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What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Best Boss Music #12: Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage

Maximum Carnage was a decent beat ’em up in an age when beat ’em ups were a dime a dozen.

Produced by LJN for the Super NES and Genesis, the game followed the storyline of the massive Spider-Man crossover of the same name, with the player taking on the role Spider-Man (duh), or in some cases; his nastier (and cooler) counterpart, Venom.

Aside from a rather harsh difficulty level, the only really glaring deficiency of the game, was it’s lack of 2-player simultaneous support.

Honestly, LJN product or not; nobody in their right mind should ever think it’s okay to release a beat ’em up without a 2 player function.

Behold, the rainbow of ass.

Despite this (huge) flaw, the game did offer some interesting innovations to the genre in the form of special items that bestow the player with aid from other superheroes, and Spider-Man and Venom’s decidedly spidery movesets.

The “superhero summon” system was a decent idea on paper, however the item pickups that activated the function were extremely rare, and often were only useful to the player in very specific circumstances.

I remember hating to use the “summons” sometimes, ’cause every time you did, it would trigger an annoying second or 2 long clip of the summoned character’s “theme music.”

That might not sound too bad to you, but try summoning Black Cat 5 times in a row, see what happens.

Yeah, pretty fuckin’ annoying, right?

*Ahem!* Moving on, the movesets for the 2 protagonists were pretty well thought out for their time.

In addition to the classic one button punch combos, throws, and 2 button screen clearing attacks; both Spider-Man and Venom had the ability to run, jump, backflip, (useful for finding items, hidden areas, and nothing else) climb walls in the background, block attacks with their webbing, swing from web lines, grab enemies with their webbing/symbiote, and even slam 2 enemies’ heads together ala Batman in the Batman Returns game on the Super NES.

While most of these features were elementary for the most part, the addition of the web based moves added a lot to the experience.

In addition to giving the player added flexibility to their approach to various fights, an important factor given how absurdly overpowered some of the bosses could be; the web attacks also served to make good use of the Spider-Man license.

On a side note, while some of the character art… and animations… and backgrounds; are kind of shitty, I’ve always felt that LJN did a pretty decent job with the Spider-Man, and in particular; the Venom sprites.

I said "decent," not "great"....

Not that they managed to do anything else right in the entirety of their game developing existence, but that’s besides the point…

Both are animated fluidly, though Spider-Man looks kind of weird given his oddly dick-shaped head and lack of web pattern on his suit.

I always thought it was cool how both had their own unique animations, with Spider-Man’s being more graceful and Venom’s being more brutish.

One thing that kind of sucked, was the fact that Venom was definitely the more difficult character to use than Spider-Man.

As a kid, I always picked him every chance I got, though his slightly slower attack speed and harder levels made for an experience I rarely made it to the end of.

Pictured: THE reason I rarely beat Maximum Carnage.

While Maximum Carnage was indeed only an average (at best) game, my memories of it run very deep.

I remember reading the comic arc around the same time I played the game, and to this day I feel the harsh atmosphere and violent content of the game do well to live up to the original story.

Nevermind that the comic itself was actually kind of shitty, but bear in mind; I was a young and mostly stupid Azn Badger when I read it, so Venom and a healthy dose of violence were pretty much all I needed to be impressed.

Besides my personal attachment to the source material, another silly little bit of nostalgia worth noting, was the fact that the game cartridge WAS FUCKING RED.

FUCKING. RED.

Remember the stupid fuckin’ gimmick of the golden Legend of Zelda carts?

Remember how many fuckin’ copies that game sold?

Well, my guess is LJN was hoping to cash in on the “colored cart” gimmick; and for all intents and purposes, it worked.

Just ask Killer Instinct

Biter...

I’m not saying the game sold all that well, (my guess is: it didn’t) but for me and my friends, the promise of a BLOOD/CARNAGE RED cart to shove into our Super NES’ was one that was awful tempting.

Anyway, another little gimmick, and one that I never really found any reason to get excited about, even as a kid; was the fact that LJN recruited the rock band Green Jelly to do some of the music for the game.

