Azn Badger's Blog

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Demon’s Souls: Conquered

*Ahem!* I win...

*WARNING! SPOILER ALERT PERTAINING TO END GAME EVENTS.  NO SPECIFICS, BUT IF YOU REALLY WANT THE END-GAME TO BE A SURPRISE, TURN BACK NOW!*

Last night was easily one of the worst of my life.

Don’t expect this to happen on this blog all too often, but I’m sorry to say that my experience of being stuck in a snowy traffic jam in the Seattle area for 6 hours straight was horrible to the point in which I don’t think I want to share the details.

Seriously, it was that bad.

Anyway, as a result of getting home from work at around 11:30 PM, as well has having my body be a complete wreck as a result of the harsh cold and tight confines of my car, I decided that I simply could not allow myself to go to work today.

Despite this, Amazon saw fit to penalize me for doing so; even going so far as to call me in the morning to chastise me for my actions.

Though I love buying products the company, working for Amazon gives me an insight into the inner workings of their ground-level management that really leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Oh well, it’s a job, and that’s more than a lot of people have at the moment, so I’m thankful.

Moving on, as any self-respecting survivor of a 6 hour traffic jam would do, I decided to use my self-enforced day off from work to play Demon’s Souls.

No way was I gonna’ go outside today, even to pick up a copy of The Expendables.

I’ll do that tomorrow…

*Ahem!* Anyway, in short; I managed to beat Demon’s Souls today.

Much like the rest of the game’s limited story sequences, the end of the game was quite flat, and very much anti-climactic.

Truth be told, it had been so long since I had started the game (just over 20 hours of game time) that I honestly didn’t even remember who the last boss was, or why I was fighting him for that matter.

In either case, the last boss was pathetic.

Like, “he couldn’t hit me if he tried,” pathetic.

On one level, this was quite disappointing, as many of the earlier boss fights in the game were quite epic, and fairly inspired in how the actual battles were carried out.

At the same time though, as I recall bits and pieces of the supposed “story” of Demon’s Souls, (seriously, there’s not much to be found) I’m starting to understand that the final boss of the game was supposed to be a pitiful creature, to the point where it’s ironic that it serves as the game’s final challenge.

Demon’s Souls was an excellent game.

While it indeed has flaws, as pretty much any game does; it benefits from an indefinable element in it’s gameplay and presentation, a “hook” that serves to draw in a certain demographic of gamers.

As it turns out, I fit pretty well into that particular category of gamer, as I enjoyed my time with Demon’s Souls.

In regards to it’s vaunted, and supposedly impenetrable difficulty level, I have this to say:

The game is indeed quite difficult, but only if you’re bull-headed and refuse to adhere to the “rules” of the game.

The gameplay of Demon’s Souls is methodical and rigid, meaning the game is difficult; but everything has a rhythm and a weakness, so it’s up to you the player to determine these factors before charging headlong into things.

Hell, I game in practically reverse order, resulting in most of the enemies being far too powerful for me to handle most of the time, and yet in the end, I managed to get past them all through careful planning and observation.

As you play Demon’s Souls, just remind yourself:

The game is challenging, not unfair.

If you get pissed and break your controller when you die in a game, then I’m sorry, Demon’s Souls is probably not for you.

Seriously, controllers are what, $50?

You’d be bankrupt in a week.

If however, you take every death in the game as a sign of your own failings, an indication that you could’ve played better or smarter, then chances are you’ll have a lot of fun with Demon’s Souls.

Now that I’m done with my little advertisement for the game, I feel I should take a moment to talk about some of the random things that stuck out to me in my first playthrough of Demon’s Souls:

I was a little upset at the very limited selection of armors I ran across in the game.

While it’s probably my fault moreso than the game’s, I found that as a Knight, I only ended up changing my armor maybe twice throughout the entirety of the game.

Maybe it’s just because I selected a Knight, who just happens to start out with some the better starting equipment, but I felt myself getting bored of constantly finding new weapons and equipment, but never finding an armor that was good enough to switch over to.

Seriously man, I ended up beating the game wearing Mirdan armor, something the Temple Knight starts the game out with if I recall.

To me, that’s the equivalent of watching a version of the Iron Man movie where Tony Stark remains in the original Iron Man suit throughout the entire movie.

That’s that just plain sad.

Another quick thing, from a gameplay standpoint, those fuckin’ dragons were truly fucking pathetic.

Seriously man, they’re not enemies, or bosses for that matter, they’re fuckin’ scenery.

Destructible scenery that can, and will; wreck your shit 20 times before you figure out how to get past them.

