Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

The Hapa Bro-Cast 02/24/2015


So….. My brother and I randomly sat down to try our hand at a podcast!
Sadly, I think I derailed some of the finer points he was trying to make, but oh well, it was fun to make.
Here’s hoping we do it again sometime!

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The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, #9


Yesterday we kicked off our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights with an alum from the pantheon of Dr. Wily’s robotic warriors, the original Yellow Devil.

The Devil earned his spot on the list through the frustrating nature of his borderline random attack pattern that made battling him a test of reflexes and coordination rather than memorization.

Appropriately enough, battling the #9 entry on the list requires a similar range of skills, however coming out on top is measurably more difficult given their more aggressive stance.

That being said, the next entry on our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights is:

#9. Shredder – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game

Pictured: The Turtles take on the Shred-Head and his shadow clones.

If there’s any one, constant truth about arcade beat ’em ups, it’s that you can always expect to face a cheap-ass boss or 2 at some point within them.

Wind blows, water flows, Mr. Shadow dies by the power of Leeloo and Corbin Dallas’ love, and arcade beat ’em ups have cheap-ass bosses.

In the age of the beat ’em up, no other company stuffed their games full of quarter munching bastards quite like Konami.

Don’t get me wrong, Konami was also one of the best when it came to cranking out beat ’em ups, but whether it be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Turtles in Time, The Simpsons, X-Men, or Metamorphic Force; virtually all of Konami’s beat ’em up bosses made use of an infuriating attack pattern that was entirely beatable, but rarely without the use of a continue or 2.

As you may have guessed, Shredder makes use of said attack pattern, both in the Ninja Turtles arcade game, and the NES port of, well, basically the same name.

While I highlighted the arcade version of the Shredder in the pic above, make no mistake, he’s equally tough on either platform, though arguably more so on the NES.

Unlike the Yellow Devil from yesterday’s entry on the list, I’ve beaten Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game numerous times, mostly in my early childhood; however on every occasion I’ve had considerable difficulty in challenging not only the Shredder, but virtually all of the end level bosses.

Especially Granitor. NOBODY, fucks with Granitor...

As mentioned earlier, fighting the Ninja Turtles arcade game bosses is mostly a reflex oriented experience, much like fighting the Yellow Devil; however the difference in difficulty lies in the aggressiveness of their attack pattern.

The Yellow Devil has only one attack sequence, that if you can endure for long enough; (which in my youth, I couldn’t) will lead to your eventual victory.

Shredder, along with virtually all of the Konami arcade game bosses of the day; doesn’t have a distinguishable pattern in his attacks, but instead forces you to enter into a war of attrition with him.

The bosses in all of these games have superior reach and damage dealing ability to your player character, and attack in such a way that there really is no good way to ensure dealing damage to them without taking some yourself due to their split-second reaction times.

Did I mention virtually all of the Shredder and his buddies’ attacks have priority over your own, and have the nasty tendency to fling you across the room or knock you out of the air every time they hit you?

As with yesterday, check out this video to get a feel for what’s it’s like to tangle with the Shred-Head:

It looks dumb, but the player in the video above’s incessant use of the JUMP KICK is basically one’s only viable option in Ninja Turtles 2, especially against the Shredder.

Think of it like a nightmare scenario where you’re fighting a counter-puncher who’s not only got your number, but also has 20 lbs on you.

You’re only real option is to try and remain elusive (read: JUMP KICK) and take potshots at distance, however inevitably; no matter how fast or accurate you are with your attacks, Shred-Head is gonna’ find you and put the hurt on you.

See that spear? That's his beatin' stick, and it's about to go up your ass...

Such is the frustration of doing battle with Konami’s quarter munching stable of assholes.

While one could argue that virtually all of these bosses deserve a spot on this list, I’ve always felt that Shredder’s multiplying ability and one-hit kill anti-mutagen beam put him over the top.

That’s right, Shredder can indeed multiply in this game!

AND kill you in one hit at any given moment!

You see!? THIS is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps!

So imagine every nasty detail I mentioned above, coupled with the fact that during the course of the battle you have to contend with 2 Shredder’s on the NES, and up to 5 in the arcade; any one of which can take a life away with one blast of the blue laser from their hands!

Imagine being like 5 years old and having to deal with that bullshit!

While the arcade version may put you up against 5 Shredders, I honestly think the NES version is more difficult.

When you face 5 Shredders, you do so with the help of 3 other players; not to mention the arcade Shredder has a less overbearing style of attack that rarely knocks you across the room, making it easy to simply swarm him and trade blows until he folds.

Given the lack of an option to pump more quarters into the machine for extra lives, as well as the Shredder’s slightly more annoying style of attack; I’d say the official #9 entry on this list would have to be the NES iteration.

Filed under: Games, Movies, The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Whaddaya Know, Someone’s Making A Casey Jones Fan Film!

