Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

And Now, Zero Expressing His Anger Through Crappy Voice Acting.

Yeeeeeaaah….. That really stunk.

Seriously, I could’ve done better than that.

Anyway, I think it’s funny that ever since Mega Man X came out, Zero has always seemed like one of the more popular characters in the franchise.

The clip above notwithstanding, it’s easy to see why.

He has a flashy and unique design, his theme music was bad ass, and his first appearance in the series involves him saving your ass from Vile, a character who was impossible to beat at that point in the game.

Add in the fact that in later entries in the series he is given a beam saber, and you have the template for a bad ass supporting character more than capable of eclipsing the popularity of the rather vanilla protagonist.

Pictured: Someone who just creamed his pants upon reading the words "beam saber."

In many ways, I think of Zero as the equivalent to Trunks from Dragonball Z.

For whatever fuckin’ reason, back in elementary and middle school, Trunks was the bees knees.

You remember those holographic Dragonball stickers all the kids pasted on their binders?

Well, pretty much all the kids I went to school with that had them, went to great lengths to hoard the Trunks ones.

Remember these? I think I still have a few pasted on my bed frame...

While I admit that Trunks’ design is pretty slick, what with the Capsule jacket, purple hair and (useless) sword, at the end of the day I was always confused with my friend’s appreciation for the character.

Taking into consideration his actual role in the series as opposed to his appearance, I always saw Trunks as being kind of dumb.

Like Zero, he had one of the more bad ass debuts in fiction, however from that point on his abilities are quickly overshadowed by everyone around him, and when he finally does catch up, he’s too dumb to use his powers responsibly.

Pictured: When juicing goes too far.

Indeed, I fail to see the beauty of Trunks’ soul.

That being said, while I happen to like Zero quite a bit, he’s never really been one of my favorites in the series.

Mega Man X4 marked the first time in series history that players were given the option to play through the entire game playing as Zero, and perhaps not surprisingly, his storyline was quite a bit more involved that X’s.

I guess that’s to be expected when you’re dealing with a character like X who has virtually no personality outside of his belief that “Humans = Good, Bad Robots = Bad.”

Over the course of several (poorly) animated cutscenes, it was revealed/hinted that Zero was not only originally a savage and villainous Reploid, he was also responsible for EVERY BAD THING THAT EVER HAPPENED.

ALL HIS FAULT!!!

While I think it’s cool that they made him the bridge between the original Mega Man and the X series, in the form of making him a product of the late Dr. Wily and progenitor of the Maverick virus; at the same time I think it’s this aspect of his story that kind of ruins him.

As with Trunks, I like Zero’s design, and I like his character, but when one factors in all the stupid shit he’s done throughout the series, it’s kind of hard to hold the same level of appreciation for him.

That being said, congratulations Mega Man X4, not only did you plant the seeds for making Zero look like an asshole, you also fucked him over by casting his role with an English voice actor from Mega Man 8.

And we all know how bad those guys were….

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The Top 10 Videogame Songs, #4


Wow, hard to believe we’ve actually gone 3 days on our list of the Top 10 Videogame Songs without mention of a Mega Man song.

That being said, today we reach #4 on our list, which takes us to that most awesome of Mega Man spin-offs, the Mega Man X series:

#4. Mega Man X4 – Makenai Ai ga Kitto Aru

Mega Man X4 was the first of the series to debut on the (at the time) next generation console, Sony’s Playstation.

While Mega Man X3 pushed the Super NES to it’s limits by throwing in a host of features, both notable and forgettable; X4 was a far more straightforward production, albeit one with sensational animation and sound.

Yes, that is in fact a giant walrus robot with fists as big as a Ski-doo.

While my initial reaction to X4 was actually kind of lukewarm when it first came out, it’s since grown on me and easily ranks as one of my top 3 in the series.

I suppose that’s not quite as big a deal as it sounds, given that the first 4 games out of a total of 8 are just about the only ones worth playing.

Seriously man, if ever there was a game series that lost it’s way in it’s second half, Mega Man X would have to be it.

Define "Lame": An onion robot with wind powers.

Mega Man rant aside, the song of the day, namely “Makenai Ai ga Kitto Aru” AKA “Unbeatable Love I Surely Have,” is one that I was sadly never fortunate to have experienced in-game.

Only featured in the Japanese version of the game, my initial exposure to “Makenai Ai ga Kitto Aru” came via the, then brand spankin’ new client download service, Morpheus.

I was in middle school, with access to a 56k modem, so you better believe I spent hours downloading Mega Man midi files and mp3s that I would later struggle to find programs to play them with.

In searching for “Rock Man” in Morpheus, I ran across a file with a series of squares for a name, which I would later find out was “Makenai Ai ga Kitto Aru.”

Given that it’s ranked #4 on this list, I’d say it goes without saying that I really like this song.

It’s been in my music library since 1997, and to date I haven’t gotten tired of it.

Sung by Yukie Nakama, the song has a rare combination of Jpop-y “uppity-ness” and sincerity that make it noteworthy in an typically soulless genre of music.

The instrumentation in particular is quite inspired, as some of the synthesized guitar work is exceptionally potent, lending a lot to the strength of Nakama’s beautiful vocals.

As great as the song is, it’s interesting to note that, after having finally heard it used in Mega Man X4, I honestly don’t think it fits all that well.

Take a look:

Great song, poor usage.

Anyway, that was #4, check back tomorrow as we crack the Top 3 of the Top 10 Videogame Songs!

