Sunshine Blogger Award from AK of Everything is Bad for You

I have been tagged once more with a Sunshine Blogger Award. This time, it is from AK, who runs a blog called Everything is Bad for You. It’s an amusing blog that manages to highlight many games I grew up with. Plus, unlike the gaming press, he actually acknowledges what indie games have accomplished in the last few years. Anyway, he asked eleven questions, so here are my answers to them.

  1. Do you have a favorite game composer? If so, who is it?

I have quite a few. Nobuo Uematsu was arguably the first one to really evoke emotions in gaming with his scores and Koji Kondo’s compositions are some of the most memorable in the history of the medium. Then, of course, there’s the super-talented Toby Fox. Not content with having made Undertale, which is one of the greatest story-heavy games of all time, he had to go and write his own music as well – and he was incredibly good at it. However, for the purpose of this question, I think I’ll give an unsung hero the spotlight: Motoi Sakuraba. He is most famous for having scored Golden Sun and its sequel; his grand style grabs your attention like nothing else. Despite having a trademark sound, he has proven to be extremely versatile over the years, scoring games such as Dark Souls, Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom (along with Yuzo Koshiro, Michiru Yamane, Keiki Kobayashi, and Takeshi Yanagawa), and Mario Golf. Most composers are limited to a certain genre. Not Mr. Sakuraba – he’s the kind of composer who can easily make a surprise appearance in the closing credits.

  1. Same question as above, but for game artists/art directors.

There are plenty of great artists out there, though I think I would go with Yoshitaka Amano. He is definitely one of those artists where, even if you don’t know him by name, chances are good you will recognize his work. Most fans know him best as the artist behind the early Final Fantasy installments, though he is extremely prolific, having collaborated with Neil Gaiman for the famed author’s novella, The Sandman: The Dream Hunters. Mr. Amano’s style is one of the most unique out there. It’s almost what you would get if you crossed Western comic book styles with manga styles. I can imagine he played a major role in moving copies of the early Final Fantasy series given how important it was to have good (or at least eye-catching box art at the time).

  1. Is there a character you’ve encountered in a game that annoyed you immediately? If so, did that character grow on you over time, or do you still dislike them?

Bubsy, though I’m not sure if it’s a result of his personality or because his games are so consistently terrible. If we’re taking gameplay out of the equation, I’m going to have to pick the single worst character from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and, by extension, the entire franchise: Ghirahim.

He is the most annoying character I’ve ever encountered in a video game – and this is coming from someone who has played Earthbound, thus being subjected to Porky Minch. To be fair, it’s a pretty close call between the two characters as to which one I find worse, but Porky does have a somewhat timeless quality to his annoyance (for whatever that’s worth) and inspired the creation of a much better character (Blue from Pokémon) whereas Ghirahim is very much a product of that “hey, let’s just have our villains spew meme fodder to appeal to the ‘haha random’ crowd and worry about giving them an actual personality or interesting motives an extremely distant second” zeitgeist that was completely inescapable back in the early 2010s (2011 in particular seemed to spawn a lot of villains like him for some reason). Being so patently one-dimensional, he never grew on me, not even having a vague change of doing so.

He’s also disappointing from a meta standpoint because I can’t help but feel he is a result of Nintendo’s ill-advised attempts to remain relevant when Breath of the Wild proved there was never a point in gaming history in which they weren’t relevant. Alternatively, it’s just bad timing, but the end result is the same – the single worst character they ever created.

  1. If you could own any vehicle from a game, which one would you own, and would it be a practical form of transportation?

I’d go with the Epoch from Chrono Trigger. Who wouldn’t want a time-traveling aircraft? Shortsighted fools – that’s the answer. Even if it couldn’t travel through time, it’s still a fast mode of transportation, so it’s very versatile.

  1. How do you feel about contributing to crowdfunding campaigns for games and other works?

Like most investments, they’re something of a gamble. When they have a good payoff, such was the case with Shovel Knight or Undertale, it can lead to a sense of personal satisfaction, contributing to the creation of something great. Otherwise, you’ve just wasted your money. Still, as long as the person behind the campaign has the talent, there is something to be said for putting oneself out there.

  1. Reversing a question I was asked – what movie would you want to see adapted into game form?

I’d really like to see John Wick adapted into a video game. I think one could make an excellent first-person shooter out of it. I also feel its show-don’t-tell method of storytelling would work really well in this medium.

