As a kid reading comics I was mostly into Spider-Man, X-Men, Batman, and Image stuff, but never got into the Avengers other than Iron Man until I was much older. This held especially for Hulk and Thor as characters, which I always had to ask my brother about, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that I was not a huge fan of those movies. Here we are with the God of Thunder’s third movie though, Thor: Ragnarok, which is a huge departure from the first two films with a mostly untested director (in films) and an early reception of high praise from most. I was excited to see it.
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Day 15 | DOOM
I debated about whether this entry should cover the 2016 version of the game with the same name, which I absolutely love and want to get for the Switch, or the original, but needless to say that some things here apply for both. What wins out is the nostalgia I have tied in with that original game. For several weeks after school and all day on Saturdays I used to go spend time at a neighbor’s house while we played DOOM on his computer and read X-Men comics or watched cartoons, taking turns playing—good times. I eventually got my own copy of the game, back when it still came on multiple floppy discs, and that is something I would love to get again for my collection. The game has an amazing soundtrack—whole series really—but I used to blast music while playing it; some heavy stuff though, inspired by the original tunes; a lot of Metallica and Megadeath as I ripped and roared with the chainsaw. It was never really about the violence, but I appreciated the blood and gore, especially the changing face of my character at the bottom as I got hurt. It made the adventure feel more real, a little more epic, and after a while it was a more playful savagery, because the game was just sheer fun. This is the series that taught me to appreciate a well-crafted shotgun. I’ve played almost every sequel, but only beaten a handful of them, and I love the staying power of the first one. I’ve seen this game get so much more attention over the years with mods like Brutal DOOM or re-skins to make 3D versions of other games like Simon’s Destiny keeping the carnage alive.
Day 14 | Mega Man X
I go back and forth a lot on whether this or Mega Man 3 is my favorite in the franchise, but Mega Man X always seems to just edge out at the top. The updated controls, soundtrack, and futuristic aesthetic just fell together so well and makes for a fantastic adventure. The story is easy to follow and shows the true growth of a character, using Zero as the model of what X wants to be on the hero’s journey, and revenge at the end. I’ve read some great essays on this game and enjoyed writing about it numerous times myself. One of my favorite parts is the levels, not only vastly different and enjoyable, but there are reasons to go back through and see how they change after certain bosses are defeated. As a kid, realizing that felt like a big deal and such a nice touch to connect the world together. I never got the hadouken until years later, but I’ve done it multiple times now, and that is so satisfying. The game spawned several good sequels, but this is the best one by far of that series, with a special nod to MMX4. I play this game a ton still, especially blazing through the Mavericks, but the end still provides just enough of a challenge that I feel accomplished every time I beat it. Some of the mini-bosses can also be a pain without a couple of upgrades, but pulling out those clutch victories is the reason I play. This is one of the games I enjoy watching speedruns of and learning new things about, because it feels like a program that means something to me and I want to know it in and out.
I always have trouble picking a game to review for October because the titles I love have been done to death and the more obscure ones can be hard to find information on or are honestly just painful to get through at times. So I make my Patreon subscribers decide for me, but once again they have selected the least scary and horrific title from the list. I thought that, at least, until so many people told me they were aware of this classic but had never actually played it—which is frightening. It’s an interesting little gem that was developed by LucasArts and published by Konami—who apparently got most of the money from its small success—and I’m honestly shocked it is still as fun and frustrating as I remember it.
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Day 13 | Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
I love the whole series, but Symphony of the Night is by far my favorite, with Super Castlevania IV coming in at a close second. They are vastly different though and this one may win for the sheer amount of hours I put into it. When I beat this title the first time, thinking I had done everything right, I felt good about the game, but my mind was blown when a friend at school told me about the upside down castle, Shaft, and how much more of the adventure was left for me. This was another game that I didn’t play my own music over, because the soundtrack to it is sensational and cemented the mood as I hunted Dracula. I liked a ton of the little aspects about it though, not just finding secrets, but things like the fortune telling booth, sitting in it that first time and being stabbed. Little surprises like that. I also realized here how fun it can be sometimes to find the best weapons, toughest armor, and just be completely over powered as I ran through destroying every enemy in my path. When bosses become so simple because you pair the right rod and shield together; it eventually gets old, but not until a lot of fun is had. Alucard is a great character and learning how to use his abilities and get him new gear is rewarding. I also have to smile at the cheesy dialogue and song at the end, everyone knows them and it still makes me laugh.
Day 12 | Super Metroid
I wasn’t very good at the original Metroid game. I kept getting lost and dying alone in dark hallways, and the lack of a map did nothing for my confidence. Playing Super Metroid however at a friend’s house changed all of that. All it took was that opening, going into the dark and abandoned facility, that eerie feeling, and then the attack from Ridley as it stole the last Metroid, who was no longer in captivity. The opening told me it was time to give this series another shot and I didn’t waste much time acquiring my own copy. This is a fun title that has some amazing gameplay and stellar boss fights, but the crux of the adventure to me was exploration, navigating with the map and backtracking to use new items and upgrades. Setting off the super bomb to shatter that glass tube felt like a huge discovery, since I did it on a whim—such an amazing feeling. This is also the game that made me realize that having to escape the exploding facility after beating the final boss was a trope—but it got me, because I had put the controller down in celebration after destroying Mother Brain once again; may that Metroid who sacrificed itself to give me a rainbow laser rest in peace. The atmosphere is fantastic though, feeling isolated, surrounded, outnumbered, as well as having a soundtrack that poured out that dark and foreboding mood. It is criminal that I haven’t played this or Prime in a long time, but I have such great memories of conquering Zebes as well as just standing out near Samus’ ship in the storm.
Day 11 | Ninja Gaiden
What a classic game that lives up to the example of ‘NES hard,’ but certainly not impossible. I never buy a game solely based off of its difficulty level or because it defines the new kind of masochism, but now and again I find something that feels like that perfect level of challenging to be fun and completely rewarding. Ninja Gaiden may be the best example of that for me though, as when I play the game regularly it becomes almost calming to go through the first few levels and my persistency skyrockets. I appreciate how much I used to fear these bosses until someone pointed something out or I discovered their patterns, making them pushovers. The climbing was a bit tough to master at first, learning how to cling the walls and move upwards, but it is second nature now. As a kid, I didn’t quite understand the power-ups or how useful they could be, and even now I feel like I didn’t use them enough, but the first time I saw Ryu surrounded by a wheel of fire felt so amazing. The ‘cutscenes,’ or moving images really, seemed incredible at the time, and I wanted to know more about the story. It seemed so cool to find out about the protagonist’s father, even though it is a bit cliché. The soundtrack is great, and one of the many I’ll listen to outside of the game—it was even my ringtone at one point. I also remember playing the arcade game at the skating rink and the brutality of the death scene if players wouldn’t pop another quarter in.