I’ve Kinda-Sorta Become an Official Video Game Reviewer (And Another Update)

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Longer than anime, longer than football, the longest-tenured pastime activity in my life has always been video games. I started playing before I could even fathom a thought as to what video games even were. A time when I saw a screen with bright lights, a character sitting idly, and a controller in my hand, when fondled with, made the character onscreen move. It started with Donkey Kong Country, and has no end in sight. Despite the hiatuses and breaks I’ve taken to pursue other interests, video games are something I will always love and eventually come back to no matter what.

Completely on a whim, settled within a mindset of “What am I doing with my life anymore,” I decided to Google “video game site jobs.” Lo and behold, the Gods of fate smiled upon me; a listing of available jobs became available in an “Indeed.com” style of structure. Sifting through the debris with a heightened sense of urgency, I came across an opportunity that seemed almost too good to be true. An up-and-coming gaming journalism website that pays and provides various new-release games free of charge? I applied immediately (after checking out the site). Better yet, I used this blog as part of my resume. And it ended up being in my benefit! This rotten blog, which for years has brought me nothing but intrinsic self-indulgence and the camaraderie of the ani-community, actually ended up being useful in future endeavors.

I applied and I was accepted, though I started on a trial period, so I delayed the announcement until now, when everything became prime and proper. I am officially a video game reviewer for KeenGamer. I’ve had two reviews published as of today, should one be interested in how I’ve fared.

With this now established, there are a few things I’d like to provide via update. The first being that on Twitter, I will now be addressing myself by my real, full name. I contemplated giving myself a real picture, as well, but I couldn’t say goodbye to the bunny persona I had created for myself, so that will stay. Plus, it’d be rather drastic for my (INCREDIBLY LARGE AMOUNT OF) followers to suddenly see a bunny called “Kopo” turn into a real boy named “Dakota Gordon.” The entire basis behind this change is a manner of consistency, seeing as I will now be very vocal about my new job via Twitter, and any potential followers could make the connection that the “Dakota Gordon” on Keengamer is the same “Dakota Gordon” on Twitter.

The second is that this blog will likely not be as active (or lengthy in its content) as it once was. I’ve already been debating as to whether or not I should scrap my second blog, seeing as I hardly write there anymore even without this new development. Anime output will still continue, as well as various pieces from other visual media, but it won’t be as, how should I say, weighty? Or even as consistent. My focus now is on what’s more beneficial, and this reviewing job is nothing short of my dream job—I AM LIVING MY DREAM—and it takes priority. I also said this before with going back to school and all, but now it’s held twice over. I am more busy with life now than I have ever been.

Let this not be a farewell, but a greeting to a new beginning. Old things come and go, steadied by a consistent desire to hold it afloat, and I assure any follower that despite the workload, this blog will continually be updated until I say it’s done with. I thank everyone who has read any one of my hundred pages of musings on whatever topic, and have continued to support me in my years on WordPress. I’m unsure if I could’ve gotten this far, or taken this many opportunities without the aid of those who continue to interact with me here, on Twitter, or elsewhere. The times are a changin’, and I’m not sure I’ve ever been happier with it.

An Ode to Vinesauce

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For those unaware: no, that is not the 1-Up Mushroom.

This is the Vinesauce mushroom, the icon for a team of video game streamers since somewhere back in 2012. Founded by a lone jabroni by the name of Vinny, it eventually took off with the rise of Twitch as a collective online pastime. Of course, Vinesauce isn’t just a team of video game streamers. The group is most notable for their variety of game-breaking shenanigans, corruptions, and highlighting of fan-made games which, inadvertent or not, capitalized on the meme-y nature of online interactions. Vinesauce, as a whole, is more of a collection of normal people trying to make ends meet, surrounded by fans wanting to see shit hit the ceiling.

While some members have come and gone, the current team consists of its founder, Vinny; Joel, Mentaljen, Rev, KY, Limes, Imakuni, Direboar, Potato (or Darren), Hootey, and Fred. Some are more popular with viewers than others (some garner three to six-thousand viewers a night while most others barely top a thousand), but all play a part in making the Vinesauce community what it is—a friendly, albeit obnoxiously chaotic collection of dedicated fans. This becomes more prominent once a year, during the annual Vinesauce Charity Stream.

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Depending on the individual streamer, the selection of games vary dramatically, as every streamer is interested in different things and have their own schedules to adhere to. Vinny, Fred, Direboar, and Limes tend to stream most days in the week, while the rest are prone to sporadic absences. Aside from Vinny, who tries to keep a balance of serious and non-serious games, the rest of the aforementioned named are pretty apt to sticking with one game, usually serious, from beginning to end. Debatably, this type of streaming is likely why they aren’t as prominently known, but their dedication to their schedules and their personalities are the tools which help them succeed. Those who have yet to be mentioned in this paragraph are those who stream only semi-often (or rarely), with Joel being the one singled out for his tendency to create new memes with every stream (some of which are featured on channels such as SiIvaGunner).

Description overload out of the way, my personal experience with Vinesauce dates back to early 2014(?) when my brother introduced me to a certain video. Marathoning a number of related videos later, I was officially “onboard” the Vinesauce hype train. At that time, I was only aware of Vinny and Joel, completely unaware of the collection of other streamers which stream under the Vinesauce name. When I finally found out that it was more than just two people, and that they had their own functioning website dedicated to them, I was quick to peruse the merchandise.

I have experience with every single streamer on the site, but to absurdly different degrees. Vinny is far and away the streamer I watch most often, even now when my schedule is much tighter than before, while I’ve only spent a single stream with MentalJen, Rev, and KY; none of those lasted more than ten minutes or so. This isn’t to say I don’t like the streamers themselves, but their selection of games and infrequent streaming isn’t of huge interest to invest my time into. Some streamers can carry through an uninteresting game through character alone (Joel, Hootey, Imakuni), although the perfect blend of interesting games and enthusiasm is what makes for an effective and immersive streaming experience. Vinny is normally very good at this, as well as Joel and Limes. Frequency is the issue at hand for every streamer, too, as like any aspect of life, people can have off days.

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Vinesauce is also to thank for a variety of different purchases—and to some extent, revival of interest—of video games in my lifetime. I first learned of Axiom Verge during a Vinny stream. I bought Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 on a whim after seeing Joel fuck it up on-stream. Similarly with Fred and Megaman & Bass (except he was just losing a lot). These are but a few examples after years of watching the Vinesauce team. Who would have thought that all one needed to regain their interest in video games was to see one having fun with video games? And the creativity (and memeness) that goes into a variety of fan-made projects is so tempting to do for myself (except I have no motivation or time). It would make sense that my favorite streams of all time were both from Vinny, playing Sonic Dreams Collection and the Super Mario Bros. X Contest.

