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.

Monday, May 7, 2012

This Is a Real Comic Book Character: Hypno-Hustler

Antoine Delsoin had a love of two things: disco music and hypnosis. It was inevitable that he'd combine them to become Hypno-Hustler, the disco scene's most entrancing front man and super criminal.

His third love: goggles.
Thanks to stylish disco-in-outer-space jumpsuit and his skill at playing a guitar that can only have been stolen from Prince, Hypno-Hustler and his backing band (the entire act was known as Hypno-Hustler and the Mercy Killers) drew large crowds to New York City nightclubs, where he would hypnotize them with highly specific sonic frequencies and then abscond with their money and precious jewels.

Also hypnotizing: the mega-cleave shown off by the Mercy Killers.
Knowing that his hypnosis could be foiled by a hero simply wearing earplugs, Hypno-Hustler devised a cunning ace in the hole: boots that emit knockout gas.

How he planned to protect himself from the gas, which would naturally float up toward his own nostrils, is unclear.
Seemingly oblivious to the effect his super villain career might have on his band's prospects of securing high-profile bookings, Hypno-Hustler brazenly refused to concoct different personae for his life of crime and his life of jive. He was nothing if not a confident man, considering that his name also quite clearly lays out his method of operations.

Distressed and shamed by his routine defeats at the hands of Spider-Man, Hypno-Hustler later joined a Villains Anonymous group. It's unknown whether he feels similar shame due to his heavy involvement in the disco scene.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Top 5 Best Pro Wrestling Entrance Music: #4: Grab Them Cakes

"Grab Them Cakes" is the legendary collaboration between perennial pro wrestling fan-favorite Junkyard Dog and Vicki Sue Robinson, the singer behind the classic disco jam "Turn the Beat Around."

As seen above, the song received enough radio airplay to win JYD and Vicki an appearance on American Bandstand, with Rick Derringer on guitar and Cyndi Lauper on bass!

The song's lyrics reveal how JYD developed what he describes as a new dance, but is actually a flimsy excuse for him to place his hands on some fine booty. Throughout the song, Vicki repeatedly asks "Is that all you do?" as though she can't believe she doesn't have to do anything other than step to the left, step to the right, and then get ass-grabbed.