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What About the Lysine Contingency…?

The Best Track in the Game #12: Battletoads and Double Dragon

Ah, woodpaneling... So very 70's. So very, Atari...

Battletoads and Double Dragon represented a novel and innovative concept for it’s time.

Bear in mind, this was long before the days of the Marvel vs. Capcom, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, and the general cross-overy nature of the Super Smash Bros. series.

Basically it's like this. I assure that's not 2 different kinds of poop.

By taking 2 action game franchises, and marrying their character rosters and gameplay styles, the folks over at Tradewest and Rare succeeded in accomplishing 2 things:

They made the easiest, and therefore most accessible Battletoads game, and they also made the simplest, and therefore worst traditional Double Dragon game.

Bear in mind, even the very worst of the Double Dragon series (which would be Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls) is still pretty good.

Okay, I take that back. Double Dragon V was ass... The cartoon was kinda' fun though.

Put together, those 2 facts result in a game that is straightforward, fun, but ultimately kind of mediocre in comparison to the other games in it’s respective series’.

That being said, I spent a good portion of my youth playing Battletoads and Double Dragon, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

You see, when I said Battletoads and Double Dragon was the “most accessible” Battletoads game, what I really meant to say, was that it was the only game in the series that was playable to non-Super Saiyans or non-mutants.

Or Non-Super Saiyan Mutants!

The Battletoads series is well known throughout gaming circles as being SOME OF THE MOST DIFFICULT FUCKING SHIT KNOWN TO MAN, and as such, the majority of us mere mortals simply can’t play them without tearing out our hair and/or breaking the fucking controller.

Pictured: The Result of Attempting to "BEAST" Battletoads.

Personally, I was only able to get about halfway through both Battletoads and it’s Super NES sequel, Battletoads in Battlemaniacs, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t have a problem with that.

In fact I’m proud to say that I got as far as I did.

Pictured: The Day I Beat Battletoads.

Fortunately, Battletoads and Double Dragon is quite a bit easier than your traditional Battletoads game, resulting in my having beat it about a half dozen times or so.

I also beat the Battletoads arcade game way back in the day, but that was when my parents were feedin’ me quarters at a birthday party, so that doesn’t really count.

To be fair though, most of the time I was just playing Aliens vs. Predator AKA THE BEST BEAT 'EM UP EVER.

The one thing I always found be downright mean about Battletoads games, was the fact that they always bait you into thinking that the games’ gonna’ be fun and easy by giving you a cast of a colorful and cartoony characters to play as,

Zitz, Pimple and Rash: Corporate Whores.

and a laughably easy beat ’em up intro stage:


Every fuckin’ game in the series does this, and as a kid you think that’s gonna’ be the whole extent of the gameplay experience, but no, they had to go and change up the gameplay for EVERY FUCKING STAGE.

True, for the time this was a fucking revelation in gameplay variety on a single cartridge, but for those of us who were too dumb to read the back of the box, or failing that, the instruction manual, this really fuckin’ FUCKED you over somethin’ fierce.

Needless to say, I had problems learning the goddamn Turbo Tunnel,

I had problems learning fuckin’ Karnath’s Lair,

and you can sure as hell bet I never had a chance in goddamn fuckin’ Volkmire’s Inferno:

That’s right, I remember the names of the levels.

Hard to forget when they STEAL YOUR SOUL.

Anyway, the fun part about about Battletoads and Double Dragon, was that it kept the varied gameplay of the Battletoads series, but placed more of an emphasis on the sidescrolling beat ’em up action due to the inclusion of the Double Dragons.

Billy and Jimmy Lee: Proud Owners of Pimp-Ass Pompadours.

It should be noted however, that the general gameplay mechanics of the fighting are based purely off of the Battletoads games, meaning the movement controls are “slippery,” running attacks are king, and enemies can only be defeated via flashy, and sometimes dangerously slow, smash attacks.

Make no mistake, this is Battletoads and Double Dragon, not the other way around.

Some of the alternative gameplay functions that were carried over from the Battletoads series were:

A pathetically easy Turbo Tunnel segment,

Also known as, "A Complete Waste of Time."

and a brief rappelling segment akin to the Wookie Tunnel from the original Battletoads:

Complete with Toad 'Morphin Action!