Yet the memeness of the team isn’t necessarily the only enjoyable aspect. The manner at which streamers continue through a game one at a time can be gratifying in and of itself, to be able to experience the journey with them. I recall being bored one night sometime in 2015, when I saw Darren streaming Dragon Quest VIII(?). I popped in there and spent the next few hours talking with members of the chat, with the occasional comment to Darren, and watching as he ground for experience and struggled with some casino game. To this day, it was one of the most enjoyable streams I’ve ever been a part of, simply because the chat was quiet (which is a rare feat, let me tell you!), the content was interesting, Darren was charming, and I felt I was part of the collective experience. That sort of ultimate immersiveness is what I live for when watching someone stream. It’s always fun to watch someone react wildly to crazy things onscreen, but it’s the little things, like a streamer acknowledging your question/comment, the passive lethargy of video game intake, and being able to be a part of the streaming process without being lost in the sea of “LOL’s” after a funny incident that lead to truly memorable pastimes. I really enjoyed Vinny’s recent playthrough of Final Fantasy VII and Darren’s playthrough of Final Fantasy IX because of this.

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Due to my former job requiring me to turn in early, I didn’t end up watching many streams during the latter part of 2016 and early parts of 2017. For a time, I thought my interest in watching the members stream live had passed, that was until just a couple weeks ago, when Vinny and Imakuni joined forces to play Sonic 3 & Knuckles, which was such a wonderful stream that I’m kicking myself for not being able to watch the entire thing. Their chemistry was fantastic, and Imakuni’s knowledge of the franchise compared to Vinny’s complete ignorance was such a treat to watch play out as the stages continued. Once again, my interest in the Vinesauce brand was reignited with the aid of a single stream; how mystifying that it can happen that way. As a side note, I would absolutely recommend one watch the highlight video of their collaboration.

I don’t watch many people stream, at least not anymore, but Vinesauce has been a constant in the last three to four years of my life. Should I be privileged with riches beyond my imagination, I would gladly support every member without a second thought. The team has brought such a wide array of fond memories that I feel almost indebted to them, yet I do not have the means to compensate them. All I can do is continue to watch, share, and write giant “Ode” posts such as this one, singing praise and sharing personal stories. Vinesauce means a lot to me, not just because it pertains to a major interest of mine, but because the people who inhabit it seem like good people capable of good things. For that alone, I would recommend it to any fan of video games in general.

Top 10 Most Nostalgic Newgrounds Animations

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Who needs Youtube when you have Newgrounds?

Introduced to the animation-based site back in the mid 2000’s by my cousin showing me the infamous Numa Numa Dance (not on this list), it provided years of humorous comfort for my pre-teen-esque brain to indulge in whatever video game parody animation I wanted. A lot of time and a lot of videos I saw back in those days, by creators who have long left the Newgrounds life for the boring reality, encouraged me to pursue my own horridly embarrassing OC series. They are all gone now, so don’t look for them.

This list is dedicated to the particular videos on the site that exuded the most memorable and endearing qualities that I, as a child, found captivating. Said videos don’t necessarily have to be Newgrounds-exclusive to make the list, only that I first watched them on the site. And with all lists I plan to incorporate nostalgia with, only a specific timeframe is allowed; in this case, anywhere from before I was first shown the site, roughly around 2006, to 2010.

A quick clarification: this list is not dedicated to quality. Only the impact of nostalgia.

#10: Sonic: Uncut 2 – HyperactiveYouth (2004)

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If you asked yourself why I felt the need to put that little disclaimer up there, this is the reason.

Sonic: Uncut 2 is the second “episode” of a three-episode series that takes the Sonic series of characters and puts them in real life situations (kind of). Put frankly, the animation is incredibly stiff, the voice acting is questionable, the comedic timing is atrocious, and the humor overall is somewhat juvenile. What lands it on this list is the fact that it is Sonic in a way I never would’ve imagined him at the age of 13. And for that almost alone, I adored it.

To give it credit, there are a few memorable lines and situations, most notably with the entire chaotic process of going on vacation to (a very stereotypical) Mexico. I find myself quoting Pablo’s “Sometimes I dream of free-dom!” line from time to time. It’s possible that the entire series was enough to get me to remember many of the moments from this particular episode, it being my favorite of the three, that it found itself in my brain only because it out-muscled the others. Whatever the case, it didn’t stop me from watching it a million times, so I have to live with knowing it essentially like the back of my hand.

#9: Rokémon! – DragoonFenix15 (2004)

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Pokémon combined with Mega Man? Nice.

A little bit of animated flare, a little bit of crossover madness, and a lot of creativity in what should probably not be sanctioned in a traditional Pokémon battle, Rokémon! is a one-off animation (though a sequel was supposedly planned) showcasing the fun of pure turn-based battling with no limits. Some harmless fan service never hurt anyone.

I remember this animation specifically motivating my desire to create my own Pokémon (Again, gone. Don’t look for it), rather than take copyrighted characters/enemies and give them evolutions and such. It would have been nice to see this turn into a full-fledged series, as while I wouldn’t trust their narrative chops, they’re more than capable of making individual attacks look, in internet slang speak, “epic af.” I don’t have nearly as much experience with this as the one listed above, but rewatching it brought a wave of unexpected nostalgia that made me warm and fuzzy.

#8: Dumbass Luigi – Bigfoot3290 (2006)

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The first creator on this list that had another project that very well could’ve made this list. Bigfoot3290 was also responsible for Mario’s Castle Calamity, which was also something I enjoyed during my younger days. What took the cake was an earlier work: Dumbass Luigi, and how it’s basically three-hundred times better than the original work, Dumbass Mario.

While not necessarily all that funny, the one thing Dumbass Luigi has going for it is tone and memorability. Remember Weird Al’s Alternative Polka? I first heard it here. Another scene showcases a lone boo following Luigi around, only to have Luigi lift up a container of salsa to his mouth like a crane. He stops midway, as an automated voice tells the boo the “insert one coin to continue.” The boo then shits out the coin. This process repeats until the boo spins around Luigi and shits out a barrage of coins at him like a machine gun. How the fuck do you think of things like that?

This was an easy choice for this list, though I’m somewhat surprised by how low it is. I remember it being bigger and better than what it really is, but alas, it’s only enjoyable on merit of originality. It’s not nearly as funny as it once was.

#7: Sonic Riders in 3 Minutes – RogerregoRRoger (2006)

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Oh, another Sonic video? Gee, it’s almost like I loved Sonic as a kid or something. Huh.

