Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

“You Betrayed Shiva!”

I don’t know why, but for some reason I’ve been in a very Spielberg/Lucas-y mood for the past week or so.

For those that don’t get the quote/reference featured on the card, I direct you to this amusing waste of time.

I’m pretty sure it all started last weekend when my buddy Mencius was kind enough to show me the Red Letter Media critique/analysis of Star Wars Episode III.

For those that haven’t seen the video, it’s serves as both an insightful and hilarious look at Episode III, as well as the nature of the entire Star Wars film franchise.

Truth be told, the way the whole thing was structured, it actually kind of reminded me of the writing style I use for posts on this blog.

Y’know, tidbits of information/humor, separated by irreverent and/or stupid images and captions.

Kind of like this.

Anyway, that’s my explanation for all the Harrison Ford/Indiana Jones references as of late.

Seeing as Lucas-ian products serve as a near bottomless treasure trove for retarded (and amusing) quotes and references, I wouldn’t be surprised if this keeps up for some time.

Hey, it’s not my fault I’ve got nothing to write about, not a whole is happening in my particular corner of the woods of dorkiness.

And no, I don’t give a shit that Johnny Storm/The Human Torch of The Fantastic Four died last week.

Johnny Storm, showing us just why he had to die.

I’ve never been a fan of The Fantastic Four, and while I find it interesting that the one member of the team that I had any appreciation for is the one Marvel decided to kill off; I don’t see myself ever owning or reading a Fantastic Four book in a good long while.

Anyway, here’s hoping I find something to write about soon, otherwise I’m just gonna’ keep making Magic cards until I’ve got a whole fuckin’ deck of ’em…

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Demon’s Souls Just Raped My Face. And Ate My Children…

*WARNING!  SPOILER ALERT!  IF YOU’RE LIKE ME AND DON’T WANT ANY HELP OR SPOILERS ON YOUR FIRST RUN THROUGH DEMON’S SOULS, PLEASE STOP READING NOW! *

A few weeks ago I typed up a post declaring the nigh impenetrably difficult Demon’s Souls to be far less difficult than I previously assumed.

While this fact still rings true, something happened today that has taken my feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction and shat all over them.

Not only that, the game proceeded to set them on fire, and eat their children in front of them, seemingly just for kicks.

Oh yeah, and then the game tore out my eyes and raped my face, once again; seemingly just for the hell of it.

I’m not gonna’ lie, the past 2 days have been a rollercoaster ride for me in Demon’s Souls.

I cleared 2 and a half worlds, dusted God knows how many bosses, and even managed to save a few NPCs.

That last part is where the aforementioned face rape-age comes in.

You see, somewhere in the Tower of Latria stage, (one of the better and more atmospheric levels if you ask me) I happened upon a caged NPC named Yurt, The Silent Chief.

Sure, he looks like a wholesome and friendly guy...

Now, as I approached Yurt, preparing to engage him in conversation; I happened to notice that some of the player created messages scrawled on the ground near him were saying some awfully nasty things about him.

“Liar.”

“Don’t bother about nothing.”

These were the cryptic and/or cautionary messages strewn about in the immediate area.

Despite this, in games with morality systems, my general aim is to be a “white knight” of sorts on my first time through, so in keeping with that trend, I decided to free Yurt.

I figured:

“He hasn’t done anything wrong as far as I can tell.  He’s cool in my book for now.”

Sadly, my naivete was not to be rewarded.

From his gravelly, foreboding voice; and his decidedly menacing armor, I figured he was at least somewhat evil, however I figured I’d get a chance to rectify whatever mistakes I made by freeing him if he were to suddenly turn outright heel on me.

After I freed Yurt, I happened upon him on the second floor of the Nexus.

He was tucked away in a corner, very much out of sight; such that I was lucky to have even spotted him.

When I spoke with him, excited to see if he’d offer me a sub-quest, or reward me with some sort of item, I was surprised to find that he had nothing helpful to offer me whatsoever.

He sold no items, he offered no services, all he said was something along the lines of:

“Life is not as precious as most may think.”

