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Top 10 Games with Managing Games Editor, Mike Worby

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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. 

About Mike: 

I’ve been a gamer since some parental figure, or other, put an NES controller in my hand around the age of 5, (and man, what a mistake that was!) I graduated to my true love, the SNES, after that, and I haven’t looked back since. Below, you’ll find 10 of my most treasured experiences among the hundreds of games I’ve played throughout my life. I hope you like them as much as I do!

Bloodborne

Bloodborne
I’ve always been an easy sell for horror, and Gothic horror, in particular, is right up my alley. Drawing heavily from the cosmic terror and shapeless monstrosities of HP Lovecraft, Bloodborne suits those interests to a tee. Also, as anyone who knows me will undoubtedly tell you, I almost never shut up about Dark SoulsBloodborne is basically the perfect storm for someone like me in that regard.

It’s as engaging as it is horrifying, as challenging as it is frustrating, and as rewarding as it is obtuse. There are very few games that I would willingly endure 6 hours of the same boss fight for, but this is one of them.

Dripping with atmosphere, and endlessly esoteric, Bloodborne is the kind of game you could play through a dozen times over and still have absolutely no idea what’s going on in the plot department, and there’s something very ingratiating about that to me, because it makes me want to know what it all means.

Bloodborne is such a brilliant game, and such an engrossing experience, that it hurt me to put it down for good after the release of The Old Hunters DLC, and the brutal fight for that platinum trophy. Honestly, masochist that I am, I’m still hoping for a Bloodborne 2 to come along and kick my ass all over again.

Castlevania Symphony of the Night


As mentioned above, you have to really shit the bed to not sell me on a Gothic horror game, and while Castlevania: Symphony of the Night utterly shits the bed, to glorious effect, in its voice acting, the rest of the game is so astutely designed that even the silly dialogue and laughable delivery, that occasionally creeps through the addictive gameplay, has become fun and memorable via simple proxy and association.

Jabs and jibes aside, SOTN is the Castlevania game that every single entry in the series (before and since) has desperately wished that it was. The game just feels so damn good that there is no question as to which “vania” people are talking about when they bandy about the term “metroidvania”.

I mean, come on, let’s get real for just a second: this game lets you turn into a fucking bat to fly over obstacles, or a cloud of mist to pass through obstructions. In fact, the game is almost broken it gives you so much power by the end. However, having earned every inch of your progress through Dracula’s (two!) castles, you don’t even blink when you reach your 18th power-up or so. By then, the game has its fangs so bloody deep in your neck that you wouldn’t see a flaw in all the world, even if its a stupid gargoyle talking to you in a silly voice!

Come along you goofy bastard, let’s find another switch for you to press, shall we!?

Chrono Cross

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Look, I know what everyone is thinking, and ya know, it’s pretty odd to me that this game is on here instead of Chrono Trigger too. Chrono Trigger was my first RPG and, for all intents and purposes, it should absolutely be on this list. Yet, for some reason, Chrono Cross edges it out for me, just barely.

Is it the incomprehensibly complicated inter-dimensional plot line? The all-over-the-map music that you can’t help but notice in almost every moment of the game? Maybe it’s the fact that your party consists of something like 4o different, interchangeable members, or the realization that the battle system is unlike anything before it, or since.

Whatever it is, Chrono Cross just happens to have that certain something that makes it an unforgettable experience from start to finish. On paper, this sequel is sort of like the 2017 Twin Peaks revival that’s baffling the world even today. It has very little of what we wanted from a sequel to Chrono Trigger, and yet remains totally infatuating on its own terms. There are very few games that could put me on a team with a fluffy talking dog and a cut-throat murderer without breaking my sense of immersion, but then, Chrono Cross isn’t like any other game out there. It’s uncompromisingly its own thing, and I kind of love it for that.

Dark Souls


If I had to unequivocally choose only a single game from this list to be my all-time, untouchable favorite, it would have to be Dark Souls. No game has ever caused me to have that obsessive itch to just keep playing, to just earn one more inch forward, to just level up one more time, to just keep fighting a little while longer, like Dark Souls has.

