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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Top 5 Mega Man X Maverick Heat Stage Themes

A few weeks ago, I did a Top 5 on Classic Mega Man Water Stage Themes. So why go over to the darker and edgier X series for heat level? Because the X series has themes that are hotter. I love Solar Man, Fire Man, and Flame Man's themes from the Classic series, but the X heat themes shred all over those. So here's my Top 5 Mega Man X Maverick Heat Stage Themes.

5. Flame Stag Stage - Mega Man X2 (SNES)



Mega Man X2 is certainly more challenging than the first game but I find the original X title to be the more enjoyable of the two. Having said that, I still find X2 to be a solid game. Rushing through Flame Stag's level is always a blast, quickly scaling the outside of the volcano and racing for your life as you try to beat the lava and not get caught in the volcanoes eruption. Flame Stag's theme music fits the quick actions that you'll need to take in order to stay alive here.

4. Magma Dragoon - Mega Man X4 (PS, SAT)



In Mega Man X4, not all of the foes you fight are Mavericks. Some are members of Repliforce. Magma Dragoon, however, is definitely a Maverick, Once a member of the Maverick Hunters, Dragoon wrecked the Sky Lagoon killing tons of innocent people down on the surface all for the chance to fight X and Zero. Dragoon's stage takes you you deep inside a very unsafe volcano. The music of Dragoon's level is extremely intense, matching the harsh eruptions of lava that can damage X and Zero as they make their way through. Dragoon is quite the tough customer so using that Ride Armor to take down as much of his health as you can is highly recommended.

3. Flame Mammoth - Mega Man X (SNES)



Mega Man X is my favorite game in the X series and my second favorite Mega Man game overall. Everything about this baby just oozes with top quality. The stage design is excellent, the new dash mechanic is super fun to use and the soundtrack is phenomenal. In a game filled with so many rocking tunes, Mega Man X still belts out a hardcore fire piece. The main course repeats four times and each repeat has a new variation. Flame Mammoth may be a heat based Maverick but if you defeated Chill Penguin prior to coming to his stage, the entire level will have all of its flame based elements removed. This wasn't the only stage that could be altered from conquering another.

2. Mattrex Stage - Mega Man X5 (PS)



Mega Man X5 was originally intended to be the finale of the X series. But then... things happened. While not on par with previous entries, X5 is still a competent X game and a better one than X3. When being localized for English speaking audiences, the Mavericks had undergone the usual name changes but this time, they were all named after band members Guns & Roses. The flame themed Maverick, originally named Burn Dinorex ,was changed Mattrex. A lot of fire themed tracks have a tendency to be more fast paced by Mattrex takes it a bit slow. It still manages to bring the heat with some sick guitar riffs and solos. Mattrex Stage is an incredible fire themed track, more than deserving of such a high ranking spot.

1. Blaze Heatnix Stage - Mega Man X6 (PS)



The lowest of the low points in the X series. Mega Man X6 is riddled with horrendous level design and thanks to the Nightmare System that introduces stage elements at random, makes some stages near unplayable. Even without the Nightmare affecting his level Blaze Heatnix has one of the worst stages in X6 to play through. The Nightmare Snake is a reoccurring mini boss with a stupidly long life bar that shows up throughout the entirety of the level. That's right, the whole level consists of fighting a the same dumb mini boss over and over. The only good thing about Blaze Heatnix Stage and about X6 in generally is the badawesome soundtrack. Seriously, Blaze Heatnix theme is straight fire. The drums and electric guitar are doing serious work throughout the course, getting you jazzed for a level that ultimately ends up being a bore fest. Good thing this list about the quality of the track and not the gameplay. Blaze Heatnix, your stage may be hot garbage, but your level music gets me very hot and bothered, earning your theme the number one spot.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Lessons to Learn from Mighty No. 9



After 3 long years, the release of Mighty No. 9 has come and gone. To say the game failed to deliver would be a gross understatement. Mighty No. 9 managed to be one of the fastest successful Kickstarters, only to be managed horribly, have multiple delays and disappoint both fans and critics with both parties blasting the game in reviews. And yet, there are  number of things to be learned from Mighty No. 9's failure.

