Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Batman: Arkham Asylum Is Good. Like, Really Good.

So, Arkham Asylum is a good game.

Like, really good.

Last night I parked my butt in front of the TV for a good solid 4 hours straight playing it, and by golly, I enjoyed every minute of it.

4 hours might not sound like a helluva’ long time to some of the more hardcore gamers out there, so allow me to elaborate.

These days I’m what is commonly referred to as a “casual gamer.”

Pictured: The Exact Opposite of A "Casual Gamer."

Not only that, I have this weird personal issue where after about an hour or so of playing videogames, I start to feel anxious; like I need to get up and do something else RIGHT NOW.

More often than not, I tend to prioritize activities like working out, going to bed early, or writing this fucking blog, over playing videogames.

In the case of my maiden voyage on Batman: Arkham Asylum last night though, this was not the case.

Near as I can tell, the game’s greatest success, is the constant feeling of progress and accomplishment that the game imparts to it’s player.

Last night I mentioned how I really don’t care much for Metroid-style games.

Like many non-Metroid fans, my biggest objection to the structure of those games, is not the fault of the designers, but rather my own stupidity.

Thought I’ve always said that Zelda games made me feel dumb as a kid, Metroid games made me feel downright “special.”

Like, helmet “special.”

Stone Cold demonstrating the image crippling power of The Retard Helmet.

Something about the layout of the map, and how the player was expected to wade their way through shit storms of enemies and hazards without knowing where to go, just never did it for me.

Though I’ve heard Arkham Asylum referred to as a Metroid-Vania style game, (a description which is fairly accurate) the experience is nowhere near as lonesome, nor the map layout as cryptic as either of those games.

Trust me, having Oracle on staff to order you around via radio every now and again is a godsend for exploration newbs such as myself.

Well hello there madam. Feel free to call me on my Bat Phone anytime you like...

In short, it’s similar to a Metroid-Vania game, but with a more structured and objective based progression.

Which is a good thing, seeing as I can think of no dumber element to a Batman game than having the player get lost.

Think about it, would the fuckin’ Batman ever get lost, much less at Arkham?

Pictured: Batman upon realizing he is in fact, a retard.

Batman is a man on top of shit in any situation, so I feel it is a wise decision on the part of the developers to have made the game’s structure reflect this.

Aside from the strength of the layout of the game, I feel that the games 240 or so collectibles really add a lot to making the player feel like their making some headway into the game, even in it’s early stages.

While part of me wants to say that, like Mega Man X3, there are in fact too many hidden items in the game, to the point in which you literally can’t turn a corner without accidentally bumping into something useful, thus far I think I actually like this element of Arkham Asylum.

It is kind of silly, walking into a room and finding Riddler trophies n’shit strewn about; but in a game with a map as large as this, any form of progress, no matter how minute, goes a long way towards making neurotic players like myself feel like they know what their doing.

Near as I can tell, this is Batman’s greatest success:

Spoon-feeding the player little rewards throughout the entire game so as to effectively stamp out the possibility of frustration.

It’s an incredibly elementary approach to game design, but it’s working for me so far.

As of writing this, I have had firsthand encounters with 2 major supervillains of Batman’s rogue’s gallery:

The Scarecrow, and Bane.

The developers take on Scarecrow was mighty impressive.

Both the level design and his costume for his sequence reflect a definite Freddy Krueger-esque sensibility, but given the seedier nature of Arkham Asylum’s art design, I feel it works very well.

Ninja + Freddy Krueger + Batman Begins Scarecrow + Psycho Mantis = Arkham Asylum Scarecrow.

From a gameplay standpoint, I found this “boss fight” (wasn’t really a fight…) to be quite entertaining.

Shifting the game into 2-D sidescrolling mode so as to allow for more streamlined movement and coordination really worked, and I applaud the efforts of the developers.

Bane, on the other hand, was a fun battle on a visceral level, however the comic fan inside me was kind of miffed by his brutish persona.

Bane as envisioned by the marketing department of the UFC...

As a kid that grew up reading Knightfall, Bane has a special place in my heart as one of my favorite Batman villains, and yet every time he’s used in media other than the comics, his character is grossly misinterpreted.

Um... No. Just, no...

Bane isn’t a massive brute or meathead, he’s a cunning and wily villain that could be called Batman’s equal on almost every level.

