Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Top 10 NES BGMs

I could probably sum up my fondness of classic home console games by saying I built my senior illustration thesis around them.  For all their limitations, they inspired creativity and resourcefulness in designing some pretty timeless and fun video games.  However, most gamers of that era know for every one good game, there were five poorly programmed, thrown together crap games, designed to rip off kids at fifty bucks a pop, before the age of information helped cut back on such hack productions. 

Before the internet, your best way of finding out whether a game was worth buying was picking it up from your local rental place.  The first indication of a games worthiness wasn't always the graphics of the title screen, but the music.  Try to think of a good game with horribly composed, half-assed music.  Can't think of one, can you?  The following, in no particular order, is my top 10 Nintendo Entertainment System background music tunes. 

Mach Rider Course Theme

Mach Rider, a.k.a. Mad Max on a bike; According to Wikipedia, where I do
basically all of my research for blogs, this game was actually the
inspiration for the F-Zero series.  It's slightly different, as you're a
linebacker for the Miami Dolphins on a motorcycle that's equipped with
guns, but the futuristic setting and high speeds are the same.  With the
innovative gear-shift controls, and constant obstacles and enemies
attacking from all directions, this game was a non-stop test of
reflexes.  The music was catchy enough to keep you engaged to see the
later levels, which were just basically level one with more crap to
dodge and a switched-up color scheme.  Eventually I'd just get really
frustrated, and go to the time course to let the song loop play in the
background while I found something else to do.  Legos were never as
difficult, for example.

Saving the Dam - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

This was a great game, but many who have played it know that the music
is the only redeeming quality for this God damned dam level.  The
whirling bass line soothed my nerves enough to get through that full
screen tangle of seaweed one time without taking any damage...Swear
to God.  I still haven't managed to get through the level without that
heart attack-inducing music that plays when you've only got twenty
seconds left though.

Cabin Theme - Friday the 13th

I jumped every time Jason popped onto the screen unexpectedly while this
eerie music was playing.  I don't care what AVGN says, this was a fun
game.  However, we do agree that infamous "GAME OVER, you and your
friends are dead.  I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your
soul" screen is the best of all time.

Gum Ball Crash - Rad Racer 2

The most remembered music from the Rad Racer games was definitely from
the first game, but Gum Ball crash was my favorite.  It was the perfect
soundtrack for the pace of a car driving game where the most
catastrophic thing that could happen was a spin out or running out of

Title Theme - Metroid

The dark, droning opening was the perfectly eerie introduction to the
space epic that is the original Metroid.  Before you even knew the
protagonist was actually a woman, the opening conjured up thoughts of
acid blood and chest-bursting aliens.  Ironically, most people I knew
never really heard of the awesome intro music, because the title screen was always skipped.

Area 8 Theme - Bionic Commando

I really can't say enough about this game.  It's easily in my top 3
all-time favorite games, and it is so underrated.  The background music
in area 8 seems almost unimpressive when it starts, but then it takes a
hard right turn into awesome.

On a different note, here is an image I made for Cracked's "Undiscovered Video Game Easter Eggs" Photoplasty contest.  Apparently it was too awesome to make it into the batch of final entries...Or maybe it's that not nearly enough people checked out this game to understand the joke.  Seriously, go play Bionic Commando, if you haven't before.

Streets of Desolation - Batman

In 1989, Tim Burton finally set live-action Batman productions straight
by showing that the Dark Knight was supposed to be...well, dark, and a
record-breaking blockbuster movie was the result.  Inevitably, the NES game adaptation
was not far behind, but unlike most of its movie-based contemporaries,
it was actually a really well-designed game.  It was clearly worth renting from the
awesome opening, but when this theme kicked on, you knew this one was a

Airship Theme - SMB3

The Super Mario Brothers series is a gold mine of great game music, but I
had to single this one out.  It actually made the gameplay seem more
difficult.  As an 8-year-old, whenever this music played, I felt like I
was in for the fight of my life.

Wizards and Warriors

I really couldn't pick which one of these tunes I liked the best.  When
you put them together in a collection, the soundtrack sounds kinda all
over the place, but it worked for a game based around a knight in 300
lb. armor jumping from tree branch to tree branch and drinking magic potions.

