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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Awesome Boss Battles in Gaming Database

By EiffelArt

The complete database for every entry of Awesome Boss Battles in Gaming. When I say "Awesome" I really referring to my personal favorites. No doubt some will agree with the choices in these entries, but it's my own list. Each one is here for a different reason. Mike Tyson, Baby Bowser in Yoshi's Island, Yellow Devil Mk. II, Mr. Freeze, the gang's all here in one nice, neatly accessible post.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Favorite Tunes #86: Happy Happy, Joy Joy

No, this has nothing to do with Ren & Stimpy, but the music featured is on the happy, upbeat side. So if you're fan of the famous 90's gross out show, my apologies because you won't find anything pertaining to that insane animated show outside of the shout out in the title.

Athletic - Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

Super Mario Bros. 3 is for many the best title in the Super Mario series. It's loaded with plethora of levels and power-ups than the previous two games and it introduced seven of the most endearing stars to the Mario universe, the Koopalings. This was also the game that gave us the very first Athletic theme, a track that tends to be far more zany-sounding than the traditional Ground/Overworld themes.

Wanda Wanda - Katamari Damacy (PS2)

Speaking of zany, Katamari Damacy is that and then some. Released in 2004 with a budget price of $20, Katamari Damacy astounded gamers just as much as it left them bewildered. The goal? Roll up as much stuff as you can to make you Katamari bigger and recreate the stars that the King of the Cosmos accidentally destroyed. You'd think that a song that repeats the same thing over and over again would grate on the nerves, but Wanda Wanda will have you bobbing you head infinitely.

Magnet Man Stage - Mega Man 3 (NES)

I once read an article where the author said that the music in Mega Man 7 sounded "too happy." This statement amused me because a lot of Mega Man music is cheerful like Crash Man's theme and Magnet Man's theme, arguably the happiest Robot Master stage music in the entire series. This theme is so humable and infectious that merely saying that it's a popular theme is a tremendous understatement.

Palmtree Panic JP - Sonic CD (SCD)

By CharlieCasado

Sonic's first CD based adventure gave us time travel, Sonic's first rival in Metal Sonic and two very different soundtracks. I love both scores but it took years for both versions of Palmtree Panic to grow on me. This song could be used for races on Seaside Hill in Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing and was an unlockable in Sonic Generations.

Sakura Stage - Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (ARC ver.)

If you're wondering, there never was a Super Puzzle Fighter. The title was just a joke by Capcom for pumping out so many updates of Street Fighter II back in the day. My level of skill still isn't up to snuff to take on the AI when it gets really intense, but this is still one of my favorite puzzle games and is a hoot with a buddy. It's as if the composers injected a hefty dose of DAAAAWWW into Sakura's energetic theme.

Pac-Man Cup - Mario Kart Arcade GP (ARC)

Think Mario Kart titles have been limited to handhelds and home consoles? Nintendo will take Mario and company out of the comfort of home and place theme in the arcades from time to time. These arcade racers often see Mario crossing over with characters from the Namco Bandai universe such as Pac-Man.

Favorite Tunes Database

Monday, March 24, 2014

Awesome Boss Battles in Gaming Part VI

Awesome Boss Battles, AKA, some of my personal favorite boss battles in video games. Different battles are here for different reasons. Some of the bosses you'll see here are incredibly easy, others, not so much. Bosses or final bosses, it doesn't matter. Either one is fair game as far as I'm concerned.

Bowser - Super Mario World (SNES)

On the map screen for World 7, you can actually catch a preview of Bowser flying around on top of his castle as lightning strikes. Even so, when you finally reach the Koopa King, it may come as a surprise to see Mario's arch enemy riding what is known as the Koopa Clown Car. And yet, Bowser makes it work.

Bowser comes at you in three phases and during each phase, he always throws Mecha Koopas at you. You could spin jump these guys to dispatch of them instantly, but you really don't want to do that since these things are your only means to attacking Bowser. What you wanna do is jump on the normally and then toss them upwards so they conk Bowser on the noggin. After hitting him two times, Bowser will retreat and you'll get to see some sweet mode seven effects as he comes directly at the screen in his Koopa Clown Car. Just before Bowser comes back into view, he'll try to burn you with flames that are tossed from the above. Stand in the right position and you should be fine. When Bowser returns, princess Peach will briefly emerge from the Clown Car to do a damsel in distress bit and toss you a Super Mushroom, which can come in handy in case you lost any of your power-ups.

