A look at the Sega Saturn from the perspective of a Sega fan

I got my Sega Genesis for my 12th birthday in 1994. I instantly fell in love with that thing. The first game I played was the amazing Sonic the Hedgehog 2 that came bundled with my soon-to-be favorite game console for several years. Prior to getting a Genesis I couldn’t really say I was a fanboy or even just a fan of any platform. I had an NES, and before that we had an Atari. Before that I did all my gaming at the arcade.

As someone who was a HUGE fan of video arcades and arcade games the Genesis was a blast. By the time the Sega CD and 32X came along I was seriously contemplating buying either or both of those upgrades to gladly keep my Genesis alive. But things started to really turn around the closer the Saturn came to launching. The hype began building up. I starting to really consider saving all of my after school money I was earning from throwing newspapers, mowing lawns, and working in the corn fields on the side.

At the time, what drew me to the prospect of wanting to get a Sega Saturn was a combination of my love for the Genesis, arcade games, and the transition to the new world of 3D gaming. As the 90’s dragged on a few things started to become apparent to me early on. First thing I noticed about the Saturn was the lack of games. Remember when you are a kid flipping threw the gaming magazines all you have to go on is the information they offer. I didn’t have any way of knowing what games were coming out unless Electronic Gaming Monthly, Game Pro, or Sega Visions told me about it. Considering Sega Visions ceased following the launch of the Saturn, I didn’t really have much faith in the new product early on. I can’t say I “knew” it was going to fail. Far from it, I wanted one but I wasn’t sold to the point of I have to have one.

Whenever I would read a review of a Saturn game and the reviewers would point out how the game felt rushed, incomplete, buggy, or some other similar phrasing, I started to get skeptical. I distinctly remember reading a review for Virtua Fighter where the reviewer flat out said skip the Saturn and stick to the much cheaper 32X version. I also remember reading a really lousy review for the Saturn version of Mortal Kombat II, a game that was running smooth on the Super NES! I felt like if the Saturn can’t even handle a game both 16 bit consoles did okay, not to mention the 32X version was a huge selling point on making me want a 32X, I started to get a bad feeling about Saturn. That’s not to say it didn’t have games I wanted to play, just not very many must have games were jumping out at me.

The few games I was interested in, Bug!, Clockwork Knight, Panzer Dragoon, Virtua Cop and Sonic 3D Blast, all looked like they weren’t really showing off the true potential for what the Saturn was promising to do. At the time as I kept reading reviews of mediocre games, articles on how poorly the Saturn was selling, and the more I would see game after game getting announced for the new Sony Playstation and with no Saturn version planned, the more I started to lose interest. By the time the N64 finally started to make waves I had all but moved on from the Saturn. I wouldn’t give it another thought until the day my friend showed me his brand new Dreamcast. My reaction was, oh, when did they kill of the Saturn? I honestly stopped paying attention. As a self-proclaimed Sega fan this bothered me. I was saddened that the Dreamcast was already out and pushing the Saturn into obscurity. I also felt bad that I had missed my chance to get in on Saturn when it was still current tech. Then the more I looked into it, the more I realized, I wasn’t missing out on much.

I realize that over the years the prevailing attitude of the majority of sheeple on the web has shifted from thinking the Saturn was a mess of a console, to the Saturn was an overrated piece of junk to now it being considered a hidden gem or an underrated masterpiece. Whatever your attitude is, keep in mind this is a reflection from the perspective of someone whose whole life revolved around the Genesis.

At the time, as in during it’s life span I went through many phases. The first phase was excitement for a new console from Sega. This phase didn’t last long. I was already torn between wanting to get a 32X to give my Genesis new life, to wanting to save up money for a Saturn when it arrived. I even remember reading about the E3 thing, a whole month later in a magazine, thinking, what just happened?

I had been following the PSX and Saturn launch hype for months so I was shocked to learn Sega blew their wad and was now seeing all their hype fizzle. I maintained some hype for while, thinking erroneously Sony wouldn’t last. My logic was Playstation was too similar to the doomed 3DO. I ended up being wrong but more on that down the way.

My attitude started shifting as I started reading reviews. I kept holding out hope with each review that maybe the next game would prove to be worth owning. I would demo some of these games at local stores from time to time, so I wasn’t relying entirely on other people’s impressions. Still, the reviews were not doing the system many favors. There were a few hidden gems along the way but at the time I kept thinking this is not a good score. At first I thought everyone was judging the console unfairly. But looking back I think the opposite, I think they were being too soft because they didn’t want to accept Sega was messing up so bad.

When I realized the Saturn was in trouble was about the time I read a review, or even a preview, for the game Virtua Fighter Kids. My 13-year-old brain thought, wow, that’s a stupid idea for a game. Even then I felt like the system must be in trouble if they are resorting to such an obvious cash grab knowing full well it was just a cheap way to get another game on stores shelves in a big hurry for minimal effort. I knew that if this was the case the system was in trouble. All it really took was flipping through the magazine past thew 2-3 pages of Saturn games before stumbling upon the 8 or more pages of Playstation games to start to realize, Sony was getting all the love. Remember N64 wouldn’t be on the scene for a whole year later and even as I started reading articles on the upcoming Ultra 64 I started to get worried the Saturn was in trouble. By the time the N64 came out I had already forgotten about the 32 bit consoles and was already buying into the 64 bit hype train. I ended up dropping the money to get an N64 on launch day.

Looking back the most obviously issue with Saturn was the games. A few years later after I had grown up, gotten a job and began collecting video games as a hobby I went back and dug into the Saturn library. Unfortunately the passage of time was not a friend of the console. The games that would have blown me away in 1995/1996 had I gotten a chance to experience them then, were severely outdated in 2004 when I was buying them up. I didn’t go after any of the super rare or ultra expensive games, but I had a decent enough assortment when it was all said and done. In the end my Saturn collection consisted of X-Men Children of the Atom, Sonic 3D Blast, Virtua Fighter 2, Fighting Vipers, Sonic 2, Virtua Cop 1 and 2, NiGHTS into Dreams, Bug!, Clockwork Knight, Panzer Dragoon, Revolution X, Daytona USA, World Series Baseball, Mortal Kombat 3, Gex, even Tomb Raider. I might have had a couple other games but honestly nothing stood out in my mind as particularly noteworthy. I felt NiGHTS was so overrated I became very hostile to the Sega bots online that insisted I was playing it wrong. No, the game just didn’t appeal to me, at all. The fighting games were mediocre at best, the X-Men game was fun but not worth the asking price. Panzer Dragoon felt too bloated for what was basically a Star Fox type game which I wasn’t a big fan of Star Fox either. While I did enjoy Virtua Cop 1 and 2, and even as bad as it was to some people, I really had a lot of fun playing Bug! and Sonic 3D Blast. The rest of the games were just, eh nothing special.

I since went back and checked out much more of the consoles library via emulation. However that’s shoddy at best. The real trouble with Saturn collecting is all the expensive games aren’t worth the price you pay. Even if a game was on both PS1 and Saturn it could go for 3-4 times as much money on Saturn than PS1, and for all intents and purposes they’d be basically the same game. I grew so disgusted with Saturn collecting it was the first system I sold off. I traded it into a used retro game store for a big box of GameCube games and never regretted it.

I think the Saturn did have potential, but the truth is, I think most of that potential was too little, too late. Sega squandered all of their good will with Genesis fans before they even launched the Saturn. As the months turned to years I started to lose interest in the system. Today, even if I had the money I probably wouldn’t buy very many Saturn games. The console is, in my opinion, vastly overrated. It’s good for a few quick arcade ports and it has a handful of great hidden gems if you got the money to seek them out. The majority if the library, however, is available elsewhere for far less money. The handful of true exclusives aren’t even all worth the price of admission making Saturn truly a collector’s console.

30 SNES games for a new collector to begin with

Now for whatever reason you didn’t already have one of, if not *the* greatest video game consoles of all time, well nobody is judging you, here is a list of 30 games to probably get you into collecting. Like my previous lists, I want to avoid too many of the obvious picks, instead focusing on games that really give you a good variety of popular and less known, but not exactly the “hidden gems” everyone talks about.

Like my other lists these are only numbered to keep track, they are not ranked.

1. Super Mario World

If this isn’t the first game you pick up with your new Super Nintendo, what the HELL are you doing collecting SNES for? Seriously it was the most iconic game of the 16-bit era, probably the best of the Super Mario games, at the very least *the* best of the 2D Super Mario games, it’s one of the greatest video games of all time. So yeah, day one pick this up it’s almost mandatory at this point.

