Walking late at night with Boomer is quickly becoming one of my favorite activities. There’s something both therapeutic and exciting about stepping out of my apartment after 10 PM (and sometimes even after midnight) to take my dog out for a walk. Admittedly, I get a little nervous at times, because I’m still not 100 percent familiar with this new neighborhood of mine — but the important thing to take away is exactly that: This is my new neighborhood, so I should feel at home here.
What I love most about our after hours walks is just how calm and quiet everything is. It’s just me with my dog, walking down streets and past houses. It’s those moments when we’re walking by houses that I feel most at ease. Sometimes we’ll come across a house that has its lights on. I often wonder if the people living there are retired, work weird hours, or just don’t care enough about sleep to go to bed at a reasonable hour.
Sometimes I can smell different odors coming from certain houses. I’ve smelled what seemed like tasty food coming from one house — that was kind of nice. I’ve also smelled the soothing fragrance of freshly washed and dried clothing. There’s one area in particular where I get a whiff of someone doing laundry, and it smells a lot like what an old friend’s house used to smell like when I would visit. It makes for quite a nostalgic overload, and it takes me to a really peaceful place.
All of that aside, I love that it’s just my Beagle and I. While the little guy is still trying to adjust to his new companion and home, he still trusts me enough to get excited about going on walks with me. He’s out there, marking territory and relieving himself, meanwhile I’m taking in fresh air and looking around. He’s walking about happily and bouncing with every step while I enjoy looking around and deal with slight nervousness. He’s sniffing everything, being a Beagle in hunting mode while I’m smelling the odors that come from houses and flowers and trees.
The best part about it, though, is that I’m out there — reminiscing and revisiting and enjoying — with my little buddy, and it’s pretty great.
Can we agree that the poster for Godzilla is the coolest thing about that movie? Before anyone thinks I’m going to be a total dick about it, well, you’re only half right. See, I actually enjoyed the 2014 reboot of the legendary Japanese kaiju series. Sure, it has some absolutely heinous problems, but it also presents the Godzilla we know in a contemporary manner that’s actually kind of refreshing … when it isn’t flat-out annoying, that is.
The first blunder on the part of the film’s creators was casting Jonathan Taylor Thomas as the lead. Oh, wait, I mean Aaron-Taylor Johnson. Yeah, Jonathan Taylor Thomas was actually pretty damn good when he came out in The Lion King and Home Improvement. Aaron-Taylor Johnson Dickson, on the other hand, sucked a lot of the life out of Godzilla by being an unforgivably awful protagonist.
Speaking of which, can this man never get work again? Okay, fine, he can come out in a weird SyFy movie. No, scratch that — I tend to watch a lot of those movies, and I sure as hell don’t need this tool stinking them up (even more). So yeah, no more movies for Dickson. He’s an idiot.
I liked Godzilla, but I still think this poster deserved a better movie.
Seriously, the lead role should’ve been given to Bryan Cranston. That dude was a badass from the start. He was unstable, sure, but he was willing to go the extra mile to prove everyone wrong … until he died. It really should’ve been Dickson who met his demise. A much better direction would’ve been for Cranston and Ken Watanabe to take the fight to Godzilla old school-style (whatever that means). Also, Michael Rooker should’ve been there, too.
One thing that seems to get mixed reactions is the amount of time it actually takes for Godzilla to appear in the film. It’s several hundred hours into the movie when we finally see the merciless beast pop up and deliver his trademark roar, but I kind of dug it. When Godzilla finally comes out, it feels like a big deal — it’s a reward for sitting through Dickson’s douchebaggery (his wife and kid suck, too), but more importantly, the Godzilla reveal is preceded by a nice, tense, slow build.
The film’s tone is also quite spectacular. It isn’t gritty and over-the-top like the original Japanese Godzilla films. Instead, it’s moody, somber, and rainy (which is more a weather condition than a tone, but whatever). The big departure from overly Japanese giant monster antics to near-apocalyptic disaster a la ‘Merica drags at times, but it also makes for a visually charged experience that’s fun to watch.
