Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Demon’s Souls Just Raped My Face. And Ate My Children…

*WARNING!  SPOILER ALERT!  IF YOU’RE LIKE ME AND DON’T WANT ANY HELP OR SPOILERS ON YOUR FIRST RUN THROUGH DEMON’S SOULS, PLEASE STOP READING NOW! *

A few weeks ago I typed up a post declaring the nigh impenetrably difficult Demon’s Souls to be far less difficult than I previously assumed.

While this fact still rings true, something happened today that has taken my feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction and shat all over them.

Not only that, the game proceeded to set them on fire, and eat their children in front of them, seemingly just for kicks.

Oh yeah, and then the game tore out my eyes and raped my face, once again; seemingly just for the hell of it.

I’m not gonna’ lie, the past 2 days have been a rollercoaster ride for me in Demon’s Souls.

I cleared 2 and a half worlds, dusted God knows how many bosses, and even managed to save a few NPCs.

That last part is where the aforementioned face rape-age comes in.

You see, somewhere in the Tower of Latria stage, (one of the better and more atmospheric levels if you ask me) I happened upon a caged NPC named Yurt, The Silent Chief.

Sure, he looks like a wholesome and friendly guy...

Now, as I approached Yurt, preparing to engage him in conversation; I happened to notice that some of the player created messages scrawled on the ground near him were saying some awfully nasty things about him.

“Liar.”

“Don’t bother about nothing.”

These were the cryptic and/or cautionary messages strewn about in the immediate area.

Despite this, in games with morality systems, my general aim is to be a “white knight” of sorts on my first time through, so in keeping with that trend, I decided to free Yurt.

I figured:

“He hasn’t done anything wrong as far as I can tell.  He’s cool in my book for now.”

Sadly, my naivete was not to be rewarded.

From his gravelly, foreboding voice; and his decidedly menacing armor, I figured he was at least somewhat evil, however I figured I’d get a chance to rectify whatever mistakes I made by freeing him if he were to suddenly turn outright heel on me.

After I freed Yurt, I happened upon him on the second floor of the Nexus.

He was tucked away in a corner, very much out of sight; such that I was lucky to have even spotted him.

When I spoke with him, excited to see if he’d offer me a sub-quest, or reward me with some sort of item, I was surprised to find that he had nothing helpful to offer me whatsoever.

He sold no items, he offered no services, all he said was something along the lines of:

“Life is not as precious as most may think.”

Following that episode, I would go on to visit with Yurt with every successive return to the Nexus, hopeful that he would eventually say something or do something useful.

It never happened.

At some point, my dungeon crawling in Demon’s Souls fell into a unbelievably progressive rhythm.

For several hours, my character; Ultimate Warrior, was an unstoppable juggernaut of untold epic-ry.

If only I could get him to look like this in-game...

Bosses fell by the wayside, and at least one entire realm collapsed at the might of the Ultimate Warrior, effectively making me like I had finally made the gaming beast that is Demon’s Souls, my servile bitch.

After venturing into the untread depths of the heart of the lion’s den, I reached a point where my inventory was utterly full, even with the use of strength augmenting rings; and I was forced to return to the Nexus to offload my loot.

Only a game as cruel as Demon’s Souls could come at me at my highest of highs, and tear me down to the lowest of lows in the blink of an eye.

One blink, and my eyes were out of their sockets, while Demon’s Soul’s virtual cock jackhammer-ed my frontal lobe with fervor unimaginable.

You see, Yurt The Silent Chief is an assassin.

Not only that, he is an assassin assigned to kill the survivors of Boletaria, I.E. the central cast of the game made up of static NPCs, and NPCs you’ve rescued (like Yurt himself) throughout the course of the game.

Being as I never saw him kill anyone, I have to assume that he goes about his business off-screen, that is; while you are away having the time of your life, as I was.

When I returned from my epic journey, I returned to a Nexus devoid of life.

Every single character I had saved, began learning skills from, and in a loose sense, gotten to “know,” was missing from their previously constant positions.

I searched the upper floors.

I searched all of the dead end nooks and crannies.

Nothing.

All that remained, were a few floating orbs containing what I presume were said character’s belongings.

As I charged up the stairs, already coming to realize that Yurt had to have been responsible, I took note of the background music.

It was different.

After 20 or so hours of play, one notices when the previously monotonous music changes to something totally different.

The tone was gloomy and somber, such that I could tell that I had fucked up just by the sound of it.

When I approached Yurt, I was not surprised to hear him take full responsibility for the deaths of everyone in the Nexus.

As one would expect, the last task on his agenda just happened to involve killing me, which of course led to a brief melee between myself and Yurt.

Despite the horrors of his previous actions, Yurt proved to be a less than capable opponent.

Unable to deal any sort of serious damage to my Ultimate Warrior, I crushed Yurt, took his armor, and immediately put it into storage, finding it to be utterly worthless despite it’s striking appearance.

In the blink of an eye, Yurt The Silent Chief took my “white knight” sensibilities and swathed them in darkness.

To my knowledge, everyone who died, that is; every character in the game, will never come back.

I’ll never learn any more spells.

I’ll never learn any more miracles.

I’ll never get to hear anymore retarded stories and anecdotes that I genuinely never cared to hear in the first place.

