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Monday, April 29, 2013

Latest Purchases #50

Like so many others that watched Darkwing Duck in the early 1990s, I was thrilled when news broke that BOOM! was doing a revival of the character. Not only that, but DuckTales and Chip 'N Dale's Rescue Rangers were also getting their own comic books. Sadly, Marvel refused to keep publishing these when Disney bought Marvel so these wonderful new comic books were given the axe. I never did get to pick up the individual comics when they released but I've never been a stranger to trades and I was pleased to see that Amazon had the Darkwing Duck graphic novels (along with the aforementioned DuckTales and Rescue Rangers books) for very reasonable prices.

I've been reading Darkwing Duck: The Duck Knight Returns, the first TPB and as I knew I would, I'm loving it. The art is very faithful to the cartoon show and so is the writing. It's as if Darkwing Duck never ended and I find myself grining like a school girl every time I read it or flip through the book. The second Darkwing Duck TPB, Crisis on Infinite Darkwings (an obvious title play on DC's 1985 mega story, Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline) has Negaduck teaming up with Magica DesSpell to kidnap Darkwings from other realities, brainwash them and have them wreak havoc on St. Canard, smearing Darkwings reputation. It seems like a simple villain team up but it soon goes in a different direction when Paddywack makes a comeback (he was in the episode The Haunting of Mr. Banana Brain that had an ending that left things very much open that he could return). I think it goes without saying that I cannot wait to purchase the remaining two BOOM! Darkwing Duck TPBs.

I finally finished reading the fourth Archie Mega Man story arc that took place in Mega Man #13-16. When Issue 16 originally went on sale, I got the street date confused and missed my chance to pick up my copy. So I went through Amazon to get it. While I'm thankful to know that obtaining certain back issues on Amazon is an option, I'm not sure it's one I'm willing to use often. I think I ended up paying more than $6 for this issue, including shipping, which I personal think it outrageous. A comic book subscription is sound better and better.

Part two of Worlds Collide in the Sonic and Mega Man crossover. I knew Sonic and Mega Man would start out fighting each other as evidenced by the first few teasers, but part two in the story shows just how Eggma and Wily pit Sonic and Mega Man against each other. I do think Sonic's friends being turned into Roboticized Masters is a nice angle but I feel it gives some of the side characters in Sonic's world less time to shine but maybe the metal will fall off of them before the story ends. Even if it doesn't, I'm glad this crossover has finally gotten underway.

Another month, another issue of Retro Gamer. I had no idea Dragon's Lair was 30 years old. Since I'm currently playing the Wii version of Punch-Out!!, I do find it coincidental that this issue's Ultimate Guide is centered on Punch-Out!!, the NES version at least. I was never able to finish this game but I've always wanted to so maybe this guide will shed some light on things. 

fye was still having their sale when I picked up Patapon + Loco Roco Dual Pack. Instead of $14.99 I paid a little under $7. I really need to get a PSP so I can play all these games I have for the thong.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Favorite Tunes #55: Greed, Gears & Tiny Critters

I think I'm getting the hang of coming up with more creative titles whenever I do a misc Favorite Tunes. If that title doesn't indicate much, I've got music from Wario, Metal Gear, and Pikmin to name a few.

Battle Theme I - Unlimited Saga (PS2)

The SaGa series has been running since 1989 in with the first three entries in the series hitting America under the Final Fantasy Legend label. The last SaGa game to hit the States was 2003's Unlimited Saga and the game was heavily panned by the gaming press. SaGa games are usually something of an acquired taste but pretty much everyone agrees that Unlimited Saga was not a good game. At all. The one saving grace was the absolutely splendid soundtrack from Masashi Hamauzu. The more I hear of his violin and piano compositions, the more I love them.  This is just one of Unlimited Saga's many battle themes. If by chance you do play Unlimited Saga, I can guarantee that the music will not leave you cold.

Aboard the Sweet Stuff - Wario Land: Shake It! (Wii)

Going by the subtitle The Shake Dimension in Japan, Wario Land: Shake It! sends Wario off on another adventure to nab as much treasure as he can find. Saving some of world's captive citizens is merely a subplot as far as Wario is concerned. The Sweet Stuff is where Wario's quest to get rich(er) begins. It's basically a training stage, filling you in on how all of Wario's moves work. Wario Land: Shake It! was developed by Good Feel, the same developed of 2010's Kirby's Epic Yarn. This tune gives me a feeling of adventure on the high sees with the sun shining bright.

