"We constantly have to revisit 'Why would Donkey Kong do this?' or 'Why would this environment be like this?' And then we start thinking: 'We're making a game about a gorilla wearing a tie.'"
-Michael Kelbaugh of Retro Studios on Donkey Kong Country Returns
"I have to say it's kinda scary how much you know about this game."
-Nicolau Chaud creator of Marvel Brothel
It has been well over a year since I last communicated with you beautiful people. The reason? Well, to put it lightly, I'm divorced. With a bit of precaution, my lawyer advised me to get off the electronic grid. I didn't Twitter, I didn't blog anything but reviews and news stories and I didn't get the chance to do a best of at the end of last year. It was a very difficult custody battle to go through and to be honest, it was the hardest experience I've ever gone through. I'm not going to go in to specifics. Not because I don't want to vent, but you understand how little it truly will change things.
All I choose to say is that I now understand how hard a divorce really is on a person. As a product of divorced parents, I still had absolutely no idea.
Anyway, that's my excuse. I say all that, because I miss brain dumps. They are the place where mediocre ideas go to die a pointless and lukewarm death. Since I haven't done one of these in so very long, I figured it was time to change that.
Extra Life is really different this year. As somebody that has gone through the motions for the past few years, it just feels odd not to have a G3 event leading up to Extra Life. For those that don't remember, G3 (Gaming and Giving for Good) was a Microsoft sponsored Children's Miracle Network event for the past 2 years. I guess since they are focused on ramping up the Xbox One launch, they decided to pass on co-sponsoring an event like this. Which is fine I guess. Last year at $1000, we were in the top 10 for fund raising, which is chump change compared to what Extra-Life did. There are reasons for this, (I think G3 was like 3 weeks or so before Extra Life), but it is a shame that nobody wanted to give or game for anybody this year.
Extra Life as well has had an issue with being able to collect donations for international organizations. Last year we raised funds for the Children's Miracle Network International Fund which sends grant money to hospitals overseas. This year the money stays in the USA and some parts of Canada. I think NAFTA let us get the Canandians, but the issue had to do mostly with international tax laws. The international charities themselves are actually the hospitals in North America that fly people in from around the world on a case by case basis to take care of their hospital care, which is kinda cool. That is what we chose for Twinfinite.
That means however that Extra Life as an event is going to be huge this year. Twinfinite is doing something big, which I've been less a part of building up simply because my life has been utterly consumed by that excuse I opened up with. I honestly have no idea what those cats are doing, but I know that this year I won't be able to 24 hour marathon during the event. I have my kid on November 2nd, and that's where my focus is going to be for most of the day. I'll definitely be on camera during our 24 hour stream at some point after the kid goes to bed, but I just won't be able to commit to anything during normal waking hours.
Not being able to take charge of the event has been messing with me (since I had actually wanted to try a few new things this year to liven up my stream). I don't just want to sit on the sidelines, so I'm probably just going to run a small event maybe on the 26th because I think I get a kick out of doing impromptu charity events. I'll keep ya'll posted. I'll probably have a raffle of some extra games I have lying around, I don't know.
Lots of words aside, donate, fund raise, advertise all you can to help sick kids these next two months. I'll gladly take any change you can give me to go towards a good cause.
SPOILERS to the Killing Joke:
Alright, let's talk about torture porn. Grant Morrison went on record with his opinion on Alan Moore's The Killing Joke and it was something that seemed absolutely brilliant, until I picked up the book again. To start, I hate the Killing Joke. It is a well written, well drawn bit of psychological torture. That's about it.
Alan Moore also has disdain for it, but that could just be because he hated what DC had been doing with his works. For all I know, he could have wanted to put a little crik in the page and DC vetoed him which pissed him the hell off. In all honesty, it just isn't a great story. Joker remembers the worst day of his life and decides to kill himself the only way he can. By torturing and destroying the most sane man he has ever encountered: Jim Gordon. He blasts Barbara in the stomach, takes her clothes off, photographs her now paralyzed form and then strips Jim Gordon naked, parades him through a roller coaster of madness to make this man finally accept that crazy can't be stopped. Batman finally shows up and listens to one final joke from the Joker. This is where Grant's theory on the end comes in. Apparently, Batman breaks the Joker's neck.
To be honest, that's an easy response to have only reading those last pages. However, the fact that the Joker could never break down Jim Gordon really muds this theory up. Jim Gordon is for better or worse, Batman's rock. The beauty of Batman is that everyone around the character essentially exists to give the character dimension since he really doesn't have much else other than being a ninja scientist detective. When Jim tells Batman to play it by the book in arresting the Joker, a part of him has to follow this.
