October 2018 in Summary: 2018’s Home Stretch

Hope you all enjoyed Halloween! I have to admit I didn’t do much, but watching these horror films at the last minute was a lot of fun. Too bad I didn’t think to review a survival horror game, huh?


Films watched in October 2018:

In theaters:

  • A Star is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)
  • First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)
  • The Hate U Give (George Tillman Jr., 2018)
  • The Old Man & the Gun (David Lowery, 2018)
  • Halloween (David Gordon Green, 2018)

At home:

  • Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)
  • Tokyo Story (Yasujirō Ozu, 1953)
  • Stray Dog (Akira Kurosawa, 1949)
  • Giant (George Stevens, 1956)
  • The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957)
  • Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978)
  • Kwaidan (Masaki Kobayashi, 1965)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven, 1984)

The films I’ve seen in October have been, for the most part, very good watches. A Star is Born managed to shock skeptics everywhere when it turned out that A) Bradley Cooper can direct and B) Lady Gaga can act. See why it doesn’t pay to jump the gun, critics? Next, First Man managed to shed some light on a story many Americans take for granted by now. It hammers home that, at the time, nobody was thinking “I’m going to make history”; the potential consequences were staring at them in the face for the entire mission.

After that, I saw The Hate U Give, which is the second-best film I’ve seen in theaters this year behind Leave No Trace. I hope authors writing about social issues are paying attention to both the film and the book because that story has something many of them lack: empathy. Actually caring about where your audience is coming from goes a long way. Now, don’t be fooled by the fact that The Old Man & the Gun and the 2018 Halloween are highlighted in yellow; I still mostly enjoyed them – just not quite enough to give them straight recommendations.

Meanwhile, at home, I managed to get around to viewing various films I had discovered some time ago, yet didn’t get around to for some reason. Persona is a great example of an art film that knows where cleverness ends and pretentiousness begins. Tokyo Story is one of the country’s hallmarks alongside films such as Ugetsu and Rashomon. While I didn’t like it as much as those two films, there’s no denying that it’s an essential watch. Stray Dog, meanwhile, managed to be a far superior effort compared to the disappointing The Bad Sleep Well, being a rare Asian film noir. On that note, I enjoyed The Cranes Are Flying much more than I did Nostalghia, the latter of which was the first Soviet film I watched. As it turns out, having a comprehensible story with interesting characters counts for a lot. Who knew?

Then, because I realized I didn’t bother writing anything Halloween-related this month, I finally took it upon myself to watch, well, Halloween. As I said in my feature, it’s a lot like Animal House in that it inspired an entire subgenre and can claim to fall under that “original and still the best” clause that tends to get thrown around too often in film criticism.

The following week, I felt it appropriate to round out October with an entire Halloween-themed Reel Life feature. After seeing the 2018 Halloween, I decided to watch Kwaidan, a film that draws on Japanese folklore. It’s a lot like The Twilight Zone in how it’s divided into vignettes – each of which tell a story to enforce a poignant message. Finally, to cap things off, I took the plunge and saw the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. Long story short, it’s a film that encapsulates the best and worst aspects of its scene.

And, of course, it bears mentioning that the clear winner this time around was George Stevens’s epic Western drama Giant. Whenever the general public expresses displeasure with a critically acclaimed film, fans are quick to rush to its defense. One fallacious, yet distressingly common argument I see is the film didn’t give them what they expected. I am going to point to my experiences watching Giant as to why that defense is untenable. Going into it blind, I assumed Giant would be an action-packed Western somehow stretching past the three-hour mark. What I got was a slice-of-life film that takes place over several decades and deals with many social issues. The result? I quickly considered it one of the best films I’d ever seen. I’m going to hypothesize that in most of these cases, the audiences didn’t like the film in question because they genuinely didn’t enjoy it. They could have varying reasons why they didn’t like it, but it’s incorrect to assume it’s because they’re stupid or lack culture.


Games reviewed in October 2018:

I could joke around by saying this is unequivocally the best-looking screenshot from Nerves of Steel, but the problem is that such a remark wouldn’t be a joke.

