2010 in Review


Rating Key

No Skitties - Garbage
- Bad
- Lame
- Lacking
- Mediocre
- Okay
- Decent
- Good
- Very Good
- Great
- AWESOME


New Games | Replays and Alt. Versions
Movies | TV DVDs | Books
The Rundown


New Games

Marvel Ultimate Alliance (360)



Yeah, not only did the new year not get off to the good start, but this was the first (and currently only) retail game I went through on my second 360 after the first RRoD'd. This is basically X-Men Legends, only covering the whole Marvel universe. The game actually starts out fair enough, even if the first mission is a bit too long. The next few missions are decent, and the boss fights with the Kraken and Mandarin are interesting. And while Murderworld itself was totally bizarre with set pieces like playing Pitfall with your character badly photoshopped in to get Jean Gray's consciousness out of the cabinet, or unlocking Blade by getting him out of a crane game, starting with the completely asinine fight with Arcade the game loses all steam and becomes a total slog. Also, the plot with Dr. Doom stealing crap so he can steal better crap got pretty old after a while.

Rating:


Demon's Crest (SNES)



Years ago I made a stab at this game, but all I could do was fly around and try to battle bosses I couldn't beat, and it just sat in the drawer for years. There was a time when everyone at Flying Omelette's was playing this, so I decided to be a lemming and jump on the bandwagon. I finally beat it, including the secret boss. It's... not bad, but feels terribly unfinished. The graphics are awesome and the music's decent, but the game seems to be built around finding all the trinkets than having challenging levels and bosses. Also, the secret boss is a battle of attrition, and anyone who says it's impossible needs to find a new hobby.

Rating:


Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth (DS)



It's more of what you expect from Phoenix Wright, which you may have guessed this being a Capcom game and all, but I personally felt this to be the weakest game in the series. It's not bad, but the new Logic mode is finicky ("I don't see a connection between those two." "Well, I do! Screw you, Edgey!") and it has some of the worst screw-ups in the series so far. This is the first time I ever had to go to GameFAQs in this series, and the answer was so incongruous to what the characters were discussing that I don't know how I ever would have gotten it on my own without trying all the evidence on all the statements. Two other people at Flying Omelette's had the same problem on the same testimony, so it wasn't just me. And the final witness just keeps GOING, AND GOING, AND GOING.

Rating:


Sam and Max: Season Two (PC)



I loved Sam and Max Season One. I didn't care for this one. Although it has its moments I didn't find it as funny as the first game, and I guess when Tell Tale Games put in the hint system they felt they could stretch the logic of the puzzles to the breaking point. I actually wound up GameFAQing my way through the second half of the last episode because I was so sick of everything.

Rating:


Dizzy: Fantasy World (Amiga via Emulation)



Could have been a decent puzzle platformer, but the jumping controls really suck! I realize they don't break the game, but even when you're not dying constantly because of them (and you only have three lives unless you savestate spam), bloody hell is it annoying trying to make some of the necessary jumps with them. And that coin hunt after you save Daisy is bullshit.

Rating:


Shadow of the Beast II (Amiga via Emulation)



Eh, I wasn't sure if I should have included this because I used an invincibility cheat and savestate spammed my way through it, but I'm not crazy enough to attempt it the "right" way. I have a fondness for Beast 1 despite it not being a very good game, but Beast 2 doesn't have the same effect on me. It's still really pretty, but it's even cheaper than the first game, the music's not as good, and then there's that "how are you supposed to figure out how to ask the guy about traps on your own???" keyboard input nonsense.

Rating:


Donkey Kong 64 (N64)



A little thinned out, but not nearly as much so as Banjo-Tooie. Although I think even Grunty Industries was better than Diddy's jetpack controls.

(And sorry I stole the screenshot from you, FO, I was too lazy to hook up my 64 just to screencap from one game)

Rating:


Shadow of the Beast III (Amiga via Emulation)



Beast 3 is by far the best Beast game. It's more puzzle based than the previous games and their cheap-hitting enemy spamming, and in fact much of the game doesn't have any enemies. Still, you only have three lives and often have to commit suicide several times to solve a puzzle you'll botch several times and not be able to continue, so I won't hold it against anyone who uses savestates to save some time.

I also didn't think the game was quite as pretty as the first two. It's still far and away better looking than just about any game released today, but the colors are more muted and it isn't as detailed as the previous two. It compensates for this somewhat with those bizarre giant man and monster statues everywhere, but it would have been nice to have those and the picture quality of the previous two games.

Rating:


Eversion (PC)



Eversion is more about the surprises than the actual game, and holy hell, this game is screwed up. And while the emphasis is on scaring the crap out of the player, the game itself is still quite solid, if rather short, and the Braid reference gave me a good, hearty laugh. So yeah, I likes it.

Rating:


Peggle Deluxe (PC)



I slogged through this game. And then my computer crashed and took my save data with it. And I didn't care.

Rating:


Final Fantasy (NES)



The very first Final Fantasy, and it's quite good! There's no sappy love stories, no spiky-haired guys with giant swords and amnesia and Oedipus complexes, it's just your four guys up against waves of monsters with a deliciously surreal atmosphere. Okay, some things about the interface bug me, like having to buy potions one at a time (all 99 of them), or the game kicking poisoned characters to the back of the party at the end of a battle, but these are just nitpicks.

Rating:


Final Fantasy II (GBA)



So I tried my NES reproduction Final Fantasy 2 next, and like anyone else with any sense couldn't stand to play it for more than an hour. But the Dawn of Souls version is actually pretty okay! Leveling is rebalanced greatly, meaning you don't have to spend hours exploiting glitches and making your guys beat the stuffing out of each other to power up and can focus on getting through the actual game, and while the dungeons are still full of doors leading to empty rooms, the whole ordeal isn't nearly as dreadful as it used to be. If you feel like your life wouldn't be complete until you've beaten some version of Final Fantasy 2, this isn't a bad way to go about it.

Rating:


Final Fantasy III (NES)



Think of it as the first game with the option to change your character's classes if you decide your Thief sucks, and many of the elements you'll see in Final Fantasy IV (Leviathan, Bahamut, going through an underground dungeon to get a bunch of super-weapons). The game is larger and better programmed than FF1, but there's some notable design flubs (the Cave of Darkness is not one of them, and in fact I think that place is brilliant except that the EXP you get from monsters there is crap). A couple of times you're really given no indication of where to go next (my attempt at the DS version ended when I got the Viking ship, couldn't figure out what to do next, and got sick of the encounter rate), and there's a couple spots where you can instantly die on the overworld. And the game doesn't do anything to keep you away from Dark Cloud until you've freed the Dark Warriors, not even a warning, which means you're first attempt at the Dark World will likely end in you running into her, getting annhialated, and having to start over from the base of the Sylx Tower. At least you should (hopefully) only fall victim to those things once.

Rating:


LittleBig Planet (PSP)



My first thought after finishing this was "For its sake the PS3 game had better be a LOT better than this was!" but it sounds like it isn't. Most of the difficulty comes from trying to get the physics engine to work or trying to get Sackboy on the right plane, and when will developers learn that it's a very bad idea to play a 2D platformer with an analog stick? And while fighting with all that crap, you almost don't realize how bland the level design is. Almost.

And no, I never even touched the level editor. Unless there's a magic "Remove Suck" button to be found in the tools, somehow I doubt that would fix the main game, anyway.

