Azn Badger's Blog

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Best Boss Music #13: Super Godzilla

Super Godzilla was one of those games that I really wanted to like.

Oddly enough, that seems to be the case for me with pretty much every Godzilla videogame I’ve ever played.

You see, even though Godzilla and Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters on the NES were both shit, the fanboy kept finding stupid reasons for me to give ’em second chances.

“Sure the gameplay is sloppy and monotonous, but c’mon; it’s motherfuckin’ Godzilla!”

As a kid, (minus the profanity) these were the kinds of thoughts that would run through my head every time I’d stick a Godzilla game in my NES.

 

Nowadays it's more like: "GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKER, WHY AM I STILL PLAYTHING THIS PIECE OF ASS!!?"

Despite the Big G’s spotty track record up to that point, Super Godzilla, in my young mind; was supposed to be the game that made up for it all.

I remember reading preview articles in Game Players and GamePro that made Super Godzilla look like the shit.

The screenshots looked sharp, the gameplay sounded fresh and unique, and the roster of monsters, while quaint by some standards; was packed with fan favorites and a host of Heisei era kaiju that had yet to gain exposure in the U.S.

Not only that, the game promised a thrilling and campy Godzilla story involving aliens taking control of Earth’s monsters, with the Earthlings responding in kind by taking control o Godzilla and piloting him via remote from the cockpit of the Super X2!

It looked and sounded like a Godzilla fans dream.

I rented Super Godzilla as soon as it became available at my local videostore, and I can honestly say; I was disappointed.

 

The first thing that hit me right off the bat, was the game’s general lack of quality in both audio and visual terms.

I mentioned that Super Godzilla looked good in stills, and I wasn’t lying.

 

HOLY SHIT!!!

The game makes extensive use of extremely large and detailed character portraits for Godzilla and all of his Toho frat brothers, however therein lies the problem:

The character graphics consist almost exclusively of barely animated, or worse yet; “Ken Burns-ed” animation cycles.

You see, the core gameplay of Super Godzilla consisted of 2 basic functions:

Finding and then fighting the enemy monster of each level.

While one would think this would be an action-packed process, Toho made the decision to structure the “finding” aspect of the game as sort of a grid-based strategy game, and worse yet; made the “fighting” section a barely interactive mashup of repetitive cutscenes.

You remember the lengthy and unskippable summon cutscenes from Final Fantasy VII?

Well, imagine a fighting system where all you do watch 4-5 shitty looking summons over and over and over again, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what it’s like to play Super Godzilla.


Rest assured, one can take time to make many a sandwich while playing Super Godzilla…

Okay fine, the “fighting” in Super Godzilla has at least some level of interactivity to it, but believe when I say it; it’s not much.

Basically, when one enters into combat with an enemy monster, the screen morphs from the overhead map to a 2D sprite-based fighting game layout.

Pictured: The Thrilling Battle Screen...

From this screen, the player can make use of 3 buttons and maneuvers:

Punching, blocking, and using items.

While blocking is self-explanatory, landing a punch is required in order to initiate the aforementioned cutscene attacks, which are empowered by the player’s “fighting spirit” meter at the bottom of the player’s HUD.

As one would expect, given it’s massive place on the HUD, the “fighting spirit” meter is the crux of the Super Godzilla “fighting” system.

When one advances towards one’s opponent in Super Godzilla, the player’s “fighting spirit” increases, gradually falling when the player retreats.

Upon landing a punch on the enemy, the player’s “fighting spirit” will freeze in place, inviting the player to retreat and open up the attack command window at the center of the HUD.

Depending of the volume of the player’s “fighting spirit,” as well as the distance that they retreat, the player will be given more powerful attack commands to select from.

In all Godzilla has access to 4 attack commands: tail whip, body slam, fire breath, and hyper fire breath from weakest to strongest respectively.

Sadly, no tail slide though...

Items gathered from the “finding” phase of each level consist of instant use health power-ups, defense boosters, and a “fighting” spirit

Perhaps the worst part of the gameplay system, was the addition of enemy UFOs as random encounter enemies in most of the stages.

Taking only 1 hit to destroy, these UFOs absolutely shit ALL OVER what little enjoyment was to be derived from the “finding” portion of each level.

I don’t mind random encounters in RPGs, but when said encounters involve only 1 enemy type, and a pathetically weak one at that; I just don’t get it.

I suppose it doesn’t help that many of the levels in Super Godzilla have time limits, making these random encounters have zero possibility of doing damage to you, but still serving to potentially end your game through wasting your motherfucking time…

Make no mistake, finding and killing the Mothership hidden in each stage is deeply advised, as it is the only thing that will stop you from having to fight baby UFOs every 5 seconds.

 

KILL IT WITH FIRE.

Despite the bland and painfully slow-paced gameplay, Super Godzilla did have a few little things going for it.

For instance, during the “finding” portion of each level, the player was often free to choose their own path in maneuvering the map, making item gathering and avoidance of stationary enemy emplacements entirely up to the player.

In addition to this, there’s a great deal of variety in the tasks heaped on the player on their plodding march to finding the enemy monster.

For instance, in the 3rd stage, you are required to raid (read: step on) several enemy bases in order to free a captive scientist.

In the 4th stage, the player must do battle with a pair of Battra’s, however if one is quick enough in reaching the second while it is still in it’s chrysalis, it is in fact possible to destroy it before it hatches.

These variations in gameplay also extend to the “fighting” segments of the game in the form of each enemy monster having certain attacks in Godzilla’s repertoire that are ineffective against them.

Thankfully, most of these variations are fairly logical, with Biollante’s superior mass making her invulnerable to Godzilla’s body slam attack, and Battra’s speed making them unable to be hit by anything but Godzilla’s most powerful fire breath attack.

Yeah, somehow I don't think running into it would be an advisable course of action...

Toho can suck a dick though for making Mechagodzilla able to counter Godzilla’s basic fire breath.

I know he did in the movies, but for fuck’s sake; didja’ really have to make the fire breath one of the most common attacks to pop up in the attack window?

Anyway, the 1 huge plus Super Godzilla has going for it, (besides being a Godzilla product) is the inclusion of, well; Super Godzilla.

During the last few stages of the game, the player can go out of their way to obtain a series of power ups to transform plain ‘ole Godzilla into Super Godzilla.

What's this, Godzilla's evolving!? Godzilla evolved into SUPER Godzilla!

Bearing a truly awesome design, that was largely transplanted into the design for Space Godzilla the year after the game’s release, Super Godzilla granted the player access to a brand new set of attack commands, a Mega Buster like chargeable punch, and the ability to walk through buildings and obstacles on the map screen without taking damage.

Most of Super Godzilla was tough to slog through, but for what it’s worth, the final battle against the Super Godzilla exclusive, and exceedingly well-designed giant monster, Bagan; is a far better one than the game probably deserved.

Say what you will about the game, Bagan was pretty tight lookin'...

