Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

The Hapa Bro-Cast 02/24/2015


So….. My brother and I randomly sat down to try our hand at a podcast!
Sadly, I think I derailed some of the finer points he was trying to make, but oh well, it was fun to make.
Here’s hoping we do it again sometime!

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

The Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City Trailer Gets It Right

Do you remember back in the day when pre-rendered cutscenes were the coolest shit ever?

I sure do.

Back in the early days of CD based gaming, pre-rendered cutscenes, that is, ones produced outside of the in-game engine; seemed almost like a reward for playing some games.

Remember booting up Final Fantasy VIII for the first time?

Still don’t like that game, but damn that’s a good opening.

In most cases, cutscenes were used to bookend the gaming experience and/or highlight set piece moments that likely couldn’t be produced in-engine.

In keeping line with the (eventual) point of this article, Resident Evil games serve as a good example of this style of implementation for pre-rendered video, though the majority of the minor cutscenes were also produced in-engine.

I know I’ve used that clip before, but I don’t think I need a reason to justify re-using it.

On the other hand though, many other games, particularly in the early and mid-90’s, went so far as to “wow” gamers through essentially structuring the entirety of their gameplay around FMV.

For example, the early multi-platform game Braindead 13, in the tradition of Dragon’s Lair, was essentially one long interactive cutscene:

As was Cyberia, though with several shooting and adventure segments interspersed throughout.

In retrospect, many of these videos served to break up the flow of the gameplay of the games they inhabited, but back in the day, just the act of seeing full-motion video on a game console was akin to bearing witness to black magic.

Maybe it was just the fact that I was very young when it came to prominence, but to me, FMV in games was a big fucking deal.

Now that I’m older and decidedly more curmudgeonly and cynical, know that FMV has it’s ups and downs.

Perhaps one of the biggest “downs” that comes to mind, pertains to it’s use as an advertising tool.

It’s funny, for as long as I can remember, videogame advertising has been obsessed with finding ways to reel people in without showing a pixel of the actual product.

Pictured: An Earthbound ad. A failed experiment in "unjustified scratch and sniff" advertising.

Similar to a horror movie with a shitty-ass monster trying to sell itself by teasing but not showing said sad-ass monster in it’s advertising, videogame advertisers are a sneaky lot that get off on deceiving their audience.

It’s very likely that it’s just a cultural trend that just happened to grow up with me, but for whatever reason, most of the game ads I can remember throughout my life, both print and video; have done well to conceal the nature of the in-game product they were selling.

Hell, in the 90’s, it was far more common to see totally fucked up and insane imagery as game advertisements than it was to see screenshots of the actual games.

It was the 90's. Don't ask....

Guess that’s to be expected for an era when words like “radical,” “tubular,” and “EXTREME” passed as colloquialisms.

Now that I think of it, even the cover art of most American games was deceiving to some extent, often adopting an art style that was contrary to that of the (very likely Japanese produced) in-game product.

I’m rambling.

The point I’ve been trying (and failing) to lead up to with all of this, has to do with the new trailer for Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City.

In short, I thought the imagery was stunningly rendered, the action sublime, and all in all, I really liked it.

I’m still cautiously optimistic about the game, as though I love the setting of the game, (between #2 and #3, my favorites) as well as the concept, at the end of the day the thing just won’t work without decent gameplay mechanics.

That being said, while this trailer did nothing to address my concerns regarding the gameplay, it did do well by my in the sense that it did what many other pre-rendered trailers have failed to do in recent days:

It showed off actual gameplay mechanics, in the context of a pre-rendered video.

Allow me to explain.

Remember that super-duper overhyped pile of sappy bullshit that was the initial trailer for that super-duper overhyped plate of fuck-sauce that was Dead Island?

Remember how, with the exception of the location, the zombies, and maybe a homemade bludgeoning instrument or 2, absolutely nothing in that trailer was featured in the actual game?

Well, that my friend is an example of a game company trying to sell it’s “meh” product with an overproduced ad campaign.

While it’s entirely possible that Capcom is essentially trying to do the same thing with Raccoon City, I appreciate the fact that they took the time to inject their fancy FMV trailer with a few nods to the actual gameplay.

How did they do this, you say?

With all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, that’s how.

I don’t know if you’ve been following the development of Raccoon City with the same fervor I have, but if you’re at all in the loop, you’ll have noticed that many of the sillier and less organic moments in the trailer reflect actual elements of the gameplay.

For instance, there is a sequence wherein one of the Umbrella commandos notes that a man’s blood trail is going to attract zombies and other creatures.

