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(Due to some tragic events in my life (detailed below), I decided to skip a week with my "Weekly Top 5" series, but I'll be back with a new list next week.)
I've always dealt with grief by writing, whether as a way to take my mind off of the situation or to express my feelings about what's going on. This past week has been a complete roller coaster for me. Last Thursday, I welcomed my new baby niece to the world. This isn't my first rodeo in the uncle game, but this is the first child from my side of the family, so it's a little different. My parents were so excited to be grandparents, and it was truly a day for the Thomas family to celebrate. However, my dad informed me that my dog wasn't doing very well, he's been sick for a while now and things had gotten worse than I had thought. My dog has always been very high energy, and when I went to go see him, it was obvious that he just wasn't the same boy that I'd had for the last nine years.
Then, the next day, I took a mini road trip to Cleveland to be a groomsman in my buddy's wedding. It was an absolute blast, but come Monday, reality checked back in. My brother called me and told me I should probably make the hour long trip back to my parent's house because our dog was struggling to breathe and was fighting for his life. I arrived, and spent a few hours there with him. He could no longer stand under his own power, and he hadn't eaten and drank anything for several days. I knew his time was coming up. I prayed and just said "God, I know You're calling him home, just please make him comfortable until that happens." It was obvious he was in pain, but I didn't want to take him to a vet to put him to sleep. He was always scared of the vet's office, and I didn't want his last moments to be frightening. As a family, we agreed that we would wait until the next day, and if he didn't pass naturally, we would take him. People say it's the humane thing to do, but it was still hard for me. Luckily, I didn't have to deal with that. Early Tuesday afternoon, my boy Muldoon was called home.
I got him when he was a puppy with my own money, so I considered him to be my dog for several years until I moved out of my parents home and couldn't bring him with me, at which point he morphed into the family dog. I knew that I wanted to write something about him, but how do I tie this in with videogames? It didn't take long before I realized that he had been there through a lot of my favorite gaming moments.
I remember several nights playing Resident Evil 4 with him sleeping in my lap as a puppy. He always seemed really confused when something would startle me and I would jump, waking him up in the process, at which point I would have to calm him down to get him back to sleep. I hit a rough patch in my finances and wound up having to move back in with my parents back in 2010, where I stayed until I got married in 2012.
My brother and I had a mutual game room, where I would spend my time playing a plethora of titles while my brother played Call of Duty with his clan. Every night, we would be sitting there gaming, with Muldoon laying on the couch next to me. He was there with me during the thousands of waves of Locust that I killed in Gears of War 3. He was there as I mined for material in Mass Effect 2. He was there when I spent hundreds of hours exploring the vast world of Skyrim. Granted, he spent most of the time napping on the couch while I did all the hard work, but he was there with me through it all.
When I met the woman that would become my wife, we decided to replay Borderlands together. We had already played the game before we met, but when we realized that we both had the same affection for the series, we started new characters and played with each other every night. We really bonded a lot during those late night sessions on Pandora, and we both give some credit to the series for our marriage. And guess who was sitting next to me during every second. You guessed it, Muldoon.
Unfortunately, I've dealt with death a lot in my life. They say a dog is man's best friend, and I really understand it now. I truly lost my best friend. It's going to be a bummer when I walk into my parent's house and he's not there to greet me with excitement. It's going to be a long time before I feel capable of having another dog, and while I already miss him an incredible amount, I know he's at peace now, and I'll always be thankful for the happiness he brought to my family.
Goodbye, Dooner. I love you, buddy.
Thanks for reading.
If you've played the game, the title alone is enough to clue you in on what I'm talking about here. It seems like no matter what I do, I can't stop writing about the Resident Evil series. Whether I'm listing its greatest characters or writing a breakup letter to the series or using it as a topic for one of my weekly Top 5 lists, it seems as though I can't get away from it. So I'm just going to embrace it from now on.
While Resident Evil wasn't the first survival horror game, it took what came before it from games likeAlone in the Dark and the original Clock Tower and expanded upon them. It wasn't the first one, but it was the first that I played, so when the sequel was released, I was ecstatic. I have no shame is saying that the original RE scared me out of my wits, and I think the sequel increased the dread significantly. When Destructoid first put out the call for this blog theme, I knew I was going to pickResident Evil 2, but I wasn't sure which moment. The first encounter with the Licker was up there, because I had already exhausted my shotgun ammo and the Licker immediately lunged forward and decapitated a young Leon S. Kennedy. What about the numerous surprise attacks from the Tyrant-103 (known to most fans as Mr. X)? Or how about the scene where reporter Ben Bertolucci meets an unfortunate end at the hands of what can only be described as an Alien chest burster?
