Top 100 SNES Review: #14 – Contra III: The Alien Wars (1992)

Friends Forever.

Nothing cements life-long relationships like repeated death in the face of an alien invasion. 
Contra III The Alien Wars Title Screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #14/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

Over the past year, I’ve played Contra III multiple times with different people. It’s inclusion on the SNES Classic has made it easy to get into a two-player bug tussle for the fate of humanity. The game is best with multi-player; I can’t imagine it being as fun if you decide to go at it alone.

That’s because this game can be brutal. What would otherwise be a frustrating solo endeavor leading to a probable temper-tantrum becomes a shared experienced: you are both in this ridiculous plight together, and with some judicious tactics and occasional reckless abandon, you can make this happen…

…as long as you get past stage three.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #41 – West Side Story (1961)

Skinny Jeans Were Never So Intimidating.

These frolicking gang members are hard to take seriously. 

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American Film Institute’s Ranking: #41/100
Academy Awards: Ten Academy awards including Best Picture.
My Rating: StarStar

This movie is a whole lot of ridiculous. I don’t expect musicals to be simulacrums of reality, but I need something more concrete than prancing boys in a retelling of Romeo and Juliet who make statements on race relations.

I’m almost afraid to see the intellectual take on this film from 1961. “How important are the arts,” I can hear them saying, “having the audacity to take on the tumultuous themes of the American Dream and Immigration. What would we do without Broadway?”

Where this film ultimately fails for me is that it is less of a musical and more of a So You Think You Can Dance? episode. Having just watched The Sound of Music, this musical lacks the big and catchy tunes and instead relies on choreographed dance offs. Part of me appreciates the art form, part of me still was disappointed.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #65 – Silence of the Lambs (1991)

“I Got Your Dog Mister!”

I miss the days of quoting movies.

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American Film Institute’s Ranking: #65/100
Awards: Won the Big Five of Academy Awards (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay)
My Rating: StarStarStarStar

I worry about the lack of common rallying points in society that keep us culturally cohesive. There was a time where mass entertainment passed the gauntlet from one generation to the next due to limited selection. At 8pm, Nickelodeon turned into Nick At Night where I soaked up “I Love Lucy” and “The Brady Bunch” and was able to connect with grandparents or Aunts and Uncles.

That’s absent now; we can all branch out and end up on very unique and narrow twigs on the expansive trees of netflix, youtube, and hulu. We need some common humanity.

Enter Buffalo Bill.

I love to quote this movie. You want to bring a group of some well-rounded 30-50 somethings together? Pretend to be Hannibal Lector. What some cheap laughs? Start talking about putting the lotion on the skin. Maybe Silence of the Lambs can save us from these polarized times.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #20 – One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

This Movie Makes Me Angry.

But in a good way — Nurse Ratched deserves all the misfortune she gets. 

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American Film Institute’s Ranking: #20/100
Awards: Nominated for nine winning for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Adapted Screenplay.
My Rating: StarStarStar

We all know a Nurse Ratched. Mine was a school administrator.

Calm and deadly, she would bait students into arguments and then put them away in detention. One time she saw me using my cellphone on school property after hours and told me that it wasn’t allowed; I didn’t fall for it knowing what she was trying to do. She attempted to further raise my gull by threatening me with punishment if I didn’t put away my cell phone, but I kept my cool, and she eventually shrugged her shoulders and walked off looking for her next prey.

Of course, she was the one who would speak to the school board or other public forums on the importance of school discipline. Untouchable, school allowed a social miscreant to hold power over the powerless. What hypocrisy.

That same immense indignant feeling is what Nurse Ratchet brought back up in me. While it’s hard to evaluate the movie because the book is just so much better, the movie still gives rise to pure joy when the “patients” get to experience life and pure disgust when someone like Nurse Ratchet is allowed to exist, and even worse, protected by the system.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #55 – The Sound of Music (1965)

WHY DO I LOVE THIS SO MUCH?

And why are these Eastern Europeans speaking such good english?

image.jpgAmerican Film Institute’s Ranking: #55/100
Awards: Nominated for ten winning for Best Picture and Director
My Rating: StarStarStarStar

I’m usually pillorying overly sentimental films from Hollywood’s yesteryears. Perpetual Manichaeism, old movies are not only black and white in coloring but their moralizing. Our friends pure, enemies fully evil. Faults within our inner circle are assigned to mistake while other’s transgressions are obviously malicious intent. Who could believe any of that crap?

Then a movie comes a long and smashes my cynicism to smithereens. Damn you Julia Andrews!

Somehow, a musical about whiskers on kittens that takes place in the hills of Austria during the rise of Nazi Germany slipped past my alarm systems. Nothing to see her folks, just a family dancing their merry way out of the reach of the Third Reich. Who cares — I loved every minute of the three hour run time.

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Top 100 N64 Review: # 16 – Donkey Kong 64 (1999)

A Junk Drawer of a Game.

Collecting Bananas, Golden Bananas, Medals, Coins, Boss Keys, Melons, Oranges, Headphones, Crystals, Blueprints, Crowns, Ammo, Barrels…JUST MAKE IT STOP!

Donke Kong N64 Title ScreenLesLites’ Ranking#16/100
My Rating: Star

I have a great memory.

For instance, I remember being at Circuit City (a now defunct electronics store) looking at the cover of Final Fantasy X. I just got a PS2 for Christmas, and with some holiday cash, I was bringing home one of the best RPGs of all time. I remember heading down stairs to the basement, putting the fan on high, and thinking — Final Fantasy isn’t going to be around forever — I need to enjoy tis (heavy thoughts for an 8th grader). I got to Besaid Island and immediately hit pause. I sat there and let that song soak into my bones, a memory I can recall to this day.

I can’t recall ANYTHING about DK64 even though I owned and beat it. I do recall a conversation I had with a cousin. She lamented not having the game and was excited at the proposition that one day she, too, would play DK64. Well let me tell you something cousin: I clearly suffered post-traumatic amnesia due to this game. This game’s awful.

DK64 boasts gigantic worlds but with nothing in them — EXCEPT THINGS TO COLLECT. A dimension of abandoned polygons, items spill out over the landscape like the junk drawer in your kitchen. To make matters worse, items are color-coded to match one of the five kongs you control. Not only do you have bananas, you have red bananas, purple bananas, yellow bananas, blue bananas, and green bananas. Not only do you have coins, you have red coins, purple coins, yellow coins….

This permutation continues, creating a situation where you constantly switch between the Kongs through backtracking barren worlds to collect the appropriately colored item. DK64 is not so much about puzzles but errands. The most important skill to succeed is not your intellect or problem solving but your memory to recall the location of discrete bands of color-coded objects.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #9 – Earthbound (1995)

Everything is a Struggle.

I’ve never seen a game so intentionally trip itself up.

Earthbound SNES Title Screen.pngSydlexia’s Ranking: #21/100
My Rating: StarStar

We’ve all seen the meme where the person puts a stick in their own bicycle spoke which causes an accident as the person lays on the ground feigning for attention as if the universe is out to get them.

Welcome to Earthbound.

In the world of 1995 gaming, game developers had caught on to a few things:

  • New characters added later in the game shouldn’t be introduced at level 1 to be mercilessly killed by bears.
  • No one ever gives five star ratings to games that make you backtrack out of dungeons.
  • Human psychology proves humans have an affinity for things that are fun.

Everything from inventory, battles, saving, and money (ESPECIALLY MONEY) is made more difficulty than necessary. Shame on whoever made this game: it would be forgivable in the late 80s but inexcusable for something that came out a year before the N64. It’s reason for being so popular? A group of rabid fans that appeared years after its release.

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