As inhabitants of a routinely unfair class system, it’s only natural for us to want to live in luxury. We want the most expensive/overpriced food, drinks, services, and gizmos, attained at the expense of our hard-earned cash. Sometimes it’s nice to live a little above our income. However, sometimes we needlessly pay too much, and the less costly alternatives really wouldn’t be too much of a compromise. Here are the top 10 things we overpay for, assembled in no particular order. [Read more…]
Game lovers, unite. Yes, we purposely avoiding going down that path and invoking the “gamer” status that so many people argue over in YouTube comment sections. For a game to be a good one, what exactly does it need? There isn’t a single universal answer, such as video game music or graphics. That’s because some of the greatest video games in history managed to ascend to stardom by providing players with the perfect balance between every element.
It needs a good story, good characters, engaging gameplay, thrills and twists to keep our interest piqued, and an atmosphere. Let’s stay here for a while. The atmosphere can often make the difference. Take for example Amnesia: The Dark Descent and its status as one of the greatest horror games of all time. Despite not being riddled with jump-scares and gore all over the place, the constant feeling of dread and the building atmosphere are what made the whole experience.
And let’s be honest – nothing can contribute to a well-established atmosphere better than music. A game’s soundtrack is remembered as vividly as the experience, if not more, for the plain reason that you can always press play on your music player and revisit those tunes. So, based on how memorable the OST alone is, we give you the Top 10 Video Game Music We Will Never Forget.
#1 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Image Courtesy of Nintendo
When you think of orchestra music in video games, you need to give credit to Ocarina of Time for its presence. Composed by Koji Kondo, the tunes heard in the background of Link’s journey is as timeless as it is magical. Even though Kondo had previously worked on other notable projects (such as Mario 2, 3, and World), many argue that nothing neither he or Nintendo created after managed to surpass it.
Image Courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment
No game has been given a more proper title than Journey. It may not be riddled with combat and action sequences, but the sheer atmosphere, messages, emotional value, and soundtrack managed to beat any other action-packed game. Having won several “Game of the Year” awards, its music, composed by Austin Wintory, was also rewarded for its three years of production with a nomination at the Grammy Awards.
Not many people have heard about Ico and it’s definitely a shame. An old-school PlayStation 2 game released in 2001, it tells the story of Ico and Yorda, two runaways who try to escape their fates as sacrifices for different people. Although the game lacked commercial success, it made it for it through critical recognition. It was a work of art by many means and Michiru Oshima’s music perfectly captures the vibes by tapping both into the light and the haunting sides of the story.
#4 Chrono Trigger
Considered to be one of the most influential soundtracks of all time, Chrono Trigger’s music was the result of relentless dedication from Yasunori Mitsuda’s side. Many sleepless nights, weariness, and even sickness served as obstacles but, nonetheless, it was Mistuda’s dream to break the time’s barrier and prove that video game music can be given just as much thought as anything else.
#5 Streets of Rage 2
Image Courtesy of Sega
Back in the days when Sega was considered to be an underdog living at the mercy of the much more successful Nintendo, Sega managed to land a harsh blow on its competitor through the Sega Genesis. While Nintendo didn’t want to steer away from its family-friendly image, Sega released several titles much more oriented towards a mature audience. Street Fighter 2 was one of those violent, bloody, and grim examples, with the Yuzo Koshiro music that backed it up also dropping all chirpy soundtracks typical of Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog.
#6 The Last of Us
Image Courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment
Remember when we talked about how a game needs all edges to be good in order to succeed? The Last of Us came out on top as one of the most acclaimed games of all time, receiving numerous accolades for the innovations it brought to storytelling, acting, and character development. The emotional factor balances out the dark post-apocalyptic landscape, and it’s fully complimented by Gustavo Santaolalla, writer of scores for Babel or Brokeback Mountain.
#7 Silent Hill
Speaking of acclaimed games, there isn’t a person who hasn’t heard of Silent Hill and the influence it had on all horror games that would be made from then on. The gameplay was innovative, the ambiance was atmospheric and filled with dread, and Akira Yamaoka’s score came as the perfect completion of the picture. Decades later, the static FM sound and the unsettling music still haunt the dreams of those who’ve played the game.