Rating:


Limbo (360)



Further evidence to my theory that with video games, "art" is synonymous with "crap". Ragey took the words out of my mouth regarding the "atmosphere", but I would like to add that when I first saw screenshots of the game I thought it looked like Braid converted to greyscale and viewed through cheesecloth. Some puzzles are okay, but most of them are only remotely challenging because you can't tell what the fuck you're looking at or the graphics have given you a splitting headache - something you can't tell from screenshots is that lighting in this game flickers like a bad neon sign, and when I was done with the game all I wanted was to take a couple aspirin and lie down.

Rating:


Blaster Master Overdrive (Wii)



I already wrote a full review on this, so I guess I'll use this spot to complain about a recent headache Overdrive caused me that actually wasn't the game's fault. In December I got my own Wii, only to find out there's no legal way to transfer Virtual Console and WiiWare games from one Wii to another. You can move downloaded games to an SD card, but they're tied to the console they were originally downloaded to and won't work on any other, and there's no license transfer like the 360 has. I can live with Alien Soldier, Gley Lancer, and Sin & Punishment staying on the family Wii, and if I want to play them I can just nick the front room Wii and connect it to my Wii's cables in my room. But I really wanted Overdrive on *my* console, and while the game wasn't nearly as bad as my initial attempt led me to believe, I got the points for free, and I finally discovered the in-game manual and its hilariously retarded Story, I wasn't too happy about having to buy it a second time. Fuck you, Nintendo.

Rating:


Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box (DS)



Yeah, considering how little I thought of the first game, I don't know why I got this either. It took me months of chipping away at Diabolical Box to finally finish it. Partly it was school, and partly it was the occasional "Fuck you and your game, Layton!" moments temporarily killing my interest in it. For example, there's this one puzzle with twelve faces, six male and six female, arranged in a circle. You start at one face, move either clockwise or counter-clockwise a certain number of spaces, cross out the face you land on, and continue until all the girls are crossed out and all the males remain, and it took me forever to solve because the directions forget to mention you're supposed to skip the faces you cross out. The plot is more of the first game's "withhold as much information from the player as possible so you can drop a bunch of big reveals at the end" nonsense, but hey, at the end of the game you get to see mild-mannered Layton show off some mad sword-fighting skills against a so-called vampire, which has to count for something.

Rating:


New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)



At least it's better than the DS game. There's some very tense moments, but I'm not sure if it's level design or that Mario hasn't been this small since Mario Land, and the game's busy graphics and lack of clarity left me struggling to decipher everything on screen. But despite all that I still beat most of the levels (and bosses) on my first try and completely forgot many of them afterward. Bosses are lame and almost all are fought the same way, and the only reason I didn't end the game with over 100 lives is because it caps at 99. And while it replaces that dumbass blue shell with a much more practical (and much cuter) penguin suit, it adds some new, very unpleasant ideas; whoever's bright ideas the blacked out levels were, particularly the one on the boat with the lamp you control by tilting the controller, needs to be strung up by their toes and beaten until candy comes out of them.

And a cheat code to play as Luigi would have also been nice.

Rating:


Wario Land: Shake It (Wii)



If you've played Wario Lands 2 through 4, it's pretty much a hodge-podge of elements from the three of them with a really awesome coat of paint. You take control of Wario as he goes treasure hunting, and solve some puzzles to get at said treasures which sometimes involve setting him on fire and stuff, then when you reach the macguffin you have to race back to the beginning of the level. The treasure descriptions are as amusing as they were in Master of Disguise, the graphics kick ass, and some of the music is quite catchy.

Unfortunately, the game isn't as awesome as it could or should have been. There's the shoehorned motion crap that doesn't respond half the time (and yes, the slam gague IS full, thank you), those dumbass submarine levels, and the bosses kind of suck. Yeah, they look and animate beautifully, but aside from the first one which is just piss easy, they tend to be more irritating than truly challenging and the flower takes forever and a day to kill. Also, if you ignored all the side stuff and just went from the beginning of the level to the elf and back to the beginning, you could probably blow through the game in a few hours.

Rating:


Holy Umbrella: Dondera's Wild!! (SNES via Flash Cart)



For Christmas I got a RetroZone SNES PowerPak, and gave it a test run with this. It's... not bad, but it really could have been so much more. You play as Ken, who's been warped to another world by a magic umbrella, where he teams up with a rolly-polly bird and a female ninja to take down the flamboyant Emperor Dondera and his army. If you're thinking "Wow, that sounds like a roller coaster of hilarity", aside from a couple of fourth wall breaking moments and a brief bit where Dondera joins your party after getting swallowed by his own henchwoman's giant whale, that's about as weird as it gets. The beginning is almost torture because of how sluggish Ken is, but things become more bearable when you get the Brooch that lets you run so Ken isn't slowly stomping everywhere while singing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah. Bonto and Saki have their own abilities to help Ken along his quest, but Bonto's attack power is very weak and he can't run, and Saki becomes completely useless once you get the Brooch that lets Ken climb walls, so you will be playing as Ken most of the time. The platforming stages are short and very basic, and the bosses take too long to kill, although I wonder how much of that is me missing Willpower Orbs. But still, the bosses all have very simple patterns and only two change their patterns after you knock off enough of their health. The final boss is almost impossible to hit without getting hit yourself, or dragging out the fight for half an hour.

Rating:



Replays & Alternate Versions


Banjo-Tooie (360)



Banjo-Tooie is a bit more palatable the second time around, but it's still too stretched out and lacks the soul of the first game, and Grunty Industries still sucks balls. Funnily enough, I got the same number of Jiggies as I did on the N64 despite getting several new Jiggies, but I cannot be arsed to ever collect them all and I seriously doubt I'll ever need to play this again.

Rating:


Nightshade (NES)



I replayed Nightshade twice this year, once out of the blue, and the second time for that I'll Be Mellow When I'm Dead video. One thing Nightshade has over games like Shadowgate is the fighting sequences mean you can actually replay it after you solved it. It generally takes me one botched run at the game to get the rust out, but I think I finally figured out a strategy for Lord Muck!

Rating:


Ys Book 1&2 (TG-16)



If you go into Ys expecting a Zelda clone you're going to be sorely disappointed. It's more like Hydlide, except good. My only real beef with Ys is that the bosses are more about being at a high enough level than strategy (seriously, at one level a boss could be kicking your ass, but going up one level suddenly makes you invincible to him). It also doesn't hold up too well on replays. A lot of the game is its exploration and mysteries, so while it's still a good adventure game replays just aren't as engrossing as the first time around.

Rating:


Portal (PC)



I only played this because I'd just upgraded to a better computer and wanted to see if this one would choke when I started firing portals like my last one, and good news, it didn't! And Valve apparently added some new crap, like a different ending. But it's still friggin' Portal.

Rating:


Shadow of the Beast II (Genesis)



I beat this on Easy just so I could say I've legitimately beaten at least one version of each Beast game. While more playable than the Amiga version except that the Jump and Attack buttons are switched for some stupid reason and I'd always forget to fix that when I first fired up the console for the evening, it's not quite as pretty. Also, while the game is only half an hour long, most of those runs end with Zelek kicking your ass in five seconds.

