Goldeneye 007 Reloaded: The Final Level
I played this game a few years ago when it was released due to nostalgia. I was aware it wasn't going to be anything like the original but that didn't persuade me to play something else. I wasn't very impressed by the game other than they managed to get a pretty good cast to voice the characters. The first person gameplay was solid, not anything you'd rave about but also not bad. The visuals were good, everything looked well put together and executed with good level design.
This article isn't about all that though, it's about the final level of this game. This level is the worst experience in the recent generation of gaming for me because it embodied everything wrong with lazy game development. If you've had the displeasure of playing this game to finish, then you probably know what I'm going to be talking about.
Let me start with that this is a game I played on easy difficulty so I could beat it very quickly for review purposes. I am not the best at FPS games, but also not bad either. This level is just that bad. Also this is the spoiler alert warning if you haven't played it and plan on to.
The level begins with 007 getting off an elevator with Alec's men to meet with him and Natalya. After a lengthy cut scene, all through first person, you and Natalya are alone with guards on their way to kill you. Bond asks Natalya if she can shut down or hack or something involving typing on ridiculous looking computers. That's all she does while you take out waves of henchmen. Now this doesn't sound inherently bad but the issue is she needs to get to 3 computers, if she is shot at, she will stop, yell at you and continue. If you are able to shoot everyone coming in, it'll take roughly 6 minutes for her to reach all 3 computers. However this task is impossible because you don't know where the henchmen are entering from. This entire sequence became boring and mundane because it took so long to finish, About 20 to 30 minutes.
The next section is the catwalk. Alec is firing a beam at you that burns with "the intensity of the sun" and will kill you instantly. In this scene, you must make it to Alec without getting hit by this beam and without getting killed by the henchmen in your way. The biggest problem I have with this section is it's actually a maze. You are supposed to follow a very specific path, you deviate and the beam will instantly kill you. You must also not stop for more than a second because the beam will instantly kill you. This section should take no more than a few minutes to complete, it took me roughly 20 minutes due to extensive trial and error. The game in no way trains the player for this in any earlier sections of the game. If you die, you start at the beginning of the catwalk, so you better learn quick because you're going to be here for a while.
After you manage to pass the catwalk. You are greeted by Alec with a quite long quick time event. It's a fight scene, that lasts about 3 minutes, you mess up one time with the QTE's, start over. This part was so frustrating that it became a thing of pride. I was determined to beat this game so badly that I kept on going.
After you finish the QTE scene, you aren't done quite yet, you must make your way to a room that looks to be important for a satellite station but we’re gonna use it for a gun fight. If you’re able to do this flawlessly, it'll run you around 12-13 minutes. If you die at any point during this part, you start over. Imagine if you will, gunman coming from every angle, Alec, who can take an absurd about of damage, is shooting at you, helicopters hovering and firing on you while you try and survive behind boxes. I think it goes without saying that this is unacceptable game design. This section took me about 45 minutes to complete because I would get to the end and die due to a random A.I. flanking me through the helicopters bullets because he can’t be killed by friendly fire.
When you finally manage to defeat this almost seemingly unwinnable scenario, you are to chase down Alec to the main control panel and shut down the Goldeneye. This leads to another QTE fight that'll run about 20 seconds flawlessly, needless to say, took me about 5 minutes. After that you are done, you've killed Alec, destroyed Goldeneye and Natalya saves you in a helicopter.
Now the reason I'm telling you about this horrendous story is to explain how influenced by current game design this final sequence is. Every part of it is a clear try at being like the big boys of shooters. The first part with Natalya and the computers, I don't mind the whole "survive while shooting waves of enemies" thing, but to make it so long is what's excruciating. And it becomes longer every time Natalya is shot at, it doesn't seem necessary. Other games that have this mechanic are a lot more forgiving by having the time it lasts a lot shorter.
The next section is just a mess, having the player learn a path by constantly killing them is not fun. It's frustrating and borderline criminal. It becomes even harder when you are onslaught by loads of henchmen, it's unfairly hard and again, not fun.
It's been stated in other podcasts I've been apart of that I have a huge disdain for quick time events. They work in some games, are even a fun element added to the overall experience. They are not fun in an action shooter where when your character gets smacked across the face and everything gets real disorientating. The first fight with Alec is so disorientating in fact that you miss the QTE prompts very easily and end up starting over. Who in the development of this game thought that this was fun? Or was it that they didn't care because they just wanted a certain QTE quota?
The next section is not even remotely entertaining. I've played other shooters that put you to the test and force you to use everything you've learned in the final section. I will give them credit that with this section, that was the intent. Intent and execution are two entirely different things. When enemies take a lot of damage, let me take them out before you throw the stand-here-to-not-die part. These enemies will flank you while you are in cover because the helicopters bullets can't harm them. It's nonsense and becomes an element that sours on overall not too bad game.
The final QTE is a nice change of pace because it's shorter and has less buttons to press. It's still not an entertaining element, being forced to do this a second time after the insane final fight makes no sense. It's an exercise in futility.
If you've made it this far in my ranting, then that tells me you are sick of lazy first person shooters as well. It's said that if you want change, be that change. If only I could apply that to buying first person shooters. These types of game play elements are unacceptable but are intensely popular among a lot of shooters because developers have a hard time understanding that games don't need to look like movies. A compelling story line doesn't mean you have to do a final QTE to finish it off. I for one feel cheated when this happens because I wasn't playing "Simon Says" the rest of the game. Look at the most acclaimed FPS games, they don't do this. They have a fun final, tough level that puts you to the test, not a series of survival levels and quick time events. I fear this is a trend that won't change anytime soon.
We want to hear your worst gaming experience in this console generation, Leave a comment on this article, go our Facebook page and give us a like and follow us on twitter @MissionStartP. Thank you for reading.
I should preface this article with that I don’t normally play the horror genre. I get massive anxiety, I then panic and end up dead. I love the games on this list for providing me with that sense of dread, I also hate them for that. I’m a big horror movie fan, and think that’s because I’m able to separate myself from the movie, you can’t do that in a video game because you are controlling the character. The monsters I've chosen on this list have caused me the greatest sense of dread I've ever experienced in a video game. Just writing this article is giving me heart palpitations, let’s get this over with. (Warning: Spoiler Alert)
6. Pyramid Heads from Silent Hill 2
I know they show up in later installments but I will remember them specifically from Silent Hill 2 due to it being the last one I ever played. The first time you see one of the Pyramid Heads, he is doing something very strange to decapitated bodies. He doesn't speak, he just makes very low tone that makes you empty your bowels. He seems to show up at the worst moments and scare you right out of your seat. You can’t kill them either which makes them that more terrifying. Later they are given a giant sword just to make you feel even more feeble, cause immortality wasn't enough.
5. The Ghosts of Himuro Mansion from Fatal Frame
I played Fatal Frame back in high school, my senior year, and it made me feel as if i was about to graduate elementary school. The mechanic with this game, to prevent your death, is by photographing ghosts that you can only see through your magical, antique camera that also can expel said ghosts. You only know a ghost is in the vicinity because it will make some kind of haunting noise. What makes this so frightening is you don’t know where they are, so upon searching for them through your camera, they could be right in front of you. I’ll just say that this made me change my underpants more than once.
4. Slenderman from Slender: The Eight Pages
The Internets boogeyman, little ol' Slendey over here has become modern history's urban legend. I don't know much of his lore beyond his fondness of children, but what I am sure about is that he is right behind you. In this freeware game, you are tasked with collecting 8 pieces of paper with disturbing scribblings to keep him from turning you into...static, I assume. This one is a bit different because you aren't seen dead like the other games on this list. You are moving along, knowing that he's behind you and you know if you stop and look, he'll get you. That's what makes it so freighting, you know he's there and you can't do anything about it. Good luck sleeping anytime soon.