That being said, while Super Godzilla does in fact have a truly horrible soundtrack, with many tracks serving to utterly butcher some truly classic Godzilla themes; the boss music played during the Bagan fight is actually… good.

That’s right, I said something was “good” in Super Godzilla.

Seriously, give it a listen:

While it’s honestly not a great piece of Super NES music by any standards, it’s easily the best track in the game; and has a pretty serious sound to it that’s rarely heard in 16-bit game music.

I love the opening notes, and how bizarre and frankly, “alien” it feels, making it quite appropriate for the climax piece of a giant monster alien invasion story.

Perhaps the track’s biggest accomplishment though, is that it actually sounds like Godzilla music.

Godzilla movies have played host to some of Japan’s finest composers, and as such, have always bore a distinctive and powerful sound.

Many of the tracks in Super Godzilla feel generic and flat, but the final boss theme has a “big-ness” in it’s instrumentation that make it sound like a cross between the trumpet heavy orchestrations of Akira Ifukube and the synth-heavy work of Takayuki Hattori.

Anyway, Super Godzilla is one of those games that I want to like.

I know it sucks, but the Godzilla fan in me still tries to find ways to redeem it.

While most pro-Super Godzilla arguments are likely to be filled to the brim with bullshit, let it be known that any argument citing the final boss theme as a redeeming factor have at least that going for them.

"You WILL play Super Godzilla, and LIKE IT."

Filed under: Best Boss Music, Games, Movies, The Best Track in the Game, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Best Boss Music #12: Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage

Maximum Carnage was a decent beat ’em up in an age when beat ’em ups were a dime a dozen.

Produced by LJN for the Super NES and Genesis, the game followed the storyline of the massive Spider-Man crossover of the same name, with the player taking on the role Spider-Man (duh), or in some cases; his nastier (and cooler) counterpart, Venom.

Aside from a rather harsh difficulty level, the only really glaring deficiency of the game, was it’s lack of 2-player simultaneous support.

Honestly, LJN product or not; nobody in their right mind should ever think it’s okay to release a beat ’em up without a 2 player function.

Behold, the rainbow of ass.

Despite this (huge) flaw, the game did offer some interesting innovations to the genre in the form of special items that bestow the player with aid from other superheroes, and Spider-Man and Venom’s decidedly spidery movesets.

The “superhero summon” system was a decent idea on paper, however the item pickups that activated the function were extremely rare, and often were only useful to the player in very specific circumstances.

I remember hating to use the “summons” sometimes, ’cause every time you did, it would trigger an annoying second or 2 long clip of the summoned character’s “theme music.”

That might not sound too bad to you, but try summoning Black Cat 5 times in a row, see what happens.

Yeah, pretty fuckin’ annoying, right?

*Ahem!* Moving on, the movesets for the 2 protagonists were pretty well thought out for their time.

In addition to the classic one button punch combos, throws, and 2 button screen clearing attacks; both Spider-Man and Venom had the ability to run, jump, backflip, (useful for finding items, hidden areas, and nothing else) climb walls in the background, block attacks with their webbing, swing from web lines, grab enemies with their webbing/symbiote, and even slam 2 enemies’ heads together ala Batman in the Batman Returns game on the Super NES.

While most of these features were elementary for the most part, the addition of the web based moves added a lot to the experience.

In addition to giving the player added flexibility to their approach to various fights, an important factor given how absurdly overpowered some of the bosses could be; the web attacks also served to make good use of the Spider-Man license.

On a side note, while some of the character art… and animations… and backgrounds; are kind of shitty, I’ve always felt that LJN did a pretty decent job with the Spider-Man, and in particular; the Venom sprites.

I said "decent," not "great"....

Not that they managed to do anything else right in the entirety of their game developing existence, but that’s besides the point…

Both are animated fluidly, though Spider-Man looks kind of weird given his oddly dick-shaped head and lack of web pattern on his suit.

I always thought it was cool how both had their own unique animations, with Spider-Man’s being more graceful and Venom’s being more brutish.

One thing that kind of sucked, was the fact that Venom was definitely the more difficult character to use than Spider-Man.

As a kid, I always picked him every chance I got, though his slightly slower attack speed and harder levels made for an experience I rarely made it to the end of.

Pictured: THE reason I rarely beat Maximum Carnage.

While Maximum Carnage was indeed only an average (at best) game, my memories of it run very deep.

I remember reading the comic arc around the same time I played the game, and to this day I feel the harsh atmosphere and violent content of the game do well to live up to the original story.

Nevermind that the comic itself was actually kind of shitty, but bear in mind; I was a young and mostly stupid Azn Badger when I read it, so Venom and a healthy dose of violence were pretty much all I needed to be impressed.

Besides my personal attachment to the source material, another silly little bit of nostalgia worth noting, was the fact that the game cartridge WAS FUCKING RED.

FUCKING. RED.

Remember the stupid fuckin’ gimmick of the golden Legend of Zelda carts?

Remember how many fuckin’ copies that game sold?

Well, my guess is LJN was hoping to cash in on the “colored cart” gimmick; and for all intents and purposes, it worked.

Just ask Killer Instinct

Biter...

I’m not saying the game sold all that well, (my guess is: it didn’t) but for me and my friends, the promise of a BLOOD/CARNAGE RED cart to shove into our Super NES’ was one that was awful tempting.

Anyway, another little gimmick, and one that I never really found any reason to get excited about, even as a kid; was the fact that LJN recruited the rock band Green Jelly to do some of the music for the game.

Now, I don’t know about you; but the only thing I really remember about Green Jelly, was the fact that they did that retardedly awesome rock version of “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” they used in Dumb and Dumber:

While that was indeed really fuckin’ awesome, please bear in mind that I hadn’t even seen Dumb and Dumber by the time I was playing Maximum Carnage.

Oh yeah, and I was a fuckin’ 7 year old kid that was still listening to a GREEN audio cassette of the Ninja fuckin’ Turtles in place of music.

Anyway, Green Marmalade did the soundtrack for the game, and I’ve gotta’ say; while I don’t really know what their songs are/were like, they did a pretty good job with the score for Maximum Carnage.

The score has an appropriately hard rock sound to it, in that the comic arc itself had a mosh pit sort of vibe to it, with Carnage’s mistress, Shriek; acting as the psychic ringmaster to an ongoing street riot in New York for much of the story.

As such, the soundtrack for Maximum Carnage has a very aggressive and sometimes dark sound to it that lends a sense of legitimacy to some of the more serious moments in the narrative.

Just listen the track they use during the cutscenes, it’s simple, but pretty fuckin’ sinister if you ask me:

Standing out as a highlight in the soundtrack though, is the boss music from Maximum Carnage.

Bearing a highly energetic tempo, the boss theme sounds very much the product of a hard rock band:

Truth be told, I really only like the first half of the track, when the primary (digitized) guitar riffs are front and center; however that isn’t to say the track isn’t great from a technical perspective.

My issue with the second half of the track, is that it comes across as being “too fun” for my tastes.

The first half sounds like the background to a fuckin’ supervillain beat down, while the second half sounds a little bit too colorful for it’s own good.

