Azn Badger's Blog

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I’m Gonna’ Beat A Castlevania Game Goddamnit

Castlevania has never really been one of my favorite game series.

I’ve been fascinated by the series’ music and characters for a long time now, but in all honesty; I never really sat down to play any of the games.

Truth be told, the exploits of the Belmont clan, that is; their eternal struggle against Count Dracula and the forces of darkness, managed to blow right by my radar when I was a kid.

I guess I was too busy playing Mega Man and Ninja Turtle games during the NES era to have really paid mind to Konami’s whip cracking platformer.

Nah' that's a lie... I was playing Snow Bros.

That’s not to say I wasn’t aware of Castlevania.

On the contrary, I remember reading a lot about Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest in Nintendo Power, but perhaps more importantly I remember being genuinely frightened of the cover art depicting Simon Belmont holding Dracula’s severed head.

Pictured: The cover in question.

It wasn’t so much the graphic nature of the image, blood and guts were “cool” to me even as a kid; it was Drac’s motherfuckin’ glowing red eyes that bugged me.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT!

Seriously, how could you put that on the magazine stands and expect parents to buy it for their kids!?

*Ahem!* Anyway, I remember Nintendo Power going out of their way to talk up Castlevania 2 like it was the coolest game ever, even giving it a Nester award for Best Audio.

Strangely enough, nowadays the game seems to have a pretty well established reputation as being a crytptic and poorly translated heap of garbage.

I guess people were willing to swallow a lot more shit from their games back in the day than they are nowadays…

I owned, played, and liked this back in the day. Don't ask me why...

Anyway, while I read plenty about the Castlevania games in various gaming magazines back in the day, I honestly don’t recall ever sitting down to play any of them until I was much older.

I remember reading about Symphony of the Night in Playstation Magazine, which gave it a perfect score and even went on to give it the top spot on their Best Playstation 1 Game of All Time list.

To this day, I have yet to try Symphony of the Night, largely because it’s Metroid style, backtracking heavy gameplay would likely drive me insane.

Like Zelda before it, Metroid games have always had a way of making me feel dumb and lost throughout the experience, and based on what I’ve seen of the map from Symphony of the Night, I think it’s in my best interest to stay away.

"For the love of God, I don't speak Japanese!"

Don’t get me wrong, the game looks absolutely gorgeous, with some of the most detailed and well animated sprites I can recall, (always a huge selling point in my book) but I know what I like, and I know what pisses me off, and it’s more than likely that Symphony of the Night would piss me off something fierce.

Completely dodging tremendously successful game series is not exactly a new thing for me, as evidenced by me having never played a Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, Prince of Persia, or Duke Nukem game; but in the case of Castlevania, I was always bothered by the fact that I actually wanted to play some games in the series.

More specifically the straightforward platforming games in the series I.E. the first 4, and Rondo of Blood.

Any game that includes Shoryuken-ing Minotaurs as boss characters gets brownie points in my book.

While the gothic aesthetic didn’t really appeal to me all that much, the old-school horror references, platforming action, and downright legendary music of the more traditional games in the series have always seemed right up my alley.

Hell, I’ve been listening to Castlevania music since middle school, but I only just played my first game in the series a few years ago in the form of the NES original.

That being said, while I can’t say I enjoyed my experience playing a Castlevania game nearly as much as I hoped I would have; the challenge, combined with the delightful sights and sounds left me intrigued in an oddly masochistic sense.

While I won’t be throwing down my gauntlet and saying I’m gonna’ beat Battletoads or Ghosts ‘n Goblins anytime soon, Castlevania seemed to have a reasonably challenging difficulty level that appealed to me.

The Battletoads Turbo Tunnel: SERIOUS BUSINESS.

Hard enough to piss you off, but with gameplay that feels rewarding enough to encourage you to keep trying regardless.

What can I say, I’m one of those sickos that actually liked, and beat Demon’s Souls; and is likely to do so again before picking up the sequel once it comes out.

