Connect with us


Top 10 Games with TV Editor Randy Dankievitch



Top 10 Games is a new, semi-regular series that hopes to offer a bit of insight into the twisted minds of Goomba Stomp’s writers, editors, and podcasters by allowing them to tell you about their all time favorite games, and why they love them to such an unhealthy degree.

My introduction to video games came around 1989, when my parents introduced me to Frogger and Pac-Man on the Atari 2600. Immediately, I was drawn in to these strange, colorful digital worlds, a love that would continue as I discovered the magic of early ’90s arcades and the NES, through to today, where I consume video games almost as much as I do television (who needs the real world, right?). In those 28-plus years of gaming, I don’t even want to try to remember how many games I’ve actually played; what I do remember, however, are the games that have left an indelible mark on my life. Without further ado, these are my ten favorite games of all-time:

Batman: Arkham Asylum

From the opening scene, I was hooked by this absolute gem of a third-person action game. Before Rocksteady took over development of Batman games in 2009, there had never been a Batman game that had felt right; sure, some people are partial to the stiff cheesiness of the movie/cartoon tie-in games, but it never really felt like anything had truly captured the adventures of the World’s Greatest Detective.

From the opening sequence of Arkham Asylum, I was enraptured by the world and systems Rocksteady created for my favorite comic book character (plus the cape tech; oh god, the glorious cape techhh); set against the beautifully Gothic backdrop of Gotham’s most infamous mental institution (and telling a fine incarnation of the typical Joker/Batman cat and mouse dance), Arkham Asylum finally made Batman feel like he should – aka, a wickedly smart and deductive investigator, who had a handful of awesome toys and tools at his disposal to help him solve puzzles and take down some of his most infamous enemies.

Terrible boss sequences aside, Arkham Asylum‘s storytelling and world design stole my heart like they had it attached to the Batclaw; even though the game never entered Gotham, or allowed players to use Batman’s vehicles, it checked off every single box a Batman fan could want in a game, and then some. Arkham City and Arkham Knight may have larger worlds and more ambitious stories, but Arkham Asylum remains the definitive, iconic game in the series for this particular Bat-Nerd.

Borderlands 2

I liked Borderlands as much as the next person, so I was intrigued enough by the premise of Borderlands 2 to pick it up on launch day in September of 2012. Promising more loot, more exploration, and more butt-splosions (because, well, it is Borderlands), it sounded like Gearbox Software was ready to take the next step with their much-anticipated sequel.

Boy, was I not prepared for the absolute loot-gasm that is Borderlands 2, a game that I’ve played over 800 hours between the Xbox 360 and Playstation 4 versions over the years. There’s something magical (and highly addictive) about the central gameplay loop of BL2 that’s stuck with me through the past five-plus years; maybe it’s the millions of cool guns I’ve fired, or the dozens of different character builds I’ve put together while blasting my way around Pandora, but there’s something in Borderlands 2 that speaks directly to my soul (and no, it’s not the game’s storytelling, which I’ve always found to be its weakest feature), bringing me a joy that I hope I never lose whenever I hear that familiar menu music come across my screen, or when another player in my group says “hey, wanna dupe that?”. Borderlands 2 is a fucking masterpiece of cooperative gameplay, and will forever remain my go-to “Hey, let’s kill shit and collect cool stuff” itch-scratcher.

Grand Theft Auto IV & V

I suppose it’s cheating not to pick one of these games, but there are distinct reasons both of these titles make my list (plus it’s mine, so I can do whatever the hell I want!). Because let’s be honest: if you were to combine the story of GTA IV with the gameplay and online components of GTA V, you’d probably have the best video game of all-time. The tale of Niko Bellic is undeniably the most nuanced, three-dimensional protagonist ever featured in Rockstar’s signature series, a story of violence, immigration, and self-discovery that still shakes me to my core when I think about some of the game’s climatic moments (plus, it is the only GTA that features the phrase “Niko, when you going to take me bowling?”).

