Videogame banter used to be simple. Whether it was opinions on a game or straight console war shitfights, people said what they were thinking. Xbox is a poorly made piece of shit. GameCube is a purple lunch box for babies. Playstation games are ugly like your Mum. Now days, you get banned for that kind of stuff on forums and that’s fair enough. It’s never nice to insult people or trash talk for the sake of it. However I’m beginning to feel the landscape of passive-aggressive assumptions we have now is even more toxic. There’s this illusion that things are more “civilised” in the gaming community, created by ever growing concern for social issues and a set of universal standards games are being judged on. As a result of this social narrative becoming popular and generating clicks, every game coming out is being judged by the same set of rules, regardless of whether or not it makes sense in the game’s own context as a playable videogame.
IGN recently conducted an interview with Hiromasa Shikata, the director of Tri Force Heroes, to express their disappointment that you could not play as a woman. A brand new Zelda game with unusual gameplay mechanics, and this is what they focus on. Who is Female Link, you ask? Nobody, she doesn’t fucking exist. It’s an idea that does not exist in the Zelda universe. In this guys mind, the 28 year history of the series has been tossed behind the concern of the week, it’s not important. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for females and diversity. I shouldn’t have to clarify this but I am, and I just really don’t think about gender when I’m playing a game. While exploring the Chozo Ruins in Metroid Prime, I never once forgot that I had a cock. I never once thought about having mad hips or wearing a Zero Suit onesie. If an upcoming Zelda has a female Link? Cool. I’ll play that too, have a great time and still be myself. It’s the creator’s choice. IGN pulling this shit in an interview is disrespectful to Shikata’s creative vision for Tri Force Heroes, and forces him to reveal plot details explaining why you play as Link. That’s right, he has to explain WHY YOU PLAY AS LINK in a Zelda game. After doing his best to answer politely, IGN still won’t let it go.
“IGN: I guess I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t express some slight disappointment with that, especially because there is a Zelda outfit Link wears in the game. It just feels like it’s one step closer to giving the Zelda series’ female audience the chance to explore that universe from another perspective.”
Thanks for doing your job mate. I’m super grateful for your disappointment. I know where to come now if I’m looking for disappointment. I also know a game you might be interested in, it’s called Hyrule Warriors and you can be ANY CHARACTER YOU WANT!
Chew on that diversity. This beautiful game has its own scenario where it makes sense to play as anybody, just as Tri Force Heroes has it’s own story with Link as the hero. Show some respect for what these games are, not what they are not.
This is just one unfortunate guy’s opinion at IGN, not a big deal right? Am I missing the mark for singling out IGN for this? Nope. Polygon made a story about it. Gametrailers spent a podcast talking about the “issue” with Tri Force Heroes being sexist, nothing about the gameplay. They also hit upon important topics like the Wii U being dead and Star Fox Zero having “2003 graphics”. What does that mean, it looks like Grand Theft Auto? F-Zero GX? Anyway, moving on with the shitlist we have Destructoid, Tech Times, Videogamer and of course all the Nintendo fansites because they post fucking anything. I’m not highlighting these sites to shit on them, I have no problem with half of them. This is all just to show the scope of this imaginary issue. Kotaku however DOES deserve shame, as always, for going the extra mile and putting their own opinion in the headline as if it’s more important than the story.
Here’s the game by the way, in case you’re confused. Can you even tell the gender of these players? I fucking can’t. I don’t see how having a dick or vagina is going to make hitting that crystal any easier. This game is all about gameplay, as 3 players team up to solve puzzles and kick arse. It’s the fully designed multiplayer online Zelda game that these same websites have been demanding for years, and it’s not important anymore because the rules changed.
… moving on.
Gamespot is my next target in this article, and boy are they an easy target. This site has grown a reputation for giving bad scores and short reviews to Nintendo games. It’s easy to pass that off as a matter of taste, but the truth is they barely played the games. These reviews spend multiple paragraphs coming up with fancy wordplay to extend the length just long enough to make the review printable, and cover up the fact they would rather be playing Witcher 3.
What an ordeal that must have been. Not being able to play the 10 out of 10 Witcher 3, while you struggled through a 6 out of 10 game. I don’t care if you don’t like Yoshi’s Woolly World, that’s an opinion you’re entitled to even if it’s a very bad one. My issue is the complete apathy surrounding this. Just say what you’re thinking without a stupid meme at the end. The game is a fucking rubbish game for kids, you’re too mature for it, Nintendo’s dead, the fans are idiots, Iwata’s a cunt. I know you’re thinking all of these things while wiping the Dorito stains off your keyboard, wondering why life is so difficult. My issue isn’t even with any of that, you’re employed to be a corporate weasel for a shit company, and that’s fine. You’re doing your “job”. Just don’t fucking pretend you played Yoshi’s Woolly World or care about it.
I decided to politely ask this guy what the deal was, as the comments on the Gamespot review turned nasty, and accusations were flying around Twitter as well. He unfortunately deleted his response, but it was along the lines of “it doesn’t matter, haters gonna hate“. He could not prove he played past World 3, and suddenly became the victim, like he planned this all along. You can take a screenshot from the Wii U in seconds through the internet browser, but I’m guessing it was boxed up or gone because his “job was done”. The fact that he went back after 4-5 days and deleted the tweet reflects a bizarre behavior for someone who did their job. It wasn’t even a conspicuous tweet, though it did confirm my suspicions and I’ll take the initiative to screen-cap things in the future. I was naive and expected him to be a decent person.
