Archive for the 'Video Games' Category


I Have the Power! …for one last time

December 6th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

When they announced that Twinkies were going away, I didn’t really care that much because I tended to stay away from Twinkies when I grew up. The end of Bazooka Joe comic strips stung slightly, but I only really remembered paying attention to them in the days of pee-wee baseball. I stopped reading Nintendo Power shortly after the 100th issue in 1997, but when I heard that the publication was being canceled, I felt it. Sure, I haven’t read any of it in 15 years and I was more surprised that it lasted this long, but it still represents a chunk of my childhood and seeing it snuffed out takes a lot out of me.

Today at work, we got in the new issue. The final issue, featuring a cover made to look much like the one that came out in 1988.

Which reminds me, why hasn’t Nintendo ever brought back Wart? They use Shy-Guys and Birdo, but they never reintroduced King Wart. What’s with that? And where’s that purple alien guy from Super Mario Land?

Anyway, I had to pick up the final issue for old time’s sake. While they’re long gone, I did have those initial issues, like the creepy one with Simon Belmont on the cover holding Dracula’s decapitated head, garnering the complaints of many parents. I think I stopped when I came to terms with the fact that Nintendo Power is a propaganda piece from Nintendo. It was a stage of growing up. There were better magazines out there (though certainly not that waste of paper Gamepro) and other game systems worth reading about and the chance that somebody might completely lay into a terrible game.

And you know what? Back in the days of the NES, that stuff wasn’t necessary. Nintendo Power obviously had the better finger on the pulse of Nintendo news than the other magazines. Nintendo practically had a monopoly on video games worth playing until the Genesis arrived. Most importantly, it didn’t matter that it was propaganda and that they were talking up how great nearly every single game was. Back in those times, being a kid in the NES era, nearly every single game WAS worth playing. It was a simpler time where you were either stuck owning a game or you were renting for the weekend. Unless the game was confusing or flat out terrible, you’d play the everloving hell out of it. Years later, I found out that Ikari Warriors 2: Victory Road was a bad game. My seven-year-old self played that thing for weeks!

I haven’t had much time to really sit down and read the final issue, but the last few pages caught my eye. Early on, Nintendo Power had a regular comic interlude called Howard and Nester, based on Nintendo employee Howard Phillips. The series went on for a while, eventually Howard left and it became teenage know-it-all Nester’s show. After the failure of his Virtual Boy game, Nester fell into obscurity, making a special appearance every now and then.

Not counting the “GAME OVER” final-final page, this is how Nintendo Power volume 285 ends. Not with Howard and Nester, but Nester and Maxwell, showing off how many years have passed since that clay Super Mario Brothers 2 cover from back in the day.

The last thing I noticed in that final panel was Howard’s bowtie in the center. Damn. :frown:

To cheer myself up, here’s a completely metal cover of the Ikaris Warriors 2: Victory Road main theme by Ryan8bit that I discovered many years ago.

I don’t know about you, but this makes me want to surf on a tank while on my way to fight the devil.

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Crossover Celebration Part 4: Mortal Kombat vs. the DC Universe

November 11th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

Ever since Marvel and Capcom released X-Men vs. Street Fighter, nearly everyone said that there needed to be a fighting game that pit Mortal Kombat against the DC characters. Many were joking, but a couple were dead serious. Some of the laughs were directed at how ill-fitting it would be, despite being the natural follow-up to the Marvel vs. Capcom stuff. Marvel and Capcom at least felt right together. Marvel feels more down-to-earth and many of its more popular characters are more street-level, making such matchups as Wolverine vs. Ryu seem natural. Mortal Kombat has a stigma of blood and guts while the public sees DC as the more squeaky-clean of the big comic companies.

The night prior to the 2008 New York Comic Con, this image was released to the public.

And I didn’t get any sleep because oh my God. They were really going to make this?! Really?!

The more I thought about it and the closer the game came to release, I started to come around to the idea of these two worlds mixing it up. DC has gotten far darker and bloodier over the years and Mortal Kombat – despite its many problems – is still home to a pretty strong sense of mythological identity. There have been bad games, bad movies, bad comics, bad TV shows and more, but there’s still an allure to the franchise outside of the blood and guts. When they make it work, it really goes the full mile. Like the latest game, for instance.