#8 Final Fantasy VI
Through a silent consensus, the gaming word has come to the agreement that Final Fantasy VII is probably the greatest game of the franchise. However, there’s one place where it had its thunder stolen from. Its predecessor, Final Fantasy VI, gave us one of the most iconic soundtracks of gaming. Composer Nobuo Uematsu was just beginning his ascension through the writing for VI and managed to set his reputation in stone by the time it was finished.
#9 Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Image Courtesy of Konami
A list without Castlevania would be no list at all. There are many titles to pick from, but we assumed that it was only natural for the one with the word “symphony” in it to come out on top in terms of music quality. Brought into the game by Michiru Yamane, Symphony of the Night’s soundtrack was treading on a very thin layer of ice with its risky techno – classical combos. Luckily for us, it turned out to be one of those rewarding risks.
#10 Red Dead Redemption
Image Courtesy of Rockstar Games
Composed by the duo Bill Elm and Woody Jackson, the soundtrack for Red Dead Redemption mostly stood out through its unique partnership with the cinematography that managed to surprise everyone. They managed to prove that, not only does music matter and can be given a lot of narrative undertones, but that it can be even more impressive when packed with cinematic visuals worthy of matching those of Hollywood movies.
Your wedding day is said to be the most important day of your life, so why not make the best out of it? Future bridges spend copious amounts of hours (and money) on the dress of their dreams, and they want to ensure that everything is perfect to the smallest of details. However, if you truly want a unique and memorable experience that will get both you and your guests talking for years to come, then opt to tie the knot in one of these unique wedding venues.
#1 Treehouse Point, Issaquah, Washington
Located only 30 minutes away from the urban buzz of Seattle, Treehouse Point manages to stand out by letting brides and grooms exchange vows in, you guessed, a treehouse. More than that, the landscape and nature that surround the treehouse do nothing but boost the magical vibes received at a ceremony hosted in such an environment. As if that wasn’t enough, you’ll be glad to know that you also get night accommodations!
#2 Union Hill Inn, Sonora, California
For those couples who wish to keep it all rustic, nice, and simple, Sonora’s Union Hill Inn is the best place to head for. The inn oozes of familiarity, warmth, and a certain coziness that are guaranteed to make you feel like you’re at home. You can exchange rings in front of a peacefully crackling fireplace and spend the next two days at the inn, visiting Yosemite and Lake Tahoe to complete the experience.
#3 Big Daddy’s Antiques, San Francisco & Los Angeles, California
Antique shops have always had this particular appeal to them, always making you feel like you’re traveling in time the moment you step through the threshold. This one allows you to do more than purchase vintage clocks since it’s available for booking as a wedding venue.
#4 Dunfillan Ruins, Kunde Estate in Kenwood, California
There are many places you can get married at and be in the heart of nature, free of any urban and technological distractions. But the Dunfillan Ruins offer one of the most memorable experiences. Arrange a table, some seats, all the other required elements of your dream wedding in the heart of some historical ruins with lots of stories behind them.
#5 Thorncrown Chapel, Eureka Springs, Arkansas
The Thorncrown Chapel is an architectural beauty made of roughly 6.000 square feet of glass. The design of the venue, almost entirely composed of glass walls and windows, is enough to make your wedding day a breathtaking experience. It doesn’t hurt that it’s spacious enough to seat 100 people either.
#6 Mill City Museum, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Mill City Museum is the perfect location for brides and grooms who have a knack for industrial locations and fancy the idea of exchanging vows in a such-themed venue. The museum was built amid the rusty ruins of a flour factory, and now it makes for an amazing location for all urban lovers.
#7 Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami, Florida
The location of Vizcaya Museum is the closest you can get to Venice without actually having to travel to Italy. The unique setting is located in the heart of Miami, and it’s considered to be a gem for all couples who aspire for that European-feel wedding.
#8 Beaulieu Garden, Rutherford, California
Weddings hosted among beautiful flowers and trees are always the epitome of classiness, but the Beaulieu Garden manages to stand out. The location is a green paradise, complete with serene-looking fountains and artsy sculptures.