Though I’ve always been generally fine with trophies and achievements, it wasn’t until Dark Souls came along that I grabbed my first Platinum. While I’ve never been against DLC on its own merits, it wasn’t until Dark Souls that I was motivated to scoop up my first expansion. Don’t get me wrong, I played, and loved, Demon’s Souls, but Dark Souls made it look like a prototype by comparison. This game was the real deal, and it was unlike anything I had ever played in my life when I first picked it up in October of 2011.

Maybe this sounds like crazy talk, but the game still holds a sort of magical reverence for me. Looking at how the gaming landscape has changed since its release though, I can’t help but think I’m far from the only one. This year alone has seen half a dozen “Souls-alikes” emerge into the ether in various forms, and in some ways, Dark Souls has succeeded from the very fact that a term like Souls-alike exists.

Totally uncompromising, brutally difficult, intensely atmospheric, and a true beast of a different shade, Dark Souls is easily the game that has had the most varying, awe-inspiring, and unceasing of effects on me, and how I see this hobby/obsession of mine. There’s nothing quite like it, even in its own series, and for that, it is owed a massive degree of tribute.

Final Fantasy VIII


Of all the entries on this list, this one might be the most shocking. I know Final Fantasy VIII isn’t up everyone’s alley — hell, some folks outright despise it — but, there’s always been something truly special about this game for me.

I remember in 8th grade, when I first saw the opening cut scene for this game. I wasn’t even a fan of RPGs at the time, but something about the operatic, cinematic prelude that set Final Fantasy VIII into motion really struck a chord with me. When I finally got a PlayStation of my own a couple of years later (I was an N64 kid, you see) it was one of the first games I played through, and man, did it make an impression.

I’ve since gone on to play through every numbered Final Fantasy game in the entire series (outside of the online efforts), and FFVIII still resonates with me more than any other entry. Like Chrono Cross, mentioned above, I tend to admire the fact that it was so different from its contemporaries, even if the system it introduced wasn’t exactly perfect.

I still get chills when I play this game nearly 20 years later, and it’s no surprise when I look back on it now. It taught me about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness in a way that managed to connect to my teenage mind, and yet, still resonates with me to this day.

Gone Home

gonehome.0
Even today, there’s still a large portion of gamers that scoff and chortle when they hear the term “walking simulator.” With that in mind, Gone Home is the answer to the questions and criticisms that always seem to assail the walking simulator and its ilk.

Aside from being a trailblazer for the genre, what Gone Home nails so well is the eerie sense of being in a home that doesn’t belong to you. Despite the fact that the protagonist, Samantha, has come home from a year abroad, it’s not her home she’s come home to, and the game puts you in the exact same situation as her. It’s a marvel of storytelling and game design, and one of the things that makes Gone Home so memorable.

I think why this game really hits me so hard in the end, though, is because it’s just such an utterly human story. The organic way that the tale of Samantha’s family unfolds makes it feel vital but the delivery is never ham-fisted or overzealous in its message.

Seriously, if anyone ever gives me that whole song and dance about games never telling worthwhile stories, this is the first example I go to. Gone Home is an utter treat of a game, and a one-of-a-kind experience. There’s no bad guys, no weapons, and no master plans, just a simple coming-of-age story in all of its raw, unadulterated power.

If that sounds even remotely interesting to you, then I urge you to play this game. You won’t be disappointed.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Image credit: Billy B Saltzman

Though I’m sure I played good, and even great games, before I picked up The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the first time, this was the first time I can ever remember falling in love with a game.

Embarrassingly, I was so enamored with LTTP that I actually had my mom take pictures of the Agahnim boss fight on my second or third time through it. Of course, the pictures came out like shit, but hey, it was the thought that counted right?

In any case, Link to the Past was not my first Zelda game, and it was far from my last, but all these years later, I still can’t shake the feeling that it’s still the best. I’m sure I’ve played through the game at least 30 times by now, probably a pile more than that to be honest, and it still never loses its luster. The pacing is perfect, the difficulty curve is right on the money, and the design is just so succinct that you never feel bored or antsy for even a second when you play it, even 25 years later.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is the absolute definition of a timeless game, and is the only entry standing in the way when Breath of the Wild comes calling for the moniker of “Best Zelda Game.”

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

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Looking back at Metal Gear Solid as a series, there are so many memorable moments in every single game that it’s very hard to pick just one as a series favorite. With that in mind, I doubt most fans would choose this one, and I have no doubt this pick could earn me a pile of shit. Either way, however, I have to be honest and say that I feel Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the best game in this titanic achievement of a series.