Keiji Inafune and his team were trying to do way too much. They tried to put Mighty No. 9 on far too many systems, do an anime series before the game was even released and went ahead with another Kickstarter, Red Ash, which, much like the aforementioned anime series, was something that came about before their first project, Might No. 9 was out. Rather than try to accomplish one goal at a time, Inafune set about to accomplish multiple tasks. Now maybe having your eye on more than once prize works well when you're with a multi-million dollar game company but the Indie field is a different ball game. Inafune may have approached  Mighty No. 9 with that mindset and it certainly didn't pan out well for him. If anything, I do hope the man will go about his next game project differently. Yes, crazy as it sounds, I think it would be foolish for him to throw in the towel after such a huge debacle.

Shovel Knight, one of many reasons why you
shouldn't lose faith in crowd funding.

"Mighty No. 9 should have turned out better than it did! It had 4 million dollars behind it!" While it is true that nearly $4 million was raised for Mighty No. 9's Kickstarter, not all of that money actually went into the game's development. We've seen games with much smaller budgets turn out to be far superior products than Mighty No. 9. X amount of dollars don't guarantee a spectacular game. True, creators can make a game's scope and whatnot more broad with a large budget, but all the money in the world doesn't mean anything if the talent behind the product is lackluster. Mighty No. 9 may have been unofficially billed as the next Mega Man, but it epically failed in the execution department. It has terrible level layout and a forgettable soundtrack, two key areas just about every Mega Man game excels at.

If Mighty No. 9 was the first game you ever gave money to on a Kickstarter, I can understand why you'd have a bad taste in your mouth. This whole ordeal has painted Kickstarters in a bad light. Of course Mighty No. 9 isn't the first Kickstarter to give us a disappointing game but considering who it came from, it really is a low blow. However, I'd advise you not to give up on Kickstarter games. Shovel Knight and Undertale were both crowd funded titles that turned out to be excellent. Neither one of those games would have been possible if not for generous gamers opening up their wallets. You won't always get a winner but the same is true for triple A publishers. I took a risk with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan and man, was I ever let down with that purchase. As the saying goes, they can't all be winners,

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Mario Kart 8's Soundtrack Described in Detail

Without a doubt, Mario Kart 8 is one of the best entries in the long running Mario Kart series. It has some superb track designs with fresh tracks, item balancing and really good net code for online racing. And then you have the glorious soundtrack. Jazz, rock and numerous other generous are represented in what was one of my favorite game soundtracks of 2014 and is music that I still listen to today. The video below goes to great lengths to explain why Mario Kart 8's soundtrack is so rich. Its some fascinating stuff.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Going Crazy for Pokémon GO



People on their cell phones. Not exactly a news flash in this day and age. But people walking the streets alone or in groups with their cell phones out and not texting? Talking to each other? Now that is a little different.

Up until a few days ago, I knew nothing about Pokemon GO. Well, other than the fact that the servers were a mess and players were having a terrible time of just trying to start the game. After mulling it over for a bit, I decided to join the ranks of other Pokemon GO players.

I'm not the world's biggest Pokemon fanatic. I own the first six generation Pokemon games, have several Pokemon plush toys, including a sick Mewtwo and an adorable Pikachu. While I may not be a Pokemon die hard, I do like the Pokemon franchise and was happy to have a quick accessible Pokemon game on my phone.



I think I really underestimated just how powerful the Pokemon name is. I assumed that only a handful of people at my job would even be aware of Pokemon GO. Much to my surprise, Pokemon GO was the number one topic of conversation at work. My co-workers were discussing the rare Pokemon they had caught. Kelly had managed to catch a Jigglypuff, Heather bagged herself a Pikachu. Keith celebrated prematurely on his capture of the yellow rodent who broke free of the Pokeball and quickly escaped. I caught a Bulbasaur during some down time by the lockers. Throughout the work day their was a positive buzz in the air and I can't help but think this game about catching fictional creatures had something to do with it.

