Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Demon’s Souls Is Hard…

 

ARRRRRRRRGH!!!!!!!

So, I bought Demon’s Souls from a friend the other day.

He told me he played it for 5 hours and then called it quits.

This is coming from a Korean fellow that specializes in, as he phrases it; “beasting” games faster than they can come out.

As fate would have it, there would be no “beasting” of Demon’s Souls for my Korean buddy.

In fact one could go so far as to say that the game “beasted” him.

Despite this, like a fool I thought I could do what my friend could not.

Before I bought the game, I read scores of reviews singing the praise of Demon’s Souls, and heralding it’s difficulty level as the Battletoads equivalent to the modern era of gaming.

While it does indeed seem like it could be a great game, make no mistake; Demon’s Souls is a punishingly difficult game, to the extent that it feels borderline unfair.

As of writing this, I’m barely 2 hours into the game, and I’ve done exactly nothing.

My first created character was a Barbarian.

I set out into the game with the mindset of creating a Conan-esque tank, however to my surprise; the Barbarian was just about the worst choice to do so, at least in the beginning stages of the game.

Turns out, despite their inherent physicality, Barbarians start out the game with no armor, and some of the worst equipment imaginable.

Not good when the game derives most of your survivability from your equipment and armor rather than your stats.

Despite spending about an hour getting a good feel for the timing and nuance of the game’s control scheme, (while dieing about 9,000 times…) I found that; for a beginner level player, a Barbarian was simply too fragile for my skill level.

Enter my second character within an hour of starting the game, a much sturdier and well-equipped Knight.

Well, after dieing every 5 minutes as my Knight, I think I can honestly say that he’s probably going to be my primary character from now on.

Every time I play Demon’s Souls, I feel like I’m moving a half-step forward, only to get thrown 20 feet back every 5 minutes.

When I said the game felt borderline unfair, I was referring largely to the checkpoint and currency systems.

The checkpoint system is a pain in the ass because, well; near as I can tell there are none.

This wouldn’t be a problem except, unlike friendlier games like Diablo; Demon’s Souls has no “scroll of Town Portals.”

Not only that, Demon’s Souls thoroughly rapes you by forcing you to reclaim your “souls” (money) while wading through every enemy in the level up to that point.

Enemy placement is always the same, and any entry or exit of a level causes them all to respawn.

My main issue with the currency system, is not that you lose all your money when you die, but that there’s no banking or storage system in the game.

Do I really have to carry all of my wealth on me at all times?

Seriously man, if you had 5,000 souls of demon’s in your possession would you go walkin’ around with ’em in your wallet?

No, you’d put ’em in a fuckin’ bank.

That being said, the currency system is largely why I’m “nowhere” in the game as of yet.

Simply put, I can never survive long enough to save up my money to purchase items with.

Not that there’s any items I want/need anyway.

I suppose it doesn’t help either that I haven’t the slightest clue how to level up my character…

Anyway, I’m whining; so I’ll stop now.

As it stands, Demon’s Souls is a brutally difficult game, but for drastically different reasons than I am accustomed to in my “hard games.”

When it comes to twitch reflexes and memorization I.E. Contra, Raiden, Devil May Cry; I have no problem.

In the case of Demon’s Souls though, the game’s difficulty comes largely from the stringent rules of it’s gameplay, as well as the fact that timing and precision are the order of the day, rather than quick reaction time or fancy button combinations.

It’s a frustrating and loathesome game that truly hates it’s players, but truth be told; I actually feel compelled to keep trying at Demon’s Souls.

After a few years of getting raped by Battletoads, I put my controller down and said “No Mas.”

Though I’ve only spent a few hours with Demon’s Souls, those few hours have shown me that; despite all the teeth-gritting frustration, there still may in fact be a game worth experiencing hidden beneath it all.

Here’s hoping I’m right…

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Let’s Play Contra III: The Alien Wars, Part VI

It’s been a long, ass-poundingly tough road, but we’ve finally reached the end.

That’s right, in the cock-fight that was Azn Badger vs. Contra III, the Azn Badger won.

After 6 stages, and an ungodly number of boss fights and curse words, it’s finally over.

That being said, I made an effort to check my ego at the door for this video, so please enjoy the video, I actually had some fun making it for a change:

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Let’s Play Contra III: The Alien Wars, Part IV

Well folks it finally happened.

Up until today, I had a perfect game goin’ on Contra III, only to have it all come crashing down at the end of stage 4.

Oh well, I didn’t expect to be able to pull off a perfect run on this game, but even so; it kind of sucks having your humiliation recorded on video for all to see.

I will promise this though:

I will complete this Let’s Play without continuing.

Anyway, enjoy the balls-out, over-the-top awesomeness that is stage 4!:

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Let’s Play Contra III: The Alien Wars, Part III

Welcome folks, to day 3/stage 3 of the Azn Badger’s Let’s Play of Contra III: The Alien Wars on the Super NES!

The production of today’s video was, how shall we say; a little “rocky” to say the least.