During the second phase, Bowser flies a bit lower and while touching the rest of the Clown Car is fine, contact with the propeller will hurt you. That Clown Car must be mighty spacious because not only does it hold Bowser, Peach and a horde of Mecha Koopas, but  it also houses these huge bowling ball-like things called Big Seelies. You can use a normal jump to avoid these things but a spin jump but spin jumps protect you from these things and are less risky. Hit Bowser with two Mecha Koopas and he'll retreat once again.

In the final phase of the battle, the Koopa Clown Car stops wearing a smile and takes on a much more menacing look that greatly reflects Bowser's combat tactics. Bowser is done flying and now proceeds to try and crush you, hoping atop the castle grounds. In addition to to avoid the Clown Car, Bowser still assaults you with the Big Steelies. Sock Bowser with two Mecha Koopas and you'll have saved the princess and Dinosaur Land.

Terminator - Contra III: The Alien Wars (SNES)

As far as I know, the boss of the third stage of Contra III, Neo Steel Kobe Factory has no official name but since he resembles a robot from one of the greatest film series of all-time, I found it best to give him that namesake.

After defeating the final mini bosses of this level, the Terminator makes his entrance by tearing open the walls in the background. And for his next trick, he fires lasers from his eyes that like to track you down. On higher difficulty settings, these things can be problematic. The blast of fire that he shoots from his mouth will chase you all across the room. As you've probably learned from you encounter with the mini bosses in this very room, you can not only crawl on the walls but you can also move across the ceiling as well, which will prove very useful to help you avoid be scorched.  Terminator's final attacks is a series of bombs that count down. Depending on where you happen to be, these things will be launched on the top or bottom of the screen. His head is his only weak point and it's exposed throughout the majority of the battle, save for when he drops bombs and goes into hiding during the countdown explosion. Not content to simply blow up upon defeat, Terminator leaves the way he came with the wall that he used as a door closing, decapitating him. Pure awesome.

Armon Ritter - Sin & Punishment: Star Successor (Wii)

Treasure's on rails shooter has many a crazy boss fight but pudgy Armon Ritter really makes himself stand out. He may be a baddie in a suit, but he's the kind that is not afraid to get his hands dirty. Channeling his inner Seven Force, Armon Ritter is a changeling, taking on three different forms of aquatic life.

His first form is that of a manta ray, firing off rounds of blobs, missiles and get this, even jet fighters your way. One he starts taking on massive damage in this form, he throws vertical beams into the mix. As if you didn't already have enough stuff to avoid.

The second form is a seahorse that starts his attacks by shooting energy spheres that break off into small pieces. In addition to this, he's also got lasers that can home in on you. Need things to be more hectic? He also creates walls of water that sway back and forth that you need to dodge while he chucks explosives your way that may or may not go off.

His last parlor trick is to turn into a dolphin, which I find to be the most difficult of his three forms. Other dolphins will be summoned to fight along side the real Ritter and true to other video game clone fighting logic, you can only harm the real thing, but all of them can hurt you. The dolphins will create rings which you can fly through for bonus points but unless you go through the ring without touching it, you can kiss some of your health goodbye. And since dolphins just love to perform tricks, they'll flip a lot of balls your way but these can thankfully be deflected back.

The Great Mighty Poo- Conker's Bad Fur Day (N64, XB)

If you don't like toilet humor, you may not find this next boss all that amusing. I'm willing to admit that I'm not always fond of this particular method to make people laugh but this boss just made it work for me on so many levels.

After ascending a huge pile of fecal matter, you're faced with a boss that will make you scream "OH CRAP!" and I do mean that quite literally. The Great Mighty Poo is exactly what he sounds like. A huge, steaming pile of crap. That in itself is a sight to behold and is enough to win an award for inducing more slack-jawed stares than anything else on this planet. What The Great Mighty Poo lacks in looks, he makes up for in the vocal department. He has a thing for opera and man, can he belt out some notes. I thought my appreciation for opera in the gaming medium came and went with Final Fantasy VI and Parasite Eve but the Great and Migty Poo brought it back.

