Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

The Top 10 Videogame Songs, #1


A funny thing happened when I was putting together this list of my Top 10 Videogame Songs.

I changed my mind.

You see, I made the banner for this list around the time I came up with the idea for it, long before I even assembled it’s contents.

I selected the opera sequence from Final Fantasy VI for the background of the banner because I knew the song contained in that sequence was going to have a place on the list.

I had no idea what that place was going to be, just that it was going to be in there somewhere.

Color me surprised when that place just happened to be the #1 spot.

I mean, I figured the opera scene would be in my Top 5, or even the Top 3; but truth be told I honestly didn’t know it was going to be #1 until, well, yesterday.

On that note, I apologize for the banner image, as I know it likely ruined some of the surprise by consisting of an image from the #1 game on the list.

It’s not all my fault though, as a few days after I started posting on this topic, I found I kept rearranging the Top 10 as I was went along.

One thing lead to another, and by yesterday, I found I couldn’t without good reason, make this list without putting the opera scene in the top slot.

With that, I give you the #1 of our list of the Top 10 Videogame Songs:

#1. Final Fantasy VI – Aria de Mezzo Carrattere

Before you ask, no; I didn’t pick this one because it has a fancy Italian name.

I’m not a Square/JRPG whore either, so don’t try to call me on that bullshit.

The last Final Fantasy game I played, was VIII, way back in 1999.

Before that though, Final Fantasy VI was, and likely always will be; my favorite in the series.

Hell, if it weren’t for Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI would probably be my favorite console RPG of all time.

Pictured: One of many moments that make Chrono Trigger the SHIT.

Something about the characters, the design aesthetic, and unusual severity of the storyline in VI; just made it special to me.

My love for the game aside, “Aria de Mezzo Carratrere” is a brilliant song, and a gorgeous example of a story-within-a-story.

While the Super NES’ technical limitations made the lyrics of the opera laughably incomprehensible akin to the voice of the teacher from the old Peanuts cartoons, the first time I heard it in-game, it was hard not to be touched.

Sorry, couldn’t help myself…

Simply put, console games didn’t do what the opera scene did at that point in time.

In spite of the technical limitations inherent to the 16-bit era, one could very clearly see and feel the story and emotions that the creators of the game were trying to get across.

It’s like watching a Godzilla movie.

Everybody knows it’s just a guy in a rubber suit, but if you use your imagination, and play along, the artistry and craftsmanship of the miniatures and crappy effects add up to something far grander.

Pictured: ART.

Despite how far games have come, watching little 26 pixel tall sprites bounce around and pantomime their drama for us is something that, when done well; will always “do it” for me.

Anyway, for better or for worse, the opera from Final Fantasy VI is the best of my Top 10 Videogame Songs.

The strength of the lyrics and music, combined with it’s stunning contribution to the fantastic game it played a part in, not only secured it’s place on this list, but managed to (eventually) win me over and propel it all the way to the top spot.

Hopefully you all had fun reading this list.

I certainly had fun writing it, though I only hope that my pick for the #1 spot wasn’t as controversial/surprising to the rest of you as it was for me!

THANKS FOR READING!!!

Filed under: Games, Movies, Tokusatsu, Top 10 Videogame Songs, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thoughts On The Dead Island Trailer


For the past week or so, the gaming world has seemingly been up to it’s knees in news AKA dick-sucking festivals regarding the announcement trailer of a new videogame titled Dead Island.

Developed by the Polish studio, Techland; and incorporating first-person, open world play mechanics, married with some RPG elements, Dead Island is nothing if not an ambitious undertaking.

I suppose it’s also worth noting that the game has been in development for over 5 years at this point.

Curiously enough, a quick look at Techland’s portfolio of games reveals that the vast majority of their products were racing games, with notable exceptions being the first-person action/adventure games of the Chrome and Call of Juarez series.

While I haven’t played either of the Chrome games, from what I’ve read and been told, the Call of Juarez series has been consistently good, but unfortunately; not great.

That being said, I’m not here to speculate on how Dead Island will or won’t succeed, rather I’m just here to lend a few of my thoughts regarding it’s much hyped/publicized trailer.

In short, I found the trailer to be both clever, and technically impressive.