In the blink of an eye, the living symbols of my success in Demon’s Souls were taken away from me, leaving my home base a dull and lifeless husk of pitiable solemn, complete with sad-sack music to drive the point home.

I’ll continue to push forward and beat Demon’s Souls, as to my knowledge I’m very near to the end, however I find that in getting there I simply don’t care as much as I used to.

Maybe it’s just me, but beating the game, and winning the day is a helluva’ lot more rewarding when you feel like you did a good job.

As it stands, after losing every NPC in the game to a mistake I didn’t even have a chance to realize I made; beating Demon’s Souls is going to be the equivalent to finishing a race, dead last; and crawling on all fours.

Sure, you finished; but do you feel good about it?

No, you feel humiliated; and realize you need to try harder next time, if there is a next time.

I can’t wait to be done with Demon’s Souls so I can finally move on and play something else…

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The Azn Badger Has A Nickname

"WELL LET ME TELL YAH' SOMETHIN' MEAN GENE!..."

Last week, the Azn Badger was fortunate to discover that he has a nickname at work.

As a result of my repeated references to old-school WWF wrestlers, as well as my frequent impressions of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, I’ve henceforth been given the nickname of “Bonesaw” among certain social circles in the Amazon.com warehouse.

Who, or what is Bonesaw, you ask?

Well, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, (or don’t about movies half as much as I do) Bonesaw McGraw was the name of the wrestler that Randy Savage played in the first Spider-Man film.

"HEY FREAKSHOW! I GOT'CHA' FOR 3 MINUTES! 3 MINUTES OF, PLAYTIIIIIME!!!"

While he only had a few lines of dialogue, make no mistake; every last one of them was unbelievably epic, such that I’ve memorized, and am able to imitate each and every one of them with stunning proficiency.

In other words, it’s not uncommon for me to start the work day by shouting retarded shit like:

BONESAW IS REEEAADYYY!!!!”

Well, that went on a helluva’ lot longer than I was expecting…

Anyway, let it be known, the Azn Badger’s charms are something that appeals to a very select group of individuals

Mostly retards, nerds, gamers, and in very rare cases, people that are actually more socially inept than the Azn Badger himself.

 

Pictured: An example of the type of person that legitimately finds the Azn Badger's behavior "endearing." The Azn Badger rarely feels the same in regards to them...

Mostly just retards though…

Anyway, I figured I would share this little tidbit of information being as I am dead tired and have absolutely no inspiration to write anything of significance following yesterday’s mega-prediction post regarding the Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito fight.

Seriously, that took a lot out of me…

Anyway, until tomorrow!

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Demon’s Souls Is… Not So Hard Anymore

Hah! Not so bad anymore, are yah'!?

About a week ago I posted a bitchy/whiny article about how Demon’s Souls knocked me down and took my lunch money.

I was about 2 hours into the game at the time of writing said article, and I just wasn’t “getting” how the game worked.

I was frustrated by the game’s punishingly restrictive rules, and humbled by it’s timing heavy combat system.

I’m now 8 hours into Demon’s Souls, and I feel like I’ve got it by the nuts.

'DESE NUTS!

At around hour 3 I had memorized the layout of the 1-1 section of the Boletarian Palace level, making harvesting souls (money) quite a bit easier than before.

Around this time I also began finding uses for my souls in the form of upgrading my Knight’s  long sword among other things.

Did I mention I named my character after the Ultimate Warrior?

Now if only I could make him look like this...

Now that's just a terrible photo... Sorry about that.

After toughing it out for some time, advancing by inches every time, I met and defeated my first boss demon, Phalanx.

It was a tedious battle to be sure, but unlike some of the stiffer challenges I’d faced up to that point, (I’m lookin’ at you Red Dragon of one-hit kill-ery…) I managed to best the blob monster on my first try.

I should probably note, that I really admire the artistic design of the Phalanx demon.

Consisting of a hoard of shield-faced blobs armed with spears, all protecting a central core, I found it to be an inspired take on the Sumerian/Grecian military formation.

Behold, the only culturally significant photo on the Azn Badger's blog!

In doing so, I was awarded with what I had spent the entire game to that point wishing for:

A waypoint.

4 hours into the game, and I encountered my very first checkpoint.

Eerily enough, as if crossing that first major threshold served to change the entire dynamic of the game from then on out; playing Demon’s Souls has become a markedly less devious affair.

While the early goings were teeth-grittingly difficult and frustrating, ever since I took out that first boss demon; my progression through the game has eased into a much more natural, and far less tedious pace.

Maybe I’ve just become accustomed to the cautious play style required to navigate the game, or maybe my character has just gotten strong enough that he’s able to power through what used to be one-hit kills; but either way, I’m enjoying the experience a whole helluva’ lot more than before.

I’ve killed no less than 4 more bosses in the past 4 hours of gameplay, 2 of which I didn’t even really have to fight.

What I mean to say is, there were 2 bosses that I took out through exploitative means.

No, that would be "blaxpoitative," but it shows you're thinking...

As mentioned earlier in this post, as well as probably every first time Demon’s Souls player’s writings, there is a Red Dragon in the first stage that pwns you like a bitch if you so much as look at him funny.

