Sunday, August 19, 2018

Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition Early Impressions

I mentioned in a previous post about assorted video-gaming news that the upcoming release of the updated/"Definitive Edition," of the popular game, "Divinity: Original Sin 2," had a unique promotional feature. The game itself isn't for sale in its new, "Definitive," form until August 31st for PC or Xbox One, but Playstation 4 owners who buy the game now digitally can play through the whole first act, a solid chunk of the game for sure that is advertised as being about, "20 hours worth of content." Seeing as how I have a Playstation 4, wanted to play this game, and have a PC woefully underpowered for it, I figured I might as well give the PS4 version a shot as I was saving-up to buy it anyways as either a physical disc or a digital copy. Having now played a total of 10 or so hours as two different characters I can offer some early impressions.

Now then, this is a game that can take hours upon hours to accomplish, and I have not even completed the first of the three acts that those who bought the game now can already dive into. Therefore, my opinions are by no means a big, comprehensive review. That said, I have enjoyed enough of a chunk of the game to know I really like it. I first started out as one of the premade, "Origin," characters who have their own special quests (and whatever ones you don't play as you can meet in the game). She was an elf with a , "I need revenge," back-story and I got the hang of the controls while I was her, but found the whole, "Angry and quiet badass," routine of the character a little meh. Following two hours as her I decided to play the surreal undead character, Fane, and have not regretted re-rolling as someone else in the slightest.

Fane has an issue where his appearance is that of a skeleton. People do not take kindly to undead so he has to either disguise himself in lots of clothes and a hood or literally take/rip-off the faces of dead enemy races to appear as if he is a human, dwarf, elf, or lizard-creature. Besides being undead he is perfectly friendly (if you want to play him that way) and a scholar. The game starts with he (or any character you play as) stuck on a ship heading to a prison colony for characters with magic powers that threaten reality (there are some plot elements that relate to the first game about all this it seems). Once the ship is wrecked by some otherworldly creatures ("Voidwoken,") you end up on the island and want to escape. From there the game leaves you to wander around, take side-quests, and figure out a way to leave the island through a multitude of options (once you leave the island more areas open-up too). The whole point of the game is to be very open-ended and I greatly enjoyed exploring around and chatting with the assorted characters on the island. Then combat would start.

Fighting in, "Divnity: Original Sin 2," is turn-based and that is good because so many different things can be happening at once you need to go slow and carefully plot your actions. When a fight breaks out the mixture of spells, environmental hazards, armors, weaponry, and the like can make the smallest quarrel feel like an extended slog. You have to flip-through various menus as you try to anticipate and react to a wide array of enemy actions and while there is a fun tactical element to fighting, so many dynamics are happening at once it can be bewildering--especially when you think you've got it all figured out only for everything to suddenly go wrong as fire erupts everywhere, your enemy uses a potion to heal themselves, and your entire party ends-up burnt to a crisp (seriously, fire-related spells and tools are used a lot in this game). I would rather just be chatting with all the cool characters and walking around the beautiful landscapes, but, "DOS2," just loves to throw you into trouble and laughs as you struggle to figure out all the elements of the fight to avoid a gruesome end.
Fire, poison, and menus everywhere?
It must mean there is combat going on.
Considering just how much there is to, "Divinity: Original Sin 2," and this, "Definitive Edition," of the game I have barely scratched the service. There are other races to play as, other classes to master, a whole bunch of environments I have yet to visit; honeslty, I'm still not exactly sure if I've been choosing the right skills for my characters every time they level-up or if I'm dooming myself to speedy defeat as the fights get tougher. From what I have played however I have been having a really fun time, and combat-confusion aside love basically every aspect of the game from the clever writing to how hilarious you can be as a snarky undead gent. I'm excited to continue playing through the rest of this first act and once the full game unlocks on August 31st play the rest of this massive game as well!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Film Friday: Sony, Please Don't Do A Cinematic Universe Of Spider-Man's Secondary Characters Without Spider-Man

Trouble Brewing
The start of something great, or a tipping-point into a terrible idea?
With the upcoming release of the hopefully-decent, "Venom," movie approaching, Sony has made it clear they have big plans for all kinds of movies featuring characters who are best known for their associations with Spider-Man...but these movies will mostly likely lack Spider-Man, and this seems as if it is a terrible idea. Seriously, the more I read the more horrifically stupid this sounds. To understand this upcoming possible future however, we need to understand our history of how it all came to this.

