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Playing with Ultimate Power: Super NES vs. Genesis

Playing with Ultimate Power: Super NES vs. Genesis

This is another one of those great 90’s arguments. It seems a moot point right now, sure; today’s kids will never have the pleasure of growing up standing by their favorite video game console, warding off its attackers. In the 90’s, console ownership was like being a fan of a sports team: You picked, you stood by it no matter what, because it was YOURS. If someone attacked, you took it personally, and gunned for the attacker with a barrage of Your Mother insults and shots at the console itself which frequently included the words “crap” and “suck” as well as a bunch of other, much more creative things you could think up that involved more explicit terms. You didn’t care what the objective truth was – all you knew is that an attack on your chosen console was an attack on you, your family, your lifestyle, your religion, and whatever else you held close to your heart.

Time marched on, though, and multi-console homes began becoming the norm. Those of the 16-bit Golden Era shook hands and called our uneasy truce. However, the objective question at hand was never properly answered: Which console, exactly, was the superior console? While others might like to throw in bids for personal favorites like the TurboGrafx-16, Neo Geo, 3DO, CD-I, and Jaguar, those are all being thrown into the wind these days because we all know it was really about two consoles waging a fierce war against each other: In the first corner was that eternal Goliath of video games, Nintendo, which brought what is still arguably its crowning console achievement: The Super NES. In the other corner was Sega and its trailblazing Genesis, which was able to successfully play the David for a couple of years and make itself into a household name. So let’s do this! The Super NES vs. the Genesis. One day, I’ll learn.

The Genesis came along a couple of years sooner, and when it did, it was the most powerful console the discerning gamer could buy. After all, its only real competition was NEC and its TurboGrafx-16, which critics kept accusing of being nothing more than basically a pair of eight-bit consoles duct-taped together to emulate 16 bits. The Genesis was released in Japan in October 1988 before being dropped into North America ten months later to capitalize on Nintendo’s apparent laziness and/or inability to admit they probably needed to evolve their hardware in order to keep up in the video game market – after all, Sega was able to get by for awhile on a marketing campaign which showed the Genesis as the embodiment of cool while showing the original NES as a console which kids played. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Nintendo got the point; when they released the Super NES in Japan in 1990 (North America in 1991), they had created a monster bigger and badder than anything the video game demographic had ever seen. The Genesis had a faster CPU speed (7.67 MHz as opposed to 3.58 on the Super NES), a better internal ROM (One compared to a nonexistent ROM on the Super NES), and a synthesizer. The Genesis One had a headphone output and the Genesis in general had backward compatibility with an adaptor. In every other respect, the Super NES swamped it: More colors, better resolution, could show more sprites at once and in higher resolution, and twice as much RAM. They tied in sound processor bits – eight – and in CPU bits – 16.
Super NES. Yes, the Genesis had a two-year head start, but the problem with a big head start is that the competition quits worrying about timing if it has a machine developing in the wings which is capable of kicking your ass. You can make the argument that it’s not about the equipment so much as how the equipment is used, but this argument is entirely about the equipment. When used to its full potential, the Super NES could do more than the Genesis, and that’s not even bringing the controllers into the debate. The Super NES wins this round.

When Nintendo released the NES in 1985, the idea of video game characters was fairly new – Pac-Man had been a massive hit with a song and a Saturday morning cartoon, but he was more or less a novelty which no one thought would ever come along again in a fad industry which, courtesy of Atari, was on life support. Nintendo introduced a certain plumber by the name of Mario, packed his game in with the console, and within five years more American schoolkids were familiar with Mario than Mickey Mouse. After that, Nintendo did it again by introducing Link, Samus Aran, Mega Man, and eventually, Kirby. Thanks in large part to those characters, video games became a cultural force which could no longer be ignored, and lord knows other developers tried to follow Nintendo’s lead. NEC introduced the wildly underrated Bonk on the TurboGrafx-16 while Sega found some success on the Master System with Alex Kidd and Shinobi. NEC bowed out, and Sega carried Alex Kidd and Shinobi to the Genesis while also bringing a memorable duo of hip hop aliens, Toejam and Earl, into their first party line. But it was in 1991 that Sega found a winning formula when it introduced a zippy little blue hedgehog by the name of Sonic, and the console war became a real console war. Nintendo’s mascots were so good that they were able to keep going on their strength, especially when placing them in new 16-bit games like Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Mega Man X, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. They also created another new character to add to their pantheon, Star Fox, and reinvented Donkey Kong as a good guy. Meanwhile, with no familiar names, Sega got to work finding their own exclusive characters which could help propel the Genesis along: Ecco, a dolphin in search of his lost pod who fights aliens that are endangering the time/space continuum; Vectorman, a robot made entirely of orbs; and Ristar, another underrated mascot developed by Sonic Team whose appearance served as the curtain call for the Genesis.
Super NES. The fact that Sonic was the character that introduced, embodied, and influenced the entire idea of in-you-face XTREME!!! ATTITUDE!!! in the 90’s can’t be understated, and the games in Sonic’s core series in those days are some of the best ever made. That, however, can’t hold a candle to Mario, who basically created the template to an entire genre of video games which is still very popular; another character – Link – who served as the template to the pseudo-3D action/RPG’s which were popular throughout the 16-bit era; and Star Fox, which turned Mode 7 shooters into viable commodities instead of interesting novelties. And while most people blame Sega’s advertising department for their eventual fall out of hardware development, their first party developers certainly didn’t do the company any favors, either. Toejam and Earl were given two popular games, released to sensational reviews, and never seen again until they showed up on the Xbox; Vectorman had a similar fate, but without the next-gen console update. Shinobi and Ecco were placed on ill-fated consoles before disappearing completely. Ristar was never seen again. Ecco and Sonic both suffered severe quality downgrades when their gameplay mechanics didn’t translate very well into 3D. Nintendo’s mascots have all suffered too, but the Mario and Legend of Zelda series continue to churn out regular Game of the Year material, and Nintendo will always be just fine as long as that’s the case. If you can get away with pitting your first party characters against each other in an acclaimed series of fighting games (Super Smash Bros.), you’re good no matter what.