But as amazing as his singing number is, the Great Mighty Poo still has it out for you. Unless you take him out, he's going to take your head and ram it up his butt. I have every reason to believe he'll make good on that promise because he started out his course by saying that he was going to throw his crap at me. I've dodged a lot of things in my time playing video games. Lasers, fire balls, energy blasts but I never thought the day would come where I'd have to avoid balls of feces.

So how does one going about dealing with a opera singer made out of feces? Butt paper, of course! The Great and Mighty Poo cannot stand toilet paper down his throat so you'll have to chuck a few rolls in while he's singing. After taking so many rolls, his singing will eventually shatter a glass wall that hides a valve. Pull it and the Great and Mighty Poo will be flushed.

Great Eggman Robo - Sonic 3 & Knuckles (GEN)

The previous two Genesis Sonic games had some of the best final encounters with Robotnik in the mainstream Sonic series. While this technically isn't the final battle of Sonic 3 & Knuckles, it's still light years ahead of every boss battle in Sonic 1 and 2 combined, taking place through three different stages.

The first stage of the fight has you contending with the hands, or to be more precise, the fingers. There are three fingers on each hand and both with try to crush you when they get close enough. You can jump on them, spin dash between both sets of fingers to register multiple hits, or keep spin dashing when they try to crush you so they take damage. I really like the diversity in this first phase.

Once all the fingers have been destroyed, stage two begins. The platform starts to collapse as Robotnik presses towards you with his towering mech. Fireballs will be shot towards you from the nose and these are quite easy to evade. What you really need to watch out for is the laser fire. He uses the power of the Master Emerald to charge up and shoot a huge laser beam your way. As the laser charges, this is your chance to jump in and do some damage to the machine. Be speedy when attacking because it doesn't take long for the laser to charge up. You cannot spam hits on this thing. If you try, you'll get hit by the laser or fall to your death. Hit it once and keep running to the right. If you have the AI controlling Tails, use extreme caution to make sure it doesn't screw you over by mimicking your actions a second later. Without question, this is the toughest part of this fight.

After taking eight hits, Eggman will make an attempt to flee with the Master Emerald as the platform continues to fall away. Chase after him, and hit him. Just make sure you time your jumps correctly or the knock back from hitting egghead could send you too far.

Awesome Boss Battles Database

Friday, March 21, 2014

Latest Purchases #68

Apologies for the horrible picture quality this time.

As you can see, I'm on a major Peanuts kick. Peanuts was a huge part of my life growing up, in particular, the TV Specials. A lot of the TV Specials I hadn't seen in years, save for the usual ones shown around the holidays like A Charlie Brown Christmas, It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Thanks Giving. Now I can pull out these DVD sets and watch the aforementioned Specials along with Charlie Brown's All-Stars, You're in Love, Charlie Brown, He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown, and It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown. There were only six TV Specials for the 1960s, so there's only one DVD set for that collection. There's a Vol. 2 for the 1970s collection, which I'll need to pick up to complete that set. Since there have been a copious amount of Peanuts TV Specials and Warner Video hasn't released any sets for the 1980s or 1990s, who knows when or if I'll be able to have a whole set. But since Tails Spin has the honor of being the first Disney Afternoon cartoon to be completed on DVD after years of Disney dragging their feet on that, I wanna remain hopeful.

Everyone and their mother remembers the theme Linus and Lucy. Watching the TV Specials now that I'm older, I've come to appreciate the jazz music that plays in the background so much more. I knew I had to own some of the music so I hoped on Amazon. Sure enough, they had a nice selection of Vince Guraldi and the Vince Guraldi Trio CDs at reasonable prices. Oh, Good Grief!, in addition to having Snoopy dressed like Vince on the CD cover has my favorite rendition of Linus and Lucy. It's played by a synthesizer and not a piano, like the original, but I love the additions made to this version. The nice thing about getting these CDs off Amazon is that I could get free MP3 versions of these albums. All except A Boy Named Charlie Brown. For some reason, I didn't get any MP3s with that one after my purchase, despite being told that I would. I've heard some people complaining about the remastering done on the A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. I'm not an audio whore so I couldn't tell you the differences between this and a version that was released back in the late 1980s that is probably much harder to track down. Besides, for $7, why would I complain?

