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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Batman 75th Anniversary Animated Shorts

It has recently come to my attention that Batman is turning 75 years old this year. I knew the Dark Knight was getting on in years, but it was still a bit of shock to learn that nearly 100 years have passed since Detective Comics #27 was printed. As part of this milestone celebration, DC and Warner Bros. have put together two animated shorts for your viewing pleasure.

"Batman Beyond" is a short by Darwyn Cooke and is very faithful to the art style of the Emmy winning series. In this short, Terry goes up against one of the toughest foes he could face: a duplicate of Batman in his prime. Not only is this short great for revisiting the world of Batman Beyond, but it also features the voice talents of Will Friedle and Keven Conroy. The end of this short is the absolute BEST and reminds me of one of my favorite episodes from Batman Beyond, Out of the Past. I won't spoil this short for you. Just go watch it.

"Batman: Strange Days" pits Batman against Dr. Hugo Strange and Solomon Grundy to save a distressed damsel. This short is by Bruce Timm, is in black and white and uses the original Bob Kane Batman design. Very film noir. Very awesome.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Currently Playing #19

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Wii U)

I wanted to finish up Returns first before diving into this game, but I decide, screw it, I'll just fire this puppy up anyway. And man, am I ever glad I did. As much as I enjoyed Returns, I think I have to say at Tropical Freeze is the better game. I do wish I wasn't regulated to DK in single player but the added abilities of the other Kongs grant me are a tremendous asset, even if I have grown far too dependent on them. Having Dixie's twirling hair for extra hang time makes me realize how much I've missed her. Cranky Kong long sits on the sidelines and while I do miss his hilarious chatter, he does a great Scrooge McDuck pogocane impression.

The levels are a marvel to look at. Once could argue that from a visual standpoint that it's only a touched up version of Returns, but Tropical Freeze's environments are still nonetheless jaw dropping. The Lion King inspired level in World 2 had me stopping to take in the scenery on multiple occasions.

The difficulty is on par with Returns from what I've played thus far. I'm a little ways into World 3 and I dread anytime I have to jump on a mine cart. There was one level in world 1, I believe where the level was being created as I was riding the mine cart. Collecting KONG letters in mine cart levels are the worst because you almost always have to flirt with death to get one or more of them.

I cannot praise the music enough in Tropical Freeze. As I said in the latest version of Favorite Tunes, I liked Kenji Yamamoto's work on Returns but I am LOVING the compositions David Wise wrote for Tropical Freeze. I didn't mind screwing up my first attempt on World 1's boss because it allowed me to hear that rocking battle theme one more time. Nintendo will probably release a soundtrack for Tropical Freeze for Club Nintendo members. In Japan, of course.

If I were to compare the three platformers I've been playing on the Wii U thus far between Super Mario 3D World, New Super Mario Bros. U and Tropical Freeze, I'd have to say that 3D World is the best of the lot, but Tropical Freeze is still a solid romp. Whenever I'm at work, I can't wait to finish up so I can go home and plow through a few levels, which for me, is an indicator that you've got a game that is more than just good.

Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)

I picked this up around Christmas time in 2012. I have no idea why I waited so long to start playing this as it really is a shinning example of why the 3DS is the best thing to be gaming on right now. Being a game developed by Masahiro Sakurai, Uprising has controls that only use a few buttons and as a result, is super simple to play. For the most part. In the air, the game controls so fluidly. On the ground, the controls aren't terrible by any means but Pit doesn't move with the same grace he as most characters in third person action games. Turning pit around can be a pain at times, especially when under attack by enemies from behind.

Only four chapters in and I am already loving the characters and voice work in this game. Pit is a brave, if brash, naive hero under the guidance of Paluntena, who, despite her goddess status, isn't above having fun at Pit's expense. Getting Cree Summer to voice Medusa? The casting director is a genius.

Uprising also has plenty of nods to the games that came before it. The Grim Reaper, one of the most annoying foes from the first Kid Icarus returns and acts just as he did in the original game, going insane upon being attacked. Even the music that plays when striking the Grim Reaper plays, much to my great annoyance.

