With Netflix-Style Business Models, Comes Netflix-Style Release Lineups

In the pursuit of vacuuming up games for video game subscription services, the lineups are okay, but nothing to write home about.

On this week’s 99 Potions, filling in for John and Natalie are fellow Fanbyte RPG friends Mike Williams and merritt k to talk about all of the biggest headlines in July. So get ready for Pokemon drama, Mike’s impressive toy collection, Star Wars video games, the Netflix-ification of games via Game Pass-style subscription models and tons more. Listen here or on your preferred podcast player. Check out our transcript down below too!

Episode Transcipt:

Nerium: Hello everybody, and welcome back to another episode of Fanbyte’s premier RPG podcast, [long pause] 99 Potions. It is August 3rd, 2022 as we’re recording this, and Natalie isn’t here for that like big long pause joke to work, ’cause she’s the one who always freaks out when I do that. But I am joined still by Imran Khan, [Imran: “Hello”] News Editor at fanbyte.com.

Imran: I don’t freak out, but I’m like, did something break?

Mike: Did something break.

Imran: Cause I trust you enough to be like, if Nerium’s doing this on purpose, there’s a reason.

Nerium: Right, exactly. I am also joined by one…it says here, Mike Williams?

Mike: Hello, hello, folks. How’s everybody doing today?

Nerium: I’m handling things okay. I just had a siren go off outside of my house for a little while, ’cause it is the first Wednesday of the month, which is when they test the like tornado sirens all day.

Imran: Oh, the News Quest sirens.

Nerium: Mm-hmm.

Mike: I was about to say, is that like an air raid siren, a cop siren? What are we talking here?

Nerium: Yeah.

Mike: But you have a tornado warning? See, you shouldn’t live there if there needs to be a tornado warning sound.

Nerium: Yeah, definitely nothing bad happens anywhere else in the country. And somebody who knows all about that is merritt k.

merritt: What do you mean, New York?

Nerium: I don’t know your title anymore. New York?

merritt: My title. Yeah, I’m resident New Yorker.

Nerium: Mm.

Imran: merritt’s title is just New York.

merritt: Yeah, just New York. Hey, Mike, have you ever considered a career in like easy listening radio? Because I feel like you’d be…you have a really good like radio, like, [background music] “And next up, we’ve got…” I can’t think of the name of a single recording artist right now, but you know, there’s a lot of them.

Nerium: Arcade Fire. [laughter]

Mike: Maybe, either that or perhaps I’ll do like sleep YouTuber, like–

merritt: Oh, yeah, that’s good too.

Mike: So like you just put it on and just like read a book for a while.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah. They should have you host the Wholesome Directs, I feel like.

merritt: Oh, yeah.

Nerium: Ooh. They don’t usually have like a narrator on those, do they? It’s just game.

Imran: No, because there’s like 5,000 games, and it’s…

Mike: I was about to say it, it would lead to people like just falling asleep.

Nerium: Yeah, yeah.

Mike: Like, you’d just be like halfway through, like, oh, wow.

merritt: It’s funny you mention like the voice on Nintendo Directs because there was a period in my life where I did fall asleep to Nintendo Direct videos, because…I think they still have this guy. I haven’t listened or watched one in a while, but used to have like the guy who would do the English translation for the devs, for like Nintendo devs and staff, [“Mm-hmm”] would always just be like, [calm, measured voice] “In this game, we thought Mario Kart 8 would be a perfect title, [Nerium: “Mm-hmm”] because we have a course that looks like a figure eight.” [laughter] And it was just always like so calming, and like his delivery was so just like chill, and so I would just put those on to fall asleep.

Nerium: You could do that with the one where– it was the last Nintendo Direct that they did before Super Smash Brothers Ultimate came out, and it was just that guy reading patch notes for like an hour and a half. [laughs] And it was very funny, because like, people were like, okay, it’s a Nintendo Direct, what are they going to do? And they went through every single character and all the changes that were made, and like, and that’s it! Bye, everybody! [laughs]

merritt: Wow.

Nerium: It was dumb. So good.

Imran: They have that guy now who like his whole thing is just like saying a thing very incredulously before he introduces the game.

Nerium: Mm-hmm.

Imran: It’s like, “It’s all Kirby’s friends…and enemies?”

Nerium: Wha–?

Imran: And then they introduce a new Kirby game, and it’s like…

merritt: Doo doo! Yeah.

Imran: Yeah. It’s like, okay, I get the gimmick. You don’t need to do this every single time.

Nerium: No. I do like it when they introduce like a character that like, clearly nobody in like the Nintendo audience is going to know, and that they’re like, “It’s this character that you all know and love!” And it’s like, the classic example is Terry Bogard getting announced for Super Smash Brothers and a bunch of like Nintendo fans being like, “Who the fuck is that? That’s not fucking Minecraft Steve! I don’t know who– nobody knows who Terry Bogard is!” Like, just…ugh.

merritt: That’s not my blorbo.

Nerium: That’s not your blorbo! Exactly. And just, you know, no respect for the broader history of video games, but we have…

Mike: I mean, they could fix that if they put Terry Bogard in Fortnite.

Nerium: They should put Bogard in Fortnite.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: They should put Terry Bogard in Fortnite.

merritt: We’re like six months away from that happening.

Nerium: Totally. Terry Bogard is in Fall Guys. I don’t know if you…

Imran: Yes.

Nerium: That literally just got announced like today.

Mike: Yeah.

Imran: Him and Mai Shiranui are in that game. But like, I miss the Shovel Knightization of characters.

Nerium: Oh, yeah.

Imran: That like, you would just put– you would put one character into just every game, and then people would just eventually get sick of them.

Nerium: Yeah. Sans Undertale.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: Obviously, Shovel Knight is a really good example.

Imran: Obviously Shovel Knight. But like, why can’t we just put Terry Bogard into like Mario Kart? Okay, this is an unrelated thing, but I’m on Adderall, and my mind’s racing around.

merritt: Ayy! [Nerium laughs]

Imran: I was driving the other day, and I saw…you know those like, those signs people hang on like– or not signs, they’re flags, those triangular flags that say like, “God Bless America” or “Bless this house” or whatever? This one said “God Bless America” as the caption, but the art behind it was key art from Super Mario Party? [Nerium laughs] And like, I recognized it immediately, like, I know that. That’s the box art from Mario Party, and the words said, in the Mario font, “God Bless America.” And I’m like, does this person know? [laughter] Like, did they buy this intentionally being like, “This is so fucking stupid. I love it.” Or are they like, “Hell yeah, Mario would say, ‘God bless America.’”

Mike: I feel like Mario Party and Super Mario Party do represent America as it is.

Nerium: Mm-hmm.

Mike: In that…

Imran: No, because there’s an equal chance of winning in that thing. [laughs]

Mike: Right.

merritt: Mm-hmm.

Mike: And you can find yourself maybe doing everything right and getting to the end, [Nerium: “Mm-hmm”] and then somebody does a star switch, and now you’re at the bottom.

Nerium: Yeah.

Mike: So.

Imran: Like, an America mode for Mario Party would be somebody starts out with seven stars and then just still wins. Like, they’re more likely going to win.

merritt: Hey, don’t get political.

Imran: Don’t get political here.

Nerium: [laughs] Universal basic stars.

merritt: Don’t get political on this podcast.

Imran: Yeah, our speedrun will be dismissed because we mentioned the Supreme Court.

Nerium: Oh my God. All right, we need to move on to literally anything else, [laughter] which is news, because this is the News Quest, because we skipped it last week. We, as everybody who listens to 99 Potions, everybody knows that we always hit the News Quest on the last Wednesday of every month. We’ve never missed a beat, but this is the first time we’ve had to swap things up, so we did, and we’re doing it on the first Wednesday of this new month instead, ’cause we recorded Stray last week? Was that that? Was that Stray?

Imran: No, last week was Fire Emblem.

merritt: You did the Fire Emblem.

Nerium: That was Fire Emblem.

merritt: ‘Cause I listened to that one.

Nerium: Oh, hell yeah.

merritt: It was very good.

Nerium: I’m glad. Oh my God, last– right.

merritt: [bluffing] I mean, I listen to every episode, obviously, but…

Nerium: Yeah, of course, of course, of course. I mean, no wonder I can’t remember last week, because last week’s episode was a fever dream! That episode was very good though.

Imran: Look, it’s a legitimate question whether somebody who’s never tasted wine could tell if something was wine or Gatorade.

Nerium: It’s a legitimate question, and the characters of Fire Emblem

merritt: Yeah, that’s like one of the great philosophical questions, like when I say something is blue, do we see the same color?

Nerium: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Shadows on a wall. That sort of thing.

merritt: Mm-hmm.

Nerium: Uh, Imran, do you want to hit us with just a little tasty bite of the news?

Imran: Yeah. So, today, there was like a Pokémon presentations whatever, the thing they do every so often where they’re like, we haven’t marketed the game that’s gonna sell 15 million copies in two months in a while. Let’s just do a stream for it.

merritt: Why not?

Imran: I did not– Yeah. I didn’t watch the stream, because they show it at absurd times of the day for Pacific time zone. It is 6:00 A.M. I am not waking at 6:00 A.M [Nerium: “Yeah”] to see Lechonk.

Mike: I feel like Reb was up, though.

Imran: Yeah, no, she wakes up at 5:30 anyway. [Mike laughs]

Nerium: Wait, why?

Mike: What?

merritt: Wow. That’s so inspiring.

Imran: She just does. [Nerium laughs]

merritt: I wish I could do that.

Imran: Like it is– so, she wakes up at 5:30. She will like hang out with a cats for a bit, like watch some stuff, then go exercise, all before I wake up.

Mike: Wow.

Nerium: What time does she go to bed?

Imran: 10.

Nerium: Wow.

Imran: Like at around 10. So, I will also go to bed at 10, [Nerium laughs, “You just sleep more”] and then I will also still sleep till about seven.

Nerium: [laughs] Good. I mean, you should.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: People need more sleep. We here don’t get that.

Imran: But yeah, she was awake, and she was watching this Pokémon Presents thing

Nerium: Wild.

Imran: We have a full recap on fanbyte.com from Kenneth Shepherd.

Nerium: Mm-hmm.

Imran: Because Kenneth was awake, and Kenneth was watching this. But yeah, they confirmed some things that we will not go over necessarily in this thing. We’re not gonna go over this whole Pokémon Presents, but they talk about it–

merritt: You can put stupid hats on your Pokémon now.

Imran: You can put hats on your Pokémon, yes. You can also make them glitter with crystals.

merritt: But he’s got a new hat!

Imran: He’s got an– that Malibu Stacy is entirely worth paying $60 for one again.

Nerium: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Imran: But they announced the tera crystals thing that changes the type of the Pokémon to…

merritt: Mm-hmm.

