Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (1995 - SNES)
Yoshi's Island has been one of my longest-running "childhood demons" that I finally exorcised this past year, thanks in part to Retroachievements. Though I bought this game the year it was released, I gave up on it shortly after around Marching Milde's Fortress, having felt the controls were too unusual and the levels were getting too big and confusing to ever dream of getting 100% in all worlds. And yet, I've finally done that.
The much-lauded graphics and animation that resemble a child's storybook drawings and were made possible by the Super FX2 chip, are some of the most impressive on the SNES and in 2D games in general. Characters and settings bubble to the brim with personality. But don't let it fool you - this is not a game for preschoolers. It is difficult and challenging, and the game's main focus is throwing strange controls at you and forcing you to figure out a way to overcome obstacles with them. Yoshi himself feels weirder and less natural to control than Mario ever did, and his unusual method of aiming and throwing eggs to attack complicates this. Some stages go a step farther by having Yoshi transform into weird vehicles, like a helicopter or car, or don a pair of skis, or ride around on a skittish dog, all of which present a new control scheme to master.
Because Yoshi's Island relies a lot on its weird control gimmicks and is rather slow-paced, I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with all the opinions I saw in my early internet days that said this was the best Mario game, best 2D sidescroller, best platform game ever, etc. While it is a great game, I still don't think it tops Super Mario Bros. 3 in my book, which is not only challenging and similarly epic in scope, but has measures to make it more replayable. But at least I can't complain that Shigeru Miyamoto and his team didn't give it their all. I do think it's better than its predecessor, Super Mario World.
One lesson I can take away from Yoshi's Island is that knowing other people's strategies for something won't always spoil the challenge for you. Sometimes, you just have to come up with your own. I was having a particularly tough time with a helicopter stage and even after watching YouTube videos of other people beating it and being told what others had done, I couldn't pull it off. I have a long, elaborate explanation of what I ultimately did posted here, if you're interested.
Young and Innocent (1937 - DVD)
Also known as "The Girl Was Young", this is an older Alfred Hitchcock movie in which a man is framed for muder and with the help of a reluctant young woman, he must find evidence that proves he is innocent. I don't have much to say about it. The acting is really cheesy, and since the audience knows who did it from the beginning, there isn't much of a mystery. It's just waiting for the characters to figure it out while doing some unintuitively ridiculous things, like stopping for a child's birthday party and giving her one of the house's lawn gnomes as an impromptu present.
Also, the cartoonish way the villain gives himself up in the end reminded me that sometimes I think even the best Hitchcock movies have weak endings.