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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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The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, #3


Yesterday on our list of The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, we took our first steps into the rage inducing realm of fighting game bosses.

As mentioned previously, fighting game bosses tend to be some of the hardest challenges in all of gaming, though more often than than not this comes as a result of unfair or “cheap” elements in their design.

Whether it be by breaking the mechanics of the game, or possessing unbalanced attributes; fighting game bosses are rarely designed to function (fairly) within the established gameplay parameters of the games they reside in.

That being said, yesterday we took a look at Gill from Street Fighter III, a boss that I would personally consider to be one of the better designed bosses in all of fighting games, if not for the fact that he’s a cheating bastard that gobbles cock under the bleachers on Tuesday nights.

While I bear a great deal of animosity, or rather, straight-up HATE towards Gill, those feelings pale in comparison to those I feel for today’s entrant on our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights.

I hate Gill, but as mentioned earlier, I also respect the intelligence of his design.

#3 on our list doesn’t benefit from that luxury.

#3 is the kind of ball-stomping ass-clown that wouldn’t even get a nod from me if I saw him rescue a kitten from a burning tree.

And I fuckin’ love kittens.

#3 is the kind of unbelievably loathsome fighting game boss that only one videogame company could produce.

#3 on our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights is:

#3. Magaki – King of Fighters XI

Pictured: Kensou, standing within striking range of the mysterious Magaki.

I love their games, but goddamn does SNK know how to fuck us in the ass with bosses from the broken-as-fuck school of fighting!

Fuck that, most of SNK’s fighting game bosses didn’t just graduate from Broken-As-Fuck University, they’re fuckin’ tenured professors there!

Rage-gasm aside, Magaki is just about the motherfucking-est motherfucker I’ve ever run across in a fighting game.

I’ve beaten him before, more times than I have Gill actually; but the sheer frustration generated by every encounter was more than enough to convince me to rank him higher than the latter on this list.

While Gill is at times fair, at times borderline human; Magaki just takes the motherfuckin’ rulebook and smears pink and blue shit all over it.

Hell, that’s his M.O. for pretty much everything:

Magaki doesn’t like how his Moons Over My Hammy turned out?

Pink balls and blue floaty shit.

PINK BALLS.

Magaki gets served a tax evasion notice?

Pink balls and blue floaty shit.

BLUE FLOATY SHIT.

Should that fail, and it likely won’t, Magaki’s got his bases covered in the form of being able to neon tie-dye THE ENTIRE FUCKING screen at the drop of a hat.

Just watch this poor sap take it up the butt as he literally comes this close to besting Magaki only to have his eyes raped by the rainbow sherbet shit storm of pink and blue shit that is Magaki’s super combo:

Ouch!  No lube even….

*AHEM!* To walk into a fight with Magaki is to have your 3-on-3 fighting game instantly turned into a 3-on-1 shoot ’em up.

King of Fighters bosses often come with a write-off excuse for their extreme difficulty and cheapness due to the fact that you, the player; get to fight them with 3 characters to their 1.

Despite having 3 characters at your disposal, more often than not the balance ends up being all out of whack, with the boss being extraordinarily overpowered in every way imaginable.

King of Fighters bosses have been consistently cheap as balls since before the series was even called King of Fighters.

Fun Fact: The events of Fatal Fury actually took place during the '91 iteration of the King of Fighters tournament.

It’s a gaming tradition practically as old as Final Fantasy games having a character named “Cid.”

Fighting Magaki though, is unlike any other boss encounter in the King of Fighters series, let alone any other fighting game period.

While many King of Fighters bosses are highly mobile and make use of potent attacks designed to counter from virtually any angle, Magaki fights like fuckin’ Sagat on crack.

Nothing THIS BIG should ever be on crack.

Sagat has his high-low fireball combo, Magaki has, well, endless waves of pink balls and blue floaty shit.

Seriously man, when you fight Magaki it feels like you just stepped into a game of R-Type.

The screen is literally filled with shit to the point in which you’ll often times find yourself just throwing up your hands and saying:

“Fuck this shit! Let’s play some Street Fighter…”

Simply put, there is no “good” way to handle Magaki.

