Monday, October 11, 2021

Firefly & Serenity (2005)




After spending a few years devouring and writing about my voyages with the entirety of Star Trek: The Next Generation, I thought I would go with a different sci-fi franchise that was quicker to consume. Within a few months, I was able to re-watch all of 2002’s Firefly TV series that had a tragically short 14 episode run, along with its 2005 film to conclude their story arc, Serenity (trailer). I already watched both many years ago, but a few years back, I upgraded both to BluRays, and this was the perfect opportunity to jump in and re-experience the cult hit sci-fi/western hybrid created by Joss Whedon.

Firefly kicks off with a two-part "Serenity" special that establishes the ensemble cast and the catalyst that brings the crew together on the vessel, Serenity. In the far-flung future, the United States and China emerged as the two dominant superpowers to colonize outer space, and thus everyone only speaks English and Chinese. After some time, a civil war brews up between the two dominant powers. This results in Captain Malcom Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and his second-in-command, Zoë (Gina Torres), on the losing end in the war's final battle to kick off Firefly's opening scene. The opening battle scene is an impressive CG-feast for a TV series budget.

The next scene jumps forward six years, where Malcom and Zoë now command a small independent salvager vessel, Serenity. They work for whoever pays the most, usually transporting sketchy cargo discreetly, which leads them to a heated wild west-esque gunfight on land with other scoundrels after the same shipment. Also aboard Serenity is their trusty mechanic, Kaylee (Jewel Staite), a working companion, Inara (Morena Baccarin), the comic relief muscle, Jayne (Adam Baldwin), the pilot and husband of Zoë, Wash (Alan Tudyk), their mysterious person of faith, Shephard Book (Ron Glass), and the siblings that are fugitives on the run: Dr. Simon (Sean Maher) and his sister, River (Summer Glau). It is quite the crew, but for nearly the entire run of the show, the showrunners do a fine job at balancing out adequate TV time for most of them, and by the end, they have charmingly dysfunctional family chemistry between them all.

Nathan Fillion receives major credit for his tremendous work as the lead role in the series as the charismatic Captain Malcom Reynolds. His never-give-up, DIY spirit to consistently turn the insurmountable odds against him is an irresistible character quality that makes it impossible to hate him. He has a unique relationship with nearly everyone on the ship, and it is exciting to see how those relationships develop and grow during the oh-so-brief run of the show. Pardon the aside, but Nathan Fillion and his character on the show are nearly a dead ringer for the protagonist, Nathan Drake, of the mega-hit Playstation game series, Uncharted. When first playing the original PS3 game, I thought for sure it was him. When there was an announcement that they were going to try and make the game into a movie, there was a huge outpouring of fan support to cast Fillion as Nathan Drake until the movie fell apart and never made it into production. At least Fillion was part of this unofficial Uncharted short film as a nice tease of what would have been. Back to the matter at hand now….

On my notes for Firefly and Star Trek: TNG, I would give a brief description of each episode and would put a star next to it if I enjoyed the episode. It should go without saying how much I enjoyed Firefly when I ended up "star-ing" 11 of the 14 episodes. Here are some highlights from a few of my favorites: "Train Job" is exactly as the episode title indicates, and I was all in on this episode to see the many twists and turns it took for the Serenity crew to evade authorities throughout their heist. "Safe" sees River and Simon kidnapped as more of their past is unveiled. "Jaynestown" is a top three episode of the series that sees Jayne return to a settlement years later after an earlier job where he is adored as a legend by the local townsfolk, complete with the local tavern bard singing a song of his past heroics.

"Ariel" is another standout from the season that sees the gang attempt another heist for medical supplies at a hospital, but naturally, nothing goes according to plan. "The Message" has Malcom and Zoë on an escort mission to deliver a fallen comrade to his home, but like all episodes, not all is as it seems to be. "Heart of Gold" features the best on-land wild west shootouts in the series, as most of the episode builds to a climactic final battle that lives up to the buildup. Finally, the inadvertent series finale, "Objects in Space" sees the crew overcome their qualms with Simon and River and embrace them as part of Serenity….all while dealing with an assassin who snuck onto the ship.

Unfortunately, FOX suddenly pulled the plug on the show after it failed to deliver in the ratings without airing three of the 14 episodes. Thanks to an overwhelming amount of fan support, Universal stepped in to put an exclamation point on the series with a theatrical movie to wrap up as many plot threads as they could in two hours with the 2005 film, Serenity. A constant in the TV series was how Simon busted his sister out of an experimental center doing eerie treatments. As a result, River is in a precarious state throughout the series. One of the two big plot points in the film reveals the secrets of the experiments on River, and the origins of the menacing threat, the Reavers. The Reavers were only touched upon in a couple of episodes that set them up as a grandiose threat to all life. On top of that threat, and hot on the heels of the Serenity crew, is an unnamed assassin (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who has early encounters with Malcom that prove he is a vastly superior match in wits and combat.

The film is a constant cat and mouse chase with Malcom and company trying to stay one step ahead of the assassin while also discovering the answers to some of these mysteries that were left hanging when the show came to an abrupt halt. It culminates with a fantastic final act that felt similar to the "suicide run" mission in the Mass Effect 2 video game. Here, the crew comes together to put a final front against the Reavers and the assassin while trying to expose some of humanity's deepest and darkest secrets. Watching Serenity again all these years later felt like the cast and crew wrapped everything up as best as they possibly could in the theatrical time allotted.

Both Firefly and Serenity BluRays have a fair amount of extras. The TV series has three worth checking out. Here's How it Was is a half-hour must-watch that details the lore and characters of the show and details the behind-the-scenes drama with FOX. Firefly Reunion is a luncheon with Joss Whedon and cast members that have them reminiscing with the show's stories and memories several years later. Serenity: The 10th Character is a thorough breakdown of the spacecraft and its set design we all fell for throughout the show's run. There are commentaries with various cast and crew members on most episodes and two commentaries for the movie.

I viewed the film commentary track with Whedon and most of the cast, and it is absolutely worth checking out. It has very few lulls and lots of chemistry still there as they shared anecdotes like Glau's fight camp training she had to endure and Whedon's cuts he had to make to ensure a PG-13 rating. Make sure to have subtitles on for the commentary because Whedon cuts off the audio commentary right as the credits start as his stated rule, but the subtitled commentary continues until the end of the credits and seems almost like a secret meeting that should not have been on the disc.

