Wallet Abuse Weekly : Violating Causality

 

No doubt you already know that scientists have once again been baffled, flummoxed, puzzled and shocked, this time by a stream of neutrinos that arrived (after passing directly through the earth) from the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN facility in Geneva, Switzerland to the OPERA detection facility at Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso, located in the Alps in central Italy some 60 nanoseconds earlier than they should have given the limits of the speed of light.

This is of course, nothing new. Indeed, if you pay attention to the science headlines in any given news feed it would appear scientists exist in a near constant state of flummox. Every day it seems there is some new godawful thing threatening to destroy the scientific establishment and expose Einstein, Hawking, Feyman, Newton et all as the collective drooling hillbillies mainstream science writers no doubt believe them to be.

It is clear that a great many people emotionally invested in such matters have their own agenda to push. People who are convinced “What the Bleep Do We Know” is anything but a rambling screed of pseudoscientific bullshit look at science’s inability to explain why exactly gravity operates as proof that positive thoughts control quantum entanglement. Global warming deniers point to Earth’s newfound sheath of antimatter as proof that science does not understand the way the atmosphere works, whereas Young Earth Creationists-- well, they think the Earth was created all at once 6000 years ago so there’s nothing you can really tell those people anyway.

True, science can’t explain everything, nor will it likely ever considering the practical limits of technology and the inherent limits of the human mind. But science provides a framework for one day possibly explaining everything observable within our universe, and that’s something no other discipline can hope to achieve, not philosophy or religion or even holographic power bands.

And chances are every time you read a news article that leads with scientists being “baffled” at a new discovery is really a methodology error, or sometimes, in the case of the chupacabra, just a dog with a really bad case of mange.

Sometimes the current state of science just can’t explain a new discovery. But contrary to how the media would like you to believe, scientists are never dismayed by such an event-- indeed, there’s nothing a good scientist likes more than being proven wrong, as this leads to more science.

No one on the face of the Earth wants this news coming out of from CERN to be true than scientists as it would be the most profound discovery of the past century.

So you’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with Wallet Abuse Weekly or videogames or my thoughts on Gears of War 3’s improbably high review scores. Well, much like CERN’s top scientists I too have violated causality and have gone forward in time an entire week to bring you news of the games released this coming Wednesday as well as those released four days ago. And in doing so I will compare each retail release to their rough equivalent in terms of baffling scientific discovery and/or embarrassing, highly regrettable hoax.

 


 

 

Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland
Developer: Gust
Publisher: NIS America
Platforms: PlayStation 3

There are exactly two real words in that title, and they’re fucking “of” and “the”. You’re not gonna fool anyone into taking Anderson Tobacco: The Accountant of Auckland seriously, NIS America.

Altimeter Tolerance: The Abundance of Antwerp looks pretty but there’s no way I’d be able to live with Altier Totoro: The Alchemiter of Arloo as an actual videogame. If they were to release an art book of Atlantis Tartarsauce: The Archmage of Alfredo I’d-- well, I’d spend the money on Portal 2. But man I’d really think about buying that artbook.

 

As far as the worth of the actual game? Who fucking knows. Nothing has popped up on metacritic yet and it’s a safe bet NIS America won’t send out review copies for a game that will sell at most 20k units in North America anyway. It’s hard to even tell if you’re looking up the information for the right Adolf Tiramisu game as there’s eighty billion of the fucking things floating around out there and they have a habit of changing names across territories. If you’re the sort of person who gets their review scores at RPGgamer.com then you’ll probably like ... whatever this thing is supposed to be, but if you’re the sort of person who gets their review scores at RPGgamer then you’ve probably also already reported Nitrobeard.com to Anonymous as being supporters of Bank of America.

Also you are sick, sick individuals and you’re the sole reason NIS America remains solvent. Yes, I’m speaking to one very specific group of people and you know who you are:

 

The University of Maine Farmington Otaku Club. Cut this shit out, guys.