That’s just me though.

Anyway, this has been another (long overdue) installment of the Best Boss Music, tune in tomorrow!

Filed under: Best Boss Music, Comics, Games, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Best Boss Music #11: Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga


Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga is one of the cutest and most endearing games I’ve ever played, on the Gameboy Advance or any other console.

Not only that, it’s also a damn fine RPG as well.

Essentially picking up where Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario left off, (and then picked up again…) Superstar Saga is a far cry from the traditional console RPG.

Name another RPG that has EXTREME JUMP ROPING!

As it’s title indicates, Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga is a game that follows the exploits of the 2 plumber brothers as they work together to recover Princess Peach’s voice (it was replaced with word bubbles that turn into bombs) from an evil witch of the neighboring Bean Bean Kingdom named Cackletta.

Pictured: The Hemaphroditic Bowser/Cackletta hybrid known as "Bowletta." You can't make this shit up...

Along the way, the player assumes control of the 2 brothers throughout the entirety of the adventure, acquiring and putting to use a number of interesting and unique powers that can be used in tandem to accomplish any number of crazy (but often necessary) feats.

 

Not sure if playing leap-frog during a life or death battle is all that "necessary," but oh well, to each his own.

It should be noted that the story and gameplay of Superstar Saga are top of their class in every regard.

In particular, like most sprite based RPGs, I found the interplay between the vocalizations, scripting, and pantomime of the various characters to be among the best I’ve encountered in any game, period.

Seriously, every character has at least some sort of trademark nuance or quirk to their movements, speech, or sound effects that makes them, and indeed the entire game world, come alive.

DISCO DANCE!!!!!!!!!!!

That being said, let’s get to the gameplay.

Being as the source material is grounded in the Mario canon, it’s only appropriate that the game include a great deal of platforming and coin gathering to go with it’s turn-based combat and level grinding.

 

While I love Diablo as much as the next dork, I thank the heavens that Mario hasn't tried to bite off it's mechanics. Yet...

The key innovation that Superstar Saga brings to the table, and indeed all Mario RPGs prior and since; is the hands-on approach to gameplay elements that are typically automated in most RPGs.

Said elements are no more apparent, than in Superstar Saga’s highly detailed and interactive combat system.

Monsters are encountered on the overworld map, not as random battles, but in the form of fast-moving and aggressive character sprites that maneuver the landscape.

Once a battle begins, the player assumes control of both Mario and Luigi in a turn-based fashion.

From there, timed button inputs are required on the part of the player to effectively attack and defend.

For the love of God, push the "B" button to not die!

Every enemy attack in the game has a means to be avoided or defended in some way, provided the player has the timing and reflexes necessary to do so.

This effectively makes the difficulty of the combat in Superstar Saga a product of the players skill, rather than the stats of his characters.

Being as I’m really an RPG guy these days, I for one really appreciated this.

 

By the way, thank you Demon's Souls for shitting all over my previous statement.

While the game was far from difficult, the battle system kept the boredom and tedium at bay for the most part, leaving me with a terrific and off-the-wall story to enjoy.

Trust me, if you’re looking for a way to indulge your inner child and feel like a 9 year old all over again, try playing Superstar Saga; you won’t be disappointed.

Anyway, this post was supposed to be about music, so what’s say we get to it shall we?

Superstar Saga, like virtually any Nintendo product, has a wonderful soundtrack.

Composed by the prolific and talented Yoko Shimomura, the whole soundtrack is very well-rounded, and more importantly; thematic and appropriate to the setting and mood.

Superstar Saga is a colorful, light, and “bouncy” game, and the soundtrack was tailor-made to suit those feelings.

Defne Adj. "Bouncy": Any game that includes a sequence wherein 2 Italian plumbers do battle with a barrel of sentient cola.

Despite this, the game is still an RPG nonetheless, and thusly features a wide array of battle themes, not to mention a few boss themes.

While every track of the game is deserving of special notice, the Best Boss Music in Superstar Saga is…

Rookie and Popple:

This track plays whenever Mario and Luigi do battle with the wily thief named Popple, and his new protege, “Rookie.”

The fun part of these battles, comes from the fact that the “Rookie” is in fact Bowser; albeit a Bowser with amnesia.

Scratch that. Amnesia and a pimp-ass hat.

Despite the memory loss, whenever the player attacks Bowser in these fights, a little light bulb will flicker on in his head, and he’ll suddenly bust out some decidedly Bowser-like moves.

I guess you could call it a case of muscle memory winning out over mental memory.

Anyway, this track was only played a handful of times in the game, but I found myself happy to hear it every time it did.

It’s far more energetic than the standard boss theme, and better composed for that matter; but in some ways I feel that Popple and Rookie’s reduced frequency of occurrence in-game is part of what makes it stand out so much.

Despite many of the other Best Boss Music entries listed on this blog being of the more epic or dramatic variety, Popple and Rookie earns it’s spot purely off of it’s fun-factor.

Let it be known, that which makes us happy is often that which is most important to us.

Tune in tomorrow for another real post!

Maybe…

Filed under: Best Boss Music, Games, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Best Boss Music #10: Ikaruga

I loves me some space shooters.

Foh’ real man, if a game is vertical scrolling, and involves a great deal of shooting, chances are I’ve either played it, or would very much like to play it.

Ikaruga stands as a game that is at or near the apex of quality and ingenuity for the vertical scrolling shoot ’em up subgenre.

Right next to this beast...

Developed by legendary team over at Treasure, Ikaruga is an intensely complex and difficult game, that while actually quite short, even by shoot ’em up standards, is very difficult to complete, even for the most seasoned of veterans.

I myself have never managed to beat Ikaruga, only getting far enough to get to the first step of the final boss’ stoop.

"Haha! Stoop Kid's afraid to leave his stoop!"

Set somewhere amid the same mythology as the one conceived in Treasure’s earlier Radiant Silvergun, Ikaruga is one of the rare shoot ’em ups that actually has a legitimate backstory, albeit one that is completely omitted from the actual gameplay.

Similar to many of the older generation games, Ikaruga’s storyline was told, in detail; within the game’s instruction manual, as well as in cryptic messages that would flash on-screen briefly between each of the games 5 stages.

Yeah, 'cause I can read that...

While not nearly as deep as say, Konami’s Gradius series’, Ikaruga’s story is actually fairly intriguing.

The basic setup is that of a powerful empire discovering the power of God, only to wield it against it’s own people in an attempt to create absolute peace.

So, the evil empire discovers The Force...

This of course leads to a rebel faction taking up arms, only to be nearly completely annihilated in the process.

... And obviously the Rebels are fucking incompetent.

One pilot though, whom the player assumes control of, crash lands in village called Ikaruga (Mottled Finch).

... Said pilot crashes on a planet to acquire The Force...

The old people there, living in exile from the empire grant this pilot a ship imbued with a power similar to the power of God discovered earlier, though broken down into 2 separate polarities, black and white, or Yin and Yang.