There is a slick "Alliance Database" interactive menu feature on the Serenity BluRay that felt like exploring the galaxy map in the Mass Effect games to learn more info and lore from the franchise. Two other recommended extras on the Serenity disc are Re-Lighting a Firefly, which is a 10-minute piece on how the fans brought the franchise back with this film. A Filmmaker's Journey is a unique 20 minute extra primarily focusing on the first table read for the film's script and interviewing the cast on that special intangible feeling with all of them sitting down together again for the first time since the show went off the air.

I know I am far from the first and last person to be glowing over Firefly and Serenity. If by some chance, you have not seen it and you are a fan of sci-fi, I cannot wholeheartedly recommend this enough. This brand has the mysteries of deep space, an endearing cast worth investing in, and land-based wild-west action that combines to be an exquisite entertainment dish well worth devouring. Regardless of how much of a bow the film put on the franchise, I cannot help but crave more adventures from Mal and company, and any sci-fi fan will be doing themselves a disservice for skipping over Firefly and Serenity.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

3
12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Rounds 3: Lockdown
21 Jump Street
The Accountant
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
The Avengers: Endgame
The Avengers: Infinity War
Batman: The Dark Knight Rises
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: Civil War
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Christmas Eve
The Clapper
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
The Condemned 2
Countdown
Creed I & II
Deck the Halls
Detroit Rock City
Die Hard
Dirty Work
Dredd
The Eliminators
The Equalizer
Faster
Fast and Furious I-VIII
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Gravity
Grunt: The Wrestling Movie
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
Hell Comes to Frogtown
Hercules: Reborn
Hitman
I Like to Hurt People
Indiana Jones 1-4
Inglourious Basterds
Ink
The Interrogation
Interstellar
Jay and Silent Bob Reboot
Jobs
Joy Ride 1-3
Justice League (2017 Whedon Cut)
Last Action Hero
Major League
Mallrats
Man of Steel
Man on the Moon
Man vs Snake
Marine 3-6
Merry Friggin Christmas
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpions Revenge
National Treasure
National Treasure: Book of Secrets
Nintendo Quest
Not for Resale
Old Joy
Payback (Director’s Cut)
Pulp Fiction
The Punisher (1989)
The Ref
The Replacements
Reservoir Dogs
Rocky I-VIII
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
San Andreas
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Scott Pilgrim vs the World
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Shoot em Up
Slacker
Skyscraper
Small Town Santa
Speed
Steve Jobs
Source Code
Star Trek I-XIII
Sully
Take Me Home Tonight
TMNT
Trauma Center
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
UHF
Veronica Mars
Vision Quest
The War
Wild
The Wizard
Wonder Woman
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men: Apocalypse
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Friday, September 10, 2021

30 Years of Super Nintendo – Flashback Special


The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) recently celebrated its 30th anniversary of the North American launch, so it seems the perfect time to post a Flashback Special honoring it! Suppose you have not perused a past Flashback Special of mine (all linked at the bottom of this entry). In that case, they are essentially my history with the platform over the years, with a little bit of history thrown in, and recounting all my favorite games, accessories, memories, and moments with the system.

Odds are for the average gaming enthusiast reading this, and you probably are familiar with the core details of the SNES launch stateside (if not, then I highly recommend CGQ’s video on it for a quick breakdown). The SNES launched in 1991 when I was eight. I did not have a subscription to any gaming magazines yet, so I most likely first found out about the system around that time from classmates at the time at school, the infamous Paul Rudd commercial, and the fourth season of Roseanne that transpired from 1991-92.

I vividly remember the Roseanne episode with her son, DJ, pleading with his parents for the brand new SNES for his birthday gift and how his parents dreaded not being able to afford the system. I covered that episode when I did my Roseanne complete series re-watch here in the year leading up to the relaunch of the show several years ago. It brought back memories of how that was the story with my parents also denying me the much sought-after SNES, saying it cost too much and that I already have an NES to tide me over. ”But mommmmm, the SNES is 16-bits!!!!” Yeah….playing that angle got me nowhere.

Kiosks & Friends

The first couple of years for the SNES, I mostly remember playing at store kiosks. Super Mario World blew me away from the brief time I played it with it being such a leap from the NES installments. I always ate up the precious few minutes I could procure at a store kiosk if no one were playing Super Mario Kart. One last store kiosk memory was eye-gazing over the impressive WWF Royal Rumble. I loved WWF WrestleFest in the arcade, and for a couple of years, it was the only WWF game that offered up WWF’s marquee over-the-top rope elimination match, the Royal Rumble, and it was endlessly fun to play in the arcade. Fast-forward to playing it on console kiosks around its 1993 release, and I could not eat up enough of that game’s Royal Rumble mode either, and at the time, the graphics seemed like a huge step up from the wrestling games on NES. One of my favorite issues of Nintendo Power is the 50th issue that did a several-page spread on WWF Royal Rumble that I must have thoroughly re-read at least a dozen times.

I read this NP spread of WWF Royal Rumble many times, and it was one of my initially most desired SNES games!


Around 1993/94, a couple of friends and classmates started to get the Super Nintendo. An early SNES memory that stuck with me all these years is my grade school friend, Jon-Paul, having me over for his birthday where he rented a SNES console and Street Fighter II: Turbo from the video store, and we played it for several hours straight. Another is spending a lot of 1994 at my neighborhood friend’s place, where we played countless sessions of NBA Jam and Mortal Kombat II. Both games were big on codes and secrets and perfect two-player games. I was just regularly getting into video game magazines at this time and ate up issues of Tips & Tricks, Game Players, and Electronic Gaming Monthly to see what kind of hidden character and other much-rumored codes were making the waves each month for both of these games. Mortal Kombat II especially dominated the code-fervor that season with trying to uncover how to face off against secret characters like Jade, Noob Saibot, and Smoke, and trying to memorize all the input sequences for the game’s infamous Fatalities.