And this is coming from someone who regards zombie games/movies/TV shows/muffins as being overplayed these days.

Taking advantage of it’s brief running time, the trailer is effectively, and cleverly arranged in such a way as to reach out to it’s viewers on a visceral level in the form of showing us a dead kid, while playing out it’s content in ultra-smooth reverse motion.

While it might sound, um, “wrong” of me, I’ve always felt that kids should be fair game in movies.

Seriously man, nothing pisses me off more than watching a movie and getting that nagging feeling that some kid was spared getting his head torn off just because some producer or PR guy felt it would hurt ticket sales.

Thank you Feast, for killing a child. With considerable zeal, no less.

Tangents aside, my point is that the trailer does a good job of working from a short running, while managing to tell a very complete story despite itself.

Curiously enough, said story, that of a family going on an island vacation only to be killed by rampaging zombies; (or is that, be killed by rampaging zombies only to end up going on vacation?) feels largely familiar despite very likely being unique.

This most likely stems from visual and tonal similarities to other, pre-existing films.

Case in point, the theme of having an “innocent” child turn against her family as a result of becoming a zombie is something we’ve seen in many other zombie stories, most notably the original Night of the Living Dead, as well as the opening sequence of the Dawn of the Dead remake.

I know there are very likely a billion other zombie films that utilized this plot element, however I haven’t seen them, most likely won’t ever see them, and sure as hell don’t need you posting some fatty complaint about how I failed to represent them on this blog.

It’s not often I take opportunities to say “fuck you” to whoever might be reading this blog, however consider this my way of saying just that to all the zombie-whores/hipsters across the globe.

*Ahem!* All tangents aside, let’s get back to talking about stuff that reminds me of other stuff.

It’s a minor element, but the “found footage” segment at the end of the trailer seems to bears some resemblance to the closing moments of Cloverfield.

A quick Google search also reveals that some people believe the whole trailer bears some resemblance to a Coldplay music video as well, but at this point I’m done being an ass, so don’t expect me write about that, let alone even watch the fuckin’ Coldplay video to confirm the validity of said claim.

Coldplay and the Azn Badger…. Let’s just say they don’t mix…

Such resemblances to pre-existing shit throughout the trailer may in fact be intentional on the part of the production crew, however that doesn’t change the fact that I found the home video portion of the trailer to be more than a little extraneous.

I get it, they’re a family.

It’s sad that they’re dead.

You don’t have to spell it out for me.

On a side note, the minimalist piano score of the Dead Island trailer deserves just as much credit as it’s animators, as it manages to hit all the right notes, making for an experience that feels much more genuine than it likely should.

Make no mistake, the Azn Badger is not one to get emotional over a trailer for a fuckin’ zombie videogame, however I tip my hat to the production team, as despite the core concept of the game they were working from, they did a pretty swell job of balancing the fun and serious in this clip.

Did I really just use the word “swell” in a sentence?

Anyway, I think I’ve just about run out of steam on this one.

It’s a neat trailer, worth checking out if you’re into digital art, videogames, or *sigh,* zombies.

I don’t see why it’s success was deemed significant enough at this point to dictate a purchase of the Dead Island movie rights, long before the game has even debuted; however such is the arcane world of business and marketing.

Anyway, thanks for reading!

 

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

Demon’s Souls: Conquered

*Ahem!* I win...

*WARNING! SPOILER ALERT PERTAINING TO END GAME EVENTS.  NO SPECIFICS, BUT IF YOU REALLY WANT THE END-GAME TO BE A SURPRISE, TURN BACK NOW!*

Last night was easily one of the worst of my life.

Don’t expect this to happen on this blog all too often, but I’m sorry to say that my experience of being stuck in a snowy traffic jam in the Seattle area for 6 hours straight was horrible to the point in which I don’t think I want to share the details.

Seriously, it was that bad.

Anyway, as a result of getting home from work at around 11:30 PM, as well has having my body be a complete wreck as a result of the harsh cold and tight confines of my car, I decided that I simply could not allow myself to go to work today.

Despite this, Amazon saw fit to penalize me for doing so; even going so far as to call me in the morning to chastise me for my actions.

Though I love buying products the company, working for Amazon gives me an insight into the inner workings of their ground-level management that really leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Oh well, it’s a job, and that’s more than a lot of people have at the moment, so I’m thankful.