When it comes to actually being able to control your games, both Sega and Nintendo acted on a startling realization which others hadn’t yet envisioned: They were both aware of the fact that video games were evolving, and the standard one-button-to-jump-and-one-button-to-shoot format would soon be outdated. Sega countered by adding an extra action button, so they ended up with three instead of two. Nintendo placed six on the Super NES controller, which was unnecessary and incredible at the time, but it proved to be a great long-term move. Soon after the release of the Super NES, two-dimensional fighting games reached their apex, and the Super NES was better equipped to handle the wide range of moves. Developers struggled to work six-button schemes into Sega’s three-button layout, and after awhile, they just stopped trying altogether. The Genesis adaptation of Mortal Kombat II was missing an entire move, and Streets of Rage 3 had a couple of non-essential attacks cut. Sega rectified the situation by releasing six-button versions of their standard controllers, but the three-button controllers continued to be prevalent until the Genesis went defunct. I’m not sure if it ever became the default pack-in controller. But while the Super NES controller was the more functional, it was also much harder to hold; the Genesis had a nice pair of grips that stuck out on the bottom ends and said, “Grab me!” The Super NES controller had the look and feel of an oversized pill, and it introduced an innovation that became a bane: The shoulder buttons, which felt weird and misplaced. It was very difficult to get at the shoulder buttons because it never felt like my hands were at the proper angle, and how good is a controller anyway if you can’t play a game for more than ten minutes without your hand cramping up?
I’m going with the Genesis. Maybe you don’t share my opinion of the shoulder buttons, but those poorly-placed innovations made it too difficult to play games. You’ve only forgotten that, or maybe you’re looking at them through nostalgia goggles, but the things were a hassle that never got fixed until an entire console generation later, when Sony’s Dual Shock introduced the pistol grip. I don’t know why people raved about the thing so much. Maybe they were fooled into thinking that boxy old controller with the original NES was still the greatest controller ever, or something. Also, the Genesis had disc-shaped d-pad while the Super NES had no diagonals. There’s some consideration of the gamer for you.

Innovative Games
Part of the reason the Super NES and Gensis are considered the infallible Kings of the Golden Era is because developers started getting bold, and we started seeing them take gaming risks they never would have taken before. Innovation of both consoles ended up challenging all gamers and unleashing their imaginations as they were encouraged to think outside the box. The Genesis had games like Shining in the Darkness, a turn-based RPG played in the first person; Ecco the Dolphin, and exploratory puzzle-based game which boasted digitized graphics motion-captured from footage of real dolphins and immense gameplay rewards to those who stuck it out; and Comix Zone, literally a panel-by-panel brawler set in a comic book. The Super NES brought Star Fox, with its Super FX chip and nonlinear level paths; Chrono Trigger, the legendary RPG which gave us the tech system; and Uniracers, a 2D racing game where you raced unicycles around roller coaster courses. Nintendo introduced pre-rendered 3D graphics with Donkey Kong Country; the Genesis countered later with Vectorman. The Super NES could use scaling and rotation and the Genesis was capable of animated cutscenes. Both of these consoles had a lot going for them in this department.
Genesis. Yes, the Super NES certainly had a huge share of innovative games that worked, but it also had the option of falling back on established characters. While the Genesis may have spent its early years adapting the invincible game library Sega had in American arcades, Sega had ran out of them by the time the Super NES hit stateside, and after that, they were forced to take chances because they had nothing to ride. The Genesis used celebrity licensing – Michael Jackson and Joe Montana were noteworthy signings – and had to make the Genesis appeal to people who weren’t kids or the parents of kids who needed video games to be safe. So we saw games like Mutant League Hockey, Phantasy Star II, and the blood code version of Mortal Kombat. Retro Gamer said this about the Genesis: “It was a system where the allure was born not only of the hardware and games, but the magazines, playground arguments, climate, and politics of the time.” Exactly. It was born, in other words, of the things that necessitate innovation and invention.

Action/Adventure/Platform Games
Um… Wow. It’s tough to figure out just where to begin with this one. These genres produced so many games and overlapped so much that it almost doesn’t seem worth debating. Mario against Sonic is a fight to the death. Both had access to third party attempts at new characters, like Earthworm Jim and Rocket Knight Adventures. Sometimes, the Genesis versions were better and the Super NES owned better versions of other games.
Look, there’s nothing that can be said about one console’s collection of these genres that can’t be said for the other. Certainly Nintendo can harass Sega people about having The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, but the Genesis was fully capable of taking on that challenge: Sega released a pair of outstanding adventure games, Landstalker and Beyond Oasis, which were as deep and rewarding as any Zelda adventures. Nintendo could throw Contra and Castlevania at Sega, but the Genesis was given mid- and late-life games in both series: Castlevania: Bloodlines and Contra: Hard Corps hold up as well as any of their namesake games on the Super NES. Nintendo threw Donkey Kong Country – with its new-fangled graphics technique – at Sega, only for Sega to counter with Vectorman which, today, is almost universally considered the better game for miles. Mega Man had to contend with Gunstar Heroes. In other words, if you’re not willing to write this off as a draw, it’s time to get off your fanboy throne.

