Saturday, June 30, 2007
Oh, that Jenny Lewis. Gone are the carefree days of making out with Fred Savage and getting felt up by creepy old men. J-Lew's all grown'd up now, and she's a rockstar.
But before I continue on with this review, I feel we should all get something out of our systems first.
Now that that's out of the way, I'll continue. I'm normally not a fan of recently released music, but last year, this album really caught my attention. I'll admit, I wouldn't have given a frog's fat ass about Jenny Lewis had she not been in the greatest film of all time, The Wizard (now available on DVD!) starring the adorable Fred Savage. I hope Ms. Lewis isn't resentful about starring in a Fred Savage movie about Nintendo, because I guarantee you it helped her career more than it ever could've hurt it.
Anyways, I just finally got around to purchasing this album, and I'm pleasantly surprised. The vocals are hauntingly beautiful. I mean, it's the stuff that will make the hair on your balls stand up and slap you in the face. The entire vibe of the record is just beautiful. It's like country, without the twangy vocals that, sorry to say, went out of style long ago.
When I first popped this album in, I wasn't really sure what to expect. It was either going to blow, or it was going to be fantastic. Now, there are a couple of stinkers, but the majority of the album is absolutely delightful. I'll review a few highlights.
The album opens with a track called Run Devil Run. Albeit a tad boring, it's certainly a good opener. The album really kicks off with The Big Guns, which harkens back to bouncy folk music of the 60s and 70s, such as The Beatles' Rubber Soul.
The next song, Rise Up With Fists, definitely has a country sound. I'm reminded of greats such as Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn.
Next is Happy, which is instantly in my top 10 songs ever. It's just heavenly. It reminds me of the LonLon Ranch theme from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This song must be heard to be believed, although the end of the song seems to borrow a few guitar melodies from Willie Nelson's Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain. But hey, it's a good sound, why the hell not?
Next up is The Charging Sky and Melt Your Heart, followed by You Are What You Love. All three are just peachy. The title track, Rabbit Fur Coat, is one of the only two stinkers on the album. It's cute the first couple of times, but it gets incredibly boring.
It seems they were ballsy enough to cover the Travelling Wilburys song, Handle with Care. I'm sorry, but this is one of those songs that shouldn't be covered, ever. J-Lew and the Watson Twins could've sang the entire song themselves and kept up with the theme of a female driven album, but no, they had to bring in a couple of "all-star" indie dipshits who are very obviously trying to replicate Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan. It can't be done, but they get points for trying.
Anyway, minor gripe aside, next is Born Secular, a smokey bar room piano ballad, and It Wasn't Me, which does a good job of closing the album. The record ends with a fantastic reprise of Happy, and it couldn't have ended a better way. All in all, I give this album 9 out of 10 Power Gloves. Best album of 2006, although that ain't saying much.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Today I'm covering something very special, in that it didn't come out with the current flood of Transformers merchandise.
In the Transformers universe, the Decepticon totem pole usually has Megatron and Starscream as 1 and 2. However, number three is no slouch himself, and has a relatively strong following among fans. More than maybe any Transformer, Soundwave had the coolest design, in that his "in disguise" form was that of a cassette player. Doesn't sound too lethal at first, until you realize the tape deck contains Soundwave's ruthless little assassins, Ravage and Lazerbeak.
Takara and Hasbro captured his look well in the original toy, but almost twenty years later, it's become relatively impossible to find that Soundwave in decent condition, and at an affordable price.
Thankfully TRU and Hasbro started re-releasing the original G1 (Generation 1) figures, and Soundy here is the latest.
Click on the pics for a closer view of the packaging.
As you can see, the packaging has changed from the original, but I like it. The design was made with collectors in mind, because of the gatefold cover, and clear window with velcro fasteners. In case you're wondering, Soundwave can be re-packaged with relative ease, should you decide to display him in the box.
Me, I'm an opener, so I wasted no time in busting him out of the package. It's hard to tell from the pics there, but he's packed in double sided clamshell, so you're gonna have a big task ahead of you opening him up.
Oh yes, the included transforming instructions read like a thesis on quantum physics, but don't let that discourage you. Though I do find it discouraging to learn that my manual dexterity isn't what it was in 1987.
Yes, it's so easy, even the flamingly homosexual Geico Caveman could do it, assuming he isn't pre-occupied with knawing on dick.
And oh yes Ravage and Lazerrbeak in robot
...and tape mode
Wait a minute, I got him put together, transformed, and yet I have this nagging feeling I missed something.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
The Target Exclusive Movie Version
There it is. Did you know that it can cost you upwards to 50 dollars to get the big size Optimus Prime figure from the upcoming movie? That's not gonna happen. I love you OP, but unless you are a G1 version, 40-50 dollars isn't gonna happen.
