Top 100 NES Review: #20 – Mega Man (1987)

I Don’t Think I Like Mega Man.

I’m not looking forward to playing four more identical games to close out the series. 

Mega Man NES Title ScreenSydlexia’s Ranking: #20/100
My Rating: StarStar

I finally submitted my final “big” thing due for residency — a journal club review discussing Bell’s Palsy. If you think that’s boring enough, wait for what I used for entertainment in between revisions.

In theory, a more complex game of rock-paper-scissors should pique my interest. A break from the linear, ossified train tracks of other side-scrollers should be a welcome sight. A robust inventory of weaponry ought to make me squeal with joy. But, Mega Man just doesn’t. This is my second iteration (Mega Man X being the first), and it is all. the. same.

The biggest allure central to the plot is the order. There are initially six stages, and at the end of each one is a special boss. Defeating it garners you a new weapon. Each boss is super weak to one of the other weapons, so there is a particular order of stages that makes the most sense for you to run roughshod over the competition.

This is the kind of game that gets wrecked when there is a backlog of games in the queue.

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Top 100 NES Review: #16 – Ninja Gaiden (1989)

Campy Just Like An 80s Movie.

But I’d rather watch “16 Candles” than actually beat this game. 

Ninja Gaiden NESSydlexia’s Ranking: #16/100
My Rating: StarStarStar

I came down with an unconfirmed fever last Tuesday. I was sweating up a storm, feeling febrile and achey, but every temperature recorded was below <100 degrees Fahrenheit. Regardless, I was sent home to self-isolate and await the results of my COVID test. Since then, I’ve fully recovered but still no test results. Waiting this out has been a monastic experience and makes me appreciate those who truly self-isolated for all these many weeks as I have continued to work.

Prior, I was pounding away on 5th generation games (PS1 and N64). Even more specifically, it’s been a lot of Final Fantasy, which also means it’s been a lot of time. SO. MUCH. TIME. Playing a backlog of RPGs is a Sisyphean task, and every time I got that boulder to the top of the hill, it would roll right back down with the next entry.

I decided to take this new found idleness to blast through some NES games. I didn’t want to allot the same amount of copious time spent on FF7 or FF8.  The original Nintendo should be perfect for quick in-and-out games… until Ninja Gaiden hit me with a shuriken to the forehead.

This game is something else. Every ledge is perfectly placed near an avian threat more than willing to hit you into the abyss. Making things harder, trying to share these tiny footholds with sword throwing ruffians makes it almost impossible.

While excruciatingly hard, it does come with a caveat. Dying only means you restart at your current level. This means you only have to complete three stages of impossible tasks and defeat a boss before your starting point resets. And just like the lottery, this is where Ninja Gaiden gets you: you always think “I just need ONE more try”. Instead of being hopelessly out of reach, Ninja Gaiden is forever crushing your soul in a tantalizing, different way than most NES games.

Let’s just say, I gave up.

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Top 100 SNES Games: #72 – NBA Jam (1993)

I Bet Kevin Durant Can’t Dunk From Half Court.

But I can! Where’s my $164 million over four years?
NBA Jam Title Screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #72/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

There must be some abstract equation that correlates creativity with limitation. One would think that boundless space would lead to unfeathered creativity, but I think that’s incorrect: only when we are restricted do we see our true imagination unfold.

You couldn’t actually simulate a basketball game in the 90s — the technology wasn’t powerful enough. So instead, they made a game that looked kind of like basketball by having a court, a ball, and rim. Then they layered on top impossible, acrobatic dunks that were as ridiculous as they were infectious. The end product is unlike the very thing it tries to imitate, but it is more fun and accessible than something realistic — and this game is anything but realistic.

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Top 100 SNES: #55 – Battletoads in BattleManiacs (1993)

Cheap Kills, No Thrills.

A knock-off of another cold-blooded, reptilian franchise, they decided not to imitate their best feature: fun. 

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Sydlexia’s Ranking: #55/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

Imagine, for a moment, that you are about to enjoy breakfast with your favorite cereal. To your chagrin, you see that someone accidentally bought you the Great Value version. When you finally pour it, it’s actually been replaced with cockroaches.

This is Battletoads for the SNES. It’s not a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game. It’s not even a video game like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Hell, it isn’t even a video game. It’s a reaction time test where a series of impossible tasks have been curated for no one’s enjoyment.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #91 – My Fair Lady (1964)

Repetitive & Disappointing

Songs are good but repeated ad nauseam while missing on an amazing chance to make a statement. 

screenshot5American Film Institutes Ranking: #91
Academy Awards: Nominated 12 and won eight including Best Picture, Director, & Actor
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

I have two problems with this film.

