2000s Cultural Autopsy Thread
#1
With a Particular Focus on the Western Successes for the Playstation2.

A good friend of mine recently said that if he could erase the entirety of western culture across the 90s and 2000s he would. Having just spent the last couple of weeks playing through a few of the celebrated high points of 2000s video games for the first time I better understand why. I don't just understand, I feel it in my bones.

This was an era of extraordinary potential. New media technology were finally being developed to the point of high accessibility and new possibilities were emerging all the time. Digital photography, relatively easy to use computers, the internet, electronic a/v devices in everybody's homes. Extraordinary potential.

This is a massive subject. To impose some focus and order I'm going to run a little case study here which I hope will be demonstrative. We're going to look at some American video games. Big expensive professional productions from established developers for the hot new Japanese machine. They had the money, they had the experience, everyone was lining up to spend money, this was a great time for video games.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/VCHWq4L/image.png]

A friend remembered this specific magazine and tracked down a scan of it to better demonstrate where gaming was at around this time. Very grateful to him. Just look at all the titles lined up on this cover. What an extraordinary time. We've got Devil May Cry, Guilty Gear, Pikmin, Smash Bros, Shenmue, sports, fighting, Star Wars, Monkey Ball, the XBOX, and...

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/4dNQkYL/image.png]

Naughty Dog's Jak & Daxter.

The rest of this opening post will be about this particular game, with the rest on my mind to be covered in posts to come.

I came into this game with a vague notion that weird things were happening in American PS2 games, and that they were bad. I had an Xbox when these games were new. At most I saw pieces at friends' places, and the impressions I got were generally weird and not too good. I was totally enamored with Halo from the moment I was brave enough to try it. Being PC developers Bungie weren't interested in selling to children, their "video games" just blew past "children's media" conventions into pure fully formed notions of masculine cool and I loved it.

The stuff my PS2 friends had though... unwholesome. Unwholesome like tv cartoons and Robert Rodriguez movies.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/hCB13wB/image.png]

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/QdVB4Lb/image.png]

You know, for the kids.

I always had a problem with this distinctly American cartoon set of sensibilities. This mad collection of grotesque visual memes and flaccid narrative tropes ridden with moralisms and strange untruths which were allowed to establish a relatively unchallenged monopoly over the limited amount of explicitly child oriented mass-reach high production value media which one society could and would produce. Only so many cartoons can be made, and all of them are somehow made by people into closeups of feet, and stories about how friendship and forgiveness is more important than holding willfully unpleasant people accountable for their behaviour.

I don't know how exactly such trends caught on, but they sure as hell weren't organic and popular, since they started to get annihilated as soon as the media landscape expanded and people had access to more options. By the 2000s this process was actually fairly underway. But unevenly and incomplete. Anime influence was everywhere, things were getting sleeker, taking themselves a bit more seriously, some concern was given to actually trying to look cool or nice now and then. But quite often the slim figures and cool stylish edges of anime instead of overriding American cartoon sensibilities, crashed into and merged incoherently with them. The resulting combinations being ugly and American in character. Anime is kind of a recessive element, easily tainted and lost.

Where I'm going here, is that I believe that Jak & Daxter is exactly such a beast.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/m5R6L6k/image.png]

Look at him. He has massive pointy anime elf ears

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/RDmSRtk/image.png]

A single shoulderpad

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/T1QhPSX/image.png]

But look at these two, and then look at him. The effect is just not cool and sleek. He has the pad, he has the ears, but he also has a rubbery grotesque Toy Story person face, retarded steampunk goggles, and Timon from The Lion King standing on his shoulder. And the hair. The overall effect is not anime, it is a cartoon with random anime touches attached. Despite Naughty Dog's apparent slight aspirations, their protagonist remains a toon.

And you know what?

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/LpKVJqm/image.png]

Despite that, I enjoyed it.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/NYDKG42/image.png]

Yes, it's a game, anything which is a game can be fun just on the level of playing. But I liked Jak & Daxter as a cartoon. I went into this thing expecting not to like it, and was very pleasantly surprised. It's actually a charming example of the power of 3D animation to be funny and entertaining to observe. The visual design sensibilities behind the characters are grotesque. As 2D art they're absolutely abhorrent. I genuinely believe that they are the product of spiritual sickness. But in motion certain pieces of this work transcend their innate ugliness and become cartoons. In particular Daxter, the Timon understudy posing above. He steals the show. Not with his speech. He's the only one who talks between the titular characters in this game, and carries most of the game's writing on his back, and it's just not that good. He has typical small neurotic nerdy asshole cartoon sidekick personality. Every line that comes out of his mouth feels like you've already heard it 50 times before. He's a stock character. But where novelty comes in is his animation.


[Video: https://youtu.be/vuJPTUlVqIo]

Call me a retard if you want, but I absolutely adored these animations. These are where his existence as a character is justified. This is the original and admirable craftwork Naughty Dog have to offer. This game has moments of genuinely funny and striking implementation of 3D animation. We have plenty of western 3D animated movies made using technology which is technically far superior to what's on display here, but the quality of cartooning has never impressed me like this. Daxter's relatively low fidelity features comically stretch and deform into absurd expressions of pleasure and manic excitement, and he does these little dances which bring his stupid asshole sidekick personality to life in a way which none of his lines are able to. This is a vision which actually works.

Now. As for everything else in this game. Did I enjoy it? Yes. It was not toil. I enjoyed the game. Was it perfect? No. It had serious underlying problems which in this case were bearable due to the vision coming together so well around its simplicity, novelty, and funny animation.

As the magazine article above points out, the thing resembles Crash Bandicoot very strongly. And it has the same shortcomings, that it's all so VIDEO GAME. Why are there crates and barrels? Why am I collecting glowing junk? Because that's what video games are. Shigeru Miyamoto's whims might as well have been carved in stone at the beginning of time to these people. But, in this case it doesn't really matter because it's all just an enjoyable time-passing pleasant brain-buzz activity to get to more funny dancing from Daxter. And the game has the decency to not be technically demanding and mostly be set in pretty tropical locales. Blue skies, green flora, golden sand, I'm having a good time.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/m95XdMJ/image.png]

The amount of totemic VIDEO GAME conventions on display at once is almost a joke, but the level of craft is high, the aesthetic sensibilities are mostly bearable to good, and the cartoon vision at the core remains pleasing. Daxter's animations as he rides Jak's shoulder in all of these different situations remain funny to me. From clinging on for life at high spends to casually leaning against Jak like a post when you stop moving, it's great. The game is always a cartoon thanks to his presence. He's not just present, he's a character. And he imbues every moment of the game with character.

So what's good? It's a cartoon game that successfully achieves the appeal of cartooning in 3D. It has nice virtual spaces to look at and the way you move through them and what you do as you go is all simple and well realised enough to pass the time and serve as a frame for the cartoon.

What's not so good? Slavish devotion to video game convention, and American toon design sensibilities. What do I mean by that?

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/LpKVJqm/image.png]

Here's your first image in the game. "Look, we made a cool handsome elf like Legend of Zelda? Isn't that a fun change for a cartoon? What do you mean something feels wrong? What could you possibly mean?"