A Fast Review of the Past
"Captain America: Civil War," featured the first shared-rights appearance of Spider-Man.
Let's begin a quick-ish refresher: Marvel was on the verge of bankruptcy in the early 2000's and sold the film rights to various popular characters. Fox snatched-up the Fantastic Four as well as the X-Men (but Marvel's now-owner Disney is getting those back) and Sony bought the rights to Spider-Man and anything associated with his character. From this we got some solid, "Spider-Man," movies featuring Tobey Mcguire as the Web-slinger, and then those, "Amazing Spider-Man," films which the less we talk about, the better. Eventually, Sony and Marvel came to an agreement where Spider-Man could appear in Marvel films and Marvel characters would in turn appear in his films, with each corporate entity retaining the rights to those characters but being able to bathe in the incredible amount of money this deal made.

Here's the thing though, this kind of ties-up Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe for some time and only he (and anyone who appears in his movies that specifically involve him and the Marvel folk) can really be in a Spider-Man related movie by Sony. This means unless we were to get, say, Venom, Morbius, Jackpot, Black Cat, or anyone else in his specific movies Sony can't mention him in any other flick. I mean, these characters can have their own movie, but he can't be in those right now, or else they de-facto are in the Marvel Cinematic Universe too--which ain't part of the deal. I know this sounds confusing, but what I'm basically saying is Sony has all these Spider-Man friends and foes they might like to make movies with, but can't because Spider-Man--whose relationship to them is their defining feature--is tangled-up with Marvel/Disney. Unless of course, Sony made movies with these characters without having Spider-Man actually involved, but that would be pure stupidity and...oh no.

Presenting: Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters...Yes, Really
Just some  examples of what we can apparently expect to be hitting movie-screens in future.
Yes, that is the real name as an article in Variety discusses. Apparently Sony is so confident that characters such as Silk or Nightwatch can stand alone without Spider-Man--despite the fact their entire existence is inexorably linked to Spider-Man--that a whole slate of Spider-Man-less films featuring his secondary characters are planned in the Spidey-less-Sony-verse (I'm gonna trademark that, don't rip me off, Bleedingcool). Now, I am not mocking this idea due to the fact the characters are less-known. Back in 2007 only hardcore comic-book fans could tell you much of anything about Iron Man before the film came out a year later. There is more to this than that.

See, it is perfectly reasonable to take a character people don't know and capitalize on its potential to make a great flick. What isn't reasonable however is to completely get rid of the very thing that defines a character (e.g. how all these folk know Spider-Man). That would be like, "Iron Man," but he never gets injured and then dedicates himself to stopping violence, instead he just keeps selling weapons (that might make a decent, "What-if," comic, but not a movie). To have all these people who basically have as their defining trait--"I know and love/hate/have worked with Spider-Man," be ignored just seems odd and makes me wonder how the characters will even work in a movie. I guess we will see relatively soon with the upcoming, "Venom," flick setting a bit of a tone for what the future holds in Sony's so-called cinematic Universe. I'm not sure how many times I need to say that this whole, "We gotta make a cinematic universe!" idea  studios have is an issue, as while it has worked great for Marvel, that doesn't mean it will always work for everyone--or is even a good idea to try in the first place. It is going to happen again though, apparently, and I sincerely hope Sony knows what it is doing. I honestly hope whatever movies they do end-up making are good and not a total mess, but I'm clearly a bit pessimistic.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Judge Me if You Want, I Love the Viral-Hit Song, "Mooo!"


Just yesterday I was saying how the concept behind the song, "Medicine," was stupid and resulted in a super-weak result. Then, I'm reading the AV Club today and learn about how a rapper from South Africa known as Doja Cat created a jokey song titled, "Moo!" The whole thing is basically an exercise in her doing silly cow and barnyard puns whilst referencing other rap songs with a farm-twist. She is literally rapping as if she were some kind of cow, a concept far-fetched enough as the basis for a jam that it makes me think of the elaborate plots Warren Zevon would weave back when he was alive with his tunes--of course this is moreso incredibly absurd and corny, yet it actually works really well and is quite entertaining. That she made it up basically on the fly as a lark is especially impressive.

