Your Quarters Worth

Part 1: Games Released Prior to 2000


Video games are a part of modern life. If you were born around the early 1980’s or later you’ve probably played a video game or a few. You might have possibly played a lot of them. You may even have what therapists and 12 steppers refer to as an addiction.

Young folks right now are getting hooked on Fortnite. Women are hanging in the waiting room of doctors’ offices and car repair shops playing Candy Crush. Where does all the hub-bub come from?

In my life today I don’t have much time to dedicate to playing, let alone grinding out and mastering any video games. I play an hour or so with my daughter and once every blue moon will settle in for a brief solo session or a trip with my crew to the Japanese inspired coin-op, Akihabara Arcade & Bar located here in Westminster Colorado.

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One could argue the merits of video games in modern life. For example the added coordination, memory, and problem solving abilities versus the value of the same time dedicated to more productive endeavors. I believe the majority of us over the age of twenty-five know all of this and make a decision whether to play or not.

This article is not a philosophical conversation. It is an expose of the greatest video games of yesterday. Although the following list is subjective, it is 100% correct and warrants no debate.

Without further adieu, here is the list of the best video games made prior to the year 2000:


Tetris (1984)

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The history of video games cannot be written without Tetris. It was the game packaged with the Game Boy for crying out loudly on the internet.

Four piece blocks fall from the top of the screen at an increasing pace forcing players to make quick choices where to put their bricks. They could either create and clear a completed line, or stack pieces and wait for a straight line piece to clear four lines at once, thus completing the titular Tetris.

As more and more lines and levels are cleared the drop rate and music speed up creating a mounting feeling of pressure. The game requires high level reaction speed and skill. There is no, “I beat the game.” The pieces just keep coming faster until inevitably the stack reaches the top of the screen and it’s “GAME OVER”. Players just earn bragging rights about their high scores and how many lines and levels they cleared.

Play Tetris alone or against friends, but be ready to have some blurred vision and weird imagery when you close your eyes after you are done.

Super Mario Bros. (1985)

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This is the game that started the console revolution. It is a relatively simple side-scroller designed for one player, or two players alternating turns. Players jump, break blocks, and run from the beginning of the levels to the ends avoiding traps, gaps, and seemingly invulnerable bad guys.

The main characters are two Italian plumbers with prominent mustaches and overalls. They are tasked with saving Mario’s kidnapped girlfriend, Princess Peach from the diabolical Bowser, King of the Koopas; an angry fireball spitting turtle-godzilla of sorts.

Those of us exposed to Super Mario can just close our eyes and hear the iconic sound effects and individual levels’ music scores. The soundtrack is so iconic that it is still used as cell phone ringtones today. Various rappers have used samples from the game in their beats. My personal favorite is Cocoa Brovas’ Super Brooklyn.

Green pipes and blocks held many secrets to be uncovered, including warps that allowed players to circumvent four to twelve levels and reach a speedy conclusion to the game.

Maybe it was due to happen anyway. Maybe it was inevitable that the jump to 8 bit and the advent of the simple to use D-pad controller would have seen the same development regardless of what game was packaged with the console, but I believe it was due to Mario, Luigi, and their friends. {1}

Many Super Mario sequels and spin-off games could be included in this list, but for the sake of brevity I will just note that the quality of the franchise is still strong in the present. Super Mario Kart (1992) and Super Mario World (1990) both for the Super Nintendo were amongst the best games ever played.

Smash TV (1990)

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Originally an arcade cabinet game, Smash TV was also known as Super Smash TV when released on Super Nintendo consoles in 1992. This may be the best video game ever made.

The game’s main premise was a game show similar to the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger movie The Running Man. Players control one of two ripped and shirtless television game show contestants. They enter the game trying to win “Big money! Big prizes! I love it!” The kicker: everyone and everything else in the game is trying to kill you.

The controls were simple. The left joystick or D-pad moved you in the eight directions. The right stick or buttons would shoot your gun in the same directions. This allowed you to evade and attack simultaneously.

