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30 for 50: Celebrating Five Years of Listings

Falselogic

Techno-Threadcromancer
(they/them)
I love Sandman when I read it for the first time nearly twenty years ago. But, I have a hard time separating the art from the artist these days and just the who NG/AP thing is just too much. Just takes over whatever Gaiman work I'm trying to focus on.
 

conchobhar

What's Shenmue?
(he/him/his)
I remember waxing poetic about Calvin & Hobbes, saying it was my #1, and then a couple posts later sharing my list where it was actually my #2 (#1 was Hark! A Vagrant). Whoops.

This was a great list. Fun to make a list for, and fun to watch the results roll in. And one I wouldn't mind taking another crack to include some of the stuff I've read in the years since!
 

Issun

Could be a fren
#15: You Sunk my Scrabbleship! TALKING TIME’S TOP 50 TABLETOP GAMES
Ran from April 10th, 2017 to June 2nd, 2017
Host: JBear (with help from Johnny Unusual)
Top 'O th' Table: Chess

This one is a definite contender for best Top 50 so far. JBear went above and beyond, with he and Johnny doing punny riff photoshoots for each and every game (even the honorable mentions).

One other thing: As I said, I PMed all the previous list runners and asked for the entry they wanted to represent their list, and I respected their wishes.

I am so very, very sorry everyone...







#46 - Solitaire
". . ."

Points: 95 Mentions: 4
# of players: The loneliest number



“Solitaire” is actually a blanket term that covers an entire genre of single-player card games, but none of the Solitaire voters specified any one particular version of the game, so I suspect that these were votes for Klondike, i.e. the world’s greatest enemy to corporate productivity. Feel free to point out otherwise if I’m mistaken, though!

Klondike, like most Solitaire variants, is played with a single 52-card deck of playing cards, with the cards randomly divided into 7 columns, with only the bottom-most (or top-most, if you prefer to think in terms of layering) card of each column directly accessible. The player is then tasked with moving those cards around according to certain stacking rules, with the goal of ultimately sorting them into four ascending ordered piles, one for each suit, starting with the Ace and ending with the King.

I typically think of Solitaire as a way to kill time, rather than something done for fun, although I certainly had a lot of fun with Klondike back when my grandmother first taught it to me at a cabin on a lake during a family summer trip. However, I got sick of it pretty quickly after that, especially once I learned that the game is often literally unwinnable depending upon the initial distribution of the cards. Boy those dancing cards sure showed off the raw horsepower of a Windows 3.1 machine, though, didn’t they?

Anyway, what are Talking Time’s favourite Solitaire variants?

(For anyone looking for a fun modern take on Solitaire, I had a brief but very fun love affair with the 3DS game Pocket Card Jockey, which marries the mechanics of Klondike to horse raising/racing.)

 

Falselogic

Techno-Threadcromancer
(they/them)
The Tabletop Game Top 50 is one of my personal faves. @JBear 's Bertolli aesthetic is really something else. You have to give to a guy who lives the joke.
 

Issun

Could be a fren
He did drop multiple Benjamins on that framed Bertolli print. If that's not dedication to the craft I don't know what is.
 

Daikaiju

Rated Ages 6+
(He, Him)
JBear's games thread is the giant on who's shoulders Drac's toy thread stands.
Personally, my favorite entry introduction was Cards Against Humanity.
 

WildcatJF

I will not be stopping
(he / his / him)
Yeah that was such a good time. I always think of that one as one to aspire to with my own contests, haha.

God I don't remember what I voted for at all tho. Haha.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Yeah, that one took a lot of effort. For a while, we were trying to get in 8 photos for entries a week. Also, I don't know if this is what CAUSED JBear's back to get fucked up, but it certainly was after he had to take a picture based on a pun I suggested.
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
I don't know if this is what CAUSED JBear's back to get fucked up
I don't know either! My back doctor said that it was unlikely. More likely is that it was just the straw that broke the JBear's back, so to speak, but yeah, I've been in chronic pain pretty much ever since, and will be for the rest of my life.

Suffer for your art!