Locked 'n Loaded - Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3, 360)

Metal Gear Solid 2 introduced us to Raiden. There much much gnashing of teeth because players didn't get to play as Snake throughout the whole game like they thought and that Raiden was nothing like snake. In Metal Gear Solid 4, Raiden returned as a cyborg ninja, slicing of robots with the greatest of ease. Everyone that ever mocked Raiden promptly shut their mouths and never gave him anymore flack. And just a few montsh ago, Raiden returned much more in what looks to be one of, if no the best action game of 2013, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.

The Forest of Hope - Pikmin (GCN)

This short, wildly different take on the RTS genre ended up becoming one of my favorite GameCube games and one of the best new IPs from Nintendo. Instead of realistic soldiers, your army consists of cute, diminuative creatures known as Pikmin and they are you only hope of finding all of your ship pieces and getting off of the mysterious planet before Captain Olimar's oxygen supply runs out. It along with Pikmin 2 was re-released on the Wii with enhanced motion controls.

Battle (VS Wild Pokémon) - Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow (GB)

Gotta catch 'em all! Is that even possible? I remember when there was 151 Pokémon. Now there are... well, way too many to count but I'm sure there is a definitive number of Pokémon. Which will change with the release of a next generation Pokémon game. Back in the day, I, too was a part of the Pokémon phenomenon. I wouldn't mind getting back into the series again but seeing as how time consuming it can be, maybe I should hold off. I really liked how music from the game was adapted to the show and I could recognize a lot of the themes.

Cannonade - Unreal Tournament (PC, PS2)

While everyone was killing each other in Unreal Tournament on their PCS, I didn't get in on the UT experience until it was ported to the PS2. Yeah, it had a sluggish frame rate and there was no online play, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have fun killing my friends and family in split screen multiplayer. I was also quite taken by the game's soundtrack. Cannonade has always been one of the top favorite UT tracks.

Giza Plains - Final Fantasy XII (PS2)

Some throw in Final Fantasy XII as a game that's part of the dark age for the series, but as I wrote a while back, I believe that the series has done much to divide the fanbase long before the jump to 3D. For all the negative things I've heard about Final Fantasy XII, I still want to play the game and see what it's like for myself. One thing I known without a doubt is that the game's musical score is brilliant. Hitoshi Sakimoto, of Final Fantasy Tactics fame wrote most of XII's music and I was pleased with the soundtrack and the selection of songs that made it in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, especially Giza Plains.

Planet Wisp Act 2 - Sonic Colors (Wii)

The game that silenced a great deal of the haters and very unpleasable Sonic fanbase, Sonic Colors wasn't just a good Sonic 3D game, it was a good Sonic game period. Taking inspirations from the Super Mario Galaxy series, Sonic Colors sent the blue blur out in huge theme park in space. Sonic wasn't running around small planets, but he was getting down in some of the best 2D action he'd seen on the consoles since the Genesis days. While heavily billed as 3D Sonic, most of the gameplay in Sonic Colors takes place in 2D so precious platforming is key. And remixed themes of the first act of each world? I'll take those, thank you.

Thanatos I - Bomberna 64: The Second Attack (N64)

Of the three Bomberman games released on the N64, The Second Attack is by far the hardest one to come by. Bomberman Hero was given a release on the Virtual Console but no love for two games to have 64 in their titles. For all of you Chrono Trigger music lovers, one of the composers for The Second Attack was Yasunori Mitsuda.

Bar - Front Mission (SNES, PS, DS)

Some of my favorite video game tracks are those that slow things down and just let you mellow out. The Front Mission series has always excelled in these themes since the very first installment. Front Mission originally released on the SNES and later recieved an enhanced port on the PlayStation. Neither one of those versions made it to the West. The DS version is the first time the original Front Mission has been officially localized for American audiences. I was a big fan of Front Mission 3 (the first in the series to be released outside of Japan) so I plan to track down the DS game some time.

Favorite Tunes Database

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Latest Purchases #49

My local fye is about to remodel their store and reopen it in June so they have to clear everything out. And the best way to get everything out the door? Sell, sell, sell! Just about everything in the store is on sale. From 40%-70% off items. Here's what I came out with.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is a classic. I saw the movie around the time it was released in the late 1980s. Loved it as a kid and I love it now. Last year marked the film's 25th anniversary and it received a special edition Blu-Ray + DVD release. It was on sale for $19.99 but it was among the 40% off DVDs but I usually see paying $20 for a combo pack as a really good deal and with a 10% member discount, it was around $17 for me.

