Best Game - Wario Land 3
1st Runner Up - Wario Land 2
2nd Runner Up - Boxboy

If I included games I disqualified for whatever reason and had to stick with new games, I'd go Boxboy, Seirei Senshi Spriggran, and Shantae: Risky's Revenge. Why did I disqualify Spriggan? I'll get to that in a bit.

Worst Game - Liberation Maiden
1st Runner Up - Fragrant Story

How the hell did a ten minute shitpost of a game beat out something that while still super short, was actually a full game? Because Fragrant Story at least gave me some "What the shit??" giggles while Liberation Maiden just bored the fuck out of me. But #1 would be Blazing Lazers if it qualified. Again, we'll discuss that shortly.

Game That I Put A Decent Amount of Effort Into, But Never Got Around to Finishing of the Year - Pushmo

While not an unpleasant experience by any means, Pushmo just went on way too long for me, and like eating an entire birthday cake by myself, I could only handle so much of it. And about halfway through, I had my fill.

Best Movie - Blazing Saddles
1st Runner Up - Batman (1989)
2nd Runner Up - The Super Mario Bros. Movie

And despite my issues with it, Blazing Saddles was still the best movie of the year. And come to think about it, I had the same feelings about Batman and The Super Mario Bros. Movie: good scenes involving the villain in between a man and a woman doing stuff I found it hard to care about.

Worst Movie - Howard the Duck
1st Runner Up - Road to El Dorado

In Supergods, Grant Morrison makes a crack about the Howard the Duck movie pretty much killing off Howard the Duck. Don't know if Road to El Dorado ended any careers or franchises.

Best Book/Comic - Doom Patrol
1st Runner Up - Flex Mentallo
2nd Runner Up - The Puppets of Spelhorst

The entire first volume of Doom Patrol is a bit of a wash, but once Mr. Nobody enters the picture it becomes a real trip.

On the first reading I was a bit iffy on Flex Mentallo, but the more I chewed on it and pieced together what was going on the more it clicked for me. Reading Supergods and learning what was going on with the bomb-dropping skeletons also helped.

And Puppets of Spelhorst is just a charming little kid's book.

Worst Book/Comic - Berserk: The Flame Dragon Knight

If you seriously can't get enough Berserk, even fanfic is a better use of your time than this.

Stuff I Didn't Do Quickies About For One Reason or Another

Seirei Senshi Spriggan and Blazing Lazers - I played both on my PC Engine Mini and didn't review either for the same reason: Savestate use.

I actually got most of the way through Spriggan without using savestates, but just before the second to last boss there's a long cutscene of the game's villain on a monitor giving a speech about... something, it's in Japanese so for all I know he was giving me his favorite chicken noodle soup recipe. When it was done I thought to myself "Yeah, I'm not sitting through that again" and set a savestate after it. All that remained of the game were the last two bosses, and while you can attempt the final boss as many times as you want since he's his own stage and you have infinite continues, if you die to him and try to take him on without any powerups, he will kick your ass six ways from Sunday (and the first time I got him to his second form, he glitched out and turned into garbage graphics). For what it's worth, I put the savestate at the very beginning of the fight so when I reloaded I had to fight the whole boss over again. If I had to score it, I'd say three Skitties.

Blazing Lazers on the other hand? While I tried for as long as possible to set the savestates only at the beginning of levels and replay the entire level if I died, by the final level I was savescumming the hell out of it because it has one of the most idiotic design choices I've ever seen in a shooter; enemy bullets are affected by parallax. Look at this GIF and notice how the lasers trail off the lenses they're being fired from as I move past the boss. Now imagine that happening with waves of bullets all traveling at different angles. It's confusing at best, disorienting at worst, and I cannot tell you how many times I died trying to sidestep a bullet only to have it change trajectory and hit me anyway.

