Weenus: WCG Ultimate Gamer Blog #2

BY Andrew Miesner / March 23, 2009

Episode Two: Kicking and Screaming

Written by Bobby “Weenus” Hicks

(This is an editorial piece.  The opinions in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of compLexity Gaming or its parent company.)

We’re treated to a quick recap of the first episode at the beginning of this week, and I’m pretty sure we learned more about how the competition works in the two minute recap than we did in the entire forty minute first episode. We’re trust back into reality show mode, and we’re being caught up on the Geoff and Kelly showmance that they made sure to foreshadow in the first episode.

Well news flash Robert, as far as I can tell, most of that stage exists from the gutted remains of the CGS stage, so its not exactly new to Adande or any of the people who had competed in the first CombineRobert walks back into the house and everyone pretends like they weren’t all sitting around railing about Adande not sending someone into the Elimination Challenge that could beat him. They begin grilling Robert about what the Elimination stage is like, and he of course replies with his own personal brand of arrogance by saying “It’s every gamer’s dream, I guarantee it.”

Well news flash Robert, as far as I can tell, most of that stage exists from the gutted remains of the CGS stage, so its not exactly new to Adande or any of the people who had competed in the first Combine (and I’m guessing at least one or two of these girls went through the “I’ll play DOA4!” phase).

We’re back into the showmance segment of Kelly and Geoff staying up ALL NIGHT and chatting sitting up in bed together, LOLing and such. I immediately noticed that everyone else in the house was sleeping in the same room. It’s sort of unreal that these two wouldn’t just politely move their conversation to the living room, where it would be much more appropriate and appreciated. I can only say that I’m shocked we didn’t see Ciji balling about it or Dante throwing a pillow at the faux lovebirds while while whining.

The next day, we’re taken to the warehouse where we see an Asian Martial Artist who then puts on a routine which is edited to look as if he did it right in front of the competitors, for no reason other than to terrify and impress the gamers. Surprise surprise, Virtua Fighter 5. We then see the Real Life course, which is a bunch of hi-tech versions of Wing Chun dummies as well as different obstacles with breakable boards on it. The players then have to break as many boards as possible, all the while using this betting challenge system which, I’ll be honest, I really didn’t understand very well.

The teams are broken up and we see Team 1, the Black Team, of Alyson, Amy, Robert, Ciji, Dante, and Kelly, and Team 2, the Red Team, which is Mark, Chelsea, Geoff, Adande, and Jamal. Adande makes an unfortunately sexist statement about the amount of women on the Black Team, and here we go.

Real Life Challenge: The teams go into super bidding mode, with Dante and Kelly going first. Dante then explains that he has a Martial Arts background (you don’t say! I’m sure.) and that he’s the most physically fit competitor on the show. What planet is this kid living on? They go through the course and, while I fully understand that real Martial Arts rarely look completely graceful, Dante looks slightly more awkward than I would doing the challenge, and my Martial Arts background was about two weeks at a Karate gym when I was eight and it turned out that the Instructor was a con artist. Ripped.

They keep bringing more pieces out to the course, until there are 100 boards to break on the course. The game has been even this far, until Alyson and Ciji go through, and fail. Red goes through and makes it slightly further, but also fails, sending Black Team into the lead as they had the advantage on the bid or something. I won’t pretend to know. The show spends so much time forcing us to care about things like Geoff and Kelly playing pattycake that it never has enough time to thoroughly explain anything important.

The show spends so much time forcing us to care about things like Geoff and Kelly playing pattycake that it never has enough time to thoroughly explain anything important. People are beginning to stress over the challenge, and Robert and Dante head out to douche up the course. Black Team comes short with two boards left on the course, Dante immediately turns into a big baby and pouts the rest of the day. No, I’m not joking. The Red Team forces the Black Team to go in and get completely embarrassed, with Amy and Kelly trying to do the 100 boards in 1:40. It fails miserably, and we see some of the funniest scenes on the show so far, with Amy’s face framed by Kelly’s chucks as she tries to hold her up to break the out of reach boards. Amy looks like a total mess, with her protective glasses falling down her face and a grimace that would make De Niro giggle, and the show’s editors have no remorse by just completely highlighting the moment. Ruthless.

