Single axis of favorites (or, why I don’t like making “favorite ___” lists)

Many of us, at some point, have been asked what’s our favorite song, favorite musician, favorite game, favorite film. etc. Or a list of favorites in a particular category, which is an extension of that concept.

I don’t like to list what my favorite whatever is, because it would require me to put things I like on a single axis of quality.

Let’s take games for example. Two of my favorite games are Ketsui and Gradius Gaiden; if you made me compile a top 5 shmups list at gunpoint, they would be in that list. I love the former because playing it competitively encourages fun but risky point-blank attacks, but won’t cripple the player completely just because they died or fired a bomb (unless they were going for the ura loop), and the latter because it provides a wonderful selection of ships that are all balanced yet stand out on their own and a vibrant, diverse collection of stages. But that doesn’t mean these two games are better than everything else in every way; no one game is going to be perfect. Another game I play, Eschatos, is something I wouldn’t consider one of my favorites because of a few qualities that make playing it seriously a bit of a joke, but its wave-based stage progression and emphasis on speedkilling in Original and Time Attack modes are two things I really like because they don’t show up enough in 2D shooters. Every game is different, and even if I don’t get as much enjoyment out of one game over another, I can still find some things to appreciate in the game I enjoy less.

Another example would be music. For the most part I have no single favorite song or favorite musician, or even favorite genre. It’s hard to call a single song my favorite, or even a small collection of songs my favorites because what I enjoy listening to depends on my mood and what context I’m in. For example, eurobeat and trance sound better for driving on a highway, but when I’m driving around the suburbs at around 11 PM coming home, my musical mood may shift more towards Asian pop or chillout. Doing repetitive tasks? Game music, particularly music from 2D shooters, often keeps me going. Studying, or doing something that requires me to think? Ambient music, or no music at all. I think of my enjoyment of music as something that’s multidimensional, not just "this is my favorite track, this is my second favorite track, etc."

Because of this way of thinking about the things I enjoy, for me to put down a favorite _____ would not only disregard the individual merits of each item, but would also take a lot of time because I’d have to spend a lot of time mentally processing which items I enjoy overall before coming to my conclusions, to the point where I’ll just say "I like thing A, thing B, and thing C, among other things I also enjoy".

Some can easily state what their favorites are down to single all-time favorite items in each category. But I don’t have a mindset like that.

This blog post…it looks like osu!.

So I’m on Facebook around 3:00 and I’m browsing posts from my music game acquaintances and friends when I see this:

this image looks like osu

Ah, osu!, the Osu! Tatakae! OuendanElite Beat Agents simulator that have a number of fellow otogamers in a bunch.

I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of osu! myself. There’s almost zero original songs, the game is ass to play without a touchscreen or a tablet, and the game takes the godawful combo-oriented scoring system of OTO/EBA and makes it even worse with modifier multipliers. (Want to top the leaderboards? Double the song speed, among other things!)

But at the same time, there’s a few problems with the outrage I see over someone playing the “looks like <game one is more familiar with>” card.

It’s kinda standard fare when osu! is such a popular game and not something I’d get worked up over tbh, even if I’m a bit contemptful of osu!. I mean hey, people who use comparisons when looking at media that reminds them of other works are pretty common; playing Touhou for the first time reminded me of DoDonPachiO2Jam looked an awful lot like beatmania IIDX to me at first glance, and it’s hard not to look at falling block games and instantly go “oh, looks like Tetris” (despite the specific mechanics and strategies of, say, Puyo Puyo or Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo being completely different from that of Tetris). We draw such comparisons because we want to put new experiences in terms and quantizations that we can understand.

Many people (at least those whose initial exposure wasn’t to rhythm game superplays, often with sensationalist titles like “Crazy Japanese Speed Game!”) are first exposed to rhythm games through StepMania or osu! because of availability and ease of access; they can be loaded with simfiles of familiar songs, they’re on PC rather just on a specific less-universal platform, and most importantly, are free(-ish). Sure, games with high content-to-price ratios like Cytus ($2 for 100+ songs with two charts each) and Tone Sphere ($2 for 40-ish songs with 2-4 charts each) exist, but not everybody has a smartphone or tablet, and even if they did, some people, especially minors, don’t have their own card for conducting online transactions with; I received my first payment card at the age of 17 in 2006 and until then had been playing Albat–I mean, PangYa and O2Jam for a few months, with no way of purchasing things that require real money until my card arrived. It’s not fair to look down on people for choosing a game because it’s a lot more affordable especially if living circumstances prevent them from buying other games. One of my friends freaked out after discovering that 4-song music packs for jubeat plus and REFLEC BEAT + were $4 each, and I don’t know how many people who don’t already like BEMANI are willing to put down, say, $100 to have 100 songs. (There are ways to get these songs For Free, but that steps into territory I kinda don’t wanna touch in public.)

So while it is kinda annoying to see the osu! comparison when I introduce people to other rhythm games, given my dislike of Everyone’s Favorite circle-clicking game, when a game like osu! is very popular and very accessible, it’s inevitable that the comparison will pop up.

Pop culture, everyone.