Later on, a pheromone grenade is tossed during a battle, leading to one of the soldiers spouting exposition regarding it’s function in attracting monsters.

Throughout the trailer there are instances of melee combat peppered throughout.

Towards the end, there was a sequence where a soldier grabbed hold of a zombie and used him as a human shield.

All of the techniques listed above were confirmed to be usable in-game in some capacity long before this trailer dropped.

Not only that, the underlying story behind the trailer, the clashing of Umbrella and government sponsored troops amidst a battlefield of T-Virus creatures, fits the mission statement of the game to a “T”

In short, I’m proud of Capcom for putting their name on a trailer as beautiful and informative as this one.

Sure, the script was kind of shitty, (what Japanese-written English script isn’t?) but at the end of the day, I’m just happy the damn thing at least tries to exposit some of the gameplay mechanics despite the decidedly pre-rendered nature of the video.

Pre-rendered video trailers are a double-edged sword in many ways.

They are useful for building hype, in that they are often beautiful and cinematic in nature, however too often they pay far too little service as to the actual nature of the product they are selling.

In a perfect world, movies and games would be advertised strictly with materials cut directly from the source material, however when budgets get inflated to the point they’re at nowadays, I can see why production companies feel the need to put together these fancy ads on the off chance they might get a few more buyers than they would otherwise.

All it takes is a bunch of dumbasses thinking this represents what they buy when they pick up World of Warcraft:

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

The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, Runner-Ups


Well folks, it finally happened.

Yesterday we finally finished working our way up through the ranks of The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, and named Mike Tyson as the rightful owner of the #1 spot.

As per the norm whenever I put together a top 10 list, today we’ll be taking a look at some of the runner-ups to the list.

Some of the omissions surprise even myself, so expect a few exceptionally tough cookies to pop up in the proceedings.

That being said, let’s get to take a look at the top 5 runner-ups, presented, for my convenience; in no particular order:

#5. SS01-Schwarzgeist – Einhander

Pictured: The Astraea FGA Mk.I does battle with the heavily armed orbital satellite, the SS01-Schwarzgeist.

In case you’re wondering “Schwarzgeist” is German for “Black Ghost.”

With a name like that, the developers of Einhander were pretty much obligated to make this guy totally badass.

To be fair, they also went ahead and made pretty much the entire game absolutely fucking badass.

I’ve mentioned Einhander elsewhere on this blog, but for those who might not know, the game is a supremely difficult Playstation 1 scrolling shooter developed by Square.

While the game is populated by a host of tough bosses, each sporting a number of variable attack patterns depending on the approach you take in fighting them; “The Black Ghost” is likely the most difficult overall.

He also happens to have one of the better tracks in the game as his battle theme.

Boasting an absurdly complex attack pattern that is nearly impossible to grasp without burning a continue or 2, “The Black Ghost” is a brutal challenge that is nevertheless, much easier to defeat through brute force than pure skill.

That is to say, coming into the fight with the right weapons *Cough!* Grenade Launcher! *Cough!* is key to victory.

The fact that “The Black Ghost” has a definable and not all that well hidden weakness, is likely the reason he didn’t make the Top 10.

Despite this, his despicable variety of attack patterns, combined with Einhander’s unforgiving gameplay system of only allowing you 1 life before each continue; make a strong case for his presence among the runner-ups.


 

#4. Isaac Frost – Fight Night Champion

Pictured: Andre Bishop goes toe-to-toe with heavyweight champion Isaac Frost AKA The White Guy.

Another game that I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, Fight Night Champion’s inclusion of a nearly invincible final boss came of somewhat of a surprise to me.

Then again, these days it’s almost a tradition to include at least 1 overpowered athlete in sports games.

That’s right, I’m lookin’ at you Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson and NBA Jam Scottie Pippen

Designed to be fought in a round-to-round, objective based system; the actual procedure involved in fighting Isaac Frost contributes almost as much to his difficulty as his actual fighting ability.

Possessed of unbalanced punching power, speed, and stamina, Frost holds all the cards from the opening bell, and yet his beastly-ness is further bolstered by the fact that the game forces you to fight him a certain way.

Essentially, throughout each round of the fight you are required to follow a pre-determined gameplan, be it using your legs and hanging back, or landing haymakers to the body.

It’s an entirely inorganic procedure that doesn’t exist outside of the “story mode” of the game, resulting in whatever skills you learned playing the game competitively getting tossed to the curb in terms of usefulness.

To date I have yet to beat Isaac Frost, largely due to his insane attribute bonuses, but the fact that the game forces me to fight him the way it wants me to really grinds my gears to an exceptional degree.