So what makes me put The Phantom Pain over games like Snake Eater or Guns of the Patriots? Well, first and foremost, its the succinct level of idiosyncratic perfection that Kojima put into this game. I mean, just stop and register for a second that this is an unfinished game. And bloody look at it! Jesus Christ, the level of detail and the thousands of hours of effort that must have gone into it, is staggering.

That’s just on the surface though. Underneath the insanely adept design of the game is something I can’t quite put my finger on. Lord knows there are some ridiculous moments in this game but for some reason, this morally murky tale of justice and vengeance has hammered itself into my psyche in a way that I just can’t let go of. To this day, I still find myself sometimes sitting at my computer watching the trailer, set to New Order’s “Elysium” and just soaking it up, or listening to Mike Oldfield’s “Nuclear” and thinking about the 120 hours I spent utterly obsessed with this game.

Metal Gear Solid V may not be a perfect game, and it may have a dirty history behind it, but man, every time I think of going back to it, I worry for the stability of my day-to-day life. Will the kids get fed? Will the dog get walked? Who’s to say with a game this special.

Resident Evil 4


Resident Evil 
seems to have this odd history of reinventing itself every decade, once with Resident Evil 4, and again, more recently, with Resident Evil 7. The difference between the two, however, lies in the way that Resident Evil 4 didn’t just reinvent a franchise, it basically reinvented the action game in one fell swoop.

Now, never mind for a moment that Resident Evil was never meant to be an action franchise, because the way RE4 mixes up action with its more well-established horror elements, is essentially the chocolate and peanut butter of gaming.

I can actually remember re-watching the trailer again and again in anticipation of this game (on Gametrailers… because there was no such thing as YouTube in 2004) and yet it still delivered on the lofty expectations I had built up for it.

Today, franchises like Gears of War and Uncharted still owe a huge debt to Resident Evil 4. To boot, the game is still a blast to play, campy dialogue and all, even 12 years later.

In a sea of amazing survival horror titles, this is still the first one I’d pick up and play in a heartbeat, Mordor cave trolls and all, and that’s saying something in a world where Silent Hill 2 and Amnesia exist.

Super Metroid

Image credit: alchemistdefined.wirebotaxu.com

It’s a pretty weird thing when your fiancèe, who is not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination, can easily recognize a game from 1994, anytime you happen to be playing it. This is the case with a game like Super Metroid.

If The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was my first love in gaming, then Super Metroid was the first time I ever cheated on it. This game was truly something else for 9 year old Mike, back when he rented it from the local video store. I mean, who could imagine a game that would give you X-ray vision or super speed as a controllable power-up? Hell, by the time you’re done with Super Metroid, even gravity has become an after thought for you.

Very few games succeed at empowering players the way that Super Metroid did, and, as much as credit must be given to the aforementioned Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the emergence of the “metroidvania” genre, it was only adopting what Super Metroid had already done, and adapting it to a different setting.

Super Metroid is one of the most important trail-blazers in gaming history. and, more than that, it’s an unforgettable gaming experience that still holds up over 20 years later, and after over 50 playthroughs. Trust me on that. I’m not a speedrunner by any stretch of the imagination, and I can still crush this game in less than an hour and forty minutes these days.

This is the game that made my childhood, and the game that broke my childhood (anyone who has seen the ending will understand what I mean by that.) Super Metroid is a triumph of rule-breaking game development, wordless storytelling, and the idea of growth and understanding in a hostile world. It was my favorite game for a lot of years, and, in some ways, it always will be my favorite.


Cutting games from this list was like deciding which of my children would eat tonight. Some I removed so there wouldn’t be any franchise repeats, while others were simply edged out by the competition. Either way, you’ll find 10 more of my absolute favorites below.

10 Honorable Mentions: Bioshock Infinite, Chrono Trigger, Half-Life 2, Kingdom Hearts 2, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Metroid Prime, Mass Effect 2, Rayman Legends, Super Mario Galaxy, Xenoblade Chronicles.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Izsak “Khane” Barnette

    July 23, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    Final Fantasy VIII was one of my favorite games in the series. I had a lot of fun with the Draw system, despite how broken it was. The story was confusing, even by the series’ standards, but it was a really good game.

