Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Used Game Store Grand Opening Today!

Pictured: My buddy posing with a Halo dude. No, I don't ACTUALLY know Wes Studi. One can dream though...

Today I was fortunate to have attended the grand opening of a new used game store in my neighborhood.

Technically it was actually re-opening of a currently existing store, but in all fairness the changes made to the building were extensive to the point of being a brand new facility.

The store was called Game Gurus, and to my surprise; they went out of their way to throw a little party for their grand opening.

There were free hot dogs and popcorn, 50 cent games for sale in the parking lot, (mostly crap, but even so, 50 cents for a 360 game is pretty good regardless) and a raffle giveaway every 10 minutes.

For what essentially amounts to a mom and pop videogame store, I was amazed by the great lengths that the owners went to in making a good first impression.

While I was mulling about in front of the store, rooting through the cheap games my friend and I, who shall henceforth be referred to as Wes Studi; happened to notice an enthusiastic fellow customer perusing the wares while wearing what appeared to be a ODST getup.

Wes Studi insisted I take a photo of the 2 of them together, and as you can see at the top of this post; I did just that.

For a guy that’s not really up on cosplay, I have to say; they guy had some pretty snazzy digs.

Seriously man, the guy had some sort of microphone system built into the helmet that made him sound all loud and bell diver-ish.

Anyway, as impressive as the outdoor festivities were, the actual store itself was something to behold.

Though the shelves and inventory were arranged much like a typical Gamestop, there were a lot of little bells and whistles in Game Gurus that will no doubt lead to the risk of theft; but were nevertheless enticing to potential customers like myself.

For instance, throughout the store there were several monitors hung from the ceilings, each with a playable game console and single controller hanging from the ceiling like a mobile.

I saw lots of people messing around with these demo rigs, and it put a smile on my face to see little kids stand on their tippy-toes to try and get a grip on the dangling controllers.

In addition to this, there was also free to play, 2 player MAME arcade rig with Street Fighter Alpha 2 loaded on it.

I played Wes Studi a few times, and though my joysticks’ kick buttons weren’t functioning, I had a lot of fun.

By the way, I won every round.

*ANYWAY* On our way out, Wes Studi and I also took a minute to check out the “back room” of the store, where they store not porn; but rather a cache of about 6 Xbox 360’s running Black Ops, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and a few other shooters.

From what I understood, all of these rigs are free to play on the weekends, which in my opinion; is a great gesture to make the store out to be a neighborhood hang out for the kids.

Despite all the fun toys scattered about, the one thing that made me think to myself, “I might have to come back here sometime;” was the fact that the inventory was pretty solid.

While obscure consoles like the Turbografx 16 and Wonderswan weren’t on display, pretty much every major American console from the 8-bit era up was for sale, along with countless games to go with them.

Best of all, they had seemed to have a fairly robust selection of Super NES titles, with many of the rarer titles coming with their original packaging.

While I saw some extraordinarily rare stuff there, Wes Studi and I both ended up walking away with pretty basic stuff.

Having no job will do that to yah’…

Wes picked himself up a copy of Eternal Darkness, Mega Man X: Command Mission, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, while I got Pitfall: The_Mayan_Adventure, Gradius III, and X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse at a special 2-for-1 price.

Nothing special, but I saved a few bucks and walked away happy regardless.

All in all, I was wholeheartedly impressed with all the love and hard work that obviously went into the new Game Gurus store.

I sincerely thank the owners for their efforts, not just to make a good neighborhood store; but to reach out to the kids in the area and provide a fun place for them to hang out.

Back in my day, if I wanted to go to an arcade my only option was a laundromat with Primal Rage and Area 51.

Given that it’s within walking distance of my house, and the fact that Pink Gorilla’s inventory has been kind of iffy in the Super NES area as of late; I could see myself doing a lot of my retro game shopping at Game Gurus from now on.

That’s not a knock on Pink Gorilla, ’cause don’t get me wrong, I love them; but I’m jus’ sayin’ is all…

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5 Words That Sound Cooler Than Their Meaning

Ever notice how every once in awhile you run across a word that sounds really fuckin’ badass, only to discover later on that it’s actual meaning is equal parts pathetic and absurd?