Imran: Basically, there’s a thing called same attack type– same attack– or, [merritt: “STAB”] same type attack bonus. STAB, yes. That you can now manipulate the system for this game. That was kind of, that was leaked a couple of weeks to a month ago, where somebody just started taking weird blurry pictures to filter out information of like the gym leaders, the evolutions, and all that jazz. And they mentioned this Tera crystals thing. They also mentioned at the time that in terms of structure, you can, in this game, go anywhere you want, do anything in any order you want, but none of it will scale. And everyone thought, “Hey, that’s not likely, because that’s stupid.”

merritt: It’s a bad idea.

Imran: Why would you do that? But like, there would be no way we ever could see confirmation of that until the game comes out.

Nerium: Right.

Imran: But the leaker, again, specifically mentioned tera crystals, so more than likely, that leaker is correct.

Mike: Oh, that’s the best leak stuff.

merritt: Actually, you know what? I think that’s a good idea, because then it’s– what we’ve got essentially is Elden Ring.

Mike: I was gonna say that, yeah.

Nerium: Mm.

merritt: We have a Pokémon Elden Ring now, because you can just go straight to…just like skip ahead to like a hard gym and beat it and then just go back and like stomp those normal type loser gyms in the first like hour of the game. [laughs]

Imran: See, that’s what I’m afraid of. That’s what I feel like the structure won’t work, is that I will like go to a gym that I’m like, oh, I could beat that. I’m good enough at Pokémon that I think I could beat this gym, ’cause I have a type advantage and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I’ve got like X attacks

merritt: Yeah. And also the AI in these games, if you actually know how to play them, is terrible.

Imran: Yes.

Mike: But unlike Elden Ring, it’s still an RPG, so you still gotta worry about stats.

merritt: Yeah.

Mike: Like, you can’t– like in an Elden Ring or FromSoft, you can skill your way out of a stat advantage.

merritt: That’s true.

Imran: But also I’ve seen speed runs of people who take a starter Pokémon [Mike: “Yeah”] and like beef them up with rare candies and whatever, whatever X attacks that like makes a thing work, [merritt: “Mm-hmm, mm-hmm”] and then beat a strong– like I’ve seen the beat Elite Four with like one or two Pokémon.

merritt: Oh yeah, no, people do some wild stuff with these games.

Imran: Yeah. So like, this feels like a really cool thing for them, but for everyone else, it’s like, okay, well, why wouldn’t I just go in the order that’s appropriate for my level? Otherwise I’m going to be going back to a level one gym with seven badges and being like, okay, let me stomp your eight Pidgies.

Nerium: Yeah, don’t these games like get kind of maligned for being kind of too easy in the single player stuff anyway? Like you just kind of over level halfway through and everything dies in one hit?

Imran: So, I think–

merritt: Even if you don’t, it’s like, the thing is, so much of the Pokémon like game is just…what’s that term for like knowing what your opponent’s gonna do?

Imran: Uh, yomi.

merritt: It’s, yeah, that’s basically Pokémon.

Nerium: Mm.

merritt: And without that, or like playing against an AI where like you don’t really know how it’s doing that, it’s like…and it can’t like really predict you without actually just cheating, [laughs softly] is really easy for the most part.

Imran: Yeah. But like, I think that Pokémon, like in the year 2022, is still afraid of things that happened in the year 2000, of…did you guys play Pokémon Gold/Silver?

Nerium: Yeah. When they came out.

Mike: Yep.

merritt: I didn’t, actually.

Nerium: Really? merritt?

Imran: Mike, did you?

merritt: Yeah, no, I fell off. I played Blue, and then I didn’t play a Pokémon game until like Leaf Green.

Nerium: Oh.

merritt: Yeah. Which was just the remake of Blue, so.

Mike: Yeah–

Imran: So like, this– go ahead.

Mike: I own a number of them just because my partner plays Pokémon.

Nerium: Mm.

Mike: And I am the opposite copy bitch, [Nerium laughs] so whatever version she buys, I have to buy the opposite copy.

Nerium: Ohh.

Mike: And then I play some of them. I don’t play many of them to completion, but yeah. I own most of them.

Imran: So like, my main point with that was when that game came out, the second or third gym was like a normal type gym.

merritt: Norm!

Imran: It had a Miltank.

merritt: Mm-hmm. [Nerium laughs]

Imran: Yeah. It had Whitney and the Miltank, who is one of the toughest gym leaders in the entire series.

merritt: Oh, yeah.

Imran: And I think so many little kids bashed their heads against that gym leader that they were like, we should not make this difficult anymore. We should make this so anybody can get through it, no matter what.

merritt: Mm-hmm.

Imran: And I think like they were looking at this structure and being like, well, okay, we can let them do whatever. How do we make it so it’s still like reason– how do we make it so they still go on a path that makes it appropriately level or difficulty wise for them? And once you get to that like level of compromise, you’re kind of– there’s kind of really no point to that structure anymore.

Nerium: Mm.

merritt: Mm, mm-hmm.

Mike: Yeah. So yeah, Pokémon, like many things in fandom and gaming and everywhere: Pokémon is for kids, and some people forget that.

Imran: Right.

merritt: Well, is it? Yes.

Mike: Yes.

Imran: It is in intention, not so much an audience, I think?

merritt: But they ended up building like a really robust like battle system that then became… yeah, like it’s again, Pokémon just has these weird two audiences of like the hardcore competitive people and then children who are like, probably like 80% of the audience.

Mike: Yeah.

merritt: So it’s always in that weird position, but those people– again, this is why I always say, like…I’m always saying this. Anyone who asks me is just like, “Oh, merritt’s always saying this.”

Nerium: Yeah, of course. I did it right before this.

merritt: Just stop making these. Just make things like Arceus on the one hand.

Nerium: Yeah.

merritt: And then just make a subscription online battle service on the other hand, and allow people to transfer their Pokémon into that if they want to, but also let them just use like rentals or whatever. And then you’ve just made both groups happy, and you don’t have this weird thing of trying to balance the difficulty for people who want to like mess around and stuff, but also like, yeah, like six year old kids.

Mike: Yeah.

Imran: Is there…?

merritt: I don’t know that any other franchise is really like in this position at this point.

Nerium: Mm. Yeah, I don’t think so, in terms of like games that have like such wildly varied audiences. And I mean, the way that you get there is that Pokémon has just been around and popular [merritt: “Right, yeah”] since it came out, and so all the people who played it originally aged up into being those hardcore competitive people, to a certain degree.

Mike: Right.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: And none of them…they didn’t want to give up their like leveling up their characters and all that stuff, so they were like, “Well, I don’t– I’m not gonna go play Magic: The Gathering or whatever like a nerd, I’m gonna play Pokémon!”

merritt: Like a cool person.

Nerium: Like a cool person. There is kind of a…I mean, Temtem is out there. I know people like Temtem. I think it’s coming–

Mike: Temtem, Coromon.

Imran: Do they?

Mike: Yeah.

Nerium: Yeah.

Mike: There’s a whole bunch of them.

Imran: Like, Temtem came out, and everyone was like, this is the game. This is the one that’s gonna put Pokémon down.

merritt: This is it, folks.

Imran: And then…

Nerium: I don’t think it has come out. I think it’s like still an early access, technically, isn’t it?

Imran: It’s out! I mean, I guess it’s in early access, but you can buy it.

Nerium: Right, yeah.

merritt: Sure, yeah. But there have been– I feel like I get an email every week from someone who’s like, “This game is gonna be the– is gonna challenge Pokémon.” And it’s like, it’s not. Why are you even trying to pretend that? [laughs] Like, it’s clearly not going to. If none of these things have yet, it’s just not gonna happen, so.

Imran: Temtem 1.0 launched in June.

Mike: Oh, okay.

Nerium: In June? Okay.

merritt: Oh, wow.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: Wait, really?

Imran: It says a lot about how popular Temtem is.

merritt: Right.

Nerium: I’m looking at the Steam page right now, and its says early access game still.

Mike: Oh.

Imran: Their Twitter name is “1.0, launching on 6/9.”

Nerium: Huh. Unless that…

merritt: Maybe that means, like…

Imran: In Europe?

Mike: 9/6.

merritt: Yeah.

Mike: Maybe.

merritt: Maybe it’s September 6.

Nerium: Oh, yeah.

Imran: Okay.

Nerium: Yeah, ‘cause I think it is later this year.

merritt: ‘Cause the rest of the world uses the normal way of day/month/year.

Imran: Yeah. Well, that’s not fair for them to confuse me like that. [merritt and Nerium laugh]

merritt: It’s really inconsiderate of Americans, you know?

Mike: Like, even if your game is better, like if you made a better game than whatever the current Pokémon is, it’s not gonna matter, because Pokémon is just so popular. Like, companies rely on brands for a reason.

Nerium: Right.

merritt: Like, Digimon Cyber Sleuth is a fantastic RPG, if you have not played it, but Digimon is never going to like eclipse Pokémon. It’s always going to be like the La Croix of Pokémon. [Nerium laughs] I’m sorry, Digimon fans.

Imran: I mean…

Nerium: I don’t know.

Imran: I think even Bandai Namco knows that, [merritt: “Yeah”] ’cause there was just zero hype over that last game.

Mike: Digimon Survive? Yeah.

merritt: Yeah, which–

Nerium: Which had–

merritt: No review copies. Please don’t post spoilers. Please don’t tweet about the thing that happens. We’re so worried that people are gonna hate it.

Nerium: Well, it’s a VN is the other thing too.

Imran: Yeah.

merritt: Mm-hmm.

Nerium: It’s just like, I think they were afraid of– I actually remember this happening around 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim too, ’cause that’s basically a VN with some like light moving around and then some– there’s a whole almost siloed off second part of that game where it’s like RTS combat, and the RTS combat is actually pretty cool. But I remember when that game was coming out, I like didn’t know what it was, and I like asked PR, “So like, what kind of game is this? You’ve not said like a genre to me at any point. And I see these like weird wire frame Star Wars the arcade game looking battles and these anime characters walking around, and I don’t know what this game is.” And then they just did not reply to me. I just never got a response to that.

merritt: Mm-hmm.

Nerium: And it turns out, oh, it’s VN. ‘Cause like, I do think there is a fear on the part of like certain publishers, smaller publishers or more mid-tier publishers of like, we are going to localize this visual novel. We’re going to sell it for $60, because we need to sell it for $60, ’cause it’s only going to sell X number of copies to people who are way into this sort of thing, but we want to get as many people as possible through the door, so we’re not gonna use the words visual novel, because we’re afraid of that, instead of leaning into it.

Imran: But also it’s a very low budget– like I’ve seen pictures on Twitter of like translator notes making it into the game.

Nerium: Oh, wow. I hadn’t heard that.

Imran: There’s like a specific screenshot of like the character saying, “This character’s name and picture do not show up on this text box.” [Nerium and merritt laugh]

merritt: Translator’s note: kawaii means cute. [laughter]

Nerium: Keikaku means plan.