Let not the scary-bad design strike fear unto thine heart. It’s an intentional quirk to a series that just wants to go fast—much like the series it parodies. Complete with sped-up, chipmunk-like voices and hyper-fast vocal quips, it’s almost like Teekyuu! before Teekyuu!. I thought the video was hilarious as a child, and it still holds up quite a bit today! Well, except the fart joke.

The creator of this video is one of the rare Newgrounds artists to still be going with a signature series. One is more likely to find him on Youtube than Newgrounds, but his “[Sonic title] in [number quantity] minutes” series is still ongoing to this day—a series he started over ten years ago on a humble animation site.

#6: 4 Swords Misadventures (Eps. 1-3) – HadoukenDude (2004-2006)

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This one’s actually more popular outside of Newgrounds, but the site is its home, and that’s where it gained its following. The reason for specifying the episodes on this list is that the series is still ongoing, and I remember the first three episodes the most fondly.

Much like Sonic: Uncut 2 (though not as significantly), 4 Swords Misadventures is, at times, not very good. The first episode specifically is a giant bore, and sequences in both the second and third episode are largely so, as well. What makes this series charming is the level of ambition HadoukenDude has taken to make his parody series more than just another one-off project. Fully voiced, a somewhat original plotline, and over a decade of dedication to the project, 4 Swords Misadventures is almost like The Simpsons of Newgrounds classics.

What makes the series so memorable to me is, without repeating myself, seeing a different interpretation of an established classic. Each Link has a different personality dependent on their color, and their dialogue with others and each other have a charm that makes up for the sacrifice of consistent entertainment. It has that “homegrown” appeal, almost like being proud of something simply because you did it and you had fun with it. Such can be said for many of the videos on this list, but 4 Swords exemplifies this perhaps the most of any of them.

#5: Almost Anything by Egoraptor (2006-2010)

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Have you ever heard of Game Grumps? Y’know, that insanely popular Let’s Play group on Youtube? One of the creators of that is a man named Arin Hanson, also known as Egoraptor. You may not know this, but before playing video games for a living, he used to be an animator.

And he was fucking great at it.

Should I pick any particular video of his, it’d probably be closer to sniffing #1, but I decided to sacrifice a high spot on this list to expand his library for the world to see. It still ended up #5, anyway. It all started with Metal Gear Awesome 2, which is, to this day, still one of my favorite videos on Newgrounds. But it didn’t end there. Awesome Center Redux, Awesome Cracks Down, Awesome Crossing, Awesome Reach, and 3rd Grade Transformers are all great pieces of animation. He really had a knack for it. It’s only unfortunate he doesn’t have the ambition to continue doing so.

Should I not have any integrity, many places on this list would have an Egoraptor animation. For the sake of variety, however, his works are all jumbled together in one spot. Don’t let that be an indication that none of his works are good separately, but that all of his works are so good that I can’t leave them all off. Egoraptor himself basically holds this spot.

#4: $00pah NiN10Doh! – Kirbopher (2009)

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(WARNING: Link is NSFW.)

Another quick clarification: The author is Kirbopher, but the video is a collaboration between many different creators and artists. Listing them all would make the number line awfully long.

As with many collaborations, there are highs and lows, but with this particular collab, the highs are tremendously high. You ask me to point you in the direction of one of the most quotable animations on the internet and I’ll show you this video. There is a lot, a lot, of passion for the “art” of animating and the world of Nintendo present. Many franchises are represented, as well: Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Wario, Kirby, Earthbound, Excitebike, Pokémon, Game & Watch, and more. Originally presented, at least to some extent, in celebration of the latest Super Smash Bros., the collab took on a life of its own that spanned a number of sequels; this being the first sequel.

There’s simply too much here for me to describe in full, as many of the skits are between five and thirty-seconds long. Notable favorites include the Star Fox sequences, the Warioware skit, the Kirby vs. Meta Knight skits, and the Tetris scene. Nostalgia included, it’s an entertaining, if not stimulating, watch.

#3: ‘Zelda: Don Keyote’ Series – TX2 (2005-2006)

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Not technically an animation, not technically any good. Don Keyote nevertheless tells you all to fuck off and let it live.

Forget what I said about 4 Swords Misadventuresthis is the most “homegrown” video (series) on this list. It’s literally just a guy with a capture card recording gameplay and voicing over it, making up a story as he goes. But by the good grace of God, he’s actually funny. Such memorable lines as “A disturbing need to roll around in the dirt,” “Ma’am, are you aware that crime is a criminal offense in this area,” and “Taaaaax exemptioooooons!” are some of many quotable lines in this Kung Pow-esque parody series. It was also one of the very first parody series I had ever seen on the site, too, so that helps.

Don Keyote stands as one of those very rare cases where one really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The quality is garbage, the technical aspect is laughable, it’s one guy voicing every character, and the entire project feels inherently embarrassing. Dialogue and an infinitely oozing amount of charm is what makes this series so dear to me, despite its off-putting ineptitude. Even now, this is what I think of when someone mentions Don Quixote. Every time.

#2: There She Is!! Step 2 – SamBakZa (2005)

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Hello, inner weeb of my former self that refused to acknowledge your existence. This gave you all sorts of urges, didn’t it?

While the classification of this video and its parent series as anime is debatable, what one can’t deny is that this series is cute, cuddly, and harmless. Until Step 3, but that’s for another time. I remember watching this again after several years around Christmas of 2015, and the flood of nostalgia hit me at full force. My heart shivered, my skin crawled, my eyes blinking incessantly. My own body was reacting in defense to my emotional splurging! Needless to say, it was a feeling I wasn’t accustomed to; that feeling in and of itself, in response to this short, makes it special to me.

The opening statement is directed towards the style of animation, one that I found myself charmed by, and still do. While it may or may not be anime depending on who you ask, it was absolutely inspired by anime, seeing as the creator is based in South Korea. I was a little too drawn to the, as I felt at the time, feminine design that I only enjoyed it at a base level. What I didn’t deny, however, was the song that accompanied the video, which I adored then and adore now. A little tame, but it matches the mood of the animation wonderfully and holds up even without it. The combination of good music, decent animation that appealed to my inner interests, and cutesy romance that has become a guilty pleasure of mine, There She Is!! Step 2 becomes a treat with every viewing.

There She Is!! was only hampered by having a slightly worse song. It’s nearly as good. Watch that, too. Watch the whole series.

#1: The Ultimate Showdown – altffour (2005)

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Aside from porn, this is the most viewed video in Newgrounds history. For good reason.

This is Newgrounds. This is everything that Newgrounds hopes to achieve with its site, its creators, and the fun of the internet. Everything about this video is absolutely perfect in that context. Almost like the “Crazy Frog Dance video” on Youtube, this is the kind of perfect creative absurdity that a normal ol’ bloke from wherever, who cares could achieve with a little thing called “passion.”

