Ranking the Pixar Films

Buzz and Woody

Twenty years ago, Pixar Animation Studios released Toy Story, the world’s first full-length computer animated film. Though computer animated movies are a very common occurrence these days, Pixar remains at the peak of the medium due to the studio’s nearly unrivaled knack for creating original stories, memorable characters, and emotional depth.

To celebrate twenty years of Pixar films, and the release of their newest feature, The Good Dinosaur, I decided to compile a list of Pixar’s feature-length library. This was certainly not an easy list to make, seeing as the majority of Pixar’s films range from great to masterpiece. But I decided to have a go at it anyway.

The following list contains all fifteen of Pixar’s currently released features (I decided to make this list before The Good Dinosaur’s release, because who knows how long it might take for me to determine where it would rank among the others). The films are mostly ranked from least to greatest, but understand the quality of most of these films is so great that many of them are interchangeable. So when the day comes that I inevitably revise this list, please don’t think less of me if many of the films end up switching places.

I hope to one day get around to giving each of these films a proper review. But for now, enjoy them in list form.

So without further ado, let me give this my best shot. The fifteen feature films of Pixar, from least to greatest (more or less).

*Some spoilers follow!*

Continue reading “Ranking the Pixar Films”

Top 5 Donkey Kong Country Animal Buddies

Donkey Kong Country 2 turns twenty years old this month (the original DKC has its twenty-first anniversary as well). As part of my celebration of all things DKC to commemorate this milestone year for the series, here is a top five list of the best “Animal Buddies” who have appeared in the series!

The Animal Buddies, as any DKC fan knows, are the ridable (and sometimes unridable) animals that aid DK, Diddy, and their simian friends on their adventures by providing their own sets of abilities into the mix. Think Yoshi, but with Donkey Kong instead.

The following top five are ranked from least to greatest based on their presence in the series, their general usefulness, what they bring to the gameplay, and simply how awesome they are. Continue reading “Top 5 Donkey Kong Country Animal Buddies”

Top 10 Wii U Games (So Far)

Wii U

The Wii U is a devastatingly underrated system. It’s ousted the GameCube as Nintendo’s least-selling home console of all time. Because of that, gamers all over the internet, true to their  cynical nature, see that as a reflection of the quality of the system itself (of course, they also dismissed the original Wii because it sold well, so go figure). But despite being the butt of jokes on the internet and its less-than desirable sales figures, the Wii U actually boasts a really impressive library of games.

Sure, Nintendo really needed to emphasize the console over the controller in its early marketing strategies, the Gamepad needed to be used more effectively in more games, and one can’t help but think that simply naming the console “Wii 2” could have helped boost sales by itself (because seriously, what does the “U” mean?). Despite this questionable decision-making and marketing, the Wii U has ultimately proven to be a terrific console where it counts, and that’s the games.

Yes, the Wii U had a slow first few months, but once it started picking up steam around mid-2013 it’s released some of the best games in recent years. Arguably the best part is that you can’t play them anywhere else. Though console exclusives are becoming rarer on competing hardware, they often prove to be the more definitive titles of their generations, and it’s an area in which Nintendo always excels.

Though the Wii U still has some big games on the horizon (including a new Star Fox and The Legend of Zelda), I think it’s safe to say that rumblings of Nintendo’s next console, codenamed “NX,” means that its days as a priority for Nintendo are slowing down. Sure, Nintendo has stated that they’ll still support the Wii U even after NX launches, but I think the Wii U’s underwhelming sales will make it a short-term continued support (Wii U might have a good few months and a couple of big games after NX, but I can’t imagine it would go much farther). I feel now is a good time to reflect on the many great games the Wii U has provided over the past three years, even if I may have to make a revised edition after the last waves of big games hit the console in the year ahead.

Despite Nintendo being backed into a wall in regards to the Wii U, or perhaps because of it, Nintendo has ended up creating some of the greatest lineups of games in their history for the console. It’s given us the most balanced Mario Kart, the most intricate Smash Bros. and the best version of the best 3D Zelda yet made. But which Wii U games are the best?