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The Top 10 Videogame Songs, #7


As indicated by the Best MAN article lovingly tucked away on this blog, it should come as no surprise that I’m a big fan of the Mega-est of Mega Men; Mega Man.

With the exception of some of the more obscure games in the franchise, namely that of Wily and Light’s Rock Board: That’s Paradise and the EXE and Star Force series; I’ve played and enjoyed the vast majority of Mega Man’s games.

Pictured: Monopoly, Mega Man-style.

A funny thing about Mega Man, is the fact that many of the spin-offs to the linear series are actually some of the better games in the entire franchise.

In example, the Mega Man X series is probably my favorite in the entire Mega Man continuity.

In terms of both art design and gameplay mechanics, I’ve always felt that the X series was a logical and welcome progression to the Mega Man games of old; such that I’ve actually found it somewhat difficult to go back to the basic “run and jump” style of the older games.

I like my dash, thank you...

On that note, today our list of the Top 10 Videogame Songs takes us to a Mega Man series that represents a rare instance in videogames, that of the spin-off of a spin-off.

Said series is of course the uber-difficult but oh so rewarding Mega Man Zero series:

#7. Mega Man Zero 2 – Clover

Mega Man Zero 2 is probably my favorite entry in the Zero series, largely on the grounds that it’s gameplay, story, and features seemed the most cohesive and streamlined out of all of the games.

Taking place far in the future beyond the one depicted in the X series, Zero casts the player as the titular character of the same name that was introduced in the prior series.

The core gameplay between these 2 series wasn’t all that different, however Zero went the extra step of granting the player a number of new weapons and abilities, as well as a complex and customizable upgrade system.

As mentioned previously, the Zero series also went out of it’s way to significantly up the difficulty level, occasionally to obscene levels; but largely for the better.

The real star of the show of the Zero series, at least in my book; was the artistic design:

TALENT.

In terms of outstanding art design, there are few game series that can measure up to the Zero series in terms of creativity and colorfulness, as well as outright beauty.

I bought the Mega Man Zero art collection pretty much as soon as it became available, and to date it’s probably the most flipped through art book on my shelf.

While the visuals of Mega Man Zero were indeed a key selling point for me, I was surprised to find that, upon first picking up the series; the music was also quite good despite being played through a Gameboy Advance speaker.

On that note, “Clover” is kind of unique on this list, as it represents a song that actually is only featured in-game in an instrumental form, yet is included on the Mega Man Zero 2 soundtrack as an actual song.

While some would argue that this should disqualify the song for inclusion on this list, I stand by my decision on the grounds that it’s a awesome fucking song, and probably shouldn’t have been in the game given that it was featured in a Gameboy Advance game and likely would have sounded like shit being played through it’s tinny-ass speakers.

That being said, as was the case with “God Hand,” part of the overall appeal of “Clover” spawns not just from it’s quality as a song; but from the fact that it took some serious time and effort to gain access to.

The instrumental version of “Clover,” titled “Awakening Will,” serves as the ending theme of Mega Man Zero 2, and for my money; I think it was worth the effort:

As I made my way through the Mega Man Zero series, I made it a point to sit down and listen to the official soundtracks of each game in sequence, and I’ll never forget the time when I first had “Clover” play through my headphones.

Sure, there’s better pop songs out there, but much like “God Hand,” part of the appeal of “Clover” to me is the fact that I actually remember most of the lyrics.

As someone who still slips up on lyrics from “Eye of the Tiger,” despite having heard it 6 BILLION TIMES, I think it goes without saying that learning songs is not one of my strong suits.

I haven’t heard “Clover” all that many times, and yet for some reason the lyrics come quite naturally to me… Despite being sung in Japanese.

If that’s not an indication of a well written/catchy song, I don’t know what is.

Anyway, that was #7 on our list of the Top 10 Videogame Songs, check back tomorrow for more!

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Batman: Arkham Asylum Is Good. Like, Really Good.

So, Arkham Asylum is a good game.

Like, really good.

Last night I parked my butt in front of the TV for a good solid 4 hours straight playing it, and by golly, I enjoyed every minute of it.

4 hours might not sound like a helluva’ long time to some of the more hardcore gamers out there, so allow me to elaborate.

These days I’m what is commonly referred to as a “casual gamer.”

Pictured: The Exact Opposite of A "Casual Gamer."

Not only that, I have this weird personal issue where after about an hour or so of playing videogames, I start to feel anxious; like I need to get up and do something else RIGHT NOW.

More often than not, I tend to prioritize activities like working out, going to bed early, or writing this fucking blog, over playing videogames.

In the case of my maiden voyage on Batman: Arkham Asylum last night though, this was not the case.

Near as I can tell, the game’s greatest success, is the constant feeling of progress and accomplishment that the game imparts to it’s player.

Last night I mentioned how I really don’t care much for Metroid-style games.

Like many non-Metroid fans, my biggest objection to the structure of those games, is not the fault of the designers, but rather my own stupidity.

Thought I’ve always said that Zelda games made me feel dumb as a kid, Metroid games made me feel downright “special.”

Like, helmet “special.”

Stone Cold demonstrating the image crippling power of The Retard Helmet.

Something about the layout of the map, and how the player was expected to wade their way through shit storms of enemies and hazards without knowing where to go, just never did it for me.

Though I’ve heard Arkham Asylum referred to as a Metroid-Vania style game, (a description which is fairly accurate) the experience is nowhere near as lonesome, nor the map layout as cryptic as either of those games.

