Nobody who knows me in real life, or who even reads this site for more than a few minutes, could possibly use the word “sunshine” to describe me, except sarcastically. Even so, I have to thank Red Metal of Extra Life for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. As part of this nomination, Red Metal put eleven questions to me and the other nominees, which I’ve done my best to answer below. If any of my answers seem like cop-outs, rest assured that that is completely intentional.
1) In which cases would you deem the manga superior to the anime on which it’s based?
Mahjong Legend Akagi is still near the top of the list of my favorite anime series, but the manga is better if only for the fact that it’s continuing to tell the story of Akagi’s mahjong deathmatch (a literal deathmatch) with the insane billionaire Washizu, while the anime had to cut the story off partway through… because the damn manga wasn’t done yet. More generally, I’d say any work that goes through what TV Tropes calls “adaptation decay” falls in this category. I’m not a big manga reader, though. I can definitely say that anime series based on video games usually are not as good as their source material.
2) Which game do you feel has the best soundtrack?
There are a lot of great game soundtracks out there, so it’s hard for me to pin down one that’s the best. I’ll cheat here and say NieR:Gestalt/Replicant and NieR:Automata together. The two soundtracks do have some thematic links, just like their respective games, so I think it works to lump them together. Everything about these soundtracks is amazing. In different parts they’re delicate and emotional, sweeping and operatic, powerful, crushing… well, I can’t really do it justice with words, so you should just listen to the music. You can find most or all of their contents on Youtube, though they’re both well worth a buy.
As a pair of very close runners-up, I’ll put up the Persona and Ar tonelico series.
3) If you could revive a dead video games series, which one would you choose?
No need to even think about this one – Skies of Arcadia. Since there was only one Skies of Arcadia game (I’m not counting the Gamecube remaster) it’s not exactly a series, but I’d love to see a sequel, even though the chances of that happening now are lower than the chances of my winning the Powerball.
4) What game/film/album/book did you have a particularly difficult time adding to your collection?
I really had to dig around for a physical copy of a single album by Tokyo Active NEETs. They’re a doujin music group based in Tokyo (obvious I guess) and their stuff typically has to be imported, if it’s even available for sale online.
Same goes for any limited-release physical copy of an album I want. I was very happy to get the CD release of Moe Shop’s Moe Moe EP, even though I had to import it from Japan. The damn thing sold out in a few hours. It’s probably stupid that I’m into collecting physical copies of albums, games, and books, but there’s always the chance that a Carrington Event could happen and melt worldwide electrical grids and damage equipment, and there go your precious mp3 files.
5) Do you prefer to see a film at home or in the theaters?
When my depression is tamped down enough to get me out of the house on a weekend, I’ve always enjoyed going to the theater. Even if the movie turns out to be lousy, it can still be a good time if I’m with friends, especially if it’s a “funny bad” kind of movie. When I’m at home, I prefer to play games.
6) In what cases did you find yourself siding with critics over fans about a work’s quality?
This is a hard one. I guess I like some of the 80s pop stuff created by formerly ultra-artsy prog-rock bands like Yes and Genesis that’s praised by critics but shunned by a lot of hardcore fans (Yes a lot more, honestly – 90125 is a legit good album.) This answer is one of my cop-outs, though, because I like most of their 70s prog work a lot more than their 80s work, and Genesis was total crap from Invisible Touch until they broke up. Just listen to a Phil Collins solo album and you’ll get the idea. (Better still, don’t.)
7) In what cases did you find yourself siding with fans over critics about a work’s quality?
The Sonic Adventure games. I haven’t reviewed either of them here, though I did take a look at a related soundtrack a while back in which I called them a mixed bag. I still feel that way, but on balance I do have a lot of fun playing them, especially Sonic Adventure 2. No, they’re not perfect games by any means; yes, they do have absolutely stupid plots that make no sense (especially SA2.) But they don’t deserve the evisceration they get from critics today.
More generally, I side with Sonic fans about the series’ quality for the first ten years of its run, and I’ll fight tooth and nail with critics who claim that Sonic has “never been good.” Sure, there have been plenty of mediocre to poor Sonic games, but that’s no reason to paint them all with the same brush. The Genesis games are still absolute classics.