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/bgWM0J2/jakk.webp] (This is cropped from an official render)

Okay, Jak doesn't wear shoes. Not the end of the world. Let's continue.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/FVTRwKk/image.png]

Good God when I came across this I had to share my thoughts with some people. Which thought in particular? That this is a Nutshack character.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/Sy6tRCD/image.png]

The log on the head, the goofy glasses, aren't you laughing? It's all for the kids. They made this so you'd laugh. Aren't you amused? Well at least we don't have to see his-

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/SmJRF7y/image.png]

Other thought, which will become far more relevant in the sequels, how wrong the "sexy babes" look in these games. We can come back to that point when talking about worse games, when I'm in a worse mood.

So we're in a nice looking beach world, but our quest is framed by the fact we have to do jobs for retards who look like this.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/LnRdVyq/image.png]

"The Mayor", because our beachfront village of ten people has a corrupt retarded steampunk mayor who looks like this. Why wouldn't it? Why wouldn't he have grotesque exposed feet? Why wouldn't he be written to be as annoying and unpleasant as possible while also having complete power over you? It's for the kids. Aren't you amused? Aren't you having fun?

This game was utterly fascinating to me because so much of it was so well crafted, there was enough of a binding vision to hold the whole thing together, but at the same time as they got so much of it, they got so much of it so utterly 180 degrees WRONG in ways which were completely avoidable. Ways which Americans doing anything cartoon, illustration, or animation, or youth adjacent seemingly COULD NOT STOP DOING.

Sorry, I wanted this to be my positive post. Don't get the wrong idea, I actually greatly enjoyed Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. I wanted to be generous with my positive comments while I still see things to praise in the subject matter. There are only some visible problems now with something which otherwise fundamentally, but the situation is about to develop...

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/LhmFWsV/image.png]

Last particular thought here. A man has been brought to my attention. Possibly the most influential cultural figure behind American aesthetic taste nobody has ever heard of. How many of you are familiar with Joe Madureira? In 1998 he started drawing a comic called Battle Chasers.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/87k6TxT/image.png]

Surely none of you have seen Battle Chasers before. But how many things have you seen which look like this? The giant pauldrons, the huge gloves and boots with the folded tops, giant buckles snarling wolfman, metal steampunk hulk. He's practically got the starting cast of League of Legends laid out here, among a thousand other inexplicably popular things.  All of this weird 2000s grotesque feels like it's orbiting around some kind of two digit IQ brown person collection of heroic ideals which Madureira somehow tapped directly into when he drew this.

Many more posts to come. My war against the 2000s is only just beginning.
#2
Great first post for this thread. I have no real specific thoughts on any piece of media of this type as I was too young for the PS2 era and I was never interested in this sort of stuff apart from viewing it through YouTubers like Caddicarus and JonTron, both being seeped in this culture, the former more than the latter I think. What I can say more generally about its effect on the culture is that with most of it being unserious at its core it was likely one of the main culprits behind the purposeless attitude and the stagnant minds of most "nerdy" millennials. They always knew -if never consciously thought- that what they were enjoying wasn't meant to be connected with or appreciated in any deep way, they were there to be entertained and fed boomer moral platitudes from the late boomer and early Gen Xer creators and writers. With there not being much to these creations the fans (those bombarded by it in their youth, I doubt people without such a connection look so fondly upon it) have two options when it comes to "appreciating" it: Indulge in the "Gross out" elements or take those moral platitudes as revelatory and "important".
#3
To me, a series emblematic of the 2000's is Timesplitters by Free Radical Design, a British developer.
It's art design seems close to Joe Madureira's: Enlarged, almost square shaped hands & feet, Hyper Masculine/Feminine physiques... 
That being said, I think it works better as a half way between American cartoons and Anime and despites all odds succeeds as an 'I'm so random' Halo 2. Free, radical Design

[Image: https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-J8Agzy87Z1o/W...efault.jpg]

The animation itself is quality for its time and the cutscenes display great facial expression in the characters.

[Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF4ZLtVIk8o]

It falls into the 2000's bro-isms of BADASS DUDES AND SEXY BABES but many miss and feel nostalgia for that today. It's fun and unrestricted, there's no self-conscious insecurity that we see so much of currently. There's a lot of humour in the game, much of which is visual and doesn't beat you over the head - remember that recent justin roiland game High on Life with the talking gun? 
Here's a good example:
 [Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jot5kuGtjJY]

A lot of the game's nostalgia is rooted in the seemingly infinite game modes (and many now extinct: Story Co-op and Arcade) with levels in various historical and geographical settings. It's easy these were my most played games of the decade. 


[Image: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-B0giNMF3bL4/VZ...erfect.jpg]
#4
American games destined for console were in general horrendous looking for some reason. One wonders why a talented dev group like Looking Glass, which made games like the first two instalments of Thief and the first Deus Ex, went onto creating this mess once they set their sights to consoles:

[Image: https://files.catbox.moe/q34ype.jpg]
[Image: https://files.catbox.moe/1n7wy4.jpg]

Compare that with the visually sleek and serious Deus Ex. A sequel that looked worse in every aspect despite the higher polygon count, high-fidelity textures and real time shadows. Hell of an unpleasant game to look at, and worse at every other aspect too. Then you go back to Thief and it's still a visual masterpiece to this day. American developers (and some Europeans to some extent) just forwent their aesthetic sensibilities and went full retard once the execs wanted the product to be primarily destined to be a console game. Even your beloved Halo looks silly and garish to me (and you're gonna freak out at me for suggesting these words, but I didn't grew up with it and therefore I haven't nostalgia for it). You go from Marathon to some kind of depiction of war visually palatable for kids. In the end it all comes down to this: the westerner can't simply take seriously certain forms of art, be it cartoons or console gaming. Unlike the Japanese mind which sees potential in every medium, the Westerner tends to dismiss a priori certain avenues of expression. The reason for this I don't know, and I wonder if it was something that happened in the later part of the 20th century as we all know that western cartoons weren't always this unfathomably ugly display of bipedal monstrosities combined with downright criminal understanding of color theory. I'm gonna personally blame grunge music for my headcanon, as the visual degradation of non-pretentious fields started with the Gen-Xers.
#5
(03-27-2023, 10:12 AM)Illustrious Wrote: American games destined for console were in general horrendous looking for some reason. One wonders why a talented dev group like Looking Glass, which made games like the first two instalments of Thief and the first Deus Ex, went onto creating this mess once they set their sights to consoles:

[Image: https://files.catbox.moe/q34ype.jpg]
[Image: https://files.catbox.moe/1n7wy4.jpg]

Compare that with the visually sleek and serious Deus Ex. A sequel that looked worse in every aspect despite the higher polygon count, high-fidelity textures and real time shadows. Hell of an unpleasant game to look at, and worse at every other aspect too. Then you go back to Thief and it's still a visual masterpiece to this day. American developers (and some Europeans to some extent) just forwent their aesthetic sensibilities and went full retard once the execs wanted the product to be primarily destined to be a console game. Even your beloved Halo looks silly and garish to me (and you're gonna freak out at me for suggesting these words, but I didn't grew up with it and therefore I haven't nostalgia for it). You go from Marathon to some kind of depiction of war visually palatable for kids. In the end it all comes down to this: the westerner can't simply take seriously certain forms of art, be it cartoons or console gaming. Unlike the Japanese mind which sees potential in every medium, the Westerner tends to dismiss a priori certain avenues of expression. The reason for this I don't know, and I wonder if it was something that happened in the later part of the 20th century as we all know that western cartoons weren't always this unfathomably ugly display of bipedal monstrosities combined with downright criminal understanding of color theory. I'm gonna personally blame grunge music for my headcanon, as the visual degradation of non-pretentious fields started with the Gen-Xers.