Update (7:25)

Okay, so a friend of mine provided some context to the above paraphrasing. Apparently, the original complaint is over osu! players who look at other music games and ask “is this osu?”  That makes more sense as to why people are irritated, as comparing osu! and IIDX (for example) is like comparing Tetris to Puzzle & Dragons. I saw this image without knowing the full context, which said image doesn’t allude to, though my points still apply when people do comment in the form of “looks like _____.”

the creator of this image is indonesian lol. i think it actually meant “is this osu?” (context being an osu player’s comment when they see another game)

indonesians are bad at translating with context o<-< people take things quite literally here

Programmed Publicity

A major point of contention amongst the non-eA-market BEMANI community is a unofficial implementations of eAMUSEMENT for machines outside of Konami’s markets.

On one hand, it’s pretty much a blatant breach of copyright; Konami did not intend for their services to be duplicated and their games pirated. But on the other hand, machines on these unofficial networks are often in public. It’s not like you need to take a 5km elevator ride down and go through ten blast doors each with authorization measures to play on such machines; anyone can walk into, say, Sunnyvale Golfland or such and play on these cabinets that are not running official eA, and if they have an eA pass they can see the address for the network’s web interface (which replaces the official eA URL). On top of that, Chrono Seeker is translated into English, and anyone with a pass will see all that delicious translated text. That’s an unofficial fan effort, not an official localization.

Tau himself has stated that Konami doesn’t really care what goes on with BEMANI cabs outside of their markets, because it doesn’t affect them. It’s when, for example, Spada Omnimix screenshots or obvious home setups of arcade IIDX games make their way around Japanese and Korean communities that it becomes a major issue.

Finally, as my friend says: Piracy is a service issue. Why are such networks implemented in the first place? Because we want a way to experience these various online-only goodies without having to travel to Japan or other countries with eAMUSEMENT. If BEMANI games were released for the international market and eAMUSEMENT was an international service–two things that I highly doubt will ever happen–this entire discussion would not exist in the first place.

If you want a picture of the future, imagine Nintendo region-locking their gaming platforms–forever.

So the new 3DS and new 3DSXL are region-locked, just like the basic 3DS, 3DSXL, and 2DS. In other news, the grass is green, the sky is blue, and Aerith dies.

Maybe there will be a day when Nintendo embraces region-free once again; after all, in 2001, an issue of Nintendo Power features a reader letter response touting the region-free properties of the Game Boy Advance. But maybe that day will never come and there will be more chance of Konami releasing their entire active BEMANI lineup in the US. I’m enjoying my 3DS but I don’t enjoy not being able to play games that will never get released here.

Ironically, the Vita is region-free as far as physical copies go, yet has shown to be a commercial failure.

Crimson Clover: /World/ Ignition

As spadgy of Shmups Forum puts it: A physical release of CCWI would be nice, but I’m just glad the game is getting released at all, even if it means a digital Steam release. Saying things like “the game should get a physical release instead of a Steam release” is pretty inconsiderate of its target audience; the purpose of the port is to get the game out to Western players, who are not able to play its arcade counterpart.

You have to put it this way: Physical releases outside of Asia are dead. Not everyone, or even a decent plurality of Western players, are willing to order and wait for a physical copy to arrive in their mailbox. We live in societies where convenience is considered a very high priority, and the process of getting a physical copy has an obvious lack of convenience compared to digital content delivery.

This is to say nothing of how some countries deal with imports; I have friends who have to wrestle with customs, including paying obnoxious fees, just to get their goods to their front doorstep.

Plus, I’m sure Yotsubane is not that big of a reverse-xenophobic asshole that he won’t put out a physical release in Japan, or at least on a client-free, nihonjin-friendly service like DLsite or Playism. Even so, we’ll just have to wait and see what he says about a Japan-domestic release.

Tetris TGM: The ‘G’ stands for “gaijin”

Ichiro Mihara, vice president of game developer Arika and designer of Tetris: The Grand Master, the Tetris sub-series infamous for things such as the “Tetris Japan Finals” video and the “Invisible Tetris” video, had this to say on his Twitter account yesterday, presumably as a take-that to the Western TGM community:

It’s been about four years since all the drama that went down involving the cancellation of Tetris: The Grand Master 4 in favor of Giant Tetris and Mihara going on his previous tirade against the Western TGM community for their usage and promotion of clones and indirect promotion of piracy. So why did he suddenly come out with this post, in (attempted) English, no less?

I’m not going to deny that the use of emulators and clones can have an impact on revenue for the games they emulate or simulate. That is the case…in Japan, the only territory where TGM was officially released and where TGM actually exists in a form easily accessible to the public. TGM is only available as an arcade series; the one console game carrying the TGM brand is a spinoff with hardly any of TGM’s signature mechanics available.

Meanwhile, in the United States, and quite possibly the rest of the non-Japanese world, not a single TGM machine is available for play in an arcade. There were a number of arcades carrying TGM, such as Arcade Infinity, SouthTown Arcade, Gamecenter, and Arcade UFO, but all of these arcade have either gone out of business or don’t have the game in working form anymore.

At best, there are TGM enthusiasts who dump hundreds into TGM arcade hardware, all just so they and local friends (and sometimes, friends making long and expensive trips) can play TGM the legitimate way, a way that they hope Mihara will be content with. Several of these owners have attempted to get their hardware into arcades just so the general public can get to play these games, with mixed results. Those who don’t have the knowhow and money needed to find and purchase TGM hardware have to–you guessed it–use emulators and clones, because no convenient legal option exists for them.

If Arika ever puts out a proper port of TGM (somewhat unlikely due to The Tetris Company’s iron grip over games carrying the Tetris name), I will gladly purchase it in order to show my support, even if I don’t have the necessary system to play it.

Stay classy, Mihara.