Games Meet Metal: July 2011

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Monday, July 25, 2011

8-bit Metal Mondays-If You Didn't See It Coming, You're Blind

So, Amy Winehouse was found dead late last week. As someone else pointed out to me, that's gonna be the least surprising autopsy ever. Now, Amy wasn't anywhere near metal music, but she sure partied like one,  and she had the disposable income to quadruple the usual poor metal guy usage. Hell, she was probably one of the few people that would make Keith Richards say, "Slow down girl. That's a little much."

In other obvious news, I'm still seething over Exodus's five-song set at the Slayer/Zombie show this past Friday. TOO SHORT! TOO SHORT! Yeesh, what a bummer. At least the dual oldies of Toxic Waltz and Bonded by Blood were played, but it just wasn't enough. Now, I need more Exodus! Thankfully, Youtube can give some bleepy goodness. Here's Toxic Waltz.

Hell On Earth: The Riff Concert Review

Hey, haven't done one of these in awhile!

On the backing of a $10 lawn ticket, I ventured out into some major shitty weather to view two of my favorite live acts of all time. However, the show wasn't as bombastic as I was hoping.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Give Props To The Kacho!

If you've spent any amount of time looking up video games on Youtube, then you've run into the millions of Let's Play videos. The premise is simple: a person or two captures their game play while offering running commentary. While the system is all well and good, I have one gargantuan problem with it: all those videos are FUCKING BORING!!! It's the same reason why I just can't listen to a director's commentary on a dvd: it just sounds like self gloating. The guys in these Let's Play videos have, for the most part, played said game into infinity. Then, to watch him play it and extol to the world is rambling commentary just makes me sleepy. Or just turn it off and play a damn game myself.

Then there's Retro Game Master, a Japan-imported show that Kotaku began airing a few weeks back. The show follows the same premise as a Let's Play video, but with a few twists. First off, the show's main game player, Shinya Arino, doesn't even know what game he's gonna play until he gets to the set. Plus these games are old school HARD!!! Like, the ridiculous kinds of hard. Remember Ninja Gaiden on the NES? Yeah, that level of hard. Finally, Shinya (or you can call him "THE KACHO" for boss) offers his commentay, but it's usually him teasing himself about how bad he's playing.

Yes, THAT is the main draw of the show. With a typical Let's Play video, you know what the outcome is gonna be. With Retro Game Master, Shinya's success is always in question, thus adding to the drama and entertainment. Can he pass the next level with no lives? Will he have to ask one of the available AD's to offer assistance? Will he rage quit? No! The Kacho does not rage quit! He keeps fighting the fight until he succeeds, or until the show has run it's length for the day. Yes, The Kacho doesn't always win, but he's never a dick about it.

To catch up on the series just click this link and get started. I suggest the Ninja Gaiden and the just-aired Clock Tower episodes.

Monday, July 18, 2011

8-bit Metal Mondays: He? She? Zuh?

I was into Life of Agony way back in the day when they first released River Runs Red. That album was just a tour-de-force of teen angst and legit anger that most grunge bands of the day could only wish to obtain. As was my fate, I wasn't able to see the band live until they had broken up and reformed for a reunion tour. I was thrilled to see them, and they were awesome! One thing did kind of cross my attention. lead singer Keith Caputo came off as real, well...... feminine. Like Mick Jaggar and Steven Tyler were looking at him and saying that dude looks like a lady.

Fast forward to today, and Keith proved me right. The man is taking a plunge very few ever take and is going in for gender reassignment. Yep, the guy's getting his schmekie replaced with a hoo haa. He's already calling himself a pre-op transsexual and is performing on stage with Life of Agony as a woman. I'm so not surprised at this turn. His past performances so hinted at this, and I say good for him. It takes some balls (soon to be replaced by equally gutsy ovaries) to admit to the world that you're becoming a woman in every facet possible.

I'd show some bleepy love for the soon-to-be lady, but Youtube doesn't have and 8-bit remixes of Life of Agony songs. Denied! In the meantime, here's one of my fave songs from them The Underground.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mortal Kombat: It's Good To Be Back

Having recently played the rather fantastic Mortal Kombat reboot on PS3 last month, I can safely say that my hitherto dormant MK fanboy has been revived at long last. It featured the most fluid and intuitive gameplay in an MK game to date. It also provided well needed and long overdue jolt of MK nostalgia that hit like an overdose of caffeine. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I immediately went online and ordered used copies of the first 3 games and Shaolin Monks from Amazon. I haven't been this enthusiastic about the franchise in what feels like an eternity, and it feels great.

