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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Favorite Tunes #18: Fighting Themes

Two opponents enter the ring (or the street corner, or back alley. Why be picky?), only one leaves. The fighting genre is probably one of the most competitive scenes in gaming, if not the most competitive. I've been to a tournament or two, had some online matches but nothing as grand scale as something like EVO. Maybe someday. What's better than pounding the crap outta your opponent? Doing it to some sick beats. While I love me some Street Fighter, I've kept the number of tracks to that series to a minimum. Gotta show how diverse the genre is, ya know.

              Tetsuo Kato (Arrange) - Fighting Layer (ARC)

Developed by Akira (the chaps behind the Street Fighter EX series) and released in 1998 only in Japan, Fighting Layer is a 3D fighting game I've never played for obvious reasons. Regrettably, I can't tell you much about it. I can, however, tell you that the music to this game is sensational. The score was co-written by Takayuki Aihara and Ayako Saso, known for their renowned work on the Street Fighter EX soundtracks. The original Tetsuo Kato is a great theme on its own, but this will be one of those times where I'm gonna have to say that the arrange version trumps it.

              Sail Over the Storm - Soul Calibur (ARC, DC)

One of the first games I bought for my Dreamcast in the summer of 2001, Soul Calibur blew me away with its stunning visuals and deep fighting mechanics. If Donatello showed me that staffs could be good weapons, Kilik demonstrated just how deadly they could be. All of Soul Calibur's music is fantastic, but Sail Over the Storm is without question my favorite track from the game.

           Cafeteria - TMNT: Tournament Fighters (SNES)

When Street Fighter II dominated arcades and home fighters in the early 1990s, everyone and their mother wanted a piece of the action, including Konami. Their response to Capcom's fighting cash cow? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters. For crying out loud, there's even a jab at Street Fighter on the box art. As much as I love the Turtles, it didn't do much to make me forget about Ryu, Guile and the gang, but it was cool to see the green machines hashing it out in a fighter against Shredder and some others that sadly escape me. Since the game came from Konami, of course the music was awesome and to this day, I haven't met anyone that cannot say Cafeteria is awesome. Play this song during a cafeteria brawl and I guarantee it with be the best fight in the history of dinner brawls.

                   Guile Stage CPS II - Street Fighter II (ARC)

The fighting genre probably wouldn't have made so many leaps if not for Street Fighter II. Yeah, Capcom pretty much whores the series out these days, but there isn't a gamer that lived in the 1990s that doesn't look back on this game with nostalgia. Guile's theme is an audio masterpiece. I like a lot of versions of this theme, but the arcade CPS II incarnation is the best in my book. This song goes with anything. Anything. Just go to YouTube and type in "Guile's theme goes with everything" if you don't believe me.

              Mr. Karate - Nettou King of Fighters '96 (GB)

What's this? King of Fighters? On the Game Boy? Surly you jest. No jesting here. Yes, there were a few King of Fighters games released on the Nintendo's brick. None of them made it outside of Japan so that's probably why few people know of these games' existence. Despite the limitations of the Game Boy hardware, there was some good music in these pocket sized King of Fighters games. Nettou King of Fighters '96 gave Mr. Karate, an quick paced, drum pounding boss theme. With a name and theme like those, I would certainly not wanna screw with that guy. If you played rom hack Rockman No Constancy and wondered what the source of that killer boss theme was, wonder no longer.

             Kombat Tomb - Mortal Kombat II (SNES ver.)

Even with Mortal Kombat 9 being a smashing success (or Mortal Kombat as it's official called), many still contend that Mortal Kombat II is the best Kombat game. Like original 1992 Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II was ported to just about everything you can imagine. I played both the SNES and Genesis versions and found myself like the SNES music more, even over the arcade original. Despite the inferior hardware, the audio sounds a bit more fleshed out to me on the SNES.

       Blue Water Blue Sky - Guilty Gear X (ARC, DC, PS2)

Don't think a little girl carrying an anchor as a weapon is threatening? Think again. Think said girl will have some sweet and innocent theme as her background tune? Wrong again. Known for its rock soundtrack, May has one of the most well-loved themes in the Guilty Gear series. There have been a number of versions of Blue Water Blue Sky but I always find myself coming back to listen to the original.

