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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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Deadly Premonition Review

Deadly Premonition is a budget game.

Plain and simple.

Described by Destructoid as a “beautiful trainwreck,” Deadly Premonition is an open world/survival-horror hybrid developed by Access Games.

I first caught word of Deadly Premonition several months ago when I sat down to watch the first part of Spoony’s (Noah Antwiler) Let’s Play of it.

To my knowledge, that first hour or so of gameplay, is the only portion of the game that Spoony has posted any footage of.

Pictured: A man that has better shit to do than play a shitty game like Deadly Premonition.

After having played, and beaten the game over the course of 30 hours of gameplay, it’s easy to see why someone would so readily drop this game.

Deadly Premonition is a game that asks a lot from the player.

It has terrible graphics.

The soundtrack is extremely repetitive and is often times far too upbeat given the seriousness of the story.

The gameplay is equally repetitive, with controls approaching Resident Evil 1 levels of clunky-ness.

Knife vs. Zombie!? Not bloody likely!

For the most part, the only 2 saving graces of Deadly Premonition, are the strength of it’s writing, especially in regards to the characters, and the design of it’s surprisingly expansive map.

While the writing in Deadly Premonition is by no means brilliant, it has a a lot going for in that it’s just so damn quirky.

David Lynch’s Twin Peaks was a huge stylistic influence on Deadly Premonition, and it shows from beginning to end.

Numerous homages are made to the TV series in the form of the game’s setting, (a Pacific Northwestern town) as well as the unexplained abundance of cherry pie.

Oh yeah, and this kind of cryptic-ass fucked up shit:

"THE, SUIT, BURNS BETTER... LOOK!!! BURN'S SUIT! BURN'S SUIT!"

To call the characters in Deadly Premonition “odd,” is to discount the power of that word.

In the game, the player takes on the role of FBI profiler, Francis York Morgan, (his friends call him York) a facially scarred man that has a strong connection to the paranormal, smokes way too fucking much, has prophetic visions by looking into his morning coffee, and has a tendency to speak to an imaginary friend name Zach, often while in the company of others.

Well, looks like we caught him doing all of the above at once. His coffee is in between his legs...

If the above character traits aren’t intriguing to you even in the slightest, then congratulations, you are the snootiest high-brow motherfucker on the planet.

Pictured: You.

The game begins as York arrives at a fictional town in Washington called Greenvale.

Greenvale has recently played host to a gruesome murder/crucifiction, the investigation of which serves as the chief subject of the plot and gameplay in Deadly Premonition.

The closest thing to nudity you'll find on this blog. Except maybe the occasional dirty Donnie Yen photo...

The actual execution of the gameplay in Deadly Premonition, is that of a sandbox-style game, married with the over the shoulder shooting mechanic of Resident Evil 4.

Though I’m not much for sandbox games, I have to say, I was fairly impressed by Deadly Premonition’s take on it.

To be fair, I think most of my enjoyment of the map in the game springs from it’s impressive recreation of a Washintonian town.

Yup, a whole lotta' trees and little else...

As a life long, Seattlite, and one time Olympian, I can say with certainty, that the developers of Deadly Premonition really got the look and feel down pat.

The sprawling country roads, surrounded by evergreen trees, the big ass farms with seemingly nothing growing in them, the not quite picturesque lakes, it’s all there.

Haven’t you ever played GTA and wondered what it would be like if it was set in your hometown?

Then again, if you grew up in South Central, there's a good chance GTA strikes pretty close to home for you.

Well, if you’re from Olympia, Nisqually, or anywhere in Eastern Washington, Deadly Premonition; while not really possessing the vast breadth of sandbox-y goodness that GTA is known and loved for, absolutely gets the look just right.

If there’s any downside to the design of the map though, it’s due to the fact that it requires the player to drive around a little bit too much.

You see, unlike GTA, which offers a myriad of distractions while traveling from point A to point B, Deadly Premonition’s map is pretty sparse.

Pictured: Grand Theft Auto's definition of "distractions."