Following that episode, I would go on to visit with Yurt with every successive return to the Nexus, hopeful that he would eventually say something or do something useful.

It never happened.

At some point, my dungeon crawling in Demon’s Souls fell into a unbelievably progressive rhythm.

For several hours, my character; Ultimate Warrior, was an unstoppable juggernaut of untold epic-ry.

If only I could get him to look like this in-game...

Bosses fell by the wayside, and at least one entire realm collapsed at the might of the Ultimate Warrior, effectively making me like I had finally made the gaming beast that is Demon’s Souls, my servile bitch.

After venturing into the untread depths of the heart of the lion’s den, I reached a point where my inventory was utterly full, even with the use of strength augmenting rings; and I was forced to return to the Nexus to offload my loot.

Only a game as cruel as Demon’s Souls could come at me at my highest of highs, and tear me down to the lowest of lows in the blink of an eye.

One blink, and my eyes were out of their sockets, while Demon’s Soul’s virtual cock jackhammer-ed my frontal lobe with fervor unimaginable.

You see, Yurt The Silent Chief is an assassin.

Not only that, he is an assassin assigned to kill the survivors of Boletaria, I.E. the central cast of the game made up of static NPCs, and NPCs you’ve rescued (like Yurt himself) throughout the course of the game.

Being as I never saw him kill anyone, I have to assume that he goes about his business off-screen, that is; while you are away having the time of your life, as I was.

When I returned from my epic journey, I returned to a Nexus devoid of life.

Every single character I had saved, began learning skills from, and in a loose sense, gotten to “know,” was missing from their previously constant positions.

I searched the upper floors.

I searched all of the dead end nooks and crannies.

Nothing.

All that remained, were a few floating orbs containing what I presume were said character’s belongings.

As I charged up the stairs, already coming to realize that Yurt had to have been responsible, I took note of the background music.

It was different.

After 20 or so hours of play, one notices when the previously monotonous music changes to something totally different.

The tone was gloomy and somber, such that I could tell that I had fucked up just by the sound of it.

When I approached Yurt, I was not surprised to hear him take full responsibility for the deaths of everyone in the Nexus.

As one would expect, the last task on his agenda just happened to involve killing me, which of course led to a brief melee between myself and Yurt.

Despite the horrors of his previous actions, Yurt proved to be a less than capable opponent.

Unable to deal any sort of serious damage to my Ultimate Warrior, I crushed Yurt, took his armor, and immediately put it into storage, finding it to be utterly worthless despite it’s striking appearance.

In the blink of an eye, Yurt The Silent Chief took my “white knight” sensibilities and swathed them in darkness.

To my knowledge, everyone who died, that is; every character in the game, will never come back.

I’ll never learn any more spells.

I’ll never learn any more miracles.

I’ll never get to hear anymore retarded stories and anecdotes that I genuinely never cared to hear in the first place.

In the blink of an eye, the living symbols of my success in Demon’s Souls were taken away from me, leaving my home base a dull and lifeless husk of pitiable solemn, complete with sad-sack music to drive the point home.

I’ll continue to push forward and beat Demon’s Souls, as to my knowledge I’m very near to the end, however I find that in getting there I simply don’t care as much as I used to.

Maybe it’s just me, but beating the game, and winning the day is a helluva’ lot more rewarding when you feel like you did a good job.

As it stands, after losing every NPC in the game to a mistake I didn’t even have a chance to realize I made; beating Demon’s Souls is going to be the equivalent to finishing a race, dead last; and crawling on all fours.

Sure, you finished; but do you feel good about it?

No, you feel humiliated; and realize you need to try harder next time, if there is a next time.

I can’t wait to be done with Demon’s Souls so I can finally move on and play something else…

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Demon’s Souls Is… Not So Hard Anymore

Hah! Not so bad anymore, are yah'!?

About a week ago I posted a bitchy/whiny article about how Demon’s Souls knocked me down and took my lunch money.

I was about 2 hours into the game at the time of writing said article, and I just wasn’t “getting” how the game worked.

I was frustrated by the game’s punishingly restrictive rules, and humbled by it’s timing heavy combat system.

I’m now 8 hours into Demon’s Souls, and I feel like I’ve got it by the nuts.

