After a lovely family lunch at Mama D’s with my grandparents to celebrate my Grandpa Joe’s belated birthday, Alyson made me take her over to Target.
She didn’t need anything. She just wanted to wander aimlessly and kill time.
To be fair I do that sort of thing with my friends constantly, to the point where we covertly call ourselves the ‘Loiter Bois,’ so I couldn’t argue. In fact I was pretty into the idea. Especially considering Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee & Pikachu just came out and I was interested in seeing it on shelves as I start to prepare my holiday wish list.
But then something happened. Idly wandering the video game and toy aisles making fun of things turned into more when she found this rip-off Lego Pokémon toy of one of my favorites:
Isn’t Mimikyu just the cutest? Who needs Pikachu when you’ve got one of them, huh?
On the one hand, I don’t know why I let her convinced me to buy this thing. I just started cleaning my room up for the Thanksgiving Break, and having another little figurine to take up space seems counterintuitive. Plus, when I say this thing was a Lego rip-off, I mean it is like a real cheap Lego rip-off.
Just look at how weirdly confusing and unintuitive these instructions are.
Somehow it manages to take a Lego figurine made out of ~20 pieces and not distinctly separate out which pieces are what for big chunks of the instructions. It took some time to figure out which parts went where.
But at the very least I suppose these Mega Construx are similar to Lego in that they have just random extra pieces for no reason.
Where do you go, random circle piece? I don’t see you anywhere in the instructions.
Granted I did just complain that the instructions were unintuitive so maybe I’m just missing something… But oh well.
On the other hand, despite those points, I really can’t complain about the purchase. It was maybe six dollars for a pseudo-figurine of one of my favorite Pokémon and it came with a Premiere Ball, which is also probably my favorite kind of Poké Ball.
Its creepy long neck might just haunt me in my dreams, but I’ll happily suffer that fate for Mimikyu.
However, I didn’t just buy this fake Lego. I was pretty close to putting it down and not buying anything because it just didn’t seem worth it to get one item. Especially if that one item was a dumb toy like this.
So my sister made up for it by buying another toy while we were there:
Yeah that’s right, I know you’ve seen these kinds of dumb collectible packs for every popular culture property in existence.
Well we got one to open up for ourselves just for the hell of it. Even though the movie isn’t out yet as of my writing this, so who knows if it’ll be worth supporting fringe toy-based ventures for it.
All I know is it definitely became worth it when we decided to do this jokey, vague toy opening YouTube channel parody just to put here on the old blog.
See? Even though I make fun of her a bunch on here, she’s still more than happy to make herself look stupid alongside me when the time comes.
I guess this is the part where I would tell you all to like, comment and subscribe to my channel like every cliché in the book tells me I should? But honestly I just use that thing as a dumping place for videos that I want to throw up on my blog, as WordPress has kind of terrible compression when videos and such are concerned.
But that’s going way into the weeds for no reason. I just wanted to share the fun, silly thing my sister and I did today.
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate comes out for the Nintendo Switch on August 28.
Personally I am beyond excited about it!
I’ve been a bit of a Monster Hunter junkie since my first experience playing Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on the 3DS, with interest lingering into Monster Hunter Generations. The game series scratches every conceivable itch that I have related to collectibles, crafting, sweet monsters and all of that fun stuff.
Unfortunately I have not put any significant time into World. Don’t have the proper hardware to play it, despite a great interest in the more open world experience.
Ironically, a lot of my friends who had never played Monster Hunter before got into the series because of World where I technically lagged behind. But that’s another story.
Generations Ultimate promises to be an even more hype version of the 3DS game that I put hundreds of hours into, for three primary reasons:
More monsters — There are supposed to be 93 large monsters to hunt in the game, with over 30 small ones to round out each area. That’s so many armor and weapon sets to collect that I just. Can’t.
Continued mobile fun — One of the great things about Monster Hunter on the 3DS is how easy it is to segment hunts on the go. The Nintendo Switch has the same capabilities, but also…
Better graphics — The Switch has far better graphical capabilities than the 3DS. Like insanely better. Not quite Monster Hunter World levels, but still insanely crisp for someone like me who has been on the 3DS market for forever.
With those details in mind, I’ve been hyped up going into this new Monster Hunter game for some time.
But after playing the demo that launched for the game, I’m even more hyped. Being able to try the game essentially confirmation biased my impressions coming in. Yet, it also did much more.