In addition to this, there was also an absurdly difficult Asteroids inspired spaceship shooting sequence in one of the later stages in the game:

Believe it or not, this was the easy part of the stage!

I fuckin’ hated that stage…

Anyway, my fondest memories of Battletoads and Double Dragon, will always be playing it with my Korean buddy from up the street.

Pictured: Said Korean. He made this, not me.

For whatever reasons, he insisted on playing the game, in particular the 3rd stage, while blasting 50 Cent’s “In Da’ Club.”

Fortunately, through the wonders of technology, I can replicate the experience for you!

CLICK HERE

Anyway, the basic plot of the game involved the Battletoad’s eternal nemesis, the delicious Dark Queen, hopping in her new Rat-Ship, The Colossus, and headin’ on down to Earth to wreak some havok.

Mmmm, sexual...

Along the way though, she recruits the aid of the Double Dragon’s regular punching bags, The Shadow Warriors and their leader, the Shadow Boss (they mean “Master”).

Oh Brock, we keep finding ways to slip you in...

This of course results in the Battletoads responding by giving Billy and Jimmy Lee a jingle.

Really!? THIS, was the best you could find?

With the “Ultimate Team” assembled, our heroes set off into the cosmos to whup the Shadow Boss/Master, and kick the Dark Queen right in her sweet, luscious ass.

Mmmm, pixelated...

*Ahem!* Pardon me…

That being said, let’s get down to the real business at hand.

The Best Track in Battletoads and Double Dragon is

The Title Screen

Why?

If ever there was a track that better represented the Battletoad’s style, (aside from their theme music of course) it’d have to be the Title Screen music of Battletoads and Double Dragon.

Despite the game being the product of dual franchises, the music, graphical style, and gameplay of Battletoads and Double Dragon are almost uniformly based around the Battletoads aesthetic.

Indeed, every track in the game includes the heavy metal-ish simulated electric guitar work we’ve all come to expect from the Battletoads games, and I for one love that about it.

Seriously man, this track has wonderful sense of “let’s go kick some ass” to it that really gets you psyched to play the game.

At the same time however, it’s not an overly aggressive piece of music.

Much like the heavy metal-ish sound I just mentioned, the Title Screen track has an appropriate sense of “fun” to it that serves to remind you of the inherently cartoonish nature of the game you’re about to play.

My only complaint about the soundtrack of the game, is the fact that it doesn’t include any of either of the two franchises signature tracks.

Both the Double Dragon and Battletoad’s themes are absent from the game, as are any pieces of existing music from either franchise.

While it may seem fanboy-ish of me to say it, I’m actually surprised that Rare went ahead and made an entirely original soundtrack for the game despite the treasure trove of existing tracks they could have recycled.

Oh well, brownie points to them for putting in the extra hours.

Anyway, it’s been a long time coming, but that’s it for The Best Track in the Game #12.

To make up for the lack of Double Dragon factoids, (I felt I pretty much covered them in some of my earlier posts) here’s the intro of the old Saturday morning cartoon I used to watch way back when!:

Man that shit sucked balls…

I love how they actually went so far as to rhyme “dragon” with “braggin’.”

Also, the repetition of “You (blank) are dragon master, NOW” is just fucking awful…

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

Hidden Treasures, Part I

My old Dino Riders VHS... Know how you can tell you're cool? When you've got motherfuckin' Dino Riders sitting on your living room shelf, that's how.

Today I went on a little adventure.

Said adventure took me deep into the bowels of my parent’s basement, specifically a cozy little closet space underneath the stairs.

Within that cluttered space, I was fortunate to find a treasure trove of nostalgic goodies from years past.

Given, most of this stuff is utter crap, and probably wouldn’t be worth anything to anyone, but even so, it brings me a warm feeling to know that a lot of the neat stuff I had as a kid is still buried in the house somewhere.

First up is Power Ranger crap:

In this box I found the remains of just about every Megazord of the original “Mighty Morphin'” era I.E from the original Megazord to the the Thunder Megazord

I didn’t bite for the Shogun Megazord, thought it looked ghey.

I also went ahead and skipped the Ninja Megazord from the movie too.

That thing was bullshit.

