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Friday, March 29, 2013

Milky Way Wishes: A Kirby Super Star Tribute

In 2011, the impossible happened: Duke Nukem Forever was finally released. The first time I'd read about that game, I believe I was 16 or 17 years old. I don't think a game has ever had such a long development cycle. But after so many delays and cancellations, the game was finally released. What does that have to do with a Kirby album? Milky Way Wishes: A Kirby Super Star Tribute, an OverClocked Remix soundtrack was first announced eight years ago. On March 11, 2013 this album was at long last released. I would have mentioned this sooner, but I just found out about it because as was the case with Duke Nukem Forever, I thought this album to be dead and buried. This is another one of those times where I was so happy to have been wrong.

On the album's homepage, the director's share their thoughts and memories on piecing together this soundtrack. It turns out Arek the Absolute went through eight hard drive crashes, which resulted in the loss of some of the album material and greatly set the project back. There was also originally going to be a Flash storybook to go along with the album, but this was ultimately and unfortunately scrapped. So Milky Way Wishes is missing some music and that Flash storybook that probably would have all kinds of awesome. But Milky Way Wishes is still bursting at the seems with wonderful music and a whole lot of heart. Even with the loss of some goods, Milky Way Wishes is a fine album that any fan of OverClocked Remix arrangements and Kirby fans would do well to download.

As the name suggests, Milky Way Wishes is a tribute album to the SNES game Kirby Super Star, one of my and many fan's all-time favorite Kirby games. It's no secret that the game had some of the best music that the SNES sound chip could produce so if any game was worthy of getting an album tribute, it's Kirby Super Star. It's 2 discs and 23 tracks of arrange Kirby music goodness.

Contributing sound artists consist of Sixto Sounds, halc, PROTO-DOME, Insert Rupee, OverCoat and Ergosonic to name a few. Kirby no Nozomi (Milky Way Wishes) is the opening track of disc 1 is a lovely slow arrangement of the title theme of, you guessed it, Milky Way wishes and is an exceptional way to kick off the music. Welcome to the Galaxy (Milky Way Wishes Map) gives us our first dose of music with a healthy does of chiptune flavor, something I've come to love from the last few releases of OverClocked Remix albums. Much of  the tracks on this album are infused with some chiptunes and you won't catch me complaining. The Milky Way Wishes sub game had what is in my opinion, one of the best staff roll themes ever and Ergosonic's A Reminiscence (Staff Roll), which happens to be the final track of disc 1 does the original source track so much justice. It could easily be the best track on this album.

Moving on to disc 2, A Green Green Dedede (Great King Dedede's Theme, GREEN GREENS) combines two of everyone's favorite Kirby themes into a a rave tastic tune with some chiptune overtones. Considering both Green Greens and Dedede's Theme were originally chiptunes, I guess that kinda makes things come full circle. If we learned anything from Kirby's Return to Dream Land it's that heavy metal themes have a place in the Kirby world of music. The Savior of Dream Land (Coliseum Battle) is Sitxo Sounds sol contribution to this album and if you've heard his other OCR submitted tracks, you know your ears are going to be rocked clean off. Some people may take issues with So Easy (Great King Dedede's Theme), a rap version of Dream Land's self proclaimed king's theme with a heavy supply of  F-bombs but I myself found it pretty amusing. The last track, Ska Buffet (All You Can Eat: Dirt Version) is another track that isn't exactly family friendly and may not be what fans were expecting from a Gourmet Race remix.

There's a plethora of sexy artwork to go along with this album. More than 90 pieces of art are included when you download this album including pop art and sketches. From the looks of things, it seems like a lot of this art was going to be part of the ill-fated Flash storybook. The book may have died but at least the artwork work, or a great deal of it lives on. It's nice to look at all this artwork as you listen to the album.

As is the case with every ORC alum, Milky Way Wishes: A Kirby Super Star Tribute is totally free. It took a long time, and the finished product wasn't what the director's originally intended but what we got is a fine Kirby fan album and really, why nitpick about what isn't there when what we do have is this great?

Milky Way Wishes: A Kirby Super Star Tribute

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Favorite Tunes #52: Rise of the Machines

I LOVE robots. Mechs, humanoid robots, cyborgs, all of them are are just unprecedented levels of awesome. In the world of fiction, robots have played a vital roll in novels, cartoons, anime and even video games. This Favorite Tunes is centered around themes involving advanced robotics.

A Man of Artificiality - Tekken 2 (PS Arrange)

I love me some Tekken music but Namco's sound depeartment make some excellent remixes when the Tekken titles hit the home console. This is the arranged version of Jack 2's theme. It has a heavy industrial vibe to it with clear sounds of machinery going on in the background.

Robo's Theme - Chrono Trigger (SNES)

The year 2300 AD in Chrono Trigger is quite bleak. The world has suffered a crippling nuclear winter and the people that are left alive are just barely surviving. In such a grim world, Robo's upbeat theme was highly uplifting.

Dr. Wily Stage 1 - Mega Man (NES)

It isn't perfect but Mega Man's first outing gave way to one of Capcom's most beloved franchises. I espcially like that nearly every first Dr. Wily level starts out with Mega Man outside the mad doctor's fortress and has him making his way inside. This first Wily stage is quite devious and not just for the annoying boss that waits players at the end.

Level 5 - Super Bomberman (SNES)

You may not know it from playing the American version (it's story was only mentioned via manual) but the plot of Super Bomberman involves Black Bomberman being kidnapped and his specs being used as the basis for the bad guys to construct their own army of Mecha Bombermen. The first four levels of the game has you facing off with near screen sized bosses but when you reach Level 5, you face off against evil clones of Bomberman. If you're playing with a friend, then you've got more robot doubles to nuke. It's one big endurance round with each set of Mecha Bombermen growing stronger than the last.

Future World - Mega Man 10 (WW, PSN, 360)

By Cessa

Another Mega Man game makes the list? What can I say, I'm a huge fan and much of my love for robots stems from this series. When humans get sick, we usually rest. But robots? They go psycho and try to take over the world. Yeah, it's a hokey plot but who actually plays Classic Mega Man for a gripping tale? Future World is the second opening theme for Mega Man 10. Careful listeners have noticed that this tune was arranged for the final level in Wily's space station.

