Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Winners And Losers Of 2017

Well, it's that time of year again... and this time, it's only text.

The good news is that, compared to 2016, 2017 is coming out like a lovely rose. There are certainly low points, sure, but not enough that they ruined the whole damn year for me. Not even "that fellow" in the Twit House or whatever is called.

The list is fairly short; about ten or twelve entries a piece with a few middle grounders. But for anyone wondering, the list does NOT include certain political figures (including a certain orange fellow who was voted into office), it does not include Capcom over their Mega Man 11 announcement (let's wait until the game is released before we judge it, okay), and it does NOT include Mark Hamill... because why would it include Mark Hamill?

Anyway, on with the list... after the break.

Quite a few winners here... which is a surprise, even to me.

Nintendo Switch
After the hundred-million selling Wii withered and faded away, only to be followed by a successor in the Wii U that fell flat on its face for a variety of reasons, Nintendo struck back with their new hybrid Switch system that lets you play at home or on the go. And with third-parties jumping on board as well as a modest selection games, Switch has managed to get Nintendo back in the good graces of some people. The Switch is perhaps the most interesting gaming device to come into fruition in the past ten years or so and I'm happy to see it do rather well. It's had a slow start, but it's gaining steam and that could only mean good things for Switch in 2018.

Sonic Mania
A fresh, new Sonic The Hedgehog game in the classic 2D side-scrolling style may be mostly a revisitation of older tropes mixed in some new bits, but it's still a pretty fun game and a well crafted love letter to the older days of Sonic when it meant quality and not a shot in the dark. Not even the DRM issues that plagued the Steam release could put a damper on this game; it's just that good.

Sonic Forces, on the other hand, not so much... which is why it's not on the list.

FC Twin
My FC Twin turned ten years old a couple months ago. It's an old clone system that plays NES and SNES games. It still works. It requires no patches or updates. It is a workhorse. It wins. The end.

Star Trek Continues
Legal issues with some other fan production - that we'll touch on later - has brought about an end to continual high-quality "fan films", including some beloved series such as New Voyages/Phase 2 and Star Trek Continues. While the former has halted cold turkey and turned its sets into a tourist attraction, Continues sporadically released episodes to eventually reach its conclusion and give the series a satisfying ending. This is a well-made production with some blotches that doesn't detract from the overall enjoyment. Definitely one worth checking out if the new Discovery series isn't working for you and you enjoy some derivative work of OG Star Trek or whatever the "cool kids" are calling it these days.

(For those wondering, Discovery didn't make the cut in either category... I'm holding off judgment until "Chapter 2" comes along.)

Star Fleet Battles
An old tabletop war game of starships that is very detailed and very intricate, with play sessions lasting well over a couple hours. The overwhelming complexity means a very thick rulebook and perhaps more than what I could put into a little blurb, but once you get into it, it's actually quite a thrill. More than that, it's a cool little thing that I get to play with my older brother and probably establish the one other thing we have in common. So SFB gets a nod on the list.

Also Megaphasers.

Killing The Town With Storm And Cyrus
Yeah, so this one podcast is my go-to podcast as far as wrestling stuff is concerned. And really, when it comes to podcasts featuring two former wrestlers who are knowledgeable and don't hold back on their opinions, you've got a pretty informative and highly entertaining show from Lance Storm and Don Callis; two guys who have known each other for years and so they have that chemistry together. They tell interesting stories, they talk about stuff from New Japan and show a bias for that (understandable since Cyrus is the #TopTalent #SeventyStar #AnnouncingAce #Hashtag color commentator of New Japan), but most importantly, they're two Canadian guys. And they don't like that Disco fellow, which also adds to the entertainment value. So, yeah, any podcast that has me following on a weekly basis deserves a notch on the Winner's List in my book.

AJ Styles
Started the year as WWE Champion, dabbled in the US title, ended the year as WWE Champion. Can't ask for better than that, but then again, when it comes to guys that I really enjoy watching in WWE at the moment, there's none that I enjoy more than AJ Styles at the moment. The kid has come a long way since the TNA days and he deserves every bit of success coming to him.

Jim Cornette
Jim Cornette is a polarizing fellow. Either you agree with his viewpoints on the wrestling business or you don't, but he's always an entertaining listen. But the only reason he's on this year's winners list is because he sold copies of a restraining order he was slapped with, courtesy of... well, keep reading; I'll touch on that a bit later.

