My Top 10 Fave Cartoons To Date

So, once again, my fiance has issued me a Top 10 challenge. As you can see, this one will cover ten of my favorite cartoons up to this point in my life. I will say that I don’t normally think of these as topping each other, but for the sake of this list I tried my best to put things in a suitable order. Oh, and as a reminder, this list is based on my personal opinion and involves shows I’ve seen either all or enough of to consider putting here. I know everyone’s favorites differ, so feel free to share yours in the comments. Now, let’s start this countdown!

10. Ruby Gloom

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I had to include this show on the list for how cute and charming it is. If it wasn’t evident from the cast of characters, “Ruby Gloom” is a gothic-esque kids show that focuses on the group’s friendships. I love Ruby and every one of her friends for how different their personalities are whether they’re separated or together. The show also has great visuals and good doses of humor to boot. “Ruby Gloom” may be long over, but it’s criminally underrated and easily the best Canadian-made show I’ve seen in years.

9. The Fairly OddParents/Danny Phantom

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Even though I know “The Fairly OddParents” is still going (and isn’t as good as it once was), I still have fond memories of watching the show alongside episodes of “Danny Phantom.” Both shows have great senses of humor, but I also love how different they are. Timmy, Cosmo and Wanda get to have kooky, often nonsensical adventures and the use of magic allows for a lot of creativity. Meanwhile, Danny, Sam and Tucker get slightly more serious and very action-packed adventures with awesome ghost baddies to deal with. It’s cool how Butch Hartman created both and yet easily managed to make each show unique.

8. Lilo & Stitch: The Series

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As much as I liked “Aladdin: The Series” back in the day, I’d be remiss if I left this continuation of my favorite Disney movie off this list. “Lilo & Stitch: The Series” took the concept from the sequel film of finding the rest of Jumba’s experiments and turned each episode into a hunt for them. Many had a moral attached, but I loved how unique each experiment was in both their designs and abilities. Plus, I can’t get enough of Lilo, Stitch, and the gang, so this show was for me from the very start. I’d easily say it’s my favorite TV adaptation of a Disney movie yet.

7. Batman: The Animated Series

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What else can I say about this show that I haven’t already said? It’s still my favorite superhero cartoon (even though “Earth’s Mightiest” is pretty cool too) and is what got me into other serious cartoons like “Gargoyles.” To this day, I still consider Kevin Conway and Mark Hamill to be the most iconic portrayals of Batman and the Joker. As much as I’ve enjoyed the movie versions, these animated versions are who I think of when I picture those two characters. And who could forget the brilliant inclusion of Harley Quinn? This show was chock-full of great villains, a moody atmosphere, and many memorable episodes.

6. Kim Possible

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As much as I liked other girl-driven cartoons like “The Powerpuff Girls” (the original series) and “Pepper Ann,” this show always felt kinda similar to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” for me. Well, only with a lot more goofiness and spy gadgets. I loved that although Kim often got a lot of focus as the lead, her sidekick/best friend-turned-boyfriend Ron still got his fair share of butt-kicking in as well. They were one of the best duos I’d seen in a cartoon and their enemies were often equal parts silly and threatening. For being a Disney show not based on an existing movie, this was everything I could’ve hoped for.

5. Avatar: The Last Airbender

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I know people still tend to forgot this show’s not an anime, but I think that’s a testament to just how good it is both from an animation and story standpoint. It knows just when to balance the humor with the more dramatic moments, and I enjoyed seeing how each of the main characters grew as the series went on. The animation is just gorgeous and leads itself well for when fight scenes occur, and they’re never hard to follow either. The whole use of elements is a neat idea and the world-building that’s set up within the show’s three seasons is really well done. Honestly, compared to the likes of real anime I’ve watched such as “Pokemon” or “Sailor Moon,” “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is far more entertaining to me.

4. The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show

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This is easily the most nostalgic entry on this list and for good reason. Without “The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show,” I might’ve never gotten into and enjoyed “Tiny Toon Adventures” and even “Animaniacs.” The Looney Tunes are still a staple in cartoon history and these series of shorts compiled into episodes is how I came to fall in love with them (especially Bugs, Daffy, and Wile E. Coyote). Even before I started to understand some of the more adult jokes, I liked the slapstick and getting to know each character’s personality. I feel like it may have helped shape my taste in humor and lead me to enjoy stuff like sketch comedy and improv skits. In my mind, it deserves to be in the top 5 for that alone.

3. Steven Universe

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Now we get to something more modern. “Steven Universe” is one of my favorite ongoing shows, though it did take me time to warm up to it at first. This was mainly due to it having a slower, fluffier start like “Adventure Time” did. But as the show went on, I enjoyed it more and more. The animation, especially during battles, is awesome and I love the Crystal Gems as both characters and concepts. The humor and plots can sometimes be hit or miss, but the show’s charm keeps bringing me back again and again. And I never thought I’d say this, but I adore most of the songs that pop up from time to time. It’s sometimes hard to incorporate songs into cartoons without them coming off cringe-y or obnoxious, but this show is pretty good at avoiding that. It may be the only cartoon on this list I’m currently watching, but “Steven Universe” is a show I’d highly recommend.

2. The Simpsons

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If you’ve read other entries of my blog, you know this was bound to be on the list. And yes, I know “The Simpsons” is not nearly as good as it once was (though I did enjoy the 2007 movie), but it holds a special place in my heart. Sure, the nostalgia of watching it during my childhood is a big factor, but I’ve always loved how the Simpsons as a family had a lot of heart. No matter how many plots involved Homer screwing up, Bart causing trouble, Lisa fighting for a good cause, or Marge trying out a new job/hobby, they always came together in the end and felt like a family. It’s for this reason I can’t stand shock humor “family” shows like “Family Guy” or “American Dad.” Granted, the Simpson family has had many missteps in these more recent seasons, and the show really does need to end some day. But despite “The Simpsons” being hit and miss now, I’ll always look back on those times when I regularly watched it with fond memories.

