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Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped Death Reel

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Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back Death Reel

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Crash Bandicoot Death Reel

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Great Composers You Ought To Know: Reijiro Koroku Pt. 2

Pictured: Japanese composer, Reijiro Koroku.

I didn’t plan on dividing this post over 2 days, but as fate would have it, I just had too damn much to say!

That being said, today we’ll be continuing our look at some of my favorite works of composer Reijiro Koroku.

After Godzilla 1984, the next big soundtrack I can remember hearing from Koroku, was his work on the Kyoshoku Soko Guyver OVA series.

Guyver: The Man-Boobs That Kill.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, my cousin back in Hawaii turned me on to the Guyver manga way back in the day, and ever since it’s served as a huge influence on my creativity.

Something about the incredibly detailed, yet purposely hoaky character designs, combined with the darkness and severity of the storyline resonated with me in a way that makes me hopeful the manga will eventually reach a logical conclusion.

On that note, when I first found out that a Guyver anime existed way back in the day, you can sure as hell bet I went out of my way to track it down as soon as I could.

Unfortunately, as it turns out the 12 part OVA series was actually kind of ho-hum, even by the standards of an impressionable grade-schooler.

The voice cast was pretty good, and the animation was decent if not inconsistent, however the plot was an absolutely horrid distillation of the source material, cutting short many memorable sequences, and outright ignoring a number of important story beats.

Oh yeah, and unless you want to see some of the most hideous animation ever put to film this side of a budget hentai, then you’ll probably want to avoid even looking at a single frame of episodes 7 and beyond.

Aw, come on! Drawing gray bubbles on someone to symbolize melting DOES NOT count as legitimate animation!

Seriously, I loves me some Guyver, but that was some ugly shit.

That ugliness aside, much like the not-always-so-fondly-remembered Godzilla 1984, the Guyver OVA just happened to benefit from an incredible soundtrack courtesy of Reijiro Koroku.

Though the music is stylistically very similar to his work in Godzilla 1984 just a few years earlier, Koroku’s Guyver soundtrack incorporates synthesizer and electric guitar in many of the tracks.

What can I say, it was the late 80’s and synthesizers were very much “in” at the time.

That’s not to say Koroku’s more electronic approach to the Guyver soundtrack was at all a poor choice.

Heavily inspired by tokusatsu heroes like Kamen Rider and Kikaida, Guyver’s inherently tragic character and brutally violent atmosphere made the property a perfect match for Reijiro Koroku’s potent melodramatic style.

Just give a listen to probably my favorite track in the series, included in the first third of this video, to see what I mean:

Once again brooding and downright creepy at times, Koroku’s score for Guyver shows a great deal of restraint for what basically amounts to a superhero story, however in many ways I feel this is it’s strength.

Like chanbara films of old, the style of action present in Guyver is largely efficient, with each movement and attack being distinct as opposed to the more repetitive style found in Dragonball Z among other things:

I sincerely apologize if you were dumb enough to watch all of that.

Because of this, the music actually benefits from keeping it’s crescendos in check, as otherwise the music would overpower the intensely violent, but relatively low energy nature of the onscreen action.

This track, once again featured in the first third of this clip, serves as perhaps one of the better examples of how Koroku’s powerful, but relatively lax music could effectively supply the series with solid action beats:

Despite how much I love the soundtrack for Guyver, the one downside to it is that the score is very limited in terms of breadth.

Composed largely in suites intended to be recycled throughout the series, the music is quite beautiful by itself, but loses some of it’s luster when heard in the OVA, as the tracks become repetitive after a time, and as such, lose their distinction and sense of place.

Even so, the Guyver OVA soundtrack was once of the first import CDs I ever purchased, and to this day I’m glad I picked it up.

Moving on, the last time I can recall hearing Reijiro Koroku’s music, was from his work on the early PS2 title, Kessen and it’s sequels.

That's a pimp-ass mustache.

An RTS set in the Japanese warring states period, Kessen was a big hit that enjoyed several sequels, however it’s not one that I ever really got caught up in.

