Hello hello, it’s time to rank some more things!
Much like the previous couple, I’m about to arbitrarily decide on some metrics that indicate what are the best things in any given category, and it just so happens that I’m completely correct. Let’s have at it!
Wait, didn’t I miss some weeks?
Top 5 Excuses For Missing 3 Weeks in a Row
I can’t really avoid the fact that there were some points where I felt fine, but elected to do something else instead, like sleep.
4: Existential Despair
What is the point? What does it all mean? No one ca-oh wait some people care, I do know that, I won’t let you down this week!
3: GP Lyon Weekend
I actually thought I was going to have a bunch of time sitting around in which to write stuff over a team GP weekend! How foolish. To be fair, due to flight delays, I ended up travelling for an extra 6 hours on the Thursday – time I might have spent discussing rankings with some fabulous team mates. Instead, spare time was spent foraging for food/playing in a Sunday Pro Tour Qualifier.
2: WMC Week
I’ll write more about this I promise, but looking back on this week, there was very little time where writing would occur. If we weren’t testing decks or building pools or having meetings, I was eating food, or ‘taking a break’ by looking up decklists and asking people for advice online.
1: One Year On
Last Friday, was one year since the world became a darker place for me, and everyone that knew Iulia. I tried to write some kind of moving tribute, or an upbeat remembrance of good times or even just some kind of small announcement on my social media. But I couldn’t find the words.
I also didn’t feel like posting a frivolous Top 5 post as the only thing, so I didn’t.
What I actually did, was try not to think about it at all, and instead played an Unstable draft, as far away as residing in my own head as possible. On that note…
Favourite Un-Set Cards
Note: I wrote this pre-Unstable, so only Unglued/Unhinged this time.
My Invitational card‘s time will come.
5: The Cheese Stands Alone
While this card did eventually become one of the few Un-cards to get a functional printing in Barren Glory, (and therefor became a boring ol’ black bordered card) I love The Cheese Stands alone. The absurd super-cheesy art (in more ways than one) makes me smile every time, and the name/effect relationship just feel right. It made me want to make decks with it like few other alternate win condition cards did. Somehow Barren Glory just never inspired similar.
Now this is how you do a simple effect in a joke format. I noticed Unstable (the newest set) has several ‘functional’ cards too, simple and there for gameplay primarily, but this is my favourite.
Not only is the art great and visually shows the effect of the card while referencing another favourite (foreshadowing…) I also enjoy the crude flavour text which also refers to two other sweet cards. I feel a lot of the older Un-card humour not only works if you are new to Magic (Stangg is inherently funny, and Sol’Kanar sounds made up for the joke) but also provides additional amusement for veterans.
3: Form of the Squirrel
Everyone likes squirrels, and I definitely miss them not appearing in real sets any more. Everything’s just too serious. Nooo we can’t have comedy Goblins and Squirrels beating people up, it’s gotta be plants or something. Ahem.
Anyway, everyone thought Form of the Dragon was an awesomely evocative card. The feeling of turning yourself into a Dragon in card-form was great and it was also a very powerful card. What’s the next best thing?
Turning yourself into a normal, non-Magical squirrel? Uh… perfect! This card is situationally strong too. You just need to give yourself a Whispersilk Cloak…
But more than anything, I love the flavour text. Like I said earlier, you don’t *need* to know that it’s a callback to Reparations – which has amazing flavour text – but it’s neat when you do.
But they’re Clamfolk. Clams. And they shelled the village. They shelled it Carl!
1: Infernal Spawn of Evil
Oh my word I love everything about this card. It’s light on ha-ha jokes, but I think this hits all the right notes for me.
Giant black Dem-I mean Beasts are always cool. It has a great fun-trolly ability to keep using over and over again in funny ways.
The art is incredible. It makes me feel warm and cosy in a Christmassy themed way I wouldn’t have expected from a Magic card. It’s just so cute and appealing, I couldn’t help but want one and want to play it in fun decks. Even better, the callback to this card just makes it even more enjoyable.
Top 5 Underappreciated RPGs
This topic is for games I have played and enjoyed that hardly anyone ever talks about. And I’m a big nerd that talks to other nerds about RPGs fairly often! I’m also focusing mostly on JRPGs, since I’d never really had the chance to play many Western PC RPGs except the modern ones which reached consoles.
