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3:07 PM on 07.11.2011

My Client: Bowser

Wow! It's been a hot minute since I last did one of these things. I think it was Anonymouse who suggested (over a year and a half ago) that I do one of these for Bowser. I set to it almost immediately, and then abandoned it not long after. Being dryly funny IRL is easy -- not so much on the interwebz. So I've come back with a new motion, albeit a pretty brief one. I had intended to file for Bowser this Motion to Dismiss on the grounds of Diplomatic Immunity, but I couldn't figure out where to go from there -- hence the year-and-a-half delay. I gave it one more shot and decided to enter a bit of my own commentary for the second cause. Doubtless, some of you will disagree with my grounds for dismissal, and the comments section is where you'll need to hand down your judgment. Hope you like it.

Previous motions filed:
My Client: Sephiroth
My Client: Dr. Wily   read

11:26 AM on 12.31.2009

My Client: Sephiroth

Oftentimes the defense attorney is castigated for defending a person believed by the public to be someone so reprehensible as to be unworthy of representation or defense. It is a common misconception that the defense attorney's job is make sure their clients are found innocent, regardless of culpability, making the attorney's job more a game of manipulation. In reality, what we try to to do is make sure our clients are treated fairly according to the law. Therefore, I believe it is my duty to see to it that Sephiroth gets his fair shake, so to speak.

Again, it's not as funny as I would've liked, but I do hope you enjoy it all the same.

You're the judge. You decide.

Happy new year!   read

2:04 PM on 12.23.2009

My Client: Dr. Wily

Having been a paralegal now for a few defense attorneys for around 6 years now, I've always wondered what it might be like if certain videogame villains had to be represented in an actual court of law. What motions would I prepare? What might our defense be? How could we explain any of this to a jury? I decided today that I wanted to start a series dedicated to treating iconic videogame characters as if they were clients here at my office. Every so often I will prepare a different court document prepared in the fashion of an attorney representing a client, this week's client being Dr. Wily. Because I can't format a proper motion in bbcode, I've saved the actual document as a jpg. Hope it's easy enough to read.

Admittedly, this one isn't as funny as I'd have liked it to be, but I tend to sit on ideas for a while and then never use them. Doing it now kinda forced the idea and will make me come up with new & better ideas. A Sentencing Memorandum is filed prior to sentencing, after a defendant has pleaded guilty to a crime. The judge can use the memorandum as a kind of primer for sentencing. It generally puts the sentencing argument in the judge's head a few days before they actually hear it. Giving them some time to sleep on your argument usually results in a more favorable sentence.


12:49 PM on 12.08.2009

The ten best (worst?) Disney villains that Chad forgot to mention!

Chad Concelmo provided us earlier with a truly inspired list of Disney villains. While I commend Chad for his effort, I must step in to inform you that his list is BLATANTLY WRONG! I intend to prove this with the use of SCIENCE and JOURNALISM. Read on for the correct and nationally accepted list of Disney's greatest villains.


10. Sheriff of Nottingham (Robin Hood)

Though the Sheriff is generally portrayed as a bit of a bungler and a fool throughout the film, the scene in which he steals money from the church's donation box, then fights Friar Tuck and clasps the poor old man in irons is incredibly depressing and quite nefarious.


9. Madam Mim (Sword in the Stone)

Madam Mim's transformation into a dragon may not be nearly as terrifying as Maleficent's, but it is equally insane and 100x funnier. Plus she could turn into anything she likes, so she could've turned into a Maleficent-esque dragon, but she knew it was important to be pink and hilarious.


8. Clayton (Tarzan)

Dude wants to shoot people for fun!?


7. Lady Tremaine (Cinderella)

Of all the villains on this list (and Chad's unquestionably inferior list), Lady Tremaine is the most common villain that exists in real life. A bitch of an abusive stepmother with no magic powers!? Raise your hand if you have one.


6. tie Medusa (The Rescuers) & McLeach (The Rescuers Down Under)

Similar to Lady Tremaine, these villains are more referential to real life. Both McLeach and Medusa have captured, and are essentially torturing a small child. The Rescuers' Medusa may not be the original Medusa, but she is the Medusa more likely to abduct your kids at Wal-Mart. These villains have single-handedly influenced nearly every episode of CSI and Law and Order.


4. Yzma (The Emperor's New Groove)

Chad, how could you forget this one?! She was the first Disney villain to make me laugh out loud. Aside from James Woods' take on Hades, the late Eartha Kitt's voice and inflection make Yzma the most entertaining villain in the Disney canon.


3. The Queen (Snow White)

She may not transform into a dragon, but the old lady with the apple is arguably equally horrifying. The Queen set the standard for Disney villains.


2. Shere Khan (The Jungle Book)

The only time I remember crying while watching a Disney movie is when I thought Shere Khan had killed Baloo. It was (and still is) the worst I have ever felt, ever! Even though I know now that Baloo lives, I still can't bring myself to watch that scene. It's just too sad... KAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHNNNNNNNN!