Nerves of Steel (Rainmaker Software, 1995)

Hey, it’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed an irredeemably bad game, hasn’t it? I certainly picked a winner because I have little doubt that Nerves of Steel is, as of this writing, the single worst PC game I’ve ever played. Ever wondered what would happen if Call of Duty: Ghosts was made in 1995 by some of the most miserably incompetent coders to have ever programmed a game? No? Well, I feel the end result would be very similar to Nerves of Steel. It may not be as bad as some of the other terrible games I’ve played – I would rather play this again than Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or Metal Morph, but it is the worst game I’ve played this year, and I doubt anything I play in the foreseeable future will top (bottom?) it. Like Isle of the Dead before it, I’m not lying when I say the only fun I had with Nerves of Steel was when I deleted it.

For the best effect, imagine I had “I’m Free” by The Who playing in the background as I did this.

King’s Quest: Quest for the Crown (Sierra, 1984)

For that matter, it’s also been some time since I’ve talked about Sierra games. I reviewed The Colonel’s Bequest and Police Quest all the way back in 2015, yet I never quite got around to talking about their sequels for some reason. Being some of my earliest reviews, I’ll likely rewrite them somewhere down the line. As for King’s Quest, I feel it is, at this point, more of an adventure game style guide. It or its remakes can be played by newcomers to learn what an adventure game entails, and it wouldn’t be a bad one to start with because of that. However, even if it hasn’t aged as poorly as other games from its era, it’s still pretty bland by modern standards.

King’s Quest II: Romancing the Throne (Sierra, 1985)

As much as critics like to complain about token sequels these days, they were even more of a problem back in the eighties. In fact, between games such as Ultima II and King’s Quest II, the eighties were a time in which token sequels had a reasonable chance of being outright bad rather than merely uninspired. But there’s no getting around it – King’s Quest II was my introduction to adventure games, and I have to say it was (and still is) a spectacularly bad one to start with. Between its fickle text parser, persistent random encounters, and boring world design, King’s Quest II doesn’t really have anything practical going for it at all. It served its purpose in that it allowed the series to continue, eventually producing a true classic seven years later. Once the series gained momentum, it was rendered obsolete.

Super Mario World (Nintendo, 1990)

Though it may not have the same quantity of levels, I feel Super Mario World edges out Super Mario Bros. 3 because its stages are more elaborately designed on top of providing a more solid solo experience. Mario fans may not have provided a definitive consensus as to which one is better, but I feel you shouldn’t put too much thought into which one you should play. Both are all-time classics that have stood the test of time magnificently. Super Mario World itself is a lot like A Link to the Past in that later side-scrolling installments would try, and ultimately fail, to grasp what made it so good. Maybe it was the secret paths within the secret paths. Perhaps Yoshi’s introduction left a profound impact on us all. Either way, the way Super Mario World was originally received would foreshadow how the series would fare in the coming decades. A noisy vocal minority would claim Mario is old hat only to have egg on their faces a few years later when the series proved it has many more tricks up its sleeves. Don’t they ever get tired of being wrong all the time?

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (Nintendo, 1995)

Yoshi’s Island is notable for having started a subseries of its own starring the titular dinosaur in the lead role. It’s quite a bit different from Nintendo’s other series. Most Nintendo series had decent debut installments, but wouldn’t achieve a level of true greatness until a few installments in. That’s not the case with Yoshi; his first game reigns supreme over the sequels. In fact, this is yet another case in which my conclusion changed gears roughly halfway through writing the review. Originally, I was going to give Yoshi’s Island an 8/10 while still claiming it to be better than Super Mario World, yet when I typed it out, I realized I couldn’t give it anything less than a 9/10. It and Donkey Kong Country 2 are some of the greatest 2D platforming games of all time, providing disparate challenges for every single one of its stages. It was one of the first SNES games I played (I played it long before Super Mario World, in fact), and it’s still just as fresh and original now as it was back in 1995.


