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Sat 10th Sep 2011

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Sondheimist commented on Nintendo Further Explains Fire Emblem Fates Lo...:

Oh my, it's been a long time since I've seen someone reference "natural philosophy." Flashbacks to my college philosophy courses.

I've read a lot of arguments against same-sex marriage over the years, and I have yet to encounter one that stands up under intellectual scrutiny. Even the arguments presented to the U.S. Supreme Court were exceedingly weak.

As for the "immorality" of it: Concepts like morality (and sin), if they are to have any meaning, must indicate some sort of harm. When someone robs another person, there is a harm done. When someone cheats another person, there is a harm done. (Those are fairly obvious examples - there are more subtle versions of harm than stealing another person's money or hitting them, but they make a point.)

When two men fall in love and decide to form a lifelong commitment to each other, there is no harm done. You cheapen the concept of morality and render it meaningless when you call such relationships immoral.

(Mind you, gay individuals are just as capable as anyone else of committing immoral acts - but there's nothing inherently immoral in a same-sex relationship.)

To use an anecdote: I know two gay couples that have been together for more than 30 years. Collectively, those couples have raised nearly a dozen children, all of who have grown up into wonderful and well-adjusted adults. When I see the way these couples interact with each other, and with their (now adult) children - well, let's just say that there's nothing "immoral" about it. The fruit of their life choices is all good.

Also, just fyi: Putting quotation marks around "marriage" doesn't change the fact that gay couples do, in fact, get married. There is no divine tablet in the sky on which the immutable definition of "marriage" is inscribed - the meaning of the term has been continuously evolving since the beginning of marriage itself, and it will continue to evolve over time.




Sondheimist commented on Gone Home Console Versions Are "Not Actively i...:

The game was pretty good - nice atmosphere, and (sorry mcj) excellently written.* No the plot itself is nothing revelatory, but the storytelling itself is very well done.

...And, tbh, the vitriol hurled at it from certain segments of the gaming community actually makes me like it more.

On a side note, I find it kind of hilarious that there are actually people who think that "social justice warrior" is a meaningful insult. It's one of those epithets that says a lot more about the person using it than it does about the person being labeled.

*And I've been playing games since the early 90s. Thanks for asking.



Sondheimist commented on Nintendo Provides Some Context to 2013's Tomod...:

Sorry for the wall of text - that's all I'll say on this subject on this site.
For the record, I bear no ill will towards Nintendo for fixing the glitch. I was never particularly interested in the game, but this doesn't affect my opinion at all.



Sondheimist commented on Nintendo Provides Some Context to 2013's Tomod...:

@camerica1618 "But science has not yet proven that there are gay genes."

There may well not be a gay gene. However, numerous scientific studies (not to mention the lived experiences of millions of gay people who rather decidedly did not choose to face the things they face) have shown rather convincingly that ones sexual orientation is a result of a variety of biological and environmental factors. (See, for example, twin studies, digit-length studies, birth order studies, epigenetic studies, and so on.) It's not quite as simple as a "gay gene," but it's still not a choice for a vast majority of people.

"Also, if people really are born with it than why can't men and men or women and women able to reproduce?"
This question... Doesn't make any sense. Are you aware that there are many straight individuals who are unable to reproduce?

As a general comment, I really hope that some day more people will see how their words (and actions) affect others. You can say you "love" and "respect" gay people, but the rest of your words are incompatible with either love or respect. We aren't talking about some abstract issue here - we're talking about very real people who live very real lives.

When you condemn a company for "endorsing gays" or declare that you "disagree with homosexuality" (whatever the heck that means) - well, that can hit hard, particularly if you are gay or have a close friend or loved one who is gay. I can only hope that you'll never have to experience what it's like to have that kind of degrading, dehumanizing rhetoric being used against you.

(But to perhaps give you an idea, imagine a major political figure - or even just a group of members on a message board - declaring: "I can respect my Christian friends, but I would never want them to have the same rights as me and I would boycott any company that 'endorsed' their lifestyle or made it seem like it was all right to be Christian. The Christian lifestyle is sinful, and sin makes me feel sick.") (And no, I most certainly do NOT believe that - I'm just trying to get you to see things from a different point of view.)

Of course, ones sexual orientation is not the sole defining characteristic of an individual - but regardless of whether you're gay or straight, who you love IS an important part of who you are.

