this attention and marketing towards this bull shit story that sucks. Understandably, a lot of players and reviewers would have given up during the story or after finishing it. The Resident Evil 6 Campaign is bad, true. But there is a tab on the main menu called “Extra Content.” This is where RE6 shines.

RE6’s Mercenaries mode is not only the best iteration of that mode in the entire series, it easily could have been sold as its own half-priced digital title, and been a great game by itself. What fucking kills me here is that there are entire game mechanics at play here that you can go through the entire campaign never actually using. Running, diving, melee, counter attacking. Every character is different in some way, whether it be loadout or ability. The story is designed to be this shitty third-person cover-based shooter, while Mercenaries is this frenetic, intense arcade game that encourages you to be directly in the face of the enemy, taking the fight to them in order to build that combo meter and raise that high score, all set to this pulse-pounding jam. You could be forgiven for not knowing there was a third melee finisher in the game, because the main game sure as fuck wasn’t going to tell you.

No joke, I dedicated an entire Summer to playing Mercenaries. I would come home from work, load up the PS3, and kill zombies with a rando for a good few hours. It is a very compelling mode. This experience alone made up for the million hour story that I had to suffer through to get a few of the unlockables.

And it’s not just Mercs, either. The other extra modes are well worth the cost of the game. Sucks that they were originally paid DLC. I don’t have any screenshots of them, as trying to find people playing RE6 online in 2021 is uhh, impossible. Onslaught Mode is the best of the non-Merc bunch, as it is Competitive Mercenaries. It’s Resident Evil, with the mechanics of a Puyo Puyo or a Twinkle Star Sprites; shooting shit, and making more shit appear on your opponents’ screen. Versus Mode is…not so great, as I don’t think Resident Evil is designed around PvP. Predator mode is pretty cool: a 5v1 versus mode where the 1 is Ustanak, the super-powered monster that chases Sherry and Jake. Siege mode is fun if you’re the kind of person who liked Left 4 Dead’s Versus mode, as it is more or less literally that: a team of protagonists vs a team of the game’s standard enemies. I used to get up pretty early in the morning and play Siege with Japanese players, before starting my day. That was a great experience, as you got to have fun with a bunch of people that weren’t yelling out racial slurs and (never an “or”) being shit at the game. A middle-aged Japanese woman yelling out encouragement while you’re on the verge of a comeback is an experience and a memory I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

forgot that the campaign literally does the dead space “button to tell you where to go” thing

That’s what’s so fucked about RE6. There is a great game here, but it is hidden behind a massive wall of bull shit. You have this terribly thought-out digital checklist of shit that will appeal to the mainstream that absolutely fails, which will then turn off people from wanting to see what is one of the best meta-games of the last generation lying beneath the surface. It’s sad. I was thinking about playing with players in Japan, and the occasional non-dickhead here in the states, and got sad. A lot of people never got to experience that, and seeing as how the most recent version of RE6 is a garbage port for the Switch, they probably never will. And that’s the biggest tragedy of all.