Out This Week

Pokemon X

Who’s The Real Monster?

With a new installment on the horizon, Drew considers the morality of Pokémon-on-Pokémon violence.

By Drew Toal • October 8, 2013

Out This Week is a look at a few new games that are out this week.

Pokémon X & Y
3DS—October 12

Pokémon hews a little too close to dogfighting for my taste. You catch all these critters, train them to fight, and then pit them against one another in brutal spectacles? I am appalled, and I call on members of Congress to cease the grandstanding they’re indulging in over Obamacare and start grandstanding to outlaw Pokémon, which is surely a more productive use of their time and manufactured outrage. “Life can be a challenge,” said GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain, quoting the Pokémon movie. “Life can seem impossible. It’s never easy when there’s so much on the line. But you and I can make a difference. There’s a mission just for you and me.”

Beyond: Two Souls
PlayStation 3—October 8

When did Ellen Page become the queen of PlayStation-exclusive video games? After having her face stolen for the plucky, deadly Ellie in The Last Of Us, Page now willingly lends her voice and face to the role of Jodie Holmes, a little girl with a psychic link to an otherworldly entity known as Aiden. What if, and I’m just spitballing here, this “Aiden” turns out to be nothing more than a rogue pokémon seeking revenge on humans for centuries of exploitation and abuse? Can we really afford to rule out that possibility?

Mech Mice
Mac, PC—October 8

Shards from heaven fall to the ground, instilling common mice—historically food chain basement dwellers—with super-intelligence and advanced technology. Naturally, they split into factions and try to kill one another. It’s a story as old as time. Like any junkie, I will get my turn-based tactical fix from wherever I can while I wait for the next XCOM: Enemy Unknown add-on to come out next month, even if that requires shamelessly playing a game made for children.

F-1 2013
PC—October 8

I normally don’t pay too much attention to racing games in these pages—the last racing game I truly loved was Al Unser Jr.’s Turbo Racing for the NES—but I thought this would be a fun one to play in conjunction with Ron Howard’s new film, Rush, which stars Thor and some other handsome guy racing Formula One cars and scoring chicks at a breakneck pace. Like the film, this game pays homage to the race car drivers of decades past, and allows you to race throwback cars from the ’80s and ’90s, the era when I was in my Al Unser Jr. Turbo Racing prime.

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109 Responses to “Who’s The Real Monster?”

  1. GaryX says:

    I’m not really surprised to see such polarizing scores for Beyond. I doubt I’ll play it though, as I’ve hated Cage’s previous efforts.

    Pretty pumped for that Pokemon, though.

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      The first (well, only) review I’ve read so far made the game sound like Indigo Prophecy: Ellen Page Edition. That is not a ringing endorsement.

      • GaryX says:

        Not at all. I consider Indigo Prophecy to be one of the worst games I’ve ever played. I went into it really wanting to like it and willing to meet it halfway, too.

        • JamesJournal says:

          Indigo Prophecy was cool until the last third … then … yuck

        • ocelotfox says:

           I’d stretch to say it’s an awful game.  I feel like many people impose their opinions on Cage’s storytelling (which is pretty atrocious) and character development (again, pretty awful, with Madison from Heavy Rain being the poster-child for female protagonists who only serve to fix flaws in the male protagonist) onto the actual structure of his games, which by and large are not problematic.

          I guess I just don’t see QTEs as a problem when they are consistently the means by which the game is played.  Contrast that with God of War, which continually broke from a pretty deep and sophisticated combo system to give the player unexpected and annoying QTEs.  If you’re the kind of person who enjoys more pure input-driven games, like platformers or fighting games, then obviously the lack of response can be annoying in Cage’s games (ditto if your a gung-ho shooter and action/adventure aficionado).  But as a game genre unto themselves, I think Cage’s games largely succeed at creating a bit of editorial agency in the player, as they get to change bits and pieces of the story, but not the whole narrative.  Clearly, it’s not for everyone, but I’ve never really understood why these games bother people so much.