2. Mortal Kombat II

Just like how on Genesis you can buy MK1 and skip the rest, do that with SNES but buy MKII and pretend the rest don’t exist. Not only is this the best home version of one of the best 2D arcade fighting games ever made, it’s still a pretty solid game for the SNES library. Also skip Killer Instinct, everyone says that game, we all know it was just a Mortal Kombat cash in clone so let it go.

3. Super Star Wars

I normally don’t pick Star Wars games for general collectors, they tend to be more geared to hard core gamers and die hard Star Wars fans. While this game *IS* hard, even on the easiest setting it will challenge all but the most seasoned gamers, it’s also a very good game, even if it was stripped of the Star Wars license. It has great level design, epic boss battles, makes fantastic use of the Mode 7 psuedo-3D and it just has a great sci-fi/space fantasy vibe that makes for a great action video game.

4. Kendo Rage

Before you say now wait a minute you said no hidden gems. This game is not a “hidden gem” by my definition, in fact I consider it even more obscure than that. How obscure? Well I had the game as a kid, loved it played it to death, and it took me YEARS of combing used video game stores before I stumbled upon another copy and if i hadn’t asked the clerk to help me identify the games I was describing, I might not have recognized it at first, the game is obscure. Also it’s hard. I love it because it has a good weird mix of Castlevania, Ghosts N Goblins, with some Sailor Moon and Kirby Super Star, okay I know that’s a weird combination of games, but trust me that’s the best way to describe this game so yeah do some ebay digging and see if you can get a copy, trust me it’s worth it.

5. Donkey Kong Country

The typical response is grab the trilogy and have at it. Okay look there are over 700 games on the SNES and if you spend all your time going after the super popular Nintendo 1st party titles your going to miss out, so grab the first one, it will hold you over and is a masterpiece in it’s own right, and have fun. Make sure this game is in your first 30 purchases the rest can come later, hell maybe make then 31 and 32 respectively I don’t care but keep them out of the first 30, trust me you won’t regret mixing it up with a little variety.

6. Legend of Zelda- A Link to the Past

Arguably the best Zelda game ever made, easily the best 2-D Zelda and certainly one of the best Super NES games, you have the rest of your days as a collector to go chasing the JRPG’s and the shmups, but you can’t go wrong with getting Zelda early on.

7. Battletoads and Double Dragon

I will get this out of the way, the SNES is flooded with arcade fighting games, shoot em ups and JRPG’s. The Genesis does the first two FAR BETTER so stick to getting those games on Sega, as for the JRPG’s, well there are a ton, they are pretty much all the same in some way or another, no there is a lot of time to chase those too popular, too expensive and over hyped games, grab yourself a grade A 90’s arcade style mash up featuring martial arts bad asses along side some mutant frogs. This is sci-fi arcade beat em up at it’s best. Yeah the game is also on Sega but let’s not get into that now.

8. Bust A Move (Puzzle Bobble)

Everyone is going to tell you get Tetris this or Dr. Mario that, yeah well tell them to shut up those games are best on the Game Boy, the only GOOD puzzle game exclusive (in a way) to the SNES is Bust A Move, the Taito arcade classic semi-sequel to Bubble Bobble on the NES. I say sorta, but let’s not spit hairs this is a great, ultra fun, vibrantly colorful chipper game you can’t pass up for too long. Hidden gem, no, ultra rare probably over priced, maybe, at least rare the price is well worth it this game is AMAZING.

9. Batman and Robin

There are a million and one Batman games, this is the one to get on the Super Nintendo.

10. Super Ghosts N Goblins

Arcade games are fun. Sequels of arcade games that beat the original are easily twice the fun, oh and this time it’s 16-bit. Yeah these games are short but hard, hey whatever they are still great fun and this is still as good as, if not better than, the Sega game.

11. Sim City

I don’t just put this on here because it actually, literally, is my absolute favorite Super Nintendo game of all time, no seriously I play this game almost as much as I do Minecraft, which I play more than I should care to admit. But it’s still a great game to add early on to your SNES library to show you the depth of the consoles variety while also giving you a fun Nintendo take on the Sim genre. There are a ton of Sim games on the console but the original is a good place to start. It has KING BOWSER KOOPA what more do you want?!

12. Kirby Super Star

Like the Mario and DKC games, you will inevitably buy them all, or at the very least a good lot in due time. Why not start with one of the easiest to pick up and play games in the saga? This game has a ton of variety and is one of the best Kirby games ever made. The other games do what they do better in their own way, but this game gives you a sample of all the things Kirby is known for so it’s a great starting point and the theme song will get stuck in your head. It is already stuck in your head isn’t it? Don’t lie yes it is.

13. Robocop vs. The Terminator

While the SNES is more known for it’s RPG’s and Platformers and Sega for it’s sci-fi themed games, and this game is on Genesis, this is still the better version to get, and it’s a GREAT game with tons of fun and a whole bunch of replay value.

14. Zombies At My Neighbors

This is like Zelda, everyone is going to suggest it and there is no point in putting it off, see a copy pick it up.

15. Super Metroid

Again, I must stress, this list is not RANKED so for the love of all things that is good, if you get a SNES and you get a chance to buy this game, don’t hesitate or wait because it’s not far enough on the list, it very well could be the number 1 reason to get a Super Nintendo for a lot of people. This is the game that really started the “Metroidvania” style of game play that would be very common later on.

16. Super Mario RPG

Again, the console is WELL KNOWN for it’s RPG games, and Earthbound is NOT worth the asking price so you might as well get the Mario/Final Fantasy cross over and do yourself a favor. If you really want to experience the SNES at it’s fullest potential yes you will need some JRPG’s eventually, but damn I can’t stress this enough, they are expensive because EVERYONE wants them, so get this one to hold you over and get you started, it’s fine the game is 5 star, it’s a perfect ten, I mean it’s a great game you won’t regret it.

17. Super Mario All-Stars

Okay, yeah it’s just a collection of the 8-bit games redone with new 16-bit graphics and sounds, and yeah it just adds customizable controls, and oh yeah it also adds save states, but um, why am I having to sell you on this, IT’S a collection of the 3 most iconic games in HISTORY with SAVE STATES and NEW graphics, this is arguably the first true video game “remaster” by some definitions and it’s one hell of a starting off point.

18. Mega Man X

The best 2D Mega Man game ever made? That’s for you to decide. No I lied, the gaming community decided when this game was released and our collective opinion remains unchanged. This. Game. Is. GREAT. ‘Nuff Said. Okay fine not sold, take everything fun from Mega Man games and multiply that by a dozen, beef it up to 16-bit goodness, throw in a super cool hidden SFII reference, throw away all the crap that bogged down the not-so-good Mega Man games and throw it onto the greatest game console that the Big N has ever released and you got your self a game you need in your collection yesterday.

19. NBA Jam

If I didn’t put this on my Sega list, I should have or very well could have. This game is easily one of the best, and hands down the most iconic and recognizable arcade basketball, maybe even sports game, of all time. Throw it into your SNES, plug the Red and White audio cables into your stereo, crank up the bass along with the volume and bust out those dunks that make the announcer scream BOOM SHAKA LAKA all night long.

20. Spider-Man/Venom Maximum Carnage

While the Sega fans got the better stand alone Spidey game, the SNES got this game, okay it was on Sega also but this is not the Sega list it’s my Super Nintendo list. Damn why were the 16-bit console wars so damn great? Anyways this is probably the best brawler/beat-em-up on the console, aside from a certain turtle game I won’t mention. The SNES doesn’t do one-on-one fighting  games nearly as good as the Genesis, it does the side scrolling brawlers at least as good, if not better, so this is a very good comic book themed game to really sink your teeth into. Also you get to play as VENOM, I mean dude how is that not a thing in more Spider-Man games?

21. F-Zero

Might as well. It’s fast paced, futuristic sci-fi racing what could go wrong? This was one of the earliest games to show off the systems “mode 7” capability and it was all we gamers needed to know this machine was the real deal. Since Nintendo doesn’t seem to care to make any new games in the series any time soon, why not go back to the one that started it all?

