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It's not really a secret I'm a fan of the Sonic series. I've mentioned it before in at least one blog. It's not my number one favorite series ever in the history of the world or anything, and in fact, I haven't even played a Sonic game recently besides for still not having finished Lost World on the 3DS. It's still been a big part of my life and I'd be lying if I said, for the most part, I've enjoyed the majority of the games the franchise has offered.
Yes, that includes this one. To this day I actually just don't get the hate this gets. Is it really just because it's different? Is that all?
As some of you may know - who am I kidding, the second you saw the word "Sonic," it probably was the first thing that came to mind - the series recently branched off into cartoons again, the newest series going by the name of Sonic Boom. Obviously, because we're all gamers here, the games that came along with this show get more attention, but as I've said in many comments before, I really don't think they deserve the attention they've gotten.
Knuckles' new design might be worth a discussion in itself, but that's an entirely separate one that, as I hope to explain, isn't really tied to the games. For now, have the classic.
If you look at, well, just about any article these days that's about the Sonic franchise, you'll notice that there's a lot of negativity. It's not new, but I think it's gotten especially bad now, myself. Comments like "It's a dead horse!" "Why don't you kill it already?" "They're still making these?" will run rampant - along with comments like "Generations and Colors were the last good ones." or "That kart racing game was awesome." occasionally. For the most part, though, it's pretty negative, and while the whole "Sonic Cycle" thing was pretty bad in the 2000s, after Sonic Boom, it seems like it's reached a whole new level.
And I honestly just don't think it should have.
To preface the rest of this article, I want to emphasize one thing: I am absolutely not trying to defend the quality of the Sonic Boom games, nor am I trying to say we should excuse the kind of experience (or lack of) that they offer to players. In my opinion, I think it might have been better for all if they hadn't been released at all, but there's nothing that we can do about that. So no, that's not what I'm doing. What I am trying to do is merely explain that no matter what kind of games these were, are, or could have been, they should not make you feel any differently about the franchise as a whole or its future outside of potential Sonic Boom titles.
Now then, for those of you who haven't already scrolled down to leave a comment, let's begin!
We first heard about Sonic Boom all the way back in October of 2013. However, what we heard was that it would be a cartoon aimed at kids and that's it. It wasn't until February 2014, nearly half a year later, that we even learned games would be part of the picture.
I don't want to sound like I'm talking down to anyone, but this is important for a few reasons. I've said it a few times, but basically, the Sonic Boom TV show was always really the main product and source of quality (as in where it was going and being put on the creators' side) here. That's what they're getting your eye with. Look at the second article for a moment:
"Additionally, merchandise based on the Sonic Boom franchise will be available as well, in the form of new toys by TOMY, including action figures, plushies, vehicles and more. Sega will further broaden the merchandising possibilities by launching a licensing program to include publishing, accessories, food, health and more."
Do games normally get things like that? Some do, and certainly once they hit it really big, but not usually - it's typically TV shows and cartoons that are treated with that kind of booming merchandise. In fact, it's that kind of approach that's done Level-5 wonders in Japan, but it takes the cartoons for them to do it. The problem is here that in this case, I think most can agree that at the end of the day, the quality that might be in the show isn't present in the games - it might not be in the rest of the merchandise either.
But people still bought it. And that's just it. That's the sad truth of it, I think. All of these things - the games, the toys, the plushies, the food - it was for the money. If you look at it like that, it makes even more sense how even from early on they were saying that this was separate from the normal and usual Sonic experience, that it was its own thing. Which, let's be honest, it pretty clearly is. But if this really blew up, they could always fall back on that, and they haven't even needed to yet. They must have gotten what they wanted even so.
And I'm not saying it was a good thing that they did this, not at all, but let's not act like these games are something else. This was no Sonic the Hedgehog 2006. Sonic '06 was a hyped up game to lead a franchise into the next generation of consoles and was, by most accounts, pretty much a disaster.
But these Sonic Boom tie in games? They're money grabs based on a cartoon. That's all. There isn't even a comparison to be made here. If you want to compare fairly, either compare them to games that the developers had made previously (which we're going to talk more about in juuuust a second) or talk about games in the same situation. That's games like this, this, or even this.
Or this, which I think I still have somewhere.
Basically, these Sonic Boom games, like those games, are just part of a bigger picture. And that bigger picture usually involves just throwing something out with familiar faces on it and hoping people throw money at it in response. Skip to about 9 minutes in here. "Sonic '06 looks so good right now!" are among some of the comments the Rugrats game the Game Grumps are playing gets.
With these games? Their overall quality was, ultimately, insignificant. It's sad, but if you look at the sort of games like it... Really, all that mattered is that people bought them. It's probably why review copies weren't offered before release, among other things. They wanted to get their money and be in and out. That's not to say these games were meant to be terrible, I don't think so, in fact I don't think that's ever the case with anything most of the time, but they just weren't the priority of Sonic Boom as a whole. Sure, you can say it was dishonest of them to hype up something like this, but what, are they going to tell people not to buy it? It's a product and they want it to sell. Of course they're going to hype it up.
Now let's talk developers. The two Sonic Boom games not only were developed by two different developers, they were developed by teams who had not only never worked on a Sonic game before, at least as far as I can tell, but unless my lengthy Google search of three minutes failed me, one of them had never even actually released a game before. Regardless, the point is that these games, which we've already established fall pretty clearly in the "spinoff" category, which is the next topic, of new games in a franchise, were basically outsourced.