I didn't stop with just music and TV Specials. I grabbed some of the original Peanuts source material. The books are the first in a long line of Peanuts comic strips, The Complete Peanuts. This two book set collects the years 1950-9054. These books are a real eye opener. Not only is the art style different from what the Peanuts crew looks like today, but Linus, Lucy and Schroeder were even babies during the early years. You can buy these books individually or together, but they actually cost less when you buy them in sets. This first set only cost me less than $35 after shipping.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Memories #16: Spider-Man

Superman is the mighty man of steel. Batman is the world's greatest detective. But my favorite super hero will always be the one and only, the amazing, the spectacular, the sensational Spider-Man. My interest for Spider-Man began during my childhood years. Every Saturday I would tune into NBC and watch the Marvel Action Universe, a block dedicated to showing off animated properties that were owned by Marvel. Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends was my first animated introduction to the wall-crawler.

Being an avid fan of Spidey and an even bigger fan of the video game medium, you'd think I would have played a game starting my favorite web-head sometime before the 1980s had ended. However, this was not the case, although in hindsight, that was probably a good thing since Spider-Man on the 2600 was nothing to beg your parents to get you for your birthday. Though I'm sure this didn't stop some unsuspecting children from doing so and to those that did and had a crappy birthday present as a result, well, hey, at least you got something.

I may have missed out on some of the less than spectacular Spidey games, but I was still exposed to several of them. The first was Spider-Man & X-Men: Arcade's Revenge. Released on the SNES in 1992 and later ported to the Genesis a year later, Spider-Man & X-Men was one of Acclaim's baby's. At the time, I thought it was so cool to wall crawl and swing around as Spider-Man. Even his Spider Sense had a function on the game's first level, alerting you not to danger, but to these computer terminal like things that had to be activated in a specific order. These days, I now recognize the game for the unbeatable mess and avoid it like a girl that's no good for me. Age truly does bring wisdom and I have no problem admitting to being something of a stupid kid on certain things back in the day.

The second Spider-Man game I encountered was the Genesis game simply titled Spider-Man and this was by mistake. I wanted to rent Spider-Man based of the Fox 1994 cartoon series but since it's also called Spider-Man like the early Genesis release, I ended up taking that game home instead. After a return trip to Block Buster Video, I got the game I wanted. In the end, neither game left me with good memories.

You might be wondering when I'm going to get to the 2000 Spider-Man video game, the center piece of this installment of Memories. I know that I'm taking a while to get there and that's because the road to 2000 Spider-Man was a long one traveled for me.

As I mentioned above, I've played my share of sub par Spider-Man games but before this, I came in contact with some high quality licensed titles. When you've been spoiled by games like DuckTales and Chip & Dale Rescue Rangers from the NES era, it's not hard to see why someone would approach a licensed game with a positive outlook. What's more, the Dark Knight treated me to some of the best Batman games long before he really stepped things up in his HD outings. Sunsoft's Batman based of Tim Burton's 1989 film, in spite of the difficulty is widely regarded as a good game as is Konami's Batman Returns on the SNES.

In 1995, my viewpoint of the licensed game would shift dramatically. Spider-Man '94, Genesis Spider-Man and Spider-Man & X-Men weren't anything special to be sure, but they weren't enough to sour me on super hero games and licensed titles in general. No, that dubious honor goes to Batman Forever.

Acclaim hyped this game like it was going to be the best Batman video game of all time and like a stupid fish, I feel for it, hook, line and sinker. The magazine ads, the TV spots, I ate every bit of it up. I rented the game from Block Buster, popped that sucker into my SNES expecting to be blown away only to be met with bitter disappointment. I was no genius at the age of fourteen, but one thing that was immediately clear to me is that Batman Forever was a not-even-thinly disguised version of Mortal Kombat. The motion of Batman and Robin's uppercuts, blocking with the L and R buttons. Even digitized actors were used just like Mortal Kombat. What pinhead thought the Mortal Kombat engine would work well in a beat 'em up format? The game was also painfully sluggish with annoying precise, outlandish button inputs. Thankfully, I also rented Lufia & the Fortress of Doom so my weekend wasn't a complete disaster, but as far as licensed games went, the damage was done.