It’s noticeable how the two sides don’t exactly match up so well head-to-head. Sub-Zero and Batman aren’t really all that alike. There are only a few pairings that truly work in that aspect. Like even though Deathstroke and Baraka are rivals in the game, Deathstroke has more in common with Kano as a one-eyed, top-notch assassin. Then there’s the perfect pairing of Johnny Cage and Booster Gold, making it a huge shame that neither shows up in the game at all.

The other big pairing that works perfectly is Mortal Kombat’s Shao Kahn and DC’s Darkseid. As far as I’m concerned, the two share the same level of threat, badass and stature. They each hold onto their own realm as feared tyrants and wish to extend their grasp, blocked only by easily-twistable rules. Darkseid has his truce with the people of New Genesis while Shao Kahn must fulfill the rights of Mortal Kombat in order to move forward. It was only natural that they’d make these guys the main villains of the crossover.

Still, there were questions. How would these two sides clash? Why would they fight when the rosters are mostly good guys? How can you have Kano beat up Superman and act like it’s a thing that makes sense? Hell, forget about the Mortal Kombat guys! How is Joker vs. Superman supposed to make sense?!

Luckily, Midway put the how and why in some good hands with DC writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. The team known for breathing life into Jonah Hex and Power Girl would write the game’s Story Mode. Meanwhile, the collector’s edition of the game would feature a piece of cover art by big-time comic artist Alex Ross.

Seeing Scorpion and the gang in Alex Ross style is still so surreal.

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Glitchy Distractions

November 10th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

One of my great weaknesses when writing stuff for this site is that I get distracted by the internet really easily. I’m almost done with my next Crossover Celebration article, but instead of putting the finishing touches on it, I find myself thinking, “You know what I haven’t looked up in a while? Tool-assisted speed run videos.”

You know the kind. The ones that show the quickest possible way a game can be finished. Usually, they were a nice way to do away with your childhood demons. Like, for instance, watching somebody play through Karnov without getting hit once. They’re a great diversion, but there’s a few I’ve recently come across that had my jaw dropping. Somebody playing through by dodging every attack and hitting every enemy just right can be entertaining, but it’s the glitchy ones that steal the show. Tool-assisted speed runs that sometimes aren’t even based on speed. Just the tool-assisting.

For instance, I’ve seen speed runs of someone getting through Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past in less than two minutes due to a glitch. There’s also one for Battletoads where the players find a warp zone, create a warp zone from one of the players dying, end up on a screen of nonsense until one of them dies somehow and after hitting continue, they win. One that’s even more ridiculous is a Boy and a Blob.

Yes, he just ran through the credits screen to beat the game.

Fighting games are ripe for exploitation and few are better than this video of Marvel vs. Capcom. I thought I wouldn’t be able to be pulled in by 25 minutes of this game, but almost immediately it grabbed me in and wouldn’t let go. Highlights include Hulk breaking out of Ryu’s Raging Demon with a two-jump Gamma Crush that attacks both opponents in mid-air and yet he still is considered the loser.

But the one that truly brightened my day comes from Family Feud for SNES. A game that I actually had as a kid because why not. This one is absolutely amazing because of a major fault in the program. As long as a correct answer exists in your answer, it works. So for instance, if one of the correct answers was “pans” and you answered “Spanish”, you’d be given the points because you have those four letters in the correct order mixed in there (“Spanish”). Someone decided to have some serious fun with this and I haven’t laughed so hard in quite some time.

Hahaha! Look at the Hall family in-between rounds. They are SO PISSED.

More loveliness can be found here.

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Sleeping Dogs: A Hong Kong Movie Homage That Keeps It Real About Race

September 17th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

I’ve been playing Square Enix & United Front’s Sleeping Dogs off and on over the past week. (Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is taking up some time, too, as is Papa & Yo.) It’s the latest game in the True Crime series, sort of. Those games have generally been pretty okay, but not spectacular. This one isn’t spectacular, but I think it might be genuinely good, bordering on great. The story isn’t special — an undercover cop in too deep? with a grudge? and an attitude?! whoa!– and the gameplay isn’t particularly innovative, but the combination of a faithful recreation of the Hong Kong we see in movies and some pretty smart writing elevates it above most other sandbox games. It’s not on Saints Row the Third‘s level, but it’s definitely beating the pants off that last GTA.