Not that "Rocky," although it shows you're thinking...

Despite some truly teeth gritting technical issues here and there, I managed to get it done though, thusly keeping the post-a-day streak alive!

Anyway, please enjoy!:

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Let’s Play Contra III: The Alien Wars, Part I

Welcome folks, to my first Let’s Play video of a non-NES game!

Being as my first (attempted) Let’s Play video was of the original Contra on the NES, I figured it would wholly appropriate for me to take on another game in the series.

More specifically Contra III: The Alien Wars, my favorite in the series; a game that I just happen to be pretty good at.

Okay fine, the real reason I’m doing this is to make up for my total failure at the original Contra…

Anyway, enjoy watching me not fail!:

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A Salute To Time Crisis: Part III

Time Crisis 3 marked a major transition point in the Time Crisis series.

While the core gameplay of Time Crisis 1 and 2 consisted of little more than ducking and shooting, Time Crisis 3 added a new spin to the mix in the form of a number of new weapons.

Wouldn't you know it, the first Google Images for the search terms "new weapons" just happens to be shit from Halo.

For the first time in the series, a new “inventory system” was added, granting the player access to a machine gun, a shotgun, and a grenade launcher at all times throughout of the game.

The addition of these special weapons changed the dynamic of the game drastically.

Selecting weapons was done by pulling the trigger while in cover, so there was very little pressure to select weapons quickly, however, by giving the player options on how they wished to approach every gun fight, it slowed down the pace of the game somewhat.

Time Crisis 3: It Brakes For The Elderly. Do YOU!?

It should be noted that the “Time” aspect of the 3rd Time Crisis, is almost entirely a non-factor at this point in the series.

In addition to this, because the expectation was that the player would be using these powerful new weapons throughout the game, the difficulty level was padded in the form of granting several enemies a lifebar system as opposed to the “one shot, one kill” dynamic of the previous games.

Yup, they've got one of these this time around.

I use the term “padded,” because the whole lifebar system felt tacked on and inorganic.

In prior games in the series, one shot was usually enough to kill virtually any enemy in the game.

These guys'll be dead in about 2 seconds flat.

Some bosses in Time Crisis 2 would take several shots to stun, but even then, none of them had a fatty lifebar floating over their head to tell you when they were going to flinch.

Or if they're BUFF, they don't flinch at all. 'Cause only pussies flinch at gun fire.

Despite the lifebars hanging over most enemies’ heads in Time Crisis 3, for the most part they didn’t flinch when being shot, which resulted in many instances where enemies would land hits on the player while eating entire clips in the face.

Strangely enough, despite the vast assortment of enemies with lifebars in Time Crisis 3, the overall difficulty level is decidedly lower than Time Crisis 1 or 2.

Once again, I attribute this fact to the new weapons.

Remember how hard Doom 2 was when playing with a BFG 9000 with unlimited ammo? That's Time Crisis 3 for you.

In short, giving the player a machine gun that never has to be reloaded is always a bad idea in a rail shooter.

Why?

Because the core gamplay, no matter how frenetic or Paul Greengrass-ed the fuck out, consists of nothing more than spotting enemies and pointing your gun at them.

Okay, bad example. Whac-A-Mole was pretty fuckin' hard...

Do you realize how easy that is when all you have to do is wave the gun across the screen few times to kill everything at once?

Well I’ll tell you:  Pretty fuckin’ easy.

Either that, or it's Gunblade. Which isn't a bad thing...

Difficulty level aside, Time Crisis 3 was a solid entry in the series.

The color palette was once again made even more vibrant than in the previous game, giving the game a cartoonish, almost anime-like aesthetic.

In fact, many of the character designs in the game reflect this trend, with outrageous, and often; flat-out stupid hairstyles and clothing being the norm for most of the cast.

Case in point:

Apparently our heroes shop at the Gap...

Sadly, not even Wild Dog was able to escape the aesthetic shift, as his appearance in the game was marred not only by the inclusion of a fruity sidekick/son(?) named Wild Fang, as well as his least pimp, and by far worst “look” in franchise history.

Damn, he got a fat head.

Interestingly enough however, one thing Time Crisis 3 did with just the right amount of flair, was it’s story.

Unlike the majority of the cutscenes in the previous 2 games, Time Crisis 3 included a great deal of action in most of it’s story sequences.

In addition to this, the player characters, Alan and Wesley, were a helluva’ lot more defined than any of the previous ones, with a goofy sort of “buddy cop” dynamic being played up between the two.

Although at no point is it ever made clear that “No one can beat them.”

SUPERIOR.

The story involves a fictional Mediterranean nation called Lukano, which is being invaded by the Zagorias Federation.

The head of the Zagorias Federation, Giorgio Zott, intends to use the location of Lukano to serve as a launch pad for tactical nuclear missiles.

Whoever the fuck named “Giorgio Zott” deserves to get smacked upside their head, ’cause that is just about the goofiest and least threatening last name I’ve heard in a while.

