GMS’s Top 30 Favorite Games of ALL TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Great Mighty Steve (GMS) here.

Hooooooboy!  This is the big kicker, people.  This is my definitive Top 30 favorite games of ALL TIME!!!!!  Keep in mind, though, that I am limited to the games that I have played, and that my opinion may change over time, though most of these decisions will, for the most part, stay the same.  Remember, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and this is mine.  So, if you have a problem with any of these placements, talk about it in the comments.  I would love to see what you think, or what your favorite games are, because I always enjoy constructive debates.  That said, I don’t care for any rude comments.  It’s my list; I’ll do whatever the hell I want!  Anyway, now that I have that out of my system, let’s jump in!

30. Castlevania 1 (NES), and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1)

The first tie here!  I really couldn’t decide which of these two games I like more, so let me explain how I feel about both!


Who doesn’t love some classic 8-bit whipping?  Castlevania 1 is simply a masterpiece, and I can recall hours of enjoyment playing this game.  With that in mind, I can also recall many more hours of FRUSTRATION playing this game.  That, coupled with the fact that there are tons of other games that I prefer, is the reason why it is at number 30.

I will not make the obvious reference.

To those who say that the classic Castlevania linear style is far superior to the Metroid style of Symphony of the Night, I say “F-you!”  Nah, I’m kidding.  Both styles are great, it’s just that I prefer this style over the other.  The voice acting was cheesy goodness, the area was well-designed, the music was fantastic, and the action felt right.  It was overall a great game.  I still haven’t finished it, but that’s just a testament to how well designed it is—I haven’t even figured everything out yet!

29. Final Fantasy VI/III (SNES)

I know, I know.  To be honest, I’m not denying that this game is a masterpiece.  It must be said, though, that this game has a somewhat broken party system.  Most of the story wants you to focus on maybe 5 or 6 party members when, by the time you’re half way through the game, you’ve easily accumulated twice as much.  Incidentally, I leveled up only four people (not so ironically, the people the story wanted you to focus on), and when asked to form two or three parties for a particular stretch of the game, found that I had one ultimate, bossly, kick-ass party and two shitty ones.  This completely ruined the experience for me.  I’m not gonna sit around leveling up an old man, his granddaughter, a drunk airship guy, and a yeti when I can just waltz right in to Kefka’s Tower and finish the game.

Too many fudging characters, man!

This is my main complaint, and other than that, there’s not much to say.  When people say that the soundtrack to this game is Nobuo Uematsu’s best, I highly disagree.  Though there are a few amazing songs here (Dancing Mad and Aria di Mezzo Caraterre, to name a few), most of the songs are forgettable.  And, while those few amazing songs easily trump most of the songs in the other games, save a few, the soundtrack to Final Fantasy IV is overall more memorable, as I can bring just about every song to mind from that game, but very few from VI.  This is easily my least favorite Final Fantasy game that I have beaten (one out of three).  So, kill me if you want to, but just remember this before you do: Final Fantasy IV.

28. Final Fantasy VII (PS1)

I know, I know!  “How dare you put the legendary Final Fantasy VII so low on your list!!!”  Well, let me explain my reasoning.  First of all, it’s my list.  Second of all, it’s my list.  Third of all, IT’S MY LIST!!!!!  Fourth of all, I’m not a very big science fiction fan, and I wasn’t too happy with the turn the series took starting with VI and escalating into VII.  I’m a much bigger fan of fantasy games with dragons and swords and stuff when it comes to RPGs.  To those who say fantasy isn’t just tied down to medieval times, I say that to me, it’s just not the same.  Now, I’ve only played about 10 hours of the game, and my feelings may change, but from the way things are going, I don’t think they really will.  Once again, I don’t disagree that this game is a masterpiece and I can’t say that I didn’t have fun playing this game, but the fact remains: Final Fantasy IV.

27. Donkey Kong Country (SNES)

I’ve only played two DK Country games in my life (the other being Returns for the Wii), and I can say that I really love this game.  Anything that I would say many other people have stated before.  Let me just say this: Play this game, or I’ll find out where you live, strap you down in front of your TV, give you a SNES controller, and make you play this game.  The end.

26. Mega Man 3 (NES)

There was a time when I could say that this was my favorite Mega Man game.  However, as time passed, I realized how much I like 2 and X better.  Sure, this game is great and I would easily put it at the number 3 spot on my favorite Mega Man games ever, but the fact remains: this game can be punishingly hard, almost as hard as the first game.  I still love it, just not as much.

25. Super Mario World (SNES)

Honestly, I love this game, but not as much as a few other Mario titles, simply because of its sometimes maze-like structure.  I know some love this aspect of the game, but I like Mario games that are straightforward: here’s the final level, and here’s the levels you need to beat to get there.  Just my personal preference.  Great game, though.  If you haven’t played it, you’re a sad case, man.

24. Earthbound (SNES)

Having been converted by my friend in somewhat of a Happy-Happyist fashion, I recognized my love for fuzzy pickles, and Earthbound.  It’s just that, I’m not as avid of a fan boy as some members of Starmen.net, and, though I’ll keep praying for Ness and his friends, I’m praying a lot harder for Ninten and his.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love Earthbound, it’s just that I love everything about Mother 1 better.  I know I’ll get a lot of flack for this, but believe me, I’m in the minority here.  I recognize that Earthbound is the better game, but there’s just this charm in Mother that resonates with me more than Earthbound’s charm.  Sorry.

23. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)

Okay, now I know you really want to kill me.

I know, I know, I know, I KNOOOOOOOOWWWWWW!!!!!!

But, hear me out first.  If I were to look up the definition of love-hate relationship in my personal dictionary of life, Ocarina of Time would be there.  Why, you ask?  Well, my experience playing the game was ruined by all the Ocarina of Time fans out there.  I was told constantly to play this game, and true, I did enjoy this game, in fact I loved it!  It’s just, I felt, because of its unreal praise, that I should have loved it more.  There was something missing from the experience that I thought should have been there that wasn’t, and still isn’t to this very day.  Before you judge me, Ocarina of Time fans, look in the mirror.  It’s YOUR fault.  Well, that takes care of the hate.  As for the love, I have nothing to say but, “It’s Ocarina of Time.”

22. Mega Man X (SNES)

This game is beautiful.  It’s everything a Mega Man game should be: amazing level design, catchy music, great bosses, and fun weapons.  I really like it because I’m good at it, and it’s easy for me.  Though I prefer the older style of Mega Man to the X generation, I love Mega Man X because it offers me an easygoing departure from the hard as shit classic games.  Thank you, Mega Man X.  You and your Made in Mexico SNES cart will forever remain in my heart.

21. The Legend of Zelda (NES)

The game that started it all.  Why do I love this game?  Just watch the title screen, and you will know.  I fell in love with all the Zelda games on this list from the first few seconds while viewing the title screen, but Zelda 1 was the one game that made me feel like I was playing a Zelda game right from the start.  I felt truly immersed in the 8-bit world, and I found myself playing this game for hours on end, trying to uncover every secret it had to offer.  I think by now I have the entire game memorized.  It is such a beautiful game that I have no more words.  God, I love this game.  Why is it lower, then, you ask?  Wait and see…

20. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GC)

This game is simply beautiful.  Seriously, play it for ten minutes and I guarantee you, you will fall in love with this game.  I can’t understand why people hate this game so much.  If people would not let nostalgia blind them (cough cough Ocarina of Time cough cough) and see this game for what it is, then this game would have thousands more followers.  I have so many tender memories with this game that it’s impossible to write them all down.  People, put nostalgia aside and see this game for what it truly is: a masterpiece.

How can anyone hate this??

19. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GC)

Pretty much all the things I said about Twilight Princess apply here.  Wind Waker is the first Zelda game I fell in love with, and made me realize that gaming isn’t all about just Mario and Pokémon.  One thing, though, before I wrap this one up, THE GREAT SEA IS NOT BORING AND EMPTY, SO SHUT THE F UP!!!  Ocarina of Time’s over world is just as “boring and empty”, and YOU ALL LOVE IT SO GODDHANG MUCH!!!

Was I the only one to notice the pirates, storms, sharks, minigames, pirate towers, octoroks, and, oh, I don’t know, the GIANT F-ING SQUIDS??????????????

Sea? SEA????  GIANT SQUIDS=NOT EMPTY!!!!

You can find treasure, too!  NOT EMPTY!!!!

With that out of the way, though I can say Wind Waker is one of my favorite Zelda games, I have discovered another that has surpassed it entirely…

18. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (SNES)

If I could sum up some of my most nostalgic Mario memories from my childhood, it would be this game.  I always knew, from New Super Mario Bros, that you played as Mario, and when my friend showed me this game, I was blown away that you could play as Yoshi.  I spent so many hours throwing eggs and making tricky flutter jumps.  And hey, how about that final boss, huh?  All in all, this is one of the most beautiful games I have ever played in my entire life.  So go play it.  NOW.

Epic Baby Bowser COMMANDS you to play!

17. Star Fox 64 (N64)

I now present to you: Star Fox 64, one of the greatest titles for the N64, master of one-liners, and number 17 on my list.  This game is one of the funniest, most action packed, most epic, and most replayable games I have ever played.  The branching paths, intense missions, and awesome dogfighting maneuvers keep me on the edge of my seat every time I play.  And, who could forget the corny one liners?

“Hey Einstein, I’m on your side!”

“Do a barrel roll!”

“Can’t let you do that, Star Fox!”

16. Metal Gear Solid (PS1)

Ahh, Metal Gear Solid, how I love thee.  You have the best environment of all the MGS games, great characters, an awesome story, and pretty solid (ha-ha) controls—FOR A PS1 GAME!!!!  Seriously, I love MGS1 and 3 pretty much equally, but the control issues in 1 kept it from tieing with 3 on this list.

NGGGGGGFFFFFFFFFAAAAAAGGGGHHHHHIIIOOOOGGHHHHHHH!!!!!

This would be my favorite MGS game, if not for the bad controls.  Sure, they’re solid (ha-ha), but one must compare the controls of this game to the other MGS games when ranking them on a favorites list.  I loved every other minute of it, but the controls ruined the experience for me.  Better luck next time, MGS1.

15. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS2)

Three words describe this game for me, “What a thrill…”  Heh heh heh heh.  See what I did there?  Though I had a lot of gripes with this game when I played it, these complaints are very small and don’t greatly affect my feelings about this game.  This game is truly a test of survival—a test of your manhood.  If you were man enough to beat this game and earn the title of Big Boss, then my hat is off to you.  And, if you haven’t played or beaten this game yet, then go and play it right now.  It is an adventure you will not soon forget.  It will test your perceptions of society, war, loyalty, and patriotism.  It will test the very core of your being, if that makes any sense.  Just go and play it.  I mean, it’s got Big Boss in it.

Big Freaking Boss.

