It’s a Fashion Statement!

For all the progress gaming has made in becoming more open to different demographics, the industry still has a silly trend of objectifying female characters. Be it from skimpy outfits, games made purely to sell off sex appeal or women being treated as literal rewards, it’s safe to say we have a long way to go before being accepting of the opposite gender.

While I understand that, in real life, some women enjoy the attention that their bodies grant them, a lot of women don’t derive that same feeling. For some, they wish that their thoughts and personalities would be the attention grabbers instead of their “assets.”

When it was recently revealed that Nintendo had “censored” costumes in the recently released Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water and the upcoming Xenoblade Chronicles X,, people were upset. How could Nintendo of America be so ignorant of artistic intent? Why don’t they just let us Westerners have the same content?

While I get that choice is a big part of freedom and freedom is important in fostering creativity, I just don’t see the purpose of the original “uncensored” costumes. For starters, why would you ever wear skimpy clothes into battle? Second, why do the women look like whores when the men look like they are doing a load of laundry?

There isn’t the same kind of representation going on between the two genders. This may come down to me being heterosexual, but I don’t see any of the male costumes inXenoblade Chronicles X as being particularly sexual. The female ones, on the other hand, make the characters look like high class hookers.

The changes in Fatal Frame make more sense as the replacement costumes actually represent some of Nintendo’s franchises. The original costumes are wildly out of place in a horror game, but being able to play a game on a Nintendo console as a Nintendo character fits pretty well. Samus even explores areas similar in tone to Fatal Frame, so that is a double win.

It just plain makes more sense.

The biggest thing we need to look at is whether or not this constitutes censoring. If the developers of the original content have no problem with the change, then no one else should be complaining. I’m fairly certain that Nintendo of America is checking with the respective developers before giving the okay to dramatic changes, but I could be wrong.

There is also the discussion of what is being changed. Having a 13 year old parading around in a thong and bra is a bit strange, regardless of what culture you exist in. Even in Japan, which everyone mistakenly believes is pro-sex, that kind of imagery is looked down on.

There exists a sub-culture of people in Japan called otakus. I don’t believe I need to explain what that is to anyone on this site, but regular citizens don’t accept otakus. They are seen as socially awkward, gross and repulsive. A lot of “artists” manufacture content to manipulate these otakus.

It’s similar to the English term, “trainspotting.” It also blends with “hikikomori,” which is a Japanese term for a social recluse. These people retreat from society for an extended period of time, often living with their parents and taking an extreme obsession with a hobby. That hobby usually ends up being anime and gaming.

Why go outside when my life is all in this room?

The types of costumes that are being “censored” are targeted at these people. It’s preying on the weak to make a quick buck. It’s pretty despicable, if you ask me. It also doesn’t have anything to do with creative freedom or expression.

Another reason for such sexualized costumes deals with Japan’s birth rate. For years now, Japanese citizens have been shunning marriage and dating. Their lifestyles place perfection and job performance above all else. Not being affluent and not attaining the best possible life earn you disappointment and condemnation from your elders.

Japanese citizens don’t have time for silly concepts like marriage and children. As such, the birth rate has been falling. Just last year, the mortality rate in Japan surpassed the birth rate. If the trend continues, the Japanese will become a nation of only adults.

Anime artists and game developers include hypersexualized content to spur arousal in their consumers. While it may inadvertently reinforce negative stereotypes of body image, it’s being done in the hope of boosting birth rates. I’m pretty sure most nations don’t look forward to the day of their extinction.

That’s what we’ll call it!

So the debate about this censorship isn’t black and white. I feel strongly that such costumes should be removed from games like Xenoblade Chronicles X as they serve no narrative intent. If it were Xenoblade Swimsuit Chronicles X(XX), then we’d have a different story.

The same goes for Fatal Frame; those costumes have no purpose being in a horror game. When you go to investigate a scary mansion in the cold wilderness, you tend to dress in layers. I would imagine donning a bikini and frilly skirt wouldn’t retain heat.

Is there ever going to be a correct answer to this question? Not really. Many people hold different values on what constitutes negative or damaging imagery versus playful extras, but we need to get our facts straight. Japan isn’t a sex loving, orgy induced frenzy of a nation.

There is also some reason behind a lot of the content in anime and gaming. Along with that, the hobbies that a lot of us love aren’t necessarily seen in a positive light by a majority of the Japanese.

