Thought Process for Top 50 & What Missed the Cut

Joey V's Top 50 was difficult to pick, and saw a lot of titles left off the listFor the last few months, I have been telling people that I would be working on a personal Top 50 list for both video games and movies. On its face value, it seems like a rather silly idea. It is not as if I was going to compile a list of the fifty best video games of all-time, a list that fans and critics that could come to some sort of understanding about. Nor do I have the kind of knowledge that is required to make such a list. Not for video games and certainly not for movies.

So while I really wanted to do this personal list, a question that I had to ask myself was simply, “Why?” There are many different reasons why I felt the need to do this. An obvious one is that I wanted content up on the site, but anyone can just create write down numbers one to fifty on a sheet of paper with a list of the random media that first comes to mind. That though, isn’t special or particularly compelling. Let’s break down some of the more important factors for doing this list and what you can get out of it;

  • Skip the Conjecture – We have all had a situation where we have stated that something we like is one of our favorites of all time. It is a statement that is there to show just how much you enjoyed a particular piece, no matter what it is. Yet that statement can be used a bit too much at times, and it can begin to lose meaning. More than that though, after you make such a proclamation, don’t you begin to think through your list? It is something that I am constantly doing, and as I began to consume more and more media, the mental list that I had and how I judged them became a fascinating exercise. Doing this personal Top 50 really forced me to look at video games and movies in a new light and to truly found out how I felt about them.
  • Find Out More About Yourself – I think this is reason enough for friends to do this exercise together. It can be a great way to share stories, and to get a better understanding of how people think and consume their media. In my experience, as you put down items on your list, you begin to remember where in your life you were. This can be a very powerful method of seeing just how far you have come and evolved as a person. Some of the video games that are at the top of my list, helped me not only be a better gamer, but also gave me the opportunity to improve as a web designer and as an event organizer. The movies that are high on my list helped me look at the world from a different perspective, make new friends, and even connect more with my wife. I may have taken these real life events for granted, had I not been reminded of them after making these lists.
  • EI'm not asking you to jump out of a plane, just to try some new games and movies!xpose People to New Things – As with anything, my personal lists are not going to look anything like your own. Furthermore, my list is going to have games and films on it that the reader may not even know about. Doing this list is a great way to expose people to new video games and movies, and perhaps convince them to check it out.
  • Have Fun With Nostalgia – In order even pull off a list like this, the amount of time you need to spend just remembering all of the games you have played, is staggering. During this process I had to remember video games all the way to the Atari 800, and recall films that I had on VHS tapes. You know, the tapes that had three movies on them that didn’t make any sense? I think the favorite tape I had that fit the bill was one that had Mortal Kombat, Clueless, and Die Hard With A Vengeance. Regardless, you have to remember all the movies that you loved during your childhood, and weigh that against the movies you are enjoying now. You will be surprised at the ranking decisions that you make, and how a terrible movie or video game that you just loved as a kid, can be next to a classic like Half-Life or American Beauty.

A list isn’t very exciting. Only when you think of these factors, and then explain why these items are in the order they are, can you get a better understanding for why I believe a Top 50 list is important and impactful. A list though is only as good as the guidelines you set out for yourself. I didn’t have all that many rules when picking my favorites, but there were some things that I tried to do whenever possible.

  1. Trilogies can not take up only one spotCan’t have a trilogy only take up one spotI’m a huge Star Wars nerd and I have tried on many occasions to just state that the entire original trilogy as a whole is one of my favorites. Over the years though, I’ve forced myself to do that less and less. I feel like it’s very important to judge these games and films individual on their own merit. You’ll also be very surprised what doesn’t make the cut when something is not protected by the other pieces of the series.
  2. No limitations on entries from long running series – As an extension to the first rule, I did not limit myself as to what I picked. This of course means that if I feel like an entire trilogy deserves to be on the list, it will be. Putting a limitation of “only one entry from a series” is too harsh and inherently skews the list.
  3. No ties – Self-explanatory. You have to choose something to be better than something else. There were times when I thought about breaking this rule, but I just didn’t want to “cheat” as it were. It’s not my Top 57 games. This isn’t Vietnam, there are rules!
  4. Always remember that it is a personal list! I had to list this as a rule because it was something that was a problem early on. This is not a best of all-time kind of list. That is an entirely different beast that has more structured ruleset and mindset. There are games and movies that will be in the Top 50 that are just plain not good. By conventional standards, these games and films will be obviously terrible. Yet to me, they may be very important because of how I look back on them and view them.