Fast forward to late 1995/early 1996, and I still did not have a SNES, but a new neighborhood friend, Rich, just got one and the next several months at his place introduced me to so many SNES games. Rich kind of got me somewhat into RPGs at the time, and while it may not sound fun on paper, there were many times I recall just kind of embracing the role of “armchair gamer.” I did this for games like EVO: Search for Eden, and Eye of the Beholder while keeping an eye out during gameplay to offer whatever suggestions seemed viable.

FFVI was eye-opening to me at the time of what video game narratives were capable of, and I devoured the latest secrets for FFVI discovered in the latest issue of my Game Players subscription that was delivered.


The RPG I felt like that I contributed something to was the game that was originally released as Final Fantasy III. That game featured two-player support for battles only, so it was refreshing to help Rich with progressing through the game finally. My two favorite characters to use were Sabin and Cyan. That game especially blew me away with its larger-than-life story with two different game worlds, the momentous opera scene with Celes, the dazzling mode-seven graphics when traveling via airship or Chocobo, constantly getting irked at Shadow whenever he deserted the party, and so many other priceless moments. Over the years, I tried restarting the GBA version on a couple of occasions and regrettably have yet to finish it.

Finally Owning a SNES….in 1996

Growing up with divorced parents put me in a unique childhood when it came to gaming. I lived with my mom, who provided for us as best as possible for the three siblings I grew up with, so we only had an NES for us for the longest time. However, when visiting my dad on weekends, he would always be big on hitting up as many garage sales and second-hand stores as possible and would acquire whatever he thought seemed like a bargain. Games-wise, this usually meant he lagged behind a generation because everyone was offloading their Atari VCS/2600s at garage sales for cheap when the NES was king, so I could have a great couple of years to become familiar with the pioneering-era of games on Atari. He then got into the NES scene when the SNES hit in 1991.

Sure enough, the same month the N64 launched in America in September 1996 was when he bought a Super Nintendo for the family used at our local Premiere Video. The game we picked up with it was Street Fighter II: Turbo. My dad instantly remarked upon booting it up the noticeable jump in graphics. We played nothing but Capcom’s second Street Fighter game on SNES for a few weekends. I could only finish that game by button mashing into a victory against the final boss, M. Bison, once….with M. Bison. I still have a lot of love for this era of Street Fighter - whether it be for the roster, every character’s stage and theme music, and receiving Nintendo Power’s strategy guide for the game for Christmas and studying it regularly to improve.

After a few weeks, we realized we needed something else than a fighting game, and after another trip to Premiere Video, we came home with Super Mario All-Stars. It felt like the easy choice to go with 16-bit remakes of all four 8-bit versions of the core Mario Bros. games. Every game felt like a whole different game with all-new graphics and sound, and more importantly, being able to save progress midgame. This was a bigger hit with the entire family, and it provided many days of taking turns in its alternating two-player mode to see who could get the farthest in the four Mario games included.


Make sure to have some tissues by your side as you witness FFIII/VI's infamous "opera" scene. Seriously, this was mind-blowing stuff to 13-year old Dale in 1996.


16-bit Sportsball Fun

After playing a lot of those first two SNES games, I went into this stretch for the next several years, where most of what I played was sports and wrestling games. I attribute this to many multiplayer sessions with Rich, my brother, Joe, and my dad. I know my dad was not all that into sports other than a passing interest in rooting on hometown Minnesota pro-sports teams. Still, I have to give him credit for spending as much time with us and taking the time to learn and become a pretty solid player at teaming up with me in many sports games.

It is worth noting that I feel the 16-bit era is probably the last-gen where most of its library of sports games had a relatively simple pick-up-and-play feel that NES games had. That changed a little bit in the final SNES years, where it was usually EA’s games that started to incorporate more realism in their sports games and make use of most of the buttons of the SNES controller.

For football, Madden NFL ‘97 was the one I played the most. I played plenty of the Genesis version at Rich's place, so much so that I noticed too many little differences with the SNES version to make it stand out on its own. For 16-bit sports nuts that want to know, the Genesis version had the better playing version, but the SNES had a better overall presentation and more popping audio and visuals. I was part of a small slice of sports gamers big into NES Play Action Football, and the 16-bit version played almost exactly like the NES version, but with a 16-bit upgrade and also has a nifty feature to play games at the high school, college, or NFL level.

NBA Jam and NBA Hangtime dominated my 16-bit sports lineup. The code scene for these games were so intense at the time I had to keep my own binder of notes on them all that I still have today as seen above!


As I alluded to earlier, when it came to hoops, I played way too much NBA Jam the first year it was out at my friend’s place. However, the arcade hoops game I played the most on SNES was NBA Hangtime, which was developed by the same people who made Jam. I got that game new for Christmas in 1996 and must have played it regularly with Rich for nearly a year straight. I do not hear that game receive the same level of praise as Jam, but it added a few new fun layers to freshen up the gameplay, like being able to do co-op dunks and earn “Team Fire,” and being able to create players. For more simulation-focused hoops, I played a lot of NBA Live ’96 with my dad, in addition to Nintendo’s NCAA Basketball which appeared like a technical marvel to me that was ahead of its time with the mode-seven camera allowing constant 3D rotation whenever possession of the ball changed and foreshadowed what would become the go-to camera perspective for the next-gen of basketball games. Finally, I will cherish my time with Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball for it being the only hoops game I ever had to consult a guide to figure out how to shoot the damn ball….and for its surprisingly rocking soundtrack. Find out all about it when I broke that game down with the Your Parents Basement crew on their penultimate podcast.

Nintendo incorporated the same camera style into its hockey game, NHL Stanley Cup. Its graphics also impressed me, but it was rather challenging to score a goal, and I did not have as much fun with it. I played EA’s hockey games more on Genesis than SNES, but EA’s baseball game, MLBPA Baseball, was the hardball game I spent the most time with on Super Nintendo. Many years later, I picked up Nintendo’s Ken Griffey Jr. Presents: Major League Baseball, and had some fun with it, but already played the Game Boy version of it to death by the time I picked up the SNES version, and thus did not invest as much time with it as I did with EA’s game.

Wanna Wrassle!?


I must have read through this review of WWF RAW countless times in my youth, and seeing how this essentially is a bigger and better version of Royal Rumble only increased my desire to one day own a SNES!