WHAT SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY DOES THIS GAME MOST CLOSELY REPRESENT?

 

COLONY COLLAPSE DISORDER

Just as Gust’s Atelier series represents a mishmash of countless incomprehensible JRPGs that somehow fit into a larger whole, Colony Collapse Disorder-- the horrible Bee AIDS everyone was worried about two years ago and then promptly forgot about-- likely isn’t one identifiable disorder but a tightly interwoven series of stresses placed upon poor defenseless little bee bodies until they reach the breaking point and fuck off en masse to go join a Grateful Dead tribute band tour.

SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY STATUS: PROBABLY SOLVED

 


 

 

Cabela's Big Game Hunter 2012
Developer: Cabela’s Fund For The Extinction of All Mammals LLC
Publisher: Activision
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii

If you’ve been following Wallet Abuse regularly then you already know my undying devotion to Cabella’s Big Game Hunter series; better known as Call of Duty:

 

BUT WITH FUCKING BEARS.

Just as CoD/Battlefield/Homefront/Halo/Resistance/Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi depict America’s fine armed forces dispensing streams of hot lead justice upon bronze-age zealots from the cargo bay of a Lockheed AC-130, the fine, animal-hating people at Cabela are intent on showing hunting in the most realistic way possible-- at 30 feet, using a sniper rifle, against grizzly bears. And cougars. And elk. Rams. Squid. Possibly voles. Basically the people at Cabela’s want the world to share in their joy of wiping out America’s wildlife population, one stinking no good mammal at a time.

Weeding through Cabela’s PR speak is a difficult because man, those guys love talking about guns, but apparently new for this year is a multiplayer mode, and also a storyline. I can only hope that these two features are combined and feature a scenario where you’re tricked into the woods by your best friend, get wasted on Pabst Blue Ribbon and promptly “mistaken” for a rutting elk. You win if you get back to your truck before you expire of a sucking chest wound and make it to your house before your best friend can help file divorce papers with your wife.

(Cabela’s, call me. I work cheap and I know your audience.)

WHAT SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY DOES THIS GAME MOST CLOSELY REPRESENT?

DARK MATTER

Here’s something to mull over while pouring brandy into your Fruit Loops and wondering why Cabela games continue to be produced-- 83% of the matter in the universe is completely fucking unaccounted for, nor can we ever realistically interact with it. We know it’s there, it has to be there because it still works with gravity like “normal” matter (although when you consider that we make up less than 20% of the observable universe it becomes obvious we are not the “normal” matter in this equation) and galaxies and the like would simply fly apart if it wasn’t present.

So what the hell is dark matter made of? We have no clue. None. And we may never, as we can’t directly observe it and at present the only known way to generate the levels energy needed to interact with the stuff requires a version of the Large Hadron Collider larger than Earth’s orbit around the Sun. So unless we get to the point where where we’re creating Dyson Spheres we’ll never be able to tell for sure if the stuff is even there, and by that point we won’t need to worry about it because hey--we’ve got Dyson Spheres.

SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY STATUS: TOTALLY FUCKING BAFFLED


 

 

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2
Developer: TOSE (otherwise known as the guys who hard coded load times into your PS3 copy of Chrono Trigger)
Publisher: Nintendo. Somehow.
Platforms: International Pokemon Delivery System

It’s probably not fair to call the DQM games Pokemon ripoffs, but it’s also not fair for Squeenix to keep making these things and never make a sequel to Rocket Slime.

 

POKEMON.

TOTALLY FUCKING POKEMON.

Also-- and yeah, I realize this would be a scummy move, but it’s a scummy business so whatever-- isn’t it about time Nintendo started making sure releases like Joker 2 are 3DS titles? C’mon guys, you’re not fooling anyone, we already know you’re evil. Stop making people happy and start spending money already.

WHAT SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY DOES THIS GAME MOST CLOSELY REPRESENT?

