(Some of) The Flaws of Gen 1 Bionicle

Today I decided it had been too long since my notifications bar was filled with comments about how pretentious I am and decided I would fix that by discussing some of the missteps and failings of the original Bionicle storyline. So before Lego adopts Nintendo like policies on fan made content and shuts TTV down unless they start paying royalties, I figured I might as well take this opportunity to start another lively discussion about the quality of Bionicle's story.

Before we begin, though, couple of things to keep in mind. Firstly, to avoid having @Political_Slime challenge me to another fight, keep in mind that just about everything stated below is opinion. I'm putting this here so I don't have to write "IMO" every 5 words.

Secondly, there are some more obvious flaws I'll be leaving out (the movies, for instance) because just about everyone acknowledges them as flaws and that particular dead horse has been beaten and turned into a Burger King Whopper already. I'll try to only include things if I feel that I have something at least relatively new to bring to the discussion.

So with that in mind, let's get started.

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FLAW #1: The general premises of 2007

2007 is a year that I kind of wanted to tackle right off the bat because it encompasses a large part of what I'm here to complain about, which is a general lack of creativity. To put it bluntly, 2007 is a retread of 2006. The same basic setup is copy/pasta'd from 2006; there's a Matoran settlement that seems to be utterly screwed because it's in an isolated location with few resources, they're being oppressed by a team of villains who are all generally working towards the same goal (something to do with the Mask of Life) but are constantly held back by their distrust for each other, a team of Toa show up not long after in search of the Mask of Life, and the rest of the year is basically a group of disconnected battles between the two sides before the grand finale.

Quite honestly, I like the general premises of this. It's quite atmospheric and gives way to a sense of intrigue, especially in the earlier part of the year when the outclassed Matoran are forced to rely on stealth and trickery in order to survive (the earlier books in 2006 are particularly good at this). The villains are also much more compelling than anything thrown before, in which the bad guys were seemingly destroying things just because they were evil or something. Unfortunately, Lego adopted the policy of "If it's worth doing once, it's worth doing twice," and this is where 2007 falls short. It has little ambition outside of dragging the Mask of Life quest out for another year and going through the same motions as 2006. There's nothing original or creative about 2007, it's just the same basic plotline of 2006 except we're all underwater now. $60 for new versions of the same Toa with tubes and lime green limbs that break if they touch any surface harder than a tissue, please.

Basically 2007 is the Twilight Princess to 2006's Ocarina of Time.

FLAW #2: Matoro's Sacrifice (and Matoro in general) is Incredibly Lame and Unengaging

General rule about character sacrifices; if you want them to be meaningful to the player in any way, shape, or form, you have to establish the character, and then make us care about them. Bionicle does a pretty good job at the first and fails miserably at the second, mostly because Matoro has all the personality of an upturned bucket resting on top of a lamppost. Superman is probably the best comparison I can give for Matoro; he has absolutely no character flaws outside of possibly some self esteem issues that he uses to justify another noble act of his. He's simply unengaging because he's basically perfect as far as morals go; he sacrifices himself (twice), helps some Matoran mirage in Karzahni, and is considered to be so good of a person that a mask will demand that only he wears it. It's because of this that his sacrifice is utterly bland and uninteresting. Matoro's character is one of basically absolute perfection; and it's nigh on impossible to connect with him as a result. The same sort of things that make Superman the blandest comic book hero in history make Matoro arguably the blandest Bionicle character, and so his sacrifice comes off as lame and unengaging since it's a person dying who I barely even care about.

FLAW #3: The ending to Time Trap is beyond poorly thought out

For what it's worth, Time Trap is a pretty engaging book, and quite honestly I wish more of the Bionicle books were like it. The trouble comes with the ending, where Lego writes themselves into a bit of a corner; Vakama needs to escape with the Mask of Time (so that he can give it to Tahu later) and be able to rebuild society on Mata Nui, while Makuta needs to be established as a threat to Mata Nui, but not until the Turaga can make villages n' stuff. The book's method of getting around this is that Vakama threatens to break the Vahi (and supposedly destroy time, however that works), which scares Makuta into allowing for a year of peace before he attacks.

Problem here is that Vakama...still has all the bargaining power when Makuta shows up. Unless he went senile, he should have just threatened to break the mask again unless Makuta got out. If the effects of destroying time are truly that disastrous, and Makuta is convinced that Vakama isn't bluffing (as it would seem by the fact that he gave him a year of peace)...why didn't Vakama just pull the exact same stunt as before?