Given infinite time, I'd still like to do Top 50 Star Trek Episodes with a similar treatment. I have a draft document that I throw joke ideas into occasionally (note that this is exactly how the board game list started), so maybe someday!
 

Bulgakov

Yes, that Russian author.
(He/Him)
I don't know either! My back doctor said that it was unlikely. More likely is that it was just the straw that broke the JBear's back, so to speak, but yeah, I've been in chronic pain pretty much ever since, and will be for the rest of my life.
Can't you just olive oil that down?
 

Issun

Could be a fren
#16: Life at 60 FPS: Talking Time’s Top 50 Games of the 21st Century
Ran from June 8th, 2017 to July 14th, 2017
Host: Issun (with a little help from Galadrome)
Top Polygon: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Selected Entry:

#13


They tried to sacrifice me because I have horns.

Developer: SCE Japan Studio
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platforms: Playstation 2
Release: September 24, 2001 (NA), December 6, 2001 (JP), March 22, 2002 (EU)
308 Points, 12 Votes, Highest Rank: #2 (conchobar,
Patrick)




I originally had trouble finding a header image for this post. I wanted the Japanese box art, but I couldn't find a decent one with the name on it. Then I thought: Does this one really need the name on it? Obviously at the time the game came out, none of us in America would have recognized it, because the box art we got was questionable, to put it mildly. Now, with the internet, we've all seen it, and ICO's art has become iconic for gaming as a whole, and not just the box art.

Now I know when games as art gets trotted out like the dying horse it is, ICO is almost always exhibit A. Whether games should be called art is not something I'm going to address here, because like madhair said once, does it even matter? ICO's visuals, though, deserve to be called artistic. So does the way it moves, the way the ambient sounds play about the environment, the way the light and shade play across each other. Games looked nice before, but ICO was the first time a game's aesthetic spoke to my soul. It was a nice introduction to Fumito Ueada's M.O.: make the most aesthetically beautiful thing you possibly can, toss in cerebral, environmental puzzles and a story about two companions helping each other, don't worry too much about the camera, and mix liberally.

Depending on where you stand, ICO may have been surpassed by one, or even both, of its sequels. It was first, though, and a truly unique experience for anyone lucky enough to experience it when it first came out. In fact, most of my favorite games are games I love because of the experience they gave me, and Fumito Ueda was, I think, the first designer to truly appreciate game-as-experience. Many games have leaned on ICO for inspiration. Hidetaka Miyazaki cited it as one of the biggest influences on the Souls games. Truly, gaming in the 21st Century would be much different and, I think, much poorer if it weren't for ICO.

And that is why the image at the top of this post does not have the title in it, because while other games may have been better in the last almost two decades, few have been as important or as iconic.

Let's hear it from conchobhar and Patrick!

conchobhar said:
Fumito Ueda has a unique approach to game design that he calls "design by subtraction": hone in on the core elements of a game, then cut anything deemed superfluous— everything from mechanics to music to dialogue. It's easy to say this makes his games minimalistic, but less remarked upon is the precise, considered design necessary to make it work.

ICO was the first time he put this philosophy to the test, and it remains the purest expression of this ethos. After all, on its surface, ICO is a very basic game: a boy and a girl work together to escape a castle. What makes ICO work is how the stripped-down approach results in the emphasis and interaction of those elements, and how they come together to form a greater whole.

For instance, Ico has no health metre and, no matter how many times he's hit, cannot die; instead, battles are lost when the enemies kidnap Yorda. This one mechanical aspect establishes Ico (unconcerned with his own safety), Yorda (frail), the relationship between the two (protection), the story (enemies are uninterested in you), and does so in a way that's easily translated to a player's experience.. Even the simple act of saving the game is imbued with meaning, as it's contextualized as Ico and Yorda take a quick break on a couch.

