Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

So… Youtube Looks Like Crap Now.

Pictured: The "new" youtube.

A funny thing happened today.

As I was rummaging around Youtube in search of potential clips to use on this blog, I noticed that the interface and iconography of the site had changed.

Not only that, they changed A LOT.

Seriously man, I don’t know if it’s just me and my extraordinarily inflexible ways, but I took one look at the new landing page and said to myself:

“Goddamnit, now I have no fuckin’ clue where anything is.”

From a purely aesthetic standpoint, I don’t have much of a beef with the new layout… Other than the fact that it seems extremely Hulu-esque:

Pictured: An example of the Hulu interface.

Even so, the whole thing is very clean and decidedly “web 2.0” in nature, however it’s hard not to look at the landing page and feel it’s more than a little too cluttered.

Such is the nature of the “look at me/my shit matters” age of social networking.

In the eyes of one such as myself, who has been fortunate to have witnessed the rapid evolution of the internet since the early 90’s, design such as this seems loud and oversaturated with content.

To someone who fucks around with their Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Southpark Studios, and World of Warcraft accounts all at the same fuckin’ time though, I’d imagine the new Youtube layout seems plain and/or simple.

Like I said, honestly, I’ve not problem with the new design scheme.

Mostly I’m just upset that the new landing page seems to feed me nothing but “trending” shit and sponsored videos.

I’ve always liked Youtube’s recommended videos on their landing page, but as of now, I’ve yet to find that feature in the layout.

All I see is a recommended topics section, and from what I can tell, using said feature requires visiting individual pages dedicated to extremely broad search topics, resulting in more results being yielded, but with less relevance overall.

Again, having 200 loosely relevant videos shoveled onto your plate might do it for some people, but personally, but not me.

As in most cases when familiar things are given major overhauls, my negative opinion of this new layout will likely pass with time.

I can remember feeling uneasy behind the controls of basically every single game in the Fight Night franchise, and yet with every successive release, I find myself acclimating to the mechanics to the point of being unable to go back to the previous iterations of the game.

My greatest hope this will end up being the case with the new Youtube, as recently I’ve had a pretty good system going for mining the site for blog worthy content.

For now though, I’m about 5 minutes from pulling one of these:

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

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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I Miss The “Old” Metal Gear Theme…

I miss the Metal Gear Solid theme.

More specifically, the old Metal Gear Solid theme.

That’s not to say the new theme music is bad, (it’s not) I just feel the old theme was a whole helluva’ lot better.

The composition was more interesting, the tune catchier, and the overall “feel” of the track seemed to fit the series like a glove.

For those that are unaware, the original Metal Gear Solid theme, used in all of the games up until the PSP exclusive Portable Ops; was removed from the series due to implications that the track had been plagiarized from an existing composition.

Composed by Tappi Iwase AKA TAPPY, the theme made it’s debut as the background music of the promotional trailers for Metal Gear Solid, and was also featured as an alternate ending theme:

The original version of the Metal Gear Solid theme was entirely synthesized, and had a very electronic and, unfortunately; “cheap” sound to it despite it’s instrumentation being intentionally implemented for the purpose of simulating an orchestral feel.

Despite it’s somewhat primitive sound, (at least by today’s standards) the theme possessed a rare combination of energy and catchiness that make it synonymous with the series to this day.

While the Metal Gear Solid theme was first featured in the game of the same name, the first time I can recall hearing it was actually in Konami’s Beatmania games on the orginal Playstation.

I had a couple of friends that had “Goldfingers” for their Playstations, and I remember one of them being really into Beatmania and Dance Dance Revolution.

While I honestly wasn’t too keen on either of those games, (still aren’t) I remember playing a lot of co-op Beatmania specifically to hear the remix of the Metal Gear theme:

That, was my introduction to the Metal Gear Solid theme.

As a remix, it’s actually kind of shitty; however the core sound of the theme manages to give the track a lot of strength and memorability.

Gotta’ love that English dude yelling random shit in the background though…

I’M-GONNA’-KICK-YOUR-ASS.  PLEASE-DON’T-KILL-THEM-ALL!”

