30 NES games to get started

In a few months Nintendo is planning on releasing the SNES Classic Edition. As a follow up to the popular but under-produced NES Classic Edition, I expect this thing to be quite popular with gamers and collectors. However, due to scarcity and the fact the NES mini has already been discontinued, I thought I would write a 30 NES games to start up a collection for the lapsed gamer who might want to get back into NES gaming, but who doesn’t want to shell out the money for an NES mini. This list is based on my own preferences but I think it should be a good reflection of the NES library. I think these are 30 games that any gamer should pick up early on when starting their NES collection. I might write similar guides or lists for other consoles if I enjoy this enough. Also I am not ranking these, this is not a top 30 NES games, so the order is not that important these are just the 30 games I personally feel every NES collectors should get right away.

1. Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt

The first game every collector should have is the most obvious one. Seriously, if you are trying to go back in time to revisit the NES, or you are a kid just discovering it for the first time there is no other game as iconic or important as this game. There are different variations and combinations of these two games, but the classic SMB/Duck Hunt cart is the most obvious one to get.

2. Duck Tales

This game gets a lot of attention, and with good reason. The cartoon was classic, the tune is catchy, the characters are very retro and the game play is fantastic. What more can I say? I was trying to avoid games that rely so heavily on nostalgia, but fortunately Capcom recently upgraded this game on modern consoles as DuckTales Remastered, so it has the potential to reach a younger audience thus not relying entirely on nostalgia.

3. Batman

Probably the best action/platformer on the console and certainly one of, if not the best, comic book/super hero games in the NES library. A great game with good music, fun game play, decent challenge, and great graphics for the console. Also based on an amazing movie that is still worth revisiting while you are at it.

4. Iron Tank

Not everyone is going to pick a random tank combat game, but I think if you are going to get serious about NES collecting you need this game in your collection. It’s not as well known as some of the other games you hear banded about, but it’s still a lot of fun. This is one of those “NES hard” games where the difficulty is going to turn some people away, but the game play, the graphics, and the challenge all make it a very worthy game to add to your collection quite early on.

5. Legend of Zelda

Most people this will be either their first or second purchase. This game is so icon it practically defines the entire NES generation. I can’t say enough good things about this game, I played it to death as a kid, so much in fact the battery died in my cart.

6. TMNT 2: The Arcade Game

I could just say buy all 3 games, 4 if you count the fighting game, but I think this is probably the one to start with. Save the first for when you are padding your collection and get 3 when you are ready for more beat-em-ups. I say start with 2 because it’s the easiest to pick up and play, its the most iconic, it is based on the arcade game so it has that retro arcade feel to it, and it’s the one based most off the cartoons so would be the most familiar to a lot of people. The first game is good too but I recommend 2 for an early collector.

7. Dr. Mario

It shouldn’t take you too long to pick up this game. It’s arguably the best puzzle game on the console, and certainly a higher priority to me than Tetris. Although Tetris is well known, chances are you have multiple copies of Tetris spread across however many gaming platforms you have, so why not put off getting Tetris and start with the, in my opinion, superior game anyways?

8. A Nightmare on Elm Street

I know this game gets a lot of hate, especially since a certain Youtuber trashed it so famously. Still it’s actually not that bad of a game. The common criticism of it not having that much to do with the movies aside, which I would argue it actually does the job of re-creating the nightmare just fine, it does have its flaws. Still, as a HUGE Nightmare on Elm Street fan, I personally love this game, warts and all. It’s actually a decent, crazy fun 4-player experience. Sure you likely won’t beat it without cheating, but honestly how many NES games can you beat without cheating anyways? Also, part of the charm in collecting NES carts is revisiting the 80’s, and nothing is more 80’s than Freddy Krueger.

9. Casltevania

I try not list the obvious games but since this isn’t a top 30 list and it certainly isn’t a list of hidden gems, I figured this is just one of those iconic games every NES collector needs in their collection, and fairly early on too. I won’t get too into it, the game launched one of the longest running horror franchises in gaming history.

10. Super Mario Bros. 3

I would almost suggest getting these games in reverse order, starting with 3, then 2 and ending up with 1. Either way, all three of them belong in your NES collection, but the first and 3rd certainly belong in your first 30 for sure.

11. Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man

Take your pick, get either the Namco licensed ones or the unlicensed Tengen carts, Mr. or Ms. Pac-Man both games are good, and either one should be early purchases. I strongly believe that both of these games are just true staples in gaming history that should never be over looked. Personally I love them both equally and can never choose one over the other. But for the sake of this list, and because money could be an issue for most people, you should be good to pick one and have hours of fun from time to time.

