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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Legendary Cats...Dogs...Shishi.


Sparkledogs ahoy! Go to any good fansite and they will tell you how to get these shiny, shiny critters. Raikou's going to be appearing at your local GameStop from Jan 3-9; Entei from Jan 17th-23rd; Suicune from Jan 31st to Feb 6th.

Ever since Pokemon Gold, Silver, and Crystal came out, there has been a huge debate over whether the Legendary Trio of Gen II - Raikou, Entei, and Suicune - are cats or dogs. This is probably because these two are the only carnivorous groups that many people formally recognize. (What if they're procyonids, related to aardwolves, synapsids or the last remaining carnivorous marsupials? Ever think of that?) This debate has led to them jokingly being called the "Legendary Hamsters."

Even Nintendo has no firm say on this one; although the old official player's guide outright calls Entei a cat, the recent Pokemon TCG tins have doglike adages attached to them ("every Pokemon has its day" and "every tin is a trainer's best friend"). If they had a stance, they've either forgotten it or are preying on the rift in the fanbase.

The Legendary Beasts have been causing confusion since G/S first came out. They should not be; their lineage is obvious enough if you can see oriental mythology beyond the dragon. The Beasts are both cats and dogs while also being neither. Yes, really:



You have probably seen this creature somewhere before. It might have been at a Chinese restaurant, a home deco store, or even in front of a classy hotel. They usually travel in male-female pairs, looking majestic and intimidating regardless of what sex you are staring into the mouth of. They are so common in Eastern decor that many people just shrug them off as dogs, even though they are an entirely different creature.

The (catchable) Legendary Pokemon of Johto all derive from oriental mythology: Although Lugia looks more like a sea slug than a dragon, its contrast with Ho-oh and overall position in the lore of the Pokemon world say that it should be a ryuujin (lit. "dragon god"), a kingly serpent of the ocean; Ho-oh is, a bit more obviously, a houou, the Japanese version of China's multicolored fenghuang. Logically and aesthetically, the Beasts should also fit with some oriental motif.

(Much thanks to Google Image Search and Bulbapedia for the six pics used. No animals were harmed in the making of this image, but some people might find their souls broken.)

They do. They all resemble, in some way, shape or form, the Chinese Fu Dogs (a misnomer), guardian lion-dogs, shisa, shishi, shizi, Tibetan snow lions, or whatever else you would like to call them. Although varying slightly by area, the basic function of an Asian lion is to ward off evil. Stationary shishi are usually placed alongside doorways; dancing lions (also called shishi) chase away evil spirits more actively. Shishi statues can be found outside of shrines and homes in Japan, Korea and China. Although they look like dogs to most Westerners, they are supposed to be lions.

China does not have wild lions. They have tigers, leopards, and pandas that should have been Darwinized out of the system ages ago, but they do not have lions. The tiger is the king of beasts over there, expressed both by one of the most masculine signs in the Zodiac and the "king" character derived from the tiger's forehead marking (pronounced "wahng," not "wayng" - stop laughing). The ruler of beasts, even in mythology, is either the tiger or a creature called a qilin. For the longest time, the Chinese did not have a clue what a lion really looked like...so they made one.

There is a story that a monk first heard of apotropaic lions in a spiritual vision, but did not know what they looked like. Being told that it was the real king of beasts, he took all the magical or lucky animals he could think of and made a 'lion.' That mishmash included dogs, which were afterwards bred to look even more like 'lions.' Real lion pelts were also probably thrown into the mix, but that's as far as the similarities go.


Get in the car?
 
Chinese lions have different rules from real lions. The sexes of lions used in lion dances are not distinguishable by mane or size. The sexes of stationary shishi can be distinguished depending on what the beast has beneath its paw (the female has a cub, the male has a sphere) and, in Okinawa, by whether the mouth is open or closed. You will find things like "the female has her mouth closed, as she should" or "the male has his mouth closed to keep the luck in." Sexing does not matter for the Legendary Beasts; the point is that, like Ho-Oh and Lugia, they are just barely based off of real animals. Lions are mythical in China.



Why three of them, then? Although stationary shishi usually come in pairs, the dancing lions can often be divided into threes (or fives). The most common colors are golden/yellow, red, and black/green - in that order. (Sometimes, the other two elements -there are five total elements in Chinese mysticism - are added in other ordering systems.)

This should sound familiar. Although Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres follow the same elemental/color pattern as the Eeveelutions (Water/Ice/Blue, Electric/Yellow, Fire/Red), the Beasts follow the  traditional order of shishi, with yellow coming first (then red, then green/black). These colors have different stories and meanings, but it is widely thought that the black lion is the youngest - and, therefore, comes last in line (but first when dancers are starting out).

The order seen in the Legendary Beasts - yellow, red, blue - is common in lion dancing. The golden lion represents either liveliness or the warrior-emperor Liu Bei, the oldest of three 'brothers' from Romance of the Three Kingdoms; the red lion, courage or Guan Gong AKA Guan Yu, the middle brother; the black lion, friendship or Zhang Fei, the youngest brother. (The element of water can be represented with black in feng shui.) If the new cave Legends are the Three Musketeers, Romance of the Three Kingdoms is fair game.  Everything weird about the Legendary Beasts makes sense in the context of Chinese lions. 

But they didn't even start the fire...














Arcanine is a more obvious tribute to shishi (or Okinawan shisa) than the Legendary Beasts. There are hints that, like Ho-Oh and Lugia, it was designed to be a Legendary Pokemon. (The most obvious of these is in its species designation as "Legendary," but there is also one bit in the first episode of Pokemon ever: Arcanine is pegged as a Legendary alongside Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres at a Pokemon Center.)  It, like Lugia and Ho-Oh, was based off of a mythical creature from oriental folklore. (This is why Arcanine is called "Chinese" on the HG/SS trading card.) Instead, it was made into an evolution of Growlithe, the Puppy Pokemon; the Legendary Beasts stole its thunder in Generation II. Arcanine did not retain its Legendary status, but the ambiguity is still there.