With that in mind, I really have to ask... So long as following titles use different developers, even if these were main titles in the series, shouldn't that pretty much mean we're in the clear? At least in regards to Sonic Boom's standing on the franchise? So when we get news that Sonic Team wants to keep making console games for the series, if nothing else, shouldn't people at least not have Sonic Boom in mind when they react? The last Sonic games Sonic Team made, before Sonic Lost World, were the typically well received Sonic Generations and Sonic Colors. Isn't it a good thing that the team who made the games people keep referring to is still interested in making console titles?
Yes, I realize that they're all "Sonic" games, but we're talking about a huge franchise here - and huge franchises tend to have spinoffs, collaborations, and yes, outsourced products. Let's look at a few for a moment now.
Does anyone even remember this?
This particular Sonic game was developed by BioWare, and for the most part, you can tell it was developed by someone else. You can also tell from the title that, going into this, they probably hoped it was going to be the start of something big. Remember, this was in the time during which Sonic handheld games were doing great. The Sonic Advance and Sonic Rush series are considered fan favorites, Sonic Rivals has its share of fans, and Sonic Battle is one of the best games the franchise has ever offered in my humble opnion.
This, though? Obviously, there was never a sequel - never a followup to the sequel hook ending, never another five minutes of the characters praising BioWare's greatness at the end of the game. This was it.
Personally? When I think about this game, both its faults and its positives, I think about BioWare. Sure, Sega and the rest probably had plenty of input, but you can tell that BioWare had a lot of control - for one thing, there's a ton of influence from the comics and cartoons in this, generally stuff that had never really been part of the games before (save for some cameos in Sonic Spinball) and are mostly things Western fans like and prioritize - often over the games themselves.
By the way, his name is Dr. Eggman.
Why do I think about BioWare? Because BioWare developed it. Again, Sega obviously had their input - it's their product, ultimately their risk, and clearly the proof of that is in Sonic Boom's reception - but it's still a BioWare developed game all the same, and I'd say they should have their credit for it, good and bad.
Oh, and before I get too far and forget, I want to point out something: The Sonic Rush, Sonic Advance, and Sonic Rivals series I just mentioned? Or even the Sonic Chronicles that could have been? All spinoffs of the bigger Sonic picture, all sub-series within the greater one.
So if we/you/I want to ignore the whole "it's a cartoon tie in" aspect of Sonic Boom, we can still do that and have this conversation. But then, even then, Sonic Boom is still merely just another sub-series in a larger franchise as a whole. It was an experiment, and if it failed, they can learn from it and try again or do something else. Or they can abandon it, like they did Sonic Chronicles and the Sonic Storybook Series, which had all of two games, and the first was only considered one after the second game out and announced the sub-series in the first place... and look how that wound up.
Need another example? Okay, one more!
Now who remembers these games?
I'll be honest, I liked the Sonic Riders series. Not as much as I've come to like the newest kart racer, but still quite a lot. This, unlike Sonic Chronicles, was developed by Sonic Team - but like it, it isn't a "main" Sonic title. It's a Sonic Riders game. It has Sonic in it, it's got a lot of Sonic stuff going on, but it's clearly denoted as being a Sonic Riders game, and sequels, if you notice, all still hold the Sonic Riders in the title. It's a sub-series in a larger franchise. Even within what is considered the "main" series, you have the Sonic Adventure games pretty notably set apart, both in how they're named and how they play.
Now let me ask: If it Sonic Riders had failed, would it have meant that Sonic was doomed and the franchise should have no longer been getting games?
If you think yes, then here's a different question to put that into perspective.
If Mario Kart had been a complete and utter failure, if it had been a terrible game beyond a shadow of a doubt, should they have stopped making Mario games altogether?
What about Paper Mario or Luigi's Mansion or Mario Party? What about the various Mario RPG spinoffs? What about the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games or Pokemon Conquest? Should we never get another Pokemon game because of Pokemon Shuffle and its microtransactions? If everyone had hated Hyrule Warriors, should development of the upcoming Legend of Zelda Wii U title been halted then and there because of it?
You might think those arguments are a stretch, but I strongly disagree. If we shouldn't get any more Sonic because of Sonic Boom, then all of those questions are just as fair game, I say. I'm not saying there shouldn't be a discussion about direction and focus about the series, but that really doesn't have anything to do with a spinoff like this, and if you ask me, prior to Lost World, it seemed like they were finally getting that anyway.
And speaking of things that are a "stretch," seriously, what did Knuckles ever do to them?
Obviously, Sonic the Hedgehog is a series that's had issues with inconsistent quality that those other ones haven't had, which is perhaps the main reason for all of this. It's not unlike the drastically overblown response Rockman Xover got, when the worst the it really had was extremely poor timing.
But the thing is, stuff like spinoffs and tie ins, it's not something that's unique to big franchises anymore. Was it ever, really? The Neptunia franchise has already had quite a few collaborative spinoffs now - Tamsoft, of Senran Kagura fame, did a Neptunia game that is basically Senran Kagura with Neptunia characters in it and is due out later this year. We have Etrian Odyssey Mystery Dungeon on the way, and Persona 4 Dancing All Night is like this too. The Persona 4 Arena games are as well, in a way.