When I was leaving for work, I had planned to spend some time around the area searching for Pokemon to catch. It seems plenty of other folks had the same idea. I'd heard that people were in the area after 3AM the previous night. But actually seeing so many people walking about with the phones hunting for Pokemon was still very surprising.

I've noticed Pokemon GO getting criticism for not being like the handheld games on the Game Boy or DS systems. Pokemon GO encourages you to explore your surroundings by getting up, going outside and taking walks. You venture into areas, places you probably wouldn't explore otherwise. As someone that enjoys going for walks, I can appreciate Pokemon GO's approach. The second word in the title is there for a reason. You're supposed to be on the move when you play this game. You can sit on your can and catch all the Pokemon you want when Sun and Moon release later this year. Pokemon GO isn't designed to be like the GB and DS Pokemon games. If you're not seeing too much Pokemon action at home, as the cool kids say, you're doing it wrong.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Favorite Tunes #151: Tomorrow is Mine

Welcome back to Favorite Tunes. This week, we have music from Super Mario Maker, Contra Rebirth, Rad Mobile, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, Super Smash Bros. and we finish with a standout song from Sega Rally 2.

GTR Attack! - Contra ReBirth (Wii)



Once upon a time, Konami actually cared about console gaming. Now a days? Eh, not so much. But back when they did, we had sweet 2D run & gun games like Contra ReBirth. ReBirth used a lot of arcade-style arrangements of previous Contra music. GTR Attack! is one of the boss themes from Contra Hard Corps and as rocking as that tune sounded in that game, its even better in ReBirth.

Ghost House (Super Mario Bros. 3) - Super Mario Maker (Wii U)



I don't make a habit of posting too many creepy songs in Favorite Tunes. That isn't to say I dislike spooky themes, but I certainly don't have a playlist of them. But I find the Super Mario Bros. 3 version of Ghost House music to be an intriguing kind of frightful,

Tomorrows is Mine: Bayonetta 2 Theme (Instrumental) - Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (Wii U) 



The glorious Tomorrow is Mine piece from Bayonetta 2 that I was so hoping would make it into Super Smash Bros. made it. As an instrumental arrangement. While I was initially disappointed by this, that quickly changed after hearing the full song. I can sing along to the song (even though my singing sucks) and that saxophone is beastly.

Soup Up - Rad Mobile (ARC)



Released in arcades in 1991, Rad Mobile was one of SEGA's many racing titles. Once you get behind the wheel and the race begins, you'll notice a familiar character swooshing about in the car as an air freshener. Rad Mobile was not only Sonic's first cameo appearance, it was his first appearance in a game, predating his own instant breakout title.

Final Boss Intro ~ Final Boss -Cadillacs and Dinosaurs (ARC)



The beat 'em up series Capcom is primarily known for is their homegrown Final Fight franchise. When you think of good licensed products from them, you generally think of the Disney titles but Capcom also had their creative hands in some other properties such as Aliens vs. Predtor and Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, both excellent beat 'em up titles that most gamers will probably never get to experience outside of MAME.

Searchin' For My Dreams - Sega Rally 2 (ARC)



Let's end this Favorite Tunes with a vocal number. Released in the arcades, Sega Rally 2 was ported to the Dreamcast and is widely regarded as one of the best titles for the system. While rally racing isn't my preferred style I do adore this game's soundtrack, which is home to one of my favorite vocal gaming tracks. I can't even tell you how many times I've listened to this song on repeat.

Favorite Tunes Database

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Top 5 Mega Man Robot Master Water Stage Themes

Water levels, levels that, along with ice levels are generally the bane of any video game player, tend to be much more tolerable in Classic Mega Man since his movement isn't hampered by slowdown. The Blue Bomber even benefits by getting a higher jump. Just mind the spikes that always invest the water sections. With summer being in full swing, I thought I'd piece together a Top 5 of my favorite Robot Master Water level themes. What better way to keep cool than listening to underwater Mega Man jams?

