Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

How Could I Forget Merantau!?

Merantau got a US home video release a few weeks ago.

I know what you’re thinking:

“What the fuck is Merantau, and why the fuck should I give a damn?”

Merantau is an Indonesian martial arts film, and you should be mindful to give a damn because it’s a martial arts film I’ve been eagerly anticipating for some time now.

Showcasing the Indonesian martial art of Silat, as performed by the film’s breakout action star-in-the-making, Iko Uwais; the film looks to be a solid entry in the martial arts subgenre.

I've heard talk of "next big thing" surrounding Iko Uwais. He's already got another movie lined up, so we'll see...

The trailer (from over a year ago) gave me the impression that the film was of the classic “country boy goes to the city, is forced to beat the shit out of city-folk” storyline, but with the added (and welcome) twist of being extremely well-shot, and possessed of surprisingly imaginative and varied fight sequences.

See for yourself:

Pretty impressive, eh?

To be perfectly honest, the first thing that aroused my interest when I caught word of Merantau, was the simple fact that it was an Indonesian production.

In my youth, I was fascinated by Indonesia, largely due to the famed Komodo Dragon being a fixture of the archipelago.

Pictured: The Godzilla of the Animal Kingdom.

While my interest started with the wildlife, I went on to study some of the culture, food, art, and even shared class time in college with a gamelan group.

Of course, me being me; I also took time to look into Silat, a beautiful and stylistically varied martial art that hasn’t gotten much exposure in the states.

I have my dad to thank for introducing me to Silat, as he was the one that first told me of it.

Merantau stands as the first Indonesian film I’ve had any reason to get excited about, and more importantly; the first I believe I will have seen.

For whatever reason, the release date of this film slipped my mind; but rest assured, I will seek it out, and I will (hopefully) enjoy the shit out of it.

The movie got Best Film at Action Fest 2010, so in the martial arts movie community; it’s a major player.

My expectations are high for this one, so expect a very critical review in the near future.

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

Beowulf: Summarized by A COLLEGE GRADUATE

Let’s get one thing straight:

I read Beowulf.

Not only that, I read, and dissected Beowulf for school within a month of seeing the movie.

That being said, I know the story.

Well, no; that’s not entirely true, but for the purposes of this post bear with me.

If you ask me, the original Beowulf story (well, the translated/updated version that we all read today anyway…) was trashy and uninspired, even for it’s time.

The composition of the story is fractured, the characters are barely 2 dimensional, and the whole thing is downright caveman simple.

What I mean to say is:

Beowulf was a campfire story for DUDES, a story meant to entertain on the most visceral of levels, and one that was seemingly thrown together on the fly one night, probably by a drunk-ass dude with PTSD from killing and raping 5,000 women and children.

Wow, that was graphic.

Anyway, what follows is an intentionally stupid and ridiculous summary/reenactment of the original telling of the Beowulf story as I know it.

Try to picture this being told around an old-world viking campfire.

Please enjoy, and bear in mind, this post was brought to you by a 4 year college education:

“Okay, so there’s this monster, uh, Green- (no, wait…) Grendel!  Yeah, that’s right, Grendel!

One day, Grendel showed up at some castle, and was all like:

“IMMA’ KILL ALL’AH’ YOUSE’!”

With that, Grendel started cuttin’ bitches, so the peoples in the castle whipped out their celly’s and called the pimpest dude in the neightborhood:

BAY-O-WOLF.

Yeah that’s right, BAY-O-WOLF.

Only thing is, he’s so fuckin’ BADASS that he spells it “Beowulf,” ’cause he’s all like:

“I don’t want suckah’s soundin’ out my name n’shit.  That’s some bullshit right there, son…”

Anyway, Beowulf shows up and is all like:

“Yeah, I’ll kill your monster, but first let us all get drunk while I take some ‘roids and whip out my cock… Y’know, as a sign of good sportsmanship.