The Numa Numa Dance was the first video I saw on Newgrounds. The Ultimate Showdown was the second.

It is also my favorite video on the entire site.

Honorable Mentions: ‘Final Fantasy Day Care’ SeriesDad’s HomeShao Kahn Party.

An Ode to Chester Bennington

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On July 20th, 2017, lead singer Chester Bennington of Linkin Park was found in a private location with a noose around his neck. The news hit the internet immediately, and it didn’t take long before Twitter was abuzz. I recall browsing the world wide web when my sister ran down, phone in hand, simply saying, “Y’see this? This is not okay.” Chester Bennington; Born: March 20th, 1976. Died: July 20th, 2017. It took me a moment to register what I was seeing, then took another moment to remember that Google isn’t Wikipedia, where anyone can edit it. After hearing my brother utter a “Holy shit,” it finally hit me that the voice that had been embedded into my soul since childhood was gone.

I won’t pretend like I knew Bennington personally, or knew him outside of his music. I didn’t follow him through interviews, on social media, or make any effort to humanize the voice that sang the songs that gave me constant entertainment. He was simply Chester Bennington, lead vocalist of Linkin Park and abundant internet meme. Still, knowing how large a part Linkin Park was to me as a child, I couldn’t help but be saddened not just for him and his family, but for myself and my family and anyone else who was impacted by their music. It also inspired me to write this post, though this is the least I could do.

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Linkin Park was the first band I ever really “got into.” The first band whose albums I would blast on repeat and want to know more about outside of individual singles. I recall as a kid only being interested in what played on the radio, never making any effort to explore more of an individual person or group’s work, but Linkin Park was a different scenario. The moment Minutes to Midnight released, I was begging my mother for it. I hadn’t asked my mother for anything but video games up to that point… possibly ever. Well, candy perhaps, but that’s a short-term luxury. While a so-called musical renaissance for me didn’t really flourish until my addiction to Guitar Hero years later, Linkin Park remains a testament to my first musical crush of sorts.

The love wouldn’t last, as upon hearing the first single from A Thousand SunsThe Catalyst, I found myself coming down to Earth. What was this? It’s so… electronic.So artificial. Where was the “rock”? Where was the traditional instrumentation? The band was heading in a direction I wasn’t fond of, and after getting the album and listening to its entirety, I was disappointed. Linkin Park was no longer the band I loved. It changed. I didn’t. I didn’t want to accept change and I didn’t for years. I’ve made peace with it since then, and while I’m not huge on that particular album, there are a few songs (sure enough, that don’t feature a lot of electronica) that not only sound good, but take advantage of Bennington’s voice. Still, it set the precedent for my eventual indifference to Linkin Park’s newer music. I’ve only heard one track from The Hunting Party.

In hindsight, accepting Linkin Park’s desire to experiment with new sound was something I wasn’t mature enough to handle. Now, I find that desire respectable, even if their output no longer interested me. I’m sure Bennington had a hand in some of that creative direction, though perhaps it caused some dismay seeing as he had a side-band and filled in for Stone Temple Pilots for a couple years.

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I recall the day Bennington hung himself, I read in a Yahoo! article that he dealt with drug/alcohol addiction and was sexually abused as a child. It made me recall Vincent Van Gogh and his perilous life of having to balance his desire to paint and the tragedy of supporting himself through it. It’s almost a sad truth to accept that tragedy and creativity make an emotionally-riveting pair. To know and understand the lyrics that typically accompany Linkin Park tracks, it almost comes as no surprise that Bennington was carrying a lot of emotional baggage. He likely put his soul into his work, and not to speculate, but that may have mounted even more pressure on him to establish himself. It rings eerily familiar of another popular lead vocalist that committed suicide twenty-three-years before, and I’m sure many others.

And so I say to thee, cherish what life you have and make the best of any situation. If you ever have the darkness that clouds your judgment, please go and talk to someone about it. Get help. There is certainly much that life has to offer (even if it doesn’t seem like it) and the experiences that follow. And to any who would be affected by this, know that I feel the same. A great mind and voice was lost, and a part of my childhood died, as well. I’ve been listening to Linkin Park nearly non-stop since it happened.

Rest in peace.

I’ve Been Nominated for the Entertainer Blogger Award

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Many thanks to the not-always-so-lethargic Lethargic Rambles for the nominating me as a suitable entertainer. Chances are, if anyone reading this enjoys the content on this blog, whether it be anime reviews or thoughts on various video games, you’ll also adore LR’s styling of fighting back against the trolls of anime and delivering heartfelt odes to all things Nintendo. In all seriousness, while his posts are somewhat infrequent, most of his posts are ones I would willing recommend to anyone looking for a dependable and knowledgeable source on anime to go to.

The Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Add these rules to your post.
  • Answer all the questions below.
  • Display the award picture in your post.
  • Nominate 12 other bloggers who are funny, inspiring, and most important of all entertaining.

I was somewhat confused by the rule “Answer all the questions below,” as there are no questions actually provided, unless they’re just in the original post and no one bothered to copy/paste them. I’ll just go ahead and answer whatever anyone else answered.

Also, I’m removing the unnecessary u’s to these questions because I’m AMERICAN and we don’t need them got’dam u’s!

Questions:

1. Why did you start a blog in the first place?

My answer isn’t very interesting compared to most others. While many respond with “I wanted to interact with the community” or “I wanted to voice my opinion,” my response boils down to simple boredom. I made my blog, primarily, because I was bored, and I saw a MAL friend had one and thought, “Hey. That looks cool.” Thus, Criticism and Thoughts was born.

What some may not know is that I created this blog back in 2013. I’ve had this place for nearly four years now. I never really took it all that seriously, as I used it as a dumping grounds for thoughts I would already put down in the comment sections for individual anime on MyAnimeList. The first time I even thought of putting pictures into my blog posts was in June of 2015, and I didn’t start advertising my work on Twitter until 2016. That’s why if one were to dig really deep into my blog’s past, they would see a lot of picture-less pages with loads of text and no likes or comments. Experimental times, back in the day…

Now, I see my blog as a sort of catalyst for my dream job, which is to be a critic of visual media. It’s not much, but I adore the feedback I get for each post and, when I eventually find the time/motivation/courage to expand further, I hope to make something out of what was, initially, a hasty and thoughtless nothing.

2. What is your favorite book?

Not much of a book-reader, but I have a huge fondness for Suzanne Collins’s Underland Chronicles. She’s much more famous for her work with The Hunger Games, but I fell in love with her storytelling years before then. Even now, I clamor for some sort of media acknowledgement of her other books by means of film adaptations or otherwise. Gregor the Overlander as a film would be fucking great… if handled correctly.