Seriously, that's a NAME.

Anyway, international badasses that they are, VSSE dispatches 2 agents, Alan Dunaway and Wesley Lambert, to handle the entire conflict CONTRA style.

Well okay, maybe not THAT hardcore, but hardcore nonetheless.

After a bloodsoaked beach landing, and a romp along the coast, our heroes find themselves under fire from a giant ass gunship.

GIANT ASS GUNSHIP.

Fortunately, the pair happen upon a foxy young member of the Lukano Liberation Army, named Alicia Winston, who just happens to have the world’s fastest and most well-armored jeep in the world.

Okay, maybe I lied about the whole "foxy" thing.

While riding the jeep, our heroes battle the games’ first boss as he bears down on them with his gunship.

Despite the impressive visage of taking on a big ass plane while riding a jeep, the battle is really pretty straightforward once you’ve taken out the plane’s defenses and forced the flame-haired brute to fight you out on the loading ramp.

Couldn't find a good pic. This'll do nicely though...

Other than the occasional lateral juke every now and again, the guy really just stands there and eats whatever you throw at him.

Oh yeah, and at one point he pulls a 10 foot long Vulcan out, but even so, he’s cake.

Yup, still a tool.

Long story short, he dies, the plane goes up in flames, everybody macarena.

With that, Alicia begins to guide our heroes through Lukano and towards the tactical nukes.

Unfortunately, a fuck ton of enemies show up, forcing Alan and Wesley to split off from Alicia and fight their way through a marketplace.

Did I mention Lukano was in the Mediterranean?

This was one of my favorite parts of the game, largely because of the music and the cute little motorcycle battle towards the end.

Eventually, our heroes make it through the town and reunite with Alicia, hitching a ride on a train while they’re at it.

While riding the train, a foppish, clawed ninja-like character, similar to Moz from Time Crisis 1, attacks them, serving as the stage boss.

Not the scariest boss around, but, then again looks aren't everything.

The character has no dialogue, but unlike Moz, he actually puts up a decent fight.

Oh yeah, and he doesn’t take 3 shots to kill either.

The boss moves about quickly, often forcing the player to take their shots at times when he is just likely to hit you as the other way around.

To add to the excitement of things, the train the players are on is progressively falling into a pit during the fight, causing your perspective to be obscured for most of the fight.

That's just plain unsafe.

Despite the bosses arsenal of grenades and claw slashes, he too ends up kicking the bucket like all those that came before him.

Curiously enough though, there is no explosion following his death.

NO EXPLOSION!!!!!!???

Sometime during the 3rd and final stage, Wild Dog, and his new apprentice, Wild Fang, show up for their obligatory showdown with our heroes.

Uh, nice ponytail there, Mr. Fang...

This time around, Wild Dog is looking a little worse for wear, with his hair long and unkempt, and beginning to gray at that.

Despite this, Mr. Dog demonstrates further improvements in his arsenal, fielding a flamethrower, a rocket launcher and a sword-like blade attached to the machine gun arm he had last time around.

Wild Fang is somewhat of a mystery to me, as despite his armaments consisting of little more than a Mauser pistol or two, his main method of attack involves him kicking objects at you.

By “objects” of course, I mean things like forklifts and I-bars.

You think I'm shitting you? Play the game asshole.

You know, standard stuff.

It’s never explicitly stated, however I believe one can assume that Mr. Fang has had some sort of bodily enhancements.

Although if BUFF Bryant is any indication of what a “strong” human being is capable of in the Time Crisis universe, then I could be wrong.

Anyway, the Wild Pair attack in tandem, offering up an exhilarating and diverse challenge that is definitely a step up in difficulty from Wild Dog’s appearance in Time Crisis 2.

However Wild Dog looks like shit, so the game loses brownie points for that.

Eventually, the Wild Pair is defeated, with Wild Dog going about his normal routine of, you guessed, blowing himself up.

After heated gun battles against ninjas, machine gun toting hooligans, and even the occasional submersible or two, it isn’t long before our heroes find themselves at odds with Mr. Giorgio Zott himself.

While Ernesto Diaz from Time Crisis 2 saw fit to hang back and let his dummy satellite do most of the fighting, Zott demonstrates a passion for fighting up close and personal.

Like, with a fucking sword, up close and personal.

Zott begins the fight with a submachine in one hand and a sword in the other.

He is exceedingly accurate with both, and even sees fit to borrow Johnny Cage’s shadow kick from time to time.

Do I really need a reason?

During the fight, the arena is constantly being flooded with all manner of enemies, ramping up the difficulty level to an extent.

For the final phase of the battle, Zott switches out his weapons in favor of a pair of 4 tubed rocket launchers.

8 rockets, more than enough to kill... Oh, come on, by now I'm sure you know the rest

Despite the imposing nature of a man firing more rockets than any human probably should, Zott goes down shortly thereafter, proving be a gaudy and colorful, but otherwise harmless final boss.

Also, he doesn’t explode.

