You may notice that most of those blogs are somehow related to pro wrestling. Why? Because I spent 10 years as a professional wrestler before retiring in October 2013 due to back injuries. I actually wasn't too bad.
A bit about me? Well, obviously I love to write. It's not a paying gig yet, but I'm certainly trying to make that happen.
I'm a happily married man, and my wife is smokin' hot.
This weeks top 5 is a little late, sorry about that, I spent all week on a missions trip, but better late than never, am I right?
A few weeks ago I counted down my personal favorite console games of the previous generation. This week, I decided to downsize, and count down my favorite games that appeared exclusively on handheld systems, meaning the PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo DS. Last generation was the first generation where I really got into handheld gaming, and now, most of the gaming I do is on my 3DS or PlayStation Vita. Not a whole lot more to explain, so lets get going.
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
Probably my favorite GTA game, period. I was amazed how great it felt driving around a scaled down Liberty City, and the drug-dealing side game was strangely satisfying. I would love to see a downloadable version made available on the consoles, I would gladly double-dip for that.
God of War: Ghost of Sparta
I just felt like I had to list a PSP game on this list, and even though it later got a console release, I'm still counting it because it's my list. It was a late PSP title, and the first PSP entry in the franchise, Chains of Olympus, proved you could have huge, console-like experiences on Sony's handheld, but Ghost of Sparta took it and ran with it, and created an entry superior to some of its console brethren.
And now, let's get to the games that made the cut.
5. Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
The Nintendo DS had three different Castlevania titles done in the 'metroidvania' style, and all of them are superb. Sure, the stylus implementation in Dawn of Sorrow was a bit wonky, but it was still a great game. Portrait of Ruin was an even better game, giving you two protagonists that you can switch to on the fly, and going into different worlds via portraits gave them the freedom to get creative with the level design. But Order of Ecclesia is still my favorite of the DS trilogy. It's actually somewhat similar to Castlevania II: Simon's Quest on the NES, in that you travel to several different locations before being able to finally tackle Dracula's castle.
The game gives us a strong female lead, Shanoa, who is part of the Order of Ecclesia, a group of people who have taken up the battle against Dracula and do their best to try to prevent his return. Through the use of different glyphs, Shanoa can alter the abilities of her weapons, which was a breath of fresh air from the traditional swords, axes, and magic found in most action-RPGs. The game was a bit longer than it needed to be, because if you want to reach Dracula and get the true ending, you need to do a lot of backtracking, which is standard for these types of games, but it was a bit overdone, but the awesome (and challenging) boss fights make up for it.
4. 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors
I love a good story in my games. I don't enjoy games that only have good stories, but I count it as a bonus when it does, as long as the gameplay is still solid. Never before have I been as engrossed in a game's story as I was with 999. The funny thing here, however, is that there really isn't much gameplay at all. It's an interactive story, and the interactive bits are just puzzle-solving, choosing which of the remaining survivors you wish to continue into the next room with, and choosing your dialogue branch when prompted. Other than that, it's a lot of reading, but at least they gave us the option to skip the dialogue rather quickly on subsequent playthroughs.
The game has 6 different endings, and the craziest part about that is that the true ending gives explanations of how all the other endings are true and actually happened. It has a lot to do with alternate realities and timelines, and can get a little confusing. It was fun trying to figure out who you could trust and who you couldn't, and some of the story revelations will blow your mind. Think of 999 kind of like a Saw movie, but with a story worth paying attention to.
Also, the game has a pretty great sequel called Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward that appears on both the 3DS and Vita.
3. Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
It seems as though the Professor Layton series lost something after this particular entry in the franchise, but I still clamor for more each and every time. Much like 999, the puzzles and wandering that constitute the gameplay are just window-dressing for a fantastic story, they're there to give you something to do, otherwise you just dropped $35 to watch an animated movie on a small screen. Regardless of how you feel about the puzzles in the series--I couldn't tell you which game had which puzzle, also, way too much math--you can't deny that the stories run the gamut of emotions, and none more heart-wrenching than this one.
All the games are very cleverly written, and the titular professor always reminds you of a younger version of your wise grandfather. In this entry we get to see a more personal side of the professor, as the overarching story involves a lost love of his. It also has a lot of time travel, and the twist at the end, albeit implausible, was very good.
2. Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
I've never been a fan of turn-based combat. In my entire life, I've only finished four games that have it, and all four of them have Mario in the title. Bowser's Inside Story was the first of the four, and it was a monumental accomplishment for me. With JRPGs, the combat just wears on me after a while and I just put the game down and never come back to it. That's the reason I never finished games like Final Fantasy III/VI and Chrono Trigger. I'm aware that that's borderline blasphemy for someone as into retro gaming as myself, but I can't help what my tastes are. The important thing is that I tried, right?
Anyway, I took a chance on Bowser's Inside Story. I knew going in that it was turn-based, but I thought the idea of Mario and Luigi controlling Bowser from inside his body was fun enough to take the risk, and I certainly wasn't disappointed. They switch control from the Bros to Bowser and vice versa often enough to where it never got monotonous, and the humor--which is a staple of the series--kept me interested in the story throughout. This entry is my favorite in the Mario RPG/Mario & Luigi series.
1. Picross 3D
I've never had $20 go as far for me as it did with Picross 3D. I've spent more time twisting and turning these 3D puzzles than I have in Skyrim, and that's no small feat, because, like most gamers, I played a lot of Skyrim. This game is now over four years now and I still play it with consistency.
Most people don't expect this coming from me, but puzzle games are one of my favorite genres (perhaps that's the reason I never grow tired of Professor Layton), however, I had never played aPicross game before this one. I've spoken with a buddy of mine on several occasions who has a particular affinity for Picross DS, so I decided to give it a shot, and I still disagree and think Picross 3D is the superior game.
It's the perfect time-waster, it's the perfect pre-bed time game, it's a near-perfect puzzle game.Picross 3D gets nothing but my highest recommendation. If you have a Nintendo DS or 3DS, this is an essential item for your collection.
That's it for this week's top 5, but don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TheDustinThomas and listen to my buddies and I muse about videogames on our podcast.
I'm one of the few people you'll ever meet who loves the movie The Wizard in a non-ironic way. It's legitimately one of my favorite movies of all time. If I need something on in the background while I do something else, I pop in The Wizard. It's purely based on nostalgia, and I readily acknowledge and admit that. I've written an entire blog about why I love the film so much, and this week I'm counting down my favorite scenes (I couldn't find any clips for a few of the scenes, so I'll post pictures and describe them as best I can).
5. Tobey McGuire
If you pay attention to gaming at all, you probably already knew that the former Spider-Man's first film role was as a nameless lackey to the The Wizard's teenage antagonist, Lucas. Or, maybe you didn't know that, because it's a really obscure thing to know. The reason I love this scene is because it still blows my mind every time I watch it. When I first heard about this, I thought there was no possible way it was true, but when you look at the above picture and watch the scene in action, there's no question that it's him. Despise not the days of small beginnings.
4. Speedo Man
Imagine yourself as a small boy, watching a movie with the kid from The Wonder Years that's all about Nintendo games. Everything is going awesome, and then, oh hey, I can see that girl's underwear OHMYGODOLDMANINASPEEDO!
Why did this happen? This old man in a teal speedo couldn't possibly have been a hired actor for the film, which means that the director saw this scene after the shot and thought "That's a keeper." How could the director, the editor, the producer, and everyone else involved in the film's creation let this slip through in post-production? I mean, it's not like it was easy to miss, like a cameraman being seen in a mirror's reflection. That old man is right in the middle of the shot, and you mean to tell me that nobody said anything to him? My only thought is that every take before this one was so bad that the director just said "screw it" and gave it a pass.
3. Arcade Montage
Being a fan of action films and sports films must most certainly mean that I'm a fan of a good, old-fashioned montage, and The Wizard has no shortage of them. In fact, it has the same amount of montages as Rocky IV, which is four. Four montages are in this movie about a traumatized kid who is really good at videogames. But the arcade montage is by far the best, in order to describe it, I'll use an excerpt that I wrote in the previous blog that I linked to above:
That montage reminds me of everything that was great about my childhood. Granted, I never saw a Play Choice 10 machine in my life, and I never went to a glamorous Reno arcade, but looking at footage of Metroid, Mega Man 2 and TMNT, combined with that infectious 80s groove and Rick showing us all how awesome our dream job as Nintendo Hotline receptionists was, I can't think of any combination of images that better encapsulates what the year of 1990 was for me.