     Multi-Man Melee 1 - Super Smash Bros. Melee (GCN)

Is Melee a fighter or not? Don't really care. All I know is that its a fine game, one of the best on the GameCube and a fine example of how to do a sequel. Melee expanded upon the formula of the original Super Smash Bros. added a ton of unlockable (I never did get every single trophy) and just made everything bigger and better in every conceivable way. This track is a rock arrangement of Melee's Main Theme. Thankfully, this song is also in the excellent sequel, Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

                        Urban Sight - Tobal No. 1 (PSone)

Tobal No. 1 came from a time when Square Enix did more than RPGs. Actually this baby came years before the two companies merged. Developed by DreamFactory, this was more ambitious than other fighters at the time. In addition to the standard fighting, there was a fully 3D Quest mode. It fared well in Japan but not so much in America. Contributors to the game's soundtrack, which covers a wide range of genres include Kenji Ito, Yoko Shimomura, and Noriko Matsueda to name a few. Character designs were done by Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama. Tobal 2 never saw a release outside of Japan, much to fan's annoyance.

Without Hesitation - Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution (ARC, PS2)

Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution is my favorite game in the Virtua Fighter series. With its incredibly deep three button fighting engine and a lengthy Quest mode the featured AI modeled after real Virtua Fighter players, the game offers something for everyone. The addition of Virtua Fighter 10th Anniversary was also a lovely bonus. This game taught me the joy of bashing heads as Pai and customizing your fighter's look, which in this game as I saw countless other fighters, was serious business.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season One Part Two

The Dark Knight returns in Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season One Part Two. This set contains the remaining 13 episodes of season one, and has some of the very best episodes of the whole series.

Some of my favorite episodes and team ups are present on this collection. In Trails of the Demon!, Batman partners with Etrigan. I'm always up for more Etrigan, but what really makes Trials of the Demon stand out is the inclusion of Sherlock Holmes. To see Batman on screen with the other ficional character to be given the title of the world's greatest detective is too awesome to fully describe here.

Robin gets some screen time in The Color of Revenge! If you wondered where the Boy Wonder was in the first half of Season One, it was out in Bludhaven, fighting crime on his own. But before he was old enough to be his own man, he and the Dark Knight had an encounter with Crazy Quilt that left the villain blind. Said evil doer is back and he wants his revenge. As a bonus, Robin is even wearing his Earth 2 costume, which I don't find bad, honestly.

A serious beat-down is about to ensue. 
The Batmobile can transform into a mecha.
It works perfectly for the nature for this series.

I've been a fan of Jonah Hex ever since I saw him in Batman: The Animated Series. As fun as it is to see Batman partner with someone that has super powers, its equally enjoyable when he fights with someone that is as powerless as he is. So understandably, I got a big kick out of Duel of the Double Crossers! Though the odds are certainly not in their favor when they go up agaisnt Mongul. Batman gets hit with a punch from the juggernaut that probably should have killed him, but maybe he was significantly powered down for this series. It took me out of the episode a bit, but not to the point where I disliked it as a whole.

When Bat-Mite appears, you can expect lots of
weirdness. More so than usual.
Hi Paul, hi Bruce!

Hail the Tornado Tyrant! brings back one of my favorite characters in this series, Red Tornado. Continuing with his desire to understand and fit in with humanity, Red Tornado builds a son, Champion. A battle with Major Disaster gives Champion emotions, that he's unfortunately not able to handle, which leads to Batman and Red Tornado having to take Champion down. I've never felt more pirty for a machine in my life. This episode has one of the biggest downer endings of the series. There are far greater ones to come, but this one still pulled at my heart strings.

Legends of the Dark Mite! is one of the weirdest episodes you'll see (they get a lot weirder if you can believe that), but that's to be expected when Bat-Mite appears to turn Batman's life upside down. Written by Paul Dini, it's a very good kind of weird. We get a good look at Batman's extended rogue's gallery, there's some Loony Tunes style hi-jinx, and what has got to be one of my favorite moments in BTBATB history, Bat-Mite defends the very lighter and softer tone of the show that ignorant Batman: The Animated Series fanboys scoff at. It's a wonderful comedic episode loaded with homages to past comic book versions of Batman and the aforementioned Batman series. A definite must see.