FLAW #4: Inconsistent Balance of Power

This one's been remarked on a few times, but where Bionicle started to sort of lose me was after the Toa Nuva's defeat by the Piraka. I can buy that the Piraka are super powerful villains and could take down the Toa Nuva, and that the Toa Inika are super powerful Toa who can stand up to the Piraka, which leads to a bit of a hierarchy of power being created here. The Toa Nuva are on a level with villains like the Rahkshi, while the Piraka and Toa Inika are on a vastly superior level. No problems so far.

Where issues start to arise is when these same Toa Nuva, previously established as much weaker than the Piraka and Toa Inika, begin taking on groups of foes that have already been established as stronger than both Piraka and Inika, such as...Makuta. Yes, the entire year of 2008 is dedicated to the Toa Nuva fighting Makuta. And yeah, I get that the Makuta were supposedly holding back, but the Toa still display usage of force that, at various points in time, "stuns" and even forces the Makuta to retreat. These being the same Toa that only managed to take down a single Piraka in their previous fight.

This isn't exactly an isolated incident either. Tahu easily bests a Skakdi Warlord in a less powerful form in 2010, the Toa Inika/Mahri somehow held their equal against the Barraki after Pridak was previously established being far stronger than a Skakdi (who the Inika were roughly as powerful as in 2006), and the Rahkshi are established as cakewalks for the Skakdi...the same Rahkshi who the Toa Nuva barely managed to defeat...but, as previously established, Nektann can't defeat a less powerful version of Tahu. Basically what I'm saying is that power seems to be about as arbitrary here as it does in the average Netherrealm fighting game story.

FLAW #5: Makuta's actions during the Mask of Light quest are absolutely stupid

2003's a year that's frequently listed as one of Bionicle's best, which strikes me as odd, because half of it was taken up with clone sets, and the other half was arguably the most cliched, generic plot in the entirety of Bionicle's storyline. Any plot that ends with "the true strength was within you all along" probably deserves to get tossed out immediately, but what deserves special attention is the sheer idiocy of Makuta during the entire incident.

Let's recap; Makuta's plan (the plan that has supposedly been in the works for thousands of years) is for the Toa Mata/Nuva to awaken Mata Nui, so Makuta can slip in and steal his body. To accomplish this, the Toa Nuva will need to reach Metru Nui at some point. To reach Metru Nui, the Mask of Light must...do that thing it does at the end of the movie...where it shoots a beam of light out and finds Metru Nui...which presumably can only happen if there's a Toa of Light there.

So Makuta needs Takanuva to become a thing, and have the Toa Nuva survive, for his plan to succeed. And yet, his own servants nearly ruin both of these conditions on a number of occasions. Turahk almost kills Takua. Kuurahk makes Tahu very upset, which leads to near fatal anger management classes with Gali. Takua very easily could have gotten crushed by the falling rocks in Onu Koro, and Onua establishes that he and Pohatu would likely have been killed were it not for Kopaka's help...off screen...somewhere... He even plays Kohlii with energized protodermis against Takanuva, which I believe kills people if it so much as touches them. If Takanuva screws up, no more Toa of Light. Plan ruined.

So Makuta's master plan was almost ruined on a number of occasions by his own doing. I realize that this is all probably stuff that the writers of Bionicle simply hadn't planned out yet, but nevertheless Makuta's actions here are absolutely stupid in the context of his greater goal.

-MT

14 Likes

All right, you make a few valid points. I can probably debate this all day. So, first:

I agree with you on every sentence except one. I feel like you could have noted that we barely saw the Matoran in 2007; they weren't used as well as they were in 06 due to the Major cuts, making the premise arguably executed worse than in 06.

A-hem. $60 dollars for new versions of the Toa that, for literally the first time ever, aren't clone sets.

Can't argue with you there.

Hmm... hadn't thought of that.

So, valid points here. However, a few things. First of all, in 08, the Makuta would have won with ease, except they were letting the Toa win to awaken Mata Nui. They were just there to put up a semblance of a fight (and to get killed by the Energy Storm) Also, the single Piraka they bested was Reidak. Not even the Inika could ever beat Reidak.

Gooood point. And Nektann is more powerful than most Skakdi. Maybe he was just oldbone and bogfoot that day.

