Review: Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

Developer: ILCA
Publisher: Nintendo, The Pokémon Company
Genre: Turn-based RPG
Rating: Everyone
Platform:
 Nintendo Switch

“Old fans would not want us to mess with their good memories… but there is no point in just redoing the same thing, right?”

GameFreak President, Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver

It’s plain to see what approach was taken this time around. Because as it is, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl (hereafter BDSP) may be the most predictable game I’ve ever played. At this point, the Pokémon franchise has pretty much cornered the market on those who like their games completely non-surprising.

Let’s go, Brandon!

This review almost saddens me to write, because I had some fond memories of the original Diamond and Pearl. It seems I’m far from the only one, as gamers have been calling for Sinnoh remakes since the well-received Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. While nostalgia is a selling point for Pokémon remakes, the previous remakes cultivated an expectation of an upgraded experience, not simply a retread. Up until the Let’s Go games, the remakes were usually done in a style similar to the most recent core Pokémon games at that point, and they usually included tweaks to the gameplay, and elements that weren’t in the originals. Considering this, it should be understandable that the Sinnoh remakes would have the same approach. But it wasn’t the case for BDSP.

Pokémon Diamond and Pearl were really early to the whole smart watch dealie.

I often start reviews with a brief, non-spoilery synopsis of the game’s plot, but in this case, it’s easy enough to guess the story direction for BDSP. A trainer starts out in a small town, and after picking from among three starter pokémon, the trainer embarks on a quest to obtain 8 gym badges, with intermittent interruptions from a team of bad guys, culminating in a showdown with the Elite Four, then the Champion. The story is the same as it was for the originals, so if you’ve played Diamond or Pearl before, then BDSP will have pretty much no surprises for you.

When it comes down to it, BDSP are almost straight ports of Diamond and Pearl, with some elements from Pokémon Platinum, but some upgrades to the production values.

But not by much.

For some reason, ILCA decided to go with a chibi graphical style for the overworld models that are reminiscent of Nendoroids.

Believe it or not, this was already a thing.

I was initially skeptical but open-minded about this, but in execution, these chibi Nendoroid models leave much to be desired, especially when the games do a dramatic zoom-in, which happens often.

Watch out, here comes Team Galactic to teach you some respect!

When these extreme close-ups happen, the jaggies and aliasing on these character models becomes really apparent, and the result is so cringy that I’ve found myself wishing that ILCA didn’t bother with them.

Interestingly, ILCA is short for ”I Love Computer Art”.

She’s not the only one.

The music tracks are on point, and while that’s normally a great thing, that brings up the question of why two different aspects of production so starkly differ in quality. This dissonance becomes more apparent when you see that the in-battle scenes look current-gen, complete with proportionate anime-style character models. Why couldn’t they have done the whole game with these models?

This is not Sword or Shield.

I’m going to come right out and say it: BDSP seem incomplete. To the point that I actually closed the game to check to see that I was playing with the day one update, which I was (1.1.1). It’s hard to believe that this was a full-price professional product, let alone the latest core installment to the single highest-grossing intellectual property of all time.

Smol Gyarados.

Yes, that following Gyarados is undersize, and that seems intentional. But for some reason, it spawned on that thin log. Who else is looking forward to what the glitch hunters are going to find?

As far as gameplay goes, BDSP is pretty much a classic-style turn-based RPG. There was less call for that to be messed with than anything else, so maybe it’s not bad that ILCA didn’t do much to tamper with it. Each turn, attacks are selected, then the pokémon take turns executing their attacks, with the ones with higher speed getting priority. There are many complex gameplay elements that can alter the flow of battle, and many players formulate their strategies based on these. Usually, a player that can exploit an opponents type weaknesses will have a significant advantage, but different offensive and defensive stats introduce an element of complexity that sometimes makes the best play unclear. As is the case in most installments in this series, the flow of battle can change drastically due to a variety of buffs and debuffs.

But hey, you may have already known how to play Pokémon already, especially if you’re in this game’s target audience. Even if you don’t, getting though most of the game will be pretty simple, especially now that the EXP system rewards all pokémon in the party, not just the one that did the battling. Yes, like just about any other RPG.

If you’re great at competitive Pokemon, college may not present you with much of a challenge.

I know that I’m not being greedy when I say that I wish that ILCA did more to mess with the experience that I remember. The Hoenn remakes did include soaring, which wasn’t in the original, and the Let’s Go games had mega evolution. Would the addition of a similar mechanic to a Sinnoh remake have been too much to ask?

I enjoyed the Sinnoh Underground in the originals, and I’m happy with the experience this time around. I’m okay with how relatively little they’ve messed with the experience of digging up treasures. What’s more, there are mini-biomes in the underground which, upon their discovery, increases the variety of pokémon available to the player. If players find, catch, and use pokémon that weren’t part of the typical walkthrough of the originals, that counts as a somewhat changed experience, right?

I suspect that the nurse was the one that polished the floor.

It’s really hard to imagine who I’d recommend this game to. If someone is already a Pokémon fan, then they’ll likely have already played Diamond, Pearl, or their original remake, Platinum. If someone is one of the people left who haven’t, BDSP isn’t likely to impress them. If someone is such a Pokémon fanatic that they’re determined to buy them anyway, they’re not likely to change their minds based on anyone’s recommendations.