So yeah, I'm aware that the series hasn't been at top speed in recent years, and as a fan of the series, having to sit through every Sonic '06 or Sonic Lost World while we wait for the next Sonic Unleashed or Sonic Generations can be pretty rough. Dragon Ball Z fans may have been feeling that way for a long time before the recently released Xenoverse. Whatever the case, one thing we shouldn't do is let something like Sonic Boom make us give up. Sonic Boom, man, those games just don't matter, guys. Don't let them bring you down. They're not worth it.
And even if you want to compare them to Sonic '06, even if you absolutely have to do that, then just think about what happened after Sonic '06. We got the second Sonic Rush and Sonic Riders games, the Sonic Rivals games, three great games that all continued to build off each other: Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Colors, and Sonic Generations, Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing Transformed, and probably a few other things.
Maybe you aren't a fan of all of those things I listed and maybe you're a fan of some things that have come out since that I didn't. If we were due for another Sonic '06, then maybe it means it's because a lot of great stuff is going to be on the horizon after - or Sega will go under and Capcom will buy Sonic and we'll never see him again. I don't know. I can't tell the future, and maybe I'm wrong about a lot of this. I expect a lot of disagreement, but everybody's got their views, and that's fair.
My point is, for every Sonic '06, we got quite a few things after it - so maybe instead of focusing so much on the bad, we need to think about the good a little more. In the grand scheme of things, Colors and Generations are still fairly recent games. The Mario Galaxy games are considered fairly recent in the grand scheme of things, and the first is already almost ten years old.
If you scrolled down to the bottom or if this was just way way way too long, then I just want to leave you guys with this:
When we're talking big franchises like this, you have to think big sometimes - and most of all?
What happens in spinoffs, good and bad, usually stays in spinoffs. Especially the bad. They're there for experimenting (and often easy money), after all.
If you still disagree with every single I've said here, then I really can't add much more than I already have I'm afraid. I guess I can only just reassure you of this much. And that's that this is...
Nothing personnel, kid.
So the Playstation Vita is turning three. Me? I think that's pretty awesome. It's probably been one of the consoles I've gotten the most out of, handheld or otherwise, but to some, it just isn't all that. I know that for many, it just doesn't have games they like, and I respect that. I've gone three generations hesitating on getting a Microsoft console because I only want a few things on them, and ultimately never done it, so I can relate to that feeling. But some of the comments I see directed towards the Vita go beyond that - mainly the people acting like it has no support, that it's dead, or that it has no games.
Now at some point, somehow I convinced myself that people who say "Vita has no games" or "Vita has no support" didn't really mean it. I convinced myself that no one in their right mind would ever actually mean this seriously, they're just using it as shorthand for "I say, this particular console of the video gaming variety simply does not have enough games that I would personally enjoy enough to warrant the purchase, but I am obviously aware that it actually has games on it! How dare you think otherwise? I say!" ... Well, or they're a troll, in which case their opinion and anything they have to say is worth, well, nothing, but it looks like that isn't as much the case as I thought it was.
So what can you do?
Not much! I could blow an hour replying to comments on a blog or another one here making this even longer than it has to be, having the same conversations I've had dozens of times about this console, but what's the point? People have their minds made up. I do too for that matter - so instead, I figured I'd just do this and leave it at that.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, VITA!
You're three now and your parents seem to hate you - actually a lot of people seem to hate you for some reason - but I don't! And as it turns out, there are quite a few developers and fans out there who don't either. So, on this, the day relatively close to the day of my currently most used console's third birthday, I'd like to just take a moment and point out that, despite all these comments of "Vita has no games," while it may not have games you want, it does definitely have plenty of games.
In fact, according to Wikipedia's games lists, including unreleased games, the Vita has 950 games to the 3DS' 603 - and while I can't speak for the 3DS list, I know the Vita one is missing quite a few. Obviously, quantity doesn't always equate to quality, but since "no games" is a comment directed exclusively at quantity, I think we'll ignore that argument for a moment.
Anyway, now that we're all cozy and warming up our angry comments, let's take a look at some of the things the Vita has to offer.
Most often, the primary complaint (besides for pricing) directed at the Vita is that it doesn't have enough exclusives. For me, this doesn't matter too much since, as the Vita is my main gaming device, multiplats and ports are essentially exclusives anyway since they're games I probably just wouldn't ever play if they weren't on the Vita, and I know that's true for other Vita owners as well.
However, as I said earlier when I mentioned Microsoft consoles, it's still a mindset I can understand. I didn't get a 3DS until Pokemon arrived for it, and since the Vita doesn't have any equivalents to that, some will have to look at its exclusives as a whole rather than looking for the right ones to make the purchase worth it like a 3DS. But does the Vita have exclusives like that? Are any of its non-exclusives worthwhile either? What about the ports, the indies, are any of those things any good?
Nooooo, of course not! After all, it doesn't have games!
Or ... Or does it?
Well, let's see:
Holy shit! That's quite a selection, isn't it? Exclusives, ports, multiplatform games, indies, imports, upcoming games... Of all kinds of genres and origins too! And I'm leaving plenty of games out as well - including, among other things, all the PSP, PS1, and PSM games it can play. You'd be surprised how many Vita capable games I didn't fit on there. Sure, there's definitely a lack of some things on there...
... but it's still pretty darn varied in what you can pick from. I'm actually a little surprised myself, to tell you the truth.