2. Cinema's Greatest Heel/It's So Bad
Lucas Barton is the late 80s/early 90s equivalent of that racist, sexist, homophobic slur-slinging 15-year-old that "rapes" me in Call of Duty whenever I get a wild hair up my butt and decide that playing multiplayer would be a good idea (it never is). Also, where are they? Does Lucas live in an abandoned convenient store? That is so...cool! Do Lucas and his gang of street toughs run the territory, hustling fools out of their lunch money by beating them at Rad Racer? But you want to know the real reason I hated Lucas as a kid? It wasn't because he punked out Jimmy, or that he vaguely hit on Haley, or that the actor who played him later went on to become a pedophile, it's because he had 97 games. Seriously, 97? I didn't even know that many videogames existed when I was a kid. I never owned more than, like, five. I'm pretty sure my local rental shop didn't even have 97 titles to choose from. I hate Lucas. I hate him. The 5-year-old Dustin is so jealous of him.
1. The Reveal
Unless you were there, it's really hard to convey just how huge of a deal this was. Yes, they show some footage of Super Mario Bros. 3 in the trailer, and we knew that we were going to have to wait until the finale of the movie before we got to see more, but that didn't negate the excitement of every child that saw this movie. When they finally pull the curtain back and unleash the game, it was seriously one of the most epic events I've ever experienced in my gaming life. And what game is more fitting for such an amazing unveiling than the NES' cream of the crop? Even to this day, this 25 year old game is considered an all-time great. This is something that could only have happened in the age before the internet. If someone were planning to unveil a new game in a feature film, that information would be leaked almost immediately, and the surprise would be ruined.
There you have it, my five favorite moments from one of my favorite movies. There were lots of other scenes that were close to making the cut, but I'm very happy with this list. What are your thoughts on the movie?
We've officially been in the "new-gen" of videogame consoles for about 9 months now, and even though many games are still coming out for the last generation, it's more or less finished, as most new games come to both new and last gen consoles. So I decided that this week is the perfect week to give my highest accolades to some games that made this past generation one of the best. I don't own a gaming PC, so this list is limited to games I played on either Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or Nintendo Wii. And as always, remember that these lists are subjective. I'm not saying these are the technically best games, just the games I enjoyed the most, but first, an honorable mention:
Honorable Mention: Gears of War (series)
I can't get into competitive shooters. I do play Call of Duty games, however. I buy the game used from GameStop, play the four hour campaign in a night, and return the game the next day for all my money back. Don't judge me. But what I'm saying is that I play as many games as I can, and I just don't have the fortitude to dedicate as much time as I need to in order to become good at Call of Duty multiplayer. Which is why I like the Gears of War series. They have campaigns that last several hours longer than your typical, modern day shooters. In addition to that, while they do have competitive multiplayer, it's the cooperative modes of the game that put this at the top of my shooter list. Not only can you play every campaign cooperatively with a buddy, but then you add in the Horde mode that became a standard for future shooters. CoD Zombies, you owe your success to the Gears of War Horde mode, also, you're not nearly as good. I was really bummed when they decided to exclude my favorite mode from Gears of War Judgment, but considering that game was basically a cash grab, it's not surprising. Gears of War is the series that I will eventually buy an Xbox One for.
5. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The holiday season of 2011 was basically just a blur of work and Skyrim for me, because that's all I did. I woke up, played Skyrim for a few hours, went to work, came home and slept, repeat. Weekends were spent playing the game all day, going to wherever my wrestling show was that day, coming home and playing until I fell asleep with the controller in my hand. I explored every inch of that world.