They knew western consolefags are more likely to be retarded so they appealed to the lowest common denominator I suppose.
#6
I'm glad 3D modelling and the ugly look of this era of American console games has come up. It's something I've talked through with people before, and I think the best insights came from our own PIGSAW, who will hopefully join this thread at some point. I don't claim to be representing him here, just drawing on things that came up when we discussed this.

This was an absolutely hideous era for American video games. I don't think anybody would contest that. They couldn't really make people look good, and their general tastes and inclinations leaned plastic and garish. Lots of weird painted clay faced blowup doll people in toonworld. The above Deus Ex: Invisible War characters are a good example of what I mean.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/9G2pPnX/image.png]

The problem appears to be one of shaping. A heavy sculpted feel which brings to mind clay. You can almost feel the hands of a creator physically molding these features. The trend that I see here is in how Americans fundamentally see questions of graphics and representing things in virtual space. American developers like first person games, PCs, tech, tend to be more into the craft than the vision. Maybe you see where I'm going already. They see virtual people as 3D objects, and go about making them the same way they would a chair or a crate. You figure how many polygons and whatever you have to work with, how it's meant to look, then you hammer it into shape and put it in. Someone said here recently that the Source Engine might be the peak of photorealism in games. I believe that there is a kind of visceral real feel that Source can achieve despite its rough and uncanny aspects, and that this comes down to how uncompromisingly 3D it is.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/CBYRcpJ/image.png]

The ambition of a great deal of Western "video game" development is to immerse people in virtual spaces. Create a space of substance and rules and put things in it, then contrive a reason to set something in there people will pay attention to. Nothing inherently wrong with that. Valve did great things with this working model and approach. I believe that this approach is behind this distinct look that so many western games had, and still have to some degree, though the transition to face scanning and the ability to simply spam more polygons evolved the issue. And that's a very American answer to the issue. If something looks wrong it's because the virtual world needs more work. More power and more sophisticated rules and systems running underneath. The fidelity of the actors scales with the power of the simulation. Because these characters are 3D props in a 3D world.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/HH93JGB/image.png]

Things looked a bit weird and uncanny in American console-land. We can all agree. Strange uncanny 3D prop people.

Meanwhile, Japanese people working with the same hardware.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/KWVxZNc/image.png] (sorry if this is upscaled, but you get the point. This isn't about pixel resolution.)

The Japanese stuff just looks so nice by comparison. Some of you who know your games might recognise that this is a fighting game character. You know what that means. Only two substantial character models on screen at once on a simple flat plane. These games are arguably inferior technical achievements, as the japanese do not create balanced and well behaved rule-abiding 3D spaces to set their games within. What they do instead is create just enough 3D stuff to do the particular job they're on, realise the particular vision.

American video games are largely made in California. Silicon Valley connection. STEM. It's a tech project. This is how we got the perennial American video game problem of craft outpacing vision. To many Americans making games the craft was the vision. A more consistent and expansive higher fidelity 3D virtual space, which is experienced through some first person narrative that maximises immersion to better appreciate the thing. People ask why Half Life 2 had gay little see-saw physics puzzles. It's because that was the point. Yes the Half-Life 2 narrative experience turned out to be pretty nifty, but the fact they put that part of the project aside afterwards should tell you what kind of people these are.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/w0gWDvB/image.png] (This is Valve's great work, not the ongoing presentation of humanity's struggle with the Combine. The Combine serve the see-saw, not the other way around.)

If Americans are STEM guys who want to make their little virtual realities full of little 3D objects increasingly real and solid, what are the Japanese?

I believe that the Japanese are half toymakers and half multimedia artists. Key difference is that Japan does not really have anything comparable to Silicon Valley STEM culture. There are no really substantial Japanese projects led by and composed entirely of guys who just want to see what stuff they can make work. When the Japanese start making something, they have a vision they're out to realise. And again, toymakers and multimedia artists. They're going to make something fun, or it's going to be expressive. A true artist is a multimedia artist and a multimedia artist thinks laterally. They look at the world as full of potential tools. Whether through experimentation or purposeful application of craft what emerges from their efforts will be personal.

More relevant to this issue, Japan has many multimedia artists. What does that mean for video games? It means that while in America they make virtual spaces and systems and and then do stuff within them, the Japanese have ideas to express and visions to realise, and they come across the ability to create virtual spaces and systems, and see this as a potential tool. American sees virtual space as an end. Japanese sees virtual space as a means.

When American creates a character, he creates a grounded and functioning piece of a virtual world. Focus on virtual physicality, a sense of real. As touchable as the crates lining the wall.

When Japanese creates a character... he has a mental image. A vision. This image is two dimensional. It is consciously constructed as something which will be observed on a screen. They have the image they want to realise. Then they create the 3D world and models which will at any given moment be a tool to realise this sequence of images. Rather than something three dimensional made to function three dimensionally, it's something three dimensional made to be observed like an image.

Here's a gallery of Heather from Silent Hill 3. A game which came out in 2003.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/w6LZg2H/1674720881107735.png]


[Image: https://i.ibb.co/z5YjX8z/1674639087637240.png]

And here's Vincent from the same game. I think the above uncropped image is important to get the point. Look at how deliberate it looks. Not only is it a good looking depiction of a man. It's a good image. This could be a manga panel or a shot from an anime. Nice colour, nice somewhat ominous feel to the character, good incorporation of subtitles as additional media rather than a purely functional tool. I don't just think the characters look better and that's it here. I think that the fundamental way these characters look as opposed to their American counterparts is a reflection of a completely different approach to the same tools. Completely different possibilities seen within them.

Heather and Vincent are two dimensional images realised in 3D space. Alyx Vance and the Deus Ex people are three dimensional beings inhabiting three dimensional space.

This more general tendency of Americans to design high fidelity 3D dimensional spaces and behaviours extends beyond looks to explain what kinds of games each side makes and why. The western fascination with first person I believe is obviously downstream from this. It's how you get immersed in a virtual space which exists for its own sake. Whereas the Japanese only tend to use first person for very particular effect. Of course this gets more complicated after 2010 and massive refinement of audience-capturing trends and expansion of potential audiences. Another thread maybe. Last thing I want to say, when they have a reason to I think the japanese are not bad at all at building complex rules and physicality based virtual spaces. Dead Rising and Breath of the Wild, two of my favourite games, did this incredibly. Unsurpassed even. Valve got comfortable. Nintendo built their own see-saw. And theirs was embedded within a personal and creative vision of the world, rather than a tool for STEM-nerds to use to create skinner boxes and pseudo-MMOs to waste the time of third worlders.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/VYR2Wg4/image.png]
#7
There seems to have been some sort of video game extension of the detestable '90s "gross-out" design in animation aimed at very young audiences. No idea why - I am fundamentally *not* a westerner, though similar tendencies of excess caricature to the point of grotesque seems to also have been a thing in the Warsaw Pact too (by now most have noticed that Twitter user who posts old commie era cartoons - most of them experiments and animators showing off) - but this can be blamed on Communism wanting to get rid of anything beautiful.