Good riddance you flying, red piece of fuck....

Truth be told, he’s not so much a boss as he is a predictable, but still dangerous environmental hazard, but seeing as he killed me a few times and has a meaty health bar, I count him as at least a mid-boss.

Anyway, as an environmental hazard, the Red Dragon is stuck on a very simple looping movement pattern, making him unable to reach you in certain areas, as well as unable to defend himself from attacks launched from certain areas.

That being said, I took note of this, bought 80 arrows, and sat down for 15 minutes slowly chipping away at his health with a wimpy bow and arrow while standing completely out of harms way.

It was silly, it was spiteful, but good God was it satisfying to get that fucking dragon off my back for the remainder of my gameplay experience.

Exploitative Boss Kill #2 came in form of slaughtering the Vanguard boss of the Shrine of Storms using a similar tactic.

My money's on the big guy. Jus' sayin' is all...

This one was not as satisfying as in the case of the Red Dragon.

The Vanguard was a demon that I had spent much of my time in Demon’s Souls expecting to have an epic showdown with at some point in the game.

You see, The Vanguard was the demon featured in the opening tutorial segment of the game.

While I don’t actually know if it’s possible to defeat The Vanguard during the opening sequence, in my case he killed me in 1 hit, thusly handing me my first humiliation of many to come while playing Demon’s Souls.

Sadly, my revenge would be bitter sweet; as instead of facing him head on, I found a way to get behind him and, much like the Red Dragon; peppered him in the back with arrows without him so much as trying to hit me.

Oh well, at least he coughed up a shit ton of souls.

"Vanguard! Your brother's soul, is MINE!"

As of writing this, I feel that I’ve grown to like Demon’s Souls very much.

It’s a tough game, for sure; but it’s one that can be very rewarding if you’re willing to play by it’s terms.

Not long ago I ran into a Mind Flayer-like creature in the Tower of Latria (a place I got lost in and quickly retreated from in favor of the Shrine of Storms).

Huh, wouldn't you know it they actually call it a "Mind Flayer." How very proper of them.

Said creature could be killed quite easily, however I found that it could do the same to me with even greater ease.

Though I was killed in my encounter, on my second; I changed up my tactics and stayed out of sight until it drew very close.

In a very Solid Snake-esque maneuver, I dashed out from the shadows and caught the monster off guard, thusly killing it before it could even lift a finger/face tendril to attack.

It was a very satisfying moment, that would not have been nearly so rewarding if not for the fact that the game forced me to rethink my strategy.

Now that I think about it, I like that; that the game is always difficult, no matter how buff your character gets.

Not only does it keep you humble, it serves to make the gameplay more involving in the sense that you’ve always got to be on top of your shit, regardless of how puny your opponents may be.

Much like another game I happen to like a lot, Devil May Cry 3.

While I may be a much better player than I was at the start, make no mistake; I still die in Demon’s Souls quite frequently.

Except for a few instances of ridiculous fall related deaths in the mine stage, I can concede that most of my deaths in Demon’s Souls are my fault.

I still get frustrated, yes; but I haven’t really felt the causes to be unfair or cheap.

Every now and again I get a little bit too adventurous, or a little bit too overconfident; and that’s generally when I find myself dead.

Thankfully, the penalty is just losing your money… All of it.

I’ll probably never get used to that, but I’ve never been too upset by it.

After all, it’s just money.

Thankfully, I’m not having to say that in regards to my purchase of Demon’s Souls.

Yet.

 

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Best Boss Music #11: Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga


Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga is one of the cutest and most endearing games I’ve ever played, on the Gameboy Advance or any other console.

Not only that, it’s also a damn fine RPG as well.

Essentially picking up where Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario left off, (and then picked up again…) Superstar Saga is a far cry from the traditional console RPG.

Name another RPG that has EXTREME JUMP ROPING!

As it’s title indicates, Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga is a game that follows the exploits of the 2 plumber brothers as they work together to recover Princess Peach’s voice (it was replaced with word bubbles that turn into bombs) from an evil witch of the neighboring Bean Bean Kingdom named Cackletta.

Pictured: The Hemaphroditic Bowser/Cackletta hybrid known as "Bowletta." You can't make this shit up...

Along the way, the player assumes control of the 2 brothers throughout the entirety of the adventure, acquiring and putting to use a number of interesting and unique powers that can be used in tandem to accomplish any number of crazy (but often necessary) feats.

 

Not sure if playing leap-frog during a life or death battle is all that "necessary," but oh well, to each his own.

It should be noted that the story and gameplay of Superstar Saga are top of their class in every regard.

In particular, like most sprite based RPGs, I found the interplay between the vocalizations, scripting, and pantomime of the various characters to be among the best I’ve encountered in any game, period.

Seriously, every character has at least some sort of trademark nuance or quirk to their movements, speech, or sound effects that makes them, and indeed the entire game world, come alive.

DISCO DANCE!!!!!!!!!!!

That being said, let’s get to the gameplay.

Being as the source material is grounded in the Mario canon, it’s only appropriate that the game include a great deal of platforming and coin gathering to go with it’s turn-based combat and level grinding.

 

While I love Diablo as much as the next dork, I thank the heavens that Mario hasn't tried to bite off it's mechanics. Yet...