Whether or not you agree with me in my thought that the removal of these costumes is good, you shouldn’t walk into a discussion without knowing all the details. It’s time to stop spreading false information and getting down to the real core of this topic.

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Uncharted 2 Review – Remastered Edition

Years ago, I wrote a review of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves for my college newspaper. I thought it was a fairly solid game. I may have been caught up in the moment, but I had a tremendous amount of fun playing through the campaign.

That was back in 2009. We’re now in 2015, a whole 6 years later. Does Uncharted 2 still remain fantastic? Thanks to the release of the Nathan Drake Collection, we can now take a look at this past gem once again. I mean, I guess I could have booted it up on my PS3, but spending more money and looking at it on new hardware is the only plausible way to really play a “classic” game.

As the game starts, I’m reminded of the excellent pacing that NaughtyDog employed with the script. That nostalgia leads to an immediate disappoint. Why did NaughtyDog and this remasters developer, BluePoint Games, not make the pace better? I’ve changed in the last 6 years, so shouldn’t Uncharted 2 have as well?

Regardless, instead of being able to blitz through the opening act, I merely settle on running through it. I guess I’ll have to pretend to be seeing all of this for the first time. Then a cutscene triggers and I get sucked out of the game.

Why, after all this time, are we still getting taken to pre-rendered cinematics? Can’t these scenes have been adapted into gameplay segments? Wouldn’t it just be grand to take Drake and smack Flynn in the face and move on? Tell him, “Shut up, I got the picture!” and finish the mission without him?

Shut the hell up, Flynn!

Making choices isn’t what you do in Uncharted 2, despite this remaster existing as a means to fix the game. I don’t want to play the game I know and love; I want the game I know and love to be better! How is that hard to understand?

So then the game moves into the first stealth section and I cringe. I never even liked that back in the day, why am I going to enjoy it now? Can’t they just give me a fully automatic and let me plow through this? The hell with careful plotting and dramatic tension. The remaster should let me live out all my twisted fantasies.

After being firmly let down that I’ve remembered everything as it was, I wait to see if anything had been enhanced for the epic train mission in the middle of the game. Sadly, there are actually some effects removed from the game. How am I supposed to enjoy this without motion blur?

It doesn’t matter that chapter 13 is intense, fun and filled with glorious lunacy; the removal of a small graphical filter makes the level feel less inspired. I thought remasters were supposed to improve in every way, not make concessions for hardware the game wasn’t originally built on.

It’s just not the same…despite being the same…

I guess I can take solace in the fact that the PS4 edition runs at a really smooth 60 frames per second. That shouldn’t matter, but going back to the PS3 versions makes everything seem like slow motion. Now the remaster really is tarnishing my vision of the past.

Overall, I can’t believe how disappointed I am with the Nathan Drake Collection. Instead of evolving with the times and giving us what feels like a new game, we’re just granted the ability to play our favorite adventures on a new platform.

Humans learn and grow with the times; is it to much to ask that my video games do the same? I know they are a sequence of 1’s and 0’s that, once compiled, cannot change, but come on! This is on PS4, for god’s sake!

In that regard, wasn’t the CPU of the PS3 based on the Cell processor, which used an EMOTION engine? Emotion is a skill that humans possess, not computers. The PS3 was ahead of the times, so it’s games should have grown older.

Instead, getting the Nathan Drake Collection is more like buying admittance to a museum and laughing at the failures of the past. How dare cavemen not realize that electricity would have helped them flourish.

Jackasses.

With a heavy heart, I have to give Uncharted 2 a 2/10. 6 years ago, I could easily see myself giving this a 9. Games have changed, though, and only for the better. It doesn’t matter that this was made for an audience in 2009 or that nothing has changed with it, just my perception of what I want.

Someone For Everyone?

This past week, I had taken a long deserved vacation. I went to Anaheim, California and spent some time at Disneyland, as well as venturing further south and visiting Sea World and Lego Land. It was definitely an eventful trip, if a bit predictable.

The most troubling part was the plane ride to the West Coast. Not only do connecting flights truly suck, but I was separated from my family for the second flight. While I don’t mind alone time, I felt a tinge of sadness strike me.

Unable to block out the world around me, I started to eavesdrop on the conversation this older woman and younger lady were having. They spoke about life, love, trips, drugs, sex and romance. To put it bluntly, things I have no relation to.