    • Mike Worby

      July 24, 2017 at 1:47 am

      I love it, broken Junction system and all. FFVIII is crazy as hell, but that’s part of what I love about it. *Selphie singing about trains*

      • Izsak “Khane” Barnette

        July 24, 2017 at 10:01 am

        Yeah, I remember that. Disc One was pretty normal until the very end. The rest of the game just got crazier, lol.

  2. Ricky D

    July 25, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    I’m really surprised to see the last Metal Gear Solid on this list. This makes me want to finally finish the game.

    • Mike Worby

      July 26, 2017 at 11:42 pm

      I’m a huge proponent of it, obviously. John and I often debate its merits, or lack there of, on Random Encounters. I feel objectively that it’s the best game in the series, and I have a lot of love for it, wacky ass plot beats and all.

      • John Cal McCormick

        August 1, 2017 at 4:54 am

        The more I think about it the worse it is. I don’t even know how you could say it’s objectively the best game in the series. Objectively, there’s a lot of bad things you can say about it, but very little good. Objectively, there’s a tonne of copy-pasted content, for example. And objectively, the game blatantly isn’t finished. Objectively, there’s hardly any bosses, the characters bare little resemblance to who they were in previous entries, the story doesn’t make sense, most characters have no discernible story arcs, it fundamentally fails to do the one job it was billed as doing in bridging the gap between the Big Boss and Solid Snake games, and objectively, it was reviewed under conditions specifically designed to boost Metacritic scores that is widely derided within the industry as a nefarious practise.

        Subjectively, you can ignore all that and think it’s great because the gameplay is rad. Or subjectively, maybe you can ignore the dubious aspects of the plot or how the characters are portrayed for whatever reason. But objectively, factually, other than in raw moment to moment gameplay, it’s hard to make a case for Metal Gear Solid V doing anything better than any of the other games in the series.

        • Mike Worby

          August 1, 2017 at 8:54 am

          Haters gonna hate :p

    • John Cal McCormick

      August 1, 2017 at 4:41 am

      Don’t bother.

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Nintendo Weekly Roundup

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Southwest Airlines hands out free Nintendo Switch consoles

Those departing to San Diego from Dallas on July 17 were treated to a surprise, as those taking the trip on a connecting flight ended up receiving a Nintendo Switch with a copy of Super Mario Maker 2.

Southwest Airlines, in conjunction with Nintendo, decided to give out Nintendo Switch consoles to lucky customers on Wednesday when they were handed redemption tickets for them. Twitter user Juan Jose Anchante posted a picture of the ticket, which can be seen below.

Nintendo and Southwest have collaborated in the past. In 2013, for example, Wii U consoles were given to lucky passengers going from New Orleans to Dallas, along with New Super Mario Bros. U. Similarly, in 2016, free Nintendo 3DS XL’s were given to passengers heading to Los Angeles from Dallas.

Presumably, this was a sort of promotion for San Diego Comic-Con, given the timing and the flight’s city of arrival. All these events seem to be fairly spontaneous, though it appears that, should you want a free Nintendo item like this in this fashion, taking a flight to/from Dallas with Southwest seems to be the best option.

Nintendo E3 Predictions

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 characters discovered in datamine

After years of waiting, gamers finally have their hands on the third installment in the Marvel Ultimate Alliance series on their Nintendo Switch consoles. Moreover, a recent datamine tells us what characters may be coming to Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 via DLC.

According to Nintendo Life, one dataminer was able to find out that the game’s code has 49 DLC character slots. There were four playable characters discovered in the datamine. Allegedly, these characters are the following:

  • Black Bolt
  • Medusa
  • Vision
  • Valkyrie

As such, this seems to just be a mere taste of what Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 owners will be getting soon enough.

New Nintendo Switch may be on its way

While Nintendo recently revealed the Nintendo Switch Lite to fans everywhere, it turns out another model may be heading to consumers soon. While not necessarily the rumored upgraded version, this model’s primary improvement is that of its battery life.

On Nintendo’s Japanese website, some information has emerged regarding the upcoming Switch model. Most notably, there are details regarding the battery life available on the website. Forbes has translated the information below.

The numbers on the right reflect the battery life for the Switch Lite. As indicated, however, the battery life for the updated model will supposedly be substantially longer. Bringing the low end from 2.5 to 4.5 hours is nothing to scoff at and being able to play Breath of the Wild for 5.5 hours in handheld mode instead of 3 is a massive improvement.