With that, I leave you with this video of Frost obliterating Super Middleweight, Anthony Mundine:


 

#3. General Akboob/Hitler – Total Carnage

Pictured: Captain Carnage and Major Mayhem do battle with the giant heads of General Akboob and Adolf Hitler.

In terms of pure quarter munching arcade shooter goodness, few games can measure up to Smash T.V. and Total Carnage.

Virtually identical in terms of gameplay, both are exceedingly difficult top-down shooters that absolutely revel in chewing up players and spitting them out.

While every second of these games is a challenge of the most epic variety, the bosses featured in them are quite likely the most difficult aspect of them.

On that note, I don’t think many people would argue with me in crowning General Akboob, the final boss of Total Carnage, as the toughest among them.

His pattern involves filling the screen with projectiles at all times.

Most of his attacks have an accurate homing capability.

And worst of all, he has no less than a half dozen forms, one of which is a giant Hitler head!

I have no idea what that has to do with anything, especially since the very Russian looking/sounding Akboob is supposed to be Middle Eastern, but whatever it was the 90’s.

Anyway, all of this results in a horribly drawn out battle of endurance.

… A battle of endurance in a game where your character dies in one hit.

You do the math.


 

#2. Emerald and Ruby Weapon – Final Fantasy VII

Pictured: 2 brave parties face down the infamous Emerald and Ruby Weapons.

I just realized this, but there weren’t any RPG bosses on our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights.

I’m guessing it has something to do with my own (heavily biased) opinions, but the simple fact of the matter is that I really haven’t played an RPG since Final Fantasy VIII way back in ’99.

I did however, play quite a few before that point, mostly of JRPG variety.

That being said, while I’ve heard that some of the Shin Megami Tensei bosses are absolutely balls out insane in terms of their capacity to rob you of hours of your life, I haven’t actually played any of those games, so I don’t really have an educated opinion in that matter.

The point is, from my experiences with pre-1999 RPGs, Emerald and Ruby Weapon were the only 2 bosses that I recall having an inordinate amount of trouble with.

From what I hear, the debate rages on which of the 2 is more difficult, though I got my ass served by both of them equally, hence their dual ownership of the their spot among the runner-ups.

I remember Emerald had, no joke, about a million hit points, and Ruby was able to eject your characters from the fight, making doing battle with either of the pair an absolute pain in the ass.

From what I’ve been told, much of the strategy involved in defeating either of the 2 involves an incredible amount of dedication and prep work, as well as a healthy dose of luck.

When Final Fantasy VII came out, I was barely a pre-teen, so I had neither the patience nor the intelligence to figure out which angle to attack them from.

This resulted in me getting literally whipped to death by Ruby, and sat on by Emerald more times than I’d care to admit.

That being said, here’s a clip of some Narutard beating them both into the ground.

Don’t ask me why he dubbed the Final Fantasy themed J-ballad over it….


 

#1. Geese Howard – Fatal Fury

Pictured: Terry Bogard blocks a Reppuken from his nemesis, Geese Howard.

Geese Howard was, and always shall remain, one of the toughest bosses in all of fighting games.

Oh yeah, and he’s quite possibly one of the pimp-est videogames of all time to boot.

That’s saying a lot considering how far fighting games have come since 1991.

Possessed of a limited, but utterly devastating repertoire of moves, Geese was tough to beat for all the reasons you’d expect an SNK boss to be.

He was better than you in every way, especially in his capacity to dole out chip damage on par with some of your clean hits.

Despite this, I’d hesitate to call Geese cheap, merely inordinately difficult and just a little bit frustrating.

Much like Sagat from the original Street Fighter, Geese was a fighting game boss who’s bread and butter consisted of brutal and relentless fireball traps.

Perhaps worst of all though, ‘ole Geese also had a counter-throw capable of cancelling most of your melee attacks.

I don’t think I have to tell you that he often employed this technique with pinpoint timing, often using it to ruin your offensive rallies at the most inopportune of moments.


 

Thus concludes The Azn Badger’s Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights!

Thanks for reading!

Filed under: Games, The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, #3


Yesterday on our list of The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, we took our first steps into the rage inducing realm of fighting game bosses.

As mentioned previously, fighting game bosses tend to be some of the hardest challenges in all of gaming, though more often than than not this comes as a result of unfair or “cheap” elements in their design.

Whether it be by breaking the mechanics of the game, or possessing unbalanced attributes; fighting game bosses are rarely designed to function (fairly) within the established gameplay parameters of the games they reside in.

That being said, yesterday we took a look at Gill from Street Fighter III, a boss that I would personally consider to be one of the better designed bosses in all of fighting games, if not for the fact that he’s a cheating bastard that gobbles cock under the bleachers on Tuesday nights.

