Been a while. Here’s something new. 100% metal. Live drums this time too. \m/
Edit: I re-did the ending solos/harmonies. Here we have two versions of the same average song. Double the mediocrity!
|Bone Fire: 1509 (Alternate Ending)
|Bone Fire: 1509
By the time Kullervo is released in 2016, it’ll have been 43 years since my beloved JRR Tolkien passed away. I can say his best work was posthumous; The Silmarillion is my favorite book of all time. However, every year I’m duped into buying something…and Kullervo will prove no different. Christopher Tolkien’s last two publications, The Fall Of Arthur and Beowulf were both short on content, long on essays and neither were particularly compelling reads. They look great on my bookshelf. I enjoy having them in my collection, but I don’t love either and I never finished The Legend Of Sigurd & Gudrun. Now, The Children Of Húrin is great, but I’d read most of it in both my favorite book and in Unfinished Tales.
So, while Kullervo’s concept sounds nice, we cannot forget it was written 100 years ago. Tolkien’s works from that time, such as The Book Of Lost Tales (1 and 2) are not my favorite. I’ll admit I look forward to this tragic tale. However, I’ll keep my expectations in check.
I’ve been thinking of this article for some time now. Should I list 10 games? Should I list them in tiers? Ultimately, I’m just going to post this and go with it.
This is a list of the nine best/most important games of the last generation. That means the Xbox360/PS3 and PC if it appears on consoles. I am not looking at PC-only titles.
Resident Evil 5
This is not an important title. I can’t say it really did anything massively new or reinvented anything spectacular. Although it is entirely co-op, it’s not utterly groundbreaking. And it’s not widely heralded as an excellent title.
What it is however, is awesome. I’ve already raved about it as a stand-alone title. The DLC was fun and diverse. Nowadays I rarely replay games entirely. Instead, I 100%ed it on two consoles (-achievements). It was fun, packed a powerful punch and epitomized what I loved about the PS3/Xbox360 generation. A large game, fully co-op, good save system, tons of weapons and reason to replay it. That last one is an important one. Infinite rocket launcher? Magnum? And this doesn’t even count Mercenaries mode.
Red Dead Redemption
GTA in the wild west? No thanks. I love GTA, I don’t like westerns but…well…this is fun and diverse and the writing is impeccable and dead-eye is a hell of a lot of fun and WHOAH, that story twist!!! How many times did I get off track, wandering the woods for a bear or through the vast, arid desert skinning animals and saving people? I lost my save for RDR but I got to see the true ending and it was one of the best stories of the entire generation. And let’s not forget the song when you finally cross into Mexico. It’s rare that one song in a game stands out but its power was in how your rode south, the gentle song leading you into a foreign (yet similar) land. And how different it was, different people, chatter and style.
A sequel in this generation would only make me smile. I certainly hope it’s on the horizon somewhere.
Gears Of War 3
The first GOW was great and the second just OK. The third, in my opinion, was the strongest and the most fun. It expanded the color palette for one, and tweaked everything to make it run faster (less clunky) and was just a spectacular and powerful game. So, while the first title really did more for this generation, specifically its cover system, excellent reload mechanics and a fully co-op campaign (oh how I wish for more of those!!!), the third perfected it. If I were to go back; I’d play this one.
After hearing all the hype, I finally rented the game and tossed it in my 360. Of course, the visuals were impressive and the sound was solid. It was when my character stepped out into the streets, with bullets flying everywhere, my eyes opened wide. Games up until that point had enemies shooting at you. Some team-based games had more targets, but for the first time, I felt like I walked into a world that was going on around me. I remember having surround sound going, bullets pinging everywhere, and it was utter mayhem. It was precisely what I wanted in gaming. Now, while the sequels upped the ante considerably, it was the first MW where my mouth truly dropped. As a player who avoids multiplayer almost entirely, the campaign was all I cared about. And it was a solid, entertaining and compelling campaign. Its brevity wasn’t disappointing either. Quite the contrary, it was sweet and to-the-point. Solid controls, insane action and at the time, superb visuals made for a game that was truly a game-changer. Once again, say what you will about the series and its subsequent milking. That first game was a turning point.