Featured articles:

Undertale by Matt @ Nintendobound – As his avatar and blog’s namesake suggest, Matt is quite the fan of Earthbound. It was therefore quite fun to read his take on Undertale, which is a fantastic indie game that took many cues from the Earthbound/Mother trilogy.

Metal Gear (NES): I Feel Asleep by Hundstrasse – Even if it’s not as good as the MSX2 original, the success of the NES port of Metal Gear inspired Konami to make a follow up in the form of Snake’s Revenge. From there, the series blossomed into quite a force that lasted for a few decades until Konami pulled the plug on their credibility in the mid-2010s. I enjoyed seeing what Hundstrasse had to say about it.

Mega Man X8 Review by Scott @ The Wizard Dojo –Scott over at The Wizard Dojo took it upon himself to review every game in the Mega Man X series. The series had its highs and lows from the classic original game to the super-terrible seventh installment. Congrats on talking about every single one!

Friday the 13th’s Virtual Cabin and Challenges by Matt @ The3rdPlayer – I liked reading a Friday the 13th fan’s take on the official video game that dropped some time back. Even if the execution lacked polish, the idea of pitting one player as the movie monster against a team of civilians is quite a viable one.

Dear Video Games – The Witcher 3 Review by mchotstuff – This review of The Witcher 3 was quite interesting to read, being presented like a letter to the game itself. I really should check this game out at some point…

Top 5 Modern Co-Op Games by brinkofgaming – The Brink of Gaming talks about five games that are something of a rarity in this era of gaming. Many games don’t have local multiplayer let alone same-room co-op modes.


Still to come:

Okay, this month, I’m going to change things up a bit. I am officially retiring the Reel Life segments in favor of writing individual film reviews. I’m doing this for one of two reasons. The first is that my assessments have been getting longer, so I feel making them into full-fledged reviews wouldn’t be that much of a stretch. Secondly, I want my opinions of these films to be a bit more professional in tone. I’ve enjoyed writing my informal thoughts, but I’ve basically been saying the same things across multiple segments, so I’m going to try to focus entirely on the films themselves rather than talk at length about how I got into them. Because of this, they will be edited in the same way I edit my game reviews. Furthermore, I could end up talking about films that I didn’t see recently, which will be cleared up in the monthly update post.

I realize that’s going to make my posts less predictable, so I’ve worked out a solution. To begin with, game reviews will still be posted on Sundays. In a given week, I tend to see anywhere from two to five films, so I’ll be posting more frequently. Going into a new work week, I will have a good idea of what I’m going to accomplish, so on my Twitter account (found here), I will post my itinerary every Monday.

And on that note, I already have my November lineup prepared. My first piece is already finished and ready to go. It will be a review of the obscure |(for a VERY good reason)| Anubis II. After that, I will finally review Metroid: Samus Returns. Once that is completed, I will talk about King’s Quest III to continue this mini-retrospective. Finally, to cap things off, I will review the highly influential Super Mario 64.


Links to my reviews:

Links to my other posts:

19 thoughts on “October 2018 in Summary: 2018’s Home Stretch

  1. I would have rioted if Yoshi’s Island received 8/10. So you saved yourself a flame war there, sonny Jim! If it’d been 7/10… we’re talking lawsuits here. As we all know, review scores are a matter of life and death. For some reason.

    I might do a fake review of Red Dead Redemption 2 and give it 3/10: “Not enough red for my liking.” Boom! Double my traffic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hooray! Though knowing my track record when it comes to heresy, I’ve probably only saved myself for about a couple of weeks at most. Review scores are a matter of life and death because the internet says so and since when has the internet ever been wrong about anything?

      Funny you should say that. I myself wrote a real review of The Last of Us and gave it a 3/10. I even made sure to point out that the title doesn’t make much sense. I don’t think it doubled my traffic, though.

