Console Games Featured PC Games

GamesRadar’s 100 Best Games of All Time – OH REALLY

The folks at GamesRadar threw down their list of the top 100 games of all time, and while I’m not going to comment on every game (I haven’t played all of them), I’d like to point out what I think they got right and what they missed.

  • 99.  Ducktales – Excellent pull here, actually, as this game was fantastic.  You don’t want to admit to your friends that you played this, but it was really that good.
  • 92.  Quake 3 Arena – Meh.  It was fun, but top 100?  Let me see where the other games end up.
  • 81.  Kingdom Hearts 2 – I’ve tried to play this several times, and it’s like the beginning is some impenetrable wall of text and zzzzzz….
  • 77.  Star Wars:  Knights of the Old Republic – Man, this low?  Not sure about these guys.
  • 72.  TeamFortress 2 – Pure entertainment.  Love this game.  Even if I suck.
  • 64.  Braid – Just a beautiful experience.  Try it out.
  • 58.  Counter-Strike – I came to this late, but had tons of fun with this.  Hours spent at Cyberjocks when it was open here in Buffalo, and many more online.
  • 54.  Sim-City 2000 – THERE BETTER NOT BE ANOTHER CITY BUILDING GAME ABOVE THIS although a Caesar game would be OK I guess.
  • 40.  The Sims 3 – So much better than the first game, as I can manage to get these Sims to stay alive.  With the first game, it was a race to see how my Sims would die (usually trying to cook).
  • 39.  Diablo 2 – On the front of my mind, thanks to the Diablo 3 beta.  Burrows into the part of your brain that likes getting stuff, and then getting more stuff, and more stuff…
  • 38.  Mega-Man 2 – Jesus this game nearly killed me, but I kept the fuck at it and finally triumphed.
  • 30.  Skyrim – Interesting it’s up here.  Is Morrowind not on the list?  I still go back to that.  Maybe because it’s my first Elder Scrolls game.
  • 29.  Super Mario 64 – Agree 100% with this one.  All the different ways to interact with the environment, yet not so complex that you needed a cheatsheet.  Just played great.
  • 27.  Deus Ex – Yes yes yes.  Might’ve been over my head at the time, but still a ton of fun.
  • 26.  Civilization V – I need to give this another shot.  Civ 2 forever!
  • 24.  Final Fantasy X – Never played this one.  But I will smash these guys in the face with a shovel if FFVI (or FFIV) are not above this.  No way this is the only FF.
  • 19.  Starcraft 2 – You’ve read my thoughts on this.  SP is good enough, but MP is a whole bunch of rabid clickers with meticulously mapped-out build orders.  Just not fun for me.
  • 17.  The Legend of Zelda:  A Link to the Past – Still the best in my book.  Worth busting out the SNES for.
  • 14.  Final Fantasy VI – THANK YOU I will not get arrested for shovel-based assault.  Great story, great villain, replay it in whole or in part every year.
  • 12.  Half-Life 2 – Will the original be above it?  Either way, if you are reading this, I probably don’t have to tell you why HL2 is so good.
  • 4.  Super Mario Bros. 3 – The ultimate Mario game, ever.  No equal.
  • 2.  Tetris – We all have a favorite version, whether it’s the Tengen NES (or Arcade) game, the Nintendo version, Game Boy…EVERYBODY has played it.
  • 1.  Portal – Portal 2 was on there too, but I want to replay the original before I comment on the new one.  Portal remains one of my all-time favorite games, and GLaDOS is simply the best villainous AI there is.

WoW is on the list, but I’ve never been big on MMOs, if you are wondering about that.  I think they’ve done a solid job on the list, but there are some glaring omissions to my eyes.  In no particular order:

  • 4X games – What, no Master of Orion?  Stars!?  Galactic Civilizations?  Sins of a Solar Empire?  Anything?  Tough room.
  • Flight Sims – Another genre that isn’t ‘cool’ right now, but so many games here that are worthy.  X-Wing?  X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter?  No Wing Commander games?  Elite?
  • Combat Sims – Microprose needs to be here somewhere.  Gunship, Silent Service, Red Storm Rising…heck, there still isn’t a tank battle game to beat M1 Tank Platoon.
  • Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri – No Civ2 AND no Alpha Centauri?  How does this happen?
  • M.U.L.E. – How many games did they miss from this era?  Still fun to play today.

