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Can-Am Conversations: 02

By Anthony Logan and Kellen Scrivens
Welcome to quite possibly the most anticipated column on Earth-2. Once again I am Kellen Scrivens in Belair Manitoba, and as usual I'm with my partner in crime Anthony Logan from Fresno California. This is the second edition of Cam-Am Conversations. In case you missed the first part, you should know that it garnered the most praise of any Earth-2 column to date and will be adapted into a big-screen, action-packed movie this summer. (Okay, only half of that is true.)

As you scroll down the page you will read the greatest arguing you can expect from two teenagers on the Internet. We figured this event would be so big that we went out and hired the Disembodied Voice from X-Play, but quickly realized that his shtick wouldn't work too well with a written column.

One thing I will say right now is that some of these topics may be a little outdated as this was written over the course of about a month and a half. So forgive that. (Then again, if you've found this in the archives and are reading it five years later, it's all outdated.)

The deal is simple; we each ask five questions covering video games, anime, cartoons, comic book movies and crossovers. So, without further ado, let's get started.

Logan: With the current increase in censorship and legislation to infringe upon creativity in video games, do you think that video games will finally be accepted as an art form, and will that save them from complete censorship?
Scrivens: As much as I hate to say it, I don't think it will be considered an art form by mainstream media any time soon. There are some people (such as us) that recognize it as an art form, but there will always be those ignorant people who will never realize how much of an art form games are. I do believe that it's only a matter of time before it is recognized as a mainstream art form. Nobuo Uematsu said, "In the next generation, video games will be on the shelf next to movies." When the generation that grew up playing games is in control, I believe they will finally get the recognition they deserves.

Logan: See, in my opinion, video games have long been an art form. So when these issues come up, I take particular interest and exception to the idea that a video game can be considered any more of a cause of deviant behavior than any other form of entertainment. Now, there are exceptions to the rule. But for all the games that can potentially alter behavior in a child or cause deviant behavior to start, there are twenty non-violent, kid-friendly alternatives. Another thing, the fact that games are rated (much like movies) and there are restrictions on the more mature content (much like movies), should make all of these arguments against games just about disappear. The ratings are there, the responsibilities are no longer on the companies that make the games. It's become the in thing now to rally against things that aren't completely clean or acceptable by society's standards. We're beginning to look like Puritans, and this isn't The Scarlet Letter; it's real life and things shouldn't be this way.

Scrivens: I agree with you completely, but you got to face facts. Some people are just ignorant and refuse to see it as an art form.

Logan: Totally. Those people are the ones that would stand out in Town Square and shout at those with the big letters attached to them. Like M for Mature.

Scrivens: True.

Scrivens: What If Sonic never took off the way he did?
Logan: If Sonic never took off like he did, Sega's exodus of the console market would have been right after the release of the Genesis. Sonic the Hedgehog was the selling point for the Genesis; without it, there just wouldn't have been enough to combat the Super Nintendo's impressive library of games... wait. There would have been no Saturn; meaning that classic games like NiGHTS into Dreams would never have been, and the Dreamcast wouldn't have come into being. And that would be an absolute tragedy, because the Dreamcast is such a wonderful system and had such an incredible library.

Scrivens: I was talking this over with some friends today and I started mapping out some big things. So Sega doesn't take off, I think that's a given. Nintendo cruises along and they see no need to get an edge, so they don't go to Sony regarding a disc add-on. They then wouldn't have shunned the device which lead to the creation of the PlayStation, so there goes Sony. The main reason Microsoft joined the video game race was because they saw how well Sony had fared. So they're; so you're left with Nintendo dominating the market. Who knows, maybe along the way they completely fall apart and we suffer another crash like Atari did in the early 80s. In your best case scenario we're still steps behind where we are now. Who knows, maybe Nintendo didn't really win the war after all.

Logan: No, no. Yes they did. Let's not go crazy.

Scrivens: Nintendo outlasted Sega, but they took a pretty big hit. They're worse for wear.

Logan: Indeed, which leads in nicely to my next question.

