Friday, December 21, 2012

Special Recognition: Worst Nintendo Power Cover: Virtual Boy

There are several great Nintendo Power covers and a lot of mediocre ones. But there's only one truly hideous cover. How appropriate that it's for the only hideous Nintendo system: the Virtual Boy.


First off, you've got horrible design sense of the mid-'90s, when everything had to look as x-treme as possible. The more fonts, the better. And, by god, don't implement any sort of standard alignment or spacing for the text.

The Virtual Boy––which forced gamers to crane their necks to look through the heavy goggles, which fed each eye a different viewpoint in order to simulate a blood-red 3D image––was notorious for being difficult to use and giving its victims, I mean owners, terrible headaches. Keeping that in mind, this might be the most accurate cover in Nintendo Power history. I can't look at it without getting nauseous.

Also: is that the Lawnmower Man back there?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Top 5 Nintendo Power Covers: Honorable Mention: Batman

Last fall, gamers everywhere were saddened by Ars Technica's report that Nintendo was ceasing publication of the venerable Nintendo Power magazine after more than 20 years of hard-hitting, unbiased Nintendo coverage.

Sure, the journalism industry is hurting, but this was still a shock. Now where will gamers go for Classified Information? Where will we see the further adventures of Nestor? And how will we live without the monthly list of the favorite 20 games of Nintendo retailers?? These questions may forever remain unanswered.

In the meantime, let's look back at the best Nintendo Power covers of all time; the ones that got you so excited about video games that you checked your mailbox every day when you were a kid.


This cover didn't quite crack the top five, because even though we all have fond memories of Jack Nicholson's Joker and it's totally badass that Batman is swinging from the P in the magazine's logo (or is that just a gap in the smoke? Hard to tell), a cover featuring official art from a game––or movie, in this case––simply can't top the glorious use of everyday dudes in video costumes we see on the publication's best covers.

But this cover still has a lot going for it. For one thing, all that smoke. This is the smokiest cover in video game magazine history. I'd think Batman was squealing the Batmobile's tires and doing donuts in the foyer of Axis Chemicals if he wasn't right up there batwalking around on that catwalk.

Then there's the fact that it looks like the Joker is wearing an over-sized Official Nintendo Seal of Quality lapel pin. We would kill for one of those.

Then there are the coverlines. When's the last time a magazine commanded you to read about Shadowgate? Probably not recent enough, if you're anything like us. Also, it's hard to believe a magazine could plug Double Dragon II and also boast of a "Double Bonus!" and not have those two things be connected in any way.

Finally, the thing that really makes this cover: "16-Page Tetris Tip Book." How can there possibly be that many tips for Tetris? Is it just the sentence "Don't let the blocks reach the top of the screen or you will lose yet again!" with one word on each page?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Murder She Wrote Recaps: S1E6: Lovers and Other Killers


When she's not delivering babies cross-country to a Chinese convent orphanage, being wined and dined by her MALE secretary (well I never!), or being pushed down the stairs, Jessica Fletcher finds the time to solve one of this episode's two murders. The other is apparently left hanging forever.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Real Advice From Mr. T #5


"Some people expect a free ride through life, cruising by on good looks and luck. Let me tell you something right now, it don't work that way!"

Thursday, November 8, 2012

This Is a Real Comic Book Character: Paste Pot Pete

A brilliant chemist, Peter Petruski aimed to eclipse Michael Jackson as the most famous resident of Gary, Indiana. When he invented a new multi-polymer adhesive liquid, his ticket to the big-time was punched. However, as the insane tend to do, he chose to try to forge a criminal career with his new invention rather than make a fortune patenting and licensing it. Thus was born Paste Pot Pete.


Donning a green smock, a jaunty purple beret and an oversized ribbon tie, Pete made plans for his first criminal caper: he was going to steal a new experimental missile from the U.S. military and presumably sell it to the reds.

That's when Pete learned a terrible truth: Glue doesn't help you steal things. "Sticky fingers" is just a saying he had taken too literally. He had to beat a hasty retreat via motorcycle. It would be the first of many professional embarrassments.

Good thing you remembered your paste bucket!