The funny thing is that I had never played an Elder Scrolls game before. I was actually hesitant to even play Skyrim to begin with, as it was a Bethesda Game and I didn't care for Fallout 3, so when someone described Skyrim as "Fallout 3 with dragons" to me, that didn't exactly whet my appetite. By the way, that description is completely inaccurate. Fallout 3 felt like it was just walking around the color brown, not being able to defeat anything, and constantly discarding things from my inventory because, oh hey, I'm carrying too much weight again. Skyrim is a lush, beautiful world full of orcs, giant beasts, bards, dungeons, wielding humongous axes, magic, putting buckets on shopkeepers heads and stealing from them, cheese wheels, arrows in the knee, and yes, fighting dragons. That's what I want out of my videogames. I never felt bored playing Skyrim, and always found myself saying "I'll just do this one thing and then I'll stop" and then wound up playing for another three hours. I don't normally like super-long, open-world games, but I eagerly anticipate the next Elder Scrolls.
4. The Last of Us
The Last of Us set a new standard for storytelling in videogames. Seriously, I've never had a game mess with my emotions on such high levels with such consistency. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons had the most emotional ending I've ever played, but The Last of Us was doing stuff like that throughout the entire game. I experienced an entire range of feelings: shock, sorrow, terror, anger, confusion, and so on. At the end of the game, I sat there for a few minutes trying to decide how I felt about it. When it came to looking at the big picture, it wasn't the right decision, but the human side of me said that it was. The Last of Us also put a different spin on the global pandemic, post-apocalyptic world, going with a fungus rather than, oh hey, another zombie apocalypse, we never see those. Sorry, Walking Dead fans, The Last of Us blows that show out of the water.
The game itself brings a perfect mix of action, stealth, and survival horror. And yes, I do mean survival horror and not action horror like the current Resident Evil games. You're not given a ton of ammo, and some enemies can't even be killed with bullets, causing you to approach encounters differently than the typical "guns blazing". Enemies are actually dangerous in this world, but at the same time, Naughty Dog did a great job improving upon their Uncharted series, where enemies go down in a couple shots, rather than just being bullet sponges (seriously, 6 bullets to kill one guy?).
You see the evolution of Joel and Ellie's friendship over the course of the year, and at times you'll love and hate them both. The Last of Us is a 5-star game if there ever was one.
3. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
These days, I refuse to buy a system until there are at least five games on it that I definitely want to play. Back in 2008, however, I didn't have that policy, which is why I bought a PS3 for the sole reason of being able to play Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. I actually bought the system a few months before the game was released, I remember the night very vividly: I had just received my tax return check, and I had said for weeks prior that as soon as that check came in, I was going to use it to purchase a PlayStation 3 immediately. Well, the day that it came in, we just happened to have a blizzard in Dayton, and it was advised not to leave your home unless absolutely necessary. Let me tell you, buying my PS3 was absolutely necessary. So I hopped into my parents car (because mine was on the fritz), drove to Best Buy, which was stupid because there was a Wal-Mart literally right down the road, walked in, grabbed by console and a copy of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune--because I needed something to hold me over until MGS4 was released--and headed home. I remember my purchase causing a fight between my girlfriend at the time and I because she was all like "You need to be responsible and use that money to fix your car" and I was all like "Shut up, because PS3."
I should first explain to you that I'm a diehard Metal Gear fan, I love everything about it. I know the story is insane and makes absolutely no sense, and it's this weird juxtaposition of real-life, modern day weapons and completely over-the-top enemies and outrageous scenarios, with some real and totally not real military tech thrown in for good measure. It's sort of like if someone was frozen in the mid-80s until today, then was asked to make an action movie about the future.
It's also well-known for the ludicrous amount of cutscenes that are put into the game. The series has always been a cinematic front runner on whatever console it's appearing on, but even I must admit that they went a little overboard with MGS4. There are at least two cutscenes in this game that push near the 90-minute mark. That's as long as an actual movie, and it's only covering a section of the game. At the time I was finished, I had spent 12 hours watching cutscenes and only 8 hours actually playing the game.
And you know what? I don't care. I still loved every single second of it. I played (and watched) those 20 hours of game in a span of 32 hours. It was literally the only thing that I did other than sleep in that time frame. The amount of polish and options given to you in the game was well worth the five-year wait from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. It actually gave you the option to use an iPod and choose the song you wanted to play from the soundtrack. The camouflage system from MGS3 was altered a bit, rather than having to navigate the menus in order to select what type of camo you wanted, it was streamlined into the "Octocamo" system, where Snake's bodysuit adjusts its color to match whatever surface he was on or against, like a chameleon. It was different and more practical from a gameplay perspective, but caused us to miss out on opportunities to see Snake in a cutscene wearing the weird oyama makeup.