5. Polluted Pump (Pump Man Stage) - Mega Man 10 (Wii, PS3, 360)



Oh Mega Man 10. You're overshadowed by the fact that Mega Man 9 came before you. Sure, you may not have the best set of weapons, but I love your music and stage design. Pump Man is one of those old fashioned looking robots. I like the idea that even in the far future of 20XX, there are robot designers that long for simpler times. Unlike a lot of other water themed levels that are usually bright and colorful, Pump Man's stage is a spacious, dark, damp sewer. No matter how cool that water may be, the sewer is the last place you want to spend a hot summer day. The stage theme does an excellent job of mirroring the look of the level. I tend to prefer more soothing, upbeat water themes as you'll come to see from the remaining choices on this list, but Pump Man's theme did manage to beat out Splash Woman's theme, which is a very good, relaxing musical piece, but I favor the under dweller vibe from Pump Man's stage,

4. Dive Man Stage - Mega Man 4 (NES)



Mega Man 4 may not be on the same level as say Mega Man 2, 3 and later installments, but even then, the game is still pretty dang good. Even the lighter, soft sound font doesn't hinder the music either. Dive Man's stage treats us to a peppy, upbeat aquatic tune and a level that makes up for Mega Man 3's sparse underwater sections. The theme is incredibly cheerful and the level is actually pretty fun to boot. The mini boss whale that you encounter twice is actually named Moby. How cute.

3. Wave Man Stage - Mega Man 5 (NES)



Wave Man's stage is unusual for a water themed Mega Man level. While there is plenty of H2O, Mega Man is never submerged in it. The first half of Wave Man's stage involves avoiding hazardus steam, navigating tubes and making your way topside via bubbles. The bubble section was later used as a portion of Splash Woman's level in Mega Man 9. The entire second half of Wave Man's theme has Mega Man jump into a wave rider for some auto scrolling, shoot 'em up action. This is all set to an unusual water theme that plays for background music. It isn't quite sad, but it isn't entire happy either, but somewhere in between. This was the first song from Mega Man 5 that got stuck in my head.

02. Aqua Man Stage - Mega Man 8 (SAT, PS)



Well, well, well. If it isn't Handsome Guy coming in at number 2. In a game filled with horrendous voice acting... Aqua Man's voice is no better. He sounds incredibly lame. Worse, he gives you a sucky weapon. And yet, I can't bring myself to hate him. Aqua Man is such an oddball that you can't help but laugh at his stupidity and fall in love with him. Mega Man 8 presented a first for the classic series: it gave Mega Man the ability to swim, which you got to use in the introduction stage. Mega Man even managed to dodge the bullet that usually hits video game characters once they get their feet wet, crappy swimming controls by controlling rather well. Just listen to that cool, tranquil theme as you admire the underwater cities and dodge a plethora of bomb explosions, Aqua Man's theme is so freaking peaceful and relaxing. If not for the next Robot Master on this list, he would have taken the number one spot.

1. Bubble Man Stage - Mega Man 2 (NES)



In the late 1980s, there were two themes that I associated with water. The Underwater music from Super Mario Bros. and Bubble Man's level theme. Mega Man 2 was the first Mega Man game I ever played and the first stage I went to was Bubble Man's. Wood Man has my favorite overall theme from the game, but Bubble Man is a close second. But in terms of Mega Man water themes (Classic, anyway), Bubble Man is the king of the ocean. He may be a bit of a joke among the Mega Man fandom but his theme is extremely catchy and calming. Before I had all of the other candidates were in place, I already knew that Bubble Man would take the top spot.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Re-Releases You Should Play Part 3

After a long break, Re-Releases You Should Play has finally returned. This time a well known indie game that got the re-release treatment is mentioned as well as a popular blue mascot.

