The Tester 3 – Episode 7 Recap: Dunkin’ Donuts


When March Madness finally anoints its Final Four in a few weeks, you’ll hear the never-ending panel of analysts say that any of the remaining teams would make a worthy winner. Well, unless you’re listening to Charles Barkley, in which case you’ll hear that in order to win, the champion will have to put the ball in the bucket. Got it, Chuck. Thanks.

We’re fast approaching that Final Four—or should we say Tester Three?—moment on every gamer’s fave reality series, where the argument that it doesn’t really matter who wins at this point is arguably true, since things like alliances, melodramatic arguments and the sweet motivation of bonus Sony schwag fade into the background, to be replaced by rope, an obstacle course and a SixAxis controller. It’s all so final, so economical, so Ratchet and Clank meets Saw. It almost makes us long for the days of clown cars and catapults. Almost.

Synopsis: After one overconfident contestant craps the bed in a Home Run Derby challenge in MLB 12 The Show (with PlayStation Move!), another overconfident contestant is slow on the trivia buzzer, resulting in some serious serial gang-dunking in a tank of subzero water. (As the makers of Skittles might say, taste the sweet schadenfreude.) The Tester’s cartoon character faces his Wile E. Coyote moment, and ladies and gentlemen, we have our finalists.

Dopey reality-show trope: Edited for the studio audience. Yes, wading through 45 minutes of missed trivia questions and errant baseball throws doesn’t exactly make for riveting television. That said, watching 10 minutes of perfect throws (and one miss) doesn’t exactly make for credible television, either. Who knew that krystipryde’s underhand granny curve was so accurate? Get the Los Angeles Angels on the line–stat.

History seems to be repeating a little too frequently as well. It was hard not to recall Star from season one blowing an easy judge’s panel trivia question (and a last-ditch opportunity to save herself) when SkyD1ddy does the very same thing this week. Wonder what would have happened if he’d remembered the names of the kids from Heavy Rain?

Jaw-dropping quote: Lord, they’re everywhere this week. Let’s crack open a three-pack:

“I couldn’t tell you if MLB is baseball or basketball.” Krystipryde, fronting her ignorance of the acronym that adorns Sony’s Major League Baseball franchise. To her everlasting credit, Krysti eschews most tired female stereotypes—the woman’s worked as a contortionist and fire-breather, for god’s sake, setting her apart (way, way apart) from your average 20-something woman with tattoos up both sides of her neck. The aversion to knowledge of all things professional sports apparently isn’t one of them. Even so, you’d like to think that would-be Tester finalists would step to the mound armed with basic info on Sony’s first-party franchises—swing and a miss. Good thing it wasn’t a trivia question.

“….Guitar Hero.” Speaking of trivia questions, SkyD1ddy brain-farting the answer to a question about a band that had its own Rock Band expansion (um, Green Day?) by coughing up the name of the Rock Band franchise’s eternal nemesis qualifies as a Brett Ratner-level screw-up. Somewhere Billie Joe Armstrong just stage-dived into a cement arena floor.

“You three really stood out.” Brent Gocke, praising the three contestants left standing at the end of the show. We have to parse a little with you there, good Mr. Gocke. Two of the three survivors won multiple challenges and/or led their teams to victory at various points over the last six episodes. The third sorta hovered in the background, came close to costing her team to a victory in episode three, and got accused just last week of accepting failure and lacking passion. Again, her creativity and general cool factor make her seem like she could make a perfectly fine Santa Monica Studios employee, but if that’s “standing out,” I’m a freaking lombax.

OK, not bad, actually: The judges’ panel No BS Zone is in full effect for the second week in a row, and thankfully, the trio, fueled by IGN’s surprisingly strident Greg Miller, finally call it on SkyD1ddy’s recurring failed metaphor—that his “imaginary brain,” as he referred to it way back in episode one, is like the opening sequence of LittleBigPlanet. Sounds nice and flowery, I suppose, but all I can imagine is brainstorming sessions narrated by Stephen Fry in which all sorts of level pieces spew out of D1ddy’s head—complete with appropriate Tester after-effects—to end up all over the conference-room floor like so many doughnut crumbs. Sky’s been entertaining as hell, but his professional communication skills are the major missing piece of his cartoon-crazy package.

How hilarious is it that the remaining contestants reach for a Suzkaiden punchline not once, but twice, even though she’s probably at home, plotting her noisy and boisterous revenge. Man, it’s like they hated her more than the rest of us did or something.

Finals Preview: We’ll skip our leader and precipice entry this week, since the eliminations are effectively over at this point, and try to handicap the finalists. Unless something unexpected happens—a PED scandal, or maybe a surprise Suzkaiden attack—the judges’ influence on the proceedings is effectively done. They’ve winnowed the pool down to the few, the proud, the employable. And now, none of it matters, because the winner just has to untie some knots, then ace an obstacle course and a video-game throwdown. Even Ashichan could do that.

Interesting to note that two of our three finalists were among the group that got the sit-down with Todd Papy a few weeks back. In order of odds-on finish:

AkilleezMight. He’s poised. He’s articulate. He has military training. He’s a natural leader. Todd Papy seemed to warm to him in the one-on-one. His challenge losses—like failing to build the tallest tower–seem like inconsequential shortcomings. The athleticism and speed should give him an edge.

Krystipryde. Remember that Twisted Metal challenge she aced in episode two? Not sure I’d want to be facing her across a SixAxis with an industry job on the line. Really, really hate to bring this point up, but can The Tester deal with three seasons and no female victor?

RealityPalez won’t be hindered by his unfortunate cocky quotient while he’s speeding through puzzles, but he’s not the most athletic guy or the most skilled gamer, either. If Greg had been standing close enough, he would have smacked the back of Reality’s head to punctuate the “don’t be that guy” dagger he tossed. Something tells me fate and some ill-timed button pushes will take care of that two weeks from now.

Next week: Are you ready for some filler? Sony apparently thinks you are. The dramatic series finale gets postponed a week so we can catch outtakes from previous episodes and interviews with cast-off cast members. Great. ‘Cause we were really hoping for more Egoraptor and Ninjanomyx. Just like we’re all hoping that there’ll be a sequel to Ridge Racer on the Vita.

In these iffy economic times, it’s hard to fault Sony for trying to eke a little extra airtime out of their discarded footage. But here’s a suggestion for Season 4—rip another tear-stained page from The Bachelor and let the players who’ve had their badges yanked come back and tee off on the finalists, with all of them sitting in the same room. Something tells me if you put them within striking distance, Suzkaiden might have a few choice words—and a groin kick, and a Sackboy upside the head–for RealityPalez. Now that’s entertainment.

Image credit: Tester-Season 3-Episode 7 – PlayStation Trivia Trial!

About the Author

Aaron R. Conklin has been writing about games and games culture for more than 15 years. A former contributor to Computer Games Magazine and Massive Magazine, his writing has appeared on and in newspapers and alt-weeklies across the country. Conklin's an unapologetic Minnesota sports fan living in Madison, Wisconsin, home of the Midwest's most underrated gaming vibe.