Azn Badger's Blog

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Small Victory On Black Friday

Pictured: A big pile of crap, for half the price!

Today marked only the second occasion in which I decided to set forth into the wild and brave the insanity that is Black Friday.

Oddly enough, both times my intention in doing so was not to capitalize on the various sales events, but rather to simply take in the spectacle of watching others step over each other in hopes of acquiring a precious Tickle Me Elmo-like gift, or in the case of this year, an incredibly cheap 40″ TV.

It’s funny, whenever I think of Black Friday and other Christmas/holiday related shopping insanity, there’s one image that comes to my mind.

Said image was from one of my brother’s old Mad magazines, and to date, it serves as the definitive vision of Christmas carnage in my mind:

Pictured: "The Last Parking Space At The Mall."

It might be kind of hard to tell, as the image is kind of small, but basically “The Last Parking Space At The Mall” is a brilliantly rendered Norman Rockwell-esque painting depicting a man shooting another man in a snowy parking lot while his wife attempts to pull him back into the car.

Mad Magazine is usually good for a snicker or 2, but this painting was easily one of the most brilliant fuckin’ comedic images I can recall from my youth.

Sadly though, I didn’t see holiday mayhem of any kind this time around.

I did however get to laugh at the people standing in line surrounding the Best Buy.

Seriously man, I spent close to 3 hours in the general area, and I never once saw that line shrink an inch.

Needless to say, I never even got to set foot in Best Buy this morning.

Oh well, thanks to holiday “tent culture,” virtually all of the really good deals in there are literally impossible to acquire without spending the night outside the building.

Or at least without bringing one of these...

Which brings me to the deals that I actually did get a chance to capitalize on.

I initially set out to “do” Black Friday with a friend of mine around midnight.

Said friend ultimately ended up walking away with 2 boxes of half price golf balls, while I bought absolutely nothing.

Fortunately, there were some other sales going on in the U-district at a reasonable hour that I ended up checking out after catching a few much needed hours of sleep.

First, I went to Zanadu comics, where a 50% off everything sale was going on from 8AM to 12PM.

In case you couldn’t tell from the image above, I ended up getting a softcover copy of the absolutely massive X-Men/Dark Avengers: Utopia, as well as the first volume of Ed Brubaker’s The Immortal Iron Fist.

Truth be told, I’m not exactly salivating over the prospect of reading either of these books, however Utopia will serve to complete my Dark Avengers trade collection, and Iron Fist is a book that, given my status as a rabid kung fu movie fan, should’ve been in my collection years ago.

All together now: "WAATAAAAAHHHH!!!!"

I’m a little wary of Utopia, as X-Men books haven’t been kind to me in the past, I don’t know, 15 goddamn years; but I’m hoping the Dark Avengers stuff will help to round things out a little.

Yes. I am in fact still made about this.

As for Iron Fist, I’ve read nothing but good about it, and I’ve been putting off reading it for a really long time; so I’m pretty sure it’s gonna’ be awesome.

Anyway, 2 good to great books forĀ 50% off = Definitely worth it in my book.

Next I went to Pink Gorilla to check out their highly variable collection of used/retro videogames.

While I haven’t found anything too special there in a few years now, I was surprised to find a perfectly good copy of Super Castlevania IV.

Outside of that though, I didn’t find anything else exciting, or failing that; worth the asking price.

Despite this, I was surprised to beĀ given a randomized coupon at the register, with the one I drew being a buy1 get 1 free!

Upon scanning the wall, I decided to pick up Donkey Kong Country 3, a game that, while inferior to the sequel (which I already own) is somewhat rare, and often prohibitively overpriced.

Lucky me, I got it for free.

Oh yeah, and I got a free poster too.

Anyway, while I’d like to say I made it through the day without spending a decent amount of money, I’m proud to say that I at least managed to save more than I spent this Black Friday.

How did you do?

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

Bernard Hopkins vs. Jean Pascal Prediction

Tonight, Bernard Hopkins will attempt to make history in being the oldest man ever to claim a major world title.

If successful, the 45 year, 11 month, and 3 day old B-Hop will claim The Ring’s Light Heavyweight title, (an unofficial title, but honestly the only one that counts) and surpass George Foreman’s Heavyweight achievement by 38 days.

All of this depends on a major “if” in the form of Hopkin’s opponent: Canadian dynamo, Jean Pascal.

The trouble with this fight, for me anyway; is the fact that in making a prediction for it, I have to find a happy medium between my feelings of what I honestly think will happen, and what I want to happen.