3. The Gatherers from Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Imagine if you will, a place where you are at odds with your own sanity because you literally can't remember anything, hence it being titled "Amnesia". What makes matters worse are the gatherers who will chase you down and kill you very indiscriminately. The second you see one, you will want to either run or hide because you have no means of killing them. Escape is the only way out and you'd better not even fart while hiding because they will open whatever you're in and destroy you. The other major component to their level of scary is the horrid look to them. Clive Barker has wet dreams of these monsters due to their deformed design.
2. The Necromorphs from Dead Space
When you are first introduced to necromorphs, they aren't as big a threat as some other monsters on this list. Using Isaac Clarke's futuristic mining tools are fun and easy to use, you are given a decent amount of ammo and the ability to make things slow down. Sounds like a cake walk, right? This is where you'd be wrong. After a short while, ammo becomes scarce, necromorphs become stronger and more silent, everything becomes more deadly. Continuing on for around 15 to 20 minutes with nothing trying to kill you, you end up letting your guard down, and that’s when it happens, your bladder releases as a necromorph leaps out of a vent and grabs you. Now this may be an ambiance thing because the developers want to keep you scared but if it weren't for the monsters in the dark, the ambiance wouldn't be as nerve racking.
1. Nemesis from Resident Evil 3
I became a huge fan of the resident evil series from the first game, I loved the idea of abandonment and survival. The sequel has an even better story and I couldn’t wait for the next installment after I had beaten it. I remember being very excited that you played as Jill Valentine because she was chosen over Chris Redfield when I had played the first game. Everything was all going according to plan until I heard the sound that still haunts my dreams, “SSSSTAAAAARRRRRSSSS!”. Nemesis is a huge undead, unkillable monster that will annihilate you very quickly. I literally screamed and threw my controller when he first appeared because I was so unprepared for him. Every Time I would hear him say his morbid catch phrase, I would clench so hard, you could say it was a work out. I still get chills when I hear it today. His final boss battle was probably the most memorable thing from the game for me since it was when you finally escaped his grasp. It was a relief when he finally was defeated and you watched him burn along with all of Raccoon City in a nuclear explosion, but something tells me he survived and is still hunting down S.T.A.R.S. members.
If you have a memory of a terrifying monster that will always keep you reaching for your teddy bear and a nightlight, leave a comment letting us know. Be sure to head on over to our Facebook page and give us a like, Follow us on Twitter @MissionStartP and check out our YouTube Channel by searching for Mission Start Podcast. Thank you for reading and have a Happy Halloween.
Top Ten Video Game Franchises
by Gregg Dietz
We’ve all been there, a sequel is announced and you know you are already going to buy it because of the title alone, regardless of a trailer. This feeling is put upon us by the fact alone we know the franchise in which it comes from and we trust it implicitly, this is why we are always excited for a new Sonic the Hedgehog game (He’s not on this list by the way). As a quick disclaimer, this is MY top 10 list, these are franchises I have the best and most memories with, whether its by myself or with friends. If there is one that is not on here that you would have put on yours ( I’m sure there is because there are hundreds of franchises), leave a comment and let us know. With that being said, let’s get this started.
10. Gears of War
I thoroughly enjoyed all 4 of these games. When the first one came out, I was living on my own for the first time and I remember having my roommate system link with me and we beat it in a night. I also remember being at a lan party with at least 14 people. Another aspect of this game for me was the amazing B-movie style story.
Every turn was an awesomely bad sci-fi plot device, coupled by a Schwarzenegger-esque line, and this was all in the first game. I understand this series wasn’t for everybody but I found a lot of redeeming quality in the both story and gameplay. I have always been excited for the next installment and will continue to be as long as they keep making them.
9. Kingdom Hearts
Ah, Kingdom Hearts, everyone remembers where they were when they heard the announcement that Squaresoft (a year before merging with Enix) and Disney were to release a game combining both rich universes into one cohesive plot all because of a chance meeting in an elevator. I remember being so excited for this that all I could do leading up to it’s release was talk about it and bring my magazine to school to show my friends at lunch.
After it’s release, I didn’t stop playing it till I beat it, and I’m in no way a completionist but I remember helping my brother find all 99 dalmatian puppies to get that secret ending. I specifically went out of my way to buy a Gameboy Advance just to play Chain of Memories, which admittedly, I didn’t like as much because of the overly complicated card system but it was still a good game. I was in line for Kingdom Hearts 2 with other fellow KH fans and wanted to play this game so badly, and that’s a big reason it’s on my list. The wonderful community of fans this game has, they love the game and love others who feel the same. Now it’s just a slow wait for the 3rd installation.
I adore the Lego games, every one of them. When I played the first Lego Star Wars, It was a bit taboo because it was supposedly designed for children, but I saw more than that. It had a fresh sense of humor that other games couldn’t accomplish, the ability to be self aware without over doing it. It was a fun, relaxing experience because you couldn’t die permanently, and this goes for all the Lego games.
They were able to pull from other pop culture franchises that I love and that helps immensely with the fun factor. The most recent Lego games have even started adding voices (Lego Batman 2: DC Heroes Unite, Lego Lord of the Rings, Lego Marvel Super Heroes) which lends to the comedy to evolve and become stronger. I will always look forward to what game they have coming out next.
I am such a fan of this franchise that I even went out of my way to get a hold of Lego Rock Band, which leads me to my next Franchise...
7. Rock Band
2006, Activision acquires RedOctane (publisher of Guitar Hero 1&2) and this led to Harmonix (developer of Guitar Hero 1&2) becoming a widely sought after developer. After a short period of time, Harmonix was acquired by MTV networks and EA to produce the first Rock Band. The day this game was released, I had made sure that I had the day off from work so I could play it as much as possible. I had invited a group of friends over, bought a multi tap usb port so I could connect all 4 instruments, and we played this for a grand total of 13 hours.
Needless to say, I was exhausted afterwards but it was so worth it. I spend probably a total of $500 on this franchise over the course of it’s lifespan, between downloadable songs, new instruments and 5 different versions of the game. Unfortunately, those days are over, people became bored of the games, and this included Guitar Hero. The market was flooded with too many peripherals and different versions of the game. It was too much for the ship to handle and she sank, at least we have the memories.
This franchise comes for the twisted mind of Ken Levine, well, the first and last games. I wasn’t too keen on playing the first BioShock when it was released because I'm not a fan of horror games, which is weird because I love horror movies. It wasn’t until a friend had told me that it was a thriller and not scary at all, just Incredibly eerie.
What I didn’t know until I started playing it was that the world created around you was inspired by Ayn Rand’s and George Orwell’s utopian and dystopian writings. I have always loved the idea of a utopian society crumbling underneath its own weight. This game was the aftermath of that and was beautiful in a demented sort of way. BioShock 2 was more of an experiment to give the player a more entertaining gameplay experience, the first game was intentionally difficult in the firearm and powers department because the developers wanted to immerse the player into a panicked state of mind. BioShock 2 was much more forgiving by letting the player control both firearm and powers at the same time. Unfortunately, this is where the good marks stop. The story is completely forgettable, it made strides in the wrong direction and Ken Levine knew it would have been a bad idea to revisit Rapture, so he worked on his latest title, BioShock Infinite. This game is a perfect example of how to tell a story without hand feeding it to the player. I will stop here for fear of spoilers but trust me when I say that it is a wonderful game and you should definitely pick it up.
5. Super Smash Bros.
There’s a plethora of things I could say about why this series is so great. If you don’t know what Super Smash Bros is, then here’s a quick explanation; a set list of Nintendo characters battle on a 2 dimensional arena, there are items to use at your disposal, each iteration of the game adds new characters to play that feel different than the last. This was one of the last games I played on the Nintendo 64, mainly because I was busy playing the PlayStation and didn’t own a 64. I had made a friend who owned the console and brought it over one night in 2000, we ended up playing it until the sun came up. When Super Smash Bros. Melee was released, I didn’t have a GameCube but I wanted to play it so badly. The Christmas of 2002, my brother had gifted me a special edition GameCube with The Legend of Zelda bundle.
