Friday, 27 April 2012

All Time Top 20 Videogames

Same as last time, this type of list is difficult. I've taken the nostalgic road with it. I've included the format I preferred/played each in brackets.

21. Alex The Kid in Miracle World (Master System I)

OK, I couldn't do the list with just 20 games. I can't think of a better place to start my list really, the Master System I was the first console I owned and Alex Kid was the first game I properly got into. I'd played videogames before this, but it was Alex Kid that got me hooked on gaming. This has a special place close to my heart.

20. Theme Hospital (PSX)

I lose hours on this game! I still have a bash on it every now and then, and it's still as addictive. My fave sim type strategy game ever.

19. Super Puzzle Fighter

This is my favourite of the puzzle-block type games, I think the combo system gives it an edge, plus it's 'Street Fighter' themed!

18. Plants Vs Zombies (iPhone)

As mobile device games go this is the best around in my opinion, I find it more addictive and way more strategic than most peoples favourite on-the-go game 'Angry Birds'. I want a sequel!

17. Fable (Xbox)

At the time the original Fable blew me away; The brilliant story and voice acting, the customisation, the massive open world, combat was good. I don't think they've come close to this with the sequels.

16. Gears of War (Xbox360)

The first 'next-gen' game on my list. Games have changed since the days I started playing them, gone have the blue skies, rainbows and cute characters. Replaced by grey terrains, darkness and shooting things in the face with a shotgun! Gears perfected the cover-based shooter mechanics and now they're common place in games. Great co-op gameplay and online modes, mixed with cutting edge (for console) graphics and some of the best voice acting, all make for one of the best games of recent years.

15. Streets of Rage 2 (Megadrive)

Megadrive vs Snes, they were the glory days of gaming right? I think this is my favourite game from that era, as a kid I would play through SOR2 over and over. I still like to have a go on this, usually on the move with my iPhone.

14. GoldenEye (N64)

At the time this changed FPS on consoles. Awesome 4 player modes, a nice assortment of weapons and gadgets and a cool campaign. It was most fun played with friends in deathmatch mode and the fact it was a good movie licensed game!

13. Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

A beautiful, cinematic experience. Stunning graphics (back then), an amazing score to compliment the epic action, and actually original in its delivery of an adventure game. Basically a game full of awesome boss battles, and a true work of art.

12. Street fighter 2 (Arcade)

I'm not as fussed about SF as I once was, but it made a big enough impact on me as a kid that it holds a special place in my nostalgic mind. A game I can have a quick fix on these days, back then I put way too many coins into the arcade machine! I usually play as Ken, but my favourite character is E-Honda.

11. Final Fantasy 7 (PSX)

Just outside my top 10, another game that's got high on the list because of nostalgia. I spent so much time engrossed in its world, I actually have sentimental attachments to the characters (WTF!)

10. MarioKart (N64)

All versions of MarioKart are brilliant, I'll go with the N64 version cos it introduced me to the fun of a 4-player splitscreen race. Massive amounts of fun!

9. Pacman (Arcade/Xboxlive)

The original gaming mascot! This is still as addictive and fun to play as it was on its release. If you took away most of the next-gen games fancy graphics and sound, would they still be as much fun? Probably not. Pacman is pure gameplay. It's clearly one of the most influential games of all time, it even influenced the creation of my number one game! I also had Mr Pacman and Mrs Pacman on my wedding cake!

8. Left 4 Dead (Xbox360)

Valve reinvented the FPS and Zombie survival game with this one! And they remain leading pioneers of innovation (last years Portal 2!), Left 4 Dead is all about co-operative gameplay. Bring me L4D3!

7. Super Mario Bros (NES)

Videogame history! The original Super Mario game is the blueprint for an entire genre, all platform games have its basic components in place. And most of all it's still fun to play!

6. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox)

I've completed this game a couple of times, both times clocking over 30 hours of play. A Star Wars RPG by Bioware! Geek heaven.