CASEY JONES WEBSITE 

Before anyone asks, yes; I did find out about this through Cinemassacre AKA The Den of the Angry Videogame Nerd.

That being, it could just be me; but I think this trailer for a indie Casey Jones movie actually looks pretty good.

“Looks” being the operative word in that sentence, given the lack of sound and dialogue.

Given that the Youtube page for the trailer advertises an iTunes link for the movies’ soundtrack, I think it’s safe to assume that the music used in the trailer, John Du Prez music from the original 1990 live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; won’t be used in the final product.

While I’m on the topic of Ninja Turtle movies and the early 90’s in general, it needs to be said that the makers of this Casey Jones film obviously approached their film with a great deal of love for the source material; which is appropriate given that their product is essentially a fan-film.

For Christ’s sake, the signature piece of the soundtrack is titled “Goongala,” the phrase Casey Jones used as his battle cry in the original Ninja Turtle comics.

The lighting and atmosphere in this trailer is quite impressive and almost oppressively dark, to the point that I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the makers were actually wise to “sell” their film on the strength of the visuals alone.

The cinematography is equally brilliant, adding an extra dimension to many of the fight scenes; which I might add, seem ably choreographed for the most part.

I don’t think I need to tell you that that last part is one helluva’ complement coming from a movie fight nut like myself.

Moving on, while some people might snicker at the Michelangelo costume featured towards the end of the video, I actually kind of liked it.

Given the relative lack of budget that I’m assuming the filmmakers had to work with, I wouldn’t expect much in the way of intricate costuming or sets, but even if I were to disregard that I’d say they did a good job on Mikey.

The costume itself isn’t perfect, but it gets the point across, and actually looks spot on at times when it’s lit just right.

Also, it needs to be said that whoever did the “suit acting” for Mike did an amazing job.

I don’t know if they used him as inspiration for their style of movement, but I see more than a little of the “old” Mike in this take on the character.

Anyway, the full movie debuts online on September 17th.

Count me in for the premiere!

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

Remember When Kevin Nash Got Old And Started Sucking More Than Ever?

It’s funny, I’ve never been terribly attached to Kevin Nash as a wrestler.

Oddly enough, despite his presence in mainstream pop culture being almost entirely derived from his time spent as a wrestler, most of the reasons I’ve found to like the man have come from his acting career.

I liked him as The Russian in The Punisher:

Pictured: The best scene in the movie.

I found him and Eric Robert’s over-the-top performances in Dead Or Alive to be just about the only enjoyable portions of the movie, even though Nash’s character was clearly intended to be played by Hulk Hogan:

CLEARLY Bass was based off of Kevin Nash...

Hell, even though he barely did anything, I felt he did a decent job as Super Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2:

Pictured: One of the worst/dumbest moments in the movie.

Outside of these performances though, Nash was never the best wrestler, nor was he all that good on the mic.

Back in his Diesel days, it was kind of cool that they let him use the “illegal” Jacknife Powerbomb as his finisher, but outside of his stature and natural charisma, the man just never seemed to push himself as much some of the bigger names in the business.

Truth be told, I think my best memory of Kevin Nash was playing as him in the WCW vs. NWO game for the Nintendo 64:

Jesus fuck I miss that game…

Blunt force trauma inflicted KO’s were featured in that game, and using any (slow as fuck) power attack from Nash would result in an almost guaranteed instant KO.

I have many great memories of playing that game, mostly derived from playing as AKI and THQ Man; however playing as Nash ranks pretty high on my list of awesomeness.

Anyway, as the clip above indicates, Nash has clearly lost some of the (non-existent) spring in his step over the years.

Oh well, at least now his wrestling is funny to watch as opposed to boring.

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

What Happened To Theme Songs?

Remember, back in the day, when every movie/TV series/cartoon had a cheesy self-titled theme song to go with it?

I miss those days.

I miss the days when (almost) every James Bond movie would have a goofy song of the same name as it’s theme.

I miss the days when the opening lyrics of my Saturday morning cartoons would remind me every .125 seconds of what the hell I was watching.

I miss the days when Kamen Rider would ride into battle to a triumphant theme song bearing his name.

Something happened to the traditional self-titled theme song in the past decade or so, and by golly; I’m upset.

Don’t get me wrong, theme songs still exist, especially for cartoons, it just makes me sad that culture has seemingly trended towards out-moding them in the mainstream.

Some time in the mid-80’s, a few years before I was born, it seemed like everything had a dumb self-titled theme song to go with it.

In example, I give you the (awesome) theme song for Cat’s Eye:

Cat’s Eye was an exceptionally shitty Stephen King movie by the way.

Not as bad as The Langoliers or anything, but nowhere near “good.”

Moving on, for the requisite sports drama; we have Sammy Hagar’s not quite named after the movie, but close enough theme song for Stallone’s appropriately titled, Over The Top:

While many of the songs of this era were kind of shitty, I always found it kind of cool that they were obviously written specifically for the production they were used in.