Along with that, someone had gotten me a copy Super Smash Bros Melee. and I don’t think that game came out of my console very often. I had bought 3 extra controllers just to accommodate the amount of people I had over at any given time. I remember setting up a tournament bracket with 8 of my friends just for fun. The 3rd installment was fun if you had used a GameCube controller. I found the using the wii remote or the combo of that with the nunchuck wasn’t as fun, and maybe that's because I played Melee for so long that I was jaded but it was still a great game and I have very fond memories playing it.
This was a series of games I wasn’t supposed to play because It was “for children”. I was in high school when the first couple of games came out and I was teased by not only my peers but my siblings as well. I then found others who also shared the same passion for the games as I did and to this day, some of them are still my friends. I loved the RPG style of the game and the sense of exploration that worked really well because you never knew what monsters you were going to face. I’ve spent hours playing these games, to the point of exhaustion. Yellow was my first foray into the world of Pokemon. I remember thinking that there are so many of these creatures that I didn’t know anything about them, so I would read about them, talk about them with friends who had captured them and even battle them via system link so I could learn more.
I admittedly haven't played the last 4 iterations and that’s only because I don’t own a Nintendo DS, and I would love to spend more time playing these games. I’m excited for X and Y mainly because it’s finally in more of a 3D space, I know Black and White was but now its more so. I think the only way forward would be a Pokemon MMO, but then again, that might destroy the world.
3. Grand Theft Auto
I know what you must be thinking, “You only put this on the list because of how amazing Grand Theft Auto 5 is”. As I agree that the game is amazing, I have a very long, clear history with this franchise. I was quite young when my friend introduced me to Grand Theft Auto, I was blown away by what you could do. It was unlike what I had ever seen in a game. When I was able to get my hands on the sequel for the PS1, I have no idea how by the way, I would sit and laugh at both my friends and brothers when getting destroyed by the cops. I don’t remember much of a story, I know there was one but we didn’t explore it much. I was reading a Gamepro (rest in peace) at a supermarket when I found out about GTA 3. I had gone to my brother and exploded with excitement and I even remember the explanation I had given him for the game, “Dude, it’s like Driver except you can walk around and shoot people”, thats right folks, I compared the original PlayStation 1 game ”Driver” to what we would recognize as the pinnacle of free roam gaming today.
Every version of this game has had the same result though out my gaming life, Play until cops annihilate you then pass the controller and let them see how far they can get. The story of each of these games is very well done, each game has a singular plot that works well in the world in which it takes place. Each version also pushes the limits of its predecessor, by either adding land space, more story, an online mode, whatever it may be, it never ceases to amaze and impress me. I will always look forward to what comes out next for this franchise.
I used to be a big ol’ annoying fan boy that would let my loyalism get in the way of something new. Halo: Combat Evolved was a fresh eye opener that I shouldn't judge a book, or game in this case, by it’s cover. I had made a conscious effort to avoid anything Xbox, I was that much of a loyalist fanboy. It wasn’t until one fateful night when a “rich” friend of mine brought over his xbox with Fuzion Frenzy, Dead or Alive 3 and Halo: Combat Evolved. We played Fuzion Frenzy for maybe 30 minutes before laughing/ogling at CGI boobs in Dead or Alive 3, but then Halo was put in and that was the game for the remainder of the night. A year later Halo 2 was released, my brother and I had bought a brand new xbox with Halo 2 and beat it within a very short amount of time. This was also my first game I truly played online. I had bought Xbox Live time through my friends credit card and continued to pay him for months. It wasn’t until 2 years after the release of the Xbox 360 that we saw the final instalment of this trilogy. I can’t count how many hours I clocked in on Halo 3, between playing on legendary with friends or spending hours in the online multiplayer.
It was just such a fun experience for me personally, I even made a few really good friends playing it. As much as I enjoyed the trilogy, the next 2 games had better stories. Halo 3: O.D.S.T. was easily my favorite told story. I couldn’t get enough of the dark ambience the destroyed city of New Mombasa gave when you played as the Rookie. I loved the noir-esque feeling you achieved when finding the next piece of the puzzle of what had happened to your lost squad, it was fun and very immersive.
Halo: Reach is Bungie's swan song for Halo. They added so much to what was loved about every game before it and gave the fans a glimpse of the fall of the planet Reach which you were only told about in small increments throughout each of the games. Halo Reach was a huge part of my social gaming life, I played this game online exclusively, other than that one LAN party. Halo 4 is the most recent title to be released and I will admit, it’s not the best nor did I expect it to be, but I will continue to play this series as each game comes out due to my love and devotion to this fantastic franchise.
1. Super Mario
Where do I start with this franchise? This WAS my childhood. Many people will tell you what they remember most about their childhood and all of them are good things but this one was mine and always has been. I've never met anyone who played these games as hard as I did as a kid. The first time I got to play Super Mario Bros was Christmas of 1988, my Dad had thrown a pair of shoes and chains on the roof to simulate Santa Claus. I jumped out of my bed and ran to the door with my brothers, when I saw that Nintendo Entertainment System sitting on the door mat, i freaked out. I couldn't play until the morning but when I did, I didn't stop. I battled my way to King Koopa and I beat him only to find out that it wasn't the end of the game. I was proud of myself but now more determined to beat the game. That was a unique feeling as a 5 year old, I never had that happen before. I had always learned that when I finished something, I got a reward and I was done. Not this time little Gregg, you have a long road ahead of you.
I had the opportunity as a kid to rent a game if I received 100 percent on my spelling test each week. During one two month span, all I rented was Super Mario Bros 2 because it was so difficult. I couldn't figure out how to beat the level one boss, Birdo (Mistakenly labeled as Ostro in both the manual and credits, fixed in later remakes of the game). It wasn't until I overheard a conversation from some kids in class that all you had to do was stand on his...her...shims eggs, pick them up and throw them back. That was a breakthrough for me as a kid, I eventually beat that game over weeks of renting it. I was watching cartoons one Saturday morning and saw the commercial for Super Mario Bros 3, I was so excited that I grabbed a VHS tape and waited for the commercial to show back up so I could show my Mom. Shortly before the games release, The Wizard with Fred Savage came out showing the game early. As an 8 year old, this was the greatest thing I had ever seen. I remember my mom running into the Toys ‘R Us in the rain to get me this game. The memories I have from this game are some of my favorite, finding all the secrets that no one else knew about was so satisfying. Playing this with someone else, feeling that real accomplishment from beating an area with a partner. This particular Super Mario game is my favorite game of all time and will always have special place in my heart.
I always loved how every new Nintendo system came with a new Super Mario game, for the Super Nintendo, it was Super Mario World. This was the introduction of Yoshi as a pivotal assistant to Mario and Luigi. It was so original and unique in every way, each world was so different than the last and you felt that throughout the game. The secrets were also as much fun to discover as they were in Super Mario Bros 3. This was also the first game that King Koopa is referred to as Bowser. Speaking of Bowser, his boss battle at the end was so much fun, I even remember beating it so many times that I would line Mario up just right to have him kiss Princess Peach in the center of the screen. I didn't get to play Super Mario 64 right away due to not ever owning a Nintendo 64, but a few years later and a good friend (seems to be a trend here), I was able to play this masterpiece. It was a very different experience I then what I was used to, this new free roam Mario was something that took time to get used to but once I did, bowser was toast. I've played every main Super Mario title that's been released since and I do enjoy them but somethings been slightly off about them. I feel the uniqueness and creativity of the other games is lost on these new Mario titles. I will continue though to be excited for each new iteration and look forward to beating bowser as many times as needed.
I was able to attend Starbase's last video game tournament it was holding before it gets shut down. Its always sad to see arcades shut down, so I attended and paid my respects before the place will be shut down for good in a month. Thanks for everyone I met and talked to. I had a fun time and got alot of great footage when I was there.
Thank you to Starbase for letting us record and do this video piece
You can catch the entire tournament stream on Iplaywinners twitch channel as well as youtube.