Oh well, my inner-comic dork’s objections aside, I’m happy that Arkham Asylum took a few seconds to at least explain why Bane suddenly went retard, not to mention Hulk-ed out beyond the realm of believability.

Essentially, Bane serves as key element to the game’s plot, not as a mastermind, or even hired hand; but as an instrument forcibly implemented by the combined will’s of The Joker and a mysterious Dr. Young.

From what I know at the 4 hour mark, the plot involves Joker using Dr. Young to extract and deconstruct the Venom Derivative from Bane, which they then mutate and enhance to create a more powerful Titan Formula which causes people to Hulk Out.

Basically, Joker plans to use the Titan Formula to create an army of Hulk-ed Out thugs to let loose on Gotham.

It’s kind of stupid, in a Silver Age comic-y sort of way, but the real experience of a game is playing it, and the minute to minute experience of Arkham Asylum thus far goes a long way towards making up for a slightly retarded plot.

Anyway, I’ve said about as much as I feel I can about Arkham Asylum for now.

I will say this though:

The combat system is a little simplistic for my Devil May Cry trained thumbs, but it’s rewarding in a “look what I just did with 2 buttons!” sort of way.

Now excuse me, I’m gonna’ go beat the shit out of some more Bat-Villains…

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Thoughts on The Legend is Born: Ip Man

The Legend is Born: Ip Man contains scenes of Ip Man fighting ninjas.

Now, before all the haoles and Narutards in the room hop out of their seats with glee and go buy this movie, one should perhaps note that The Legend is Born is not a good movie.

In fact it’s so very far from “good,” that I’d so far as to say it’s “bad.”

That’s right, I called a kung fu movie bad.

You see, this was bad, but it was GOOD bad.

Trust me folks, if you’re looking for signs of the approaching apocalypse, me hating on a kung fu movie is one of them.

While Donnie Yen and Wilson Yip’s Ip Man films were at times melodramatic, and often predictable; both films did so while wielding style and production values that few pure martial arts movies can match.

That, and they had Donnie Yen leading the cast.

Ip Man, starring Donnie Yen's cock!

He might not be the best actor, but he beats people like no other; and in a martial arts flick sometimes that’s all you need.

Sadly, The Legend is Born has none of these various pluses going for it.

While it has a rather large cast of “name” genre actors, the production fails to utilize them properly by giving them a bland script, placing them amid lifeless and fake-y soundstages, and generally making no attempt to film the fight sequences in an interesting manner.

I ask you, just who the fuck is fighting who in this screenshot?

For those that care to know Sammo Hung is barely in it and truly seems like he’s “between projects,” (most likely he was filming Ip Man 2 simultaneously) Yuen Biao does pretty well given his limited role in the movie, and Fan Siu Wong is his always awesome self.

FUCK YEAH!

Despite the cast, it’s a horrendously mediocre film that fails to impress is any area, and ultimately left me feeling robbed of an hour and a half of my life.

To sum up, (as briefly as possible) the plot is basically a horribly fabricated account of Ip Man’s life from childhood to right up until just before the beginning of the first Wilson Yip Ip Man film in the early 1930’s.

In case you are wondering, the whole “Ip Man fighting ninjas” thing was indeed fabricated, as was the vast majority of the events in this film.

The film’s biggest, and most visible disappointment, comes in the form of the casting of Dennis To as Ip Man.

Wipe that smug look off your face... And get a haircut, hippie...

As I mentioned in my pre-screening thoughts on this movie, To did not strike me as leading man material.

Turns out I was right, as To’s performance, both as an actor and a fighter, is as wooden and vanilla as can be.

With enough training Dennis, someday you'll become a real boy!

As an actor taking on a film that bears the same name as his character, most of the story relies on his performance, to which he brings absolutely no spark of life or zeal.

While his Wing Chun form is quite good, and indeed indicative of his background in the martial art, his posture is extremely rigid and more importantly, his strikes lack any sort of weight or power behind them.

While the speed and accuracy of the close-quarters sparring is actually quite impressive, the lack of power behind the strikes is a problem with most of the choreography, that and the cinematography simply isn’t up to snuff.

Okay, this was perhaps the most needlessly over-the-top moves I've seen in awhile, and I for one thought it was hilarious.