Imran: Make sure they know Keikaku means plan, [merritt: “Uh huh, yep”] or this whole scene makes no sense.

Nerium: Oh, God.

Imran: But yeah, Pokémon is a behemoth that is never going to get usurped, but also like, it kind of sucks, ’cause I wish somebody would give them a little bit of a run for their money.

merritt: Mm-hmm.

Imran: Like, I’m never gonna be like, oh yeah, Temtem’s gonna be– I’m gonna switch to Temtem. I fully recognize it’s the thing that I will probably play regardless. But man, man, I didn’t like Sword and Shield.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: I didn’t like X/Y.

Nerium: Most people didn’t. I remember people really not liking that.

merritt: Yeah, I’m out.

Imran: Sword and Shield sold 25 million copies.

merritt: Yeah.

Nerium: A lot of people watch and play things that they don’t like.

Mike: Yeah.

Nerium: Just ask me.

Mike: Sword and Shield Pokémon is like, it’s like the Netflix stuff. Like The Gray Man is like the biggest [merritt: “Right”] movie in Netflix. I have not heard a single person talk about it, but I’m sure people watched it, and it’s just like out of their heads.

Nerium: Yeah.

Mike: And I feel like Pokémon games, like the mainline games are like that. Like, a lot of people play them. I don’t know if a lot of people finish them, outside of the hardcore fans?

Imran: So there’s, I think an interesting dynamic going on with Pokémon specifically, where you basically have to be one of two extremes to actually talk about Pokémon.

Nerium: Mm.

Imran: You either have to be someone that’s like, “Look at this fucking tree. I can’t believe how lazy these game developers are. We should send them death threats.” [quiet laughter] Or you are the person who is like, “Nothing is ever wrong with this game. Like, maybe some nerds think, [merritt: “Mm-hmm”] quote, unquote, ‘game design’ matters, [Nerium laughs] but I think that Pikachu is really cute, so this game is perfect.”

Nerium: Mm-hmm.

merritt: Yeah.

Imran: And like, what if there’s like a middle ground of: this game is bad. I don’t really give a shit that the tree looks bad. The problem is everything around the tree. The environment itself looks real fucking terrible.

merritt: I hated that fucking tree.

Imran: Everyone hates the tree.

merritt: God. Yeah, I–

Imran: That tree could have been a Sudowoodo.

merritt: I barely finished Sword and Shield. That was the last one for me. I’m out, at this point.

Nerium: Mm-hmm.

merritt: I did play X and Y, and I kind of liked it. I played Sun and Moon. I didn’t care for it very much. And then Sword and Shield, I was like, all right, I’m done.

Mike: Did you do Arceus?

merritt: No, and I know that’s like, you know, that would be the one that would maybe restore my faith in the series, but then it’s not like that would be an indicator of like where it’s going as a whole. So I feel like even if I did like it, I’d just be like, oh, okay, well, that was fun, and I probably won’t see another one of these in my lifetime, so… [laughs] Oh well.

Nerium: Now, I wonder, like I genuinely wonder if that is not doing the thing that you want, but like doing a branch of it, which is the idea of like, it’s Pokémon Legends: Arceus. I wonder if going forward, they are going to have that split of like, [merritt: “Yeah”] hey, Legends will be where we try different things or we’re more open world and less linear.

Nerium: Right, yeah.

Nerium: And then the other one is the other one.

merritt: Maybe.

Imran: It feels like they need an extra year to really like [merritt: “Yeah”] get this thing going, the idea they have.

Nerium: Oh yeah, that’s the actual thing. Yeah.

merritt: But money, though.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah, but money.

merritt: But money.

Imran: It’s too big a ship, because like, yeah, what if Game Freak does, in their heart of hearts, want to do like a really good Pokémon game that will take an extra year or two to develop? Like, there’s toys that can be made. There’s the anime.

merritt: You need to make a new guy so we can sell a thing of him, sell plush of the new guy.

Mike: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah. Did you see that–

merritt: They’re not selling enough plushes of fuckomon anymore. You need to make a new one. [Nerium laughs]

Imran: Mike, did you see like that Spider-Verse thing this week, where that movie was originally supposed to come out this year.

Mike: Yep.

Imran: So like, they had the action figures with the characters that they’ve not even announced or shown yet, like ready.

merritt: Oh, yeah.

Nerium: Mm.

Imran: So like, the toy companies just released the toys anyway, [merritt: “Yeah”] even though there’s no movie to go alongside it yet.

Mike: Yeah, because of logistics and stuff and backlogs.

merritt: Yeah.

Mike: They just had to ship all that stuff anyway.

merritt: I guess I kind of forget that like toys…

Nerium: Toys exist?

merritt: I kind of forget that action figures and stuff are still things, ‘cause I’m kind of just like, [“Yeah”] oh, surely all like kids just have Minecraft on their iPads now.

Nerium: Yeah.

merritt: Like, no one plays with physical objects. Like, they buy Pokémon merchandise because they’re cute and stuff, but like, no, I guess they still sell…you know, Walmart and stuff, they still have toy aisles.

Nerium: Well, it’s also like, speaking as somebody who worked in a store where we sold toys, it is Pokémon.

merritt: Yeah.

Nerium: It is…action figures sell 80% to children and then a 20% to like ultra ultra hardcore adults [Mike: “Hey!”, merritt: “Yeah”] who are going to spend $300, Mike Williams.

Mike: God damnit. [laughter]

merritt: Mike, post your desk.

Mike: Oh, uh, the desk is actually clean. It’s mostly on the bookshelf, but yeah, [merritt: “Ah”] I have a lot of Marvel Legends and DC McFarlane.

Nerium: We sold so many Marvel Legends.

merritt: But those are like the higher end ones, right?

Mike: Yeah, yeah.

merritt: Those are like the like fancy collector toys for sophisticated adults.

Mike: Yeah. You’re not seeing that unless you’re like a collector, because like half of this stuff like [merritt: “Yeah”] is pre-orders or like [Nerium: “Right”] if it is in the store, more hardcore people are already there and they’ve taken the– like, you know, they’re like case hunters and stuff.

merritt: Right. Yeah.

Mike: But yeah, like, Imran talks about the, you mentioned ship, and like, I’ve always talked about that in regards to like Assassin’s Creed.

Imran: Yeah.

Mike: In that, one, like if you’re at the head of like a brand that’s that big, the lane in which you can move is very thin, because you can’t go too far without pissing off the entire fanbase, but then also you’re working like many years ahead. Like, Assassin’s Creed, like by the time they’re like, “Oh, this thing is not working,” they’re already probably like another two games deep before they really know that, like before they can react to the audience.

Imran: Yeah. There was a–

Mike: Which is another four years or something like that.

Imran: I forget where I read it, but it was like, there was that– in Assassin’s Creed 4, they had a thing where after every mission you could like put a rating on that mission.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: So like, everyone rated like the 15 tailing missions of that game like one star, [Nerium: “Mm-hmm”] and I think they didn’t actually have like that data for the design of the next game, [Nerium: “Right”] until like Valhalla in like 2018, 2019.

merritt: [laughs] Wow.

Nerium: Oh my God. That’s so long.

Mike: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: ‘Cause yeah, that was in like at least 4, if not 3, like might have had the rating system.

Mike: Yeah, so like–

Nerium: ‘Cause 3 I remember being rotten with the tailing and the hiding stuff.

Imran: 3 might be the one I’m thinking of that has the problem with it, like that had the rating system. But like, they did not– from the beginning, they did not have that data to pore over [Nerium: “Right”] for the early designs, for like multiple games, because it was just, where are you gonna really put it? ‘Cause every other game was already in development.

Nerium: Right.

Imran: Like, we’re probably at a point where Final Fantasy XVII and maybe XVIII are already starting.

Nerium: Right, somebody somewhere has a design document that says like, “Ah, what if this one had blue hair?”

Imran: Yeah. Like Kitase or Toriyama are probably like already working on that game.

Nerium: Yeah, for sure. I believe that.

Mike: So like, Pokémon is like, I don’t think they’re maybe as deep. I do think there’s a little bit of…not laziness, but they don’t feel they can stretch too far.

Imran: Right.

Nerium: Yeah.

Mike: But also, I do think that they’re probably like another two games beyond this. Like maybe another Legends, maybe the next mainline game after, and whatever weird, you know, Pikachu’s mysterious dungeon or whatever game.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: We’re still getting games that I think are like superficially influenced by Breath of the Wild.

Nerium: Exactly, yeah.

Imran: Without actually like really understanding– like, I’ve had this talk about Sonic Frontiers for a bit, but like Scarlet and Violet also seem to be that case of, hey, we kind of got what Breath of the Wild was going for, but really didn’t understand it.

Nerium: Or we don’t have time or budget to implement it, because they want three of these a year.

Imran: Yeah. So like, we’re gonna get like the Elden Ring influenced games in like four years, or like the Breath of the Wild 2 influenced games in like four or five years.

Nerium: God, yeah. I wonder what that’ll even look like.

Imran: Yeah, who knows? But it, I don’t know. Pokémon gen four, that was Diamond/Pearl. That one broke me.

Nerium: Mm.

Imran: That was the game that I was like, oh, I guess I’m out. And then five I just absolutely loved, and I loved five so much that like I was willing to forgive X and Y for being so bad.

merritt: Wow.

Imran: I was like, Sun and Moon was all right, and I’m like, good, I’ll keep playing a little bit. Then Sword and Shield was really bad, and I didn’t like Arceus, so now I’m just, I’m kind of like…I’m hyperfixating on Scarlet and Violet, ’cause I want that game to be the thing that makes me go, [merritt and Nerium: “Mm”] “Oh yeah, I actually do still love Pokémon.”

Nerium: Yeah.

merritt: I feel like you’re…

Imran: Which is maybe unfair.

merritt: I feel like when five came out, I feel like they were intensely unpopular.

Imran: Yes. Those are the least popular Pokémon mainline games.

merritt: Because I was…that was maybe the last Pokémon that I really highly anticipated.

Nerium: Hmm.

merritt: Because I loved gen four, like, because it was the first one I’d played in a long time, and there was so much there. And then five came out, and it was like, Hey, you know, all your friends that you love, your favorite guys? You can’t use any of those until you get the… [Nerium laughs] until you get the national dex, which was a good idea in retrospect, ’cause it forced you to use new guys, but I just hated most of the new ones.

Nerium: Mm.

Imran: That’s exactly why I loved it, though, because–

merritt: Hey, here’s Garbodor…who I actually love.

Nerium: Yes, Garbodor!

merritt: I love Garbodor. He’s so great.

Imran: I love Garo for the specific reason that that region is based on America.

merritt: Yeah.

Imran: They’re like, what’s America like? I don’t know, fuckin’ garbage?

merritt: Garbage, ice cream, you know. Uh, fetuses? Fuck, who knows?