Song used was:
The epic of Ryu and Akuma - A Street Fighter Piano Improvisa http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEp5nwWF2dg
Before I started working for Mission Start, I signed up for a Dead or Alive cosplay group happening at Anime Los Angeles 2013. Being that I had no sewing skill of my own and my own favorite commissioner at Eccentric Tortoise was busy through January of 2013, I asked a couple of people for a referral, they referred me to EZ Cosplay. I decided to try them out.
I gave them the below pictures to work with.
They said they could do the vest, the pants, gloves, shirt, belts, and even the do-rag. Well, it’s a pretty simple design. What could go wrong?
Ha! Ask a silly question…
First, I mentioned a video to get a better 360-degree view. I forgot to add the link, but no one followed up to mention that they needed it. That should have been a red flag to me. As you can see, at the 4:25 mark of the video, there’s a great view of the graphic on the back of the vest. This was the final piece of the puzzle I needed to get a great costume.
The EZ Cosplay e-mail person was initially very responsive in late September. Over a couple of days, we discussed materials, references, and a general price point. Suddenly, there was a drop-off in communication. After a week with no response, I sent another message asking if I was accidently overlooked. The response was that they were very busy with Halloween and they wanted me to resubmit my request after the end of October. Well… that wasn’t an unreasonable request. I contacted them again at the beginning of November, and they picked up quickly. We agreed to a price point, I sent the money, and they gave me a custom link to confirm my order and a due date of December 20, 2012. A day after I sent payment, I received another e-mail stating they under-quoted me by $30.00. Not the best start, but it was still a decent price, so I made arrangements to send it at the first opportunity.
Well, on December 10, 2012, a package arrived at my workplace addressed to my office. Our receptionist opened it. She found a couple of odds and ends no one claimed knowledge of requesting. Then, when she pulled out one of the gloves and a headpiece, I recognized it and claimed it. Now, when I open a costume commission, it’s a lot like a Christmas present. There’s always initial joy either replaced by happiness or disappointment. In this case, there was just… confusion.
Let me break this down:
This is what EZ Cosplay offered to do. I didn't ask them about the parts. They said of their own volition they could do this:
Sizing: I ordered an “XL” size, which was my mistake. The problem is, though, I’m no XXL, but this package came from China, and their definition of “XL” is different than the one in the United States. That falls on me, but suffice it to say, things barely fit… if at all.
Pants: This was without a doubt the best part of the order. While the sizing is not in a usable range, the colors were right with the black pants and grey stripe down the legs. The problem was pointed out by my wife in that they used the absolute cheapest material possible. It is so cheap, it goes beyond getting a reasonable profit from the product to the point of laughable materials. And, these pants of this hard fighting American are… pleated?
Gloves: Simple fingerless gloves turned into a mess. I can BARELY fit my hand into them, but that leaves the entry stretched out and my thumbs can’t move. It was pointed out that the fingers are irregular lengths, too. Terrible.
Shirt: The shape of the shirt is livable, and it’s the right color of material, but the stitching at the collar isn’t consistent, with the collar’s lip at varying lengths beyond the stitching. Add into that an attorney I work with pointed out there is an odd stain on the back of a white shirt that I haven’t worn yet. That’s fun.
Belts: Please look at that picture. That is a pretty tough studded belt to do, especially with the eagle’s head at the buckle. There’s room for compromise, obviously. I’m not unreasonable. What I received was a pretty cheap item by comparison. It’s a piece of vinyl studded with small buttons, but the most intriguing part is the buckle/head.
What is this? My daughter thinks it’s a fish. It looks like a grade school art project of the X-Men's Legion character stitched on. I’ve seen more impressive belts at Wal-Mart.
And, they added this green belt. It is part of the costume, but the bag on the back was ignored and it is something that can be replicated with more quality from a $10 canvas belt.
Scarf(?): What the hell is this? Since when is Bass Armstrong hanging out with “The Model” Rick Martel and Alberto Del Rio? I don’t see what this about and it’s not in any picture I gave them.
Vest: This… is just plain insulting. The vest I received from Eccentric Tortoise for my last Bass costume was made from vinyl, lined, made of multiple parts, had a zipper, buttons, and the details were paid attention to. What I received from EZ Cosplay had NONE of that save a strip of vinyl… for the cheap red stripes. If you’ve seen the video or looked at the details in the picture, you can see that several things are missing.
There is no leather-like substance save the stripe. The grey stripe is missing entirely. The quilted pattern on the shoulders isn’t present. The graphic on the back isn’t there.
To their credit, they added the button holes for the lacing on the sides, but they decided that the right way to go was to lace it with some kind of ribbon I wouldn’t use to adorn the Christmas gifts I wrap.
There was a vest I commissioned for a costume from Dead or Alive 2 from almost ten years ago that is just a vest with an iron cross on the back I would wear before this mess.
Do-Rag: This is the best part, and by that, I mean if you can tell me how any business person thought this was acceptable, I owe you a box of Pocky. Check this out. First, there’s no blue. That’s right. An American flag do-rag is red, white, and BLACK.
Next, the red striping on the sides is so haphazardly sewn on, the stripes are nowhere near straight. Also, you must have noticed, it’s not a do-rag at all! It’s a shower cap! Not only that, for an XL costume, it’s a shower cap sized for a diminutive woman! And finally, you’re not blind. The stars on the “Stars and Stripes” have been replaced by… flowers. I spent a while at my desk staring at this and eventually, I just laughed.
OVERALL: So, to sum it up, Bass Armstrong, the bruiser of the Dead or Alive series of games, a redneck biker of a base stereotype of American culture, dresses like a cross between a cheap dancer and a housewife.
I can’t recommend EZ Cosplay to anyone. You could try to commission a custom costume and send it to your worst enemy, but they’re likely to be too smart to even try it on. In all fairness, it could be that it was the “custom” part of my order that threw off their fabricators. I’ve heard people that ordered from standard parts of their catalog received what they asked for, but I can’t see giving any more money to them if such a simple costume gives their seamstresses fits and this is their idea of acceptable.
I e-mailed EZ Cosplay and demanded a full refund. Their contact person responded by saying that their designers aren't very good and that no one's satisfaction is at all guaranteed. That's a great way to do business, right? I said to them I would write a review, and they accused me of being unfair and wanting both the money and the costume. I told them it was unfair to think this work was acceptable.
To date, I still have not received all of my refund, and I returned the costume in December.
Avoid EZ Cosplay like the plague.
Trying out for Kimberly Cole
I am a fan of Nathan Barnatt. He is one of a new crop of celebrities who have made themselves famous via Internet videos of the non-Kim Kardashian variety. The character I know him best as is Keith Apicary, a classic video gaming enthusiast in the series Talking Classics. In his series, Apicary is either having small adventures while relating his love of Nintendo, Genesis, and Dreamcast games or is creating hilarious chaos at conventions across the country, be it having a Sonic-style spin dash race or scaling a convention center to find the way in after he forgot his ticket. His unique dance talents recently starred in music videos for Kimberly Cole's "U Make Me Wanna," and Flo Rida's "Let It Roll."
A lot of you may recognize him from the below video which I've posted before.
While going through my Facebook feeds, I came across a message from Keith Apicary asking for his fans to volunteer as extras during Labor Day weekend in 2012. I haven’t been on a T.V. or movie shoot in 15 years of living in Los Angeles and thought it was an experience I would like to have. Besides, I could sit in a rocker telling my grandchildren one day about the time I was on television and they could roll their eyes as they went back to playing their 3D gaming systems 30 years from now.
So, I sent an e-mail to the address I was directed to. After getting my acceptance, I set aside time to be a Hollywood extra.
Believe it or not, this day didn’t begin well for me. The first e-mail I received said I was going to be an extra on Day 2. So, when I received an e-mail early on Day 1, I thought it was letting me know what I needed for the following day. Around 11:00 a.m., I received another e-mail from Production letting me know that shooting began at 10:00 this morning and they were wondering where I was.
After a haphazard shower and shaving my head, I jumped into clothes and apologized profusely to my wife for leaving on a day I didn’t intend think I was going anywhere. I arrived in Pasadena at a high school. According to the e-mail, today was to be shot in the gymnasium. After asking a grip where I needed to go, I found myself standing in the door of the gymnasium, with a couple of bleachers full of people suddenly looking in my direction.