With Dragon Ball Z Season Seven, I at long last own the entire Z portion of the DBZ Saga. Well, the orange bricks set anyways. I still need to get DBZ Kai and I probably won't nab the Dragon Box sets since they are horribly expensive and had a limited print run. Season Seven is especially memorable for me as it contains the first episodes I watched that got me into DBZ.

I think this is Series 3 in the Super Mario Mini Figures series. You can buy these as individual figures but at $4.99 a pop, I see that as a waste. A whole set of six is just $20 and with the discount, they only set me back about 9$. These would look great next to my Sonic Mini Figure set. I just need some space to properly display them.

The Spider-Man and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle coffee mugs have got to be the biggest mugs I've ever owned and I've had some sizable mugs. The Spidey mug was on sale for $9.99 but with the discount it was less than $6. The TMNT mug was under $10. I thought about drinking out of these but I don't wanna take the chance of marring those nice paint jobs. That's how my Sonic and Pac-Man mugs got ruined. Maybe the paint was just cheap on those but they are still missed. Spidey and the Turtles will more then likely be used to hold my pens and pencils.

Metal Gear Solid: Legacy Collection Due in June

Thinking of buying that Metal Gear Solid HD Collection on the PS3 or Vita that only contains a sliver of games? You might wanna hold off because in June, something much better is coming along. In honor of the franchises 25th anniversary (technically this year the series turns 26, but why be picky?), Konami is releasing the Metal Gear Solid: Legacy Collection exclusively on the PS3.

Games included in this compilation are:

Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid 2: HD Edition
Metal Gear Solid 3: HD Edition (MSX games Metal Gear and Metal Gear: Solid Snake included)
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD Edition
Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions
Metal Gear Solid 4: Trophy Edition

Two unspecified digital graphic novels by Ashley Wood will also be included. No word on a price yet, but I'd wager something this could be in the $60 price range.

Source: GameSpot

Monday, April 22, 2013

Banjo-Tooie CD Soundtrack

Hot off the heels of the digital re-release of the Banjo-Kazooie Complete Video Game Soundtrack comes another lovely surprise from composer Grant Kirkhope. It's a digital version of the Banjo-Tooie CD Soundtrack from the 2000 N64 game, Banjo-Tooie. Like Banjo-Kazooie's music, there are tons of song variations so this score doesn't include every single piece of music from the game. But this album, does give you over an hour of Banjo-Tooie music to listen to, covering 14 tracks. This is also a name your price download, so it can be free if you want it to be. Now head on over to the Bandcamp page and get yourself some Banjo-Tooie tunes. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Great Duos in Gaming Part 1

Sometimes a job is so tough that one cannot accomplish it all by their lonesome. As much of a loner as he is, even Batman doesn't always fly solo. Why should gaming characters always go it alone? Welcome to a new feature I like to call Great Duos in Gaming.

Popo & Nana - Ice Climber & Super Smash Bros. Series

Popo is in the blue and Nana is in the pink. Together, they form the frosty due that is the Ice Climbers. These two Eskimos made their debut on the NES in the aptly named Ice Clumber. Player one assumed the role of Popo while player two played as Nana. They scaled a number of mountain peaks while being confronted with all types of opposition such as the polar bear wearing shades. The two were missing in action for nearly twenty years but that all changed when there were made a selectable fighting pair in the 2001 Super Smash Bros. Melee. Popo and Nana fight together, striking foes with their mallets, ice breath and other manner of dual attacks. The Ice Climbers are much stronger together than they are alone. If you lose one of them during a fight, your battle strength will be cut in half. Popo and Nana returned in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and thanks to the Wii's added visual power, the fur on their parkas looked even better. You will not find a cuter pair of Eskimos in gaming or real life.

Bub & Bob - Bubble Bobble Series

Are they dragons or are they dinosaurs? This question is still hotly debated to this day. One thing no one will dispute is how undeniably adorable these two are. Like any disgustingly cute critter, Bub and Bob dispose of their enemies by blowing bubbles to trap their enemies and using the spiked backs to burst the bubbles, killing those juveniles. Who says cute games don't contain some form of violence? In their original game Bub and Bob are on a long journey (seriously, even by arcade standards, Bubbble Bobble is not short) to save their girlfriends. You can certainly opt to play the game solo as Bub, but considering how difficult the game gets, bringing a second player into the fray as Bob is certainly recommended.