Jesus, that's how fucking awesome Prime is. Look at those fucking stats.
As you can see, it's not huge, which I prefer, it's much easier to display this way. It's fucking sweet. Sure, the flames are kind of lame, but big deal.
Truck mode. Yeah. The smoke stacks turn into weapons, which is totally awesome.
There you fucking go. Shut the door. A little man pops in to make it look like someone is driving. Then the door opens, and he reappears. FUCK YEAH!
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Okay, so this one isn't a tie in with the movie, and I got it months ago, but it sets the mood. These are the Titanium series figures. Each one is of a famous Autobot or Decpticon, and fully transforms and is made of the traditional die cast car metal. It's heavy, and has a cool base. Megatron here is modeled after his phase as a tank, which is awesome because tanks are awesome. I'm still surprised they didn't take that route in the Transformers movie, but whatever. It's an awesome figure and worth the 15 bucks I spent on it.
Bumblebee Vs. Barricade. The two pack. Pretty good stuff here. Tradition morphing toys featuring two recognizable characters as they appear in the movie. Barricade is a Saleen Mustang Police Car, and for whatever reason, Bumblebee is now a Camaro. It appears to be a '72 one at that. But he's yellow and black, so it's a partial win there. I guess making him look like a 2005 VW Bug would have been too goofy in a movie about aliens from Mars disguising themselves as everyday vehicles. Barricade is my favorite for three reason, it's a Saleen Mustang Police Car, it's easy to transform, and his push bumper pops open for a little decepticon to pop out of. Oh, and my Bumblebee doesn't transform into car mode correctly. Fuckers.
Last up is the best Transformers tie-in ever created. Seriously, it doesn't get any better than:
SOFTIMUS PRIME! Dear mother fucking God. Look at that little guy. He's adorable. He transforms, he's cuddly, and he's based on G1 OP, seriously, how much more awesome do you have to get?
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Okay, so this clearly is a pic I got from ebay, but because my scanner is a POS, I was left with little option. Yes, wittle bitty Optimus and Ravage. Anyone that knows me is familiar with my Optimus obsession, which I've habored for the better part of 22 years, so this purchase was a no brainer.
This pic of the back carding is actually mine, and shows you the other available sets. What it doesnt' show is the Optimus vs. Unicron set, and a Walmart exclusive set, which is currently the only way to get Megatron.
Adorable isn't a word I like to throw around a lot, but damnit, that's what we got here. Ravage who was a cold blooded killer in G1, looks more like a sassy kitten, and my boy Optimus looks like a bossy 8 year old.
The only negative I can find is that they don't transform, which would've been nice. But only at 4 something a set, I can overlook that.
Monday, June 04, 2007
Sponsored by NEC's TurboGrafx 16 - We were on Video Power! Twice!
It's no secret that I'm a biased, cock sucking SNES fanboy. And I loved the NES, more than life itself. But the SNES perfected everything we were introduced to in the 8-bit era. The SNES controller was better than the NES controller. 16-bit graphics were better than 8-bit. The library was bigger and bolder. The games were deeper. The SNES could very well be the most timeless gaming system ever.
But something happened when the N64 was released. The controller was... different. The graphics were beautiful for its time, but fuzzy and blocky today, while 16-bit hasn't seemed to age that badly. While the games were deeper than ever, the library was extremely lacking. My point is, there will never be another system quite like the SNES. The 16-bit era will live on more vibrantly than any other gaming generation.
So I shall now present, my 100 favorite SNES games. This list is not scientific, and has been a constant work in progress. It has been in an ever changing state, and may be forever. It's hard to rank 100 of anything, but here they are... for the moment. If you disagree, that's awesome. It probably means your mom wasn't smoking blunts while your dad's brother was fucking her with you still in the womb.
100. Faceball 2000
98. RoboCop 3
97. Battle Cars
96. Yoshi's Safari
95. Killer Instinct
94. Street Fighter Alpha 2
93. Judge Dredd
92. Beavis and Butt-head
91. Final Fight 3
90. RoboCop versus the Terminator
89. WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game
88. Spider-Man and the X-Men: Arcade's Revenge
87. Front Mission: Gun Hazard
86. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters
85. Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers
83. Spider-Man & Venom: Maximum Carnage
82. Super Empire Strikes Back
81. Fatal Fury Special
80. Captain America & The Avengers
79. SimCity 2000
78. Fatal Fury 2
77. Street Fighter II: The World Warrior
76. Wild Snake
75. Super Tennis
74. Mortal Kombat II
73. Spider-Man: The Animated Series
71. Super Return of the Jedi
70. Mega Man 7
69. Breath of Fire 2
67. Arkanoid: Doh it Again
66. Super R-Type
65. Illusion of Gaia
64. California Games 2
63. Cool Spot
62. Harvest Moon
61. Front Mission
60. Mega Man X3
59. Final Fantasy Mystic Quest
58. Total Carnage
56. Final Fight 2
55. Earthworm Jim 2
54. Battletoads in Battlemaniacs
53. Demon's Crest
52. Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!
