It’s Friday, fight fans, and you know what that means! On Monday two fantastic bloggers submitted their entries for the Blogger Blitz: Black Sheep tournament, and for days they and you have all waited patiently for the final decision of our sagacious judiciary. Today, the time has come to learn once and for all which of these vile masterminds will claw their way to the semifinals – and which will lie beaten on the ground like a world one miniboss. If you’re reading this and today is your first ever Blogger Blitz match, worry not! You can see the full round one match schedule or meet the competitors before reading the match or you’re welcome to wait until after if you prefer.
This week is an interesting one in that the landscape of the battle has changed multiple times throughout the buildup to the match. Both the red and blue corners for this battle were once occupied by different bloggers and villains, but the forces of light conspired to make this year’s third match just like last year’s with only one competitor and no opponent to fight. Fortunately, two scheming villains were happy to take advantage of the opening: Sigma from the Mega Man X series (sponsored by Monk of Mists) and Ganondorf from the Legend of Zelda series (sponsored by Sheikah Plate). Clicking the character names will take you to the match posts for this week, and the blog names will take you to the sponsor’s Twitter – go follow them wherever you can find them! Also, throughout this post you’ll see me referring to Sigma’s sponsor as FlameFlash and Ganon’s sponsor as Teri Mae, so uh, get ready for that.
Finally, if you haven’t met our amazing judges yet, you’re seriously missing out. One is my wife Destiny, a talented artist who for some reason I still haven’t recruited to do the art for these posts yet. Then there’s Pix, a fashionable blogger who is number one when it comes to top fives. And of course who can forget Kim, whose love of Monkey Island is known far and wide in the blogging world? Be sure you follow all of these super cool ladies, and throw them a thank you on social media – without them, this event couldn’t happen. Now that all of the introductions are taken care of, it’s time to get down to business and see which of these bloggers can write the best blog post about bloggers writing blog posts! Oh dear, my head already hurts…
This week’s match was an event that really pushes the meta elements of Blogger Blitz to the next level. Even during the inaugural year last year, folks were already breaking the fourth wall left and right, making clever references to real-world phenomena or acknowledging in the narrative that the characters came from video games (and all of the quirks which that entails). This event takes all of that and multiplies it, as the competitors are locked in their own miniature Blogger Blitz competition – whoever can compose the most compelling blog post takes the victory! There’s only one problem: they can’t actually type the post themselves.
As if it wasn’t difficult enough to make compelling words come out of our brains and put them onto a page, these wicked tyrants must do so while a monkey types in their place. And not just any monkey, oh no – a three-headed monkey straight from good ole Monkey Island! Triple the heads means triple the mayhem, and by golly if there isn’t going to be some monkey business in this week’s match. How can our villains convince the monkeys to help them type a convincing blog post? Do monkeys even know how to type? These are questions our competitors sought to answer this week, and Monday we saw them exchange blows. Today, we’ll see who came out unscathed.
When it comes to format, both bloggers chose the classic Blogger Blitz narrative approach. Teri Mae went with a first-person style, with the whole post being something of an inner monologue from Ganondorf – this is an interesting change from last year where her character’s voice was distinctly absent. Seeing her portray the villain to her previous hero is a cool change of pace. FlameFlash, for his part, gave us a classic third person narrative in an impressive display of sci-fi goodness. I knew he was good based on seeing his comments in previous matches (which you should definitely check out if you never saw them), but getting a full length post was a real treat!
For this competition, the judgement was broken down into four general categories to examine piece by piece: the portrayal of the villain, the portrayal of the three-headed monkey, the villain’s solution to the monkey problem, and the actual blog post that the villain composed. We’ll move through each category in that order, looking at who gained advantages in each individual one before finally looking at who the judges ultimately voted for. When it comes to villains, our competitors this week were quite different from one another!
Let’s begin with Sigma. FlameFlash shows us a villain who is patient and methodical, as much as scientist as a conqueror. His machine thinking is clear from the get go – Sigma desires to learn how to “interface” with the three-headed monkey and he refers to the monkey and its various actions in strictly biological or mechanical terms. Kim particularly enjoyed how his works as an excellent introduction to Sigma for those who aren’t familiar with the character, and Destiny said much the same thing. “I’ve not played Mega Man X, so I don’t know much about the character, but it was very easy to picture the scene.”
