So I've revamped some things (disastrously apparent if you've read the headline) because I hope to do some things with this blog. It's either reviews, faux plays, or analytical diatribes. We'll see in the coming winters.
For Kicks indeed. Tonights ratings will be all about the world of video game kicks. starting with...
Double Dragon: If I sat Joe P. Random in front of a game of Double Dragon on the NES (and if he knew the controls) I guarantee to you his first act of in-game violence would be the kick. The range, the power, the...capris? Yes, the only thing keeping the Double Dragon kick from pure immortality is the purely ridiculous pants worn by the protagonist. Sure, the box art makes it seem like cool metal kickpads, but once in the world you realize your front cover martial arts stud is really a teenage loner just home from shopping at Old Navy with Daddy's credit card. C+
River City Ransom: Dragon Feet. The sound effect in this NES classic from booting a fool in his stones is sweet enough but when you add a machine gun repetition to it you get a sorbet of sole. Purchased from the book store, this ancient Chinese secret (ya right) lets you unleash multiple kicks without jamming your thumb or discovering an NESadvantage in your neighbor's garage. Considering the actual 8-bit noise totally sounds like fapfapfapfapfapfapfap and you know why this one has to get an: A+
TMNT (Arcade): I've played this beat-em up more times than I care to count (which one is the real shredder? noooooo) and even now, the innaccuracy of the jump kick infuriates me. It's only redeeming value is the fact that it's the only move in the whole game where your ninja turtle looks, like a f'ing NINJA. I mean, a diagonal jump kick is hardcore, throw in a somersault and you are a legend, Leonardo. Still, kind of a waste though that a ninja's most useful move is a jumpkick and not the two 3 foot long razor sharp katanas strapped to his goddamn shell. B-
Kickle Cubicle: The point of the game is to breath out icecubes and kick them into enemies or into the water therefore making a bridge. Get it? He KICKS the iceCUBES. Such an inventive name that you can tell came from Japan. Japan, after all, is the home of Jump Man. I don't really have time here to talk about the sequel, Punchickle Baboonicle but you get the gist. Plus his suspenders are candy red. D
Street Fighter II Turbo: Here's a secret to winning a game of SFIITurbo. Pick Dhalsim. Hold Down on the controller. Press the Hard Kick button. Yeah. That sliding thing was pretty cool wasn't it? Ok. Now repeat in two second intervals for the rest of the fight. Congratulations! It's incredibly cheesy but the point of fighting games is to win, right? Right? Hey where the hell are you going? Anyway, it's hard to rate just one kick in all of Street Fighter, but the physically-impossible-to-perform-butt-slide-low-kick pretty much makes my day. Or aggravates me like a chancre sore. Shit. Fucking M. Bison... B
Gears of War: the curb stomp. A relatively new phenomenon and one that I believe belongs in the annals of the video game kick for its contribution to the grit and gore it represents while simultaneously detracting from gaming's lowest commone denominator. It is a move both cynical (a game that features chainsaws, guns, and grenades still believes the player wants more variety in its death rattles) and vain (heavy feet, big cocks, welcome to Freud 101). Downvoted though just for the fact that it's less your feet doing the talking and more the over-sized military boots made for walking. C
That's it for now. My apologies to all the soccer fans out there. Title courtesty of MST3K and Wild Rebels (1967)
We all know the Red Cross sign. See it on the battlefield, GTA, or where ever, run over it, voila you sir, are healed. No leeches or recuperation time for you. No need to bog yourself down in the details of your injury because with the Red Cross first aid kit, a 30 foot fall to pavement is the same affliction as a gunshot wound or a scraped knee. It could be a fucking box of Vicks vapor rub. But then, what kind of a bad ass hero or heroine uses Vicks vapor rub? B
The Large Hear(Zelda):
The symbol represents love and peace, but I have to think about the source. Here's a scenario: Link has just fileted an octorock, there's fucking blood everywhere, severed tentacles in a heap on the forest floor; Link reaches into the pile, pulls out the still beating heart of the once living demonic monstrosity and then proceeds to EAT the damn thing right there, fucking RAW to the shock and horror of nearby octorocks! No wonder everything in the world wants to kill Link. To be fair, he also devours fairies whole after storing them in a small jar for days. Link is an asshole. Besides, in the book of cliches I think the heart is on the cover. C-
The Pulsing Ball (Mega Man, Metroid):
Talk about cannibalism Mega Man. Jesus. Is the only way for the Blue Bomber to replenish himself to prey on the bodies of his former robot brethren? Health pickups should not come with a urge to confess. Aside from that, like Metroid, the pulsing ball comes in a variety of flavors indicating the level of health recharged. I enjoy mega man picking up a big meaty ball because then the game will pause and I can listen to the sound of health actually happening. Wouldn't it be great if hospitals had needles that played the sound? I would get a vaccine today. Or start using heroin. B+
It's meat! Sometimes it's cooked (like a lovely turkey) or a big raw steak. My personal favorite is the Flintstones hunk of beef with the handlebone. You know, the one where its flat at the top and probably tastes just like childhood. Mainly found in beat-em-ups where health pickups are rare thus increasing the meat real estate even if it's a pot roast you found in a barrel by the subway. The exception to the beat-em-up rule being the Castlevania series where you find meat by whipping the walls. Meat...from the walls. Dracula's castle is made out of meat. Kind of like Hansel and Gretel but...fucked up. B-
