Sunshine Blogger: The Four-ening

We’re continuing our Sunshine Blogging spree by taking on the questions that Red Metal posed for us in his nomination.

And frankly, if you hang around this place, you know Red Metal.  He and I have been blog allies for quite some time.  He does a lot of video game reviews, pulling some rather unsung parts of games history out of the pile as well as the traditional classics.  On top of that, he’s been doing film reviews as well.  Guy puts a lot of content out.  So go check his blog.  You won’t be sorry.  And thank you, Red Metal, for this honor.

Other than that, rules are the same as the last three times.  Or, frankly, any of the many other awards we’ve gotten.  Questions are different, however.  Let’s go!

  1. What do you feel is the ideal length for a studio album (or LP)?

Roundabout an hour is the perfect length for me.  Substantial enough to be getting at an artist’s sound from a variety of angles and to make for a full experience in the car, which is where most of my albums get played, but not so long that you start to get tired of it.

2. Have you ever accidentally rendered a physical copy of a game/film/album unplayable?

Aaaaahhhhaahahahahaaaaaa…. all the time.  Let’s see.  I think first was with a copy of SimCity 2000.  Dropped the disc underneath my computer chair, and in attempting to pick it up, ran the chair’s wheels over it.  Never got that recovered.  My copy of Saints Row wasn’t running as smoothly as I wanted it to, and I had my Xbox in the vertical position.  I wanted to see if it’s work better if it was horizontal, so moved the console while the disc was spinning, and that put in a thick circular scar that made it unreadable.  My local game shop was able to fix it, though.  A similar thing happened with Fallout: New Vegas, when the cat knocked the console over while I was playing it.  Game shop guy came through then, too.  Later, he went out of business, and I bought my own disc grinder for those knocks and scratches.  Got a lot of use out of it, but a few missteps.  I had a used copy of Eternal Darkness that was always in poor shape, but it had degraded to the point where it just couldn’t read anything past a certain point in the game.  Tried to get it in the disc doctor, but the tiny little Gamecube discs didn’t mount correctly, and it ended up in worse condition than ever, to the point that it wasn’t even readable.  And the used disc I bought for Yakuza 4 has a slight scratch in it that had absolutely no effect on the game except for one late game cutscene that it prevented from loading, completely ending progress.  I ran it through the grinder and got the disc in absolutely pristine condition, except for the fact that it didn’t work at all.  Apparently you can’t just grind down the scratches on blu-rays the same way you can with CDs and DVDs. I had to replace the disc entirely.  Save data was on the console, luckily enough.

I swear, I am truly an elegant and graceful person.  These missteps are totally unrepresentative.

3. What series do you feel has a confusing naming convention?

Godzilla is absolutely the worst at names.  The. Worst.  Seriously.  Let’s see if you can follow along with this.

Godzilla (1954) is a different movie from Godzilla (1985), which is different from Godzilla (1998), which is different from Godzilla (2014).  Godzilla, King of the Monsters! and Godzilla: King of the Monsters are different movies.  Mothra vs. Godzilla and Godzilla vs. Mothra are different movies.  King Kong vs. Godzilla is different from the upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong.  Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla are different movies.  Terror of Mechagodzilla is the sequel to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, not Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, which takes place in a completely different timeline than Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.  Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla was notable for having a direct sequel in an era where otherwise every other film around it completely restarted the continuity, but the sequel was titled Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. and didn’t refer to the previous title at all.  However, Mothra vs. Godzilla and Godzilla vs. The Thing are different titles for the same movie.  Same with Ebirah, Horror of the Deep/Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, Invasion of the Astro Monster/Monster Zero, All Monsters Attack/Godzilla’s Revenge, and probably a lot of others I’m not perfectly aware of now.

On top of that, and this seems like a really minor issue now, most over the films are titled something in the structure of Godzilla vs. Other Monster which is only helpful if you can distinguish the names of the monsters.  Do you know the difference between Megalon and Megaguirus, and can tell me whose film features the coveted Big Dumb Godzilla Dropkick?  Becoming a Godzilla fan requires a guide of some sort.

