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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fantastic First Level Themes Vol. 6

They say you never forget your first. First kiss. First car. First level of a video game. We're here to focus on that last one. The first level of a video game can say a lot about the rest of the game. It can be a great way to grab the player for invested play time. For a lot of us, not only do we remember the first level because it is the start of a game, but because the music with that beginning level really stayed with us.

The Hard Corps - Contra: Hard Corps (GEN)

There's been a security breach. Baddies are running rampant. And the whole city is on fire. Enter you, literally crashing onto the scene so fast a set of enemies couldn't react in time. Now that's the way you start out a game. Let's go! Time to put in that work! Annnnnd then the game quickly puts in that work on you. You thought other Contra games were tough? Son, please. This is Contra: Hard Corps and it will firmly imprint it's giant boot on your butt. Oh and that dude up top that loves throwing cars at you? He's but one of the first stage's mini bosses. But hey, at least that music is getting you stoked, right? Right?

Opening Stage - Mega Man X2 (SNES)

Peace is something that never lasts in the Mega Man games. I mean, the most anyone ever gets to enjoy of it is usually six months or so. Within half a year's time, trouble starts brewing for X and once again, he has to show those trouble making Mavericks what's up. On this extremely rare occasion X doesn't start the level by teleporting in, but rather arriving on a hover bike along with the famous Green Biker Duder. After the opposition puts some lasers into his ride, X swiftly returns the favor by crashing it right into them. The intro stage to Mega Man X 2 is much shorter compared to the first game, probably helped due to dashing being a function now built into X's systems. As you make your way through crushers and blast renegade robots, you're treated to an electrifying opening tune that's so good, it comes back for the final level.

Corneria - Star Fox Zero (Wii U)

If you live in the universe of Star Fox and Corneria is your home, why have't you moved? The place is always a breeding ground for destruction and the Star Fox crew always has to go in and set things right. The Corneria theme for Star Fox Zero really paints the beautiful city in dire straits. Like, the city, really needs some heroes.

Patched Plains - Kirby: Planet Robobot (3DS)

Don't you just hate it when you wake up from your nap only to find your planet overtaken by an army of robot invaders? Whelp, looks like Kirby's gotta save the day again. But this time, he gets so freakin' sweet mech armor!  Despite Popstar being overrun by robots, the game still begins with a jovial theme that's sure to have you humming and whistling right along with it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Favorite Tunes #158: The Rain Has Come

We've been getting a lot of rain here in Virginia Beach. A bit of the music featured in this week's favorite tunes reflects the dreary weather as of late. We can't always have sunshine. There's some upbeat music mixed with the downtrodden music as well.

It's Raining Somewhere Else - Undertale (PC) 

I've made mention of Undertale's outstanding soundtrack multiple times in Favorite Tunes. The game's main theme has so many arrangements, consisting of different genres that you never get tired of hearing it. Of course, when the music isn't a new spin on the main theme, it still manages to stay on your mind. A jazzed up version of Sans' theme? Why, yes, please.

Dark Groove - Jazz Jackrabbit 2 (PC)

When I think of rabbits, two spring to mind, the wise cracking, carrot eating Bugs Bunny, and the gun touting Jazz Jackrabbit. Outside of the 2002 GBA game, titled Jazz Jackrabbit (which was a completely original game from the the 1994 title of the same name), everyone's favorite green rabbit that isn't named Bucky, hasn't had a new game in years. At least, the music to the first two Jazz games are easily obtained on Loudr even if his first two games haven't been given a Steam release.

Cute Mafia - Street Fighter EX3 (PS2)

The Street Fighter EX games have never gained the fame that the 2D Street Fighter entries have enjoyed. That kinda sucks because they really aren't bad games. I'd love to see the original characters Arika created for these games return to current Street Fighter titles, but since Arika owns those characters, that will probably never happen. Along with some cool looking characters, the EX games are also known for their extremely high quality soundtracks.

Bonus Game - Pilotwings (SNES)

Despite the series long history, there have only been a total of three Pilotwings games. Nintendo doesn't usually open the doors and late the planes, gliders, jet packs and all other forms of air travel out unless they have some new hardware to show off and even then, sometimes Pilotwings is still grounded. The first game has some delightfully catchy music composed by Soyo Oka, who also wrote the score for Super Mario Kart.

