Stealing From the Next Generation

Red Priest Rezo

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Feb 6, 2009
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No. No, no, no, no. NO. It's not rare that I'm disagreeing with you, but now you a just WRONG. And I'm not talking about the article itself - I'm talking about this part:
I'm awaiting my copy of Super Mario Galaxy 2 right now. In the broad strokes, Mario hasn't changed much since I first met him in 1986. What if he had? What if his face was just a bit more grim, Bowser just a bit more threatening, Princess Peach a bit more affectionate? I dunno. Might make a nice comic. Or a spinoff, even. Maybe. But as the Mario? No. It would be a betrayal of what he'd meant to me in the first place; and it'd be selfish of me to try and keep him for myself and deprive the next kid who hasn't found him yet. Especially for a stupid reason like "I don't want people looking at me weird when I ask for it at the store."
I've just played through 120 stars of Galaxy 2 and it's been long since the last time I was pissed off by a game that much. The reason? They dumbed it down YET AGAIN. Galaxy-1 was the closest Mario game has ever made it to having an awesome, compelling story. Yes, it still suffered because of the stupid and totally unnecessary Bowser-Peach bullshit that was thrown there only so fanboys won't start crying about their childhoods. Still, Rosalina was the first compelling character in the Marioverse EVER, The Book was so awesome I almost cried while reading it (and ever since I still feel that way every time I hear THAT music), and the whole story really looked like an epic adventure to save the Universe. It was awesome, and it would really be perfect if the villain wasn?t as pathetic as? hell, I can?t even come out with a proper analogy for Bowser?s uselessness? and if ?the special one? wasn?t a cardboard cutout made out of a dumbest cardboard in the world.

So, yeah. What they did in Galaxy 2? They threw away everything good that Galaxy 1 made, and doubled the Bowser-Peach bullshit. Just? WOW. They really think that their audience is so dumb they can?t even read a sad book? Well, I?ve never really been a Nin-fanboy, so I don?t know, maybe they?re right?.. But what I can say is that ?and it'd be selfish of me to try and keep him for myself and deprive the next kid who hasn't found him yet? is bullshit. You know why? Because they were different when we found them.

Bowser in SMB-1 was FUCKING SCARY. He lived in a grey castle with so much fire it looked like he is the ruler of hell himself. He was covered in spikes. And he had so many hammers it was really frightening. He was The Villain. And we, being kids, loved and hated him for that.

And Peach? She also wasn?t a dumb inconsiderate ***** that makes people want to kill her every time she opens her mouth to make her ?cute? noise. No, she was a Princess, a girl worthy enough to travel through hell and back to save her. We haven?t seen her all that much, so all we knew is that ?hell, she must be awesome, if Mario wants to save her THAT much?. For all we knew, she might?ve fucked Mario?s brains out the very second game ended, Right there, in Bowser?s castle, right on his still warm body. And I?m not saying that she did ? but she could have. Because she wasn?t yet turned into a dumb cake-eating trophy.

So, here is what I?m trying to say. Should be Bowser just a bit more threatening? YES. Should Princess Peach a bit more affectionate? HELL YEAH. Will it ruin Mario for potential new kids? FUCK NO. Kids are not that dumb. They can handle evil that is more threatening than a pencil sharpener. And they can handle heroines, that know what a kiss is, like to be a little sexy and most importantly ? have, you know, personalities. Want proof? Almost every good Disney or Pixar movie is a proof. And Ratchet. And Psychonauts. And Looney Tunes. And lots and lots other things that are made for children, but not for dummies.
 

Hexenwolf

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NeutralDrow said:
Can't really say I disagree with any of this...although I did find that opening bit hilarious once I figured out what it was leading to.

Elesar said:
1) Aiming a story at children is going to restrict your art. Are Wall-E and Up good films? Fuck yes, I loved them. Will they ever have as much brilliance and meaning oh what are my top 3 adult films, say Godfather, Blade Runner or A Clockwork Orange? No, never.
Why not?
Actually, yeah, why not? Wall-E and Up had quite a lot of genuine human drama, and a fair bit of meaning. If you had used, say The Little Mermaid, perhaps I would have agreed. Really, making something for children doesn't restrict it as much as you think, because if it is made for children, and made intelligently, it is possible for everyone to relate, because everyone was a child once. For example, The Little Prince. You can't argue that that story is lacking in meaning.
 