22. Final Fantasy 3

If you count this game higher than 3, go back to Japan. This is the one we all played, for many of us, myself included, this was *THE* entry point into the JRPG genre and for most it was also the template we measured all future JRPG games against. This and Super Mario are probably the easiest to get into and the best place for an entry point for someone that doesn’t want to get overwhelmed with these text heavy games too early on. There are plenty of RPG’s on the console and you have the rest of your life to seek them out, this needs to be in your collection before pretty much all the rest of them, aside from Mario that is. This game defined the genre for a generation and it wasn’t surpassed until it’s direct (but incorrectly numbered, stupid Japanese) sequel.

23. Super Bomberman

If you don’t get yourself a Super Multi-Tap for some sweet 5-player Super Bomberman pretty much as soon as you can then you are cheating yourself out of a fantastic experience. There might not be that many games that use the multi tap that are worth owning, but this game is worth the price of admission all by itself. Pretty much any console that has a Bomberman game that supports 4 or more players is going to be high on any wish list. Treat yourself and your gaming friends (and even your non-gaming friends its casual friendly) to a night of blasting bombs at one another.

24. Knights of the Round

Sticking to the theme of playing to the systems strengths, here is another worth while side-scrolling arcade brawler that is sure to keep you entertained for several hours. The game is set in a fantasy world, and I honestly confused this for Golden Axe when I was a kid, so you can bet my surprise when I plugged Golden Axe into my Genesis and I was so furious. I played this game at a Pizza Hut long ago and dropped so many quarters into it every time I got the chance. The gameplay holds up today, the music and characters are still very well done and the level design is what you want in an arcade beat-em-up from the 90’s.

25. Super Castlevania 4

There is a never ending debate on the internet, which 16-bit console was better Super NES or Sega Genesis. A similar debate is which Castlevania game was better, this one or Symphony of the Night, (I throw my lot in with SOTN but to each their own) still this very game is at the heart of that debate and one of the reasons a die-hard self-proclaimed Sega fanboy like myself still freely admits the Super NES is probably the greatest game console of all time. Sure Bloodlines on Genesis is a good enough Castlevania game, but why settle for good enough when you can get the real deal, and this game is the real deal. Think of it like this, this games is the Empire Strikes Back of the Castlevania series, it’s that good. If I wasn’t such a Sega fan I would say this game and a handful of others would be all you need as a gamer. Needless to say, this was one of the games that, almost, made me switch sides from being Pro-Sega anti-Nintendo to very much a Nintendo loyalist. Even the prospect of just a port of this gaming coming to a new Nintendo console is usually enough to get my attention.

26. Primal Rage

Again, fighting games are almost always better on the Sega Genesis, that’s pretty much a given unless you live in a weird bubble where the 6-button pads never existed, if you bring up the crappy 3-button pads in a debate I walk away, seriously nobody games with those everyone has 6-button pads and all things being equal, the 6-button pad is better, the Genesis is faster, look fighting games are best on Genesis, RPG’s are best on Super NES, let’s just agree to that. Still, Primal Rage is one of those rare fighting games that is still great even on the Super NES. (I can hear the fanboys screaming at their monitors right now, you picked this over SFII!) No I didn’t but hell, SF II is played out at this point, It’s available on so many consoles, in so many varieties, seriously at this point if you are getting into SNES collecting STAY FAR AWAY from SFII games, period. They were good, damn good, at the time, they suck by today’s standards, and I don’t mean because the arcade port is available. Look let’s focus on this game, probably the LAST arcade game Atari ever had their hands in that was worth a damn and let it be that, the Atari swan song that it is and still a FANTASTIC fighting game, actually good on the Super Nintendo. If you are serious about playing SFII, play it on any console BUT the Super NES, and ignore the fanboys who never experienced SFII the way it was meant to be played. Or at the very least, get this game first and find yourself having fun appreciating one of the rare fighting games that was good on the console and pick up those thousand SFII clones at a later time.

27. Sunset Riders

Another one of those side scrolling arcade action games the system is well known for. I know there are people who can’t look beyond the JRPG’s, but if you aren’t a fan of those don’t get so down on the Super NES just yet, I know the fanboys make it sound like those are the best games on the system, thankfully you and I aren’t fanboys, at least not Nintendo fanboys. Okay, so infighting and trolling aside, yes this is a very good game. It does have it roots in the arcade and yes there is a Sega port of this game, this one is nearly identical in most ways but as I understand it very good and you don’t want to just turn your SNES into a JRP hub up front now do you? If you like arcade games this is a great port, for what it is.

28. T2: The Arcade Game

This is another arcade game, its also a shooting game and fortunately it does support various peripherals so you can sample the different play styles. The arcade game is still better in every way but this is a good game to pluck into your SNES console and get a few minutes of great fun before you get too bored, and it’s good to come back to from time to time.

29. Super Smash TV

Notice my lists are heavy on arcade games, well there is a reason for that, they are quick and easy to pick up and play, they are often fun even today, and they really try to demonstrate what their respective console was going for. This isn’t the best version of the game ever, but it is playable, and if you get yourself a Super NES Advantage stick, or two, your good to go. This game was not just a staple of 90’s arcades, it was one of those games that got ports across the spectrum of home consoles and was well worth playing, depending on your willingness to adapt.

30. Street Fighter II Turbo

Ignore everything I just said, this is *THE* 16-bit SFII game to get. Ha, had you fanboys going for a second didn’t it. Okay, so most of what I said above is mostly true, this is still the best version of this game available on the Super NES and it’s one of the few good fighting games on the system. Super is better on Genesis, and frankly, just about any system it’s on but Super, and the original is garbage, it is just accept it and move on. But this version is still damn good, for what it is. I had a Genesis and I played SFII SCE and Super SFII all the damn time. When I did get a Super NES I fell for the lies the fanboys told me and bought these games, one by one, trying to recapture the magic of the Sega versions, to no luck. There are different opinions and if you live in a vacuum where you will never own a Sega Genesis, and play only on the Super Nintendo, I guess your 12 years old and it’s 1994 all over again, anyways, then yeah get some SFII games and have fun, but I strongly recommend getting them on anything newer and if you have to play them on a 16-bit console get the Genesis versions, with proper 6-button controls and flip the fanboys a middle finger.

There is my list, sorry if this got heated I just deal with a world that distorted the facts to a twisted reality where Sega always sucked and Super NES was always just assumed to be the best ever. Despite being an honest to god Sega fanboy, again my online handle is segagamer12, and the Genesis was my first home console I ever owned, I do freely admit the Super NES is better, but only by a very slight margin and only because of a couple of games that push it over the top. However, when it comes to fighting games, Genesis is better in almost every instance. You just have to GROW UP and stop talking about the stupid 3-button pad like here in 2017 it’s still the only joystick available for the console.

 

Wonder Woman movie review

I don’t often review current films on here. One of the reasons for that is I don’t actually see very many current films. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them or I am getting too old, I just don’t have the time or the money like I did when I was younger and I am more selective about the films I see. The last movie I went to theaters to watch was Batman v Superman, and I can tell you based on my negative experience with that, I was very skeptical to see this Wonder Woman movie.

I could easily begin cracking jokes about how it was basically just Captain America in drag, but that’s doing the underlying movie a disservice. Plus Captain America was a good movie, just remaking it with a female lead isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Joking aside, the movie was good. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. I bought Batman/Superman on Blu Ray just because I wanted to check out the extended edition and I kind of have to own every Batman movie since he is one of my favorite comic book characters. That being said, I haven’t even opened the movie let alone re-watched it.

I wasn’t that familiar with the WW back story, I knew there are a lot of connections in the DC universe to Greek mythology so that was to be expected. My first complaint though was the need to tell her backstory, which I understand this was the film to do that in, but I hate when they start off with a flashback in a flashback, just get on with the movie. It definitely dragged on longer than I wanted.

The story was pretty good, it was basically at it’s core just a rehash of Captain America: The First Avenger, with a DC twist, so don’t go into this movie expecting more than that. The major differences being the Marvel movie dealt with science and the DC movie dealt with Greek gods, Cap was set in WWII fighting Nazi’s and WW was set in WWI fighting the pre-Nazi Germans. Other than that there were so many scenes taken directly from Cap I thought I was re-watching that movie at times. One thing this movie did better was the character build up, the characters had more heart in this than the Marvel counterpart and I think that made this one more urgent. Also the opening fight when she first reveals herself to the German soldiers was not only done much better than anything in the Marvel movie, it was very emotional for the people verses just fighting for a cause, she wasn’t just fighting to stop evil, there were people’s lives at stake and she cared about the people whereas Cap was about the ideology.

