Spyro the Dragon (PSX, E)

Spyro is a child of the early days of 3D platformers, which is a polite way of saying the camera and controls are fucked. I won't hold it against the game too much because I don't think PSX controllers even had analog sticks when this came out, and like Super Mario 64 I at least appreciate the imagination of the levels even if the game engine made getting through them a pain in the ass. I also might just be looking back on Spyro 1 more charitably for being cleaner and more focused than its sequels, but we'll talk about those when we get to them.

I released all the dragons and saved all the eggs, but I drew the line at collecting all the gems. Yes, Spyro, I'm sure that you just wanted to give the kids of 1994 as much game as possible for their money, but I'm an adult with shit to do and I'm not combing all over your levels and fighting your camera to find a handful of jewels.


The Dragon Chronicles: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction (Edited by Ellen Campbell, Kindle eBook)

In the world of literature, there is a difference between a "short story" and a "teaser", one that too many of the authors in this anthology failed to understand. Hell, the stories about the peasant girl that ends with her running off to a war, and the werewolf saving a Scottish girl from a dragon attack* already have full-length books. Others might have been intended to stand on their own, but they sure as hell don't feel like it when they fail to end properly. One story is about four kids going into a cave to reclaim a lucky talisman lost within ages ago, one of them gets eaten by a dragon, another finds the necklace... and the story just ends. Yeehaw.

Some stories stand on their own, but are completely awful. The worst story of the collection is about some deep sea explorers finding a glass sphere in the ocean, which then infects a computer with a virus that makes it spew out a story about dragons living with people on Venus and some terrorists setting off a weapon that caused its rampant greenhouse effect, and the person whose computer was infected gets some kind of award. First of all, a story within a story is something you need to be careful with because you're essentially starting it by telling the reader "Oh no, this isn't the real story, what's really going on is that a computer is spitting out a bunch of text." Another thing to be careful with is Biblical allegories because if you mess up the story by, say, writing like a rambling teenager, it comes across as you trying to shield your failings with "But I'm referencing the Bible, that means I'm cultured and brilliant!"

There were a handful of stories that were interesting, but in need of a little polish or at least some questions answered. One is about two clans of dragons, one aligned with water and wind and the other with earth and fire, that are war with each other but are crossbreeding behind the scenes... and I have to wonder how that's happening if (A) a dragon can only be attracted to the other clan if they're a hybrid so, like, how did the first hybrids come to be, and (B) the water/wind dragons can't touch earth and the earth/fire dragons can't touch water or leave the ground, raising the question of how they actually do the deed. I... guess the wind dragon just has to carefully balance themselves on the earth dragon? Oh God, I'm sorry you had to read that.

The last story of the collection is about a wild west town that made a bargain with a dragon to judge and execute the kind of criminals they'd normally hang, and a cowboy falsely accused of murdering another person to steal their horse has to find the real murderer. But even that one ends in a plot twist that screams "But wait, there's going to be more!"

* These are trashy romance novels which might be NSFW. Look up Dark Desires by Nina Croft if you have to know.


Samurai Jack: Season Two

The second season of Samurai Jack deviates from the "Jack is continually screwed out of a time warp or confrontation with Aku" formula of the first season (though it still has a couple of those episodes) to focus more on artsy action. This season pits Jack against a demon who fights with the stolen souls of fallen warriors, a group of lion men said to be the greatest hunters in the galaxy (granted, I totally saw how that episode was going to end), and a gang of biker hoodlums who dared to crush his sandals. And in one episode, Jack essentially runs into the 300 Spartans and spends the episode kicking ass with them. The Scotsman also returns, but because his episode revolves around his loud wife I didn't enjoy it as much as the previous one.

That said, I have to wonder who the hell thought that episode with the farting dragon was necessary. Did somebody's kid come up with it, and they made it a full episode for them? That it follows the episode with the mountain monks, which had the most powerful ending on the set, made it even more jarring.