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The Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks, #20-16

Well folks, yesterday we covered #25-21 of the Top 25 NES Tracks.

That particular tier of the list was seemingly dominated by Sunsoft games, movie tie-ins, and sports games.

Funny how shit like that works out…

Anyway, today we’re taking our first step up in quality, from the bottom tier of the NES’ best, to the, uh, “slightly-higher-than-the-bottom” tier!

That being said, let’s get down to dah’ music!:

#20. Final Fantasy

“The Prelude”


Haha!  That’s right, SUCK IT fanboys!

Final Fantasy has never really held a special place in my heart.

Neither have RPGs for that matter.

I played the original Final Fantasy as a kid, and simply couldn’t get into it.

Similar to my experiences with the Zelda series, I felt I never knew what to do, or where to go, ultimately resulting in me wandering the landscape for a time, only to run into a pack of imps and get my party of green-as-fuck level 1 heroes ass-fucked into oblivion.

 

 

That's a lot of Imps...

 

To this day, I haven’t played a new Final Fantasy since VIII, and I haven’t truly enjoyed any since VI.

Yeah, VI was the shit…

 

Name another game where you can Suplex a fuckin' Train. I dare you.

 

That being said, my lack of appreciation for the Final Fantasy series is what places “The Prelude,a classic of gaming music history as old as myself; so low on this list.

It’s a beautiful, almost whimsical piece of music, that certainly still endures to this day, but to me; it’s just the title theme of a game I hated as a kid.

Did I mention all the fanboys can suck a big fat Blackanese cock?

 

 

...Or at the very least, a big black dildo.

 

#19. River City Ransom

“Boss Theme”


River City Ransom is AWESOMELY FUCKIN’ BADASS.

Seriously man, the guys over at Technos deserve a fuckin’ Earth Badge for everything they put into The City of River Ransoming, ’cause the whole game is a work of genius.

 

 

Unlike this man, who is sadly, NOT a Real Genius...

 

You take Double FUCKIN’ Dragon, which is already BADASS as is, then throw in some AWESOMELY shitty dialogue and a leveling/shopping system, and you’ve got the AWESOMELY FUCKIN’ BADASS game that is River City Ransom!

 

 

Game writing at it's finest.

 

Excuse me, I think I just came in my pants…

*Ahem!* Anyway, River City Ransom was, and is, an awesome game that I spent hours upon hours playing in my youth.

That being said, though there are many great pieces of memorable music in the game, most notably the standard street brawling theme and the shopping music, I feel that the track that best represents the game, is “The Boss Theme.”

Full of energy and pulse-pounding drama, “The Boss Theme” invokes all of the emotions that a boss theme should.

The only other track that could possibly eclipse it, is the River City Ransom version of the Double Dragon theme, though that loses out by a hair due to the fact that, well, the Double Dragon theme actually sounds a whole lot better in the Double Dragon series than it does here…

#18. Snow Bros.

“Stage 1 Theme”


You knew they were gonna’ pop on the list somewhere, but did you really think the crack covered snow men would rank so low?

When forming this list, I did what I could to check my ego at the door and really try and place these tracks appropriately.

While I love Snow Bros., and all of it’s music, deep down I knew that, musically speaking; it’s far from a work of art.

 

Unlike THIS, which is... Probably the most terrifying thing I've ever laid eyes upon...

 

As mentioned in my Snow Bros. article, the “Stage 1 Theme” is a piece of music that I hummed throughout my childhood, such that my mother still knows the tune to this day.

It’s a wonderfully light piece of cutesy music that has a “rotundness” to it that really goes well with the chubbiness and slow-footed nature of the title characters.

I love the “Stage 1 Theme,” and it pains me to place it at #18, but sadly I simply can’t justify placing it any higher.

*Sniff!* Fuckin’ principles n’shit, makin’ me shit on Snow Bros…

#17. Battletoads

“The Battletoads Theme”


There are few 8-bit era themes as rockin’ and kick-ass as “The Battletoads Theme,” and by golly, I love every note of it.