After Arcanine was axed from Club Legendary, three new members with a similar basis took its place in Generation II. The new shishi, Raikou, Entei and Suicune, formed a trio that contrasted with the Legendary Birds in Generation I. They, like Arcanine, had both feline and canine in their blood.  Despite having "canine" right in the name, it is obvious that Arcanine has some catty characteristics as well (such as the coat). People are not afraid to admit that Arcanine has traits of both cats and dogs; why so split with the Beasts?

The three Legendary Beasts are lions based on dogs based on lions. It is just as silly to debate over whether the Beasts are cats or dogs as it is over whether dragons are mammals or reptiles. There. You both win. Happy, or do we have to start looking into mammalian dentition rules?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What...the...?



Am I the only one who's scared?

That image is the first peek we have had at Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL (pronounced "ze-a-ru" - the X is silent, apparently). We do not yet know what the series is about, but the lead character's name is "Yuma Kyuujyuukyuu (or some other reading of "99")," the blue spirit thing is called "Astral," and the last character has the kanji for "god" in his (her?) name. If I had a better scan, I could tell you all more.


I swear there is a reason for this Digimon.

For now, I am afraid. Very, very afraid. The huge X and the protagonist's hairstyle remind me of Shoutmon, the lead character's partner Digimon on Xros Wars. Xros Wars is, itself, a mediocre member of the Digimon franchise. It's really sad that YGO has had to resort to not only possibly putting the series in outer space (only slightly more dangerous than card games on motorbikes) to stay in business. It is sadder still that it cannot give the anime a break, but that is a topic for another entry. 

But a Digimon mooch? Ra help us all. *Kisses her Winged Dragon of Ra like a rosary.*

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hologram Duels, Anyone?



Happy Duel Transer  and Hidden Arsenarelease day! For those of you who do not keep up with YGO releases, Although I do not own a Wii (I know, shoot me), there was something about the Duel Transer game that got my attention as soon as I heard about it. (You already know that I'm all for HA3.)



Duel Transer was supposed to be released alongside a new piece of hardware: The Duel Scanner. In short, it was a small machine that you put cards in. It would scan them and you could use them in-game. It saved the cards and added them into the player's card pool, essentially removing the 'code' part of customizing a virtual deck.  In theory, it transferred one's whole deck into the game.

In theory.

In practice, there were a LOT of limits on what can and cannot be used in this device. Promo cards, for example, were right out. There was a whole list of cards that could not be used in the Duel Scanner, and it was not at all pretty.

There were so many problems with the Duel Scanner that it went kaput. It is no longer being released today; Konami has not given any clear word on when its next scheduled release.  Now we don't know when it is coming out, but Konami says that they are fine-tuning it. (Pun not intended, by the way.)

Why is making the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game into a viable game using virtual monsters and real cards so hard for them? Not only has Japan had arcade-style terminals for ages (hell, Digimon had them before YGO), but somebody has already beaten them to the technology to make awesome virtual summons possible:



For those of you who do not already know what this video is, a while back, Sony made a card-battling video game called Eye of Judgment. It was made in 06-07, finally dying in '08. It flopped because it was way too easy to cheat with just the PlayStation Eye watching. Plus, people were probably agitating the monsters too much; if you poked an EoJ monster, it would react. Sweet; now bring it to a game that actually works.

If Konami could somehow make YGO work with this technology (maybe a 'retro edition' to limit the amount of monsters it would need to render), it would be the best card game in existence.  It would also conflict with the Duel Terminal cards as they are (the coding's on the back, apparently), although a combination of both types of technology would be beyond awesome. It would be just like Kazuki Takahashi intended.


OK, throw in Wi-Fi Duel Disks. THEN it would be just like Kaz intended. (C'mon, Konami! YOU CAN DO IT!)

Until next time...YOUR MOTHER PLAYS CARD GAMES IN HELL!

Monday, November 29, 2010

NCS 11/29 - FUCK YES!



Two words: YES! YES!

I had been flopping like a fish about whether I should give Konami another chance or not. I thought "eh, one pack couldn't hurt" since I had a dream about YGO last night/this morning. Flipped my British pound coin until it approved of a pack, and check out the result! (For those unaware, the Secret Rare of the pack, Naturia Beast, is worth twenty bucks upwards.)

The other reason I gave Konami a chance is because of something that will be coming out December 7th. More on that when it happens, but let's just say that Duel Disks are getting closer and closer.

Did the same thing with Pokemon. That little binder is cool; I love the Legendary Beasts so much! It's also getting to the point where I can feel whether a pack will have a holofoil or not. Love the coin and a personal little secret of mine. Hint: It's not a pocket scale!

Also got my brother the Marik deck. I don't know why his wife will not let him spend money on one of Konami's better moves, especially since the whole family is hooked on games. Mirror Force needed to be a common a LONG time ago.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reshriam and Zekrom in the Macy's Parade.



This year's Thanksgiving Day parade featured the usual Pikachu, but also sported balloons of Reshriam and Zekrom, the two cover Pokemon for the upcoming Black and White versions. Pikachu's nothing new; Reshiram and Zekrom have me worried.

To the one YouTube commenter who said that "they must have done this for Palkia and Dialga," I looked around. It does not look like they did. This means that Pokemon Black and White are getting some very special treatment; those balloons have to cost somewhere in the 6 digit range, if not more. Getting put in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is a lot of publicity; that's some major money that went into advertising the two new games.

Having been a diehard Pokemon supporter (for a while, it was the only game on my GBC/GBASP/DS) since Gen I, I know how Nintendo moves. They have always teased us with a few of the new Pokemon before releasing the games. They have never made as massive a move as this before.

Nintendo has been acting waaayyyy too bitchy about Pokemon Black/White. First they isolated Isshu completely from the other regions; then they made the declaration that only Isshu Pokemon could be used in the next World Championship. They have wounded Serebii.net and PokeBeach for making money off of their images; while slightly true, why have they never complained before? Given how anal they are being about these two games, one really has to wonder:

Are they worth it?

Monday, November 1, 2010

So...Let me get this straight...