Fun fact: Michael Rooker is the love child of BADASS and FUCK YEAH.
If only that was it for the wholesome American style, though. While Godzilla is indeed a fun film to watch, its American-ness is a tad on the overbearing side. I don’t care about a guy and his ridiculous family. I just want to see Godzilla fight some monsters and stomp on cities. There were times when I felt that the movie should’ve been called Aaron-Taylor Thomas Dickson in Where the Fuck’s My Lame-Ass Family? Also, Godzilla kind of had a conscience at the end. What gives?
There really is no place for human drama in a monster movie (especially when that human drama carries over to the damn monster). These films aren’t about tugging at your heartstrings or making you feel all the feels. They’re about making you utter the words “holy” and “shit,” preferably in that order. But no, Godzilla decides to go uber American by being a movie about people with a giant monster as the backdrop. If you’re a fan of the original films, this is clearly a crappy decision.
Again, I had a genuinely good time watching Godzilla. In fact, I’ll probably get the movie on Blu-ray. But I’ll never enjoy the shitty acting, unnecessary implementation of a plot, and overall lack of Godzilla. Oh, and here’s my mandatory complaint regarding the omission of the old Godzilla theme. When the inevitable sequel hits theaters in 2018, I vote for the John Fucking Goodman and Michael Fucking Rooker to run and gun all over that bitch. And if they’re going to be American about it, they should be bald eagle with buff arms holding assault rifles in each hand with an American flag as a cape American.
It’s not that I give Godzilla a thumbs up (even though I did think it was pretty good); John Goodman is just awesome.
Here it is. It’s time for my 10 favorite games of 2013. After checking out a number of different titles across varying categories, I’m going to share my absolute top picks of the year. Appearing for the third time on my Blog Thing are the beaten and bloodied Dean Ambrose (during his Jon Moxley days) and Covert Affairs lass.
10. Disney Infinity
That’s right, f*cking Disney Infinity made it onto my Top 10 list. Why? Because it’s a damn fine game, that’s why! Though the customizable sandbox mode is pretty neat, it’s the Play Set campaigns that really entertained me the most. And sure, they may be pricey, but they’re essentially DLC with cool Disney statuettes. The Lego-esque gameplay and fun missions of these campaigns make for a surprisingly fun time, and I’m eagerly looking forward to new Play Sets in the future.
I’m a sucker for comedy in games, and Guacamelee presents a ton of great humor. Whether the game was poking fun at Mexican culture or parodying other games, I found myself with a constant grin the whole time. The combat, which mixes beat ‘em up mechanics with wrestling moves, is satisfying throughout, and it’s always cool seeing how crazy the new moves you unlock will be. When all is said and done, Guacamelee is just a really great comedic adventure.
8. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Even though I was more than fashionably late to the whole Link to the Past party (I played the game in 2007 on the Wii Virtual Console), I still hold the game quite dear to my heart. So when I played The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, I was glad to revisit that particular vision of Hyrule. Add to the nostalgia some great mechanics new to the Zelda series, and you have a game that’s both reminiscent of what the series was and telling of what it could be. Link Between Worlds totally made Skyward Sword its b*tch.
7. Pandora’s Tower
Pandora’s Tower may have launched in Japan three decades ago, but it finally made its way to North America this year, so I’m going with it. Even though other games have hit the Wii since its localization, I consider this the true curtain call for Nintendo’s previous gaming console. It isn’t the most revolutionary RPG, but it’s highly entertaining, pleasantly dark, and surprisingly captivating. Now let’s get some games like this on the Wii U!
6. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
I’m a big fan of action titles and Platinum Games, so it should come as no surprise that Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is quite high on my Top 10 list. Though the story is far from understandable and lacks compelling protagonists, the villains are largely enjoyable to witness. The futuristic world is also pretty cool, and the insane hack-and-slash combat is absolutely wonderful. It’s a short five-hour affair, but those five hours are totally awesome.
