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5:06 PM on 03.22.2010

Why Ekans is Snake Backwards

We here at Destructoid have been having a lot of fun with Ekans recently, pretty much entirely because of Jim's love of the little purple bastard. Now we've all been saying that perhaps the greatest thing about Ekans is that it's snake backwards. But really...what does this mean? Plenty of people have been confused about this absolutely crucial aspect of what may be the best Pokémon ever. I've been asked, "Hey ace of knaves, Jim's saying Ekans is snake backwards, and that's great and funny and all...but I don't get it. To me Ekans just looks like a regular old forwards snake. What am I missing?" Do not be ashamed! For the brilliance of Ekans is a complex one, and I shall take it upon myself to explain it to you now. Let's start at the beginning. And the end.

Now, before you understand anything, you must know this: it's all in the spelling. See, the first letter in "Ekans" is "E." All right? See, the thing of it is, the last letter in "snake" is also "E." It's all about opposites. In being snake backwards, Ekans starts with the letter snake ends with. Do you understand? No? Well then let's press on.

The second letter in Ekans is "K." This is also the penultimate letter in snake. Penultimate means second to last, but because Ekans is snake backwards the "k" comes second from first, also known as second, because the locations of the front and back of the words are opposites. Is this making sense? The picture is beginning to come together you see, for if you take what we've learned so far we've established that Ekans starts with "Ek" while snake ends with "ke." A pattern is developing, and the brilliance of Ekans is coming into focus, if you merely take the time to see it.

Okay now this is where I'm going to lose a lot of you. You see, the third letter in Ekans is "A." And try to stay with me here...the third letter in snake is also "A." I know you're probably thinking to yourself, "But ace of knaves! If these letters are the same, Ekans can't possibly be snake backwards! Your argument has been torn asunder through your own reasoning!" Not so, friends. For you see, Ekans and snake both have five letters in them, an odd number, so forwards or backwards, the middle letter stays the same. So in fact, the middle letter being the same in both words makes perfect sense! In fact, were the middle letters different, these words couldn't possibly be opposites of each other at all. Incredible!

Moving on to the fourth letter in Ekans, "N," which is the second letter in snake. The "penultimate" discussion that we had earlier about "K" can now be applied in this situation, only reversed, because, you see, Ekans is snake backwards, so we would just do what we did earlier, but backwards, since we've now reached the last part of the word Ekans or the first part of the word snake. Hopefully you're beginning to get the hang of this, and realize that the same logic can really be applied to every one of these letters.

Now it falls to the last letter, the "s." This letter ends the word " Ekans," as you can plainly see. Ekans. See? Right at the end there. And what is the first letter in snake? "S!" That's right. The beautiful symmetry is completed at last, for if we combine all of the knowledge we have acquired, it is blatant that Ekans is snake backwards because it is snake spelled backwards. Stupendous! And this, you see, is the sheer magnificence of Ekans. It's just a shame the magic is lost when it evolves into Arbok. If we follow the same process Arbok backwards becomes kobra, which is clearly just nonsensical gibberish. A pity really, but we'll always have Ekans.

...wait a second. KOBRA SOUNDS LIKE CO-


1:58 PM on 03.15.2010

The Top 10 Least Objectionable Ace Attorney Cases

I absolutely love the Ace Attorney series. While most games are about the protagonist physically triumphing over something, these handheld courtroom procedurals starring defense attorneys Phoenix Wright, Apollo Justice, and most recently prosecutor Miles Edgeworth, prove that you can have just as much fun playing a game about cross examining witnesses and presenting evidence as you can shooting something in the face. Honestly, when it comes to legal drama, who needs Law & Order when you could have a bunch of weirdos duking it out in court to the least plausible justice system ever devised, to the point where a trial isn't so much dramatic as it is a spectator sport? Sure, the games are barely interactive, and the logic can occasionally be frustrating, but from the over-the-top characters to the fantastic scripts to the sense of accomplishment that comes from finally getting your client off the hook in a court where "innocent until proven guilty" is a hilarious fantasy, these five DS games simply can't be beat.

While playing the latest game I knew I just had to do a tribute to everything Ace Attorney has to offer, so instead of talking about the best moments, characters, or out of place pop culture references, I decided to do a spoiler-filled countdown of the cases themselves. There's four or five making up each game, and while most of them are definitely worth playing, I'd say these ten are my personal favorites, all of them in some way rising above the rest. So if there aren't any objections, let's get to it!

