Monday, June 29, 2009

Hero of the Week #5: Green Lantern

Real Name: Hal Jordan
First Appearance: Showcase #22 (October, 1959)
Group Affiliation: Green Lantern Corps, Justice League
Gaming Credentials: Justice League Heroes (2006); Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe (2008); DC Universe Online (TBA)
Infinite Wars Cumulative Ranking: #28

Theoretically, each H.O.T.W should be inspired by something happening concurrently within the superhero consciousness. So far that's included video games, starring films, and comic book events, and this week isn't really any different, aside from the fact that this topic has been of relevance for two years!

Like previous entrant, the Flash; Green Lantern underwent a "rebirth" that brought the character back not only from death (as the human host of The Spectre), but also from disgrace.
It was during the mid-nineties that Hal Jordan was seduced by a revenge that was not entirely his own, eventually revealed to be the opportunity upon which an ancient entity of fear was able to launch his revenge. For centuries Parallax had been contained in bondage within the central battery from which all Green Lanterns derive their power, known to them only as "the yellow impurity."

Parallax is not the only avatar to be born of the emotional spectrum. The Guardians created the Green Lantern rings from the power of will, while other energies tapped to various extents include; blue (hope), indigo (compassion), violet (love), yellow (fear), orange (avarice), and red (rage). Each unique facet has the power to imbue an individual with the power granted by their corresponding emotion.

Over the past two years, ring baring Corps have formed around all of these other spectrums of light under the guidance of prolific writer, Geoff Johns. Working from a vague blueprint prophesized in stories written by comics legend Alan Moore, he has steered the Green Lantern franchise to unlikely success based upon this simple premise of adapting the light spectrum to mean as much as it has to the original Silver Age Green Lantern(s).
From these stories, a War of Light has broken out amongst the conflicting factions. It began with the "Sinestro Corps War" that pitted the yellow power of fear against the green, but has spiralled out of control as leaders from each colour have been created or uncovered. Their struggle is the ultimate distraction as the greatest threat to the universe quietly stirs beneath their very feet. A Black Lantern Corps is about to rise, spreading chaos across the universe as the dead rise!

Blackest Night has been building for two years and will officially begin in July!
Though oblivious like all others to the creation of this army of the dead, Hal Jordan has clearly emerged as the hero who will lead the fight against the Blackest Night. Over the past year he has briefly possessed rings of Green, Blue, Red, Yellow, and Orange -- a truly unique feat that alludes to a white light that might just combat the overwhelming darkness!

IGN have launched a mini-site to cover the epic universe-spanning events of Blackest Night, but that isn't the only point of relevance for gamers interested in the Green Lantern!

The recent popularity of Green Lantern in comics has seen the iconic Silver Age icon return to prominence briefly taken up by GL replacement and cartoon Lantern, John Stewart.
Jordan has been representing the heroes front and centre in promotion for the immersive online MMO, DC Universe Online, which promises players the opportunity to fly alongside he and other members of the Green Lantern Corps, including Stewart. DCU Online follows the first substantial appearance of Hal Jordan in a video game as one of the playable DC heroes in the modest eleven character roster in,  Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe!

Green Lantern and Blackest Night issues are appearing monthly starting with July 1st!
You'll find all the necessary information to keep up and select series of interest on the IGN website, the DCU Source Blog, DC, and of course, most prominent comics sites (ie; Newsarama).
The event promises to bring back some heavy hitting heroes and villains who've died over the past few years, including prominent Black Lantern versions of Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, and Superman from a doomed parallel Earth! Whoooo! Super-Zombies! [For speculation, perspective, and spoilers, check out the Infinite Wars: Blackest Night post!]

Secret Wars on Infinite Earths: The Comic Book Fight Club is updated with varying consistency, promising a feature fight for every Friday on the calendar (even if sometimes they're late). The site acts as an information resource, discussion site, review blog, and a cosmic good time.

Original Post:

Sunday, June 28, 2009

CWA: Heat Up Scramble!

