What One Year Can Do to Your Opinion

A year ago (give or take), my friends and I went to see Suicide Squad in theaters.  At the time, I remembered liking it.  Only to find I was in an extreme minority of people.

Believe me, that’s far from the first time that’s ever happened.  Like I said yesterday, I think I’m the only human being on Earth who LIKED Apollo 18.  Inversely, I’m used to hating movies everybody likes.  I’m of the opinion Moonrise Kingdom sucked like a hoover, and I’m puzzled that there are people who actually liked this fucking movie.

I’m no stranger to being the contrarian.  At the same time, though, I’m no stranger to opinions changing.  My opinion on Suicide Squad was one that started out really positive…  Until I saw it a second time, and really thought about what I was watching.  It also helped…  Or maybe hindered, that I wasn’t spending most of the final battle thinking “Christ I got to pee!”.  All that said, the second viewing really changed my mind on this movie, and…  Yeah, it sucks.

I’m nos tranger to this phenomenon.  I personally referred to it as “The Transformers Effect”.

In 2007, the internet was abuzz with talk of an upcoming Transformers movie.  People were super fucking stoked their childhood was coming back.  Finally, the movie came out, and everybody absolutely loved it.  At first.

As time went on, the movie made its rounds, and eventually got put on DVD, bluray, and probably HD-DVD (I think that was still a thing in 07), people’s opinion of the movie soured.  By that time a year later, a lot of people actually ended up hating it.

It didn’t help that a couple years later, the sequel movie would come out, and foretell the ominous future of the franchise, but that first movie…

At the time, it was hard to believe that a movie with that much hype behind it would suddenly decline in popularity so rapidly.  But I know what the problem was.

Transformers was, from what I can tell, the very beginning of the Hollywood trend I have long-since come to call “Generation: Nostalgia”.  Sure, seventies and eighties crap had been getting remakes long before the mid-to-late 2000s, but it wasn’t until some time around 2009-2010 when the reboot machine went nuclear.

Transformers got away with the nostalgia factor because people weren’t conditioned to see through the bullshit just yet.  They saw their favorite childhood franchise get pulled out of the grave after it lived a good hardy life (including that weird Beast Wars phase it went through in the middle), and they were expecting something great.  They were even willing to look past the fact Michael Bay was on board (assuming more than the snobbiest of movie goers even know who Michael Bay even is), all so they could relive their fucking childhood for an hour and a half or so.  But once the hype died, the nostalgia factor became a nonentity, and the smoke cleared, what we had was a CGI movie that promised more than it could ever hope to live up to.

Unfortunately, because of that success, Generation: Nostalgia is now the norm in hollywoo right now.  In the last seven years, I’ve seen reboots of Karate Kid (sucked), Robocop (REALLY sucked), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (it was okay), Get Smart (not terrible, but not great), Mighty Morphing Power Rangers (haven’t seen it yet and don’t plan on it), Chips (I hear it sucked), and I’ve HEARD Back to the Future might be up next on the chopping block.  If they’re not remaking old franchises, they’re gender-swopping the shit out of them like they did for Ghostbusters 2016, and gender swopping is, hands down, the laziest form of reimaging out there.  Or maybe it’s not a matter of reimagining, and it’s a matter of the neoliberal, Antifa, “fuck white people” mentality that ultimately led to Donald fucking Trump to become president in the first place.  Who can say?  All I know is I’m fucking sick and tired of this nostalgia trip, and I want something NEW.

As an author, I know there’s only so many stories out there.  At the same time, though, I’m sick of seeing these remakes, reboots, reimaginings…  Just give me something new.  If you have to MARKET it as Back to the Future with chicks, fine.  But if you’re actually going to MAKE Back to the Future with chicks, you can guarantee that I’m not going to see it.  Which according to your neoliberal, social justice warrior, “Kamala Harris 2020” logic, that makes me sexist.  No, it makes me FUCKING BORED!

“Ooh, I wonder what would happen if Doc and Marty were girls?”

I don’t know, maybe the same fucking thing that would happen if they were guys?  They’re still traveling back to when Marty’s parents are kids, fucking up everything, and threatening to erase themselves from time and space in an effort to accidentally become their own grandparent.  The fact Marty’s a girl now doesn’t add shit to the plot, except for an opportunity for period jokes or something.

You know, I’m pretty sure I was talking about something else a minute ago.

Oh yeah, I saw Suicide Squad a second time a year later, and yeah, I agree.  That movie actually kind of sucks now.

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Darkest Dungeon: Lovecraftian Dungeon Crawler, or Charater Meat Grinder?

It’s not often I get addicted to a video game that doesn’t have the words Mortal Kombat anywhere in the title these days, but this Christmas weekend, I think I found it.  It’s a little roguelike dungeon crawler known simply as Darkest Dungeon.

