Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

The Virtual Boy Sucked…

The Virtual Boy was a piece of shit.

I’ve known exactly 2 people that have owned one, and both were anything but proud of that fact.

Boasting a bulky, not-quite portable design, a crappy 3-D gimmick, and a truly hideous red-and-black only graphical display, the Virtual Boy represented one of, or possibly; the biggest failures in Nintendo’s long history.

Piss-poor sales figures were attributed to a fairly high price tag, miniscule (and crappy) game library with very few third-party products, and of course; poor quality of product.

It doesn’t take a genius to tell you that a not-quite portable videogame console that requires the player to strap it to their fucking head in order to play it, probably isn’t going to appeal to all that many people, especially to those that, y’know; have friends.

Pictured: No-Friends McGee enjoying a good skull-fucking via his Virtual Boy.

Despite all this, Nintendo went all-in with the Virtual Boy, going to great lengths to advertise the everloving shit out of it in classic mid-90’s, ” in your face” fashion:

To be fair that was pretty fuckin’ epic, however that doesn’t make the Virtual Boy itself any less crappy than it actually was.

Of the 14 North American games for the Virtual Boy, Teleroboxer and Wario Land stuck out from the crowd with their lush graphics, tight controls, and solid gameplay mechanics.

Curiously enough, that Real Steel movie has basically the same concept as Teleroboxer. Jus' Sayin is all...

Trust me, it’s never a good sign when your consoles best games consist of an inferior Super Punch-Out!! clone, and a port of year old Gameboy game.

Pretty much everything else was total crap though.

Especially Waterworld.

Waterworld was absolute shit.


In the interest of having at least one element of positivity in this post, I figure it would be good of me to point out a few aspects of the Virtual Boy that I actually liked.

The first thing that comes to mind, is the design of the Virtual Boy’s controller.

While it’s button configuration is a little awkward, with it’s dual d-pads and left-adjusted “start” and “select” buttons; I personally found the Virtual Boy controller to feel quite comfortable in my tiny Azn Badger hands.

Curiously enough, the Virtual Boy controller bears a vague resemblance to current gen controllers like the Xbox 360 one, largely due to the inclusion of “trigger” buttons located on virtually the same part of the controller.

Pictured: An Xbox 360 controller AKA The "American" controller.

The second aspect of the Virtual that seemed kind of cool to me… doesn’t exist, because the Virtual Boy was that damn shitty.

Anyway, I think that’s all I’ve got to say about the Virtual boy for tonight.

See yah’ tomorrow!

Filed under: Games, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Kinect Better Be Freakin’ Brilliant…

Today at the Amazon.com warehouse, we started shipping the Kinect peripheral for the Xbox 360.

By that I mean, the entire warehouse was thrown into chaos trying to handle the massive number of orders for the Kinect while simultaneously dealing with the daily volume of shit to ship out.

About 90% of the packages I handled today were Kinects, slim Xbox 360s, or Kinects packaged with slim Xbox 360s.

It was a fuckin’ circus if I ever saw one.

Apparently, I haven't seen one.

Things got so crazy in the morning that I was demoted from the cherished and admired position of “shipper” to that of the lowly (and mostly made up) job of “Xbox Thrower.”

While I may have made up the name myself; I assure you, it’s very much self-explanatory.

That being said, if you ordered an Xbox, Kinect, or Xbox with a Kinect; there’s a good chance it may arrive on your doorstep smashed, pissed on, or set on fire; ’cause I tell yah’, I was in one helluva’ hurry, and no force on Earth, managerial or otherwise was gonna’ stop me.

Whoops! Sorry about that!

Anyway, sometime during the “festivities” of “Kinect Day” at Amazon; it occurred to me that despite the hoopla and hype; I personally didn’t feel much excitement about the Kinect.

Sure, I’m a casual gamer at best; and I did just jump ship to the Playstation 3, but as someone fairly in-touch with the gaming world, I felt like I should be feeling at least something about the Kinect.

Truth be told, I really don’t know much about the Kinect.

I know it’s a hands-free motion-control device that can’t track motion from people wearing skirts.

I approve.

 

That’s about it though.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have exactly 1 friend that owns a Playstation Move.

Pictured: Said Korean. He made this, not me.

Before the release of the Move, I took the time to read an article or 2 here and there, and from what I read, it seemed like a decent idea.

“Decent,” but not great.

Having handled the Move awhile back, I can honestly say that the motion tracking is quite accurate, and left me feeling that the peripheral could indeed be used for some interesting gameplay mechanics.

That still doesn’t make it any more than a “decent” idea for the time being.

Though I really don’t know much about the Kinect, it sounds like more of a lifestyle accessory as opposed to a gaming peripheral.