Where was this said? Also, did the Toa ever actually face Pridak in one-on-one combat? I don't think they did, but I've only once read Downfall.

A-hem again. The Turaga know where Metru Nui is. They got from Mata Nui to Metru Nui once before.

Teridax actually feared Takanuva. Had Takanuva been more experienced, he could've killed Makuta, a being of shadow.

As for Tahu... Well, there was a reason Makuta didn't want to unleash the Rahkshi. He didn't want the destruction they would cause. This brings up the question, though, of why Makuta can't control his own Rahkshi, but... plot reasons!

Not only that, Protodermis of any kind kills any Makuta (unless a Toa of Light falls in with you, evidently). But, hey, Makuta's got armor to protect him, right?

Feel free to counter these points!

7 Likes

Energized Protodermis will transform or destroy almost any substance or creature it comes into contact with. Whether or not something changes and what it changes into depends on its destiny; objects or creatures that are destined will be transformed, while those that are not destined will be destroyed.~BS01

so, magical plot convenience juice saves the day?
maybe teridax knew what their destiny was?


MT, I cannot believe how much
I agree with you,

honestly, the biggest reason I like 07 more than 06 is the sets were better(IE no clone sets).

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I was under the impression that they had forgotten or something; with the whole ending scene in Mask of Light being a beam of light shooting from Takanuva's mask towards Metru Nui and Vakama saying "My island home, refound."

-MT

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I actually agree with a lot of what you've said here. I just wish you hadn't made comparisons to other franchises such as Zelda and Superman. Like, I really like Twilight Princess, and it seems like you just included those to illustrate your distaste for those things while they contribute nothing to your argument.

If I were putting in things just to show how much I hate them, I'd be referencing DmC and Conan O'Brien.

Honestly I was expecting a lot more disagreement than this, and I figured I'd throw in some examples that some people might find helpful to explain where I'm coming from.

-MT

1 Like

You may have a point. The route they took to Metru Nui was possibly a different one than the one they took to Mata Nui.

Let's see: route 1: the path through the Great Barrier, gets buried by Onewa.
route 2: the tunnels Onewa found (everything important was done by Onewa)
route 3: the route they used to get those airships to the city. Because they definitely didn't take the tunnels.

The final route back: could be route 1, or route 2, or a whole new route. However, let's analyze this for a second. Route 2, involving tunnels, went through a chamber with some Bohrok. A Bohrok lair is shown to be connectedt Makuta's lair. So, during Maze of Shadows, the Toa Metru were in Makuta's lair, unaware that the only thing blocking an easy route to Metru Nui, bypassing all the monsters, is a giant door only Takutanuva can lift. When the Toa, Matoran, and Turaga get past this door, they're at a place they've never been, and therefore, don't know how to get to Metru Nui from there.

Honestly, the whole "Mata Nui-Metru Nui routes" thing is still confusing.

Back to your point, though, Metru Nui is pretty big, and kinda hard to miss. If the Mata Nui-ans were to the north of it, they would have had no troble getting there. Add to that Kopaka's vision powers and stuff, and Takanuva was not needed for them to find Metru Nui. Or at all, IMO. Takanuva did nothing until 08.

Did the toa nuva have their adaptive armor when they fought the piraka?

I will say that your point about Time Trap can be explained. If you think about it, at that point in time, Vakama had nothing to lose, and Makuta knew that.

Contrast that to a year later, when the island paradise of Mata Nui had been fully colonized by the Matoran. To destroy the Vahi then would've sacrificed everything he and the others had worked so hard to build. And it's quite likely that Vakama did suggest threatening the mask again, but the other Turaga shot the idea down.

But other than that, your points are valid.

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Well, Vakama never told the other Toa Metru what had happened during his Vahi retrieval mission, so this would not have been brought up.

Nope. They got that shortly before the trip to Karda Nui. However, before you say "Oh, so they were more powerful in 08 because of the adaptive armor" the adaptive armor adapted to their environment, and somewhat to their enemies, i.e. giving them Midak Skyblasters, things that shot light, when they fought the Makuta. But with the Piraka, the terrain of Voya Nui never worked against the Toa Nuva, or if it did, affected them no more than the Piraka.

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Fair enough.