Theme of E-102 Gamma - Sonic Adventure (DC, GCN)

Dr. Robotnik has made some pretty interesting machines in his efforts to thwart Sonic and along with Metal Sonic and Mecha Sonic, E-102 Gamma is one of his better creations. He isn't the first of the doc's robots to gain sentience, but unlike Metal Sonic, E-102 Gamma is actually sane. Gamma' theme wasn't really what I was expecting when I originally heard it. Perhaps this was to show that he is vastly different from many of the other bots Eggman has built. I got a bit choked up when he was destroyed at the end of his story in Sonic Adventure.

Cell Ring - Super Dragon Ball Z (PS2) 

If ever a Dragon Ball Z game deserved a sequel it was Super DBZ. It was more of a fighting game than a DBZ game, which turned off some hardcore DBZ fans that were used to the Budokai and Budokai Tenkaichi games but the fighting was absolutely spot on. There was still plenty of DBZ staples like Super Saiyan transformations and huge chi style moves like the Kamehameha. Most of the characters truly felt different from one another which set it apart from more modern DBZ fighters. Rather than Majin Buu, Cell was the final opponent in the game's arcade mode, which was fine with me because Cell has always been my favorite DBZ big bad.

Fulgore - Killer Instinct (ARC)

Who's a scary looking robot with a ponytail? Fulgore, that's who. I never played the arcade version of either Killer Instinct but I did play the home console versions. The SNES version of KI was obviously scaled down compared to it's arcade cousin, but from my understanding, it was a competent port. That being said, the arcade sound of Fulgore's theme whales on the SNES version.

Fulgore - Killer Instinct Gold (N64)

What's this? More Fulgore? Why? Why not? Not only does Fulgore look menacing, but he's got an incredible heavy metal theme that helps make him one of the baddest bots in gaming. Crazy as it may seem, I honestly think the tools going off in the background all the best parts of this song.

Antarctica - Astro Boy: Omega Factor (GBA)

Arguably the most famous boy robot in the world, Astroy Boy's greatest game outing is on the GBA, developed by Treasure and Hitmaker. Your first time through Omega Factor will see Astro's first attempt to save the world end in failure, only to be given a second chance to set things right with the power of time travel via level select. Omega Factor is often praised for fusing so many solid action genres together like SHMUP levels and beat 'em up stages, but it also has a noteworthy soundtrack thanks to Treasure composer NON.

Favorite Tunes Database

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Latest Purchases #47

Another Latest Purchases post and no games to mention. But, I did get some sweet DVDs. I talk a lot about how great the 1980s were for animation and video games, but the '90s had some amazing cartoons as well. Darkwing Duck, one of of the best examples of a super hero parody represents some of Disney's best work in afternoon animation. Darkwing Duck Volume 2 collects another 27 episodes from this 91 episodes series. Some of my favorite episodes are contained in this set such as Life, the Negaverse and Everything, Disguise the Limit, Stressed to Kill, and Dead Duck. There's nothing in the way of extras on this set, as has been the case with every Disney Afternoon show on DVD that wasn't Gargoyles. Bit of a bummer but I'm glad I can watch DW in action whenever I please. Another bummer is that Disney has yet to release the remaining episoldes of Darkwing Duck on DVD, which is a notorious practice Disney seems to be fond of when it comes to it's old Disney Afternoon toons.

When Warner Bros. said they had no plans to release another DVD set of Tiny Toon Adventures after the two box sets that collected the first season, I was crushed. I lived and breathed this show when I was a kid so having an incomplete collection was heartbreaking. But about a month ago I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Vol. 3 was on the way! What's more, Vol. 4, which collects the final episodes of the series will be releasing in late May of this year. Thank you, Warner Bros! Vol. 3 collects some of the series most memorable episodes like Kon Ducki, Thirteensomething, and Elephant Issues the banned episode that has Buster, Plucky and Hampton getting drunk and getting into all kinds of trouble. Good stuff.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

DuckTales Remastered! Woo-hoo!

DuckTales was one of the best things to come from Disney. Even the NES game based off the show was solid and is fondly remembered to this day. Well it's been over 20 years but DuckTales on the NES is coming back a brand new paint job. Developed by Wayforward, DuckTales Remastered gives the NES classic new visuals and new content like new levels voice work from the original cast. It's a dream come true for DuckTales fans and I could not be anymore excited. You can read more on DuckTales Remastered here.

Come Summer 2013, DuckTales Remastered will be available on the eShop, PSN and XBLA.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Videos I Like #23: FF Tribute - Chocobo Mix

Ah, the Chocobo Theme. Such a joyous, upbeat, catchy tune. In November of 2001, Joe Redifier's Chocobo Robo Voice, a remix of Boko's Theme (Final Fantasy V) was posted on OverClocked Remix. It's a hilarious tribute to the Chocobo Theme and sums up a lot of Final Fantasy fans and gamers in general. Some might take offensive to some of the lyrics but those that do, probably have zero sense of humor. In July of 2002, LegendaryFrog's flash animation FF Tribute - Chocobo Mix was uploaded to New Grounds where it won the Daily Feature as well as the Weekly User's Choice award.  FF Tribute - Chocobo Mix uses Joe's Chocobo Robo Voice remix and goes along with FF Tribute like bread and butter. Seriously, this song and flash animation were made for each other. I haven't seen this flash animation or heard this song in years and I suddenly remember to look it up. Next thing I know, I'm giggling like a school girl.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Just When Did The Final Fantasy Series Go South?

No, this isn't some How-to-Fix-the-Final-Fantasy-Series article. It's a simple question, but one that I don't think has a simple answer. This series has long been defined by it's intricate plots, developed characters and moving musical scores. But the series also managed to distinguish itself from other RPGs by doing things differently in each game. A franchise that does that on a regular basis is bound to cause a major stir up in it's fanbase. But just where things started to go down varies greatly depending on whom you ask. Below is a brief rundown of a few Final Fantasy titles, each one doing something that didn't sit too well with the Final Fantasy audience.

