Top 100 SNES Review: #41 – Sparkster (1994)

Oh No, Opossum!

It’s more fun pretending to be marsupial digging through a trashcan than this garbage heap of a side-scrolling game. 

Sparkster

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #41/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

I don’t mean to come across as harsh, but I think this game really sucks. There is only one unique thing about Sparkster: a lighting-quick, rocket charge attack that propels you across stage at the speed of light to a quick death. The only reason to play is the very thing you shouldn’t do. Sparkster is really synonymous with Sisyphus, and you’ll feel like you’ve been rolling a rock uphill to only see it roll back with every level.

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Top 100 N64 Review: #42 – Quake (1996)

Things Aren’t Looking Up.

Because the game barely lets you look up. 

Quake Title Screen

LesLites’ Ranking#42/100
My Rating:cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

Quake II was one of the defining moments of my youth. It was a beast to even get on multiplayer, needing to know coding commands, directory pathways, and IP addresses to get started. On my first map, I opened a bay door and saw rail guns firing in every direction as someone was fragged to bits right in front me. This. Was. AWESOME. 

Finding its predecessor on N64 was going to make my youth full circle. I meant to play the original but never did. I was wondering how it would port to the N64 since it was a game meant for the PC. This. Was. UNFORTUNATE. 

This could easily be a four (or maybe even five!) star game if played on a PC. It has the same old problems that every other shooter faced on the N64: without two analog sticks, you were restricted in how freely you could aim. This meant using a clunky collection of C-buttons on a X and Y axis to aim above. You will die several, several times from this alone. I found this limitation too much to overcome even with all the other amazing aspects.

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Top 100 Non-Fiction Book – #99 – Up From Slavery, Booker T. Washington (1901)

Absolutely Fascinating.

The perspective of a slave turned influential spokesman is ripe with thoughts on identity, labor, and education. 
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The Greatest Book’s Ranking: #99/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

I read this book during a slight downslope of life. I am finishing up my final clinical rotation with my hand in several side projects wondering — what’s the point? This bit of nihilism is due to the amount of sacrifice with the reward being only a cloudy possibility in the future. I want to create a better way to do clinical education for physical therapy, but thoughts of self-doubt have crept in.

Enter Booker Taliaferro Washington, a name he gave himself upon freedom.

Reading his journey begin with absolutely nothing but his inexorable desire to do better, it reignited some old-fashion values in me: the joy of work should not be in the reward, but in knowing that you did it to the best of your ability. The dignity of labor is an intrinsic sense of satisfaction. This, and other lessons, I heeded during this opaque time in my life.

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Top 100 Non-Fiction Book: #36 – The History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides (431BCE)

Too Much To Sift Through.

Even for a philhellene, the copious list of places long gone became too much. 
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The Greatest Book’s Ranking: #36/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

During the last summer off for the rest of my working life, I consumed about thirty books, more than half of which were about Ancient Greece. Just like previous descendants of western civilization, I became enamored with the mythology, culture, and philosophy from the peninsula that changed everything. These books were mostly interpretations and commentaries, so reading the actual source code was quite the change.

Within the first chapter, it is clear to see why this book is so important. Thucydides leads with several big ideas, the most important one being that history can actually be accounted for and objective. The rest of the book is his personal attempt at doing this. I don’t care about whether he actually succeeded — it’s more his aim and scope that I applaud.

The big ideas stop early, however, and the book is mostly a long list of people and places long gone from existence. Running to Wikipedia every other sentence soon grows tiresome. Past his bold opening proclamations, historical accounts based on his work narrate a much more focused and interesting story.

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Top 100 NES Review: #19 – Metal Gear (1988)

Surprisingly Fun.

Figuring out maps, finding key cards, and solving puzzles. It doesn’t take much to impress me on NES. 

Metal Gear NES Title Screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #19/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

It’s fun to play Kojima’s original Metal Gear. It has all the motifs and feel of the 3D versions but none of the bloated, hour-long cutscenes. With such sparse space, Kojima couldn’t sink into indulgent, convoluted narration that plagues the later Metal Gear Solids. Regardless, you still feel the imposing gravity of the situation: you are a sole infiltrator against every odd to save the world.

Another plus of Kojima not being able to go crazy with flair is you see how good he is at actually making a game. There is nothing to hide behind except the basics, and he passes with flying colors even though this is a port he isn’t exactly happy about. Of course, the NES likes to ruin a good time (plenty of cheap things to get pissed about) but the core is everything you could want from a game this old.

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Top 100 Non-Fiction Book: #98 – The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith (1776)

Capitalism 101.

Adam Smith is to economics as Isaac Newton is to physics, but there are problems.

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The Greatest Book’s Ranking: #98/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

I made a deal with myself: when reading a book, it was okay not to finish and acceptable to skip less intriguing parts. I’m a drill master with much of my life as I timely complete things, seeing them through till the end. I was worried if I would feel satisfied taking this nonchalant attitude towards reading and whether it would effect what I could imbibe from it.

Consider me converted! Maybe I should be more shiftless with the other parts of my life (except my social life — I got that down).

The Wealth of Nations is one of those seminal books that as you read it, images of others pop into your head: founding fathers, economic professors, entrepreneurs. This book is endless, edifying prose explaining the basics of capitalism.  It lays out the foundations for many principles that, just through observation, Adam Smith was able to uncover. With that said, he was someone writing in 1700s; I think he got a few things “wrong,” and he occasionally speaks out of both sides of his mouth.

And yes, you can skip many of the 700 pages and still be alright.

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Top 100 PS1 Review: #87 – Legend of Legaia (1999)

Great For Listening to Podcasts.

I couldn’t keep playing a game where I needed to be doing something else to stay interested. 

Legend of Legaia title screen.png
Ape’s Ranking: #87/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

I’ve owned this game since 1999, and I wanted it to be my first post for the top 100 PS1 games. I am older now, more disciplined and mature. I could set my mind to it and see it through! NO. NO I CAN’T. 

In the spirit of Lufia and The Fortress of Doom for SNES, the final straw with Legend of Legaia (or LoL, which the game is kind of a joke) was another senseless and artificial fetch quest. This was the kind of pointless plot that you expect a few hours in to learn game mechanics, not after twenty hours into the story.

Things were already not going well. While playing, I listened to the following;

The reason? The main focus of this game (the battles) become frequent, long protracted affairs that didn’t need my attention. They were a waste of time. I couldn’t ethically use my gift of consciousness on them without dual-tasking something more important. The story, quests, and characters all followed suite with their own quirks and problems. While this game is interesting to talk about from a historical/cultural perspective (after all, it is a FF7 clone that speaks to what gamers were looking for and how developers tried to create it), the game itself sucks.

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