WHERE'S THE GODDAMN EXPLOSION!!!?

Even as Zott bites the big one however, the missiles he had set up earlier suddenly spring to life and begin to launch!

Fortunately, Alan and Wesley have the power of “dynamic cutscene intervention,” which the put into to play just in time stop the rockets and rob the player of any measure of participation in the games’ final crisis of time.

And HOW do they save the day? Why, by doing cartwheels and shooting things, that's how!

Remember how I said the cutscenes were flashier this time around?

Well, this is just about the only case wherein I felt this was a bad thing.

That being said, thanks to the power of cool cutscenes, Alan and Wesley get to walk away from a massive explosion, whereupon they are greeted by Alicia.

Pictured: Undoctored still from the end of Time Crisis 3.

High-fives, fist-pumping, and three-way fucking ensue.

As a supplement to the main story mode, the console port of Time Crisis 3 includes a series of single player side missions wherein the player assumes the role of Alicia as she assists the VSSE agents and attempts to find her imprisoned brother.

Alicia’s missions include a new leveling system wherein her weapons start out in a downgraded state, only to steadily increase in power with repeated use.

By the end of the game, her weapons display power and rates of fire well in excess of their capabilities in the main story mode.

In addition to this, Alicia also makes use a sniper rifle, which is cleverly implemented into the gameplay by way of a zoom-in button in place of normal “duck” button.

BOOM! HEADSHOT!!!

Perhaps the most impressive use of the sniper rifle in Alicia’s game is it’s use during a pivotal point in the main storyline wherein Alicia saves her brother from Giorgio Zott by shooting a pistol out of his hand.

It’s a nerve racking, one-shot, slow-motion sequence that is largely reminiscent of Namco’s Point Blank/Gun Bullet series.

After saving Alicia’s brother, whole experience culminates with a fast-paced battle against Jake Hernandez, a traitor to the Lukano Liberation Army.

The battle is fought under a strict time limit, and is perhaps the most difficult boss battle in the entire game.

Sorry, no pics, so you're stuck with The Fat Man.

In all, Alicia’s missions are intensely varied and excellent throughout, with many of the mission adopting Crisis Mission parameters, such as extremely limited ammo, time, and even the occasional innocent civilian from time to time.

That’s not to say that Time Crisis 3 doesn’t include Crisis Missions of it’s own, however their largely the same as the previous game, so we’ll consider that covered from last time.

COVERED.

Aside from it’s exceptionally colorful and action movie-esque plot, another highlight to Time Crisis 3 was it’s soundtrack.

In short, the soundtrack of Time Crisis 3 is excellent, regardless of it’s connection to the Time Crisis series.

Time Crisis 1’s soundtrack consisted of only a minute or two of of actual composition, with most of it’s running time being made up of variations of the same core theme.

Time Crisis 2’s soundtrack was greatly expanded from the first, however the instrumentation was weaker and not as engaging as the first.

Time Crisis 3 however, has a very robust and exhilarating soundtrack, that while bearing very little resemblance, if any, to the previous entries in the series, definitely stands out as perhaps the best of all Time Crisis games.

My favorite track, by far, was the Stage 2-1 music:

A close second was the first bosses theme:

Sadly, Wild Dog’s theme is once again a step down from it’s original debut, however, given his severely demoted standing among the other villains in the game, it’s entirely appropriate.

Despite Time Crisis 3’s relative lack of difficulty, and borderline childish aesthetic, it stands as a worthy successor to the series, if not a dramatically different one.

Check back for a possible Part IV!

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Let’s Play Contra!

Today we’re gonna’ do something a little different.
Today we’re gonna’ sit back and watch me fail at Contra.
That’s right, I made a video, and it’s of my first time playing Contra on the NES.
Please enjoy:

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The Best Track in the Game #8: Contra III: The Alien Wars

C-C-C-CONTRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

Contra III: Alien Wars is one of the greatest run ‘n gun games ever made.

Period.

Over the past 20+ years, Konami’s Contra series has pioneered and successfully remained one of the single most visible and well-regarded franchises in the genre.

Though every series has it's unfortunate missteps...

In fact, outside of stiff competition from SNK’s Metal Slug series, I can’t really think of another franchise that could even come close to claiming Contra’s title.

As with most classic game series, the fundamentals of the Contra franchise have remained slim, but elegant in their simplicity.

At their core, Contra games are all about you and a friend (if you happen to have any) running from left to right blowing the shit out of everything that moves.

The world through the eyes of a Contra kid.

In between this, occasionally the perspective of the game will change from sidescrolling, to that of a third-person view, or even a top-down view, though the objective remains the same:

Pick up progressively bigger guns, and shoot EVERYTHING with them.

Basically, you're a walking gun. Kind of like 'ole Megatron here.

In truth, I was a late comer to the Contra party.

While I had friends that grew up playing Contra or Super C on the NES, I myself did not really become a Contra kid until Contra III.

I remember I rented the game a few years after it came out.