But don't get me wrong here. I'm not going to say you have to like these games now that they've all been pointed out to you and lined up like that. Not at all. And if you don't think that games "count" because you can get them or games in the same series or different versions of those games elsewhere, well, that's your prerogative - but they're still games and they're still on the system. Just as you can say "well I can play them on my PS3/PC/phone/genitals, so why would I want a Vita?"" I might say "well I can play it on my Vita, so why would I want any of those things when I can use my Vita?"
Except one of those things. Kiiiiiind of need one of them. After all, there are some games I want to play with Remote Play on my Vita. ... Oh, and the genitals might be nice too. Okay, fine, I need two of those things.
So don't get me wrong - I'm not saying "Haha, I proved you wrong, now go buy a Vita!" - not at all. I'm not trying to convince anyone to buy anything - quite frankly, I don't care if you go out and buy one or not. I'm happy with my Vita most of the time, and that's what matters to me. All I'm trying to do is, besides for wish one of my favorite consoles in recent memory a happy birthday, show that, despite popular belief, the thing does in fact have games, and a lot of them at that.
So if nothing else, if there's anything we can give this little console for its third birthday, let's stop saying it has no games.
Instead? Say it has no or not enough support from Sony if you want instead - I'd be right behind you on that. I could go on and on about the ways Sony has failed this thing. Poor marketing, constantly just dumping first party games on PSN as digital only releases without enough or even any marketing, treating it like a companion device, abandoning development on games, not pushing for development or taking risks on the thing---
Seriously, looking at the Sony side of things, it's just a mess. It's hard being a Vita fan and seeing Sony build up a big announcement at an event after basically completely ignoring the Vita during the previous ones... only for that announcement to be a PS1 Classic, a port of a game other consoles are getting much earlier, and some multiplatform titles. I get it. I really, really get it guys - I've had my Vita since launch, I get it all. It's amazing how many indie and third party developers (and how Sony in Japan) still develop for this thing despite that, but they sure do deliver where Sony isn't.
Did you know there's a rumor now that might have been an inFamous game coming to this thing at one point? And then you remember there's that canned Bioshock one and just... Fuck. Someone hold me.
So it may not have a good mom and dad - but games? It's got games - and even if you prefer to play or already played the ports and multiplats and indies on other consoles, you just can't deny that the library has a lot of good ones, all in one great, pocket sized place.
Sure, they may not be games you want or can appreciate (or understand, in the case of imports, but quite a few are still pretty easy to play even with the language barrier), and that's fine, but the system is absolutely still getting support. It may not be from Sony, it may not be from the people you and even I wish it was coming from, but it is there, and we need to stop acting like it isn't. Sony might actually start giving a damn if people at least acknowledged that much, even if they didn't own the thing.
Now then! With that all said?
Let's all get super wasted and cry about that inFamous game not coming out!
Today's blog is going to be a little different. Today's blog is going to be a little more sentimental than my last few. Today? We're going to talk about Two and A Half Men.
Before anyone thinks I mean anything other than the show that led to WINNING, no, let's get this out of the way - that is exactly what I mean.
First, I'm going to give a little backstory here. Not on the show, but a little on how it came into my life. Twelve years ago, yes it's been around that long, someone very major in my life started watching it. That person walked out on my life some time ago, much more recently in fact - which, as I write this, makes me realize that there are a few parallels here and there, but I'd rather not get into those for... well, let's just call them reasons' sake.
The point is, twelve years ago, I was exposed to this show, and soon enough, once it started getting reruns on... Fox or WB (is it even WB anymore?), channels we otherwise never watched, we would watch reruns straight through. Two episodes a day. Five days a week. Every week. For years. Plus whenever new episodes were on. I know some of this show's dialogue far better than any one person has any right to know.
Well, as I'm sure most internet-savvy folks know, four years ago, one of the co-stars, Charlie Sheen, bailed on it and went a little... loopy. I'm saying that as nicely as I can because, really, I think most people still reading this blog (as opposed to those who saw his face and backed out on reflex) probably already know the story and I'm not really wanting to write another blog trashing the guy, since after last night, there's probably dozens out there. For those who genuinely don't know what happened, Wikipedia is always there for us when we need them.
Alternatively, this informative documentary pretty much covers it.
As a disclaimer, everything before the above video was actually written a few days ago, prior to my writing this, so I make no promises in regards to the coherency of what you're about to read or quality of the journey in which you're about to take with me. All I can promise is that it was probably much better the first time I wrote it and it's the site's fault if this ends up being a mess. This was originally a ridiculously huge blog, bigger than anything related to Two and A Half Men probably has any right to be, complete with pictures, details, and all kinds of links, so what we're getting now is the abridged version made from memory, since, after thinking about it, I do still want to say some things.
Anyway, getting back to it, you'd think the show would just end there, right? A lot of people thought it would. Sheen sure thought it would. For me, it sort of did, but not because of him leaving it. Obviously, though, it didn't, and it continued on for another four years, right up until last Thursday when it ended.
Obviously it had to figure out how to continue after Sheen left - their solution was to have Charlie, Sheen's character (who I'll refer to as Charlie, while the actor is Sheen for the purposes of this blog) die overseas in France while on a trip with his wife. This happened through him falling into an oncoming train after being caught with another woman. It should also be noted that the person he eventually married was his long time "stalker," and it was heavily implied she shoved him.
Good times, right? After that, Charlie's role was taken over by Ashton Kutcher, who played a character named Walden, and all sorts of things happened in shows I mostly didn't watch and know nothing about - and last Thursday, it all ended.
