Saturday, November 11, 2017

So... About that Sonic Canon...

I know what you are thinking. I post for the first time in ages, and I decide to talk the canon of Sonic the Hedgehog games. Yes, I really do want to go down this road.

As many of the gaming community know, Sonic has gotten his - I'm not kidding here - 26th and 27th games in the core series this year: Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces. Mania was universally acclaimed as a top-notch return to 2D platforming and a must-have deal. Forces is... Not.

To be clear, I have played both. I've nearly beaten Mania for the third time already and just finished Forces two days ago. And yes, Mania is better and almost hilariously so. The jokes about Sonic Team being incapable of making a better game than fan creators are well worth your Internet surf time.

But I can talk about that another day. I can offer my theories about what needs to be done in future Sonic 3D games another day. I can dissect why Sonic's move to the third dimension has been SO MUCH WORSE than Mario's another day. What I want to talk about is the set of cutscenes that made Classic Sonic an alternate dimension.

For those who haven't played yet, I am spoiling story elements, so duck out now of you want to wait until you have the game for yourself.

Anyway, when Classic Sonic arrives, he is said by Tails to be an alternate version of the blue hedgehog, rather than the time-displaced past version of the current one. Later cutscenes clearly introduce the Phantom Ruby from Mania and even lift the sound effects.

This could mean many things, especially since I am still working through the full Forces story, but what I am interpreting from this is that Sega wants the ability to grow Classic Sonic without the canon of Modern getting in the way of their game play and storyline ideas. (I mean, the drop dash was never a modern skill for Sonic, for example). Thus, Classic Sonic gets his own branch in the timeline.

Does this mean no classic games in Modern Sonic? I don't think so. Instead, I think the end of the Genesis/Mega Drive split the timeline.

Here's my theory, the "Core Four" games (Sonic 1, 2, CD and 3&K) are shared. Classic Sonic gets the Game Gear games and Mania, bringing the total to 10 games in the timeline.

Modern Sonic might (but based on gameplay, I'd argue he probably didn't) get the GG games. Instead, after 3&K, 3D Blast and Pocket Adventure were the follow-ups. Adventure-2006 were continuations of the 3D game play, and the Dimps games (Advance-Rush Adventure) continued 2D. When 2D elements entered during Unleashed and Colors, the two styles joined to create the Modern Sonic in his current form.

This would make Sonic 4 (both episodes) a Modern exclusive, and turn Mania into Classic's Sonic 4.

Am I overthinking this? I am overthinking this. Oh well. Already written. Enjoy, Sonic theorists!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

NFL Conference Finalists and their WWE Counterparts (Year 7: 2016-17)

(NOTE: To see the previous years, follow these links: 2010-112011-122012-132013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16.)

This master's degree is a time-eater, guys.

It's been a busy last few months with teaching English, karate (2nd Dan Black Belt now!), and monthly classes for my master's. I also elected to coach basketball for my school. But good news is that my busy season will be wrapping up in March, which means I'll be able to log hours into Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

With any luck, I'll be able to do a year one retrospective for DC Rebirth, which will cover my thoughts on all the titles, and a Zelda retrospective that's been sitting in the drafts for a while. I also have fanfictions that have been gaining subscribers but decomposing for over a year. Summer is going to be a writing binge.

But that's a future event, unfortunately. For now, I can only do scattered posts. And of course, this post was one I was absolutely not going to miss.

This NFL season has been... just... awful. I don't know if it's the CBA or the decreasing talent in college, but I actually avoided watching most games this year. It just wasn't a pleasant watch for the lion's share of the year. Good thing I can focus on soccer and hockey next year (Golden Knights coming in fall!).

By contrast, WWE seems to be in a much better place than last year. Splitting the brands has given each show a unique feel. I have investment in every SmackDown feud, and everything in each of the show's divisions feels well-thought-out and put-together. Oh, and Raw happens each week too.

So for the first time since I started this tradition, I feel like I genuinely care about the wrestler counterparts more than the teams competing. Should make this interesting. Let's go!


Can I just take a minute to give the WWE props for finally realizing that the women's division can be top flight if taken seriously. The feud between Charlotte and Sasha Banks may have been the best thing on Raw in 2016 (from an in-ring perspective. Someone really needs to work on live promos with Charlotte.)

