January 31, 2014

Let's discuss Binbougami Ga!.

Weird punctuation in the title.  This is gonna be a good post.

Anyway, have you heard about that game J-Stars Victory Vs.?  I’m guessing that if you’re reading this blog, you have a faint idea of what that is; for the uninitiated, here’s a primer.  Characters from the much-adored/ballyhooed Shonen Jump, a premiere Japanese comic collection, come together to fight it out in 3D arenas via 3-on-3 tag battles.  So you can have famous heavy hitters like Goku, Naruto, and Luffy on one side going up against new blood and/or old friends like Joseph Joestar, Medaka, and Kenshin.  I’m hoping that the game makes it over to the U.S. -- and, you know, is good -- because with the semi-recent announcement that MAH BOI Tsuna is in the game, my body is slowly but surely becoming ready.

But you know who I really want in the game?  Ichiko from Binbougami Ga!.  It makes perfect sense; people have complained that there’s a dearth of female characters in the game, so she could fill it easily.  She’s got more than enough inspiration for some special moves, so she could translate into the combat space pretty easily.  She’s got MORE than enough personality, so her moves could either be ridiculously over-the-top, or outright comedic (think Faust from Guilty Gear).  Or if nothing else, putting her in the game would certainly put a smile on my face.

Why?  Probably because for one reason or another, I really friggin’ like her anime of origin.  And by extension, probably because I think she’s one of the best Jump characters to pop up in a while -- because there's a lot any given writer can learn from her.

January 29, 2014

D.O.X. is Dead #1: Ghosts and Gimmicks

Anyone up for a little story?  And by “story” I mean tangentially discussing the mechanics of a story?  Well, you’re in luck.  If you ever wanted to know what kind of strange tales I’ve dreamed up -- without having to suffer through a million billion words first -- then this new feature is just for you.  So let’s get things started, shall we?

Let’s begin with the basics.  I’ve mentioned in the past that my process for coming up with stories starts with what sort of superpowers I can work with.  That’s something that holds true to this day, if you can believe that; setting aside the fact that it can give a character a unique flair and skill set, there’s plenty of thematic merit and motif-making that can be done using superpowers as a basis.  It’s what separates Superman from, say, Batman.  Supes is often considered a god among men, so his stories reflect that; conversely, a lot of people tend to appreciate Bats because underneath his resources and skills, he’s a very fragile (and emotionally-disturbed) person.  That’s a hyper-condensed discussion of them, I know, but the point still stands.  Superpowers can make for a pretty good starting point when it comes to stories.

With that in mind, one day I asked myself a question: what can I do with ghost powers?

January 27, 2014

Is Senran Kagura Secretly Brilliant?

Hey, everybody, how’s it going?  Let’s talk about breasts.

A while back, I was on The Escapist sifting through the forums -- something I don’t do all that often, unless there’s an interesting topic listed on the front page.  But as internet-surfing tends to go, one thing led to another, and after a while somebody asked an interesting question: “If Alyx Vance had big breasts, would she be a worse character?”  I don’t know Half-Life well enough to comment, but I’ve heard of her before (semi-extensively, because she’s a top-tier female character).  And I know that her abject non-sexualization is part of her appeal.  “She’s wearing clothes!  She doesn’t have big boobs!  She’s not just eye candy!”  And so on. 

But would making her improbably buxom automatically hurt her appeal?  Her credibility?  Well, yes and no.  “Yes” in the sense that a bust boost threatens to head into seedy territory, and could be exploited.  “No” in the sense that just because a character is busty doesn’t make them a bad character.  (See: Lulu, Cortana, Juliet Starling, Bayonetta, Elizabeth Comstock, several Mass Effect characters, several Dragon Age characters, at least one character per Tales game, and virtually every female character in the Devil Survivor games.)  If a character only exists to be objectified, that’s a problem.  If a colossal chest -- for a variable definition of “colossal” -- is used to make a character visually distinct, and as a trait of a character than a defining characteristic, then it makes for more stable ground.

Which brings me to Senran Kagura -- the seediest of all seedy games.

January 24, 2014

Let's discuss Archie's Weird Mysteries.

Didn’t see this one coming, did you?

I’ve mentioned several times in the past that I have some major respect for what you’d might call “kid’s stuff”.  And with good reason -- they are, almost by nature, the perfect sources for imagination, good spirits, and charm.  But they can also be sources of insight, thematic merit, and depth.  I’d like to think that in light of shows like Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, and either Avatar series, the game has officially leveled up.  And I’m happy for it…even if I only show my support as a spiteful reaction to the brown and gray wastelands of modern gaming.

But for a while now, I’ve had a bit of an opportunity of sorts.  I’ve always believed that one should never underestimate the power of basic cable, as it’s the place where Everybody Loves Raymond once ruled the roost (for a given definition of “ruled” or “roost”…or “the”).  So one night I was flipping through channels, and I just so happened to spot something called Archie’s Weird Mysteries on a dedicated children’s network.  And I watched it.  And as the days passed, I watched more of it -- and more, and more, and more, because hey, I could have something in the background playing while putting together some of the more tedious aspects of Cross-Up.  And I thought to myself, “You know, maybe I should do a post on this show.  It’d be fun -- like a gag post or something.”

How funny you find this post depends on how much you agree with my interpretations.  Because the way things are looking, I’m about ready to declare the cartoon one of the blackest of black comedies ever created…at best.  At its worst?  It’s downright horrifying.  