10. Recipe for Turnabout (3-3)

While I was pretty sure what the other nine cases on this list would be, I had a tough time choosing what would make the tenth spot. I realized it had to be the third case in Trials and Tribulations simply because it's the most ludicrous one in the entire series. The localization team does an excellent job filtering out a lot of the weird stuff in these games and replacing it with a very tongue in cheek self-awareness, but here it was plainly impossible, and you can feel the Japanese other-worldliness oozing from every pore. There's a dirty old man whose perversions you have to play into to advance the investigation, the criminals you deal with are plainly the Yakuza, and the chef at the restaurant this case revolves around is, without a doubt, the most flamboyantly gay character in the series, and as any fan knows, that is saying something.

To make it even more hilariously absurd the culprit in this case stole Phoenix's identity and impersonated him in a trial which he intentionally lost. The two look nothing alike except for the hair, and everyone involved in the trial was too stupid to tell the difference except for maybe this game's ridiculously cool prosecutor Godot, who probably just didn't care. I don't think there's a single case in the series that better illustrates how supremely wacky a murder in the Ace Attorney world can be, and for that, it makes the list.

9. The Stolen Turnabout (3-2)

The case that came immediately before it, however, is unique in that it's not about a murder. Well...not at first. No, the second case in Trials and Tribulations begins with the theft of a rare vase, and your client is accused of being the world-renowned thief held responsible, Mask☆DeMasque, possibly the best example of one of the benefits to all of the dialogue being in text, which is that almost all of the characters can have names that would never work if someone actually had to say them out loud. Anyway, the case takes a great turn halfway through when, after proving your client didn't steal the vase, you find out about a murder that happened at the same time as the theft, and oops, would you look at whose alibi you just ruined?

In the end it turns out your client did steal the vase, he is Mask☆DeMasque, and the detective you had pegged for the thief turned out to be the murderer who planned everything. It's a great spin on the traditional Ace Attorney formula, not to mention your introduction to the mysterious coffee-addicted Godot, a prosecutor who's never lost a trial, because as it turns out, in another nice subversion of the series formula, this is his first.

8. Turnabout Serenade (4-3)

Klavier Gavin is cool. Now it may be obvious to point that out about a character in one of these games, especially a prosecutor/rock star, but I just feel he doesn't get enough respect as the rival in Apollo Justice. I see the argument. He's never that antagonistic, he doesn't have much of a history with Apollo or Phoenix, and sometimes it feels like he's going easy on you. But that's what makes him so cool! Because he's a naturally nice guy he doesn't hate Apollo, even though the first case gives him a damn good reason to. Sure, he and Apollo are on opposite sides of the courtroom, but that doesn't mean they're enemies. While you eventually have to earn a grudging respect from the other prosecutors, Klavier is basically Apollo's friend from the start, to the point where this case actually begins at one of his concerts, which he invited you to. Also, he has the single best animation in the series:


I just wanted to get that out there, since this is the only chance on this list I'll have to talk about the lead singer of The Gavinners. Besides that, though, there's some damn good stuff going on here, from some disability-related revelations, to the way the horsepower of the DS is taken advantage of to provide gimmicks like picking out sounds with an audio mixer and, hey! There's even a cutscene! But this case, from the location to the eventual culprit, is all connected to Klavier, and he really helps tie everything together to make it more than the sum of its parts.

7. Turnabout Ablaze (5-5)

I would also consider Ace Attorney Investigations better than the sum of its parts. I liked it overall, although it never really reaches the heights of some of the other games in the series. It might be because the courtroom is no longer the focus, or that it's more satisfying to win a case as perpetual underdog Phoenix as opposed to Edgeworth, who in his debut game certainly has the odds stacked against him on several occasions, but he's always so confident that it's not quite as exciting when he finally comes out on top. It's still good though, and the only reason this is the lone case from the fifth Ace Attorney that made it on the list is that the whole game is very much aware that it's telling one long narrative, and when you pick out individual cases to examine they don't hold up quite as well.