Paste Pot Pete's professional embarrassments have only been matched by his fashion embarrassments. After realizing his original outfit made him look more like a colorblind industrial pastry chef––or an angry French toddler––than a terrifying super criminal, he designed a more utilitarian costume.


Unfortunately, no one told him that cuffed yellow thigh-highs have an extremely low intimidation factor. Yet somehow his slightly improved appearance earned him a spot in the Frightful Four, a super villain team clearly in desperate need of a fourth member.

Over the years, Paste Pot Pete has enjoyed one of the lowest batting averages of any super criminal, being beaten by everyone from Spider-Man to Daredevil to even the Prowler.

In a desperate bid to get his groove back, Pete changed his name to the Trapster and altered his costume to try to look more like a ninja.

Didn't work.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Top 5 Nintendo Power Covers: #1: Ninja Gaiden

Last month, gamers everywhere were saddened by Ars Technica's report that Nintendo was ceasing publication of the venerable Nintendo Power magazine after more than 20 years of hard-hitting, unbiased Nintendo coverage.

Sure, the journalism industry is hurting, but this was still a shock. Now where will gamers go for Classified Information? Where will we see the further adventures of Nestor? And how will we live without the monthly list of the favorite 20 games of Nintendo retailers?? These questions may forever remain unanswered.

In the meantime, let's look back at the best Nintendo Power covers of all time; the ones that got you so excited about video games that you checked your mailbox every day when you were a kid.


Why's this cover number one? Simple. It combines all the factors that make a great Nintendo Power cover.

1. A real-life model posing as a video game character! In this case, a very caucasian ninja is standing in for the game's hero: Ryu Hayabusa. Ryu is known for his impressive arsenal of ninja techniques and weapons, such as the art of the fire wheel, the spinning jump slash, and the windmill star. This cover's ninja appears to be holding a Slim Jim.

2. Cheesy background art! Let's see, we've got a city by the bay, which appears to be four blocks deep before you hit a massive jungle, with trees that even tower over skyscrapers. Then, on the horizon, a giant mountain rises out of the sun, which threatens to engulf the earth and is casting some strange shadows on the moon.

Also, given Ryu's position in relation to the background, where is he standing? In the crow's nest of a pirate ship? On the wing of an airplane? With ninjas, you can never tell.

3. Nonsensical coverlines! "New Hit in Cinema Display"? Does that mean you have to play it in a movie theater?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Murder She Wrote Recaps: S1E5: Hooray For Homicide


Jessica Fletcher learns a harsh lesson about the realities of showbiz when she signs away the rights to one of her bestsellers and a slimy Hollywood producer turns it into a teenage sex romp, complete with a Thriller-inspired, synth-pop love scene in a cemetery.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Top 5 Nintendo Power Covers: #2: Track & Field II

Last month, gamers everywhere were saddened by Ars Technica's report that Nintendo was ceasing publication of the venerable Nintendo Power magazine after more than 20 years of hard-hitting, unbiased Nintendo coverage.

Sure, the journalism industry is hurting, but this was still a shock. Now where will gamers go for Classified Information? Where will we see the further adventures of Nestor? And how will we live without the monthly list of the favorite 20 games of Nintendo retailers?? These questions may forever remain unanswered.

In the meantime, let's look back at the best Nintendo Power covers of all time; the ones that got you so excited about video games that you checked your mailbox every day when you were a kid.


When I got this issue in the mail as a kid, I was excited. The original Track & Field wasn't my cup of tea. Those sorts of competitions were never as exciting as other sports, like football or baseball, and anyway, the gameplay always boiled down to hitting one button as quickly as possible, so that got old real quick.

But track and field events with rocket shoes? That's something I could get into, and it's exactly what this cover was promising. Foot races would be much more fun if every competitor had radical nuclear hi-tops strapped to their feet while running on a track IN THE SKY! And if a simple race was that exciting in Track & Field II, imagine the badass spins the game must put on other events.  Shotput grenades? Long jumping over shark tanks? Lightsaber javenlins? The possibilities were endless! The coverline promise of "16 Explosive Events" only bolstered my assumptions about the game's content.

Unfortunately, the terrible reality of the situation is that Track & Field II is just more earthly track and field action. Nowhere in the entire game are rocket shoes to be found.