Code of Princess (3DS)

Another game that I had sitting on the shelf, unopened for quite some time. But this one didn't stay sealed for a year or more, so, hey, that's something, right? Right? I've never played the original Guardian Heroes but from what I hear, this game can be seen as a spiritual successor to it. There are loads of characters but my favorites are Solange and Ali. Solange for her strength and Ali for her speed. Speaking of the characters, the lot is in this game are a very likable bunch.  Despite her less than modest attire, Solange is herself a very humble, kindhearted princess. The voice work is also very well done and has me looking forward to the dialogue in between battles just to see how the characters will interact with each other.

Still Playing: Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS), Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Latest Purchases #69

Last week, Target had a buy two games get one free deal going on. I picked up Grand Theft Auto V on the 360 for a friend at work and got myself Yoshi's New Island and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds at a clerk's recommendation. The freebie game ended up being A Link Between Worlds, a game I had planned to get on release date, but stuff came up. Since I'm currently playing Kid Icarus: Uprising and Code of Princess, I don't plan to start A Link Between Worlds yet, but Yoshi's New Island is one I plan on starting up tonight.

LittleBig Planet 2 was on sale for $14.99 at Target. The original asking price was $19.99 and since their copies were dwindling, it seemed like a good time to snatch it up. So now it sits on my shelf right next to the first game, unopened.

The LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes Batman Tumbler was a last minute pick up. I literally grab this while I was waiting to check out at target. The Dark Knight Trilogy Batman is big and bulky, but I quite like it. And for less than $5 how could I not pick this up?

I'm really late to The Avengers movie party. I gave my parents the vanilla DVD release and never got around to borrowing it to give it a watch. the Blu-Ray + DVD combo pack was on sale for $20 at fye and I had no idea how long said price tag was gonna stay on there. I've heard so many good things about this movie but I have not seen the Iron Man sequels, the or the Thor films, so I'm hoping that won't take anything away from this film. I'm also just about done watching the Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes on Netflix, so that may have influenced my decision to finally pick this up. It's a really, really great animated series, by the way.

With The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hitting theaters in May and looking like its going to be a spectacular film, I really should be giving the original movie a look. I'm still not crazy about that costume they put on Spidey in the this film, but I have far greater interest to see this flick than I do Man of Steel. I had to to do some looking around to find the Blu-Ray + DVD combo pack. fye didn't have it and I saw no point in picking up the DVD version when I could pick up the combo pack with a ton of extra content. Fortunately, target had the combo pack on sale for $15.

I'm showing Link a lot of love late. Not only did I get his latest game, but I got not one, but two, two t-shirts to pimp him out on. I especially like the one on the right. There were some green shirts with the Skyward Sword Triforce design, but I think these have way more personality to them. Say what you will about fye, but they have one of the greatest selections of t-shirts I've ever seen.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Favorite Tunes #88: Special Stage

This edition of Favorite Tunes features music from Sonic CD, Super Mario 3D World, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze to name a few.

Dub Slash - Streets of Rage 3 (GEN)

This beat gives me the image of some people walking into the wrong part of town. They get approached by the locals who demand they pay a toll. They don't have any sort of payment so they get the crap beaten out of them. As of this writing, I've only played Streets of Rage 3 once and the boss associated with this tune really did a number on me. Still, a pretty sick track, though.

Lightning Returns - Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (PS3, 360)

I have not played a single game in the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, but I've heard... things. Most of them bad. I have, however, listened to the soundtracks of all three games, which has been grade A material across the board. Lightning Returns is a triumphant theme, even if many never wished to see the particular protagonist come back.

Special Stage JP - Sonic CD (SCD)

I adore both versions of Sonic CD's soundtrack, but it wasn't until OverClocked Remixes Sonic CD: Temporal Duality album that I really got into the Japanese version of the Special Stage music. After Listening to Base for a Better Tomorrow, an arrangement of the aforementioned piece, I went back and checked out the original, which is now a Sonic tune I come back to again and again.

