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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

Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
7325
author=zDS
When I was a kid, and it was not that long ago, when I saw cartoon characters get drunk, it was called comedy, not something disturbing.

Speak for yourself. I was very much of the "Mommy, I'm scared. Why is so-and-so acting strange now?" Keep that firewater away from me.
If I may add my log to the bonfire... I think the biggest issue with the Afropup line is the connection to animals. Black people have a long history of being dehumanized and compared to animals, so using a black caricature as the basis for an animal is awkward in ways that the Ralts or Gothita lines aren't. If you want to include a jazz singer, a human character might be a wiser choice.

Edit: For the record, I don't mean to single out the designer here. I dislike Scraggy and Scrafty for the same reasons, and they're far more offensive stereotypes.
@argh Yeah, I think that's the biggest issue with it although considering the intention I don't know if it's fair to say it was based on a black caricature all. The resemblance is there though, so if any editing of Afropup was necessary we could always lighten its skin to suggest "this is not an african", but then that's kind of admitting it was intended to be a human of any kind, and in all honesty, it's not okay to compare any human being to an animal based on race. Which we didn't do in the first place...? >.< I'm going in circles here help

Edit: We could scrap Afropup but I love the little guy, and it seems like such a waste over something it wasn't intended to be.
halibabica
RMN's Official Reviewmonger
14518
@Ratty: yes, Pokemon is closer to the real world than other, more fantastic settings. That doesn't invalidate my argument. The fact remains that some kinds of subject matter don't belong here, up-front or otherwise. My point about genre is this: genre doesn't dictate content, but rather content dictates genre. When you put in stuff of this nature, it changes the genre, and that genre doesn't match what the game portrays itself as. That's the problem. You can make Pokemon: College Humor version if you want, but don't be surprised if more people call you out for it.
Uh... Pokemon isn't a genre. If anything the genre is rpg and there's plenty of goddamn rpgs out there that have adult themes in them without being called "college edition".

It's fine for it to delve into darker, sillier, more mature territory because it's based on RMN and hey - RMN ain't for kids. Just having it called the RMN version is enough to point out 'not a kiddie game' anyway.

Now can we please stop with the drama quest and go write your own goddamn reviews please.
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18257
I heard someone say something recently about comedy that I really agree with. In comedy, nothing should be off-limits, but you need to know the room.

Is this comedy (and this game) targeted at an RMN audience or a general Poke'mon audience? Which jokes work for who?
I think there's also a matter of expectations. When you label something as Pokemon, I do expect something in the vein of the original's tone unless you say otherwise, and as far as I recall there was nothing in the promotional media leading up to the release to imply the game would include this type of middle school humor. Being more up-front about the game, like explicitly saying "Do you like Pokemon but wish it was more SERIOUS and had REAL HUMOR you could relate to?!?!?" somewhere in the blurb, would be helpful here. Even in a freeware game, it's nice to give the audience an idea of what they're going to get in advance.
author=Liberty
Just having it called the RMN version is enough to point out 'not a kiddie game' anyway.

I wouldn't be so sure, to be honest. Outsiders and newcomers wouldn't know what "RMN version" really encompasses, even if they know it's RMN-exclusive.

And argh pretty much spoke my mind. This is, after all, a fan-game, so unless there's a specific description that states the difference between this version and the regular version, people are bound to expect this fan-game to have much of the same traits that make Pokemon Pokemon.

EDIT: Hate to break it to you, halibabica, but RPG is a video game genre:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Role-playing_video_game
https://www.techopedia.com/definition/27052/role-playing-game-rpg
halibabica
RMN's Official Reviewmonger
14518
'RPG' isn't a genre either, Liberty. It's a style of game (which is technically a genre, but not in the context I'm using). I'm not trying to raise drama here. You can't say I'm wrong because I'm not arguing with opinion. The only thing up for debate is whether the game should be changed or not. I think it should, you think it shouldn't; I don't like this style of humor, but you do. The only difference is I don't think it fits.
This post has been hidden by the game developer. Click here to show the post anyway.
We should make the Hitler pokémon.