That said, they all tie together nicely in the end, in a complex double murder at an embassy. The highlight is the discovery of the identity of the original Great Thief Yatagarasu, a question that had been lingering for most of the game. Since two somewhat unsatisfying answers were already provided, it was great to see that when the truth was finally revealed it made perfect sense, yet was still a complete surprise. There's also a moment in this case that infuriated me, involving a choice between whether or not to present a particular piece of evidence, where I felt like the game completely betrayed not just me but Edgeworth as a character. I'm mostly over it, but this would probably be a little higher on the list if that part was handled differently.

6. Turnabout Beginnings (3-4)

There are two cases in Trials and Tribulations starring Phoenix's mentor Mia Fey, and even though the client of the first one happens to be Phoenix himself, this is the better of the two. Anyone who's played it knows what makes this such an unforgettable trial. Sure, it's cool to see a young Edgeworth, and Diego Armando looks just a little bit familiar... I'm kidding, he's blatantly Godot, they don't even bother trying to hide it. But what makes this case memorable is the single most tragic, gut-wrenching moment in the series, when the defendant, the hopelessly naive Terry Fawles, kills himself on the stand. I mean sure, these games can be a bit dark sometimes, since they're dealing with murder and everything, but nothing even comes close to having that much of an emotional impact.

It's made even more shocking by the fact that this is really the only trial in all of Ace Attorney that the defense completely loses, and if there's one thing it does exceptionally well it's make you absolutely despise Dahlia Hawthorne, the manipulative bitch responsible. This series has plenty of villains, and while a few can be considered evil, not one of them has attained the complete monster status Dahlia has for causing Terry's death by, and I really can't emphasize this enough, forcing him to commit suicide.

5. Turnabout Trump (4-1)

On a far lighter note, we have the first case in Apollo Justice. It's interesting to note this is the only first case in the series that I like enough to put on this list. I mean it's not that much of a surprise that the initial trials are rarely the best, since they inherently have to show you the ropes, they can't risk being too confusing, and they all put you up against the charmingly inept prosecutor Winston Payne, but this case is different, despite the fact that it still does all of those things. First of all, it's in two parts, which definitely gives it some much-needed breathing room. Secondly, your client is a washed up, disbarred Phoenix Wright. How shocking is that? The guy you spent three games playing as is now an abject failure, yet he's somehow much smarter and more in control of the situation than he ever was in the previous three games.

Next, the identity of the murderer actually turns out to be pretty surprising, and accusing him is just one of the finest examples of those great Ace Attorney moments that the series does so well, and so often, where the situation is basically "this makes no sense at all yet based on the evidence it's the only thing that could have logically happened without my client having done it so what the hell, let's go for it." Finally, what's just brilliant is that the murder took place during a Poker game, which makes for some fantastic evidence and is actually a really clever way to introduce Apollo, a character who gets the crucial ability to "perceive" witnesses' tells. Ultimately, this is just an extremely well-constructed case, and as an introduction to a new chapter in the Ace Attorney saga, it couldn't have been better.

4. Farewell, My Turnabout (2-4)

I can't imagine I'd be upsetting that many people by saying I consider Justice for All the weakest game in the series. Whereas the first one started things off, Trials and Tribulations perfected the formula, and the games made exclusively for the DS provide some twists, upgrades, and new protagonists, the second installment of Ace Attorney sometimes gives off the feeling that it's just phoning it in. The new prosecutor is Franziska von Karma, and although she's a fantastic character with my favorite name in the series, as an adversary she's a bit lacking. When you're up against her she's just sort of petulant, and way too quick to lash out (literally), so even when she has the advantage it never really felt like Phoenix was completely out of his depth. In fact, bringing back Edgeworth for this trial makes it pretty clear that he's considered a tougher opponent.

As for the game's cases, the first and third are pretty weak, although to be fair the second is actually quite good. But when I started this, the fourth and final case, I was worried the series had exhausted pretty much all it had to offer. It brought back a lot of steel samurai stuff from 1-3, which I was never that fond of, and although Maya got kidnapped and there was an assassin involved, I still wasn't that into it. Then everything changed with the best twist Ace Attorney has ever had. Partway through, it's revealed that your client, Matt Engarde is guilty. He's the murderer. He did it. He hired the assassin. He's behind the kidnapping. He is unquestionably an evil douchebag, and now he's leveraging Maya to force you to get him acquitted. In one sudden, brilliant stroke, the entire formula of the series has been turned on its head, and you have to figure out how to get your client convicted.