Pipe Island - Yoshi's Safari (SNES)

You say you've never played this game? Well that's not too surprising. You did need the Super Scope 6 to play it and that thing only worked for so many SNES titles. With the Wii U's motion controls, you'd think they would re-release more games from their light gun library. I always loved the western feel of this track.

Rolento Battle - Final Fight (ARC)

Originally meant to be a follow up to the 1987 Street Fighter called Street Fighter '89, this beat 'em up became it's own game taking on the title of Final Fight, but still being part of the Street Fighter Universe. Rolento isn't the toughest boss in the game, but he loves his grenades and he's quick on his feet.

Favorite Tunes Database

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Remix of the Week: Chrome Gadget (SNES Remix)

This week's remix comes from one of my favorite remixers, The Legend o Renegade. After a four month absence, he's made his return with a slew of  SNES remixes, mainly from Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Chrome Gadget was an underrated them from my all-time favorite Sonic game and Regegade keeps it faithful to the original Genesis tune all the while putting his own unique touch on it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

UNDERVEIL, an Undertale Arrange Soundtrack

I've made mention on this blog several times that Undertale has an amazing soundtrack. So it doesn't really surprise me that there are a number of Undertale fan arrangement albums out there. I haven't listened to them all, but I've heard a few and UNDERVEIL is easily some of the best Undertale fan arrangement music you can find.

Like the original Undertale soundtrack, UNDERVEIL covers a number of genres, including chiptune, club, jazz and some dub step. I was really surprised at how good this album turned out. Unlike a lot of other Undertale fan albums, UNDERVEIL is free. You can also listen to the whole soundtrack on the site in case you're unsure about downloading this one. But after hearing the first few tracks, you'll probably put this one on your hard drive in  heartbeat.


Monday, September 19, 2016

So Gumball and Regular Show are Ending

I've been an avid fan of Cartoon Network since early 2002. This was the year that I got into Dragon Ball and became very familiar with the shows that were created exclusively for the channel like Powerpuff Girls, Johnny Bravo, Dexter's Laboratory, the list goes on and on. I was there to see the network decay that set in around 2004 and from 2009 to 2011, I didn't watch much of the network. mainly due to not having cable during those years. But even before 2009, I found a lot of what was on the channel to be garbage. In 2012, I got cable again and this is when I saw Adventure Time and Regular Show and was like "Cartoon Network has good shows again?" Shortly after, I discovered The Amazing World of Gumball and had reasons to watch the network regularly once more. And recently, we heard news that The Amazing World of Gumball would end with it's 6th season and Regular Show would concluded with its 8th season.

Understandably, a lot of fans are upset over this news. These are two shows that helped Cartoon Network escape Network decay and ushered in what could you could call a new golden age for cartoons. These are two examples I would bring up as proof that we still have good cartoons today whenever I'd see someone foolishly claiming that all of the shows we have TV currently suck.

I share much of what fans are feeling over the conclusion of these shows. But all good things come to an end. I love the DC Animated Universe and hated to see it go. But we still get the occasional awesome DC Animated film from talent that helped make up that wonderful world. And whenever I miss it too much, I can always go back and rewatch those shows. Same with Gargoyles and TaleSpin.

Regular Show may have had the plug pulled on it due to decreased ratings over the past few seasons. There's no confirmation if that was the case, or if  the CN feels the show has run its course and the time has come to wrap things up. As for Gumball, I don't know why the show is ending at season six, but if the creator Ben Bocquelet  was going to leave the show after the the end of this season, I don't think I'd want to see a seventh season Gumball without him calling the shots.

Some are calling the end of Regular Show and Gumball the end of an era for CN. The channel does have amazing shows such as Steven Universe and We Bare Bears but Teen Titans Go! gets way too much air time and the Powerpuff Girls 2016 reboot has not been well received but has been green lit for a second season (probably because CN has so much PPG merch they want to sell, which I think was one of the main reasons the show came back in the first place).

If Gumball and Regular Show must end, I'd rather they go out while the quality of the shows are still good. The Simpson has been swimming in the pool of seasonal rot for well over a decade and Family Guy has jumped in right along with it. Lakewood Plaza Turbo looks like its going to be a great addition to CN's roster and we've still got Steven Universe and We Bare Bears and Clarence to look forward to. Gumball just began it's 5th season and The final season of Regular Show starts on September 26. Let's enjoy the new episodes while we got 'em.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Remix of the Week: Ink or Sink

What's not to like about Splatoon? It has a pretty fun single player campaign (something most games in the shooter genre could care less about these days), the Inklings have got to be some of the coolest characters to grace gaming, the game is innovative and the soundtrack is the bees knee. For this Remix of the Week, we've got an arrangement of one of my favorite Splatoon jams, Ink or Sink, remixed by NOQQYSC. Keep listening and you'll hear a bit of an old favorite from another Nintendo game mixed in there.