There is a smooth beat and the verses are a great mixture of funny, bragging, and self-awareness. The incredibly low video-quality of the music video just adds to the charm, with what I assume to be a production budget of about $10 where Doja Cat dances in front of a really glitchy green-screen featuring cows, food, and for some reason, anime breasts. The biggest, "Special effect," if you want to call it that, would probably be Cat's expert twerking in a cow-print hoodie, which is as weird as it sounds. "Mooo!" is just the right mixture of dumb and ingenious--kind of like the show, "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," with about the same intentionally bare-bones graphics-work. I am intrigued to check out Doja Cat's official release debut now, so I guess that's an example of a viral video doing its work to get people interested in her other musical output!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

I'm Baffled by the Concept of the New Song, "Medicine," by Queen Naija


On the radio I've been hearing a new song titled, "Medicine," by a singer named Queen Naija. It has a catchy sound, but the whole concept of the song is moronic. Basically, she knows the man she is with has been cheating on her with numerous women, which makes her angry (normal concept for a song so far), so she gets revenge by...sleeping with a bunch of guys he knows in order to then tell him about it for no reason other than revenge--wait, what? Seriously, of all the reasons to have sex the idea she is doing it to, "Give you a taste of your own medicine," is one of the worst excuses I have ever heard. We as humans have sex for fun, to relax, and of course if we feel horny, but just to make your spouse angry? I ain't buying it, she's having sex because she wanted to have sex and her man being a scoundrel just serves as a handy excuse, I'd say.

Plus, if this really is a case of just boning a bunch of dudes to make your man, "Cry," how unhealthy a relationship is that where all you do is cheat on each other to cause the other to hurt? Apparently the song draws from a former marriage Naija was in, so thank God they got divorced if this song reflects what their relationship was like. I get the idea of the song, that she feels slighted, but I'd get the concept more if that meant she then went and slept with some former lover or someone she has been fighting feelings for, etc. Instead it is just like, "I'm gonna call up all these guys to spite you!" I just find it baffling, and it results in a pretty weak basis for a song, methinks.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Ed Benes has a Neat New Kickstarter

Back some years ago, on a day I felt particularly salty and cranky, I made a post where I called Ed Benes a hack. Some time later I took a long hard look at his work and myself, and realized the dude had talent and was not a hack, but a creator I enjoyed, as I discussed in another post. After all, there are lots of creators whose work just makes me recoil in disgust (hey there, Greg Land), but Benes ain't bad at all. Hence, in my effort towards self-atonement so I feel like I'm not a mean person, I want to share with folk how I noticed Ed Benes is doing a neat new Kickstarter campaign for a comic-book.

Titled, "Nina and Ariel," it is the first issue of, "A post-apocalyptic sci-fi series inspired by Ed's love of Heavy Metal Magazine and similar European comics of the time, and also the work of Frank Frazetta (Fire & Ice, etc)." Also, it puts fears of long delays to rest, assuring backers, "All of the work is done...book has been scripted, drawn, lettered, and colored.  Now all we need is to send it off to the printer!  The Kickstarter campaign is going to help us cover all print costs, and will also allow us to pay the creators, and to get issue 2 into production as soon as possible!" Benes is the writer and artist with some other folk on coloring, lettering, etc. It looks fun and for just $4 you can get a PDF or pay a smidgen more for a physical copy, up to big bucks for all kinds of variant covers and goodies. It looks like a legitimately fun comic with some sharp illustrations (Benes ain't phoning it in on this labor of love) and as someone who loves sci-fi it has my attention.
page
I'm not proud of when I was needlessly mean to Benes, but think that since my initial apology-post and now telling folk about the comic I hopefully have made it up to guy. Plus, I of course backed the campaign so that I can get a copy of my own to read and enjoy. I would encourage you to do so as well by following this link.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Scattered Observations on the Latest Video-Game News

Scraps for Lunch!
This isn't a post full or links or a well-focused article. It is some assorted thoughts on video-game news I've been reading lately. In other words, I have enough content to make a single article out of some scraps of ideas and you're going to read these scraps and enjoy them! Please?

Snippets of Thought
I am of course someone who loves the, "Fallout," series of games whether it is the classic isometric 1st and 2nd, the masterpiece that is 3, or the stellar 4 (I never played, "New Vegas," I know, I suck). With that said, the idea of a multiplayer-focused Fallout game such as, "Fallout 76," just does not appeal to me, at all--especially as more details come out. I mean, having lived in West Virginia for some time growing-up I do find it cool that there is a game set in that state, but I've always most enjoyed the, "Fallout," series when it is a solitary experience with just me and maybe an NPC comrade to help carry all my junk. The whole point of a nuclear post-apocalypse is that things will be lonely, and slapping something akin to an MMORPG on the mold with a bunch of other folk running-around just seems a bit odd for this franchise.

