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Childishly "Adult"

This is a review crossposted from review blog Dragon Quill. The original article can be found here.

You know that fanfic that newbie barely teenage boys have, the one with the new region and new pokemon but this time it’s got ALCOHOL and SEX REFERENCES and ZANY unlike those squares at Nintendo? It’s that. Like, beat by beat. If that’s you? Well, you’ll love this.

Pokemon RMN is a RPGmaker clone of Pokemon, with a brand-new region and completely new set of pokemon. The brand-new region is basically Hoenn. The new set of pokemon are somewhat rough and rather similar to existing ones. The game itself has been coded impressively close to the official Pokemon games and plays exactly the same…except it's just barely choppy/laggy enough to be distracting and make repetitive gameplay a chore. I never realized how important it was to me that the games run smoothly through repeated battles, and like any Pokemon game, it's mostly just battling. Also, for some reason cancel and start menu are the same button and there’s no way to skip through dialogue. And my one true love, flavor text? Exists for the trash cans and only the trash cans, and often in service of mentioning something gross or edgy.



Text which often has a mistake or two in it, as well. There’s errors all through this.

(Also, the evolution animation is horrible – the sprite spins in a circle really fast. Look, what’s wrong with just flipping back and forth? I realize this is really petty but it’s going through more effort to make something look so much worse!)

The game opens asking if you’re a boy, girl, or Namekian – which, for those of you who jumped at the option of not picking boy or girl, just results in being told to stop screwing around. You then get to pick an adjective: cool, tough, calm, quirky. This determines your look, and has similar problems with female trainers as the standard games. Want to be quirky, female, and not playing as the pantyflash fairy your whole journey?



Sorry, the technology isn’t here yet.

If you want to be female and wearing functional pants, your only option is calm, with the cool sprite particularly infuriating me by being almost decent but having those horrible just-below-the-knee jeans. You’re then given a palette swap option which includes skin color changes (at least in the case of the cool girl, the tough boy was just picking how intensely white your skin is and I don’t care enough to go through to check all permutations), and you can’t do any mixing and matching. Pink and cool? Blonde white girl. Green and cool? Slightly darker blonde white girl. Blue and cool? Dark-skinned redhead! I really don’t understand why it was impossible to let people change the color of things separately.

Once you pick you go to your house where your mom explains emphatically how she would never do any sort of pokemon journey and it’s only our great trainer dad’s genes that make us have any interest in doing the thing the setting revolves around, followed by going out to see the male professor and male assistant in trouble from a wild pokemon (followed by them identifying us as related to our dad who’s so important – like I said, basically Hoenn. Just even more so.), then the antagonist, a crazy male professor, shows up and steals only one of the three starters for some reason before running off to hop in a flying saucer. And half the characters have horrible phonetic accents. Later, our other rival, a middle-aged man appears. Throughout this, there’s lots of references to alcohol because that’s so adult and mature, with multiple characters whose personality trait is “is drunk”.


Look at how grown up this game is!

The only meaningful female presence is the first gym…where the gym leaders spend their time gushing about how I have a special destiny and I’m so great. Then there’s a girl ranting about how the card game minigame is too complex for her and only nerds play it. She also talks in third person and is an idiot, and she’s HILARIOUSLY assuming the evil villain’s robots are going to molest her.



Girls thinking people are perverts and crying wolf out of pure stupidity is obviously the best joke imaginable, so much that it goes on line after line after line. The only positive thing is that the designer didn’t bother to change her dialogue (yet?) so if you play as a girl, she still hits on you and kisses you after you save her, all the while talking about you in terms that make it so very clear this isn’t designed to be inclusive but is assuming she girl, you boy. There’s a girl in the first cave (Noob Cave because seriously, beat by beat) who also brings up same-sex stuff, but it’s only so the girl in question can go on at length about how gross the idea is and how she wants my character to leave her alone because she only likes boys. If you play as a boy, in contrast, she hits on you. And there’s a third female character who also hits on you regardless of gender…and do I even need to add that no male characters hit on you regardless that I saw? You could probably guess. Because that might bug male players.

The second gym introduces what I thought I wanted, puzzles that are an actual challenge…except actually they’re bad reaction time minigames where you just keep doing it until you get it right with no consequences for failure but your own rising boredom, and adding insult to injury, we’re told this twitchy reaction time game is somehow a meditation minigame. While flailing around on the final one before the gym leader, somehow the game decided it wasn’t going to open my start menu any longer so I couldn’t save and I decided I was done with it.