THE MONTAUK MONSTER

Just as it’s easy to pin down DQM:J2 as Toriyama Pokemon, it’s easy to figure out what washed upon the Hampton shores in the Summer of 2008. That is of course a fucking dead dog THE HERALD OF SHUB-NIGGURATH, THE BLACK RAM OF THE FOREST WITH A THOUSAND EWES

SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY STATUS: IÄ! SHUB-NIGGURATH! IÄ! SHUB-NIGGURATH!

 


 

 

Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns
Developer: The Harvest Moon Company
Publisher: The Company That Publishes Harvest Moon Games
Platform: Nintendo 3DS

See, Nitsume gets the idea. Also manila envelopes stuffed full of cash.

Sadly since The Tale of Two Towns is already, y’know... released... you can’t actually take part in the one great argument for buying any given new release in the Harvest Moon series, that being the preorder bonus: this time being a stuffed alpaca

 

by which we can safely assume this version of Harvest Moon takes place in Chile and a large part of this game’s story involves fighting off an encroaching radio telescope observatory. Or better yet, establishing your own radio telescope observatory and watching as the technological creep slowly engulfs the west coast of South America.

(Sadly research reveals that nope, it’s just another goddamned Harvest Moon game; this time with your player playing off two rival towns, sorta like Bruce Willis in Last Man Standing only with more farming and less guns and fewer mafia. I have now described two far better games than anything you’ll play in The Tale of Two Towns, but fuck if I can figure out how to get an alpaca to work in either)

WHAT SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY DOES THIS GAME MOST CLOSELY REPRESENT?

 

 

 

THE PALUXY RIVER MANTRACKS

Harvest Moon isn’t a mystery, people. You’ve been playing this same game for nearly fifteen years now. Neither is any instance of human footprints walking alongside dinosaur footprints-- for one thing you have to accept the idea that time has been hilariously compressed for the age of Dinosaurs to coincide with the rise of Man, for another you have to believe that this

 

represents anything a human being would leave behind in sedimentary rock. Advocates for the Paluxy River Mantracks have an agenda to promote, that being that the Book of Genesis is literally and factually correct and the Earth is no greater than six thousand years old. And also She seems to have an invisible touch, yeah,She reaches in and grabs right hold of your heart
She seems to have an invisible touch, yeah, It takes control and slowly tears you apart.

SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY STATUS: IT WAS NEVER REALLY A MYSTERY YOU YOUNG EARTH CREATIONIST DOLTS

 


 

 

Kirby Mass Attack
Developer: HAL Labs
Publisher: The Mario Corporation
Platforms: The Last Good Thing Nintendo Ever Did

I’m not even going to lie; if Nintendo were to do these three things:

1: re-establish it’s sci-fi franchises in Metroid, F-Zero and Star Fox and treat them as as one universe

2: Reveal that the entirety of the Mario series was the fever dream of a waylaid plumber mugged and left for dead in a deserted Flatbush apartment complex sometime in 1983 and :

3: For one console generation, make Kirby the main franchise

I’d start liking Nin--

 

Okay I’d still hate Nintendo and all it stands for but I’d feel at peace with my residual Sega fanboy rage. Even if Nitnendo were to finally give the little pink ball the... the ball, and give him his own full 3d HD platformer and not these wierd 2d gameplay experiments, I’d be happy.

 

I mean, I’d still fucking hate you people, but I’d play that videogame.

That said, it’s hard to complain about Nintendo’s treatment of Kirby as an experimental gameplay platform when HAL Labs continually produces stuff like Mass Attack, which is sort of a cross between World of Goo and Canvas Curse and Lemmings and yet absolutely nothing like any of those things. Plus you get an updated version of Kirby’s Pinball Land as a minigame bonus-- If this is indeed Nintendo’s swan song for the DS then they’ve done a commendable job at validating the platform just as it’s successor takes the stage.

Kirby is as insufferably adorable and sadistically violent as ever in Mass Attack, but it’s still odd that this didn’t wind up a Pikmin game instead. But this may also mean that Pikmin 3 winds up being a Kirby game, and I think everyone would be fine with that.