January 22, 2014

Ever Wanted to Live in a Video Game?

Because I’m sure no one’s ever asked that question.  Except for, you know, thousands of people prior to this post.  And I’m pretty sure that’s been the premise of several dozen TV show episodes, movies, and likely a few video games, paradoxical as that sounds. 

In the interest of preparing new stuff for Cross-Up -- including a post this Friday that you’ll never see coming, whoa ho! -- there happened to be a promo for a what’s-old-is-new-again show, Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?  The central question?  Pretty much the same as this post’s title.  Apparently, in the context of that show everything takes place in some kind of virtual reality, which would probably explain why the game/show keeps finding ways to let Carmen escape danger unscathed -- no Carmen = no show. 

Hmmm.  Villains carrying a story.  That could make for a good post one day.  But let’s focus on this one for now.

January 21, 2014

The 2-Year Anniversary OF DOOM: Cross-Up Returns!

Truer words have never been spoken.  Also, let’s just pretend that this post isn’t coming a week after the anniversary date, all right?  It’ll be fun.

Also, I sure hope Disqus is working again by the time you reach the end of the post.  It's been iffy, so pardon any mishaps with the comments section.  Hopefully it'll clear up soon.

Now then, let's get to it.

January 19, 2014

Technical difficulties rule!

Well, so much for a grand relaunch.  Blogger's screwing up, Disqus is screwing up, and I'm tired and frustrated.  Not a good combination.

If you're reading this, sit tight.  I hope to have everything sorted out by this coming Tuesday.  Then again, considering that this mess has cropped up, it looks like Murphy's Law is in full effect.

January 17, 2014

Cross-Up Returns! (Next week.)

Title says it all, folks.  It’s about time for me to bring this hiatus to an end -- and rest assured I will.  I’m going to go ahead and shoot for uploading new content on Monday (and hopefully things will show up as planned), but it should go without saying that I’ve got more in store than just more ridiculous -- and ridiculously long -- posts.  I’m hoping I can have everything I want implemented by then, but if not, they’ll just have to trickle in later.  I can already think of one big thing in particular that needs a bit more time, but if it’s words you want, it’s words you’ll get.

And there you have it.  An announcement of…well, it’s not quite an announcement, but it’s eerily close to what the video game industry’s been doing for a while.  So to compensate, please enjoy that picture of a yeti.  Because yetis are awesome.

Well, I guess technically he’s a sasquatch, but still.  So awesome.

January 10, 2014

As Black as Lightning (Part 3 -- FINALE)

(Cross-Up is still on hiatus, but don't worry -- it'll be back before the end of the month, maybe!  In the meantime, have one more irreverent and overzealous post on a certain magical video game!  Because that's what you're here for, right?  Not the sauerkraut jokes?)

If for some silly reason you’re just joining me here for this FFXIII miniseries (here’s part 1, and here’s part 2), let me give you another primer.  The thrust of my argument is that Lightning Farron, lead character of this so-called Lightning Saga and Square-Enix’s current golden girl, is actually the villain of her games…and as of the last post, you can add “insane” to her name.  If only by accident -- or sheer writing incompetence, if you prefer.

I’d like to think that this trend is going to continue, and get even worse, with Lightning Returns.  It’s easy to shrug off the game as having a garbage story and just enjoying the gameplay -- but that really is a disservice to everyone involved.  If a game is going to tell a story, especially if it’s part of a genre half-built on telling stories, then the quality of the game CAN’T be divorced from the quality of its story.  The technique has to be judged, as do its particulars; ideas, themes, and especially characters have to be taken in wholesale.  And that includes the sequel nobody begged for…to another sequel nobody begged for.

It’s hard to get a full understanding of the story without playing all of Lightning Returns, but with the release date lurching ever closer (God help us all), I think there are just enough details for me to make a few claims.  Obviously, all of this is going to be up for interpretation, so feel free to disagree with me.  I’ll welcome dissent, even if I don’t exactly have a good counterargument.  One man’s villain is another man’s hero, after all.    

So let’s get started.  But before I begin, let’s step back for a moment.  A long moment.

Spoilers for FFXIII and XIII-2 -- and potentially Lightning Returns -- incoming.  I would probably not even read this post if I was you.  Or…you know, if I was smart.

January 3, 2014

As Black as Lightning (Part 2)

(Cross-Up is still on hiatus, because who needs posts on video games when you can enjoy the holidays?  In the meantime, please enjoy this post on a video game!)

And here we are again. 

If you’re just joining me here for this little miniseries (and here’s part 1 if you missed it), let me give you a primer.  In lieu of current -- and in my eyes overwhelming -- evidence, I’m convinced that Square Enix’s beloved Lightning Farron is more than what she appears to be on the surface.  Whether you’re convinced she’s a strong, cool heroine or a bland marketing tool, I have my own theory in mind.  Simply put, I think this so-called “Lightning Saga” of Final Fantasy XIII games earned its name because the titular lady is actually the villain.  Or if not that, then at least a villain.

It should go without saying, but die-hard fans of Lightning/FFXIII MIGHT want to stay away from this post.  It’ll keep your blood pressure at a stable level.

(Spoilers for FFXIII and XIII-2 incoming…and also Metal Gear Rising, tangentially.  I would run now if I were you, especially if you want to see the games fresh.  Especially MGR.  Because it’s so friggin’ cool.)