My Favorite Games #1

Chrono Trigger

This is a no contest, really. I played through Chrono Trigger earlier this year and even though I beaten the game dozens of times, it still felt so fresh and fun. I love this game. While there have been games in the nearly twenty years since this game was released that have done specific things better, there is no game that combines all the things great about Chrono Trigger that comes close to matching it.

It has one of the best casts of playable characters. Sure, Crono and Marle may be nothing unique, though they have the personality to rise above their generic roots. The others are fairly unique. Lucca is some kind of mad genius who is also Crono’s best friend. Frog is the stereotypical knight that just happens to be a frog. Robo and Ayla are strongarms from another time. Ayla is especially interesting, a prehistoric leader who just happens to be a woman. They are just a fun group to be with and there are so many optional moments in the game to flesh them out. It is a well developed cast.

There is also the audio and visual excellence. The soundtrack is one of the best. While it isn’t Mitsuda’s usual style, at least the one he would develop later with strong Celtic influences, it is just about as good of a straight RPG soundtrack as there is. It is Mitsuda doing his best Uematsu impersonation and it works. The graphics are some of the best on the SNES. They are just so vibrant and colorful and detailed. I am not the biggest fan of Akira Toriyama, but his designs really work in this game.

This is the game I bought my SNES for. I played it at a friend’s house and fell in love with it. I had to have it. Even having to pay about $70 for it did not deter me. I saved money for months to get both the SNES and Chrono Trigger. When I finally got them both, they more than lived up to my expectations. Chrono Trigger was the first RPG is actually beat. Thanks to its New Game +, I proceeded to beat it several more times right in a row. I am not one to obsessively tear apart a game; I am more of a tourist. I play them, see the sights and as soon as the game can be called beaten I put it away for the next game. Chrono Trigger kept me playing until I knew all of its secrets. Playing it on the DS, when I hadn’t played it in several years, I still knew the whole game perfectly. All the tricks like examining sealed chests in the past before opening them in the present, or what bosses need elemental absorbing armors to make completely useless. Very few are the games the keep my attention like that, mostly just the top 5 of this list, and none kept me enthralled like Chrono Trigger.

I’m not sure I can say that no game is better than Chrono Trigger. It is 18 years old and there have been undeniable technical improvements since then. Also, it is an RPG, which is my bread and butter but they are definitely not for everybody. Still, it is definitely my favorite game.

Man of Steel

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This was probably the movie I was most excited for this summer. It was also the movie I was most worried about. I really wanted it to be good. The people behind it were usually good film makers, but a lot of their work didn’t necessarily feel like it would translate into a good Superman movie. I’ve now seen it twice. It didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but it also didn’t fall as far as I feared. Man of Steel isn’t a very good Superman movie. It’s also not much of a superhero movie. But it was a really good Sci-Fi movie. It isn’t the movie I necessarily wanted, but I found it to be wholly worthwhile.

Man of Steel chooses to almost ignore the superhero side of Superman, focusing instead on his science fiction origins. It is not a bad track to take with what is essentially Superman Begins. It is about the failure of Krypton, and the efforts of its last sons to try to help the doomed planed live on. It is about the always alienated Clark trying to find out where he comes from. It is not about Superman being Superman. This is a big sticking point, that and some moments that many Superman fans would consider out of character. While I definitely had some problems, I really liked MoS’s portrayal of Krypton. The opening scene reminded me of the Animated Series’ scenes on Krypton. Zod is usually a boring villain (how many times have we seen space Hitler?) but he has just enough of a good cause here to be interesting. Superman always feeling like an alien messes with the central premise of Clark adopting Earth as his home, but it is, for better or worse, a more realistic take on what his early life would have been like.

It is not a movie without fun or without hope like many reviews have said, but it is an all too cynical take on the greatest superhero. This movie’s Superman is told by Jor-El, a recurring problem, that he is to embody hope, but for the bulk of the movie he seems to have none himself. I think he learns to be the Superman we all know and love by the end, but the journey is a little sloppy. The writers seemed to have some notes that they absolutely wanted to hit, but maybe cut some corners to hit them. SPOILERS. I am speaking specifically of Jonathon Kent’s death and Clark killing Zod. While the central point of these scenes are both solid, Clark showing his father he trusts him by letting him die and Clark being forced to kill Zod, I don’t think they were very well executed. The tornado scene had many odd things, like having everyone hide under an overpass, which is a terrible idea. And Clark could have likely saved his dad with no more explanation needed than they were both lucky to survive being caught in a tornado. They also did not establish that he had no other option than to kill Zod. Other than Zod saying it there was no reason to believe that it was the inevitable outcome. A situation could have been set where it was inevitable, but Snyder and Goyer did not do so.

Still, there is much to like. Amy Adams is pretty great as Lois, and while her romance with Clark is rushed, it works. All of Clark’s parent’s do a really good job. While I wasn’t happy with a lot of his advice, you could really feel Costner’s Kent’s love for his son. Henry Cavill does good work with little material. And Zod is suitable villainous and tortured.

Man of Steel is a flawed take on Superman, a flawed movie in general, but in the end it is still a really good movie. Hopefully, it is used as the foundation for some great ones.