The final battle with Liquid Ocelot atop Outer Haven was reminiscent of the original Metal Gear Solid battle on top of Metal Gear Rex, and while the actual fighting mechanics of that battle weren't as fleshed out or intuitive as I would have liked, it still made for one of my favorite moments I've ever experienced in gaming. If you've never played the game before, I recommend it, but make sure to grab a snack and a drink for those cutscenes.
2. Borderlands 2
I've written this story so many times that I'm sure some people are starting to get sick of it, but I owe my marriage in large part to the original Borderlands. When my wife and I first met, we discovered that we were both huge fans of the game, and wound up replaying the game together every night. The moment I got text from her saying "I just hope I can find another Combustible Hellfire SMG," I knew I was going to marry her.
The original Borderlands was already one of my favorite games of the generation, having played through it three times with two different characters. Fun fact: Borderlands and its sequel are two of the few games I've ever felt compelled to get all 1000+ achievement points on, I've spent a lot of time on the planet of Pandora. So when the sequel hit store shelves, both my wife and I were there on day one, it was the last game that I spent a full $60 on, I just couldn't wait for it to go down in price. Once again, between playthroughs with my wife, my buddy Chris, and my brother-in-law, I've played through the main story at least four times. Not to mention all of the add-on campaigns that they've released.
Our living room the night of release. It was beautiful.
Speaking of the add-ons, I must say that the four released for Borderlands 2 pale in comparison to the four released for the original. However, between Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage and Tiny Tina's Assault on Dungeon Keep, they more than make up for the other two lackluster additions. People can say bad things about the villain, Handsome Jack, but I personally find him to be hilarious. Between his megalomania, his humor, and trying to convince you that he's a sympathetic anti-hero, I find him to be a nice change of pace from the typical videogame villain.
Borderlands 2 improves upon an already fantastic game. It's the perfect blend of shooter, RPG, action, frenzy, and humor. And say what you will about the story, but I found it to be perfectly serviceable, with some legitimate sad moments, especially with Assault on Dungeon Keep. Even after they released the Game of the Year Edition of the game, they continued to release small pieces of content. I understand why that upset people, but how many companies do you know that continue to support their game almost two years after it was released? The next entry will be coming out in just about two months, and even though it's not made by Gearbox, and will likely be a smaller game than the other two, I'll still be there on day one.
1. Super Mario Galaxy
I don't care that I'm 29 years old, I still get just as excited for a Mario game today as I did as a kid.
This game is everything that is good about videogames. It's beautiful despite not being in HD, the music is whimsical, the planets are all unique and offer different enemies and visuals, and there's a decent challenge for those who want it. After the disappointment of Super Mario Sunshine (critical disappointment, not my own, I love that game), this was the best possible way for Nintendo to come back. It was new, it was different, it was incredible. The usage of gravity--or lack thereof--to complete levels was done perfectly. You can tell that Nintendo had a blast making this game, so much so that they made a sequel, which was the first time there was a direct sequel to a Mario platformer since the NES. Yes, I know Yoshi's Island is technically a sequel to Super Mario World based on the title, and I do count it as an entry in the Mario platformer pantheon, but it's too atypical from the standard Mario fare for me to be considered a direct sequel. It's its own thing, and there's nothing wrong with that.
The only real problem with Super Mario Galaxy 2 is that they discarded the overworld hub and the really interesting story stuff with Rosalina. At the end of the day, gameplay is king, which is why the game is still outstanding, but with the original Galaxy, everything was new and original. The new suits were a welcome addition as well. Bee Mario, Boo Mario, and Ice Mario were all superbly fun and made for some fantastic moments. They almost batted a perfect 1.000 with the new suits, but Spring Mario was a bit too difficult to control, especially when trying to attack enemies.