There was a bird’s eye view of the action. Your two player characters were locked in a room until all the NPCs, robots, human-animal hybrids, and orbs were all disposed of or they disposed of you.

There were power-ups, game show prizes, and cash scattered to help build up your score and tempt and distract you into dangerous positions. If you chanced one you would be rewarded with 1ups, rocket launchers and other weapons, keys to hidden levels {2}, and a bomb that called all on screen baddies. Each level came with its own hard to kill big boss.

Smash TV was and still is dope. I have just recently tested it out on a thirteen year old who is hooked on Fortnite. He finished his first playing experience and looked at me and said, “Who knew that old video games could be so dope?” I did nephew, and you’re lucky to have a super-cool uncle like me. {3}

I have still yet to beat Smash TV despite many hours in the bowling alley arcade, on Super NES, and most recently on a Midway collection on my XBOX 360. I did reach 4th in the world in ranking on that 360 port. I suspect there were 8-10 players in the world at that time.

Goldeneye 007 (1997)

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1997 was a good year for gamers. That year saw the releases of the original Grand Theft Auto and Fallout, the later-heralded Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy Tactics, Tekken 3, and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter{4}. All were single player games except Tekken. None captured our multi-player attention quite like James Bond and his first person shooting video game Goldeneye 007.

Bond, James Bond, was never accessible to nerds, dweebs, or dorks like me and my ilk. He was cool, privileged, and unrealistically smooth with the ladies. That all changed with Goldeneye 007.

Originally an exclusive release for the Nintendo 64 there was a single player campaign that I remember being a somewhat fun play-through, but the real reason to do it was to unlock all the characters for the multi-player mode. The multi-player was the real reason to own the game. Many people will tell you it was the real reason to own the Nintendo 64 console; sorry, Mario Kart and Metroid.

Goldeneye made use of the console’s four controller ports. Players would split the screen into four quadrants. These were 1980’s and 1990’s era tube televisions too. They were small screens. Not one gamer complained about the size of their tiny quadrant once the match began.

Players selected their character of choice from an array of Bond characters from many of the then past movies. Next you select the map and finally the rules of the game. Then it was on like Donkey Kong.

Countless hours were spent in basements and dorm rooms finding that perfect stash spot for a proximity or remote mine. The golden gun gave players an opportunity for one shot kills if their aim was true enough to land a shot anywhere on their opponent. Their were many dimensions and options to the game.

Conceptually the game is very primitive. Of the entire list of games Goldeneye 007 suffers the most with losing its true value in nostalgia. Relative to modern shooters like Star Wars Battlefront and Call of Duty it is hardly playable. At the time though, James Bond was the James Bond of multiplayer video games. It was the pinnacle of technology and popular culture. It created a wonderful marriage of the two. In 1997 it was the best multi-player experience ever created.

Mortal Kombat (1992)

Violence in video games. It is like drug dealing in rap and duck faces on social media. It feels like the blood and gore have always been there. In truth it has been since stick figures evolved into artist rendered bodies. I will argue that Mortal Kombat sensationalized and popularized it. This is the first game I can remember that set an age requirement for purchase. Was it necessary at the time or clever marketing?

Phrases like, “Finish him!”, “Toasty!”, and “Fatality!” will forever be etched into gamers’ hearts and memories. Interactive backgrounds, secret characters and hidden levels were stashed throughout the game. Some were significantly more difficult to unlock then the rest.

All of this was fantastic dressing, but the real deal with Mortal Kombat was its fatalities. Kano ripped out your heart and held his prize in the air above his head. Scorpion removed his ninja mask to reveal just a skull and breathed fire to immolate his victim. Sub-Zero ripped your head off taking the spine with it. Johnny Cage punched you in the balls…Seriously!

Later we entered the blood code in on our consoles and we no longer needed to blow through our quarters int the arcade getting wrecked. Mortal Kombat was our gateway drug to violence in video games.

Doom (1993)

So you venture into the great unknown of deep space looking for the soldiers who ventured out ahead of you. You find them all dead at arrival and are immediately attacked by demon dogs, imps throwing fireballs, and screaming, flaming skulls. (Sounds like my kind of party.) Lets find out what’s happening instead of getting the heck out of here. That is the basic opening for this game that rocked the PCs and the video game world.