In this era of the internet it astounds me someone would try to plagiarize anything considering how easy it would be to check if they did. Well, apparently a reviewer for IGN did so with his review of the game, "Dead Cells," and got fired for it. I just feel bad that the team behind the mostly well-reviewed game are having to put-up with this fiasco occurring over their title.

The original, "Red Dead Redemption," game surprised everyone by coming-out with basically zero expectations regarding it and being an amazing mixture of adventuring, wild-west gunplay, and a depressing-but-touching plot. Since then people have been clamoring for a sequel and while one was announced a bit ago, precious little had been revealed. Finally more drips-and-drabs are coming out and it looks like, "Red Dead Redemption 2," will be quite fun, but I wonder if it will be able to live-up to the now immense expectations facing this series?

Some developers keep adding to a game even after it is, "Done."
Imagine spending a couple years, half a decade, or even a full 10 years working on a game, putting in your blood, sweat, and tears. Then it comes out and you're left asking, "Now what?" in a mixed state of relief and dread. As you can imagine, the whole thing is bittersweet.

In this supposedly more advanced and progressive day and age it is depressing to think we still need to have these articles about sexism and discrimination at a big company such as Riot Games. It is depressing because one would hope such articles aren't needed, and it is upsetting because without an exposé the problems would undoubtedly continue.

Lastly, I read many stellar things about, "Divinity: Original Sin II," on the PC and continue to get more and more excited for its release on the Playstation 4. Apparently if you pre-order the digital download of the game you can play the first, "Act," now. It's an interesting way to draw consumers in for sure, like a mega-demo of sorts, I suppose.

Full Now?
I hope you found these pieces of video-game news and observations filling enough. Between the good and the bad there clearly is a lot of interesting things going on with games. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna look into this whole, "Play the first act free," thing with, "Divinity: Original Sin 2."

Friday, August 10, 2018

Rant-Reviews--What I Read The Past Couple of Days

A Quiet Moment
I think we all know that life can be busy, I know mine is. Therefore, when I don't have anything I immediately need to do I try to get in some reading as I of course love comics and books. I had a quiet moment or two the past couple of days  that allowed me to read some new comics I acquired this week. Therefore, let's dive-in to discussing some comic-books, shall we?

What I Read
Farmhand #2
Written and illustrated by Rob Guillory, known by many for his artwork on another Image series, "Chew," this comic is incredibly weird...which means it is perfect for me. A fascinating blend of humor, horror, and mystery, it centers on a farm that uses advanced stem cell technology to grow human body parts from literal plants, plus how the son of the farm's founder has a strained-at-best relationship with his Dad. The comic juggles high-concept sci-fi, family drama, corporate intrigue, and a good deal of jokes but Guillory balances it all out perfectly to give readers a comic I so far adore just two issues in. The book is an ongoing series with a lot already going down, so I'm excited to keep reading based on what's been foreshadowed so far!
5 out of 5 stars.

Beast Hunter X #1
I'm almost always a fan of Mike Wofler's writing and/or artwork, with his comics that carry a strong sci-fi and/or horror-focus often being a favorite of mine. His latest comic, "Beast Hunter X," has an interesting concept with a mixture of known horror monsters (vampires, werewolves) having to come together to face a new and scary creature. It raises a number of questions/mysteries and is jam-packed with all kinds of fighting and gun-play. In the back-matter Wolfer discusses how he was going for a 1980's horror-vibe like the old flicks full of creatures and nasty explosions. I would say Wolfer nails the tone perfectly and the art mostly compliments his writing with it sometimes being a bit scratchy for my tastes but otherwise solid (Demi Mandir does art). It's a delightful first issue and if Wolfer's past work is any indicator, this is going to be a great series!
4 out of 5 stars.

Automa #5
I greatly enjoyed my interview with Charles Forsman I did previously, which included us discussing his comic only Patreon supporters (or stores that support the Patreon who want copies to sell) could acquire. This series, "Automa," is that comic, and considering how good it is I'd encourage everyone who is able to contribute $3 Forsman's way to do so--that way they'll be able to love this book as much as myself. This issue has a lot of trippy visuals as the protagonist, Lee, deals with the fact that his robotic-arms from the future are basically taking over the rest of his body (if you read the comic it makes sense). Forsman is a fantastic illustrator and these surreal dream-style sequences are a treat to read, even if it is at the expense of further plot development this issue. It's rad stuff however, and if you go support his Patreon you too can enjoy, "Automa," as much as I do.
5 out of 5 stars.