JUNE 28, 2009       -       CWA: HEAT UP SCRAMBLE

With the summer nights getting hot and the CWA comeback month completed, it was time for the Muscle Bombers to prove themselves under the spotlight of their second main event spectacular. Heat Up Scramble, live from the CWA arena in Metro City, was aflame with anticipation! Just twenty-four hours prior; Saturday Night Slam Masters poured fuel on the fire of feuds between all the major Muscle Bombers -- none more heated and controversial than the Heavyweight jostling between Victor Ortega and reigning champion, Zangief!
Also on the line, the Tag Team titles currently held by Astro and Mysterious Budo. It was confirmed overnight that they would face the combination of Rainbow Mika and El Fuerte; while the BWA Bouncer, Kimala, would contend with the lucha veteran, El Stinger!

Lucky Colt & Alex versus "Mad Gear" Sodom & Hugo Andore (w/ Poison)

The up and coming combination of Alex & Colt received the appreciation of the crowd as they marched blindly into an explosive opening match with unnamed opponents. The entrance of the Mad Gear gang as the obstacles standing in the way of their title hopes did not surprise. Tensions between Alex and Hugo had surfaced during a previous encounter on Slam Masters, which had escalated just one night earlier, when Alex battled Sodom.

The rivals had to cool their heels on the apron as their respective counterparts started the match.
Colt and Sodom each showed signs of a similar speed and strength strategy, the early tussle handing Colt the advantage as he out maneuvered his bulkier opponent. An attempt to lock in a sleeper hold was thwarted as Sodom's size and outfit helped give him leverage to deliver a backdrop. With their scuffle demanding a tag, both exhausted wrestlers crawled to their corners simultaneously. It was Alex who thundered out of the gates faster, capitalizing on the Hugo's clumsy entrance over the top rope. He did his best to send the German Giant into the ropes, knocking him down like an ancient oak with a stiff clothesline! From there, the New Yorker sought the STF, but manager Poison caused a distraction on the apron.
The strategy backfired as Lucky Colt sprung into the ring to deliver the Sonic Fist to Sodom, before joining Alex in putting Andore to rest with a devastating two-man vertical suplex that rocked the entire ring! Colt was returned to his corner, allowing Alex to pick up the pinfall.
Winners: Alex & Lucky Colt (New #1 Contenders for the Tag Team Championships)

The crowd were on their feet as vision showed Aleksey Zalazof arriving at the arena.
The embattled Russian's CWA comeback had failed to garner a victory, putting extra pressure on his performance later in the night in a rematch of the clinical exhibition he wrestled against the conversely undefeated Muscle Bomber, Darun Mister. The match, to decide an opponent for the winner of the night's main event title bout would surely be Zalazof's last opportunity to stay in the championship picture.

King Rasta Gomes (w/ Freak) versus Sheep The Royal
Two of CWA's wildest competitors emerged to take one and other on in singles competition.
Referee Harry Hicks had his work cut out for him as the two unpredictable Muscle Bombers pushed the limits of acceptability during their fight. The action quickly arrived at ringside where the outer structure of the squared circle was used as a makeshift weapon, as were the surrounding crowd barriers. Rasta Gomes was the one on the received end of a series of slams and whips that tested both the durability of his body and of the surrounding décor. By the time the match returned to the ring, Gomes' attempts at an offensive were all but shattered. A spinebuster slam put the final note on the match, handing Sheep a well earned, if questionably designed, victory.
Winner: Sheep the Royal

Backstage; the night's challengers for the Tag Team Championships, R. Mika and El Fuerte, were in conference with friend and ally, El Stinger. It was just the previous night that El Stinger, suffering impaired vision from a previous encounter with Mysterious Budo, had accidentally attacked Mika to cost them a six-man tag team victory. Mika and Fuerte assured the lucha legend that his explanations were misplaced, but appreciated. Stinger assured the pair that his vision had fully healed and that he would be operating at one hundred percent when he faced off against the super heavyweight, Kimala the Bouncer. He then questioned whether El Fuerte could say the same, recalling the battle with Kimala that nearly hospitalized him. As a trio, their CWA comeback had been tainted by the interference of the elusive Astro and his henchmen. El Fuerte pointed to the special event's name, Heat Up Scramble, as an omen that the budding lucha chef would emerge victorious.