Imran: But like, there’s a cave very early on in Diamond and Pearl, where like you have to go through that cave multiple, multiple times to go through to the next city and back and forth.

merritt: Yeah.

Imran: And that cave, the only two Pokémon in it are Geodude and Zubat.

merritt: Hell yes.

Imran: And I was like, what the fuck?

merritt: Yes! Yes! [Nerium laughs]

Imran: Why am I four generations in and I’m still like catching Geodude and Zubat? And that’s when it, like…

merritt: Yes, let the hate flow through you.

Imran: That’s when that like mirror cracking sound happened in my head.

Mike: Right, but they can’t get rid of them, because fans would be like, where–

merritt: Because Zubat is too popular. Everyone loves Zubat too much. [Nerium laughs]

Imran: ‘Cause they did that in gen five, and then people hated it, so now they’re like, all right, fuck it. I guess it’s just Geodude and Zubat all the time.

merritt: There’s always a cave. There’s always a Zubat. There’s always a Geodude. There’s always a Moon Stone.

Nerium: Well, we can move on in a second, though.

merritt: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: The one thing I will say, I just wanted to mention, like we talked about, you know, Pokémon will never be dethroned. I don’t know, like, lemonade was a popular drink, and it still is, and so I think it like could continue to be really popular forever. But I also think that there is stuff out there, like merritt, I think you mentioned Minecraft and, but there’s like, you know, Roblox and stuff like that. Like, there are things out there that kids are probably playing now that are in 20 years going to be like the new Pokémon that we just don’t even know because we’re all old and washed and suck, so.

Imran: Mm.

merritt: I don’t know. I go back and forth on that. It’s possible, but also just like the ramp up of like corporate consolidation and stuff over the last like few decades, it’s like…

Nerium: Mm.

merritt: Yeah, it’s possible. Anything’s possible, but also just like, I think it’s easier than ever for like, you know, a company with a legacy to continue that like hold on things. So, we’ll see.

Imran: Yeah.

Mike: Yeah.

Nerium: What is the next story you want to hit, Imran?

Imran: Let’s talk about the KOTOR remake.

merritt: Oh boy.

Imran: So, that was announced late last year, I believe?

merritt: Yeah.

Imran: Where during a State of Play, Sony– not Sony aired, but like during a PlayStation State of Play, there was a trailer for a PlayStation 5 exclusive remake of Knights of the Old Republic, the much loved BioWare Star Wars game, coming to us from Aspyr, who makes like, they port older Star Wars games to modern consoles. Like they– we’ve talked about, I think recently, the Knights of the Old Republic 2 Switch port that has like the removed content mod coming as DLC. And like, they do Jedi Knight, all that stuff. Basically, if you were like, if you were a kid in the late nineties [merritt: “Mm-hmm”] with a PC, Aspyr is catering to you.

merritt: Did they do Republic Commando as well?

Nerium: That sounds right.

Imran: I believe that they did that or they’re intending to do that.

merritt: Mm. I mean, it’s out.

Nerium: That definitely came out, yeah.

Imran: Yeah. But like, that’s their thing.

Nerium: It feels in the spirit of an…Aspyr? Aspir?

Imran: Yeah, Aspyr.

Nerium: Aspyr. It feels– like, if that’s not a Republic Commando game that is a– or if that is not an Aspyr game, the Republic Commando rerelease that they did, it is in the style of an Aspyr rerelease, [merritt: “Mm,” Imran: “Right”] because these games are like, it is just, what if that old game ran on new hardware and we rezzed everything up and did no other work to it whatsoever.

Mike: Right.

merritt: Yeah.

Mike: And that’s the key part there, is that Aspyr is a porting house, kind of like…was it virtuous? Virtuos? Something.

Imran: Virtuos.

Mike: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah.

Mike: In that, you know, they’re decently good at taking old stuff and making it new, not as good as say, like, Bluepoint, but that’s what they did. So it was kind of always surprising to me that they were the developer. I was like, that doesn’t make sense, but now we know why it doesn’t make sense.

Imran: Yeah. Because apparently, according to Schreier at Bloomberg, that initial trailer? Completely fake.

merritt: What?

Imran: The vertical slice they showed Sony and I guess Disney was also more or less fake.

merritt: What? Wow, I have not been following this too closely. I just saw it was like, you know, delayed indefinitely.

Nerium: Well, there was nothing to follow.

Imran: Yeah. Like, it is also because it’s not moving fast enough. They thought it would be done somehow by the end of this year. They had not–

??? You all are high on dust! What are you doing?

merritt: They’re on that spice. They got Han Solo’s supply. He dropped it to avoid getting picked up by the Hutts or whatever the fuck, [laughter] and they picked it up themselves.

Imran: Like, it feels like a bunch of people who have never played video games to understand how video games work were like, oh yeah, this should be do– like, you’re just remaking a game, right? Like, just make the numbers higher.

merritt: Just tighten up the graphics on level three, exactly.

Imran: Just tighten up the graphics. Yeah.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: And so, they’ve fired two creative director directors over the last six months, because the game just is not shaping up the way they think it is, and now it’s just completely on hold.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Because–

Nerium: Which means it’s dead, right? Like this is not going anywhere.

Imran: Yeah.

Mike: Yeah, it’s dead.

merritt: Yeah.

Imran: I mean, I think it’s dead unless somebody like big intervenes, like Disney sees people were like, okay, people really seem to want this.

Mike: So, this is what I’m saying. Like, you’re EA, right? You look at Jedi: Fallen Order.

Nerium: Yeah.

Mike: You’re like, wow. That really frigging worked. Let’s do a sequel. Let’s keep– but you’re also EA, so you have access to Star Wars. You also still have BioWare. How do you not look at like the response to even just a remake of Knights of the Old Republic and go, “Hey, maybe we should get in on that.” [laughs]

Imran: I mean, one, EA is such a weird company these days.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: That I think they got the first part of that right, of, hey, Jedi: Fallen Order did really well. Let’s pursue that as single– like, and that’s a good idea. Let’s just keep pursuing single player games that are kind of prestige for us. But I don’t think they figured out the other half of that, which is what if we follow the market versus like trying to lead it somewhere. So, I don’t think– one, does the BioWare that made a good Knights of the Old Republic still exist?

Nerium: No.

merritt: Mm…

Nerium: It’s a different team.

merritt: Yeah, most of them are gone.

Imran: It’s different teams, but like, could they…could the existing BioWare, the people who made Anthem, make a good one now? And I don’t think that’s necessarily a certainty?

Nerium: I mean, so much of what people love about like that stuff from that era is like really good writing and presentation and like a very different, like, exploration of a franchise that they loved. And it’s just like, nothing about modern BioWare…when was the last time BioWare– I guess it would be Dragon Age Inquisition was the last game they put out that people were like, “I love these characters and this writing.” Like, nothing about the combat in…I mean, it’s fine. I think it plays perfectly fine even today, KOTOR, but it’s just like, you go up and you click on a guy and your guy starts attacking that guy, and then you press a button sometimes.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: Mostly people were in there for the romance options and like the weird shit about the Force and, you know, conversations [“Yeah”] about like what it means to be a Jedi versus a Sith in this universe, and that was also then–

Imran: People want to fuck a star war.

merritt: Mm.

Nerium: People want to fuck a star war. And obsidian came around, like they used to do back then, [merritt: “Mm-hmm”] and did it better in KOTOR 2. [laughs]

merritt: Yep.

Imran: Actually, if there’s not–

Mike: Also, why doesn’t Microsoft do it?

Imran: That’s what I was about to say. Like, if this deal like is not super Sony locked, I could see Microsoft being like, hey, we have Obsidian.

merritt: Mm-hmm.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Why don’t we just take this over?

Nerium: I’m so curious about Obsidian as a company right now, ’cause they’re working on like four games at the moment.

merritt: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah.

merritt: They’re- what was that? There’s that weird RPG, [Mike: “Avowed?”] that like 2D, hand drawn…

Mike: Oh.

Nerium: Penitent.

merritt: Penitent, yeah.

Imran: Yeah. That’s Josh Sawyer’s current project, which looks neat, but it doesn’t seem like a super high lift.

Nerium: Friend of the show, Josh Sawyer.

Imran: Yeah.

Mike: Yeah, I feel like…for all of the issues with Microsoft as a whole, as a big company, Microsoft as the steward of these studios it just bought is more of like, “Hey man, just make whatever.”

Nerium: Yeah.

Mike: We’ll hope something hits, but if not, it’s all on Game Pass. It doesn’t fucking matter. Go ahead. [laughs]

Nerium: I think that is the actual thing, is like Microsoft as they exist right now is just not concerned about hits. They’re just not a hit driven company. They are a get shit out quickly so it can go on Game Pass and people can have and can look at the big number on Game Pass and see, look at all these new games, so they can run sizzle reels that say like, “All of these games are coming in the next 12 months to Game Pass,” and a lot of the games that come out on Game Pass are not great actually for the most part, but some of them hit.

Imran: A lot of the AAA games, I would say, [Nerium: “Right”] would be the things of like, eh, this is fun. ‘Cause if you ever like, if you spend 150 million making a game, Microsoft’s gotta pay you a pretty penny to like put that on Game Pass.

merritt: Right.

Imran: So.

Mike: It is 100% the Netflix model. It is resulting in the same kind of content you see on Netflix, which is fine, but–

Nerium: Resulting in the Gray Man of video games, you know?

Mike: Right. Like, you’ll get that stuff, like that’s the major stuff, like that stuff is all just like, eh, it’s fine, whatever. I don’t… And then occasionally you’ll get something that’s interesting otherwise, and maybe they’ll build on that, but you don’t know.

Nerium: Usually it’s games, like I think, Imran, you were kind of alluding to, which is like the Tunics of the world.

Imran: Yes.

Nerium: Like, I’m not as in love with Tunic as a lot of other people have been. I haven’t played enough of it yet, but I know that game was huge for a lot of people, and it was ??? with Game Pass, and that was like a big deal.

Imran: Yeah. I think Game Pass is great for that series of things that like straddle the line of AA and AAA, like a Yakuza, like Bandai Namco’s anime action titles. Like, what was the name of that thing? It’s not Code Vein. Scarlet…?

merritt: Oh, Scarlet…

Nerium: Scarlet Nexus.

merritt: Nexus, yeah.

Imran: Scarlet Nexus, that’s it. Yeah, like those games live on Game Pass.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Then there’s like the higher tier things like Elden Ring, which if it ever comes to Game Pass will come like a year and a half later.

Nerium: Right.

merritt: Mm-hmm.

Imran: But anyway, KOTOR.

Nerium: KOTOR.

merritt: Hey, uh, do you know who owns Aspyr?

Nerium: No.

Imran: No.

merritt: Take a guess.

Mike: Are they Embracer? Are they embraced?

merritt: They’re Embracer Group, babey!