Given my history with the show, I decided it wouldn't be right not to watch it. I didn't know what to expect - it was by chance that I found out it was even ending at all, so I didn't know anything about it except that it was happening. I have to admit, I was surprised with what we got. Rather than an episode filled with nothing but crude jokes and ends to existing plot points that I would know nothing about, we got what I have to admit was some of the best written television I've seen in a long time - though I haven't actually watched too much television in a long time, so take that with a grain of salt.
Here is a brief rundown of what I mean. Instead of a heartwarming conclusion (like a show like Two and A Half Men even deserves that, am I right? ... right?), you get an hour filled with subtle to outright fourth wall breaking humor and insults directed at none other than Sheen himself. I have to say, having watched it, it was really well done. I wouldn't have thought the writers were even capable of something so clever.
Looking at it, it might not seem like much, but the way it was pulled off, especially after years of the show simply revolving around ridiculous sexual antics and shenanigans, crude humor, and general idiocy and shamelessness. You have to wonder if the show's main audience would ever get a lot of the jokes... especially considering just as many seemed to also be directed not just at Sheen, but at the audience itself.
Just skip to about a minute in here.
I think this was arguably just as much another jab at Sheen, but even so, I can't imagine that the people behind this episode weren't completely aware of how much it applied to them considering how many comments like it appear in the episode. Walden and Alan (played by Jon Cryer, who's stuck with the show from the beginning) both comment on their futures (or lack of one) in show business a few times, and it's said that "this has gone on too long" in a few scenes as well.
In this next scene, a certain actor some of you might be familiar with basically tears the entire show apart, ridiculous premise to ridiculous finish - and Alan even comments that his son "didn't start out dumb," but audiences seemed to like that character being stupid more, so that's how he ended up. Look back to the above scene with that in mind. In a way, it's a harsh truth that perhaps all creators have to face - your product is, if you want to keep producing it, as much the people's as it is your own.
All in all, the jokes, self-depreciating or harsh (to Sheen) as they are, are ones that I really can understand, knowing the background as well as I somehow do... but also, oddly enough, because of those reruns - since it's the earlier episodes that I saw the most often.
Now here's where the sentimental part is going to start kicking in. Again, the quality stuff is gone now since it's been a few days, but I'll do my best to try to recreate it.
I won't beat around the bush. The show has always been racy and out there like that, but when I think about some of the more memorable episodes, I don't think about Charlie trying to do some crazy thing to have some crazy sex or Alan trying to do some crazy thing to get out of paying this or that, and while certain things "dumb" Jake (Alans' son) did do occasionally come to mind, they're still usually from the period when he was transitioning from just being an innocent kid to the complete dunderhead that they eventually turned him into.
No, the things that come to mind are the early, early episodes, when you have a down on his luck dad and his kid living with a playboy that writes jingles of all things. It's a ridiculous premise, not exactly the most original one anymore, but it really worked. While most people probably think about this show and think ridiculous sex jokes, obscenely crude humor, and all the things it most definitely did have, especially towards the end, the things I remember most and most fondly aren't any of those things.
I remember Charlie having to come to terms with the fact that there's a child in his life now and how he adapted to it. He went from treating the kid like an annoyance and constant source of frustration to really starting to care about him, in his own, "cool sleazy uncle" sort of way. Once, he begrudgingly helped with the school play, but ended up really enjoying the experience - of course, he got the kids to sing a jingle for a tampon commercial he wrote at their play or something - it's still Two and A Half Men. Another time, he and Alan called off a trip to Vegas to stay home and take care of Jake.
I remember a later episode where he was upset that his brother didn't think he was a good enough caretaker, when Alan was explaining if anything happened to him, Jake would go to their cousins. Yet after Charlie and Jake played a basketball game later that ended with Jake needing to be rushed to the hospital, Charlie decides he would be a horrible caretaker - but seeing how Charlie handled the situation and how much he clearly cares for his son's well being, Alan actually changes his mind.
I remember Charlie turning down a woman who may well have been the love of his life, someone he actually sobered up for for a time and was really changing his life around for, because it would mean he'd have to leave his brother homeless and not get to see his nephew on weekends anymore. I remember how the first season ended with Charlie decided he didn't want a vasectomy because he might want kids someday - a decision he probably wouldn't have even thought about if it hadn't come up after a season of bonding with his nephew.
I remember how, as Arnold Schwarzenegger himself pointed out in the scene I linked earlier, despite all the complaints and the "hate," the character Charlie, not the actor that this finale and the past four seasons of the show were subtly or blatantly taking pot shots at, did love his brother - and he let him live there for almost ten years without so much as paying a dime.
"That still won't stop me from taking all the dimes from inside this couch."
These are all things that happened in the same show I was describing earlier. The same show that, admittedly, had all kinds of weird things going on early on - Charlie dated a devil worshipper at one point who had cursed Alan and was about to perform a horrible ritual on him, only for their mother to walk in and turn out to be higher ranking in whatever cult the girl was in. It... It was a Halloween episode, okay?
Looking at the finale, it was actually a little sad to see Alan interacting with his and Charlie's mother. He was playing his role, Charlie's role, and Jake's role with her all at once, and his character was really suffering for it - though at this point, perhaps preserving things like "character" just wasn't a priority anymore. As a hopeful writer myself, it was a sad thing to watch.