It goes without saying, but due to these rules being here, there were quite a few movies that were left off the list. I felt bad for not finding a way to include them, but there just wasn’t any way to work. They are all important games and movies though, so I wanted to give them just a tiny bit of a spotlight, and share with some of the notable pieces that didn’t quite make the cut.

NOTE: The actual lists will be displayed in groups of 5-10 starting next week. My hope is to show off one section of each list each and every week until I’m all done.

Video Games

 

Bully

Bully (PS2, XBOX 360)
  • Released: 2006
  • System: Playstion 2, XBOX 369
  • Developer: Rockstar Vancouver
  • Publisher: Rockstar Games

I played a ton of Grand Theft Auto 3 and Vice City. So much so, that I truly believed that I could not enjoy an open world game again. I mean there’s only so much random non-sense that you can get involved with before you want a storyline and some sort of structure.

Bully gave me that thrill of the open world, while also giving me more a meaningful storyline and consequences for my actions. There were no cops, but there was hall monitors that made sure you went to class on time. You couldn’t beat up hookers, but you could flirt and make out with girls. You didn’t get different cars, but man could you trick out your bicycle. This game should have been lame compared to the other games Rockstar was putting out, but just because of the setting and the charming tone, it was actually better.

This was on my list until the bitter end. I didn’t want to let go of it, but I had to. Not only because I had other games on my list that I remember more fondly, but also because it was on the short list of games that I hadn’t beaten. When looking over my list, Bully stood out because it was one of the few games on the list that I had never seen the end of. There are certainly other games on there, but almost all the rest were original Nintendo games that were so hard and so broken that I can’t use that criteria against them.

Bully was an insanely fun game, but it grew repetitive towards the end

For Bully though, I just thought that this fact stood out. I began to think about why I hadn’t finished it, and hoped that it was because I got sidetracked with other games. The truth though, was that I grew bored of the game. Having to go through a similar mission structure for every single cliche in the school grew tedious and while the storyline was fun, I just didn’t like doing the same thing over and over again.

At some point I will go back and beat Bully, and it’s very possible that it may overtake a good number of games on my list. For now though, I have to accept the fact that it just didn’t make the cut.

 

Myst

  • Released: 1993
  • System: Personal Computer
  • Developer: Cyan
  • Publisher: Brøderbund

Myst was released close to twenty years ago. I was ten years old when I started my puzzle solving, book traveling adventure. I remember it fondly, as the puzzles were very challenging, and the game was actually released for my Macintosh computer, which was a rarity for me at the time.

The game was gorgeous with the unique worlds that they asked you to explore, and the storyline that had a ton of intrigue to it. Who were these two brothers that were begging you to let them out? Why were they imprisoned in the first place? Can you trust them? Who created all of these worlds?

So many questions, and if you dug deep enough into the lore then you would begin to unveil the history behind Myst. The reason why this isn’t on my list, is because when I was playing this, I was only 10 years old. I firmly believe I just wasn’t mentally prepared to understand a game like this. This was in a time period where the Internet was around, but it wasn’t super easy to access it. When I got stuck on a puzzle, I really got stuck on a puzzle.

Myst frustrated me, but it was so beautiful

I remember writing down so many notes and working on this game for many months, that by the end of it I was very tired and frustrated. What also frustrated me was that I spent so much time trying to figure out the puzzles, that I didn’t pay attention to the fact that I probably shouldn’t be freeing these two brothers at all. I was able to reload my saves, but “losing” the game 2-3 times just wasn’t what I wanted at the time.

