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LONG BLOG

Two Best Friends Play: A Personal Retrospective

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When Two Best Friends Play first appeared in 2011 there were already plenty of Let’s Plays, both written and recorded. Some tried to be informative, some tried to be funny, some tried to be both, they often failed. What Two Best Friends Play did differently was take highlights from Matt and Pat playing a game together and edit them into one video. It was nothing but jokes, and you did not need to know much about the video game they were playing to enjoy it.

Matt and Pat were a classic comedy duo, Matt was the dumb one and Pat was the angry one. Exaggerated personalities to be sure, but they were great at it. More importantly though was that they were not idiots. Matt played the fool, but unlike some other humor based Let’s Play groups they did not act like obnoxious jackasses for a half an hour. Most of the time they were clever and competent and knew how to expertly play off each other.

I first learned about Two Best Friends Play when I watched a video of their audio synched up with a cartoon based on the webcomic Homestuck. I was big into Homestuck at the time, something I am not proud of now. The dialogue was hilarious, so I found Matt’s channel and watched the few videos they had done already. I was hooked immediately.

I found a thread about them on the TVTropes forum, TVTropes being the older, more ingrained internet addiction I have. It only had a couple of posts on it so far, because they had just started, and the thread was in the weird nebulous “It Just Awes Me” section. It’s funny to think of how small and unknown Matt and Pat were back during their first season. After a few more videos came out I made a page for Two best Friends Play on TVTropes and asked the moderators to move the thread to the “New Media” forum.

Two Best Friends Play had more seasons on Machinima, and Matt and Pat revealed their names, having previously gone nameless. Those were the golden years. Matt and Pat soared in popularity, and never had a bad episode. The dumb-Matt angry-Pat dynamic was perfect. We finally saw what Matt and Pat looked like and a lot of people were surprised with how big a guy the high-pitched Matt was. There was even this cute video of them discussing video games while walking around that made them look like real friends.

I have never been happy with any changes the show made, because they always moved further away from what made the original show entertaining, a packed compilation of Matt and Pat riffing. The first change was a natural evolution of the show, doing full Let’s Plays of games instead of merely compilations of jokes.

The second change was the addition of Woolie. Woolie was the link between Matt and Pat, a collaborator with Matt on their Fighterpedia show, and possibly the original half of the duo. I resented Woolie’s inclusion immediately. It was not that Matt and Pat were inherently amusing, it’s that they were amusing when they played off each other, that was the appeal. Woolie got in the way of that, and his personality added nothing to the dynamic. The jokes about Woolie were funny, but not Woolie himself. He was too normal to be a comedic foil, and he took precious time away from Matt and Pat.

Matt and Pat would do Let’s Plays with just Woolie and not each other. This ended up highlighting a major problem with Matt, that he used a lot reference humor which was never funny. Without Pat to play off Matt relied on reference humor a lot, since Woolie would just go along with anything. I preferred the videos with just Pat and Woolie, because Pat made more observational humor and was more caustic, which could carry Woolie.

Matt, Pat, and Woolie then added a fourth friend, Liam. Woolie took the brunt of my anger over the change in format, so I did not hate Liam as much. But he was still the same problem as Woolie, he took more time away from just Matt and Pat. At best he was somewhat livelier and less accommodating than Woolie, but Liam did not have his own interesting dynamic with anyone either.

This was probably when Two Best Friends Play was at it’s grandest. Despite my problems with the additions to the cast I still watched every video that came out. My favorite Let’s Plays of all time came out in this era, when Matt and Pat played Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, and Pat and Liam played Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. And Star Fox Adventures showed Matt, Woolie, and Liam could make a decent Let’s Play on their own.

 

By now Two Best Friends Play was famous, they had other artists making their intro cards, fanart, fan videos, and official videos. They were one of the most famous humor based Let’s Play groups on the internet, and possibly the only one without massive hatedom accompanying it.

The four friends tried branching out into other types of videos. There were live action skits, a fighting tournament, an animated series where Matt and Pat talked, a video series based on side-scrolling beat-em-ups, and a series based on multiplayer games called Super Best Friends Brawl. All of them except Brawl were mediocre and forgettable.

They also started the Super Best Friendcast, a weekly podcast where they talked about what they did over the past week and video game news, and often went on tangents. At first, I did not listen to their podcast because I did not think them merely talking about video games would be interesting, but I eventually caved in and started listening. I had been struggling with finding something interesting to listen to when I went to the gym, and their podcast made going to the gym so much easier.

I started to lose interest in the channel in the middle of 2015. There were a lot of reasons but the main one was that Matt and Pat were not as funny as they use to be. I did not find any jokes or bits they did to be as memorable as their older videos. Matt and Pat had dropped their personas and acted normally, but that did not make them funnier.

Otherwise the problem was their choice in games to play. What I realized, especially after watching their Eternal Darkness playthrough, was that I preferred watching Matt and Pat play games they had never played before. I especially liked games I had played before that they were going into blind, but I was just happy with games we were all new to. As time went on they played fewer games which I had played before, fewer older or less well known games. In fact it felt like the only games Matt and Pat played blind were recently released games, and while I understand you got to do that to get views on a YouTube channel, I was usually not interested in watching new games because either I intended to play them myself or they played games I did not care about.

What really drove me crazy though was how the only older games Matt and Pat played when they did play older games were survival horror games Pat knew about, or sequels to games Pat liked. Pat use to be my favorite of the two and I really enjoyed his reactions to new games, but after a while he only played games he was very familiar with, and that was really boring to watch. It was like Pat was too lazy or afraid to come out of his comfort zone.