Joe Hursley in Resident Evil: Extinction
Suddenly, I was being asked if I needed help by a man in a furry blue mascot outfit sans the head piece. It took only a moment for me to recognize Joe Hursley. I’d seen him in a few projects. Some people may remember him as part of milk’s White Gold ad campaign. Most will recognize him as Otto in 2007's Resident Evil: Extinction.
I told him my role in the project and he called out to a couple of people on his other side. I looked past him to see Nathan Barnatt, as well as his friend/director, Paul Cummings. Thankfully, no one dismissed me for being late. In fact, Nathan said and enthusiastic, “Cool! Jump in anywhere, man!”
I took a place in the bleachers and watched a couple of hours of shooting. It didn’t take long for things to feel warm… uncomfortably so. I didn’t complain, but someone else mentioned that they could use a few minutes outside. I agreed, but I didn’t get why it was so hot. I learned that the sound of an air conditioner can interfere with the microphones during shooting, so it’s not used.
I learned something new.
During the day, I watched Hursley do a lot in that blue mascot outfit. He was actively harassing another character for reasons that might be clearer if I was involved in all of the days of shooting. All I can say in confidence is that it involved scissors, spray paint, and an ewe.
I decided not to ask…
Guess who I am!
Nathan himself was unusually engaging with us. I wasn’t sure if it was in his nature, if he knew these were fans of his voluntarily helping out, or a combination of both. In any case, it made the day much more fun when the star of the show would often goof around with us to keep our spirits up and make the experience that much more fun. We were dismissed around 4:00 p.m. that day. However, before we got up, Nathan had asked to take a picture with us. We were all eager to say yes. We moved to one section and Nathan laid across us in the front row while someone took a picture with his phone. When he was done, he turned around, looked at us, and said, “Whoa! Hunks down front!” He thanked us for helping out before we left.
After I arrived home, I spent time pressing clothes for the next day.
Today was much more relaxed as I checked the day and time of the shoot… three times. I talked my wife into tagging along. I wasn’t sure how many people they needed, but I was fairly certain that another woman in the mix wouldn’t be a bad thing. We arrived at 2:00 p.m. at a Pasadena café. The shoot was to take place at a poetry slam. Not an environment I’m very familiar with. There were about a dozen of extras that finally showed up, and it turned out they did need another woman, so my wife’s presence was very appreciated by the staff.
We waited for pretty much all afternoon. We were still receiving random visits from Nathan between shots, Joe Hursley remembered me and said hello, and a production assistant repeatedly chatted with us on video games, comic books, tattoos, and sci-fi shows. It was the second day in a row that I was impressed that a lot of people seemed really concerned with our energy and comfort.
They used us in small amounts at first. They wanted a few of us to play certain roles (not me), but called in the remainder of us just after sunset to be the audience at the poetry slam. As we were brought inside, my wife started discussing comic books with Nathan while we entered the building and what type of Nightcrawler tattoo she wanted. It was one of those moments fans often daydream about when they are able to talk to one of their favorite stars about hobbies and normal things like it was just another day. The moment is still burned in my brain when she referred to me as the person that taught her most of what she knows about comic books, Nathan turns to me, and I had to stop myself from having a fanboy moment and embarrassing myself.
My wife was placed behind the poet, and I was invited to do a walkthrough from the bathroom. In the end, I waited most of the evening by the bathroom. They had either overlooked my cue, or decided it wasn’t necessary to the shoot. I wasn’t insulted. I figured there was always a chance that whatever they would ask an extra to do wasn’t overly necessary to the story, so I wasn’t put out. Besides, it was a lot of fun to listen to the actors playing Keith Apicary and his circle of friends harass the same character I saw yesterday. There were some odd actions regarding stink bombs in between shots of the other extras sitting around staring at a poet making no sound. It occurred to me as I stood off to the side that this was as like an independent movie; a crowd going to a poetry slam that has no poetry.
I wonder if Kevin Smith would consider making a movie like that staring Silent Bob…
Director Paul Cummings
I think I stood in one place for about 90 minutes. I checked my watch now and again, but didn’t keep track of time because I was entertained by the dialogue I heard.
In the latter part of shooting, I reminded the production team that I wasn’t used, not as a matter of “what about me?!” but to remind them that I probably shouldn’t be standing there for other shots. The director, Paul Cummings was nice enough to give me a walkthrough during a scene where the poet was reading his poem. I did my crossing of the room, which left me in eye contact with Joe Hursley. We traded confused, laughing looks while we tried to process what the poet was saying. I can’t remember the words, but I remember it being hilarious and it took concentration not to interrupt him with laughter. They only needed one take, so we did a good job of being silent.
I and another extra took a seat at a table by a door. It was out of the shot, and we figured we weren’t needed anymore, so we stayed inside and observed. The extra I sat with was an aspiring actor, and I don’t remember his name. Between takes, we joked about two straight guys just hanging out at a poetry slam without the wives. We were surprised when they needed to shoot the main actors rushing out the door and started dressing the table we sat at. We started to get up when the set crew told us to stay put. Neither the other extra nor I were going to deny a chance to be on camera. It was just one of those odd things that sometimes work out in your favor.
Nathan and fans!
We were ushered outside to see if we were needed for a last series of takes, but were dismissed soon afterwards. Nathan again came out to thank us and was gracious enough to stop for photos. I was the happiest kid in the world in that moment, and officially became the subject of jealousy among friends.
Before driving home, I received an e-mail asking for more extras for another day of shooting in Whittier. I went over my work schedule that night and found that I could get there, but it was a night shoot starting at 8:00 p.m., and judging by the 6 to 8 hour schedules we were needed for, I had to have a co-pilot to keep me awake for the drive home. I asked a friend to come with me, and she agreed, so I made sure I had the clothes needed for one more day of shooting.
After picking up my friend, we drove for the better part of the afternoon before arriving at a parking lot in Whittier. I could see an ambulance and the production truck.
It’s odd how I was recognizing not just the stars, but the other extras I was meeting. Of the people I didn’t recognize, one started talking to myself and my friend, and he turned out to be an anime and comic book fan from the East Coast starting an acting career in Los Angeles. His name is Christopher O’ Brien
, and he was a very nice person to get to know. He's already landing roles in CSU: Crime Stoppers Unit, and the play, Wonder Women.
Congrats on your success, Chris!
Christopher O' Brien
We were suddenly told we could take our cars to the shoot at a nearby restaurant. It was surreal to be waiting to shoot a T.V. show while people finished their dinners. When enough people were done in half of the dining room, the production staff swept in and quickly set up to shoot in a booth. The extras were placed at different tables as diners. I sat across from another person I don’t remember the name of. (I am terrible with names! Sorry!) As we talked, a make-up lady with a large application brush was walking toward us. I leaned to allow her to pass, and the tip of the brush touched my bald head. I was going to excuse myself when she suddenly leaned back and said,
“Do you mind if I powder your head?”
There was a moment when I looked at the extra across from me who just shrugged, and I said, “Sure.”
“Great,” she said. She started to apply make-up to my skull and said, “Sorry, but bald heads tend to shine,” as she worked.
I replied with, “That’s not a news flash.”
She laughed and finished.
As we waited, I was surprised to receive acknowledgement and a handshake by Paul Cummings. Joe Hursley again said hi and asked what my wife thought of the other day. Nathan said, “You again?” jokingly as he walked by. He, again, joked with us between takes. I listened to an exchange between Apicary’s circle and a waitress. I would like to talk more about what I saw and heard, but I don’t want to spoil the storyline.
The shoot didn’t take as long as the previous days. We were dismissed at midnight. I didn’t wait for pictures this evening since I didn’t want to be accused of stalking. Though it did occur to me that if I actually ended up in the shoots for all three days, someone might think I was some kind of deranged, middle-aged Keith Apicary stalker.
Maybe #baldstalker will become some kind of odd meme…
The show is supposed to debut on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim lineup. As of this writing, I don’t know the date, but based on what I observed, the humor of the show will fit in well with the other live-action Adult Swim shows.
