Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Midweek Music Box: Mortal Kombat the Movie Theme Song

It has begun! Yes, a brand new Midweek Music Box has arrived here on your virtual doorstep. Okay, so most game movies are somewhere between terrible or terrifically (and unintendedly) funny. They're either unbridled cheese-fests that are laughably bad, or so disconnected from the source material (lookin' at you Super Mario Bros Movie) that aside from a few perfunctory nods to game, that you would never know the movie was based on a game---

Except for, I would argue, the first Mortal Kombat movie. No, it does not have a hard "R" rating like you would expect the movie to have if it were true to the source material. However, let's keep in mind that the game itself was largely played by teenage boys, so a hard R would have any money making potential of the film.  I love the film for two reasons. First, it keeps to the basics within a PG -13 setting. The plot is thin and the characters two-dimensional, but really, do we need the exciting back story of each person? No! Just a quick intro for the key players, off to the island, and let's start some fights to the death to save humanity! Who needs plot when a kick to the face will do? Oh, and the other reason the movie is awesome? The intro music!  So let's talk real quick about music from the intro of the film:

Mortal Kombat (Techno-Syndrome 7"):

"Mortal Kombat Movie Intro"

Okay, so most of us (or rather, those of us familiar with the movie) have this intro burned into our minds like Scorpion finishes off his enemies. It plays for less than a minute, but is as iconic as this moment:

Image result for it has begun mortal kombat

However, it'd be a disservice to The Immortals, the German techno band responsible for the music, to not only not mention them by name, but to not link to the full cut of the song so here's that:

Great, ain't it? Not sure whether this or Daft Punk came first for me when I was introduced to electronic/techno music, but it was definitely one of the "gateway" songs. Its driving beat felt like an actual composed piece of music rather than empty droning. That synthesized gong hit at the beginning, leading into an electronic keyboard intro had me hooked--but then somebody screams "Mortal Kombat" and you know the song has entered into awesomeness. It has all the right elements going for it, and that's just the intro. It not only gets you into the movie, but it gets you amped to play the game. I like the game sampled audio of the characters' names being announced as it doesn't get in the way of the rhythm in the jarring way many electronic/techno songs can go. Don't care if it sounds weird to say it, but it actually sounds like a musical composition, not just "techno music."

I hope that this doesn't come across sounding like a slam, because I love techno...when it's done right. So much techno was flying about at the time of the movie. It was the hot new thing and raves were starting to happen and...well, much of the music that was meant to get your glow-stick groove on was only functional, not listenable. Maybe I sound like a snob here, but I wonder if half the techno tunes listened to back in the early to mid-90s get a listen to today and how many albums are now floating around various garages and thrift stores across the world.

Always on the hunt for retro games, I, like everyone else, do a quick search in the CD section in case a random Dreamcast or PlayStation game should happen to show up. (Sometimes I even pick up an album or two that's fallen out of popularity). Among the countless country western and Christmas CDs I don't recall once coming across the soundtrack for the movie, and I would be willing to bet that most people held on to it just for this song alone. Not all of the songs from the movie soundtrack or The Immortals inspired album hold up as well as they did in the day (and perhaps I'll cover the tribute album in full in the future). Speaking for myself though, I'll happily pop in the original movie soundtrack just to give the title track a listen because it takes me back not just to the movies, but to a time when Mortal Kombat was an arcade staple and both the game, and this song, was a must play.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Midweek Music Box: Donkey Kong Country Music

Image result for donkey kong country

Truthfully, I never have liked apes, monkeys, chimps and the like. I find them gross. Also truthfully, I'm not much into funk unless it's done right. Well, the tunes in Donkey Kong Country have just the right amount of funkiness to them that I can wash away thoughts of monkeys and just jam along to the tunes.

Intro Music:

I'd be remiss if I didn't just use the intro itself to showcase this particular track. It goes from what could be just a simple, upbeat tune--into the funky, radio blasting music. It's funny, it tries to be hip, and still has a decent basic beat that can be appreciated even today.

Jungle Hijinks:

Originally this track was actually composed as three separate tunes, but the composer (or so rumor has it) was told to just make it all into one. Well, I think it works as a continuous beat. It goes from jungle drum sounds and flows into a higher tempo as it goes along. I think this not only works for the game but just basic listening goodness. There's something about the mysterious nature of the jungle drums underneath the later half that just helps me get into a groove when I'm working on something (like writing).

Aquatic Ambience:

I hate this track. I'm allowed to say that right? It's not the tracks fault, I just don't care for music like this in a video game or even for listening to in my non-gaming time. I mean, it just feels dull to me. It makes the action on screen feel dull. I could be swarmed by zombies all about to take a massive chunk out of my neck and I'd probably be too far into a boredom coma to care. I don't get why the normally funky, upbeat music in the game takes this sudden turn where I'm reminded of New Age synthesizer music. Can't there be conga drums under water? I mean seriously!  Anywho. I just don't like this music and it makes me want to rush through the stage and never play it again, who cares about the bananas! Just get me away from that boring music before I....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Well, there you have it. Something a little different this week for Midweek Music Box, me highlighting a track that I hated. I may do this again with future articles because I think there are even some in my most beloved of series. Yes, maybe it's time to highlight some of the lesser tracks and say just why they are so bad/unlistenable outside of the game.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Midweek Music Box: The Battle of Olympus (NES)

Image result for battle of olympus nes

Beware the Ides of March! Or rather, games that are really fun but may-or-may-not be similar to a second installment of a beloved series. No, I'm not here to talk about the similarities/out-and-out clone-type nature of The Battle of Olympus and Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link. I will probably do so when I cover The Battle of Olympus for a Friday Night Rentals. For now, lets talk a little bit about the music from the game.

"Title Theme"

For a little bit, I did consider covering the music for God of War, but I honestly have little experience with the game and even if I did, I am more in the mood for something slightly more old school. And nothing quite says old school gaming music to me like the sounds made by those guys and gals over at Broderbund. (Not pronounced Broaderbound, as I used to do when I was a kid.) Anywho lets get into things by looking a few tunes:

World Map Music:

"World Map"
I like the way they tried to do trumpets and a sort-of army march drum beat in this one. It not only suits the game well, but I think it reflects the music choices made at the time. It seemed like classic films from the golden age of Hollywood had the notion that all things Greek or Roman should have continual trumpet flare and drums in order to impress upon you the...well, impressiveness and grand scale of what you were seeing. There was a certain spectacle nature to films, and I think that it is reflected in game music, in particular with this track. It suits the game well for while you are exploring and adds a subtle layer of classic feeling without being overbearing.

