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7:29 AM on 04.06.2011

Aaamaazing: Mortal Kombat



Aah Mortal Kombat. A true phenomenon of its time. While we were just getting the hang of the fighting genre that Street Fighter II introduced, this thing hit us like a battering ram. We all know what the deal was. Violence. And lots of it. Everybody old enough to remember MK's prime, still knows exactly when and where they saw their first fatality.

But is that really the only reason why we loved it so much? Yes, of course that is a big part of it but then again, what about all those other violent fighting games out there. What about Bloodstorm? That one actually let you cut off limbs and continue the fight without them. What about Time Slaughter? That one actually had a guy rip your guts out and play them like a bagpipe. Why don't we remember those games?

I know what you're thinking. They were just doing what Mortal Kombat had already done better. But what exactly is it that MK did better? It's not that it was more violent and we can't say it had an awfully deep fighting engine either. The answer is one that not many hardcore fighting game fans are willing to admit. Mortal Kombat did have more to it than than violence.

There's something entrancing about playing Mortal Kombat in a dark room all by yourself. The Chinese looking locales and the dark eery music. It all draws you in. Really makes you feel like you are a warrior in an ancient sacred tournament. When I play Mortal Kombat, I envision the characters as mercyless but humble martial artists that place honour above their own lives. I know this isn't exactly the game's canon, but this is how it speaks to my imagination. I always compared the way they lay down their lives for the martial arts to the samurai in ancient Japan committing seppuku to preserve their honour. The fact that these executions were so incredibly brutal... Well, that was just pretty fucking cool. This immediately brings me to the next chapter.

The Pit



This is without a doubt the most famous stage in the entire Mortal Kombat saga. Up until now, you were mostly fighting around beautiful Chinese scenery or in front of monks that politely applauded your victory. This time however, you're standing on a narrow concrete ledge. A full moon shines brightly through the clouded night sky. The music consists of eery dark base lines. Something feels different. This isn't going to end well. Seeing these two warriors balance on that tiny ledge while performing their craft manifested in my imagination as the pinnacle of discipline and honour.

FINISH HIM! The fight is over and you move in for that last devastating uppercut that would normally have your opponent crash into the concrete with a sickening thud. There is no thud this time. Instead there is a terrifying scream while your unfortunate opponent drops several meters deep and blood flies everywhere as he is impaled on the razorsharp knives below.

Sure, first person shooters nowadays show us much more graphic violence but somehow they just don't have the same impact as being knocked off a bridge and into these spikes. I compare it to the impact of old horror movies. Take Dracula for instance. The 1930 film starring Bela Legosi didn't have one drop of blood in it but that stare in Legosi's eyes sets a mood that many modern horror flicks can only dream of. Through the course of the MK series, the pit has gotten many spinoffs. Let's take a look at some of them.

MK2: The Kombat Tomb

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Let me first explain what I mean by a pit spinoff. For me, the pit was all about impalement. The official "sequels" all involved a bridge with certain death below but without the spikes, they paled in comparison. I was much more fond of the Kombat Tomb's twist on it. This time the spikes were suspended on the ceiling and with one swift uppercut, your opponent is firmly entrenched in them while his blood drops to the floor. Man, that was brutal. It was the original pit that got my coin in the machine, but it was the Kombat Tomb that sold me a cartridge!

MK3: The Bell Tower

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You get uppercutted in the air and fall through a dozen floors before finally feeling the spikes pierce your body. Lame! Just lame. It is at this point, the third game in the series, when fatalities just started to get too gimmicky. Take Reptile for instance. Let's look at the same fatality in Mortal Kombat II and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. Awesome! Silly.

It feels like they had kinda done it all and desperately tried to push further. This worked against them. Fatalities don't need to be original. They're all about impact. Reptile just biting off the head and obviously enjoying it has so much more impact than eating the body piece by piece. Not to mention how his victim still manages to scream besides having nothing but a lower body left.

MK4: Game Over

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Yes, after the second one, MK did start to get more silly but some times they still got it just right. Man, this one is just haunting. You fall and fall while the music pierces every fiber in your body. Quickly find that coin in your wallet and press start or a horrible death awaits! Seriously, I've heard about people getting nightmares from Mortal Kombat 4's game over screen.

MKD: Dragon King Temple

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Ahh Mortal Kombat: Deception. I some times feel like I'm the only person on the planet who actually liked this generation of Mortal Kombat games. People want MK to play like it did in the old days. I get it. But really now, is a simple set of the same high and low attacks for every character really so much better than 3 unique fighting styles to dynamically switch on the fly? Sure, we still had a stiff dial-a-combo engine but at least I thought this was a step in the right direction.

Besides, the graphics were awesome. Scorpion looked the best he ever did and blood actually dripped down from your limbs. As for the fatalities... There were still a few silly ones here and there but most of them hit the nail right on the head. Just look at this death trap in the Dragon King Temple. Oh yeah, that is fierce!

I think I'm going to get some strong opinions for this but I'm just going to come out and say it. I'm sad that this new MK is a reboot to the 2d roots. It's time for the series to break out of its identity crisis . Look at Street Fighter or King of Fighters or any other fighting series. Their characters all have their staple set of normal moves that are only slightly tweaked between every game. I wished Mortal Kombat would follow this trend instead of rebooting the normals every other game.

I guess I just have to face that this is something Mortal Kombat will never be. Their fighters are made unique by their special moves and fatalities. I'm definitely going to give Mortal Kombat 9 a chance and I bet I'm going to enjoy it quite a bit. I just don't know if I'll enjoy it as much as I did Deception. Either way I'll keep playing BlazBlue for my competitive fighting fix and I'll keep MK ready for whenever I feel like ripping some spines out.

GET OVER HERE!   read


8:10 AM on 02.02.2011

Groundhog Day: BlazBlue



First of all, let me say that I am particularly happy with this month's musing topic. I'm not the kind of guy that writes blogs to bitch and moan. I write about games because I absolutely love games. In fact, taking a single game or franchise and conveying my love for them is exactly what my River City Retro series is all about. Since this is a musing and not an RCR issue though, I am going to take this opportunity to talk about a current gen game for a change. That game is BlazBlue Continuum Shift.

I'm a natural born fighting game fan. Seriously, I was a hardcore fan before I had ever even played a fighting game. As soon as I saw Street Fighter II for the first time in a magazine, I knew that this was THE game for me. I didn't have a SNES yet and my mom would never let play on arcade machines but that didn't stop me. I'd watch other people play SFII for hours and then throw makeshift hadoukens at my friends in the schoolyard.

When I finally did get my SNES, the system was already pretty old and I had enough money for seven games. Among them were Street Fighter II Turbo, Mortal Kombat II, Primal Rage and Killer Instinct. Up until the PS2 generation, it was pretty much the same story. Tekken Tag Tournament was the system seller for me and my final collection consists of 80% fighting games.

The current generation's a different story. BlazBlue is the only fighting game I own and I think it's going to be like this for a long time. Does that mean I'm unimpressed with Super Street Fighter IV and the rest of the PS3's fighting catalogue? No, absolutely not. SSFIV is a piece of art and so are several other titles. How come I'm just playing BlazBlue and nothing else then?

The answer is competition. I just don't have any friends that are as much into fighting games as I am. Sure, some people I know like to play them but I'd always beat them down with both hands behind my back. Same goes for the CPU. It's fun for a while but then you just start owning the final boss at maximum difficulty. I used to get enough of my games over time and needed new ones for an extra challenge. The difference that BlazBlue offers me is online multiplayer.