Issac Washington & Agent G - House of the Dead: Overkill

The two protagonists of House of the Dead: Overkill do not get off to a friendly start. How not friendly? In the game's opening cut scene, Issac Washington sucker punches Agent G, much to the later's confusion. But an endless horde of mutants force these two to rely on each other. Through wave after wave of undead flunkies, two blown up automobiles, and a nightmare train ride, G and Washington become one of the best pairs of fire forged friends in gaming. The back and forth banter these two provided during gameplay and cut scenes make so much of the game's dialogue an absolute riot to listen to. What does the G stand for? As far as Washington is concerned, it stands for genocide.

Banjo & Kazzoie - Banjo-Kazooie Series

A bear and a bird? That seems like a pretty crazy combo, but Rare made it work and crafted two of the most memorable platformers on the N64. Banjo is the bear and while he houses a great deal of muscle, the bird, Kazooie spends a lot of time being carried around by Banjo via backpack, but she more than carries her own weight on this team. In fact, Kazooie can even walk around and carry Banjo on her back. The combined might of bear and bird allow this duo to swim, fly, climb walls and much more. Whille Banjo loves to have fun, he's more the straight laced, serious type when compared to Kazooie who is always quick with the snarky remarks. Like all best friends, they bicker from time to time but there's no better pair of bear and bird than Banjo and Kazooie.

Sonic & Tails - Sonic Series

Sonic may be the fastest thing alive, but in spite of his speed, he'll never be the genius that his best friend Tails is. In his first appearance, Tails was kidnapped by Sonic's arch fiend, Dr. Robotnik (Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Game Gear). Not exactly the best first impression to make, but he made up for it in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Genesis. Tails was controlled by the AI but a second player could plug in another control and play as Sonic's sidekick, which is much more preferable if you're playing with Tails and want to get all those Chaos Emeralds. Tails is invaluable during certain boss fights and since he's incapable of dying, he's gaming's greatest meat shield. Tails received some new abilities in Sonic 3 & Knuckles where players could actually make use of his ability to fly and unlike Sonic, he can swim. It may not have been established early on in the West, but Tails is a child prodigy. He built Sonic's plane, the Tornado and he's a technical wizard with all types of machinery.

Asha & Pepe' - Monster World IV

It was getting too stuffy with all the boy heroes mucking up the Monster Boy series. So they dropped the lads and made a girl the star. Asha completes the game's first dungeon on her own but she'd be helpless without Pepe's aid for the remainder of the game. Asha handles the combat while Pepe' provides her with much needed assistance. Pepe' grants Asha an extra jump, is resistant to fire, be the thrown to press switches and can be held to slow Asha's descent. Monster World IV is a fantastic actrion/RPG that everyone should check out. It was originally only available in Japan but now it can be experienced, fully translated in English on the Wii's Virtual Console and Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.

Mario & Luigi - Mario & Luigi Series, Super Mario Series

One is short and a bit tubby, the other is tall and lanky. If Mario is the ultimate player one, that makes Luigi the ultimate player two. Mario is hands down the most recognizable character in gaming and Luigi is his younger twin brother that stands in his shadow but still has throngs of fans. Originally a palette swap of Mario, Luigi gained his own jump and slippery traction in Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. It wasn't until Super Mario Bros. 2 that Luigi took the appearance that he's known for today. In the 3D Super Mario games, Luigi was absent but he returned to fight by Mario's side in the hit RPG Mario & Luigi series where he and Mario could use joint moves both on the field and during battle. In the Super Mario Galaxy games, Luigi was finally made played in 3D Mario adventures, containing his unique Lost Levels performance attributes. Mario & Luigi are arguably the most popular duo in video games.

Bill Rizer & Lance Bean - Contra Series

Look up BAMF in the dictionary and you're sure to see a picture pf these two gun-touting macho men. Based off of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill and Lance are so manly that just playing a game of Contra will put hair on your chest. These two take on aliens, wreck giant Terminator-like bosses and ride on airborne missiles all without breaking a sweat. Bill and Lance's idea of partying is blowing up everything in sight. When they attack, they attack aggressively. Aliens found this out the hard way since Bill and Lance don't take kindly to otherworldly invaders.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team and Legend of Zelda 3DS Trailers

It's a going to be a great time to be a 3DS owner. Well, actually, it's been a great time to be a 3DS owner for some time now with all the incredible games the platform has going for it, but it has even more promising games to look forward to. In today's Nintendo Direct, Nintendo unveiled trailers for Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, the latest game in the Mario & Luigi saga, and the tentatively titled, The Legend of Zelda, a game set in the same era as A Link to the Past, using the same overhead perspective and a beefed up visual style of said game. Seeing the trailers for these games makes me so happy that I own a 3DS. These are day one purchases for sure.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Favorite Tunes #54: Those Other Games from Square Enix

I've been listening to a lot of music from various Square Enix games. Threads of Fate, Front Mission, Tactics Ogre, Tobal 2, Parasite Eve. Square Enix really does have a sizable catalog of games to fall back on yet they insist on pimping out the Final Fantasy series. Well there won't be a single track from that game in this edition of Favorite Tunes. It's all about those other games we wish Square Enix would recognize more.

