Why does Europe always get screwed when it comes to Japanese games?

Whenever a game developed in Japan gets released, it usually gets released in Japan first, and then in America, before finally getting released in Europe and worldwide. Because I live in the UK, where I have to wait for the EU release date, I’ve always wondered why this is the case?

Sometimes, for whatever reason, games that were made in Japan often don’t get released in Europe for a long time if they get released at all. For example, many of the newer Shin Megami Tensei games don’t get released in Europe until a few years after they were already released in America. Shin Megami Tensei IV, for instance, was already released in America in July 2013. In Europe, however, we have to wait until some time this month before it gets released on the 3DS eShop. This isn’t the first time we had to wait. The first Devil Survivor game on the DS never came out in Europe. However, it did get an enhanced port on the 3DS, which came out in Japan and America in 2011. Meanwhile, in Europe, we had to wait until March 2013 before it came out. Devil Survivor 2 would later be released in Europe on the old DS a few months later, never mind the fact that it already came out in America a year and a half earlier. Given the fact that the old DS could play imported games, why on Earth would Atlus release Devil Survivor 2 in a region where:

  1. The DS is now obsolete
  2. You could import the American version of the same game anyway
devil survivor 2
There’s Ghostlight trolling UK gamers.

It’s not just the SMT games. Many other JRPGs suffer the same problem with releasing games in Europe. The older Final Fantasy games were never released in Europe until they were remastered for later consoles such as the PS1 and the Game Boy Advance. The first real Final Fantasy game to be released in Europe was Final Fantasy VII, which came out two months after its American release, but the odd thing about it is that they didn’t change the title for the EU release, leaving European gamers to wonder what happened to Final Fantasy I through VI. A lot of JRPGs never got released to Europe at all. One example is the critically acclaimed Chrono Trigger (one of many games I must play before I die), which was released in Japan and America for the SNES in 1995, but to my dismay, the original version never got released in Europe, not even on Virtual Console. It did eventually get released in Europe on the Nintendo DS. There are also tons of other JRPGs that never released in Europe for unknown reasons, such as Xenogears and Lufia & the Fortress of Doom, which never made it to Europe at all, or the Fire Emblem games, which never made it outside Japan until 2003.

It’s not just JRPGs that take longer to get released in Europe. The original Mega Man wasn’t released in Europe until 1990, three years after it was already released in America. Europe would always get the Mega Man games last, and it would always be in the same year as the next Mega Man game had already been released in America, until Mega Man 6, which wasn’t released in Europe at all until it arrived on the 3DS eShop last year. Speaking of Mega Man, the Mega Man-inspired Azure Striker Gunvolt was released in America three days ago, but as of now, no European release date has been confirmed. I’ve read various GameFAQs boards where people express their frustration with the lack of a revealed EU release date.

azure striker gunvolt
I know I can’t wait for this game.

My point is simple. Why does Europe keep getting screwed over when it comes to Japanese games? Seriously, we usually either get them much later than the rest of the world does, or we don’t get them at all. Even worse is the fact that Nintendo still uses that outdated region-locking practice on the Wii U and the 3DS, making the wait even more frustrating. If Pokémon X and Y could get released worldwide and make tons of money, then maybe it’s time to start releasing games worldwide, or at least stop unfairly screwing over us European gamers who always have to wait much longer for games to come out.

The Simpsons: Just a cartoon?

Weeks ago, I was watching an episode of The Simpsons with my dad. It wasn’t an entirely bad episode, but I found myself criticizing the writing a lot. My dad, meanwhile, is content with the belief that The Simpsons is just a cartoon. From him, I got the impression that most ordinary people in the UK think that The Simpsons is basically just a funny cartoon, and I didn’t like that one bit.

Of course, I was basically questioning elements of The Simpsons like any critical writer should. I have a history of writing critically of The Simpsons. For me, it’s more than just a cartoon, or at least it used to be. In my opinion, it’s a show that was once a clever alternative to mainstream TV, but became a part of the very mainstream the writers tried to avoid.

the simpsons
Complete with Homer taking on the ice bucket challenge.

The Simpsons started out with intelligent writing, and in my opinion, this was exemplified in perfect form in the season 1 classic Bart the Genius. With this in mind, I hold every episode since Bart the Genius to the same high standards, which is part of the reason why I get really annoyed with how sloppy the writing gets in seasons 10 and onward.