I’m also a big Nathan Barnatt fan, so I have high hopes for the success of this show. His videos remind me that dancing isn't always about having the sharpest moves, but about giving it your all and having fun on the dance floor. Being able to say I helped in the first episode of his show and the chance to see myself and people close to me on the television screen is just a tremendous bonus.
And, if someone has time, I know of a manager at an anime convention in Baltimore that would like Nathan to be a guest and do his best to create Apicary-style havoc.
I wish them the best.
Sony has just announced a Playstation 3 Super Slim. Looking like a cross between the original dome model and the slim, the system is 20 percent smaller and 25 percent lighter. The system is top loading via a sliding door panel and has lower power consumption. The system’s dropping soon in a 250 Gig Uncharted 3 Bundle for $269.99 and a 500 Gig Assassin’s Creed 3 Bundle for $299.99.
Isn’t there already a PS3 slim? Just slimmer I guess. Where the heck did that come from? Recently the video game community has had a series of plot turns that make Law and Order look like TJ Hooker. Bayonetta 2 is a Wii U exclusive, check. Wii U launch date, price point, and games, check. Playstation 3 Super Slim, say what? I feel like I’m jumping on a soapbox again but if no one else is going to say anything, I will.
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We are no strangers to console rereleases. Nintendo is the reigning king. Manufacturing cost get cheaper, chip sizes change, and flawed designs can be corrected. We've seen variations of the Genesis, SNES, PS1, PS2 (necessary), and now the PS3 twice.
The original was rather large and bulky where the slim was a nice non-obtrusive design minus the extra USB ports and card slots. Most of the other reinventions happened at the end of the console cycle to offer cheaper alternatives for consumers. I’m not sure if releasing a super slim is going to help Sony in the long run.
Just the other day I was talking with someone about why Sony had such a hard time selling the PS3. The reason is the PS2. There was a point where Microsoft announced that there would be no more Xbox releases past a certain date because all of its in house studios where concentrating on the 360. The next gen systems were arriving soon and they in essence told consumers if they wanted to play the new cool games they had to move forward. It was kind of funny to see the only new game being released was Madden from EA, but that’s another story.
A year later when Sony released the PS3, they were still making PS2’s and software. Developers had a larger PS2 install base and just graphically upgraded ports of their PS2 games without fully taking advantage of the new systems.
People who didn’t want to spend the money on the new systems were being offered a cheap PS2 and years of cheap software. Why did they have a reason to move forward when new games were still coming out? If Sony sells a new version of the PS3 in an attempt to add to their customer base 6 years into the cycle, they create a consumer who will not buy the PS4 when it releases in 2013/14 because they just bought into dated hardware.
Those of us that do invest in the new systems and support the game companies will have to wait to get the quality software instead of ports available at launch. Laziness like this hurt the Dreamcast when it was on the market. I know that companies want to play their cards close concerning future consoles but not letting the public know what your next step is for the purpose of making an extra dollar is deceiving. It stunts the growth of the industry and causes distrust. Sega sold Dreamcast through the holiday season after being asked about support for the system only to pull the plug in February. As much as I love the system, it was a bitter pill and lie I still find hard to swallow.
The Playstation 2 is one of the most successful systems ever and people are still buying them. Sometimes you have to steer the public in the right direction by limiting their choices. We don’t need a PS3 Super Slim; we need excellent games and exciting new properties. If Watchdogs and Star Wars 1313 are any indication of what’s to come with the added processing power of the new systems, then I’m all for them. Sony asking people to invest money into a version of their system that doesn’t do anything to advance or expand what’s already available doesn’t jive. Especially when they’re offering less than my 60 GB which is just backwards and not backwards compatible.
- Jason R. Clark
I have been playing video games for a long time. There were long nights of Combat and Indy 500 over my friend Eric’s house during sleepovers. The Crazy 8’s arcade was our Saturday destination with a ten dollar roll of quarters. One of the greatest Christmas’ ever was when we got a Colecovision, and I had to hook it up because my dad couldn’t figure it out. Many companies and systems have come and gone but Nintendo remains. It's a company that’s an enigma in business plans, marketing, and development. With the recent unveiling of the Wii U, consumers may have finally caught on to Nintendo’s act of false promises, high expectations, and under delivering. I am not the Nintendo hater I’m accused of being but everyone has to acknowledge when they’ve been misled. I think I’ve pinpointed where things went wrong. Nintendo of America’s Reggie Fils-Amie’s antics were never met with any real fruition, except igniting the energy of the moment and fizzling as forgotten promises.
Nintendo was a company that spearheaded the revival of video games after the crash in the 80’s. Many of the classic games of yesterday were introduced to American audiences on the NES. Game companies including Nintendo themselves introducing new characters and adventures (IP’s). Game mechanics and originality were at an all time high. Who would have thought Duck Tales would be such a good game? With the Sega Master System playing second to the NES, developers would release a myriad of titles during the 8-bit run.
The 16-bit era ushered in a plethora of hit games and was a fight akin to the thrilla’ in manilla’ while Sega and Nintendo duked it out for dominance. Video gaming popularity grew and was no longer considered a children’s past time. Developer’s themes, RPG’s, and fighters matured with the gamers. This is where things start to wobble.
A development dispute led to Sony releasing a CD system that they originally made for Nintendo. The company faced some flack when it announced the N64 would be a cartridge based system instead of the CD format that Sega and other companies were moving onto. Even though the system was 64-bits, the 32-bit Saturn and Playstation seemed more powerful due to the storage, sound, and processing capabilities gained by the CD format. Quality over quantity was one of the quotes made by Nintendo during this period. In the beginning the quality was indeed high. Hits like Super Mario 64, Wave Race with its’ water physics, Pilotwings, and Mario Kart 64. Nintendo as a developer was taking chances making and supporting ground breaking titles and new IP’s. There was Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, Turock, and even Chameleon Twist on the system but Pokémon quickly worked into place as a major money maker for the company. We saw the releases of Pokémon Snap, Pokémon Stadium, and multiple Game Boy and Game Boy Advance sequels. There was the e-card reader, link cables, and Pokémon themed and shaped systems complete with Pikachu glowing cheeks. Before anyone mentions it, the Donkey Kong systems don’t count. It was just clear colored plastic. The brand started to appeal to a younger demographic and Nintendo steered its focus in that direction. Soon we had many Mario Parties, Mario Golf, Mario Tennis and Nintendo left the busy work to developer RARE. Those of you with a fondness for Pokémon should look past the nostalgia.
I feel that the GameCube is Nintendo’s least successful system. It had the shortest lifespan and didn’t deliver as promised. The proprietary mini disc caused games to be broken onto pieces. A less than stellar Mario title (Sunshine), and countless kid friendly Mario Parties, Mario Baseball, Mario Basketball, I think you get it. Let’s not forget Pokémon Coliseum. For every highlight like Eternal Darkness and Viewtiful Joe you had a bongo and microphone. It was a library of Playstation 2, Xbox, and even Dreamcast ports.
The Wii has been a phenomenal success in sales and saturation. Although attempted in the past, motion control has never been so successfully integrated in the gaming structure. People that had no interest in gaming before were on waiting list to buy a Wii system. I spent a memorable Thanksgiving playing Wii bowling with my father. A man whose video game pedigree is a hand held LCD Wheel of Fortune.
With the run away Wii sales went the quality of the software available for the system as countless companies saw it as their cash cow. They “shoveled” old software onto the system and added motion controls. One company even went so far as to dig up old PC learning software to re-release. Nintendo even re-released some of their own titles with “Play Action” control. The company hardly explored new IP’s although it released some creative sequels and ended not importing their best titles.
