Who am I you ask? Well I guess my story starts some time around the early eighties. As my apartment had strangely gotten a lot smaller over the last months, I thought it would be a good idea to redecorate it. I was leaning back in my sofa, going through the new Ikea catalog when I was suddenly hit by a massive earthquake. As much as I tried to hold my ground, I was propelled head first into that strange tunnel at my front door. I had been wondering where that leads but never had the courage to check it out.
After a long and bumpy ride, I finally stuck my head out the other end and saw daylight. Before I had a chance to adjust to my new environment, a big man wearing some kind of a lab coat and face mask grabbed hold of me. He was a despicable man really. Not only did he cut my food supply line, he also held me upside down in the air and slapped me right on the butt! What did I ever do to him?! Just when I was about to stick it to him, my attention was averted to this tired looking lady lying on a bed nearby.
It was very strange. Do you know that feeling when you meet somebody for the first time, yet you feel like you have known each other all along? I had this feeling when I saw her. That's when it occurred to me. This woman must be my landlady and I had been neglecting my rent for a few months after all. I could understand that she was upset but still... She had no right to turn me over to that sadistic bull in his white coat! I thought that me and her were going to have a long and personal conversation but right now, I just wanted to take a shower. That tunnel I had just been through wasn't all that clean after all.
Fortunately this other lady dressed in white was a lot nicer than her butt-slapping friend. She most kindly helped me clean myself and then handed me some warm, although not very fashionable garments. She carried me over to my landlady and I prepared to negotiate the rent but instead, my landlady threw me a warm smile and pressed me against her breast so lovingly that I melted like snow to the sun. She and her equally loving husband took me to their home where they had a room prepared with a bed in exactly my size and all kinds of lovely little things to play with. It's like they had been planning to take me in all along.
I didn't quite understand the strange language both of them spoke but yet I figured out that her name was Mom and crying meant "Food please", "Hug me" and "Clean me" all at the same time. The temperature wasn't as constant as my previous home but still, this was some service! Anyway, I would wander around this place for the time being while gradually learning to speak their language. It would take seven years before I really found out what my purpose here was.
One fine morning, Mom brought me to a supermarket and I saw a little mustached guy jumping around on a TV. That was my first encounter with the Nintendo Entertainment System! This thing blew my mind in so many ways! I had heard of princesses being kidnapped by dragons before but where's the prince to save her? No, there is no prince! This time it's a fat Italian plumber with a mustache who gets to be the hero! Yeah, that's what I'm talking about! Power to the common man! Not only that but rather than simply hear his tale, I could actually help him in his quest. Though Mom seemed quite unimpressed, I knew I had witnessed a miracle and it would leave a mark on my life for years to come.
I'd often get into fights with Mom after that. She wanted me to go outside and play with my friends but what did she know? After all, all of my friends were living in similar warm nests, receiving the same service from two other persons who were somehow all named Mom and Dad. No, my purpose in life was bigger than that. As much fun as playing with my friends was, If I did that then who would save princess Peach, liberate the kingdom of Hyrule and smite the evil king Dedede? I just couldn't ignore the sorrow of the weak!
It wasn't until another seven years or so that I would see what a fool I had been. Up until now, I had been carrying the weight of the world on my own shoulders while completely ignoring the help others could have offered. I was determined to never close my eyes to the value of friendship again! Especially in these dark times. I was barely finished helping Dr. Freeman escape the resonance cascade alive when bands of terrorists attacked and dragged his scientist colleagues off to cs_assault. This was too much for just me to handle. This time I needed help!
Anyone who doesn't believe in the kindness of strangers is a moron. I mean sure, strangers aren't always nice. I've been told that I SuX0rz and have been called a n00b a million times but even then, it's worth it. As it so happens, it were these very strangers that padded me on the back and reassuringly shouted "Lock and Load!" before we stormed the big garage and got every single scientist out while making a fair buck in the process. Unfortunately our happiness was short lived as a new batch of terrorists arrived and we were right back where we started. Rather than sigh over the shortness of our victory, we bought ourselves a new pack of heavy guns and rushed in once more. No matter how many times the terrorists came back, we'd bring them to justice!
Time went on and the terrorists got more and more violent. Now they didn't only take hostages any more but also planted bombs and tried to assassinate seemingly random VIPs. Our combined efforts were no longer enough. We needed more coordination. We needed a plan! We had to Look at the map and devise a clever strategy. As much as I tried this, people were joining and leaving our counter-terrorist squad with every tick of the clock. Some of them even switched sides to join the terrorists. I engaged in conversation with several of the better fighters. We decided to join together regularly and learn how to fight as one. You could even go as far as to call us a counter-strike clan! For years we battled the forces of evil and shed much blood until I finally left the front as I heard of another land in need.
So many years ago I had liberated the town of Tristram from Diablo, the lord of terror. The hero I helped out at the time had drilled the dark lord's soul stone right into his own forehead. What an idiot! Needless to say, Diablo soon overpowered this weak excuse for a savior and continued to live on, inhabiting the former hero's body. "Man", I thought. "I've gone through all of this before, I'm not doing it again or at least... Not alone!" Fortunately my plea for help didn't leave me waiting as several friends showed up and we entered a new clan to smite that demon once and for all! After taking care of business in the chaos sanctuary, laying waste to Baal, the lord of destruction and even single handedly obliterating several acres of murderous cows, it was time to put my swords and bows to rest once more.
Since that time, my clan based activity has settled down and I remain to fight on the side of good with smaller bands of friends while every now and then fondly remembering those good old days. Most of all, I tend to leave the real action up to others as I watch from the sidelines. Especially a Korean man named Jaedong shows particular excellence in leading the Zerg to victory against the evil Protoss at general Bisu's command and admiral Flash' corrupted Terran whom I wish all to be infested for greater good.
I thank you for taking the time to read about my life. Perhaps our paths may once cross in the endless online battlefields and until then, luck be with you.
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.
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
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. :)
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
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
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. :)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
About a handful raisins
Between 6 and 8 apples depending on their size
For the little sauce on top:
7 table spoons of white sugar
1 table spoon of molten butter
How to do it
* 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.
* 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
Time to make: About 40 minutes
What you need
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.
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.
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
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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.