I wish that was were the differences ended but even the final battle just reminded me so much of the Captain America movie, it even involved a sort of super weapon on an war plane that ended very similar to how the Marvel film ended. It wasn’t exactly the same but I saw so many parallels I really thought that DC just took Marvels movie and thought it best to just remake it as close as they could.

The final boss fight was underwhelming for me though. It felt like the banter and the showing off of powers dragged on too long. The villain wasn’t just doing the normal bad guy speech, he was practically quoting a book on how to justify being evil. I won’t spoil the ending or the big reveal, if it even is a big reveal, but at least the villain was more interesting than a stereotypical German scientist trying to create a super weapon for Hitler.

The comedy, or humor if you will, wasn’t bad, much better than anything they did in the previous two films in this now ongoing franchise. Some of it felt a little like you had to read the comics to get, which was kind of a turn off since you didn’t really get enough time with the characters to understand their quips. Especially the secretary. Sure it was a funny line, but a WWI female British secretary makes that kind of comment about her American soldier boss and there wouldn’t have been a smile on his face, she would have been reprimanded. There obviously was some history between the characters, or you are left to assume so, otherwise it smashes your sense of realism. I can accept throwing gods and mutants into historical events but if you throw modern sensibilities it’s not historical anymore, it’s border line offensive and at the very least alternate reality. Of course you have to sort of accept it as an alternate reality but even the comics were a product of their time so I just felt that scene was mishandled, especially with the one a few minutes later reminding the audience how male dominated that society was at the time when Diana interrupts a meeting of the generals.

Minor issues of historical accuracy aside, and I can put some things aside to enjoy a movie easy enough, that was really my only real issue with the film and even that was so minor I only bring it up because I just finished watching Mad Men and had that stuff on my mind. It didn’t bring the film down just was out of place, or at least needed some context in order to make sense.

Moving on, and I don’t want to nitpick the film to death, my only other complaint was the ruse. I understand they had to have a ‘mad scientist’ villain because that’s what you expect when the bad guys are German. However, the scientist character was so out of place in the movie I just didn’t really accept it either. The general that was pulling her strings was a brooding enough villain but the scientist just didn’t have any motivation, or character at all. I also won’t get too into why the Germans hired a disfigured female scientist to develop their secret weapon during male-dominated WWI culture, because I just don’t care if the film makers want to throw any sense of historical accuracy out the window they you just have to go with it.

I know there were there woman scientists, even the Indiana Jones movies had female antagonists serving the “evil Nazi’s,” but they all made sense in the context, this character walked around like she owned the place in a mans world at a time when women did no such thing. They made it sound like she was the most evil and terrifying mad scientist on the planet, but then you never see her do anything to really make you think sure be afraid of this woman. Every time she kills someone, the brooding general is there looking over her shoulder, so I would have thought his reputation as a no morals general willing to use the skills of this woman would be the real story the men would be telling, not how afraid they were of the woman who developed the weapon, but the general who used it. I don’t know I don’t want to sound like a SJW or a ultra right winger, I prefer historical accuracy and those two things bothered me. The rest of the movie was great. Again neither of them brought it down but what the hell they were on my mind and worth bringing up.

All that aside I enjoyed the movie and if my only complaints are minor nitpicks then I can get passed them and enjoy the rest of the film. Overall the story was good, the special effects were good, the characters weren’t entirely developed but they served a purpose and it all fit together nicely. It wasn’t good enough to erase my dislike of the previous two films, so I am still not sold on the upcoming Justice League movie, but it was, so far, the best standalone super hero movie DC/Warner Bros. has made since The Dark Knight, which was almost ten years ago. Overall I give the movie a 5/5 there wasn’t anything that really made me dislike the movie, it was emotional it had good action and it really only had minor things that a history buff like me would nitpick which bother me but every movie has those things so they don’t reduce my enjoyment just stick out in my mind. That said it’s a good movie, I think easily the best movie in the trilogy so far and from what I have seen might end up being the best film DC puts out in this ill-fated attempt to cash in on Marvel’s success.

 

30 Sega Carts to start up your collection right

I did a similar post about the NES recently and now this is my stab at naming 30 Sega Genesis carts a new collector might consider getting started with. I will try to venture off the beaten path, this isn’t a list of the top 30 games, or even a list of hidden gems, just a good, well-rounded assortment of games to pick up and get a good start. Also I am numbering these to keep track of how many are on the list, these are not ranked in order of important.

1. Sonic 2

For most collectors and gamers alike, if you are thinking about getting into Sega you need to start with Sonic games. Everyone has their opinion and this list will reflect mine so this is the one I recommend up front. This has a very great single player campaign more with an optional 2-player experience if you know how to do it right and work as a team. However the real fun is in the 2-player split screen competition mode. Everyone has that game they could get their parents to play who weren’t exactly gamers, 2-player competition Sonic 2 was our families entry point for family fun. I think it holds up especially well with today’s “speedrun” culture so it’s worth checking out, plus it still has a pseudo-3D special stage to connect the retro with the modern.

2. X-Men

You will want a brawler or “beat-em-up” right off the bat. The 16-bit era was the golden age of arcade fighting games and X-Men is a great example of how to bring that action to the home screen and make it exceptional. Unlike typical arcade brawlers though, this game has a lot going for it. It’s actually more of an action game than a straight bean-em-up, but it’s a lot of fun. You get to explore the most popular scenes from X-Men lore, facing their more well-known enemies with a roster that samples some of the  best members the X-Men have ever had. The game is great. However, there is a trick to it, in order to beat the game you do have to know the right moment to hit the reset button in order to progress and not everyone is going to know that up front. I highly recommend this as a great 2-player and single player action game with fun characters to explore. It is done in the style of the fondly remembered X-Men animated series that ran on Fox in the 90’s so it’s got a double-dose of nostaglia and cool factor going for it.

3. Shinobi 3

On the surface, like Sonic, you could make a case for any of the three Shinobi titles on the console. However, unlike Sonic, I push heavily for the third installment over the others. All games are fantastic but this one just took everything that was great from the previous and upped the ante by about 1000 percent. The action is immediate, urgent, and very heart-pounding from the moment you turn the cart on, the music itself gets you pumped up and ready to start busting your ninja moves to fight the evil criminal monster makers this game throws at you. The horse riding and jetski levels add an extra layer of variety that make the game even more exciting. Ninja Gaiden on NES is a great Ninja game, Shinobi 3 is a fantastic follow through to damn near perfection. The game is the right blend of hard and fun, with varying degrees of difficult options to help you find your perfect game play style.

4. Turrican

If you are going into the Genesis library from the perspective of a SNES fan or gamer, Turrican might be a good starting point. It has some of the Metroid style level and power ups, it has some bullet hail action common in shooters and it has the robot/sci-fi action of any good arcade game from the era. It is basically the perfect storm. This game is also HARD, you think NES hard is a thing, oh no, this takes NES hard and maxes it out. The game can be easy if you use a handy little cheat, but the enemies are non-stop, respawn at the worst place, there are sudden death traps all over and the grand boss battles really remind you of what a boss battle in an action game was supposed to feel like. The game was inspired heavily by Metroid, and it shows. There are other ports out there, some better some worse, but this is a list of Genesis games and the Sega port is a fine entry in the series. Again like above, there are other Turrican games, three total technically, on the Genesis so you are free to explore the library and find more action to keep you entertained. I still enjoy going back to this one the most, especially the music it’s just great fun. I do remember the cheat code, and any NES Contra fan will attest, in some games the cheat code really just makes the game playable, as is the case here.

5. Mortal Kombat

The war between Nintendo and Sega was a blood conflict, and it all started right here with the first volley into the battlefield of violent video games. Sega brought video games to the masses more than Nintendo in many ways, at least to the collective consciousness of the larger public. This game spawned lawsuits and Congressional hearings, leading all the way to the creation of a rating system in place today. Oh and it happens to be a GREAT port of a FUN arcade fighting game. The move set still holds up, the graphics are still passable, for the most part, and the characters and fatalities are as memorable as ever. This is also *THE* game to force you into picking up a 6-Button controller, and it is so worth it. Some criticize it for not being too faithful to the arcade, at least by today’s standards. Well duh, it was released on inferior hardware, but that was common. If Contra or TMNT for NES get a free pass, why does MK for Sega get so much flack? The graphics are mostly the same or at least close enough, all of the levels are there, the minor graphical differences are just that, minor, and the gameplay is spot on plus the music is actually much better in the Sega version, making it a very worthy purchase for a Sega collector even to this day. I can’t, and won’t say that about the subsequent entries in the series, but MK 1 is worth buying and playing today.

