Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Letters are the New Colors

My schedule for updating my blog is pretty ill-defined. I basically just write whenever I feel like it, or, more importantly, whenever I don't feel like doing something more productive (Hello, final exams!) But there is one rule to which I always adhere: if a new Pokemon game is announced, that gets my immediate attention (Goodbye, final exams!) And as luck would have it, Gamefreak just announced the existence of the long anticipated 3rd gen remakes: Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby. That's right, X and Y weren't a one-off thing. Letters are the new standard for Pokemon titles. So keep an eye out for 7th gen Pokemon で and Pokemon す, coming out in just a few years.

So, what all was revealed, other than the name? Well, naturally, a release time was given. An exact date wasn't specified, but it's supposed to hit the shelves some time in November of this year. It's not too surprising that they'd try to time it to coincide with the winter shopping rush. They also announced that they believe that Word Art constitutes a trailer. Seriously, take a gander at this “trailer”. Don't worry, it's only 30 seconds, so it won't take up much of your time.

Did I mention that this announcement caused the internet to burst like an overhype tomato? Or, at least, the parts of Twitter that I frequent. And while it probably isn't very scientifically rigorous of me to use Twitter trending topics as evidence, the fact remains that at least 3 of them have been about this announcement for awhile. So my question is this: why? Why are people so excited about this? Because it confirmed that 3rd gen remakes are on their way? Were there really people who thought that they weren't? Gamefreak's been dropping hints about them for awhile now, and it would be completely irrational of them to not milk this cash cow. Speaking of which, did you know that there's been a new Pokemon game released every year since 2009? (In the US, at least. Platinum, Heartgold/Soulsilver, Black/White, Black2/White2, X/Y) It really shouldn't come as any kind of surprise that the 3rd gen remakes are happening now. Is it because of the names? While I admit that Alpha and Omega are kind of cool, that's mostly because of my pet theory that there exists (or should exist) an “Omega Pokemon”, a counterpart to Arceus, the Alpha Pokemon, that will destroy the world. Though it's supremely unlikely that they'll add new Pokemon in a remake, so this'll probably put a nail in the coffin of that idea, if anything. And I don't suppose that the majority of the internet is getting more excited over Greek letters than a math/physics major. 

So what else is there? The box art? If you watch the trailer, which I highly recommend, then you'll see that that's really the only other information. Spoiler Alert, there's Kyogre and Groudon, in slightly altered forms that are likely Mega-Evolutions (Which is a terrible idea, by the way). This lack of information has caused people to panic, analyzing every word and comparing the wording to past Pokemon reveals. “Why, they call it a 'reimagining', and a 'brand new world'! That must mean that it'll be more of a sequel, like Black and White 2, than a remake!” This seems to be the idea that people are having. While I admit that it's possible, a “reimagining” actually sounds to me like they are very much remaking the game, rather than making a sequel. And even if it is a new story, “brand new world” is just fluff. Unless it actually takes place outside of Hoenn, in which case why even bother calling it Ruby and Sapphire? And if it really is a brand new adventure, why don't they just come out and say that? Because people would get too hype? Well, there's a saying in marketing, that goes “There's no such thing as bad publicity, especially when it's good publicity.” The fact that they have nothing to say about it other than “it exists” is not very encouraging.

Let's take a step back and compare this to the X/Y announcement about a year ago. Notice any differences? Actually, don't answer that question. I don't want to be held responsible if your brain suffers an overflow error. Basically, the primary difference is that the X/Y one doesn't look like the last minute project of a computer design undergrad who got in on a legacy scholarship that the school board is starting to regret. I don't even know if that skillfully crafted analogy can properly convey the scope of this travesty. This “trailer” is bad. Like, poop in your underpants while you're wearing it bad. Yes. That bad. Now, I understand that Pokemon α/ω will likely have the same graphics as X/Y, so there's not much point in showcasing them. But, at the same time, when you're cashing in on nostalgia, it wouldn't hurt to show revamped versions of familiar locales. Hell, even X/Y managed to do that better by showing a brief glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, and no one had even played that game yet. Also, towering pillars of flame. Those were conspicuously absent from the new trailer.

So why did they even bother making this announcement now if they didn't even have anything notable to say? Well, I'm not accusing Nintendo of making this announcement to distract everyone from the fact that they shit the bed financially. I'm just saying that, to an impartial, outside observer, it looks exactly like they did that. Except that, if that was really how it went down, you'd think they could at least done a little premeditating. I certainly hope that the Nintendo executives didn't just yesterday realize that they've been hemorrhaging money like a hemophiliac King Midas. So perhaps this conspiracy can be debunked with the argument that if it had really been planned out in advance to distract us, then maybe it wouldn't have sucked so much. Then again, no one else really seems to mind, so I guess it served its purpose.

I feel like I've been asking a lot of questions in this post, but there's one that bugs me more than any other. Why am I so angry about this? I feel like it wasn't too long ago that I would have been ecstatic about a 3rd gen remake. Has X/Y made me jaded and bitter? Is this Skullgirls' fault? Why am I fixating so much on this “trailer”? I don't really know the answers to any of these questions, but I think that hype backlash plays a vital role. When the announcement hit, people went nuts. Everyone was getting so excited over a title, a release date, and two sentences of filler, and... I guess I envied them. I was jealous of how they could get so excited over so little. Perhaps I was like that once. And seeing them, hearts filled with joy, reminded me of those times, and how things have changed. The intense heat and pressure of their hype transformed my black heart into a shining diamond of hate.

As Seen Here

So, will I buy one of these games? Probably. Will I stop asking rhetorical questions? Hopefully. But I like to imagine that Gamefreak called it “Omega Ruby” because it's the last Pokemon game I'll ever play.

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