Friday, May 21

Lost Friday - "What They Died For."

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The penultimate Lost Friday is upon us. The end is near.

You know, for a guy that has devoted the last six years of his life to a television show, you’d think that I’d be heartbroken about Lost coming to an end. You’d think that for the weeks and months to follow, I’d brokenly stumble through life alone and afraid, like a mother duck that just watched all 15 of her babies fall through the sewer grate one at a time. Truth is, I already do that, and truthier still, I’m more than happy to see Lost go.

I’m not sad, depressed, bummed or bittersweet. I’m excited and thrilled to know that one of my favorite TV shows of all-time is getting the proper sendoff that it deserves. I’m going to have a barbecue, drink about eleventy-thousand bottles of Miller High Life and enjoy the best-written and most engaging TV drama in history, because hey, that’s what we all deserve to do. At the very least, we owe it to ourselves for sticking it out to the very end (ratings have been as high as 20 million in Season One, and as low at 7 million in Season Six).

We’re not going to get every question answered. Probably not even a quarter of them. Furthermore, a lot of ‘questions’ have already been answered in some sort of roundabout way, and that’s as good as it’s going to get. I’ve accepted this. After 120 episodes of whispers and mysteries, expecting the writers to break their time-tested storytelling formula to merely put the fans at ease is a cop out. The feeling of confusion is the state that we’re supposed to be in when we watch Lost.

I’ve never, not once, watched an episode and walked away feeling as if I totally understood. And in this day and age of freeze-framing, online discussion and merciless fanboy dissection, that is a nearly impossible feat to achieve. What’s more, they took all of that confusion, all of that mystery and frustration, and somehow turned it into the most fun, worthwhile and philosophically deep series we’ve ever seen.

The secret to Lost isn’t the writers and producers. It’s not the beautiful Island location, music and cinematography. The money spent on the most expensive (and greatest) Pilot episode in Television history. It’s not the twisted, theme-driven plotline of redemption, faith and free will. It’s not the humor, violence, double-crossing, sex or explosions. Much like what Jacob has always known, the secret to the Island (and the show) is the cast of characters that have been invited; the cast of characters we’ve watched for so long now. A cast unlike any other; a deep, rich, diverse crew of established and unknown actors and actresses, forming a seamless, interwoven bond between anything and everything thrown at them.

The writers did such a good job with character development, that each and every character on Lost could have gotten their own personal TV series, and it would have been interesting and watchable. And we’re talking dozens of characters, here. However, none of that would have meant anything had we not cared about these people to begin with. What would Lost have been like had Josh Holloway not played Sawyer? Michael Emerson as Ben? Terry O’Quinn as Locke?

Creating a character in a Writer’s Room is one thing, but these people brought these folks to life in a way that’s absolutely admirable in retrospect, and I’m presuming that a huge amount of fame, wealth and work is lined up for each and every member of the cast now that Lost is no longer their 9-to-5 (you’re telling me that you wouldn’t watch a romantic comedy starring Josh Holloway and Evangeline Lilly?). Don’t worry about never seeing these people again, because for a lot of them, their careers are just beginning.

Lost can be watched and enjoyed on multiple levels. It can be dissected on a base, character level. A mythological level. Even a morality, theme-based level. You can watch it because it brings to light a number of religious and spiritual theories that no other television show had the intelligence to make interesting. Also you can watch it merely because you think that Yunjin Kim is adorable. Anything you could possibly want is there for the taking in some way.

As Jacob said, everyone is flawed. The heroes are anti-heroes. The villains force you to feel sympathetic for them. Benjamin Linus may go down in TV history as the most evil, manipulative psychopath of all-time, yet I’m still rooting for him to have a happy ending, as I find myself pitying him and his circumstances every other week. That’s beautiful. That’s just like real life.

On Sunday, we’re going to sit in front of our televisions and watch a massive Lost retrospective from 6-8pm Central. There, they will go over all of the talking points I mentioned, along with all the reasons why the show has changed the very landscape of modern entertainment (their mobisodes and alternate-reality games made the Internet explode and allowed for constant theorization and interaction, a platform that will probably become the norm within the next decade). As we watch, we may feel a certain sense of pride. A sense that maybe, we as fans had a little something to do with its success. A sense that we’ve all been in this together from Day One, and now, we’re all finally getting to experience what we’ve been waiting for as a single unit.

Then, from 8-10:30pm Central, we’re going to watch the feature film-length series finale. Not one, not two, but two-and-a-half hours of Lost, culminating with the final curtain at 11pm Central, as the cast and crew show up on Jimmy Kimmel Live to bask in their job well done (and show alternate endings, which is a can’t miss).