Role-Playing Games
You would have thought Sega would be just fine wandering into the 16-bit era in the role-playing department. After all, they had released the classic Phantasy Star on the Master System, which had a first-person view through the dungeons and was considered one of the most unique games available back then. With the introduction of the Genesis, Sega fleshed out the idea of a first-person RPG when it introduced Shining in the Darkness, the first game – and still the game many gamers consider the best – in a loose series of games affectionately termed the Shining series. Shining in the Darkness eventually paved the way for a pair of sequels, Shining Force and Shining Force II, both of which are more traditional RPGs with serious elements of strategy. A bunch of other great RPGs also popped up: Light Crusader, Landstalker, Beyond Oasis, Sword of Vermillion, Ys III: Wanderers from Ys, and Shadowrun all stood out. Likewise, when Nintendo entered the 16-bit world, they were coming in on RPG strength too: They had a successful series on the NES called Dragon Warrior, which proved to be another template series, so with that alone Nintendo looked all set to go up against the juggernaut Sega had become. And then Dragon Warrior’s developer, Enix… Stopped exporting the series, which in Japan was called Dragon Quest. That didn’t mean Nintendo was down for the count, though; they went about releasing a new Zelda game, and they also had this second party developer called Squaresoft which had released an amazing little RPG on the NES called Final Fantasy. Although the full compliment of available Final Fantasy games didn’t make it to the United States, the Super NES did get Final Fantasy IV – which was Final Fantasy II here – and FFVI, which was FFIII here. Both were considered groundbreakers, and Final Fantasy spent the Golden Era going toe-to-toe with Phantasy Star. Beyond that, Nintendo really got to work churning out classic after classic: Secret of Mana, Illusion of Gaia, Earthbound, Breath of Fire… Hell, Nintendo even teamed up with Squaresoft to make Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.
Super NES. Let’s face it: Sega gets royally stomped in this category. I know this is the second time in a row I brought up The Legend of Zelda and pit it against certain Genesis games, but that was for two reasons: One is because the RPG elements of them are toned down to the extent that you can make a case for them all being either adventure games or RPGs, and the other is because I wanted Sega to have a fighting chance here. I was a Sega person during those days, but even I can admit this: Outside of Phantasy Star, Shining Force, and the action RPGs, there weren’t a lot of RPGs that buffs of the genre got excited about. Most of them are best remembered these days as excellent cult games: There were some damn fine games in the Might and Magic series, and the collection also includes The Faery Tale Adventure, Exile, and Warsong; but if you brought any of those games into a room to throw at the likes of Actraiser or Chrono Trigger – which is in the discussion for the greatest RPG ever, an opinion I tend to concur with – you’ll be laughed out. The entire genre is basically one of Sega’s legendary missteps, especially seeing as how Sega pretty much outsourced its RPGs to the Sega CD after that came out. And no, I’m not awarding points to the Genesis here for the Sega CD or 32X because their games weren’t compatible with the Genesis; therefore, I’m not giving any points for the introduction of the Lunar series, harsh as that is. The cancellation of a Genesis version of Lufia and the Fortress of Doom doesn’t help either. If you like RPGs, you’re a Super NES person, and that’s that.

Sports Games
Although it’s barely brought up today, the 16-bit era was a golden age of endorsement deals from real professional athletes for sports video games. Joe Montana had Sports Talk Football. Jerry Glanville (!) had Pigskin Footbrawl. Evander Holyfield had Real Deal Boxing. Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Deion Sanders (who endorsed games for two different sports), Troy Aikman, Ken Griffey Jr., Pete Sampras, Jack Nicklaus, and so many other professional sports people had so many game endorsements that it’s impossible to list them all. Hell, things got so out of hand that Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal both managed to sign endorsement deals for games that had virtually nothing to do with basketball – Jordan signed his name to an action/adventure game called Chaos in the Windy City and O’Neal went down in history for one of the most notorious gaming blunders in history, a fighting game called Shaq-Fu. This resulted in a massive market for sports games; so much so that sports games became game series which released new versions every year. Of course, the NES had started out giving gamers a handful of classic sports games, including Tecmo Bowl, so Nintendo had momentum going into the Golden Era. Then Tecmo suddenly started producing games for both the Super NES and the Genesis. Nintendo also had Punch-Out, which their fans could brag about for years before Toughman Contest appeared on the Genesis and arguably was the better game (the reasoning was because its boxers were real and didn’t use patterns to let gamers know when and how they would strike). The 16-bit years saw the comic sports game genre reach its apex with Mutant League Football and Mutant League Hockey for the Genesis, while Electronic Arts emerged as a go-to giant in simulations. More arcade-oriented sports games also came out – NBA Jam was very popular. The emergence of sports gaming makes sense – after all, sports has been an eternal theme in gaming, from the time of the first-ever video game – Tennis for Two – to the first hit video game in an arcade, which was Pong. The Golden Era allowed deeper and bigger games than ever before, and the licensing created a sense of realism which didn’t previously exist.
This is where the Genesis truly shined. Yes, the Super NES had many of the same sports games as the Genesis, but it was never quite able to one-up the Genesis the way Nintendo would have liked. Hell, the Genesis versions of EA Sports’s popular NHL series are considered to be the outright superior – especially in the case of the iconic NHL ’94, for which the Genesis version is the defining hockey game of all time. As if that wasn’t enough, Sega had an entire wing of first party developers right in their own offices simply called Sega Sports, and those guys weren’t just trying to ride the tide to the bank; they produced a series of NFL games capable of holding their own against EA Sports’s mighty Madden series. They also produced World Series Baseball, the defining baseball series of the time, with its groundbreaking, dramatic plate view. The greatest testament to how good Sega Sports was is in their legacy. When Sega went third party, Sega Sports was turned into 2K Sports, and in 2004, they released ESPN NFL 2K5, which is still considered the greatest football game ever made and which scared EA Sports shitless to such a point that Electronic Arts had to run out and snatch up the NFL license for itself. 2K Sports’s basketball games are considered the best available today. (And frankly, Madden football was never that good in the first place. Had sports gamers not been brand loyalty sheep to it, 2K Sports could have fleshed out its potential and Electronic Arts wouldn’t be playing Monopoly.) Furthermore, Nintendo’s attempt to stay on their kiddie image is what probably kept the Mutant League series off the Super NES, and there’s a distinct possibility it kept them from trying to get certain athletes licensed, although that’s just my own hypothesis.

Fighting Games
Ah, a category you were all waiting for because it covers another one of those great 90’s debates: Street Fighter vs. Mortal Kombat! So, everybody already knows both consoles were homes to some stellar ports of Street Fighter II and, to a lesser extent, Mortal Kombat. Mortal Kombat has kind of an odd track record on home consoles: The Genesis version of the first game was better, and the Super NES had the better version of the second game before they leveled out at the third and fourth games. But what about the fighters that didn’t have those names? Well, both consoles had very good renditions of the Fatal Fury series which, in the grand pyramid of fighting games, ranks just below Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Both had renditions of the criminally underrated Samurai Shodown, but while the Super NES had all of the original characters, they were compromised by small sizes. The Genesis version axed the least popular character, Earthquake, but made the sprites a lot bigger while making the final boss a playable character in the two-player mode. Both had notable exclusives of popular arcade games: The Genesis introduced a fine conversion of Virtua Fighter 2 in its twilight, and the Super NES got an awesome version of Killer Instinct. Both also had several fighting games which are largely unheard of, and both had home exclusives like Clay Fighter, Weaponlord, and Brutal. Of course, they also both had to contend with the atrocity that was Shaq-Fu blighting their reputations too.
I really wanted to pick a winner for this one, but I can’t. As with the Action/Adventure/Platform category, the respective output of both consoles is too similar. It’s even more similar that that, in fact, because so many fighting games were made by third party developers, and the exclusives flat out sucked half the time. I know there will be people whining about how I should give this one to the Genesis because it had Eternal Champions and the bloody version of the original Mortal Kombat, but here’s the thing: Eternal Champions was a lousy game. As for the bloody version of Mortal Kombat, don’t give me that shit. The Genesis version was every bit as bloodless as the Super NES version. The inclusion of a code that inserted blood into it doesn’t count, because the thing about video game codes is that they’re not meant to be discovered! There’s a difference between a bloody version of the game and a version which had a blood code; even though everyone knew the fucking code, it still required a set of actions not mentioned in the manuel or alluded to anywhere in the game. I know people want me to give this to the Super NES because its controller had twice as many buttons, but that doesn’t work either because both consoles offered the same range of alternative controllers, and all but about two of Sega’s alternates had six buttons, plus that disc-shaped d-pad the Super NES controller lacked.

