Tired of Disingenuous Assertions

Mass Effect, after hundreds of hours of extensive playthroughs, is without a doubt one of my favourite games of all time. Although, it’s not without it’s flaws, and plot-holes, of which there are plenty, it’s one of the most gripping games I’ve ever played. And I’ve played a ton of games. A fully-realized sci-fi game akin to the likes of Knights of the Old Republic. Mass Effect somehow manages to hit the sweet spot of inventing a universe with a rich and complex lore and presenting it in a way that doesn’t require the player to memorize any of the game’s codex entries or sit through hours of exposition and info-dumps.

Continue reading “Tired of Disingenuous Assertions”

A Look Back: Yu-Gi-Oh!

Maybe someday I’ll sit down and properly address how I view Yu-Gi-Oh! now versus how I did back when I was much younger. Having said that, I doubt I’ll ever revisit the series again, not because it was terrible or particularly bad in anyway, but rather due to my ever-growing list of things to do list stacking higher and higher as time goes on. And I would prefer to try and cut down that list than use that time to double up my hours spent watching an old show. Regardless, here’s what I wrote earlier this year:

(From previous blog, unedited)

Playing card games save the world, apparently. Or at least, that’s what I learned growing up watching Yu-Gi-Oh! Though, I wouldn’t say many arcs centered on someone trying to take over the world. Pegasus was a flamboyant multi-millionaire who loved to paint and swirl wine while spectating Yugi and “Kaiba-boy” duel. One of the more tragic figures in Yu-Gi-Oh!, I can vividly remember Pegasus having his eye replaced by the Millennium Eye. Which, while not that graphic, was pretty unsettling to watch as a kid.

Watching little Yugi turn into the Pharaoh was strange at first, but what made it even more jarring were the other’s reactions, or should I say non-reactions? They’re not surprised, not in the slightest. Which would be fine, if it were to be believed they already knew Yugi could transform like that. But they don’t ever pay any attention to it at all. There’s no concern that this transformation from one person to another could be in any way considered a little dangerous or disturbing. And even if Yugi’s friends knew and were all cool with him being possessed by a 5,000-year-old ancient Egyptian spirit (or whatever), why are all of Yugi’s opponents who have never seen this happen before also unperturbed by it? It may sound like this bothers me a lot, but it really doesn’t. It’s just odd that this goes unnoticed throughout the entire series (correct me if I’m wrong).

Following up the Yugi and friends dynamic, there isn’t much to go on in terms of feats or personality really. Tea likes Yugi, but then she actually likes the Pharaoh, and then back to liking Yugi, and so on. She only had two moments in the entire series where she did anything noteworthy. One, when she dueled Mai Valentine and won. And the second, was when she dueled the Penguin guy during Noah’s arc. But, the first moment she gets to shine is cheapened since we see Mai was clearly about to win but decided to surrender for some reason (heart of the cards, am I right?). And the second… Yeah, I’m blanking on the second time. Something to do with penguins and the arctic. She won, I guess? It’s all a blur.

Next, we have Joey and Tristan who have this weird relationship where they’re both best of friends who used to bully and beat the crap out of Yugi, but then became friends with Yugi? Then there’s Joey’s sister, Serenity, who is blind and is the whole reason Joey duels in season one – in order to win the prize money for her operation. Tristan becomes smitten with her and Joey disapproves. Then later Duke Devlin starts flirting with Serenity and it becomes a love triangle, kind of. The episode where Tristan and Duke fight on Kaiba’s blimp, fall off and are clinging to the edge for a few episodes was really uncomfortable for someone scared of falling from heights to watch.

I could go on and talk about all the wacky side characters, like Bandit Keith, Rex and Weevil and that weird skull-zombie kid. But I’d rather talk about the only character in the show who matters. Seto “Friggin” Kaiba! Easily the coolest character in the entire show, and another one who has a (sort of) tragic backstory. What I liked most about Kaiba in the second season was probably his new jacket. Oh, and he develops into less of a prick, which is nice too.

“Believe in the heart of the cards!” didn’t take long to become the series mantra. Nor did it take the internet that long after to turn it into a memetic joke. I will say I enjoyed the show for what it was, but I doubt I’d get into it if I started at this stage in my life. Again, it’s another show that’s premise, dialogue and characters are all ridiculous to some degree. Which, let’s face it is a large part of why we watched it in the first place. I will say the show did strike a chord with me a couple of times, like when Joey jumps into the ocean to rescue Yugi’s cards and Yugi jumps in to save Joey. Kaiba’s brotherly affection and selflessness for Mokuba gave me a sense of belonging to some degree. Marik’s abusive past was probably one of the first exposures I had to that side of the world. And I think the constant display of Egyptian culture, history and mythology (regardless of accuracy) had an effect on my intrigue into other cultures.

Final words. To be honest, I had no idea how much of an effect Yu-Gi-Oh has had on me over the years. I still don’t think it was too significant in forming who I am today, but I wouldn’t put it past the show to say it taught me some things. Anyway, those are my scrambled thoughts on Yu-Gi-Oh! Hope it wasn’t too boring.
~ Ace

A Look Back: Beyblade

 

(From previous blog, unedited)

When it comes to remembering Beyblade, I feel like I’m scuba-diving into the recesses of my mind in search of something notable to talk about. Before I delve into what little I was able to piece together from the fragments of my hazy memory, allow me to clear the air on this first. I haven’t been exposed to anything beyblade for at least twelve years now, and just like with my post about Pokémon, the only refresher I gave myself was the opening to the show. With that out of the way, let’s get started.