Holy Princess (Solange's Theme) - Code of Princess (3DS)

Code of Princess, a game I've owned for nearly a year and just got around to playing may not be a triple A 3DS game, but for those that like the beat 'em up genre mixed with some RPG elements, it's a title that I'd recommend you check out. Princess Solange may be slow but her insane strength more than makes up for it.

The Bullet Bill Brigade - Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)

Creative, superbly design levels, multiple characters each with their own unique play styles and some of the best music to grace the series make Super Mario 3D World a masterpiece. One of the things that really reminded you that Bowser was in charge of his own army was the tanks that populated World 8. They made their long overdue return in 3D World with a brand new militaristic theme.

Funky Waters (Amiss Abyss) - Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Wii U)

The Donkey Kong Country series had laid dormant for years, but was given a much needed revival in 2010 when Retro Studios released Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii. Said released was followed up with this year's Tropical Freeze with David Wise returning to series music duties. I liked Kenji Yamamoto's work on Returns but I have to admit that it's quite nice to have Wise back at the helm. And to all those complaining that the game is too hard, Cranky Kong has three words for you: suck it up.

Favorite Tunes Database

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

5 of the Most Aggravating Gamer Types

Every medium has its share of bad eggs and gaming is certainly no different. However, thanks to the power of the internet, their presence is well known, no matter how much we may wish it wasn't. These types of gamers wouldn't be so bad if they weren't so vocal, but when you give someone who loves to raise their voice a megaphone, I guess screaming is all you can expect.

The Hardcore Gamer

Ah, the hardcore gamer, the passionate, dedicated type that does much contributing to help keep the industry alive. Let me say, that is very much appreciated. Probably has more games than he or she could possibly has time to play. Hey, there's nothing wrong with really getting into your hobby. This very blog wouldn't be here if I didn't feel as strongly as I do about gaming. But when you start belittling others just because they aren't into gaming as much as you are, Houston, we have a serious problem.

The hardcore gamer is one that takes great pride in the hobby to the point of thinking that the class they are a part of is one far above everyone else. In the mind of the hardcore, gaming is for them and them alone. Those awful casual gamers have no place in gaming and are mucking things up for the true gamers. Casuals will be the death of gaming! They all must die! *Sigh* I love this hobby as much as the next person but the hardcore gamer can be one of, if not the biggest embarrassment to the medium. You need only scroll down into a comments section of an article or review to get a sampling of why the gaming industry gets the ridicule that it does. With so much of the hardcore crowd behaving like unsupervised brats, you're better off just calling yourself a gamer and being done with them.

The Nintendo Hater

Once upon a time, Nintendo was a much loved company. These days? Well, The Big N is still liked but there are so many gamers wishing for the death of the company that you'd think Nintendo murdered their first born.

Hating Nintendo has been popular for a long time but it really blew up during the Wii era. An SD system in the HD age, motion controls, and a heavy focous on casual gamers. Many believe Nintendo had no right to win the previous console generation due to the aforementioned things, however, that doesn't change the fact that they did.

Now you have Nintendo haters rejoicing over the lackluster Wii U sales, as if they were suffering a nasty case of butthurt from the Wii outselling the PS3. Right now the Wii U has the better selection of games to choose from on the next generation of consoles. Of course the haters will tell you that LEGO City Undercover, Super Mario 3D World, The Wonderful 101 and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze all suck because these games are on a Nintendo console, are kiddy and not rated M or some other reason that was more than likely pulled out of their rectum.

I will fully admit that Nintendo is far from perfect. They can be quite old fashioned and really set in their ways. The Wii U's sluggish sales are the company's own fault due to their lack of good advertisement. But the gaming industry would be a much poorer place without them. Besides, with an outstanding handheld like the 3DS, why should anyone loath Nintendo? Oh, right. Because everyone else is doing it, and they aren't doing things like Sony and Microsoft.

The Sonic Fanbase

There's being passionate about something you enjoy and then there's acting like a raving lunatic. No doubt you already know which of those two categories the less logical side of this fanbase falls into.