Moving on, as any self-respecting survivor of a 6 hour traffic jam would do, I decided to use my self-enforced day off from work to play Demon’s Souls.

No way was I gonna’ go outside today, even to pick up a copy of The Expendables.

I’ll do that tomorrow…

*Ahem!* Anyway, in short; I managed to beat Demon’s Souls today.

Much like the rest of the game’s limited story sequences, the end of the game was quite flat, and very much anti-climactic.

Truth be told, it had been so long since I had started the game (just over 20 hours of game time) that I honestly didn’t even remember who the last boss was, or why I was fighting him for that matter.

In either case, the last boss was pathetic.

Like, “he couldn’t hit me if he tried,” pathetic.

On one level, this was quite disappointing, as many of the earlier boss fights in the game were quite epic, and fairly inspired in how the actual battles were carried out.

At the same time though, as I recall bits and pieces of the supposed “story” of Demon’s Souls, (seriously, there’s not much to be found) I’m starting to understand that the final boss of the game was supposed to be a pitiful creature, to the point where it’s ironic that it serves as the game’s final challenge.

Demon’s Souls was an excellent game.

While it indeed has flaws, as pretty much any game does; it benefits from an indefinable element in it’s gameplay and presentation, a “hook” that serves to draw in a certain demographic of gamers.

As it turns out, I fit pretty well into that particular category of gamer, as I enjoyed my time with Demon’s Souls.

In regards to it’s vaunted, and supposedly impenetrable difficulty level, I have this to say:

The game is indeed quite difficult, but only if you’re bull-headed and refuse to adhere to the “rules” of the game.

The gameplay of Demon’s Souls is methodical and rigid, meaning the game is difficult; but everything has a rhythm and a weakness, so it’s up to you the player to determine these factors before charging headlong into things.

Hell, I game in practically reverse order, resulting in most of the enemies being far too powerful for me to handle most of the time, and yet in the end, I managed to get past them all through careful planning and observation.

As you play Demon’s Souls, just remind yourself:

The game is challenging, not unfair.

If you get pissed and break your controller when you die in a game, then I’m sorry, Demon’s Souls is probably not for you.

Seriously, controllers are what, $50?

You’d be bankrupt in a week.

If however, you take every death in the game as a sign of your own failings, an indication that you could’ve played better or smarter, then chances are you’ll have a lot of fun with Demon’s Souls.

Now that I’m done with my little advertisement for the game, I feel I should take a moment to talk about some of the random things that stuck out to me in my first playthrough of Demon’s Souls:

I was a little upset at the very limited selection of armors I ran across in the game.

While it’s probably my fault moreso than the game’s, I found that as a Knight, I only ended up changing my armor maybe twice throughout the entirety of the game.

Maybe it’s just because I selected a Knight, who just happens to start out with some the better starting equipment, but I felt myself getting bored of constantly finding new weapons and equipment, but never finding an armor that was good enough to switch over to.

Seriously man, I ended up beating the game wearing Mirdan armor, something the Temple Knight starts the game out with if I recall.

To me, that’s the equivalent of watching a version of the Iron Man movie where Tony Stark remains in the original Iron Man suit throughout the entire movie.

That’s that just plain sad.

Another quick thing, from a gameplay standpoint, those fuckin’ dragons were truly fucking pathetic.

Seriously man, they’re not enemies, or bosses for that matter, they’re fuckin’ scenery.

Destructible scenery that can, and will; wreck your shit 20 times before you figure out how to get past them.

I found one of those dragons on a list of 2009’s worst boss fights, and I can honestly say, whoever wrote that list is certainly justified in doing so.

Don’t ask me how I found the patience to actually kill those motherfuckers, but I did; and that’s largely the reason why I’m writing this “I beat Demon’s Souls, quick everyone, suck my golden cock!” article today instead of a week ago.

Seriously man, that traffic jam last night might’ve taken 6 hours of my life, but I’ll be damned if those dragons didn’t take at least an hour between the 2 of them.

Other than that, I think that’s about all I’ve got to say about Demon’s Souls for now.

Now that I’m done with the game, I think I’m gonna’ move on to something radically different.

