Top 100 N64 Review: #69 – Mission: Impossible (1998)

R-R-R-Ridiculous.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to try and believe it. 
Mission Impossible N64 Title Screen
LesLites’ Ranking#69/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

The only thing impossible about this game is trying to understand it. If I had to chose what better represented reality, I would go with Lord of the Rings over Mission: Impossible. This world, filled with hideous polygons and multi-layered distance fog, cannot be of our own. It still has a couple good missions, though.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #21 – Breath of Fire II (1995)

I Tried, I Really Did.

Story 👏 Must 👏 Connect 👏 With 👏Quests 👏. 

Breath of Fire II Title Screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #21/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

I don’t understand what took so long for archaic RPGs to catch on to what worked. Final Fantasy 3/6 came out in 1994  and was successful due to two core ideas: less grinding, more story. J-RPGs aren’t rocket science. A little bit of emotional attachment goes a long way.

Breath of Fire II seems 5 years behind its peers. Its only interesting character is locked away for too long due to plot purposes (a dog named Bow who uses a Bow – Bow w/ dah Bow!) Funny and endearing, Bow is an archetypal screw-up that makes things light and interesting. After that, dull characters join for tacky reasons. People in this world have nothing better to do than become an itinerant band of vagabonds.

It was bearable until it was paired with quests that provided no emotional attachment. Here I am, spending my precious time on Earth, fighting witches for people I do not know and getting into cooking contests to prove the lineage of a frog prince because the main character has the attention span of a bird.

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Top 100 Novel Review: The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, John Le Carré (1963)

Basic But Solid Spy Thriller.

The perfect rebound book after my last reading failure.

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Click here for TIME Magazine’s list. 
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

The last fiction novel I read? Infinite Jest, an opaque dithering post-modern nightmare. I needed something wholesome to regain my confidence. My mind wasn’t ready to take on a challenge or the avant-garde, so I flipped through TIME’s Top 100 novels trying to find the best book for my palate. The Spy Who Came in form the Cold is a meat and potatoes book — exactly what I needed.

Mind you, this book isn’t exceptionally stellar. I’m not sure why it’s a top 100 novel; there is nothing that separates it from any other entry in the spy thriller genre. Maybe it’s because it was one of the firsts. Either way, it does succeed in completing the checklist you expect from fiction. Sometimes it is nice to read something that just does the basics and does them well.

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Top 100 Non-Fiction Book: #89 – The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe (1968)

The Hippie Ethos.

An intimate exploration of the 60s counter-culture with some of my favorite Authors to boot. 

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The Greatest Book’s Ranking: #51/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

I haven’t been shy about expressing my distaste for the hippie artistic cannon. Thanksgiving is where I expect a little substance is needed to enjoy it, not entire movies. Midnight Cowboy and Easy Rider are prototypical examples: the storyline’s a mess; the themes are simply for the sake of preaching to the choir; there is no evolution of purpose. It’s as if everyone was sky high during the production.

Well, most likely they were.

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test explores the beginning of the psychedelic counter culture, and it centers on an unlikely person: Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I say unlikely because I had no idea. Unbeknownst to me, Kesey used his LSD trips as inspiration to write the perspective of the book from the Chief instead of the main protagonist. Larry McMurtry, who writes westerns for God’s sake, is even present as a tertiary character. Who knew!

Reading about Hippies is way more interesting than their artistic expression. While the book sometimes goes too far in trying to imitate the subject matter (“let’s make the narration FEEL like an acid trip” gets tedious), it was a riveting, in-the-trenches insight into a world I understand so much better now. Well, as much as I can understand it.

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Top 100 SNES Reviews: #91 – Sunset Riders (1993)

Arcade Vigilante Justice.

Steve, Billy, Bob and Cormano — your western PD. 
Sunset Riders Title Screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #91/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

What a gem.

Few games ever become quotable (Star Fox 64 being the big exception). The game’s first boss Simon Greedwell says in a deep gurgling voice “Bury Me With My Money.” Not only is this the kind of financial planning the ancient Egyptians would endorse, it’s instantly quotable. From then on, I knew this was the game for me.

The subsequent scenes do not disappoint. There is burlesque dancing, a Micheal Jackson impersonation, and a shirtless muscular boss with a pro-BDSM slant.

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The Top 100 SNES Review: #20 – Mortal Kombat II (1993)

The Game My Mom Wouldn’t Let Me Play.

I don’t feel like I missed out on much though.
Mortal Kombat Title Screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #20/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

First, I don’t really care for arcade-style fighting games . Mortal Kombat already had its work cut out to prove to me that it was worth while. On top of that, I never played the game as a child. My mom wasn’t a fan of the gore or the fatalities, so there was no potential nostalgia to buoy me. With Mortal Kombat 11 being such a hit, it was time to fire up the classic and give it a go.

After a few dithering rounds, my friend looked at me and said “Do you remember when this was it? Like, since this was the only entertainment you had, you had to keep coming back?” This nostalgic quip really defines this game. We looked up a couple combos, gave people a few acid baths, and then decided to rewatch all the SNL Celebrity Jeopardy parodies instead.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #15 – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

What Happened to Star Wars?

Watching the first makes you realize all the faults of the recent iterations. 

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American Film Institute’s Ranking: #15/100
Academy Awards: Nominated for ten winning seven.
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

If you had ask me half a year ago which top 100 list I would finish first, it was going to be movies by a long shot. It makes sense: a movie is only about a two hour commitment while games and books expect much more. It’s still leading the pack, but I’ve really slowed down reviewing only 2 movies in three months. Here it goes!

Everything seems wholesome while watching because it is. Overt political messaging is absent in the narrative. The story is high Hollywood fare with plots, twists, and tension There isn’t CGI to bloat the aesthetics.  Then you layer on top the unique universe of Star Wars fully rounded out with the classic motifs of good vs. evil and you end up with a  purely enjoyable experience.

We’ve done an injustice to ourselves by changing our buying habits. The way we purchase entertainment has reduced the chances people are willing to take. Music is a great example: no one buys albums or songs anymore. You have to hit safe homeruns while reducing diversity and risk. The most popular movies for years now have been reboots, reruns, and rehashes. Look no further than the last five Star War films.

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