Trust me, having Oracle on staff to order you around via radio every now and again is a godsend for exploration newbs such as myself.

Well hello there madam. Feel free to call me on my Bat Phone anytime you like...

In short, it’s similar to a Metroid-Vania game, but with a more structured and objective based progression.

Which is a good thing, seeing as I can think of no dumber element to a Batman game than having the player get lost.

Think about it, would the fuckin’ Batman ever get lost, much less at Arkham?

Pictured: Batman upon realizing he is in fact, a retard.

Batman is a man on top of shit in any situation, so I feel it is a wise decision on the part of the developers to have made the game’s structure reflect this.

Aside from the strength of the layout of the game, I feel that the games 240 or so collectibles really add a lot to making the player feel like their making some headway into the game, even in it’s early stages.

While part of me wants to say that, like Mega Man X3, there are in fact too many hidden items in the game, to the point in which you literally can’t turn a corner without accidentally bumping into something useful, thus far I think I actually like this element of Arkham Asylum.

It is kind of silly, walking into a room and finding Riddler trophies n’shit strewn about; but in a game with a map as large as this, any form of progress, no matter how minute, goes a long way towards making neurotic players like myself feel like they know what their doing.

Near as I can tell, this is Batman’s greatest success:

Spoon-feeding the player little rewards throughout the entire game so as to effectively stamp out the possibility of frustration.

It’s an incredibly elementary approach to game design, but it’s working for me so far.

As of writing this, I have had firsthand encounters with 2 major supervillains of Batman’s rogue’s gallery:

The Scarecrow, and Bane.

The developers take on Scarecrow was mighty impressive.

Both the level design and his costume for his sequence reflect a definite Freddy Krueger-esque sensibility, but given the seedier nature of Arkham Asylum’s art design, I feel it works very well.

Ninja + Freddy Krueger + Batman Begins Scarecrow + Psycho Mantis = Arkham Asylum Scarecrow.

From a gameplay standpoint, I found this “boss fight” (wasn’t really a fight…) to be quite entertaining.

Shifting the game into 2-D sidescrolling mode so as to allow for more streamlined movement and coordination really worked, and I applaud the efforts of the developers.

Bane, on the other hand, was a fun battle on a visceral level, however the comic fan inside me was kind of miffed by his brutish persona.

Bane as envisioned by the marketing department of the UFC...

As a kid that grew up reading Knightfall, Bane has a special place in my heart as one of my favorite Batman villains, and yet every time he’s used in media other than the comics, his character is grossly misinterpreted.

Um... No. Just, no...

Bane isn’t a massive brute or meathead, he’s a cunning and wily villain that could be called Batman’s equal on almost every level.

Oh well, my inner-comic dork’s objections aside, I’m happy that Arkham Asylum took a few seconds to at least explain why Bane suddenly went retard, not to mention Hulk-ed out beyond the realm of believability.

Essentially, Bane serves as key element to the game’s plot, not as a mastermind, or even hired hand; but as an instrument forcibly implemented by the combined will’s of The Joker and a mysterious Dr. Young.

From what I know at the 4 hour mark, the plot involves Joker using Dr. Young to extract and deconstruct the Venom Derivative from Bane, which they then mutate and enhance to create a more powerful Titan Formula which causes people to Hulk Out.

Basically, Joker plans to use the Titan Formula to create an army of Hulk-ed Out thugs to let loose on Gotham.

It’s kind of stupid, in a Silver Age comic-y sort of way, but the real experience of a game is playing it, and the minute to minute experience of Arkham Asylum thus far goes a long way towards making up for a slightly retarded plot.

Anyway, I’ve said about as much as I feel I can about Arkham Asylum for now.

I will say this though:

The combat system is a little simplistic for my Devil May Cry trained thumbs, but it’s rewarding in a “look what I just did with 2 buttons!” sort of way.

Now excuse me, I’m gonna’ go beat the shit out of some more Bat-Villains…

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The Best MAN!!! #5

After the hootenanny of character design awesomeness that was Mega Man 4, most of us were left thinking, “what the fuck kind of crazy awesomeness can the guys over at Capcom possibly follow this up with?”

The answer, unfortunately, was about 2 thirds crazy, and 1 third awesome.

Ladies and gentleman, it’s time to tangle with the odd bird that is Mega Man 5.

Really diggin' the Mega Man stiff arm.

Mega Man 5 is a really fuckin’ weird game.

The story was some hackneyed bullshit wherein Proto Man was set-up as the main villain, only to have it revealed later that he is in fact innocent, and, guess what, Dr. Wily was the actual mastermind.

THAT EVIL MOTHER FUCKER!!!

In terms of graphics and sound, it was a significant step up from it’s predecessors, and even the gameplay was pretty solid as well.

Yep, they actually gave those little Met fuckers jet packs and space helmets...

It was the design of the game that hurt it.

For the first time in Mega Man history, the player was faced with issue that there were one too many features.

While Mega Man 5 was far from innovative, in fact it was one of the more “phoned-in” games in the series, what little it added was the straw that broke the camels back, the last block pulled from the Jenga tower.

That's right, Jenga mother fuckers!

Some of the (few) features that Mega Man 5 brought to the table were more intricate level designs, a new weapon called the Super Arrow, and Beat, the fighting bird that could be earned after collecting letters in all 8 of the robot master stages to form the phrase “M-E-G-A-M-A-N-V.”