So, who is this game for? It’s really hard to say, which factors well into Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl’s score of 6 out of 10.

Remastered music, updated graphics, and some gimmicks that don’t do much to the core experience. There’s your TL;DR.

Pokémon is Not As Childish As It Looks

The idea that Pokémon is a childish game has been around for quite some time. It’s a superficial observation, which does hold up to an extent. But some of the themes of the Pokémon games are quite a bit darker than they get credit for.

Let’s examine some of the themes of each generation of games, one at a time.

Generation One (Kanto)
Shows how casino gambling can be used to fund genetic engineering experiments which culminate in a psychotic, telekinetic battling machine.

While Team Rocket were certainly the bad guys in raiding the corporate offices of Silph Co., let’s not forget that Silph was developing a proprietary PokeBall that bypasses the will of a Pokémon and guarantees its capture.

Generation Two (Johto)
Team Rocket cut off the tails of Slowpoke to sell for profit.

Later, in what can be called a TI’s paranoid delusion having come to fruition, electromagnetic waves were employed that literally drove certain creatures within its area of effect berserk. If all you know about Team Rocket is the buffoonery of Jessie, James and Meowth, you’re not getting the whole story.

Generation Three (Hoenn)
We get to see both sides of the climate change extremes.

With the Hoenn remakes (Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire) came a postgame episode that showed all of Hoenn being threatened by an impending meteor impact. The Devon corporation proposed teleporting the meteor to an alternate dimension, where it would strike a different Hoenn region in a different timeline, instead. Yeah, for an alternate Hoenn region, it could have been death from above, with no warning and no way to respond.

Generation Four (Sinnoh)
Hoo, boy. This one is a whopper. Where to begin?

The bad guys resemble a sci-fi cult. Like many cults, the group exists for the aspirations of its leader. Cyrus doesn’t share his true motives with the rest of Team Galactic, which involves wiping out the entire universe then replacing it with an emotionless universe governed by Cyrus. Grandiose, much?

In the anime, Cyrus meets his end when he’s killed by Giratina. If you don’t know what a Giratina is, it’s a Lovecraftian monstrosity that was banished to a different dimension for it’s violence. Considering what animals in this world do just to stay alive, to be so violent to end up banished to another dimension for it is quite a feat. And judging from the condition of the Distortion World, Giratina might not have learned its lesson.

Generation Five (Unova)
The theme of this one is philosophical, but goes to show that the popularity of an idea can cause people to give up something that’s clearly to their benefit to keep. Behind it all is a cultist who stands to benefit from everyone else giving up their Pokémon, and he actually came up with a plan to change society, first through persuasion, then through peer pressure. When his plan fell apart, he pretty much went insane, even as far as railing against his adopted son, and not accepting that he lost.

In the sequel game of gen 5, the bad guy attempts to murder the main character.

Generation Six (Kalos)
Are you sitting down? You might want to. The bad guy wanted to wipe out all humanity, except for whoever happened to be in his little team, with the Malthusian reasoning that there wasn’t enough resources to go around. Like many who think like that, he’s as enthusiastic as he was because he fantasized about being the one to manage all the world’s resources.

In the anime, Lysandre became one of the few humans to have been killed by a Pokémon, when he was killed by Zygarde (Bonnie’s friend Squishy shared in the guilt). It’s hard to imagine anyone shed a tear for him, but Malva might have. She was Lysandre’s girlfriend, and a TV anchor. So yeah, in Kalos, a Malthusian infiltrated the tech industry and the mainstream information media. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Generation Seven (Alola)
As much as I’d like to say that things cooled down since gen 6, gen 7 depicts a monolithic corporation endangering two universes for selfish reasons. Then there’s all that Lillie had to go through. That poor girl watched in slow motion as her family was torn apart, first when her father disappeared, then when her mother went insane looking for the ultra beasts, then when her brother ran away from home. In the original Sun/Moon, Lusamine ended up in an intermittent coma due to the cells of Nihilego remaining in her brain, and Lillie went to Kanto to search for a cure. If Lillie grows up to be normal it’s going to be against some pretty steep odds.

The Ultra variants of Sun and Moon have a postgame story where Giovanni enlists the bad guys from different regions, from different grimdark timelines where those bad guys succeeded in their plans. Considering how screwed up some of their plans were (see above), that’s a lot to contemplate.

Generation Eight (Galar)
The bad guy imprisoned a cosmic dragon, and slowly tore it apart, one fragment at a time, to continually extract energy from it. By the time the player encountered the thing, it was nearly a skeleton of its former self. What’s more, the bad guy was willing to risk a catastrophe for the entire Galar region, just to solve an energy crisis that would have been centuries away from being significant.

Is this to say that Pokémon is mainly about its dark elements? Not really. If anything, Pokémon is about the connections that one can form as they meet people who share their interests. But to dismiss Pokémon as being merely childish is to demonstrate how easy it is to hide an edge behind a disarming exterior.