Jack Atlas is fighting a bad Monferno knockoff. He and Yusei summon the miraculous power of evil-looking Quetzalcoatl (really, subbers? You couldn't catch that reference in a series about Aztec art?) to create an "impossible" monster not only of immense power, but using the power of his enemy. Said monster consists of horrible CGI on par with that of the Battle Spirits anime, only doing something remotely cool when summoned or attacking. Then, deus ex machina dragon gets them both out of the crumbling building...or something.

Now I remember why I stopped watching Yu-Gi-Oh!. No, that Scar-Red Nova Dragon really doesn't look any cooler animated, but at least I got a better view of its four wings. (What? I like wings.)

(I was going to do something on why dragon advertising nauseates me, but this works, too.)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Yu-Gi-Oh! Monster Figure Collection.

A while back, I did a brief post about the Yu-Gi-Oh! Monster Figure Collection series. They are, in short, little figures of Duel Monsters with Duel Terminal-compatible trading cards in little boxes. The figures apparently also have something on their bases that allows them to be scanned by a Duel Terminal. It's an ingenious idea that Konami really should have tried a long time ago.

As of late, these MFC's have been bugging me. That is putting it nicely.

First off, can anybody point to a good site for updates on this series? The last few have come almost completely out of the blue. The only reason I know about the most recent two sets is random eBay searches. Even the Yu-Gi-Oh! Wikia only talks about the first series, which featured the 5 Dragons from 5D's.

My second gripe - and I know you all are going to get very sick of hearing this - is that all of the monsters in the first three sets have had "dragon" in their names. You could argue about XYZ- Dragon Cannon and Cyber End Dragon being not dragons, but it is obvious that Konami is just milking their dragons for all that they are worth. Seriously, the series is called "Yu-Gi-Oh! Monster Figure Collection," not "Yu-Gi-Oh! Dragon Figure Collection."

They could do so much more with this. Yu-Gi-Oh! is loaded with cool monsters besides dragons. I am sure that they could get away with adding Dark Magician, Dark Magician Girl (a million nerds just fapped at the thought), Magician of Black Chaos, Black Luster Soldier -Envoy of the Beginning (come on, you KNOW they will do CED), Elemental Hero Neos in at least one of his forms and Elemental Hero Flame Wingman; they may as well finish what they started with Horus by adding in Phoenix of Nephthys and The Creator; the Earthbound Immortals would be awesome to assemble, even if they were evil; hell, why not have Levia-Dragon and Behemoth the King of Animals in one set? Brain Crusher, an awesome-looking mantis-dragon that apparently eats brains, would be cool to see again period. The possibilities are endless and awesome. Konami is letting them slip by.

Today, I showed a friend of mine the Horus figure. He wanted to buy that item regardless of the card being in Japanese. Much like decks containing Mirror Force and Crush Card Virus, these figure boxes are hot items that Konami could easily make money off of around the world. Instead, not only are they limiting themselves to dragons, but they have chosen to keep their product in Japan.

Oh, wait. I can totally predict their reason for NOT bringing these awesome little things over here: 

"Butbutbutbut DUEL TERMINALS AREN'T WIDESPREAD ENOUGH YET!"

Whose fault is THAT? Bandai has had card terminals for years in Japan. To make up for the relative suck of GX (were they writing as they went along?), they could have introduced Duel Terminals earlier as opposed to when they were suffering. Stick one in every Target to give the kiddies something to do while their parents are buying stuff. Virtual card games are not a hard sell.

Great idea + poor execution = More Konami fail. Why am I not surprised? Randomness is amazing marketing, and these are neat no matter which one you get. There is no way to lose, yet Konami is hesitating.

(On a tangentially-related note, I AM secretly eager to get my mitts on some of the Ragnarok-themed cards coming out. I am all for the battle of mythologies that I have been looking forward to since DAY ONE of YGO.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Raikou Tin + God Card Set Released!



Raikou likes me. It really likes me! Seriously, that Lugia piece and the promos just paid for the whole tin. Breaking even, if not profiting, is a real joy!

On another note, Konami released both the God Card + Blue-Eyes, Red-Eyes, and Dark Magician set and the Marik Structure Deck recently. If you're a fan of the old Yu-Gi-Oh! series, check those out. The Marik Deck has a much-awaited common Mirror Force (seriously, it's about damn time) and the God Card Master Collection has...three of the most popular monsters from the old series and God Cards.

I would actually recommend getting the God Cards now, even if you just want them as collector's pieces. That's what they are: Collectibles. Nothing else. They are three of the most solid investments in YGO. If it ever goes under, those cards will still be valuable. Right now, they are about ten times cheaper than I have seen them in the past. Even with this sudden reprint, they will mean a lot to fans of the original series.

Hopefully, the case will be the same for the reprints of Blue-Eyes, Red-Eyes and Dark Magician. There are still fans of those monsters, too.

The only thing really bad about these reprints is that Konami made no rarity changes. At all. The God Cards and the other three monsters have all been printed as Ultra Rares already. It would not have hurt to at least give them snazzy text to set them apart...but eh, the DB Blue-Eyes is still holding fairly steady. I'm not too worried; it was still an excellent move in their part.

Coming up: Pokemon Black and White: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Nintendo's increasing furry tendencies in Pokemon and the things that YGO fanfic writers do HORRIBLY wrong.

Also, holy crap did I fail that test at number conversions. At least the rest of the course looks like it's in fairly plain English. Gonna be nabbing a LOT of spare points next week!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Copyright Issues.



If you keep up with any sort of Pokemon news site, you are probably well-aware that Nintendo has officially requested that several sites (most notably Serebii.net and Pokebeach) stop posting official images from their games. They claim that this is copyright infringement.

While this is technically true, it took them, what...over a decade to start bitching about it? The hell?

This is not the first time that copyright holders and fans have butted heads. Every three seconds, an AMV is taken down from YT because companies cannot stand having their works promoted, FOR FREE, by people who might have actually PAID for said stuff. (That stat is an approximation, but you get the idea.)

More recently, OneManga and several other manga scanlation sites were sued by license holders. OK. I can understand that. That's still not cool.


(Plus, Viz lost one of my favorite properties. The English version of the above manga goes for, I kid you not, over 1,000 USD. Not having scanlations is like salt on a wound.)