When you've got a good game on your hands, multiplayer just doesn't get old. Just look at chess for instance. That game has existed for centuries and people are still passionately playing it. Playing with other people and watching other people play just keeps a game fresh. People keep coming up with new strategies and there will always be somebody better than you. Up until now, I have only been playing one single character in BlazBlue and I still feel like that character has plenty of secrets left for me to uncover. As long as there are still people playing BlazBlue online, I will be playing BlazBlue online.

I know what you're thinking now. Plenty of current gen fighting games have online play so why BlazBlue? There are a few reasons. For starters the art style drew me to it. It just makes me smile to see those 2D sprites. You know how that moment when the camera zooms out and passes the characters before a fight starts? That's a thing of beauty! And that's not all. There's that general style too. So colourful but yet so dark and gritty at the same time.

Even the Engrish announcer kind of draws me to the game. It's an example of how little things can give quite a different feel to a game. I smile every time I hear "Rebel One" emanating from my speakers. It's like wrestling promotion TNA using a six sides ring until recently. The same wrestling is taking place inside it, but the gimmick just gives off a slightly different feeling.

My third and final point are the characters themselves. They all feel so different and unique. I can't really think of any character whose play style can immediately be applied to another. This provides for very interesting matchups and lots of stuff for me to learn. As much as I love BlazBlue though, I have to admit that it isn't perfect either. Calamity Trigger was an balance nightmare and Continuum Shift still has some way too obvious tiers. Up until now Continuum Shift II looks like it's doing better but it's still too early to judge it. I hope they will eventually get it right but even if they don't, I'm gonna be playing this game for quite some time more.

This has been Metallion and I adore BlazBlue.

Bonus: If you're interested, you can check out an interview I conducted with a pro BlazBlue player about a year ago.   read


7:18 AM on 01.05.2011

River City Retro: Kirby's Dream Land 2



A good day to you all and welcome to another issue of River City Retro. As I announced in my previous blog, this time we're talking about Kirby's Dream Land 2 for the Nintendo Game Boy. The first one in the series is one of my all time favourite Game Boy games and its music is a true icon for the system. There might be a two in the title, but in fact this isn't a true sequel to Kirby's Dream Land.

That title goes to Kirby's Adventure for the NES. That's the one that introduced the ability absorbing and exponentially increased the game's size. Kirby's Dream Land 2 is more like the sequel to Adventure. The abilities are back but the way to use them has changed quite a bit. At first glance there are quite a bit less of them to be had. Once we take a closer look though, we find out that the abilities that are in the game have actually become much more dynamic.



Dream Land 2 introduces three animal buddies for Kirby to ride. Traveling by land is Rick the hamster. We fly through the air with Coo the owl and finally conquer the seven seas riding in the mouth of Kine, the sunfish. Each of these animals have a dramatic impact on Kirby's abilities. Using cutter while riding Coo will give you access to Contra's spread gun. Kine will allow you to inhale under water or light hallways with the spark ability and so on.

Each of these ridable characters also come with their own themes. I'm personally kind of undecided on these. I mean, they are great themes for sure. They really radiate traveling by land, by sea and through the air respectively but you're going to be riding these animals a lot. Some times I just want to hear the level themes instead. After all, Kirby's Dream Land 2 has some exquisite music. Fortunately for me, my favourite theme by far is Coo the owl I'd love to hear a power metal version of this. That bassy rhythm would sound great on an electric guitar with a high vocal lead soaring over it. Anyway, let's take a look at my favourite levels.

Whispy Woods

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Whispy Woods. He's a tree and... he freaking hates Kirby! I never really understood this. Why does Whispy hate Kirby so much? Has Kirby taken a dump in his forest or something? That can't be it... He should be happy to get the extra fertilization. Can't be that Kirby's always eating his apples either... He freaking launches those at the pink blob so they're obviously not so precious. When you think about it, Whispy doesn't even look all that mean. If anything, he has a surprised look on his face whenever Kirby shows up.

What's the feud between these two all about? I guess we'll never know but Kirby's not a tree hugger. He's a tree puncher and Whispy has his rightful place as one of the most recognizable characters in the series. For me King Dedede doesn't always need to be the final boss but Whispy should always be the first boss! I know he isn't always but he damn well should be!

Kracko

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Kracko is another one of Kirby's most iconic bosses. He's an even more interesting character than Whispy. I mean, what the hell is he? He's a flying eye that turns into a cloud when things get serious. I really wonder where the designers' inspiration came from when they dreamed him up. Could he be based on some kind of Japanese folklore that I'm not familiar with? If I ever get the chance to meet the creators of Kirby, Kracko is what I'll ask them about.

Cloudy Park level 2

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As I said, King Dedede doesn't always need to be the final boss and this time he isn't. Not if you can collect all of the Rainbow Drops at least. This time Dedede has been possessed by Dark Matter; an evil being that wants to turn Dream Land's rainbow islands into a dark world. In order to exorcise and face him, Kirby has to collect one rainbow drop in each world. They're always carefully hidden and can only be accessed when Kirby has a certain ability. This level implements an exceptionally well done puzzle where you require a very specific combination of abilities and animal friends to get the drop. Definitely my favourite level in the game.

If you finally do get all the drops and face Dark Matter, you're in for quite a ride. I breezed through most of the game but Dark Matter was another story. The guy's got two forms and even the first one alone will take several of your lives away. When you lose to his second form, you're taken right back to the start. That's right. You're not beating the game unless you beat both forms on one life. This might not be a NES game but Dark Matter definitely is NES hard.

All in all I think Kirby's Dream Land 2 is a great sequel to Kirby's Adventure. Everyone who likes Kirby even just a little bit, should definitely check it out. The best Kirby game ever made however, wasn't released until a while later.

This has been Metallion and thank you for reading River City Retro.

Homepage: www.rivercityretro.org
twitter: @Metallion98   read


2:57 AM on 12.27.2010

River City Retro: Kirby's Dream Land



Hello there, fine people. My name is Metallion and I write about games. Last week I read this blog on Destructoid. Not particularly well written. He should have used a spell checker and probably brushed up on his grammar a bit too. Nevertheless there was a definite feel of enthusiasm to his write-up and rightfully so.

I mean, did you ever play Kirby's Dream Land on the original Gameboy? Nowadays when you talk Kirby, you talk stealing enemies' powers but back then there was no such mechanic. The game was
so simple. A jumped, up made you fly and B sucked up an enemy. Then there were a few powerups lying about. A plate of curry rice made you breathe fire for a short time, a mic had Kirby sing his favourite song once and a leaf let you fly while shooting air bubbles indefinitely. The ability to fly effectively erases any difficulty from the game and it doesn't exactly boast a big amount of levels but you know what? That doesn't matter!

I'm not saying that a game can get away with being ridiculously easy and short. I'm saying that Kirby can! I mean, look at the little fellow. He's just adorable! I mean, he's so round and pink and... Ugh even a merciless terminator would just want to give him a big squeezy hug. Seriously though, there's just a certain charm to this game that keeps you coming back for more. As Winged Kraby stated in the blog I mentioned earlier, a big part of this is thanks to the music. Let's take a look at a few of my favourite levels of this game.