I first heard of it from Noah Antwiler himself, The Spoony One, when he decided to livestream it on his Livewire series.  Honestly, I’m at a bit of an impasse when it comes to Livewire.  I love Spoony, and while others complain the man is nearly dead silent during the stream most of the time, I almost appreciate it.  I do like guys like Markiplier and Jacksepticeye, but the constant chatter that goes nowhere and might be a sign of A.D.D. and high-pitched screams of [EMOTION] get a little old in a hurry.  It’s just too bad that there hasn’t been an actual review since May of last year.

I understand nothing lasts forever, and you can only do the same thing over and over before even YOU get tired of it and want to try something new.  I appreciate the effort, and I understand nobody starts out good at new things.  That being said, I miss the reviews.  Even when I don’t agree with everything being said, Spoony always made it entertaining.  Hell, even Livewire is fascinating in it’s own way.  My only real complaint about the series is that I rarely have the time and/or patience for a two or three hour long stream.

Also, in the case of the Darkest Dungeon stream, the audio went out of sink with the video around the 1/3 mark or so, and kind of ruined the overall experience, but that aside, I enjoyed the playthrough, and it inspired me to pick up the game and try it for myself.

All I got to say is this: it’s a well designed game, but it will piss you off beyond belief.  If absolutely nothing else, this game has reconnected me with my long dorment gamer rage.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve had this much fun while getting pissed off at something.  The main gimmick of Darkest Dungeon is the fact that, on top of exploring dungeons and fighting monsters, you also have to keep your “heroes” as mentally balanced as possible.  Once you’ve completed an adventure, you send your heroes to town to drink, gamble, pray, buy a prostitute, get whipped (which oddly enough has nothing to do with the prostitute)…  Or you can just stuff them in the sanitarium for a while, and remove certain afflictions.

If you’re good at the game, you’ll come back with broken heroes, but a lot of treasure, and the ability to afford all their stress relief as well as upgrade all your shit.  If you suck, or if you hit a roadblock  like I have, though, you’ll send four heroes in, and maybe one or two will survive long enough for you to abandone the quest halfway in, and need to relieve their stress.  Unfortunately, you don’t have enough money for ANYTHING, because you need to save what little you got from the dungeon on provisions for the next dungeon.  And before long, you find yourself in an endless loop, and realize five or six attempts in that your graveyard has about forty different dudes in it.

It’s at this point I stopped naming the characters.  I’m even going out of my way to avoid using one or two until I’m one-hundred percent certain I can beat the mission with them.  I got too attached to Dismal Dan the highway man and Hamburgers the jester.  In fact, there might be a story in that.

Relax, I’m going to finish the Gael trilogy LONG before I start on that one.

Anyway, the point I was getting at is that once you hit a roadblock like I have, the game becomes less of a fun little romp into Lovecraft esque story telling and surprisingly fun turn-based combat (two concepts I rarely associate with each other), and it becomes more of what I’ve heard D&D players call a “meat grinder campaign.”

Clearly this term came out before MMORPGs became popular, and the term GRINDING was associated with repetitive tasks designed specifically to boost your stats.  Meat grinder, in the context it was shared with me, tends to describe a campaign, tabletop or otherwise, that just shreds through your characters.  By the time it’s all said and done, everybody playing has gone through a bare minimum of five character sheets, and the characters who managed to survive the adventure and claim glory are barely alive enough to enjoy it.  D&D was never my game (my friends were more of a Shadow Run group), but believe me, I know what those are like.  In the case of D&D, I’ve heard stories.  I might even go as far as to say that, in a weird way, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is a bit of a meat grinder.

Darkest Dungeon is definitely a meat grinder, but honestly, it’s a FUN meat grinder.  That sounds weird when I read it back, but I’m keeping in mind that I’m a guy who enjoys feeding documents to his paper shredder.  So yeah, consider the source.

Seriously, though, this is one of those games where you will bitch, you will swear, and you will make the neighbors think a domestic disturbance might be taking place next door.  However, you might actually find it to be an entertaining experience despite all that.  A wise man once said: “There is no glory in a quest without peril.”

Darkest Dungeon is the kind of game that drives you insane with its gimmick, it’s randomly generated maps, its steap difficulty, and its unforgiving approach to dungeon crawlers.  It’s the kind of game that pisses you off, makes it personal in the process…  But somehow has me coming back for more.  Am I a masochist?  Nah.  If my experience in the dating game is anything to go by, I’m at that point where logically, I should give up and get used to marking that particular aspect of my life as a failure, but somehow, I’m stubborn enough to say “fuck that” and go back into the melee anyway, knowing full well it’s never going to work out, and will only drive me fucking crazy with every failure in the process.

Do I recommend Darkest Dungeon?  Sure, why not?  Give it a look over for yourself.