Reggie Fils-Aime who was hired previous to the Wii’s release bull dogged his way through press conferences and conventions. He was the new face of Nintendo, who was supposed to show the world that Nintendo gamers were tough/hip guys and girls that demanded to be heard. I always thought Reggie was trying too hard. I remember sitting at a conference listening to Reggie boast about the awesomeness of the new Mario Kart and promised games that to this day haven’t come out. He fueled the fire of Nintendo fans that believed their system could contend with the others. Many Wii early adopters abandoned the system when the deluge of software didn’t meet anyone’s standards and there were better games elsewhere.
We now find ourselves nearing the release of the Wii U. Rumors are running rampant about its technical inferiority to the yet to be released offerings by other companies. This was somewhat excepted with the Wii but it’s a harder pill to swallow the second time around. Companies are supposed to learn from their past, but Nintendo has shrouded their shortcomings in talks of innovation. The touch screen shows a tremendous potential but the alternative Wii remote control option gives the illusion of a HD updated Wii. This sparks visions of a stand alone Sega 32x for those of you that remember. When Nintendo first announced the system at E3 last year our good friend Reggie told us how the Wii U was going to be a gamers’ console. We were led to believe that a high quality library was going to supersede any past gimmicks of the Wii. They showed us Darksiders 2, Mass effect 3, Aliens, and let imaginations run wild that the company may be taking steps forward.
This E3 revealed a Mario title that looked great as usual, a shiny Pikmin sequel, and Nintendoland (a Wii Sports knock off). I’m sure given the touch screen a new Mario Party and Warioware is on the way along with Ubisoft’s Just Dance, Scribblenauts, and Zombie U. Gone is the talk of a gamers’ machine and we are back to highlighting family and social integration. I didn’t forget what you said Reggie and I’m no longer the only one calling your bluff. The company will always produce quality Zelda, Kirby, and Mario Karts. Some will argue that Microsoft has 5 Halo titles, but for every Halo there was a Voodoo Vince, Brute Force, Crimson Skies, and Kameo. If Nintendo doesn’t want to put the time and energy into something new, then acquire a company that will. Even though there is no longer a “video game war” between the companies, there are too many alternatives for a gamer to just accept what a company decides to give them. Hearing the phrase “you all know and love” from a company makes my eyes roll. It’s just another catch phrase for “again”.
A company’s mission should be to please the gamer first and foremost. To please anyone else is beyond the scope of the game and Nintendo’s last chance effort of networking and social integration ring similar to the Wii’s water downed tone. The hardcore gaming contingent won’t be satisfied being offered already released Batman, Mass Effect 3, and Darksiders 2 while Nintendo chooses not to develop something new for their own system.
The smoke is finally clearing and what we see is a company that’s living in a shadow of its past. Hoping to recreate success with known hits but doing little to advance the medium it’s responsible for reviving. On the other hand, its quality titles and touch screen control show glimmers of a company riding the edge of greatness. I can’t figure out the direction or logic in some of their decisions so I have to come to my own conclusions. I will not be buying a Wii U for many reasons and false promises. I guess Reggie forgot about that ground breaking heart monitor. It was truly ground breaking just not ground breaking game playing.
- Jason R. Clark
A response to “Booth Babes Need Not Apply” and “The Response To The Response To My "Booth Babes" Piece On CNN.”
While going through my Facebook feed, someone posted a link to a surprising article titled “Booth Babes Need Not Apply” posted on CNN’s Geek Out
blog. Frankly, the article made my head spin. I had discussed with Anthony about forming a response to this, and in my research, I found a follow-up article on the writer’s website titled “The Response to the Response to my ‘Booth Babes’ Piece on CNN.”
Now, to discuss this, I want you to have everything in the proper context, so please go ahead and read the articles before going on with my response and feelings on this.
Please. I’ll wait…
… ... ...
Well, I’m sure you read that he apologized in his view on at least the Frag Dolls
. That was well warranted.
Personally, I think this guy is dead wrong on his views. He, and those that agree with him, think that girls who show up to conventions without an intimate knowledge of geek culture have no business being there. I can’t say how insulting I find that as someone who’s been a geek for 31 of my 35 years of existence.
Let’s start with his strange complaints about Olivia Munn. I seriously doubt she walked into an office at G4TV and yelled, “The job you’re advertising is MINE! ALL MINE! A HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!” It’s very likely she did an interview, just like many other actresses and entertainers for the job. Why was she the one picked? I don’t know, but I can say that the decision to pick her was probably up to some suit who thought she’d be good for the show. She has since moved on to stints on the “Daily Show” and is currently on the HBO series “Newsroom.” Who cares if she isn’t what he defines as a geek. She isn’t clinging onto the culture like some useless barnacle. She did what was asked of her and moved on.
Secondly, I do think it’s true that there are more people in costume that don’t have an interest in the culture. They may be body free people whose prospects are low and have created or worked on websites where they are nude or nearly nude. But at the same time, why is that terrible? I’m not yelling that everyone should view the nudies or that it’s terrific, but they’re presenting themselves on the Internet. THE INTERNET! It’s more likely for them to generate an income dressing up as something associated with the geek culture rather than dressing up as politicians, judges, or lawyers. They’ve picked an image fitting the medium they’re advertising in.
Third, what’s terrible about attracting women who don’t understand the culture? The writer has no idea what attracts women to these events. Perhaps some enjoy costuming in general. More still may have been brought by friends to dress up as a character to fill out a group and were invited to stay for the rest of the convention (which I have done myself). There’s even more that could be trying out a new convention. It’s not unheard of for an anime fan to go to a comic convention to see the differences and vice versa. Still others could be going to support their boyfriend's or girlfriend's hobby. They don't get it, but they're in love and want to enjoy a day with their partner. No matter their reason, if they’re new to what this man thinks is “geek culture,” shouldn’t we be the charitable ones and showing new people how geek culture works, circulates, and interacts? According to him, no. They need to be ostracized. He and others would rather use the me-only attitude that was used in popular circles in high school.
In that vein, why are booth babes bad? Yes, they’re a tool for marketing, but they’re a tool used effectively for the events in which they’re presented. They were hired to do a job, not to have the Guidebook of the Marvel Universe on hand to answer all questions. I don’t expect models at a car show to give me the cubic footage of storage in a Ford Explorer, nor do I expect a fashion model to tell me what stitching was used in the dress she wears on the catwalk. Some of them may not have a great idea of what they’re promoting, but again, if given the right influences, they may be interested in learning more.
The writer goes on to say that he hates what he calls “poachers”:
“They’re poachers. They’re a pox on our culture. As a guy, I find it repugnant that, due to my interests in comic books, sci-fi, fantasy and role playing games, video games, and toys, I am supposed to feel honored that a pretty girl is in my presence. It’s insulting.”
So, why do you feel that you’re supposed to be honored? Last I checked, no one is obligated to have a conversation with anyone. The girl hasn’t bought your time, and you haven’t bought hers. Just because she’s there, doesn’t mean she’s there just to get in YOUR good graces. Is it really that hard to believe she wants to have some fun?
Does she want some attention? That’s certainly possible, but the flaw in your argument is that cosplayers on a whole want attention. Speaking as one, we tend to have a wanting of attention. We dress in elaborate costumes in the hopes of having a picture taken. We don’t want to put forth that much effort without some sort of acknowledgement of what we’ve attempted. Let these ladies have their moment.
The writer even goes on in his apology to say he’s seen women stand around in skimpy costumes of characters he hasn’t seen before waiting for attention. I’m not of the mind that this person has the entire encyclopedia of Marvel, DC, Funimation, Emotion, CLAMP, Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, V, Camelot, etc. characters all the way back to the 1930's memorized and can recite them at will. There are also the people that dress in original variations of characters, or original characters based on their personal writings or video game creations. I have more characters than I can fit on all 20 fingers and toes just in my time playing City of Heroes, and all are original creations of mine.
In my own research, I found the definition of geek online. Check this out:
GEEK – noun /gēk/
1. An unfashionable or socially inept person
2. A person with an eccentric devotion to a particular interest - a computer geek
3. A carnival performer who does wild or disgusting acts
Let’s go ahead and admit that Definition #1 is the stereotypical version of a geek. Definition #3 is a version that really doesn’t exist much these days and isn’t applicable to the conversation.