Now, I don’t know about you; but the only thing I really remember about Green Jelly, was the fact that they did that retardedly awesome rock version of “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” they used in Dumb and Dumber:

While that was indeed really fuckin’ awesome, please bear in mind that I hadn’t even seen Dumb and Dumber by the time I was playing Maximum Carnage.

Oh yeah, and I was a fuckin’ 7 year old kid that was still listening to a GREEN audio cassette of the Ninja fuckin’ Turtles in place of music.

Anyway, Green Marmalade did the soundtrack for the game, and I’ve gotta’ say; while I don’t really know what their songs are/were like, they did a pretty good job with the score for Maximum Carnage.

The score has an appropriately hard rock sound to it, in that the comic arc itself had a mosh pit sort of vibe to it, with Carnage’s mistress, Shriek; acting as the psychic ringmaster to an ongoing street riot in New York for much of the story.

As such, the soundtrack for Maximum Carnage has a very aggressive and sometimes dark sound to it that lends a sense of legitimacy to some of the more serious moments in the narrative.

Just listen the track they use during the cutscenes, it’s simple, but pretty fuckin’ sinister if you ask me:

Standing out as a highlight in the soundtrack though, is the boss music from Maximum Carnage.

Bearing a highly energetic tempo, the boss theme sounds very much the product of a hard rock band:

Truth be told, I really only like the first half of the track, when the primary (digitized) guitar riffs are front and center; however that isn’t to say the track isn’t great from a technical perspective.

My issue with the second half of the track, is that it comes across as being “too fun” for my tastes.

The first half sounds like the background to a fuckin’ supervillain beat down, while the second half sounds a little bit too colorful for it’s own good.

That’s just me though.

Anyway, this has been another (long overdue) installment of the Best Boss Music, tune in tomorrow!

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

Thoughts on Inception

Movie Poster Fail.

Let it be known, this article is not a review.

Like my article on Splice, I don’t feel adequately qualified to properly review Inception, and as such, I will instead use this post as a vehicle for my ruminations regarding it.

Anyway, let me begin by saying that:

I liked Inception.

I felt it was an entertaining and (conceptually) innovative film, that managed to hold my interest throughout despite it’s sinfully long running time.

Okay fine, the movie isn’t Braveheart long, but hey; you try going to see it in the theater at 10:45 at night and tell me it didn’t whip your ass.

10:45 PM or not, he's gonna' BEAT YOUR ASS.

Inception is a film that I absolutely will not spend time going into detail regarding the plot and other such bullshit.

I say this, not because I don’t want to drop spoilers, but because I honestly don’t remember most of them.

Oh yeah, and it would cause me physical pain to try and explain some of the goofy shit that goes on in this movie.

Seriously, I’d need a diorama, Powerpoint, an old priest and a young priest just to explain the concept of this fucking movie.

Actually, I think Von Sydow would do well enough by himself. Max Von Sydow was BORN looking that awesome.

The basic concept of the movie involves the manipulation and invasion of peoples’ dreams, leading to a story that mirrors that of an absurdly complex and convoluted heist film.

I say “convoluted” because there are moments when, just when you think you’ve got all the rules of the film’s impressively well thought out, and seemingly structured universe, the movie starts throwing you curve balls in the form of changing it’s own logic for the sake of convenience in regards to the plot.

That’s not to say this happens all the way through, however there were at least 2 occasions in which I honestly had to scratch my head and say:

“Huh?  Why the fuck did that just happen?”

Pictured: A film where such a phrase is often uttered by the viewer, and yet no explanations are offered...

It’s interesting to note that, despite the 2 films sharing very little in common, for whatever reason I kept saying to myself in the theater:

“This hella’ reminds me of Flatliners…”

WHY THE FUCK HAS NO ONE SEEN THIS MOVIE!?

Despite it’s complex subject matter and, at times, fuzzy internal logic; it should be noted that Inception is by no means a genius of a film.

That is, unlike The Legend of Zelda on the NES, Inception did not make me feel stupid or lost at any point, rather; it succeeded in making me feel smart.