Some developers would tone it down, though, thankfully. I was always struck at how ugly and terrible character art looked like in GTA 3 - "what the fuck, nobody looks like this" I thought. But later GTA games eliminated this atrocity, thankfully.

Worst of all, in nearly all cases, there was no discernible reason for everyone to look like a freak in these games like Jak and Daxter, apart from some deranged thought that "hmm kids will like this."

A game that defies this yet utilizes such an aesthetic somewhat is American McGee's Alice - in the "real world" everyone looks pretty normal, if plastic, but that is a consequence of technical limitations of the time. Most of the game will be spent battling against horribly ugly abominations, but in that case, it makes sense - you're viewing the rich inner world of a truly *profoundly* mentally disturbed individual. And though the game might be considered a part of that coalish trend of "oooh what if children's classic but evil and demented oooo" it was a pretty good game, with an unique style and "soul."

On the other hand, the later 2000s trend of making everyone look "more realistic" by sanding their face into a smoothened approximation of a person is completely and utterly inexcusable - the initial sign of increasing "bloat" of the Western video game industry.
Video 
#8
To expand the topic of this thread beyond its original scope of video games, I present a few more 2000s cultural trends.

Blatant Trashiness and Filth
The 2000s (and somewhat the 1990s as well) in America may go down in history as one of the filthiest and most decadent eras in human history. Not only were they the latter half of (and thus the culmination of) America's latest Unraveling period (in Strauss and Howe's historical scheme), but they were also the Unraveling period that occurred at the tail end of (and thus, once again, the culmination of) the West's Age of Money (in Spengler's historical scheme). The ultimate generational age of decadence, within the ultimate civilizational age of decadence, within a nation that is an unusually weird and exceptional offshoot of one of the more weirdness-obsessed civilizations of humanity (this video is extremely important to understanding the American fixation with weirdness, margins, and exceptions - the Westerner likes infinite possibilities, the Japanese likes approaching the fixed ideal of the Mountain and the Sun) - it was a perfect storm of decadence. Let us examine a few cases of this.

Limp Bizkit
[Image: https://thenewfury.com/wp-content/upload...851780.jpg]
Probably the poster child of embarrassing (at least by Norwood standards) 2000s music. It seems to me that the 2000s were a time when American society collectively decided to let urban and suburban white trash dictate broad musical tastes, and I think that Limp Bizkit is a great embodiment of this.

In true 2000s spirit, their most famous album has a cover that is a mixture of intentional (the designs and themes) and unintentional (the text placement and font) ugliness:
[Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/e..._Water.jpg]

I briefly got into this sort of music (along with Korn, Rob Zombie, etc.) when I was an angsty retarded 17-year-old; my rationalization was that it was "underworld music," the kind of stuff that cool goblins or demons in Haedes would play. I think that this played on my own distorted tastes and preference for ugliness (now embodied by my obsession with Primus).

Eminem
Now we have King of the Trailer Trash, Eminem. I will admit that I like(d) a few of his songs, but he is clearly a phenomenon of an age of decadence. As society has become more moralistic, collectivist, and socialist in the new Caesarist Crisis era post-2008, his cultural relevance has nosedived.
[Image: https://www.rollingstone.com/wp-content/...emLead.jpg]
Looking at pictures of him reminds of this Sam Hyde quote talking about Hasan Piker:

Quote:"Do you ever see people with deep-set alligator eyes? You know that they're a criminal; 'I know you're a criminal because your eyes are deep in your head and I know you're going to commit crime', there's just some people where you go 'I'm your genetic enemy somehow, we are destined to do battle,' that's what I see when I see Hasan Piker.


Insane Clown Posse
No survey of 2000s trailer trash music would be complete without a mention of Insane Clown Posse, who along with their fans (called "Juggaloes") may have been one of the biggest acceptable targets of 2000s media, especially online. This is because their music sucks, their brand and image is actively and aggressively ugly, and they appeal to a Celto-Slavic urban Lumpenprole demographic (these three factors are interrelated, of course).
[Image: https://www.billboard.com/wp-content/upl...623&crop=1]
[Image: https://media2.houstonpress.com/hou/imag...1108.0.jpg]
[Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c...701%29.jpg]
We can also see a lot of overlap with Emo and Goth styles, 2000s fashion and music trends which I may write more on at a later time. And what is it with the whole "demonic circus" shtick? I suspect that Anthony's analysis of the Warehouse Man applies well here, and that these are angry and impotent surrogate activities for born losers. "My life sucks and I have no aspirations, so I'm going to wear a Cannibal Corpse T-shirt as a fuck-you to the world and a conscious embrace of my own trashiness as an intentional identity."

I have always loved this ancient Mister Metokur video about Juggaloes:[Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJlgwu-H...LW&index=1]

Spike TV Video Games Awards
Someone (@Verlion?) in the shoutbox mentioned the Spike TV Video Game Awards, and how they hated the objectification of women on there. The 2000s were certainly an unashamedly hornier, sluttier, and more promiscuous time in America. Even "free love" (does anyone even try to use that term anymore?) libtards are open prudes compared to this.

Check out 11:00 lol. The commentary is really something else.
[Video: https://youtu.be/BP0wNetaHX8?t=660]

[Image: https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/vida-gue...885700.jpg]
cf. Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears. Dirty, dirty whores.

The difference between 2000s harlotry and what we have today is that modern Crisis-era "sluttiness" is entirely moralistic and performative. First off, few if anyone who is promoted for it is actually attractive, unlike the babes seen above. Second, it is promoted for entirely moralistic and ethical reasons, not simply because Sex Sells. Today public slutiness either has to have some feminist woman-empowerment angle (e.g. "slutwalks," anti-slut shaming, etc.) or is an attempt to uplift some sort of obviously hideous and inferior group of hominids as the new standard of beauty (i.e. ugly disgusting niggers shaking their disgusting obese rears, cf. Nikki Minaj, Cardi B, Megan Thee [sic] Stallion, any number of other ugly, interchangeable, mystery meat demons).

The WWE Attitude Era
But what would Late Republican decadence be without some gladiatorial fights? The 2000s were also known as the peak of the proudly crass, rude, and in-your-face Attitude Era of the WWE, probably the cultural peak of professional wrestling. Such a "sport," built entirely off of spectacle and drama, is truly built for a free, rebellious, and dangerous Unraveling era and can only hope to flounder and wither in the moralistic climate of a Crisis, giving us few if any compelling figures outside of the distinctly un-Attitude, wholesome, moral, Captain America-esque John Cena. Cena really would fit right in in FDR's America.
[Image: https://img.bleacherreport.net/img/image...=1200&q=75]
[Image: https://cdn3.whatculture.com/images/2016...I7FEHo.png]
[Image: https://www.the-sun.com/wp-content/uploa...000&crop=1]

This is a good video to explain the appeal of professional wrestling from a fan's retrospective perspective.

[Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnvSs3HEz2o]






The candle that burns twice as bright burns only half at most
My eyes are growing weary as I finalize this post
So sit back and have a cup of Joe, and watch the wheels go 'round
'Cause these damn blue-collar tweekers, they have always run this town!

I hope that this can spark some additional discussion and input from you all. Subsequent posts will include an overview and analysis of Bush-era schizophrenic liberalism, which I think is probably embodied by the persistent ramblings of this dour-faced New England Yankee basterd, Chris Hedges:
[Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/e...scists.jpg]
These people really did live in another world. This sort of nonsense lives on in the terrified imaginations of libtards today in the form of voter-agitating drivel like The Handmaid's Tale.

Other key images upon which I shall expand:
[Image: https://images-cdn.9gag.com/photo/avQn5OO_700b.jpg][Image: https://i.imgur.com/HJajghN.png]

At this time, eccentric online Gen X and Millennial Democrats strongly overlapped with Alex Jones-type conspiracy theorists...

[Image: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FVFbWfzXsAEeYaz.jpg]
...although memes of this sort always had a right-wing tinge to them.
#9
(04-03-2023, 01:12 AM)JohnnyRomero Wrote: [Image: https://thenewfury.com/wp-content/upload...851780.jpg]

Oh God, I see it now. I understand why this happened.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/N6jnyyq/image.png]

I completely forgot that it was a cool 2000s thing to have retarded patch of hair on your chin. God these games were so mercilessly cynical. Full Jak2 post will be written when I feel ready to go back to that dark time.
#10
In this era I like to look at the refined character of the opponents of Bush era liberals esp the crusaders of Iraq and Afghanistan, as they acted as a foil towards the parts now fondly remembered by hedonists and nostalgic look backs.
This is a 06 video(now reaching its 17th anniversary) of Blackwater in Iraq with quite the soundtrack, to the actions of the escort teams within
[Video: https://youtu.be/xm6hC2oW5P8]

Or this ad from Halliburton which in 30 seconds sums up what the suburban man who voted for Bush values in the a truly kino matter
[Video: https://youtu.be/G2Q-89tAV34]

Maybe its my fascination with losers(Halliburton latter scrubbed this ad series from existence to name just one way these sort of mores entered a ditch) but I consider this material valuable to look at, everything from John Stuart to Newgrounds flash punch bush games was a reaction to their output or what people claimed was their plan for society. And what a sight it is! In sum, ZOG's most loyal & honorable opposition.
[Image: https://i.imgur.com/3RVIe13.gif]

“Power changes its appearance but not its reality.”― Bertrand De Jouvenel
#11
(04-03-2023, 01:12 AM)JohnnyRomero Wrote: To expand the topic of this thread beyond its original scope of video games, I present a few more 2000s cultural trends.

Blatant Trashiness and Filth
The 2000s (and somewhat the 1990s as well)...

Fantastic post fren. Yes, it was I who mentioned the degeneracy of the Spike TV VGA.
This may be outside the scope of this thread, but I would just like to mention the sort of 'specificity' that is endemic to the current 2000s nostalgia observed within my/our Zoomer generation: that being it seems highly relegated to around 2007-2010 (or even extending beyond the 'calendar decade' into the end of the 'cultural decade' with say, 2007/8-2012). It seems the early 2000s is a cultural blackhole that no one wants to relive.
#12
It feels like now we have a trans-heart nigger revival of this exact embrace of trashiness with personalities like Ethan Klein and so on. It was bad enough the first time around, imagine fat gross Ethan and his scarecrow wife in some argument with their G4/Spike TV predecessors, moralizing to them. It's surreal to even think about. 

Incidentally shows like Pawn Stars were the last vestiges of this living on into the 2010s.
#13
(04-03-2023, 01:38 AM)anthony Wrote: Oh God, I see it now. I understand why this happened.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/N6jnyyq/image.png]

I completely forgot that it was a cool 2000s thing to have retarded patch of hair on your chin. God these games were so mercilessly cynical. Full Jak2 post will be written when I feel ready to go back to that dark time.

This look survives among certain Mexicans. Go to any given Mexican restaurant in your area and I guarantee you will see beaners styled like this:
[Image: https://i.discogs.com/ZSbV-XMyXg57xoKr9J...nBlZw.jpeg]
#14
Again, it seems like this trashiness of the early 2000s was a mere extension of the "counter-culture" influences of the 90s...

A world perceived as some sort of mechanized and sterile hellscape (just the more meticulous and clean side of the Longhouse btw, dominated by skeletal withered middle aged women with raspy voices) resulted in a counter of a deliberately trashy, "free-spirited," pseudo-barbarian sort of faux-masculinized culture (just the dirtier, filthier Longhouse dominated by younger but far more degenerate women that would become comically obese as time went on - the classic Longhouse)
#15
(04-03-2023, 10:54 AM)Svevlad Wrote: Again, it seems like this trashiness of the early 2000s was a mere extension of the "counter-culture" influences of the 90s...

A world perceived as some sort of mechanized and sterile hellscape (just the more meticulous and clean side of the Longhouse btw, dominated by skeletal withered middle aged women with raspy voices) resulted in a counter of a deliberately trashy, "free-spirited," pseudo-barbarian sort of faux-masculinized culture (just the dirtier, filthier Longhouse dominated by younger but far more degenerate women that would become comically obese as time went on - the classic Longhouse)

It seems to match the Unraveling-era phenomenon of middle-aged Prophet-archetype Baby Boomers (e.g. Tipper Gore, Hillary Clinton, Pat Robertson, etc.) railing against the rebellious young Nomad-archetype Generation X and thus creating a moral crisis. It seems like the 2000s were the apotheosis of the rebellious Gen Xers of the 90s.
#16
(04-03-2023, 01:12 AM)JohnnyRomero Wrote: ...

This post unshackled thousands of unwanted memories in my system. Living through the hellish past decade enough had made me forget how truly awful the 00's were.  It's no surprise my favorite memories of childhood revolved around playing outside, spending time with my father, playing with toys, Newgrounds, the Star Wars prequels, and Japanese media such as video games from Nintendo and some anime.  Besides the last three, those activities are timeless and could be applied anywhere, almost everything unique to the 00's decade in the West was complete garbage.

Admittedly, I hold a soft spot for some media I didn't outright dislike, such as some of the metal music and old WWE, but would I consider them my favourite?  Not ever, though at least it was more tolerable than the Niggerworld garbage we have to deal with, if there's even any difference.  Most of the cartoons as a child were awful, I could only tolerate some of the earlier shows from Cartoon Network or Spongebob, anything else was older schlock that I would admit now looks and is retarded, but at least wasn't obnoxiously offensive like most media is today.  I could imagine myself making something better out of it.

Nearly everything I despise stems from my innate disgust at the world I grew up in as a sensitive young child, especially after we moved.  Fat people, rap "music", graphic tees, punks, tryhards, faggots, retards, wiggers, and especially niggers.  Sure, not as much blatant display of homosexuality or misused "politics" as the 10's, but the proud display of vulgarity and trash polluting everything it touched is not something I can look away from.  Having moved from an idyllic countryside to a nigger-infested urban shithole at the height of the decade certainly made a mark on me that'll never go away.  I had actually wished for another 9/11 because of how much I hated everything.

