Posts Tagged ‘Red’

The Joepinion’s Top 10 Games of All Time

NOTE: This is going to be a list that I will continue to come back to and update.  These are MY favorite games.  I have not played every game ever made, nor do I want to.  These are just the best games I’ve ever played.  Feel free to comment and leave me synopsis of your own favorite.

1. Punch Out!! (NES)

punch out!!There, of course, are two versions of Punch Out!! for the NES. One which features Mike Tyson as the baddest boss of all time and one that features Mr. Dream, which was a placeholder for Iron Mike once Nintendo could not (did not want to?) continue billing the infamous fighter on one of its games any further.

The boxers you face are all (almost racist) characatures of different ethnicities. They each have their own style and their own attacks/weaknesses that you will need to learn to win the fight. For this reason, the game is often called more of a puzzle game than a boxing game. I agree that learning the styles and pattens of each boxer is an important key to winning the game, but isn’t that the case for any game? I mean, think about any Bowser fight. Don’t you have to understand his patterns- where he is going to jump, when you can attack, etc., before you can win? It goes the same for any boss in any game, from God of War to Ducktales.

Why is Punch Out!! the best game ever made? It is the most unadulterated, straightforward test of skill there is in video games. Consider that there are no power ups in this game. While other games allow you to enter a boss battle with a mushroom, extended life bars, rocket launchers, or some other type of power that helps you beat the boss, Punch Out!! asks you to beat every boss with nothing going in but your reflexes and trainer that really doesn’t know what he’s talking about half the time. Sure, you can find ways to earn stars that give you a power punch, but this is done by finding hidden weaknesses in each boxer. You need to work to find those during the fight.

Exhibit B in my argument is the fact that this game is centered around boss battle after boss battle. There are no bonus rounds. There are no practice modes. The game simply puts you in front of a new boss and charges you with the task of finding out how to win. You have 3 dodge moves and four punches to choose from. It is 100% pure, beautiful, nerve racking gaming. By the time you get to the next boxer, you have earned absolutely nothing but the mental experience you earned from beating the last boxer. You have absolutely nothing, and you have everything you need to win.

For those reasons, defeating Mike Tyson (or Mr. Dream) is the biggest challenge in gaming, and Punch Out!! is the best game ever made.

  1. Portal 2

portal 2When I look at the most loved and successful video games, they usually have a few things going for them. They mostly have characters or at least one character that is iconic or that the player can connect to. They also, in some way advances some aspect of video games. When I was growing up, the big thing people were paying attention to and giving acclaim for was graphics. Games like Star Fox almost made it into the limelight based on cutting edge graphics alone. Somewhere around the time we stopped worrying about bits, the focus changed to story telling.

If someone were to ask me to complete the sentence: “In the future, I hope all games could be more ____,” I would probably either say “cheaper” or “like Portal.” Portal makes you think, it makes you explore, it makes you work out tricky puzzles, and it makes you care. It makes you wonder about the world you are in, it makes you like interesting characters, and it makes you feel like you’ve just been entertained for however long you were playing. It doesn’t do any of this through cut-scenes, and it doesn’t hold your hand through the most difficult parts of the game. It rewards you with a fantastic ending and hidden secrets that reveal more about the story.

The multiplayer, longer play time, and the addition of multi-player inPortal 2 make it better than the original, but the first title would have shown up on my list if it went up to 20 or 30, that’s for sure.

  1. Super Mario World

smwThe Super Nintendo is, in my opinion, the greatest console of all time, and it was launched on the wings (cape?) of Super Mario World. The game took everything that made Super Mario Bros 3 great and turned it up to 11. It introduced us to the next generation of gaming for Nintendo and really set the standard from that point forward for killer apps that would dominate video game console wars to come.

I only wanted to pick one Mario platformer for this list, so I tried to find the best by focusing on what set each game apart from the rest. Super Mario World is full of definitive moments in the franchise, including riding Yoshi for the first time, finding keys and unlocking new pathways out of levels, and a new depth of immersion and story telling that was not possible on the NES. The addition of many other Mario staples, such as the spin jump, Star Road, and Ghost Houses, to name only a few, made Super Mario World one of the last 2D games in the franchise that could really be called fresh and innovative.