Logan: Nintendo is set to release another handheld and a next generation console within the next year or so; do you think that maybe Nintendo is overdoing it? Is market saturation an issue? Is the GameCube becoming N64: Part Two? Can developers actually put games on the market for Nintendo systems?
Scrivens: They can, but they are taking a big risk. They are losing a lot of steam. Remember all the hype surrounding Resident Evil 4 when it was going to be a GC exclusive? Well, it ain't happening. I don't believe Nintendo is overdoing the console thing. Twelve months from now it will be almost five years since the GC went out, which is about the right lifespan for a console system. The handheld I just learned about. They have the GBA and the DS. What's next? Maybe they're anxious about the PSP (more on that later) and are desperate to counter it, but that shows they're low on confidence. If they ain't careful Nintendo might go the way of Sega.

Logan: I think that Nintendo is making a terrible mistake with all these consoles in the market. They lack a real library on the GameCube. I know some people are going to slay me on this, but the library isn't anywhere near PS2 or Xbox quality — and it's ridiculous. The big hits on that console, aside from Eternal Darkness, are mostly in-house titles. Nintendo staples are the selling point for their consoles, but they're hurting because they don't have that killer third-party exclusive game that makes people buy the console. For example, Halo (which is technically second-party) and the Final Fantasy games... those games can sell consoles.

Scrivens: Don't forget GTA.

Logan: Exclusive, Scriv. GTA isn't exclusive.

Scrivens: PS2 gets GTA first.

Scrivens: With Take-2/Sega and EA signing up exclusive contracts to get at each other, what does this mean for sports games?
Logan: The whole thing sucks. Majorly. When EA bought the rights to the NFL, I cringed for Visual Concepts and Take-2, because ESPN NFL 2K5 was a great game. When EA bought the ESPN license, I almost shouted curse words. That was absolutely the move that vilified them in my eyes, because now they have absolutely no need to improve themselves. It's a little bit ridiculous, because without competition, the genre will become stagnant. The sports game market just got a lot less interesting, and probably a lot less innovative as well.

Scrivens: I hear you there; I loved playing cheap football this year, and thought that (while it had a few glitches) 2K5 was a great game. NBA has announced it will have an exclusivity agreement too. American sports games are going to outright suck now. Who's up for some Winning 11 or Rugby?

Logan: PlayStation games are becoming more and more rare as the years pass. Games like Suikoden are becoming harder and harder to find, and, subsequently, are sold at extremely high prices. Are there any games you would be inclined to shell out Suikoden II-type prices for?
Scrivens: Although its sheer popularity will (in my mind) keep the price of this game fairly low, I simply have to go with my favorite game of all time: Final Fantasy VII. That is, if I didn't have it already. I can go on for hours about why I love this game, but that's for another day (the one when I finally finish my review). It is my personal favorite of all time and is high up on many people's lists, so, suffice it to say, FF VII would get my cash.

Logan: FF VII? Dude. That's garbage; at least not worth the price Suikoden II is going for on eBay. Did you know that it's going for as little as $70 and as much as $344? That's an unbelievable price! For Final Fantasy VII, that's nowhere near worth it. Suikoden, however, is almost worth the $70. For FF VII you've got almost 100 hours of gameplay split over three disks. Suikoden and Suikoden II each have that, 108 playable characters and all of that on one disk. Add in the incredible story and you've got a game that's worth the price it's going for.

Scrivens: I have not played every single game available for the PlayStation, and probably never will. I have better things to do with $344 (game-wise) than get Suikoden II regardless of its greatness. Based on the games I've played, though, my money's still on FF VII. I mean, seriously... they got big swords.

Logan: I'll give you that. But can they get at the main character using tonfa!?!

Scrivens: March 24th has come and gone and the PSP is out, which begs the question, what is your first impressions and how bright does its future look?
Logan: My first impression is that I have no first impression. I'm going to boycott the system completely based on the company's refusal and outright "fuck you" to those who have problems with the sticky square button. From what I have seen, I think the graphics are clean, very sharp and close to the next-generation systems, but I wouldn't know. Seriously. Plus, the whole deal being that to preorder, you had to do three games and an accessory; that was horseshit. People will buy the system and it will prosper. I will not buy it, however.

