Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Usertoothless's Top 10 Story Recomendations

Ok! So, I'm hoping to do a somewhat different post this time around. I'm planning on listing 10 stories that I absolutely love, and if you have access to them, I would totally recommend watching/reading/playing through them! Also, if any of you have recommendations, or would like to share your top ten faves, please do so in the comments. Now, onto the list!

Marvel Cinematic Universe:
Yes, it is comic book heroes. Yes, it tugs on every little, boyish instinct inside of me. I mean, who doesn't like seeing super powered individuals duke it out? However, in many ways the MCU has managed to give some genuine heart and depth to their world (I mean, who saw the first scene of Guardians of the Galaxy coming?). Aside from this, they have brilliantly balanced an absolutely massive universe, and that by itself is amazing. It takes a lot of talent, a lot of forethought, and some really brilliant acting to bring this world together. 

Doctor Who:
Now, I hate to be picky, but I am almost strictly a TENTH Doctor fan. I have watched most of 11, and I started to watch 12, but eventually the series lost me. However, even if I have my complaints about where the season has been taken, Ten makes up for it by a mile. I literally enjoy about 15% of ALL the Doctor Who material that exists, but that 15% is amazing. The Tenth Doctor is a beautifully complex character, and I have seen very few season finales that compare with his. The utter selflessness of the character comes after an incredible character arch that took him down into very dark places, only to redeem him in an unbelievably powerful way. His season has a brilliant balance of humor, spookiness, heart, and ethical dilemmas. He definitely offers plenty of analysis fodder, so even though the graphics are often campy, the Tenth Doctor's seasons hold a special place in my list of favorites. 

Stranger Things:
This is probably my most "mature" favorite. It certainly isn't appropriate for younger viewers, so I can't fully recommend it to everyone. It's comparable to Sherlock (which would probably be 11 on this list), so if you are cool with that show, you might consider checking this one out as well. It is the only "horror" piece of media I have ever really taken interest in, and that is because it is really more of a... Sci-fi, horror, period drama, thriller. It's very complex, and it has an amazing story. Multiple characters break surprisingly from stereotypes (Sheriff Hopper and Steve imo), and that made the show feel very fresh... and it certainly kept me from being able to predict what would happen next. It also has a lot of gut-wrenching feels, and a brilliant cast of very talented kids. I must say, I'm excited for the next season... and the world is turning upside down.

Shovel Knight:
It may seem weird to actually place a very corny, quirky, indie video game above the massive MCU or Stranger Things but there is something very special about Shovel Knight. I am an utter fan of this game (and its story extensions). It is extremely goofy. The main character is literally a shovel wielding knight on an epic quest to defeat the "Order of No Quarter"and an evil Sorceress. It feels simple, linear, and childish. However, this game hides a lovely little beating heart that is driven by tales of love and loyalty. The art is splendid, the game is fun, the humor is quirky and unique, but what really sold this game for me was the fact that by the end I was practically screaming "Oh my GOSH this is the sweetest thing I've ever seen!". The best part is the game already has two side stories. One is an incredibly cute, adorkable tale of love and shyness, and the other is an incredibly dramatic tale of loyalty, selflessness, and loss. Seriously, before you play this game, expect to get sucked in. The stories may be simple, but they are masterfully executed. 

Avatar The Last Airbender:
I saw parts of this series when it was first showing on television. Because I didn't have cable myself, it became too difficult to follow, and so I dropped the series after the first season. Boy, did I almost miss a gem! This series starts out good, gets better, and ends on an utterly AMAZING note. Seriously, it just grows, matures, and gets better and better. The storyline clearly knew where it was going the whole time, so watching it feels more like watching one great epic, rather than watching a series aired on tv. I loved the mix of anime and classic American animating styles. The world was fantastic, and the characters were very well balanced. Toph reminds me a LOT of my little sister, and because of that she became my favorite character... although it was hard to top Prince Zuko. Ok, I digress, but this series is worth it. I believe you can see the whole thing on Amazon Prime, so give it a go. If it doesn't grab you in the first season, just give it a little time. Trust me, it delivers.

Gravity Falls:
Out of everything I've ever seen Disney do... I think Gravity Falls was my favorite. This show had it all. The art style was great, the characters were endearing, the world was enigmatic, the conspiracies and fan theories went viral, and in the end they wrapped the story up and left me utterly satisfied... and sort of nostalgically heart broken. Mabel and Dipper and both really, really funny, along with Grunkle Stan and Soos, but as the series progresses these characters stop just being comedic outlets and start to feel like actual people. The show also had a super spooky villain, and who doesn't love that. I'd talk more about it, but I worry that I'd give away one of the MANY spoilers, so I leave you to check it out on your own time. 