Chances are I was to busy playing garbage like Street Fighter EX 3 to give a shit about Kessen.

Despite my lack of appreciation for it, Kessen’s music was a whole ‘nother story altogether.

Truth be told, much like was the case with Noozles, I wasn’t aware that Koroku had done the soundtrack for Kessen, however when I did learn of this, I was not at all surprised given his track record.

Booming and proud, the soundtrack for Kessen brings to mind Koroku’s military marches for Godzilla 1984:

Lacking the brooding tone of Koroku’s previous works mentioned earlier, the Kessen series had an appropriately colorful sound to it, though one that was quite dignified despite it’s epic scale and over-the-top design aesthetics.

It’s funny, hearing this music again kind of makes me want to go back and actually give Kessen a try.

Based on what I remember hearing of it, I doubt I’d be disappointed if I did.

Anyway, that’s about everything I could think of to say about Reijiro Koroku.

Hopefully you learned something over these past 2 days, and if not, at least you got to hear to some nice music!

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Really Digging Deus Ex

In light of the insane number of A-list games coming out this season, I had assumed, well in advance; that I was likely going to forgo purchasing Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

It’s not that I wasn’t interested in the game, it’s just that when you look at the upcoming releases over the next couple of months, well, Deus Ex just doesn’t seem like as big of a deal as it likely should.

That being said, thanks to a very generous (and random) sale on Amazon.com, I found myself saying “Fuck it, it’s too cheap not to buy,” and a few clicks of the mouse later I found myself with a brand new copy of a heavily discounted Deus Ex.

Well, I’ve been playing around with it for awhile now, and I can honestly say, I’m happy I made the investment.

Mind you, it’s not a perfect game by any means, but there’s just so many little things about it that mean a lot to me personally.

I’m not really an avid fan of the Deus Ex series, in fact I only played the original for a few hours before deciding I didn’t need to finish it, but I do have a lot of love and respect for what it represents.

I’ve always been into the whole cyberpunk design aesthetic, and character customization/modification means enough to me that I’ve bought countless wrestling videogames purely for the character creator function, so on paper; the Deus Ex games are very much up my alley.

The new Deus Ex includes both of these aspects of the original, while adding a new layer of polish and presentation that make it far more accessible than it’s predecessors.

For example, the core gameplay; the stealth and shooting, really feel on par with a straight action game.

Action RPGs that feel “floaty” or involve a lot of noticeable number crunching in their combat mechanics are kind of a pet peeve of mine.

I hate shooting at someone in a game, and then “feeling it” as the game computes my character’s attributes, applies them to the statistics of his gun, and then applies said data to the attributes of the enemy I’m shooting to determine the amount of damage I deal.

It’s hard to explain, but you know it when you feel it.

I don’t know about you, but in my world guns do gun-like damage regardless of what “level” my Marksman skill is at, or how hard I pull the trigger.

I don’t get this feeling when I’m playing Deus Ex.

On that note, I feel I should probably point out that, as of writing this, I haven’t killed anyone in Deus Ex!

Early on I found the Metal Gear/Rainbow Six: Vegas-esque stealth mechanics to be robust and rewarding to the point in which I never found a need to kill anyone.

Oddly enough, I’ve found it very rewarding playing through the game relying exclusively on taser-ings and choke holds.

It’s funny though, as good as the stealth mechanics are, in many ways they are somewhat primitive.

Sure, the guards are more responsive to sound than in most games, and their sight distance is atypically high, but at the end of the day; the AI is actually kind of dumb.

For instance, in Metal Gear Solid 2, guards make use of radios, and if they don’t check in frequently enough; reinforcements are deployed to assess the situation.

This always made maneuvering around guards an ideal course of action over fighting/neutralizing them, but it also made the game somewhat frustrating at times.

While the enemy AI and stealth mechanics of Deus Ex are technically less complex than this, I feel it’s a gameplay decision that lends itself well to making the game much more streamlined and fun.

In all, sneaking around in Deus Ex is one of the more enjoyable parts of the game, especially when you’re playing the way I am with a totally non-lethal character.

