Oh Boy, It’s-a Mega Man!

anniversary

Happy New Year!  Blah, blah – I’ll write the blog more often this year, words, words, words – on to today’s post!

A little while back I wrote a post detailing my intense love of video game music.  In that post I led off the whole topic with a track from the original Mega Man.

Mega Man dominated my video gaming youth, so much so that not only was the music wildly influential but my first game design project was to convert the Mega Man X universe to a pen and paper RPG.  One of my favorite reviews of the franchise was done by youtube vlogger Ego Raptor.  I encourage you to click this link and see how impassioned he is about Mega Man – and he is dead on accurate.

Straight up BALLER

Basically I love me the Blue Bomber.

So you can imagine how I felt when I discovered the official Capcom-Unity website.  There is a lot of Mega Man centric content there and A LOT of Capcom employees that are Mega Man classic enthusiasts.  While checking out the site I discovered a couple interesting things like this BALL-ROCKING video for example:

MOTHER-OF-GOD…

But that is child’s play…because staring right at me on the front page is their most recent project, and words…can’t…mrphhh…just watch:

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That’s right, The Blue Bomber vs. the World Warriors!  The game is designed in the Mega Man 4 style which as you should well know was the pinnacle of the NES releases for three reasons:

1. Straightforward run and gun down the 8 bosses style from the first three games
2. Chargeable Buster Cannon
3. Slide, BITCHES!!

LIKE A BOSS

LIKE A BOSS

Not only is this concept TOTALLY FUCKING AWESOME but – HOLY SHIT, IS IT WELL DESIGNED!!  Follow this link to see their release video.  The game is just re-goddamned-ridiculously well made.  And the best part: IT’S FREE!!!

mind blown

Download it and share in it’s awesomitude. I’ll be playing it for next few days, bringing in the new year right!

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More Music Skills Being Used For Awesome!

Those of you who know me know that I am a HUGE college football fan (GO GATORS!!!). So you can imagine how I felt when I saw that an actual quality marching band decided to take on the “tribute to video games” half time set.  THE Ohio State University’s Marching band to be specific:

Seen here performing their famous “Dotting of the I” before each home game is played.

Normally I can’t stand how insufferable Ohio State is, from their fan base to their new scumbag football coach (How’re the heart problems, Urban?) to the ridiculous way they insist on emphasizing the THE in their name…

Seriously Ohio State, THIS is your mascot so the time for you to be shutting up is always.

However their marching band is quite talented.  They perform and march with precision and what better way to demonstrate their talent then with a half time tribute to video games?  I submit to you there is none.  My personal favorite moment is around the 6:00 mark…no spoilers you’ll know it when you see it:

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Dragon*Con 2012 – COSPLAY!!

Dragon*Con!  I’ve been looking for an excuse to start penning this blog again and why not the annual geeky shot of adrenaline that is Dragon*Con weekend?  This has been my fourth Dragon*Con, and the fifth for my crew as a whole (I missed the second one due to my move to Boston in 2009).  Every year we get together in Atlanta and celebrate our combined love of all things geeky with our love of partying, and much like all the other years this Dragon*Con did not disappoint:  There was excellent art, a veritable cavalcade of partying, well executed cosplaying among our crew, tense gaming and of course hours and hours of people watching.

It’s gotten pretty big over the years

This year was a particularly busy year for us on account of the upcoming marriage of our pal Cory:

Pictured here cosplaying as the con’s best Doctor Horrible

The partying side of our Dragon*Con experience ramped up to celebrate the good news, made that much easier by our four room block in the Hyatt Regency.  This was Cory’s first year deciding to cosplay and by his own admission the experience was so rewarding that he plans “never to not cosplay again.”

That got me to thinking, one of the things I enjoy most about D*C weekend is people watching the various cosplay, of which I have a few favorite types:

Cosplay that is just obscure enough: This is cosplay that is obscure but not so obscure that I don’t recognize it.  This level of cosplay usually gets the best reaction from me as it feels like the wearer and I share a common wavelength on what is clearly an awesome idea.