        • GaryX says:

          @ocelotfox:disqus I don’t mind QTE’s, generally speaking. They’re fine. I think a lot of the awfulness in Indigo Prophecy comes not from the way it plays (which is serviceable, at best), but from the writing and characters. In other video games, the interactive nature of the games allows story to take a back seat, but in Cage’s games the narrative is given such a priority (and is what Cage spends most of their PR money hyping up) that to have it be “pretty atrocious” and “pretty awful” is pretty damning of the game overall. I’m interested to know what you consider the actual structure of the game because, beyond those two elements, the QTE’s are all that’s left. If they were involved or deeper in any way, then yes, the games could have a sufficient structure onto which Cage can hang his Film 101 plots, but they fail to ever evolve. In Indigo Prophecy, I play a Simon Says game in order to play a guitar (kind of interesting!) and then, several hours later, I’m playing the same Simon Says game to Matrix-fight a Mayan guy in the fucking air (kill me!). 

          Again, this made more problematic by the fact that all Cage likes to do is talk up his stories and the kind of emotions and consequences they bring to the table. Cage makes it all about the story, and his stories suck. This is the guy Sony is putting on a stage during a concert unveiling to talk about how stories can be pushed further with technology when his stories are failing at the most fundamental of levels.

          Very few “types” of games bother me, and I consider myself open to any number of game experiences. QTE’s in something like God of War don’t bother me as much because they serve to augment the game mechanics and provide variety–though, there’s an argument to be made that they eventually went overboard with these–but in Cage’s game, they’re all that exist. This still wouldn’t be a problem if the storytelling and characters were up to par and delivered an experience that could overcome the rather rudimentary and repetitive mechanics that allow us to consider it “interactive,” but we can now contrast Cage’s games with something like The Walking Dead which has even less mechanics, much more simple QTE’s, and uses a stylized art style in lieu of a hyper-realistic, hyper technology focused approach but is tremendously more effective in every single regard except for most awkward sex scene in a videogame. 

          I don’t think the style is for everyone, but I’ve never understood how the guy gets any praise to begin with other than his “ideas” (at least, in a big picture sort of way) are arguably worthwhile and mesh well with the “video games as serious form of entertainment and art” narrative. In practice, though, he’s terrible.

        • ocelotfox says:

           I guess I just don’t have as much of a problem with Cage’s writing as most people.  While the last 1/3 of Indigo Prophecy is horrible (tonal inconsistency, the alien AI, the disappearance of Tyler, the best character in the game), and Heavy Rain has its share of problems (the Madison/Ethan romance, the hardline cop stereotype), I think that Cage has always shown flashes of good writing that could eventually result in a truly great cinematic gaming experience.  I’m hoping that Beyond: Two Souls is an evolution of his writing and characterization, but even if it isn’t, he is pushing forward an interesting genre of video games.  Besides, it’s not like his writing is really any worse than the other AAA titles (the GTA series is emblematic of solidly written dialogue with awful characterization) that the industry holds out as the standard.

          All told, without Heavy Rain‘s success, we may not have gotten The Walking Dead, one of those rare examples of cinematic storytelling in video games that eclipses the writing of a TV series.  While Cage may not be the best emblem for Sony to rally around, he is the most outspoken (and French, which to many executives probably equals auteur), and hopefully his success can serve as inspiration for other writers or directors in crafting a better narrative for this genre.

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

       At least he owned up to it.  More than most politicians would do.  Of course, of things he really should’ve owned up to, quoting a cartoon probably comes after a number of more serious allegations he should’ve dealt with first.

  2. The_Helmaroc_King says:

    The Gameological Society
    [S]hamelessly playing a game made for children.

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

       there was a quote about that from C.S. Lewis floating around here last week.  I think it was “Shamelessly playing a game made for children?  You’re damn right we are!”  That Lewis, always a way with words.

    • Merve says:

      Don’t you mean “shamelessly playing Dorra the Explorer back pack adventures”?

  3. beema says:

    I really wish David Cage would just DO what he clearly wants to be doing and try directing an actual film. It would be shitty and fail miserably, because he doesn’t have the chops to be a good filmmaker, but at least he wouldn’t be forcing his delusions on to a medium that they aren’t suited for.