What I mean to say is, based on the rebranding that Microsoft that been slapping on all of their products in anticipation of Kinect’s release, (18-24 year olds, and green and purple “swooshes,” anyone?) it genuinely seems that their aim is to get people goofing off in front of their TV as part of their daily life, as opposed to getting people to goof around in front of their TV for the purposes of playing videogames.

Now, you too can stand alone in your living room and wave at your TV to update your Facebook! Microsoft, bringing you only most crucial of lifestyle innovations!

It’s a sound idea, and indeed one that appeals to the same broad audience entranced by the mystifyingly simplistic motion-control scheme of the Wii; but personally I just don’t see it working.

Yet…

I can’t speak to the quality of the Kinect’s motion-controls, as my only exposure to it came in the form of watching a bunch of kids in a mall test it out; (the rafting game didn’t work so hot…) but the general feeling I get, is that the technology needs a little more time to grow.

Maybe I’m just being curmudgeony and cynical, but lifestyle altering, gesture-activated living room technology just doesn’t seem to me like something that Microsoft could get “right” on their first swing.

Hell, now that you mention it, this doesn’t sound like the kind of product Microsoft could manufacture without it having a failure rate of, oh; 99%.

Anyway, after chucking around the Kinect all day, I figured I’d post my thoughts, well; actually lack of thoughts, on the Kinect.

Seriously, this thing was so off my radar until today, you don’t even know…

For the record, while I have exactly 1 friend with a Move, I know exactly none that have shown interest in the Kinect.

Must be all the “swooshes”…

SWOOSHES!!!!!!!!

 

Filed under: Games, 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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“What Do You Know, Blu-Ray Really Is Better…”

When it comes to home video mediums, I’m not a fan of changing formats.

For the first half of my life, VHS was the end all be all home video format.

If you wanted to buy a movie, you did so in the form of purchasing a fuzzy, artifact ridden VHS cassette.

Well, that is unless you were one of those hipster-douchebags that had a Beta player, or worse yet; a fuckin’ Laserdisc…

Anyway, the point is; for most of my life, there was one way to watch a movie.

All of that changed around the time I was just getting into high school, with the advent of DVD.

While DVD had been already been around for some time, from my perspective, it really hadn’t “caught on” with the general public until the early 2000’s.

Kind of like how CD’s have been around forever, but it wasn’t until sometime in the early 90’s that it truly became mainstream.

Being as I was a very young badger of 13, with no income of my own; DVD failed to capture my interest in any way.

Everyone knew the image quality was superior.

Everyone knew the sound quality was clearer.

Everyone knew that DVD was, on paper; better than VHS.

Only thing was, no one I knew, myself included, ever actually watched a movie on DVD.

While many of my friend’s families would go on to hop on the bandwagon and purchase DVD players, my household would remain without digital video for little longer than most.

That all changed in 2001, when my mother surprised my brother and I with a Playstation 2 that Christmas, despite preemptively outright telling us that we weren’t going to get one.

Mothers:  You can grow up all you want, but they still fuckin’ own your ass…

I’ll never forget that Christmas, as it was a particular emotional time for our household, and I suppose the PS2 helped a little too.

Anyway, as you probably know, one of the pluses of owning a Playstation product, is the fact that it doubles as a media player.

The original Playstation served as my CD player, (not that I had any CD’s…) and the Playstation 2 would go on to serve as my first DVD player.

True, it was a shitty DVD player with some of the muddiest and darkest fuckin’ image quality imaginable, but it was a DVD player nonetheless.

Despite having never really given much thought to the idea of owning a DVD player, my Playstation 2 took my thoughts and considerations on the matter and basically shouted in my ear:

LET ME TELL YAH’ SOMETHIN’ BROTHER!  YOU’VE GOT A DVD PLAYER WHETHER YAH’ LIKE OR NOT NOW, BROTHER!  SO GET OUT THERE AND BUY SOME DVD’S DUDE!  SHOW ‘EM WHAT HULKAMANIA’S ALL ABOUT, BROTHER!”

Okay, so maybe my PS2 wasn’t possessed by the wayward spirit of the still-living Hulk Hogan, but you get my meaning.

With the tools to explore the medium now at my command, I set out into the world to grab a DVD, and finally see what the big fuckin’ deal was.

I’ll give you one guess as to what my very first DVD purchase was.

If you guess Rocky, Godzilla, or some form of kung fu movie, *BUZZ!* you’d be wrong!

The Azn Badger’s very first DVD, was in fact:

Transformers: The Movie.

Haha!  I know, awesome, right?

Watching Transformers The Movie on DVD for the first time was like seeing it for the first time.

For one thing, my original VHS copy of the movie was in fact just that, a ratty-ass copy recorded from an original rented from Blockbuster.

The difference in image and sound quality was like night and day.

Despite the perks of the enhanced audio and video, by far my favorite innovation that DVD brought to home video, was the chapter select function.

Being able to skip to your favorite parts, without fear of stretching and ruining the tape, was a godsend.