14. Final Fantasy V (SNES/GBA)

When I first heard about this game and how complicated it was, I decided to skip it in favor of other Final Fantasy titles.  I finally got around to playing it, after having a sturdy background in Final Fantasy, and realized that I love it.  The job system, though complicated, is very deep, and it gives the player a lot of free rein to do whatever with the characters.  The best part is, not only are there a hell of a lot more jobs than FF3 or FF1, you can mix and match the job abilities.  For example, you can be a Knight class while having the ability Berserk, something only a Berserker would normally have.  Many other Final Fantasy games that followed 3 and 5 would adopt a system similar to the job system in which you would earn extra experience points to gain new abilities, like Final Fantasy 6’s Esper system or Final Fantasy 7’s Materia system.  The job system in 5, though, is my favorite gameplay element in all of the Final Fantasy games.  The best part is, you would assume that a game with gameplay so similar to Final Fantasy 1 would not have a compelling story, or even a story at all, right?  WRONG!!!  Final Fantasy V probably has my second favorite Final Fantasy story of all time, and easily my fourth favorite story in all of RPGs.  The characters are fantastic, the villain is awesome, and there are a lot of hilarious scenes in the game.  Final Fantasy V is basically like a combination of Final Fantasy 1 and IV, and that’s why I love it so much.

13. Mega Man 2 (NES)

This game changed my life.  Back in sophomore year, I had caught the RPG bug, and I was so hooked on the complex genre that I forgot my gaming roots: platforming.  Mega Man 2 brought me back to my roots with a vengeance.  I remembered how fun it was to run and jump and shoot, and this time, I was experiencing the thrill with a totally different character than Mario!  The amazing soundtrack, superior level design, amazing set of robot masters, freaking Dr. Wily Stage 1 music—I was immediately hooked.  This newfound addiction to Mega Man games branched out and compelled me to try many Mega Man games.  I can safely say that I would not be the gamer I am today if not for this game.  Thank you, Mega Man 2, for bringing back the platformer in me.

12. Chrono Trigger (SNES/DS)

If anyone said that Chrono Trigger wasn’t a legendary game, then they are a lying sack of shit.  The game has a cast of characters that you immediately fall in love with, an immersive world to explore, a cool villain, and one of the best soundtracks in all of videogames.  I can praise the time travel system of Majora’s Mask until the End of Time (ha ha the end of time get it?), but at the end of the day, Chrono Trigger has my favorite time-travel system in all of gaming.  You visit multiple different time periods, and each time period has its own charm, its own mood, and its own problems.  All these problems stem from the main villain, Lavos, and it’s your job to stop him.  All points in time converge at one central area, an area that has probably my favorite name for a videogame area ever: The End of Time.  Sure you can fight Lavos right off the bat, but you’ll probably get your ass handed to you.  Just wait until you’re ready.  When you are finally ready to face him, it sure is a battle for the ages.   Then you get one of the many different possible endings!  So much replay value here!  And have you heard the soundtrack?  Oh my god!  I just really love this game!  Finally, the character designs and illustrations are done by Akira Toriyama, the creator of the Dragon Ball series.  If that isn’t enough for you to check this game out, then I don’t know what else to tell you.

I am not worthy!!!!!

11. Resident Evil 4 (PS2)

This game just barely missed the top 10.  There’s just one PS2 game that I like just a little bit more…I’m getting off topic.  Let’s talk some Resident Evil 4.  If you want a scary good time, this is your game.  This isn’t some kind of horror game where there are things that make you scream and wet your pants every five seconds—no; this is a different kind of scary.  Game designers, take note: Resident Evil 4 has one of the best tones of any videogame I have ever played, and this is why.  Whenever you enter into an area, there really isn’t any music at all; just maybe the wind blowing or some leaves rustling or something.  But, when you are noticed by a zombie, they yell something in Spanish, alerting their fellow zombie brethren of your presence, and they march in for the attack as some extremely unsettling music plays.  This is the kind of tone I’m talking about: intense, edge-of-your-seat tension that you could just bottle up and sell.  The action is very fun and satisfying, too, and the item management is very strategic.  I heard a lot of hype about this game, and after getting and playing it, it certainly lived up to that hype.  Props to Capcom for making another great game.

10. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PS2)

I really want to talk about this game, mostly because I think it is easily one of the most underrated videogames of all time.  I could discuss its many merits, but there is one topic that I must discuss: Raiden.  BUM BUM BUUUUUUMMMMM!!!

Yeah, you heard me right.  Raiden.

I can hear the mob of MGS fans stirring already.  Well, it just seems the masses of MGS fans don’t understand the genius behind the character that is Raiden.  Raiden is a perfect example of theming in videogames: his character is designed to make the player feel the emotions he feels throughout the entire game.  When he’s shocked, you’re shocked.  When he feels betrayed, you feel betrayed.  Essentially, Raiden is YOU.  I felt a personal connection with Raiden that I didn’t—and I don’t think anyone could—with Snake. The reason being is that Snake and Big Boss are both legendary heroes, while Raiden, like you, is a rookie.  You feel more attached to Raiden’s character because of this fact, and the game’s story progression amplifies this perfectly.  Want to know what I mean?  Just play the damn game.  Some complain that MGS2 is a bad game because you don’t play as Snake the whole time.  Well, Snake in 2 is seen from the third-person perspective for most of the game, and he becomes this idol, this model that you as Raiden want to become.  You couldn’t have this kind of relationship with Snake in the other MGS games because you are him already—you are the legendary hero, so there’s nothing to strive for.  But, in 2, you want to be as good as Snake, so you try your hardest to become just like Snake.  And, in the end, when you feel lost and confused and betrayed, as Raiden, Snake is the only thing keeping you grounded and sane.  That is the reason why this incarnation of Solid Snake is my favorite in the series, and the character of Raiden could be the single reason why I love this game so much.  Want to know what I mean?  Well, stop berating this masterpiece of a game and go play it, damnit!  Also, thank you Kojima.  I’m glad that at least you love the character of Raiden.  I hope someday everyone will acknowledge his true worth.

9. Super Mario 64 (N64)

Boy, what a classic.  I really, truly love this game.  I just can’t put into words why I love this game so much, mostly because anything that I would want to say has already been said.  The music is amazing, the gameplay is solid, it’s just a jolly good time.  I had so much fun playing this game it’s indescribable.  One memory that always comes to mind is my favorite stage, Thwomp’s Fortress.  I loved climbing up the fortress slowly, with bullet bills, thwomps, and whomps waiting to kill you.  It was a blast.  Oh, and who could forget the monkeys and the bunnies?  Good times, good times.

8. Mother (NES/Famicom)

This is one of the games that changed my life.  Seriously. I’m probably angering a lot of Mother fans by putting Earthbound at number 24 and Mother at number 8, but I DON’T CARE!!!!!  This is my favorite game in the Mother series, and my third favorite RPG of all time.  Yes, it bears many similarities to Earthbound, but what I like about Mother is a certain charm that it gives that I don’t find in Earthbound.  I never thought such an amazing game as this could appear on the NES.  It has one of if not my favorite videogame soundtrack of all time, and it has one of my favorite final boss battles of all time.  I love how you defeat Giygas with the very song his human mother sang to him as a lullaby.

snif snif…

By the time that battle was over, I was in tears.  You don’t generally find this kind of depth and emotion in an NES game, and that’s why I love Mother so much.  An old Japanese commercial for Mother stated that it was a “guaranteed masterpiece.”  By golly, they were right.

7. Doom 2 (PC)

Doom 2 is the greatest first person shooter ever made.  There, I said it.  Take that, Goldeneye!  No, seriously.  It is.  Talk about environment and tone.  Doom 2 is a game you need to play if you’re going into game design.  One of the most intense parts about all the Doom games is opening a door, not knowing what’s behind it, or turning a corner and feeling the same feeling of dread while doing so.  The music only adds to this.  Some tracks are actiony, others have a very eerie tone.  Geez, you’re fighting demons in a HELL ON EARTH for God’s sakes!

And, how about that final boss, Icon of Sin?

IT’S A WALL, and it’s still one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen in my life.  This game is great on so many levels.  Definitely the definitive first person shooter.

6. Pokémon Red Version (GB)

Many people have their own definition of nostalgia.  For some, it’s Super Mario Bros; for others, Donkey Kong; for others, (sigh) Ocarina of Time.  For me, the definition of nostalgia is Pokémon Red Version for the Game Boy.  This was the first game I ever owned, and the second game series I ever got into.  I was always into the show and the card game, but neither truly offered me the opportunity to become a Pokémon master.  That opportunity was given to me for the first time when I got Red.  I was truly immersed in the world, and I developed strong relationships with my Pokémon that still remain today.

Squirtle, nothing will ever tear us apart….

And, when I beat the Elite Four and became a Pokémon Master, I felt like a man.  Seriously, it was like an initiation ritual.  The thing that I had always wanted to be, I had become.  Every long holiday that I get, I find myself replaying this game at least once.  I know the world of Kanto so much I feel like I had lived there in another lifetime.  Every time I start in Pallet Town, I start to cry.

snif…snif…BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

The memories Pokémon Red version gave me are memories other games could never hope to give.

5. Final Fantasy IV/II (SNES/GBA)

This game is the definition of a perfect Final Fantasy game and a perfect RPG.  Seriously, I can’t find any flaws in this game.  There’s no real need for grinding, the characters are amazing and have great development, the world is huge and immersive, the dungeons are cool and the boss battles are amazing.  Oh, and need I mention Nobuo Uematsu’s score?  Final Fantasy IV is the total package.  Though it is not my favorite, I truly believe that no other RPG has surpassed the compelling nature and artistry that is Final Fantasy IV.  There’s just this magic about the game that no other game has, and this same magic compels me to play the game and enjoy it.  “But GMS,” you say, “FFIV has just as many characters as in FFVI, and you say there’s nothing wrong with that here?  You hypocrite!”  Well, Final Fantasy IV integrated its characters within the game so well, what with most of them dying and all, that I’d hardly call that a flaw in this game.  There was no, “Choose three parties to complete this dungeon.”  In FFVI, it was just bull crap, but FFIV got everything right.  Every time I go on YouTube to listen to Final Fantasy music, I always see arguments in the comments about which FF is better: VI or VII?  I have just one question: Why does the superior Final Fantasy IV not enter into this debate?  You don’t know how many top ten lists I see for classic games or Super Nintendo games that feature VI but not IV.  It’s a shame that many gamers have forgotten this timeless masterpiece.  I’m just glad that it has its devoted group of fans who see it for what it is: the greatest RPG of all time.

4. Super Metroid (SNES)

Many Metroid Prime fans think this game is overrated.  I am a Super Metroid fan, and I think Metroid Prime is overrated.   Let me just be blunt, though, and say that both arguments can be made.  In reality, both Super Metroid and Metroid Prime are overrated.  But, I’m not here to talk about Metroid Prime; I’m here to talk about Super Metroid.  Super Metroid is another game that you need to play if you’re going into game design.  This is the definition of a perfect game and a perfect sequel.  Everything that was wrong in the previous Metroid titles was completely fixed.  The tone of Super Metroid is easily one of if not the best tones in videogames.  You truly feel like you are on the alien Planet Zebes.  The attention to detail in this game is astounding, too.  Recall when you first land on the planet, and are running through the cave, as little bugs and creatures scuttle away.  My single most favorite part of the entire game is when you first enter Ridley’s Hideout.