WHAT SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY DOES THIS GAME MOST CLOSELY REPRESENT?


 

THE PIONEER ANOMALY

Just as Kirby games take a different form every time we look at them; the Pioneer Anomaly presents a different solution every time it’s examined-- Basically the two Pioneer probes sent out by NASA in the early 70’s aren’t leaving our solar system quite as fast as should be expected, expressed by scientist-types as having a slight acceleration towards the sun-- because just saying “they’re not leaving the solar system quite as fast as should be expected” is simultaneously too clear and too wordy.

It’s a small deviation, but well outside the margin of error for these sorts of calculations, which turns out to be remarkably precise-- the probes are losing roughly 400 km per year, meaning we can track these two relatively small probes as they enter the sun’s heliosphere and know they’re off course roughly the distance between Rocky Mount, North Carolina and Washington DC per year. Or at least we could in 2006, the last time we had contact with Pioneer 10.

Science is currently unclear exactly why this is happening, whether it’s the presence of Dark Energy screwing around with gravity in unexpected ways as these probes get further from the Earth, or the expanding fabric of space time itself, or a more mundane explanation such as the probe’s design unevenly warming parts of the spacecraft and creating a slight drag on the vessels as they travel though the interstellar medium. Indeed, the most recent and likely explanation is that the radar dish attached to the rear of each craft is causing a slight but noticeable amount of thermal drag as they grow ever further from the Sun.

SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY STATUS: PROBABLY SOLVED

 


 

 

F1 2011
Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

As a North Carolina native and born into the 80’s/early 90’s NASCAR culture I have nothing but contempt for open wheeled racing, and especially European open-wheeled racing. Buncha limp-wristed Nancies driving around in their automated computer cars; they probably drink espressos and read The Economist during straightaways.

Needless to say I cannot summon interest to do any research in anything related to F1; I think unless you’re just a huge fan of any given racing series then the best way to be exposed to this sort of thing is via novelty races in Forza/Gran Turismo. Also I continue to be irrationally annoyed at Codemasters developing anything that’s not directly related to producing a new GRiD game.

WHAT SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY DOES THIS GAME MOST CLOSELY REPRESENT?

 

THE FACE ON MARS

Just as F1 2011 is lame and boring and not a mystery to anyone, the pile of rocks and pattern recognition that formed the basis for the excruciating movie “Mission To Mars” is not a mystery to anyone, especially after subsequent probes revealed the stupid thing just be be another boring highly eroded chunk of red rock.

Now the other face on Mars? That’s some shit you need to watch out for

 

IÄ! SHUB-NIGGURATH! IÄ! SHUB-NIGGURATH!

SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY STATUS: LAME AND DUMB

 


 

 

Gears of War 3
Developer: Cliffy B and The Cliff Bros
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studibros
Platforms: Xbro Brostation

As mentioned on our critically acclaimed podcast (No, really. Jeff Green is a critic; he acclaimed it) 2011 has turned out to be the year of strangely good brodude updates; the sort of games the hardcore tend to discard out of hand but turn out to be legit GOTY contenders.

Okay so that’s only happened to Resistance 3 and Gears of War 3, but who would have guessed that either of these would be noticeable, much landmark achievements in the genre? Is this a function of developers actually paying attention to their craft, or is it just a matter of making the same game three times and eventually getting it right? More unsettling, does this mean we have to preorder Modern Warfare 3, just to be safe?

Look, I’m not going to sit here and say I’m above the Gears franchise, I played through the first two games (Okay, most of the first two games. The RAAM fight at the end of Gears 1 remains one of the best argument this console generation against boss fights in modern games) and greatly enjoyed both, but they also seemed like the gaming version of R.A. Salvatore novels. Good clean pulp fun but nothing to be taken seriously-- this is like reading through The Icewind Dale books and finding that The Hafling’s Gem was written by George RR Martin-- and the good George RR Martin, not the one that started doing con circuits instead of plotting novels.