Manji187

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Jan 29, 2009
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Jiki said:
It saddens me what is counted as maturity.
Yeah... is this really what it means for games to grow up? Damn, this way gaming is doomed to remain a teen forever and gaming won't have its Moonlight Sonata or Anna Karenina or Citizen Kane...
 

veloper

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Jan 20, 2009
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Bob uses the wrong definition of hardcore.

If you look at Nintendo and at casual online pc games, happy brightly colored games are very common. I don't think there's any danger of this style disappearing.

If the industry don't appeal to kiddies, or rather not make the games that adults would want to buy for their kids, it loses potential future customers to get hooked on gaming.
Games suitable for kids (and adults too) is Nintendo's greatest contribution to the hobby. Nintendo also make alot of money doing what they do, so no worries.

At 16+ dark grim scenarios is what many gamers apparently want to see. This isn't hardcore. Just the fluff surrounding the actual game, which is usually too easy nowadays.
 

Biosophilogical

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Just FYI, I'd totally play that pokemon game, and I want that murderous pikachu doll to put in my room. But yes, I don't like the way industry has turned from "Let's make fun stuff" to "Let's mass produce FPS and 'dark and gritty' because it will make u filthy rich"

Then again, I may be a minority, what with my sense of childish wonder and a level of maturity that enables me to be immature in a mature fashion.
 

ObsessiveSketch

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I was born too late to really be affected by the grim 'n' gritty transformation. The fad blew over as soon as I was starting to be interested in the mediums it had infested.

To me, nostalgia-goggles are not only far more common, but more justified.

...the emotions behind them, that is. Not necessarily the arguments.
 

sszebra

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Mar 20, 2010
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I disagree, kind of. My childhood memories of fiction were always better when they weren't dumbed down for me. I loved cartoons like Batman the animated series because they usually were darker and more interesting. Instead of the typical cartoons of the generation that were riddled with unnecessary censorship and propaganda.
 

Superior Mind

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Feb 9, 2009
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Fair point. Some things remain unchanged though. I for one am looking forward to Toy Story 3. My seven year-old self is cackling with glee.
 

HappyDD

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Jul 14, 2009
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Wicked article MB.

O ya, and what is all this about the Watchmen character name change business? They had other names before, that were more gritty? Someone fill me in so I don't look like a total loser next time I try to talk to comic people.
 

TheRocketeer

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Dec 24, 2009
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MovieBob, I notice you mention The Venture Brothers. Are you a fan?

I think it's one of the most brilliantly-written shows on television, and it's tended only to get better as it has developed. It's one of two shows on TV I'd honestly claim to be a fan of.
 

For.I.Am.Mad

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May 8, 2010
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I...agree with MovieBob? Hey, I got a perfect example of what you're talking about. Brightest Day. Jesus H Christ, dude gruesomely beats his/her family to death. Black Manta kills 3 people because the TV 'mentions' Aquaman, the hell? OK, I get it, these guys are bad guys. In fact DC writing is getting creepier and weirder by the day.
 

solidstatemind

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Nov 9, 2008
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I think a lot of you are missing the point with your 'Bob bashing the hardcore again...' accusations. I saw nothing in the article where he said that Hardcore was stupid or whatnot, what I got out of it was, in essence: "it sucks that so many established franchises are being redone to be made dark and gritty and more mature, just because the producers are trying to target a specific demographic."

Bob has mentioned before that 'the Godfather' is in his pantheon of 'best movies', I believe. I'm sure he likes the classics such as 'Clockwork Orange' just fine, but what he appears to be ranting about is what I mentioned above.