It shows that someone cared enough about the production to make a song dedicated to it.

As silly as that sounds, I think that’s kind of neat.

These days it seems like, anime, tokusatsu, movies, and TV shows no longer have “traditional” theme songs, rather they simply have some sort of pop song in it’s place.

Kamen Rider used to have self-titled themes for all of it’s iterations up until the 2000’s, when the themes seemed to stop making mention of the title character.

To be fair though, Kamen Rider theme songs seem to have been produced specifically for the shows they’re used in, as evidenced by the lyrics typically being firmly rooted in the core themes of the show, as well as occasionally being sung by some of the cast members:

What really grinds my gears though, is when pop song themes don’t really have anything to do with the production they’re used in besides serving as a musical motif in the soundtrack.

My best guess is, across all aspects of the film medium; this is done for economic purposes, but I ask you:

Does fuckin’ Linkin Park really hold a candle to the old Transformers theme?

Didn’t think so.

And by the way, no, I’m not going to embed the Linkin Park song for you ’cause… Well, just ’cause.

If there was any one thing I could wish for in Transformers 3, it’d have to be the inclusion of the Gen 1 theme song in some form.

Well, that and I suppose it would be nice if the movie didn’t suck.

Anyway, this has been a retarded rant, hopefully you all aren’t confused and/or angered by it.

Filed under: Movies, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New Laptop!

Guess what's playing on the TV: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)

Well, that didn’t take long; did it?

As a young man, and a blogger at that, the idea of living without a computer to call my own was one I just wasn’t going to entertain for another day longer.

I tried to get by using mom and pop’s computer for only a few minutes a day, only to find that the load times were so severe, that I found the process of shopping for a new computer online to be utterly unbearable.

Because of that, I ended up truckin’ it down to Fry’s yesterday to take a look at their wares, hoping and praying that the sales staff there would be able to help me find what I was looking for.

As it so happens, the salesperson I ended up working with was quite knowledgeable, and if I can take a moment to be a chauvinist pig; very cute as well!

Sorry about that, I don’t get out much…

Anyway, I ended up getting a slightly outdated Sony Vaio laptop with Windows 7, a Blu Ray drive, and 512 graphics card.

Given that I’ve got friends that I intend to be doing a lot of HD video editing with, I felt I made a good choice in terms of catering to functionality in this area.

Imagine my surprise when I walked out of there only $750 (before tax) lighter!

As of now, I’m still familiarizing myself with Windows 7, as the last OS I worked from was XP; as well as busily re-acquiring and loading the majority of essential programs I had on my old computer.

So far the only hiccup I’ve run into with my Vaio, is that the wireless speed seems pitifully slow.

It’s probably a driver issue, or failing that; something way the fuck over my head as is the case with pretty much everything that has to do with computers.

Anyway, ‘imma get back to playing with my new toy and watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

See you tomorrow, hopefully with a legit post on my new computer!

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

The Best Track In The Game #14: Knights of the Round

Yes, I did in fact buy this just the other day...

Knights of the Round was, and forever will be; one of my favorite beat ’em ups of all time.

Truth be told, I didn’t actually play it in it’s original arcade form all that much, I played through the Super NES version an ungodly number of times.

While the graphics and animations of Knights of the Round may not be up to standard with many of it’s contemporaries, both in the arcade and on home consoles; it’s relatively unique gameplay, setting, and terrific soundtrack continue to sustain it even to this day.

Well, in my eyes anyway.

You see, Knights of the Round was one of those rare games that really made me feel “heroic” when I was playing it.

Sure, all you ever do in the game is walk from left to right and bash people’s brains in with swords and axes, but because of the character designs and music; it felt like so much more to me as a kid.

Seriously man, you try taking down a giant fuck named BALBARS and tell me you didn’t feel awesome for doin’ it.

THAT'S a BIG hammer...

Anyway, the original 1991 arcade release of Knights of the Round was a 3-player arcade game that was, of course; based on Arthurian lore.

As mentioned earlier, I didn’t really play the arcade version all that much; so for the purposes of this article, I’ll largely be referencing the Super NES version from this point onward.

Like many beat ’em ups of the time, there were multiple characters to choose from in Knights of the Round; each with their own individual strengths and weaknesses in the areas of attack power and speed.

"Choose Your Destiny..."

Arthur, whose sprite is curiously puny; is the Leonardo of the group, boasting the most balanced stats of the group.

Lancelot, who looks absolutely nothing like Richard Gere with his shimmering golden hair; is the fastest in both movement and attack speed, however his power is somewhat lacking; making battles risky by forcing one to engage their opponents more frequently to finish them off.

 

Somebodies lying to me...

Finally, Percival is the green pants-ed Incredible Hulk of the group who wields an axe, and can indeed mess people up most mightily; at the cost of being slow as molasses, as well as having the most pathetic of all jumping attacks in beat ’em up history.