'DESE NUTS!

At around hour 3 I had memorized the layout of the 1-1 section of the Boletarian Palace level, making harvesting souls (money) quite a bit easier than before.

Around this time I also began finding uses for my souls in the form of upgrading my Knight’s  long sword among other things.

Did I mention I named my character after the Ultimate Warrior?

Now if only I could make him look like this...

Now that's just a terrible photo... Sorry about that.

After toughing it out for some time, advancing by inches every time, I met and defeated my first boss demon, Phalanx.

It was a tedious battle to be sure, but unlike some of the stiffer challenges I’d faced up to that point, (I’m lookin’ at you Red Dragon of one-hit kill-ery…) I managed to best the blob monster on my first try.

I should probably note, that I really admire the artistic design of the Phalanx demon.

Consisting of a hoard of shield-faced blobs armed with spears, all protecting a central core, I found it to be an inspired take on the Sumerian/Grecian military formation.

Behold, the only culturally significant photo on the Azn Badger's blog!

In doing so, I was awarded with what I had spent the entire game to that point wishing for:

A waypoint.

4 hours into the game, and I encountered my very first checkpoint.

Eerily enough, as if crossing that first major threshold served to change the entire dynamic of the game from then on out; playing Demon’s Souls has become a markedly less devious affair.

While the early goings were teeth-grittingly difficult and frustrating, ever since I took out that first boss demon; my progression through the game has eased into a much more natural, and far less tedious pace.

Maybe I’ve just become accustomed to the cautious play style required to navigate the game, or maybe my character has just gotten strong enough that he’s able to power through what used to be one-hit kills; but either way, I’m enjoying the experience a whole helluva’ lot more than before.

I’ve killed no less than 4 more bosses in the past 4 hours of gameplay, 2 of which I didn’t even really have to fight.

What I mean to say is, there were 2 bosses that I took out through exploitative means.

No, that would be "blaxpoitative," but it shows you're thinking...

As mentioned earlier in this post, as well as probably every first time Demon’s Souls player’s writings, there is a Red Dragon in the first stage that pwns you like a bitch if you so much as look at him funny.

Good riddance you flying, red piece of fuck....

Truth be told, he’s not so much a boss as he is a predictable, but still dangerous environmental hazard, but seeing as he killed me a few times and has a meaty health bar, I count him as at least a mid-boss.

Anyway, as an environmental hazard, the Red Dragon is stuck on a very simple looping movement pattern, making him unable to reach you in certain areas, as well as unable to defend himself from attacks launched from certain areas.

That being said, I took note of this, bought 80 arrows, and sat down for 15 minutes slowly chipping away at his health with a wimpy bow and arrow while standing completely out of harms way.

It was silly, it was spiteful, but good God was it satisfying to get that fucking dragon off my back for the remainder of my gameplay experience.

Exploitative Boss Kill #2 came in form of slaughtering the Vanguard boss of the Shrine of Storms using a similar tactic.

My money's on the big guy. Jus' sayin' is all...

This one was not as satisfying as in the case of the Red Dragon.

The Vanguard was a demon that I had spent much of my time in Demon’s Souls expecting to have an epic showdown with at some point in the game.

You see, The Vanguard was the demon featured in the opening tutorial segment of the game.

While I don’t actually know if it’s possible to defeat The Vanguard during the opening sequence, in my case he killed me in 1 hit, thusly handing me my first humiliation of many to come while playing Demon’s Souls.

Sadly, my revenge would be bitter sweet; as instead of facing him head on, I found a way to get behind him and, much like the Red Dragon; peppered him in the back with arrows without him so much as trying to hit me.

Oh well, at least he coughed up a shit ton of souls.

"Vanguard! Your brother's soul, is MINE!"

As of writing this, I feel that I’ve grown to like Demon’s Souls very much.

It’s a tough game, for sure; but it’s one that can be very rewarding if you’re willing to play by it’s terms.

Not long ago I ran into a Mind Flayer-like creature in the Tower of Latria (a place I got lost in and quickly retreated from in favor of the Shrine of Storms).