Titanic Tim & Birdie versus The Wraith & Black Widow

The dark and disturbing combination of The Wraith and Black Widow were reunited by booking for the first time since their initial pairing at The International Blowout. The dark duo clearly had the "500 Trillion Powers" of Tim and Birdie intimidated just by their mere presence. The pair fought over first right to fight, Tim drawing the "short straw" to stand-up against the seven foot shrouded Indian.

Birdie threw powerful blows in the direction of The Wraith, who withstood them, motionless. Exerted, Birdie soon found himself with the talon-like fingers of the Wraith wrapped around his throat! The dark giant marched Birdie toward his corner, turning slowly to come face-to-face with Titanic Tim. Tim leapt off the apron, clearly rattled by the dark demeanour of their opponent. He mustered enough courage to tug Wraith's ankles from the outside, staggering him enough to give Birdie breathing space to roll out beneath the bottom rope. With Birdie clutching at his throat and fighting to suck in air, the pair retreated toward the entrance, conceding the match to a count out. Black Widow slinked around the Wraith's feet in his trademark squat fashion, while Wraith watched intently as their opponents escaped his grasp.
Winners: The Wraith & Black Widow (via count out)

In the interview trench, Darun Mister was on hand to discuss his opportunity to earn a shot at the CWA Heavyweight championship. Mister, whose very arrival in CWA was predicated by the goal to test his legend against the Red Cyclone, expressed great confidence on the back of his four-match winning streak, projecting forward to finally earning the opportunity to wrestle Zangief for the title. He expressed disdain for the Russian's opponent, Victor Ortega, but remained focused on repeating the calibre of match he held against Aleksey Zalazof on Slam Masters.

Kimala versus El Stinger
The feud between CWA's masked Muscle Bombers and the minions of Astro had begun at the first event in the comeback, The International Blowout, where El Stinger attempted to continue his rivalry with Mysterious Budo by capturing the tag titles. Out of the championship picture, El Stinger was now fighting for his own honor after his team suffered multiple embarrassments and defeats over the past few weeks.

The Stinger had his work cut out for him against a man nearly three times his weight! Kimala took full advantage, lumbering between the lucha and the turnbuckles every time it appeared El Stinger was going to hit the ropes. Tired of the cat and mouse game, El Stinger looked for an offensive with a hurracanrana, but was caught by the vastly more powerful Muscle Bomber who countered into a powerbomb! El Stinger looked like he was in trouble when Kimala bounced back into the ropes, looking for a splash, but the incredible speed of the lucha allowed him to slide out of the way! With Kimala rocked by his own rare trip to mat, El Stinger was able to get airborne, diving off the top rope with a stunning cross body block! The pin attempt failed, but Stinger was now free to make full use of his speed. After running Kimala ragged, El Stinger put the final touches on the BWA Bouncer with an incredible springboard moonsault!
Winner: El Stinger

Commissioner Mike Haggar marched to the ring next for an impromptu audience with the crowd.
The Macho Mayor was pleased to announce to his home crowd that the previous episode of Saturday Night Slam Masters had reached a record attendance. He thanked everyone for supporting the CWA comeback and hoped Heat Up Scramble could provide equal levels of entertainment with the many developed matches on the card, including the much hyped main event between Victor Ortega and Zangief.

Backstage, Rasta Gomes was limping around the catering table when he stumbled into Titanic Tim and Birdie. The wildman muttered about the beating he suffered earlier in the night at the hands of Sheep the Royal, offering to show the "Trillion Powers" his scars. Becoming suddenly desperate, he asked if either of them had seen his pet monkey manager, Freak. Gomes mentioned loitering in the basement where he had heard strange groaning noises, and was concerned that Freak hadn't had lunch. Birdie and Tim looked at each other with obvious concern, before scrambling in the direction of the parking garage...