But when push came to shove--which is a saying that I still don't fully understand--there was only one choice. The moment that literally made me scream in terror, the two way mirror. For anyone who hasn't played the game or isn't all that familiar with the series, Resident Evil 2 takes place in the Raccoon City Police Department. At one point you need to enter a room behind a two way mirror, where a Licker is waiting and drops from the ceiling. As long as you have some firepower, there's no cause for concern. At most you would need two shotgun blasts to put it down.
Later in the game, you gain access to the room on the other side of the mirror--the interrogation room. I remember getting an uneasy feeling as soon as I walked in and surveyed my surroundings. Nothing seemed out of place, but even in videogame form, the room seemed so sterile and cold. It just felt uncomfortable. You have to walk by the mirror in order to pick up a key (the Rook Key, if memory serves me correctly), and as soon as you go to exit the room, a Licker bursts through the window with a loud crash. Resident Evil is known for its jump scares, and this one is the best in the entire series.
In retrospect, it's kind of funny that it terrified me as much as it did. If I were playing it for the first time today, with nearly 17 more years worth of gaming experience, I would have seen it coming from a mile away. It's terribly telegraphed. They may as well have had writing on the mirror that said "DON'T WORRY, EVERYTHING'S COOL".
If you'd like to see the scene play out in its entirely, check out the video and start watching around the 2:55 mark. This is the scene that cemented my love for the series. To this day, jump scares still freak me out, and still occasionally cause me to pause the game to regain my nerves. Even thoughResident Evil has strayed far from its survival horror roots, going back and playing the early titles still instills a sense of dread that few games before or since have done.
Yeah, I know this isn't about videogames, but...ya know...whatever. This begins my month long jouney into Halloween writing. I have a "Fangs for the Memories" blog in the works, as well as some survival horror themed lists coming later this month. But for now, enjoy.
People always talk about monster movies this time of year, so I wanted to talk about my all-time favorite, The Monster Squad. For those poor, uninitiated few, it was a movie about a group of pre-teens in the late 80s who form a club to take out the forces of evil. Why do monsters just suddenly show up in this small town? Because reasons. The film has become a cult classic over the years, and for me, is one of those movies that I loved as a kid and will still watch frequently today. In my opinion, it has the most terrifying Wolfman ever put on film, and Duncan Regehr gives one of the best portrayals of Dracula that you'll ever see, and that's not just me, he's received legitimate praise for the role from reputable critics. It also has Jason Hervey and the guy who played Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite, that's also something.
Of course, being a late 80s action/horror/comedy, it has its fair share of ridiculous (i.e. awesome) moments, but I've limited myself to just 5 (or 6) for the sake of the readers, too much 80s stimuli is enough to kill a man.
Honorable Mention: The Answer to the Question of Wolfman's Manhood
If you've ever seen the movie, you know this amazing line, and I'll just leave it at that.
5. Greatest Montage Ever
This has got to be the most 80s thing ever. That song, kids making bullets in class and not a single teacher finding it suspicious, that kid bobbing his head to show you how much he rocks, it's just perfect. Rocky had its fair share of corny montages (let us not forget when Rocky and Apollo run on the beach in booty shorts), but if you want one that will make you laugh and shake your head at the same time, look no further.
4. Mummy Came in my House
This scene is actually kind of endearing. It shows a child's innocence and his father's love for him. In hindsight, it's a terribly telegraphed gag, but when I was a child, I thought it was really scary. I mean, the mummy is right there! Look! Just look, you idiot! He's going to get you! RUN!
I know An American Werewolf in London has the most well-known transformation in horror, but I think this one deserves some credit. The fanatical man trying to help the police, only to be denied and subsequently transform while still on the phone. How would that not freak you out if you were on the other end of that line? The foaming at the mouth is always cool, the movement of the cheekbones and hair growth, and then the way he demolishes the phone booth, it's all so metal. Then he lets out that roar and you know things are about to go down.
2. Dracula is Terrifying
I think the reason Regehr is so good as Dracula is because he remains so calm and reserved throughout the film, the quiet evil. It's so effective that once he finally snaps and flares his fangs, it's legitimately scary. Fun fact: Ashley Bank, who plays the little girl in the scene, wasn't told that Regehr was going to have his fangs and contacts in, and her screams of fear are completely real. Today, that would be called 'child abuse.'
1. Wolfman's Death and Resurrection
Just watch this, and watch the entire thing. This is easily the best 3 minutes in the movie.
Awesome. So, so metal.
Next week's list: Top 5 Castlevania Games.
Thanks for reading.
This week it's all about Super Smash Bros. for 3DS. Dustin rejoins Chris and Luke and they enjoy talking about such things as Luke getting angry at an old lady, Chris getting called a racial slur, and Dustin just being alive in general. For the topic discussion, they do a retrospective on the Super Smash Bros. series.