In my point of view, Capcom created a near-perfect demo for their game that showcases basically everything veteran hunters and fledgling players need to know to understand what’s new and better about Gen Ultimate.
There are three main reasons why I’d make that argument. So, here they are in detail (featuring images from the demo that I finally pulled off the Switch).
Diverse Play Options
If there’s one thing the Monster Hunter series is known for, outside of its wildly creative monster designs, a large variety of ways people can play through a number of weapons arguably tops the list.
It would have been silly for Capcom to only feature, say, five of the 14 weapons (15 with Palicos included) available through their demo. So they didn’t. They let players try out any weapon they want.
That seems like an obvious thing in hindsight, but it really does mean a lot to let veterans — particularly those coming back from World — try out how each weapon works on a new system. Plus, more importantly, brand new players get early access to the diverse range of weapons so they can decide what they want to main once buying the full game.
On top of all that, each weapon features an armor/weapon set from a different monster in the game, slyly giving players the chance to see how much customization the overall experience will offer outside of the demo.
Sure there are some slight problems, such as the Malfestio Hunting Horn not inflicting sleep status… But only losers like me will notice that.
Plus, it’s a demo. So they don’t want to make you too overpowered. But I’ll get to that point in a bit.
If presenting a wide range of weapon and armor possibilities wasn’t enough to convince players that Monster Hunter Gen Ultimate has a lot to offer for fun, the demo also has this:
Yeah, Capcom could have just made a simple single player demo so people could try out the gameplay.
But they went so much further in the right direction by adding multiplayer so everyone can try out playing with their friends — arguably one of the biggest draws of the Monster Hunter series. It’s way more fun to hunt giant beasts as a team.
Showcasing the Maps and Monsters
The biggest draw of Monster Hunter Generations was the fact that it was an anniversary game. The four hub worlds in that game were four maps from previous MH games updated to 3DS graphics. On top of that, there were a range of monsters both new, classic and long-before unseen filling the game’s roster.
Like I mentioned before, Gen Ultimate is taking that same concept to the extreme with nearly 100 bosses to conquer.
The demo for the game is honestly genius in how it subtly displays what the new game is going to offer through only three missions.
I’ll get more into how the difficulty tiers themselves are a huge plus for the demo, but for now I just want to discuss what is involved in the three difficulties, and how those additions display the complete range of what players can expect in Gen Ultimate.
The first mission involves fighting a Great Maccao.
Great Maccao is a variant of the velociraptor-esque monsters that frequently appear in Monster Hunter games. He, along with the Jurassic Frontier stage you fight him on, were both new additions to the original Monster Hunter Generations. Thus, fighting him is a showcase of how the developers updated even recently added parts of the experience.
The second mission involves fighting a Barioth.
Both the Barioth and the map you find him on, the snowy mountain, are things that had been in Monster Hunter games prior to Generations. In fact, the Barioth didn’t even appear in that 3DS title, making it a perfect example of bringing back older monsters into the newest adventure.
Plus, the snowy mountain is just so dang pretty.
The third mission involves fighting a Valstrax.
The Valstrax is the box art monster for Gen Ultimate, and by god is it an absolutely perfect selling point for the game as a whole.
It’s literally a gryphon fused with fighter jet parts that has a signature move where it flies into space and then comes down like a comet. There’s almost nothing cooler than that.
While Valstrax is a new monster, you also fight it on a brand new map.
Thus, through just three missions, the Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate demo shows off old monsters and maps updated, modern monsters and maps updated as well as totally brand new content.
All of which will be featured in the main game.
If that’s not simple and inherently genius, I don’t know what is.
Obviously there are three different difficulty levels in the Gen Ultimate demo: Great Maccao, Barioth and Valstrax.
The monsters Capcom chose honestly represent the range of possible difficulties in the final game quite well because of the restrictions put on player’s armor and weapons.
You only get one kind of armor/weapon based on the weapon you choose, and those set-ups don’t improve based on the difficulty of the monster you are fighting.
As a result, Great Maccao is a total pushover. Barioth is a challenge that’s easy enough to surmount with some friends as support.
That boy is bending fools over left-and-right, let me tell you.
I’ve attempted the fight twice. Once with a group of three other random strangers and once with two of my friends. Both times the fighter jet gryphon took so long to whittle down that the 25-minute time limit ran out as it only just started limping away, close to death.
It deals an insane amount of damage, enough to occasionally one-shot players even with a Hunting Horn’s defense buff.