Sure, there’s fishing mini-games scattered about, as well as the occasional dirt road or hidden item, but for the most part, you really are just driving for minutes at a time.

Pictured: Deadly Premonition's "distractions."

Remember those country roads I mentioned awhile back?

Well, you better get used to them, ’cause if you start playing Deadly Premonition, your gonna’ end up driving up and down them like no other.

Let me put it this way:

The driving in Deadly Premonition is kind of like the sailing in The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker.

It’s boring, there’s altogether too much of it, but if you can force yourself to power through it, there’s actually a pretty good game beyond it all.

A pretty good game that I WILL beat someday...

Which brings me to the review proper.

Deadly Premonition is an okay game.

It’s not great, it has a shit ton of flaws, but if you’re willing to accept the game as being the best that it’s studio could manage with what they had, then it’s actually pretty good.

Trust me, it's a lot easier to appreciate Deadly Premonition when you grew up watching shit like Ultraman.

The murder mystery storyline is fairly well developed with some pretty cool kill sequences and red herrings thrown in for good measure.

The murders in the game involve a psycho-killer cutting out the tongues of young women, stuffing their mouths with red seeds, and then somehow rigging them in Saw-esque death traps for the main players to stumble across.

In all, while actually not very graphic or bloody, most of the murders are quite unique, and indeed even shocking due to the excellent voice work and dialogue.

Pictured: Why we always knock before we go into the bathroom...

The cast of characters is quite vast, with every character in town having a unique voice, personality, and even side-missions offer you from time to time.

Like York, most of the cast are endearingly quirky, such that I found I had no trouble remembering most by name.

The game is surprisingly long, with admirable pacing that sees the first half of the game being a largely sandbox style experience, with important story beats coming at the appropriate times, and the second half taking on a more urgent, and therefore more linear and focused style of progression.

That is to say:

The game allows you the freedom you desire from the outset to get to known the lay of the land, and collect all of those hidden goodies and side-missions, but just before you get tired of slogging through all of that, the game forces you get on track and follow the main storyline.

Deadly Premonition: A Story of Male Bonding.

The storyline has a few holes in it, such that you’re left scratching your head from time to time, but when focus is left on York, or any of the other main characters, it’s actually quite good.

I was particularly impressed by how they handled the explanation for York’s imaginary friend, Zach.

While the actual explanation was kind of muddled, I found it to be effective from a purely conceptual standpoint.

If there’s any one thing that I need to slap Deadly Premonition across the face about, it’s the game’s shooting mechanic.

About half of the gameplay in Deadly Premonition consists of Resident Evil 4 style shooting/adventuring segments.

During these sections, the player is confronted with goofy looking backwards walking ghouls that attack you by shoving their hands down your throat.

"GIMME' BACK MY TIC-TACS!"

There’s only a handful of enemy skins, and only about 2-3 different enemy types throughout the game, resulting in a bland and repetitive experience.

Worse yet, most of the enemies have horribly inflated lifebars, resulting in boring gameplay that takes forever to get through.

No joke, I put a third of a 300 round magazine into an enemy’s head one time, only to find that I had to stop to reload before I finally killed him.

That, my friends, is called padding one’s gameplay.

Pictured: About half of the total enemies in Deadly Premonition. I'm not even joking.

Being as all of these segments take place in a Silent Hill-esque “other world,” the creators of this game may as well have omitted the shooting segments altogether, as I think it would have been more efficient to simply force the player to run away from danger.

Anyone remember Run Like Hell? Shitty game, fun premise...

Which brings me to the quick-time segments of Deadly Premonition.

They were actually quite good.

While the button variations weren’t diverse enough, (B always dodges throwing axes) their frequency and difficulty level are pretty good.

I especially enjoyed the protracted chase segments, as they were actually quite tense, and made impressive use of a split-screen effect showing both York’s and the pursuer’s perspective at the same time.

Pictured: The Bad-Ass Pursuer. Playable at one point in the game!

In all, Deadly Premonition is an impressively detailed game for a budget title.