I felt an intense jealousy as both women spoke of the “loves” of their lives and the adventures they had. Snorkeling in France, moonlit dinners in Italy, flings in Spain; it was basically an amalgamation of every Nicholas Sparks novel.

While I typically don’t care how people spend their time, I couldn’t shake the idea that I had been wasting my life. Very little excites me anymore and I tend to draw a blank on what to do with my day. I like being active, but my idea of a fun day isn’t about meeting people or sharing anything.

I don’t mind taking hikes through the forest alone. I love rock climbing and rappelling. I am enamored with playing video games and working out. These types of things don’t require anyone else to be fun and often are less fun with less experienced participants.

My mind is perfectly capable of rationalizing why I shouldn’t worry, but my heart wants something more. I want to be alone while being surrounded with friends. It’s a strange dichotomy that causes me a lot of hurt.

And makes me stare into scenic backgrounds…

As I sit and ponder why a relationship would even be beneficial, my heart is telling me to get out there and find someone. I don’t even know what I would do with a significant other, but my heart keeps nagging me to get on with it.

I’m not sure if my thoughts are infused with societal pressure or if my body truly wants something. I’ve never been able to express to any woman how I feel about her without some kind of sexual connection. It seems that I truly value sex more then anything else, which troubles me.

Even so, I hear stories of people moving from partner to partner and finding love in peculiar spots and I begin to feel hollow. I have never dated anyone one or gone on a date. Sex only happened because I still live at home, negating the need for me to truly save money. An escort is good enough when you can’t form a solid connection with people.

It makes me sick when I visit most ladies of the night. They are just so disconnected from their current situation. I have only found one escort that makes the most of each moment and I find myself falling for her.

Even then, I still look at other women. I still fantasize about whining and dining other girls and living a life of decadence. I want to be out in the world and getting my fill of adventure and lust.

Then on the flip side, I don’t want to hurt anyone. Sex is a tricky proposition for a lot of people. To the general public, monogamy is the only option. To even question infidelity or dabble with taboo is to be branded a pariah.

I long ago gave up on faith and it seems that I’m now on the cusp of releasing myself from the shackles of normalcy. Obviously I’m not meant to have a regular “American Dream” style life. To be with wife and child in suburbia turns my stomach inside out.

Yet, my heart still wants that. My body keeps telling me to love and be loved. That is nigh on impossible when you have so many social dysfunctions. As I learned last year, I’m autistic; I have asperger’s syndrome, a fairly big social disorder.

While a test concluded that I more then likely have an extreme case of social anxiety, diagnosing an adult with autism is tremendously difficult to do. There are a lot of habitual occurrences that age will help change. One of the therapists at the psyche ward I was sent to even said that the results are no where near 100% accurate.

Why can’t life just make fucking sense?!

Getting that label explains so much about my life. The fact that I can’t make friends, that I am intensely interested in a few things and that I struggle to even speak to people. That autism also covers daily routines and an unwillingness to change furthers frightens me. I’m living a life that I have little power to rectify.

This doesn’t bode well for romance. Most people don’t like someone who is so rote in their execution of life. Spontaneity wins hearts, not comfort. Risk taking and confidence are huge turn-ons, not calculated strikes and logical reasoning.

I am lacking in a lot of ways and don’t quite know how to change. To ask me to instantly mix-up a routine is basically asking me to breakdown. Even when my friend calls unexpectedly to hang out, I tend to seize up a bit and get nervous. I don’t work well with unknown variables.

An ex of one of my friends once said to me, “You haven’t dated anyone because no girl has challenged you.” While I kind of nodded in the moment, those words have never left my mind.

The current apple of my eye is definitely challenging, in more ways then one. She’s an energetic ball of zest that grabs life by the horns and then proceeds to make love to it. She has a past in pornography, a love of the Beatles, an intellect far greater then the average human and looks that could be weaponized. She is far from typical.

On the idea of any kind of future together, she has said this; “Remember how we met.” While this wasn’t directly to me, she is basically stating it for all of her potential clients. If I wasn’t some horny, deep pocketed nerd with a lust going unchecked, would I have ever met her?

If I wasn’t willing to basically bend the law, would I have met her? How does one describe our initial meeting to any potential family and friends? “Yeah, I met my wife a few years ago. I went to her apartment, we introduced ourselves and then had sex.”

Basically like this, but with less clothing and more moaning.