I’ve heard the AI is less than stellar in direct combat, but that’s something I likely won’t be encountering until I start a new playthrough.

Moving on, another aspect of Deus Ex that surprised me, was the hacking mini-game.

I can’t stand locked doors/sealed off areas in games, so I knew I was going to be doing a lot of hacking in Deus Ex; which had me a bit worried it was going to ruin the experience for me.

To be fair, it took me awhile to warm up to it, but now I think I really like hacking in Deus Ex.

The controls are a bit sloppy on the console, but it’s not overly complicated, and more importantly; it’s quick.

Few things are more annoying in games than mini-games that eat up too much time and take you out of the core experience.

To date, I have yet to encounter a door I couldn’t open with a little finessing, something I can honestly say was not the case in games like Oblivion.

Speaking of Oblivion, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the fact that Deus Ex is a fairly streamlined and distinctly un-sandbox-y experience.

I don’t know about you, but I find sandbox games to be massively intimidating.

I’m very much a completionist when it comes to most things in life, so the idea of being dropped into a massive world with free rein to do whatever the fuck I want, is not exactly ideal.

I need structure in my gaming, a clear purpose or direction to keep me on track.

Without it, I tend to freeze up, get lost, or worse yet, end up spending 40 hours in the first town of the game and never even start the main quest.

In this way, Deus Ex’s small-ish city setting and mission based narrative really “does it” for me.

I’ve never felt lost or daunted, and for once, I actually feel rewarded when I do most of the quests.

That being said, the conversation system of Deus Ex, while simple, is exceptional.

Most of it’s success can be attributed to good writing and line delivery, but I really enjoy conversing with characters and being forced to remain attentive in order to succeed.

On one occasion I found myself having to rely on information imparted to me from optional documents, items I could’ve easily picked up and not read.

You can tell a game’s writing is exceptional when you actually want to read the random notes and e-mails scattered throughout the environment.

The one downside to the dialogue of the game, and this is totally just me being weird, is the very obvious use of a largely Canadian voice cast.

I realize the game was developed by EA Montreal, so Canadian voice actors are to be expected, but I’m one of those jackasses that giggles whenever he hears an “uh-boot” or “bee-n” instead of “about” and “been.”

It’s a minor gripe, but it actually does make the drama a little harder to swallow for me, so I figured I’d mention it.

As of now, I’m currently in the second half of the Hengsha segment of the game, and I’m still enjoying every moment.

I’ve read that a lot of people are extremely disappointed in some of the game’s boss fights, however as of now I have no issue with them.

True, I’ve only fought 1 as of now, but to me, it didn’t seem that bad at all.

Maybe it’s just because I entered into the fight ill-equipped (non-lethal playthrough, remember?) and actually had to scramble for ammo and weapons before I could even begin to fight back, but I honestly had some fun fighting the first boss.

Hell, any occasion in which you have to take on a grenade and mini-gun toting hulk of a boss with nothing but fire extinguishers and a silenced pistol has got to have some redeemable qualities, right?

Anyway, there’s a whole lot more to be said, but for now that’s all I’ve got.

Don’t be afraid to check out Deus Ex, it’s a lot more fun than it lets on.

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The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, Runner-Ups


Well folks, it finally happened.

Yesterday we finally finished working our way up through the ranks of The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, and named Mike Tyson as the rightful owner of the #1 spot.

As per the norm whenever I put together a top 10 list, today we’ll be taking a look at some of the runner-ups to the list.

Some of the omissions surprise even myself, so expect a few exceptionally tough cookies to pop up in the proceedings.

That being said, let’s get to take a look at the top 5 runner-ups, presented, for my convenience; in no particular order:

#5. SS01-Schwarzgeist – Einhander

Pictured: The Astraea FGA Mk.I does battle with the heavily armed orbital satellite, the SS01-Schwarzgeist.

In case you’re wondering “Schwarzgeist” is German for “Black Ghost.”

With a name like that, the developers of Einhander were pretty much obligated to make this guy totally badass.