3. What do you dislike the most?

I’m not sure how anyone could really like the mainstream media. I’m not usually very political online, nor do I make the effort to show my affiliations, but if there’s one thing about the mainstream media I despise is their subtle use of cherry-picking, framing words and sentences, and biased attitude. It’s much more prevalent online than not, but many, many, many news sites are filled to the brim with “holier-than-thou” writers who cannot help themselves and spew their political garbage whether it pertains to the article at hand or not. Furthermore, whatever’s popular is what gets written about, so imagine my absolute glee when I get to see headline after headline, image after image, late-night TV-show host after host, bitching about Donald Trump at every, little, miniscule, cell-sized opportunity, just so they can feel relevant, feel better, or advance their own status. It’s absolutely disgusting, and I get so unbelievably sick of this click-first, think-later mentality.

[Removes tin-foil hat.]

4. What is your favorite food?

Pizza. Any kind, really. Bread with marinara sauce and cheese melted on top. All I need. If I didn’t get fat immediately upon eating it, I’d have it at every meal.

5. What is your favorite past time?

Very likely football (Americano). Anime and video games are also both up there, but there’s something about football that get me so riled up every time I watch it. The players, the positions, the strategy, the organization, the coaches, the drama, the history, the execution, the [insert everything else here]. Football is so multi-faceted that it becomes more and more interesting the further one gets into it. Even the offseason is exhilarating with all the upcoming events like the Scouting Combine and the Draft and Free Agency. It’s kind of a lot to take in, but man, I love football with all of my soul. Wish I was fit enough to play it.

Nominations:

Not going to recommend anyone specifically, but I would like to encourage any reader to check out my Recommended Ani-Bloggers list for people within the aniblogging community who I, personally, find to be the best people to follow. While I’m not tagging anyone for this award, if anyone there would be willing to do so, by all means, have at it. They’re all pretty cool people, too. Definitely have a look-see.

Thanks again to LR for the nominations and thanks for the continued support!

An Ode to Super Mario World

super mario world 1

It’s intriguing to me that it’s taken me this long to look at one of the games that made up my very early childhood. Comprised of this, each Donkey Kong CountryMega Man 7, and Super Ghouls & Ghosts (with various others), my first experience with the world of video games came in the form of the Super Nintendo, with Super Mario World heading the charge.

One of the first questions that comes to mind when looking back at this game is how it’s held up, if the game has become dated with time, seeing as it was released over twenty-five years ago. The most dated thing that can be applied to the game is its presentation, which all things considered, is excusable due to limited hardware. I don’t mean its spritework, by the way, which is fantastic to this day. I’m referring to narrative presentation, the sort of linear perspective of level-to-level, world-to-world process that would be somewhat dull to new age players. Looking at gameplay alone, the game is polished, innovative, and a shining example of Nintendo in their prime.

super mario world 3

Nostalgic gauges pumping their pistons within my inner mind go into a systematic overload whenever the colorful images or catchy tunes of Super Mario World invade my imagination. A wave of happiness overtakes my usual resolve and reminds me of a time when video games were my reason to get up everyday, looking forward to getting further and further into the colorful crusade. It was my first taste of the Italian plumber and his Goomba-stomping adventures through the worlds that embody or surround the Mushroom Kingdom. Better this than Mario Is Missing!, I’d say.

As a kid, I would never get past the third area in the game, the Vanilla Dome, as I would lose the motivation to trudge through the rising difficulty with the game. Something about the levels involving flying Cheep-Cheeps always got to me. I’ve beaten this game before as a small child, I know I have. The brazen image of Bowser flying off and Princess Peach floating gently to the roof below her is a moment I will never forget. Remembering the joy I felt as I screamed to whoever would listen that I finally beat the game. Thinking about it logically, I likely hopped onto my father’s file and just went through the final castle until I could figure out how to beat Bowser. That, or I used the Star World to my advantage and warped all the way to the final world. Nice of the game to let the player exploit it like that.

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Something that wasn’t as noticeable to me as a kid when playing it now is how slippery Mario handles as a character. Controls are tight to some extent, but Mario is human, and he needs time to steady himself. The biggest difference between this and the original Super Mario Bros. is that Mario looks like a normal human being. The butter underneath his signature brown shoes is just as prevalent here as in games prior. While annoying, it’s nice that a player has to take his somewhat wobbly movement into consideration when timing jumps, running, and platforming. The emphasis of making the game a tad more challenging makes the platforming all the more rewarding for elite players, who dedicate themselves to things such as speedrunning. Extra stipulations to various levels also give a nice spin to the variety of possibilities within.

For me, Super Mario World was an excellent platform into the world of Nintendo’s flagship franchise. I would absolutely recommend anyone (roughly six people on Earth) who hasn’t played any Mario games to start with this title, as its the perfect creation of accessibility and challenge that Nintendo used to master effortlessly with their games. It still looks great, it still plays great, and if one can overlook the incredibly limited fashion of linearity, it can provide a lasting impression, one that’s touched millions of people worldwide. Regarded as a timeless classic by many gaming veterans, Super Mario World is one of many games from Nintendo’s heyday that made them the gaming empire they are today.

(All gameplay screenshots courtesy of SaikyoMog.)

Top 10 Most Impactful Games of My Childhood [REDUX]

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A little over three years ago, I made a list of the top ten most impactful games of my childhood. Looking back on it now, some of the game I originally chose are outdated, and upon further consideration aren’t as impactful to me as some others. This re-proposal aims to more accurately cement the games that made my childhood amazing, with an updated touch (because let’s face it, the old list looks bland). To save some time (and avoid reaffirming what’s already been established by the old list), a lot of recurring games will have the same notes attached as before, aside from perhaps some minor edits. That being said, I shall begin with the opening to the first list:

When I came out of my mother’s womb, it wasn’t exactly a clear cut choice for what I would do for the first thirteen years of my life. Growing up in a small trailer for the first five years, and then moving to my current location, I had a whole lot of options. I could have played sports. I could have been an artist. I loved to draw and my imagination served me well all throughout my childhood. I could have wasted my entire life away playing with action figures and toy cars. Despite all of these alternative possibilities, the one thing I did ever since my childhood, all the way up into my life as of now, was play video games.

I started young; very young. At one point, I was told that I picked up my first controller at the age of three. Of course, my mind isn’t strong enough to remember the exact age of my first time playing the Super Nintendo, but old video tapes show evidence that it was before the age of five. Thinking back to it, I remember always watching my father play games such as Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, and Megaman 7; waiting until I got the chance to take on the classics for myself. I recall Donkey Kong Country 3 being the first game I ever played (though my father claims it was the first). I also recall defeating Bowser in Super Mario World, a shining moment from my childhood. All of these memories, all of these games, everything played a part in what made my childhood so enamoring. With that said, I would like to share my memories with the public, with my own personal list of games that made my childhood full of wonder.