But once, the show really did have this weird sense of family and charm that it really just abandoned later on in favor of being crass. In a way, while it's clear the staff had a lot of things to vent, and they did a damn good job in venting it, I... actually do think this show deserved a heartwarming ending. In fact, perhaps it deserved it all the more because of all the crap going on behind the scenes and because of how it wound up from its more humble beginnings.
Oh, did I mention how, in the finale, there was an animated sequence where it was revealed that Charlie had sex with a goat, maid, and a mime? Yeah, that happened. It also dropped a piano on Charlie, who apparently had been living in a dungeon made by his stalker for four years up to then.
I really want to say that that was far too dark for her or the show, but they probably stopped caring once they had her "kill" him so it's probably not a point worth arguing at this point anyway.
Honestly... Reading over all of this, I know I had some kind of point before that this now lacks, and all the pictures and links I had before are mostly not here, but for the life of me, I can't remember where I went with it all. I'm not trying to defend it or change anyone's mind about it, don't get me wrong there, and I haven't even cared about it in years. Frankly, as much as I'm talking about the early parts of the show, I still have to give it praise for the way it decided to go out - if you could appreciate all the jokes, it really was well done. I'm still surprised the writers pulled it off.
I guess I'm just... saying goodbye? Yeah, let's go with that. I don't think that was it, but it works just as well. We're saying goodbye.
So so long, Two and A Half Men. You brought me some laughs and some smiles over the years, and while they may have grown much less frequent as those years went on, I'm still thankful for the ones you managed. Perhaps most of all, though, and perhaps at the root of this whole thing, you gave me time with someone that I never thought I'd really wish I would have had more time with, even if it was just watching your silly show. So for all of that, so long and thank you.
What, you didn't really think I would end it with something sobering like that, did you?
So I just spent the past two hours writing something that was, in many ways, pretty close to home to me. Because, during that two hours, Destructoid decided it would be helpful to log me out at some point, when I went to actually publish it... Yeah. It's all gone. Poof, gone, just like that - two hours of my life and all the thoughts and feelings expressed during them, all gone up in smoke.
It's happened to all of us. It's happened to me over much worse. Logging back in in another tab and trying to go back and forward and all the usual stuff didn't help and I've since closed out of it all in frustration (it was actually a pretty sentimental thing compared to the last few I've done so I'm just not even going to bother trying again), so yeah, it's done. It was the first time I didn't write a blog in a word document first too. It's like I wasn't meant to post it. Depressing, but I guess that's life? Nothing I can do about it now, it seems.
So instead of being bitter and asking for people to share similar stories so we can all wallow in our misery together, I'd rather avoid that. Instead, tell me - or better yet, show me - something that made you smile today. While my reasons for wanting a little pick me up might be small, who knows? Someone else who stumbles on this and whatever potential responses that might pop up might have had something much worse happen to them today, and they might need it all the more.
And yeah, this is pretty short. I'm looking at it and I hate how short it is, but I don't have another huge blog in me (the one that's gone would have been my longest yet). So I hope it's understandable why it's short, so forgive me for that.
I promise the next one will be a ramble about dragons or console girls or something else, just like the usual! Do I even have a usual yet?
Here, I'll start posting smile-worthy things. You guys ready? Aaaaand... go!
Have you ever played a game where you start out so wonderfully engrossed and immerssed that you can't imagine feeling any other way about it, only to end up finding yourself so frustrated or bored with it that everything that made the game wonderful doesn't even seem like it exists anymore?
I've been doing a lot of YouTube video watching lately. Clearly not as much sentence good writing, but me have whole blog post to fix that.
Anyway, most recently I've been watching some of Markiplier's videos. Yeah, I know I'm pretty late to the party. I didn't actually like the idea of seeing the LPer's face during the videos initially, so I put it off. That was late last year. Now, I can't watch Markiplier's own earliest videos because that charming devil's face isn't there to keep me company.
Among his videos are a series of them about a game that some of you may know called Vanish. I'd never heard of it prior to watching the videos (the first of which can be viewed here), but as previous blogs may have alluded to, I don't hear about a lot of things.
[A humorous picture was meant to go here showing someone not being able to hear something, but no matter how hard Zetta listened for it, he couldn't see it.]
For those of you who care about these sorts of things, I'm just going to let you know in advance that I'll be "spoiling" what happens in these videos, so if you're interested in watching them, back away! If you aren't but want some context, watch some of the first two and then skip to the last two.
Okay, you had your warning, let's move.
I'm going to be honest with you guys. Watching these videos was sad. I don't mean that it was sad that he couldn't do it until the game finally updated or that he had such a hard time, but that it was sad like... just sad to see it happen.
This kind of sad.
He starts out really drawn in. Everything scares him and he talks about how it's a special game that gets to him like few others can. He was completely and totally immersed, even to the point of near tears at one point. Compare that to the ending videos. He's played it many times off screen and made no progress and in turn deleted the footage over and over again. It's endless frustration with no progress and no clues and no nothing. That feeling he had before is gone, never to return. When he finishes the game, happy as he is, I don't think it would be a stretch to think that he'll never touch the game again.
And to see someone start out so immersed in a game, enjoying it so much, and really taken with it to end up someone just... completely dead to the things that really got them before? Someone who's frustrated with it all and completely unmoved by it all? I know there are some people out there who might argue that he was acting, but having seen as many videos of his at this point as I have and considering how many times he's played it? Think about if you would have left your webcam standing if you went through that.