Castle Lololo

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This explanation's going to be brief. This level's my favourite for one reason and one reason only. The music. Knighty enough to fit a castle level and cutesy enough to fit a Kirby game. This tune'll be stuck in your head for a while after watching the video above. Also does anyone recognize those boss characters? ;)

Float Islands

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Coming fresh off of Castle Lololo, Kirby's now headed seaside. The music just makes you feel like you're right there under a palm tree with a cocktail in your hand. Kirby heads out to sea, crawls through a cave and then boards a ship. At the end of the level he launches himself towards a whale, gets stuck in its breathing whole and is then launched to the sky. The boss battle that follows there effectively turns the game into an arcade shmup. Although the whale scene adds nothing to the gameplay, it's just adorable to watch and I'm happy it's in the game.

Bubbly Clouds

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This level takes place in the clouds and yes, the music fits really well but that's not why I like it. When I first played this game, I was in 4th grade elementary school and I had just learned where babies come from. My explanation for this level's title screen is that there was a little lady kirby waiting in that cloud.



As I said before, the game is incredibly easy but actually once you beat it, it shows you the code to unlock hard mode. In this mode we're no longer playing around. Enemies are way more abundant and have ridiculous patterns. Some of the more fearsome ones even take away half your health bar in one hit. I can still beat the game but in this mode, it does give me a run for my money. Kirby's Dream Land would have been just fine even without this mode but with it, it's a true retro classic that every self-respecting gamer should play at least once.

This has been Metallion and thank you for reading River City Retro.

Homepage: www.rivercityretro.org
twitter: @Metallion98

Ps: I actually intended to write about Kirby's Dream Land 2 but during the introduction, I got so excited about the first game that I decided to write a whole feature on that. Keep an eye on my blog for Dream Land 2 is soon to follow.   read


12:16 AM on 11.15.2010

River City Retro: What Final Fantasy used to sound like



I know I'm late to the party but I've recently been playing Final Fantasy 13 a lot. Yes, it's linear and no, I don't care. I'm loving every second of it. There's one thing I do care about though. Where's the freaking music? What are all these laid jazzy tunes doing in an epic game like this? Heck, even when I'm fighting a horrifying monster it still sounds like I'm waiting for someone to serve me a whiskey on the rocks. For a game series that has orchestras traveling the world playing nothing but its soundtrack, this is a MAJOR letdown. That's why today, River City Retro is taking some time to remember what Final Fantasy used to sound like.

The real beauty about music is that there are so many ways to interpret it. What I offer you here in this blog are my own personal interpretations of some of my favourite Final Fantasy music of all time. Also on a side note, I already wrote a whole feature about Final Fantasy 6 quite some time ago so today, we're going to be looking somewhere else. That's right, no opera scene. If that's what you were looking for then please stop reading and go watch this video over here.

Final Fantasy 9: Vamo Alla Flamenco



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Final Fantasy 7 was the first one to ever get released in Europe so at this point, I had never even seen parts 1 to 6. Basically what I expected from an FF game was a cool but quiet and anti-social main character. But then number 9 came. No more spiky hair and hearts made of ice. This time we are a witty thief. Street smart and having a way with the ladies. You are hit in the face with this as the opening scene immediately features you and your band performing a play for none other than the queen herself.

The curtain raises and the music starts. First a few subtle chords of flamenco guitars. Hands begin to rhythmically clap and you perform the play's iconic fight scene. Like a beautiful dance you follow your partner's lead. Left! Right! Swing low! Jump! Backflip! Loud cheers tear through the hall each time your makeshift blades clash with a loud bang. You leave the stage and the crowd chants for an encore. I'm still awestruck every time I start this masterpiece of a game and play through this scene. Thank you so much for making this, Square! :)

Final Fantasy 9: Court Jesters



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Let's stay with Final Fantasy 9 for a while. Who remembers the court jesters Zorn and Thorn? I believe these characters have the potential to be very annoying in a new Final Fantasy. They would probably be given a really stupid voice and the acting would make their jokes fall flat on their face. Yet they aren't annoying. In fact I'm delighted every time I see these two clowns take the stage. Why is that?

First of all, FF9 is plain text and this is actually a plus. I get to imagine their voices and their possible quirks myself, much like I'd be reading a comic book. For this type of characters I just think that works much better. Then there's the beautiful music that accompanies them. It's perfect.

It sounds kind of silly and clumsy but has a feeling of urgency to it. Exactly what Zorn and Thorn are like. They're two relatively clumsy clowns but they're not just there to entertain the nobles. No, they're on a mission and they're a force to be reckoned with.

Final Fantasy 9: Boss Battle



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One more from number 9. This is actually my main qualm with Final Fantasy 13 as I said before. I don't want to hear cozy jazz while fighting a boss. A boss fight is an overwhelming battle against all odds. I'm not sitting in my sofa swatting a little fly. This monster is out to kill me! I'm going to freaking die! The music accompanying these battles needs to make me piss my pants! Hamauzu-san would do good to go back and listen to how Uematsu-san used to make them sound.

Final Fantasy 10: Boss Battle



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Just another quick entry to add to this point. Final Fantasy 10 was plagued by horrible English voice acting. So much that it completely killed the game for me. I have recently been replaying the original Japanese version though. Tidus is still annoying but other than that, the game is literally music to my ears.

Again the boss theme fits the world so well. Spira as FF10's world is called, feels a lot like a summer resort. It's a generally hot place and cities are built on beaches. The national sport is a version of rugby taking place inside a giant water sphere and it's the only game in the series to have underwater battles. Upon hearing this song I really see my characters fighting horrible sea monsters on a wet ship's deck and most of all... It totally makes me piss my pants!

Final Fantasy 7: Mako Reactor



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One Winged Angel. Don't lie. This is what you were thinking the moment you saw Final Fantasy 7. You're still expecting to see it later down this post aren't you? Well, I forgive you. OWA is one badass song no matter how many times it gets mentioned. This time however we're looking at one of many overlooked themes from FF7. Heck, this isn't even on the Reunion Tracks that I bought in Akihabara 2 years ago. For shame!

I'm talking about the mako reactors. Remember those? Giant plants that literally suck out the planet's blood to produce power. Heavy doors open as you walk through the first sections of the reactor. You see grand halls with the shiny mass of mako flowing steadily below. The song goes slow and starts out very mechanically. Then adds those stroking sounds with an echo to them, encompassing the stream below being so overwhelming larger than yourself. It's the very blood of the planet. Again the music starts sounding like heavy machines. The stream is being sucked up. Processed. The planet is dying, Cloud!

Final Fantasy 8: Shuffle Or Boogie



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An essential part of Final Fantasy or any RPG for that matter is to offer the play a chance to lay back and enjoy himself some time. After all we're not just trying to blast through waves and waves of enemies. We're trying to present a believable world for the player to take part in. Final Fantasy 8 pulled this off beautifully by the addition of a simple card game. Although perhaps I shouldn't be saying simple. This game, called Triple Triad went very deep and had numerous different rule sets that were different for every cultural region in the game. Several players actually liked the game so much that there's a whole website dedicated to playing multiplayer Triple Triad over the internet. Check them out some time. http://www.ttadvance.ca/

Triple Triad added a new dimension to NPCs. You could talk to them normally and hear them repeat the same lines over and over, or you could challenge them to a game. If they accept suddenly the background music stops and shifts into a catchy baseline. The world literally disappears and all that's left are two people and their cards. Hands clap as the players dish out their decks and the game begins accompanied by a catchy laid back tune.

FF9 also had a card game btw. I might have cared about that one if it had music half as good as this one.

