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Friday, August 31, 2012

Latest Purchases #35

Went shopping on Amazon early Tuesday morning and these babies came in the mail today.

If you don't know, I'm a huge fan of animation. One of my all-time favorite cartoons is Tiny Toon Adventures. Much of the same style of humor that was seen on Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures and later Animaniacs can be seen in Tiny Toons. I picked up Season 1 Vol. 2 because it was cheaper than Season 1 Vol. 1, which I plan to pick up with my next pay check. Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaiacs are two great shows that seem to be in the same boat: Warner Bros. has no plans to release the remaining DVD sets. I guess something is better than nothing and at least Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent my Summer Vacation finally got released on DVD.

I was reading a preview of Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward for the N3DS in an issue of Nintendo Power. The game is a sequel to 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, a game they made mention of during the preview. SuperPhilip also made mention of this game on his feature of 50 best NDS games. It was only $20 on amazon new, so I snagged a copy. It's a thriller, puzzle and mystery game all in one and it sounded way too cool to pass up. If I'm going to get Zero Escape, I may as well have it's prequel.

Favorite Tunes #23: Music from SEGA Games

Short for Service Games, SEGA has been responsible for some of the best consoles and and helping bring about some of the most innovative games in the industry. Said innovations didn't always pay off, but at least this was a company that was willing to take risks. You can make the argument that SEGA isn't the company that it once was, but hey, at least they aren't nearly as bad as Capcom. SEGA still has some of the best composers in the business. Even SEGA games that are subpar usually have excellent music.

Route 99 Act 1 - Sonic Advance 3 (GBA)

What better way to start off a list of SEGA tunes than with the company's mascot? The Sonic Advance trilogy doesn't get the love it deserves, largely because they were portable Sonic games. Developed by Dimps, these were a collection of very competent 2D Sonic titles and Sonic Advance 3 could easily been viewed as the best of the lot. It certainly has the best soundtrack. The composers made great use of what I like to call the "Mega Man Zero Guitar" instruments in Sonic Advance 3's music and you can sample it as early as the game's first Zone, Route 99. This theme definitely needs more love in the remix department.

Scream Train - House of the Dead: Overkill (Wii, PS3)

Rail shooters are practically extinct so it was quite refreshing to see House of the Dead: Overkill on the Wii, which was a perfect fit for the Wii Remote. In a huge departure from the traditional House of the Dead games, Overkill plays up the B movie angle to a tee. It's heavy on the gore and never takes itself seriously, the later being why those that play this game love it so much. Protagonists Agent G and Issac Washington provide some of the best back and forth banter this side of a cop flick. The game is also heavy on the profanity. If you played a drinking game with this one and took a swig every time some one dropped an F-bomb, you'd be passed out on the floor from alcohol poisoning in no time. The soundtrack was a hefty dose of funk, which I say video games need far more of. Overkill would recieve an enhanced port on the PS3 for the PlayStation Move controller under the name House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut.

Pressure - Phantasy Star II (GEN)

Confession time. I've never beaten Phantasy Star II. In fact, I've played very little of it. And yet I own it many times over. I bought a Genesis cartridge a year ago for dirt cheap, I have it on the GBA Phantasy Star Collection, The Sega Genesis Collection on PS2 and the Sonic Ultimate Genesis Collection on PS3. I've played just enough of the game to hear the song Pressure, a song that has since stayed inside my head. Yeah, I know, I'm a horrible gamer for not even scratching the surface of one of the best games on the Genesis.

The King of Speed - Daytona USA (SAT ver.)

I'd read about the Daytona USA games in issues of Gamepro in the mid and late '90s, but I wouldn't play a Daytona USA game until the summer of 2001 when I picked up my Dreamcast. I had a hard time getting used to the controls at first, but once I got a feel for them, the Dreamcast version of Daytona USA became one of my favorite games for the system. The music in the Dreamcast version is slightly different from the Saturn version. I'm quite partial to the Dreamcast version of The King of Speed, but the Saturn version is still perfectly capable of holding it's own. If I ever go out and see real life Daytona racing, I'll be crushed if the announcer doesn't say "ROLLING STAAAAAAART" at least once.

Chinatown - The Revenge of Shinobi (GEN)

This game didn't come to my attention until I'd read about it in magazine, years after SEGA had stopped supporting the Genesis. The Revenge of Shinobi is one of the system's earliest games and it still holds up remarkably well on all fronts. Yuzo Koshiro was behind this game's score, so I really don't need to go on about much I adore it.

Funky Dealer - Jet Set Radio Future (XB)

The Jet Set Radio series is one of the reasons SEGA was known for being such a creative force in the gaming industry. The games involved a band of misfits on roller blades expressing themselves through graffiti. Naturally, their activities don't sit too well with the local law enforcement, what with freedom of expression being outlawed and all that. So in addition to marking your territory, you had to keep the man off your back. Beat and a few Jet Set Radio themed tracks made an appearance in Sonic & SEGA All-Star Racing as did a few audio tracks like the funkadelic Funky Dealer.