Let it be known, the Azn Badger is a Badger of barely average intelligence.

Your average Badger.

Azn or not.

An AZN Badger.

That being said, let me just say that the screenplay of Inception, like seemingly every Christopher Nolan film, is very redundant, and much too excessive with it’s incessant dropping of “breadcrumbs” for the viewer.

In example, let’s summarize the scripts for Batman Begins, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight:

Batman Begins:  “FEAR!!!!!!!! JUSTICE!!!!!!!!! I’M BATMAAAANNNNNN!!!!!!”

The Prestige: “REVENGE!!!! MAGICAL DAVIIIIIIIDDDDDD BOWIIIIIIIIEEEEE!!!!!!”

The Dark Knight: “CHAOS!!!! JUSTICE!!!!!!!!! WHERE IS HE!!!!!!!????”

To those of you that don’t habla Espanol, “breadcrumbs” refers to the little droplings, or tidbits of information that are interspersed throughout a screenplay to make those “Ah Hah!” moments seem more logical, and ultimately, more rewarding to the viewer.

Inception’s script is, to pound the metaphor totally into the ground, not sprinkled with breadcrumbs as most films should be, but is instead simply a whole loaf of bread.

Mmmmmm.... Inception.... *Drool*

Put it this way, if you’re paying attention, and are able to keep track of wherever the fuck the film’s logic decides to go throughout the movie, then chances are you’ll be able to figure out most of the major plot points a good 20 minutes to a half hour before I think the movie intended you to.

Anyway, good movie, provocative screenplay, but just a little bit heavy-handed with the exposition at times.

Attention Mr. Nolan: This is not the tool you use to write a script...

The acting performances in Inception were, in a word; “solid.”

I say this because, despite the all-star cast; Inception is by no means an actor’s movie.

Due to the hardened nature of most of the main characters, the majority of the performances consist of muted expressions and flat deliveries.

Hell, even most of the humor is deadpan.

Tom Hardy has an accent, and that’s about all he did for me.

Ellen Page, while looking uncharacteristically fetching in this movie, also failed to leave any sort of impression.

Leonardo DiCaprio is just about the only actor allowed to emote throughout, yet despite this; most of his thunder is stolen by the script’s propensity to spill the beans on it’s big character reveals long before their intended cues.

That being said, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ken Watanabe managed to make an impression based purely on their facial acting.

That and Levitt looks like my brother, but Jewish.

He looks like these two, a little. Those are the only clues you're getting though...

Oh yeah, and Ken Watanabe is pimp, so he gets a pass as well.

One thing I feel that needs to be pointed out about Inception, is that the action is typical of a Christopher Nolan film.

One thing about Nolan that truly confuses me, is that he seems to know what he likes in his movies, and how he likes to shoot it, however, when it comes to framing action, the man just doesn’t have a clue.

Maybe it’s his cinematographer, or his editor’s fault, but regardless, whoever is fucking up really needs to stop it.

RIGHT NOW.

Simply put, Christopher Nolan likes sweeping aerial shots of cities,

Check...

car chases,

Double check...

and gunplay/fighting.

Check-A-Saurus Rex...

Inception, of course, has all of these things, however only 2 thirds of it is done well.

Don’t get me wrong, Nolan’s cityscape shots are always beautiful, as are his car chases, but when it comes to framing human-on-human violence, he sucks donkey balls.

My main issue with Nolan’s action scenes, is the lack of spacial awareness the viewer is given throughout.

You know that thing that the Hong Kong cinematographers do where they shoot the actors from the toes up so you can catch the detail and intent in their movements?

I know, a fight scene is totally different from your standard action scene, but bear with me...

Well, Nolan’s answer to this is to frame everything all loosey-goosey, and then throw the footage into the meat grinder until it makes a Bourne movie look under-edited.

It should be said though, that whoever does Mr. Nolan’s sound editing, should be given some sort of award *cough!* Oscar! *cough!*

Seriously, the sound of the gunfire in both The Dark Knight and Inception is a thing of beauty.

Truly the definition of “ear-popping.”

No, different kind of "ear pop," yah' dipshit...

