Thursday, November 13, 2014

the best of 2014: miscellaneous edition (UPDATED)

UPDATE 12/2:  Items 11-13 have been added.

As 2014 draws to a close (how the hell did THAT happen?), it's time for me to look back and reflect on the wonderful things I discovered.  A few notes before I begin:

  • Not all of these things were first released in 2014, but that's when I first watched/played them.
  • In years past, I've included a photo of/from the thing in question, but for reasons too lengthy and boring to go into here, I'm not doing it this year.  I apologize, but I don't look good bald and I need to keep SOME hair on my fucking head.
  • For the video games, I mention what system we played it on in parentheses and what other systems it's available on if applicable.
  • These aren't in any preferential order.
  • Should something else tickle my fancy (say now!) between now and the end of the year, I'll update this list accordingly.
  • And, as ever, your mileage may vary.

1. The Chase:  In this game show, "The Beast" (Mark Labett), a supersmart British dude, faces off against three contestants to see who will try to beat him in the final round.  It's really fun, and the Beast is all bark and no bite.  He's very gracious and complimentary on the rare occasions he loses.  I actually root for him over the contestants!  (Currently airing on GSN)

2. Breaking Bad:  Walter White is a high school chemistry teacher who's diagnosed with lung cancer.  He gets the idea to make meth in order to leave a tidy sum behind for his family, and he recruits a former student named Jesse Pinkman to help him out.  Walter's got the purest meth in the business, and soon he's rolling in dough, but of course there are complications.  G-Vo and I were latecomers to this series, but it was worth it to be able to queue up another episode immediately after one ended!  The writing and acting are just as phenomenal as you've heard.  Bryan Cranston (Walter) deserves all the awards he received, but I thought Aaron Paul (Jesse) was equally as good.  (Available on DVD and Netflix Instant)

3. True Detective:  Louisiana homicide detectives Rust Cohle and Marty Hart try to track down a serial killer over the span of 17 years.  Like a lot of people, I was disappointed by the ending, but I still thought it was well worth watching, and cynical Rust gets a LOT of great lines.  Also, I never really had an opinion of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson one way or the other before seeing this, but holy crap, they can fucking ACT.  (Available on DVD and HBO Go)

4. Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F:  Rhythm game + Japan's #1 virtual idol + a soundtrack that's catchier than the flu = my idea of hog heaven.  A new one comes out next week, and I can't wait!  (PS3)

5. The Last of Us: Left Behind:  I can't really discuss this DLC without spoiling a ton of stuff.  I'll just say that if you loved The Last of Us and haven't played this yet, what the hell are you waiting for?  The story's terrific, the voice acting is superlative, the action is tense, and Ellie and her friend Riley will break your goddamn heart.  (PS3; it's also available on the remastered PS4 edition)

6. Chozen:  After being released from prison, gay white gangsta rapper Chozen is determined to become a major success and get revenge on the former friend who put him there.  G-Vo and I weren't sure we'd like this show, but it turned out to be hysterically funny.  It only lasted one season, but I'll never forget that Willy Wonka music video.  It doesn't appear to be on DVD at this time, but maybe you can still find reruns on FX. 

7. The Returned:  In this eerie French drama, a group of people come back from the dead, looking exactly like they used to.  But of course, they're not quite normal, and neither is the town.  I would like season 2 now, please.  Not to be confused with the current American TV show Resurrection, which has a similar premise.  (Available on DVD and Netflix Instant)

8. Shark Tank:  On this reality show, aspiring entrepreneurs pitch business ideas and inventions to a panel of megarich investors, hoping to strike a deal.  It's really interesting, and I have a massive crush on Ukrainian fox Robert Herjavec.  (Currently airing on NBC)

9. Candy Crush:  I'd heard a lot about "match 3" phenomenon Candy Crush, so when I finally got an iPhone, I went ahead and downloaded it...and promptly forgot to do anything else for about six months.  It's basically black tar heroin.  I did eventually get tired of it and move on to an equally colorful and addictive competitor called Book of Life: Sugar Smash (based on the animated movie), but it's still fun to play while taking a dump at work.  (Candy Crush can be found on pretty much every phone/tablet ever, as well as online; BoL:SS is only available on the iPhone as far as I know) 

10. The Walking Dead: Season 2:  I wasn't able to give a proper review of this game last month because it would have spoiled the original game, but I'll say it again: if you like zombies in general, the Walking Dead universe in particular, and/or games with great storytelling, look no further.  (XBOX 360; also available on PS3, PS4, PS Vita, and XBOX One)

11. Dead Rising 3:  The second game in this franchise is in my top 10 of all time, so I was anxious to get my hands on it, and it didn't disappoint.  As nice guy mechanic Nick Ramos, you have to round up survivors and get the hell out of Los Perdidos before the government nukes it to contain a zombie outbreak.  There will be blood...and banana hammocks.  (XBOX One; also available on PC)

12. Murdered: Soul Suspect:  After falling to his death from a window, Salem cop Ronan O'Conner has to solve his own murder.  It's not a great game, but it's enjoyable enough to warrant a rental. (PS3; also available on PS4, XBOX360, and XBOX One)

13. Akiba's Trip:  In this delirious love letter to otaku culture, you have to strip "synthisters" (basically vampires) of their clothing in order to expose them to the sun and weaken them.  Trashy, shameful fun.  (PS3; also available on PS4 and PS Vita)