Rating:


Plants vs. Zombies (PC)



Went through this twice this year, once when I switched computers then again when Steam updated me to the Game of the Year edition, which really just added some new achievements and replaced the Michael Jackson zombie with a generic disco zombie that summons these really gay looking dancers. I was also finally able to do some things I didn't on the original version, like the Vasebreaker endless achievement. All in all, not a bad game, but it needed something more to it.

Rating:


Earthworm Jim 2: Special Edition (Saturn)



Holy shit, while Earthworm Jim 2 wasn't as good as the first game I didn't remember it being this bad! Enemies were blindsiding me through the whole game, the controls for the Puppy Love levels are total shit on a moldy bagel, and for some stupid reason, they changed the background music to ISO 9000, the newspaper level, from the moody Lorenzen's Soil to the annoying Granny Chair music. What the hell! I only had the patience to beat this on Easy, and even that wore thin before long.

Rating:


Earthworm Jim 2 (SNES)



So as soon as I was done with the Special Edition I went through the original, and yeah, it was the Special Edition.... mostly. The Puppy Love controls are a lot tighter here, but the game is still far weaker than the first game, relying more on tedious gimmicks than solid platforming.

It is pretty, though.

Rating:


Earthworm Jim (SNES)



Earthworm Jim, however, is just as groovy as ever. It has some gimmick levels, but they're spread out among traditional platforming, are more tastefully done than anything in Earthworm Jim 2, and none of them are as tediously boring as Lorenzen's Soil, as irritating as Udderly Ubducted, or as totally godawful as Flying King, and Andy Asteroids is miles better than Puppy Love (jeez, come to think of it, Anything But Tangerines might be the only level in EWJ2 I didn't hate). It's also got a stronger soundtrack, and a little darkness to counter the zaniness whereas EWJ2 is just a bunch of nonsense.

Rating:


Earthworm Jim (Genesis)



Same as above, but the Genesis version loses half a Skitty because I'm biased and the Intestinal Distress level is fluff.

Rating:


Final Fantasy (GBA)



Dawn of Souls made an almost unplayable game fairly decent, and made a great game kind of suck. Final Fantasy has been completely lobotomized, magic is way overpowered, Amano's monster designs have been made completely generic with Kraken and Tiamat getting it the worst, the music is terrible, the encounter rate is even worse than it was on the NES, and the surreal atmosphere is completely gone (the Sky Castle was not a literal castle, you bastards, it was a space station!). The final straw was Chaos taking forever to kill - according to the Bestiary he has 20,000 HP, whereas Tiamat v.2 "only" has 4,000.

Rating:


Earthworm Jim HD (360)



While it might still be better than the EWJ2 Special Edition, that the original was a better game to being with makes it seem that much worse. I guess the side-scrolling levels are intact, but Snot a Problem is a lot finickier about overlapping with the cliff edges and the Andy Asteroid levels fucking suck. The objects start so tiny and blurry and come at you so fast that you can't tell an asteroid from a speed boost until you've already plowed into it (and nine times out of ten, it's the former). The only way I was able to get through any Andy Asteroid after the first was by doting along like an old lady and taking my chances with Psy-Crow at the end. Maybe it's just because I don't have an HDTV (doubt it), but I also didn't think the game looked anywhere near as good as the original and the animation is laughably bad, and of course you have the damn "2D platformer with an analog stick" problem. On a side note, while the game loads a boss battle, a message pops up telling you how to beat them. It didn't matter to me because I already knew how to beat all the bosses and I couldn't even read the itty bitty font on my television, but still. There's three bonus levels you unlock by playing the main game, but the only thing I remember from all three of them is one of them has a keyboard-playing cat.

Rating:


Little Nemo: The Dream Master (NES)



Replayed out of the blue one day. It's got some rather idiotic moments, with enemies respawning just off screen right after you kill them, enemies blindsiding you just as you jump off a ledge, and the entire Night Sea level, but it's still enjoyable. And though the enemies can seem cheap at first, most of the time they can still be outwitted, like dodging those infinitely respawning enemies instead of killing them, and taking it slowly when you know enemies are going to suddenly appear on screen. I say "most" of the time because the Night Sea is still annoying.

Rating:


Bionic Commando (NES)



Replayed for the I'll Be Mellow When I'm Dead video. The original or at least best known platformer where you can't jump. Instead, you're given a grappling hook to use on what looks like plain ol' scenery at first, and even all these years and playthroughs, some of the swings still make me uneasy.

Rating:


Blaster Master (NES)



Replayed for the I'll Be Mellow When I'm Dead video, but hey, I'm always looking for an excuse to go through this game and it ultimately kicked off the following Blaster Master marathon (which included finally beating Overdrive). Is there really anything I need to say about this game? If you're a regular here you know should know what I think of this game already. It's a masterfully designed feast for the eyes and ears, and my personal favorite game ever.

Rating:


Elemental Master (Genesis)



I played through this game for the I'll Be Mellow When I'm Dead video, but gave it the boot when I realized I don't like it as much as I used to. Its soundtrack is my favorite on the Genesis, but the game is stupidly easy, especially after you get the grossly overpowered charged Light shot. Seriously, Clauss is the only remotely hard part about it, and even he's not that hard if you use charged up Fire and Earth shots. The final boss can be hard if you let Clauss kill you in the rematch and aren't fully powered when you get there, or try any strategy other than "rambo him with the charged Light shot".

Rating:


Blaster Master 2 (Genesis)



Blaster Master 2 wouldn't make my Top 100, but I still don't understand what it does to get so much ire from the gaming community. Yes, it's easy. Yes, the controls take a little getting used to. Yes, the overhead tank sections are a bit of a pain. But I still kind of like it.

Rating:


Blaster Master: Enemy Below (GBC)



After replaying it, I found myself respecting Enemy Below much more than I used to. I remembered it being a ROM hack of the first game with a new dopey-looking sprite for Jason, the key hunting, and a brutal final stretch. And while I was on the ball about how cruel the final boss run is (although I had forgotten why it was so mean, fucking ground turrets using your own maxed out gun against you), the fact is it's sort of to Blaster Master what the Lost Levels was to Super Mario Bros. The enemy sprites may by copy-pasted from the first game, but they sure don't play by the same rules, and several new monsters are added to throw you off even more. The game may not be *quite* as fine-tuned as the original, as some parts make me want to punch somebody in the nose like that needlessly tedious slog to the dungeon with the first Area 8 key where you Wall climb up and down and uuup and dooown and uuuuuuuuup and doooooooown a bunch of freaking long stalactites, and have to start over from either the beginning or the halfway point if an enemy hits you along the way and knocks you to the ground (the second key is relatively painless and has a callback to the first game, at least), but it's still quite a trip and if I have to accept Jason's death, at least I can take comfort in knowing he went out with a bang.

Rating:


Blaster Master: Blasting Again (PSX)



On reflection I might have been a bit hard on this game in my Blasting Again Stupidity article. It's a decent, though not particluarly mind-blowing game, but it really rubs me the wrong way sometimes. Killing off an NES-era legend for no good reason, not to mention the creepy implication he knocked up an extraterrestrial he'd just met when he was a teenager (I don't have any problem with human-alien/other nonhuman relationships on their own and actually think they're cool when done right, but when combined with that other stuff, it just makes everything that much creepier). The whole plot reeking of Sunsoft trying to appeal to the PSX/Final Fantasy 7 generation and their "the most important part of a game is its story!" attitude, and putting out a barely comprehendable mess of a story (you know, like Final Fantasy 7). The generic, samey scenery and elevator music soundtrack. Elfie's only purpose being to annoy the ever-loving crap out of the player. The boss rehash. But it has some interesting, if never fully-explored set pieces like the rail shooter boss and that one dungeon that collapses to keep the player interested, but there needed to be more to both these spectacles and the game itself, and the plot needs a complete overhaul.