Bad games can have lasting affects just the same way good games do. For me, Batman Forever killed licensed video games for a good, long while. This game was the reason I thought GoldenEye 007 on the N64 would tank but I a 1998 rental showed me just how wrong I was. In 1999's August issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, I saw the first screenshots of  a 3D Spider-Man game simply called Spider-Man. The screens showed Spidey web swinging through a city and EGM actually got some hands-on time with the game and they had good things to say about it. I may have welcomed Bond with open arms after playing it and snatching it up on my 18th birthday that same year, but I had my arms crossed and a scowl on my face for Spidey. After the train wreck that was Batman Forever, not even my favorite super hero was getting cut any slack, and I didn't care if a few members of the video game press had some positive things to say.

In late 2000, Spider-Man released on the PlayStation. EGM gave the game a positive review but since they had good things to report on the wall crawler a year ago, I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised. But as more reviews popped up, I found out that it wasn't just EGM like liked Spider-Man. Game Informer, GamePro, GameSpot, everyone was impressed with what was the best Spidey game in a long time. It was hard for me to keep looking at Spidey all grim faced. Yeah, Batman Forever sucked and the press rightfully panned the game, but Spidey was getting good reviews. During this time, I was working at Toys 'R Us in the electronics department, so my access to video games had never been higher. With the coming of the PlayStation 2, lots of new PS titles were being released at $40 and Spider-Man was among those titles.

When I saw the title screen, a huge grin was already plastered across my face. They took the classic 1967 Spider-Man theme song and remixed it. This made it difficult to quickly bypass the title screen whenever I turned the game on. Of course this was just the first sign of many good things to come. After some quick practice in training mode, I dived into story mode.

As I played through the rooftop section of the first level, I couldn't contain my excitement. I'd read that this game captured what it felt like to be Spider-Man, but actually experiencing the feeling was just amazing. Spidey could crawl on walls, swing from building to building, web up bad guys. OK, so he could do these things in previous Spider-Man games, but not like this. Neversoft truly understood Spider-Man and his world better than any game company that ever had the chance to handle the character.

While the game was mostly a 3D beat 'em up action game, there was some variety in the levels. Not much, but the fact that it's there helped a lot. The second chapter was a racing level of sorts. You had to hurry to the Daily Bugle before the Scorpion reached J. Jonah Jameson and killed him since he blames JJ for being stuck in his Scorpion suit. One of my favorite sections that I would replay over and over has Spidey running from the cops as he races through the city. These guys mean serious business and they fire off machine gun ammo and missiles at Spidey through each portion of the level. You have to move fast, crawl and swing from building to building to keep from getting blown up. It's such an intense level and I love it for that.

The third chapter was on the short side, consisting of nothing but a boss battle against Rhino, one of Spidey's not-so-bright opponents. The whole fight hinges on Rhino'stupidity as all you have to do to beat him is jump when he charges at you and make him fry himself on electrical power generators. Super simple fight but it's still nice that the developers recognized Rhino for the fool that he is.

Venom, being one of Spidey's bigger threats got ample screen time. Not only did he have a chase scene but he had two separate boss fights. In the first fight, you simply had to defeat him but since Venom blocks Spidey's spider-sense, you had to rely on your own eyes to see where Venom would attack. This could get tricky since one of Venom's ability is camouflage to blend in with the environment, effectually making him invisible. Venom fights the same way during your second encounter with him, but things are much more complicated since he's got Mary Jane hostage and is threatening to drown her. You had to keep the water level from rising and fight Venom off at the same time. A fight befitting one of Spidey's greatest villians, regardless of whether you think he belongs up there with the likes of the Green Goblin and Doc Ock.

Speaking of Doc Ock, his merger when the Carnage symbiote had to be one of the creepiest things I'd seen in a video game at the time. During the game's climax, you had to flee for your life through a huge series of twisting, turning tunnels to reach the surface as Carnage Ock chased you the whole way, chanting in that disturbing voice "DIEEEEEE!" I failed that section several times due to the screwy camera. Yeah, it's bad in other portions of the game, but in confined areas like this one, it really bites you.

Not only was the gameplay very faithful to the source material, there were tons and I mean TONS of extras. You could collect comic book icons that gave information on certain issues throughout Spidey's history like Amazing Spider-Man #3, which was all about Spidey's first clash with Doc Ock. By meeting certain requirements, you could also unlock special costumes that were used in the comics, like the Alien Costume, which granted infinite webbing, Amazing Bag-Man, a joke costume, the Scarlet Spider costume, the Captain Universe costume and plenty of others. There were even story boards for each cut scene in the game. This was especially interesting for me because up until this point, I had never even heard of the term "story board." It was a real eye opener to see these scenes in draft from. This was the first game I play that went so far as to include some behind the scenes material and sparked my interest in bonus content on DVD sets and games.