Review: Touhou Hyouibana: Antinomy of Common Flowers

Developer: Twilight Frontier
Publisher: Phoenix
Genre: Fighting
Rating: Teen
Platform:
 PC, Steam, Sony PS4, Nintendo Switch

The characters in Touhou are just about everywhere nowadays, to the point that it’s getting to be impossible to escape from them. Now, an official installment of the Touhou franchise has come to Nintendo Switch, this one in particular from among the fighting games in the series.

Touhou Hyouibana: Antinomy of Common Flowers follows the adventures of Reimu Hakurei and a handful from among her many, many acquaintances as they investigate a strange phenomenon known as “perfect possession”, which allows a pair to swap places with each other at will, even in the middle of a fight. It’s basically an in-universe explanation for the tag battle mechanic. It can be really hard to be the fourth wall in Touhou, sometimes.

As you might imagine, some more ambitious characters are using perfect possession to gain more power, using it to their advantage in matches. But the story mainly revolves around a pair of tricksters who have found a way to misuse perfect possession as a way to amass wealth for themselves, and effectively become an unbeatable tag match. Complicating matters is that the very use of perfect possession has unintended consequences for a parallel universe known as the “Dream World”.

Sorry, I didn’t find Cirno in this one.

The story mode has you selecting a duo and following their quest over the course of a few relatively-simple battles (difficulty may be adjusted, depending on whether you’re a super-soldier or drunk). At first, there is only one story, but as the story progresses, more stories become available, perhaps even a few at a time. The game calls its overarching story “bittersweet”, which is fitting, as even completing a duo’s story segment may result in setbacks that are a part of the narrative.

If you’re not already familiar with Touhou, you may be taken aback by the sheer amount of lore surrounding each of the characters. It’s not necessary to know what motivates the game’s handful of characters, as you can just half-pay-attention to the story and focus on winning matches. However, some in-game bios would have been nice to provide some background on these characters, which may have helped to better appreciate the story. An example in which this might have helped involved a cameo of Kaguya. If the player knew that Reisen was Kaguya’s pet rabbit, that may have helped the player to better understand the interaction between the two.

What are you looking at?

But it’s the gameplay mechanics that make it a game, and for AoCF, they mostly hold up.

In concept, I think the idea of anime waifus throwing bright, colorful attacks at each other sounds brutally awesome. In execution, however, most in-game matches come down to finding out how to cheese the opponent to take their health bar down, at which point they’ll move on to the next phase, which usually takes a different strategy to defeat. While that may make matches against story opponents highly predictable, it seems as though the game intends for players to find the right cheese strat for each phase, and the match usually ends before the process gets too old. Which is clever, in an odd sense.

While this is a tag team game, I found myself going through most battles with just the Master of the pair, just fine. One in-game opponent switches things up by using a special bullet that doesn’t affect the Slave of the combo, which is one way the game encourages the use of the perfect possession mechanic.

Jyoon and Shion may be the bad guys, but they are enviably cunning.

The characters in Touhou fly. What this means in this game is that the battles don’t take place on the ground, but in the air. Instead of jumping, when the player presses up, the character floats up, but then returns to the same horizontal point she originated from. Pressing down works in the same general principle, but with a downward movement, instead. Avoiding projectiles in this manner can be tricky, though a mid-air hang can be achieved through the use of certain attacks. In many cases, it’s better to use a barrier to block attacks.

The controls are pretty simple, with a basic principle that carries over for each character. There’s a button for basic attacks, which can be expressed differently based on the direction held. The same goes for a special attack button, but characters also have super-strong attacks which are usually pretty broken, but is limited in use depending on whether a meter has filled to a certain point. There is also a defensive shield, which may be the best choice against attacks that seem nearly impossible to avoid.

In non-story matches, players are free to choose their own combination of characters, rather than what the story calls for. It’s probably best to pick the character duo that would most effectively complement each other’s abilities, but I can imagine that many players would just pick their favorite characters and team them up, regardless of how well they’d perform. Which is something I could identify with.

It’s quite a shame that the fighting mechanics weren’t polished to a higher degree, because this game is great in just about all other areas. For one thing, the sprite art and portraits are crisp and clean anime-style art, and as far as that goes, it’s just right. The music is… well, it’s Touhou music. Of course the music is great. I’ve had at least a couple of these songs on YouTube playlists before even playing this game, they’re that charming.

Yukari just found a place to crash.

One potential gripe is that the English translations have numerous errors. But hey, if you like campy anime-style games, you were forgiving of that kind of thing to begin with.

Did I feel like I got my money’s worth with Antinomy of Common Flowers? In a word, yes. The game is flawed in ways that I’m aware of, but it’s still a satisfying game to play which, for many players, may be welcome as a guilty pleasure. Or, more than that, something to bust out at parties which might amuse the guests.

Touhou Hyouibana: Antinomy of Common Flowers gets a score of 6.5 out of 10.

Don’t worry about it if you still don’t know what the name means.

Stand Your Ground: An Answer to Coach Red Pill

A YouTuber by the handle Coach Red Pill is having a black pill moment. In one of his newer videos, dated October 8, he suggested leaving western counties while you still can, citing the rise of the authoritarian left. While he is astute in his assessing their control of the major institutions and how the checks and balances have all but disappeared from this republic, I can take issue with his idea that the way to properly handle this development is to flee to some third-world country in an effort to escape the surveillance state, and it’s increasingly systematic suppression of dissent.