The key innovation that Superstar Saga brings to the table, and indeed all Mario RPGs prior and since; is the hands-on approach to gameplay elements that are typically automated in most RPGs.

Said elements are no more apparent, than in Superstar Saga’s highly detailed and interactive combat system.

Monsters are encountered on the overworld map, not as random battles, but in the form of fast-moving and aggressive character sprites that maneuver the landscape.

Once a battle begins, the player assumes control of both Mario and Luigi in a turn-based fashion.

From there, timed button inputs are required on the part of the player to effectively attack and defend.

For the love of God, push the "B" button to not die!

Every enemy attack in the game has a means to be avoided or defended in some way, provided the player has the timing and reflexes necessary to do so.

This effectively makes the difficulty of the combat in Superstar Saga a product of the players skill, rather than the stats of his characters.

Being as I’m really an RPG guy these days, I for one really appreciated this.

 

By the way, thank you Demon's Souls for shitting all over my previous statement.

While the game was far from difficult, the battle system kept the boredom and tedium at bay for the most part, leaving me with a terrific and off-the-wall story to enjoy.

Trust me, if you’re looking for a way to indulge your inner child and feel like a 9 year old all over again, try playing Superstar Saga; you won’t be disappointed.

Anyway, this post was supposed to be about music, so what’s say we get to it shall we?

Superstar Saga, like virtually any Nintendo product, has a wonderful soundtrack.

Composed by the prolific and talented Yoko Shimomura, the whole soundtrack is very well-rounded, and more importantly; thematic and appropriate to the setting and mood.

Superstar Saga is a colorful, light, and “bouncy” game, and the soundtrack was tailor-made to suit those feelings.

Defne Adj. "Bouncy": Any game that includes a sequence wherein 2 Italian plumbers do battle with a barrel of sentient cola.

Despite this, the game is still an RPG nonetheless, and thusly features a wide array of battle themes, not to mention a few boss themes.

While every track of the game is deserving of special notice, the Best Boss Music in Superstar Saga is…

Rookie and Popple:

This track plays whenever Mario and Luigi do battle with the wily thief named Popple, and his new protege, “Rookie.”

The fun part of these battles, comes from the fact that the “Rookie” is in fact Bowser; albeit a Bowser with amnesia.

Scratch that. Amnesia and a pimp-ass hat.

Despite the memory loss, whenever the player attacks Bowser in these fights, a little light bulb will flicker on in his head, and he’ll suddenly bust out some decidedly Bowser-like moves.

I guess you could call it a case of muscle memory winning out over mental memory.

Anyway, this track was only played a handful of times in the game, but I found myself happy to hear it every time it did.

It’s far more energetic than the standard boss theme, and better composed for that matter; but in some ways I feel that Popple and Rookie’s reduced frequency of occurrence in-game is part of what makes it stand out so much.

Despite many of the other Best Boss Music entries listed on this blog being of the more epic or dramatic variety, Popple and Rookie earns it’s spot purely off of it’s fun-factor.

Let it be known, that which makes us happy is often that which is most important to us.

Tune in tomorrow for another real post!

Maybe…

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Demon’s Souls Is Hard…

 

ARRRRRRRRGH!!!!!!!

So, I bought Demon’s Souls from a friend the other day.

He told me he played it for 5 hours and then called it quits.

This is coming from a Korean fellow that specializes in, as he phrases it; “beasting” games faster than they can come out.

As fate would have it, there would be no “beasting” of Demon’s Souls for my Korean buddy.

In fact one could go so far as to say that the game “beasted” him.

Despite this, like a fool I thought I could do what my friend could not.

Before I bought the game, I read scores of reviews singing the praise of Demon’s Souls, and heralding it’s difficulty level as the Battletoads equivalent to the modern era of gaming.

While it does indeed seem like it could be a great game, make no mistake; Demon’s Souls is a punishingly difficult game, to the extent that it feels borderline unfair.

As of writing this, I’m barely 2 hours into the game, and I’ve done exactly nothing.

My first created character was a Barbarian.

I set out into the game with the mindset of creating a Conan-esque tank, however to my surprise; the Barbarian was just about the worst choice to do so, at least in the beginning stages of the game.

Turns out, despite their inherent physicality, Barbarians start out the game with no armor, and some of the worst equipment imaginable.

Not good when the game derives most of your survivability from your equipment and armor rather than your stats.

Despite spending about an hour getting a good feel for the timing and nuance of the game’s control scheme, (while dieing about 9,000 times…) I found that; for a beginner level player, a Barbarian was simply too fragile for my skill level.

Enter my second character within an hour of starting the game, a much sturdier and well-equipped Knight.

Well, after dieing every 5 minutes as my Knight, I think I can honestly say that he’s probably going to be my primary character from now on.

Every time I play Demon’s Souls, I feel like I’m moving a half-step forward, only to get thrown 20 feet back every 5 minutes.

When I said the game felt borderline unfair, I was referring largely to the checkpoint and currency systems.

The checkpoint system is a pain in the ass because, well; near as I can tell there are none.

This wouldn’t be a problem except, unlike friendlier games like Diablo; Demon’s Souls has no “scroll of Town Portals.”