Sonic the Hedgehog (MS, GG)



No, I'm not talking about the well known Genesis version that everyone and their dog has been exposed to. I'm referring to one of the unsung heroes of the Blue Blur's early days, the first 8-bit adaptation of Sonic the Hedgehog. The game does feature some zones from the Genesis game but Green Hill, Labyrinth and Scrap Brain zones in this 8-bit outing all have their own unique designs to further set the title apart from the 16-bit game. Joining those zones are Bridge, Jungle and Sky Base, zones exclusive to this adventure. Given that the hardware this game was designed on wasn't in the same league as the Genesis, this game puts a stronger emphasis on platforming and 8-bit Sonic the Hedgehog is greater game for doing so. Chaos Emeralds must be found within the zones themselves, adding a layer of exploration and the special stages are nothing like the Genesis version and are your only means of gaining continues.

Released on both the Master System and Game Gear, Sonic the Hedgehog is largely the same on both platforms with some differences. On the Game Gear, screen crunch was inevitable but the game still plays marvelously. The GG version is the one that has seen the most re-releases, being an unlockable game in Sonic Adventure DX Director's Cut and it is also available on the 3DS eShop. The Master System version has only seen a re-release on the original Wii's Virtual Console and as of this writing, it is still up on the Wii Shop Channel. The digital route is the best way to experience this game without breaking bank and you really can't go wrong with either version. You get a compelling platformer with some music by the great Yuzo Koshiro.

Super Meat Boy (360, PC)



If you've been envious of Xbox 360 owners because they could play one of the toughest platformers on a console, cool your pixels. Super Meat Boy is now available on the PS4, PS Vita and Wii U. This game is not for the faint of heart or for those that are easily prone to rage quit. While the majority of the deaths yo suffer in Super Meat Boy are your own fault due to the tight controls and demand for precision on your part, the game's difficulty is comparable to Ghosts 'n Goblins. The game keeps track of how many times you die so if your counter isn't in the quad digits, you're probably more adept than most players.

Available on: Wii U, PS4, Vita

Drill Dozer (GBA)



The GBA was home to plenty of SNES ports but it also boasted of library of solid original games, one of them being a Game Freak gem that was overshadowed by Pokemon titles and the release of the Nintendo DS. When I GBA games started making their way to the Wii U eShop, I was hopefully that Drill Dozer would make its way down the pipeline eventually and sure enough, Jill has made her long awaited debut. This action/platformer has you using a drill mech with multiple functions to destroy blocks, dismantle bosses and pretty much cement Jill's status as one of the more standout thieves in gaming. If you missed out on Drill Dozer when it was initially released, do yourself a favor and grab the digital version. It'll be one of the best purchases you've ever made.

Available on: Wii U

Super Hang-On (ARC)



When most gamers think of Yu Suzuki's games that involve driving, OutRun is usually the first thing that comes to mind. But Suzuki made another thrill ride and if you think Super Hang-On is just OurRun with motorcycles, you are sorely mistaken. In OutRun you had branching pathes that appeared after each stage. But in Super Hang-On you can select from four tracks from the get go, from Africa, Asia, America and Europe with Africa being the easiest at a mere 4 stages and Europe being the hardest, containing 18 stages. You race against the clock, dodging other motorcycles and other hazards. Just as it was in OutRun, crashing costs you precious time, but unlike OutRun, when you reach the max speed of 280 km, your turbo button can be used to give you even more speed, catapulting your score. Knowing when you cut loose with the turbo and when to brake is key to achieving high scores and staying in the game. Even for a game that was released in 1987, Super Hang-On's sense of speed is blistering and the rush you get from flooring with the turbo is exhilarating. If you want to play the arcade version of Super Hang-On on the big screen, the Wii version is still up for grabs. 3D Super Hang-On comes with lots of cool bonuses as per usual with M2's exceptional work.

Available on: Wii, 3DS