Please understand: This is NOT an attack on anyone's religion. If someone believes that homosexuality is a sin, they're perfectly entitled to do so. However, this isn't just a matter of "to each his own" - one side is actively trying to hurt people that I love, and so I feel obligated to speak out. Fortunately, there are many wonderful people in my life who are both gay AND Christian (one of them, after living with the same man for more than 30 years, was finally blessed to be able to have his relationship sealed with marriage two years ago), as well as many straight Christians who support the rights of my gay friends.



Sondheimist commented on Fan Campaign Starts for Princess Zelda to be G...:

@49 Stark_Nebula - So let me get this straight: People referencing the frequency of the "Damsel in Distress" trope in video gaming irritates you, but the trope itself does not? Sorry if I don't sympathize.

"Another thing I'd like is for everyone to give some thought before reacting. I'm tired of people jumping on bandwagons because they got motivated moments ago. "

Did you ever stop and think that perhaps the people who support this idea have stopped and thought about it? Mind you, I'm sure life is a lot easier when you assume that everyone who holds a different opinion hasn't thought about the issue as deeply - but, in reality, at least some of the people who are concerned about the prevalence of the DiD trope know just as much about video gaming and the development process as you do. Sorry, but those are the facts.

Here's the thing: I don't get too worked up about this sort of thing, but I do support the idea of having more strong female characters in games. No, I nor anyone else is saying completely change every game in development to ensure that there's a playable female character. These are long-term issues that will require long-term solutions. However, by bringing attention to the issue, hopefully developers will be inspired to consider the option for future games. Of course, not EVERY game could or should have playable female characters - but there are plenty of games whose gameplay wouldn't be negatively affected by having stronger female characters.

@72 CaptainSquid - "You don't force change" - perhaps, but it's also true that change often tends to come about only when people are vocal about their concerns.

Also, NEWS FLASH - I doubt this Facebook page is about "forcing" Nintendo to do anything. I'm sure the creators of the group are more than well aware that they don't actually have any power over Nintendo - the idea is to simply show that there is interest in a stronger role for Zelda in the series.

(For the record, I don't necessarily support the idea of a playable Zelda. I'd only support it if it could be well integrated into the gameplay and the storyline without seeming forced.

@83 - pumpkinbunch - Congrats, you successfully named playable female characters in a small minority of games.



Sondheimist commented on Talking Point: Nintendo Should Aim to Produce ...:

@gsmaciel - Well said. Film (along with literature) is the art form I'm the most passionate about, but I always find it annoying to see video games trying to imitate movies. Video games and film are very different art forms (just as film is very different from music and literature is very different from theater,) and games are going to have to develop their own language rather than relying on traditional Hollywood storytelling methods. Extended "cinematic" (I use that term loosely, since the "cinematic" elements of games - cinematography, dialogue, etc. - are usually pretty generic and uninteresting, even if they're superficially "pretty") sequences often just seem like narrative shortcuts because the developers were too lazy to find more innovative, integrated ways to tell their stories.

I'm not saying there should never be film sequences in games, but there's definitely been an over-reliance on them in the past decade or so.

And, of course, I'm also perfectly fine with games that have no story at all. Some of the greatest films ever made have little or no story, and the joy comes in watching the characters interact - or in the sheer artistry of all the elements of filmmaking coming togheter in a unique and beautiful way (and I'm not just talking about the avant-garde, Brakhage/McLaren/Frampton stuff.) On the same note, some of the best and most satisfying (and artistic) game experiences, in my opinion, are those early arcade and NES games that eschew narrative entirely and focus entirely on gameplay. I've also been very impressed by some of the recent independent games that explore the boundaries of the medium and that display a certain amount of self-reflexivity. I think the latter games are some of the strongest signs yet that video games are really beginning to mature as an art form.

Anyways... I agree with the general gist of the article. Nintendo shouldn't abandon their core franchises (not that anyone has suggested they should,) but it would be really nice to see them branch out - probably by courting talented third party developers and offering incentives for them to provide exclusive content. It would also be great to see Nintendo create some entirely new franchises of its own. I love Nintendo and I love the games it makes, but it does sometimes seem like they've been stagnating a bit in recent years.

I own a PS3, and I'll be ordering "The Last of Us" within the next few months - so it's not like I'll be missing out on anything if Nintendo decides to keep on its current course. But the lingering Nintendo fanboy inside me still thinks it would still be nice to see the company diversify a bit - gaining new players while holding onto their core audience.


...Sorry, that was a really long post.