Huh, wouldn't you know it they actually call it a "Mind Flayer." How very proper of them.

Said creature could be killed quite easily, however I found that it could do the same to me with even greater ease.

Though I was killed in my encounter, on my second; I changed up my tactics and stayed out of sight until it drew very close.

In a very Solid Snake-esque maneuver, I dashed out from the shadows and caught the monster off guard, thusly killing it before it could even lift a finger/face tendril to attack.

It was a very satisfying moment, that would not have been nearly so rewarding if not for the fact that the game forced me to rethink my strategy.

Now that I think about it, I like that; that the game is always difficult, no matter how buff your character gets.

Not only does it keep you humble, it serves to make the gameplay more involving in the sense that you’ve always got to be on top of your shit, regardless of how puny your opponents may be.

Much like another game I happen to like a lot, Devil May Cry 3.

While I may be a much better player than I was at the start, make no mistake; I still die in Demon’s Souls quite frequently.

Except for a few instances of ridiculous fall related deaths in the mine stage, I can concede that most of my deaths in Demon’s Souls are my fault.

I still get frustrated, yes; but I haven’t really felt the causes to be unfair or cheap.

Every now and again I get a little bit too adventurous, or a little bit too overconfident; and that’s generally when I find myself dead.

Thankfully, the penalty is just losing your money… All of it.

I’ll probably never get used to that, but I’ve never been too upset by it.

After all, it’s just money.

Thankfully, I’m not having to say that in regards to my purchase of Demon’s Souls.

Yet.

 

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Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks, #15-11

After 2 days and 10 tracks of preliminaries, today we finally get to the real meat of the Top 25 NES Tracks!

That’s right folks, today we’ve reached: THE MIDDLE-TIER.

 

Pictured: The Middle-Tier.

 

That being said, what say we get to the crazy-awesome music, eh?:

#15. Shadowgate

“Main Theme of Shadowgate”


Shadowgate represents one of the very few point-and-click adventures that I ever really got into.

You remember that one scene in the movie Big where the young Tom Hanks character gets pwned by the wizard for attempting a seemingly logical course of action?

Hey, I would've said "melt wizard" too if I were playing...

Well, for the most part; that scene was indicative of my experience with adventure games as a child.

In fact, pretty much every graphic adventure game made prior to the revolutionary LucasArts SCUMM interface was simply too cryptic for me to grasp.

Shadowgate, while indeed released sometime after Maniac Mansion and it’s SCUMM system, was a graphic and text based adventure game that really drew me in, clunky interface and all.

I find it's always a good idea to "Hit" EVERYTHING. Y'know, just in case...

While most of my memories of the game were of dieing seemingly unfair, and unwarranted; deaths, I honestly never felt any frustration over this.

Shadowgate was a game that set out to be creepy and moody, and in the eyes of my very young self; it accomplished this in spades.

Playing a huge part in this accomplishment, was of course the haunting soundtrack of the game.

While there actually weren’t that many tracks to be heard throughout the course of the game, the overarching “Main Theme” of Shadowgate was a track that you never got tired of.

Equal parts foreboding, energetic, and mystifying; the “Main Theme” of Shadowgate is a wonderful piece of gaming music that, once heard, will never be forgotten.

Especially when you’ve died to it 40 billion times…

40. BILLION. TIMES.

#14. Super Dodge Ball

“Doppleganger Match”


Super Dodge Ball is yet another SUPREMELY BADASS effort from the folks over at Technos.

Like many games on this list, Super Dodge ball was a game that my brother used to rent quite frequently.

I remember getting my ass pwned by him in Bean Ball games over and over and over again, largely because, like any good older brother; he never taught me how to do the Super Shots.

Kind of hard to tell from the pic, but those 2 guys in the air? Yeah, they just got knocked across the ENTIRE FUCKING PLANET with a dodge ball.

Anyway, Super Dodge Ball was a crazy-fun game, that while a little bit too easy for it’s own good, played host to one of the coolest final battles in NES history.

Essentially, the final match of the game has your team USA pitted against the COMMUNIST and therefore, EVIL dodge ball team from the USSR.