Final Fantasy 4: The Dreadful Fight



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Since this whole feature was inspired by the need for proper boss music, this is exactly the way I'm going to end it. This piece of work from Final Fantasy 4 is as far as I am concerned the pinnacle of all boss themes in the series.

My name is Cecil. I am a knight of Baron. My country has started a war and my king as ordered me to cold bloodedly slay even unresisting citizens. These orders I have obeyed. By my hand cities have burned and children have lost their mothers. I have done much wrong. I do not expect the souls of those fallen by my hand to forgive me. My only chance for redemption is to turn on this land that I love. I will find out the truth behind my king's actions and the one responsible will die by my sword.

This has been Metallion and thank you for reading River City Retro.

Previous entries in the series   read


4:12 AM on 10.16.2010

River City Retro: Today the NES turns 25. Happy anniversary!


The early eighties is a time of mixed feelings. A saturated market and abominations like E.T. for the Atari 2600 had thrown the western world into the shambles known as the video game crash of '83. Yet it is this very year that on the coasts of the rising sun a miracle was taking place. A company that was once selling playing cards had released the first version of what most of us know as the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Right now, in its county of origin, everybody's going crazy over the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. While I absolutely agree that this is an event worthy of some serious celebration, there is another anniversary that's being largely overshadowed. After all, Nintendo didn't develop the NES just to remain on the Japanese isles forever.

That's why today, exactly 25 years after the NES was released on the American mainland, River City Retro is taking you on a journey across the world. We are going to take an in-dept look at the various shapes and forms the NES took as it conquered the world. Happy anniversary!

 First of all I'll have to a   read


10:03 AM on 08.06.2010

River City Retro: River City ... Ransom!



So how's it going? Hanging around Destructoid? Reading the Cblogs? Are we having fun yet? I don't know about you but you bet I am! I've been replaying my copy of River City Ransom for the NES. Not only is that an absolutely awesome game that you should go and play right now, it's actually one of the most interesting games in the NES library. That's why this issue of River City Retro is dedicated entirely to one game that has a title so catchy, I have named my whole blog after it.

In case you were one of the poor souls that failed to find this game in the Double Dragon II maelstrom around its release, let me give you a quick rundown. River City Ransom was originally developed by the now defunct Technos company. They're most famous for the 1987 arcade hit Double Dragon, a game where you walked around city streets, beating up gang members that'd had the nerve to kidnap your girlfriend. River City Ransom mostly recycles this plot and general gameplay.

Unlike Double Dragon, which was rather serious in tone, River City Ransom has a much more humourous side to it. Double Dragon's street gangs have been replaced by teenage delinquents divided into several amusingly named gangs, and characters often talk to each other during fights which has resulted in some rather famous quotes. In addition to this, the game also sports a bunch of RPG features.



Both the player and the NPCs carry several stats that define their effectiveness in battle. Fallen enemies leave behind coins that can then be spent in shopping streets to level up your characters. On the higher difficulty level, you're actually quite likely to spend a lot of time grinding in order to beat the next boss. Don't worry though. It's a lot of fun just browsing through all the shops and watching the goofy eating animations. I did mention before that this is one of the more interesting titles on the NES. Why is that? Well, to answer that question we're going to trace its history back all the way to the Japanese game centers.

I told you before how Double Dragon was Techmo's first international success. On the islands of Japan however, the company made its impact one year earlier with a game called Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun or Hot Blooded Tough Guy Kunio in English. It was a story of highschool bullying. Every level started with a poor boy named Hiroshi being beaten by the school gates. His delinquent friend Kunio then chases after the attackers and gives them a taste of their own medicine. It played much like Double Dragon although it missed some core features like smooth scrolling.

So what does this game have to do with River City Ransom other than sharing the same developer? The thing is, River City Ransom is no less than a direct sequel to this game. In fact it was already the third installment in what had become the Kunio-kun franchise in Japan. Now before you start shaking your fist in anger because of all the games we missed, we actually did get several of them. The main problem with Kunio-kun was an abundance of Japanese schoolyard culture. Western audiences just wouldn't recognize that as much.



This led to some dramatic changes in the overseas releases. Nekketsu Kouha saw an Arcade release and NES port under the title Renegade and replaced the school bullying by your standard damsel-in-distress plot and the students by gang members loosely inspired by The Warriors. Then came a Nekketsu Koukou Dodgeball Bu. A Kunio dodgeball spin-off that made it overseas with all Japanese scenery replaced by American counterparts and simply retitled Super Dodgeball. It was a great game btw. Then a year after our River City Ransom, Nekketsu highschool organized another sports tournament.

This time we were playing soccer and actually, if you had a NES, you're very likely to have played this game. This one is no other than the widely popular Nintendo World Cup. Of course, rather than thirteen different countries to play as, the original competitors were different highschools in a Japanese national tournament. The fact that fouls aren't punished in this game, makes a lot more sense when you know it was actually Kunio.

Another one worth noting is Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun: Bangai Rantou Hen. Just rolls off your tongue, doesn't it? This was another side scrolling beat 'em up much like our beloved RCR, but without any of the RPG elements. Back here, we know it as Double Dragon II. Not THE Double Dragon II for the NES and arcades though, this was a completely different game for the Nintendo Game Boy. If anything, it feels like a rushed attempt to cash in on the Double Dragon name.



The artwork is a shameless ripoff of the NES' Double Dragon III and none of the trademark enemies like Chin or Abobo are in it. A shame really. I don't really mind them releasing Kunio-kun as Double Dragon but they could have at least put some effort into it. I mean, there's even a big fat guy among the bosses. Why couldn't that have been Abobo? I bet the bald headed giant must have been crying in a corner when he first saw this game.

Localization aside, another lesser known part of River City Ransom's legacy are the system's it's been released on. It didn't get an Arcade version like Double Dragon but it did get released on a couple of Japanese computers you've likely never heard about.

Sharp X68000

[embed]180760:32026[/embed]

The Sharp X68000 was such a computer. Just like SNK's Neo Geo, this was an arcade gaming powerhouse. Even more so. This was Capcom's CPS arcade development machine. What does that mean? It means that legendary games like Street Fighter II were developed on this very machine! Needless to say, there were more than a few arcade perfect ports to be found here. Amongst all of this obscure gaming beauty, there was also a version of River City Ransom far superior to its NES counterpart. The game world was much bigger than the 8-bit original with access to several different highschools, each with their own boss battles.

For me, one of the greatest appeals of a game has always been the sound it makes. River City Ransom for the NES did pretty well but have a listen to the X68000 version in the video above and try to tell me this isn't just pure poetry seeping into your ears. That's right, I said poetry. How else would you describe a fully voiced "BARF"?

TurboGrafx-16 / PC Engine

[embed]180760:32019[/embed]

The TurboGrafx-16 or rather PC Engine version in Japan. This one is technologically the most advanced by far. There are tons of new animations and the scenery is more colourful than ever. Unfortunately though, the new areas introduced in the X68000 version are nowhere to be seen. As far as audio is concerned, I'm a bit unsure of which version I prefer. Taking full advantage of the PC Engine's hardware, this version sports nothing less than a CD quality soundtrack but somehow, its sound effects just don't sound as nice as the X68000.