5. Resident Evil 4 (Gamecube)

Your zombie survival game is getting a bit stale, what do you do Capcom? You ditch the ZOMBIES?!! NOOOOOOO...wait, RE4 didn't just do that, they also got rid of the dated static backgrounds, and replaced them with some of the best graphics seen in a gaming world at the time. They upped the level of tension, and gave us a great combat system that kept elements of the past games. Great boss fights too! Unlike a lot of the fanboys I'm a big fan of RE5 too, which keeps the gameplay mechanics and adds  awesome co-op.

4. Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox360)

Arkham Asylum is pretty much a perfect game; great atmosphere and graphics, cinematic sound and voice acting, awesome fighting system, stealth action that's not dull, cool gadgets, brilliant story, great boss fights...the only drawback is that it's a bit short. I wanted it to last forever!

3. Halo (xbox)

Another benchmark in console FPS, the first game I played that mixed a big game world with a first-person shooter. The controls are perfect as far as console based FPS go, great music, a nice array of weaponry and vehicles. And awesome level and character design. It got even better when they added online play on Halo 2, but this was a game changer.

2. Mass Effect 2 (Xbox360)

This games is as close to perfect as it gets. A big engrossing world, slick polished graphics and sound design, a truly awesome combat system and exploration and RPG elements that are fun. The first game was one of the best I've played, and this is better in every way. I liked ME3, but I preferred the story, missions and level design in this one. The last game didn't deserve the blasting it got for the ending though!

1. Metal Gear Sold 3 (PS2)

I'm a massive fan of the MGS series, since MGS on the PS1. It was hard to pick a favourite out of them, I love them all (except the portable 'Acid' games). I think this one went a long way to refresh the series, but keep the formula the same; with the change of scenery and time period and the new stealth-camouflage mechanics. I also think this one slightly edges it with the boss battles, they're always great in the Metal Gear series, but this had some stunning confrontations. The sniper battle with 'The End'! And the finale in the long grass! Snake? ...SNAKE?! ...SNNAAAAAAAAKE!!!!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

All Time Top 20 Films

Any list like this will never be perfect or final, but here's an attempt at my possible top 20 films. I've tried to go with films that are close to my heart, films that I've grown up with and the ones that blew me away at the time.

I have a bad habit of saying a film is a top 100, or 'a top 10 of this genre', and people always say 'there must be hundreds of films in your top 10'. So, I decided to give it a go and put them down on paper (or blog space). This is quite a 'geeky' list...

20. Toy Story

The original feature length, fully CG animated film and in my opinion it's still the best! Pixar at their very best, funny, touching and inspiring. I could watch this every week.

19. Stand By Me

I think it captures childhood and friendship in a lovingly told tale, kinda like a darker more serious companion piece to 'The Goonies'.

18. Labyrinth

Don't judge me! I grew up on this film; I love the tunes, I love Bowie, I love the puppet work and sets. As soon as I hear the music at the start of the film, along with that badly computer generated owl I'm hooked in.

17. Akira

I have Akira on my list because it was one of the first animated films to truly disturb me in a way I didn't think possible with animation. Cerebral and weird, it’s like the 2001 of anime. It also was the film that properly got me into Anime.

16. The Lost Boys

Yeah, ‘Lost Boys’ is in my top 20. I think this film actually looks great, yeah it‘s pretty cheesy, but it works and it‘s got that certain something that makes it timeless. But, I mostly hold this film so close because I grew up with it.

15. Ghostbusters

A great cast, loads of fun and laughs. Great writing, and Bill Murray at his best!

14. Amelie

Amelie is a brilliant feel good movie, that I find pretty magical and stunning to look at.

13. Back To The Future

80's were the best years in film for me. Adventures don't get much better really.

12. Survive Style 5

Quirky, colourful, surreal, dreamy and utterly bonkers.

11. Pulp Fiction

I’d go as far to say that this is probably the best written film of all time, the dialog is fresh, sharp and clever. Tarantino also gets great things from all of his cast, he directs with effortless style and energy. Pulp Fiction is one of my favourite films because for me, it was definitely a life-changing experience.

10. House of Flying Daggers

I'm a big Martial Arts movie fan, it was hard picking my favourite. HOFD is visually stunning, the story is solid and the action is breathtaking.