12. P.O.W.

I love arcade games. A lot of the best arcade games from the NES library can certainly be found on modern consoles for sure. If you are going to start a collection, I would recommend going after this game over some of the more common, heavily talked about games. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it. Sure it’s not the best game to begin with, but it’s a good pick up and play action game for the NES reminiscent of the classic arcade experience.

13. Contra

Speaking of great arcade ports… Seriously Contra is practically *the* NES game to collect at this point. It’s a great run and gun, it’s a great 2 player action game, and it’s a fantastic port of an arcade game. Most people say this version is actually superior to the real arcade version it is based on, I happen to be one of those people.

14. 3-D Battles of the World Runner

You are going to be collecting NES games you have plenty of time to pick up the staples. Why not get a quirky game that makes good use of the 3D gimmick while also being another throw back to awesome arcade game play. It’s a pretty decent “Space Harrier” clone if you want to get down to it, and it’s a lot of fun.

15. Popeye

Another arcade classic. I played Popeye so much as a kid. I actually enjoyed it even more than the famous Donkey Kong arcade hit. Granted the game hasn’t aged all that well and yes it mostly is just a Donkey Kong clone, albeit an official one if you want to get down to it. Still the game is fun, the music is catchy and if you are looking for a nice little arcade game to get you going this is as good a place as any to start, and let’s be honest do you really want to just get DK like everyone else or wouldn’t you rather have this, a game that is unique and probably a little more collectible than DK? I know I would.

16. Ninja Gaiden

I almost didn’t want to pick this one, first, it’s too obvious, second, its super hard. But let’s be real if you are looking to collect NES games this is going to be one of your first 30 purchases for sure. It’s a great game totally worthy of all the praise. Is it hard, HELL YEAH, but it’s also very fun.

17. The Simpsons: Bart vs. The World

You need at least one bad game in your collection to start off with, might as well get one that makes for a good talking piece right? Is the game bad, yes, but let’s be real the purpose of collecting the physical carts if you are going that route is to relive the 80’s, Simpsons games were terrible but we all played them, we all rented them over and over knowing they were bad but somehow hoping against all hope that if we just got good enough we might uncover a good game underneath. Also it’s not all bad, it does have some decent mini games and unlike the other games, it does have a coherent story, at least as coherent as an episode of the cartoon.

18. Zelda II: Adventure of Link

Love it or hate it you need this game in your collection ASAP. I personally loved it. In fact I can’t decide which Zelda game I enjoy more, I honestly put equal amounts of time into playing each one. I have owned every re-release of both Zelda NES games and I highly recommend both as a good starting point, and bonus, you get a little variety in the gameplay if you get this one and the first early on.

19. Blades of Steel

I don’t typically recommend getting sports games right away. I prefer to put them off until I have had a good library of non-sports games and then slowly pick them off one at a time. This is one of the better sports games on the console. Even if you don’t like sports NES sports games are mostly pretty good. This is certainly more fun to play than a game of baseball or golf, in my opinion. I might even do a separate list of the best NES sports games, who knows.

20. Joust

I know, another classic arcade game. What can I say, the NES was billed as an arcade in your living room, and it was so much better at delivering on that promise than everything that came before it. Joust is a good game, it’s a fairly good port, and I think it’s a game any collector should pick up because it’s just so easy to pick up and play.

21. Battletoads

It’s divisive to most but it’s still a good game, mostly. This is another one of those ‘NES hard’ games that is more frustrating than fun, but it has so much 80’s charm it’s just totally worth buying just for the humorous moments. Grab a friend and just have at it. The game is not just hard it is extremely hard, but any NES collector who wants to be taken seriously needs to add this game to their collection as early as they can.

22. Anticipation

One of those quirky NES games that just captures the spirit of the decade perfectly. Over the top, lots of mini games and puzzles, multiplayer, and it’s just got so much going on how can you turn this down?

23. Mega Man 2

I could just say pick any random one but we all know 2 is the one to get.

24. Little Nemo Adventures in Slumberland

I don’t know what the internet reaction to this game is, I haven’t really read many reviews, but I personally enjoyed it so much as a kid. Now, A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of my favorite movies, and part of that is I love the idea of a dream world. This game, and the movie, both do a very good job capturing that part of the imagination. This one is hard also, but seriously if you are playing NES games you should expect to pick up a few hard ones as you go.

25. Blaster Master

Here is a game that does get named a lot, but usually in hidden gems discussions. With the recent remaster on Switch, what better time than starting up a new NES collection to buy this classic? The game might not be on the top of anyone’s lists, it’s still a super fun, not overly difficult action game with some pretty original gameplay.

26. Ghosts N Goblins

If you thought I was going to make a list of 30 NES games to start your collection and leave off this game, you were nuts. Again, yes, it is an arcade game, and yes it is difficult, but by now hard/arcade ports are pretty much the best games to get on the NES, at least when you are getting back into it or just getting started.