There have been a plethora of Spider-Man game since this one like Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimension and Spider-Man: Edge of Time. But for years, this was the definitive video game version of the wall-crawler. Sure, the camera got on my nerves on more than one occasion and the story and dialogue were wonky at times, but this was a solid Spider-Man experience and was the reminder I needed that good super hero games could exist.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Favorite Tunes #85: Green Greens

Well, here we are, St. Patrick's Day. Everyone's wearing green, people are getting smashed and jail cells will probably be more crowded than a New York City bus. With green being all the rage today, here are some background tracks you'll hear while looking at some greens.

Wood Man Stage - Mega Man 2 (NES)

In truth, there's more brown than green in this level, but there's still a fair amount of green to be seen. Of all the Robot Master themes in Mega Man 2, Wood Man has my absolute favorite piece of music of the lot. As a kid, I'd go to Wood Man's level first just so I could hear the stage music.

Lost Woods - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64, 3DS)

Getting lost in one of the most frustrating things to happen to anyone in real life or a video game. So when you give a location the name "Lost Woods" you know you're in for some trouble. Thankfully, despite the new 3D gameplay that Ocarina of Time brought to the table, navigating the Lost Woods wasn't too difficult. Of course, Koji Kondo also gave the woods an incredibly catchy piece of music.

Angel Island Zone Act 2 - Sonic 3 & Knuckles (GEN)

There isn't a lot of green to be found in act 2 of Angel Island Zone on the count of Robotnik's machines setting fire to the place. You'd think this would raise a red flag for Knuckles that the doc isn't being on the level with him, but Knux is a moron so, whatcha gonna do? I've always preferred Act 2's faster pace to Act 1 of Angel Island.

Through the Woods - Kirby's Return to Dream Land (Wii)

I'm losing track of how many times I mentioned the music from Kirby's Return to Dream Land in Favorite Tunes. Safe to say, the game houses one of my all-time favorite gaming soundtracks. You don't hear this theme in abundance, but it's always delightful when you do. I know a lot of Kirby music has a great deal of whimsical charm to it, but this one feels like it would fit perfectly set to a kid's story book.

Planet Colors (Green Plant) - F-Zero GX (GCN)

The Green Plant is an interesting track setting if only for offering the player a vastly different change of scenery from all the cool-looking futuristic tech areas of the game. Green Plant is quite the marvel to behold. But sight seeing can be dangerous when you're traveling at the speeds you do in F-Zero GX. For a better, safer look at the course, view the replay.

Secret of the Forest - Chrono Trigger (SNES)

Yasunori Matsuda's big debut did not disappoint. While he didn't score all of Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, he did write the bulk of the game's music and it is nothing short of mind blowing. Secret of the Forest is one of the game's earlier tracks, usually reserved for outside areas. While a much more mellow piece of music than the others, it's my personal favorite soothing track in the game.

Favorite Tunes Database

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Koopalings: Where Do They Come From?

Super Mario Bros. 3 is quite possibly my all-time favorite Mario game. It gave us far more power-ups than any game before it, eight huge worlds to explore, and tons of secrets to uncover. A plethora of new mooks for Mario and Luigi to deal with joined the Koopa army but the biggest addition to Bowser's troops would be the Koopalings. These seven kids had taken over one of the seven lands of the Mushroom Kingdom and awaited the plumbers at the end of each world. If Mario could have family in Luigi, why couldn't Bowser have family in the form of his seven children. At least, they were his children until Shigeru Miyamoto came out and said that Bowser's only child was an annoying little crap stain that goes by the name of Bowser Jr.

So what's the deal? The Koopalings obviously didn't pop out of thin air. Sure, it's already been established that magic is very real in Mario's world, but if Bowser Jr. (bleh) is the offspring of Bowser, then this kids have got to have a parent. But I'm mystified as to how these kids went from being the children of Bowser to being fatherless and motherless kids that are under the thumb of Bowser Jr. Was seven kids too much for one father to have? Heck, I'm sure there are people in the real world that have more than seven.

