Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Small Victory On Black Friday

Pictured: A big pile of crap, for half the price!

Today marked only the second occasion in which I decided to set forth into the wild and brave the insanity that is Black Friday.

Oddly enough, both times my intention in doing so was not to capitalize on the various sales events, but rather to simply take in the spectacle of watching others step over each other in hopes of acquiring a precious Tickle Me Elmo-like gift, or in the case of this year, an incredibly cheap 40″ TV.

It’s funny, whenever I think of Black Friday and other Christmas/holiday related shopping insanity, there’s one image that comes to my mind.

Said image was from one of my brother’s old Mad magazines, and to date, it serves as the definitive vision of Christmas carnage in my mind:

Pictured: "The Last Parking Space At The Mall."

It might be kind of hard to tell, as the image is kind of small, but basically “The Last Parking Space At The Mall” is a brilliantly rendered Norman Rockwell-esque painting depicting a man shooting another man in a snowy parking lot while his wife attempts to pull him back into the car.

Mad Magazine is usually good for a snicker or 2, but this painting was easily one of the most brilliant fuckin’ comedic images I can recall from my youth.

Sadly though, I didn’t see holiday mayhem of any kind this time around.

I did however get to laugh at the people standing in line surrounding the Best Buy.

Seriously man, I spent close to 3 hours in the general area, and I never once saw that line shrink an inch.

Needless to say, I never even got to set foot in Best Buy this morning.

Oh well, thanks to holiday “tent culture,” virtually all of the really good deals in there are literally impossible to acquire without spending the night outside the building.

Or at least without bringing one of these...

Which brings me to the deals that I actually did get a chance to capitalize on.

I initially set out to “do” Black Friday with a friend of mine around midnight.

Said friend ultimately ended up walking away with 2 boxes of half price golf balls, while I bought absolutely nothing.

Fortunately, there were some other sales going on in the U-district at a reasonable hour that I ended up checking out after catching a few much needed hours of sleep.

First, I went to Zanadu comics, where a 50% off everything sale was going on from 8AM to 12PM.

In case you couldn’t tell from the image above, I ended up getting a softcover copy of the absolutely massive X-Men/Dark Avengers: Utopia, as well as the first volume of Ed Brubaker’s The Immortal Iron Fist.

Truth be told, I’m not exactly salivating over the prospect of reading either of these books, however Utopia will serve to complete my Dark Avengers trade collection, and Iron Fist is a book that, given my status as a rabid kung fu movie fan, should’ve been in my collection years ago.

All together now: "WAATAAAAAHHHH!!!!"

I’m a little wary of Utopia, as X-Men books haven’t been kind to me in the past, I don’t know, 15 goddamn years; but I’m hoping the Dark Avengers stuff will help to round things out a little.

Yes. I am in fact still made about this.

As for Iron Fist, I’ve read nothing but good about it, and I’ve been putting off reading it for a really long time; so I’m pretty sure it’s gonna’ be awesome.

Anyway, 2 good to great books for 50% off = Definitely worth it in my book.

Next I went to Pink Gorilla to check out their highly variable collection of used/retro videogames.

While I haven’t found anything too special there in a few years now, I was surprised to find a perfectly good copy of Super Castlevania IV.

Outside of that though, I didn’t find anything else exciting, or failing that; worth the asking price.

Despite this, I was surprised to be given a randomized coupon at the register, with the one I drew being a buy1 get 1 free!

Upon scanning the wall, I decided to pick up Donkey Kong Country 3, a game that, while inferior to the sequel (which I already own) is somewhat rare, and often prohibitively overpriced.

Lucky me, I got it for free.

Oh yeah, and I got a free poster too.

Anyway, while I’d like to say I made it through the day without spending a decent amount of money, I’m proud to say that I at least managed to save more than I spent this Black Friday.

How did you do?

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

Used Game Store Grand Opening Today!

Pictured: My buddy posing with a Halo dude. No, I don't ACTUALLY know Wes Studi. One can dream though...

Today I was fortunate to have attended the grand opening of a new used game store in my neighborhood.

Technically it was actually re-opening of a currently existing store, but in all fairness the changes made to the building were extensive to the point of being a brand new facility.

The store was called Game Gurus, and to my surprise; they went out of their way to throw a little party for their grand opening.

There were free hot dogs and popcorn, 50 cent games for sale in the parking lot, (mostly crap, but even so, 50 cents for a 360 game is pretty good regardless) and a raffle giveaway every 10 minutes.

For what essentially amounts to a mom and pop videogame store, I was amazed by the great lengths that the owners went to in making a good first impression.