I just ask that, if we’re going to get to the point where hardcore gamers have to pay attention to brodude fragfests that the brodude market responds in kind by buying vast quantities of Deus Ex: Human Revolution the next time they’re out buying Axe bodyspray and triple-collared Polo shirts.

WHAT SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY DOES THIS GAME MOST CLOSELY REPRESENT?

THE WOW! SIGNAL

Epic’s sudden ability to make quality videogames is inexplicable and unsettling, but it has nothing on the radio signal picked up by the Big Ear radio telescope operated by The Ohio STate University one fine August evening in 1977. Dubbed simply the “Wow! Signal”, it looks pretty much exactly like what scientists expect an intercepted extraterrestrial communique would expect, and despite decades of trying it’s never been found again-- and due to the unique configuration of the Big Ear telescope (a pair of enormous flat mesh antennas pointed up at the earth) it’s likely we’ll never see it again, considering the Big Ear is now home to the back half of an 18-hole golf course.

Of course there are any number of explanations for the Wow! Signal more plausible than a seventy second alien conversation we just happened to listen into at the exact right moment, but they have their own weaknesses-- For instance, nothing like this signal has ever been seen twice despite every radio telescope on earth vainly attempting to replicate this signal for the past four decades. For another, the Wow! Signal originated from a radio spectrum not used by terrestrial sources. Of course, a one-time super-secret military transmission is far more likely than alien communication, but you still gotta hope.

SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY STATUS: TOTALLY FUCKING WEIRD, BRO


 

 

Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection
Developers: Team ICO
Publishers: Someone not as cool as Sony Europe
Platforms: PlayStation 3

If you own a Playstation 2/3 and do not own these two games in some fashion then you’re the reason none of us can have nice things and I hate you.

For the rest of you: Yes, you bought this seven years ago. I do not care. Buy it again. This is our stand against the Kinect-owning dullards, against the mothers and grandfathers hiding Wiis in their closets, against the bros constantly badgering you for your Call of Duty handle. This is our moment, ladies and gentlemen. Do not let me down.

...andthengobuygears3 OH GOD WHERE ARE WE

WHAT SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY DOES THIS GAME MOST CLOSELY REPRESENT?

FUCKIN’ MAGNETS

Why you should buy the Ico Collection isn’t a mystery. Neither are magnets.

SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY STATUS: SOLVED, YOU FAYGO-ADDLED MORONS

 


 

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 2: Innocent Sin 
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus USA
Platforms: PlayStation Portable

If you can get around the bit where you’re playing a very late-90’s feeling JRPG, Persona 2 is quite an attractive package. Not only are North American gamers getting a previously unreleased Persona title (The game we think of as Persona 2 with Miss Hearts-on-Boobs is actually only half of the total Persona 2 package), Atlus has thoughtfully provided gamers with a series of playable Persona 2 “episodes” unattached to the Persona 2: Innocent Sin game proper. Just don’t come into it expecting the same sort of JRPG-lite gameplay combined with dating sim that made up Persona 3 and 4.

WHAT SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY DOES THIS GAME MOST CLOSELY REPRESENT?

ALAN HILLS 84001

Persona 2: Innocent Sin looks bizarre, but it’s less of a mystery than it lets on-- it’s substantially more traditional than more recent Atus RPGs. Similarly the meteorite labeled as Alan Hills 84001 is sadly less mysterious than originally thought-- first discovered in Antarctica (turns out Antarctica is a reliable source for chunks of Mars. Who knew?) and promptly carved into by bored astrobiologists where they were stunned-- perhaps even baffled-- to find tiny tracks within that highly resembled the sorts of fossils left behind by terrestrial bacteria, something difficult to explain considering Alan Hills 84001 spent most of it’s life either on Mars, or whizzing in interplanetary space before eventually finding itself in Antarctica. The first rational explanation was that these were direct evidence of Martian lifeforms-- a discovery so important that beloved oaf President Bill Clinton preempted American television to deliver the news.