Black Team leaves 25 boards on the field and the score is tied. Geoff and Mark are the last to go for Red Team, and Dante accuses Geoff of being fat and slow and Mark of being a floppy farm boy. Oh the sweet irony of defeat. Big surprise Black Team, Geoff is faster than just about anyone on the show, and completely plows the course. He and Mark destroy every obstacle, finishing with 38 seconds left on the clock. What were you saying Dante? You smell like vinegar.

Red Team goes totally nuts, cheering and rubbing it in everyone face, and to be honest, Black Team deserved it. Master Roshi names Geoff the MVP, which means he’ll be receiving a training session with the WCG USA Virtua Fighter 5 champion, Adnan.

Everyone gets back to the loft and beginnings playing casuals in Virtua Fighter 5, which results in an embarrassing bit of egomania between Jamal and Dante, which features the quote I mentioned before, of Jamal saying “We can play all day and you’ll never beat me!”, which ends with Dante beating Jamal. Great. Insert the edited bit about how much everyone hates Dante, where Dante whines after getting tagged in hide and go seek.

I wish I was making that up. People begin to gang up on Dante, which is just fantastic. I really thought I would grow to like Dante but really, he is just so completely naive throughout the entire episode that I can’t help but wish I was there so I could join in on verbally destroying the poor guy.

Dante then decides to make things even more uncomfortable by telling Ciji she’s only good at one game, and that she’s trying to get people to defend her since she can only play Guitar Hero. Ciji then asks how many tournaments she won, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t really appropriately defend herself at all in the situation.

The next day, Geoff gets his training session with Adnan, which I imagine helped marginally, but not as much as it would for someone with an actual fighting game background. Cut straight to night time and the players prepare to head to the Isolation Chamber for the challenge. We’re made aware that the players will be playing through the score attack mode (because actually having them compete with each other would be ludicrous) in single player mode, with the player going the furthest winning.

Isolation Challenge: Everyone goes in and of course the fighting backgrounds do well, most of everyone else washes out around the middle, and Geoff prays that his lessons will save him from elimination. Somehow Alyson takes down the character that most of the competitors had the most trouble with, and Dante begins giving wacky lessons about the game that I couldn’t care about if I tried. Alyson and Dante are the final two, and we go back to the waiting room to see the results. Kelly finds herself in dead last place, which shocks the entire cast.

Dante, in first place, finds himself in the interesting position of being able to send whoever rubs him the wrong way into Elimination. Basically, half of the cast begins sweating bullets, and I don’t blame him, god only knows what sort of special education decision Dante will make. People begin walking up to Kelly to pay their respects like mobsters do to a Godfather on his daughter’s birthday.

We then see that Dante begins actually making his decision for the Elimination challenge predictably with personal vendettas, and we should all act surprised. Or show pity for someone being so small minded and stupid. Kelly is in a total panic and she’s pretty distraught about the entire thing, and looks to Geoff for comfort, while Dante promises to help train her for Elimination. Kelly then throws Amy under the bus by mentioning the fact that Amy is just coasting through the competition without anyone noticing. Oooh Ultimate Gamer editor, some more spooky foreshadowing!

We head to the roof where Dante gives his completely fictitious speech about how he’s making his selection based off the person being a threat, and of course, chooses Amy. That’s right Amy! Dante is totally threatened by the fact that you and him don’t get along! Make sure you guys don’t have any challenges where people have to be cordial or polite towards each other! Dante might lose!

The girls are noticeably distraught, and Hannah explains that since Amy was the 10th ranked player to Kelly’s 11th rank, the match is actually fair, because they’re close in the rankings! Hannah, you’re beautiful but honestly, I don’t think anyone on the show needs a crash course in rankings or seedings for competition.

Dante then completely shocks me by totally out-douching himself by apologizing to Amy! It creates yet another awkward and uncomfortable situation, and I truly believe that Dante has yet to figure out how human beings work at all. He’s like a robot. He’s like Dr. Manhattan if Dr. Manhattan wore Affliction shirts and completely and utterly sucked.

