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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Favorite Tunes #209: 2017 Was Really Somthing

Man, oh man, 2017 was quite a year, both in terms of gaming and in general. The PS4 continued to sell well throughout the year while Nintendo made a huge comeback with the Switch. There was no shortage of good to great games to play so unless you're an extremely picky person, that's the only way I can see 2017 sucking for games. With so many games to choose from, that also meant there was plenty of memorable music to go around.

City Ruins : Rays of Light - NieR: Automata (PC, PS4)

Yeah, yeah, it took me this long to post music from NieR: Automata. What is wrong with me? In my defense, I did start the game pretty late. NeiR has engaging combat and a wealth of SHMUP sections and both control magnificently. Oh and then there's the game's soundtrack, which is just, well, wow. I mean, listen to this theme.

Maverick - Tiny Barbarian DX (PC, NS)

Originally released on PC in four episodes, now you can get Tiny Barbarian DX in physical form on the Switch for $30. It takes a few hours to complete each episode so the game isn't as short as you might think. From the retro visuals to the chiptune soundtrack, this game wears its old school vibe loud and proud and that goes for the game's difficulty as well. Challenging bosses, platforming and enemy placement are plentiful in this game.

Die House - Cuphead (PC, XBO)

Have I mentioned how freaking awesome the soundtrack to Cuphead is? Because that stuff is baller AF. Between the fantastic jazz and swing numbers, you've got the occasional vocal number. In case the message wasn't clear in this song, King Dice is not someone you want to trifle with.

Shrine - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U, NS)

There was very little in the way of dungeons in Breath of the Wild and personally, I didn't mind this one bit. So much of the experience came from explore the game's massive overworld. The game's numerous shines serve as mini dungeons and often times there is more than one solution to the puzzle driven ones. Some say this is an arrangement of a musical track from Link's Awakening, but I'm not hearing it.

The Abyssal Seas - Blaster Master Zero (3DS, NS)

The original Blaster Master was a pretty tough game. Blaster Master Zero will leave players far less frustrated while placing far more emphasis on the story than the original game did. The majority of the music is brand new, which may rub fans of the original the wrong way, but I've got no complaints from everything I've heard.

Staff Roll - Super Mario Odyssey (NS)

When I finished Super Mario Odyssey, I couldn't help but smile as the credits rolled and I was treated to a collage of all the locations Mario and Cappy visited. It truly did feel like the adventure of a lifetime. The Staff Roll theme is an arrangement of Fossil Falls, one of the game's very best music pieces. It seemed like the best choice to end of 2017. In spite of all the crap that happened this year involving the medium, 2017 was still one of the absolute best years in gaming. Here's hoping 2018 is just as good, if not better.

Favorite Tunes Database

Friday, December 29, 2017

Remix of the Week: Bonneton (Super Mario Odyssey)

As much as I love Jump Up, Super Star!, the song's overwhelming popularity means that other great tracks from Super Mario Odyssey are getting screwed. Simply searching for remixes from said game will net you a ton of results for the jazzy musical number. Nevertheless, I did come across several tracks that remixes the numerous kingdoms. This particular remix comes from Neku, who gave Bonneton the chiptune treatment. Very head bop worth stuff.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Favorite Tunes #208: Insert Your Christmas Themed Title Here

I couldn't really think of a Christmasy title for this one. All of the ones I wanted to use, I used up in previous Christmas themed Favorite Tunes, hence, the lazy title I went with. Anyhoo, I've taken care of all my Christmas shopping and the only thing I want for the holiday is for my friends and family to have a very good one. The same goes for you.

Frozen Solid and Chilled - Yoshi's Woolly World (Wii U, 3DS)

At the risk of cheesing off a lot of folks, I think Yoshi's Woolly World might be the best Yoshi game. The level design is fun, varied and seeking out the collectibles is highly rewarding. I like this game so much I bought it a second time when the 3DS version hit under the Poochy and Yoshi's Woolly World title. The overall soundtrack is outstanding and every single winter theme is a winner.

Frozen Factory Act 1 - Sonic Lost World (Wii U, 3DS, PC)

This is a track I posted years ago, back in 2013, I believe. I completed Sonic Lost World recently and while the game has some problems, I don't think it's a bad game and certainly doesn't deserved to be lumped into the pile of Sonic games that are trash. Well, the Wii U and PC version, at least, as I have not played the 3DS version. This has been one of my abosolute favorite winter themed video game music tracks. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I listened to it repeatedly the first time I heard it.

Ice Brain - Remastered Tracks Mega Man Zero 2

I think the Mega Man Zero games (of which there are only four) are due for another re-release. Yes, we had the Mega Man Zero Collection on the DS several years ago, but how about an HD Switch version a la the Azure STriker Gunvolt: Striker Pack? That would be excellent all bit itself but the icing on the cake would be the remastered soundtracks from all four Mega Man Zero albums thrown in as selectable BGM.

