Dear Hoax Writer,
How have you been? I haven't heard from you in quite some time, until I stumbled over an interesting story circulated in various Japanese internet publications earlier this week. While I first thought that I had found a more or less trivial joke, it quickly dawned on me that April Fools is still one week away. Needless to say that you, dear Japanese hoax writer, lack any kind of understanding of this special day anyway. So, I was left wondering about the nature of your newest adventure, or should we say misadventure. I can't deny a sense of disappointment, even though at the same time you managed to provide some rare entertainment to a factual news editor. Your "magazine scan" was so full of more or less subtle hints that one could even go as far as to consider it a very special form of entertainment or even art. It goes without saying that such entertainment requires a certain acquired taste of humor to enjoy. Nonetheless, here are a few hints on how you can redeem yourself, reclaim some of your former glory and once again hide under the, albeit very thin and clear, layer of false credibility you so desperately seek:
1. Hone your Photoshop skills: This new logo really looked exciting. Too bad that even a person like me, bar almost any Photoshop skills, could have produced a graphic closer resembling this one infamous string of letters that is the logo of Square Enix's flagship series. Taking a popular Final Fantasy character like Squall in a famous pose and only darkening his image was not the smartest move either. Now what to do? How about some evening classes a la "Computer applications for Beginners," where you can join with a bunch of hyperactive grandmas trying to acquire the skills needed to crack their sons' online banking passwords? This alternative may be more entertaining and rewarding for you than just buying a boring "How to Master Photoshop in 365.25 seconds" book. As a welcome side effect, you could spend more time communicating with people, instead of spending countless hours in your room, thinking about your next hoax project, while watching the newest Sailor Moon episodes.
2. Never underestimate your readership. "Neta" is a sleek name for an up-start publication, no criticism here. However, considering that Square Enix always announces its titles in either V-JUMP or Weekly Famitsu (logical choices, as the former happens to be in-house, and latter the world's undisputed No.1 gaming mag) it was not such a great idea.
3. Do not overdo it: The "Final Fantasy Guilty Wing" cover itself already was quite a bold undertaking, but you should try to stick with one hoax per story. Sadly for you, Square Enix has never released a title (excluding MMOGs) for multiple platforms of the same generation, in particular not a major title like Kingdom Hearts II. Considering that this sequel has already been announced for a PS2 release more than half a year ago, it was rather unwise to mention PlayStation 2 and GameCube as target platforms. At least you did not make Final Fantasy VII - Advent Children a PSP title.
With these suggestions, I sincerely hope you will be fit for action soon enough. And please, have mercy with a poor news editor like me and spare me any breaking stories on Chrono Brake. I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
- Chris Winkler
|The Phantom Menace
April Fools Day is quickly approaching, and with it comes the legion of harangues, jibes, and ruses that plague the more humble, guileless folk. Every website of any repute (and many with none whatsoever) decide on this day to deliver hoaxes to fool the masses. Videogame sites are notorious for this practice, with RPGFan being no exception. Weíve had our share of fake news stories, reviews, previews, and even an entire color-scheme change intended to give readers pause, if not altogether trick them. Itís a tradition, and often a harmless one at that. A few people are fooled, most see through the deception, and life goes on.
There are, however, some hoaxes which have a more dire effect. Tricks that, whether intended to or not, wind up hurting people in the end. One such trick has been perpetrated for over a year now, and looks to continue far into this one. Itís a trick that, much like those played on unsuspecting immigrants to the US in days past (and days present, unfortunately) is intended to take advantage of the naÔve and unworldly for personal gain. This foul deception of which I am referring is being carried out by a company called Infinium Labs. The name of this deception is, aptly, the Phantom.
Now some of you have heard about the Phantom. For those of you who havenít, Infinium Labs is billing it as a new system poised to rival, both technologically and supportively, all of the major game consoles on the market. However, although the company leaked information to the press over a year ago, including artist renderings of the machine, not much has evolved since then. In fact, when questioned about the Phantom, Infinium Labs has either declined to comment or outright accused the questioners of harassment. Furthermore, they have gone on to threaten legal action against various sites for posting opinions questioning the veracity of Infinium Labsí claims, action which while obviously untenable, is meant to harass and cow smaller fan sites into silence on the subject. While these attempts have backfired, intentionally or not, itís clear that Infinium Labs is most likely hiding something more than just the specifications of its system. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the Phantom is just that: a name with no substance behind it.
But whatís the real harm, you may ask. What problem lies in perpetuating a belief in a new game console? To answer that question, we have to dig a bit. If we get past the outer layer of harassment and lies, we start to see the truly evil side of Infinium Labs. Their attempt at hype isnít just as a means to boost their own egos. No, this hype is designed for one reason and one reason only: to attract investors who the company will later defraud. Yes, this is a harsh accusation, but it is not based on the same pap spouted by the slowly increasing staff of IL. It is based on the perception of a pattern I have seen many times before. It is the patter of the confidence man, the huckster, the snake-oil salesman. This company has chosen to inherit the legacy of those who chose as their stock in trade, deception, fraud, and bunk. Instead of selling poor immigrants the Brooklyn Bridge, they are now selling starry eyed investors shares in a piece of vaporware in exchange for ďcapitalĒ which those investors will never see again. It is insidious, nefarious, and downright underhanded.
Now some of you more Darwinian readers may have no problem with what IL is doing. After all, a fool and his money are soon parted, and the signs are more or less clear to see for anyone shrewd enough to pick out the pattern. The problem is, however, that not everyone is able to pick out the inconsistencies with the Phantom, and we have laws in America to protect those who may not be as savvy from those who would prey upon their hope and faith.
In the end, I believe Infinium Labs is out to do more harm than good. They claim that they will have a huge booth at E3 with playable demos of the Phantom on display for the press and guests, but I am highly dubious. At this point, I half expect to see a plastic shell hooked to a monitor playing some PC title with noticeable slowdown, if there is indeed a booth at all. Still, Iíd be quite happy to be proven wrong, if simply to know that the poor saps who invested in this venture havenít thrown it all into a hole. At least then some good would have come out of this mystery, wrapped in an enigma, ensconced in a debacle.
- Damian Thomas