In fact, the reason this case started out so similar to that one in the first game is so you would be lulled into a false sense of security, making it all the more shocking when you find out the truth. So pretty much everyone teams up to bring the asshole down, which is finally accomplished by turning the assassin against Engarde in what really ends up being one of the most satisfying moments the series has ever produced, which you can see here:


Kudos, Justice for All. No matter the shortcomings you sure finished strong.

3. Turnabout Goodbyes (1-4)

Originally the last case in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, before it was ported to the DS and brought outside of Japan, Turnabout Goodbyes did a great job of wrapping things up while adding a lot of depth to what came before. Edgeworth is the client, accused of murdering the attorney who got his father's supposed killer off the hook fifteen years earlier in the DL-6 incident, a case that also has strong ties to the history of the Fey clan. Ultimately it turns out the killer in that case and the mastermind behind this one is Edgeworth's mentor, not to mention the prosecutor in the current case, Manfred von Karma. Really the second you saw that guy, you knew he would have to end up being guilty somehow, and sure enough he turns out to be the only truly evil prosecutor in the series.

What's great are all the twists the case takes and the proof that has to be found before you can even try to accuse him. The guy's ruthless, more so than anyone Phoenix had faced up until and arguably since that point. You're fighting von Karma for every inch, he clearly controls the courtroom, when the investigation is closing in on him he actually tazes Phoenix, and before you can pin the crime on him some insane methods are required. You cross examine a parrot. And it works.

But the highlight of the case comes at the end, when Phoenix, grasping at straws, has to prove what happened to a theorized second bullet in the case from 15 years ago. A vision from Mia tells him to think crazy, and the player and Phoenix essentially bullshit their way through an explanation, before realizing, at pretty much the same time, that the second bullet must have actually hit von Karma. Then, in a moment that defines Ace Attorney better than anything I can think of, you prove von Karma got shot and still has the bullet in him by using a metal detector. In a courtroom. Hell yes.

2. Rise from the Ashes (1-5)

And then that case got immediately topped by the only one that doesn't have the word "turnabout" in its name. As you may be aware, the first three Ace Attorney games were originally made for the GBA before being ported to the DS. To commemorate the occasion, a ridiculously long bonus case was developed for the first game, which, since the next installment would star Apollo Justice, was the last trial the Japanese team developed featuring Phoenix Wright, and boy did they go all out. After playing the first, oldest Ace Attorney game, the huge spike in production values the DS allowed for is staggering. Just look at the opening:


Yeah, holy shit. One of the best parts of Ace Attorney is the feeling of utter bewilderment at exactly what the hell's going on that you get at the beginning of every trial, compounded with the excitement of knowing all will be made clear, and you're the one who gets to figure it out. With that cutscene this case achieves that feeling better than any other. And things are, indeed, very confusing. In fact, the sequence of events is so complex that no murder is actually taking place in that video. Unraveling things takes a long damn time, and yet it almost totally works. In one of the case's best sequences the evidence being analyzed is a surveillance tape, which you can actually rewind, pause, and fast forward to point out contradictions.

Edgeworth is the prosecutor, because no one else would have sufficed, and after the previous case revealed the history between him and Phoenix, and they went from rivals to friendly rivals, this trial is pretty much about the two of them kicking ass. When it comes down to it the prosecutors in this series are usually out for justice, and will occasionally help out the defense when the witness you're cross examining is clearly guilty, but this is where it stops being subtle and by the end Phoenix and Edgeworth are trying as hard as they can to bring down the culprit. It's very cool.

If there's one minor blemish here it's that there's one twist too many. There was a point, right at the end, where I was perfectly satisfied with the explanation that was given for everything. Unfortunately, there was one more revelation just to make the bad guy worse and the remove any shades of gray from the situation. It was kind of annoying, but really, that's a small gripe in what is otherwise an all around brilliant case, easily among the very best. Which brings us to...

1. Bridge to the Turnabout (3-5)

Considering I put four of the five cases from Trials and Tribulations on this list, it's pretty clear that I consider it the best game in the series, and my personal favorite. It's a perfect mix of an overarching story with great stand alone trials, and includes Godot, possibly the best prosecutor in the history of Ace Attorney despite only appearing in one installment. So it's only fitting that my favorite case is this game's conclusion.