Whenever a change is implemented to Sonic and company that isn't like the days of old, no matter how big or small, the Sonic fanbase will absolutely lose their sanity, raging to the point where all the anger management help in the world will do nothing to fix their disposition. If you happen to be within range of a fan like this when news of the next Sonic game hits the net, you might wanna take cover, lest you get hit by a flipped table or some other form of projectile.

The Sonic fanbase is the very reason the trope unpleasable fanbase was coined. Nothing, and I mean nothing seems to appease these people and the slightest change to a character's appearance will set them off like a rocket. Do you know how many fans honestly believe Sonic is now ruined because he has blue arms in Sonic Boom? For these people giving a hedgehog that was already blue for the last 23 plus years blue arms is the end of the world. I guess it's a good thing Sonic's eyes went green in 1998 rather than in 2014 or else Sonic fans would really be on the warpath. Oh wait, that didn't stop them from whining when Sonic kept his green eyes for Sonic the Hedgehog 4. Never mind, then.

Much of the hate the Sonic fanbase holds is towards the modern era of Sonic games, and a lot of it is undeserved. All it took was one game, Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, and Sonic could do nothing right in eyes of many. Because of Sonic '06, many mondern Sonic games are viewed as rubbish. True, Sonic '06 was a train wreck of a game, full of glitches and poorly executed ideas but to dismiss all modern era Sonic games and crap on greats like Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations is just ludicrous.

If Sonic fans are not happy, they want everyone in the entire planet, nay, the entire solar system to know about it. I find it more than a little frightening that a group of angry gamers can get that vocal about a blue hedgehog in shoes.

The Console War Gamer

This is the gamer that screams loud and proud that his or her precious system is number one and everything else is inferior. Any system they do not own must be put down in order to justify their console of choice. These gamers twist the facts to suit their needs and will even go so far as to say that superb titles are garbage simply because they are not on the system they went with. There are actually message boards for these trolls to associate with, but why anyone would want to be bothered with these kinds of narrow minded, irrational jerks is beyond me.

The Stop Having Fun Gamer

What's the whole point of playing a game? Why, to have fun, of course! But if you aren't playing a game a specific way, you aren't playing it correctly. Meet the stop having fun type, a gamer that can only have a good time when a playing a game one way: theirs.

Playing Castlevania: Rondo of Blood with Maria and not Richter? YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG! The only way to truly experience Rondo of Blood and get a challenge out of the game is by playing with Richter and all his stiff controls. Maria makes the game too easy with her animal buddies, sliding and double jump.

Mario Kart sucks because of all the items. Snaking is the true way to enjoy a Mario Kart game. If you're not snaking, we don't want to play Mario Kart with you.

Super Smash Bros with items? BORING! Turn the items off and only play on Final Destination so we can make Smash like every other fighter out there. Oh and only use Fox.

Who died and appointed these clowns the figure heads to tell me how I should play my games? If you wanna strip things down and only play under certain conditions, fine, but don't go preaching that crap like it's the gospel. These fools are the reason I don't go to the Smash Dojo and have backed away from the competitive fighting community. The elitist stench these guys carry is absolutely foul.

Badawesome Moments in Gaming Part 2

Inspired by the late Nintendo Power's "That Was Awesome!" section, this feature highlights moments in video games that aren't just awesome, but badawesome. There will of course be spoilers.

Kirby Storms the Halberd - Kirby Super Star (SNES)

Meta Knight is preparing to take over Dream Land and end the lazy lifestyle of its inhabitants. Kirby is not having that. He boards a warp star and crash lands onto Meta Knight's Halberd warship, taking out some mooks as he hits the deck and then proceeds to lay waste to every enemy that blocks his path It sure is a great way to start one of best games in this compilation release.

Zero's Shut Up Hannibal to Weil  - Mega Man Zero 4 (GBA)

Weil plans to perform a colony drop on Area Zero, the one area on the planet that is lush with green following the devastation of the wars that have gone by. Weil mocks Zero, stating that because he's a hero, he doesn't have the spine to kill him. Zero responds by saying that he could care less about justice and that if an enemy appears before him, he won't hesitate, echoing his final words at the end of the first Mega Man Zero.