While he’s admittedly kind of Mechagodzilla like in the sense that he’s basically a slow-moving projectile platform with feeble melee skills, on every occasion you do manage to get close enough to deal damage; he’ll usually just toss you away with….. I’ll just let the picture do the talking:

EXPLODING PINK BALLS.

You can easily spend an entire battle with Magaki, that is, all 3 of your characters; without ever getting past his fruity barrage of carnage.

This would be entirely forgivable if not for the fact that SNK saw fit to grant Magaki all of the standard cheap-ass advantages they give to virtually all of their bosses.

Giving him the ability to fill the screen with projectiles would’ve been fair if not for the fact that his attributes are broken-as-fuck as well.

If he had been, say, fragile for instance; then I could’ve bit my tongue and said he was a decent boss.

But no, they gave him the ability to execute all of his moves with frame-by-frame precision and timing, and they made him absurdly powerful and durable.

Makes you just wanna' get him on the ground and do this to him!

When I finally beat Magaki for the first time, I didn’t feel any sense of pride in my achievement.

I felt like I had just lost an hour of my life to a barely decent game, and truth be told I think I actually recall saying to myself:

“Good. Now I can get on with my life and never play this shitty game ever again.”

While I actually did go back and play the game a few times here and there, rest assured, the moment King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match came out, I pretty much lost interest in every other game in the series outside of ’98.

Nowadays I don’t have much interest in any of them…

A bit too much of this was going on I'm afraid...

Magaki is admittedly not quite as hard as his #3 spot likely deserves, but in my mind no other fighting game boss has caused me as much frustration and borderline physical pain as he has.

During the course of our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, I’ve stressed the fact that the best examples of genuine difficulty in boss fights are stemmed from clever and rewarding gameplay design, and not outright cheapness.

Along with Duriel from Diablo II, Magaki’s presence on this list serves as a symbol championing the power of broken game design and cheapness.

That Magaki could make me eat my words with such resounding vigor as to place him at #3 on this list is proof enough of just how motherfuckin’ cheap that pink bastard is.

In any case, here’s a video of the Apex of Pimp himself, Geese Howard; putting the hurt on Magaki as only he can:

*Gifs courtesy of Fighter’s Generation, the finest fighting game site I’ve ever known.*

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Best Boss Music #5: The King of Fighters 2000

SNK has a long history of being regarded as a fringe gaming company in the U.S.

None of their products and franchises really seriously broke into the mainstream, and in fact most of them started out as lame rip-offs of other, often times better; games.

Despite this, nearly every arcade on the planet has at least one of SNK’s distinctive red arcade cabinets sitting somewhere in a dark corner.

FUCK. YEAH.

SNK games are, for lack of a better term, the perfect gaming choice for the modern American hipster.

SNK games are relatively well-known, behind the times in terms of technology, and often regarded as “under-appreciated.”

Do the fucking math.

*Sigh* I just don't "get" it...

One of SNK’s flagship titles, The King of Fighters, had it’s debut in 1994.

If you want to nit-pick though, 1992’s Garou Densetsu AKA Fatal Fury, was actually the first instance in which The King of Fighters tournament was used in an SNK game.

Just figured I’d throw my nerd cap on the table for all to see.

Hah, thought I was kiddin', didn'cha?

The basic premise of virtually every King of Fighters game, is that of a one-on-one fighting game, with the added feature of both sides consisting of 3-man (or woman) teams.

Each battle is carried out in elimination style, with the victor of each match remaining in the fight to face the next members of the opposing team until they themselves are eliminated.

Between matches, a fraction of life energy is awarded to the victor to give them a fighting chance against their next opponent.

If only my 1997 had been this cool...

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of The King of Fighters series, has always been it’s massive gallery of characters.

Among the linear King of Fighters games, meaning not including any of the spin-offs, there have been well over 100 characters rotated through the roster.

The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match currently holds the record for most number of characters in a King of Fighters game, with a staggering 66 individual combatants.

Jesus fuck that's a lot of people.

Over the years, the gameplay of the King of Fighters series has gone through subtle changes, but has never really attempted to change it’s stripes.

’94 got the ball rolling and introduced us to the series’ protagonist, Kyo Kusanagi, as well as the manually charged super combo meter.

Terry Bogard layin' down the smack on Chang (he's Korean.)

