MisanthroPlay Episode #55 Jeremy Blaustein on the Art of Localization

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Robert and Alva sit down with the multi-talented Jeremy Blaustein (Metal Gear Solid, Snatcher, Silent Hill 2, Shadow Hearts Covenant) to discuss his twenty-five year career in the Japanese games industry. We discuss the ups, the downs, the role of the translator as creator, the dilemma of translating Trump, and kiboshed Snatcher remakes and sequels.

Listen to the episode here.

Check out Jeremy's localization company at Babydragon.jp.

October Terror Story #15 Super Mario Bros. 3

by Alva Chua

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Super Mario Bros. 3
Nintendo Entertainment System

The Super Mario Games are tautly structured sets of rules. That’s what makes them enjoyable and even beautiful at times.

You see objects you can jump over them. Blocks you can smash. Enemies that affect other enemies. Within minutes, the order of things is set.

You’re bounding through a world of systemic cartoon beauty. Every symbol is clear to you--if something has eyes, it’s probably sentient, and although that’s disturbing in its own way, it fits into the world and you move on.

It’s a desert. You can tell it’s a desert because of the sun that is literally glaring down at you, frowning. You can tell the desert is hostile because even the sun hates you. Cartoon logic made manifest. There are rules, after all.

There are supposed to be rules.

Rules that are willfully broken when the sun itself untethers itself from its perch in the sky, and defying perspective and logic, charges at you. It hunts you, and kills you with its deadly touch.

There are many moments of tension in the Mario games. But for the mind-bending terror of a celestial body bringing things to a personal level, few things in the 8-bit era match this moment for terror.

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October Terror Story #14 In the Friend Zone

by Robert Fenner

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In the Friend Zone
Get it at Itch.io

You wander dazed through a decimated cityscape. Twisted asphalt rises up in all directions. Past the highway and over a chainlink fence lies a worn-down old church. Inside, they worship blue balls. You make your way to a nightclub, the bass reverberates within your ears. The dancefloor is an unusable wreck; mostly deserted, save for a scattered simpering sausage party, its patrons crawling over each other, using each other, begging for the ability to change their lot.

They wait their turn to be called. You wait your turn. Their turns do not come. Your turn does not come. Not ever.

Entitlement has banished you to the Friend Zone. And you deserve it.

In the Friend Zone is like Lovecraft's Dagon for """nice guys""".

October Terror Story #13 The Coma: Recut

by Robert Fenner

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The Coma: Recut
Playstation 4 / Steam

The Coma: Recut is a tough game to talk about. A Director's Cut of 2015's The Coma: Cutting Class, Recut is a Korean horror game from indie developer Devespresso that follows the misadventures of Youngho, a pretty unlikable milquetoast as he falls asleep during an exam only to wake up in a nightmarish version of his school. If that sounds similar to Detention, you're right, but only in the loosest sense. Although the two games share a common setting and prologue, they really couldn't be more different: Detention is a point and click adventure first and foremost, while The Coma is much more like a traditional survival horror game transposed to 2D.

As you make your way around your haunted high school finding keys to doors, you're pursued by a disconcertingly sexy zombie. The thing about The Coma is that it's oddly fetishy; female NPCs wear sky-high stilettos or have bandaged arms, while the ghosts who chase you have heaving bosoms and legs for days. I guess it's Youngho's teenage libido run wild, like a wet dream James Sunderland.

You can hide from your vivacious pursuer in filthy toilet cubicles and closets, or you can attempt to crouch down and hold your breath, but that last one never seemed to work for me. Eventually hiding in closets stopped working for me too, as occasionally a bug would pop up that would lock the controls when exiting a closet and force a restart.

As The Coma progresses, a theme begins to emerge that attempts to critique the pressures of the Korean school system. Admittedly I don't know the first thing about that, but the quality and tone of the writing muddy the message into coming off more like teenage angst than a pointed evaluation of social issues.

You might get the impression that I'm not too hot on The Coma: Recut, and you'd be right. That said, running around the hallways of a dilapidated school always ticks the horror box for me, and it can be genuinely chilling and stressful when it wants to be. It's no Detention--few games are--but it doesn't have to be. If you previously bought The Coma: Cutting Class on Steam, you're entitled to a free copy of Recut, which was nice of Devespresso, so go check if you have it.

 

October Terror Story #12 Hypnogogia

by Robert Fenner

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Hypnogogia
Get it at Itch.io

Games never get drugs right.

The hallucinatory sequences in titles like Max Payne and Fallout 3: Point Lookout are heavy on the spectacle and the metaphor. And yet, it's hard to blame them too much. Even if one has experienced a dissociative experience first hand, it's such a fleeting and obscure moment that it's difficult to effectively adapt to any medium. Like pornography, it's not easy to define but you know it when you see it.

Hypnogogia [sic] is one of the more realistic trip simulators that I've played, as its hallucinations exist in the periphery. A bubble of reality exists around you, while an ever shifting, melting world of unknowable sights lies just out of grasp, as if you're the last, shrinking island in a foreign world. Or so I've heard.

A simplistic browser-based game, Hypnogogia follows the misadventures of a man who's chosen to take a psilocybin trip at the worst possible time. Visited by a number of angry guests (your boss, a possible blackmailer, etc), our hero has chosen to keep his emotions in check by scarfing down magic mushrooms. Each line of dialogue causes fluctuations in your mood, and you're given a choice of one of four mushrooms to eat to ease the pain. These can cause any number of hallucinations, whether it be slight, vivid, or overpowering--notable that the only consistency is your immediate vicinity; the chair in which you sit, the TV bathing you in static. Each mushroom has its own side effects, and if a side effect takes a mood over its manageable threshold, our hero projectile vomits all over the place and the game is over. Heavy.

Hypnogogia comes with a Mush Guide that details what mushrooms you have on hand at any given moment and what effect they have. The game is unplayable without it, but sometimes the descriptions in the guide can be vague or misleading, and what you think might even things out will end up speed-dialing Ralph, and that's just rude in front of guests.

The biggest problem with Hypnogogia is that there appears to be only one correct answer to each situation. I played around with it a lot, and only made it to its conclusion after much trial and error and memorization. A little extra room for experimentation would've been nice, or at least a checkpoint system between guests. That said, this Law of the West by way of Hunter S Thompson is worth a look before bed tonight.