I don’t know if it’s just me, but this happened to me a whole helluva’ lot when I was little.

That being said, the following is a brief list of some words fitting the above description, most of which I first encountered as a young badger.

#1. Reticulated

This is what I think of when I think "reticulated." A big fuckin' snake killing the shit out of Owen Wilson.

Definition: Constructed, arranged, or marked like a net or network.

You know what the longest snake in the world is?

While it might be wrong, given that I read it almost 20 years ago; my Snakes issue of Zoobooks taught me that the world’s longest breed of snake, was the Reticulated Python.

Animal kingdom factoids like this was really important to me as a kid, but apparently learning the meaning of words like reticulated wasn’t; ’cause it took more than a few years for me to discover it’s definition.

I remember thinking the word reticulated meant something along the lines of “really fuckin’ big,” or “seriously fuckin’ savage.”

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Reticulated Python’s name simply referred to the characteristics of the pattern drawn across it’s scales.

#2. Hyperbole

That's a hyperbole if I've ever seen one...

Definition: An extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally, as “to wait an eternity.”

Do you know what what the term “hyper” means to child raised in the era of super saiyans and hyper combos?

It refers to something crazy fuckin’ awesome (and destructive) that most likely requires a super combo meter to perform, that’s what!

When I first heard the word hyperbole, my young mind immediately thought it was some sort of secret Street Fighter move, or failing that; some sort of secret X-Men vs. Street Fighter move.

At some point in my struggle to define the word hyperbole; I came to the conclusion that:

“Hey, Magneto has his Hyper-Grab; maybe there’s some sort of super combo version of it I haven’t seen called Hyper-Bow-Lee!”

Pictured: Magneto, warming up his "hyper-bow-lee."

Yeah, I played a lot of fighting games back in the day…

Actually, I’m pretty sure the first time I ran across the word was in written form; whereupon I most likely pronounced it as “hyper-bowl.”

I consider myself a pretty good speller nowadays; but back in the day I was a shithead just like everyone else.

#3. Isosceles

"Man, that guy's so isosceles; it's just plain unfair!"

Definition: Having two sides equal.

“Isosceles Kramer…”

That’s all I needed to hear to start thinking isosceles was the coolest fuckin’ word ever.

Sure, I learned it’s meaning at some point in math class; but that doesn’t mean I ever made any attempt to retain that knowledge.

You see, numbers and I have feuding like an Irishman and, well… Another Irishman, for as long as I can remember.

That is to say, despite my Azn-ness; math has always been one of my weaknesses.

Despite this, thanks to Seinfeld; I’ve maintained a healthy relationship with the word isosceles.

Unlike most of the other words on this list, I never came up with my own interpretation of it’s meaning.

In all honesty, from the time I first heard it up until the present, there really hasn’t been a time when I was unfamiliar with it’s meaning; but even so, for such a slick-ass sounding word, isosceles has a pretty pathetic meaning.

#4. Abdicate

Above: “Abdication” at it’s finest….

Definition: To relinquish formally a high office or responsibility.

Did you ever see that episode of Hey Arnold! where Eugene was obsessed with the Arnold Schwarzenegger-inspired movie character, “The Abdicator”?

Well, I did; more than a few times at that, and it was this episode of the show that first introduced me to the word abdicate.

Just like I’d imagine the character Eugene felt, for whatever reason; the name abdicator sounded like a believable superhero to me.

Then again, I’m pretty sure any word that ends with an “-or” has the appropriate amount of manly “oomph” to it to work as a a superhero name.

Anyway, I remember that the actor that plays the abdicator actually learns the meaning of the word abdicate at some point during the episode; leading to me first hearing the word and learning it’s definition in the space of 20 minutes or so.

While I know the definition well now, thanks to Hey Arnold!; to this day I still get a kick out of thinking back to the brief time in my life when the word abdicate referred to “beasting on someone mightily in a Schwarzennegger-ian fashion.”

#5. Dodecahedron

Let's see, it's one part Destoroyah, two parts Queen Slug-For-A-Butt, and a billion parts retarded...

Definition: A polyhedron with 12 faces.

The above image represents what I thought dodecahedron meant before my math teacher had to go ahead an’ spoil it for me.

