The library has slim pickings on linguistics, but it happened to have a couple of books on opposite sides of the innatism debate: Ray Jackendoff’s Patterns in the Mind, and Daniel Everett’s Language: The Cultural Tool.

conan-jungle

File photo of Everett in the Amazon researching Pirahã

Overall judgment: both books are full of interesting things; both are extremely convinced of their position; both reduce their opponents (i.e. each other) to straw men.

It’s a lesson, I suppose, in letting one’s speculations get ahead of the evidence. Many a Chomskyan book has a long annoying section on how children could not possibly learn language; the arguments are always the same and they’re always weak. The Chomskyans’ problem is that they don’t spend five minutes trying to think of, or combat, any alternative position. They present the “poverty of the stimulus” as if it’s an obvious fact, but don’t do any actual research into child language acquisition to show that it’s really a problem.

Yet Everett doesn’t do much better on the other side. He’s all about language as a cultural invention, and he mocks the Chomskyans’ syntax-centrism and their inability to explain how or why Minimalism is embedded in the brain and the genome, but he doesn’t really know how children learn languages either.

My sympathies are far more with Everett, but an honest account has to admit: we just don’t know. Well, the third book I picked up is a massive tome called Language acquisition and conceptual development, so I’ll report back if it turns out we do know.

Sometimes the two authors cover the same facts– e.g. what’s going on with Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas in the brain. Their account is different enough that it seems that both are cherrypicking the data. Jackendoff doesn’t mention the non-linguistic functions of these areas, while Everett pooh-poohs that they’re language-related at all.

What ends up being most valuable about both books is when they’re talking about other things. Everett is full of stories about Amazonian peoples and languages; Jackendoff has a very good section on ASL.  (They both also have quite a bit of introductory linguistics, which I could have used less of. Sometimes it’s a pity that academics only have two modes, “write for the educated high schooler” and “write for each other”. I suspect their editors overestimated just how many people entirely ignorant of linguistics would read each book. I guess I’m lucky that readers of my more advanced books can be assumed to have read the LCK.)

I don’t mean to sound entirely dismissive. In fact Jackendoff makes the Chomskyan case about as well as it can be made (far better than Chomsky ever does); but if you find him convincing, make sure you read Everett to get a fuller perspective.

(I may also be unfair to Jackendoff calling him a Chomskyan; apparently he’s broken with Minimalism. He also makes a point, when pointing the reader to books on syntax, to include a wide range of theories, something Chomsky himself and his acolytes don’t bother to do.)

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For those smart enough to check here for status updates…

  • The new board is kind of installed, but doesn’t work.
  • Bluehost guy didn’t know why.

Edit: The board is working again. The secret code is 676 for now. The whole sordid story is over on the board.

Which is progress, in a way, since yesterday when it totally didn’t work.

All this is after trying to import the old database from the old board.  Although I was following instructions on moving boards, the result was a disaster. The software and database are not independent; I expect it failed because the phpBB versions are different. Finally I gave up and tried reinstalling phpBB, but that didn’t work.

Sigh. Bottom line, still working on what should be the simplest part: getting a frigging blank board working.

I don’t always get a chance to combine linguistics and gaming, so STRAP ON.

Overwatch-Hammond-Wrecking-Ball

So, Overwatch is getting a new hero who’s a hamster. An adorable hamster piloting a deathball.  It’s pretty neat, check it out.

PCGamer has an article today on the hero’s official name, Wrecking Ball, and why many people prefer the hamster’s name, Hammond. Which I kind of do too. Though the French name is even better: Bouledozer.

But the article has a density of linguistic errors that made me simmer.  Kids these days, not learning basic phoneme and allophone theory.  Listen:

The three syllables in Wrecking Ball use three main sounds: the ‘r’ sound, the ‘i’, and the ‘ɔ:’. …you position your tongue and lips very differently when you pronounce these sounds, and you can feel this when you say it. To make the ‘r’ sound in ‘wre’, you curl your tongue up to the roof of your mouth. To make the ‘i’ sound in ‘king’, you keep your tongue up high but bring it forward to the front of your mouth while stretching out your lips. Finally, to make the ‘ɔ:’ sound in ‘ball’, you put your tongue low and bring it to the back of your mouth while also bringing your lips together.