NOQQYSC has the song up for download here.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Splatoon: One Year Later

It amuses me when people say Nintendo has not had a new IP in years before the 2015 release of Splatoon . There was The Wonderful 101 in 2013 and some quick research will show that there have been numerous others, but I guess new IPs from The Big N only count if they garner critical acclaim and are released on consoles. Nevertheless, Splatoon is not only my favorite new IP to come out of Nintendo in recent years, it's become one of my favorite games in general.

Splatoon manages to stand out from so many other games in the shooter genre in a number of areas, For one, it, it's a lot more colorful. Most shooting games have dark, saturated, bleak colors. That's not necessarily a knock at shooters that are of a more serious nature, but there's a reason they are often refereed to as "brown shooters". By contrast, Splatoon has popping, vibrant colors that are a joy to behold. You may thinking I'm only feffering to the ink, which looks great in all its HD glory, but I'm also talking about the scenery. So much of it looks jaw dropping and it can be hard to appreciate it when you're so busy inking turn or trying desperately not to get splatted while staying on the tower. Go in recon mode sometime and just soak up the surroundings. 

Dressed to ink. And splat.

The concept of covering the ground with ink brings something to the shooter genre we haven't seen before. True, you still go around taking out foes in Splatoon, but the way you go about carrying that business out is drastically different from other titles. Inking the land ensures that you've always got a spot to retreat from danger when things get hairy. Swimming in you ink to evade the enemy and surprising them is also something new. It may not seem like it on paper, but the whole inking dynamic truly does make Splatoon in a world of its own. Plus, covering the ground with ink is a lot of freaking fun. 

So Splatoon is more than a year old and it continues to be a game that I play regularly. Splatfests are no more and I'm very saddened to see them go, but it hasn't taken the wind out of may sails. I haven't played a shooter this much since Perfect Dark. I'd forgotten what it was like to have a shooting game to just boot up and play whenever you feel like it.  It's fun to come up with new outfit combinations with the wide assortment of gear and I love seeing all the crazy posts my fellow squids come up with on Miiverse, which makes touring my plaza every time I turn on the game a riot. Sure, the experience can be marred when you have the disconnects and occasional hacker to deal with but even so, those hiccups aren't enough to stop me from making a mess. So until those servers go down, I'm going to continue painting the the town orange, pink, blue and all the other colors Splatoon provides. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mario Kart Makes Us a Bunch of Savages

By kevinbolk

Since the series debuted in 1992 on the SNES, the Mario Kart games have been one of the most successful racing franchises in the gaming medium. It's also been one of, if not the most chaotic. When you mix up the racing formula with Mario locals such as lava filled castles, ice rinks, cruise ships, monster truck pits and give the racers shells, banana peels and piranha plants to take out the opposition, you know you're in for an insane racing experience.

Hey, I know him. He's every person that's ever
driven a car.

Have you ever seen the 1950 Goofy short Motor Mania? If you haven't, you really should. It's a classic. In this short, Goofy starts out as Mr. Walker, a mild mannered individual who upon first glance, may seem like a total square. But when Mr. Walker gets behind the wheel of his car, a strange, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde transformation occurs. Every ounce of kindness he once possessed disappears and he becomes Mr. Wheeler, a crazy motorist. As Mr. Wheeler, he's rude to fellow drivers and pedestrians alike, in a constant rush to reach his destination, not caring how reckless he's driving to get there.

Mr. Wheeler sounds familiar, doesn't he? Of course he does. He's a good chunk of the people you encounter on and off the road every day of your life. Motor Mania may be a short that was made in the 1950s, but it hasn't aged at all. Cars have the power to turn people into twisted, warped versions of themselves, bringing out some of their worst qualities. How many times have you been cut off, cut someone off yourself, caused an accident or nearly caused an accident because you were in such a hurry to get to where you were going? Not all drivers are inconsiderate jerks, but more often than not, these are the ones we hear about. 99% of car stories center around a-hole drivers and fender benders. What's all this got to do with Mario Kart? Everything.

Yoshi is about to make the lives of those around
him very miserable.  

