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Going back to the start

And yes, I get that IDW is slow-rolling lots of stuff from G1, but sometimes it's more interesting when they don't.

It’s a promo image; I just wish they were more interesting combiners to promote.

I was excited for the launch of the Combiner Wars subline for Transformers, because I really like giant robots that transform and I really like when those giant transforming robots themselves transform into combined robots.  But I was also apprehensive, because I had a pretty strong feeling that it was going to mean a whole bunch of the same thing we see every time.  And sure enough, we have another Optimus Prime, and the first two combiners are the Aerialbots and the Stunticons.

This was not altogether surprising.  As we prepare for another Spider-man movie that yet again sets the clock back to the earliest stories, it’s worth asking the question of why we keep feeling the need to retell these stories until we’re all blue in the face.  It’s not that there’s a problem with remaking things; I quite like when someone takes something familiar and puts a new twist on it.  I am, however, less thrilled when that “new twist” is just an update in the time of release.

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Growing out

Just okay.

I have it on reliable authority that this was largely okay.

Reading the descriptions of anime on Netflix made me wonder why I’d ever cared about it.

It wasn’t as if I really needed to; I had just finished watching through Star Trek Voyager and needed something new to watch, so I was browsing through shows.  I was glancing at anime because, hell, it’s been years since I’ve seen an anime that I genuinely enjoyed, despite the fact that anime was central to such important parts of my life like “meeting my future wife” and “starting me on my current career path.”  So I was flipping through, looking at some of the shows that had gotten critical praise, and…

Crap on a stick.  Was anime always just a parade of teenage breasts and shitty premises?

I still think there are loads of wonderful stories that anime has given us over the years, and I’m reluctant to say that it’s somehow modern anime that’s the problem; there have always been terrible shows designed to serve as high-velocity fanservice dispensers.  The problem, in part, is me.  Novelty made these things appealing enough to overlook when I was younger, but once the novelty light gets yanked away I start to see what was always there.

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Hard Project: The X-Files

I'm not saying that this series would be vastly improved with a constant string of Big Lebowsky references, but would.

“I think it’s aliens.”
“Shut the fuck up, Mulder.”

If I were asked to list things from my younger days that would be coming back as I pass through the early years of my 30s, The X-Files would not have been on that list.  But here we are with talk about a revival floating around, which doesn’t seem like a terribly good idea but may very well be a thing that happens anyway.  And that would possibly mean video games, something that the franchise has yet to pull off.

Just like compelling mythology arcs or decent feature films or spin-offs, if you want to be glib.

There were two games based on the show, and both suffered from fairly poor reviews; the first was functionally a mildly interactive movie, the second was a short shot to a Resident Evil clone that was plagued with an obtuse camera and overly complicated puzzles.  But neither one is entirely to blame in this particular situation.  The X-Files is a really hard show to make a decent game out of.  Or a decent feature film, or comic, or sequel, or…

All right, I’m not using that joke again.

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Review scores are silly

Because why not.

I give this questline a solid twelve elf ancestors out of four.

I hate review scores and I always have since the age of, oh, let’s just say ten.  Don’t get me wrong; I understand the why behind them.  I know full well why people have felt it necessary to append a whole written review with a score at the very end, a quick and easy sound bite.  But I think that anything more ornate than a thumb up or down is gilding the lily, and even that has a central problem of obscuring the most valuable part of the review: the actual review.

What I do here could not be construed as “reviewing” beyond demos and the occasional Patron-sponsored piece.  I have no temptation to do scored reviews, and we’ve already seen a few high-profile gaming news sites yank scores from their reviews.  But this is an issue that goes beyond just video games.  It’s something that we’ve had to deal with for years in movies, comics, shows, and almost everything else.  It’s trying to boil a whole lot of factors down to a number.  It’s silly, and it’s destructive, and it’ll be best if we can get rid of it.

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Why fan translations make me leery

I'm not saying it's perfect, I'm saying it's the reality unless you wish to never play a game developed by people who don't speak English.

“Well, why did they change anyone’s name?”
Because you can fit names into four characters that you can’t fit into four letters, because that’s how different languages work.

Localization is really, really tricky.

I have played through games that have been localized poorly, don’t get me wrong.  The original translation for Final Fantasy Tactics appears to have been made by a group of people for whom neither English nor Japanese was a native language; the same character or place will be referred to by two different names within the same dialogue.  I played through all of Lunar: Silver Star Story despite the fact that it was laden with pop culture references that seemed dated ten minutes after launch.  And I’m willing to bet good money that some parts of Transistor got mistranslated from whatever divine language the Supergiant folks speak.

But there’s a lot more to localization than just running a quick Google Translate on all of the words and typing out the resulting dialogue.  Translation is hard enough on its own, but localization is both necessary to make sure you aren’t vomiting out incoherent word soup and a form of editing by necessity.  Because there’s no such thing as a perfect translation of anything from one language to another.  Hence why fan translations earn a bit of a raised eyebrow from me.

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