In some of Nintendo’s most iconic series there exists an unusual phenomenon. Upon the release of a successful first entry in the series, rather than doubling down on what worked, Nintendo decided to change the game (literally) by experimenting with new ideas. Metroid II: Return of Samus moved from console to handheld and blocked off parts of the environment until certain goals were achieved. Super Mario Bros 2 featured multiple playable characters with different abilities and no longer allowed you to defeat enemies by stomping them, instead having to throw them into each other. Fire Emblem Gaiden added dungeons and short-term strategic combat in contrast to the large-scale map battles of the original. And Zelda II: The Adventure of Link gave us a side-scrolling action RPG that barely resembled the original game at all.
Some of these titles were well-received. Others met some hostility at their differences from their predecessors. But regardless of their critical reception, each of these games introduced something that became an iconic part of the series. What would Mario be without Birdo or Shy Guys? How would we recognize Samus without her signature Varia Suit? And who could forget the introduction of Dark Link, a villain who has appeared in many a Zelda game? Sure, Fire Emblem may gotten rid of dungeons for a reason and Link hasn’t side-scrolled in ages, but these games dared to take risks and as a result left a distinct impression on their respective series. In the modern era, we look back at these titles and see just how different they are from the other games in the series and we label them:
AREN’T YOU CLEVER WITH YOUR TITLES. SO WHAT’S BLOGGER BLITZ?
Blogger Blitz is a community event that was held on Adventure Rules in 2017. Fourteen bloggers (and my wife) worked together to bring the gaming community a two-month-long tournament in which eight competitors wrote articles about their favorite characters overcoming ridiculous challenges. Their submissions were judged by a panel of five judges, who chose a winner each match based on who they believed achieved the results of each event the best. At the end of it all, one blogger was crowned the champion. You can check out the original Blogger Blitz tournament in its entirety here (scroll to the bottom of the page to start from the beginning).
The idea of a sequel to the event has never been far from my mind. Some bloggers didn’t get to participate in the event who would have liked to. Other bloggers wished to try out a different role, competing instead of judging or vice versa. Still others didn’t find Adventure Rules until after the event was already over. Regardless of the reasons, when the dust settled and everyone had a few months to breath, I began to think about what a Blogger Blitz 2 would even look like.
I had things I wanted to change, of course. I felt like some of my intentions had been unclear in the beginning, and that this lack of clarity had led to some muddy rules that perhaps made the competition a bit unfair for certain competitors. I wanted to expand, too, to have more competitors or more matches or some combination of the two which would allow even more people to be involved and to compete as fairly as possible. Many of my visions would drastically alter the essence of the Blogger Blitz, and much to my disappointment some of them proved to be too impractical. After all, the original event took two full months to complete, and by the end the most involved participants were certainly running the risk of burnout. I couldn’t ask anyone to commit any more time – so rather than making Blogger Blitz different by making it bigger, I had to make it different by other means.
OKAY, WE’ll BITE – WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT BLACK SHEEP?
The original Blogger Blitz event worked like this: each competitor chose their favorite video game character and signed up for the tournament. In a random drawing, I as the host created match-ups between the eight competitors and assigned them a random event such as delivering mail while being pursued by Cerberus, selling their signature weapon to a retail outlet, or even setting up a disgusting creature on a blind date. Competitors could write their articles in whatever format they chose, with only a word limit to rein in their creativity – some created compelling works of fiction while others used a more efficient list approach and still others wrote songs. Judges chose the victor individually with no discussion among themselves, so the winner was decided by a majority vote.
Blogger Blitz: Black Sheep will feature three main differences from the original Blogger Blitz structure. First off, I as the host will be disclaiming all responsibility for the random events. Last year I created all of the events that the characters competed in – this year, that responsibility will fall to the fans. During the month of May, I will accept submissions for events for the first round. During the month of June, I will accept submissions for events for the semifinals and the championship. At the beginning of each month I will post an article sharing exactly how you can suggest events for the competition, so if you’re interested, keep an eye open for those.