Final Fantasy II

Final Fantasy II, the very first sequel set the trend for doing things differently did so in a very big way. For starters, Final Fantasy II was a sequel in name only. The Light Warriors from the original game where no where to be seen. You no longer selected your character classes and your party members were quite the talkative bunch. But the biggest alteration from the original was the complete removal of gaining levels. Instead, your characters statistical attributes increased based on your actions during battle. Use a lot of magic? Your characters will be on their way to being great mages. Prefer combat with weapons? Their physical attacks will deal out plenty of damage. Want to raise their HP? Let them get smacked around by the enemy a lot or target your own characters. Sounds simple enough, right? This radically different change didn't go over too well in Japan when Final Fantasy II was originally released in 1988 or when the game first came to American in 2003 in the compilation release of Final Fantasy Origins.

I personally don't think Final Fantasy II is a bad game. It reminds me a bit of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. It made big changes to an infant franchise. But with Zelda II, it's far more common to find people that really liked that game. When people mention their reasons for disliking Final Fantasy II, the stat system is the primary reason. If you don't know how to manage your stats, trying to make it through a dungeon can be a nightmare. Having high HP is essential for survival but at the same time, your party needs to be able to deal out big damage. It's a constant balancing act, one that can quickly grow tiresome. For this reason, Final Fantasy II is generally viewed as one of the low points in the series.

Final Fantasy V

Jobs. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. With Final Fantasy V, it is all about the Job System. Final Fantasy III may have been the first to introduce this system to the series, but Final Fantasy V is the game that really blew the doors off, making the Job System more complex and rewarding. If you're looking for a Final Fantasy title with some of the deepest gameplay system round, Final Fantasy V has it in spades. So why am I even mentioning it as a possible down point in the series? Final Fantasy V catches a lot of criticism for having a lackluster plot and some bland characters, though I'd never call Galuf, the coolest old guy in the entire series bland and I rather liked Bartz, and the gals. Heck, I enjoyed every time Exdeath was on the scene and he's got to be one of the most cliche villains in all of RPGs.

Final Fantasy V is listed here because it's one a very under appreciated game. Another reason it gets flack is for being one of the less serious Final Fantasy games. Oh sure, there are plenty of serious moments in the game, but some people have gone so far as to call Final Fantasy V a parody. It's a more lighthearted game, sure, but parody? That's a bit much. And really, what's wrong with a Final Fantasy game being more comical? Sometimes I think one of the biggest problems in games and the industry itself is that it gets so caught up in serious business that it forgets that games are about fun. The Sonic games were getting too serious for their own good with the plots. Sonic Colors had a story that didn't take itself seriously and it was one of the reasons the game was so good. I adore Final Fantasy V for being a game that isn't as serious or heavy as the other games in the series.

Final Fantasy VII

The game that brought JRPGs into the mainstream and made both Sony and Square a stupid amount of money. For lots of Final Fantasy fans that played Final Fantasy I-VI, Final Fantasy VII is seen as the true start of the decent for this series. And why is that? Because with this game, the series truly morphed into a juggernaut franchise. Suddenly, Final Fantasy was more popular than ever before and that made Final Fantasy VII and by extension, the series a sucky one. See, if more people are playing the Final Fantasy series, even more changes would have to be made to make the series more accessible to the wider audience. In this game, the number of party members was reduced to three and the slots for weapons and armor was greatly decreased as well, making management and understanding of weapons and armor far more simple. I honestly didn't mind this as it meant less stuff to buy. The new magic system came in the form of Materia, which could be equipped to any character and  allowed for plenty of broken combinations.

Along with the stunning pre-rendered backgrounds came what is possibly the most memorable spikey-haired  protagonist in RPGs and arguably video games as a whole, Cloud Strife. Cloud was packing a sword that was a huge as he was but suffered from an even bigger identity crisis than Terra Bradford from Final Fantasy VI. Cloud's mind was a freaking train wreck and even he wasn't sure why. We learn later that Cloud's broken mind stems from events that occurred before the game began and these events carried heavy ties to Sepiroth, the game's main antagonist and probably one of the most overrated characters in a video game. Sepirtoh starts out as a pretty haired mama's boy but for unexplained reasons when he comes back, he wants to hurt the planet and become a god. Why? It's never explained. Yeah, the dude's motivations are as clear as a tar pit. Yet, he's worshiped as the best villain of the the series and his only claim to fame is burning a town to the ground, killing nearly everyone in said town, killing Aerith and playing mind games with Cloud. I'll give Sephy props for looking cool but a good appearance alone does not make for a compelling foe, especially when compared to other big bads in this series.

Cloud sorted out his memories and was able to become himself again and was a much better character in the game after that. But subsequent appearances in sequels and spinoffs have made Cloud a brooding, load bearing hero that gets the emo label. Apparently  Square Enix didn't think we'd recognize Cloud unless he was always being weighed down some some emotional trauma. And Sepiroth can't seem to stay dead and is oh so great because his sword is ridiculously long. The Final Fantasy series has been milked like a farm full of cows but Square Enix milked Final Fantasy VII more than any other game and poor Betsy is screaming that she can't take anymore.

Final Fantasy VII, was initially praised upon it's release but these days it's frowned upon for moving away from it's fantasy roots and having a vastly overrated bad guy. While I do think Final Fantasy VII is overrated, it certainly isn't a game I hate by any means and isn't the destroyer of the franchise that some fans would lead you to believe.

Final Fantasy VIII

Two words: Junction System. This is one of the biggest, if not the biggest beefs anyone that has played Final Fantasy VIII has. You can draw spells from enemies to junction them to your characters stats, increasing whatever stat you junctioned that group of spells to. Problem is, the Junction System is very complicated. That long explanation that Qustis gives the player early in the game was so much to take in and only made players scratch their heads even more. Because most players don't know how to use the Junction System, most fights are spent summoning the GFs, which just makes battles drag on and on. Junction the right spells to your characters and you won't even need to summon GFs during battles.

Squall Lionheart = emo. This term gets thrown around so much when discussing Final Fantasy VIII's main star. He's aloof, a loner and has trusts no one because he was abandon as a child. Rinoa, his love interest makes a better man out of him later in the game, but Squall is always remembered for being the king of angst.

Final Fantasy VIII certainly wasn't a flawless game. The Junction System can be hard to grasp and lots of people disliked Squall because he was the opposite of the protagonist in the next game. But it certainly isn't the awful game that so many claim it is. And speaking of Final Fantasy IX...