For me, the biggest problem with taking The Simpsons as “just a cartoon” the way my dad does is that when you do, you end up ignoring some of show’s biggest problems. The characters have gotten completely bastardized by years of negligent writing, and the show’s chronology keeps getting altered more and more to keep up with the scrolling timeline. Also, newer episodes keep getting worse and worse, with some of them ripping off the premises of older episodes. On the Internet, this is a frequent subject of debate, but outside the Internet, I’ve only met a few people who understand my point, whether they agree or not. Then again, I mostly bring up this subject either at home or on the Internet.

Through all this, I’m trying to say that it’s not exactly fair or wise to take the Simpsons as just a funny cartoon, especially when it comes to the earlier seasons, which had episodes that were rich with clever cultural references, intuitive gags, and poignant social commentary, all of which go the way of the dodo in the newest episodes. Unfortunately, I can’t exactly blame a lot of people for it, given the increasingly cartoonish characterization of newer episodes.

the simpsons made worse
At least it didn’t get this bad.

Top 5 worst comic book movies

There have been so many movies based on comic book movies over the past ten years that it’s like a plague that has spread throughout Hollywood, but with every big fad, there’s always somebody trying to cash in on it. It just so happens that I’ve seen plenty of bad movies based on comic books, and this post is about the absolute worst of them all.

Before I start, let me clear up a few things. Firstly, this countdown has nothing to do with my new series of video game countdowns, which are exclusively about video games. Secondly, not all of the films listed here are based on American-made comic books. Some of them were based on foreign comic books, which I’ll mention as I go along. Thirdly, this list can only feature movies I’ve seen, so much as movies like Superman IV, Howard the Duck and Catwoman might deserve to be on this list, I can’t put them on this list. Finally, I’m not a comic book specialist, therefore I won’t be talking about the comics themselves. This is about bad movies, not whatever inspired them, so without further ado, let the countdown begin.

#5 – Priest

priest 2011
As if a movie called “Priest” wasn’t edgy enough.

For those of you who aren’t aware, Priest was originally a Korean comic book (or manhwa) that was published between 1998 and 2007. It was notable for fusing the Western genre with horror and dark fantasy themes, but if you mention it today, there’s a good chance that, unless you live in South Korea, most people might think of the god-awful movie that came out in 2011.

Unlike all the other entries on this list (which you’ll see eventually), I actually think that this movie could have been good. There was plenty of potential in this movie, but the film-makers squandered it. Almost as soon as the movie starts, you’ll notice that it opens with an animated prologue. If the whole movie were animated, I’m sure it would have been better. Making a live-action movie out of this premise just seems pointless, especially since we already had the Underworld films milking the same style and premise.

With that in mind, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this movie was basically a rip-off of the Underworld films, and I’ve heard that the Underworld films weren’t exactly stellar either. That’s not the only reason why Priest made it on this list. It’s also plagued by clichéd characters, dull action, poor amount of lighting, and atrocious writing. Suffice it to say, it’s so bad that you wouldn’t wish this movie on your worst enemies.

#4 – Elektra

More like electro-gonorrhoea.

From the director of the soul-crushingly dreadful Reign of Fire, we have Elektra, who was based on a forgettable Marvel character. I swear this movie only exists because Ben Affleck’s sweetheart wanted a movie after he already made Daredevil, which somehow became a box office success. I’ve never seen Daredevil, but I can safely say that Elektra was just garbage.

The main reason I hated this movie was because it just felt like I was watching a cliché martial arts movie with low production values, and no charm whatsoever. Elektra herself is basically a stereotypical femme fatale, but believe it or not, she isn’t the most poorly written character in the entire film. Every other character is written and portrayed so poorly that you probably won’t even notice their existence.

To be fair, this movie isn’t nearly as bad as movies like Reign of Fire and Season of the Witch, but it still cements Rob Bowman as a hack director. Thankfully, this was the last movie he ever made, and at the very least this isn’t the worst comic book movie ever. Unfortunately, there are three more movies that are far more deserving of the title.

#3 – Dragonball Evolution

a.k.a. Dragonball without balls

What happens when you take Dragon Ball, one of the most famous and beloved Japanese manga/anime of all time, and put it into a cliché story? You get one of the worst movies ever made. If you’re reading this, you probably know what I’m talking about.

Dragonball Evolution distorted the plot of the Dragon Ball series in so many ways, such as turning Goku into another cliché high school underdog, turning Bulma into a character I didn’t even care about, and making Piccolo look like the Green Goblin from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. Looking back on it, it’s even worse than what Ninja Theory did in DmC: Devil May Cry, because nothing about Dragonball Evolution was enjoyable whatsoever.

If its blatant lack of respect for the Dragon Ball franchise wasn’t enough, this movie is also plagued by putrid writing that’s even worse than Priest and Blade: Trinity put together, and the acting was so incredibly hackneyed that it takes you right out of the film and makes it impossible to take the characters seriously.

