Archive for the Lists Category

Upcoming Shows 2022

Posted in Best / Worst, Lists, Music on March 30, 2022 by slateman

I can’t believe it, but I have an upcoming shows list for 2022! How remarkable! OK, so it’s only four shows, but – who cares!!!

30 Apr – Testament / Exodus / Death Angel – Sayreville, NJ
12 May – Amorphis – Baltimore, MD
24 Sep – Elton John – Washington, DC
14 Oct – Wardruna – Washington, DC

2022 In Music

Posted in Blog, Lists, Music on December 30, 2021 by slateman

Just some upcoming music release dates for personal reference!

07 Jan – Wilderun: Epigone
04 Feb – Korn: Requiem
11 Feb – Amorphis: Halo
11 Mar – Ghost: Impera
25 Feb – Hammerfall: Hammer Of Dawn
25 Feb – Svartsot: Kumbl
25 Mar – Eucharist: I Am The Void
25 Mar – Abbath: Dread Reaver
08 Apr – Hällas: Isle Of Wisdom
08 Apr – Joe Satriani: The Elephants Of Mars
22 Apr – Faun: Pagan
22 Apr – Wardruna: Kvitravn – First Flight Of The White Raven
10 Jun – Anathema: A Vision Of A Dying Embrace
10 Jun – Kreator: Hate Über Alles
24 Jun – Alestorm: Seventh Rum Of A Seventh Rum
22 Jul – Witchery: Nightside
29 Aug – Dimmu Borgir: Northern Forces Over Wacken
05 Aug – Amon Amarth: The Great Heathen Army
05 Aug – Einherjer: Norse And Dangerous (Live…From The Land Of Legends)
12 Aug – Arch Enemy: Deceivers
12 Aug – The Halo Effect: Days Of The Lost
19 Aug – Soilwork: Övergivenheten
02 Sep – Andy Gillion: Arcade Metal
02 Sep – Blind Guardian: The God Machine
02 Sep – Megadeth: The Sick, The Dying…And The Dead!
07 Oct – Lamb Of God: Omens

With help from Metalstorm’s Upcoming Release List.

Castlevania: Aria Of Sorrow Thoughts

Posted in Blog, Castlevania, Games, Lists, Retro Games on October 24, 2021 by slateman

I have to say, Castlevania Advance Collection is one of my favorite games of the year, despite the average age of each of its four games being 20+ years old! I purchased this as soon as it came out and I never regretted it once. Jumping into Aria Of Sorrow on the heels of the first two GBA games was a no-brainer.

As this is considered a top=tier Castlevania, it really should stand out among its predecessors, but it’s not as clear and simple in my opinion. Breaking it down – visuals are in some small way a step back from Harmony Of Dissonance, with more subdued environments and less flashy colors. However, it’s more consistent and in no way a downgrade. I found I preferred the gaudy colors and over-the-top animations of the middle game. The interface is cleaner and the new soul system is far better than HOD. Unfortunately, exploration feels a bit stifled again. That crazy nature of Dissonance is lacking here and I missed it.

The music is good again, thus regaining that which was lost after COTM however, it came at the expense of that visual flourish. But while graphics and effects may have stepped back a bit, there were way more items and diverse options throughout which changed up battle substantially. It was a lot more fun with much cooler gear. This diversity led to much more entertaining loot including some truly OP weapons. The soul system was quite cool but of course, grindy. The rewind system helps w/ that. I specifically used that cheat to get some to pass certain areas.

The lack of a dash button and scant few upgrades made traversal feel a bit more of a chore than HOD which was, admittedly, broken. But the upgrades are good and useful. The one castle is better and it’s not designed in a confusing and annoying way. Warping to whichever room you’d like is a nice perk and backtracking is never quite as cumbersome as it was in the past. The game was, by far, a more streamlined experience.

Ultimately, Aria Of Sorrow is a better game than the prior two. The story, while still rather thin, is more engaging and the quality-of-life fixes were welcome. I’m certain I beat this one back in the day, but I definitely didn’t get the good ending. However, despite being better, that doesn’t mean I like it more. I prefer the visual style of HOD and I know I liked several of the NDS entries far more. Altogether, it was a tremendous experience playing these titles back-to-back-to-back. I’ll likely never revisit some of these but I do sincerely hope a NDS collection follows.