Final Fantasy IX

I'm sure more than a few fans are puzzled to see this game being mentioned here. After all, Final Fantasy IX was a return to the series fantasy roots. The modern day, futuristic settings of the last two games were 86'd in favor of a world that favored the first six games. Four member parties returned and for the first time since Final Fantasy VI, character classes actually mattered. For a number of fans, this is seen as "the last good Final Fantasy." But for all of these throwbacks, that isn't a belief I can really get behind. In fact, I think the thing that holds Final Fantasy IX back is that it's trying way too hard to be like past games.

When it was announced that Mega Man 9 was in development in the summer of 2008 and that it would be like the NES games, the fandom rejoiced. As more and more news of the game came down the pipeline, it was revealed that Mega Man 9 would be a lot like Mega Man 2, removing Mega Man's slide and charged Mega Buster shot. My main gripe with Mega Man 9 outside of going out of it's way to kill the player with too many spikes, was that it felt like it was trying too hard to be another Mega Man 2, right down to using many of said game's jingles. A lot of fans were happy to see the return of 8-bit Mega Man, but there were many that felt this was stifling the growth of Classic Mega Man.

Having said that, I enjoyed Final Fantasy IX, but not on the same levels that I did VII and VIII. Those games propelled the series forward. IX was a good game but it still felt like it was two giant steps backwards. It tread so much familiar territory that instead of taking risks like each successive game did, IX felt like it was playing it safe.

"But, but! It's setting was just like the NES and SNES games!"

And? If setting alone made for the greatest Final Fantasy ever, than no one would be bothered by II's controversial stat system.

Had Final Fantasy IX been developed as a spin-off game as originally intended, it probably would be better remembered. Granted, it isn't remembered badly because again, it's a good game. It's just a game that's remembered for being a Final Fantasy game that's like the earlier ones and that's actually the biggest strike against it.

Final Fantasy X

The first Final Fantasy game for the PS2 and the first to use voice acting. Whether you think the addition of voice work was a wise decision or not, it did help characters like Auron seem a lot cooler and it gave us one of the most awkward laughing scenes in the history of video games.

In changing things up once more, Final Fantasy X ditched the ATBS (Active Time Battle System) that was present from IV-IX. You had all the time in the world to plan your attacks without worry of be slapped from the enemies in front of you. You can even switch out your party members in the middle of battle. Nice. The Sphere Grid let you decide just how you wanted to level up your characters. A change on this grand a scale hadn't been implemented since Final Fantasy II. Pretty ballsy, Square.

Along with some dubbing issues, Final Fantasy X gets a lot of flack for being so incredibly liner. A world map? It doesn't exist in Final Fantasy X. Want to go to another town? Simply move the cursor to the desired location and presto, you're there. I really wasn't bothered too much by this, since it did cut down on the random battles but it irked more than a few players.

Hironobu Sakaguchi & Nobuo Uematsu's Depature

These two men have been very important figures to the legacy that is Final Fantasy. What was once thought to be a final game, saved Square from financial ruin and kept Sakaguchi from quitting game development and going back to college. The last Final Fantasy that had any development involvement from Sakaguchi was Final Fantasy XI and some have sighted his absence as one of the factor's to the series going down the toilet. But since there are plenty of fans that don't care for numerous Final Fantasy titles where he was involved, Sakaguchi's presents by no means gauntness a smashing success.

Nobuo Uematsu has composed music for the series with the first eleven games. Final Fantasy XII was the first game in the series to have a soundtrack where Uematsu was not involved. Final Fantasy XII gets a lot of hate, but much like Final Fantasy XIII, you don't find too many fans saying bad things about the soundtrack. Hitoshi Sakimoto was the lead composer for Final Fantasy XII's soundtrack while Masahi Hamauzu wrote the music for Final Fantasy XIII. Yet as great as these soundtracks are, I've heard outlandish claims that the Final Fantasy series fell off because Uematsu hasn't been there to compose the music. I'm a big fan of Uematsu's work, but many of my favorite tracks from Final Fantasy X are tracks that were written by Hamauzu and Junya Nakano. Would the music for XII and XIII have been amazing had Uematsu wrote it? Probably, but even without him, those games had outstanding music. Besides, if Hamauzu weren't there for XIII, we never would have gotten Blinded By Light, what I personally feel is the best normal battle theme of the entire series.


As I said earlier, I don't think there's any distinct point for when the Final Fantasy Series went south. Plenty of entries did things to alienate players like an oddball stat system, hokey love stories, pretty boy villains with unclear motivations and so forth. I didn't mention Final Fantasy XII and XIII because I've never played those but they get way more negative attention than any other game I've mentioned here. Just when this series went down the tubes is anyone's guess but plenty of games before XII and XIII are far from spotless.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Videos I Like #22: All Your Base Are Belong to Us

I'm sure that anyone that plays video games either core or casually has heard of this phrase: All Your Base Are Belong to Us. This is actually a mistranslated line from the Genesis game Zero Wing, which can be seen in all it's glory in the game's intro. While horribly translated, it has gone on to become one of gaming's biggest internet memes and ranks right up there with "Thank You Mario, but our princess is in another castle."

In 2001, Bad-CRC at New Grounds made the hilarious All Your Base video that pays homage to the famous quote. I must say, that music is pretty tight. Zero Wing is actually a side scrolling SHMUP, but most people remember the game or have heard of it thanks to the All Your Base line. Most gamers would have a fit if All Your Base Are Belong to Us was actually translated correctly. Kind of like How "You Spoony Bard" has always been kept in whenever Final Fantasy IV is released.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Favorite Tunes #51: Like a Boss

Another day, another edition of Favorite Tunes and this time it's boss themes. I could easily go beyond the usual 10 for something like this, but since I already did that for Favorite Tunes #50, I'll just stick with the usual number. Enjoy!

Sonic meets Chaos at the very start of his quest. As Sonic and Tails collect Chaos Emeralds, Dr. Robotnik, thanks to the duo's cut scene incompetence, acquires all of the hero's emeralds and feeds them to Chaos. With each Chaos Emerald gets, Chaos grows stronger. Chaos ver. 6, at this point has 6 Chaos Emeralds and you'd think the fight with the creature would be incredibly tough but in truth, he shatters like glass. Even so, the boss theme for this fight is one of the sickest boss beats in a Sonic game. Do I hear some Mission Impossible in this theme? 

