I Call Bullshit: Collector's Editions, Soulcalibur IV and the Wii's Blue Light Special
IT'S OFFICIAL: COLLECTOR'S EDITIONS ARE, IN GENERAL, NOT WORTH COLLECTING
Pop quiz: What do Grand Theft Auto IV and Soulcalibur IV have in common, besides their obvious affinity for Roman numerals? Answer: Both triple-A titles will be available in normal and "collector's edition" packaging when released this year. A collector's edition typically involves a swatch of artwork, a cigar-box tin and a brief, unsatisfying making-of DVD. (Special editions can also feature figurines, hideous Xbox 360 faceplates and size-fat T-shirts, among other things.) Bundle all this together, and voila, retailers can automatically charge an extra $10 to $30 more for a game. Exactly what do you get in return? A bunch of dust-gathering tripe that has even less sentimental value than your collection of here's-proof-that-I-once-drank-this-amount-of-alcohol souvenir glasses you got in New Orleans.
DARTH VADER AND YODA: DO YOU GUYS NEED A RIDE HOME OR SOMETHING?
When we heard that Darth Vader and Yoda would be making appearances in the upcoming Soulcalibur IV last January, we found ourselves enduring the K?bler-Ross stages of grief. Denial. ("It can't be!") Anger. ("Star Wars characters have no f***ing business in the milieu of Soulcalibur. None!") Bargaining. ("But Voldo or Taki wouldn't be out of place in the Cantina. In fact, Han would probably fancy Taki?") Depression. ("Why would Mitsurugi's blade not be instantly sliced in half by a light saber? WHY?") And, finally, sadly, Acceptance. ("Those suck-ass prequels reduced Vader and Yoda to cartoon characters, anyway. And Soulcalibur's last iteration kind of sucked. Perhaps two sucky things together might make something good? Maybe?")
Regardless, we sincerely hope that Namco-Bandai will leave behind the guest-star gimmick in all future Soulcalibur installments. This isn't the damn Love Boat. Have some dignity, will you? Instead of featuring Loni Anderson, Sonny Bono and an unlockable Charo in Soulcalibur V, try creating a convincing, cohesive game world, one that potentially broadens the genre in a much-needed way. How's that for a novel concept?
THE WII'S BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL
Sometime last weekend that neon-blue strip of light on the front of the Wii began glowing again. It pulsed organically, going dim, going brighter, going dim, going brighter, keeping a steady inhale-exhale rhythm.
In the months after the Wii's launch, we loved the blue light. The blue light indicated that we had a new message from a friend. It meant that a new Mii had arrived in Mii Plaza. In other words, it meant good things.
But then something went wrong.
One day a few months after launch we received a blue-light message that was not a new Mii or a note from someone. It was a stale bit of marketing speak from Nintendo HQ informing me that the "Everybody Votes" channel was now available. OK. Fine. We fooled around a bit with the new channel, casting votes on dynamic issues like whether chocolates or roses made for a more romantic Valentine's Day gift, whether we'd rather be a famous scientist or famous chef, or whether we washed our faces or brushed our teeth last before going to bed.
After that dalliance with the Everybody Votes channel, the blue light began lighting up on a far more regular basis.
"Results on in on whether Wii owners prefer dust or lint."
"Fifty-two percent of Wii owners prefer beige to off-white."
We're exaggerating a bit, sure, but not by much.
And the blue lights didn't stop there. We began receiving more marketing-speak notes from Nintendo HQ, more impersonal messages letting us know that new Virtual Console offerings were for sale, that new channels were now available.
The once-beloved blue light? The one that we'd see blinking out of the dark at us whenever we'd return to the Crispy office on a Monday morning? That former indicator that something cool and unique and, more importantly, personal was happening on the Wii had become yet another obnoxious light in my life that we needed to learn how to ignore. The formerly comforting dim/bright/dim/bright inhale-exhale rhythm now had all the charm of listening to a throat cancer victim smoke a cigarette through his throat hole.
And we're calling out the bullshit.
[Disclaimer: The writer is indeed aware that the blue light can be dimmed or even powered off via the Wii's system settings. The writer is also aware that the Soulcalibur IV news on Darth Vader and Yoda is indeed dated, but a recent gameplay demo of the game in San Francisco got his ire up all over again.]