Compliments aside, I have one more gripe about the action:

I know it’s realistic to choreograph a gunfight as a fairly stationary and controlled series of tactical potshots, but for A MOVIE THAT TAKES PLACE IN FUCKING DREAMLAND, I’d expect things to be just a little bit more colorful.

WOAH!!!!! TOO MUCH COLOR!!!! DIAL THAT SHIT DOWN, SON!!!!

Seriously, what the fuck is the point of having gunfire and explosions in your movie if you aren’t going to go to the trouble to highlight them in any way.

On a final note, I’d like to take a minute to give my thoughts on the soundtrack of Inception.

A lot has been said about the ever so prolific, Hans Zimmer’s, soundtrack of the movie.

Lookit' this smug fuck, with his dick-eatin' lips...

By, “a lot,” of course, I mean a lot of good.

Several of my friends hyped the soundtrack for me, such that I was really excited to hear the soundtrack, much more so than I was about seeing the movie in fact.

After all, my friends and I used to refer to Inception in daily speech as simply, “BWAAAHHHHH!!!” due to the brass blaring teaser trailer.

In example:

“Hey, did you see BWAAAHHHH!!! yet dude?”

Anyway, retarded bullshit aside, Inception’s soundtrack was booming, sweeping, and all sorts of epic, however I ended up leaving the theater with little to no recollection of any sort of themes or melodies played throughout.

In essence, the music was gorgeous, and almost mystifyingly dignified, almost like a classical symphony, however, despite being excessive and overbearing throughout, to me; it just wasn’t all that memorable or engaging.

Seriously, Inception had a lot of music, too much in fact.

The only musical memory I walked away from the film with was bittersweet, in that I realized one of the climax themes played during the last act of the film, was in fact played twice within the same act of the film.

That’s just fucking lazy.

I’ve always said Hans Zimmer was overrated, and while the score for Inception does little to change my impression of him, I will say this:

He’s done better.

Just as Christopher Nolan has done better.

And Leonardo DiCaprio has done better.

Even so, Inception is a good movie, that while lacking in some areas, and full of holes in others, is a film that, regardless of how you feel about it, leaves you with something to talk about.

Just like The Matrix more than 10 years before it, (wow, I’m really that old?) it’s by no means perfect, but something about it just makes us want to sit down talk about it with someone, for better or for worse.

In many ways, I can think of no greater success for a film of this nature.

Now let’s just hope they don’t go and blow it by making a shit ton of sequels…

Although Mr. Nolan can go ahead and make another Batman.

The Azn Badger loves him some Batman…

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

Zelda Made Me Feel Dumb…

DUMB.

Have you ever played a game that made you feel dumb?

I have.

In fact, I’ve played a lot of them.

Chess, Connect Four, Battleship, they seriously fuckin’ wrecked my self-confidence as a kid.

Don’t even get me started on Candyland.

That motherfucker, Gloppy the Molasses Monster, used to kick my ass all the way back to that fruitcake Plumpy’s plum tree every fuckin’ game…

Lookit that fat fuck... Stewin' in his own feces. Eat a dick you fuckin' gamebreaking whore.

All that ugliness aside, this post is primarily concerned with the evils of the Zelda franchise.

It all began in my childhood, as all things on this blog seem to blog do.

I was over at one of my spoiled friend’s houses when I played The Legend of Zelda for the first time.

Seriously, this kid had all of the cool shit like a divorced kid, Power Wheels, Nerf Guns, and a Super NES IN HIS ROOM, only without the whole divorced parents thing.

COOLEST. BABY. EVER.

Anyway, on most days we would sit around and play cool shit like Monster Party, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project, but on this particular day, he had to step out for an hour or two to go to a Kumon class.

Yeah, he was spoiled and he had tutors.

Guess which one of us grew up to be retarded and socially maladjusted?

That’s right, both of us.

Hey, at least we didn't up like these two...

Normally when this would happen, only my friend’s mom would be at home, necessitating my coming with them for the trip.

However, on this particular afternoon, my buddies’ dad happened to be home early from work, so it was decided that I would hang out at the house while my friend was away.