Just as cars can make good people awful human beings, Mario Kart makes us a bunch of bloodthirsty racers that will do whatever it takes to get that first place W. The saying goes that there's no such thing as friends in Mario Kart and man, is that ever true. You can be with your spouse, best friend, a soldier who saved you during the war. None of that matters when it comes to Mario Kart. When Lakitu signals you to go, anyone you're playing Mario Kart with becomes your mortal enemy. If you're in a losing position, you will not hesitate to toss those red shells, blast them with the Super Horn, or toss a Bob-omb in front of them to ruin their day. Tanks and machine guns may not be involved but make no mistake, Mario Kart is still a war and every soldier is out for themselves.

In some ways, Mario Kart is like driving in real life. The car turns you into a psycho, there are constant crashes, and Luigi's Death Stare is the look every single driver gets when they are peeved, which is quite frequently. Just as we rush to get to our destination in real life, we rush to get into first place or winning position in Mario Kart and you had better believe we will ruin our friendships to win. Mario Kart is serious business.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Favorite Tunes #157: The King Has Returned

Work was... um, something else last week, so I didn't get around to putting in the work on the blog that I'd have liked. Favorite Tunes and Remix of the Week as well as editorials were MIA. Since I won't be as swamped as I was the week before, I hope to get back on track. For this edition of Favorite Tunes, we've got music from the latest installment of The King of Fighters series, Chrono Trigger and the 1990s classic beat 'em up, Knights of the Round, to name half the list.

Survivors Under the Sky (Ikari Team) - The King of Fighters XIV (PS4)

So King of Fighters XIV recently dropped on the PS4. And the soundtrack? Soooooo goood! I really shouldn't be so surprised that the music is this incredible, but I'd honestly forgotten how good KoF music is. It's been years since I've played a game in this franchise but I've had this particularly theme playing in my head for days now,

Round 5 - Knights of the Round (ARC)

Like a lot of Capcom's arcade titles from the 80s and 90s, Knights of the Round received a home console port. The version of the game, I'm more familiar with is the arcade version since it was included on Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 2. This three player beat 'em up allowed you to level up your warrior as you progress and its middle ages setting really helped it stand out from a lot of other games in the genre. The soundtrack is among the best done on the CPS-I hardware.

Grand Canyon - Rad Racer (NES)

Before Final Fantasy became much of what Square would be known for, the company had their hand in games other than RPGs, such as this quite good arcade style NES racing title, Rad Racer. The game even supported 3D and came with a pair of glasses. The catchy soundtrack was composed by Nobuo Uematsu. In Japan, Rad Racer was known as Highway Star and had a much more badawesome cover than the American and European box art.

Sealed Door - Chrono Trigger (SNES)

Time travel can be tricky business in any medium, be it comic book, movies, TV shows or literature. Thankfully Chrono Trigger's time hopping adventures are quite easy to follow. In the ruined era of 2300 A.D. Chrono and the gang come across a sealed area containing the Epoch, a time machine that allows the gang to travel to 1999 to prevent the current horrific future from ever coming to pass.

Book 2 - Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Wii U)

Well, after that beautiful, but super depressing music we just heard, how about we cheer up with some Nintendo music? The Captain Toad levels from Super Mario 3D World were a nice change of pace from the platforming action. About a year later, the jumping impaired fungus and his lady friend, Toadette would get their own, charming, cute and delightfully fun game.

Marble Zone - Sonic the Hedgehog (GEN)

I often hear people complaining about Marble Zone because it slows down the pace of the game after the blistering speed that Green Hill Zone provided. To the people that think Sonic games are supposed to be all speed, Sonic titles are still platform games and that holds true for both the modern and classic titles. Marble Zone is light on it's puzzle elements but I'm perfectly fine with that. Move some blocks, break some blocks, avoid getting crushed and move along.

Favorite Tunes Database

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

"We Hate These Games That Aren't Even Out Yet!" - Irate Fans

When the trailer for Metroid Prime: Federation Force hit YouTube a year ago, I was honestly in disbelief at the number of dislike and fans that were going above and beyond to let their hate for the game be known. Call me crazy, but I honestly didn't see the harm in the cutesy looking soldiers and radically different art style this game was taking. It was, after all, a spin off title. Metroid Prime Pinball was also a spin off and it hardly killed the Prime series. Nevertheless, fans were in a uproar because Federation Force was not the Metroid game they wanted. There was even a petition on to get the game canceled in favor of  ahem "real" Metroid game. History has once again repeated itself with the trailers for Pikmin 3DS and Paper Mario: Color Splash being met with overwhelming negativity. 