Continue deeper into the story and players find the entry way to hell. They inevitably go in. There must be some princess at the end that they will save. Nope. All that is waiting is a cybernetic fifteen foot tall demon with a rocket launcher for an arm. If players beat him their reward is to venture further into hell and a teaser to the upcoming sequel, Doom 2.

This was an early first person shooter played with a keyboard. It brought gamers back to their computers. There were awesome weapons like the chainsaw and BFG. The enemies were detailed and disturbing. Players were treated to graphic and unique gruesome deaths with each new type of bad guy and weapon. Cheat codes allowed for invulnerability and acquiring all weapons with full ammunition. There was even a code that allowed you to walk through walls like a literally goddamned Kitty Pride.

I am getting excited just thinking about Doom and all the fun I’ve had playing all the subsequent games in the franchise.

Breakout (1976) / Archanoid (1986)

I am not sure what genre these brick-breaker games fall into. Puzzle? Action? Strategy? They were that unique. They were one part pong, one part pinball. Gamers controlled a paddle at the bottom of the screen and moved it side to side on a horizontal axis. The objective was to move the paddle under the ball that bounced around the screen in geometric angles based on the speed and angle the ball hit. There would be an array of bricks on the top half of the screen that impact from the ball would break. Some bricks were resistant and took two or more hits. Some were indestructible and you had to circumvent them by strategically bouncing the ball of the walls and ceiling to avoid the indestructible blocks and hit the blocks behind it to clear the level.

If players were tricky they could even move the paddle left or right to affect the spin of the ball to speed up, slow down or change angles. Power-ups dropped if you hit certain bricks. Some were 1ups. Others altered the speed of the ball to increase or decrease. Another would give your paddle stickiness. This allowed you to catch your ball and pick where you wanted to release it. And what pinball inspired game would be complete without a multi-ball?

These games were primitive, but they were some of the best quality experiences found in the arcade and on home consoles. I’m amazed Candy Crush is so commonly played, while brick-breaker games such as Archanoid and Breakout are still available for cell phones and tablets today.

X-men vs. Street Fighter (1996)

There were fighting games and then there was Street Fighter. Then some nerd somewhere (most likely Japan) had the brilliant idea of marrying America’s obsession with super-heroes and comic books with their obsession with video games, in particular fighting games. X-men vs. Street Fighter was born.

The premise was simple, yet elegant. Select two characters from the likes of Street Fighter, such as Ryu, Akuma, and Dhalsim, as well as X-men like Storm, Gambit, and Wolverine. Both good and bad were represented. Apocalypse would be the final opponent to overcome.

The single player was cool enough on it’s own, but the real treat was its multi-player action. Players would line those quarters up to get some. One player would know just enough combos and power attacks to run roughshod through the fodder, which I was definitely included in. I spent more than a few rolls of quarters on this bad ass game.

Many iterations and evolutions have come after XM v SF including partnerships between Street Fighter and Tekken and Marvel and Japanese video game manufacturer SNK, and most recently Capcom and anime company, Tatsunoko. There has even been some 3D designs as well. They have all been strong, some more so than others, but Street Fighter vs. X-men made it possible to level up our nerd rating by fusing the pure awesomeness and crossing the popular cultural lines.

Final Fantasy VII (1997)

Cloud, Aeris, Tifa, and Sephiroth; these are some of the many iconic characters from this installment of the Japanese role playing series. This was far and away the best, most complete and deep story of the entire series; and possibly of all video games ever. Players could spend over one hundred hours playing the game and still not uncover all of its secrets.

The story was about the rape of resources of the planet, called mako. It followed two corporate/military soldiers whose brotherhood was splintered. One, Sephiroth becomes the devil incarnate through his absorption of the mako energy and risked the destruction of the planet. He becomes the primary boss and threat in the game. The other, Cloud, your playable character, gathers an array of help from friends he recruits along the way to stop his ex-bestie, Sephiroth. They both had gigantic swords and a penchant for magic.