The North American wrestling library was a significant step up from the bottom of the stairwell where most of the NES games hung out….but on the SNES, it only made it roughly halfway up the stairs. The aforementioned WWF Royal Rumble provided many hours of fun for its day, but it has not stood the test of time with the button-mashing grapple meter it featured that will obliterate thumbs on the normal difficulty level! Its sequel, WWF RAW, was noteworthy for having more match types available and being one of the first games to have a selectable female wrestler in Luna Vachon, but it too used that same ill-fated grapple meter that has not aged well. WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game is a fun little hybrid of Mortal Kombat and wrestling, but the SNES version is notorious for lacking two wrestlers compared to all other home versions.

For non-WWF games, WCW SuperBrawl Wrestling is rather unremarkable….except for its exceptional wrestler select screen.There were a few interesting unlicensed wrestling games in America. Natsume Championship Wrestling featured a solid wrestling engine but removed/altered the AJPW wrestlers from the Japanese version of the game. Hammerlock had a promising concept of having part of the screen dedicated to nonstop Tecmo-esque cinematics. In contrast, the other half of the screen featured 2D gameplay, but the cameras constantly flipped on screen, to which half was dedicated to cinematics or gameplay. It resulted in it being a jarring mess. Saturday Night Slam Masters is no such mess, however, and is a better hybrid of fighting game meets wrestling game, with this one done by Capcom. It features larger-than-life character sprites, full-on ring entrances with laser lights, and is a fun-playing combination of wrestling and Street Fighter. To top it off, Slam Masters has Final Fight’s Mike Haggar on the roster to boot!


Joey Pink does a fine job detailing why Capcom's "Street Fighter" in a wrestling ring should not be missed!


Ensuring RPGs are here to Stay

Aside from watching Rich play some of the RPGs I listed above, and of course, playing Final Fantasy VI with him, I did get a chance to play a few other RPGs on the SNES over the years, and it was not until the last few years that I finally finished a couple of them. In the late 1990s I first started two RPGs that stood out to me at the time because they broke out of the medieval fantasy mold most other RPGs at the time took place in. Shadowrun on the SNES was drastically different from the Genesis version I first encountered at Rich’s. This one still had the same futuristic cyberpunk world setting and terminology, but there were many more dialog options with NPCs that were pivotal in asking the right questions to progress the story. Additionally, the hacking games played out differently and had more of a puzzle theme to them than the action-oriented ones in the Genesis version, and the combat had kind a PC interface where a cursor had to be dragged across the screen on which target to aim at. I still wound up being totally into it and became stuck in the back half of the game before my save data became corrupted. I thought that would end my days with Shadowrun

SNES Shadowrun remains one of my all-time favorite RPGs as of this writing! The final gauntlet tower was an ordeal and a half to work through, only to face off against a dragon as the final boss!


…until nearly two decades later in 2016. I mentioned on past flashback specials how I occasionally guest host on the Your Parents Basement podcast, where they cover a random retro game per episode. In 2016 they asked me if there were any games I had in mind to cover, and Shadowrun felt like worth revisiting and possibly knocking off the “must beat this game” bucket list. I progressed until about a little over halfway through by the time we all met to record and broke down the game, but by that point, I just started to make further progress than my last effort and was determined to see this one through! I was playing on actual SNES hardware and was surprised that the battery still held a save but ran into trouble in the final tower with a gauntlet of enemies on each floor to overcome before the final boss. I looked up a walkthrough and discovered an exploit to grind experience to beef up my character. Eventually, I managed to persevere and finally conquer the final boss, a fire-breathing dragon, to cross finishing Shadowrun off my bucket list! I had a riot podcasting with the YPB crew about it too, so please click or press here to give it a listen if you want to know more about this under-the-radar 16-bit RPG.

Fast forward three years later in 2019, and the awesome YPB hosts of Steve, Huell, and Todd helped me once again restart and finish another SNES RPG that I came close to finishing in the late 1990s before evil corrupt save data reared its ugly head again. This time the game of choice is the uber-expensive Earthbound. Like Shadowrun, that game stood out to me because its setting went against the grain of fantasy settings and instead took place in modern times as grade school kids. The opening levels felt like getting lost in your neighborhood and using childlike items as weapons like Yo-Yos and baseball bats. I do not own that ridiculously expensive game, but by 2019 I did own a SNES Mini (more on that in a bit) that I made sure to abuse the save state and the rewind functions it provided to overcome some troubling bosses in the back half of the game. That final act of the game certainly goes places with its sci-fi twists and feels like an entirely different game, but I still loved it all the same! It felt exhilarating to finally knock this one off my “to do” list as well, and I had just as much fun dissecting it to pieces with the YPB crew that you can check out by click or pressing here.

Unfortunately, this is where my extensive hands-on time with SNES RPGs comes to an end. I played a lot of FFIII/VI, and finished Earthbound, and Shadowrun. Sure, I dabbled in several other games but did not put more than an hour or two into them. One of those games is the much-heralded, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and I have no excuse for never sticking with it because I loved the NES original. It was the GBA re-release I played, and I think I was spreading myself thin while playing and reviewing too many games simultaneously. Lufia and Breath of Fire II were another pair of RPGs I put a couple of hours into that both left me with promising first impressions, but there was a whole other reason why I did not go back to those again, and that is because then I was waist-deep at the time in…..

Discovering Emulation

Right around the time my family acquired its first computer in the fall of 1997 was when I found out about emulation. It seemed way too good to be true to easily download and play games right on the computer, especially when factoring in the SNES was at the tail end of its lifecycle, and there were still new games releasing for it. As an unemployed 9th grader at the time, I sampled countless 8- and 16-bit ROMs with the SNES games I was the most curious about. A few of the RPGs in the previous paragraph being prime examples of the ones I invested the most time into. It proved to be overwhelming with so many choices, but I took a long sabbatical after a year or so of taking in the emulation scene after the family computer crashed and I lost all the save data I had amassed in so many games.

It has been interesting to see how emulation has evolved over the years from programs like SNES9X and Retroarch to being incorporated into machines like the MISTer, RetroPi, and Retron 5. Nintendo has learned to embrace official, legal emulation over the years with purchasable digital classic games on systems such as the Wii, WiiU, and 3DS. Having a stable income as an adult now many years later, I feel guilty for embracing the emulation scene so hard in my teenage years, so much so that whenever Nintendo re-releases one of its classic hits several times over, I choose to purchase it again (well…usually at a sale price) to redeem myself.