How I wish I had gone with them that day.

I remember sitting down for a minute and pondering what to do for the next few hours.

Being unwilling to play the usual stuff without my friend, I considered playing something different, like M.C. Kids (which isn’t nearly as bad as it should be.)

Hell, I even remember playing Sesame Street Countdown for a minute or two.

But then I noticed something different, something golden.

Not THAT you perv.

Do you have any idea how irresistable a golden videogame is to a child?

Totally fucking irresistable, that’s how much.

I plugged that sucker in faster than you could say “Jiminy Christmas,” and after removing the cartridge and blowing on it about a billion times, I was transported to the land of Hyrule for the first time in my young life.

By then, I knew who Zelda and Link were, thanks to those godawful cartoons they aired on Saturday mornings, but I had yet to play any of the games in the series.

If you actually finished that video, you’re a fag.

Regardless of your faggot/not faggot status, I knew that the Zelda games were supposed to be crazy good, so much so that many of my friends liked to brag about their progress within them, especially in the second, and supposedly much harder game.

Needless to say, I was pretty psyched to give Zelda a try.

My first, and easily best memory of Zelda was being enchanted by the classic Zelda overworld theme.

It was wondrous, certainly one of the most memorable tracks of game music I had heard up to that point in my life, despite it’s age, even back then.

The first screen had a cave clearly visible in the background, so of course I went in.

Upon entering the cave I was greeted by an old man that told me it was dangerous outside, so I should take a sword with me.

Apparently we're in the HARD part of Hyrule. Like, South Central HARD.

With sword in hand, I set out into the world of Hyrule to……

Do absolutely nothing.

You see, Zelda was the first “open world” game I ever played.

The map was designed in a non-linear, explorable fashion, thus making the objective of the game to, well, stumble across your objectives.

Much unlike the games I was accustomed to:

What do I do again? Oh yeah that's right, KILL EVERYTHING.

I was not aware of this at the time, however it didn’t really matter either way, seeing as I never actually stumbled across said objectives.

I spent 2 hours killing monsters and collecting a billion fucking rupees, while never once figuring out what I was supposed to do, or where I was supposed to go.

It made me feel stupid, like I was lame for missing something all my friend’s had apparently gotten with ease.

It's not that I don't "get" it, it's just that I don't "like" it.

As an older and wiser Azn Badger, one that now understands the “rules” of every Zelda game ever made (they don’t change), I could probably beat The Legend of Zelda in an afternoon with a little Energon and a lot of luck, but as a kid, I was hopeless.

Brownie points to those that got the reference.

Not long after my failure at the hands of The Legend of Zelda, I tried playing Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link at my neighbor’s house (the same ones that I used to play Super Double Dragon with.)

It took me only a few minutes to understand that straying off the main road caused monsters to spawn, but outside of that discovery, I was once again dead in the water.

All I ever saw of Zelda 2.

Zelda games had me by the balls as a kid.

Imagine growing up as a Nintendo kid and having that hanging over your head.

Zelda is one of Nintendo’s flagship franchises, and as such, every subsequent release in the series garners disgusting amounts of hype and praise.

I remember getting a sour taste in the back of my throat every time a Zelda game came out and my friend’s went nuts over them.

When The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past first came out on the Super NES, my Double Dragon playing neighbors suddenly converted to a Zelda cult overnight.

Thankfully they didn't go this far though...

I remember they let me start my own save file one time.

Thankfully, the game managed to provide me with a little bit of instruction at times, thusly allowing me to progress through the adventure somewhat.

By somewhat I mean I got through the introductory Hyrule castle segment.

It took me about an hour and a half.

After that, I remember walking up to an ordinary black stone and being frustrated by my inability to pick it up and throw it at a chicken.

My neighbors said to me:

“You need the gloves to pick that up.”

“Where are the gloves?”

“It’s part of the game, you’ll find ’em later.”

All through my childhood, I never found those damn gloves.

Turns out Michael Jackson had 'em the whole time.

I remember my brother getting the Game Boy exclusive, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Christmas one year.