Snow Go - Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy (PS4)

The Crash Bandicoot  N. Sane Trilogy was a remake done so remarkably well that it will be my preferred way to revisit the three PS Crash platformers. I don't think every piece of remixed music tops the original, but for the most part, I do love a lot of them. The Snow Go remix kept my head nodding even though I was hating the icy physics.

Shiveria: Town - Super Mario Odyssey (NS)

There hadn't been a sandbox Super Mario since Super Mario Sunshine and that released way back in 2002. Nintendo finally returned to this style of play with Super Mario Odyssey in what just may very well be the best sandbox Super Mario game yet. From the many moons to collect to the plethora of costumes to outfit Mario with, Super Mario Odyssey will keep the player busy.

Diamond Dust Zone Act 1 - Sonic 3D Blast (SS, PC)

We've got another returning Sonic track, another huge favorite of mine. I break this one out every Christmas. I like the Genesis version of Sonic 3D Blast's music just fine but I prefer the Saturn version over it. Minority opinion, but I stand by it all the way. This song is sure to put you in a holly jolly mood.

Favorite Tunes Database

Friday, December 22, 2017

Great Game Burnout

I've said it so many times this year that I feel like a broken record, but it still bears repeating: 2017 has been an outstanding year for great games. I'm in the process of piecing together the placement of my top ten games of the year, a feature I've been wanting to do on this blog for about the past four years now. I finally managed to play over ten games that released in the same year, which was the only thing stopping me from going through with said feature. It just saddens me that two of my favorite titles from 2017 hit me with a nasty case of burnout.

As a kid in the early 1990s, I loved the Genesis Sonic games, so of course I was looking forward to the release of Sonic Mania. Despite some issues I have with the game, Mania did not disappoint. The game has huge levels, most of which are all kids of fun to run through and explore (still not a big fan of Stardust Speedway or Titanic Monarch Zone). I enjoyed Mania so much that I double dipped, owning a version on the PS4 and the Switch. On both versions, I've done multiple playthroughs.

As is the case with games I'm really enjoying, I may set them aside when another title I'm looking forward to finally drops. I stopped playing Sonic Mania due to the release of Metroid: Samus Returns, another 2017 favorite. However, the release of that game as well as others wasn't the only reason I didn't keep playing Mania. During my 7th or maybe it was the sixth playthrough, I can't recall the exact number, I begun to feel tuckered out. A few weeks ago I figured I would attempt a No Save, Insta-Shield run since I love that Sonic 3 & Knuckles ability. Not even halfway through Green Hill Zone Act 1, I paused the game, looked at the screen for several seconds and shut it off. I just didn't feel like going through Mania again as I'd felt that I'd seen and experienced perhaps way more of it than I should have in such a short amount of time. This feeling didn't end with Sonic Mania, oh no. A game I was anticipating far more than Sonic's retro 2D return also brought about similar feelings of overexposure.

I love you, Sonic Mania, but we need a nice, long break.
All of the praise for Super Mario Odyssey has already been stated ten times over. I agree with a great deal of what fans and critics have said regarding Mario's latest adventure. The kingdoms are like giant virtual playgrounds for you to romp through and more often than not, your curiosity is reward, if not with coins, a precious Power Moon. I intentionally avoided as much info on Odyssey as I could because I wanted to be surprised (my trip through the game was far more enriched for this) but I eventually caught word that there were over 900 Power Moons. Even before I completed Odyssey I could feel myself getting exhausted from all the Power Moon hunting. As engaging as the post game content is, I feel more weary playing the game now than I did before stopping the wedding. I'm still playing Odyssey, just not doing the same 5 and six hour play sessions I was before. Sometimes days will pass before I tread through kingdoms for moons again.

I still stand by everything I said about Sonic Mania and Super Mario Odyssey on this blog before the burnout on each one set it and spoiler alert, both games are more than likely gonna rank high on my top ten list, but Super Mario Odyssey has been regulated to side game status and I need a much longer break from Sonic Mania before I can fire it up again. I was reminded by two games I never would have expected that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Considering the two titles that served as said reminder, well, that cuts me kind of deep.

Remix of the Week: Floral Fury (Cuphead)

Time to give Sonic remixes a break and move on to different series. I figured with a game like Cuphead, music lovers would waste no time remixing the game's jazzy soundtrack and unsurprisingly, I was right. From The Living Tomb comes a remix of the Floral Fury boss them. The music is so good even the boss is grooving to it.

Monday, December 18, 2017

5 Reasons the Original Mega Man is Still Rock Solid

There aren't a whole lot of games released thirty years ago that still hold up. The original Street Fighter is so bad that most have never even played it, or should they since inputting special moves is an exercise in frustration. Funnily enough, Mega Man released the same year that Street Fighter did, in 1987. Unlike that game, however, Mega Man is still a solid game in spite of being rough around the edges. Mega Man is perfectly playable today and here are five reasons why the Blue Bomber's first game still rocks.