Before there was Final Fantasy Tactics, there was Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen, a tactical turn based RPG. A few years later, Tactics Ogre was released with an even greater emphasis on strategic combat. Not only do the the Ogre Battle and Final Fantasy Tactics games share the same game director, Yasumi Matsuno, but they share the same composers as well. Both Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata are responsible for crafting the some of the most engaging battle themes in RPGs, tactical or otherwise. And yes, for those not in the know, Avilla Hanya is indeed a battle theme. That slow build up leads into a powerful main course that explodes at about 33 seconds in. The SNES sound chip never ceases to amaze me. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together was released on the PSP a few years back and I recommend tracking down that version. A SNES cart of this game does not come cheap, nor does the PS version. The PSP game was given a beautifully arranged score, but I still prefer the SNES version of this track over the arranged tune.

Rasdan - Threads of Fate (PS)

Another game released during Square's more experimental years, Threads of Fate (called Dewprism in Japan) allows you to play as tow different characters, Rue and Mint, each with their own set of music. Rasdan plays in the final area of Rue's game and is an alarmingly calm music piece, one I couldn't expect for a lead up to a final battle. But it sounds so soothing that I doubt you'll care. 

Frozen Flame - Radical Dreamers (SNES)

By LicaWolf

Released in 1996 on the SNES Satellaview add on that never made it outside of Japan, Radical Dreamers is a text based adventure game and side game to Chrono Trigger. You'll find a ton of references to 2000's Chrono Cross in this game from character names, designs and even music. Select songs from Radical Dreamers were arranged and used in Chrono Cross like Frozen Flame. I actually think this track sounds better than the Chrono Cross arrangement despite being on underpowered hardware. Naturally, all of Radical Dreamers music was scored by Yasunori Mitsuda.

Happy Humming - Dragon Quest VI (SNES)

The Dragon Quest series, is immensely popular in it's homeland of Japan. When each game releases, there a long lines and they games are usually released on Sundays so kids don't skip school. For years, Dragon Quest V and VI never saw releases in America but this all changed when Square Enix released remakes of Dragon Quest IV, V, and VI on the DS.

100 Missing People - Bushido Blade (PS)

Bushido Blade can be a tricky fighting game to get into. If you're expecting Soul Calibur with nothing but ninjas, boy, are you in for a surprise. Bushido Blade has no life meters and if you're skilled enough, you can instantly kill your opponent with a precise sword strike. Thinking about attacking your opponent when their back is turned? Not very honorable. But if you can deal with Bushido Blade's gameplay mechanics, you'll be treated to one of the most unique fighting games on the original PS.

Body Shop - Racing Lagoon (PS)

RPG elements in a racing game? That's Square for you. While the game did little to turn the genre on it's head Racing Lagoon featured some of the best jazz, fusion, and techno music you could hear in a racing game.

Seabed of St. Elles - Soul Blazer (SNES)

I'm baffled as to why we haven't seen more stuff from Enix's catalog on the Virtual Console. We got ActRaiser but no Illusion of Gaia or Soul Blazer. Named Soul Blader in Japan, this is part of Enix's creation series in the same line of the Terranigma (another game that hasn't been released in America) and the aforementioned ActRaiser. You get to enter people's dreams, fight off huge monsters and repopulate the world. No, not in the way you're thinking.

Grope After Truth - Tobal 2 (PS)

Character designs by Arika Troiyama? Check. Quest mode where the player roams a 3D dungeon? Check. The same team of composers like Yasunori Mitsuda, Nobou Uematsum, GUIDO, Masashi Hamauzu and company returning to do the music? Nope. Tobal 2 contains a sole composer, Takayuki Namura. He didn't partake in scoring Tobal No. 1's soundtrack, but he's work on the Virtua Fighter series speaks for itself.

Those Imprisoned by Fate - Chrono Cross (PS)

I believe I've made it clear more than once on this blog that I'm not particularly fond of Chrono Cross. It has way too many characters, many of which are devoid of any sort of personality and the plot is one I'm still trying to fully comprehend. One thing I've always loved about the game is it's soundtrack. This is actually a battle theme and is another reminder that not every battle track needs to be loud and heavy to carry the point of conflict.