Sleeping Dogs juggles a lot of disparate gameplay elements (cars, counter-centric combat, good/evil alignment, two upgrade systems, several types of unlocks, etc) very well, and the pacing is sharp enough to keep you from getting bored. But more than anything, it’s the writing that’s keeping me going. The script is predictable, almost to a fault, but it’s a script that is emulating one of the types of movies that I like best. I mean, I’ve had speedboat chases and a shootout in a hospital with an AI partner. United Front knows their target audience, and it looks like we’re running through all the greatest hits. Which is cool; a nice cocktail of nostalgia and imminent danger.

There was one moment that leapt out at me, and it has nothing to do with John Woo or Johnnie To or Tsui Hark or people getting shot at all, really. It was during the mission Bride to Be, when you’re escorting Peggy Li to go pick out things for her wedding. You play Wei Shen, an undercover cop who has infiltrated Winston’s gang. Peggy’s marrying Winston, and by this point, you’re trusted enough to be alone with her and escort her around town. I was expecting some type of goofy infidelity plot, when they got in the car together and she started talking about dating. Half of it was because one girl I was seeing in-game had just blown up on me about cheating on her (which I hadn’t realized I was doing because Sleeping Dogs loves ambiguous fadeouts) and the other half was that crime movies love plots like that.

But that didn’t happen. She didn’t hit on Wei, and Wei didn’t hit on her. Instead, Peggy and Wei talked about dating, finding a nice girl, the importance of family, and knowing the value of trading your hardness for softness. Peggy shared a story about her mother-in-law, and explains that she learned, despite being a huge grump, her mother-in-law really cares about her. Wei offhandedly mentions his mother’s disappointment in his choice of girlfriends, and how that was a point of contention between them.

Quickie transcript, which is unfortunately devoid of inflection:

Wei: You’re lucky. My mother never liked my girlfriends.
Peggy: I guess it’s hard for the moms.
Wei: Well… I mean, you know I used to have a thing for blondes too, and that drove her crazy. Bad enough if I went out with a Chinese-American girl, but… but a whitey?
Peggy: [laughs] Well, it’s good to know she was loyal to her people.
Wei: No, she’s loyal to her prejudices, more like.
Peggy: That too.

I’m not sure what the term for this is, there might not be a proper word for it, but I dig it every time I come across it. I feel like it’s so rare in entertainment these days. It’s an admission that races and cultures are different, and that that fact affects our lives on a day-to-day basis in a way beyond just “one group oppresses another group.” It’s the type of conversation that you’d actually have in real life, and the kind of conversation you only see in fiction when you have an author who is talented and brave enough to just go in and damn the consequences. It’s prickly and it’s tough, but when done right, it really adds to stories.

I saw a preview screening of End of Watch with a friend a few weeks back. (It was good, and the Q&A after with Michael Peña and Natalie Martinez was especially good.) There was a lot of dialogue in there that explicitly addressed the fact that the two main characters were a white guy (Jake Gyllenhall) and a Mexican dude (Michael Peña). Gyllenhall asks what the heck chonies are and makes jokes about how Peña is always inviting him to quinceañeras. Peña is like, “Yeah, but if you marry one of my cousins, you’ll always have a party to go to! ;)” There were a few more exchanges of a similar vein, too.

We all practice this kind of cultural exchange on a minor scale on a regular basis (“Here’s a song my parents grew up with,” for one, “Here’s a home-cooked meal the way my family taught me” for another), and all too often in movies and games, that’s either played for wholly comedic effect or ignored altogether. Rush Hour, the Jackie Chan/Chris Tucker joint, was actually really good about being both funny and pointed, especially when Don Cheadle showed up.

This concept seems small, but it really isn’t. I dunno, I feel like there’s this tendency to sand down the uncomfortable parts of race in entertainment in favor of everyone always treating everyone else as… I don’t know. Normal. But you lose a lot in that. Normal isn’t interesting. Normal isn’t true. You avoid the terrible physical or emotional violence that makes race one of the dumbest concepts on the planet, but you also lose the beautiful cultural differences that make race one of the most amazing things in the world.