If you really love new pokemon and type combos, the game might be worth a play just for that, but they’re much more miss than hit to me, and looking at the current spritesheet most of the ones I didn’t get far enough to see look even worse. Also, for anyone annoyed they pretty much can only play as a white person, it’s okay because there is black representation: a black pokemon you can capture.



Maybe it’s just an unfortunate resemblance…?



Nope.



It’s okay, though, it’s not racist because grinning blackface caricatures who are simple, carefree creatures who only care about their primitive stomp-growl music is a compliment.

Posts

author=Seiromem
author=argh
I suppose I should have seen this coming when the Jazz Singer pokemon was unveiled.
Because a Jazz Singer Pokemon could only ever be racist, right?
Oh, wait, if it had been a White Jazz Singer Pokemon, would you not have thought so?

Yes, stereotypes are always at least... shall we say questionable. It's demeaning to reduce a group of people to a single trait, especially since that single trait is so often negative. Afropup, in particular, evokes imagery that was historically used to mock black people and compare them to animals, so, yes, I think it's reasonable for people to be offended by that. The fact that they're literally animals you catch and own just compounds the awkwardness further.
Blobofgoo
Dragons are waifus too ;-;
2751
author=Miracle
If anyone can handle criticism fairly and graciously , it's Ratty. However I'd like to know why the reviewer focuses entirely on minor gripes instead of looking at the whole picture. Yes the game has a few typos; Yes, i suppose tumblrkin could percieve something as sexist/racist if they looked really hard... But c'mon, you're making this game sound like Conker's Bad Fur Day. There are many positive features that have been completely overlooked in favor of "i don't like the way this sprite looks" or "there's not a special message when i check the bookshelf"


This is the vibe I got too. The review seems pretty picky and I can't see how minor complaints brought up become a 1/5. It's a demo for one after all. I can immediately see they didn't even bother installing the fonts so I'm skeptical that they rushed other aspects as well. He admitted to not going through all of the trainer permutations deswpite complaining about them. Additionally, the reviewer seems to be comparing the game to canon pokemon rather than reviewing it as a standalone game. And also comparing it to an idealized view of pokemon. Have you seen some of the descriptions for actual pokemon? Some are incredibly morbid. He also fusses about limitations of the editor rather than the game. Theres a reason theres only 3 palette swap choices and 4 options + 2 genders. You should be appreciative you have any customization at all. Lagginess is completely inseperable of the engine, another thing he complains about.

I thought the "silent rule" for demo reviews was to give it a 0 star review, so that it wouldn't affect the overall score of the finished product? Can we at least have a quality check of some sort? Have some credible reviewers check it and see if their reviews are even close to a 1? Like how essay grading works (If the scores are more than one apart it gets rescored).

Overall the review looks like someone that went into the game thinking it was going to be awful and tried to find everything he could complain about. We don't even know how far he got in the game. He doesn't adress the core aspects of the game (Music, Story, Gameplay, etc.)

It seems what he played was a text-based adventure boasting Sexism and Racism, not Pokemon RMN Version.
Seiromem
I would have more makerscore If I did things.
5640
Yes yes, stereotypes can be demeaning, I get that. They aren't always and can be positive in the at least the vaguest of a sense. This video explains it better than I can:



The blackface is completely unintentional, and Ratty said that if it became an issue (which it has) then he'd edit the sprite to not resemble it at all. So no, I'm not saying you can't be offended by something, but only if the thing you're offended by is actually there, so I'd appreciate you
author=argh
not instantly assume the worst of people, please?
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18257
Everybody be cool, please. I think it's obvious nobody was trying to be racist here but it can still be very helpful to get outside perspectives on what may be offensive or not.
They aren't always and can be positive in the at least the vaguest of a sense.

Perhaps, but that's not your call to make. As Solitayre said, it's important to get outside perspectives from the people actually affected by this. Even if you're not trying to be racist, it's still possible to be unintentionally hurtful. Someone hurt by ignorance rather than malice still has a perspective worth considering.
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18257
author=Miracle
@ Liberty : I'd like to ask your opinion on who should be allowed to review the game. I've provided some minor graphical work and was wondering if contributors are allowed to review. Thanks :)

author=Liberty
I think as long as you make it clear that you provided stuff and not give it an actual score, that should be fine, but ultimately it's up to Solitayre and I think he ruled that's its fine as long as you weren't a huge factor in creating the game.