Fuckin' worthless-ass turd burglar...

By the way, despite the level of dedication required to activate Beat, he’s pretty much useless.

He’s like the equivalent of using Zero for 1 third of a stage in Mega Man X3.

The best thing Zero did in X3 was get his ass kicked for me so I could jack his beam saber.

Oh you know you gonna' gimme' 'dat shit son...

For real man, Zero is like the Trunks of the Mega Man X series.

Everybody and their mother thinks he’s the bees knees, suckin’ his cock left and right, but if ever you ask them “why?” they can’t come with anything close to an answer.

Know why he smilin'? 'Cause you suckin' his dick, that's why.

It’s gotta’ be the hair or some shit, I swear…

Anyway, bullshit tangents aside, like I said, while it wasn’t a horrible game by any means, Mega Man 5  was kind of a lazy effort by Capcom, and was also the first in the series to begin to feel over-saturated.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that the character designs were some of the weirdest in series history up until the fuck-sandwich that is Sheep Man?

Yet another reason as to why I haven't played Mega Man 9 or 10...

Good thing “weird” doesn’t necessarily mean “bad,” (it does when you’re talking about sack-donkeys like Sheep Man) ’cause it’s about time we got down to deciding who’s The Best MAN!

Well, among the side-show freaks and fuck-tards that are the cast of Mega Man 5, The Best MAN would have to be…

Gyro Man

GYRRRROOOOOOOOOOOO MAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNN!!!!!

Like Mega Man 3, this one was a toughy.

Unlike that game however, I had no real attachment to any of the robot masters in Mega Man 5.

I mean shit, look at ’em:

TRAIN DUDE!!? MISSILE FACE!? PEARL MAN!!? WTF!!!!!????

Mega Man 5’s cast of robot masters was unique, I’ll give it that.

Even as a kid, I seriously didn’t think they’d actually make a “Star Man,” but hey, I’m not a videogame designer, what do I know…

The real difficulty in choosing who was The Best MAN in Mega Man 5 sprung from 1 simple personal debate:

Crystal Man or Gyro Man?

Really, that’s all it came down to, but I have to admit it gave me some issues.

Pretty much every other robot master in the game is ass-faced failure, to the point in which I was left with only 2 guys I really had any sort of appreciation for.

You wanna’ know how I made my decision?

Well, I started, of course, by looking at their designs.

I liked both, but to be honest I felt I liked Crystal Man just a little bit more.

Sexy...

Something about his color scheme and strong body shape just “did it” for me.

Next, I moved on to their stage music.

Gyro Man:

Crystal Man:

No contest here.

Point, Gyro Man.

Normally I’d insert a comment here about who was the tougher challenge, but seeing as both guys were pussies, I’m left with nothing more to say other than, well, they were pussies.

"Who, me?"

The final deciding factor ended up being my (fragmented) memories of that goddamn Mega Man cartoon.

While Gyro Man’s appearance in the show WAS RETARDED AS FUCK, at least it wasn’t as bad as Crystal Man’s.

If I remember correctly, Crystal Man fought Mega Man on the moon, got his chest bulb shot out, and generally just got shat on for the entire half hour.

What the fuck is up with American redesigns of Japanese shiieeet!!!??

Gyro Man at least got to wear a wig and pretend to be in a shitty 90’s rock band with Gemini Man and Spark Man

Lookit' them pointy shoulders... That's how you know it's the early 90's.

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A Salute To Time Crisis: Part IV

It's time to end it...

We’ve reached the end of my long reminiscence on the rail shooter series that is Time Crisis.

To wrap things up, I figured I would take a moment to talk a little bit about the Time Crisis games that I haven’t played.

Released in arcades in 1999, Crisis Zone was the first spin-off of the Time Crisis series, and the first that I would never play.

The game borrowed the duck and shoot mechanic of Time Crisis in the form of a riot shield that the player character wields throughout the game.

Not quite as fun as landing a riot shield kill in Modern Warfare, but oh well...

In addition to this, instead of the standard issue handgun of most rail shooters, the player was, at all times, armed with a submachine gun.

Remember when I said machine guns make for dumb rail shooters?

Well, that’s pretty much the reason I had so little interest in Crisis Zone despite the “Crisis” name.

My feelings on the subject would carry on years down the road, well past the 2004 console release of Crisis Zone on the PS2.

Nearly 5 years after the console release of Time Crisis 1, Namco saw fit to make a Playstation exclusive entry in the series called Time Crisis: Project Titan.

As an owner of both Point Blank and Time Crisis, as well as 2 Guncons, I remember being curious about Project Titan, however I never actually played the game.

Point Blank: Best Character Designs EVER.

I remember reading a review of Project Titan in my Playstation Magazine, (PSM) wherein the editor saw fit to give the game a solid, but otherwise unremarkable score.

This was back when the writing staff was still cool by the way.

The release of Project Titan was marred by horribly outdated graphics for it’s time, a lack of new features, and the impending release of the infinitely superior Time Crisis 2 on the PS2 within the same year.

For the last fucking time, "NO ONE CAN BEAT THEM."

A minor plus to the game came in the form of several major characters from Time Crisis 1 making an appearance; namely Richard Miller as the player character, and Kantaris and Wild Dog as the game’s antagonists.

Sorry Dog, can't come out to play this weekend...

That’s right, not even an appearance by Wild Dog could get me to play Project Titan.