He spent the entire review essentially lying about having played the game, making up bullshit like “the controls are too good”, and “it’s too easy” but “hard to play properly”. Yet, the commenters saying what they feel, are made out to be the bad people. I could use the most disgusting language in the world, but I still have a point. I’ve 100% completed Woolly World and there are some very difficult stages and a lot of variety in each world. It took me 40 hours to see everything. I don’t expect reviewers to 100% complete everything in the short amount of time they have, but it’s clear as day he did not put effort into playing the game or writing the review. Therefore, everyone responding does have the moral high ground. He managed to muster up some half-hearted replies, but no answers.
Not good enough. The review was written for people who would not play the game, which is the moment he stops being a game reviewer, and becomes a tool. It’s more of a “do not enter” sign than a presentation of its values. I’d also like to point out that it’s not even well written. The controls are described as “immeasurably good”, yet these are one of the few things in a game you can measure and compare. Music, art style, atmosphere may be immeasurable, but to just say “good” is fucking lazy. I spend half my reviews talking about the controls and gameplay mechanics. It’s the single most important thing in a game and it’s never “good”. One fucking word. Furthermore, he contradicts himself multiple times. First the graphics, where he says it’s visually distinguished, yet unimpressive. Because… it’s a Wii U game? Does every Wii U game need that subtext? Then he talks about the difficulty and says it’s “easy”, yet “difficult to find everything”, “the platforming is too easy”, yet there are “hardcore challenges” there. It was in fact so easy, that he COULDN’T BEAT THE GAME. Are you confused yet? I fucking hope so, because that’s the only thing the review accomplishes.
This went even further on Twitter when I found myself chatting to Gamespot’s community manager, who probably didn’t know much (a nice person, bless her) but said “resources” were a reason some games got shit reviews. What could that possibly mean, some people have less brain cells? I can only speculate that means if a publisher isn’t breathing down a reviewers neck, they don’t bother. It’s too much of a burden to be interested in playing a videogame unless it has swag, cheat sheets and 10s made of candy falling out of the collector’s edition. What’s interesting about the lazy Nintendo reviews on Gamespot, is they are all by different reviewers, the Yoshi one being the guy’s first review for the site. Really made an impact there mate. This “collection” of idiocy means these morons are either handpicked FOR their lazy, indifferent writing, or there’s some fucked up culture making people dumber the second they walk into Gamespots Dorito-stained office. Neither scenario is excusable. Anybody has resources to play a videogame and write about it. It’s your fucking dream job, mate. Put the swag aside and become an active human being. Participate and be proud of your own writing.
Yoshi is an extreme example I’ve honed in on (because I’ve been playing the game), but you can also apply it to DKC: Tropical Freeze or Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush, and fuck knows what else because I can’t read another word on that site without my brain trying to escape my head. If you’ve played any of these games and read over their apathy, the lack of perspective becomes transparent and embarrassing to read.
You might’ve noticed a trend in this article. Every fuck-up is an example of the writer “doing their job“. That’s a big fucking problem. They are spending more time being weasels, creating narratives and covering their tracks, than playing and discussing videogames. Your job as a journalist is to find out information and report the facts. Obviously, this is never really the case in any field, and gaming has almost “evolved” to match the political bullshit of other industries now with so many companies involved. Regardless, I feel like we are missing out as a result of journalistic incompetence. Instead of asking Nintendo “where’s Metroid??” and “why isn’t Link gay and pregnant with Uncharted graphics??!?”, we could perhaps get some answers on why the N64 Virtual Console has a dark filter. What teams are working on it. Who decides these things. What is going on with Mario Kart 8’s matchmaking, was fire hopping intended? What’s on the cards for more Nintendo World Championship type events? Just show a shred of interest in game design and maybe they’ll have more confidence in New IPs and releasing stuff like Mother 3. Notice I didn’t say to directly ask about Mother 3. You just have to represent a community that cares about playing a game.
Now I’m going to play some Kirby and forget I had to make this shitpost. Nobody else is talking about this so I feel like I have to. Seriously, can anyone else SEE the landscape right now? Find me one single pro-Nintendo multiplatform website. I can’t see any, because the company has stopped involving themselves directly in this culture. That shouldn’t have much of an impact, but it does because OTHER publishers take advantage of game journalists weaknesses. You could feel in that IGN interview, Shikata was put off by IGN’s awkward questions and will probably never speak to them again. He thinks they’re wackjobs and he’s right. The female developers on the team don’t even agree with them. Another thing missing from the big picture is people calling out these websites for being fuckwits. Comment spam and blog posts like this, just aren’t going to cut it. This isn’t enough. Nobody has the balls to say what they feel anymore on big websites, reviewers are scared of enjoying games that don’t match their AAA guidelines. Playing Nintendo games should be mandatory, and not a burden. You should be excited at the thought of playable videogames. Journalism will keep getting worse if they aren’t held accountable. Call them out and just speak your mind. Don’t be afraid to look like a fanboy or fangirl. You know what that means? You love videogames. Nothing is more valuable than honesty when I want to know about an experience, and these soulless hacks representing gaming need to replaced with people who are passionate, because the gaming industry is fucking awesome.