Rating:


Blaster Master Boy (GB)



I don't really like this game, but I figured I'd complete my Blaster Master marathon. And hey, Enemy Below was a lot better than I remembered it, right? 'Course, I didn't remember Enemy Below being bad to begin with.

Yes, but Boy is just as lame as I remembered it. Maybe even moreso. A good chunk of the game is spent running around uninspired labyrinths, laying down mines to blow up rather small areas of these freaking huge clusters of destructible rocks, combing the levels for lights, rafts, and a bunch of powerups that don't seem to do anything. That's boring. Also, it's very much possible to run out of one of those items you need to get through the levels, usually lights, and you have to start the whole game all over again. It didn't happen to me this time around, but it has happened before.

The positive? Well, soundtrack is actually quite catchy. And the bosses are okay, but they're not game-redeeming. On that note, while this game beat Overdrive to the "attack of the clones" thing, Overdrive did it better. The Overdrive clones are the hardest fight in the game, and while that's mostly the giant clone, the normal ones can still be quite nasty. With Boy, the clones breaking out of capsules might be more visually striking than them simply warping in, but they're also pants-on-head retarded, and die more by their own mines than yours.

And it has the mercy to be over in an hour.

Rating:



Movies

Inglorious Basterds



Enjoyable, but I was left thinking this movie was a dark comedy I didn't have the sense of humor for, and wound up making myself massively depressed. Like, at the beginning, Landa pulls this gigantic pipe out of his coat. Yeah, later on with the shoe you realize that lets the viewer know he has some pretty big pockets in his coat, but until that moment, it's just a comically oversized pipe (and then there's the whole "Bon-JOUR-no" thing). But then almost all the major characters die horribly (oh, everyone who cares about this movie has already seen it), and other people say it was supposed to be serious, but it's in Tatatino's blood to make a joke every now and then. C'mon, Taratino, one way or the other. Don't confuse me like that.

Rating:


Up



The visuals are bright and colorful, and I really loved the amount of life in that bird, but the story is all over the place. I mean, it starts with this utterly soul-crushing opening, and then turns into random madness, with the toy balloon-lifted flying house, the dogs in the fighter planes (I wanted to make a joke about "dogfighting" but couldn't write it in a way to be funny instead of cringe-worthingly contrived), and I really didn't get the ordeal with the explorer's obsession with the bird. But damn, is it pretty.

Rating:


Howl's Moving Castle



Like Akira, memorable, but incoherent. It's a visually stunning movie (except the Witch of the Waste, who's pretty much a vaguely human-shaped blob of putty after she gets stripped of her powers, and is quite distracting to watch), but too often I was left wondering what the hell was going on, like why Sophie took Calcifer out of the castle. If you expect the book to explain any of this stuff... I'll get to that later.

Rating:


Castle in the Sky



More coherent than Howl's Moving Castle, but Moving Castle made more of an impact on me and was really getting tired of the "nature vs. technology" message by the end.

Rating:


Spirited Away



I'm noticing Miyazaki's films are more about the spectacle and being food for the imagination than their plots. Spirited Away is still very visual and imaginative, but it also has the strongest story of any of his films I've seen so far. Admittedly isn't saying a whole lot compared to his other films, but Chihiro being a human exploring a fantasy world full of marvels of mysteries herself fits in with Miyazaki's style helps, anyway.

Rating:


Troy



Maybe I should give Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom credit for doing their best with the dross they were given, but half the script is people spouting fortune cookie nonsense, and who was I supposed to be rooting for, exactly? The writers couldn't seem to decide if Achilles was confused, angsty, or just a dick, and Hector dies two-third through. And the leadup to Achilles and Hector's duel is completely ruined by hearing "HECTOOOOOOORRRRR!" every time Hector finishes his goodbyes to somebody. That was not tense, that was hilarious.

Rating:


Astro Boy



This movie was one big spaghetti mess. Dr. Tenma's personality is all over the place, the bad guy's motivation was "I have an election to win, and I'll win it by being a complete and utter dickhead," and then there was that arena battle where Astro gets thrown in with the Buzzsaw Samurai, refuses to fight, then suddenly beats the shit out of EVERYONE. The ending was one of my biggest WTFs of the year, and Astro literally conjuring up a gun from his ass was not necessary.

Also, I found it really distracting that Dr. Tenma's buddy looked like the dog from Up, and anyone who didn't guess Metro City was going to return to the ground at the end of the film needs to work on their pattern reconition.

Rating:


District 9



Massively depressing, drenched in political commentary, and I swear every other word is "fuck" (and when I'm complaining about profanity, you know there's a problem), but it's a gripping film and it was quite satisfying to watch that Bruce Willis-looking guy get ripped apart by aliens (spoiler alert).

Rating:


Moon



I was actually ready to bail on this movie at the beginning because Sam Bell couldn't go go two seconds without a wad of gum in his mouth, but boy am I glad I stuck with it because when he finally stopped that, holy shit this movie became engrossing. It has an eerie 2001 feel to it, but is somewhat more grounded than 2001 was. Intelligent and heart-wrenching, I just wish it didn't have the damn gum chewing.

Rating:


Coraline



Um, wow, I sat down to write this review, only to realize I couldn't remember squat about this movie. Some digging has turned up vague, disjointed moments, mostly spectacles, but the big picture totally eludes me.

Rating:


TRON



More about the visuals than the plot which I can barely remember a thing about, and said visuals were giving me a headache by the end. So, it was the Avatar of its time. Speaking of...

Rating:


Avatar



Fuck you, James Cameron, I've been using a blue cat-person as my avatar for years.

Rating:


Kiki's Delivery Service



Of all the Miyazaki movies I saw this year, I found this to be the most forgettable. First, I found it lacking a real conflict. Kiki flies away to find her place in the world, has a couple adventures delivering packages, loses her ability to fly, and finally saves a nerdy guy from a blimp crash while her cat has kittens with a local persian (if anything else happens, I completely forget). It also lacks the otherworldliness and imagination of Howl's Moving Castle or Spirited Away, and ultimately failed to make any impression on me one way or the other.

Rating:


The Shining



I wonder if I would have thought more of this movie if I hadn't spent the entirety of it feeling like I'd already seen it. Seriously, I already knew all the set pieces of this movie, mostly from watching that one Simpsons Treehouse of Horror.

Rating:


The Monster Squad



Think of it as The Goonies with some classic movie monsters thrown in, except haven't actually seen The Goonies. But I know it's a comedy/adventure movie about a bunch of kids, one of which is fat, and the Frankenstein monster is basically Sloth. A great Halloween watch, anyway.

Rating:


Scott Pilgrim vs. the World



Yeah, it's not particularly deep or substantial, but screw you, if you're a gamer and didn't think this was awesome, you're not really a gamer, good day!