Shooting Games
There’s little in gaming more fun than hopping on a spaceship and blowing everything in sight to Kingdom Come, and once again, both consoles had whole sets of shooters created strictly to oblige you. As far as the more multidirectional overhead shooters go, both consoles had Electronic Art’s great Strike series and the whacked-out bit of comic genius that was Zombies Ate My Neighbors. As far as exclusives went, the Super NES had the Pocky and Rocky series while the Genesis had the innovative Red Zone. When it comes to rail shooters, though, the selection couldn’t be more different, and this is a big deal because rail shooters were one of the most dominant genres of video games in the early 16-bit era; they were so popular that even the TurboGrafx-16 built an army of rail shooters which included several all-time greats. Once again, the Super NES was stacked with a list of name games; its list included games from the Gradius, Raiden, and R-Type series. The Genesis had to rely on innovative development, and so it had a list of shooters that included games like Sub-Terrania, MUSHA, and Steel Empire. Both had great shooting games with behind-the-player viewpoints: The Super NES, of course, had Star Fox while the Genesis had Space Harrier II and After Burner.
I’m giving this to the Super NES. Konami made third party games for both consoles, but they clearly seemed to prefer Nintendo. After all, it was Nintendo that got the Gradius games and a sequel to Zombies Ate My Neighbors – called Ghoul Patrol – which never came out for the Genesis. After Burner and Spare Harrier II were great games, but Star Fox introduced the idea that a shooter didn’t necessarily have to be linear. Although the Genesis did get a Raiden game, had a solid shooter lineup, and introduced Sub-Terrania, it’s very difficult to persuade me that its general quality wasn’t more hit-or-miss than it was on the Super NES. The problem with shooters is that they exemplify a particular ethos about game design: The way shooters are done is so stupidly, insultingly simple that everyone knows exactly what to do and how to do it; but on the other hand, doing it well takes time and practice, and even with that, it’s still very, very easy to suck at it. Although innovation is normally a wonderful thing, in shooting games, you usually want to stick with name brands because doing it well is automatic for them at a certain point, and you want something you know will be good rather than taking a risk on something which, even if it’s not bad, still has a huge chance of feeling like a worse version of something you’ve played before.

Arcade Conversions
It’s hard to believe these days, but once upon a time, the arcade was the place where you could play the newest, biggest, most advanced game available. Arcade games weren’t limited by console technology, so programmers went nuts. If an arcade game made a lot of money, it would inevitably find its way to the Super NES and Genesis, where it was up to the developer to try and cram all the advanced circuitry in those mammoth machines into a 24-meg, 16-bit cartridge. Naturally, conversions could be hit or miss. This was most obvious in fighting games: Street Fighter II carried over pretty well to both. Mortal Kombat Genesis mopped the floor with the Super NES version, and Mortal Kombat II Super NES returned the favor. The Super NES got the superior version of Art of Fighting, and Samurai Shodown was better on the Genesis. NBA Jam survived almost fully intact on both. Sometimes, developers did weird and unnecessary things to arcade conversions: When Capcom brought Final Fight to the Super NES, it axed the most popular character, Guy, the two-player mode, and a whole level. Later, Capcom basically retracted by creating a version with Guy, but it was still a single-player game with two selectable characters and a missing level. Acclaim cut the ducking punch from the Genesis version of Mortal Kombat II. Both consoles also tried to adapt games which were way out of their league: The Super NES gave it a go with Killer Instinct, while the Genesis used Sega’s acclaimed Virtua Fighter series, and they both turned out well – they kept the fundamental aspects of the games while scaling back the technology.
Genesis. I give Nintendo all the credit in the world for how the Super NES debuted – it started out by giving people Super Mario World straight off, and that proved to be a sign of the times because it meant that Nintendo was, after years of holding out, recognizing and adapting to the changing nature of video games. They showed that by presenting gamers with an epic specifically tailored to their new console. This isn’t about epics or what’s suited to do what, though – it’s recognition of how good developers did in bringing the arcade experience home. And in that respect, Sega is the undisputed King, albeit on the strength of the early Genesis library. It’s not a coincidence that Sega first advertised the Genesis by playing up adaptations of its arcade library, or that the first pack-in game for the Genesis was Altered Beast; Altered Beast was a weak game, but it was popular and people liked it. Sega then set off on an arcade conversion streak which also included Strider, Golden Axe, Gain Ground, Atomic Runner, and Air Buster. Sega also created a whole new version of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker and Shadow Dancer. In the early days, if you wanted a certain arcade game to bring home, you bought a Genesis, because if Sega made it, you knew it would show up on the Genesis, and frequently be damn good.

Well, holy shit: My second tie. Oh well. My loyalty was with Sega throughout the era, but this just shows that in the Golden Era, there were no losers in the Super NES/Genesis war. It doesn’t matter by now, though. This fight has been over almost 20 years now, and nearly every serious gamer who was a member of the 16er Generation has – no matter which console they prefer – conceded that both were excellent.