No matter what anyone says, there's no way Peach is the mother of these kids. I mean, look at them. Do you see one iota of Peach in these little ones? Obviously mama is of the same species as Bowser. Maybe the father of the Koopalings is someone Bowser used to know and he just decided to take them under his wing. Or maybe these are just some child soldiers that just happen to be of the same race as Bowser. Maybe he just found them and decided to train them.

It used to really bug me that the Kooplings are no longer Bowser's kids. But as I was writing this, I begin to look at it differently. The only family that lives close to me is my immediate family and my nieces and nephew. The rest of my family are miles and miles away. Growing up in church, I came to realize that family doesn't necessarily mean blood relation so in that respect, I have a lot of family near me and that has stayed with me long into adulthood. The Koopalings may not be Bowser's kids, but they do have a high standing in his army. They aren't enemies you encounter like the Hammer Bros and easily tossed aside with a well timed Fireball. They stand guard over entire lands. The amount of responsibility Bowser has issued the Koopalings is no small thing. Sure, Bowser Jr. may be their senior but they are still in close standing with the King of the Koopas.

We may never know where the Koopalings came from. They may never go back to being Bowser's kids by blood, but given the respect Bowser shows them in the games, they practically are family and not even the annoying presents of Bower Jr. can change that.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Favorite Tunes #84: Mario World of Sports

Even if you have less than a passing interests in some sports, you're more than likely to check them out in video game form when they have arcade style play. It gets even better when you throw Mario in the mix.

Character Select - Mario 3-on-3 Basketball (DS)

Selection themes. You really don't get much time to listen to them due to a clock ticking down, forcing you to hurry up and make your pick. And even if there isn't a limit to how much time you have to make a selection, most players just choose a character and move on. Of course if you have a really good piece of music to go with the decision making, you just might make the player hold off on hitting that confirmation button. This one is way beyond good.

Toad Tournament - Mario Golf (N64)

Motoi Sakuraba had been composing music for Namco's Tales series long before he began writing compositions for Mario's sports titles. The first entry in Mario Golf has arrangements of familiar Mario tunes like the famous Ground Theme and Underground from Super Mario Bros., but there's also a bevy of original music. Tour Tournament really captures the overall peacefulness of a golf course.

Exhibition - Mario Tennis (N64)

Mario and and gang played an excellent round of golf in Mario Golf. Tennis seemed like a good sport to tackle next. An arcade tennis game in every sense of the word, hitting the ball is as easy as blinking and there are a ton of different characters to choose from, each with his and her own unique play style. Exhibition is the them you get during multiplayer matches on regular courts.

Tournament Finals - Mario Tennis (N64)

When playing in Tournament mode, you'll hear a few different themes as you advance up the ladder, including the previously mentioned excellent Exhibition theme. During the finals, you get this rousing piece of music. I wish it were available during multiplayer when things come down to the wire.

Lakitu Valley 2 - Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour (GCN)

Naming a golf course after my most hated mook in all of Super Mario? That's gutsy, Camelot. Like Mario Golf on the N64, Motoi Sakuraba once again scored the music for Toadstool Tour. I don't think the music is as good as the previous game despite the power of the GameCube hardware, but it's still got some good tunes in there. This is the primary musical piece that comes to my mind whenever I think of Toadstool Tour.

Mario Stadium - Mario Superstar Baseball (GCN)

It seems like it took Mario and company and forever to get to America's favorite pastime.  When they did arrive on the baseball diamond, they brought with them their own set play styles like the previous sports games. Rivalaries, souped up power hits and all other kinds of craziness was the order of the day in a game of Mario Superstar Baseball. Why hasn't this theme been used in actually baseball games?!

Toad Park - Mario Sports Mix (Wii)

A successor of sorts to Mario 3-on-3, this game combined various sports to make up one game. Results have been mixed and Mario Sports Mix is often viewed as the low point of the Mario sports titles. Even so, the game did have an exceptional soundtrack. Toad Park sounds like it was an unused track from Super Mario Galaxy.

Bowser Jr. Boulevard - Mario Sports Mix (Wii)

As much as I hate the saw doff little runt, I have to admit that Bowser Jr. usually gets some pretty good musical themes. Where as Bowser has a lot of rock themes, Bowser Jr. gets a lot of jazz themes, at least in the sports titles.

Staff Roll - Mario Superstar Baseball (GCN)

If Mario Stadium should be played during games, this staff roll theme should be played at the ending of each game. I think even the losing team would buck up with this playing.