...Man I love Afropup and its evolutions. Why can't we just agree that jazz and afros are cool?
charblar
"wait you made this a career?"
3574
I logged in and saw 85 notices and new there was review drama.
iddalai
RPG Maker 2k/2k3 for life, baby!!
2160
author=argh
author=Liberty
Giving this review attention means that you'll be causing the drama they want you to.
I see no reason to assume this is all the reviewer wants. Can we not instantly assume the worst of people, please.

author=Solitayre
I don't think this review was intended to cause drama (...)


This is a quote from the reviewer's page: "Mini-Farla > You should post this review to RMN and watch the fireworks! ::::D"

Considering Dragon_Quill's fan base and how the review was written, it really makes it seem like drama was the objective.

author=Solitayre
You're listed as a developer, which means you may not review this game. Sorry!


I have a question, could someone who created a couple of Pokemon for the game and designed the skeleton of a dungeon, review the game?

I totally understand where you're coming from by denying a review from a Developer, but in these community events, the real Developer is the main person in charge making the game and the other people listed as Developers only did very small things like designing a couple Pokemon or the skeleton of a dungeon or giving feedback (like testers).

Should these people be listed as Developers and should they not be allowed to review the game?

author=Liberty
Now can we please stop with the drama quest and go write your own goddamn reviews please.


It would seem most of us cannot review the game.
masterofmayhem
I can defiantly see where you’re coming from
2610
Don't mind me I'm just watching the fireworks. I'm still getting Makerscore from this right?
What happened with the post of the reviewer that has nothing on it?
Kloe
I lost my arms in a tragic chibi accident
2236
author=Ilan14
What happened with the post of the reviewer that has nothing on it?

It was hidden and then he edited it all into nothing, I dunno what was on it
Ratty524
The 524 is for 524 Stone Crabs
12896
author=Solitayre
I heard someone say something recently about comedy that I really agree with. In comedy, nothing should be off-limits, but you need to know the room.

Is this comedy (and this game) targeted at an RMN audience or a general Poke'mon audience? Which jokes work for who?

It is primarily targeted towards the RMN userbase. I still plan on expanding its view to other communities, however, for extra publicity.

author=Kloe
author=Ilan14
What happened with the post of the reviewer that has nothing on it?
It was hidden and then he edited it all into nothing, I dunno what was on it

For the record, I do not know what they said either. I'm not the one who hid their post.
Hey, sorry it's taken me ages. To go talk about what was said at the beginning and everyone's probably forgotten...

author=Ratty524
In regards to Leanne, she's supposed to be insane. She's a kind of comic relief in the sense that she's there to make you, as a player going through a whirlwind of experiences throughout the game, feel awkward or perplexed at every encounter, hence the entire Triple Triad scene and even her sudden affection towards you.


Hm. Is Harry Potter still a good common language? I hope so. So, Luna there was a pretty good "weird girl" example, I think. Leanne just comes off like she's a complete idiot - she can't handle a simple cardgame and can't remember you from five minutes ago, so when she's ranting about robots it only seems like it's just her being too dumb to understand what's happening. If she bumped into the character and assumed that oh hey, you're an alien prince/ditto/android pretending to be human, hey, I bet you don't know about this new card game, I'll tell you about it to help you fit in, that'd still be bizarre and suggest she's crazy. Plus, it's usually more entertaining to see someone spin complex stories than just not understand what's going on.

Also, on the weird front, her yelling because she thought she was going to get turned into a robot, or thinking the robots were aliens, and so on, would have been way weirder than the same old girls assume the guy's being perverted when he's actually doing something else, and avoid the way her dialogue is still coming out like she's talking to the guy - saying she's rushing off to defend all women is really weird when a girl just saved her.)

(Her being weird in a less incompetent manner would also fix much of the dreaded sexism complaint there - it's the combination of most of the characters being male and having the major female NPC who gets lots of lines also be the ditziest ditz to ever ditz.)

author=Ratty524
Speaking of which, her similar interactions towards girl-characters is entirely intentional in that regard. It's so the people who play female characters don't miss out, and also to imply that Leanne is bisexual.


