Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nintendo 64 15th Anniversary Special: My 15 Favorite N64 Games!

15 years ago today, on September 29, 1996, Nintendo's third home console was unleashed on the American video game market (as long as you discount the few stores that allegedly released the system early). The Nintendo 64 was hyped to bring the gaming technology to a whole new dimension with its then-stunning 3D graphics and the revolutionary (for Nintendo) new joystick controller. Over its five year lifespan, the N64 had reached both the highest apexes (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) and the lowest depths (Superman 64). While it didn't live up to its predecessors in either sales or game library, the Nintendo 64 still occupies a significant place in the history of video gaming.

Five years ago, I wrote a short and somewhat cumbersome history of the Nintendo 64 in honor of its tenth anniversary, which you can read here. There is no real reason to produce an updated history of the Nintendo 64, as the only major events in past five years are the releases of old N64 games on the Wii's Virtual Console (ported) and the Nintendo 3DS (remastered). Therefore I have decided to make this a much more personal project. Every Nintendo 64 fan would have their own stories about their experiences with the system, and I have decided to tell my story by counting down my 15 favorite Nintendo 64 games. While this countdown format would lead to a non-chronological story, I hope that I would be able to share why the Nintendo 64 is so significant in my gaming career. And more importantly, I hope I would inspire you to share your own stories. For each game I will present a simple plotline, my own personal history, and a favorite memory of mine.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Best Animated Shorts - 2010

It's that time of the year again, when the excitement of the Baseball Hall of Fame vote has died down (Yey for Bert Blyleven!) and the Oscars are the only thing to tide me over until baseball season begins again. And like the past four years, the one category that I am following closely is that of Best Animated Short. In case this is your first time reading this, the Best Animated Short category was one that had fallen to the wayside for me until 2006, when I came to the realization that not only are they short and fun to watch (something I've known since I was a kid when I watched dozens of Oscar-nominated shorts without knowing it), but they are also incredibly easy to find! Since then, Best Animated Short has superceded Best Picture as my favorite category. Case in point: even though I didn't start watching Best Animated Short nominees until 2006, 8 years after I started trying to watch Best Picture nominees, I've still seen more of the Best Animated Short nominees, 301 (out of 327, 92%) to 231 (out of 485, 47%).

I've also done something with Best Animated Short I've never done for Best Picture: watch all of the nominees before the night of the actual ceremony. I've done this every year since 2007, when I went to the showing for Best Animated Short nominees in Washington DC. A year later, I watched all of the shorts without going to the showing, and wrote up a review for each of the nominees. Last year, I found the shortlist of ten a month before the nominations were announced, and I watched six of them before the nominees were announced, and saw all five nominees on the day of the nomination. This year, I tried to get a leg up by finding the longlist back in November. I had seen eight on the shortlist by the announcement, but even then there was one of the nominees that I hadn't seen. My sister and I tried to find the final short on video sites and bit torrents, but to no avail. In the end we sucked it up and bought the DVD, under the pretense of being a late birthday present. The DVD arrived two weeks ago, so it's been two weeks since I watched all the short, but I just hadn't had time to write the review. Now that it's three days before the Oscars, hopefully it is not too late. I apologize in advance if this will be largely incomprehensible, but that's what you get when you write four days before a major exam.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Why I'm Happy for Bert Blyleven, and other Hall of Fame Musings

Well, it's finally happened. After 14 long years on the Hall of Fame ballot, Rik Aalbert "Bert" Blyleven has finally polled 75% of the vote and will be making his long overdue entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame. For many, this is a triumph of a new way of looking at pitchers that focuses less on wins and losses and more on factors that pitchers can control: preventing runs and the runners that can score them. And even though I'm way too big of a fan of pitching wins than I should be, I couldn't be more ecstatic. I've been pulling for Bert's election as far back as 1999. But why, you may ask, have I been rooting for a guy who retired before I was even aware of baseball; one who had less than 15% of the vote in the year I started hoping for his election? To find the answer, you'd have to go back to 1993, five years before Bert's ballot debut.

I was only eight years old back then. Prior to that, the only thing I knew about baseball was the fact that it existed, and that they made cards of baseball players, which were pretty cool. My first major dose came that summer. First of all, one of my father's friends took my dad, my sister, and me to see a Royals game.* The other was that my sister and I somehow came into possession of about 100 or so baseball cards from 1993.

*The only thing I remember about the game was that the Royals beat the Orioles 7-1, and that Royals legend George Brett, one of the few players that I knew, did not play that day. To this day, my sister still likes to point out the fact that I was rooting for the Orioles that day, even though right now the Royals are one of my favorite teams and the Orioles are one of my least favorite. Of course, back then I didn't know who the teams were. I just rooted for the Orioles because my sister was rooting for the Royals. It's what siblings do. Of course, now they both suck.