8) What is the most difficult game you’ve completed?
In terms of cheapness factor, probably Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, though there may be a few old RPGs I played that I’m forgetting about. Nocturne features a lot of old-school difficulty in the sense that it almost never holds your hand or tells you what’s coming next. SMT: Strange Journey is even more difficult, despite the fact that it lets you save almost anywhere – but I’m ashamed to say I have not beaten it yet. YHVH damn you, Mem Aleph.
9) Which game series have you been following for the longest amount of time?
The two series I still follow religiously are Megami Tensei (starting with Persona 3 in 2006) and Disgaea (starting with Disgaea: Hour of Darkness all the way back in 2003.) In a broader sense, I’ve been following the Mario and Sonic series for longer than either of those, but I’m not an ultra-dedicated fan of either, not even of Sonic, despite all the praise I was heaping on the Genesis games up in answer #7. I still follow Megami Tensei for the variety of gameplay and stories the series offers, from the crushing existentialist terror of Strange Journey to the schlocky fanservice of Persona 4: Dancing All Night and the Arena games, and Disgaea for the characters and the insane level of post-game content available in every game in the series.
10) In what ways do you feel video game critics to be ahead of their film-loving counterparts?
If we’re talking professional video game critics/journalists, I certainly have my problems with them, but I do think they tend to be more in tune with the tastes of the consumer. A lot of it comes down to the distinction between high and popular art that I consider totally artificial. There’s good art and bad art (of course, these definitions are subjective) but how do you draw a clear line between “high” and “low” art? Good art is good art, no matter what other labels you care to hang on it. PC and video games are still a young medium, a medium that’s looked down upon by many critics of other media. So I think a lot of video game critics don’t make that same high/low distinction with games that critics of film, music, theater, etc. make.
As the medium continues to “mature”, though, I think that will change. We’ve already been seeing this with pieces by game critics calling certain kinds of games “unacceptable” and “immature”. If maturity means that PC and video games generally become more mainstream, corporate, and safe, I think I prefer immaturity. But nobody asks me what I prefer when it comes to video games or anything else in the world.
11) How does hype factor into how you ultimately feel about a work?
I’d like to say it doesn’t, but that wouldn’t be true. When a game turns out to be less than expected in quality, I’m more disappointed according to the level of hype the game was receiving beforehand. Mighty No. 9 is a good example. I did not give a single flying fuck about all the drama surrounding the community manager genderbending the main character in fanart or whatever that controversy was about, but I ended up disliking the game anyway because it wasn’t that great in terms of level design and control, and I think the game probably received more hate than it deserved just because expectations were so high at the outset. As I get older, I grow more cynical, though, so I don’t buy into hype quite like I used to.
I held up my end of the bargain. Now here are my questions. Almost everything I write about on this site is on games and music, but I tried to keep my questions open to fans of all kinds of media.
1) What’s your favorite or most-used medium for entertainment?
2) What character in a work of fiction would you inhabit and why? (Assuming you’re experiencing the entire storyline of the game/novel/film/whatever as this character.)
3) What work would you wipe all memories of from your brain if you could so that you could experience it all over again?
4) What’s the most annoying trend occurring in your favorite medium today?
5) What’s the most promising trend occurring in your favorite medium today?
6) How much or how little romance do you like in your games/films/novels/etc.?
7) If you had to be the ruler of one country in any work of fiction, which one would you pick?
8) Do you think virtual reality will improve anytime in the near future to the extent that it’s actually worth using? Or are we already at that point?
9) I’ve heard people say that the novel is a dying form of art and that changes in attention span length and the constant multitasking our generation is involved in will make them obsolete. If you have an opinion on that matter, do you agree or disagree?
10) Are you optimistic about the future of the human race?
11) Cake or pie? (There’s only one right answer.)
And here are the 11 (edit: 12. I can’t count.) people/sites I’m tagging. Yeah, for once I’m following the rules of the game. If you’ve already been tagged, or doing this kind of thing just isn’t your style, feel free to ignore my questions. Of course, anyone else is also free to take part if they feel like it.