While the three stories of GTA V were ultimately a letdown, the gameplay improvements, combined with the launch and growth of GTA Online, made it another game I’ve sunk an embarrassing amount of time into (I looked at all my game timers before writing this article; I’ve spent about 650 hours doing heists, running around in tanks, and jumping off the sides of buildings on motorcycles). A hulking monster of menus that slowly grew into something deep and beautiful, GTA Online offered my friends and I a place to be as ridiculous, competitive and audacious as we wanted to be, unleashing our inner demons in a dangerous, explosive world full of awesome music, fantastic vehicles and weapons, and an unadulterated sense of freedom few games – online or off – since have been able to match.

NFL Blitz

When it comes to sports games, basketball and soccer games are typically my bread and butter. However, NFL Blitz (and the sequel, NFL Blitz 2000) are my favorite sports games of all-time; the sheer ridiculousness of it all, from the grandiose character animations to the hilarious after-whistle tackles, has always held a special appeal to me. It removes all the complexities – and if we’re being honest, violent realities – of the sport, and lets football exist in its purest, most enjoyable form; the hottest seven-on-seven action you could imagine, full of skull-shattering hits, neck-breaking spin moves, and the most ludicrous grandstanding in the end zone you could ever hope or dream of (the kind of stuff that would make Roger Goddell shit in his pants – which, by the way, fuck that guy).

This was the ultimate “practice at home, dominate at the arcade” title for me (one that wasn’t a fighting game, at least) growing up; I’d practice like hell on my Playstation to get my cheat code inputs and jump-passing skills down, then it would be off to the arcade to show those losers who knew how to dominate the digital pigskin. I’ve thought about buying an arcade cabinet as an adult, and if I ever do, you’d better believe it’s going to be an NFL Blitz cabinet, because it’s the best goddamn football game ever made.

Out of the Park Baseball

I’ve never been a big fan of management sims or strategy games, if only because I’m not the most patient gamer; however, put me down in front of Out of the Park Baseball (any of the 19 versions released, more than half of which I’ve played), and I’ll lose hundreds of hours of my life meticulously managing every (and I mean *every*) single aspect of a professional baseball organization from top to bottom. This series is an absolute nerdgasm for those who enjoy “inside baseball”, the single most customizable game experience I’ve ever had.

Thanks to the team behind this masterpiece franchise, I can play God to an entire alternate universe of baseball, losing myself in deep analytical statistics to the point where I’ve managed leagues that have lasted over 150 years (across the span of four different games, thanks to the power of OOTP‘s “import last year’s save” function, the single fucking best option put in any sports game, ever). It’s like X-Com without the aliens, or Total Empire, except the dictators are owners and the military commanders are the GMs. For anyone like me who loves baseball and its obsession with numbers (and history), Out of the Park Baseball remains a dream come true when it releases a new iteration every spring.

River City Ransom

You know how there are certain, random-ass game franchises you’ll always pluck down hard cash for on Day 1 of release, no matter how little (or bad) hype surrounds the game? That’s the River City Ransom series for me, led by the original NES title. On the surface, RCR is just a simple beat ’em up about two dudes trying to save a girl; but underneath is a hilarious, ridiculously heartfelt embrace of high school tropes and action game cliches that forever endears me to its fist pumping, enemy throwing gameplay (plus, when you eat a sandwich, the character eats the whole plate! That shit is gold!).

Honestly, River City Ransom was the first game where I learned how fun it was to play with other people; most of my early gaming was dominated by single-player experiences, and RCR was the first time I had to learn how to share resources and strategize with someone else. Whenever my cousins would come visit during the summer, one day would always be dedicated to punching the shit out of every gang in River City, as we tried to climb through the high school and save Cyndi. To this day, I still dedicate one day a year to playing through River City Ransom; and I’m happy to report it still feels just as good as it did 20 years ago.

