How the Pokémon Franchise Advocates a Communist Utopia

The Pokémon franchise has touched the hearts of countless children and young adults throughout the world. It’s moreish mechanics, adorable design, and endearing sense of community has cemented it as one of the most popular handheld video game series to date, going on 25 years strong. But what if there’s a message within these games? Subtle nods and established norms existent within the game’s universe that speak for something more than just the battling of strange animals against more strange animals? What if Pokémon is an advocate of the inevitable Communist utopia?

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A significant aspect of a Communist society is the absence of currency, instead opting for a system wherein individuals are equally distributed that which they need to survive. While there is money in the Pokémon franchise, this free distribution of basic necessities can be seen in various instances in the Pokéverse. The first is the fact that both your player character and every other character in Pokémon seemingly never go hungry. Yes, you can buy Pokéballs, potions, and repellents, but the game never gives you the option of purchasing food for your own use. And yet, you never suffer from undernourishment or dehydration. Is this perhaps because you are supplied food and water as a basic necessity without the need to exchange funds? I suspect this might be the case.

We can also look to the Pokémon Centers; buildings situated throughout the Pokéverse regions that offer the healing of a trainer’s Pokémon free of charge. This free universal Pokémon healthcare is yet another basic need supplied without the exchange of currency. Just imagine having to pay to heal your Pokémon every time they had fainted. Would the game still be as popular as it is today? Most likely, but it’s an example of one of the many casual mechanics that makes the game such an entertaining experience, and happens to support this theory.

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In Pokémon Ruby, you encounter a man who owns a berry farm. When engaging in dialogue, the berry farmer will tell you about his berries and to, “take as many as you like.” The berry farmer could have easily charged you for the picking of his berries, but he does not. He allows you to freely take as many as you could need, and in essence, freely distributes the berries among the populace (it is assumed.) I would suggest that berries could be considered basic needs in that they are a food source, and that the berry farmer freely offering his berries is an example of the distribution of necessities that is present in a Communist society.

Another aspect of Communism is common ownership of the means of production. That is, the fruits of one’s labors are distributed equally among the populace. There is an item in the Pokéverse that carries out such a distribution; the Exp. Share, an obtainable item that shares the experience gained from successful Pokémon battles among both the participating Pokémon and Pokémon that did not engage in combat. If operating under a capitalist mindset, this experience would be given exclusively to the battling Pokémon, leaving the other, less-opportunistic Pokémon deprived of that which they need to grow. Alas, the Exp. Share solves this problem by spreading the experience out, allowing all of your Pokémon to flourish.

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And finally, as we all know, food and water are not the only basic necessities needed in order to live a happy and comfortable life. The third? Accommodation! And in the Pokémon games that take place in the Hoenn and Sinnoh regions, the player character is given the opportunity to establish a ‘secret base,’ a home, complete with optional furniture customization, that requires no initial payment and no lodging transactions. A place to live, free of charge. When we look to the idea of common ownership, it is primarily with the means of production. Private property, such as living space and personal effects, are perfectly fine and often supplied without the need for currency, exactly like the ‘secret base.’

So, there you have it. Is Pokémon an advocacy project for a true Communist Utopia? I like to think that it is, based on the implementation of various equal distribution and common ownership ideals in both it’s mechanics and it’s universe. And it gives me hope, due to it’s flagrant popularity, that one day the people of the world will happily and willingly enter into the glorious age of the Proletariat.

 

State Mandated Indie Roundup – 28/11/2016 – Cats in Space!

Hello, comrades! In light of the recent passing of glorious revolutionary icon, Fidel Castro, behold a selection of approved upcoming indie releases in the week commencing 28th November! Why indie? Well, as we all know, the high-production products of the bourgeoisie receive far more publicity than that of smaller proletariat gems. As such, in order to equally distribute the awareness of all video games, here are a few coming out this week that I’m looking forward to. The order of games mentioned is not indicative of ranking or quality, because that would be filthy and capitalistic.