After a (presumably) epic match, the sky suddenly turns a devilish shade of purple while the court is occupied by dopplegangers of your team!

EPIC.

Despite the game being based around fucking dodge ball, for whatever reason I thought this final battle was just about the coolest thing ever when I first saw my brother get to it.

Maybe it’s just ’cause I was there to see and listen to it with my brother, but this match, and this piece of music will always stick with me as one of my favorite NES boss themes.

#13. Bionic Commando

“Area 1 Theme”


Bionic Commando was a great ass game that I wish I had gotten a chance to have played more of as a kid.

I loved the main character’s design, and his bionic arm, so much so that I used to draw him on my place mat in elementary school.

No, you don’t get a pic for that one…

The problem was, I only ever got to play the game when I was at my neighbors house across the street, however most of the time I’d get kicked off the NES so they could play Sid Meier’s Pirates.

Arr!!! Shiver me timbers! Yo, ho! A Pirate's life for... I fuckin' hate pirates...

That being said, I never really got much of a chance to get very far in Bionic Commando.

Thankfully, all I had to do was play the first stage to hear the best piece of music in the whole game.

“Area 1” is a very primitive sounding, (even by 8-bit standards) but extremely well composed piece of music.

With a military-ish cadence, and a heroic melody, “Area 1” is a terrific track that is well-deserving of the #13 spot on this list, as well as the honor of being considered the theme music for the entire Bionic Commando franchise.

#12. Adventure Island 2

“Boss Theme”


C’mon now, don’t tell me you thought I’d leave out Master Higgins?

Adventure Island was one of my favorite game series as a kid, and in my opinion, 2 was easily the best in the series.

As previously mentioned, the “Boss Theme” of Adventure Island 2 is fuckin’ badass, so much so that it got my nod as being one of the Best Boss Musics in gaming.

That being said, among purely 8-bit competition, the “Boss Theme” of Adventure Island 2 is definitely deserving of a place on the list of the Top 25 Best NES Tracks.

I love the build up of this track, how it starts out slow, then explodes into a frenetic cacophony of kooky, island-y badassery.

It’s the perfect piece of music for killing giant plants and or crabs to.

Or better yet, CONQUER THE WORLD TO!

#11. The Legend of Zelda

“Overworld Theme”


*Ahem!* Fanboys… You may suck it.

That’s right kids, the “Overworld Theme” from The Legend of Zelda didn’t crack the Top 10!

While it may seem blasphemous to some, bear in mind; this is my list, and as such, it caters to my particular tastes.

Pictured: My Particular Tastes.

That being said, I didn’t place Zelda and Final Fantasy where I did for the sake of being cruel, or worse yet; “counter-culture,” I simply did so because there’s a shit ton of other music tracks out there that I genuinely hold in higher esteem.

Now that I got that out of the way, let me say this:

The “Overworld Theme” is a beautiful piece of music.

Despite it’s 8-bit nature, the “Zelda Theme” has gone on to grow well beyond the realm game music and become widely regarded as a classic tune worthy of universal praise.

While all that may be true, it doesn’t change the fact that virtually every memory I have of The Legend of Zelda is a bad one.

Getting lost, killed, and just plain frustrated was the order of the day just about every time I played Zelda, and I’m sorry to say, it’s left me negatively biased in regards to it.

The “Zelda Theme” is a great piece of music, that I listen to on my Ipod every now and again, and enjoy a great deal.

Unfortunately, it’s also an older arrangement of the 8-bit days, and as such, it leaves a little to be desired in terms of the fidelity of the music.

While skillfully composed, the “Zelda Theme” still hasn’t really lived up to it’s potential in my eyes, and has yet to have a proper rendition to capture the full glory of the music.

And that, my friends, is why the “Overworld Theme” gets dumped in the #11 spot on this list.

Oh yeah, that and there’s exactly 10 other pieces of music I think are better.

Duh.

Well folks, today we cleared the middle-tier of the list!

Tomorrow we’ll be cracking the Top 10, and with 2 classic tunes of gaming history already ranked unusually low,  there’s no telling what’s coming up next!

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Bayonetta: First Impressions

BUTT.