While I was mulling about in front of the store, rooting through the cheap games my friend and I, who shall henceforth be referred to as Wes Studi; happened to notice an enthusiastic fellow customer perusing the wares while wearing what appeared to be a ODST getup.

Wes Studi insisted I take a photo of the 2 of them together, and as you can see at the top of this post; I did just that.

For a guy that’s not really up on cosplay, I have to say; they guy had some pretty snazzy digs.

Seriously man, the guy had some sort of microphone system built into the helmet that made him sound all loud and bell diver-ish.

Anyway, as impressive as the outdoor festivities were, the actual store itself was something to behold.

Though the shelves and inventory were arranged much like a typical Gamestop, there were a lot of little bells and whistles in Game Gurus that will no doubt lead to the risk of theft; but were nevertheless enticing to potential customers like myself.

For instance, throughout the store there were several monitors hung from the ceilings, each with a playable game console and single controller hanging from the ceiling like a mobile.

I saw lots of people messing around with these demo rigs, and it put a smile on my face to see little kids stand on their tippy-toes to try and get a grip on the dangling controllers.

In addition to this, there was also free to play, 2 player MAME arcade rig with Street Fighter Alpha 2 loaded on it.

I played Wes Studi a few times, and though my joysticks’ kick buttons weren’t functioning, I had a lot of fun.

By the way, I won every round.

*ANYWAY* On our way out, Wes Studi and I also took a minute to check out the “back room” of the store, where they store not porn; but rather a cache of about 6 Xbox 360’s running Black Ops, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and a few other shooters.

From what I understood, all of these rigs are free to play on the weekends, which in my opinion; is a great gesture to make the store out to be a neighborhood hang out for the kids.

Despite all the fun toys scattered about, the one thing that made me think to myself, “I might have to come back here sometime;” was the fact that the inventory was pretty solid.

While obscure consoles like the Turbografx 16 and Wonderswan weren’t on display, pretty much every major American console from the 8-bit era up was for sale, along with countless games to go with them.

Best of all, they had seemed to have a fairly robust selection of Super NES titles, with many of the rarer titles coming with their original packaging.

While I saw some extraordinarily rare stuff there, Wes Studi and I both ended up walking away with pretty basic stuff.

Having no job will do that to yah’…

Wes picked himself up a copy of Eternal Darkness, Mega Man X: Command Mission, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, while I got Pitfall: The_Mayan_Adventure, Gradius III, and X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse at a special 2-for-1 price.

Nothing special, but I saved a few bucks and walked away happy regardless.

All in all, I was wholeheartedly impressed with all the love and hard work that obviously went into the new Game Gurus store.

I sincerely thank the owners for their efforts, not just to make a good neighborhood store; but to reach out to the kids in the area and provide a fun place for them to hang out.

Back in my day, if I wanted to go to an arcade my only option was a laundromat with Primal Rage and Area 51.

Given that it’s within walking distance of my house, and the fact that Pink Gorilla’s inventory has been kind of iffy in the Super NES area as of late; I could see myself doing a lot of my retro game shopping at Game Gurus from now on.

That’s not a knock on Pink Gorilla, ’cause don’t get me wrong, I love them; but I’m jus’ sayin’ is all…

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

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Top 10 Videogame Songs, #4


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take a look:

Great song, poor usage.

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

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

The Top 10 Videogame Songs, #6

To be great, a song needn’t be a work of compositional genius.

Perhaps more so than any other medium, the best songs often consist of simple but memorable tunes that succeed in triggering an emotional response in their listeners.

In my book, empty or soulless pop music doesn’t have be garbage, so long as it’s “fun.”

Hell, it worked for The Monkees...

That doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll pay money to listen to it though, as that’s what FM radio’s for.

Our #6 entry on our list of the Top 10 Videogame Songs is hardly a “great” song, but in terms of pure unadulterated “fun,” it’s a classic in my book:

#6. Mystical Ninja 64 – Ore Wa Impact!

I mentioned in my article for the #9 entry on this list, “God Hand,” that I have a weakness for tokusatsu hero music and songs, and by golly, I fuckin’ meant it.

“Ore wa Impact” AKA “I am Impact” is sung, with great verve and zeal I might add; by Ichirou Mizuki, a veteran anime and tokusatsu vocal performer.

Uh... I'd hide my kids if I were you.

The music is proud, boisterous, and ludicrously funky, such that I’d be 12 steps beyond happy if it were to play every time I walked into a room.

If that weren’t enough to put this song in my “good” pile, the nonsensical lyrics celebrate the retarded-ly fun nature of the song in a manner only the Japanese could manage.

Strangely enough, the English subtitles serve as a poor translation for the majesty of “Ore wa Impact,” largely due to their attempts to inject the song with an unusual and largely unwarranted sense of dignity.