Temple of the Gods:

Something about this music feels more suited to a game about the Phantom of the Opera. Perhaps it's the big, dramatic pipe organ that intros the music. It drives the whole selection and makes the game feel more epic, but in a way that doesn't quite suit the game. I mean, it's great and all, but tonally doesn't seem to work. I get that's a classical piece, but it doesn't feel like the right classical piece as most audiences who recognize it will instantly think of the silent film version of Phantom of the Opera. It's odd to have music in a game that sounds well done, but jars you out of the game just as much as if it were bad.

Boss Battle:

Now this music is more like it. The low snare drum constantly in the background, the drumming, thrumming sounds. A few bleeps and bloops here and there to add atmosphere and setting and you are there for a boss battle. I love it when the old NES games make battle either sound epic or intimidating and I think this does a great job on the latter.

There's so much more I want to cover with this game, but most of it false under the purview of my Friday Night Rentals blog. SO...I guess that offers a big hint as to what a future one might be about. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday Night Rental: Deadly Towers

Image result for deadly towers

Perhaps Atari Hard would be a better term for the game than Nintendo Hard. After all, Broderbund produced a number of games that I recall enjoying on the Atari 800 my folks had. Not only that, but the graphics, sounds, and overall movements of the main character remind me more of a later Atari game than a Nintendo game--even a harder one. Was it worth renting back when I was a kid, or did Broderbund leave me feeling like I wasted not only one, but at least two or three weekend rentals on this thing?


You are Prince Myer, on the eve of your coronation ceremony a mysterious shadow with a name that will make you scream like Shatner (Khan) informs you that Rubas, the "Devil of Darkness" has designs to conquer your kingdom. What can you do to stop this threat? Ascend the Seven Deadly Towers, capture the mystical bells held by their masters, and vanquish the evil Rubas. To call the game an action puzzle game doesn't do justice the literal hundreds of screens you will need to navigate through in order to find your way to the top of the towers. Navigating these mazes can get especially difficult and frustrating as many of the screens are similar in layout, enemies respawn as soon as you leave a room/screen, and color differentiation just doesn't happen. The dull colors and unimaginative enemies are also a problem as killing them gets tedious within minutes of play. Also problematic with the game is the fact that you have to make the choice between chopping your way through enemies and collecting health and coins, or "ludder" as Deadly Towers calls it, or make an attempt to avoid them all together in order to advance as fast as you can. If you spend forever killing enemies (and it will take forever because your knife, unless right on the enemy, the game will not let you re-throw it until it has reached the other side of the screen.) You can lose all the health and money you just gained only to start back at the bottom of the tower.

Graphics and Style:

I can sum up both the graphics and style of game very simply: This feels like an Atari game from top to bottom. Not that I didn't love and still love Atari games. It just so reminds me of an Atari game that I can't help but feel I would be more forgiving of the repetitive colors and bland, flat graphics. James Rolfe of Angry Video Game Nerd fame hit it on the head in his review when he points out that fighting slinkys and the usual assortment of bats is just old, even at this point. I know that they were going for an isometric-ish view, but really nothing pops, nothing looks 3-D in the slightest. The poorness of it makes it feel even flatter if such a thing were possible. It sometimes looks like paper pieces moving across a cut out scene like for paper dollhouse.

Music and Sound:

The sound is passable, which I think is a perfect summation of much of the game. The plinks and plunks again really remind me of something I would find on the Atari and all but the earliest Nintendo games--which this is. So I guess it's earliness shows? But maybe that's no excuse, because the sound design in the original Legend of Zelda was awesome! But I digress...let's talk about the music.

While sufficient, the music for the soundtrack to Deadly Towers never gets memorable. The loops get old, the tunes are forgettable, and border on annoying. Truthfully, I never heard much beyond the title screen music and the first castle floor music when I was a kid. While YouTube now allows me the luxury of finding other soundtracks from the game, none of them are something I would plan on listening to again outside of this review. Take a listen and see what you think:

Memories and New Thoughts:

When I played this game as a kid I just took it for granted that some NES games were super hard, and others were super easy. Both styles can get dull rather quickly, and I think playing the game now as an adult I feel like dull pretty much encapsulates the whole experience. I mean, I don't think that it's quite as terrible as some other games out there. For the most part the controls function, bad guys take dozens of stabs--but at least they die, and if you can work your way through it all, Deadly Towers does have an ending that satisfyingly wraps up the game's story. The problem though remains now the same for me as when I was a kid. I just am not satisfied when I am playing the game. I'll call the feeling I get from the game "chopping wood syndrome." Meaning I feel like playing through the game is tedious work that feels like it "needs" getting done. If I don't chop the wood, it won't get done. If I don't plow down all these bad guys, it's not going to get done. I get that there's this epic quest where you've got to stop a great evil from conquering your kingdom and all that stuff, but every slime ball, every bat, and every monster just may as well be blocks of wood. While the controls seem workable and it's fair in that you can kill enemies if you are patient it the end, I think this kingdom is going to fall because I'm ready to leave it and never come back.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Midweek Music Box: Intro to Awesome Metroid Prime Trilogy

Were you ever uncertain about a game but the moment you popped it in the music sent tingles up your spine and you knew you were in for an awesome time based on that intro music? It doesn't have to necessarily have a bombastic feel or an epic quality--thought that certainly helps--what it does do though is it makes you not only ready to play, but it immerses you in a way that should shout to the world, "I'm no longer here, I've entered the game." I love intro music, I've talked about it before with many of these Midweek Music boxes. Well, rather than just doing one, I wanted to do three because I love me some intro music and I love the way these games get me in to the game. Let's take a quick look at some intro tunes that help pull you into the world the game creates.

Metroid Prime Trilogy:

Having Metroid kick this off should be a shock as not only did it act as the title card for this review, but I've talked about how awesome Metroid music is on Three Separate Occasions. Kenji Yamamoto rules and it's about high time you learned that! From the intense, low drums, to the ethereal chants; the music from the Metroid Prime series ranks up there for me (and it should for you too) as some of the best game music--no I take that back--best music period. Yamamoto does it again with the intro music for the Metroid Prime Trilogy intro. Every time I hear it I get tingles up my spine and wish I had a week, no I take that back, a MONTH to set aside to beat every one of the Metroid Prime games as the single continuous story it represents.