1. Gravity Falls

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“Gravity Falls” is, in my mind, the closest I’ve seen a cartoon come to being perfect. From the very first episode, this show hooked me and didn’t let go. And as it went on, I wanted to know all the secrets creator Alex Hirsch had up his sleeve. The show’s visual style sucked me in from the beginning, but it was the characters and interesting stories that made me stick around. The mystery element also had me intrigued, as not only was it a fun mystery to theorize about and follow, but it was also something I couldn’t recall seeing in a cartoon before. At least, not so thoroughly. For all their faults, I loved following Dipper, Mabel, Stan and the others and watching them deal with one weird situation after another. Oh, and I have to applaud Disney XD for not only letting Alex Hirsch end the show on his terms, but for also allowing him to include dark, crazy stuff like Bill Cipher in it. Even after the show ended, I was still obsessed to the point of wanting the book edition of Journal #3 and followed along online as people participated in Alex’s scavenger hunt last summer. To sum up, “Gravity Falls” is now what I picture when I think of not just a great modern cartoon but a great cartoon period.

And those are my picks for my top 10 favorite cartoons! Agree? Disagree? Again, feel free to say so in the comments. There are so many more I could’ve included, but I feel this list best reflects my taste in cartoons. Until next week!

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My Top 10 Fave Movies of 2016

Last year wasn’t all that big for me in terms of movies. I’m pretty sure I saw just under 20 new films throughout 2016. Thankfully, most of those ranged from great to okay with very few actual bad ones in between. And since I wanted to follow up my last blog with something lighter, I figured I’d count down my personal 10 favorite movies I saw. And I do mean MY favorites. You can disagree all you want, but this list is not based off of the quality of a movie or how well it did. These picks are solely based on which movies entertained me the most. Though, considering most of them were either animated flicks or based on comic books, it was a pretty easy to narrow down.

Before we start, however, I have a few honorable mentions for some movies I just thought were okay at best: “X-Men: Apocalypse”, which had some nice character moments, “The Secret Life of Pets”, which I went in expecting to hate but found it surprisingly decent, and “Deepwater Horizon”, which was an alright if unmemorable drama.

And now we get to the list proper. Here are my 10 favorite movies of 2016!

10. Ghostbusters (2016)

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I know there’s a lot of hate for this movie, but let me explain. While I enjoyed the original Ghostbusters movies, I never thought of myself as a huge fan of them or anything else Ghostbusters-related. So, when it was announced that an all-female version was being  made, I didn’t care. And when I finally saw the movie, I thought it was just okay. The humor was a letdown and the cast could’ve been utilized way better, but it was an alright story and the horror aspects weren’t too bad either. But would I watch it again? Probably not, and that’s why it’s so low on this list. Not good, not bad, just plain okay.

9. Kung Fu Panda 3

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I almost forgot I’d even seen this movie until I was choosing films for this list. That’s not to say it was bad, but compared to the first and even second “Kung Fu Panda” films, it didn’t come across as memorable to me. However, there were still plenty of things to like. The animation continues to be great and there are plenty of good humorous moments that we’ve come to expect from this franchise. The actors did fine jobs and I enjoyed Bryan Cranston as Po’s father, though I still lament the fact that Jackie Chan once again barely has any lines in this. Seriously, what’s the point of that? I guess my only fear at this point is that this IS a franchise and I’m hoping Dreamworks won’t run it completely into the ground.

8. Kubo and the Two Strings

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As I said earlier, a good chunk of the movies I saw last year were animated. But even with all that competition, Laika’s latest still made it to my list for its sheer creativity. I already did a full-length review, so I won’t go into too much detail here. Needless to say, while I still prefer “ParaNorman” overall, “Kubo” had some fun twists and turns mixed in with stylized animation. It did occasionally use some cliches and I had to get used to Matthew McConaughey’s performance, but it’s the one animated film I felt was sorely overlooked last year. I still recommend checking it out.

7. Deadpool

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Oh, I can just hear the disagreements already about this being so low on my list. First off, I like the concept of Deadpool and I think Ryan Reynolds has done a great job bringing him to life. But while the movie was fun and easily one of the most entertaining “X-Men” universe films to date, the humor was a bit hit and miss with me at times. There’s only so much meta and sex humor I can find funny before it becomes either annoying or tedious. It also doesn’t help that I’ve barely read any Deadpool comics, so I’m not as big of a fan of him as others are. Still, given that this movie could’ve easily bombed based on many, many factors, I’m glad it exists to give Deadpool fans a live-screen incarnation they can be proud of. The less said about that awful, off-the-mark version in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, the better.

6. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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I like the original “Star Wars” trilogy. I’ve even found aspects of the prequels I enjoyed, and while “The Force Awakens” retread similar ground from the original films, I still found it fun and loved the new characters. Despite all that, “Rogue One” was something I didn’t initially have a major urge to see. But before the year ended, I gave it a watch and was glad I did. I’m a sucker for any kind of story that fills in the blanks of an ongoing one, so this appealed to me right away. Throw in some interesting supporting characters, a bunch of great action scenes and a once again scary Darth Vader, and I was invested until the very end. Sure, there was a lot of exposition at times and the characters, especially the main two, could’ve been fleshed out a bit more. But even with its flaws, it managed to essentially be the best prequel in this series so far. I would gladly see more spin-offs in this universe if they have good stories to tell.

5. Zootopia

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Yes, “Zootopia” marks the halfway point of this list. Once again, that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. Far from it, in fact. Besides the usual great Disney animation and spunky characters, this movie’s main draw for me was its message of tolerance. I think Disney was bold tackling prejudice and racism, and this is a movie I would gladly show kids to enforce just how important those issues are while still entertaining them. So why is it only at #5? Well, aside from minor things like some jokes not clicking with me, I found it pushed the issues a little TOO hard at times. Maybe I’ll feel differently on a second viewing, but to be fair, Disney’s movies were competing hard for my attention last year. And that brings me to my next entry.

4. Finding Dory

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I was honestly nervous when this movie was announced. I loved everything about “Finding Nemo” and knew a sequel was bound to happen eventually. What I didn’t expect was it to center on Dory, played by Ellen Degeneres. Now, I enjoyed Dory. She was hilarious. But she’s also the type of character that could easily get annoying in large doses. Thankfully, once I saw this movie, those fears were quelled. While Dory walked the line at times of potentially being annoying, she carried this movie far better than I expected. I especially loved the scenes with her as a child, and that the movie delved deep into her short term memory loss in a respectable and not always humorous way. They could’ve easily kept this as a “Finding Nemo 2.0” sort of story, but I’m glad they didn’t. This one might’ve pulled at my heartstrings a little more than “Zootopia”, but they both deserved the top 5.