According to Forbes, this rendition of the Switch may be hitting Japan as early as August and could be coming to the West as early as September.

Nintendo Switch New Joy-Cons
Via Kotaku

Nintendo announces new Joy-Con colors

Starting out with the gray option, as well as the blue and red option, the Joy-Cons took a while to expand their color palette. Now, two new Joy-Con sets are coming to Switch owners from Nintendo with very distinctive and bright colors.

The first, pictured on the left, is a Purple/Neon Orange combo. The second, pictured on the right, is a Blue/Neon Yellow combo.

The first pair of Joy-Cons appears to display very complementary palettes, with purple and orange meshing together incredibly well. Blue and Neon Yellow, while more distinctive and attractive than the standard gray Joy-Cons.

For fans looking for more diverse Joy-Cons, this should be good news. There are other colors out now, and there are decals that can spruce up existing Joy-Cons. However, if you were looking for a Joy-Con with a great shade of purple, you can look no further.

This Week’s Releases

As indicated previously, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order came out this week. At $59.99 USD, the game stands as a sequel that took 10 years to be released. Sporting a giant cast of Marvel superheroes, this is sure to be one of Nintendo’s biggest hits of this year.

Let’s Sing 2019 was also released on Nintendo Switch this week. For $39.99 USD, Switch owners can grab this title and pick from a variety of songs to sing when “training your voice solo” or at a “karaoke party.” This one is sure to be a hit at celebrations!

Puzzle game The Drama Queen Murder was also released this week for the Switch. At $9.99 USD, players take the role of private investigator and solve the murder of Dolores Molinero, “the Queen of Drama.” With a variety of investigative methods, this appears to be one of the more diverse mystery games to hit the Switch in a while.

As always, you can find these and more on the Nintendo Game Store.

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Stranger Things as an Anime is Even Cooler Than It Sounds

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Ever wondered what Stranger Things might look like in a vintage anime style? Well look no further than a recent fan made video by animation studio Humoring the Fates that does just that with the well-known Netflix show. The YouTube video is published by the channel Octopie and clocks in at just under two minutes, the perfect length to showcase some of the classic moments from the first two seasons of the show. In the parody film, the inhabitants of Hawkins are transformed into an anime style and we see cartoon remakes of epic scenes such as Eleven facing off against the Demogorgon as well as quieter moments like Hopper and Eleven sharing waffles.

Although some have commented that they believe the animation style is more aligned to 90’s cartoons rather that 80’s anime, it is still clear that the talented artists and creators at Humoring the Fates have managed to perfectly capture the feel of Stranger Things within an animated format here. It has certainly left fans now dreaming of one day having an animated series related to Stranger Things. Maybe a spin off? One day perhaps.

Have a look at the video below and for more on Stranger Things, check out some of our articles on season three here.

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Waiting for the ‘Resident Evil 3’ Remake? Here’s Something to Tide You Over

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Following the huge success of the official remakes of Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2, a Resident Evil 3: Nemesis remake is likely on the horizon. However, a talented modder has given us something to fawn over whilst we play the waiting game with Capcom.

The Resident Evil 3: Seamless HD Project was created by Mathieu Phillipe and is a modded version of the Gamecube title. The mod is free but will require both a PC and Dolphin GameCube emulator to play. The mod boasts an impressive improvement to the graphics, sound and textures. The official site lists features such as “restored integrated texts”, “upscaled 3D model textures” and “ improved visual effects” to name just a few.

The mod is available for free and you can find all the appropriate information from the talented modders on the RESDHP website linked here as well as the free download. Have a glance at the incredibly well detailed gameplay from the mod below and to have a read of some of our Resident Evil 2 articles, check out our review of the RE2 remake here or our article on the boss fights of RE2 here.

Now we wait for the official RE3 remake…

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The Best and the Most Disappointing Changes to the ‘Lion King’ Soundtrack

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Disney’s latest remake of the highly revered animated classic The Lion King has been receiving mixed reviews from critics, but it still has the opportunity to dazzle the general public worldwide. With the new Lion King soundtrack having recently released, there is a lot to dissect from it. Hans Zimmer’s remake of the classic score is the highlight for me personally, and whilst the film’s popular songs are clearly remade with love for the original, some of the musical numbers don’t reach the heights of the 1994 classics.