Anyway, my theory is that the Killing Joke is the Joke that kicked off the Joker's bad day. In the story the Joker bombs a show, which means he couldn't afford a better place for his pregnant girlfriend. She dies in the apartment and he's forced to take a job that turns him into the Joker. The joke he tells Batman, is the joke that would have turned his career around in comedy and probably changed his life. You see it in the smirk he put on the man that has heard a million of them, but has never laughed at one of the Joker's jokes before. I'm not satisfied with this theory, and I'm not satisfied with Grant's since I still hate the way this book ends. I just still like my theory a bit more since it is the only one I feel maintains the characters all around.
I must say that I'd usually advertise an article I wrote that I liked, but this past year has been mostly reviews for me. There is a lot of interesting things you can do with a review, but the only one I've actually had fun doing is The Last of Us. It was fun, because I really didn't want to tell anybody anything spoiling the game. I mean if there is one game this year that you just don't want to spoil for people, I think it is The Last of Us.
I was talking with Scott Thunelius who did Necro about the game before an interview and I told him that I thought it had some flaws. He thought I was mad for not being wildly impressed and we debated it, but it really came down to the fact that it felt like a Naught Dog game. The pacing in sections are always promising, but there is quite a bit of the game early on that swings wildly in pace. The last half is fabulous so I had no qualm about giving a 5/5 to the game, but since I'm thinking game of the year stuff, I've had to reflect on where these games stack up.
Speaking of Game of the Year's, I've been thundering through a lot of the games I missed last year. It was a phenomenal year for SRPGs and after playing a good chunk of them, I still feel satisfied that Growlanser is GOTY of last year.
I've been thinking of how to do series on exploring SRPGs of the past (since I have so goddamn many of them). I dunno, its an excuse to play and write about the games I love, but I need to find a proper format for how to write them out since I doubt anybody just wants a plain review of an old game. Plus I'd want to have at least 4 articles done before I did anything with them so...lots to think on for this.
As part of the recuperation process, I've been watching lots of terrible shows that really do make me feel better. Brooklyn 99, 2 Broke Girls, Big Bang Theory, New Girl, Agents of Shield...the list goes on and on. I know they are awful, but I need laugh tracks and stupidity.
I'm still amazed at how awful Agents of Shield turned out to be. I mean I saw it coming, but Marvel has been really progressive with their brands lately. It just feels like a giant step backward and since the damn thing is now picked up for a full season, it needs to be supported as if somebody is actually going to come in and breathe some life in to the show.
Nobody will, but as fans, your hopes are the only things that get you through mediocrity.
I got bored and wrote up a list of anime I'd recommend for people that want to get in to that sort of thing that you can watch for free and isn't just the typical shonen anime.
Jin-Roh - great designs and interesting themes. Dramatic police story.
Gunbuster!! - THE space anime epic (cut down to movie length). Really good still.
Final Fantasy Advent Children - Shallow action fluff, but if you just like fancy 3D action, it works.
Castle of Cagliostro - The first Ghibli and easily one of his bests.
5cm/sec - real art house stuff here, but if you like that, you'll love it. Follow it up with Voices of a Distant Star if you aren't asleep by the end of 5cm.
My Little Monster - Cute little romantic with great comedic timing.
Big Windup - solid baseball drama
Puella Magi Madoka - EXTREMELY slow starting (when it gets good it gets really good), but really interesting dramatic take on Sailor Moon-like magical girls
Slam Dunk - The Basketball anime. Oldy, but goody.
Dragonball - Lots of people have only heard about DBZ, but the original still holds up really well and focuses more on the humor rather than battles.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya - Season 2 is take it or leave it, but Season 1 was a defining anime of its time. If the episodes seem a bit out of order, its not you.
Michiko to Hatchin - if you like everybody's standard recommendation of Samurai Champloo or Cowboy Bebop, I recommend this after those
Sankarea - Zombiephile love story. I liked it as a comedy romance and it has characterization. YMMV on whether you like zombies or romance.
Kaiji - Interesting high stakes gambling anime. Great for suspense junkies.
Future Diary - Crazy anime about becoming god.
Tiger & Bunny - For the comic book fans out there.
Death Note - Mystery, Suspense, Notebooks! One of the more over the top anime, but still really good.
Little Nemo - silly kiddy cartoon about Dreamland. Not a high recommendation, but I grew up with this so I will put it on my list.
I dunno, we'll have to do this again some time. I'll keep ya'll updated about Extra Life. This year I randomly chose a hospital in Mississippi to represent for myself. Every year I pick a hospital at random and Mississippi seems like as good a place as any to start fundraising. I've got a few bucks in my makeshift donation jar at work and I'll have a few raffle items to hand out to those who donate.
I'm thinking I'll be streaming a Mega Man vs Street Fighter run through that doesn't use powerups (since I hate using powerups). I'm not sure if it'll be 24 hours (since I've done this before and nobody is up past 3am in the first place), but I've been storing game codes since late last year for this. I'm ready to roll.
I'm not sure if I did this whole brain dump thing like I used to, but hey...I'm still trying to get back in my groove.