Sunday, July 20, 2008

So obnoxious as other people's luck

I know how this crap gets made, but that doesn't mean I am any less frustrated.

So it is now apparent that history repeats itself on the macro and micro level, and we are all in store for another rollercoaster ride. A ride not so much a rollercoarster, but a twisted funhouse wherein everything that had a strong influence in growing Asian pop-culture into something of a staple of entertainment and cultural identity of the generations who have no idea what a dos prompt is, is turned on its head. As if run by the same idiots at the U.S. Mint that get their panties in such a bunch when told they must design a functional dollar coin and then do just the opposite out of nothing but spite, so too has mainstream American entertainment media finally admitted that the Japanese beat the crap out of them when it came to the battle for the hearts and minds of a generation that’s aware enough to see that the Boomers in charge have lost their minds and have refused to adapt formulas that no longer work. The kids in the fandom take it personally, and then in turn, so do the baby boomers running the show.

So what happens? Well if you have ever read Japan Inc, you’ll have a pretty good idea that we are in the “too little too late” phase of the death march of this market as we know it. Case in point; the new polygonal abomination that is the DC vs Mortal Kombat offering.
Gameplay is irrelevant: They can make an awesome fight engine for anything these days and have it look cool.
Platform is irrelevant: There are very few games that can spur noticeable increases in sales (especially when not combined with other hardware pricing promotions). This game will not be one of them.
Marketing is irrelevant: With 2 brands that such a long embedded history, people have already made up their minds. The pitiful e3 demo recently shown, where Superman ends a match with Sub Zero by pushing him down with a single punch, was either a tremendous marketing blunder or a symptom of a fatal abundance of "fail" in the game that they wish to prolong the exposure of as long as they can.

This game is an attempt to take Marvel vs. Capcom, and make what would hopefully be a modestly profitable franchise out of such a similar pairing. There are a great many things that are being done wrong here, but to keep the bullet points going:
Too Little: In this case, it’s a situation where too much in the easy parts (the “bling” of the game) and not where it belongs. The result is a game that’s going to be old in 5 minutes.
Too Late: Camcom vs. Marvel was first released last century, and like begrudged losers, the old guard is finally realizing that there is no reverse (or standing still) in the world of entertainment (although we have seen a lot of “reincarnation” however).
WTF?: The most glairing problem here is the inability to reconcile the boy-scout image of DC characters (even Lobo never actually attained true bad-ass status that wasn’t at the level of some sort of nicktoons joke), with the bloodthirsty realism of the Mortal Kombat game series, which has been putting ants in the pants of the likes of Captain Kangaroo, Jack Thompson, and Hillary Clinton. With 2 diametrically opposed psychologies, one of them is going to lose.

The sad truth is that by overemphasizing the technical capacities of the game, while at the same time having those technical achievements show an unfolding series of events and game play that are disingenuous to what the market is going to expect, effectively re-alienates an audience like a second Bush term. The minor steps forward in entertainment media searingly branded with the “we’re still in charge” message of the old guard, will send the new generation right back to their p2p fansubs, Japanese imports, and set the bar even higher for when a truly good piece of domestic work is made.

Now when starting with “video games” one loses a part of an audience, so in an attempt to lose the part of that audience which stayed on up to this point, I shall now bring up the same topic, different example. That example of course is Avatar. It has its faults, the sometimes seemingly arbitrary sprinklings of Asian culture here and there, the campy “feel-good” message of a GI Joe episode or Voltron Dub where hastily out-of-place lie is shoehorned into end dialog to falsify the notion that “nobody died,” or the character development that resembles the real-time action of a shrinky-dink (remember those?). For all those faults however, no mistake should be made that this program is perhaps one of the best examples of the new for of entertainment that newer and smarter generations of consumers expect and deserve… and that’s not saying much. The sad fact is that Avatar actually pushed the envelope in the eyes of the old guard, and may have pushed to far for their timid senses, while at the same time it showed the other end of the equation just how chicken-shit the powers that be still are, when it comes to accepting the inevitable.

For all of the steps that it seems we have made, in reality there’s only been one that has been indelibly taken up to this point, and that is the shaking of the taboo in animated TV that episodes can’t connect to each other to form an intelligent and entertaining storyline. The rest of these lessons, things that the audience takes for granted because we’ve gotten so used to them it’s like second nature, will all perhaps never be learned by the old guard, as they take them down with them to the dog-track in Daytona on their motorized chairs with their legs wrapped in airport blankets.

Their exit will not be the final hurdle to intelligent and well made entertainment, because as they have forced their will onto the creative minds of these programs, those creative minds have learned to take the path of least resistance; self-censorship. The notion of “don’t put that in the story, they’d never let us get away with it,” all too quickly leads to such an unbreakable mindset, that the potential illumination out of the animated dark ages that the next generation had in it’s luggage, was tossed off into a storeroom like a shampoo bottle by the TSA, while the rest of the passengers continue to fly on foreign airlines.

Now that the end of licensing as we know it has made the need for domestic creations a reality, the most difficult task in evolving animated entertainment into the thing that caused the great shift in the first place, will fall not to the old guard (they’ll go down screaming that “we’re doing it wrong” and take as many ships down with them as they can), but to the ones that take their place. The ones that spent a disproportional long time underneath aging company superiors who wouldn’t let go, and who by that time, will have to fight a serious battle within themselves against that “self censorship” which was so embedded into the industry, by a generation that in their own eyes “just couldn’t be wrong.”


So I keep hearing these rumblings of the Evangelikon UCC coffee cans being worth something if they are the originals from 1997 and unopened. Anyone know where I can find out?

UCC Evangelion original coffee cans from the 1990's. Unopened.

PS; that "Dirty Pair: A Plague of Angels" back there is signed.
PPS; Bonus points if you can name all the books there.