El Fuerte & Rainbow Mika versus Mysterious Budo & Astro
With El Stinger successful earlier in the night, the psychological pendulum that had been rocked in favour of the champs on the previous night's Slam Masters, was now back in motion. Mika and El Fuerte revelled in the crowd's response as they entered to challenge for the tag team titles that had eluded El Fuerte and El Stinger at The International Blowout.

A tense anticipation filled the arena as ritualistic pleasantries confirmed the stakes of the fight, putting the quartet of Muscle Bombers in the ring together under manufactured circumstances of neutrality.
El Fuerte and Budo exploded the second the bell rang, colliding in a whirling tornado of energy as they locked up. An acrobatic exchange gave Fuerte the advantage, finishing with a tilt-a-whirl into back breaker! The pace continued as Budo dodged the running Fuerte, only to be caught with a harsh running dropkick! A strategy of fluid tagging became the obvious gameplan of the challengers and Fuerte surrendered the ring to give Mika the chance to drop a top rope leg drop on Budo. Covers were scarce with the pace remaining quick, even as the regularly tagging Mika/Fuerte combo began to wear down the white-faced devil.

The challengers encountered their first scare when El Fuerte sought a cross body block, only to have Budo roll through it! The count only reached two, but gave Budo opportunity to whip his hair into the face of the lucha libre star, causing him to stagger back! When El Fuerte had finished rubbing his eyes, he was now face-to-face with fellow masked Muscle Bomber, Astro!

Suddenly the isolation tactics of the high-flying challengers began to unravel as a totally fresh Astro capitalized on his partner's sacrifice. The tag champ delivered a combination of fast short punches that worked the mid-section Fuerte had injured during his bout with Kimala two weeks prior. The blows forced El Fuerte to accept the tag from Mika, creating a tagging situation for the champions, as well. Clearly now keeping Astro fresh, Mysterious Budo was unleashed sluggishly, resorting to an unsuccessful attempt to spray mist in the eyes of Mika! Taking a page from his book, Mika had used her long locks to block the spray, but like Fuerte, when she looked back up she was confronted with Astro, who showed devastating efficiency in executing the D3 finisher -- a blow that left Mika unconscious and the fairy tale ending soberingly destroyed.
Winners and still Tag Team champions: Astro & Mysterious Budo

As El Fuerte helped Rainbow Mika to her feet, the crowd showed the pair their appreciation.
While they did not succeed in capturing the championships, they had certainly captured the audience's respect. Their exit now means Astro and Mysterious Budo will next face the duo of Alex and Lucky Colt, who won the right to challenge earlier in the night.

Darun Mister versus Aleksey Zalazof

Their bout last night was one of the most technically involving showdowns CWA had ever seen, and anticipation for the naming of a new #1 contender was almost as high as that for the championship match. Zalazof's comeback career had mirrored Mister's in that he had suffered only defeats, while Mister dominated every opponent he faced in the lead-up to the opportunity.

Darun Mister was all business, refusing a handshake from the Russian as they squared up. Just as they had the night prior, the two mega Muscle Bombers tied up in a test of wills, clutching for the advantage. Zalazof initiated the fight, twisting Mister's arm into a brief hammer lock. He used the leverage to push the Indian forward while he propelled backward into the ropes, returning to fire with a harsh forearm chop. Zalazof took a moment to prepare himself, tying up with Mister on the rise once again. Mister slipped around to a waistlock where attempted a cobra clutch! Proximity to the ropes gave Zalazof the opportunity to grab the ropes, shaking the hold off. A clothesline took the rising Indian down and allowed a submission attempt with an arm bar.
The undefeated Darun Mister showed tremendous strength, twisting his way out of the hold into a modified clover leaf. Despite being in obvious pain, the Russian refused to tap out to the impromptu match winner. Darun Mister relinquished the hold as both were beginning to show signs of fatigue from last night, content to finish the match with a fisherman suplex.
Winner and new #1 Contender: Darun Mister

In the interview trench, Victor Ortega was pumping his gigantic arms in an act as much a part of a preparation ritual, as it was showboating. With his title shot mere minutes away, the all-time undefeated Muscle Bomber spoke elaborately about the night's place in history. He declared it a poetic symmetry of all the nights he had spent defeating CWA's best in their previous incarnation. He acknowledged that Zangief was an unknown quantity of sufficient quality to make it one of the most anticipated matches of his career. The credit stopped when the postulating began and Ortega again declared it an outrageous travesty that he wasn't defending the title. He arrogantly warned the Muscle Bomber universe that he would only be satisfied so long by petty brawlers and cheap acrobats. In closing, he hoped Zangief had drunk his vodka and called his kremlin.