In essence, from what I’ve seen and read, Project Titan tried hard with what it had, but came up short in just about every area possible.

I like how I stumbled across this pic by searching for "small penis." That made my day.

Released in arcades in 2006, Time Crisis 4 is the most recent “proper” entry in the Time Crisis series.

I have seen the game available for play at Seattle Gameworks, and while I was somewhat impressed by the game’s graphical fidelity, I was also miffed by a few minor details.

Minor in most people’s eyes anyway.

In short, I was both flabbergasted and appalled by two aspects of Time Crisis 4’s design:

The character designs, and the addition of swarms of creatures called “Terror Bites.”

Honestly, I don’t what kind of Final Fantasy bullshit Namco was trying to pull with this game, but the character designs are utterly ridiculous.

Take a look:

Wow. Just, "wow."

These designs are what you call, “flash for the sake of flash.”

The clothing and hairstyles of the two guys on either side are outlandishly over-the-top, and the dude in the middle’s white man dreads are just plain scary.

Ever since Final Fantasy X (which I have not played, and have no desire to do so), I’ve always bashed the series’ character designs as being too “fashion magazine” like for their own good.

Of course time marches on and... Okay then, I guess nothing's changed after all.

That’s Final Fantasy though, it’s fantasy, it’s supposed to be gaudy.

We’re talkin’ about fuckin’ Time Crisis!

Look at some of the designs from the old game.

Richard Miller, bomber jacket + blue jeans = Hero.

Sometimes simple is better.

Part of what always separated the Time Crisis series from many other light gun franchises, was the fact that your enemies were always human.

Sure, there were always mechanical bosses to deal with from time to time, and the 3rd game put a huge emphasis on putting you up against all sorts of vehicles and what not, but never was there a time in which you were fighting bugs or animals.

Pictured: Time Crisis 4

To make matters worse, from what I saw in the arcade attract demo, the Terror Bites attack in swarms, which is also a big no-no in a Time Crisis game.

Time Crisis games never swarm the player with enemies, in fact most of the time the enemy count on screen at any given moment is relatively low for a light gun game.

In Time Crisis 1 and 2, the difficulty stemmed from clever enemy placement and the requirement of great accuracy and speed on the part of the player.

Enemies rarely scored hits by overwhelming you, and they never swarmed you or otherwise forced you to spray and pray.

Personally, I felt these two additions to the gameplay structure of Time Crisis 4 have served to potentially send the series down an ugly road.

Yeah, pretty sure you'd find this place on "ugly road."

It doesn’t look horrible, and I still want to play it, however I’m in no hurry and will gladly wait until the price per play at the arcade goes down a bit.

We went over this before, I’m Azn and therefore cheap.

Time Crisis is a wonderful game series, and potentially the best of it’s kind.

I tip my hat to the folks over at Namco for enriching my childhood, adolescence, and teenage years with memories of playing the first 3 Time Crisis games early in the morning on Christmas day.

Huh, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before, but Time Crisis was my favorite Christmas gift, 3 different times.

"3!? That's impossible, even for a computer!"

So no matter how critical I may get of the later entries in the series, when I say I’m a lifelong fan of the series, you know I’m not bullshitting you.

Anyway, I think that’s all I’ve got to say about Time Crisis for awhile.

Thanks for reading, and if you haven’t played a Time Crisis game in the arcade before, maybe now you’ll consider giving it a spin next time you’re out and about!

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The Best Track in the Game #1: Mega Man X

You don't wanna' see what I'm doing with my other hand...

Megaman X.  Few games have had as huge an impact on my life than Megaman X.

Growing up, I was a Megaman/Capcom nut.  I remember way back in the day, my barber (yeah, I don’t know why either) gave me and my brother an issue of Nintendo Power with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the cover:

Back when men were men... and turtles were not yet made of rubber

Yeah, that’s the one.

Anyway, somewhere in there was a sneak peak at Megaman 2 with a fold out poster featuring all 8 of the robot masters, plus Guts Dozer, The Mecha Dragon, and the schmuck Dr. Wily.

From the first time I saw this poster, I was hooked.

I remember running over to my mom and showing her all the characters, and telling her in impossibly adorable child-speak:

“This guy, his name’s Bubble Man!  He has bubble powers!  He shoots, um… He shoots bubbles!”

Eventually, I got my mom to make me a Bubble Man helmet out of cardboard…  and a Crash Man helmet for one of the neighbor kids… and a Quick Man helmet that I told her was for one of my friends that I ended up keeping for myself.

Yeah, back then Bubble Man was my favorite boss from Megaman 2.  My brother used to give me shit about it.  He would say:

“Bubble Man’s fat.  No wonder you like him, fatty.”

So fat...

Well, can’t say my brother was ever wrong about him being fat.  At least he’s not a pussy like Metal Man AKA THE FIRST FUCKING GUY EVERYONE KILLS.

FIRST. FUCKING. GUY.

Anyway, back to Megaman X!

Wall climbing.  Dashing.  Wall Dashing.  Throwing a Hadouken.  These were just a few of the amazing innovations that Megaman X brought to the Megaman franchise.Most critical among these was the Dash, which, coupled with the ability to hug walls to slow your descent, made for precision gameplay far faster and more forgiving than the classic Megaman series has ever been.

In gaining a beam saber, he lost his cock. Tragic...