HOLY SHIT!!!!!

You usually do this towards the end of the game, so you’re pretty decked out with gear and feel really accomplished.  You go down the elevator into the hideout, and the song “Lower Norfair” plays.  This eerie and epic song is basically Ridley saying that the shit has really hit the fan now.  You think you are powerful now, but the terror has only begun!  Such an epic song, too.  And, who can forget the iconic Mother Brain battle and the sacrifice of the Baby Metroid?  I must admit, I cried during that.   All in all, Super Metroid is a perfect masterpiece.

3. Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES/SNES/GBA)

This is easily my favorite Mario game, mostly due to the fond memories that I have of playing it—even fonder than memories of my first Mario game, New Super Mario Bros.  I had inherited an old SNES from a friend of my aunt’s, and one of the games that came with it was Super Mario All Stars, which included Super Mario Bros. 3.  Since I am a lot better at this game than probably any other Mario game, it became my default option when I got frustrated with Super Mario World (which, by the way, happened frequently).  I loved how the worlds were so lush and unique, like those in Mario World, yet the game retained the straightforward world style that I loved from the beginning.  I also love the challenge of some of the worlds: they were difficult, but not too difficult to the point that it wasn’t still fun.  The biggest change from the games that had preceded it was the worlds’ character.  The worlds felt more alive and lush than those in Mario Bros. 1 of 2.  The power-ups in Mario 3 are easily the best in the series: the classic Raccoon and Tanooki suits, the epic Hammer Bro. suit, the useless Frog suit, and the tried and true Super Mushroom and Fire Flower.  And who can forget the epic boss battle with Bowser at the end?  God, I love this game.  I love the Super Nintendo version, by the way.  There’s nothing wrong with the NES version, but the SNES version gives the game so much more life.  It truly does the game more justice than its older 8-bit edition.  I just really, really love this game, so I’m going to stop now before I go on a gushing rampage.  If you haven’t played this game, go out right now and play it!!!

2. Final Fantasy 1 (Dawn of Souls Version: GBA), and Dragon Quest (NES, SNES, GBC)

These games are some of the many games that have changed my life.  Let me talk about both in detail.

Before I played this game, my only knowledge of RPGs was Pokémon, and I really don’t consider Pokémon a RPG.  I went to Half Price Books during my winter break of sophomore year, and saw two GBA cartridges: Final Fantasy IV Advance and Final Fantasy I and II Dawn of Souls.  I used all my money and bought both of them, then immediately started playing the first game when I got home.  I popped it into my GBA, and was transported into a bright, beautiful, and lush world of magic.  I remember my first team clearly.  The names were all names of my friends, except the Black Mage, which was me.

 Because I’m always the Black Mage, bitch.

This game showed me all that RPGs can be.  It is a simple game, yet it has this charm that I don’t think any other Final Fantasy games have, even the perfect IV.  One thing must be said, though: The Dawn of Souls version is far superior to the NES original, mostly because of the ever discussed grinding issue.  Now I, unlike many other gamers, don’t really mind the grind, as long as there are favorable conditions for grinding.  The grinding situation in the NES edition of I is horrible: the enemies you can successfully defeat give so meager an amount of experience, but the enemies that give a decent amount of experience can easily kill your team.  Dawn of Souls improved on this so much that grinding becomes less of a chore and more of an adventure.  The enemies give you almost double the experience and money than the NES version does, and the difficulty is dummed down to an actual playable level.  Besides the grinding issue, though I doesn’t have a sweeping story like most other Final Fantasy games, its simple story is charming and epic.  If you dig deeper, though, you’ll find complicated elements to the story in the game’s ending, like the 2,000 year time loop, which I still don’t think I completely understand.  The soundtrack was vastly improved upon as well, adding boss themes and remastering the original tunes.  I think this might be my favorite Final Fantasy soundtrack ever.  I love this game because of its simplicity yet elegance.  It was truly an adventure not forgotten, and without it I can safely say I wouldn’t have gotten hooked on RPGs at all.  In the end, I was the true warrior of light.  The crystals will shine in my heart forever.

Dragon Quest is easily the most important RPG ever created (well, besides D ‘n D).  It created the genre essentially in Japan, and took a lot of inspiration from older, and frankly not that good, Western RPGs like Ultima.  The story is simple and, yes, cliché, but that’s easily forgivable, because Dragon Quest invented the cliché.  The gameplay can be tough, especially with the grinding, but I stick by what I said about Final Fantasy 1.  In fact, grinding to me makes me feel more accomplished about playing the game when I beat it.  That said, the SNES and GBC versions tone down the grinding by half, making the game easier to play. One of the things that I like about Dragon Quest is that it’s the perfect bite-sized RPG.  Clocking in at about 4, 6, or 8 hours to beat, it really is simplicity defined as far as RPGs and, you know me, I love me some simplicity.  One of the reasons I don’t like a lot of new games is that they seem to have large and long-winded stories, and these usually don’t appeal to me.  Not so with Dragon Quest.  Pretty much everything from Final Fantasy 1 applies here as well.  And, how about that main theme?  Koichi Sugiyama’s score for this game is simply beautiful.  And, come on, like Chrono Trigger, Dragon Quest’s art direction and character design were done by Akira Toriyama!  All in all, Dragon Quest is a magical experience I won’t soon forget.

Once again, I AM NOT WORTHY!!!!!!

1. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (N64)

It’s very interesting that this game is the only Zelda game in my top 10, or even in my top 15.  This is just a testament to how unique and amazing of a game Majora’s Mask is.  I can safely say that my journey playing Majora’s Mask was my perfect Zelda odyssey.  All of the merits that I praised about the other games in the series apply here.  It is a beautiful game, and I fell in love with it from the very first seconds of playing it.  That being said, Majora’s Mask was my most complete Zelda experience as well.  I mentioned how I felt emptiness after beating Ocarina of Time—that I really didn’t feel accomplished or happy when I beat it.  Ocarina of Time was the worst case scenario for me in the Zelda series, as after beating the other Zelda games on this list I felt a certain degree of emptiness—of not being truly happy or accomplished.  This cannot be said of my experience with Majora’s Mask.  This game is one of the most criminally underrated games of all time.  Many Zelda fans berate it for its lack of dungeons, many fans berate it because it looks like Ocarina of Time, many berate it because it supposedly “copies” off of Ocarina of Time, the list goes on and on.  None of these are true.  For one, yes, the game has only four dungeons, but the amount of side quests completely makes up for this.  In fact, I think that having any more than these four dungeons would be detrimental to the game itself.

Besides, Stone Tower Temple is easily one of if not the best Zelda dungeons ever.

The side quests allowed you to connect with the other characters in the world in a way that no other Zelda game has before or any other will in the future.  Another issue that comes up in Majora’s Mask discussions is the three day cycle and how stupid it is.  It is not stupid.  Nintendo experimented with a new design choice, and it worked perfectly.  It was a triumph.  The three-day cycle was my favorite part of the game, as I loved pouring over the strategy guide and seeing how much people I could save in one day.  That is why the time cycle is a great design choice—everything you did in the time cycle is erased when you play the Song of Time.  You forge this connection with the people of Clock Town and Termina, and you feel this compelling need to save them from their horrible fate.  You accomplish many tasks in one cycle, and you feel sad when you play the Song of Time, because it means everything you had done was a waste—it had no impact on the people at all.  I remember when I saw the Dawn of a New Day screen when I beat the game, I felt so relieved and happy to see this, and to see the ending.

Best day of my life!

The ending wasn’t the best ending ever, but it certainly was the most satisfying.  I could seriously write a whole paper on why I love this game.  It was truly my perfect Zelda odyssey.

So, that’s my Top 30 games of all time—for now.  My opinion may change, but I highly doubt it will for a while.  Just remember: this list is my humble opinion, and I understand that you may not feel the same way as I do.  I just want to put my thoughts out here, not insult anyone.  That said, what did you think?  Feel free to strike up a conversation, as long as it’s constructive debate.  Thanks for reading, and remember: “Opinions are like assholes.  Everyone’s got one.”

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K Dog’s Review of Nights into Dreams for the Sega Saturn

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Nights into Dreams is a plat former game  released in 1996 on the Sega Saturn video game console. This game is known as one of Saturn’s most well known titles and I, unfortunately, was unable to play this game when it first came out because I didn’t have a Sega Saturn. Luckily this game just came out on Xbox marketplace and the playstation network so I was able to play this game just recently for the first time ever. My impressions, well, that is what I am going to talk about right now. Being a massive Sega fan growing up, I was very eager to try this game out and see why this game is considered a masterpiece for gamers everywhere and one of the Sega’s greatest games that is known to give the best Sonic games a run for their money. This game was actually made by the sonic team that made Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 for the Dream cast and that caught my attention right away since those two titles are some of my favorite games of all time. After finishing Nights into Dreams just recently I have to say: This game is one of the most unique, and beautiful games I have ever played in my life with fun addicting game play and charm that few games can even come close to match.

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(Original Sega Saturn case)

I have to say, even though this game is classified as a plat former, it really isn’t at all. The game play in Nights into Dreams is very unique and I would classify it as a mix between sonic game play and racing and acrobatic game play. However, before I start talking about the game play of this game I need to talk about the story and the set up of this game. Okay, now about the story: In this game when people dream, their dreams take place in two places in the dream world, Nightmare and Nightopia with Nightmare being bad and Nightopia being good. Basically the ruler of Nightmare, called Wizeman, wants to take over Nightopia by stealing sleeping visitors’ energy, power that is held in luminous spheres in the dream world called Ideya spheres,  so that he can actually take over Nightopia and finally the real world with this power.

(Wizeman)

For Wizeman to achieve his plans he creates jester like beings called Nights and Reala to carry out his plan by collecting the energy in Nightopia. All things go according to plan until Nights defects from Wiseman and Reala and because of this, Wizeman traps Nights in an Ideya palace container in Nightopia waiting for someone to free him. In the real world, there are two kids named Elliot and Claris and they are both suffering through major fears and problems in their lives. Elliot loves to play basketball but he is playing against older people and is afraid people are going to make fun of him and tease him because they might  think he might not be as good as them. Claris wants to sing in a play but she is afraid to audition because she has stage fright. One day they have nightmares that plays out these events in terrifying in fearful ways in the dream world of Nightmare. Both of them run away from their nightmares and go to the world of Nightopia where Nights calls to them to rescue him. The two children are able to stay in Nightopia during their dreams because they possess the Red Ideya of Courage that allows Wizeman to not take their entire energy but unfortunately Wiseman is able to steal their hope, growth, intelligence and purity Ideya spheres. When Nights is freed, he or she tells the kids  all about Wizeman’s plans and the kids go on an adventure to stop Wizeman and save Nightopia and retrieve the Ideya stones that Wizeman has stolen.