Since Super Mario World, Mario has done a lot. He has entered 3D, he has driven go-karts, he has gone missing- but he has never quite matched the greatness that was Super Mario World. Sure, Mario 64 did something similar for the character and for Nintendo- and even for gaming in general, the game did have its glitches, and in my opinion lacks the iconic power-ups that can be found Super Mario World.

For those reasons, Super Mario World simply cannot be topped when talking about the best of the Mario franchise.

  1. Donkey Kong Country Returns

DKCRA Wii game? At number 4? For serious?

Totally for serious. And it might have even beaten out my #3 game if it wasn’t on the Wii, as a matter of fact.  I mean, shaking the controller gets kind of old.

The Doney Kong Country franchise made a lot of waves with its first installment and kind of petered out after that. When I first heard it was returning to its roots with a new game for the Wii, I went banana’s (that will be my only pun, I promise). And to be totally honest, the game had me going ape until the very end (ok, I’m done now, seriously).

I am not going to spend too much time talking about why I liked the game since I already posted a review on the Joepinion about it. Read that review if you’re wondering what makes this game so great.

5. Silent Hill

silent hill

Few games have actually affected me as a human being. I never got PTSD from playing Metal of Honor, and I never checked under my bed for zombies after playing Resident Evil. I mean, really, Resident Evil wasn’t scary. It wasn’t even a thriller. It was cool, but that’s about it. Resident Evil 2, maybe you could call that scary.. Silent Hill, on the other hand, was downright frightening. It gave me nightmares and it introduced me to what kind of terror a video game can deliver.

I mean, come on, the game starts off with you getting killed in a dark alleyway by a bunch of little demon children. Next thing you know, you’re running around a fog-ridden town trying to find you daughter as you bounce between what seems like a twisted version of reality and a world that seems closer to hell than anything else you’ll experience on the Playstation (unless you count Bubsy 3D).

The stuff you see and do in Silent Hill is damn near madness, and in terms of the horror genre in general, it was years before its time. The twisted and freakish look of its villains and the haunting moans of the monsters you are tasked to defend yourself against remind me of more recent and more significant horror movies than the horror movies of its time. Also, the investment you feel with so many of the characters in this game is beyond anything you could probably find in video games of this era, let alone in the horror genre.

This game was built to mess with your mind and really pulled you into its gritty and horrifying world. To this day, it is the ultimate game in survival horror in my opinion.

6. The Legend of Zelda

the legend of zelda

I am in the middle (kind of) of trying to get through Ocarina of Time again. If that game is so great, why the hell can’t I stay interested enough to beat it? Everyone keeps telling me to get past the first 3 dungeons and things will pick up. That’s fine, sure, but it takes hours to do that, and I’m bored NOW.

I never felt that way in the original Legend of Zelda or in a Link to the Past. Both games could have gone here, but I only wanted to pick one, and the most groundbreaking and eye-opening for me was the original. I mean, being able to explore all those dungeons and find all those items- uncovering the unexpected over and over again- it felt so much more special the first time around.

I discovered The Legend of Zelda before the internet was around and before I could go out and buy a strategy guide. Most everything I found in that game was either by accident or by someone showing me or telling me about it. Those were different times, and it made everything feel much more rewarding and individual- like you were on your own adventure outside of the game to try to figure out where to get the next great hidden item.

Other games have tried to live up to the greatness of the original, and some have gotten close, but sometimes you just can’t beat a classic.  It did more with 8 bits than most games did with 32 or 64.

7. Red Dead Redemption

reddeadredemptionRockstar was going to get on my list one way or another, and while most people might have included a GTA game on their top 10 before a Red Dead game, I was honestly most torn between including Red Dead Redemption of Red Dead Revolver in this slot. I remember Revolver taking over my life when I first got a copy. I unlocked everything that game had for me and I loved every minute of it (except maybe for that final quick draw battle. That sucked.).