Keeping SNES Alive Today

Over the years, I find myself diving into retro games versus the latest and greatest coming out. I am a fan of the various SNES hardware updates/clones, both officially from Nintendo and unofficially from other companies, which has kept my SNES and other retro game fandom blood flowing over the decades. I am unsure if it feels right to lump it in here, but the Super Game Boy lead to me getting a lot of extra life out of my SNES. Playing Game Boy games on the big screen was a big deal to me back then, considering it was always a pain to make out what was happening on the non-backlit handheld. For some reason, those special border screens that would eventually have funny animations after being left idle for so long made an impression on me. Game Boy games with the “Super Game Boy Enhanced” logo on the front of the box usually have their own exclusive border and special color palette. I loved the Mole Mania and Donkey Kong Land borders the most! I thought it was rad that around 15-20 special enhanced Super Game Boy titles featured multiplayer support with two SNES controllers. They consisted almost entirely of Bomberman and fighting games, but it was still a cool feature nonetheless.

The handheld Hyperkin SupaBoy is the unauthorized SNES take on the Sega Nomad by having a portable SNES. It is a bit on the bulky side, but it has a rechargeable battery, and its support has been flawless with my entire SNES library. Another Hyperkin product I got a lot of use out of is the Retron 5. I know that particular clone system is controversial with retro game enthusiasts based on the unauthorized emulators it implements. However, the user interface and emulation support made it possible for me to make record progress in many SNES games by taking advantage of save states and its optional Game Genie-esque cheats library. The SNES Classic Edition is an excellent official piece of hardware from Nintendo that has the pint-sized SNES pre-installed with 21 SNES games, one of which is previously unreleased Star Fox 2. It has an adorably intuitive interface and supports game rewinding and save states, which made it the way I was finally able to finish Earthbound. It was also surprisingly not-so-difficult to plug into a PC and import a bunch of SNES ROMs into. Other companies like 8bitdo made that system extra convenient by making their recommended wireless controllers compatible with it!

If you did not grow up with the SNES, then both of these options are great entry points for those looking to move on beyond emulators.


The Analogue Super NT may have been pushing it too much price-wise. When it comes down to the nuts and bolts of emulation tech, I am not a wizard by any means, except that by all sources, it sounds like the Super NT offers the best hardware emulation with its FPGA technology. It makes SNES games appear as pristine as possible on an HD/4KTV without any or as minimal of the fuzziness that happens whenever I try plugging in the composite/RCA cables from a base SNES system into a 4K/HDTV. For those unfamiliar with the Super NT, this video from the My Life in Gaming crew does a thorough dissection of everything it has to offer. The list of options in there is intimidating to mess around with, but this sounds like the way to go if one wants to keep playing their cartridges……although I have to admit I am pretty satisfied currently with the Retron 5 and SNES Classic Edition.

Odds are some of you are quite a bit younger than me and grew up post-SNES lifecycle. Not interested in going down the pricey road of hunting down old cartridges and hardware, and do not want to dabble on the dark side of illegal emulation? Then a terrific alternative is if you have a Switch with Nintendo’s $20/year online service membership and taking advantage of the Nintendo Switch Online and Super Nintendo Switch Online digital game portals. It has unlimited access to the slate of games on there, along with save points as long as your membership remains active. The implementation of save states and the user interface has also improved noticeably over the emulation used for NES & SNES Classic Editions. More importantly, it adds the feature to play online with a friend.

Last year I played online SNES games with my nephew, who was wrapping up 6th grade at the time, and this was his first time playing SNES games. He loves Mario Kart 8 on Switch, and so when the first game we played was the original Super Mario Kart, I could not help but crack up when he instantly remarked, “Dale, this looks old!” He eventually came around, and then we had some fun playing co-op , Joe & Mac . A couple of years ago, on my Genesis Flashback Special, I made sure to reminisce of my fond memories of the summer I spent playing nonstop Sega Channel. These NES/SNES Switch portals are essentially the Sega Channel, but far better because it does not cost $15 a month (in 1994 dollars which equals $27.63 today per Google), offers multiple save states, and ability to play online for only $20 a year!!! Kids, get your parents to hook you up now!!!

Miscellaneous Quick Hits

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SNES games were the most common denominator on six of the 13 episodes I guest hosted on the retro game podcast, Your Parents Basement. Check out their full archives by click or pressing here.


-Turns out I did quite a few guest hosting spots on Your Parents Basement Podcast for SNES games. For those that are podcasting fiends and dug the three episodes I linked to already, then I will link you to three more SNES themed episodes I appeared on where I breathed in the Mode 7 skies of Pilotwings, embraced Capcom’s action-platformer prowess in X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, and made sure not to miss any Gatorade and Wheaties health pick-ups in Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City.

-The SNES controller is my favorite pre-disc console era controller. It kept the similar button layout of the NES controller but rounded off the edges into its iconic “dog bone” feel so the controller no longer cramped in your hands! Throw in the two extra face buttons and two additional shoulder buttons, and it opened up all kinds of deeper gameplay possibilities! It made it perfect for most fighting games that used almost all the face and shoulder buttons. I found the shoulder buttons were also smartly implemented in NBA Jam/Hangtime for being assigned to use for turbo speed functionality.

As far as other SNES controllers/peripherals go, since I loved the NES Zapper, I always wanted to try the Super Scope, but as a kiddo, its bazooka-sized proportions were kind of intimidating. It still kind of bums me out all these years I never got to experience it with epics like Yoshi’s Safari, T2: The Arcade Game, and Tin Star. I never had an opportunity to use the SNES mouse either, which I kind of regret all these years later after seeing all the marvelous creations from experts at Mario Paint, and it was cool to see some PC ports like Civilization, Doom, and Wolfenstein 3D take advantage of SNES Mouse compatibility.