Rocket League

When Rocket League first launched as a free game for PS Plus members in July 2015, neither myself nor my friends knew what to make of it. As a sports fan, it seemed like it might be a natural fit: but who the fuck wants to play soccer with cars instead of players? Out of pure curiosity, a few friends joined me on launch day to play a few games before we went to sleep for the night; once it was 3:30am and we realized we were still playing, we knew we were experiencing something special.

Rocket League is the ultimate sports video game; one arena, a bunch of jet-powered cars, two goals, and one big, bouncy-as-fuck ball made for one of the most addictive gaming experiences of my lifetime. Between the PS4 and Switch versions of the game, I’ve played about 4,500 matches of Rocket League, hundreds and hundreds of hours that rank among the most fun I’ve ever had playing video games. Forget a long headshot in an FPS, or the equivalent act in any simulation sports title; scoring a goal in Rocket League is the ultimate gaming dopamine, an act of channeling chaos through grace and precision that still excites me every time the goal blows up and I go flying across the field.

Super Mario Bros. 3

Getting an NES with Super Mario Bros. 3 is still the best birthday gift I’ve ever received (another shout out to my parents here). The Atari may have been my introduction to gaming, but the NES was when that interest turned into a love; I could complete most of SMB3 in my sleep at this point. This is a game so ingrained in my being, most anyone who has met me, has heard me randomly humming, whistling or singing the game’s iconic music at one time or another.

I mean, it’s the game that gave the world the fucking Tanooki suit – what else could you ask for in a video game? Treasure Ships, Giant Land, the Goomba’s Shoe, the double warp trick… everything about SMB3 is a straight banger, and it still warms my insides. Whenever the world feels a little too depressing or overwhelming, I’ve always, always kept a copy of SMB3 nearby for a quick pick-me-up. A game that has accompanied me through every major journey of my life, SMB3 will always be nearest and dearest to my nerdy gamer heart.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 is my personal gaming utopia: gameplay that balances creativity and precision, bursts of personality shining through in the writing and level design, and the hardest bumping licensed soundtrack to a video game that ever existed. It’s everything I could ever dream of in a game; so it’s no wonder this game made me miss so many goddamn deadlines in college, while my roommates and I would stay up just to play one more competitive game to see who could get the highest score (or who could get the drunkest, losing rounds of H-O-R-S-E), or who could find a new killer line in a stage and nail it.

I love all four original entries in this series, but THPS4 is the pinnacle; from the dope-ass Zoo and Shipyard levels, to the huge amount of customization in the create-a-skater and create-a-park modes, THPS4 always offered me a new challenge to master, a new line to destroy, or a new high score to beat. To this day, firing up THPS4 brings me infinite pleasure; I may not be able to string together 3 million point combos as consistently in the past, but there’s still no better board-flipping, rail-grinding time around for this digital skater (I tried skateboarding a few times in real life, and no thank you).

10 Other Games I Love Dearly: The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, Mario Kart: Double Dash, Final Fantasy VIII, Chrono Trigger, Super Mario Odyssey, NBA 2K11, Street Fighter Alpha 2, Halo 2, Crash Team Racing, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



This Heart’s on Fire: ‘Death Stranding’ and Heartman

‘Death Stranding’ has no shortage of your standard Kojima weirdos but one that almost no one is talking about is the eccentric Heartman.



Death Stranding Heartman

*This article contains spoilers up to and including Chapter 8 of Death Stranding*

Over the course of Hideo Kojima’s wildly ambitious Death Stranding there are a whole cavalcade of intriguing and intoxicating characters for players to meet and acquaint themselves with. From the guy with the weird goalie mask to the lady with the magical umbrella, there is no shortage here of your standard Kojima weirdos but one that almost no one is talking about is Heartman.

Portrayed by writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn, best known for Drive, Heartman brings the game to a dead halt when you finally meet him face to face in chapter 8 but the reprieve comes as a welcome comfort to the player. Having just crossed a treacherous mountain range and survived a second trip to Clifford Unger’s war-torn beach, most players will welcome a little down time, and Heartman is there to provide it.