  1. Do you buy physical copies of games? How important is it to you that the publisher releases a physical copy of a game, or does it matter at all?

I tend to buy physical copies of games if it’s for a home console (or if I know it’s bad/mediocre and want to sell it after I review it). For the PC or portable consoles, I tend to favor digital copies because then all I have to do is click on the icon. It helps that you don’t have to be connected to the internet to make digital copies work on portable consoles such as the Switch or 3DS, though I can see why people prefer physical copies.

  1. If you could have dinner with/hang out with any one main cast of characters from a game, which one would it be?

I think I’d go with Yu Narukami from Persona 4. The guy’s got a cool head on his shoulders and his unapologetic idealism is quite infectious.

  1. How important are a game’s story, characters, and overall message to you when weighed against the quality of its gameplay?

It depends on how story-heavy the experience is. There have been plenty of instances in which I played through a game of middling quality just because the story was just that good. Planescape: Torment has the be the premier example of that, having a very tacked-on combat system, but boasting one of the greatest stories in any medium. Having said that, I can also say that there have been plenty of instances in which a game’s story ended on a sour note and thus ruined the entire experience for me despite having solid gameplay. System Shock 2 is the best example – had it not been for its ending, I would’ve given it a passing grade for sure. I’ve remarked in the past that story-heavy games in general are tricky proposition because if the story falls flat, the gameplay, no matter how good it is, can’t make up for such a slight, and it’s a position I still stand by.

  1. If you were exiled to a desert island and could only bring one game console with you, which one would it be? Not counting the PC – you’re allowed to have a PC on the desert island. You also have access to power sources.  This is a really convenient desert island, isn’t it?

Considering that the Switch has a majority of my favorite console-exclusive games from this generation, that’s what I’d go with. Not only that, but they’ve been a massive boon to indie gaming. Nintendo has kind of the video game equivalent of A24 lately (well, A24 if they had actual respect for their audience).

  1. How much money do you think you’d get for your entire game collection in Gamestop in-store credit? (This one might not be comprehensible to people outside the US. If you’re not familiar with Gamestop, look up “gamestop in-store credit” on Google and you’ll see why I’m asking this question.)

I have to admit a majority of my games are digital copies, but considering that I have at least one-hundred physical copies of games, I’m going to estimate I would get a whole dollar out of it – maybe ten if they’re feeling generous. I tend to sell stuff on eBay instead; it’s more work, but you can get more money out of trading games that way. I’d say my craziest accomplishment doing this was when I actually managed to sell my copy of Ride to Hell: Retribution for $7. There’s no way I could’ve pulled that off at GameStop. The best part? I even straight-up said the game was hilariously bad in the item description.

My questions are as follows:

  1. What do you feel is the ideal length for a studio album (or LP)?
  2. Have you ever accidentally rendered a physical copy of a game/film/album unplayable?
  3. What series do you feel has a confusing naming convention?
  4. What critical darling do you feel completely failed to live up to the hype?
  5. Which work do you feel should have deserved more attention?
  6. Do you prefer a foreign work to be subtitled or dubbed in your language?
  7. Can you remember an instance in which you managed to succeed in a game by the skin of your teeth (e.g. beat a difficult boss with barely any health remaining)?
  8. Can you remember an instance in which you got completely robbed playing a game?
  9. What is your favorite arcade game?
  10. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  11. What critics (in any medium) do you find to actually be reputable?

The owners of the following blogs are hereby tagged:

[FILM REVIEW] Juno (Jason Reitman, 2007)

A sixteen-year-old high-school student named Juno MacGuff has just discovered she is pregnant. The father is a good friend of hers – Paulie Bleeker, though she didn’t count on this to result from his first time. Realizing she wouldn’t be fit to raise this child, she initially considers an abortion. When she reaches the clinic, however, she changes her mind and decides to put the baby up for adoption instead. Juno manages to find a couple – Mark and Vanessa – willing to agree to a closed adoption.

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[FILM REVIEW] Pokémon Detective Pikachu (Rob Letterman, 2019)

Tim Goodman is a 21-year-old insurance salesman who once aspired to become a Pokémon Trainer. These dreams came to an end when his mother died. Because his father was never around, he distanced himself from the creatures that inhabit his world. One day, he receives terrible news. His father died in an automotive accident. Upon visiting his father’s apartment in Ryme City, he meets an individual who may prove instrumental in investigating the circumstances of his father’s fate.