-The 16-bit era was when fighting games exploded, and as you can tell above, I spent a lot of time with Street Fighter II: Turbo, and the first two Mortal Kombat games. Other than that, though, the only other fighting game on SNES I put significant time into was TMNT Tournament Fighters. It was released at the tail end of the TMNT-mania when the cartoon peaked at its popularity. The game itself was a surprisingly competent licensed fighting game from Konami, and tried its best to feel like a solid Street Fighter-clone. Speaking of them pesky turtles…

-…TMNT IV: Turtles in Time was the only beat-em-up brawler I put considerable time into on the SNES. I have vague memories of trying others out once or twice like The Peace Keepers, and Super Double Dragon, but Turtles in Time was the one I frequently revisited over the years. It is a superb rendition of the arcade game, with SNES-exclusive levels like the Technodrome that had a fantastic first-person boss fight against Shredder, where lowly Foot Soldiers had to be chucked right at him to defeat Shredder. The soundtrack is one of my favorite SNES scores, so much so that I went all-in to get the for it! I have so many great memories of this game, with the highlight being my friend Matt and I revisiting this for complete runs of it once every year or two for about a dozen years.


Turtles in Time and FFIII/VI are my favorite SNES soundtracks, but Turtles in Time I own on vinyl so I will embed it here in all its glory for you to enjoy as well!


-The SNES library had a quality slate of racing games. Super Mario Kart quickly rose to the top of the ranks and was always fun to bust through a GP with a friend. Street Racer was one of the first kart-clones to hit in 1994, and for some reason, that one always stuck with me. As did it being one of the few games to have four-player split-screen support with all four screens being horizontal! Rock ‘n Roll Racing is another killer arcade racer on SNES; think of a more beefed up RC Pro-AM, but with a good dose of heavy metal mixed in. This past year saw it re-released as part of the Blizzard Arcade Collection for everyone to experience it! I remember trying out F-Zero at a store kiosk around SNES launch, but was too young at eight years old at the time to fully grasp its style of futuristic racing (or that the name was a riff on F1 racing until a couple of years ago). I was more into a game similar to its style that was the trilogy of Top Gear titles.

Uniracers was a quirky racer I enjoyed with its unique aesthetic and one-wheeled racers taking advantage of their nature in races filled with jumps and loop-de-loops….too bad about Pixar holding a grudge against Nintendo and legally forcing them to yank it off shelves. Nintendo’s other racer, Stunt Race FX, was ahead of its time with the polygonal FX-based graphics running pretty chunky on the SNES. Still, it is a commendable piece of 16-bit tech they were just barely able to keep running at a passable-enough framerate. Another FX-chip game that did not originally gel with me was…

-…the original Star Fox. Being 10 when it released in 1993, I thought those polygonal graphics looked blocky and horrendous and would have none of it! Many years later, I would revisit it and rightfully come around on it!

-Another Nintendo-published game that received a lot of hype was Donkey Kong Country with its cutting-edge 3D models. They were plastered all over gaming mags at the time. I briefly recall trying out the first and second of the three Donkey Kong Country games on SNES. However, I did not put more time into them because I beat Donkey Kong Land on Game Boy before our family got a SNES, which was just a watered-down port with some remixed levels for the handheld. I enjoyed my time with it, but its disappointingly blunt “congratulations” ending left a bad impression on me, and I never felt like giving the other entries a serious go all these years.

-Some may be wondering why there has yet not been anything dedicated to the pair of Super Mario World titles and Super Mario RPG? Super Mario World was probably one of the first SNES games I tried when I visited my older brother at his first apartment in the early 90s. I think the heavy-duty graphics and trying to comprehend attacking with Yoshi proved to be too much for eight or nine-year-old me at the time. I played it a few other times in my 20s, hanging out with coworkers on retro game nights, and had fun with it, but I think since I was exposed to the NES trilogy more and played the hell out of All-Stars, that those were the versions I preferred more.

I appreciated how Nintendo stepped up to Sega’s edgier marketing at the time with Nintendo’s “Play it Loud” marketing campaign. Unfortunately, I think their ad for Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island was a bit too extreme for 12-year old Dale at the time. That ad (click here for it if you are feeling daring)was forever planted in my subconscious and always crossed my mind and indirectly caused me to avoid Yoshi’s Island for all these years. I did pick up Super Mario RPG and it is on my “bucket list” of games to play as well. I am holding off on it all these years because I was hanging out with Matt one day, and he explained how he was having a tough time with the final boss, Smithy. Well, he wanted to give me a quick demo to show how unforgiving of a challenge the boss was….but for some reason his clutch gaming skills kicked in right then, and he beat Smithy and was exposed to the ending right then and there!

-As far as other tough SNES games go, the two most challenging for me are easily Contra III: The Alien Wars and Zombie Ate My Neighbors. Contra III is like the first two games on steroids. I love the boss battles and intense walk-n-shoot chaos, but do not love constantly dying in one shot! Zombies Ate My Neighbors is another fun action-platformer that is also equally tough to make it farther than a few levels in unless you seriously dedicate yourself to it. Hey, both of these games also saw re-releases this past year on current consoles with the Contra Anniversary Collection and Zombies Ate My Neighbors & Ghoul Patrol set for those wanting to experience 16-bit nail-biting difficulty (but with save state support!).


I hope this excellent video review from the quintessential retro video game source, Jeremy Parish, suffices for my lack of any meaningful Super Mario World memories here.


-In 1997, I was hyped for a late SNES release, the original Harvest Moon. The farm/life/dating-sim series is still around today from publisher Natsume (as well as the original developers parting ways with Natsume and delivering their own competing Story of Seasons series). During the SNES era, I spent several summers out on a farm. I appreciated rural life's solitude and free spirit lifestyle, and that first Harvest Moon game perfectly encapsulated that. Trying to determine the best way to spend the day tending to the fields, livestock and managing a social/family life was surprisingly fun and engaging! Harvest Moon remain one of two games that I submitted a blurry Polaroid photo to Nintendo Power’s “Arena” high score section. I cannot recall if my score got posted or not.