If you were a kid in the early/mid 90's, you were probably a fan of Mortal Kombat. Or at the very least, you knew what it was and were even familiar with such iconic characters as Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Goro, and Johnny Cage. Don't even try to deny it. When I was in elementary, even my teachers and the girls in my class (who weren't exactly fond of video games in the first place) were either familiar with it or just as intoxicated by the series as the rest of us were. In its prime, Mortal Kombat was as controversial (culminating in the introduction of the ESRB ratings board) as it was rabidly adored by a great deal of Western gamers. It was the closest we Americans ever came to having our own Dragon Quest in terms of widespread popularity and mainstream appeal. It's influence on gaming can still be felt in modern game design and philosophy.

However, nothing lasts forever. The MK series eventually became a victim of its own success, and over-exposure (compounded with some truly dreadful spinoffs and movie adaptations) caused its popularity to dwindle significantly over time. By the end of the 90's, MK was all but irrelevant. Decent home console exclusive updates like Deadly Alliance helped bring some of the spark back, but it was too little, too late in the eyes of many of us who had already weaned themselves off the franchise. Fast and fluid Japanese fighters like Soul Calibur and Tekken had already eclipsed any latent fondness people still had for it.

I remember playing the first MK on the Sega Genesis, and not thinking much of it at first. Yet it gradually embedded itself in my mind and heart as one of the most memorable and unique experiences I had experienced in my 7 or so years on Earth. It wasn't even the gore factor that enticed me, but rather the outlandish and extremely grim twist on the typical Bruce Lee: Enter the Dragon kung-fu tropes. At the time and even today, there was literally nothing else out there like it.

Mortal Kombat 2 expanded and refined what the original had brought to the table. More characters, more finishing moves, and a tinge of black humor to compliment the dark and morbid overtones. The first time I played it was at an arcade when me and my family were vacationing in Cape Cod. Of course, I completely sucked at it, struggling to get past the fourth match. I would probably ascribe my lackluster gameplay skills to the sense of awe and wonder I felt when playing it in the arcades if I wasn't just as terrible at playing the game today. With every subsequent encounter I had with the machine, it was flooded with high school and college aged kids who were significantly older than I was. I wouldn't have another chance with it until my parents bought me the Sega Genesis version.

A couple years later, MK3 made its way to arcades and home consoles across America. It was a jarring, albeit enjoyable experience which I'll go into in a second. The first time I got my hands on this one was at my local Sports n Stuff arcade. I found it peculiar that nobody else was there playing on the machine, relative to the mobs of people crowding the MK 2 units a few years back. Although it was hard for me to blame them at the time, because it certainly wasn't the MK I was familiar with. For whatever reason, they decided to eschew the oriental motifs and replace them with some weird steampunk/X-Men ripoff. You couldn't even recognize half of the characters in the game. I remember asking myself why there were robots and cookie cutter riot squad cops in a game that was usually about ninjas and sorcerers and four armed monstrosities duking it out in forests of sentient trees and pools of acid. It was a good game and a lot of fun, but it felt somewhat "off" so to speak.

In 1998, MK4 hit arcades and was a rather lukewarm experience. It was the franchises first foray into 3D, and made some concessions to earlier titles by giving it more of an Asian aesthetic while retaining the modern feel of MK3. I was enamored with it for about a year or so, and then quickly got bored. Of course, it didn't help that the abysmal MK: Annihilation hit theaters around the same time and helped to eviscerate any interest I had left in MK. And with that, it was all over.

Of course, my inner MK fan was eventually revived. It sure is good to be back.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thine Eardrums Erupting-The New Riff CD Review Format!

As things have changed in my own life greatly over the past year, so must things things change here at GMM. Reviews have always been a mainstay here, but we've all been having our personal lives affect what and when we can write. For some it's additions to the family, others it's forming and touring with bands, and for others it's an asston of moving (points to self). To help remedy this, I felt a bit of a format change was in order. While typing out a five-to-six paragraph on the epicness of Band X's new cd may be fulfilling, it is also time consuming when you also have blast through the latest video game. My 3ds copy of Zelda is feeling pretty unloved right now as a result. 

Thus, I offer this: out of all the promos I get here at GMM headquarters every week or so, I'll gank the best of the bunch and give my quickie opinions on each, in my own silly way. Quantity and quality in one place!
Enough yammering from me, let's showcase some awesome metal!