Red Dead Redemption is definitely on the Mount Rushmore of games from the 360/PS3 era. It was beautiful, engrossing, and full of surprises. Its story was compelling and the characters that populated the landscape were fun to talk to and help out when you could. You could pick flowers or hunt animals or search for hidden treasure. It was the best old west game I have ever played.

Online was even fun, and that’s hard to pull off. I hate multiplayer in these kinds of games, but some of my best memories of this game were online. Like when my friend Max and I found these people in a stage-coach. We rode up, killed their horses and rode off, leaving them alone in the middle of nowhere to rot. Good times. Oh, and the Undead Nightmare DLC was spot-on. Bigfoot could have been my favorite character of that console generation.

By far, this was the most interesting and wonderful world Rockstar has created for us to explore, and that is why it is on my list.

8. Super Metroid

super-metroidThis is an interesting title to land on my list because even through it came out when I was 9, I just played it for the first time. I am going to write a full review for the game, so check back for that soon.

When you stack up Super Metroid to the other games on the Super Nintendo you can’t help be notice all the things that it did so well. Because of the cinematic score, the beautifully designed open-yet-claustrophobic setting, and the great boss battles spread out between power-ups and mini-bosses, the game gives you just enough to let you want to know more.

If you’ve played the original Metroid on the NES, it only makes you appreciate this game more. Just like the upgrades that make the series great, the Super Metroid game is a beautiful upgrade from the original. It improves the already great music, and every area feels even more varied than in the original, which are both great accomplishments.

9. Driver: San Francisco

driver sf

I like to reward people for being different, but when I first saw trailers for Driver: San Francisco, I wondered how the hell they were going to make it work. I mean, hopping from car to car and taking over the bodies of the people driving so you can control different vehicles in the middle of a mission seemed more like a sci-fi game than a driving game. It takes a lot to make me call a driving game brilliant, but this gamble paid off, because here is Driver on my list.

I would have never thought one of the most compelling stories on my top ten list would be in a driving game. Playing as Tanner, a cop in San Francisco, you start to discover you have super-natural abilities, described above. You use these abilities to try to stop a big time criminal from releasing a horrible fate upon the city. If I told you any more about the story it would ruin the game, so I’ll stop here.

I will say that the side missions, the characters, the “Last time on Driver: San Francisco” TV recap of your game so far when you turn it on, and the many Easter eggs to be found make Driver a game worth coming back to time and time again.

10. Tony Hawk’s Underground

thug

Before the first Tony Hawk game, these kinds of sports games didn’t exist. Then suddenly, after Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater hit shelves, we started getting snowboarding games, BMX games, rollerblading games. I mean, what Tony Hawk did for real life extreme sports he did for the extreme sports genre in gaming. It’s pretty incredible. Now, I know that the last few games that bore his name have been really horrible and literally unplayable, but for a while his games were only getting better and better. At the apex of the Tony Hawk franchise was my number ten game, Tony Hawk’s Underground.

What really set this game apart from others in the franchise was its editor modes. You could make your own park and then make your own goals in the park you’ve made. You could also make your own goals in the levels that were provided on the disk. This made Underground probably the game I have played the most on the list.  The story wasn’t all that bad either, and was probably the best and least annoying of all the attempts made by Neversoft to make a story mode work in a game like this.

Other notable features of the game included being able to get off of your board and climb around the levels. It included some great classic levels as well, including The School II, which is my all time favorite.

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Thoughts on Labels

Triceratops!

When I was in middle school and the Power Rangers came out, I was faced with a moral dilemma. My favorite color was red, but the blue Power Ranger had a triceratops robot, and the triceratops has always been my favorite dinosaur. Also, the red Power Ranger was the leader, and I just always had a thing against flavoring the lead and most popular. I weighed my options and opted to have my favorite Power Ranger be Billy.

On the playground, people chose their favorite Power Ranger by their favorite color. It was the obvious, superficial choice, and I decided to go with the flow. It wasn’t a big deal to make the switch, but it is worth noting that to this day, my favorite color is blue.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, according to an article written by 3 fancy pants psychologists in 1990, Hogg, Turner, and Davidson, (and many other articles) this is an example of a pattern seen throughout time in which people conform to a group which is becoming most popular or is most popular. People like to be in with the in crowd, and often times to be part of that crowd they will alter their own perceptions or opinions to match that group.