The March Madness Video Game Tournament Finals Round

The March Madness Video Game Tournament Finals Round

Final Four

Master Chief vs. Dante
The thing about Dante’s matches is that he really hasn’t been, ahem, challenged just yet. Now he’s facing off with a first seed who wears a suit of armor specifically designed to repel a lot of his attacks, and the person wearing it is a genetically enhanced, super-trained soldier capable of absorbing his melee attacks. Dante’s Devil Trigger is a limited mode, and it’s not going to be strong enough to knock off Master Chief in a single round. Given this, it’s easy to imagine Dante taunting Master Chief in the early goings of the fight, but Dante’s best attacks are his melee attacks, and he’s going to drop his act pretty quickly after approaching Master Chief only to get socked in the face. Master Chief’s armor is going to repel a good number of Dante’s more dangerous ranged attacks, which sucks for Dante because with melee combat being a last resort and Master Chief being a range fighter, that’s how Chief is going to make Dante beat him – at range. Although Dante is very capable of fighting at range, it’s melee combat which is his greatest strength, and so what Dante is stuck with is a choice between frying pan and fire: Use his now-unreliable ranged attacks or try to rush up to fight melee with Master Chief shooting bullets and energy weapons in his face. The Son of Sparda is going to be forced to fight off the mistakes of a guy who’s trained to never, ever make mistakes, and he’s going down.
Winner: Master Chief

Samus Aran vs. Vectorman
A battle of attrition is going to commence between Samus and Vectorman, and it’s going to be an ugly match. Vectorman can turn into a bomb, and Samus can morph into a ball which plants bombs along the ground. Both know the importance of multidirectional aim. Hell, they even both use basic weaponry stored in their arms! Although Samus is armed with the mighty Screw Attack, it’s going to be tough to be able to get into a fully safe area where she can activate it. Samus is eventually going to take a final gamble using her Speed Booster, which allows her to move at supersonic speeds which are lethal to her enemies. She’ll get an opening in Vectorman’s line of fire, charge up as fast as she can, and launch at Vectorman in Shinespark mode, which throws Vectorman off his bearings. After that, Samus launches every ranged weapon she has at Vectorman while he’s down.
Winner: Samus

Championship Match

Master Chief vs. Samus Aran
Two stars of first-person shooting games wearing protective biological suits. Sadly, this isn’t going to end up being the legendary final matchup we hoped for – after all, Samus has a lot more in her arsenal, and items other than guns which allow her more functionality beyond just protection while killing everything in sight. She can move around and do more to avoid Master Chief’s attacks. The big difference-maker, though, is going to be Samus’s Ice Beam. Although Master Chief’s armor provides protection against the elements, its makers probably never viewed a beam capable of freezing up the armor from the inside as a real threat. It would be almost too easy, actually, and after Master Chief is frozen, it’s time to unleash the rocket launcher, or perhaps the Screw Attack or Shinespark, since there’s no real guarantee using the rocket launcher against Master Chief, who’s probably equipped to survive a close-by explosion.
March Madness Video Game Character Tournament Champion: Samus Aran

And The First Lady of Video Games takes the top prize. Was there ever any doubt?

The Sega Bracket Face-Off

The Sega Bracket Face-Off

Round One

Ecco the Dolphin vs. Terry Bogard
A strictly land character vs. a strictly water character. Since Ecco is basically your average dolphin, he’ll be relying on his average instincts, which will undoubtedly be telling him “don’t leave the water.” Terry Bogard can’t do very much to Ecco by staying on land, either, and if he’s smart, he’ll try to find a way to trick Ecco into jumping onto the land. Ecco won’t bite. And since Terry is known to be a little bit hotheaded with a revenge streak aimed at Geese Howard, it’s entirely possible he’s going to get pissed and eventually jump into the water and try to engage Ecco mano-a-dolphino. Unfortunately for Terry, his moves are much slower underwater, and they aren’t anchored down by gravity there, and Ecco has no trouble getting around. Suffice it to say that Terry’s go at underwater combat doesn’t end well.
Winner: Ecco

Akira Yuki vs. Earthworm Jim
If Jim has any inclination to make this match exciting for any spectators, he engages his head whip while Akira attacks with kung fu. Jim, however, probably doesn’t have that inclination. Remember that scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark where the bad guy comes out of the crowd, does a bunch of nifty tricks with his sword, and learns the hard way that he brought the wrong weapon to the fight? This match goes like that.
Winner: Jim

Vectorman vs. Liu Kang
God, fighting game characters just can’t catch a break in this tournament, can they? Save for a short volley of fireballs Liu Kang is able to get off in Vectorman’s direction, this is going to go just about the same as the Akira/Jim match.
Winner: Vectorman

Blaze Fielding vs. Chris Redfield
Yes, ANOTHER close-range fisticuffs fighter against a well-armed sentient arsenal. And you probably wondered why I said Sega’s bracket is weak. Blaze gets a bit of deference because she can actually pick up street weapons and throw them from long range when she’s done with them, and against a decorated marksman like Chris, she’d be an idiot to not do that. So let’s assume she throws all manner of bats, lead pipes, knives, and swords at Chris, thus distracting him to get in close enough for hand-to-hand combat, and to use her VERY short-range fireball. The fireball isn’t a one-hit kill weapon, and most of the time, it’s not a setup for a deathblow, either; it’s best used to keep bad guys from grabbing her. Chris isn’t the type of wimp that floods the stages of the Streets of Rage games. At the very least, he’s a boss on one of the more difficult levels, and can dispatch Blaze as easily with his fists as he can with any gun.
Winner: Chris

Round Two

Sonic the Hedgehog vs. Chris Redfield
Sonic’s speed can make this interesting, and so can the power rings which make him invincible as long as he’s holding at least one. But one gets the sense that, after those, Sonic really doesn’t have much going for him. He can be knocked out of his attacks, after all, if the opponents have the right timing, and Chris probably isn’t dumb enough to attempt to chase Sonic around the battle arena. Sonic’s moves from Sonic the Fighters and Super Smash Bros. will see to it that he puts up SOME resistance after reaching that inevitable moment when he realizes Chris isn’t going to take his chase bait and tries to fight one-on-one, but Chris is way too tough a character to be put down by a bundle of spikes with feet. And so we have out first major upset of the entire tournament.
Winner: Chris

Joe Musashi vs. Vectorman
If The Nintendo Bracket results teach us anything, it’s that one should never underestimate the results of multidirectional firing. Joe Musashi doesn’t have it. Vectorman does. Musashi CAN throw his shurikens out in a fan while in a flip, though, but he has a limited number of shurikens. Musashi can also cast ninja magic, but that’s one-time-use only unless he happens to find a second help in a crate somewhere. Those crates are very rare, though. Musashi has a second ace in the hole with a ninja magic spell that can turn his body into a living bomb, which resets his health, ninja magic, and shuriken numbers back to default…. Because using that technique also COSTS HIM A LIFE. In the meantime, Vectorman can hang back and fire away provided he can weather Musashi’s flame pillar spell and outlast his invincibility spell. (He can.) 
Winner: Vectorman