Some players encountered their first SNK Boss in an SNK game. For me, it was Street Fighter II. I can't count how many loses this guy handed me. He wasn't the boss of the Street Fighter IV series but he did make a return and thanks to voice of Gerald C. Rivers, he seems more intimidating than ever.

Before there was Square Enix there was just Square and Enix. 1998 saw a large number of releases from Square, and many of those games weren't Final Fantasy titles. Einhänder is a fondly remembered shooter from the PS era that allowed the player to choose which type of ship or different Einhänder models they wish to pilot. The 2.5D gameplay and visuals made for some pretty impressive stuff as did the soundtrack. The voice samples in Shudder actually contains an F-bomb but the raping is done so fast that not everyone picks up on it in the first listen. That and I image most players are trying to stay alive since this game has some pretty ruthless bosses.

K.O.! The Strongest Foe - Bangai-O (DC)

Bangai-O was first released on the N64 but had a limited print run of only 10,000 copies. Not only that, the N64 version was only released in Japan, which makes it one of the toughest N64 carts to obtain. The Dreamcast version saw a worldwide release, making it the best option to play the original Bangai-O. Being a game developed by Treasure, it has that unique charm and innovation that are associated with nearly all of it's games. It can also get pretty difficult as I got stuck after passing only the first few levels. Regardless of the steep challenge, it's a fantastic mech shooter with a memorable number of upbeat themes. K.O.! The Stongtest Foe is the final boss tune so it's naturally more serious than other tracks.

Burn Yourself - Dodonpachi DAI-OU-JOU (ARC, PS2, 360)

Yet another shooter by Cave with a score by Manabu Namiki and a game that I've never played. This is the fourth game in the DonPachi series and I'd considered importing the PS2 version but I've never been able to find a copy. Namiki sans composes incredible music and I absolutely love his titles for boss tracks. Seriously, you can't anymore menacing than a name like Burn Yourself.

Moskito - Rayman (JAG, PS, SAT, PC)

I was rather surprised to discover that Rayman Origins, one of the best platformers in the current generation of gaming had heavy dose of Nintendo Hard. If the game ketp track of all the lives lost, I can imagine my death toll would be insanely high. The original Rayman was no walk down the street and is by far the tougher game. But even intermediate level players should be able to make it to Moskito and hear his rocking theme.

Battle with the Boss - Kirby Super Star (SNES, DS)

My second favorite Kirby game, Kirby Super Star's eight mini games offer so much to do that's almost not fair to call them mini games. Collecting all the treasures in The Great Cave Offensive can take hours and as can finding all the Copy Abilties in Milky Way Wishes. I've never completed this game 100% though I've come awfully close.

Femmes Fatales - Parasite Eve (PS)

Opera in your boss battles? Eh, sure, why not? Although if you went to the opera and the entire audience around your burst into flames, you might be scared off from ever going to an opera for the rest of the life. But Aya Bre doesn't let this faze her (too much) In fact, after everything she's been through in the game, she's seen at the opera during the game's finale.

Dr. Wily Stage Boss - Mega Man 7 (SNES)

"The sprites are too big! The music isn't as good as the 8-bit games!" Meh, to all of that noise. I  still love Mega Man 7. We got Bass, Treble, a memorable (if not controversial) ending and in my humble opinion, a great set of tunes. I still say this is one of the better Wily Stag Boss themes. Come on, Capcom, how about a Virtual Console release?

Andross - Star Fox (SNES)

After a short (but very dangerous) trek through the Lylat System, you come Arwing to face with Andross. Yes, the big bad threatening the galaxy with a genius intellect is a primape. Said monkey tries to inhale you and shoots polygonal rectangles your way. It's quite the gripping fight and one that still makes me sweat even today.

Favorite Tunes Database

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Latest Purchases #46

This is actually a combination of stuff I bought with this week's paycheck and last week's paycheck. I meant to post the stuff from last week sooner, but I just never got around to it. Better late than never.

It's the latest issue of Retro Gamer, Load 112. Among other things, this issue has a special feature about the 30 greatest power-ups in gaming. Some of the power-ups that made the list are the Bomb Kick from the Bomberman series, the Spread Gun from the Contra games, the Red Shell from Mario Kart and the Gravity Gun from Half-Life 2. That's only what I've seen from a quick look. I can't wait to really dig into this feature.

Superman Family Adventures is the only Superman comic I'm reading as I continue to avoid DC Comics and most mainstream comics in general. As the spirtutal successor to Tiny Titans (R.I.P.) it hits a lot of the same notes, paying homage to numerous incarnations of the Superman mythos and has a good flow of continuity from issue to issue. One of Superman's most classic foes Brainiac appears here. If not for Superman: The Animated Series, I wouldn't have a clue who Brainiac was.

I missed the third issue in the Chaotix storyline in Sonic Universe and I'm kicking myself for it. The Chaotix are some of my favorite characters in the Sonic world and I was delighted to see them get a story centered on the group. There was even mention of the famous computer room line from Vector. Several times.

I didn't have the money to pick up Mega Man #22 at the time so I read this issue in the store. And it had me in stitches. Ice Man can't seem to catch a break in wooing Roll and Roll's attempts to get Mega Man together with Quake Woman fall flat. Dr.Light even explains how and why he programmed his creations to feel love.

This is the second Sonic Super Digest I've picked up and I still haven't finished reading the first one. These digest books collect older material from the Sonic comics as well as some more recent storylines. This one has Sonic and Knuckles going at it and they even take on their Super forms.

The Art of War. A book I've heard about and was told to read by one of my old managers at work. Looking through it, it seems a bit different from what I'd originally had in mind. Althought I'm not really sure what I was thinking to expect from this book but it seems more about planning and battle strategies, which is fine and it sounds like it will make a good read. It cost me less than $8 at Barns & Nobles. And thus my collection of books continues to grow.