Seriously, do you know how many movies I have in my DVD library that are good for only 1 or 2 scenes?

Let me put it this way:

Without chapter select, I probably wouldn’t own half the movies I do.

Anyway, the point of this post, is to point out that, for maybe the 3rd time in a row, a Sony Playstation has served as my “ambassador” to a new medium of digital entertainment.

I’m of course referring to the new standard HD video disc medium: Blu-Ray.

As was the case with DVD, I wasn’t all that thrilled at the prospect of switching to Blu-Ray.

I loved my big-ass DVD collection, and the idea of turning my back on the medium I had grown so comfortable with, just felt wrong.

Then something inside me changed.

As I sat watching my very first Blu-Ray, Iron Man 2; on my Playstation 3, I came to realize that my reservations were unfounded.

Just as was the case with DVD, I was blown away by a format that, on paper; was regarded as “better.”

From a visual standpoint, Blu-Ray really was something to behold.

Like with VHS and DVD, it really was; night and day.

While Blu-Ray has yet to bring a major innovation like chapter select to the table, it still needs to be said; the visual one-up is downright spellbinding.

Now, don’t write me off as some videophile fanboy for Blu-Ray, as that’s hardly the truth.

As of now, I’ve only seen 1 Blu-Ray movie, and it was a brand new and intensely visual film, perfect to test the strengths of the medium with.

I’m sure Blu-Rays of older, less visual films are far less impressive.

At present, I’m thinking of maintaining my purchases of DVDs for films that aren’t deserving of the extra graphical fidelity I.E. dramas or comedies, while reserving Blu-Ray purchases for “louder” shit like Avatar or Iron Man.

While I’m not ready to go all-in on Blu-Ray as of yet, my reasoning behind this post, is that I want to point out that this is a road I’ve been down before.

I switched from cassettes to CDs.

I switched fromVHS to DVD, and willingly at that.

While I’m not sure I’ll be switching from DVD to Blu-Ray wholeheartedly any time soon, the point is; I’m no longer afraid to.

Change is not always a bad thing.

It may be uncomfortable, or worse yet; inconvenient, but the point is, we’ve all done it before and the world kept turning regardless.

Filed under: Comics, Games, Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Best MAN!!! #3

First thing’s first, it needs to be said that Mega Man 3 has one of the best soundtracks in all of gaming.

Well, it's an improvement from the first 2, but still, that is some shitty cover art.

Not only that, but it’s Title Theme is MY FAVORITE track of the NES era.

That’s right, not The Moon from Ducktales,

not the Super Mario Bros. theme,

but the Title Theme for Mega Man 3.

Give it a listen:

That business aside, Mega Man 3 was a truly awesome Mega Man game.

I mentioned yesterday that I’m still on the fence as to whether I like Mega Man 2 or 3 best, however I’ve found that as I’ve grown older I tend to favor 3 just a little bit more.

The game introduced several new features that would go on to become staples of the series.

Well, that is until Capcom decided to whore themselves to the “Xbox Generation” and release the DLC oddities that are Mega Man 9 and 10 anyway…

WTF!!!!????

Protoman and Rush the dog made their first appearances in Mega Man 3.

The pair didn’t really add much in terms of gameplay, other than serving as a lame miniboss

Protoman: He jumps, he shoots, he sucks the cock.

and replacement for the numbered gadgets of the previous game respectively,

Rush: Fucking worthless when not in Jet form.

however their addition to the series canon personalized, and added character to a roster of characters that was actually pretty slim for the time.

More importantly however, Mega Man 3 gave us the slide maneuver.

While the slide has since been removed in those goddamn fuckin’ DLC games, I always found it to be a wonderful addition Mega Man’s limited repertoire of moves.

It expanded the level design by allowing you to enter narrow passages.

It sped up the pace of the gameplay due to your ability to progress faster through the stages.

It allowed the bosses patterns to be more aggressive, as you now had the ability to dodge quickly.

In all, it was a great innovation that changed Mega Man forever… Or at least until the DLC games.

That’s enough Blue Bomber cock-sucking though, let’s get down to who’s The Best MAN!

That would have to be:

Snake Man

SNAAAAAAAKKKKKKE MAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNN!!!!

This one was almost a 3-way tie.

However, by MANdate of MAN-law, there can only be one Best MAN, and that just happens to be Snake Man

As a kid, Gemini Man was my favorite, hands down.

Remember that Bubble Man helmet I had my mom make for me way back when?

Well, I also wanted her to make me a Gemini Man one.

I never got that helmet, but even so, I still loved Gemini Man.

He had great background music,

a neat fighting style, and probably the pimpest weapon in Mega Man 3: The Gemini Laser.

Gemini Laser Skin Treatment = Icky...

Next to Gemini Man, Shadow Man was a close favorite as well.

I don’t really buy into the whole “he’s awesome ’cause he’s a ninja thing,” however I find that his character, trademark shuriken weapon, and crazy stage made him standout nonetheless.

