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The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, #4


A recurring subject in our list of The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights thus far has been the important distinction between bosses that are genuinely hard, and those that are merely “cheap” or “broken.”

In my mind, no other bosses in gaming embody both of these definitions with as much ease as fighting game bosses.

Given the limited functionality of fighting game play mechanics, fighting game bosses are often some of the more difficult in gaming due to the head-first manner in which they must be dealt with.

There are no switches to be flicked, or items to be used; it’s just you and them, one-on-one.

Often possessing movesets consisting of absurdly quick and high profile maneuvers, as well as enhanced attributes, fighting game bosses typically boast every conceivable on-paper advantage over the standard player characters.

What’s more, in most cases bosses in fighting games have a tendency to “stretch” the rules of their respective game’s mechanics I.E. being able to execute special attacks without charge time or possessing a few unblockable moves.

...Or in the case of Nancy, totally break the standard mechanics of the game.

These “unfair” advantages make most fighting game bosses an easy target to be labelled “cheap,” however in some cases, I actually welcome the challenge they represent.

Let me just stress the use of the word “some” in that last sentence.

Fighting games are usually won through knowing your arsenal and being able to anticipate your opponent with precision.

In games like Street Fighter, all it takes to block an attack is to hold back on the d-pad.

In that sense, the unfair advantages owned by fighting game bosses shouldn’t be looked at as straight up cheapness, but rather padding to the computer’s (hopefully) human-like AI.

The best fighting game bosses are the ones that are challenging, but human in the way they occasionally make mistakes or overextend themselves.

The hardest fighting game bosses are the ones that boast absurd attributes and flawless, frame-by-frame AI routines.

Today’s entrant on our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights occasionally shows glimmers of the former in his behavior, but most of the time he proudly embodies the latter.

‘Cause he’s an epic, diaper-wearing douche-hole.

*AHEM!* That being said, our #4 is:

#4. Gill – Street Fighter III: Third Strike

Pictured: Ken Masters lying at the feet of Gill following a narrow defeat.

Let me just get things started off here by saying that Gill is an anus sucking turtle-fucker.

Seriously man, as far as fighting game bosses go, few others have carved out a spot for themselves on my naughty list as emphatically as Gill has.

*COUGH!* Now that I’ve gotten that ugliness out of my system, I feel I’m obligated to mention the fact that Gill also happens to one of the better designed fighting game bosses in gaming history.

That should give you a good idea of how many “good” fighting bosses there have been over the years.

Gill’s natural on-paper advantages over you, the player; are extensive, to the point in which it’s hard to deny the cheapness of his design, however his AI, at least on the mid to mid-high difficulties, veers a little closer to “fair” on occasion.

Close to, but still nowhere near fair.

What I mean to say is:

Gill is a blue and red BEAST of the highest order.

He does more damage than most of the characters in the default roster.

His attacks generate an absurd amount of stun damage.

Most of his attacks strike from troublesome angles and have priority and reach advantages.

He is able to execute charge moves without charge time.

His projectiles strike twice, ensuring that he’ll win any exchange of fire.

His durability and speed are both well above average.

To fight Gill is to enter the room outgunned and outclassed from the very start.

In essence, this screen is a forgone conclusion.

While I’d never consider myself much more than an experienced novice at fighting games, to date I’ve only been able to beat Gill twice.

Once using a brute-force strategy with Hugo, and once using defensive tactics with Ken.

Both times it took several continues to achieve the serendipitous task that is defeating Gill.

You see, despite all the nasty traits of cheapness that I mentioned above, Gill also brings to the table a pair of utterly devastating super combos that do wonders to ruin his standing as a “great” boss in my eyes; and make beating him a feat often times a feat equally attributable to luck as to skill.

Allow me to clarify.

Gill’s greatest asset as a fighting game is his inherent fallibility.

While his moves and stats are all better than yours, I have to admit that Capcom did well to program Gill with the occasional human-like lapse in his concentration.

He never acts silly, or outright dumb, but there are times when Gill slips up and takes a hit he shouldn’t have, or fails to capitalize on a round winning opening.

Gill’s greatest success as a boss is that he’s difficult enough be one of the hardest bosses in gaming, while at the same time easy enough to be fought with some degree of success on every occasion.

Nothing is worse than a hard boss that doesn’t even let you get a hit off every time you continue.

I'm lookin' at you Duriel....

Nearly every time I’ve fought Gill, I was at least able to take his health down considerably, or on a good day; beat him one round.

That said, Gill’s AI generally behaves with stunning precision, making use of his high priority moves to counter most of your attacks; making him a stiff challenge most of the time.

Which brings me to the aforementioned game breaking super combos:

With a full super meter, Gill has at his command the power to instantly reverse the outcome of a round.

The gameplay mechanics of Street Fighter III restrict the players to selecting and utilizing only one super combo in battle.

Gill is the only character in the entire roster that is capable of making use of all 3 of his super arts in one fight.

One of these moves, Meteor Strike; is relatively harmless.

Meh. I've seen worse...

The other 2, are utterly devastating.

First is the fearsomely boosh-tastic Seraphic Wing:

Sprouting Wings: A sign that shit has well indeed, just got real.

Seraphic Wing is a move that drains about a third of your life bar when blocked, and virtually all of it when landed at close range.

While it can be stopped preemptively, in most cases the deployment of Seraphic Wing usually means the end of the match in Gill’s favor.

If that’s not a kick to the boner, I don’t what is.

Oh wait, there’s one more move!

Gill’s other dick slap of a super combo is his Resurrection ability:

Awr?...

Basically, Resurrection is exactly what it sounds like.