Not only that, Demon’s Souls thoroughly rapes you by forcing you to reclaim your “souls” (money) while wading through every enemy in the level up to that point.

Enemy placement is always the same, and any entry or exit of a level causes them all to respawn.

My main issue with the currency system, is not that you lose all your money when you die, but that there’s no banking or storage system in the game.

Do I really have to carry all of my wealth on me at all times?

Seriously man, if you had 5,000 souls of demon’s in your possession would you go walkin’ around with ’em in your wallet?

No, you’d put ’em in a fuckin’ bank.

That being said, the currency system is largely why I’m “nowhere” in the game as of yet.

Simply put, I can never survive long enough to save up my money to purchase items with.

Not that there’s any items I want/need anyway.

I suppose it doesn’t help either that I haven’t the slightest clue how to level up my character…

Anyway, I’m whining; so I’ll stop now.

As it stands, Demon’s Souls is a brutally difficult game, but for drastically different reasons than I am accustomed to in my “hard games.”

When it comes to twitch reflexes and memorization I.E. Contra, Raiden, Devil May Cry; I have no problem.

In the case of Demon’s Souls though, the game’s difficulty comes largely from the stringent rules of it’s gameplay, as well as the fact that timing and precision are the order of the day, rather than quick reaction time or fancy button combinations.

It’s a frustrating and loathesome game that truly hates it’s players, but truth be told; I actually feel compelled to keep trying at Demon’s Souls.

After a few years of getting raped by Battletoads, I put my controller down and said “No Mas.”

Though I’ve only spent a few hours with Demon’s Souls, those few hours have shown me that; despite all the teeth-gritting frustration, there still may in fact be a game worth experiencing hidden beneath it all.

Here’s hoping I’m right…

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“What Do You Know, Blu-Ray Really Is Better…”

When it comes to home video mediums, I’m not a fan of changing formats.

For the first half of my life, VHS was the end all be all home video format.

If you wanted to buy a movie, you did so in the form of purchasing a fuzzy, artifact ridden VHS cassette.

Well, that is unless you were one of those hipster-douchebags that had a Beta player, or worse yet; a fuckin’ Laserdisc…

Anyway, the point is; for most of my life, there was one way to watch a movie.

All of that changed around the time I was just getting into high school, with the advent of DVD.

While DVD had been already been around for some time, from my perspective, it really hadn’t “caught on” with the general public until the early 2000’s.

Kind of like how CD’s have been around forever, but it wasn’t until sometime in the early 90’s that it truly became mainstream.

Being as I was a very young badger of 13, with no income of my own; DVD failed to capture my interest in any way.

Everyone knew the image quality was superior.

Everyone knew the sound quality was clearer.

Everyone knew that DVD was, on paper; better than VHS.

Only thing was, no one I knew, myself included, ever actually watched a movie on DVD.

While many of my friend’s families would go on to hop on the bandwagon and purchase DVD players, my household would remain without digital video for little longer than most.

That all changed in 2001, when my mother surprised my brother and I with a Playstation 2 that Christmas, despite preemptively outright telling us that we weren’t going to get one.

Mothers:  You can grow up all you want, but they still fuckin’ own your ass…

I’ll never forget that Christmas, as it was a particular emotional time for our household, and I suppose the PS2 helped a little too.

Anyway, as you probably know, one of the pluses of owning a Playstation product, is the fact that it doubles as a media player.

The original Playstation served as my CD player, (not that I had any CD’s…) and the Playstation 2 would go on to serve as my first DVD player.

True, it was a shitty DVD player with some of the muddiest and darkest fuckin’ image quality imaginable, but it was a DVD player nonetheless.

Despite having never really given much thought to the idea of owning a DVD player, my Playstation 2 took my thoughts and considerations on the matter and basically shouted in my ear:

LET ME TELL YAH’ SOMETHIN’ BROTHER!  YOU’VE GOT A DVD PLAYER WHETHER YAH’ LIKE OR NOT NOW, BROTHER!  SO GET OUT THERE AND BUY SOME DVD’S DUDE!  SHOW ‘EM WHAT HULKAMANIA’S ALL ABOUT, BROTHER!”

Okay, so maybe my PS2 wasn’t possessed by the wayward spirit of the still-living Hulk Hogan, but you get my meaning.

With the tools to explore the medium now at my command, I set out into the world to grab a DVD, and finally see what the big fuckin’ deal was.

I’ll give you one guess as to what my very first DVD purchase was.

If you guess Rocky, Godzilla, or some form of kung fu movie, *BUZZ!* you’d be wrong!

The Azn Badger’s very first DVD, was in fact:

Transformers: The Movie.

Haha!  I know, awesome, right?

Watching Transformers The Movie on DVD for the first time was like seeing it for the first time.

For one thing, my original VHS copy of the movie was in fact just that, a ratty-ass copy recorded from an original rented from Blockbuster.

The difference in image and sound quality was like night and day.

Despite the perks of the enhanced audio and video, by far my favorite innovation that DVD brought to home video, was the chapter select function.

Being able to skip to your favorite parts, without fear of stretching and ruining the tape, was a godsend.

Seriously, do you know how many movies I have in my DVD library that are good for only 1 or 2 scenes?

Let me put it this way:

Without chapter select, I probably wouldn’t own half the movies I do.