That wraps up the stuff I bought from last week. The only thing I got this week was Wreck-It Ralph on Blu-Ray + DVD. I watched the movie with my nieces and it is an amazing film. Not just for it's gaming focus but for the story it tells. Seriously, I LOVE this movie and I'll go into further detail as to why when I review it. And watch it again.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lovin' What I Got

"Worst generation of gaming ever."

This is a claim that is thrown around quite frequently. I've seen it in message board posts and on YouTube videos. With the rising cost of game development, ridiculous methods of downloadable content (or DLC in general), gamers have made it no secret that there is plenty about the current generation of gaming that makes it arguably the worst ever. I admit that this generation of gaming hasn't been perfect. But really, which one has? Even the fondly remembered 16-bit era had more than it's fair share of grievances that made it irksome. But imperfect as current gen gaming my be, like so many generations of gaming gone by, there is much that I want to play.

Little Big Planet 2, one of the many PS3 games
I'd love to play but can't.

The PlayStation 3 has a truckload of games. Little Big Planet 1-2 has an insane amount of customization features in addition to being topnotch platformers. 3D Dot Game Heroes looks like a wonderful union of The Legend of Zelda and LEGOs. Metal Gear Rising Revengeance sounds like one of the best action titles 2013. Those are just a few of the many worthwhile games on platform available in physical form. The PlayStation Network has a plethora of arcade original PlayStation games I could download and occupy the systems hardrive space with, including some Japanese only titles.

There's no such thing as too much Mario.

Problem is, I can't play all the games I really want to. I'm lacking a key ingredient needed to get my game on with the PS3 and PSP: cash. The flow of green isn't nearly what it used to be and money is tight enough as it is.

"But Reg, you outta have a PS3 and PSP by now! Those systems have been out since forever!"

True, both those Sony platforms have been on the market for some time now, long enough to see a few price drops. The PS3 is $250 brand new and I could probably get a new PSP for $100. Why the PSP and not the Vita? I've already built up a medium sized library of PSP games and since Sony screwed up backwards compatibility on the Vita so I could easily play PSP games on PSP for cheeper. If I had a PSP, that is.

I really can't afford to spend $100 on gaming every time I get paid. I have bills to pay and that takes top priority over new systems and such. That being said, I can still get my gaming fix on the systems that I do own. My 3DS has provided me with countless hours of gaming entertainment. Thanks to Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, I play my 3DS on a daily basis. The Wii never collects dusts because it's constantly being used. If not by my nieces, then by me. I have a huge library of Wii games with more titles that I need to pick up. I still haven't started Skyward Sword, Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, Punch-Out!!, Sin & Punishment: Star Successor, Wario Land: Shake It! and the list goes on and on.

The PS2, one of my favorite gaming systems, is still hooked up. Why am I mentioning something from last generation? Well, I still play the thing. I have a library of over 100 PS2 games, many of which I sadly, haven't finished or even started. And with the PS2's backwards compatibility (unlike the Vita, they didn't screw this one up), I can fire up PS games like  Einhander or Final Fantasy Origins.

As much as I want to play New Super Mario Bros. U, and explore Miiverse, I just can't right now. It isn't easy to hear about all the stuff others are playing that I'm not able to, but I'll just have to be content with what I do have. And I happen to have a lot. So much that, I'm never really bored.

What about you? Do you only have a 360 to game on? Is it still working? If the thing hasn't red ringed on you, that's something to be thankful for. If you're doing your gaming on an NES, way to keep the retro spirit alive. Bottom line, as long as you're gaming, that's all that matters. Appreciate the system or systems you do have to game on.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Stuff is Awesome. AKA Japan Gets All the Goods Stuff.

Despite the recent turns this series has taken, I'm still a Final Fantasy fan. I don't blindly follow Square Enix and defend every single decision the make, but I'll always have a place in my heart for those two special Fs. You know what's even better than being a Final Fantasy fan? Being a Final Fantasy fan that lives in Japan. Square Enix Rolled out the red carpet for the series big 25th anniversary in 2012 and all the merchandise for the series' big birthday just makes me all the more envyous that they only way to obtain any of it is by means of import. Yeah, I'm late discussing this stuff. Don't look at me like that.

Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Ultimate Box

Now this is a RPG compilation dream. The Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Ultimate Box collects Final Fantasy I-XIII on the PlayStation, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 format. Final Fantasy I-II & IV-IX are on PS discs, Final Fantasy III on a PSP UMD disc, Final Fantasy X-XII on PS2 dics, while Final Fantasy XIII is on a PS3 disc. Each game disc is coated in Yoshitaka Amano's gorgeous artwork with a character from each respective game. The comes come packaged in their own spiffy cases, too. Amano also drew a lovely piece the features the numerous main protagonists of each Final Fantasy title that comes with a stand for you to display to all your jealous friends. There's also a splendid hardcover art book with tons of artwork throughout the series, including delicious pieces from Amano. As if that weren't enough, included is 25th anniversary video, a 2-disc music compilation with various themes from the series. I'd have made the music collection disc bigger, but that's just me.

I already own most of these games (except XI-XIII) a few times over, but it's still a very sexy collection with some intriguing bonuses. Though I do find the absences of the NES versions of Final Fantasy I-III a little jarring. I'm fine with the PS and PSP remakes, but you'd think the originals would be included. Oh well. The price for this baby isn't cheap either. Last I checked, you could pay $500 or more. Ouch.

Final Fantasy 25th Memorial Ultimania 

You can never have too much video game artwork. If you thought the art book from the Ultimate Box was good, the Final Fantasy 25th Memorial Ultimania books sound even better. There's an indepth look at the art from the Final Fantasy series. Characters, locations, it's all here. Someone on YouTub was kind enough to post a huge video on these books alone. It's very much worth a look if you've got 34 minutes to kill.

There were a few 25th anniversary games released, the most noteworthy being Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, which is a great game. But it was one of the few 25th anniversary gifts we got. Japan gets goodies like the above all the time. Us gamers in America and Europe aren't so lucky and don't even get me started on those import prices. The odds of the Memorial Ultimania books being translated and released in English are slim. There was also a slew of albums released that, like the the Ultimate Box and Memorial Ultimania stayed in Japan. Sucks, but that's just the way it is. If I had a disposalable income, I might be able to afford this stuff. As it stands, I'll have to celebrate the series 25th anniversary in my own way. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Favorite Tunes Database

Taking a cue from Super Philip Central, I've decided to throw all of my Favorite Tunes posts into one neat archive, which I call the Favorite Tunes Database. For the uninitiated, Favorite Tunes are posts about video game music tracks that I'm quite fond of. Here, every single Favorite Tunes post can be accessed easily. From the humble beginnings where I was trying to find the best way to handle this feature, all the way up to now, it's all here.