Aside from a decent fight between Dennis To and the real life son of Ip Man, Ip Chun, (which makes heavy use of stunt doubles for Chun) and a lengthy and surprisingly physical brawl between To and Fan Siu Wong, there really aren’t any outstanding fights in The Legend is Born.

Though I’ve seen reviews crediting Sammo Hung as the choreographer for this film, I honestly have trouble believing that.

If he was in fact the choreographer, I’m sorry to say, very little, if any; of the movements and camera angles in The Legend is Born bear Sammo’s mark, and as such, the action simply doesn’t hold up to anything in his filmography.

The basic plot of the film is that of your basic “Japanese threaten Chinese culture and property, martial artist rectifies situation with fists” genre trope, however it does so in a very inorganic and just plain stupid manner.

Well, as inorganic and stupid as a plot involving ninja fights can manage anyway...

I shit you not, nearly all of the dozen or so fights in The Legend is Born (seriously, there’s a lot of them) come about as a result of someone literally walking into a room and yelling:

“Your Wing Chun is good, show me some of it!”

Even for a kung fu movie, that’s just plain lazy.

Pictured: An unedited example of the screenwriting process of The Legend is Born.

Anyway, I was initially planning to do a seriously in-depth review of The Legend is Born, much like I did Ip Man 2 and Undisputed 3: Redemption, however I found that this movie simply wasn’t worth the effort.

If you really wanna’ see mediocre fighting, bland acting, and *sigh…* Ip Man fighting ninjas, then by all means, give The Legend is Born: Ip Man a chance.

I for one, am going to be kicking myself over this purchase for some time, being as I knew this movie was going to suck, but still let my hopes and dreams guide my wallet.

If you can identify with this man, than perhaps you'll enjoy this movie!

 

 

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The Best MAN!!! #3

First thing’s first, it needs to be said that Mega Man 3 has one of the best soundtracks in all of gaming.

Well, it's an improvement from the first 2, but still, that is some shitty cover art.

Not only that, but it’s Title Theme is MY FAVORITE track of the NES era.

That’s right, not The Moon from Ducktales,

not the Super Mario Bros. theme,

but the Title Theme for Mega Man 3.

Give it a listen:

That business aside, Mega Man 3 was a truly awesome Mega Man game.

I mentioned yesterday that I’m still on the fence as to whether I like Mega Man 2 or 3 best, however I’ve found that as I’ve grown older I tend to favor 3 just a little bit more.

The game introduced several new features that would go on to become staples of the series.

Well, that is until Capcom decided to whore themselves to the “Xbox Generation” and release the DLC oddities that are Mega Man 9 and 10 anyway…

WTF!!!!????

Protoman and Rush the dog made their first appearances in Mega Man 3.

The pair didn’t really add much in terms of gameplay, other than serving as a lame miniboss

Protoman: He jumps, he shoots, he sucks the cock.

and replacement for the numbered gadgets of the previous game respectively,

Rush: Fucking worthless when not in Jet form.

however their addition to the series canon personalized, and added character to a roster of characters that was actually pretty slim for the time.

More importantly however, Mega Man 3 gave us the slide maneuver.

While the slide has since been removed in those goddamn fuckin’ DLC games, I always found it to be a wonderful addition Mega Man’s limited repertoire of moves.

It expanded the level design by allowing you to enter narrow passages.

It sped up the pace of the gameplay due to your ability to progress faster through the stages.

It allowed the bosses patterns to be more aggressive, as you now had the ability to dodge quickly.

In all, it was a great innovation that changed Mega Man forever… Or at least until the DLC games.

That’s enough Blue Bomber cock-sucking though, let’s get down to who’s The Best MAN!

That would have to be:

Snake Man

SNAAAAAAAKKKKKKE MAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNN!!!!

This one was almost a 3-way tie.

However, by MANdate of MAN-law, there can only be one Best MAN, and that just happens to be Snake Man

As a kid, Gemini Man was my favorite, hands down.

Remember that Bubble Man helmet I had my mom make for me way back when?

Well, I also wanted her to make me a Gemini Man one.

I never got that helmet, but even so, I still loved Gemini Man.

He had great background music,

a neat fighting style, and probably the pimpest weapon in Mega Man 3: The Gemini Laser.

Gemini Laser Skin Treatment = Icky...

Next to Gemini Man, Shadow Man was a close favorite as well.