4. What critical darling do you feel completely failed to live up to the hype?

1200px-Psychonauts.jpg

I remember people raving about Psychonauts.  I remember people bemoaning the fact that it’s not talked about more, didn’t sell enough, doesn’t take up enough space in our collective consciousness.

Then I played it.  And you know, I get what people like about it.  It’s got good ideas, it’s got a lot of creativity, it’s really high concept.  It’s just not very fun to play.  The controls are clumsy, the environment is often unresponsive, the challenges before you are really uninteresting, etc.  This is a game that’s a blast to watch, to absorb all the good parts behind it.  Just not to actually get your hands on the controller.

5. Which work do you feel should have deserved more attention?

Time is starting to correct this, but Fire Emblem has long been one of gaming’s unsung treasures.  I love turn-based strategies, but you very rarely get a good series going.  Fire Emblem has earned it’s place as one of the best.  I can understand why it never got much love.  Nintendo didn’t have faith in it on the American market until their character’s placements in Smash drove demand for it, and even then, the rampant permadeath, minimal developmental advancement between entries, and really basic presentation makes it hard to recommend for the general player.  But the strategic gameplay is really solid, and the series always deserved more than just surviving on the very edge of profitability.  From Awakening on up, though, the series has been getting a lot more success, and that’s really nice to see.

Now, if it would just get enough success that you could manage to find a copy on sale or for something less than MSRP even years later, that would make me a pretty happy man.  Nintendo doesn’t really cooperate with deal hunting.

6. Do you prefer a foreign work to be subtitled or dubbed in your language?

Film and TV, I prefer them to be subtitled.  I have a lot easier time with my film-industry burnout stress issues when watching a movie if I don’t understand the language being spoken, for whatever reason.  Video games, I prefer them dubbed, usually, especially if they’re going to be delivering any spoken content outside of cutscenes.  Given that I’m interacting with the work and my attention needs to be going in a couple different directions, having the dialogue draw too much of it away by making me both read and listen and mentally attach one to the other through translation conventions just doesn’t work on the fly.  Video games seem to get higher quality dubs than film and tv as well, that helps.

That said, I’m not super picky on it, and there are times when dubs can improve or reduce the quality of a work.  I just want the best experience available, and I can go between them as needed.

7. Can you remember an instance in which you managed to succeed in a game by the skin of your teeth (e.g. beat a difficult boss with barely any health remaining)?

Lots of times.  I think one of the most glorious times of that was in fighting Artorias in Dark Souls.  And you know what?  You guys were there for it.  Nice to have it recorded for posterity like that.

8. Can you remember an instance in which you got completely robbed playing a game?

Yes, and it still burns me.  No More Heroes has the absolutely worst overworld I have ever seen in games.  It’s big, expansive, takes forever to traverse, and mostly empty.  You have to deal with it, though.  It’s not an optional part of the game.  Specifically, to get your story missions, you have to grind for them.  You have to pay money to get your missions, and the only way to get sufficient amounts of money is through the inane minigames that are scattered around there.  To access them, you have to sign up for them at a central location, drive through the lame overworld to get to them, do the worthless thing, drive back, sign up again, rinse and repeat.  It’s not fun, it’s not engaging, and no matter how anyone tries to say it’s really satire, this is one of the dumbest and most disrespectful things I’ve ever seen anyone include in a game.  The core gameplay is pretty good, so you deal with it, but as you have to do more and more grinding to get to your missions, it really starts to wear thing.

Halfway through the game, you have to pay about $800,000 of game money to access a mission, if I remember correctly.  Tons of grinding.  Contrary to every other mission you’ve been through, when you start this one, it’s just a big long hallway.  No open areas, no twists and turns, nothing really to capture your interest, just long hallway that you fight basic dudes in.  But then you get to the end.  And the boss comes out.  And the bosses are the best part of the game.  This guy looks intense.  This is going to make up for it all.  But who’s that other guy in the cutscene?  And why did he just slice the big boss in half?  And now he’s leaving?  You never got to fight the boss?  Oh well, mission success, now grind $900,000 for the next mission.

I turned the game off then and I have never been back to No More Heroes.