Sacrifice Part Three - Seiken Densetsu 3 (SNES)

This game is unofficially known as Secret of Mana 2 since it's the sequel to the first Secret of Mana. It was never released outside of Japan, but there is a fan translation out there for those curious. It has some of the most colorful graphics I've seen on the SNES and Hiroki Kikuta's score on this game is still some of the best work he's ever done. This final battle theme, may be his crowning music of awesome for this entire game's soundtrack.

Favorite Tunes Database

Monday, April 15, 2013

Downloads #23

At long last, I can pay Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3, two of my all-time favorite NES games anywhere I want! At the park, on a rock, on a dock, anywhere! I'm sure plenty of others have modded their PSPs to play tons of NES, but I've never been one for system modding and I don't yet own a PSP. $10 for two classic Mega Man games that I can easily access on my 3DS is chump change, change I was gladly willing to part with.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Latest Purchases #48

Seems like it's been an eternity since I bought anything off of Amazon but it was my best bet for picking up two items I've coveted for the longest time. These arrived in the mail on Thursday with only the standard shipping. Not too shabby considering I ordered them Tuesday.

First up is Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie. This uncut DVD actually contains three, count 'em three different versions of the film. There's the original Japanese version, the English version and the UK version with new scenes and a KMFDM soundtrack. So I'm guessing the UK version uses a different score from the American and Japanese versions. I'll have to see what that's all about.

It's been years since I watched Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie. Most Street Fighter fans saw this in 1994 when it originally came out. Me, I didn't see it until 2004 when I picked up the PS2 Street Fighter Anniversary Collection, which came with the edited version of the film. It was a very wonderful bonus, even in edited form, but I can't express enough how nice it will be to see this movie fully uncut. From my understanding, this is the best movie of Street Fighter, animated, live action or otherwise.

The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia. I saw this book on Amazon before it was released early this year. The original price is $34.99 but Amazon sells it for $19.99. I've always loved how they give you price cuts on things. The book is much bigger than I thought. I knew it was a hardcover, but I was surprised at the size of the book when I opened the box.

I mainly bought Hyrule Historia for the artwork. I've long appreciated the numerous art styles of this series so it's nice to have a book that I can just crack open and admire the art. This book also contains an official timeline of the Zelda series. Fans have been trying (in vain) to make sense of the series convoluted timeline and hoped that this book would set things straight. From what I've read this book does little to make things easier to comprehend. Honestly, I could care less about Zelda's timeline. I just accept the fact the many of the Zelda games take place ind different worlds and in different time periods. Some Links are left handed, some are right handed. Does everything really have to be connected? No. No it doesn't.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Adam Orth Has Left the Building

Last week, Microsoft Studios Creative Direction Adam Orth  lit up his Twitter with a string of post that can best be summed up as "Deal With It" when it comes to complaints about games requiring an always online net connection. Rumors are abuzz about the Next Xbox using the always online method and Orth's tweets did little to appease fans after problems cropped up from SimCity and Diablo III.

Microsoft issued an apology for Orth's online conduct, but refused to clarify if their next system would go the always online route. Yesterday, it was revealed that Orth has left Microsoft Studios. Did he resign by choice or was he fired? The answer to that question remains a mystery.

Like many of you, I didn't like Orth shooting his mouth off and I'm 100% against always online gaming. Sure Orth can say what he wants on his Twitter, but he still had a company to represent, even when he wasn't on company time. This all comes back to how one's action, even in their off time can have disastrous consequences in the age of social media. Whether Orth was fired or left of his own accord remains to be seen, but his departure after this fiasco speaks volumes.

Currently Playing #14

Final Fight 2 (SNES)

Some time ago, I downloaded Final Fight 2 off of the Virtual Console. It wasn't until yesterday that I started playing it, so I'm pretty sure it's been years since I've come back to this baby. I went through the entire game yesterday on Easy with Maki. I think I used about three continues getting through with most of my deaths coming from the hands of thugs getting hits on me when I was very low on health. It was a good way to kill an hour or two and it felt great to return to the beat 'em up genre.

 Now I'm going through the game on Normal as Haggar. I rarely play as Haggar when I play a Final Fight game and I regret that because I was reminded how much of a tank he is. Sure, he's a bit sluggish, but he hits ever so hard. Doing a Spinning Pile Driver on the Mad Gears or simply throwing them as Haggar never gets old.