*Ahem!* Moving on, I think the last time we got to hear the Metal Gear Solid theme music, was in the sequel; Sons of Liberty.

Combining TAPPY’s previous motif with Hollywood film composer Harry “I do military themes that sound like Hans Zimmer’s early 90’s work” Gregson-William’s, this iteration of the theme represents my favorite version of it:

Essentially split into 2 halves, the first portion of the composition is essentially an orchestral and synthesized re-imagining of TAPPY’s original motif, while the second half is a decidedly more somber military march-esque tune composed primarily by Gregson-Williams.

The end result is a powerful and exhilarating theme that I had hoped would endure for years to come.

Sadly, this was not the case.

As mentioned earlier, facts surfaced regarding the composition of TAPPY’s portion of the theme that heavily implied that the tune was stolen from Russian composer Georgy Sviridov’s “The Winter Road”:

Most likely fearing a possible lawsuit, Konami pulled the tune from all subsequent Metal Gear Solid related productions, including Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

With the “old” theme gone, Konami ended up using Gregson-Williams’ half of the composition as the official theme of the series from that point forward.

As I said earlier, I really don’t have a problem with the “new” Metal Gear Solid theme, truth be told it’s rather good as far as themes go; it’s just that it simply doesn’t fit as well as it’s predecessor.

It’s like John William’s Superman theme:

You can make new movies, and you can reboot the series all you want, but the day you stop using Johnny’s theme music; is the day I stop believing a man can fly.

The original theme bore an energy and sense of urgency that really sucked you in.

If you closed your eyes listening to the Metal Gear Solid 2 version of it, I swear you could see Solid Snake running around chokin’ bitches in your head.

The “new” theme, which bears more than a few of Gregson-Williams’ somewhat one-dimensional compositional touches; feels a little slow and overblown if you ask me.

That being said, the Snake Eater version of Gregson-Williams’ theme was actually quite good:

Essentially a medley of most the major themes used in the game, the full length version of the Snake Eater theme was an intense and far more organic sounding track than previous compositions in the series.

Let it be known, the heavy percussive segment towards the end of this track is one of my favorite action cues in the entire series.

The instrumentation of the track did well to keep in line with the game’s dated Cold War setting and decidedly more somber tone by making use of a richer sounding orchestra, as well as a particularly effective acoustic guitar towards the end.

To date, the acoustic guitar version of the “new” theme remains my favorite version of it.

The Metal Gear Solid theme variant used in Metal Gear Solid 4, renamed “The Metal Gear Saga,” left me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth:

While the core theme was retained, and the acoustic guitar element reused with the addition of a bugle for effect; the bulk of the track felt excessively busy and scattered.

The synthesized elements in particular stand out as being particularly noisy and extraneous, such that the track actually weakens the intensity of the sequence it plays over.

The Metal Gear Saga was used in a fight scene towards the end of the game, and I remember feeling genuinely disappointed upon hearing it.

Make no mistake, that scene was amazing; but the music that played over it, wasn’t the one I had been humming to myself while I was playing the game…

While I knew ahead of time about the lawsuit regarding the Metal Gear Solid theme music, I played through Metal Gear Solid 4 hoping against hope that Konami would sneak it in there in some capacity.

The “new” theme is passable, but suffers from fairly generic composition, largely brought on by Harry Gregson-Williams’ tendency to recycle his music… A LOT.

In my book, the “old” theme is the one true Metal Gear Solid theme music.

It’s what I hear in my head whenever I think of the series, and it’s what I scour the net for remixes of whenever I’m in the mood for good background music to write to.

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Batman’s New Threads

I was clickin’ around on IGN earlier today, when I noticed an article in their comics section entitled, “Batman Has A New Costume.”

Being a Batman enthusiast, I naturally clicked it, half-expecting some sort of shocking redesign along the lines of Batman 500 AKA the Jean-Paul Valley Batman from the Knightfall story arc.

Pictured: The EXACT image that got me into comics in the early 90's.

You see, though I admittedly haven’t followed Grant Morrison’s recent work on the Batman series, least of all the death and return of Bruce Wayne portion of it, with all of the outlandish Batman costume designs being thrown around as of late, I figured we were due for even more craziness.