9. What is your favorite arcade game?

15007-Ninja_Baseball_Batman_(US)-1460951888.png

I have not played this since I was a kid, so nostalgia may well be twisting my perspective, but Ninja Baseball Batman was my favorite arcade game as a cub.  The only place I ever saw it was my local Pizza Hut, but I spent so many quarters on that game.  I don’t know if I ever beat it, but I do remember coming really close to the end multiple times.

10.  If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I would make a world tour, and visit the homes of the significant others of all my enemies and take them all on their dream dates.  No romances are so sweet as the one that ruins the life of someone you hate.

11.  What critics (in any medium) do you find to actually be reputable?

These days, not many.  I would much rather get an opinion from one of my fellow content creators than trust a review.  I trust the staff of PC Gamer more than anyone else, however.  It used to be because they were the only outlet I would see that would be openly negative in previews about a game that just wasn’t fun to see.  Everyone else, no matter how they trashed the game when it was released, you could always go back and see those same staff doing their jobs of being good industry outreachers and talking up that exact same game in previews, but PC Gamer would openly state that the games not good.  I don’t see as much of that these days, as I’ve moved away from traditional video games media as a whole, but I still see them taking a more balanced line than other outlets, not so much trying to partner with the publishers until they switch sides so they can milk a bad game or controversy for the big bucks then ingratiating themselves with the publishers once more to start the cycle over again.  I’ve gotten a little bitter about that, haven’t I?

Well, in the interests of sparing LightningEllen, no nominations this time.  Yet.  We’ll see if anyone displeases me first, then they’ll be staring 121 questions down as well.

12 responses to “Sunshine Blogger: The Four-ening

  1. Sounds like discs die in your house as often as I die in Dark Souls haha. These days I mostly buy digital so I don’t have to worry about scratching stuff or misplacing it.

    • I was going to include some hardware mishaps I’ve had, too, but didn’t want to seem too clumsy. I might need to put them all in a case or something. Keep them from my destructive hands.

  2. Yeah, I’d say 45 minutes to an hour is a good length for an LP. You can, theoretically, go on longer, but you would have to cover a lot of ground to justify that.

    I asked this question because I went to a gaming convention recently and heard a sad tale of someone who accidently stored his Purple Rain LP in a hot area and warped it, thereby making it unplayable. The closest I’ve come to doing this was when I sent my copy of Anubis II through a paper shredder, but that wasn’t an accident.

    I’ve only watched the original Godzilla and I have no idea where to go next partially because of its confusing naming convention and partially because I don’t want to be left in the dark when checking out the highlights.

    Psychonauts is a cult favorite, but I kind of wonder if, when I finally set aside the time to play it, it’ll turn out like System Shock 2 wherein I find myself parsing something in the face of what its zealous fans have to say about it.

    And I too am glad Fire Emblem is starting to get recognition because it is a fantastic series. Awakening, Fates, Genealogy of the Holy War, and Path of Radiance are all personal favorites of mine.

    That is pretty much exactly how I feel. When it comes to live-action, I like to see the original acting performances, but because video games and animation are always dubbed, I don’t have a preference in those cases other than whichever one is better

    I’m pretty sure my fight against Ornstein and Smough came down to the wire – I still can’t believe I defeated them on my first try (though I did know to take out Ornstein first). I did beat the final boss of Metroid Prime 3 with only about 10 energy left (it wasn’t actually measured in numbers, so it’s a little difficult to tell); I thought for sure I was about to lose.

    I’m certain that there were instances when playing RPG games in which I would save important things for an incredibly difficult boss fight that never happens.

    I’d say for me, it’s Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga. They’re simple, yet a lot of fun. I especially liked it whenever the Ms. Pac-Man cabinet had the speed-up chip. As strange as it may sound, I find that makes the game easier to play because it forces me to think fast and scan the entire board as quickly as possible. And Galaga is the perfect game to play when you suspect your superiors won’t notice what you’re up to.

    Oh, so you put actual finesse into your revenge schemes? I respect that.