Real people have real conversations about how Wes Anderson makes white people movies and how so-and-so is too bougie to hang with you and whether shark fin soup or chitlins are grosser, or whatever whatever. We regularly talk about how our races affect our lives, and not in a pontificating or divisive sort of way, either. I’m talking about in a normal and most likely unexamined sort of way, a matter of fact sort of way. It’s like how people use the word “ghetto” in normal conversation and never address the subtext. It’s knowing that white music is one thing and black music is another, but not letting that stop you from enjoying either.

There’s a fine line to walk here, since you’re going to inevitably be dealing in stereotypes, but stereotypes aren’t bad in and of themselves. It’s how and why they’re applied. Here, Sleeping Dogs applied a stereotype to Wei’s mother, and more importantly, they didn’t condemn that stereotype. There’s an implicit critique in there, yeah — Wei is our character, we’re supposed to identify with him and assume that he’s right and moral. But not a condemnation. More of a “It is what it is,” I think, and an acknowledgement that that was then and this is now.

I’d like to stop being surprised when this happens in casual entertainment, too. I remember when Fred Van Lente & Mahmud Asrar tackled the unspoken complexities of interracial dating in Shadowland: Power Man. It was such a surprise because cape comics have a history of depicting more interracial relationships than intraracial ones, and any comment on interracial relationships was masked and fictionalized by the fact that one person had blue skin or wings or whatever fake thing they had. But, FVL and Asrar’s story was straight up “Yo, people feel some type of way about dating outside your race,” a subject that could easily get you slapped.

You know who’s really, really good at this? At this sort of honesty? Howard Victor Chaykin. For the most part, everyone in his books actually has a race that is acknowledged in the text. His books are filled with blacks, Jews, Irish, Chinese, Japanese, Germans, and more, and that factors into their personalities, setbacks, and lives. Chaykin loves playing with cultures and culture in his work, whether via someone simply mentioning their background or people getting into arguments over things and it coming up. It adds a lot to his work. More people should be willing to shake things up like that.

Anyway, the car chases and bullet time in Sleeping Dogs are on point, too, so give that a look if you get curious. Personally, I’m rolling through the game while wearing the Mr. Black outfit: black suit, untucked white shirt, dirty tie, black sunglasses, and a hope for a better tomorrow. Portrait of the killer as a young man.

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Lara Croft and the Abused Hero

June 4th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

One thing Frank Miller and I still have in common is that we looooove abused protagonists. Heroes who get shot, stabbed, blown up, families massacred, high school reunion bombed, dog killed, cat kidnapped, and beds short-sheeted are just better than most other heroes. It’s not out of any creepy gorehound fetish or anything. It’s just that a hero who has had all this stuff done to him earns the end of his story. The getback, which is one of my most favorite things in the entire world, will be glorious. “Rot in hell” spat from a mouth full of blood. Willingly getting stabbed in the stomach just so that you can grab the blade (or walk forward!), immobilize your enemy, and then smile when you take his head. That “Like hell!” moment in Superman: Birthright. Look at Elektra Assassin or your higher quality shonen manga. The hero gets knocked down. The hero gets up again. You’re never gonna keep the hero down. “If you intend to die, you can do anything.”

I like Lara Croft, bka Tomb Raider. Yes, the series came out when I was at the perfect age to be vulnerable to her ridiculous carnival breasts and the (fake, until it wasn’t) idea of a “nude code,” but I’ve always liked platformers, and the Tomb Raider has produced a couple good ones over the years. I first became interested in the new Tomb Raider, after years of apathy, when I saw that they’d turned Lara into something like an actual woman, complete with a build and personality and equipment that seemed great for a lot of gritty climbing.

I didn’t associate Lara with abused protagonists before this latest iteration was announced. Platformers haven’t had a lot of those until fairly recently, I think. Mario is pristine, Ryu Hayabusa is a super ninja, and the Prince of Persia games kept things relatively clean. Which is fine, because the fun of platformers is solving puzzles, jumping, and then fighting. But the new art had her a little bloodied and raw. It looked a little more cool than I expected, a little more realistic, and a little more up my alley. This makes me sound like a blood fetishist, doesn’t it? I don’t mean it that way. Here’s the trailer from last year:

It looks pretty okay, right? Even despite the corny scream/lightning thing. (I hate that so much.) A nice reboot, and the idea that “the extraordinary is in what we do, not who we are” falls right in line with the abused protagonist, and hints that, by the end of the game, you’re gonna get to shoot somebody in the face and not feel bad about it.