Upon closer inspection, the "CN" logo on the hi-tops reveals them to be connected to the Captain Nintendo "Video Game Super Hero Fiction Feature," which, to be fair, I recall being an awesome prose story about a regular dude having to fight video game enemies––such as Mother Brain from Metroid––that invaded our reality. It was sort of the inverse of Captain N: The Game Master.

In the end, I can't help but think of this cover as a missed opportunity. Consider all the awesome video game footwear they could have put on the cover instead:

High jump boots!

Iron boots!

Kuribo's Shoe!

Actually, never mind on this one


Monday, October 1, 2012

Precious Wrestling Memories: The Origin of the Million-Dollar Belt

The Million-Dollar Man, Ted DiBiase, was the epitome of '80s greed. He had dollar bills on his tights. He routinely let kids participate in games of skill with the promise of cash rewards and then sabotaged them when they were about to succeed. And one time he even bought the WWF Heavyweight Championship from Andre the Giant for a sum of "at least $100," according to the playground rumors at school.

But nothing compares to the time he had an 800-diamond championship belt created! Be sure to watch until the 3:50 mark to get to the good stuff.


"I'M HERE!"

Now the only remaining burning question we have is this: What's the origin of the Million-Dollar Man's incredible vampire cape?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Top 5 Nintendo Power Covers: #3: Castlevania II

Last month, gamers everywhere were saddened by Ars Technica's report that Nintendo was ceasing publication of the venerable Nintendo Power magazine after more than 20 years of hard-hitting, unbiased Nintendo coverage.

Sure, the journalism industry is hurting, but this was still a shock. Now where will gamers go for Classified Information? Where will we see the further adventures of Nestor? And how will we live without the monthly list of the favorite 20 games of Nintendo retailers?? These questions may forever remain unanswered.

In the meantime, let's look back at the best Nintendo Power covers of all time; the ones that got you so excited about video games that you checked your mailbox every day when you were a kid.


This cover combines the splendor of a second-rate Trojan warrior costume from Party City with the creepiness of a real skull with the stellar photoshop skills needed to make Dracula's severed head's eyes glow. The result is the most spooktacular cover in Nintendo Power history.

The glory of this cover rests in its gory details: The ACE bandages wrapped around Simon Belmont's shins. The fog machine mist covering only his feet, as though it's a Rob Liefeld drawing. The red undershirt that has us convinced the model portraying Simon is on his meal break from the local Target. What a horrible night to have to pose for a Nintendo Power cover.

Look closely and you'll even see the five body parts you have to collect in order to beat Castlevania II. They're right there on his velour cape. PS. Did you know that a ring counts as a body part?

Also: "More Super Mario 2"! This issue of Nintendo Power is intended for those who can't get enough Super Mario 2. All four of you.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Top 5 Nintendo Power Covers: #4: WWF Super Wrestlemania

Last month, gamers everywhere were saddened by Ars Technica's report that Nintendo was ceasing publication of the venerable Nintendo Power magazine after more than 20 years of hard-hitting, unbiased Nintendo coverage.

Sure, the journalism industry is hurting, but this was still a shock. Now where will gamers go for Classified Information? Where will we see the further adventures of Nestor? And how will we live without the monthly list of the favorite 20 games of Nintendo retailers?? These questions may forever remain unanswered.

In the meantime, let's look back at the best Nintendo Power covers of all time; the ones that got you so excited about video games that you checked your mailbox every day when you were a kid.


Hulkamania faced one of its toughest tests in the spring of 1990, when the Canadian Earthquake (pictured) ambushed Hulk Hogan while he was being interviewed on the Brother Love show and sat on his chest, putting him in the hospital and putting his career in jeopardy. Thanks to the countless letters of support sent to him by little Hulkamaniacs the world over, Hogan was able to recover in time to challenge Earthquake to a grudge match at Summerslam '90.

This Nintendo Power cover commemorates how, using the power of a Super Nintendo controller, Hogan was able to overcome his husky opponent and restore the natural balance of U.S.-Canadian foreign relations.

Please note that Hulk's atomic legdrop is not a move that can actually be performed in WWF Super Wrestlemania.

Also: CD ROM TECH UPDATE! Nintendo Power's investigative journalists ripped the lid off the space-age technology known as "CD ROM." Too bad no Nintendo console has ever incorporated it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Things I Learned While Playing... RUSH 'N ATTACK!