Wonder Woman
After what seemed like an eternity in limbo, the world finally got a big-screen Wonder Woman motion picture... and it was actually pretty good. Not only a film worthy to the modern interpretation of the iconic character, but it was also the first genuinely good movie in DC's cinematic Extended Universe or whatever they're calling it. Also, it had color and some semblance of emotion beyond just drab and depressing, which is always nice.

A fitting end to Hugh Jackman's run as the character, a very gritty down-to-earth tale that just happens to have people with claws out of their fists and other super-powered fisticuffs. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea - it is a brutally violent film that more than earns its R rating - but it tells a good story, has great action, and provides nice closure while leaving a possible thread for the future... assuming the Mouse decides to continue where the Fox left off.

Amy Jo Johnson
She made her own feature film called The Space Between. It's actually pretty good despite not being something I'd normally watch, but as a backer, I can say that I wasn't too disappointed by this. The former Pinky is off to a great start in her career as a filmmaker and here's to a long and successful career in her new endeavor.

Surprisingly, this year has boasted few losers... well, okay, that's a bit of a fib. But considering the number of winners to come out of this year, it's been pretty split even. Fifteen losers; five of them wrestling-related, so let's get those out of the way first.

Impact Wrestling or TNA 
The good news is that TNA Impact Global Force Gold Wrestling survived another year and once again has new management based entirely in Canada. Now whether that ends up being a good thing for 2018 or not... well, that's for next year. Unfortunately, it does NOT erase the plethora of stupidity that is TNA in 2017. The amount of stupid that I've seen come out of the Anthem-era of TNA is so ginormous that I cannot possibly contain it in one little blurb... that's why there's a whole post about it right here.

Stephanie McMahon
Despite the months-long absence, Stephanie makes the list by virtue of being Stephanie; ear-rape personified, overly dominant at the expense of everybody, never getting her comeupperance (and no her little bumps at Mania don't count), and just being a horrible actor and slightly less horrible human being. Stephanie McMahon is the ultimate channel changer; she show ups, I change the channel. She's on TV, I stop watching entirely.

Now, in a way, I should probably thank Stephanie for killing any urge or desire I'd have to watch three-hour Raws; nowadays, I tune in for the PPVs and that's about it... but that's only a small nugget of light next to the smorgasbord of bad. If anything else, she's pretty much KILLED the female authority figure for the next fifty years because she makes the show unwatchable. Just a terrible personality that kills any town she's in.

Vince Russo
You know, bro... I dread giving this guy the spotlight, bro, but you know what, bro? In this case, bro...

In all seriousness... look, this list is entirely subjective and really not to be taken seriously because sometimes, people make this list for really arbituary and outright stupid reasons (see last year when Chris Jericho made the LOSERS list for that whole List of Jericho thing) and for being himself, for being an incoherent loudmouth talking about the current wrestling product sucking compared to his two years of success (without ever touching on his decade plus of non-success), for those things alone, Vince Russo wouldn't even be worth a mention... I SWEAR TO GOD, BRO.

But that whole business with Jim Cornette and getting to a point where he had to file a protective order against a man he probably hasn't seen face to face in YEARS... oy, you know this is treated as a serious thing when the guy who you filed a restraining order against is selling copies of said restraining order on the Internet. THAT is why I put Vince Russo on the list. And that is the GOD HONEST TRUTH.

And yes, I did buy a copy of said restraining order.

Oh, yes. The build to turn Tanille "Emma" Dashwood from competent wrestler to eye-candy valet type similiar in vein to the Sable or Sunny types of yesterday; that really sultry type who's known more for her looks than her wrestling talent. After months of waiting or something, Emmalina finally debuts on RAW, only to ditch the gimmick and go back to being Emma for a few months before losing to Asuka and eventually getting released from WWE. Good job, guys.

The Jinder Mahal as WWE Champion experiment
This is a case where I was initially intrigued (don't want to say excited because that's getting hopes up) by the prospect of a guy who was doing nothing but getting beat on the lower shows suddenly getting a title shot and defeating Randy Orton for the World title. Not a direction I'd expect, but it was different and it showed WWE was willing to give someone new a chance... and then they fumbled it. Jinder did the best he could with the material given and that's the problem. His matches ended in screwjob finishes and all interest in seeing this new heel champion evaporated faster than Brock Lesnar being a believable monster. By the time AJ Styles beat Jinder for the title, most were happy the experiment was over and done with. In another place and another time, Jinder could've been a great champion. Sadly, this wasn't it.