  • 28/11/2016 – Crate Punks

Crate Punks is an exclusively local co-op versus game in which you are punks, and everything is crates, and you pick up the crates to throw at the punks who are throwing the crates that are being thrown by and at the punks and… crates, and punks. It looks relatively fun, especially with the ways in which the map can be reshaped. Crates. Punks.

  • 30/11/2016 – Delicious – Emily’s Message in a Bottle

Delicious – Emily’s Message in a Bottle is a fusion of those chef sim mobile games and a point-and-click adventure game… I think? It’s not exactly clear on the Steam page. It’s the 13th season in the Delicious franchise. You cook Italian food, and “COLLECT DIAMONDS and help Emily reunite her entire family through the power of cooking.” So yeah.

  • 01/12/2016 – Maize

So, here’s an… interesting one. Maize is a first-person adventure game with environmental puzzles, in which scientists create sentient corn based on a misinterpreted brief from the US government. It looks to have a remarkably high production quality, and it also has a tiny grumpy Russian robot bear, which is ridiculously on-brand.

  • 02/12/2016 – Space Cat

Space Cat is an arcade platforming game with randomly-generated, destructible terrain in which you are a cat in space with other cats in space, fighting UFOs and missiles bombs, like bad-ass little kitty cosmonauts. I honestly have no idea how the game will feel to play or how it actually works based on game play trailers, but needless to say I’m excited.

  • 02/12/2016 – Space Jammers

Space Jammers is a sci-fi rogue-lite top-down shooter with support of up to 4-player co-op, local and online. You assume the role of an alien rock band of space kitten pirates as they loot and pillage to fund their musical career whilst getting up to general space shenanigans, which probably sounds like the best thing ever conceived plot-wise, at least.

So, that’s a selection of games releasing this week that caught my eye. I’m rather enjoying the ‘cats in space’ theme that’s going on with some of them. I’m quite a fan of space cats.

Frozen Synapse 2 Unveils New Units, Game Mode, and 2017 Delay

Mode 7 Games have released a trailer for their upcoming tactical turn-based strategy game, Frozen Synapse 2, that unveils a handful of additional units and a new game mode called ‘One Turn.’

The reveal comes along with an announcement that the game will be delayed until 2017 in order to make improvements.

‘One Turn,’ the newly-announced game mode, allows two players pitted against each other one turn in their combat. These single turns can then be taken and tried against the turns of every other player that has also engaged in ‘One Turn’ mode. This, along with every multiplayer mode in the first Frozen Synapse will be in the sequel, with more to come.

The sequel is quite a significant evolution, taking place in a procedurally-generated mega-city, Tactical encounters, that which comprised the bulk of the first Frozen Synapse, can occur in any building and any location in the game.

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Another newly added mechanic is the ability to customize your squads with different units, of which those unveiled are but a few, each with unique abilities and characteristics.

I was quite a fan of the first Frozen Synapse, and have spoken with Managing Director of Mode 7, Paul Kilduff-Taylor, in an interview that briefly discussed his and co-Director Ian Hardingham’s hopes for the sequel, so I’ll definitely be sharing my thoughts upon the official release.

Top 5 Depictions of Communism in Video Games

Hello, comrades! Not only am I a games journalist, I’m also an Anarcho-Communist. It’s massively different to the USSR’s Leninist-Communism, but, I like to live as a parody of myself. So, here are my top five depictions of FULL COMMUNISM in video games, with provided accompanying listening material, in no particular order so to equally-distribute the credit that they’re each due.

 

  • METRO 2033

In Metro 2033, you assume the role of Artyom, a twenty-year-old survivor born before the bombs fell in a nuclear war that occurred in 2013, living in the underground Metro network of Russia. Your way of life is being threatened by a mysterious phenomenon referred to only as the Dark Ones, and you must travel through the Metro in order to seek help from the rest of society.

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In your travels, you encounter the ‘Red Line,’ a large group of Stalinist-Communists occupying sections of the Metro of the same name. There are problems with the practical application of their ideologies, and in many ways they mirror the conditions of Stalinist Russia back in the day. But the mobility of their movement, adding fuel to the revolutionary fires of nearby Metro stations and smashing down the Fourth Reich (a faction of Nazis present in the underground) whenever they possibly can, are aspects to be admired.