Anyway, the point of this post, is to point out that, for maybe the 3rd time in a row, a Sony Playstation has served as my “ambassador” to a new medium of digital entertainment.

I’m of course referring to the new standard HD video disc medium: Blu-Ray.

As was the case with DVD, I wasn’t all that thrilled at the prospect of switching to Blu-Ray.

I loved my big-ass DVD collection, and the idea of turning my back on the medium I had grown so comfortable with, just felt wrong.

Then something inside me changed.

As I sat watching my very first Blu-Ray, Iron Man 2; on my Playstation 3, I came to realize that my reservations were unfounded.

Just as was the case with DVD, I was blown away by a format that, on paper; was regarded as “better.”

From a visual standpoint, Blu-Ray really was something to behold.

Like with VHS and DVD, it really was; night and day.

While Blu-Ray has yet to bring a major innovation like chapter select to the table, it still needs to be said; the visual one-up is downright spellbinding.

Now, don’t write me off as some videophile fanboy for Blu-Ray, as that’s hardly the truth.

As of now, I’ve only seen 1 Blu-Ray movie, and it was a brand new and intensely visual film, perfect to test the strengths of the medium with.

I’m sure Blu-Rays of older, less visual films are far less impressive.

At present, I’m thinking of maintaining my purchases of DVDs for films that aren’t deserving of the extra graphical fidelity I.E. dramas or comedies, while reserving Blu-Ray purchases for “louder” shit like Avatar or Iron Man.

While I’m not ready to go all-in on Blu-Ray as of yet, my reasoning behind this post, is that I want to point out that this is a road I’ve been down before.

I switched from cassettes to CDs.

I switched fromVHS to DVD, and willingly at that.

While I’m not sure I’ll be switching from DVD to Blu-Ray wholeheartedly any time soon, the point is; I’m no longer afraid to.

Change is not always a bad thing.

It may be uncomfortable, or worse yet; inconvenient, but the point is, we’ve all done it before and the world kept turning regardless.

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

Let’s Play Contra III: The Alien Wars, Part V

Let it be known folks, I hate stage 5 of Contra III.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this game; but stage 5 can eat a dick.

 

And not in the fun way mind you...

 

It can put a penis in it’s mouth, chew it to shit, and swallow for all I care, ’cause stage 5 is a sack of fuck-sauce that I’d prefer not to touch with a 10 foot pole.

That being said, I had a little meltdown (or 12) during the recording of this video, so please excuse the harshness of my words.

Enjoy watching, knowing full well how much I was forced to suffer to produce it:

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Let’s Play Contra III: The Alien Wars, Part II

Welcome folks, to day 2/stage 2 of the Azn Badger’s Let’s Play of Contra III: The Alien Wars on the Super NES!

This time around we’re tackling an overhead level, powered by that wonderfully gaudy, and undeniably “90’s” breakthrough in gaming technology: Mode 7!

Remember when this was considered "mind-blowing?"

In case you haven’t noticed as of yet, I have a mild case of writer’s block at the moment, so until I get my shit together, you’re all gonna’ have to settle for Let’s Play videos.

Don’t worry though, Contra III is a pretty short game, so I promise this won’t drag on like that Godzilla Let’s Play I did awhile back…

Anyway, enjoy!:

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Hidden Treasures, Part II

Haha, Azn Badger bein' all artsy n'shit...

You wouldn’t know it from that pic, but I was actually looking out the window on account of some lady shrieking at her kids.

Was fuckin’ hilarious.

That ugliness aside, welcome back to my basement dwelling odyssey!

Upon venturing deeper into my basement crawlspace, I was elated to discover my old Captain Bucky O’Hare action figures!

Near as I can tell, I had almost the whole collection, minus Jenny the Alderbaran Cat, The Toad Air Marshall, and some piece of shit named Commander Dogstar that I honestly have ZERO memory of.

Now what kind of Happy Meal bullshit is THIS!? No wonder I don't remember him...

Don’t ask me what Alderbaran means, ’cause I sure as hell don’t know.

It’s kind of like that one monster “D’Compose” from Inhumanoids.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT! How did my parents let me watch this shit!?

I didn’t know what “decompose” meant, all I knew was that that was his name, and that’s what he said when he turned that one bitch into a giant-ass zombie.

I'm not crazy, I swear, BUT HOW THE FUCK DID I REMEMBER THIS SHIT!?

Now that I think of it, Inhumanoids was fuckin’ badass.

Scared the shit outta’ me too.

Why the fuck am I talking about Inhumanoids?

I only saw like 2 episodes of that when I was like 3 years old.

HOW THE FUCK DO I REMEMBER ALL THIS STUPID SHIT!?

*Cough!* Anyway, this is the second time in the past few days that I’ve mentioned Bucky O’Hare, so I figure it’s time I give a little background on the subject for those who may not remember him.

Here’s the intro sequence:

Basically, Bucky O’Hare was a cartoon, based on a comic from before my time, that dealt with a universe parallel to our own called the Aniverse.

The Aniverse, wherein planets are named not for Gods, but rather by their color.

Essentially, the world was like Star Wars, only a cast made up entirely of anthropomorphic animal people.

