"Toma toma toma, go tomato go! Toma toma toma…"
"Oh hey that's me," Touma said, smiling. Only the slightest of smiles, but enough to indicate he was clearly quite amused.
"Ha ha, yeah!" Natsume laughed, enjoying the funky tune blaring out of her Nintendo 30DS; the into to Yo-Kai Watch Blasters: Red Cat Corps: Director's Cut.
"Can I have that version, actually? Since it has my name and all."
Natsume laughed again, but looking up at Touma, she saw that his smile had receded. "Wait, are you being serious?"
"When am I not," Touma replied coolly.
Collecting herself from her momentary confusion, Natsume nodded and exchanged her 30DS with Touma's 30DS XXL, which was playing the intro to White Dog Squad: Cut of the Director. "Thanks," Touma said.
"No prob, babe."
Before the two could even get past the title screen, another interruption interrupted them in the form the shed's door enthusiastically slamming open.
"HEY, glad to see you two here! Already ready t-"
"We don't have time for your running gag, Akinori," Natsume said, not looking up from her screens. "We're #gaming."
"WHAT?!" Akinori exclaimed, wishing we actually felt as surprised as he was acting. "There are so many yo-kai out there, so many MYSTERIES that it's our JOB to solve, and you'd rather just sit around playing GAMES?"
"First off: heck yeah," Touma answered. "Second off: this actually is yo-kai related, so like. Yeah. Chill, we're doing our jobs."
"Technically~" Natsume chimed in.
"Oh? Like how you said that when I walked in on you about to watch Keisuke chug five Pixy Stix at once, you said that THAT was "technically yo-kai related" because there was a "good chance this would kill Keisuke and that would make him be a yo-kai", like THAT?"
Touma chuckled. "That was just jokes my guy. This is real."
"What do you mean 'this is real'?"
"What ISN'T real…" Touma said, looking up and gazing directly into Akinori's eyes, into his soul.
"What I think Touma is TRYING to say, is, like…" Natsume said, miffed that she had to stop her gaming to explain but knowing she couldn't be too surprised or anything. It was Akinori's clubhouse after all, so it was his God-given right to be critical of what game-related activities take place within.
"It's a yo-kai game! Like, from the Yo-kai World!"
"OH!" Akinori hollered, opinion on this #gaming quickly swaying.
"...Can I continue?" Natsume asked.
"Ah, yeah, sorry. Just got… worked up," Akinori said sheepishly, taking a seat at the table next to Natsume.
"And it's not just a yo-kai game, it's a yo-kai game REMAKE! Which means it was originally made before all the. Whatever happened in the past, the schism and whatever, happened! So not only is this like, fun, it's also a piece of yo-kai history! A yo-period piece! Which means we can spend the day playing it and you LEGALLY can't get mad at us."
"OH!" Akinori hollered, "...Wait, were you-"
"Yeah I was done," Natsume said.
"Okay! Nice!" Akinori said, "Wow, that's actually like, REALLY epic? How did you even get your HANDS on a game like that?"
"Charlie gave 'em to us," Touma said, "Because he's incredibly lonely and wants to connect to us but has no idea how to effectively socialize on account of being just a disconsolate ghost bike so in this instance he defaulted to an admirably yet concerningly altruistic display of material charity."
"Ah," Akinori said, "Ah… good ol' Charlie."
"Good ooool' Charlie!" Natsume said happily, fixing her attention back on the game. "Oh shiiiiit, Whisper's in this game?!"
"Yeah! It owns bones," Touma responded.
"Nice! Game of the year! ...He looks kinda weird though."
"Whisper always looks weird though."
"YEAH but like… different weird. He looks alternatively weird."
"Why is he nakey."
"YEAH EXACTLY! And what's with like. His lipstick. Just bold blue lipstick SMEARED all over his ghost face."
"Yeah it's just tacky. That and his eyeshadow. What was he doing. Fashion disaster."
Akinori scribbled furiously in his notepad. "Whisper old, bad at makeup." Setting his pencil down, he looked up at his two gaming companions. "So…"
"So…?" the lesbians echoed.
"Did Charlie uh…"
"He didn't leave a game for you, sorry," Natsume replied preemptively. "We asked him, believe us, but we was like…" Natsume closed one eye and did her best bad Charlie impression. "Y'SEE, DERE'S ACTUALLY THREE VERSIONS OF DIS GAME! A-AND DA REMAKE OF DA T'IRD VERSION COMES OUT IN JUST T'REE WEEKS ER SO, SO I WAZ GONNA GET DAT VERSION FER AKINORI. BIKEAUSE I OWE 'IM DA BEST, SEEIN' AZ I OWE 'IM A RIDE 'N' ALL!"
"Bike." Touma said flatly.
"He's making it up to me by… giving me my game WAY LATER?" Akinori said, totally exasperated. "That makes ACTUALLY THE OPPOSITE OF SENSE."
"Hey, he's a bike. They aren't typically known for their common sense, y'know?"
"And that's just what you GET for giving into these greedy cash-grab games!"