’95 gave us the “oh my God, why didn’t they have this the first time around” team editing feature, as well as gave Kyo a rival in the form of Iori Yagami.

Just a little bit ghey. Just a bit.

’96 gave us simplified controls, and featured GEESE HOWARD.

THE MOTHERFUCKING MAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNN......

GEESE HOWARD automatically elevates any game he’s in to “legendary” status.

’97 represented the culmination of the series’ first (and best) story arc, the Orochi saga; as well as introduced the popular “Advance” and “Extra” styles of play.

Orochi: Evil Demon, Final Boss, and Wearer of Slacks.

It also represented the only instance in series’ history in which ambience was used instead of music for many of the stages.

That was dumb.

’98 was the first game in the series to not have a storyline, instead it was a “dream match” scenario where characters were inserted into the game based on their popularity.

’98 was, in my opinion; the best game in the series up until 2002: Unlimited Match.

Once again here's Chang (the Korean) about to get blasted by Takuma Sakazaki.

’99 gave us 4-man teams and the retarded “strikers” system, as well as the equally retarded “Counter” and “Armor” modes.

It also made drastic changes to the games’ roster, and replaced the main character, Kyo, with K’.

Kind of want to hate him, but I have to admit, he's actually kind of pimp.

While ’99 kind of left a bad taste in my mouth, The King of Fighters 2000 was easily on of my favorites in the series.

I’d rank it just behind ’98 in terms of badassery.

Kind of like how I'd rank Hard-Boiled just behind The Killer in similar terms.

While the gameplay was largely unchanged from ’99, SNK made the wise decision of trimming some of the excess fat in removing the “Armor” and “Counter” modes.

Seriously man, those were bullshit.

Pictured: "Counter" Mode

2000 had a lot going for it: a good roster, great music, and gameplay that was more of the same, but tweaked to perfection.

It’s easy to see why 2000 ended up so good, as it would be SNK’s last real King of Fighters game they would develop before the Korean company, Eolith, bought them out and started raping their franchises.

Hmm, I wonder why Metal Slug 4 would replace Tarma, their coolest character, with Trevor, a KOREAN?

How could you replace THIS, with THIS!!!!???

On the same note, I wonder why King of Fighters 2001 would introduce us to May Lee, a KOREAN?

Well, at least she has a Kamen Rider henshin belt.

Not only that, but I wonder why in King of Fighters 2002, Kim Kap Hwan, SNK’s resident KOREAN who hadn’t received a sprite overhaul in years, would suddenly receive some of the most detailed and smooth animations in the franchise history?

From this...

...To this.

*Ahem!* Bullshit aside, King of Fighters 2000, as well as Metal Slug 3, which was released the same year; had some serious love put into them, and stand as some of; if not the best entries in their respective series.

Kind of like THIS was the best in it's franchise.

The final boss in The King of Fighters 2000, was the mustachioed, dress wearing baddie, Zero.

Pictured: Tom Selleck in a dress.

Technically his name is actually “Clone Zero,” as he is merely a clone of white-haired, dress wearing baddie of the same name from King of Fighters 2001, but whatever.

It’s kind of funny though, Clone Zero has more moves, and is way more difficult to beat than the original Zero, largely because Zero was only a mid-boss in 2001.

Anyway, in case you didn’t know, King of Fighters games, and indeed SNK games in general; have a reputation of populating their games with broken-as-fuck final bosses.

I'm lookin' at you Magaki, you goofy-ass, queer bag of shit.

It’s kind of easy to see why though, seeing as SNK games are primarily arcade games, and in that sense, any way you can squeeze quarters out of your customers is a good way to make money.

I suppose having stuff like this in your arcades would boost sales as well.

Oh yeah, and from a gameplay standpoint, one has to take into account the fact that King of Fighters games have the player going up against the final boss with 3 different characters to their 1.

Despite the numbers advantage though, King of Fighters bosses have always been almost sinfully difficult to overcome.

Many cite ’99’s Krizalid as being one of the harder bosses in the franchise history.

Wow, now that is a fruity coat.

To be honest, I myself didn’t have too much trouble beating him through simply hanging back and Terry Bogard-ing or Joe Higashi-ing his ass.

Personally, I found Goenitz from ’96, Orochi from ’97, and Igniz from ’01 to be far more difficult than Krizalid.