51. Super Star Wars
50. Mario Paint
48. X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse
47. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
46. Wolfenstein 3D
44. Super Smash TV
43. Mega Man X2
42. Fatal Fury
41. NBA Jam Tournament Edition
40. Gradius III
39. R-Type 3
38. Mortal Kombat III
36. Breath of Fire
35. Secret of Evermore
34. Super Bomberman
32. Sunset Riders
31. Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts
30. Earthworm Jim
29. ActRaiser 2
28. Secret of Mana
26. Tetris Attack
25. Donkey Kong Country
24. Final Fight
22. Super Punch Out!!
21. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time
20. Star Fox
19. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
17. Castlevania: Dracula X
16. Tecmo Super Bowl
15. Super Double Dragon
14. Mega Man X
12. Zombies Ate My Neighbors
10. Contra III: The Alien Wars
16-bit Contra, baby! Ah, just a mere mention of the word "Contra 3" brings back sweet, fuzzy memories of warm afternoons with friends... blistered fingers... broken controllers... injured cats... mothers with black eyes... holes in walls... goddammit, FUCK YOU, RED FALCON. Fuck you.
9. Super Metroid
Metroid was awesome on the NES. It was made portable on the Game Boy, with great results. But Super Metroid defined every aspect of the series. When you were a cootie-fearing, comic book loving boy, Samus was one chick you could hang with.
8. Street Fighter II Turbo
There were Mortal Kombat kids, and then there were Street Fighter kids. Mortal Kombat kids were usually hyperactive Ritalin-popping smartasses who watched their 'Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Karate Club: Featuring Jason Frank as Tommy' VHS tape every afternoon. But us Street Fighter kids, we were different. We could appreciate a good fight. We knew sportsmanship. We could shake hands after a game. Yeah, we could also get into fistfights over Ken's fucking cheap uppercut. But Street Fighter II: Turbo still holds up as one of many gamers' favorite fighting games.
7. Super Mario Kart
I fondly remember the first time I played this... and totally wiped out my sister with a turtle shell. From that moment on, my life would never be the same.
6. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
"MARIO?! RPG?!?! What the fuck is an RPG?", eleven-year-old me said aloud after reading his newest issue of Nintendo Power one rainy summer afternoon. This game breathed fresh life into the genre, with its quirky characters and timed-hits. Mario RPG is absolutely timeless.
5. Final Fantasy III
This is probably the RPG I've spent the most time with. Great gameplay, beautiful graphics and sound, and amazing story... even if I never really could make any fucking sense out of it. It's a dirty shame us Americans never got to see all of Siren's ass.
4. Final Fantasy II
No doubt, this one gets me the most nostalgic of the Final Fantasy games. To those who have yet to experience this masterpiece, what are you spoony bards waiting for? It's possibly the most well-balanced RPG you will find.
3. Chrono Trigger
Without a doubt, my favorite RPG ever. Even though I never really could wrap my mind around the story, that didn't stop the game from amazing me with the characters, battle system, graphics, and sound, and time traveling. I've always been a fan of time traveling, my interest undoubtedly sparked by the Back to the Future movies. And while time traveling and gaming had already come together in Sonic CD (the game's release was a fucking milestone in my life), Chrono Trigger actually made the concept work. Here's hoping a DS re-release and perhaps another sequel.
2. Super Mario World
Oh, Christmas '91, how I loved you so. I remember getting up and opening presents just like it was last week. The first few gifts I opened were great; a Ninja Turtles Party Wagon, a Fisher Price Little People farm... how could you top those? Why, with this: a Super Nintendo with Super Mario World. Well, the Super Mario World undies were great, too. And while Super Mario Bros. 3 will hold up as my favorite Mario game, nothing will top the list of SNES side-scrollers with Super Mario World.
Like you didn't see it coming...
1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Ah... A Link to the Past. This was the sequel we wanted with Link's Adventure. Traditional Zelda gameplay and view, amazing graphics, and sounds that could get you yearning for yesterday. Everything about this game blew my fucking mind. Everything. The Light / Dark worlds, the dungeons, the boss fights, and even seeing the rain, which seems so ancient by today's standards. I may never be able to choose between this and Ocarina of Time as my favorite Zelda game, but this one is a no-brainer as my favorite SNES game.