Goddamnit! I hella' wanna' hate on this image for being dumb, but it's so damn awesome!

Color me surprised when I discovered that not only was the costume redesign a helluva’ lot more tasteful than I was expecting, it was also done by Moon Knight and, *sigh…* Messiah Complex artist David Finch was responsible for it.

As beautiful as his art can be, GODDAMN YOU DAVID FINCH FOR TRICKING ME INTO READING MESSIAH COMPLEX!

That being said, let’s take a look at Mr. Finch’s work:

ART.

I have to say, not just as a David Finch whore, but as a Batman fan in general, I really don’t mind the new costume.

Most of the changes are quite subtle, with some elements, such as the classic; almost Tim Burton Batman-esque yellow chest emblem, actually being recycled elements from previous designs of the Bat-Suit.

Keaton Batman: The Finest Batman the Silver Screen Has Yet to Produce.

In some images I’ve run across, it seems apparent that DC was trying to cash in on the recent mega-success of the Arkham Asylum videogame, as both the beefier arm guards/gauntlets, the bulkier and more heavily ornamented utility belt, and the molded seam-lines of the suit seem very similar to the art style of the game.

No, the Joker is not about to suck Batman's cock. Buncha' dirty sickos...

Which reminds me, I simply have to play Arkham Asylum at some point…

The seam-lines I mentioned above are probably the one aspect of the design that I’m on the fence about.

How appropriate that that just happens to be the single most noticeable change from the current status quo.

To me, the best Bat-Suit designs have always been the ones that take advantage of the 2D, pen and paper medium.

Blue Batman = THE SHIT.

In comics, the artist has the ability to manufacture images of characters without having to take into consideration the physical properties of whatever materials their costumes are made of.

Depending on the artist’s sensibilities, or the mood of the story, Batman’s cape and cowl can be rendered as smooth and voluminous as silk, or as heavy and lustrous as leather.

Kind of like Spawn! You're not allowed to ask "why," you just kind of accept it...

In comics, Batman’s costume usually looks best to me when it’s portrayed as a skin-tight presence surrounding the character.

To me, Batman usually looks best when he isn’t so much wearing a Bat-Suit, as he is embodying it.

Jim Lee’s Batman always struck me as a fantastic, if not ludicrously beefy design.

Jim Lee's Batman is so fucking beastly, it should be spelt "Bat-MAAAANNN."

Aside from the utility belt and heavily detailed boots, every element of Lee’s Bat-Suit strike me as essentially being a part of Bruce Wayne’s anatomy.

At the same time though, I have to say I was very impressed with Lee Bermejo’s rendering of the Bat-Suit in Brian Azzarello’s excellent Joker graphic novel.

Not from Joker, but close enough. Did I mention this art is badass?

Essentially at the other end of the spectrum in terms of costume/character design, Bermejo’s extremely realistic renderings resulted in a Bat-Suit of tangible weight and bulk, so much so that it truly seemed like a suit of armor.

Not only that, but Bermejo’s design of Batman’s cape was truly striking, as it appeared leathery and almost obscenely heavy, such that it assisted in portraying the character as being almost inhumanly powerful and omniscent.

I’m rambling.

To sum up, Finch’s design of the Bat-Suit is honestly only a mild departure from the status quo, but it’s amazing how much an impact a few seam-lines can make.

Personally, I find the new design to be, how shall we say; “acceptable,” I wouldn’t be surprised if those seam-lines get the axe somewhere down the road, as honestly I find them to be somewhat distracting.

Much like pie... If anything can stop me in my tracks, it's the sight and/or smell of a delicious pie...

To me, it’s almost as if Finch is trying to straddle the line behind the Christopher Nolan movie’s Bat-Armor design, and the comic’s traditional Bat-Suit, with the end result being a costume that appears almost flight suit-ish.

So what if Batman has brown-guy hands. I'm lazy, so sue me.

While I find the design to be acceptable, I’ll end by saying this:

I’d take Jim Aparo or Jim Lee’s streamlined Bat-Suit over David Finch’s Bat-Flight-Suit any day.

That being said, here’s one more look at it for the road:

Cool enough, but nowhere Bat-MAAAANN levels of MAN-liness.

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