Castlevania: Harmony Of Dissonance Thoughts

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Castlevania, Games, Lists, Retro Games on October 11, 2021 by slateman

Immediately after polishing off Circle Of The Moon, I progressed to Harmony Of Dissonance, the GBA’s second installment. Changes are immediately evident: larger sprites, much more colorful visuals, upgraded graphics, new enemies and a more adept protagonist. While the story is ultimately a rehash of CotM, there’s a lot to like here, particularly in comparison to its predecessor. Unfortunately, large chunks of this game have tremendous downsides which make the inferior Circle Of The Moon a comparable title.

As I progressed into the second castle, I made a realization: I almost certainly never beat this game. Stumbling across an old save – it appears the 60% mark was about my limit. If memory serves me right, I revisited it later and felt the same pang of frustration. The game is deliberately obtuse, an old tactic employed to artificially lengthen the game’s duration. Several areas are off-limits, but the map “opens” them up, thereby marking them and making a revisit quite challenging. The rewind feature is spectacular to erase some of those mistakes, but oftentimes a key opens just a very specific door or two with no word of where that might be. The overly-spacious two-castle system compounds this issue as warping is initially slower and more arduous than in the past and there’s an awful lot of running around just to revisit a dead-end you knew about in the past. In fact, things are so spacious that the main goal is to dash through vast swathes of the castle searching for the next extension – unfortunately almost always stumbling upon another wall or impassable segment.

20 years later and with the aid of decades of guides, this task is much simpler, but no less absurd. The enemies themselves are quite diverse, building off of CotM with 3D effects and the like, but despite the size of the bosses and their impressive animations (both attack and death), most felt rather uninspired and far easier to beat. The initial GBA game was a rigorous challenge; this game is not. Once again, you resort to zipping through portions of the castles, here designated as A and B, and even getting hit is rarely a concern. Fortunately, controlling Juste is far more forgiving than Nathan Graves and his animations are substantially more impressive. Those wonderful bosses, added animations and effects come at a hefty cost: the game’s sound. It suffers and contains scant few memorable tunes, a series staple. In fact, the title sounds like an archaic NES game, but even that is too kind, as the songs here don’t contain the standard hook. The shopkeeper’s tune sounds downright ancient and represents one of the weakest set of tunes in any Castlevania ever.

My gripes continue, but Harmony Of Dissonance is generally fun once things get moving. There are a ton of items to collect, different armors and the like, though none are incredibly exciting, and there’s nothing comparable to CotM’s DSS system, unfortunately. Collecting furntire isn’t quite my style. Visually it sings with a huge assortment of backgrounds & colorful enemies: overall it’s a lot of fun to look at. Scouring screenshots is a lot more rewarding than the first GBA game.

As I approach 200%, it’s so interesting to discover (re-remember?) that I never finished this. The era of its arrival was a tumultuous one for me – however, I’m almost certain I completed every subsequent 2D Castlevania on the GBA & NDS. Until I can verify by getting my old-school GBA from Maine, I remain uncertain if I actually beat Dracula in Circle Of The Moon as well! Wouldn’t be surprised if I hadn’t!

As a stepping stone to Aria Of Sorrow, the game really is impressive despite its numerous flaws. I’m tremendously happy I got to revisit this with the assistance of guides, save states and the rewind feature. I am stoked to finish it and to move on to its successor!

Late Update: I’ve now beaten the game and witnessed all three of the title’s endings. My final map count is at 99.7% for each castle, maxing out at 194.4%. I appear to be missing the same number of rooms in each. The two versions of Maxim were uniquely-different fights and the Dracula Wraith final boss was a pretty cool, horrible amalgamation of his body parts (a callback to Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest – much like the Simon Wraith callback to the original Castlevania.)