3. Doctor Strange

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Marvel Studios over the years, it’s that even obscure characters can have a chance to shine. Beyond the Avengers, they pulled me in with “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Ant-Man,” and they did it again last year with “Doctor Strange.” I know many people thought Benedict Cumberbatch was too obvious for the role, but I’m glad he was chosen. This movie was a treat for the eyes as well, even if I only watched it in 2D. While the humor sometimes felt unnecessary, it was fun watching Strange mature throughout the film, and I felt it kept him from coming off like just another Tony Stark. I love the fact that magic is now a part of this universe, and I can’t wait to see what else they do with it. This movie has only shown me that Marvel is capable of making me interested in characters I otherwise knew in passing. I’m excited to see more this year.

2. Moana

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You might think this is a cop-out choice compared to “Zootopia” or “Finding Dory”, but this was my favorite animated film of the year. Not only is it gorgeous, with its tropical setting and emphasis on sailing the open seas, but the Polynesian lore and myths of Moana’s world were intriguing. I wanted to know more about the various gods and demi-gods, and the designs of the ones Moana encounters were fascinating. Knowing that this film mixes cultures and was voiced by people of Samoan, Hawaiian and others originating from the Pacific Islands made the whole thing feel authentic. I loved most of the music and enjoyed all of the characters. But my favorite part of “Moana” is Moana herself. I thought Disney had made strides with their females leads with “Frozen”, but I personally found Moana to be the best example yet. Even though she’s tasked to get the help of Maui, at the end of the day, it’s her who saves the day. And not only is she spunky and likable, but she still accepts the responsibility of being chief one day AND even learns through hard work how to traverse the sea like her ancestors once did. It might not be everyone’s favorite, but it capped off a great year of animated films for me.

1. Captain America: Civil War

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Have you ever had that one movie you’ve anticipated from its announcement to its release? For me, that movie was “Captain America: Civil War.” When I was making this list, I knew deep down this would be #1. Everything I enjoy about the Marvel Cinematic Universe was present here: the characters I’ve grown to love and sympathize with, the action-y fight scenes that are a spectacle to watch, the cameos from the blatantly advertised Spider-Man to the always expected Stan Lee, and a compelling story that brings everything together with some dashes of humor as well. I love these characters on their own and as a team, so seeing them fracture was heartbreaking. While the villain was equal parts kinda boring and yet strangely refreshing, the heart of this movie was the conflict between Captain America and Iron Man. I know people were quick to take sides and it was even encouraged by the cast and crew, but I still firmly believe both sides have their pros and cons as was intended. To me, as the first film released for Phase 3, “Captain America: Civil War” is the culmination of my investment in this franchise. I haven’t gotten bored or tired of any of it. And with 2017 shaping up to have what will hopefully be some great entries, I’m with this franchise for the long haul.

And those are my 10 favorite movies of 2016! Feel free to agree, disagree, or post your own in the comments. Here’s to hopefully another slew of great movies this year!

My Top 10 Least Favorite Pokemon Designs

With all the new info being released on “Pokemon Sun/Moon,” I’ve been more excited than ever for the games to come out already. To capitalize on that, I’ve decided to make a list I’ve been putting off of my top 10 least favorite Pokemon designs. Now, since this is the Internet, I want to stress that this list isn’t based on the Pokemon’s moves, stats, popularity (or lack of), etc. This is strictly going by looks (yeah, I know, shallow) and are my personal choices. If you have your own, feel free to comment.

Before we get into the list, though, I made a couple ground rules. The first rule is that I’m not listing any of the new Gen 7 Pokemon that have been shown off so far. Since they’re not all out yet and aren’t even available to catch, I figure it’d only be fair to focus on Gens 1-6 for now. The second rule is that I’m allowing myself to have ties. For example, several entries involve a Pokemon and its evolution. I’ll be including both under one number and explaining why I dislike them (this is usually because of similar reasons). I only bring this rule up because there are quite a few instances of these I found while making this list where I just couldn’t pick one over the other.

But without further delay, let’s get this thing started! Here are my top 10 least favorite Pokemon designs.

10. Tornadus/Thundurus/Landorus (Genie Forms)

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Of all the legendary trios that exist so far, these three are my least favorite. I like genies and I wanted so badly to like these guys, but I can’t stand how they look. Maybe it’s the faces, maybe it’s the tails, but they just bug me. Their animal-like Therian forms are slightly more appealing to me and at least look interesting enough to keep them this low on the list. I even have the trio in their Therian forms in my copy of X because I prefer them that way. All I can say is that I’m glad Hoopa came along to make a genie Pokemon that appeals to me, ’cause these guys sure don’t.

9. Vanillish & Vanilluxe

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When it comes to Pokemon who constantly get made fun of, the Vanillite line are usually near the top. So why are they so low on my list? Well, honestly, I’ve kinda softened on my dislike of them over the years. I came into Gen 5 late and initially shared the same opinion on them being stupid-looking. This is coming from someone who loves ice cream and wouldn’t normally have been opposed to the idea of a Pokemon themed after one. But the execution left something to be desired and I still can’t stand their derpy faces. Oddly enough, the pre-evolution, Vanillite, has grown on me if only for being like a chibi ice cream cone.

8. Jynx

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Yes, we’re going all the way back to Gen 1 for this entry.  I always was weirded out by how Jynx looked. I could tolerate the simplicity of Voltorb or the slight creepiness of Mr. Mime, but Jynx never once appealed to me both in the games and the anime. It didn’t occur to me back in the day that the original black-skinned Jynx could come off racist, but in hindsight, the uncomfortable connotations and uncanny valley of it may be why I avoided this one at all costs. Even with the change to a purple skin tone, Jynx still remains one of my least-liked Gen 1 Pokemon.

7. Probopass

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This thing is just ridiculous and kinda stupid. I wasn’t a huge fan of Nosepass to begin with, but I could at least get behind the idea of it being based off those Easter Island statues. Probopass, on the other hand, looks like someone blew an Easter Island statue completely out of proportion and added a “hat” and fluffy mustache for kicks. It’s the mustache in particular that makes me just not take this thing seriously. Seeing this thing actually made me appreciate Nosepass a bit more, if only because it looks way less dumb in comparison.