The character roster of Knights of the Round was always a huge selling point for me as a kid.

Thanks to movies like Jason and the Argonauts, as well as TV shows like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and King Arthur and the Knights of Justice; I got really into mythology at a young age.

Here’s why:

Greek and Japanese stuff was always my favorite, but thanks to that AMAZINGLY FUCKIN’ AWESOME cartoon; Arthurian stuff always had a place in my periphery.

In that sense, even though Knights of the Round has absolutely nothing to do with the mythology of King Arthur; just having a trio of recognizable characters from the myths present in the game did a lot to draw me into the experience.

Anyway, I think it goes without saying that, whenever I played this game with my friends; there was always a scuffle over who’d get to play as Arthur.

Seriously man, the word “King” is part of his name, he’s arguably the best character in the game, and by the end of the game he gets to wield Ex-FUCKING-Calibur, how could any kid not want to play as Arthur.

In all, I think that’s only bad memory of Knights of the Round.

That, and playing as Percival.

 

Really? You're wearing THAT into battle?

It didn’t happen that often, by I can recall being tricked into playing as Percival once or twice by some of my weaslier friends.

As indicated by the relatively balanced characteristics of all the playable characters, Percival isn’t intended to be a shitty character; but the sad truth of the matter, is that he is.

Too fuckin’ slow, zero fuckin’ jumping attack, and the proud owner of a He-Man esque bowl-cut; Percival is the fuckin’ Aquaman of Knights of the Round.

Nobody likes him, and if anyone should ever make a claim to the contrary; it’s ’cause they’re trying to be ironic, and thusly must be killed with hipster flames of violence.

 

This guy likes Percival... I just know it.

Anyway, I should probably get on track, right?

The gameplay of Knights of the Round was much like most Capcom beat ’em ups of the day.

That is to say, there’s 2 buttons, 1 for killing with auto combos, and 1 for jumping like a damn foo’.

If both are pressed at once, the player can sacrifice a bit of health to blow everyone around them ass over teakettle and to the floor.

Like I said, standard stuff.

In addition to this however, were the addition of horse riding, a few special attacks that could be executed with simple directional inputs, (no Hadoukens here) and an incredibly awesome experience and leveling system.

Virtually identical to the Bizarrians of Golden Axe, mounted combat in Knights of the Round was a bit of let down.

Lacking the flash of the elemental powers of the mounts from Golden Axe, horse riding felt slow and somewhat counter-intuitive.

While riding a horse, one’s attack power was boosted, and one could perform a leaping stomp attack by double-tapping forward on the d-pad; however the downside in all this was the fact the horse was actually kind of slow, and required pressing of the jump button in order to turn around.

Really, there was no reason not to hop on a horse whenever the opportunity presented itself, particularly when enemies that could ride horses were around; however I always felt a little more vulnerable on a horse, and would usually defer the luxury to whoever was playing alongside me.

 

"Yay, I'm on a horse! Now what...?"

The special attacks in Knights of the Round consisted of a damaging stun attack that, while somewhat slow in execution; would knock enemies on their ass, and cause them to stand up in a defenseless “dizzy” state.

Curiously enough, the execution of this attack was done in exactly the same fashion as a horizontal Smash Attack in Super Smash Bros.

 

If you can do this, you can knock a foo' silly in Knights of the Round.

Another special attack, was a strange launching attack that I never really found a practical use for.

Basically, you do an “Up Smash” motion; and the character will perform an upward stroke, followed by a leaping chop attack.

I think the intent is supposed to that of a “knock ’em up, smack ’em down” kind of thing, however the follow-up attack always ended up causing me to advance to far and get smacked upside my head.

Oh well, it looks cool; but I never use it.

While not an attack, it needs to be mentioned that Knights of the Round actually had a blocking system.

 

No, not that kind of "block."

Blocking is not exactly a common feature in most beat ’em ups.

Despite it’s unique medieval setting, being able to block was a feature that served to set Knights of the Round apart from many of it’s contemporaries.

There were 2 ways to block in the game.

The most common method of blocking, was by pressing and holding the attack button, while holding the directional button away from the incoming attack.

While this was the most common method by most standards, the other method; and indeed the one that I used most often as a reckless youth, was one that was triggered automatically by pressing back on the directional pad the moment an attack was landed on your character.

In other words, if one’s timing was good enough; (mine never was) the game would give you the benefit of the doubt and allow you to block attacks simply by attempting to run away from them.

Thankfully, the timing required was quite precise; making this a gameplay mechanic that not at all feasible to exploit.

Unlike this shit:

Anyway, despite all the coolness of the swords and medieval skull-bashing; the real reason Knights of the Round was awesome, was the leveling system.

At the time, I can think of no other beat ’em up that, while linear as fuck; had any sort of cumulative upgrade system for it’s characters.