    This is a tentative theory, but I strongly suspect that the whole milking the disasters/controversies for all they’re worth is a significant reason why the press eventually stopped promoting indie games. Before, they seemed a little more interested in the bombastic personalities behind the games (i.e. Jonathan Blow, Phil Fish, and, to a lesser extent, Steve Gaynor), and I don’t think it’s a coincidence when the scene matured and moved away from that, the press ceased covering indie games entirely despite being very enthusiastic about them in the first half of the decade. Without that egotistical posturing, they lost interest in the budding scene practically overnight. Indeed, it was due to the effective use of memes I learned of Undertale, and I found fanart of OneShot while randomly browsing. In other words, the fans have pointed me in the direction of these games far more often than critics have. It’s really sad that the only reason I learned of Cuphead and Dead Cells from the press is due to two significant blunders on the press’s part (which I recently talked about in an editorial).

      • So, fun Godzilla nerd fact, the whole reason Toho made the “millenium series” of Godzilla movies was because of how bad the 1998 film was, and they didn’t want to leave Godzilla at that. In the 50th anniversary film, Godzilla Final Wars, Toho’s Godzilla fights the 1998 Godzilla. It lasts about 45 seconds.

        I’m kind of surprised at the response I’ve been seeing. Is it really just me that that’s happened to, the disc destructions? I’ve gotten a lot of use out of my disc doctor, and I figured that was a common thing.

        Well, as far as Psychonauts go, we’ve got this post here. We’ll see if this draws any fanrage. That can be a good testing ground.

        Oh, that reminds me! I’ve got another example of just barely scraping it through. The last time I played through the Elite 4 in Pokemon Stadium, I was at the last fight, and we were each down to my last pokemon. He had been crushing my team with hyper beam, and my rental vaporeon had taken one, and I new he couldn’t take another. I did my move, and I see ‘Whatever uses Hyper Beam’ come up, and I resign myself to starting the Elite 4 over again… except it misses. Vaporeon’s next move closes the fight. I remember feeling that was pretty glorious.

        That seems like you might have some reason there. Yeah, now that the leading indies producers aren’t… shall we say… strong personalities, and you don’t see as many random upsurges of consumer protest against an indie game having ideas someone of some particular bent or another doesn’t like, you don’t really hear of indie games as much in the press. That’s a really depressing thought, though, that the people who are supposedly giving us the news don’t really care so much for the content as opposed to how much feels can be generated.

      • Did they now? I had no idea. I remember even as a kid being unimpressed with the 1998 Godzilla film (my mom, being a Godzilla fan, hated it as well). It’s hilarious they’d include 1998!Godzilla in Final Wars just to kill him off in a 45-second battle.

        No, I seem to be the only one around these parts who *hasn’t* destroyed a game/film/etc. by accident. I’m surprised how many different ways in which that’s happened.

        That reminds me of a time I defeated a difficult trainer in Colosseum. The opponent was using a Smeargle with an incredibly cheap Hypnosis/Lock-On/Sheer Cold strategy that completely wrecked my team other than my Sceptile. Realizing he was about to get hit with Sheer Cold, I needed him to wake up, use his second-most powerful Grass-type attack (Giga Drain), and score a critical hit in order to win the fight. To this day, I still can’t believe all three of those things happened. Another good one I have is when I challenged a friend to a game of Super Smash Bros. Melee. We were forced to go into Sudden Death mode and we launched an attack at the same time. His landed a few seconds earlier, but both of our characters were sent flying. However, his character fell in the foreground and mine the background, so I won because the latter takes a longer time to register as a KO.

        I’m not sure what those journalists are doing, but it’s clearly not working. As it stands, the only time they’re capable of generating buzz for an indie title is when there’s some sort of scandal going on. I feel there’s a silver lining in all of this, however. I think the very fact that the gaming critical circle is so weak compared that of films actually encourages creativity. With those what does and doesn’t work in that medium so firmly established, even indie filmmakers tend to follow the rules. Conversely, with the rules in gaming so ill-defined, developers can do pretty much anything they want as long as the game itself is good.

    • Well, if we break it down, it’s really only two games I destroyed myself, one game that was broken due to reckless cat-having on my part, and two that I bought used with scratches already on there that prevented progress anyways, so I didn’t really lose much in my attempts to fix them. I am an elegant butterfly outside of that.

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