This year the category was won by this pair as Dipper and Mabel from Gravity Falls…If you haven’t heard of Gravity Falls, GO WATCH GRAVITY FALLS RIGHT NOW!

Cosplay that breaks the 4th wall/pokes fun at itself: This cosplay always makes me laugh and feel smarter knowing that I got the joke the wearer was going for.

Guy in a wheelchair as a Skyrim guard who took an arrow to the knee? BWAA HAA HAA, PRICELESS!!

Well executed cross-gendering cosplay: Not gonna lie, this entry is mostly reserved for the ‘hot girl dressing as Link or Chewbacca, etc.’ but I have seen plenty of gender bending cosplay in the other direction that elicits solid ironic appreciation.

These girls from Venture Brothers were incredible! While Mrs. Impossible there looked basically exactly like the character, Sergeant Hatred cross-gendered the hell out of her cosplay!

And naturally, just plain old good cosplay: These are usually highly intricate/ extremely detailed cosplay.  They are the most often the cosplayers who play to their strengths (i.e. making good use of their body type/hair color/skin color, etc. to pull off an excellent cosplay)…Mrs. Impossible above certainly qualified in this category as well.

This Link (pictured with our own category 4 Dr. Horrible) actually made the mirror shield and donned the blue mail from LTTP. I’ve seen a lot of Links but that was the first mirror shield and it was amazing.

Along with Dr. Horrible up there our group had some other really good cosplaying going on this year:

Danielle as Chell with the custom portal gun her husband Bart made…she looked fantastic and has been featured in photo shoots in two different cons so far!

Alex & Craig as Mav and Goose. “That’s right Ice…Man, I AM dangerous!”

Ryan, Meredith, Danielle & Bart. These four troopers filled out our zombie contribution for the con. The makeup was done for the first time by Meredith and turned out fantastic!

Ryan’s getup was as “The last survivor” and it was pretty damn intelligent in its accessorizing.

All in all some pretty damn good cosplay from our group and as our D*C experience continues to ever evolve I have decided that next year another contestant will enter the brawl.  As of now, the quest for the best possible cosplay choice is underway…

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I’m Back!

Well the time has come again to try my hand at keeping up with a weekly blog.  Life for me has been really busy the last year and as a result I found it more and more challenging to keep this guy running.  But all that is ancient history, I updated the URL, added a custom logo and all around PIMPED THIS S&%T OUT!

Pictured: me pimping S&%T out.

But enough about my inability to follow through with projects.  Today’s post is about a project that I was so excited to share that it inspired me to start writing again…  Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary.

That link leads to the Kickstarter page (of which I am an official contributor).  The project is to fund the crew making a documentary about the iconic game in time for it’s 40th anniversary celebration.  40th!  40 GD years!  That means the game has been enjoyed by all sorts of people since (um, let’s see, carry the one…) 1972!  I myself have enjoyed the game since 1991, and the influence the game has wrought on me carries well into my overtly nerdy adult life.  As a matter of fact every year my oldest friends and I get together at a pseudo-gaming convention in Atlanta named Dragon*Con based largely on our shared experiences gaming around the D&D table when we first met.

Posts on this year’s experience to follow soon

Anyway, check out the page and the video diary and as a huge fan of documentaries about things that interest me, I encourage you to lend a hand. ;)

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Life In Boston

Hasn’t taken me long to be in this state of mind each winter:

Haters gonna hate.

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How Much I Love Video Game Music – Part 2

Welcome back!  When we left off I had just discovered the return of Megaman music, and the SNES delivered again:

THE BLUE BOMBER IS BACK!