Scrivens: I was the second guy to pick up the PSP at the Wal-Mart in Selkirk (between the owner of a restaurant and my elementary gym teacher), and I currently love the system. The "sticky square button" thing has been taken way, way out of proportion — outside a faint click there is truly no difference. The movies play brilliantly and so does music. The games themselves are also good. I got Darkstalkers Chronicles and have been in love with it since day one. With a GTA game on the way, this thing is going to go places fast. The preorder thing ain't Sony's fault either, so don't blame them. It's EB's fault. The system feels and plays great. I love it.

Logan: That was the policy everywhere here. Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, Circuit City, everywhere. I'm glad that you like it, though. I never said it wouldn't be good; I just really don't like the response that Sony gave to the people who shelled out hard-earned cash only to get stuck with a screwy button. "It was a designed flaw" just doesn't cut it for me. But then again, Sony has been on the outs with me since the PS2 death issue started.

Scrivens: Well then, I sure love the Wal-Mart in Selkirk for not having preorders.

Logan: That's one thing that you have over me, a better Wal-Mart.

Scrivens: Well... you've got an extra $400 on you.

Logan: There are many popular anime series at the moment, and many fans set out to get it in any way they can. Once a series is licensed, it becomes much harder to find and oftentimes the quality and originality is sacrificed to Westernize the series. In your opinion, is that a necessary evil or is it a waste of time?
Scrivens: It is a bloody waste of time. This may seem like a bit of a stretch, but it reminds me of how the NHL tries to make hockey appeal to Americans with stuff like blue ice and orange lines; Westernizing anime is not a very good thing because as you said, quality takes a hit. While the best usually still shine through, it pisses me off that we can't have a show representing a deferent culture.

Logan: I have an especially large dislike for Westernization, because in every instance that I've seen the original is way better than the Western version. Naruto was just licensed and that's my favorite series, and knowing the way that this goes, instead of the ninja school idea and ninjas being the protectors of their country, we'll have some cutesy story that loses its appeal to the older audience. It really pisses me off to know that something I invest heavily in will be altered, will be neutered before it hits these shores.

Scrivens: I've read the first volume of Naruto and while it doesn't top my list, I liked it a lot. We can always hope that it doesn't get too much done to it (such as my personal favorite, InuYasha), but the reality is that they think it will appeal to a broader audience. Unless we get a mass petition going to stop this, it will continue to happen.

Logan: Internet petitions never work. I mean, we have so many signatures to change the American national anthem to Real American, but that will never fly.

Scrivens: Internet petitions do work; Mötley Crüe was at the MTS Centre on April 7th. The petition was the reason.

Logan: In Canada, everything is wonky.

Scrivens: Many Saturday morning cartoons from back in the day are being redone for the next generation. Overall, do you prefer the remakes or the originals?
Logan: Ugh! The originals are so much better in every case. Before you say anything, let's take a look at one thing. Nostalgia. The quality of being a kid. We can't go back to those days. The quality and memories of those days cannot go without notice and acknowledgement. For instance, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That series was so killer in the 80s. But as the years passed and the series died, it wasn't the same upon its reentry. They tried live action, then the new animation and both didn't hold the same weight as the original. In fact, they sucked in comparison to the original — on the strength of memories alone.

Scrivens: If we're going into the TMNT debate, I think we had a poll on old/new TMNT on the boards this summer and only one person voted for the new one. That guy was me. As much as I loved the old ones, I love the new ones that much more. I've always been big on slow-burn storylines and they do them better than the original. Now don't get me started on the live action show. When they added a fifth turtle and did that crossover with the Power Rangers... that I hated. I knew that one would be bad. Regardless, I usually think the old shows are better — just not in this case.

Logan: Yeah, I remember that poll. Jeez, the new series would have to be so much better than the old series for it to win me over. It's nearly impossible and highly unlikely.