Favorite Tunes #234: Crude for You
Favorite Tunes #233: An SNK Kinda Day
Favorite Tunes #232: The Slugfest
Favorite Tunes #231: Just How Do You Pronounce "Ys"?
Favorite Tunes #230: Ultimate Smashing
Favorite Tunes #229: Not Castlevania
Favorite Tunes #228: Cut Short
Favorite Tunes #227: In the Wind
Favorite Tunes #226: Mango
Favorite Tunes #225: Some Techno Soft Love
Favorite Tunes #224: Industria
Favorite Tunes #223: ZUNTATA
Favorite Tunes #222: To Be This Good Takes SEGA
Favorite Tunes #221: Body Rock
Favorite Tunes #220: By the Power of Friendship
Favorite Tunes #219: Fast Lane
Favorite Tunes #218: Inkwell Isle One
Favorite Tunes #217: Hype Boss Music is Hype
Favorite Tunes #216: Raging in the Streets
Favorite Tunes #215: That's a Big Duty
Favorite Tunes #214: Anime Edition
Favorite Tunes #213: Yes, it is a JoJo Reference 
Favorite Tunes #212: Space Cuba, Here We Come!
Favorite Tunes #211: X Marks the Spot
Favorite Tunes #210: The Snowman Cometh
Favorite Tunes #209: 2017 Was Really Something
Favorite Tunes #208: Insert Your Christmas Themed Title Here
Favorite Tunes #207: Rusty Bucket Bay
Favorite Tunes #206: Trouble Maker
Favorite Tunes #205: Chillest Game Over Music Ever
Favorite Tunes #204: The Most Adorable Little Robot
Favorite Tunes #203: Join the Uprising
Favorite Tunes #202: Grand Odyssey
Favorite Tunes #201: Rise From Your Grave
Favorite Tunes #200: Towards Another 200 Favorite Tunes #199: Back in Action
Favorite Tunes #198: The End of Summer
Favorite Tunes #197: To Be This Good Takes Ages
Favorite Tunes #196: Brought to You by the Letter S
Favorite Tunes #195: Flashback
Favorite Tunes #194: The Platform Boys are Back in Town
Favorite Tunes #193: Surf Punks
Favorite Tunes #192: Hard Road
Favorite Tunes #191: Soy Sauce for Geese
Favorite Tunes #190: Sunday Jams
Favorite Tunes #189: Crashback
Favorite Tunes #188: Summer Time Calls for Summer Jams
Favorite Tunes #187: Let's Do the Odyssey
Favorite Tunes #186: Sounds Fishy
Favorite Tunes #185: Space Mode
Favorite Tunes #184: Rave Your Racers
Favorite Tunes #183: Wonder Wild Tetris
Favorite Tunes #182: It's a Trap!
Favorite Tunes #181: Angry Gravekeepers
Favorite Tunes #180: Let's Assault the Base to Happy Music
Favorite Tunes #179: Mostly Old School Saturday
Favorite Tunes #178: Blast From the Past
Favorite Tunes #177: Synthetic Life
Favorite Tunes #176: We're Back
Favorite Tunes #175: Flashback
Favorite Tunes #174: Going Commando
Favorite Tunes #173: Clash on the Big Bridge
Favorite Tunes #172: Tipping the Scales
Favorite Tunes #171: Fake Mermaids that are Fake
Favorite Tunes #170: 2017 is Here
Favorite Tunes #169: End of the Journey
Favorite Tunes #168: Christmas Time is Here Again
Favorite Tunes #167: Rise the Curtain
Favorite Tunes #166: Vroom Vroom
Favorite Tunes #165: Battle Against a True Hero
Favorite Tunes #164: Racing Monkeys
Favorite Tunes #163: Election Day Eve
Favorite Tunes #162: Bonus Edition
Favorite Tunes #161: Paint the Town
Favorite Tunes #160: Here Comes a New Challenger 
Favorite Tunes #159: Rise of the Super Heroes
Favorite Tunes #158: The Rain Has Come
Favorite Tunes #157: The King Has Returned
Favorite Tunes #156: 16-Bit Power
Favorite Tunes #155: Tide Goes Out
Favorite Tunes #154: Sophia
Favorite Tunes #153: Hot Summer Days
Favorite Tunes #152: So Long Splatfest
Favorite Tunes #151: Tomorrow is Mine
Favorite Tunes #150: Stay Determined
Favorite Tunes #149: They Call Me Sonic
Favorite Tunes #148: Kirby Gets a Robot
Favorite Tunes #147: Hopes and Dreams
Favorite Tunes #146: Short and Sweet
Favorite Tunes #145: Pokemon Walk into a Club
Favorite Tunes #144: Robots and Fish
Favorite Tunes #143: Welcome Back, Star Fox
Favorite Tunes #142: After April Fools
Favorite Tunes #141: Spring Has Sprung
Favorite Tunes #140: Wild West
Favorite Tunes #139: Cerulean City
Favorite Tunes #138: Train On
Favorite Tunes #137: Like the Wind
Favorite Tunes #136: Marionation Gear
Favorite Tunes #135: Happy Hedgehog Day
Favorite Tunes #134: Serene Weather
Favorite Tunes #133: Winter is Upon Us
Favorite Tunes #132: 'Sup, 2016?
Favorite Tunes #131: Farewell, 2015
Favorite Tunes #130: Happy Birthday, Mega Man
Favorite Tunes #129: Chinese Takeout
Favorite Tunes #128: Underground Jazz
Favorite Tunes #127: Transform and Rock Out
Favorite Tunes #126: Critical Hit
Favorite Tunes #125: If You Build It, They Will Come
Favorite Tunes #124: Earn Your Ending
Favorite Tunes #123: Better, Faster, Stronger
Favorite Tunes #122: Welcome to Our Town
Favorite Tunes #121: Cute Witches and Adorable Frogs
Favorite Tunes #120: Dedicated To Satoru Iwata
Favorite Tunes #119: Boys of Summer
Favorite Tunes #118: After E3 2015 Edition