The story has some schizophrenic elements reminiscent of Fight Club, but does not go off the deep end at any point. A main party member dies. Another sells you out to the villains. The tale told may be the best I have ever witnessed and played in video games in my life.

The weapons were cool. The magic development process was superb. Players equipped magical orbs they found throughout the game to different weapons and armor, and they imbued you with abilities, enhancements and defensive boosts. Your character and magic orbs leveled up and became stronger until players killed enough monsters, fiends, and soldiers, thus allowing you to master the magic. The summons were another special aspect to the game. Giant dragons and djinns were called forth in epic cut-scenes. They looked stellar in their detail and inflicted massive damage on your opponents.

The story cut scenes were some of the longest in video game history, but they were so detailed and memorable it didn’t take away from the experience. The battles could get repetitive as nerds ground away for loot and experience in dungeons, but it was worth it to find secrets like the playable character Vincent the Vampire, the Knights of the Round Table summon, or to successfully breed a gold Chocobo, which you could ride anywhere in the world over any terrain.

Reminiscing over Final Fantasy VII is really getting my Geek juices flowing.

Diablo (1996)

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Once again we turned on our PC for another adventure down into hell. This time we take on a third person perspective and use our mouse to direct the character’s movements, attacks, and loot gathering.

One can really nerd out and grind for experience in Diablo. Sell and trade prizes looted from downed enemies in town for fancier weapons and armor imbued with magic properties and abilities.

Level up and find scrolls and apply experience points to different skills to become a stronger fighter, a more dexterous archer, or a more magical mage. Balance development appropriately and cut through enemies and levels like a flaming sword through demon flesh. Make the wrong imbalanced choices and die, especially on levels fifty and above. The villains could have been direct ports from the poet Dante’s imagination. The game was awesome and time consuming. Randomly generated maps and villains created a unique experience each time you played.


Many games today can trace their roots to the above-mentioned list. Many gamers got their start on some or a few of them. I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane with me.

If you have played any of these then you already know what I am touting. If you procure an opportunity to play one of the games listed here that you have not yet, then you are blessed and in for a treat. I look forward to the discourse we hopefully receive about the games that are missing from the list as well as the trolling towards any of the details I undoubtedly got incorrect in my descriptions.

Remember this was an opinion piece that is one hundred percent correct.

Before I check out until next time I’d like to briefly list the games that deserve mention, but were not included due to the fact that this article has already been excessively long and time consuming to create: Toe Jam & Earl (1991), Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out (1987), Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990), Dr. Mario (1990), Beyond Oasis (1994), Sword of the Berserk (1999), Fallout 2 (1998), Warcraft (1994), Starcraft (1998), Final Fight (1989), Altered Beast (1988), Golden Axe (1989), Baldar’s Gate (1998)

Please feel free to comment with any glaring omissions to the best pre-2000 video games of all time. We look forward to your correspondence.


{1} Duck Hunt was also paired with Super Mario Bros. as the included game for the original Nintendo console. Duck Hunt utilized the light gun and warrants an honorable mention for being an awesome game in its own right.
duck hunt
{2} There is speculation that most versions of Smash TV did not include any reason to collect the keys and that they were just the developers teasing players into pumping more quarters into the game. Console ports included a hidden room. I have never reached it.
{3} Acknowledgements to my uncles. I was blessed to have an array of funny and cool uncles who taught me many things such as the joys of driving fast, anime, and of course, video games. If you’re reading this. I appreciate the value you have all added to my life.
{4} Turok was mentioned facetiously.


Thanks for the look.
John Andreula

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Weekend Geek Update

#Podcast

Another edition of Celebrity Milk carton

DCC name this year’s beer contest and the guest line up so far. Spider-Man, Venom, and Vulture oh my.

