The death of physical media keeps getting deathier: this past April, it was announced that after 20 seasons, Fox would no longer be releasing the full-season sets of The Simpsons on DVD. It’s a too-big-not-to-fail kinda thing, as the people who were still buying every set as it came out weren’t enough to make up for the decline in the DVD market, let the base costs for a juggernaut like The Simpsons. But much farther under the radar, Shout! Factory’s My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic DVD sets continue along at their steady pace. Most of their quarterly DVD releases haven’t been full seasons, but compilations – like Games Ponies Play, which Shout! Factory just released on DVD — because there have only been four seasons so far. Besides, these first four seasons of Friendship Is Magic have been better than the last 10 seasons of the Simpsons, so it evens out.
The title and cover of Games Ponies Play may be to tie it in with the upcoming My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games feature film, and there’s an implication that this set collects all the episodes of the Equestria Games arc from Seasons 3 and 4, but it doesn’t. Only two episodes, Season 3’s “Games Ponies Play” and Season 4’s “Equestria Games,” are part of that arc, and while they’re the first and last episodes of the arc, they don’t come close to telling the full story. (Also, Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash win silver medals, not gold as shown on the cover. The characters not coming in first in competitions is a recurring theme on the show.)
Indeed, the episode “Games Ponies Play” features no ponies playing games, but rather the characters trying to impress the Equestria Games Inspector into choosing the recently-discovered Crystal Empire as the site of that year’s competition. (Dealing with bureaucracies is another recurring theme on Friendship Is Magic.) And it’s also one of the more experimental episodes of the series, since the beginning and ending don’t actually make any sense unless you’ve already seen the previous episodes, “Just for Sidekicks,” which was only released on the Season 3 set. For that matter, the best episode of the Games arc, “Flight to the Finish,” was burned off earlier this year in the Adventures of the Cutie Mark Crusaders set.
But these budget-priced sets aren’t really meant to tell full stories, and at least the included Season 1 episode “Fall Weather Friends” does involve direct completions between the characters. Not so much the Season 4 episode “Power Ponies,” which I really dislike and will not discuss further. And the final two episodes, “Appleoosa’s Most Wanted” and “The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone,” I can’t speak to because I haven’t seen them yet.
They’re from well into Season 5, which I only started watching last night, since I only just sent off the manuscript for Ponyville Confidential on Tuesday. (You remember me talking about that book in my Cutie Mark Quests article, don’t you? Sure you do.) I hope to get caught up in the next week or so, in time for the video release of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games. And we’ll get to that.