Just Cause 2
I never played (or had even heard of) the first Just Cause but this title was a free game on PS+ one month. I’m all about grabbing just about any free game I can but my first play session was merely OK. The controls were a bit loose and it was hard figuring out the whole grappling hook. I remember my second session, however, where my opinion changed entirely.
I had a hard time going back to open-world sandbox games after this. Moving around was so slow and boring (well, with the exception of Saint’s Row, but that’s just a ridiculous game!) The things I managed to do with Rico in this game were outrageous. Tethering cars to helicopters and scaling buildings with ease were awesome, as were the insane amount of explosions but the most important word in a review of this game is “fun”. I had a blast playing this, destroying everything. Just the number of options in this game make it for a memorable and long-lasting experience. Shoot a guy? Tether him to a truck and drive off? Tether an item to a truck and pull it down onto him? Oh, it goes on and on! In December of this year a sequel is coming out and I can’t limit my excitement. This might be one of those games where more of the same is just what I want. We’ll have to see!
The Walking Dead
Sure, I loved the show, but a choice-based, point-and-click adventure? Once the first two episodes were free, I grabbed them (remember, I love me freebies!) and everything changed. I connected with Lee, the game’s protagonist, more than perhaps I did with any character in any game ever. I cannot even discuss the finale without getting a lump in my throat. It was perhaps the single most powerful gaming experience ever. (yes, that trumps Metal Gear Solid IV and the at-the-time surprise of Aerith in Final Fantasy VII.
And while there were action sequences in this title, those were by far the least exciting, the least compelling, the least enticing. Episodes four and five start to rip your heart out and as I’ve written about already, the tears were genuine. I was talking to my TV. I was moved. I was hurt. And I will recommend this game to anyone, zombie fan or not. In some ways, it should be top-shelf material. Ah…I hate making these lists. Just know that it’s awesome. I shouldn’t have to say more.
I missed out on Half-Life and that whole thing and so it wasn’t until after Portal 2 came out that I even tried this series. The first game was certainly fun, but I’m pretty certain I played that (PC) after I beat it on the PS3 (and subsequently played it all again on the PC, beating both 1 and 2 within 24 hours).
This is a triple-A puzzle game…something that’s generally unheard of. Without playing it, my claims of Brilliance can not explain the sheer awesomeness of this title. Sadly, it’s the only thing I can even say. After each test room or the later colored gels, I marveled at the absolutely-ingenious design. I felt such delight at the solutions and the miraculous lack of unsolvable puzzles. The game was designed and tested to perfection. GLaDOS and her anger were written with utter sarcasm and it all delighted as the weird story unfolded. I can think of nothing about this game that isn’t perfect brilliance. You can go back at any time as well, provided you haven’t memorized all the solutions, and enjoy those brainy solutions all over again. Sadly, I never got the chance to play co-op. I bet that’s awesome.
After renting and beating Modern Warfare, I rented Borderlands. I’d heard good things, etc. etc. After such a visually-compelling and powerful experience, my initial thoughts of BL were…eh. The cel-shaded presentation coupled with a weird premise didn’t totally impress me immediately.
I played a bit; I returned the game.
A few weeks later, I was humming this tune in my head. I started missing the skill tree options. I had to rent the game again. Perhaps I was lucky but the local video store was closing and I bought the game for like $12. I then played the game. A lot. My save game ended up getting deleted and so at some point I started again. Then did true vault hunter mode. Then I returned a year later and got the platinum. The DLC was spectacular (I bought 3 of the 4, IIRC). We’ve all played our share of FPS games. None compelled me like this one. The outrageous guns that I’d receive were motivation alone to continue! It was stylish, unique, funny and full of loot! The light-hearted story was trumped by the second game, itself a superior product. Just about every fault I could find in the first title was remedied. Things were tweaked where necessary and left alone where needed. Even the trailer was insanely awesome! I love this game and while I skipped the Pre-quel, I fully anticipate grabbing part 3 whenever it debuts on this current generation. LOVE IT! (said in Torgue’s voice!)