Who says that video games aren't educational? This video series seeks to prove that valuable knowledge can be gained from every game. So sit back and prepare to enter the 8-Bit University!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Top 5 Nintendo Power Covers: #5: Super Mario Bros. 2

Last month, gamers everywhere were saddened by Ars Technica's report that Nintendo was ceasing publication of the venerable Nintendo Power magazine after more than 20 years of hard-hitting, unbiased Nintendo coverage.

Sure, the journalism industry is hurting, but this was still a shock. Now where will gamers go for Classified Information? Where will we see the further adventures of Nestor? And how will we live without the monthly list of the favorite 20 games of Nintendo retailers?? These questions may forever remain unanswered.

In the meantime, let's look back at the best Nintendo Power covers of all time; the ones that got you so excited about video games that you checked your mailbox every day when you were a kid.


The first-ever Nintendo Power cover, from 1988, is still one of the best. This was the era before concept art, meaning that magazine publishers had to get a little more creative with the visuals for their covers. In this case: clay figurines!

If you didn't know any better, you'd think Mario was the villain here, what with his demonic, curling mustache, his wicked grin, his pallid demeanor, and the unhinged look in his eyes. Meanwhile, Wart looks like he just woke up from a nap and is mildly irritated that somebody raided his carrot patch.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Badass Box Art of the Week: M.U.L.E.

Sometimes video game box art is so completely badass that it demands you purchase the game even though you may have never heard of the title or even play video games at all! Only these boxes have earned the right to be honored with the title of Badass Box Art of the Week!


If this box could talk it would say, "Hey aliens, I brought two things to this crap stink planet of yours: my space horse Gary and a fist packed full of Freedom! Now bow down before me while my hair blows majestically in the cosmic wind."

Only the most badass astronaut of all time leaves his space craft wearing his astro suit buttoned halfway down, and this guy isn't going to let some damn helmet get in the way of his flowing 1970s Chuck Norris hair.

The name of this game is an acronym, and what it might stand for is a complete mystery. I for one firmly believe that it stands for Moustache Users Love Explosions.

-Dusty

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Murder She Wrote Recaps: S1E4: It's a Dog's Life

A nonsensical script, incomprehensible acting, and completely indecipherable editing combine to leave this episode unable to be codified by the human brain in any logical way. It made so little sense that I legitimately wondered if my house had a carbon monoxide leak.

It didn't.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Are You Serious?!?! Episode One: Ninja Gaiden

Video games are full of moments that make you throw your hands in the air and scream "Are You Serious?!?!" This series of videos highlights some of those rage-inducing levels that made you consider pouring bleach into your NES.


Anybody that has spent hours playing Ninja Gaiden knows that this game is full of extremely annoying platforming moments. This is, after all, the only game that makes you fight a hawk, a cheetah, an out-of-work prizefighter, a pirate, a knife-throwing 50s greaser, and a hatchet-wielding psychopath all at once! These enemies are also set to re-spawn at a relentless rate!

                          

Friday, August 31, 2012

Top 5 NES Story Premises: #1: Bad Dudes


Every storytelling medium has its watershed creations. The works of art that made quantum leaps forward in sophistication. Influential achievements that informed everything that followed. For books, there was Homer's Iliad. For movies, Citizen Kane. For comics, Watchmen.

And for video games, there is Bad Dudes.



When this swollen-faced presidential handler appeared on television screens in 1989, he ripped the lid off of video game storytelling. His message was terse, even blunt. When the president is in danger, there's no time to dick around. And when things get so dire that your only hope to defeat president-stealing ninjas is to turn to random street toughs and their undeniable fighting ability, you know the stakes are through the roof.

Bad Dudes made men out of boys and men out of girls. It was a game about confronting the hard truths of grown-up life. Sometimes life doesn't go your way. Sometimes the odds are stacked against you. And sometimes the president gets kidnapped by ninjas.

There comes a time when every young NES gamer has to look in the mirror and ask that one crucial question:

"Am I a bad enough dude to rescue the president?"

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Badass Box Art of the Week: Action 52

Sometimes video game box art is so completely badass that it demands you purchase the game even though you may have never heard of the title or even play video games at all! Only these boxes have earned the right to be honored with the title of Badass Box Art of the Week!