A quick disclaimer beforehand, this list is not exactly a display of the greatest games of all-time. Keep in mind that I did not play every video game ever. There are a lot of games that you would expect to be on this list, but aren’t, simply because I either didn’t find them very influential or I just never played them as a child. Here’s a quick run-down of such games:

All Legend of Zelda titles, Super Mario 64, Donkey Kong 64, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Banjo & Kazooie, Resident Evil 4, Super Metroid, F-Zero, etc.

I would also like to clarify a couple of requirements each game had to meet in order to make the list.

  • I had to have played the game before August 20th, 2006 (My 13th birthday).
  • The game had to have had an impact on me as a child, and continues to have an impact on me as an adult.
  • I have to remember playing the game, even though this may directly tie into the second requirement.

#10: Mega Man X: Command Mission

megaman x command mission cover

Mega Man X: Command Mission is one of those spin-off games that seemed to have more impact on me as a child than the original series did. I’m not sure if this is sad and wasted effort or just sad. Regardless, I can’t rewrite my past. I first got my hands on Command Mission around the time it was released at the end of 2004. I got it from Best Buy as somewhat of an impulse buy. Did I regret it? Not a single bit. I loved the RPG style the game presented and it made me consider the possibilities of more RPG-styled Mega Man X games in the future. Did I ever get it? No. Despite the generally low critic consensus of the game (~68% on GameRankings and Metacritic), I thought the game was an absolute goldmine of possibilities. The attack system, the upgrades, the transformations, the character designs; it was a spectacular game for those willing to immerse themselves within it. The only major complaint I have with the game is the voice acting. Good gracious, the voice acting (in English) is absolutely atrocious. Even as a stupid kid, I made fun of their tired voices. But even that made it more memorable for me.

Playing the game again within the last year, the game definitely hasn’t aged all that well. While the gameplay mechanics work and the exploration is a little more than basic, characters and level design are little more than archetypal. Not to mention, chapters, outside of a few cutscenes and surprise attacks, are amusingly short, and vary in overall creativity. The lackluster critic scores are a lot more understandable upon a clear playthrough, though I feel the game has more worth than others rated higher. I’m likely biased.

I never beat this game as a child, only getting to chapter six of ten. Playing this as an adult, I flew through it like butter. Perhaps I didn’t really understand what I was doing as a child, because this game is fairly simple. Why am I bringing this up? Another aspect of the game that I remember: the hiatus. While this has nothing to do with the game within the disc, it involves the existence of the game itself. After failing to get past the sixth chapter, I went on to not play the game… for a long time. When I finally got around to wanting to play it again, after so many months, it was gone. I had suddenly lost it. I wouldn’t find the game again until I was far past the age of thirteen. That’s part of the impact this game had on me as a child: the mystery of not knowing what comes next. I never looked up how to get past any part of the game or what happens after the part I initially stopped at. I never found out what happened… as a child. For a long while, I had to fill in the blanks myself, but I would never really know until years had gone by. As an already great game within my mind, Command Mission also became “the lost game,” if you will. And that was enough to help it make this list.

#9: Star Wars: Episode I Racer

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This game is an interesting choice, since I’m fairly certain that this game is one of the most repetitive games in my collection. Why does this game get so much love? Simple: it was amazingly fun. How fun was it? I preferred to play this game as a child over Starfox 64, Mario Party, Pokémon Snap, Pokémon Stadium, and Lego Racer. That’s quite the line-up. What made it so fun? Now, that question is tricky, because it’s probably full of bias. But this is my own personal list of games that had an impact on me. One thing you must know about me is that I am a gigantic fan of Star Wars. This game came out shortly after Star Wars: Episode I. Guess who had just seen the movie before purchasing the game? So, to put it simply, why did I love this game so much? Because it expanded upon one of my all-time favorite movies as a child (shut up) and my all-time favorite scene from that movie (shut up).

Star Wars Episode I: Racer is a game where you race in machines called pod racers. You can choose from a wide variety of made-up alien races that were made specifically for the game, including Sebulba (most need to be unlocked, however). The game also has a variety of courses to choose from (twenty-eight in all, if I remember correctly) that have a specific character who has an advantage on said course. By winning these courses (or beating the favorite), you unlock a specified amount of money to spend on upgrades to your vehicle and the chance to play as the character whom you had beaten from that course. Simply spending time choosing the right parts to upgrade my vehicles and gazing upon the strange creatures that I could choose from, my childhood mind could hardly contain itself. This game inspired a wide variety of fan-made drawings (that I still never kept) and all sorts of imaginative outside gameplay. Not to mention, anything with the name “Star Wars” pasted on it was sure to get my attention. But in this case, it was both a “Star Wars” game and a genuinely entertaining one at that. A gem of a game with hardly any recognition (except a Player’s Choice sticker).

And much like Mega Man X: Command Mission, this game lost a lot of its luster upon recent playthroughs, as the game is, as mentioned above, fairly repetitive. You race, you win, you upgrade, you repeat. After about three or four hours, the game’s done, and you have nothing left to do.

#8: Donkey Kong Country 3

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Ah, yes. The game that, from my limited memory, introduced me to video games. Thinking back on it, why didn’t this game make the original list? It made the runner-up list, but what kind of drugs was I on to put Starfox 64, a game that I really liked, but was outshined by a number of other games on the same console, make it over the “first”? Regardless, that error has been corrected, as Donkey Kong Country 3 was one of the most magical experiences of my younger life.

This game may have influenced my affinity for cartoon graphics, quite honestly. I remember being (and still am to a degree) amazed by the way the game looks. Its design still looks great today! The technique of converting 3D models into a 2D space worked wonderfully and helped craft the Country series’s distinction from other Nintendo classics. Outside of flashy visuals, the game has a wonderfully spastic atmosphere that accurately presents the weight of each level. Design is on-point, with levels being fun (and somewhat challenging later on) from beginning to end, despite some levels’ degree of one-dimensional gimmicks.

As a child, this game blew my mind. If not for perhaps Super Mario World, I’d probably dub this the greatest game I had ever played by the time I was eight. One question that may come to mind is, “If this game was so astounding to you, why is it not higher on the list?” Back then, I kind of naturally associated every Country game with one another, making them all blend together in a disjointed collection of one giant game. So while the third entry stuck out the most, the memory of the first and second games also filter the impact it had on me. I can’t help but think of every Donkey Kong Country game whenever Donkey Kong Country comes to mind. Except the new ones. Those may as well not exist.

#7: Glover

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“HEP-WEE!”