Charlotte is now a four-time Women's World Champion because of that feud, which puts her even with the Patriots, and also like the Pats, fans respect the heck out of Charlotte's accomplishments while finding her to be grating and a cheater.

(Oh please, Pats fans, don't even act like you didn't expect me to throw shade at The Deflater of Balls.)

But yeah, while I don't really like the Patriots or even acknowledge their accomplishments as legitimate, I respect that they got them, whether by hook or by crook. Same for Charlotte. There is something VERY lacking in her ability to speak, and I groan whenever she's alone with a live mic, but I definitely respect her in-ring. She plays the heel brilliantly and makes all the moves look devastating.

Whether loved or hated, both the Pats and Charlotte share large-scale success and should be known as central players in 2016.


Remember when the Steelers used to be defense-heavy? That's not the case this year.

Big Ben and Le'Veon Bell have been tearing it up as a unit, and Pittsburgh has been treated to some high-scoring affairs this year. It says a lot about the front office that this team was able to evolve into something so different from what basically everyone knows about them.

On the Chris Jericho side, the former Lion Heart, former Y2J, former Save_Us guy has a new gimmick: The List of Jericho. How this thing has gotten over I have no idea, but here we are.

This thing is so over it has made it into my classroom. I'm not even kidding. It's where I go to write up bad behavior.

Add in a more ground-based style and you have a career revival for a man who has been in the business for more than two decades. He even has the United States Championship to show for his efforts.

This was a tough call between Jericho and Randy Orton, but I went with Jericho because his success has yielded a singles championship run, and it seems like it will be more memorable than Randy Wyatt.


You know, this was the hardest one to pick this year.

The Packers had a weird season. There were those couple months where they sucked and everyone piled on that Aaron Rodgers was actually terrible.

Remember that whole thing where we all decided Rodgers hated his family and that that had to be the reason he wasn't the BAD MAN Stephen A. Smith thought he was?

And yet, here we are. Once again, it was all about keeping cool and busting out wins. That was what Rodgers did this year. Now it's hard to imagine a time where we thought of Green Bay outside of the contender category (though I still have a hard time buying they are the best the NFC has to offer).

Bliss basically did this in WWE on SmackDown. She was brought in from NXT during the supplemental draft. (Yes, I watched the supplemental draft.) She was greeted with a resounding "Why was Bayley snubbed for you?"

While I thought she was improving, I didn't buy her as especially credible, and the image of Nia Jax laying her out at Survivor Series did not help matters. But against all odds, she is the SmackDown World Women's Champion; has main evented the show in only the second women's cage match in the main company's history; and owns some of the best promos on the Blue Brand.

She's an elite for sure. I still don't see her as Becky Lynch caliber, but she's getting there.

Anyway, time for the last team!


Relax, guys. I'm just screwing with you.


Believe me, I'd love to call out the Falcons as an overrated fraud who is here on blind luck, much like Ellsworth. That said, I do think there actually are some legitimate reasons the Falcons got here and skills that are worth noting.

Talent-wise, the Falcons are strong enough to contend. Matt Ryan has had a career renaissance this year. And his offense is strong enough to score on anyone.

This team is certainly deserving of respect. It just so happens, though, that they pad their record bt playing in the worst division of the NFL, have a history of screwing up royally, and lack a quality that indicates (at least to me) that they can hang at the grandest stages.

Owens at least doesn't have that issue. I know from his skills in the ring and on the mic that he could carry a show. Thing is, he doesn't. He's paired with Chris Jericho, which limits his ability to be seen as his own man.

Additionally, he's never been the focal point of the show despite holding the WWE Universal Championship for months. The focus has been on the women's feuds, or whatever Roman Reigns is doing, or Goldberg. He just habitually is lost in the shuffle.

Sound familiar? Between the Packers' resurgence, the Seahawks' known ability to be a threat. the Giants and their weird Florida yacht club, and the Cowboys in general, did you even realize the Falcons were in the playoffs, let alone as a No. 2 seed?

Honestly, looking at the final four teams this year, I can say for certain that this has been one of football's least interesting years for me. I'm rooting for Packers-Steelers round 2, but after the silliness of last week's locker room shenanigans with Pittsburgh, I'll expect the Super Bowl XXXI rematch of Green Bay vs. New England. Here's hoping for a repeat of the result, too.