Nerium: They’ve been embraced.

merritt: [laughs] They’ve been embraced.

Imran: When did that happen?

merritt: They have risen as a member of the undead.

Mike: It’s funny how…

merritt: That is a joke for Nerium and no one else. [merritt and Nerium laugh]

Imran: Oh, that was last year.

Nerium: Oh, wow.

merritt: Yeah.

Imran: Like, early last year.

Nerium: That feels– like, if you had to put a gun to my head and said, “Tell me who owns or who bought Aspyr?” I would’ve said Embracer group. That just feels Embracer.

merritt: I mean, if you said Embracer when someone asked you that question of any studio, [Nerium laughs, “Yeah, statistically”] your odds of being correct are like one in three, so. [Nerium laughs]

Imran: Okay, this is a slight digression, but earlier today, they released the stuff on the AEW game, and they said Embracer is publishing it. Or THQ Nordic is publishing it. There was, in the trailer, they use the old THQ logo that was on like the WCW NWO revenge carts.

merritt: Uh huh.

Mike: Wow.

Nerium: Uh huh.

Imran: And it feels like kind of gross in a way, [Nerium: “Weird”] of like, you’re really leveraging something that does not really apply to you. [laughs]

merritt: Mm-hmm.

Nerium: Huh.

Mike: Yeah. Even though they do own it.

merritt: “THQ: It’s in the game.”

Mike: Oh, no.

Imran: I forgot about that.

Mike: I enjoy…because the Embracer model is so antithetical to what most of the rest of the industry does. They’re just like, I mean, we’ll put some resources into it, but like, we’re making B titles of your favorite classic IPs. And that’s all we’re gonna do.

Nerium: So weird.

Imran: That’s what they’ve doing for like the last five years, but like, presumably now that they own like Crystal Dynamics and the rest of Square’s castaways.

merritt: Aw, Gex!

Nerium: Mm-hmm.

Imran: Yeah. Like, presumably they are going to make some AAA games.

Nerium: Right, like Crystal Dynamics does not make like indie titles. They don’t make AA little Euro RPGs.

Imran: Yeah.

Mike: Maybe they do now.

Imran: They make products that are very expensive and sometimes bad.

Nerium: [laughs] Yeah.

Imran: But yeah, like I could see them making a new Deus Ex, like they have to shift into a phase– ’cause they they’ve purchased enough studios now that they have to shift to a phase now where they make bigger games.

Nerium: Right.

Imran: And like, I think Saints Row is maybe the start of that for them, [merritt sighs, “Oh boy”] ’cause they’re spending a ton of money on that game’s marketing in a way that… [laughs]

Nerium: Wait, Deep Silver is embraced?

merritt: Oh yeah.

Nerium: I missed that.

Mike: Yeah, that was a while ago.

merritt: They got got.

merritt: So, Embracer picked up all of the kock– Koch? Kock? whatever media.

Nerium: Kock media? Koch Media?

Mike: Yeah. Yeah.

Nerium: Yeah.

Mike: Koch Media properties. So yeah, they…that was when they picked up a lot of the stuff, like all of that [Nerium: “Huh”] THQ side, they picked up pretty much all of that stuff.

Imran: Yeah. I don’t think there’s anything that was former THQ that is now no longer Embracer.

Nerium: Huh. Interesting.

Imran: So, that they own it all. Good for them! Congratulations, Embracer, you weird me out.

Nerium: KOTOR remake. Anybody sad about this? Anybody want to see this picked up somewhere else?

merritt: Eh.

Mike: It didn’t exist, so whatever. [Nerium laughs]

merritt: It’s like, one of the big things, like, so that game was just like such a combination of we hadn’t really seen a lot of Star Wars games like that at the time that weren’t set [Nerium: “Right”] during the like Battle of Yavin original trilogy era.

Nerium: Just recreating the trench run.

merritt: We certainly hadn’t seen a lot of characters or a lot of games where you were creating a new character who you could sort of like direct the– I mean, they existed, but they’re just, it was not nearly as common. And also, it’s sort of like the first modern BioWare game.

Nerium: Yeah.

merritt: And so it had that novelty to it as well, and it’s a great game. I loved that game when I first played it on my Crystal Pepsi Xbox or whatever. [Nerium laughs]

Mike: Yeah, that was the…

merritt: But it’s like, going back to it now would probably…I mean, you would have to make some significant like mechanical overhauls for it to be enjoyable, given like what people expect at this point, I think. And like, I don’t know. I feel like just the original is still basically fine. [laughs] Like, I don’t know that this needed a remake. Like, I was kind of like, oh, that could be cool. But also 2 was always the better game.

Nerium: Mm.

Mike: And also, any remake, like any changes that they would make, like people would like flip their shit over it.

Nerium: Yeah.

Mike: Like if they changed the combat.

merritt: Unless they just deleted Carth. That would be fine.

Mike: [laughs] Carth Onasi.

merritt: We’ve removed Carth from the game. All scenes that he would’ve talked in, it’s just like, it sits on a blank screen.

Nerium: It’s an Ewok, yeah.

merritt: Like just background. [laughs] Yeah. We’ve digitally replaced Carth with an Ewok. [laughter]

Mike: Yeah, like the Last of Us remake video like came out, and people were like, “Uh, they didn’t change enough of the combat.” It’s like, well, yeah, because if they changed the combat to match Last of Us Part 2, like they’d have to redesign the environments. Like, an actual remake takes so much more work. Like, you’re just making another game, essentially.

Nerium: That’s why this claim that like, “Yeah, it’s gonna be out this year,” from the executives at Aspyr saying that that was going to happen, that that was ever on the table as something that somebody thought was possible, a full remake? ‘Cause this wasn’t like an HD remaster, this was– ‘cause that already exists.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: You can already play HD versions of KOTOR on your phone and a bunch of other stuff. So they were like talking about a Bluepoint style game, which is not something that this studio has ever done. All they’ve done are those like sort of really, really middle of the road, uprezes to get them working on modern hardware. And so this is not only a massive undertaking of a project, it’s a massive undertaking of a project for a team that is not, to my knowledge, equipped to do that sort of thing, especially not in like the whatever six months or whatever that they said it was going to take. [laughs] That is, to me, the funniest part of this whole story, [Imran: “Yeah”] that that was a line in this article.

Imran: It continues the important Sony tradition of every generation. They have to like advertise some game at a press conference or show or whatever that has no chance of ever coming out.

Nerium: [laughs] Right. It’s the Dark Sector of this generation or whatever, yeah.

Mike: And there were two…was Eclipse also at that one that the KOTOR remake was announced?

Imran: Oh, I don’t remember. What has happened to Eclipse?

merritt: Oh, God.

Mike: Eclipse is the Quantic Dream game.

Imran: Oh, yeah!

Nerium: Oh, right!

Mike: And apparently they can’t…

Nerium: No, that was Game Awards.

merritt: Yeah.

Mike: Okay. I was wondering if they were both announced at the same…and so that’s the other Star Wars game that is almost certainly not going anywhere because of different issues.

Imran: Right. I think Disney went on a drunken bender of just approving whatever anyone wanted to do, and now it’s the next morning being like, “What did we– who’s David Cage?”

Nerium: “Quantic Dream? Okay, let me just google David Cage real quick. Oh no!”

Imran: We are still the top search result for that thing. [Nerium laughs] ‘Cause I check the numbers every so often, it’s like, wow, another thousand hits for that same David Cage article again. Like, people are really interested in finding out that he called all his female characters whores.

Nerium: Yep.

Imran: Yep.

Nerium: Seems like a great company over there, and everything is going well. What’s the next story?

Imran: Uh, okay. Let’s…the rest of these are somewhat lighter, or not lighter, lower lift ones.

Nerium: Okay.

Imran: Yakuza 8. We saw some images off screen of that thing, because for some reason Famitsu and an MMA fighter went through the studio, and they just started taking pictures of stuff that was on screens.

merritt: Oh hell yes.

Nerium: Perfect. Great. I love it. I’m watching this.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: I’m watching this now. It’s a little bit tough to find, ’cause it’s a 17 minute video and you have to scrub through ’cause it’s mostly interviews, but yeah, they’re just like pointing their phone [laughs] at like developers’ thing as they’re like moving mouths. They’re dog mouthing, if anybody remembers that

Imran: Yeah. They really need this thing to hit, because this is the first RGG Studio game after Nagoshi and a lot of the other team left. So, they…

Nerium: Yeah. Right. He’s at NetEase, now?

Mike: Yes, he’s doing a new studio at NetEase.

Imran: Yes, which is almost certainly going to make games that are like Yakuza, so they’re going to have probably direct competition.

Merritt: Ooh.

Mike: Are they gonna finally do Triad? This is what I’m hoping, [“Ooh”] like come on, expand beyond Japan. You can do it.

Nerium: Sleeping Dogs 2.

merritt: Yeah, do Rise of the Triad. Do a remake of Rise of the Triad. [laughter]

Imran: It’d be funny if it’s like that thing where, so, when a famous developer leaves their studio, everyone’s like, “Oh, they’re gonna make a new version of the thing we love,” and then they just make something from like way back– [merritt laughs] like when Yu Suzuki made that shooter on Apple Arcade [Nerium: “Yeah”] that everyone laughed at the trailer.

Nerium: The Space Harrier game?

merritt: Oh.

Imran: Yes. But like, it’d be funny if he does that, but just like, it’s a new Monkey Ball essentially. [Nerium laughs] It’s like, we’re finally going back.

merritt: What if he’s like, I finally get to make my dream game, and it’s Balan Wonderland. [laughter]

Nerium: Oh my God.

Imran: Oh God, that. Yuji Naka has been going on a social media tear [merritt: “I know”] that as a news person, I love, but it’s so funny. ‘Cause, one, he is saying some things that are provably false.

merritt: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Imran: Like, he’s saying like, oh, so the famous story of Sonic Extreme where the American developers used the ??? engine for the boss fights and apparently he put a kibosh on it after he saw that. He denies that ever happened, but like four other people have been like, “No, that’s exactly how it went.” Like, I don’t know what the fuck Yuji Naka’s talking about.

merritt: [sighs] It’s sad.

Nerium: He’s also out there like talking about, “Oh, they took Michael Jackson’s music out of Sonic,” [Imran: “Yes”] and people are like, wait, what? That was never…that was always a rumor, but that was never like something confirmed.

Imran: Yeah. Like, it’s funny that he gives no fucks, but also I’m not positive all the things he’s saying are true.

merritt: Yeah.