The Japanese lyrics have the singer (presumably the giant robot Impact himself) declaring himself gorgeous, sexy, and even funky; while the English subtitles lamely translate these bold declarations in this manner:

Best? BEST!? In no what fucking world does SEXY, GORGEOUS, and FUNKY translate to "Best"!?

That’s just fuckin’ sad.

Anyway, despite this somewhat disappointing subtitle issue, Mystical Ninja 64, along with virtually every other Ganbare Goemon game; was epic-ly fuckin’ awesome.

I grew up playing Legend of the Mystical Ninja on the Super NES with my brother, and as such; I went on to spend many hours and days playing it’s N64 successor.

Of all the neat features included in Mystical Ninja 64, Impact was something special.

While he had been featured in prior games in the series on the Super Famicom, the N64 game marked the first occasion in which he was given an actual theme song.

While “Ore wa Impact” was and is a really fun song, in truth I found some of the original instrumental themes for the character to be somewhat superior, particularly the version used in Ganbare Goemon 2:

What I wouldn’t give to hear a remixed version of that tune with Ichirou Mizuki’s vocals backing it up.

History lesson aside, this has been our 6th best song on our Top 10 Videogame Songs list.

Check back tomorrow as we crack the Top 5!

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

The Top 10 Manliest Man Moments #9: “BULLLLLL-SHIT!”


Alright boys and girls, we’re back with more of the Top 10 Manliest Man Moments in movies!

This time around we’re tackling MANLY moment #9, a MANLY moment that belongs to none other than quite possibly the MANLIEST of all action heroes; Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As any self respecting MAN is aware, MANLY moments are very much the norm in any Arnie movie.

Seriously man, given the chance, Arnold could find a way to make just about anything the fuckin’ MANLIEST shit ever.

Jesus fuck, he even makes chugging a beer look fuckin' awesome...

He was just that fuckin’ MANLY.

During the course of his acting career the man has killed Darth Vader:

Done battle with (and killed the ever-loving fuck out of) intergalactic game hunters:

"Hey, you're that guy from Night Court!"

And even managed to get away with calling THE FUCKING DEVIL a goddamn choir boy:

To say Arnold’s done some pretty MANLY-ASS things over the years would be an understatement akin to saying Steven Seagal’s flipped a lot of fools on their heads.

In other words, it’d be a BIG fuckin’ understatement.

Which begs the question, just what is the MANLIEST moment of Arnold’s illustrious film career?

Well, that’d have to the be when he summoned his MAN-STRENGTH to call “bullshit” on, well, pretty much everything; and then inexplicably whooped the shit out of a curiously overweight Australian at the end of Commando:

Let me go on record by saying that, while it’s far from the best movie in Arnold’s filmography; Commando has probably the highest MAN QUOTIENT of any of his movies.

Commando truly is a “dumb” movie in the sense that it’s plot, dialogue, and overall production values are kind of ratty; however most of this is played to it’s advantage in the form of copious amounts of “violent but not offensive violence,” and an insane number of Arnold-isms throughout.

In short, it’s a big dumb action movie that thrives on being big and dumb.

Which brings me to MANLY moment #9 on our list.

At the end of Commando, Arnold’s John Matrix faces off against a former “colleague” (read: killing buddy) of his named Bennett, who just happens to be holding Arnold’s daughter AKA Alyssa Milano, hostage.

She looks like fuckin' Chucky with those overalls...

While totally bat-shit crazy, and holding a penchant for knives; I’ve gotta’ say, Bennett is just about the least threatening villain I can recall in a Schwarzenegger flick.

I suppose it doesn’t help that half the time the guy looks like he’d sooner jump Arnie’s bones rather than kill him:

Pictured: Bennett's "O" face.

Seriously man, while taller than Arnold, the guy is obviously somewhat out of shape and doesn’t look at all to be a match for Arnold’s Herculean John Matrix.

To make matters worse, the poor guy is obviously kind of sensitive about his weight, as he wears some sort of goofy-ass chainmail getup to try and conceal his love handles.

Think fat kid wearing his shirt to the pool:

Pictured: Bennett, in his formative years.

Top things off with the fact that he looks like a fat Freddie Mercury, and you’ve got yourself one very sad-ass final boss.

Despite all this, thankfully Bennett gives himself a fighting chance by capping Johnny Matrix in his right shoulder just before the final battle.

Sadly, that would prove to be just about the only good move ‘ole Bennett makes in the whole fight.

Using his MANLY powers of psychology, Matrix manages to convince Bennett to let go of Alyssa Milano so that they may knife fight to the death like the MANLY MEN they are.

