AK of Everything Is Bad for You has recently hit a milestone, for he now has 500 followers. Congratulations! To celebrate, he did a Sunshine Blogger Tag, and, in turn, tagged me (among others). It’s been awhile since I last did one of these tags, and he asked some interesting questions this time, so let’s say we get right to it?
1) Are you buying or have you bought one of the new next-gen consoles, and if so, which? What factors played into your decision?
Last year, before the pandemic struck, my old computer finally died (though miraculously, I was able to recover all of my information off the hard drive). I wanted to post my review of Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom on Leap Day, but that event threw a wrench in my plans. It also forced me to finally get that gaming PC I always wanted, but was too lazy to actually splurge for until my old computer dying forced my hand. Because 90% of the games I’m interested in are available on Steam or GOG, I find I’m not really in that big of a hurry to get a PS5 or an Xbox Series X (still not over that name, by the way).
That said, when I do eventually get one of those consoles, you can safely bet it will be the PS5. With the exception of Marvel’s Spider-Man, the super-hyped PS4 exclusives were really nothing to write home about (although to be fair, when it comes to exclusives, you can’t really beat Nintendo), but they were generally more enticing than those of the Xbox One, and it appears that will continue to be the case in the foreseeable future.
2) Related to that, how much importance do you place on the specs of a new console?
I find I’m not really concerned with the sheer processing power of the consoles I buy. As long as they run the games they’re advertised to run, that’s good enough for me. Also, I find if the quality of your game lives and dies based on how pretty it looks, you’re doing it wrong (same applies to other mediums).
3) Are there any emerging technologies you’re especially excited to see develop? If so, what are they?
Quantum computing. The idea of using subatomic particles in these machines is quite the fascinating concept, and I’m really interested to see where they’ll go with it.
I’m also interested to see how much the electric car will evolve in the coming years.
4) Is there an upcoming game, film, anime, or other work you’re especially looking forward to?
Ah, here’s the weird thing. I tend to be only very vaguely aware of release dates for major games, films, or anime. I tend to take works as they come, and oftentimes well after the hype for them has died down. Not to mention the fact that my methods of finding out about these works is less than scientific – occasionally involving me stumbling into them by accident.
That said, I am looking forward to seeing what Toby Fox manages to do with Deltarune, and I’m kind of interested to see what becomes of that lil gator game that achieved memetic popularity lately. Really, I think it’s been firmly established after Undertale that the indie scene is doing way more interesting things than 90% of the people working in the American entertainment industry, so, in general, I’m always looking forward to that next great indie smash.
5) Is there a genre (of game, novel, film, whatever) you liked as a kid but now dislike? Alternatively, is there a genre you disliked as a kid that you now like or at least appreciate more?
My opinion on individual games may have changed over the years, but that’s not really the case with entire genres. I like role-playing games now just as much as I did when I was a kid, for instance.
I think the problem is that the genres I actively dislike the most (mumblecore for films; walking simulators for games) weren’t really a thing when I was a kid. Mumblecore gained traction in the 2000s, but it wouldn’t be until the 2010s that its influence/damage on the medium would begin to show, and while one could make the case that Dear Esther wasn’t the first of its kind, once again, it wasn’t until the 2010s that it became a trend. In any case, I dislike both genres because they tend to be products of creatively exhausted artists who, whether it was for want of them or having used them all up long ago, have no new ideas to bring to the table. Even the only halfway decent walking simulator I’ve played, Tacoma, succeed mostly by virtue of rebelling against the tired science-fiction tropes of its day, and not because it demonstrated the potential of its genre.
In the end, I feel it’s ultimately for the best that walking simulators fell out of favor once Undertale proved that you can absolutely make an impactful artistic statement without compromising the game mechanics. I hope that someday filmmakers are able to do the same with mumblecore because whatever the indie talent is doing now, it clearly isn’t working.
6) We’ve probably all read, watched, or played through at least one story with a disappointing ending. Do you feel a poorly written ending hurts its entire work or series, and if so how much? Can you still enjoy or appreciate the work even if you feel the ending was lousy? (I think I’ve already written about this a bit, and I have a feeling I can guess what a couple of you will say to it, but still a question I’d like to throw out there because I think it’s an interesting one.)
In a word, yes. In fact, a significant part of what got me into reviewing games in the first place was being completely disappointed in how the ending of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us was handled. It’s interesting because my reason for disliking the ending has evolved over the years. At first, I thought it rendered its protagonist unlikable. While I still find the character in question to be overrated (not to mention very generic-looking), I later found the ending was at odds with other pieces of information presented in the narrative. Now, I find the reason it fails is that and because it exudes a very anti-intellectual (and arguably anti-science) sentiment, and that’s just about the quickest way you can lose me. That story could only have been conceived by someone who hasn’t accepted that the 1990s are over along with its “being dumb is cool” zeitgeist (which might also explain its resurgence in 2010s science fiction and contemporary criticism). It’s the reason why, as controversial as the sequel ended up being, I actually find myself giving Neil Druckmann credit for moving away from that (albeit by retconning certain inconvenient plot details out of existence). Either way, you have Naughty Dog to thank/blame for me deciding to throw my hat in the ring, so be sure to thank them the next time you see them.