Good God that thing's a pile...

Amid the wreckage, I was also fortunate to find most of Drago from Super Human Samurai Syber Squad AKA Gridman.

Yeah, you better believe Drago was the shit.

Did you ever see that show?

Most people I mention it too give me weird looks.

Hell, most people I talk to give me weird looks, so what’s the difference, eh?

It had that one asshole from Boy Meets World in it, and was actually pretty good too, despite the retarded name.

ASSHOLE.

Anyway, after digging around for a bit, I was pleased to find that my prized White Tiger Zord remained virtually unscathed:

RAWR.

Oh yeah, and I also found a bunch of those crappy ass Power Ranger action figures that nobody ever liked too:

Yeah, you better believe most of them were broken, no doubt on purpose.

Buried at the very bottom of my Power Ranger box I found traces of the great, Titanus the CarrierZord.

Near as I can tell, he might be missing a head, but goddamn he was the coolest fucking part of that show.

I would’ve pulled him out for a closer look, but he was buried pretty deep and I was in a hurry so… maybe some other time.

Regardless, this is what he was supposed to look like for those that may not remember him:

BRACHIOSAUR OF ULTIMATE PWNAGE!

On top of all the Power Ranger toys and what not, I also found a cache of VHS tapes, specifically the first 5 episodes of the series, plus the entire Green Ranger Saga!

Rest assured, I’ll probably be re-watching these in the near future.

I’m especially looking forward to the Green Ranger business, ’cause near as I can recall; that was some legitimately good storytelling.

Plus it introduced us to Jason David Frank, the man so nice they named him THRICE.

And this is the part where all the ladies in the room start fanning themselves.

Feel free to change your underwear after that one, he’s known to have that effect on the crotch bid’ness.

Tune in tomorrow for more basement dwelling adventures!

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

Guilty Pleasure: Aquatic Monster Movies

I have a weakness for monster movies.

I’ve always been fascinated by the technical aspect of producing gore effects in horror movies.

This guy knows what I'm talkin' about...

I’ve always been attracted to that lovely, organic “glow” you find in special effects from 70’s and 80’s sci-fi movies.

No, not THAT glow. But still...

But more than anything, I’ve always been fascinated by monsters brought to life by makeup, man-in-a-suit or animatronic effects.

I’ve never watched a monster movie to be scared by it, rather I’ve spent my life watching shitty, feature-length movies solely with the intent of seeing the title monster come to life in a single, carefully choreographed, money shot.

You know that one scene where Pumpkinhead is stalking the kidthrough the cabin, and then he tricks him into thinking he’s leaving, only to charge back into the room and find him in the closet, baring his teeth in the process?

Trust me, it was awesome, even with the retarded subtitles.

Pumpkinhead was more than a dude in a rubber suit in that shot, he was a real monster to me.

Same goes for the T-Rex when his pupil dilated in Jurassic Park, or when Bruce surfaces for the “bigger boat” scene in Jaws.

This in no way reflects my feelings as to which is the superior film. But, it's pretty fuckin' cool.

Don’t even get me started on Godzilla.  He didn’t have money shots, so much as the suit actor playing him simply was Godzilla in every frame of every shot.

... Apparently, this was true whether the cameras were running or not.

Which brings me to the subject of this post, my ridiculous attraction to underwater monster movies.

Ridiculous because most of these movies suck some serious balls.

Even more ridiculous because this attraction led me to excitedly watch and record god-awful TV movies like, The Beast, Creature, and Gargantua.

Unbelievably, EVEN MORE ridiculous because I remember going to see Sphere in theaters solely due to the fact that one or two frames of a Dragonfish attacking the camera were featured in it’s trailer.

I watched the whole fucking movie for THIS. That, and a giant squid that never appeared on screen...

I’m pretty sure that, after seeing Jaws as a kid, my fascination with aquatic monster movies began with Jaws rip-offs.

Orca was kind of flat, but was saved by the fetus scene a leg-bite, and Ennio Morricone.

Piranha was boring as shit, but had one shining moment when it let all those kids get nipped to bits.

Tentacles was an ungodly suck-fest that the Italian people still catch flack over to this day.

And Alligator… well, Alligator was actually a lot of fun and was one of the more self-aware horror movies that I can recall.