Should any of that matter? As I said, my life is far from normal and I doubt any more therapy or extracurricular activities are going to bring me back to normality. I’m a man who is very damaged mentally and broken emotionally.

I just want to figure out if my heart is making sense. Should I even bother with finding love? What will that do for me? Will I be able to shut off my carnal desires long enough to maintain a relationship? How come everyone else seems to do this so easily?

Whatever the answer, this past vacation just brought up a whole bunch of questions that trouble me. I needed to write this to simply stop the thoughts from swimming in my head. I don’t want to keep things bottled up anymore. That led to my past breakdowns and I’m not going to repeat that routine.

Rock (Band) Isn’t Dead!!!!

One of the biggest complaints you will hear in regards to modern music is that rock is dead. When Gene Simmons claims Rock is dead, it’s probably a pretty decent sign that the genre is on the way out. Statements like that reinforce the cynical nature inside of older people who just want a return to the old days.

The same echoes with the rhythm gaming genre. When Activision and Harmonix killed off Guitar Hero and Rock Band, gamers were left without any kind of successor. Sure, other types of rhythm games popped up, but nothing that utilized the guitar controllers and plastic drum kits we had collected over the years.

It seemed like all of that investment and trust was just thrown to the curb. Harmonix did their best to support Rock Band 3 with DLC well into 2012, but they eventually closed up shop. Since the genre had seen better days, there wasn’t much purpose in producing content for a game that people weren’t buying.

Just like how most people claimed that rock was dead, so was Rock Band. We all had our fun and now just have memories. No one will ever make the same classic game again. Why would you? We have all moved on.

Except that isn’t even true. Not only will Rock Band 4 be releasing tomorrow (with Guitar Hero: Live releasing later this year), but rock is not dead. Far from it. It may not hold the mainstream appeal it once had, but people haven’t forgotten about rock.

Sup?

A little band by the name of Ghost have done everything in their power to resurrect the 60’s style of gothic/satanic inspired pop/rock for a new era. Mastodon, once a progressive metal band, have transitioned into mostly their own genre with lots of throwbacks to classic rock styling.

For that matter, The Darkness released a new album in May of this year. They are a band founded on bringing back 80’s hard rock. To even claim that rock has died is just being ignorant; if anything, rock is more specialized now then it ever used to be.

Certain things fade in and out of fashion all the time. Music is the easiest to track as it has been around for as long as people began speaking. Much like how the Middle Ages was overrun with chamber music and the Renaissance brought about classical music, most of the 20th century was dominated by rock.

You can even go further by dissecting different decades and identifying sub-genres. The 50’s was the dawn of rock’n’roll. The 60’s brought pop/rock and the 70’s started with prog rock. Even now, in 2015, rock has mostly turned to metal with some bands clinging to old-fashioned ideals.

Gaming has had a similar resurgence of the past. 2D Platformers had all but died in the early 2000’s, but we now have more made every month then were released in the entirety of the 6th console generation. It’s almost as if the SNES never left.

If only you could buy one of these brand new.

To say anything is dead is to know where humanity and public interest is going. If you can logically see into the future, then you can make the claim that something has moved on. How can that ever come to fruition when so many people talk about it?

Could rock music ever die? There are indie bands no one has heard of pumping out sweet licks every week. There are people in their bedrooms recording songs made solely by them. Even gigantic, mega famous bands like Metallica are going back-to-basics and producing music in the vein of their origins.

Rock isn’t dead. Far from it. The same can be said for Rock Band. Now that the time is right and the consumers are hungry for a return to basics, Rock Band will get to thrive where it’s needed most; in the hearts of true fans.

The genre may have crashed before, but Harmonix never left the building. They let other acts take over the stage while they calculated how to one-up the competition. Allowing users to retain DLC between console generations is completely unprecedented and will definitely lead to sales from cynical folk.

More importantly, we may finally have that dream version of Rock Band we always wanted. Every single hit song from every decade on one console. The fact that I can load up Jimi Hendrix, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Talking Heads and The Police in one setlist is beyond amazing.

Better still, Harmonix has the power to make new music known. Most people who will buy Rock Band 4 are probably going to be younger then the target demographic (18-34). They will get to experience the best of the past and the brightest of the present all under one roof.

Long Live Rock!!

I don’t think there is a better time for rock then right now. If you still think it’s dead, you’re just delusional.