Are you ready for the ULTIMATE CHALLENGE? Can you play through 52 undoubtedly terrible games without murdering your family?!? Yes? Then let the non-stop action mayhem commence!  This week's installment of Badass Box Art of Week brings you Action 52! The only game on the planet to receive the Action Seal of Quality Assurance!

There is no doubt in my mind that the mullet-sporting kid on the box was completely unaware of what he was getting himself into when he jammed this cart into his NES. No one could have predicted that an onslaught of ninjas, dragons, and eyeballs with robot arms would come screaming out of his microwave shaped TV box. Judging by the sheer terror on his face, he had no clue that a tentacle and creepy monster hand would attempt to snatch him from his cozy living room.

But there are a couple more things that really make this box badass.
  1. The patriotic claim that this game was made in AMERICA! This is not something commonly seen on NES games. But neither are jeans that are neatly rolled up above your sweet kicks. America!  
  2. The extremely bold suggested retail price printed right on the box. $199.00 is a lot of cash to shell out for a game that doesn't play on the NEO GEO. I enjoy the choice to place (U.S. $) under the suggested price as if to say, "Yes, that's right, my friend, it's U.S. dollars listed up there. Not no Japan dollars!"  America!!  
-Dusty

Friday, August 17, 2012

Top 5 NES Story Premises: #2: Blaster Master


For all its jumping tanks, pause-powered grenades and mutated abominations, Blaster Master boils down to one thing: the love between a boy and his frog. It goes a little something like this:

Boy meets frog.
Boy taps on glass.
Boy loves frog.
Frog escapes.
Boy gives chase.
Frog gets first taste of freedom
Frog heads straight for radioactive waste left in boy's yard.
Frog irradiated.
Frog grows to grotesque size.
Frog jumps down massive hole in deathtrap yard.
Boy follows.
Boy finds super tank at pit's bottom.
Boy suits up.
TIME TO SHOOT STUFF!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Murder She Wrote Recaps: S1E3: Birds of a Feather

 
Jessica Fletcher travels to San Francisco and is surprised to discover that her niece's fiance is a crossdresser (but only professionally). Jess solves the murder he gets framed for, and she, the police chief, and the other exonerated murder suspects are the only attendees of the subsequent wedding.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Top 5 NES Story Premises: #3: Double Dragon


The great thing about Double Dragon's premise is that it really boils down the idea of conflict to its essence. No aliens, magical powers, high technology, historical figures, nothing.

Just this: Some guy socked your girlfriend in the gut, threw her over his shoulder and walked away with her. Whatcha gonna do about it, tough guy?

By the sound of it, all her ribs have been shattered.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Real Advice From Mr. T #4


"Would Calvin Klein, Bill Blass or Gloria Vanderbilt wear clothes with your name on it? No! So you table the label, and wear your own name!"

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Worst Wrestlers Ever: Reno Riggins

Call them ham 'n eggers, call them jobbers, or call them "wimpy guys," like we did when we were kids. Just don't call them winners.

The world of '80s and '90s pro wrestling was filled with matches in which accomplished superstars would pound the crap out of losers. In The Worst Wrestlers Ever, we shine the spotlight on the grapplers who just plain weren't any good.

Today's honoree: Reno Riggins.


With his bushy mullet and lack of offensive firepower, one might first mistake Reno Riggins for the legendary Dale Wolfe. However, upon closer inspection, the two couldn't be more different. For one thing, Riggins had a flashy fashion sense (see above photo) on par with the likes of Koko B. Ware or Marty Jannetty.

Neon jacket over plum tights? Riggins obviously didn't spend any more time selecting his wardrobe than he did learning how not to perform any offensive maneuvers during a match.

His clash of styles with Rick "The Model" Martel, who, as befit his second career, favored a more restrained cardigan-and-sunglasses look, led to an epic confrontation in which Martel dominated while Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura debated the finer points of Harvard fashion.



The other difference between Reno Riggins and Dale Wolfe? Dale is a down-home country boy, but Riggins is an intellectual.


Perhaps seeing how Ted DiBiase's friendship with Donald Trump paid dividends for the Million-Dollar Man's WWF career, Riggins took it upon himself to read Trump's beloved 1990 tome of business secrets, Surviving at the Top, while wearing a fancy robe.