Yeah, I was a pretty fucked up/retarded kid.

... And apparently I was a very imaginative speller as well.

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Thoughts On Marvel Vs. Capcom 3

It’s been 10 long years, but it’s finally happened:

Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 has finally become a reality.

While the overly dramatic statement above may speak to the contrary, let it be known; the Azn Badger has never felt any sort of excitement regarding the release of MVC3.

You see, I used to be a hardcore fighting game fan.

While I still bear a great deal of love for the characters of fighting games past, as I find them to be some of the most versatile and long-lived icons in all of gaming; when it comes to my actual skills as a player of fighting games, I’ve never been anything more than average.

That didn’t stop me from playing fighting games like a mad man… Up until the release of Marvel vs. Capcom 2.

You see, I have this friend; a Korean from Up The Street, (henceforth referred to as KUTS) who sort of ruined fighting games for me.

Like many Koreans tend to do, he became enamored with the mechanics of the game, to the point in which dedicated himself to becoming an utter beast at the game.

Seriously, the guy’s been competitive with Top 10 Evo players.

Fielding his Storm-Magneto-Sentinel team, KUTS would go on to repeatedly thrash me in MVC2, and virtually any other fighting game; in such emphatic fashion, as to utterly crush my desire to play fighting games with any degree of seriousness from that point forward.

That being said, KUTS has been consistently playing MVC2 for the past decade.

Or at least until today, when it’s long awaited (or in KUTS’ case, dreaded) sequel was finally released.

Friend that he is, KUTS was kind enough to invite me over to play a few rounds of MVC3 with him.

Introductory reminiscences aside, here are my thoughts, as well as some thoughts from my buddy KUTS, regarding our impression of MVC3 thus far:

Gameplay

MVC2 is regarded as one of the most hardcore of fighting games.

It’s gameplay is some of the fastest around, and the precision required in it’s button inputs are tuned to near perfection in the eyes of many gamers.

It’s this frenetic, yet exacting gameplay that makes MVC2 one of the least accessible, but most rewarding fighting games to date.

That being said, when you take the pinnacle of fighting game precision, and “dumb” it’s mechanics down in favor of creating a simpler, and more accessible game; the end result is a game that will appeal to fighting game novices, and likely infuriate experienced players weened on more nuanced games.

Needless to say, both KUTS and I were largely unhappy with the mechanics of MVC3.

While I’m certainly no expert player at any fighting game, I noted a great deal of frustration coming off of my buddy KUTS as we played; largely due to the slower gameplay and questionable control accuracy.

If I were to compare the experience of playing MVC3 to any other fighting game, it’d have to be the crap-fest known as Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, and the bore-fest that is Street Fighter IV.

Like both of the aforementioned games, MVC3’s control feel as if they “help” you a little too much.

What I mean to say is, in all 3 of these games; it often feels like the system gives you the benefit of the doubt for technically flawed or incomplete button inputs.

While Street Fighter IV requires a very precise sense of timing to execute effective combos, I can’t tell you how many times I found mysel pulling off special attacks, or complex chains in these games; seemingly by accident.

Make no mistake, even if I’m not an expert, I know how to play most fighting games; and few things frustrate me more than playing a fighting game seems to want to play itself.

Seriously, KUTS and I were joking that you could probably pull off a hadoken in these games simply by holding forward and mashing the punch button.

In addition to the stupid-ification of the gameplay mechanics, MVC3 also takes things a step farther by changing up the control scheme a little bit.

Assists are now assigned their own buttons, with the depressing of either of which for a second or so resulting in the tag command.

To my knowledge, there is only 1 kick button now, a button which I found myself rarely using for whatever reason.

Finally, launch attacks, formerly a command executed by pressing down-forward and fierce punch; have been given they’re own button as well.

While I found the launch and kick button situation to be odd, and difficult to wrap my head around, I’m guessing the changes were made to appeal to fighting game novices.

Of these changes, the one that I found to be somewhat intuitive was the merging of the tag and assist buttons.

Maybe it’s my tiny Japanese hands, but the simultaneous button presses required for the tag function in previous Vs. games was always something I had trouble with; making this simplification a welcome one in my opinion.