Throughout the game, one’s character gains experience by defeating enemies, collecting gold and jewels, eating food (health power-ups) on a full stomach, and of course; breaking shit.

Upon reaching a predetermined level of experience, one’s character levels up, bringing forth some pretty awesome cosmetic upgrades.

 

... I want that cape.

Sadly, as far as I can tell; the benefits of a level up are purely cosmetic, with no changes to the gameplay occurring whatsoever.

Despite this, when I was a kid, seeing Arthur go from leather armored pussy to red-caped, golden armored KNIGHT OF JUSTICE, was one of those accomplishments that made me feel really awesome.

Sure, the game was structured to have you max out your levels no matter what.

Sure, the game made no attempt to make you feel like you were getting any stronger.

Even so, none of that bothers me; ’cause the game is awesome regardless.

More importantly though, it’s an awesome game that I have some truly awesome memories of.

I remember playing with my one friend that we’d always call the “Bad King.”

 

Pictured: The "Bad King."

Basically, this friend of mine would always manage to be quickest on the draw in selecting Arthur.

That alone made him kind of a punk in the eyes of my friends and I.

In addition to that though, said friend would go out of his way to hang back and stay out of harms way, effectively forcing his partner to do all the fighting; yet at the same time he would horde all the gold and food, essentially stealing all of the experience and health.

We always called him the “Bad King,” and indeed; he never made any attempt to play the game more altruistically, but goddamnit; he owned the game so we’d always end up playing with him anyway.

 

Ping Pong tables and videogames make us a lot of dumb friends when we're kids...

Another thing that I don’t think any article on Knights of the Round can gloss over, is the fact that there’s a fuckin’ GHOST SAMURAI in Knights of the Round.

Similar to Capcom’s own Bishamon from Darkstalkers/Vampire Savior, there was a boss character in Knights of the Round named Muramasa that was essentially an animated suit of samurai armor.

 

Uh... I wouldn't turn my back on that guy.

In medieval England.

To this day, I don’t take offense to this; however I wish they hadn’t made the fucker so goddamn cheap.

I can’t tell you how many times I got a game over during the fight with Muramasa.

Goddamn fire magic bullshit…

Oh well, payback’s a bitch:

Speaking of goofy bosses, another one worth mentioning from Knights of the Round, was a skinny fuck in black pajamas named Phantom.

Early in the game, you fight Phantom; and he’s really no big deal.

Sure, he can run real fast, throw cleavers at you and fire magic at you, and even make duplicates of himself; but for the most part he’s too weak to be a legitimate threat.

Now, while he really isn’t any harder the second time around, it’s worth noting that this time around he sees fit to bust out his pulley and chain operated GIANT FUCKING ROBOT.

I did mention this game needed to be a movie, right?

Seriously man, no joke; a giant fuckin’ robot!

In medieval England.

As I mentioned earlier, the fight isn’t really all that hard, or even thrilling; but the novelty of fighting a pre-steam age robot was always something that tickled me just right.

Anyway, this post was, as indicated by it’s title; supposed to be about music, so let’s get down to that, shall we?

The Best Track in the Game for Knights of the Round is…

Village on Fire

Why?:

You know how I said Knights of the Round made me feel “heroic” when I was a kid?

Well, this track was largely responsible for that.

I love how it has that medieval minstrel sound to it, while at once being upbeat and action-oriented in nature.

When you think about it, that’s kind of a difficult combo to pull off.

Anyway, I don’t know what else to say; other than that this is brilliant track to begin a game with.

It gets your blood pumping, makes you feel badass, and more importantly; makes you feel like you’re fighting for something.

Runner-Up:

The Knight’s Tournament

Why?:

Well, you did listen to it, right?

Seriously, this is just a really good piece of music.

It sounds like medieval dance club music!

I remember this track only playing for about a minute or so in-game, but even so; it always struck me as, at the very least; the second best piece of music in the game.

‘Nuff said.

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

I’m Gonna’ Beat A Castlevania Game Goddamnit

Castlevania has never really been one of my favorite game series.

I’ve been fascinated by the series’ music and characters for a long time now, but in all honesty; I never really sat down to play any of the games.

Truth be told, the exploits of the Belmont clan, that is; their eternal struggle against Count Dracula and the forces of darkness, managed to blow right by my radar when I was a kid.

I guess I was too busy playing Mega Man and Ninja Turtle games during the NES era to have really paid mind to Konami’s whip cracking platformer.

Nah' that's a lie... I was playing Snow Bros.

That’s not to say I wasn’t aware of Castlevania.

On the contrary, I remember reading a lot about Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest in Nintendo Power, but perhaps more importantly I remember being genuinely frightened of the cover art depicting Simon Belmont holding Dracula’s severed head.

Pictured: The cover in question.

It wasn’t so much the graphic nature of the image, blood and guts were “cool” to me even as a kid; it was Drac’s motherfuckin’ glowing red eyes that bugged me.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT!