Really, there's too much to say. The case itself is impossible to explain here, as pretty much no amount of detail could do it justice, or help anyone who hasn't actually played it have any clue what's going on. It's constructed almost flawlessly, and serves as the perfect sendoff to the Phoenix Wright trilogy. Really, all the characters you'd want to be here, from Edgeworth, to Franziska, to Larry, show up in some capacity. The case itself is as intricate as it is brilliant, and ties in perfectly not only with the events of this game, but of the previous two as well, providing all the closure anyone could want.

If I may nonsensically rattle off some of the great things in here, there's figuring out what the hell Larry's painting means, getting to play as Edgeworth for the first time- while facing off against Franziska no less, everything involving Godot, Mia's absolutely epic verbal beat-down of Dahlia Hawthorne, which manages to exorcise her, and a hell of a lot more.

That last point actually brings up the fact that there's a ton of spirit channeling going on during this trial, and it really says something that the least believable part is that the Judge is able to understand what's happening. The game does a great job of tying its supernatural elements in with the (comparatively) realistic ones, which is a damn good thing considering how important this trial is to the Feys. In fact, more so than Phoenix this case marks the end of the Fey storyline. Everything involving Mia, Maya, and Pearl is resolved, and since none of them make an appearance in Apollo Justice, I kind of doubt they'll show up in any future installments. I could be wrong of course, but if I'm not, this is as excellent a way as any to say goodbye to a family of characters so hugely important to the series. And goodbyes are really what this case does so exceptionally well. Which is why as a farewell to the Feys, Godot, successful Phoenix, and the original trilogy of Ace Attorney games, it couldn't possibly be better.

So that, my friends, is all I've got to say, and if you've made it this far you either love these games too, or you think I'm kind of weird. Maybe both. Either way, thanks for reading. Klavier my man, play us out:

[embed]166878:28256[/embed]   read

3:10 PM on 01.03.2010

I Hugged One Year Ago Today...

...for it was the Destructoid Day of Hugs! Let me explain. On January 3rd of 2009, a wonderful thing happened in the c-blogs. Essentially, everyone hugged somone. Or something. Or somewhere. It's not important. What's important is that it was amazing, and showed how this community can be spontaneously awesome like no other can.

What's equally important is that it is now the one year anniversary of this glorious occasion. I bring this up not only because I believe the event is worth remembering, but because I believe it is worth repeating. Not just today, but every January 3rd from now on. Last year this day was proclaimed a holiday by at least one person, and I'm inclined to agree that it should be so. A holiday exclusive to Destructoid. Now wouldn't that be great? Sure, there's the site anniversary/Niero's birthday, but every site does something like that. Here we have an opportunity to celebrate an event that is uniquely Destructoid, and I believe this community is great enough to be able to pull that off.

So what are you waiting for? Don't let me down, get hugging! From this point forward, you're not perpetuating a meme, you're observing a holiday.


6:12 PM on 12.08.2009

The Two (Worst) Destructoid Disney Villain Lists that LEFT OFF FROLLO WTF!?

Today we've had not one but two lists of the top ten Disney villains ever, the first by Chad and the second by stevenxonward claiming Chad had missed a few key ones. Great job guys. But you both made one little mistake. You left off the most underrated villain in Disney history. Now join me as we discuss the glorious, despicable villainy of Judge Claude Frollo.

In the also underrated 1996 film The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the titular hunchback Quasimodo must overcome his ugliness to win the acceptance of the people of Paris and the heart of the gypsy Esmeralda. He succeeds at one of these. But we're not here to talk about Quasimodo, we're here for his master Frollo, truly one of the most vile, despicable antagonists Disney has ever whipped up.

He's a Judge and a minister on a mission: the dude wants to eradicate the gypsies. Seriously, just weed out and slaughter every last one. He likes power, sure, but really more than anything else he just wants to cleanse Paris of those that he perceives as sinners, doing what he thinks is God's will. As if having the most loathsome, fucked up motive of any Disney villain wasn't enough, he's also got a bit of a problem.