With Metal Gear Solid 4 as my first PS3 game, followed by Demon’s Souls, I think it’s time I played something besides a 3rd person action game.

My gut is telling me to try Valkyria Chronicles, but I’m also leaning towards something a little more mindless like UFC: Undisputed 2010 (*Gasp!* but Azn Badger, I thought you hated the UFC!?).

At the same time though, who knows; maybe I’ll surprise even myself and hop back on the Final Fantasy wagon, of which I’ve been off ever since VIII.

There’s a lot of great games out there for the PS3, old and new; so feel free to let me know what I should look into.

Anyway, happy snow day to me; hopefully everyone drove safe this evening!

Filed under: Comics, Games, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Best Boss Music #11: Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga


Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga is one of the cutest and most endearing games I’ve ever played, on the Gameboy Advance or any other console.

Not only that, it’s also a damn fine RPG as well.

Essentially picking up where Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario left off, (and then picked up again…) Superstar Saga is a far cry from the traditional console RPG.

Name another RPG that has EXTREME JUMP ROPING!

As it’s title indicates, Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga is a game that follows the exploits of the 2 plumber brothers as they work together to recover Princess Peach’s voice (it was replaced with word bubbles that turn into bombs) from an evil witch of the neighboring Bean Bean Kingdom named Cackletta.

Pictured: The Hemaphroditic Bowser/Cackletta hybrid known as "Bowletta." You can't make this shit up...

Along the way, the player assumes control of the 2 brothers throughout the entirety of the adventure, acquiring and putting to use a number of interesting and unique powers that can be used in tandem to accomplish any number of crazy (but often necessary) feats.

 

Not sure if playing leap-frog during a life or death battle is all that "necessary," but oh well, to each his own.

It should be noted that the story and gameplay of Superstar Saga are top of their class in every regard.

In particular, like most sprite based RPGs, I found the interplay between the vocalizations, scripting, and pantomime of the various characters to be among the best I’ve encountered in any game, period.

Seriously, every character has at least some sort of trademark nuance or quirk to their movements, speech, or sound effects that makes them, and indeed the entire game world, come alive.

DISCO DANCE!!!!!!!!!!!

That being said, let’s get to the gameplay.

Being as the source material is grounded in the Mario canon, it’s only appropriate that the game include a great deal of platforming and coin gathering to go with it’s turn-based combat and level grinding.

 

While I love Diablo as much as the next dork, I thank the heavens that Mario hasn't tried to bite off it's mechanics. Yet...

The key innovation that Superstar Saga brings to the table, and indeed all Mario RPGs prior and since; is the hands-on approach to gameplay elements that are typically automated in most RPGs.

Said elements are no more apparent, than in Superstar Saga’s highly detailed and interactive combat system.

Monsters are encountered on the overworld map, not as random battles, but in the form of fast-moving and aggressive character sprites that maneuver the landscape.

Once a battle begins, the player assumes control of both Mario and Luigi in a turn-based fashion.

From there, timed button inputs are required on the part of the player to effectively attack and defend.

For the love of God, push the "B" button to not die!

Every enemy attack in the game has a means to be avoided or defended in some way, provided the player has the timing and reflexes necessary to do so.

This effectively makes the difficulty of the combat in Superstar Saga a product of the players skill, rather than the stats of his characters.

Being as I’m really an RPG guy these days, I for one really appreciated this.

 

By the way, thank you Demon's Souls for shitting all over my previous statement.

While the game was far from difficult, the battle system kept the boredom and tedium at bay for the most part, leaving me with a terrific and off-the-wall story to enjoy.

Trust me, if you’re looking for a way to indulge your inner child and feel like a 9 year old all over again, try playing Superstar Saga; you won’t be disappointed.

Anyway, this post was supposed to be about music, so what’s say we get to it shall we?

Superstar Saga, like virtually any Nintendo product, has a wonderful soundtrack.

Composed by the prolific and talented Yoko Shimomura, the whole soundtrack is very well-rounded, and more importantly; thematic and appropriate to the setting and mood.

Superstar Saga is a colorful, light, and “bouncy” game, and the soundtrack was tailor-made to suit those feelings.

Defne Adj. "Bouncy": Any game that includes a sequence wherein 2 Italian plumbers do battle with a barrel of sentient cola.

