November 5, 2011 • 5:36 PM 0
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.
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.
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.
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!
September 16, 2011 • 7:34 PM 1
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
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.
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
Then again, these days it’s almost a tradition to include at least 1 overpowered athlete in sports games.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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!
June 15, 2011 • 7:12 PM 13
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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…
May 16, 2011 • 7:45 PM 1
#4. Mega Man X4 – Makenai Ai ga Kitto Aru
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.
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.
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!