For all the flaws I mentioned, the reason this movie is only #3 on this list is because I’ve seen movies that were far worse than this. I should also not that whenever I bring up this movie in conversation at home, my brother makes it plainly obvious that he hates this movie with a burning passion for the same reasons I put this movie on the list, but for him, it’s even worse.

#2 – Batman & Robin

batman and robin
Too much silver can’t be good for you.

By now, everybody knows about Batman & Robin, and pretty much everyone can agree that it sucks. With that in mind, you might be wondering why it’s only #2. I’ll give you three reasons why.

  1. There’s a movie that’s much worse than this.
  2. In a way, it’s become something of a punchline.
  3. Everyone says it’s the worst.

Those reasons aside, this movie stands out as the worst Batman movie ever made. At least Batman Forever was fun, but this movie took the camp atmosphere of Batman Forever to uncomfortable levels. The props were downright horrific, the costumes were so flashy it’s stupid, and acting was cheesy to the point of it being downright insulting to the ears. Honestly, I’m surprised that the whole script didn’t consist of lame ice puns from what is possibly the worst performance in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s entire career.

Let’s not forget about the script, which was so bad that it dragged down every character in it, and believe it or not, it’s even worse than any episode of the 60’s Batman TV show. Speaking of the show, it’s pretty clear that the film-makers tried as hard as possible to recreate the camp atmosphere of the 60’s Batman TV show, to the point that they actually added Batgirl to the cast. All Batgirl did was make the film longer in the most stupidly pointless way.

Perhaps the real reason why Batman & Robin sucked is because it ruined what could have been a classic anthology of films. The first Batman movie starring Michael Keaton was great, Batman Returns was better, and although Batman Forever wasn’t as good, I enjoyed it. Batman & Robin, however, was a stain on the Batman franchise. Let’s hope I never have to talk about this movie again.

#1 – The Spirit

the spirit
If that’s “The Spirit”, then that city is doomed.

If you thought Batman & Robin was horrible, you’d be right, but that’s nothing compared to The Spirit, one of the worst movies ever made. It tried to simultaneously revive an dated DC superhero and copy Sin City’s style and atmosphere, but unlike Sin City, The Spirit failed miserably.

The film’s style is a bastardized version of Sin City’s unique visuals, but apparently they didn’t shell out the cash for good special effects, and so they apparently made this film look even worse. It looks like an even campier version of Sin City if the whole film revolved around one unlikable lead character who pretentiously monologues about “the city needing him”. There’s so much melodrama that it’s almost tongue-in-cheek, and that’s not a very good sign.

Everything about this movie was horrendous. The story made absolutely no sense whatsoever, the characters were stereotypical and hackneyed beyond belief (the result of which is Samuel L. Jackson’s worst performance yet). The special effects are terrible, and the action scenes were choreographed so badly, that they’re viewed from the most ridiculous angles just to hide how much of a terrible job they did.

Say what you will about movies like Batman and Robin, Superman IV, Spider-Man 3, and Ang Lee’s Hulk. As bad as those movies are, The Spirit sets the bar so much lower than all of them put together. Without a shred of doubt, I can say that The Spirit is the worst comic book movie you could possibly find.

My thoughts on Pokkén Tournament

pokken tournament

Does anyone remember back in 2013 when mysterious footage of a game featuring Blaziken and Lucario was leaked at the Pokémon Game Show? Well, that mysterious game has now been confirmed as Pokkén Tournament, a collaboration between the Pokémon and Tekken franchises. From what I can tell, it’s basically a fighting game where you get to play as Fighting-type Pokémon, though my suspicions haven’t exactly been confirmed as of yet.

As of now, very little of the game has been, and the only two Pokémon shown in the trailer are Lucario and Machamp (although I’m certain that Blaziken will be in this game). Also, Pokkén Tournament won’t feature any Tekken characters, which makes sense because I don’t imagine Nintendo making a Pokémon game with Tekken characters in it. The only other thing I know is that it’s going to be released for Japanese arcades in 2015. No Western release dates have been confirmed as of yet, and the possibility of a Wii U release has neither been confirmed nor denied by the publishers.

I’ve seen the trailer for this game, and it honestly looks like it could be a good game. Unfortunately, some of the comments on YouTube don’t agree with me. Don’t get me wrong, there are positive comments, but a lot of the ones I’ve read are stupid. One YouTube commenter even bashed Nintendo just because they aren’t going to release it on the Xbox and Playstation consoles. Why should they? It’s a Nintendo-developed game. Why would Nintendo not protect the console exclusivity of its franchises if they wanted you to buy their consoles. Most of the other comments are stupid too, with a lot the commenters just being mad at the fact that this game is even being released Japanese arcades.