Couldn't find a better photo. Jesus and pancakes that is disturbing...

Hey! Get back here!

Just ’cause I said “anthropomorphic” doesn’t mean this post is gonna’ de-evolve into furry bullshit!

*Ahem!* ANYWAY, the story involves a nerdy young boy from our universe named Willy, being somehow transported into the Aniverse and being forced to take up arms in a galactic war of sorts.

Is nobody worried that the kid is holding a gun?

As a rule of thumb in the series, reptiles and amphibians are “The Empire,” and all the mammals are “The Rebels.”

My God, what have I done!?

I did mention that Bucky O’Hare was like Star Wars, right?

Captain Bucky O’Hare and his ragtag crew of rebel misfits serve as Willy’s defenders and support crew.

Is that his "rape" face or some shit? Seriously...

The other crew members were, if I can remember correctly:

AFC Blinky, a cute little cyclopic android that serves as the C-3P0 and R2-D2 of the crew at the same time.

Don't fuck with him. Seriously, he's got one of the biggest guns in the videogame.

Deadeye Duck, the ship’s trigger happy, four-armed, one-eyed gunner, and my personal favorite character on the show.

Deadeye Duck ridin' in the Toad Croaker.

He was voiced by Duo Maxwell after all.

Jenny the Alderbaran Cat was basically the Jean Grey of the crew, serving as a psychic force to reckoned with, as well as a sort of mother figure to Willy.

She was a pain in the ass to fight in the NES game...

I’m sure if you type her name into Google you’ll find plenty of furry “yiff” fodder.

Hey man, blame the intersnatch, not me…

Last but not least, Bruiser the Berserker Baboon served as equal parts Chewbacca and The Incredible Hulk.

FUCK YEAH.

The numerous instances when he’d go apeshit and beat on the toads were always fuckin’ classic.

“THE BERSERKER BABOON!!!!” They’d all yell, just before getting squashed.

Pictured: Just the parts they didn't like...

To be perfectly honest, I really don’t remember Bucky O’Hare all that well, much less Inhumanoids.

Bucky O’Hare was only a part of my life for about a year, but clearly I really liked it, ’cause I remember the characters just fine, and I played the shit out of the NES game.

RAWK!!!!! Guarantee you'll be seein' me play this sometime soon...

I don’t really remember the plot outside of the very basic “mammals fight against reptiles and amphibians” outline.

Even so, memories, no matter how trivial and fragmented, are always something to be treasured.

Even if they sit in a box underneath the stairs for 20 years.

Oh well, all this talk of Bucky O’Hare has got me wanting to the play the NES game again, so if I ever get around to making another Let’s Play video, that’ll probably be the first one I do.

Thanks for reading, sorry I’ve been so lazy!

SHORYUKEN!!!!!

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

The Best Track in the Game #8: Contra III: The Alien Wars

C-C-C-CONTRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

Contra III: Alien Wars is one of the greatest run ‘n gun games ever made.

Period.

Over the past 20+ years, Konami’s Contra series has pioneered and successfully remained one of the single most visible and well-regarded franchises in the genre.

Though every series has it's unfortunate missteps...

In fact, outside of stiff competition from SNK’s Metal Slug series, I can’t really think of another franchise that could even come close to claiming Contra’s title.

As with most classic game series, the fundamentals of the Contra franchise have remained slim, but elegant in their simplicity.

At their core, Contra games are all about you and a friend (if you happen to have any) running from left to right blowing the shit out of everything that moves.

The world through the eyes of a Contra kid.

In between this, occasionally the perspective of the game will change from sidescrolling, to that of a third-person view, or even a top-down view, though the objective remains the same:

Pick up progressively bigger guns, and shoot EVERYTHING with them.

Basically, you're a walking gun. Kind of like 'ole Megatron here.

In truth, I was a late comer to the Contra party.

While I had friends that grew up playing Contra or Super C on the NES, I myself did not really become a Contra kid until Contra III.

I remember I rented the game a few years after it came out.

Truth to be told, the opening cinematic genuinely scared me a little.

Okay, maybe the dialogue between ‘ole Bill and Lance was laughable, even as a child, but something about the eerie music and that goddamn creepy-ass alien face freaked me out a little.

Once I actually started playing the game however, my fear evaporated and turned to excitement and glee.

The biggest keys to Contra III’s success, were it’s pacing and difficulty.

Unlike say, a bullet hell style vertical scrolling shooter, the action in Contra III was conducted at a measured pace, with enemies firing only every so often, with slow moving, but extremely accurate bullets.

"Yup, just another day in the city OH MY GOD THAT DOG HAS A MAN'S FACE!"

This element of the gameplay led to fewer “cheap” deaths, with most of the more difficult aspects of the level design stemming from hazards in the environment and irregularities in the bosses attack patterns.

Stage 5 boss can suck a fat Blackanese cock. Seriously, FUCKING BULLSHIT.

Boss fights in Contra games were always a major aspect of the experience, often occupying a huge chunk of the actual gameplay.

In true Contra fashion, most of the mid-bosses in Contra III had limited attack patterns and were dispatched in quick fashion, however the stage bosses were  exceptionally well-designed and often required great skill and patience to defeat.

Except for this guy. He was easy as pie.