Meanwhile the non-Matt/Pat combos were playing less famous games like I wanted Matt and Pat to do, and most of the time they were playing games I was not interested in enough to watch if Matt and Pat were not playing. I suppose it was merely a coincidence they were not doing Let’s Plays I cared about, but it felt like they were deliberately avoiding good games. I went from watching their entire year’s worth of content to watching three of their Let’s Plays out of twenty-six.

I started to get angry whenever they would play another game I did not care about, I probably took it too personally. I made a list in my head of games that I would rather see them play. They had a subreddit where people could suggest games for them to play which I used, but I am pretty sure that was set up so people would not bother them with suggestions, and they never actually checked it.

One time my mother and I went to Montreal for one of her conferences, and she got sick so I spent the day walking around Montreal on my own. I daydreamed about running into the Friends and some contrivance would come up where they would have to listen to my list of games. Once when I went to PAX East I saw Woolie and Liam, but I chickened out instead of saying anything to them.

When Liam left the group in 2016, that should have been a sign that hanging around Matt and/or Pat and/or Woolie was not as fun as it appeared to be. At the time I thought the pressure of being a fulltime part of a YouTube channel had gotten to Liam and he had quit so he could relax. While I had gotten use to Liam and enjoyed a few of the Let’s Plays he did, his departure did not change my opinion of the channel or how much I watched it.

As I watched less of the main channel, the podcast became my main source of Super Best Friends. I dreamed of becoming a famous author one day so they would have me on as a guest, even though that was not the type of guests they normally had. I bet I was not the only one who thought that when listening to the podcast.

Liam’s departure made me wonder if channel would eventually shut down. I did not think it would shut down because Matt and Pat would dissolve their friendship, I thought that, like so many celebrities, social media would sink their empire. On one podcast Pat said he supported Brexit, and several times there were stories of Matt getting drunk. I figured eventually Pat would say something that would offend too many people, or Matt would get so drunk that he would fuck up in some way. I would not be surprised if Matt was drunk for some of his videos or podcasts.

My resentment of their lack of interesting material reached a peak in the beginning of 2017 when I finally unsubscribed from their channel. I was tired of my YouTube subscription page being filled with videos I had no interest in. I wrote a blog post for Destructoid about why I was no longer subscribed to their channel or their Tumblrs, though I did not publish it. It seems so petty now. Can you imagine, writing a blog post just to say I was not watching a YouTube channel?

Instead I started watching other Let’s Players, though I never subscribed to their channels. I would search for Let’s Players based on what game I wanted to watch someone do a blind playthrough of. They were adequate, but no one ever came close to Matt and Pat in their prime.

The podcast continued to slide as well. While I once would have never listened to a podcast with just Matt and Woolie, now I would often skim through podcasts where it was only Pat and Woolie. Pat had a terrible habit of going on forever about some topic which only interested him, whether it was Final Fantasy XIV, or Monster Hunter, or Hunter x Hunter, and Woolie would just sit there and let him ramble. At least Matt’s presence sometimes made Pat turn it down.

Pat was also getting a lot more needlessly antagonistic, he seemed to like taking contrarian opinions just to be controversial, but then would add some sort of self-deprecation, like that was a shield against criticism. The lowest point must be when he chewed out Woolie for several minutes for liking Game Boy games a few weeks before the breakup.

In hindsight there were a lot of clues near the end to the breakup. Matt and Woolie started their own channels, Pat started streaming stuff a lot more. I tried watching Matt’s first video, he played Bible Black and complained about the porn parts. Why did he even play it? There was no way I was going to watch Pat without a filter. Woolie’s channel was okay, but his content was hit or miss. I wondered if they were nearing the end of the show, but I thought they would just move to work primarily on their own channels and frequently crossover with each other, Matt would appear on Pat’s channel and vice versa. Woolie starting his own podcast should have been a red flag.

When the three Friends aired their final video there were a lot of people on the internet saying they were saddened by the news (but not surprised), and I feel the same way. Even if I did watch Matt, Pat, and Woolie less and less, they were still entertainment for me for seven years. I was two-thirds through the last podcast and still had not watched the latest Kingdom Hearts video when I saw their final video. Woolie looked so old and tired. Someone elsewhere on the internet pointed out they were not even in the same room when they made that video. I don't have heart to finish up their last podcast.

But I am not surprised they broke up. If Liam leaving was a sign of anything it is how stressful this line of work can be. It is why I would not want to stream video games for a living. It sounds like Matt wanted to pursue other projects. But why did they fight? I would also not be surprised if there was an ideological factor. In one podcast Pat supports Brexit, in one video Matt is too afraid to say “bitch” out loud.

Now I do not know what to do. Going to the gym has not been as fun without their podcast, but there is no way I am going to listen to just Pat and Woolie.

Once it hurts less, I will check in on how Woolie and Matt are doing. In a reversal of how I felt about Woolie initially, I am looking forward to seeing what he produces the most, since he is the only one who can run a Let’s Play by himself in an entertaining way, as long as he actually plays interesting games, not Naruto games. I heard Liam wants to work with Matt and Woolie again and I would like to see the results of that since I enjoyed the time Matt and Liam played Life is Strange.

Here’s to you, Two Best Friends Play, you were a surprisingly large part of my life for many years, and I will always remember the good times from many years ago. I know it could not have gone on forever, but I really wish it had not ended so sadly.

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About mullonone of us since 9:49 AM on 01.21.2011