To be fair, they also went ahead and made pretty much the entire game absolutely fucking badass.

I’ve mentioned Einhander elsewhere on this blog, but for those who might not know, the game is a supremely difficult Playstation 1 scrolling shooter developed by Square.

While the game is populated by a host of tough bosses, each sporting a number of variable attack patterns depending on the approach you take in fighting them; “The Black Ghost” is likely the most difficult overall.

He also happens to have one of the better tracks in the game as his battle theme.

Boasting an absurdly complex attack pattern that is nearly impossible to grasp without burning a continue or 2, “The Black Ghost” is a brutal challenge that is nevertheless, much easier to defeat through brute force than pure skill.

That is to say, coming into the fight with the right weapons *Cough!* Grenade Launcher! *Cough!* is key to victory.

The fact that “The Black Ghost” has a definable and not all that well hidden weakness, is likely the reason he didn’t make the Top 10.

Despite this, his despicable variety of attack patterns, combined with Einhander’s unforgiving gameplay system of only allowing you 1 life before each continue; make a strong case for his presence among the runner-ups.


 

#4. Isaac Frost – Fight Night Champion

Pictured: Andre Bishop goes toe-to-toe with heavyweight champion Isaac Frost AKA The White Guy.

Another game that I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, Fight Night Champion’s inclusion of a nearly invincible final boss came of somewhat of a surprise to me.

Then again, these days it’s almost a tradition to include at least 1 overpowered athlete in sports games.

That’s right, I’m lookin’ at you Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson and NBA Jam Scottie Pippen

Designed to be fought in a round-to-round, objective based system; the actual procedure involved in fighting Isaac Frost contributes almost as much to his difficulty as his actual fighting ability.

Possessed of unbalanced punching power, speed, and stamina, Frost holds all the cards from the opening bell, and yet his beastly-ness is further bolstered by the fact that the game forces you to fight him a certain way.

Essentially, throughout each round of the fight you are required to follow a pre-determined gameplan, be it using your legs and hanging back, or landing haymakers to the body.

It’s an entirely inorganic procedure that doesn’t exist outside of the “story mode” of the game, resulting in whatever skills you learned playing the game competitively getting tossed to the curb in terms of usefulness.

To date I have yet to beat Isaac Frost, largely due to his insane attribute bonuses, but the fact that the game forces me to fight him the way it wants me to really grinds my gears to an exceptional degree.

With that, I leave you with this video of Frost obliterating Super Middleweight, Anthony Mundine:


 

#3. General Akboob/Hitler – Total Carnage

Pictured: Captain Carnage and Major Mayhem do battle with the giant heads of General Akboob and Adolf Hitler.

In terms of pure quarter munching arcade shooter goodness, few games can measure up to Smash T.V. and Total Carnage.

Virtually identical in terms of gameplay, both are exceedingly difficult top-down shooters that absolutely revel in chewing up players and spitting them out.

While every second of these games is a challenge of the most epic variety, the bosses featured in them are quite likely the most difficult aspect of them.

On that note, I don’t think many people would argue with me in crowning General Akboob, the final boss of Total Carnage, as the toughest among them.

His pattern involves filling the screen with projectiles at all times.

Most of his attacks have an accurate homing capability.

And worst of all, he has no less than a half dozen forms, one of which is a giant Hitler head!

I have no idea what that has to do with anything, especially since the very Russian looking/sounding Akboob is supposed to be Middle Eastern, but whatever it was the 90’s.

Anyway, all of this results in a horribly drawn out battle of endurance.

… A battle of endurance in a game where your character dies in one hit.

You do the math.


 

#2. Emerald and Ruby Weapon – Final Fantasy VII

Pictured: 2 brave parties face down the infamous Emerald and Ruby Weapons.

I just realized this, but there weren’t any RPG bosses on our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights.

I’m guessing it has something to do with my own (heavily biased) opinions, but the simple fact of the matter is that I really haven’t played an RPG since Final Fantasy VIII way back in ’99.

I did however, play quite a few before that point, mostly of JRPG variety.