-The original Sim City port on SNES received a lot of love around the SNES launch window, with Nintendo giving it a unique makeover with bonus Nintendo characters in it and an exclusive tutor in the form of Dr. Wright to ease everyone into the simulation gameplay. I never played too much of that version, but one night at Rich’s, the game we decided to rent that night was Sim City 2000. That one was released way late into the SNES lifecycle and lacked any Nintendo extras the first SNES game had. Still, we stayed up all night playing it and looking at our daily news recap and mayor approval ratings and trying to figure out where to stop underwater pipe blockages! It ran slowwww on the SNES, but we tolerated it fine enough at the time because I had yet to play the PC version. Eventually, I would check out the PC version and came away surprised with so much I had to put up within the SNES game.

-For those wanting to dare the Super Famicom scene, there are a plethora of great games that never made their way stateside, and better yet, a hearty chunk of them have received English fan translations. I am partial to the FirePro wrestling games that never made it here that are vastly superior to all the American wrestling games I broke down above, BS Out of Bounds Golf is an addicting take on miniature golf, the original Star Ocean, and the Back to the Future platformer that was not a five-star classic by any means, but blew away the poor NES and Genesis games that did release here. If you are not that familiar with the Super Famicom library, this top 50 list from RVG Fanatic is a great place to start your research and very much helped clueing me into a bunch of Super Famicom games I had little-to-no knowledge of.

Conclusion

If you are around my age reading this, you may be wondering why I have not gone on about the fabled “16-bit Wars” by now. Rest assured, I experienced it in the lunchroom and at recess and in gaming magazines at the time. I devoured all the side-by-side screenshots in gaming mags of dual-platform releases to see if I could spot which version was better. I want to say back then, I sided with the SNES because I grew up with the NES, but that does not seem like a fair choice since I did not own a SNES until 1996. Reflecting on it, although I experienced a fair amount of RPGs and other games on SNES with Rich, I primarily played endless hours of Genesis games with him back at the time. So whenever I hung out with Rich, I considered myself a Genesis fan, and when I finally got a SNES and grew my SNES library, I considered myself a SNES fan and avoided a lot of the “console wars” trash talk. For younger readers here who want to learn more about the fervor of the 16-bit wars, the book, Console Wars, and its corresponding documentary (which is currently only available on Paramount+/CBS All Access sadly) are my recommended ways to absorb all that hoopla.

I will cherish all of the past 30 years of SNES memories and hope you have enjoyed reminiscing with me for the last several thousand words. If you want to hear more of my SNES memories in podcast form, I have a few SNES-centric episodes of my old podcast I recently un-vaulted and have embedded below for your pleasure. They have some of the friends I repeatedly mentioned above as co-hosts that share their SNES experiences and memories, so please load up a random SNES “podcast game” and boot one of these podcasts up for fitting background noise….




10 years ago I did a 20th anniversary SNES special with Matt!


Here is the history of RPG series episode dedicated to the 16-bit era.


Finally, here is Matt and I hosting the 16-bit installment of our history of comic book games series.


Bonus Overtime

It would not be a Flashback Special without one random oddball bonus story to wrap it up with. The only Kirby game I ever finished receives that honor. One day, my brother and his friend Jake were over at my place. We were discussing SNES games at some point, and Jake mentioned how Kirby Super Star is his all-time favorite. I said how I never played it and did not think anything of it at the time, but the next time I met up with him and my brother, Jake had the copy of that game with him and insisted on borrowing it to me and said not to give it back until I finished it. I felt this sudden obligation to play through it as a priority, so I did not feel like I was keeping his game hostage.

Luckily, Kirby Super Star is a damn fun game, which the front of the box labels as “8 Games in One!” Most of the games are abbreviated-length adventures of only a handful of missions in their unique theme of levels, and a few of the games are mini-games like a race against King DeDeDe. Regardless, almost every game provided that trademark Kirby lighthearted fun and was hard to put down! Kirby’s Dream Course is also a lot of fun on SNES, and is an interesting take of Kirby meets miniature golf! With that anecdote, I will wrap up yet another Flashback Special. Thank you for sticking with me this far, and If you dug reading about my trials and tribulations with Nintendo’s 16-bit machine, please take a look at the other Flashbacks I have linked below!



My Other Gaming Flashbacks

Dreamcast 20th Anniversary
GameBoy 30th Anniversary
Genesis 30th Anniversary
NES 35th Anniversary
PSone 25th Anniversary
PS2 20th Anniversary
PSP 15th Anniversary and Neo-Geo 30th Anniversary
Saturn and Virtual Boy 25th Anniversaries
TurboGrafX-16 30th and 32-X 25th Anniversaries
Xbox 360 15th Anniversary

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Speed



Today’s entry will mark the first official 4K home video release I am writing about. I already own a few other 4K UHDs, and a couple of months ago, I watched my first 4K video at home with 2001’s The Fast and the Furious. However, I already covered that movie’s BluRay release here several years ago, so I will not be dedicating another entry for it, other than to say that the 4K upgrade pops and makes it look like a new release. Today’s entry is for 1994’s Speed (trailer). Before diving into this movie, I noticed one of the tracks from this film’s score repeatedly used throughout sounds awfully like one of the main themes I primarily associated with the Metal Gear Solid franchise. I have no idea if this was pointed out before, and I just overlooked it all these years, or maybe I am grasping at straws. Click or press here to take a listen and decide for yourself.

1994 was a hell of a year for Hollywood movies primarily transpiring from a highway with The Chase, Speed, and the OJ Simpson Bronco chase….oh wait (although I highly recommend the ESPN 30 for 30 on it, simply titled: June 17th 1994). The majority of Speed has a straightforward premise: serial bomber and local madman Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper) planted a bomb on a bus rigged to explode once the bus drops below 55 miles per hour. Police officer Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) is alerted to this by the bomber himself to exact revenge on Traven after successfully rescuing hostages from an elevator Payne armed at the beginning of the film.

From there, for the middle hour of this nearly two-hour film, the action almost entirely takes place on the bus. Traven makes a grand entrance onto the bus by commandeering a Jaguar and having its owner (Glenn Plummer) take the wheel so Traven could heroically leap onto the bus and save the day. It would not be that easy of a rescue mission as Payne has eyes on the bus, and Traven has to play by his rules and get him his $3 million ransom to disarm the bus.