Unfortunately for Reno, this was a case of putting the cart before the horse––he would have been better served reading a book called Getting to the Top in the First Place or Coming to Terms With Your Place at the Bottom.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Murder She Wrote Recaps: S1E2: Deadly Lady


Jessica Fletcher invites a man she knows is only pretending to be a hobo into her home and gives him her dead husband's favorite pipe. Later, that man, who was in actuality a cosmetics mogul who'd been faking his death, is murdered for real by a "fortune hunter" played by Tom Zarek from Battlestar Galactica.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Top 5 NES Story Premises: #4: Spiritual Warfare


Most NES games stay away from heavy subject matter. Religion, starvation, apartheid––this is the kind of stuff that's swept under the rug while games focus on high fantasy, cute animals or head jumpin'.

Spiritual Warfare is different. Developed by Wisdom Tree, the studio known for creating unlicensed, religious Nintendo games (because when you're talking about Jesus, there's no need to follow the rules!), Spiritual Warfare paints a terrifying picture of a world without God.

Not an actual screen shot.
All the residents of your hometown have been corrupted and turned into horrific, God-defying demons. As the last true believer, you're tasked with smiting your former neighbors with holy fruit, collecting their souls, and answering Bible trivia questions posed by a sketchy-looking, bowtied angel.

Seriously, is this guy related to Zebediah from Totally Rad?
Along the way, you'll wear the Breastplate of Righteousness, battle people who like to drink at local bars, and slay proponents of other real-world religions.

Spiritual Warfare, you don't shy away from the horror of holy wars. We salute you.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Top 5 NES Story Premises: #5: Totally Rad


The intro of Totally Rad sees two teenagers, Allison and Jake, seeking out the mentorship of a prestidigitator named Zebediah in order to learn his "totally rad magic." Their judgment is questionable. If his name alone didn't scream "hillbilly perv" at them, his thousand-yard stare, neckbeard and unflinching smile should have been clear warning signals. The teens speak in a strong valley girl dialect, however, so they may have been easy targets.

"I think he's totally decent!" Bad call, Jake.
Zebediah proceeds to ogle the teens, batting his eyelashes while putting them through a rigorous training regimen––"It's all in the legs!" he tells them.

Why does Zebediah's hat have a "P" on it?
After a bit of back and forth between the teens over Jake's wimpiness, he gets attacked by surprise. See the events unfold for yourself below.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Murder She Wrote Recaps: Pilot Episode

"A clue!"
Recently widowed mystery novelist Jessica Fletcher finds herself embroiled in a real-life murder. Naturally, the killer is her new boyfriend, a businessman who fancies himself a modern-day Count of Monte Cristo.

More importantly, the show wants you to know that Jessica is an active senior. She's jogging, biking, or waving vigorously for at least 70 percent of the episode.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Precious Wrestling Memories: Sean Mooney's Performance Review

In recognition of Sean Mooney's recent promotion to weekend anchor at KVOA, Tuscon's NBC affiliate, let's look back at one of his early career lowlights: the time Bobby "The Brain" Heenan gave him negative feedback on his job as the host of the WWF Event Center.



Thankfully for the young anchor, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Hillbilly Jim were there to support him. Vince McMahon abstained from commenting on the matter.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Top 5 Most Confusing NES Bosses: Honorable Mention: Brain Golem

Brain Golem is the first boss in Life Force.


The first stage of the early NES shooter Life Force finds players piloting the famed Vic Venom starfighter from the Gradius series through a biological terrorzone called Bionic Germ.

At the end of the level, a normal, healthy-looking brain lies in wait for you. Makes sense; brains are the bosses of the human body, after all. After taking a few shots, the brain opens a single bloodshot eye. (Thank goodness it doesn't grow a second––taking advantage of its lack of depth perception is the key to beating this monster.)

Then things get weird. After taking a few more shots, it grows a weird blue arm that spins around helplessly because it's too short to reach you. The pathetic, futile effort almost makes you feel bad for Brain Golem. Almost.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Throwing the Controller: Electric, Poisonous Seaweed

In Throwing the Controller, we look back at the most infuriating enemies, levels and screwovers in NES history.