Here’s this year’s trailer:

Good news: it looks like it has a dope variety of gameplay and some interesting gimmicks (hunting, bullet time maybe, being set on fire while you try to escape a trap, and what I suspect are semi-interactive cutscenes).

Bad news: Lara is abused way, way, way too much.

I like abused heroes, and I don’t really exclude women from that. They’re a little tougher to list, just as a result of society thinking dudes are the only ones that count, and the awkwardness of depicting severe violence against women; but I don’t think, and don’t want, women excluded from this category. But this trailer, as an advertisement intended to make you want to play a game, does way too much in far too little runtime. Lara gets tied up and hung upside down, watches her friend die, watches another friend get kidnapped, gets stabbed with a steel rod, steps on a bear trap, tied up again, beaten up, threatened with rape, and weeps and whimpers her away across the entire trailer until they finally flash to pure gameplay and you actually see the game you wanted to play.

The thing is, all of the gameplay-related stuff looks dope. It looks like they learned a lot from Uncharted and are gonna give us all types of dynamic chase scenes, both people and wreckage inspired. I’m very happy about that, and then traditional platforming sections look pretty ill, too. The one where Lara is climbing frantically toward light puts me in mind of The Descent, and yes I would very much like to experience that through her eyes.

But that’s a lot of misery to pack into a trailer. It makes the entire game seem like a slog, like a clipshow of Lara getting punched in the stomach every time she stands up. That’s not what makes abused heroes fun. The slings and arrows aren’t the focus. They’re just the staircase leading to the focus. The focus is the hero with a smoking gun, a bloody nose, and a limp off into the sunset. Maybe a one-liner. The point is that a little goes a long way, and when you put a lot into a little (like shoving a few different examples of grievous emotional and physical trauma into three minutes) the tone changes. It changes from “Oh man, I can’t believe she survived that! Such will! Amazing!” to “Oh man. This is really, really depressing.”

Spread out over eight to twelve hours, each bit of abuse wouldn’t be a big deal. A brief burst at the beginning to set up the game, then one or two instances every other chapter until the end seems reasonable. That’s just rising action. But it’s too much for a trailer. It’s off-putting. It’s distilled misery, possibly literally.

Equally off-putting is the rape threat. At this point, sleazy rape threats in fiction are about as played out as the black guy dying first or a lady kicking a sexist pig in the junk as a Statement Of Feminism. It’s almost the icing on the cake for the trailer, really. “Even after all that… she still might get raped, gamer!” Sure, rape threats can be used well, but here? It’s just another brick in the wall. Even worse, it’s boring. Banal. It was more exciting when she was hanging upside down looking at some weird devil worshipping stuff.

My interest in Tomb Raider isn’t shattered or anything dramatic like that. I’ll probably still check it out, but I really hope that the trailer isn’t representative of the entire game. There’s gotta be a balance.

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4 Elements: Mega Man

April 26th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

Kids these days with their video games don’t know how good they have it. They have fully-realized stories right off the gate, treated to enough exposition and neat-looking cutscenes to paint a picture of what their game is all about. Guys like me and our Nintendo Entertainment Systems only got two paragraphs in the second page of the instruction manual and an ending. And if you were renting the game? Chances are you had to make a guess at what was going on.

The Mega Man games always had the barest of plots with just enough to make the sequels different in some way to what came before them. It got to the point where it would be, “The villain is this guy Dr. Cossack… oh, wait. It’s just Dr. Wily,” followed by, “The villain is Proto Man… oh, wait. It’s just Dr. Wily,” and so on. Just an excuse to keep giving us more of the same addicting gameplay. The endings were pretty dull until the SNES days with Mega Man X and Mega Man 7. The latter of which had the crazy-ass moment where Mega Man downright threatened to murder Dr. Wily on the spot.