Wandering Warriors - Shining Force II (GEN)

Another series I've games I've been meaning to get into but just haven't gotten around to it. The first two installments of the Shining Force series are up for grabs on the Virtual Console and I also have them on the Sonic Ultimate Genesis Collection, but I lack a PS3 to play them on. Wandering Warriors is the overworld theme of Shining Force II so you'll hear it quite frequently. Composed by Motoaki Takenouchi, this theme has a very symphonic feel to it.

Go Straight - Streets of Rage 2 (GG ver.)

Tell a few people that Streets of Rage and Streets of Rage 2 were also available on the Game Gear and you may get a bewildered look. Go Straight on the Game Gear version of Streets of Rage is speed up a great deal when compared to the Genesis version, but I actually like it for that reason. This version of the tune, like the Genesis version was also composed by Yuzo Koshiro.

Message from Nightophia - NiGHTS into dreams... (SAT, PS2)

The song may be from a NiGHTS game, but the first time I heard it was in Casinopolis in Sonic Adventure. The NiGHTS pinball machine has got to be one of my favorite distractions in that game. I liked it far more than the Sonic pinball machine and every time I'm in Casionpolis, I always head for the NiGHTS pinball machine just so I can hear this track. When I picked up NiGHTS into dreams... for the Saturn last year, I was so disappointed to learn that you don't get to hear much of this song in that game. If you missed NiGHTS into dreams... the first time around, you'll be able to play an HD version of it on PSN and XLBA this fall.

Monkey Island - Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz (Wii)

The Super Monkey Ball games may have declined in quality over the years, but from my understanding, Banana Blitz was one of the better games during the series' slump. Thanks to the excellent Mario Kart clone, Sonic & SEGA All-Stars racing, this energetic tune was brought to my ears. This track is actually a remix of Super Monkey Ball Touch & Roll's Wet 'n' Windy. The Monkey Ball courses in All-Stars racing were a lot of fun to race on and each time I got to play them, I'd always select this as my audio track.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Marvel vs. Capcom Origins Tribute Art

Releasing on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network in September, Marvel vs. Capcom Origins collects two of Capcom's hottest fighters from the 1990s era, Marvel Super Heroes and Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes. The games will feature online play and achievements among other things. To further hype you for the release of this digital compilation, Marvel has released two tribute pieces. The first one done by Ron Lim is a homage to cover of Marvel's classic Infinite Gauntlet #1. The Second, done by Shinkiro is a tribute to the American box art of Mega Man 2. Pretty awesome stuff, huh?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Game Art #48: Zelda Gallery

For all three of you that haven't heard the good (and old) news, The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia is getting translated for English audiences. To my knowledge, the book will be getting a North American, Australia and European release. This 274 page hardcover book is loaded with official artwork and the much coveted Zelda timeline, which, in all honesty, I couldn't give two craps about, but I know a lot of fans have been dying to know the order of things, so it'll be nice to have. The American release date for the book is set for January 29, 2013. No word yet on when it will hit stores in other regions. Now seems like a good time to show off some glorious Zelda fan art. Enjoy.

By Hosuke
By Takagi
By Saiba
By reaper-bunny
By reaper-bunny
By Spire-III
By EiffelArt
By zzyzzyy
By Wes-Talbott
By ISagol
Unknown Artist
Pixiv ID
By Tsubame Fuji
By Takagi
Unknown Artist
By Ukata
By lack
By aoki
By Tetsu Teppei
Pixiv ID
Pixiv ID
Pixiv ID
Unknown Artist
Pixiv ID
By Yuu
By Hatihamu
By Hatihamu
By Mackerel
By Legemd

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Thoughts on the Rockman 25th Anniversary Soundtrack

Come September 19, the Rockcan Sound E Can will be released in stores in Japan. What is it? It's a collection of Mega Man soundtracks from Mega Man 1-10 in the package of an Energy Tank. That's pretty cool packaging, I must say. Also included are the arranged songs from the Rockman Complete Works games from the PlaySation. There's also the inclusion of the three exclusive Sega Saturn Mega Man 8 tracks, that weren't present when Capcom released the Rockman 8 Soundtrack. The music will be remastered from the original source, so hopefully the background noise heard in the Rockman 1~6 soundtrack will be gone. Let's also hope that those blemishes in Rockman 7's soundtrack are cleaned up. Want more? Capcom is also including the music from the Alph Lyla Rockman Special CD soundtracks that originally released in the 1990s. Sounds like a sweet deal, eh? Certainly not a bad way to celebrate Mega Man's 25th anniversary. But even with all that going for it, I can't help but feel disappointed.