The fight appears to reach an equilibrium of sorts, as both men receive minor cuts; however one could argue that Bennett pulls ahead at this juncture by attempting the use of scornful finger wagging and black magic:

Despite this, using the MANLY STRENGTH of his willpower, Johnny Matrix manages to power through the effects of Bennett’s evil spell and push the big Aussie off the fuckin’ catwalk.

Unfortunately however, his MAN STRENGTH proves to be too great, thereby causing him fall off alongside Bennett:

After their fall, the knives are discarded; and things really start to heat up.

In classic villain fashion, Bennett makes use of a conveniently placed pipe to try and press an advantage over Matrix.

Courageously/dumbly fighting unarmed and without the use of his right arm, Arnold manages to stay in the fight, landing pot shots when able, and generally doing well to counter most of Bennett big swings.

Hell, one-armed or not, Arnie even manages to ape Steven Seagal by busting out an awkward hip toss of sorts:

Despite the awesomeness of that maneuver however, it would seem it wasn’t all that damaging; as Bennett manages to bounce back almost immediately.

Utilizing a nearby furnace door, Bennett whacks Matrix in the nose by opening it ala Tom and Jerry then proceeds to tear it off it’s hinges and chuck it at our hero.

Despite missing by a fuckin’ country mile, this maneuver allows Bennett the time to pick up another pipe from the floor, with which he proceeds to go to town on Matrix’s stomach and flanks.

Did I mention that during all of this, Bennett still looks like he want to mount Matrix something fierce?:

Pictured: Bennett's "O" face Mk. II

I’m not gonna’ lie, Arnold takes a helluva’ beating during this sequence.

After sustaining an absurd number of pipe shots to the torso, Arnold manages to land a desperation kick to… somewhere on Bennett’s person, thereby freeing our hero and allowing him to stand up once again.

I call the kick an act of “desperation” not just because of the nasty circumstances during which it was employed, but because kicking is just something Arnold doesn’t do.

The man is shaped like a fuckin’ upside down PYRAMID OF POWER, kicking is not one of his strong suits.

Van-Damme he is not.

Anyway, from there the fight devolves into one of those awkward struggling/wrestling matches that suck all the momentum out of fight sequences.

Long story short, Bennett opened the furnace earlier, both guys almost get put into said furnace; and much grunting and sweating ensues, likely to Bennett’s pleasure.

Jesus fuck, man! How many times is he gonna' do that!?

Likely growing weary of being in such close proximity to a dark magician/child molester like Bennett, Matrix creates some distance with a strategically placed headbutt followed by a left hook to the jaw.

While Johnny Matrix indeed succeeds in gaining some breathing room with this maneuver, unfortunately he makes the mistake of knocking Bennett into the power grid, shooting thousands of volts through the big Aussie’s chainmailed form:

"You fool! Electricity gives him power!"

Now, ordinarily this would put a motherfucker to sleep like no other, but not ‘ole Bennett.

You see Bennett, like King Kong in King Kong vs. Godzilla, actually gains strength from electrocution.

Unfortunately, Matrix clearly was not aware of this fact, and is thusly caught completely off guard by the immediate and hellacious counter-attack that follows.

Totally helpless, Matrix takes blow after blow, not the least of which being the dreaded “double axe-handle to the man boob”:

Following this, Bennett declares himself to be “feeling good,” thereby solidifying his dominance at this late stage in the fight.

Pummeling away at Matrix’s back with fists and elbows, Bennett continues to pour on the verbal abuse to John’s MANHOOD.

“Your’e a dead man John!”

With those words, whatever weakness may have remained in John Matrix’s soul burned away to cinders, leaving only MANLY MAN-NESS in their wake.

With those words, John Matrix summoned the mightiest of MANLY words from deep within himself, channeling the MANLIEST of MAN spirits in the process:

The rest is, as they say, history; as John Matrix spins around and proceeds to whoop the everloving-fuck out of Bennett.

Using only ONE HAND Matrix unleashes a 13-hit Ultra Combo of hooks and backhands that sends Bennett reeling.

Lacking the strength to employ any more magic spells or electrical attacks, Bennett; in a final act of villainous cowardice, draws a micro uzi and makes a move to blast Matrix’s nuts off.

Improvising in a manner that could only be referred to as MANLY-AS-FUCK, Matrix then promptly rips a steam pipe off the wall and throws it into Bennett’s rotund form:

If that’s not the 9th MANLIEST moment ever, I don’t know what is.

Check back tomorrow for MANLY moment #8!

Filed under: Movies, Tokusatsu, Top 10 Manliest Man Moments, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Battletoads Ripped-Off Duran Duran!?

A funny thing happened a few months ago.