The second difference is for competitors – and just how different it is will vary based on participation. Regardless of how many competitors there are, all characters submitted to this competition will be villains. Last year the Blogger Blitz was saturated with heroes (with one exception) – this year, the bad guys will run the show. So if you’re interested in being a competitor, you’d best be thinking of which villainous antagonist you’d like to submit to the competition! Now what may or may not change depending on the level of interest in the competition is that the game may consist of eight teams of two rather than eight single competitors. If a bunch of people sign up, I want to turn away as few as possible, but there will come a time when the judge’s table is oversaturated – can’t have too many cooks in the kitchen. So if there are enough bloggers interested to have sixteen competitors instead of eight, rather than make the competition larger and longer, folks will be made into teams in order to allow as many people to participate as possible. If you’re interested in competing, the sign-up post will be posted here on Adventure Rules on July 2nd, 2018. The competition will begin July 30th and, if you’re good, will run all the way through the end of September.
The third and final difference will apply to the judges of the competition. Specifically, judging will now be a collaborative group effort rather than individually-cast votes in a vacuum. I’ve thought a lot about this one – it’s a question I posed to some of the participants in the past and they had mixed feelings about the decision. After all, if the judges come to some kind of agreement before the verdict is officially announced, they are no longer surprised by the outcome of each match – they know what’s gonna happen. However, an issue we ran into last year was that some judges felt frustrated by the fact that they didn’t get to communicate with the others. Upon seeing another judge’s vote and the reason behind it, they thought to themselves “well I would have voted that way too if I had thought to look at it from that perspective.” It was not unusual for some judges to misunderstand a submission due to lack of familiarity with the source material while those who knew the games had interesting insights into the article. I think that having the judges share their ideas and come to a consensus together will ultimately be fairer to the competitors, even if it means that the judges have to take a bit more of an administrative role and are no longer shocked by the outcome of the competition. But hey, if it sucks, we’ll nix it for Blogger Blitz 3 and blame the whole awful mess on the Black Sheep theme. Like competitors, judges can sign up on July 2nd, 2018 and expect to judge submissions from August through September.
AUGUST? WHY ARE YOU ANNOUNCING THIS SO FAR IN ADVANCE?
While it may seem silly to be planning a community event so far ahead of time, in reality we’re gonna need this much advanced notice for a lot of reasons. It gives us two months – May and June – for fellow bloggers to submit event concepts and to do votes and things surrounding that. Once sign-ups come along in July, we’ll basically have a week for each step: one week for the actual sign-ups, one week to form teams if there are enough competitors, one week to assign match-ups and events, and then a week to write the posts before matches start going live in August. These projects take time and setting everything this far in advance allows us to take the time necessary to get everything done smoothly.
The other reason is because I’m not the only blog out there. Plenty of other cool people are planning community events, and I’m smack in the middle of some of them myself. By announcing the timing of Blogger Blitz months in advance, folks can plan ahead by managing how many other events they sign up for or by not starting their own really big events when the competition is about to get going. This way, every interested blogger can get their ducks in a row with time to spare before the competition begins. It may seem too early, but the early bird gets the worm – or in this case, the community event time slot that doesn’t conflict with a dozen other event ideas.
So there you have it, adventurers! Blogger Blitz is coming back in a big way, and I would love for you to be involved in the event. If this all sounds pretty cool to you but you’re not a follower of Adventure Rules, you should click the follow button to your right or find me on Twitter, where I’ll definitely be sharing some extra details that don’t always make it to these blog posts. Twitter is also where all the smack talk, judicial bribes, and general good-times of the Blogger Blitz take place, so you’ll definitely want to be engaged with the #BloggerBlitz community when things get going. I hope that whether you choose to participate as a competitor, a judge, or a fan of the competition, you’ll be a part of Blogger Blitz: Black Sheep and help to make this sequel the definitive version of the event!