Victor Ortega versus Zangief
Ortega flexed his inhuman physique as he made his way to the ring, pointing to the crowd in accusation as he declared himself the sure winner. It was a stark contrast of styles as Zangief emerged at the entrance clad in a red cape that covered his motionless body. Scarred arms spread the fabric to reveal the gleaming strap of the heavyweight championship, before Zangief marched to the ring. Despite the weeks of psychological warfare, Zangief showed no signs of cracking as he stared down his opponent.

Ortega shoved his finger in the face of the champion, shouting denouncements before breaking into a round of poses. The stoic Russian responded by unleashing a giant right hand that rocked the face of the disrespectful challenger! Ortega grabbed his mouth with a look of shock that quickly turned to a smirk. The match was officially underway as the two goliath Muscle Bombers met in a clash of egos and styles. Ortega proved the stronger of the two, wrenching Zangief's arm before driving a boot into his open gut.

The pair broke, glancing to the crowd to receive their respective responses, the positive clearly in the favour of Zangief. They tied up again, but again it was Ortega who proved the stronger of the two, applying a front facelock that successfully launched into a long hanging vertical suplex. The elevation - impossible for many men - clearly put Zangief in foreign territory and left him dazed. The champion looked to be in trouble in the early goings as Ortega drove the boot in, stomping away on the tempered Red Cyclone. Zangief was able to enter a return with a series of chops to the glistening burly chest of the undefeated challenger!

With Ortega on the ropes, Zangief twisted a waist lock to deliver not one -- but two german suplexes!
With such a devastating move there was an impending sense that victory might be at hand, but somehow, the challenger kicked out at only a one! Not even the compelling argument of the spinning piledriver could keep Ortega down for more than a single slap of referee Harry Hicks' hand on the canvas.

After withstanding a convincing offensive from the champion, a Victor Ortega emerged who was everything he had claimed to be. A gorilla press slam shocked the audience into harsh realisation that this was not simply a wrestler with a convincing interview routine, but rather, a man whose phenomenal strength and physique could back up everything he claimed. After holding Zangief for what seemed like minutes, the challenger brought him crashing down!
Not to be outdone, Zangief attempted another lariat to gain some kind of ground, but Ortega had the sense of mind to avoid and counter, delivering a powerbomb that shook the very ring and the Association world as well.
Winner and new CWA Heavyweight champion: Victor Ortega

New CWA World Heavyweight Champion: Victor Ortega!

Harry Hicks awarded Ortega the championship belt, but that would not be enough. The new champion snatched Zangief's cape from ringside, donning it mockingly as he posed on the turnbuckle for the audience to witness. The Russian former-champ could only retreat, holding his head, as Ortega became canonized as a fact of CWA. Love or hate him, he was once again the CWA Heavyweight Champion, and a force to be reckoned with in the new era of the company.

Will winning the title finally pacify the Ortega situation, or has a new reign of terror been wrought on CWA after only a month of competition? All the fall out will be on show as CWA celebrates July 4 with Saturday Night Slam Masters! Stay tuned!

Original Post:

Saturday, June 27, 2009

CWA: Saturday Night Slam Masters (06/27)

Just twenty-four hours ahead of the special event, CWA: Heat Up Scramble, the Muscle Bombers were out in full force! After last week's domination of Aleksey Zalazof, all eyes were on the undefeated living legend and #1 contender, Victor Ortega.
Ortega's situation had complicated throughout the comeback month as he made verbal and physical assaults on CWA Heavyweight champion Zangief, Commissioner Mike Haggar, the CWA itself, and championship contenders, Zalazof and Darun Mister. At the heart of the conflict was Ortega's claim that his retired reign as champion and undefeated record gave him first bite at the CWA Heavyweight title -- a claim supported by some fans surprised he was overlooked in the return championship match at The International Blowout!