See, this is Esmeralda:

As I mentioned, she's a gypsy, and she's not too bad looking either. Frollo would disagree, as lust is an immortal sin, which he is well above. Or at least he'd like to disagree, but then Esmeralda did this sexy dance of hers at the Feast of Fools, and, well:

He's completely infatuated, and he really can't do a damn thing about it. This makes him possibly the only sexually frustrated villain that's ever been animated, at least by Disney that is. So yes, Frollo's fantastic. He's cruel, perverted, actually believable in his motives, and he gets one of the best, most karmic deaths of any Disney villain. Really the only area he's lacking is the song. If only he had some kickass tune that dealt with all of his complex desires, disturbingly great lyrics, and appropriate religious overtones that oh wait here it is:


Now tell me that isn't the greatest Disney villain song ever? So for all those reasons and more (just watch the movie!), I declare Frollo not only criminally underrated, but very possibly the greatest villain in Disney history. The best male one anyway. Maleficent fucking rocks.   read

2:51 PM on 12.06.2009

My Review of the Review this Review is Going to Get

Why hello there you meme-perpetuating sonofabitch bet you didn't see this coming. Oh yeah, with my mastery of the time space cotinuum I've positioned myself to citicize your critique of my critique of someone else's critique before you've even thought of critiquing it but oh you knew you would.

So now I'm here to stop you from one-upping me by one-upping you right as you get the idea to one-up me because oh yes that's how I roll. So yeah, you suck, your blog was like eleven words long or else just an image of a time paradox like this

or some shit but now you can't because I've done it and defeated you for all time with my fourth dimensional bitch slap and cursed you to some plane of existence that mortal minds weren't meant to comprehend but now yours will and there's nothing you can do about it and if you're reading this it's already too late so ha!   read

6:52 PM on 09.01.2009

Arkham Asylum is INSANEly Fun

Just released for the Xbox360 and that Sony one was Arkham Asylum, a game starring everyone's favorite Man of Steel, Batman. This is probably almost if not the best game with Batman that there ever was. It starts when you are taking the Joker (played last summer by Jack Nicholson and now in the game by Han Solo) to Arkham Asylum to be executed for his crimes against humans, who he feels are persecuting all the mutants. The Clown Prince of Magnetism escapes, unfortunately, and you have to fight through Alcatraz to stop him.

A very good game then ensues. You have to fight lots of bad guys. Sometimes you can see their skeletons with X-Ray vision, which would be better if it just went through their clothes. You punch and kick them and sometimes punch them with boomerangs, but if they have guns you must run up to them even faster and start punching them before they shoot you, which happens a lot sometimes. It kept telling me to hide, but like Frank Miller said, "I'm the Juggernaut bitch," so I knew hiding was for pussies.

I liked this game because it took Batman back to before that Nolan guy ruined it with that man who was a professional and we found it funny when he told everyone. This game is much better, almost as good as those movies where Batman had nipples and was at the peak of his quality along with Mr. Freeze, who was that governor from Rambo. He still doesn't have nipples in the game, but his forearms are big enough that it's okay.

The worst parts of the game are when Scarecrow shows up, because there are lots of annoying glitches. It's like the developers didn't even try. Sometimes most of the wall was gone and Scarecrow was bigger than he should be. I can't believe such a ridiculous flaw was allowed to happen! Shoddy work indeed. I bet Eidos thought they could fool us by paying reviewers like they did that one time, but they didn't trick me. Luckily, they didn't have to, because it got an award from Guinness, so I knew for sure it must be the best, because so is Guinness beer.

Spoilers are given away in this next part, because I am going to talk about the end of the game, which was really super great. Joker gets big like those other bad guys in the game that got big and you must fight him. This was very clever because normally the Joker is sized like you, which isn't scary at all, but when he's bigger his punches can hurt more and that's the sign of a good villain like that Russian in Rocky IV or Hitler. Batman outsmarts Joker with an exploding fist and saves Metropolis, so I knew the game was done then. Then you must race off to fight Tommy Lee Jones, which is what the sequel will be about. I can't wait, because if you didn't like this game, you must be Jokering.   read

5:16 PM on 08.30.2009

Why the Ending of Arkham Asylum is Really Freaking Awful

I don't have to put a spoiler warning here do I? Surely you read the title of this post? Ugh, fine: SPOILERS FOR ARKHAM ASYLUM. Lots of 'em. Also, fair warning, this is going to be a whiny fanboy rant about an otherwise great game.
Still here? Okay.