Then, well…that’s it. It’s over. It’s finally over.

You know, for a guy that has devoted the last six years of his life to a television show, you’d think that I’d be heartbroken about Lost coming to an end. However, I couldn’t be more excited. When I started the CDP in 2004, Lost didn’t even exist as a television show, so how was I to know that in addition to my personal essays, I’d go on to write thousands of pages of material about it? Actually earn fans and readers because of it? It’s been good to me in many ways, and I’m more than ready for The End.

So, with that in mind, here’s your second-to-last Lost Friday ever. Please enjoy.

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"Well, here you go, Ana Lucia. $125,000 to never show up on this show ever again."

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No less than five minutes into her stay, Claire is already walking around the house naked.

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"Texting while driving! Texting while driving! Citizen's arrest!"

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"I don't know how to say this, but...we're out of toast. I'm so sorry."

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"I'm drunk! Let's play darts!"

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Matthew Fox, a man with thousands of hours of television and film experience, looks directly into the camera, instantly destroying suspension of disbelief and causing seven million viewers to shit themselves in unison.

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No! This is such a shame...that he couldn't slit her throat twice.

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"Ben, did I ever tell you about the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville? I needed a new heel for my shoe, so I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville back in those days. I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. 'Give me five bees for a quarter,' you’d say. Now where were we? Oh yeah—the important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn’t have white onions, because of the war. The only thing you could get were those big yellow ones..."

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"Drop the Toaster Strudel."

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You may notice that Michael Emerson is sporting a real-life black eye in this scene. It was given to him by accident during the scene where Desmond pummels him in the school parking lot. Don't say I never taught you anything.

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"NO ME NO CRAZY"

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"Hurley, I'm going to let you in on a secret. I accidentally dropped a can of OFF! into the campfire behind me, so I'd estimate that we have about two seconds before our eyebrows get blown clean off."

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All the medical experience in the world couldn't prepare Dr. Shephard for the day when Raspberry Jam started leaking from his neckhole.

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"Give me back my burlap sleeves. Immediately."

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"WAAAAAAALLLLLLT!!!!!"

There you have it. 106 recaps down, just one more to go. Enjoy the finale this weekend, but remember to come back here next week, because Lost doesn't end until the CDP says so. Sound off in the comments section and catch up on Season 6 of Lost Friday by following the links below. Bye.

Season 6 - Episode 1/2.
Season 6 - Episode 3.
Season 6 - Episode 4.
Season 6 - Episode 5.
Season 6 - Episode 6.
Season 6 - Episode 7.
Season 6 - Episode 8.
Season 6 - Episode 9.
Season 6 - Episode 10.
Season 6 - Episode 11.
Season 6 - Episode 12.
Season 6 - Episode 13.
Season 6 - Episode 14.
Season 6 - Episode 15.
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Thursday, May 20

CDP Wayback Machine - Genesis/Super NES Edition.



(Originally published July 2009.)

In the past, we here at the CDP have counted down our favorite NES games of all-time, as well as our favorite Atari 2600 games of all-time (Part 1 here, Part 2 here). So it's due time that we move into the 16-Bit Era and introduce our favorite games for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis as well.

Before any fanboys and gamer dorks have an aneurysm or nerdgasm over some countdown atrocity I'm certain to commit along the way, understand that this is my own personal list based on Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis games that I've been fortunate enough to play and own over the last 18 years, and by no means is a complete document of well-researched history. Please enjoy.


(#16: Super Punch-Out!!)

20. Super Bomberman
19. Star Fox
18. Lemmings
17. Ninja Gaiden Trilogy
16. Super Punch-Out!!


(#12: F-Zero)

15. Mega Man X
14. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time
13. SimCity
12. F-Zero
11. Chrono Trigger


(#9: Super Metroid)

10. Super Castlevania IV
9. Super Metroid
8. Street Fighter II: Turbo
7. Donkey Kong Country
6. Super Mario All-Stars


5. Mega Man 7


4
. Final Fantasy III


3. Super Mario Kart


2. Super Mario World


1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Boom, roasted. Let's move on.



And now, my Top 20 Sega Genesis games. Please enjoy.


