Hello, adventurers, and welcome to the penultimate battle of the Blogger Blitz competition! And thank you, Series of Unfortunate Events, for teaching most of us the word “penultimate.” My name is Ian, and I will be your host and guide as we delve into this wacky competition between mighty bloggers and the heroes they have sponsored. This is the second match of the semifinal round – if you missed the first, you can check that out here! And if you have no idea what’s happening, well, here’s a quick explanation.
Blogger Blitz is a single-elimination tournament where eight bloggers have sponsored their favorite video game character in a competition to see who is the best at wild and wacky events. On Monday, this week’s competitors posted their argument in favor of the character they champion. Hundstrasse penned a gripping narrative for Claire Redfield, while Sheikah Plate spun an epic yarn about the adventures of Link. I recommend you read those articles now, as they’ll be referenced throughout today’s match.
Once blades were drawn, five mighty judges began their work to determine which argument was the most convincing. Those judges are Chris of Overthinker Y, Geddy of Nostalgia Trigger, James of Quickly Tap X, Athena of AmbiGaming Corner, and Destiny of kind-of-Adventure-Rules-but-really-posts-art-on-Instagram! The judges painstakingly poured over these arguments to determine which one, in their minds, should be the winner of today’s competition. Once decided, they told the guy responsible for relaying this information to the masses: me. And now, relay the information I shall!
The competitors are ready, the arena is set, so let’s put on some seaworthy music and go to the pirate ship of the ghost captain LeChuck!
This week’s challenge takes place in two parts: our heroes have to escape the bottom of the sea after being tied to a heavy anchor, and then make their way to the other hero’s world in order to save it. The first part of this challenge is the part where you manage not to drown, a tricky prospect since neither of these champions has the ability to breathe underwater. Or do they?
Teri Mae immediately established that Link was equipped with his trusty Zora tunic, a sporty blue outfit that somehow gives him the ability to breathe underwater, because science is for lame-os. This is a simple but clever solution to the whole issue of breathing, and one that the judges found funny and quite appreciated. “You’re tied to an anchor, sinking fast, and time’s of the essence – basically game over, right? Not if you’ve got a Zora Tunic it’s not!” James felt this gave Link plenty of time to work out the details of his escape, and Geddy loved that Link was somehow prepared for this exact set of circumstances. “Confirming what most of us probably assumed, Link sleeps in his Zora Tunic, presumably to avoid this exact situation.” With such a great tool at his disposal, Link didn’t have much to worry about as an anchor dragged him to the bottom of the sea.
Things continued to go pretty smoothly for Link as Teri Mae described his escape from the anchor with practiced ease. He’s got a tool for every situation: breaking the anchor chain, swimming quickly to the surface, sailing to the mainland – it seems like everything is coming up Link as Teri Mae pulls on his endless bag of resources from across the Zelda series.
“I liked how Teri Mae dropped in the names of several items for each thing Link had to do – the tunic to breathe, a scale to swim to the surface, a sail to make it to land. It adds flavour as well as believability that yes, this is something Link can cope with,” Chris said. Athena questioned this at first but ended up agreeing that it wouldn’t really be a struggle: “I wondered at first whether the Master Sword could cut through the chains binding Link, but I don’t think the Master Sword has ever failed to slice through anything that was in the way of Link’s quest, so while I was a little surprised at the ease with which Link escaped, I think it could be within character/game lore, so it works.”
Once on dry land, Link covers the distance to Raccoon City by hitching a ride on his Crimson Loftwing. A few aerial rolls later, he finds himself sneaking around the outside of the city, gathering resources Breath of the Wild style. James “really liked how Teri approached the notorious Resident Evil resource scavenging/management problem by using her Sheikah Slate *and* threw in a little joke about Link’s own pot smashing/grass cutting approach to the same problem,” and Chris appreciated “the references to skills Link’s ‘recently acquired’ – until BOTW, he hadn’t had to scavenge for resources, but now he’s a pro at it!” Destiny also pointed this out as a positive, saying she didn’t even think about Link being able to use techniques he gained in Breath of the Wild.
Heavy anchors, water travel, land travel, stealth – Link seems to be equipped for every scenario, and even when it comes to fighting zombies he’s got some tricks up his sleeve. Athena noted that “the items at Link’s disposal is immense, and I liked that Sheikah Plate utilized as many as possible, instead of trying to focus on one game’s interpretation of Link’s items.” As Geddy read through, he kept thinking “how will he figure out— oh right, he has that super-specific thing that will work here!” Link’s arsenal seems tailor-made for this challenge and Teri Mae did an excellent job of bringing up the perfect tool for each situation.
“Ian, I think you’re forgetting about a competitor, here.” Right, yeah, we should totally check on Claire. Uh, where is Claire? Helloooooooooo?
