Lowering The Bar (Guest Article)

This article was written by Jack Wade, who contacted me by email. Since I’ve written a whole book studying the careful forethought given to MGS2’s polarizing writing and design choices I find it invigorating to see a good old fashioned trashing of the man behind the legend. Although Jack clearly hasn’t read my book, which accounts for many of the strange disparities he points out about MGS2’s development, he makes a compelling case for not accepting Kojima as some literary genius — especially in the vein of the usual fanbase, who all seem to have blinders on when discussing the series. He casts doubt on the purported complexity behind it all. Since first proposing the VR Theory and fleshing out the metanarrative analysis of the series, I’ve watched the community slowly absorb the positive ideas I put forward about Kojima, but reject the unflattering side of the analysis. They don’t debate it, they just reject things they don’t want to hear. Ironic, of course. I much prefer people like Jack Wade, willing to step up and make the discussion more interesting.


There is no such thing as a clean and simple discussion of the Metal Gear series and it is the fault of a singular entry within it. Metal Gear Solid 2 had some of the most jarring idiosyncrasies, not just in its own world, but among fans of the franchise. If Metal Gear just skipped over MGS2, tweaked MGS4 to match the changes, and then proceeded normally, it would be another unremarkable series with a very high bar set by its opening iteration that just gets worse over time much like Deus Ex or StarCraft.

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Switch’s online service becomes fatally flawed

I love my Switch, but Nintendo’s online service has quickly gone from “acceptable” to “lousy” with the announcement that crucial games will prevent cloud saving.

I’ve come to terms with paid multiplayer to some extent. Withholding multiplayer behind a paywall is arguably worth the effect it has: reducing annoying casual/kid players you meet online and increasing server quality, in theory. It can pressure gamers into coming back and playing more often because they know that they’re subscribed to the service, too, which means a more active player base. But the other features are lackluster to begin with. Old NES games with hacked in multiplayer components, online save storage, and unspecified discounts. If they included SNES games in that list it would be a different story. No virtual console? No universal purchase library? No voice chat (except through your smartphone)? These are not easy to overlook.

But now, with the bizarre decision to disable online save storage for Dark Souls and Pokemon Let’s Go, Nintendo has officially dropped the ball. Their explanation makes no sense, claiming that it can theoretically be abused. Regarding the non-exclusive titles being affected, look at this quote from the Game Informer article:

It is worth noting that all of these games support cloud saves on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.

While Pokémon Let’s Go can be explained away as The Pokémon Company’s often overbearing paranoia and a desire to drive business to the cloud-based Pokémon Bank subscription service, the other included examples do not make much sense.

A couple of assholes are going to exploit your online save functionality (if you don’t structure it in a way that prevents this) so now everybody has to suffer? Online saves are 100% about increasing the value of your Switch purchase by making it a little less painful to replace one if it breaks, and having your whole library’s progress backed up is essential, especially for something as in-depth and time consuming as Pokemon or Dark Souls.

Those NES ROMs had better be amazing.

First Impression: Octopath Traveler

Few games have caught my attention the way that Octopath Traveler did when it was announced. Coming from any other studio, for any other system, it may have been different. But a Square Enix RPG exclusively for the Nintendo Switch sounds to me like the Promised Land I was hoping we would see. The best case scenario for the Switch is exactly this: a blurring of console and handheld, where scale and scope don’t matter nearly as much as variety and purpose. From the moment you see it, Octopath Traveler assures you that the Switch will uphold Nintendo’s tradition of supporting colorful, unique, mid-sized games (mostly from Japan) that would be lost in the shuffle if they were released on a regular console. Yes you can have Xenoblade Chronicles 2 for the Switch in all of its 3D glory, but you can also have a text-menu-sprite-turn-and-grind JRPG that feels like the 1990’s again. These kinds of games don’t need to break the mold. They need to satisfy an appetite that very few people are catering to.

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The Next-Gen Half-Step Streaming War Begins (New podcasts!)

Despite putting up my E3 2018 podcast just two days ago, I decided that I wanted to do another one to talk about the Steam Link App, my next-gen industry analysis article, and the hilarious ways that VR is trying to create a killer app. As you’ll hear when you listen to it, I go further into the reason why I predicted that the next generation of consoles were going to use streaming game services as their big selling point. However, I could never have predicted that this morning — right as I was preparing to upload the episode and publish this article — news broke that PlayStation Now is gearing up for a major rehaul.

Listen to the E3 podcast now (Episode 004)

Listen to the streaming/VR podcast now (Episode 005)

Read on for more discussion and proof that my prediction was dead-on correct…

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Why Xbox is moving towards streaming

Last week I sat down with my brother and tried to calculate — through sheer analysis — what Microsoft would do at this E3.

I didn’t post any of it online, so I can’t claim any victory points for it, but after a few hours of discussing the state of the industry, along with Xbox’s past, present, and possible futures, I concluded that Microsoft was going to announce a new generation of Xbox consoles and push streaming as their next big move. Today Phil Spencer confirmed that Xbox is going to push a streaming service, and new hardware. Turns out my prediction was 100% correct.

Here’s how I reached my conclusion.

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The podcast returns! Episode 001 is right here

We’re bringing it back. Rather than small posts about various topics scattered here and there, or the newsletter, we’re just gonna keep it comfy and simple with SoundCloud podcasts that you can follow on that site. Check out the first episode here, back in all its glory.

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