Despite this, the game is still an RPG nonetheless, and thusly features a wide array of battle themes, not to mention a few boss themes.

While every track of the game is deserving of special notice, the Best Boss Music in Superstar Saga is…

Rookie and Popple:

This track plays whenever Mario and Luigi do battle with the wily thief named Popple, and his new protege, “Rookie.”

The fun part of these battles, comes from the fact that the “Rookie” is in fact Bowser; albeit a Bowser with amnesia.

Scratch that. Amnesia and a pimp-ass hat.

Despite the memory loss, whenever the player attacks Bowser in these fights, a little light bulb will flicker on in his head, and he’ll suddenly bust out some decidedly Bowser-like moves.

I guess you could call it a case of muscle memory winning out over mental memory.

Anyway, this track was only played a handful of times in the game, but I found myself happy to hear it every time it did.

It’s far more energetic than the standard boss theme, and better composed for that matter; but in some ways I feel that Popple and Rookie’s reduced frequency of occurrence in-game is part of what makes it stand out so much.

Despite many of the other Best Boss Music entries listed on this blog being of the more epic or dramatic variety, Popple and Rookie earns it’s spot purely off of it’s fun-factor.

Let it be known, that which makes us happy is often that which is most important to us.

Tune in tomorrow for another real post!

Maybe…

Filed under: Best Boss Music, Games, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks, #20-16

Well folks, yesterday we covered #25-21 of the Top 25 NES Tracks.

That particular tier of the list was seemingly dominated by Sunsoft games, movie tie-ins, and sports games.

Funny how shit like that works out…

Anyway, today we’re taking our first step up in quality, from the bottom tier of the NES’ best, to the, uh, “slightly-higher-than-the-bottom” tier!

That being said, let’s get down to dah’ music!:

#20. Final Fantasy

“The Prelude”


Haha!  That’s right, SUCK IT fanboys!

Final Fantasy has never really held a special place in my heart.

Neither have RPGs for that matter.

I played the original Final Fantasy as a kid, and simply couldn’t get into it.

Similar to my experiences with the Zelda series, I felt I never knew what to do, or where to go, ultimately resulting in me wandering the landscape for a time, only to run into a pack of imps and get my party of green-as-fuck level 1 heroes ass-fucked into oblivion.

 

 

That's a lot of Imps...

 

To this day, I haven’t played a new Final Fantasy since VIII, and I haven’t truly enjoyed any since VI.

Yeah, VI was the shit…

 

Name another game where you can Suplex a fuckin' Train. I dare you.

 

That being said, my lack of appreciation for the Final Fantasy series is what places “The Prelude,a classic of gaming music history as old as myself; so low on this list.

It’s a beautiful, almost whimsical piece of music, that certainly still endures to this day, but to me; it’s just the title theme of a game I hated as a kid.

Did I mention all the fanboys can suck a big fat Blackanese cock?

 

 

...Or at the very least, a big black dildo.

 

#19. River City Ransom

“Boss Theme”


River City Ransom is AWESOMELY FUCKIN’ BADASS.

Seriously man, the guys over at Technos deserve a fuckin’ Earth Badge for everything they put into The City of River Ransoming, ’cause the whole game is a work of genius.

 

 

Unlike this man, who is sadly, NOT a Real Genius...

 

You take Double FUCKIN’ Dragon, which is already BADASS as is, then throw in some AWESOMELY shitty dialogue and a leveling/shopping system, and you’ve got the AWESOMELY FUCKIN’ BADASS game that is River City Ransom!

 

 

Game writing at it's finest.

 

Excuse me, I think I just came in my pants…

*Ahem!* Anyway, River City Ransom was, and is, an awesome game that I spent hours upon hours playing in my youth.

That being said, though there are many great pieces of memorable music in the game, most notably the standard street brawling theme and the shopping music, I feel that the track that best represents the game, is “The Boss Theme.”

Full of energy and pulse-pounding drama, “The Boss Theme” invokes all of the emotions that a boss theme should.

The only other track that could possibly eclipse it, is the River City Ransom version of the Double Dragon theme, though that loses out by a hair due to the fact that, well, the Double Dragon theme actually sounds a whole lot better in the Double Dragon series than it does here…

#18. Snow Bros.