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Knowing what I had come to expect from Megaman titles I was not surprised when Megaman X hit the shelves and I prepared for the musical storm of awesome that was to follow.  The stages were good, but Storm Eagle was far and away the best cut.  All in all I thought the presentation was fair but not up to the classic Megaman standards:

This is pretty much the most iconic villain in all Megaman lore, and his stage music was fantastic.

Just when I thought the return of Megaman music was overall a tad underwhelming I made it to the first stage of the end boss, Sigma.  Just listen to how ominous this theme starts out:

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In the first SECONDS of this theme the gravity of where I was in the game and the importance of my goal to defeat Sigma was dropped on me like a fucking anvil.  Never before had video game music driven home what to expect so effectively… Here I was in the final stages of the game and the training wheels were off, I instantly knew I better bring my A-game if I wanted to make it to the end.

And boy were they ever, this guy was near impossible to defeat.

By the time I finished Megaman X I found the music was fair but overall un-memorable.  I had about decided that video game music was taking a back seat to the rise in graphics.  And then this happened:

The greatest story ever told with a controller.

A while back I wrote a small post about the influence this game had on me as a kid.  The music though, oh God the music!

Just let it wash over you.

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And it didn’t stop there.  EVERY SINGLE TRACK in this game is fantastic and highly memorable, from the Overworld Music to the Battle Music, to the Flight of Baron’s Red Wings, right down to the Final Boss Music.  Just listen to that overworld music, to this day I am still incredibly emotionally affected by how peaceful it is.

I would leave the screen on and let the music repeat endlessly in the background while I did other stuff.

I was left in a video game music daze, each and every track carried so much depth to it, and effectively drove the story (which btw was epic enough on its own), keeping me glued to the screen for hours and hours wanting to see and especially hear more.  I was certain no music would ever engage me as much as the music from FF2, and while it remains my favorite game of all time…boy was I wrong:

WHA?! OH-MY-GO—THI…THIS IS AMAZING!

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Chrono Trigger is the last entry in this list and it is the gold standard of video game music.  Much like Final Fantasy IV, every – single – track is pure unbridled win.  Frog’s theme is by far the most epic theme ever and when he cuts open the Magic Cave with it in the background I found myself timing the dialog so that the spikes in the theme would coincide with the action on screen.

Greatest moment in any video game ever made…ever.

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It doesn’t end there, every track is breathtaking: From the A.D. 600 Overworld Theme, to the Downfall Theme, to the enchantment that is the Kingdom of Zeal, to Schala’s Theme, to the eerie Black Omen Theme, and on and on.  Every track was incredible, if you need more proof, watch the original intro to the game with what would eventually be Chorno’s Theme playing over it…I DARE you to not get excited while listening:

Still gives me chills.

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And to top it all off, for the first time that I could notice a game factored the roll music plays in telling the story.  Remember how I mentioned above that I would time dialog to make the action sync up with the climax points of the music?  Chrono Trigger actually does this itself when you finally face the evil sorcerer Magus.  Skip ahead to 00:37 to see what I’m talking about:

I noticed this the first time I played and felt like a kid at Christmas.

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Notice how he moves as the music changes and delivers his epic challenge to you right as the music starts to get going.  The dialog from the 00:40 mark on is timed so that Magus seems as cool as fucking possible when the battle begins…and mother-of-God, did it ever work.

Seriously, I love this game so much.

So there you have it.  Music is so monumentally important to pacing, action, storytelling and excitement.  Video games in the NES and SNES days were aimed at children, and now because of that there are a lot of 90’s kids turned adults who find these 8 and 16 bit tracks of the past not only compelling and exciting but also…simply put: good music.

With that I leave you with a fantastic rock compilation of some of the best music from undoubtedly the best game ever made as done by the very awesome group Powerglove:

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How Much I Love Video Game Music – Part 1

Hello dear readers, the other day I watched a video of a band playing the entire soundtrack of a classic video game and it got me to thinking about how much video game music has affected me over the years.  Settle in and enjoy my two part recounting of the best video game music ever and the influence it had upon me.