I think the toughest boss for me in Final Fight 2 is Rolento. He was abscent from the SNES Final Fight but he's here for the sequel and he's insanely fast. And I just loooooove how he throws those grenades when he starts getting low on health. As if his fighting stick and speed weren't enough to deal with.

Punch-Out!! (Wii)

Nearly 2 years after I bought this game, I finally opened it up and decided to play it yesterday. I'll knock down that backlog yet.

Playing the Wii version of Punch-Out!! is like meeting up with an old friend. In many ways, this game feels like the the NES Punch-Out!! and the SNES Super Punch-Out!! Glass Joe is still a joke and I had no problems beating him. A lot of these boxers have the same moves and patterns they did from the old games. It's very gratifying to know that the most of the same techniques I used to beat King Hippo nearly two decades ago still work on him here. I say "most" because I'm positive King Hippo never used that nasty headbutt that causes a ton of damage before this game. Piston Hondo (yes, Hondo, not Handa) was my first real threat. It took me some time to learn how he opperates and he seems much faster than he was in the NES game, but on upgraded hardware, I guess that's to be expected.

Right now on on the Major Circuit and it Great Tiger is proving to be one tricky dude. His mirage punch or whatever it's called is hard for me to avoid even when I look at the real deal. I didn't think I'd have this much trouble on him so I can only imagine what Bald Bull and Mr. Sandman will be like.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Smooth McGroove's Acapella Gaming Tunes

In the vast world of video game music, where a various instruments are used to make some of the most fondly remembered music in the medium, it's surprisingly refreshing to come across one so skilled that can reproduce gaming music with his mouth alone. The gent I'm referring to is Smooth McGroove, a game music lover that has recreated some of the most recognizing songs in gaming using nothing but his vocal cords. These acapellea songs are just as splendid to listen to as they are to watch. Smooth has put up videos on his YouTube account showing when and where each "ba" and every other sound was implemented. Some of my favorites include the SNES rendition of Guile's Theme from Street Fighter II, Spark Mandrill from Mega Man X, Bloody Tears from Castlevania II, Title Theme from Ocarina of Time, and Dire Dire Docks from Super Mario 64.

You can listen to the songs I listed and more on his album VGM Acapella - Volume 1. You can download it for $9 or listen to the music freely the on bandcamp album page. I'll be looking forward to more great works from Mr. McGroove.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Greatest Cartoon Openings Ever Part 2

I'm back with another round of amazing cartoon openings. If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.

Mighty Max

Many animated shows of the 80s and 90s were very much merchandise driven and Mighty Max was no different. But where most cartoons made to sell toys had sizable action figures, Mighty Max was Polly Pocket for boys. Surely the cartoon for Mighty Max must have sucked, right? In the word of Lex Luthor, WRONG!!!  Mighty Max was a dark series about the globe trotting adventures of the title character. Characters were frequently killed off mostly due to the actions of Skullmaster, the series main antagonist who was hammy and scary at the same time. The opening is another fine example of a no voice performance track with some exceptional electric guitar work.


Like Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles was also a revolutionary show, doing things in animation that many shows steered clear of. It touched on gun safety, illiteracy and that just a few of the memorable things Gargoyles is known for. Featuring on-going story arcs, Gargoyles is composed of complex and interesting characters like the tragic Demona who refuses to take any responsibility for the massacre of her clan and  instead wishes for all of humanity to suffer, and Daivid Xanatos, the coolest, suave and smartest bad guy that you can't help to love. It goes without saying that this series was very different from the usual shows that Disney produced.

Batman Beyond

This is not your father's Batman. Taking place 50 years after Justice League Unlimited, Batman Beyond takes place in a futuristic cyber punk Gotham City when a new, young Batman, Terry McGuinnis is mentored by the aged Bruce Wayne. Batman Beyond is in many ways, much darker than Batman: The Animated Series. The movie, Batman: Beyond Return of the Joker features some of the sickest things Batman's arch enemy has ever done. The opening sequence is still one of the sickest things I've ever seen.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Often reffered to as SatAM Sonic by fans, this is widely regarded as the best animated version of SEGA's mascot. It's plot was much more darker than that of the games and gave way to a lot of characters that would go on to appear in Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog comic that still going strong today. Much more was planned for this series, but after two season, it was given the axe.