While I disagree with him, he still has an interesting opinion, and if you have about 14 minutes of time, it’s worth giving it a listen. For your convenience, here it is, embedded:

While the failure on the part of the American government to recognize basic Americans’ freedoms, and the wild flit towards authoritarianism to contain a mere case of the sniffles is indeed a tragic thing to endure, one can hear Coach’s suggestion to flee to a pallet-jack home in a country such as Argentina (or Ukraine, where he apparently shot his video), and ask, “Is this really what you managed to come up with?”

Seriously, is that it? To just run? After all that careful thought, to run off and surrender what ground you were standing was the best you could come up with?

Look, I know that it hurts to be punched, or to be beaten with bike locks. I also know that the left has a near-endless supply of unemployed losers to carry out violent activism as foot soldiers, all while being virtually indemnified by corrupt left-wing prosecutors. But when our own culture is being suppressed in an accelerating rate, to flee the battle comes off as little more than timid self-preservation.

While I recognize the desire to see the left “snap out of it” and recognize that they’ve been going too far, that becomes far less likely to happen when the very people who should be serving as a check to their power surrenders the ground they should be standing.

Stand your ground. This is where the battle is being fought, and where it will be won. Or lost.

But if you were to run off to some place that hardly has running water, what makes you think that whatever peace you find will be anything but temporary? The left’s flit towards extremism isn’t merely a local event, it’s global. If the people who stand the best chance of fighting back were instead to just run off somewhere, there soon won’t be a place where one can flee.

Right now, the enemies of truth, freedom, human intellect, and individual liberties have just about any advantage that one could possibly think of: control of information through corporate media, social engineering through advertisers and social media, extensive psychological profiles on each one of us, surveillance with drones that can monitor a pedestrian from miles away, tremendous amounts of wealth through garnishing the paychecks of most people who work, the list goes on and on.

But the greatest advantage that they could ask for is an opposition that’s willing to flee when sufficiently demoralized. After all, if the police who disagreed with authoritarianism were the only ones who were to resign from the force, we’d only be left with authoritarian police, and the trend would only be expected to accelerate.

Sometimes, the battle looks tough. I get that. As enthusiastic as we may have been when we took up the fight, we’re bound to run into days in which we don’t feel like fighting it. There will be times when it looks like the enemy has an overwhelming advantage, which has a lot to do with the fact that they’ve presented themselves that way. However, the outcome of a conflict isn’t always apparent in the moment. Need I remind you that in the days of American independence, the British had a world-spanning empire?

Right now, the battle is here, and this is where you’re needed. But if you’re just going to turn coward and run, don’t be surprised when we don’t take you back. After all, what father, perceiving the difficulties of providing for his family, would simply run off and abandon them when things get hard? Would anyone have pity for him? In the same way, if someone were to run off when things got hard, would it be accepted of him if he were to thank us for the easy times?

But if he’s really serious about it, Coach Red Pill is free to run off to some Pacific island or somewhere to set up “Freedomistan”, if he’s really just up for his own self-preservation. Who knows, if a bunch of Trump supporters were to somehow claim some mound in an otherwise Sharia state, they might butterfly effect their way to some bastion of freedom that resembles the one that they abandoned.

Cambridge University Now Encouraging Women to Have Children

No matter how prevalent the forces of bullshit become, natural law remains in effect. It’s because of this that we have the expression, “play stupid games, win stupid prizes”.

The Malthusian movement has been losing steam, as countries are experiencing birth rates that are falling below the replacement rate. This is a disaster for aging boomers, considering that for Social Security to work as a scheme for wealth extraction, there actually has to be a certain number of people from whom to extract wealth.

I’ve been aware of the uniparty’s reversal of course for a few months. And, as I expected, there has been inertia, as it could take as long as a few years for programs to be rewritten or replaced or for contracts to expire, and for the culture to shift back to more traditional values.

In light of this, I think we can appreciate the irony of Cambridge’s new position, considering all that they’ve already done to contribute to the problem: They’ve long encouraged women to continually pay into the system (mainly by borrowing tons of money) to further their education and careers, until they are in their thirties, when their fertility starts to decline. Then, when you go to dating sites, you find countless women in their forties with useless degrees, desperate to have children.

But rather than fall on their sword, Cambridge instead subtly changes course, encouraging women to start having children as young as their early twenties, so they’d be more likely to have as many as three children (which is above the replacement rate of about 2.1). Of course, the undertones are highly creepy, but it’s still a sign that Cambridge (and colleges in general) will be transitioning back to more axiomatic values that have been tested and found to have resulted in healthy, successful families and societies throughout the entirety of human history.

While that might sound optimistic, it’s pretty much necessary, considering that the human specie isn’t adapted to anything else.

What would be optimistic is to assume that the uniparty and Malthusianism have learned their lessons. Rather than allowing people to live their own lives and make their own choices, they’re instead trying to manipulate society in an effort to reverse trends, in such a way that allows them to maintain control, and, of course, so they can die rich. It’s about power and money to these guys, as evidenced by the fact that they’re changing course to pursue them.