Whilst I can say that some of these songs are a bit of a disappointment, I wouldn’t say that I actively dislike them, so bear in mind I’m probably being a little finicky.

#3 Most Disappointing: “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”

Before you all start attempting to track me down with pitchforks in tow, hear me out first: I do not dislike the 2019 version. The instrumentals are beautiful, Beyoncé is fierce, Donald Glover is perfect as Simba, and Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen are charming iterations of Timon and Pumbaa. That being said, I did feel somewhat disappointed with this version due to it feeling like a Beyoncé platform rather than the soulful duet between Simba and Nala that I was expecting. Glover is also completely overpowered by Beyoncé’s vocals; even in their solo moments, Simba seems quieter, whilst Nala’s voice is booming in every moment of the song. This is a real shame as Donald Glover has an incredible voice and he really should have been on level pegging with Beyoncé, despite her star power. After all, it’s not as if Glover is a modest actor and singer, as he has received global stardom under his artist pseudonym of Childish Gambino, as well as his acting work on Community and Solo: A Star Wars Story as a young Lando Calrissian.

Beyoncé certainly goes all out on the vocal work, and she is sounding stellar as usual. However, as amazing as she sounds, you can’t help but feel like this is her song, and her song alone. She gets her own number in the new original song “Spirit,” where she has plenty of opportunity to display her talents, so I just feel that “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” was a chance to showcase Simba and Nala’s growing affection through a song that equally showed off the artists talents. However, the end result is mostly Beyonce, and very little of Glover.

#3 Best: “Hakuna Matata”

The critics who have released their reviews on The Lion King have mostly agreed on one thing: that Timon and Pumbaa steal the show and inject a much-needed burst of energy into the film’s proceedings. This is undoubtedly the case when listening to “Hakuna Matata,” one of the most famous Disney songs on the Lion Kingsoundtrack. Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella brought a special partnership that warmed the audiences’ hearts to the characters and the song in the 1994 version, but Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen also manage to capture everything that was charming and dynamic about the meerkat and warthog duo, whilst introducing a playful originality to them. There is something hilariously endearing about hearing Seth Rogen’s attempts to hold a tune. Singing is clearly not one of his strengths, but he plays it well, and it somehow manages to fit Pumbaa’s character. Eichner, on the other hand, has a surprisingly fantastic set of pipes, which works amazing well with Rogen’s.

The funniest part of the song is the infamous line wherein Pumbaa discusses how he felt downhearted every time that he…passed wind. In the original film, Timon stops Pumbaa before he can use the phrase in front of the children (both baby Simba and the audience), but here Timon does not intervene, as Pumbaa announces his farting habits to the world. Pumbaa queries as to whether Timon is going to stop him, and Timon simply responds with, “No I’m not. You disgust me.” I must admit, I laughed out loud when I first heard it. Eichner’s delivery and his banter with Rogen is a great way to change up the song from the original. The audience has grown since the original film, and we are all now old enough to hear the word “fart” without having a meltdown. (Well, most of us are anyway.) JD McCrary and Donald Glover’s role as Simba in the song is also brilliant, as both of them are hugely talented singers who manage to capture the spirit of Simba perfectly, both younger and older.

#2 Most Disappointing: “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”

With that being said, the inclusion of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” sung by Eichner and Rogen, seems a little bit unnecessary to me. It is a funny scene in the original film, with the two wandering in the jungle singing the song to themselves, and it will probably make for amusing viewing in this remake too, but I don’t see why it had to be put in the Lion King soundtrack. Again, Eichner’s vocals are great, but Rogen does very little here. There are also hints of fart noises in the song as well, which makes it feel all the more obsolete.

There are some really amazing songs throughout the franchise, such as those from the Broadway show and the second movie, so I don’t see why one of those songs couldn’t have made it onto the soundtrack instead of this. “He Lives in You,” which was in both The Lion King 2 and the musical adaptation, managed to make its way onto the 2019 soundtrack, and it works incredibly well. I just wish that one of the other great songs could have been brought here instead. Like I said at the start, I’m being finicky about this, as well as a little bit mean, but it really does feel like an unnecessary addition to pad out the length of the soundtrack. With the wide range of possibilities for additional music, I can’t help but feel like “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is one of the more superfluous songs on the album.