It was tempting to put the stupid-ass “Pause Screen” music on the list as another joke entry akin to Skate or Die 2, however I managed to restrain myself.

While the Battletoads game is, as indicated in one of my previous articles, far from one of my favorite games; the Battletoads themselves are a different story altogether.

In the early 90’s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were king.

 

 

Gods among men, they were...

 

It doesn’t take a genius to see that the Battletoads, Biker Mice from Mars, Street Sharks and Extreme Dinosaurs were all lame attempts to cash in on their success.

 

Pictured: The Ninja Turtles for the UFC generation...

 

That being said, while very little of it actually came to fruition, the Battletoads were, at one point; in line to get their own cartoon, comic book, and action figures.

Because my brother and I had a subscription to Gamepro (back when it was actually good), we caught word of this very early on, and in fact were treated to a some of the early comics printed in the pages of the magazine.

 

Yeah, something tells me it was a GOOD thing this never got aired...

 

Needless to say, the Battletoads, despite starring in a series of games that were frustratingly difficult, were pushed on me pretty aggressively as a kid.

Whoever was head of the marketing department for the Battletoads deserves a pat on the back, ’cause despite having little to no positive memories of any Battletoads games, the ‘toads still have a place in my heart.

A lot of my love for the Battletoads though, springs from the awesomeness of their theme music, which is why it sits comfortably on this list at #17.

#16. StarTropics

“Dungeon Theme”


StarTropics was and is, a tremendously fun, rewarding, and unique game.

While I never actually beat it, (got close though) I have many fond memories of watching my brother play it day in and day out.

I loved the world map, and how it reminded me of Hawaii.

 

Heh heh, it's funny 'cause it's butt...

 

I loved the goofy noise the submersible made when it dived.

Most of all though, I loved the straightforward nature of the action levels and the “Dungeon Theme” that played over them.

The “Dungeon Theme” was unique in that, while most of environments that the action scenes took place in were scary looking caves, the music was very upbeat.

It had an island, almost calypso feel to it that really got you into the action, while giving everything a colorful and inviting feel to it.

It also did well to set up the drastic change in musical tonality that would occur when the “you’re getting close to the boss” music would transition over it.

Startropics is a game series that I could see myself sitting down and playing through someday.

It’s also a series that I sincerely hope gets a continuation or remake at some point.

Here’s to hoping for a return trip to C-Island someday…

 

 

Mike Jones: Adventurer, Hero, and Banana Holding Buffoon.

 

Thus concludes the slightly-higher-than-bottom tier of the Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks!

Check back tomorrow when we finally start getting to the good stuff in the middle-tier of the list!


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Fire of Conscience: A Fiery Letdown…

Fire of Conscience was supposed to be the Chinese version of Michael Mann’s Heat.

It was supposed be a rollicking cop drama with hardcore shootouts and pyrotechnics in the busy streets of downtown Hong Kong.

It was supposed to be a movie I was willing to wait 3 months to see.

It opened with one of the most unique sequences seen in commercial film, (but not the medium itself, see here) which effectively drew me in and got me psyched for what was to come.

The plot was derivative of many Hong Kong cop dramas, I.E. bad cop and good cop slam into each other, discover brotherhood/parallels between one another, merry mishaps ensue.

That didn’t bother me though, I expected that.

What I didn’t expect was that Fire of Conscience would take my expectations for it and shit all over them.

My first impression came in the form of a trailer I stumbled across:

When I saw this trailer, I saw a movie that promised action, bullshit Chinese melodrama, and at least one instance of a man exploding.

In truth, Fire of Conscience does in fact contain all of these things, however the balance, the amount of screen time and care devoted to each of these elements; is all out of whack.

Well, except for the exploding man thing. I don’t think any movie should be expected to have any more than one of those, no matter how hardcore it is.