I don’t really buy into the whole “he’s awesome ’cause he’s a ninja thing,” however I find that his character, trademark shuriken weapon, and crazy stage made him standout nonetheless.

Don’t laugh at ninjas and Jesus just “because.”

YOU’RE LETTING THEM WIN.

Finally, we come to Snake Man.

Amongst the 3, Snake Man stands out as perhaps the most iconic design.

He’s got the crazy snake helmet, with the distinctive ponytail-like portion of the snake sticking out behind him.

Well, as a kid I thought it looked like a ponytail...

He’s got a gimmicky weapon that travels across the floor and just happens to be vital to beating the game.

On top of that, his stage is wonderfully designed, with good, but not great, background music.

Also, the actual fight with Snake Man is pretty intense, largely due to the tiered nature of his arena.

Mega Man battling Snake Man with the Shadow Shuriken.

In my eyes, Snake Man is the tortoise to the hares that are Shadow Man and Gemini Man.

He may not be the flashiest, he’s certainly not a ninja, but for some utterly intangible reason, he’s The Best MAN in Mega Man 3.

By the way, the best stage music in Mega Man 3 is Spark Man’s stage:

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A Salute To Time Crisis: Part III

Time Crisis 3 marked a major transition point in the Time Crisis series.

While the core gameplay of Time Crisis 1 and 2 consisted of little more than ducking and shooting, Time Crisis 3 added a new spin to the mix in the form of a number of new weapons.

Wouldn't you know it, the first Google Images for the search terms "new weapons" just happens to be shit from Halo.

For the first time in the series, a new “inventory system” was added, granting the player access to a machine gun, a shotgun, and a grenade launcher at all times throughout of the game.

The addition of these special weapons changed the dynamic of the game drastically.

Selecting weapons was done by pulling the trigger while in cover, so there was very little pressure to select weapons quickly, however, by giving the player options on how they wished to approach every gun fight, it slowed down the pace of the game somewhat.

Time Crisis 3: It Brakes For The Elderly. Do YOU!?

It should be noted that the “Time” aspect of the 3rd Time Crisis, is almost entirely a non-factor at this point in the series.

In addition to this, because the expectation was that the player would be using these powerful new weapons throughout the game, the difficulty level was padded in the form of granting several enemies a lifebar system as opposed to the “one shot, one kill” dynamic of the previous games.

Yup, they've got one of these this time around.

I use the term “padded,” because the whole lifebar system felt tacked on and inorganic.

In prior games in the series, one shot was usually enough to kill virtually any enemy in the game.

These guys'll be dead in about 2 seconds flat.

Some bosses in Time Crisis 2 would take several shots to stun, but even then, none of them had a fatty lifebar floating over their head to tell you when they were going to flinch.

Or if they're BUFF, they don't flinch at all. 'Cause only pussies flinch at gun fire.

Despite the lifebars hanging over most enemies’ heads in Time Crisis 3, for the most part they didn’t flinch when being shot, which resulted in many instances where enemies would land hits on the player while eating entire clips in the face.

Strangely enough, despite the vast assortment of enemies with lifebars in Time Crisis 3, the overall difficulty level is decidedly lower than Time Crisis 1 or 2.

Once again, I attribute this fact to the new weapons.

Remember how hard Doom 2 was when playing with a BFG 9000 with unlimited ammo? That's Time Crisis 3 for you.

In short, giving the player a machine gun that never has to be reloaded is always a bad idea in a rail shooter.

Why?

Because the core gamplay, no matter how frenetic or Paul Greengrass-ed the fuck out, consists of nothing more than spotting enemies and pointing your gun at them.

Okay, bad example. Whac-A-Mole was pretty fuckin' hard...

Do you realize how easy that is when all you have to do is wave the gun across the screen few times to kill everything at once?

Well I’ll tell you:  Pretty fuckin’ easy.

Either that, or it's Gunblade. Which isn't a bad thing...

Difficulty level aside, Time Crisis 3 was a solid entry in the series.

The color palette was once again made even more vibrant than in the previous game, giving the game a cartoonish, almost anime-like aesthetic.

In fact, many of the character designs in the game reflect this trend, with outrageous, and often; flat-out stupid hairstyles and clothing being the norm for most of the cast.

Case in point:

Apparently our heroes shop at the Gap...