Ortega finally gets his shot at Heat Up Scramble when he takes on the Red Cyclone, Zangief, in an attempt to reclaim the CWA title and continue his undefeated streak that currently includes comeback victories over heavy hitters, Hugo Andore and Aleksey Zalazof.

It was the champion himself, Zangief, who started the show on the back of these matters.
After emerging last week to witness Ortega's violent finish against his fellow Russian, Zangief was in the ring to respond to the #1 contender's claims that he was not a worthy champion. Although he was not allowed to put the title on the line before Heat Up Scramble, Zangief issued an open challenge to any Muscle Bomber wanting the chance to earn a valuable victory to their career. Accompanied by his manager, Poison, it was the biggest man in CWA, Hugo Andore, who answered the call!

Hugo Andore (w/ Poison) versus Zangief

If Zangief was going to prove himself as a fighting champion, Andore was the perfect obstacle to do it with! Rarely physically dwarfed, even the experienced Russian had to be in awe of the nearly 8' German Giant! The pair locked up initially in a test of strength, giving Zangief a first-hand view of the man who had an opportunity to embarrass him heading in to his first title defence. Although no greater power came from their brief lock, Zangief was not to be outdone by the giant! It was Zangief's superior balance and speed that gave him the edge, recovering from early strikes from the big man to fire back with a charging 360 lariat!
The Russian had a brief scare when attempting the spinning piledriver proved too difficult, but even as Andore continued to look for a way back into the match with a big boot strike or wild swing of his tree-like arms, the champion was too good. A bridging german suplex gave a strong finish.
Winner: Zangief

Backstage, Aleksey Zalazof was watching the match conclude on a monitor.
He applauded his countryman's ability to not only defeat a powerful opponent, but successfully retort to Victor Ortega's attack on his honor. The Russian did not notice Lucky Colt standing behind him also watching. The Floride Wildehorse laughed snidely, agreeing that Zangief was doing a good job of showing himself capable of winning, casting aspersions on Zalazof's comparative losing streak. Colt, Zalazof's old rival, mentioned that his partnership with Alex had been producing many victories, also. He revealed that at Heat Up Scramble, he and Alex would finally get to earn their shot at the Tag Team championships. Zalazof pushed past Colt without a word, leaving the tag team Muscle Bomber to laugh it up and resume watching.

Black Widow versus King Rasta Gomes (w/ Freak)
The wildman Rasta Gomes brought distractions with him to the ring in his match-up against the bizarre Muscle Bomber, Black Widow. His pet monkey manager, Freak, showed more signs of distress over Black Widow's unique style of grappling than Gomes himself! As the two exchanged blows, Gomes regularly turned his attention to Freak at every available interval. In the end, Gomes paid for his inattentiveness with a frankensteiner finish. Immediately after the match, Freak led Gomes away from the ring, cautious of the Black Widow.
Winner: Black Widow

In the locker rooms; Rainbow Mika and El Stinger were joined by a bandaged El Fuerte.
Fuerte explained that the binding on his mid-section was purely precautionary, referring to the severe beating he took the previous week when he wrestled against Kimala.
With a six-person tag team match announced last week by Commissioner Haggar, the trio were clearly looking like the underdogs against Tag Team champions, Astro and Mysterious Budo, and the BWA bouncer, Kimala. El Fuerte offered words of inspiration for his teammates, recalling Mika's victory over Budo on the same night he was beaten, and over Kimala at the International Blowout. They shared an enthusiastic cheer before heading out, but unnoticed following behind his teammates, a quiet Stinger looked slightly less than convincing. It was at the end of Mika's match that El Stinger suffered the mysterious mist to the eyes from Budo, resulting in perhaps still impaired vision?