The story isn’t really complex or complicated and can be seen as sort of childish (which is what I thought at first), but it is really executed well with a story that is about two kids conquering their fears by defeating Wizeman with the help of Nights. It is a very touching story that has a simple yet touching beautiful ending that leaves you with an optimistic feeling about seeking and achieving your dreams  with the kids learning to face their fears and defeat Wizeman and face their fears in real life and accomplish what they want to do in life. The story is just magical exploring the concepts of dreams, the collective sub conscious, Carl Jung psychology, magic,  Fulfillment, free spirit and so on. Yet the game’s story is all explained in cut scenes with no dialogue which is what makes the game’s story even better. Really the story is told all through the visuals, the music, and gameplay and leaves every person who plays it, able to interpret what everything in the game means. I love games and works of art in general that allow audiences to interpret what they mean. This adds a special personal connection that varies from viewer to viewer or player to player. My experience with this game is different from yours probably, but that is the beauty of art in general, it inspires and entertains people in different ways. Honestly there was just something about this game that was really beautiful and felt like a magical experience. I think part of the reason was the connection between reality and dreams this game has in the game’s story and gameplay, maybe it was the game’s controls and the relaxing soothing feeling this game had, maybe it was the ending, maybe it was the music, actually I am going to say it was all of these things combined.

(Nights and Reala)

(The gameplay in this game is very smooth, addicting, and relaxing personally).

Now that I have talked about the story, now I can talk about the game play. The game play revolves around you being Claris or Elliot freeing Nights and traveling around the dream world getting back Ideya spheres that Wizeman has stolen. To do this, players have to control Nights and actually fly and travel through the dream worlds flying through rings and collecting blue chips that can release the Ideya speheres from special  containers. Once you do that, Nights has to fight the boss of the level and save that part of the dream world. All of this is on a time limit, however, where you have to hurry and beat the boss or else the night will be over resulting in a game over.

(In this boss you need to hit missiles, that the boss detonates, to stop them from launching at you)

Since there is a time limit, there is no room to mess around so you have to be really quick flying through rings and collecting spheres. This leads to the game being similar to sonic the hedgehog games with you being really quick to complete a level as well as you being graded on how well you play the level. Not only are you graded on how fast you are but also on how many rings you fly through and what acrobatic tricks you can do. The game play is mostly on a 2D plane and the controls are very fluid and flexible. Nights can do acrobatic tricks like spins and twirls with a touch of a button. Some make Nights go faster and some make Nights look cooler. The thing I love about this game is how relaxing and soothing this game is. The game play is very simple with you just flying through rings in a simple 2D plane. You go through dreams with very good level designs and unique obstacles but the whole game isn’t frustrating at all. I am not a fan of frustrating games since they always put me in bad mood. Games like Castlevania and Ninja Gaiden have a problem where the difficulty is way too hard that it distracts from your experience while playing a game. However there are few instances where difficulty enhances the story and gameplay like one of my favorite games, Catherine, which uses its difficulty as a way to enhance its story and game play immersive themes as well as enhancing your feeling of triumph after you complete a level that is tough and filled with anxiety. Nights into Dreams, however, is not hard but it always puts me in a good mood whenever I play it because of its flexible and smooth gameplay. In all honesty, when it comes to flying gameplay, there was no other game that I have played, that made me more satisfied with flying than in this game. There was no other game, in my mind, that gave you the truest and greatest sensation of flying in all directions, diving like a rocket, or floating gracefully. Always the idea of flying, rather than falling, was always a sense of empowerment. When we are flying, or dreaming of flying, it lifts our spirits up allowing us to achieve the impossible, which is what Elliot and Claris do in this game, yet they find this empowerment and optimism………….. in a dream, yet, they bring it into their own life.

(It was a great journey…..it was a dream……. yet It all felt real)

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One of my absolute favorite things about this game is its soundtrack. This game has to have one of my favorite soundtracks out of any game  I have ever played, and that is saying a lot. The songs are just wonderfully composed with songs being very soothing, magical, up beat and catchy, emotional, and fitting to all of  the different dream worlds that you are in. The songs in this game are very unique and they just have this magical mystical feeling that makes it unique from other games. The songs fit very well with the fast yet relaxing game play of controlling Nights so all in all, the music compliments the game play and the settings amazingly well. Really, the music is one of the main reasons why this game works so well. The music adds so much charm and  mystical awe to the story and dream worlds.

While the graphics aren’t really stunning for today’s standards, they were very very good back when it came out in 1996. The graphics aren’t stunning but they have a lot of charm and personality. night’s movements are very fluid and acrobatic and the bosses and levels are filled with color and personality. I am sure many people will compare Nights with Peter Pan because of his flying and the image of Nights up on London’s Big Ben at the beginning of the game.

Even Nights and Peter Pan’s personalities are similar. In Nights into Dreams, Nights is described as a free spirited being just as Peter Pan is described as free spirited and someone who doesn’t want to grow up. Also people can compare that both Nights and Peter Pan befriend kids as well as take them to a magical world. This definitely is similar to Nights into Dream’s Nightopia and Peter Pan’s Never Land. The only difference is that Never Land is a physical place while Nightopia is a dream world made up of everyone’s subconscious thoughts. This isn’t a bad thing however. I love to see things take  inspiration from other amazing works. I think it is just cool that this game is taking inspiration from one of Disney’s greatest movies.

All in all, I can’t find any genuine flaws that I had with this game except that maybe that it was a little short. The game has 8 dreams with 4 starting off with you being Claris and the other 4 with you starting off as Elliot. There arn’t many dreams but they are all very varied requiring you to use different techniques to complete them. Even though some levels are on a 2D plane, sometimes the levels shift to 3D where you go underwater or ride a sled down a snowy hill. While there are 8 normal levels, if you complete the game once, you unlock bonus content in the game with a great feature of playing Christmas Nights, which is a Christmas base dream level where you play as Nights with the original game play intact.

christmas-nights

I was playing this game during the Christmas time so seeing that there was Christmas themed levels was a pleasant surprised. The levels really got me in a Christmas mood in my own life with the levels having Christmas music and a Christmas themed boss.

knights christmas

One of my favorite things about Christmas Nights was that it even had a separate story that was short…..yet sweet: Everyone is getting ready for Christmas and getting presents for their loved ones, among these loved ones are Elliot and Claris. Everyone is in a rush this Christmas, and rather than slowing down and appreciating the season, everyone is just rushing and hustling to get presents and not pay attention to what is going on. Claris and Elliot realize that the thing that is missing this holiday season is true Christmas spirit symbolized by the lack of a star on the Christmas tree in their town of Twin Seeds.

Claris and Eliot go on a quest through the dream world to get the star back from a brightly colored Christmas themed Gillwing boss.

Once Claris and Eliot get back the star with the help of Nights, they finally get everyone in their town to slow down and enjoy the Christmas season. Finally the game ends with the season’s greeting giving me the nod to appreciate the holiday season. Yes, this is now going to be my regular game to play when the Christmas season starts and I am proud of it because I sure need to get into the Christmas spirit sometimes. A merry late late late late late Christmas everyone.

This game is truly a masterpiece and I recommend it to anyone who takes gaming seriously or just someone who wants a simple yet fun and unique experience. The game has a simple yet genuinely touching story, the game play is relaxing and fun and the music is some of the best that I have heard in any game. This game is so creative and unlike so many games in general that the legendary Nintendo designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, stated that if there was one game that he wish he would have made, it would have been Nights into Dreams. (Ahhhh Miyamoto, I think in this instance you take after Nights into Dreams).

Nights into Dreams definitely stands as one of Sega’s finest games ever and definitely deserves the honor as one of the greatest games of all time, and now the honor as one of my favorite games of all time.

K Dog’s Review of Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek

K Dog here.

Right now I feel like I want to give a shot on doing my first movie review. I think, what better movie to review, first, than a new movie that just came out, Star Trek Into Darkness. Being someone who never did a review, I am going to basically point out things that I like about the movie and say what my personal opinion is and than say what kinds of people would enjoy this movie. I am not going to try to be a harsh critic but If I see flaws that some people will find flaws , I will gladly point them out. Of course I will definitely point out the good things about the movie as well. So lets get this review started.

First of all, before I start, I want to say that I am a massive Star Trek fan. My parents and grandparents are fans of star trek and my family basically has all the seasons. I didn’t watch all of the episodes in Star Trek, but I at least think that I know enough to classify myself a fan of the TV series. I love the characters, sci fi elements, and wonderful stories that the series has. It was a low budget show, so the show relied on the most important thing that shows need, and that is a great story. Basically Star Trek, according to Gene Roddenberry, was a series that had people with different racial backgrounds working together on the ship called the Enterprise searching the universe and go where no one has ever gone before.  Every single Star Trek episode was very creative and compelling. Episodes in the show deals with sci fi elements and also deals with character  interaction and interesting scenarios. I don’t want to spoil plots for those who haven’t seen the show, but basically some plots deal with time travel, battles in space, battles on planets, and space politics. Even though the show did have action, the show relied on story and characters and sci fi elements to captivate viewers. There are episodes like Balance of Terror that is filled with action and intense situations, but the episode was really compelling because of the dueling nature of the  two characters that were fighting each other, Kirk and the Romulan commander .  Just to say what my favorite episode was, mine was The City on the Edge of Forever. For those who watched it, you probably know why I like it so much. For those who haven’t watched it, basically I like it for the story, and tragic nature of the episode.

Now when it comes to Star Trek movies, I didn’t actually watch many movies dealing with Star Trek. Ironically, the only Star Trek movies I saw were Star Trek 2009 and Star Trek Wrath of Khan, and one of them is basically being retold in this movie, Star Trek Into Darkness. I love Star Trek Wrath of Khan and I love Star Trek 2009 so basically it seemed that I will definitely enjoy this movie. As it turned out, I was right. Star Trek Into Darkness is a high quality film that accomplishes what it is set out to do by being a fun, adventurous, enjoyable summer blockbuster that is very engaging.

As I said, this movie is basically a retelling of Star Trek Wrath of Khan because of the split timeline that was established in Star Trek 2009. The split timeline is basically for JJ Abrams and all of the people involved in the movie to to do their own stories and own characters without worrying about being exactly like the TV show. Personally, I really like this idea even though a lot of Trek fans may not. This split timeline especially helps with the new actors, who I think do an exceptional job playing their characters even though they are a lot different from the original people who played the characters in the TV show. While the new movies lose a lot of stuff that made Star Trek great in the first place, like sci elements and slow and steady pacing and the exact character characterizations. I feel that a movie like the original series wouldn’t do very well in today’s movie line up. Right before Star Trek 2009 came out, Star Trek was basically dead and nobody really knew anything about it except people who watched the TV series when it first aired. Really, Star Trek movies on the TV show were basically made for people who were fans of the show and not fans of movies. The movies felt like you were watching a TV show. When I watched Wrath of Khan, I felt I was watching an amazing, intense Star Trek episode. The new movies were very refreshing and a nice nod to the old TV series. It is different, yes, but that’s because it is wants to be different. The movies don’t have the slow pacing and sci fi elements like the old TV show but they have fast pace action, excitement, good character interactions, and humor. In a way the new movies feel like it is Star Trek in the style of Star Wars, and what do you know, JJ Abrams is directing Star Wars Episode 7 real soon. The main point I am trying to make is that when making a Star Trek movie a summer blockbuster for the mass audiences, things need to be changed to make it appeal for everyone and not just all of the hardcore fans. Some people may not like this change but some people like it. The new movies are action adventure movies that are nods to the old TV series. When I look at it that way, I enjoy this movie a lot for its exciting and adventurous atmosphere with bits and pieces from the old Star Trek TV series.