I'd PM him about it first, just to find out. >.<)b


You're listed as a developer, which means you may not review this game. Sorry!
Seiromem, as much as I love Afropup because it's silly and quirky, there's legitimate merit in the analysis of the reviewer for that particular pokemon. Likening african americans to animals has been a terrible justification of racism in the past, and it's difficult to honestly say "No, this pokemon is not based on stereoptypes of African Americans." because of the afro, the dark skin and african links to this type of music. Admittedly, the first form looks a little like black face.

Not that I made any of these connections whatsoever bc tbh he's brown and green because he's a grass type and the grinning is a coincidence which is obvious because no one in their right mind would incorporate black face into a pokemon design. It also looks very very distant from black face which exaggerates black facial features while this one doesn't really do that whatsoever. Afros are also connected to disco in general - not necessarily african americans. Idk, it seems like they're stretching it just a little bit even if I see where they're coming from.

It's pretty clear what the intention was considering the dev's efforts to include dark-skinned protagonists, and bisexual Leanne, and interesting subject material, and non-sexualized females protagonists...

That said, ratty is willing to edit the pokemon, so it is not necessary for this particular debate to continue. The analysis was certainly inisghtful however on how unintentionally stereotyping can be harmful/occur.
Seiromem
I would have more makerscore If I did things.
5640
Yes yes, I understand, I don't control the stereotypes, I don't control what people think, I don't control jack shit in the world, etc.
I'm not saying you're wrong, or that your perspective doesn't matter and that it's not helpful.
I'm saying you shouldn't get so hung up on a misunderstanding, or even if it's completely intentional, you shouldn't lose your head(and your opinion of a game) and drip venom on one aspect of a game. That one thing shouldn't ruin your whole experience; it's pointless to allow such a thing to happen; It's worthless to you and not worth your precious time getting heated over. Can you be mad? Sure, it's harmful not to get angry at something that angers you and express that anger in this manner (The review was actually pretty well articulated with little out-right flaming), but to have that one aspect be one of your main points on why a game should get a 1 star score? To let that thing drive you absolutely crazy? That's close-minded.

EDIT: @Gourd
Yes, the analysis is legitimate even if it's a bit of a stretch, I should have made it clear I understood that from the get-go.
Anyways, this argument will eventually sum up to a sprite change for Afropup line and maybe a re-evaluation of the characters, and that's about it. Of course this is me assuming what Ratty will do with this info.
author=Seiromem
Yes yes, I understand, I don't control the stereotypes, I don't control what people think, I don't control jack shit in the world, etc.
I'm not saying you're wrong, or that your perspective doesn't matter and that it's not helpful.
I'm saying you shouldn't get so hung up on a misunderstanding, or even if it's completely intentional, you shouldn't lose your head(and your opinion of a game) and drip venom on one aspect of a game. That one thing shouldn't ruin your whole experience; it's pointless to allow such a thing to happen; It's worthless to you and not worth your precious time getting heated over. Can you be mad? Sure, it's harmful not to get angry at something that angers you and express that anger in this manner (The review was actually pretty well articulated with little out-right flaming, but to have that one aspect be one of your main points on why a game should get a 1 star score? To let that thing drive you absolutely crazy? That's close-minded.


If you're reading an otherwise nice story that constantly reminds you that it considers you subhuman garbage and constantly reminds you that real society treats you like subhuman garbage, I do think that could ruin your whole experience regardless of the work's other merits. People tend to play games for escapism, and being reminded of the hurtful stereotypes experienced in the real world is... kind of the opposite of that.
On the other hand, if it had been any other colour than brown, would people then be screaming white-washing and appropriation of culture? (Probably. People like to complain and make mountains out of molehills. If no-one is being insulted, then no-one is happy.)

It's a hard line to draw conclusively in the sand and honestly, who is to say that the pokemon wasn't created by a black person who wanted a disco-dancing pup? I don't know what race or gender the creator was but just assuming it was done to be aimed racially against a people is kinda a big assumption.

Remember that the community as a whole created the pokemon (they even drew up the designs) and that includes people from all over the world. We're not all Whitey Sexism McRacist here on RMN. :/

That said, chill everyone - if you have a different opinion than this review (which, argh, was toned down a little from his original one which is on his site and is much more inflammatory and drama-inducing so yes, it was made for the sake of drama) make one yourself and refute that way.
Yeah it can be difficult to walk that line. I wonder if it's possible to put an afro on a pokemon at all without cries of racism or culture appropriation? It should be. Afros are cool. I want an afro pokemon pls.
I wonder if it's possible to put an afro on a pokemon at all without cries of racism? It should be. Afros are cool. I want an afro pokemon pls.