In light of yesterday’s Devil May Cry post, I figure it’s appropriate that I take the time to share some of my thoughts on the similar, but also very different game:

Bayonetta on the Xbox 360.

Please bear in mind that, as of this post, I’ve only got about 2 and a half hours of gameplay under my belt.

Developed by Sega, and directed by the prolific and uber-talented Hideki Kamiya of the now defunct Clover Studio, as well as the original Devil May Cry fame, Bayonetta is, in a word:

JAPANESE.

Every pixel, frame, word and beat of Bayonetta is absolutely gushing with Japanese zaniness and anime-esque melodrama, such that my first few minutes with the game were almost too much to bear.

The aesthetic is way over-the-top, and the story and characters decidedly tongue-in-cheek, and for the most part, not all that appealing to me from a personal standpoint.

Nope, still not appealing. Goddamn she got a tiny head...

Despite this, I will say this:

The artistic design of the game, while not necessarily up my alley; is actually quite impressive.

The costuming and ornamentation of the character designs, while perhaps a little bit too flashy and intricate for it’s own good, are quite unique and certainly praise worthy.

Huh, this I like. Go figure...

In fact, I could honestly see myself owning a coffee table book of the production materials for Bayonetta at some point.

Anyway, the flashy cut scenes of Bayonetta, (choreographed by the always excellent Yuji Shimomura of Versus and Death Trance fame) annoy me much in the same way that Devil May Cry’s do.

They’re overlong, they often show the characters behaving contrary to how they do in-game, (Anybody at all tired of seeing Dante be invincible in cut scenes, only to be a total pussy in-game? Anybody?) and they feel artificial, like flash for the sake of flash.

Kind of like any movie by:

Pictured: "Flash" incarnate.

I guess the cut scenes just frustrate me because they are actually quite intrusive to the gameplay experience.

Like Devil May Cry, Bayonetta is a game all about action, and when the action is frequently interrupted by cut scenes, showing my character busting out awesome moves that I’d like to see myself do in-game, I get just a little bit frustrated.

Bottom line, 2 hours into Bayonetta, I can’t help but feel that the pacing is not quite up to snuff, as the gameplay seems to come in all too infrequent spurts.

Which brings me to my 2nd, and ultimately far more critical gripe:

Bayonetta’s learning curve is just plain mean.

We're talkin' Kobe Mean Face-Mean!

While the game, like any current gen game, comes with the obligatory introductory tutorial sequence that seems to be essential to the illiterate, non-instruction manual reading gamers of today, outside of teaching you the basic button inputs of the game, Bayonetta doesn’t really teach you how to play the game.

Sure, you can put up a good fight, and sure you know what you’re doing for the most part, but at the end of the day, if you’re playing the game straight through as I am, you’re just not given enough time to get a grip on the gameplay before the game starts tossing you some serious shit to deal with.

"Oh don't mind me, I'm just the first boss. Excuse me while I TOTALLY WRECK YOUR SHIT while eating bagels and lox."

This is coming from someone that utterly beasted half of the Devil May Cry series.

My problem is this:

Bayonetta didn’t give me enough time to warm-up to it.

In the Devil May Cry series, the basic enemies are reactive to your blows, staggering and generally being reduced to punching bags the moment you first lay into them.

This is not the case in Bayonetta.

There is no fodder in Bayonetta.

Nope, none of these.

All of the enemies in Bayonetta are able to put up a decent fight, thusly leaving you with nobody hone your skills on.

Every fight is a desperate struggle.

From what I can tell, my complaint may in fact be a result of me having failed to grasp the concept of the dodge system and the Witch Time AKA Bullet Time mechanic.

I don't care what you tell me man. There IS a spoon, and I'm eating my fuckin' Cheerios with it as we speak. Fuckin' new-age bullshit...

Anyway, at this point, I’m tempted to say I like Devil May Cry 4 better, but I’m only a few hours in, so we’ll see.

I’m still having fun with Bayonetta.

I love the gorgeous presentation and liberal use of the context sensitive button mashing segments.

I’m diggin’ the core gameplay, but at this point I truly do suck at it.

Time will tell…

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