Nearly every stage boss in Contra III was memorable in some way, a fact that was bolstered by the truly awesome boss theme music:

To this day, I maintain that Contra III’s difficulty level (on “Normal Mode”) was ideal for the genre.

Even as a child, it was rare for me to become frustrated upon losing a life to stray bullet or an alien that jumped in from off screen.

Everything about the game, from the placement of the power-ups, to the number of enemies on screen at a time, felt appropriate and balanced.

At times, one could argue that perhaps the game was too easy at times, as there were certain instances when specific power-ups were doled out in just a little bit too convenient fashion.

"Oh look I'm one screen away from the boss and have 4 bombs! Oh wouldn't you know it, there's 2 more bombs! Golly Gee Willikers, I'm lucky today!"

Contra games have never been known for their innovations from game to game, and Contra III is no exception.

Changes to the, at the time pretty much untouched gameplay of the original Contra, were few, but key nonetheless.

For instance, players could now climb walls and across monkey bar style overhangs, as well as carry and switch between two different weapons at will.

There was also a retarded somersault attack the player could execute using both weapons at once, but it would probably be best if we forgot about that.

There's a time and a place for somersaults, and this is not one of them.

Speaking of weapons, Contra III introduced a whole of host of awesome new ones  to the franchise.

It was in this game that the Flame Gun and the Homing and Crusher Missiles made their debut.

Despite it’s reputation from past games, in my opinion the Spread Gun lost it’s luster in Contra III due to the supreme effectiveness of the Homing Missiles paired with, well, just about anything.

Pictured: The Spread Gun in Contra III.

Like other early Super NES titles, Contra III also made use of Mode 7 graphics for it’s top-down sequences.

I remember sucking-ass at the top-down levels as a kid, largely because of the imprecision in the movement controls combined with those damn narrow bridges.

Yeah, 'cause this isn't confusing at all.

Players could also pick up screen clearing bombs, however I’ve always had a habit of dieing before being able to set them off, so in my eyes they were mostly useless.

In addition to this, players could, for the first time in a Contra game, commandeer vehicles, although there is only one real instance of this, and it comes and goes within the first minute or so of the first stage.

Oh well, “some tanks” are always better than “no tanks.”

Okay, I officially want one.

In all, Contra III was my first, and for the most part, my favorite, Contra game.

In fact, outside of the excellent Contra: Hard Corps for the Genesis, and the obscenely difficult Contra: Shattered Soldier on the Playstation 2, I can’t really think of a close competitor.

When it comes to run ‘n gun games, I’ve always considered myself a die hard Metal Slug fan, however in the case of Contra III, it just has an indefinable charm to it that puts it at or near the top my list.

That being said, The Best Track in Contra III is…

Stage 4 – The Bike Chase

Why?

The question is, why not?

If the word “Contra” was a verb, this stage and the piece of music that accompanies it would probably be it’s definition.

Remember that next time you go out on a motorcycle/helicopter ride/killing spree.  It’ll definitely save you a minute or two when it comes to explaining your actions to the authorities.

"What the hell did you think you were doin' son!?"

"I WAS TAKING MY WOMAN OUT CONTRA'ING YOU FUCKING GIRLIE-MAN!"

Seriously though, this track is all about fun and excitement and it goes perfectly with the colorful and over-the-top nature of the level it occupies.

It’s worth noting that this track, as well as the rest of the games’ soundtrack, have that classic “early 90’s Konami” sound to them.

I don’t know if it’s that they recycled the same midi tones a lot over at Konami, but something about their sound just has a wonderful uniformity to it.

It's always a good time for kittens!

In general, Contra music, especially in later games, is a mix of military cadences, pulse pounding electronica, and heavy metal style pseudo-guitar.

Another constant of most Contra soundtracks however, is a slight tinge horror movie soundtrack elements.

Hmm, kind of like Aliens?

Contra games are about fighting giant, grotesque aliens, and the music often reminds of us of the fact that, despite the over-the-top one man army style gameplay, the environments that the games take place in are meant to be grim and violent.

Contra III makes great use of the action-horror sound throughout, though the Stage 4 track is easily my favorite, largely because of how retardedly insane and intense that particular level was.

Seriously, you have to see it in action to understand where I’m coming from:

Playing this stage a kid was like playing the Gallimimus Stage in Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues.

I rarely, if ever, got past it, but damn did I have fun trying to over and over.

Runner-Up:

Stage 1 – The City

Why?:

While my choice as Best Track in the Game was a track that was somewhat atypical of the series, my choice for the runner-up is not.

The Stage 1 theme in Contra III is classic Contra, with equal parts military influenced badassery and horror influenced creepiness.

Hmm, kind of like Aliens?

In that sense, it’s the perfect track to begin the game with, as it effectively invites players into the next generation of Contra with something familiar, yet different at the same time.

I love the harshness, the sense of urgency that this track exudes.  It really works as a piece of music meant to inhabit a very dark and hostile environment.

The only reason this track doesn’t get the nod for Best Track in the Game is because it’s simply not as fun to listen to as the Stage 4 theme.

Both are exceptional in their own right, however in this case I’ll take “fun” over “intense.”

With that, I leave you with “What iz diz’ place?”

Filed under: Games, The Best Track in the Game, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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