And with that, I’m sure I’ve missed some games.  What would you add?  Hate any of my choices?

Console Games

Kinect Star Wars Suggestions

Kinect Star Wars was just released for the XBox360, and has drawn quite a bit of attention.  Not all of it was good, as there was quite a bit of negative buzz yesterday for the Han Solo ‘dance party’ song “I’m Han Solo”.  Complete with dancing Han rising up out of the carbonite chamber.  A certain portion of gamers showed a bit of interest in slave bikini Leia dancing, however.  There are other mini-games as well as the full game with a story.  However, I think they’ve missed out on some great ideas for additional content here.  With that in mind, here are my suggestions for Kinect Star Wars 2:

  • Lando’s Mining Empire – If you’ve played any of the huge number of business management games, you know what this is about.  Help Lando by mining Tibanna gas and other minerals, placing them in the refinery, and then delivering them to your customers.  But watch out!  Darth Vader might alter your deal at any time!  Pray he doesn’t alter it any further!
  • Jar-Jar’s Hip-Hop Pose-off – Everyone’s favorite Gungan is here to challenge you to a pose-off!  Bet you didn’t know Gungans invented hip-hop music in a galaxy far, far away!  Match his movements, or he will somehow trip over his own ears and kill an entire regiment of troops.  Not at ALL racially insensitive!
  • Slice the Sith – Sith Lords jump at you – cut them up!  But watch out for Palpatine, he’ll fry you with Force lightning!  I hope your father can save you.  Sure would be nice if your astromech droid had warned you that could happen.
  • Droid Jet Jump – Speaking of Artoo, fly him through several side-scrolling adventures, where it becomes clear how much easier things would’ve been if only the droid remembered he could fly throughout the original trilogy.
  • It’s a Trap! – Uh-oh!  That things operational!  Better help Admiral Ackbar guide his Star Cruisers in close to the Imperial Fleet, but dodge the traps!  Sure could use an eight year old blundering his way through the entire enemy fleet and defeating them by accident.  Haha, that never happens though!

I’m just going to sit over here and wait for Lucasarts to contact me.  I’m a born game developer!

Featured Movies

Star Wars Movie Viewing Order – UPDATE

I ran this poll a long time ago, but I read an article the other day about viewing the Star Wars movies in a completely different order that has completely changed my thoughts on how to watch Star Wars.  It’s called the Machete order.  You start with A New Hope, then Empire with it’s gnarly cliffhanger/reveal…and then shows you how young Anakin Skywalker’s slide towards the Dark Side of the Force, but without most of Jar-Jar and the creepy “I knew you as a child now I’m making babies with you” aspect of the Anakin/Padme relationship.  It actually IMPROVES the Palpatine being Sidious reveal along with it.  It’s honestly pretty brilliant, and I think it’s what I’m going to do for my kids.  Thomas has seen bits and pieces but Mattie will be unspoiled.

What order will you show the Star Wars movies to your kids?

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Gadgets Sci/Tech

Friday Finds – Diamond Weevils, Firefly and the Commodore 64

The holiday lull is over, I’ve actually got a few posts to put in here, woohoo!

And now, the links:

The Diamond Weevil (doesn’t THAT sound like a really lame Clan in the MechWarrior universe) looks really cool, for, you know, a weevil.

Circuits that can self-heal when cracked with liquid metal.  We truly live in the future.

The Commodore 64 turns 30, I loved this machine and spent so many of my young life hacking at programming, playing early Microprose games, and it’s been a system I’ve revisited via emulation ever since.

The BBC’s list of 100 things we didn’t know last year.  Somewhat lame this year, but there are a few good ones.  My highlights:

2. Bald people grow the wrong type of hair – so fine it’s invisible to the naked eye.
More details

Riiiight, Dad, just keep telling yourself that.