I found one of those dragons on a list of 2009’s worst boss fights, and I can honestly say, whoever wrote that list is certainly justified in doing so.

Don’t ask me how I found the patience to actually kill those motherfuckers, but I did; and that’s largely the reason why I’m writing this “I beat Demon’s Souls, quick everyone, suck my golden cock!” article today instead of a week ago.

Seriously man, that traffic jam last night might’ve taken 6 hours of my life, but I’ll be damned if those dragons didn’t take at least an hour between the 2 of them.

Other than that, I think that’s about all I’ve got to say about Demon’s Souls for now.

Now that I’m done with the game, I think I’m gonna’ move on to something radically different.

With Metal Gear Solid 4 as my first PS3 game, followed by Demon’s Souls, I think it’s time I played something besides a 3rd person action game.

My gut is telling me to try Valkyria Chronicles, but I’m also leaning towards something a little more mindless like UFC: Undisputed 2010 (*Gasp!* but Azn Badger, I thought you hated the UFC!?).

At the same time though, who knows; maybe I’ll surprise even myself and hop back on the Final Fantasy wagon, of which I’ve been off ever since VIII.

There’s a lot of great games out there for the PS3, old and new; so feel free to let me know what I should look into.

Anyway, happy snow day to me; hopefully everyone drove safe this evening!

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The Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks, #20-16

Well folks, yesterday we covered #25-21 of the Top 25 NES Tracks.

That particular tier of the list was seemingly dominated by Sunsoft games, movie tie-ins, and sports games.

Funny how shit like that works out…

Anyway, today we’re taking our first step up in quality, from the bottom tier of the NES’ best, to the, uh, “slightly-higher-than-the-bottom” tier!

That being said, let’s get down to dah’ music!:

#20. Final Fantasy

“The Prelude”


Haha!  That’s right, SUCK IT fanboys!

Final Fantasy has never really held a special place in my heart.

Neither have RPGs for that matter.

I played the original Final Fantasy as a kid, and simply couldn’t get into it.

Similar to my experiences with the Zelda series, I felt I never knew what to do, or where to go, ultimately resulting in me wandering the landscape for a time, only to run into a pack of imps and get my party of green-as-fuck level 1 heroes ass-fucked into oblivion.

 

 

That's a lot of Imps...

 

To this day, I haven’t played a new Final Fantasy since VIII, and I haven’t truly enjoyed any since VI.

Yeah, VI was the shit…

 

Name another game where you can Suplex a fuckin' Train. I dare you.

 

That being said, my lack of appreciation for the Final Fantasy series is what places “The Prelude,a classic of gaming music history as old as myself; so low on this list.

It’s a beautiful, almost whimsical piece of music, that certainly still endures to this day, but to me; it’s just the title theme of a game I hated as a kid.

Did I mention all the fanboys can suck a big fat Blackanese cock?

 

 

...Or at the very least, a big black dildo.

 

#19. River City Ransom

“Boss Theme”


River City Ransom is AWESOMELY FUCKIN’ BADASS.

Seriously man, the guys over at Technos deserve a fuckin’ Earth Badge for everything they put into The City of River Ransoming, ’cause the whole game is a work of genius.

 

 

Unlike this man, who is sadly, NOT a Real Genius...

 

You take Double FUCKIN’ Dragon, which is already BADASS as is, then throw in some AWESOMELY shitty dialogue and a leveling/shopping system, and you’ve got the AWESOMELY FUCKIN’ BADASS game that is River City Ransom!

 

 

Game writing at it's finest.

 

Excuse me, I think I just came in my pants…

*Ahem!* Anyway, River City Ransom was, and is, an awesome game that I spent hours upon hours playing in my youth.

That being said, though there are many great pieces of memorable music in the game, most notably the standard street brawling theme and the shopping music, I feel that the track that best represents the game, is “The Boss Theme.”

Full of energy and pulse-pounding drama, “The Boss Theme” invokes all of the emotions that a boss theme should.

The only other track that could possibly eclipse it, is the River City Ransom version of the Double Dragon theme, though that loses out by a hair due to the fact that, well, the Double Dragon theme actually sounds a whole lot better in the Double Dragon series than it does here…

#18. Snow Bros.

“Stage 1 Theme”


You knew they were gonna’ pop on the list somewhere, but did you really think the crack covered snow men would rank so low?

When forming this list, I did what I could to check my ego at the door and really try and place these tracks appropriately.

While I love Snow Bros., and all of it’s music, deep down I knew that, musically speaking; it’s far from a work of art.

 

Unlike THIS, which is... Probably the most terrifying thing I've ever laid eyes upon...