Truth to be told, the opening cinematic genuinely scared me a little.

Okay, maybe the dialogue between ‘ole Bill and Lance was laughable, even as a child, but something about the eerie music and that goddamn creepy-ass alien face freaked me out a little.

Once I actually started playing the game however, my fear evaporated and turned to excitement and glee.

The biggest keys to Contra III’s success, were it’s pacing and difficulty.

Unlike say, a bullet hell style vertical scrolling shooter, the action in Contra III was conducted at a measured pace, with enemies firing only every so often, with slow moving, but extremely accurate bullets.

"Yup, just another day in the city OH MY GOD THAT DOG HAS A MAN'S FACE!"

This element of the gameplay led to fewer “cheap” deaths, with most of the more difficult aspects of the level design stemming from hazards in the environment and irregularities in the bosses attack patterns.

Stage 5 boss can suck a fat Blackanese cock. Seriously, FUCKING BULLSHIT.

Boss fights in Contra games were always a major aspect of the experience, often occupying a huge chunk of the actual gameplay.

In true Contra fashion, most of the mid-bosses in Contra III had limited attack patterns and were dispatched in quick fashion, however the stage bosses were  exceptionally well-designed and often required great skill and patience to defeat.

Except for this guy. He was easy as pie.

Nearly every stage boss in Contra III was memorable in some way, a fact that was bolstered by the truly awesome boss theme music:

To this day, I maintain that Contra III’s difficulty level (on “Normal Mode”) was ideal for the genre.

Even as a child, it was rare for me to become frustrated upon losing a life to stray bullet or an alien that jumped in from off screen.

Everything about the game, from the placement of the power-ups, to the number of enemies on screen at a time, felt appropriate and balanced.

At times, one could argue that perhaps the game was too easy at times, as there were certain instances when specific power-ups were doled out in just a little bit too convenient fashion.

"Oh look I'm one screen away from the boss and have 4 bombs! Oh wouldn't you know it, there's 2 more bombs! Golly Gee Willikers, I'm lucky today!"

Contra games have never been known for their innovations from game to game, and Contra III is no exception.

Changes to the, at the time pretty much untouched gameplay of the original Contra, were few, but key nonetheless.

For instance, players could now climb walls and across monkey bar style overhangs, as well as carry and switch between two different weapons at will.

There was also a retarded somersault attack the player could execute using both weapons at once, but it would probably be best if we forgot about that.

There's a time and a place for somersaults, and this is not one of them.

Speaking of weapons, Contra III introduced a whole of host of awesome new ones  to the franchise.

It was in this game that the Flame Gun and the Homing and Crusher Missiles made their debut.

Despite it’s reputation from past games, in my opinion the Spread Gun lost it’s luster in Contra III due to the supreme effectiveness of the Homing Missiles paired with, well, just about anything.

Pictured: The Spread Gun in Contra III.

Like other early Super NES titles, Contra III also made use of Mode 7 graphics for it’s top-down sequences.

I remember sucking-ass at the top-down levels as a kid, largely because of the imprecision in the movement controls combined with those damn narrow bridges.

Yeah, 'cause this isn't confusing at all.

Players could also pick up screen clearing bombs, however I’ve always had a habit of dieing before being able to set them off, so in my eyes they were mostly useless.

In addition to this, players could, for the first time in a Contra game, commandeer vehicles, although there is only one real instance of this, and it comes and goes within the first minute or so of the first stage.

Oh well, “some tanks” are always better than “no tanks.”

Okay, I officially want one.

In all, Contra III was my first, and for the most part, my favorite, Contra game.

In fact, outside of the excellent Contra: Hard Corps for the Genesis, and the obscenely difficult Contra: Shattered Soldier on the Playstation 2, I can’t really think of a close competitor.

When it comes to run ‘n gun games, I’ve always considered myself a die hard Metal Slug fan, however in the case of Contra III, it just has an indefinable charm to it that puts it at or near the top my list.

That being said, The Best Track in Contra III is…

Stage 4 – The Bike Chase

Why?

The question is, why not?

If the word “Contra” was a verb, this stage and the piece of music that accompanies it would probably be it’s definition.

Remember that next time you go out on a motorcycle/helicopter ride/killing spree.  It’ll definitely save you a minute or two when it comes to explaining your actions to the authorities.

"What the hell did you think you were doin' son!?"

"I WAS TAKING MY WOMAN OUT CONTRA'ING YOU FUCKING GIRLIE-MAN!"

Seriously though, this track is all about fun and excitement and it goes perfectly with the colorful and over-the-top nature of the level it occupies.

It’s worth noting that this track, as well as the rest of the games’ soundtrack, have that classic “early 90’s Konami” sound to them.

I don’t know if it’s that they recycled the same midi tones a lot over at Konami, but something about their sound just has a wonderful uniformity to it.

It's always a good time for kittens!

In general, Contra music, especially in later games, is a mix of military cadences, pulse pounding electronica, and heavy metal style pseudo-guitar.

