So over on Retro Revelations, early last year, I decided to undertake a ginormous project entitled "Best of the Best: 20 Years in Life and Entertainment". It was my attempt to outdo the simple "Best of the Year" type stuff that many people do, and in typical Me fashion, go overboard, by doing 1995-2015. I think, overall, it worked out pretty well. However, it was done in four articles, MEGA-articles, each covering roughly five years of stuff, and not only did they take a LOT to research and write out, but I'm sure they were daunting pieces to sit and read for many people as well.
If I had thought it out better back then, I likely would have done a bunch of small articles (uncharacteristic for me, and for Retro Revelations), doing one year at a time. That way, it's easier to write, and far easier for the average reader to consume. And quite frankly, I think those articles, and sharing my thoughts, feelings, and memories on those years and the happier (and not so happy) things they brought, is too good to NOT share with more people.
SO, with that in mind, for the month of March, I'm going to endeavor to break those MEGA-articles up into just that: 20 separate years chronicled, each year going over my picks for favorite movie, video game, music album, and song.
Without further adieu, here is the first year: 1995
|"It Has Begun....."|
Movie: Mortal Kombat
Game: Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
Album: Burnt Offerings by Iced Earth*
Song: When I Come Around by Green Day
As stated, in the fall of 1995, we moved from the town I had spent many years of my childhood in, to my current town which was about a half an hour away. It was a major turning point in my life. We moved because my grandmother was basically dying of lung cancer, because she had spent most of her life smoking like an oil refinery. She passed away shortly after we moved, in September. So the Fall of 1995, in a very real way to me at the time, could rightly be called my "First Fall of Freedom"...because I was more or less free, after a life of absolute control, to for the first time essentially do whatever the hell I wanted.
But before that, in the late summer of '95, while I had previously gotten to see Power Rangers: The Movie and Batman Forever, the first movies in theater I had been able to see since I was probably about 4 years old, I got to see the first film in theater that would actually "impact" me, on a personal level. And that movie, was Mortal Kombat. As explained in this article, I had in the early 90s loved (to the point of obsession) Street Fighter II, and when the original Mortal Kombat arcade game first debuted, I kind of acted like I hated it, because all the kids flocked to it, and said it was "better" than SFII, because it had "real" graphics, and blood, and silly fatalities, etc. I didn't REALLY hate the game, but I sure as shit loved me some SFII, and would defend it vigorously as being superior. But when MKII came out, that game, with it's mystical "Outworld" setting, started to win me over more. And by the time the movie came out in '95, MKIII was already out, and I got swept up in MK fever. Not that I loved Street Fighter any less.....just that I finally relented and thought MK was also cool.
And when it came to the movie, while I saw many other cool movies in late 95, such as my first ever Jackie Chan film Rumble in the Bronx, as well as the awesome Robin Williams film Jumanji, nothing really "touched" my 13 year old mind, more than MK. It wasn't just that I had come to like the games. It wasn't just that it was a VERY well done and exciting martial arts/action flick (though it was). It was a lot of fun, it felt like an event, and beyond that, it really brought to the fore more than ever, the mythology and backstory of the game. The actors were great in their roles and really brought the characters to life in an organic way. And the themes of honor and fighting to defend life, are what original eastern martial arts are all about. The movie just kind of had everything, and while it certainly affected teenage me far more than it does jaded, grumpy adult me now, I DO still think it's an awesome film (which is amazing because I kind of hate the director).
|It's the Ultimate Showdown, of Ultimate Destiny.|
As for my favorite game of 1995, well, it wasn't as if I was obsessed with the MK franchise THAT much...but I certainly got swept up in the fever, as I said, and while I thought the original version of MKIII was neat when it came out early that year, it was lacking, especially missing the popular ninja characters. So in the fall, when they released a better "Ultimate" version that returned the ninjas and added cooler backgrounds, I just loved it. Especially because the night it was first put into the mall arcade I would frequent for many years, my friends and I got there right as some guy was playing it, playing one of the "new" characters (the female ninja Jade), and he was somehow awesome at it. A huge crowd gathered around as he beat it on the hardest tier, and proceeded to pick the "Supreme Demonstration" as his reward, which of course shows ALL the finishing moves in the game, for every character. The crowd, my friends and I included, ate it up, and it was just a really fun time, and a good memory.
When it comes to the album, you'll notice there's an asterisk next to it. That's because I actually wasn't yet into "album music" in 1995. I had a few tapes, yes, but for the majority of my childhood any new music I knew was from the radio, or something like MTV or VH1. So I decided to pick that album retroactively, because after looking at albums that came out in 1995, I like that one best, as it really is one of Iced Earth's best. A classic piece of heavy metal. Plus, I mean, it ends with the 16+ minute epic based on Dante's Inferno. And as for the song, well it wasn't a NEW song that year, but "When I Come Around" by Green Day was absolutely my JAM of 1995. I loved that song, it really spoke to me for some reason. Still does.