01. Stage Select

Most action platform games have you getting from point A to point B in a set, unchangeable order. Start up, Mega Man, however, and you've got a stage select screen in front of you, giving you the option of going through the first six levels in any order that suits you. In 1987, this was a huge deal. It was quite rare to have a game offer the player such a large degree of freedom. If one level was giving you trouble (Guts Man's stage probably introduced more than a few players to rage quitting) you could take a stab at different one. Just don't go to Elec Man right off that. You're gonna have a really, really bad time if you do.

02. Music

Memorable, catchy music is a staple of the Mega Man series, tracing all the way back to the original game. Composed by Manami Matsume, this lady is responsible for the icon Game Start jingle that plays after selecting a Robot Master stage. Yeah, most games go with an arranged version from Mega Man 2, that plays in a higher key, but Manami, is the originator of the tune. Fire Man's stage truly feels like a high temperature nightmare and the music perfectly captures all of the on screen madness of the level, while Bomb Man's stage is far more laid back and easy going so background music matches it. Mega Man games that followed this one may have better soundtracks, but this game's music is nothing to scoff at.

03. Weapons & Items

Even in 1987, bosses were a common part of video games. More often than not, bosses were an obstacle that you had to overcome. They serve the same purpose in Mega Man but the game changed things up by giving you the weapon of the first six bosses that you defeated. There are no Metal Blades or Flash Bombs, but the first set of weapons and the one support tool Mega Man gets in his first outing are quite nifty. Thunder Beam is a hard hitting weapon that simultaneously fires in three directions, Ice Slasher can free enemies, Rolling Cutter is a boomerang and Fire Storm forms a fire bubble around you while shooting off a flame projectile. The Magnet Beam, an item found in Elec Man's stage let's you create your own platforms, letting you bypass some of the game's most frustrating platforming sections.

04. It's Freaking Hard

If you're looking to have a game firmly plant it's size 10s on your butt cheeks, the first Mega Man game has you covered. True, there are far harder NES games than Mega Man, but lots of games on Nintendos 8-bit machine are hard for the wrong reasons. Mega Man is brutal, yes, but it is also fair. Guts Man's level is perhaps the shortest of the whole game but it has a platforming section over a bottomless pit that demands nothing less than perfect timing from the player. Elec Man can kill you with a mere three hits (Ice Man also hits quite hard) and the first boss of Wily stage 1, the Yellow Devil will be a brick wall to most players that don't get his pattern down. Mega Man will beat you senseless time and time again but you'll keep coming back for more.

05. The Pause Glitch

It may seem a touch odd that I'm listing a glitch/cheat as one of the best things about Mega Man, but like the Konami Code with Contra, it is impossible to discuss the first Mega Man without bringing this up. The Pause Glitch allows you to rack up damage in a very short amount of time. Just pause the game when your attacks hit an enemy, un-pause and repeat. For a lot of players, this was their only means of getting past the Yellow Devil. Speed runners have gotten so much use out of this thing. One look at the times on the challenges on Mega Man Legacy Collection and you know players are using this on a regular basis.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Favorite Tunes #207: Rusty Bucket Bay

We're getting closer to Christmas, which means I've got to piece together some Christmas/wintery themed tunes for you next week. Until then, enjoy this week's selection.

Bonus Stage - Lode Runner 3-D (N64)

As much as I love posting old favorites in this feature, there's nothing like discovering a new favorite. I just found out about the music from Lode Runner 3-D. There are only a handful of tracks, but this music is quite good. There's some really nice techno, electronic and house beats in here.

Asteroid Coaster Act 2 - Sonic Colors (Wii)

I recently started a play through of Sonic Colors. The last time I played this game was when I finished it in 2011. The game is so much better than I remember and without a doubt one of my top three favorite Sonic games. Being a Sonic game, I really don't need to gush over how outstanding the soundtrack is, but yeah, it is really freaking amazing.

George Jensent - Fighting Layer (ARC)

It has been several years since I've featured music from Fighting Layer on Favorite Tunes. The series is making a come back with Fighting Layer EX. Both Fighting Layer and the Street Fighter EX games (the later also made by Arika) have splendid soundtracks and I cannot wait to see what they give us for Fighting Layer EX.

Rusty Bucket Bay - Banjo-Kazooie (N64, 360)

With the release of Yooka-Laylee earlier this year and now the recent release on the Switch, I think it's safe to say that Banjo-Kazooie is relatively fresh in gamer's minds. The 1998 release was a wonderful collect-a-thon  platformer what was colorful, funny and in some late game instances, pretty dang cruel. The mere mention of Rusty Bucket Bay, even with it's catchy tune, is certain to bring back dreadful memories for any player that tried to complete this level.

Park Avenue - Sonic Forces (PC, NS, PS4, XBO)

A game some are calling a steaming heap of trash, Sonic Forces  is not the dumpster fire that these people make it out to be. It certainly could have been better but for what it is, I had fun with it. The avatar stages have lyrics and while the move into the cheese territory, most Sonic vocal tracks are cheesy so they fit in just fine.

