The Rice Digital Friday Letters Page, September 24, 2021 – Good friends

The Rice Digital Friday Letters Page

Hello everyone, and welcome once again to the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page, your one-stop shop for unpredictable musings and questions from the Rice Digital community, compiled and responded to by your exhausted, coffee-guzzling Editor. Actually, that reminds me… (There is a pause of several minutes while Pete puts a coffee on.)

There we go. Right. Yes, this is the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page where you — yes, even you — can click on the little “Write to Rice!” thingy over on the right of every page and pen us a message for inclusion in the next week’s edition of the Friday Letters Page. No personal info is required and no question is too stup– actually, scratch that last one, but sometimes stupid questions can be fun, too. So get writing for next week’s installment!

This week we’ve got a varied bag of stuff from throughout the week, including a couple of brief questions and something that is worth pondering in a bit more detail. Let’s get to it!

Direct to you

Dear Rice,

Thoughts on the new Nintendo Direct?

LagMonster


Hi LagMonster, good to see you again; welcome back to the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page.

I was pretty impressed with this new Nintendo Direct — it was certainly a lot better than the one they put out during E3 which, as you may recall, most of us here at Rice came away rather unimpressed with, Metroid Dread aside. I’ve seen some people describe it as Nintendo “trolling” but I don’t really get that; there were some genuinely excellent reveals in there, as well as news on a number of projects we’ve been waiting to hear more about for a long time, like Triangle Strategy and Bayonetta 3.

Some of the stuff in there is multiplatform, of course — notably, Taro Yoko’s new project Voice of Cards, which we looked at earlier today — but it’s still important and noteworthy that Nintendo gives time to stuff like this. As much as Sony and Microsoft claim to support smaller developers and indies, I don’t see them featuring something like Voice of Cards as prominently as Nintendo did in one of their regular presentations.

Letters page: Voice of Cards

It’s a bit of a shame that some stuff Japan got to see a bit more of — notably the new Shin Megami Tensei game — was confined to nothing more than a sizzle reel for us, but at least it’s acknowledgement that it’s still happening and that it’s still a big enough deal to feature in a Direct.

I was actually glad there was no Smash or Animal Crossing talk; those two can absolutely dominate proceedings and distract attention away from potentially more interesting projects, so it makes sense for them to do an Animal Crossing-specific Direct a little closer to its new content drop.

And Kirby! Kirby looks great. I must admit to not knowing the series all that well, but apparently there have been hints elsewhere in the series about this “lost civilisation”, so it’s interesting to see them exploring it more fully. “Kirby” and “post-apocalyptic cityscape” doesn’t necessarily sound like two things that would taste great together, but I was firmly convinced within moments of that trailer starting. I’m super intrigued and looking forward to giving that a go.

For me, the big letdown… or rather, the big “WTF” moment was the discussion of the Mario movie. Mario talking? No no no. Anyone other than Charles Martinet playing Mario? Absolutely fricking not. Surely everyone knows that any Mario movie should, at most, have the portly plumber saying nothing more than “wahoo” and that endearing gibberish he’d come out with in the Mario and Luigi games. Chris Pratt? Fie on you, I say.

Letters page: Mario Golf

Of course, if the Sonic movie has taught us anything it’s that first impressions can sometimes surprise you, so I’m actually interested to see what the end result of all this is. It’s the first attempt to bring Mario to the big screen since 1993 and, well, we all know how that went. It could go either way at this point; the cast is solid enough, but I’m not sure they’re quite right for a Mario-related project. And remember a solid cast isn’t a guarantee of a worthwhile end product… Patrick Stewart was in the Emoji movie, after all.

On the whole, though, good stuff. Yay Nintendo and all that. I am downloading the Castlevania Advance Collection and ActRaiser the second payday arrives.

Ready to return again

Dear Rice,

What happened to The Returner? Did you manage to get caught up before Endwalker?

step on me Y’shtola


Hello, err, step on me Y’shtola, and welcome to the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page. To be completely and utterly honest, I have done a poor job of sticking to my proposed solutions for fitting in Final Fantasy XIV to my free time. This is partly my own fault for not organising myself properly — and more significantly the fault of all the interesting and exciting stuff that has been coming out, or at least coming to my attention recently.