Ok, so if you are anything like me video games pretty much defined your youth.  I remember when the Nintendo Entertainment System debuted…it was like looking into the future.  All of a sudden games went from this:

ET on the Atari 2600, pretty much the worst game ever made.

To THIS:

Holy crap!  Dracula’s about to have a very uninvited guest!

I mean LOOK AT IT!  The NES was a breakthrough and I remember when I got one that was it, life had changed.  I would hound my mom to go to Blockbuster (remember that place, kids?) to rent game after game after game.  I played so many games: Super Mario Bros. 1, 2 and 3, Duck Hunt, Final Fantasy, Castlevania 1 and 2, Marble Madness (the original insane mode game), Contra, Duck Tales, Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers (Dinsey came out the gate guns blazing with these two titles, both were epic and excellent), Ice Hockey, Tecmo Bowl, and on, and on, and on.  But it wasn’t until I took the role of a little blue robot out to stop an evil scientist that something else about the video games started to stand out for me: the music.

Megaman? MEGA?! Oh I am SO in!

This game changed everything for me, not only was it a marvelously well designed platformer but the music just kept me energized to play:  The first time I played Megaman I opted to start in Cutsman stage, feast your ears on the first bit of Megaman stage music to hit me directly in the face:

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BAM!  It opens right out with a POP, and then you are off and running battling your way through the stage to face the evil robot master at the end.  I was in love, this music had energy and it effectively immersed me in Megaman’s struggle.  Music when done properly in any form of media can really make or break the gravity of the experience.  For example, do you remember this scene from Empire Strikes Back?  Really focus on the music this time:

The magnificent content of this scene has since been ruined by Midi-Chlorians anyway, but we can still enjoy the music so suck on that George!

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Now click this link, close your eyes and imagine that scene with that as the background music

If this is how you feel after I combined those two things, I understand and deserve your wrath.

Music matters and this is no different in video games.  When Megaman 2 hit the shelves I was all sorts of excited to see what kind of new robot bosses and especially what new music would accompany it.  What I got was un-real; to this day it remains some of my favorite video game music ever made.  There are so many good tracks to choose from, nearly all of them really.  For my money the top three are WoodmanMetalman and Heatman’s stages.

As a kid I was done.  The end, no video game will ever be as epic, will ever effect me as deeply as the music in Megaman 2.  Megaman 3 came along and had some great tracks, most notably the Snakeman and Hardman stage.  But by Megaman 4 the love affair with the music had come to an end.  The time had come to turn to the new guy in town: The Super Nintendo…and Ho-Ly Shit did it come to play:

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Street Fighter 2 changed console gaming, for the first time a HUGELY popular arcade game was available in its full quality at HOME.  Arcades are all but dead today, but back in the early 90’s…THIS WAS AWESOME!  And the music, THE MUSIC!  It was epic, the fights were challenging and the music kept you energized the whole time.  I remember we would all fight over our favorite stage music so much that eventually it became part of the victory package; you win the match you get to pick the stage music for the next one:

Boy did we hear this one A LOT.

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The SNES didn’t stop there; after SFII wore off Megaman came back and in a big way… – CONTINUED in PART 2.

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SNES Time!

Oh yeah.  I just got my SNES working again after I had to order cables for it (my former cables must exist in the dimension that eats dropped pens…)

Because of this joyous news there is no post today.  Why?  You are looking at the reason (above).  That is one of the best SNES games I ever played, made by a little company called Silcone & Synapse, who would later change their name to Blizzard inc. (maybe you’ve heard of them):

just the creaters of Warcraft, no big deal. Ahem...FOR THE HORDE!!!

Anyway, the time has come to lose myself in its puzzle solvy goodness . :)

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The Thing!