#9 Bear Flag Farm, Winters, California
Farmers everywhere, unite. Bear Flag Farm is everything that a lover of the rural could ever want. It’s located right next to a Ferris wheel, there are tall grain and vegetable crops to the side, and there is even a rusty truck parked nearby to complete the picturesque image.
#10 Camp Wandawega, Elkhorn, Wisconsin
For those of you who love camping, how about you do that for your wedding day too? Camp Wandawega is a resort that has its doors open for all outdoor enthusiasts who wish to exchange vows before heading to sleep the night away in a tent.
Boardgames have a relaxing way of bringing people together, be it children, teenagers, or adults, all for the purpose of tabletop gaming. It’s an excellent experience that will create wonderful bonds between people… or damage them entirely. The competitive edge of boardgames is often overlooked due to the fact that it’s not often you see people competing viciously against each other.
However, there are some choices out there that will both pull on your mental resources and might actually bring out the competitive player in you. Here are the top 10 best strategy board games that you can enjoy with your friends one “uneventful” Friday night. They will be the best choices, provided you can still remain friends afterward, but here’s hoping there no sore losers around.
10. Small World
You have to know a few titles of strategy board games by now. Think of Small World as the lively, more relaxed version of Risk. It pins players against each other as they attempt to conquer lands and gain coin depending on their race and magical beings. Small World is an excellent fantasy game, which will put your strategic mind at work. If you’re also into roleplaying, it will certainly add a bit of a fun twist to the already beautiful artwork.
This particular farming/strategy boardgame is gaining more and more fans every day. It’s perhaps one of the well-known titles on this list because it’s easy to play and you may engage in a “match” basically anywhere. Carcassonne is a good looking and unique representation of medieval fortifications and road thievery that will keep you entertained. You have to develop areas, draw in followers, creating cities and fields for yourself. Create the best territory, and you win the game. It has numerous clever extensions and near infinite re-playability. It’s also very easy to learn.
Strategy mixes with role-playing and story-telling abilities in Gloom. You know you’re in for a fun game where your main purpose is to kill off your own characters and make your friends’ characters happier. Each players gets a family of perpetually miserable people, along with cards that can either make them happier or more depressed. The purpose of the game is to create a story centered around each family, until you can ultimately kill them. Make them too sad, and they die. They die, and you win.
It’s a game based on points, where you have to think strategically which card will make your characters more miserable. And, which of them will make your opponent’s characters happier. It’s an incredibly fun game, especially if you create a story with the amusing cards. For example, literally dying of public humiliation.
7. Betrayal at House on The Hill
It’s perhaps not the typical definition of what you think is “strategy”. You will not command dark forces meant to kill the other players and gradually eliminate them. Actually… you will. Betrayal at House on The Hill is an amazing example of how a co-op game can turn into a competition. The basics are simple: you and your friends enter a haunted house, each with your own character and their own traits. As you venture through the terrifying scenery, you uncover items, events, or omens.
Gather enough omens and it will be inevitable that you will launch the Haunt. When that happens, the game will force one of you to become “the betrayer”. That means that they will get special abilities, be it magical or minions, and they will be tasked to kill everyone else in the house. The rest have to band together to stop the betrayer, but it’s no easy task. You don’t know what abilities the Haunt gave them, and there are around 50 different scenarios, so there’s definite re-playability.
A card game, a boardgame, a team game, a strategy game, an easy game. Sequence can be played by many players or just one on one. It’s so simple and so engaging that one match will never be enough. The purpose of the game is to pay attention to the cards in your hand, the slots on the board, their positioning and how to create your lines. It’s essentially a boardgame version of tic-tac-toe that requires a little more strategy.
You have to carefully plan out your patterns and keep an eye out on the other team. It can become incredibly entertaining because you have to make sure you create opportunities for yourself and destroy them for others.
5. Dead of Winter
One of the prettiest games on this list. Dead of Winter is immensely exciting, beautifully created, and has a bit of a “bluff” element to it. You and your friends are survivors, held up in a place you have fortified for yourself while zombies roam outside. Depending on one of the many scenarios you get, you need to survive for a different number of days. That means that you need go out into the winter night, surrounded by zombies, scavenging for food, medicine, or resources.