Sondheimist commented on The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past 2 Will...:

"A Link to the Past" is (probably) my favorite game, so this is going to be the game that finally pushes me into buying a 3DS (I know I should already have one, but I just don't have a lot of free time nowadays and I'm still very slowly catching up on all the great Wii/PS3/DS games.)



Sondheimist commented on These Screens Show What NES Games Would Be Lik...:

Ok, I can see where you're coming from. It does seem like the internet, in general, tends to be a venue for complaining. You either get a lot of uncritical fawning or a lot of nitpicking and complaining about relatively small issues. The internet is proof that it's impossible to please everyone.

In this case, though, I don't think anyone is being too extreme or outspoken in their "complaining." No one is saying (from what I've seen) that all modern games are junk or anything like that. They're expressing dissatisfaction with certain common trends, which I would consider perfectly legitimate complaints.

In general, though, I do agree that a lot of comments sections just devolve into whining (I'm not talking about this site, specifically - I don't read the comments here often enough to know.)



Sondheimist commented on These Screens Show What NES Games Would Be Lik...:

SunnyShores - I'm afraid you're attacking an argument that very few, if any people are making. The point isn't that modern games suck - it's that there are some (what many perceive to be) unfortunate trends in modern gaming. It doesn't ruin the games or make them terrible - it's just that a lot of us could do without the constant hand-holding in the new Zelda games or the extreme easiness of many games.

Don't mistake criticism for condemnation. Of course modern games also do a lot of things really, really well. We're poking fun at some of the weaker conventions of newer games, not condemning all modern games as junk. I'm pretty sure most people here play and really enjoy a lot of new games, but we can still recognize that they aren't perfect.

Older games weren't perfect either.

Excepting "A Link to the Past," of course.



Sondheimist commented on Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical: Sing & Dance Conf...:

I'll probably never get it, but it is nice to see more variety than just those compilations of awful pop songs. Webber isn't one of my favorite Broadway composers (I prefer the older classics, along with my namesake), but it's better than nothing.



Sondheimist commented on Feature: A Visual Guide to Nintendo's Handheld...:

I still have all these, excepting the Virtual Boy, sitting in my gaming closet. I still play my back-lit SP on a regular basis (seriously, there were a ton of great games for the GBA - and it's compatible with the enormous GB and GBC library of games.



Sondheimist commented on Dragon Quest X Japanese Bundle Shown Off:

Kirk - It won't be the first time the Dragon Quest series has been a bit "behind" graphically - I haven't played all the games in the series, but the PS1 version mostly looked like a slightly enhanced Super NES game.

Not that I mind. I personally play the DQ games for their retro-style gameplay and their customizability.



Sondheimist commented on E3 2012: Our View of Nintendo's E3:

@verymetal - "Xbox showed Halo 4, Sony showed the Last of Us, and Nintendo showed...Pikmin 3!"

"The Last of Us" looks amazing, but I'm about 2000x more excited for "Pikmin 3" than "Halo 4." Remember - there's more to great gaming than "photorealistic" graphics and "mature" content (not that those things are bad - people just seem to focus on them too much, ignoring a lot of truly great games.)

When it comes to highly entertaining and innovative gameplay, the "Pikmin" series beats just about anything out there. Nintendo's show was very disappointing, but "Pikmin 3" was one of the highlights of the entire convention.



Sondheimist commented on Feature: Obscure Series That Should Return on ...:

I would be most interested in seeing "Star Tropics" and "Mystical Ninja" revived. "Ogre Battle" would also be cool, though I'm not as familiar with the series.

I recently started replaying the first Goemon game on the N64 and I've been having a blast with it - it's one of those "childhood favorites" that holds up very well today.



Sondheimist commented on 3DS Hits 4 Million Console Sales in United States:

Don't you guys know it's not about the amount of consoles sold or the amount of games sold or the amount of profit Nintendo is making, it's about something something something something something something something something something I know nothing about economics but since I hate Nintendo I'm going to pretend to be an expert something something something something something something something something? In other words, Nintendo is DOOMED!



Sondheimist commented on Nintendo Crows About November Sales for Wii an...:

@Traxx - Except the Wii has sold "on and on" - it has sold tens of millions more than either of the other consoles. And, as we see here, it still sells pretty steadily.

It's not that we "fail to realize" that you can't sell consoles without a constant stream of high quality games - rather it's that the facts actually point to a very different conclusion from the one that you seem to have come to. If this generation has taught us anything, it's that, if you have the right "hook" (the motion controls), you can create an extremely popular console with a relatively small handful of core, must have titles and a huge number of third party titles (regardless of the quality of those third party titles.) Not only will that console sell well in the first few months, it will be an extremely consistent seller - one whose sales far surpass those of the competition. We also realize, unlike all the wannabe economists who are predicting the imminent downfall of Nintendo, that large companies can survive a disappointing year. Heck, they can even survive a disappointing generation.