Conversely, Ganondorf comes out of the gate angry and just gets angrier as the post goes on. Teri Mae has chosen a frustrated, angsty portrayal of the character reminiscent of the more arrogant Ocarina of Time incarnation – as opposed to, say, the more collected and subtle Wind Waker Ganon. Our judges loved this choice! Pix liked Ganondorf’s sweeping, grand statements, and Destiny (an avid Zelda fan) found a lot to like in this post. She particularly appreciated specific references to the Zelda timeline: “Ganondorf talked about his first minion being the demon Ghirahim, referencing Skyward Sword (which is first in the timeline), and then when he said that maybe his next minions will be made entirely out of metal, which is a reference to the Guardians from Breath of the Wild (which is last in the timeline).”
So who edged out a victory in the realm of villains? While all of the judges felt that both writers performed quite well in this regard, Teri Mae’s portrayal of Ganondorf as an angry, overly dramatic sorcerer (along with her extensive knowledge of Zelda canon) earned her an early lead. Calm, cool, and collected may be the best approach to problems in real life, but this is a tournament, dang it, and folks like to see some fire out on the arena!
So we know where the villains stand, but what about each blogger’s portrayal of their three-headed monkey? Again, each one took a very different approach, one suited to the style of their character. For FlameFlash and Sigma, the monkey was an animal – primal, chaotic, and totally incapable of the challenge placed before it. Getting the monkey to blog was a matter of figuring out how to interact with and manipulate a totally unintelligent creature. Conversely, for Teri Mae and Ganondorf, the monkey was perfectly capable of doing what it was supposed to – but its defiant nature meant that Ganondorf would have to tame or coerce it into using its blogging skills for good. Or rather, evil.
Sigma’s monkey portrayal focused hard on the creature’s monkey-like features, and that’s something the judges quite enjoyed. ” I like that the monkey is very much portrayed as a monkey (if that makes sense), and that as a reploid, Sigma struggles to understand how to deal with it,” says Pix. Kim added that “I liked how FlameFlash used the monkey for comedy – having it ‘throw something’ with an ‘awful smell’. He cleverly dealt with the fact that Sigma had no idea how to interface with it and having to overcome three heads.” From the flinging of poo to the random screeching to the inability to type intelligibly, the realism of Sigma’s monkey worked well with the villain’s scientific approach.
Then there’s Ganondorf’s monkey, one which focuses more on the three-headed problem moreso than typical monkey qualities. That’s not to say we don’t see any monkey business happening here – as a Monkey Island expert, Kim particularly liked how Teri Mae’s monkey captured some of the original spirit of the creature. “Nice bit of comedy with the monkey taking everything Ganon was telling him to do quite literally! It’s like the whole monkey-wrench joke from Monkey Island, where the creature originates from.” Pix found a lot to like in the way the monkey’s post writing was portrayed: “The way the monkey’s early attempts to type the message are written are brilliant with the typos and repeated phrases.”
So which monkey did the judges prefer? While the monkey is a big part of FlameFlash’s post, in Teri Mae’s the creature plays a bit more of a background role. Kim explains it like this: “in FlameFlash’s post, the monkey had a voice; whereas in Teri Mae’s, it’s only presence was through the typing of the blog post itself.” While the monkey had some presence in Teri Mae’s post, with Sigma we see the monkey playing a central role in a way that is both clever and funny. Ganondorf’s early lead didn’t last long as Sigma gets in touch with his animal side to make a connection!
The next category is the actual solution to the monkey problem implemented by each villain. How exactly do you get a coherent blog post out of a three-headed simian? Each blogger gave an answer to this question which was quite consistent with their portrayal of their villain and their monkey, and like each of our other categories so far this led to some very different outcomes! As always, we’ll start with FlameFlash.