1. The Horned King (The Black Cauldron)

Sweet mother of mercy! Do you see that?! The Horned King was effin' terrifying. He's like the abominable offspring of Maleficent and Skeletor. This guy will haunt you for the rest of your life. Sadly, The Black Cauldron is the least watched of all the films in the Disney canon.


Now that you've read the irrefutable list, tell me what you think - and let Chad know how wrong he really is!   read

10:19 AM on 11.09.2009

Do the Wrong Thing: Beyond Belief

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. – Steven Weinberg

Beliefs are funny. They make us do things against our better judgment. They make us say things that we can’t explain or substantiate. They have the capacity to make us bomb abortion clinics, fly planes into buildings, hate groups of people based on race, gender and/or sexual preference, or play obviously terrible games that are based on the Left Behind series. Our beliefs have the power to make us do things that should be considered universally evil. What’s most frightening is that our beliefs can cause us to find those actions wholly just and proper. The purpose of this entry is to examine potentially evil actions committed in-game that are motivated by beliefs and preconceptions.

Disclaimer: Spoilers for Bioshock, Oblivion, and Execution are contained within.

Let’s first examine the dichotomy between Andrew Ryan and Frank Fontaine in Bioshock. We can easily draw the comparison between the portrayal of extreme “fundamentalist” objectivism to that of religious extremism. That comparison echoes exactly Weinberg’s sentiment in the above quote. It is evident that Fontaine harbors no delusions of utopian idealism, and his actions are not committed in hopes of furthering the greater good. Fontaine commits atrocities to further his own power. This is why Fontaine is a fundamentally weak villain. At his core he’s just a whack job whose only purpose in life is to achieve new heights of self-gratification. Fontaine is an evil man doing evil things. Contrarily, Andrew Ryan’s villainy is much grayer. Upon finally meeting Fontaine, he appears as a monstrous, spliced up mess; but when we met Ryan earlier, we were confronted with a much more sympathetic looking villain. Certainly Ryan has committed evil deeds, which may even make him an evil person, but the impression we get is that Ryan did truly believe in his objectivist utopia and that his aim was to make Rapture a place where man could abandon the restraints of the world outside.

This outlines the problem with Bioshock’s morality choices. You can choose to play either good or evil, but you are not allowed to choose which type of evil you will become. The type of evil you become is akin to Fontaine’s evil. If you choose to be evil, then Jack's moral compass is guided by craving Adam. He harvests the Little Sisters to get the Adam, ultimately becoming that which he is tasked to defeat. The player doesn’t get to believe that they are morally right or justified in choosing the evil storyline. It’s simply a matter of instant gratification, to which no one could make an argument for moral ambiguity. If there were a version of the story where Jack could adopt Ryan’s idealism, or even champion another (socialism, Christianity, etc…), the evil storyline would become infinitely more interesting and enjoyable. As it stands, the story boils down to simply pressing ‘a’ for good and ‘b’ for evil.

Another offender is Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. In terms of the main quest, the player isn’t really given that much freedom by way of determining outcome. The primary antagonist is Mankar Camoran, a villain cut in the mold of Andrew Ryan. He's motivated solely by his beliefs and adherence to the Daedric doctrines that guide the Mythic Dawn cult. Evil in this instance is a matter of prospective for Camoran. Certainly he doesn't view himself as evil, though we can state objectively that he is. What if, by design, a game were able to cause the player to harbor similar delusions? What if, through subtle branching dialog options, the game had caused the player to be sympathetic towards Camoran and the Mythic Dawn cult, or even join the Mythic Dawn and supplant Camoran as the true Daedric adherent? No, instead we’re given the same black and white story we always get. In Oblivion, the player is able to do evil things, such as killing Eldamil, the kind man who guides you through the caverns of Camoran’s paradise, but doing so doesn't alter the story’s outcome. Committing evil acts in Oblivion doesn’t really even make your character evil, necessarily, but only psychopathic or sociopathic. A person with such a conscience (or without conscience) does not have the capacity to determine good or evil. In order to experience the depths of evil, the player must first believe that their actions, however evil they may be, are right and justifiable. Only upon witnessing the outcome of those actions can the player finally step back and determine whether or not those actions were either for good or for evil.

In the indie game Execution, which you should definitely play TWICE before you continue reading this, the player is presented with a faceless figure bound to a post. This is seen through the scope of a gun and a flashlight, presumably affixed to the barrel. The player’s first inclination is to execute (as the title suggests) the figure presented before you. Aside from the title’s implications, you are never formally instructed to do this, nor are you are required to do this in order to progress or complete the game. However, none of that stops of from you from lining up your sights to execute the perfect headshot – after all, that’s what games have trained us to do. Upon shooting the defenseless figure, you receive a message informing you that you have lost. My first response was, “Screw that, I’ll just try again and see if there’s something else to do.” There wasn’t. I opened the game back up only to see a message informing me that “it’s too late.” There the man was, still tied to the post, still dead. The permanence actually shook me a bit, causing me to feel just slightly dirty. The impact, however miniscule, was more indelible than what I had experienced with Passage or any other arthouse game I’ve tried. It’s not that the person died, necessarily, but that I didn’t know whether or not my actions were evil. I believed that what I was doing was the right thing to do. I’ve been playing games for nearly 20 years, and just about every single game I’ve played has taught me to shoot first and ask questions later. I still don't know whether or not my actions were evil, but I know that it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Execution gave me more consequence for potentially evil actions than either Bioshock or Oblivion - or any of the other games that claim to allow the player to experience an "evil" playthrough.