Well, I can say I'd have considered it differently if I was looking at this as a finished game and not a demo - I jumped to conclusions there because the only character to change was also the earliest one - but I would suggest thinking about the order of presentation. Having the first reference to sexuality I encountered being NO HOMO is startling in a way that NO HETERO isn't. We're nearing the point where saying this stuff is just a neutral statement of which person you want to date, but we're not there yet. Having a character before that say something to indicate they're gay/bi would've really changed how the girl came off.

author=Ratty524
As for being gross and edgy, I won't deny that, but what else would you expect to find by digging through trash? :P


Well, variety helps. If there was flavor text a bunch of places I wouldn't mind the trash being trash flavor. I really, really, really love flavor text, even more than I love oldschool flicker evolutions.

author=Ratty524
I'll gladly add some males who hit on you!

Thanks! In all seriousness. When stuff's different in a gendered way/"sexism" it doesn't have to be huge but a matter of there's some sort of disconnect and it's distracting as I suddenly stop to go, wait, why are only the girls flirting? Where are the bi/gay boys? Are they just incredibly shy? Does my character have GIRLS ONLY written on their forehead? Why is the world tilted in this specific way?

author=Ratty524
Yeaaaaah that minigame is kind of borked. I'm not sure whether to rework it to make it more responsive/easier to complete or rework it entirely.


Well, part of what bugged me is that there's also no penalties, which makes it feel more pointless. You just keep doing it until it works. Back in the ancient RBY days, Blaine's gym gave you a choice of (pretty easy) quiz or fighting a trainer to get to the next section, and failing the quiz forced you to immediately fight the trainer. Since this is a lot harder, you could give people three tries or something, but if they do badly they're forced to fight a trainer, rather than fighting the trainer then doing the minigame. Everyone gets through one way or another. (Maybe also hand out an item for people who do it properly, so there's a carrot as well?) (Also calling it anything other than meditation - magic chakra fast breathing?)

With the discussion happening around the afropup - even just one bit changing would do a lot - black skin with a different expression or the expression but a different skin color (like purple or blue, a skin color not used in caricature makes it a lot less of one). Stereotypes are exponential. One thing would never be a problem, a whole pile usually is, and often even just one bit disrupting it can change the meaning significantly (afropup the genius psychic, for example, breaks the combo. And a black character who happened to be all about jazz while wearing an afro would be stereotypical, but he'd be one person and not a species of animal who all act that way, so not such an issue). Also, the trainer sprites being less white overall would've made it come off better - maybe one set all dark skinned to balance the fact at least one sprite set is all white ones. Like sexism, it's generally not that X is bad so much as X in absence of Y. More variety always helps, and it's also not something we're usually had in the official games. If the main trainer set had been just black kids in different clothes, afropup and another dozen pokemon like it wouldn't have been a problem at all since the best way to say something isn't literally meant to stand in for people is to have those people stand next to it.

Also, since people are talking about edgy - I was largely frustrated that it was the same kind of joke over and over about something that's not a big deal in the first place. If the only drunken guy was the sailor, the joke wouldn't have been stale by the time he was mowing people down with his boat. Having multiple drunk characters and still more discussing this fact is what made it annoying. Even just diversifying the drugs would've helped - maybe the cranky guy at the start was mad because he was out of cigarettes. Maybe someone's got a bong. I didn't mean that it has to be to the same level of family-friendly as the games. A fangame should be doing things differently and providing stuff you don't see in the official games.
That's awesome commentary. Thanks for the follow-up!
Also, making Leanne alien-crazy actually seems like a good way to make her craziness at least amusing and properly weird. I really wouldn't have known how to do that well at the top off my head.

Also, yes, I'd like in on the males hitting on people.
Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
7325
author=halibabica
'RPG' isn't a genre either, Liberty. It's a style of game (which is technically a genre, but not in the context I'm using). I'm not trying to raise drama here. You can't say I'm wrong because I'm not arguing with opinion. The only thing up for debate is whether the game should be changed or not. I think it should, you think it shouldn't; I don't like this style of humor, but you do. The only difference is I don't think it fits.

Where you're losing everyone is with your insinuation that a single game can be its own genre.

"This is a Star Wars genre game with platforming elements." sounds like a bit of a stretch. Logically it's a platformer genre game with Star Wars elements. The same goes for Pokemon being an RPG with Pokemon elements in it.

So yes you are wrong because you are arguing with a wrong opinion.