Important: I include Wikipedia links since they can tell you which platforms these were released on/if there are available Steam/Virtual Console releases. I do not recommend reading much about the story/characters since some of them are careless about spoilers.
There are *way* more than 5 candidates for this, so rather than honourable mentions, I might just revisit this topic in the future.
Vandal Hearts blew my mind back in the day. It’s a tactical RPG, and one I still enjoy over other more popular titles in the genre. It isn’t the most customisable, and it’s *mostly* a linear march through scenarios, but the characters and story are enjoyable, combat satisfying, and a great way to get into strategic RPG games.
Double Fine’s seasonal RPG is charming. So charming I’m surprised more people don’t remember it exists. While it’s no surprise that the team behind Psychonauts would write quirky and fun characters, one of the best things about this game is the length. Some RPGs become a slog, and this one is pretty short and sweet, just long enough for you to explore the tactics and costumes. Great if you don’t have the time for an 80-hour epic right now or just want to try out the genre.
Terranigma wasn’t ever officially released in the US, which automatically means it wouldn’t get wild popularity in the Western gaming subculture. I hadn’t heard about it at all until a few years ago when I totally 100% truthfully picked up a real copy of the game to play on my actual Super Nintendo and not an emulator.
Where was I? Oh right, the action-orientated combat is decent, but one of the biggest plus points is that the game just feels very unique all the way through, in terms of what happens in the story. I appreciate RPGs that don’t just use *all* the usual tropes for a serviceable-but-predictable story.
2: Wild Arms 3
Now we have Wild Arms 3. I’ve played a few in this series, but 3 still strikes me as being the best by quite a fair margin. All the key ingredients are good-to-great at least like the story, characters, combat, and the dungeons are uplifted by the series’ trademark use of character-specific abilities on the overworld.
I am not usually a fan of Wild West themed things, but the aesthetics fit perfectly and are not distracting. The game has so much to do, plenty of secrets and extras aside from the lengthy story, it always feels like you have lots to do. Oh, and the music is great too.
I’m not amazingly surprised most people don’t seem to have heard of these. Originally being made for the Sega CD will tend to doom games to obscurity unless we’re talking about Sonic CD. However, the remade versions for the Saturn/Playstation are amazing.
A big part of why these are so great is the localisation. Some games have shoddy translations, or adequate but lacking in context, but the team that converted the script for this did an exceptional job at being funny and engaging.
I am conflating the two games into one here, since they somewhat follow on from each other and I think the second game is better but would suffer a little without the first.
Still, having played these (for the first time) many years after their release, free from nostalgia, I remember enjoying the games pretty much all the way through and being impressed. Strongly recommendation for fans of the genre, but I *think* they are pretty accessible also.
Top 5 Disney Villain Songs
Disney Villains often have great songs, definitely more than 5 excellent ones. Still…
5: You’re Only Second Rate
Jafar didn’t get a proper musical number to himself in the original Aladdin. He did in the sequel, back when Disney sequels were cause for alarm and fear rather than for general optimism.
Clearly they couldn’t afford Robin Williams for the sequels, but even the distractingly-Simpsony Genie doesn’t detract so much from how much pure joy Jafar seems to be taking in this song. It grew on me, it’s surprisingly catchy.
4: Friends on the Other Side
My only complaint about this song is that there’s not more of the ludicrously catchy musical part. I want to hear more about the voodoo stuff!
Extremely quotable and fun, it also does a great job characterising Gaston. I still think this version is best, but the new one is fun too. The Gaston actor couldn’t possible live up to the cartoonish proportions promised in the lyrics!
2: Be Prepared
You don’t need to be an incredible vocalist to put on a memorable and menacing performance. Jeremy Irons whispering at us frightfully is evocative and a little bit terrifying.
Wait, Jeremy needed to be replaced part way through the song? Did you notice that a soundalike incredibly talented guy called Jim Cummings subbed in? Apparently the song was more taxing than I assumed.
Like (most?) other kids, Hunchback was never my favourite Disney movie when I was young. It was a tad too dark and adult for me, I guess.
Later in life though, woah I appreciate it a lot more, and no parts more than the spine-tingling villain song about lust and possibly murdering the entire city of Paris.
That will do for this week! Next week will be the Christmas special, and after that, I’ll be reconsidering the format for these. Should I spend additional time on each thing, giving each list an individual post? Let me know, if the mix of Magical and non-Magical lists is alienating or not!
Tchau for now.