That being said, while I’ve heard that some of the Shin Megami Tensei bosses are absolutely balls out insane in terms of their capacity to rob you of hours of your life, I haven’t actually played any of those games, so I don’t really have an educated opinion in that matter.

The point is, from my experiences with pre-1999 RPGs, Emerald and Ruby Weapon were the only 2 bosses that I recall having an inordinate amount of trouble with.

From what I hear, the debate rages on which of the 2 is more difficult, though I got my ass served by both of them equally, hence their dual ownership of the their spot among the runner-ups.

I remember Emerald had, no joke, about a million hit points, and Ruby was able to eject your characters from the fight, making doing battle with either of the pair an absolute pain in the ass.

From what I’ve been told, much of the strategy involved in defeating either of the 2 involves an incredible amount of dedication and prep work, as well as a healthy dose of luck.

When Final Fantasy VII came out, I was barely a pre-teen, so I had neither the patience nor the intelligence to figure out which angle to attack them from.

This resulted in me getting literally whipped to death by Ruby, and sat on by Emerald more times than I’d care to admit.

That being said, here’s a clip of some Narutard beating them both into the ground.

Don’t ask me why he dubbed the Final Fantasy themed J-ballad over it….


 

#1. Geese Howard – Fatal Fury

Pictured: Terry Bogard blocks a Reppuken from his nemesis, Geese Howard.

Geese Howard was, and always shall remain, one of the toughest bosses in all of fighting games.

Oh yeah, and he’s quite possibly one of the pimp-est videogames of all time to boot.

That’s saying a lot considering how far fighting games have come since 1991.

Possessed of a limited, but utterly devastating repertoire of moves, Geese was tough to beat for all the reasons you’d expect an SNK boss to be.

He was better than you in every way, especially in his capacity to dole out chip damage on par with some of your clean hits.

Despite this, I’d hesitate to call Geese cheap, merely inordinately difficult and just a little bit frustrating.

Much like Sagat from the original Street Fighter, Geese was a fighting game boss who’s bread and butter consisted of brutal and relentless fireball traps.

Perhaps worst of all though, ‘ole Geese also had a counter-throw capable of cancelling most of your melee attacks.

I don’t think I have to tell you that he often employed this technique with pinpoint timing, often using it to ruin your offensive rallies at the most inopportune of moments.


 

Thus concludes The Azn Badger’s Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights!

Thanks for reading!

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Isaac Frost Might Be One Of The Hardest Bosses I’ve Ever Fought

So, I’ve owned, and have been playing the shit out of Fight Night Champion for a few months now.

While my first impression of the game was rather poor, after several hours tooling around in the demo; I finally decided to break down and buy the game.

After having gotten the hang of the new control scheme, (for like the 4th time in the franchise’s history…) the game opened up, and now I’m proud to say it’s one of the better games in the series.

In either case, it’s not everyday boxing videogames aimed at hardcore boxing fans are released; so even if the game was utter crap, I still probably would’ve picked up Fight Night Champion from a bargain bin at some point.

Anyway, over the past few months I’ve obliterated a handful of people in online play, I’ve rewritten history through countless bouts against the CPU; but as of now, I’ve yet to complete the game’s much lauded Champion Mode.

For those who are unaware, Champion Mode represents a first for the series, in that it serves as a sort of pre-arranged campaign mode, complete story cutscenes between and during bouts, featuring it’s own cast of characters.

Sadly, the actual narrative is kind of lame, with most of the characters being shallow stereotypes of the genre, and much of the dialogue coming across as more than a little inorganic due to the rather forced inclusion of exposition-y game speak.

"This guy's gone down on body shots in the past! You should hit him with body shots this round! Body shots kid, remember? Body shots!"

At the end of the day, Champion Mode ends up being a slightly watered down version of Soulblade’s Edge Master Mode, or Street Fighter Alpha 3’s World Tour Mode.

Basically, one plays through various boxing matches as the character Andre Bishop, though several matches require the use of specialized tactics or the completion of certain in-match achievements in order to win.