Many cartoons to star Marvel's iconic character have simply been called Spider-Man, but if memory serves, the 1967 show was the first animated version of Spidey we ever got. It's pretty much crap today, but back then, it was all fans had. What isn't crap is the opening theme song, which carries the same level of fame as the Adam West live action Batman theme song.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Always Online is Never a Good Idea

We live in a very tech-savvy world and the internet, our primary go-to source for information can easily be accessed on just about any electronic device imaginable, even our gaming consoles. Most of us use the internet every single day in our lives for one thing or another and as much as I love being connected to the net, having a constant connection in order to play a game, any video game has got to be one of the most ill-conceived ideas I've ever heard.

Lose your connection in the middle of a fight?
Tough rocks, chump!

Over the weekend, Adam Orth, creative director of Microsoft Studios in his infinite wisdom set the gaming community ablaze with a string of posts on his Twitter account, saying that he doesn't get all the "drama" about how always online is a raw deal for gaming. Rumors have been circulating that the Next Xbox or whatever Microsoft decides to call it will require a constant internet connection to play games. There are a laundry list of reasons why this would be bad.

I have a pretty solid net connection but I still experience problems from time to time where I lose my access. Now if I were in the playing a game that demanded that my connection always be on and it went out for whatever reason, I would be furious. But I know there are people out there that live in areas where their connection is nowhere near as stable as mine so they could experience disconnections at a much higher rate. Then, you have those out there that don't have internet in their homes. Yes, there do exist people in the world that don't have their own internet and go out to places that offer free Wi-Fi. What reason would these folks have to purchase the new Xbox if it requires always online just to play Halo? At most, the Xbox would serve as expensive door stopper.

Orth, showing you how NOT to
handle damage control.

Game developers, publishers and console manufacturers should look at two games for the biggest example of why always online is bad: SimCity and Diablo III. These two heavily anticipated PC releases were bogged down because they require a constant internet connection just to play them. If your net goes out due to hiccups, an unstable connection or whatever and you want to play these games, you are completely and utterly screwed. God forbid your net goes out while you're in the middle of these games doing something monumental, but it could still happen and there won't be anything you can do about it.

The 360 may have a lot of pretty-looking games but other than Halo, Gears of War and Forza, the console didn't have many exclusives. The PS3 and Wii came out with much more attractive options in that regard. When I look back on the console, I really don't regret not buying the system. If that's all I have to look forward to when it comes to exclusives on their new machine, then I'm less enticed to give this one a chance. This always online business for the next Xbox just makes things even worse and could tip the scales to Sony and Nintendo's favor.

Always online is a serious deal breaker in determining whether I buy games and in Microsoft's case, a console. I can play so many of my currently own systems without fear of the gaming freezing or shutting down because they don't require a net connection to play. If I purchased a new Xbox and it was always online for every game and my connection was killed, I would be one very unhappy camper and that's one risk I, and it would seem, a copious amount of other gamers are not willing to take.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

What I Hope the New CEO Will Do for Square Enix

While I don't loath Square Enix, I've made it not secret that, like many of my gaming brethren, I believe that both Square and Enix put out much better products when they were two separate companies. Recently it was divulged that Yoichi Wada, the President and CEO of the company since 2000 is stepping down. Wada's resignation comes from the results of Square Enix's huge financial losses. Representative Director Yousuke Matsuda is set to take his place and a massive restructuring of Square Enix will follow.

I've long since wanted to see a turn around for Square Enix. I don't take any pleasure in seeing any game company I like lose millions. While I'm glad this revaluation is taking place, I'm sorry that the company had to lose so much cash to arrive at this point. But in order to get back up, you have to knocked down to begin with so I like to think that somewhere in all of these dark clouds lies some blessings for Square Enix.

Square Enix has so many existing IPs that have been locked up in their vault while Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts and Dragon Quest get all the attention. The 32-bit days of the PlayStation saw one of the most experimental times for Square. We were treated to game such as Brave Fencer Musashi, Parasite Eve, Vagrant Story, Bushido Blade and Xenogears to name a few. One need only look through their library of PlayStation Network titles to see that Square was about far more than Final Fantasy. With this potential turn around for Square Enix, I desperately hope we see more creativity from them. Perhaps they will give these dormant franchises a Phoenix Down and create some new IPs like The World Ends With You, one of Square Enix's most original games in a very long time.

But Square Enix has hit a few of the right notes. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy has give me hours of entertainment and despite not living up to the company's stupidly high expectations, Sleeping Dogs, Hitman Absolution and Tomb Raider have been million sellers.

So I'd love to see old Square Enix franchises brought back, new ones created and less reliance on Final Fantasy. Really, do we need another entry in the XIII saga? From my understanding, the answer is a resounding "NO!" So Square Enix, the ball is in your court. The question is, what will you do with it.