5. Saints Row IV
Playing Saints Row IV reminded me of playing a game with a bunch of ridiculous cheats enabled. You can leap over buildings, run faster than cars, and shoot fire out of your hands. Playing Saints Row IV is like stuffing delicious sour candy straight into the pleasure centers of your brain. Well, it’s not entirely like that, because doing that would, like, kill you. But you get what I’m saying.
4. Super Mario 3D World
The oversaturation of the Mario franchise certainly frustrates me, but even then, I couldn’t help but fall in love with Super Mario 3D World. The levels are all a blast to run and jump through, the power-ups are fun to use, and the music makes me smile like an idiot. Side note: Peach and Toad are the standout characters here. Mario and Luigi (and Rosalina) can go screw themselves.
3. Tomb Raider
While the writing devolves into a less-than-stellar plot toward the end, the overall story of Tomb Raider is pretty interesting, and the reimagined character of Lara Croft is great throughout. Lara gets her ass kicked by big dudes and the elements, but she just gets stronger and more confident. In addition, the gameplay of Tomb Raider encourages you to keep playing, and the semi-open world is fun to explore. The multiplayer component was undoubtedly pretty weak, but despite that lackluster feature, Tomb Raider is still an absolute wonder to play.
2. The Last of Us
Despite my initial disinterest, I’m glad I gave in and experienced the magic of The Last of Us. The characters, story, and gameplay all come together to provide one of the finest games of its generation. As far as action-adventure/stealth/survival horror games go, this one stands tall atop a massive mountain. Simply put, The Last of Us is one of the best games I’ve ever played.
1. Bit.Trip Presents… Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
It may not be the most complex, lengthy, or revolutionary game I played in 2013, but Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien left me in utter awe. Its candy-colored graphics and lovely music come together seamlessly with run-and-jump gameplay to create a euphoric experience. This is one of the very best games I’ve played, and when I reviewed it a few months ago, I was more than happy to give to a perfect 10/10 score.
I was curious to see how Runner2 stacked up against games I had played more recently, so I revisited it a few weeks ago and was happy to discover that it was still the best game I had played in 2013. Maybe it’s my adulation of offbeat titles, but Runner2 has cemented itself as one of my favorite games of all time alongside Super Mario Bros. 3, No More Heroes 2, and a few others.
A lot of my favorite games have come from the brilliant minds of independent developers. Though these games may not exactly have the biggest budget, they’re backed by total creativity, heart, and ingenuity. Many times, it’s an indie game that’s the most thought-provoking experience for me. The final category in my Game of the Year 2013 Blog Thing before we get to my Top 10 is the Indie Game of the Year, presented by Zooey Deschanel’s eyes.
Guacamelee is like one big cornucopia of random things put together. You’ve got Metroidvania-style gameplay, beat ‘em up mechanics, video game parodies, and lighthearted jokes about Mexican culture. Nothing the game does is ever offensive, so even when the luchador protagonist turns into a rooster, it’s hard not to crack a smile at what some uptight folks may perceive as racism. (I’m Mexican; it wasn’t racist to me.) Ultimately, Guacamelee, just like it’s name, is a really fun and tasty little adventure.
ibb & obb
Even though it’s virtually unplayable toward the end if you’re trying to get through it without a co-op partner, ibb & obb is still a largely enjoyable experience. This is a game you need to play with someone right next to you, which isn’t a bad thing even if it isn’t exactly convenient for everyone. What you get with this endearing game is a string of rewarding puzzles, excellent music, and lovely art. Whenever I got to the end of a level, I just loved sitting there and staring at the characters dance away as they reveled in their accomplishments.
I would’ve loved to have put more time into Intake before the end of the year. That said, the few hours I managed to sink into the game before 2013 ended were some of the most enthralling and cathartic I had with any indie game all year. The way the loud music combined with the gritty visuals as I blasted away at falling pills made for a wholly mesmerizing experience. And unlocking power-ups that permanently affected and evolved the gameplay was wonderfully satisfying and made me fall in love with the game more and more the further into I got.
Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine
Don’t let its minimalist art style fool you — Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine is a highly elaborate game about pulling off tough heists. Even though its graphics may be simple (really pretty, but simple nonetheless), the game is deceptively strategic. Whether you’re going it alone or teaming up with other players to pull off your criminal deeds, there’s a load of entertainment to be found in this beautifully put together package.
Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
It may be a sequel, but Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien still manages to reinvent the wheel for both the Bit.Trip series and running man games. It’s almost revolutionary in the way it adds so much to the standard auto-run-and-jump genre. Throw in graphics that are easy on the eyes and an amazingly catchy soundtrack, and you’ve got a game that’s just a total joy to play and never gets old.
Winner: Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
No indie game quite left me utterly satisfied and elated much like Runner2. Whenever I loaded it up, I didn’t want to stop playing, and I eagerly looked forward to playing it again every time I stopped. Developer Gaijin Games really outdid itself with this one. Runner2 is a landmark for its genre, and it’s the absolute best indie game I played all year.
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It’s time to take a look at the major releases of the year and decide exactly which one I liked best. As we’ve already established, I didn’t play a lot of the games that made people get happy feels in their pants (Grand Theft Auto V, Assassin’s Creed IV, and so on). With that said, let’s take a look at the five Triple-A Game of the Year nominees. Presenting her second award is the chick from Covert Affairs, this time sporting brown hair and a cool outfit.
The Last of Us
Naughty Dog has gained a reputation for creating slick action-adventure games, and The Last of Us is no slouch. While this is technically a “zombie” game, it’s combination of stealth, shooting, and action gameplay helps it stand out from the rest of the pack. The result is one of the most complete feeling action-adventure games around, as well as a truly mind-blowing experience in its own right.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance may not fit the typical triple-A description due its niche Japanese action game appeal, but this is one of the best games I played in 2013 to be published by a major company. So it’s on this list anyway and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. The hack-and-slash gameplay on hand here was wild and satisfying, and the enemies were joyously retarded. I couldn’t even begin to explain the convoluted mess of a story, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a hell of a great time playing Revengeance.
Saints Row IV
Saints Row: The Third was my game of the year in 2011 due to its amazingly ludicrous gameplay, characters, and plot. Saints Row IV doesn’t have that same level of “wow” factor due to the fact that we’ve already seen a crazy game like this before, but it’s still incredibly great in its own right. This time around, all of the insanity is amplified to the nth degree, and it almost feels like you’re playing a game with cheats enabled. Hey, that’s not a bad thing!
Super Mario 3D World
The first thing people go bonkers about when talking about Super Mario 3D World is the new Cat Suit. I definitely agree that this latest power-up is one of the best new features to appear in the series, but there’s also much more to it than that. The platforming is rewarding and entertaining the entire time you’re playing, the level design is remarkable, and the rest of the power-ups are absolutely great. Mario 3D World is easily the best game in the series in quite some time.
It was about time Lara Croft’s adventures got a reboot. Thankfully, Tomb Raider lived up to the hype and offered a great origin story for a character I was otherwise indifferent about. Seeing Lara grow during the early parts of the game and watching as she became a hardened survivor was thrilling, and joining her throughout her quest for survival was a memorably wild ride I’ve looked back on all year with the utmost enthusiasm.
Winner: The Last of Us
At the start of the year, I wouldn’t have even guessed that The Last of Us would take away the Game of the Year award in my Blog Thing. I was almost 100 percent certain that Tomb Raider would be the winner. After giving Naughty Dog’s latest a shot, I was instantly won over by Joel and Ellie. The desolate post-apocalyptic world they tread is filled with danger, and it’s a beautifully terrifying place to explore. The Last of Us marked a change of pace for action-adventure games and delivered one of the best entries in the genre to date.
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