 

As mentioned in my Snow Bros. article, the “Stage 1 Theme” is a piece of music that I hummed throughout my childhood, such that my mother still knows the tune to this day.

It’s a wonderfully light piece of cutesy music that has a “rotundness” to it that really goes well with the chubbiness and slow-footed nature of the title characters.

I love the “Stage 1 Theme,” and it pains me to place it at #18, but sadly I simply can’t justify placing it any higher.

*Sniff!* Fuckin’ principles n’shit, makin’ me shit on Snow Bros…

#17. Battletoads

“The Battletoads Theme”


There are few 8-bit era themes as rockin’ and kick-ass as “The Battletoads Theme,” and by golly, I love every note of it.

It was tempting to put the stupid-ass “Pause Screen” music on the list as another joke entry akin to Skate or Die 2, however I managed to restrain myself.

While the Battletoads game is, as indicated in one of my previous articles, far from one of my favorite games; the Battletoads themselves are a different story altogether.

In the early 90’s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were king.

 

 

Gods among men, they were...

 

It doesn’t take a genius to see that the Battletoads, Biker Mice from Mars, Street Sharks and Extreme Dinosaurs were all lame attempts to cash in on their success.

 

Pictured: The Ninja Turtles for the UFC generation...

 

That being said, while very little of it actually came to fruition, the Battletoads were, at one point; in line to get their own cartoon, comic book, and action figures.

Because my brother and I had a subscription to Gamepro (back when it was actually good), we caught word of this very early on, and in fact were treated to a some of the early comics printed in the pages of the magazine.

 

Yeah, something tells me it was a GOOD thing this never got aired...

 

Needless to say, the Battletoads, despite starring in a series of games that were frustratingly difficult, were pushed on me pretty aggressively as a kid.

Whoever was head of the marketing department for the Battletoads deserves a pat on the back, ’cause despite having little to no positive memories of any Battletoads games, the ‘toads still have a place in my heart.

A lot of my love for the Battletoads though, springs from the awesomeness of their theme music, which is why it sits comfortably on this list at #17.

#16. StarTropics

“Dungeon Theme”


StarTropics was and is, a tremendously fun, rewarding, and unique game.

While I never actually beat it, (got close though) I have many fond memories of watching my brother play it day in and day out.

I loved the world map, and how it reminded me of Hawaii.

 

Heh heh, it's funny 'cause it's butt...

 

I loved the goofy noise the submersible made when it dived.

Most of all though, I loved the straightforward nature of the action levels and the “Dungeon Theme” that played over them.

The “Dungeon Theme” was unique in that, while most of environments that the action scenes took place in were scary looking caves, the music was very upbeat.

It had an island, almost calypso feel to it that really got you into the action, while giving everything a colorful and inviting feel to it.

It also did well to set up the drastic change in musical tonality that would occur when the “you’re getting close to the boss” music would transition over it.

Startropics is a game series that I could see myself sitting down and playing through someday.

It’s also a series that I sincerely hope gets a continuation or remake at some point.

Here’s to hoping for a return trip to C-Island someday…

 

 

Mike Jones: Adventurer, Hero, and Banana Holding Buffoon.

 

Thus concludes the slightly-higher-than-bottom tier of the Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks!

Check back tomorrow when we finally start getting to the good stuff in the middle-tier of the list!


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A Salute To Time Crisis: Part IV

It's time to end it...

We’ve reached the end of my long reminiscence on the rail shooter series that is Time Crisis.

To wrap things up, I figured I would take a moment to talk a little bit about the Time Crisis games that I haven’t played.

Released in arcades in 1999, Crisis Zone was the first spin-off of the Time Crisis series, and the first that I would never play.

The game borrowed the duck and shoot mechanic of Time Crisis in the form of a riot shield that the player character wields throughout the game.

Not quite as fun as landing a riot shield kill in Modern Warfare, but oh well...

In addition to this, instead of the standard issue handgun of most rail shooters, the player was, at all times, armed with a submachine gun.

Remember when I said machine guns make for dumb rail shooters?

Well, that’s pretty much the reason I had so little interest in Crisis Zone despite the “Crisis” name.

My feelings on the subject would carry on years down the road, well past the 2004 console release of Crisis Zone on the PS2.

Nearly 5 years after the console release of Time Crisis 1, Namco saw fit to make a Playstation exclusive entry in the series called Time Crisis: Project Titan.

As an owner of both Point Blank and Time Crisis, as well as 2 Guncons, I remember being curious about Project Titan, however I never actually played the game.

Point Blank: Best Character Designs EVER.

I remember reading a review of Project Titan in my Playstation Magazine, (PSM) wherein the editor saw fit to give the game a solid, but otherwise unremarkable score.