9. Spirited Away

Ghibli’s masterpiece is beautiful, weird and wonderful. Breathtaking animation, a magical story and incredible attention to detail. A great achievement.

8. 2001

A work of timeless art, 2001 is an audio/visual masterpiece and mind pummelling trippy. You don't exactly 'enjoy' it, it's more like an experience. It’s all in the painstaking attention to detail and photography with Kubrick, on a technical level the best director of all time imo. 

7. The Thing

John Carpenter’s atmospheric masterpiece makes my top 10 list because it’s psychological enough to please intellectual fans of the genre and splashes sufficient gore around to satisfy the rest. The traditional special effects are still amazing today and Carpenter's trademark music compliments the themes of isolation.

6. Leon

Leon works on many levels; there’s moments of intimate, tender drama, thrilling action, playful humour and gritty suspense. Reno is subtle and emotive in the lead, Portman shows fantastic talent for her years and Oldman’s over-the-top, scene stealing villain sets the screen on fire. A near perfect movie.

5. Goonies

I love an adventure, this sums up being a kid for me really. I watch The Goonies when I feel down, I watch it when I'm feeling nostalgic, I watch it at Christmas, and I might go watch it now...

4. Alien

A slow-burning, skillful and atmospheric tension builder. Subtle acting from the entire cast, and spectacular set design make the science-fiction believable. Genre defining and the best of its type.

3. Empire strikes back

I love Star Wars, I grew up on it. Empire is by far the best film in the series; a timeless masterpiece that surpasses the original in every way. It's a benchmark in visual and audio effects and it has some of the most iconic scenes in cinema history! I only have to hear that first bar of music from the theme and I'm a little kid again. Oh, and Luke training with Yoda on Dagobah is one of the greatest moments in film for me.

2. Oldboy

Korean revenge film 'Oldboy is a visceral and unforgettable experience that drags you into its dark world. An intriguing and twisting story, with superbly dynamic acting from Min-sik Choi. It looks outstanding, with excellent photography, flawless direction and brutally stunning choreography. Needs to be seen really.

1. Blade Runner

A visionary dystopian future, Blade Runner has actually got better with age! Skillfully paced, grand set and costume design, excellent music and truly great acting from Hauer and Ford. On a technical and artistic level Ridley Scott's film is arguably only surpassed by the best of Kubrick's work. But this bags my top spot!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Geek Parenting #1: Toy Story

Every parent of a toddler knows that most pre-school toys are rubbish; they're noisy and annoying, and you can never find the off button when you accidentally set them off! We will stand on AWOL toy shrapnel with our bare feet when going for a midnight zombie-walk to the toilet on a weekly can be a war zone!

Anyway, my little girl recently got two MASSIVE tubs of Duplo bricks from her grandparents (for anyone that doesn't know what Duplo is, it's basically big Lego), she literally got enough to make Duplo world! Finally, cool kiddie toys! So, like any respectable father I decided to test exactly how much Duplo we had and I built a tower in the living-room. I made it wide enough to fit several of her dolls inside, and it touched the ceiling in height. I was ready to take it outside and keep going, we had a lot of wife made me take it down before it fell over and killed the cat.

Lydia's idea of playing with her tubs of Duplo is to simply tip them all over the floor, both tubs, everywhere! I needed to guide my young padawan, teach her the art of the Duplo. But how? Well, she always points at my G1 Optimus Prime and goes 'Chooo chooo!', she thinks it's a train (awww), and she wants to play with him (not happening!). She's managed to pick it up just once, before I freaked out and quickly saved him from this mini Terminator. Knowing she loved my Autobot so much I decided we would make a giant Transformer with the Duplo bricks!

We used almost all of the red and blue Duplo to construct Optimus, and he took two attempts to build. The first attempt was smashed into several parts by Lydia playing Godzilla with a cushion, laughing her evil laugh as she watched me in slow motion; "NOOOOOOOOOOO!"...WHACK!

Lydia still pours the bricks everywhere. She started pointing at my R2D2 plush and saying; 'TOO DEE TOO!", did we make him with the duplo? No, I just give him to her;