6. Gulpin & Swalot

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Sure, these are simple designs and they don’t look very interesting, but the one thing that always bothered me about Gulpin and Swalot is the duck lips. It’s that one feature alone that makes me want to punch these things in the face. The ONE time I’ve liked duck lips on anything has been with Amethyst from “Steven Universe” and I still had to adjust to/get over that when I first started watching the show. It might come off as petty to include these two this high on the list for just having duck lips, but it’s such a blatant feature on them that I can’t overlook it.

5. Armaldo & Rampardos

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Yes, I know these two aren’t part of the same evolution line, but out of all the fossil Pokemon to date, they’re my least favorite design-wise. I like Armaldo’s pre-evolution, Anorith, but Armaldo’s overall design isn’t anything special. The thing that bothers me about it the most is the eyes. I can’t stand the placement and look of them. I also find it weird that his arms seem to come out of holes much bigger than the arms themselves. I’m just not a fan of this fossil ‘mon at all. Rampardos on the other hand, doesn’t bother me quite as much. I like its pre-evolution, Cranidos, and Rampardos, while looking hunchbacked, isn’t as off-putting to me as Armaldo. However, what kills it for me is his head. That weird, blue bump is one thing, but I also find it annoying how his head looks like it’s been partly sliced off into a flat top. What seemed like a potentially cool fossil Pokemon now just comes off looking ridiculous. There are other fossils I’m not fond of, but these two definitely take the cake.

4. Stunfisk

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This is another Pokemon I’ve seen on several least-liked lists, and it’s no exception here. I know it’s based off a real creature, but the pancake design, derpy eyes and bland colors just don’t do it for me. I haven’t come across anyone who outright likes this thing’s design and no matter how good it might be in battle, I’m sorry to say I have to agree. This is one ugly fish, and when you’re beating out things like Magikarp and Feebas for that title, you know your design is unappealing.

3. Magmar & Magmortar

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And this is another Gen 1 Pokemon that I can’t stand. While I know many people love Magmar and it’s Gen 4 evolution, Magmortar, I think they’re both hideous. I can’t stand Magmar’s bumpy forehead, pursed duck beak, and tail that looks like it tried to copy a Charizard. I can’t stand Magmortar’s odd choice of pink in its color scheme, weird cannon arms, and dopey-looking face. The only saving grace in this line for me is Magby, and even it isn’t my favorite of the baby Pokemon out there. I’ve disliked Magmar the moment I saw it and that remained just as true for Magmortar.

2. Binacle & Barbaracle

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Ugh, these two. When Game Freak started revealing many of the new Pokemon found in “Pokemon X/Y,” the only one I had an immediate dislike for design-wise was Binacle and later its evolution, Barbaracle. I know they’re supposed to be based off a type of barnacle, but they’re so bizarre that I just couldn’t get behind them. Binacle is very plain aside from the two creepy hands sticking up out of it, and Barbaracle… What even is that thing? It looks like a kid glued a bunch of fake hands with googly eyes onto a rock. Plus, it’s head is another hand. I can’t decide if that’s lazy or some strange attempt at making it alien-like. Well, either way, it still remains one of my least favorite of the Gen 6 Pokemon.

1. Garbodor

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And at number one, we’ve reached the cream of the crap of Pokemon designs with Garbodor. This is yet another Pokemon I’ve seen on least-liked lists and I consider it quite possibly my least favorite Pokemon in existence. I even like its pre-evolution, Trubbish, ahead of this abomination. Setting aside that it came from Gen 5, which had a region based off New York and thus Pokemon themed for it, this is one of those inanimate object Pokemon that really didn’t need to exist. It’s supposed to be a pile of garbage, which is bad enough, but of WHAT garbage exactly? It just looks like a broken garbage bag over brown goop with pink and blue bits of…candy? Oh, and something like pipes or gas pump nozzles for fingers. This Pokemon is just a mess from top to bottom. I hate everything about its design (among other things) so much that I called my living Pokedex Garbodor “The WORST.” For that reason, it gets the number one spot for my least favorite Pokemon design.

And there you have it! Again, if you have different choices or just want to comment on mine, feel free to say so below. Until next time!

My Top 10 Fave Cartoon Theme Songs

I challenged my fiance this weekend to try listing some of his favorite cartoons of all time. In return, he challenged me to something similar yet a bit easier: my favorite cartoon theme songs. Before we get to them, though, there is one big rule:

ALL songs must be from cartoons I watched even in passing while growing up. Whether I only saw a few episodes or the majority of them, these are cartoons that carry theme songs that have been memorable for me. I will be including a couple tied entries due to how similar my reasons for liking both are as well. Just remember that these are MY personal picks, not the best of the best. With that, let’s get started!

10. Darkwing Duck

I know people love this one (including my fiance) and it’s definitely one of my faves to come out of the 90’s. I didn’t catch up with most of the show until my household got both internet and satellite TV, but I definitely remember enjoying all the superhero antics Darkwing got himself into. The show was a romp and this theme song set the stage and tone from the start. Not much else to say except that it’s a great intro to a great show.

9. Animaniacs/Pinky and the Brain

Now we come to one of my tied choices. While I admit to watching more of “Pinky and the Brain” than “Animaniacs” as a kid, I like both shows for their energy and slapstick humor. I also like how the theme songs compliment the tone of each show. “Animaniacs” is incredibly zany and off-the-wall like the Warner Bros. (and their Warner sister), while “Pinky and the Brain” is goofy but scheming just like Pinky and the Brain themselves. I consider the songs as a collective whole in a way, so hence why they’re sharing this spot on the list.

8. Tiny Toon Adventures

I watched this show far more than the previous two, mainly because I watched (and still watch) a TON of the Looney Tunes back in the day. I always loved how this show appealed both to people who watched the original Looney Tunes and also newer generations with its younger cast of characters. While I liked the theme from “The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show” in particular, I always felt this one was…well, more looney and fun. It’s a fitting song for the next generation of Looney Tunes.