Problem is, this particular Mars rock formed at such high temperatures that those squiggly formations found within could not possibly have had a biological origin. Also although there were trace elements of organic material found on the meteorite, it’s impossible to tell if that trace material did not itself originate from the very Antarctic ice it was resting on for who knows how many years prior to its discovery.

SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY STATUS: SADLY BORING

 


 

 



Supremacy MMA 
Developer: Kung Fu Factory
Publisher: 505 Games
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

I cannot begin to understand how or why Supremacy MMA exists. EA’s MMA was similarly poorly thought out and a clear reactionary resonse to THQ’s UFC-licensed series; but at least EA could use thier clout to pull in some Strikeforce fighters and other people not signed to a UFC contract.

The biggest name Kung Fu Factory could pull in for Supremacy was some guy by the name of Jens Pulver; a fighter who’s record is only slightly less embarrassing than Mick Foley.

WCW Mick Foley.

Supremacy’s claim to fame-- and I swear to god, I’m not making this up-- is that it’s M-Rated and it’s the only MMA game to be released in 2011, which means Kung Fu Factory is placing a lot more emphasis on the UFC crowd’s desire for broken arms and yearly updates than I think is warranted.

WHAT SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY DOES THIS GAME MOST CLOSELY REPRESENT?

  


THE BLOOP

The existence of an MMA game without any major MMA sponsorship is unexplainable, and quite frankly terrifying. Same goes for The Bloop, a mysterious and goddamned scary minute long “audio event” originating somewhere off the southern tip of South America. The Bloop was extraordinarily powerful, having been heard by multiple sensors along a line of underwater listening posts originally designed to track down passing Soviet submarines. All that’s known about The Bloop is that it’s never been heard again and its audio profile highly resembles a living creature and not a geological event such as passing tectonic plates.

In short, we have direct evidence for Cthulu.

SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY STATUS: PH'NGLUI MGLW'NAFH CTHULHU R'LYEH WGAH'NAGL FHTAGN

 


 

 

X-men: Destiny 
Developer: Silicon Knights
Publisher: Activision
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS

Speaking of hilarious failures you’re only now being reminded still exist, here’s Silicon Knight’s latest attempt to paddle away from the gyre at the center of the industry’s sink, X-Men Destiny. Featuring such classic X-Men characters such as

 

 

INSUFFERABLE TRIBAL BRO


 

 

SCARF CHICK

 

ASSHOLE JOCK

 

 

....and a special appearance from the unreleased Sega classic

 

DREAMCAST GAMBIT

...that said, X-Men Destiny might work. All SK really has to do is copy the Mass Effect psudo WRPG formula and re-work it for the superhero genre-- the only problem is there’s been no evidence since The Twin Snakes that Silicon Knights is capable of even getting that much right.

That sounds like a compelling argument against X-Men Destiny until you realize there’s only been one SK game between The Twin Snakes and X-Men Destiny. Still, there’s no Metacritic reviews for a major RPG that’s supposed to release in less than three days nor any online buzz from the usual suspects-- either SK is going under the radar (a puzzling assumption when you realize this is a Marvel license) or everyone involved knows this thing is going to bomb and they need as many pre-orders as possible before the well is poisoned.

WHAT SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY DOES THIS GAME MOST CLOSELY REPRESENT?

 

THE CONTINUED EXISTENCE OF SILICON KNIGHTS

SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY STATUS: UTTERLY BAFFLING

 



NEXT WEEK~!

 

TOM CLANCY’S GHOST RECON: FUTURE SOLDIER had damned well better have some mechs and laser cannons in it

THE DARKNESS II makes us wonder if Image Comics still exists, and if so, how?

But none of that matters because DARK SOULS IS HERE TO MAKE A MAN OUT OF YOU