Humor me and pretend you're interested.

With this power at your command, you the player dash headlong into the maw of the enemy forces on a suicide mission to turn the tide of the war.

The Yin and Yang concept mentioned above serves as the very core of Ikaruga’s unique gameplay.

Basically, every enemy and bullet in Ikaruga belongs to one of the 2 polarities of black or white.

With the touch of a button, the player is able to change their ship’s polarity back and forth between black or white alignment.

Pictured: The White and Black forms of the ship as rendered in pixel-format by Metaru.

When in either color state, the player’s ship becomes immune to all enemy bullets sharing it’s color.

Not only that, but purposely absorbing bullets of the same polarity slowly charges one’s special attack meter, which can be unleashed in the form of a massive homing laser attack that serves as Ikaruga’s equivalent to the classic shoot ’em up bomb attack.

Yup, that's a bomb.

At the same time, the player also has to take into consideration the fact that enemies take twice as much damage when struck by a laser of the opposite polarity.

This leads to occasional mental overload on the part of the player due to the constant possibility to trade the security of fighting an enemy of the same polarity, in favor of potentially destroying them faster by switching to the opposite polarity.

Now imagine this when you're EXPECTED to purposely run into half of this.

As mentioned earlier, Ikaruga is a very short game, at only 5 stages in length, however it’s difficulty stems from the intense level of strategic thinking necessary to maneuver each stage.

A huge element of the difficulty in Ikaruga springs from the fact that, in order to played correctly, one must effectively reprogram their most basic shoot ’em up instincts.

The one basic rule that is a constant in the vast majority of scrolling shooters, (well, except maybe Giga Wing) is that bullets are bad, and should never be touched due to the distinct potentiality that they might, I don’t know, KILL YOU.

Sadly, Takeshi Kitano forgot to un-learn the lessons taught to him by Ikaruga.

Ikaruga takes this most basic of concepts and throws it out the 3rd story window.

I think it goes without saying, I’m not very good at Ikaruga.

The game makes no attempt to cover-up the fact that it’s a shoot ’em up made exclusively for seasoned players of the genre with big hairy stones.

... Or failing that, one that can make fire from box-office success.

Hell, the game goes so far as to include a tiny animation for when you skim bullets with your ship, serving as a visual indicator as to exactly where the ship’s hit box is located.

Not only that, the game also grants the player special point bonuses for defeating enemies of the same polarity consecutively, as well as a particularly difficult to obtain bonus called “Dot Eater” that can only be obtained by beating a stage without shooting down a single enemy.

How is this possible?

Well, the stage bosses of Ikaruga all come with time limits attached, resulting in epic battles that can end in stalemate due to the retreat of the enemy unit.

Speaking of bosses, Ikaruga’s got some pretty neat ones.

Hey look it's a... Uh... Yeah, I got nothin'.

They lack personality for sure, but from a gameplay standpoint they are expertly crafted masterpieces of the genre.

The real star of the show during the boss fights though, is of course; the music!

That being said, let’s get down to our best boss track in Ikaruga:
Stage 1 Boss Theme: Butsutekkai

Though Butsutekkai gets the gold in terms of overall energy, I honestly feel that this next track is on par with it in terms of musical quality while adopting more of a sweeping dramatic sound.
Stage 2 Boss Theme: Recapture

Anyway, those are my 2 picks for the Best Boss Music in Ikaruga.

Tune in next time!

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Best Boss Music #9: God Hand

*ATTENTION, THIS POST IS BROKEN-AS-FUCK ON ACCOUNT OF YOUTUBE SUCKING BALLS.  IT WILL BE FIXED ASAP.*

I treasure every moment I was able to spend with God Hand.

Even though the game was control-smashingly difficult, and cursed with a poor camera system and even worse controls; God Hand served as a magnificent throwback to the beat ’em ups of yore.

Blue jeans and thunderbolt wrestling tights: Standard garb in the early 90's.

In fact, it’s one of those games that I honestly would love to see a sequel to, however; due to the dissolution of Clover Studio shortly after it’s release, as well as it’s sub-par review scores, I doubt that will ever happen.

Oh well, one can only hope that Capcom will resurrect it someday…

BRING THEM BACK YOU MONEY GRUBBING GRABOID-FUCKERS!

Anyway, God Hand is, as I mentioned previously; a non-traditional beat ’em up for the PS2.

I say “non-traditional” because the game made use of an over-the-shoulder camera system akin to Capcom’s own Resident Evil 4 from a year or 2 before, a feature that is scarcely seen in traditional beat ’em ups.

While most attempts at 3D, polygonal beat ’em ups turned out to be utter failures, (Gekido and Dynamite Cop some of the few exceptions) God Hand manages to succeed for the most part.

Fighting Force on the other hand, was not so lucky...

The main appeal of the game lay in it’s clever use of context sensitive button functions and utterly ridiculous (and unapologetically Japanese) dialogue and character designs.

Seriously, this game is balls out INSANE from end to end, but in the best possible way.

Can you think of any other games that feature giant Mexicans named Elvis, gorillas in Lucha Libre garb, and a fighting force of formidable midget Power Rangers?

Hah, thought I was kiddin' yah', didn'cha'?

Oh yeah, and don’t forget the spanking.

Yeah, I can’t think of any other games like that either.

While I won’t attempt to explain the details of the storyline of God Hand, I will offer you this simple summary:

The player character, Gene; loses an arm to some demons one day, only to wake up in a hotel room with a hottie named Olivia, and his arm restored in the form of the legendary, and outrageously powerful God Hand.

Yeah, this isn't a product of Japan. Not at all...

From that point on, the pair set out into the world to battle the demons and their generals, the 4 Devas; in an attempt to prevent the resurrection of the demon lord, Angra.

Angra, in the flesh.

Much Japanese kitsch and comic violence ensues, and eventually the whole thing comes to a head as the hero is forced to battle Angra while making use of both of the God Hands.

My God! He's gone Super Saiyan 2!

All that nonsense aside, a major part of God Hand that really made it fun for me, was of course it’s battle system.

The game made use of all 4 of the PS2’s face buttons for various attacks, however every single button could have it’s functioned assigned by the player to their liking.

Throughout the game, the player could acquire various fighting moves, with variable damage and speed statistics, eventually resulting in the player gaining a vast arsenal of unique and drastically different maneuvers they could implement depending on the situation.

Best of all, like most beat ’em ups, mashing the square button 5 times would result in an “auto combo,” however; thanks to the games’ robust customization system, each individual strike in this combo could be arranged to the players preference.

In addition to this, the game also featured a robust dodging system using the right analog stick, which allowed the player to juke, duck and sway to avoid attacks, as well as do evasive handsprings.

I know it's dumb, but this pic from the Dustin Hoffman/Robert Redford movie All The President's Men, just happened to be the first image I got when Googling "evasive handspring."

Aside from the basic attacks, the player was also afforded the powers of the God Hand of the game’s title.

Basically, the God Hand is, quite literally, one of the hands of God, of which there are 2, the other of which is of course possessed by a boss you end up fighting later in the game.