While I bear a great deal of animosity, or rather, straight-up HATE towards Gill, those feelings pale in comparison to those I feel for today’s entrant on our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights.

I hate Gill, but as mentioned earlier, I also respect the intelligence of his design.

#3 on our list doesn’t benefit from that luxury.

#3 is the kind of ball-stomping ass-clown that wouldn’t even get a nod from me if I saw him rescue a kitten from a burning tree.

And I fuckin’ love kittens.

#3 is the kind of unbelievably loathsome fighting game boss that only one videogame company could produce.

#3 on our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights is:

#3. Magaki – King of Fighters XI

Pictured: Kensou, standing within striking range of the mysterious Magaki.

I love their games, but goddamn does SNK know how to fuck us in the ass with bosses from the broken-as-fuck school of fighting!

Fuck that, most of SNK’s fighting game bosses didn’t just graduate from Broken-As-Fuck University, they’re fuckin’ tenured professors there!

Rage-gasm aside, Magaki is just about the motherfucking-est motherfucker I’ve ever run across in a fighting game.

I’ve beaten him before, more times than I have Gill actually; but the sheer frustration generated by every encounter was more than enough to convince me to rank him higher than the latter on this list.

While Gill is at times fair, at times borderline human; Magaki just takes the motherfuckin’ rulebook and smears pink and blue shit all over it.

Hell, that’s his M.O. for pretty much everything:

Magaki doesn’t like how his Moons Over My Hammy turned out?

Pink balls and blue floaty shit.

PINK BALLS.

Magaki gets served a tax evasion notice?

Pink balls and blue floaty shit.

BLUE FLOATY SHIT.

Should that fail, and it likely won’t, Magaki’s got his bases covered in the form of being able to neon tie-dye THE ENTIRE FUCKING screen at the drop of a hat.

Just watch this poor sap take it up the butt as he literally comes this close to besting Magaki only to have his eyes raped by the rainbow sherbet shit storm of pink and blue shit that is Magaki’s super combo:

Ouch!  No lube even….

*AHEM!* To walk into a fight with Magaki is to have your 3-on-3 fighting game instantly turned into a 3-on-1 shoot ’em up.

King of Fighters bosses often come with a write-off excuse for their extreme difficulty and cheapness due to the fact that you, the player; get to fight them with 3 characters to their 1.

Despite having 3 characters at your disposal, more often than not the balance ends up being all out of whack, with the boss being extraordinarily overpowered in every way imaginable.

King of Fighters bosses have been consistently cheap as balls since before the series was even called King of Fighters.

Fun Fact: The events of Fatal Fury actually took place during the '91 iteration of the King of Fighters tournament.

It’s a gaming tradition practically as old as Final Fantasy games having a character named “Cid.”

Fighting Magaki though, is unlike any other boss encounter in the King of Fighters series, let alone any other fighting game period.

While many King of Fighters bosses are highly mobile and make use of potent attacks designed to counter from virtually any angle, Magaki fights like fuckin’ Sagat on crack.

Nothing THIS BIG should ever be on crack.

Sagat has his high-low fireball combo, Magaki has, well, endless waves of pink balls and blue floaty shit.

Seriously man, when you fight Magaki it feels like you just stepped into a game of R-Type.

The screen is literally filled with shit to the point in which you’ll often times find yourself just throwing up your hands and saying:

“Fuck this shit! Let’s play some Street Fighter…”

Simply put, there is no “good” way to handle Magaki.

While he’s admittedly kind of Mechagodzilla like in the sense that he’s basically a slow-moving projectile platform with feeble melee skills, on every occasion you do manage to get close enough to deal damage; he’ll usually just toss you away with….. I’ll just let the picture do the talking:

EXPLODING PINK BALLS.

You can easily spend an entire battle with Magaki, that is, all 3 of your characters; without ever getting past his fruity barrage of carnage.

This would be entirely forgivable if not for the fact that SNK saw fit to grant Magaki all of the standard cheap-ass advantages they give to virtually all of their bosses.

Giving him the ability to fill the screen with projectiles would’ve been fair if not for the fact that his attributes are broken-as-fuck as well.

If he had been, say, fragile for instance; then I could’ve bit my tongue and said he was a decent boss.

But no, they gave him the ability to execute all of his moves with frame-by-frame precision and timing, and they made him absurdly powerful and durable.

Makes you just wanna' get him on the ground and do this to him!

When I finally beat Magaki for the first time, I didn’t feel any sense of pride in my achievement.