7. Batman: The Animated Series

Before I even saw the movie version of Batman, this was my foray into the world of superheroes. I enjoyed “Gargoyles” as well for its dark atmosphere, but “Batman: TAS” had the benefit of having both Batman and his rogue gallery in full glory. Just like with the movies at the time, the theme for this show was epic and dark. I often caught this show more than the peppy cartoons listed before it, and I was always enthralled every time. It’s a song that pumps you up for some butt-kicking action and the show almost always delivered.

6. Kim Possible

As I got into my teenage years, I had less and less time to watch cartoons or TV in general thanks to school. I mostly ended up gravitating toward bright, action-y ones. Sure, cute stuff like “Ruby Gloom” kept my interest (also a great theme song – consider it an honorary 11th spot), but it was shows like “Kim Possible” that made me anxious to do everything possible not to miss a new episode. Besides having an awesome female lead and reminding me at times of “Buffy” because of its action scenes, I really enjoyed the humor and mainly upbeat nature of the show. The theme song reflects it and, while a tad girly, also reflects Kim’s personality to a tee. It gets the point across while also getting stuck in your head.

5. Fairly Oddparents/Danny Phantom

Yep, another tie! Not long after I got into “Kim Possible,” I also stumbled across these two shows from creator Butch Hartman and fell in love with their concepts. I like the goofiness and absurdity of “Fairly Oddparents” and how it contrasts with the more serious tone (at times) of “Danny Phantom.” As for their theme songs… I’ve always loved when songs tell a story to set up a show’s premise and that’s exactly what these do. You quickly learn about Timmy’s fairy godparents and how Danny gained his ghostly powers. The only downside is that the rapping in the “Danny Phantom” theme does seem MAJORLY 90’s in hindsight, but I still can’t help liking it. These shows and their themes just go to show how one man can make two vastly different creations.

4. Steven Universe

I’ll admit I initially tried a few episodes of “Steven Universe” before stopping for a long while. Why? I wasn’t really into the episodic, slice of life feel of them. But after being convinced by my fiance to continue watching them with him, I’ve grown to appreciate the show for its complex characters and intriguing plot. The theme song is simple but effective, being very cute but also giving you all the basic information you need to jump into the show. It’s a happy, feel good song that gives you a glimpse at the show’s fluffiness, but don’t be fooled. There’s more to this one than meets the eye.

3. Gravity Falls

I’m already biased toward this show, but I adore this theme song. For a song without lyrics, it sets the tone of the show remarkably well. Its instrumental sounds a bit weird and mysterious and, combined with the visuals, pretty much tells you the basics you need to know about the show’s setup. And, like every song on this list, it’s incredibly catchy and will stay in your head long after you’ve heard it. I’ve gushed about this show in the past, and although I’m sad it’ll soon be over, I’ll always remember how awesome it and its theme song were.

2. Pokemon (Season 1)

I got into Pokemon during junior high, and that includes its anime adaptation. While I didn’t watch much beyond the Johto League, it’s the original series I have the fondest memories of. Rewatching the show a few years ago made me realize how kinda stilted and dumb some of it was, but the theme song is still awesome to me. Why is it so high on the list? Because not only does it appeal toward my gamer side as a work based off the games, but it also reminds me of how I met my best friends (specifically sharing their interest in anything Pokemon, anyway). It’s catchy, upbeat, and captures the feel of both the show and the games’ sense of adventure and companionship. There may be many Pokemon themes since then, but the original will always be my favorite.

1. The Simpsons

Is it the best show? No. Is it the best theme song? No. But for me, it makes the top spot because this show AND song were the epitome of my childhood and teenage years. Everyone knows “The Simpsons” was in top form in its earlier years, and while the show may have changed for better and for worse, that catchy, nostalgic theme song still remains. Back when I only had literally three channels of TV to watch, this was one of the only cartoons I managed to catch almost regularly. I loved the Simpsons family and their antics, and since my mom considered the show a little taboo because of its language and adult themes, it made me love it even more. This theme song has stuck with me even more than the others for the sheer fact that “The Simpsons” has been a staple throughout my life. Even today, while I don’t watch much of the newer stuff, I’ve still caught reruns and have been marathoning through the first 10 or so years of the show with my fiance. This show has a special place in my heart and that goes for its quirky and upbeat theme song as well.

And that’s my list of my top 10 fave cartoon theme songs! I know there are many more I could’ve added personally, and I’m sure others would agree/disagree with some of my choices. Feel free to post in the comments what some of YOUR fave cartoon theme songs are.

Top 10 Adventure Time Episodes (Season 5)

Yes, you read that correctly. Today’s list will be a top 10 as Season 5 in its entirety is double the length of the other seasons. I think it’s fitting as the final list, though. This season had a lot of episodes I really enjoyed and it was tough trying to narrow them down. Let’s jump right into it.

10. Red Starved

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I’m a sucker for vampire stories involving bloodlust, so this episode appealed to me right away. In this case, Finn, Jake and Marceline find themselves trapped in a cool-looking underground city. Having eaten Marceline’s snacks and forcing Finn to track down food, Jake is forced to watch as Marceline becomes a red-hungry, Gollum-like creature. I had been hoping an episode like this would come about and I wasn’t disappointed. My only gripe was that the humor didn’t quite catch me as it might for others, though there were some jokes that made me chuckle. Overall, not my favorite Marceline episode, but even my least favorites are still enjoyable to me.

9. Mystery Dungeon

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This episode’s premise initially made me sure I would despise it. Ice King, Tree Trunks, Shelby the worm, NEPTR and Lemongrab are forced to work together to get through a dungeon. While I liked the adventure side of this plot, I was sure these characters would eventually grate on me. Surprisingly, that wasn’t the case, and aside from Ice King this was my favorite appearance by all the others. This was especially true for Lemongrab, who is my most hated character on the show. He seemed a little bit toned down and actually had some jokes that I found myself chuckling at. I liked the ultimate pointlessness of the “quest,” and the final scene was a great cap to a fun episode.

8. One Last Job

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This is easily one of my favorite Jake-centric episodes. I even prefer it over “Jake the Dad”, which I felt was good up until the kinda lackluster ending. The episode kicks off with Jake’s daughter Jake Jr. being held for ransom. I liked it from the get-go as we got to see more of Jake being a dad despite his kids being older than him. This one also dives into Jake’s past as a thief and unveils that he even had a gang. The whole episode is a great spoof of heists and has a unexpected twist ending that I won’t spoil here. I liked the gang, especially the Lettuce Twins in particular for their twin qualities and roles in the gang. For one of the more “crime-based” episodes in the series, it was a fun ride from start to finish.