27. Star Wars

I know the SNES games are better, but it’s Star Wars how can you not get excited? I happen to enjoy the 8-bit version slightly more than the SNES one at times because the driving isn’t as clumsy as it is in the 16-bit versions. They only made 2 for the NES, both are good but this is the one to get first.

28. Kid Icarus

It was either this or Metroid and I think getting started you will have more fun exploring a game that doesn’t have a bazillion sequels/remakes. The game is fun, but hard and this time it’s not even based on an arcade game.

29. Wild Gunman

You need more than one light gun game especially if you do get Duck Hunt early on with the Zapper, you’re going to want a second game to justify having the Zapper and shelling out money on that CRT tube TV set you had to in order to get it to play right. Also it was featured in Back to the Future, albeit as an arcade game which it was not originally. Still a fun game and very much worth getting early on.

30. Chip N Dale’s Rescue Rangers

Much like DuckTales this game is just a blast to play. The 2 player action is fantastic, the game really captures the essence of the show quite well and despite being released recently on modern consoles, it still holds up quite well as a great retro NES game.

There you have it, 30 great NES games to get you started on your journey to collecting for one of the greatest, most beloved home video game consoles of all time.

 

 

 

My experiences with professional wrestling

A couple of weeks ago I did a retrospective where I looked back at all of my near-misses with G.I. Joe and how, for all intents and purposes, I should have gotten really into that franchise, yet somehow didn’t.

I want to do the same thing with the sports entertainment known as professional wrestling. My opinions of this topic has teetered back and forth over the years, I suspect mainly for some of the same reasons I wanted to get into G.I. Joe, but couldn’t. So let’s start at the beginning.

First, I never cared that ti was “fake” or “rigged” or whatever. My earliest memories of pro wrestling was, of course, Sgt. Slaughter who appeared on G.I. Joe, and Mr. T, who not only appeared in the A-Team, which I did watch, but also in Rocky 3, a movie franchise I watched regularly growing up. But, I actually knew of Sgt. Slaughter BEFORE I saw him on the cartoon. I distinctly remember having an uncle introduce me to a WWF wrestling match that had Sgt. Slaughter facing off against some guy who I can’t for the life of me remember anything about. My dad sort of watched wrestling, or wrasslan, as he called it. I also had uncles and friends who were into the “sport” as well. I never got into real sports that much as a kid so it was easy for me to dismiss professional wrestling as just another boring sport. The thing is, I always enjoyed the colorful characters, the way they tried to make it like there was a story, and the video games, if nothing else I can say I did play a lot of wrestling games, especially the ones on NES and Genesis, to me those were definitely worthy games to play.

My interest began to wind down in the late 1990’s. I tried following wrestling into the early 90’s but we never had cable and we couldn’t watch Pay-Per-View, so my exposure was very limited. As time went on and the characters I remembered went on to do movies or TV commercials, I started to lose interest. I also became even more involved with video games and comic books, which to me I always saw wrestling as a perfect blend of live-action video games and as good as we were going to get, at the time, live-action comic book type stories and characters.

Sometime in the late 90’s, around the PS1 and N64 ere, I took a weird turn. Suddenly as wrestling became more popular, as more of my friends got into it and it grew into more than just some weird things only weirdos like me enjoyed, it became very mainstream, I stopped caring all together. It had nothing to do with it becoming mainstream, in fact I still loved MTV’s Celebrity Death Match, and I would occasionally tune into WCW Nitro or WWF Raw with a friend once in a while, yet I never knew what was going on, my real issue was I got out of it, and I didn’t know what was going on. I tried getting back in when “Hollywood Hogan” was doing his WCW NWO thing, which to this day I still don’t entirely know what was going on. What happened with the N64 and PS1 was, I lost interest in sports and “extreme sports” especially. I didn’t get into Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, or Wave Race, etc., I dug my heals in and played Mario, Mortal Kombat, Mega Man, Final Fantasy, games that, to me at the time, represented real or “pure” gamer games, and I shunned all sports games, including wrestling. I had plenty of sports games on NES, SNES and especially Genesis. Not just the staples either like NBA Jam, or Skate or Die, you know the sports games it was okay for gamers to play. I had NHL 94, RBI Baseball on Sega, I had Joe Montana Sports Talk Football, hell I even had a ton of generic random Nintendo published sports games, not the Mario stuff but Pro Action Football, Tecmo Bowl, etc, Blades of Steel, I played sports games, I didn’t watch them on TV but I played the video games.

I always felt like with wrestling, there was no reason for me to not get into it. I like comic books, I like video games, I like fighting games and beat-em-ups especially, why wouldn’t I get into it? When I was in college I had to do a group presentation and the topic we did was the history of professional wrestling. I discovered that learning the history of the popular form of entertainment did soften my attitude towards it, but still not enough to develop a further curiosity.