When you’re published by Hasbro, you’d think you’d get a little more attention. From the company that brought you My Little Pony comes a 1998 one-off game franchise called Glover. Obviously inspired by Super Mario 64, the game is an open world platformer/puzzle hybrid, complete with hub world, distinct areas with stages leading up to a boss encounter, and collectible items scattered throughout. Everything about this game screams “Bargain bin rip-off,” yet somehow it managed to become one of the most quotable and charming games of my life, whether childhood or adulthood.

To some extent, the “bargain bin” moniker is appropriate, as nothing about this game really stands out to make it an amazing experience. At best, the game is passable entertainment with a penchant for shoehorning in one distinct shtick: ball-handling. Within Glover, the goal is to make it from one end of the stage to the other, and you cannot do that without carrying around a shiny ball capable of weak magical abilities. As is appropriate when playing a game whose main character is the (implied) disembodied hand of a wizard, the player’s maneuvers are predicated on the physical capabilities of a hand. You bounce the ball, slap the ball, point at the ball, shoot spells at the ball to change its shape, and jump on the ball. This game is pretty odd.

Its oddity might be what makes the game so memorably impactful. What it lacks in quality controls and graphics it makes up for with silly creativity. Just look at the game itself! You play as a glove carrying a ball around carnivals and flying pirate ships and different planets in pursuit of crystals used to power a wizard’s castle, which have all been turned into bouncy balls that wandered into alternate dimensions. Not to mention, the wizard’s other hand was dropped into a magical concoction and turned it evil, serving as the main antagonist of the game. What the fuck?! This is the kind of thing I miss about the olden days of video games. Things didn’t have to be serious, and the more colorful and bizarre a game was, the more appealing it became to me. Glover is not a game with objectively fantastic hardware or design. It is a game meant to embody the spirit of having fun, something I feel it does better than most. That’s what makes the game so wonderfully memorable to me, both now and when I first played it some seventeen years ago.

#6: Super Mario Sunshine

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Super Mario 64 didn’t make the list. Super Mario World didn’t make the list. Super Mario Bros. 3 didn’t make the list. Super Mario Sunshine makes the list. My opinion must be invalid.

Let me explain, I never played Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Bros. 3. I played Super Mario World as a young boy, and perhaps it should’ve made the list. However, I have more memories of the first world and the final fight with Bowser than anything else, which leaves a big chunk of the game void in my mind. Super Mario Sunshine came at the exact right time, at the time I was nine. A lot of complaints about the game seem to be based on direct comparisons to Super Mario 64, but I don’t think that’s ultimately fair. Sure, with another game in a long line of legendary games, comparisons should be expected, but to compare every aspect of one game to another and base your opinion solely on that seems illogical to me. As a child, I never compared anything. I simply played the game as it was and had no thoughts as to what came before. It was a beautiful time for gaming.

Super Mario Sunshine had one of the most engaging and bizarre plots I had ever seen in a game up to that point. Cleaning up graffiti? Super Mario! It seems more like a plot for a game starring Mr. Clean. Regardless, the game had a certain quality of color and pizzazz that made it work for me. The bonus stages were difficult, but fun. F.L.U.D.D. was one of the most helpful tools in any game ever, and I very much appreciated that it didn’t talk as much as it could have. Despite what is essentially a burden to children everywhere, cleaning up the mess of monstrous goop within the game was one of the most exhilarating times I’ve ever had playing a Mario game, or any game, in my entire lifetime.

#5: Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense

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This is a statement I will defend to the death if I must: Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense is the most underrated game for the Nintendo 64.

What’s Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense? That’s a question I hear all the time whenever I discuss the game with fellow gamers. And why would they have heard of it? They were too busy playing Twisted Metal. However, I, as a good ol’ christian boy, played the much more appropriate Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense. This game is still regarded as one of my all-time favorite games and is a regular play. While the game certainly has its flaws (sound effects, realistic motion control), the effort and care put into the game has been apparent to me ever since I was a child. The plot is interesting, the characters are creative to the point of parody, and their vehicles are reminiscent of decades past. The features included in this game are enough to make people want to play this game forever, and the fun only quadruples with the multiplayer mode.

The Quest Mode paints a picture for what the series is all about. Each character has their own individual style of play that ties into the giant story of Vigilante 8. They have their own motives and their own travels, depending on their alignment in the game. In each stage, there are little side quests that one must do in order to fully complete the quest at hand, which includes unlocking new characters. The amount of weapons and abilities and characters and vehicles and features and stages and plot twists prevalent within this game are simply perfect, if not minimalistic. Could there be more characters? More vehicles? More side quests? Absolutely. But it still makes itself a very solid game with a lot to offer, despite what little it has. Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense isn’t just the fifth most impactful game of my childhood, it’s one of my all-time favorite games on the Nintendo 64, and a top ten favorite game of all-time.

#4: Metroid Prime

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Fun fact: Once upon a time, I witnessed a game being played in front of me called Super Smash Bros. It was at my cousin’s house. While playing that game, I would always be one character, who would continue to be my all-time favorite video game character up until Metroid: Other M (but that game never happened). Her name was Samus Aran. So, what do you think my mindset was like when I came over to my cousin’s house one day only to find that Samus Aran had a new independent game called Metroid Prime? If your answer consisted of anything similar to “orgasmic,” you would be correct. Another fun fact: I initially was hesitant to play the game after witnessing my cousin die multiple times during the game. Why? I was scared of death at one point. I would never want to play a game that involved the main character dying in first person, as it would give me the impression that I was the one who would face their ultimate demise.

It didn’t stop there, however, as even when I owned the game myself, I was still scared of certain aspects of the game. Two prime (heh) examples: the Armored Beetle and Chozo Ghosts. I don’t know what is was with Armored Beetles, but it was one of the things that killed my cousin in battle. I guess that had affected my sub-conscious. But Chozo Ghosts? Those are genuinely frightening. You can’t see them, they can appear wherever they want, they exude these sounds that could very well have originated from a horror flick, and the light in the area dims whenever they appear (I was once afraid of the dark). Those things were nightmare fuel for me as a child. While not as traumatizing to me as a child, the Metroid Research Center in Phendrana Drifts has one of the most genuinely creepy atmospheres in all of Nintendo’s classics. It’s one of the best parts of the game.