7. Vault of Bones

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If “Mystery Dungeon” was fun for an adventure, then this was fun for both an adventure AND video game-esque elements. This episode involves Flame Princess joining Finn on one of his dungeon crawls and getting increasingly annoyed by him always doing things his way, such as backtracking for loot. It was nice to see more interaction between the two that didn’t involve the dangerous physical aspect of their relationship. I loved Flame Princess’ approach to solving the dungeon’s puzzles as there are times when I just want to smash through difficult puzzles as well. I liked the dungeon itself and, while there weren’t many, the creatures within it. All in all, this was a very enjoyable episode with some great nods to video games of the genre.

6. Be More

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As much as I love BMO, s/he was one of those characters who got basically no backstory from the start. What you saw was essentially what you got. Well, this episode finally capitalized on that and gave me not only where BMO was manufactured but also a reason WHY s/he was created. I enjoyed the factory and the various BMO-like robots in it. The chase scenes between the security bots and Finn, Jake and BMO were fun and fast-paced. But my favorite part of the whole episode is the ending, when we’re told the purpose for BMO’s creation and see his/her “family”. I thought it was a touching episode for the little bot and delivered some, in my opinion, much-needed depth to the character.

5. Betty

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In this episode, we get more backstory on the Ice King aka Simon in the form of his former fiancee, Betty. Thanks to a bit of magic, the Ice King is turned back into a regular human. Unfortunately, because he was kept alive for so long, he starts aging rapidly and is on the verge of death. Through some time travel antics, Betty is reunited with him and tries her best to save him from death. I thought this episode was very heartwarming and I immediately took a liking to Betty as a character. The way everything is resolved felt bittersweet, but it did open up plenty of opportunity for Betty to return once in a while. While that hasn’t happened yet, I’m hoping more is done with her in the future.

4. Earth & Water

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I had considered putting “Frost & Fire” on this list, but my enjoyment of that episode was dampened by Finn’s attitude throughout it. However, I can safely say that “Earth & Water” still remains one of my favorite Flame Princess outings. In this, she forms an unexpected but kinda sweet bond with the dimwitted Cinnamon Bun and recounts to him how she came to be trapped in the Fire Kingdom. We get to see her as a little kid and dive more into her backstory, also witnessing just how evil and awful the Flame King is. We also get hints that Princess Bubblegum is much older than she lets on, appearing as her 18-year-old self while Flame Princess is basically still a toddler. My absolute favorite aspect of this one is her asserting herself and overthrowing her father, taking control of the kingdom and not immediately running back into Finn’s arms once she has. Ultimately, this episode seemed to show the very best aspects of Flame Princess as a character.

3. The Vault

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This episode plays off an element seen in “The Creeps” with Finn being haunted by a green, ghostly lady. It’s soon discovered that she’s essentially a reincarnation of Finn, and we get to see bits of her life as he taps into the “vault” in his consciousness. This cements Bubblegum as definitely being very old, at least a few hundred years or so. I thought Finn’s reincarnation, Shoko, was awesome and as someone for hire, you can see how she’s at war with herself when she strikes up a friendship with Bubblegum. Her death is also a bit sudden and tragic. This episode also shows part of the past that hadn’t been seen up to that point, namely the early stages of the Candy Kingdom’s creation. I really enjoy these episodes that expand on how the Land of Ooo became what it is, and it also gave Finn a bit of depth outside of what was known about him.

2. Bad Little Boy

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Okay, granted, I’m very biased toward the Fionna and Cake episodes as evident from the previous list, and I will admit that this one’s not as strong as both the first episode and the ones under it on this list. However, I just can’t get enough of the genderbent universe and the way they twist the story to be told from different viewpoints. In this case, the story is seen through Marceline’s interpretation and thus features her male counterpoint, Marshall Lee. Seeing as I’m a sucker for vampires, especially male ones, I immediately liked him and his kinda antagonistic relationship with both Fionna and Prince Gumball. I liked the main song song by him and Fionna and thought that despite the lack of an adventure in this, it acted as a good sort of character episode. I especially found it interesting that Marshall Lee seemed reminiscent of Marceline when she first appeared in the show, being not overly nice and very much a trickster. Overall, I enjoyed it a lot and having learned that a third episode will appear soon in Season 6, I can’t wait to see what they do next.

1. Simon & Marcy

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Much like “Bad Little Boy,” this episode expands on the events briefly shown in “I Remember You.” It depicts an average, post-apocalyptic day for the Ice King, then Simon, and a young Marceline as they just try to survive the barren landscape. We see the effects of the crown as it slowly makes Simon less and less stable and more forgetful, just as it was mentioned previously. I liked how it shows that Marceline kinda has a sense of what’s happening to him and reacts appropriately to it. There are even two renditions of “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” (the theme from “Cheers”), with one that’s meant to be light-hearted and the other that’s depressingly bittersweet. The ending is also a bit tragic in light of what Simon eventually becomes. While I still prefer “I Remember You” as a tragic episode, this one is still the highlight of all of Season 5 for me for being equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking.

Honorable Mentions:  Finn the Dog/Jake the Human, Frost & Fire, The Red Throne, Jake the Dad, Blade of Grass, Box Prince, Shh!

Season 5 had a lot of downs to go with the ups, but there were plenty of gems made between both halves of the season. With that, my lists for each season of Adventure Time are complete. Once Season 6 is finished, I’ll probably pick up my favorites and blog about them as well. Until that time, I hope these have been a good indication of some of the best Adventure Time has to offer.

 

My Top 10 Cutest Pokemon

On the challenge of my fiance, I’ve decided to continue my little Pokemon obsession by bringing you a list of 10 of my favorite cute Pokemon. I do have a few rules in place, though. The first is that I’m not including starters or legendaries since I basically like them all. And the second is that I’m only looking at one Pokemon per evolution line (with the exception of one but we’ll get to that). Keep in mind that these are all my choices and there are many more I would’ve gladly chosen past these.