While the later games introduced more story and cutscenes and even alternate futures and realities, the original games remained pretty barren. That is, until they released Mega Man: Powered Up in 2006, a PSP game that recreated the first game with new graphics, included a couple new characters (one of which being pretty racist-looking), gave everything a personality overhaul and allowed you to play through alternate versions of the game where the different boss characters switch places with Mega Man’s role and act as protagonists. While it crapped the bed in terms of sales, the ideas from it would be reused in the current Mega Man series released by Archie with Ian Flynn on words and Ben Bates on art. It’s a great comic and my only wish is that I’d be able to send it back in time to my ten-year-old self.

The series has finished its first year with twelve issues and three story arcs. The first covers the story of Mega Man 1, the second introduces Time Man and Oil Man from Powered Up (they fix the Oil Man controversy by putting a scarf over his mouth) and the third goes through the plot of Mega Man 2. The gist of the origin is that in the future, Dr. Light and his friend Dr. Wily have created a bunch of “Robot Masters” to help perform duties that will help out the human race and make the world a better, safer place. Due to Wily’s checkered past and notoriety in the public eye, Light insists that he stays out of sight for the press conference and the lack of limelight drives Wily over the edge. He rewires the six Robot Masters to do his bidding, has them attack the general public and plans some world domination. The only robots left unaffected are Rock and Roll, two housekeeping robots of Light’s who Wily felt were under his notice. With great reluctance, Rock volunteers to have himself turned into a battle-ready robot so he can bring his brothers back home and prevent Wily’s plot to take over the world.

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Here’s How You Break Your Thumb Playing Tekken 3

April 19th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

I mentioned breaking my thumb playing video games in passing when I was talking about Kids on the Slope, and Ross Campbell rightly called me out on it. I started this post as a comment, but I realized it was probably worth embarrassing myself in front of everyone, because I figure somebody’ll laugh.

Man, this is such a dumb story.

I was sixteen and thought I was the best at Tekken 3. I could beast my friends, my family, whatever whatever. So my uncle took me over to his friend’s house to hang out. Tekken came up, the PlayStation came out, and I got destroyed. Like, manhandled. I don’t even remember who I played, probably Eddy, Jin, or Xiaoyu. Maybe “savaged” is a better term. And when you’re sixteen, getting blown out like that is devastating. I’d have felt better if I’d like… I don’t even know, tripped on a banana pill and fell into a pie in front of the hottest girl in school.

So on the way home, we stopped by the grocery store (I think it was a Food Lion) and I was poking around the books section, super bummed out. I saw the Versus Guides Tekken 3 book, bought it, and spent the next week studying King for hours at a time. I learned all the throw chains (though I had to map the shoulder buttons to pull everything off, a decision that’s messed me up to this day), reversals (I remember being really disappointed that he just had kick reversals), everything. I can still tap out his ten string just from muscle memory. I think I also took a brief detour into Paul and Xiaoyu for variety’s sake. I wanted to get good with King, but I wanted to be competent with others, too. Plus, Xiaoyu looks like poetry in motion. She uses a mezcla of various Chinese martial arts at this point, but she’s always had this nice focus on smooth movements from point A to B.

For a week, that was all I did. Practice, practice, practice. Consulting the book, sitting on my bed, playing PlayStation, and learning. One day during that week, my mom is like “Hey David come eat dinner” so I stand up from my bed, trip over my controller cables (this was pre-wireless!), and fall to the ground, catching myself on my hands. I stand up, dust myself off, go eat, and then get back at it. I make it back to my uncle’s friend’s house, we go at it, and,, it wasn’t as triumphant as it maybe should’ve been. I didn’t get wrecked, but I held my own, which was good enough. Got mad respect points for learning King’s throw chains, too.

(My favorite chain is probably just the standard sidestep->1+3 or 2+4 chain with the Muscle Buster after the Victory Bomb for a finisher, whatever that’s called. I really like the Scorpion Death Lock throw chain, too, and of course pulling off the Rolling Death Cradle is the ultimate.)

But yeah, I showed and proved and was feeling real good. A couple days later, my mom noticed my left thumb and was like, “We’re going to the doctor right now.” Apparently accidentally breaking your thumb while falling off a bed, not realizing, and then ODing on PlayStation makes your thumb super, SUPER swollen. I had a hairline fracture on the long part of my thumb, so I had to wear a wrist brace to keep my thumb immobile for weeks. Basically as I was leaving Georgia and going to Spain.

