Best Treasure Ever

Ashes Of Al'ar

Round One: 7-seeds vs. 2-seeds

The legendary takes on the mundane.

By Anthony John Agnello • September 13, 2012

It’s the 7-seeds against the 2-seeds now: those just shy of number one, and those very shy. This business is tense, baby! Maybe it’s not that tense. It’s only the first round. That much Dick Vitale-infused alliteration should probably be kept in reserve for the semifinals. Boomshakalaka.

Then again, these match-ups pit spiritual power against primordial simplicity—it’s phoenixes against cave ducks in here, you dig?—and it’s got all the makings of great competitive drama. Where will The Gameological Society’s rabid readers place their allegiances—with the utility of might or the charm of the absurd? Let’s make like the Tootsie Roll Pop Owl and find out in one, ta-hoo, three.

Animal Division: Bubba Duck vs. Ashes Of Al’ar
Bubba Duck, DuckTales
Ashes Of Al'ar, World Of Warcraft

It’s a whole lot easier to get Bubba Duck on your team than it is to acquire the Ashes of Al’ar. The little guy’s just on the other side of some ice pits. Slip-sliding over to him is simpler than trying to fell a monster king who might not even give up the Ashes in the first place. Because he was Al’ar’s bro 4 life!

Then again, the juice is worth the squeeze. If you’re going on a world-spanning adventure and you can only bring one bird with you, which do you want: An immortal firebird loyal only to you, or a two-foot tall bipedal duck with a club and a speech impediment? Precisely.

Don’t count Bubba Duck out completely though. Whereas the phoenix you obtain through the Ashes of Al’ar is reborn after dying in perpetuity, only Bubba can extend life itself, singlehandedly putting all pet cemeteries out of business.

[poll id=”11″]
Weapon Division: Frying Pan vs. Ultima Pearl
Frying Pan, Fable
Ultima Pearl, KOTOR II

Lightsabers: The Ol’ Faithful of fantasy weapons, though overexposure has diminished their appeal over the last decade. All that damn buzzing, it sounds like you’re swinging around dozens of lethargic bees. (Get off my Tatooine sand-lawn!) Though when every single member of your party in KOTOR II has one, though, swords of light are still kind of sweet, and the tough-to-find Ultima Pearl makes for the beefiest laser blade of them all.

The Frying Pan is ubiquitous as well, but not in video games—in Vaudeville acts and 1950s sitcoms. The one in Fable lets you fell goblins in a single wallop, and while it might seem odd to, you know, swing a frying pan, it feels de rigueur in the exceedingly goofy Fable.

It’s a battle of banality, folks. Choose your overly familiar bludgeoning tool!

[poll id=”12″]
Throwback Division: Earth Harp vs. Secret Chest
Earth Harp, Final Fantasy VII
Secret Chest, Castlevania

Castlevania’s Secret Chests are legitimately surprising when they pop out of the ground, glowing like the treasure in your dreams. One second, you’re casually jumping around some corner in Dracula’s castle looking for wall meats, then GOLDEN RICHES. Well, more like, “just points,” but that can mean extra lives—which is more than I can say about Dracula himself, who doesn’t have a life anymore.

Though the Secret Chests can’t match Final Fantasy VII’s Earth Harp in utility or satisfaction. Getting the Harp entails training your characters for a bazillion hours and then murdering a demigod at the bottom of the ocean, which feels pretty nice when all is said and done (hundreds of years later). Then you can give it away in exchange for an all-encompassing magical arsenal. The delight of unexpected gold just can’t compete.

[poll id=”13″]
Wild Card Division: Air Jordan XI Sneakers vs. Bandana
Air Jordan XI Sneakers, NBA 2K11
Bandana, Metal Gear Solid 4

The clothing of titans! One, the headgear of a legendary soldier, and the other, the shoes of an underwear spokesman. Both offer serious perks and significant fashion drawbacks. Solid Snake’s Bandana in Metal Gear Solid 4 will make you look like Little Steven Van Zandt, but it’ll also let you fire a gun forever. The Nike Air Jordan XIs will make you look like the snotty rich kid at the mall, but they’ll let you dunk like the man himself during the ’96 NBA finals.

The fantasy of endless ammunition versus the simplicity of some sweet shoes makes for a surprisingly even match. In strictly game terms, the Bandana has a slight leg up. Earning it entails playing the same game twice in very different ways, first without hurting a soul, then again as a lunatic with endless ammunition. Life, spiced with variety. Plus, Solid Snake is in no way related to Space Jam, which is good or bad depending on how you feel about movies that are “so bad they’re good but maybe just bad.”

[poll id=”14″]

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1,254 Responses to “Round One: 7-seeds vs. 2-seeds”

  1. HobbesMkii says:

    “How long is this being spread over?” it occurs to me to ask as Friday nears.

    • John Teti says:

      First round this week, all subsequent rounds next week—the final vote will be next Friday.