If I had to come up with a theme for this new Star Trek movie it would have to be about sacrifice and responsibility. In the first movie, Kirk became captain of the Enterprise by proving that he is very capable to be a leader by saving Earth from the Romulans. Now that he is captain in this movie, Kirk faces the hardships for being one. He is reckless and puts a lot of his team mates in danger, and he doesn’t follow orders given to him by Pike and Star Fleet. Because of this, Kirk has to look at himself more and understand the hardships of being captain. In this movie it shows that Kirk isn’t perfect and he will have to make some tough decisions in order to do whats right and what is the best for his crew. I like the Kirk in this movie and I find his arch very compelling even though it is a lot different from Shatner’s Kirk arch. In this movie, Kirk starts to figure out how he  fits into the grand scheme of things and realizes that this might not allow him to see himself in a good way. The movie definitely focuses on the characters Kirk and Spock, but mostly Kirk. I don’t want to spoil the plot but the plot is very simple but very well done. This movie really had good interactions between Kirk and Spock and in this movie I felt that they were really friends.

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(Kirk and Spock really develop their friendship in this movie).

The intensity of this movie was brilliant and I was on the edge of my seat the entire movie. Not only was the movie intense but it was also very funny and dramatic. JJ Abrams, I feel, has a way of mixing drama and comedy very well and in this movie, he does it brilliantly. Most of this is thanks to the cast, which I think is perfectly cast. Chris Pine is at his best as Kirk being very arrogant and smart, but also very vulnerable. I really like the arch Kirk has in this movie because of how different it is from Shatner’s arch from the original series. I don’t want to spoil anything but Kirk in this movie definitely begins to understand his place in the grand scheme of things and it turns out this discovery doesn’t put himself in a good light as a captain or a person. Zachary Quinto’s portrayal of Spock in this movie really grew on me compared to 2009’s Spock. Anton Yelchin is great as Chekov, Karl Urban is hilarious as Bones in this movie as he was in the last movie. Some people will be disappointed that Bones is not really that important in this movie and he is  just the guy with the one liners. While it is a little disappointing  I still enjoyed all of the lines Bones said. He cracked me up through the entire movie.  John Cho’s Sulu also gets a little more characterization in this movie than he did in the last movie. Most of this is by little moments but the little moments that Sulu has in this movie are some of the best parts of the movie. Bruce Greenwood is also very good in this movie even though he isn’t in it that much. There is a sad scene involving him, but that is besides the point (I am going to try and not have that much spoilers). Simon Pegg’s Scotty steals just about every scene he’s in this movie. He is very funny and I just loved watching him in this movie. I think most people would agree that the big stand out performance in this movie is Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of John Harrison, the antagonist in this movie. Alright I will just say it since I said this movie is like Wrath of Khan:(BIG SPOILER ALERT) Benedict Cumberbatch is this guy:

khan

Benedict Cumberbatch has so much charisma in this movie, stealing all the scenes he is in. He is actually not much of a villain in this movie, but if anything, he is the antagonist. Benedict Cumberbatch also has great chemistry in this movie with Chris Pine’s Kirk. I enjoyed all of the scenes they were in.

Star Trek Into Darkness trailer 2 Uhura

(Uhora actually does way more in this movie compared to the last movie.

She even does some ground missions with Kirk and Spock)

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(Simon Pegg as Scotty)

Benedict Cumberbatch

(Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison)

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(We get to see a bit of Klingons in this movie)

I saw this movie twice with one being in 3d and one being just a regular movie.I loved both of the viewings. The visuals are top notch having a clean and dark sense of picture. Many people complain about this but I personally liked the visuals in this movie, maybe even a little better than the first one. There is CGI, yes, but there are also real sets. JJ Abrams mixes between CGI and regular sets and real shots and I think he did a stellar job. In this movie there is a lot of times were things are CGI at first but then it moves on to an action scene that is on a real set. Oh, I need to say the action in this movie is very good. The action has purpose in this movie’s story and I thought they were filmed well and and were exciting. This movie was also one of the better 3D movies I have seen. The 3D isn’t gimmicky like  alot of movies where people point directly towards you or something sharp is coming near your way. The 3D in this movie is very subtle and sometimes I forgot I was even watching a 3D movie. The 3D basically put me into the movie more by adding just a little extra depth to the picture. There is a special shot that has the Enterprise move into warp drive and it leaves a smokey blue trail. This was pretty cool to watch in 3D because it gave the sense that there was actually smoke in the movie theater. I know I might be stretching my enjoyment a little too much but this movie had really good 3D, and I rarely see movies in 3D.

Now this movie got mostly positive reviews and some mixed reviews. The complaints people usually complained about this movie and the other 2009 movie is how it doesn’t really feel like Star Trek and it feels more like Star Wars. Like I said, I am a big Star Trek fan and I was able to appreciate the new movies and the directions that they took. They were exciting and fun with great characters with very solid performances. While the characters were different like Chris Pine being different from William Shatner and Zachary Quinto being different that Leonard Nimoy. I enjoyed all of the characters and I can still see parts of the original cast in the TV series in the new cast. When it comes to the action, I thought the action was very good and it had a purpose to the story, unlike most Michael Bay movies. I didn’t mind not having the usual sci elements like the original series, and I am a huge sci fan. Another thing people complained about was the lack of a creative story and inside jokes the movie had for fans of the TV series. Personally I liked the story, and while it wasn’t as complex as other Star Trek movies, it was still complex enough for me to enjoy it and see that the movie had depth. The story was very intense and I describe it as being one big roller coaster ride. There really isn’t a boring moment in this movie, I enjoyed every single scene. Now to the personal jokes, I felt they were really funny and I enjoyed the references that were taken from the original series. This movie even has Leonard Nimoy in it and while his cameo is smaller than the last movie, it is still very good and enjoyable. This movie is basically a remake of Star Trek so I feel it is necessary to have inside jokes and things that relate to the original series. (Spoiler Alert) This movie even has the famous line “KHAAAAAN” being said. While some may find it a little cheesy and corny, I just smiled when I heard the line being said and I was even sad because of the circumstances in the scene.  There is one issue in this movie that I did find and that was its fast pacing. While I thought the fast pacing worked with the movie and helped it, I also felt that it went too fast in some scenes. When it comes to an action adventure movie I feel it needs fluidity, and this movie and  Star Trek 2009 really had that fluidity. The films were fast paced but they never had a boring moment. JJ Abrams is great with focusing his scenes in his movies. Every scene is focused and serves its purpose in the movie. However, when it comes to bringing  plot twists in a movie that goes this fast, sometimes you lose what was said in the moment. The first time I watched this movie, there was basically one scene that explained everything you need to know about the villain and the story. The scene went really quick and I didn’t fully get everything that was needed to know about the movie. The second time I watched it, I understood the scene and the movie completely but it still is an issue. Maybe it was just me and maybe others may not have a hard time understanding the scene, but I still thought it was an issue that needed to be addressed. Also this movie, like that last movie, has  a lot of plot holes. While some people will find this an issue, I don’t find it that big of an issue because I was enjoying the movie and the movie suspended my disbelief because of how fun the movie was. Another issue I had was that the ending felt a little bit like a cop out. Right before the ending I was hoping the ending was going to end on the way I wanted it to end but it instead went on a route that had to be done to allow for future sequels to be made.

Star Trek Into Darkness is not the best movie I have ever seen but it was one of the most enjoyable movies I have seen in a long time. The characters are very good by being funny yet also very real and vulnerable. The story is not very complex but there are twist and turns that will make you have an enjoyable experience. The visuals are great, the soundtrack is great having the usual sounding songs like the 2009 movie, and the 3D is some of the best that I have seen in a long time. To be perfectly honest, this is probably my favorite Star Trek movie when it comes to just plain enjoyment. It was very very entertaining and thrilling, which is what an adventure blockbuster should be. I am not going to give a ranking since I want the review to speak for it self, but I really enjoyed the movie and I would recommend the movie for anyone who wants to see a fun, exciting, and entertaining movie. I also recommend this movie to Star Trek fans but I also recommend that they  don’t have specific and high expectations on what a Star Trek movie should be. Just come into the movie and let the movie speak for it self. It is different but it is very good. Just put yourself in a different mindset, if anything put yourself in the Star Wars mindset. I know that sounds weird but it helps, trust me.  The movie is an action adventure movie set in space, not a sci fi movie, kind of like Star Wars.  I can’t tell you how many Star Trek reviews I saw, said, so harshly, why everyone should hate this movie. I read the reviews before I saw the movie but when I saw the movie I decided to just take an honest look at the movie and I just forgot all about the fans’ hating comments and enjoyed the movie. This is a good summer action movie and I am excited on what the next movie in the Star Trek series will be like, if there is one.

K Dog’s Top Paper Mario and Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door Chapters

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After just starting this blog recently, my first thing I actually posted was my top 15 favorite Mario games and anyone who read it have seen that I put Paper Mario and Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door on the number 1 spot. While this could be considered shocking, especially since they were RPGs and not plat formers (which Mario is known for specifically), it was a list of my personal favorites and not what I consider the best ever made. I am always more of an RPG guy than a plat former guy and while I love all of the Mario games, and they rank very very closely to one another, there is just something about Paper Mario and Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door that makes them stand out more to me than the others. These things are usually personal things like how they were the games that got me into RPGs. But the thing  I love about these games the most, is just their creativity and quirkiness that makes the games such a charming and an enjoyable experience. The games are like story books that put Mario and the player in wacky situations that are both creative story wise and gameplay wise. These situations in the game are divided into chapters, and in honor of my appreciation for these awesome Mario games, I am going to do a count down of my favorite Paper Mario and Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door chapters. This list is mostly for people who played the Paper Mario games and if anyone hasn’t played these games, do yourselves a major favor and play them now. Right now I am even trying to convince The Great Mighty Steve to play these games and he still didn’t get around to it yet. So without further ado here is my favorite Paper Mario and Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door chapters.