My parents stuck to older music including rock and metal, though they made concessions to some of the newer music, a little bit of Limp Bizkit but no farther than that, my parents drew a line against "wigger shit" as they eloquently put it.  My father in particular held great disgust at this society but I felt he was as willing a participant as any other.

Instead, I always felt enamoured at reading history books, fantasy or science fiction, or watching old movies with my father, where I could see societies far more beautiful and purposeful than the one we currently live in now.  The men and women dressed elegantly, looked beautiful, and acted far more gracefully than anyone living in the nigger-salivating trash heap that was the past few decades.  When my father told me about the culture we descend from, I felt a true belonging to our nation and its history, and not the embarrassment that it is now.  It had inspired me to know that there was a better way, a hope that could salvage us from this nightmare.



If you want to know a great example of the 00's decade in my mind, there is nothing better than Idiocracy by Gen X's beloved Mike Judge.  It's a silly movie honestly, but it captures everything about the decade to me, as well as the necessity of eugenics.  Obesity, trash, vulgarity, foul iconography, horrible graphic tees, brown people, niggers and wiggers, annoying music, retards, poor people, you name it.  Looking at that world makes you wish a nuclear war would happen any minute to clear it all out.

[Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPD0srSiOFE]

It's one of the few pieces of dystopian fiction that depicts the dread that I felt during my childhood, the eternal 00's time trap.  Everything here is disgusting just like the decade it was made in.
If there was anything that convinced me that Adolf Hitler was right, it would be the past thirty years.
#17
(04-03-2023, 07:23 PM)Guest Wrote: ...

Excellent post, dear Guestfriend. Pray make an account and stick around a while, we could use more quality posters like this.

I might write another thread about Mike Judge. I think that he is an interesting figure in that he is the closest thing there is to a single Avatar of the Spirit of Generation X. I can't think of any other comparable figures for his generation or even any others. It certainly must be significant if one man happens to rise to fame as the distillation of the broad attitude and spirit of an entire generation, and it would be interesting to track the collective lifespan of Gen X through his works - childhood and youth as Beavis and Butt-Head, early career as Office Space, marriage and family life as King of the Hill, and middle-aged disgust at and resignation from the world as Idiocracy.
#18
Jak 2: Unrelenting Ugliness

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/LptQscg/image.png]
[Image: https://i.ibb.co/gdKWsTJ/image.png]

It's time.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/WzG4BDL/image.png]

New 2000s California 'toon game. New Hulk Feet.

Before getting into anything too particular I'd like to talk about the general look and tone of this thing based on a few images. These are (mostly) screenshots taken by me during the first couple of minutes of the game. We get about 30 seconds at the nice natural colourful islands from the first game, then we're thrown into this new reality. The natural idyll is gone, replaced with harsh, entirely man made environments. We're no longer on a whimsical adventure with friends. The above line is Jak's first line in the series. We're gonna kill Praxis.

This game came out in 2003. The kids are playing GTA3 and Halo. Some games can maintain their niche appeal and audiences just fine (pretty much all Japanese ones), but California STEM games are in trouble. Nobody wants to play Crash, Spyro, or Scrimblo Bimblo anymore. Cool ideas have been had. Regurgitating Shigeru Miyamoto's 20 year old ideas isn't going to cut it anymore. If you're Naughty Dog what do you do..? Obviously... you regurgitate GTA3 and Halo back to the people, on the bones of your existing work.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/T1Xxgc8/image.png]

Skipping ahead a bit to show you the basic state of the game. Driving cars around streets with guns in our pockets, cops patrolling, a little minimap with an icon pointing to our next 'Mission'.

If there's one word to describe this game, it's Cynical. The way Naughty Dog behave now is absolutely disgusting, a gangbusters striving for both commercial and "critical" success at all costs. But there's no reason to be surprised at that. They're just doing what they did with Jak2 in response to a more advanced (in badness) culture. Nothing they've thrown together here actually works very well at all. But it's all good enough for their audience. PS2 owners who like "video games" in general, who still impulsively buy things with mascots on the boxes, who will think "woah, cool, it's better now" if that mascot glowers, has a gun, and is dressed like Fred Durst.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/7vNgZ6v/image.png]

Back to initial aesthetic impressions (I'm actually reading back what I was writing while playing as I get these screenshots, so I can read what I said on the spot), the characters are still 'toon people, the world is still made of 'toon parts and conventions, but the intention is no longer 'toon. Naughty Dog are in the awkward spot of trying to make something shallowly edgy and cool out of designs and direction which were made for something like Crash Bandicoot. This opening prison/industrial place we're in is meant to look evil and imposing, but it's made out of toon parts. Giant pipes, glowing cores, green gas vents. This looks like a Banjo Kazooie level.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/BGhCWSc/image.png]

And as for Jak and Daxter themselves, they look technically better. They're far more detailed here, far less jagged. But I said technically better. This is half a question of design. I obviously don't like nu-metal Jak. But Daxter is also less enjoyable now. His rounded out and more fluidly moving features lend themselves far less readily to cartoonish exaggeration, which was likely deliberate as he barely acts like a cartoon in this game. The higher level of detail and fidelity probably just wouldn't have looked right doing cartoonish expressions and gestures. He has the odd moment of entertaining bodily movement, but still less fun than Jak 1, and his face is barely expressive at all. You probably just can't manically distort these features like you could his old ones and get an effect that works. Daxter carried the first game with his expressiveness and physical presence. He's still here with us again all game, but he's nowhere near as fun. His presence is almost entirely vocal. His weakest point by far, but the one which could be worked most readily into the game's new direction.

I used the screenshot above not just for a clear look at their visual designs, the posing and context also perfectly lay out where we're at going forward. Jak is angry, brooding, talking about the darkness within.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/xqPcS8R/image.png]

If you were conscious during the early 2000s this might feel familiar.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/sb9gRFs/image.png]

Again, very cynical. The Darkness Jak is talking about above is his 'Dark Jak' power. Which is allegedly having effects upon his character but these games have always been paper-thin on story and characterisation. What it means is Naughty Dog are able to put the 'Twisted Fucking Psychopath' mirrored evil half image in their marketing material.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/P41kPQ3/image.png]

Someone on this forum once considered making Dark Jak into a meme, I think the idea still has legs. How about you guys?

When the discussing the above image and the culture around this stuff a thought that came up was that this is what the PS2 was to most Americans who played it and have memories of the good times. These are not Final Fantasy X and ICO people. PS2 was about Ratchet & Clank and Jak & Daxter. Again to the point of the thread, this was a horrible, horrible time for popular culture. I would say a time solely redeemed by Japanese works having a global presence which some were able to appreciate. If you look at a chart full of "best of the PS2' titles or something like that things might have looked pretty good. But you were surrounded by people who sincerely enjoyed Jak2, and who interpreted every Japanese game they happened to buy as more Jak2. You could personally do all right if you knew better, but this was not a good moment for gaming in the west. You may have seen the clips doing the rounds of 2000s "gamer culture" media. Tv shows were gross, stupid Americans call Japanese games stupid, whiny, angsty, get excited about how cool Gears of War looks, sell Halo 3 to people who didn't play the other two, etc. The PS2's Japanese catalogue was pearls before swine for the most part.