While limited in the sense that I’ve played similar, and better modes in games from 15 years ago; Champion Mode was a welcome addition to the franchise, though with one little catch:

They made the “last boss” too fuckin’ hard!

The “last boss” of Fight Night Champion is a massive, tattoo bearing, short-haired motherfucker named Isaac Frost.

I’d make a joke about how Frost looks more than a little more like a UFC spokesmodel, or I don’t know, RANDY FUCKING ORTON; than a heavyweight boxer, but doing so would be beneath me.

... I'll just let the picture do the talking.

I’d also make a joke about the plausibility of an unbeatable white American heavyweight champion in this day and age being slim to none, but some would perceive that as racist.

I’d perceive that a statement of fact, but to each his own…

Like any “bad guy” in a boxing story, Frost is a massive prick, though seemingly for no other reason than the fact that he likes being a prick.

The man has zero backstory, so there’s no real explaining his prick-ish demeanor; but the point is:

Frost is an ass.  You’re supposed to hate him.  In spite of all this, he also happens to be a FUCKING BEAST in the ring.

Thanks Google, now I know that there actually is a game called "Beast Boxing."

That last part serves as my reason for not having beaten Frost as of yet.

I don’t know if it’s brilliant programming on the part of the folks over at EA Montreal, or really fuckin’ cheap programming; but Frost is a fuckin’ force of nature to contend with.

He’s very tall, making his long strides more than a match for your best footwork.

He’s a genius at cutting off the ring, leading to more than a few instances where he actually tricks you into stepping right into his fists.

His punching power is off-the-fucking-charts, making 2-3 consecutive punches a recipe for putting you on queer street, or flat on the mat.

And on top of that, his AI is entirely based on the Fight Night engine, meaning his actions are engineered to be unpredictable.

While most videogame bosses typically hold all of the above advantages in terms of attributes, the one thing that really makes Frost unique, at least to me; is the fact that he doesn’t have any set attack patterns.

In short, like any fight in a Fight Night game, the battle with Frost plays out like an actual boxing match.

There’s no golden mechanic for winning the fight, with every engagement serving as a moment-to-moment clash of wits.

I’ve always made it my business to win underdog fights against the computer in Fight Night games, largely because I derive a great deal of satisfaction from winning said bouts; but fighting Isaac Frost is an entirely different affair.

Like many fights in Champion Mode, you’re expected to take on Frost in several stages, employing different tactics as the rounds go by.

The first 2 rounds see you dancing around Frost and basically trying not to get hit.

Pictured: What happens when you try to hang back on tall guys.

I can usually do this without going down, but not always.

The next 3 rounds require you to land a total of 75 heavy body blows on Frost, and that’s as far as I’ve managed to get against him.

I’ve tried stepping into his chest to diminish the punching power of his long arms, but usually I get caught by an uppercut.

I’ve tried leaping in after one of his jabs to hit him while he’s pulling back his punches, but I usually get caught by an uppercut.

I’ve tried hanging back and using my head movement to counter and then step around him, but I usually get caught by an uppercut… Among other things.

Pictured: Me.

The point is, Frost’s punching power is so dominating, and his punch accuracy so sharp, that I simply can’t find a way to get inside on him without getting brained in the process.

After much frustration, I’ve come to the conclusion that Isaac Frost may be one of the most difficult boss fights I’ve ever run across.

Oh well, at least I can still enjoy the game without beating him…

Filed under: Boxing, Games, Wrestling, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Top 10 Videogame Songs, #2


Yesterday we took a good long look at one of the most sophisticated and beautiful songs in videogame history.

While one would expect that we would continue with this trend as we ascend the the prestigious Top 3 of the Top 10 Videogame Songs, I’m sorry to say that’s not the case.

Perhaps more now than ever, I feel I need to reiterate that:

This is my list, and you will respect EVERY DAMN THING I HAVE TO SAY.

*Ahem!* On that note, I’d like to introduce you to #2 on our list from the Playstation classic, Soul Edge/Blade:

#2. Soul Edge – The Edge of Soul

I realize now, more than ever; that I’m very much a product of my time.