Well, “tough nuggets” is what I’d have to say, if I could decide what becomes of them. Let them know what it’s like to only have enough money to barely get by from month-to-month, hardly able to pay the bills. Just as they’ve been doing to me. They’re the ones that actually deserve it.

Review: Metroid Dread

Developer: Mercury Steam
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Platformer, Exploration
Rating: Teen
Platform:
 Nintendo Switch

After having spent years as an urban legend, Metroid Dread has finally dropped, which goes to show that it’s going to take a lot more than being cancelled to stop a true warrior.

In the long-awaited sequel to Metroid Fusion, and what is currently the last in the series in order of the current timeline, the Galactic Federation has dispatched a group of E.M.M.I. robots to the planet ZDR to investigate a strange transmission. However, when contact with the E.M.M.I. has been lost, Samus goes to ZDR to investigate, fearing the possible return of the dreaded X parasites.

During the investigation, Samus encounters a Chozo warrior, and is quickly overcome in battle. Mysteriously, the battle has resulted in Samus being without most of her abilities. In a reversal compared to the rest of the series, rather than starting the game from Samus’ ship and descending into the caverns of an alien world, Samus instead starts at the bottom of the remnants of a civilization, and must ascend to the top in order to escape alive.

Matters become far more complicated with the fact that the borderline-indestructible E.M.M.I. have gone rogue, and will hunt Samus down if she goes anywhere within their coverage areas.

If you’re in this spot, you don’t wanna miss.

So, that’s the story, but how does the game actually play? That’s where it gets even better.

Like most Metroid games outside of the Prime series, Metroid Dread is a 2D platformer set in huge, interconnected areas that main character Samus Aran explores autonomously. Most areas have multiple branching paths, with very subtle (if any) clues as to which path would take Samus to either a major confrontation or an upgrade to her mobility. Even dead ends may provide opportunity to discover power-ups such as permanent expansions to her missile-carrying capacity, so players have incentive to explore ZDR’s huge caverns, for the treasures that await them. Even getting lost may have its rewards.

Initially, Samus’ techniques are limited. But as she picks up major upgrades to her mobility (such as improved jumps and the series-staple Morph Ball), more functions are mapped to the control scheme. While the controls get complex by late game, the gradual implementation of Samus’ abilities helps to keep players from being overwhelmed by the amount of techniques.

Samus does start the game with some useful abilities that remain helpful throughout. One of these is a slide that allows her to go under narrow openings, which acts as a convenient alternative to the Morph Ball when in a hurry. Another helpful ability is when Samus aims with a laser pointer, allowing her to fire in any direction. Samus has to be standing still to do this, which makes sense, considering that in real life it’s usually easier to aim with precision when standing still. During boss fights, this usually means taking the risk of standing still if it means possibly getting in more accurate attacks.

Ride that slide!

I’ve noticed early on that Missiles are usually better to use during boss fights than charged beam attacks. I remember that in some previous Metroid games, the opposite was true, and I liked spamming charged attacks. It’s a change I welcome, considering that it’s sensible from a game mechanics perspective for the resource that has the potential to be limited by quantity has higher damage potential. But unless you’ve been missing a significant amount of ammo upgrades and play carelessly, you should have plenty of missiles for most boss fights.

Metroid Dread may provide a lot of abilities, but that doesn’t mean it holds the player’s hand. It’s expected of players to pick up on acquired abilities quickly, and if players can recall them late in the game, that might make some difficult boss battles go a lot smoother.

That brings us to the next point: Metroid Dread is not an easy game. Even on the normal difficulty, players of average skill level can expect to take multiple attempts on bosses before finally emerging victorious. I remember that there was at least a couple times in which I had taken a few attempts on a boss, so I decided to make attempts where I mostly just performed evasive maneuvers, with minimal attacking, in order to practice at avoiding the boss’s attacks. That helped, as subsequent attempts mostly went a lot smoother.

Comparisons have been made with Dark Souls in terms of the difficulty of the boss battles, so victory against most bosses aren’t something that’s just handed to you. Beating the bosses in Metroid Dread is a matter of skill, and when a boss is overcome, it feels like an accomplishment.

Run, girl!

But the bosses aren’t the only things in this game that bring the tension. In Metroid Dread, there’s a total of seven E.M.M.I. running about. Each of the E.M.M.I. has an assigned area which it doesn’t leave, but because you’ll have to run through these immense areas to proceed, Samus will have to confront them.

When you come across an E.M.M.I., there’s usually nothing you can do except try to avoid being noticed, and when you are noticed, you pretty much have to run and hide. What’s more, these things are scary intelligent, and usually come along to investigate where they hear sounds.

If an E.M.M.I. catches Samus, it’s usually Game Over. Yeah, there’s a brief quick-time opportunity to escape it’s clutches, but because it’s so hard to time, just touching an E.M.M.I. usually means having to retry. But thankfully, Metroid Dread is generous with restarting the player just outside E.M.M.I. areas and boss doors, so the player can make another attempt right away if they so choose.