Intermission - Double Dragon II: The Revenge (ARC)

After years of not liking the original Double Dragon's arcade score, I've warmed up to it a bit recently. I still feel the NES version is superior and Double Dragon II's arcade music is a much better effort than the first arcade game. Repetition is the name of this theme, but it's the good kind. Makes me wanna groove like Dashie.

Favorite Tunes Database

Friday, December 15, 2017

Remix of the Week: Press Garden Zone Act 1-2 (Sonic Mania)

Sonic Mania's soundtrack is so good that folks in the remix community aren't sleeping on it. My favorite track in the game, Press Garden Zone Act 1 (AKA Tabloid Jargon) is getting a lot of love as is the act two variation (Blossom Haze). One of the most interesting remixes I've come across is by Inferno Remixes. Using sound font from The Revenge of Shinobi, he's crafted an outstanding arrangement of both Act 1 and 2 of Press Garden Zone.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Mega Man 2: A Great, But Flawed Sequel

Mega Man may not have the iconic reach that Mario has (very few video game characters do) but the Blue Bomber is still a pretty huge deal. Much like Super Mario Bros. made Mario a household name, Mega Man 2 is the game that put everyone's favorite blue robot boy on the map. You've already heard all of the praise there is to be said about this game. The genius level design, the weapons you score from Robot Master, the super catchy soundtrack; everyone knows all about that stuff. Instead of talking about why Mega Man 2 is so great, we're going to discuss the blemishes. Many critics and fans don't even point these things out. I find that rather odd because quite frankly, Mega Man 2 has some pretty glaring flaws.

These things are so OP, they make all the other weapons
pretty much worthless!
Each Robot Master has a weapon for you to add to your collection after you defeat them. However, they are all dwarfed by Metal Man's weapon, the Metal Blade. This thing is the very definition of over powered. You can throw three of them at once. They can be thrown in eight directions. Many mooks and bosses fall to this sharp metal very quickly, Metal Man himself included. Once you kill Metal Man and acquire his weapon, the Metal Blades can pretty much be your regular weapon for most of the game. There will be instances where you'll have to swamp to a different weapon to kill the few foes it doesn't work on but on the whole, Metal Blades will suit most situations. Mega Man 4 has been cited as the game that made the series start going downhill with the introduction of the Charge Shot, a powered up form of Mega Man's default weapon. The Charge Shot may not consume any ammo and does 3 HP of damage when fully charged, but to get the most out of it, it does have to be charged. It also only shoots in two directions contrasting with the Metal Blade's eight. Later games would beef up the size of the Mega Buster but punish the player for getting hit while charging up, forcing the player to restart the charge. Yeah, the Metal Blade consumes ammo but it does so at such a small amount that running out hardly, if ever, becomes an issue. The Metal Blades, while a ton of fun to use, completely throws Mega Man 2's weapon balance out the window.

Getting through without the Time Stopper
is doable. It just takes memorization. And really
fast thumbs.
One of the great things about the Mega Man games is that they let you choose your order of level progression. Of Mega Man 2's eight initial stages, only about two of them present some serious hurdles to jump over and depending on whom you take out first, said hurdles can be negated by any weapons or items you may or may not possess. The stages I'm referring to are Heat Man and Quick Man's stages.

Heat Man's level is infamous for containing what might be the most hated use of the series' staple Appearing Blocks (also know as Yoko Blocks). You run into these things early on in the stage but it isn't until a little after the halfway point that they induce rage. The Yoko Blocks start appearing over a long pool of lava and eventually lead to a long bottomless pit. You can either try to memorize the pattern of the Appearing Blocks or kill Air Man and get Item-2 to bypass the blocks altogether. The later option is highly recommended because this section of Yoko Blocks quickly overstays it's welcome. Novice players that go into Heat Man's stage before defeating Air Man? Sorry, you guys are so screwed.

Shortly after entering Quick Man's stage, you'll hear this obnoxiously loud noise. That annoyance would be lasers and they are deadly as they are painful on your ears. These things will kill you upon contact and you'll always have to deal with them during the stages vertical sections. The are two sections where you'll have to descend while avoiding loud, yellow death. The first section isn't too bad but a new player will more than likely lose several lives before they know how to properly navigate these areas. Section two is where it really gets crazy. The second section of death lasers go on for a total of seven screens. Unlike the first section where you could damage boost through, you are afforded no such luxury here. The lasers in Quick Man's stage are very much trial and error gameplay for those that wish to get through these areas without any sort of assistance. You can use Flash Man's Time Stopper to make it much easier on yourself but you'll still have to hustle while the lasers are frozen.