    • Fluka says:

      Now, I’m normally a huge proponent of games which stretch the definition of the world “game” (I love you, Thirty Flights of Loving!).  But…urgh…not like this.  30FoL, Gone Home, Walking Dead all fundamentally use the mechanics and structure of games to tell their stories.  They grew organically out of that tradition, and don’t have a media-based inferiority complex attached to them.  David Cage, meanwhile, seems to operate under the assumption that games in their current format are fundamentally inferior to movies, and that their only salvation is to become more like movies.  It’s like people who long for the Citizen Kane of games, without realizing the implications of that statement.  Citizen Kane is justifiably famous because it is a profound achievement in movie-making, building on and revolutionizing the techniques of cinema.  Not of novel-making or theater-making.

      Besides which he is a terrible writer and his plots and characters all seem so icky.

      • beema says:

        That’s exactly the problem. He doesn’t seem to understand or appreciate what the medium of games are uniquely good at conveying, or how important player agency is on a fundamental level. He’s just bent on forcing film tropes on to a video game platform, regardless of if they make sense or make for an engaging game experience. There are several “auteurs” like this in the game industry, and I really wish they would sod off. They are very blatantly in denial about what they want and what their abilities are. They would like to be filmmakers, but part of them knows that they don’t have the talent for it, so they stick to games where they can excuse all their shortcomings on the medium (not enough technology!) or get a pass, because things like characterization and storytelling in video games are still mostly at a fledgling level of development. If they did actually make a film, they wouldn’t have these false barriers to hide behind. They would be held up to the harsh light of scrutiny that any other film is, and be lambasted for their terrible storytelling, terrible writing, shallow characters, and novice copycat visual techniques. 

      • Destroy Him My Robots says:

        What’s the big difference between Heavy Rain and The Walking Dead? Serious question, I haven’t really spent time with either, but always assumed the latter was inspired by the former.

        • Roswulf says:

           Now, I’ve not played Heavy Rain, but I think the short answer is that Walking Dead has better writing that leads to a higher level of engagement with the characters.

          If the player cares enough, the simple game play of “let A or B die” can be strikingly powerful.

        • Fluka says:

          Like @Roswulf:disqus and @CrabNaga:disqus say, I think it may just be a matter of Walking Dead actually having good writing and successfully incorporating its QTEs into the narrative in a natural way.  Come to think of it, I think a lot of the ire towards Cage comes not from the fact that he thinks “narrative + QTE = game”, but from the fact that congratulates himself for making this kind of game, while A) doing it clumsily and B) refusing to acknowledge that others are doing it too.

        • Girard says:

          I’ve (unfortunately) played Indigo Prophecy, but not Heavy Rain (My only present consoles are a Wii and PS2).
          Mechanically, Cage games and the Walking Dead games are both fairly similar – their mechanics primarily serve the narrative, which is emphasized and foregrounded. The main difference, as noted by others, is that the quality of the narrative in the Walking Dead games is much higher than the quality of the narratives Cage shits out.

        • GhaleonQ says:

          Let me dissent and say that there isn’t a difference.  I don’t think The Walking Dead created the framework for audience buy-in and there’s little mechanical diference, so (to me) the only difference between people rejecting the former for the latter is that they recognize the well-worn tropes the latter peddles.  Telltale, sadly, has not changed much.

        • Derek_Noakes says:

          I guess it’s a good thing I’ve never played Indigo Prophecy. I just heard that dude who made Heavy Rain was putting Ellen Page and Willem Defoe in an even better looking game and said “Take my money!” 

          These aren’t masterful narratives when compared to the best films of all time, but stacked against the best of what video games have to offer? I’d argue that both PS3 entries from Cage (HR more so than Beyond) have given video gamers some of the best narrative in games, and in Heavy Rain you can actually change the outcome a great deal based on your actions. 

          I seriously don’t get all the hate for Cage. I guess he makes some pretty outlandish, self-aggrandizing statements in interviews, but I’d rather just let the games he makes speak for themselves, and they do. I think the central questions in both (How far would you go to save someone you love in HR, and how far would you go to see them one last time in Beyond), are both very thought provoking premises.

          It kind of seems like Indigo Prophecy was fairly weak and a whole generation of gamers just wrote the dude off, from what I can tell.