While Link is off on a cheery fantasy adventure where everything is all sunshine and roses, tense music plays in the background as Claire goes through a very different experience. Where Link had an instant and quasi-magical solution to the problem of breathing underwater, Claire has to hyperventilate to give herself mere seconds of precious time with which to think through her options. Going from Teri Mae’s article to Luke’s, there is an immediate shift in tone that tells us we’re about to read a much more somber story.
James, the resident Resident Evil expert among the judges, commented at length on this. “Luke used the hopelessness of that situation to his advantage, creating a level of drama and tension that was really quite compelling in its own way. For me, that worked really well precisely because it mirrors the Narrative Tension and ‘surviving impossible situations’ elements of the Resident Evil Games, and as a fan of the series, I once again found Claire’s story believable and entirely in keeping with her character.” Destiny has some familiarity with RE as well as she agreed that “it definitely seems like something that would happen (or has happened) in Resident Evil.”
Luke begins in the middle and circles back to the beginning, justifying in his narrative how Claire got into this situation in the first place. He also brings a bit of levity to the situation by making some in-jokes about Resident Evil, specifically the tendency of evil bases to explode after you infiltrate them. Destiny particularly enjoyed that moment, and Chris talked positively about these opening moments. “I love that Luke thought about how Claire would have got there, despite the fact that the story picks up as she’s drifting through the waves: she knew what was about to happen, so she had time to breathe deeply. It makes sense – of course LeChuck would monologue before throwing her in – but I wouldn’t have thought about that!”
Everything about these two arguments is different. Teri Mae has Link tied to his anchor by nothing more than a bit of rope – Luke attached Claire with shackles that LeChuck had the forethought to forge together so they couldn’t be sprung open by a bobby-pin. Link is unworried about Claire as he frolics through Raccoon City playing the ocarina – Claire is driven to despair by the understanding that Link’s magical arsenal gives him an advantage that she feels she cannot compete with.
“Love what Hundstrasse did with Claire. Through Claire’s wandering mind while she drowned, there was an acknowledgement that Link was already far better eqipped for her world than she was for his. After all, in the zombie apocalypse, the sword is mightier than the gun… Tons of creativity points here.” Of course, the gun that Geddy refers to here is useless not just against the monsters of Hyrule but against the anchor to which Claire is attached. When she tries to break her chain with a bullet, the water takes all the force out of her shot and makes the weapon worthless.
As Link stands on Wesker’s doorstep, ready to slay the villain and save the day, Claire is still under the water, losing her last few moments of precious air. In her desperation, she makes a bold and very dangerous decision: whispering the names of her beloved companions, she injects herself with a sample of G-Virus she had reclaimed just before LeChuck interfered in her mission.
This moment really caught Destiny by surprise. “I was not expecting that. Once we got to the point where she was chained up I completely forgot she even had the G-Virus in her pocket!” James had a lot of positive things to say about this moment: “by finally resorting to the only recourse available to his character, [Luke] finished off with exactly the kind of rabbit-out-of-the-hat flourish that Resident Evil Games have become famous for. I’m not afraid to admit that the whole ‘self-sacrifice to save those you care about’ thing had me choking up at the end there, and the final lines emphasised the tragedy that necessarily needed to precede any potential victory.” The first act of Zombie Claire – and the last act of the article – is to mutter her mission aloud: destroy Ganondorf.
“Wait; the article ENDS there?” Yep, Luke took a big risk and chose to leave the part about Claire’s adventures as a zombie open-ended. Would Zombie Claire be able to make it to Ganondorf and defeat him? Is the G-Virus enough to give her the power needed to overcome a mighty sorcerer? We don’t get the answer to those questions, and this decision was perhaps the most divisive we’ve seen yet in the Blogger Blitz.
Chris, for example, saw this as a flat-out omission. “In the end, Claire decides that the only way to win is to unleash Zombie!Claire upon Hyrule, a truly terrifying image that I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t get to see in action. I don’t know enough about RE lore to know what sort of abilities Claire’s going to have as a mutant-thingy, so I sort of feel as if Luke hasn’t actually made an argument for how she’d do with the second half of the challenge.” Athena, too, found herself asking questions: “I suppose the G-virus-infused monster would be strong enough to kill Ganondorf, but would it destroy Hyrule, too? And how would she become human again? *Would* she become human again? These were some serious questions that left some very severe narrative gaps, and I would have liked to have seen some of them addressed.”
James, though, felt that this was a very intentional choice that said some really cool things about Luke’s narrative. “I actually thought it was contextually quite clever, precisely because it emphasised that Claire Redfield was playing the hand she was dealt, and that the desperation of her situation was key. Put another way, it was the first part – the wrestling with whether or not to take the nuclear option – that was the real challenge, and once she’d chosen to do that, her part as Claire Redfield was essentially done.” The idea that the article ends there because that is the end of Claire’s story is a compelling one. Looking at this not as the narrative of whether Claire can defeat Ganondorf, but as the story of whether Claire can make the no-turning-back decision that would make it possible, paints the whole thing in a different light.