Batman: The Animated Series homage.
All hail the Music Meister!

Mayhem of the Music Meister! is the music themed episode featuring a villain created just for this show, the Music Meister. This episode shows off the wonderful singing tallents of Neil Patrick Harris and the rest of the cast. The musical numbers are a riot, especially I'm the Music Meister, Death Trap, and my personal favorite, Drives Us Bats.

The other episodes aren't bad, I was merely highlighting my favorites of this set. Why season one couldn't be released as 26 episode four disc set is beyond me, but you can still pick up this set and Season One Part One for cheap. This set closes out the first season of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, a good first season. If you haven't seen this show yet, watch it. Don't let the lighter and softer tone scare you away. Beneath the look is a clever, funny and well written Batman cartoon. As of this writing I'm almost finished watching season two and let me tell you, it only gets better.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Would You Play Another Mario Like Super Mario Bros. 2?

By tincity

Black sheep. They stand out like sore thumbs from the rest of the herd because they look different. Is being different really a bad thing? The same old same old can get boring after a while, but switching things up can also be quite risky. Nintendo took such a risk by releasing Super Mario Bros. 2, a game radically different from its predecessor, resulting in the Super Mario series first black sheep.

The history behind Super Mario Bros. 2's release is common knowledge but talking about either it or the Lost Levels is like trying to tell the history of Sonic the Hedgehog without mentioning Mario. It just doesn't work. So for information's sake, he's a quick rundown.

In Japan of 1986 the sequel to Super Mario Bros was released, Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (Super Mario Bros. 2 is its original title). When it came time to get the game ready for release in America and Europe, Nintendo of America didn't think the game would sell very well due to the game's abnormally high difficulty. Instead, they chose to take an existing game, Doki Doki Panic, developed by Mario creator and guru Shigeru Miyamoto, switch out the completely unrelated Mario character's in favor of Mario protagonists and call it Super Mario Bros. 2. It was either Doki Doki Panic with Mario characters or a rom hack that would make gamers wanna kill themselves. Yeah, I realize that may sound harsh, but The Lost Levels features one of the most obnoxious surprise difficulty spikes in a video game that I've ever seen. The Lost Levels eventually gained a wider release with Super Mario All-Stars and the Famicom Disc original was released on the Virtual Console for anyone feeling sadistic enough to give it a go. I firmly believe Nintendo made the right call when giving gamers the version of Super Mario Bros. 2 that they did. It may be a black sheep, but its a very good black sheep.

In 1992 the American version of
Super Mario Bros. 2 was rleased
in Japan as Super Mario USA. In a
bit or irony, outsold The
Lost Levels.

To answer my own question that this editorial proposes, yes, I would totally play another Mario like Super Mario Bros. 2. Nintendo has expanded upon what they learned from the original Super Mario Bros. time and again. I'd love to see them come back to the Super Mario Bros. 2 formula. In 2D or 3D. And for those thinking it wouldn't make sense to revisit Subcon, remember that many of the enemies that appeared in Super Mario Bros. 2 have been making the rounds in Mario games ever sense. Shy Guys, Birdos, and Bob-ombs are Mario regulars. Besides, is Subcon any stranger than the Mushroom Kingdom or any other places Mario and Luigi have gone to? No, it isn't, at least not to me.

In what was surly a surprise to many, Miyamoto revealed that his favorite Mario game was Super Mario Bros. 2. Can you believe that? I think that's so awesome. It isn't my favorite Mario but it is one of my favorites and certainly doesn't deserve the flak it gets for not being like the rest of the Mario platformers. Yoshi's Island is vastly different from a lot of Mario platformers yet many consider it one of the greatest platformers ever made, (myself included) but then, not everyone considers that part of the Super Mario series.

