Good morning, fight fans, and welcome at last to Villain Con, the greatest celebration of malice on the entire internet! The convention center looks lovely today, decorated quite beautifully in crimson drapes which cast a dark pall over the stage. Torchlight provides the only illumination – that and the glowing eyes of the many villains lurking in the shadows. Today Adventure Rules has taken over Villain Con as part of the Blogger Blitz: Black Sheep competition. This event is the final match of the first round, the battle that will set in stone the semifinal competitors! If you want to meet those competitors, just read your informational pamphlet while the convention staff are doing sound checks.
Oh, what’s that? All the glowing eyes are moving towards one of the windows. They’ve torn the drapes down and allowed in the light from outside! But why would they do such a thing? Oh, it appears that there’s some kind of commotion at the parking garage beside the convention center. There’s a pair of vehicles driving in – wait, is that a bathysphere? Then that could only be Frank Fontaine, the villain sponsored by Michael of Git Gud at Life! And in the blue Cadillac – that’s gotta be Charles Jericho, who was sponsored by Alex Sigsworth! Those are the two speakers for the Blogger Blitz panel, so no wonder everyone is so excited.
Wait, now the judges are heading over to the window as well. There’s Pix, Kim, and Destiny – all three judges are present and the crowd is clearing a path for them to stand in front. The view into the parking garage is conveniently set up so that they can watch our two panelists driving through each level. It is also apparent that there’s only one parking spot left in the entire garage, and that on each level there’s a troublemaker waiting to prevent the villains from reaching it. Oh, I get it – there’s only gonna be one speaker at this panel, because the event that the judges are here to judge is happening in that parking garage. Get ready to drive, fight fans, because the time has come for the final event of the first round of Blogger Blitz: Parking Panic!
When it comes to Blogger Blitz events, not all challenges are created equal. This is particularly true where the word count is concerned, and sometimes randomly jumbling two event ideas into one super-event creates a scenario that’s really hard to describe in one thousand words. This is most certainly the challenge our competitors faced this week, as having to defeat not one, not two, but FOUR mighty bosses in a matter of a few paragraphs is no small feat. Perhaps because of this, we saw some interesting experimentation with format – Kim referred to this style as “business case-y” compared to what we usually see. As it turns out, the judges like this experiment!
Both Pix and Destiny enjoyed that when reading Michael’s post, they got a vibe not unlike that of a sports commentator. “I really like how he engaged the readers right from the start and presented it as if they were actually on the journey,” Pix said. Destiny agreed: “I like how Michael’s almost like a sports announcer walking us through all of the plays; it’s cool because no one else has done that.” She also added that seeing two posts presented from a different point of view compared to the usual Blogger Blitz style was refreshing.
Alex brought some unique formatting choices to his post as well, choosing to structure it by each level of the parking garage. Of course, the levels didn’t just proceed in numerical order, as Jericho needed to double back at one point to make sure he prepared himself properly for the next floor! Pix complimented this choice. ” I really enjoyed the way he presented the post as a series of levels, it meant each section was nice and compact and each level had it’s own distinct feel. I particularly liked the way he returned to level 2 after meeting Midir.” Kim thought it was interesting that Alex didn’t make use of his full 1000 word count, coming in around the 700 mark: “what could he have covered in the other 300?” There are certainly no rules concerning a minimum word count, though, and perhaps Alex felt that adding more would clutter his argument.
So who edged out in the formatting category? It was quite close as all three judges mentioned how they liked both formats quite a bit. In the end, Michael’s commentator style just barely edged out, giving Frank Fontaine a small lead as their vehicles race through the garage!
That brings us to the second category: the villains! Portraying your evil mastermind just right is a key component of the competition, and in Parking Panic these dastards had to break out some truly horrifying techniques to overcome the horde of bosses that awaited them. Particularly since neither of these characters is necessarily known for a set of sweet superpowers, they had to put their maniacal minds on overdrive to cook up the perfect scheme for each opponent.
Overall our judges felt that because of the way these posts were formatted – and the brief word count – they didn’t get to hear each villain’s “voice” in the same way that they did in previous events. This made it a bit more difficult to judge who managed to portray their creepy competitor as the most malicious. An added barrier was the overall lack of familiarity with these characters compared to some of the others who have been in the competition. In spite of this, the judges did have a few thoughts to share on these antagonistic automobilists (why yes, I did search the internet for that synonym, thank you for noticing).
This is another category where Michael and Alex seemed neck and neck during the competition. Both portrayed their villains as being up to some dirty business. “Frank is certainly very manipulative,” Kim said of Michael’s post, and concerning Alex: “[Jericho] comes across as intelligent, calm and collected.” Pix felt that neither villain had a particularly strong presence in their post but “liked the level of evil on show” by Jericho. For her part, Destiny stated that she felt like Fontaine displayed more villainy than his opponent.