The God Hand had 2 functions in the game:

To provide the player limited bursts of super-powered invincibility, and to activate the games’ roulette wheel mechanic.

While the invincibility is self-explanatory, the roulette wheel was a interesting, if somewhat awkward element that succeeded in the keeping the player on their toes, even while executing some of the games’ most powerful attacks.

Basically, the roulette wheel was a customized set of a handful of super attacks and mauveurs that the player would have to quickly sort through during a brief period of slow motion.

Pictured: The Roulette Wheel.

Upon making their selection, the player character, Gene; would carry out the selected maneuver, usually resulting in mass pwnage.

It’s interesting to note that 2 selections on the roulette wheel were a constant:

One that would cause Gene to kowtow before his opponent in shame, and one that would cause a pan to fall from the sky and onto his head.

The first of these would cause the player’s style meter to lower, (a feature that served to increase the player’s after level ranking, as well as adjust the game’s difficulty level in-game) while the second served as a minor health penalty, as well as a exploitable glitch that allowed the player to avoid enemy attacks for a moment.

Yeah, I played God Hand A LOT.

Anyway, enough bullshitting, let’s get down to the Best Boss music selection from God Hand:



The title of this is track is, of course; a clever play on the title of Capcom’s own Devil May Cry.

Devil May Sly plays during the player’s first battle with the owner of the other God Hand, a man named Azel.

While the energy level of the music may seem a little excessive to some, I assure you, the battle that it accompanies is most certainly worthy of such energy.

While this is a poor example of the gameplay, as the player is far too good to make the game seem fun, take a look at this clip:


The fun part of the battle with Azel, is that the programmers were able to effectively endow him with the same abilities and attacks of the player, while making the battle play out very smoothly.

Essentially, what I mean to say is that, while there are of course Resident Evil 4-like context sensitive button mashing sessions during the fight, one still feels like they are indeed playing the game as opposed to an interactive cutscene or minigame.

The first time I beat Azel (I did in fact lose once or twice) was a helluva’ a good time.

I feel it’s also worth mentioning that Azel’s second appearance in the game, also deserves some kudos.

This battle happened to be a little more frustrating, and less rewarding than the first, but I really liked the music so I figured I’d throw it up here for yah’.

In keeping with the more serious tone of the battle, the music is appropriately darker and heavier.

While I really like Duel Storm, I feel that Devil May Sly is, musically; just a little bit more enjoyable.

With that, I leave you with this delightful, and not at all strange TV spot for God Hand:

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Best Boss Music #8: Blue Dragon

Today we’re gonna’ do something a little bit different.

Today we’re going to be talking about a game I’ve never played and know close to nothing about!

Yup, still retarded.

That’s right, we’re gonna’ be talking about Blue Dragon on the Xbox 360!

That being said, instead of looking over the wikipedia page, and copy-pasting the whole thing to make it look like I know what I’m talking about, I’d rather just be honest and leave this game as the mystery that it is.

As far as I am aware, Blue Dragon is a straightforward Japanese RPG with character designs by the master of musclebound, capillary popping disaster, Akira Toriyama.

Yes, the Dragonball guy.

Wow, he's hella' dorky lookin'.... Never knew that.

Anyway, the game received decent reviews, but for the most part is best remembered as one of the first JRPG’s on  the Xbox 360.

Aside from those little factoids, I know nothing about Blue Dragon.

I’ve never played it, watched it be played, or even listened to the soundtrack.

I have however listened to one piece of music from the game, a boss theme by industry legend Nobuo Uematsu entitled “The Seal is Broken.”

Yes, the Final Fantasy guy.

Haha, he looks like one of my uncles or some shit.

If you’ve read some of my other posts, then you know that Final Fantasy isn’t really my favorite game franchise of all time, particularly in the post-VI era.

My opinion of Mr. Uematsu’s music is largely mirrors my feelings towards the Final Fantasy games.

He gets a lot of press, and there’s no doubt that he’s a wonderful composer, but he’s just not really my favorite.

It’s kind of like how I feel about Hans Zimmer in regards to movie soundtracks.

Hans Zimmer: The Definition of Overexposed.

Sure he’s great and all, but I’d definitely put John Powell or Basil Poledouris higher on my list than him any day.

Anyway, my bullshit aside, “The Seal is Broken” is one damn fine piece rock opera-esque awesomeness.

Give it a listen:

The Seal is Broken

I love the energy of this music.

It has a great pace to it, steadily building, with a palpable sense of foreboding.

Based on the character designs and music alone, my guess is that Blue Dragon is not what you’d call a “dark” game, and as such, I feel that this track captures the inherently cartoony nature of Toriyama’s illustrations all too well.

Well okay, maybe the music's a little too "hard" for these designs, but hey, it's still awesome fuckin' music nonetheless.

One thing about this track, that I feel needs to be mentioned, publicly; is the fact that parts of it are eerily similar to a very well known piece of music.

It’s only a brief portion of it, but still, my goofy ears won’t let me deny the similarities.

Tune to 3:32 of “The Seal is Broken” and listen until 3:40.

Now, listen to the chords of the Top Gun Anthem, and tell me there aren’t similarities between the two.
The Top Gun Anthem

Say what you will, I made this connection the first time I heard “The Seal is Broken,” and God help me, I’ll probably believe in it until the day I die.

Anyway, that’s all I gotta’ say about the mystery game that is Blue Dragon.

Happy Sunday everyone!

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Best Boss Music #7: Einhänder

Einhänder was Squaresoft’s first and only scrolling shooting game.

Released in 1998 on the Playstation, the game represented a rare foray into the action genre for Squaresoft.

Despite the companies’ reputation for producing almost exclusively RPG games, the late 90’s represented a wonderful era of experimentation and change in the types of games Square would produce.

Pictured: A game we won't be talking about.

During this time Square would branch out and produce a great number of quality games across a myriad of genres.

Tobal No. 1 and 2,

How come we didn't get this awesome cover art in the U.S.?

Bushido Blade 1 and 2,

Pictured: Why Bushido Blade was the shit.

as well the Namco collaborative project, Ehrgeiz, represented Square’s first 3D fighting games.

Pictured: The only reasons any of you fanboy fuckers remember the mediocrity that was Ehrgeiz.

Parasite Eve 1 and 2 turned the RPG genre on it’s head with it’s modern and horror infused plot, as well as it’s hybrid real-time, turn-based combat system.

Oh yeah, and boobies.

Brave Fencer Musashi was one of Square’s first (and best) attempts to create a Zelda-style dungeon crawling adventure game.

I fuckin' LOVED this game. Never beat it though...

And Einhänder, was one of the finest space shooters ever made.

The game was absolutely gorgeous, with spectacular art design, wonderful atmosphere, and an especially noteworthy soundtrack by Kenichiro Fukui.

The basic story of the game was that, in the future, mankind expands it’s civilization to the moon, which at some point sparks a war between the people of the Earth, and the people of the Moon.