Rating:


Ikigami



We watched this in my Japanese class, and I rather enjoyed it. It's kind of a Japanese cross between 1984 and Logan's Run. In an Orwellian future Japan with thought-crime cameras all over the place, one in a thousand people are injected with a capsule that kills them sometime between the ages of 18 and 24. Twenty-four hours prior to their death, they receive the titular Ikigami ("life letter") so they can make the most of their last day. The movie follows Fujimoto, a rookie Ikigami deliveryman and three people he delivers Ikigamis to. The singer's final moment almost had me in tears, but it loses a little steam with the brother and his blind sister, and the politician's son. It's also hard for me to recommend it because it's probably not very easy to get ahold of in America, and while it's on YouTube the subtitles are in Spanish.

Rating:



TV DVDs

Super Mario Bros. Super Show Vol. 1



The first half of the (in)famous cartoon starring Captain Lou Albano as Mario. Really, aside from the characters and the occasional fireball powerup, this has nothing to do with Mario. You could rename everybody and call it "The Adventures of Red and Green" and have pretty much the same show. It's okay, but I'm not sure what it says about the show or myself that my strongest memory is a brief shot of Toad shoving a wrench down his pants.

Rating:


Captain N: The Game Master



This show gets a lot of flak for being poorly written even before you factor in the liberties it takes with the source material, but if you can set aside the game inaccuracies, it's more cornball than offensive. Well, mostly. "Happy Birthday, Mega Man" has some seriously offensive subtext. Basically, Mega Man gets turned into a human because he's sick of everyone treating him different because he's a robot. But the worst part is that after Mega Man is turned into a real boy, he says to Mega Girl that he doesn't think they can be friends because she's a robot. Whaaaat? And while not racist, Dr. Light's statement to the effect of "Oh, just let Mega Girl die, I can build another robot" when he knew she was actually a human being was just evil. Fortunately I don't think anyone really paid attention to this episode, because in the very next one he's back to being a robot.

Rating:


The Muppet Show Season 1



Yup, it's Jim Henson's showcase of creative-genius-bordering-insanity. Some of the repeating skits like Pigs in Space or Rolf as the doctor are pretty hit or miss, Kermit contantly kissing up to Scooter (which was eventually toned down and eventually forgotten) was annoying, and there's that one song by those country bumpkin muppets that I don't fully understand but I'm pretty sure is about incest, but after that skit where Rita Morendo alternates between dancing with that French man-sized muppet and beating the crap out of him I was in love (if not then, then when Sweetums hauls her off during her interview with Kermit). Some of my favorite skits include Harvey Korman training the big blue Muppet, the Snerps, Bruce Forsyth and the giant bird, Avery Schreiber vs. Sweetums, and everything involving the Mummenschanz.

Rating:


Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog



I already discussed the more fucked up bits, but you've also got Sonic and Tails' bizarre obsession with chili dogs, Scratch and Grounder's needlessly complicated traps for Sonic, and a town of cannibal hot dog people. Even the visuals are pretty insane, with planet Mobius looking you're on a bad acid trip.

Rating:


Batman: The Animated Series: Vol. 1



Sometimes you have silly episodes like the little kids keeping a gassed Batman in their basement as the Penguin is searching for him, but then you have really disturbing ones like the Clayface episodes. Sometimes it's action, sometimes it's romance, sometimes it's tragedy. With a great art style, it's sure to have something for everyone.

Rating:


Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume 17



Worst MST3K set so far (I don't have 18 and 19, and this didn't exactly leave me with hope for them). Blood Waters of Dr. Z is one of those movies that's so godawful that even the Satellite of Love couldn't make it worth watching, Beatniks was putting me to sleep, and I don't remember diddly-squat about Final Sacrifice. However, The Crawling Eye is worth watching for a few reasons. Mainly, it was the show's very first episode, and despite the track record for both season 1 episodes and this box set, it's surprisingly decent. There was also a Freakazoid episode based on the movie (The Cloud), and if you want to see the original the MST3K version is probably the only way you're going to sit through it.

Rating:


Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume 16



Better than volume 17, but Shout Factory has really put the series in a hole. They seem to be more interested in putting out whatever they can get than what's actually worth watching. Guys, the Season One episodes by and far aren't very good. Stop putting one on every set.

Warrior of the Lost World was alright, but in the end this volume faded from memory until the 10th or 11th of December. My parents were watching a DVD on some Christmas box set my mother bought, and I walked into the room and noticed it was Santa Claus. I told them it was done on MST3K, and that I had the DVD, and my father jumped on the idea because the original was putting him to sleep. We skipped that completely asinine beginning with the kids singing (mostly because dad didn't want to sit through it again), and I found it to be more enjoyable than I did before and my parents were sure glad they watched this version instead.

Rating:


The Simpsons



I'm lumping everything I watched here, which would be the first ten seasons. The first season is the show trying to figure out what it's doing so while not terrible the episodes are rather crusty, and while season two has things in place it's still not quite there, not to mention it has the most annoying menu I've seen on a DVD-set so far. You have to press the Enter button and watch an animation of a spinning circle four times to match up some heads before the episode selection will appear. But seasons three to six are gold, and seven and eight are good too.

People tend to argue when the series started sucking. Now, while I'd still give Season 8 a thumb's up, that infernal My Sister, My Sitter is when I felt the series went down the shitter. Occasionally the show picks its head up out of the mud only to slip and fall back in shortly.

On a side note, I have volume 11, but couldn't get the bloody discs out of the packaging. But given how lackluster seasons 9 and 10 were I'm not too bummed out about it.

Rating for Seasons 1 and 2:

Rating for Season 3 to 8:

Rating for Seasons 9 and 10:


Futurama



When I was done with the Simpsons, I was looking for something in its vein, and what better than its little sci-fi brother? Overall I think Season 3 is my favorite, with episodes like Luck of the Fryrish, Roswell that Ends Well, and Godfellas, and while they're not the show's greatest episodes I have a soft spot for Amazon Women in the Mood, The Day the Earth Stood Stupid, and Where the Buggalo Roam. While I rewatched all of sets 1, 2, and 3, I only rewatched some of Season 4. I actually didn't find them as bad as I once did, including Spanish Fry which is really more awkward than terrible. But I didn't watch the whole set because I really don't need to see Bender get a sex change again.

Rating:


Animaniacs Vol. 2



Man, I have vague memories of enjoying the first volume, but this was torture. I actually did get some laughs out of the Thanksgiving episode with the Gaston-looking guy hunting the turkey, but most everything else went in one ear and out the other, except the Goodfeather segments which has those bits where the purple pigeon misunderstands something the gray pigeon says and after a torturously long "Are you insulting me!" "No I meant...!" exchange beats the crap out of him that got real old real fast, and those Mindy and Buttons segments are insufferable.

And yes, I just used a still from the opening sequence off Volume 1 because I don't know what I did with Volume 2 after I watched it and can't be buggered to look for it.

Rating:


Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law



The show started out hysterical, but lost a lot of oomph as it went on. Maybe I was watching too much of it at a time and wearing myself out, and other parts did make me laugh, but that prison episode is still pretty terrible.

Rating:


The Muppet Show: Season Two



Season Two didn't have as many memorable skits as Season One did, but it's still imaginative, colorful, and witty, and its guest star lineup up Steve Martin, Dom Deluise, Bob Hope, and others doesn't make me feel as ignorant as Season One's did, where the only guest star I'd heard of before was Vincent Price.

