Saturday, September 19, 2009

Exploring Endless Ocean 2

I'm sure this sounds strange to some of you, but Endless Ocean 2 is one of my most-anticipated games for 2010. The original, released in early 2008, is one of my favorite Wii games, and all signs point to the sequel besting its predecessor in every way.

Hey, don't take my word for it--even the editors at Wikipedia think Arika's second trip to the "endless ocean" will be more spectacular than its first:

"Endless Ocean 2
features improved graphics and larger explorable areas than the previous game. In contrast to Endless Ocean, which featured a single location, Endless Ocean 2 allows players to travel to six different diving spots around the globe, including new polar and river locations. The plot of the game involves a woman named Oceana and her search for an artifact called the Dragon Stone, but players will be able to ignore it or follow it at their leisure.

"The ability to dive with a dolphin as a companion returns from the first game, and players will now also be able to ride them to quickly move through the water. Players can also sell salvaged treasure for money that can be used to buy items to decorate reefs and aquariums. Potentially dangerous creatures such as sharks and crocodiles will now illicit a warning for players and may even attack them; players will be able to drive them off using a new tranquilizer-like tool called the Pulsar, which calms them down.

"The game features online co-operative multiplayer that allows communication using the Wii Speak peripheral. As with the first game, players will also be able to take pictures during their dives, which they can now save to an SD card."

For a glimpse of the Japanese version of Endless Ocean 2 in action, head over to the always-fabulous and watch a series of gameplay videos that have been posted by cutie patootie Josh Thomas.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tingle: Creepy or cute?

I'm a bit of a fence-sitter when it comes to Tingle, Nintendo's fairy-loving loser. On the one hand, he can be awfully cute--as he is in the image to the right. On the other, he can be awfully creepy, too--as he is, well, whenever he opens his mouth and says, "Tingle, Tingle, Kooloo-Limpah!"

Meagan VanBurkleo over at seems to be as indecisive as I am when it comes to this unitard-clad character. Don't believe me? Take a look at the list she included in her recent article, "Creepy or Cute? These Characters Walk the Line."

The Culprit:
Tingle. Evidently love and adoration for Tingle was lost in translation, as most North American gamers find Tingle decidedly disturbing. Not so in Japan, were he has his own breakout title, Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland.

The Pros:
• Rosy cheeks and smiling eyes
• Assumedly punctual
• Family man
• Travels in a balloon
• Owns an island

The Cons:
• Middle-aged man in a unitard
• Red underoos
• Resembles a toddler with facial hair
• Fairies don’t even like him
• Has done hard time
• Money hungry

The Verdict: Creepy (In an eternal child kind of way)

Square-Enix releases NieR Replicant trailer

In advance of the Tokyo Game Show, the powers that be at Square-Enix have decided to release a trailer for NieR Replicant, the PS3 title that is sure to become known (to teenage gamers in the States, especially) as "that game with the hermaphrodite."

Said hermaphrodite (her name is Kaine, thank you very much) is the white-haired lass that can be seen quite a few times in the following trailer, in case you're interested.

The game looks quite interesting to these eyes, though I have to admit that the smiley-faced creature that appears around the minute mark freaks me out to no extent.

Anyway, here's to hoping there's some substance to the final product--and to the futunari-esque Kaine.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

NieR Replicant to feature a futunari?

WTF is a "futunari," you ask? Well, according to Wikipedia, the term can be used to describe "any hentai [pornographic anime or manga] character that possesses both the traits of a female and the penis of a male." Apparently, it can be used to describe game characters, too.

Anyway, it seems Square-Enix's upcoming title, NieR Replicant, will feature a futunari. Specifically, the hermaphroditic character in question, named Kaine, will act as the protagonist's partner, according to a magazine scan posted over at Kotaku.

One of that site's avid (and educated) visitors kindly translated the text that accompanied an image of the confusing character:

"With the left half of her body infected by a demon, she's what's called a 'demon possessed' human - possessing sexual characteristics of both sexes. Suffering from being bullied since a young age, her resultant rebelliousness and thirst for revenge made her flaunt her feminine appearance beyond necessity. However, her demeanor is far from feminine. Her way of speaking and manners are also quite brutish."

Sounds good to me, although I have to say I'm a bit worried that Square-Enix will neuter (literally and figuratively) this wonderfully bizarre character when and if the title--supposedly a PS3 exclusive--is brought Stateside.

Do developers have an ethical responsibility to accurately depict gender roles in games?

The folks over at recently posted a thoroughly thought-provoking editorial (authored by Mike Doolittle) about gender roles in video games.

Specifically, Doolittle attempts to answer the question: Do developers have an ethical responsibility to accurately depict gender roles in games?

Truth be told, I don't agree with much of what Doolittle has to say. For example, there's the following:

"Even if I fully agreed with [fellow writer] Alex Raymond's opinions on the allegedly sexist representation of women in games, the greater issue is whether game developers have any ethical responsibility to portray these issues to Alex's (or anyone else's) liking in their works of fiction. Homosexuality, for example, represents roughly 5% of the population (exact statistics vary, but this will suffice as a ballpark). Does that mean that in any game where there is sexual choice, that 5% of the characters should be gay?"

Then there's this nugget of wisdom:

"Games are, of course, artistic reflections of our cultural ideologies, and it's worthwhile to consider how our culture is reflected for better or worse in the arts. But when Alex starts suggesting that games ought to portray women this way or that, that having an insectoid queen bearing lots of children is patriarchal, that there should be more ugly females, that there should be more homosexual and transgendered characters, it's going too far.

"Artists in any medium have no ethical obligation to create works that are accurate representations of reality. These are works of fiction, and while I would certainly welcome and applaud more games that portrayed women in less traditional roles and/or explored more complex themes of sexuality (of which, as many readers have noted, Mass Effect is a fine example), I draw a line before saying that the creative minds behind video games are under any ethical obligation to do so."

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't necessarily think developers are obliged (ethically or otherwise) to create games that accurately depict gender roles and sexual orientations, but I *do* think they should want to create games that accomplish those things.

What do you think? Do developers have a responsibility to accurately depict gender roles (and sexual orientations) in games?

(BTW, if you're at all interested in this topic, click through to and read not only Doolittle's editorial but the comments that follow.)