Fast forward a few years and I recently started listen to certain podcasts by other gamers with similar interest as myself and they talk about pro wrestling a lot. I guess as I look back over the years the on thing that stands out in my mind the most is how close I came to becoming an actual fan of wrestling. One thing that I am certain happened was as I became more into comic book and super hero movies, and as the quality of those movies improved, I had less of a reason to go back and try to make sense out of what was going on with WWE and everything else.

I never attended any live matches, I never watched any of the pay-per-views, Royal Rumbles, or Wrestlemania’s, so for me I guess I just never got into it, even though a part of me always wanted to. I have been contemplating digging up some old matches online sometime and maybe just seeing if I can get into it. In the meantime I just look back at another thing that I came so close to enjoying, yet somehow missed out on.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Abraham Anyhow

I wanted the first book review I wrote for the site to be something unique, not just a Star Wars or science fiction novel that has been talked about to death. So I thought I would start with this interesting little book by Red Dirt Press, Abraham Anyhow.

“The story involves a man who owns a towing business who is facing the threat of losing his land to an expanding highway. He discovers some documents that reveal political back dealings that entangle his family in a feud with another local family that doesn’t abide by the law.”

Those were the words I used to describe the story in a nutshell in a previous article I had written about it elsewhere. The book itself reminded me in many ways of The Outsiders, or That was Then This is Now, in that it really captured the rough and tumble nature of these characters and their rugged lifestyle. I admittedly don’t read a lot of westerns or western themed books, which this is not exactly, but is close. It had been described as “grit lit” to me, which I think is fitting. The author runs a blog that posts short stories in this genre of fiction, that I am only now becoming aware of.

My first take on the book was how easily I could picture the places the author was describing. As someone who grew up in a small town in Kansas, I have seen my share of the stereotypical “redneck wannabe,” in fact it reminded me specifically of a place I used to visit frequently when I was a kid, this old junk dealer whose name I have long forgotten from my early childhood. In that respect the book did take me back to my early days, something a good book should be able to do.

One thing I noticed as I was reading is even though I never met these characters, I got the impression I could picture people I knew who were just like them. They were written as very believable, down-to-earth folks. The nature of this sort of fiction is just that, regular folks living their lives. The story was engaging, there was a conflict and the relationship between the father and son was something I could identify with, I think many of us have had rocky relationships with our fathers at some point in the past.

The story takes a couple twists but it mostly focuses on the central plot, not deviating too far. The author wrote from experience, clearly having a fondness for the area painting a picture of the sights that anyone who has been to these places would appreciate. Someone from a small town in the mid-west could also identify with the situations in the books as well.

The story doesn’t drag on either. He takes a few detours down memory lane, at least from the perspective of the characters, and the flash backs are not too excessive, they do their job in establishing the setting, the characters, and the mood of the story.

While not my preferred type of fiction, I tend to lean more towards either science fiction, or the classics, this is certainly a story that country folks or anyone curious about country folks, could read and get an insight into that lifestyle. It might not have been my exact cup of tea, to be honest, but it was a solid read and if you are into these types of stories, it’s worth picking up. The book is available on Amazon. The authors name is Adam Van Winkle. He grew up around Lake Texoma, a lake that borders Texas and Oklahoma. The book is primarily set in towns around the area.

I would give the book 4 out of 5 stars, not that it wasn’t well-written, it was, but because it just wasn’t my thing. I was able to get into the story and the mindset of the main characters, but it felt a little too down-to-earth, too real, for my tastes. It was still a solid read if you enjoy the genre, it wasn’t bad by any means. The only area of criticism I have is the dialog was a little too salty for my tastes for a story such as this. A few instances of profanity is fine, even necessary in a fiction that deals with criminals and human frustration, sure, but I felt that at times the main characters choice vocabulary was just a bit much for my preferences.

 

SNES Classic Mini: Thoughts.

Last year Nintendo surprised the entire world by releasing the NES Classic Edition. The handy little rom machine was under produced and now sells for outrageous prices on the after market.

Now with the success of the Switch Nintendo feels emboldened to follow up the insanely popular device with a SNES mini. To be honest, while I did grow up with the NES, I enjoy the SNES much more. The Super Nintendo was the very first game system I ever purchased with my own money, money I earned from working two summer jobs. I worked in the corn fields early in the mornings and then I tossed newspapers at people’s door steps in the afternoon. I earned that Super NES, and I loved it.

What makes me very interested in this is not just all of the great games, nor the cool retro form factor, but it also comes with a copy of an unreleased Super NES Prototype of Star Fox 2. For me, just being able to replay Super Mario World on an actual Super NES Controller on an official Nintendo device would be good enough. Sure I have the game on Wii, and Wii U, and Game Boy Advance… wait, why do I want this thing again?