In 1982 John Carpenter brought us the Lovecraftian story of fear and isolation: The Thing.  It was a story that followed a group of Americans stationed in Antarctica and their unfortunate run in with a terrifying beast from beyond the stars.  Recently a new version came out in theaters and by all accounts it looked to be a remake, and you know what that usually means:

rediculous jive-talking racist-bot, anyone?

I am happy to report that it was not a remake, it was something far better:  a prequel.  Those of you who have seen the original will remember the opening sequence in which a helicopter chases a dog through the snow while shooting at it.  The copter chases the dog to the American’s camp where the shooter and pilot yell at the Americans in Norwegian as they keep trying to kill the dog.  No one understands them and after the shooter hits one of the Americans while trying to shoot the dog they end up getting killed in self defense.  Eventually it is discovered that the dog is The Thing, which in turn is an alien being able to perfectly copy its prey.  The movie becomes a spine chilling tale of fear and distrust as it is established that some of the people are Things yet no one can tell who…

I'd say the fear is setting in about now...

The prequel follows the original finding of The Thing by the Norwegian camp.  The movie is set in 1982 and does its best to recreate the feel of the original and for the most part it works.  Costuming and props and sets look good, and because of that the improved picture quality can be overlooked.  The sound and music is also well done, not as good as the original but then again this one isn’t a John Carpenter joint.  It’s not all roses though, for in keeping with new horror movie fashion there are many good suspense filled moments but with them came a lot of — BAM!  LOUD NOISES TO SCARE YOU!

like this piece of garbage

I thought the acting was very good, when the shit started to hit the fan I really felt the fear and disbelief of those poor Norwegians.  Additionally the pacing was good and they even (SPOILER ALERT) kept it original with their impromptu “who’s a thing” test.  If I had to pick one thing about the movie that falls short you damn well know what it’s going to be…special effects.  The original was filmed in 1982 when CGI was virtually unheard of and the medium of the day was plaster and puppetry, both of which could be used very effectively by skilled FX artists.

but who needs puppertry when you can replace its realism with shitty CGI?

Personally I’ve always been a fan of puppetry in horror movies.  When used effectively puppetry can bring a very unearthly yet tangibly real look to something like The Thing.  Every shot of that terrifying creature from the original movie was just down right scary:

holy. shit.

CGI on the other hand treads a very fine line between believably real and fake as hell.  If used improperly or cheaply it can take away all of the realism of the shot:

you can't tell from this awful CGI, but the movie this picture is from is REALLY GOOD

The CGI used after the first shot of the Thing was progressively better and for the most part the CGI was good.  The shots that were not good WILL NOT hold up well over time, unlike the puppetry from 1982 that still looks creepy as hell today.

That being said the movie was really good.  Maybe I was really happy that it wasn’t a remake and overly excited at all the call backs to the original, but I really do think that even as a standalone movie it’s well made, adequately scary and quite enjoyable.

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The Reason Why Children Have Stuffed Animals

Who as a kid wasn’t afraid of the dark?  Hell some people still are:

and for good reason...wow.

Anyway I had a stuffed animal for the early years of my life (pictured above).  I named him Grey Dog and he went EVERYWHERE with me.  I never thought much about it until I came across this picture explaining what he was doing when the shadowlurker up there came around:

That’s right, Grey Dog (like every other children’s stuffed animal) defended me from those things in the night that I believed lived under the bed/in the closet.  And even if he didn’t actually come to life wielding a sword and shield in my defense, what was important is that he provided me comfort from my fears of the unknown.

I guess what I’m saying is that things that seem simple become so much more interesting when dressed up by a little imagination.  I was afraid of what might have been lurking when the lights went out, but I trusted that the little guy I clutched tightly on my way to sleep was in it with me and if a fight for my life with the things of darkness ever happened…he’d be there.

Now much later in life I still use that irrational imagination to help me conjure excitement and theatrics around the gaming table, and I owe the growth of that imagination to that little guy and my belief he was protecting me from the darkness all those years ago.

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