The Ball Family
I don't know anything about these people; they showed up on one episode of RAW. They're annoying, they have punchable faces, and are the kind of people that provide a strong case AGAINST diversity in entertainment. But most of all, they come as assholes and that's why they're on the list.

This one hurts a bit... because Vidme was actually something I could buy as an alternative to Youtube and while I was only on there for a year, I'd like the site well enough that I considered migrating over to THAT site entirely. Uploading and managing videos was easy, the user interface was almost (but not quite) on par with the Youtube set-up - certainly moreso than the current Dailymotion model, I'm sorry to say - and there was quite a bit of support from Youtube personalities I enjoyed watching such as Razorfist, Rerez, and even Classic Game Room dabbled on there. Unfortunately, it was not to be because Vidme couldn't keep the fumes going and they shut their doors down... and now I'm replacing the few videos I have with either Youtube links or fresh Dailymotion uploads. And yeah, it sucks, but it's also the hard reality. Vidme tried, they lost, they make the list.

Electronic Arts And The Tale Of The LootBox
There's a new thing that EA has introduced to video games where gamers can now purchase digital loot boxes that will give them a winning edge in those multiplayer games, similar to those mobile games that you download for free and then are saddled with ads and offers to buy some gimmick for real money to get any real competitive edge. The key difference is that mobile phone games are usually free to play, while EA games charge approximately 60 bucks for a game... never mind the deluxe edition that costs twice as much and features lots of worthless trinkets. DLC has reached low depths and the fact that modern gaming has adopted this.

2K Sports
You know, when you put a game on Switch, then you force players to download the rest of your game, and it STILL doesn't fucking work. you've got a real stinker on your hands. After a patch, NBA 2K18 seems to be working better, but their WWE game is apparently the shits on Switch (and, in all honesty, it's not any better on PC) and if this is standard practice for 2K on Switch, then they deserve every bit of venom lobbed at them.

Street Fighter V
It took them two years to add an Arcade Mode to Street Fighter V. Fuck this game. That is all. Other than that, however, I have no real ill towards the game. It's a fine game for what it's worth, but doesn't have the staying power of a Street Fighter game that was made in 1991. And if I really needed a "modern take" on Street Fighter, certainly the cheap-o copy of Ultra Street Fighter IV has me covered just fine in that department... but yeah, only an hour of play for the months I've had the game is enough to make the loser list. Sorry, bro.

Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite
No X-Men characters due to legal stupidities and rather lukewarm reviews meant that any interest I had in the game was slim to none... though to be fair, the high price point also turned me away and I just stuck with UMVC3, which I enjoyed a hell of a lot more.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I hesitated in adding this to the list because on the one hand, I didn't think it was as bad as some folks make it out to be, but I sure as hell didn't consider this to be on par with Empire Strikes Back or even Rogue One for that matter. A littany of issues bog the film down heavily, several controversial story directions, and one of those rare cases where I came out of a movie theatre extremely underwhelmed by a Star Wars movie. Rian Johnson must have sucked the right dicks to get his own Star Wars trilogy, because nothing in this movie fundamentally convinced me that he's deserving of such a thing. Oh well, at the very least, that one fight with Rey and the guards was fun to watch.

Only two entries deserve mention, but fit neither category. So they go here.

Justice League
On the one hand, Justice League was actually enjoyable... far more than I was originally expecting. Sure, it had the influence of Whedon, as the quips might indicate, but this turned out to be a far better affair and it was enjoyable... and after three movies, Henry Cavill finally got to play Superman instead of just being some guy in a suit that looks like Superman. It's only too bad that the film didn't perform to expectations (though it still made money; just not enough for DC pundits to consider it a success.) I guess that's what happens when you bum rush your films instead of taking your time with it like Marvel did. Sadly, that seems to be the case for everyone these days.

I've heard good things about Cuphead, it looks like a work of art, but I haven't played it, so I can't put it on either list until I've played it. I do have it, so maybe in 2018, I'll get around to playing it.

And that's it. Happy New Year, everyone. I'm gonna get a drink.

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