      Liked by 1 person

        • After looking through some of their articles, I’m inclined to agree with you. I can’t seem to figure out how they reached half their conclusions. They did declare Majora’s Mask the greatest game of all time, which is nice, but otherwise, their articles don’t seem particularly interesting.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yeah, they piqued my interest when they gave Breath of the Wild 3/5. Then whenever there’s a big release (like with Dunkirk in cinemas – 1/5) they take a different “slant” on things.

            But the reviews are a bit flat. It’s just funny as they always cause total outrage whenever they do their lower-than-average reviews.

            Liked by 1 person

            • You know, having written more than a few contrarian reviews myself, I try to respect the opinions of others, but those conclusions just seem crass. They honestly believe Dunkirk is on the same level as something like Battlefield Earth? Furthermore, the score they gave Breath of the Wild makes no sense given that was on their own list of the 100 greatest games of all time. Also, that list was structured strangely. A screenshot from The Last of Us adorns the top of that list, so I was expecting it to be #1 or in the top 10. Instead, it was ranked 15th. It seems strange that they’d pick a randomly placed game to represent the list.

              I suppose it does get people talking about them, but it comes across as a terrible long-term strategy. It’s not going to make people take their opinions seriously when they’re clearly so lackadaisical about how they go about expressing them.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Yeah, I questioned the Breath of the Wild thing at the end of the year. The reasoning was that’s what the reviewer gave it, which the rest of the publication didn’t necessarily agree with… which is stupid.

                I’m trying to work out if it’s a clickbait strategy… or the publication is just horribly pretentious. Regardless, I visit once a month to catch up on the carnage and enjoy.

                Liked by 1 person

  2. I had never heard of Nerves of Steel and I ended up missing that review (I will try to check it out later), but I just checked some screens and it does look quite horrible. I am not surprised it plays as terribly as it looks.

    I am looking forward to those full-fledged movie reviews you are going to start writing.

    And thanks for the mention. I am glad I finally got to play Undertale, and I am happy the review was good enough to get a spot on your monthly summary.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s hideous to look at and at least twice as painful to actually play if you can believe that. It’s for the best it and the company that made it fell into obscurity.

      Thanks! I’ve been throwing this idea around for a while, and now that I’ve gotten some practice in, I think I’m ready.

      Yup! It was interesting reading the review from the perspective of a big Earthbound fan. I myself played all three games of the Earthbound trilogy in 2011, so it was interesting seeing what someone who has been a fan of the Earthbound trilogy from the beginning thought of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Cranes Are Flying is a great film, worth it for that amazing single take shot of the girl getting off the bus and running down the street that ends in a (pardon the pun) crane shot, alone!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah good, I’m glad I’m not the only one who saw that film. It really is good, isn’t it? I thought it was fascinating seeing the Second World War unfold from the Soviets’ perspective. It’s quite a bit different from Western productions at the time, which tended to have triumphant tones. It stands to reason; they suffered far more losses than the United States.

      Like

  4. I look forward to reading the Metroid and King Quest 3 reviews. Reel Life is changing? I liked the bite sized format, but can understand why someone who writes in depth reviews would want to post longer movie articles. Not sure how you manage to watch so many films in a week and write so much. You are better at planning out your time than I am.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have good news: my Metroid: Samus Returns review is already completed and I’ve made significant headway in my King’s Quest III review already.

      And yes, I’m writing actual film reviews now. I did it for a number of reasons; I was getting tired of saying the same things over and over again, I felt changing gears between vastly different films in the same article was jarring, and I wanted to focus on the films themselves rather than (just) how I got into them. There’s not always an interesting story behind how I discovered these films, though I may bring the experience of watching the films up in the closing paragraphs if they are indeed noteworthy. Also, this gives me the opportunity to talk about films I saw quite some time ago (such as District 9, the very first film I formally reviewed). So far, they’re not as long as my game reviews, which makes sense because I find that reviewing gameplay is usually much more complicated than reviewing narratives and films obviously only have one of those things.

      As for how I manage to write so much, I have to admit it’s because I have a job that allows me to write these reviews during slow periods. That right there lessens the workload significantly. Still, it’s not easy, so I thank you for your words of encouragement.

      Liked by 1 person

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