Now back to Jak2.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/425WnwR/image.png]

Daxter's face here about says it. Against all expectations I really enjoyed Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. I downloaded Jak2 with a bit of goodwill built up alongside apprehensions about the general look of the thing. About 5 minutes in by the time I reached this scene I imagine I looked exactly like Daxter above.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/pWh7wXt/image.png]

After the initial playing sequence in which we run, jump, and punch our way through a stupid ugly Banjo Kazooie factory, like the first game but hideous and linear, we're in an alley. And this stupid looking wise wizard guy tells us to guy find our first Grand Theft Auto job-dispenser guy. This game is like grand theft auto, as a tasteless kid in the 2000s would say. You see back then we didn't have transexuals on youtube to give us theory. We didn't know what an open-world game was. If your game was big, and let you fuck around as long as you wanted rather than being forced to do particular things all the time, it was like grand theft auto. Not a grandtheftlike. Or a theftbornevania. Just "Like Grand Theft Auto."

Now how well does this game be "like grand theft auto"? I would say good enough for a tasteless PS2 kid of the early-mid 2000s. Obviously I hated it, but I understand I'm hard to please. Let me describe it. We get told to find this particular guy. We're dropped in the city. NPCs who are a mix of guards and nobodies are just walking around aimlessly in circles spawning and despawning as we move around. The city is built like a series of straight paths with nowhere to really go but forward, and nothing to do on the ground, no real reason to do anything but beeline from relevant point to relevant point. Of course I'm not saying every game needs 500 baubles and nothings to pick up behind every corner. "More content". My point is that if something is boring, empty, and has no positive reason for existing, I don't like it.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/RB257xL/image.png]

Here's a map I found just for a quick reference. You see how it looks like the interior of a building. Feels very tight and choked up. You spend a fair bit of time in these streets. Not a lot, as your "missions" tend to be in more detailed, smaller environments, but a decent amount. And the feeling the whole way through is that it feels like racing game scenery. Every wall is a painted facade. Street life is an illusion that falls apart at a touch. The only way to engage with it is to look at it, move through it, or punch random people. It's less alive than the Lego Star Wars hub.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/jh6wLG5/image.png]

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/ZYjxLnm/image.png]

Like Jak1 there's a decent amount of stuff on screen. It's cool you can see the tower from the streets (you go there later and the view from the top is a high point of the game), but this is after Grand Theft Auto. The streets are just a flat plane where stock characters aimlessly wander around doing nothing. It's a series of giant hallways and rooms that all look like this and have as little going on that you have to constantly race through to get from "mission" to "mission". There is stuff to do in between, "side missions" where you do boring video game stuff in these streets. Checkpoint races and such. If you've done this in one game you've done it in all of them. But then that's basically everything about this game. Stock video game parts just stacked up end to end painted cool 'toon to entertain American PS2 spastics.

Enough about my contempt for the PS2 owning cattle I grew up surrounded by a moment. Back to the game.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/tQCQyv3/image.png]

First "mission". We have to get a flag from an empty abandoned building for "The Resistance", who are led by this tattooed guy who treats us like an asshole for no good reason while we do everything for him. Typical 2000s video game. I screenshotted this moment because Daxter's graceless falling in this scene was a moment of levity in what was quickly becoming an otherwise completely joyless experience. Look at this fun little orange guy falling down, and then everything around him. We're in a dump, everyone else looks like a tool. And there's a horrible sense of place compared to the first game. In Jak1 places look decent and make sense to just intuitively move through doing everything you're meant to. By contrast this game had me constantly checking my gay video game pause screen map because everything outdoors feels like arbitrarily dumped clutter on top of islands of mass.

The first game is about collecting glowing baubles that are all over the place. This game made it plain why games used to do that. Because a game about just moving through 3D space using rules and mechanics made to be simple enough for kids to have a handle on is really boring.


[Video: https://youtu.be/u_--FH5iGCk?t=809]

This whole section starts at 13:29 if the timestamp doesn't work. Just pain.

From here we spend a lot of time just doing video game stuff. And the game is basically Crash Bandicoot with a semi-cooperative gun that can only auto-aim.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/rwKHgJS/image.png]

Everything continues to be ugly and horrible for no real reason.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/hDfTLXf/image.png]

Daxter doesn't get to do anything actually fun and has to instead just talk like this all game. Look at his face, how the features are far more sensible in their proportions and move in more grounded ways, what is the point of this? It's technically better animation maybe. But now you've just spent more to animate your orange rodent sidekick have mundane conversations to justify going into a sewer to punch goblins for 15 minutes for the sixth time in the game up to this point. Everything is ugly and less fun. There's more apparent technical effort on the production end to frame something which is ultimately not only visionless, but almost entirely in bad taste, and not even a display of good craft. The sterile, utilitarian bare animation of these scenes is probably the best executed thing about the whole game. And it's entirely in service of things I hate.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/jrbJ59X/image.png]

Game goes on. We're in places that look like this punching and shooting goblins to move the pointless plot a step forward each time. Does looking at this image make you feel depressed? If so, imagine playing it for hours on end. Again just a horrible sense of place out here. Sandy islands and Banjo Kazooie machinery on top. Just move across these flat spaces shooting goblins. I wanted to bring it up somewhere and here will do. The game's difficulty.


Quote:Criticisms were given to Jak II's shortage of mission checkpoints and overall difficulty. As Naughty Dog developer Josh Scherr once admitted: "One thing that everybody can agree on though, is that the game is just way too fucking hard."[14]


"Hard" is not the word I would use exactly. The game is very simple, but failure is very punishing. You can't take much damage before dying and lots of levels have instant death falls. Stuff like this isn't really a challenge of more than your ability to focus against boredom or frustration. It feels less like a challenge more like the game being an asshole punishing you for not respecting it. Lots of last guy in a room shooting you dead with his last shot before you got to him, now you have to go back five minutes because you couldn't be bothered taking the last mob of goblins seriously.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/q5wwQwd/image.png]

The first game was a constant fast paced succession of novelty, nice looking things, notable progress, and a great sense of moving through space. By contrast this game is doing tedious chores in a handful of ugly and dreary locales over and over again. This is me trying to find better looking moments. Daxter sitting on Jak's shoulder smiling while he has that stupid gun is still somewhat funny. And I didn't get a great image of it but the funniest image in the game by far is Daxter holding and firing Jak's guns for him while Jak drives a vehicle.

You can try to find nice moments, but even when they take a good idea out of the cultural moment Naughty Dog/Americans just make it all into ugly garbage eventually. It's their instinct. 'Toon is the form the American soul is drawn towards constant realisation of. Like the Japanese with the anime girl. Naughty Dog looked at the elves from Lodoss War and ended up turning the design into nu-metal Johnny Test within two iterations. An ember of humanity left in the American soul forces them to recognise that Lodoss War and Final Fantasy 7 are beautiful (see OP for reference images), and then give the ideas a few years to branch off and be iterated upon in the American imagination and look what comes of it.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/6RFTS72/image.png]

"Nailed it."