Seriously, how could you put that on the magazine stands and expect parents to buy it for their kids!?

*Ahem!* Anyway, I remember Nintendo Power going out of their way to talk up Castlevania 2 like it was the coolest game ever, even giving it a Nester award for Best Audio.

Strangely enough, nowadays the game seems to have a pretty well established reputation as being a crytptic and poorly translated heap of garbage.

I guess people were willing to swallow a lot more shit from their games back in the day than they are nowadays…

I owned, played, and liked this back in the day. Don't ask me why...

Anyway, while I read plenty about the Castlevania games in various gaming magazines back in the day, I honestly don’t recall ever sitting down to play any of them until I was much older.

I remember reading about Symphony of the Night in Playstation Magazine, which gave it a perfect score and even went on to give it the top spot on their Best Playstation 1 Game of All Time list.

To this day, I have yet to try Symphony of the Night, largely because it’s Metroid style, backtracking heavy gameplay would likely drive me insane.

Like Zelda before it, Metroid games have always had a way of making me feel dumb and lost throughout the experience, and based on what I’ve seen of the map from Symphony of the Night, I think it’s in my best interest to stay away.

"For the love of God, I don't speak Japanese!"

Don’t get me wrong, the game looks absolutely gorgeous, with some of the most detailed and well animated sprites I can recall, (always a huge selling point in my book) but I know what I like, and I know what pisses me off, and it’s more than likely that Symphony of the Night would piss me off something fierce.

Completely dodging tremendously successful game series is not exactly a new thing for me, as evidenced by me having never played a Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, Prince of Persia, or Duke Nukem game; but in the case of Castlevania, I was always bothered by the fact that I actually wanted to play some games in the series.

More specifically the straightforward platforming games in the series I.E. the first 4, and Rondo of Blood.

Any game that includes Shoryuken-ing Minotaurs as boss characters gets brownie points in my book.

While the gothic aesthetic didn’t really appeal to me all that much, the old-school horror references, platforming action, and downright legendary music of the more traditional games in the series have always seemed right up my alley.

Hell, I’ve been listening to Castlevania music since middle school, but I only just played my first game in the series a few years ago in the form of the NES original.

That being said, while I can’t say I enjoyed my experience playing a Castlevania game nearly as much as I hoped I would have; the challenge, combined with the delightful sights and sounds left me intrigued in an oddly masochistic sense.

While I won’t be throwing down my gauntlet and saying I’m gonna’ beat Battletoads or Ghosts ‘n Goblins anytime soon, Castlevania seemed to have a reasonably challenging difficulty level that appealed to me.

The Battletoads Turbo Tunnel: SERIOUS BUSINESS.

Hard enough to piss you off, but with gameplay that feels rewarding enough to encourage you to keep trying regardless.

What can I say, I’m one of those sickos that actually liked, and beat Demon’s Souls; and is likely to do so again before picking up the sequel once it comes out.

By comparison, sacrificing a few hours of my life to Castlevania seems like fuckin’ cake.

Anyway, the point of this post, I think; is that I think I’m gonna’ challenge myself to sit down and beat Castlevania sometime soon.

Castlevania isn’t my favorite series of games, nor do I have all that much history with it, if any; this is just me saying I’m gonna’ kill me some vampires ’cause I think I’ve got what it takes to do it.

I don’t think I’ll be doing a Let’s Play, so you’ll just have to take my word for whatever accomplishments/failures I encounter.

Anyway, wish me luck!

"Pizza delivery for Mr. Dracula... Hello?... Bueller?"

 

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Anybody Remember Zen The Intergalatic Ninja?

Anybody remember Zen the Intergalactic Ninja?

Yeah, neither do I.

Well okay, that’s not entirely true, I do in fact remember Zen, I wouldn’t be typing this article if I didn’t; but all of my memories of the character are foggy at best.

I was exposed to Zen via the Archie/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics of the early 90’s.

Pictured: The only Archie Comic I'd touch with a 10 foot pole.

My brother used to get Ninja Turtle comics every so often via some sort of subscription service, though he’d usually end up throwing away the Archie or Jughead comics.

To this day, I fail to see the beauty of Jughead’s soul.

 

Is it just me, or is Jughead the original stoner/hipster doofus?

Anyway, being as I am indeed my father’s son, and never throw away anything, even if it never even belonged to me in the first place, I still have a few of the Ninja Turtle comics somewhere, namely the one’s that introduced Wingnut and Chameleon:

Yup, got both of these... In absolutely horrid condition...

At some point during this era, presumably around ’93-94, (I remember Maximum Carnage was big news at the time, as was Superman and Batman’s unfortunate run-ins with Doomsday and Bane respectively) one of my neighborhood buddies was kind enough to share a new comic he had just bought.

It was called Zen, the Intergalactic Ninja:

AWESOME! But what's up with Oscar the Grouch over there on the right?