Myst (PC)
 

SimCity 2000

SimCity 2000 (PC)
  • Released: 1994
  • System: Personal Computer
  • Developer: Maxis
  • Publisher: Maxis

Not everyone had this experience, but it is something that seemed to happen often enough that you may know what I’m talking about. As many should remember, the computers in your middle school’s computer lab were all installed with the basic programs that were essential for learning but not exciting. You had your word processors, some random application that helped you learn how to type, and maybe an Internet browser as you got older.

Most of the computers didn’t have anything fun on them, but there was always that one that somehow had games installed on it in some secret directory the teachers didn’t know about. Maybe they did know about it, but that’s is neither here nor there. In my middle school, the two games that were hidden away were the original Duke Nukem 2D shooter, and SimCity 2000. I didn’t particularly enjoy Duke, so SimCity became my obsession whenever I could get on that one computer that had it.

Lucky for me, the teacher for that class knew I did my work, so that computer became my permanent seat for an entire school year, and I was able to play whenever I had finished an assignment.

I played so much SimCity during class, and still got an A

Just because I played a ton of SimCity 2000 though, didn’t mean I was good at it. In fact, I was actually rather terrible at it. So that’s why I did what I feel like most kids did, and learned about the embezzling cheat. Basically, no matter what you did, every single month you would gain a ton of money. After awhile, you had amassed so much cash, that you could build your perfect city. Some would think that would detract from the enjoyment of the game, since there was no challenge. Oh how wrong they were.

The challenge became whatever you wanted to make it. I made entire city of futuristic domes. I made a city that had a 0% crime rate. I even made an entire city that was completely flat, and had no water, and filled every single grid with stuff. These tasks kept me coming back to the game time and time again.

This was a very hard game to scratch off the list, probably the most difficult. If this list was a Top 51, it might have very well made it. At least I got to mention it here and remember fond memories.

 

Other Notables – Civilization 2, Burnout Paradise, X-Men Arcade, Mortal Kombat, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Time Lord, Guitar Hero

Movies

 

The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  • Released: 1980
  • Director: Irvin Kershner
  • Studio: Lucasfilm
  • Distributor: 20th Century Fox

“WHOA! You call yourself a Star Wars fan and yet Empire isn’t on your list? What the fuck is wrong with you?!”

It’s quite possible that some of you, or maybe even all of you are saying that right now. I understand that completely, so let me try and defend my choice here.

Empire Strikes Back is my least favorite of the original trilogy, but that doesn’t mean I hate it. It just doesn’t have the kind of things that I’m looking for from my Star Wars films. Watching it as a kid, Empire is the movie that seemed to drag on the most. Hoth was cool, but very drab. Luke going to get training with Yoda on Dagobah was cool, but also drab. Han & Leia spend an entire half of the movie stuck on the Falcon covered in grease and wiring. It’s just not as exciting to look at, not the same way that A New Hope and Return of the Jedi are.

Just not enough good Jedi moments to make me love Empire

The biggest problem that I have with the movie, is that I am all about Jedi’s. Always have been, always will. The first movie has Obi-Wan Kenobi being wise and sage like, while Luke is so excited and eager to learn. In Return, Luke is truly a Jedi Knight, patient and powerful. That is how I want my Jedi’s to be. In Empire, Luke whines the entire time about how he doesn’t have time for training, and that he already knows enough. Yoda provokes Luke into some of these whiny moments, and show a great deal of stubbornness the entire movie that just makes the Jedi portions of the film annoying to me.

Not as annoying as the prequel trilogy, but just annoying in general.

So yeah, that’s my stance on the subject. The lack of Jedi goodness just irks me, enough that the wonderful moments with Han, Leia and Lando are just not enough to get this on the list. If you want to call me a bad Star Wars fan that is totally fine, but just know this. I have seen Star Wars more times than you ever will, and I am completely comfortable with my decision.