Really, I would jump at the chance to play another Mario like Super Mario Bros. 2 in a heartbeat. When it seemed as if Nintendo was through with 2D Mario games, along came New Super Mario Bros. When was the last time Peach saw some action in a platformer? When has Toad not been worthless a Super Mario game? Bring on the veggies, Wart, heck even those freaky-looking Phantos, I welcome them all back. Another game like Super Mario Bros. 2 seems unlikely but hey, a guy can dream, right?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season One Part One

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season One Part One collects the first 13 episodes of the first season on two discs. In this collection Batman teams up with Blue Beetle, Green Arrow, Aqua Man, Huntress and a plethora of other heroes to take on villains from his rogues gallery as well as those from other heroes rogues galleries.

When I first saw an image of Batman: The Brave and the Bold years ago, I was highly skeptical. Batman constantly teamed up with partners and wearing blue instead of black. I'd gotten so used to a grim and gritty Batman that I thought a lighthearted take on the character couldn't be any good. And I was a fool for thinking all of those things. First off, Batman has worked with some of the best heroes in the DC universe despite his loner persona. And secondly, well, blue is my favorite color. Heck, Neal Adams made Batman in blue and gray one of the best combinations for the character. True, he certainly wasn't the first to color the Caped Crusader in blue, but his illustrations of the Dark Knight in blue and gray was more than enough to convince me that Batman could look incredible in those colors when I was a but a child. These were things that I had forgotten since I had been so used to the DCAU (Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited) portrayals of Batman. One episode was all it took to sell me on this show, which is now one of my top five animated Batman series.

As I summarized above, fans of the darker and edgier version of Batman will dismiss Batman: The Brave and the Bold. When Batman originally began, he was a dark avenger of the night. As time went on, a lighter and softer approach was taken during the Silver Age. During this time, Batman was about as campy as it got, with the camp factor reaching an all-time high in the 1960s Batman live action TV show. While the camp version of Batman may have nearly killed the character off, it is still an incarnation of Batman and some of the most notable members of his rogues gallery were introduced during this period such as Poison Ivy and Mr Zero, who would later be known as Mr Freeze. Yes, Batman: The Brave and the Bold can be campy. Batman is quite the talkative fellow in this show, spouting one-liners at his comrades and adversaries alike, but it does not mock the legacy of Batman. It is firmly rooted in the Silver Age with Batman having adventures in space and far off worlds, though he still fights plenty of crime in his home town.

There's always a hero at Batman's side in
this series.
Chased by a hungry T-rex? Just another
day for Bats and his partners.

While each episode is generally comprised of 22 minute crime solving, world saving escapades, the cold openings are more like mini episodes. In the first episode Rise of the Blue Beetle!, we start off with Batman and Green Arrow caught in a death trap fashioned by the Clock King. There's some back and forth banter between Batman and Green Arrow before they free themselves and clean Clock King's clock. After the opening sequence we get to the main story, which focuses on the Blue Beetle. Nearly every episode opens up with Batman teaming up with a different hero, which is one of the key components of the show. Its so much fun to see how Batman works with other heroes in each episode. Batman is highly competitive with Green Arrow but has a mentor role towards Blue Beetle, whom it seems is fairly new to the hero business.

It's a real treat to see these heroes in the cold openings and when they get full screen time as Batman's main partner in the story. One of my favorite reoccurring heroes is Red Tornado. He made his debut in Invasion of the Secret Santas!, the Christmas themed episode. Red Tornado has a longing desire to connect with humanity. Despite Red Tornado being a machine, that desire thankfully shines through thanks to fantastic writing and voice work. This was actually the first episode of the series I saw and its still one of my favorites.

Batman in Batarmor. AWESOME.

Hello, Killing Joke homage. Just because it is
heavily influenced from the Silver Age doesn't
mean you won't find more modern Batman
elements in the show.

They say that heroes are only as good as their adversaries and depictions of DC villains here do not disappoint. While many of them come across in the same campy nature of their Silver Age comic counter parts, they are no less entertaining to watch. Gorilla Grodd, Black Manta, Despero, Felix Faust, Gentleman Ghost, Scarecrow, are just as fun to see in action as the heroes. If your aren't up to date on your Batman history, a few of them may leave you scratching your head as to who they are. Make no mistake, Fun House, Crazy Quilt, Kite Man, and many other obscure villains you see later in the series are straight out of the comic books. Its nice to see even D-listers like Calendar Man in animation form.