The player takes control of the moon-based pilot of a special, wasp shaped plane with a giant manipulator arm for snatching and using enemy weapons, or “Gun Pods.”

Essentially, the game represents a suicide run on the part of the player, wherein they are expected to destroy as many enemy facilities as possible to force the end of the war.

By the end of the game however, the player is faced with the unfortunate task of having to fight for their lives against their fellow soldiers, the reasoning behind which being that they were in fact expected to die on their suicide run on Earth.

"Can't you even die right!?" I'll never get tired of Revolver Ocelot quotes...

Einhänder was presented in a beautifully well-executed 2.5D format.

Essentially, the entire game takes place on a horizontal scrolling, 2D plane, while the graphics and camera angles are rendered in 3D polygons, resulting in a number of dynamic angles that do little to disrupt the relatively simple nature of the gameplay.

Thankfully the camera is in fact better than Superman 64.

At the outset of the game, the player is given the choice of 1 of 3 different “Einhänder” planes, the word being German for “Single-Handed.”

The Endymion FRS Mk. II was a larger plane that could house 3 Gun Pods at any given time, but could only operate one of them at a time.

The Endymion FRS Mk. III was a plane recommended for beginners, as it fielded 2 machine guns by default, as opposed to the normal 1, and it could only hold and operate 1 Gun Pod at a time, limiting the complexity of the gameplay.

And the Astraea FGA Mk. I, was a beastly powerhouse of a machine that could operate 2 Gun Pods at any time, making it the most difficult to pilot, but by far the cream of the crop in my opinion.

Trust me there’s a reason they put the Astraea on the cover.

Throughout the game, the player is faced with the task of battling enemies, while properly managing their Gun Pod arsenal from situation to situation.

Gun Pods could be mounted on the top or bottom of the plane, (or both when using the Astraea) and came in a huge number of varieties, with each having limited ammo so as to require the player to switch them out constantly.

Weapon types ranged from machine guns like the common Vulcan, and it’s overpowered cousin, the Juno, to oddities like the Riot lightning gun, and the defensive chaff gun, the Hedgehog.

Several Gun Pods could only be unlocked by meeting certain conditions, such as killing all of the enemies in a particular scene, or defeating certain bosses in certain ways.

In fact, there were many secrets and branching paths in the game depending upon the player’s performance, resulting in a rare shooter that had the potential to play out differently every time.

Unlike this game, where you can bet on dieing pretty much every time.

Like any other scrolling shooter, bosses were plentiful and spectacular throughout.

Many bosses had weaknesses and could be taken out relatively quickly, (especially when using the ridiculously overpowered Grenade) though in most cases this was ideal, as many of the bosses had variable patterns depending upon the types of damage inflicted on them.

Of course we all know the best damage, is Collateral Damage.

All the bosses in the game had multiple damage quadrants, resulting in interesting scenarios wherein the player would have to quickly decipher which spots made for the most effective targets.

Some of my favorite bosses in the game were the games first boss, a massive elephant like whats-it,

The spider-legged mid-boss of level 3, which could be insanely difficult if not taken out quickly,

KILL IT. NOOOOOOWWWW.

the giant bipedal monkey robot from level 5 that makes Doom noises when it roars,

and the giant satellite that serves as the game’s second to last boss.

PIG FUCKER of a boss. But awesome music, so all is forgiven.

Of course, none of these boss battles would be half as great if not for the game’s amazing soundtrack.

The game doesn’t have a singular boss theme, though in this case I think I would call the first boss theme, “Shudder” the Best Boss Music in Einhänder:

Ah hell, here’s the rest of the boss themes I just listed, in order:
Warning

Madness

and closest runner-up to Shudder, Thermosphere

Much of Einhänder universe uses German and Greek mythological terms, and as such, the game has an appropriately German techno-esque soundtrack.

Pictured: The physical embodiment of German Techno.

The atmosphere is moody, energetic, and undeniably futuristic, giving the game an uncommon sense of drama and urgency for a space shooter.

The game was incredibly difficult, using the annoying-as-fuck “back to the checkpoint every death” system of Gradius, and yet it was packed to the rim with so many beautiful sights and sounds that it was hard to put down.

Einhänder is one of those games that I find myself playing again every few years, and I scarcely believe I will ever get tired of it.

I wouldn’t be lying if I said Einhänder reminded me of Axelay at times.

That’s probably the biggest complement I can give to a space shooter.

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Best Boss Music #6: Kirby Superstar

Let’s get one thing straight: King Dedede is the shit.

Just check out his unbelievably pimptastic theme music that just happens to be the Best Boss Music for today’s post:

If you can’t appreciate the awesomeness that is a gigantic penguin wearing a kimono/Santa robe, while carrying an equally gigantic mallet, IN A WRESTLING RING mind you, then you can go fuck yourself.

This NEEDS to happen.

Seriously, you better find yourself a Maglite or some shit to sit on, otherwise I’ll come find your ass.

FOH’ REAL.

It's waiting...

*Ahem!* ANYWAY, King Dedede is of course, regular villain/rival character in the Kirby universe of games.

In the first game, Kirby’s Dreamland for the Nintendo Game Boy, King Dedede is the primary villain, for just about the coolest reason ever:

The fat fuck stole all the food in Dreamland!

Kid’s game or not, that is just about the coolest evil scheme I’ve ever heard of in videogames.

That fat, gluttonous fuck...

Unfortunately, that equally fat fuck, Kirby, shows up and saves the day, puking stars all over poor Dedede in his own wrestling arena.

Or if you're a cheap ass, you just throw bombs n'shit at him...

This would prove to the norm for most Kirby games, of which there are far too many for me to cover in this article, let alone give two shits about.

Seriously, in my book it goes:  Kirby’s Dreamland, Kirby’s Adventure, Kirby Superstar, and then all of those sinfully addictive Super Smash Bros. games.

DID NOT HAPPEN.

I am fully aware that there are a shit ton of spin-offs and Japanese exclusive games, but like I said, I haven’t got the time, nor the testicular fortitude to write about all of that.

The one game I will talk about in detail however, is Kirby Superstar, as that is the game that plays host to the Best Boss Music track for today.

Kirby Superstar is a standard Super NES Kirby platformer, with the same jumping, floating, eating, and pooping style gameplay of it’s predecessor, Kirby’s Adventure on the NES.

Incontinence: No Laughing Matter.

Taking full advantage of the Super NES’s enhanced capabilities, Superstar was packed to the brim with extra features to go with it’s improved graphics and sound.

With no real “main story mode,” Kirby Superstar nevertheless featured a whopping, 9 different modes of play.

Spring Breeze was the first mode unlocked, which was basically a Super NES remake of the original Kirby’s Dreamland.

This was followed by a mode called Dyna Blade, wherein Kirby embarks on a mission to calm a rampaging bird creature of the same name.

Next came Gourmet Race, which was a multi-heat platforming mode wherein Kirby and King Dedede must compete with one another to collect food while racing to the finish line.