OK, everything sounds complicated when people don’t have the terms to discuss it. There’s only one big error– they’ve confused [i] as in machine with [ɪ] as in bin. You stretch your lips for [i] but not [ɪ]. Anyway, the word isn’t that complex: /rɛkɪŋbɔl/. You pronounce much harder words many times a day. (Try strength, or Martian, or literature.) In rapid speech it will probably simplify to [rɛkɪmbɔl] or [rɛkĩbɔl].

In other words, saying Wrecking Ball puts your tongue and lips all over the place with no clean pattern or loop to connect the sounds.

Huh?  Words do not need any “clean pattern or loop”.  There are some patterns to English words (phonotactics), but “wrecking ball” is absolutely typical English.

And it doesn’t stop there: the ‘wr’ consonant blend is naturally awkward in the same way the word ‘rural’ is awkward, and the hard ‘g’ and ‘b’ in Wrecking Ball put unnatural stops in your speech.

The wr isn’t a blend, it’s one sound [r]. Rural is mildly awkward because it has two r sounds, which wrecking ball does not.

Edit: Alert reader John Cowan points out that some speakers do have [i] in final –ing; also that initial /r/ may be always labialized. For me, there’s some lip rounding in /r/ in all positions.

There is no hard g in wrecking. There is no such thing as a hard b.  Stops are not unnatural; heck, let me highlight all the ones the author just used:

And it doesn’t stop there: the ‘wr’ consonant blend is naturally awkward in the same way the word ‘rural’ is awkward, and the hard ‘g’ and ‘b‘ in Wrecking Ball put unnatural stops in your speech.

I highlighted nasal stops mostly because the dude is terribly concerned with what the tongue does, and tongue movement for nasal stops is exactly the same as for non-nasal stops.

Compare that to Hammond, paying close attention to the way your mouth moves when you say it. Not only is Hammond two syllables instead of three, it also barely uses your tongue. Your lips and vocal chords do most of the work, which, ironically, is why it seems to roll off the tongue. Plus we get the added alliteration of Hammond the hamster.

Hammond is [hæmnd], with syllabic n. I’ll grant that it’s two syllables long, but I don’t know why the author is so focused on tongue movements– presumably he’s not aware that he’s moving his tongue for æ and the final [nd]?

It’s true that Wrecking Ball contains two liquids, which is hard for some children, but shouldn’t be a problem for adults. (And English’s syllabic n, not to mention the vowel æ, are hard for many foreigners.)

As for alliteration, Hammond Hamster is maybe too cutesy. They didn’t call Winston Gary Gorilla.

(In the French version, Roadhog and Junkrat are Chopper et Chacal, which is actually a pretty nice alliteration, calling out their partnership.)

Of [the longer] names, five end on long vowels: Orisa, Zarya, Symmetra, Zenyatta and Lucio. Interestingly enough, four of these five end on a long ‘a’ because it’s an easy and pretty sound for punctuating names (which, if you’re wondering, is also why so many elves in high fantasy settings have names like Aria).

Argh: these are not long a; that’s the vowel in mate. These end in shwas, [ə].

And while we’re at it, Tolkien is largely to blame for elven names, and in this long list of his elven names, just one has a final -a. He liked final [ɛ] far more. If other writers use more, they are probably thinking vaguely of Latin.

If the dude really doesn’t like the name, all he has to say is:

  • It’s longer
  • It’s final-stressed.

Names are a tiny bit awkward if they have two stressed syllables, especially if they end in one. The only other Overwatch hero with this stress pattern is Soldier 76, and he’s usually just called Soldier. But it’s not that awkward; it’s also found in such common expressions as Jesus Christ, Eastern Bloc, Lara Croft or U.S.A.

 

 

 

 

After 20 years, I’ve rewritten the Verdurian reference grammar.

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The main motivation was my syntax book.  I want to be able to tell conlangers how modern syntax can deepen your conlang, and I figured I should make sure I have a really good example.

Now, you’ll see that I did it without drawing a single syntactic tree. That never seemed to be necessary, though I do have some discussion of transformations, and I mark subclauses and talk about underlying forms. The main influence of modern syntax is in adding more syntactic stuff, and thinking more about how things interrelate.

To put it another way, if you don’t know much modern syntax, you’ll write one relative clause and call it a day.  But once you’re familiar with syntax, you start to think about what you can relativize, and how nonrestrictive relative clauses work, and headless clauses, and what’s the underlying form for headless time clauses, and such things.

I also took the opportunity to add glosses to all the examples, provide a new long sample text, redraw the dialect map, add new mathematical terminology, add pragmatic particles, and in general update the presentation to how I write grammars these days. I also html-ized the Verdurian short story I translated long ago. And subcategorize all the verbs in the dictionary. And provide margins.