Yeah, it was sad seeing that happen. I'd hate for that to happen to me.
Except... I realized it probably already has. In fact, to smaller extents and in different ways, it's happened to me in more ways than I realize. I'd never noticed before, but something similar has happened to me in more than a few ways. Here's just one example:
The first time I played Disgaea, everything was overwhelming, new, unique, and oh so exciting. The humor was fresh, the world was massive, and the challenge was unlike anything I'd experienced in an RPG before! It took me beating the third game on PS3 to finally have enough experience in the franchise to be able to go back and tackle the first one and finally beat it. Not even get the good ending or special ending or whatever, just get to any ending.
Then Disgaea 4 happened - then this exact stage (and the steps to get to it) happened - and I was ruined. I learned how to power level. I started picking up the tricks. When I played Disgaea 3 on my Vita, my levels were in the thousands before I had even progressed a few chapters in. The main story's last boss is about 100. I was probably at the max of 9999 by the time I finally fought it.
This isn't as obvious a comparison to Markiplier's experience, but it's the best way I can think of relating, but at least that doesn't make it (at least my experience) a bad thing. Thanks to Disgaea, I've learned to really enjoy grinding, as crazy as it sounds. It's become a lot of fun to mess around turning your characters into the strongest versions of themselves they can be, just for its own sake, and that goes for most games I play. In one respect, all I've really done is grow up and learn, which is hardly a bad thing. I came to enjoy something new too. In my case, all's well that ends well, right
Well... I don't know. The whimsy of those early times is gone, at least kind of. It's been replaced by a different sort of whimsy, just like the wonder, but it's definitely not the same anymore.
Then again... Maybe I'm just starting to get older. That was also shortly after the PS3 came out, looking back, which was a long time ago, and with age, perspective changes. I've learned how to better understand a game I barely scratched the surface of before. Is that really something so terrible?
And maybe... Maybe I just got used to it. Let's backtrack to Markiplier a little, then change the subject completely, shall we?
Let's talk spooky stuff.
I've noticed in recent years that people are complaining a lot about horror games not being scary anymore, and in particular, these complaints seem to come from horror fans. Being something of a wimp when it came to horror games until recently, to my unexperienced eyes, everything looked pretty scary. To longtime fans, not so much.
Isn't that the same sort of principle? If we look back to Markiplier's experience with Vanish, isn't that just a condensed version of the problem all horror fans are likely starting to face? What started out as what seemed like a lifelong journey through a genre of twists and turns has become routine. You can't scare someone that's seen it all.
I'm sure it's been said before, and I think I've said it before myself, but isn't that what the real problem with horror games is? From what I can see, the audience that wants them most is the one that has the most trouble enjoying them because they want to love it so much.
And that's... really sad. It's sad for the fans who want to enjoy the things they used to love, and it's sad for the developers, who are probably getting a lot of unfair criticism simply because they weren't the first horror game someone played, and it's sad for the games, who might be so much more loved in another world. Maybe I'm just feeling sad because it's snowing outside and I'm not as happy about it as I used to be only a couple of years ago, but darn it, it's just sad all around
So to lighten the mood a little, I'll ask you guys this:
Is that as sad as having watched so much Kamen Rider and Super Sentai that you recognize a lot of the sets they frequently use to film on? Because that's starting to become almost every week for me now!
Well that's all from me today. Be sure to keep firewood close and your best friend's creepy love doll closer this chilly season, everyone! You never know when you might need it.
So... amiibos. Some people see them as just collectables. Others will say "Just collectables? JUST collectables?" and proceed to show them how much they've spent on the things. Others still, meanwhile, just see them as subjects clogging up the front page of their favorite gaming website.
On the other hand... Not a lot of people really seem to like the idea of or care about them as actual and genuine additions to gaming or as part of a new genre of gaming, and while I'm one of the wackjobs in that category, I can understand why. Most people want their games "complete," there are more arguments over DLC than I care to mention, and so on. Worse still, they're a tremendous investment to "complete" the collection, even compared to the most DLC heavy games.
"What do you mean that Spyro punk made more than us the week his new game released than we did all year!? Wait... One figure costs HOW much? ... Get my agent on the phone, Evolve 2 is going to be a thing after all!"
Well, while hoping I'll be keeping it light since I wanted to just get to the point and not have another huge blog so soon after my last fairly large blog, even with all that in mind, I still think it's a concept that has a lot of potential. Nintendo, as far as I'm concerned, has currently just done little more than waste it over and over (perhaps beyond salvage at that) to make their money, but on the other hand, the likes of Skylanders and Disney Infinity are doing some pretty cool things with the idea.
And say what you will about "ruining" Spyro, the original designs Skylanders has going for it are pretty darn charming.
When people see how many figures that have been released for Skylanders, it's probably pretty daunting. They'll say things like "but look at how much I need to spend." When they look at how new gimmicks are introduced every game, it probably seems like a shameless cash grab. Perhaps in some respects it is, but for the most part, every game does include everything you absolutely need to beat it in the box. If I remember correctly, you can even get the first game's platinum with the three figures it comes with and you'll never need another one. What that means is, ultimately, at least in my opinion, you only really need to buy the figures that you want to buy.