On that note, let’s jump right in. Here are my top 10 cutest Pokemon:

10. Zorua

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Having missed out on one in White, I finally got to use Zorua in my playthrough of Pokemon X. I love this little fox for its nice, dark colors and mischievous face. While its evolution, Zoruark, is more cool than cute, Zorua is adorable and has the neat ability of shape-shifting to boot. While it’s not my favorite of the fox Pokemon, it’s become very near and dear to me.

9. Pancham

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I’ve always loved teddy bears, but this was a hard choice for me. Teddiursa is like a pure teddy bear Pokemon in terms of sheer cuteness. But ever since Pancham showed up, I haven’t stopped loving the little guy (or girl). Panda bears are some of my favorites and I love how Pancham is both cute and tough-looking. And it was a great touch putting that little leaf into his mouth. Teddiursa may have been my favorite bear, but Pancham has taken the top spot.

8. Furret

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Each generation has had its own Normal-type “rodent” of some sort. The original was Rattata, and the doofiest (in my mind) was Bidoof. But for me, Gen 2’s Furret, the evolved form of Sentret, is easily my favorite. I used to wish I could own a ferret, and I love Furret’s design, how slinky and striped it is. I also fell in love with it when I played a mini-game involving them in Pokemon Stadium 2. Of all the easy-to-find, kind of weak starting Pokemon, Furret stands out to me as the cutest and my personal fave.

7. Blitzle

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I used a Blitzle during White, and while it was a bit fragile, I loved this fast little zebra. Like most of the Pokemon on this list, its evolution, Zebstrika, falls more on the cool side. But the moment I saw Blitzle in-game, I knew I had to have it. It’s one of the best-looking Electric types I’ve used and is a bit speedy to boot. While it falls a bit short of this list’s next entry, Blitzle made it with me to the end of White and served me well throughout. 

6. Ponyta

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Of all the animals you’d typically think of as “farm” animals, horses are my favorite. I used to enjoy the occasional pony ride during my childhood as well, so a Pokemon as fast and cute as Ponyta appealed to me. Plus, it’s a Fire type, which I can honestly say has produced some of my all-time favorite Pokemon to date. Besides the cuteness factor, Ponyta just has an overall nice design and is handy in battles. While I tended to favor my Charizard over any other Fire type, I always made time to catch Ponyta. 

5. Lillipup

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There have been many dog-like Pokemon over the years, but those like Houndour and Poochyena tended to look more…mean than cute. Don’t get me wrong, I love them as well, but little Lillipup just won me over. Not only is it a cute terrier-like Pokemon, but it’s also found from the very start of your journey, making it a useful companion. While I’m not as big on its evolutions, I adored this little pup in the time that I had him. He’s my favorite since…well, the next entry on this list.

4. Growlithe

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Sure, Growlithe was the original dog Pokemon, but that’s why I love him so much. I’ve always loved and wanted a dog since I was little, and while I still haven’t owned one, having dogs like Growlithe were the next best thing. Now, granted, I’m not strictly a dog person nor a dog Pokemon person. Just like I love my cat in real life, I do love cats such as Persian and Meowstic in Pokemon. But Growlithe left more of an impression (not just cuteness) on me at the time, and I still love the little fire mutt to this day.

3. Pichu 

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Yes, I know Pichu is extremely weak and not great for battling, but I don’t care. In terms of cuteness, Pichu is my favorite of all the baby Pokemon, coming just ahead of Elekid in that regard. My first venture with Pokemon Yellow had me with Pikachu from the get-go, just like the anime, and from there I quickly grew to love both its baby self and evolved self, Raichu. While all three Pokemon are adorable, I always found Pikachu and Raichu to be cool. Pichu, while lacking that, is pure cuteness to me, and the fact that it evolves into my first ever starter gives it a special place on this list.

2. Vulpix

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Yep, we have another Fire type. Vulpix was the first fox Pokemon I saw, before I got into the games or anime. In junior high, I saw it in a book a friend owned and immediately fell in love with it. This also wasn’t helped by me watching the anime at a later time to discover Brock had a Vulpix as well. Both Vulpix and its evolution, Ninetales, are not just cute Pokemon to me but are also some of my all-time favorite Pokemon in general. However, there is one more Pokemon that tops it and all the rest.

1. Eevee (and its evolutions)

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Simply put, Eevee is the cutest Pokemon to me, and I’m gladly cheating when I say that ALL of its possible evolutions are just as cute in my mind. I just love the variety involved, and it all comes from one simple-looking little fox. My go-to evolution was always Jolteon in the original games, but as more evolutions have been released, I quickly loved each one regardless if I used them. I even accomplished my long-time goal of having every single Eevee evolution (including Eevee itself) in one game with X. I’m proud to say I worked to get them all and enjoy them for the cute powerhouses they are. While they might not all be the absolute best in their respective types, I can’t help liking the concept behind them and the great designs as well. Eevee has cuteness on top of versatility, and that’s why it’s my #1 cutest Pokemon.

So there you have it, 10 of my favorite cute Pokemon. These were narrowed down from a pretty big list, but they’re the ones I felt deserved to be on it the most. If you have different picks you’d like to share, feel free to in the comments. 

 

My Top 10 Favorite/Most Played Gamecube Games

Early in the fall, I did a blog covering my top 10 favorite/most played NES games. They were games that spanned my early childhood and still remain in my collection to this day. For today’s blog, I thought I’d try looking at games from my late teen/early adult years. Once again, picking out favorites isn’t easy for me, so I’ve chosen to focus solely on the system that bridged my N64 to Wii years: the Gamecube.

Even though my actual Gamecube doesn’t get much use, I still like playing the games through my Wii. While my collection is relatively small, I’ve picked out 10 of my favorite titles. As with the NES top 10, there are a couple stipulations. I chose the games I played the most and at least have beaten once. And while many of these games would top anyone’s list, these is my personal choices based on MY experiences playing them and how fun they were to me. With that said, here are my top 10 Gamecube games:

10. Chibi Robo!

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This is a very quirky, very Japanese-like game. You play as the little robot Chibi Robo and go around a life-sized house doing various chores for its residents and helping out toys (yes, toys. Think “Toy Story”). It kinda has a slow pace and is definitely not a game for everyone, but I got sucked in by its fun characters and bright, cheery environments. Oh, and the various objectives and collectibles, of course. I only rank it so low on the list because I tried to complete it 100% during my first playthrough, so it didn’t leave me with a lot of replayability afterwards. Still, Chibi Robo! is one unforgettable and strangely fun game.