Don’t laugh at ninjas and Jesus just “because.”

YOU’RE LETTING THEM WIN.

Finally, we come to Snake Man.

Amongst the 3, Snake Man stands out as perhaps the most iconic design.

He’s got the crazy snake helmet, with the distinctive ponytail-like portion of the snake sticking out behind him.

Well, as a kid I thought it looked like a ponytail...

He’s got a gimmicky weapon that travels across the floor and just happens to be vital to beating the game.

On top of that, his stage is wonderfully designed, with good, but not great, background music.

Also, the actual fight with Snake Man is pretty intense, largely due to the tiered nature of his arena.

Mega Man battling Snake Man with the Shadow Shuriken.

In my eyes, Snake Man is the tortoise to the hares that are Shadow Man and Gemini Man.

He may not be the flashiest, he’s certainly not a ninja, but for some utterly intangible reason, he’s The Best MAN in Mega Man 3.

By the way, the best stage music in Mega Man 3 is Spark Man’s stage:

Filed under: Games, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Enter: Big Mac

To all the ladies out there: This is Azn Badger's "1 AM Man-Face."  If you are seeing this it means come bearing back rub or get the fuck out.

To all the ladies out there: This is Azn Badger's "1 AM Man-Face". If you are seeing this it means come bearing back rub or get the fuck out.

Seeing as most of my intended post for the day got nuked by WordPress, I think it’s about time I posted something short and sweet.

It’s been a few days since I did my little piece on Double Dragon II: The Revenge, and I’ve come to realize that I failed to mention what I regard as perhaps the most memorable part of it.

Deep within the recesses of the Forest Level, there resides a beast.

A beast so dreadful, so vile, so unbelievably Insta-Tanned the fuck out, that even the fearsome Abobo, hair-ed or otherwise, dare not challenge him.

Enter, “Big Mac.”

HOLY FUCKING SHIT.

I honestly don’t know why my brother and I named him “Big Mac,” as he’s obviously modeled after Predator/Commando Arnold Schwarzenegger, but one thing’s for sure, he was one bad mutha’.

While not the most cerebral or creative of men, his sharp crew cut and herculean, jaundice infused strength were more than enough to get me shaking in my boots.

His repertoire consisted exclusively of Rick Flair-esque knife-edge chops to the torso:

THE CHOP.

And some sort of funky-ass shoulder tackle that looked more like he was tripping over a rock or something.

*BAM!* "Man, I'm hella' sorry dude! Somebody should really pick that up, someone could get hurt..."

Attempts at getting past this hulking wall of a man-savagery usually resulted in dropping all your lives and continues to “Big Mac’s” repeated shoulder tackles.  Either that or…

No, actually that’s really about all I ever managed.

“Big Mac’s” appearances in Double Dragon II were few, but memorable.

I think my favorite was his first, where he decided to bring his truck to work with him:

Behold: The Man-Mobile.

“Big Mac” will always live on in my memory as the definitive “Big Ugly Side-Scroller Boss.”

He was cheap.

He was scary.

And he always managed to make me squeal in mock terror:

“Oh no, it’s Big Mac!”

Filed under: Games, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Best Track in the Game #3: Return of Double Dragon

Return of Double Dragon is the Japanese version of Super Double Dragon for the SNES.

The Japanese version was actually released after the American one, and surprisingly includes a number of changes and differences, leading to my suspicion that the American release was rushed.

Return includes a few extra character animations and music tracks not featured in the American release. In the case of the music, several tracks are also assigned to different stages.

I had never played Return until I was in college, but thankfully I found that I wasn’t really missing much in terms of extra content.

Although it is fun being able to grab everyone by the hair.

... and then do this to them.

I grew up playing Super Double Dragon across the street at my neighbor’s house.

Early on I was one of those kids who used to invite himself over, that is until their parents told me to start calling ahead.

Consequently, I regard calling my neighbor’s to see if they could “come out and play” as the first phone call I ever made on my own.

Pictured: The Future.

I’d often spend my afternoons over there, playing Super Soccer (Argentina all the way!) and Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball, but mostly Super Double Dragon.

The game was crazy awesome, taking full advantage of the increased button count on the SNES controller.

I could jump with one button.

I could block (who the fuck does that?), with just one button.

Hell, I could do the fucking spin kick with just one fucking button!

I won’t get big headed and say I was “good” at Super Double Dragon, but I will say this: I felt like I was good at Super Double Dragon.

The game was undoubtedly an improvement on every game in the series that had come before it, (that’s right, FUCK Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones) with gameplay, sound and graphics that were top notch for the time, and yet something was missing from the experience…

Okay maybe not that, but still...

I never owned Super Double Dragon, or Return of Double Dragon until much later in life, although I did borrow it once.

