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.