(#16: Golden Axe)

20. Jurassic Park
19. Evander Holyfield's "Real Deal" Boxing
18. PGA Tour Golf
17. Earthworm Jim
16. Golden Axe


(#15: Zombies Ate My Neighbors)

15. Zombies Ate My Neighbors
14. Road Rash
13. Super Smash TV
12. Sonic & Knuckles
11. Ghouls 'N Ghosts


(#9: Splatterhouse 2)

10. NHL ‘95
9. Splatterhouse 2
8. Phantasy Star IV
7. Sonic The Hedgehog
6. Pit-Fighter


5. NBA Jam


4. Madden NFL '95


3. Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition


2. Mortal Kombat (I & II)


1. Streets of Rage 2

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.Lost Friday arrives in less than 24 hours.

Wednesday, May 19

CDP Wayback Machine - Generic Dudes Edition.

Top 15 NES Games Of All-Time.
(Originally Published May 2008.)

Welcome to The CDP's Top 15 NES Games Of All-Time. It's loaded with links, clips, pop culture goodness and various other things that will entertain you thusly if you have the patience to check out everything I've thrown into it (and if you are a child or man-child of the 80's). Please enjoy.

It should also be noted that this is a list of my favorite NES games, not some be-all-to-end-all list that I think you'll agree entirely with. Furthermore, if you feel the need to explain in detail why Castlevania was better than Metal Gear, chances are that we're going to end up being friends anyway. Let's go.

Pre-Countdown Honorable Mentions go to: Castlevania (for being scary), Contra (for being extremely difficult without the Konami Code), Ghouls-'N-Ghosts (for being absolutely impossible), Ninja Gaiden (for the kickass storyline), Final Fantasy (for being Final freaking Fantasy) & Double Dragon II (for the Cyclone Spin Kick).

Super Mario Bros. 2.

15. Super Mario Bros. 2

SMB2 is hard. Really hard. Interest-rate mortgage calculation over 30 years, adjusted for inflation with PMI included-hard, as far as this guy is concerned. In fact, I've never actually won SMB2 without the assistance of a certain Game Genie-esque device that allowed me to leap over levels and attack Wart with Matrix-style bullet-time speed. Furthermore, SMB2 wasn't even a Mario game until it was repackaged for American audiences in 1988 (and was featured in the first issue of Nintendo Power, which I proudly own).

That all being said, the music, cartoonish boss appeal and multiple-character selection were all fairly groundbreaking at the time (not to mention the bizarre androgeny of Birdo), and I put many a controller through the drywall trying to reiterate myself with the jumping scheme and new Mario features. I played this game so much as a child, that I named my cat at the time 'Meowser,' a take-off of the bad-ass SMB2 boss, Mouser.

Don't laugh, asshole, I was 7. It's still one of the more clever things I've done.

YouTube Goodness - The Mouser Battle.

Ring King.

14. Ring King

Where to start with the awesomeness that is Ring King? The fighters that ranged in color from Simpsons yellow to nearly-dead E.T. gray? The knockouts that could literally eject your opponent from the stadium? Or how about the most unintentional sexual act in NES history, the imfamous 'cornerman bob-n'-weave?' Ring King was a game that was simple to play (the button-mashing controls assured that first-timers could kick any seasoned pro's ass), which meant that the multi-player tournaments were always a blast.

An underrated NES party game, especially when two n00bz would duke it out for the first time. It normally looked like a Toughman competition; just two guys teeing off on the other's face until someone up and died. And what's more fun than that?

YouTube Goodness - Knocked Out Of The Stadium.

R.C. Pro-Am.

13. R.C. Pro-Am

There are many NES-related moments that we can all, as retro gamers, remember fondly. In my opinion, there was never anything funnier than watching someone attempt to play R.C. Pro-Am for the first time. The control scheme, completely impossible to explain or understand (until it became a permanently ingrained part of your central nervous system), virtually assured that the first 20 attempts at Track 1 would consist of 90-degree pinwheeling into every barrier, wall or oil slick in existence. Once you got it down, you were unstoppable, but when your friend took the reins for the first time, the epic failure was pure bliss.

Special attention goes out to the Yellow Car and its 'impossible speed' bursts in later stages of the game; one of the first examples of outright 'cheating' by computer AI. Go to hell, unnamed driver. You're the reason my trophy room is full of bronze wrenches.

YouTube Goodness - Opening Tracks & The Trophy Room.

TMNT2: The Arcade Game.

12. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game

I have an extremely fond memory of attending a birthday party at Aladdin's Castle in the 3rd Grade (remember when arcades used to be amazing?). Myself and my three closest friends pooled our ridiculously large amount of game tokens into a small mound under the TMNT cabinet and went to town, winning the game two times in a row.