 

Independence Day

  • Released: 1996
  • Director: Roland Emmerich
  • Studio: Centropolis Entertainment
  • Distributor: 20th Century Fox

I went to go see Independence Day on opening day and I completely bought into the hype. I’m convinced that what made it seem like such a big event was the commercial where they blew up the White House, and the fact that the TV spots said something along the lines of “in theaters only on July 2.Maybe I’m crazy, but I really remember being a dumb kid thinking that this movie was only going to be shown for one day and that I had to be able to see it! Something tells me though, I wasn’t the only to feel that way, or remember the advertising as such.

I had a great time watching this in the theater when I was 13. The special effects were amazing, had a great cast who relished in over acting, and Bill Pullman’s speech got a standing ovation from everyone in my theater. I have such fond memories of seeing it multiple times, and even how excited I was to get it on VHS for Christmas.

ID4 was a good movie, but my younger self overlooked a lot dumb parts

So why is it not on the list? The movie just hasn’t stood the test of time. My nostalgia for Independence Day does not match what the movie actually is. I still think the movie is great fun, but I also think more and more that it’s not a great movie overall. There are scenes that just make me cringe now with how cheesy they are, and there are some definite pacing problems once they get to Area 51. Also, they didn’t show me enough actual aliens in it. Everything takes place in a ship, and I would have liked to see some ground battles in there as well. Minor gripe, but it’s something that really stuck with me.

Independence Day (1996)
 

The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect (2004)
  • Released: 2004
  • Director: Eric Bress & J. Mackye Gruber
  • Studio: Katalyst Films
  • Distributor: New Line Cinema

For many of you, the fact that I’m not putting The Butterfly Effect on my list will not come as a surprise. It wasn’t exactly a movie that garnered much critical acclaim at the time. Yet this movie really stuck with me throughout the years, as I really enjoyed the concept.

As you may or may not, The Butterfly Effect plays off the similarly named chaos theory that theorizes that even the smallest change can have long lasting and unintended impacts on the future. Ashton Kutcher plays a 20-year old student who suffers from blackouts. Initially these episodes are thought to be caused by a high number of physical, sexual and emotional traumas that he endores as a child. Yet you realize that these blackouts, are instances when his future self travels back in time to embody his younger form. In this way, he can try and set things right and improve the future.

The Butterfly Effect was panned by critics, but the movie has some very cool conecpts in it

Even as I type that out though, I’m sure you all see the issue with this formula. Ashton Kutcher’s character can never improve the future, he can only make it different, or worse. It is a story that we have seen many times before, but I just really enjoyed the vastly different futures and universes that the characters would inhabit after every flashback. It was interesting, well thought out, and some parts were disturbing and heart breaking. Hell, the original director’s cut of the film is one of the most depressing things I’ve seen, but it was still inventive and original I felt.

There were just too many movies that I had to include on my list, but this is one that has stayed with me over the years. If you have never seen it, feel free to come over to my house and I’ll show it to you. It may surprise you in the same way that it surprised me.

 

Other Notables – Coming to America, Blue Chips, The Goonies, Batman Begins, Emperor’s New Groove, Super 8, Wall-E, Zoolander

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Joseph Valenti

Founder of g33kWatch, Joe is the guy who makes sure nobody hurts themselves. Connect with me on Google+

4 Comments:

  1. My uncle brought a bootleg copy of Sim City 2000 home from his telemarketing job. It was the only thing his computer was good for. (Well, SC2000 and that weird DOS game where your gorillas threw bananas at each other).

    My sister and I played the shit out of that game, and she couldn’t even read. I learned about loans and interest rates from that game. I learned about building credit and interstate commerce. I also learned that hydroelectric power was THE WAY OF THE FUTURE. Um.

    That game was the best. It’s right up there with Mario Kart, for defining my childhood.

    I never knew there were cheat codes for it. o_o;

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    • Sim City 2000 was an amazing game and with the recent failure of the new-age Sim City, it just reinforces how good it was. As you said, it was able to teach you a lot of things, and was just so simple and fun to play. I need to reinstall that at some point =)

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  2. Pingback: Joey V’s Top 50 Movies of All Time | 40 – 31 | g33kWatch

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