In exploration platform games, colloquially known as Metroidvania games, a significant part of the experience is the sensation of movement. And thankfully for the chief genre-namer, movement in Metroid Dread is a joy. Samus responds with just the right combination of realism, momentum, and lack of hesitation to controller input. And what’s more, there’s a sense of power to her many mobility upgrades, to the point that by the end of the game, it really feels as though nothing is missing from Samus’ arsenal.

It’s not polite to point.

What’s more, none of the upgrades unbalance the game. There’s no one upgrade that’s perfect for every occasion, but they usually come with a sense of freedom that comes with knowing just how it can be used to overcome an obstacle that rendered previously encountered passageways and power-ups off-limits. And when you find out that an upgrade that you might not have been thinking much about at the time might make a boss battle much easier, that’s really satisfying in its own sense.

It usually goes that when someone buys a new game, there comes a risk that a game with current-gen visuals compromises with mechanical soundness. However, in Metroid Dread’s case, there is no such compromise, as the game offers tight, rewarding gameplay with excellent production values, all wrapped in the same package. While the platforming is in two dimensions, the environments are rendered in polygonal models. Metroid Dread is far from the first game to do this, but what Dread accomplishes is so rich and atmospheric that it’s a strong argument in favor of upgrading to a Switch OLED if you intend to spend a lot of time playing in handheld mode. There are many little touches here and there which goes to show just how much thought that Mercury Steam put into it. For example, there’s a thin, barely-noticeable haze of display static when Samus is in areas where there is an E.M.M.I. active, which conveys an eerie, unsettling technological sense that something is off.

What the E.M.M.I. can’t see, can’t hurt it.

As much as I’d like to discuss the events in the game, and what they mean for the overarching Metroid narrative, I think the best way to discover them is to play the game for yourself. This is one game that’s a blast to play, so that discovery isn’t likely to feel like a chore to a gamer without a crippling case of ennui.

Now, onto the score. It’s my great pleasure to give Metroid Dread top honors:
10 out of 10.

In times past, Metroid games have been something that one might consider to hold themselves over while waiting for some other big release. With Metroid Dread, the Metroid series demonstrates that it’s deserving of more respect.

Maddox’s Article on Swine Flu Aged Well.

Maddox’s online persona, not to be confused with a popular graphic depicting a racist communist sympathizer.

In the year 2009, web comedian Maddox published an article on swine flu. If that article were like piss in a bottle, that piss has aged, fermenting into a fine piss schnapps.

In case you’re having trouble remembering what swine flu was, it was a coronavirus that caused a mild cough, and that was about it. It was pretty much like Covid-19, except the political left didn’t go absolutely insane.

Maddox started his article by claiming that he deleted his mom’s number, because she called him worried about some sensationalist news story. While Maddox’s politics seem to be left-leaning today, what he went on to say was surprisingly red-pilled:

“If you’ve spent more than a few minutes worrying about swine flu, you are an idiot. That’s because it only takes a few minutes to look up the symptoms, mortality rate, and treatment to realize that it’s no different from the common flu (which kills way more people and by extension is way more awesome), and going back to whatever it is you were doing, which was probably turning off CNN and canceling your cable subscription.”

Maddox was early on the whole fake news dealie, and on comparing symptoms and fatality rates, and realizing that the virus in question isn’t worth letting world leaders carry out an economic suicide pact.

Maddox has his own idea on how to handle a pandemic of sniffles:

“Cowards worry and there is a 100% overlap between people who worry and people who regularly make cowardly decisions. That’s why natural disasters kick so much ass. You never really know when they’re going to hit, so you might as well let go and stop being such a scared pussy all the time. You’ll cross the bridge of death when you get to it. Time to start taking risks, asshole!”

What’s more, Maddox expressed a viewpoint that would have gotten him labeled as “anti-vax” today:

“I will never take the swine flu vaccine because I already have it; it’s called my immune system, and it’s badass.”

This has become even more awesome in light of the revelation that natural immunity is immensely superior to the Covid vax. The optics are stunning, and provide a window into the kind of thinking that was popular before the lockdowns driving up job losses and suicide rates drove everyone collectively insane.

Maddox also got into a short rant on how he believes that marriage is a sham institution, which makes him sound suspiciously MGTOW. If that’s something that you’ve never heard of, MGTOW is what happens when incels decide to give up, but then pretend that they’ve won. They then prattle on as though they’ve discovered some secret that makes them sound enlightened, even though their whole movement basically comes down to playing video games while waiting for death. What’s that secret? Apparently, it’s that if they can’t find a woman who’s willing to touch their genitals, they can just do it themselves. They’d be somewhat tolerable if they weren’t such obnoxious recruiters.

If you think Maddox’s points on swine flu would carry over to the coronavirus, it would seem like Maddox would, too. He republished the same article, striking out the term “swine flu” and replacing with with “coronavirus”.

When you look at how based Maddox once was, it’s almost a shame that he just about abandoned the website that made him popular, and went on to try to become yet another YouTuber. But as he is now, he’s another relic from the age of the internet angry man, trying to find his way in the age when everyone is looking over their shoulders.

Anthony Fauci is an Inferior Man.

Anthony Fauci literally just said that “There comes a time when you have to give up what you consider your individual right of making your own decision”.