Where some of these people expecting 7th generation Pokémon? That would be redundant seeing as we already had Pokémon X and Y announced and released last year. To be fair, I was hoping for a Pokémon Battle Revolution game for Pokémon X and Y, but I’ve got to give The Pokémon Company some credit because I didn’t expect them to announce this as a full-fledged game.

I’ll admit that it might be too early to judge, but I think that it might actually be a really good concept for a Pokémon spin-off, and it may provide new possibilities. Yes, it’s likely that we may only be playing as Fighting-type Pokémon, but that’s kind of the point. Also, if Lucario could Mega Evolve in Pokkén Tournament, and if Blaziken could Mega Evolve in Pokkén Tournament, then I think that opens up the possibility for more Mega Evolutions. For example, Machamp was featured in the trailer for Pokkén tournament. I can’t help but think that there might be a Mega Machamp for Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, along with various other Mega Evolutions for any other Pokémon that might be in Pokkén Tournament. Is Medicham going to be in this game? It already has a Mega Evolution, and is more than ideal for this game, so why not?

Well, I think that’s enough of this rant. As with any Pokémon game, I’m going to keep my eye open for new details of this fascinating new project, and as always, I have faith that it’ll be a Pokémon game that’s worth my time, like a true Pokémon fan would.

When gaming franchises stagnate

Whenever a popular video game evolves into a video game franchise, it’s only natural that all subsequent games would fall into old patterns, often repeating the same gameplay formula over and over again very little differences. The odd thing is that some franchises are singled out because of this, while other franchises can get away with blatant repetition.

mega man x6
I’m looking at you, Mega Man X6.

There are quite a few franchises that suffer blatant repetition, but when I think about stagnating gameplay, there are four franchises that I think of:

  • The Mega Man franchise
  • The Dynasty Warriors franchise
  • The Call of Duty franchise
  • The Mario franchise (yes, I said it)

One thing I’ve noticed is that most Mario games follow pretty much exactly the same, especially in the 2D platforming titles, but nobody really seems to care that’s the same formula, which I guess is excusable since Mario still plays well. One thing I don’t get is how the Mario and Call of Duty games keep getting glowing reviews from critics even if it’s just the same game every year, but when Mega Man and Dynasty Warriors fall into a stagnating pattern, the critics aren’t as flattering towards those games.

Meanwhile, ordinary gamers on the Internet still praise the Mario and Mega Man franchises despite subsequent games growing stale, but Call of Duty meanwhile has become the most reviled video game franchise on the Internet for more than that exact reason. It’s gotten so bad that some people hate Call of Duty games just because it’s a Call of Duty game.

Doesn’t it seem really bizarre that some video game franchises are allowed to stagnate just because of their status as “classic games”, while other game franchises like Call of Duty and FIFA receive tons of hate for falling into the same pattern just because they’re popular today. There’s one word for this sort of mentality – hypocrisy.

Seriously, it’s as though both critics and gamers selectively decide which franchises have gone stale based solely on their popularity. Critics seem to give Mario and Call of Duty nothing but praise, while on the Internet, we have an army of cynics who’ll spam hate on the popular games for no good reason other than the fact that they’re popular, or because they hate the fanbase.

Another thing odd I notice is that whenever the next entry in an established video game franchise does something new and risky, there’s a good chance that the fans of that franchise are likely to hate on it before it even comes out. The two best examples of this are Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure and DmC: Devil May Cry.

dmc devil may cry
Haters gonna hate.

Are fans really unable to tolerate change whatsoever? Having not played any of the Devil May Cry games first hand, I don’t see how Dante’s design is really horrible. Yes, he looks worse than the old Dante, but at least he still has personality. Is that not enough for one of the most implacable fanbases in the history of gaming? It’s just as bad is basically saying it’s okay for the Devil May Cry franchise to repeat the same formula over and over again, and we all know how good Capcom is at repeating the same game over and over again.

Through all this, I’m trying to say that we shouldn’t forgive one video game franchise for stagnating while criticising other video game franchises for the same reason. Not only does this make no sense, but it’s also a blatantly illogical double standard.

Why any “immigration debate” is one-sided

Often we’ll hear about politicians rambling on about immigration, and how it’s supposedly a big deal. Is there any real issue with immigration? Of course not. Immigration is basically just a scapegoat that the jingoists in Westminster use to divert from the nation’s real problems, such as an unpopular, incompetent coalition government. Unfortunately, since these politicians know how to tap into people’s nationalistic sensibilities, we now have an army of idiots who know nothing about how immigration or the economy works, but still ramble on like mindless drones.

anti-migrant protesters
They clearly have no idea.