PWNED.

The action in Fire of Conscience is not really “action” per se.

In more dramatic films, “action” usually boils down to something more like straight up “violence” or “tension.”

In the case of Fire of Conscience, I came into it expecting ACTION. After all, the trailer proclaimed the film to be an “action powerhouse.”

There’s really only a pair of true ACTION sequences in the film, and while both are fairly impressive on a visceral level, both suffer from irritating use of the “shaky cam” effect we seem to see everywhere these days.

It’s not that the cinematography ruins these scenes, it’s simply that it feels forced, as if the filmmakers are using it as a cheap trick to fool us into buying the tension, into buying the gritty and grim situation the players find themselves in.

Personally, I prefer action that is staged well over action that is manufactured using simple tricks and nonsense.

I will say this though, the pyrotechnics and stunt work in Fire of Conscience were top-notch and certainly deserve praise.

I liked how subtle wire-work was incorporated into many of the explosions in the film, effectively simulating the concussive effect produced by such an event.

Also, it wouldn’t be a Hong Kong movie without people falling off buildings and being thrown through glass.

It's a common new year's custom in Hong Kong to jump through windows as a celebratory gesture.

In fact, I found myself smirking as Richie Jen got put through a windshield during a curiously low-key beat of a fight scene.

It was almost as if the filmmakers were so completely unimpressed by the prospect of putting someone through glass at that point in the film that they didn’t even bother to properly frame the stunt with a camera.

The drama aspect of Fire of Conscience is sufficient to move the story forward, but like the film’s implementation of the “shaky cam” effect, much of it feels inorganic and forced.

In fact in the earlier stages of the film, much of the plot progression is achieved in the form of dropping new characters into our lap.

This results in a film that gives the viewer a feeling of being perpetually missing something in the narrative until it’s later stages.

I found this to be as much provocative as it was confusing.

The film does a pretty good job with giving it’s characters a significant amount of depth, however I feel it often reaches too far, giving us details on 5-6 fairly important characters, when doing the same for 1-2 major ones would’ve been more appropriate.

Fortunately, the film does manage to deliver in terms of fleshing out it’s 2 main characters, although I will say that Richie Jen’s character was criminally underused for the most part.

Despite this, the film embraces pop-star Leon Lai as it’s main character, and often manages to hit all the right notes when it comes time to explore his “detective with a troubled past” backstory, particularly during quieter and more contemplative scenes.

Lai’s acting however, consists of being vacant and gruff while never moving his face.  It’s not all that effective, and is downright creepy at times.

One thing that surprised me about Fire of Conscience, was the fact that it was directed by Dante Lam.

Lam’s career these days seems to be derived from his 1998 film, Beast Cops.

I name dropped this movie during my Epic Donnie Yen Post, and with good reason.  Beast Cops was a great movie that was filled with energy, drama, violence, and a host of colorful characters that we cared about.

In many ways, it is everything Fire of Conscience tries to be.

Dante Lam doesn’t have a perfect track record by any means, *cough!* Sniper and Twins Effect *cough!* however he usually has the chops to piece together entertaining movies with impressive set-pieces and high-points.

Fire of Conscience has no real high-point.

In fact, though it feels childish of me to say this, one of my biggest objections to the film lies in the fact that the scene from the trailer that I was anticipating most amounts to almost nothing.

Did you catch that brief moment when Leon Lai runs through the streets with a big-ass G3-SG1 in hand?

Hey, if it was a cool enough gun for Ice Man, it's cool enough for me.

That was supposed to be the climax of the film.

That was supposed to be the scene in which Dante Lam aped Michael Mann by staging a massive shootout in the streets of Hong Kong ala Heat.

That scene lasts maybe a minute, and only about 3 shots are fired, all semi-auto.

When that scene in the movie came and went, my heart sunk.