I can guess what you’re thinking: “There’s no way. How can anyone be so out of touch with reality as to say something so devastatingly wrong?”

I don’t expect you to take my word for it, so I’m sharing video evidence. In it, Fauci tells us plebs that because we’ve been benefiting so well from society, we should give back by giving up our right to make choices for ourselves. Putting aside, of course, that society under Fauci and his other leftist corporate interests have attempted to shut us in our homes and are now pulling out the stops to threaten us into taking a vaccine that we don’t trust.

Here’s what stupid sounds like:

One of the many things that Fauci is ignorant of is the fact that the American republic was founded by better men than Anthony Fauci. What these men understood was that human rights were axiomatic tenets of reality that every human being has, as they penned in the following blurb from some old document that they might still teach about in schools:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The United States Declaration of Independence

Even if you don’t believe in a Creator, you should still understand individual rights to be a matter of superordinate principle, in a manner similar to natural law. Every human being has a right to security in their property, without it being stolen from them. Every human being has a right to their own sincerely-held religious beliefs, or any conviction they may have. They have a right to express their opinions, even if there are consequences for doing so. A person has a right to defend themselves. A person has a right to their silence, without it being taken as self-incrimination. Every person has a right to their own means of production.

In that these rights are unalienable, means that they exist by default, it is impossible for a person to voluntarily give them up, are not granted by human government, and if any government doesn’t recognize the existence of these rights, that government is wrong.

Continuing on, the Declaration of Independence has this to say:

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”

No one can be governed unless they allow it. It doesn’t require a lengthy explanation, because it’s entirely self-explanatory. Anthony Fauci doesn’t govern me, because I refuse to be governed by inferior men.

The republic’s founders continue with language that puts those who would follow Fauci’s example on notice:

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

I know that some limp-wristed incel might latch onto the use of the word “Safety”, and twist it to mean something that it doesn’t. The fact is, safety implies bodily autonomy, including the freedom to turn down a vaccine that one does not trust.

When a government twists the concept of safety into a pretext to challenge the axiomatic freedoms, that government should be altered or removed. That’s some food for thought for the Democrat establishment, if they are at all interested in retaining their place in American government.

After all, in nature, as is the case in human society, and has been demonstrated throughout history, the followers don’t endure being abused by their leaders for very long.

There is an old proverb, and because it originated in China, I suspect that Fauci has heard of it. It goes like this:

“The emperor that burned all the books was overthrown by illiterate men.”

Cenk Uygur, Get Over Yourself

Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks is no stranger to drama. He is the most prominent mouthpiece of a leftist YouTube program that named itself for the guilty party behind the Armenian Genocide, an event that Cenk denies ever occurred.

Since his program has gone full-on corporate, Cenk himself is pretty much in golden handcuffs, and has since gone increasingly unhinged, snapping at other commentators such as Tim Pool and Alex Jones, who just wanted to talk to him.

Just days ago, MisterM proceeded to milk the drama cow on Twitter, daring Cenk to call Joe Rogan a “loser” to his face, enticing him with a $1000 donation to either his “trash network” or a charity of his choice.

A real grownup would have ignored the dare, but Cenk instead drew the line where he felt more comfortable.

Being the grown-up that he is, Cenk not only took the dare, he also escalated the rhetoric to imply physical violence, then made the claim to be able to “end” the trained fighter, in spite of his own lack of experience (and conditioning).

Natch, Cenk decided to accept the $1000 for himself, rather than to a charity.

While Cenk made the hilarious claim that he’d “end” Rogan in a fight, Cenk’s optimism isn’t backed up much in the realm of reality, putting aside the remote possibility that Cenk could benefit from either a freak accident or copious amounts of interference.

While there is no such thing as an MMA black belt, Joe Rogan does have a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and has become a Taekwondo Grand Champion, and apparently has kickboxing experience. He eventually became a UFC commentator.

As for Cenk, he made the claim to have been fighting for his whole life. If this was the case, his fighting experience is not publicly-available information. Cenk’s claim to be “larger”, comes off as an inappropriate boast in his lack of physical conditioning.

I honestly have no idea why fat people have as much confidence as they do in their bulk. They may be big, but they’re also soft, and simply moving about is a chore for them. An overweight person started a fight with me before, and he went to the floor quick.

If Cenk did get in a fight with Rogan, he’d likely just find out how fast-paced and callous that fights really are, and come out the other side of the experience more closely resembling a blueberry muffin. Of course, a professional UFC match is a more strategic affair, but Cenk’s historical inability to retain his cool would ensure that within the structure of an officiated match, Cenk’s likelihood of winning would only further decrease.

I get being macho, but I still think I’m being manly when I point out that if I were to get into a fight with Joe Rogan, I’d likely get my ass beat. There’s a lot that can be said about not letting your arrogance get the better of you.

Cenk has a lot of problems, but because he’s rich and famous (enough so that he should consider it low-brow to take dares for money), many of his problems are of the sort that people would rather have. Yet, he has more problems than he otherwise would if it weren’t for his egotism. Therefore, Cenk is among the many people who can quickly make the world a better place, at least for himself, if he were to take the simple advice: Get over yourself.

Chris Chan Thinks He’s Jesus, Now.