My brother and I made it to the final boss, (a rare feat in gaming for me back then) and just as soon as the battle got really heated, just as soon as the guy started busting out all sorts of spinning wheel kicks an other such bullshit, the game froze.

Had to wait 12 fucking years just to see this screen...

To this day, it’s the only instance I can recall of such a thing happening on the SNES.

When I bought Return of Double Dragon, I’m pretty sure I bought it not out of being nostalgic for the days and weeks I spent over at my neighbor’s house playing it, but for the half hour or so I spent playing it with my brother.

That being said,

The Best Track in the Game is…

Golden Gate Bridge Stage

Why?:

Doesn’t this music just make you wanna’ go out and grab somebody by the hair and knee ’em in the face?

Okay, maybe that’s just me, but I always found this track to be a standout in the Return of Double Dragon soundtrack.

Just to clear things up a bit, though I refer to this as the Golden Gate Bridge theme, in Super Double Dragon, this track was actually used as the background music of the opening stage, Las Vegas.

In truth, I believe that this track is much better suited for the Las Vegas stage, as the pace more closely mirrors that of walking the streets, rather than careening down the Golden Gate Bridge atop a semi-truck.

Outside of the Title theme, (which also doubles as the Final Stage theme) this track was the first one I heard in the game.

The music is pulse-pounding and has a weightiness, a harshness to it that comes across as being very aggressive, perfectly appropriate given the main objective of the gameplay.

Though not head and shoulders above the competition in terms of overall quality, it’s this serious tone that makes the Golden Gate Bridge theme a standout amongst many of the more upbeat, and less memorable tracks in the Double Dragon series.

Runner-Ups:

Slum theme, China Town theme

You know those upbeat tracks I just mentioned?

Well, the Slum theme is one of them, however it is by no means forgettable.

In fact the Slum theme was used way back in the original Double Dragon as the Opening Stage theme, though unlike some NES era tunes, it seriously benefited from the increase in audio fidelity that the SNES brought to the table.

Double Dragon has an official theme music.

It’s a truly great theme that’s been used in pretty much every game in the series.

The fact that I hold this remix of the Slum theme in higher regard than the Return version of the Double Dragon theme is a testament to it’s longevity.

If the Slum theme is a prime example of a classic tune made even better, then the China Town theme should serve as a wonderful example of a completely original track taking charge and standing out amongst its more seasoned peers.

Similar in many ways to the Slum theme, in that it is strangely colorful and fast-paced despite the rather grungy subject matter of the game, the China Town theme pushes all the buttons that the former does, albeit in, arguably, more effective fashion.

The China Town theme has an element of carefree fun to it that makes it downright irresistible.

If was to name any one track in the Double Dragon series “The Best Head-Bobbing Track in the Game,” then it would probably have to be this one.

Yup, just another day riding in Azn Badger's car...

In case you’re wondering why you haven’t heard this track before, that would be because it is exclusive to Return of Double Dragon.

That’s right, bizarre as it may seem, one of the best pieces of music featured in the game wasn’t even featured in the American release.

Oh well, I got my copy, screw the rest ‘ah ya’ll.

Filed under: Games, The Best Track in the Game, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Two-Player Simultaneous Gameplay”

Chicks, whips and helicopters, oh my!

My first experience with the Double Dragon series came in the form of playing Double Dragon II: The Revenge with my older brother on the NES.

Our parent’s didn’t really have any objection to the idea of us playing video games, but after I was born, they insisted that a majority of the games they bought us have “two-player simultaneous gameplay.”

I remember my brother and I liked to say that ’cause it made us feel smart.

Anyways, outside of maybe Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game on the NES, Double Dragon II was the first beat-em-up I can recall playing.

I can attest that my experiences with both games are largely responsible for my lifelong passion for side-scrollers.

As a child I largely preferred playing Ninja Turtles over Double Dragon, not because I thought it was a better game, but because I didn’t suck at it.

… And because you got to be one of the Ninja Turtles in it.

C'mon now, are you telling me you'd pick the guy with the pompadour over a Ninja FUCKING Turtle?

You see, even though my brother kept most of the instruction booklets for our video games, I almost never took the time to read them.

As far I could tell though, my brother did, ’cause throughout all of my childhood he seemed to know every game we owned like the back of his hand.

Well, maybe not as well as Batman knows his, but still...

The differences in the complexity of the gameplay and controls between the two games was typically what made me lean towards Ninja Turtles over Double Dragon, that and the overall difficulty.

The depth of Ninja Turtles II’s gameplay consisted of standard attacks, jumping, jump kicking, and the so-key-to-the-game-you-would-be-crazy-to-play-the-game-without-it-SPECIAL ATTACK.

See diagram below:

Double Dragon on the other hand, utilized an intuitive (or counter-intuitive, depending on how you feel about it) control scheme that permanently mapped the two NES face buttons to specific directional attacks, B for left, A for right.