The boss battles were all great, even if they did have a giant sea creature and required me to be in water. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate water in games? Granted, every boss basically just consists of hitting the giant, glowing "Hit Me Here" section of their body three times, but just look at the designs of some of these guys:
Then you have the battles with Bowser himself, which all play the same, but get a bit more challenging throughout the game. But after you've completed the main game, you've only scratched the surface of Super Mario Galaxy. You have hidden stars to find, you have the purple coin time challenges, you can even replay the entire game with Luigi, who is more than just a palette swap of Mario like in years past, he controls differently, and that adds an extra dimension of challenge. Speaking of controls, Mario controls as perfectly as you have come to expect.
There's nothing bad about this game. It's almost perfect. If you want to have fun playing a videogame, bust out your Nintendo Wii again and pop in Super Mario Galaxy.
Last week I decided that I was going to start writing a Top 5 list every week. If you missed the list last week, you can read it here. Now let's get on to this week's list.
Games of the late 80s/early 90s were much different than it is today. We didn't have to wait for the game to update because we hadn't played it in a while, we didn't have to pay to unlock extra levels, instead we, you know, actually played the game to unlock everything. We also didn't have hundreds of videogame websites and news outlets to research a game before it comes out. I've never played a Halo game, but I can tell you exactly what that entire series is about, because I've had the series shoved down my throat for the past decade. I know everything about a game before it even hits store shelves, and that takes away so much wonder and amazement that makes the gaming medium so fantastic. For the most part, the only thing we had to go off of to determine if a game was worth playing was a small blurb in Nintendo Power, or going down to the local rental shop and poring over the wall of box art that stood before us. I have so many memories of just standing in the rental section of our local Marsh Supermarket while my mom went about and got our groceries, carefully grabbing each box, turning it over to see screenshots, and placing it back on the shelf. This was a tough decision, renting a bad game would ruin the entire weekend. I had to choose wisely.
These memories are the reason that I have such a fondness for retro videogame box art. Box art used to be such a huge part of a game's appeal, and let's face it, box art these days usually just consists of 'white guy holding a gun with game title'. It doesn't even matter what kind of game it is. It could be a dating simulator or a puzzle game, and as long as someone from the United States designs the cover art, it's going to have a gun on it somewhere. So I figured this week's top 5 would be my favorite box art from my favorite system, the NES.
Note: I would just like to say this was one of the hardest articles I've ever written. I looked through the box art of every licensed NES game released in North America. When it was all said and done, I had to narrow a list of 50 down to 5. If there's a game with a cover art that you're wondering why it didn't make the list, the answer is that it was probably on the list at some point before getting cut.
Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos
Batman: Return of the Joker
Abadox: The Deadly Inner War
Now let's get to the games that made my cut.
5. Double Dragon II
I'm not sure if the Double Dragon series is supposed to be set in the era that it was released (late 80s), or if it's supposed to take place in the far flung future of 1997-ish like the very non-canon film adaptation with the Iron Chef. Based on the box art, I'm inclined to believe it's the latter. The world of Double Dragon certainly has a problem with gangs, and this art reminds me of movies of the same era like The Running Man and Escape from New York, a futuristic dystopia ravaged by criminals. Also, it shows that you'll be able to live the ultimate power fantasy of saving a blonde damsel, being chased by a helicopter and wrapping a whip around the neck of a...mohawked...woman? Sure, why not?
4. T & C Surf Design 2: Thrilla's Surfari
Is that gorilla riding a wave of lava? He is, isn't he? That. Is. Awesome! There's also an Elvis impersonator, a cat wearing a tux, a witch doctor burning a woman at the stake, a two-headed rhino-griffin (a grifno? a rhiffin?), and a shored shark that is apparently chasing all of these things, despite not having legs. That shark is showing you that you can live your dreams, even if the world says it's impossible. This art is why my childhood was better than yours, unless we're the same age, in which case, high five! You're rad.
Also, props on the pun in the game's title that I never noticed until I wrote this entry.