Rating:


Space Ghost: Coast to Coast



The show has its moments - the episode with Zorak's nephew is pretty good, and hey, Weird Al! But other moments are completely boring, I got a little tired of Space Ghost constantly bringing up his physique, and I know somebody out there has gotten a seizure from the opening sequence.

Rating:


Super Mario Bros. Super Show Vol. 2



I realize it's pretty much the same thing, but I didn't enjoy Volume 2 as much as Volume 1 (which wouldn't make my favorites, anyway). Even though it was months later when I watched this, but maybe it had lost its novelty. Maybe the shows really were weaker. I mean, Crocodile Mario episode confused the hell out of me because everyone was constantly walking on sky, and why the hell didn't Shout Factory just put the "Bonus Episodes" on the main listing with the other ones? There's also nothing quite as memorable as Toad stuffing a wrench down his pants.

Rating:


The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3



I guess the score's going to depend on what you're in the mood for. If you're looking for some of the most fucked up shenanigans this side of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, this show is chock full of it (be glad I decided against using an image where you could see Luigi's bare ass). But if you're looking for something with substance, look somewhere else, like Futurama.

Rating:


Arrested Development Season Two



Laugh out loud hilarious, although sometimes you need a dark, sick sense of humor to appreciate the show. Yeah, I could take schadenfreude out of Tobias missing the call from the Blueman Group, but I did not enjoy GOB trying to capture that seal by throwing terminally ill cats to it, even if he did fail and get scratched up.

Another thing about this show is it *always* fooled me. Every time I expected Buster's attempt at gliding down the cable on his hook to actually work (like it would in any other program) or shouted "She's not really pregnant!" at the screen, something completely different always happened (actually, after shooting down my logical abilities the show U-turned on one of those and I was right).

Rating:


Riptide: Season One



A buddy of mine got his Internet handle from this show so I started watching it on his birthday, and found it to be quite entertaining! Yes, the writing is terrible and riddled with plotholes, Murray sometimes runs his mouth too much and once made me feel a little embarassed when he started spouting science lingo about some pitri dish cultures and I actually understood what he was saying, and every episode forgets to answer at least one nagging question like "Why did that guy kill all the other Braintrust people and try to assassinate the mayor?" or "If that former CIA agent was actually a good guy, why was he being such a dick about the diabetic woman going into shock?" or "How did Cody get a date with the gold digger when she was part of over-protective Mama Jo's crew?", but it's so cheesy you could smother corn chips with it and call it nachos. There's also a lot of genuine hilarity to be had, like Murray in the bar with the con-artist woman. Sometimes it's 50-50, like when Nick tells Quinlan he doesn't care to be imprisoned because his jail has the worst tacos he's ever had. And gamers might get a kick out Luigi (or Danny Wells as he's known to everyone who isn't a colossal nerd) making a guest appearance in the Four-Eyes episode.

Now for the "just bad". Almost every episode features a boring shootout where the scene shifts from the heroes shooting, to the bad guys shooting, to holes opening up in one of the vehicles, and back again and again, but these are easily overlooked once it gets back to the main show. However, the last few episodes take themselves too seriously for my liking (although "Geeks don't tan, they burn" made me laugh out loud), Quinlan started to get really irritating, and the Asian kids who kept asking how much money our heroes could sell their crap for annoyed the hell out of me. But if you're into action, mystery-solving, and 80's camp, check it out.

Rating:



Books


The Tar-Aiym Krang (Alan Dean Foster)

Foster's first original book and it shows. Pages upon pages of boring history lessons, an underwhelming climax, and what did that subplot with the rich merchant woman's neice plotting to kill her have to do with anything?

Rating:


Pyramids (Terry Pratchett)

So, here's how several Discworlds play out; you have your setup where characters are introduced, then a bunch of vaguely related events happen, something goes wrong and reality gets torn a new one, and it all culminates in an explosive finale. While they have some amusing moments and their endings are, as said before, explosive, overall these tend to be the more "Eh" Discworlds, and Pyramids falls into that formula.

Rating:


The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (Terry Pratchett)

At first it looks like a retelling of the Pied Piper, but as soon as Maurice and his rats get into town, it changes completely and becomes a dark, thought-provoking tale about being a thinking creatures versus being hiveminded (and if I had the power to do it and thought it would do any good, I'd make this a mandatory reading before you could get your Internet User's License). It's interesting how this is aimed at younger readers, but is darker and more gruesome than his adult-aimed Discworlds like the Rat King, the rat slaughter, and how some major characters die, but Pratchett uses his trademark sense of humor to cut the tension when it most needs it.

Rating:


Guards! Guards! (Terry Pratchett)

The first book featuring the Night Watch, and no wonder Pratchett decided to keep working with them; they're awesome. When anarchists summon a giant, fire-breathing dragon, it's up to the bumbling, underpaid Night Watch to save Ankh Morpork from being burned to the ground. It's a great balance of adventure and comedy, and the "million to one" set piece is golden. I'd give it five Skitties, but the little dragon flying by shooting a jet of fire out of its ass is just that awful.

Rating:


The Phantom Tollbooth (Norton Juster)

A favorite book of mine from my childhood, and it's still a great read for an adult. A journey through the imagination that's more than just a bunch of puns like Xanth, it's a completely different way of looking at the world.

Rating:


The Dangerous Days of Daniel X (James Patterson)

This currently stands as the worst book I have ever volunarily read. Maybe the worst I've ever read, since Scarlet Letter was just insanely boring. Daniel X, on the other hand, is aggressively juvenile, condescending, racist, and utterly insulting to both my intelligence and my species. (More)

Rating:


Eric (Terry Pratchett)

Probably the shortest Discworld ever, what with the low page count and large text. So, our bumbling wizard Rincewind is back from the limbo Sourcery stuck him in, has been mistaken for a demon by the titular Eric, and winds up going on a few wacky adventures with Eric. The most memorable part of the book was at the end when Rincewind and Eric wind up in Hell, and there's a few Pratchett-esque takes on the likes of Sisyphus and others. Everything else, while entertaining, just left me thinking "So what?"

Rating:


Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher (Bruce Coville)

A touching little story about a boy who gets a pet dragon, falls in love with it, and ultimately has to give it up. The climax actually drove me to tears, but maybe that had more to do with the fact I had just gone through what this story is an analogy for a week before.

Rating:


Only You Can Save Mankind (Terry Pratchett)

The first and currently only non-Discworld Pratchett book I've read, and I wasn't too wild about it. I thought it was very confusing and difficult to tell what was going on. Stick with Amazing Maurice.

Rating:


Orphan Star (Alan Dean Foster)

It doesn't have Tay-Aiym Krang's problem of an inexperienced writer trying to establish his world, or Mother-Not's problem of an experienced writer telling a story where there was none, but it's still not there yet. While not page after page of pointless history lessons between the humans and thranx, it is still trying to set up Flinx's background (basically, it's a 200-page backstory on how Flinx got his spaceship).

Rating:


Moving Pictures (Terry Pratchett)

See the Pyramids review.

Rating:


Bruce Coville's Book of Aliens (Short Story Collection)

Okay, this is a hard one to rate, because some stories were interesting (the first and last ones), some left me puzzled (the woman remniscing on aliens taking away two dolphins), and others were really bleh (the kids playing make-believe which didn't make any damn sense, that one about the little girl selling out Earth to some aliens).