I was at work, and a song came on the radio.

Based on the sound of the lead singer’s voice, I could tell it was a Duran Duran song; but me being me, I couldn’t really make out any of the lyrics.

You see, I have this weird, uh, “thing”, where I have a lot of trouble understanding and learning the lyrics to songs.

I’m really good with recognizing music, but when it comes to lyrics; I’m pretty epicly slow.

THIS FUCKING SLOOOOOWWWW.

Anyway, the moment I heard the opening chords of the song, long before I knew any lyrics were sung; my mind immediately screamed:

“Holy shit, Battletoads and Double Dragon is on the radio?!”

Now I feel I should mention that I’m not a “radio” guy.

Most of the shit in my music library consists of videogame and movie soundtrack stuff, with a decent amount of 80’s and 90’s rock to round things out.

The point is, the vast majority of my music isn’t aired on the radio; however whenever it is, you can bet I start jumping for joy.

For a few glorious seconds, roaming the pick aisles at the Amazon.com warehouse; I sincerely thought Jack FM was playing a track from Battletoads and Double Dragon on the radio.

Then the vocals kicked in, and I realized I was just listening to Duran Duran, more specifically a song of their’s I hadn’t heard before called “Girls on Film.”

Anyway, I just happened to learn the title of this song a few days; allowing me to present the following comparison to you.

Now remember, only pay attention to the 10 seconds or so of both songs:
BATTLETOADS AND DOUBLE DRAGON (SNES VERSION)

DURAN DURAN

Fuckin’ trippy, right?

They’re nowhere near identical, but even so, it’s hard to deny their similarities.

Anyway, I thought this was kind of fun so I figured I’d share it.

See you tomorrow!

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

5 Words That Sound Cooler Than Their Meaning

Ever notice how every once in awhile you run across a word that sounds really fuckin’ badass, only to discover later on that it’s actual meaning is equal parts pathetic and absurd?

I don’t know if it’s just me, but this happened to me a whole helluva’ lot when I was little.

That being said, the following is a brief list of some words fitting the above description, most of which I first encountered as a young badger.

#1. Reticulated

This is what I think of when I think "reticulated." A big fuckin' snake killing the shit out of Owen Wilson.

Definition: Constructed, arranged, or marked like a net or network.

You know what the longest snake in the world is?

While it might be wrong, given that I read it almost 20 years ago; my Snakes issue of Zoobooks taught me that the world’s longest breed of snake, was the Reticulated Python.

Animal kingdom factoids like this was really important to me as a kid, but apparently learning the meaning of words like reticulated wasn’t; ’cause it took more than a few years for me to discover it’s definition.

I remember thinking the word reticulated meant something along the lines of “really fuckin’ big,” or “seriously fuckin’ savage.”

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Reticulated Python’s name simply referred to the characteristics of the pattern drawn across it’s scales.

#2. Hyperbole

That's a hyperbole if I've ever seen one...

Definition: An extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally, as “to wait an eternity.”

Do you know what what the term “hyper” means to child raised in the era of super saiyans and hyper combos?

It refers to something crazy fuckin’ awesome (and destructive) that most likely requires a super combo meter to perform, that’s what!

When I first heard the word hyperbole, my young mind immediately thought it was some sort of secret Street Fighter move, or failing that; some sort of secret X-Men vs. Street Fighter move.

At some point in my struggle to define the word hyperbole; I came to the conclusion that:

“Hey, Magneto has his Hyper-Grab; maybe there’s some sort of super combo version of it I haven’t seen called Hyper-Bow-Lee!”

Pictured: Magneto, warming up his "hyper-bow-lee."

Yeah, I played a lot of fighting games back in the day…

Actually, I’m pretty sure the first time I ran across the word was in written form; whereupon I most likely pronounced it as “hyper-bowl.”

I consider myself a pretty good speller nowadays; but back in the day I was a shithead just like everyone else.

#3. Isosceles

"Man, that guy's so isosceles; it's just plain unfair!"

Definition: Having two sides equal.

“Isosceles Kramer…”

That’s all I needed to hear to start thinking isosceles was the coolest fuckin’ word ever.

Sure, I learned it’s meaning at some point in math class; but that doesn’t mean I ever made any attempt to retain that knowledge.

You see, numbers and I have feuding like an Irishman and, well… Another Irishman, for as long as I can remember.

That is to say, despite my Azn-ness; math has always been one of my weaknesses.

Despite this, thanks to Seinfeld; I’ve maintained a healthy relationship with the word isosceles.

Unlike most of the other words on this list, I never came up with my own interpretation of it’s meaning.