One last note:

The game seems slower, and super jumps are harder to direct in a Castlevania, momentum-based sort of way…

Roster

The roster of MVC3 is a decent mix of the classic and the eclectic.

Seriously, count me in as one of the people that thought we’d never see the likes of Dormannu in a videogame.

Oh yeah, and SUPER MAD PROPS to whoever got Capcom to put Taskmaster in the game.

There are around 20 fewer combatants this time around, with more variation between each entrants play styles serving to balance things out in some capacity.

While I can’t speak to the effectiveness of any of the characters as of yet, it’s worth noting that many of the character’s attributes seem a little unbalanced.

For instance, Phoenix is easily one of, if not the fastest character in the game; however she also happens to be fragile as tissue paper.

Seriously, one time I managed to take her down to half health with only 6 weak punches, using Viewtiful Joe no less.

Not only that, Magneto has been nerfed in every way imaginable, and Thor seems overpowered, despite his godly-status.

All that aside, I’m decently satisfied with the roster at this point.

Capcom did a good job of varying the play styles of the characters, and many are represented well via their movesets and animations.

I will say this though, Chris Redfield’s voice clips are hysterical.

Seriously, with phrases like “Eat it!”, “Taste it!”, and “Suck it!”; the man is a poster boy for the UFC generation.

Move over Brock, there’s a new meathead in town…

KUTS’ Team Thus Far:

Storm, Sentinel, and MODOK or Storm, Sentinel and She-Hulk.

Closing Thoughts

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a game for fighting game/Marvel fans, not the hardcore.

While it has yet to be seen what strategies or nuances can be uncovered in the gameplay for MVC3, if you ask me; or my buddy KUTS, whatever’s there isn’t going to measure up to MVC2.

That’s not to say MVC3 isn’t a worthy effort, as it is; it’s just not the same Marvel.

I will give it this though, MVC3 does have it’s predecessor beat in the presentation department.

10 years makes a world of difference in the world of videogames, and while I was fully prepared to hate the aesthetic of MVC3 based on it’s preview footage, I found I warmed up to it after awhile.

The character models aren’t as detailed as most contemporary fighting games, but the menus are designed well, the voicework is largely acceptable, and the damage effects and splashiness of the special attacks are actually quite stunning at times.

Consider that the one compliment I pay to MVC3.

Anyway, these were just my thoughts, feel free to disagree, ’cause they’re my thoughts and frankly I don’t give a shit what you think.

Thanks for reading!

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The Best Track in the Game #12: Battletoads and Double Dragon

Ah, woodpaneling... So very 70's. So very, Atari...

Battletoads and Double Dragon represented a novel and innovative concept for it’s time.

Bear in mind, this was long before the days of the Marvel vs. Capcom, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, and the general cross-overy nature of the Super Smash Bros. series.

Basically it's like this. I assure that's not 2 different kinds of poop.

By taking 2 action game franchises, and marrying their character rosters and gameplay styles, the folks over at Tradewest and Rare succeeded in accomplishing 2 things:

They made the easiest, and therefore most accessible Battletoads game, and they also made the simplest, and therefore worst traditional Double Dragon game.

Bear in mind, even the very worst of the Double Dragon series (which would be Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls) is still pretty good.

Okay, I take that back. Double Dragon V was ass... The cartoon was kinda' fun though.

Put together, those 2 facts result in a game that is straightforward, fun, but ultimately kind of mediocre in comparison to the other games in it’s respective series’.

That being said, I spent a good portion of my youth playing Battletoads and Double Dragon, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

You see, when I said Battletoads and Double Dragon was the “most accessible” Battletoads game, what I really meant to say, was that it was the only game in the series that was playable to non-Super Saiyans or non-mutants.

Or Non-Super Saiyan Mutants!

The Battletoads series is well known throughout gaming circles as being SOME OF THE MOST DIFFICULT FUCKING SHIT KNOWN TO MAN, and as such, the majority of us mere mortals simply can’t play them without tearing out our hair and/or breaking the fucking controller.

Pictured: The Result of Attempting to "BEAST" Battletoads.

Personally, I was only able to get about halfway through both Battletoads and it’s Super NES sequel, Battletoads in Battlemaniacs, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t have a problem with that.

In fact I’m proud to say that I got as far as I did.