I felt like I had just lost an hour of my life to a barely decent game, and truth be told I think I actually recall saying to myself:

“Good. Now I can get on with my life and never play this shitty game ever again.”

While I actually did go back and play the game a few times here and there, rest assured, the moment King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match came out, I pretty much lost interest in every other game in the series outside of ’98.

Nowadays I don’t have much interest in any of them…

A bit too much of this was going on I'm afraid...

Magaki is admittedly not quite as hard as his #3 spot likely deserves, but in my mind no other fighting game boss has caused me as much frustration and borderline physical pain as he has.

During the course of our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, I’ve stressed the fact that the best examples of genuine difficulty in boss fights are stemmed from clever and rewarding gameplay design, and not outright cheapness.

Along with Duriel from Diablo II, Magaki’s presence on this list serves as a symbol championing the power of broken game design and cheapness.

That Magaki could make me eat my words with such resounding vigor as to place him at #3 on this list is proof enough of just how motherfuckin’ cheap that pink bastard is.

In any case, here’s a video of the Apex of Pimp himself, Geese Howard; putting the hurt on Magaki as only he can:

*Gifs courtesy of Fighter’s Generation, the finest fighting game site I’ve ever known.*

Filed under: Games, The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Early Avengers Poster Makes Me Feel All Warm And Fuzzy Inside

Photo courtesy of Toplessrobot.com. Hope they don't mind...

It’s funny, even though this is nothing but a (official) photoshopped mock-up of what a real poster for The Avengers might look like; it actually looks kind of good to me.

These days I find myself actually consciously trying harder to be excited/positive about things; and it’s quality products like this one that make said task just a little bit easier to manage.

Probably the coolest part about the poster, at least to me; is that it serves as my first real look at what all the live-action versions of the Avengers look like next to one another.

While I have no idea whether the art design for all the Avengers tie-in films has been directed by the same crew/individual, I must say; the character designs gel together quite nicely.

With the exception of maybe Thor, the costumes all bear a weighty, leathery, almost utilitarian feel to them that gives them that always appealing combo of being “ornate, yet plausible.”

Much unlike anything seen in Final Fantasy, which tends to throw "plausible" out the window.

Hell even Hulk, with his more streamlined Incredible Hulk look; seems to fit in quite well.

Hawkeye’s digs seem perhaps a little too subdued for my tastes, however I can definitely understand why Marvel would want to turn down the guy’s purple quotient; as much like Jem, in the comics it is truly outrageous.

Truly, Truly, Truly Outrageous!

On a side note, Iron Man’s design appears to have been altered since Iron Man 2, as evidenced by the gray patches on his collar.

Though it may just be an artist’s flub, the shape of the glow on his chest emblem looks more round than triangular to me; leading me to assume that either:

A): Tony Stark decided to reshape his new element core into a circle for aesthetic purposes.

B):  Severely inebriated and desperate for a way show the world how fat his cock is, Tony Stark decided to outfit his newest armor with one of his old and HIGHLY TOXIC palladium cores.

C):  I’m wrong, and his chest emblem is in fact triangular.

or D):  The poster artist isn’t as OCD as the average comic fan and/or hasn’t seen Iron Man 2.

My vote would go to option A, though if you’re going by some of the comics, option B is equally plausible.

Option C is of course a statistical impossibility, and was only suggested in jest.

"I am so smart! S-M-R-T!"

Anyway, I know it’s cheesy, I know it’s childish; but for whatever reason, this poster pleases me.

It’s exceedingly well designed, the colors have been tweaked to vivid perfection, and seeing all of the characters posing together makes me believe the movie could work.

Now let’s just hope Captain America doesn’t drop the fuckin’ ball next month and kill my buzz…

Filed under: Comics, Games, Movies, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Top 10 Videogame Songs, #1


A funny thing happened when I was putting together this list of my Top 10 Videogame Songs.

I changed my mind.

You see, I made the banner for this list around the time I came up with the idea for it, long before I even assembled it’s contents.

I selected the opera sequence from Final Fantasy VI for the background of the banner because I knew the song contained in that sequence was going to have a place on the list.

I had no idea what that place was going to be, just that it was going to be in there somewhere.

Color me surprised when that place just happened to be the #1 spot.

I mean, I figured the opera scene would be in my Top 5, or even the Top 3; but truth be told I honestly didn’t know it was going to be #1 until, well, yesterday.

On that note, I apologize for the banner image, as I know it likely ruined some of the surprise by consisting of an image from the #1 game on the list.

It’s not all my fault though, as a few days after I started posting on this topic, I found I kept rearranging the Top 10 as I was went along.