Sigma had to figure out how to interface with a biological organism with no method of intelligent communication that he could decipher. Even when he was able to communicate with the monkey, he realized that there was no way it could type a blog post without some serious help. His solution? Like most good internet memes, Sigma relied on the power of predictive text! “FlameFlash uses this idea cleverly with the premise that the monkey would not be able to actually write a passable blog post on it’s own, so by using predictive text, he comes up with a way that the monkey can actually write one,” Pix explains. “He chose a very creative way to get the monkey to cooperate,” Destiny says, “without excessive violence.” Speaking of excessive violence…
Teri Mae and Ganondorf decided to rely on the direct approach with the three-headed monkey. Sure, he tried at first to tempt the creature with a banana, but it took almost no time for him to escalate to full-blown mind control and then, when that failed, physical violence. Ganondorf brutally removed two of the three monkey heads, making it 67% easier to control the creature with magic. And just like any good video game, the inclusion of graphic violence greatly increased the quality of the submission! “Ganon utilizes fear and violence as his weapons, which is perfectly in keeping with his character, he isn’t exactly a subtle guy,” Pix says.
So what’s the best way to tame a monkey – technology or violence? Kim says that both methods made a lot of sense, particularly when looked at from the villain perspective: “both competitors dealt with the monkey in a way which was very in-keeping with their chosen villains.” Destiny preferred the way that FlameFlash handled things, saying of Ganondorf’s approach “I would have liked [Teri Mae] to spend more time on figuring out what to do to get the monkey to work, than repeating the same few lines over and over and then just cutting off their heads (seemed a bit too easy).” Pix, meanwhile, felt that while the predictive text approach was a clever concept, it also served as Sigma’s achilles heel. “The resulting post doesn’t really seem that helpful to Sigma, and Sigma didn’t have much say in what was written in it.” When it comes to this category, a final decision couldn’t be made, leaving the game all tied up at this point in the match!
We now come to the final category before the votes were tallied: the post within the post, the blog articles written by our two competitors – or rather, written by their monkey proxies. We already know the manner in which these aggravated antagonists finally got the posts onto the page – so how did the actual content of the posts turn out? What thoughts did these villains wish to share with the world at large?
When it comes to Sigma, we may never know what it is that he truly intended to convey. FlameFlash treated the challenge as if the goal was simply to make the monkey write something – again, there was a clear focus on realism here. What can a monkey actually blog about? Generating the blog post through predictive text led to an article that was short, sweet, and somewhat to the point: it was a nice treat to get insight into FlameFlash’s text history as specific words crept into the post. I personally enjoyed the idea of weaponizing “the elegato” – I’d love to see the look on Sigma’s face when he learns what that particular device is really for.
We get something a lot more substantial from Ganondorf, a rather in-depth look at his inner turmoil and future plans as he ponders his most recent failure. As Destiny pointed out earlier, we get a good overview of the Zelda series here with all signs pointing to Breath of the Wild as Ganon’s malice builds. The judges really enjoyed how Ganondorf’s blog post turned out. “It ended up being something quite personal to him,” Kim noted, while Pix said of this post that “the tone is so imposing and grand. It is intelligent rather than being outrageously evil, and I like how he admits to past mistakes – Teri Mae actually makes him sound quite relatable.”
It’s likely clear at this point which blog post the judges preferred overall. While Sigma was praised for his cleverness and, in the context of the fiction that FlameFlash established, this blog post is a pretty impressive feat for the three-headed monkey, its brevity and random composition gave it more weaknesses than strengths. “He did the opposite of Teri Mae in that he spent, what I would consider, too much time on the monkey and little to no time on his Sigma’s ‘blog post,'” Destiny said. Kim added “there isn’t much actual ‘writing’ going on in this entry and most of it is dedicated to dealing with the monkey.”
So we come at last to the final moments, when the judges cast their votes to determine the winner of the competition. Let’s take a moment to remember where everyone stands. Teri Mae and Ganondorf took an early lead thanks to her portrayal of Ganondorf as a villain, but FlameFlash’s portrayal of Sigma was also highly praised and he made short work of his opponent where characterization of the three-headed monkey was concerned. Both competitors came up with in-character solutions and used totally opposite approaches, leaving them in a heated deadlock. However, Teri Mae and Ganondorf have an advantage when it comes to the final blog post submitted, as the predictive text plan left Sigma’s post a bit underwhelming. This seems to give Teri Mae an advantage, but is it as simple as all that?