I never even gave much, if any thought to a Pikmin game on the 3DS, so I'm a little taken back to find out that one was in the works all this time. But why fans are so butt hurt that Pikmin 3DS is a side scrolling platformer and not the traditional RTS games that the first three console versions have been truly mystifies me. The 3DS is a powerful machine but not powerful enough to manage a Pikmin game in the same manner as the console games. Besides, Pikmin 4 is already in development for the NX, so I don't see why Pikmin fans have their pitch forks raised. 

Game isn't even out and it already sucks. Why?
Because it isn't like The Thousand Year Door. SMH.

Fans have been dissatisfied with the Paper Mario games for years now. Super Paper Mario didn't get the same reception the original Paper Mario or it's greatly improved sequel, The Thousand Year Door enjoyed, but most fans pretty much agree that Sticker Star is the Anti-Christ of the series. Shigeru Miyamoto had Intelligent Systems do away with the partner System of the previous games, drastically turning Sticker Star into something else entirely. So the Trailer for Color Splash, which revealed that the game is once again, not like The Thousand Year Door, has fans up in arms.

The trailer for Color Splash, honestly looks fun. But most fans are so caught up with "IT ISN'T LIKE THOUSAND YEAR DOOR, BOOOOOO!!!" Should every Paper Mario game be exactly like that game or close enough to it?  For crying out loud, the game isn't even out yet, and it has already been labeled as trash because it isn't like everyone's favorite Paper Mario game. 

As was the case with Federation Force, Color Splash as well as Pikmin 3DS have ridiculous petitions on for the games to be scrapped in favor of proper games in the series. Just stop. Stop with these useless petitions and stop embarrassing yourselves. The petition didn't work for Federation Force and the game was not the disaster so many made it out to before they even played it. You don't want these games? Fine. Don't buy them. It's called voting with your wallet. But despising a game that hasn't even been released just because it isn't exactly what you want is just dumb. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Remix of the Week: Sewer Surfin' (80s Synth Remix)

This week's Remix of the Week comes from My New Soundtrack. He's composed a a sick 80s style synth remix of Turtles in Time's Sewer Surfin'. But that's not all! Combed with Sewer Surfin' is Bury My Shell at Wounded Knee. Happy listening.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

But For Me, It Was Tueday

Have you ever found yourself laughing at a scene in a movie that wasn't intended to be funny? Perhaps its the way the lines are delivered from the actors and actresses or whatever horrible thing befalls the characters on screen. Or maybe its just the sadist in all of us stirring.

One of my favorite scenes in the original Final Destination is the death of  Terry, Carter's girlfriend. I could describe the scene in detail, but YouTube has saved me the trouble and well, it really is one of those things that you've just got to see if you haven't.

Horrific thing to befall anyone? Yes. Funny? Oh, yes! When I first saw this movie back in 2000, I didn't see it coming. Even though I know what will happen now, I still find it hilarious. A good portion of comedy comes from tragedy, the misfortune of others. How many times have you watched a Let's Play of the Game Grumps, Dashie Games or whoever your favorite YouTube Let's Player is and found yourself doubling over in laughter over their repeated failures? Answer: A lot.

In 1994, the live action Street Fighter movie was released in theaters. The general opinion is that this is an awful movie. But Street Fighter is so bad it's good. This is one of those movies that I'd would own so I can watch to laugh at how freaking terrible it is. It was Raul Jualia's last movie before he passed away and he really hammed it up as everyone's favorite dictator, M. Bison. Where he's saying "OF COURSE!" or "GAME OVER!" he gave some of the best cheese in cinema with this performance. He also gave us one of the most famous and memorable responses to "You killed my parents" in any medium.

Well dang, son.

Two things make this scene work so well. M. Bison's callous delivery of the line and Chun-Li's reaction to the fact that he has no memory of the event that was so life changing for her. For him, it was just another day of villainy and why he could have given her a no word reply, the one he does give her is a freaking hilarious way of saying that he could not care less about it. This scene was one of the best things that came out of the Street Fighter movie,

There was a animated Street Fighter series that ran for two seasons, based off of the 1994 movie. It sucked but it also gave us some Bison moments that were equally as good as the ones in the movie. Once again Chun-Li confronts Bison about the death of her father. Annnnnnd Bison serves up another great reply.

Dude. M. Bison is a "You killed my father" comeback machine!