Rating:


Dark Lord of Derkholm (Diana Wynne Jones)

Man, with a title and cover like this book's it should have been awesome. It's still a decent fantasy-adventure romp and a fun twist on how people from the real world escape to fantasy realms, but it was hard to keep track of all the griffins and the ending has way too many "big reveals". Seriously, every character outside of Derk's family turns out to be some big shot king of their species or elf prince or FBI agent or something, and it becomes more corny than shocking.

Rating:


Reaper Man (Terry Pratchett)

Reaper Man is actually two parallel stories in one book. The first revolves around Death trying to live as a human before he's retired, after his supervisors decided they weren't too happy about him becoming sentient. The second features Windle Poons, an old man who was introduced as a bit character in Moving Pictures, who's supposed to die when Death goes on holiday. While Death is working on a farm as Bill Door, zombie Poons is trying to die, but ends up befriending some monsters. Oh yeah, and there's something about a shopping mall spawning from snowglobes. Definitely worth checking out.

Rating:


My Teacher is an Alien 1-4 (Bruce Coville)

You should probably treat these as one book, which is funny because the first one reads like Coville didn't originally intend for this to be a quadrology. The three books jump perspectives between three kids and their run-ins with aliens trying to study earth and decide what to do about the humans they perceive as a threat to the entire galaxy, yet envy for their brains. During a break I brainstormed several possible endings, although I liked some of my ideas more than what really happened.

However, I really didn't care for that "television rots your brains! Kids need to read more!" crap in the third and fourth books. I'm really sick and tired of that attitude. Yeah, a lot of television is drivel, but you know what? So are a lot of books [insert obligatory Daniel X slam here] and it's no better to read garbage than it is to watch it.

Rating:


Witches Abroad (Terry Pratchett)

Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and no-old-woman-prefix Magrat return in Pratchett's take on some classic fairy tales, particularly Cinderella and the Frog Prince, but also a dark take on Little Red Riding Hood and a hilarious scene where a house falls on Nanny Ogg and a bunch of midgets (fuck political correctness) show up to celebrate the witch getting crushed only to realize they don't know why they care. It's more consistent than Wyrd Sisters was, although what happens to Lily is utterly depressing.

Rating:


The Time Machine Did It (John Swartzwelder)

This was written by one of the Simpsons writers, and I could totally see this as an episode of the show, particularly the time-chase at the end and how the time machine is destroyed (particularly the dog running out from nowhere and shaking the remains in its teeth). The beginning is sluggish, and in fact sat around 50 pages in for about a month before I finally finished it, but it starts to pick up around the time Burly gets his hands on the time machine and gets stuck in the past.

Rating:


Another Fine Myth/Myth Conceptions (Robert Asprin)

This was an edition that contained both books in one binding. I'm not quite sure what to make of them. They're not as witty or funny as Discworld, but they're not as awkwardly sexual as Xanth. They're like equilibrium between the two. Maybe it's just too early in the series for things to get going, but both felt like scene setters. Another Fine Myth introduces the characters, and Myth Conceptions starts the adventure, which are things the first book should have done in one go.

Rating:


Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)

Maybe back when it was first published it was a scary thought, but in this day and age, I don't think anybody could swallow Ender's brother taking over the world with a blog.

Rating:


The Source of Magic (Piers Anthony)

So having got all the history lessons out of the way in Spell for Chameleon, Source of Magic focuses on story and more awkward sexuality like Trent confiding in Bink that he can't get it up with anyone but he dead wife. Much of the middle of the book, while not boring did feel a little padded out (I mean, what did the battle with the constellations have to do with anything?), but the end with the demon Xanth was quite interesting.

Rating:


The Spiderwick Chronicles (Holly Black/Tony DiTerlizzi)

The first book at least had a sense of curiosity about it, but the other four are lame, lame, lame. There's no real conflict, rather just a series of events and the main characters get everything handed to them on a silver plate and the way Mulgarath is defeated is grade-A bullshit (Really? He could have transformed into a dragon, a phoenix, or any other flying animal, but instead chose to turn into a sparrow?). I do have to admit that the illustrations are nice, though.

These books are also insanely expensive for what you get. I thought The Time Machine Did It was overpriced for what you get ($16 for a 137 page book - if you want a comedy, you can get two 300+ page Discworlds for that much), but it has nothing on this; that book was at least hilarious. Each Spiderwick book is only about a hundred pages long with many of those pages taken up by (admittedly nice) illustrations, is small, doesn't have much text per page, and they aren't even that good, yet they cost $11 a pop. You can get the box set for $35 to $50 depending on where you get it from and in what condition. Or you can buy Amazing Maurice new for $7, less used.

Rating:


Thor's Wedding Day (Bruce Coville)

This was kind of a disappointment. The setup - that the frost giants stoll Mjolnir and Thor has to dress up as Freya to get it back - just sounded so awesome, but it fails to deliver. Most of the book is spent on Thialfi the goat boy and his interaction with Thor's goats, Gat-Tooth and Tooth-Gasher, because Coville failed to realize nobody bought this book to read about that.

Rating:


Small Gods (Terry Pratchett)

I think this was supposed to be a commentary on religion (especially Christianity), but I'm still not sure what that statement was supposed to be. On one hand, you've got mirrors of the Inquisition and the Bible declaring everything to be a sin (seriously, Reverend Lovejoy wasn't lying when he said we weren't allowed to go to the bathroom). But then you've got a manifest pantheon of gods who parallel the Olympian gods. I dunno, a lot of this book went in one eye and out the other, and I got kind of tired of everyone saying "There's good eating on one of them" about the tortoise.

Rating:


Blaster Master (A.L. Singer)

This may be a guilty pleasure of mine, but it's really not that bad. The attempts to convert video game logic to a book fall completely flat, but when it forgets it was originally a video game it's actually quite enjoyable. Some of the dialogue makes me cringe and some of it is so bad it's awesome ("You're social studies, buddy!"), but moments like Jason having to kill Fred and the confrontation with the Plutonium Boss are just chilling. And Alex is great, although what he says when they get to Area 7 (which is the ice area, for some reason) makes me want to bust his already lop-sided nose. The hiccups aside, it's quite an entertaining romp and any Blaster Master fan owes it to themselves to check it out. Really, it's probably better than your average Captain N episode.

Rating:


The Story of the Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly (Luis Sepulveda)

Well this certainly wins the "longest title of the year" award, but that's about all it's going to win. It was kind of moving, but was also too unfocused and a strain on my suspension of disbelief towards the end. Also, the colonel cat who was always accusing another cat of saying what he was going to started to grate on my nerves after a while. For what it's worth, the book was originally written in Spanish, so I have to wonder how many of the book's problems were translation.

Rating:


Howl's Moving Castle (Diana Wynne Jones)

The basic elements might be the same as the movie - heartless wizard Howl, Sophie getting turned into an old lady by the Witch, the fire demon Calcifer and what he has of Howl's - but the actual stories are completely different. For example, in the movie the Witch goes to visit that sorceress and gets her powers stripped away by her? In the book, the Witch kills that sorceress. There's also none of that stuff about Howl turning into a bird-monster when he overuses his powers or Sophie briefly turning young at certain points of the movie, and instead of a demonic void the black door leads to Wales. Everyone is also a lot meaner in the book, and Sophie is scared to death of Turnip Head (yeah, he's never called that in the book, but who else it going to be?) instead of his buddy. So don't count on this to explain some of the more confusing moments in the movie, like why Sophie took Calcifer out of the castle (she never does that in the book).