Right, so the truth is, while I do currently own nearly every game being announced, that isn’t going to stop me from wanting to buy this handy little gadget. Although I see it as more of a novelty than anything, I am sure I will still attempt to pre-order one. I never did get an NES Classic, the price just never came down enough to justify a purchase for what it was.

To¬† be honest, I am not even sure the Star Fox 2 game is what I really want. I have been wanting to get an SNES for a long time. Considering the cost of a used, original, beat up old SNES is the same price as this brand new, in the box, device made directly by Nintendo, I am very tempted to get this just for that reason alone. Sure it won’t be able to play all of the old carts, but honestly I wasn’t looking forward to spending that kind of money anyways so for me this device could be just what I needed to add to my collection.

Hopefully Nintendo can produce enough to meet the demand. Or at least to fill pre-orders which I hope to jump on very soon.

My experiences with Harry Potter and Pokemon

These two pop-culture phenomenons came out around the same time. I was probably 14 or 15 when they were first starting to get popular. Looking back I can see why I never really became that interested in either of these two properties. They just came out at the wrong time.

Still, I have seen movies and video games come out later in life that I was able to enjoy. For example, I am really loving ARMS and I was really into Splatoon, too.

When Harry Potter first came out I was just disinterested. I already was really into Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, so it’s not like these books weren’t in my wheel house. I just never found them that appealing. Maybe it was because the characters on Buffy and Sabrina were closer to my age and I was growing up. This was around the time I was getting out of Power Rangers and Transformers, plus I was also slowly losing interest in comic books. By the time I was 16 I was so involved with wanting to make music that I almost completely got out of video games entirely. Now I still read books around this time, mostly Star Wars books but also other stuff on rare occasions. I just never could bring myself to get into Harry.

A few years ago I was living with a friend of mine who was one of those child at heart men who remained constantly stuck in his childhood. He loved the Harry Potter books, films, games, everything. He was a few years younger than I was so it made sense it would appeal more to him. During the time I was living with him he had a full Harry Potter marathon. I can’t remember for certain but I think the final film in the series had just came out or was about to get released so he was either catching up or watching a full run, either way all I remember were bits and pieces. I didn’t sit and watch them with him, I was stuck on my computer working on my then latest music project. From what I did see, however, I found somewhat curious at the very least. The thing is, I also was not that strongly into the Lord of the Rings movies either, so it seemed to me Harry Potter was just a kids version of that. Maybe not exactly but that was my impression.

As far as Pokemon goes, I don’t have a good excuse for not getting into it to be honest. I discovered other “children’s” targeted Nintendo franchises following it’s release so maybe the whole concept just never appealed to me. I was mildly interested in Digimon and so I know there was also precedent for me to get into Pokemon, plus I am still a huge Kirby fan so I know I can’t really lean on Pokemon was too “cutesy” for me. To be fair, I have tried to get into Pokemon, I have played several of the games, seen a few random episodes of the cartoon, I even helped my younger sister build a collection of the trading cards, and yes I even tried Pokemon Go, so I am familiar enough with the franchise. I still never developed any liking for it, so even to this day I remain disinterested in Pokemon. I also don’t get into Animal Crossing or Pikmin so maybe there is something to it just being too many characters to keep track of at once?

Looking back on it all, I still have no strong desire to invest any significant amount of my time to watching a movie series about a young kid and his magic friends. I guess the time for me to get into Harry Potter has passed and that’s all there is to it.

Best of Will Smith part 1, the Fresh Prince years

I was going through my Will Smith CD collection a few weeks ago when I realized I was missing one of his cd’s I completely forgot about. I finally decided to buy the disc off Amazon. I gave it a brief listen to before I decided to figure out what my favorite Will Smith tracks are. I spoke a little about this on my recent podcast, yet I still wanted to write a full article describing the individual tracks.

So here is my list, broken into to parts. Part one will cover the songs released under the DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince brand. Part two will cover all of the songs released just under the Will Smith branding.

These are not ranked in any particular order just a list of my favorite DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince songs.

Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble- Rock the House

This is one of the best songs from his debut album. The duo quickly made a name for themselves in this track that samples the theme song from the famous TV sitcom, I Dream of Jeannie. The song is a humorous tale of Smith’s experiences with various females. Each tale ends with him telling his buddies how girls are nothing but trouble. There is a reprise later on the album from the girls perspective, but it’s not as iconic as this one.

Summertime- Homebase

This is probably one of the most iconic songs in the Fresh Prince catalog. The premise is simple, take a smooth funk song, remix it into a smooth hip-hop track and lace it with mellow rhymes devoted to reminiscing of all the good times from summers gone past. It’s the perfect slow jam for a warm summer day. Just put the track on the radio, crank the volume up as loud as you can handle and sit back sipping your favorite summer beverage while the tune washes over you.