6. Toe Jam and Earl: Panic on Funkotron

Stop it right now, I know you are screaming at the computer telling me this game sucks play the original. Slow down, here me out. First, duh, everyone knows the original is a classic, and yes, everyone knows Sega was not very well known for their platformers, but chill dudes, this is still a top notch platformer with great level design, fun characters, an entertaining and humorous story, and it’s one of the brightest and most colorful games on the Genesis. If you were looking for a uniquely Sega game that also felt Nintendo enough then this is it. The game is fun, and the challenge is great and the 2-player mode requires full cooperation of both parties if you want to make any real progress.

7. Biohazard Battle

I will get this off my chest before I move forward. Those people who “claim” the Turbo Graphix-16 is the “best” console for arcade shooters (shoot-em-ups or shmups) are either lying, or have been lied to. Just by sheer numbers alone the Genesis beats the TG-16. I mean there were a grand total of 21 shooters for Turbo, you can bring that up to the mid 30’s if you add Turbo CD, and yes they were ALL great games, but Genesis has 50+ shooters, and among them is this amazing gem of a game. While not every shooter is golden, this game is great. It has 4 ships, each organic in nature, has a lot of imagery to nuclear war and alien invasions, and the levels get progressively more difficult with the weapons and bosses increasing in intensity at each stage. Oh and as any Sega fan with gladly point out to those Nintendo fanboys, despite the so-called limitations of the hardware, the music in this game is FANTASTIC. This is easily one of the top tier, hidden gem arcade style shooters you will ever discover. Are there better shooters on the console, oh sure, but this game is totally worth buying a Genesis for if nothing else. That doesn’t mean Turbo is not a GREAT console for shooter fans, but come on, it’s got nothing on the Genesis and this game proves that.

8. Cool Spot

I will keep this short, this game is the definitive platforming game based on a licensed non-Disney character. Sure that’s a lot of qualifiers but this game is fun. Sure it is also on SNES but we are focused on Sega right now. Anyways pick it up its fun, its cheap and yeah not perfect still a great game to get started.

9. Bubba N Stix

I won’t spend a lot of time on each game, and here on out I am going to move pretty quick, but this game is just a good blend of 90’s weirdness, Sega coolness, and platforming goodness. It’s not the greatest platformer ever, but it’s a good time nonetheless.

10. D&D Warriors of the Eternal Sun

There are not that many great RPG’s on the console. As a D&D fan, I always recommend this game to anyone collecting for the Sega. It’s not a traditional JRPG it blends elements of both western and Eastern style gameplay and features some pretty good customization based on one of the better rulesets of the game. It’s fun, and a good action RPG to get you started.

11. Sonic Spinball

Once again not to take a “dig” at Turbo fans who brag about the “awesome” pinball games on their console but Sega has you beat with this gem. Take pinball action with multiple boards, multi level boards, mix it with sci-fi themed Sonic, throw in some platforming and amazing 90’s techno inspired music and you got yourself a good time. ‘Nuff Said.

12. Raiden Trad

Keep this quick, a great arcade port of a fun shooter game. It’s a fun game with a lot of action to keep the shmup fans happy and it plays well enough for a Sega game.

13. Decap Attack

Now if you want a quirky game that really shows how different from Nintendo Sega was, this is the place to start. The main character throws his head at enemies, really it’s a lot of fun. It has a very early 90’s vibe and plays quite well for a platformer. It’s a good game all around.

14. Comix Zone

I would be burned at the stake if I mentioned Genesis games and didn’t bring this up. It’s plays into the X-Men/comic book vibe Sega was really great at in the 90’s. Hell, even in the later years their consoles were well known for having fantastic super-hero themed games. This is no exception. Best of all, it’s completely original and hard as hell while remaining fun to play at the same time. Pick it up, I can’t say more good things about it than what is already out there.

15. Disney’s Aladdin

Hey Nintendo fanboys, you want to talk about the awesome Disney afternoon games on your NES, okay good for you those cute little 8-bit games sure were fun, when I was 8. Now, let me show you a real game, oh and it’s Disney and based on one of the greatest animated films of all time. Everyone knows the Sega version of Disney’s Aladdin is *THE* version of Aladdin to get, so I am not teaching you anything new. But seriously if you buy a Sega console to game or collect and you wait too long to get this game, you lose all your gamer cred.

16. Thunderforce/Lightning Force

These games are all good, I won’t force you to pick which one is the best, grab the first one you come across that is within your budget and enjoy more proof Sega was *THE* shmup fans dream console, not the Turbo what’sitcalled.

17. Joe Montana Sports Talk Football

I am not a huge sports fan but every collector knows they have to have that one sports game to show off, and if you have a Sega console, this is probably it. Moving on.

18. Boogerman

I used to go into a video game store with my sister all the time. There was one employee there who no matter what console you were looking for he would always say, have you played Boogerman yet? He wasn’t wrong in how much he hyped this game. Sure, I already had it and if you want to get into Sega collecting you might as well pick it up first chance you get, it’s pretty good and really captures the whole spirit of the console, well the 90’s in general.

19. Clayfighter

This is another one that falls under the quirky category of games. Basically it’s a stop motion animated arcade style 1 on 1 fighting game. Is it the best fighting game on the system, not by a long shot, but it will look damn nice sitting on your shelf and it makes for a great conversation piece.

20. Spider-Man

There are a few different Spider-Man games on the console, this one is just titled Spider-Man no subtitle. It’s loosely based on the animated cartoon, and has some similarities to the Sega CD counterpart. In this game you are Spidey, armed with his spider-powers, and his trust camera that he uses to sell photos to earn money to buy extra equipment. It has a learning curve but once you get the hang of it this wall-crawling action platformer is sure to make your spider senses tingle with joy.

21. Gunstar Heroes

Tell the Nintendo Fanboys they can keep their umpteenth Contra sequel/knock off while you sit back and have a blast shooting down enemies with some of the best run n gun action you will ever come across outside of a Neo Geo. This game captures the spirit of something like a Metal Slug while offering a grounded Contra-esque experience. Sure you could just go for the (not lame) Contra Hard Corps anyways, but any self respecting Sega fan will tell you Gunstar Heroes is where it’s at.

22. Ghouls N Ghosts

Yes it was a launch title. Yes it was a sequel to a (fantastic) NES game, and yes it’s HARD as hell, but you know what, I am almost certain that if you are brand new getting into Sega collecting you will find no better game than this to pick up and get you into the awesome 16-bit mood. Sure there is the (superior) Super Ghosts N Goblins on SNES, which if you have a Super Nintendo get that game too, but this is all about Sega and this arcade style classic is sure to keep you coming back for more. The levels are fun, the bosses battles are challenging, the atmosphere is dark and the music is great for getting you pumped for action.

23. Columns

Everyone is going to tell you get Sonic, get Altered Beast, and get Columns. I am going to tell you get Sonic 2, and get Columns. Columns is a simple, but fun and addicting puzzle game. There aren’t that many good puzzle games on the system unfortunately and Columns is one of the best, it’s a great common game so it won’t break the bank, and it’s a good pick up and play casual game to try to get your friends into the Sega experience. The music is also very good, it will put you in a trance but that’s okay.

24. Streets of Rage 2

Skip 1, wait to get 3 when you are good and ready and just dive into one of, if not the best, 16-bit arcade-style brawlers ever made. This game is just too much fun, the music is just fantastic, the action is great, the levels are perfectly designed and the boss battles are just the right mix of fun and challenge. This is the definitive arcade beat-em-up and it’s exclusive to Sega Genesis* (Or the Genesis Rom is available on various compilations but it was never released in arcades)

25. Vectorman

I wasn’t going to pick too many obvious choices at the same time I wanted to stay away from too many of the “hidden gems” that are probably too expensive or hard to find. Instead I wanted to focus just on getting you a decent collection of games relatively quickly and your first 30 games for Genesis absolutely must include Vectorman. This is Sega action at it’s peak. The graphics are top notch, the music is fantastic, the level design and boss battles, sounds familiar? Sega actually did make GREAT games during the 16-bit era, in fact they made such great games that this honestly explains why despite their total suckage these days, they still have such a devoted fanbase, because hey even if they never make a game as great as Vectorman again, at least they made this one for the world to enjoy, and hell they did us a solid and made a sequel too. Just shut up and buy this game already.