One thing lead to another, and by yesterday, I found I couldn’t without good reason, make this list without putting the opera scene in the top slot.

With that, I give you the #1 of our list of the Top 10 Videogame Songs:

#1. Final Fantasy VI – Aria de Mezzo Carrattere

Before you ask, no; I didn’t pick this one because it has a fancy Italian name.

I’m not a Square/JRPG whore either, so don’t try to call me on that bullshit.

The last Final Fantasy game I played, was VIII, way back in 1999.

Before that though, Final Fantasy VI was, and likely always will be; my favorite in the series.

Hell, if it weren’t for Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI would probably be my favorite console RPG of all time.

Pictured: One of many moments that make Chrono Trigger the SHIT.

Something about the characters, the design aesthetic, and unusual severity of the storyline in VI; just made it special to me.

My love for the game aside, “Aria de Mezzo Carratrere” is a brilliant song, and a gorgeous example of a story-within-a-story.

While the Super NES’ technical limitations made the lyrics of the opera laughably incomprehensible akin to the voice of the teacher from the old Peanuts cartoons, the first time I heard it in-game, it was hard not to be touched.

Sorry, couldn’t help myself…

Simply put, console games didn’t do what the opera scene did at that point in time.

In spite of the technical limitations inherent to the 16-bit era, one could very clearly see and feel the story and emotions that the creators of the game were trying to get across.

It’s like watching a Godzilla movie.

Everybody knows it’s just a guy in a rubber suit, but if you use your imagination, and play along, the artistry and craftsmanship of the miniatures and crappy effects add up to something far grander.

Pictured: ART.

Despite how far games have come, watching little 26 pixel tall sprites bounce around and pantomime their drama for us is something that, when done well; will always “do it” for me.

Anyway, for better or for worse, the opera from Final Fantasy VI is the best of my Top 10 Videogame Songs.

The strength of the lyrics and music, combined with it’s stunning contribution to the fantastic game it played a part in, not only secured it’s place on this list, but managed to (eventually) win me over and propel it all the way to the top spot.

Hopefully you all had fun reading this list.

I certainly had fun writing it, though I only hope that my pick for the #1 spot wasn’t as controversial/surprising to the rest of you as it was for me!

THANKS FOR READING!!!

Filed under: Games, Movies, Tokusatsu, Top 10 Videogame Songs, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Best Boss Music #13: Super Godzilla

Super Godzilla was one of those games that I really wanted to like.

Oddly enough, that seems to be the case for me with pretty much every Godzilla videogame I’ve ever played.

You see, even though Godzilla and Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters on the NES were both shit, the fanboy kept finding stupid reasons for me to give ’em second chances.

“Sure the gameplay is sloppy and monotonous, but c’mon; it’s motherfuckin’ Godzilla!”

As a kid, (minus the profanity) these were the kinds of thoughts that would run through my head every time I’d stick a Godzilla game in my NES.

 

Nowadays it's more like: "GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKER, WHY AM I STILL PLAYTHING THIS PIECE OF ASS!!?"

Despite the Big G’s spotty track record up to that point, Super Godzilla, in my young mind; was supposed to be the game that made up for it all.

I remember reading preview articles in Game Players and GamePro that made Super Godzilla look like the shit.

The screenshots looked sharp, the gameplay sounded fresh and unique, and the roster of monsters, while quaint by some standards; was packed with fan favorites and a host of Heisei era kaiju that had yet to gain exposure in the U.S.

Not only that, the game promised a thrilling and campy Godzilla story involving aliens taking control of Earth’s monsters, with the Earthlings responding in kind by taking control o Godzilla and piloting him via remote from the cockpit of the Super X2!

It looked and sounded like a Godzilla fans dream.

I rented Super Godzilla as soon as it became available at my local videostore, and I can honestly say; I was disappointed.

 

The first thing that hit me right off the bat, was the game’s general lack of quality in both audio and visual terms.

I mentioned that Super Godzilla looked good in stills, and I wasn’t lying.

 

HOLY SHIT!!!

The game makes extensive use of extremely large and detailed character portraits for Godzilla and all of his Toho frat brothers, however therein lies the problem:

The character graphics consist almost exclusively of barely animated, or worse yet; “Ken Burns-ed” animation cycles.

You see, the core gameplay of Super Godzilla consisted of 2 basic functions:

Finding and then fighting the enemy monster of each level.

While one would think this would be an action-packed process, Toho made the decision to structure the “finding” aspect of the game as sort of a grid-based strategy game, and worse yet; made the “fighting” section a barely interactive mashup of repetitive cutscenes.