The 90’s was the decade of the fighting game, and as such; games of that genre play host to some of my most beloved gaming memories.

Like many young boys of the day, I hopped on the Street Fighter 2 bus and rode that thing all the way to around 2005… when my fighting game reflexes mysteriously went down the crapper.

That’s a story for another day though.

Soul Blade was Namco’s sister series to their wildly popular and innovative 3D fighting series, Tekken.

Tekken = JAPAN.

Featuring some of the most impressive graphics and animations of day, as well as an in-depth “quest” mode for the home version, Soul Blade was a wildly addictive fighting game that was easy to pick up, but difficult to master.

In short, Soul Blade was kind of a big deal back in the day.

In an era when everyone wanted to play fighting games, but often lacked the technical competence to be competitive with their friends; Soul Blade was basically the go-to weekend rental of it’s time.

... A time that appears to have abruptly come to an end as of 5 minutes ago.

Soul Blade is one of maybe 2 games on this list I never owned, but in all seriousness; I probably put more hours into than most games I’ve owned.

From the gameplay, to the design, to the breathtaking soundtrack; Soul Blade was a top tier PS1 game, such that I honestly find myself tempted to pick it up again from time to time.

Which brings me to why “The Edge of Soul” ranks so high on my list.

I know it’s really fuckin’ stupid, but the opening cinematic of Soul Blade was, to the 10 year old me; one of the most mind-blowing and graphically spectacular sequences, ever.

Take a look for yourself:

FMV was still relatively new to me in 1997, (I had a shitty computer) but even so, the opening of Soul Blade was leaps and bounds beyond anything I’d seen in a game up to that point, possessing a degree of polish that even the FMV heavy Final Fantasy VII couldn’t begin to rival.

Everything element of the opening of Soul Blade, from the music cues, to the thoughtful selection of relevant clips that do much to flesh out the principle cast of the game; is top notch, such that I wouldn’t think it too far-fetched to name it as one of the best openings in gaming history.

Despite the inherent corniness of the song, “The Edge of Soul” had a fair amount to do with making both the opening of Soul Blade, and the game itself; as incredible and memorable as it was.

The lyrics and vocals are admittedly kind of weak, certainly nowhere near the grandeur of yesterday’s “The Best Is Yet To Come,” however the quality of the sampling and instrumentation of the music, combined with the pulse-pounding nature of the song; make for a terrific, if not consumately 90’s “pump up” song.

“The Best Is Yet To Come” may ooze substance and sophistication, and is indeed beautiful; but the simple fact of the matter is that it’s not a song I would ever really listen to outside of it’s usage in Metal Gear Solid.

“The Edge of Soul” is an undeniably fun song that I’ve kept in my library nearly as long as “Makenai Ai ga Kitto Aru,” and as such, I think I’d be lying to myself if I claimed “The Best Is Yet To Come” meant more to me.

Sorry kids, style beats substance this time.

Let this be an isolated incident…

Check back tomorrow as we crown our #1 on our list of the Top 10 Videogame Songs!

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The Top 10 Videogame Songs, #3


Well folks, we’ve finally reached the Top 3 of our Top 10 Videogame Songs, and appropriately enough; today marks the first occasion of a “serious” song adorning our list.

That’s not to say trashy Jpop isn’t without it’s value, it’s just not quite as substantive as some of the stuff that’s to come.

Pretty much every song on the list so far have been included in their respective games for the purpose of being “fun” or “colorful.”

Today though shit’s about to get REAL as we delve into the musical world of Metal Gear Solid:

#3. Metal Gear Solid – The Best Is Yet To Come

Assuming you skipped the lengthy (and mostly extraneous) briefing sequence at the beginning of the game, one’s first few musical minutes with Metal Gear Solid were bound to be some of the most memorable in gaming history.

I don’t know about you, but from the moment “The Best Is Yet To Come” first starts playing during the opening infiltration sequence of the game, I could tell Metal Gear Solid was going to be something truly special.