The girls head into competition mode and begin boot camping all night in Virtua Fighter 5 for the Elimination battle that they have waiting for them the next day. Dante gives Kelly the kiss of death but predicting her to win in the confessional, which as we’ve seen, almost always results in the opposite of whatever he has said. Both ladies look like they’re ready to do battle in the morning, and Geoff gives Kelly his lucky beanie to try to bring her back to him in the loft. Aww, how tender and sweet.

On a side note, I feel bad for Geoff because he’s just about the most level headed guy in the house, completely modest and down to earth, and the editing on the show is probably going to make his home life with his girlfriend a living hell. Sorry Geoff, ratings before real life! How dare you make a friendship with a female on the show? Don’t you understand they’ll just twist it and turn it into something pathetic and ugly? Anyway, off to the Samsung Stadium!

Elimination Challenge: The ladies hit the stage and prepare for the first official match competitive of a fighting game on the show. Fantastic. The girls talk themselves up for a second, the intro music plays and the crowd pretends to care. The girls then basically say they love each other and that it sucks they have to battle, and the match begins.

At this point, Joel begins explaining to us that the green bar at the top is the health bar, every round, THE ENTIRE MATCH. It’s unbelievably obnoxious. I understand that the producers believe that these shows are going to appeal to to senior citizens who are flipping to Sci-Fi between episodes of Dallas and MASH but I’m pretty sure that anyone who is interested to stay longer than thirty seconds will be able to comprehend the life bar system after one explanation Joel, thanks.

Kelly selects Kage-Maru the Super Ninja and Amy goes with the femme fatale, Sarah Bryant. Kelly takes the first round, which Amy handles well actually, and Amy starts pulling out the cheese combos with crushing attacks and ground punishes. Amy begins cheesing her way through rounds (and who can blame her?) making it 2-1 until Kenny nearly perfects Amy, bringing the match to a tie. The ladies begin going back and forth, where Amy kicks the cheese into over time, taking a 4-2 lead, when Amy leans over and shouts “Hold it together Kelly!”in what I can only assume was supposed to be words of encouragement but, let’s be honest, when you’re competing head to head, and someone yells something at you, it almost always feels explicitly offensive.

We have a 4-4 tied game, and Amy uses her overhead crushes to take an early lead on the round, before nearly losing the round, ending it about as close as a television producer could possibly pray for. Amy wins. Kelly looks just devastated. In the exit interview, Kelly seems pissed about the cheese, but takes the loss with her chin up, leaving the stage. It isn’t until she’s outside that she completely loses it and begins confessing her love for Geoff, where says states through tears that “I really hope we can play on Xbox Live together!”. While it was a cute moment, I imagine a lot of uninitiated viewers will find the comment laughable and continue to ferment their anti-gamer opinions.

The Afterthoughts: The episode suffered again from the brutal editing and the producer’s agenda to make it a reality show first and a competition second. The biggest problem with the episode though was the fact that Dante can’t help but say ridiculously arrogant and naive comments that couldn’t be interpreted any other way. He essentially welcomes the fact that he’ll be made the bad guy. I don’t understand how people on these shows can’t see this coming.

I think it was fairly retarded to have the players play against the computer instead of each other in the Game Challenge, and it will only further the gap that competitive gamers have with the show already. We need to see more individual competition, as the impromptu team action is really mucking up the show with these brief, five minute alliances, and in all honesty, is hampering the casts ability to really begin hating each other in the way you know the producers want them to.

On the bright side, Ciji didn’t cry the entire episode (not to say that she didn’t cry at all, which she did) so at least someone is making progress. As of right now, I really like Geoff and Mark. They’re the two most straight up guys on the show, and while Mark does speak his opinion, he does it to the people involved, and not just in confessional. So, at least the show isn’t making me hate every single caster member still.

Next week is Project Gotham Racing 4, so be ready to hopefully see Dante roll a car in the real life challenge and explain to everyone that he was at an unfair disadvantage because he’s so top heavy with physical fitness. If you’ve missed any episodes so far, check out www.hulu.com, they have the replays of both episodes so far, and they upload the episode late Tuesday night.

Make sure to tune in to the Sci-Fi channel on Tuesday night to see the third episode!