Even sillier is the notion of a debate on immigration. One side believes that immigration enriches British society, while the other side believes that immigration should be halted. Obviously this is a hot-tempered response to the number of immigrants who migrated illegally, but conservatives don’t just want to deal with “illegal immigration”. They’d rather block all immigration, and trick people into thinking that there’s no difference between legal immigration and illegal immigration.

For me, the whole notion of an “immigration debate” seems rather silly because it’s mainly opened by xenophobes who want to bring Britain back to a state of Victorian mentality because they’re nostalgic for the days of the empire. Also, whenever the media talks about immigration, they never ever show the opinions of actual migrants, and this makes any “debate” inherently unfair.

Any debate on immigration can be dominated by either side, with nasty consequences either way. If a right-wing nut job dominates the debate, it’s because he/she uses a bunch of jingoistic rhetoric and logical fallacies (such as the false dichotomy) to cancel any semblance of debate.  If a left-wing nut job dominates the debate, it’s because he/she can use liberal guilt to make it sound like you’re being racist for even bringing this up to begin with. If you happen to argue with any of those people, you can’t win.

Honestly, I think it’s insane that we’ve made a wedge issue over whether or not a foreigner should have the basic right to live and work here, in the 21st century no less. Personally, I think that there’s no reason why we can’t let immigrants live and work here as long as they’re not doing anything wrong. I also think that any semblance of debate on this issue has become nothing more than a platform for people’s single-minded political views, and it serves no purpose other than to distract from real issues. If you got sucked in, then you’ve effectively fallen for what is essentially a government distraction campaign, and that’s all I have left to say on this topic.

Sitcom logic explained

Ever noticed that most, if not all sitcoms feature storylines, characters, and jokes that all follow the same formula? If you haven’t, then I really would be surprised. If you have, it shouldn’t surprise you that much, since the sitcom is the single most repetitive genre in TV history. Every cliché of character and plot development in sitcoms is part of what I call “sitcom logic”.

everybody loves raymond
If everyone in the cast being an idiot is a sitcom writer’s idea of logic.

Despite me having seen numerous sitcom episodes over the past three years (for reasons I still don’t understand), this is something that’s actually quite hard for me to explain, because sometimes it doesn’t seem that way, but I think I can break it down.

The most glaringly obvious trait about sitcom logic is the depiction of men. According to every sitcom ever made, men are idiots. Not only is it flat out insulting, but it’s also terribly sexist. It’s not as though sitcoms treat women much better. In fact, sitcom writers always seem to make women look vacuous, self-indulgent, controlling and/or shallow, but in every sitcom, they have to get their way, or else it seems sexist. Even The Simpsons isn’t immune to this inane false logic, because in every episode where Homer and Marge have some sort of dispute, it ends with Homer and Marge getting back together under the most impossible circumstances, and with Marge always being right.

Whenever a sitcom centres around a family, it always tries to promote familialism (a.k.a. “family values”) even if they portray an unrealistically dysfunctional family. I don’t think the doctrine of familialism even has a place in this century, and yet there are still sitcoms that still have the nerve to insist that normality can only exist in the outdated patriarchal family unit, and that’s in spite of every time they portray even a shred of dysfunctionality within said family unit.

home improvement
Any family with Tim Allen in it is probably screwed.

Another aspect of sitcom logic is that everyone who’s open-minded about sex is a pervert with psychological issues. In Two and a Half Men and in the newer episodes of Family Guy, the womaniser always has a psychological issue which, according to the dumbass writers, is being compensated for by chasing after pretty girls with daddy issues. Did it ever occur to people that you can be a womaniser without it being just a way to hide deep psychological issues? I guess that’s just a way of demonizing anything other than a traditional family lifestyle, because according to sitcom logic, the traditional, patriarchal family is the only acceptable lifestyle.

One thing I really hate about sitcoms is that they’re almost always from the perspective of an idiot. Are they saying it’s cool to be stupid? That’s sitcom logic, dumbing down the populace since the 1950’s. You’d be very naive if you think that sitcom logic has changed in any way. The only difference is that people’s tastes have changed, and we now have vacuous garbage like Big Bang Theory2 Broke GirlsModern Family and Mom, all of them tailored for an equally vacuous society. The thing they have in common is that they all embody the same awful stereotypes and sitcom logic as all the older sitcoms do.

At this point, I should probably wrap up this rant on sitcom logic. I find it baffling that it still even exists, even more so that it goes unnoticed. If sitcoms can’t survive without that lazy false logic, than I say sitcoms are doomed, and may they rest in agony.

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