That game was also partially responsible for my stamping down on works with bad endings (along with System Shock 2 and Mother 3). As longtime readers know, I hand out severe penalties to works with lousy endings. You can now tell if that’s the case if you see the words “Adjusted Score” as opposed to “Final Score” at the end of a review. How it works is simple enough; a penalized game cannot get a score higher than a 5/10. For that matter, as some of you may have noticed, I have recently decided to add .5 scores to my assessments. This is meant to give readers an idea of how high on a given tier the work is (though for obvious reasons, 10.5/10 is not a real score, and I refuse to go below 1/10 because that just comes across as the kind of petty thing a Pitchfork writer would do). So, a new caveat in light of that is that penalized works cannot receive that extra .5. If a work makes such an egregious error, it doesn’t really deserve to headline its tier, now does it? As a result, games such as The Last of Us, Metroid: Other M, and Call of Duty: Ghosts have fallen several positions since I last revealed my rankings.
Speaking on a more general level, though, recommending any work with a bad ending is a nigh-insurmountable proposition. Payoff is a very important part of any work, and if you make your readers slog through a narrative only to reward their patience with nothing (or less than nothing), then you’ve only succeeded in wasting time they’ll never get back. There’s a reason that, as of this writing, Game of Thrones went from being the single most discussed show of all time to a forbidden topic on most message boards, after all. Indeed, I remember bringing it up a year after the fact to my coworkers, and it still managed to be a raw wound. Remember: the goodwill of your audience is not a limitless resource. No matter how much you think it is, no matter how successful you are, and no matter how many fans you have, you can lose it all if you don’t stick the landing.
7) Are there any good new blogs or sites you’ve found recently? I’m always looking for new reading material.
I’ve found a blog called The Flite Cast to be an interesting read. The guy who maintains it seems like a very levelheaded individual, having opinions on films, television, and the arts in general that often go against the grain in interesting ways (his take on why critics are a useless burden on films is especially interesting). I have to admit I don’t entirely agree with his “It’s all subjective” mantra because, contrary to popular belief, there is room for objectivity in media analysis. That said, I find I’m more sympathetic to that sentiment than those echoed by the average member of the Fandom Menace and those like them, who misuse the idea of objectivity to push bad-faith arguments.
And it’s not exactly a blog per se, but I’ve been listening to Jukebox Zeroes – a music podcast hosted by Lilz Martin and Patrick S. Barry wherein they discuss albums notable for their negative reception (or in other cases, bizarre stories behind their creation). Their reviews of Corey Feldman’s Angelic 2 the Core and Nostalgia Critic’s The Wall are definite highlights – especially because on the subject of “Worst album of the 2010s”, it tends to boil down to those two.
[My take: both are colossal failures, but I would have to give the nod to the Nostalgia Critic’s The Wall, because while Corey Feldman’s own effort is cringeworthy itself, it did have a degree of artistic sincerity to it; he wanted to make a good album and failed miserably. Angelic 2 the Core is what happens when you have a lot of money, a lot of reach, and zero honest friends, so in the end, it just makes me feel sorry for him. Doug Walker’s own effort, on the other hand, is far more contemptable, not only demonstrating a clear case of arrested development, but an utter aversion to the very idea of self-improvement (or self-awareness). It’s for that reason that I can deem his album the worst of the 2010s.]
8) Are you planning to return to the theater/cinema soon, or once you feel safe going (assuming you liked going in the first place?) Is there anything about the typical moviegoing experience you’d change?
I do miss seeing films in theaters, and I do have to say that after the debacle involving having to see all the “Best Picture” nominees across three different streaming services (at least), I’m looking forward to simply buying a ticket without all the fuss. I still stand by what I said in my last update post, however, in that films really need to reinvent themselves (and possibly rebuild their entire industry from the ground up) if they’re to remain relevant in the foreseeable future because their distribution methods are absolutely not sustainable. The success of Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite proved that audiences will make an auteur passion project a smash success if it’s distributed and marketed properly, so if they want any chance of having a future, they’ll need to find ways to make those kinds of success stories the rule rather than the exception (and, you know, maybe not have cynical boardroom goons dictate every single creative decision).
9) Finally, a vital question, and one that I think might have been asked before, but if it’s not, I’ll ask now: what’s your opinion of pineapple on pizza?
I do like pineapples, and I do like pizza, but I’ve never actually combined the two entities. Maybe it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Maybe it’s the worst idea imaginable. As it is now, this question is completely up in the air.
The following people are hereby tagged:
- Robert Ian Shepard
- Mr. Wapojif
- Princess Pinkie
- Chris Evans @ Geek Blogger Reviews
- Megan Peoples
- The Night Owl
- Lashaan Balasingam @ Bookidote
- Samuel B. Stanford
- Matt @ Nintendobound
- Gemma @ Book Beach Bunny
- Emily @ Monsterlady’s Diary
- Amanda Hurych
- Athena | AmbiGaming
- Gaming Omnivore
- The Gamer With Glasses
- pix1001 @ Shoot the Rookie
- Alex’s Review Corner
- Ola G
My questions are as follows:
- Between music, film/television, and game critics, which do you find the least consistently reliable?
- Between music, film/television, and game critics, which do you find the most consistently reliable?
- What was your single worst theatergoing experience?
- What was your single best theatergoing experience?
- Do you think a lousy ending can completely ruin an otherwise great work?
- Do you think an incredible payoff can redeem an otherwise middling (or even bad) work?
- Do you feel the price increase of AAA games was justifiable or not?
- What work did you like as a kid only for you to realize it doesn’t hold up at all?
- What work did you not like as a kid only for you to later realize it’s amazingly good?
- Are there any podcasts you listen to regularly?
- Taking cues from AK’s last question, what is the most bizarre combination of ingredients you enjoy?
And I think we’ll leave it at that. Hope you all stay safe and are able to get vaccinated when possible!