The trio turned to Keisuke, entering the shed via crawling through the window and ready to lay down some hot gamer truths.
"Took you long enough to join this week's zany escapades," Touma remarked, watching his girlfriend's brother struggle his way through the window. Keisuke nearly tumbled over, but caught himself just quickly enough that he could play it off.
"Yeah, I can take my time 'cause I'm not a part of your little CULT," Keisuke said, rummaging through Akinori's desk in search of the cult's stash of cheese snacks. "But as I was saying, you shouldn't fall for these dumb CASH-GRABS! Freakin', making two versions of the same dang game that are JUST different enough so nerds will buy BOTH, it's sooo dumb! I can't believe people STILL buy into this stuff."
"Well, bikes do at least." Natsume said.
Keisuke smirked, which was somewhat hindered due to his cheeks being stuffed with cheese snacks and the whole area around his mouth being coated in a firm layer of orange. "I already TOLD you that I'm not buying your ridiculous 'a bike gave me video games' story! You just made that up to cover your BUTT after I pointed out how bad you got ripped off! I mean, where would a ghost bike even GET money for video games? If such a thing even existed!"
"And then I told you to shut up and not to bother me at the clubhouse 'cause I wanted to spend time with my girlfriend. But like I already expected that not to work out so, whatever. Also you've MET Charlie, bro. Multiple times."
"Well SOMEBODY'S gotta make sure you two don't kiss or anything. 'Cause that'd just be gross! Especially for Touma! Aaaand I'm pretty sure those multiple times were just shared dreams."
And with those closing remarks, Natsume was ready to lay this particular sibling feud to rest so she could enjoy her game and listen to what this funny orange guy was saying. Akinori, however, elected to tag himself into this bout.
"ACTUALLY, Keisuke..." Akinori said, walking over to the younger boy and reclaiming his bag of snacks. Upon grabbing it he felt that it was already three-quarters empty. What the HELL Keisuke did you not have lunch today or what.
"This isn't a simple corporate cash-grab like you seem to think! What those two are playing is a piece of yo-kai history! It's a remake of a-"
Akinori's envisioned impassioned speech was instantly cut short by a smug cackle from Keisuke.
"Oh my GAWD, a REMAKE?! Not just a money-grubbing one-for-two deal, but a REMAKE of one?! GEEZ, you- I'm sorry, the 'GHOST BIKE'..." GHOST BIKE was said in Keisuke's most condescendingly obnoxious little brother voice, accompanied by mockingly exaggerated hand gestures directed at his sister (not that Natsume was looking at him) "...really just bought into a whoooole pile of 'give us money', huh?"
"WHAT'S WRONG WITH REMAKES?!" Akinori asked defensively. "LIKE, aside from the yo-history stuff, which I assume will be a BIG can of worms to discuss with you… what's wrong with them? They can be fun! They can be good!"
"The QUALITY isn't the issue, the problem is it's just lazy! Companies- all companies, whether it's in movies, games, shows, WHATEVER. People just think they keep releasing the same thing over again, and just rake in cash without needing new ideas! And it's 'cause of YOU nerds and your imaginary bike friend who I've never met that they can!"
"Now hold on fellas," Touma said, gently setting his (girlfriend's) 30DS on the table. "I think there's a real conversation to be had here. There are definite cases to be made for remaking games, and conversely, cases to be made against. Just on the surface, is definite merit to be found in revisiting beloved classics. It presents a great opportunity for newcomers to experience a game without needing to go far out of their way finding old hardware, and with pleasing updated graphics and in many cases, modern conveniences to improve the experience overall. And it of course presents an opportunity for those familiar with the title to revisit it, playing on one's nostalgia - a well-known and well-tested driving factor for anyone. And of course, the allure of the aforementioned graphical and gameplay updates help to drive this drive. However, therein problems arise if not properly managed. First off is the choice of WHICH games get remakes. In the ideal case, the games which see remakes would be ones in desperate need of the update, and games which many would not have the opportunity to experience. This may be because of time and age, as a new generation of gamers come who were born too late to experience a title. But this could also be due to other factors! Such as a game seeing a limited release, or being released towards the end of a console's life cycle, or so on and so forth. However! In many cases, games have received remakes and re-releases which, by the metric of making the game available to a much wider audience, are wholly unnecessary. I'm talking in the span of one or two years. And not only is that nowhere near ample time for a new audience to become available, but the graphical and gameplay updates brought by these will also be minuscule in comparison to what would generally be considered "worthy" remakes. These are what can most safely be considered "cash-grabs", as our Mr. Keisuke has called them. However, it is not as if remakes which seem obviously more worthwhile are free from criticism or sin. When a large-scale remake of a very old game, a game which by the Availability Metric I have previously posited should be the best subject for a revisiting, there are many who posit that the heavy amount of time and resources needed for such an endeavor, for what is essentially rebuilding the entire game from the ground-up, could be better spent on an entirely new and original title. Now, it this line of thinking is one I personally do not agree with in a majority of instances, but it is a common point of discussion in regards to these remakes and it is a point of view I understand and respect. Additionally! When making a