Afros are cool, but unfortunately they are overwhelmingly associated with black culture and used as cultural shorthand for blackness in characters, so it would be pretty difficult to dissociate the two. I suppose that's why these sorts of conversations are useful!

author=Liberty
On the other hand, if it had been any other colour than brown, would people then be screaming white-washing and appropriation of culture? (Probably. People like to complain and make mountains out of molehills).


Maybe, maybe not. But I still think that opinions like that are worth considering, instead of being dismissed on the grounds they'd never be satisfied. Social issues are complicated and there may not be an answer that satisfies everyone, but it's still worth weighing the options.

author=Liberty
which, argh, was toned down a little from his original one which is on his site and is much more inflammatory and drama-inducing so yes, it was made for the sake of drama


...So she purposefully toned the review down from the version on her personal blog when publishing it for a larger audience? That seems like the opposite of drama-inducing. :p
After being told to, yes.

Seiromem
I would have more makerscore If I did things.
5640
author=argh
If you're reading an otherwise nice story that constantly reminds you that it considers you subhuman garbage and constantly reminds you that real society treats you like subhuman garbage, I do think that could ruin your whole experience regardless of the work's other merits. People tend to play games for escapism, and being reminded of the hurtful stereotypes experienced in the real world is... kind of the opposite of that.

Once again, yes yes, racism hurts, words hurt, actions hurt, I get that.
Don't let it destroy you.
Pain is temporary.
Is it considered less racist if the creator of the pokemon was black? >.< Because, uh, that doesn't seem quite right to me if so.

Ideally, I'd want all races to create whatsoever regardless of race. I understand context is important for these things, but it seems super... segregated? This race can make this and this race can make this and remember kids, never EVER cross over into the other race's artistic territory because your birth makes you so much different from them. (Even though it doesn't really)

And what are the rules for cultural appropriation. Do you have access to one's cultural ideas due to how you born or what you were born as? Is a Caucasian that "culturally appropriates" actually doing that if they were raised that way? And if they're not, what is the point of making this distinction anyway?

(I've never really understood cultural appropriation if it isn't obvious. XD I promise my questions are innocent.)
Seiromem
Once again, yes yes, racism hurts, words hurt, actions hurt, I get that.
Don't let it destroy you.
Pain is temporary.


This isn't easy to say, nor is it or should it be a blanket statement about emotional issues.

Games and other media are designed to get you invested. If you become invested in a piece of fiction and something hurtful happens, regardless of how much you like it before or after that it'll have an effect on you, and that effect isn't always easy to just shrug off. I know because I've been there.

I just wanted to say that. I'm rather tired of "don't let it get to you/learn to take a joke" being spouted in these situations, because it's the wrong way to look at things. Not only does it discredit the work, it discredits the audience. It cheapens everything for the sake of an excuse to not think.

Anyways I didn't play much PRMN cause it bored me rather quickly, but if the things mentioned in this review are indeed in the game then I'm sort of glad I didn't continue, cause I would have been pretty lamed out by it.
After reading her personal blog, i can confidently say that this review is 100% tumblr-worthy and nothing but a hate-fest. Sure, the game is somewhat flawed, but I love the effort that Ratty and the rest of the community has poured into this project and how it brought the community closer together throughout the years. If Farla doesn't like it, fine.

If i could write a counter-review, I would. Ratty, I hope you can manage to glean something useful from this 'review' to better your game, because i sure can't.
Seiromem
I would have more makerscore If I did things.
5640
'Temporary' is time-related, and time is relative to everybody.
I'm not saying to just "Not let it get to you" or that this is even a joke at all.
Don't let it destroy you.

I've been there before.
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18257
I don't think this review was intended to cause drama and I think it makes points that are entirely valid, but I did ask for it to be revised before I accepted it. For those interested, the original version is linked at the top of the review.

If people can't chill out this is going to get locked.
Ratty524
The 524 is for 524 Stone Crabs
12896
I'm half-black, and I never saw Afropup, in all of its iterations (the current design is actually altered a bit from Nerdybastard's original concept art, but the same ideas were still there), to be offensive. Afros, and black hair in general is something that I think every African-American should appreciate despite the cultural opposition towards just about anything African in our society. In that regard, I adored the cultural nod the Afropup line portrayed and okay-ed it for this project.

I could be wrong, but the negative stereotypes surrounding afros and the "funk" culture prevalent in the '70s were more than likely concocted by bigots after African Americans took part in it, in an attempt to dismantle and ridicule their culture. This was a time where there was a strong cultural movement among African Americans to embrace their identity.

As others have mentioned, I'm open to making adjustments, but right now I feel like a lot of these call-outs on a racist portrayal are taken way out of context.