Valstrax truly is a difficult challenge, as one would expect when taking on the cover art elder dragon of Gen Ultimate using intermediate gear at best.
Some may find this difficulty spike a frustrating turn-off. But in my opinion it draws on the same kind of motivation as Mega Man X did.
But more importantly, watch it for his discussion on the relationship between X, Zero and Vile that’s established in the introduction stage of Mega Man X. He essentially says that Zero is so well-versed at defeating an enemy you couldn’t touch, that it becomes your motivation as a player to go through the game and become strong enough to defeat Vile.
For Gen Ultimate, the Valstrax is so tough with the armor and weapons you’re given, that it feels like the ultimate motivation to buy the game, craft your own gear and use it to take down this monstrous beast in a more even playing field.
Because that’s one of the best parts of Monster Hunter as a series. Building new gear to take on challenges that at one point seemed impossible, only to inevitably hit a point where those super intimidating bosses are quick to dispatch for spare parts if necessary.
Those are my thoughts on why the Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate demo is so successful in portraying why the Monster Hunter series is so popular in the first place.
What do you think? Are you a Monster Hunter fan? Or are you brand new to the series, with things like this demo making you interested now that it’s hitting a major Nintendo console?
Also, what are some of your favorite video game demos? Obviously I think this one in particular is great at embodying a game’s core strengths, but some may just be great because of how effectively eye-catching they are in some regard.
Let me know in the comments down below! Because I’m off to go spend some time with my friends, where we’ll be bashing our heads against the wall trying to finally beat this damn Valstrax.
Welcome to the post talking about the other things I was referring to there.
Yeah I bet you weren’t expecting a conversation about Funko Pops, were you? They don’t exactly seem like the kind of thing in my area of interest.
I’ll admit that they aren’t for the most part. In fact, I don’t necessarily hate Funko Pops overall as my clickbait-y title might suggest.
If anything I’m willing to admit they’re rather cute for the most part. Plus I have been known to collect a somewhat useless series of plastic figurines in the past myself.
So really there’s no reason I should hate this fairly harmless Hot Topic-stuffing collectible mogul, right?
See I don’t necessarily hate Funko Pops as an inherit object that exists. What I absolutely abhor is the corporate design mentality surrounding Funko Pops.
As anyone who knows anything about Funko Pops must know, there are Funko Pops that exist for literally anything AND everything.
You like anime? Pick your favorite, there’s a series of Pops to go with them.
You like HBO television series like Westworld? God knows I do, and there’s a series of Pops to go with them.
You like the Marvel Cinematic Universe? You like video games? You like football? Actual real life football?
Because there are pops for all of those things and an infinite amount of other things I won’t bother to go into because look at this catalog. It’s nuts.
Especially the whole sports side of things. Side-rant I get being in love with sports and following, say, the Yankees or the Dodgers if you’re super into baseball. It’s just bizarre to have a series of collectible figurines representing actual real people that you can stick in your house.
But okay you get the point. If you’ve got an interest, Funko has a Pop to fit it.
Inherently I don’t have a problem with this business model. The fact that this company has invented a series of figurines so simple that literally any form of media can be molded into it is genius, and something the whole world probably wishes they figured out first.
As someone who has played many video games to 100 percent completion, and thrives on games like Monster Hunter where the whole idea is to collect exclusive bits and pieces of monsters to create new specialty armor, I can understand the itch many collectors have when it comes to Funko.
So yeah, if you want to go out and collect Funko Pops, more power to you. My family certainly does, and there are series I’d probably be more than willing to pay for a full collection of.
But that’s only considering the ‘first edition’ idea of these Pops. My problem comes with the alternate forms.
“Wow Jason, that’s ironic. You don’t like Funko Pops for producing alternate versions of characters when you talk endlessly about rare variants of characters in Fire Emblem Heroes like they’re the second coming. What a hypocrite.”
Yeah I hear you audience, I know.
It’s no secret that I appreciate ‘special editions’ as much as the next guy. But Fire Emblem Heroes and Funko Pops are a little different at their core.
In FEH, the special variant units are just as free-to-start as every other unit in the game. Sure there are practices under the surface that encourage players to eventually spend money, like releasing five valuable banners in a row with few orb giveaways in between, but still.
You could just as easily start the game when a holiday banner is running and be just as likely to receive that unit with free orbs as anyone else.