ICO has influenced a whole generation of developers, but none have recaptured its tight and purposeful design, nor its more daring and experimental ticks. There are many imitators, but there is only one ICO.
Patrick said:
When I think of ICO, I first think of the emotional core of the game, then of the idyllic, overexposed, ancient castle where it takes place. It has puzzles and some minimal combat, but mostly it's enjoyable because it lets you explore such an amazing space. The story is basically a fairy tale, but it feels timeless. Everything about ICO is excessively simple; the controls are stripped down to the bare minimum and there is almost no dialogue. But ICO is an unusual game. It's not defined by what what is there, but rather by what is missing.

Fumito Ueda, the director of ICO, was an art student who was interested in the study of movement. When he started working at Sony he wanted to make a game like Parappa the Rapper because he was so impressed by its animation, but he didn't think that they would let him make a game like that right off the bat. Instead, he used his experience with animation and CG to make a concept trailer for a game that would eventually become ICO. The game was immediately greenlit. He was influenced by classic Amiga games like Flashback and Out of This World, and he was interested in using AI to collaborate with the player. He also felt that gameplay needed to be simple to reach out to non-gamers, and he resisted attempts to add extra icons and complications. He was concerned with his contemporaries "graduating" from videogames, something that didn't happen with movies and music.

ICO is an important and dear game to me, and I would have included it on this list even if it stopped there. But, it has gone on to influence the industry as a whole in a variety of ways. Directors of games as varied as Demon's Souls, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Uncharted, FEZ, and dozens of indie games were inspired and influenced by ICO. I honestly don't know what sorts of games I would be playing these days if ICO didn't exist. Furthermore, Ueda went on to make Shadow of the Colossus and The Last Guardian, two more classics in their own rights that each iterate on the pattern set down by ICO in different ways. Those games are wonderful, but ICO has always been my favorite one in the series. Ueda stripped away everything unnecessary, what was left was the perfect core of a game.
Selected Track:
Castle in the Mist
 
Last edited:

WildcatJF

I will not be stopping
(he / his / him)
I definitely remember this one! Great list. As was then, Breath of the Wild was my #1, but there's been a fair amount of shakeups to the rest thanks to some great indie and Nintendo games the past couple years...
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Wasn’t that one of the lists where the number one pick wasn’t most peoples top pick, but it was really high on lots of people’s list so it just wound up winning by attrition?
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
Aw man, I forgot that I wrote a little blurb for ICO. That’s really sweet. ICO is my jam.

yeah, that was a fun contest.
 

Issun

Could be a fren
Wasn’t that one of the lists where the number one pick wasn’t most peoples top pick, but it was really high on lots of people’s list so it just wound up winning by attrition?
Kind of. Around 5 people had it at #1, but a lot of people had it on their lists, yes. #2 got more votes total, but it wasn't ranked as high on most lists.

This one was one of my favorite things I've ever done on Talking Time, if not my favorite. As soon as the idea occurred to me, it was one I really wanted to do, and it turned out great. I reread it every once in a while, which is how I knew that this was the list where JBear was convinced to pick up a flash cart for Mother 3. I also just remembered to give Galadrome credit in my post, though he's left TT as well. He helped flesh out the SMT games and Tactics Ogre.

This was where I learned how fun it is, slowly revealing each entry and reading people's reactions. It was also pretty cool that the #1 was not a foregone conclusion at the time. Really, the whole Top 20 was good, with TT eschewing a lot of obvious choices, and that's the best, when our tastes shine through and make the lists a little different from what all the "serious publications" would have. I still intend to play through that Top 20 someday.

This is also a list where I'd really like to see how it would change today. Would Breath of the Wild still be #1? I imagine NieR: Automata and Persona 5 would probably make it on there now, and Bloodborne would probably have ended up higher. The 5 games I can say that I didn't have on my submission that I would today: NieR: Automata, Uncharted 2, A Link Between Worlds, Inside and either Super Mario Galaxy 2 or Demon's Souls. And that's not including stuff that has come out since the list happened.
 

BEAT

LOUDSKULL
(DUDE/BRO)
I still think about BOTW on a daily basis.

P5 is violence upon the soul and has only become a more heinous pox upon our world with age.
 