 

  • DEMOCRACY 3

Democracy 3 is the latest in a series of government simulation games that puts you in charge of a nation. You decide policies, trying to keep your people happy and maintain healthy relationships with each demographic present in the country, and can shape the political landscape into any ideology that you could possibly imagine.

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One such ideology is the Socialist Paradise, in which nobody is poor or left behind, and the true socialist utopia that Karl Marx pined over is finally achieved. This might not be considered FULL COMMUNISM, but it seems mostly as such, just not in name, though the image for the achievement is a hammer and sickle, so it’s basically Communism. Democracy 3 finds itself on this list because it’s accurate simulation of the world of politics has led to it’s implementation in schools throughout the world. This credibility as a reflection of the real world aids in reinforcing the feasibility of a Socialist nation, as is possible in the game.

 

  • THE TOMORROW CHILDREN

The Tomorrow Children is an adventure game akin to Minecraft in it’s collaborative building. You are a citizen of a Soviet Union-themed nation that finds itself trapped in a dismal mass known as the Void. You, along with your fellow citizens, work for the good of the people to reach out and find resources that are used to rebuild society. The game is in very early development, but has a lot of promise.

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It’s undeniably a depiction of FULL COMMUNISM, from the iconography of the game title to the flagrant Soviet themes plastering the aesthetic of the game. It encourages togetherness and working together. And sure, it might not be too great so far, but it looks likely to blossom into something beautiful. Just like the world’s implementations of Communism in history up unto this point.

 

  • MARIO KART

Mario Kart is a spin-off series in the Mario Bros. franchise from Nintendo, pitting popular characters from the universe against each other in fast-paced go-kart racing. Players can choose their character and vehicle, and race one another on a selection of themed tracks, utilizing various special items in order to aid their progress and win the race.

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What about Mario Kart is a great depiction of FULL COMMUNISM, do you ask? Well, first we must look at Mario himself; Mario is a plumber, a profession commonly attributed with the working class. Mario wears mostly red, sporting overalls and a full, healthy, Stalin-like mustache. Comparisons can easily be drawn between his aesthetic and various Communist themes, and he is the main character of the franchise, revered as a hero by many. We can also look to the mechanics present in Mario Kart itself; look at Bullet Bill, for instance, an item that is only available to those in the last places in races, and gives them a boost in order to provide them an equal opportunity of success. If that isn’t Communist, I don’t know what is.

 

  • COMMAND AND CONQUER: RED ALERT 3

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 takes place in an alternate history from World War II in which the Allied Forces battle the Soviet Union. Facing defeat, the Soviets travel back in time to kill Albert Einstein, preventing his aid of the Allied Forces and securing Soviet domination. An unexpected by-product is the emergence of the Empire of the Rising Sun, and all three factions engage in mass conflict.

Why is this depiction of Communism so glorious? Well, aside from deadly Soviet secretaries in tight-fitting PVC uniforms wielding massive guns, the glorious leader of the USSR is depicted by the great Tim Curry. His performance is sublime, and his representation of FULL COMMUNISM secures Red Alert 3 on this list. We will meet with you in Communist space utopia soon, Mr Curry.

Leaked Reveal of Uncharted 4 DLC at Playstation Experience

According to an insider source at Sony, a standalone DLC for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End will be revealed and playable at Playstation Experience this December.

The DLC will revolve around the adventures of Samuel, the brother of Uncharted series protagonist Nathan Drake, and Sully, a long-time cast member of the franchise. The reveal will consist of a gameplay segment, followed by a medley of cutscene footage, and concluding with the name of the DLC.

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The DLC is standalone, and as such is playable without needing to own the original game, and will tell a self-contained story, with Nathan Drake himself present to hand the reigns of adventuring over to his sibling. It has also been disclosed that Nathan’s daughter will not be present in the DL.