A solemn Aleksey Zalazof sought the council of Commissioner Haggar backstage, in the offices. He expressed concern over his recent bout of defeats and wondered if Ortega's attacks on the quality of contenders were founded. Haggar reminded his former student of the calibre of opponents he'd been facing, competing in matches like the CWA Heavyweight title match at The International Blowout against one of the most seasoned fighters in the business, Zangief. Haggar explained that as Commissioner he could not go out of his way to do Zalazof any personal favours, but wanted to give him a shot at professional satisfaction by matching him up with the undefeated Indian superstar, Darun Mister. He then added that after Heat Up Scramble a new contender for the title would have to be named, and that the match could really help his chances. Refreshed, Zalazof headed out to prepare for the match.

Alex (w/ Lucky Colt) versus Sodom
The promising New Yorker, Alex, was accompanied by his tag team partner in a match against one of their many rivals for a title shot, Sodom. The elaborately decorated otaku offered Alex a handshake at the beginning of the match, but turned it into the first blow with a devastating trapped shoulder thrust. Sodom taunted regularly, maintaining a slow and deliberate pace with high impact slams on the young NYC Muscle Bomber. A lack of urgency and snide pins with his foot meant Sodom's grip on the match was ready to be loosened. Alex took full advantage of one such opportunity, countering a pin attempt into an ankle lock! As Sodom attempted to reach for the ropes, the Muscle Bomber switched to an STF, but Sodom's mask lessened it's impact!

While Alex locked in the hold, Sodom's Mad Gear tag partner, Hugo, returned to the ring amidst a wave of boos from the crowd. Lucky Colt intervened before Hugo could reach the ring, threatening with a raised fist. Hugo offered a lazy smile and raised hands to Colt, while in the ring, Poison emerged from the crowd and attempted to interfere in the match! Referee Harry Hicks kept her on the apron, but did not notice Sodom removing a sai blade from his costume with Alex distracted by the commotion! The samurai wannabe charged Alex with the weapon, but was stopped still with a boot, before Alex finished with a stiff piledriver! The crowd cheered on the victor and his partner, while Mad Gear retreated back to the drawing board for a second time in the night.

The win marked another positive footnote in the career of this new tag team, who just twenty-four hours later at Heat Up Scramble would be competing for the right to finally earn a shot at the Tag Team championships!
Winner: Alex

Somewhere in the bowels of the arena, Titanic Tim and Birdie were rolling dice with Sheep the Royal while arguing about whether or not rugby was a valid sport. Sheep, a former rugby player in Australia, agreed with his UK counterpart, but was too delighted in winning money to break the argument. Just as he raked in his latest winnings, three eerie figures in black robes passed by them. From the shadows further in the basement level, a door could be heard closing, before a sinister laugh and green glow emerged from the darkness. The trio of spooked Muscle Bombers opted to move their game and debate, rather than stick around...

Aleksey Zalazof versus Darun Mister
Zalazof had nothing to lose and everything to prove in his match against undefeated Muscle Bomber, Darun Mister. The Indian superstar on loan from ARIKA wrestling had been on an unbeatable streak in his quest to fight Zangief. It was a clash worthy of a main event, the advantage tipping perhaps in favour of the taller Mister in a relatively well matched pairing.

The pair held their corners as the bell rung, observing each other before walking into a tie-up situation.
Mister broke the hold, slipping behind into a waist lock. Zalazof showed good ringsense, teasing a possible snapmare with a three-quarter facelock that provoked Mister to push Zalazof toward the ropes. The Russian went airborne, colliding with his opponent with a diving forearm. The pair went to the mat, Zalazof looking for an early fall with a fast hook of a leg to a count of only two.

Zalazof brought Mister to his feet, taking a side headlock that again saw him sent into the ropes.
This time the comeback went the way of Mister who turned the momentum into a weapon with a stiff big boot to the chest. The Russian was quick to spring back up, but Mister showed great agility, countering the charge into a sleeper hold. With his massive biceps crunching down around Zalazof's throat, referee Harry Hicks began enquiries to the situation. Zalazof was clearly in trouble, but manage to fight back, delivering a harrowing belly to back suplex! The situation put both men on their backs, but created an equalizer as they both arose in unison for another tie-up!