Issun

Could be a fren
#17: The Top 50 Mario and Mario-likes: Geno is Over (originally Some Geno)
Ran from July 23rd, 2017 to August 24th, 2017
Host: Lokii
Top Geno: Luigi

Here's another example of the host going all out. Lokii produced over 70 drawings for this in the span of a month, and all of them were great. As for the entry I selected, I tried not to pick #1s unless the host specifically chose that entry, but the Luigi entry encapsulates what this list was all about so perfectly, I had to go with it.

Selected (by me) Entry:

#1 Luigi
First Appearance: Mario Bros. 1983
645 points, 22 nominations



Look at that. Six Hundred and Forty Five points. That's got to be a record. So why does everyone love Luigi while Mario gets left in the dust? Because while Mario is the main character and a global icon he's got to remain pretty bland for maximum identification. Meanwhile as second-fiddle Luigi gets to be a real character and boy is he a great way. At some point Nintendo decided to take his Player-Twoyness and build off that. Luigi is a weakling scardy cat who can't do anything right but has the purest pure heart of gold and it's wonderful. He's relatable and human in a way Mario can never be. A guy who tries his best and is pretty much content to live in the shadow of someone more successful. We all love Luigi because in many ways we are all Luigi.

My favorite Luigi moment is when he gets a ghost dog as a pet, but my second favorite is in Mario & Luigi 2, near the end of the game, where the brothers have to pass by a Star Gate. The Gate demands they show their inner strength of character and of course Mario passes easily pretty much a default. However, when the Gate looks into Luigi's heart it gets disturbed and mentions "an incident." Luigi immediately flips out and tries to deflect from said incident but the Gate says that he's got to do such-and-such task to make up for his past unmentionable transgression. This task makes up the level, and you do the thing (hitting switches or something I forget). Upon returning to the Star Gate it informs you that it was just having a laff and not only does Luigi not harbor some horrible secret, but that his heart is by far the most pure and selfless the Gate has ever seen.

That's wonderful and Luigi's wonderful.

Thanks everyone for reading this list and voting for this list and indulging my drawings of stupid video game characters. You made this Top 50 great fun and I love you all. You're the best! Here's the full list for your perusal. And while you're looking at that, me and Bulgakov (and others) got together to make a special finale "treat" for all of you. Please enjoy. *bows*

 

Issun

Could be a fren
#18: Bits come in, music comes out: Talking Time’s Top 50 Video Game Soundtracks
Ran from September 6th, 2017 to October 11th, 2017
Hosts: Positronic Brain and conchobhar
Top Bleep Bloop: Chrono Trigger

Selected (by me) Entry:

#3 — Katamari Damacy
475 points • 18 mentions • Highest rank: #3 (Büge, Gringr, Kirin)

Featured Track:

Lonely Rolling Star

Que Sera Sera
Katamari on the Rocks
The Moon and the Prince

Composed by:

Yuu Miyake
Asuka Sakai
Akitaka Tohyama
Yoshihito Yano
Yuri Misumi
Hideki Tobeta

Platform: Playstation 2 • Release date: March 18, 2004
Let's roll up to be a single star in the sky

Na naa, na na na na na na, na na na na na na…

As soon as you hear that, you know you're in for something different.

"Katamari Nah-Nah", as it's officially known, is how the game opens. On the face of it, it seems like a curious decision; where most games would entice the player with something mysterious and intriguing, or grab them by immediately blasting something exciting, Katamari Damacy opts for… a man humming. And yet, it's undeniably charming. It's a strange way to introduce what would become an iconic theme— but, well, Katamari is strange.

The theme immediately re-appears as the grand and celebratory "Katamari on the Rocks", to score the pre-title movie; and finally, it receives a gentle piano rendition in the title screen theme, "Overture".
The repetition can be seen as a way of hammering home "Nah-Nah", but with three wildly different variations on the same melody, it also serves to hint at the variety of the music to come.

Katamari Damacy's soundtrack draws upon a huge swath of genres, including j-pop, electronic, jazz, lounge, samba and rap. It's an eclectic mixture, and yet nothing feels out of place; partly because the game inherently lends itself to a zany and unpredictable soundtrack, but also because the music is tied together with a common subject matter and general silliness.