Another constant of most Contra soundtracks however, is a slight tinge horror movie soundtrack elements.

Hmm, kind of like Aliens?

Contra games are about fighting giant, grotesque aliens, and the music often reminds of us of the fact that, despite the over-the-top one man army style gameplay, the environments that the games take place in are meant to be grim and violent.

Contra III makes great use of the action-horror sound throughout, though the Stage 4 track is easily my favorite, largely because of how retardedly insane and intense that particular level was.

Seriously, you have to see it in action to understand where I’m coming from:

Playing this stage a kid was like playing the Gallimimus Stage in Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues.

I rarely, if ever, got past it, but damn did I have fun trying to over and over.

Runner-Up:

Stage 1 – The City

Why?:

While my choice as Best Track in the Game was a track that was somewhat atypical of the series, my choice for the runner-up is not.

The Stage 1 theme in Contra III is classic Contra, with equal parts military influenced badassery and horror influenced creepiness.

Hmm, kind of like Aliens?

In that sense, it’s the perfect track to begin the game with, as it effectively invites players into the next generation of Contra with something familiar, yet different at the same time.

I love the harshness, the sense of urgency that this track exudes.  It really works as a piece of music meant to inhabit a very dark and hostile environment.

The only reason this track doesn’t get the nod for Best Track in the Game is because it’s simply not as fun to listen to as the Stage 4 theme.

Both are exceptional in their own right, however in this case I’ll take “fun” over “intense.”

With that, I leave you with “What iz diz’ place?”

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The Best Track in the Game #4: Jurassic Park Part 2: The Chaos Continues

Yes, I was balancing the cartridge on my fucking foot. I tell yah', it's not easy being unemployed...

Jurassic Park Part 2: The Chaos Continues is a “Contra Clone.”

More specifically, it’s a fairly decent “Contra Clone” that attempts to inject a little depth into the run-n’-gun genre.

Note that I referred to the game as being “fairly decent,” and not FUCKING AWESOME like Contra III: Alien Wars.

No game in the history of Man-Games has "attacked" as "aggressively" as Contra III.

My experience in playing Jurassic Park 2 on the SNES came in the form of a single weekend rental.

I was spending the night at a not-so-close friend’s house.

Yeah, this was back when my mom was still sending me off on “play dates” with kids I didn’t really know too well.

I remember his mom helped us make some Nickelodeon Gak.

Yup, this shit.

I remember feeling bad about making such a crazy big mess of their kitchen.

That and I remember accidentally over-starching my baby blue Gak, rendering it nothing more than a rock hard, plasticky, smelly-ass paperweight.

Oh well, I could still make fart noises with it.  Well, until I accidentally left it out of it’s jar for too long…

Anyway, later that night my friend’s mom took us out to rent a videogame for the night.

Naturally, seeing as Jurassic Park the movie had come out just the year before, and dinosaurs were still the coolest thing going for 7 year old boys, my friend and I couldn’t resist getting our hands on Jurassic Park 2 for a night.

Oh yeah, and keep in mind that neither of us had been allowed to see Jurassic Park in the theater.

This would be our chance to live the movie!

Upon popping the cart in, we were treated to a vividly animated opening cut-scene, complete with VOICE ACTING.

This sequence was pretty impressive when I was a kid, but to look back at it now, as an older and wiser Azn Badger, it’s a pretty impressive technical feat to see high quality voice clips crammed into a tiny SNES cart.

It’s kind of funny, I have a sneaking suspicion that the dude yelling “Go!  Go! Go!!!” is the same voice actor that played Duo Maxwell in the dub of Gundam Wing… and pretty much every animated character from the early 90’s and on.

The voice of a generation... Damn, he's hella' rockin' the "Bret Michaels" look.

Anyway, as I said before, JP 2 was a “Contra Clone” through and through.

It was a co-op, side-scrolling run-n’-gun game wherein player one controlled some white dude in a gray shirt, and player two took control of a brutha’ in a red shirt.

I found out years later that the white dude was supposed to be Dr. Alan Grant.  The brutha’ was just some brutha’ Ocean snuck in there to cover their asses from Affirmative Action and what not.

I guess Dr. Grant spent his time away from Isla Nublar doing some hardcore military training or something, ’cause I was less than impressed by his proficiency in handling the SPAS 12 in Jurassic Park the movie.

That's right, Dr. Grant can't aim worth shit...

Innovations in the gameplay came in the form of a mission select system, a health bar in place of one-hit deaths, objective based levels, maze-like level designs, and a lethal/non-lethal weapon system.

That’s right, the game expected you to tranquilize the dinosaurs so as to preserve that bloody Scot, John Hammond’s, investment.

Oh well, the Mega Buster style Stun Gun was the shit.

That's right Mr. Raptor, you 'bouts tuh' get tazed.

Despite most of these deviations from standard Contra game mechanics being fairly minor, I remember them greatly affecting my experience with the game over the one evening I got to play it as a youngster.