What really surprised me, in this case, was that it was Nintendo doing it. Nintendo has always struck me as a very stable company that, at the very least, acted like they did not need our business. That's usually a good move; "if you want idiots (i.e. the lowest common denominator) to listen, wave money around."

Pokemon has a huge fanbase, an anime and a bunch of gullible little kids who will buy anything that Nintendo throws at them. Although the adult fanbase of Pokemon is substantial, my guess is that it is LARGELY sustained by little kids (although not as heavily as YGO is). Those are ALWAYS a fine source of money. ALWAYS. Pokemon is pretty safe as a franchise and is probably the LAST one they should worry about.


Look into Pikachu's eyes and tell me that Nintendo is in debt.

This sudden 'BAWWW' strikes me as a desperate and likely unnecessary move - are you really that deep into the financial pits, Nintendo? You have not complained until now. You have a sound franchise whose fanbase can only get bigger if the information about it is spread online. Essentially, you will lose money if you keep this up. Stop now.

At least they haven't nailed Bulbapedia, yet. Then I would have to get a weapon that actually worked.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

9-26: Suicune Tin!



This officially makes up for making Suicune look like crap on the Legend cards, Nintendo. Seriously, I love you for temporarily whoring out something that is not a dragon or Lucario. Alas, I am also aware that this is short-lived; come Black/White, I am SURE that you will be pimping Reshiram, Zekrom and Zoroark in tins after the usual starter run. Ya rly. (I will, however, be getting my mitts on a Tsutarja/Jarorda tin ASAP.)

Got a LOT of pent-up dragonhumper angst to write about, but before I do that, I will add that the YGO tins are not as visually impressive this year. They come with some nice reprints, but I think Konami's losing their touch. Tins are really their forte; I smell a decline.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cyber Dragon?



Or, well...Proto-Cyber Dragon. Still pretty cool. Found this from a Reptile News Twitter- a shame that it's more closely related to children's card games. XD

Friday, August 27, 2010

Nintendo's Slippery Slope.

The most recent episode of Pokemon in Japan featured the mandatory kicking of Ash's ass in the Sinnoh Pokemon League. The trainer that beat him used a Latios and Darkrai that completely demolished the previous team.

Does anyone else see anything wrong with that?

If you said 'no,' you are too content with anything that Nintendo pulls out of its ass, a Legendary-obsessed ten-year-old, or both. Legendary humping is just as bad as dragon humping, and the two unfortunately tend to walk hand-in-hand (with even more Poke-furries closely in tow).

Legendary Pokemon usually embody things that would be too abstract to catch in any world except Pokemon. That includes every natural element, time and space, yin and yang, anti-matter, phases of the moon, human emotions, passages of time (although what PART of Lati@s is 'eon'-related confuses me), the land, sea, and sky, the beginning of life, Frankenstein's monster if it had been made from Pokemon and GOD ITSELF.


There are, I kid you not, debates concerning Mew and Arceus's divinity. They tend to parallel evolution VS creationism arguments.

Although Legendary Pokemon are catchable in-game, prior to this episode, they have been free. The only times that Legendaries have willingly battled for people are a Zapdos from way back when and Noland's Articuno from Gen III. In the anime, they can be manipulated and reasoned with, but never stuffed into a little ball. Teams Magma, Aqua and Galactic all failed to harness their powers and they were 'professionals,' or at least adults.


Then the newbie trainer has to handle them. Nice going, megalomaniacs!

Nintendo made sure that the Legendaries lived up to their hype. They were extremely powerful, very hard to catch and, essentially, 'boss monsters.' Starting from Gen III, however, Legendaries began getting churned out like processed cheese food. Bar the cover Legendaries and the obligatory trio, there were what? Two 'secret' Legendaries and two 'dragons?' Madness.


I don't care what you say, Nintendo. Even Latias's cuteness cannot convince me that she and her brother are dragons.

Mind, they are still good, strong Pokemon. Thing is, what happens when everybody has a super-powered Legendary? Nintendo has been making Legends and Legends ad nauseam. They are powerful, but not exactly special anymore. Some of them are not even that strong.


Like Regigigas. Even its ability says that it's a slow starter.

Using a Legendary in a huge tournament like the Pokemon League is roughly equivalent to a football team trading a player for the Terminator just in time for the Super Bowl. One Legendary Pokemon is, according to the anime, so completely capable of curbstomping opponents that such a comparison is accurate.


Quick, cut to a commercial!

One-sided fights are not fun. You can add robots and dragons until you're blue in the face, but dragons do not a fun fight make. As the anime demonstrated, Legendaries are extremely powerful; if you are going to use them, use them sparingly. I am not even getting into game tiers; COMMON ENTERTAINMENT SENSE should tell you that curbstomps suck. Legendaries should not be used in the anime for that reason alone.

Granted, Legendaries can be cool. I love the Beasts and Birds. Reshiram, the cover for the new Black version, is also sweet (in part because Kuro is VERY, VERY WEAK to anything with pteral claws). Hell, I even find Latias and Shaymin adorable. That does not mean that they should be forced to squish lower Pokemon into pancakes in one-sided fights. This is a terrible precedent to follow.

Note to the anime monkeys: Do not put Legendaries under a trainer's belt ever again. Also, please kill Ash.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Old News is Bad News...

...that needs to be stopped. Now.

While trying to prove Lucario's popularity (without resorting to furry porn), I came across a news article that made me die a little inside. Then I sucked it up and realized that, hey, this was what my blog was all about.

British children can more accurately identify 150 species of Pokemon than their own native wildlife. Granted, Britain does not have the most stunning wildlife in the world (the last British thing I did was the coot, remember?), but that's still a pretty depressing figure.

"An experiment involving 109 primary school children aged between four and 11 found that by the age of eight most were able to name 78 per cent of the 150 Pokémon characters such as Pidgeotto, Pikachu and Jigglypuff. The same age group could manage correctly to identify only about half of the pictures of animals and plants, such as "beetle", "deer" or "oak tree", displayed on cards shown to them by the scientists."