So how do you play such an awkward shooter? Well, you've probably heard the saying "the best defense is a good offensive" so you have get so built up that your own shots fill the screen and kill everything before it even has a chance to fire. And guess what? That makes the game super boring. There was a point during the bubble level where I said out loud "when does this level fucking end?" I actually gave up for a few months at the final level (which is a fucking boss rehash) and was ready to throw it into my "fuck this game" of the year, but for whatever reason (maybe just for the sake of finishing what I started) I eventually went back and picked off the last few bosses. Half a Skitty.

25 MST3K Movies that Changed My Life in No Way Whatsoever and How to Write Cheesy Movies - Both by Frank Conniff, Dr. Forrester's assistant for most of the early seasons of MST3K (I always forget he had a different assistant in the first season). The former isn't so much an analysis of twenty-five notable MST3K features, but Frank using twenty-five MST3K features as springboards to talk about something else. The latter is basically Terrible Writing Advice in book form. Amusing books, but hard to review.

The Dark Knight Returns - As you've probably guessed from my introduction of Flex Mentallo in the Grant Morrison/Deltarune article, I have a bit of a bias against this book due to the way it's constantly used as a cudgel against comics by people who don't actually care about the medium ("Dark Knight Returns is one of three exceptions that prove capeshit is just power fantasy for horny teenagers!"). It's also one of those "Who needs me to tell them about this?" things like All-Star Superman. And whenever I finally do get around to reading Watchmen, I will not be reviewing it for the same reasons.

Night Watch - The Discworld novel. Because of my job and shit, it took me months of reading a little bit here and there to finally get through it, so my time time with it was so spread out that trying to form any thoughts on it was like trying to build a sand castle after the wind had blown everything away.

Final Thoughts

One of my cats died in July. One day, out of nowhere, I found him sitting on the floor, gasping for air and wetting himself. What made this worse was I was alone and working nine days straight and couldn't call off because my coworkers had a habit of calling off because they just didn't feel like coming in. He held out and with some medication and oxygen therapy we managed to buy him a month, which he mainly spent hiding in one of two places while struggling to breathe and being incontinent, and he ultimately died on my lap. His own mother died when she was only 12 so he may have inherited something from her, but we live in an area that was badly affected by smoke from the Canada fires, so he could have been poisoned by the air or residue settling on the ground. The vet assures me his days were numbered as soon as he started showing symptoms, but it still should not have taken me nine fucking days to get him to the vet.

I know all cats are special but Ivan was really special. He was heterochromatic and the smartest cat we've ever had. He even figured out how to ring our doorbell (which is a literal bell) when he wanted to come inside. Unfortunately, this translated into being a mischievous little shit and I admit I wasn't as patient with him as I wish I was. He didn't have much of a voice so he had to find other ways to get our attention. At best, I'd be at the computer, hear a THUMP from my room, and get up to find him pushing stuff off my dresser. But most of the time he'd bite on one of our other cats to get him to scream, forcing somebody to go break it up. Even while he was dying he was trying to keep up his antics, mainly getting on top of things to knock stuff over (at this point, him knocking things over didn't bother me so much as, you know, the incontinence thing)

I'm trying to think of how old our cats were when they died. Simba and Einstein were 13, Arlene was 15, and Sukie was 18. Ivan was 11, which while not that young also isn't that old. His death reminds me of the phrase from Blade Runner "The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long."

A few months later we came within inches of losing another. At the end of 2022 we took in a new cat, Bandy, and she has proven to be one of the most difficult cats we've ever had. She's prone to UTIs and has a habit of going on the floor, which seems to have caused one of our other cats to get into a literal pissing contest with her. One day in late December she stopped eating and was acting disoriented. This time I had a morning shift and somebody in the house with me so we managed to get her to the vet quickly and in came the news: she's diabetic and was undergoing ketoacidosis.

We weren't even sure she was going to survive the night. The diabetes is also why she kept getting UTIs, because the extra sugar in her urine was feeding the bacteria in there. She pulled through and is our responsibility now, and kitty's going to be on insulin for the rest of her life.

In Loving Memory of Ivan
2012 - 2023