Using the blocks over this stupidly long section
isn't really fun or rewarding. 
Mega Man 2 does suffer from some bad game design but it really comes to a head in the last three stages. The fourth Dr. Wily stage is home to Boobeam Trap, one of the worst bosses in the entire history of Mega Man. A series of five turret guns, Boo Beam Trap has lightning fast fire and they shoot at the same time, causing massive sprite flicker, much to your annoyance. The shots are also very hard to avoid. Boobeam Trap is weak to only one weapon: the Crash Bombs. While there are only five targets, you need full Crash Bomb ammo to take this thing out. So if you come into the boss room and you're ammo isn't maxed out, you've already lost. Use a Crash Bomb on a the wrong destructable wall and you've already lost. Yeah, this boss loves to fool you into wasting Crash Bomb ammo. And least we forget, you're also gonna need Item-1 or Item-3 to help you reach those high ledges to plant those Crash Bombs on those out-of-jumping-range targets. Prior knowledge of this boss is mandatory to achieve victory as there are far too many ways to fail. And when you do fail, you don't start right outside the boss door. Nope, you're going back to the midway point. If you want to refill your Crash Bombs, you're gonna have to farm for ammo in the cumbersome section of Walker and Sniper Joes outside Boombeam Trap's door. Hooray.

If you didn't hate wall mounted guns before, well, today
is a good day to learn.
The final two stages of Mega Man 2 are boss battles with no way of refilling your weapon energy and in the case of the very last stage, can pose a serious problem. Dr. Wily stage five has you face off with all the eight Robot Masters again and concludes with a battle with the mad doctor who has two forms. You might be in trouble if you've exhausted much if not all of your weapon energy in Wily stage 5. Sure, all of the bosses can be won with Mega Man's default weapon but that's assuming you can keep all of your lives and power on through. Thankfully, each Robot Master drops energy refills upon defeat.

Dr. Wily stage 6, the final level is short but has this dropping acid that can cause major damage if you take a hit, much like the final boss himself. When you enter the boss chamber you see Dr. Wily change into some bizarre alien creature. This boss is only weak to the Bubble Lead and if you don't have much of it left or you used it all up, you're screwed. Not only do all your other weapons cause him no harm, they actually replenish his energy!

I may as well mention that getting a game over does replenish your weapon energy and you've got infinite continues. But a game over also wipes out your supply of Energy Tanks, which can make getting through those last few bosses even harder. Wily stages 5 and 6 have to Energy Tanks to be found.

Mega Man 2 is a lot of people's favorite Mega Man game. I myself, like the game a lot. However, no game, no matter how great, no matter its impact on a series is immune to criticism. For all Mega Man 2 does right, it gets a number of things wrong. Even the original Mega Man? Buggy and glitchy as it was, did not pull crap like Boobeam Trap. Heck, none of the later games have the late-game-halting-issues that Mega Man 2 does. Yes, they can all be prevented, but you have to know about them before hand and that isn't good game design. We wouldn't ignore these things today so, Mega Man 2, while great in many other areas, doesn't get a free pass just because of what it did for the series.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Favorite Tunes #206: Trouble Maker

The Switch continues to kill it and EA still sucks. How's that for a topical opener? Anyway, this week, there is music from the Classic Mega Man series, Gunstar Heroes, Tekken 7 as well as SEGA's classic racing game, OutRun.

Tengu Man Stage - Mega Man 8 (PS)

With Mega Man 11 having been announced (squeee!!!) it is only fitting that I post a tune from the Mega Man series this week. While I do prefer Tengu Man's more series Saturn exclusive theme, I still get a kick out of his more cheerful PlayStation track. Tengu Man is such a smug punk that it makes beating him all the more satisfying.

Don't Slip! - Splatoon 2 (NS)

Even taking into account that the first Splatoon released on the Wii U, a console that was a huge bomb, the game did extremely well, becoming Nintendo's most recognized new IP in recent years. So of course they had a sequel in the works for the Switch. Splatoon 2 has gotten some criticism for feeling too samey but if sales are any indication, I don't think too many people mind this. Like the original Splatoon, the music for Splatoon 2 is very much on point.

I'm Here Now 7's Remix - Tekken 7 (PC, PS4, XBO)

I wouldn't call Tekken 7 may favorite soundtrack of the series, but there are some really good tracks in there. I'm Here Now was one the many good songs in Tekken 5. That intro for said game had Kazuya and Heihachi fighting off an army of Jacks. Tekken 7 let's you play out that fight with this bumping remix as your background fight jam.

Dancing Smash Hero - Gunstar Heroes (GEN)

Gunstar Heroes on the Genesis just might be the best run 'n gun game ever. It's sprites and backgrounds still look marvelous to this day, it has sweet (if broken) weapon combos and the soundtrack is some of the best music on the Mega Drive and gaming in general. If anyone says Genesis music can't hack it, point them in the direction of Gunstar Heroes soundtrack.

Magical Sound Shower (Arrange Ver.) - OutRun SEGA AGES (SS)

The Saturn version of OutRun is one of the best available. It contains a hidden option to make it run at a smooth 60 fps and has some killer arranged music in addition to the outstanding original beats. Well, at leastthe Japanese version of the game does. For some strange reason, gamers outside of the Land of the Rising sun got the middle finger when it came to these songs.