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(Seeing this dungeon pop out of the desert so dramatically was such an amazing moment in this chapter)

15. The Mystery of Dry, Dry Ruins (Paper Mario)

Lets start off this list in the hot desert (well dry desert). Anyway,  Dry Dry Ruins in the original Paper Mario was an awesome chapter that made Mario a play off of Indiana Jones. Mario had to travel through the desert (without getting lost hopefully) to find the secret temple called dry dry ruins. The chapter was a mix of mystery and puzzle solving that required Mario to search for clues to find  Dry Dry Ruins and then later  solve puzzles inside Dry Dry Ruins. What I love about this chapter is the mystique and awe of the chapter. My favorite part easily is when Mario has to search for Dry Dry Ruins to place a secret stone in a pedestal in order for the ruins to appear. The revealing of Dry Dry Ruins was so awesome with the music, night setting, and earthquake that was scaring everyone in the desert. A stand out chapter in Paper Mario for sure.

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14. Storming Koopa Bros. Fortress (Paper Mario)

The very first Paper Mario chapter, so it should be expected that this chapter has a lot of nostalgia for me. This chapter is a great introductory chapter in the game because of its simplicity and overall execution by having interesting villians, characters, and a creepy castle to explore in the end. This chapter introduces two of some of my favorite Paper Mario partners, Kooper and Bombette. This chapter also has one of the best and coolest Mario villains, The Koopa Bros.

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(This chapter introduces Bombette who is probably the cutest bobomb ever seen in a Mario game.)

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(Mario+Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles=Koopa Bros……..Awesome)

13. Mario Shoots the Moon (Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door)

Already a very interesting chapter because you have to travel to the moon which wasn’t seen in a Mario game since Super Mario Land 2, if I am not mistaken. This chapter does take place on the moon but before you do that you have to talk to some stubborn Russian bobombs to convince them to use their ultra super cannon that can shoot you to the moon. Once you do that you are on your way to the x naught fortress on the moon with an epic showdown with Magnus Von Grapple 2. A chapter I like mostly because of its humor with the bobombs and the exploration that you have on the moon.

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(“The white and black colors that Boggly Woods has is such a joy to watch and the quiet soothing music that plays in the background fits perfectly with the setting”)

12. The Great Boggly Tree (Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door)

The setting of this chapter is absolutely gorgeous. The white and black colors that Boggly Woods has  is such a joy to watch and the quiet soothing music that plays in the background fits perfectly in the setting. This chapter is definitly a play off of the Nintendo franchise Pikmin because it requires Mario to order an army of Punies to get further and further in the Great Boggly Tree by battling enemies and solving puzzles. At the end of the chapter you have to fight Magnus Von Grapple, which is an awesome boss if I do say so myself. This chapter is also great because it introduces one of my favorite characters, Vivian, who is abused horribly by her two older sisters.

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11. Castle and Dragon (Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door)

The first chapter in Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door, and like Paper Mario’s Storming Koopa Bros Fortress chapter, this chapter is a great introductory chapter to the game. This chapter is awesome because it has Mario fighting a Dragon named Hooktail ( I love dragons so that is an automatic win for me). The boss battle is awesome with me just barely beating her the first time I versed her. I didn’t have the special badge  so fighting Hooktail without it was a real pain. It was sure intense, though, with me just winning by pure luck by getting my life replenished on the slot machine.  Not only is the boss great, this chapter had Mario meeting two of some of my favorite partners, Mrs Mowz and Koops, as well as having Mario take part in a quiz run by a thwomp in a bow tie.

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(I laughed the first time I saw this!)

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10. Dark Days in Flower Fields (Paper Mario)

One of the last Paper Mario chapters, and one of the toughest. Dark Days in Flower Fields required Mario to save flower fields from the clutches of Huff n Puff, who wants to block out the sun and fill the entire sky with clouds. Sounds silly, I know, but this causes all of the flowers in Flower Fields to wilt and die because of the lack of sun. This chapter had great enemies, fantastic music, and one of my favorite bosses in the entire game, as well as the hardest.

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9. Hot, Hot, Times on Lavalava Island (Paper Mario)

A chapter based on one of my favorite Mario games of all time, Yoshi’s Island. This chapter had Mario interacting with Yoshis and Ravens to rescue the star spirit being held in Lava Lava Island’s Volcano. This chapter had music from Yoshi’s island as well as having one of my favorite bosses in the game, Lava Piranha. The atmosphere in this chapter was also really good, especially in Lava Lava Island’s volcano with its lava and deadly traps.

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(The volcano was great to explore with its awesome puzzles and scary and dangerous hazards.)

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8. Trials in the Toy Box (Paper Mario)

Aaaaahhhh!!!!! Toad town is being invaded by shy guys who are stealing everyone’s stuff and their secret hideout is in a……..Toy box? Yeah…..anyway it is up to Mario to stop them and return everyone’s stolen items to everyone in Toad Town. This chapter is just wild and crazy. I love how Toad Town completely changes from a peaceful town to a town that is filled with panic. In this chapter you get to explore a toy box setting as well as fighting the leader of the Shy Guys, General Guy.

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(General Guy was a very unique boss because he was able to use his shy guy soldiers to assist him in battle)

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7. The Key to Pirates (Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door)

When it comes to the whole Pirate vs Ninja debate, I always side with Pirates. I don’t know, I just love the adventurous, thrilling and wild life of a pirate compared to the stoic nature of a ninja. Well in this chapter in Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door, Mario becomes a pirate and sails to Keelhaul Key to get the Crystal Star from the scary, yet hilarious Captain Cortez. This chapter also has Mario meeting the extremely awesome sea dog bob bomb named Bobberry and the chapter ends with you not only fighting Captain Cortez but also sailing his ship to fight the x naughts in a one on one pirate ship battle.

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(Cortez is a head while talking but is very tough and challenging in battle)

6. The Thousand Year Door (Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door)/ A Star-Powered Showdown (Paper Mario)

Yes, I know I share spots a little too much and I am starting to not do it as much I used to in the past. However, these two chapters are the conclusions to Paper Mario and Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door and I love both of their endings equally.

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A Star Powered Showdown: After spending the entire game rescuing the star spirits, it is finally time for Mario to take on Bowser at his most evil and powerful state yet. This chapter is absolutely epic with Mario traveling to Bowser and Peach’s castle having to go through different stages of Bowser’s castle with the awesome music playing in the background. After that it is time to go into Peach’s castle where the mood takes a complete 180 turn having the music be completely eery and terrifying and having no one in Peach’s castle except Bowser, Kammy Koopa, and Peach. The fight with Bowser is just epic and  do I really have to mention the ending which features a parade and my favorite ending screen song ever in a video game?

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(The parade in the ending is so much like Disney World’s night parade.)

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( I usually just spend an hour just letting this screen play to watch this wonderful scene and

listen to the amazing music. I was so sad that this game was over but happy that I was able

to go on a wonderful adventure that was this game.)

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The Thousand Year Door: This stage was kind of like the A Star Spirit on Ice chapter (Which is coming up later). This chapter is very moody having a great atmosphere and many puzzles to solve. and after all that, it is time to have the epic final battle with Grodus, than Bowser and Kammy Koopa, and then finally the  Shadow Queen. The ending is very awesome as well having a great goodbye scene for all of your party members and a great email from one of my favorite party members, Goombella.

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(A very tough battle as well as intense. Everyone in the world is rooting for Mario to win or else the world ends)

(The ending of this game was really sad. I thought I wasn’t going to see my party again…….Luckily you can still play the game after you beat the game)

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(Ahhhhh, Goombella. With her sassy attitude, cute appearance and hillarious comments,

it made her the character I used the most in the game)

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5. A Star Spirit on Ice (Paper Mario)

When it comes to mood and atmosphere, this chapter is definitely the best. This chapter begins on a very dark tone with Mario being accused for murdering the penguin mayor of Shiver City. It is pretty intense with Mario actually finding evidence leading to the Mayor’s best friend, Herringway, of murdering him. However, it all ends on a lighthearted note with the Mayor just merely being knocked down unconscious by hitting his head on something (Whooooooooo, what a relief). After this the chapter is basically Mario traveling to the Crystal Palace to fight, debatably, the best boss in the entire game, the Crystal King. I just love the Crystal Palace because it is basically a mirror maze filled with so many illusions that will make your head spin. Also the chapter has parts where enemies try to impersonate your partners and you have to prove how much you know you partners by smacking the imposters with a hammer. The music in this chapter is absolutely gorgeous such as the music of the Crystal King battle, Crystal Palace, Over Shiver Mountain and Snow Road.

(One of the darkest parts of the entire game)

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(The Crystal King)

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4. The “Invincible” Tubba Blubba (Paper Mario)

This is my all time favorite chapter in the original Paper Mario so anyone who has played the games might know what the next three are going to be. This chapter is a great chapter having so many great things about it. It is moody, it is funny, it has a great story, it has my favorite character in Paper Mario, and it has an awesome boss. In this chapter you meet Lady Bow, who  is my favorite character in the game being a lady boo with quite the attitude and an amazing ability to use in the game. This ability allows Lady Bow to disappear Mario whenever you are in battle or outside of battle. This move is extremely helpful and because of this I used Lady Bow the most in the game. This chapter is also very moody having you travel through the Forever Forest and going through a creepy Boo house. I loved going through this boo house because of its puzzle solving and eery atmosphere. Finally, how can I not mention Tubba Blubba. Tubba Blubba is monster who is kind of a coward until he is turned invincible by Bowser’s star rod powers. Because of this Tubba Blubba starts eating his favorite meal, boos, in a town called Gusty Gulch. It is up to Mario and Lady Bow to stop Tubba Blubba but before they can do this they need to find Tubba Blubba’s weakness, his heart. No, I don’t mean metaphorically, I mean his actual heart, which is locked away in a rusty windmill near Gusty Gulch. Mario and Lady Bow must go to Tubba Blubba’s castle, get the windmill key, go to the windmill while having a very intense and scary chase scene with Tubba Blubba chasing you (man the adrenaline rush during this part), fight Tubba Blubba’s Heart, and finally fight Tubba Blubba who is no longer invincible.

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(Lady Bow is a pretty boo with quite the attitude and is just an awesome character with her famous smacking attack)

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3. 3 Days of Excess (Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door)

A chapter like an old Agatha Christie Novel, 3 Days of Excess has Mario traveling on train to get to Poshley Heights to get the sixth crystal star. This chapter, unlike the other chapters in the game, is very very relaxing and easy going. Basically Mario has to spend 3 days on the train until he reaches Poshley Heights, but the ride isn’t so relaxing as you soon find out. Mario receives a threat in his room on the train saying he will face a sticky yummy threat if he goes to Poshley Heights. It is up to Mario to be a detective and find who that culprit is as well as helping the other passengers solve their problems with the help of a a penguin detective named Pennington. Pennington is an awesome character who is very funny and actually mistakes Mario’s identity for Luigi…….yeah. This chapter is just filled with humor as well as interesting characters that includes a toad ghost who asks you to retrieve his diary. But if you read his diary, you will die and it will result in a game over. Also, the boss battle with Smorg is very cool resulting it exploding right into your TV screen.