That comic, or rather it’s cover; pushed just about all the right buttons in my young, action figure obssessesd mind.

Yes, they are in fact action figures, not dolls.

"New Shia LaBeouf action figure! With easy access "open mouth" action for inserting of donkey balls! Donkey balls sold separately..."

Get it right power-fag, lest my kung fu grip find your larynx.

*Ahem!* I seem to remember the plot mirroring Bucky O’Hare, as well as just about every other 90’s Saturday morning cartoon; in the sense that it surrounded a strange group of colorful and easily action figure-ized characters coming to Earth and seeking the aid of a young boy to whom the audience could easily relate to.

(Insert picture of any mid-80’s to early 90’s cartoon here)

Y’know, standard genre fare.

The few elements of Zen that really stuck with me after all these years were, of course; the name of the main character, his unique and kid-friendly bo weapon, (no sharp weapons or blood-letting for the kiddies, that would be inappropriate!) and the fact that the plot was at least somewhat eco-friendly…

Make that, “eco-obsessed.”

Um, gender = What?

That last part was kind of a deal breaker for me, a robot and violence obsessed little boy.

I honestly liked Zen’s character designs, in fact I remember drawing him at school a few times on my test papers; however the whole “save the environment” thing just didn’t appeal to me all that much.

I remember they pushed it just a little bit too far with Zen, to the point in which most of, if not all of the principle hero characters represented some element of recycling.

Put it this way, I’m pretty sure I remember the yellow dude being named “Pulp.”

Hey, it's Pulp! And Compost Man! And Recycled Aluminum Man! And Plastic Bottle Man, etc...

That’s just fuckin’ sad, being named for mashed up paper byproduct.

Let it be known, saving the Earth is only cool when Captain Planet tells you to do it:

Honestly man, a catchy theme song and green giga-mullet go a long way towards capturing the hearts and minds of children.

Jumping back to my initial dealing with Zen, I honestly don’t really remember much about the comic, (which consequently would be the only Zen comic I’d ever read, let alone see) other than the fact that the art and character designs had a definite Captain Bucky O’Hare vibe to them, and the comic was packed to the brim with advertisements… For itself.

Seriously, if memory serves, there were advertisements for the Zen comic itself, the upcoming Zen NES game, and a line of Zen action figures; all in one comic!

Lord CONTAMINOUS!? "Take out the garbage!?" Good God, it really is a tree-hugger comic/game/action figure line!

That, my friends; is what I like to call “super-liminal marketing:”

Despite all the effort on the part of the publishers though, clearly it didn’t pay off; as almost none of my friends have ever heard of Zen.

Even so, I’ll always remember Zen as being a particularly inspired example of those 20,000 or so highly marketable characters that were thrown at us in the wake of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle phenomenon, only to slip through the cracks like so many others…

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The Top 10 Runner-Ups of the Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks, Part II!

After an entire week’s worth of posts, today we’ve finally reached the conclusive, ultimate and last post in the Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks event!

Today we’ll be unveiling the Top 5 of the Top 10 Runner-Ups, so get ready kids, ’cause we’re:

*Ahem!* Pardon me, I found myself suddenly overcome by meatheaded-ness…

Anyway, let’s get down to the Top 5 Runner-Ups!:

#5. Double Dragon 2: The Revenge

“Theme of The Double Dragons”


As mentioned in the Top 25 NES Tracks list, as well as numerous other articles posted on this blog, Double Dragon is THE SHIT.

Pictured: Watered-Down Shit...

I’ve loved Double Dragon series ever since I first played the second one with my brother in my early childhood, and it’s a game series that I continue to treasure to this day.

Chief among my reasons for loving the Double Dragon series, is of course the fact that it possessed one of the most memorable and enduring theme musics in gaming history.

It’s a tune that’s been used in nearly every game in the series, with each iteration making slight changes to the table.

 

*Sigh* And then there's Double Dragon V...

While Double Dragon 2 is definitely my favorite game in the series, I feel I should go on record and say that my selection of it’s version of theme for this list added no bias to my decision.

Believe me when I say this, I went out of my way to listen to all of the NES versions of the Double Dragon Theme back to back just to come to this conclusion.

The original version was too uppity for my tastes, feeling more appropriate as the background music for the 2 player game mode than a theme music for a pair of characters.

The version used in Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones was extremely well-composed, with the most intricate instrumentation of the 3 NES versions of the theme, but honestly I felt that this resulted in it having a somewhat cluttered and “loud” sound to it that was a little bit too overbearing.

Unlike the game, which as you can see, was kind of bare...

The version featured in Double Dragon 2: The Revenge, the slowest and most laid back version of the Double Dragon Theme on the NES, and yet it feels most right.

Unlike the original version that feels too fast, the Double Dragon 2 version of the theme has a more subtle instrumentation to it, but as a result it sounds the most like a theme music for Billy and Jimmy Lee as opposed to a single scene in the game.