Arkham Asylum, how perfect you were. You really had me going there. For the entire game I felt like the Goddamn Batman, and I was loving it. Gameplay and story wise you got so very much right. And then what did you do? Ruined it in the last fifteen minutes. Way to go.

Okay so the story in this game is not exactly inspired, it's merely a great setup for the best Batman game of all time, which this unquestionably is. Joker's taken over Arkham, select members of Batman's rogues gallery are on the loose, go fix it. Wonderful. The deeper thread running throughout the game is the Titan formula, basically a modified version of the Venom drug what makes Bane go all big-like, which we eventually discover the Joker plans to use to make himself an army of mutant freaks/pollute the Gotham water supply, and since the latter part of that plan wasn't original in Batman Begins, it sure as hell isn't here, but whatever. I have no problem with a relatively simple story as the backdrop for a fantastic game liberally peppered with moments of inspired greatness, of which there are plenty.

Now there are actually a surprisingly slim number of traditional boss battles to be found in Arkham Asylum, which is fine, because they're not that good. They mostly rely on waiting for a weak point to be exposed and fighting off a bunch of minor goons at the same time, which is about as uncreative as you could get. The nontraditional enemy encounters, on the other hand, fare much better. While your time in Killer Croc's layer perhaps lasts a bit too long, it's extremely suspenseful, and Scarecrow absolutely steals this game in his sparingly dispersed amazingly brilliant fear toxin trips.

So after playing through almost the entire game I reached a point where it was clear I was heading off to the final showdown, and I couldn't help but wonder which direction the fight with the Joker would take. On the one hand, he's far more than a mere physical threat, but on the other, he can hold his own in a fight. Now there was a possibility that dawned on me, a solution to this dilemma so stupid and obvious that I all but rejected it's chances of occurring. I mean, this game was written by Paul Dini for fuck's sake. That man knows his Batman, and there's no way he would end the game in that manner.

Well he did. He abso-fucking-lutely did. Maybe it wasn't him, maybe he was forced to, I don't care but it's someone's fault. *Sigh*, okay, so that Titan stuff I mentioned? The stuff that can turn people into giant hulking Bane-like monsters? Well, Joker tries to use it on Commissioner Gordon, but Batman takes the bullet for him. Batman resists the transformation with the power of his Bat-will, which upsets Joker, who shoots himself in the head with the Titan formula, transforming him into a big freaking Joker monster. Please understand that typing that sentence crushed part of my soul.

You can watch the ensuing battle, and subsequent anticlimactic ending here, complete with another helpful spoiler warning:


Now let's look at this first only from a gameplay perspective. That fight sucked. 85% of it consisted of beating up random thugs, which surely you haven't had enough of by this point, while Joker threw some bombs and turned his back not once, not twice, but thrice, allowing you to damage him. I could not imagine a more boring, cookie cutter boss fight.

But what about from a Batman fanboy's point of view? Would the Joker realistically turn himself into a giant monster? How the hell should I know?! He's the Joker, he can do whatever he damn well pleases. But did it benefit the story? Of course not! It's stupid. It's really really stupid. Batman without a doubt has the greatest rogues gallery in comics. They work very well together, and while they can be interpreted in many different ways, what you never mess with is the kind of threat they represent. A brilliant paraplegic could stop the Riddler. The world's bravest chemist could save Gotham from the Scarecrow. An asexual lumberjack with a flamethrower could take down Poison Ivy. Batman is a remarkably well-rounded hero, and each of his enemies require him to tap in to a different part of his skill set to stop them. Messing with that just seems fundamentally wrong.

Now I have absolutely no problem with doing something new. I think Lex Luthor's original motivation was that Superman made him bald, and if it was decided in the 60s that the Batman franchise was perfect just the way it was, today we'd all think of the Joker as Cesar Romero with white makeup painted over the mustache he refused to shave. But if you're going to change a character, do it for the better. Is there anyone, anywhere, who thinks the Joker would be a better adversary if he was more physically capable of going toe-to-toe with Batman? He's not the greatest villain of all time because Batman has to punch him extra hard (with explosive gel, apparently)! It's because he's the definitive physical embodiment of chaos, and no matter how hard you punch him, he doesn't give a shit, he's just going to keep doing whatever the hell he does. But somewhere along the line they decided that doing the character justice wasn't as important as providing an immensely disappointing final boss battle, and the Joker was turned into merely another thing that Batman had to fight.