Holy carp. HOLY CARP. I mean, I grew up on Pokemon, too, but I knew what a deer was. I knew what a beetle was. I knew what an oak tree was. Maybe I was just extra-inquisitive, but this is sad.

Normally, I would praise Pokemon for encouraging conservation in its own bizarre way. After all, most Pokemon are based off of something real, even if that something is not organic. (For example, Bronzong is based off of an actual style of Japanese bell. I got a real kick out of it after my trip to the Ueno Museum.) You'd think that this would encourage awareness...

...of Japanese wildlife. Recently, they have given some other regions of the world a shot, but from what I have heard, Japanese children are more educated on the creatures of the world than those of Western nations anyways. It's the system's fault, and it's not; especially with the internet being as helpful as it is, it does not take a genius to Google, say, "Raticate" and learn that it is based off of a very specific water rat. Most people are getting only part of the fun of Pokemon.


I choose you!

This makes me sad for ALL the same reasons that Avatar suicides did: You are completely missing the point if you take the real world for granted.

I like fantasy stuff, but I love the real world just as much. Animals do come in blue and purple. There are some immortal creatures, and some with two heads. There are some creatures that you can cut, and like those brooms in Fantasia, they will reproduce into identical individuals. I have found myself looking at real faeries in the woods on several occasions.

There is no saying that one cannot have an adventure in the woods, a park, or one's own backyard. Eragon is a good example; its setting is not based on the terrain of New Zealand or anywhere else exotic. It is based on the author's own experiences in his home state of Montana.


Unrelated to Hannah.

Montana. REAL special, right?

Pokemon has the same feel going. I used to catch bugs for kicks. Pokemon is based off of bug-catching. It is based off of a REAL thing that people do with REAL animals.

Know what else it does, though? To catch the 'mythical' Pokemon (which are hardly mythical, nowadays), you have to work your way up. Catch what's around you. Maybe, if you're lucky, you will see Raikou in the grasses BUT you have to raise rodents, owls, pigeons, and bugs before you can handle it. Y'know, just like how you'd have to handle cats before you could handle tigers. Let's not even get into dragons and creatures that embody time and space; those would be a BITCH to handle. Does that resonate with anybody nowadays?

I fear for the world's future. There's nothing inherently wrong with Pikachu and his pals, but there is an increasing trend toward responding to a fake world better than the real one. At this rate, we are not going to have a world left.

Enjoy it while you can.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Marik Structure Deck.



So I found out a few days ago that Konami will be releasing a Marik Ishtar Structure Deck in October. You know, from the original series. The deck contains a lot of the newer Gravekeeper cards, along with some cards Marik used during the TV series, Temple of the Kings (a banned card) with Serket, and, as a finishing touch, a common Mirror Force.

...

WHY are they only doing this NOW?

Mirror Force has been common in Japan since the first Yugi Structure Deck, which was released when the first series was still going. Everywhere else, it has been one of the most coveted cards in the game since its initial release in Metal Raiders. It was shiny, powerful, and was one of Yugi's favorite traps in the show. Mirror Force was a good trap that was - and possibly still is - used in every deck.


This is another good trap, but too risque for a children's card game.

Semi-recently, they also released a Kaiba Duelist Pack, Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon card sleeves, and a Yugi Duelist Pack with unreleased Japanese alternate arts. They have also released a ton of support for older themes, such as Gravekeepers and Amazonesses. These would have been great ideas from Day 1, when Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon was so coveted that people were paying money for just one rumored release. Now, BEUD's everywhere, and card releases are more or less synchronized with the show.

They did not do it then, so what is compelling them to do it now?

In a word: Nostalgia.

You probably know at least one person who bitches about art today. These people are like the old farts who say "Back in my day..." and get completely lost in the past, even if it was not necessarily better.


Huh? Marik? Is my hearing aid on?

Does it still sell? Oh yes. The kids who grew up watching the original Yu-Gi-Oh! - which wasn't that great, given the anime's numerous retcons and deviations from the original manga - will probably be all too willing to get into the game again as long as it features the characters they love. Furthermore, now that they actually know how to play the game and care about their cards, they will buy matching accessories from collectible dog tags to sleeves to binders, and common, effective cards like Mirror Force actually matter. Konami thinks that their primary target audience is starting to care now.

This is, of course, incorrect. YGO was one of those 'gateway' games. Due to its darker, more mature aesthetic, more adults and teens got into YGO than Pokemon or Digimon. Four companies handled YGO, meaning that many, many cards did not find their way over to the States (or the rest of the world; see the BEUD example for the effects). Since the rarest cards were often the most powerful, adult players weighed packs for foils, ripped off little kids, and did anything they could to get their mitts on cards like Mirror Force. YGO was handled extremely poorly, so many of us learned how to not manage a card game the hard way.

If you surfed the YGO-based message boards long enough, you would have learned that four companies were involved in its transfer over to the States: Konami, UDE, 4Kids, and Shueisha. Konami managed the YGO franchise; UDE printed the cards (and may have dabbled a bit more); 4Kids dubbed the anime, YGO's main source of funding; Shueisha published the manga in Japan, and later got a deal with Viz Media over here. Most people did not give a rat's ass; ignorance was bliss, and if you thought the dragons and magicians were cool, you were pretty much in the clear. (Then people started asking about BEUD repeatedly and found out.)

Yu-Gi-Oh! sells style. That is their main niche; they deal with the more mature, manga-loving demographic that dislikes the 'CoroCoro' look of Pokemon but still loves anime-style art. YGO is based off of a shounen manga series, which is above CoroCoro's designated age group. Half of the people buying YGO do not even care if the game is good; they just like the awesome dragons and/or bishounen from the TV series. The game is largely propelled by character value.


Oh, and LittleKuriboh, but MOSTLY character value.

The characters should have gotten awesome tie-ins while the original series was still running, but a number of company errors prevented the U.S. from getting the same good Structure Decks as Japan. I have had people tell me "OMG KONAMI IS GOOD NOW!" ever since the start of 5D's. Maybe, but it took them ten years...and that is WAY too long.

Support the new series if you must. Giving Konami your cash for a series that ended at least 5 years ago is like sailing a ship too late to save a drowning witch. That's why they're also releasing God Cards again.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mamoswine.