This was back when the writing staff was still cool by the way.

The release of Project Titan was marred by horribly outdated graphics for it’s time, a lack of new features, and the impending release of the infinitely superior Time Crisis 2 on the PS2 within the same year.

For the last fucking time, "NO ONE CAN BEAT THEM."

A minor plus to the game came in the form of several major characters from Time Crisis 1 making an appearance; namely Richard Miller as the player character, and Kantaris and Wild Dog as the game’s antagonists.

Sorry Dog, can't come out to play this weekend...

That’s right, not even an appearance by Wild Dog could get me to play Project Titan.

In essence, from what I’ve seen and read, Project Titan tried hard with what it had, but came up short in just about every area possible.

I like how I stumbled across this pic by searching for "small penis." That made my day.

Released in arcades in 2006, Time Crisis 4 is the most recent “proper” entry in the Time Crisis series.

I have seen the game available for play at Seattle Gameworks, and while I was somewhat impressed by the game’s graphical fidelity, I was also miffed by a few minor details.

Minor in most people’s eyes anyway.

In short, I was both flabbergasted and appalled by two aspects of Time Crisis 4’s design:

The character designs, and the addition of swarms of creatures called “Terror Bites.”

Honestly, I don’t what kind of Final Fantasy bullshit Namco was trying to pull with this game, but the character designs are utterly ridiculous.

Take a look:

Wow. Just, "wow."

These designs are what you call, “flash for the sake of flash.”

The clothing and hairstyles of the two guys on either side are outlandishly over-the-top, and the dude in the middle’s white man dreads are just plain scary.

Ever since Final Fantasy X (which I have not played, and have no desire to do so), I’ve always bashed the series’ character designs as being too “fashion magazine” like for their own good.

Of course time marches on and... Okay then, I guess nothing's changed after all.

That’s Final Fantasy though, it’s fantasy, it’s supposed to be gaudy.

We’re talkin’ about fuckin’ Time Crisis!

Look at some of the designs from the old game.

Richard Miller, bomber jacket + blue jeans = Hero.

Sometimes simple is better.

Part of what always separated the Time Crisis series from many other light gun franchises, was the fact that your enemies were always human.

Sure, there were always mechanical bosses to deal with from time to time, and the 3rd game put a huge emphasis on putting you up against all sorts of vehicles and what not, but never was there a time in which you were fighting bugs or animals.

Pictured: Time Crisis 4

To make matters worse, from what I saw in the arcade attract demo, the Terror Bites attack in swarms, which is also a big no-no in a Time Crisis game.

Time Crisis games never swarm the player with enemies, in fact most of the time the enemy count on screen at any given moment is relatively low for a light gun game.

In Time Crisis 1 and 2, the difficulty stemmed from clever enemy placement and the requirement of great accuracy and speed on the part of the player.

Enemies rarely scored hits by overwhelming you, and they never swarmed you or otherwise forced you to spray and pray.

Personally, I felt these two additions to the gameplay structure of Time Crisis 4 have served to potentially send the series down an ugly road.

Yeah, pretty sure you'd find this place on "ugly road."

It doesn’t look horrible, and I still want to play it, however I’m in no hurry and will gladly wait until the price per play at the arcade goes down a bit.

We went over this before, I’m Azn and therefore cheap.

Time Crisis is a wonderful game series, and potentially the best of it’s kind.

I tip my hat to the folks over at Namco for enriching my childhood, adolescence, and teenage years with memories of playing the first 3 Time Crisis games early in the morning on Christmas day.

Huh, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before, but Time Crisis was my favorite Christmas gift, 3 different times.

"3!? That's impossible, even for a computer!"

So no matter how critical I may get of the later entries in the series, when I say I’m a lifelong fan of the series, you know I’m not bullshitting you.

Anyway, I think that’s all I’ve got to say about Time Crisis for awhile.

Thanks for reading, and if you haven’t played a Time Crisis game in the arcade before, maybe now you’ll consider giving it a spin next time you’re out and about!

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Best Boss Music #2: Bust-A-Groove

Someday, I'll become that guy on the right. Fuckin' pimptastic...

I know what you’re thinking, “I thought Bust-A-Groove was a dance game?  How does it have boss theme, let alone a good one?”

Well, nearly every video game has a final challenge, or a final stage, and in Bust-A-Groove’s case, I count that as it’s boss music.

JAPANESE DENIM. MONEY STUFFED IN 'EM. COOLEST OF THE CARS AND THE BADDEST OF THE WOMEN.

Beginning in 1997, the GMD (Bemani) divsion of Konami began blitzing the arcades and home consoles with dance and rhythm games.