Ascending to Little Planet - Sonic CD (SCD)

As Super Sonic, in addition to a speed increase, Sonic also gains the power of flight. Without this form, Sonic is just a fast blue hedgehog, which can make getting to sky high places rather difficult. Difficult, but not impossible. Using his speed combined with a cliff to act as a ramp, Sonic launches himself towards the chained Little Planet, spin dashing through solid rock until he successfully reaches his destination. They sure did put Sonic's first console FMV sequence to good use. The animation in this scene is still unbelievably gorgeous to this day.

Escape from Mt. Molten - Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

Melty Molten galaxy is home to many volcanoes but you can actually go inside one of them, Mt Molten, and collect some Star Bits. You don't want to doddle, though, because in a few seconds the volcano is going to erupt. Make you way to the launch star and Mario blasts off as Mt. Molten erupts in what has got to be one of the coolest scenes in the whole game. You cannot tell me that Mario doesn't look like a boss as he's flying away from the erupting Mt. Molten.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Art #7: Captain America Gallery

The date is April 4, which means Captain America: The Winter Soldier is now in theaters. I loved the first Captain America movie that came out a few years back and was thrilled to find out it was getting a sequel. The Winter Soldier looks like it's gonna be one of my favorite flicks of 2014. So, um, yeah, here's some Captain America art. And I still need to see The Avengers movie.

By DanLuVisiArt
By Riccardo-Fasoli
By Eriya0
By Cris-Art
By mbreitweiser
By mbreitweiser
By Zenithuk
By m7781
By kevinbolk

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Favorite Tunes #87: Yoko Shimomura Edition

Surprise, surprise, Yoko Shimomura is one of my favorite video game music composers. The lady has been in the business for over 20 years making music to some of the most celebrated series. So I'm finally giving the gal her due in Favorite Tunes.

Dearly Beloved - Kingdom Hearts (PS2)

It's hard not to think about Kingdom Hearts without getting Shimomura's compositions stuck in your head. She's just as much a part of the series as Sora, Donald and Goofy are. The series wouldn't be half as memorable without the music she lent, all starting out with this lovely, gentle piano piece, which serves as a title theme.

Dr. Wily Stage - Mega Man 5 (NES)

While Mari Yamaguchi did the bulk of Mega Man 5's score, Yoko Shimomura contributed a single piece of music to the game, the famous Dr. Wily Stage theme, one of my personal favorite Wily themes. For whatever reason, she was not given credit for her work. She did quite a number with this track and it once again blows my mind that composers can write such complex music with only five sound channels that the NES offered.

Live-A-Live - Live-A-Live (SNES)

A Super Famicom title released late in the console's life, Live-A-Live is one of the many Square games that stayed in Japan. This RPG had you playing as multiple characters each with his and her own unique story. The title theme is an epic-sounding music piece. In some portions of the game, it even doubles as a battle theme.

Guile Stage - Street Fighter II (ARC CPS I)

Here it is, the theme that goes with everything. Well, most people would say the CPS II version of Guile's theme goes with everything but even on CPS I arcade hardware, Guile's stage music still sounds highly patriotic.

Pain the Universe - Legend of Mana (PS)

Legend of Mana may not be the most famous game in the Mana series, but you cannot deny that it has one dynamite soundtrack. This rockin' tune is one of the game's earlier battle themes.

Fight Against a Somewhat Stronger Monster - Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES)

The RPG that comes highly recommended to those that love the genre and those that want no association with it. It's full of RPG elements but remains totally accessible to outsiders by incoroporatng lots of Super Mario elements and being able to pick and choose your battles. Speaking of battles, I absolutely adore this theme. It's got record scratches and sick drum rolls.

Favorite Tunes Database

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Art #6: Joker Gallery

In honor of April Fool's Day, this Art feature is all about Batman's most dangerous nemesis, the arguably the greatest villain in comic book history, the clown prince of crime, the Joker.

By FzwrAym
By morganagod
By isono yapio
Unknown Artist
By lehuss
By Cinar
By AnnaWieszczyk
By MiaCabrera
By MiaCabrea