There have been some worrying trends, of course. The amount of shovelware is appalling. Nintendo's insistence on "gameplay over graphics" is somewhat admirable (gameplay is far more important than graphics - as evidenced by the fact that so many NES and Super NES games are still so enjoyable) - but graphics do help sell games, and it may cause some serious problems in the next generation. Still - the Wii is many things, but it isn't a failure, at least not from a business standpoint. It's an extremely profitable console, and has re-established Nintendo as a household name.



Sondheimist commented on It's Official: Xenoblade Chronicles is Coming ...:

I'm not buying many new games at this point in my life, but I'll buy this because I really don't want Nintendo to get into the old habit of not releasing RPGs in the North American market. (...And also because I really want to play it.)



Sondheimist commented on Nintendo Can Recover From Loss, says EA Vice P...:

"I'm loving all this bishop hate going on! It's lovely to see so many hardcore nintendo fans! We have every right to disregard Anything negative said towards nintendo as rubbish,"

I'm assuming you're being sarcastic - the thing is, one can acknowledge that Nintendo has made some stupid decisions (especially in the last year) and still realize that some negative criticisms are going to be nonsense. That is to say, not all negative criticisms are equally valid - in this case, Bishop's are largely reactionary nonsense.

As others have pointed out, the DS and the Wii together have sold some 200,000,000 systems in only 6 years or so - that's more than any other video game company. That they have made some missteps this year doesn't somehow negate all the really smart business practices that have enabled them to sell that many systems. That is, one doesn't sell that many by being completely clueless about proper business tactics.

"I don't agree with Bishop but it doesn't make him a moron or anything like that for feeling the way he does."

Well, he probably isn't a moron, but he definitely is being reactionary and hyperbolic. The Wii and DS combined have sold some 200 million systems worldwide, and, in the last 5 or 6 years, Nintendo has been making a ton of money. One bad year isn't reason for them to "give up consoles", and isn't valid reason to believe that there's no way they'll ever pick themselves up again. Lots of major companies have had bad years (worse than this year has been for Nintendo), and have still survived for decades.

"The real clueless ones are those acting like 2011 has been anything but a pitiful year for Nintendo."

Nah - the real clueless ones are still those saying "even though the last five or six years have been extremely successful for you, and even though the Wii and DS are some of the best selling systems of all time, you just had a bad year so you should give up and pull out now." That's stupid by any standards, and in regards to any company.

Few, even here, would refute the idea that Nintendo has had a bad year. Realize though that calling out Bishop for his stupid comments isn't the same as denying that this had been a bad year for Nintendo. As stated above, though, the fact that some negative criticisms of the company are valid doesn't mean anything bad that can be said about it. What Bishop said reveals either an invested interest in the failure of Nintendo and/or a lack of understanding of the most basic understanding of economics and business practice.



Sondheimist commented on Talking Point: Nintendo's Plans to Fight Back:

"And the way they've pumped out handhelds and slightly modified handhelds seems like a disgusting marketing ploy to a business/marketing student. Smaller and thinner versions. Bigger and wider versions. It smells like desperation. It feels to me like Nintendo has lost its sense and dedication to fans with its panic."

Panic? Desperation?

One doesn't have to be a marketing student to see that the constant release of slightly updated systems is indeed a marketing ploy - a disgusting, wonderfully successful ploy for Nintendo.

Though it is interesting, and revealing of your own bias, that you interpret that decision as "desperate," when, to anyone with even a basic awareness of business trends in the electronic market, such upgrades would only indicate a basic awareness of the market on the part of Nintendo. That is to say, you're taking something that pretty much every company does (including Microsoft and Sony) - releasing "updated" versions of the same basic technology to hopefully hook in a few more buyers and to get the dedicated to upgrade their "outdated" (but not really) versions (look at the variations of sizes and colors and harddrive space in the various generations of the iPod - created by Apple, one of the least desperate of companies) - and condemning only Nintendo for it. You start out with a conclusion - that Nintendo is desperate - and use whatever nonsense argument comes to your mind, even if that very behavior is actually evidence of some amount of savvy on the part of the company involved.

That is to say, that it smells like "desperation" to you is only indication of your own ignorance of basic business practices.