The following is my list of the top 10 greatest Wii U games. The ten Wii U titles that are the most fun. The 10 most definitive. The 10 games that all those people who still refuse to get a Wii U are missing out on the most. Seriously people, stop using the whole “waiting for Zelda” excuse as a crutch. Nintendo consoles are more than just a Zelda title.

One final note, I have decided not to include The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD in this countdown. Despite being one of my favorite video games, it would feel kind of cheap to list a remake here with all the original Wii U titles, even if Wind Waker HD has some of the best uses of the Gamepad.

So without further ado, the top 10 Wii U games! But first, some runners-up! Continue reading “Top 10 Wii U Games (So Far)”

Top 5 Video Game Witches

Happy Halloween everybody! I’ve been quietly celebrating this awesome holiday through my recent string of Castlevania reviews, but I also thought I’d whip up something a little more unique on the day of Halloween itself. So here it is, a list of the top five witches in video games!

I don’t want to hear anyone say I forgot some character or failed to mention so and so. This list is narrowed down to five, after all, and it’s just based on my opinion. This is a pretty different list than usual anyway. I could always make revised editions, if that suits your fancy.

Also keep in mind that these characters have to be primarily identified as witches. No mages, sages, wizards and shamans allowed.

So without further ado, grab a witch’s brew, or I’ll get you my pretties, and your little dogs too! Or, you know, here are the top five video game witches.

*Minor spoilers follow!* Continue reading “Top 5 Video Game Witches”

Top 10 Best “Top 10 Best Video Games of All Time” Lists (of All Time)

Edge

Recently, Edge Magazine did another one of its “Top 100 Video Games of All Time” lists. I believe it was the fourth such list the magazine has done in its twenty-two year history…and also their most disappointing.

I understand that this list was favoring the “most fun games to play today” over historical significance, but even still, the top 100 seems to be more of a “best games from the last couple of years” list – with a handful of classics thrown in to look more knowledgeable – than one that showcases the “modern classics” that it claims itself to be.

One need not look further than the top 10 alone to get an idea of the overall list.

10 – Minecraft
9 – Resident Evil 4
8 – Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
7 – Super Mario Galaxy 2
6 – Tetris
5 – Half-Life 2
4 – Bloodborne
3 – The Last of Us
2 – GTA V
1 – Dark Souls

All ten would admittedly be considered solid entries to most people, and while I may not quite hold Dark Souls as the greatest video game ever made, I don’t have a particular gripe with it claiming the top spot. But seeing as the only game in the top five that was released before 2011 is Half-Life 2, and that Tetris is the only 2D title in the top 10, it makes it a little difficult to appreciate this list from an “all time” perspective.

I know, people would use the whole “it’s all just opinions” argument, but considering that my opinion of their opinion is also an opinion, that’s not much of an argument. If this list represented the opinion of a sole individual, there wouldn’t be much, if anything, I could say about it. But when you have a group of professionals making any kind of “definitive” list of a best of anything, there should be some sense of timelessness about it, otherwise it just feels like a spur of the moment thing.

This list got me to thinking of many of the others I’ve seen over the years, and which ones I think hold up over which ones don’t. So I decided to create something of a self-referential top 10 list of the best top 10 best video games ever…lists.

The criteria for this list involves four rules.

1: The overall consensus of quality or historical importance (depending on what the list was aiming for) of the games listed. So lists that may have favored games that were hot when the list was made, but have fallen out of favor since, aren’t here.

2: The lists involved have to show a sense of variety, but not at the expense of quality titles. So any lists that follow a “one game per franchise” rule aren’t here, since they basically state that no matter how good certain sequels might be, they are left out in favor of a different title that might not be as good for the sake of variety. But that method, by nature, negates the “best of all time” aspect, and is more of a list of games acknowledged as great, as opposed to best.

