Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks, #10-6

Hold onto your butts folks, we’ve finally made it to the Top 10 of the Top 25 NES Tracks!

Rest assured, while many of the entries on this list have been somewhat obscure, expect the majority of the remainder to consist of old favorites and themes from game series that are still going strong to this day.

That being said, let’s get to the first half of the Top 10!:

#10. Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode

“Golgo 13 Theme”


Remember when I said that you’d be familiar with all of the games in the Top 10?


Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode is a Vic Tokai espionage/action game based upon the massively epic manga series by Takao Saito, Golgo 13.

While I could bore you with a detailed description of the backstory of said manga, I find it’s easier to sum things up by saying this:

Golgo 13 is THE SHIT, and could give ROBERT FUCKING MULDOON a run for his money in terms of manliness and overall badassery.

Trust me, he’s seriously that fucking pimp…

 

 

THAT FUCKING PIMP.

 

Anyway, the NES version of Golgo 13, was neat game that I loved to play in my youth.

It was a serious game, with an involving and suitably “adult” storyline that really made you feel cool to be a part of, especially as a kid.

Basically, it felt good to play a game that had enough confidence in my intelligence to talk to me like a big kid and give me objectives that felt a little more mature than say, saving the goddamn princess.

 

*Sigh* Really?...

 

Half of the fun I had with Golgo 13, came in the form of the game’s theme music, which conveniently enough, could be brought up at any time simply by hitting the pause button!

Being as Golgo 13 is essentially the Japanese equivalent to James Bond, (only 10 times more badass an amoral) it’s only appropriate that his theme music in the game be a rousing and shlocky tune that would be right at home on a Ventures album.

Not only that, the Japanese version of the title screen has lyrics that flash on the screen in time to music, karaoke style!

I can read about 95% of it, maybe I should try and sing the fuckin’ song someday…

#9. Castlevania

“Vampire Killer”

I’ve never really been a Castlevania kid.

While I love Konami games, particularly of the 8 and 16-bit eras, Castlevania was perhaps the one flagship title in their library that I never really cared much for.

I never liked how the jumping system was heavily momentum based, so much so that mid-air adjustments were nigh impossible.

I hated the cheap, pitfall deaths that were just a constantly spawning flying medusa head away.

 

Oh you fuckin' bitch...

 

And I suppose it doesn’t help either that I don’t care much for Gothic art and design.

On the NES, the only Castlevania I ever played was the very first.

While I ended up walking away from the game feeling it was alright, but not great, the music was, and is, something that will always stick with me.

The Castlevania games are known throughout gaming circles for their incredible soundtracks, and rightfully so.

While many of the compositions of the early games have since gone on to be remixed, and usually improved, my favorite track from the original NES game was the first stage theme, “Vampire Killer.”

“Vampire Killer” survives to this day as the single most prominent theme in the series.

I love it’s light-hearted yet spooky feel, as right off the bat it cues you in on the fact that:

 

 

"This game is gonna' be all horror n'shit, but don't worry, it's still an action game!"

 

It’s a wonderful, timeless piece of gaming music history, and though I still don’t care much for Castlevania, any Castlevania; it still deserves it’s spot on this list.

#8. Super Mario Bros.

“World 1-1”


What’s this?

The Mario theme, placed at #8 on a Top 25 list!?

BLASPHEMY.

Yes, I’ll admit it, I’m surprised it’s ranked as low as it is too.

Truth of the matter is, I knew it had to go somewhere on here, but I ended up arbitrarily placing it “somewhere” in the Top 10 to satisfy my conscience, while at once ensuring that my true favorites got the justice they deserved.

The Super Mario Bros. Theme is game music.

Plain and simple.

It’s one of the most memorable and enduring arrangements in all of gaming history, and no force on Earth, no matter how hipster or counter-culture, could keep it from receiving a spot on any gaming music Top 10 list.

 

"Yeah, I don't care much for Mario, too mainstream. I only play obscure bullshit like Faria and Faxanadu... On my original NES... On a TV from 1982... While wearing a shirt from 1986..."

 

Mario games are something that I’d like to think can appeal to anyone.