The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff- He’s the DJ, I’m The Rapper

This is one of those old-school songs that blends Smiths fast, on topic rhymes with Jeff’s quick cuts and funky bass lines. As a former turntablist I can fully appreciate a good Jazzy Jeff mix track. The song show cases Jeffrey’s turntable wizardry at it’s finest, even showcasing his famous transformer scratch with a narrative of Smith referring to Jeff as an actual Autobot. Good time.

Then She Bit Me- And In This Corner

This is the first track off the amazing record “And In This Corner” which features another song I will discuss shortly. The song reminds me a lot of a Jim Carey film called Once Bitten. In the song, just like the film, a young man meets a strange woman at a bar, goes back to her mansion where she bites him and he discovers she was a vampire. Okay the song doesn’t explicitly make those connections, however the music is very vampire-film inspired organ music laced with some very rock solid bass lines and a deep, pounding beat. The song is short, no hook, no chorus, but it tells a goofy story just like Smith’s best songs and is a good song to dance to if you happen to be in the mood, or just to chill out to as is most often the case with his music.

I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson- And In This Corner

Not exactly the “title” track from the ablum, but you could call it the “Main Event” if you wanted to do so. The track is a very fun tale of Will Smith famously challenging Iron Mike Tyson to a boxing match. In my podcast I highlight how much of a Nintendo fan Smith comes off and this song is likely a good reference for a Nintendo fan if you ever played Mike Tyson’s Punch Out for the NES, which was popular when the song came out. Anyways gaming connections aside, the song is one of the funniest songs Smith performed from his early days. The music has a very upbeat boxing ring vibe to it and the imagery is very 1980’s. The track was also featured on his Greatest Hits Collection, so you know it’s one of his best.

Boom! Shake the Room- Code Red

This was basically the very first song I ever heard by the duo and remains one of my favorites. It doesn’t have the humor of his earlier tracks but it sure packs a good punch. The hard-hitting beat, the almost g-funk sounding bass lines, and fast, angry raps make it a show of force for the rapper who was in the midst of a transition at this time. Code Red would be the last album he did as a duo and before he would go on to become one of Hollywood’s biggest names. It was a solid house party style dance track that to this day could get any hip-hop fan on the dance floor.

Nightmare on My Street- He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper

It’s no secret that A Nightmare on Elm Street is not only one of my favorite film franchises of all time, it’s actually my favorite movie of all time. The song tells a story how Smith and some of his friends go to see the original Elm Street film and later that night he gets a visit from Krueger in his dreams just like in the film. The song borrows dialog from the second film, while it also captures more of the MTV-inspired funny Krueger than the scary original. The song is perfectly 80’s and makes a good song to set the mood for a good Elm Street marathon.

I Wanna Rock- Code Red

This is one of those songs that hearkens back to the old school. Smith clearly was trying to recapture the glory days with this track while the rest of the album was showcasing his ability to adapt to the changing landscape of hip-hop. The song is short, and not very well produced. It’s a simple record scratch looping the same vocal sample over, and over. The line, “I wanna rock right now” from the Rob Base and EZ Rock track, It Takes Two, is the center-piece of the track with some old school beat boxing and a live band in the back ground backing up Smith’s raps, once again bragging about the skills of his partner-in-crime.

He’s the DJ, I’m The Rapper- He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper

Yes, the title track from one of his earliest cd’s is still the best track on that record. Smith kicks some old school fast freestyle sounding raps to Jeff’s patented record mixing and fast scratches to a very familiar retro electro track. The song is just oozing with Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince charm that made the duo so famous. It’s old school, it’s funky and it’s b-boy dancable all at the same time. Bust out the cardboard box, slip into some sweat pants and pull out your best break dance moves to this groovy track.

The Human Video Game- He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper

I picked this song because it’s pretty simple, it’s just a beat box track with Ready Rob doing his thing. The beat boxing imitates the sounds from an actual Donkey Kong arcade machine. It’s just a fun song with Smith bragging about his friend’s obsession with the arcade classic and how he is capable of using his beat boxing skills to make it sound like he is actually playing the game. It’s another one of those famous light-hearted tracks the group was famous for.

Theme song to Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Oh come on, you knew I was going to pick this song. Summertime might be his most iconic track from his music career, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a sitcom we all know and love. The theme song gets stuck in your head and you know you like it. There isn’t much else to say, it’s just a fun song that sets the premise of the show perfectly.