And that green mohawk they give him is ridiculous.

And the rest of the ending! Could it have been maybe a little less immediate? And if Two-Face also happened to be on the loose, why would Batman spend extra time walking the Joker into Arkham in the first place? Okay, that is nitpicking.

Now don't get me wrong, this is a great game, it does more right than I would have expected, and it probably deserves that Guinness World Record that Eidos bought. I could have easily made this an equally passionate post entitled "Why the Scarecrow Sequences in Arkham Asylum are Really Freaking Brilliant." In fact, they're at least as good, if not better than the ending is terrible.

But I am so damn sick of this. I get that a satisfying ending is hard, but it's worth the effort. I mean Bioshock is pretty much universally beloved, and yet everyone hates the ending. Yet the conclusion here is so much worse, and instead of triumphantly striding across the finish line to claim the title of "Best Superhero Game of All Time," it fell over the line and broke it's teeth.

Which is a damn shame, because Arkham Asylum could have been a perfect Batman game, and at the last second, settled for merely being the best.

And compared to Morrison's Arkham Asylum it is shit. Now there's an ending that knows how to fuck with an established character the right way.   read

11:56 PM on 08.24.2009

Why I Love Kotaku

...Because they make this place look so damn good. In all seriousness, this site is amazing. So brilliantly, wonderfully amazing that mere hours after I rejoin the magnificent Dtoid ranks this thing starts up and I get to be a part of a new cblog day of craziness, the likes of which I haven't seen since January 3rd-4th, 2009, the Day of Hugs.

For those of you who weren't here for that, yes, it happened.

Now sure, I would have preferred this happen tomorrow, that way my reintroduction post wouldn't have its ass savagely kicked off the first page of blogs, but it's so damn worth it.

So yes, I love Destructoid, and it's because of all you beautiful people.   read

5:41 PM on 08.24.2009

Finally! I'm Back!

Is this happening? Am I here? Yes, I am! Oh the glory! Sorry for the confusion Destructoid, but oh God I've missed you so very much. Way back in February of this year my home internet inexplicably prevented me from accessing this glorious website, leaving me unable to interact with one of the greatest communities the internet has ever known, relegating my Dtoid exposure to podcasts and cached images of articles. It's been a sad six months.

But now I'm back! Just as inexplicably, I can now access this site normally and resume...yeah, okay, snide comments and relatively minimal community involvement. But that's all I want, and damn it feels good to look at links on this site and know I'm free to access them at my leisure. Yeah, sad six months.

And I knew this place looked different, but damn, so sleek. This will take a bit of acclimating. So, if you by any chance remember me from days of old, great to see you again, and if you've joined up since February, it's my pleasure to meet you. Now if you'll excuse me, I have an absurd amount of catching up to do.

Also, if you'd like to direct me towards anything spectacularly amazing I've missed, such as anything rivaling a site event as phenomenal as the fallout of the above image, it would be greatly appreciated.   read

1:14 AM on 01.04.2009

I Hugged Real Life for a few Hours...

...and now I have absolutely no idea what the fuck is going on.   read

12:52 PM on 12.25.2008

Merry Christmas Destructoid, Here's a Funny Idiot

Well, this made my day. I was heading over to Gametrailers to check out the latest HAWP (which taught me the true meaning of Christmas...I think) when I spied a link to the forums with some guy freaking out and begging for help. In the holiday spirit, thinking maybe I could do some good, I decided to check it out and see if I could lend my expertise. I was not prepared for the brilliance of what I found there. So back to my normal, dickish self, I'm sharing it with all of you. Your reward for being awesome, Dtoid community:


Oh, and I highly recommend you read the entire forum, there's a few stocking stuffers of pure gold in there.


10:27 PM on 09.15.2008

Half-Life Movie: Perfectly Cast

These good folks (or perhaps just one folk) over at Soviet Delirus have chosen their dream cast for a live action Half-Life movie, and I must say, nearly every pick made my head explode with joy. Half-Life obviously should never become a movie, but this really makes the idea tempting.


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