After having been jailed and awaiting trial for allegedly raping his elderly mother, Chris Chan is now comparing himself to Jesus Christ. But more than merely making a comparison, Chris Chan actually made the claim to being Jesus Christ, in a letter that he wanted forwarded to Null of Kiwi Farms, and to his defense attorney.

The letter can be read on Kiwi Farms, where Null has provided a transcript. Just be warned that the letter reads as a window into the mind of a kind of crazy that one might have thought they didn’t make anymore.

(By the way, my use of male pronouns for Chris is not intended to be insensitive. Though Chris Chan identifies as a transgender female, the transgender community is not humoring Chris, recognizing his proclamation as an attempt to appeal to lesbian women.)

Hoo boy, where does one even begin to break this down? How about the fact that Chris wanted this letter sent to his defense attorney, as well as make it public? Can you imagine how his defense attorney must feel, having read a full-on, remorseless confession that was simultaneously broadcast to the general public? How is the poor guy supposed to defend him, now?

As evidence, Chris invites anyone to photoshop certain features onto old photographs of Chris (but only certain ones, not the ones where he’s wearing glasses, and only from the shoulders and chest up, which might make it less apparent that Chris is a big beef cow, and that if you were to place one of those yellow jackets on him, he’d look like a school bus.

Chris then wants his picture placed next to a picture of Jesus Christ for comparison. Chris’ request is impossible, because there are no pictures of Jesus Christ. The most popular idea of what Jesus looked like came from Renaissance art, when artists used their imaginations as to what Jesus looked like, which would explain why they depicted Christ as an Italian man.

But what expectation would there have been that Chris Chan would know this?

Chris also calls himself “Central Camera #000”, which indicates himself as the first of observational existences, having perception that he claims as infinite and includes the first-person perspective of all others. If this is a concept that he learned about from some video game, feel free to take to the comments to clue me in. But it does nothing to explain why Chris has been so gullible all these years.

Chris follows this up with a voluminous mountain of self-indulgent mushugganah, where he invites the reader to engage in some kind of transcendental meditation to arrive at his conclusion, and I’ll hard-pass on that. Right now, I’m trying to wrap my mind around the fact that Chris was able to hammer all this nonsense out in a jail cell, absent the controlled substances that would be available to those of us on the outside.

One thing he points out is that the Dimension Merge is “Completed and Concluding”. The Dimensional Merge is a concept that Chris may have invented with the help of a group of influencers called the “Idea Guys”, where supposedly all the fictional universes are to merge with the one we know. Chris has long stated that the merge was underway, but it seems he now thinks it’s “Completed”. That sucks for him, because he’s stuck in a jail cell, and can’t currently experience it.

Chris goes on to lay out his justification for withdrawing money from Barb’s bank account, in violation of an order against him. This justification on Chris’ part legally holds up as a confession. Chris really needs to get it out of his head that having excuses does not absolve him of guilt before he sets foot in a court of law again. But at this point, he’ll likely have already self-incriminated his way to prison.

Even though Chris currently fancies himself as the savior of mankind, he’s still so vindictive that he informs Null that he failed “HIS DESTINED TEST And Betrayed Me”, implying that he had only one test in his life, and he failed it. If guilt were Marmite, that was like emptying the bottle on a single slice of toast.

Then he went on to justify the act of rape that he was charged with, effectively issuing a confession to the act. And what’s more, he’s so narcissistic that he writes of the act as though it were a favor to his victim. And being an apparent fan of the concept of abrogation, Chris has declared “eased up” the Biblical view of adultery, presumably including the prohibition on having sexual relations with one’s own parent.

Chris is pretty far from the first person to use religion as a justification for his own vices. But claiming to be the Messiah while doing so is something special. What’s more, he points to the popularity of the gay and trans movements as though it meant anything other than people were doing what they wanted to do. Just because Chris thinks that he’s a god, doesn’t mean he comprehends that the truth of a matter is not determined by consensus.

So, Chris pretty much admitted to raping his mother, and claimed that he had healed her of her “past sins and regrets”, and that he improved “her abilities directly and personally”. Is it too late for a vomit advisory?

Reviewing this letter, one theory that’s being passed around is that Chris might just be playing it up in an attempt to make an insanity defense work. I don’t know, because it’s hard to tell just how sincere Chris is. From a jail cell without internet access, Chris no longer has “Idea Guys” to fill his head with plop, so either Chris is spewing from the plop that has already been implanted, or his new delusions were actually self-generated plop. In any case, he has ample plop with which to fire his plop cannon, with pages of cheap prison stationery as his target.

If Chris really is gunning for an insanity defense, it would seem he’s yet another legally-illiterate half-wit who believes that a successful insanity defense means just a few months in a padded room, followed by getting off scot-free. Don’t settle for dinner-table legal advice, people.

One thing that Chris seems to excel at is making matters worse for himself. His history of this is long and well-documented, but it now includes confessing to a crime he was charged with in an attempt at his own defense against the very same charge, while simultaneously committing what is considered a capital offense in any Abrahamic religion.

At this point, how can anyone predict what Chris Chan is going to do next? I don’t know, but I suspect that the Sex Offender Registry is about to become far more insane.