Even where the music's concerned, I find it hard to pick a favourite. Sure the PC Engine is far superior in general sound quality but I happen to own a pair of 1337 headphones. With them I can easily distinguish any underlying tracks in a song and I have to say, those digitized tunes on the X68000 have some SWEET percussion on them. Especially the boss theme sounds so much more badass. Skip ahead to about seven minutes into the PC Engine video and that's some equally badass drums right there though! Pretty fun to watch the player struggle with a few crates too. :)

Gameboy Advance

[embed]180760:32020[/embed]

Finally there is River City Ransom Ex for the Gameboy Advance. This one did make it over to the west and this time around, they didn't even bother to edit out the Japanese school uniforms. A shitload of additions have been made to the game this time around so this one is more of a remake than a port. The RPG elemens are more more visible as this time around, the amount of damage you deal actually appears on the screen.

There are loads of new animations and moves, your character now has a reputation stat that determines whether or not you'll be able to hire new allies and even more new locations are added. Several new techniques made it in and even special boss techniques can be used by the player characters. Another funny thing is how in the opening dialogue, Alex and Ryan don't seem to be the good buddies that they were in the NES original. Again there's an explanation here. Kunio and Riki from the Japanese version weren't friends to begin with. They are rivals. In fact Riki even appears as one of the other bullies that pick on Kunio's friend, Hiroshi in the first game.

With all these enhancements and its solid gameplay, I would love to call this the definitive version of River City Ransom but there is one thing holding me back. There's no freaking multiplayer! Can you believe that?! I mean, an AI controlled Riki even tags along the whole game. Would it have been so hard to enable another player to control him? Have you ever heard of any classic beat 'em up that didn't include co-op?! Well... I guess we did have that one notorious perpetrator on the Super Nintendo but let's not go there. This game should have had multiplayer!

So we've looked at the original series and a few ports, but what about any direct sequels? Of course the Kunio-kun series just kept rolling on in Japan. The Super Nintendo had its share of games including a sequel to Dodgeball Bu, a Baseball spin-off and a puzzle game. Let's skip all those though and get to the games you want to hear about.

Shodai Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-Kun

[embed]180760:32021[/embed]

This one was released quite early in the SNES' lifespan from what I've gathered. Kunio's school goes on a field trip to Osaka. Of course it isn't long before the Kansai bullies show up and Kunio's in for the fight of his life once more. This one actually takes the RPG elements even further than River City Ransom did. There's a strong emphasis on story this time around with lots of cutscenes. You also gain experience and use items much more like the traditional RPG elements. I haven't played this game myself yet but from what I can tell, it looks like a great continuation of the series.

Shin Nekketsu Koha: Kunio Tachi no Banka

[embed]180760:32022[/embed]

This is the second full featured entry into the SNES' library. This time around Kunio and Riki are thrown into jail for a crime they didn't commit. Again I haven't played this game myself but I've heard that it doesn't have any RPG elements this time around. Still ... even without those, it looks like a very solid beat 'em up in the video above. I absolutely dig the presentation and the mystery at the beginning. I'm kinda dying right now to find out why Kunio and Riki have ended up in jail and who framed them. Maybe I'll check this game out for myself when I find a whole in my schedule. Both these SNES titles were originally released in Japanese only but thanks to the efforts of several dedicated fans, it's now possible to play them fully translated in English. Thank you guys so much!

River City Ransom 2

As far as direct sequels go, one more little trinket lies around in the RCR history. That one's actually an American made, or rather about to me made sequel by Atari QA tester Armen Casarjian. It's a funny story actually. While the Kunio series was busy pumping out new games on the islands of Japan, nobody had paid any attention to the copyrighted title of River City Ransom. Just on a whim, this guy applied for the expired copyright and what do you know ... He got it!

Although he didn't have access to any of the game's content, he did own the title. Thus he gathered a couple of friends and started working on a Game Boy Advance game under the title River City Ransom 2. The plot was going to be a rehash of the first game but he had some ambitious features in mind like four player simultaneous co-op on a single cartridge and an easy-to-pick-up, hard-to-master fighting engine in the vein of Super Smash Brothers. So what eventually became of this game? Casarjian attended E3 2003 and saw the announcement of River City Ransom Ex for the Game Boy Advance. Out of respect for the original developers, he pulled the plug on his own project and let them use "his" title without being an ass. Thumbs up to him for being such a good sport and frankly, I'd place my thrust in the original Kunio developers over a fairly unexperienced although ambitious developer any day.

And that's that. River City Ransom. A true cult classic from the eighties that seemed to disappear from the face of the earth but actually had a whole series behind it lurking in the shadows. Actually I've always felt a bit of a personal connection to the Kunio-kun games and that's probably because I've been bullied myself in highschool. It's a very serious thing and has had a big impact on my confidence during my teen years. Fortunately in my case, most of the damage has been repaired by three great years of college and several more of traveling around the world.



Both of these things give me a feeling of power over my old bullies. I'm pretty sure most of them are living a generic life in the same town where our school was and here I am living in all these exotic places they've likely never seen before. It's also possible that they are perfectly happy with their current lives and you know what? That's ok. I have my way of coping with what happened back then and it doesn't matter how good or bad they are doing in their own lives.

Still it hurts me when I see it happen to other people. Just yesterday I was walking through one of Tokyo's train stations and saw one kid being pushed in a corner by three others. Every now and then they kicked him in the leg. Not hard enough for him to go down but he had this forced smile on his face and commented something like "it does hurt quite a bit". I felt really sorry for this guy. Back in my day it never got that far and without a doubt, that's because I never let it get that far. They never assaulted me physically because they knew I'd hit back. Even by words alone they have some times pushed me over the limit and in an explosion of nerd rage, I've beaten their faces in with a freaking trash can.

Even though I had these brief moments of revenge though, the bullying didn't stop. That's just how it works. I could have interfered and helped this guy out, but just like Hiroshi gets beaten up again and again no matter how many times Kunio saves him, these guys would have had their revenge ten times over as soon as I was gone. It's kind of harsh but if you don't want to be bullied, the only way is to man up and get confident about yourself. I'm not telling anyone to resort to violence but even without that, you have to radiate that you feel good about yourself and aren't willing to be trampled upon. I know it's much easier said than done though. Especially if you fail to introduce yourself into the group this way. Once the pestering has taken off, it gets exponentially harder to call it to a halt. Very sad ... but true. Still ... I have been able to overcome it and that means that it is possible.

This has been Metallion. Thanks for reading my little rant. :)

[embed]180760:32023[/embed]   read


10:40 AM on 07.30.2010

River City Retro: Guilty Gear's Metal Meltdown

I've always been a huge fan of heavy metal music. In fact I entered this speech contest just earlier today. We were given a few minutes up on stage to talk in Japanese about pretty much anything we wanted. My subject was metal and in particular the contradiction between its scary evil presentation and the friendly atmosphere among its fans. I ended up winning the bloody thing too. Check out this cool certificate I got for it.

Of course, I'm not writing this blog just to gloat. We've got some games to talk about. There's one game in particular that has been stealing my heart both as a metal fan and as a gamer. I'm not talking about Brutal Legend though. Long before that game even appeared in its mother's womb, there was Guilty Gear XX. Not only is it an absolute beaut of a fighting game, it's also a veritable love letter to the better kind of guitar violence. Just for kicks, I've decided to sum up a bunch of the musical references that I've managed to spot around the game. Enjoy your read as I present you River City Retro's heavy metal meltdown of the Guilty Gear series.