26. Virtua Racing

Nintendo has their F/X Chip, Sega gas their SVP chip. Now Nintendo went on to release a good number of F/X games, Sega released just one for their SVP chip. Fortunately for gamers, and unfortunately for Sega investors, they topped Nintendo by forgoing the expensive chip and replaced it with the, much maligned, Sega 32X add-on. Now I would highly recommend just getting a 32X, but until you are ready for that, or if you decide to stick to the basics, fine but at the very least get this game. The arcade original was a game changer and yes it actually won awards and accolades. Is this version fun, you bet your ass it is. Sure it is clunky by today’s standards, hell it was clunky by the standards of the time, but it’s a great demonstration of what they were trying to do, demonstrates that Nintendo weren’t the only ones desperate to beef up their console with some 3D graphics, oh and it’s actually a fun racing game. Also if you are into collecting, which these guides are aimed at collectors, you KNOW you want this beast of a cartridge sitting on your shelf for your gamer friends to stare at. Yes you do, we know you do.

27. Super Street Fighter II

Did you honestly think I, a devoted Fighting game fanatic and self proclaimed Sega nerd (seriously my handle online is Segagamer12) was going to not mention *the* fighting game of fighting games? Well think again. Shut your Nintendo fanboy friends up with a good 6-button pad and a copy of the best 16-bit version of SF2 in existence, and yes this one is actually better in every way to the SNES counterpart, especially if you have the 6-button pad, or hell a REAL gamer/collector would even have a 6-button arcade stick so there you go pick this up and show off that HELL YEAH the Genesis blast processing was good for more than just shooting blue rodents through rollercoaster-like loop-d-loops. This is the definitive cartridge version of this arcade classic that to this day continues to impact the gaming world. Hell the Switch is itself getting a port of this game, okay the Arcade game, but it’s still proof that at one time Capcom knew how to make some of the very best games on the planet. Hyperbole and fanboyism aside, this is a great version of the game.

28. Mutant League Hockey

Sega were the MASTERS of making sports games back in the 90’s, in fact they were more known for their SEGA SPORTS branding than E.A Sports was in the later half of the decade. Their hockey games are among the best of the best and while they didn’t actually make this game, in fact it was Electronic Arts, the fact that the console is so known for it’s hockey games is pretty much common knowledge. This is also a great example of a 90’s theme that was done well, monsters and mutants. This game is probably one of the most fun sports titles and non sports titles on the console. Before EA became the butt of many jokes, they were one of the most respected developers on the Sega platform that we all know and love.

29. Garfield Caught in the Act

So you got your Cool Spot do you? Good. Got your Sonic 2 and your Decap Attack? Fine. And of course you got your Disney’s Aladdin. Now if you want a really fun game starring everyone’s favorite furball then this is it. No it’s not a great game by any stretch of the imagination. But it is a great character, it has some great ideas and hell it’s not the normal boring old Golden Axe or Altered Beast everyone else is recommending. Seriously you are going to get those games but don’t you want your Genesis collection to stand out from the crowd? I mean if everyone bought the same 25 games life would get pretty boring. And I know I already throw enough of the super common picks everyone is going to suggest, with good reason of course. No this game belongs in your collection because it’s different, while familiar at the same time. This game tried what Gex perfect on the next generation of consoles. It’s not entirely bad, some people like it but it’s nothing more than an average platformer, which to be honest isn’t even all bad as platformers are the true appeal of the 16-bit era of gaming anyways.

30. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. This is a great game. Also I am sure I have mentioned by now I am a HUGE fighting game fan and while I could suggest something else that isn’t another fighting game, seriously come on now you want to get some games that others are going to shake their head at. This is a one on one arcade style fighting game with monsters and levels taken directly from the show. The play mechanics are simple, it’ actually a very easy game, nothing special but you get that Go Go Power Rangers tune stuck in your head while playing and that alone should get your pumped up for a few minutes.

I didn’t want to just recommend the same old games everyone does, but I also didn’t want to dig too deep into the obscure. I tried to pick games that were iconic for the time yet would be great talking points for a Genesis collector to point to and give their friends something to be in awe of. Maybe there are better lists of games out there, this is by no means comprehensive it’s just a jumping off point, but a good list of games to get you started. And there you have it, a good set of Sega 16-bit carts to get your going.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

ARMS:Global Test Punch:IMPRESSIONS

H2x1_NSwitch_Arms

 

This past weekend Nintendo sent out a free demo for Nintendo Switch users to try to test the  game’s impact on servers, they called the timed demo a Global Test Punch. This was the same approach they took to their last e-sports contender, Splatoon, for Wii U a couple of years ago. I missed the Splatoon Global Test Fire, although I did end up buying the game anyways. I managed to get in on the ARMS test punch two different times this weekend, the first was on Friday and again on Saturday. I didn’t bother trying again on Sunday, I already had my fill and learned all I needed about the game.

First, I went in like everyone else, on even footing having no experience. I was playing with the Joy Con’s attached to the tablet as I refuse to play any game using motion controls these days. I won my first 5 matches in a row and was feeling pretty good about myself. I am not a competitive online gamer at ALL. I despise the online atmosphere, the trash talking, the way competitive gamers take their games way to seriously, so I normally only tryout a new online game the first day or so and move on. If a game requires online only play or doesn’t have a significant offline single player mode, that game is not for me. I do, however, love fighting games. But I want a good campaign more, or arcade ladder mode I can play against a CPU opponent, I want the option for a multiplayer mode for when I am in the mood, but I am a loner I play games for the experience, not to socialize. With that out of the way I went in the test punch using it as a demo to try the game out, not as a way to actually be competitive. Needless to say I said I was either going to play just a few rounds, or if I was on a winning streak quite once I lost.

I played through the little introduction level, beat up the bot character, learning the basic controls. I went into the game handicapped against motion control players, at least according to some commentators I watched online. This turned out to not be true on Friday, when everyone was starting out with no practice, I did okay, won 5 in a row and I was having a blast. I was able to play the different modes as the demo just picks random modes and throws you in, which I liked for the purposes of a demo/beta test but if the real game is like that, I might get bored of it.

Impressions:

arms

Controls:

I didn’t try the motion controls on day one, I learned the buttons and I thought the controls were perfect. It reminded me of Smash Bros. very simple pick up and play mechanics, with enough depth for the competitive gamers to really get serious, while being accessible enough for a mostly casual playing gamer like myself. Not that I am a casual gamer, far from it, but I play more casually in my style. In fact, the only game I am good enough to be competitive in is Mortal Kombat, and the first time I tried that online my perfect winning streak was demolished and I never went back.

The controls are basic, punch, guard, jump, dash, power shot, grab, not much to it. I didn’t try the different weapons I stuck to the default boxing gloves. I was playing exclusively with Ribbon Girl, which I suspect will continue to be the case as I just gravitated towards her and immediately felt natural playing has this character in this game. She has a neat double-jump coupled with some really basic moves that I was able to pull off with ease. I honestly didn’t even bother trying the other characters I just stuck with Ribbon Girl the whole time. I might sample other fighters once I get the full game but for the Test Punch I was fine with sticking to one character for familiarity sake.

The game does play similar to Wii boxing in some ways but is much improved and a ton more fun. I did try the motion controls on day two but I didn’t get to replay the tutorial to learn the basics so I went in blind, wasn’t able to get my character to do anything as I was pounced upon very quickly and couldn’t take even a second to learn the controls. I quickly went back to using the Joy Cons and felt very comfortable. I only played the first day for about 10 minutes out of the 1 hour long demo so I was not at all prepare on day two for how already advanced the other fighters were. I supposed if I had spent the entire hour on Friday getting good at the game like most people I might have stood a greater chance, but over all I lost too much time and all the things that worked on day one the fighters were countering with tricks and moves I couldn’t even figure out.

Graphics:

spring man

I like art style of this game and the colors. It does remind  me of Splatoon quite a bit, which I fell in love with just based on the style before the game even launched. I enjoyed this game’s art direction very much. It felt like being inside a Saturday morning cartoon fighting other cartoon characters. This is Nintendo at their best, which is why they hire artists to create games and not engineers. Needless to say I enjoyed the graphics tremendously. It had a sort of retro Game Cube look at times, and yes I am kind of taken aback that I am calling GameCube retro, but that is the case so fine.