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/LvHShVZ/image.png]

So much of what goes on here one could say feels aged. I don't believe that media simply ages as time passes. Lodoss War and Final Fantasy 7 didn't age like this. I believe that I have the phenomena figured out. Something which is personal, and means something to the people who made it cannot be entirely surpassed, or rendered outdated. As a crystallised expression of a human spirit (or spirits) it is timeless. I wrote about this recently under a youtube video about Evergrace (just a gameplay clip). I may just copy that comment here.


Quote:Absolutely adore Evergrace. Had fun reading your description and observing your simple engagement with the thing. In an age where "good gameplay" has become a nearly perfectly refined and sterile science, there's no longer any reason to care about the stuff anymore. All old "gameplay" is now rendered primitive striving towards the refined forms achieved by modern service-games designed to provide optimally enjoyable "play" experience forever. "Gameplay" ages, Vision does not. And Evergrace is still one of the most striking visions ever realised in a piece of multimedia that got sold as a "video game". 

There's a comment under this video calling Evergrace one of the worst games released for the PS2. I just finished playing a game widely considered one of the best. Jak 2. I found it absolutely putrid. I understand that there is appeal there, but it's all novelty. One can enjoy it, but not appreciate it. It was a cynical attempt at superficially pleasing as many people as possible. Looked back upon from 2023 with fresh eyes it looks absurd, cynical, and outdated. The appeal is all in impersonal and meaningless play which has been studied and iterated upon time and again since the thing's release. Up to date "Gameplay" and timely notions of "cool" (mass appeal). What am I going to enjoy? It's dumb, vapid, rooted in trends, has no strong vision of its own. No real justification for its existence now that sleeker and shinier novelties have come along.

Evergrace, on the other hand. I played these games within a year of each other. Evergrace, if it has aged, has probably gotten stronger than it ever was. I think it's one of the most beautiful things ever sold as a video game. Again, I say that, because I don't really believe it is one. There's a game in here, but it's multimedia. The other elements in the composition are so powerful that they render the game an accompaniment. In particular the beautiful concept art, visual direction, and Kota Hoshino's soundtrack. These are personal, and realised at an industry-high level of craftsmanship. Because of that not only can they not be truly surpassed, they stand above comparable elements in many modern works. It was always a beautifully crafted piece of work, and now that the wave of popular gamer interest has passed it stands still worthy of attention and appreciation, while its popular contemporaries are forgotten and fading. Evergrace has a shine which does not fade.


When everything you do is calculated you're setting yourself up to be replaced. Because sooner or later someone will work out better calculation than you. And that's what's happened to Jak2 since its release. Look at its review scores and its sales, and look at its standing impact upon culture, and hearts and minds. It's just gone. It was a cynical sensation-dispensing piece of junk and a social phenomena, now outdated and passed.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/NSBRnpZ/image.png]

Just a few visuals I'll make note of before finishing now. Interiors are somewhat detailed. Not inspired work, but they're far more interesting than most of the rest of the game. There is no reason for these incidental details to be actively bad, so they aren't really. They try.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/JrtJBD5/image.png]

Character designs manage to just keep getting worse as the game goes on. This monkey-parrot has far too much screentime and is a 'toon in the worst sense possible. He's meant to be funny, so he just talks way too much in an obnoxious voice and is yet another character who is just unpleasant to you forever for no good reason.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/L8XQhxh/image.png]

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/mJ8pWqb/image.png]

As I said before, the game has a nice looking view. Once you get above the city which they designed to be as ugly as possible you actually get something halfway pleasing to look at. It's basically what all of Jak1 looked like, but because we're hardcore now (but also American and building on a Crash clone) we're going back to the Banjo Kazooie factory levels as soon as this bridge sequence is over for the rest of the game.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/jGmwLpJ/image.png]

And the plot. We traveled through time at the start of the game. Jak's destiny is to save the world from the goblins. There's a few more plot points than feels necessary considering how utterly contrived the complete picture is. The big bad goblins are here. A completely retarded opposing force who exist solely to oppose us. There's plot within this stupid ugly city about the baron being an evil guy subverting a prophecy in an attempt to save everyone but he's hurting the environment and miscalculating, it's all so pointless, stupid, and poorly executed that it makes Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within look well realised. And that really is the strongest direct comparison I can make to another story. Imagine that movie but 'toon with nu-metal aesthetics. That's Jak2.

Oh and speaking of tasteless toon and nu metal sensibilities clashing, there's a hoverboard.

[Video: https://youtu.be/kI_l82D5OKU]

At this point I remember saying that I felt like I was playing a sequence from An Extremely Goofy Movie.

If there is an impression I want you to get from all of these episodes of thought, it's that this game is an experience of unrelenting ugliness. The first game was a novel American-filtered spin on popular Japanese media. Americanised anime elf doing Mario things. By this game the DNA is almost entirely American. This game is pure 2000s Americana pain and suffering.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/jb01cKS/image.png]

Look at this image. This was made by people who knew that anime existed. They could go buy it and look at it. And they brought this into the world knowing what else was possible. You can see the thing getting actively uglier every game. An illustrator friend pointed this out to me. This was mechanic girl in the first game.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/jyH7nT4/image.png]

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/rb7c44z/image.png]

And here's the sequel. She got gigantic chipmunk cheeks, about a doubling of forehead size, just a grotesque boss-babyfication of facial features. She was actually somewhat anime in the first game. A kind of cartoon humanoid with a face structured like that of a cat. Now look at what's happened.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/4VF7GdC/image.png]

2000s America is unrelenting ugliness, stupidity, excess, and a fixation upon feet.
#19
(04-11-2023, 02:32 AM)anthony Wrote: 2000s America is unrelenting ugliness, stupidity, excess, and a fixation upon feet.

Is the 97th best selling PS2 game (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_be...ideo_games) really enough to substantiate this claim? I'm not overly fond of the aughties either, but you draw huge conclusions from a game that reached at most 0.5% of the US population.
#20
(04-12-2023, 08:37 PM)Guest Wrote:
(04-11-2023, 02:32 AM)anthony Wrote: 2000s America is unrelenting ugliness, stupidity, excess, and a fixation upon feet.

Is the 97th best selling PS2 game (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_be...ideo_games) really enough to substantiate this claim? I'm not overly fond of the aughties either, but you draw huge conclusions from a game that reached at most 0.5% of the US population.

Pages like this make me wish we had more specific stats on these kinds of things. This is all lopsided and hard to make sense of for our purposes because the Playstation 2 was a Japanese machine. Something people seem to forget very easily when talking video games. It would figure that all of the Japanese games are carried by substantial Japanese sales. Look at the western-developed games closest to the top. Sports, cars, Grand Theft Auto, and God of War. After that we have Jak, Ratchet and Clank, etc. Imagine the state of things without Japan to save us.

And for scale, top 100+ games sounds like a lot, but plenty of the most famous PS2 games don't even crack this list. Silent Hill 2 is near the bottom below the jak trilogy, Silent Hill 3 isn't even there, neither are Ico or Shadow of the Colossus. I remember what people were into. If you were to find a list of best selling PS2 games in America I'm sure the results would be ugly.



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