It might be a slow month for games, but there’s plenty of smart things being said about them.

Hey, You Should Read This

Assuming the Final Fantasy VII remake is ever actually released (when is Kingdom Hearts III shipping again?), plenty of material might be subject to change. Sarah Nyberg has a terrific breakdown of what’s interesting about Final Fantasy VII’s crossdressing moment with Cloud Strife. It’d be easy to think such a sequence from 1997 would have all sorts of problems in 2015, and while it’s definitely not perfect, it’s not a scene explicitly designed to get a cheap laugh.

Final Fantasy VII’s crossdressing does not fall into the same trap as Fallout 4’s trailer: the joke is not simply that there’s a man in a dress. Throughout the entire ordeal, Aeris follows you and is excited, flirty and encouraging. People in the town are occasionally surprised, but never overtly bigoted or hostile. Other people in the area crossdress, it isn’t a secret, and they’re accepted among their friends.

The joke, in the case of VII, was Cloud’s (and, by extension, the player’s) sense of discomfort despite there not being any real reason to be uncomfortable in the first place. Discussions about the negative aspects of VII’s portrayal of crossdressing—the stigmatization of other queer characters, the way Cloud’s boundaries become a joke inside the brothel—are important and necessary. Nonetheless, even two decades later, there are things about Cloud’s crossdressing sequence in Wall Market that I think Final Fantasy VII got right—and that modern games are still getting wrong.

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Nothing goes according to plan, but the developers behind No Time to Explain hardly expected their publisher to promise a bunch of money and walk away halfway through development. It forced TinyBuild to release a game it wasn’t entirely proud of simply to try and make ends meet. The whole sordid saga is outlined in a blog post on their website, timed to the re-release of No Time to Explain, and it’s more than a little heartbreaking. Luckily, it seems to have worked out.

This shock came to us after three months of silence, time during which we had no idea what was going on. And of course, it wasn’t like the two of us had the money for an international court case against a Russian company, so there wasn’t really anything we could do.

A recap of our situation:

  • We had no access to Steam
  • We suddenly had half the budget, and we’d already nearly used the lot
  • We had a half-hacked together prototype made in Flash

We did what we’re still doing at tinyBuild to this day — we decided to wing it. Steam didn’t want to publish the game based on our hacky prototype (and probably for good reason), so we came up with an idea.

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Oh, And This Other Stuff

  • Kelly Flatley wondered if Rise of the Tomb Raider was ignoring Lara Croft’s PTSD.
  • Tony Coles examined what made Fallout: New Vegas so damn good.
  • Tom Massey went inside one of Shangai’s coolest and most important arcades.
  • Diana Bass profiled how Robbie Bach saved the original Xbox from destruction—twice.
  • Justin Davis broke down what’s going on with those wild Mario ROM hacks.
  • Keith Stuart wrote up a Randy Pitchford keynote where he talked about the Alien debacle.
  • Engadget argued Nintendo didn’t get the Wii U wrong—we did.
  • Justin Keever found more to say about Desert Golfing than one could ever imagine.

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You can reach the author of this post at patrick.klepek@kotaku.com or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.