Kingdom Hearts (original PS2 version):

I know there are in the neighborhood of 20 to 30 variations of each individual Kingdom Hearts game. I could be lowballing that number though. Well, until we finally get a proper "3" in the title, it seems gamers are forever doomed to endless HD remakes and version 1.2 , 1.3, 1.FOREVER!  In any case, I really was surprised how much I fell in love with the game as a whole. Even now, 15 years later, the concept of Mickey and his pals fighting alongside and against Final Fantasy characters seems absurd. Yet it worked then and works now. I wouldn't be willing to put up with the craziness that is now on a 2.8 Final Prologue if I hadn't gotten sucked in years ago by Yoko Shimomura's score. The music that plays over the intro has such a Disney feel with it's big brass instruments and grand orchestra feel, it's hard not to smile at its charm. You couldn't ask for a more warm, and some how epic introduction. Now, can we can past introductions and prologues and point-ohs and just get a proper sequel please?

Super Mario World:

Cute, charming, simple, and it makes use of the Super Nintendo's musical capabilities in a way that lets you know just what you are in for. I know it may seem like a stretch to think that the intro music for Super Mario World could in any way "pull you into its world," but I was a kid at the time of this game's release, and to me this was a true wonder. From simple chiptunes to...well, better chiptunes. Like I said, I was a kid the time this came out. However, this game was not just my first game on the Super Nintendo, but it made me realize just how much greater the sound was going to get in the future. I didn't love the NES' music any less; just, I realized that this newest Mario game was really going to sweep me away. It was built on pure awesome. As soon as the opening animation was over, I was ready to enter this world of Mario's. It wasn't just me goofing around with a new system and game. There was Bowser to defeat, a kingdom to restore, and Princess Peach to rescue. It wasn't just a fun game, it was a tale to be told, and fun one at that, thanks to the intro music by Koji Kondo.

Like I said at the start. It doesn't always have to be epic, just awesome.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Night Rentals: Ghosts'N Goblins


Hard games can sometimes act as the gateway for our memories. We look back and say things like "Nintendo Hard," when it comes to certain cartridges of the Nintendo Entertainment System's heyday.  Ghost'N Goblins by Capcom easily enters that pantheon of retro gaming with the "Nintendo Hard" label with its difficult jumps where there was no turning back, relentless enemies that literally spawned on top of you, and one-touch deaths all set against a back drop of sometimes pant-less knight on a quest fighting the forces of darkness. When playing this game as a kid, I readily remember not just the frustration of barley making it to level two, but being absolutely convinced that the game was cheating somehow. (This was in the time before we knew games like Super Mario Kart really were cheating, but I digress). So, was it just as frustrating to play as an adult as it was a kid?


You are King Arthur, and one day while courting the princess Prin Prin none other than Satan himself comes along and kidnaps the object of your affection. And so begins your quest to, what else, rescue the princess. While the scenario seems familiar, the added bonus of fighting the father of all lies is a nice twist on the genre. You battle your way through zombies, ghosts, demons, and an assortment of big boss fights on your quest to defeat Satan and rescue Prin Prin. Along the way you can collect various weapons, such as torches and knives, and power ups ranging from simple point bonuses to extra lives. Each time you get a weapon it replaces the previous weapon you had, and you even keep that new weapon after you die--until you acquire a new weapon. The challenges in the game can seem on the unforgiving side as you have no control over your character once you make a jump. If you mistime a jump on to a floating platform, there are no Mario-physics to help you undo that jump, you are committed. Flicker is also a minor issue here. Though it's impressive the game can get a number of sprites on the screen at the same time without too much in terms of slowdown, flickering can sometimes cause difficulty in tracking the various monsters.

One of the more notorious "features" of Ghosts'N Goblins is the, "false ending/untrue ending" you get after beating the game. As it turns out, you have to beat the game twice in a row in order to truly win and receive the proper ending. The game had no passwords, so were you to manage to navigate your way through Satan's minions and defeat him, you had more of the same to look forward too. At the time, I had no idea that when games did this sort of thing, it was a way to artificially extend the game and keep you playing. Today, we tend to think of it as just adding to the frustration of the game itself.

Graphics and Style:

I like that the backgrounds for the game are always pitch black as it helps set the tone of game. With monsters that sometimes boarder on too colorful, (red, white, and blue zombies?) to enemies that can look like a frank in a blanket--the game needs some darker colors to help make some of the monsters look scarier. Now, the red gargoyle demon and little trolls looked evil enough on their own, for sure--but those monsters weren't all winners.  

For what it was worth though, a great job was done on the detail when it came to the monsters, tombstones, ladders, trees, and the various elements that provided setting for Ghosts'N Goblins. The sprites may have flickered, but I wasn't noticing them so much and I think that was because of the details thrown in by Capcom.

Music and Sound Design:

As far as music goes, I don't know that I have too much more to add from my separate Midweek Music Box about Ghosts N Goblins. Everything I said there still applies. The tunes create that horror movie feel and make the soundtrack an instant classic. It's hard not to think of the music for the first stage just seeing the image for the game:

"Stage One OST"

All the music tracks in that game have this appeal. With literally hundreds of games on the Nintendo Entertainment System, it was could have been difficult to make a soundtrack that stood out. Capcom was in their prime here not only in game making, in sound composition. Ayako Mori created a sound and feel for this game that puts you either in the mood for hard gameplay or Halloween. Sometimes both. Also, as a lover of the harpsichord, I have to say that hearing the NES do it's best to emulate that sound is pretty darned cool as well.

When it comes to sounds used within the game. It's not half bad. I know that AVGN said the odd-flying hot dog-like creatures were annoying with the high-pitched squealing noise that they made, but I guess I find it midway between annoying and atmospheric. Admittedly, the sounds are lackluster compared to not just modern games, but even games from the same time period. But when you think about it, the creepy/annoying sounds work for the tone of the game. You are in a land filled with Satan's minions; of course they are trying to freak you out by squealing and growling at you.

Memories and New Thoughts:

Castlevania shares a large brunt of the reason why this game was so much more difficult back in the day. Why is that?

Image result for ghosts n goblins

I had already rented Mega Man, Section Z, and Gun.Smoke by the time I got around to trying this game. I knew that even if the game was hard and at times frustrating; that it was Capcom and Capcom meant was "State of the Art" just like the boxes promised. I have to say that the two times I rented this were some of the most aggravating experiences I've ever had on the NES, second only to Cybernoid. Had I known that the knife in Ghosts'N Goblins was the weapon to have, I think my experience could have been different as a kid.

I mean, come on! As a kid, everyone knew that you used pitchforks and torches to fight off monsters. You'd think that this would be especially true of a game with a horror movie type feel. Nope. It was and always has been the knife. I have Angry Video Game Nerd to thank for that bit of knowledge entirely. If I had to guess why a seemingly simple dagger trumps a torch or spear, I would guess it has something to do with the animation. The spear is a large object that explodes when it hits an enemy. The torch lets loose with a nice tall wall of flame if it hits the ground. When you lob the knife, it has less pixels to animate across the screen, has a relatively quick "shatter" animation when it hits, and if you miss it goes across the screen quickly--meaning you can throw a new one more quickly. Again, these are totally layman guesses though.