While it lacks polish in virtually every area, it’s easy to see where the developers had good ideas, but lacked the resources to act on them.

Requiring the player to eat, sleep, shave, and clean their wardrobe regularly was a nice touch that went well with the game, being as it forces you to play out every minute of every day in-game.

Pictured: My favorite suit in the game.

Well, that is unless you’re smoking to speed up time.

I enjoyed the deadline system for the story missions, as I found it fun to cruise around town all day doing side-missions, only to take a look a the clock and discover I only had 5 minutes before I had to be at the old mansion for an important story event.

Despite all of my praise though, Deadly Premonition is definitely only for those who, like me; can find it within themselves to play the game and accept it’s problems.

I picked up the game because I was intrigued by it’s characters and story.

I accept that it’s hideous, often times boring, and only has about a half dozen tracks of music.

Because of this, I simply cannot recommend Deadly Premonition to anyone but myself.

It’s not a game for everyone, but I happened to enjoy my time with it.

I’ll probably never touch it again, but it was fun while it lasted…

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The Best Track in the Game #6: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Yes, that is in fact a WWF European Championship belt. Hey, everybody needs a hobby.

After yesterday’s Zelda rant, I figured I should follow thing’s up with a Best Track in the Game of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

A Link to the Past was the only Zelda game released on the Super NES, and with good reason.

For Zelda fans, everything they remembered and loved about the original NES Zelda, as well as a host of new improvements and innovations that have since become adopted as standard elements in nearly every Zelda game since.

Despite the fact that the publication was owned and operated by Nintendo, it’s worth noting that Nintendo Power magazine had A Link to the Past rated as their #1 game for no less than 5 consecutive years.

That’s roughly a whole console generation to you and me.

Well... Maybe just me.

A Link to the Past was one of those games that I just didn’t get.

As a child, I played A Link to the Past exclusively at my Double Dragon neighbor’s house, thusly placing me in a positive and energetic environment to play the game, while at the same time limiting my actual hands-on face time with it.

As a result, I didn’t end up hating A Link to the Past the same way I did The Legend of Zelda, and Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link.

Don’t get me wrong, the game still made me feel dumb, just not to the same extent as those that came before it.

I don't think this guy needed help to feel dumb. God rest his soul.

We already went over that yesterday though, so for today we’re gonna’ keep things on a positive note.

For the most part.

Improvements to the gameplay of A Link to the Past included a greatly expanded inventory of unique items and equipment, including the Pegasus Boots for running, and the wicked-awesome Hookshot for, well, hooking and shooting things.

Yeah, even I thought the Hookshot was pretty pimp.

Not as cool as the motherfuckin' Sky Hook though!

Like previous games in the series, secret passages and sealed off areas were scattered across the map.

This time around however, much of the player’s ability to explore the environment was largely tied to the abilities given to them by various items they acquire throughout the adventure.

For instance, those black stones that I mentioned in yesterday’s post, were only able to be picked up upon acquiring the Titan’s Mitt in one of the games earlier dungeons.

8TH. FUCKING. DUNGEON

Whatever man, fuck you.¬† I beat the game eventually…

In addition to the new equipment, the gameplay was also enhanced¬† by the expansion of Zelda’s famous dungeons into multi-tiered structures with numerous floors.

This element of the gameplay not only increased the overall size of the game, (which was already made larger by the increased storage capacity of the Super NES’ cartridges) it also had a hand in enhancing the complexity of some puzzles.

A common element to many puzzles in A Link to the Past involved dropping down to lower floors in the dungeon from specific locations to find otherwise unreachable rooms or treasures.

In many cases, both as a child and just recently when I finally finished the game, I found that my simple, non-Zelda attuned mind had difficulty memorizing the layouts of multi-tiered dungeons, largely due to the top-down view.

First screen of the game: "Holy shit! I'm lost!"

From a bird’s eye view, room layouts become familiar and easy to remember, however when it comes time to connect those rooms into a coherent, interconnected whole, I just couldn’t do it.

I know, I know, “Use the map dumbass.”

Well, for your information, I did, and it helped sometimes, but not when I got lost.