So we got a slew of cool heroes for Batman to work with and a ton of villains for him to punch out. But as I was watching this DVD set, I asked myself "Where is the Joker?" The Clown Prince of crime, the greatest villain in comic book history, Batman's arch nemesis. Twelve episodes in and not a purple tux in sight. The final two episodes of this set Deep Cover for Batman! and Game Over for Owlman! show us that parallel worlds do exist in this show. When the Red Hood turns to Batman for help, the Dark Knight has an encounter with Owlman and goes in disguise as him to free the heroes of Red Hood's world. Unfortunately while Batman was away, Owlman was out smearing Batman's good name. Now every cop in Gotham is after him and so are his partners he's fought beside through all 12 episodes thus far. Just when his allies he's forced to fight against have him corned, he's saved. And that's when you see him, stepping out from the shadows, with a huge grin on his face. Ladies and gentleman, the Joker is in the house.

The wait for this guy was so totally worth it.

The costume Owlman wears to frame Batman
is the very first costume Batman wore in
the comics.

Deep Cover for Batman! and Game Over for Owlman! are a fine way to finish off this set. There are so many references to outside Batman lore it will make one's head spin. Red Hood, the Joker's evil counter part is an obvious homage to The Killing Joke. There's a scene where the Joker is trying to decide on what weapon to use when he pulls out a huge bazooka from his pants pocket. At one point Batman summons the Batmobile via remote control, stands in front of it and says "Stop," a scene straight out of 1989 Batman movie. A hilarious scene has the Joker running with a cartoon bomb for what seems like forever before it finally explodes. This set is packed with some great episodes, but these two are easily the pinnacle of them all.

With Andrea Ramno as the voice director, we are once again treated to some phenomenal voice work. As much as I adore Kevin Conroy's Batman voice, I don't have a problem with others taking on the role. Deidrich Bader was an excellent choice to voice Batman and I can't look at Silver Age Batman comics without hearing him in my head now. Jeff Bennett has long since been one of my favorite voice actors and does a terrific job as the voice of the Joker. He had me smiling every time he was on the screen. Being a huge fan of Batman Beyond, its always great to see Will Friedle back on DC animated show and I must say its kind of ironic to hear him as the voice of Blue Beetle.

After so many serious Batman cartoons over the years its nice to see this incarnation of the character get its due. Don't miss out on this series just because it isn't like Batman: The Animated Series. No Batman show is ever gonna top that one, but that doesn't mean other Batman shows can't be good. Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a fine addition to Batman's long animation history paying tribute to the Silver Age while still acknowledging the modern elements. Basically, this DVD set, while lacking any extras, is awesome.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Game Art #46: Misc Gallery

Time for another Misc Gallery on Game Art. That means art from various game series. Enjoy.

Unknown Artist
Unknown Artist
By SoupyTheOctopus
By TurnThePhage
By cuson
By Eiffel Art
By hounori

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Latest Purchases #32

Another month means another issue of Retro Gamer. I had no idea it was the 40th anniversary of Pong. Pong is one of those games that everyone has played. Basically, Pong was like the Tetris of it's day. Without Pong, well, the gaming industry wouldn't be what it is today. Should be a really good feature to read.

Nintendo Power Vol. 280. No surprise that the Wii U made the cover. What I'm really looking forward to reading up on, however, is the feature on New Super Mario Bros. 2. With the game releasing next month, I need to learn all that I can about this one.

The original Ape Escape is one of my favorite PSone games. I'd completely forgotten that it was ported to the PSP as a launch title in 2005 in Ape Escape: On the Loose. This was only $3.99 at fye and complete. I really should play through Ape Escape 2 and 3.

I have been loving the Sonic the Hedgehog comic since I picked it up again in 2009. The comic has been red hot as of the Sonic Genesis story arc. Mecha Sally, Antoine in a coma, Nagus as king, man, its getting to where I cannot wait for the next issue each month. As of #36 I started picking up Sonic Universe to help fill in some gaps as things were being referenced that I had no clue about. The Secret Freedom Fighters have been talked up a bit for months now and we finally get to see them all in action. 