29. Dogs watch hownice people are to others to work out whom to approach to beg for food.  More details (Daily Mail)

Cats, of course, simply smother that person in their sleep and take the food.

43. The odds ofscoring two hole-in-ones in the same round of golf are 67 million-to-one.  More details

The odds of a hack golfer claiming to have done it (or seen it done) are two to one.

97. Alcohol tastes sweeter when loud music is playing.
More details (Daily Mail)

Maybe that’s why I don’t like most booze, the music isn’t loud enough.

This is really cool – a ‘Lost World’ discovered under an Antarctic shelf.

And finally, the dead Firefly video game could see new life.  They have the code, but they need permisstion to play in the ‘verse.

Wait, one more thing: is my Jedi Knight II server.  Had to patch it up to 1.04 due to crashes on Vista.  BRING IT.

Featured Movies Sci/Tech Software

Friday Finds – LOTR and Star Wars

Hey, it’s been a while.  Vacations, children, car shopping, attending Sabres games in the press box, all take a toll on my time.  Onto the posts!

Bah, I’ll be impressed when the docking bay is built into a giant Death Star model.

100 facts about the Lord of the Rings movies, many of which you might know if you watched the movies with the DVD commentary on.  Neat for those of us who haven’t.

I just love glaciers, and science.

The Math that Saved Apollo 13 – this is cool.  I had JUST watched a show about Apollo 13 where you saw Lovell with this very manual.

Mimicking nature, always a solid option when you have a technical challenge like this.  These ‘kelp forest’ underwater power generators could possibly be adapter to work almost anywhere.

Really does sort of resemble the Silver Surfer.  It’s a comet, though.

PC Games

Catching Up – TIE Fighter

The Best Star Wars game poll has shown me that many of you think TIE Fighter is the best of the best.  In a fit of serendipity, my son discovered a copy of TIE Fighter I had bought at some point in the past.  I think I paid a guy who was ‘simplifying’ his life $5 for a couple of games he was no longer playing (Others include Command and Conquer: Red Alert and a legit copy of Unreal Tournament).  I figured, this must be a sign that I need to finally get on the horse and play the darn thing.  I will put my thoughts here afterwards.

Featured Life Movies Sci/Tech

Friday Finds – Downy Canadian Dinosaurs and Colliding Galaxies

Hey everybody, hope you had a fun week.  Here’s the posts from this week:

Here are the links you may like: 

Scientists found dinosaur feathers from 70 million years ago in a chunk of amber in Canada.  Of course dinosaurs in Canada had feathers, have you been there in the winter?

Galactic collisions caused our galaxy to have spiral arms.  And the rogue galaxy is coming back for us again!  We’d better train up some oilmen to launch into space and take it out, in 10 million years or so.

An alternate theory on how cancer cells get energy could change the way we fight them.  It requires more study but this is fascinating stuff.

And now, for something completely different.  If you’ve ever had to cook corn on the cob for a party or simply a large family, it was probably a pain to either keep a couple of large pots boiling.  So use your cooler instead.

Finally, if you’ve got a LEGO fan who loves Star Wars, and honestly most of them do, the LEGO Star Wars Hoth/Wampa playset is on sale.

Gadgets Life Movies Sci/Tech

Friday Finds – Robot Octopi and Arctic Airships

A light week this week, due to the holidays and not being home much.

But that does leave plenty of room for links!

Star Wars:  Heir to the Empire 20th Anniversary Edition, a fine gift for the SW geek in your family.

A horribly incomplete list of best and worst movie adaptations.  Check the comments for some better choices, and comment here if you have other suggestions.

Happy Birthday Star Trek.

Dolphins may ‘talk’ similar to humans.  Re-analysis of data gathered in the 70s, really cool stuff they can do now.

Diamond Light Source wants your short stories or flash fiction involving their particle accelerator.  I know there are some aspiring (and successful) writers who read, might be fun.

I just love airships, as anyone where I work can tell you, and using them to deliver stuff to the North Pole would be super cool.

Electromagnetic induced transparency, which has to give me my transparent aluminum, right?