The health bar was a clever innovation in that it gave my not-friend and I the illusion of playing an easier game, one that didn’t punish you for every little mistake I.E. FUCKING CONTRA.

Instead of getting shot dead every time you slipped up, the game would give you some leeway in the form of respawning you at the edge of a pit if you missed a platform, or better yet, giving you some Megaman style invincibility frames immediately after getting hit.

In truth, the health bar served to give us a false sense of security.

Kind of like these.

There were far more opportunities to get damaged in JP 2 than in any of the Contra games released up to that point, resulting in ones’ health bar draining quite rapidly.

On the plus side though, on two-player mode you could transfer health between players to even out both health bars.

Yeah, my not-friend and I had to rely on this trick to get us past, well, pretty much everything, ’cause we sucked pretty fuckin’ hard.

To make matter worse, we found out pretty quickly that you only got one health bar per level.

Good job finding the health kit Dr. Grant. Though I don't think brutha' red-shirt is gonna' make it...

JP 2 differed from the Contra series in that Contra games are about precision, about the memorization and mastery of a series of small scenarios.

JP 2 was more of a reflex game, and a cheap one at that.

Enemies (I’m lookin’ at YOU, yah’ Raptor fucks…) would often run in from either side of the screen at absurd speeds, often times respawning in greater numbers if you were foolish enough to try and run away.

In addition to the dinosaur enemies, there were also a multitude of human enemies armed with a variety of weapons ranging from pistols to flamethrowers.

Oh yeah, and helicopters.

While most of the dinosaurs were manageable for the most part, the humans were truly a pain in the ass.

Many took several hits to take down, and the ones that fired their weapons (yeah, not all of them were smart enough to do that) did so often, and with great accuracy.

Left: An example of normal and competent enemy. Right: An example of a pair of retarded, hoodie wearing joggers that don't know how to shoot.

This is what I meant when I said Contra was about “precision.”

In Contra games, enemy fire was accurate, but largely infrequent, and often pattern-based.

JP 2 puts you up against endless walls of broken-ass fuckers that pepper you to death with fast moving orange bullets.

Either that, or THIS FUCKER throws a grenade in your face when you try to jump over him.

As you can probably tell, Azn Badger wasn’t too good at JP 2 when he was little.

Thank God for the mission select system, otherwise my not-friend and I would never have gotten past the Raptors in the first level.

Seriously, who the fuck thinks to jump over a fuckin’ Velociraptor?

That's right, you can jump over not one, but TWO Raptors!

“T-Rex Carnage” was the first stage I remember my not-friend and I playing.

How the fuck could we not?

Of all the stage titles, it was the only one that promised the appearance of the fucking T-Rex* they slapped on the back of the box.

There was no way we could go to bed without at least getting to see the T-Rex.

It took us a good solid hour of Raptor-Rape before we finally got to see the lizard king himself.

It was fucking crazy.

Well, maybe not as crazy as Mr. Nolte here, but still...

It all starts when you wander off into the jungle, when out of nowhere the game fades up from black and a jeep pulls up alongside you.

Oh yeah, and did I mention there’s a fuckin’ T-Rex bellowing into the air about 10 feet behind you?

Well, there is.

Yeah, if you don’t hop on that jeep you are fuckin’ slow.  Like, Little Bear slow.

SLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWW.....

As soon as you’re on the jeep, the T-Rex gives chase, gaining on you the whole way.

Putting buckshot and 9mm fire into his giant-ass skull slows him down, but as expected, does little to deter his advance.

In the meantime, as this rampaging beast is charging at you full-bore, there’s a bunch of dudes hanging from the trees above you that just happen to be SHOOTING AT YOU.

Nope, still retarded.

Seriously?

There’s a fucking T-Rex on the loose and these guys can think of nothing better to do than hang from vines, directly in harms way, and put rounds in Dr. Alan-fucking-Grant and his brutha’ from another mutha’?

Priorities dudes, get it together.

Just as the T-Rex is within inches of getting his unforgiving jaws on you, the jeep suddenly launches off a ledge and into a pit.

Yeah, that guy in the jeep is fucked.

Yeah, my not-friend and I were just a little preoccupied with getting shot to bits by tree-faggots and, you know, BEING CHASED BY A MOTHER FUCKING T-REX to notice the ledge.

Needless to say, on our first time through, we went down the fuckin’ hole.

On our second time, the T-Rex inexplicably caught up to us and chomped us good.

Kind of like Dagobah Luke Skywalker here.

Yeah, turns out he does in fact catch up to you if you decide to prioritize shooting the fuckers in the trees over the giant fucking lizard.

Finally, on our third time through, we got our shit together and made the epic leap off the plummeting jeep and onto the vines hanging over the pit.

After shimmying across the vine and to the ground just past the pit, we got to see Alan Grant and brutha’ red-shirt whip out their PDA thingies to view this message:


“Unable to stop the T-Rex?”

The fuck kinda’ bullshit is that?