As it stands, playing this game decades later can still lead to frustration. Death comes easily, and quickly. However, knowing that the what I once took for granted as the weakest weapon was, in fact, the best one, makes it a little more likely that I may actually see the end of this game.

If only I could get a bit further than the first level now that I actually know all this...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Midweek Music Box: From Annoying Pop to 8-Bit Awesome?

Image result for 8 bit music note

Can annoying pop hits become tolerable if they undergo an 8-bit makeover? I'll let you be the judge, as well as share my own thoughts.

"Ironic" by Alanis Morissette

I could not honestly tell you if it's possible to hear this song as many times as I've heard it. I don't hate, or at least, I try not to. In any case, it's usually a fast dial switch for me when it comes on the radio these days. However, I think I could almost tolerate it if it were used as background for something like a Harvest Moon-type game or something along those lines. I dunno, I see losing hours farming fake farms to this. Other than that, you have my permission to pop on over to the next song.

"Mmm-Bop" by Hanson

Believe it or not, there are more annoying versions of this track out there. Including the original! I kid, I kid...But seriously though, I actually think I enjoy the 8-bit version of this. I could totally see it as the background music for a kids game on the NES or the SNES. "Mmm-Bop" has nothing but goofy, goody vibes too it. No, that's not me saying that I ever really liked the song or the group. Just that I think I can kinda get into Hanson if it were made as background music for a kids game.

"Hero" by Nickelback, yes Nickelback

I hear the song, I think about that first movie, and truthfully, I'm not ashamed to say that I still like the song. I know there's some sort of internet heresy I just committed by saying this, but by golly I will admit that I like it. I've enjoyed the Gameboy version of Spider-Man more than it probably deserves. So I think that "Hero" by Nickelback probably gets more love from me than it should. I think it would be great as an end song for an 8-bit Spider-Man game. Oh well, I like it, and I love the 8-bit rendition too. Whether you think the 8-Bit version helps you to somewhat enjoy it, or if it's still as annoying doesn't matter. It was a flash-in-the-pan hit in the day, and for me the song evokes feelings of nostalgia from when I worked at a movie theater. The original version played during the end credits of Spider-Man starring Toby Maguire. It was the last song many heard before exiting, and it's the song I'll leave off with for this week's Midweek Music Box.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday Night Rentals: Bad Dudes (NES and Amiga)

Image result for bad dudes nes

If you asked me about this game, Bad Dudes, I would have told you how much I loved playing the game. I would gladly answer the call back then and I would answer it now:

Yes, that call.

I don't know if I was ever a Bad enough Dude to save the president from Ninjas, but what I did know was that fighting ninjas sounded awesome back then, and frankly it still sounds awesome now. Politics or no, if I was asked to embark on a potentially deadly mission where I had to fight ninjas in order to save the president, I'd jump at the privilege. Even if I died, can you imagine the tombstone, "Died of Ninjas?" How many people in the world would get to say that?

In any case, I had this long, fond nostalgia tied to the game. I was prepared to wax nostalgic about how the game still holds up on a few levels as a decent beat-'em up.   However, it turns out that I have a long, fond nostalgia for a game called Dragon Ninja for the Amiga, a computer I spent many hours gaming as a kid, but sadly no longer have access to. My brother and I loved playing the game. Sure, it took forever to boot up, but we had a blast and the music was pretty good, and still sounds good now. Take a look:

Dragon Ninja Long Play

Everything about this game, the one with the cool video above? That's everything that the NES version was not.

We're talking about this one...

You are one bad dude, not to be messed with, and yet evil ninjas have kidnapped the president and you must battle your way through a seemingly endless stream of ninjas who don't get the point that you are, indeed, a bad dude. Or at least not to be messed with. You scroll along in a fairly flat looking 2-D world made up of train rides and what looks like a world tour of industrial areas. One thing about the standard beat'em up was they were light on plot, usually a "rescue the princess scenario," and bad guys throwing themselves at you left and right. Power ups such as weapons, soda to refill health, and clocks to extend time are sometimes dropped by enemies, but never in amounts that feel satisfying. It's hard enough just making it through regular ninjas, let alone getting to the end of the level. You proceed either right or left, depending on the level, punch to death all who stand in your way, and fight an end level boss. Again, pretty standard stuff.

Graphics and Style:

It's so blocky and chunky, I just don't know where to begin.
Granted we are talking a 1989 NES game, but I feel like the odd, stuttering movement has almost no excuse. Sure, Double Dragon didn't exactly have you full articulated, but games like the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle were released this year as well, and the movement wasn't distracting like this was. As far as style goes, it just seems so...dull. I remember a joke about 1970's era Doctor Who was that they constantly shot in rock quarries and corridors due to budget constraints. Why not have a level where you go across mountains, or deserts or...or...anything but another train and another industrial yard. I get copy and pasting stuff with a slight palate swap was easy, and probably well in some budget of some sort I know the Amiga version, Dragon Ninja, had the same locals, but it had better graphics overall, so it was easy to ignore when you had that repetition. NES games? If the game itself isn't engaging, it really sticks out.

Music and Sound Design:

Unlike my previously reviewed "Totally Rad," Bad Dudes only gets the title right when it comes to talking 80's/90's 'tude era stuff. Everything from the punches, to the hits, to the poorly digitized voices make me yearn to put in the Amiga version. Only I don't have an Amiga on me, all I have is tinny sound effects and this, this for a soundtrack:

Forgive me, I had to do my duty to today's blog and share the track. If you really like this version of the track, please give the Amiga version a try. It has a feeling that just has so much more going on, so much more 16-bit feel. So much more...everything.

Memories and New Thoughts:

As I may have mentioned before, I loved the Amiga version. My older brother and I played this game so many times on so many weekends. I am pretty sure that we never beat the game as we would run out of lives and continues before the end, but watching the let's play I posted a link to above, I can see that we got to what appears to be the next-to-last level. I could easily go off about how superior the Amiga version is--oh wait, I think I have. But I think the reason I have gone off so much is because of how spectacularly Data East let me down with this port. I honestly can't recall if I ever rented this version. I don't think I did, and I'm glad I didn't. I can forever hold my Amiga memories on the pedestal they belong on.