Ecco the Dolphin vs. Earthworm Jim
Jim is able to move around underwater using fishbowl-shaped bubbles, but he’s not able to attack while he’s inside them. Unfortunately for Ecco, he can also fly his pocket rocket above the water, where he’s equipped with a machine gun which works just fine for air-to-sea combat. If that’s not able to do Ecco in, Jim can also use his pocket rocket to push along a bomb, the activation of which certainly will.
Winner: Jim

Round Three

Chris Redfield vs. Earthworm Jim
Since none of the last round champions got the first round off, I’m giving the break to the highest-seeded winner. This is another difficult fight – both fighters, after all, are equipped to handle both ranged and melee combat. Ranged combat, however, might appear even on the outside, but Chris’s strength and firing stance allow him to minimize weapon recoil. That’s important, because Jim is known to sometimes get flattened by his. And Jim’s most powerful weapon – the Barn Blaster – not only packs that killer recoil, it also takes forever to actually get it working. Jim can jump, though, and while that would certainly seem to provide him with the knockout advantage, he can’t actually use his weapons – save his head whip – in midair. So Basically he’s going to jump, land close to Chris, and – since blades have a one-hit-kill effect on Jim in a few situations – leave himself vulnerable to Chris’s knife.
Winner: Chris

Sega Bracket Championship

Vectorman vs. Chris Redfield
Chris has guns. Vectorman has guns. Chis is good in melee combat. Vectorman knows the importance of multidirectional shooting. Vectorman can jump. Chris moves like a tank. Even if Vectorman makes the mistake of trying to engage Chris is melee combat, he still has the option of either going at it in a transformed state – possibly as a bomb – or, worst case scenario, he’ll have to jump out of the way, frying Chris’s hair as he activates his foot boosters for a double jump. Even if Chris is targeting, he still has the pain-in-the-ass proposition of trying to stay at the speed of the always-moving Vectorman.
Sega Bracket Champion: Vectorman

March Madness: The Sega Bracket

March Madness: The Sega Bracket

In the early 90’s, Sega became known as the David that, for a couple of years, slew Nintendo’s Goliath. That should make it pretty surprising that Sega fields such a weak bracket, but in hindsight, it does make perfect sense. After overtaking Nintendo on the marketplace for a couple of years, Sega developed some marketing and developmental habits which made them famous as the hardware maker that couldn’t capitalize on the good thing it had going. Instead of developing a real business plan and sticking to it, Sega took the approach of throwing things until something hit, and the result was a horrific clotting of ideas which never reached their real potential. In some cases – like the Vectorman series – Sega had a fantastic idea which they up and abandoned. Some – particularly the 32X – were bad ideas from the start. The Saturn was undercut by better marketers. Sega managed to get their act together to launch one final hurrah with the Dreamcast, a console that pioneered a lot of the functions the new generation of gamers is taking for granted. While many gamers acknowledge the importance of the Dreamcast in the evolution of the medium, Sega’s loyalists had moved on by its launch and saw no need to return. Sega is the only bracket in the tournament which completely shut down its hardware department to focus on making games for the other consoles, but their hardware developments and competitive history are of too much importance for them to be left out. 

1 – Sonic the Hedgehog
The world’s greatest environmentalist and star of his namesake series, Sonic is a flying bundle of spikes who loves freedom and hates injustice. When he was first introduced, Sonic became the immediate prototype for the popular “XTREME” characters and attitudes that dominated in the 90’s, which produced later (and much worse) characters like Bubsy and Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel. Sonic was an instant star and when Sega still had its marketing head, they dumped their old mascot – Alex Kidd – and rode Sonic’s spiky back as he rushed them to the bank through some of the most magnificent platformers ever made. Sega invented a concept called “blast processing” to sell Sonic, but while blast processing was a real thing, it was created using a technique which can be likened to DW Griffith being the first director to move the camera: Such a stupidly easy thing to do that everyone just plump didn’t bother with it at the time. Sonic also helped legitimize video games as a medium when, in 1993, he became the first video game character to appear as a float in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Unfortunately, his games have undergone a terrible drop in quality since the 90’s, because they didn’t translate into 3D. His nickname in gaming circles is the Blue Blur.
The theme song called him the fastest thing alive for a reason. Sonic gets his very name from his habit of regularly using his feet to break through the sound barrier. Several of his abilities, like the Peel Out and Spin Dash, capitalize on that. His primary attack is the Super Spin Attack. In later Genesis games, a shield would enhance the Super Spin Attack by allowing him to bounce high, fly as a fireball, or double jump. In later games, it had a targeting quality. When running at a high speed, Sonic can also roll up into a ball, which enables him to take out any enemies that happen to be blocking his path. His spikes are a simple thing, but Sonic is very good at getting both literal and figurative mileage out of them. 

2 – Joe Musashi
One of the killer apps that propped up Sega in the early, unsure days of the Golden Era was a line of strong arcade games that could be easily shrunk down to home Genesis size. One of those games was called Shinobi, which starred the ninja Joe Musashi. Shinobi was one of the series in a trinity of series – along with Strider and Ninja Gaiden – which popularized ninja video games, and is arguably the best of those series. Shinobi was never ported to the Genesis itself, but its three sequels – Revenge of Shinobi; Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi; and Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master – are all Genesis classics. Shinobi was later rebooted for a new ninja craze on the Game Boy Advance and Playstation 2.
Like all good ninjas, Musashi makes use of a katana and shurikens. His games granted him with a variety of different ways of getting around, like dashing, hand-over-hand walking, wall climbing, and a flip from which a fan of many shurikens at once could be shot. Musashi is also known for his use of ninja magic, which is very powerful – it has the power to grant invincibility, smart bombs, high jumps, and to turn his body into a living bomb – but so rare that he rarely gets to use it more than once per level. 