Both Nolan North and Troy Baker are reprising their roles for the standalone, which is reportedly longer than The Last of Us‘ critically-acclaimed DLC Left Behind, and it is internally projected for release in the first quarter of 2017.

The plan was to also talk about Uncharted 4: Survival here, but Sony seemingly wanted to get out ahead of us on that one. Might be because we tweeted we were planning to leak DLC today? Who knows.

UPDATE: It seems that sources were incorrect, and that the DLC, while standalone and single-player, it rather follows main character Chloe and Nadine after the events of Uncharted 4.

Review – Princess Remedy in a World of Hurt

The Steam Store is full of glistening gems. But those gems are often dusted with soot and unnoticed in a deep and swirling mine shaft, filled to the brim with slightly shiny rocks, discarded chunks of excrement, and the occasional glistening bright diamond. Which is a damn shame, because there are a lot of good gems there that are woefully under-appreciated. One of those gems is Princess Remedy in a World of Hurt.

Princess Remedy in a World of Hurt is a charming one-stick shooter with JRPG elements, and a loving dose of bullet hell injected directly into it’s veins. Made for the ‘Games Against Ebola’ game jam by Ludosity, you assume the role of Princess Remedy, who, after only just graduating from healing college, must venture forth into the world of Hurtland; a continent plagued with mild illness and negative thoughts,  the ultimate goal to successfully heal Prince Hingst, who suffers from every ailment known. Hurtland contains within it a number of villages, cave systems, towers, and portals to strange dimensions. Within these locations, Princess Remedy finds various quirky and whimsical characters, each with their own unique dilemmas. They are sad, and it’s up to you to make sure they get better. To do this, you engage in brutal combat with the physical manifestations of their negativity, mercilessly destroying them with your projectiles of good health.

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And we’ll start off by addressing this brutal combat… excuse my French, but holy fuck, Princess Remedy is a mercilessly tough game, in a very good way. At times it feels a tad artificial in it’s difficulty with the titanic quantity of foes you’ll encounter in some fights, many firing their own projectiles that all converge in on you like a sweeping mist of suffering. But a vast majority of the time, there’s near-enough always a way to dodge and weave and decimate with quick succession. It’s painful and it’s unforgiving, but Gods is it fun as all hell.

Something else this game nails is the cuteness factor (a big reason behind my love of Undertale, which came out to critical acclaim a year after Princess Remedy’s release, surprising as both titles share a few big themes) The characters are adorable, the solutions to their problems subverting the player’s expectations, a few of which are quite chuckle-worthy, most of which left me with the same sort of dorky smile I get when I hear a child talking nonsense about something. This left me curious to discover more of the little guys, eager to hear what comical lines of text they’d throw at me.

princess remedy dialogue

Based on a glimpse of the Steam reviews, I was expecting to finish the game in little over an hour, which at first concerned me, as the content was thoroughly enjoyable and I didn’t want to feel starved upon completion. But by the time I powered through the final boss battle, I very much appreciated the quick and concise packaged nature of the title. It was just as long as it needed to be, and I’m quite thankful that the developers didn’t feel any need to extend the longevity of it, as this could have run the risk of the game dragging on and feeling bloated, both factors that would have hindered my overall opinion of it.

Aside from the occasional artificial difficulty bump as mentioned, one of my biggest complaints about the game will seem confusing; it’s free. Why is this a complaint? Looking at it sitting in my library, I almost feel this sense of guilt. I valued my time with Princess Remedy to the extent that it feels like I should have paid for it. I wish I could have paid for it, even a small sum like £1-2, any contribution that I could have made to the developers of this world of hurt that I cured and enjoyed all the way. And for that to be my biggest complaint speaks numbers for the quality of the product, a product that I’d wholeheartedly recommend giving a go. If everything I’ve described here sounds like your sort of thing, then I assure you, you’ll have a blast.

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It’s probably also worth mentioning that you’ll feel like Daniel Freaking Bryan when you take out that final boss. Gods damn, it’s a great and fulfilling feeling.