The Legend of Zelda:
The Legend of Zelda is amazing. It is actually hard to put the many games into one tidy category. Skyward Sword was a sweeping epic in which a young knight undergoes a dangerous adventure in order to transform into an unstoppable hero... all for the sake of his best friend. Twilight Princess had brilliant character development and lots of moral complexity (ha, we have dark, light... and then this stranger in-between). Majora's Mask is enigmatic, stressful, and haunting. Then Ocarina of Time set the standard for 3D adventure games. All the games have not only had brilliant story telling and world building, they have also benefited from extremely fun gameplay mechanics. If you like puzzles, great! If you like fast paced combat, perfect! If you want to be immersed in an epic tale of courage in the face of darkness, then you have picked the right piece of media! Twilight Princess is my personal favorite, but it is a close competition! (Midna ftw)

Fire Emblem:
This series of games honestly shocks me. I would NEVER have EVER dreamed that I could enjoy a set of games more than LoZ, but here I am. I think part of it is expectations. I expect Zelda to be great. I mean, come on, it's ZELDA. Fire Emblem, on the other hand, I came to much later, and I played several of the retro games. Rekka No Ken and Sacred Stones were great fun. They had engaging story lines, and I actually cried a little when certain characters died. For older games, they were brilliant, so when I decided to play FE Fates, I was expecting the game to be pretty good. It surpassed EVERY EXPECTATION. The game had a level of story complexity that put most books and movies to shame. The fact that the story allowed the player to see two sides of a bloody conflict made everything significantly deeper. Nothing was black and white. Characters that were nobel and good could be driven to terrible, dark places, and nations that lived for war could be turned to the ways of peace. It all hinged on a single young man or woman... the player. There was a perfect mix of customization and yet it never seemed to ruin the depth of the story; rather it enhanced it. I will openly confess to ugly crying during this game. It is that sad, but at the same time there is a satisfying ending to every path the player may choose to take, and the rewards are well worth the pain. Much like Zelda, this came benefits not only from a stunning story, it also has great gameplay. FE is a strategy game, and because I am better at those kinds of games than any other, I think it may leave me biased. Plus (spoiler alert) the main character of FE Fates is a dragon! Who doesn't like that?

The World of Tolkien's Lord of The Rings:
This one hardly requires explanation! The LotR and Hobbit books are classics and probably deserve to be number 1 on everyone's list. I grew up having The Hobbit read to me at night by my father, and The Lord of The Rings was one of the first major works of literature that I voluntarily picked up and tackled. The world is incredibly rich, and Tolkien's writing style is beyond impressive. Peter Jackson brought the LotR to life wonderfully in his films (although I personally did NOT enjoy the Hobbit films). What other tale has quite the scale, the character depth, or the complexity of LotR? It really does set the standard by which all other fantasies are judged. Besides the beauty of the world and characters, Tolkien also slides in some beautiful thematics, many of which are Christian in origin. They are not so overt that they take control of the story and strangle it (Gosh, I hate it when themes do that. Example: Zootopia), but they do enrich they tale. In the end, I imagine people will never forget the Lord of The Rings. Those Hobbits really are incredible creatures!

How to Train your Dragon:
Ok, if that surprised you... what on earth are you doing here on this blog? HTTYD1 and HTTYD2 are priceless. They are my all-time-faves. I've never been more impacted by a story, and the proof is in how long I've remained a die-hard fan. Other favorites came and went. This list I'm making now will shift and change... but number one stays number one! I've seen the first movie more times than I can count (somewhere around 70 times), and I still can't watch the second one without shedding tears. These films have absolutely gorgeous visuals, perfect character design and animation (looking at you Toothless), stunning depth while at the same time a child-like innocence, and stories that feel more like works of the greatest writers of literature as opposed to the plots of children's films. If you want to know all the reasons why I love these films... just start reading! This blog is practically one long tribute to Hiccup and Toothless. They are really the element that sold HTTYD for me. LotR, LoZ, FE, GF... tons of stories I love wind up being "buddy" tales. If the story has two best friends who wind up being incredibly selfless and devoted to one another, then I am probably gonna like it. HTTYD feels like the epitome of that for me. I see so much of myself (and who I'd like to be) in Hiccup, and at the same time I see so much of what I'd like to have as a friend in Toothless. I've always loved dragons, so when I film finally came out that had this balanced of a friendship focused around a boy and his dragons, it hooked me and I still haven't ever managed to wriggle off the line. Sure, sometimes the series has resulted in some complaints and thrashing about, but I'm still DYING to see the third film. So, yeah, I suppose that makes HTTYD my number one recommendation. Granted, if you haven't seen it... I imagine you'd not find this blog all that interesting!

There are tons of runners up. I love the stories of Sherlock Holmes, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Dragon Heart, Batman, and many more, but time constraints have limited me to these. So, how about you guys? Any favorites worth noting? Any comments on mine if you seen/read/played them? Please let me know!

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