True the franchise has never been very hard, (except for the utterly craptacular Megaman X6) and I see how that could be a problem for all the Contra kids out there, but the level length, number of secrets, and plethora of colorfully animated boss characters throughout most of the games has always struck me as being among the best in gaming.

Okay, maybe X3 had too many secrets, (most of the time you found at least half of the stuff by accident) and X2’s difficulty was sinfully weak, but few people can argue that the original Megaman X was pretty much on the mark in every area.

But that says nothing for the quality of the music.

Picking a best track from Megaman X is no easy task.  When you first boot up the game, you are treated to a provocative and well-executed diagnostic sequence, followed by one of the most awesome title screen tracks EVER.


Right from the get go, best title track EVER.

And it just keeps getting better from there.

The intro stage (an innovation to the Megaman franchise first seen here) tune is exhilarating and skillfully layered.  In fact one of the most remarkable things about this soundtrack, to me at least, is the fact that it succeeded in making me feel like there was some level of importance to my actions.

The track that plays when Zero and X hold their conversations establishes a sense of brotherhood between the two characters that does a lot to add to the gravity of the conflict at hand (especially when you consider the events that precede the two instances when this track is heard in the game.)

In picking a favorite track from this game though, my objective is to select the one that is not only the most enjoyable to listen to, but the one that “means” the most to me as a whole.

Being one that plays Megaman games more often than he beats them, I tend to spend most of my time playing through the pre-castle, robot master stages.  That being said it’s natural for me to pick one of the robot master stage tracks as The Best Track in the Game for Megaman X.

Without further ado,

The Best Track in the Game is…

Armored Armadillo Stage

Why?:

The music is fast, energetic, and has a significantly longer running time than many of the other robot master themes. (I’m looking at you Storm Eagle and Sting Chameleon…) Not only that, but Armored Armadillo’s stage is potentially the most fun to play through, featuring a number of unique enemies (the “jet birds” at the end, and the tunnel digging bug-machines) and gameplay mechanics (the spiked mine cart rides).  In general, Armored Armadillo’s stage seems to have more “love” put into it than the others, and is therefore, simply more fun to play.

In addition to this, Armored Armadillo’s stage is undoubtedly the one that most people have played through the most.

No, not because it’s so damn fun, (even though it is) but because it’s the only way to get the Hadouken capsule!

Assuming you don’t suck, and don’t have to continue through any of the robot master stages, one will end up playing Armored Armadillo’s stage 5 times as much as any of the other levels in the game!  I can’t prove it, but something tells me Capcom made the conscious decision to step up their game in designing Armored Armadillo’s stage in order to prevent people from getting pissy over having to play through the stage an extra 4 times (potentially more, again, if you suck) to get a cheesy fireball upgrade.

In this is case, it worked, ’cause I have never once balked at the idea of playing through the game without getting the Hadouken.

Runner-Ups:

Storm Eagle Stage, Title Theme

Why?:


Storm Eagle’s theme has a solid reputation for being the favorite among most gamers.

It’s short, it’s sweet, it has a sort of Top Gun-ish heavy guitar feel to it, in short, it’s fucking awesome and it goes with the airport setting very well.

Storm Eagle’s theme was my favorite as a kid, and remained so until fairly recently.

As I mentioned previously, I think Armored Armadillo’s theme is great partially because it was shoved down my throat so many times over the years.  In that sense I think it’s fair to say that I enjoy both tracks pretty much equally, however one has recently begun to occupy a larger place in my memory than the other.

In regards to the Title Theme, listen to it!

It’s fucking awesome!

Even without the awesome metallic *SHING* noise when the “X” flashes into place, it’s still fucking awesome!

How could you not get crazy hyped up after hearing this for the first time!?

I know I did at least until one of the little purple flying dudes with the red nose bumped me in mid-air and knocked me into a pit not 2 minutes into my first life.  Little fucker, has the nerve to blink his eyes and bob his nose in celebration every time he hits you too…

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

Long time no see Ultraman

I miss Ultraman.

Ultraman has been absent from the airwaves since 2007, replaced by the Pokémon-esque, Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle… and the follow-up series, Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle: Never Ending Odyssey.

While Galaxy is a decent enough show, with a fun concept and plenty of kaiju battles, the acting and production values feel decidedly below average for an Ultra series. This, coupled with a distinct lack of Ultraman blowing the shit out of monsters has led me to give up on Galaxy for the most part.

Let me put things into perspective for you:

I grew up watching Ultraman.

Not only that, the first show I ever watched was the outsourced, Australian iteration, Ultraman Towards the Future, which is universally regarded as one of the worst Ultra series of all time, second only to the American Ultraman Powered.

Despite this, as a child I loved it! I remember waking up at obscene hours of the morning to to catch one of the 13 episodes every weekend, (kind of like how we all used to watch the same 2 or 3 Ren & Stimpy episodes every weekend) and loving every minute of it. To this day, I still have some of the action figures, the playset, and even the terrible Super NES game.

Whatever, this stuff was the shit when I was 5.

As a child Ultraman died to me the day he started airing at 5 AM on TNT.

I remember getting psyched after seeing a commercial for Ultraseven, where a giant ape man shot blue lasers out of his eyes, and Ultraseven struck a pose and yelled: “YAH! YAH! YAH! YAHHH!!!!”

With Ultraman Towards the Future still fresh in my mind, I tried to wake up to see Ultraseven at 5 in the fucking morning.

No simple task for a 6 year old with no alarm clock.

Naturally, I never got to see Ultraseven.