The first is with the musical pieces: they seem to be more like fragments. Putting together a good, catchy stanza is a start, but then repeating it ad nauseum doesn’t quite cut it. Second, the story should come off better than it does, a common lady trained to upper class, but Henry Higgin’s character is unredeemable — he’s a jerk.

Put them together and you end up with a film that tests your patience.

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Top 100 Album Review: #72 – Purple Rain, Prince (1984)

Weird at Times

But fantastically so, with the hits far outweighing the strange.

Prince-Essentials-Purple-Rain-640x427.jpg

Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #72/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

I’m a Prince fan, but I know some of his stuff can get down right weird. Part of that is him, willing to take chances and do whatever the hell he wants. The other part is a product of the time of his ascent — the 80s — where you could get away with all sorts of synth wailing. I found Purple Rain a complete listen, even if there are some treks across uncharted, psychedelic lands.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #5 – Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

A Strange Film

Lacking any particular sizzle, somehow Lawrence is interesting enough to build a four hour movie around. 

Lawrence-Of-Arabia-film-review-Peter-O-Toole-Omar-Sharif-857294.jpg

American Film Institutes Ranking: #5/100
Awards: Nominated for ten winning Best Picture, Director, Score & Others.
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

This movie is about one thing: T. E. Lawrence. If we take the movie’s portrayal as truth, this would have suited the egotist just fine.

The annals of history are filled with intriguing but unknown characters. This film brings to light one of the more interesting people of history that I had no idea even existed. Regardless of whether the portrayal is particularly accurate, the movie risks its entire livelihood on Lawrence being captivating forgoing any action scenes, romantic angles (I don’t know if I can recall a single woman in the entire film), or other characters.

Somehow it is just enough.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #72 – Ben-Hur (1959)

The Stock Dropped With Each Passing Moment.

Why didn’t the movie end shortly after the chariot race!!!

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Charlton Heston with his team of horses: Altair, Antares, Aldebaran and Rigel.

American Film Institutes Ranking: #72/100
Awards: Nominated for 12 winning 11: Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, and on and on and on…
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

As television started to take away potential movie goers, Hollywood decided that they had to do stuff that television couldn’t: epics. The 1950s and early 60s produced a slew of these films (Spartacus, Lawrence of Arabia, El Cid, The Ten Commandments) and the style was defined by length, scale, scope, and production.

Ben-Hur encapsulates all of this. The sets, scenes, and clothing all beautifully intricate and worthy of the epic genre. Unfortunately, the movie runs way too long. The apex of this film is the chariot race, a scene that even upon recalling gives me goose bumps, but then there is still another hour and half left afterward. As I watched the clock tick away, my rating began to slip — all the way from a perfect five to a solid three.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #70 – Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble (1996)

The Dumbing Down of America.

And the frail quilt of patched-together, leftover parts. 

Screen Shot 2018-08-17 at 8.37.14 PM
Dixie and Kiddy on a quest to destroy meritocracy.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #70/100
Developer: Rare
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

Cranky Kong is a prescient figure in the Donkey Kong Country series; complaining of video gamers today, he warns how things to use to be harder and how easy we have it today.

I never thought he would live to see the day where it happens to his own family. 

Donkey Kong Quest 3 (DKC3) was a very late installment on an old system — the N64 was released months prior when DKC3 was released for SNES. Because of this, it didn’t garner much attention as many people already moved to the new, shiny system. This is a good thing: DK3, while fun, is a step back from the other two installments on the SNES, mocking us with a false sense of achievement.

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Top 100 Novel Review: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey (1962)

An Infinite Amount to Think About.

Not only is there a dynamite narrative, the themes and competing ideas could fill a lifetime of consideration. 

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My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

I’ve had a run of books that forgo traditional story elements, like having a plot, meaningful narration, or development of characters (here’s looking at you “The Sun Also Rises” and “Falconer”). While they get heralded as artistic masterpieces, I find both books lacking teeth since they are not only unenjoyable to read, but they can’t coalesce to say anything due to being stripped of narrative devices.

In comes my savior: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” 

Not only does this book have an immensely intriguing story, showing the power struggle between a Head Nurse and an Asylum patient who are both egomaniacs, it has as many themes as you can consider. Like an infinite ball of string, you are free to pull and unwind from any angle as long as your heart desires.

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