Destiny is a huge Zelda fan and had some glowing praise for Teri Mae when it came to her portrayal of Ganondorf as a villain. But despite her early impressions of the post, by the end she wasn’t feeling it. “Although the speech Teri Mae used for Ganondorf was very in character, I think Ganondorf would have manipulated the monkey into doing his work, rather than violently,” she said. She ultimately cast her vote for FlameFlash, saying that “I think that Flame Flash did everything [that was] asked and spent a good amount of time finding a clever way to work with the monkey to make the post. And I loved that he treated the monkey like an actual animal…they both did great, but in my opinion Flame Flash went beyond.”
Kim also described FlameFlash and Sigma as doing an excellent job. “It’s clear from this post that FlameFlash is an extremely good writer who knows his character well,” she said. Yet Kim’s vote didn’t ultimately land on the same side as Destiny. “Ganondorf’s method of dealing with the monkey may have been violent but it was in-keeping with his personality; and I liked how the resulting blog post ended up being quite personal, covering both his anger and self-doubt.” Teri Mae’s decision to use the final blog post to really explore Ganondorf’s inner self made a big difference and allowed her to tie things up.
That brings us to one final judge, Pix. This was an interesting time in the deliberation process because a key question came up that ultimately could change the whole direction of the competition: how important was it that the competitor come up with a strong blog post at the end of the article? Sigma’s predictive text blog post was a big weakness, but he had a lot of strengths, particularly when it came to his clever way of “interfacing” with the three-headed monkey and his portrayal of the monkey’s characteristics. Did it really matter that Signa’s final post proved the weaker entry? After some discussion and looking back at the event description, the judges decided…
…that yeah, that final blog post is pretty dang important. Let’s look at this line from the event text: “the post within the post will be judged by the judges to determine which blogger wins, which by extension will determine which blogger wins.” That was the big deciding factor for Pix. “That quote was the main reason that I picked Teri Mae’s entry, but only on the assumption that the monkey is inherently capable of typing a blog post but just needed persuading to actually do it. I thought that idea was implied by the nature of the challenge…if I remove that assumption I’d change my vote. But unless that assumption is totally wrong, then I’ll stick with my original vote” (emphasis mine). Ultimately, no argument came up that defeated this one. While FlameFlash and Sigma definitely put up a valiant fight – Destiny never changed her vote either – the event rules made a clear case for Teri Mae and Ganondorf to claim victory that both Kim and Pix felt could not be ignored. “Although FlameFlash did an absolutely excellent job,” Kim said, “my vote is going to Teri Mae this time. I loved her portrayal of Ganon, and the balance between dealing with the monkey and blog-writing.” While Sigma was stronger in particular categories, Ganondorf had an all-around appeal that helped him to secure victory.
So congratulations to Teri Mae and valiant effort to FlameFlash! Ganondorf will go on to the semifinal round to face Marjolaine of Dragon Age fame, while Sigma will spend the rest of the Blitz on the sidelines. I once again encourage you to go check out the blogs of everyone involved in the competition, as they are all talented bloggers and excellent folks to talk to. I’ve enjoyed getting to know FlameFlash over the past few weeks and am so grateful for his willingness to step into a competition he knew nothing about when the call for an alternate went out. I’ll extend that same thanks to Teri Mae – it wasn’t her intent to compete this year, but she still volunteered to be an alternate when yet another blogger had to take his leave. Both of these competitors are champions in my book, so go show them some love!
If you’ve enjoyed the Blogger Blitz match today, be sure to come back next week to see the final match of the first round. The next battle takes place between Charles Jericho of Driver and Frank Fontaine of Bioshock, and they’ll be facing a classic video game scenario: a deadly boss rush! You won’t want to miss it, and I fully recommend that you follow Adventure Rules on Twitter to keep up with the interviews, smack talk, and speculation that happens exclusively on social media. Thanks so much for reading, fight fans, and we’ll see you again next week for the final bout before the semifinals begin!