FWIW, though much of the content is similar, it’s all been rewritten– I very rarely simply copied-and-pasted. Plenty of little things have been added, and some old bits removed. (E.g. the descriptions of the dialects, which I hope to expand on in more detail.)

An example of a little change: the morphology section no longer goes case by case, a method that makes it hard to look up forms.  And I changed the expository order to nom – acc – dat – gen, which makes it easier to see when the nom/acc forms are the same. (If it’s good enough for Panini, it’s good enough for me.)

Verdurian is still not my favorite language (that would be “whatever language I created last”), but the problems are mostly lexical.  And it’s a little too late to redo the vocabulary yet again.  At least I can say I’m pretty happy with the syntax now…

 

 

 

This is to catch anyone who hasn’t been looking at the ZBB lately because it’s been full of errors.

I’m going to move the board to a new host, in stages.  The first stage is to set up the board on a new host, which is done.  You can get there at

http://www.verduria.org

To sign up you’ll need a code, which is 676.

Anything you post there is temporary and liable to go away. That’s because the plan is to back up the database from the old ZBB, copy it to the new host, and point the new board at it.  If all goes well, all the old users and posts will come over with it.

(If it doesn’t, plan B is to keep the old data around for some period.)

I wanted to at least get a temporary board up so people can post things without annoyance.

At some point soon, I will have to take the old board down to back it up.  So if it’s down in the next few days, that’s why.

The syntax book is coming along– I have about 300 pages written.  This project has required reading more by and about Chomsky than is, perhaps, compatible with mental health.

My general position on Chomsky is to defend him to linguistic outsiders, and complain about him to insiders.

In general the defense is going to be in the book– you can hardly talk about modern syntax without recognizing his influence and his discoveries. Generative grammar (GG) from the ’60s was galvanizing… a huge array of transformations and rules and weird syntax was quickly found.  An early book like John Ross’s Infinite Syntax! (1967; it was published under that title in 1986) is highly technical yet displays the contagious exuberance of discovering new things. Whether or not you like the theories, the facts remain, and we can no longer relegate syntax to a six-page section after doing the morphology, as the Port-Royal grammar did.

GG appealed almost at once to computer programmers, which is remarkable if you think about it: few programmers looked at the classic Latin, Greek, or Sanskrit grammars and said I want to program that! If anything, this part of the charm of GG is far more accessible today!  I’ve been creating some web toys that allow modeling transformations; they allow GG to come alive in a way that ’70s textbooks couldn’t really show.

So, on to the complaints!  One is more of a sad groan: it is really hard to keep up with Chomskyan syntax– it changes every ten years, often in dramatic ways. And Chomsky’s own books have become increasingly unreadable. I can barely follow The Minimalist Program; it seems to be barely about language at all.  He seems to prefer abstract pseudo-algebra to discussing actual sentences. The one exception to this generalization is Language and Problems of Knowledge (1988), which was written for the general public and shows that the man can write understandably when he wants to.

Generally speaking, other people have had to tidy up his theories and make them into readable textbooks. I’ve appreciated Andrew Carnie’s Syntax: A Generative Introduction and David Adger’s Core Syntax: A Minimalist Approach.

The dude has a right to change his views over time; still, one might complain that so many of the changes are pointless or don’t seem to move toward greater correctness. Yet he has a way of stating his present views as if they were the only ones possible. In The Minimalist Program (1995), he’s gotten out of the habit of even arguing for his position, or acknowledging that there are any other views at all.

This must put Chomskyan professors into a terrible position.  Imagine teaching, for years, that you must have an N below an N’ below an N” even if you’re dealing with a single word like John, and carefully marking up students’ papers when they lack the extra nodes. And then Chomsky decides one day that all this is unnecessary.  Or, you have NPs for years and then are told that they are DPs.  Or you learn phrase structure rules, only to have them thrown out.  Even without looking at the many other syntactic theories, shouldn’t all this bring in some healthy doubt?

I know it’s almost impossible for humans, but really we should assign our statements a probability value– e.g. it’s 60% likely that the head of “these frogs” is an N, 40% that it’s a Det– and then take serious note of the fact that stacked hypotheses plummet in probability. If you think idea A is 90% probable and so is idea B, then idea AB is 81% probably. And idea ABC is 73% probable, and so on. And anything as complex as X’ theory or Minimalism is made up of dozens of stacked hypotheses.