Character names

Ky Kiske
Reference to: Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske



Both Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske stood at the dawn of a band named Helloween. They were one of the pioneers of a metal genre that would eventually be called Power Metal. What is power metal you ask? I guess you could define it as long haired tattooed nerds playing epic songs about fantasy tales that they've either thought up themselves, or read about in books. It's definitely the most cheesy kind of metal out there but hey ... cheese tastes good. ^_^

Hansen and Kiske have long since left the band but they are doomed to be forever associated with it. A bit like Sepultura and the Cavalera brothers but that's another story.

Testament
Reference to: Testament



Thrash metal. One of the more brutal kinds in the movement. Its most famous band is definitely Metallica who were sick of all the glam rock bands dominating the scene in the eighties. Taking a 180 turn of all of that, they decided to play full-on in-your-face metal. As the genre popularized, four bands stood out and eventually got labeled the big four of Thrash. Those were Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax.

Where does Testament fit into all of this? Well, they're an all-around awesome thrash band and it's been more than once claimed that they deserve to be seen as the fifth member of the big four. Whether or not they really do belong in there, Testament is a great band and I'd go see them live no matter what group they're shoved into.

Slayer
Reference to: Slayer



Now these guys simply are part of the big four. No discussion here. They're easily recognizable with their graphic anti-christian album covers, titles like God Hates Us All and the coolest looking guitarist in the business. I actually love how singer Tom Araya is a convinced catholic despite all of these blasphemous songs. When asked about that in an interview he laughed and simply replied: "God doesn't hate you ... It's just a fucking cool title!" That's the spirit, Tom!

They've also got the most controversial metal song ever in their catalog. Angel of Death with lyrics that describe scenes from the holocaust.

[i]Auschwitz, the meaning of pain
The way that I want you to die
Slow death, immense decay
Showers that cleanse you of your life[/i]

Axl Low
Reference to: Axl Rose



A clear reference to Axl Rose, both in name and appearance. Rose is one of rock's most distinct personalities. Frontman to one the most charismatic bands out there and all around asshole. Guns 'n Roses concerts would often end with him jumping out to pick a fight with somebody in the audience or him just walking off stage because of whatever lit his short fuse. Nowadays he's still going on with his band while all the other members have long since left.

No matter how much of an asshole this guy is though, you just can't deny how awesome Guns 'n Roses used to be and still is whenever you put Appetite for Destruction in your cd player. You're in the jungle baby! You're gonna die!

Dizzy
Reference to: Dizzy Reed



Staying with the Guns 'n Roses theme, we've got Dizzy Reed next. This keyboard player has been up to some other stuff including a tour with Alice Cooper at some point unfortunately for him, that's not what he will be remembered for. He is currently, desides Axl, the only active Guns 'n Roses member from before the bands unfriendly brake-up.

Venom
Reference to: Venom



Back when Judas Priest and Iron Maiden were barely done reviving the scene, Venom came along and made little kids shit their pants. Their music was way more extreme than anything we had seen before and even to this day, many of the more extreme bands cite Venom as their main influence. It's often speculated that their 1982 album Black Metal inspired the sub-genre of the same name.

A.B.A
Reference to: ABBA



Let's take a break from metal but at least stay in a country famous for its metal scene. I assume everyone here has heard of ABBA. This band from Stockholm, Sweden has gone on to become a leading pop act around the world. I'm sure being referenced by an awkward girl in bloody bandages holding a talking key was what they always wanted back when they formed in 1972.

Eddie
Reference to: Iron Maiden's mascott



Eddie. The most recognizable face of heavy metal music. Who has never seen a kid walking around in an Iron Maiden t-shirt and stop to wonder what the hell that horrifying image is? In fact I'm wearing one of those t-shirts right now. Bought it last weekend for about 5€ in Hong Kong no less. As fake as it gets but hey, it's got Eddie and Eddie is freaking awesome! Did you know he has his own rail shooter?

Zappa
Reference to: Frank Zappa



Simpe rule. If you don't know Frank Zappa then you suck. I think Rolling Stone magazine wrote it best back in 2004.

Frank Zappa dabbled in virtually all kinds of music—and, whether guised as a satirical rocker, jazz-rock fusionist, guitar virtuoso, electronics wizard, or orchestral innovator, his eccentric genius was undeniable.

Moves

Ky Kiske's Ride the Lightning
Reference to: Metallica



I already told you who Metallica is so no need to go there again. Besides, you probably knew without me telling you anyway. Chances are you know Ride the Lighting too. It's the bands sophomore album, following right after 1983's Kill 'em All. This album enriched the world with classics like For Whom The Bell Tolls, Creeping Death and The Call of Ktulu.

Millia Rage's Iron Maiden
Reference to: Iron Maiden



Oh yeah, now we're talking. Iron fucking Maiden! They are my all time favourite band. While other bands like Metallica have contributed their part to the metal scene and stopped making impressive new material long ago, Maiden is still going strong. Heck, Dance of Death from 2003 is one of my all time favourite Maiden records. A Matter of Life and Death wasn't quite as good but still not bad and I can't wait for The New Frontier to be released in August! Up the irons! \m/

Slayer's attacks
Reference to: Queen



His name might be pure thrash metal but his moves take us back much further in the history of rock. I'm sure queen fans will easily recognize the following attacks of his.

* It's Late
* Under Pressure
* Dead on Time
* Spread Your Wings
* All Dead

Bridget's Kickstart My Heart
Reference to: Mötley Crüe



Metallica might have started their heavy sound in disgust of 80's glam rock but I don't share their opinion. Glam is something I couldn't listen to for a whole day but putting on a Crüe record every once and a while is great! These guys have definitely played their part in the notority surrounding heavy metal music too. If it wasn't for their book titled The Dirt, a million interviewers wouldn't be asking Ozzy Osbourne if he really snorted a line of ants when on tour with these guys. Just for the record, Ozzy always replies that he just doesn't know. He was too wasted to remember the Mötley Crüe tour. :)

Dizzy's Gamma Ray
Reference to: Gamma Ray



Remember Kai Hansen from the beginning of this blog? When he finally quite Helloween, this is what he did. The reasons as to why he left Helloween still aren't really that clear but I don't think it matters too much. He formed Gamma Ray which has given us a lot more great power metal alongside Helloween. Relations between the bands aren't a problem either. In fact I saw them tour together a couple of years ago. Funny to see Hansen singing clearly with a sigarette sticking from the side of his mouth and it was epic to see all members of both bands join together on stage for the more famous songs.

Potemkin's Hammer Fall
Reference to: Hammerfall



Hammerfall's another power metal band that drew a lot of inspiration from Helloween. It's popularity is probably at least as great is not greater than Helloween's. Musically though, I think they're quite a few notches below them actually. I used to be really into them and especially their debut album, Glory to the Brave. After about half a year though, I got a bit tired of them and especially when I discovered amazing melodic singers like Jorn Lande, Hammerfall started feeling quite stale to me. Don't get me wrong though. Hammerfall is a very good power metal band with some killer guitar solo's and very catchy songs but at the end of the day, I think there's better stuff out there. Fun game related fact: Blizzard Entertainment's very own art director actually took care of several album covers for these guys.

Robo-Ky's Aegis High
reference to: Iron Maiden -- Aces High



One of Iron Maiden's iconic songs. I swear! When I heard this for the first time on my disc-man, suddenly my hair grew ten inches longer. Actually it's the song that introduced me to heavy metal along with a three others. It was back when I first got my copy of Carmageddon 2. One evening while doing my homework, I decided to put the game in my CD player and see what happens. Little did I know that I was about to introduced to my favourite band of all time. Stainless Games, thank you so much for licensing Iron Maiden as the sound track for this game! You guys are my heroes.

