My Expertise: The Grand Jackass of Obscurity

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You play Final Fantasy; I play Shin Megami Tensei. You play Street Fighter; I play King of Fighters. You played Mega Man 2; I played all of them and VII is my favorite. Good day, kind sir or madams. I am the Grand Jackass of Obscurity and I don’t care about popular opinion.

Something funny I’ve always noticed is that for some reason people tend to remember me even though I’m never going to remember them. I have nothing against the people themselves; I simply have an impossibly selective memory that doesn’t care for such trifling details like names, faces, dates or any of those other things that society depends on in order to not fall into total chaos. Still, for ages people have given me nicknames. Sometimes it’s out of fondness and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes I can’t even tell. One that’s really stuck is my title of “Hater Mike.” My title no doubt is partially because of my cynical nature. No doubt the other part is that I’m simply very willing to state both positive and negative opinions. 

I am the friendly jackass. I’m cynical and rude in general at first glance but when you get to know me I’m actually fairly nice. I keep my distance from most people but it just takes one decent conversation before I’m willing to give you a chance. Still, I’m the kind of guy who forms his own opinion and I’m not afraid to state that opinion. Being so outspoken is what makes me a hater to a lot of people, and in some ways I do regard it as a talent. If absolutely nothing else, my opinions are my own and I do my best to form them logically. Sometimes I’m excessively negative, but when I put my mind to it I think I can give extremely solid reasons for why I do and do not like something.

I consider that a talent because so many people seem to like what they do for little reason other than it’s what they know. They so often seem to take comfort in familiarity. We have slavish fanbases dedicated to mainstream titles that proclaim how incredible these generally popular games are. I have no way of knowing the circumstances behind each member of these fanbases. Regardless the ones I have seen lead me to believe that if many of these people took the time to expand their knowledge of games a bit: they wouldn’t be so hopelessly obsessed with such a small group of games. As such I am the Grand Jackass of Obscurity. I take a certain pride in expanding my knowledge of a particular genre. Exploring it with a magnifying glass. I enter certain phases and begin studying everything available and experiment with as many games as I can. In time I’ll have found those games which I feel fit me best.

I don’t consider a game on the merits of its popularity but rather what it offers me that is unique and personally appealing. As such I feel I have an identity in regards to my gaming tastes. I took time to find what I liked and the games in my collection reflect my values and interests. At the same time I don’t completely disregard mainstream gaming. To be a true Grand Jackass of Obscurity requires a knowledge of both the well and the little known. If it passes my own standard of quality and craftsmanship I will at least give it a shot eventually. There’s only so much time in the world, though. Sooner than explore the mainstream options I will readily admit to choosing quirkier and in my mind more interesting titles first.

I often spend more time learning about new games than actually playing games. If you stretched the definition of hobby far enough, simply researching games in itself could probably qualify as a hobby for me. This probably started with my intense research of the Dreamcast library. I was a true fan of the system ever since it had come out and I was always, always searching for something to play on the machine. I scoured reviews of every kind, read summaries, checked out gameplay footage. I played as many Dreamcast games as I could and analyzed well over a hundred games. I found what looked interesting and I slowly whittled away what games I would invest myself in. I found the actual exercise of becoming a borderline expert of the Dreamcast library fun in itself. There was a time I likewise dedicated myself to becoming an expert of the DS library, buying and trying out just about everything on the platform from crappy racing ports like Need for Speed: Carbon to little known platformers like Legend of Kage 2.

I’m quite happy to see crazy new titles like Retro Game Challenge and Space Invaders Extreme find their way into my library recently, but have since tapped the majority of what I consider interesting titles on the DS and have moved on to the PSP. Currently I’m experimenting with Chibi-Robo on the DS. Since I’m on the subject of both my opinions and the DS: I’m one of the few people who thought Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass was a work of pure genius in all regards, especially when speaking about the Temple of the Ocean King. I had great fun with the multiplayer, I scoured every inch of the world map and got almost every ship piece, and I can get to the end of the Temple of the Ocean King with only 15 seconds taken off my timer. In terms of how much I enjoyed the game I would actually place it up somewhere near the top of my Zelda list with A Link to the Past.

I think the Temple of the Ocean King is interesting enough to run through it just for the hell of appreciating it. How many of you people who complained about it even realized that there’s dozens of shortcuts in it? That dungeon is a maze labor of love. Oh, yeah. I think the PSP and the Wii have lots of interesting games too.

To this day I still do engage in perplexing activities and can waste hours at a time drudging through my Goozex account looking for some new little game to toss on to my request list. Merely playing games is not part of my identity as a games enthusiast. As the Grand Jackass of Obscurity I’m always trying to find something new and interesting to expand my appreciation of gaming with. My spare time and my common sense are in a never ending battle over whether I should dedicate myself into researching a new game I’d never heard of. All this time I spend outside of games could be spent on games, but somehow I don’t think that would be as interesting.

I am the Grand Jackass of Obscurity. In some small way I always seem to be the minority and I’m quite happy to be so. The Wii has more games that interest me than the other next generation consoles. I think Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy are way over rated. I thought God Hand was one of the single greatest concepts in the history of history even though it was basically a half-complete game.

I’m perfectly open to listening to opposing viewpoints, but if you plan on talking me ear off about how great some game is you better bring some meat to the table. Prepare for me to think differently from you while I’m at it: I’m not afraid to do so. I’m a jackass that doesn’t like frivolous conversation nor being a simple yesman. Often times I find more enjoyment in talking about games than even playing them. In analyzing them and simply experiencing them. In studying them and then trying to do them proper justice in my writings. Seemingly pointless research is in my blood. Catch me in the right mood and I’ll be enough of a dick to haze you when I’m done scouring Wikipedia for information on Twinkle Star Sprites. I’m a jackass like that.

Talking out your ass is fun as hell, I might add.

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