Nintendo has been slacking off with many of their Pokemon designs since at least Generation III. Many of the new Pokemon have been made to change the more serious metagame - that is, to balance out types, show off new abilities, and pimp new mechanics.

The problem with this? In a word, Mamoswine:



The Swinub family had been blessed with awesome typing since its debut in Gen II. Ground-Type made it immune to Electric attacks and Sandstorm; Ice-Type made it immune to Hail and good against Dragons, which are getting more and more broken as the generations go on. (Seriously, Nintendo, that's a problem). The icy pigs got even more love with the Physical/Special split, an Ice-Type priority move in Gen IV, and an evolution with amazing stats.

Did it really have to look like a huge pile of suck?

There is nothing wrong with making a mammoth Pokemon evolve from a pig. In fact, that's really creative, given the similarity between an elephant's trunk tip and the front of a pig's snout. Mammoths are one of the better-known mammals of the Ice Age, so it even makes sense to have Mamoswine be an Ice Type that requires Ancientpower to evolve.

Mammoths are one of the most well-known prehistoric mammals ever. Unlike, say, a Cynognathus, everybody knows what they looked like. Mamoswine is not a mammoth.

Where's the trunk? Where's the majesty? Mamoswine could have had an awesome design; instead, it looks like...nothing. If only they had made a shaggy elephant just like they made a shaggy pig way back in the G/S/C days.

Oppose Nintendo's half-assed designs. I miss when they actually CARED how Pokemon looked.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

NCS: FINALLY found that Doctor Who Pack!



I found that Doctor Who card pack during a quick excavation of my room yesterday. No, I do not consider cleaning my room 'cleaning;' 'excavation' is a far more accurate term regarding the amount of work entailed and the end results. In this case, the end result was a super-shiny Donna Noble card (which I THINK is a 'super-foil emboss' card found in 1/4 packs). No, I will not share her; she is one of my favorite characters from the series AND is a shiny card. ;)

Word to the wise: Be wary of trading card companies making trading card games. Yes, it's cool that one can get cards printed that way, but I have seen some TC companies (namely UDE) doing some very scary things with their TCG properties, such as creating their own fakes and deliberately misprinting cards to increase their value.

See ya!

Monday, June 7, 2010

6/7/10 NCS + Konami did something right.



Decent pulls this time, too...and awesome sleeves are awesome! Seriously, Konami, PROPS on finally making these! They have been in Japan since "Tactical Evolution," so it's good to see them finally bringing the tradition over. There are also Majestic/Savior Star Dragon sleeves out somewhere for you 5D's fans. Cool.

Before you ask...Ai-sama ordered me to buy those sleeves. Yep.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I Surrender.

No, I'm not quitting this blog in favor of my creature one. I still have plenty of card game love left in me, as my eBay watch list will attest. Speaking of, I need to ask WTF happened with my Digimon card game decks...

But I digress. I have bitched long enough about how Pokemon has been mooching Digimon's designs since Gen III (as well as, perhaps, YGO's since Gen II), about how Bakugan mooches from everybody, and so on. Corporations mooch off of each other all the time, no matter how shamelessly.

I surrender. I'm going to stop complaining about that. Digimon, though cool, is all but dead. What made it better than Pokemon originally has been all but lost; the new Digimon seem almost like Transformers or Megazords. Pokemon has won by appealing to the lowest common denominator. Deal with it. (Plus, Bandai fails hard at marketing.)

Similarly, I actually like how Bakugan mooches, sometimes. For example, Skyress looks an awful lot like Magic Knight Rayearth's Windam. The two are similar down to the color. No other monster series had ever tried to base something off of a monster from a shoujo manga (and a rather famous one at that!) that had been made YEARS before. This could grant CLAMP some extra revenue should people dig deep enough. That's not a bad thing.

There will, however, still be times when I bitch at copying...especially when it's done poorly. YGO, although based off of Magic:the Gathering itself, is EXTREMELY prone to being copied. Duel Masters is the most notorious copy of BOTH games, no matter how unique people claim that it is. That I will pick up on like no tomorrow.

No more bitching about the designs. Franchises evolve. They are just using what works.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

NCS 5/18/10- SHINY!



Woot! I swear I'll have a mini-vid about Primes and Legends later, but for now, shiny! :D

Monday, May 17, 2010

Shiny: Ur Doin it Rite, Pokeymanz.

Although many hail Magic: the Gathering as the paragon of card games, it is not particularly shiny. It has exactly one (1) style of foil used for a lot of rarities. Like Pokemon, it has a full parallel set in shiny foil. Foil does not determine rarity or playability; generally, this is a wise mindset to have when it comes it card games.

Pokemon, however, takes the cake when it comes to doing shiny things right. Not only does it have a variety of creative uses for foil, when it does create premiums, they are usually pretty balanced.

To clarify, a "premium" in this case is a rarity beyond common, uncommon, rare, and foil. Currently, Pokemon has 5 different rarities: common, uncommon, rare, foil, Prime, and Legend. The two premiums have been bolded for convenience. The "reverse holo" rarity encompasses, and parallels, all rarities except premiums.

Now, some people would say that, holy crap, THOSE rarities are too much. Clearly they have not played Yu-Gi-Oh!, which has several rarities that can only be pulled after spending HUNDREDS of dollars on packs. Even scaling does not keep people from pulling crap. Pokemon is tame by comparison.

For starters, the foil ratios are not insane. Although the odds are not listed on the pack, I have personally found them to be 1 foil per about every 3 packs. These usually average about a dollar or two on eBay- slightly more for better holos. If it's not that good, there is probably someone, somewhere, who will want it in their binder. It is very easy to trade up after just a few packs.

Making this job easier are the parallel holos (also called 'reverse holos,' 'parallel rares,' and various other names) inserted into every pack. This can be a common, uncommon, rare, or even foil. It's this one-per-pack rarity that gives us Primes in HG/SS sets, Arceus in the Arceus set, and holofoil Unowns in EX: Unseen Forces.