When I picked this up at a local gamers swap, I was so enthused, so ready to see if I was a Bad enough dude this time around. Would I save the president? Was the Nintendo Entertainment System version on par with the Amiga Would I beat an entire army of ninjas?

custom tombstone


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Midweek Music Box: Heavy Metal 8-bit Covers

Yes Virginia, there is a Metal Claus, and he is here to rock--in 8-bit, chip tune awesomeness!  Heavy metal can come in all forms from your standard head banging ball, to Sir Christopher Lee rocking out some Christmas tunes:

Image result for heavy metal NES
Seriously, this is a real thing! An awesomely real thing! Check it out!

So let's do something a little different for Midweek Music Box. Let's take time to recognize a few chip tune covers of some of the best (but by no means not all) of what heavy metal music has to offer. I don't need to really say too much of the songs themselves; however I will offer my brief thoughts on what I like about them. At the end of this article, please click the links leading to the artists behind these interpretations; 8 Bit Universe and Omnigrad.

Enter Sandman:

Enter Sandman 8 Bit by 8 Bit Universe

Let's start with Metallica, because of course we're going to start with Metallica! Practically everything they put out is instantly classic metal. Wouldn't this make epic last stage music? I mean seriously, the driving rhythm Enter Sandman would kick all sorts of butt. If you kept losing lives and had to restart said final level, wouldn't it be worth it to hear this track from the beginning? I hate losing and starting over in games, but sometimes the music makes it tolerable. A loop of this as I try to reach the end boss? Yes please.

Symphony of Destruction:

Symphony of Destruction 8-bit by Omnigrad

Again more, music that would rock in some form of a last stage for a game. Maybe part two of said stage? It's a little more "mellow" in comparison to the Enter Sandman 8-bit, but really, it works not just as an interpretation, but as something you can see as a calm before the storm situation. Not that Symphony of Destruction is calm mind you, just it gets you pumped in the right way.

Du Hast:
Du Hast 8 Bit by 8 Bit Universe

By itself, Du Hast stands as a heavy metal song for the ages. Transformed into an 8-bit track, this track sounds so much like it belongs in a boss battle. I've always had a love for rhythm of this song, and it is no less glorious in 8-bit. If some one were to do a game mod or 8-bit homage game, I'd want this to appear as the music for the final boss battle of the game.

Final Thoughts:

Seriously, as I listen to these various interpretations, I feel like they all belong in final stage of some unpublished NES game. As I said before, we need a game mod or some 8-bit style game where these things are featured. Not only do the individuals who did the 8-bit interpretations deserve credit for their tribute, but they deserve credit for making tunes I'd love to hear in a video game. In my music review for Blackthorne, I mentioned everything about the tunes conveyed that heavy metal feel. Obviously this is true more-so with actual heavy metal tunes turned into chiptunes, but it's worth mentioning because of how well the tunes have been done here. I instinctively know they are songs I've heard before. However, I can't help but picture a game like Mega Man where you progress through Dr. Wily stages at the end of the game, or maybe a Ghosts N' Goblins-esque game where you fight the devil himself.  

So big shout out to the artists of these songs who deserve your follow on Twitter, YouTube, or cash when they've made the track available for download:

8 Bit Universe Info:

Du Hast 8 bit available HERE FOR DOWNLOAD

Enter Sandman 8 bit available HERE FOR DOWNLOAD

Omnigrad* Info:

*User hasn't uploaded anything new in two months, but their other stuff is pretty awesome. Check out their channel, increase their view count, and maybe they'll make more!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Friday Night Rentals: Totally Rad

Image result for totally rad nes

Totally awesome? Totally Tubular? No! It's Totally Rad! (Man) Are you craving a mad mix of platforming and 90's attitude with the wild and crazy colors of the late 80s? Well look no further than this 1991 release from Jaleco! Why did the box art have this bright color scheme? Why was there a purple-eyed punk rock alligator replete with pink mohawk crawling out of the cover? Who cares?! It was the time of Ninja Turtles, skateboards, and punk hair-dos. Why not have a game that actually embraced a phrase that would not only ensure it stuck out at the time, but would stick out over 25 years later? (Only this time as a sign of being a product of the time.) Cover art and radical title aside, was it worth it to have rented at the time? Would it be worth picking up now. Time to take a look at Totally Rad by Jaleco and see whether the game is a totally bodacious time warp or a totally bogus flop, man.


In Totally Rad you play as Jake, gnarly apprentice to a creepy-faced magician known as Zeb. One day while training, Jake's bodacious girlfriend Allison is kidnapped by an evil king. Now Jake must set forth into a subterranean world in order to rescue his girl and defeat the evil king all while sporting surfer dude 'tude. Yep, it's a "rescue the princess" affair, only this time with a magical surfer dude with lots of 'tude. You have an array of spells immediately at your command ranging from health restoration to transformation of the main character into a weapon slinging creature.

You can get extra lives by defeating a certain number of enemies, however, for each extra life you earn, each subsequent life must be obtained by beating more enemies. Meaning you get your first life after getting 50 points, but the next one doesn't come until you reach over 100 and so on and so forth. While there are spots in the game where life-farming is possible, and there is no time limit, like most farming situations, it can get dull after a while. The action in the game is decently paced and enemy encounters and boss battles feel fair. If you lose a life or take a hit, it's your fault and you know it. While the mechanic of having access to a variety of weapons right off evokes a little bit of Mega Man, I was disappointed that despite the different things I could select from in the magic screen, I oddly felt as if there was a lack of variety and more just novelty to the spells that I was casting. Obviously health restoration was great to have on hand for boss battles, but aside from that I just was never over-wowed by the various powers. It felt great to wield cut blades and quick boomerangs, magically being able to flap wings was okay, but it was no saw blade.

Graphics and Style:

With cut scenes in the style of Ninja Gaiden and 90's 'tude banter abounding; Totally Rad firmly establishes itself as the best of the magician's apprentice surfer dude genre. Colors are bright but never garish, character sprites are well designed and well animated, and level designs are unique and mapped out fairly. (I hate it when games have what purposely feels like cheap deaths or trial-and-error map design simply out of laziness or attempts to extend gameplay.) Totally Rad was a later release in the Nintendo Entertainment System's life cycle, so by this time games had a more polished look to them and usually competent choices in design.

Music and Sound Design:

From the weapon charge to the enemy hits; the sound effects in the game are probably some of the best of the genre for the time. When you have a platformer like this which tries to mimic some of the better aspects of the Mega Man series, you want to feel a modicum of satisfaction when you fire your weapon, and Totally Rad delivers.