There was maybe 20 minutes left in the film, and I already knew there were no more surprises or set-pieces to look forward to.

In my mind I’d like to believe that that scene was cut-down as a result of filming costs in downtown Hong Kong, after all, I have yet to see another film that truly SHUTS DOWN A FUCKING CITY like Heat did, and Hong Kong budgets aren’t exactly up to standards with Hollywood’s.

Fire of Conscience was ruined by my own expectations for it.

It just goes to show you that, the movie on the screen is no match for the movie in your mind.

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

The Best Track in the Game #5: Top Gear

VRROOOOOOOOOOOMMM!!!

TOP.  FUCKING.  GEAR.

To all those that have played Top Gear, those are the only words one needs to say to get their engines going.

I mean, come on!  Look at this brilliant fucking gameplay!:

Well, okay, that was boring as shit, but hey, back in 1992 that was high-fucking tech for a racing game.

As one of the first racing games released for the Super NES, Top Gear has the distinction of being awesome for exactly the same reasons it sucks donkey balls.

At the time of of it’s launch, games in the Super NES library made extensive use of Mode 7.

In case you’re wondering, Mode 7 is that goofy background scrolling effect used to rapidly move the scenery while the foreground sprites remain in place.

Secret of Mana Mode 7. Yes, Secret of Mana was a better game than Top Gear.

Games like F-Zero and Pilotwings relied so much on the creation of Mode 7, that in many ways, they served like retail tech-demos for it.

The only difference between those games and Top Gear however, was the fact that they were good.

Well, that and Top Gear didn’t actually use Mode 7, but give me a break, I felt like talkin’ Mode 7 for a minute.

Anyway, point is:  most Super NES games were good, whereas Top Gear was decidedly not.

Then why is it that Top Gear holds such a special place in my heart?

The first, and for the most part, only time I ever played Top Gear in my youth, was during my days spent over at my cub scout (Den 123, woot!) friend’s house.

This would be the same friend’s house that I used to play Star Fox at.

And no, we didn't look like this. We weren't old enough to have facial hair...

You see, during sleepovers, I had a habit of staying up way later than whoever I was hanging out with.

Basically, whenever my friends would fall asleep, I would set about playing the single-player games in their library.

At my cub scout buddies’ house, said games consisted of Aladdin, Pilotwings, and Star Fox.

Yup, this was me in Pilotwings, only with a lot less "Skydiving", and helluva' lot more "Falling."

When my buddy was awake however, Top Gear was the order of the day.

Part of the fun of Top Gear, at least for me, was the fact that my buddy and I played it, not as a competitive racer, but as a co-operative one.

Like Super Mario Kart, Top Gear utilized a progressive, point-driven tournament system for deciding each players ranking for each of the country/continent based circuits.

Only, without the fun of chucking red shells and bananas at people.

Ooooooh.... You know somebody's about'sta get pwned...

Essentially, coming in first in every race was not a necessity to win the game, so long as the players managed to earn enough points to qualify for the next circuit.

Because of this, my buddy and I would back each other up during every race, bumping CPU drivers off the road and dropping back to concede a first place win in order to keep our point totals in the black.

I remember there was one CPU driver in particular that pissed off my buddy and I.

His name was Richie.

Richie was the CPU driver that would consistently come in first, provided none of the players managed to out-race him.

I always pictured Richie as being some sort of stereotypical blonde Californian asshole, like Ice Man from Top Gun, that one douche in the black SUV in Twister, and, well, let’s just face facts, Richie was Billy Zabka.

Their only weaknesses are: Tornadoes, Kicks to the Face, and Tom Cruise with his shirt off...

Richie was a pain in the ass, but the real source of Top Gear’s difficulty, was definitely the fuel/pit-stop system.

That’s right folks, cars in Top Gear could run out of fuel, and boy I’ll tell yah’, they found a way to make it happen every fuckin’ time.

Eeew.... Wouldn't wanna' get caught in THAT circle jerk...