Nerium: Right. Well, I think there was actually like a YouTube documentary from like the early days of YouTube—like before YouTube documentaries were a thing, it’s like literally from like 2006 or 2005 or something like that—where the guy who supposedly did make that music like just straight up says like, “Yeah, Michael Jackson came into the studio, and he kind of gave his blessing on some stuff, but I mostly wrote a bunch of the music, and just like asked, ‘Is it okay if this music sounds like this? ‘Cause it kind of sounds like some of your stuff,’ and Michael Jackson was like, ‘Yeah, sure,’” and so that’s mostly what it was, but like that part of the story just never really took on traction. It’s like the ET cartridges in the desert thing, where it’s just like, people knew for a very, very long time, yes, this is how it went, but then like enough time passed and enough people just chose not to look for the truth as it existed, I guess? and decided that it was a mystery.

merritt: Mm.

Imran: Yeah. Did you know you can’t find that episode of The Simpsons anymore? Like, on Disney Plus?

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Like, they removed that.

Nerium: It’s the one episode that you can’t watch.

merritt: What episode?

Imran: The Michael Jackson one.

merritt: Oh, right, yeah. Well.

Imran: Where he was– like, the guy thought he was Michael Jackson [merritt: “Yeah”] and was actually Michael Jackson playing it.

merritt: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

merritt: [sarcastic] I think it’s fine to remove things without any note about why they did that and pretend they don’t exist.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Right.

merritt: I think it’s good to do that, and we should all strive to do that with all of our errors and pasts [Imran laughs] that we prefer not to think about.

Imran: I like that episode, is the problem.

merritt: Yeah, no, it is good, I was…yeah.

Imran: Yeah.

merritt: Um…that’s, yeah, Yakuza 8, wow.

Imran: Yakuza 8, I feel like–

Nerium: [laughs] merritt, fake Yakuza fan.

Imran: Yakuza 7 I think is the–

merritt: I’ll get into it one day.

Imran: When I talk about the games that like learned from Breath of the Wild, I feel like Yakuza 7 is actually one of those.

Nerium: Mm.

Imran: Not because it takes from Breath of the Wild, but it thinks like, okay, how do we reinvent our series?

Nerium: Right.

merritt: Wait, when did Yakuza 7 come out?

Mike: It’s Like a Dragon.

Imran: 7 was Like a Dragon.

Mike: Yeah, it’s the RPG one.

merritt: Oh, sure. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Okay, okay.

Imran: Yeah. So this one’s probably also gonna have a subtitle that’s not in the West of Yakuza

merritt: ‘Cause for a second there, I was like, how did we get to 8? [laughter] That seems like a lot.

Nerium: Well, the funny thing is if you [merritt: “There’s more, yeah”] count like spinoffs, there’s way more than eight Yakuza games.

merritt: Kiwami, the remakes.

Imran: There’s two PSP games we don’t talk about. [merritt sighs]

Nerium: There are two games that are like–

Mike: People are still asking for Kenzan.

Nerium: Yeah, those two.

Imran: Yes.

Nerium: Kenzan and, uh, Ishin? Ishin.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: Which are the Yakuza games that are set in like feudal Japan, [merritt: “Oh, right”] and use Yakuza characters, but also crucially aren’t sequels to one another. It’s like one is set in like the year 800 and one is set in the year 1200 and they still use the same– [laughs] they use the same character models, but they’re playing completely different characters in largely different settings, which is very weird.

Imran: Yeah.

merritt: No, it’s– I love that. I think that’s great.

Nerium: It’s great!

merritt: That’s like the Tezuka model of just like, hey, I invented some fake– some characters, and I’m gonna treat them like actors and just put them in all my stuff.

Nerium: Yeah. Sure.

merritt: They’ll be playing different guys, but they just always look the same. [laughs]

Mike: I think for the US, probably, they should do it like, keep the “like a,” you know, like the Spider-Man home films, like so…

Nerium: Oh.

Mike: So Yakuza: Like a Tiger or Yakuza: Like a…

Nerium: Sure.

merritt: Ah.

Mike: Yeah.

Nerium: He’s a fish, the main guy.

merritt: Like a fish.

Imran: Yeah.

merritt: Doesn’t have quite a lot of– it doesn’t sound great. [Nerium laughs] Like a fish.

Imran: Like a dragon fish.

Nerium: Yeah, he has like a dragon fish tattoo.

merritt: Like a squirmy, wet and wiggling [Nerium: “Uh huh?”] guy that Gollum’s gonna take a big chomp out of.

Nerium: No, that Gollum game got delayed, so it’s fine.

merritt: [sighs] No! [Nerium laughs]

Mike: No one asked for that game. Oh my God.

merritt: That’s the only game that I want. [Nerium laughs] I only want to play the Gollum game. But we do have some details on Crisis Core.

Nerium: We do.

Imran: Yeah, we do.

merritt: Do we want to talk about that?

Imran: Mostly, the major thing from that is that they, despite what they were saying earlier, they promise they’re not changing the story, which…

merritt: Is that like– oh, because they changed with Final Fantasy VII, yeah.

Imran: Yeah. People– so, Final Fantasy VII Remake kind of needs Crisis Core as context.

merritt: Mm.

Imran: Otherwise the end of that first game makes zero sense for anybody.

merritt: I see.

Imran: But like, once they announced Crisis Core has a remake, people were kind of going okay, are they changing the story of that at all? ‘Cause then once you change that, the remake doesn’t make any sense.

Nerium: Right.

merritt: Mm.

Mike: Yeah, and I think the funny part for me is that when you look at this sort of line of stuff, like Nomura in his little corner of the company has just made this weird batshit mythology that all goes together.

Nerium: Uh huh.

Mike: And no one has been able to stop him, to the point that you’re just like, wait, does Remake maybe potentially reference Kingdom Hearts? I don’t know? What?

Imran: The Nomura-verse.

Mike: Right!

merritt: Yeah.

Mike: And it’s very weird.

Imran: The Nomura cinematic universe.

Nerium: Well, and nobody’s had to contend with the weird shit that happens in Crisis Core, because it was a PSP game that was only released on UMD. It was never rereleased digitally [merritt: “Oh”] because of like music issues.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: So most people have not only–

merritt: That’s Zack, right?

Nerium: Zack, yeah.

merritt: No, not Zack– oh.

Imran: It is Zack.

merritt: Yes?

Nerium: Yeah.

merritt: Okay.

Nerium: It’s the story of Zack, who’s a character in VII in flashbacks, [merritt: “Yes, yeah”] and it’s basically his origin story.

merritt: Right. Okay. I get him confused with the long hair man, ’cause I never played VII.

Nerium: Sephiroth, is that who you’re confusing–

merritt: Vincent.

Nerium: Vincent, okay.

Imran: Ah. Vincent has his own spinoff.

Nerium: Yeah.

merritt: That’s why I get them confused

Mike: Vincent was Dirge of Cerberus with Gackt in it. Yeah, Gackt.

Imran: Well, I mean, Crisis Core had Gackt way more, but yes.

merritt: No, that was actually Final Fantasy VIII, Mike, that Gackt was in. [laughter] He’s the main character.

Imran: Nomura had a thing for Gackt.

Nerium: Let’s all find a Final Fantasy game that doesn’t have Gackt in it.

Imran: Final Fantasy VIII had that guy who looked a lot like Robin Williams.

merritt: Some of them came out before he was born, probably, so.

Nerium: That’s true.

Mike: Oh, right! He was a big character in Crisis Core.

Imran: Yes.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: He’s the villain. He’s the villain of Crisis Core.

Nerium: Yeah.

merritt: Wow.

Nerium: He eats Zack’s hair and is like–

merritt: Sorry?

Nerium: And Zack is like, “That guy just ate my hair!”

Imran: Yeah. To steal Zack’s power, because it’s in his hair.

merritt: Oh, he’s like a Samson?

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: He’s like eating his genetic material or something like that to like take into himself or something like that, and then he’s like…he’s being held, Zack is being held down on the ground on a bridge by like two soldiers, and then Gackt comes up, pulls some of his hair out, and then eats it. And then his soldiers pull out some of Zack’s hair and eat it too, [merritt: “We need to move on”] and Zack’s like, “What the fuck is going on?”

merritt: We need to– I don’t like this. [laughs]

Imran: I hope the remake shows him with different– ’cause you can’t pull out someone’s hair and their hair not look different.

Nerium: What?

Imran: It should be a different model.

merritt: I mean, it doesn’t have to be a lot.

Nerium: Oh. Well, how much– yeah, how much hair is he pulling out?

Imran: I don’t– I mean…

Mike: I mean, Zack has a lot of hair.

Imran: Yeah. Also, eating hair just sounds…

merritt: Yeah, he’s got that lush, thick anime hair.

Nerium: He does.

Imran: Like, you can’t just eat hair. You have to wash it down.

merritt: I mean…can we not talk about eating hair anymore? [laughter]

Nerium: What if we talked about another story on this list?

Imran: Uh, Forspoken has been delayed again.

Nerium: Again, again.

Mike: Shock.

Imran: Which, they imply, not their fault, in a way that I’ve never seen a company be like, “Yeah, Sony’s kind of telling us not to do it.”

merritt: Huh.

Imran: Like, they say…so, it has been delayed from what was intended to be October, which is just a month from now, to January. And their actual delay reason was like: the game is done. We’re polishing it a bit, ’cause we have time to polish it, [merritt: “Mm-hmm”] but in speaking with our partners—of which there’s only one [Nerium: “Only one,” laughter]—we’ve decided we need to move this game out of this holiday window.

merritt: Huh.

Mike: So, Sony needs a game for that window.

Imran: Right.

merritt: Yeah.

Mike: And they got God of War already for this holiday, and they’re like…

merritt: Right, yeah.

Mike: Yeah.

Imran: I think the reasoning is if you released it in October, it’s gonna get run over by The Last of Us.

merritt: Right, yeah.

Imran: There’s The Last of Us and then God of War right after that.

Nerium: Right.

Imran: So, you can release it, it’s just, we’re not gonna give you that much marketing money for it.

merritt: Right. That makes sense, yeah.

Mike: Right. Whereas if you move it to quarter one 2023, we don’t have anything there.

Nerium: Right.

Imran: Yeah.

Mike: So, we’ll be nice to you.

Nerium: We’ll put some more oomph behind the game that we don’t own, when we don’t have games that we do own, [Imran: “Yeah”] ’cause yeah, those are first– that’s the thing about Sony, Sony puts out Sony video games, [merritt: “Mm”] and I guess if you’re making an exclusive with them, you have to consider that.

Imran: But also like, I don’t think…I think part of that reasoning is nobody cares about Forspoken.

merritt: Mm.

Imran: They’ve not gotten a single person to be like, “Hell yeah, I’m so excited for Forspoken.” I think the most anyone thinks about Forspoken is: Oh, yeah, that game, huh?

Nerium: Yeah.

merritt: The isekai RPG.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, like I’ll try it, but like…

Imran: Yeah.

Mike: I don’t really even fully…like it’s open world actiony. I don’t really know what the game is.

Nerium: Yeah.