      • HobbesMkii says:

        Shoulda stretched it out over three, John. We’re not voting tomorrow, then, huh? I’m gonna go through voting withdrawal. I expect most people will, too. So I guess I should mention that you can vote in Team Fortress 2 and that every Thursday at 9:00PM Eastern time the Gameological Society Steam Group, located here:

        http://steamcommunity.com/groups/gameological 

        …holds Team Fortress 2 Thursdays where we all get together and play friendly games of TF2. And the best part is is that it’s pretty much entirely free; Steam, TF2, the Group, the whole shebang. No experience required to play, it’s just about having fun!

        • John Teti says:

          There will be voting tomorrow, the 5 vs. 4 matchups. This is the schedule:

          9/10 — Readers’ choice nominations
          9/11 — Round of 32 #1 — 8-seeds vs. 1-seeds (4 votes)
          9/12 — Round of 32 #2 — 6-seeds vs. 3-seeds (4 votes)
          9/13 — Round of 32 #3 — 7-seeds vs. 2-seeds (4 votes)
          9/14 — Round of 32 #4 — 5-seeds vs. 4-seeds [readers’ choices] (4 votes)
          9/17 — Round of 16 #1 (left side of bracket, 4 votes)
          9/18 — Round of 16 #2 (right side of bracket, 4 votes)
          9/19 — Quarter-finals (divisional championships, 4 votes)
          9/20 — Semi-finals (2 votes)
          9/21 — Final vote (1 vote)
          9/24 — Finalist crowned

        • 4 vs. 5 seeds have yet to come!

        • HobbesMkii says:

          D’uh. I forgot we didn’t actually vote on Monday.

          In that case, join us for TF2 Thursdays if you can’t get enough voting!

  2. Hey, wait a minute!  Here I thought the Secret Chest being referred to was a specific secret chest, namely the one that can be found but never obtained just before the mummy boss battle at the end of level 3.  For all I know, there was a whip upgrade in there that instantly destroyed Drac and every enemy within his castle every time you used it, plus gave you minty fresh breath.  I thought this was supposed to be a vote for a funny item, people!

    (pauses, clicks the “Vote” button for the Secret Chest anyway)

    Nostalgia dies hard.  (sighs)

    • caspiancomic says:

       Hey, that’s pretty cool, I never knew about that! Although I voted for the Earth Harp, the first time I found a secret chest I almost dropped my controller. I didn’t even know they existed, never mind where to find them, so Christ knows how I got my first one (although once you’ve discovered they exist, sussing out their various locations becomes surprisingly easy, there’s usually some sort of visual cue). Maybe it’s not so amazing, though, since the first time I found one was earlier this year.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Nostalgia compelled me to vote for the secret chest as well, though even as a kid, I kinda’ thought they were bullshit.
         The first time you uncover one a kaleidoscope of possibilities race across your mind.  A better whip?  A secret weapon?  Armor, even?  No you get points.
         As soon as game designers upgraded their skill tree to unlock the “Having Games End” ability, points should have been abolished.
         Also, time limits.  I don’t like to be rushed through a level like a child herded by their parent to church in the morning.

  3. PaganPoet says:

    There’s a really simple way to defeat Emerald Weapon, actually. Make sure one of your characters is wearing ONLY an HP+ and Mime materia. That character’s HP MAX should be 9999. Assuming you keep them completely healed, when Emmy attacks with Aire Tam Beam, it will deduct 2222 HP from that character. They will then go into berserk lucky 7 attack mode and slap the shit out of Emerald Weapon. WEEERRRRRRK!

  4. PaganPoet says:

    I can’t believe the Red Ring beat the Naga-ette bromide…I mean, c’mon…one is an item that increases your strength, the other is softcore monster porn!! I trusted you to make the right decision, Gameological Society!!!!

    • Girard says:

       Doesn’t “Bubba Duck”s apparent victory over some lauded Warcraft ashes restore your faith in the ol’ GS? I know it does for me.

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        Yeah, screw the Ashes.  All of those special mounts that never dropped for me in 100 kills can suck it.  (For me, specifically the Baron’s horse in Stratholme that I wanted SO BADLY.)

      • Cheese says:

        It definitely restores my faith. Duck Tales on the Game Boy was the first game I ever beat; I have some fond and not-so-fond memories of that one.

  5. Captain Internet says:

    “wall meats”?

    • caspiancomic says:

       Spoken like someone who has never played a Castlevania. Mysterious hidden roasted dungeon wall chicken! According to the manual, they’re actually pork chops, but whatever.

      • Captain Internet says:

        I’m sure there’s a cookery programme in here somewhere. Gordon Ramsay’s 8-Bit Banquets? 

        “Belmont you FUCKING TOSSER that is NOT what I meant by WHIPPED” etc etc

    • Mystery meat was a staple of video games in the 80s. Usually  it would just restore life, but in Bonk it would make you invincible, and in Legend of Zelda you could feed it to monsters. You could also equip it as a weapon in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. It was not useful. 