9. Super Smash Bros. Melee

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I know, I know, I would easily get flack for putting this so low, but I’ve always found the Smash Bros. games to be more fun with co-op than single player. Unfortunately, a lot of my play sessions WERE single player, so I didn’t get much of the experience. Despite that, Super Smash Bros. Melee is an awesome fighting game, with tons of great Nintendo characters to battle with and lots of different modes. One thing that DID keep me enjoying single player was the huge amount of collectibles and challenges to tackle. I’ve never been a huge fan of fighting games, but Smash Bros. is easily my favorite series and this sequel is one of my favorite games.

8. The Simpsons Hit & Run

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This is hands down the best Simpsons game I’ve played barring the arcade version (which I sucked at). It has everything: voice acting from the actual cast, tons of references to the show, and pretty entertaining Grand Theft Auto-esque gameplay as well. The graphics might not be the best and it can be difficult and frustrating at times, but I had lots of fun running and driving through Springfield. There are plenty of things to collect and tons of missions to complete, both story-based and optional. This is one game I would still recommend to Simpsons fans if only for the sheer effort put into it.

7. Luigi’s Mansion

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This was one of two games I first rented along with a Gamecube when it came out, but I never fully appreciated it until I bought it last year. While it’s a pretty short game compared to others, Luigi’s Mansion had new, different gameplay and nice graphics. Sucking up ghosts with Luigi’s vacuum was fun and a little intense, especially during boss fights. This is another game that also had tons of collectibles (mainly money), which didn’t just add up for 100% completion but also determined your score in the end. Ultimately, the Gamecube brought out a few interesting, non-formulaic games, and Luigi’s Mansion was one of the first.

6. Animal Crossing

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Given my past blogs about Animal Crossing, how could I NOT include it on this list? In contrast to the short length of Luigi’s Mansion, Animal Crossing was a game that could go on forever, or at least all year round. I have fond memories playing this game alongside my sisters and even now sometimes revisit the old stomping grounds to see our town’s villagers. As I’ve said before, the one downside is that it’s the epitome of a casual game, and it’s easy to get bored after you’ve accomplished your goals. Still, I enjoyed it for being as creative as games like The Sims, but not nearly as frustrating. It’s definitely a game I’ll cherish.

5. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

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Say what you will about the state of the Zelda series, but I had a lot of fun with this one as the final “new release” I purchased for the Gamecube. I loved the dark, almost realistic look to the game and the wolf transformation is still one of my favorite aspects about it. I liked many of the new gadgets and dungeons, and the story was pretty well done and brought one of my favorite Zelda companions to life. While I was disappointed by the huge, almost lifeless environments and lack of sidequests, I enjoyed what Twilight Princess had to offer. As one of the last games released during the Gamecube’s run, it left a good impression on me.

4. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

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Yes, I know, two Zelda titles in a row. But if Twilight Princess left a good impression, Wind Waker left a lasting impression. This is the most recent game I’ve bought from the Gamecube’s library, but I came to appreciate it more than the first time I rented it. The graphics still hold up impressively well today, and the story is still intriguing for a typical Zelda plot. Unlike Twilight Princess’s large but ultimately barren landscape, Wind Waker uses its large ocean to fill in tons of explorable islands and battleships. While the gameplay drags a bit toward the third act, the game is packed full of things to do both involving the main story and optional sidequests. I would easily rank this as one of my favorite Zelda games, and it’s no wonder to me that it got a Wii U remake.

3. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

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I’ve never been a huge RPG fan, but when I first played Pokemon Yellow and then the first Paper Mario, I knew I’d found the RPGs for me. While the N64 Paper Mario will always hold a place in my heart, everything about it was fine-tuned and ramped up in the sequel. The graphics look better than ever, new gameplay mechanics and a brand new locale were introduced, and the story had plenty of dark moments not often seen in Mario games. Thousand-Year Door offered up more secrets and collectibles, and considering its predecessor had tons to begin with, that’s saying a lot. This will always be one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played and I’d gladly play it over and over again.

2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds

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I don’t care if I’m completely biased or that it’s not the best game out there. Chaos Bleeds, along with my number one pick, was the first of two games I picked up when I received a Gamecube for Christmas years ago. Why? Because I had rented it and loved it from the start. Being a huge Buffy fan is one thing, but a lot of effort was put into the game. The graphics look surprisingly good on the characters but even more so on the environments. The story feels like a lost episode (and was actually billed as such) and has sharp writing. The voice acting includes the main cast aside from Sarah Michelle Geller, whose voice double sounds spot-on for the most part. The game has lots of beat-em-up action and simple puzzle solving, though it has plenty of frustrating moments (especially during a couple boss fights). And finally, it even has unlockables for diehard Buffy fans, from interviews to voice acting sessions. I absolutely love this game, but I bet you’re wondering why it hasn’t taken the top spot in that case. Well, that’s because there’s still one more game I’ve played and enjoyed to death.

1. Super Mario Sunshine

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Is this the best Mario game? No. Does the unnecessary voice acting suck at times? Yes. Is this my favorite Mario game? On the Gamecube, definitely. This is easily my most played game out of all of them and for good reason. Much like Super Mario 64, you have plenty of levels to explore and eight in-level “missions” to complete.That’s not including the occasional secret or optional Shines and Blue Coins to collect as well. I love how bright and cheery this game is and the tropical setting looks gorgeous. Being a slight neat freak, I love using F.L.U.D.D. (your water pack) to clean up all the gunk around Delfino and its levels. I love that you got to ride on Yoshi for the first time in 3D. As frustrating as they could be, I enjoyed the F.L.U.D.D.-less levels that harkened back to old school Mario, where you had to rely on timing your jumps to get through levels. Because of the water mechanic, most of the boss fights were fun and kinda creative. This is another game I used to play with my sisters a lot and I have great memories of working with them to collect as many Shines as possible. Ultimately, I had great experiences with this game, and while it’s not perfect, Super Mario Sunshine is my favorite and most played Gamecube game.

 

There you have it, my top 10 favorite/most played Gamecube games. Since I know many people would differ on these choices, or perhaps have others they’d include, feel free to comment about them. Next week, I’ll blog about a new obsession of mine. See you then!