Testament's Master of Puppets
Reference to: Metallica -- Master of Puppets



Ky Kiske brought us Ride the Lighting, now Testament brings us Master of Puppets. Metallica's third album and widely recognized to be one of the most influential metal recordings ever. With songs like Master of Puppets, Welcome Home (Sanitarium) and Orion, this disc is a true masterpiece. I actually own a bootleg copy of their 20th anniversary show at Rock Am Ring where they played this album in its entirety. It's one of the very best metal shows I have ever seen and if you're a metal fan, you owe it to yourself to see it. Even if you don't like Metallica all that much, you still should see it. I mean it! It's on google video. Go watch it now! Stop reading!

Venom's Dim Bomber
Reference to: Dimmu Borgir



Back to Venom for our final reference. His name comes from the original extreme metal band and this move is named after one of today's most popular extreme muscisians. Was that intentional or am I reading into it too much? Either way, we've got a genuine reference to Dimmu Borgir here. These guys are part of the Norwegian black metal movement which is notorious for worshipping the devil and burning churches all over Norway.

This scene is a real phenomena within metal's culture. I don't really fully understand it myself. On one side, these bands' theatrics are extremely silly and remind me more of that recent Japanese movie Detroid Metal City than anything else, but then on the other side, they do these horrible things like the church burnings. It's something one could write a whole blog about or even a book.

And there you have it. These are the references that I clearly noticed. As big as this list is though, I'm absolutely sure it's barely scratching the surface of all the musical goodness within this title. Heck, some people are even going as far as to say that Sol Badguy's blocking stance bears a striking resemblance to Freddy Mercury holding his microphone. I don't know if we should take it that far but on the other hand, his profile does say he likes listening to queen AND he's got "rock you" carved on his forehead armor. The point is there are bound to be loads more pokes and winks in here just waiting to be found. Have you noticed any I didn't? How about some references in other games? Let's hear all about in the comments.

This has been Metallion, and thank you for reading River City Retro.   read


7:25 AM on 07.19.2010

A Gamer's Diet: It's my birthday!



Well actually it isn't my birthday. It was a little over one month ago. I had fully intended to publish this blog back then but as you can see, that didn't happen. I'm guess I'm still getting used to my new daily life since I moved to Tokyo earlier this year. I'm a lot busier than I used to be and my self-imposed blogging schedule suffers from it. At this moment, I've pretty much just decided to blog whenever I feel like it and be at peace with that. Some times I might post three articles a week and some times I might not post anything for over a month.

So now that we've got that out of the way, it was my birthday recently. My good South Korean friends Kim Kiss, Park Son Min, Kang in Geol and Ja Mi Gyong took me and my girlfriend out to dinner in Tokyo's Korean neighbourhood. After lots of bbq meat, even more beer and some surprise birthday pastries, we ended up in this other place. Kiss and Son Min spoke some gibberish to the waiters and they came back with a load of Soju bottles. The next day ... I was mostly recovering from a hangover but the day after that I finally made my own birthday cake and that's what I'm here to talk about.

This apple pie was actually created by my grandmother and has pretty much been a family tradition of sorts. My uncle made it, my mother made it, my sister made it and now I make it. It's really simple to do and so incredibly tasty! The hardest part is actually peeling and cutting up the apples which can take some time. In my family, whenever it's somebody's birthday, we either make this one of a cream cheese cake that my mother invented. I actually made that one later last month when it was my girlfriend's birthday.



Apple Pie

Time to make: About 1 hour and a half

What you need

For the filling:

12 table spoons of flour
10 table spoons of white sugar
1 package of vanilla sugar
8 table spoons of milk
6 table spoons of molten butter
2 eggs
About a handful raisins
Bread powder
Between 6 and 8 apples depending on their size
Cinnamon

For the little sauce on top:

7 table spoons of white sugar
1 table spoon of molten butter
1 egg

How to do it

The filling:

* Peal the apples and cut them in pieces of roughly 1 cm².

* Mix the flour, milk, butter sugar and eggs together in a bowl.

* Add the apples to the bowl.

* Flavour this with some cinnamon and add the raisins.

* Grease a pie dish.

* Sprinkle some bread powder on the dish and shake it so the bottom and all the edges are covered in it. This way the pie can easily be removed afterwards.

* Now poor the filling in there and push the raisins down under the surface so they don't burn.

* Put it in the oven at 180 °C for about 35 minutes.

The sauce:

* Mix the egg, the sugar and the last spoon of butter in a bowl.

* After the filling has baked for 35 minutes, take it out and poor this sauce over it. This makes the surface nice and shiny ~_^

* Now put it back in the oven at the same temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.



Enjoy! ^_^   read


12:20 PM on 07.18.2010

River City Retro: Time Slaughter



You know, when I was a little kid, I just couldn't get enough of Mortal Kombat. I didn't have a SNES until the Playstation was already out so until then, I could only play the game in a shop or at a friend's house. Whenever I wasn't in either of these, I was in my room creating my own bloody fighting games. The Power Rangers, G.I. Joe, the Ninja Turtles, any other actioned figure I owned, they'd all duke it out atop my desk. Mortal Kombat and its violence might have made for the coolest game in existence but surely I could do better. As I played with my dolls, the best game ever unfolded in my imagination.

The warriors' bodies would get covered with scratches and bruises as the battles raged on. Blood splatters on the floor would never disappear and as special moves were executed, naked women in the background held up signs saying cheesy lines like "Brutal!" or "Bloody!". At the end of each bout, losing fighters were kicked down from whatever furniture they were on and fell to their deaths in my bag of toy cars or onto my yellow tiled floor which was of course a pit of boiling lava. Good thing nobody ever put me in charge of a development team.

Time Slaughter for MS-DOS has a lot of things in common with my childhood imaginary game. There's (unfortunately?) no nudity but blood splatter stays on the floor, characters gradually degrade into bloody pulps and the casts looks just about as silly as my set of action figures did. Our story at hand deals with a mad scientist that has created a time machine. Some demons don't like him playing with time so they come over and graphically mutilate him. Missing both of his arms, the poor guy still manages to turn on the machine with his nose, effectively sending the demons back where they came from. As a convenient little side effect, the machine mangles up the strands of time, allowing for warriors from throughout the ages to tear each other to pieces. Our hero then replaces his lost limbs with machinery and takes up his role as the game's final boss. Time Slaughter's gameplay is as awful as its story but what really sets it aside, is it that it was programmed from the ground up by two 16 year olds and not just any 16 year olds.



Bloodlust software was a conjoined effort by two high school students intended to ridicule all the US' video game violence debates going on in the early nineties. In addition to Time Slaughter and several other over the top violent games, they are responsible for a little app called Nesticle. Their games might not have been all that good but without Nesticle, the Emulation scene would not have been what it is today. Both of the authors have since gone on to work in major gaming companies like EA and Ubisoft.

With all this talk of gaming's Citizen Kane going on recently, I actually think it's a great time to bring up Time Slaughter. Which game deserves to be our Kane is probably going to be debated for quite a bit more but I'm pretty sure Time Slaughter is our Braindead. For the unknowing, this was an extreme over-the-top gore flick that included landmower on zombie action, laughable special effects and lots of overacting. It's one of those popcorn munchers that you can only enjoy with a dark sense of humour and a strong stomach.