Trouble Maker - Mischief Makers (N64)

Oh, Treasure. Only you could make a game with an adorable, anime-esque protagonist who's claim to fame consists of "SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE!!!" Mischief Makers probably isn't the first game to come to mind when one thinks of games by Treasure. It is overshadowed by Gunstar Heroes and Sin and Punishment but it still has a cult following. This is one of those games that could use a re-release.

Favorite Tunes Database

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The EA/Battlefront II Debacle is Glorious

So how about the disaster that is EA and Star Wars: Battlefront II? Hoo boy, I tell ya, watching EA get blasted by gamers, the gaming media, the non gaming media and YouTubers is like watching a never ending train wreck. And I'm loving every minute of it. I've always believed that there is a sadist in all of us, and while some may think it bad to delight in the suffering of others, in the case of EA, it couldn't have happened to a better worse company.

EA is the cancer of the video game industry. They buy up game developers, really talented ones, spread through the company like said disease and then kill them off. Visceral Games was their latest victim but before that it was Maxis, Westwood Studios, the list goes on and on. It wasn't until the demise of Visceral Games that I realized just how many game developers EA has destroyed. Any game developer that EA sinks their talons into is living on borrowed time.

Nintendo makes lots of bone head decisions. Years after the competition has figured out how to have online gaming networks, the Big N is still floundering about. Their treatment of fans, YouTubers playing their games is deplorable and they kill off fangames, even ones that aren't remakes faster than a falling brick. However, even at their worst, Nintendo and many other game companies for that matter, are nowhere near as bad as EA. Nintendo is out to make money like any other game company but what puts them so far ahead of trash like EA is that Nintendo actually cares about delivering a quality product. EA only cares about the bottom line. They are a company that is solely motivated by greed and that business model has bitten them hard on both butt cheeks.

Disney's chat with EA probably had something to do with the fact that Star Wars Episode VIII releases this month, and having the latest Star Wars game have bullocks like loot boxes mucking up the experience certainly isn't a good look. It was enough to make EA shut off the microtransactions, temporarily, at least. But it isn't just Disney and gamers that are peeved with EA. The money grubbing company has goofed up so bad with Battlefront II that they've attracted the attention of government officials with Chris Lee calling the game "an online casino designed to trap little kids." There's also the little matter of EA losing $3 billion stock value over this whole fiasco. EA shareholders are probably up in arms while the rest of us are sitting back in our chairs, petting our cats, laughing manically.

Normally I don't root for the downfall of a video game company. I wish for them to change, to do better. EA, however, is not going to change. They are more interested in finding ways to make the most money the fastest way possible. The idea of releasing a well made product is a foreign concept to this company. Even after Battlefront II exploded in their faces, EA still went about with microtransactions in Ultimate Fighting Championship 3 and Need for Speed: Payback. I don't think a single tear would be shed if EA were to go under. For far too long EA has gotten away with murder and crummy business practices. This domino effect that Battlefront II has started is some well deserved comeuppance.

I'm sure this whole thing with EA being put on blast and losing money will blow over. Until then, get yourself some popcorn and pull up a chair because as they kids say, "Dis gonna be good!"

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Mega Man 11 is Happening

I got home from work, jumped on my laptop and went straight to YouTube. The one thing I did not expect to see as recommended video coming from Nintendo's channel was an announcement trail for of all games, MEGA MAN 11. For a brief moment, I thought this was some kind of sick joke, an April Fools prank. I quickly remembered that it is in early December, clicked the video and watch with my mouth and eyes wide open. Hell has indeed froze over because Capcom is finally giving Mega Man a new game.

Mega Man 11 won't release until late 2018 on all platforms but the reveal trailer does divulge quite a bit of info. Mega Man can slide! The Charge Shot is back! It is so dang nice to see Mega Man regain two of his lost abilities. I really like Mega Man 2 but the lengths Mega Man 9 went to hump the former game's leg was really obnoxious. It is for this reason that I prefer Mega Man 10 over 9.

Another thing I really, really like is that Mega Man 11 is not an 8-bit NES style game. I love the look of 8-bit Mega Man but I don't believe Classic Mega Man should stay there. So many games are going with the retro look that it is getting to be overkill. 2D games are great but so are 2.5D games. Besides, from what little footage is available, I think Mega Man 11 looks pretty clean.

As exciting as this news is, there is of course bound to be some negativity. What I've seen is on the smile side, but it is there, nonetheless. Some fans are disappointed that Mega Man 11 is not going to be an 8-bit game. I've seen some joke that there's plenty of time for the game to be canceled. Then you've got people saying that the game looks like trash. I think seven years without a Mega Man game has made some fans very pessimistic. At the same time, this is Capcom we're talking about here so I can see how some fans would be concerned for Mega Man 11. On the flip side, a brand new Mega Man game is the very thing fans have been clamoring for for years. Capcom is giving us what we wanted and you've still got some folks that find away to be sour on it. Only the bitterest of Mega Man fans could find a way to piss and moan about this huge reveal.