Imagine this scenario:

You’ve just spent the past hour battling Gill, continuing over and over again while cycling your way through the entire roster numerous times.

Finally, after countless attempts, you’ve managed to get the upper hand on Gill and are only a precious few hits away from victory!

The tension is palpable.

Your eye twitches involuntarily.

With the clever use of an EX attack you manage to upset Gill’s impeccable timing and rocket a Shoryuken into his chin and straight towards the realm of victory!

His life bar depleted, Gill collapses in a heap on the ground in slow-motion.

Throwing up your arms in victory, you are shocked to hear the familiar sound of a super art being deployed.

Suddenly, Gill beings to levitate, and immediately his life bar begins to rapidly refill!

Pictured: What happens when you poke the bear.

You quickly fire a Hadouken, only to watch as it is harmlessly repelled by the powerful vacuum generated by the Resurrection field.

Eventually, Gill’s health is restored in full, leaving you to fight him with what little you have left.

Exhausted from the historic effort you put forth from getting this far, ultimately you lose to Gill in the third round as you have on every occasion prior.

Such is the epic douchey-ness of Gill.

He’s better than you from the start.

He’s pretty damn smart, even when he’s stupid.

And to top it all off, he can take all of your hard fought efforts, and render them irrelevant with the use of a mere super combo, one of which he doesn’t even have to be alive to use.

To this day, I still hate Gill, however I do retain a certain level of respect for his AI design.

On a side note, I’m pretty sure Capcom was the first to make a genuinely incongruent 2D fighting game sprite, but that’s besides the point.

Gill: An atypically hard boss that has the gall to max-out his douchey-ness by holding back and shitting on you when it hurts the most.

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

The Top 10 Videogame Songs, #2


Yesterday we took a good long look at one of the most sophisticated and beautiful songs in videogame history.

While one would expect that we would continue with this trend as we ascend the the prestigious Top 3 of the Top 10 Videogame Songs, I’m sorry to say that’s not the case.

Perhaps more now than ever, I feel I need to reiterate that:

This is my list, and you will respect EVERY DAMN THING I HAVE TO SAY.

*Ahem!* On that note, I’d like to introduce you to #2 on our list from the Playstation classic, Soul Edge/Blade:

#2. Soul Edge – The Edge of Soul

I realize now, more than ever; that I’m very much a product of my time.

The 90’s was the decade of the fighting game, and as such; games of that genre play host to some of my most beloved gaming memories.

Like many young boys of the day, I hopped on the Street Fighter 2 bus and rode that thing all the way to around 2005… when my fighting game reflexes mysteriously went down the crapper.

That’s a story for another day though.

Soul Blade was Namco’s sister series to their wildly popular and innovative 3D fighting series, Tekken.

Tekken = JAPAN.

Featuring some of the most impressive graphics and animations of day, as well as an in-depth “quest” mode for the home version, Soul Blade was a wildly addictive fighting game that was easy to pick up, but difficult to master.

In short, Soul Blade was kind of a big deal back in the day.

In an era when everyone wanted to play fighting games, but often lacked the technical competence to be competitive with their friends; Soul Blade was basically the go-to weekend rental of it’s time.

... A time that appears to have abruptly come to an end as of 5 minutes ago.

Soul Blade is one of maybe 2 games on this list I never owned, but in all seriousness; I probably put more hours into than most games I’ve owned.

From the gameplay, to the design, to the breathtaking soundtrack; Soul Blade was a top tier PS1 game, such that I honestly find myself tempted to pick it up again from time to time.

Which brings me to why “The Edge of Soul” ranks so high on my list.

I know it’s really fuckin’ stupid, but the opening cinematic of Soul Blade was, to the 10 year old me; one of the most mind-blowing and graphically spectacular sequences, ever.

Take a look for yourself:

FMV was still relatively new to me in 1997, (I had a shitty computer) but even so, the opening of Soul Blade was leaps and bounds beyond anything I’d seen in a game up to that point, possessing a degree of polish that even the FMV heavy Final Fantasy VII couldn’t begin to rival.

Everything element of the opening of Soul Blade, from the music cues, to the thoughtful selection of relevant clips that do much to flesh out the principle cast of the game; is top notch, such that I wouldn’t think it too far-fetched to name it as one of the best openings in gaming history.

Despite the inherent corniness of the song, “The Edge of Soul” had a fair amount to do with making both the opening of Soul Blade, and the game itself; as incredible and memorable as it was.

The lyrics and vocals are admittedly kind of weak, certainly nowhere near the grandeur of yesterday’s “The Best Is Yet To Come,” however the quality of the sampling and instrumentation of the music, combined with the pulse-pounding nature of the song; make for a terrific, if not consumately 90’s “pump up” song.

“The Best Is Yet To Come” may ooze substance and sophistication, and is indeed beautiful; but the simple fact of the matter is that it’s not a song I would ever really listen to outside of it’s usage in Metal Gear Solid.

“The Edge of Soul” is an undeniably fun song that I’ve kept in my library nearly as long as “Makenai Ai ga Kitto Aru,” and as such, I think I’d be lying to myself if I claimed “The Best Is Yet To Come” meant more to me.

Sorry kids, style beats substance this time.

Let this be an isolated incident…

Check back tomorrow as we crown our #1 on our list of the Top 10 Videogame Songs!

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

Thoughts on Mortal Kombat: Rebirth

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

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

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

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

You knew I had to use this one again.

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

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

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

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

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

And we all know how well that turned out.

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

Okay, this movie needs to be made. NOW.

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

On paper, I think it’s a great idea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No wait, THIS, is gimmicky...

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

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

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

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

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

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

But what did I think of the fighting?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Mullins’ Johnny Cage was pretty good as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...Or they could just make this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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