On top of that, both buttons had to be pressed SIMULTANEOUSLY (love that word) to perform a jump, during which one could perform a jump kick with the additional press of either face button, or a spin kick by pressing both buttons at the height of the jump.

You know that last thing, about the spin kick? Yeah, nobody told me about that.

Whenever I’d play Double Dragon with my brother, or any other game for that matter, I would find myself whining to him:

“How do I play!? What’s this button do!? How did you DOOOOOO thaaaaat…?”

Of course, being as he was the older brother, he wouldn’t tell me… or he’d smack me upside the head and not tell me.

On the off chance we were playing a head-to-head, two-player versus game though, he’d school me with whatever move I wanted to know how to do.

Pretty much every match between my brother and I.

Needless to say, in a two-player co-op game like Double Dragon, I was more of a liability than a help to my brother’s progress, especially if we were playing “Game B” AKA “Let’s-forget-about-saving-the-world-and-beat-the-shit-out-of-each-other, ON ACCIDENT” mode.

I could only occasionally pull off the spin kick through mindless button mashing, and almost never pulled off the SUPER UPPERCUT or instant kill SUPER KNEE, (press both face buttons while recovering from a jump landing) but even so, the game was good fun, provided I had my brother there to do the fighting for me.

I remember shrieking in terror whenever we ran across any of the Abobo’s with hair.

Doesn't take a genius to know which one's more powerful.

Yeah, getting cornered and thrown into a fucking hole by a big asshole named Abobo EVERY FUCKING DAY will do that to you.

EVERY. FUCKING. DAY.

I remember late in level 4 there was a sequence where you are trapped in a one way corridor with spikes on the ceiling.

Jumping is obviously a bad idea here, which is unfortunate, seeing as nearly every useful attack in the game can only be executed after standing up or landing a jump.

In most cases this resulted in massive amounts of fail, typically generated by the long-haired Abobo that decides to show up at the last minute.

That is, unless you were a smart person and stood in the one safe spot in the entire corridor and let your enemies walk face-first into your attacks.

Guess which one I was, I dare you.

All in all, my relationship with Double Dragon II as a child was kind of love-hate, very similar to my relationship to Star Fox.

I wasn’t very good at the game, and only rarely reached the later stages, but had fun with it and kept playing it anyway.

To be honest, I believe I beat Double Dragon II only once, with the help of my brother, of course.

The last stage consisted of standard NES cheapness, including instant death spike traps and “clones” of pretty much every boss you faced in the game up to this point

Even these twin ninja fucks.

At the end of the stage you face off with a pair of purplish-black “shadow clones” of the two player characters, Billy and Jimmy Lee.

They were a pain in the ass, but no more so than your average Abobo.  Although I don’t think they could measure up to an Abobo with hair…

Defeating the “shadow clones” normally results in a premature ending to the game, but because my brother always insisted we play on SUPREME WARRIOR mode, AKA hard mode, we were treated to a showdown with the real final boss.

And let me tell you, that last battle was fucking epic.

The whole thing begins in some sort of underground tunnel, where the only person standing before you is a woman that’s supposed to be Billy’s lady friend, Marian.

Kind of a big deal seeing as she was riddled with bullets at the beginning of the game.

Machine Gun Willy used M-16 on wild Marian! It's not very effective...

As soon as you step forward to embrace/punch Marian, the screen goes black, the girl disappears, and out of nowhere some crazy, cape wearing, green-haired fuck appears on a platform in the background!

Look at 'im... Standin' up there... bein' all cool n'shit... Ass.

The background fades up from black to reveal some sort of galactic/astral landscape where the Troll Doll dude apparently has god-like powers, ’cause believe me, he fights like a cheap bitch.

His move set basically consists punches, gravity defying mule kicks, spin punches, and back flips, lots and lots of back flips…

Oh yeah, and most of the time he’s invisible.

Just like this. Except without the red bullshit.

You’d think that as a kid I’d be pretty annoyed by this pig fucker and his broken ass fighting wouldn’t you?

Well, that would be the case, if I hadn’t drained all of my continues during the fight with the “shadow-clones.”

Behold: The extent of my Double Dragon skills circa 1990.

That’s right, the only time I got to see the last boss, and I didn’t even survive to fight him.

But that’s okay, I didn’t mind, so long as I got to stick around and watch.

Knowing me, I probably annoyed the shit out of my him by talking too much and generally being a pain-in-the-ass little brother, but regardless, I was happy just to be sitting in front of the TV with my brother.

Now that's just about the most adorable thing I've ever seen.

My brother fought long and hard, and by that I mean he stood in place and constantly performed the spin kick attack, causing the boss, invisible or not, to repeatedly walk into his attacks.

Okay maybe “epic” wasn’t the best word to describe the final battle, but as a kid, when your older brother is seconds away from beating the game, a game you’ve never seen the ending to; and the music suddenly changes to this*:

Yeah, you get pretty excited.