Death Stranding
It’s immediately clear that Heartman’s home is something special from the moment Sam walks through the door. Lit with a ring of holographic fire, the foyer of the mansion is immediately welcoming in the hostile environment of the snowy mountains. However, it also has a sort of clinical detachment to it. This is by design, as reality for Heartman is merely a distraction — downtime to be filled.

Yes, Heartman comes with the tragic backstory players will no doubt be expecting but, like most of them in Death Stranding, his is a real treat. Delivered partly through voiceover and partly through flashback, Heartman reveals how he lost his family to a terrorist attack while in the hospital for a heart operation. When he flatlined during the operation, though, he was able to find them on the beach before being whisked away back to reality.

Obsessed with finding them again and joining them, Heartman now spends his life in 24 minute intervals: 21 minutes of life, 3 minutes of death. Every 21 minutes Heartman journeys to the beach by flatlining himself with a personal AED, only to be resurrected 3 minutes later. During those 3 minutes though, where time is altered by the elastic effect of the Death Stranding, he seeks out his family and makes observations on how the beaches and the after life work.

Death Stranding
Bizarre as all of this is, it makes Heartman a truly fascinating character. Since his life is mainly confined to 21 minutes at a time, he has collected hundreds of books, movies, and albums which can be experienced during that tiny window of time. His study is brimming with them, stacked on the ceiling high bookshelves that surround his work area. Also in the study are eerie recreations of frozen corpses, old family photos, and a host of other curiosities, each of which will earn the player likes from Heartman for noticing them.

Of course, this is the most interesting part of the meeting. As Heartman continues to explain his theories, a counter occasionally appears in the bottom corner of the screen, showing how long Heartman has before he will flatline again. When the moment of truth finally comes, he lays himself down on a chaise lounge, turns over a golden hourglass and dies before your eyes. As the Funeral March begins playing from an old record player, Sam must keep himself busy for 3 minutes while he waits for Heartman to return to the land of the living. It’s a truly brilliant moment, as a counter appears in the bottom corner again, and the player must simply take in Heartman’s eccentric home from a first person perspective for 3 minutes uninterrupted.

What would be boring as sin under the wrong direction becomes a welcome moment for the player to just sit and absorb this strange, yet comforting, place. Then, after three minutes have elapsed, Heartman reawakens and picks up from where he left off as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. He even breaks the 4th wall as he continues to talk, swatting away the timer when it appears on screen again and adding likes to your counter in real time.

There’s really nothing like the meeting with Heartman in all of Death Stranding — but then, there’s nothing like Death Stranding really in the realm of gaming either. With its long periods of walking between haunted destinations and its deliberately cryptic mythology, the game is like a series of tone poems and intellectual treatises mashed together into a post-apocalyptic courier sim.

Heartman then, with his heart-shaped lake and pink-lit study, is just one more piece of Kojima’s mad puzzle here but what a piece he is. Who would have thought the most normal looking member of Death Stranding‘s bewildering cast would end up also being one of its most interesting? Certainly not this writer. Still, Heartman and his eerie, purgatorial existence make for one of the nicest surprises in the game.

Continue Reading


Five Best New Pokémon Designs from ‘Pokémon Sword and Shield’



Much like Pokémon Sun and Moon before, Pokémon Sword and Shield is an adventure full of fascinating surprises. Some of those many surprises across the Galar region are the new pokémon you will come up against. While many of the designs in the eighth generation were a sorry sight to behold, here are five that should stand the test of time as welcome additions to the ever-growing franchise.


When I first encountered an Applin, there was a stark realization across my mind that Pokémon had ran out of ideas. Here I was, with my then Sobble, about to fight an apple with eyes. It was about as baffling as the ice cream cone back in Black and White, which looked as if it was designed by a child. But for not the first time, I was wrong, and instead of becoming three apples or a pear, Applin actually has a fantastic evolutionary journey.