Sadly, not even Wild Dog was able to escape the aesthetic shift, as his appearance in the game was marred not only by the inclusion of a fruity sidekick/son(?) named Wild Fang, as well as his least pimp, and by far worst “look” in franchise history.

Damn, he got a fat head.

Interestingly enough however, one thing Time Crisis 3 did with just the right amount of flair, was it’s story.

Unlike the majority of the cutscenes in the previous 2 games, Time Crisis 3 included a great deal of action in most of it’s story sequences.

In addition to this, the player characters, Alan and Wesley, were a helluva’ lot more defined than any of the previous ones, with a goofy sort of “buddy cop” dynamic being played up between the two.

Although at no point is it ever made clear that “No one can beat them.”

SUPERIOR.

The story involves a fictional Mediterranean nation called Lukano, which is being invaded by the Zagorias Federation.

The head of the Zagorias Federation, Giorgio Zott, intends to use the location of Lukano to serve as a launch pad for tactical nuclear missiles.

Whoever the fuck named “Giorgio Zott” deserves to get smacked upside their head, ’cause that is just about the goofiest and least threatening last name I’ve heard in a while.

Seriously, that's a NAME.

Anyway, international badasses that they are, VSSE dispatches 2 agents, Alan Dunaway and Wesley Lambert, to handle the entire conflict CONTRA style.

Well okay, maybe not THAT hardcore, but hardcore nonetheless.

After a bloodsoaked beach landing, and a romp along the coast, our heroes find themselves under fire from a giant ass gunship.

GIANT ASS GUNSHIP.

Fortunately, the pair happen upon a foxy young member of the Lukano Liberation Army, named Alicia Winston, who just happens to have the world’s fastest and most well-armored jeep in the world.

Okay, maybe I lied about the whole "foxy" thing.

While riding the jeep, our heroes battle the games’ first boss as he bears down on them with his gunship.

Despite the impressive visage of taking on a big ass plane while riding a jeep, the battle is really pretty straightforward once you’ve taken out the plane’s defenses and forced the flame-haired brute to fight you out on the loading ramp.

Couldn't find a good pic. This'll do nicely though...

Other than the occasional lateral juke every now and again, the guy really just stands there and eats whatever you throw at him.

Oh yeah, and at one point he pulls a 10 foot long Vulcan out, but even so, he’s cake.

Yup, still a tool.

Long story short, he dies, the plane goes up in flames, everybody macarena.

With that, Alicia begins to guide our heroes through Lukano and towards the tactical nukes.

Unfortunately, a fuck ton of enemies show up, forcing Alan and Wesley to split off from Alicia and fight their way through a marketplace.

Did I mention Lukano was in the Mediterranean?

This was one of my favorite parts of the game, largely because of the music and the cute little motorcycle battle towards the end.

Eventually, our heroes make it through the town and reunite with Alicia, hitching a ride on a train while they’re at it.

While riding the train, a foppish, clawed ninja-like character, similar to Moz from Time Crisis 1, attacks them, serving as the stage boss.

Not the scariest boss around, but, then again looks aren't everything.

The character has no dialogue, but unlike Moz, he actually puts up a decent fight.

Oh yeah, and he doesn’t take 3 shots to kill either.

The boss moves about quickly, often forcing the player to take their shots at times when he is just likely to hit you as the other way around.

To add to the excitement of things, the train the players are on is progressively falling into a pit during the fight, causing your perspective to be obscured for most of the fight.

That's just plain unsafe.

Despite the bosses arsenal of grenades and claw slashes, he too ends up kicking the bucket like all those that came before him.

Curiously enough though, there is no explosion following his death.

NO EXPLOSION!!!!!!???

Sometime during the 3rd and final stage, Wild Dog, and his new apprentice, Wild Fang, show up for their obligatory showdown with our heroes.

Uh, nice ponytail there, Mr. Fang...

This time around, Wild Dog is looking a little worse for wear, with his hair long and unkempt, and beginning to gray at that.

Despite this, Mr. Dog demonstrates further improvements in his arsenal, fielding a flamethrower, a rocket launcher and a sword-like blade attached to the machine gun arm he had last time around.

Wild Fang is somewhat of a mystery to me, as despite his armaments consisting of little more than a Mauser pistol or two, his main method of attack involves him kicking objects at you.

By “objects” of course, I mean things like forklifts and I-bars.