In all honesty, from the time I first heard it up until the present, there really hasn’t been a time when I was unfamiliar with it’s meaning; but even so, for such a slick-ass sounding word, isosceles has a pretty pathetic meaning.

#4. Abdicate

Above: “Abdication” at it’s finest….

Definition: To relinquish formally a high office or responsibility.

Did you ever see that episode of Hey Arnold! where Eugene was obsessed with the Arnold Schwarzenegger-inspired movie character, “The Abdicator”?

Well, I did; more than a few times at that, and it was this episode of the show that first introduced me to the word abdicate.

Just like I’d imagine the character Eugene felt, for whatever reason; the name abdicator sounded like a believable superhero to me.

Then again, I’m pretty sure any word that ends with an “-or” has the appropriate amount of manly “oomph” to it to work as a a superhero name.

Anyway, I remember that the actor that plays the abdicator actually learns the meaning of the word abdicate at some point during the episode; leading to me first hearing the word and learning it’s definition in the space of 20 minutes or so.

While I know the definition well now, thanks to Hey Arnold!; to this day I still get a kick out of thinking back to the brief time in my life when the word abdicate referred to “beasting on someone mightily in a Schwarzennegger-ian fashion.”

#5. Dodecahedron

Let's see, it's one part Destoroyah, two parts Queen Slug-For-A-Butt, and a billion parts retarded...

Definition: A polyhedron with 12 faces.

The above image represents what I thought dodecahedron meant before my math teacher had to go ahead an’ spoil it for me.

Yeah, I was a pretty fucked up/retarded kid.

... And apparently I was a very imaginative speller as well.

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Holy Shit, I Beat A Castlevania Game!

Well, that was fast.

Yesterday I drew a line in the sand and sand, “Goddamnit, I’m gonna’ beat a Castlevania game” and wouldn’t you know it, today I did just that.

That being said, my “Castlevania Hit List” at this point consists of #1 and 3 of the original NES trilogy, Super Castlevania IV AKA the Super NES remake of the original, and Castlevania: Dracula X the Super NES port of the PC Engine Rondo of Blood.

Admitting my distinct lack of skill at handling the series’ dreadful momentum based jumping mechanics, I decided I would make my first foray into pwning the shit out the classic Castlevania games by starting from the more forgiving, end of the timeline; and work backwards.

Getting to the point, today I took Castlevania X and kicked it’s skull out it’s ass.

No, you don’t get a pic for that one.

While I won’t go so far as to say Castlevania X was anything less than a challenge, I have to admit that I was kind of amazed by how easily I made it through the game.

In comparison to what little experience I have with the NES games in the series, I’d say X was significantly easier.

In general, the game speed seemed slower, with enemies respawning and attacking less frequently, making for a much more methodically paced game.

Make no mistake, pitfalls and “bounce back” deaths were still a huge obstacle for me in Castlevania X, however I found I was able to take advantage of the slower pace of the game to take my time in formulating strategies for whatever challenges lay before me.

Also, I must say, gaudy as they were; the backflip and item crash maneuvers came to my rescue more than a few times by allowing me to dodge some nasty hits, or bypass them entirely through the item crash invincibility frames, all while dealing a shit ton of damage.

Pictured: The life-saving Cross Crash.

In general, I found Castlevania X to be a pretty fun afternoon playthrough.

The game felt kind of short, and some of the bosses were actually surprisingly easy, but overall it felt like a decent game that I definitely would’ve enjoyed had I played it in my youth.

The one exception to the overall fun factor of the experience, as well as the ease of the boss fights, was the final battle with Dracula.

In short, Dracula was a pain in the ass.

Not overly difficult, so much as annoying as fuck; the design of Dracula’s throne room arena, combined with his predictable; but dangerous attack pattern made for a nerve wracking encounter that definitely ranks as one of the hardest boss fights I’ve ever played through.

To those that are unaware, Dracula’s attacks in Castlevania X consist of the traditional, “I open my cape and cum fireballs all over your face” type; with said instances of fiery ejaculation being the only opportunities to give ‘ole Drac a whip to the dome.

That is to say, the only time you can hit the fucker is when he’s in the process of jizzing in your mouth.

It goes without saying that Drac’s flaming rude juice is far more damaging than the Vampire Killer whip, but that’s not the real problem in the equation.

The real problem is the fact that you fight Dracula amid a series of narrow platforms surrounded by instance death pits of doom.

Basically, unless you get really fuckin’ lucky; (as I did numerous times upon eventually defeating Dracula) any hit you take, regardless of how much damage it deals, will ultimately kill you by knocking you into a pit.

Piece 'o cake...

Nevermind that Dracula’s absurd height advantage over you forces you to jump to land hits on him, effectively doubling the chances of instant death pitfall, regardless of whether you actually succeed in hitting the bastard.