Obey.

Obviously, people want to fit in. Even if you’re a punk rock, fuck the world, anti-conformist, you’ve conformed. Do you think every punk rock anti-conformist was born a punk rock anti-conformist? No way they were. What happened was they have a few things in common with the punk rock crowd, they got together with them, listened to some cool music, dissected the lyrics, and rewrote their own philosophies accordingly.

And I’m not here to call one group of people hypocrites. At least, not without calling everyone a bunch of hypocrites, too. Look in the mirror and ask yourself what makes you “you” and where that stuff came from. Many of us are familiar with the onion theory in which we are all like onions, with layers and layers of what makes us unique. But what about you haven’t you learned from someone else, someone with their own biases? Even your most intimate and unique qualities are just mutations of ideas and gestures picked up from friends, the media, or parents.

And as you peel these socially acquired layers away and move closer to the middle, you expect to find something uniquely yours, but all you find is one last layer that came from when you were a baby and your mom and dad taught you to talk the way they talk, and think the way they think. And after that, there is nothing. You are the onion, but you did not make the onion. You are a composite of ideas and values that have been taught you through family and friends and the media. Every “unique” idea you have can be traced back to something someone else told you.

So in a way, we’re all living by conventions that were given to us by other people, which makes us conformist in at least a small way. In a large way, we just conform. You conform to fit in at work, to fit in with friends, and we conform to fit in with ideals that surround us everyday. For example, anyone out there buying loads and load of “green” crap? Recycling? Anyone bringing their own bags to the super market? If you do anything to follow the green movement, have you done any research beyond Recycle Rex?

I’m not knocking you if you recycle. There is a lot of info out there that makes recycling make sense. There’s also a lot that does the contrary, so I don’t take part in the “green” movement. So, here’s what the conversation is like when I tell people I don’t recycle:

“Dude, why don’t you recycle!? That’s stupid.”

“Because studies have shown that you waste more energy than you save when you factor in running the factories, transportation, and all that, than you would spend if you just made a new bottle.”

“…whatever.”

Which leads me to believe that most people just recycle because all their lives they’ve been told it’s good for the planet. People need to start thinking for themselves. This statement, that we need to think for ourselves, is making a mountain look like a mole hill, I know. Basically, it’s like telling everyone we need to stop killing each other. This whole problem of people not thinking for themselves is so old that we see throughout the history of civilization. We see entire countries being taken over by one philosophy like in Nazi Germany or Caesar’s Rome. We see laws in countries that embrace democracy which encourage fair voting and public participation in government matters (responsibly, they hope) to try to boost the public interest in government affairs. Free thinking is the pillar that holds up democracy, and its absence has been the downfall of many a society.

Labels in American Government

Looking into American history, we find a quote from George Washington, warning against his country forming two rival factions. He expressed a great concern that two dominant parties would be intrinsically vengeful against one another and unable to work together, while citizens flock into each party looking for security and affirmation. This, he warned, could lead to the destruction of liberty in our country and promote a prevailing party member as a dictator.

After Washington’s second term, he died, and what was made of this country was just what he warned of. Today, we have Republicans and Democrats. You are one or the other. We get little books sent to us with just enough info to form an opinion, and off to vote we go. When voting it’s all spelled out for us: This guy is a republican and this guy is a democrat, in case you still didn’t know who to vote for. And when these people get put into office, we see little progress, and they still get paid.

It’s a joke.

People seem to think that they have to be one or the other. When I confess I am neither, most people don’t buy it and listen to my point of view so they can pigeonhole me.

“Well, if you’re pro-choice, you’re a democrat.”

“Well, if you don’t agree with the teacher’s unions and don’t want to invest more in public education, you’re a republican.”