FUCK YEAH!

On a side note, I remember sitting through that boring-ass movie The Deep just because it had Robert Shaw and my dad told me there would be a Moray Eel in it.

Well, I remember lots of diving scenes, and the plot having something to do with an opium cache, but I’m pretty sure I fell asleep before the eel showed up.

Silly dad, remembering movies being WAAAAAAAAAY better than they actually were.

I'm lookin' at you Pope of Greenwich Village...

Despite the fact that nearly all of the movies I just mentioned were downright terrible, I remember renting them as a kid solely because they promised to deliver scenes of an aquatic beast tearing the shit out of people.

Or at least scenes of bad actors pretending to get pulled under water while someone opens up a blood pack beneath them.

In some ways, I think it was the inherently “cheap” quality to these movies that made them attractive to me.

Even as a kid, I knew that the reason you never saw the monster too much in a scary movie, was because often times the monster design wasn’t strong enough to be featured onscreen, in full detail.

As I mentioned before, when it comes to monster movies, especially aquatic ones, often times the monster’s presence in the film boils down to nothing more than a few key shots, and an overall “feeling” throughout the movie.

Well, unless you’re Octaman, then you just parade your monster around in full, head-to-toe glory for virtually the entire film.

Yes, I did in fact capture this from Gremlins 2: The New Batch. I'm a dork, I know.

Because of this, I think, as a kid, I felt like maybe I could make an aquatic monster movie.

I mean, come on, all I’d really need is a big monster head for one or two shots, and a bunch of my friends pretending to get eaten by said head, and I’d be set.

Hell, splice in some underwater scenes from an episode of National Geographic and it could be a classic of the genre.

Of course, even as a kid, nothing is ever that simple in life, and so I never made my monster movie.

Unlike this Nazi sack of shit.

Jaws and it’s clones were the catalyst in sparking my interest in aquatic monster movies, but sadly, they have had little to do with keeping my interest alive.

As I grew older, I came to appreciate the, “oh no, I got sucked under and now my death is symbolized by a billowing pool of blood” less and less.

I wanted more.

I said at the beginning of this post that I was in these movies for the monsters, and watching them come to life.

Well, as it turns out, at some point I came to realize that Jaws clones really were that cheap.

Cheap enough that they let me down pretty much every time the monster showed up for the final reel.

Enter: The successor to the Jaws clone, the Alien rip-off.

ASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!

In my youth, Leviathan, and to a lesser extent, Deepstar Six, were a big deal to me.

In case you didn’t notice, what with the nods to Jurassic Park, Pumpkinhead, and now Leviathan, I’m kind of Stan Winston fan.

In fact, even as a kid, Stan Winston’s name on the back of the Leviathan VHS was more than enough reason for me to beg my parent’s to rent it for me.

Same goes for Pumpkinhead.

Anyway, Stan Winston-gasm aside, Leviathan was ultimately a shitty movie, but fortunately it had some superb makeup effects to, well, make up for it.

Well, maybe except for maybe this eel thing... Looked kind of ratty...

I remember being creeped out by some of the earlier scenes in the movie, in particular the one where the woman’s hair started falling out, and the one where Daniel Stern scratched the shit out of Hector Elizondo’s arm.

In fact, I remember having to stop the movie during the former for fear of peeing my 12 year old pants.

The creature designs in Leviathan were both imaginative and versatile in the sense that they held up to the demands of the script, as well as that of the camera.

True, creative angles and quick cuts were commonplace during Leviathan, but for what it’s worth, many of the monsters were allowed to be shown off in full body shots, however briefly.

It’s unfortunate that the most impressive creature, the one that kills Ernie Hudson for no reason other than the fact that he’s black and… no wait, that really is the only reason, is only on-screen for a few brief seconds.

You're gonna' have to take my word for it, but it looked better in the movie...

I watched Leviathan, more than once, just to see those last few seconds.

Well, that and "Say, "Ah!" motherfucker!"

Deepstar Six was also a shitty movie, but one that I did not have the misfortune of seeing in my youth.

Deepstar Six came out in 1989, the same year as Leviathan, but with a cast of made-for-TV caliber actors, and a boring, seldom seen monster, it was released with significantly less fanfare.