But all of this, along with a genuinely engaging plot, and gameplay, plays into the impact this game had on me as a child. This game solidified Samus as my all-time favorite video game character and gave me a game to base it off of. This game made me genuinely fear what Nintendo was capable of in storytelling. All of the features present in the game, all of the creatures, and the fact that you can scan and gain information on them is astounding! Your scan visor is one of the most ingenious decisions I’ve ever seen in gaming history. In Metroid Prime, there is no dialogue. None. So what can you make of the story? Based on the events that happen and whatever your scan visor can pick up from ancient relics. This gives the player all the more reason to get immersed into the story of the game, because it’s never explained. They have to put the pieces together themselves. Why is this game so influential to me? Because it improved my subtlety as a creative writer. It taught me that foreshadowing and symbolism is one of the most engaging types of writing in all of storytelling, whether it be in a novel or a video game. Metroid Prime isn’t just a fun game to play, it’s an innovative work of art in storytelling.

#3: Soul Calibur II

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Soul Calibur II is a game that I’ve been playing ever since I first got it. The characters. The story. The Weapon Master mode. Everything about this game is so unbelievably memorable and interesting. This is one of the only games that has influenced me to actually go into the options setting just to see what else I could find. Even the special features are interesting. The artist renditions of these characters are interesting. Everything about this game is so interesting it just makes my head explode just thinking about it! The opening, the music, the characters’ movesets, the characters’ variety of weapons, everything. It’s all interesting, and vastly entertaining.

What made this game better? I had it for the Nintendo Gamecube. So, the guest character with the game is the only guest character from a Soul Calibur series game I’ve ever approved of: Link. I had first encountered this game at Family Video, a hot-spot for video games during my childhood. I saw Link on the cover case and immediately wanted it, so we rented it for a couple days. I fell in love. Link is perfect for this game! The sword and shield, and the already wide variety of items he collects inside each Legend of Zelda game, this was a genius choice. It added a magical Nintendo touch to the game that has lasted up until this point, and probably will forever.

The fighting aspect of the game takes a lot of strategizing and manipulation of the opponent’s mindset to completely master, and each character has their own weaknesses and strengths. All of the vivid little details put into this game make it a creative plethora of ideas and innovation. Even Necrid is a personal favorite of mine, and he doesn’t even make it past this game. The only real issue I have with this game is that once you complete Weapon Master mode, it just becomes like an arcade game, and arcade games are only fun in short, sporadic spans of time. Regardless, this game is a personal favorite and has continued to be a topic of interest whenever the issue of good fighting games arise.

#2: Custom Robo

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Custom Robo is a game that I had initially heard about after playing a demo at Toys ‘R Us. I was so immersed with that demo… it was one of the only times that a demo had such an adverse effect on my desire to purchase a game. The creative designs, the weapons, the colors, the gameplay, it was perfect. It was all perfect to me. My creative juices were flowing like the Nile after playing that game, and I had to have it when it came out a few weeks later. After picking it up from Family Video, I played it for about five straight hours. It was unlike anything I’ve ever played. The characters’ personalities, their designs, their names, the plot, the robos, the area, the map, the humor, Oh! The humor! Everything about this game was wild and colorful and it just fit. If Custom Robo were a puzzle piece, it would fit right into my brain as if it were its home. This game speaks to all of my individual interests as a human being and it only did so much to appease me.

When I finally finished the game, I craved it. I craved more, so much more. It wasn’t enough. I literally got depressed after beating the game and saying goodbye to all of the characters in front of me. I waited, I waited so long for a viable sequel, but I never got one. Custom Robo is the only thing I got in terms of its world, its universe, its characters. Custom Robo has so much potential to be something more, something amazing, something legendary. If only they would give it a second chance. It’s times like these you learn to live again that I want to be a game designer. To be able to gain the rights to work on the games that made my childhood beautiful, that made it worth living. Custom Robo is one of those games that have such an essential place in my heart that no amount of criticism, insults, or debauchery could ever have my view the game any less than wonderfully imperfect. It’s replayability and creativity are some of the strongest I’ve ever experienced playing any game in my entire life. All of this for a game that no one has ever heard of.

Funny how passionate I was for this game three years ago. It’s a decent game, but I more than acknowledge the flaws that this game has. Most of what I’ve said still holds up, though without all the passion I once had in my “youth.” I would gladly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun experience, and hope it can give the same impact it had (and has) on me.

#1: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

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Fun fact: Running around at Family Video as a child, I encountered a lot of games in my life. But I only chose certain games to take home to play. Some lasted a while, some didn’t. Some would last the rest of my life. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door was a game that I spent the absolute most time with after renting from Family Video. I rented it for two days. I spent approximately half of that playing the game. Roughly twelve hours a day, from the moment I woke up to the minute I went to bed, with bathroom and food breaks in between. With all of that time poured into the game, I made it to chapter four, where I could not for the life of me figure out how to acquire Doopliss’s name. It was the first time I ever searched “Gamefaqs” in the search bar. It was the first time I ever used outside sources to find out how to advance farther in a game. By the time I had defeated Doopliss and made my way into chapter five, it was time to return the game. I would not play Thousand-Year Door again for years.

Have I ever mentioned that RPG’s are my favorite type of genre in video games? That might be because of Thousand-Year Door. Remember my statement for Mega Man X: Command Mission about it being the “lost game”? It’s the same here, except multiplied by a thousand. I had every chance to play Command Mission after getting stuck on the sixth chapter, I just chose not to do it. After I returned Thousand-Year Door, I didn’t play it again for years. I never owned it, and for some reason, I would never get it for my birthday or Christmas. I had no income to purchase it, and my mother wasn’t exactly one to frantically spend money. I was stuck with what I got during special occasions, and that lasted well into my teenage years. The mystery of what happened after chapter five in Thousand-Year Door haunted me for a long time afterwards. The fact that such a long time had passed since I played the game made me more and more anxious to play the game, and that lasted even after I played the game. That growing anticipation was prevalent up until the point I finally got my hands on it again.

However, what Command Mission didn’t have in replayability and design, Thousand-Year Door made up for tenfold. Not only did I have to bottle my emotions for years waiting to complete the game, it’s also one of the most beautifully presented games I’ve ever played. The types of things that you have to do in order to advance in the game are things I would have never conceived. They really take advantage of Mario’s paper abilities and craft them into the game like a work of art. The graphics are also so simplistic, yet so creatively vivid. It’s one of those “easy on the eyes” games that enhance the quality of artwork through minimalistic designs. It’s truly breath-taking. Every character is likable. Every chapter is brimmed with creativity and interesting plotlines (with the addition of repetitive fetch quests). These chapters range from outstandingly immersive (Chapter 1) to irritatingly memorable (Chapter 2). All emotions are exuded while playing this game. It’s really a complete package. Everything and anything can be achieved while playing this game, it’s all a matter of how you choose to see it. This is truly the epitome of influential games in my opinion, and stands as one of the most memorable games of my childhood, and of all-time.

Honorable Mentions: Pokémon SilverMario Party/Mario Party 4Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2Mega Man 7, Tony Hawk’s UndergroundSuper Mario Bros. Deluxe.