“Stage 1 Theme”


You knew they were gonna’ pop on the list somewhere, but did you really think the crack covered snow men would rank so low?

When forming this list, I did what I could to check my ego at the door and really try and place these tracks appropriately.

While I love Snow Bros., and all of it’s music, deep down I knew that, musically speaking; it’s far from a work of art.

 

Unlike THIS, which is... Probably the most terrifying thing I've ever laid eyes upon...

 

As mentioned in my Snow Bros. article, the “Stage 1 Theme” is a piece of music that I hummed throughout my childhood, such that my mother still knows the tune to this day.

It’s a wonderfully light piece of cutesy music that has a “rotundness” to it that really goes well with the chubbiness and slow-footed nature of the title characters.

I love the “Stage 1 Theme,” and it pains me to place it at #18, but sadly I simply can’t justify placing it any higher.

*Sniff!* Fuckin’ principles n’shit, makin’ me shit on Snow Bros…

#17. Battletoads

“The Battletoads Theme”


There are few 8-bit era themes as rockin’ and kick-ass as “The Battletoads Theme,” and by golly, I love every note of it.

It was tempting to put the stupid-ass “Pause Screen” music on the list as another joke entry akin to Skate or Die 2, however I managed to restrain myself.

While the Battletoads game is, as indicated in one of my previous articles, far from one of my favorite games; the Battletoads themselves are a different story altogether.

In the early 90’s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were king.

 

 

Gods among men, they were...

 

It doesn’t take a genius to see that the Battletoads, Biker Mice from Mars, Street Sharks and Extreme Dinosaurs were all lame attempts to cash in on their success.

 

Pictured: The Ninja Turtles for the UFC generation...

 

That being said, while very little of it actually came to fruition, the Battletoads were, at one point; in line to get their own cartoon, comic book, and action figures.

Because my brother and I had a subscription to Gamepro (back when it was actually good), we caught word of this very early on, and in fact were treated to a some of the early comics printed in the pages of the magazine.

 

Yeah, something tells me it was a GOOD thing this never got aired...

 

Needless to say, the Battletoads, despite starring in a series of games that were frustratingly difficult, were pushed on me pretty aggressively as a kid.

Whoever was head of the marketing department for the Battletoads deserves a pat on the back, ’cause despite having little to no positive memories of any Battletoads games, the ‘toads still have a place in my heart.

A lot of my love for the Battletoads though, springs from the awesomeness of their theme music, which is why it sits comfortably on this list at #17.

#16. StarTropics

“Dungeon Theme”


StarTropics was and is, a tremendously fun, rewarding, and unique game.

While I never actually beat it, (got close though) I have many fond memories of watching my brother play it day in and day out.

I loved the world map, and how it reminded me of Hawaii.

 

Heh heh, it's funny 'cause it's butt...

 

I loved the goofy noise the submersible made when it dived.

Most of all though, I loved the straightforward nature of the action levels and the “Dungeon Theme” that played over them.

The “Dungeon Theme” was unique in that, while most of environments that the action scenes took place in were scary looking caves, the music was very upbeat.

It had an island, almost calypso feel to it that really got you into the action, while giving everything a colorful and inviting feel to it.

It also did well to set up the drastic change in musical tonality that would occur when the “you’re getting close to the boss” music would transition over it.

Startropics is a game series that I could see myself sitting down and playing through someday.

It’s also a series that I sincerely hope gets a continuation or remake at some point.

Here’s to hoping for a return trip to C-Island someday…

 

 

Mike Jones: Adventurer, Hero, and Banana Holding Buffoon.

 

Thus concludes the slightly-higher-than-bottom tier of the Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks!

Check back tomorrow when we finally start getting to the good stuff in the middle-tier of the list!


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

Best Boss Music #8: Blue Dragon

Today we’re gonna’ do something a little bit different.

Today we’re going to be talking about a game I’ve never played and know close to nothing about!

Yup, still retarded.

That’s right, we’re gonna’ be talking about Blue Dragon on the Xbox 360!

That being said, instead of looking over the wikipedia page, and copy-pasting the whole thing to make it look like I know what I’m talking about, I’d rather just be honest and leave this game as the mystery that it is.

