As a reminder, my teams are as follows:
Easy – Team Manly Pink
*Dan Hibiki, Street Fighter series, Marvel versus Capcom 2
*Kirby, Nintendo, Super Smash Bros. Melee
*Luigi, Nintendo, Luigi’s Mansion (equipment: flashlight, Poltergust 3000, Game Boy Horror)

Medium – Team Unfair Advantage
*Seta Soujirou, Rurouni Kenshin, post Kyoto
*Snake, Metal Gear Series, post Sons of Liberty (equipment: tranq gun, cardboard box, cigarettes)
*Zhuge Liang, styled Kongming, Dynasty Warriors series, circa Battle of Chi Bi (starting stats and weapon, no extra equipment)

Hard – Team Pyrrhic Victory
*Alexander Anderson, Hellsing, post anime debut
*Legato Bluesummers, Trigun, right before he snuffs it in the anime
*Xelloss, Slayers Try, post series

And as a bonus, I will also discuss the changes each team has for all three challenges.

– Easy: The Live-Action Anime Musical –

Easy Challenge – This year, the planners behind last year’s New Year Con have beefed up security, but at the expense of the entertainment budget. The troupe they planned to bring in for the debut of the LAAM (the Live-Action Anime Musical) was more than they could afford, and since it’s been hyped that it will be the first LAAM at NYC, you and your teammates have been requested to fill in. You may choose to do any anime that isn’t already a musical (which is the majority of them).

I sigh when I hear our task. “Figures that I pick the one team that has no anime characters in it. Although, technically, Street Fighter is an anime…” I turn to Kirby. “Hey, Kirby, can you disguise yourself as somebody whose powers you absorb?”

Kirby thinks about a moment, then gestures to Luigi, who with great reluctance submits to being eaten and then spat back out. One stock animated transformation sequence later, Kirby is wearing a miniature version of Luigi’s overalls and hat, and looking adorable beyond belief.

I scratch the back of my head. “Well, this might work as a parody.”

One round of frantic volunteer recruiting, soundtrack buying, and last minute rehearsing later, the audience is laughing their way through “Street Fighter: The Musical”. (Dan, of course, plays himself.)

Of course, given that none of my team has much musical talent or dance their way out of a paper bag, a good percentage of the laughter is AT them rather than WITH, but overall I think I can pull off something halfway entertaining, at least.

Final verdict: A squeak-by win.

(Bonus: Team Unfair Advantage)

Romance of the Three Kingdoms would make for perfect musical material, as we could use the original text for poetic inspiration. Of course, since I don’t want to spoil the plot to Kongming I pick out something early in the timeline to present, and rely on his classical Chinese education to compose the soundtrack. Soujirou proves to be a surprising natural at this whole acting business, although since he lacks stage experience he does occasionally break character–but he looks so cute doing it that he’s forgiven. Solid Snake exudes pure cool no matter what I throw at him, and he carries his scenes with ease.

Final verdict: Resounding success. This would actually be the best team to handle the task, IMHO.

(Bonus: Team Pyhrric Victory)

Um. Hahaha. My only chance at pulling this off would be to convince Xelloss that humiliating Father Anderson and Legato onstage would be worth the effort it’d take for him to get things working.

Even so, I think even I’d get in on the betting pool of when things would go to hell and the entire place go up in a Benny Hill-esque chase sequence. My only hope is that the other teams can help contain the chaos that ensues.

Final verdict: Bonus mission…failed. But it’d be funny to watch in retrospect.

– Medium Mission: T-t-t-time Paradox –

Medium Challenge – You have received a summons to a group meeting of all the challenge entrants.  The meeting shall take place in Colorado, and will consist of a whitewater rafting trip.  You can choose to summon your team beforehand for the travel there, or you can wait and
summon your team once there.  Due to the quantum mechanics of the summon device, your success or failure will affect or be affected by other challenge entrants failures or successes.  As you and your team journey down the river, you hear an explosion, and once you and your team reach where the rocks have blocked the river, you’ll journey over a waterfall where… “You and your three teammates, on a routine New Year’s Challenge, get caught by the greatest time window ever known. Hastened by the rapids, it’ll transport you over a thousand feet below, to the Land of the Lost (lost, lost lost), to the Land of the Lost (lost, lost lost).”  You’ll be living in the Rick, Will, and Holly Marshall era of the Land of the Lost in terms of foes, terrain, and puzzles to solve, but with the modern understanding of dinosaurs (á la Jurassic Park).  You’ll enter just after the moons have aligned, so unless you’ve got great puzzle solvers on your team, you’re going to have to wait it out 3 years for the time-travel pylon to get you out of there.  You will not be in the Land of the Lost with the Marshalls, the Porters, or any other challenge entrant.

(I’m not really sure what you mean by the first half of the challenge, so I’m just going to summarize for that section.)