      • SamPlays says:

        Perhaps I’m being a johnny boy on this topic but I think the negative reactions to Heavy Rain are a tad overwrought. By and large, I thought Heavy Rain was a fairly successful experiment. We all agree that the writing is lacking but that’s not really a reason to hate the game (or David Cage); don’t forget that we also agree that the writing in ANY video game is pretty much sub-par by modest literary or storytelling standards. On a narrative level, one of Heavy Rain’s more interesting assets is the absence of a “game over” screen – regardless of what you do, for better or worse, the narrative keeps moving forward. Writing and narrative issues aside, I enjoyed the novelty gameplay mechanic, which effectively expanded the application of QTEs. Yes, QTEs are seemingly everywhere but Heavy Rain introduced a wider array of input rather than depending on variations of “tap X repeatedly”; it also provided relatively effective use of the Sixaxis controller by integrating motion control and the use of analog sticks (both of which were reliable 95 percent of the time). [*NOT REALLY A SPOILER* The home/apartment invasion sequence was an effective use of this mechanic, which made the prolonged threat even more thrilling, IMO.] If you separate the core mechanics of Heavy Rain from its narrative aspirations, it’s basically a slightly more complex version of The Walking Dead, which is almost entirely made up of dialogue trees, forced decision-making and simple QTEs. Regardless of your opinion of David Cage, who seems to be too clever by half no matter how you cut it, I think Heavy Rain was a solid gaming experience that succeeded mostly by being different from anything else at the time. 

        • CrabNaga says:

          I disagree with your assessment. You can’t brush off the fact that the story sucked and was riddled with plot holes and poor characterization by stating that other games have bad stories too. Other games have actual gameplay to speak of. The reason people give other games a pass is because the story is auxiliary to making something that’s fun to PLAY. And the reason The Walking Dead is good and Heavy Rain is bad is because The Walking Dead has a cohesive narrative with interesting scenarios and characters. Heavy Rain has none of these things; it’s just a bloated mess with QTEs strapped on. David Cage has been trying to make games more like movies, and that brings with it the requirement that they also treat their stories (and players, by proxy) with respect.

        • SamPlays says:

          @CrabNaga:disqus I’m not brushing off the story of Heavy Rain. Rather, I’m separating the issues of narrative and gameplay. My argument would be that good stories can elevate the experience of playing a video game but its not fundamental or requisite to how people can enjoy video games. I’m not saying that Heavy Rain shouldn’t be criticized due to its bad writing but I do think it’s a weak criticism when it applies to every other game to varying degrees. My point was that if you can place some distance between David Cage’s flights of (confusing) fancy and the actual experience offered by Heavy Rain, the gameplay is solid. I never had any issues with the act of playing the game; more so, I often enjoyed playing the game, though I do suggest this is more for its novelty factor. As a matter of opinion, the gameplay worked for me; it was an interesting approach that paid off for those who bought into the premise of HOW to play the game (not necessarily WHAT the game was about). I realize people take away different things from their interaction with video games but if I’m looking for enriching narrative experiences with great stories and interesting characters, I generally look to TV, books and movies. The fact that Heavy Rain fails to live up to its creator’s hype shouldn’t undermine the fact that it has well-implemented game mechanics (but not a good story).

      • dreadguacamole says:

        Oh, man. Do I really need to defend Heavy Rain? Though I think the game is shit and Cage is a hack, some of the ideas and their actual implementation in Heavy Rain are very, very cool. The fact that anyone can die at any moment and the game just shrugs and keeps on going, tailoring the story as it goes along, is great. It’s a game that’s perfectly happy to let you miss more than a third of the content even on a perfect playthrough, a position I respect a lot these days. Hell, I got the best ending from choosing at random between three or four options; had I gotten it wrong, the game would have had its climax without its ostensible protagonist. That’s both awesome and unique.And it gets a lot of little things right, too, like having the penalty for failure in QTEs being banal things like the FBI agent muddying his immaculate suit. The fact that I’m not looking forward to Two Souls in the least says a *lot* about how much I can’t stand his plotting and storytelling.

         And Farenheit / Indigo Prophecy is one of the only games I’d consider to be so bad it’s good.