"I'm guessing the Wii U's target market is kids who get systems which are paid for by mommy and daddy's VISA card."

Perhaps not a bad demographic to target, considering that kids who get systems paid for by mommy and daddy's VISA card are a really big part of the market - yes, there has been a major trend towards more adult gamers over the last decade, but kids (those not old enough to have a steady income) are still a huge segment of the gaming population.

"I can't see long term adult fans buying a barely upgraded piece of junk when there are already better systems available from less desperate companies. A commercial with a Nintendo employee grovelling on their knees begging consumers to purchase the system would be a charming touch."

As before, you're letting your anti-Nintendo bias get in the way of your reasoning abilities here. First, as already mentioned, you're overplaying the "desperation" of Nintendo just a tad bit. Yes, they are coming off of a pretty bad year - but they're also still making a ton of money from Wii and DS, both of which have been extremely profitable for them, and it's quite likely that 3DS sales will gain momentum as its library improves. Second, even if it were true that Nintendo was "desperate" (and I don't think there's much to justify that claim), the general consumer who doesn't spend much time reading video gaming sites (that is, the vast majority of the video game playing population, including parents who buy systems for their children) aren't going to be aware of that "desperation." That is to say, it's not like the Wii-U is going to be coated with a layer of flop sweat that serves as a warning to all customers of the desperation of its creators. Rather, parents will see that the "new Wii" is out, and they will see a Mario game or a Super Smash Bros. game, and they will buy it for the kids. And, contrary to the line that you so desperately want to sell, and regardless of your own feelings of the system's "inferiority," plenty of adult gamers will also see those same titles and decide to purchase the system for themselves.

Considering how little we still know about the system, your condemnation seems just a bit overeager, as if you desperately want what you are saying to be true. I know some people are really anxious to condemn Nintendo at every chance - but coming off one of the most popular consoles in history, there aren't really a lot of precedents to justify your pessimism.

I probably won't get a Wii-U, mainly because I've found myself becoming less and less interesting in new games over the past few years (though I'm still interested enough to follow this site, as well as some XBox and Sony sites) - but you're fooling yourself if you don't think that it will interest a pretty good portion of the gaming market (remembering, once again, that the Wii has been an extraordinary success for Nintendo and that the name alone is likely to get them high sales for at least another generation, regardless of the new console's quality.)



Sondheimist commented on Feature: Nintendo - Gaming in Black and White:


While you're right that great gameplay is timeless, you had to go and completely undermine your argument with this line:

"You watch a 1980 movie and you'll probably feel like your eyes are bleeding."

I love games, but I love films (of all eras and countries) even more, and you just got me into my lecture mode:

So your eyes bleed while watching, say, "The Empire Strikes Back" or "Raging Bull" or "Kagemusha" or "The Shining?" Heck, what you said about the timelessness of games is at least as true about the other art forms like film (and literature and music) - while special effects may improve, the important things like storytelling and filmmaking (cinematography, acting, writing, directing) stay pretty constant (even if certain styles go in and out of fashion.) Besides some different clothing fashions and decor, a lot of films made in 1980 look and feel a lot like films made today (especially if they're not oriented around special effects.) (For the record: in the past week I've watched two films from the 1940s, one from the 1950s, and three from the 1960s, and not a one of them made my eyes bleed. In fact, all but one of them was as incredibly entertaining as just about anything made today.)

Sorry about the tangent: I realize this is a video game site. I just think that the idea that "old" is equivalent to "inferior" or "inapplicable to our modern times," no matter what it's being said about, is very misguided (of course, the notion that just because something is old it must also be good is also misguided, but I don't see that as often.) My favorite films range from being made in 1916 to 2010, while my two favorite systems are the Super NES and the PlayStation 2 (simply because more of my favorite games were on those two consoles than any others.) What matters is those central aspects: In video gaming, it's the game play, and there are good and bad examples of that in every era.



Sondheimist commented on Round Table: The Ambassador NES Games:

Mandoble - Let's face it - even by today's standards at least half these games are still pretty fantastic, assuming one can get past the low quality graphics. This fairly young (I started gaming during the middle of the SNES era) gamer finds that the game play has held up remarkably well over the past 20-25 years (but I'm also the type of person who realizes that "old-fashioned" isn't always bad and that 90-year old silent films, 150-year old novels, and medieval-era music can be just as complex and high quality and entertaining as anything made today.)

In other words, several of these games have what counts - they're super fun to play, even if you weren't around for the NES era.