3: These are all lists compiled by professional magazines, websites, and other such gaming media, created by their editors and staff, as opposed to fan-voted lists or individual people’s personal lists of favorites (which, once again, you can’t really argue with).

4: These top 10s are taken from lists of top 100, 200, and other such numbered lists. But to avoid needlessly driving myself mad, I’m only ranking them based on their top 10. That’s what most people care about, anyway.

Also, keep in mind that I am a sole individual creating this list in question, but I tried my best to not simply pick lists that cater to my personal tastes (though some represented games certainly do). Perhaps some personal bias did sneak in here and there, but I actively tried to avoid making this simply a list of lists that agree with me. This list doesn’t reflect my personal favorites, but I do plan on making my own such list somewhere in the not-too-distant future.

So without further rambling, here are the Top 10 Best Top 10 Best Video Games of All Time Lists of All Time!

Top 10 Bowser Battles

Bowser

There is no foe in all of gaming as persistent as Bowser. Since his debut in 1985, the King Koopa has dedicated his life to defeating Mario, kidnapping Princess Peach, and causing all around mayhem in the Mushroom Kingdom.

Though Mario has bested him countless times over the past 30 years, Bowser just keeps bouncing back. But with so many memorable encounters against the King Koopa, which ones stand out as the best? The following is my list of the top 10 battles against Bowser from the Mario series. Keep in mind that I’m just sticking with the Bowser fights from the primary platformers in the series. So even though that final battle in Paper Mario was pretty awesome, it won’t be here.

Also note that this isn’t a list of “hardest” Bowser battles. Too often these days do gamers simply think a difficult boss automatically equates to good and an easy boss is automatically bad. This list is based on how creative the boss fights were, the tension they create, and how definitive they are for their respective games. Difficulty is a secondary thing here.

So without further ado, the top 10 Bowser battles! Continue reading “Top 10 Bowser Battles”

Top 10 Video Game Duos

Yooka-Laylee

Yooka-Laylee, the Kickstarter darling from Playtonic Games, has already gained an impressive following for its ambitions to revive the 3D platforming genre of the N64 days. It’s also aiming to resurrect the old video game tradition of having two heroes share the spotlight. This got me thinking of some of the other great video game duos over the years, so I decided to compile a list of the top 10 twosomes in gaming.

The only real qualification for this list was that the two characters have to share in their adventures together. They can be two equal heroes or a hero/sidekick combo, but they have to both brave their adventures on a somewhat even level. Solid Snake and Otacon won’t be here, for example, because while Otacon may help Snake in some valuable ways, it’s usually from the sidelines.

Also, as much as I already love them, Yooka and Laylee won’t be here for the obvious reason that their game isn’t anywhere near release. Only established games for now.

Let’s get to it then. Continue reading “Top 10 Video Game Duos”

Top 5 Nintendo Games That Should be Universal Rides

In case you haven’t heard, Nintendo has struck a deal with Universal Studios to add Nintendo-themed attractions to Universal’s theme parks. Although there’s no word yet on what lies in store for these attractions, the seemingly limitless potential of the concept should grab any longtime gamer’s attention. It seems like everyone has their own ideas of what Nintendo games would make the best rides, and I am no different. Here are the top 5 Nintendo based rides I’d like to see.

 

5: The Legend of Zelda: The Ride

Wind Waker

Truth be told, I had trouble thinking what kind of ride Zelda could be. The puzzle-solving, dungeon-crawling gameplay wouldn’t really make for a fast-paced ride (maybe another type of attraction, but not a ride).

But then it hit me, what about a water ride? Something akin to Splash Mountain or Jurassic Park: The Ride. You could be placed in a boat and traveling through Hyrule, complete with recreated scenes and characters from the games. You would start in a forest area (naturally), then move on to see some Zoras, maybe a Goron or two, following Link on his journey throughout. It would all culminate with one final drop just as Ganondorf is about to strike!

If I had things my way, it would be Wind Waker themed. Because Wind Waker makes everything better. But any Zelda ride will do.