By comparison, sacrificing a few hours of my life to Castlevania seems like fuckin’ cake.

Anyway, the point of this post, I think; is that I think I’m gonna’ challenge myself to sit down and beat Castlevania sometime soon.

Castlevania isn’t my favorite series of games, nor do I have all that much history with it, if any; this is just me saying I’m gonna’ kill me some vampires ’cause I think I’ve got what it takes to do it.

I don’t think I’ll be doing a Let’s Play, so you’ll just have to take my word for whatever accomplishments/failures I encounter.

Anyway, wish me luck!

"Pizza delivery for Mr. Dracula... Hello?... Bueller?"

 

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The Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks, #25-21

Welcome folks, to the Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks!

After weeks of preparation, carefully researching and measuring untold numbers of musical pieces against one another, I’ve finally managed to put together a list that meets my ridiculous standards.

I’ll admit, there’s sure to be an odd pick here and there, but bear in mind:

This is my list, and I honestly couldn’t give 2 shits about what you think of it.

2 SHITS.

That being said, much of the difficulty I had in crafting this list of music, came in the form of a very specific ground rule I decided to lay out for myself from the get go.

Said rule required that I would be restricted to choose only 1 track per game franchise.

I know what you’re thinking:

“Azn Badger, why on Earth would you place such a horrible restriction on yourself, won’t that just make you all nerd-rage-y n’shit?”

"STUPID FUCKIN' PRINCIPLES N'SHIT!!!"

While I did in fact have a hell of a time with this, I decided to abide by this rule because I felt would force me to truly pick the cream of the crop for fear of dishonoring long-standing game franchises with sub-par tracks.

Yeah, believe or not, I actually care that much…

Not only that, said restriction also kept me from making a Top 25 of Best Mega Man music, ’cause to be honest, this list could’ve easily been made up exclusively of Mega Man music had I allowed myself to do so.

Anyway, we’re gonna’ do this 5 tracks at a time, so without further ado, here’s tracks #25-21 of The Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks!:

#25. Skate or Die 2: The Search For Double Trouble

“Skate or Die 2 Theme Song”


FUCK.  YES.

Skate or Die 2 was one of those games that I remember for all the wrong reasons.

I remember it as a game that my brother rented one time that had shitty controls, shitty graphics,  and…

Did I mention it was a shitty game?

Anyway, the one positive memory I have of Skate or Die 2 was of course, the title screen music.

How many NES games can you think of have their own theme song?

With actual digitized lyrics?

Well, Skate or Die 2 had one, a SHITTY ONE, but it was the good kind of shitty.

Y’know, shitty in that Mystery Science Theater 3000 way, where it’s terrible, but in such a way that you can laugh at it.

Anyway, this is the closest this list has a to a “joke” entry, so brace yourself for SERIOUS BUSINESS for the rest of it.

#24. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!

“Training Theme”


Ah, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, how you shat on me in my youth… And continue to do so to this day…

Punch-Out!! is a gaming classic notable for it’s bold-faced racially stereotyped cast of boxers, intuitive gameplay, and out-of-control difficulty level.

 

Mostly just the racism though...

Anyway, I loved Punch-Out!! as a kid, but to this day, I suck balls at it.

I can put half of the guys in Super Punch-Out!! down within 15-20 seconds, but the original Mike Tyson version is a whole ‘nother story.

I was tempted to put the standard “fight music” that plays throughout the game on this list instead of the “Training Theme, but after careful consideration I think I made the better choice.

Both tracks are heavily inspired by Bill Conti’s work on the Rocky films, and as such, are FUCKING AWESOME, but in my opinion the “Training Theme” just has that little extra something, a little extra swagger in it’s step, that makes it the flag bearer for Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!

#23. Fester’s Quest

“Boss Theme”


Fester’s Quest is a shitty game.

Thanks to the Angry Videogame Nerd, everyone is now aware of this.

What most people don’t know however, is that I spent most of childhood thinking it was actually pretty decent.