The music for Totally Rad stands up both on its own and the test of time. Too often with platformers for the NES you get an annoying song loop that either feels like it isn't trying or loops too soon. Take a listen to the beats from Act 1 Part 1:

Act 1 Part 1

It's high energy, has a decent bass line that keeps with the surfer/rocker tone of the game and conveys that sense of excitement you'd want from a platformer about a surfer dude with magical powers. Now take a listen to the music from Act 2:

Act 2

It's got a funky beat, uses the base line well, and goes at a pace that while not energetic, still has a higher quality to it. It's obvious that the composer put some real effort into making the tracks not merely functional, but in tone with the spirit of the game and a pleasure to listen to. Most of the tracks, if not all, are good enough to act as music you'd listen to separate from the Totally Rad itself.

Memories and New Thoughts:

So what kind of game was Totally Rad when I rented it back in the day? Was it everything that this ad promised it to be? Was it indeed a game that finally spoke my language, dude?

Image result for totally rad nes
*Hat tip to for this "Totally Rad"
throwback ad

Well, when I rented this game as a kid, I remember it as one of the harder, but satisfying games to play. I don't recall if I beat it at the time, but I do remember it had a certain, "Just one more level, then I'm quitting" appeal to it. Each level felt difficult at the time, and it felt like a real accomplishment when I did beat a level. Totally Rad gave me the same feeling that a Mega Man game or Ninja Gaiden game would when I finally beat a level. Coming back to it decades later, does it still have that appeal to me? Does it hold up after all this time?

Yes and no...and I'm not sure how much of that has to do with the way the game has aged in comparison to Ninja Gaiden and Mega Man. Whereas those games have had numerous entries into their franchise, Totally Rad never turned into a franchised game with multiple sequels. Though the adventures were gnarly and awesome at the time, the whole world that the game exists in doesn't so much feel dated as it does locked away in another reality. ...And yet I still really like this game.

Perhaps I'm a bit too wistful when I look back on Totally Rad. Egad! I just love this era of gaming, don't you? I mean really, how often do we get a game this off the wall in concept and storyline? A magical surfer fighting subterranean monsters is right up there with taking a super battle tank underground to rescue your pet frog. I do really miss the time and place the game comes from. A time when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were popular and there was nothing better than skateboarding or surfing the afternoon away. A time when saying, "That's radical dude" or "That's totally rad, man" were perfect ways to say how excited your were and how awesome something truly was.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Midweek Music Box: Rayman Legends

Image result for rayman legends

So much of Rayman Legends represents the best of what platform gaming can offer. From excellent controls, tons of replay value, and fun storyline--the game hits it out the park. Of course, our interest today concerns the phenomenal music composed and arranged by Billy Martin and Christopher Heral. 

With this particular game, we need to break down the soundtrack into two parts: the regular background music, and the musical homage levels. Let's dive in with the instrumental/orchestral music:

Medieval Theme:
"Medieval Theme"

The "Medieval Theme" greets you on the main screen, and I've come to think of it as the main theme for the game. Not only do the trilling flute, chanting voices, bombastic booms and string sections evoke the feeling of a medieval festival; it also offers a hint of what's to come. Yes, Rayman Legends boasts an orchestral soundtrack and makes use of said orchestra in the best ways possible. The game itself has a high fantasy feel in many sections with the good guys battling dragons and trolls, so it's more than fitting that this music introduces you to the world of Rayman and his pals. Everything feels more epic when given a medieval flare, and the limbless lad really feels at home under this umbrella.

Dive Another Day:

"Dive Another Day"

"The name is Man, Rayman. *cue iconic Bond Theme*"
At least, I imagine this was partially going through the composers minds as they put together this particular song. With low bass and guitar riff that with an air of mystery, it's hard not to think of MI 6's best international spy as you run through corridors and plumb the ocean depths. It's nice that this particular song, and indeed all the songs from this particular section of the game, don't give way to some goofball, madcap fast pace just to fit the bright colors and upbeat tone of the game. So often a game soundtrack seems to forget itself and gets overly frenetic in all the wrong places. This track breathes at a slower pace, and that's very much welcome. One of the touches unrelated to the music itself, but still helpful in setting the mood along with the music is that while, you still get the array of miscreant monsters one would expect from the game, but as if to fit the music, the levels set to this theme feature toad creatures equipped with spear guns and wet suits.

The Chief Whistler:

"The Chief Whistler"

Light strumming on the banjo and a pleasant whistling fills the air for this tune. While it doesn't boast the full-bodied orchestra sound of the other tracks in the game, it never-the-less adds a richness to the game in vaguely easy-going, pleasant way. It's going nowhere in a hurray, just ambling along and enjoying the scenery and inviting you to do the same.  You could listen to a loop of it to drift off to sleep at night, or have it playing in the background as mosey about your day. It's neither epic nor bombastic. It's just a pleasant tune to listen to you. It's the Bob Ross soundtrack of the game basically.

The Music Levels:

Really, these just need to be played to get the full impact of how awesome these homages are. From the "Black Betty" singing trolls that were part of the game demo to the "Eye of the Tiger" Mariachis; you can't help but smile when playing through these levels. They are great renditions in their own right, but really, if you needed at least one more reason to get the game, the music levels are your reason. One of the big reasons I got a Wii U was so I could play this game for these levels. For those that can't wait to play or don't have an opportunity to, here's a clip of the music levels in a long play form:

Music levels

As I write this review, I can't help but want to play this game again just to enjoy the music again. Such great blend of whimsy, rock, and fun await, you just need to download the soundtrack now.
Seriously, just download the soundtrack here. It's one of those awesome opportunities to actually give the artists some sort of compensation for the fantastic work they do.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Night Rentals: Super Empire Strikes Back

Image result for super empire strikes back

With the announcement of Star Wars episode VIII's title, "The Last Jedi," I was inspired to revisit the ol' Super Star Wars romping--or rather whomping--grounds. Yes, I'll be taking a look at JVC's run and gun Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.  So, did the Empire strike back with the same amount of difficulty as they did with the first game? Or did I find a new hope for the series when this Star Wars game was rented?

Graphics and Style:

The character sprites are designed well and really give you the feeling that you're playing as a character from the Star Wars universe. As you blast--or lightsaber--your way through Stormtroopers, wampas, swamp monsters and the like, it's hard not to admire the work done on the character design. The development studio really had a chance to show off their stuff with the Super Star Wars games and did so to a tee. If you have the time I encourage you to look up a little of the backstory into how they approached doing these characters.

When it comes to style, I'm happy to say it too has the classic Star Wars feel. Even though the design team obviously had to take some liberties when it came to building this run-and-gun, they never feel like something totally out of the bounds of what you would find in the Star Wars universe.