They’re fun, straightforward, and typically blessed with a difficulty level that is appropriately challenging, but never punishingly so.

While I’ve always liked Mario games, in truth I never really played them that much.

My brother stomped the shit out of pretty much all of them up to Super Mario 64, but despite living in a household that owned most of said games, I spent most of my time playing other stuff.

 

 

Pictured: Other stuff.

 

I suppose I was too into beat ’em ups in my youth to take the time to sit down and work my way through the platforming goodness of Mario.

Anyway, there’s nothing I can say about “World 1-1” that hasn’t been said, so I won’t try.

I can’t say I fully agree with my placement of this particular track, but I’m happy with my Top 5, so I figure it all balances out.

#7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game

“Technodrome Stage Theme”


Okay, so we’re all in agreement that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the shit back in the early 90’s, right?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game, was the NES version of the Konami Ninja Turtles arcade game found in virtually every arcade/pizza joint in America.

 

 

If I were very rich, and very stupid, I would own one of these...

 

While it lacked the graphical polish of the arcade version, much like in the case of Turtles in Time; I’ve always maintained that the console version was superior.

Aside from including 2 extra stages and unique boss characters, the console version also had better controls and a more manageable and less “quarter-munching” difficulty level.

Ninja Turtles 2 was easily one of the most played games in me and my brother’s NES library.

It was fun, it was a Ninja Turtles product, it had “two player simultaneous gameplay,” and did I mention it was the NINJA FUCKING TURTLES!!?

I remember bringing Ninja Turtles 2 over to my friend’s houses, playing it all fuckin’ day, and then sitting down and watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze over and over again until my mom picked me up.

 

 

Y'know, back in the 5 minutes or so we all thought this guy was the coolest thing EVER.

 

THAT, my friends, is what childhood was all about.

The Technodrome Stage Theme” is not only an incredible, and undeniably “Konami” piece of music, it was also something that was quite elusive to me in my youth.

Possessed of a rockin’ and moody quality that really jumps out to you as “last level” music, the “Technodrome Stage Theme” was a track that I didn’t get to hear that often because, well, Ninja Turtles 2 was actually kind of a hard game.

In many ways, me having only had a few opportunities to hear this track in my youth played a huge role in elevating this track to such a high spot on the list.

Oh yeah, that and the fact that it’s a fucking awesome piece of pulse-pounding, pizza-munching, teenage-mutant-ninja action music!

Turtle Power FOREVER.

#6. Blaster Master

“Stage 1 Theme”


After 3 of the bottom 5 of the tracks on this list came from Sunsoft products, did you really think there wouldn’t be at least one more game from them on here?

It’s true, I dig Sunsoft music, and when it comes to Sunsoft’s music library, I can think of no other game to better represent them than Blaster Master.

 

 

*Ahem!* That would be, "Master Blaster."

 

Blaster Master was a game I used to play at my barber’s house.

No, not the one that gave me a Nintendo Power, a different one.

Like most of the games on this list, I never really got anywhere in Blaster Master, but fuck man, I really wish I had…

I enjoyed every minute I played of the tank-hopping, grenade tossing action of the first stage in Blaster Master, and as always; a lot of my enjoyment came from the background music.

The “Stage 1 Theme” of Blaster Master is a terrific piece of music that really succeeds in capturing the colorful and adventurous spirit of the game and it’s setting.

It really feels like music you’d hear in a weird sci-fi world while patrolling the forests in a giant tank in search of your pet frog.

 

 

Hah! Thought I was kidding about the plot, didn't you?

 

That last sentence didn’t really make a whole lot of sense, so let me rephrase:

The “Stage 1 Theme” of Blaster Master is awesome, and it makes me smile, so therefore it is #6.

Well, folks, that does it for the first half of the Top 10!

Tomorrow we’ll finally be wrapping things up with the remaining Top 5, as well as the announcement of the #1 NES Track!

Advertisements

Filed under: Comics, Games, Movies, The Top 25 NES Tracks, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Best Track in the Game #10: Axelay

That's right, I hard-modded my Super NES like a true dork.