remake of such old, 'outdated' games, there is a large degree of separation between the original experience and the new version. And this brings the very point of 'the purpose of these remakes is to allow new people to experience these games' into contention. For the significant changes brought by a remake greatly alter the experience brought by the game; there is no way for a remake to truly allow a new player to experience these games. And without doubt, in a large number of cases these alterations to the experience could widely be considered to improve the experience. But they are alterations nonetheless, and if a remake of an old game meant to allow new players to experience the game for themselves yet goes out of its way to change this experience, then are remakes worth having, or in a way, are they self-defeating? Well, I think it would clearly be a gross exaggeration to claim that ALL remakes are doomed and pointless just out of this unattainable standard of purity. But then this gets into another, adjacent topic: the topic of game preservation. A topic I myself am quite invested in. In what way CAN we preserve games, in a way that future generations can experience them in much the same way they were on release intended to be experienced? This is a tricky problem that no other form of media really struggles with, as the methods of accessing and playing games, along with the games themselves, become less and less attainable. At this point it's not even entirely about just letting someone play a game they've heard about: it's about preserving Art. If one goes to see the Mona Lisa today, they would get more or less the same experience and enjoyment viewing it as someone centuries ago upon its original painting. Yet if one wants to experience, say, Super Mario Brothers, a known and beloved classic, how should one go about doing this? One could play Super Mario Brothers RX Crystal, released just last year for the GameCube 3, but the HD graphics, many extra worlds, and ten new playable characters make it a wildly different experience from the "true" Super Mario Brothers experience, as fun as playing as Mallow is to play as. But what if one desires this "true" experience given by the original Super Mario Brothers? NES consoles and games are increasingly scarce, so many cannot experience this vital piece of Mario history that way. So we turn to ports: direct re-releases of a game, with minimal changed from the original. No shiny coats of paint or anything. Even then, many could and have argued that this fails to capture the "true experience", as controller differences, the way the game runs, may little factors add up to a slightly different experience than could be gained from playing the original in its original context. And then there's another issue: Super Mario Brothers is an iconic game that has seen dozens of re-releases in many forms, due to its prestige. But what of more obscure titles? What of Solomon's Key? Cocoron? Town & Country II: Thrilla's Safari? These are games that no one has really bothered officially remaking or re-releasing, leaving many people cut off from any way of experiencing them. The one place to turn to? Emulation. But this vanguard of preservation of unloved pieces of digital interactive art is in its very nature hotly legally contested, leaving its use as the go-to to preserve these experiences for future generations very shaky. What is the solution. I myself can not say, really. I just like to think about this kind of stuff a lot.
"Aaaand that's pretty much all I have on that."
The room stared at Touma.
"Touma…" Natsume said, turning to her girlfriend with a smile. "You are... Immensely a goddamn nerd."
"I am simply someone with convictions," Touma responded, giving his girlfriend a smile in turn - again only the slightest of smiles, but tinted by a light blush. He was clearly quite happy.
The couple then continued their #gaming in well-earned peace. Akinori and Keisuke stood to the side, awkwardly. Worn out from listening to Touma's monologue, they had no drive to continue any sort of argument, electing to a mutual and less-than-comfy silence.
After a few minutes of quiet, and then a few minutes more, Akinori decided to speak up. "...I'm hungry. I'm gonna get something from Nom Burger. Any of you wanna come with?"
"Oh sure, I could eat," Natsume said, and turned again to Touma. "What about you, babe?"
"It's burg time," Touma declared, as he closed his (girlfriend's) 30DS shut and pulled himself off his seat on the floor in one fluid motion.
"I'm not hungry," Keisuke said.
"Well yeah, you shouldn't be, after eating all our goddang SNACKS, Keisuke," Akinori replied, barely sheathing his venom. He really liked those cheese snacks.
"Yeah well. Perhaps. Is it okay if I tag along anyways? I don't have much else going on right now."
"I mean, as long as you don't mind having to sit through me flirting and cuddling my wifey the whole tiiiime, then sure!" Natsume said, as Touma helped her up (which was more out of wanting an excuse for them to hold hands than any potential difficulty Natsume would have getting up on her own).
"Actually I think I'll stay here and get a headstart on next month's homework that sounds way more fun," Keisuke said in exaggerated disgust. "Thanks for the offer though."
"Friends," Touma said from outside the doorway, which is apparently where he had apparently gotten to in the short span of time it took for Keisuke to start and finish his thought. "Burg time is not twenty-four hours. Let's go."
"Coming!" Natsume said, 30DS XXL in tow.
Akinori turned to Keisuke as he headed after his agencymates. "Don't touch anything while we're gone, y'hear?"
"Or I'll have Micchi come and flex on you, okay?"
"Oh god I said I won't you don't gotta give me waking nightmares dude."
With that, Akinori slammed the door enthusiastically closed, and the trio of friends headed off, to enjoy cheap burgers and yo-kai video gaming history as the world's premier yo-kai detective agency.