The Great Cave Offensive was an especially unique and robust mode involving a romp through a massive cave while hunting or 60 treasure chests scattered throughout.

Revenge of Meta Knight was an especially difficult mode starring Meta Knight as the main villain, and featuring a dialogue-heavy plot line.

This was probably my favorite of the “story modes.”

Milky Way Wishes is the last of the story modes, involving Kirby’s battle against a comet named Nova using a Mega Man style weapon inventory.

The Arena was the Kirby equivalent to “boss rush” or “survival mode,” wherein the player’s task was simply to defeat the game’s boss character one after another with just one life.

The last two modes in the game were a pair of timing based mini-games called Samurai Kirby and Megaton Punch.

The objectives were to slash one’s opponent first,

or punch a stone slab the hardest respectively.

These modes took only a matter of seconds to complete, however this by no means meant they were easy.

On the contrary, they were quite difficult, but more importantly, they were crazy fun.

Smacking King Dedede upside the head with a party whistle, and literally punching the planet in half are gaming accomplishments that are hard to forget.

I was gonna' Photoshop something, but then I found THIS.

Aside from these last two mini-games, every other mode in the game had a co-op feature using Kirby’s powers of “pooping” out partner characters as a means of creating a second player character.

With all those modes, Kirby Superstar was a vibrant and incredibly varied platformer for it’s day.

Also, along with Kirby Superstar’s brilliant iteration of King Dedede’s theme, (easily my favorite version of it) the game had an overall kick-ass soundtrack.

Standouts include the remixed version of the Green Greens theme:

The Intro Stage of the Revenge of Meta Knight mode:

Not only that, but it’s also worth noting that the standard Boss theme would also be a decent competitor for Best Boss Music had it not been from the same game as King Dedede’s theme.

Giant Penguin, Second-In-Command only to the Mighty Space Bobcat...

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Best Boss Music #5: The King of Fighters 2000

SNK has a long history of being regarded as a fringe gaming company in the U.S.

None of their products and franchises really seriously broke into the mainstream, and in fact most of them started out as lame rip-offs of other, often times better; games.

Despite this, nearly every arcade on the planet has at least one of SNK’s distinctive red arcade cabinets sitting somewhere in a dark corner.

FUCK. YEAH.

SNK games are, for lack of a better term, the perfect gaming choice for the modern American hipster.

SNK games are relatively well-known, behind the times in terms of technology, and often regarded as “under-appreciated.”

Do the fucking math.

*Sigh* I just don't "get" it...

One of SNK’s flagship titles, The King of Fighters, had it’s debut in 1994.

If you want to nit-pick though, 1992’s Garou Densetsu AKA Fatal Fury, was actually the first instance in which The King of Fighters tournament was used in an SNK game.

Just figured I’d throw my nerd cap on the table for all to see.

Hah, thought I was kiddin', didn'cha?

The basic premise of virtually every King of Fighters game, is that of a one-on-one fighting game, with the added feature of both sides consisting of 3-man (or woman) teams.

Each battle is carried out in elimination style, with the victor of each match remaining in the fight to face the next members of the opposing team until they themselves are eliminated.

Between matches, a fraction of life energy is awarded to the victor to give them a fighting chance against their next opponent.

If only my 1997 had been this cool...

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of The King of Fighters series, has always been it’s massive gallery of characters.

Among the linear King of Fighters games, meaning not including any of the spin-offs, there have been well over 100 characters rotated through the roster.

The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match currently holds the record for most number of characters in a King of Fighters game, with a staggering 66 individual combatants.

Jesus fuck that's a lot of people.

Over the years, the gameplay of the King of Fighters series has gone through subtle changes, but has never really attempted to change it’s stripes.

’94 got the ball rolling and introduced us to the series’ protagonist, Kyo Kusanagi, as well as the manually charged super combo meter.

Terry Bogard layin' down the smack on Chang (he's Korean.)

’95 gave us the “oh my God, why didn’t they have this the first time around” team editing feature, as well as gave Kyo a rival in the form of Iori Yagami.

Just a little bit ghey. Just a bit.

’96 gave us simplified controls, and featured GEESE HOWARD.

THE MOTHERFUCKING MAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNN......

GEESE HOWARD automatically elevates any game he’s in to “legendary” status.

’97 represented the culmination of the series’ first (and best) story arc, the Orochi saga; as well as introduced the popular “Advance” and “Extra” styles of play.

Orochi: Evil Demon, Final Boss, and Wearer of Slacks.

It also represented the only instance in series’ history in which ambience was used instead of music for many of the stages.

That was dumb.

’98 was the first game in the series to not have a storyline, instead it was a “dream match” scenario where characters were inserted into the game based on their popularity.

’98 was, in my opinion; the best game in the series up until 2002: Unlimited Match.

Once again here's Chang (the Korean) about to get blasted by Takuma Sakazaki.

’99 gave us 4-man teams and the retarded “strikers” system, as well as the equally retarded “Counter” and “Armor” modes.

It also made drastic changes to the games’ roster, and replaced the main character, Kyo, with K’.

Kind of want to hate him, but I have to admit, he's actually kind of pimp.

While ’99 kind of left a bad taste in my mouth, The King of Fighters 2000 was easily on of my favorites in the series.

I’d rank it just behind ’98 in terms of badassery.

Kind of like how I'd rank Hard-Boiled just behind The Killer in similar terms.

While the gameplay was largely unchanged from ’99, SNK made the wise decision of trimming some of the excess fat in removing the “Armor” and “Counter” modes.

Seriously man, those were bullshit.

Pictured: "Counter" Mode

2000 had a lot going for it: a good roster, great music, and gameplay that was more of the same, but tweaked to perfection.

It’s easy to see why 2000 ended up so good, as it would be SNK’s last real King of Fighters game they would develop before the Korean company, Eolith, bought them out and started raping their franchises.

Hmm, I wonder why Metal Slug 4 would replace Tarma, their coolest character, with Trevor, a KOREAN?

How could you replace THIS, with THIS!!!!???

On the same note, I wonder why King of Fighters 2001 would introduce us to May Lee, a KOREAN?

Well, at least she has a Kamen Rider henshin belt.

Not only that, but I wonder why in King of Fighters 2002, Kim Kap Hwan, SNK’s resident KOREAN who hadn’t received a sprite overhaul in years, would suddenly receive some of the most detailed and smooth animations in the franchise history?

From this...

...To this.

*Ahem!* Bullshit aside, King of Fighters 2000, as well as Metal Slug 3, which was released the same year; had some serious love put into them, and stand as some of; if not the best entries in their respective series.

Kind of like THIS was the best in it's franchise.

The final boss in The King of Fighters 2000, was the mustachioed, dress wearing baddie, Zero.

Pictured: Tom Selleck in a dress.

Technically his name is actually “Clone Zero,” as he is merely a clone of white-haired, dress wearing baddie of the same name from King of Fighters 2001, but whatever.

It’s kind of funny though, Clone Zero has more moves, and is way more difficult to beat than the original Zero, largely because Zero was only a mid-boss in 2001.