Characters:

Arms-Trailers_02-10-17

Before the demo went live I watched the goofy little Nintendo Direct dedicated to the game where it introduced all of the characters that would be playable for the demo. I don’t remember all of their names but the anime looking spring boy and Ribbon Girl were the two that I immediately thought I would try. I picked Ribbon Girl for the two day demo so I decided to just stick with her. I might try the other characters once it launches but just from playing against them I got the feeling there isn’t a lot of depth to these characters at the moment, which is good in a way because some Nintendo characters getting tired I was ready for Nintendo to introduce some new characters. With that in mind, I can imagine these characters as a part of the official Nintendo cannon of characters. Just like the Inklings in Splatoon, these characters have a very distinct Nintendo feel to them and I am perfectly happy welcoming them into the ever expanding Nintendo family.

Game play:

I touched on this a little with the controls. The game is very accessible like most Nintendo games. The controls are simple and intuitive enough anyone can pick up and start playing, while deep and varied enough for the pros to really latch on and find plenty of ways to play.

I really liked the 4 player brawl, the 3 player free for all, the 1 on 1 matches the most. I didn’t care for the volleyball much, I won every watch so it was easy to pick up and play but I didn’t enjoy it. I also hated the 2 on 2 tethered mode. Mostly because you were tethered to a player with inferior skills, my partners usually died quickly leaving me to carry the match against 2 people who were bashing me endlessly. In 3 player free for all it’s easy to switch back and forth between the two, gang up on one character and once the other guy is in the groove, turn your attention to bashing them. I won every 3 player match I was in so this was by far my most favorite mode in terms of winning. I was 50-50 in 1 on 1 matches, I won mostly early on when everyone was starting out, but I started losing day 2 after I came back with little practice. That being said, I loved it, the gameplay was spot on and a total blast.

Overall thoughts:

I learned enough to know I am going to be playing this game a lot. I do enjoy Smash Bros. from time to time and I can pick up a Mario Kart every once in a while, but this game felt natural to me, like it was the type of game I had been waiting for Nintendo to make. Between this and Splatoon, I think Nintendo finally has enough of a strong catalog of new IP and characters to bring in a whole new audience while bringing back their loyalists like myself.

Confession, I had so much fun playing this I couldn’t wait for release so I already pre-ordered my copy from Amazon Prime. It is supposed to be waiting for me on my door step on release day. I honestly think this is going to be the big sleeper hit Nintendo was needing to ensure the future success of the Switch. I was skeptical at first thinking it was just another attempt to bring back the Wii gamers. Not so, sure most people will be playing with motion controls, but I am glad to say that the basic button controls are good enough to be able to enjoy the game on their own. Once I get the full release in my hands I might try motion controls once more just to see how I feel once I can try the tutorial with them, but for now I am happy to say this game is a blast and I highly recommend it to anyone with a Switch and say to those who don’t, buy a Switch and get this game.

switch

 

 

“You are all my children now.”

In the 1980’s there was a trifecta of different styles all blending together in a perfect storm of outrageous thematic elements that would soon dominate the entire fringe culture, and even cross into mainstream. Going a decade back the roots of this movement were beginning with the rise of the Dungeons and Dragons tabletop RPG game. The theme was medieval fantasy. It had firmly taken hold of video game culture by the middle of the decade with games such as Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Ghosts N Goblins, Gauntlet, and even Castlevania taking the horror/fantasy genre to mainstream status. On the music side bands like Alice Cooper, Dio, KISS, and many others, were using D&D, horror, fantasy, and medieval art mixed with Gothic imagery. While Hollywood itself was slow to jump on the bandwagon, indie filmmakers like George Lucas, Stephan Spielberg, Jim Henson, and John Carpenter were all making variations of this theme. And best of all they blended together perfectly. Horror movies would reference D&D usually with a gamer depicted or borrow heavily from medieval mythologies, while having a strong heavy-metal soundtrack, which in turn contained lyrics that referenced D&D either directly or indirectly often as the horror movies would. So if you were a fan of medieval fantasy, Gothic imagery and music that told stories set in these thematic worlds, then the mid-to-late 80’s was your decade.

During this time nothing blended these three elements together better than Wes Craven’s Gothic horror masterpiece “A Nightmare o Elm Street.” While the first film itself doesn’t really contain too much in the way of medieval fantasy, it does have a very strong fantasy component, the music is very fitting for the mood, plus it also contains some of that D&D-esque metal rock sprinkled in to ensure it hit all of the notes. In some ways the movie is a murder mystery, you know almost  detective noir-style with Nancy trying to solve the mystery of the masked villain killing her friends one-by-one. It also has a little bit of Gothic horror with Freddy acting as a zombie, a vampire, and a serial killer all while tormenting his victims not with his own dastardly schemes, but using their own fears against them. In some ways it is also a psychological thriller.

The film opens with an abstract scene in the basement of some factory or plant with an unseen man crafting a glove containing sharp razors as extensions of the fingers. Immediately the tone of the film is set, the killer is unseen, hiding in the shadows, nobody knows who, or what, he is or why he is killing these seemingly random teenagers. During the course of the film there are references to Shakespeare, including a quote from Julius Cesar about nightmares, fitting as in the play he dreamed of his demise before it happened, much like the victims in the film.

I won’t spoil the movie for those who haven’t seen it. I am not under the impression that just because it is old everyone knows what takes place, I will say anyone that has any interest in mythology, fantasy, horror, vampires, zombies, the undead, D&D, or heavy metal music should check out the entire franchise. Each film has it’s own strengths and weaknesses.

The sequel, often criticized but still worth watching, goes in a different direction. Instead of a murder mystery where the kids are trying to survive by figuring out who the killer is and how to defeat him, part two, subtitled as “Freddy’s Revenge,” takes on a more haunted house, possession story line. Again it has some moments fans cringe at but it also has a few of the iconic moments that the franchise is well known for. There is even scene that takes place inside of a Gothic night club, further tying the franchise into this whole theme.

Of course if you really want proof the Nightmare films are really D&D-inspired look no further than the third entry. Regarded by many, myself included, as the best in the franchise second only to the original to some, it’s a masterpiece in many ways and proof that a sequel can outdo the original. But there are so many more D&D elements and fantasy themes in this movie. For starters the subtitle is now “The Dream Warriors.” It centers on the survivors of the previous two films, the “Last of the Elm Street teenagers.” something you just have to watch the movies to understand. It also features a kid who prominently plays D&D in the movie, even going so far as having an actual scene depicting, fairly accurately unlike most movies, a portion of game play. In the dream world however things get weirder, this character becomes a wizard with super powers and another character takes on a Gothic/Punk look even meeting Freddy face to face in an alley. There is an Alice in Wonderland feel to the third installment, a D&D type maze/dungeon at the end where they come together as a team, a cleric type, a sage type, a fighter type, and even the silent stealthy bard/thief type, who all have to face the final boss, Freddy, at the end to win the treasure, their right to live, and go back to living normal lives at the end of their mythic quest. It truly is the one film in the series the most similar to an actual game of Dungeons and Dragons, from the very opening scene to the very end credits. It even brings in a fleshed out back story and mythology to the character and his origins are explored in a very medieval Catholic mythology sort of way.

Part four sort of keeps the notion of dream powers, introduces new concepts like the Dream Master, the films subtitle, and ends in a final battle with a new powered up girl in a church where at the end she ends up well I won’t spoil it but it’s very much in line with the theme I been repeating.

Part 5 and 6 are where the franchise takes a turn for the worse. Number 5, the Dream Child, is more of a comic book movie, Freddy is even depicted as a comic book villain and his nemesis is his own mother, resurrected to take him back to hell or something I guess. The movie has a more action movie, comic book vibe and style to it. In some ways that is refreshing, in other ways it can be off putting. Part six is, to put it bluntly, a parody of the franchise. It’s basically a Warner Bros. cartoon making fun of the whole concept, and yes it even features Bugs Bunny and Wizard of Oz references and heavily relies on the 3-D gimmick. It does flesh out the mythology quite well, and features a really great cameo by the dark master himself, Alice Cooper, again really mixing the themes in a way that ensures fans will find something to enjoy. It’s the worst of the films by most accounts but still worth watching for a few things, those cameos and back story plus a surprise I won’t spoil.

Part 7, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, gets back to the Gothic horror theme by basically putting Freddy into the Hansel and Gretel story. There isn’t much else to say it’s almost a remake/reboot of the original film with a twist but it’s one of the scarier films in the series, still worth checking out. I won’t go into either Freddy Vs. Jason or the 2010 Remake as they both stray so far from the original their best left in their own world. I enjoyed them each, in their own way, but neither of them live up to the source material. Freddy vs. Jason is made for the Playstation crowd and the remake was too dark and had no ties to the fantasy mythology that the original had. Worse of all, it wasn’t even about a child murderer freed on a technicality, it was a sick perverted child molester that had no motive for murdering his victims in their dream world, which also had no fantasy elements at all, instead it was trying too hard to be dark an edgy where it really just ended up being creepy and uncomfortable.