Throw a sweet apple at Applin, and it’ll evolve into a Appletun, which is an interesting evolution in its own right. But when you throw a tart apple in its direction, it evolves into something so much better, with the result becoming the Flapple we see above. A tiny dragon using the broken apple it burst out of to flap around in the air is a creative concept to say the least, and certainly helped to change my early judgement on the apple core pokémon.


Farfetch’d has been an unfortunate pokémon ever since its illustrious debut on Pokémon Red and Blue. A weak pokémon that was rare by virtue of being delicious, Farfetch’d has been a pokédex filler ever since. Luckily, in the Galar region, the Farfetch’d are a little more feisty, with a new typing to match.

With a little patience and a shovel of goof fortune, you can evolve your Galarian form Farfetch’d into Sirfetch’d if you manage to deal three critical hits in one battle. The odds are increased if you catch a Farfetch’d holding a leek, and then further increased at level 55 when your Farfetch’d learns leaf blade. For what it’s worth, the hard work does pay off. Sirfetch’d is a fantastic design and suits the theme of Pokémon Sword and Shield honorably. The evolution that Farfetch’d always needed has been worth the two decade wait.

Galarian Corsola

For all the demonic ghost pokédex entries and back stories, the Galarian form Corsola hits most close to home. While the change is largely a new colour and a sad face, the reasoning can be a little more tragic.

There are no secrets about the destruction of the coral reefs across the world due to climate change. It only takes a change of a degree in temperature for the coral to expel the algae that gives them their unique colouring and become the bleached white. While the coral isn’t dead immediately, if left in that state, it does eventually starve to death. Hence Galarian form Corsola represents more than the sum of its parts, and its a clever message Game Freak has left in Pokémon Sword and Shield about the destruction of our ocean ecosystems.


Ever since Hawlucha, I have a bias towards Mexican wrestling pokémon. They’re fantastic. Clobbopus and Grapploct are no exception, and the only reason I’ve chosen Grapploct over Clobbopus is because of way Grapploct swam like a hungry Olympic swimmer to announce my destruction.

While its base stats are actually average, the confidence it showed to pursue me on my journey across the sea certainly left a stain. The design of Grapploct itself is so consistent with fighting type pokémon that it’s one of the least lazy designs in Pokémon Sword and Shield, and for all the prayers to Arceus, there are some hopelessly lazy designs in this generation.


This is going to be huge statement that might rile up a number of pokémon fans, but for me, Corviknight is the best designed bird pokémon. The whole concept fits the brief, from the armour on its head, to its seamless fit into the inspiration behind the region.

It’s no secret that the Galar region was inspired by England, from the train system to the architecture, there are pieces of Ol’ Blighty everywhere in Pokémon Sword and Shield. Some of those influences are seen in the pokémon themselves, and none express that more than Corviknight. The raven has a lot of folklore behind it, particularly its presence in the Tower of London. It is said that if the ravens were to leave the tower, then the destruction of England is imminent. As such, not only does Corviknight look like a formidable bird pokémon, it actually has a clever reason behind its design.