Scrivens: I guess I can judge them a little more equally then. Nostalgia has no effect in Canada I guess.

Logan: Same as their money.

Scrivens: That was so funny I should give you a Canadian penny.

Logan: Nah, I'll give you a toenail. It's worth more.

Logan: In recent years, the comic-to-movie trend has gained a huge following; do you think that the Batman series opened the door for these movies to gain favor? Or would they have gotten to that level without the public having the experience?
Scrivens: I would say that the Batman series probably did help the comic book movie to get to where it is now... well, at least the first one. The second was good, the third wasn't bad but sucked compared to the first two and the less said about Arnold Freeze the better. Anyhow... back on topic. The awesome Batman movies allowed other comics to be made into good movies. I don't think they would have gotten as far as they have without Batman, mainly because there wouldn't be too many directors ready to take a chance on it. So yes, Batman opened the door.

Logan: I completely agree, because with movies like Batman coming out, the public was made to realize that even though the source material isn't something that everyone and their mothers wants to read, it can still bring the heat with well-written characters and interesting stories. Batman was the forerunner. The fact that Tim Burton directed it and Danny Elfman scored it opened the door for other big-name Hollywood directors to step up to the plate. I'd argue that without this movie, we wouldn't be anticipating Spider-Man 3 or X-Men 3. Movies like Sin City (which I'm chomping at the bit to see) would be either ignored or independent, meaning that the budget would be nowhere near enough to give it the flavor it needs. But, yeah, Batman opened the door.

Scrivens: Well one thing to note is that before the movie came out and all the hype surrounding it went into overdrive, I'd never heard of Sin City. So because of movies like Batman it allows others to know about the source material for lesser known comics

Logan: I wholeheartedly agree. Now all we need is a Wolverine movie, because I'm such a fanboy.

Scrivens: Hell, even the fictional Canadians rule.

Scrivens: Franchises such as Bandai's Project .hack are taking a unique route. They utilize manga, anime and video games all at once. They're not spinoffs from one another, mind you; they're all being used as parts of a greater story. (The games are the main story while the anime is the side story, and the manga serves as the epilogue.) Do you think that any other franchises will try this formula for the crossover appeal, or is it too much of a risk?
Logan: I believe that approach is quite a good idea, but with those ideas, a strong story is completely necessary. Without it, you don't grab enough people to filter into to the video games. Meaning that those people that are only manga fans and not gamers don't get the whole story. People who only watch the anime will get the side stories and that makes for a bunch of disjointed interest. If you can put together a strong enough story, then this is the way to go... with a few adjustments, of course. I'd personally reserve the main story for the anime and manga and include the epilogue in there as well, and then leave the side stories for the game. That's the only way that I could see it working. If the story isn't there, then you have no foundation and the house comes tumbling down.

Scrivens: I can understand why you say that, but I think it can work both ways. Project .hack proved that it's doable. They kept it loose enough so that if you just read the manga, you get it. If you just watch the anime, you get it. If you just play the games, you get it. You are right when you say that the story needs to be incredibly good, however. Thought it isn't the point that you need to see every part of the story... although it helps. In the end, you usually go out to get the parts you're unfamiliar with because you want more, not because the stories were lacking and you need huge gaps filled in.

Logan: That's a good point. People will get the gist of it if they get bits and pieces of the story in relation to the whole, but I think that for the company to turn a profit, they need as many people as possible to buy into the whole experience.

Scrivens: Yeah, you're right there

Scrivens: So what are you going to be up to in the next little bit?

Logan: Pretty soon I'll be writing a review (sorta) of Freddy vs. Jason and a column on why versus movies will never really work.

Scrivens: I got a review of Tru Calling on the way and I'll eventually get a review of Final Fantasy VII done.

And that is it for this installment of Can-AM Conversations with Kellen Scrivens and Anthony Logan. If you wish to contact us you can get me at Kscriv@hotmail.com or Anthony at logan_am@yahoo.com or just take it to the boards.

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