Mega Man 11 is still a ways off so there is plenty of time to iron out wrinkles. The Blue Bomber's walking animation does look stiff. Personally, I think the game looks fine from what we've seen thus far, but if Capcom makes the game look even better, I'm all for that as long as it plays well and runs smooth. 2017 is almost over but that just means there is still some time left in the year for surprises. The announcement of Mega Man 11 was certainly one of them.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Favorite Tunes #205: Chillest Game Over Music Ever

I decided to hold off on all blog posts last week due to the Thanksgiving weekend. I hope it was full of good fun and lots of good eats for you all. Now that the holiday is over, regular posting has resumed.

Major Boss Battle - Freedom Planet (PC, Wii U, PS4)

Before Sonic Mania, you had Sonic fans championing Freedom Planet as the best Sonic game that Sonic Team didn't make. There are cues from Sonic games, but Freedom Planet is very much it's own animal. If you haven't done so, check this game out and get the soundtrack while you're at it.

Blossom Haze (Press Garden Act 2) - Sonic Mania (PC, PS4, XBO, NS)

I'm one of those strange fellows that loves the Act 1 version of Press Garden over Act 2. That being said, the Act 2 version is still pretty dang magnificent. Props to the  developers for making an ice level that isn't irksome to play.

Honeyluna Ridge (Caves) - Super Mario Odyssey (NS)

It just wouldn't feel right not having a lava themed level leading up to the confrontation to Bowser. Bowser's Kingdom was not what most were expecting but in a very, very good way. On the Moon, however, is a standard lava filled section, complete with one of the most annoying Super Mario enemies, Charin' Chuck. It also comes with one of my favorite music in the game. I often have this theme playing for intense sections during post-gameplays.

Chozo Laboratory - Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)

It has been an outstandingly good year for Nintendo. The Switch is killing it, they launched a new IP in the form of ARMS, the Zelda and Super Mario series both had major entries and Samus Aran stepped into the spotlight once again. For a series so many say Nintendo doesn't care about, the Big N gave the girl five star treatment with Samus Returns, the reimagining of Metroid II: Return of Samus.

Area 5 - Bionic Commando (NES)

The most famous theme from Bionic Commando is Area 1, which actually comes from the arcade version of Bionic Commando, a game that is completely different from the NES releease. If you've never made it past the first few areas, you might not have heard the rest of the soundtrack which is to say, really freaking awesome stuff.

Game Over, Name Entry - Altered Beast (ARC)

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the chillest of all game over music. Call me crazy, but I don't always find it off-putting when a music track plays during a time that may not match the situation. One reason for Altered Beast's Game Over theme being so chill is because it also serves as Name Entry music.

Favorite Tunes Database

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Remix of the Week: Ghost Town (Sonic Forces)

The Genesis style music in Sonic Forces has gotten a bad rap. Granted, the Green Hill theme for Classic Sonic uses some absolutely terrible instrumentation, but writing off all of Classic Sonic's stage themes as awful? That is something I cannot get behind. Of all of Classic Sonic's music in Forces, my favorite would have to be Ghost Town, a super peppy beat. Lil Boulder's remix is worth a listen several times over.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Rhythm Raceway

2017 is a the year for many milestone anniversaries. Double Dragon, Final Fantasy, Mega Man, and Contra all turned or are going to turn 30 this year. The Mario Kart franchise isn't at the big 3-0 yet, however, it is now twenty five years old. I don't know if the arrival of the Pixel Mixers' latest album is a coincidence or not, but regardless, Rhythm Raceway is a magnificent tribute to the most famous kart racing series.

Spanning 23 tracks, Rhythm Raceway collects arrangements from just about every Mario Kart entry. The only games not represented are the arcade titles and Mario Kart 7. I would have loved to see the Pixel Mixers do a cover for Rock Rock Mountain and Bowser's Castle, but those are nitpicks more than anything. It's hard to argue with what they did give us from expected remixes to the unexpected. I never knew I wanted Frappe Snowland (Mario Kart 64) to have a rock arrangement until I heard it here. Twisted Mansion (Mario Kart 8) wasn't a bad song by any means, but it was one that I never cared for. The Pixel Mixers' interpretation of it, however, is something that I can't get enough. There's also a killer heavy metal version of Rainbow Road (Mario Kart: Double Dash!!) as well as a super chill cover of Toad's Turnpike (Mario Kart 64). I've always loved the Setup music from Mario Kart 64, despite how repetitive it can be so I'm glad it got so much needed appreciation in this album as well as Retire Theme (Mario Kart: Double Dash!!)