Sure there are other 3rd-person action games. They’ve existed since the advent of 3D games. In so many ways, Uncharted is inspired by Tomb Raider which itself was inspired by Indiana Jones. So Why is this so important? Because it was fun, challenging, looked great and its gameplay was perfection. The first game is amazing, the third game is more of the same and the second was pristinely balanced. Headshots were truly enjoyable and the ka-ching of every kill was the most rewarding sound of the entire generation of games. Seeing Drake hanging by one arm got a bit old by the third game. However, the cinematics of the second, the chemistry with Elena and Chloe, the diverse and lush locales, the exciting finale, the co-op levels…*takes breath*…This game is probably my favorite of the entire generation even if it didn’t redefine like Portal or Borderlands did. It just did what I love the most…perfectly.
Bill Bryson wrote, in 2003, “When I was a boy, the solar system was thought to contain thirty moons. The total now is “at least ninety,” about a third of which have been found in just the last ten years.”
Bryson was born in 1951 and therefore “a boy” would suggest the mid-1960s, more or less. The book, A Brief History Of Nearly Everything was a charming read but it itself is now over a decade old. If ~twenty moons were discovered in the 1990s alone, I suppose it’s not surprising to think that since 2003 that number has gone from “at least ninety” to 146. That’s not counting the 27 awaiting confirmation. In one decade we’ve discovered over 80 moons? Since Bryson’s boy years, we’ve found over 140!? There can be no doubt we’ve living through a wonderful age of space exploration.
As an armchair fan of astronomy, it’s remarkable to think we’ve done so much just in my lifetime alone. Voyager 2 visited Jupiter in 1979, Saturn in 1981, Uranus in 1986 and Neptune in 1989. With Pluto’s visit (regardless of its fair demotion to a dwarf planet), we’ve now images and data on the full Solar System I was taught about as a kid.
Not including dwarf-planet moons (at least 6), here’s the tally of known moons as of July 2015:
|Planet||# of Moons|
|Jupiter||50 (+17 awaiting confirmation)|
|Saturn||53 (+9 awaiting confirmation)|
|Neptune||16 (+1 awaiting confirmation)|
Jupiter and Saturn each have more than double the moons as we knew existed in the Solar System just 50 years ago. I find this all marvelous and appreciate the fact that we are living through such a spectacular time of astronomical discovery. The sad truth lingers, however. This is the last of it all. No new planets (or dwarf planets) to visit. No new probes are being planned. I sincerely hope the James Webb Space Telescope lives up to its promise (and everything goes without a hitch). The scope of that promise is only matched by its potential for failure. Not to be a downer or anything…
Having just purchased a Nintendo 3DS, I’ve opted to catch up on the missing Mario games (After playing Zelda!) Since my history with the Italian plumber truly began way back with the original Mario Bros. (Not Super!) it’s only fitting I dedicate myself to these titles.
However, my expertise really lies in those older titles. Once Super Mario Sunshine came out, my interest waned but in the last 6 or 7 years, there have been some stellar Mario titles. I do dedicate myself to a new Mario whenever possible and today I “finished” Super Mario 3D Land. Four Stars means I got almost everything. Re-doing EVERY level with Luigi and getting gold flags on each…no thanks. Four stars is enough. In light of this, I wanted to see how far I really got in those titles from the last half a decade plus. Turns out there are a number of games and I’ve “completed” all of them to some extent. Let’s see! First – The titles! Three for the Wii, Two for both the Wii U and the 3DS.