You think I'm shitting you? Play the game asshole.

You know, standard stuff.

It’s never explicitly stated, however I believe one can assume that Mr. Fang has had some sort of bodily enhancements.

Although if BUFF Bryant is any indication of what a “strong” human being is capable of in the Time Crisis universe, then I could be wrong.

Anyway, the Wild Pair attack in tandem, offering up an exhilarating and diverse challenge that is definitely a step up in difficulty from Wild Dog’s appearance in Time Crisis 2.

However Wild Dog looks like shit, so the game loses brownie points for that.

Eventually, the Wild Pair is defeated, with Wild Dog going about his normal routine of, you guessed, blowing himself up.

After heated gun battles against ninjas, machine gun toting hooligans, and even the occasional submersible or two, it isn’t long before our heroes find themselves at odds with Mr. Giorgio Zott himself.

While Ernesto Diaz from Time Crisis 2 saw fit to hang back and let his dummy satellite do most of the fighting, Zott demonstrates a passion for fighting up close and personal.

Like, with a fucking sword, up close and personal.

Zott begins the fight with a submachine in one hand and a sword in the other.

He is exceedingly accurate with both, and even sees fit to borrow Johnny Cage’s shadow kick from time to time.

Do I really need a reason?

During the fight, the arena is constantly being flooded with all manner of enemies, ramping up the difficulty level to an extent.

For the final phase of the battle, Zott switches out his weapons in favor of a pair of 4 tubed rocket launchers.

8 rockets, more than enough to kill... Oh, come on, by now I'm sure you know the rest

Despite the imposing nature of a man firing more rockets than any human probably should, Zott goes down shortly thereafter, proving be a gaudy and colorful, but otherwise harmless final boss.

Also, he doesn’t explode.

WHERE'S THE GODDAMN EXPLOSION!!!?

Even as Zott bites the big one however, the missiles he had set up earlier suddenly spring to life and begin to launch!

Fortunately, Alan and Wesley have the power of “dynamic cutscene intervention,” which the put into to play just in time stop the rockets and rob the player of any measure of participation in the games’ final crisis of time.

And HOW do they save the day? Why, by doing cartwheels and shooting things, that's how!

Remember how I said the cutscenes were flashier this time around?

Well, this is just about the only case wherein I felt this was a bad thing.

That being said, thanks to the power of cool cutscenes, Alan and Wesley get to walk away from a massive explosion, whereupon they are greeted by Alicia.

Pictured: Undoctored still from the end of Time Crisis 3.

High-fives, fist-pumping, and three-way fucking ensue.

As a supplement to the main story mode, the console port of Time Crisis 3 includes a series of single player side missions wherein the player assumes the role of Alicia as she assists the VSSE agents and attempts to find her imprisoned brother.

Alicia’s missions include a new leveling system wherein her weapons start out in a downgraded state, only to steadily increase in power with repeated use.

By the end of the game, her weapons display power and rates of fire well in excess of their capabilities in the main story mode.

In addition to this, Alicia also makes use a sniper rifle, which is cleverly implemented into the gameplay by way of a zoom-in button in place of normal “duck” button.

BOOM! HEADSHOT!!!

Perhaps the most impressive use of the sniper rifle in Alicia’s game is it’s use during a pivotal point in the main storyline wherein Alicia saves her brother from Giorgio Zott by shooting a pistol out of his hand.

It’s a nerve racking, one-shot, slow-motion sequence that is largely reminiscent of Namco’s Point Blank/Gun Bullet series.

After saving Alicia’s brother, whole experience culminates with a fast-paced battle against Jake Hernandez, a traitor to the Lukano Liberation Army.

The battle is fought under a strict time limit, and is perhaps the most difficult boss battle in the entire game.

Sorry, no pics, so you're stuck with The Fat Man.

In all, Alicia’s missions are intensely varied and excellent throughout, with many of the mission adopting Crisis Mission parameters, such as extremely limited ammo, time, and even the occasional innocent civilian from time to time.

That’s not to say that Time Crisis 3 doesn’t include Crisis Missions of it’s own, however their largely the same as the previous game, so we’ll consider that covered from last time.

COVERED.

Aside from it’s exceptionally colorful and action movie-esque plot, another highlight to Time Crisis 3 was it’s soundtrack.

In short, the soundtrack of Time Crisis 3 is excellent, regardless of it’s connection to the Time Crisis series.