Project Scorpio, RDR, Cosplay Melee

Dominos trying to do a page from Arby’s play book and Smurf is not amused! JLA Trailer! https://youtu.be/3cxixDgHUYw

https://www.podbean.com/media/player/ae3xz-69215d?from=yiiadmin

Geek Down Logan

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As an “old school” Geek, I still get excited about comic book movies. It’s something about the pages coming to life, seeing my heroes on the big screen and connecting that line between imagination and reality.  I enjoy the ride and appreciate all the work, expertise and money that go into the entire experience. That being said, the last two Wolverine movies failed miserably! I was hesitant when I heard they were making a third, so I wasn’t going to expect much out of this one as well. Especially after the last X-Men’s Apocalyptic fail. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but it was not all that good either leaving a lot to be desired from the story and characters. Then I saw Logan.   

Let’s take a step back and go back to my time. In the 80’s and 90’s Wolverine was the #1 character in the Marvel Universe and just like so many characters in the comic industry, he became oversaturated and was used in just about everything. Each month there were at least three X-men titles, two Wolverine titles, an Avengers title and countless guest appearances in many of the Marvel titles that needed some star power.  Naturally, this caused a lot of continuity problems and confusing storylines. Logan/Wolverine was a victim of his own success and even poked fun of it in a few issues waiting for one group or another to notify him in time of a crisis.

In the year 2000 Fox rolled the dice on a big budget X-Men movie.  Brian Singer put his vision of Marvel’s merry mutants on the big screen and cast his second choice, unknown actor Hugh Jackman in the Wolverine role.  It goes now without saying, the movie, and Hugh Jackman, was a huge hit.

Seventeen years eight movies later and a few special appearances, Hugh Jackman is playing Wolverine one last time.  Coming off the disappointing 2013’s “The Wolverine”, Hugh Jackman and director James Mangold wanted to do something different with the Wolverine character to bring him back to his root’s and heart of the character with a simple story.  This reminds us of how great of a character he once was before he was in epic showdowns of saving the world.

In 2017’s “Logan”, James Mangold lowered the budget and Hugh Jackman took a pay cut to convince Fox to let them make Wolverine an R rated movie and to create the vision they wanted. Thanks to the success of last year’s R rated Deadpool, Fox was willing to roll the dice again.

This is not any Wolverine movie you’ve seen before. 

 The first words you hear are “F&*k”.  The first fight scene shows you what you always thought Wolverine’s claws could do. The story takes place in 2029.  Logan is dying from the poison in his Adamantium bones because his healing factor is failing.   Logan is vulnerable and weak, and “The Wolverine” is now only a legend kids read in comic books.  There are no X-Men, only Charles Xavier, who’s once most powerful mind is suffering from dementia and must be under Logan’s grudging but loyal care. A new mutant (X-23/Laura) enters Logan’s life beginning another great comic story. 

Here we get to see Hugh Jackman finally showing his acting skills in the way we always knew he could and were dying to see.  Patrick Stewart plays his most exceptional Charles Xavier to date and gives us a performance right up there with “I see four lights”.  We see a new side of Logan/Wolverine in his counter to X-23/Laura.   Newcomer Dafne Keen practically steals every scene she is in with just her expressions; and her fighting skills and moves are up there if not equal with Hit Girl from Kickass. We also finally get to see Wolverine’s berserker rage, ‘nuff said!

I can’t recommend this movie enough. Logan is not the typical superhero movie.  With direct comparisons from the classic western “Shane” by Mangold, and a feel of” Unforgiven” it is a gritty Western, not a superhero movie.  And that suits the character of Logan perfectly.  I highly recommend seeing it on the big screen.

After reading about Wolverine in almost every situation comics can throw at him for the last forty years and then seeing all his movies, this movie actually did something I never thought possible. They left me wanting more.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Warning…The article before you may contain spoilers…Reader discretion is advised

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While Lemony Snicket will always have the voice of Tim Curry (pre-stroke) in my head from the audio book series, that’s no reason not to try the unlucky premier of Netflix’s Series of Unfortunate Events. The extreme colors and striking camera angles that made us enjoy the 2004 film version are not lost in this new series which has an artistic Pushing Daisies whimsy feel. I’m sure if you’re a fan of the books you’re a bit apprehensive to the role of Count Olaf switching from Jim Carrey –who was perfect- to Neil Patrick Harris. But there’s nothing to fear, I can assure you this series isn’t a horrible mistake.