Definition #2, however… Let’s see that again:
2. A person with an eccentric devotion to a particular interest
Well, that would mean that these ladies, even though they’re not gaming, anime, comic book, or science fiction geeks, they’re likely to be geeks over music, dramas, writing, contemporary art, poetry, animals, or one of many other subjects.
Here’s an idea. We could TALK to these women and possibly learn something new! I’m a political centrist, but I can still stand to talk to well-informed members of liberal and conservative parties to get more information to form an opinion. The same applies to the nerd-standard hobbies and interests. I’m learning more about Doctor Who every day.
This weekend on Twtich TV's TeamSpooky channel was airing ECT4, and was one of the best tournaments I have watched in a long time. Now I have to first say, I been in this Fighting Game Community for about over a year, and I can't say how previous East Coast Throw downs were compared to this years. I will say though, this past weekend's competition at ECT, was very high level. There were many moments in this tournament that I vividly remember in the past 24 hours. For instance, Fanatiq and Ray Ray's money match, Mike Ross beating Sanford in Street Fighter, Ricky Ortiz playing way in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and much more. Here are some of the highlights of what happen this past weekend.
The King is dethrone
Mike Ross vs.Sandord Kelly
Now this was a shocker. For those who don't know, Mike Ross for the past several years have been seen more as a host of the show he does on Cross Counter TV rather then an actual player. In the past he was a high level player in Street Fighter using E.Honda. He does well but not at the level he used to be years ago. So this year's ECT he attended, he showed that he wasn't just hosting a show he does, but hes been grinding it out on Street Fighter. Sanford Kelly is a Sagat player and is often at New York's weekly event called the Big Two. Hes always won there in Street Fighter and is a really good player all around for years. So when Mike Ross came to ECT4 and beat Sanford Kelly, it was a shocker. Even the crowd behind him were getting hype of Mike Ross was doing. Most of the Street Fighter matches were great, except for the grand finals where it was a Rufus mirror match between Evil Genius Justin Wong vs. Evil Genius Ricky Ortiz.
Don't celebrate too early...
Filipino Champ vs. SmoothViper
While Mike Ross beats Sanford Kelly in Street Fighter was a hype match, there were plenty of good moments in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. There are so many, one of which is the match between Filipino Champ vs. Smoothviper. Both are really good players, but in between matches whenever SmoothViper would win a match he would yell in front of Champ's face, look at the crowd, and jump up and down. This is textbook pop off to the highest degree, and the crowd was loving every moment. But if there is one lesson to be told here, is that finish your game before popping off or else it will come back to haunt you, and thats what exactly happen. Filipino Champ came back to beat SmoothViper in this set and then did his own pop off after shaking SmoothViper's hand. Goes to show you, don't celebrate too early.
Everything goes with Guile
Dieminion vs. Gridman
In the fighting game community Dieminion is known to only play Guile in Street Fighter all the time. He never chooses other characters or if he does, it's for fun and not serous competition. So during the Street Fighter tournament at ECT4, when he first chose E.Honda in this match, people were confused and shocked. The reason why he felt like he needed to pull out his pocket E.Honda, is that Viper vs. Guile match up favors Viper over Guile. From watching Gridman's Viper in action, he was pulling off combos and hits that would rival other top Viper players in the United States. Surprisingly Dieminion's effort in choosing E.Honda actually worked and won his first match, but came back down to earth when he lose his 2nd match to Gridman. So he went back to character select and picked his old bread and butter, Guile. He managed to gut it out with a great comeback at the end. This got the entire crowd hyped and screaming when Dieminion won, even the commentators were excited to see Dieminion make the comeback.
The Return of She Hulk
Combofiend vs. Chris G
Recently Combofiend has gone ditched his new team for his old team he used to play in the original Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The team consisted of She Hulk, Taskmaster, and Spencer. Most people know Combofiend for his Spencer come backs and outstanding play, but having to face Chris G in the tournament was not easy. Chris G has been recently known for using his Morrigan team. Chris G has invited a way to use Morrigan backed up with Dr. Doom's missiles, as well as Akuma's assist to make this time the ultimate keep away team. The main strategy for Chris G was to spam as much fireballs with Morrigan, spam as much missiles with Dr. Droom, and occasionally use Akuma's assist now and then if not for his anchor quality. It was great set and both players played at a very high level, showing off new stuff no one as seen or stuff that just blew people's mind away. In the end Combofiend came out on top but never the less this was a great showing from both players.
Marlinepie vs. Filipino champ
Not too long ago these two players fought each other in Australia at Shadowloo Showdown in in the grand finals. Shadowloo Showdown had its top players in that tournament and both Marlinpie and Filipino Champ came out on top to face each other in the grand finals. Last time these two played Marlinpie beat Champ soundly in the finals. Champ didn't have an answer for Marlinpie's play in that grand finals and end up losing to him. When they both met again in the Marvel tournament at ECT4 it was a rematch of what happen last time they guys met. They have the most respect for each other, but played their hearts out to once again see who is better. In the end Filipino Champ won. I can't wait to see these two square off again in the near future.
The Undercard Money Match
OMGitsAndre vs. Unkown
This was one of the hypest money matches people were waiting for during ECT4. These players legitimately hate each other guts and want to take each other out in marvel. So leading up to ECT4 they agreed to money match each other for a good sum of money in a first to 10 match. It went back and forth in the entire set. In this match what most people know about OMGitsAndre is that he tends to drop his combos a lot. If he were to handle his combos right people have said that he would be a very good player next to the Noel Browns and or Chris Gs of the fighting game community. Unknown is not a slouch himself. He proved to be a very good player in the last major he was in. So between these two both put on a great showing of Marvel high level play. During this set, there was a mistake made that was only corrected a day later. The count from set is 10 to 9 Unknown, but they miscounted and found out that OMGitsAndre won the set 10-2. Not sure what will happen for the money Andre lost, but these two want to go at it again in the very near future. The pop off afterwards...
Money Match of the Century
Fanatiq vs. Ray Ray
If the Unkown vs. OMGitsAndre match was hype, that was only the under card to the main event. The main event of the night was a money match between Fanatiq vs. Ray Ray. This has a lot of history between these two, but they have a bit more respect for each other. It all started by another player saying Fanatiq has the best Magneto in the fighting game community. Now everyone has their own opinion but some players don't agree with some statements. Even some players like Ray Ray. So Ray Ray started talking garbage to Fanatiq about who has the best Magneto and then eventually it got so heated that they want to prove it on the big stage somehow. So at ECT4 they organized one of the biggest money matches ever to be shown on stream in a long time. This money match was going up to 2,000 dollars between the both of them. Very Very high stakes were in this match to being the best Magneto and to the victor a good chunk of change to take home with him. In the end Fanatiq beats Ray Ray 15 to 5. Many felt sad for Ray Ray, but the tournament wasn't over as the next day Ray Ray displayed the best run back he had ever shown in his video game life.
The Ray of Hope
Ray Ray's Runback
As you saw in the previous video, Ray Ray was dominated by Fanatiq in the first to 15 money match held Saturday night of ECT4. So the next day in the Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 tournament, Ray Ray displayed the most sickest comeback ever shown by any player. Being destroyed in the money match, he came back with a vengeance the next day and showed everyone he can play a lot better. Not only was he making a great run back and showing people hes not a fraud, but also was the last remaining east coast player in the tournament. Making great choices in his matches and beating some of west coast finest like Combofiend, Marlinepie, and Filipino Champ. It was something I never saw in my life. Sadly, Ray Ray almost made it to the grand finals to face the man who destroyed him Saturday night. That's right. Fanatiq was in grand finals waiting for his next opponent and Ray Ray was making the runback of his life to possibly rematching him. Sadly, he lost to Justin Wong in the loser finals, and we didn't get to see the rematch, but Ray Ray did show the best run back any of us have seen in a very long time.
Overall I really enjoyed watching ECT4 over the weekend and wished I was only there in person. I can't wait for next year's ECT and hope the hype continues for years to come. Thank LI Joe for putting this one for us!