With Funko Pops, every single one costs money. Just as much, if not more money in fact.
Do you like Deadpool? Okay, here’s a Deadpool figurine. That’ll be a nice little thing to display to show off your interest in the character.
“Alright, alright we get it,” I hear you in the audience say.
I sure hope you do. With the simplicity of the Funko Pop formula, any single character can be given infinite minor modifications and be considered a special variant.
But unlike the model in FEH, where you could theoretically earn the special version for free, every single Funko costs real life money.
Now there are arguments to be made that these are physical objects rather than digital characters in a video, and thus there’s more value to collecting them over time in terms of things like eventual trading or simply selling collections much like with comic books and vinyl records.
There’s validity to that idea. But that isn’t really what I’m here to discuss.
What I’m here to discuss is the fact that a business model allowing for infinite cash cow-ing on the same property over and over and over again, rather than keeping to a finite cap of collectability, is inherently infuriating.
I would be more than happy to spend 60 bucks over the course of a few months to collect five Deadpool figurines based on characters from the movies if I enjoyed them that much. What I wouldn’t be happy doing is spending literally all of my money for forever to keep up with every ‘left hand raised 60 degrees’ variation that can be squeezed out.
That’s not even just for Deadpool too, as much as I keep harping on him. He just happens to be a good example of a character that lends himself to more ridiculous, outlandish variations and repeated re-releases. Any character can have a variant where they wear a different outfit or hold a new pose.
Funko Pops certainly aren’t the first to abuse this model, but they abuse it pretty hard. It’s probably rather petty to be bashing them so hard for it out of nowhere, but I’ve seen similar ideas ruin things I’ve loved in the past.
Shuffle was a spin-off game released first on the Nintendo 3DS and then on mobile devices in 2015. It was something of a continuation of the Trozei and Battle Trozei series that became a free-to-start microtransaction-laden title. And I adored it.
Seriously, for the longest time if you had asked me what game handles the microtransaction system most fairly, it would have been Pokémon Shuffle. I played this damn game on my 3DS for years, and I have distinct memories of doing so both on my high school and college campuses.
The game ran on an ‘energy’ system, where you could play five games at a time before needing to wait for everything to recharge. Unless you spent gems, the in-game currency you could buy with real life currency.
There are also a bunch of other details related to items you can either grind out or purchase, but the energy was the important thing to me. See those five hearts of energy recharged at a rate of a half hour per heart.
In other words, you could play a full set of games every two-and-a-half hours. Compared to a lot of other games with energy or stamina caps, this was insanely generous.
For a student like me, it essentially meant I could play out my games, go to whatever class I had, then get out to find a full set of energy hearts waiting to be used. Combine this with the semi-regular updates (though eventually the levels got kind of ridiculously difficult) and frequent special in-game events, and I was more than happy to play for years.
But then I stopped. You know why I stopped?
Just look at this insanity.
My screenshot here hasn’t even captured half of the special variants for Pikachu alone. There are Pikachu wearing every cap that Ash ever wore in the anime. Pikachu wearing costumes modeled after Legendary Pokémon. Hell there’s a Rayquaza costume Pikachu AND a shiny Rayquaza costume Pikachu.
Again, Pikachu isn’t the only problem, but he’s emblematic of it. Everything technically started with the ‘winking’ starter Pokémon line.
This ridiculous cash cow, the infinite special variant system, is what burned me out of Pokémon Shuffle in the end. I was more than happy to keep playing to collect all 700+ Pokémon as a mark of personal completion should they have gotten that far.
But because the game’s creators wanted a way to keep the game going forever and come up with more challenging ways of potentially forcing players to spend money on limited time only extra special dudes, I didn’t feel like it was worth keeping up anymore.
Funko Pops embody the same problem, in my opinion. If you’re going to release the same figures over and over and over again with slight variations just to squeeze out as much money as possible, then why should anyone bother trying to collect them all in the first place?
I’m sure other people will have their justifications for it, but that’s a path I can’t see myself going down. I’d much rather stick with collecting something finite in my real world collectibles. Something I can eventually look at and say ‘this is a complete set.’
That’s my rant for the day. What do you think? Is the idea of infinite variation healthy for a brand like Funko? Or is it detrimental in their long-term viability as a reasonable company, as I’m more inclined to believe.
Though obviously I’m probably in the wrong since, let’s be real, people will continue to buy those things no matter what I say. So the more they can print up the more money they’ll make.