Mike: It’s just…

Imran: I was at a preview, and I know what it is, I just…it’s not that interesting so far. Like, they’ve not shown what the hook for that game will be, [Nerium: “Right”] besides you can combine spells and dash around.

Nerium: Right.

Imran: Which are neat things, but not enough for me to drop $70 on a video game.

merritt: Yeah. I could do that in Fable 3, so.

Nerium: Right. I mean, straight up.

Imran: [laughs] You could do that in Fable 3 and solve kingdom issues or whatever the fuck that game ended with.

merritt: Yeah, and, you know, throw children into a furnace to power my war machine or whatever.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: But there’s like, you know, there are games like that, especially on Sony consoles. There are third person action games where you run around and do different things, and some of those have bigger hooks than others. I think for some people, not necessarily for me, the hook in The Last of Us is the story and those characters. Spider-Man is the more obvious example that leaps to mind though, ’cause it’s like, the hook in that game is that that swinging feels really fucking good.

merritt: You are fucking Spider-Man.

Mike: And you’re Spider-Man.

Nerium: You’re fucking Spider-Man.

Mike: And the problem with–

merritt: Like, not– crucially though, you are not fucking Spider-Man.

Mike: Oh.

merritt: That’s…they don’t put those on the console.

Nerium: Not yet.

merritt: Those are just on Newgrounds.

Mike: But yeah, Spider-Man’s coming to PC, so maybe you will. [laughs]

merritt: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah. Those models are getting ripped out.

merritt: Oh my God.

Mike: Yeah!

Imran: And put in the source code maker immediately.

Nerium: Oh my God!

merritt: Oh no. They’re gonna do the– no, they’re gonna do Spider-Man Elsa Dentist in HD!

Nerium: No! [laughter]

merritt: No, no, no, no.

Nerium: But crucially with a guy who doesn’t look like Tom Holland. [merritt sighs] We didn’t change his face to look more like Tom Holland. Just the fact that he looks like Tom Holland is just a total coincidence.

merritt: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Mike: Yeah.

Imran: It’s so wild they got away with that. [laughs]

Nerium: That’s so weird.

Imran: Just being like, “I don’t know. We’re just– we’re doing it. Don’t ask questions.” And everyone was like, “Fine, whatever.”

merritt: Yeah, who cares.

Nerium: It is so bizarre.

merritt: Not like you see his face most of the time.

Nerium: That’s true.

Mike: The big problem with Forspoken is…Final Fantasy XV, I know some people enjoy that game. For me, it plays terribly.

Nerium: Yeah.

Mike: The only good thing is the story, and even that was like half finished when it first came out. But like, Forspoken seems to be a lot of the same foundation as the gameplay of Final Fantasy XV, [merritt and Nerium: “Mm”] and I did not like that, so I just don’t know why they carried it forward into its own game.

Nerium: The thing I liked about the– the thing that to me is sort of tragic about Final Fantasy XV is like the first five hours of XV have that really– I think a really interesting hook, like really interesting concept of these guys who are just on the road together and need to pick up odd jobs and to make money, to buy food and go camping and stuff, and if you go out on monster hunts for locals and if you have good, like if you did a good job monster hunting that day, you can stay in a hotel and you get better buffs for the next day, and then you can go out and hunt bigger and badder monsters. Or if you didn’t make much money that day, you have to camp out in the fucking woods and eat chicken noodle soup and stuff like that, and you don’t get as good of buffs. And that sort of idea of like video game version of like Trigun or something like that, where it’s just like, you know, serialized, or non serialized, whatever it is, episodic road trip adventure story set in a fantasy world is like really cool to me, but yes, also the combat system is not good. [laughs]

Imran: Yeah. I will give them the benefit of the doubt. It looked fun from like what they’ve shown so far, but like, it’s that line of this looks fun, I bet I would enjoy it while I’m playing it, versus, how do I get motivated enough to pick this up in the first place?

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: And I think Forspoken rides that line exactly, to the point where I don’t know…like, if they send me code, I will play it.

Nerium: Yeah, yeah.

Imran: Beyond that, I’m not sure what would motivate me to do so.

merritt: Mm.

Nerium: For sure. I’m interested, but yeah. Like you said, there’s no hook for me.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: Uh, do we have anything else? Are we pretty much…?

Imran: I think that’s– we can skip the Nier church thing. We have stories on the site. We have a Thanks for the Knowledge about it last week.

Nerium: Are you sure? Like, the Nier church thing was pretty wild. We’ve been going for a little while, and I know people probably have stuff to do, but I just want to say that…if we are skipping it, we should tell people, yeah, you should go to fanbyte.com news section and go read the Nier Automata church story.

Imran: Yeah, also last week’s TFTK.

merritt: Hey, also, Live A Live came out this month, and uh…

Mike: I was about to say.

merritt: You should…I feel like I’m never this person who’s like, “You gotta support it so they know!” but like, [laughs quietly] you gotta support it so they know. [Nerium laughs]

Mike: I’m gonna.

Imran: I mean, we can talk about Live A Live. We have not talked about Live A Live yet.

Nerium: I’ll talk about Live A Live. I’ve not played it.

merritt: Yeah, I’m like a little ways in. I think I’m wrapping up my fourth story. I’ve only played a little of the original. I tried to play it a few years ago with the translation patch, but it is wild that this game got a remake, considering it never was never released in the US and like wasn’t popular in Japan.

Imran: Yeah. It looked real bad. Like, it was…

merritt: Oh, yeah, no.

Imran: It looked like FF4.

merritt: The sprites were really tiny.

Imran: Yeah.

merritt: The battle sprites were like okay.

Imran: Yeah.

merritt: But most of the game, yeah, didn’t look great. Very weird concept that sort of didn’t fit into the mold of what an RPG looked like at the time, because you’re shifting around between these different characters. In many ways, just like a prototype or like testing ground for the ideas that would then find their full expression in games like Chrono Trigger. But really neat, and the way I described it, I think, on Channel F recently was like, it’s basically a collection of short stories that uses like the JRPG format as like a way of telling them.

Nerium: Mm-hmm.

merritt: And also it gets like very, very weird at the end, because like…

Imran: Yes.

merritt: So, minor spoilers, I guess. Once you finish the first seven stories, you get an eighth story.

Nerium: Ooh.

merritt: Once you finish that, then all of those characters come together for one giant party, kind of, except it’s more like the fate of the universe and shit, during which you can choose to play as the villains and just be like, [Nerium: “What?”] “Fuck all of y’all.” [laughs]

Imran: It gives you the option of every single character, including the villain.

merritt: Including the character who turns out to be the villain.

Imran: And if you do that one, his ending is just, all right, I’m just gonna do the evil things I want to do.

merritt: I’m gonna do the evil things.

Imran: And you do it.

merritt: And then also, like, I guess further minor spoilers, if you’re in that like last chapter and you’re the villain, the flee command– because you can skip a lot of the battles in this game.

Nerium: Yeah.

merritt: And like I mentioned on Channel F, you can skip some story battles, and it has story consequences, which is really cool. It changes the flee command to like apocalypse or armageddon or something. And it’s just like, basically you just like press the like destroy the universe button, and that’s the ending you get, because you’re just like, [Nerium laughs] “Oh, I’m losing? Nope, that’s it, everyone dies.” So it’s just kind of cool.

Nerium: I’ve gotta play this game.

merritt:And like, there’s a bunch of like Enix and Square RPGs from the nineties that have never been officially released, and more and more of them are getting translation patches, which is really cool. But like, Treasure of the Rudras is one that comes to mind where you’re like creating spells by combining syllables, to like, oh, this syllable means a fire attack, and this one means like attack all enemies, and this one means does more damage, and like, you create a spell like that. And it would be really cool if more of those games got adapted in this kind of way, I think. So, yeah.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah.

Mike: Yeah.

merritt: If you like this kind of thing, I would say check it out.

Imran: I have a currently stalled article just sitting in the CMS right now of like, if you like Chrono Trigger or you like games like Undertale, you can see their bones in Live A Live.

merritt: Oh, definitely.

Mike: And I was about to say, so, Live A Live is designed by Nobuyuki Inoue, who also directed Mother 3.

merritt: Mm.

Mike: So this is, you know, as close as you can get.

merritt: Yeah, a lot of like…

Imran: Yeah, like Takashi Tokita is the director of most of the scenarios in this game [merritt: “Yep”] and a writer of the game, and like, he directed Chrono Trigger.

merritt: Yeah. So yeah, like I said, kind of a testing ground for a lot of the stuff that would go on to like define really big RPGs in the ‘90s and 2000s.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: I really want to play this.

Mike: And I think part of the benefit, context always matters for game releases, any sort of release, and I think the fact that this is like a 30 hour quirky RPG coming out like now really helps it in a way that when it came out did not. It was just another ???

merritt: Totally.

Nerium: Yeah.

merritt: ‘Cause yeah, it was competing with like what, like Final Fantasy III or IV or something at that point?

Imran: It was a year before Chrono Trigger, so it would’ve put it around FF6.

merritt: Okay.

Imran: Yeah, so like, and I remember at the time, like– I don’t remember, I read up at the time that a lot of the reasons people in Japan didn’t like it was that it was too short for an RPG.

Nerium: Right.

merritt: Yeah.

Imran: ‘Cause everyone thought at that time, RPGs, to warrant the cost of buying the game, it should be 70 to 80 hours long and have like an epic story that ends with you killing God.

merritt: Mm-hmm.

Imran: And Live A Live doesn’t do that. Live A Live is like a fairly short like anthological vignette-based thing, they added some new content in this version that I think is very interesting, because it feels like it’s actually– this game influenced Undertale, [merritt: “Mm”] very clearly influenced Undertale, but I think the new content is actually influenced by Undertale in turn.

Nerium: Oh, interesting.

merritt: Huh.

Imran: So like, it’s a weird ouroboros of different RPG tropes that– even at the time, this game was trying to subvert tropes, and now 30 years later, it feels like those tropes are back again, and it’s trying to subvert them in a different way.

Mike: Yeah, and if you wanted the weird game at this time—so, this would’ve been Final Fantasy VI—it would’ve been Romancing SaGa 2, [merritt: “Yeah”] which was essentially the weird RPG but bigger than this at the time. So it’s one of those like, in the context of when it released, it was like, “Ah, I don’t know, man,” but now like when every game out there is a live service or a hundred hours, you’re just like, wait, you only want like 25 hours from me? I got you, Live A Live.

Imran: Yeah. A Live a Live service. [laughter]

merritt: [hums comedic punchline tune]

Nerium: Well, that’s awesome. Like, I mean, this is a situation where I know we kind of spoiled some like thematic stuff that goes on, but like…I’ve been like, “Oh yeah, this is that’s something I should check out,” for a little while now, but like now– because people have been dancing around it. Everybody keeps talking about how like cool and interesting it is, but like people have mostly danced around like what is actually cool and interesting about it. And the more I hear, especially hearing now you talk about it twice, merritt, on both Channel F and this, like, I’m getting this game. I’m gonna pick it up. I’m bummed to– I was going to buy it on Steam while we were having this conversation, but I guess it’s only on Switch right now.

merritt: It is only on Switch right now, yeah.