Girls were gently patting the sweat off of our brows and assisting us with generous sips of Mello Yello as we stayed focused and united. I was Donatello; I was always Donatello. It was one of my most treasured video game achievments; I think we pumped $80 into that damn machine.

I can't even remember who's birthday it was that day, solidly proving that the best memories aren't necessarily the ones that you purposely set out to create.

YouTube Goodness - Rocksteady's Got April!

The Legend Of Zelda.

11. The Legend Of Zelda

If you ever find yourself talking to me at length about something I couldn't care less about (and chances are that you are), The Legend Of Zelda theme music is probably running through my head on a constant loop. I'm ashamed to admit that I jumped on the Zelda train a little late in my childhood, but the joy and reward was just the same. Summer nights spent in a friend's garage, drinking copious amounts of Kool-Aid and listening to C+C Music Factory on the boom box. It's what memories are made of.

Come to think of it, I don't think I ever got that C+C Music Factory tape back. I have a phone call to make.

(EDIT: Zelda is woefully low on this countdown because I rarely had the opportunity to play it as a kid. Don't bitch.)

YouTube Goodness - One Of The Best Commercials Ever.

Excitebike.

10. Excitebike

The overwhelming frustration of overheating mere inches from the finish line. Creating a custom track that launched you directly into a wall on purpose. Tripping up opponents just before an obstacle that sent them slo-mo tumbling for fifteen seconds straight. Excitebike was one of those games that absolutely everyone had, so we're mostly united in our gaming experiences.

I was playing Grand Prix for the Atari 2600 a few weeks ago (a game that I called 'Grand Pricks' in 1988, because I didn't know any better), and it made me long for Excitebike; the image of your character standing yards away from the Top 3 finishers, head bowed in shame, is one of the more psychologically damaging moments of failure in early gaming history. They should have just showed me a picture of my mom getting kicked in the stomach by Darth Vader; it may have hurt a little less.

YouTube Goodness - Knocking Out Track 5.

Tecmo Super Bowl.

9. Tecmo Super Bowl

Forget Madden. It's well-documented that Tecmo Super Bowl is the greatest football game in history. Tournaments are still held all over the nation on a weekly basis, and YouTube clips of 500-yard, quarter-length scampers are plentiful. This is the game that will keep the fond memory of Christian 'The Nigerian Nightmare' Okoye in my head forever, as the game designers simply threw their hands in the air one night and said, "You know what? Screw everything; let's just make him impossible to tackle."

That, my friends, is awesome. "No fair; you can't be the Chiefs!"

YouTube Goodness - Superman Okoye Destroys The Colts.

Mega Man 2.

8. Mega Man 2

Taken from the Mega Man 2 Wikipedia page: "Mega Man 2 was named by GameSpot as one of 'The Greatest Games of All Time.' It was also honored in Nintendo Power's 'Top 200 Nintendo Games Ever' list, ranked at number 33. Creator Keiji Inafune claims the success of Mega Man 2 is what made the Mega Man series a hit that continues to spawn sequels."

I couldn't have said this better myself. Furthermore, I can't tell you how many 'Wood Man' jokes I've made over the years. Heh-heh....'wood.'

Penis.

YouTube Goodness - The Timeless Introduction To Mega Man 2.

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!

7. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!

Well, here's one we can all probably agree on. The cast of characters was comedic and all-encompassing. The 'Dream Fight' code is etched in our subconscious until the end of time (right off the top of my head: 007-373-5963). The sweat-drenched survival of the first 90 seconds with Iron Mike. Trailing behind Doc Louis' bike while jogging in a pink tracksuit past the Statue Of Liberty. King Hippo. It's all here.

Punch-Out!! is one of those games that I will still be playing and enjoying when I'm 50, and maybe by then I'll get the timing down with Super Macho Man. I once had to dodge his 'Super Spin Punch' 38 damn times in a row.

As a side note, I didn't actually win this game until I was in my late teens, and as I celebrated this long-awaited accomplishment alone in my bedroom, I became acutely aware that good memories are worthless unless they can be shared. Hours later, however, I lost my virginity, so I'd say it was a pretty good day for me.

YouTube Goodness - Iron Mike Gets Owned.

Super Mario Bros.

6. Super Mario Bros.

I once read an IGN or GameSpy article proclaiming that "Super Mario Bros. IS gaming." This is unquestionably true; it launched a rebirth of video gaming that has been doing nothing but pick up steam and generate billions of profitable dollars from losers like me for the last 22 years. I cannot offer anything that hasn't already been said in praise of SMB, nor can I properly convey its importance to technology and global culture.