2007 – Super Mario Galaxy (9.7)
2009 – New Super Mario Bros. Wii (8.9)
2010 – Super Mario Galaxy 2 (10)
2011 – Super Mario 3D Land (9.5)
2012 – New Super Mario Bros. 2 (8.5)
2012 – New Super Mario Bros. U (9.1)
2013 – Super Mario 3D World (9.6)
The numbers that follow are IGN’s scores for each game. It’s evident Mario has not lost his touch. Anyway, let’s go title by title to see how much I’ve truly completed. Of course, it goes without saying I beat every game. Beyond that, however, varies by title.
Gold Crowns on all levels – 120 stars (out of 121)
After New Super Mario Bros. on the NDS, a game which I’m fairly certain I 100%ed but have since lost my save, Galaxy was part of the new phase of Mario. It was new, different and not entirely reliant on stupid motion controls. The game was brilliant, with some unique and curious spins on both the Mario world and physics. I loved it and my goal of getting everything was set. Seeing as how it was 8 years ago, I don’t remember specifics, but I do know that one of those final stages was a pain in the ass and getting that last star was a glorious achievement.
Looking back now, i see it was the first game that asked you to beat the entire game again using Luigi in order to unlock one final galaxy for one final star. While you don’t need to get everyone on those levels (to my knowledge), it doesn’t matter. That’s a lot of work for one final stage. Maybe when I was 13 I would’ve done that. Not now.
1 star out of 5
Two star coins on Worlds 2 & 3
Four star coins on World 5
11 on World 8 (didn’t even play 8-7)
18 on World 9 (only beat (+ 3 coins) two levels)
I don’t recall when I stopped playing this. I know that World 9 got pretty damn hard! One star is pretty lame but I don’t see myself going back to this one any time soon.
Save-file requirements & my progress
Beat the game
- Beat every normal level
- Collect all 207 star coins in the first 8 worlds.
- Collect all 24 star coins in world 9.
- Beat every level, find every secret goal and use all of the warp cannons.
One Silver Crown (All 120 Normal Stars)(144/242 Stars)
Silver crowns on all levels (Worlds 1-6 plus World S)(120 Stars)
All Comet Medals
Gold crowns on some levels (= stars + green stars)
No Grandmaster Galaxy in World S
I felt SMG2 was superior to SMG. In fact, at the time, I claimed it was the 3rd-best Mario game ever! It was just that good, and IGN’s perfect 10 is something I fully agree with. After busting my ass to collect all 120 stars (AGAIN!), it was a shock to find out there were 120 more! I collected a few dozen of those but then stopped. Just looking at this stirs my completionist OCD. Did I stop because those green stars were too hard? Or did I just get burnout? I think it’s the latter. I suppose I could go back and try to get some. :)
4 Stars out of 5
I just finished this and felt pretty good about it. The game, while heralded as spectacular, was good. The first half was just a joke though. It was so easy, and as you can see from these stats, I’m a good player, but NOT a great player! Of those 392 lives lost, I easily lost 100 on three levels at the end of my journey. Yup. 100 lives. Three levels.
The second half of the game was great though, with some rigorously-challenging goals and the like. My four stars means I got all 293 star coins (plus some extras) by getting every star coin on every level in worlds 1-8 and Special worlds 1-8, then defeated Bowser again. Why not a fifth star? Yup, gotta beat every stage again as Luigi and get all golden flags. I don’t know which stages I got gold flags on (not without playing each stage and getting to the end). Redo the entire game again? Nope. I’m good. Four stars is solid!
Save-file requirements & my progress
Defeat Bowser in World 8’s second Castle Clear all stages in the first 8 Worlds Defeat Bowser again after Special World 8 Obtain all 285 Star Medals
- Clear all stages with Mario and Luigi + Golden Flagpole on all
After getting and beating SM3DL, I didn’t wait long to pick up New Super Mario Bros. 2. The reviews claimed it wasn’t as good as 3D Land but I much prefer the side-scrolling Mario games to the 3D ones. This title may have been a bit gimmicky and the Star World was a breeze compared to older titles, but I loved it all. It took me just over a week to burn through the entire lot, collecting all star coins, moon coins and getting max lives. It was fun but not overly challenging and it’s only my second true 100% in a recent Mario title.