Rating:



The Rundown

New games this year wasn't as great as I would have liked. Except for Final Fantasies 1 and 3 and Shadow of the Beast III, almost of the games I played were merely "okay" with a few stinkers thrown in for good measure. Miles Edgeworth and Sam and Max 2 were disappointing.

Great year for replays, though. Did a lot of Earthworm Jim and Blaster Master. Replaying Blaster Master for that Weird Al music video kicked off a Blaster Master marathon, and I walked away from it with a newfound respect for Enemy Below and finally getting the thorn of having only beaten Blasting Again on Easy out of my side. Boy can still go fuck itself, though.

Movies was fair. A lot of Miyazaki, and I kind of lost interest in the hobby halfway through the year. Regarding Avatar, I wasn't sure what to say about it. I was actually quite disgusted with it, but later found out some scenes were cut from the original version that caused a lot of that ire I held for it (i.e. the unobtanium was never explained and made the impression the earth mining company wanted to dig it up just for monetary profit, the lack of the school scene making Scully's "we have nothing they want" statement quite true). Plus, I rented it on DVD instead of seeing it in theaters, so I wasn't even that impressed with the visuals; I spent the entire moving thinking "Roger Dean called! He wants his floating islands, stone arches, and brightly colored dragons back!"

TV DVDs was great. Granted, I watched way too much Matt Groening stuff than I care to admit (not only 13 volumes of the stuff AND most of the commentaries, but when I need to tidy up around the room and just want something playing on the TV, I'll put on an episode of Simpsons or Futurama), but I also got around to watching the spectacular Muppets show and other classics like Batman and Arrested Development, and increased my nerd kitsch with some video game cartoons.

Got a lot of book reading done, mostly Discworlds. I am getting a bit more comfortable with the medium, and also managed to write a full, if somewhat rambly review for one this year, something I haven't even accomplished for a movie yet.

There was also a remarkable amount of, er, butt this year. Of course I was expecting it from The Simpsons and Futurama, but I also got a bit of it from games and game-related cartoons. At the beginning of the year there was Dr. Robotnik waggling his booty at me, then towards the end I had to look at Wario doing pretty much the same thing (if you're complaining about the clouds in the telescope jumping, you're not paying attention to the right thing). There's a shot in the Mighty Plumber episode of the Super Mario Bros. 3 cartoon where you could see Luigi's bare ass. And Blasting Again made me feel like a pervert because I couldn't take my eyes of Roddy's bum during the loading screens I had to watch every time I walked through a door. All in all, this year just made me feel creeped out about myself.

Then I got to play with a Super Nintendo flash cart for fan translations, other stuff not released in America, or games that are just absurdely expensive or hard to come by (Metal Warriors). I was mostly pleased with it, but I just wish the thing had real-time saving instead of having to go through that process with holding reset and whatnot. On the plus side, you can copy those saves onto your computer and pick up the games on SNES9x, or vice versa.


Best New Game - Final Fantasy
1st Runner Up - Final Fantasy III
2nd Runner Up - Shadow of the Beast III

Worst New Game - Limbo
1st Runner Up - LittleBig Planet
2nd Runner Up - Peggle Deluxe

Best Replay That I Haven't Already Gone Through A Hundred Times - Blaster Master: Enemy Below
1st Runner Up - Ys Book 1&2
2nd Runner Up - Plants vs. Zombies

Worst Replay - Earthworm Jim 2: Special Edition
2nd Runner Up - Final Fantasy (GBA)
1st Runner Up - Earthworm Jim HD

Prettiest New Game - Wario Land: Shake It
1st Runner Up - Shadow of the Beast II
2nd Runner Up - Demon's Crest

Prettiest Replay - Earthworm Jim
1st Runner Up - Blaster Master
2nd Runner Up - Earthworm Jim 2

Ugliest Game - Limbo
- No competition, seriously -

Most Satisfying to Finally Finish After Tormenting Me For Years - Demon's Crest
1st Runner Up - Final Fantasy
2nd Runner Up - Blasting Again on Normal

Best Movie - Moon
1st Runner Up - Inglorious Basterds
2nd Runner Up - The Monster Squad

Worst Movie - Troy
1st Runner Up - Astro Boy
2nd Runner Up - Coraline

Best (New) TV DVD - The Muppet Show Season One
1st Runner Up - Arrested Development Season Two
2nd Runner Up - Batman: The Animated Series Volume 1

Worst TV DVD - Animaniacs Vol. 2
1st Runner Up - Simpsons 9 and 10
2nd Runner Up - Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. 17

Best (New) Book - Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
1st Runner Up - Guards! Guards!
2nd Runner Up - Reaper Man

Worst Book - Dangerous Days of Daniel X
1st Runner Up - The Spiderwick Chronicles
2nd Runner Up - The Tar-Aiym Krang

Most Pleasant Surprise (Games) - Final Fantasy II
1st Runner Up - Eversion
2nd Runner Up - Blaster Master Overdrive (I'm impressed it didn't totally suck)

Most Pleasant Surprise (Everything Else) - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
1st Runner Up - Danny Wells in Riptide
2nd Runner Up - Weird Al in Space Ghost

Biggest Disappointment (Games) - Sam and Max Season Two
1st Runner Up - Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
2nd Runner Up - Earthworm Jim 2: Special Edition

Biggest Disappointment (Everything Else) - Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. 17
1st Runner Up - Animaniacs Vol. 2
2nd Runner Up - Thor's Wedding Day

Stupidest Big Reveal - Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box (The town of Folsense was just a hallucination everyone was having because they were doped up on a gas coming from the mine!)
1st Runner Up - Sam and Max Season Two (The Soda Poppers are the real rulers of Hell!)
2nd Runner Up - Riptide Season One (The Pretty Girl of the Episode and her sister are the same person and she has multiple personality disorder!)

Dumbest Name for a 2010 Release - Disney Epic Mickey
1st Runner Up - Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
2nd Runner Up - Metroid: Other M


Will I do something like this for 2011? Probably not. You could probably tell the early stuff wasn't exactly fresh in my memory and I had a lot of trouble writing the reviews, particularly for books which isn't a medium I the greatest amount of experience with, given that I've read more books in the past 18 months than I have in the entire rest of my life, and that might even include what I had to read for school. Maybe in 2011 I'll rip off Flying Omelette's Capsule Reviews or Rage Quitter's Games I've Played and do it month by month and include pictures, because seriously, Review Quickies needs an overhaul. I'll also need to decide what to do about things I start but can't be buggered to finish. Two notable items from this year are Modern Warfare which I gave up on because I couldn't tell what the hell was going on in that game most of the time, and the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon which was utterly boring. What concerns me about doing stuff I never finished is I don't want to glut the Review Quickies with stuff I only sampled, like The Tygrine Cat (which I read two chapters of and while in no way offensive, it just didn't grab me) or Shining Wisdom (which did actively annoy me because Mars moved too damn slow if you weren't constantly tapping the Dash button). Well, we'll see what the new year brings for CK.com!


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