Pictured: The Day I Beat Battletoads.

Fortunately, Battletoads and Double Dragon is quite a bit easier than your traditional Battletoads game, resulting in my having beat it about a half dozen times or so.

I also beat the Battletoads arcade game way back in the day, but that was when my parents were feedin’ me quarters at a birthday party, so that doesn’t really count.

To be fair though, most of the time I was just playing Aliens vs. Predator AKA THE BEST BEAT 'EM UP EVER.

The one thing I always found be downright mean about Battletoads games, was the fact that they always bait you into thinking that the games’ gonna’ be fun and easy by giving you a cast of a colorful and cartoony characters to play as,

Zitz, Pimple and Rash: Corporate Whores.

and a laughably easy beat ’em up intro stage:


Every fuckin’ game in the series does this, and as a kid you think that’s gonna’ be the whole extent of the gameplay experience, but no, they had to go and change up the gameplay for EVERY FUCKING STAGE.

True, for the time this was a fucking revelation in gameplay variety on a single cartridge, but for those of us who were too dumb to read the back of the box, or failing that, the instruction manual, this really fuckin’ FUCKED you over somethin’ fierce.

Needless to say, I had problems learning the goddamn Turbo Tunnel,

I had problems learning fuckin’ Karnath’s Lair,

and you can sure as hell bet I never had a chance in goddamn fuckin’ Volkmire’s Inferno:

That’s right, I remember the names of the levels.

Hard to forget when they STEAL YOUR SOUL.

Anyway, the fun part about about Battletoads and Double Dragon, was that it kept the varied gameplay of the Battletoads series, but placed more of an emphasis on the sidescrolling beat ’em up action due to the inclusion of the Double Dragons.

Billy and Jimmy Lee: Proud Owners of Pimp-Ass Pompadours.

It should be noted however, that the general gameplay mechanics of the fighting are based purely off of the Battletoads games, meaning the movement controls are “slippery,” running attacks are king, and enemies can only be defeated via flashy, and sometimes dangerously slow, smash attacks.

Make no mistake, this is Battletoads and Double Dragon, not the other way around.

Some of the alternative gameplay functions that were carried over from the Battletoads series were:

A pathetically easy Turbo Tunnel segment,

Also known as, "A Complete Waste of Time."

and a brief rappelling segment akin to the Wookie Tunnel from the original Battletoads:

Complete with Toad 'Morphin Action!

In addition to this, there was also an absurdly difficult Asteroids inspired spaceship shooting sequence in one of the later stages in the game:

Believe it or not, this was the easy part of the stage!

I fuckin’ hated that stage…

Anyway, my fondest memories of Battletoads and Double Dragon, will always be playing it with my Korean buddy from up the street.

Pictured: Said Korean. He made this, not me.

For whatever reasons, he insisted on playing the game, in particular the 3rd stage, while blasting 50 Cent’s “In Da’ Club.”

Fortunately, through the wonders of technology, I can replicate the experience for you!

CLICK HERE

Anyway, the basic plot of the game involved the Battletoad’s eternal nemesis, the delicious Dark Queen, hopping in her new Rat-Ship, The Colossus, and headin’ on down to Earth to wreak some havok.

Mmmm, sexual...

Along the way though, she recruits the aid of the Double Dragon’s regular punching bags, The Shadow Warriors and their leader, the Shadow Boss (they mean “Master”).

Oh Brock, we keep finding ways to slip you in...

This of course results in the Battletoads responding by giving Billy and Jimmy Lee a jingle.

Really!? THIS, was the best you could find?

With the “Ultimate Team” assembled, our heroes set off into the cosmos to whup the Shadow Boss/Master, and kick the Dark Queen right in her sweet, luscious ass.

Mmmm, pixelated...

*Ahem!* Pardon me…

That being said, let’s get down to the real business at hand.

The Best Track in Battletoads and Double Dragon is

The Title Screen

Why?

If ever there was a track that better represented the Battletoad’s style, (aside from their theme music of course) it’d have to be the Title Screen music of Battletoads and Double Dragon.

Despite the game being the product of dual franchises, the music, graphical style, and gameplay of Battletoads and Double Dragon are almost uniformly based around the Battletoads aesthetic.