3. Friday the 13th
I only owned a handful of games NES games as a kid, since renting was all the rage and way cheaper, but Friday the 13th was one of the games that stayed perched on my shelf. That right there is proof that this was a completely different time in gaming. My parents had no qualms with their young son playing a game about a violent killer from a slasher film franchise, but I wasn't allowed to watch Beavis and Butt-Head. I was allowed to play Mortal Kombat, but not allowed to watch The Simpsons, which obviously didn't work out the way they had intended. Anyway, when you think of Jason Voorhees, what colors come to mind? Hot pink? Neon green? A literal rainbow? I get that the rainbow was LJNs logo, but it stands out so much when pictured with a psychotic serial murderer from the pits of hell. This is the one entry that makes it on the list for being so bad that it's good.
2. Super Mario Bros. 3
There is no cover art that takes me back to my childhood like Super Mario Bros. 3. It's not outlandish. It's not full of radical 90s neon (see above). It's very simple, almost minimalist, and that's what makes it great. A plain yellow background with our mustachioed, raccoon-ed hero soaring through the air with his huge, vibrant smile. This is the videogame definition of happiness, folks. There it is. I found it. We don't need to look anymore, because I know you were all looking.
This isn't just my favorite NES box art, it's my favorite videogame box art, period. As a kid (and even now), one of my favorite movies was The Monster Squad. I've always had this love of the classic horror movie monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, The Mummy, etc. So when I saw this art, with the titular castle there on top of the mountain, looking all foreboding and junk, with Dracula's face looking over you, dripping with blood and laughing at you, I knew I had to play it. Then you see him, Simon Belmont, with the legendary Vampire Killer in his hands, and you knew, you just knew, that you were in for the fight of your life. It also helps that the game is one of the best games on the entire console
So, what do you guys think? What NES box art should have made it on here that I didn't include?
Before you read any further, I'm just going to come straight out and let you know that this is a plug for my podcast, so if you're not interested, you can back out now.
I've posted links to a few of them in the past, and it seemed as though the total amount of listens and downloads dwindled when I stopped posting them on here, so I'm gonna start again.
Anyway, if you've never heard my podcast before, it's called the Error Machine Podcast, and you can get our iTunes link here. Or if you're more interested in just a simple streaming or direct download, you can get that one here.
Every episode we tackle our Games of the Week, as well as some gaming news and new releases, your typical stuff, but then we also try to find a relevant topic for the week and discuss it. An example would be that when the controversy about MGSV: Ground Zeroes' campaign length was a hot topic, we talked about how we feel about the length vs cost of a game.
This week's episode we talk about games that we revisit time and time again.
Here's some of the topics and games talked about in this episode.
The Simpsons/Family Guy crossover episode.
Mario Golf: World Tour
Super Mario RPG
The Batman v Superman teaser trailer from Comic Con.
We cover these topics as well as a ton of other games in our topic discussion.
Hopefully you guys listen, and if you do, hopefully you enjoy it.
I really need to get back into the swing of writing again. I honestly just haven't felt like it recently. But I thought to myself "I like writing top 5 lists, they're easy to write, and there are topics aplenty." So my goal is to write at least one top 5 list a week, and if I miss a week, don't cry about it. My goal when it came to writing on the CBlogs was that I always wanted to write something interesting, but that took a lot more time and research, and I just didn't feel up to it. Top 5 lists are fun for me, so I think this will be good for me, and hopefully will keep me motivated to keep writing. And what better way to get this new venture underway than by ranking my favorite videogame consoles of all-time? Let's get started!
5. Xbox 360
Despite the Red Ring of Death, the atrocious Xbox One launch, and my complete and utter indifference to the original Xbox, somehow Microsoft managed to make my favorite (home) system of the last generation. Let me preface by saying that I don't really care about having apps on my gaming console, even though I spend more time on my Xbox 360 using apps than I do gaming, I can get all of those apps in several different ways. I'll also say that when it comes to console exclusive games, I think the PS3 far exceeds the 360 with games like Metal Gear Solid 4, 3D Dot Game Heroes, Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds, The Last of Us, the Uncharted series, and other classic Sony exclusive franchises. So how did the Xbox 360 get the victory? Simply put, it was cheaper, and all of my friends bought a 360 first, so I got it so I could play games with them.
I'll also admit that the Achievement system on the 360 sucked me in, and caused me to play a lot of games I never would have, as well as causing me to play games long after I had stopped having fun with them.
4. Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)
It was really hard for me to choose between the SNES and the original PlayStation here, but ultimately the SNES won because my all-time favorite game, Super Mario World, is on it. You may be asking "But if you were debating between the SNES and PSone for number 4, then why wouldn't the PSone be number 5?" Because this is my list, so shut up.
In addition to all the classic Nintendo titles like Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, Super Metroid, Link to the Past, and Super Mario RPG, there are tons of amazing third-party titles like NBA Jam, Final Fantasy II and III (yes, I know they're actually IV and VI), Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Chrono Trigger, and the list goes on. I feel the SNES is the (near) pinnacle of Nintendo's home console machines. That's not to say that I don't love the N64, GameCube, Wii, or Wii U, but they haven't reached the caliber of titles again since the SNES.
3. Nintendo DS
The Nintendo DS was the first handheld system I ever owned, and it's home to some of the best games I've played in the past ten years. Normally when you think of handheld systems, you think of games that are more bite-sized and are smaller versions of their home console counterparts, but the Nintendo DS has some legitimately huge (and great) games. The dual screen design seemed like a weird gimmick to me at first, but once developers finally figured out how to use it properly, it lead to games like Picross 3D, Kirby's Canvas Curse, and Elite Beat Agents that used the touch screen to its full potential. And thanks to the first versions of the console being backward-compatible, it gave me the opportunity to revisit all the handhelds titles I had missed out on up to that point (which was all of them).
It also became a hotbed for JRPGs and Metroid-style games (one of my favorite types of games): Bowser's Inside Story, Radiant Historia, a port of Chrono Trigger, as well as three CastleVania titles that are all outstanding, just to name a few of each. It was host to a lot of story-based titles as well, like the Professor Layton series, Phoenix Wright, and 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors. It's safe to say that I probably spent more time playing my Nintendo DS than I did my Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii. The DS was my go-to console of the last generation.
2. PlayStation 2 (PS2)
There's a reason the PS2 is the best selling console of all-time, and it's because the system is full of amazing games at every turn...the ability to play DVDs was also a pretty big deal, I guess. The PS2 gave developers the power they needed to create groundbreaking titles like Grand Theft Auto III (and Vice City and San Andreas), a superior port of Resident Evil 4, and Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3.
It also brought titles like Devil May Cry and God of War, which set a new standard for action games, like it or not. It's really easy to forget just how many other great series began on the PS2: Splinter Cell, Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, Sly Cooper. Then you have games that just go beyond words like Shadow of the Colossus and Okami. The survival horror genre ran rampant, but games like Silent Hill 2 and 3 and the Fatal Frame series set the bar high for all future horror games.
I don't play many sports games, but the PS2 allowed EA and other companies to bring sports games to a new level of realism. Without the PS2, games wouldn't be where they are now, as I believe it was the first console to show people that games are no longer a niche market and anyone can be a gamer.
1. Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
Yes, it's kind of a generic answer, but it was the first console I ever owned, or even played for that matter. To this day, nothing reminds me of my childhood more than firing up an NES with a classic like Mega Man or DuckTales. Back when there weren't several games being released every week, back when you couldn't go to the internet to get a walkthrough, back when games didn't hold your freaking hand at all times, the NES ruled the world. While the Atari 2600 certainly has its place in history, the Nintendo Entertainment System is the reason videogames exist today. It showed us that you didn't have to go to arcades to have legitimate gaming experiences, and while Super Mario Bros. doesn't seem like anything special by the standards of today, at the time, that game was huge, and it only got better from there.
There is no shortage of classics, all-time greats, and hidden gems on the NES. There's a laundry list of games I could spit out right now that are required playing for any gamer. The controller was simple, yet perfect, the VCR design was a bit odd compared to its Japanese originator, but at the time, videogames weren't on people's minds, so the design made it look much more high-tech. Best part about it? You can still find 30 year old NES systems that work great today, and I have a feeling you won't be able to say that for some systems of the recent generations.
The NES was a landmark piece of hardware, and while some games don't hold up, a lot of them still do. Also, they made a Hollywood movie with legitimate Hollywood actors to promote Super Mario Bros. 3, and that hasn't been done since.
Thanks for reading.
Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter @TheDustinThomas, and if you like my writing you may enjoy my podcast, The Error Machine Podcast.