I happen to agree with him. I have certain childhood memories that I do not wish to see 'updated' or 'rebooted' or 'evolved' or however the execs who want to jam their hands back in my wallet would like to label it. I like to be able to return to those things and have them the same, so that, for just a moment, I can hopefully experience a world where Saturdays mean eating super-sugary cereal and then entering into an almost trance-like state while watching cartoons, instead of meaning chores, yardwork, paying bills, and all the other responsibilities of adulthood.

Now, this is not to say that all reimaginings are evil: for example, it made a lot of sense to explore the dark side of Batman, since the character, if you stop to think about it, is as crazy as a shithouse rat. But the success of the more mature-themed Batman seems to have spawned a trend-- a cynical money-grab, really-- of making other franchises 'grittier' and 'mature', just for the sake of appealing to a now-older audience, whether or not it makes sense for that franchise... and this is not a good thing, at least to me and Bob.

but to leave on a lighter note: wallet chains always make me think of this [http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2002/1/28/]
 

Owyn_Merrilin

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Elesar said:
And the new Battlestar (which is what I assume you're referencing) is only about 10,000 times better than the original. Not joking.
To me, the new Battlestar is a perfect example of what Movie Bob was talking about. I'm about 20 years too young to have watched the original show when it was new, but I remember hearing about how it was basically an entire series made up of the space battles from Star Wars. This is what I was expecting when I watched the pilot. What I got instead was a bland, overly dark mess completely devoid of fun. When Sci-Fi later did a marathon of the original show, it proved to be everything I was hoping the new one would be, and more.

I think Japan does a better job of getting the mix of dark and light right. As dark as, say, Zeta Gundam is, with its themes of war and death, there's always an occasional respite from the horrors of war, a brief moment of wonder where we, the audience, can see that the characters actually have something worth fighting for. I didn't get that out of the new Battlestar, and sadly, I've been getting that less and less out of all nerdy media since the early 2000's.

Growing up in the 90's, we had all kinds of shows that, while they could be dark when they needed to, were just plain fun most of the time. Hercules and Xena are great examples of this. Sadly Legend of the Seeker, their spiritual successor, is a perfect example of the overly dark nature of today's shows.

One thing though -- if the IP needs to be dark, by all means let it be dark. The example of Blade Runner in the below quoted post is perfect:

Elesar said:
And as for Blade Runner, do you think the scenes in which the androids were executed would have been NEARLY as effective if they hadn't been bloody and disturbing.
That film really needed the violence, and as a matter of fact, the international cut, which had scenes cut from the American release to avoid an X rating, was even better at making you think about what Decker was doing.

However, not every film has to be Blade Runner, and we should have very few series like Lost. For me, as I believe it is for most people on this site, television and film are forms of escapism. I don't want to escape from the real world to some place worse.
 

tautologico

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Apr 5, 2010
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Nateman742 said:
While we're talking about robots: Wall-E deals with loneliness, extinction, free will, totalitarianism, death, mental instability and illness, racism, greed, regret, nuclear war, and what it means to be alive. It just doesn't shove its themes in your face to be edgy. And don't try to tell me A Clockwork Orange wasn't trying to be edgy for edgy's sake. That was part of its point.
Exactly. And Up has a lot of important, adult themes in it too, that children won't understand when they watch the movie the first time, but will get when they grow older. That's the genius of the Pixar movies. On the other hand, a children probably can't appreciate A Clockwork Orange in any level.

Whoever says a movie made for children will never reach the artistic level of more grown-up stuff is really falling into the same trap that makes things Darker and Edgier. A similar trap to the one that says that comedies will never have as much artistic merit as dramas. "Artistic" must mean "serious", "brooding", "angsty" and possibly "bloody". It is this line of thinking that is really limited.

Also, the article doesn't say "there shouldn't be mature, grittier things". It's funny seeing people misunderstand the point of the article and then trying to argue with a point the author never made.
 

BlindMessiah94

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Nov 12, 2009
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I did agree with Moviebob, until about 1/2 way through the article (probably the longest I've ever lasted as I disagree with almost everything he says).

His fundamental argument is solid. But the examples he used where all examples of stories where making them more mature actually improved the stories - Batman? Seriously? Do we remember the ridiculous 90's Batman movies?