I sleep through most of the flight to Colorado and the drive out to the Middle of Nowhere (Snake, gentleman that he is, took the wheel; it helped that no one else knew how to drive) – I needed the rest and I didn’t want to spend that time psyching myself out about white-water rafting.

“At least I don’t have to save the world or anything…” I mutter as I suit up and climb into the raft.

“Come on! This looks like fun!” Soujirou says, all smiles.

“This is most definitely not fun!” I remember screaming as we plummet down, down down…

When I come to at last, Soujirou has just about worn a grove into the floor with his pacing, and even Kongming displays an expression of open concern.

“You may have a concussion,” Snake tells me, indicating that I should stay put. “I’ve looked around the area – we’ve landed in some kind of cave. As long as we can find food and water we should wait for the rescue team to find us.”

“And what if they don’t?” I ask in return. “I’m not that fragile. Just give me a minute and I’ll be fine.”

Except in the next few hours, I was about to find out just how overprotective of me my team was.

Final Verdict: Once again, Team Unfair Advantage lives up to its name. Snake’s got the experience defeating clever puzzles, Soujirou’s got the speed to defeat any trap, and Kongming has the smarts to outthink just about anybody. Easy victory.

(Bonus: Team Manly Pink)

Uh…well, we can bungle our way through the puzzles bit by bit, I suppose. Poor Kirby’s probably going to end up as the designated trap tester, because there’s nobody else on the team team who could survive that kind of punishment. And we’d better hope those dinosaurs are easy to spook, because other than Kirby our firepower’s kind weak.

If all else fails there’s the Deus Ex Machina, right?

Final Verdict: More likely than not, we’ll be stuck in the past for the whole three years.

(Bonus: Team Pyhrric Victory)

Who needs puzzle solving skills when you can just blast your way through everything? If my team doesn’t kill each other first, they’ll cut a swathe of destruction that ends up driving the dinosaurs to extinction. But they may end up having so much fun that they don’t want to go home…

Final Verdict: If all else fails, there’s always Xelloss. Sucks owing him another one, but why else would he keep coming back year after year?

– Hard Mission: Attack of the Hate Virus –

Hard Challenge – On New Year’s Day, a meteor crashed to earth.  This is not out of the ordinary, however what was on it is.  Some interstellar spores came down with it, and these spores are highly contagious.  Infected sentient lifeforms first show a glowing red hue over their entire body as a sign of infection.  Next, comes an overwhelming urge to attack and maim others, but not kill them, and shows no sign of preference for the victim to be infected or uninfected.  Upon uninfected individuals coming into contact with an infected individual, infection is almost instantaneous.  Infected individuals retain their speech and reasoning capabilities, and have shown abilities to wait for the right time to rush a barricade.  The spores themselves are extremely resistant to heat, radiation, and pressure as they’ve survived a star going supernova to send the meteor our direction.  Alloys similar to electrum can contain the spores and shield individuals.  You and your team will find out about the crash, and the crazy happenings within 12-24 hours of the event, and it will be up to you to deal with it.  Partial wins to those who can contain contamination so that a cure may eventually be found.  Full wins will go to those who can, after containment is done, can figure out a way to cure the infected souls.

The one good thing about this disaster, I muse as the world goes to hell in a handbasket, is that a virused Team Pyrric victory wouldn’t cause that much more collateral damage than a healthy one. (Xelloss, as a mazoku, would probably be immune anyway; ditto Father Anderson, who is a regenerator. One wonders what effect Legato’s arm attachment would have on his immune system, but since he’s not one to let people get close to him I don’t have to worry too much.)

“Why do I keep picking these guys again?” I mutter, feeling the onset of the world’s worst headache.

“Because you like us that much?” Xelloss suggests.

“Ellipses, man. So many freaking ellipses.”

Since Team Pyrric Victory’s approach to a problem is “kill them all, let God (or whoever) sort things out”, their idea of containment won’t be a welcome one unless things get to the point of having to resort to such drastic measures. And since I don’t have any people with medicinal expertise on my team, all they can do is hold back the contagion until somebody else is a cure.

Final Verdict: Partial Victory, if you count everybody who has the virus is probably dead (or worse) to be a point in the win column.

(Bonus: Team Manly Pink)

Um…I don’t think I even need to describe how much this team would suck (pun intended). And I’d better hope and pray that Kirby is immune to the hate virus, because losing my only major firepower would suck even worse.

Although, now that I think about it, maybe Kirby can absorb the powers of a micobiologist…

Final Verdict: It’d take a miracle to pull it off. I think we could at least contain the infection.

(Bonus: Team Unfair Advantage)

Containment is, once again, cake, as long as my team stays careful (Snake has the extra advantage of his nanotech, but without a cure to start with he might still be vulnerable). Curing the disease…not so much, unless Kongming can get caught up to the modern advances of medicine fast enough.

Final Verdict: Another partial victory.