It was my beliefs, predicated on years of gaming experience, which caused me to shoot that figure. It was Andrew Ryan’s beliefs and Mankar Camoran’s beliefs that resulted in the presentation of two interesting characters whose paths towards evil are unexplored by the player due to the limitations of the game. In order for us to truly experience evil from a player-character standpoint, the developer must first make us believe that our in-game actions are proper or justifiable. I don’t have to feel the same level of permanency that I felt with Execution, only that I need to feel like I’m doing is what I should be doing or at least more relative to what I might do in real life. Until a developer can make "evil" choices a matter of perspective, I will continue to play the "good" storyline.   read

1:19 PM on 10.19.2009

Magna Carta II: Impressions

This is going to be my first ever c-blog. I hadn't really decided on whether or not I'd invest a lot of time in writing these, but it seems as though I might be the only one playing Magna Carta II, so I figured I'd let you know if it's worth your precious time and money. I'm a little over 4 hours in at this point and the game has already shown me things I haven't seen in a current-gen JRPG since Lost Odyssey.

Before I get started, let me say that Magna Carta: Tears of Blood was absolutely NOT awesome. It was a terrible game whose suckage was equaled only by its theme song. If you played MC: Tears of Blood, try to erase every bit of it from your memory. Go ahead, I'll wait... Now that that's gone, you can sleep easy knowing you never need to think of it again. Magna Carta II appears to have been created totally independent of Tears of Blood, which was actually a sequel to the first Magna Carta, Magna Carta: Phantom Avalanche. MCII is essentially a reinvention of the franchise, and it's apparently not even spelled the same - MagnaCarta II is the correct spelling, but that's stupid and I refuse to use it.

Visually the game is very well put together, and renders of Korean artist Hyung-Tae Kim's character designs are impressive. The only exception so far is Melissa, whose render is thoroughly terrifying. Her shoulders are at least twice as broad as the Juto's (the main character) and her head is twice as small. The Magna Carta series has been pretty big on breasts (pun might be intended), but Melissa's start about 6 inches lower than they should and are about 6 inches further apart than one would expect. It's not to say that I focus on these things, only that it's pretty noticeable and wholly frightening. The art style for the first few hours has been slightly desaturated. It's certainly not monochrome, but it's definitely less vibrant than the overly saturated Star Ocean 4 and Infinite Undiscovery. The overall look is pretty soft and soothing. Beyond the visuals, MCII has a very impressive Uematsu-esque soundtrack.

The battle system is a huge improvement over the needlessly convoluted battle system of the previous installment. MCII boasts a more real-time system that blends traditional action button mashing with elements of Final Fantasy XII. The battle's are fought in the environment without transporting you to a separate battle screen. The battle mode can be turned on and off with the left trigger. You'll be toggling a lot, as having battle mode turned on slows down your character considerably. You're only allowed about 5-6 regular attacks in a battle before entering "overdrive" state. In overdrive state, your attacks do 1.5x damage. You also have the ability to use special skill attacks with the X button, but the option is not always available. Your attacks are gauged by a meter beneath your character that functions similar to Secret of Mana's battle meter, only in reverse. Your attacks build your battle gauge until you reach overload state, after which you will then fall into "overheat" state. You are unable to attack or move while in overheat state. After a few seconds your mobility will be restored, but you will still not be able to attack again until your battle gauge depletes. It takes some getting used to, but there are a few workarounds. You have the ability to change your leader on the fly by pressing certain directions on the d-pad. If you accomplish an X button attack while in overdrive state, you can switch to another character and immediately use another X button attack to achieve a chain combo for extra damage. Like I said, it takes getting used to.

I can't comment much on the story at this point. MCII commits the most egregious offense of giving the main character amnesia. The game goes on to indulge in other RPG clichés, though I won't mention any others. Basically, you're a guy that joins the Southern Forces fight against the Northern Forces in order to avenge something or someone. That's really about all the story you get at 4 hours.

I'm excited to keep playing this one. It's the first JRPG that has immediately ensnared me since Lost Odyssey. After the first 3 or 4 hours of Star Ocean, it sat in a drawer for a few months before I finally got an itch to finish it. I still haven't played past the first 4 hours of Infinite Undiscovery or Enchanted Arms. But with Borderlands and Dragon Age: Origins on the horizon, Magna Carta II will likely get set aside for a while. I might change my mind should the story pick up a bit, but there are just too many games coming out that I'm a bit more stoked on. It's definitely worth picking up if you're a JRPG enthusiast. If not, you should still pick it up after you play through the rest of the games in your queue. If you don't like JRPGs, you probably didn't read any of this.[img]   read

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