Thanks to this system, there are many ways to pull two rares per pack. A regular PH adds a dollar or so. A rare/foil, usually a little bit more or less. Sometimes, the regular rares are worth more than their shiny counterparts; this is something you have to look up on eBay, i.e. do not guess at tournament events. Different people will trade for shiny versions of cards that are already in their decks, leaving ample opportunities for collectors and players to trade alike. (Note that this is NOT how things work in YGO; often, the shinier Konami makes something, the better it is in the game. This creates a gap, not synthesis, between collectors and players. It pits them against each other!)

The best part is that PokePremiums are good and useful in-game, but not broken. For those of you unfamiliar with CCG lingo, "broken" refers to something so good in play that the game is not balanced, and, by extension, not fun.

For example, the recent "Ho-Oh Legend" card is awesome in every regard. The art is stunning, the card is actually good (remember base set Charizard and how it kinda sucked? Nintendo fixed that), and you do not need to spend your life savings to get it.

There is a very good, cool reason why you do not need to break the bank to acquire this shiny birdie: Ho-Oh (and every Legend card) is split into two parts. Both parts need to be played at once in game, which balances the card nicely. It also means that players do not need 4 of each piece of Ho-Oh; since each card is named "Ho-Oh Legend," and a deck can only contain any 4 cards of the same name, realistically only 2 of each piece is needed. If a player using said Ho-Oh managed to get a 3rd top part, that person could trade it off for something more useful. There's enough Ho-Oh to go around, even with its rarity.

That is how a rare card SHOULD be: Shiny and pretty enough to retain its value, but also semi-useful in the game.

So, what happens when certain premiums - in this case, Primes - get reprinted? Nintendo did something smart: The tin promos have alternative artwork. This allows the pack-printed Primes to retain their value while, once again, evening the playing field. Good work!

I swear, there'll be a video for showing the Premium Rares (and how they work) whenever I get a complete set of Legends. *Still stuck with just pieces.*

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I Wish I Knew How to Quit Yu.

Yes, this is another reminder as to why Konami is not getting any more of my money. YGO is notorious for being expensive and poorly-managed, yet somehow keeps a steady player base going. This is what a good dealer of crack, cardboard or otherwise, does to make money - have repeat customers and make it really, really hard to quit.

There are a number of reasons that people quit. YGO is a really freakin' expensive game that only cares about the players when the company is suffering. The amount of rarities is staggering, and there are few if any good commons to make trading up easier. Nearly all of the good cards are Super or higher these days (and back in the old days...but more on that in another entry).

Another reason is the tournament scene. YGO has always been a 'broken' game; at most, there have been 3-4 decent, game-winning decks. At worst, there has been one "Cookie Cutter" deck that never failed to cut through every other theme. If a theme cannot win, then it just isn't fun. Many themes do not stand a snowball's chance in Hell.

This is, of course, because Konami barely tries to make themes playable. It doesn't matter if they play well or not. What matters, primarily, is that they go with the anime. That way, at least the kiddies will buy packs.

By and large, the little kids keep the game ticking. There are shows designed to show how awesome YGO is. Regardless of whether the kids play the game or not, they want the cards. Parents, being parents, will buy them. As long as Konami is making money, the vicious cycle will continue.

The anime is like a defibrillator for the game. If it, the kids, or the players need a jolt to keep the franchise alive, the anime will almost certainly provide. This applies to old and new players alike; nostalgia goggles, anyone? Remember Mai's Amazoness cards? Yeah, Konami made more of those...ten years later. Nice timing.

I guess flipping Konami the bird was one of the better ways to make the announcement final. Maybe they'll get the idea that they're screwing themselves over.

5-13 NCS: I FINALLY Flipped Konami the Bird.



Behold! I not only pulled something shiny, but flipped Konami the bird afterward! *Insert Final Fantasy victory music here.* Yeah, I was tempted to get that 5.99 Crossroads of Chaos 3-pack, but I'd probably get a junk foil anyways. You know, even though it had a really good vibe...

...It was 5.99 for a reason.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

NCS 4/15 + I Have A Dream...



Yeah, it took me a while to post this. Sorry about that; I've been under a lot of stress lately. One of my favorite teachers has left my college (NUUUUU MILLER-SENSEI! At least she's getting paid more), and finals are next week. Don't worry, though; I have a few article ideas in mind, and just realized that I have a dream alongside writing books:

I want to rip The Zone a new one by opening my own shop specializing in Eastern merchandise. Electronics, trading cards, anime, manga, the works. I'm sure that somebody has thought of it, but I have found an amazing site that sells AWESOME gizmos (light-up, waterproof keyboards, BLING jump drives, etc.) in bulk, customized, and so forth. It's all based in China, and could VERY well be a sweet business endeavor...

...unless there's some horrible catch.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Care to Play a Little Othello?

No, I don't mean the Shakespeare play. I mean the board game in which pieces change from black to white and back. This happens in card games far too often.

Nearly every monster-based card game has some set in which a few cards from previous sets 'go dark.' For Pokemon, the first set of this sort was the Team Rocket expansion (which came after Fossil); for Yu-Gi-Oh!, Phantom Darkness (although one could argue about Pandora/Arkana's variant Dark Magician). Digimon had a slew of type and color variations from the get-go - MetalGreymon was originally a Virus type.

So, why do companies do this?

There are a number of reasons. The most prominent one is that everyone, at some point and on some level, wants to see heroes go dark. That was why Toei/Bandai changed MetalGreymon's typing to begin with; in the anime, Virus-Type had been almost equated with evil. MetalGreymon's lost identity as a Virus-Type later made a cameo in Season 2. When there are stark 'good' and 'evil' sides, as there are in many of the series that Japanese card games are based off of, there's always a question of what would happen if the protagonist turned to the dark side a la Star Wars.

Unfortunately, this can be cumbersome in card games. For example, in the Team Rocket set mentioned above, one could only evolve Dark Charmeleon into Dark Charizard, Dark Wartortle into Dark Blastoise, and so on. A similar thing happened with Gym Leader and Team Aqua/Magma Pokemon.

Oh, how Gen III abused its ability to make things with more than one type.