If you can last the attacks and acquire everything you need, you will win. However, you will get more people coming into the compound and they will require their needs met as well. Many mouths to feed. Not to mention the fact that one of the players might be a betrayer. So, besides the cold and zombies, one player might actually have to sabotage all of you in order to win the game. You better be a good liar and not let them know that’s your purpose, because you will get exiled otherwise. The betrayer needs to play as if they’re part of the team until it’s their time to strike.
4. Ticket to Ride: Europe
A relatively simple game that involves a lot of strategy and perhaps a few silent alliances between players. You and your friends all construct railroads from one destination to another. Generally, the version of the game displaying the map of Europe is considered better, even though there are a few more options, such as the map of the United States. You receive cards with instructions that only you will see, and will be required to create routes from destination A to destination B.
In order to start building, you have to “buy” those trains with another set of cards you draw. However, other players might be interested in the same trains and in similar routes. If they play it smarter and have a bit more luck, they might just block off your road. So, block theirs first.
3. A Game of Thrones: The Board Game
Quite possibly the most complicated one on this list. If you’ve seen the hit HBO series, you already know what to expect. The point of the game is to conquer all Westeros and get on that Iron Throne that every family in the land is vying for. Players will be the head of a major House, and they will need to handle their resources, as well as understand how to play their main characters. For example, the Lannisters will have iconic names such as Tywin or Jaime to use, each with their own set of skills.
The true point of the game, however, you might’ve already guessed it. Make alliances and then break them viciously. In the end, there’s only one ruler of Westeros, and you should sharpen your knife while shaking hands with the other.
We’ve covered the prettiest, the most complicated, and now it’s time for the most popular. Risk has become one of the most well-known strategy boardgames in the world. Your luck at dice is mixed with strategic advancing. As it is in war, you need to know when to fight and when to run away from a battle that you cannot win. Of course, if you’re a wizard with dice, you might as well give it a shot.
You need to manage your troops, arrange them, acquire them, and complete goals faster than other players. And fight, of course. Risk truly sounds more complicated than it is, but it’s certainly one of the games that you will get better at with time. The veterans will likely crush the beginners, so never lose hope when you lose. Nobody became a general in a day.
1. Settlers of Catan
An award-winning boardgame that will require you to negotiate your way into a win. It’s a tile-placing game that results in incredibly re-playability, especially if you purchase the extensions as well. The purpose is to create cities, armies, and earn points until you’re declared the winner. However, these are the mere “on paper” aspects of the game. The true fun is had in clever placing and reaping the benefits of someone else’s dice throw.
You have to build your cities, but you will never get all the resources by yourself. So, be prepared to negotiate and always remember that you’re all fighting for the same purpose. However, only one of you can ultimately win, and your bad trades might just be what helps your opponent be crowned the best settler of Catan.
We’ve entered an era where cartoons are slowly starting to have their social stigma removed. They’re not directed solely to children anymore, some concrete examples being South Park and Family Guy, which are, very much so, shows aimed at adults in the rightful sense. In other words, it’s never been both easier and harder to make it big in the cartoon industry.
Why the latter part? That’s because parents are paying attention to the content that their child is being exposed to more than ever, making sure that no harm, especially moral, could come out of it. And you know what? They really should because you won’t believe what the following 10 Banned Cartoons Made For Children were depicting.
Image Courtesy of OLM.inc
While Pokemon itself wasn’t banned in its entirety (people would definitely riot), there was an episode that was, to put it euphemistically, very controversial. An episode called Electric Soldier Porygon was taken off Japanese televisions after 700 people, elderly and children alike, suddenly experiences seizures, vomiting, and loss of consciousness.
This was because of a particular scene where Pikachu creates an electric explosion, which depicted flashy transitions from the color red to blue. The episode was never broadcasted afterward, causing the show to go on hiatus for four months and authorities to take harsh precautions when they imported the cartoon to the USA.