4: Star Fox: The Ride

Do a Barrel Roll

A Star Fox motion simulator in the vein of Star Tours just makes perfect sense! The line could be decked out to look like you’re joining the ranks of General Pepper’s army, complete with expository videos detailing the plot of the ride (Andross would probably be involved).

Once the ride starts you and your fellow riders would join Star Fox and company on one of their missions. You’d receive messages from the Star Fox team and even help them in battle. Naturally, simulated barrel rolls are a must!

3: Super Mario Galaxy: The Ride

Super Mario Galaxy

Seriously, this one should be a given! Imagine Space Mountain, but with Mario. Boom! Perfection.

A dark, indoor roller coaster with colorful Mario Galaxy elements strewn about. C’mon, it speaks for itself!

2: Mario Kart: The Ride

Mario Kart 8

This is probably the most obvious choice of the bunch. How can there not be a Mario Kart ride? It could combine go karting with bumper cars. Unfortunately, it’s hard to imagine the power-ups being implemented (getting smacked with a Koopa shell could be a lawsuit in the making), but otherwise Mario Kart could make a great transition to a theme park ride.

It could work like the Test Track ride at Epcot, with riders designing their own vehicles while in line. It could even have multiple tracks (Rainbow Road)! Mario Kart just has so many possibilities as a theme park ride.

1: Donkey Kong Country: The Ride

DKC

A Donkey Kong Country mine cart roller coaster ride would pretty much be the greatest thing ever. For safety reasons they may have to omit the intricate jumping, but it’s a small price to pay. Just imagine riding in a mine cart while that amazing Donkey Kong Country music drowns out your screams of excitement. The entire ride would be adorned with Donkey Kong Country aesthetics (just think of the atmosphere!), and you could catch a glimpse of DK and Diddy riding a mine cart of their own every here and there. Naturally, Cranky Kong would host the safety instructions videos, belittling the guests and shaming the ride itself in typical Cranky Kong fashion.

If those mine cart levels don’t scream “make this a roller coaster” then I don’t know what does.

There’s so much potential to be had with Nintendo and Universal Studios. There are a number of other games I’d like to see translated to theme park attractions, and I feel bad for not listing them. Let’s just hope Nintendo and Universal make the most of this deal. It could be a gold mine.

Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies

With Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron upon us – bringing an end to “Phase Two” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the process – I figured now is a good time to compile a top ten list of the currently released movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here’s my ranking of the ten movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s phases one and two from least to greatest. Here they are.

*Caution: Some spoilers ahead!* Continue reading “Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies”

Ranking the Disney Renaissance Films

Now that I’ve reviewed all ten films from the Disney Renaissance, what more logical way to follow it up than by ranking them all in a top 10 list? If you’ve read my reviews for the ten films, you may already know where each one ranks based on their numerical score . If you haven’t read them, I’ve included links to said reviews within each entry, so you can get a more in-depth idea of my opinion of them.

Now, let’s roll back the clock to the 1990s. Here are the 10 Disney Renaissance films, ranked from least to greatest.

 

10: The Rescuers Down Under

Rescuers Down Under

While The Rescuers Down Under holds the distinction of being Disney’s first ‘true’ sequel, it also holds the dubious honor of being the weakest movie of the Disney Renaissance. The animation is great, but the story has a notable lack of direction, with the returning characters from The Rescuers feeling shoehorned into an unrelated story. Although there is some fun to be had, The Rescuers Down Under ultimately falls flat as both a sequel and as its own movie, as neither of its two halves can find unity. Read the full review.

9: Pocahontas

Pocahontas

Pocahontas boasts beautiful animation and a great soundtrack, and even some fun characters (that Wiggins!). But Pocahontas and John Smith can be a little on the bland side, the villain never lives up to his potential, and some story elements just feel a little clunky. Pocahontas is a better movie than it’s often made out to be, but it still has some notable flaws that prevent it from living up to the majority of Disney films from its time. Read the full review.

