Monday, November 09, 2009

From the Files of TV Tropes #1

Semaj has an interesting feature on his blog where he explores the Urban Dictionary and plucks out gems from within to show the world at large. When I started frequenting TV Tropes, I thought I would do the same.

And with no further gilding the lily, let's get on with the show.

Nintendo Hard: When I was a kid, games were hard by design, especially on the namesake's first system, the NES. Part of the reason for this was it helped games last longer, though the little known fact I discovered reading this entry was some of this difficulty was artificially added by Japanese game makers to make the prospect of renting a game and beating it in a night very difficult (Japan did not have game rentals). The game that immediately comes to mind for this, and anyone who is around my age and played a lot of Nintendo when they were kids or is a student of gaming will probably know the name Battletoads. Or anything from the Ghosts and Goblins line of games. And if you've ever tried playing Contra without the most infamous cheat code in existence, you know exactly what Nintendo Hard is. For modern gamers, think about Gran Turismo's licensing tests, or the challenges in Stuntman or God Hand (the whole game), Ikaruga and so many others. These are the kinds of experiences which convince you that game designers are sadistic bastards who get their kicks from torturing gamers. I even recall seeing a T-Shirt somewhere that said "Real Life is Nintendo Hard" which I thought was very fitting.

The Geek Reference Pool: This is a term that TV Tropes has come up with to describe how geeks and nerds are portrayed on television through the things that come up in scenes devoted to them. You know, stuff like all geeks being into either Star Wars or Star Trek to an insane degree, or Dungeons and Dragons, or only the most modern of games (because no one likes retro games, do they). My addition to the entry was to note that collecting and comic books get thrown into that mix a lot more too. I mean, when you think about it, geekdom is filled with less than nuanced interpretations in the media, which is a shame because when you think about television writers, especially on sitcoms, the word that immediately comes to mind is geeky.

Brick Joke: In the most concise way I can put this, this is when you are watching a movie, television show or the like, and there is a small joke or reference to something which might be mildly amusing at the time, which comes back when you've almost forgotten about it and ends up being hilarious. Now to me, the longer it takes between the initial mention of the joke and its ultimate fruition, the better the payoff. I am loathe to mention it, but one example that comes to mind is there was an episode of Family Guy where the Griffins get put into Witness Protection in the Deep South and as part of that adventure, Brian tries to jump through the closed window of a General Lee replica and gets knocked out. Four years later (a time span that included the cancellation of the show), Brian finally gets his retribution for that act during another episode and the payoff was great. From reading the entry at TV Tropes, it seems that How I Met Your Mother is the master of this kind of thing (as are Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright). Frankly I love anything that rewards an observant viewer/reader/player. If it is a single movie, having the Brick Joke appear in the Stinger/movie coda is especially cool too.


Megan said...

Just wanted to let you know I did practically nothing all Saturday night but read that site.

I had to force myself to stop clicking.

YOU did this to me!!!!!!

Dan said...

I'm with Megan.

If they had a app to make it easier to read on the iphone I'd probably never get anything done at all.

MC said...

See, the warning that you should have both gotten was when I linked to that comic... which was where I heard about the site, where the punchline was, you couldn't stop viewing the site.

Semaj said...

Nintendo Hard: I remember that one! I wonder if there is a Sega version of this. Ghosts and Goblins was a @#$^% to play through. You're about the reason behind the change in difficulty here in NA, but they always claimed it because North American gamers were more hardcore in gaming. I'm trying to remember where I read that.

Looking forward to another one of these.

Tihomir Ipotpal said...


MC said...

Semaj: Games like Shinobi are on the list too... the popularity of the NES likely is the reason they coined the term like that.