Mega Man may not be seeing much action in games, but he's getting plenty of it in the comics. Part three of Spirtus Ex Machina we find out why Dr. Linda feels the way she does about giving robots souls and more of Dr. Wily's next plot is revealed. We also see more of Proto Man. Agh, I sooo want the next story arc to hit the shelves already.

And finally, there's that insanely cute Kirby plush. I've always wanted a Kirby plush. I was in fye killing time before work and I saw this thing in a pile of Sonic plush toys. I couldn't believe it. This is the first time I've ever seen a Kirby plushy in the USA. Every time I look at the thing I just wanna hug it. Hopefully there are plush toys for Meta Knight and Dedede as well.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Disc Read Error

I miss playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I miss playing Animal Crossing: City Folk. Why can't I play these two great Wii titles? This message says I can't.

These are games that I bought new. They have little in the way of scratches on them but apparently those minor scratches are just enough to prompt the above message. I did some checking and found out there were some problems with Brawl. It was a small percent of Brawl discs, but nonetheless, the disc read error message still popped up to annoy players. City Folk was working fine until one day, my Wii just stopped reading the disc.

Out of all the Wii games I own, these are the only two I've encountered this problem with. And again, these are games I bought new. I've purchased new games for my Wii that have some scratches and work perfectly fine. Heck, the Wii version of Twilight Princess is the most scratched game for the system I have and it plays fine. Is the Wii's laser just super sensitive on a select few games? I've been Brawless for months and my town in City Folk is probably  mess with weeds.

Both Brawl and City Folk are on the Nintendo Selects line so I can pick them up for bargain prices. But I shouldn't have to buy these games over again because my Wii wants to be fickle with them. I'd considered buying a cleaning kit, but again, the problem is just with these two games. I've tried cleaning both discs off, but still, the problem persists. Looks like I'll just have to buy Brawl and City Folk once more.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Favorite Tunes #17: Platform Themes

I have been basking in the wonders of the platform genre ever since I was a kid. Super Mario Bros. contains some of my earliest memories of gaming and it was the first platform that I ever played. I'd go on to experience the genre deeper with Sonic the Hedgehog, Crash Bandicoot and a plethora of other games. Platformers still remain one of my favorite genres.

Dark Ruins - Ape Escape (PSone)

Monkey business has never been more fun that it was with Ape Escape. It was the first game that required play with Sony's at the time new Dual Shock controller, which has become the standard for all Sony systems. The goal in Ape Escape is to well, catch those monkeys. These can be some crafty little critters. Some of theme even come at you touting machine guns so needless to say, they have no intention of getting themselves caught. One of my favorite platform games, Soichi Terada's music helped me get sucked into the world of Ape Escape all the more.

Betillia the Fairy - Rayman (PSone, SAT)

If you know a gamer that needs to have his or her ego checked, have them play the original Rayman. This game throws everything at you including the kitchen sink. Having said that, even after all these years, the first Rayman game looks and sounds positively gorgeous. Like Rayman Origins, you earned abilities by meeting up with fairies, but in this case it was a single fairy named Betilla, who was given what I can only say is one of the most relaxing, peaceful, soothing themes I've ever heard. I'd actually linger around her after she gave me my power-ups so I could keep listening to her theme.

Boulder Dash - Crash Bandicoot (PSone)

I remember renting the original Crash Bandicoot in 1996 and then buying it in 2000. Playing through the game all the way revealed just how challenging and sadistic it could be. Looking back, I'm amazed that I finished the game, even if I didn't do it 100%. What would become a trademark of the series was Crashing running away from boulders. Unlike Indian Jones, Crash had it far more rough. In these levels you actually ran towards the TV screen so it looked like you were playing the level backwards. The music piece that plays during these boulder assaults make these levels unforgettable.

Voltage Algorism - Pulseman (Genesis)

Never played Pulseman? Hope on the Wii's Virtual Console and download it. It's one of the best Genesis games that never saw a proper release outside of Japan. Developed by Game Freak, Pulseman takes you on a quest to stop your mad doctor father from surprise, surprise, taking over the world. There aren't a great deal of enemies to dispose of in the levels but this game was more about using Pulseman's unique electric abilities to navigate the stages.