Michael Cray #10
While the main, "Wildstorm," book written by Warren Ellis has been amping-up more and more with a war brewing between two secret organizations that monitor/control Earth and Space, its spin-off comic, "Michael Cray," has been more low-key, having our protagonist stop twisted versions of DC heroes in this strange world. At first the book followed a routine where for two issues Cray would fight someone and move onto the next threat with an over-arching theme slowly becoming apparent that there was a whole lot more going on than met the eye, and since about issue #7 the big plot has become apparent with Cray fighting an alien parasite within his brain that may actually tie back into the main Wildstorm book in some ways whilst also dealing with quite evil versions of John Constantine and Diana Prince. It's been a good read and it wraps-up in just two more issues, so I hope it, "Sticks the landing." Based on how enjoyable the book has been so far I'm not worried, however.
4 out of 5 stars.

Predator: Hunters II #1
With a new #1 to kick off its second volume of the, "Predator: Hunters," mini-series, Dark Horse continues this series intriguing take on the Predator concept, namely it pits the alien/aliens against humans who know from the start what they are up against. This is admittedly a hokey, "Hunter becomes the hunted," concept, but it actually works quite well with the Predator, as so often the character is the cat in a game of, "Cat-and-mouse," resulting in it being a fun twist when the tables are turned. What's left of our team from volume 1 now heads to Afghanistan and it seems there are other parties interested in the Predators as well. This issue also has some exciting and gory Predator-action so I was pleased with the mixture of plot, blood, and general mayhem.
4 out of 5 stars.

Fantastic Four #1
I just recently talked about how it felt like there wasn't much hype for the return of the Fantastic Four in their own comic. After I made that post I had one personally anonymously comment on the blog to say they were excited and my friend James Doe (real name) told me on Facebook he was pumped too..so yeah, I guess at least two people in the world are clamoring for a, "Fantastic Four," comic. Having read the Dan Slott-scripted comic I now can conclude that it is alright, but nothing amazing. The issue is mostly place-setting for the team to reunite and we witness Doctor Doom retake Latveria in an epilogue that was pretty cool because things actually happen in it. Otherwise, little occurs besides the Thing getting engaged to Alicia Masters--which is sweet--and it becoming apparent the team will finally reunite in the next issue. For a big-deal #1 this is a pretty quiet and low-impact return of this book. It wasn't bad though, just relatively unimpressive AKA average. Now I'm just curious what my aforementioned chum, James, thought of it.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

Relaxation and Writing
Some people hate writing, but I enjoy it so I took this free time to offer my thoughts on some assorted comics. I hope you enjoyed reading my opinions and are now inspired to seek-out (or even avoid) some books.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Stock App Robinhood is Interesting, Fee-Free, and Useful

When it comes to the stock market it can seem a little mysterious. Sometimes we think of the stock market as if it is this strange ethereal concept that can impact the economy but with little to do with us in our day-to-day lives. We might be interested in the stock market, but how can we take part in it without an expensive broker or paying fees? There have been some apps with the idea to give everyone access to the stock market, but one by far getting the most buzz is Robinhood. I thought I would try it out on my iPhone, and I like it.

Robinhood has gotten a lot of press for allowing people to simply verify they are a U.S. Resident, link their bank, and get to work buying and selling stocks. The are no fees, with the idea instead being to offer a, "Gold," level for people who do a lot of stock-trading and to continue growing a user-base. Also, people can invite friends and get a free random stock, which is cool. Once the app approves you things are as simple as putting in some money and getting to work at trading stocks during the business hours the market is open (if the market is closed you can make a purchase or sell order to execute the next day). The app shows you how well a particular stock you pick has been doing over time, will provide links to news, and otherwise is extremely user-friendly.
Robinhood also allows people in a small number of states that allow it (19 so far) to invest in Cryptocurrencies such a Bitcoin. I of course am not a big fan of Bitcoin or other digital-currencies so that interests me very little, but I know some folk love the stuff. As those, "markets," never close people can buy or sell digital coins at any time too whilst their so-called markets rise and fall. As with stocks, you transfer money from your bank to trade these faux-coins. Again though, the stocks are more interesting to me.