It’s unfortunate that the film which was perfectly cast made such Hollywood mistakes of plot faux pas, so another attempt is more than warrant. Especially now that all the books and plot twists have been published Netflix manages to stay amazingly true to the text.

There’s many dissuasions not to watch the series by Lemony Snicket himself (played by Patrick Warburton) but none from me. I say enjoy the hidden gems tucked in the background as one of the darkest children’s texts comes to life. There’s loads of disguises, antics with the frustration for children wanting to be taken seriously by adults and wordplay. Oh the wordplay, a term here which refers to a use of vocabulary that is beyond the usual intelligence. The use of language is by far the best part of this show.

lead_960.jpgBut just like all book adaptations. There are some issues. First being that it ends after only eight episodes with each book in the series getting two episodes this means we hardly get half way through the story. But I suppose that’s not really an issue so much as a complaint that Netflix wants to keep us dangling a bit longer.

My major criticism is the heavy use of the eye symbol. While the eye is an important and prominent symbol surrounding Count Olaf and the mystery that the Baudelaire orphans journey to solve, it comes to their attention much too soon and much too often before Olaf even makes his first appearance.

A lesser criticism is the music. Oh, but that’s one thing the 2004 film did so well, the music was eerie and playful like the story and Daniel Handler himself. But what is with that intro song NPH is yammering in the opening credits? If you can muddle through that ear-splitting flop at a Shakespearian device and are still sitting when Lemony tells you to choose a different show for your weekend well then, you’re in for a good time.

Overall I find our fears of failure for this Netflix feature are founded without fact. What’s more I will be rewatching this for all the hidden secretes I can spy throughout this series.

Fantasy Football Clique

#NFL Week 11 Match-ups!

Saturdays I like to focus on this weekend’s match-ups and throw in a few Sleepers.

Top 3 Rushing Match-ups:

vs  – I’m sorry to pick on the Browns so much, but damn is their Defense weak and always makes the opposing team’s Offense look so great on paper.

vs  – Cincinnati has been allowing a lot of FF points against them on the ground, and unfortunately for them, the Bills have Matt Forte who is primed to have a big day.

vs  – Spencer Ware is back and will be carrying the RB load against the Buccaneer’s 25th ranked Defense in the NFL against the run.

 

Top 3 Passing Match-ups:

 vs  – Tom Brady is going to make his big return to ‘the city by the bay” a memorable one.

vs  – Big day for Big Ben and Antonio Brown.

vs  – Marcus Mariota is quietly becoming one of the top FF QBs right now and the Colts don’t have a strong secondary to stop him. Don’t forget that his favorite target is TE Delanie Walker.

 

Sleepers:

QB – Joe Flacco

RB – Dion Lewis

RB – Thomas Rawls

WR – Jamison Crowder

TE – Ladarius Green

News and Notes

Rob Gronkowski is out this week with some sort of lung/chest injury. Martellus Bennett will have a good game.

Jeremy Maclin is out again this week with a groin injury. He has had a disappointing FF season this year and I wonder if he is even worth keeping on your roster.

I don’t know why, but I’m liking the match-up of Luck and Hilton vs the Titans Defense.

It’s that time to start looking ahead to the last 4 weeks of the season and the 3 FF playoff weeks. You are going to want to acquire the strong Offensive players that are matched up against the weaker Defenses. For example, during the FF playoff schedule ( weeks 14-16 ) Tampa Bay plays New Orleans TWICE! You are going to want Tampa Bay players, trust me.

Las Vegas over/under has Green Bay at Washington Redskins game as the highest scoring game of the week. Kirk Cousins should have a big day.

Good Luck!

 #FFGeek

Geek Down

Denver Comic Con is this week and we wanted to thank our sponsors who donated items for the raffle held by Cap for Kids an official 501C3 charity. Stop by our booth to register for a chance to win them in addition to a #StanLee signed Captain America shield. #DCC2016 Uncle Joe’s Hong Kong Bistro Time Warp Comics Meents Illustrated Gerry Mulowayi

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Gotham

This Ball of Mud and Meanness

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I am afraid. My fear is this, if I start to expand on how good of a turn Gotham has made over the last few episodes I worry it will revert back and start to disappoint and only frustrate me further. With the last three weeks’ worth of episodes behind us I am finding it more difficult to be as heavy handed as I have in the past about the events in the show. This could be a small reprieve, the same thing did happen last season with the introduction of a serial killer and Barbra going around the bend.