Indeed, every track in the game includes the heavy metal-ish simulated electric guitar work we’ve all come to expect from the Battletoads games, and I for one love that about it.

Seriously man, this track has wonderful sense of “let’s go kick some ass” to it that really gets you psyched to play the game.

At the same time however, it’s not an overly aggressive piece of music.

Much like the heavy metal-ish sound I just mentioned, the Title Screen track has an appropriate sense of “fun” to it that serves to remind you of the inherently cartoonish nature of the game you’re about to play.

My only complaint about the soundtrack of the game, is the fact that it doesn’t include any of either of the two franchises signature tracks.

Both the Double Dragon and Battletoad’s themes are absent from the game, as are any pieces of existing music from either franchise.

While it may seem fanboy-ish of me to say it, I’m actually surprised that Rare went ahead and made an entirely original soundtrack for the game despite the treasure trove of existing tracks they could have recycled.

Oh well, brownie points to them for putting in the extra hours.

Anyway, it’s been a long time coming, but that’s it for The Best Track in the Game #12.

To make up for the lack of Double Dragon factoids, (I felt I pretty much covered them in some of my earlier posts) here’s the intro of the old Saturday morning cartoon I used to watch way back when!:

Man that shit sucked balls…

I love how they actually went so far as to rhyme “dragon” with “braggin’.”

Also, the repetition of “You (blank) are dragon master, NOW” is just fucking awful…

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The Best MAN!!! #2

Alright, we’re back with more Best MAN action!

Today we’re tackling what is widely regarded as the greatest of all Mega Man games, and potentially one of the greatest sequels in all of videogame history, the bombastic powerhouse that is Mega Man 2.

American Box Art for Japanese Games: ASSSSSSSSS

Mega Man 2 was a massive step up in quality from it’s predecessor.

The graphics were more colorful and better animated, the roster of bosses of expanded from 6 to the now traditional 8,

*GASP!* 8 is more than 6!?

it added several new gadgets that would eventually become Rush the dog in Mega Man 3,

Stupid fuckin' dog would straight up LEAVE YOU if you called him at the wrong time...

the difficulty level was tuned to perfection, and the music, good Lord the music; was simply breathtaking.

Personally, I don’t feel it’s an understatement to say that the Title Theme of Mega Man 2 is one of the most iconic tracks in all of gaming.

It has since been adopted as the closest thing to a theme music that Mega Man has ever had, even serving as his background music in the original Marvel vs. Capcom.

Pictured: Mega Man as seen in Marvel Vs. Capcom 2.

Also, I feel that most would agree with me when I say that the background music of Stage 1 of Dr. Wily’s Castle is one of the finest pieces of NES music ever composed.

Mega Man 2 was a fantastic game, though I am still debating whether it truly is the best Mega Man game of all time.

Both Mega Man 2 and 3 were very special to me as a child, and I tend to regard them as equals in that sense.

Someday I’ll man up and take a side, but for today, we’re talkin’ about Mega Man 2, more specifically; who’s The Best MAN!

The answer is:

Quick Man

QUIIIIIICCCCKKKKK MAAAAAANNNNNNNNNN!!!!

In short, Quick Man was a beast.

His stage was crazy fuckin’ hard for all the wrong reasons,

he was generally the last of the 8 robot masters players would face, and to make matters worse he could put up a legitimately good fight if you came in unprepared.

All that, and he had the nerve to have shitty music that sounded like someone pounding out a telegram message:

So why then do I honor Quick Man with The Best MAN honors for Mega Man 2?

Surely the vote should have gone to Bubble Man on account of my childhood love for/relation to him, right?

Good God he's fat...

While that may be (regrettably) true, Quick Man gets the nod for truly the manliest of reasons:

He’s BADASS.

Pictured: Quick Man in his formative years...

Quick Man’s look and personality outside of Mega Man 2 more than make up for his somewhat shitty role in the game.

I mean look at him, he’s got the sleek and sexy design, a cocky glint in his eye, and well, uh, a fuckin’ BOOMERANG for a weapon!

Yeah that’s right, a BOOMERANG!

Don't you dare question the Hogan...

Yeah….

Quick Man = The Shit.

Don’t fuck with me pal, I know where you live…

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