#2 Dexter’s Laboratory
Considered to be one of the best products of Golden Era Cartoon Network, Dexter’s Laboratory was, as a whole, a show that delighted numerous children worldwide. However, creator Hanna-Barbera definitely made the poorest of choices when producing two particular episodes.
One of them, called Dial M for Monkey, was riddled with parodies of famous superheroes. Silver Spooner, the satirical version of Fantastic Four’s Silver Surfer, was basically a walking exhibition of homosexual stereotypes. It doesn’t end here, as the parody depiction of Hulk shocked everyone when he appeared on screen with a drinking problem.
The other episode, called Rude Removal, featured a pair of Dexter and DeeDee clones that offended everyone through cascades of obscene lines and swears. They were bleeped, but that clearly wasn’t good enough.
#3 Peppa Pig
Image Courtesy of eOne Family
Peppa Pig is one of the hottest cartoons of the moment for little children. Unlike some of the entries on this list, there weren’t any immoral messages that got the episode Mister Skinnylegs banned. This actually happened because it aimed to teach children that spiders aren’t that terrifying and that we shouldn’t kill them.
It was a nice message and all… unless you’re an Australian. The episode was removed from Australian televisions because it encouraged kids to get close to spiders which, in Australia, are venomous enough to actually kill you.
What could possibly go wrong with a Disney spinoff cartoon series featuring the characters from The Jungle Book? In theory, nothing. Truth to be told, everything was fine until the airing of the cartoon’s final episode, Flying Dupes.
In this episode, Baloo transports a bomb via plane to a foreign country, in hopes that the bombing would cause a war to break out, which in turn would raise the profits of bomb producers. Everything that was wrong with this episode – terrorist message, bombs on planes, genocide, and war – ultimately and unsurprisingly got this episode banned permanently.
#5 Tiny Toons
Image Courtesy of Warner Bros. Animation
If you were expecting older Bugs Bunny to be the one to get himself banned, you were wrong. The cartoon featuring younger versions of popular Looney Tunes characters caught the eye of censors when it broadcasted one particular episode.
In One Beer, the underage characters find a bottle of beer, drink it, get drunk, and then steal a car and start driving around. To end on an even more disturbing note, the characters eventually drive the vehicle off a cliff and die. We’re sure that the “don’t drink and drive” message can wait a few more years, isn’t that right?
#6 Song of the South
An animated musical film produced in 1946 by Walt Disney, Song of the South really left viewers with a bitter aftertaste because of its depiction of master-slave relationships in post-Civil War Georgia. The cartoon showcases several slaves happily singing about their duties on the plantation and managed to offend, understandably, quite a lot of people through its idyllic imagery.
Image Courtesy of Walt Disney Television Animation
Gargoyles was a critically acclaimed cartoon series that truly confirmed the saying “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Wanting to raise some warning flags on the matter of gun control and violence, the episode Deadly Force dealt with this issue in a highly controversial way. When Broadway shoots Elisa by accident with a gun considered to be a toy, the latter is afterward showed lying in a pool of her own blood.
The episode was initially banned, then re-aired in a censored version, and finally re-released fully and unedited in the DVD form.
#8 Betty Boop
No, it wasn’t the iconic black-and-white era character that was banned, but the episode Ha! Ha! Ha! If the title wasn’t an immediate giveaway that something fishy was going on, know that the episode featured a bunch of inanimate objects cackling hysterically as a result of a laughing gas leak – gravestones included. It wasn’t morally ambiguous or anything, but it was creepy enough to make it look like something that nightmares are made of.
#9 Ren & Stimpy
Image Courtesy of Games Animation
Ren & Stimpy was one of those cartoons aimed at children that managed to get away with inserting several controversial adult jokes – albeit, through constant fights with censors. One episode, however, Man’s Best Friend, stretched the humor beyond its limits. Depicting Ren brutally beating another character with an oar, the graphicness of this episode allegedly got the show’s writer fired.
#10 Cow & Chicken
Cow & Chicken was never a tame cartoon to begin with, featuring content that was, a lot of the time, questionable, at the very least. One particular episode, titled Buffalo Gals, drew a lot of gasps from parents and censors upon them realizing that it depicted lesbian subtext and plenty of slang terms for intercourse.