Splash Down!! - Ristar (Genesis)  

I actually forgot to mention this one when I did Water Themes on Favorite Tunes. Developed by Sonic Team, Ristar shows of some of the best visuals the Genesis has ever seen. The audio is also quite exceptional. Splash Down!! is probably my favorite track in the whole game. The bubble sound effects are a very nice touch. This track was used in the excellent rom hack Sonic Megamix.

Cool Edge: Night - Sonic Unleashed (PS2, PS3, Wii, 360) 

Ask anyone what the worst part of Sonic Unleashed is and you'll get the same answer: the Werehog stages. While the Werehog is slow and combat boils down to mashing the buttons, I honestly don't find the Werehog that much of a chore to play with. If you've never played Sonic Unleashed, you may think the Werehog was given some rock themes to more match his appearance. In actuality, the Werehog themes are more laid back and I think these tracks are just as good as the day themes. I've always been fascinated by he spectacle that is the Northern Lights and it was great to see it in Holoska.

Bonus Level - Cool Spot (SNES, GEN)  

Cool Spot was one of those rare licensed games in the 16-bit era that actually did not suck. Tommy Tallarico composed the game's music and gave us the greatest bonus level music of all-time. Being in a 7Up bottle bouncing off bubbles was trippy but that bonus level music? I had to make sure I made it to the bonus level after every stage just so I could hear it. Since I know there are people that prefer one version over the other, the Genesis version is here.

Angry Aztec - Donkey Kong 64 (N64)  

Donkey Kong 64 soured me on platformers for sometime. It's overabundance of collecting was more than I could stand and after four worlds of it, I'd had enough. Be that as it may, I still adored its soundtrack. Angry Aztec is the token desert world of the game, which just so happens to have my favorite theme.

Castle Lololo - Kirby's Dream Land (GB)  

The first Kirby game is easily the shortest. With only five stages, it can be completed in under 30 minutes. But if you're looking for a true test of skill, you can play a much harder version of it upon completion. Despite the game's length, Kirby's Dream Land is home to some of the most memorable tunes of the whole series. One that gets overlooked is Castle Lololo. If you're a HAL buff, you may recognize the stage bosses of this level. That's Lolo and Lala, two characters from another HAL series.

Junk Galaxy - Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)  

There are many sights to behold in the vast galaxies of Super Mario Galaxy. But one that never ceases to amaze me is the endless sea of stars in Space Junk Galaxy. There would be times where I would stop and stare out into space while this lovely tune played. YouTube is often filled with stupid comments but Corybean1 wrote one of the most insightful things I've ever read.

"I think it's called Space Junk Galaxy because of the overall mood of the level. It is quiet and lonely. All this debris used to be something; a part of a ship or something significant. Now it is all in some remote, cold location in the universe. This wasn't a happy-go-lucky Mario level; it was slower, are much more fascinating than that. Calling it all "junk" helps amplify a sense of loneliness and abuse all this forgotten debris has gone through. That's what I think Space Junk Galaxy is." 

Well said, fellow gamer. Well said.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Latest Purchases #31

I ordered this on July 3 and didn't think it would come in the mail until a week later due to the 4th of July holiday. Much to my surprise, it arrived on Saturday. Sometimes standard shipping really is the best.

Being on the big Sonic kick that I am lately and thinking on my favorite Sonic games, I turned on the Dreamcast and popped in Sonic Adventure, a game I had not played since the summer of 2001. I had fond memories of that game and I was curious to see if I'd still viewed the game in the light now as I did then. Though I only played half way through as Sonic, the game was just as fun for me as it was nearly ten years ago.

One thing that bugged me is that my VMU memory unit data that I had for Sonic Adventure was completely gone. Which probably means all my other Dreamcast saved game data is also erased. I think I read in an issue of Retro Gamer that Sega used the same memory type storage for VMUs that they did for the Saturn, and the battery for that thing died out eons ago but thanks to an Action Replay that also works as a 4MB expansion, saving Saturn games is no longer a problem.

I never did get into Chao raising and wanting to preserve saved data for Sonic Adventure, I figured I may as well hunt down a copy of Sonic Adventure DX on the GameCube. Checking out Amazon, I was able to find a complete copy in very good condition. The GCN version does look sharper than the DC original but the game's framerate dips at times. I'm aware that it can be even more buggy the DC version but I've yet to encounter any major problems. It's really nice to explore Station Square and not have the theme music stop and start up again every time I enter a different area. That got on my nerves when I was replaying the DC version.