So who took the villain award this week? Both characters demonstrated some truly evil behavior, but neither of their unique personalities necessarily took center stage in this category. With the two equally matched in this category, we’ll have to look elsewhere for a way to definitively rank these submissions!
Now this week our competitors didn’t just have their own villains to portray. They also had to show four different bosses guarding each level of the parking garage, bosses from a pretty unusual variety of games. From the peaceful Gandhi to the deadly Darkeater Midir to the adorable puffball Kirby to the classic Donkey Kong, this battle hopped all over the place and portraying each character true to life while also portraying them as a boss to deal with definitely provided a challenge. Destiny in particular felt that the word limit hurt both competitors in this category. ” I understand they have a word limit, but these boss battles seemed to end too quickly,” she noted, adding that while both of them did really well with Darkeater Midir, the other villains were pretty hit-or-miss.
Kim, our resident Bioshock fan, got a lot of enjoyment out of how Michael utilized the various abilities from Bioshock in a way that also referenced the weaknesses of the bosses within their own games. “The defeat of the dragon particularly stood out, using the bathysphere as fire protection and two special powers,” Kim stated. Pix also complimented the reference to Midir’s lightning weakness, and she also appreciated how Kirby’s copy ability was cleverly turned against him.
When it comes to Alex, Jericho doesn’t have many abilities or tools of his own to bring to bear against such capable enemies, but he cleverly worked around that weakness by using the bosses against each other. “I particularly liked how Alex used Kirby and his powers,” said Kim, referencing how Kirby’s amorphous form was used to fire him from a shotgun towards Midir. In fact, Jericho’s clever use of Kirby throughout the post grabbed praise from all three of the judges. However, despite having a clear advantage in this category, Alex and Jericho also had a big weakness: the portrayal of Donkey Kong. “There’s a Mario Kart reference in the last level but the challenge states that the last boss is ‘Donkey Kong and his classic barrels from Donkey Kong’,” Kim points out. And just as all three judges agreed that Alex knocked it out of the park with Kirby, they agreed that the failure to utilize Donkey Kong as he appears in his very first game was a misstep.
So who managed to take the lead here? Both Michael and Alex did a good job of portraying the mighty Midir, while neither paid any real attention to Gandhi. Alex gained ground with his Kirby portrayal and ultimately lost it again with Donkey Kong, who was portrayed as relying on his karting skills rather than his barrel-throwing. Just as it was with the portrayal of the villains themselves, when it came to the bosses it was difficult for the judges to determine a clear winner!
The final category is one so broad that we’ve just barely skated addressing it during the other categories as well: the method implemented to defeat the bosses. It’s a pervasive element of this event, and probably the most important one. It connects deeply to the post formatting, the portrayal of the villains, and the portrayal of the bosses. One could say that whoever takes this category wins all the marbles! So let’s look at each competitor one at a time to see who gets this very significant advantage.
While Alex’s mistake with Donkey Kong cost him dearly in the last category, Charles Jericho didn’t pull any punches when it came to his tactics. We’ve already touched on how much the judges enjoyed his manipulation of the various bosses and the formatting of his post, moving between the different levels. “I like the fact that Alex had Jericho visit certain levels more than once while he considered his plan of action, almost like a video game,” Kim said. “Pitting the bosses against each other was a nice villainous touch too – why do the dirty work yourself when you can have your enemies do it for you?” Pix, too, thought “it was clever how he uses the previous bosses to down the later ones.” Destiny had a lot of positive thoughts about Jericho’s methods: “It was really clever that he helped Gandhi instead of trying to fight him, and that he got Kirby to help him with a different boss. I feel like Kirby wouldn’t just attack somebody, so if he didn’t know who you were he would be a chill, sweet little bubble-gum ball. I thought those were really creative ways to do that.” Alex and Jericho clearly made a strong impression – so how did Michael and Frank stack up?
Frank’s methods depended a lot on abilities from the BioShock universe, but they were primarily abilities from other sources. Splicers, the bathysphere, Big Daddies – it seemed like Frank wasn’t really doing much to get his own hands dirty. “I wasn’t entirely sure about this entry as it seemed like Frank himself hadn’t done very much,” Kim said. Michael’s submission had its strong points too – Destiny appreciated that Fontaine figured out a way to defeat the bosses within his own options and resources, and Pix said that she “really liked how he used Kirby’s talents against him (i.e. getting him to eat ADAM)” and “I also like how he adapted his approach depending on the boss he was facing.”
Still, universal praise for Alex and Jericho versus some hit-and-miss methods from Michael and Fontaine means that one particular competitor has a clear advantage here. Fontaine fought valiantly and utilized the tools given to him by the BioShock world quite well, but Jericho’s truly evil manipulation of the bosses to destroy each other gave him the villainous edge he needed to score the empty parking space before Frank.