For about a month straight, I remember getting out of bed, running out into the living room and flipping on the TV, only to find that Ultraseven was not on.

A few times I remember seeing some scary shit on in that time slot, I remember some movie about creepy old Native American ladies with bleeding eyes scared me back to sleep one time.

Knowing me, I probably just mixed up the time slot for the show, but unfortunately I never got to see that awesome commercial again, so I never found out.

Haha! Yeah, that's the one!

Following this, I abandoned my love for Ultraman for a very long time.

I remember Ultraman Tiga aired on Fox Kids when I was in middle school. Unfortunately, I was 12, and was thusly too “cool” for Ultraman. Guess I was too busy failing at swearing (“Shit balls! Damn, fuck-sauce!”) and being fat to care about Ultraman.

Then a funny thing happened.

Flash forward to 2005: I’m in college. I’m bored. I’m finally getting old enough to the point where looking back on life holds meaning. I’m finally old enough to admit that I miss Ultraman.

So what do I do?

I learn about this new fangled invention called “torrenting” and type in “Ultraman” as my first query.

Much like my experiences in the 90’s with the Heisei Godzilla series, I was very much surprised to find that Ultraman had carried on just fine without me.

Ultraman Max served as my ambassador back into the world of Ultraman. Max was good fun. Every episode was colorfully executed with obvious enthusiasm. The cast was smaller than most Ultra shows, but in many ways I feel that was its strength. Every character was well defined and seemed to serve some purpose, even that haole guy, Sean.

One of these things is different...

I loved how schizophrenic the show could be at times.

Directors and storylines rarely lasted more than 1 or 2 episodes, resulting in a show that changed identities and mood from week to week, and quite successfully at that.

I remember being genuinely impressed by both of Takashi Miike’s episodes: “Miracle of the Third Planet” and “Who am I?”, the former being one of the most dramatic episodes in the series, and the latter being the funniest.

Most impressive to me is the fact that I don’t even like Takashi Miike, I’ve always thought of him as being seriously overrated.

I never finished Max, but it remains one of the my favorite series.

Unlike this 'merch hawking whore...

After I was done with Max, I took a step back and decided to watch the much heralded Ultraman Nexus from the previous year.

Nexus was a revelation. It did all the things Ultra series don’t do.

It worked from a single continuous storyline.

It was consistently serious in tone.

It had monsters that took entire story arcs to defeat.

It had a budget and was spectacular from beginning to end.

Nexus represented a great experiment in trying to tweak the format of the Ultraman series. From what I’ve heard, it’s deviation from the status quo caused it to lose a lot of fans, but for an older, wiser Azn Badger, it was just what the doctor ordered.

Good God, someone get that child away from there!

Around this time I started following the Ultra movie series with the release of Ultraman: The Next.

It was pretty good, with exceptional effects work, great suit designs, and a killer soundtrack by the lead guitarist of B’Z, Tak Matsumoto.

There was some hokiness to it in the form of lame homages to the Top Gun anthem on the soundtrack, and an oddly placed freeze frame moment, (“MAKI!!!!!!) but for the most part it was a good time.

Oh yeah, and it tied into Nexus, so yeah, brownie points there.

Skip to 5:08 for “MAKI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Ultraman Moebius (yes I know the Japanese phonetics have it as “Mebius“, but fuck that noise) represented another falling out between Ultraman and I.

I don’t know if it’s because I got too old, or was fatigued from all of the Sentai and Kamen Rider I was watching at the time, (Den-Ou! WOOT!) but something just didn’t click for me.

I remember liking the feel of the show, and how it paid homage to the Ultra shows of old through its use of sound effects and intentional use of outdated special effects (even more low tech than usual), but as a whole, the show just kind of felt, well, lame.

The characters were varied and well-defined, but for the most part it just felt like a bunch of airhead pop-stars with an absurd amount of inane high school drama and baggage that somehow tied into finding the methodology necessary to defeat the monster of the week.

Yes, I am aware that I just summarized pretty much every Sentai or Ultraman show ever, but what I mean to say, is that this felt particularly pronounced in the 14 or 15 episodes of Moebius I managed to watch.

You see what you missed out on? Moebius punching Birdon in his chin balls, that's what!

I think part of why I didn’t really care much for Moebius, is that the action felt kind of tame in comparison to Max, Nexus, or even Gaia.

The camera work was typical of an Ultra series, with lots of on-rails camera movement, and lots of zooms to highlight the action, but for the most part the choreography felt less complex and somewhat slow.

Nexus contained some really visceral and intense fight sequences throughout, largely highlighted by the Ultra on Ultra fights with Dark Mephisto and to a lesser extent, Dark Faust.

Max on the other hand, featured choreography with a lot of character to it.  The fighting was conducted at essentially the same pace as in Nexus, but given the quirkiness of the storylines, and the overall light tone of the series, much of the choreography allowed the suit actors to do a lot of pantomime that really added to the fun.

Whoever the suit actor for Max was, I’d like to shake their hand.

Although I would be even more honored to shake this man's hand. No, the guy on the right, dumbass.

Despite my general dissatisfaction with the series, Moebius proved popular enough with the kiddies to have a few movie tie-ins, the first of which being Ultraman Moebius & The Ultra Brothers.

I felt it was actually very good, good enough for me to own without feeling shame.

The second one however, Superior Ultra 8 Brothers, was not so hot. Aside from some splashy effects work, I felt like the story was a little bit too fantastical and far fetched, even for little kids.