Ultimately it was these kind of moments that kept me coming back to Double Dragon, as well as most co-op in general.

Back then, video games were not something I devoted any time to outside of playing alongside my brother or my friends.

Somewhere down the road though, I think my attitude towards gaming changed from viewing it as a privilege, a precious experience granted to me by my friends and family, to that of disposable, time killing entertainment.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy video games, just on a more superficial level.

However, I used to look forward to playing games.

Nowadays I am only able to, and only do play games when I have some sort of gap to fill in my schedule.

I’m never expecting to, or even really want to be playing games, I just kind of fall back on it when I don’t have enough time to watch a movie, or it’s too cold to go for a walk.

Every now and again though, I’ll have a friend over and we’ll sit down in front of the TV for a quick game.

We don’t play all day like we used to, but it’s still every bit as fun as it was when I was a kid.

Games are fun, but they’re always even better with a friend.

Or a brother.

*Sidenote:  This music track is called “Roar of the Double Dragons” and it is used, with good reason, as the final battle theme in most Double Dragon games.

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The Best Track in the Game #2: Starfox

Yes, the "T" stands for "Trevor." NOBODY was gonna' steal my Star Fox!

Oh Star Fox, how I loved playing you at other peoples houses.

That’s right, many a sleepover resulted in me either: A) staying up all night playing Star Fox, or B) waking up crazy early and waking the whole house at 5 AM by firing up Star Fox.

It’s interesting to note however, that in the case of the latter, it was never the sounds of the game itself that would wake people up.

It couldn’t have been, I was always careful to keep the TV volume down low when I was up too early/late, scouts honor.

No, as it turns out, it was me that would always wake people up.

As a child I was what one would call a “hummer,” and wouldn’t you know it, Star Fox’s soundtrack was one of the most hummable I can recall.

Looking back, aside from being pissed at me for waking them up as I ducked, weaved, and hummed the shit out of whatever stage theme was playing, I’m sure at least one of my friends’ parents must’ve thought I was retarded or something.

Yeah, kinda' like this kid.

Despite the combined strength of the Nintendo hype-machine and the ignorance of my youth, I never bought into the idea of Star Fox being “revolutionary” on the Super NES.

I remember Nintendo hyping the shit out of the Super FX chip, which was the component that gave the Star Fox cartridge the ability to display 3D polygons to a limited degree.

Well guess what?  I was a fucking kid!  I didn’t give a shit about “3D”, I didn’t know what the fuck 3D was!  All I remember caring about was the fact that the manual said there was a DRAGON in the game somewhere called the “Monarch Fucking Dodra.”

MOTHER. FUCKING. DRAGON.

Fuck, I remember being more impressed by the construction of the clay puppets they used for the pictures in the manual than anything I ever saw in the game.

Not the best example, but it'll do.

Graphical jibber-jabber aside, Star Fox was a solid game.

It wasn’t perfect by any means, but humming along with the soundtrack while entertaining the prospect of letting Slippy get shot down always proved enough to keep me coming back for more.

"Dib, Dib! Dib, Dib!" Fuckin' worthless piece of shit...

I didn’t own the game until much later in life, and it took many years for me to actually sit down and beat it, but Star Fox was a game that I just plain loved to play…  at the expense of other peoples’ beauty rest.

Anyway, without further ado…

The Best Track in the Game is…

Intro Stage – Corneria

Why?:

Oh really now, how could I not pick Corneria as The Best Track in the Game?

It’s easily one the most energetic and bombastic compositions in the game, not to mention it flows with the action almost note for note.

Well, provided you aren’t slowing down the pace of the game by mashing the air brake like a noob.

Part of the enjoyment of listening to the Corneria theme for the first time, is the incredible build up leading up to it.

When you first boot up the game, you are treated to an impressive homage to the opening sequence of Star Wars: A New Hope, although with much more ominous background music.

This tune is repeated in many of the various “tunnel” sequences in the game, to much greater effect, most notably preceding the final boss.

After the intro we are taken to the Title Screen.

The tune is bold and dignified, which as a kid was all I needed to get me stoked about saving the universe from a space monkey in a Rubik’s cube.

He killed your father...

From there the game takes you to the Setup Screen and Training Stage, both of which greatly contrast the Title Screen tune in the sense that they are comprised of calm and inviting melodies, the sort of stuff that makes you smile and rock back and forth while humming along… or something like that.

And then they hit you with this:

WOAH!  Shit just got real!

For a game about anthropomorphic space fighter pilots blowing up geometric shapes, Star Fox had some seriously moody and atmospheric moments to it.

Outside of the overall kick-ass, Top Gun-with-a-fox tune of the Corneria stage, I think the Emergency Call sequence preceding it was the biggest factor in making me select it as The Best Track in the Game.