But don't take that silliness to mean Miyake and company just tossed the songs out! Miyake's guiding motive was to make music that sounded "familiar, but not trendy", so they wouldn't feel immediately dated. To accomplish this, the soundtrack takes classic genres and puts them in a new light. Songs like "Que Sera Sera" and "Gin and Tonic and Red Red Roses" take lounge and jazz and coat them in a glossy pop sheen. On the other end is "The Moon and the Prince", which is a fairly standard j-pop song that incorporates rapped vocals and faux-disc scratching. The culmination of this melding of American and Japanese music is surely "Cherry Tree Times",
which— according to Miyake— is essentially a 70s American sitcom theme reworked into a faux-Japanese folk song.

Of course, there's more at play than just an East-meets-West sensibility. "WANDA WANDA" is an electronic track built entirely around a vocoder-distorted phrase— wanda, as the title suggests— repeated endlessly, like a pastiche of Daft Punk's "Around the World". Meanwhile, the King of All Cosmos' theme, "Fugue #7777", is done purely with vocalizations, making it both grand and silly— perfect for the kind of character he is. And closing the game is "Katamari of Love",
a grand, heartfelt ballad that references the main theme. It's cheesy as all get out, but for a game— and soundtrack— like this, that's actually a positive; it fully embraces the cheese and makes for a truly emotional closer… that it plays as you roll the countries of the world into a katamari is the icing on the cake.

Our featured track is "Lonely Rolling Star". Is it a coincidence that the Tyrant favourite is the song that plays on the first stage you can roll up humans? I'd wager no. At least, that's why it resonates so strongly for me: the moment I rolled up my first human is the moment that Katamari Damacy's concept revealed itself to me for the absurd horror it truly is. That that moment is scored by an upbeat, encouraging song makes it a truly unforgettable moment. You're lonely rolling star!

Aside from the main theme, "Lonely Rolling Star" was the breakout hit of the game (so to speak). It appeared (unchanged) in Me & My Katamari; was remade into "Sayonara Rolling Star" in Beautiful Katamari; and Katamari Forever featured two versions: a remix of "Sayonara" and another new take in "Lonely Rolling No More".
Truly, "Rolling" is what Katamari's all about.

~ conchobhar
 

Issun

Could be a fren
Chrono Trigger was my soundtrack #1. Not remembering my Mario #1...
My #1 Mario was Booster from Mario RPG, which I was tempted to put as that list's entry, but the Luigi one was just too good.

My #1 Soundtrack was Chrono Cross. Still the exemplar of video game music.

In fact, it was often tempting to put my #1, where it ranked and the host did not respond, as the representative for that list, but I only gave in once, and I doubt anyone can blame me for that one.
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
I had Final Fantasy 4 as my top soundtrack and the Kuribo's shoe wearing Goomba as my favorite Mario character.
 

Positronic Brain

Out Of Warranty
(He/him)
Writing this list was a lot of fun, and I'm so glad conchobhar offered to help me run it because it was a _lot_ of work. I really enjoyed the collaborative process in this one.

It's also the one list I'd like to rerun, just to see how high Sayonara Wild Hearts would place.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
My tabletop games list was weird. Not only was I stretching to come up with 25 since I hadn't played a ton of them lately, it looks like I front-loaded my off-kilter picks just for the heck of it. King's Blood??? Trias is actually pretty good though.

My 21st century vidya picks were more standard, with FFXII on top, then Valkyria Chronicles. Suprised TWEWY, Retro Game Challenge, and Bravely Default didn't make the top 50 though!

For Mario characters I once again went maverick, purposely leaving off the main playable cast entirely. Most of my list still made the final though. But I was glad Pile-Driver Micro Goomba got a runner-up shout-out.

Soundtracks was back to beloved masterpieces, topped by Chrono Cross, Legend of Mana, and Katamari. Bravely Default and TWEWY got robbed again though. Also Link Between Worlds and Suiko III are full of good stuff.
 

Kishi

Little Waves
(They/Them)
Staff member
Moderator
Still brings a smile to my face that Loki drew Friendly Floyd.


 
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