I wish that Chomskyan syntacticians would take a lesson from math, or computer programming: the same problem can be solved in multiple ways. As a simple example, look at the multiple proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem. GG in the 1960s (not just Chomsky) was convinced that there was a right solution to any syntactic problem. (And it tended to see any linguist problem as a syntactic problem.) This attitude has continued, and it’s rarely acknowledged that it may just be wrong.

So, when we look at Minimalism, and Word Grammar, and Relational Grammar, and Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar, and Construction Grammar, and Lexical Functional Grammar, and Arc Pair Grammar, and so on… it’s possible that none are entirely wrong. It’s quite possible, even likely, that the same language can be described in multiple ways.

Some of these systems probably will die with their creators, and that’s fine. On the other hand, I think relational grammars in general will continue, because they offer a needed corrective. Chomskyan syntax concentrates on constituent structure, and relational grammar on, well, relations between words. You can diagram a sentence either way and learn something each time; each approach is also better for different languages.

(Minimalism makes a great effort to represent relations, and yet does so very clumsily.  Really, try to get a Chomskyan to explain what a “subject” is, or what a “passive” does. Relational grammars start with these things, often not bothering to show the details of constituent structure.)

Another example is case assignment. X’ theory and Minimalism treat this very seriously and in the most cumbersome way. Here I feel that they’ve lost their way: was this really a terrible problem that needed to be solved again? Traditional grammar was actually pretty good at case assignment, and used far simpler terminology. GG’s forte is not handling case, it’s handling transformations.

Another lesson from programming is relevant: elegance is relative to the machine. Syntacticians (again, not only Chomsky) have spent way too much time worrying about the efficiency of their systems. Just one example: X’ theory decides that having general rules VP > NP, VP > NP NP, VP > NP PP, etc., is messy and we should instead let entries in the lexicon specify what frame they need: e.g. cry doesn’t need any object, put needs NP PP. Does that make the grammar simpler or not?  Maybe for the grammarian; we don’t know if it’s better or not for the brain.

The thing is, we know almost nothing about the machine we’re running on, i.e. the brain.  You can’t optimize for a machine if you don’t know its specs (and its hangups and limitations). The very little we do know suggests that our way of thinking about algorithms is probably a very bad way to think about mental abilities. Brains are not like a CPU running a program. They are more like 100 billion CPUs each running an extremely simple program. Its methods (e.g. in the visual system) run toward millions of sub-processes addressing tiny little problems (“is there an edge here?” “did my little bit of data change recently?”).

I don’t think any linguistic theory really makes use of this information, though cognitive linguistics may be getting there. One corollary I’d strongly suggest, though: the brain is probably fine with messy, encyclopedic data in multiple formats. Everything can be linked or stitched together; very little is refactored as new data comes in. Half of the general rules that linguists discover probably don’t exist at all in the brain; they’re historical facts, not brain facts.

I just finished an older introduction to Chomsky, Chomsky’s Universal Grammar by V.J. Cook (1988), and it’s actually more annoying than Chomsky. That’s because it foregrounds all of Chomsky’s worst ideas: universal grammar (UG), the language organ, and principles & parameters. Cook leads off with these things because he presumably finds them the most interesting for the outside world. Ironically, by his own account, these are precisely the ideas that are largely ignored or rejected by psychologists, language acquisition specialists, programmers, and language teachers.

Chomsky’s first books were quite neutral about the psychological status of his grammar– he was after a description of the sentences produced within a language, nothing more, and did not claim that speakers used that grammar in their brains. He has since become ever more convinced that not only is grammar preprogrammed in the brain, it’s programmed according to his system. And yet he develops his system entirely based on intra-theoretical concerns; he has never had any real interest in biological systems, genetics, neural behavior, or even language acquisition.

He even maintains that word meanings are innate, a position which is positively barmy. He finds it perfectly obvious that a word like climb is innately provided by UG. When you hear this sort of thing (Chomsky is not the only offender), take note that words like climb are all they talk about. Did the ancients really have genetically given concepts like airplane, microscope, neutron, phosphate, compiler?  How about scanning electron microscope?  How about generative semantics? It’s simply impossible that our poor little genomes can contain the entire OED; it’s also easily demonstrable that concepts do not neatly coincide between languages. (Takao Suzuki’s Words in Context has a very nice demonstration that words like break are far more complex than they seem, and can’t be simply equated to any one Japanese word.)