When presented with the option between spending some time playing Final Fantasy XIV and something brand new and exciting (or, as noted, brand new and exciting to me and/or you, the audience) comes up, I’m sort of obliged to pick the brand new and exciting thing. It makes for more varied stuff to write about, and more varied stuff for you all to read about, and ultimately I think that’s the most important thing for the site as a whole.

Letters Page: Final Fantasy XIV

All this said, I do feel a bit bad, both at leaving the column for a few weeks and at not playing more FFXIV. A friend of mine who has been a bit resistant to the game for a few years has finally managed to properly immerse himself in the story, and his enthusiasm for what he’s experiencing for the first time is very much making me want to go back and play more. So I’m likely going to spend some time with Final Fantasy XIV this weekend at the very least — and have another go at trying to make a weekly “scheduled slot” to play it.

So to answer your question… no, I’m not caught up before Endwalker yet. I still have half of Stormblood and all of Shadowbringers to do — though at this rate I feel like I’ll be able to go straight from Shadowbringers’ patch cycle and directly into Endwalker, which will work just fine for me! Expect the return of The Returner in the next couple of weeks, then, and I’ll keep you posted on progress!

The trouble with friendship

Dear Rice,

I have a bit of a quandary, and I was wondering if you (or any of the Rice community) had any thoughts.

Over the years, my friendship group has gotten a bit smaller as we’ve all fallen out of touch with one another. These days, I only really talk to a few longstanding friends who are still in the local area. Everyone else is off doing other things, living abroad, having successful careers or whatever.

Trouble is, I really like anime, anime-style video games and all that sort of thing, but I absolutely cannot get these remaining friends interested at all. I want someone to talk about this stuff with, but every time I bring it up in our online chats I feel like they just sort of ignore it.

It’s getting me down a bit. Any advice?

J


Ah, J, J, J. Your message struck a real chord because I’ve experienced much the same thing on several occasions. And I’m afraid I don’t really have an easy answer for you; one would think that a good friend would note how enthusiastic you were about the things you talk about and express some sort of interest. To get no response to said enthusiasm can be enormously frustrating, because you don’t know if they’re absent-mindedly forgetting to reply to messages, ignoring your passionate outbursts in the hopes that you’ll stop or genuinely uncomfortable with what you’re talking about for whatever reason.

In an ideal world, you’d be able to talk about this with that group of friends and figure out where they stand on the whole thing. It may be that they simply don’t understand what you’re on about and need some sort of introduction to it. Or it may be that they’ve decided that they’re not interested; as painful as this can be to learn, it’s also a valid response. But if you don’t know what their response is, it doesn’t help anyone, does it!

Letters Page: Atelier Firis

You mention that you’re talking about this stuff in online chats; is there any chance you can get together in person and perhaps talk about this stuff, assuming the COVID restrictions have relaxed a bit in your area? Offer to host an anime evening or a gaming session where you play some anime-style games — preferably multiplayer-friendly stuff like fighting games, beat ’em ups and the like. Show them what they’re missing out on — and why you feel so strongly about it! Maybe hold off on showing them the body pillows and the “cast-off” figurines until they’re a bit more immersed in the overall culture, though — unless they indicate an immediate sort of interest in that kind of thing, of course.

Your alternative, of course, is trying to make some new friends. Depending on your life circumstances, this isn’t always easy either — but you can always join some online communities and see where things go from there. We have a nice Discord server you can join, for one thing — the people there are lovely and always happy to chat about things, so why not give that a go as a starting point and perhaps the folks there will have some advice for you, too? Chances are at least some of them have gone through something similar, after all — it is the curse of our chosen specialist subject!

And don’t forget you always have a friend here on the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page. You want to enthuse about something to us? Go right ahead; we love it when people are happy and excited about stuff. So thanks for writing in this time around — this doesn’t have to be the last time we hear from you!


And there we go for another week. It’s now time to clock off, log out, sit down, chill out, order a takeaway, play some video games and generally have a pleasant weekend. That’s my plan, anyway; I hope you all have the opportunity to do at least some of those things for yourself too!

Until next week!

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Pete Davison
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