I agree on most points

On the power levels thing... let me make a comparison. If I recall correctly, Batman has occasionally managed to defeat Superman. Does that mean that Batman is more powerful than Superman? Obviously not. Relative power levels are not the only things that influence the outcome of a fight--preparedness and experience are also highly important. In the case of the Nuva being bested by the Piraka, it makes sense because, although the Piraka probably weren't actually more powerful than the Nuva, they knew the terrain, had thousands of years of experience fighting Toa, and had already secured the island for themselves. In addition, the Nuva probably weren't expecting or prepared to face foes as powerful as the Piraka, didn't have a clue what they were up against, and were in completely unfamiliar territory. The Nuva also had moral compunctions not to kill or brutalize their opponents that kept them from using the full extent of their powers, whereas the Piraka had no such compunctions. So, while perhaps I'm reading too much into it, I think it makes sense that the Piraka beat the Nuva even though they weren't quite as powerful.

As for the Inika besting the Piraka, they had the advantage of lightning, as well a mask powers that made them well-suited to fight the Piraka (Matoro could act as an undetectable scout, Kongu could see what they were thinking, etc.) They also got lucky, like when Thok and Hakaan decided to take Brutaka's power and go rouge(er). So I think it still makes sense that the Inika were less powerful than the Nuva but managed to beat the Piraka.

As for the other stuff...meh, 2010 was rushed and not well executed. stuck_out_tongue Though I think all the Rahkshi in 2010 were Heat Vision Rahkshi, who may not be as formidable as the ones from 2003.

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I'm certainly not much of a comic book guy, so I can't say this with certainty, but I'd be willing to bet that the majority of those times in which Batman beat Superman involved some sort of exploiting a huge weakness, presumably that of Kryptonite. In other words, the weaker party, knowing a weakness of their opponent, is able to prepare ahead of time and exploit said weakness. Had the Piraka defeated the Toa in this way, I would be totally fine with that.

This, however, isn't close to representing the way the Toa were defeated. There was no preparation ahead of time; if anything, the Piraka were far less ready for combat than the Toa (the first book of 2006 details how disorganized they were). The terrain also didn't play a factor in the battle either, if memory serves. No, the Toa were straight up beat down; this was an absolute blowout from start to finish. This is the sort of beatdown that can't simply be explained by a lack of experience or preparation; the Toa were outclassed in power in every single way, with the possible exception of Tahu and Zaktan, who battled to a standstill until Tahu decided to be an idiot. Gali was utterly trashed by Hakann, Avak overwhelmed Kopaka, and three Toa were needed just to take down one Piraka. There's a clear gap in power being presented here.

Also, if we're using the experience argument (be it fighting or with the terrain), then the Inika should have been blown out of the water when they ran into the Piraka, having just become Toa days before. But they were holding their own in the battle before the usage of the zamor sphere.

Point in all of this being that a blowout of that magnitude can't be explained away by mere experience (especially considering how the Inika were even less experienced) or surprise, especially considering the Piraka were far more disorganized than the Toa. Plus Tahu still manages to rek arguably the most formidable Skakdi in existence in a lesser form. Experience is good and all, but it doesn't make up for that kind of a gap in power, especially when the combat is unplanned and on the fly.

-MT

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You would be incorrect. In every scenario, Superman has won.

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The 2003 flaws were explained in great detail in the most recent Bionicle Autopsy video.The Bionicle story was supposed to end in 2004, but due to the massive succes of Bionicle, Lego decided to keep it going for more years.
At the time of MOL, the Great Plan wasn't a thing yet,and Makuta was a very different character.

I think the flaws started to happen around late 2003 to 2004, when everyone got confused about the story. 2004 to 2005 were mainly prequels. Usually, prequels after a sequel series makes everyone confused about the story sometimes. I also wondered how long Vakama told his story of his past in Metru Nui. Was it explained? Did he actually tell every single detail in like a day?

thanks for making me sad cry just kiddding but i agree with you, it was not the first time we saw a toa feeling not worthy to be a hero and the sacrface was expected and "bland"

The books don't recount how Vakama told the tales of Metru Nui. They recount his memories. That's why 2004 and 2005 have so much focus on Vakama.

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Actually, I surprisingly agree with you on all these points except for Matoro. I dunno about you, but it hit me pretty hard when Matoro died, especially with the dialogue. He understood the idea of sacrifice and how he needed to be the hero, especially as an underdog. Sure, he wasn't to interesting personality-wise, but I think him being an example as a perfect hero is what made it so striking to me as a kid.

Other than that, I agree with your other points.

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