You remember the lengthy and unskippable summon cutscenes from Final Fantasy VII?

Well, imagine a fighting system where all you do watch 4-5 shitty looking summons over and over and over again, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what it’s like to play Super Godzilla.


Rest assured, one can take time to make many a sandwich while playing Super Godzilla…

Okay fine, the “fighting” in Super Godzilla has at least some level of interactivity to it, but believe when I say it; it’s not much.

Basically, when one enters into combat with an enemy monster, the screen morphs from the overhead map to a 2D sprite-based fighting game layout.

Pictured: The Thrilling Battle Screen...

From this screen, the player can make use of 3 buttons and maneuvers:

Punching, blocking, and using items.

While blocking is self-explanatory, landing a punch is required in order to initiate the aforementioned cutscene attacks, which are empowered by the player’s “fighting spirit” meter at the bottom of the player’s HUD.

As one would expect, given it’s massive place on the HUD, the “fighting spirit” meter is the crux of the Super Godzilla “fighting” system.

When one advances towards one’s opponent in Super Godzilla, the player’s “fighting spirit” increases, gradually falling when the player retreats.

Upon landing a punch on the enemy, the player’s “fighting spirit” will freeze in place, inviting the player to retreat and open up the attack command window at the center of the HUD.

Depending of the volume of the player’s “fighting spirit,” as well as the distance that they retreat, the player will be given more powerful attack commands to select from.

In all Godzilla has access to 4 attack commands: tail whip, body slam, fire breath, and hyper fire breath from weakest to strongest respectively.

Sadly, no tail slide though...

Items gathered from the “finding” phase of each level consist of instant use health power-ups, defense boosters, and a “fighting” spirit

Perhaps the worst part of the gameplay system, was the addition of enemy UFOs as random encounter enemies in most of the stages.

Taking only 1 hit to destroy, these UFOs absolutely shit ALL OVER what little enjoyment was to be derived from the “finding” portion of each level.

I don’t mind random encounters in RPGs, but when said encounters involve only 1 enemy type, and a pathetically weak one at that; I just don’t get it.

I suppose it doesn’t help that many of the levels in Super Godzilla have time limits, making these random encounters have zero possibility of doing damage to you, but still serving to potentially end your game through wasting your motherfucking time…

Make no mistake, finding and killing the Mothership hidden in each stage is deeply advised, as it is the only thing that will stop you from having to fight baby UFOs every 5 seconds.

 

KILL IT WITH FIRE.

Despite the bland and painfully slow-paced gameplay, Super Godzilla did have a few little things going for it.

For instance, during the “finding” portion of each level, the player was often free to choose their own path in maneuvering the map, making item gathering and avoidance of stationary enemy emplacements entirely up to the player.

In addition to this, there’s a great deal of variety in the tasks heaped on the player on their plodding march to finding the enemy monster.

For instance, in the 3rd stage, you are required to raid (read: step on) several enemy bases in order to free a captive scientist.

In the 4th stage, the player must do battle with a pair of Battra’s, however if one is quick enough in reaching the second while it is still in it’s chrysalis, it is in fact possible to destroy it before it hatches.

These variations in gameplay also extend to the “fighting” segments of the game in the form of each enemy monster having certain attacks in Godzilla’s repertoire that are ineffective against them.

Thankfully, most of these variations are fairly logical, with Biollante’s superior mass making her invulnerable to Godzilla’s body slam attack, and Battra’s speed making them unable to be hit by anything but Godzilla’s most powerful fire breath attack.

Yeah, somehow I don't think running into it would be an advisable course of action...

Toho can suck a dick though for making Mechagodzilla able to counter Godzilla’s basic fire breath.

I know he did in the movies, but for fuck’s sake; didja’ really have to make the fire breath one of the most common attacks to pop up in the attack window?

Anyway, the 1 huge plus Super Godzilla has going for it, (besides being a Godzilla product) is the inclusion of, well; Super Godzilla.

During the last few stages of the game, the player can go out of their way to obtain a series of power ups to transform plain ‘ole Godzilla into Super Godzilla.

What's this, Godzilla's evolving!? Godzilla evolved into SUPER Godzilla!

Bearing a truly awesome design, that was largely transplanted into the design for Space Godzilla the year after the game’s release, Super Godzilla granted the player access to a brand new set of attack commands, a Mega Buster like chargeable punch, and the ability to walk through buildings and obstacles on the map screen without taking damage.

Most of Super Godzilla was tough to slog through, but for what it’s worth, the final battle against the Super Godzilla exclusive, and exceedingly well-designed giant monster, Bagan; is a far better one than the game probably deserved.