The monster in Deepstar Six is onscreen for all of about 2 minutes, all during the final act of the movie.

In some cases, delaying the appearance of the monster until the last possible moment can be quite effective, but in Deepstar Six’s case, we spend most of the movie forgetting that the movie even has a monster.

Needless to say, Deepstar Six’s monster, while somewhat unique in that it’s a crustacean, and impressive in terms of size, is ultimately one hell of a let down.

Note that the eyes look like fuckin' smily faces.

The movie’s saving grace is Miguel Ferrer’s performance, as he chews the scenery like a roided out beaver, and is largely the only character with any sort of personality.

Oh yeah, and Nia Peeples was very nice to look at.

Well played Miss Peeples... Well, played indeed.

Now’s comes the part of this post where we get to the actual “guilty pleasure” aspect of my fascination with aquatic monster movies.

Truth be told, I didn’t really like Leviathan or Deepstar Six, I merely watched them far more than any sane human should.

Same goes for Deep Blue Sea.

Just about the only reason anyone remembers, or wants to remember Deep Blue Sea.

No, there is another movie, a different movie, one that doesn’t involve a monster brought to life through practical effects.

This movie, is called Deep Rising.

Behold: The good poster. Much like the bad poster, only not sucky.

Deep Rising is a big, noisy, big budget monster movie directed by a pre-Mummy series Stephen Sommers.

I watched it on HBO sometime in my teens, and I fell in love with it.

The movie has a fairly respectable reputation as a solid 2 out of 4 stars, with Roger Ebert even going out of his way to give it a thumbs up.

Among my circle of friends however, it’s either bitterly hated, or completely unknown.

And if THIS GUY doesn't like it, you know it's crap...

Monster movies were pretty commonplace around the time it came out.

If you were a snooty hipster, you were into Mimic (NOBODY liked Mimic when it first came out.)

Hmm, this looks somewhat familiar...

If you were a dumb shit that liked you some Ben Affleck-sauce in your coffee, you liked Phantoms.

Can't quite put my finger on it...

Oh yeah, they both shamelessly ripped off Scream from 2 years before.

And, if were an idiot like me, you were all about Anaconda.

Pictured: The exact measures that Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay were forced to employ in order to steal John Voight's soul.

Yeah, I’ll understand if you never read this blog again.

Deep Rising, despite having a pretty lame trailer, (my young mind immediately labeled it “garbage” after first seeing the trailer) stood out to me as one of the few “action horror/sci-fi” movies that actually delivered on the promises it’s absurdly long genre title indicated.

It was funny when it was supposed to be.

It was scary at times, especially early on.

And perhaps most importantly, it fooled me by having a monster that was NOT a giant octopus, and was instead something a helluva’ lot more impressive and unique.

I guess I can thank the legendary creature creator, Rob Bottin for that last part.

The monster is sort of a giant sea slug/octopus hybrid.

With teeth.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT.

Which is curious, seeing as the monster is described one that swallows it’s prey whole, and then “drinks” it, consuming all but the bones before upchucking said solid materials.

I appreciate how the process by which it hunts and eats is established early on, and in graphic fashion, thusly setting the stakes and letting the viewer know exactly why they should be afraid of the monster.

Yeah, death by "drinking" is on my list for top things I'd never want to experience.

Don’t let my sucking of the monster’s cock fool you though, Deep Rising is, at it’s core, a Stephen Sommers film, and ultimately devotes most of it’s running time to being “fun” and “kooky” as opposed to “scary.”

Treat Williams, Wes Studi, and that one weasly guy from the Hannibal Lecter movies and Boston Public turned out great performances throughout.

Oh yeah, and Famke Janssen was, of course, fun to look at.

Well hello there, naughty Dutch madam...

Although that other weasly guy, the one that seems to show up in virtually every Stephen Sommers movie, was his usual annoying self.

That ugliness aside, I genuinely enjoy watching Deep Rising to this day, regardless of the dirty looks I get for it.

Sidenote: Jerry Goldsmith’s soundtrack for Deep Rising is pretty fucking good.  If you get a chance, give it a listen.  His work on Leviathan also did a lot to add an element of class to the film.

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

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