I have a ton of other games I'm working on. I still have reviews I need to post but I do plan to run through the GCN version of Sonic Adventure with all the characters. Yes, including Big the Cat, who I spent about 5 minutes playing as in the DC version years ago before I gave up. I'll probably get Sonic Adventure 2: Battle sometime soon. I once had that game but it got lost somehow. Strange since I never lose my games.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Favorite Tunes #16: SHMUP Themes

For those of you not in the known, SHMUP is short for shoot 'em up. You know, those games where you're flying in a ship and shoot stuff. Alternatively, we can also just call them shooters. One of my favorite genres since I was a kid, SHMUPs are the ultimate form of reflex gameplay. They also have some pretty kickin' tunes.

Dual Moon - Metal Black (ARC, SAT)

Being a fan of the Darius games, it was nice to play more of Taito's shooters. My first encounter with Metal Black was when picked up Taito Legends 2 for the PS2. It quickly became one of my favorite games on the collection. Metal Black's score was composed by the great Yasuhisa Watanabe and Dual Moon is the track I love the most from this game.

Sensation - Salamander II (ARC)

You could also call this game Life Force II since it's a sequel to the arcade game Life Force (the NES version of Life Force has quite a few differences). For years I had heard the music of this game but never played it. I was actually able to pick up the Salamander Deluxe Pack on the Saturn and if it's any indication, Saturn imports are going to be a key part of my library. As blasphemous as it may sound, I actually like Salamander II better than Life Force. If you finish the game it starts over again with remixed tunes of the original Salamander. Quite nice. Sensation is such a majestic piece of music. Salamander II has such an incredibly awesome score so this certainly won't be the last time I mention music from it here in Favorite Tunes.

Chase - Einhander (PSone)

Games like this make me wish Square Enix would think outside of the RPG box. Sure, it doesn't always pay off but with Einhander, we were given one of the best shooters on the PlayStation. The 2.5D graphics were quite stunning and the soundtrack was right on the money. You can actually hear this theme as early as the first level.

Colony - Axelay (SNES)

One of the earliest SNES games and still one of the most impressive both from and audio and visual standpoint, Axelay has aged remarkably well, showcasing some incredible mode-7 scrolling effects. At only five levels, you may find it shooter than most SHMUPs, but Axelay is still worth checking out. Many a great theme can be found in Axelay but Colony is probably the one that wows me more than any other.

Black Hole Anomalies - Space Megaforce (SNES)

Known as Super Aleste in Japan, this is a fantastic shooter from the defunct Compile. That company really knew how to make good SHMUPs and it kills me that they are no more. MUSHA saw a Virtual Console release (another game by Compile) and I really think a release for Space Megaforce is longer overdue. The entire soundtrack to this game is amazing but if I had to pick one theme from this one, Black Hole Anomalies is it.

Biophotron - G.Darius (ARC, PSone)

There have been numerous games released in the Darius series but this one ranks as my all-time favorite. The unique ability to capture enemies and have them fight at your side was a great innovation but playing tug-o-war with bosses using huge beams that would make the crew from Dragon Ball Z proud? Awesome! Each time I listen to Biophotron, I can clearly see that Petra-don from Zone B flying gracefully in the background.

Chapter 3: Faith - Ikaruga (ARC, DC, GCN, XBLA)

I wasn't into the import scene when Ikaruga saw a console release on the Dremcast but I made sure to pick it up when it released on the GameCube. Physical copies aren't easy to come by these days so I'm glade more players are getting able to experience this groundbreaking shooter through digital distribution. Even by SHMUP standards Ikaruga can be pretty freaking difficult. To this day, I still don't think I've earned an A rank on single stage.

Vertigo (Stage 5) - DoDonPachi Daifukkatsu (ARC)

I wouldn't feel right posting some of my fav SHUMP themes and not having a track from Manabu Namiki. Vertigo is the final stage of DoDonPachi Daifukkatsu. What's better than some good bass? This tune comes loaded with a healthy dose of slap bass goodness.