Few games excited the youth of 1989 as much as the NES adaptation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Upon popping the game into their consoles, gamers thrilled at being able to play as any of the four turtles, dropping into the sewers and battling Bebop and Rocksteady in order to rescue woman reporter April O'Neil.

Then came Stage 2.

April shows a solid grasp of the inverted pyramid reporting style.
Channel 4 News is going to need to make a correction for April's shoddy reporting, because those bombs were actually set up in the Hudson River, according to both Shredder's own TV report and the most unimpeachable source of all: the game's manual. Also, there are literally zero lakes in New York City. April should know this.


Looking at the situation here, you'd think that those electricity fields would be the most obvious danger to the turtles. That assumption couldn't be more wrong. The seaweed itself is either poisonous or electric. It's hard to tell which, because when you touch it you simply die, almost instantly.

TMNT may have been a dream game when it came out, but it's certainly not known for its great play control. It's very tough to make precise jumps and attacks. At first, I chalked that up to the natural difficulty that amphibious creatures like turtles would have on dry land. But they fare even worse in the river, which is supposedly their natural habitat. It's almost like they want to taste sweet seaweed death.

And don't think you can just take it slow and steady, inching through the danger. If you let that timer run out, it's game over completely.

Despite their excitement for this game, so many of my friends were so badly beaten into submission by this terrible level that they quit the game entirely.

At least the bombs weren't in a lake.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Top 5 Best Pro Wrestling Entrance Music: #1: All-American Boys

Before Jacques Rougeau joined the corps of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, he was a simple Qu├ębecois who dreamed of someday moving to the United States with his brother Raymond. Together, they formed the tag team combination known as the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers.





Pure genius. Remember how foreign wrestlers are all bad guys? The Fabulous Rougeaus were even worse, because they pretended to like the USA! Even though you could tell they totally didn't! They came to the ring waving tiny American flags and were announced as being "From Montreal, Canada, but soon to make their residence in the United States." Frankly, I'm starting to suspect that they'll never move here.

"We don't like heavy metal, we don't like rock 'n roll, all we like to listen to is Barry Manilow!"

The lyrics trash talk all the best parts of American culture: our long hair, our brawny men, and our hatred of preppies. The best line of the song, though, is when the Rougeaus threaten to continue speaking French even after they cross the border on their journey to Memphis to pick up American women. Not in my country, Jacques!

So the concept behind the song is amazing, but putting all that aside, what makes "All-American Boys" the top wrestling entrance theme of all time is that judged on its own merits, it's still an awesome '80s synth-pop track. Slap bass, a ripping guitar solo, androgynous background vocals during the chorus. That's a song any immigrant can be proud of.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Real Advice From Mr. T #3


"Just be yourself, play it cool, and let the chicks fall where they may!"

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Top 5 Best Pro Wrestling Entrance Music: #2: Jive Soul Bro

If you can get past the cringe-worthy stereotyping (a Fat Albert lookalike carrying a ghetto blaster? A bucket of fried chicken??) and the uncomfortably claustrophobic close-ups of Slick's mouth, "Jive Soul Bro" is a shockingly acceptable funk jam. The smooth bass work and understated sax perfectly complement the Slickster's, shall we say, enthusiastic vocals.



Also appreciated is that Slick took the time to choreograph hand motions for the chorus during his studio shoot. And check out the Big Wheel stunt at 2:45!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Top 5 Best Pro Wrestling Entrance Music: #3: Real American

"Real American" is probably the best-known wrestling entrance music of all time. Another amazing collaboration between Rick Derringer and Cyndi Lauper (listen to her soulful background vocal improvs late in the song!), this jam played Hulk Hogan out to the ring for the entirety of his WWF career.



"Real American" was originally recorded for the tag team combination of Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo, the U.S. Express. However, after they proved themselves unworthy of the song by losing the coveted tag team titles to a couple of dirty foreigners, they were deported and "Real American" was stripped from them and given to the true embodiment of the red, white and blue: the Hulkster, seen below in a rare studio outtake recording the song's rhythm guitar track.


The sheer patriotism of these power chords helped Hogan defeat many of the champions of America's greatest national foes: Iran's Iron Sheik, Russia's Nikolai Volkoff, and Canada's Earthquake.