Take my word for it, any kind of jumping in an old-school Castlevania game is bad news, especially when pits are involved.

Anyway, as I’m sure you’re aware, once you get past Dracula’s “jizzing in your face” phase of attack, his lifebar refills and he transforms into a gigantic Speedo-ed Devil Man.

While this form looks fuckin’ beastly, personally I found it to be much easier.

Using the handy cross/boomerang subweapon, I found I was able to deal damage and destroy most of his incoming projectiles pretty much at will, a far cry from the slow-paced chess match of the “jizz in your face” phase of the fight.

That being said, while it took me an ungodly number of tries to get past Dracula’s first form, as soon as I was consistently able to get to Speedo Devil Man, I had Dracula kissing curb in short order.

Anyway, that’s my Castlevania conquest story.

Hopefully I’ll get around to playing through some of the other games in the series at some point.

 

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Best Boss Music #13: Super Godzilla

Super Godzilla was one of those games that I really wanted to like.

Oddly enough, that seems to be the case for me with pretty much every Godzilla videogame I’ve ever played.

You see, even though Godzilla and Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters on the NES were both shit, the fanboy kept finding stupid reasons for me to give ’em second chances.

“Sure the gameplay is sloppy and monotonous, but c’mon; it’s motherfuckin’ Godzilla!”

As a kid, (minus the profanity) these were the kinds of thoughts that would run through my head every time I’d stick a Godzilla game in my NES.

 

Nowadays it's more like: "GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKER, WHY AM I STILL PLAYTHING THIS PIECE OF ASS!!?"

Despite the Big G’s spotty track record up to that point, Super Godzilla, in my young mind; was supposed to be the game that made up for it all.

I remember reading preview articles in Game Players and GamePro that made Super Godzilla look like the shit.

The screenshots looked sharp, the gameplay sounded fresh and unique, and the roster of monsters, while quaint by some standards; was packed with fan favorites and a host of Heisei era kaiju that had yet to gain exposure in the U.S.

Not only that, the game promised a thrilling and campy Godzilla story involving aliens taking control of Earth’s monsters, with the Earthlings responding in kind by taking control o Godzilla and piloting him via remote from the cockpit of the Super X2!

It looked and sounded like a Godzilla fans dream.

I rented Super Godzilla as soon as it became available at my local videostore, and I can honestly say; I was disappointed.

 

The first thing that hit me right off the bat, was the game’s general lack of quality in both audio and visual terms.

I mentioned that Super Godzilla looked good in stills, and I wasn’t lying.

 

HOLY SHIT!!!

The game makes extensive use of extremely large and detailed character portraits for Godzilla and all of his Toho frat brothers, however therein lies the problem:

The character graphics consist almost exclusively of barely animated, or worse yet; “Ken Burns-ed” animation cycles.

You see, the core gameplay of Super Godzilla consisted of 2 basic functions:

Finding and then fighting the enemy monster of each level.

While one would think this would be an action-packed process, Toho made the decision to structure the “finding” aspect of the game as sort of a grid-based strategy game, and worse yet; made the “fighting” section a barely interactive mashup of repetitive cutscenes.

You remember the lengthy and unskippable summon cutscenes from Final Fantasy VII?

Well, imagine a fighting system where all you do watch 4-5 shitty looking summons over and over and over again, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what it’s like to play Super Godzilla.


Rest assured, one can take time to make many a sandwich while playing Super Godzilla…

Okay fine, the “fighting” in Super Godzilla has at least some level of interactivity to it, but believe when I say it; it’s not much.

Basically, when one enters into combat with an enemy monster, the screen morphs from the overhead map to a 2D sprite-based fighting game layout.

Pictured: The Thrilling Battle Screen...

From this screen, the player can make use of 3 buttons and maneuvers:

Punching, blocking, and using items.

While blocking is self-explanatory, landing a punch is required in order to initiate the aforementioned cutscene attacks, which are empowered by the player’s “fighting spirit” meter at the bottom of the player’s HUD.

As one would expect, given it’s massive place on the HUD, the “fighting spirit” meter is the crux of the Super Godzilla “fighting” system.

When one advances towards one’s opponent in Super Godzilla, the player’s “fighting spirit” increases, gradually falling when the player retreats.

Upon landing a punch on the enemy, the player’s “fighting spirit” will freeze in place, inviting the player to retreat and open up the attack command window at the center of the HUD.

Depending of the volume of the player’s “fighting spirit,” as well as the distance that they retreat, the player will be given more powerful attack commands to select from.

In all Godzilla has access to 4 attack commands: tail whip, body slam, fire breath, and hyper fire breath from weakest to strongest respectively.