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(Ghost T, if you read his diary you die)

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2. For Pigs the Bell Tolls (Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door)

The setting of this chapter is absolutely gorgeous. The chapter takes place in Twighlight Town and Twighlight town is…….well….dark… with a gloomy sunrise filling the entire area. This chapter has such a bizarre but very dark story revolving around a guy in a sheet named Doopliss wanting to turn everyone in Twighlight Town into pigs. Doopliss lives in Creepy Steeple and every time someone changes into a pig he rings his bell in Creepy Steeple. It is up to Mario and his friends to stop him. While this chapter has many pig puns and dark humor revolving around pigs, the big standout is in the halfway point of this chapter. After Mario defeats Doopliss in Creepy Steeple, Doopliss switches bodies with Mario to trick his companions and everyone in the world to think he is Mario so he can erase the real Mario from the game (The story is alot like Chrono Cross and I think it is awesome). Mario goes after Doopliss to get his body back and on his way he gets help by one of his former enemies in the game, Vivian. Vivian is an amazing character and she helps Mario to help get his body back from Doopliss because of how nice he is and how he showed her compassion even though she used to be his enemy. This chapter may be hated by some for of its back tracking but I really really don’t care because that just makes me appreciate the chapters scenery more by running around all the time. This chapter is just awesome with its dark writing, villain, characters, and great boss fights with Doopliss. At the end you actually fight Doopliss and your party members who think you are the enemy even though you are not.

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(Doopliss)

Glitzville

1. of Glitz and Glory (Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door)

WOW, this chapter, in my opinion, is as close to perfect as you can get to a great Paper Mario chapter. It has a great story, great characters, great game play, great music, great boss fights and it is just so much fun. This chapter requires Mario to go to Glitzville, which is a stadium in the sky, to compete as a wrestler to get the crystal star that is held there. While Mario becomes a wrestler, his name gets changed to the Great Gonzales and it involves Mario starting as an non famous nobody working to become the champion and win  the champion’s belt. I just love the whole idea of this chapter. I love how Mario gets his name changed and has to climb through the ranks to become really famous. In Glitzvile, people don’t like you at first, but the closer you get to becoming champion, the more fans will love you. In Glitzville you will see Mario posters and even have a mob of fans coming to greet you when you are champion. Mario gets to be in a messy locker room at first but then moves on to a nicer one and then finally a cozy Champion’s room. This chapter not only deals with Mario becoming champion, it also has Mario trying to solve the dark and mysterious conspiracy mystery that involves fighters disappearing out of no where in Glitzville. The story is surprisingly very dark and it had me on the edge of my seat through the entire chapter. The story has some of the best side characters in Paper Mario like Mr. Grubba, Mrs Jolene, King K, and almost everyone’s favorite, Rawk Hawk. Who can also forget the introduction of your partner baby Yoshi in this chapter, who is your side kick in the ring. This chapter is the chapter I remember the most fondly of in the entire Paper Mario series. I don’t know what could top it.

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(Rawk Hawk)

Conclusion: Well that is my favorite Paper Mario and Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door chapters. For those who have played the games, say what your favorite chapters are. For those who haven’t played the games, PLAY THEM NOW. Since I have done two Mario lists in a row I am going to take a little break from talking about Mario. For now, it was great fun to look back on the Mario series and Paper Mario series. Thank you Mario for a wonderful childhood.

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K Dog’s Thoughts on Macbeth’s Symbol of Darkness

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Shakespeare is known for creating dramatic, heart wrenching, and symbolic stories that have multiple meanings and themes. Shakespeare’s Macbeth, in my opinion, is the greatest example of Shakespeare’s works that is very symbolic. Macbeth is a story that offers many different symbols challenging the audience to think on what they actually mean, which is probably what Shakespeare intended. One of the most important symbols in Macbeth is darkness since the play makes references to it so much, and the play is very dark in nature taking place in dark places. Darkness is something that frightens everyone and in Macbeth, not only is darkness a theme of fear but darkness is also a symbol of illusion which leads Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to commit their terrible crime of killing the good King Duncan without the source of enlightenment and knowledge symbolized by light. The symbol of darkness used in Macbeth is used as a literary device to let the audience know that it leads to chaos in religion, disturbance of the peace, and finally illusion where characters in the play have no insight that what they are doing is foul.

Macbeth’s use of the literary symbol, darkness, is used as a fundamental way to illustrate chaos occurring in the play. Chaos in Macbeth does not just refer to physical chaos, but also to internal, psychological chaos that can even lead Macbeth away from God and goodness. Yes, in my personal opinion, this play does deal with religion and God. People may not notice this connection of religion to Macbeth, but Shakespeare left subtle hints to religion playing a role. Darkness can be seen as a sign of the devil clouding people’s judgment and not seeing God’s goodness  of reason and doing good symbolized by the sun. In Macbeth, the killing of King Duncan is taking place at night where God’s presence is completely forgotten by Macbeth. In act II scene I lines 37 through 40 Macbeth states, after he kills Duncan and his servants, “One cried God bless us and Amen the other, as they had seen me with these hangman’s hands list’ning their fear. I could not say Amen when they did say God bless us”. Macbeth has taken God out of his life and can be now seen as a figure of the devil for not saying amen. The killing of Duncan is a reference to Jesus dying on the cross because after Duncan died, there was thunder and lighting and darkness. At the end of play, the fight between Macduff and Macbeth can very well be a fight between Jesus and the devil where Macduff ignores the false deceptions that being a man means being cruel and then he defeats the devil, symbolizing Macbeth. After this, light starts coming out over the kingdom of Scotland symbolizing that God’s enlightment is coming back to the world. When Macduff kills Macbeth there is hope that nothing bad or corrupt will happened again as it does in the play.

The battle between following God or the false deceptions of the devil is a key theme in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Darkness however can be seen also as a means of disturbing peace and nature in the world. In the story Macbeth, Macbeth follows his ambitions which are deceptions symbolized through darkness. After this however, Scotland’s peaceful nature is being completely ruined by Macbeth’s deed of killing a noble king. An example of this is in act II scene IV lines 15-16 where an old man states, “A falcon, touring in her pride of place, was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed.” Already after Duncan is killed, nature is being completely changed into darkness. Macbeth resembles the owl, which is usually an animal that kills mice, attacking the falcon, which is Duncan. In darkness, order and reason is clouded through evil ambition which threatens to affect all of nature as well.

Finally in the story of Macbeth, Macbeth was a tragic hero who was clouded by his own ambition and ignored any sort of reason or order to achieve it. Darkness is the symbol of Macbeth’s illusion for choosing his ambition to kill Duncan over order. This is probably one of the most confusing parts of Macbeth’s theme where there is duality on what is good and not good stated by the witches in the beginning of the play, “ fair is foul and foul is fair” (1.1.12). Although stars fill the sky at night, in Macbeth, they are symbols that goodness and order causes people not to pursue their evil ambition. Duncan clearly states this directly to the audience when he says, “signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine on all deservers” (1.4.41-42). The stars at night are symbols of the dueling nature between Macbeth doing what is noble or doing things that satisfy his ambition where the stars are him wanting to act noble and not kill Duncan, and the night urging him to kill Duncan to pursue his ambition. Macbeth waits for a night where there is no such light at all to kill Duncan so he won’t even bother to think that his ambition to become king is wrong stating, “Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires: The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be which they eye fear, when it is done, to see” (1.4.50-53). After Macbeth kills Duncan, there is not a sudden hint of there being light until Lady Macbeth has her nervous breakdown while walking through the dark with a candle, the only hint of light. Lady Macbeth states, while having her nervous breakdown in the dark, “Here’s the smell of the blood still all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand” (5.1.55-57). Lady Macbeth was not filled with guilt before the play, so why now? The darkness theme plays out in this. Lady Macbeth was filled with illusion that the killing of Duncan was not a lustful evil act that was caused by false ambition. When Lady Macbeth is walking in the dark with a candle the light is literally making Lady Macbeth see her deeds for what they are, evil and twisted by false ambition. However Lady Macbeth cannot stand this enlightenment of hidden truth and therefore commits suicide.

Macbeth, when you analyze it, is a psychological battle between good and evil, and between evil ambition and order. Darkness is a symbol of the characters forgetting all about honor or goodness. The play demands that the audience think about how we make excuses in our life to pursue false ambitions that are wrong. Macbeth makes this mistake and ultimately it leads to his death. Darkness in Macbeth is a key theme. It serves as an illusion for the characters and for us as the audience.

K Dog’s Personal Analysis on Stephen Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park with George”

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Sunday in the park with George is one of Stephen Sondheim’s best musicals and definitely one of the best I have read and seen. This play is an underrated gem of a musical, in my opinion, because of its wonderful music and story dealing with the life of being an artist. I actually saw this play just recently and I felt that I really wanted to analyze the play’s themes and discuss what I felt about the play personally. This is going to be a mixture between an analysis and a review and my personal thoughts of this brilliant musical. Let’s get this started.

Sunday in the Park with George, in my opinion, explores the theme about “connecting” through most of the show, which is explored in the main character George Seurat, who is a real life painter, and his connections between his lover Dot and his painting Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. I believe the play writer wanted to get across two points when exploring this theme of connecting. These points are showing the conflict of being an observer and being a part of the life that defines your artistic life, and another thing is the ongoing battle between life and art. Sunday in the park with George is anything but a universal musical and it relates to many people on a deep personal note that includes me.

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Real life Painting of Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

               In Sunday in the park with George, the play explores an artist named George Seurat. He has a girl friend named Dot, who he wants to model  for his paintings instead of spending some personal romantic time with her. Dot loves George for his artistic talent and passion for the arts but ironically this is the one thing that keeps them apart because George is obsessed with painting and doesn’t care for any social activity. George Seurat represents the perfectionist artist that focuses so much on his artistic work by observing others so much, but in the process, always seems to not understand people. This brings me to a very interesting point about how this relates to George Seurat’s painting itself. It’s very interesting that when I saw George Seurat’s painting, I noticed it doesn’t have any people looking at each other. The painting seems lifeless but the girl, supposedly Dot, seems to have the most attention. The reason I think this painting is  this way is  because George Seurat, by focusing too much on his art and not people, is not able to connect to people emotionally and therefore has a lifeless painting. As for Dot, even though she has the most attention you can’t see her face that well. There is more attention of the clothes she wears and not so much of her emotional characteristics that could be seen if the face was turned out more for observers to see. George is an observer, yes, but he is an observer from a distance and he only gets to see people on their most stereotypical one dimensional level and not so much on a deep sociable level.