        • Derek_Noakes says:

          You made the right choice in passing on Beyond, then. *MAJOR SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT*I really enjoyed it, but most of the player’s ability to genuinely impact the story has been removed. All of the decision making boils down to “Does this character have an eyepatch or not?” or *SPOILERS* “Does Willem Defoe kill himself or do you choke him out with Aiden?”, and what trophy you get for doing each. 

          The ending isn’t set in stone determined on how you went through your game, it turns in to a literal Choose Your Own adventure. Although maybe I’m missing something, because Cage mentioned 23 endings, and by my count there are 5. Unless he thinks “Ryan has an eyepatch/doesn’t have an eyepatch” bumps that number to 10. 

    • Unexpected Dave says:

      It’s a shame he never followed through with some of the promising ideas he had in his games. Indigo Prophecy teases the player with the possibility that their actions will have consequences. Then a half-time twist makes everything moot, and it all goes to shit.

      • dreadguacamole says:

         Yeah, that’s a huge shame. That promise only lasted for the first couple of scenes.
         It was, of course, one of the main things hyped to hell and back before the game was released.

  4. caspiancomic says:

    Oh God am I going to buy Pokemon? Am I going to do it? I’ve got this shiny new 3DS here and everything. I skipped out on Black 2/White 2 because the original Black/White  didn’t really blow my hair back, but X and Y look like they might actually be the closest thing to a step forward the series has ever taken. The last several times I’ve picked up a new Pokemon I’ve enjoyed it enough for a couple of weeks but never really felt that lasting appeal, but every time a new one is on the horizon I get so hyped again. Pokemooon! Why do you do this to meeee!?

    Oh God I think I’m probably going to do it.

    • Matt Gerardi says:

      I’m having a nearly identical reaction. I can’t believe I’m even considering it. But…I’m strongly considering it. 

    • GaryX says:

      I’m strongly considering buying a 3DS in large part because Pokemon, and the last one I ever owned was Silver.

      Though, it’s less JUST because of Pokemon and more because there are now all these fucking awesome 3DS and DS games I’ve never played.

      • ocelotfox says:

         I just bought a 3DS, and I’ve spent the last week engrossed in Fire Emblem: Awakening.  Add in the deep back catalog, and it’s definitely worth taking the leap and buying it.

        • GaryX says:

          Yeah, that’s like my number 2 most wanted purchase, and Super Mario 3D land is at number 3.

          Gah, I’m so gonna cave.

      • DrZaloski says:

        My exact feelings right now. I’m a tad short on cash and want to wait maybe for another price drop for the XL and nab that, but goddamn is it getting hard. Fire Emblem was hard enough, especially after being told by a friend that it is “literally the bet thing ever” (although he recently said the exact same thing about Rayman), and now Pokemon? And a really fresh, updated, new Pokemon? Also Phoenix Wright is coming up, with it’s edgy M rating? This is getting really, really hard.

        • GaryX says:

          Let’s start a support club where we inevitably enable one another!

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          This is pretty much the boat I’m in at the moment. It’s my birthday later this month though so I have an excuse to splurge. There are so many cool games on the thing! 

          I’ll definitely be hitting up everyone on here for friend codes. I think the thing I want to do the most with it is Swapnote, which is like pictochat but online and with 3D! Someone made a simple RPG system to be played over it! FUCKING AWESOME!

          So yeah, anyone want to DM that for me?

      • Girard says:

        Did you not have a DS? Oh, dude there is a fuck-ton you’ve been missing out on. Go into the hospital and get something removed so you can have a nice, long recovery time for your inevitable giant backlog.

        • GaryX says:

          Yeah, I worry that no one will see me again if I ever get one.

        • Girard says:

          [Suppresses urge to make 20-page-long list of DS games @GaryX:disqus  needs to play RIGHT NOW. Goes and teaches some kindergarteners about the plasticity of geometric shapes instead…]

      • GhaleonQ says:

        I would have stopped being a gamer, I think, were it not for the DS (the PSP and PC can only go so far).  You should get on that.