I have to ask people that think every single Skylander is necessary. Do you need to spend all of that? It's not like, even with the gimmick figures, the game makes you need every single one, and many figures have variants and repeats, making it fairly easy to get certain characters in a variety of ways. I quit Skylanders halfway through the second game but there were already like three ways to get Gill Grunt at that point. Sure, it's probably ideal for the people selling it that people try to buy everything, but I would never suggest to anyone that it's really necessary. At most, maybe one thing of each element in Skylanders, but if you're willing to buy just things from the first and second game, you can get one thing from each element for less than $20-$30 in most cases if you just look around, and those characters will work almost just as well as the current ones of those types. That's one of the great things about Skylanders: You can carry over your characters over, with your experience and money and everything else, to every subsequent game you bring them to. Right now, I would say no attempt at using NFC toys with a game has come close to reaching the concept's potential as Skylanders has. It's unfortunate that they do resort to introducing gimmicks with each game, but they do still include some characters (or at least one character) of the gimmick with each new game, meaning you should at least be able to complete the game fine.
I admit, while sometimes I like the Skylanders' Spyro design, Spyro does look pretty weird in it other times though. Who animated this? Oh, forget Spyro - look, it's Gill Grunt again!
In fact, I've seen many gamers point to games heavy on DLC and suggest that they just let players buy characters piecemeal. I'm pretty sure MOBAs already do that sort of thing, while including a select roster to start with. In a way, Skylanders and Disney Infinity already do that. This is, of course, because they don't change what kind of game they are with each installment that uses them, or in Skylanders' case, spinoffs don't need different data, whereas the amiibos have to lose their save data when you want to do something different with them, but I think that's yet another good thing they do. The idea that I could buy this game and this figure and, should the series pan out and become successful, I can put that figure down onto a game five, six, seven entries down the road and pick up its growth where I left off? Even if growth is minimal in Skylanders, that is awesome. As a Pokemon fan since childhood, I love that idea.
Since "growth is minimal" warranted a penis joke of some kind, here's this picture, you guys do the rest.
Now imagine if they made games targeted at older demographics like that. How the characters grow might become more complex, and it would truly be yours. You know that feeling you got when you used your Charizard from Pokemon Leaf Green in Pokemon Y for the first time? It's not all that different from that. It's a concept that could have games where you can carry your characters from console to console, from console to PC and back again, even. I don't think there are many other things that could do this than, well, this.
I still probably sound crazy to most of you. Even the most diehard amiibo fans still seem to only care about the things as collectables, and I get that too. Nintendo doesn't really do much in that area, and when they do do it, it's usually in limited quantities and negated by the absurd amount of difficulty you'll have... finding... Wait a minute....
Anyway, to return to my point, while I personally consider amiibo to be a failure of epic proportions, one great thing has come out of it: Nintendo stuck NFC readers onto their consoles. I don't know if they're programmed to amiibo specific (END AMIIBO LOCK!) or if it's just that only amiibo things have come out since it's been implemented, but if they're not amiibo specific?
No jokes. Just despair. Why does nothing about this make sense? Why is the guy that fights with fire a wind element figure? Why are most of the characters just summonable character chips? Why is anything anything in this?
I really hope other developers try their hand at this. Nintendo may be intent on not making games built around it, but imagine if others could. They wouldn't get money from the portal add-ons, but they wouldn't have to waste money producing them either. They'd only need to sell the figures. Imagine if Level-5 did it. It would be the perfect way to bring Danball Senki back into the world - it was a franchise about toys anyway. Imagine if Bandai Namco did it and made a huge Tales of Toys game or something equally crazy. Imagine if Capcom did it with a Monster Hunter spinoff!
Actually, Capcom, can we just get some Monster Hunter spinoffs in general, maybe?
My point is, there's so much potential here. I just really wish someone, somewhere, tries to use some more of it.
And I know, that probably sounds terrifying to a lot of you, but as someone who's been hoping the concept takes off... and as someone who was subsequently crushed when the thing they wanted it to happen to most actually did it, but then did it in the worst way possible, I'm actually really hopeful for it. I'm sure I'm probably in the minority amongst the minority that feels that way, and I don't even know if I could afford playing most of the games in this "genre" if it happened, but I still would like it to. I really would.
While I'm doing an amiibo blog, I might as well throw this out since I may never do another one.
While Nintendo is a company that ends production of things far sooner than they have any right doing, I do have to wonder if, in the case of amiibos, while a lot of it is definitely Nintendo, I've wondered if a lot of the problems may be coming from the fact that video game sections and video game stores just don't have the shelf space for these things. They're made for selling small packages and occasional boxes for the game consoles, not rows and rows of toys.
Think about how big your local GameStop is or how big the Nintendo aisle in your local Best Buy is. I've seen kitchens bigger than my old mall GameStop was before it closed, and the Nintendo aisle in my Best Buy was already where all the Skylanders and Disney Infinity stuff went before amiibos, now it's split three ways and amiibo has the smallest shelf space of it all.
That doesn't excuse Nintendo going out of their way to make things harder to find and it never will in my book (between them and Sony's extreme arrogance lately and general treatment of the Vita, I'm wishing more and more Microsoft would make a handheld so I'd have a real reason to try switching, but that's a whole 'nother blog), but I wonder how much of it is this aspect of it too. I have no idea what I'm talking about beyond just this observation, understand, I don't own a GameStop or a Best Buy, but I don't see it brought up very much during amiibo discussions so I wanted to point it out.
Anyway, that's that! You may now proceed with your amiibo hunt, ladies and gentlemen.
"And he said 'I'll be keeping it light'... Ha! This is almost as long as my---"