Still the only bone I’ve ever broken.

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Mystery Science Theater Beatdown: The Greatest Video Game to Never Exist

April 13th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

I love fighting games. I also love Mystery Science Theater 3000. Never have I really considered the idea of mixing the two.

A guy by the name of FutureDami decided that not only should such a thing exist, but he went the extra mile with it by making a gallery of “official” profile art for such a hypothetical video game. Rather than go with the obvious of Mike, Joel, the Bots and the Mads, FutureDami instead goes with the many, many bizarre characters our heroes have been forced to watch over the show’s ten seasons. Behold the world of Mystery Science Theater Beatdown!

Yes, who needs playable Mike and Joel when you have Trumpy, Torgo, the Phantom of Krankor, the Hobgoblins, the Beast of Yucca Flats and Mr. B Natural?

Each character piece also features a profile, including how they would fight had this game existed. Check it out. It’s a great who’s who/love letter.

PUMAMAN (Episode 903)

Professor Tony Farms could have gone his entire life without knowing he was THE PUMAMAN. Yes, he could sense danger. Sure, he could see in the dark. And he was vaguely aware that his hands were steel claws, after a series of broken nail-clippers and inexplicably ruined sofas.

But it was only when Tony was hurled out a window by Aztec priest Vidinio that he truly embraced his inner puma, making him technically some sort of 70s proto furry.

Pumaman is an aerial attacker, using the natural flying abilities of the puma(?) and feline grace to flail around and fall at a 45 degree angle. Most of his attacks involve him losing control of his pitch/yaw, crying and giving up, and simply slamming into his opponent with the force of a discarded dishrag.

PITCH (Episode 521)

Pitch is a part time devil working for Lucifer. After a brief stint lowering the productivity of bread delivery drivers, Pitch settled in to a decent routine of minor harassment. Working odd jobs for eternity in hell has given pitch a wide array or marginally useful skills.

In combat, Pitch is quite versatile, able to switch the position of his asbestos-tipped trident for various styles of fighting. He has three stances:

“Infernal” a fire based magical stance where Pitch uses his sulphurous combustion breath.

“Impenetrable” a guarded stance in which Pitch torments his opponents witch cheap ranged stabs and stuns.

“Ineffable” a forbidden hubris-based style that is inherently too overpowered, complex, and abstract to be adequately communicated.

DROPPO (Episode 321)

Droppo is lazy. I mean seriously lazy. The guy is such a bum, he can waste other people’s time simply from being in the same room. He is probably the laziest man on Mars. If there was a Martian DMV, he would work there. Part time.

He is equipped with pulse-phase anti-gravity boots, and a deadly q-ray pistol, but Droppo can hardly be assed to use them.

What, do you ask, is his advantage in combat? This: You can’t beat a guy who doesn’t give a crap. There is at this date, no known way to defeat Droppo.

NASTINKA (Episode 813)

Knowing his time was nearly at an end, the jovial Jack Frost adbicated his frozen throne and dominion over ice to pert young Nastinka.

She was, after all, the only person ever to recover from the bone chilling effect of his magic scepter. This weapon was susequently reclassified: “Will freeze to death anything it touches save for a few rare exceptions when true love and plot convenience is involved. Use as directed.”

Nastinka does not have a large health pool, and will shatter with a few punches. Good luck ever getting close enough to her, though. She will call down ferocious aoe snowstorms slowing opponents, and will slick the ground wherever she walks for several seconds causing enemies to slip and fall in a comedic manner.

She will smile in a pleasant innocent manner while you are entombed in a bitter cold casket, and wait patiently while all the blood in your veins turns to ice. Do not mess with Nastinka.

ZAP ROWSDOWER (Episode 910)

No description needed. Its ROWSDOWER.

(Drinking arm status: healed)

Awesome. Absolutely awesome.

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Dictator vs. Wrestler: Vega and the Vegan

March 29th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

Wrestlemania 28 is a couple days away and I feel the need to write up something on it. So let’s see… wrestling… wrestling… I could always talk about—no, I did that already. Um… Oh! I can talk about my favorite wrestler, right? Sure! Right now my favorite would probably be current World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan. Second favorite, actually, but I’ve already written at length about Mark Henry, so I’ll go with the American Dragon.