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[FILM REVIEW] John Wick: Chapter 2 (Chad Stahelski, 2017)

WARNING: The very premise of this film contains spoilers for the series thus far.

Four days have passed since the famed, widely feared assassin John Wick took revenge on a young criminal named Iosef Tarasov and his father, Viggo. The hitman has unfinished business with Viggo’s next of kin, for his prized 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 remains in the possession of the crime lord’s brother, Abram. John carves a bloody swath through Abram’s henchman, though he spares him when he is allowed to leave with the vehicle in peace. With his task at last complete, he cements his weapons into the ground once more. However, he is about to learn that retirement is not in his future.

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[FILM REVIEW] Rocketman (Dexter Fletcher, 2019)

Reginald “Reggie” Dwight, better known as Elton John, has checked into rehab. He admits to his various vices, being addicted to cocaine, prescription drugs, sex, and excessive shopping. To get a clear understanding of what brought him to where he is now, he reflects on his life. Before he became Elton John, Reggie was an ordinary child living in the United Kingdom. One day, he showed a knack for playing the piano. Despite his father wishing his son to pursue more practical career paths, Reggie is eventually allowed to study at the Royal Academy of Music. The instructors couldn’t possibly have known they were about to witness the birth of a rock legend.

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[FILM REVIEW] John Wick (Chad Stahelski, 2014)

The wife of a man named John Wick has succumbed to a terminal illness. Just before she died, she had given John a gift to help him with the grieving process: a beagle puppy named Daisy. Over the next few days, he bonds with the puppy, driving her around in his vintage 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1. Trouble brews when at a gas station, a trio of hoodlums led by a young Russian gangster named Iosef Tarasov insists on buying his car. John assures him the car is not for sale, but Iosef refuses to take “no” for an answer. He makes his frustrations known when he and his cohorts follow John to his house, knock him unconscious, kill Daisy, and steal his car.

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[FILM REVIEW] Booksmart (Olivia Wilde, 2019)

Two close childhood friends, Amy and Molly, are about to graduate from high school. After graduating, Amy plans to travel to Botswana for a few months while Molly has been admitted to a prestigious school. The two of them have a reputation for being overachievers, choosing not to party and instead focusing on their studies. While using a restroom, Molly overhears her peers making fun of her. Molly then realizes that she and Amy didn’t have enough fun in high school and should use the remaining time before graduation and go to an end-of-year party being held by a popular kid named Nick.

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[FILM REVIEW] Godzilla (Ishirō Honda, 1954)

The Eiko-maru was sailing around Odo Island only for it to mysteriously sink. Another ship, the Bingo-maru, was sent to investigate but it too met the same fate with only a scant few survivors. A fishing boat is also destroyed shortly thereafter with only a single person surviving. Compounding matters is when the locals fail to catch any fish during their latest expeditions. An elder residing on Odo Island blames a sea creature that had supposedly terrorized the oceans for generations. That creature is known only as Godzilla.

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[FILM REVIEW] You’re Next (Adam Wingard, 2011)

A woman named Erin has traveled with her boyfriend, Crispian Davison, to a vacation home in rural Missouri. It is a family reunion held by Crispian’s parents, Aubrey and Paul. Also joining them is Drake, Kelly, Felix, Aimee, Zee, and Tariq. Drake is Crispian’s older brother and Kelly is the former’s wife. Felix and Aimee are Crispian’s younger siblings – their partners are Zee and Tariq respectively. Unbeknownst to this family, a man wearing a lamb mask has recently killed a woman, writing the words “You’re Next” in blood. This simple reunion will hit a snag when this killer decides to pay a visit.

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[FILM REVIEW] Thor: Ragnarok (Taika Waititi, 2017)

Two years have passed since the defeat of Ultron in the battle of Sokovia. Thor has been imprisoned by the fire demon Surtur. While in captivity, the demon reveals that Odin is no longer on Asgard and the realm will soon be destroyed following an event known as the Twilight of the Gods – Ragnarök. Just when Surtur unites his crown with the Eternal Flame burning in Odin’s vault, Thor frees himself. He then battles Surtur’s forces and seizes the demon’s crown. Though he believes he prevented Ragnarök, the battle has only just begun.

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