On the plus side, innatism on words doesn’t really come up much; on the minus side, Chomsky has doubled down on innatism in syntax, in the form of principles and parameters. This is the idea that UG contains all possible rules, and an actual human language consists of just two things: a small list of binary settings, and a rather longer list of words.

The examples that are always trotted out are pro-drop and head position. Supposedly, Italian is pro-drop and English is not– that is, English requires pronouns and Italian doesn’t.  Got that? Might have to explain more. Not quite so cut-and-dried as all that. Think about it.

Head position is a little harder to explain, but it basically means that the ‘important’ word goes first or last. English is head-first, because we have V + O (kill things), prepositions (on top), and head-first NPS (the one who laughs). Japanese is head-last in all these areas.

One problem: this is hardly binary either. There are good arguments that some languages don’t have VPs at all. Chinese has both prepositions and postpositions, and it isn’t alone. English is only mostly SVO; there are exceptions. Relative clauses arguably don’t attach to the noun at all in Hindi, but to the sentence. Chinese has RelN order combined with V+O.

You could ‘solve’ all this by multiplying parameters. But that only reveals the meta-theoretical problem: the parameters notion makes the theory unfalsifiable. For any weird behavior, you just add another parameter. Cook claims that no one’s found any grammars that don’t match UG, as if that’s a point in favor of the theory.  In fact it’s a point against: UG has been made refutation-proof.

Chomskyans do make a pretty strong claim: children should be able to set a parameter based on very little input– maybe just one sentence, Carnie boldly says. And the evidence from language acquisition… does not back this up at all. Children do not show evidence of randomly using one parameter, suddenly learning a setting, and thereafter getting it right. They show little evidence of learning overall abstract rules at all, in fact.  They seem to learn language construction by construction, only generalizing very late, once they know thousands of words.  See my review of Tomasello for more on this. (Also discussed in my ALC.)

Finally, there’s the infuriating arguments for the language organ. Chomsky, and each of the Chomskyan textbooks, invariably bring out the same tepid arguments. For some reason they always bring up Question Inversion. E.g. what’s the question form of this sentence?

The man who is tall is John.

Chomskyans love to run this through a number (usually two) of impossible algorithms. E.g., reverse every word:

*John is tall is who man the?

Or, reverse the first two words:

*Man the who is tall is John?

All this to come up with the apparently amazing fact that we reverse the subject and the verb:

Is the man who is tall John?

This is supposed to demonstrate the importance of constituent structure: the “subject” is not a single word, but the entire phrase The man who is tall. And this is entirely true! Constituent structure is an important building block of syntax, in every goddamn theory there is. It doesn’t prove UG or any version of Chomskyan syntax.

Plus, the “non-UG” alternatives are pure balderdash; even a completely dense child can see that no one talks that way. Cook talks about “imitation” as a (wrong) alternative to UG, but the default position would seem to be that children are trying to imitate adult speech. Their initial questions are very obviously simplified versions of adult questions. E.g. where bear? instead of where is the bear? The only rule the child needs here is to use only the words it understands.

There’s a gotcha in the sample sentence: there are two is‘s; a child might be tempted to invert based on the wrong one:

*Is the man who tall is John?

The claim is that children get this right without ever hearing examples of such nested sentences. This is the “poverty of the stimulus” argument: children learn or know things that they can’t pick up from the evidence. But the Chomskyans never check to see if their assumption is correct. More empirically oriented linguists have, e.g. Geoffrey Sampson, who found that corpora of language use do include quite a large number of  model sentences.

Moreover, the Chomskyans show little interest in what errors children do make, or what that might mean for syntax. It’s not the case that children always get questions right. They particularly get wh- questions wrong: What that man is doing?

Now, all the language organ stuff turns out to be, in the end, not very important. The Chomskyans forget it by Chapter 3 and so can we. Still, it annoys me that Cook or Steven (The Language Instinct) Pinker lay such emphasis on it, as if it was the Key Insight that separates Chomsky from the clueless masses. The fact that the same simple arguments and examples come up in each exposition should be a clue: this is more an incantation than any kind of knowledge.

Ironically, for such a Chomsky booster, Cook has a short passage that makes some trenchant criticisms of X’ theory. “One feels that the same sentences and constructions self-perpetuate themselves in the literature…” He regrets that X’ theory seems to have narrowed its focus considerably: there’s little discussion of the wide variety of constructions that earlier GG looked at.