Time Slaughter is exactly that. It's clunky, it's silly and it doesn't take itself seriously. Just have a look at its highly inappropriate midget raping intro and try not to snicker. Be warned though. As you should have been able to figure out on your own, this intro is extremely graphic and probably not suited for work. Anyway, let's have a look at a few of the characters.

Asylum



Mortal Kombat clones really seem to have a thing for these metal patient type of characters. Asylum is your generic madman in a straitjacket that fights because he's insane. He never takes the jacket off, fighting with his shoulders, head and legs. His victory taunts do show that he could easily shed it like a second skin if he wanted to though. Speaking of shedding skins, by the way ... He does that too. Claims to have over 500 personalities as well.

Pierre



A French painter with a generic name. His reason for fighting? People look so much more colourful when they're all bumped and bruised. ^_^

Chi



Chi. Your generic stereotypical Chinese warrior. Very boring character if it wasn't for his backstory. Let's quote the developer's website for a moment.

Chi was the victim of a cruel practical joke. His master told him to guard a bridge when he was a mere child until the "flying monkeys" came. Chi never stopped guarding it. Now he's 45 and he can't speak any language, but he has tought himself many unique skills (he's had plenty of time to meditate). His reason for fighting - after 30 years everyone looks like a flying monkey.

Brilliant.

Vlad



Vlad Dracul, the impaler from Wallachia. He never drinks wine.

Turns out the game was actually headed for a sequel. It was going to contain even crazier characters like the shitman who can mold shit into anything he wants and even make other people defaecate on demand. I personally am not really waiting for it to come out though. With the developers' latest update saying that they're aiming for a 2007 release, I think nobody else should either. Quite a bit of artwork for it can be found on Ringmasterbent's deviant art page though. It does look a bit more polished than the first game but I doubt it would have played much better.

As awful as the game is, I do wonder ... Was it really a failure? If we were to place it next to a Mortal Kombat II cabinet, I'm pretty sure it would start collecting dust very soon but perhaps it doesn't belong there anyway. Its sole purpose was to ridicule video game violence and with this level of satire, I say it belongs with the likes of the Postal series more than anywhere else. Within that scope, I'd say it was at least a moderate success.

This has been Metallion. Thank you for reading.   read


8:59 AM on 05.23.2010

A gamer's diet: Ratatouille



Let me start off by excessively thanking everyone that supported A Gamer's Diet two weeks ago. I really didn't know what to expect at first. With double digit faps and loads of encouraging comments, including two from the Destructoid staff, the support has been overwhelming. Thank you all very much! I intended to post my second recipe last Sunday but kept getting distracted by BlazBlue Continuum Shift arcade cabinets calling my name, friends inviting me for drinks and my school having me design a poster for their upcoming sports event. You can check that out here if you're wondering how it turned out.

Anyways, today I've got a bit of a romantic story for you guys to accompany the recipe with. A couple of weeks ago, my girlfriend was going crasy about the Disney Pixar movie Ratatouille, where a little rat turns out to have the blood of a true gourmet chef in him. Though she's usually not into movies all that much, she loved this one so much that she actually wanted to own the DVD. Rather than simply buying hit for her, I decided to actually cook up a plate of Ratatouille and then have the movie "magically" be there on the table when she sits down. It was actually my first time making the French dish but I'm rather satisfied with the result.



Ratatouille

Servings: 4
Time to make: About 40 minutes

What you need

olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 large onion, sliced
1 small eggplant, cut up into small pieces
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 cans of diced tomatoes
3 to 4 small zucchini, sliced
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoons parsley

How to do it

* Get yourself a big pot, grease it with some olive oil and put it on medium heat.

* Fry the onions in here for about seven minutes while spicing them up with the garlic. They should be nice and soft afterwards. Make sure to stir often so they don't burn.

* Now add the eggplant and stir until they're mostly oiled up.

* Put in the bell peppers immediately afterwards.

* Now put a lit on it and cook the vegetable mixture for ten more minutes. Open it up to sir every now and then.

* Finally add the zucchini, tomatoes and all the spices. Mix it up well and then cook it 15 minutes more on lower heat.

* Before serving, taste the eggplant to make sure that it's nice and tender. If this is the case, all the other ingredients should be fine too.

* If you want to, you can make it look a little nicer by cutting up a bit more fresh parsley and sprinkling that over when it's done.



The meat alongside it in this picture is actually a Belgian thing called bird's nest. It's something that I'm still learning and experimenting with a lot. My girlfriend has been steadily enjoying my previous attempts but personally, I'm not quite that satisfied with them yet. We'll get to those once I've matured them a bit.   read


8:50 AM on 05.09.2010

A gamer's diet: Spaghetti Bolognaise



This is a new series I intend on doing. Other than gaming, a thing I really love is eating and drinking. For a while now I have been wanting to blog about the things I make and bake. Feeling like this doesn't belong on a gaming site such as Destructoid, I set off to find a cooking community. Though I did come across several very nice websites, non of them seemed to provide the blogging tools that I wanted.

So ... you know what? I say in the end it doesn't matter whether you're into gaming, flower arrangements or gay porn. No matter who you are and what you do to live, thrive and survive, there're still some things that make us all the same and the fact that we all eat and drink is one of those. That's why I've decided to post some of my recipes here for all the gamers who feel like putting down their controllers and picking up a frying pan some time. In case you all do feel like this doesn't belong here, please let me know and I'll take my pots and pans elsewhere.

For starters let's do something from Mario and Luigi's homeland. Spaghetti Bolognaise is one of those classics that everyone can make but nobody does in the exact same way. I always used to buy this ready made sauce and then just add some vegetables myself. Since I moved to Japan, I've had troubled finding a sauce like this and so I have decided to experiment with some spices myself and finally succeeded in making something that both me and my girlfriend enjoyed a lot. Let's get to it.



Spaghetti Bolognaise

Servings: 3
Time to make: About 1 hour

What you need

2 jars of tomato sauce
1 can of diced tomatoes
200g mixed pork/beef minced meat
1 clove of garlic
1 large onion halved and sliced
1 green bell pepper cut in small pieces
200g mushrooms
half a teaspoon of thyme
half a teaspoon of oregano
pepper and salt
half a teaspoon of Mccormic Italian Seasoning... If you can't find this, herbes the provence will do just fine.
A small bush of parsley, chopped.

How to do it

I've divided this into three parts that can pretty much be done simultaneously.

Part 1:

* Put some olive oil in a pan and fry the onion for about 3 to 5 minutes.

* Put the meat in with the onion and use a wooden spoon to softly chop it in smaller pieces while it fries. Spice it up with some salt and pepper.

* Also add the oregano, thyme and Italian seasoning. (or herbes de provence)

* Fry until the meat is nice and brown. Lower the heat if necessary.

Part 2:

* Put some olive oil in a big pot and fry the bell peppers on medium heat for about 3 - 4 minutes. Stir often so they don't burn.

* Add the mushrooms and fry until they are starting to get a little soft but not completely squishy.

* Now add the sauce and diced tomatoes to the bell peppers and bring to a boil.

* Crush the garlic and add it to the sauce.

* Add the onions and meat you have just fried. and boil for a few minutes.

* Finally add the parsley and have the whole thing boil a little more until the bell peppers are soft enough to suit your taste.

* If you wish, you can put in some spicy peppers too.

Part 3:

* All done. Now just boil some pasta and just pour the sauce on it. I personally love to serve this with a shitload of grated cheese on top.

  read





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