 Quite the handshake, there.  Go ahead with your Robot Overlords jokes, if you must.


Featured Media Movies Sci/Tech

Friday Finds – Psychic Benefits and the Silmarillion

Hey all, hope you had a good week.  I’ll be out of the loop a bit this weekend, though I might actually be able to do my fantasy football draft (wooo!).  Here are last week’s posts:

And now for the links:

A third TRON movie is in the works.  It’s unclear how sure this is at this point, but I very much enjoyed Legacy, so another movie would be welcome.

A great breakdown of the problems of scale for the Defiant in Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and other properties.  Also a good illustration of why JMS never wanted to quote sizes and speeds for the ships in B5.

Nerdier shirts may not exist.  Not that you’d wear, anyway.

There’s a fascinating article at Grantland by author Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers, The Tipping Point) about the ‘psychic benefits’ of owning a sports team.  Touches on the Red Sox, Snyder’s Redskins, and the NBA lockout.  For Buffalonians, it can provide a bit of insight into the mind of Terry Pegula.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, in Lego form.  Wow.

Getting closer to blasting pirates with lasers.

Dork Tower on George Lucas.  I’m a bit ashamed I didn’t think of this.

Via Geeks of Doom, check out this hand-illuminated version of Tolkien’s Silmarillion.  There is a picture below, but click through to the second link to see more.  It’s stunning.


George Lucas is Murdering Star Wars

I have to get this out.  I gave Lucas the benefit of the doubt when the new trilogy came out.  I went and saw the first two in the theaters, thinking “they can’t be as bad as people say”.  They were, pretty much, especially Phantom Menace.  I shrugged when he added a CGI Jabba scene to Star Wars, groaned and rolled my eyes when he had Greedo shoot first, gritted my teeth when he changed the end of Return of the Jedi to have the Hayden Christensen version of Anakin appear in ghostly form, but the man must be stopped.  You’ve probably heard by now of some of the further changes that are supposedly going in on the new Star Wars blu-rays that are forthcoming.  If not, check here and here

I don’t understand why Lucas can’t just release the damn movies on Blu-Ray and sit back and rake in the cash.  Each individual change is minor, but the problem is few to none of them make the movies BETTER.  In 15 years, the original trilogy is going to be completely remade, inch by inch, as GL keeps mucking with it.  All the Ewoks will be played by Doug Jones and Andy Serkis in motion capture suits, and will fly around the forest like they’re in a Hong Kong wire-fu movie.  All the droids will be CGI, and there will be a certain floppy eared Gungan added to the shuttle that Han and Luke fly to Endor.  “Ooooh Han, meesa know da code to give da bad Empire man!”  YOU KNOW HE’S THOUGHT OF IT.  Doesn’t he have any NEW ideas he’d like to make into a movie?  Most filmmakers do that, you know, even if they try to revisit the well of the best success multiple times, they do move on and make something else.  Either that, or Lucas needs a hobby, like hang-gliding, or ending world hunger.

Featured Movies PC Games Sci/Tech

Friday Finds – Alligator Biodiesel and a Supernova

Missed a week due to unforseen circumstances, but here are the most recent posts:

I also missed an Old Game Tuesday, so as a bonus, check out Carrier Command:  Gaea Mission, a successor to the Carrier Command game on Amiga.

Here are the links you may find interesting this week:

First, fill your tank with biodiesel made from alligator fat.  The commenter who wants to restyle MPG as Miles Per Gator is winning at life.

Why east coast earthquakes are different from west coast ‘quakes.  Because the east is hard, yo.

Teach your kids about ancient weapons of war, while annoying your cats.

A possible new Star Trek TV series?

Han Solo in carbonite, ice cube version.  Put Captain Solo in the cargo hold.

A touch more information on Brave, from Pixar.

Finally, astronomers are excited about a quite-visible supernova in the M101 galaxy.  Cool.