Though Omega Rugal from 2002: Unlimited Match shits on all of them, end of story.

The beast himself.

In terms of difficulty, I would put Clone Zero somewhere on the upswing of the middle-tier.

I’ve had rounds where I went to town on his ass and swept him with one guy, and I’ve also had rounds where he took out my team without breaking a sweat.

Fighting him is kind of a toss-up.

If he hangs back and tries to counter you with his skirt attacks, then chances are you can chip away at him and eke out a victory.

Believe it or not, this is actually a GOOD sign.

If he goes offensive on you, and starts spamming his unblockable shadow punch, then you’re in trouble, ’cause you just know his black hole super combo is gonna’ come out just when you least expect it.

THIS is when you're in trouble.

Of course, despite Clone Zero’s bi-polar fighting style, one plus to the experience, is the truly awesome background music of his stage.

The fight takes place in some sort of deep, dark dungeon, and the music is appropriately moody.

The music is pounding and ominous, lending itself well to Zero’s overwhelming strength advantage over your team, while at once maintaining an energy that fits well with the fighting game experience.

In other words, unlike say, Kain R. Heinlein’s overly dramatic and nearly non-existent theme from Garou: Mark of the Wolves, Zero’s music keeps the player from getting bored.

Another example would be Orochi’s theme from King of Fighters ’97:

Both themes are good, but seem to put too much emphasis on the dramatic aspect of the situation, rather than matching the intensity of the gameplay.

Anyway, that’s King of Fighters 2000, someday I’ll do a 2002: Unlimited Match article, ’cause Krizalid’s remixed theme in that is easily one of the best boss tracks ever in a video game.

I won’t post the link, ’cause I’d like to save it for another day, but definitely check it out.

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Thoughts on Mortal Kombat: Rebirth

If you’re like anyone else surfing around on the intersnatch these days, then you’ve probably heard news of Kevin Tancharoen’s 8-minute pitch video for a new Mortal Kombat movie.

If not, then you should probably click the video above and check it out.

I for one was very impressed, not just by the production values and artistic design of the video, but also by it’s cast.

In case you didn’t know, Michael Jai White of Undisputed 2 and Black Dynamite fame plays Jackson Briggs,

You knew I had to use this one again.

Capoeira expert, Lateef Crowder from Tom Yum Goong and Undisputed 3 plays Baraka,

Funny, he doesn't look like a brutha' to me...

and Matt Mullins, who is currently on the American Kamen Rider TV show and will be playing Vejita in the new live-action Dragonball movie, plays Johnny Cage.

Glad to see they upped the budget for the next Dragonball movie.

To top things off, the fight choreographer of the video is Larnell Stovall, who you will of course remember conducted the fights in Undisputed 3.

And we all know how well that turned out.

From what I can tell, the basic premise that Tancharoen was working from for his “new” Mortal Kombat, is something along the lines of Se7en/8mm/Saw meets Enter the Dragon/Bloodsport.

Okay, this movie needs to be made. NOW.

That is, I believe the idea was to combine the bloody, dark, urban and “ugly,” aesthetic, atmosphere and subject matter of Se7en, and combine it with the underground fighting tournament plot-line of Enter the Dragon.

On paper, I think it’s a great idea.

Though the Mortal Kombat series of games were never really my favorite, (I was a Capcom and SNK kid) one thing I will admit about them, is that they always had a pretty impressive roster of characters.

Sure, the digitized graphics of the older games in the franchise seriously restricted the developers ability to create truly outrageous and memorable designs, and palette swapping was often out of control, but even so; most of the character designs had a lot of charm and personality to them regardless.

Jax: He's a black guy. Yeah, that's all he's got goin' for him.

I have to say, it was truly refreshing to see some of the more gruesome and imaginative character designs in the series I.E. Baraka and Reptile; be integrated into live-action in such a way as to highlight their gruesomeness.

I for one would love to see a character like Kabal, or even Kano, redone in this style.

Previous attempts at doing so in the film series were often cheap looking, and very “PG-13” in their approach, so much so in fact, that most of the costume and makeup designs were often times laughable, especially in that piece of monkey-crap, Annihilation.

Say what you will, their costumes are still better than the ones in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.

Some purists may object to it, but I feel that moving the Mortal Kombat series away from it’s “Outworld” elements is a good move.