For whatever reason, my brother and I owned Fester’s Quest back when it was brand new.

I don’t think either of us knew who the Addam’s Family were at the time, (I don’t even think the AWESOME movie had even been made yet) so I can’t explain what compelled my family to possess the ‘ole Quest of Festering, but I digress…

As a kid, I played a lot of Fester’s Quest.

With my poor sense of direction, inability to grasp the control scheme during the “3-D” segments, and acute fear of the green blobs in the sewer levels though, I didn’t really manage to get anywhere in the game.

FUCKIN' BLOBS!!!!

I just sort of wandered around and died, over and over and over again…

Anyway, on 1 or 2 occasions though, I actually managed to get to the first boss.

I never beat him, however the musical memories of said moments are something I treasure to this day.

That being said, Fester’s Quest was, and is, a truly horrible game, however it had some seriously boppin’ tunes, and the “Boss Theme” was easily the boppin’est of the boppin’.

BOPPIN’.

#22. Batman

“Streets of Desolation”


Batman.

How could I have a list, any list; without Batman?

Obviously, I couldn’t, ’cause Batman’s stage 1 theme “Streets of Desolation” is a wonderful piece of music, wholly deserving of a place in the Top 25.

To be honest, I didn’t actually play Batman until very recently.

As in, within the past few months or so “recently.”

In my youth, I had a cheap-ass bulk strategy guide to NES games that my mom gave me to shut me up during a flight to Hawaii.

 

Kind of like this, but a little less ghetto.

It was one of those “hint books” that gave you shitty advice like:

“In Fire Man’s stage in Mega Man, don’t touch the fire!”

or

“In Bayou Billy, shoot your enemies quickly or they’ll shoot you back!”

Even as a kid, it was pretty fuckin’ lame.

Anyway, Batman was featured in this guide, and from the pictures, I always thought it looked really fuckin’ cool.

Unfortunately, I was too busy renting Snow Bros. every weekend to remember to give Batman a try, so I never really got around to playing it…

Psst! They're made of CRACK.

Boy am I glad I took the time to seek it out and give it a whirl.

Batman really is a great NES game.

It’s final stage is too hard, and the game is way too short, but for the most part it’s a fun and graphically intense game that deserves all the praise it receives.

That being said, “Streets of Desolation” is a fantastic piece of gaming music that, had I any nostalgia for the game it’s from, would probably be ranked much higher on this list.

#21. Gremlins 2: The New Batch

“Office Stage Theme”


Gremlins 2: The New Batch scared me as a kid.

Not the movie mind you, the movie was hilarious.

No, I’m talking about the game.

Oh yeah, and this one fuckin’ picture book of the movie that had a close-up of Mohawk in his spider form, that was some scary shit…

Nowadays he looks pretty fuckin' pimp to me. Funny how a few years makes all the difference...

Basically, every Gremlins 2 related product, except for the movie itself, creeped me out something fierce.

Oddly enough, it wasn’t the (quite good) visuals that bugged me in the Gremlins 2 game, rather it was the music.

“The Office Stage Theme” scared the piss out of me as a kid.

Sure it has a goofy, cutesy note here and there, but the overarching theme of the music is one that struck terror into my soul as a child.

I remember my brother rented this game exactly once.

I liked playing it, as it had good graphics and controls, and I always thought Gizmo was cool, (my brother preferred Mohawk, as he was the badass Gremlin…) but the music just made me too anxious to play it for more than a few minutes.

That and the fear of running into one of the scary looking bosses…

Like a stunning number of games in the #25-21 bracket (Fester’s Quest and Batman) Gremlins 2 is a Sunsoft game, and as such; it’s music has that wonderful Sunsoft flavor to it.

Something about the way they do their bass work is just wonderful to listen to.

Anyway, “The Office Theme” might be a little obscure to some, but it’s on the list for scaring me to death as a child…

Check back tomorrow for #20-16 of the Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks!

Filed under: Boxing, Comics, Games, Movies, The Top 25 NES Tracks, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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