Favorite Tunes #117: Genesis Does
Favorite Tunes #116: Schools Out
Favorite Tunes #115: That SNES Sound Chip
Favorite Tunes #114: Play it Loud
Favorite Tunes #113: Can You Feel the Sunshine
Favorite Tunes #112: May Flowers
Favorite Tunes #111: April Showers
Favorite Tunes #110: Days of SEGA Gone By
Favorite Tunes #109: Spring is Here
Favorite Tunes #108: The End is Nigh
Favorite Tunes #107: Block Dropin' Beats
Favorite Tunes #106: Playing it by Ear
Favorite Tunes #105: Column Dive
Favorite Tunes #104: Happy New Year
Favorite Tunes #103: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Favorite Tunes #102: Settle it in Smash
Favorite Tunes #101: Nintendo Hype Train Edition
Favorite Tunes #100: Mega Man Rocks, Man
Favorite Tunes #99: Darkness, Clubs and Shovels?
Favorite Tunes #98: It's Dangerous to Go Alone
Favorite Tunes #97: Getting Hyped for Super Smash Bros.
Favorite Tunes #96: Wario Time
Favorite Tunes #95: Sonic Boom
Favorite Tunes #94: Do the Mario
Favorite Tunes #93: Chiptuning it Up
Favorite Tunes #92: Summer Time
Favorite Tunes #91: Welcome to Mario Kart!
Favorite Tunes #90: Sparking! Ka-Me-Ha-Me-HA!
Favorite Tunes #89: On Like Donkey Kong
Favorite Tunes #88: Special Stage
Favorite Tunes #87: Yoko Shimomura Edition
Favorite Tunes #86: Happy Happy, Joy Joy
Favorite Tunes #85: Green Greens
Favorite Tunes #84: Mario World of Sports
Favorite Tunes #83: Tear Jerker
Favorite Tunes #82: Tekken Edition
Favorite Tunes #81: Exploring the Overworld
Favorite Tunes #80: Turn it Up! Get Down!
Favorite Tunes #79: Celebrate Good Times, Come On!
Favorite Tunes #78: A Wonderful Christmas Time
Favorite Tunes #77: You Got Boost Power!
Favorite Tunes #76: Girls, Girls, Girls, Girls
Favorite Tunes #75: FINAL BATTLE
Favorite Tunes #74: Wind Waker 10th Anniversary Edition
Favorite Tunes #73: What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse
Favorite Tunes #72: Got to Be a Star
Favorite Tunes #71: A Day at the Races
Favorite Tunes #70: The Year of Luigi
Favorite Tunes #69: Ninjas Rule
Favorite Tunes #68: Don't Stop Believin'
Favorite Tunes #67: Maximum Pink
Favorite Tunes #66: Hail to the Koopa King
Favorite Tunes #65: Fear Factory
Favorite Tunes #64: Random Waltz
Favorite Tunes #63: I'm Up for Anything
Favorite Tunes #62: Sonic 22nd Anniversary
Favorite Tunes #61: E3 2013 Get Hyped Edition
Favorite Tunes #60: Lethal Lava Land
Favorite Tunes #59: Take to the Sky
Favorite Tunes #58: Summer Days
Favorite Tunes #57: Villain's Stronghold
Favorite Tunes #56: Rocking Out
Favorite Tunes #55: Greed, Gears & Tiny Critters
Favorite Tunes #54: Those Other Games from Square Enix
Favorite Tunes #53: Beat 'Em Up Edition
Favorite Tunes #52: Rise of the Machines
Favorite Tunes #51: Like a Boss
Favorite Tunes #50: Final Fantasy Battle Edition
Favorite Tunes #49: Opening & Title Theme Edition
Favorite Tunes #48: Living in the City
Favorite Tunes #47: Love Edition
Favorite Tunes #46: OutRun Edition
Favorite Tunes #45: Anything Goes
Favorite Tunes #44: Grand Finale
Favorite Tunes #43: Girls Bravo
Favorite Tunes #42: Winter is Here
Favorite Tunes #41: Give Capcom Some Love Edition
Favorite Tunes #40: Metroid Edition
Favorite Tunes #39: Whatever I Feel Like Edition
Favorite Tunes #38: RPG Edition
Favorite Tunes #37: Super Smash Bros. Edition
Favorite Tunes #36: Other Nintendo Games Edition
Favorite Tunes #35: Sit Down & Relax / Get Down Edition
Favorite Tunes #34: Horror Edition
Favorite Tunes #33: Boss Themes
Favorite Tunes #32: Platform Edition
Favorite Tunes #31: Mario Ending & Staff Roll Themes
Favorite Tunes #30: Mega Man Edition
Favorite Tunes #29: Zelda Edition
Favorite Tunes #28: Konami Edition
Favorite Tunes #27: Square Enix Edition
Favorite Tunes #26: Music From Nintendo Games
Favorite Tunes #25: Misc Themes
Favorite Tunes #24: Mario Kart Edition 
Favorite Tunes #23: Music from SEGA Games
Favorite Tunes #22: SNES Music
Favorite Tunes #21: Misc Themes
Favorite Tunes #20: Kirby Themes
Favorite Tunes #19: Racing Themes
Favorite Tunes #18: Fighting Themes
Favorite Tunes #17: Platform Themes
Favorite Tunes #16: SHMUP Themes
Favorite Tunes #15: Mario Themes
Favorite Tunes #14: Arranged Themes
Favorite Tunes #13: Fire Themes
Favorite Tunes #12: Sonic Themes
Favorite Tunes #11: Water Themes
Favorite Tunes #10: Select/Menu Themes
Favorite Tunes #9: Tutorial Themes
Favorite Tunes #8: Town Themes
Favorite Tunes #7: Capcom Fighting Themes
Favorite Tunes #6: Final Fantasy Town Themes
Favorite Tunes #5: N64 Music
Favorite Tunes #4: Capcom Themes
Favorite Tunes #3: First Level Themes
Favorite Tunes #2: Winter Themes
Favorite Tunes #1: What's in a Title Theme?