He loved that game, he used to play it for hours every day.

I hated that game, but I used to love watching my brother play it.

I remember it well cause he used to get pissed when my head would put shadows on the screen.

My only real fond memory of playing Link’s Awakening came in the form of abusing a chicken until his friends showed up to pwn my ass.

By the time Ocarina of Time AKA “OMG The Best Game EVER!!!” came out, I was still feeling sour about Zelda games and how they had taken my nuts without asking.

I played Ocarina of Time exactly once, at my barber’s house.

No, not the same barber that gave me my first Nintendo Power.

Her son had a Nintendo 64 that I would tool around on while waiting for my mom to get her hair cut.

I usually played Starfox 64 and Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, often times getting medals and achievements that my barber’s kid had failed to get.

I was good at those games, I liked those games; and they liked me back.

You can't see it, but I was hugging the console while taking this screenshot.

One day though, I was feeling confident and decided to plug in the ‘ole golden cartridge once more, this time on the N64.

I soon discovered that not much had changed in 10 years.

I remember being pissed off because all of the advertising material for Ocarina of Time had Link portrayed as an adult, a grown-up with a big ass sword.

During the segement I played, I was forced to control a tiny-ass Link with no sword, and no jump button.

Oh come on! Look at him! He's tiny as shit!

Once again, I was unable to get my bearings in the game, resulting in me doing nothing but ride my horse around aimlessly and occasionally go fishing.

Outside of the fishing, which was admittedly pretty fun, I walked away from Ocarina of Time without so much as reaching for my stolen nuts.

Now if only I could get 'em back from that fuckin' squirrel...

After Ocarina of time, I would never play any of the new Zelda games.

Until now.

A few months ago, not long before I started this blog, I fired up my Super NES one day, as I tend to do, and decided to do something bold.

A good friend of mine was kind enough to give me his entire library of Super NES games last year (he’s a really good friend), among which was A Link to the Past.

For the first time in over 10 years, I found myself playing a Zelda game.

Not only that, but I told myself I was going to beat it and get my nuts back!

Well, maybe tomorrow then. Yeah, that's right, tomorrow...

After a month or two of chipping away at dungeons and peeking at GameFAQs, I managed to defeat Ganon and unite the Triforce.

True, I didn’t beat the game legit, as evidenced by my liberal use of strategy guides, and my general lack of motivation for finding all of the equipment and treasures, but I didn’t care, I had beaten a motherfucking Zelda game.

I was often bitterly frustrated during my exploits throughout the game, and in fact found very little enjoyment in the experience as a whole, but by the end, I considered my nuts rightfully reclaimed.

And not a moment too soon.  I am, after all, a 20-something, handsome, (single) college graduate.

Did I mention I drew the cover for a published novel?

That's right honey, I do it all...

Bullshit aside, following my victory over A Link to the Past, I made the decision to try my hand at The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker on the Gamecube.

Honestly, I think I decided to subject myself to more Zelda torture simply because the experience promised a lengthy adventure that could not be beaten quickly.

As I mentioned in a previous post, games are like a way of killing time for me nowadays, so a playable, but ultimately confusing and frustrating game is now something that appeals to me on some twisted level.

Maybe I’m a masochist, who knows?

This guy knows what I'm talking about. God rest his soul.

Currently, I am maybe 20% into Windwaker, though I haven’t been playing with the same sense of urgency or fervor that I did Link to the Past.

The game is actually very good, with responsive controls and persistent yet simple puzzles around every corner.

I do however still feel stupid from time to time, usually when it comes to figuring out which items to use in dungeons.

Protip: Use the Deku Leaf FUCKING EVERYWHERE.

Despite this, I honestly like the cartoony, “island” aesthetic of the game, it reminds me of good things I remember from Hawaii.

And that’s always a good thing.

I am still using FAQs from time to time when I get stuck, and though I fear I will never be able to conquer a Zelda without the use of one, I don’t care.

“Beating” a Zelda game has never been the point.

Zelda games still make me feel dumb, but at least they don’t have my nuts anymore.

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

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