What I can tell you is that the first time I won SMB, I was horribly sick with the flu, and in my overly-hyper celebration, yodeled groceries directly into the box fan whirring in my grandparents' living room. Whatever splatteriffic result you're imagining in your head, I can assure you it was actually far worse. It still didn't deter my celebration; how could it?

YouTube Goodness - Amazing SMB Race.

Metroid.

5. Metroid

Metroid has been considered by many to be the greatest NES game ever made, for a number of reasons. The amazing weapons, storyline and unparalleled code system. The weeks of sleepless nights it took to finally take down the Mother Brain. The twist ending of having to escape the lair to avoid death, even after defeating the boss. And of course, the ultimate twist ending, revealing that our main character and bad-ass hero was actually a woman. That revelation alone transcended Metroid into the stratusphere when it comes to games that had a cultural impact, with endless sequels and legions of fans.

The first time I battled a Metroid, I distinctively remember yelping in terror. Those things were a goddamn nightmare, as I've always had a problem with things that latched onto other things and sucked their lives dry. Like David Spade.

YouTube Goodness - The Final Battle & Best Ending.

Metal Gear.

4. Metal Gear

The beginning of what is probably the greatest action franchise in gaming history. This one had it all: Spying. Traitors. Intrigue. Weapons galore. The glorification of cigarettes. The final twist and realization that your trusted boss has been setting you up for the fall from the very beginning, and it's up to you to take him out once and for all. My 'Official Metal Gear Map' is tattered and held together exclusively with Scotch tape and memories, but thinking back to insomniac weekends spent conquering this game is the perfect definition of childhood happiness.

This game is also noted for its 'Engrish,' with phrases such as "The truck have started to move!" and "I feel asleep!" Oh, and you get penalized if you shoot the prisoners that you're trying to capture, so try not to do that, even though they're sitting there, all tied up and pathetic. Show restraint, Solid Snake (To this day, I'm still baffled that the game designers decided to name their main character after what amounts to nothing more than an erection joke).

YouTube Goodness - The Opening Levels To Metal Gear.

River City Ransom.

3. River City Ransom

River City Ransom has received a cult following and legions of devoted fans (ironically) after being named the 'Most Underrated NES Game Of All-Time' by Nintendo Power magazine. And as far as start-to-finish, vague storyline-driven games go, this was one of the most fun games you'll probably ever play.

Follow the map, beat the piss out of every gang in River City and save your girlfriend. Rob the thugs, hit the stores to buy goods that will make yourself stronger. Nowadays, most games follow this structure; back in the day, River City Ransom was the only game in town. The music was tight, the locations were great, the weapons and violence were supreme and the replayability factor is off the charts. I still play this game.

YouTube Goodness - Basic Clip That Will Convince You Of RCR's Awesomeness.

Tetris.

2. Tetris

Here it is. The game that gave almost all of its fans Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The game that actually spawned a psychological after-effect known as the 'Tetris Effect.' The game that is so ingrained into our minds and memories that we can actually fantasize about playing a game. Tetris deserves to sit right next to Chess and Poker as one of the greatest games in the history of mankind; a premise so simple and addictive that it changed the lives of arguably billions of people.

It's f***ing Tetris, man!

YouTube Goodness - You're Nowhere Near The Best Player On Earth.

Super Mario Bros. 3.

1. Super Mario Bros. 3

February 12, 1990. I had just turned 8 years old one week earlier, and pooled every penny I had received as a gift and ran to Toys-R-Us. There, behind the glass, hung the greatest Nintendo game of all-time. Super Mario Bros. 3. After seeing SMB3 for the first time in Fred Savage film The Wizard the year before (and what a brilliant marketing ploy, by the way), I knew that it was my destiny to conquer this game like a five-dollar whore.

I had the strategy guide. I had the maps. I had the entire Summer to hone my craft, and indeed I did. In the Summer of 1990, I won SMB3 an astounding 100 times, something that I'd argue that nobody else has ever done. I'd get up in the morning, eat breakfast, play some basketball and win SMB3. The next day, I did the same; so on and so forth, until school was back in session.

As depressing as that may sound, it was actually quite amazing. Friends would come over and win with me. I'd win with one life. I'd win using no Warp Zones. I even won some levels by looking into a mirror. It was probably the best Summer ever.

YouTube Goodness - Mario! Mario!

Thanks for reading. Sound off in the comments section and let us know what your favorite NES games are.