As far as I am aware, Blue Dragon is a straightforward Japanese RPG with character designs by the master of musclebound, capillary popping disaster, Akira Toriyama.

Yes, the Dragonball guy.

Wow, he's hella' dorky lookin'.... Never knew that.

Anyway, the game received decent reviews, but for the most part is best remembered as one of the first JRPG’s on  the Xbox 360.

Aside from those little factoids, I know nothing about Blue Dragon.

I’ve never played it, watched it be played, or even listened to the soundtrack.

I have however listened to one piece of music from the game, a boss theme by industry legend Nobuo Uematsu entitled “The Seal is Broken.”

Yes, the Final Fantasy guy.

Haha, he looks like one of my uncles or some shit.

If you’ve read some of my other posts, then you know that Final Fantasy isn’t really my favorite game franchise of all time, particularly in the post-VI era.

My opinion of Mr. Uematsu’s music is largely mirrors my feelings towards the Final Fantasy games.

He gets a lot of press, and there’s no doubt that he’s a wonderful composer, but he’s just not really my favorite.

It’s kind of like how I feel about Hans Zimmer in regards to movie soundtracks.

Hans Zimmer: The Definition of Overexposed.

Sure he’s great and all, but I’d definitely put John Powell or Basil Poledouris higher on my list than him any day.

Anyway, my bullshit aside, “The Seal is Broken” is one damn fine piece rock opera-esque awesomeness.

Give it a listen:

The Seal is Broken

I love the energy of this music.

It has a great pace to it, steadily building, with a palpable sense of foreboding.

Based on the character designs and music alone, my guess is that Blue Dragon is not what you’d call a “dark” game, and as such, I feel that this track captures the inherently cartoony nature of Toriyama’s illustrations all too well.

Well okay, maybe the music's a little too "hard" for these designs, but hey, it's still awesome fuckin' music nonetheless.

One thing about this track, that I feel needs to be mentioned, publicly; is the fact that parts of it are eerily similar to a very well known piece of music.

It’s only a brief portion of it, but still, my goofy ears won’t let me deny the similarities.

Tune to 3:32 of “The Seal is Broken” and listen until 3:40.

Now, listen to the chords of the Top Gun Anthem, and tell me there aren’t similarities between the two.
The Top Gun Anthem

Say what you will, I made this connection the first time I heard “The Seal is Broken,” and God help me, I’ll probably believe in it until the day I die.

Anyway, that’s all I gotta’ say about the mystery game that is Blue Dragon.

Happy Sunday everyone!

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Best Boss Music #7: Einhänder

Einhänder was Squaresoft’s first and only scrolling shooting game.

Released in 1998 on the Playstation, the game represented a rare foray into the action genre for Squaresoft.

Despite the companies’ reputation for producing almost exclusively RPG games, the late 90’s represented a wonderful era of experimentation and change in the types of games Square would produce.

Pictured: A game we won't be talking about.

During this time Square would branch out and produce a great number of quality games across a myriad of genres.

Tobal No. 1 and 2,

How come we didn't get this awesome cover art in the U.S.?

Bushido Blade 1 and 2,

Pictured: Why Bushido Blade was the shit.

as well the Namco collaborative project, Ehrgeiz, represented Square’s first 3D fighting games.

Pictured: The only reasons any of you fanboy fuckers remember the mediocrity that was Ehrgeiz.

Parasite Eve 1 and 2 turned the RPG genre on it’s head with it’s modern and horror infused plot, as well as it’s hybrid real-time, turn-based combat system.

Oh yeah, and boobies.

Brave Fencer Musashi was one of Square’s first (and best) attempts to create a Zelda-style dungeon crawling adventure game.

I fuckin' LOVED this game. Never beat it though...

And Einhänder, was one of the finest space shooters ever made.

The game was absolutely gorgeous, with spectacular art design, wonderful atmosphere, and an especially noteworthy soundtrack by Kenichiro Fukui.

The basic story of the game was that, in the future, mankind expands it’s civilization to the moon, which at some point sparks a war between the people of the Earth, and the people of the Moon.

The player takes control of the moon-based pilot of a special, wasp shaped plane with a giant manipulator arm for snatching and using enemy weapons, or “Gun Pods.”

Essentially, the game represents a suicide run on the part of the player, wherein they are expected to destroy as many enemy facilities as possible to force the end of the war.