I left off a few tracks he is more famous for, but to be honest, I didn’t think they were his best songs. Sure everyone knows Parent’s Just Don’t Understand, but seriously it’s a fine song but not worth a lot of the hype. I had a few other songs I could have mentioned, like Ring my Bell, or Brand New Funk, but I didn’t want to to look like I was only picking songs from the team’s Greatest Hits collection. Although it would be easy to just pick up that one album and call it a day, there are so many other great tracks I just wanted to highlight a few from each record. It was hard because honestly, I love them all. I might not like every single song on every CD, but I enjoy every CD and there is easily more than one song per CD I like, too many for a brief post such as this.

Look for part two where I go through his entire solo career and try to pick out the best of the best, of the best, with honors.

Site is now live, new podcast is happening.

This is to let our readers know we have upgraded the site to a webhosting plan now, so please update your URL’s to point to http://www.thespiderslair.com as our new home page. The entire content of the site will remain fully intact this time we are just upgrading our existing hosting plan, not switching hosts like before.

So browse the new site, some new sections and features are on the way, some will be launching this very weekend.

The new podcast is going up this weekend, bet on it. I am recording tonight and uploading first thing in the morning, at least that is the plan. Plan B is to record in the morning and upload by the afternoon but I will be sure to have the first episode online. The format is going to be 90 minutes, divided into 20 minute segments with an intro and recap. I already have some theme music ready to go. The new podcast begins this weekend so be sure to check it out.

My recent trip to Six Flags

This weekend marks the first time for me to visit a Six Flags Over Texas amusement park. 

The day began with the first ride, El Sombrero, reminding me why I stay off these rides, I didn’t exactly get sick, but I came close. 

Under normal circumstances, I don’t function well in large crowds. It didn’t seam to really bother me that much.

I guess partly I just stayed out of the really long lines, so it was open enough that I never really felt too crowded.

I noticed some photographers around the park offering to take pictures people. My first thought was to wonder how they get the pictures so the people. I didn’t spend too much time on it. My next question was if they were doing it just as an easy summer job, or if they were trying to gain experience as a photographer for a possible future career in the media business. I was reminded of a girl I met at the first TV station I worked at. She was from California and told me how she worked at Disney Land hoping to land a job at ABC, her goal was to eventually work for NPR. It worked because I met her at an ABC station, and she now works for NPR.

Now it wasn’t the first amusment park I have ever been to, but it was by far the most impressive.

When I was a kid we went to Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, and when I was a teenager I went to Lagoon in Utah twice. I wasn’t really that into either of those too much. I get motion sick pretty bad so I tend to avoid most of the rides. I will occassionally venture into one here and there, but I try to avoid them as much as I can for the most part.

I sat on a bench for 30 minutes watching them wait in line to get on a ride that was over in under 2 minutes. I remebered how much I didn’t care for that all the other parks I had gone to. I do get waiting in line, building up the anticipation is part of it so I guess it’s all part of the experience.

My second ride was the one I regret. I went on the New Texas Giant rollercoaster, I was pretty sick for a while afterwards. This wasn’t my first time trying a rollercoaster, but it was the largest one I have ever gone on.

After a lunch break I decided to try my third ride. This time it was an hour-and-a-half wait for a ride that was over leas than 2 minutes and everyone got soaking wet in the process.

The next few rides I just sat on the side lines, waiting at the exits. The overall experience was slightly better than my previous amusement park outings. At the very least it felt more like a true theme park and not just an over grown county fair.

My total enjoyment of fairs, carnivals, and amusement parks is typically pretty limited. I can find myself having fun, but usually in small doses. Rarely do I find enough to keep me interested for the entire day. Unfortunately that is the problem. They are too expensive for just half a day and you woulf barely have enough time to do enough to justify the cost. But it takes too much time to get that moneys worth, which by the end is a long, hot sweaty day that leaves me feet sore.

In the end, yes it was a fun and worthwhile experience. It might be more enjoyable for someone who doesn’t have a bad foot or weak stomache barring him from enoying the most attractive qualities of the park, the thrilling rides. At least the food was good, what little I could afford anyways. 

E3 2017: Hopes and dreams

 

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Every June the electronic entertainment industry, primarily made up of video games and computers, come together to showcase all of their upcoming and latest projects at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3. It can be an exciting time for a gamer so here are a few things I am hoping to get attention at this year’s expo, and a few wild dream projects I will throw out just for fun. I will break it down by platform one at a time.

xbox

Microsoft:

Normally I really do not pay any attention to what they are doing. Until recently I never even owned an Xbox console. Now that I own both an original and a 360 I am starting to change my attitude towards the system. But that is not why I am interested in hearing what Microsoft has to say. There are a couple of things I want to hear about from Microsoft and I am fully expecting 1 of them to get a lot of attention, one will be wishful thinking and the other pie-in-the-sky not going to happen but I will suggest it anyways.

Scorpio

Whatever it turns out to be I am at least curious to learn more about it. I want to see form factor, learn about what exclusive features it will offer that the normal Xbox One doesn’t, beyond 4K, and I want to learn about the price and potential exclusive games, if any.