To test out Robinhood I transferred in $50 and bought a stock in Funko, Snapchat, an electric car charging company I read about online called Blink, and some really cheap, "Pennystocks," like company behind Moviepass that is currently hemorrhaging money and has their stock for about 7 cents each. I proceeded to sell the pennystocks a few hours later when it hit a high and made like 10 cents, sold Snapchat before its, "Earnings Call," and made 50 cents, found my Blink stock went down enough I lost 20 cents, and Funko basically held steady enough I bought another stock of it. My, "portfolio," is currently two stocks in Funko and one in Blink. If I were made of money I could of course invest a ton into playing the stock market and either become millionaire or go broke and live in the gutter. I don't have that kind of capital though, so I'm perfectly happy to watch as my Funko stock hopefully climbs over time and make a few bucks.
My testing-out Robinhood with $50 was of course using it on a very small-scale, but I still found it fascinating, full of information, easy to trade stocks with, and love how there is absolutely no fee to use it (just bonus features for the gold level). I've told some chums about Robinhood and hope we each get some free stocks from my referrals as well. I'd encourage people to try it out, but to make sure they of course invest responsibly and try and get a referral link from a friend so you can take advantage of a free stock!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Breakfast Food is the Best Food

No, This Isn't Open to Discussion
I believe that Breakfast food is the best food, and that eating breakfast foods should never be limited to just the morning. I love waffles, pancakes, and french toast for a carb as well as bacon, sausage, or ham for meat. A tasty scrambled egg is always delightful as well and you know I love potatoes whether they be cubed or shredded! I don't get why we can eat lunch items at dinner and vice-versa, yet folk think its quirky to desire some biscuits and gravy at 5PM. Breakfast is delicious, and should be an option at any time of day. I posted about this on Facebook and found an overwhelming number of people agreed with me. It's anecdotal evidence, sure, but if I could get everyone on Facebook to actually agree about something in this era of division, that's pretty encouraging.

Corporations know that having breakfast available anytime is good for business. Look at how popular Cracker Barrel is, or the fact that McDonald's finally started serving their most popular breakfast items all day a few years ago. Plus, White Castle is aware that as much as people might crave their burgers, it is also a good idea to have the breakfast choices as an option at all times. Breakfast is awesome and I will gladly eat it anytime of day. You can disagree with me on this if you want, but you would be wrong.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Mercari is a Terrible App for Sellers

A chunk of time ago I made a post about how I enjoyed using Mercari to purchase items. Since that time I started selling items on Mercari sometimes too, listing comic-books, Funko Pops, clothes, etc. After a number of bad experiences as a seller and the worst one just occurring, I can say I personally feel Mercari is a terrible app for anyone wanting to sell anything. Curious how I came to that conclusion? I shall break it down...

Now, people will sometimes complain about eBay and how it, "Always sides with the buyer," but I personally have never had a bad experience with eBay customer service when I have needed to reach out to them via phone or email. Meanwhile, with Mercari I've had it happen to me and read about it happening to other people where a buyer will complain something was damaged or not how they wanted, and be allowed to return it with no investigation. They don't have to supply pictures of damage, or that the item wasn't packed well, etc. Now then, this time I had a Pop I sent someone and they said it was damaged, so they of course were allowed to immediately return it. I noticed they had negative feedback and probably were pulling a scam. Mercari didn't care. I requested I still at least get credit to buy stuff if not my full payment--Mercari said no. I repeated how this was most likely a scam of them replacing my Pop with one that was already damaged and it fell of deaf ears. I then sent the last message below:
As you can see, I pointed out how I was done with the app and felt other ones were more deserving of my selling on them--after all, without sellers these apps lack anyone to draw fees from. The response was one of indifference and basically the same snarky tone I encountered my entire time I was working with customer service on this issue. I'd had problems with Mercari before--as I've said--but this was just atrocious and beyond anything I'd ever had occur with any other selling app or website. Oh, and the Pop was returned and I'm pretty sure they did a scammy swap-out as I suspected.

It is needless to say I don't plan to sell on or buy from Mercari ever again in the future. I would much rather buy and sell at the many other options that exist such as eBay, Poshmark, OfferUp, Facebook's Marketplace, and other sites/apps I'm surely forgetting. If Mercari wants to have such blatant disregard for the people who make it turn a profit, they don't need me, and I surely can go without them.