Speaking of “lost,” did I mention that A Link to the Past introduced the popular Zelda concept of “The Dark World?”

It's okay, I don't know what the hell this is either. It's got that one dude from Scarface in it though, so yay!

The Dark World in A Link to the Past, was a unique concept that took the classic overworld map of Hyrule used in the previous games in the series, and effectively doubled it in size.

You see, a key element in the storyline of A Link to the Past involves Hyrule’s resident douchebag, Ganon, and his ownership of a “Golden Power” that created a twisted parallel world.

This parallel world became layered on top of the original Hyrule, and could be accessed by way of numerous portals scattered across the map, as well as through the use of the awesome Magic Mirror.

Magic Mirror, more like Magic "Get The Fuck Out of Jail Free" Mirror. Bless you Nintendo...

By giving the player two maps that they could transport between at will, Nintendo succeeded in not only creating a massive game world, but also in pissing me off by creating various puzzles and secrets that could only be solved or discovered through careful observation and manipulation of how the two worlds connected.

Trust me, it always sucks to see something cool just down the hill, only to find that it’s inaccessible unless you jump back and forth between the two worlds and put your non-linear thinking cap on.

My non-linear brain gets stumped by “creamy” or “chunky.”

SUPER CHUNK!!!? Man, now I'll never be able to decide...

As icing on the Zelda cake, A Link to the Past featured a wonderfully composed and technically advanced soundtrack for it’s time.

Koji Kondo, the legend that brought us nearly every major Mario and Zelda soundtrack, served as A Link to the Past’s composer.

... Okay, apparently he's also a fuckin' Nazi. Go figure.

Like many of the video games from major franchises of the time, A Link to the Past’s soundtrack was a thematic mix of old and new.

Many of the tracks and audio cues (I.E. the “item get” and “secret uncovered” cues) present in the previous games were remixed to great effect.

Fortunately, Mr. Kondo also succeeded in creating a number of brand new tracks that managed to live up to expectations, with some, like the Hyrule Castle theme, being utilized in future games, thusly securing their place in thematic history.

That being said, I can’t believe we’re already there, but it’s time for the Azn Badger to reveal that the Best Track in the Game is

Overworld Theme (Dark World Version)

Why?

*Warning!* Cock-sucking up ahead! *Warning!*

The Dark World theme is the Armored Armadillo stage theme of A Link to the Past.

You listen to it a fuck ton of times throughout the game, and yet you relish every moment of it.

Me saying that about a piece of music featured in a game I mostly hate, speaks volumes as to the quality of this track.

I love that it has an element of severity, of, dare I say it, “darkness,” that seems to resonate from the faux midi strings.

The Dark World Theme is a terrific action and adventure track that goes together all too well with the bizarre and hostile landscape it inhabits.

End cock-sucking.

Runner-Up:

Overworld Theme

Based on it’s pedigree, most would expect me to declare the Super NES version of The Overworld Theme as The Best Track in the Game for A Link to the Past.

However, in my opinion, I feel that this particular remix is a little weak when compared to some other versions.

The original Overworld Theme was tinny and hollow, but it had a strength to it, a soul, that made it timeless.

This version feels a little too “pokey” to me, like it really is just the theme music of a little boy traipsing through the woods on a bright sunny day.

To me, the Zelda Theme has always been about bombast and adventure, about a larger than life fantasy that demands a bold and powerful theme so audacious that it would sound downright ridiculous when played over anything pertaining to real life.

Unfortunately, no one told these guys.

In my eyes, the Zelda Theme has yet to be done justice, even when presented in orchestral form:

To me, this version has the appropriately “big” sound to it, however it’s conducted far too slow a pace.

It’s a wonderful composition, and many great renditions of it exist, however I feel that we have yet to see the definitive version of the Zelda Theme.

That being said, that’s all I’ve got to say about The Best Track in the Game this time around.

Have a good night watching Lost and not reading my blog.

Imma’ watch my brand spankin’ new DVD of Fire of Conscience or some shit.

Payce.

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