    • I was tricked into both Diamond/Pearl and Black/White. This time I’m going to sit it out or wait until everyone’s tired of it. (Said exactly four days before freaking out and running to the nearest GameStop shouting “WHERE DO YOU KEEP THE POKÉMONS?!” whilst spraying coffee everywhere through my pores. No idea how that happens as I don’t even drink coffee. Such is the effect of Pokémon.)

    • Citric says:

      Every time I play Pokemon I start with all sorts of dreams and excitement, play for a few hours, and then kind of stop, usually right before some kind of tower.

      I haven’t played one since Diamond and Pearl though.

      • Unexpected Dave says:

        That’s the experience I had for Pokémon’s first decade, but I really got into SoulSilver.

    • Girard says:

      People seem to be having lots of weird and strong emotions about this. I’m kind of glad I’m just a hair too old to have gotten in on the ground floor of the Poke-phenomenon…

    • GhaleonQ says:

      If the rock-solid entries didn’t get you, maybe this weirdo one will?  I think it will be worse, but it’s definitely different, and the connection aspect has never been more heightened.

      PLUS I WANNA TRAED POKEMANZ WIT U

  5. DrFlimFlam says:

    As I watch cartoons with my son, I come to them with a more critical eye than as a child, where I know hot laser fire never killed anyone but accepted it. I’m especially interested in Pokemon and TMNT, which both have such violent potential but always frame it in interesting ways. TMNT also loves ROBOTS, because then Leonardo can cut things without making jaws drop and Raphael can use his sais for more than blocking swords.

    Pokemon likes to treat most of the elemental attacks, no matter how powerful and/or devastating (I had a Kyogre once), as mere flesh wounds at most, which I guess works.

    My only real issue is how much people use this fairly intelligent creatures as a proxy for their own violence. Entire wars seem to be fought with Pokemon doing all the dirty work.

    • GaryX says:

      Pokemon really could go to some dark places thematically if it ever wanted to, but I’d be too worried it’d just pull a cliched dark and gritty thing instead (though, GameFreak and Nintendo would have to implode for something like that to even happen). I did see some of that Pokemon Noir comic that was floating around and thought it, at least, had some interesting ideas. Though, it’s hard to tell how maturely it handled them.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        You can probably use Advance Wars Days of Ruin as an example of Nintendo going “dark.”

        It’s also a cautionary tale.

        • GaryX says:

          Oh, absolutely. Just to note, though, that I think exploring more mature territory with Pokemon is different from the typical “dark” mode of storytelling.

          Man, that was a misstep.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          Days of Ruin is solid as hell. The storyline is awful, but that game is so fucking good. It get’s a lot of flak for the “grimdark” plot, but it wasn’t that awful, about on par with the other advance wars in terms of having lame writing. 

          Days of Ruin was better than Dual Strike, is what I’m saying.

    • Unexpected Dave says:

      At least the villainous humans seem to suffer more than the Pokémon.

    • Entire wars seem to be fought with Pokemon doing all the dirty work.

      That game was called Pokémon Conquest and it was awesome.

    • EmperorNortonI says:

      I watched a lot of the early Pokemon series, and was totally taken in by its incredibly optimistic and free-spirited ethos.  Just think about it – this is a world where children are not only allowed, but encouraged, to spend several years of their life wandering around in the wilderness.  Said children roam the countryside, meet nice people everywhere, and commune with THE NATURE on a daily basis.  Every animal they meet is a potential friend and companion.  It’s such a charming idea.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        We actually own the entire first “season” of the show, the “Indigo League” run, and it’s a real treat.

  6. snazzlenuts says:

    Why is David Cage releasing a new game on PS3?  I thought it lacked the proper processing speed to thoroughly display emotion.

  7. Gougagna says:

    Why are people pretending to be ashamed to play Pokemon?  It’s fun and it has endless collectibles.  Think of it as Saints Row 4 with less sex (or not, every breed Pokemon?) and less swearing.

    • SamPlays says:

      Given the title of this Pokemon (X&Y), it might have more sex or possibly more Coldplay.

    • DrZaloski says:

      I always feel innately wrong when using Ditto. There’s something just messed up about it. How is he forming the correct DNA in the sperm or eggs of each genitalia he’s mimicking, while avoiding any and all birth defects?