Games of the Week
Dustin - Super Castlevania IV
Luke - Hyrule Warriors
Chris - Super Smash Bros. 3DS
Don't forget that you can donate to our Extra Life gaming charity with the link below.
Follow us on Twitter: @TheDustinThomas, @BygJuce, @FakeChrisCramer, @HeathaSonYo
And lastly, don't forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher. Thanks for listening.
Some of you know that I have a podcast that I do with a couple buddies.
This week we're recording a regular episode where our main topic discussion will be the new Super Smash Bros. We'll be sharing our thoughts and histories with the series.
Then we will be doing a retrospective on the Castlevania series, as it's very near and dear to all of our hearts.
So, ask us question! We don't typically ask for questions on a certain topic, you're more than welcome to ask questions about anything, doesn't even have to be gaming related. But if you have questions or would like to share any personal memories about either the Smash Bros. or Castlevania series, comment below.
Thanks in advance!
Any Nintendo kid of the late 80s/early 90s has a special place in their heart for Nintendo Power. Gaming magazines were such a huge thing for us as children, and it still makes me sad that, for the most part, they're obsolete. But it still warms my heart to go back and look at the covers of old issues, which is what I did for this list. The 5 covers I chose have nothing to do with my personal feelings on the games featured, and are purely based on how much I liked designs of the covers, and special issues like strategy guides were disqualified.
No list about Nintendo Power would be complete without at least mentioning the final issue. I bought two copies, one to read and one to keep sealed forever. The fact that they recreated the cover of the original issue just does my heart good. I'm a sucker for the clay model artwork that was so prevalent for the magazine at the time. Pour a 40 out for Nintendo Power.
And now, let's begin the countdown...
I'll admit that I'm not as big of a fan of Yoshi's Island as a lot of the Internet is, although I do enjoy it. One thing I do love, however, is the art style, and this cover shows it off flawlessly. I'm not quite sure why they felt the need to draw attention to Baby Mario's butt with some "Hot News" about Super Mario RPG, or why the yellow Yoshi is laying like he's lounging at a nudist colony (or why it kind of looks like he's flipping me off), but that's not the point. The point is that after the introduction of Yoshi is Super Mario World, I was clamoring for the opportunity to control Yoshi(s) in his (her/their) very own game. And this cover did exactly what it was meant to do for me.
Regardless of how you feel about the Virtual Boy, you can't deny this covers awesomeness. This shows exactly what I thought virtual reality was going to be: Neon all up in ya. And naturally they had to include those weird glowing eyes, because every new console in the 90s had to be accompanied by some sort of monster or otherworldly being. Although I have to say that no matter how hard they tried to make the Virtual Boy seem like a viable counterpart to the handheld powerhouse that was the Game Boy, there was no amount of convincing that could possibly do the trick.
I've already spoken about the clay models used for NP covers, and again, it's on full display here. They even managed to use the right colors on Mario this time. In fact, they did a great job recreating the pose of the box art for Super Mario Bros. 3. Then they throw in the bonuses of Larry Koopa, Chain Chomp, and the Sun. That Sun, guys. I'm not sure who scared me more as a kid, the Sun or Phanto. Both of them traumatized me.
It's a very simplistic cover. The color used for the background reminds me of a sun setting, and that brings back great memories of coming home on a Friday after school, immediately firing up the game and playing until the late evening.
I've written in the past about how I'm just not that big of a Legend of Zelda fan from a gameplay perspective, but I love the story and lore of the series. I mean, the only ones I've ever finished areLink to the Past and A Link Between Worlds (more on those in a future Top 5). This cover is for Link's Awakening, the series' first foray into handheld gaming, and boy is it epic. What's great about it is that it doesn't feature either character from the game's title, and instead shows the aptly named character, Owl. I'm not sure if Owl is covering his face because he's an angsty teenager trying to be mysterious or he's covering his mouth to cough, but either way, he looks great.
And that sword is bedazzled like nobody's business. There's so much bling on that sword it would make Master P blush. This is a very fitting cover for Nintendo Power's 50th issue.
Easily the most infamous Nintendo Power cover, so much so that it caused parents to write letters to the magazine exclaiming that the cover gave their child nightmares. And...yeah, I can see that. It's a very macabre and gruesome scene, and definitely not in line with the family friendly image Nintendo has always had. But now that we're 25 years removed from the release of this issue, we can look back on and see how awesome it really is.
By the standards of today, it's pretty tame. But when you consider the type of restrictions that Nintendo had on in-game content at the time, it's kind of amazing that this made it past the editors. Granted, Nintendo Power didn't have to go through an approval process by the company it represented before putting an issue to press, but you'd think they would want to be as in-line with the company as they could. You can't have blood in Mortal Kombat, but you can have a dude holding Dracula's decapitated head.
Thanks for reading everyone. I'm very much looking forward to October, as all of my lists will be Halloween themed, should be a good time.