Continue Reading

Game Reviews

‘Donkey Kong Country’ – Still as Difficult, Demanding and Amazing to This Day



Donkey Kong Country

Donkey Kong Country: 25 Years Later

Back in 1994, Nintendo was struggling with their 16-bit Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which wasn’t selling as well as they’d hoped it would. With the release of the Saturn and Playstation on the horizon, the Super Nintendo needed a visually impressive and original title to reinforce its market dominance. After three years of intense competition and heated rivalries, Nintendo desperately needed a hit that could prove the Super NES could output graphics on the same level as the forthcoming 32-bit consoles. They teamed up with Rare to produce Donkey Kong Country, a Mario-style platformer, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Donkey Kong Country is a game held in high regard and with reason. Monumental! Monstrous! Magnificent! Use any term you want, there’s no denying how important this game was for Nintendo and Rare. The graphics for the time were above and beyond anything anyone would imagine possible for the 16-bit system. For a two-dimensional side-scroller, Donkey Kong Country conveys a three-dimensional sense of dept. The characters are fluidly animated and the rich tropical environments make use of every visual effect in the Super NES’s armory. Each stage has its own theme, forcing players to swim underwater, navigate through a misty swamp, swing from vines, or transport DK using a set of barrels (cannons) to advance. And let’s not forget the mine cart stages where you ride on rails and use your quick reflexes to successfully reach the end. Every level has little nooks and crannies too, hiding secret areas and passageways that lead to bonus games where you can earn bananas and balloons, which you can trade in for additional lives. And in Donkey Kong Country, you’re not alone; your simian sidekick Diddy tags along for the adventure. You control one character at a time, and each has his own unique strengths. Donkey Kong can dispatch larger enemies with his giant fists, while Diddy can jump a little higher than his bulky cousin. It isn’t the most original platforming feature, but it works. The two heroes can also rely on various animal friends to help guide them through their adventure. Predating Super Mario World: Yoshi’s Island, Diddy and DK can also ride on the backs of Rambi the Rhino, Winky the Frog, Enguarde the Swordfish and more!

What’s really impressive about Donkey Kong Country is how it has withstood the passage of time. In 1994, Donkey Kong Country’s visuals were spectacular with its rendered 3D models, lively character animations, detailed backgrounds, and a lush jungle setting, and while some would argue the game is dated, in my eyes it still looks great to this day. Kong has heart, and he’s willing to show it in a game made with wit, excitement and moments of visionary beauty. Meanwhile, the soundtrack by David Wise is guaranteed to win listener’s over. Practically every piece on the soundtrack exudes a certain lyricism that has become a staple of Rare’s games – from its upbeat tropical introduction to the unforgettable climax which secures its place as one of the Super Nintendo’s most memorable boss fights. The result is an apt accompaniment to the colorful characters, tropical landscape, and tomfoolery that proceeds.

What really stands out the most about Donkey Kong Country after all of these years is just how challenging this game is.

But what really stands out the most after all of these years is just how challenging this game is. Donkey Kong Country is a platformer you can only finish through persistence and with a lot of patience. Right from the start, you’re in for one hell of a ride. In fact, some of the hardest levels come early on. There are constant pitfalls and Donkey Kong can only take a single hit before he loses a life. If your companion Diddy is following you he will take over but then if he takes a single hit you lose a life and it’s back to the start of a level. Needless to say, the game is unforgiving and requires quick reflexes and precise pattern memorization to continue. This game requires so much fine precision that it will definitely appeal to hardcore platforming veterans looking for a challenge and those that do are in for one hundred eighty minutes of mesmerization, astonishment, thrills, chills, spills, kills and ills. The only real downfall of Donkey Kong Country is the boss battles. Yes, Donkey Kong Country gave us some memorable villains such as Dumb Drum (a giant Oil Drum that spawns enemies after it hits the floor), and The Kremling King (who is responsible for stealing Donkey Kong’s Banana Hoard), but these enemies have very basic attack patterns and far too easy to defeat.

It’s one of the rare, great works of art that stands up endlessly despite repeated playthroughs, each time revealing something new.

Donkey Kong Country

Along with its two SNES sequels, Donkey Kong Country is one of the defining platformers for the SNES. The game looks great and sounds great and the platforming, while incredibly difficult, is still very fun. Rare did the unexpected by recasting a classic Nintendo villain as the titular hero and it paid off in spades. It’s one of the rare, great works of art that stands up endlessly despite repeated playthroughs, each time revealing something new.

The beauty of the original is that there’s more to it than the oversized gorilla. Donkey Kong Country is truly amazing!

– Ricky D

Continue Reading