8: Aladdin

Aladdin

Most Disney fans would be ready to form a lynch mob and lay siege to my castle for only ranking Aladdin at number 8.

Aladdin is a fun movie, no doubt. But the majority of its characters and its story are a bit on the generic side. Thankfully, Robin Williams’ iconic Genie is one of the best of all Disney characters, and he, along with the great soundtrack, help liven things up. I might not put Aladdin on the same pedestal as most, but it would be impossible to not be delighted every time that Genie is on screen. Read the full review.

7: The Lion King

The Lion King

If putting Aladdin relatively low on this list would make me a target for mobs of Disney fans, than Lion King’s placement would turn things into a full-on townspeople versus Frankenstein monster ordeal.

The Lion King is one of Disney’s most beloved films, and one of the most popular animated movies of all time. But while The Lion King succeeds in a number of areas – including a great story and some memorable characters – it falls short in others. Some of the comedic characters clash with the movie’s otherwise serious tone, and the songs are a bit inconsistent, and don’t live up to some of the other soundtracks of the Disney Renaissance. A really good movie, but it’s not quite the king. Read the full review.

6: Hercules

Hercules

Hercules is one of the more underappreciated films from the Disney Renaissance era. It produces laugh-a-minute gags and combines them with colorful animation and a pretty good soundtrack. Best of all is its villain. Hades is one of Disney’s best bad guys, as he steals every scene he’s in and runs away with it. It is admittedly a bit formulaic, but Hercules was one of the most fun Disney movies of its time. Read the full review.

5: Tarzan

Tarzan

Another underrated gem, Tarzan ended the Disney Renaissance on a high note. Tarzan boasts exquisite animation that blended hand-drawn and digital visuals in groundbreaking ways. It also features strong characters and emotional moments. If it weren’t for the lackluster comic relief and inconsistencies in its songs, it might rank even higher. Read the full review.

4: The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid is the film that launched Disney’s successful run known as the Disney Renaissance. That already gives it some brownie points. But the best part is that it remains one of Disney’s most entertaining movies even today. The animation is lovely, and the soundtrack is one of Disney’s best. Aside from Prince Eric being an incredibly bland character that undermines the whole love story at the center of the film, The Little Mermaid tells a charming tale and features Disney’s first truly memorable heroine with Ariel, and one of their best villains with Ursula. Read the full review.

3: Mulan

Mulan

Mulan has never been as renowned as the likes of The Lion King or The Little Mermaid, but it was one of the brightest stars of the Disney Renaissance. Mulan features strong storytelling, some good song work, great action sequences, and a unique and vibrant visual style. Best of all is Mulan herself, one of Disney’s best characters, and their strongest female lead until Frozen introduced us to Anna and Elsa. The only downside is the so-so villain. But Mulan remains one of Disney’s better films, carried by one of its strongest characters. Read the full review.

2: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Hunchback of Notre Dame

Yet another Disney movie that doesn’t get the credit it deserves, The Hunchback of Notre Dame was divisive in its day for its mature themes and dark subject matter. But those aspects are the very things that make The Hunchback of Notre Dame such an unique entry in the Disney canon. It boasts great animation and some of Disney’s most powerful songs. It also claims more fleshed out characters than most Disney fair, including one of the studio’s most sympathetic heroes in Quasimodo, and undoubtedly its darkest villain in Claude Frollo. Read the full review

1: Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast.

Few Disney films are as iconic as Beauty and the Beast, and it’s with good reason. Few Disney films are as good as Beauty and the Beast.

Beauty and the Beast remains a magical film, with a romantic, heartwarming story, beautiful animation, an absolutely stunning soundtrack, and one of Disney’s most memorable casts of characters. From Belle and the Beast to Lumiere and Cogsworth to Gaston and LeFou, Beauty and the Beast features a strong cast of characters so charming that they are synonymous with the Disney brand itself. It’s everything Disney does, done right. Read the full review.