The first of these was Beatmania, which utilized a vertical scrolling, timing based button input mechanic to simulate a DJ-ing experience.

Don't ask me. All I did was Google "Beatmania" and this was what I got. Fuckin' pedo-Japanese...

In 1998, Konami followed up the success of Beatmania with the creation of the iconic, and wildly popular, Dance Dance Revolution.

Pictured: An Otaku/Narutard in it's natural state.

From this period on, Konami began cranking out dozens of expansions on their dance and rhythm gameplay concept which, effectively giving birth to a new genre, as well as making way for a host of imitators.

Bust-A-Groove is one these imitators.

...Also an imitation.

Developed by the wildly prolific Enix Co. and published by the now defunct 989 Studios, Bust-A-Groove (Bust-A-Move outside of the U.S.) was an interesting experiment in dance/rhythm game mechanics that was released on the Sony Playstation.

Not so much a pure imitator of Konami’s rhythm game formula, as it was an innovation of it, Bust-A-Groove combined the timed button input format of Beatmania, with the head-to-head style gameplay of a two-player puzzle or fighting game.

Chess Boxing: Not quite the same as Bust-A-Groove, but awesome nonetheless.

As if to point out to the player the similarities between Bust-A-Groove and fighting games, the developers were kind enough to include an attack command that each player could utilize to offset the rhythm and momentum of their opponent.

Every character in Bust-A-Groove was colorful and unique, each with a dance style and musical theme to call their own.

Standouts among the cast, both in terms of music and character, were Heat, a breakdancer,

Well, he looked cool in the game, anyway.

Hiro, the leisure suit wearing disco dancer from the cover,

Is it just me, or does this guy look like he's about to shank/rape someone HARDCORE.

and Capoeira, a duo of aliens that utilize a dance style that more closely resembles the Brazilian martial art than it does any traditional dance style.

Pictured: The typical result of the average white man's attempt at Capoeira.

It’s worth noting that a fair amount of censorship was involved in the U.S. release of Bust-A-Groove.

Differences include Hiro no longer perpetually smoking his cigar, (as his song ironically declares to be the norm for him) and the hip-hop dancer, Strike, having his bottle of hard liquor being replaced with a cola can.

Yeah, 'cause these are just about the same thing.

In addition to this, many of the songs in the game were translated and re-recorded from the original Japanese.

It’s funny, normally I’m a purist when it comes to “dubbing” or serious localization of media, but in Bust-A-Groove’s case, I honestly feel that the English revisions of some of the songs are in fact superior.

In example, I found Shorty’s English song to be infinitely better than the oh-so-pedo-it-can’t-be-legal-Japanese version.

Give ’em a listen:

Seriously, it sounds like the singer was 10, maybe 11 years old, and worse yet, had no aspirations to be a singer whatsoever.

...Not that that isn't typical in the music industry or anything.

That ugliness aside, let’s get to the “boss music” of Bust-A-Groove.

Bust-A-Groove’s final stage, it’s final boss, is a giant dancing robot named Robo-Z.

Pictured: Tetsujin 28 strikes a pose to ensure bowel regularity.

Robo-Z’s stage consists of a downtown cityscape, wherein your player character stands atop a skyscraper, while Robo-Z does some sort of trance/vogue dance while standing in a busy intersection.

Let be known that Bust-A-Groove is for HARDCORE dance fans only.

It’s pretty epic actually, the idea of someone dance battling a 50 foot robot in the middle of the city while cars careen down the road and slam into the robot’s feet.

As icing on this already surreal-as-fuck situation, Robo-Z’s theme song is an over-the-top, fast paced trance-techno song called “Flyin’ to Your Soul.”

Pretty cool, huh?

When my brother got this game for Christmas in 1998, I really sucked at it.

I’ve always had a good ear for music, but for some reason my fingers just couldn’t keep up with inputting the button commands on the fourth beat.

Nowadays I can play the game with my eyes shut, but back in the day, I usually couldn’t get past Kelly’s stage.

Okay, now there be two stripper bitches... This is not altogether a bad thing.

Kelly’s stage is usually stage 2.

I remember watching my brother beat the game again and again though, and every time, I’d make sure to be in the room for when he played Robo-Z’s stage.

Like I did with Sakura’s song, “I Want You to Know,” I used to listen to “Flyin’ to Your Soul” as much I possibly could from the sound test screen.

“Flyin’ to Your Soul” may not be the most intense, or archetypal boss theme around, but it’s catchy, and it’s just about as epic as music in a dance game can get, and for that reason, it’s ONE OF THE BEST BOSS TRACKS EVER.

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