3 – Ecco the Dolphin
Known as the Defender of the Future, Ecco the Dolphin is the star of a series of very unique adventure games which sent him in search of his missing pod. It’s kind of a love-it-or-hate-it series because with its slow, meticulous gameplay, it rubbed a lot of casual gamers the wrong way. People who loved it (like me), though, reveled in an engine which opened up amazing mental rewards to those who could go along with its demanding, exploration- and puzzle-based gaming depths. Ecco the Dolphin revealed exactly what was possible in the realm of photo-realistic graphics; see, Ecco is NOT a cartoon dolphin. He was designed and animated using photographs and what we know about real dolphins, and the design and atmosphere remains one of the truly great early arguments for video games as art. 
Since Ecco is a real dolphin in video game form, he has all the abilities you would expect of a real dolphin. Like all dolphins, Ecco deploys a charge which he uses against hostile sea creatures and the aliens who kidnapped his family. Also like all dolphins, Ecco communicates in song with other sea creatures, and uses echolocation to find and orient himself. Unlike other dolphins, Ecco upgrades his song through the course of his adventures so he can use it as a stunner and an outright weapon. 

4 – Akira Yuki
The mascot of Sega’s awesome Virtua Fighter series comes off a lot like Ryu: Similar garb and similar point of his entire being, wandering, improving his skill, looking for good fights against worthy opponents. The first Virtua Fighter game was released in 1993, and it sent a shock through a public which had, by then, been given fighting game nourishment on a steady diet of the Street Fighter/Mortal Kombat wars which had captured the imaginations of anyone who had any interest in video games whatsoever. The reason? Virtua Fighter was in 3D and contained a deceptively simple three-button control scheme which was difficult to master because every joystick/button combination you could think of resulted in one different move or another. Those two features made Virtua Fighter an oddity, but the style caught on and now, led by games like Tekken and Soul Caliber, 3D fighting games are dominant on the landscape. 
You know what also makes Virtua Fighter unique? The fact that every character in the game uses a real fighting style. There are no meter-building power moves, no projectiles, and no unbeatable or unstoppable special attacks to abuse. Everything Akira does is based on real kung fu moves. EVERYTHING. His move list includes things like the kaiko, tenzankou, and soutoushou, things which, in the arsenal of an experienced and hotheaded fighter like Akira, are very much able to put some clangs and dents in opponents’ heads. Akira is very strong on offense and, when in the hands of someone who is truly skilled at Virtua Fighter, nearly impossible to so much as even hit. 

5 – Vectorman
Another eco-friendly hero, Vectorman starred in his own namesake game, in which he started out as an “orbot,” a cleanup robot left behind on Earth by the humans who abandoned the planet after it got too polluted to live on. He fights against a warped orbot named Raster, who took over after being mutated. Vectorman is a later-era Genesis series of action platformers which won various game of the year awards and were noted for their level designs, soundtracks, and graphics. The graphics were something of Sega’s response to the rendered 3D designs seen in Nintendo games like Donkey Kong Country. They were pre rendered, and instead of being a single sprite, were composed of many small sprites moving in unison, creating an ultra fluid look and feel. Unfortunately, they came out around the time Sega’s marketing department became SEGA’S MARKETING DEPARTMENT, and their handling of Vectorman became one of their legendary missteps. A potential new mascot was left after two stellar games, and Sega quit using their new graphic style for some reason. A third game was scheduled for release on the Playstation 2 in 2003, but it was cancelled because it deviated from the creativity of the Genesis originals, becoming just another generic third-person shooter; and the character was redesigned and looked more like Halo’s Master Chief. 
Vectorman is armed with a ball gun contained in his hand which, like in any good action game, can be upgraded; Vectorman could nab power ups containing a machine gun, a triple fire gun, and a bolo gun. He also had the ability of transformation, and can turn into a drill which breaks through floors; a bomb; and an aquatic form to help him move around underwater. That doesn’t even cover the levels where Vectorman starts out in morph form and stays that way throughout the duration. Vectorman 2 gave him new weapons like a pulse beam, and new insect transformations. Even his double jump relies on foot boosters which fry any enemy unfortunate enough to be standing too close to him! Watch out for this one. 

6 – Blaze Fielding
The resident tough girl of the Streets of Rage series, Sega’s response to the Final Fight games. Blaze is a dancer by night and she WAS a police officer by day until her efforts with her buddies Adam and Axel to form a blockade against a criminal ring failed and they all quit the force to take out the syndicate on their own. Streets of Rage was heavily influenced by Final Fight, but it tweaked the Final Fight formula just a wee little bit and made itself the better series.
Punching and kicking bad guys into oatmeal is always nice and fun, and Blaze has an extremely developed array of punches and kicks. Besides being an ex-cop and dancer, she’s also really into judo, which means she’ll pick you up and throw you across the room without breaking a sweat. She has the most powerful throws of anyone in the Streets of Rage series, which is useful for hurling bad guys into pits or other bad guys. She later develops a very short-range fireball for use in emergencies, and has the most complex and elaborate ways on using the various weapons the bad guys leave on the ground. 

7 – Chris Redfield
Chris is one of the defining faces of the Resident Evil series. Usually, fictional worlds present us with either evil corporations or evil zombies, but the Resident Evil truly terrifies us by having both. Chris Redfield was inadvertently yanked into a web of intrigue and conspiracy as a member of a special unit otherwise performing a routine mission. He and his three partners got trapped in a mansion where some experimental illegal shit was going down, and we’re not talking your average random drug dealers here. Chris was in the original Resident Evil game, a hit from Capcom which is credited with kickstarting the survival horror genre, and he is still playing regular major roles in the series. His most notable is arguably CODE: Veronica, which is considered one of THE must-own games for Sega’s final console, the Dreamcast. 
Chris served as the point man for his STARS Alpha Team, and as for that common business of no one getting left behind, he takes that very seriously. He is an extremely proficient marksman, especially with handguns, shotguns, and sniper rifles, and his stance when blowing something’s head off allows him to fully control his weapons recoil, so he can retarget right after every shot. He even has that ability with the Remington Model 1100, a weapon so powerful that its recoil is capable of knocking a person down. On the off chance that his accuracy is taking a sick day, Chris is also trained in many different fighting techniques, with both fist and knife. Powerful, fast, and agile, Chris is pretty much everything you could ask from your combat team leader. 