The crowd goes wild as Jericho’s blue Cadillac pulls into the parking space – but not in reverse, Pix points out! As everyone cheers I make my way towards the Villain Con stage to officially declare Alex and Charles Jericho to be victorious. A horde of glowing eyes watch me in anticipation as I walk up the small staircase leading onto the stage platform. I tap the microphone a couple of times with my finger to make sure it’s on, and take in a breath to make the announcement.
“Wait!” cries a voice. Three voices, in fact – the judges have called out to me in unison! I quickly rush to the window looking out into the parking garage, wondering what could possibly be important enough to pull me away from announcing the victor. As I look through the flames and carnage of the bathysphere’s destruction at the hands of Donkey Kong, and then to the blue Cadillac where Charles Jericho is seated, I watch as Jericho opens the door…and then slumps lifeless onto the ground! Next to him in the passenger’s seat – is Frank Fontaine! What the heck happened?
Ah, but if you read Michael’s post – or played BioShock – you very well may have seen this twist coming. Indeed, Frank and Michael had one last trick up their sleeve for their first ever Blogger Blitz submission, a wicked turn befitting of a fiendishly clever villain. Michael’s post ended in a plot twist, one which involved the reader directly in the story and showed the true extent of Fontaine’s plot. You, reader, are the one who provided all of the necessary tools for Fontaine to achieve victory – and under the guise of Michael himself, Fontaine rides your car all the way to the last Villain Con parking space and makes it quite peacefully past all of the obstacles as your resources and tools are expended to take out the bosses.
Remember when Kim said “I wasn’t entirely sure about this entry as it seemed like Frank himself hadn’t done very much”? I might have left out some words for dramatic effect. Let’s see the rest of her statement: “But it all clicked at the end and GGAL won me over; I loved the twist and how the writer included his own defeat. It was perfect for Frank’s character.” When it came to the level of skill demonstrated by each villain and their sponsor, the judges considered them to be on pretty even ground. Pix said “I enjoyed both entries and liked the use of quite different styles than we have seen so far this year…overall both entries were thoroughly entertaining, and both writers did well tackling this scenario as it was very demanding of the 1000 word limit.” So in a match where someone needed to make a risky play in order to get ahead, Michael’s plot twist proved to be just the risk that was needed.
This isn’t to say that the plan went off without a hitch. Destiny found the execution of the twist to be somewhat lacking, and thought it ultimately sowed confusion rather than crafting a convincing argument. “If he had made it to where he was controlling someone in his character’s game who could get him access to [the tools he used to win], I would have bought it more. It didn’t make any sense to me since he manipulated ‘us.’ I like that he tried to do something new with the plot twist at the end but it didn’t come across very clearly.” Even Pix, who ultimately felt positive about the twist at the end, found it to be disorienting. “It was confusing. It took me several reads to understand what was actually going on…it was however also clever and original, and I thought it was great to see something so different.” Fontaine’s gambit wasn’t executed perfectly, but it was enough to get him the edge he needed and defeat Charles Jericho once and for all.
Don’t worry adventurers, this one is for real! Alex and Michael both gave great submissions, particularly considering that Parking Panic is one of the most challenging events our competitors have had to shove into 1000 words so far. Alex and Jericho had some very clever solutions for the various bosses, but Michael and Fontaine’s skillful use of BioShock lore and adherence to the event rules gave them an edge.
“I thought Alex’s format was particularly good as its use of levels made me think of it as a video game in itself,” Pix said. “However, I have chosen Michael’s post as I believe his character dealt with the bosses better and generally adhered better to the scenario.” Even Destiny, who felt that Fontaine’s plot twist detracted from the post due to its confusing nature, still ultimately voted for Michael. “Alex didn’t follow the rules,” she stated – that mistake with Donkey Kong proved to be a major hurdle for Alex and Jericho to have to overcome, and Michael was able to seize that opening and secure a victory.
That’s going to bring today’s event to an end, and along with it the first round of the Blogger Blitz: Black Sheep competition! But just because this round is over doesn’t mean there’s no more fun to be had. This evening around 5:30 PM EST on the Adventure Rules Twitter page, I’ll be randomly drawing the events for the semifinal round of the competition. Then on Monday, August 27th, I’ll be sharing the official match schedule for the semifinals, complete with full event descriptions and even some tips based on the first round. Finally, let’s give a big congratulations to Michael of GGAL for making it to the semifinals along with his sponsored villain Frank Fontaine, and commiserations to Alex and Charles Jericho – everyone fought well this week and showed those bosses…who’s boss! With that glorious pun, I will make my exit and let you folks enjoy the rest of Villain Con. I hope to see you tonight for the semifinal live drawing!