Time Crisis 1’s soundtrack consisted of only a minute or two of of actual composition, with most of it’s running time being made up of variations of the same core theme.

Time Crisis 2’s soundtrack was greatly expanded from the first, however the instrumentation was weaker and not as engaging as the first.

Time Crisis 3 however, has a very robust and exhilarating soundtrack, that while bearing very little resemblance, if any, to the previous entries in the series, definitely stands out as perhaps the best of all Time Crisis games.

My favorite track, by far, was the Stage 2-1 music:

A close second was the first bosses theme:

Sadly, Wild Dog’s theme is once again a step down from it’s original debut, however, given his severely demoted standing among the other villains in the game, it’s entirely appropriate.

Despite Time Crisis 3’s relative lack of difficulty, and borderline childish aesthetic, it stands as a worthy successor to the series, if not a dramatically different one.

Check back for a possible Part IV!

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“Two-Player Simultaneous Gameplay”

Chicks, whips and helicopters, oh my!

My first experience with the Double Dragon series came in the form of playing Double Dragon II: The Revenge with my older brother on the NES.

Our parent’s didn’t really have any objection to the idea of us playing video games, but after I was born, they insisted that a majority of the games they bought us have “two-player simultaneous gameplay.”

I remember my brother and I liked to say that ’cause it made us feel smart.

Anyways, outside of maybe Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game on the NES, Double Dragon II was the first beat-em-up I can recall playing.

I can attest that my experiences with both games are largely responsible for my lifelong passion for side-scrollers.

As a child I largely preferred playing Ninja Turtles over Double Dragon, not because I thought it was a better game, but because I didn’t suck at it.

… And because you got to be one of the Ninja Turtles in it.

C'mon now, are you telling me you'd pick the guy with the pompadour over a Ninja FUCKING Turtle?

You see, even though my brother kept most of the instruction booklets for our video games, I almost never took the time to read them.

As far I could tell though, my brother did, ’cause throughout all of my childhood he seemed to know every game we owned like the back of his hand.

Well, maybe not as well as Batman knows his, but still...

The differences in the complexity of the gameplay and controls between the two games was typically what made me lean towards Ninja Turtles over Double Dragon, that and the overall difficulty.

The depth of Ninja Turtles II’s gameplay consisted of standard attacks, jumping, jump kicking, and the so-key-to-the-game-you-would-be-crazy-to-play-the-game-without-it-SPECIAL ATTACK.

See diagram below:

Double Dragon on the other hand, utilized an intuitive (or counter-intuitive, depending on how you feel about it) control scheme that permanently mapped the two NES face buttons to specific directional attacks, B for left, A for right.

On top of that, both buttons had to be pressed SIMULTANEOUSLY (love that word) to perform a jump, during which one could perform a jump kick with the additional press of either face button, or a spin kick by pressing both buttons at the height of the jump.

You know that last thing, about the spin kick? Yeah, nobody told me about that.

Whenever I’d play Double Dragon with my brother, or any other game for that matter, I would find myself whining to him:

“How do I play!? What’s this button do!? How did you DOOOOOO thaaaaat…?”

Of course, being as he was the older brother, he wouldn’t tell me… or he’d smack me upside the head and not tell me.

On the off chance we were playing a head-to-head, two-player versus game though, he’d school me with whatever move I wanted to know how to do.

Pretty much every match between my brother and I.

Needless to say, in a two-player co-op game like Double Dragon, I was more of a liability than a help to my brother’s progress, especially if we were playing “Game B” AKA “Let’s-forget-about-saving-the-world-and-beat-the-shit-out-of-each-other, ON ACCIDENT” mode.

I could only occasionally pull off the spin kick through mindless button mashing, and almost never pulled off the SUPER UPPERCUT or instant kill SUPER KNEE, (press both face buttons while recovering from a jump landing) but even so, the game was good fun, provided I had my brother there to do the fighting for me.

I remember shrieking in terror whenever we ran across any of the Abobo’s with hair.

Doesn't take a genius to know which one's more powerful.

Yeah, getting cornered and thrown into a fucking hole by a big asshole named Abobo EVERY FUCKING DAY will do that to you.

EVERY. FUCKING. DAY.

I remember late in level 4 there was a sequence where you are trapped in a one way corridor with spikes on the ceiling.