8 – Liu Kang
A kung fu fighting monk affiliated with the Shaolin Monastery, Liu Kang is considered the heart and soul of the Mortal Kombat series, the fighting games which competed with Street Fighter for the hearts, minds, souls, and imaginations of blood-and-guts-obsessed teenagers throughout the 90’s. Kang was mentored by Raiden, the god of thunder. In the end, Liu Kang defeats half-dragon Goro and shapeshifter Shang Tsung, becomes the champion of Mortal Kombat, and lives to keep repeating as Tsung’s master, Shao Khan, keeps trying to use the tournament to take over Earth. Mortal Kombat provided breakthroughs in photorealistic digital graphics, but the series is best known for a level of ramped-up ultraviolence. Mortal Kombat is known as one of the most violent video game franchises of all time, and it’s credited as the series that helped usher in a new era of cartoonish shock violence which changed video games by paving the way for more adult orientations, which helped because everyone old enough to remember the NES is now grown up and gaming is now a popular and accepted adult hobby. Mortal Kombat is also credited for being one of the final straws that resulted in the creation of the ESRB rating system, and Guinness says it’s the most successful fighting game series of all time. 
Liu Kang is one of the most popular characters in Mortal Kombat because he might be the best starter character ever in fighting games. It’s very easy to learn and use his moves, and his combos don’t demand the precision and hours of practice required of the more advanced characters. His fireball is a good, reliable projectile, and his flying kick is a good way to catch an opponent off guard in close quarters. His bicycle kick is devastating. Although his primary fatality move – cartwheeling into his opponent and smacking him with a hard uppercut – is one of the most boring and pedestrian fatalities in the series, his dragon fatality more than makes up for it. Since the symbol for Mortal Kombat is a dragon, it’s only appropriate that it was Liu Kang who got to transform into a dragon and eat his opponent’s torso!

9 – Earthworm Jim
The star of the same-name series is basically another marketing gimmick of the 90’s going XTREME! In the case of Earthworm Jim, though, there’s honest to god substance to back it up. It’s about an ordinary earthworm who is transformed into a superhero after crawling into a special super suit. The original game was a runaway success, and the Genesis version in particular was lauded with many game of the year accolades. There was a sequel soon after which was cited by many sources as better than the original, and a Sega CD remake of the first EWJ is considered the best game in the series. The 16-bit classics are renowned for hand-drawn-style graphics which were rare in the Golden Era, and their stylish and quirky humor. He got a couple of 3D games at the beginning of the Next-Gen Era as well, but they were made under a different developer, panned, and Jim has been retired ever since.
Jim can use his worm head as a helicopter and a whip. His gun is capable of receiving some powerful upgrades like a Barn Blaster – an actual barn which blows up everything on the screen – and a Three-Finger Gun. There are a few traditional weapons, like a 64-directional machine gun and a Plasma Blaster, and Jim also carries a rocket in his pocket which he uses to push a bomb at one point in Earthworm Jim 2. He’s just fine as long as he avoids picking up the Bubble Gun.

10 – Terry Bogard
Terry, along with his brother Andy, is the main character of the Fatal Fury series, which later crossed with Art of Fighting to create The King of Fighters series. He’s easily identifiable by his trademark red short-sleeve jacket and Fatal Fury hat, and his drive to kill Geese Howard. Fatal Fury is known as one of the Neo Geo hipster alternative fighting games played by people who got bored of the mainstream war between Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, and it’s also considered a somewhat pioneer of the 3D fighting game because of the dual plane innovation. Characters could jump between the foreground and background. Fatal Fury 2 introduced the desperation move, a very powerful special move to be used when low on energy, and a precursor to today’s ultra-difficult power moves which can be used when a meter fills.
Terry can unleash the power wave, a wave of energy which moves along the ground; and the burn knuckle, where he launches himself at an opponent with his fist stuck out and on fire. Knowing Neo Geo fighting games, though, the only good special moves Terry uses are the ones in which the setting is on the powerful punch or kick, otherwise they wouldn’t dent a soda can or fly past Terry’s fingernnails. Every Neo Geo fighting game character is like that. If you’ve never played a Neo Geo fighter, later Street Fighter games give us Dan, a fighter who is in the game basically to mock the Neo Geo. Even though there are players who are awesome with Dan, he’s totally in those games as a joke character.

The March Madness Video Game Character Tournament

The March Madness Video Game Character Tournament

March is here, and that means I’ll soon be able to go outside and ride my bicycle again, which will rescue me from the tedium of fluffy but fun little projects like this one which I’m writing about now. It also means March Madness, one of the very few sports events on the planet which lives up to its hype every year.

Through Easter vacation, I’ll be reading a book about the political journey of a common voter that I was asked to review, and in a precursory skimming, I ran into one chapter in which the author used a March Madness-style bracket on the Presidents of the United States from Washington to the first Bush to decide the greatest. (It comes down to a contest between Lincoln and FDR.) Since I’m stuck for something to write for fun, I’m taking the idea and applying it to a group of video game characters. Here are the rules I’m applying:

1 – Four brackets of ten characters each. The first two seeds of every bracket get first-round byes.

2 – The brackets are Nintendo, Sega, Sony, and Microsoft. The first varying handful of seeds in each bracket will be given to some of the most iconic characters from each developer. The rest of the bracket will be given to any random characters I believe should have the right to compete for the title of Greatest Video Game Character Ever.

3 – One character per series. That means I’ll be using the character who is most representative of the series, and not just the one I happen to like the most. I’m using Cloud from Final Fantasy VII to represent the entire Final Fantasy series, and people familiar with my feelings on that game know that I’m really swallowing my feelings to do it. I’m not a Cloud fan, and after the tournament, I’ll be nice and explain my ire toward Final Fantasy VII.

4 – Licensed characters are a last resort only, no matter how good the games based on them are. I’m trying to decide the best video game character, and that means I’m trying to fan out my field of 40 using characters created specifically for video games. Much as it hurts, that means James Bond won’t make the cut.

5 – No generic characters. Don’t whine at me about how I missed “Random Space Marine” from Doom, or one of the million other tortured people who have names but are otherwise merely different versions of the same character. The minutia for this law is admittedly random, but generally, if he can be replaced by another character from a different game in the same genre and the game wouldn’t be any different, he’s generic. A couple of exceptions are made for fighting game characters, due to the nature of that genre.

6 – I’m not averse to using bad guys, but since it’s the good guys who most frequently appear on the company signs, they count for a lot more. If they can be considered equally iconic, I’ll be using the good guys. Hence Mario over Bowser; Sonic over Robotnik (no way in hell I’ll ever call him Eggman); and (thank god) Cloud over Sephiroth.

7 – No NPCs, but this law is exempt from any possible villains in the tournament.

8 – All possible powers and abilities will be taken into account.