What can I say, I enjoy Gothic music and themes, I play Dungeons and Dragons extensively and I thoroughly enjoy the fantasy-themed horror series of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Netflix recently added the original film to its streaming service, Part 2 and New Nightmare had been there before but they are not the actual best movies, the first and 3rd films are really the two to watch. Part 4 is pretty good, 5 and 6 are laughable but somewhat entertaining and the rest are different degrees of bad or too dark for my taste.

I also really enjoyed the documentary on Netflix “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy” that really delved deep into the behind the scenes of the movies.

My personal ranking, with scores, best to worst:

  1. A Nightmare On Elm Street 5/5
  2. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors 5/5
  3. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master 4.5/5
  4. Freddy vs. Jason 4/5
  5. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child 3.5/5
  6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge 3.5/5
  7. A Nightmare on Elm Street 6: Freddy’s Dead, The Final Nightmare 3.5/5
  8. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) remake 3.5/5
  9. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare 3/5

Since I consider both New Nightmare and 2010 to be remakes, I prefer the full on reboot over the half-baked soft reboot. I know others will disagree but I just never cared for the breaking the fourth wall and taking Freddy into the “real” world making everything that came before just a movie, inside of a movie, too meta for my tastes.

There you have it, my general thoughts on the Freddy Krueger character and the films he appears in.

2Pac: All Eyez On Me, a look back.

If you follow hip-hop, or rap music, as it is known by the mainstream, then you have heard the name 2Pac before. The man is a legend in the music industry. Does he really deserve so much attention?

The year is 1999, the setting is a small town in Nevada you never heard of and probably don’t care about anyways. I was hanging out with my friend “Izzy” one day talking about our favorite rappers. He excitedly showed me his latest acquisition, a copy of the 2-disc set “All Eyez On Me” by the recently deceased 2Pac. The record sold millions of copies, launched Death Row Records into a house hold name along side names like Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and many others, and the music video to “California Love” brought gangsta rap to the forefront of MTV. Everyone knows the story, the myth, the legend of 2Pac.

I sat there in my car with my friend listening to this musical masterpiece that only further cemented my appreciate for the art of hip-hop and more specifically the street wise gangsta rap. I was just a teenager hanging out with a friend who had an unhealthy obsession with the late 2Pac. I had already heard a handful of tracks from the album over the years since it was released, namely those that had music videos and aired on MTV, so I was already somewhat familiar with the artist. Nothing could prepare me for what I sat through during those next few hours while we replayed our favorite tracks over, and over again.

When I first discovered gangsta rap it was in the form that many of us first were exposed to, Doggystyle, by Snoop Doggy Dogg. That record had a mix of traditional hip-hop beats that I had already grown accustomed to, with a new style of street rap that was completely unlike anything I had ever heard before. While I wasn’t immediately drawn to the whole theme of gangsta rap initially, I continued to experience more pop friendly hip-hop in the form of Beastie Boys, Fresh Prince, MC Hammer, and even the newly arrived Kris Kross. So for me I was into the music more than the story telling. With Doggystyle this remained the case, I did pick up a few other “G-Funk” records along the way namely Warren G’s “Regulate…G-Funk Era,” Coolio’s tamer but still hardcore “Gangsta’s Paradise,” and “Murder Was the Case” the soundtrack to a movie I didn’t even know was a real movie. So by the time I discovered “All Eyez On Me” I had already gotten over the gangsta rap genre.

All of that changed when I listened to that double CD set. This was the first time that I could listen to a gangsta rap CD and not just listen to the beats, I listened to the stories, the messages, the illustrations he was painting. I still appreciated the music, I very much enjoy the smooth melodies of the G-Funk style and the hard hitting beats of hip-hop in general. The record had me convinced I should give the whole gangsta rap scene a second look. Now to be fair my interest in rap music runs deep, I enjoy pretty much all of the old school stuff with few exceptions. Still I was able to listen to the stories 2Pac told and actually care about what was being said for the first time. Maybe I was too young to even get the references the first time I heard Doggystyle, but the first time I heard 2Pac “Ambitions as a Ridah”, “Can’t C Me”, “Shorty Wanna Be A Thug”, “Only God Can Judge Me”, and the list goes on and on, I began to really understand what those “G’z” were rapping about for the first time.

It goes without saying that 2Pac is one of the greatest rappers of all time. So if you do enjoy hip-hop music at all, especially the streetwise Gangsta Rap, then you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of All Eyez On Me. It is hand’s down the definitive “Gangsta rap” album. Listening to it today does more than remind me of how far we have come as a society, considering who is occupying the White House today, it also takes me back to my own somewhat troubled, or well confused is the better term, youth. We all have skeletons in the closet and many of mine can be traced back to that fateful day “THE RAT” was born bobbing his head in that car listening to 2Pac tell his hoe she “wonder why they call you bitch.”

1999 was an awakening for my passion of the hip-hop music, it was the same year I picked up Eminem’s Marshall Mather’s LP, which is a story for another day, and it was the year I attempted to make my first rap record. I somewhat succeeded in making my first single, a long forgotten dub I made using a hacked together dual cassette tape player, a pair of broken record players that didn’t spin and had to use a tiny nail for a needle, and a whole bunch of RCA cables strung out together. If there hadn’t ever been a 2Pac pairing up with the aforementioned Snoop on “2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted” then “THE RAT” might not have ever been a thing.

I can’t tell you what the world would have been like without 2Pac but I can tell you what my life would have been like, completely different than it turned out to be.  I sit back and listen to those tracks today and I remember a time when Sega, Mountain Dew, and Nickelodeon were all that mattered to me. Today it makes me glad that the road I took has led me to where I am, and where I am going. 2Pac said it best in one of my favorite tracks from the album, “Look to my future cause my past, is all behind me.” The fact the man died shortly after the records release just makes the words in many of his songs that much more powerful.

Sim Town for PC- Thoughts and impressions.

I have always enjoyed playing Sim City, it has and always will be one of my favorite games of all time. Recently I began wondering why there wasn’t a Sim Town and so I did a Google search and discovered there in fact already was one. It was released on Super NES as Sim City Jr. a game I never play because it is entirely in Japanese and my current reading level is no where comprehensive enough to play a text heavy  game. I managed to fumble my way through Zelda Famicom but that was pretty easy as I have played Zelda NES numerous times already.

So what did I want in a Sim Town game that Sim City didn’t already offer? Partially the ability to control exactly what types of businesses, houses, and buildings are placed was a big thing. Sim Town offers just that level of customization. There is a down side, the game is targeted towards younger children and has a tone that even as a Nintendo fan I find too primitive for my tastes. Still I am having some fun with the game but I can’t help wishing there was a more robust version of this sort of game. I want the level of sophistication and complexities of a proper Sim City, I just want to be able to create a small town, suburban feel if I want rather than focusing entirely on Metropolis sized mega-cities. I want to still have the ability to play Sim City the traditional way too. I just would like the option of building a small town where I decide to build a bowling alley or a grocery store instead of just deciding to make a square Residential or Commercial.

Truth be told I haven’t tried any of the modern Sim City games, the newest one I have is Sim City 2000 and that is 2 decades old at this point. I have contemplated trying the newest Sim City game but I have yet to find the time, money, or motivation, to get around to it.

My initial impression of Sim Town was, despite the obvious decision to dumb down the game to make it more “kid-friendly” I really enjoy the level of control over what exact type of buildings you get to create. I also like that you get to read the bios of individual sims and this aspect has me interested in trying one of the proper Sims games. I honestly never have gotten around to trying a Sims game, mostly because as a hard core, traditional gamer I find them to be too casual focused for my general tastes. Well as I have aged my gaming preferences have changed with me and I found that I still enjoy Sim City more and more each year so one think Sim Town did was open my up to the idea of trying out one of the modern Sims games and then looking into a newer Sim City game as well. Money is tight as is time so I am not sure which direction I will go from here all I can say is if I was fifteen years younger I might really enjoy Sim Town more. Right now it just makes me wish I was playing a proper game with similar features. If you have a young child and want to introduce them to the Sim City style of play this is an obvious choice, just keep in mind there is some tricks you will have to do to make it playable on a modern computer, unless you go the browser route which I refuse to do.