Daniel Bryan’s really come into his own as Smackdown’s top heel. He’s also garnered quite a smark following to his recent heel catchphrase. Whenever he wins, survives a match with the title or even stands in the corner during an AJ victory, he begins to loudly celebrate and scream, “YES! YES! YES! YES!”

It didn’t take long for the internet to put 2 and SF2 together by merging it with a meme about M. Bison during the Street Fighter Saturday morning cartoon from the 90’s. In a scene, Bison reacted a little too happily to seeing Guile get beaten up by a mutant and the show went to commercial on a dramatic cliffhanger of him screaming, “YES! YEEEEESSSS!” Maffew from Botchamania had his own version, but here it is simplified.

That got me thinking. The similarities between M. Bison and D-Bryan go further than that. You just have to dig deeper and see that the villain of Street Fighter and the villain of Smackdown exist more as counterparts than you’d think. For the hell of it, here are some comparisons between the two.

M. Bison was originally named Vega, but when Street Fighter 2 came to America, they had to change him to M. Bison due to legal reasons.

Daniel Bryan was born Bryan Danielson and wrestled under that name until coming to WWE. Then they changed his name so they could hold onto the marketing of his image. According to Pro Wrestling Guerrilla canon, Bryan’s true name is John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, which happened to be the same real name of opponent Kenny Omega.

M. Bison claims that, “This place will become your grave!”

Daniel Bryan got buried for 90% of his WWE tenure.

In Street Fighter x Tekken, M. Bison is accompanied by Juri, a pandering minx of a fighter who should by every reason want to kill him for all the abuse he’s put her through.

Daniel Bryan is accompanied by his GIRLFRIEND AJ, a pandering minx of a wrestler who should by every reason want to kill him for all the abuse he’s put her through.

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The Top 15 Best Fighting Game Storylines: Part 3 (5-1)

March 21st, 2012 Posted by Gavok

Part 1!
Part 2!

Before I finish off the list, I want to point out an honorary mention of sorts. When they came out with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, they changed a lot of the endings. For some, the art was altered to feature different characters. For many, the dialogue was changed and made half as long as in the previous game. Still don’t understand that one. A couple guys from the first game got new endings because the previous ones were pointless. For instance, Ryu’s ending in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 features him facing off against Iron Fist in a Madripoor fighting tournament. Considering Iron Fist is in the upgraded game, there’s nothing special about his surprise reveal. So instead, Ryu’s ending has him discover a new role in the world.

Huge smile on my face when I saw that. Coincidentally, Iron Fist’s ending involves him starting up a new Heroes for Hire with Luke Cage, Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, Ryu, Chun-Li and Rival Schools’ Batsu. I’d easily pay the $3.99 every month for that comic.

5) Jinpache’s Emotional Deaths

Jinpachi Mishima was a good man who opposed his evil son Heihachi, but due to some convoluted storytelling, he became imprisoned underground for decades, infected by a gene that’s driving him to destroy everything. He becomes released during the conclusion of Tekken 4 and sets up the tournament for Tekken 5. Part of Jinpachi wants to get all the great fighters out of the way so he can lay waste to the planet. Part of him wants someone to stop him before he goes too far.

The elderly Wang Jinrei has been in the Tekken cast since the beginning, but he’s also been boring as hell while adding nothing of interest. One thing established is that he and Jinpachi were good friends back in the day and that’s one of the reasons Wang is out to stop Heihachi. Throughout the fifth tournament, he gets this strong feeling that something unbearably terrible will happen at the end. When he faces Jinpachi, seeing him in his demonic form, he outright refuses to fight his best friend. Jinpachi begs him, saying that his human consciousness is weakening by the moment and he needs to die soon or else. Wishing there was another way, Wang reluctantly goes to town.

What follows is one of the saddest video game moments, thanks to some fine voice acting (even though one guy is speaking Chinese and the other Japanese) and captivatingly realistic CGI work. Jinpachi lay on the ground, back in his human form. Wang tries to comfort him, saying he shouldn’t have to apologize for what he’s done. Weakly, Jinpachi wishes that they could have one last drink, but then he dies and instantly melts into sand.

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