      Also, according to the cartoon, can’t he mimic humans (albeit with the weird Ditto face)? I can only assume he could breed with humans, if that really is the case.

      Pokemon is in a dark, dark world.

      • Wolvertooth says:

        Human/Ditto breeding? That’s where Nurse Joys and Officer Jennys come from! Good thing for humanity they’re sterile polyploids.

  8. Drinking_with_Skeletons says:

    I used to be a high school teacher in a very rural, Southern county.  One day I was asked to fill in for one of the “alternate” classes during my planning period while the teacher ran a family errand.  She had the kids writing essays about the Michael Vicks dogfighting scandal, as it was topical at the time.

    One of the kids started talking about how it was good that dogfighting was illegal, and that was why he only participated in cockfighting, because the local proprietor took good care of his birds.  One of the other students revealed to him that cockfighting is also illegal.

    I no longer teach.

    • snazzlenuts says:

      ‘Merica!

      • GaryX says:

        Unfortunately, I don’t think America can take the sole blame on culturally supporting animal fighting.

        • Drinking_with_Skeletons says:

          I once saw, on TV, a crowd of Spaniards throw a donkey off of a roof. 

        • SamPlays says:

          @Drinking_with_Skeletons:disqus My wife and I were horrified to learn that old or disable donkeys in Santorini, Greece, were “retired” by pushing them off a boat into the sea. While we were there, we had the opportunity to befriend a few of the local community dogs (i.e., they don’t have a proper owner but people take care of them), one of which was half-covered in thick scar tissue. Apparently one of the local assholes thought it was okay to dump hot oil on the poor thing.

        • snazzlenuts says:

          I was being regionally specific to the comment. I know other countries can be awful as SamPlays and Drinking_with_Skeletons displayed. Horrible stories.

        • Drinking_with_Skeletons says:

           @snazzlenuts:disqus One of the weird things, as I mentioned, was that the kid was firmly against animal mistreatment.  I don’t know what kind of cockfights he attended, but he seemed to think the animals were well-cared-for. 

        • Effigy_Power says:

          All horrid, but then not that horrid when one follows the journey of a cow from birth to abattoir. Or a chicken. Or a pig.
          I still eat all of that, but yeah, as a species cruelty towards animals is sort of our thing.

        • Citric says:

          @Effigy_Power:disqus As someone who grew up on a farm, cows deserve everything they get.

  9. ferrarimanf355 says:

    Just for the record, the F1 cars from Rush are going to be in Firza Motorsport 5.

  10. Citric says:

    Fight the real enemy.

    *Tears up picture of Pikachu*

  11. His_Space_Holiness says:

    I think we just watched Pikachu’s supervillain speech. “Hello everybody! I have some big news to share with the whole world: ELECTRIC DEATH! AH HAHAHAHAHAHA!” I mean, the guys just set off a massive EMP wave and shot lightning bolts at the entire globe, you all saw it! That’s some Doctor Doom shit right there.

  12. Drinking_with_Skeletons says:

    Speaking of monsters, are we going to get any Halloween-themed features this month?  I’d like to nominate two at-least-somewhat-obscure games for discussion:

    1) Haunting (Starring Polterguy)

    2)  Ghost Master

  13. Fluka says:

    In my usual “games out many weeks from now” post, there’s a new trailer out for Blendo Games’ Quadrilateral Cowboy!  It has all the hacking, syntax, multilinear subspace coprocessors, and instant ramen that you’d ever want in a game!  And just enough polygons!  

  14. Jason R. says:

    You guys may get served with a small claims suit from the Gamestop by my house.  They’re going to be out a little money now that I’ll be playing Al Unser’s Jr.’s Turbo Racing from now until Christmas.

  15. Marco Beltran says:

    Have they mentioned anything about being able to have multiple save files in Pokemon?

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      Not that I’m aware of. I think there’s some stupid workaround if you buy the download version where you can back up your file or something but that sounds clunky as fuck to the point where it’s not even worth it.

  16. No “Sprout this Week” thread? But how am I going to tell @httplovecraft:disqus , @SonjaMinotaur, or @drflimflam:disqus that I’m buying at 430 tonight?