     George Seurat is definitely a perfectionist as a painter since he obsesses over his color choices that he puts in his paintings. He demonstrates this by singing songs with him naming all different colors that he can mix in the painting. George Seurat actually thinks his color choices are like science mixed with art. While his color choices are beautiful, his painting still falls short by demonstrating George’s lack of understanding others. Because of this failure to connect with others, George fails in his relationship with Dot in the first act. An example of George’s isolation from connecting to others is when Dot tells George she is going to marry Louis and, instead of trying to tell Dot how he really cares for her, he starts singing the song “Finishing the Hat” which is basically him obsessing over an object on Dot in his painting instead of Dot herself. Dot also deals with the theme of connecting because she loves George a lot for the way he is and his passionate artistic talent. But Dot wants to connect to George more and try’s to reach out to him on a personal level by trying to get him away from his paintings and outside to do regular fun activities. George can’t see the love that Dot has for him and because of this, he is completely ignorant and doesn’t realize the things she is trying to do to please him. An example of this is when Dot wants to spend time with George and have a romantic date with him, yet he refuses. Another example is when Dot spends so much time posing in an uncomfortable dress for George to paint yet George is not noticing how hard it is for her to pose in such an uncomfortable dress, and for so long as well.

      This relationship between the two characters ends on a bad note in Act 1. Dot chooses to marry a baker Louis because she feels she will never be able to connect to George. Dot really doesn’t love Louis since he lacks the passion and artistic appreciation that George has but chooses to marry him anyway because he isn’t obsessed over his work more than people. While the relationship of George and Dot’s relationship seems a little rocky in this play, their relationship actually does get reconciled, but not in their life time.

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Bernadettee Peters as Dot in the original Broadway production of Sunday in the Park with George

              This brings me to the most controversial part of the whole play.  Sunday in the Park with George’s Second act usually gets criticized for being an unnecessary part of the story because it deals with different characters that weren’t in the first act. In my honest opinion, the second act of the play is my favorite part of the show and quite necessary in dealing with the artistic themes this show has. The second act reconciles Dot and George’s relationship but it is through a different George with Dot that this happens. This is very interesting because this conveys the theme of the ongoing battle between life and art. Specifically, this theme is conveying that the problem of artists struggling to connect to art and the world around them has been going around for centuries. George’s great grandson, also named George, is having trouble connecting with his art and making it personal and relatable. However, he later  finds this connection by connecting with Dot and learning about her and her deep connection she had with his great grand father, even though she is dead. It is truly fascinating how new George reconciles with Dot and not old George connecting with Dot.  In act one Dot sings “We do not belong together”, but in act two the line was changed to “We have always belonged together”. At this point young George, who represents Old George in many ways, learns there is something Dot can teach him and he notices her as a person and how she was important to him as his lover and the most important person in his life. The song “Move on” is a perfect example of Dot being genuine and trying to tell George to stop torturing himself over his art and notice the wonderful people in his life.  I believe Sunday in the Park with George chose two different time periods because the play wanted to convey the theme that the problem of artists struggling to connect has been going on for centuries. The play reconciles the relationship between George and Dot in such a unique way that some people find it a little unsettling because of it not being like the traditional reconciling between two lovers found in most stories.

          I loved the play Sunday in the Park with George but something that surprised me was how George and Dot’s relationship got reconciled in the second act. This is one of the reasons why I like the second act so much. It’s funny to think that the main relationship in the play is not resolved in their lifetimes but through someone else’s life time. Many people would probably believe that the original George and Dot should have been reconciled, but I feel that if it came that way it wouldn’t be the way the authors intended the story to end. I really think that the idea of another George learning what his grandfather failed to learn or accomplish is very touching and seeing him connect to the world and to the original George Seurat at the end is a great ending. Young George connecting with his art and learning from his grandfather’s mistakes is a reconciling of both characters, because there is something that each one could have learned from each other. It doesn’t matter that Old George didn’t solve his problems in his life time but it is important on how Old George’s mistakes helped New George grow as an artist and individual.

 Sunday in the park with George is a phenomenal play and it touched me on a very personal note. The whole play really tells me about being an observer and the thought of being too obsessed actually ultimately brings you up short to what you are trying to accomplish. George is a perfectionist in his art, and I am a perfectionist in performing, and he observes others but only seems to cover the outer appearance and just their stereotypical attitudes. That is why his painting looks very objective and doesn’t show too much life in it. George could fix this by learning to appreciate his life and see people who they really are and connect to others emotionally, like with his girl friend Dot.  I can learn from this play by learning not to take things at face value.  I need to enjoy my time as a performer and be more in touch with reality than George had trouble with.  All in all, Sunday in the Park with George is a phenomenal play that reaches to me on a subconscious level.  Deep down I feel like that I have been touched by the story of learning about the hardships of being an artist. As a performing artist, one needs to observe and connect with people in their lives to be able to play different roles. Not only do performing artists have to observe but they have to connect to people as well on deep levels to make a character that is believable and relatable to the audience. Art and acting isn’t just about how pretty your painting could be or how loud or precise your voice and body could be, they are about coming in terms with yourself. There is so much things we can learn from art and acting since they are arts that requires us to observe others and bring our own personal thoughts and emotions into it. They are arts that are like a blank canvas with many different possibilities to explore human nature and emotions since human life is very complicated. Sometimes its not good to  put your artistic passions over life itself since life and the personal experiences in life are the things that truly make wonderful artistic pieces. Art is coming in terms with one’s self and his or her life and if one is focused too much on the technique side of art, they lose the heart and soul that makes art, art.

Sunday in the Park with George Chicago

Production I saw was at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. It was an absolutely brilliant production.

Super Mario 64’s Ending: Why It’s The Best Ending to a Videogame EVER!!!!!

Hey everyone!  Great Mighty Steve here.

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about my favorite ending in all of videogames: Super Mario 64.  It has, in my opinion, one of the most awesome, emotional, and surreal endings to a videogame, and I think it is the best ending in all of videogames.  Period.  But, to truly say this, one may not simply state it.  I need a convincing argument to prove my point.  I have said in many conversations with my friends that I could write an entire essay gushing and explaining my feelings on the ending to this masterpiece of a game, and I think I will do just that right now.  So, I’m going to walk through the entire ending of the game, dissecting it, and explaining why it is so great and effective while adding my personal experiences in to make it even more authentic.  So, as Mario would say, HERE WE GO!!!!!

It starts, I guess I could say, with the final boss battle against Bowser.  Though I don’t necessarily agree with Nintendo Power’s statement that this is the best Bowser fight ever (c’mon, what about Mario 3?  Or Yoshi’s Island?), but it is still a great fight, what with the organ music and all.  And who could forget that triumphant tune when you get the star after defeating him?  So epic.  I have a very hard time with that fight because I’m not good with the N64’s controls, so beating Bowser successfully is always a triumph for me.  I always feel proud of myself when I throw him into a mine and he falls down in agony.

Next, Mario falls safely down in front of Peach’s castle.  The star floats in front of her portrait window on the castle, and she is freed from it, and glides down gently to the ground in front of Mario.  All this happens while her iconic theme plays in the background.  When I saved Peach in Mario 64, it was by far the most gratifying time that I have ever saved her.  She is shocked to see Mario, but is glad to see him and recognizes the fact that all the power stars are returned to the castle because of him.  Some people have complained about Leslie Swan’s voice acting as Peach, but I never had a problem with it.  She then gently kisses Mario on the nose.  I liked this kiss better than any other in Mario.  It was always on the cheek in most of the other games, but I like how gentle it is in this one.  Then Mario’s eyes narrow as if he is bashful and blushing, and he then turns to the player and exclaims, “HERE WE GO!!!!” while making the peace sign.  I laughed like crazy when I first saw this, because it was like he was saying to the player, “Check out how awesome I am!  The chicks dig me!”  This was the first of a few instances where the game breaks the fourth wall, and I really like instances such as these.  It’s as if Mario could be saying, “I’m going to get some, and it’s all thanks to you!”  Then Peach proceeds to return to the castle and says she will bake a cake “for Mario…”  Mario slowly follows her, and—FOURTH WALL BREAKAGE TIME!!!!!!  Mario turns and stares at the camera/Lakitu, causing Peach to softly call after him, “Mario!”  He then turns his head and follows her.  This blew my damn mind when I saw this.  This is another instance where Mario seems to nod to the player, saying that I accomplished this adventure with him, and he couldn’t have done it without me.  I love when games do things like this in their endings/credit sequences.  Final Fantasy, Castlevania, and Mega Man X have all done it, but Mario 64 pulled it off in the best way possible.  Those other games come right out and say it—“You played the greatest role in this story”, “You are the true warrior of light”, “…And, You as Mega Man X”  But, with all these little hints and fourth wall breakages in Mario 64’s ending, it truly made me feel like I played a great role in the adventure.  Only one other videogame has come close, and it was Earthbound, but even the way Earthbound did it was not as good as Mario 64’s way.  Miyamoto or Tezuka, whoever came up with this I respect you all the more.

Then, the best part of the whole ending: The credits.  Lakitu pans from Mario walking away up to the sun as a flock of birds flies past, and the music begins to play.  OH.  MY.  GOD.  This is by far the best credits/ending theme in video game history.  While the game’s developers’ names are rolling, scenes from the various worlds of the game play.  A wise man I knew once said, “It’s not about the beginning or the end.  It’s all about the journey.”  The combination of the music and the scenes bring back memories of your journey through the game—your adventure with Mario.  The energizing races with Koopa the Quick, the peacefull swims in Jolly Roger Bay, returning the baby penguin to his mother, racing down the Princess Slide, frustrating times in Tick Tock Clock, Rainbow Ride, and Shifting Sand Land, etc, etc, etc, the list goes on and on.  But, whether the times were fun, annoying, or frustrating, the combination of the music, scenes from the worlds, and the previous cutscenes make you feel like you accomplished something.  I felt like I had completed an adventure.  Which brings me to another point.  The combination of these feelings and the tone of the music made me cry.  I felt like I accomplished something, but I was genuinely sad that my adventure was over.  All those good times with Mario were over, and I would never experience them the same way again.  This is genius design for an ending.  The ending is surreal because it makes you feel accomplished while still making you feel sad that your journey is over.  By the time it was over, I was in tears.  No other ending has done this to me the way Mario 64’s ending has, and that’s why it is so great.

As if it weren’t sad enough, the final segments of the song play as Mario, Peach, and two Toads stand in front of the castle, waving goodbye.  This really is the end of our adventure, Mario!  I cried the most here.  Then, guess what?  FOURTH WALL BREAKAGE TIME!!!!  As they are all waving goodbye, Lakitu flies by and gets one last shot of the player, reminding you that YOU did this.  God, so much genius here.  Then, the icing on the cake—no pun intended.  The player is greeted by a picture of a cake with candles and two figures of Mario and Peach on top of it, with a sign saying, “Thank You”.  The last few notes of the song play, and Mario’s voice rings in, “Thank you so much ‘a for a’playing my game!”

This screen did it for me.   This is it.  This is definitely the best ending to a videogame EVER.  Seriously, I could go on for hours talking about this ending.  By making the player feel accomplished while feeling sad that the adventure is over, the ending of Super Mario 64 provides a surreal end to a videogame that no other game has successfully accomplished.  In MY opinion, at least.

So, what do you think?  Is there another ending to a game that tops this masterpiece?  I want to know what you all think about this ending and others as well.  Thanks for reading and, until next time, may Miyamoto be with you!