Save-file requirements & my progress (won’t cross these out as I got them all!)
- Beat World 6-Castle
- Obtain every Star Coin
- Obtain all of World Star’s Moon Coins
- Complete every level
- Get the highest possible number of lives
While not final chronologically, this is the last game I played through and now I must wait for another Mario to dedicate myself to.
5 stars out of 5
This is the only true 100% game (now the second). All five stars means I beat every level with every star coin including all the Superstar Road stages (plus the final one) as well as catching Nabbit. I wrote about the final steps in this process (both here and here). There’s not much else to comment on. This was a fun, solid challenge that wasn’t bogged down in stupid requirements.
Save-file requirements & my progress
Beat Bowser in story mode Unlock and beat every normal level Get every star coin (normal levels) All star coins on Superstar Road Catch 7 Nabbits + all star coins on Superstar Road-9
2 stars out of 5
305 Stars out of 380
76 Stamps (out of 80)
I got every star, stamp and gold flag on worlds 1-6, Castle, Bowser and Star.
However, in World Mushroom, I’m missing two flags, five stars and a bunch in world Mushroom-Box (whatever).
World Flower is a mess, missing a bunch and never having beaten a few. World Flower-12 is the boss rush level and it’s not hard, I just haven’t ever managed to do it quickly enough. Timed stages are annoying. Due to this, I never saw World Crown. Oh well.
Stamps are a joke. I really have 76 out of 80. But then five more apparently come from beating every level with every character. Ahahaha. No.
Save-file star requirements & my progress…
Beat the final level in World 8 Collect all Green Stars in Worlds 1-8
- Collect all Stamps in Worlds 1-9 (there are none in 10-11)
- Get all Golden Flags in Worlds 1-11
- Beat worlds 1-11 with all characters for the final Stamps
After a long, slow, uneventful first half of 2015, it seems like the behemoths are ready to unveil some true metal for the second half of the year. Sure, we had Blind Guardian and Armageddon. Arcturus and Solefald are good but not AotY material. Marduk is some solid shit but nothing else stands out. Faith No More? Svartsot? Maybe Sulphur Aeon. No…instead we have the following records to look forward to in the next four months. Color me psyched. Some of these are just nostalgia bands, but I’m excited for what could be a good finale to 2015!!!
Updated to include My Dying Bride
10 – Cradle of Filth
24 – Joe Satriani
24 – Lamb of God
07 – Fear Factory
21 – Ghost
28 – Soilwork
04 – Iron Maiden
04 – Amorphis
11 – Slayer
18 – My Dying Bride
18 – The Black Dahlia Murder
02 – Children of Bodom
September 7th, 1997. My senior year in college had just begun and I had classes and work in the computer lab after school. I snuck out to the local Electronics Boutique at the mall. I bought Final Fantasy VII. I hadn’t played RPGs much, barely any JRPGs and never touched a FF game. For anyone too young, it’s impossible to understand the potency of this game. I remember the ads. “If it were available on cartridge, it would retail for $1,200.” CD games were new. CG in games was new. Symphonic scores were new. And FFVII blew the doors open on all of it. Holy shit. This was unlike anything we’d ever seen.
So, now while FFVII has been on GameFAQs’ top-100 list for…wait for this…6,099 days, I marvel at the endurance. SIX THOUSAND DAYS. My entire life has changed, the entire gaming industry has changed. The madness and dedication to FFVII has not. And while there’s simply NO WAY the remake can ever live up to our memories of 6,000 days ago…I have no choice but to return to Midgard. Back before there were spoilers (well, there were but you probably weren’t online back then. I was already running sites for two years) all you had to say was Aerith (Aeris). That shit changed the way I looked at videogames.