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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.

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.

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.

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

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!

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.
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About Metallionone of us since 4:11 AM on 10.14.2009

River City Retro

Kirby's Dream Land 2

Kirby's Dream Land

What Final Fantasy used to sound like

NES conquers the world in 25 years

River City Ransom

Guilty Gear's Metal Meltdown

Time Slaughter

Alien Wars 4: How to make a proper X-COM Sequel

Alien Wars 3: How the X-COM series fell from grace

Alien Wars 2: From the depths they came

Alien Wars 1: UFO Done Properly

UFO: Enemy Unknown

Ten Games that love other games

Final Fantasy 6

Tom & Jerry

Sin... just sin

Blood... just blood

Eight Games Lost in Translation

A Gamer's Diet

Apple Pie (It's my birthday)


Spaghetti Bolognaise

Monthly Musing

Aaamaazing: Mortal Kombat

Groundhog Day: BlazBlue

E for Effort: Becoming a World Warrior + Interview with a tournament player

Something about sex: Ten gaming couples that either should or should not do it

My Expertise: A Moustached Hero

The Future: Professional gaming

River City Ramblings

The Starcraft 2 beta and what it means to me

New Super Mario Brothers Wii: My first impressions


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.