Upcoming Game Release List

Posted in Blog, Games, Lists on August 29, 2021 by slateman

The usual looking-forward post, this time focusing solely on games. Stars follow the title name – the more, the greater the interest! Let’s do it!

14 Sep – Deathloop – ☆
21 Sep – Kena: Bridge Of Spirits – ☆☆
07 Oct – Far Cry 6 – ☆☆☆
08 Oct – Metroid Dread – ☆
21 Jan – Elden Ring – ☆☆☆☆
18 Feb – Horizon: Forbidden West – ☆☆☆☆
TBA 21 – Puzzle Bobble 3D: Vacation Odyssey – ☆
Spring – Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga – ☆☆☆
TBA 22 – God Of War Sequel – ☆☆☆☆☆

In the future, I’m also looking forward to Diablo 4, The Elder Scrolls VI, the Dead Space reboot and the second installment into the Final Fantasy VII Remake. Oh, and the new Skate game. But otherwise, this is a pretty comprehensive list with Elden Ring, Horizon and God Of War topping my most-desired titles.

Conversely, looking back, 2021 hasn’t been a bad year with R-Type Final 2, Resident Evil VIII, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox, It Takes Two, Ratchet & Clank: A Rift Apart and Hades all being solid releases.

Resident Evil: Ranking The Mainline Entries

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Lists, Resident Evil on June 14, 2021 by slateman

I’ve already discussed my completion statistics on the franchise but with Resident Evil 8 in my rear-view mirror, I thought it time to reflect on all the mainline entries and how they stack up against one another. As I stacked these and went through my personal history, there were some surprising upsets, if you will. Ultimately, however, I felt confident in my final hierarchy and while these could very well change, as of today, I’m quite happy with my results.

Foregoing any further ado, let’s leap into this list: ranking the nine mainline Resident Evil titles.

#9) Resident Evil 0

# Of Times Beaten: ZERO

Of all nine entries, this is the one I never completed. The dated mechanics, ‘meh’ storyline, banal characters and backtracking all just made this game a chore. I recall where I bailed too – I left some mandatory item somewhere because of the traditional inventory system and couldn’t remember how to get back. Quality-of-life fixes like we see in modern titles were nowhere to be seen.

I didn’t like it, I didn’t finish it and I have no regrets about not revisiting it. Let’s move along.

#8) Resident Evil 6

# Of Times Beaten: One

The Good: Leon’s story is pretty good and Chris’s is remotely positive.

The Bad: Jake’s is uninspired and Ada’s just dragged on.

Since I played these in order of my perceived quality, the game started out OK and just decayed into a chore. If I remember correctly, I only powered through Ada’s campaign just to say I beat it, over two years later.

Due to my sheer love of the franchise, I purchased the PS4 remaster but never really dove back in. Perhaps one day – if only for Leon’s campaign.

#7) Resident Evil 3


# Of Times Beaten: Three

I’m talking about the remake here and not the original as I never played Nemesis back in the day. The main gripe many had with 3make was its brevity – certainly a valid point. However, the game itself was just fantastic otherwise and unlike RE8, return to it I did – several times! My best run clocked in at 97 minutes, simply the perfect length for a one-sitting speedrun.

Sure, it’s campy but the game looked great and had the trademark powerful feel to guns and I quite liked it indeed.

Resident Evil 3: Completion Stats

#6) Resident Evil 8: Village

# Of Times Beaten: Three

Having just beaten this, it’s startling to see such a good game rank so low on this list. As always in lists such as these, it looks worse than it is.

On the upside, this game looks fantastic, feels wonderful and has virtually every element of a good RE game that I love. However, it felt scattered, possibly due to the Covid-inspired development cycle it endured. House Beneviento was not as impressive to me as it was to so many others. Moreau’s level, while cool-looking, wasn’t spectacular and thus, speedruns of those two levels felt like a chore. I did return for a collectible run, then a speedrun and then a Village Of Shadows (hardest difficulty) run, but Heisenberg’s BS fight left me annoyed and I simply abandoned it.

While the game took some of the best elements of RE4, I felt it missed the mark in many others. The village was my favorite part followed by Castle Dimetrescu leaving the second half (or latter 2/3rds even) less phenomenal IMO.