No, I’m not. I’m a freethinking individual, the kind of person who started the Revolutionary War and made a country where freethinking people would be able to think for themselves and be rewarded for it with a powerful nation represented by those who agree with the majority and speak on their behalf. I know it’s easy to say I’m with them and just adopt and adapt until you fit the mold. It’s easy to not have to think for yourself and just vote for all the D’s or all the R’s on election day. I know this. But I’m not looking for an easy way out, and you shouldn’t be either.

Look around you. Turn on the news. There’s enough crap hitting the fan to make you want to duck, I know it. The national debt that is out of control with a president and a group of representatives that cannot come together to find a way out. We have elected officials making corrupt and immoral choices in our names daily. In California we’re dealing with a government that hasn’t been on time for a budget for as long as I can remember. I know there’s a lot going on and it’s hard to follow, but the more we conform to these labels of D and R, the easier it is going to be for these “representatives” to take advantage of us, steal our money, and not have to answer for it.

What is your triceratops?

What would make you change your principals, your philosophies, or in any other way alter your point of view? A favorite color is one thing, but you opinion on abortion, the death penalty, the budget, the environment, or anything else going on in the world around you shouldn’t have to be thrown aside because it doesn’t fit an existing mold.

Sure, all of us are who we are because of a little bit of conformity, but there is a line where human nature ends and horrors begin. The two party system has divided our country; our governments, both state and federal, seem to never be able to get anything done. There are no more Great Compromises being made, as party lines have grown so defined and so infected with hate that progress is being slowed to a crawl. And to make things worse, these labels have infected the system so deeply that no one, no matter how liberal a republican or how conservative a democrat, can vote the way they want to vote nor say what they want to say.

The idea of this article is not to make a point about the government as much as it is to make a point about your ability to think freely. When we bend to fit labels, we stop being individuals and start being part of a greater problem that I feel is ruining life all around us. I’m not a democrat, I’m not a republican, I’m not an environmentalist. I’m an individual with a lot of opinions that I would be happy to share with you. And if you’re not too tied to your labels and can speak freely, then maybe we can both learn something. But if you’re tied to some group with their own agenda, save it, because chances are you don’t know what their real agenda even is.

Weezer (2009)

Very seldom does a band reach a state of acclaim that no matter what they do or have done, it is hailed as genius.  The Beetles have done it, Prince has done it with some people, Green Day almost did it, and now, Weezer has done it.  I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but it’s the only way to explain how a band can go from this:
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to this:

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and still be well recieved by critics and fans.
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I mean, just look at the difference in lyricism.  From the Blue Album to the Red Album, it’s as if Rivers Cuomo decided to stop caring.  I put this on Rivers because the Space Twins were great and The Rentals were great, so what’s left?  Well, mostly Rivers.
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The most redundant song.
That I’ve ever hoourd (heard)
Was Troublemaker
It really sucks’r.
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See, I can rhyme just like Rivers! In Troublemaker, Rivers rhymes “football” and “ball”, and “be-ach” and “kyiads.” and I don’t know who Bob is.
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Lazy.
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Also, the themes the band used to tackle are gone.  The band used to be so geeky they were cool.  Now they’re trying to be so cool, they’re lame.  It all seems so forced.  This rapping thing, this whole rebellion thing, it’s not the Weezer from the Blue and Green albums that I used to sing along with.
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And to everyone who likes them, that’s fine, but admit it’s not as good.  I mean, I don’t like getting punched in my stomach, but even people who do couldn’t honestly say they’d rather get punched in the stomach than drive a Ferrari.
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I know, nothing good can last, but at least admit that there is no comparison what-so-ever to any of the other great stuff Weezer did.  I had a friend who said Make Believe made her want to cry.  Maybe that’s why they named the album that.  Maybe we were all supposed to make believe they have talent.
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Sorry guys, I don’t have the time to pretend you’re still competent.
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I’m going to listen to Radattiude.  No idea why, I guess to see if they’ve come around.  The new single is a little better than stuff since the Green album, so I’m going to keep an open mind.  I’ll have my review up soon.
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Until then, Weezer.  You get a D+.  The D is for trying and the plus is simply because you at least show some potential to return to what you once were.