Without question, the middle hour on the bus is the best part of the film. The opening half-hour is an excellent appetizer with the elevator hostage crisis that Traven and his partner, Harry (Jeff Daniels), successfully foil. However, once the action shifts to the bus is when Speed takes off. Shortly after taking control of the bus, one of the passengers freaks and inadvertently shoots the bus driver, and a fellow passenger, Annie (Sandra Bullock), takes over the wheel. Throughout the film, Annie and Traven have wonderful chemistry, and I could not help but root for the duo throughout. Every couple of minutes, there is a new potential conflict to overcome to keep the bus going over 55mph. The film wisely peppers in brief dialog exchanges to let the movie breathe just enough before the next hurdle makes itself present.

The film's standout moment is the major obstacle for the bus to overcome when it encounters a stretch of unavoidable highway under construction and missing a hearty chunk of the road. Traven’s solution is that since that stretch of a road is on an incline, they may clear that gap if they build up enough speed! That epic stunt hits all the right notes, and I got goosebumps all over again re-watching it, and odds are, I bet you did too if you have seen this movie. If you have not, then watch this scene and see for yourself by click or pressing here. A lot of the critical discussion in the aftermath of this movie was if that jump was realistically possible. The best thing I can do is to compare it to another film, Road Trip, which is likely a better indicator of what could happen when attempting such a feat.

Once the middle bus portion of the film is over, there are still about 20 minutes left where Traven tracks and chases down Payne in a subway station. The movie felt over once the bus portion had such a satisfying conclusion that it almost feels wrong to keep sticking with the film by this point, but I recommend you do since there is a satisfying payoff in the form of Payne’s demise. I have to share a story now when I first saw this film at around 13 or 14 on VHS. My dad’s VCR had what seemed to me at the time was a revolutionary feature where if I kept pressing the pause button repeatedly, it would slowly, frame-by-frame, play the film in super slow-motion. At that age, I thought this was a fantastic way to get the most out of the biggest stunts in action scenes. My favorite moment exploiting this feature was seeing Traven and Payne wrestle around on the top of a subway train until Payne was not watching his field of vision, and a warning light lead to his sudden beheading. I slow-motion replayed that sequence countless times in my awkward, early teenage years. Suffice it to say, Hopper plays the out-of-his-mind bomber perfectly, going so far as to make sure he receives his appropriate cinematic comeuppance.

The director ensures the many passengers on the bus maximized their minutes to the point I where it feels like you are right there with them!


Two audio commentaries are the only extra features of the 4K disc in this 4K/BluRay combo pack. One is with the director, Jan de Bont, and the other is with producer Mark Gordon and writer Graham Yost. Props are to whoever decided to subtitle the commentary tracks. I very much appreciate it! I first started to bounce back and forth between the two commentary tracks, but Bont was way too relaxed and had too many pauses to hold my attention, and I finished up with his track within five minutes. However, Yost and Gordon are very much engaged from beginning to end and have fun cracking jokes and sharing memories throughout. Some quick takeaways I got from them were how they wanted to film a major scene outside of a sports arena, dealing with critics poking holes at how unrealistic their stunts were, and how watching the movie felt very different at the time of the commentary recording just two months after 9/11.

The BluRay disc contains the remainder of the bonus features. Inside Speed is a four-part feature lasting just under an hour breaking down the visual effects, stunts, and location sequences, but half of it also contains an HBO First Look special hosted by Dennis Hopper that hits all the right kinds of cheesy mid-90s EPK nostalgia that it is worth checking out. Aside from 12 minutes of extended scenes and a Billy Idol music video that seems totally off base with the tempo of the film, there are a couple of Action Sequences mini-features breaking down some of the stunts. I highly recommend watching the one dissecting how they did the bus jump, as it shows raw footage of what really happened when they shot it, and showed footage of some of the specific safety measures they instilled to make that stunt as safe as possible and had some eye-opening interviews with the stunt driver before and after.

After watching that old VHS copy nearly a dozen times, Speed wound up being one of my favorite action films I got burnt out early on and never bothered upgrading to a DVD or standalone BluRay. Watching it again in 4K all these years later breathed new life into it for me. I am not an expert at breaking down video quality by any means, but watching the 4K disc on my 4KTV gave the impression of this having far more current production values. The editors somehow managed to remove all the old film grain defects for a smooth 4K upgrade. If you have not seen Speed yet, then it has everything you could want out of a mid-90s action movie with explosions, gripping thrills and stunts, dramatic rescues, plenty of zinger one-liners…..and a Billy Idol theme song. Pardon me while I attempt my best Dennis Hopper impression here, “Pop quiz, hotshot, which 1994 blockbuster that takes place primarily on a bus is a perfect candidate for beer and popcorn movie night at home?”

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

3
12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Rounds 3: Lockdown
21 Jump Street
The Accountant
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
The Avengers: Endgame
The Avengers: Infinity War
Batman: The Dark Knight Rises
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: Civil War
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Christmas Eve
The Clapper
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
The Condemned 2
Countdown
Creed I & II
Deck the Halls
Detroit Rock City
Die Hard
Dirty Work
Dredd
The Eliminators
The Equalizer
Faster
Fast and Furious I-VIII
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Gravity
Grunt: The Wrestling Movie
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
Hell Comes to Frogtown
Hercules: Reborn
Hitman
I Like to Hurt People
Indiana Jones 1-4
Inglourious Basterds
Ink
The Interrogation
Interstellar
Jay and Silent Bob Reboot
Jobs
Joy Ride 1-3
Justice League (2017 Whedon Cut)
Last Action Hero
Major League
Mallrats
Man of Steel
Man on the Moon
Man vs Snake
Marine 3-6
Merry Friggin Christmas
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpions Revenge
National Treasure
National Treasure: Book of Secrets
Nintendo Quest
Not for Resale
Old Joy
Payback (Director’s Cut)
Pulp Fiction
The Punisher (1989)
The Ref
The Replacements
Reservoir Dogs
Rocky I-VIII
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
San Andreas
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Scott Pilgrim vs the World
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Shoot em Up
Slacker
Skyscraper
Small Town Santa
Steve Jobs
Source Code
Star Trek I-XIII
Sully
Take Me Home Tonight
TMNT
Trauma Center
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
UHF
Veronica Mars
Vision Quest
The War
Wild
The Wizard
Wonder Woman
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men: Apocalypse
X-Men: Days of Future Past