Resident Evil 8: Complation Stats
First Run: 10:11.51 Speedrun: 2:35.26

#5) Resident Evil 2


# Of Times Beaten: Two (+ Two 1998 version)

This list is now getting into the difficult-to-rank range. I played RE2 at launch in 1998 and at its relaunch almost 20 years later. The original was impressive and marked the first RE game I beat. The remake was equally impressive, utilizing Capcom’s RE Engine for a visually stunning re-envisioning. While I never beat the second campaign, the title was a spectacular return to form after RE7’s first-person vantage and the change in focus over the many years after RE4.

However, as good as it was, some would say #5 is far too low on this list. Much like RE8, I’ve never felt the compelling urge to dive back in for collectibles or a speedrun, something the next entries on this list.

Resident Evil 2: Completion Stats

#4) Resident Evil VII: Biohazard


# Of Times Beaten: Two

7 better than 2? I dare say, “yes,” emphatically. And here’s why…

While RE2 was a tremendous game in both its releases, neither was as powerful to me as RE7’s newness. The first-person perspective and new protagonist, the escape from Raccoon City and familiar faces were all welcome changes, but it was the decaying house and ambience that proved the most poignant. That the opening 30 minutes shocked the hell out of me, surprising given the series’ history. The fact that the entire game is playable in VR only exacerbates the discomfort and potency of the franchise’s ambience.

While the second half lost some of its luster, it didn’t stop me from getting every trophy but the hardest difficulty one (I couldn’t beat Mia, I think I could’ve done the rest of the game were I able to!) and then penning a speedrun guide on the title. Whereas RE2 was more of the same – only bigger and better, RE7 was a huge overhaul and a more impressive experience for me personally.

Resident Evil VII: Completion Stats

#3) Resident Evil


# Of Times Beaten: Three?

Oh, the classic! Now, I didn’t beat this PS1 game originally, though I played through most of it before having to return it to a friend. I also failed to complete it when it was remade on the Gamecube as the game was too terrifying. I certainly beat it on the PS4, however, and followed it up with several additional runs.

The revamped title retains much of the old-school feel while functioning so much better. After completing the game, I’m certain I returned for a speedrun. Though I haven’t returned to it since, nostalgia ekes into my opinion of this game. Coupled with quality-of-life fixes, I found this game the perfect blend of old and new. Unfortunately, it’s not my favorite entry in the franchise despite my long history with the game.

Resident Evil: Completion Stats

#2) Resident Evil 4

# Of Times Beaten: At least six

My expectations were a bit low for RE4 when it was announced as a Gamecube exclusive. After a few minutes, however, all those concerns were dashed when I first faced the chainsaw-wielding man and experienced the grotesque death that followed. In fact, this moment joined those damn dogs in the original title among my favorite moments in gaming history. In the end, I’ve played this game on the Gamecube, PS2, Wii, PS3 and PS4 – a true testament to my opinion of it. And let’s face it, the impending VR game, if it comes to the PS5 and its upcoming VR unit, will mark the sixth time I play this.

As for why I’ve played the game so much, it just had a fantastic blend of pure action, ammo restriction, a little Ashley hand-holding which upped the tension remarkably and a fantastic setting. The setpieces are intense, the firepower is immense and the runthroughs are rewarding. However, not fantastic enough to land at #1 on this list.

RE4: PS3 Stats RE4: PS4 Stats

#1) Resident Evil 5


# Of Times Beaten: At least seven

Now this is an unpopular opinion, but my playtime is my evidence. While I played RE4 on more platforms, I spent way more time with the rock-punching Chris and sexy Sheva than fair-haired Leon and his babysitting pal Ashley. The game’s save system ranked you by each chapter and allowed for quick sessions and continuous improvement. I played the co-op game twice with other humans and loved the mix of secrets, powerful weapons and traditional RE nonsense.