Monday, July 11, 2011

8-Bit Metal Mondays: Drugs Are Bad, M'kay?

Okay, so you're a habitual oxycodone user. You're feeming bad. real bad. So bad, that you decide to commit possible terrorism and fake a bomb at a pharmacy just to get your fix. 350cc's in this case. Then, you hijack a taxi, thus putting hostage taker on your rap sheet, and have him drive you to your destination. That destination happens to be an arena where Soundgarden is playing. You're not there to see the show, though. You're actually the bassist for the opening band, and that band is Coheed and Cambria!

Holy shit man! I know drugs make you do stupid things, but to threaten a bomb detonation and leave such an obvious trail to lead cops right to you is pretty insane to begin with. Cap that with being in a rather popular band in which drugs are probably pretty easy to come by, and the amount of crazy just goes into overdrive. If anything, THIS is the perfect reason to show kids that drugs really are bad. This dude now has multiple felony accounts, and is kissing his multi-platinum music career bye bye, all over pills.

On the plus side, Coheed is probably looking for a bassist right now, so get those demo tapes ready! You start your practicing by listening to some bleepy tunes. Here's Welcome Home.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Duke Nukem Forever: The Riff Review

Thirteen fucking years. I've known dogs and cats that have come and gone. I've known several presidents. I've seen an endless amount of evil metal shows, and 50% of those bands I've seen multiple times in that span. I've experienced intense grief, several console generations, and the joy of boobies. What I'm getting at is that a lot of shit can happen in thirteen years. For Duke Nukem, this meant getting passed from developer to developer in the hopes that someone can finish gaming's favorite one-off joke. In the end, it took the crash of Duke's parent company, 3D Realms, and the financial backing of Take Two Games and the programming skills of Gearbox Software to finally bring DNF to computers as well as consoles.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

8-bit Metal Mondays on Wednesday!

Whoa, what a torturous week. After doing some financial paperwork, it became pretty apparent that I spent a bit much on my E3 trip. Nothing to claim bankruptcy over, but my future video game investments were suddenly in some doubt. To make ends meet, I offered to fill in a bunch of shifts last week, thus the lack of articles on the site last week. Hey, when you need some moolah, you have to put some stuff aside. I also have to start planning for next year's trips to PAX and E3. Now that I have some traveling experience under my hat, I can probably plan cheaper trips!

On the music front, I've just started listening to Jamey Jasta's first ever solo album, and it's not too bad. I kept hearing that it was throw away B-sides from Hatebreed and Kingdom of Sorrow, but this has its own vibe going. I'm only on about the 4th track right now, but I'm really digging it. Thoughts on it hopefully by Friday. In the meantime, how about some bleepy Hatebreed to keep you occupied? Here's Live for This.

News from the Machine Head crew!

After what seems like decades, Machine Head will be releasing a new album called Unto the Locust on September 27th. They've been working on new material since November 2010 and they started recording the album in April. To whet our appetites, check out the first single "Locust"

And in true metal band fashion, these boys will be busy on tour this summer. You can see them perform at the Rockstar Mayhem Festival with Godsmack, Disturbed and Megadeth. Here are the dates:

  • July 9, 2011 San Bernardino, California
  • July 10, 2011 Mountain View, California
  • July 12, 2011 Auburn, Washington
  • July 13, 2011 Nampa, Idaho
  • July 15, 2011 Phoenix, Arizona
  • July 16, 2011 Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • July 17, 2011 Greenwood Village, Colorado
  • July 19, 2011 Maryland Heights, Missouri
  • July 20, 2011 Cincinnati, Ohio
  • July 22, 2011 Mansfield, Massachusetts
  • July 23, 2011 Montreal, Quebec
  • July 24, 2011 Hartford, Connecticut
  • July 26, 2011 Corfu, New York
  • July 27, 2011 Holmdel Township, New Jersey
  • July 29, 2011 Burgettstown, Pennsylvania
  • July 30, 2011 Bristow, Virginia
  • July 31, 2011 Camden, New Jersey
  • August 2, 2011 Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • August 3, 2011 Raleigh, North Carolina
  • August 5, 2011 Tinley Park, Illinois
  • August 6, 2011 Clarkston, Michigan
  • August 7, 2011 Noblesville, Indiana
  • August 9, 2011 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • August 10, 2011 Dallas, Texas
  • August 12, 2011 Atlanta, Georgia
  • August 13, 2011 Tampa, Florida
  • August 14, 2011 West Palm Beach, Florida