Pit stops were often times tucked away off the side of the road in such a way so as to make them next to impossible to find.

Or in the case of some people, a little too easy to find.

You see, even though the game offered an onscreen prompt to signal players to the pits, more often than not, players would end up barely missing the turn-off, or barely making it, thusly leaving one in the unsavory position of either being dead on the track, or stuck in the pits at an inopportune time.

The Red Car was lucky enough to make the pits at the RIGHT time. Yeah, I never did that.

I’m pretty sure those bloody pits were the only reason I never beat Top Gear.

From a gameplay standpoint, Top Gear was no Mario Kart.

And that’s saying a lot, seeing as the game was a straightforward racer, with no real complexity to the gameplay outside of the ability to manually shift your car and occasionally use a burst of nitrous oxide for speed boosts.

In fact, probably the deepest part of the gameplay came in the form of picking your car from an assortment of 4.

As a kid, I always played it safe and picked the White Car, ’cause it’s fuel efficiency ensured fewer trips to the dreaded pits.

Nowadays I prefer to pick the Green Car.

That's right, it's fuckin' GREEN! Fuckin' kids, tryin' tuh' tell me it's blue n'shit...

Top Gear’s interface was clunky amid a sea of 90’s clunkiness, with an option screen that required a special touch to properly maneuver, let alone discover.

You press "select" here, just so you know.

Most peculiar was the actual racing interface, as it was perpetually locked in a horizontal split-screen configuration, regardless of the number of players.

During single-player races, the other half of the screen would be occupied by a CPU driver, who, like Richie, would consistently place first unless you beat him to it.

Yup, 'cause that's how I like to play my games. With HALF OF THE FUCKIN' SCREEN devoted to shit that has nothing to do with my car.

Because of the split-screen, slow-down ran rampant throughout Top Gear.

Hell, when going over hills, or through tunnels, the game would chug along at fuckin’ Little Bear speeds.

STILL. FUCKING. SLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW.

Despite these flaws, when I was playing it with my buddy, Top Gear was a no-frills racer that was buckets of fun.

All that business aside, you probably wanna’ know what the music was like in Top Gear, right?

Well, get ready for a shocker, ’cause The Best Track in the Game is…

EVERY. FUCKING. TRACK.

Haha!  Didn’t see that comin’ did’ja?

Top Gear has an awesome fucking soundtrack.

In fact, if you’re not particularly attached to the pants you’re wearing right now, here’s a download for the ENTIRE soundtrack.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you though, Top Gear music has been known to ’cause many a man or woman to splooge their pants.

There’s only a handful of tracks to choose from, but every one of them is awesome in that crazy electronic, sped-up Ace of Base sort of way.

From the Title Theme, to every race BGM that follows it, every track is full of fun and excitement.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that virtually every track in Top Gear is hummable in my book.

Here’s a few standouts, starting with the awesome fuckin’ Title Theme:

Isn’t that just fuckin’ awesome!?
Next up is the “Long” Race Theme:

I call it the “Long” Race Theme because technically none of these tracks have titles, as they are recycled at will throughout the game.
The first time you hear this track is on the San Francisco track, which just happens to be a long ass race, hence, “Long” Race Theme.
Finally, we have the “Night” Race Theme:

It’s technically not used exclusively for night races, but once again, the first time you hear it is in New York, during a night race
Doesn’t it sound remarkably appropriate for a Super NES night race?
Hah, not to spam the Karate Kid references or anything, but I can’t help but draw a comparison between this track and that one song they played during the scene where Johnny and the Cobra Kai show up on the beach riding their dirt bikes.

……Well, now that I’ve heard the whole song, maybe they’re not quite so similar.
But still, that one part, that they used in the movie?  Spot on.

Anyway, that’s Top Gear.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get caught up with my posting tonight so I can get back to making quality posts like this once again!

See yah’ tomorrow folks!

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

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