 

Congratulations Billy and Jimmy Lee, you have awesome theme music!

Anyway, those are my thoughts, hopefully they make sense…

#4. Journey To Silius

“Stage 1”


Journey To Silius is yet another Sunsoft game.

More specifically, it’s a Sunsoft game I’ve never played.

In fact, the first time I ever heard of Journey To Silius was less than a year ago, when I stumbled across a video about produced by LordkaT for his Until We Win series.

Pictured: LordkaT, in all his glory!

Speaking exclusively from what I saw in that video, I thought the game looked pretty fun.

The jumping mechanic, as described by Lordkat, sounded somewhat Castlevania-ish to me though, so chances are I’d probably hate it if I played it…

Anyway, while watching that video of the game, I happened to notice some of the background music playing over Lordkat’s narration.

While he is known to sometimes use music tracks from other games in his videos, I obviously didn’t recognize the music, resulting in me Youtube-ing the Journey To Silius soundtrack to find out what it was.

Sure enough, it was the “Stage 1” theme.

While this is indeed an amazing piece of NES music, I felt it inappropriate to list among the Top 25 due to my lack of history with the game.

Even so, making the Top 5 of the Runner-Ups despite me never having played the game is still quite an accomplishment.

#3. Mega Man 2

“Dr. Wily’s Castle 1”


Among Mega Man music, this one is my #2.

#1 was my pick for the Best NES Track EVER, as well as part of one of my favorite game series ever, so I feel it goes without saying that being my #2 of the Mega Man series is not far from being #2 in all of 8-bit music.

 

Lookit 'im... Bein' all smug n'shit...

This track was, in many ways, the reason why I instigated the “1 track per franchise” for this list.

Even so, though I like both tracks just about equally; deep down I knew which is one was better, and therefore most appropriate to represent Mega Man on the Top 25.

That being said, “Dr. Wily’s Castle” is an exhilarating piece of game music that was incredibly complex it’s time, and still holds up to this day as one of the better gaming compositions throughout history.

#2. Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest

“Bloody Tears”


Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest, like Journey To Silius, is another game on this list that I have never played.

That’s actually kind of interesting to note, as back in the day Simon’s Quest was regarded as one of the finest games on the NES.

I can still recall my one issue of Nintendo Power and how it sang the praises of Castlevania 2, even going so far as it award it the “Nester” award for Best Graphics and Sound of 1988.

 

Pictured: Nester. Damn I feel old for knowing this shit...

Despite actually wanting to play Castlevania 2 in my youth, like many great games back in the day; I ended up passing it over in favor of repeatedly renting Snow Bros. every weekend…

Regardless, sometime in high school I took the time to check out the soundtrack of Simon’s Quest, and lo and behold, there was gold in them there hills!

While the game might have a bit too much of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sound to it, (understandable, seeing as Konami was cranking out those games like crazy back in the day) like any Castlevania, it truly has an awesome soundtrack.

“Bloody Tears” was my favorite track I ran across in the soundtrack for Castlevania 2.

I have no idea what point of the game it’s used for, but it’s a simultaneously energetic and haunting tune that was this close to usurping the original “Vampire Killer’s” position on the Top 25.

 

Thank you hipster doofus, for providing us with a visual indication of exactly how close "this close" means. Douchebag...

Like Journey To Silius though, I simply couldn’t justify placing it on the list without ever having actually experienced the track in-game.

#1. Ninja Gaiden

“Ending Theme”


Is it just me or do the Ninja Gaiden games on the NES all have fuckin’ brilliant ending themes?

Ninja Gaiden 3 had a pretty decent ending theme, which was appropriate given that it was a “pretty decent” game.

Beautiful? Yes. Fun? Yes. Half as good as what came before it? Not a chance.

Ninja Gaiden 2’s ending has the distinction of holding the #2 spot on my Top 25 NES Tracks list.

And the original Ninja Gaiden’s “Ending Theme” gets the #1 spot among the Top 10 Runner-Ups!

The composers over at Tecmo deserve a pat on the back, ’cause damn they did a great job.

The “Ending Theme” of the original Ninja Gaiden was a fantastic piece of music that I only recently rediscovered.

I heard it when I was very young, and I remember liking it, but for whatever reason I simply didn’t remember it.

Boy am I glad I did, ’cause it is one hell of a roller coaster ride of 8-bit goodness.

As much an action piece as it is an ending track, the “The Ending Theme” of Ninja Gaiden is a terrific composition that really gets your blood pumping.

 

Uh.... Ryu Hayabusa everyone!

Honestly, if not for Ninja Gaiden 2 having a slightly better ending track, this tune would’ve made the Top 25 in a heartbeat.

Damn sequels… Bein’ all better n’shit…

Well folks, thus concludes the Azn Badger’s list(s) of the Best NES Tracks!

Tune in tomorrow for… Something other than NES music!

Seriously man, I’m done with Nintendo music for awhile

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

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