We have two very different articles to compare this time around. Teri Mae used every tool at her disposal to tell the story of Link’s triumphant adventure through Raccoon City, using her extensive knowledge of Zelda lore to demonstrate how Link would be perfectly suited for every task. Conversely, Claire demonstrated how her usual arsenal of tools was inadequate for this task, and as a result she made the desperate decision to use the G-Virus. The article tells the story of her internal struggle, and then ends when Claire’s humanity fades. We’ve heard the judges look at these articles individually – so how do they compare overall?
The judges were effectively unanimous in their opinions of Teri Mae’s article: a solid examination of what Link was capable of, cleverly using all of his tools and abilities to the fullest extent. Destiny said “It’s hard NOT to pick Link when he has so many things he can do and is prepared for every situation.” Athena too stated that voting for Teri Mae seems to be the clear choice here: “Sheikah Plate did everything *right.* She wrote compelling arguments for each part of the challenge, and used her extensive knowledge to craft an interesting and persuasive story. She had my vote once for all of these reasons, and she should, by all accounts, have my vote again here.”
Yet you might see something about Athena’s statement that jumps out. “Had my vote once.” Past tense. Teri Mae did all the right things, but Luke predicted all of those right things in his own article, acknowledged them, and made a bold swing by focusing on a very different sort of narrative. It was this incredible risk that Athena wanted to reward with her vote. “I’m reminded of another story. A philosophy professor posed one question to his class at the end of the semester. He put a chair on top of his desk and asked them to prove to him, in an essay, why the chair did not exist. Most students began feverishly writing page after page of philosophical arguments, and two hours went by. One student had only written two words on her paper in that time, though. But at the end of the exam, she handed in her test with the other students. The professor gave her an ‘A.’ Her answer? ‘What chair?’ That is exactly what Hundstrasse did. *Of course* Claire would defeat Ganondorf. She would turn into a giant unstoppable monster. It was like he didn’t even need to say it, because it was so obvious.”
This is the point that it all boiled down to, folks. Teri Mae and Link played by the book, while Luke and Claire Redfield turned the book upside down and defined the challenge in his their own way. We’ve seen how two judges felt about those separate choices, but what about the rest? Which method won out in the end?
Link’s victory tune plays once again as Teri Mae claims her second victory! This was another tough match for the judges, but ultimately it boiled down to the fact that Luke’s article lacked the evidence to convince everyone that Zombie Claire could reach and defeat Ganondorf. Geddy certainly had his doubts about how that scenario would shake out: “as clever as Claire may be – what about Zombie Claire? I don’t know if taking out Ganondorf, someone inhuman who employs magic, would be inside the realm of possibility!” Chris put it this way: “Claire’s story of psychological terror, the despair of realising that the only solution was to become the thing she’s hunted, was unbelievably good… but Link gave us much more on how he’d actually survive the trap, plus how he’d then cope in his foe’s universe. It’s a very hard balance of style and substance, and while Teri Mae didn’t tell as great of a tale as Luke did, she delivered a more convincing argument, and that’s what we’re looking for.”
James had a lot of great things to say about Luke’s article, but still felt that in spite of everything Teri Mae did a better job of proving that this challenge is tailor-made for Link. “Luke manages to keep Claire in a competition she theoretically stood almost no chance in. As a judge, I find myself asking if that element is enough to win the competition, or if Link wins because he’s clearly the character best suited for this particular challenge. To declare Claire the winner would seem unfair given she’s essentially dead, but to side with Link would seem harsh given Claire did managed to overcome the challenge in the only way she could. At the end of the day, I don’t think I can argue with Link’s suitability for this particular challenge, though. His various magic gadgets and gizmos mean he’d likely survive Raccoon City’s dangers with relative ease, and his accumulated set of skills and abilities would translate brilliantly to the world of Resident Evil.”
Luke took a daring risk with his article and ultimately crafted a very compelling narrative piece, but when it came time to prove that Claire could find and take on Ganondorf when running solely on instinct, there just wasn’t enough to convince the judges. Conversely, Teri Mae made sure that Link had every tool he needed in order to complete the challenge successfully, and left no question of his ability to do so. So great job to Luke for a battle well-fought, and congratulations to Teri Mae of Sheikah Plate for going on to the championship round!
Speaking of the championship: on Monday, September 18th, at 9 AM EST, I will be announcing the championship event and the dates you can expect those articles to go up. You’ll want to make sure you come and check that out – you certainly don’t want to miss this championship match, as the event should be quite the challenge for both heroes coming to the battle. Thank you for reading, adventurers – I hope you are as excited as I am to see the first Blogger Blitz champion crowned!