Associative memory is a funny thing.

We all have random, seemingly insignificant little “things” in our lives that, for whatever reason; remind us of what’s most important to us.

I have a teddy bear that, while not important to me in any way, will always make me think of my Grandpa.

Every time someone mentions the words “scavenger hunt,” I’m reminded of the first time I ever got lost.

Okay, maybe I didn't get "lost" per se, maybe I was just dumb...

Playing old videogames from my youth has always been my way of revisiting old memories.

Whenever I play Turtles in Time, I think of the one time I went to the Fun Factory and got scared of the Dragon’s Lair 2 attract demo with my cousin in Hawaii.

Skip to :45 for the scary part:

Whenever I play Pocky and Rocky, I’m reminded of the time my brother and I beat the game early in the morning and our mom took a picture of us doing a “thumbs-up” in front of the end credits.

And whenever I play Axelay, I’m reminded of my friend Ben.

No, not THAT Ben...

Ben was my friend for only a few years, between 5th and 8th grade, but his influence on me to this is day has been profound.

He introduced me to the concept of self-reliance, and walking to where I wanted to go instead of always getting rides from my parents.

He taught me everything I know about Warhammer 40K and table-top games in general.

...Although maybe I should be CURSING him for this rather than praising him.

He convinced me that PC games could be fun, particularly when trying to play Mechwarrior 2 with the controls split between 2 people.

He introduced me to the wonders of Nutella sandwiches, and Munster cheese.

He showed me that one could play the cello, and do kendo at the same time.

Well, maybe not at the same time, but he was pretty good at both.

Ben also shared my passion for console videogames, though I will confess that his taste in games was somewhat different and, dare I say; “better” than mine.

Ben’s library of Super NES and Playstation games were a mix of the truly great, and what could only be described as “eclectic.”

Neither "great," nor "eclectic," this tattoo is just plain "dumb." Oh yeah, and a little bit "sad."

Rock ‘N Roll Racing and X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse I would consider “great,” however Uniracers and Diablo for the Playstation were just plain odd.

You see this? In order to play Diablo you need THIS WHOLE FUCKING CARD just to save one goddamn file!

Oh yeah, and he had some weird, esoteric game I’ve never seen or heard of anywhere else called Kendo Rage.

Apparently it was a gift from someone, so I couldn’t blame him for owning it, but either way; that game was fucking horrible.

I would say the American cover art is horrible, but the Japanese one isn't all that much better...

By far my favorite game in his collection though, was an early Konami space shooter on the Super NES called Axelay.

Axelay was, and still remains to this day, one of my favorite shoot ’em ups.

Though I tend to place little stock in games’ accomplishments based on their graphical fidelity, I feel it is necessary to point out that Axelay was a very handsome game for it’s time.

With a vast array of lavishly detailed and vibrantly animated sprites populating the games intensely varied backgrounds from stage to stage, Axelay was a stunner from start to finish.

FUCK YEAH.

The gameplay in Axelay was surprisingly varied and polished for a space shooter, to a point in which it was hard to believe the game was an early Super NES title.

The key innovations of Axelay’s gameplay were it’s inclusion of both vertical and horizontal scrolling gameplay styles, as well as a unique weapon select system that had the player outfit their ship prior to each stage as opposed to scrambling for power-ups throughout.

As you can plainly see, Axelay was a game for pacifists.

I’d like to take this moment to preach my love and appreciation for the Round Vulcan, as it was easily one of the slickest and most inventive weapons I’ve ever had the pleasure of wielding in a shoot ’em up.

Good luck with that Straight Laser buddy, you're gonna' die in about 3 seconds.

A neat feature of the weapon load-out system was the fact that, when struck by a “weak” enemy bullet, the player’s ship would lose whatever weapon they had equipped at the time (of the available 3) instead of dieing instantly.

What really happens upon impact of a "weak enemy bullet."

It was little innovations like this that kept me coming back to Axelay.

Even though Ben always had neat PC games like Magic Carpet and Descent II he liked to tool around on, when it was my turn to choose what to do, I almost always wanted to play Axelay.