We leave the story of Freeze for now as we transition further into Arkham and just what Hugo Strange is up too. The extreme experiments he is conducting on the patients wondering what his end goal truly is while he works over Penguin. Using Dr. Cranes fear formula mixed with some very twisted visual virtual reality goggles makes short work of the King of Crime. Turning the once violent and manipulative fowl villain into some timid little parakeet. At first I wondered who was playing whom? Was Penguin just going along, playing the role? We have seen how clever Penguin has been in the past, calculating his moves and just what the outcome would be but after this week I have to say he was out of his field. Hugo Strange is just wicked! Is everything he does for the betterment of Gotham? I think the show has finally got what it so badly needed, an arch villain. He just exudes diabolical evil, right down to the creepy smile and sinister tone in his voice. Declaring Penguin “Sane” by the end of the episode and setting him free was a shock making him nothing more than a pawn setting the board for a bigger move.        

gotham-ep214-scn17-5670-hires1-172702.jpg The bigger story this week is following up with Bruce after finding out the identity of his parent’s killer, Matches Malone. There are a lot of things I really liked about this story and I was waiting for it to go so horribly wrong and to my surprise it didn’t. It’s hard to follow the comics sometimes, I get that and there have been so many different takes on Bruce Wayne in the early years it’s hard to say what is the most accurate picture. The portrayal we got is what I would consider the most accurate and well laid out story in the show so far. This was the whole reason I wanted to watch the show in the first place, to see the boy become the bat and Bruce becomes the mask. It starts out perfect with Selina brining the gun to him, Bruce ready in his convictions that he can pull the trigger, but when faced with the choice he shows a sterner side. That aside for the moment, the buildup for this is remarkable as Bruce starts to see the whole of the Gotham underworld, a place he has never been nor could imagine. The conversation between Bruce and Jeri (Lori Petty who is no stranger to the DC world having done a lot of voice work in the animated series) is gold. Showing us some of the edge, the outright crazy that exists here and how ill-equipped he is to dealing with it as it looks like Lori is channeling a great mix of Joker and Harley in her character. She knows where matches is but won’t give him up right away, toys with Bruce makes a game of it for her own amusement and to see how far Bruce will take this, hard to take a kid seriously. Her parting words to him as she tells Bruce where matches is are sinister, the hand of fate and Matches will be happy to see him.      

At this point is when my doubt began to creep in, but it was more than I could have hoped for as Bruce comes face to face with Matches. Playing the role of needing a gun for hire asking question about Matches score card. I thought they were going to do it, I really thought for a moment this was going to be one more departure from what we know of the character sending me into a fan frenzy of disappointment. But it didn’t happen, the rage, and frustration all there on the face, the hurt of being nothing more than a forgotten or blocked memory in the past of a known killer. Matches wanted to die, it would make sense for it to be by the hand of a kid whose parents he had killed almost poetic; “A man gets tired of doing wrong and going unpunished…you start to wonder if there really is a god.” The only comforting words Matches has before Bruce leaves the room and lets fate take its course. But I think this calls back to the earlier part of the episode as funny as it is to see Alfred going toe to toe with a big bruiser named Cupcake. The mantel of the bat starts right here with this small but important lesson as Alfred tries to teach Bruce the importance of picking your battles and letting them pick you. It’s a great fight, I watched it a couple of times but the end result is Alfred winning but back in Hospital which Bullock is happy to point out, for a butler he spends a lot of time there. The end result is the most significant, Bruce decides to take to the streets to learn and better understand this world and it’s about damn time.    

On a side note Nygma talking to himself thinking Gordon is onto the fact that he killed Ms. Kringle is fantastic. Can’t wait to see the Riddler!