Jumping is obviously a bad idea here, which is unfortunate, seeing as nearly every useful attack in the game can only be executed after standing up or landing a jump.

In most cases this resulted in massive amounts of fail, typically generated by the long-haired Abobo that decides to show up at the last minute.

That is, unless you were a smart person and stood in the one safe spot in the entire corridor and let your enemies walk face-first into your attacks.

Guess which one I was, I dare you.

All in all, my relationship with Double Dragon II as a child was kind of love-hate, very similar to my relationship to Star Fox.

I wasn’t very good at the game, and only rarely reached the later stages, but had fun with it and kept playing it anyway.

To be honest, I believe I beat Double Dragon II only once, with the help of my brother, of course.

The last stage consisted of standard NES cheapness, including instant death spike traps and “clones” of pretty much every boss you faced in the game up to this point

Even these twin ninja fucks.

At the end of the stage you face off with a pair of purplish-black “shadow clones” of the two player characters, Billy and Jimmy Lee.

They were a pain in the ass, but no more so than your average Abobo.  Although I don’t think they could measure up to an Abobo with hair…

Defeating the “shadow clones” normally results in a premature ending to the game, but because my brother always insisted we play on SUPREME WARRIOR mode, AKA hard mode, we were treated to a showdown with the real final boss.

And let me tell you, that last battle was fucking epic.

The whole thing begins in some sort of underground tunnel, where the only person standing before you is a woman that’s supposed to be Billy’s lady friend, Marian.

Kind of a big deal seeing as she was riddled with bullets at the beginning of the game.

Machine Gun Willy used M-16 on wild Marian! It's not very effective...

As soon as you step forward to embrace/punch Marian, the screen goes black, the girl disappears, and out of nowhere some crazy, cape wearing, green-haired fuck appears on a platform in the background!

Look at 'im... Standin' up there... bein' all cool n'shit... Ass.

The background fades up from black to reveal some sort of galactic/astral landscape where the Troll Doll dude apparently has god-like powers, ’cause believe me, he fights like a cheap bitch.

His move set basically consists punches, gravity defying mule kicks, spin punches, and back flips, lots and lots of back flips…

Oh yeah, and most of the time he’s invisible.

Just like this. Except without the red bullshit.

You’d think that as a kid I’d be pretty annoyed by this pig fucker and his broken ass fighting wouldn’t you?

Well, that would be the case, if I hadn’t drained all of my continues during the fight with the “shadow-clones.”

Behold: The extent of my Double Dragon skills circa 1990.

That’s right, the only time I got to see the last boss, and I didn’t even survive to fight him.

But that’s okay, I didn’t mind, so long as I got to stick around and watch.

Knowing me, I probably annoyed the shit out of my him by talking too much and generally being a pain-in-the-ass little brother, but regardless, I was happy just to be sitting in front of the TV with my brother.

Now that's just about the most adorable thing I've ever seen.

My brother fought long and hard, and by that I mean he stood in place and constantly performed the spin kick attack, causing the boss, invisible or not, to repeatedly walk into his attacks.

Okay maybe “epic” wasn’t the best word to describe the final battle, but as a kid, when your older brother is seconds away from beating the game, a game you’ve never seen the ending to; and the music suddenly changes to this*:

Yeah, you get pretty excited.

Ultimately it was these kind of moments that kept me coming back to Double Dragon, as well as most co-op in general.

Back then, video games were not something I devoted any time to outside of playing alongside my brother or my friends.

Somewhere down the road though, I think my attitude towards gaming changed from viewing it as a privilege, a precious experience granted to me by my friends and family, to that of disposable, time killing entertainment.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy video games, just on a more superficial level.

However, I used to look forward to playing games.

Nowadays I am only able to, and only do play games when I have some sort of gap to fill in my schedule.

I’m never expecting to, or even really want to be playing games, I just kind of fall back on it when I don’t have enough time to watch a movie, or it’s too cold to go for a walk.

Every now and again though, I’ll have a friend over and we’ll sit down in front of the TV for a quick game.

We don’t play all day like we used to, but it’s still every bit as fun as it was when I was a kid.

Games are fun, but they’re always even better with a friend.

Or a brother.

*Sidenote:  This music track is called “Roar of the Double Dragons” and it is used, with good reason, as the final battle theme in most Double Dragon games.

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