Imran: It’ll almost certainly get ported one day.

merritt: Yeah.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Like, I think Octopath was a year later, two years later? But like, the…it’s one of those things where you see the UI and you see like it has [merritt: “Mm-hmm”] graphical interpretations of the buttons, like yeah, that’s a generic button placement. [Nerium laughs]

merritt: Yep.

Imran: Like, that’s a thing that they know they’re gonna replace that button graphic at some point.

Nerium: Gotcha.

merritt: But yeah, you know what? Like, come on, do this. Maybe we’ll get…I don’t know, Bahama Lagoon or like Energy Breaker or…

Nerium: Uh huh. All the classics.

merritt: [laughs] All the classic RPGs that nobody knows. Uh, Dark Half. You know, A Dark Half?

Nerium: Yeah, the Stephen King novel. It’s great.

Imran: You know what I would love? And this is unlikely they will do this at least for another couple of years, but if they start remaking stuff in the PS1 era again, I would really be–

merritt: Mm.

Nerium: Yes!

Imran: I want to see Tobal No. 1 and 2.

Nerium: Tobal!

merritt: Ooh.

Nerium: Oh my God,Tobal, with that fucking weird story mode.

Imran: We never got 2 in America, [Nerium: “Nope”] and 2 is the good one. 2 is the one they’re like, okay, we kinda get what this dungeon mode should be.

Nerium: Mm-hmm.

Mike: Also, since we got Inoue, Magical Vacation and Magical Starsign [merritt: “Oh my God”] are two RPGs that he directed for Nintendo.

merritt: Oh, yeah.

Imran: Did they not come out in Europe?

merritt: Vacation was never localized.

Mike: I think we got Starsign.

merritt: We got Starsign on the DS. ‘Cause I started playing Vacation via translation patch that came out a few years ago. I didn’t get that far in it, but it’s a really bizarre game.

Imran: Mm.

merritt: It’s like kind of like a Harry Potter sort of thing of like magical school, but then like, oh, what if the school was trying to sacrifice all the students for…like to do a war effort or something? And also instead of like elves and orcs and stuff, there’s like puppets and like acorns are like one of the like fantastical races. [laughs] It’s very weird, but like it has a very cool battle system too, where like, you’re basically, you get your MP back constantly, so you’re like encouraged to use spells all the time. And yeah, that would be great. I would love that.

Mike: Yeah, ’cause I feel like Miyamoto kicked in for that game at the time, I think.

merritt: Mm.

Mike: Maybe just producing, but even producing, like…

Imran: Yeah.

Mike: Miyamoto came down as like…

Imran: It was Nintendo published, I think.

Mike: Yeah.

Imran: So, yeah. And he tends to get involved in those games. [laughs]

Nerium: See, I’m so basic, ’cause I’m like, I don’t really know or– I just literally don’t know about like a lot of the games that never got localized.

merritt: Yeah. Those games were Brownie Brown, [Imran: “Yeah”] which is now 1-Up, and they…yeah, I think they got like bought or whatever, taken over by Nintendo, like 10 years ago or something?

Imran: Yeah, I believe Nintendo owns them. They also made Mother 3.

merritt: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: Bring back Brave Fencer Musashi. [laughter] This is all I’m asking for. Well, no, I also want Einhänder.

Mike: Wait, why?

Nerium: Brave Fencer Musashi?

Mike: That game is terrible!

Nerium: What are you on?! [Imran laughs]

Mike: It’s terrible. We only bought that for the demo.

Nerium: Do you work for Aspyr?

merritt: All right. We can all agree, though, that Fantasy Life is a perfect game, and that mobile version of it is probably not very good, and we just need– I know it’s only 10 years old, but it’s on the 3DS, and it’s like, no one has a 3DS anymore.

Nerium: Mm.

merritt: So, just make Fantasy Life 2 on the Switch.

Nerium: The 3DSs are also like mad expensive now. It’s hard to get them out there.

Imran: If you get a 2DS, [Nerium: “Oh, sure”] if you don’t care about the 3D feature, those things are actually pretty good.

merritt: Mm.

Nerium: Yeah, but I want the thing that can play all the games. I want a machine that allows me to play Super Mario 3D Land.

Imran: Yeah, but, you could still play 3D Land, just– ’cause they had to make every game like [merritt: “Yeah”] playable without 3D, because they…

merritt: ‘Cause they’re like, this will warp kids’ eyes. It’ll turn their eyes square.

Imran: Yeah.

merritt: You’re not supposed to do it if you’re under 12 or whatever.

Imran: The warning they gave that pretty much killed that thing was, “Hey, kids shouldn’t play this.” And everyone was like, “Okay.” [merritt laughs]

Nerium: There were puzzles in 3D Land where it’s like, you would be looking at a diorama or something like that, and…

Imran: Yeah. They’re easier, but not like…

Nerium: Yeah, but it…that’s the full experience. That’s what I want.

merritt: Yeah, well.

Nerium: I don’t want a machine that can’t get me the full experience on everything. What am I doing?

Imran: Mm.

Nerium: I have to get a HTC Vive or a Valve Index or whatever the fuck [merritt: “Mm-hmm, mm-hmm”] for a thousand dollars and not just an Oculus Quest, because I need the full features. What if it can’t do all of the stuff?

Imran: I mean, just wait a couple of months. I’m sure the Oculus Quest will be a thousand dollars anyway. [laughter]

Nerium: That’s a good point. I forgot that they’re raising the price! What a weird thing. Anyway, we should probably dip on out of here. This has been going for a little while now anyway. We can move on and call it for another episode of 99 Potions, the premier Fanbyte RPG podcast.

Imran: Yeah. I don’t know who’s gonna be on next week, but I think we’re talking Xenoblade or Xeno something.

Nerium: Yes. I think we will be talking about Xeno stuff. I’ve been playing Xenoblade Chronicles 1: Definitive Edition, not 3, which would be smarter to do, but I wanted to beat 1—and maybe 2 and maybe that DLC, we’ll see—before I go into Xenoblade Chronicles 3, so I’m nearly done with Xenoblade. So I got some Xeno thoughts. I’ve never played Xenosaga.

Mike: What?

Imran: Well, theoretically, John will be back for that.

Nerium: Right.

Imran: And John will talk your ears off about Xenosaga.

Mike: Ah, Xenosaga’s so weird.

Nerium: He’ll tell me about KOS-MOS.

Mike: KOS-MOS is so good.

Nerium: “Cosmos”?

Mike: Yeah, it’s supposed to be “cosmos.”

Nerium: I always thought it was “kose-mose”.

Imran: I always thought it was “kose-mose” too, and like, even though I realize “cosmos” is what the intention was, [Mike laughs] it doesn’t look like that.

Nerium: No.

Mike: That’s true. It does. It’s like, K-O-S dash M-O-S.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: Well, the reason I actually say it “kose-mose” is because during, when G4TV was around, they did a couple of years where they did like proto Geoff Keighley Keighley Award type things, like video game awards shows with like live audiences and stuff. They had Wilmer Valderrama host one year, and they had like a best new character category or something like that, and KOS-MOS was one of the things. So like, they would show the characters on screen, and the narrator or whatever would go like “KOS-MOS!” or whatever for each different character that came on, and that’s how they said it, and that’s how it’s always been in my head, ’cause that’s literally the only thing I’ve ever heard or seen of Xenosaga.

Mike: No, you are actually like correct. It’s just one of those things like Titus or Teetus.

Nerium: Oh.

Mike: It’s fine. There’s a dub in the game, like Xenosaga actually had voice acting, [laughs] so you’re correct. It’s just one of those things. Like, I think like “Teetus” is supposed to be correct, but I refuse.

Imran: That’s what they say in Kingdom Hearts.

Mike: Yeah.

Imran: Is “Teetus”.

Mike: No.

Nerium: Yeah, it is.

Mike: No, I will not let it slide.

Imran: We’ll find out in the inevitable Final Fantasy ten three.

[music]

Nerium: Hey, Imran.

Imran: Hey, Nerium.

Nerium: It’s just me and you here today.

Imran: It is just us.

Nerium: I mean, we’ve got guests on this episode, but it’s not really like…you know, the 99 Potions people are normally four not two.

Imran: Yeah. We’ve moved to the corner of the room, away from our guests, so we can talk privately.

Nerium: Right, yeah. They don’t know that I’m still recording this WAV. It’s like a meme.

Imran: That’s what my shirt says. “They don’t know that I’m recording this WAV.”

Nerium: [laughs] “They don’t know that I’m wearing a wire” would be a great shirt. Okay, write that down. And while you’re writing that down, you can also write down our social handles, which are, for me, @neriumstrom on Twitter. Where can people find you, Imran?

Imran: You can find me on Twitter @imranzomg.

Nerium: You can find our producer Paul @polyimayo on Twitter, and you can also find John, our wonderful boss, over on Twitter @floppyadult. Imran, I’ll let you take care of our co-host Natalie’s.

Imran: You can find the incredibly…what’s the word I’m looking for? Bullyish?

Nerium: Bullyish, mm-hmm.

Imran: Bullyish Natalie Flores on Twitter @heartimecia.

Nerium: Kind of a bull market/bear market situation, you know, she…

Imran: Yeah, but she is both bull and bear.

Nerium: Yeah, right.

Imran: In that she will just kill you.

Nerium: She believes in the right to bear arms against you specifically.

Imran: Right.

Nerium: And that’s about it. That’s gonna be our social for this week. You can also, if you want to, you know, more generally hang out with different people who love this show and like to talk about it, you can go over to fanbyte.casa, the Discord community for Fanbyte in general, which has a 99 Potions Discord channel under the Fanbyte podcasts category, it looks here.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: There’s a picture of Virion from Fire Emblem that somebody has just posted, sitting in a chair drinking tea, who I thought was Francisca von Karma from Ace Attorney for a minute.

Imran: They’re very similar.

Nerium: They are very– and like that’s the fucked up thing, is I’m realizing how similar those characters are, and I have to go home and rethink my life.

Imran: Mm. But go there. Tell us what you like about the podcast. Tell us what you don’t like. It better only be things you like, otherwise you will be asked to leave politely.

Nerium: I mean, Natalie is in there. She can see all of your stuff. So, you know, we won’t ask you to leave, but you know, we can’t control Natalie either.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: We can’t be held responsible for what she does.

Imran: No one has ever controlled Natalie.

Nerium: No, no. God, no. Jesus. We’ve tried. Many have tried, and many died. And what we say is: let’s go on over to the bar, grab ourselves a nice tall glass of botion, turn towards each other, and give it a nice [in unison] clink!