By the end of the game however, the player is faced with the unfortunate task of having to fight for their lives against their fellow soldiers, the reasoning behind which being that they were in fact expected to die on their suicide run on Earth.

"Can't you even die right!?" I'll never get tired of Revolver Ocelot quotes...

Einhänder was presented in a beautifully well-executed 2.5D format.

Essentially, the entire game takes place on a horizontal scrolling, 2D plane, while the graphics and camera angles are rendered in 3D polygons, resulting in a number of dynamic angles that do little to disrupt the relatively simple nature of the gameplay.

Thankfully the camera is in fact better than Superman 64.

At the outset of the game, the player is given the choice of 1 of 3 different “Einhänder” planes, the word being German for “Single-Handed.”

The Endymion FRS Mk. II was a larger plane that could house 3 Gun Pods at any given time, but could only operate one of them at a time.

The Endymion FRS Mk. III was a plane recommended for beginners, as it fielded 2 machine guns by default, as opposed to the normal 1, and it could only hold and operate 1 Gun Pod at a time, limiting the complexity of the gameplay.

And the Astraea FGA Mk. I, was a beastly powerhouse of a machine that could operate 2 Gun Pods at any time, making it the most difficult to pilot, but by far the cream of the crop in my opinion.

Trust me there’s a reason they put the Astraea on the cover.

Throughout the game, the player is faced with the task of battling enemies, while properly managing their Gun Pod arsenal from situation to situation.

Gun Pods could be mounted on the top or bottom of the plane, (or both when using the Astraea) and came in a huge number of varieties, with each having limited ammo so as to require the player to switch them out constantly.

Weapon types ranged from machine guns like the common Vulcan, and it’s overpowered cousin, the Juno, to oddities like the Riot lightning gun, and the defensive chaff gun, the Hedgehog.

Several Gun Pods could only be unlocked by meeting certain conditions, such as killing all of the enemies in a particular scene, or defeating certain bosses in certain ways.

In fact, there were many secrets and branching paths in the game depending upon the player’s performance, resulting in a rare shooter that had the potential to play out differently every time.

Unlike this game, where you can bet on dieing pretty much every time.

Like any other scrolling shooter, bosses were plentiful and spectacular throughout.

Many bosses had weaknesses and could be taken out relatively quickly, (especially when using the ridiculously overpowered Grenade) though in most cases this was ideal, as many of the bosses had variable patterns depending upon the types of damage inflicted on them.

Of course we all know the best damage, is Collateral Damage.

All the bosses in the game had multiple damage quadrants, resulting in interesting scenarios wherein the player would have to quickly decipher which spots made for the most effective targets.

Some of my favorite bosses in the game were the games first boss, a massive elephant like whats-it,

The spider-legged mid-boss of level 3, which could be insanely difficult if not taken out quickly,

KILL IT. NOOOOOOWWWW.

the giant bipedal monkey robot from level 5 that makes Doom noises when it roars,

and the giant satellite that serves as the game’s second to last boss.

PIG FUCKER of a boss. But awesome music, so all is forgiven.

Of course, none of these boss battles would be half as great if not for the game’s amazing soundtrack.

The game doesn’t have a singular boss theme, though in this case I think I would call the first boss theme, “Shudder” the Best Boss Music in Einhänder:

Ah hell, here’s the rest of the boss themes I just listed, in order:
Warning

Madness

and closest runner-up to Shudder, Thermosphere

Much of Einhänder universe uses German and Greek mythological terms, and as such, the game has an appropriately German techno-esque soundtrack.

Pictured: The physical embodiment of German Techno.

The atmosphere is moody, energetic, and undeniably futuristic, giving the game an uncommon sense of drama and urgency for a space shooter.

The game was incredibly difficult, using the annoying-as-fuck “back to the checkpoint every death” system of Gradius, and yet it was packed to the rim with so many beautiful sights and sounds that it was hard to put down.

Einhänder is one of those games that I find myself playing again every few years, and I scarcely believe I will ever get tired of it.

I wouldn’t be lying if I said Einhänder reminded me of Axelay at times.

That’s probably the biggest complement I can give to a space shooter.

Filed under: Best Boss Music, Games, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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