Oh yeah, and as good as the effects could be at times, the fight between Moebius and King Gesura was embarrassingly hideous to look at. *Shudder* Gives me the willies just thinking about it…

In short, Ultraman Moebius was alright, probably worth watching for most fans, but not really my favorite. Which leads us to a series that I did finish, but really wish I hadn’t…

Ultraseven X was the last “proper” Ultra series, and in my opinion, it’s spectacularly epic shittiness was most likely the reason we haven’t seen an Ultra series since 2007.

It was a miniseries, it tried to be “edgy” and “different”, and for the most part it sucked a big, fat, Blackanese cock.

When I first saw the production stills for the show, I was mightily impressed by the suit design for the title character… and little else. The characters were bland and needlessly quirky, (tough girl with chocolate addiction, huh?) and the theme song was truly terrible ENGLISH J-Rock song that was as forgettable as it was skippable.

From the first trailer it was clear that the show was attempting to create a mood of sorts, unfortunately the costumes, props, and sets were a far cry from the standard set by GARO (FUCK YEAH!) the year before, and thusly, it came across as a pale imitation.

In case you couldn’t tell, Ultraseven X was a fucking disaster.

For an example of pretty much everything shitty about Ultraseven X, click below:

The action was sparse and uninspired and story was convoluted and full of holes despite the condensed length of the series.

Oh yeah, and the soundtrack, often times a highlight of any tokusatsu or Ultraman experience, was composed of minimalist, electronic turd-fuckery.

To be fair, Ultraseven X could’ve been alright had it been shot as an Ultra Q series and omitted any traces of Ultraseven or kaiju battles in general, but as it so happened I was left with a seriously sour taste in my mouth after watching it and desperately needed something to cleanse my palette.

Unfortunately, it’s been 3 years and my palette has yet to be cleansed.

Until now.

Now THAT'S a poster!

Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend THE MOVIE or….. MMBUGLTHM… for short.

Galaxy Legend THE MOVIE came out on DVD today and I am ready to be wowed. Reviews are positive, tickets sales were exceptional, Ultraman Belial looks like Carnage from Spider-Man, and the trailer looks FUCKING SWEET.


Yeah, don’t forget to change your undies cowboy.

I’m sure it’s not the best movie ever.

I’m sure it’s going to drag at points and have a shitty script.

Despite all this, I am excited for to see this movie because deep down, I want to like it.

I don’t want to be a cynical adult that shamefully picks apart the things he loves, I want an excuse to get back into Ultraman and be that kid waking up at 5 AM all over again.

It’s a wonderful feeling, having something to look forward to.

Outside of a brand new Ultra show featuring one of the original Ultras, (an idea I think would be a lot of fun) I can’t think anything that would make me happier than a rip-roaring, epic Ultra movie.

Here’s to fandom. I’ll let you know how the movie was in a few weeks.

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

Reminiscing About Gaming/A Taste of Things to Come

I am a product of the Sega/Nintendo Console War, more specifically the Nintendo side of the equation. Though I had fun tooling around on the NES, my fondest memories of gaming lay soundly within my after school sessions on the Super NES. Freaking out at the sight of Jason Voorhees slashing through a hedge maze in Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Punching my friend in the shoulder after he screen scroll killed me Battletoads In Battlemaniacs. Getting a sweet revenge kill in Super Bomberman 3 during a heated 4 player match.

Yeah, good times…

I had exactly one friend that owned a Genesis. We had fun taking turns at Vectorman and Sonic Spinball, and we probably beat Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie at least 50 times, but every now and again, I’d catch myself jabbing my buddy over owning an “inferior” console. “Inferior” in terms of consoles back then of course meant the console had fewer buttons and, well, unless you were an only child or came from a divorced household, was the console you didn’t own.

Yeah, there were a lot of spoiled kids at my elementary school.

My brother asked for a Super NES for Christmas in ’91, which he got on the grounds that it was to be considered shared property between he and myself. The fact that my brother CHOSE the Super NES over the Genesis was enough to convince me that I owned the superior product.  Hey, he was my older brother, his opinion meant the world to me.

As an older, wiser Azn Badger, I now know of course that both consoles had their merits. The Super NES may have been technically superior to the Genesis on many fronts (*Ahem!* except maybe BLAST PROCESSING), but both systems had amazing libraries of cross platform and exclusive games. Despite this, even as a child the one major difference I noticed between the two consoles, (besides the Super NES being BETTER!) was in regards to the music.

Genesis music was often composed well, as was the case with Rocket Knight Adventures and any of the Treasure games, but more often than not, the tones would end up sounding up like some sort of synth-electric guitar hybrid that dealt exclusively in fart noises and sounds like:

*Buzz* *Buzz* BUUWAAAAAOOOHHH!!!! *Dink* *Dink *Dink*.

Case in point, from X-Men:

Oh yeah, the Danger Room music was pretty ass too.

Anyway, being as this is my first time blogging, I’ve been trying to think of a way to organize my thoughts and maintain my motivation to write, and in typing this post, I think I got it sorted out. I’m going to post an article at least once a week entitled “The Best Track in the Game”, wherein I will select a game that I own, and determine which music track is somewhere between the most enjoyable and most nostalgic one in said game. I’m thinking about doing Super NES stuff for awhile, but later on I’ll do “special editions” where I switch consoles every now and again. In the meantime, I’ll probably type some more formal articles as they come to me.

Thanks for reading. Happy Thursday!

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

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