This was another one of the shows I had watched as a kid before discovering it was an “anime”. As with most of the other shows from my childhood, anime in particular, I still maintain a great fondness for the openings, even Beyblade’s, which upon repeated viewing as an adult, does not hold up. Honestly, I can’t really pinpoint anything good about the opening for Beyblade, apart from the catchy dubbed lyrics barging into the metaphorical music room just to repeat the same two words again and again, like they’re trying to rally a punk protest or something.

If you asked me “What was the story of Beyblade?” I would probably stand there with my eyes widening in horror at the realization that I have no idea what happened or why it happened. Though that’s more of a fault on my memory than anything else. All I can recall was the bitter-sweet rivalry between the protagonist Tyson, and the better character Kai. Beyblade battles would ensue, and giant wind monsters would appear from the beyblades… because anime. Aside from that, there were tournaments. I assume more than one happened, because I dropped off the show during the first one, maybe around when Kai lost his duel.

I’m not going to lie. The whole giant wind monster thing appearing from beyblades was the main reason I got beyblades for Christmas. There were, of course, duels at school and I remember none of us knew how to properly play, and that my chord would get stuck in the damn beyblade all the time. But there was this one time we played in the courtyard and I launched my beyblade on top of someone else’s (like in the show) and it was one of the proudest moments of my childhood (which says a lot). Our goal was to try and get them to clash into each other as much as possible and see how long we could get a match going, but what usually ended up happening was someone would launch their beyblade and knock the other one down a slope or something and automatically win the game. It was a pretty cheap tactic to wait and aim the beyblade at the already launched beyblade so you would knock it over, but that’s what everyone did and no one really cried over it, so I guess it was cool.
Back to the show. I don’t really remember much about the characters, except that I thought Kai was cool and… yeah that pretty much sums it up. I’m sure if I re-watched the show I’d have more to say on the matter, but I doubt I’d be able to get past the first episode, or put up with the voice acting, dialogue, animation and premise at this stage in my life. Despite my current indifference to the show, I do recall enjoying the idea of it at the time. And I believe re-watching it will only taint what fondness I have left for the show, so I’d rather just let bygones be bygones and move on to other shows.

~ Ace

A Look Back: Pokémon

Might re-do this one in the future. Don’t think I did it enough justice here, but I was scrambling for memories of the show, despite having poured so much of my childhood into watching it. Hardly bothered with the games, to be honest (I know, I’m as surprised as you are, believe me). But alas, here is what I wrote about Pokémon earlier this year:

(From previous blog, unedited)

My memory is atrocious when it comes to… most things, really. Yet, I feel compelled to indulge in a little nostalgia detour and revisit the world of Pokémon. It was one of the first shows to get me into anime, at a time when I had never heard the term “anime” before. As a kid you aren’t really picky about the shows you watch, which is probably why when I look back at all the shows I watched, it’s very seldom followed up with a feeling of content.

For me, Pokémon wasn’t a show I fell in love with straight away. It was just something for me to watch in-between the shows I actually looked forward to (prominently Digimon and Yu-Gi-Oh!). I do remember what aspects I liked the most — that being the Pokémon, of course. None of the characters were really engaging for me, even as a kid. Except maybe Brock. Brock was cool.

What probably drew me into the show was the idea of Ash and friends journeying around and finding all different kinds of Pokémon. From the beginning, the show had a great sense of adventure and wonderment. As you can imagine, I was a sucker for the “Who’s that Pokémon?” intermissions. I had a fifty-fifty guess rate during my viewing of the series. Aside from that, the other appeal of the show were the cities and gym leaders. Or should I say gym battles, since I can’t remember any gym leaders apart from Brock and Misty? To me, the gym leaders were just so forgettable. I can’t remember a single one, apart from the ones traveling with Ash. I’ve heard that the later parts of the series have better gym leaders and battles, which without seeing much of them, I wholeheartedly agree. But this isn’t about the Pokémon series I didn’t watch, so I’m sticking to just to first five seasons. One last remark on the gym thing — I was enthralled by those gym badges. Every time I saw them my eyes gaped in awe and envy. I desperately wanted them. So much so, that my hatred for Gary didn’t stem from him picking on Ash, as much as it did from my envy against him having gym badges and constantly showing them off, while I was stuck at home without any. Jerk.

I should probably mention that, up until this point, I had never played a Pokémon game or even heard of one before. It wasn’t until “Diamond” and “Pearl” came out that I finally got to play one. I enjoyed it for what it was at the time, but I don’t think I like the idea of dedicating a lot of time to looking for every Pokémon (because I have to have them all, of course) and failing to capture them again and again. Especially, when I just want certain Pokémon that I can never find, or once I do find them they either run away or I accidentally KO them and scream profanities at the top of my lungs and throw the DS against the couch. So yeah, fun times.

Anyway, to me, Pokémon, while something I don’t regret watching (or playing), isn’t as important to me as it is to the rest of the world. Reminiscing about the show does bother me a bit, because I know if I watched those earlier seasons now I wouldn’t be able to tolerate them, much less enjoy them like I did as a kid, and although the later series do improve in a lot of ways, I just don’t see myself picking the show back up ever again. Relistening to the openings is the only enjoyment I get out of the show, really. But hey, if you’re still watching the series or love re-watching the old series, props to you. Keep watching what you like. And keep reading if this is something you like as well.

~ Ace