Music and Sound:

I think I could write a whole separate blog based on how well the sound was done in these games. From blaster shots to lightsaber strikes; great care was obviously taken to preserve as much as possible the original sound of the movie, and it shows.  When it comes to the music, while I agree it's a pretty good 16-bit adaptation of the film score, it doesn't quite grab me as I wanted it to. In fact, I find some of the renditions a little too tinny for my tastes. However, they do convey the tone of the game and film melded into one and do a pretty good service for your gaming needs. They never get too annoying or too over-looped.  Here's a rendition of the Imperial March which I think is the best of the lot as it really captures the fast paced violins well:

Gameplay and Control:

You run and shot, saber, or even thermonuclear detonator your way from the beginning of the level to the end. Along the way you can pick up hearts of varying sizes to replenish your health meter, extensions for said health meter, and various weapon and point power ups. These are dropped with a fair amount of regularity, so keeping your health up doesn't become an issue. You can choose between three difficulty settings from Easy, Brave, and the highest, of course, is Jedi. You get the "Brave" setting as the default mode if you hop right in, but if you're looking for your best chance at beating the game on your first go around, I'd recommend going to the menu screen and selecting the easy setting.  On the topic of difficulty, this ranks up there with some of the hardest run-and-guns and platforming you'll ever encounter. With constant barrages of enemies, obstacles, and death-spike laced pits, the game challenges you every step of the way. In addition to the natural high difficulty of the in game objects, whenever you die, you are sent back to the beginning of an area as there are no checkpoints. Even on the easiest of settings you can find an ill-timed jump into a pit will result in the loss of what can feel like hours worth of labor. And with only 3 continues, you need every life you can get.

It's so fitting that you start out on Hoth, because the controls feel slippery and you would just assume that since you're on an ice planet, that's how it is for that level. But no, that's how it goes for every level. With the aforementioned assault of enemies and death-pits, this not only fast becomes a nuisance, but a built in difficulty setting itself--albeit one that you cannot change. While you can alter the button configuration, this does nothing to change the actual control you have over the character. Luke is just as likely to hurl himself into a pit of spikes as he is to ever confront Darth Vader.

Memories and New Thoughts:

It was a Star Wars game, so I rented it. Need I say more? I mean, I think I may have made it to the second stage as a kid, but I don't ever recall making it that far. I loved the Super Star Wars games as a kid and I loved renting them. Who wouldn't want to play as Luke, Han, or even Chewie?! Well, I never got to play as Han or Chewie. I only got past the first level or so as Luke when I was kid.

Each of these games brought a little something new to offer in terms of stages and layout, but each one had that unforgiving difficulty we've come to associate the game. Part of me wants to just say, "I was a kid and it was Star Wars," and leave it at that. I should have known at this point though just how insane and frustrating the difficulty was. Years later this still gets to me. I have a mix of love and deep-seated resentment for this game, and all the Super Nintendo Star Wars games. Why did the game have to be so stupidly hard? Clearly kids were going to play this game as well, why couldn't the developers have cut a break to us kids? Not that I was looking for hand holding, I love a challenging game and still do to this day. But when a game gets this brutally difficult, it's hard to keep those rose-colored kid glasses on for too long. Now, don't get me wrong, I still like the game and hope to beat it one day. It's just hard to imagine that I'd ever want to have owned it as a kid as I liked to have games around that were something I could eventually beat. I can't imagine younger me ever beating this game. So I guess I have to settle for the hope that my adult self will have the patience to get it done.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Midweek Music Box: Dr. Mario (Fever Theme)

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As I sit here (lie here?) in bed for what feels like the 20th day straight (but is in fact only the 7th/8th day of being sick) I can't help but wonder if I can push myself to actually get today's Midweek Music Box written. Well, thankfully there's a cure for what ails me and that's good ol' Dr. Mario! Specifically the "Fever" theme from the famous puzzle game. So, speaking of the fever theme, here's a 30 minute loop of that classic 8-bit tune:

"Fever Theme"

Just like Tetris, you can choose what music you are going to listen to before you start up the endless puzzler, so this may not necessarily have been your "jam" when eliminating viruses with the good Dr. Mario. But just like the classic Russian folk song will be forever jammed in most of our minds as the "Tetris Theme," so the Fever theme will be the tune most of us usually associate with the game. It's peppy and catchy, with a couple of odd bits that sound more like sound effects than they do music--but it's still pleasant to listen to when working away at something. Like for example if it's late in the day and you are still laid up in bed and needing to get a game blog done but want to soak in a tub until all the pain goes away...maybe I should just take one of those pills that Mario's tossing about and hope for the best.

Anywho, it's funny how several puzzle games like this always had the "go-to" track that most of us listened to and came to think of as the main theme of the game. In fact, I really don't care for the main theme/intro music of Dr. Mario and find it a little harsh and grating. Sorry, not going to link it here, I think that little of it. But really, we aren't meant to linger on the main screen of a puzzle game. We're supposed to dive right into the action and get playing for hours on end--which is why I picked a half-hour loop of the Fever song. I like music that makes you feel like you need to get going and get things done, and in this case, Dr. Mario continues to serve up the right prescription when it comes to having a cure in getting things done.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Night Rentals: Bump N' Jump

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Can radical excitement be yours as you zoom along either crushing or pitying innocent drivers simply trying to get to work? Does the game have high speed chases as you rush to save your girlfriend you ask? Why yes it does and yes, it's time to bring the arcade excitement of Bump'n Jump to your home console, specifically, the NES.
When I rented this, I had no idea it was a port of an arcade game. As a kid, games like these were never re-rented, the purpose of renting was to beat a game so as to not feel like I had to buy. Or if I did buy it, that it had a high replay value.  Did it earn a place in my heart today and am I now glad to have it?

Gameplay and Control:

You race along, avoiding obstacles, collecting power-ups and smashing other vehicles off the road or hop-crushing them to death--and that's it.

Yes, you are racing to the end of the stage and yes, you eventually get an end to the game (of sorts), but really, most of these arcade to console ports never could match the excitement of a game made simply to pull more quarters from your wallet. A nice bonus of owning it at home means that you can play over and over again without the quarter-suck and get better at it. However, is it worth playing over and over to get better and better? I'll let you know at the end.

Graphics and Style:

Simple graphics, even for NES. However, they are bright and colorful. The cars, the grass, water, and bridges all zoom by at a decent speed so they don't need to really be defined that much, and they do have an 8-bit quality to them when they might have been able to get by with less resolution. Stylistically, this game feels like just another overhead racer with overtones of Spy Hunter. not that this is a bad thing, just that it doesn't really offer too much new in terms of setting itself apart from other, similar games aside from the jump mechanic.