#2 Best: “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King”

One of my all-time favourite Disney songs has to be “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” so I couldn’t help but scrutinise the 2019 version after I first heard it. I found myself pleasantly surprised. Jason Weaver and Laura Williams sang the original fantastically, managing to nail the song performance-wise, whilst also keeping in line with the characters of Simba and Nala, respectively. This was sure to be a difficult act to follow, but JD McCrary and Shahdi Wright-Joseph pay respect to their predecessors whilst bringing a fresh sound to the classic song. John Oliver doesn’t quite hit the mark when it comes to the dry British wit of Zazu as well as Rowan Atkinson did, but he does a great job nonetheless, and his inclusion is still a nice touch of humor.

The song is slightly longer than the original as well, adding more of an interlude made up of tribal drums that lay out an adventurous beat that further enforces the idea of two mischievous lion cubs running through the pride lands. Nala gets more to do this time around too, as the song takes cues from the Broadway musical, which gave some of Simba’s singing lines to Nala and added in some riffing to jazz up her part in the song. This is great to hear, as it gives Shahdi Wright-Joseph the chance to bring some brightness to the character with her incredible singing talent. The 2019 version is cheerful, energetic, and brings the young talent of the film into the spotlight that they deserve, so I definitely consider it as one of the best on the Lion King soundtrack.

#1 Most Disappointing: “Be Prepared”

Many months ago, when The Lion King was still in development, rumors started coming to the fore that the fan-favourite song “Be Prepared” (featuring the film’s villain, Scar) would be cut from the remake. Closer to the release date, it was revealed that the song would indeed be in the movie, but the end result feels somewhat half baked. A good deal of the 2019’s “Be Prepared” involves talking from Scar and his hyena minions, but it slowly and uncertainly becomes more grandiose until it is a musical number. Regardless, it all just feels a bit low-energy, with little of the charisma and character from Jeremy Irons’ version from 1994.

Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays Scar this time around, is not at fault here. In fact, his deep, booming, and intimidating voice is chilling, and gives the song a more sinister and villainous tone, with a hint of creepiness. What is irritating is that whilst the song does have positives (mainly Ejiofor’s performance and the haunting instrumentals) that could have made for a really interesting and original take on the classic song, it is so rushed that it doesn’t have much time to truly make an impact.  It’s two minutes long, but has a slow beat that doesn’t increase much throughout, so by the time the song finally starts to get going, it is already finishing.

It isn’t exactly clear what happened with this number, but it seems to me like Disney saw the backlash from the public when it was suggested that “Be Prepared” wasn’t going to be included, and therefore scrambled to put something together for Scar in the final film. Of course, I can’t say that this is what happened for sure, but if so, the final product is a hastily done piece that could have been so much better if given the same amount of creative input as some of the other songs on the Lion King soundtrack. Despite Ejiofor’s efforts and the promising framework that the song offers, the 2019 version of “Be Prepared” is incredibly disappointing. Not only does it not stand anywhere near the level of the original, but it wastes its potential. After the initial sinister tones of Ejiofor wore off, it left me feeling pretty unmoved. For such a well-known song from the remake of one of Disney’s best animated films, it simply isn’t up to the standard that it should be.

#1 Best: Stampede

It has to be one of Hans Zimmer’s interpretations of the old score that is the best of the 2019 Lion King soundtrack. Zimmer had a tough challenge ahead of him when he agreed to come back for the remake. He had to stay true to the original music (as it is one of the greatest scores from an animated movie to date), but also make sure that he added enough new material within the original score to create a refreshing update. I consider this song the most successful of the new soundtrack, despite all the star power behind the others. One of the most emotionally charged tracks has to be “Stampede,” which comes during the infamous stampede that leads to Mufasa’s death.

The original track (called “To Die For”) is incredibly intense before becoming harrowing, but Zimmer manages to up the emotion even more so in his 2019 take on the piece. It is slightly longer, and spends a bit more time ramping up in intensity, creating a heart-pumping piece that makes you feel the gravitas of the scene without even watching it. Once the music has reached its boiling point, Zimmer includes a sorrowful effect that sounds like a lion’s scream. This is new addition to the piece gives it an extra stab of pain, as we know that this is when Mufasa loses his life as young Simba watches on in horror. The music then moves onto the softer and hugely emotional moment of Simba finding his father’s body, then attempting to get him to wake up. As sad as this was on the original Lion King soundtrack, it is made all the more painful to listen to now, as Zimmer increases his orchestra and adds in some booming drum beats to emphasise the weighty effect that this event will have on Simba’s life, as well as the lives of all the lions in the pride. You can hear the cub’s life being ripped from underneath him, all within a few seconds of the score.