Brawler Stages - Bayou Billy

Konami was no slouch when it came to releasing kick-ass games.  They had
tons of credibility, and were also as well-known for the degree of
difficulty in their games.  Bayou Billy, alongside Contra, had to be the
reason for the creation of the term "Nintendo hard".  You couldn't
get a more chill soundtrack though.  I had no idea my Nintendo could
bring the funk, until I played Bayou Billy.  It's how I imagine the
cantina band in Mos Eisely would sound, if they hired a funk guitar


That will round out my top 10.  I know I didn't include the Zelda theme or anything from Mega Man, but I assure you, they would've made the list if I had a better work ethic, and wrote a top twenty.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

5 Best and Worst Commercials

Everyone has those commercials that makes them wanna yack.  The ones that make you wonder how such a stupid idea got to the filming stages.  Someone thought this idea was good enough to fund and produce.  The following are my all-time least favorite, and I'm purposefully staying away from the obvious ones, like infomercials that make mindless tasks look like rocket surgery, or prescription drugs whose side effects are worse than the symptoms. Without further ado:

Dude, Get the Sunny D!

There were several different versions of this commercial that aired in the early to mid nineties, and they all followed the same formula:  32-year-old high school kid comes home with friends after some rad physical activity, like rollerblading or ultimate frisbee, and they search through the fridge for some refreshment.  "OJ, purple stuff, soda...FUCKIN' A, SUNNY D!"

9 times out of 10, mom would overhear one of her stupid kid's friends say "Hey, your mom's pretty cool!" That's shameless pandering to the most likely person to buy the sugary battery acid.  If they really wanted to
help out to tell mom how to be cool, they'd tell her to ditch the elastic waistband jeans.

Babe, What Are You Doing?

I could list a few Yoplait commercials that deserve to be on the list (The two chicks trying to one-up each other on describing how good their shitty yogurt cups are), but the following takes the cake:

the guy needs permission from his wife to look through the
refrigerator?  Yoplait knows its main demographic is women, and they
think they need to appeal to us by making us feel empowered, but this
shit is less empowerment and more dictatorship.  Also, giving the
husband the IQ of a golden retriever has been a popular advertising
technique for a while now.  It just needs to die already.

I Knew I Was Someone Special

Possibly the sappiest commercial everIt may give you diabetes faster than the actual candy.

This commercial came out when I was a child, and even then, I would roll my eyes and change the channel.  According to this ad, all these things are good for is making you feel like a good granddad or a special
grandson.  However, I have since discovered after my own research that they are also good for getting your money's worth at teeth cleanings.  Show up with a handful of those little suckers spot-welded to your molars, and you'll leave the dentist's chair knowing that you're someone special.

I Feel Like Chicken Tonight

The cast of this commercial is either a bunch of failed actors who can't find anything better, regular people who will make jackasses of themselves just to be on TV, or (probably) both.  In any case, it makes me a little embarrassed to be human.  Honorable mention in the same category would be the "What would you do for a Klondike Bar?" ads.

Sonic Earz

Are you a nosy, obnoxious bastard?  Do you have to resort to espionage tactics to hear a joke or a conversation, because nobody likes you?  Do you like to gloss over these facts by saying you're merely a bird enthusiast?  Well, have I got the product for you!

Does anyone else get the urge to kick that old man in the gonads?

The following represent my favorite commercials.  The ones that make me forget the fact that I detest advertising and all the cheap tricks that come along with it.  It just goes to show, if you can make someone laugh, you can make them forget they hate you and all that you stand for.

Too Much Kick

When I first saw this spot, I was thinking it was just another lame attempt at humor...Until the punchline.

Tootsie Rolls are Good and Old People are Funny

The first two of this montage are classic.  The Tootsie Roll clip just brings back some of the earliest memories I have.  The second is part of the classic Wendy's "Where's the Beef" campaign. Senility is funny.

Things That Make You Go WTF

Skittles has been coming out with some brilliantly bizarre commercials for a while now.  This one's my favorite.  My sense of humor isn't always derisive.  Sometimes it's just absurd.

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Staples also has had a lot of successes in the comedy department.  I was actually looking for the commercial with the senile old lady that thinks the stapler is a camera, but I couldn't find the vid anywhere.  Instead, here's another gem.  It's a lot funnier now that I'm out of school.

Round Round Get Around I Get Around

Between Tom Cruise, the male nurse, and the old folks doing donuts in their Hoveround chairs, this commercial made me laugh harder than it was supposed to. 

That's ten entries, and that's all, folks!