My original stats from the PS3 game show that it’s the only Resident Evil I platinumed/100%ed. I S-ranked almost the entire game and clocked in a full 60 hours – before playing it all again on the Xbox 360 and again on the PS4. Perhaps one day I’ll revisit it and its luster will have faded. But as of 2021, it remains my favorite RE experience and thus lies atop the heap as my favorite title in the illustrious franchise.

15 Years Of Scrobbles

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Lists, Music, Personal on February 10, 2021 by slateman

I started using Last.FM back in 2005 and in the 15+ years since, it’s consistently been part of my music-playing experience. Though numbers from before then are omitted, as are hundreds from the old iPod days, I’ve still clocked in almost 80,000 plays and today I’m sharing my top-10 most-played bands. It’s no surprise that Moonsorrow sits atop the heap – they did just recently become my favorite-band ever! This means the entries go as follows:

Finland – Finland – Sweden – Norway – Finland – Sweden – USA – Finland – Norway – Sweden.

Remarkable. Oh, and Slayer sits comfortably at #11. All my stats can be found here.

The Best TV Shows Ever

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Lists, TV on October 13, 2020 by slateman

This is more of a mental list than a real one, as I can’t necessarily claim this to be 100% valid. This will require some expanded exposition as time goes on. I’ll come back to this and expand upon it, so don’t let this be official.

  1. Seinfeld
  2. Breaking Bad
  3. True Detective (Season 1)
  4. Fawlty Towers
  5. Haunting Of Hill House (Season 1)
  6. Band Of Brothers
  7. Vikings (Seasons 1-4)
  8. Game Of Thrones
  9. The Sopranos
  10. House Of Cards (Season 1-?)
  11. Stranger Things (Season 1)
  12. Fargo (Season 1, 2, 3)
  13. Monty Python’s Flying Circus
  14. Narcos (Season 1)
  15. Sherlock
  16. South Park?

Notable Entries: Black Mirror, Boardwalk Empire, 24, Mindhunter, Sons Of Anarchy, The Leftovers.

Still To Watch: Mad Men, Rectify, Justified, more?

More to come!

Games I Missed This Generation

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Lists on October 3, 2020 by slateman

Back in 2013, I wrote about the 9 best games of the prior generation and we’re about time to wrap up yet another gen. While I should get to doing a similar post, I wanted to recap some of the titles that may deserve a place on that list but which I never had the pleasure of playing. In addition, this serves as a sort of checklist for things to get to in the coming years. The good news is that most, if not all of these titles will work next gen, so that’ll be great when prices drop a little bit. Without any additional ado…


Game Thoughts
The Last Of Us: Part 2 The first was great – but exhausting!
Ghost Of Tsushima I will play this game!
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox Getting localized soon
Gears 5 No Xbox One!
Monster Hunter: World Is this up my alley?
Final Fantasy XV Do I have the patience for FF nowadays?
Control Unsure about this one
COD: Modern Warfare Probably a gorgeous, fun romp
Hades Waiting for a PS4 port

2020 – Music To Come

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Lists, Music on January 5, 2020 by slateman

I still haven’t even written up my AOTY for 2019, but the year itself was a bit disappointing. So, while I delay in getting that online, I’ve gazed forward and feel like 2020 may be more of the same. For now, here’s a brief ‘coming-soon’ list, none of which feel like possible contenders for this year’s coveted award. For now, it’s just a list for me.


10 Jan – Brothers Of Metal: Emblas Saga
07 Feb – Sepultura: Quadra
14 Feb – Ihsahn: Telemark
21 Feb – Demons & Wizards: III
28 Feb – The Night Flight Orchestra: Aeromantic
06 Mar – My Dying Bride: The Ghost Of Orion
13 Mar – Burzum: Thulêan Mysteries
20 Mar – Hällas: Conundrum
03 Apr – Testament: Titans Of Creation
10 Apr – Joe Satriani: Shapeshifting
17 Apr – The Black Dahlia Murder: Verminous
24 Apr – Katatonia: City Burials
08 May – Naglfar: Cerecloth
08 May – Lamb Of God: Lamb Of God
29 May – Alestorm: Curse Of The Crystal Coconut
07 Aug – Carcass: Torn Arteries
TBA – Lantlôs: Wildhund