I always felt that Mortal Kombat games were at their best when they kept the mysticism and inter-dimensional bullshit on the fringe instead of at the forefront of their presentation.

Goro was fun and memorable because he was the only inhuman character in the first game.

That and he was a broken-ass piece of shit that knocked you across the room anytime you tried to do anything but jump-kick his ass.

Silly Scorpion, 'told you to jump-kick his ass, but NOOOO.....

By the time we got to MK3, and we reached a point where it was becoming hard to distinguish just who the hell wasn’t some crazy fucked-up monster from Outworld, I felt like things started to get gimmicky.

No wait, THIS, is gimmicky...

Mortal Kombat: Rebirth seems like it’s trying to keep things grounded in a twisted and warped, but otherwise fairly believable reality.

No mention is ever made as to Shang Tsung being any kind of sorceror, nor are Reptile and Baraka ever made out to be anything more than malformed and psychotic men.

May I just say, that after all the internet crap about Harlequin fetuses and what not, I always figured it would only be a matter of time before someone tried to use the concept in a movie.

Congrats to Mortal Kombat: Rebirth for being the first movie I know of to actually do so.

Now here's a picture of Harley Quinn, 'cause Harlequin Ichthyosis gives me the heebie-jeebies.

So, we’ve established that, conceptually and artistically speaking, I think Mortal Kombat: Rebirth has something going for it.

But what did I think of the fighting?

In short, the action put on display in this 8-minute video is pretty much on par with some of the better American martial arts movies.

Lateef Crowder is his usual impressive self, with indications of his Capoeira skills being restricted largely to his posture and the occasional hand-plant or spin-kick.

He, along with the choreographer, seemed to play up Baraka’s fierce and brutal nature in such a way as to tone down the sleekness of Crowder’s movements, and put more of an emphasis on throwing his weight around and giving power and intent to his attacks.

His strikes, particularly his punches, were a little bit guarded and slow, a fact that may have been due more in part to the cinematography than Crowder himself.

Even so, I felt some of his punches just didn’t have the right “big-ness” to them that a character as vicious as Baraka should have had.

Crowder’s performance was pretty good for what it was, but sadly I believe he has little hope in his career of ever being cast as anything but “the Capoeira guy with the dreads.”

Hell, they already cast him as Eddy Gordo in the Tekken movie, that must have been just about the easiest casting job ever.

If you type "Eddy Gordo" into Google, Lateef Crowder is the second result. No joke.

Matt Mullins’ Johnny Cage was pretty good as well.

His movements were sharp and impressively quick, however I felt his attacks during some of the longer, and more complex sequences, were a little bit off.

While Crowder’s punches seemed to be overly restrained at times, Mullins’ seemed to come out half-cocked.

There is a 4-5 hit sequence early on wherein Mullins hits all his marks, but I get the sense he’s just putting his hands where they need to be, instead of fleshing out, and “selling” every move.

It’s a minor gripe, especially since Mullins was actually able to carry out the choreography quite well, and indeed left somewhat of an impression, but it’s still something I felt needed pointing out.

One thing worth noting is that probably the most impressive moment in the whole fight, a inside-spinning-kick, was delivered by Mullins and not Crowder.

Mullins’ form in executing this kick, compared to his somewhat wimpy movements during the longer, more contact oriented beats of the choreography lead me to believe that it may just be a lack of comfort that is holding him back.

Flashy acrobatics and kicks seem to be his forte, but not complex hand work and sparring.

The cinematography during the fight was classy and efficient, with very little unnecessary movement or trickery being emplyoed.

The angles were well selected, and some of the panning shots during the more complex sparring were very nice.

Though I can’t say I am familiar with Tancharoen’s directing skills, I have read that he is a dance choreographer and has directed several dance videos and features, which, on paper should make him well-suited to filming any sort of physical action, in particular man-to-man combat.

In all, the fight was well shot and choreographed, and I have no doubt that, given a longer production schedule, all the players involved in the film, both in front of and behind the camera, could produce something pretty impressive.

...Or they could just make this.

On the whole, I found the Mortal Kombat: Rebirth video to be quite impressive.

I feel that, should it get picked up for production, chances are it would do best as a straight-to-video feature.