At that point in my life, you could probably count on 2 hands the number of games I had played that had any sort of digitized voice or CD quality audio, so needless to say; I was caught entirely off guard by Metal Gear’s use of a hauntingly beautiful traditional Irish song at that time.

To put things in perspective, I still had this in the back of my mind around the time I first played Metal Gear Solid:

Okay fine, that was actually kind of awesome, but you know what I mean…

Sung by Aoife Ní Fhearraigh, (good luck pronouncing that…) “The Best Is Yet To Come” stands out in my mind as one of the most memorable and thematic songs in gaming, if not the most beautiful.

Truth be told, it’s folksy nature prevents me from listening to it as often as some of the other songs on this list, but few can deny that it’s first minute, the one used repeatedly in the game to drive home the drama at key points; is utterly unforgettable.

In that sense, “The Best Is Yet To Come” won it’s high placement on this list largely due to it’s inestimable contribution to the gameplay experience of Metal Gear Solid.

Many of the songs on this list are opening and ending themes, songs that are awarded to the player for booting up or finishing the game.

“The Best Is Yet To Come” is very different from these songs in that it serves as the overarching theme song for the ENTIRETY of Metal Gear Solid, making it a key element in the overall experience.

Hell, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t genuinely touched by it’s inclusion in the Shadow Moses segment of Metal Gear Solid 4, as “The Best Is Yet To Come’s” presence in that game really served to bring the themes of the series full circle.

Anyway, enough gushing, that was song #3.

Check back tomorrow for something even better!

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The Top 10 Videogame Songs, #4


Wow, hard to believe we’ve actually gone 3 days on our list of the Top 10 Videogame Songs without mention of a Mega Man song.

That being said, today we reach #4 on our list, which takes us to that most awesome of Mega Man spin-offs, the Mega Man X series:

#4. Mega Man X4 – Makenai Ai ga Kitto Aru

Mega Man X4 was the first of the series to debut on the (at the time) next generation console, Sony’s Playstation.

While Mega Man X3 pushed the Super NES to it’s limits by throwing in a host of features, both notable and forgettable; X4 was a far more straightforward production, albeit one with sensational animation and sound.

Yes, that is in fact a giant walrus robot with fists as big as a Ski-doo.

While my initial reaction to X4 was actually kind of lukewarm when it first came out, it’s since grown on me and easily ranks as one of my top 3 in the series.

I suppose that’s not quite as big a deal as it sounds, given that the first 4 games out of a total of 8 are just about the only ones worth playing.

Seriously man, if ever there was a game series that lost it’s way in it’s second half, Mega Man X would have to be it.

Define "Lame": An onion robot with wind powers.

Mega Man rant aside, the song of the day, namely “Makenai Ai ga Kitto Aru” AKA “Unbeatable Love I Surely Have,” is one that I was sadly never fortunate to have experienced in-game.

Only featured in the Japanese version of the game, my initial exposure to “Makenai Ai ga Kitto Aru” came via the, then brand spankin’ new client download service, Morpheus.

I was in middle school, with access to a 56k modem, so you better believe I spent hours downloading Mega Man midi files and mp3s that I would later struggle to find programs to play them with.

In searching for “Rock Man” in Morpheus, I ran across a file with a series of squares for a name, which I would later find out was “Makenai Ai ga Kitto Aru.”

Given that it’s ranked #4 on this list, I’d say it goes without saying that I really like this song.

It’s been in my music library since 1997, and to date I haven’t gotten tired of it.

Sung by Yukie Nakama, the song has a rare combination of Jpop-y “uppity-ness” and sincerity that make it noteworthy in an typically soulless genre of music.

The instrumentation in particular is quite inspired, as some of the synthesized guitar work is exceptionally potent, lending a lot to the strength of Nakama’s beautiful vocals.

As great as the song is, it’s interesting to note that, after having finally heard it used in Mega Man X4, I honestly don’t think it fits all that well.

Take a look:

Great song, poor usage.

Anyway, that was #4, check back tomorrow as we crack the Top 3 of the Top 10 Videogame Songs!

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