Like every single album by the Pixel Mixers, Rhythm Raceway is free. You get 23 splendid Mario Kart remixes, adding up to over an hour's worth of music. I cannot wait to see what game or game series these guys tackle next. Do download this alum right now.

Rhythm Raceway 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Sonic Mania Remixed

What can I say that hasn't already been said about the music of Sonic Mania? It is an amazing, catchy, outstanding soundtrack filled with killer remixes and original tunes. Tee Lopes has catapulted himself right up there with other Sonic music legends like Jun Senoue and Tomoya Ohtani thanks to his work on Sonic Mania's soundtrack. When I'd heard about this Sonic Mania Remixed alum some time ago, I was thrilled. I couldn't wait to hear arrangements of Press Garden and Mirage Saloon. Unfortunately, Sonic Mania Remixed is far from being anywhere near the quality of Sonic Mania.

This 11 track digital album covers six of the new themes from Sonic Mania with the other five tracks being based off of the reused music. Of the eleven tracks on Sonic Mania Remixed, I really only enjoyed two themes, the remixes of Studiopolis Zone and Metallic Madness Zone. I happen to like OverClocked Remixes albums quite a bit and Sonic Mania Remixed definitely sounds OCR-ish but this album just didn't really do anything for me. As much as I was expected to snap my fingers, bob my head and tap my toes, I was left in disbelief at how underwhelming Sonic Mania Remixed turned out to be.

I mentioned this album in a Sonic thread at one of the forums I frequent and one of the posters had this to say. "So basically just about every song was run through a 'generic 2010's EDM, let's drop the bass' filter" and that might be the best way to sum up Sonic Mania Remixed. I've heard worse, but I've certainly heard far better. There's some really good talent behind this alum, too, like Ben Briggs and A_Rival. Funny enough, those two are behind the only two songs I liked.

Perhaps my disliking of Sonic Mania Remixed is another one of my unpopular opinions. Heck, I like Sonic Forces, a game that many say is a steaming pile. You don't have to take my word on Sonic Mania Remixed.  You can give it a listen for yourself and see if it's worth your $10. Personally, as much as I wanted it to be, Sonic Mania Remixed is not my bag.

Sonic Mania Remixed

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Favorite Tunes #204: The Most Adorable Little Robot

If you came to hear music featuring a sumo wrestler, a diminutive robot, a blue hedgehog and a fox, then you've come to the right place. For this week's Favorite Tunes, we've got kinda a modern and retro vibe going on with songs from the 16-bit era, the sixth console generation and stuff from today.

Chibi-Robo! - Chibi-Robo! (GCN)

Pikmin, Splatoon and now ARMS are often thought to be the only new Nintendo IPs released in the last 16 years. There have actually been more than that, though not all of them have been received anywhere near as well as the aforementioned. One such franchise is the Chibi-Robo series. The first entry hit the GameCube in 2006. Had Zip Lash not been released after started bringing out amiibos, fans probably wouldn't have any sort of merch for tiny robo.

Ghost Town - Sonic Forces (PC, PS4, XBO, NS)

Naofumi Hatauya (Sonic CD, Sonic 2 8-bit) is a veteran Sonic music composer so bringing him in as an additional song writer for Sonic Forces was a smart move. Some of Classic Sonic's music tracks are definitely bad (that Green Hill song is atrocious) but then you've got major winners like Ghost Town. With those distinct Genesis claps, drum rolls and that bassline, Ghost Town is a track I listen to regularly on repeat.

Macbeth - Star Fox 2 (SNES)

For the longest time, Star Fox 2 was an unreleased SNES. Oh sure, you could play the dumped ROM or get a reproduction cart but it wasn't unitl Nintendo release the SNES Classic Edition that Star Fox 2 was finally given an official release. I just bought one of those little SNES marvels so I'll be checking out the game myself sometime. From what little of the music I've heard, I enjoy.

Phantasy - Phantasy Star II (GEN)

We gripe about games costing $60 today but in 1989, Phantasy Star II set consumers back a whopping $90! Collector's Editions weren't a thing back then so that was just for the standard game. Many would argue that it was worth every peny as Phantasy Star II is often viewed as one of the best games on the Genesis, thanks in no small part to the outstanding soundtrack. Fun fact: the music is slightly different between the Japanese and American versions.

E. Honda Stage - Street Fighter II (SNES)

Yoko Shimomura did an amazing job composing much of the music from one of the most revered fighting games ever made. Each fighter has a unique stage theme that reflects them and the part of the world they hail from. As much as I enjoy the CPSI and CPSII versions of Street Fighter II's soundtracks, when it comes to certain character themes, I prefer the console versions over the co-op. For me, E. Honda's theme has never sounded better than it does on the SNES.

Boss - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time (SNES)

With the reveal that the four famous turtles are joining the roster of Injustice 2, this is as good a time as any for more Turtles music. This port of the arcade game is widely considered to be superior to it's stand up counter part even when you take into account the max number of players is two instead of four. Man, this game needs to be re-released.

Favorite Tunes Database