I thought he might get into all the kefuffle about movies like Transformers, Ninja Turtles, you know, actual childhood cartoons being revamped to be more hardcore. Instead he picks good movies like The Dark Knight and tries to use the argument that making them mature was bad.

I disagree again. At least your articles are well written though Bob :)
 

MovieBob

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j-e-f-f-e-r-s said:
Frank Miller took a character written off by everyone, and showed people that the person they joked about and let their kids watch on the telly is actually a vicious psychopath devoted to vengeance, and who ultimately dresses up as a bat and beats up thugs because he's addicted to violence. Oh, and Superman? He's not Christopher Reeve. He's an all-powerful ageless alien who has given the US government his unwavering allegience. Stuff like that doesn't end up as Saturday morning cartoons. It ends up in international political crisis and war. In the end, Frank Miller didn't add grit and darkness to the DC characters, he simply looked at them from a more realistic perspective. And made one of the all time great comics in doing so.
I understand your premise, but I'd disagree with the basic logic in as much as these are fictional characters, so they can be "shown to be" whatever the person holding the pen wants. From where I sit, the Batman of "Dark Knight Returns" isn't a vengeful psychopath because of some long-supressed "original design;" he's a vengeful psychopath because that's the pretty-much the only way Frank Miller writes heroes (see also: His villains are almost always vaugely "gay" in some way, and his female characters are always slutty and/or outright prostitutes.) Batman isn't real, so he isn't "really" a psychopath any more than he's "really" a totally well-adjusted father figure who keeps his own brand of shark-repellant in his ostentatiously art-designed personal helicopter.

DKR makes an interesting case study, I think. Has anyone gone back and read it again recently? Because whenever I do, increasingly, it doesn't really "hold up" all that well for me now that "OMG! Batman is violent!" isn't a shock to the system anymore. It's a "romp," but it has all the depth of a WWE arc and what characterization it DOES attempt - the child of hippie stoners craving discipline, Superman as tool of "the system," etc - is dime store "edgy" pablum. Back in the day, I think it "worked" for me because you could take it as a satire or a "Watchmen"-style tragic cautionary-tale (one of the overriding themes of Watchmen was that "the problem" began with the idea of superheroes "leaving" comics for the real world) ...but looking at it now in the broader context of what's left of Miller's career, it looks more and more like that sort of quasi-fascistic hypermasculine B.S. is actually the way he sees the world, which kinda kills out a lot of the fun in and of itself.

HappyDD said:
Wicked article MB.

O ya, and what is all this about the Watchmen character name change business? They had other names before, that were more gritty? Someone fill me in so I don't look like a total loser next time I try to talk to comic people.
No need to feel like a loser ;) For whatever reason, this isn't really an "everybody knows" kind of reference.

Basically, "Watchmen" happened like this: DC Comics in the 80s liked to flesh-out their universe by buying up characters from publishers who'd gone out of business. A particularly big aquisition was Charlton Comics, who had a bunch of fairly-unique heroes created mostly by Steve Ditko (co-creator of "Spider-Man") in the mid to late 1960s. The DC editors put Alan Moore, who was the "rising star" of comics at the time, on the job of creating a big "event" miniseries that would re-introduce the Charlton stable.

The story he came back with was pretty much a rough draft of what would eventually become "Watchmen," using the Charlton heroes to imagine what might happen if costumed heroes had existed in reality (answer: nothing good.) DC was wild about the story, but figured that if this story was used for the actual Charlton heroes they'd never be able to "fit" them into the larger DC Universe. DC and Moore ultimately agreed it would be better if he told the same story, but changed the Charlton heroes into original characters of his own (loosely based on the originals) and publish it as it's own thing. Thus, "Watchmen."

Ironically, DC didn't end up getting much use out of the majority of the Charlton guys anyway, though fans of some recent stories and especially the "Justice League" cartoons are probably familiar with The Question (the inspiration for "Rorscharch"), Captain Atom ("Dr. Manhattan") and Blue Beetle ("Nite Owl.")