If the price is right, and the rest is to my liking, I might make Scorpio my entry point into the Xbox One family of gaming machines. Of course I am also cheap so I might go the S route or just spend my money elsewhere, who knows. All I do know is right now I am actually curious to see what Microsoft has to offer, and that is a first for me.

Windows

I want to learn more about how Microsoft intends to keep PC gamers sticking to the platform and helping it grow. I also want to learn more about their tablet future. I have a Windows laptop/tablet hybrid and I rarely, I mean hardly ever, almost never, use the tablet mode. I want to learn what they are going to do to make the tablet features of Windows more appealing to the masses so that Windows can continue to be healthy and maybe not disappear like Amiga.

Mobile

I do not want Microsoft to give up on mobile entirely but I want them to do it right. A dedicated Xbox tablet that can play Xbox specific content, but also have a mobile OS that is built from the ground up to function on a hand held type device, with the power of an Xbox might be worth checking out. Basically copy the Switch but with Xbox games. I know this won’t sell in the same numbers, but they can make it profitable if they meter their expectations and focus on what works and don’t make it an all-in-one machine.

VR

Microsoft has done nothing with VR in any meaningful way, I want to see them get into the arena in a big way so that VR can finally become a real success once and for all. I am like most, I am on the fence because VR is expensive, so if there was at least one more major player in the game it will go a long way in both bringing down costs and increasing the output of content.

Playstation-logo-colour

Sony:

Honestly I am not that excited about hearing what Sony has to offer other than announce some games and if at all possible try to talk about VR. In fact all I want to learn about is VR, a price drop and with some good bundles might be interesting, and at least 2 to 3 new, compelling games might go a long way. I know VR is struggling, but there are too many players with too much money invested for it to disappear entirely, it’s going to catch on eventually, but I think the cost is the biggest hindrance, always has been, so if more companies get involved and the ones in it double down it might have more of a shot. I want Sony to succeed because I have grown attached to the Playstation brand and even their non-gaming stuff has always been appealing to me.

I would also like for Sony to announce another PSP family of devices, something with more in common with the Switch maybe. Yes, Switch has changed the game and we all know that means others are going to look for any way they can to get in on that success, which I hope they do, having 1 device that doubles as a portable and home console is every gamers dream, or, at least it should be.

Nintendo Switch logo

Nintendo:

Games. That is all. Announce as many games as you can. I want Switch to succeed and for that to be a reality it needs as much variety as possible. They have already proven it will be a decent machine for fighting game enthusiasts like myself, not hard core like Playstation but certainly better than Wii U. They are also bringing more RPG games to the table than they have in several hardware generations, at least on the console side. I always figured it they truly merged their two divisions into one it would mean very big success for the company, as when you get down to it splitting the fanbase has always been their biggest weakness, now with a unified Nintendo fanbase, yes, we are unstopable and MS better pay attention as they keep splitting their fanbase between console, tablet, and PC.

6165-windowsSonynintendo-logoSega

The future:

I predict there will come a time when you have 3 companies doing three different things all catering to 3 different demographics. This is not so much a place a bet kind of prediction and not just wishful thinking, call it more an educated guess coupled with some strong hopes.

I want Nintendo to throw everything into the Switch and just BE the handheld gamer kings with a machine you take with you but can also plug into the TV when you want. I have been asking for this ever since the Game Boy Player transformed by GameCube from a second rate Xbox wannabe into a true gaming masterpiece.

I want Sony to double down on the console space, pushing for the best VR and augmented reality experiences making themselves the premium gaming device for the game that wants a more solid experience than the basic, but steady, offerings of Nintendo.

As for Microsoft, I just want them to get out of hardware entirely and focus everything on making Windows the very best it can be so that PC gaming can live on. If these three companies each focus on doing their one thing and doing it very well, we will live in a gaming utopia where everyone gets what they want. Then Sega can continue to exist in the last area they still have some clout, the arcade scene, which is far from dead but not what it once was.

With everyone trying to fight for a piece of the pie, dividing the gamer base into smaller segments, it just causes much division, infighting, confusion, and so-called console wars. If Microsoft focused just on PC and conceded consoles to Sony, like Nintendo has, and Nintendo focuses entirely on handhelds and remains committed to their exiting of consoles, which I contend is what Switch is, then that leaves Sony alone in the living room, Nintendo alone in your backpack and Microsoft alone in the computer space and everyone wins. Okay maybe not entirely without some overlap but you still have competition, just more focused with each doing their own thing, but doing it better than ever. Since that scenario is not likely, I just want everyone to get the best games they can and not worry so much about what the other guys are doing. Competition is a good thing, but we do have too much overlap in some areas.