Music and Sound:

It's cute really. Which when you look at it is really odd for a game where you are basically getting points for murder-smashing your way through those who get in the way of your quest save your one true love. The music is cheerful and well paced, and doesn't really get annoying which is great as you'll likely be revisiting the same levels over and over again.  The sound effects work okay, and I personally like that the music don't really get annoying. Here's a small sample of the music so you get an idea of the tracks:

Peppy, ain't it? Again, nothing too spectacular here, but for a game with repeat soundtracks, it's actually not too bad. Not saying I'll be copying it to my Ipod anytime soon though.

Memories and New Thoughts:

Did you ever rent a game twice thinking that perhaps the second time around it would click better for you? I know I did that with a number of games growing up, including Bump'n' Jump. I wanted to have missed something with this game. I wanted it to feel like it was more than just a novel variation on racing games where high score was the goal. However, it never really struck me as more than just an average game. I found out recently that this game was actually a port of an arcade game, and it feels like it. Not that all arcade ports are bad mind you. Donkey Kong remains one of my favorite arcade to NES ports to this day. However, I might have passed it by were it not for a friend finding it for me for cheap. As I played it again for this review, I was really reminded of Spy Hunter, but after a few minutes, I actually was starting to enjoy this more than Spy Hunter truth be told. I guess I find the way the difficulty ramps up each level more satisfying than the way it's done in Spy Hunter, although Hunter did have the better/more memorable music of the two. If you see it somewhere cheap I'd recommend picking it up.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Midweek Music Box: Mega Man 8 Soundtrack

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Let me start by saying how weird it was (and still is quite frankly) to see a Mega Man game on a non-Nintendo system. Growing up I had it firmly ingrained in my mind that certain systems got certain games. Nintendo would always have Mario, and Sega would always have Sonic. Nintendo would always have Mega Man, and Sega would always have Toe Jam and Earl. But wait! Nintendo didn't always have Mega Man! My beloved Blue Bomber eventually made his way to the PlayStation! (Yes I know there were PC translations of the early games, but let us never speak of them again.)

When I got my hands on Mega Man 8, I wasn't sure how much I'd like it. I was fresh off the X series, and those were peak Mega Man in my mind. How could the PlayStation get the 8th installment of the original Mega Man? How could it possibly compare to the other Mega Man games? Well, I soon found out that when it came to music and sound design, they had nearly recaptured the spirit of Mega Man. 

I say nearly, because there are aspects of the sound design that just don't work and I find it a little jarring. I can't do this particular Midweek Music Box without mentioning the sound design of the game alongside the music as it plays such a huge factor to me in how the game goes, and the enjoyment of the in game music.  So without further adieu, let's get into the music and how awesome the music for Mega Man 8 really is.

For your listening enjoyment, here is the soundtrack in it's entirety, and I'll highlight some of the more noteworthy ones (IMHO of course):


Mega Man 8 OST

Boss Intro:

Such an awesome, quick track that gets you pumped, I devoted an entire Midweek Music Box to this track. The updated version works well to bring that pumped feeling back and it hits just the right nostalgia notes. It's one of the briefest tunes you'll hear, but it belongs up there with the basic Super Mario beat.
I can't find an individual track on YouTube of this one, but its within the OST linked above and is well worth a quick listen if for no other reason than to smile at the updated sound.

Grenade Man

Upbeat and determined sounding with a flare of those 16-bit sounds that we all have come to know and love, I like the Grenade Man soundtrack because it feels the most like what an upgraded version of the original Mega Man soundtracks would be like. I know on the Saturn they had a reprise of the Cutman and Woodman stages with their music, but I only experienced the PlayStation version when I first played this, and this stage is the one that still gets me feeling like I'm truly playing a Mega Man game, albeit an upgraded one.

Dr. Wiley Stage 1

Such dark and mysterious music, and yet still the fast-paced feel that we've come to expect from Mega Man. The low beats and robotic sounds not only make it really feel like you're a robot on the run with a mission, but make any task feel that much more important and pressing. There's something almost fast-jazz-esque about the pace of this track. I included a link to a 30 minute loop here as I feel that you could easily have this in the background as music to help you keep moving along with whatever task you might have before you.

Sound design:

And now for the bad. The very, very, oh-my-gosh-did-he-just-say-that very bad. It's so incongruous that it bears mentioning if only for the fact that it distracts so much from what otherwise is one of the better Mega Man soundtracks.

Voice Acting:

I think the following clip pretty much sums up the whole of the Mega Man 8 experience when it comes to the acting in the video clips:

Dr. Wowee is on the attack agwain!

From Dr. Light sounding like the offspring of Barbra Walters meets Vizzini from Princess Bride to Mega Man's annoying litte girl voice--there's so much to just hate about the voice acting in Mega Man 8. I like that they tried to include some of the cartoon and you get a nice montage of what happened in Mega Man's past... and that's where the clips should have ended. After that you get "treated" to various clips as the game progresses, and believe me, at times these feel like dog treats. Getting animated clips for any system, regardless of era, usually was and still feels like the reward it was meant to be. Not so in Mega Man 8's case. These clips were terribly acted and were some of the cringiest things you'll ever watch when it comes to games turned into cartoons. At least Legend of Zelda left us with the now meme-worthy, "Well excuuuuse me princess!"

Voice Dubbing:

Originally I was going to include this in within voice acting, but I thought it was worth mentioning in its own section because of how bad it was. I don't need Mega Man loudly exclaiming "Power Shot" every time he fires a powered shot. It gets so annoying so quickly that you almost don't want to bother firing your starter weapon just so you can spare yourself from hearing that. If only this was the only problem. When it comes to boss battles, they loudly exclaim something as you enter their lair and after you defeat them. However, more than half the time, I couldn't understand what the heck they were saying. I understand there were limitations at the time, but when the sound effects and music are fantastic and then...then you get a muffled mess for the big battle you just fought so hard to get to. It just kills the mood. Until I was able to search this out years later, I was convinced that either something was wrong with my hearing or that my TV's audio was going off. It seems though that most of the internet agrees that the audio clips here were just terrible.

Final Thoughts

Now, the flaws I pointed out here don't necessarily detract from my ability to enjoy the soundtrack or the game in their own rights, but it does make me hesitant to keep the volume up when playing the actual game. It's a shame really because the music and sound effects in the Mega Man games are some of the best out there in gamer-dom. Sometimes though, it's hard to separate the good and the bad. But that doesn't mean the soundtrack itself isn't worth a listen to, or maybe even a rip on to your iPod.