Runner-Ups:

Boss Theme (Corneria Version), Venom-Planetary Base Theme (Route 2 Version)

The Corneria Boss Theme will always stick with me because of one hilariously bad judgment call.

The first time I ever got to see Star Fox in action was when my brother rented it for the weekend.

He fired it up and I quietly sat beside him, taking in the spectacle.

I remember we both laughed at the voices for the characters, imitating them whenever they’re speech windows would open up onscreen.

To us, Falco was always yelling:  “Farther wing damage!”

Anyway, as soon as the ominous build up tones of the Corneria Boss Theme kicked in, and the radio clicked on saying, “Incoming enemy,” our laughter and excitement ceased, instantly replaced with the cold tinges of fear.

“BUM, BUM, BUM!  BUM, BUM!  BUM, BUM, BUM!  BUM, BUM!”

My brother turned to me, and for probably the first time I can recall, asked me:

“What should I do Trevor?”

I was stunned.  My older brother was asking me for help?

“Uh… Go… Go, up!”

With that, my brother pulled up in his Arwing, and was immediately killed by the massive Attack Carrier that flew in from overhead.

My brother’s first life in Star Fox was cut short just before even getting to see the first boss.

Yeah, I caught a beating over that one.

The Corneria Boss Theme is not nearly The Best Track in the Game, in fact its repetitive and dull when heard independent of gameplay, but for me, those ominous opening notes are simply unforgettable.

The Venom Base Theme however, is not one that holds any sort of special place in my heart, rather, it is simply a damn fine piece of music.

The Venom Base Theme is one of the fastest-paced tracks in the game, however it belongs to a stage I rarely ever played in my youth.

Remember when I said I wasn’t very good at Star Fox?  Well, Venom Base is essentially the last level of the game, accessible only when playing from one of the harder routes.

Yeah, fuck that noise.

As it turns out, I didn’t really “discover” the Venom Base Theme until much later in life, largely because of my lack of mad Star Fox skills.

It’s an energetic, kick-ass piece of music, but definitely a little too obscure (from my standpoint) to call it The Best Track in the Game.

That being said, I will conclude this post with an image that haunted my dreams as a child, and always gave me incentive to turn off the console before getting a “Game Over.”

Did they really have to make Morgan Freeman look so damn scary!?

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Reminiscing About Gaming/A Taste of Things to Come

I am a product of the Sega/Nintendo Console War, more specifically the Nintendo side of the equation. Though I had fun tooling around on the NES, my fondest memories of gaming lay soundly within my after school sessions on the Super NES. Freaking out at the sight of Jason Voorhees slashing through a hedge maze in Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Punching my friend in the shoulder after he screen scroll killed me Battletoads In Battlemaniacs. Getting a sweet revenge kill in Super Bomberman 3 during a heated 4 player match.

Yeah, good times…

I had exactly one friend that owned a Genesis. We had fun taking turns at Vectorman and Sonic Spinball, and we probably beat Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie at least 50 times, but every now and again, I’d catch myself jabbing my buddy over owning an “inferior” console. “Inferior” in terms of consoles back then of course meant the console had fewer buttons and, well, unless you were an only child or came from a divorced household, was the console you didn’t own.

Yeah, there were a lot of spoiled kids at my elementary school.

My brother asked for a Super NES for Christmas in ’91, which he got on the grounds that it was to be considered shared property between he and myself. The fact that my brother CHOSE the Super NES over the Genesis was enough to convince me that I owned the superior product.  Hey, he was my older brother, his opinion meant the world to me.

As an older, wiser Azn Badger, I now know of course that both consoles had their merits. The Super NES may have been technically superior to the Genesis on many fronts (*Ahem!* except maybe BLAST PROCESSING), but both systems had amazing libraries of cross platform and exclusive games. Despite this, even as a child the one major difference I noticed between the two consoles, (besides the Super NES being BETTER!) was in regards to the music.

Genesis music was often composed well, as was the case with Rocket Knight Adventures and any of the Treasure games, but more often than not, the tones would end up sounding up like some sort of synth-electric guitar hybrid that dealt exclusively in fart noises and sounds like:

*Buzz* *Buzz* BUUWAAAAAOOOHHH!!!! *Dink* *Dink *Dink*.

Case in point, from X-Men:

Oh yeah, the Danger Room music was pretty ass too.

Anyway, being as this is my first time blogging, I’ve been trying to think of a way to organize my thoughts and maintain my motivation to write, and in typing this post, I think I got it sorted out. I’m going to post an article at least once a week entitled “The Best Track in the Game”, wherein I will select a game that I own, and determine which music track is somewhere between the most enjoyable and most nostalgic one in said game. I’m thinking about doing Super NES stuff for awhile, but later on I’ll do “special editions” where I switch consoles every now and again. In the meantime, I’ll probably type some more formal articles as they come to me.

Thanks for reading. Happy Thursday!

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