  6. I voted for the ashes just because Bubba isn’t the only extra life point in the game.

    And the greatest frying pan in video game history was in Final Fantasy IV. I miss the days when Square had a sense of humour. 

    • Raging Bear says:

      If we’re discussing frying pans as weapons, we absolutely must mention Earthbound. Upgrade from the Chef’s Fry Pan to the Non-Stick Fry Pan! Will Paula face Guygas weilding the Magic Fry Pan or the Holy Fry Pan?

    • Girard says:

      The frying pan in Mario RPG could at least be used as a weapon – but on the other hand, is kind of sexist…

      • It was her best weapon, too!

      • Merve says:

        Not as sexist as Super Princess Peach, where:
        – her weapon is a semi-sentient umbrella
        – her special ability involves becoming really super-emotional (magical tears!)

        • George_Liquor says:

          In all fairness to SPP, everything in that game is super-emotional, not just Peach. The game revolves around a magical doohickey that causes everyone in the game to gain special abilities based on their emotional states.

        • Girard says:

           Thanks to Jonas Hanway’s pioneering efforts, umbrellas aren’t really a super-gendered object – but, yeah, her using hysterical histrionics as primary gameplay mechanisms is pretty problematic.

        • ThePhantomGuinness says:

          Yeah, everyone cries in that game. That damned marshmallow/cloud bastard does not stop. Wasn’t the frying pan in RPG the strongest she had?

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      The Frying Pan from FFIV was the one I thought made it into the bracket.  But I guess since it was simply a quest intermediary, and not too difficult to obtain, it really doesn’t qualify.
            As for Square’s self-seriousness, re-translating the quest’s reward from Spoon Knife to just Knife seems like a good example of that mindset.

      • PaganPoet says:

        Although you have to admit, when you were young and playing SNES Final Fantasy III for the first time, you had NO IDEA what a “Fenix Down” was.

        • Cheese says:

          Man, it blew my mind the first time I realized it was supposed to be the down feathers of a phoenix.

        • PaganPoet says:

          @TheOnceAndFutureCheese:disqus Precisely, it was like someone opened a door and a choir was singing on the other side.

    • caspiancomic says:

       Speaking of frying pans (as we so often are), did anyone play PO’ed? I feel like it’s one of the most insignificant of footnotes in the FPS genre’s textbook, but I used to love that game. You played a chef on an intergalactic spacecraft that was boarded by aliens, or something, and your obligatory melee starting weapon was a Samwise Gamgeean saucepan.

  7. fieldafar says:

    I still can’t get over the fact of how great those animations look.

    • Sam Saper says:

      The Frying Pan one for Fable has that optical illusion going on where you can’t tell if it’s spinning clockwise or counterclockwise!

  8. RidleyFGJ says:

    I’m taking Bandana all the way to the bank!

  9. doyourealize says:

    I’m here once again to point out a small error, but there are no goblins in Fable, just Hobbes.

    • HobbesMkii says:

      It’s true. I’m the only small, ugly, disgruntled enemy in Fable.

      • doyourealize says:

        And I feel bad about hitting you in the head with a frying pan…but I’d do it again.

      • George_Liquor says:

         Please don’t take this the wrong way, but you are really fun to kill.

      • Effigy_Power says:

         Anyone stalking the forests on stilts deserves a frying pan to the frontal lobe.
        After all, you steal children and force your anarcho-syndicatist agenda on them, living in caves and all that. That is no adequate base for government.

  10. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    I love the irony of having to kill nobody the entire game in MGS4 to get an item that allows you to kill everybody.

    • Effigy_Power says:

       We all know everyone is just aching for that second play-through, don’t we?
      “Hi, remember me? Last time I broke into your secret military installation, I just knocked you out. This time however…”
      -fires 30 missiles at lone guard-
      “Yeeeeeaaah…”

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        “Congratulations!  You escaped Rapture and spared all of the Little Sisters!  Would you like to play again with the Sister Slayer plasmid?”

  11. George_Liquor says:

    Come on, bubba pan chest-dana! I got six months’ salary riding on you!

  12. Enkidum says:

    I have nothing but anal retentiveness to add: isn’t it “Is it the shoes?”. Or did they update the commentators in 2k11? 

    Still running 0% in terms of having played any of these games. Clearly I led a rich and fulfilling life outside being cool and shit while all y’all losers were hunched over controllers.* NERDS!!!

    *Enkidum is lying. Being “cool and shit” is not compatible with owing >20 books in each of the Fighting Fantasy, Dragonlance, and fucking Three Investigators series. 

  13. The_Misanthrope says:

    Umm…I can’t vote.  Rather, it is acting as if I already have (I really haven’t, honest!).  It’s just like all those cynical teens that hang out at the Hot Topic in the mall:  “Democracy doesn’t work”.

  14. Drew Toal says:

    Air Jordans > stupid bandana. 

    • You’re mad, Toal! At least, mad to claim these Air Jordans are the hotness. Now, if we were talking the Air Jordans worn in Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City for Super Nintendo, that would be a different story. Those aren’t a special item though. They’re a way of life.