Sherbet Land - Mario 3-on-3 Basketball (DS)

First those voice samples in Character Select and now this? They really outdid themselves with this game's soundtrack. If I had to pick a favorite track from the whole thing, Sherbet Land would be it. I'm sure pro basketball players would rather have We Will Rock You playing in the background during a game (a great song) but for Mario and pals, Sherbet Land is more than a worthwhile pick.

Favorite Tunes Database

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Currently Playing #18

Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)

I've long since finished the game but I've been taking the Special Worlds slow. I have to say, I was a little surprised to find out that Super Mario 3D World has more than one Special World. If I recall correctly, I don't think the Super Mario series has featured multiple Special Worlds since the Lost Levels with it's Levels A-D nonsense. Some of the levels in the regular worlds were tough but a lot of the Special World levels are straight up brutality. Faster Fort Fire Bros. was enough to induce rage quit as was World Star-2, the level where you finally unlock Rosalina.

In spite of all the frustration the Special Worlds are causing me, Super Mario 3D World is undoubtedly one of the best Super Mario games I've ever played and it justifies the purchase of a Wii U. The constant shifts in level design keeps things fresh, the Cat Suit is one of the best new power-ups in years and the soundtrack is extremely varied.

New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)

Yes, it's "another" New Super Mario Bros. game, but dang, if I'm not having a ball with it. Nintendo makes these freaking things so well that at times it's hard to blame them when they get accused of rehashing. Admittedly, the game felt very by the numbers at first, but when I got toe World 3, I found myself like NSMBU more and more. Originally, I hadn't planned to start this game up just yet. The idea was to finish Super Mario 3D World first but then the Special Worlds started slapping me in the face over an over and I needed some relief. NSMBU took the kid gloves off much earlier than I anticipated so now I'm juggling two tough Mario platformers at the same time. Granted, it isn't as crazy as 3D World's Special Worlds, but the stuff NSMBU is throwing at me is really starting to get nuts. Flight of the Para-Beetles was a level very much like something out of Sky Land from Super Mario Bros. 3. Upwards auto scrolling and no check points. Not only did I lose a ton of lives on this level, I had to replay it to collect all the Star Coins.

Currently, I'm at Peach's Castle and I see Bowser has turned int into a lava filled wasteland. The third star coin in the first level drove me nuts and was the first time I ever saw the Super Guide appear. I'll more than likely complete NSMBU over the weekend and while I'd like to explore those levels I missed and collect all the every single Star Coin, I'm not quite sure I will as I have other platformers I need to attend to.

Sonic Generations (PS3 ver.)

This is one of the first HD games I wanted to play when I got my hands on a PS3. The big draw of this game is that it offers two different play styles with the two Sonics. Classic Sonic's levels are 2D and Modern Sonic's levels are mostly 3D. I say mostly because there's still a good bit of 2D in his gameplay. Running through new renditions of Green Hill, Chemical Plant, and Sky Sanctuary is quite the thrill ride and the challenges add a lot of replay value to the game. I especially like that you can unlock songs from other Sonic games to listen to during gameplay. I cannot tell you how awesome it is to blast through Green Hill Zone with Sonic Boom blaring.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition (Wii U)

I never knew I wanted to have the Tekken cast wear Nintendo gear until I saw screen shots of the Wii U version of TTT2. Some may say Nintendo clothing doesn't make this game worth a purchase but since it comes with all the character DLC that the PS3 and 360 versions have at no extra charge, I saw it is. Plus, I only paid $15 for this brand new but I easily would have forked over a bit more cash for it. Seeing Heihachi in Mario's clothes is one of the best things ever. This isn't just limited to items from the Mario universe. I just found out I can dress Raven up in to look like Captain Falcon. In the immortal words of the captain, YES!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Game Art #66: Sonic Gallery

I've been listening to some Sonic music as of late and watching Clement's play through of  Sonic Unleashed and I have some Sonic projects in the work for this very blog. Needless to say, I'm in a Sonic mood. Otherwise, this Sonic Gallery wouldn't be here. Enjoy.

By Aoki
By Aoki
By BloomTH
Pixiv ID
Pixiv ID
Pixiv ID
Pixiv ID
By Aoki
By Aoki
By Angel Bee
By MissNeens
By MissNeens