I felt myself tearing up just listening to this track, without even having watched the film yet. The last minute or so then gets a new, sinister theme for the hyenas, as they presumably chase Simba out of the pride lands. It has a more threatening tone than their original theme, but it still stays true to it. This element is also more frantic, to indicate Simba’s desperate attempt to escape the predators. “Stampede” is an incredible piece that highlights Zimmer’s attempts to rework his previous music into something with even more emotional power than it had originally.

The new Lion King soundtrack is out now, and the film releases this Friday, July 19th 2019.

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Writers Wanted

Your Vision, Our Future

We are soon expanding our film, tv, games, comic book and anime sections and we are currently looking for a few talented writers to join our team and help us produce opinion pieces, columns, features, reviews, and/or video essays on a regular basis. If you are passionate about writing, film, TV, comics and/or gaming, this is an excellent opportunity to become involved in a fast-growing independent pop-culture website.

Who are we?

Goomba Stomp is the joint effort of a team of like-minded writers from across the globe. We provide smart readers with sharp, entertaining writing on a wide range of topics in pop culture, offering an escape from the usual hype and gossip. Unlike most websites that offer the brief review format, Goomba Stomp features long-form, in-depth coverage, and lengthy, well-researched articles alongside several award-winning podcasts. In addition, while we place an emphasis on the gaming industry, we find value in all modes of expression, as well as the intersections therein, an ethos that applies to all our main areas of interest (Film, TV, Comics, and Games). There is more to discover in all of these mediums than ever before, and we strive to make our enthusiasm and expertise infectious.

Why choose us?

Writers define their own schedule and we welcome feedback. We are not in the business of producing clickbait nor do we ask our writers to churn out the same boring news stories found on most websites. Instead, we are looking for talented writers who can deliver intelligent, well written, sometimes funny, but always engaging content. Writers have tremendous freedom when it comes to the subject matter they choose to write about and while editors will suggest themes and subjects to cover, we encourage writers to pitch their own ideas. We are looking to build a solid team of dedicated writers who actually care about the site and want to stick around and help us grow.

There are other benefits to writing for us, such as exposure for your writing, a nice piece to add to your online resume, and a chance at press badges for trade shows, festivals, and press events including TIFF, Cannes, Fantasia, Fantastic Fest, SXSW, E3, GamesCon, NYCC, Tribeca, NYFF, Hot Docs, SDCC and so much more. Not to mention you’ll get to meet and work with a great group of writers who share the same passions that you do for gaming in all its forms. We really want to make sure everyone is writing about what they are passionate about and more importantly, we go out of our way to make sure people see your hard work. And did we mention your hard work won’t get buried in ads?

Do we pay?

Yes, we do pay for articles pitched by our editors but please remember that Goomba Stomp is an independently owned and operated publication, started by a group of friends and so we can’t pay top dollar. The most important thing you should know is that we are looking for team players. We have a strong crew of talented writers, but we are also all friends and we stay in touch on a daily basis via Workplace. We want writers who want the site to succeed so we can slowly increase our budget and we want writers who love being a part of our community. And that is what makes us different than most sites. Our writers actually get to know each other and over time become good friends. Writing for Goomba Stomp is great for your portfolio and an excellent way to network and cover events worldwide – but don’t expect to get rich writing for the site. In other words, if you are looking for a full-time job, this gig isn’t for you.

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Comic Book Writer/Editor
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If you would like to contribute, please email editor@goombastomp.com with a few writing samples. Please don’t include your resume. Instead, tell us something about yourself. Let us know which city you reside in, which social media platforms you frequently use (Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, etc), and why you want to write for us.

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Goomba Stomp is the joint effort of a team of like-minded writers from across the globe. We provide smart readers with sharp, entertaining writing on a wide range of topics in pop culture, offering an escape from the usual hype and gossip.

Contact us: Editor@GoombaStomp.com

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