Anyway, in case you didn’t know, King of Fighters games, and indeed SNK games in general; have a reputation of populating their games with broken-as-fuck final bosses.

I'm lookin' at you Magaki, you goofy-ass, queer bag of shit.

It’s kind of easy to see why though, seeing as SNK games are primarily arcade games, and in that sense, any way you can squeeze quarters out of your customers is a good way to make money.

I suppose having stuff like this in your arcades would boost sales as well.

Oh yeah, and from a gameplay standpoint, one has to take into account the fact that King of Fighters games have the player going up against the final boss with 3 different characters to their 1.

Despite the numbers advantage though, King of Fighters bosses have always been almost sinfully difficult to overcome.

Many cite ’99’s Krizalid as being one of the harder bosses in the franchise history.

Wow, now that is a fruity coat.

To be honest, I myself didn’t have too much trouble beating him through simply hanging back and Terry Bogard-ing or Joe Higashi-ing his ass.

Personally, I found Goenitz from ’96, Orochi from ’97, and Igniz from ’01 to be far more difficult than Krizalid.

Though Omega Rugal from 2002: Unlimited Match shits on all of them, end of story.

The beast himself.

In terms of difficulty, I would put Clone Zero somewhere on the upswing of the middle-tier.

I’ve had rounds where I went to town on his ass and swept him with one guy, and I’ve also had rounds where he took out my team without breaking a sweat.

Fighting him is kind of a toss-up.

If he hangs back and tries to counter you with his skirt attacks, then chances are you can chip away at him and eke out a victory.

Believe it or not, this is actually a GOOD sign.

If he goes offensive on you, and starts spamming his unblockable shadow punch, then you’re in trouble, ’cause you just know his black hole super combo is gonna’ come out just when you least expect it.

THIS is when you're in trouble.

Of course, despite Clone Zero’s bi-polar fighting style, one plus to the experience, is the truly awesome background music of his stage.

The fight takes place in some sort of deep, dark dungeon, and the music is appropriately moody.

The music is pounding and ominous, lending itself well to Zero’s overwhelming strength advantage over your team, while at once maintaining an energy that fits well with the fighting game experience.

In other words, unlike say, Kain R. Heinlein’s overly dramatic and nearly non-existent theme from Garou: Mark of the Wolves, Zero’s music keeps the player from getting bored.

Another example would be Orochi’s theme from King of Fighters ’97:

Both themes are good, but seem to put too much emphasis on the dramatic aspect of the situation, rather than matching the intensity of the gameplay.

Anyway, that’s King of Fighters 2000, someday I’ll do a 2002: Unlimited Match article, ’cause Krizalid’s remixed theme in that is easily one of the best boss tracks ever in a video game.

I won’t post the link, ’cause I’d like to save it for another day, but definitely check it out.

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Best Boss Music #4: Adventure Island 2

Hudson’s Adventure Island 2 was one of my favorite sidescrolling platformers on the NES.

The game had the straightforward appeal of a Mario game, but with a more aggressive play style.

In most Mario games, precision platforming was the order of the day, as most of level designs, and indeed the enemies in the game, were maneuvered around and dispatched using carefully placed jumps.

Outside of the occasional power-up, Mario did most of his fighting with his ass.

In the Adventure Island series however, the player character, Master Higgins AKA Takahashi; was rarely without a stone hatchet to chuck at his enemies.

Oh yeah, he also had skateboards and dinosaurs to help him too.

Yeah, he's fat.

In fact, fighting in Adventure Island, while hardly required to make your way through most of the stages, was an element of the gameplay that was heavily emphasized.

Enemies were numerous throughout the games’, mostly consisting of pissed off animals of the tropical variety.

I think it's safe to say that the pig lost.

This, coupled with the fact that Master Higgins handled like a meatloaf on wheels, lead to the player typically relying on their weapon to clear the screen of enemies, rather than risk one-touch death as a result of trying to hurdle a snake with one very fat, baseball cap wearing Polynesian.

Artist Rendering

This, combined with the games’ strict time limit, lead to a platforming experience that felt more like a mad dash through an obstacle course as opposed to the more hazard based, methodical nature of most other platformers.

The “time limit” in Adventure Island games, was represented by a series of white tally marks across the top of the screen indicating Master Higgins’ level of hunger.

That's right, he's back. And you better believe he's still hungry...

Throughout the game, players would have to constantly grab fruits and vegetables that would appear before them, thusly keeping Master Fatty McFat-Pants Higgins from dieing of starvation.

For whatever reason, accidentally grabbing an eggplant would cause the angry vegetable (I’m serious, just look at it’s “face”) to follow Higgins around, blare ominous music, and eat away at his time limit.

One EVIL Motherfucker

Either eggplant gives Higgins the shits, or someone on the Hudson development team truly hated that vegetable, because to this day I just don’t get it.

Hell, they even made the eggplant the FINAL BOSS in Adventure Island 4.

Anyway, the main plot of virtually all of the Adventure Island games is typical “rescue the damsel in distress” fare.

You see, Master Higgins, obese island chief that he is, just happens to have a seriously hot lady named Tina living with him on his so-called “Island of Adventure.”

Hey, back in the day THIS was hot.

In fact, his woman is so hot, that wild animals, strange man-animal hybrids, and even aliens want to make off with her.

Well, as you may have guessed, at the start of every game, one of the above goes ahead and snatches Higgins’ lady, thusly forcing the player to guide ‘ole Fat Body across the island to save her.

Now, imagine running across the island when you're built like THIS guy. God rest his soul.

Adventure Island 2 was my favorite game in the series, largely because 3 was always checked out at the rental place.

The first game, in my opinion, was kind of rubbish; with lame graphics, the weakest music in the series, and a seriously limited color palette.

Adventure Island 2 kicked ass because it was Mario, but with dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs that breathed FIRE.

Godzilla = The Azn Badger's Hero.

All of the Adventure Island games had great soundtracks with a great island flair to them.

Most of the tracks were uppity and fun, fitting the colorful graphical style of game about as well as one could hope.

In example, here’s one of the most famous tracks from the series, the Map Screen Theme:

Despite the “island” sound of that particular track, Adventure Island games were by no means one-trick ponies in the audio department.

Like most platformers throughout gaming history, Adventure Island games typically saw the player traverse a wide-range of environments I.E. ice stage, fire stage, air stage, etc.

In Adventure Island 2’s case, the game just happened to have a pretty spankin’ Desert Theme:

As you have probably figured by now, the Boss Theme for Adventure Island 2 was awesome.

So awesome in fact, that they recycled it for the third game.

Check it out:

Adventure Island 2 is one of my favorite platformers of all time.

And while I know that the entire series is basically a carbon copy of the Wonder Boy games, and that the series has since deviated from it’s traditional gameplay in favor of a more Zelda-like style as of Adventure Island 4 on the Famicom, none of that will change the fact that Adventure Island 2 is a kick-ass game.

Master Higgins is still a fatty though.

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