Unlike the Pacquiao and Margarito fight, wherein I was largely unbiased, and simply wanted to see a good fight, this time around I honestly want B-Hop to win.

I have nothing against Pascal, in fact I feel he’s a fairly exciting fighter that is a healthy element to an otherwise dead-in-the-water weight class; however as a long time fan of Hopkins, nothing would make me happier than to see Pascal lose his title to an “old man” that will likely retire without defending it, leaving the division even more fractured than before.

Despite my admittedly steep bias, here is my best attempt at a legitimate prediction:

Hopkins by split-decision.

Bernard Hopkins is a ring technician, through and through.

While he’s been an “old man” in the sport for almost a decade now, his sly and dirty tactics of butting and hitting and holding, combined with a wily and superb sense of ring generalship, have kept him well preserved.

That being said, ‘ole B-Hop’s past few fights have shown a few chinks in the armor, namely a lack of desire to win, and of course; the requisite loss of foot coordination and stamina that comes with age.

He’s still shown a capacity for putting punches together, and indeed manages to lash out with his trademark ducking right straight+headbutt+clinch combo from time to time.

Even so, he won both of those fights, and while that may not mean much given the lack of competition, when you’re 45 on the world stage every victory is a godsend.

Jean Pascal on the other hand, is a tremendously physical fighter on top of his game, with hunger in his heart after only just recently dethroning the overhyped Chad Dawson for the Light Heavyweight title.

An admitted imitator and admirer of Roy Jones, (a fight who in his prime defeated Hopkins) Pascal is an aggressive fighter that relies on his natural attributes more so than fundamental boxing skills, making him an unorthodox, if not somewhat wild fighter.

While he does in fact show shades of the Jones of old, he’s nowhere near as quick, accurate, or elusive as ‘ole Roy, making him essentially a powerful, but less economical and much easier to hit version of his idol.

With a minor history of injuries in his career, it should be noted that Pascal is also quite tenacious, and often willing to take a few to dish out some of his own.

Despite this, Pascal shows a tendency to overextend himself in some of his bouts, particularly the recent Dawson fight where he would dominate much of the contest, only to end up gassed for minutes at a time.

If you ask me, Dawson’s lack of conviction and willingness to assert his will in the ring were just as responsible for his loss that night as Pascal’s boxing skills.

So, if you put the 2 fighters together, you have an old man that’s still kind of slippery, versus an energetic young buck that tends to burn himself out.

In my book, that adds up to either an early round bludgeoning of B-Hop at the hands of Pascal ala Danny Green vs. Roy Jones, or a more boring and tactile fight where the stamina’s of both fighters even out as the fight progresses.

My money is on the latter happening.

Hopkins has done well to stay out of trouble and on his feet throughout his entire career, in fact I believe that’s a large reason as to why he’s still fighting.

B-Hop finds a way to protest the judging of all of his losses, and I honestly feel that an emphatic KO defeat is the only thing that will ever convince him he’s ever legitimately lost a bout in the sport of boxing.

That being said, when it comes to “boring and tactile,” Hopkins wrote the book on the matter, which leads me to believe that Pascal will fall into the trap of fighting B-Hop’s fight.

Every fighter that has fought Hopkins has said that they were going to come out and flatten him, and basically show him no respect, yet to date none have done so.

Joe Calzaghe out-quicked and, goddamnit; legitimately outboxed him, (don’t you ever tell anyone I said that!) however he did so at a fairly tentative pace, and never thoroughly got his game going.

Being as Calzaghe was one of the great fighters of our time, (again, don’t let anyone know I said this!) and a much quicker and elusive fighter than Pascal to boot, I don’t see the big Canadian being able to get the upper hand on B-Hop any better than he did.

Then again, if he does come rushing out the gate, and try to flatten Hopkins early on, there’s a good chance the “old man” won’t be able to weather the storm as well the B-Hop of old.

Make no mistake, this result is entirely possible, as the last great performance Hopkins had was against Kelly Pavlik, who was a far slower and more linear fighter.

All it takes is one bad angle and one nasty punch…

Like I said though, B-Hop’s way too manly to take a trip down Queer Street, and Pascal’s too much of a fighter and not enough of a boxer to send him there.

In either case, expect much clinching and seemingly inane circling on the part of Hopkins, resulting in a split decision for somebody that will be heavily disputed.

That being said, I don’t see this anywhere near an exciting fight, but as with every B-Hop fight since the glory days of Don King’s Middleweight tournament in the 2000’s, I’ll find a way to watch it, and enjoy it.

 

 

 

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

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