Say what you will about the game, Bagan was pretty tight lookin'...

That being said, while Super Godzilla does in fact have a truly horrible soundtrack, with many tracks serving to utterly butcher some truly classic Godzilla themes; the boss music played during the Bagan fight is actually… good.

That’s right, I said something was “good” in Super Godzilla.

Seriously, give it a listen:

While it’s honestly not a great piece of Super NES music by any standards, it’s easily the best track in the game; and has a pretty serious sound to it that’s rarely heard in 16-bit game music.

I love the opening notes, and how bizarre and frankly, “alien” it feels, making it quite appropriate for the climax piece of a giant monster alien invasion story.

Perhaps the track’s biggest accomplishment though, is that it actually sounds like Godzilla music.

Godzilla movies have played host to some of Japan’s finest composers, and as such, have always bore a distinctive and powerful sound.

Many of the tracks in Super Godzilla feel generic and flat, but the final boss theme has a “big-ness” in it’s instrumentation that make it sound like a cross between the trumpet heavy orchestrations of Akira Ifukube and the synth-heavy work of Takayuki Hattori.

Anyway, Super Godzilla is one of those games that I want to like.

I know it sucks, but the Godzilla fan in me still tries to find ways to redeem it.

While most pro-Super Godzilla arguments are likely to be filled to the brim with bullshit, let it be known that any argument citing the final boss theme as a redeeming factor have at least that going for them.

"You WILL play Super Godzilla, and LIKE IT."

Filed under: Best Boss Music, Games, Movies, The Best Track in the Game, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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!

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

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!


Filed under: Games, Movies, The Top 25 NES Tracks, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Best Boss Music #8: Blue Dragon

Today we’re gonna’ do something a little bit different.

Today we’re going to be talking about a game I’ve never played and know close to nothing about!

Yup, still retarded.

That’s right, we’re gonna’ be talking about Blue Dragon on the Xbox 360!

That being said, instead of looking over the wikipedia page, and copy-pasting the whole thing to make it look like I know what I’m talking about, I’d rather just be honest and leave this game as the mystery that it is.

As far as I am aware, Blue Dragon is a straightforward Japanese RPG with character designs by the master of musclebound, capillary popping disaster, Akira Toriyama.

Yes, the Dragonball guy.

Wow, he's hella' dorky lookin'.... Never knew that.

Anyway, the game received decent reviews, but for the most part is best remembered as one of the first JRPG’s on  the Xbox 360.

Aside from those little factoids, I know nothing about Blue Dragon.

I’ve never played it, watched it be played, or even listened to the soundtrack.

I have however listened to one piece of music from the game, a boss theme by industry legend Nobuo Uematsu entitled “The Seal is Broken.”

Yes, the Final Fantasy guy.

Haha, he looks like one of my uncles or some shit.

If you’ve read some of my other posts, then you know that Final Fantasy isn’t really my favorite game franchise of all time, particularly in the post-VI era.

My opinion of Mr. Uematsu’s music is largely mirrors my feelings towards the Final Fantasy games.

He gets a lot of press, and there’s no doubt that he’s a wonderful composer, but he’s just not really my favorite.

It’s kind of like how I feel about Hans Zimmer in regards to movie soundtracks.

Hans Zimmer: The Definition of Overexposed.

Sure he’s great and all, but I’d definitely put John Powell or Basil Poledouris higher on my list than him any day.

Anyway, my bullshit aside, “The Seal is Broken” is one damn fine piece rock opera-esque awesomeness.

Give it a listen:

The Seal is Broken

I love the energy of this music.

It has a great pace to it, steadily building, with a palpable sense of foreboding.

Based on the character designs and music alone, my guess is that Blue Dragon is not what you’d call a “dark” game, and as such, I feel that this track captures the inherently cartoony nature of Toriyama’s illustrations all too well.

Well okay, maybe the music's a little too "hard" for these designs, but hey, it's still awesome fuckin' music nonetheless.

One thing about this track, that I feel needs to be mentioned, publicly; is the fact that parts of it are eerily similar to a very well known piece of music.

It’s only a brief portion of it, but still, my goofy ears won’t let me deny the similarities.

Tune to 3:32 of “The Seal is Broken” and listen until 3:40.

Now, listen to the chords of the Top Gun Anthem, and tell me there aren’t similarities between the two.
The Top Gun Anthem

Say what you will, I made this connection the first time I heard “The Seal is Broken,” and God help me, I’ll probably believe in it until the day I die.

Anyway, that’s all I gotta’ say about the mystery game that is Blue Dragon.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Filed under: Best Boss Music, Games, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Donate