The straight-to-video market has been rapidly legitimizing as of late, and given the grounded in reality, but otherwise ridiculous subject matter of Tancharoen’s concept thus far, I don’t think it would be taken as seriously in theaters as the director might hope.

Regardless, Tancharoen was fortunate to score a stellar cast for his production, one that I hope he manages to maintain if the movie ever gets picked up.

We all know Michael Jai White can fight, and we all know he can play the lead, so why not let him do both as Jax?

I would watch that, in fact I would look forward to that.

Well, those are my thoughts on Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, chances are the buzz surrounding it has already past, but oh well.

Filed under: Games, Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Let’s Play Contra!

Today we’re gonna’ do something a little different.
Today we’re gonna’ sit back and watch me fail at Contra.
That’s right, I made a video, and it’s of my first time playing Contra on the NES.
Please enjoy:

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The Best Track in the Game #8: Contra III: The Alien Wars

C-C-C-CONTRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

Contra III: Alien Wars is one of the greatest run ‘n gun games ever made.

Period.

Over the past 20+ years, Konami’s Contra series has pioneered and successfully remained one of the single most visible and well-regarded franchises in the genre.

Though every series has it's unfortunate missteps...

In fact, outside of stiff competition from SNK’s Metal Slug series, I can’t really think of another franchise that could even come close to claiming Contra’s title.

As with most classic game series, the fundamentals of the Contra franchise have remained slim, but elegant in their simplicity.

At their core, Contra games are all about you and a friend (if you happen to have any) running from left to right blowing the shit out of everything that moves.

The world through the eyes of a Contra kid.

In between this, occasionally the perspective of the game will change from sidescrolling, to that of a third-person view, or even a top-down view, though the objective remains the same:

Pick up progressively bigger guns, and shoot EVERYTHING with them.

Basically, you're a walking gun. Kind of like 'ole Megatron here.

In truth, I was a late comer to the Contra party.

While I had friends that grew up playing Contra or Super C on the NES, I myself did not really become a Contra kid until Contra III.

I remember I rented the game a few years after it came out.

Truth to be told, the opening cinematic genuinely scared me a little.

Okay, maybe the dialogue between ‘ole Bill and Lance was laughable, even as a child, but something about the eerie music and that goddamn creepy-ass alien face freaked me out a little.

Once I actually started playing the game however, my fear evaporated and turned to excitement and glee.

The biggest keys to Contra III’s success, were it’s pacing and difficulty.

Unlike say, a bullet hell style vertical scrolling shooter, the action in Contra III was conducted at a measured pace, with enemies firing only every so often, with slow moving, but extremely accurate bullets.

"Yup, just another day in the city OH MY GOD THAT DOG HAS A MAN'S FACE!"

This element of the gameplay led to fewer “cheap” deaths, with most of the more difficult aspects of the level design stemming from hazards in the environment and irregularities in the bosses attack patterns.

Stage 5 boss can suck a fat Blackanese cock. Seriously, FUCKING BULLSHIT.

Boss fights in Contra games were always a major aspect of the experience, often occupying a huge chunk of the actual gameplay.

In true Contra fashion, most of the mid-bosses in Contra III had limited attack patterns and were dispatched in quick fashion, however the stage bosses were  exceptionally well-designed and often required great skill and patience to defeat.

Except for this guy. He was easy as pie.

Nearly every stage boss in Contra III was memorable in some way, a fact that was bolstered by the truly awesome boss theme music:

To this day, I maintain that Contra III’s difficulty level (on “Normal Mode”) was ideal for the genre.

Even as a child, it was rare for me to become frustrated upon losing a life to stray bullet or an alien that jumped in from off screen.

Everything about the game, from the placement of the power-ups, to the number of enemies on screen at a time, felt appropriate and balanced.

At times, one could argue that perhaps the game was too easy at times, as there were certain instances when specific power-ups were doled out in just a little bit too convenient fashion.

"Oh look I'm one screen away from the boss and have 4 bombs! Oh wouldn't you know it, there's 2 more bombs! Golly Gee Willikers, I'm lucky today!"

Contra games have never been known for their innovations from game to game, and Contra III is no exception.

Changes to the, at the time pretty much untouched gameplay of the original Contra, were few, but key nonetheless.