Featured Movies

Movies to Introduce Your Kids to Science Fiction

Giant Freakin Robot has a list of 15 movies (or movie series) to use to introduce your kids to the Science Fiction genre.  I agree with many of the movies here, though you may want to pre-screen some of them as it’s been pointed out that Ghostbusters has a bit of salty language and implied ‘ghostly fellatio’, the latter I don’t even remember.  Anyway, my favorites from the list, and a few more suggestions:

1.  The Iron Giant – If you liked The Incredibles, check out Brad Bird’s first feature, The Iron Giant.  A giant robot crash lands on late 1950s Earth, and is befriended by a kid who tries to keep him secret from the government – and his mom.  If it sounds like E.T. to you (another movie on their list), note that the story this is based on dates to 1968.  It’s a shift from the Disney films of the era, with no musical numbers and no sidekicks.  The Iron Giant provides a look into the Cold War mentality, and might prompt some interesting discussions with older kids.  A great change of pace from Disney classics your kids are probably wearing out.

2.  Meet The Robinsons – A loose adaptation of William Joyce’s “A Day with Wilbur Robinson“, Meet The Robinsons follows a nerdy orphan named Lewis on an adventure through time where he finds a family and gains confidence in himself.  One of several Disney productions that went through significant changes after John Lasseter took over as head of Disney’s animation department.  There is a lot of heart in this movie, great action, and cool 50’s inspired ‘futuristic’ designs.

3.  Star Wars (The Original Trilogy) – Some smart-ass in the comments of the original article decries the author denigrating the new trilogy.  Seriously, dude, did you see The Phantom Menace?  Anyway, I don’t need to explain or introduce these to you, as it is extremely rare to meet someone who is not familar with these movies.  Just be prepared to see your kids making lightsaber noises while waving sticks around after watching.

4.  Titan AE – The movie that ‘killed’ Fox’s animation studio, is actually quite a good movie.  Odd soundtrack, but it has writing from Ben Edlund (of The Tick) and Joss Whedon, and is the last Don Bluth feature.  Solid, classic sci-fi story of the kid with a destiny, peppered with betrayals, redemption, and some good voice actors.  Show your kids this, then show them Firefly in a few years.

5.  WALL-E – Okay, so your kids will probably see this no matter what, but WALL-E can be used effectively as a gateway to other sci-fi materials.  And it’s a genuinely good genre example, animated or not.  Pixar shows their mastery here, making you love a square robot who makes a minimum of noise just as much as you do any of their human characters.  As a plus, it can spawn a discussion of environmental issues if you are so inclined.

6.  Mystery Science Theater 3000:  The Movie – If you don’t know what MST3k is, it will sound really odd, but here goes:  a mad scientist shoots a human into space and forces him to watch bad movies until he finds the one that breaks his mind (at which point he will unleash it on an unsuspecting world and take over).  To cope, Joel (and in this installment, Mike) have robot friends Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo, and they all make jokes and pop-culture observations while the movie is playing, with ‘host segments’ every once in a while that might be a skit playing off the movie, a musical number or who knows what else.  There are better episodes of the TV show, but I was keeping the list to things released in theaters.  “Into the Weeniemobile…Weenie man away!!”  Ahem.  There’s plenty of good jokes here, and if your kids want to see some other goofy black and white sci-fi movies afterwards, so much the better.

7.  Galaxy Quest – It works both as a spoof of and a love letter to Star Trek, Galaxy Quest has quite the cast (Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Sam Rockwell and Tony Shalhoub among others) playing the washed-up, typecast actors of a classic sci-fi show with obvious parallels to Star Trek.  Aliens mistake the show’s broadcasts as historical documents, and gather the crew together to defeat an implacable foe.  Plenty of clever jabs at fanatics, but it works well as a sci-fi story all it’s own.  A fun way to spend an afternoon.

8.  Lilo and Stitch – Yes, another animated movie, but it’s a sci-fi classic as well.  A mad scientist that creates new life, aliens, spaceships, blasters, Men in Black references, all of which is wrapped around the story of a broken family.  Another movie with surprising heart that might sneak a few tears out of you – when your kids aren’t looking, of course.

So that’s what I have.  Are there any other movies you’ve used to get your kids to share your interest in science fiction?  Has it led to them reading more?  Any other movies you’d add to the list?  Let’s hear it!