I wanna' know what the fuck these reviewers were on when they tried this. Magic Carpet sucked balls...

We had an arrangement, where each of  us would play specific stages in accordance with our skill in beating them.

To this day, I still find myself reeling at the prospect of playing certain stages without having Ben there to hand the controller off to.

I still remember some of the goofy shit me and Ben used point out to each other when playing Axelay.

Ben always thought the 2nd stage boss looked eerily like ED-209 from Robocop.

In turn, I would always tell Ben that the 3rd stage bosses’ second form was clearly Leonardo Da Vinci riding in his famous pyramid tank:

Yeah, I was dumb/weird kid.

In addition to being a crazy-fun and graphically impressive game, Axelay also had the distinction of possessing, in my opinion; one of the single greatest soundtracks in all of videogame history.

That’s right, not an RPG, not a franchise game, but a lowly space shooter with no sequels.

That's right, suck a Blackanese cock fan-boys...

To think, an entry in one of the most famously quick to produce and homogenized game genres, get’s my nod for one of the best soundtracks in all of gaming…

I think it goes without saying, that THE BEST TRACK IN AXELAY IS….

EVERY FUCKING TRACK.

Why?:

Axelay’s soundtrack succeeds on so many levels, that it’s tough just remember all of them.

First off, the music is extremely well-produced, with some very powerful and dignified samples being used throughout.

In addition to this, most of the samples used in the game are from the familiar, and stellar, Konami library of the time, giving everything a comfortable air of familiarity to it.

*Sigh* It's like one big happy family.

There’s very little “tinniness” to be heard in Axelay, and sometimes that makes all the difference.

Second, the score is thematic, with a number of familiar cues being used throughout that bring a wonderful sense of crescendo and weight to many of the games’ more intense moments.

On the same note, it should be mentioned that, since Axelay is indeed a scrolling shooter, all of the soundtracks’ major climaxes mesh with the timing of the gameplay dead on.

Axelay's "Oh Shit" Moment #47

And third, the music is varied and appropriate throughout.

Axelay is a game that goes through drastic scenery changes from stage to stage, and at no point does the music ever fail to make the transition with the same gusto and grace as the games’ beautiful graphics.

No better example of this, is during the transition from stage 4, to stage 5, wherein the player jumps from a subterranean, underwater cave filled with all sorts of monstrous creatures, to a violently erupting lava planet filled with magma spewing drones and dragons:

See what I mean?

The two stages are like night and day, and yet the composer, Sotaro Tojima, hits just the right notes on both occasions.

If I was forced to pick a favorite track in Axelay, it would probably be the ending credits theme.

The track is a wonderfully exhilarating and uplifting track that brings to mind images of exactly what a “you just saved the world” track should.

Hope, triumph, and a long journey home are concepts that come to mind when I listen to this track:


The ending track of Axelay is essentially the ultimate version of what one could consider the “theme” of the game.

The melody used throughout it, is a remixed version of the opening stage track, something that I feel adds weight to the player’s accomplishments after beating the game.

It’s like the game is reminding you of how you began the experience, and how far you’ve come since.

Axelay’s soundtrack is so good, that I think I’ll be a nice guy and give everyone a download link for the entire OST:

Axelay OST

You’re welcome.

Axelay was an excellent space shooter of unparalleled balance, as well as a rare feeling of “fairness” to it.

When you got shot, the game gave you the benefit of the doubt and didn’t kill you outright, instead choosing to cripple you progressively until you wanted to die.

And when the time finally came, and you did die, it didn’t bother you, ’cause it was your fault.

YOUR FAULT.

In later years, space shooters would pop up from time to time trying to emulate the success of Axelay’s gameplay.

Philosoma tried, and failed; to mimic Axelay’s multi-directional scrolling gameplay, while modern legends like Einhänder, would borrow the weapon load-out system and take it to new heights.

Never doubt dah' powah' of 'ze Germans.

Axelay is a wonderful game with a long legacy.

A legacy that I feel very fortunate to have been a part from the very beginning.

Thanks Benedict, for all the things you taught me, and all the things you help me to remember.

You are remembered.

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

Donate