Don’t question me, I’m BADASS.”

Right as the parties startin’ to die down, Grendel busts down the door on a bad trip or some shit and is all like:

“IMMA’ KILL ALL’AH’ YOUSE’!”

So, these 2 guys bein’ the dudes that they are, Beowulf and Grendel end up drinking themselves stupid.

Naturally, again; dudes that they are, the 2 of them get into a slap boxing/wrestling match, presumably over who the better Bond was, Connery or Moore.

(It was Connery…)

Despite what began as a friendly contest, Beowulf somehow accidentally tears Grendel’s arm out of it’s socket.

That, my good friends, is what shall henceforth be known as a “party foul.”

Anyway, that’s the story!  Goodnight!”

Inevitably, gathered around a campfire with nothing else to do, someone would eventually have to ask:

“Really?  That can’t really be the end, can it?”

Not wanting to upset his testosterone and boose juiced audience, our storyteller would most likely do what he could to improv a second act for the story:

“So, *cough!* turns out Grendel had a mom

Not only that, Grendel had, uh, a SAVAGE BEAST of a mom that was 10 times more SAVAGE than him on his most SAVAGE of days!

Yeah, that’s right, SAVAGE!

‘Cause, y’know how mothers are, am I right guys? *Wink* *Wink*

……….. How come nobodies’ laughing?

*Ahem!* Anyway, Grendel’s mom shows up at the castle and is all like:

“IMMA’ KILL ALL’AH’ YOUSE’!”

So then Beowulf, fresh after having just bedded every lady in waiting in the court, is all like:

“Yeah, ‘imma kill that bitch for yah’, just let me get juiced up and nak- (no, wait he already did that) I mean, juiced up and shit-faced and I’ll get right on it.

Then maybe I’ll get naked and score some poontang afterwards…”

(Hold for applause)

Yeah, thought you guys would like that part…

With that, Beowulf, being the BADASS that he is; goes and puts the ground and pound to Grendel’s mom like she stole from him.

Seriously, that bitch got tapped out so fast, The Flash was like “Waddah’ fawk jus’ happened!?”

During the after party, Beowulf gets laid, gets hammered, and becomes king.  The end.”

Despite the storyteller’s pleas though, inevitably some other loudmouth jackass would demand that the story keep going.

Hoping to satisfy his audience, and finally bring an end to the epic monstrosity he had birthed that evening, the storyteller would ultimately go balls-out with his final act, intentionally jumping the shark for fear of further demands of continuance:

“Okay guys, this is really the end now, so don’t ask for any more story tonight, ‘k?

So a bunch of time passes, and Beowulf’s real old n’shit, right?

He’s still king n’all, but he’s real fuckin’ old is all.

Anyway, everything’s good n’shit, but then A FUCKIN’ DRAGON shows up, and Beowulf’s all like:

“I’m old and the evils of gravity have made me ashamed to disrobe in public anymore, but imma’ kill the FUCKIN’ DRAGON for everybody, ’cause goddamnit; I’m BADASS and that’s what I do.

… Even though the dragon hasn’t really done anything to warrant it’s killi- Goddamnit I’m the KING, and I’m BADASS, so this is fuckin’ happening… Right now!”

With that Beowulf heads down to the FUCKIN’ DRAGON’S house and starts wreckin’ shit like no other while his little buddy Wieglaf hangs back and is all like:

“Oh snap!  Beowulf’s a fuckin’ beast!”

Shit goes wrong though, and Beowulf falls on his knife or some shit, leaving Wieglaf to pwn the FUCKIN’ DRAGON on his own (with a little help from aimbot…).

Anyway, Beowulf dies or some shit, I don’t know; I’m tired let’s go to bed.”

Well, folks, that was my summary/reenactment of the first telling of the Beowulf story.

Hopefully you all enjoyed it, and/or learned something!

 

 

 

 

 

Filed under: Comics, Movies, 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.

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“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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