Whew! Sorry, had to get all that off my chest.  Now to see if I can finish The Minimalist Program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I picked this up in the Steam sale, but I think I’m done. Though very few of my friends play it, so my guess is that not many people will care.

20180623025129_1

Must be an RPG if you have to talk to gremlins

I love the Saints Row games, and this is by the same studio, so it seemed promising. To a first approximation it is a Saints Row game– just continuing the trend of downplaying the gang angle and upplaying the superheroics.

If Overwatch was a single-player game, it’d probably be like this. Apparently the bad guys, called Legion, have taken over the world, in a bright colorful future, but the titular Agents are on the case. You have a bunch of international agents (though you start with just 3); you more or less have to learn how to play each one, though you can play favorites; you fight cartoon supervillains and their minions. You have what are pretty much special powers on a short cooldown and an ult on a long one.

There’s also races, Legion hotspots to shut down, cars to drive, so it also feels like a Saints Row game.  They even kept one of the weirdest little mechanics of SR: you can “compliment” citizens with a gesture, and they’ll mime one back. There are fleur-de-lis and lots of purple.

You only play as one character at a time. But you have a squad of three, and can switch between them with the mousewheel. And you’ll need to, because a) you’ll need certain characters to whittle down shields and… um, other-shields. (There are two types.) And b) the characters you’re not using recover health, which is the way to get through long boss fights.

What I’m really mad at right now: the piss-poor checkpointing. I couldn’t defeat a boss– OK, fair enough, now I know what to do.  Only there are three stages to this fight, and the checkpoint is before the first one. And really none of the stages are fun or interesting; it’s dash up and do some damage to a turret or the boss, then hide while he uses his weapon, rinse and repeat for more than half an hour. And there’s no way to change the difficulty during a mission, which is simply incredible.

That’s the worst thing, but there’s other ways that the game just falls short.

  • The characters… oh lord. By the time of SR4 its characters– Pierce, Shaundi, Kinzie, even Johnny Gat– felt like old friends. The Agents are all kind of brash and chattery, but not very likeable. They have different abilities, but they’re far less differentiated than Overwatch heroes.
  • In general the writing is kind of excruciating. I get it, it’s Saturday morning cartoons, but even on that level it could be way better… cf. Handsome Jack in Borderlands 2.
  • You get gadgets from each mission, and there’s a load of customizable options, and there’s little guidance on what sort of build you will need. It seems way more fussy and detailed than the story demands.
  • Each agent levels up separately, which puts the new ones at a disadvantage.
  • There’s also a wide range of currency equivalents, which also feels fussy and tedious. Didn’t they realize that SR4’s ‘cache’ worked just fine? Now you have shards and upgrade cores and cash and a bunch of other stuff. (I don’t even know what the cash is for yet.)
  • The locations run heavily to Futuristic Skyscraper and Futuristic Corridors, and the enemies are all Futuristic Minions.
  • It’s set in Seoul– and the city looks good– but there’s about zero local color. Lots of Korean on signs, but since you basically don’t interact with the locals it could have been set absolutely anywhere.
  • One of the unusual pleasures of SR was its diversity…SR4, for instance, just has one white dude in its ensemble cast.  The Agents are multinational, but the cultural depth is about a millimeter. There’s a Brazilian agent, for instance, who speaks… Spanish. (Not that they even bothered with a Spanish-sounding actress.)  There’s an Indian agent, a female, named Rama. I dunno, this is like an Indian game having a white hero named Jesus– who’s a woman.  And despite the setting in Seoul, there’s not a single Korean or even East Asian character so far.
  • Another annoyance: the game plays at Ultra graphics level for me– except it spoils the stupid Hack action; the timing is off.  It’s fixed by moving down to High, but it seems to me they could have made some sort of adjustment for your FPS.
  • And besides the checkpointing problem… good lord are the missions interminable. the one I was on was two hours or so. I’d finish one bit, there’d be a checkpoint for the same mission, and I’d wonder if it was inviting me to replay it… no, it was more frigging supervillain lairs to take over.
  • No clothing shops.  Again, didn’t they play their own games?  Dressing up in SR was fun.

All that was pretty negative, and I have to say (like some of the reviews I’ve seen) that it’s not bad. It’s mostly mindless fun. All the agents get a triple jump, which is pretty fun to move around with. The basic idea is good, and it looks nice.

(I was thinking of picking up Cuphead in the Steam sale too, but decided to wait on that. I’ve seen playthroughs and I fully expect to, like, not even defeat the carrot.  Maybe another year.)