Once again, Capcom is leg humping the Classic Mega Man series. No love for the X, Zero, Legends or Battle Network games at all. I know Classic Mega Man is many people's favorites and he's the one that started it all, but he's not the only Mega Man. And even then, the Classic series is still getting shafted here. Why not include all of the music from Mega Man I-V on Game Boy? What about the Wily Wars? For crying out loud, even Rockman & Forte is getting left out in the cold! Are console Mega Man games the only ones that count?

And finally, there's that price tag. You can import this baby from cdjapan, but it will set you back over $220. That much money for ten CDs is way too much. I'm a huge Mega Man fan, but I gotta draw the line somewhere.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Toad

Like Kirby, Toad is one of the cutest characters in the confines of Nintendo. Despite having feet but no legs, it's hard not to find Toad adorable. But unlike Kirby, who I immediately go "Daaaaawww" when I look at, my feelings towards the little fungus are pretty mixed.

I don't think Toad is bad. But at the same time, he's not a character that I fully embrace like other video game stars I've come to know over the years. Where does my hate for Toad come from? With Toad's first appearance, Super Mario Bros. Anyone that's been playing video games knows the story of this game. Princess gets captured by Bowser, Mario has to rescue her. Super Mario Bros. has eight worlds, each ending with a one of Bowser's castles. Imagine getting to the end of the castle, waiting to meet with the princess, only to get this little punk who may very well be flipping you off with both fingers. Toad giving me the double deuce doesn't really bother me. What does grind my gears is that Toad, this character that's supposed to be a guard constantly gets captured. So not only do you spend most of the game searching for Princess Peach, but you also dedicate a good chunk of your time to saving this little snot over and over and over. That's aggravating.

How much is she paying him to
fail at his job?

In Super Mario Bros. 2, there was no princess that needed to be rescued. Instead, the world of Subcon needed saving. We got to play as Mario, Luigi, Peach, and yes, even Toad got in on the action. And he was quite good, too. No, he was better than good, he was great. His jump was very weak, but he was the fastest runner and he could pick things up faster than Scrooge McDuck picking up a dime. He was sporting some spiffy new colored threads to boot. Blue has always been my favorite color, so I approved. This is where my love for Toad comes in. Having had to rescue him so many time in the first Super Mario Bros., it was quite surprising to find out that Toad had considerable skills on the platforming field.

Then came Super Mario Bros. 3 and Toad was useful as well as useless. He was helpful with Toad Houses scattered across the seven worlds in the game, yielding valuable power-ups. Toad failed at life when he probably stood by and did nothing when the Koopalings turned the kings into members of the animal kingdom. Once again Toad sucked at his job. Come to think of it, why weren't there any Toad Houses in World 8? That place was no cakewalk.

You can play all the way through Super
Mario Bros. 2 as Toad. He's that good.

Toad was one of the light weight racers in Super Mario Kart. This meant he could easily be bumped around by the heavy weights, had so-so acceleration but made up for those shortcomings with the best handling. During my first three day rental period with Super Mario Kart, I spent a lot of time playing as Toad. In fact, I think I learned the game playing as him as opposed to Mario and Luigi. Toad has since been one of my favorite characters to play as in any game of Mario Kart.

I'm the best!

When I have to save Toad, I'm annoyed. When I get to play as him, I'm thrilled. That's basically how my love/hate relationship with Toad works. If I have to save him, I wanna punch him in the face when I see him but when I get to play as him, I'm grinning like Grimace. Heck, I have to admit that there were even a few times where he wasn't playable that he came in handy. In Super Mario 64 he had a few hidden Power Stars. In Luigi's Mansion, he saved your game, made the nightmares go away and gave you happy music, and I cannot thank him enough for that last one.


The Toads in New Super Mario Bros. Wii kinda remind me of the Toad from Super Mario Bros. 2. One of them is wearing blue so it's possible he was that Toad. Speaking of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, I don't mind telling you that I rarely saved Toad in those levels that he needed rescuing. Carrying him through an entire stage? Ugh. It's so much easier to just toss him off a cliff. Yeah, I've done it and I'm betting you have, too. With a smile, even. I don't even feel bad when Toad slams into the ground because I failed to catch him in Fire on Game & Watch Gallery. I'm betting Peach doesn't think highly of Toad. In the Super Smash Bros. series, she uses him as a shield!

Look who's back for Luigi's Mansion:
Dark Moon.

So there you have it. My perfectly balanced relationship of love and hate for Toad. I'll never fully love him and I'll never fully hate him. I haven't opened my copy of Mario Kart 7, so I'm sure Toad and I will have more good times together on the track. Since I haven't played New Super Mario Bros. 2, I'm sure he'll do something in that game that will make me want to choke him.