For instance, players could now climb walls and across monkey bar style overhangs, as well as carry and switch between two different weapons at will.

There was also a retarded somersault attack the player could execute using both weapons at once, but it would probably be best if we forgot about that.

There's a time and a place for somersaults, and this is not one of them.

Speaking of weapons, Contra III introduced a whole of host of awesome new ones  to the franchise.

It was in this game that the Flame Gun and the Homing and Crusher Missiles made their debut.

Despite it’s reputation from past games, in my opinion the Spread Gun lost it’s luster in Contra III due to the supreme effectiveness of the Homing Missiles paired with, well, just about anything.

Pictured: The Spread Gun in Contra III.

Like other early Super NES titles, Contra III also made use of Mode 7 graphics for it’s top-down sequences.

I remember sucking-ass at the top-down levels as a kid, largely because of the imprecision in the movement controls combined with those damn narrow bridges.

Yeah, 'cause this isn't confusing at all.

Players could also pick up screen clearing bombs, however I’ve always had a habit of dieing before being able to set them off, so in my eyes they were mostly useless.

In addition to this, players could, for the first time in a Contra game, commandeer vehicles, although there is only one real instance of this, and it comes and goes within the first minute or so of the first stage.

Oh well, “some tanks” are always better than “no tanks.”

Okay, I officially want one.

In all, Contra III was my first, and for the most part, my favorite, Contra game.

In fact, outside of the excellent Contra: Hard Corps for the Genesis, and the obscenely difficult Contra: Shattered Soldier on the Playstation 2, I can’t really think of a close competitor.

When it comes to run ‘n gun games, I’ve always considered myself a die hard Metal Slug fan, however in the case of Contra III, it just has an indefinable charm to it that puts it at or near the top my list.

That being said, The Best Track in Contra III is…

Stage 4 – The Bike Chase

Why?

The question is, why not?

If the word “Contra” was a verb, this stage and the piece of music that accompanies it would probably be it’s definition.

Remember that next time you go out on a motorcycle/helicopter ride/killing spree.  It’ll definitely save you a minute or two when it comes to explaining your actions to the authorities.

"What the hell did you think you were doin' son!?"

"I WAS TAKING MY WOMAN OUT CONTRA'ING YOU FUCKING GIRLIE-MAN!"

Seriously though, this track is all about fun and excitement and it goes perfectly with the colorful and over-the-top nature of the level it occupies.

It’s worth noting that this track, as well as the rest of the games’ soundtrack, have that classic “early 90’s Konami” sound to them.

I don’t know if it’s that they recycled the same midi tones a lot over at Konami, but something about their sound just has a wonderful uniformity to it.

It's always a good time for kittens!

In general, Contra music, especially in later games, is a mix of military cadences, pulse pounding electronica, and heavy metal style pseudo-guitar.

Another constant of most Contra soundtracks however, is a slight tinge horror movie soundtrack elements.

Hmm, kind of like Aliens?

Contra games are about fighting giant, grotesque aliens, and the music often reminds of us of the fact that, despite the over-the-top one man army style gameplay, the environments that the games take place in are meant to be grim and violent.

Contra III makes great use of the action-horror sound throughout, though the Stage 4 track is easily my favorite, largely because of how retardedly insane and intense that particular level was.

Seriously, you have to see it in action to understand where I’m coming from:

Playing this stage a kid was like playing the Gallimimus Stage in Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues.

I rarely, if ever, got past it, but damn did I have fun trying to over and over.

Runner-Up:

Stage 1 – The City

Why?:

While my choice as Best Track in the Game was a track that was somewhat atypical of the series, my choice for the runner-up is not.

The Stage 1 theme in Contra III is classic Contra, with equal parts military influenced badassery and horror influenced creepiness.

Hmm, kind of like Aliens?

In that sense, it’s the perfect track to begin the game with, as it effectively invites players into the next generation of Contra with something familiar, yet different at the same time.

I love the harshness, the sense of urgency that this track exudes.  It really works as a piece of music meant to inhabit a very dark and hostile environment.

The only reason this track doesn’t get the nod for Best Track in the Game is because it’s simply not as fun to listen to as the Stage 4 theme.

Both are exceptional in their own right, however in this case I’ll take “fun” over “intense.”

With that, I leave you with “What iz diz’ place?”

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

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