What is the logical connection for a nudist sprinting hedhehog collecting hundreds of golden rings if the first time he makes contact with a hostile enemy he loses them all? It's an allegory to gambling: hard to win, easy to lose, and then you wake up the morning after, next to a mutant flying fox wanting to be your sidekick. Shit, there's even a casino level with slot machines you play to gain rings, or lose them! But all of this still doesn't answer the question why the damn hog uses jewelry for health. Is it a shield of rings, invisible to the naked eye? Where does he keep so many if all he has on is a pair of sneakers? Why does he need more than one? What happens to them all after a level is completed? Sonic uses rings to unlock bonus stages where (surprise) he grabs more fucking rings! This cobalt dipshit has a serious disorder. Also, cock-rings. (bonus reference: "Any cock'll dooooo!") F
First Aid Spray/ Herbs (Resident Evil Series):
It's as if the pre-requisite for surviving a zombie armaggedon is 12 credit hours of botany lab. "Oh look a red plant in an abandoned mansion, I think this will cure my poisoned condition!" All of the protagonists from the Resident Evil series should be dead just from the fact that they're stupid enough to enter a bio hazardous area and nibble on the fucking plant life. "Everything else around here seems to have been gruesomely mutated from a virus but I'm sure this innocuous little herb will be safe to ingest. And if that doesn't work to heal my gaping zombie-inflicted wounds I'll just spray this aerosol can on myself; because in my wacky wacky world, real medicine has been replaced by GardenRidge and WD-40." D
What better way than video games to teach our children that the solution to most of life's aches and pains can be cured via a trip to the friendly neighborhood apothecary? Found mostly in RPGs, the "potion" represents everything you'd hope for moments before a humiliating death. Unlike the other items on this list, potions can be stocked up to the magical number 99 thus making the player the unstoppable Lazarus of Final Fantasy VII. An item so iconic no fantasy game dares call it anything else. A +
They say that in order to be a prolific video-games journalist, you must first be prolific. Well I'll become prolific when I am good and dead and so that just leaves me with quasi-sophisticated rants on gaming haberdashery. I don't really (but want to) have a cute tagline for my boyish escapades that encompass my entire sense of being and my philosophy of play. But then it came to me: my favorite cartoon characters are Milk & Cheese, seminal creations of one Evan Dorkin, and mandatory reading for anyone attesting to a love of comic books. Yes, I said "comic books." Sin City and Watchmen may be graphic novels, but M & C are comics, dammit.
This madcap energy of booze fueled destruction is the core mechanic of fun, fun that I hope to wrench from whatever video-game captures my fancy at the moment.
My first reviewed game shall be Shadow of the Colossus. I know, I know, enough praise has been written for this game but I really wanted to talk about the soundtrack. Now, the soundtrack is excellent and it's got all the rises and falls you'd want from an epic clanging together of brass and string in a sound proof room. But what makes the music videogame music and not just a passive recording of an orchestra is the timing and the implementation of the music.
I will never forget playing Shadow of the Colossus and realizing for the first time that the music I was hearing, was tied to the on-screen action. Before, I had just assumed the score was pre-installed for the colossi segments; it was only by the 4th colossus (Mr. Bird) that I realized, "hey this tuneage is timed pretty well to the fight." Here's the scenario (for those not having played it at all):
A big bird flying around a ruin half submerged in a seemingly bottomless lake cues a haunting tranquil melody; to break the calm and antagonize the feathered bastard you shoot an arrow far far FAR off into the distance; the bird notices you for the first time and begins its swoop; okay, now it's swooping, you've got time; uh...the bird is still swooping and it's only getting bigger, bigger, bigger and oh my god it's here as you jump and desperately cling to its wing rather than be dashed into smithereens.
It's at this moment the music shifts from the tranquil theme to the danger theme. Will Wander fall off and down hundreds of stories or can he hold on just a little bit longer as his grip weakens. Just about when it's too late, the bird's enormous wing levels out and you can walk the span. It's here that the music changes AGAIN into a battle motif evoking (in my opinion) the cinema music of Shostakovich. You're running along the body finding the parts to stab, holding on every now and then as the beast soars upside down trying to shake you off. When the bird finally dies, the music cuts off and a mournful melody is played. Now, the fantastic part about that sequence is that, besides the final tune, all of the music is contextual. Depending on the player's actions, the music can be reset, restarted, or looped continually. The flow of one theme into anothe is so smooth yet controlled by the player. That's a great argument for games as art, right there. I'm done gushing, I know people really like bad game slamming so there's always...
Remember kids, gin makes a man mean...and Ebay bid on uh...crappy Nes titles.