Sadly, no tail slide though...

Items gathered from the “finding” phase of each level consist of instant use health power-ups, defense boosters, and a “fighting” spirit

Perhaps the worst part of the gameplay system, was the addition of enemy UFOs as random encounter enemies in most of the stages.

Taking only 1 hit to destroy, these UFOs absolutely shit ALL OVER what little enjoyment was to be derived from the “finding” portion of each level.

I don’t mind random encounters in RPGs, but when said encounters involve only 1 enemy type, and a pathetically weak one at that; I just don’t get it.

I suppose it doesn’t help that many of the levels in Super Godzilla have time limits, making these random encounters have zero possibility of doing damage to you, but still serving to potentially end your game through wasting your motherfucking time…

Make no mistake, finding and killing the Mothership hidden in each stage is deeply advised, as it is the only thing that will stop you from having to fight baby UFOs every 5 seconds.

 

KILL IT WITH FIRE.

Despite the bland and painfully slow-paced gameplay, Super Godzilla did have a few little things going for it.

For instance, during the “finding” portion of each level, the player was often free to choose their own path in maneuvering the map, making item gathering and avoidance of stationary enemy emplacements entirely up to the player.

In addition to this, there’s a great deal of variety in the tasks heaped on the player on their plodding march to finding the enemy monster.

For instance, in the 3rd stage, you are required to raid (read: step on) several enemy bases in order to free a captive scientist.

In the 4th stage, the player must do battle with a pair of Battra’s, however if one is quick enough in reaching the second while it is still in it’s chrysalis, it is in fact possible to destroy it before it hatches.

These variations in gameplay also extend to the “fighting” segments of the game in the form of each enemy monster having certain attacks in Godzilla’s repertoire that are ineffective against them.

Thankfully, most of these variations are fairly logical, with Biollante’s superior mass making her invulnerable to Godzilla’s body slam attack, and Battra’s speed making them unable to be hit by anything but Godzilla’s most powerful fire breath attack.

Yeah, somehow I don't think running into it would be an advisable course of action...

Toho can suck a dick though for making Mechagodzilla able to counter Godzilla’s basic fire breath.

I know he did in the movies, but for fuck’s sake; didja’ really have to make the fire breath one of the most common attacks to pop up in the attack window?

Anyway, the 1 huge plus Super Godzilla has going for it, (besides being a Godzilla product) is the inclusion of, well; Super Godzilla.

During the last few stages of the game, the player can go out of their way to obtain a series of power ups to transform plain ‘ole Godzilla into Super Godzilla.

What's this, Godzilla's evolving!? Godzilla evolved into SUPER Godzilla!

Bearing a truly awesome design, that was largely transplanted into the design for Space Godzilla the year after the game’s release, Super Godzilla granted the player access to a brand new set of attack commands, a Mega Buster like chargeable punch, and the ability to walk through buildings and obstacles on the map screen without taking damage.

Most of Super Godzilla was tough to slog through, but for what it’s worth, the final battle against the Super Godzilla exclusive, and exceedingly well-designed giant monster, Bagan; is a far better one than the game probably deserved.

Say what you will about the game, Bagan was pretty tight lookin'...

That being said, while Super Godzilla does in fact have a truly horrible soundtrack, with many tracks serving to utterly butcher some truly classic Godzilla themes; the boss music played during the Bagan fight is actually… good.

That’s right, I said something was “good” in Super Godzilla.

Seriously, give it a listen:

While it’s honestly not a great piece of Super NES music by any standards, it’s easily the best track in the game; and has a pretty serious sound to it that’s rarely heard in 16-bit game music.

I love the opening notes, and how bizarre and frankly, “alien” it feels, making it quite appropriate for the climax piece of a giant monster alien invasion story.

Perhaps the track’s biggest accomplishment though, is that it actually sounds like Godzilla music.

Godzilla movies have played host to some of Japan’s finest composers, and as such, have always bore a distinctive and powerful sound.

Many of the tracks in Super Godzilla feel generic and flat, but the final boss theme has a “big-ness” in it’s instrumentation that make it sound like a cross between the trumpet heavy orchestrations of Akira Ifukube and the synth-heavy work of Takayuki Hattori.

Anyway, Super Godzilla is one of those games that I want to like.

I know it sucks, but the Godzilla fan in me still tries to find ways to redeem it.

While most pro-Super Godzilla arguments are likely to be filled to the brim with bullshit, let it be known that any argument citing the final boss theme as a redeeming factor have at least that going for them.

"You WILL play Super Godzilla, and LIKE IT."

Filed under: Best Boss Music, Games, Movies, The Best Track in the Game, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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