Many Team A/M Pokemon were, you guessed it, cross-typed. They were often Dark/Whatever they usually were. If nothing else, they no longer had 'dark' in their names, and had more evolutionary options. I realize that Dark-Type wasn't around when the TR set was released; Nintendo updated that idea in "Team Rocket Returns" using actual Dark-typing, as well as slipping 'Dark' in the name. There was also an outlying Dark Celebi in EX: Hidden Legends.

OK, whatever. Using Dark like that is understandable, right?

Enter Delta Species. The idea behind it was that some scientists in the Holon region (which is not accessible in-game) were trying to locate Mew via electromagnetic waves. This caused mutations in the Pokemon of the surrounding area - namely, type changes.

Game-wise, this was done to make sure that relatively underpopulated types - Fire, Electric, and Steel - got more coverage. Delta Pokemon retained all other attributes of their former types - that is, a fire-type Pikachu (that did not exist, but as a hypothetical example) would still be weak to Fighting as opposed to being weak to Water. It would make a mono-Fire deck a bit harder to counter. Smart idea.

While the Pokemon Company meant well, they really could have done more with the whole 'Delta Species' concept. For example, there was a Grass-Type Dragonair; wouldn't it have been sweet to see a green Dragonair using Razor Leaf? Wait a sec- Dragonair don't come in green.

That's the thing that made Delta Species suck: They diversified the attacks well enough, but did not do so with the art. Black, Dark-type Shiny Charizard was a good move; they also made a Fire-Type Gyarados to coincide with its alternate red coloration. They were already breaking the rules with Delta Species. Why did they not go one step farther and change colors as well? It would have been interesting, challenging, and engaging to see, say, a Milotic using a Fire attack.

While this may seem like an unwise move on Pokemon's part, Yu-Gi-Oh! is the master of atrocities when it comes to giving creatures alternate forms. Othello is no exception to this rule.

Dark is one of the strongest types in the game. It has been since the days of the very first set, "Legend of Blue-Eyes White Dragon." Despite the set's name, back in those days, everyone was running Fiend/Spellcaster decks (called F/S Beatdown) with Blue-Eyes splashed in if present at all. It only got stronger when Chaos came around (removing 1 Light and 1 Dark Monster for a 3000/2500 BEAST -> Mokey Mokey + Skull Servant = GG). If anything, all other types were unbalanced in comparison.

Then "Phantom Darkness" came out. Then, everything else REALLY became weaker than Dark-Types.

In Phantom Darkness, the super-strong "Dark Boss" monsters were released, along with powerful support cards like "Allure of Darkness." These cards were not just good- they were AMAZING examples of type support done right. For example, Dark Armed Dragon required exactly 3 Dark Monsters in the Graveyard to be Special Summoned. Once on the field, it could wreak havoc with its amazing 2800 ATK and monster-destroying power. It stuck to its grits as a 'retrained' Dark Armed Dragon Lv7, bearing similar stats and abilities. The other Dark Bosses generally followed suit (with the exception of Dark Simurgh, who outshines its non-Dark counterpart in every way EXCEPT stats).

If Dark-Types had really needed the help, this would have been welcomed. Atlantis ("A Legendary Ocean"...up yours, 4Kids) and Daedalus were much-needed Water-Type support. Dark already had a plethora of things making it good. It did not need the help that nearly every other element did.

So, why did Konami do that? For the same reason they do everything: "Because it's cool." Never use Invader Zim logic in the real world. You'll make money, but it will not have a pretty effect on the metagame.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Told You So.

I hate to be a bitch about my own opinions, but some movie critics just confirmed my thought about dragons losing their edge:



Also, for the record, Clash of the Titans did indeed suck balls. I think I lost brain cells watching it. X.x

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Eh, may as well link this.

I need to get into the habit of updating this more often. Once I think of a good topic again (as opposed to one that dies almost as soon as my browser refuses to post it), I'll post it.



Soooo have a NCS post. Both a friend of mine and myself have pulled CRAP from the HG/SS tins thus far. Nintendo, please don't start squeezing your buyers like Konami does. That would make a lot of people sad. T_T

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Holy **ck, Bandai!

Bandai may not be as incompetent as I thought. They have just released a Digimon MMO:

"Digimon RPG is a free to play micro-transaction supported MMORPG in a setting based on that of the Digimon media franchise, specifically the Digimon Tamers anime. It is currently only available to play in South Korea, but fan-created English and Spanish translation patches exist. In addition Bandai and Digitalic are working on an official English version of the game that is planned for Global launch in March 2010 by WeMade Entertainment."

The game is based off of the Digimon Tamers series, and shows up in a lot of the same places that regular MMO ads do. Currently, the site is offering free beta testing. This looks great; I'd nab it if I didn't need to rid my comp of all PREVIOUS MMO stuff. Still, I do encourage you all to try it if you have the hard drive space. :D

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On Gen III + BRICK OF REVELATION'D!

Some people dropped Pokémon after G/S/C; a few stopped at game 1. When Gen III came out, however, a lot of criticism came with it. I have mentioned this criticism before, but a new way of looking at it crossed my mind.

Not only did Nintendo mooch off of Digimon in Gen III, they mooched off of themselves. Mind, they have a right to, but it still reeks of low creativity.

Case in point: Rayquaza and Gyarados. Remember when I said that Rayquaza's fish tail looked a little bit funny? Compare it to Gyarados's tail. Go on. I'll wait.




It's not just the tail, either. The pattern and some of the ridge positioning are also ripped off. I can understand Nintendo mooching off of Digimon (as I've said before, Bandai treats their own franchise like crap), but wow. This feels like some sort of creative low. I can imagine the board meeting now:

"Hey, let's make another Chinese dragon-ish Pokémon that replaces the giant bird from the original Behemoth VS Leviathan story!"

"You mean like another Gyarados?"

*Insert lightbulb of revelation here.*

See, according to a recent interview with Iwata, Pokemon Gold and Silver were supposed to be the finish line for Pokemon. This certainly explains why many of the Gen III and beyond designs don't seem up to snuff. I should link that interview here; the 'great rift' is not some illusion conjured up by veteran players.

*Goes back to wondering when they'll make a gryphon-ish Pokemon.*