We put EVERY FUCKING ROUND WE HAD into that beast, and it didn’t so much as make him wince!

Are you telling me we were expected to stop that thing?

Well, needless to say, my not-friend and I were none to happy about this, and we promptly reset the game.

Of course, we had no idea that that was exactly how the game was supposed to go, (you don’t fight the T-Rex proper until the latter stages of the game) and because of that, we were determined to play the stage over to see if there was a way to defeat the T-Rex.

Well, naturally we never found a way to beat the T-Rex, but we did find out something silly in the programming of the game.

First glitch I ever knew besides the Double Dragon II helicopter trick.

After you jump off the jeep and onto the vines above, you can still hear the T-Rex roaring after you periodically.

Because we were both upset at our perceived failure, we sat still for a moment, bitching back and forth over what we could have done wrong.

During this time, we let the game sit, unpaused.

After a minute or two, we noticed that the T-Rex’s snout started to appear from the left side of the screen.

Every time it roared, it would inch a pixel or two further into view.

Eventually, a large portion of the T-Rex’s form became visible, and we watched it repeatedly stand and bellow into the sky.

Finally, after several minutes, the T-Rex inched forward so far that it slipped off the ledge and fell straight into the pit below, completely submerging it in darkness**.

Despite this, the roaring persisted.

After seeing that, my not-friend and I burst out laughing.

We proceeded to the end of the stage and got the same bullshit message as before, but in our eyes, in our own special way, we knew we had beaten the T-Rex.

That was the only stage in the game we beat that night.

That being said, The Best Track in the Game is…

Protect the Gallimimus Stage Theme

Why?:

Did you notice how earlier in this post I made no mention whatsoever as to the quality of the music in this game?

Well, I did so for a reason.

Jurassic Park 2 was very much an average quality game, and as such, the soundtrack was nothing to really write home about.

Truth be told, there was nothing really wrong with the quality of the music, it’s just that the soundtrack is comprised of very few tracks, and most of them are very low key and best heard as ambient noise.

JP 2’s soundtrack is not one I would picture myself listening to outside of the context of playing the actual game.

Despite this, Protecting the Gallimimus is a good solid action track, with a surprising amount of dignity and pathos to it.

... Unlike this guy.

The bongo sounding drum beat is energetic and bouncy, while at the same time very organic and very much in line with John Williams’ work on the movie soundtracks, particularly The Lost World.

No, not this piece of shit. Dumb ass...

The music goes very well with the setting and flow of the stage that it occupies, which consequently, just happens to be my favorite stage in the game.

In fact, once my not-friend and I tried it, I’m pretty sure we kept playing it over and over until we passed out.

Basically, the level is a balls-out run through a massive field of death.

Other than the occasional family of Gallimimus running past you, every enemy in the level is a human, making the Uzi and Shotgun your best friends for the duration.

I remember my not-friend and I bursting out laughing every time one of us got trampled by one of the hoodie wearing dudes.

Even more so when one of us got beaned in the face with a gas grenade.

The boss of the level was the big-ass helicopter pictured somewhere above, and just below.

Cuttin' it pretty close there Dr. Grant...

Initially it starts out with a huge cage hanging down from it’s body that it likes to slam into you.

If you somehow manage to knock off the cage, the chopper starts sweeping the area with gunfire and bombs.

Lucky you.

As mentioned previously, my not-friend and I never finished any level other than the T-Rex stage, though we did get to the chopper boss many, many times.

Runner-Up:

Jungle Theme:

Why?:

This is the track heard most frequently in the Jurassic Park 2 soundtrack.

Basically, every time you are in the jungle, (ALL THE FUCKING TIME) this is the music that accompanies you.

Thankfully, it’s a pretty decent piece of music.

In fact, the Jungle Theme is good enough that in some ways I hesitate to call it a runner-up to the Gallimimus theme.

They both use a similar instrumentation, and both have that really slick, almost haunting quality to them.

Both track also share a similar length, with both adopting a number of subtle variations throughout their loops, resulting in extremely long tracks for an SNES game.

I think I hold the Gallimimus theme in slightly higher regard, not only because it belongs to my favorite stage in the game, but because it has a more thematic quality to it.

It is only played at one point in the game, and it’s composition reflects this.

The Jungle theme on the other hand, is what I would regard as sort of a “hub theme.”

There are stages where it is played only for a few seconds, simply because, well, you were in the jungle for a bit, and that’s the music that they play when you’re in the jungle.

Sorry, “Miscellaneous Jungle Music,” guess you lose to Protect the Gallimimus this time.

*SIDENOTE: Personally, I don’t remember ever referring to a Tyrannosaurus Rex as a T-Rex until after the Jurassic Park movie came out, was this an established thing by 1993, or was I just too young and uncool to :

**BONUS: I was lucky enough to find a clip that shows the T-Rex glitch!  When it happened to my not-friend and I it wasn’t quite so dramatic (the T-Rex only fell once), but hey, either way it’s pretty crazy!

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