Zalazof won the contest this time, slipping a go behind into a waist lock. Mister, putting on a clinic, struggled out to reverse the situation, putting on the pressure with a german suplex. A lateral press produced only a two count as Zalazof showed gritty determination. He was able to block a vertical suplex from the front facelock with a hook of his leg on Mister, but struggled to gain any lift of his own. The pair broke, only to unite in the form of a belly to belly suplex initiated by the Indian Muscle Bomber.

Before anything more could happen, the #1 contender stormed the ring, driving his colossal forearm into the skull of Darun Mister! Ortega tossed Mister over the ropes to ringside, turning his attentions onto the fallen Zalazof with the bottom of his boot! Ortega's heinous attack forced the match to end in disqualification, granting the first attacked the victory.
Winner: Darun Mister (via disqualification)

Ortega grabbed a microphone and once again announced himself as the rightful Heavyweight champion. He mocked Zangief's attempts to prove himself a worthy champion, pointing back to his victory over Andore at The International Blowout, which he described as easy. He then turned his attentions to the two men he'd attacked, who were still recovering from the assault and fatigue of their own high level exhibition. He described them both as pretenders and wannabes, worse than Zangief for being pale imitations of himself.

At that moment, Commissioner Mike Haggar emerged at the entrance way with a microphone and words of his own! He expressed personal disdain for Ortega's methods, describing his actions as undermining what might have been a legitimate point to make. He reiterated that he's a man who believes in the natural order of wrestling and looked forward to seeing whether Ortega could really back up his claims the next night, at Heat Up Scramble. He then revealed that there would be a match at the special event to separate the pretender from the contender, revealing that Darun Mister and Aleksey Zalazof would compete in a #1 contender match! Ortega proved less than thrilled.

Astro, Mysterious Budo & Kimala versus R. Mika, El Fuerte & El Stinger

The night's main event promised fireworks as the masked team of Mika, Fuerte, and Stinger clashed with the growing rivals led by Astro. The ring leader was suspiciously absent from the ring, opting to place Kimala in action first, as El Fuerte stepped up to face his foe. Despite bandages strapping injuries he sustained last week against Kimala, El Fuerte showed no signs of intimidation, beginning the match with his trademark quickness and rope tactics!

This time around Kimala looked like a flat-footed juggernaut, simply unable to keep up with the acrobatics of Fuerte who used the ropes as a launching pad to strike from all corners! Springboard kicks were the order, keeping the big man off his feet before Mika made the blind tag to launch herself into the ring off the top rope with a moonsault! The high risk dive finally took Kimala off his feet, but the pinning predicament was broken up by Budo with a stomp.

Mika reinitiated the assault, borrowing El Fuerte's rope-hitting strategy, this time to less success.
Kimala caught Mika on the crossbody, allowing him to bring his crushing half-tonne weight down on top of her frame with a fall forward slam. Kimala licked his lips as he sauntered to make the tag to Budo, who spun in circles with a grin. The demonic kabuki shut down Mika's attempts for a tag with a springboard kick of his own, before heading to the top rope for a corkscrew moonsault! Facing the lucha's corner, he danced over Mika's body, before hooking the legs for a seated pin attempt. The provocation created chaos as both luchas stormed the ring, creating a five-man brawl!

Harry Hicks struggled to separate the fighters as they exchanged unrefined punches and kicks! Finally the scuffle was broken when R. Mika collided with the pack upon launching into the flying peach from the top rope! The high risk gambit looked to be paying off, but as El Stinger rose to his feet, he mistook Mika for one of his opponents and levelled her with a snapping kick to the head! Astro moved with uncanny speed and efficiency to knock Stinger down with an unanticipated shining wizard, allowing him to make the cover on Mika!
Winners: Astro, Mysterious Budo & Kimala the Bouncer

A stunned El Fuerte was ambushed by Kimala who attacked from behind with an axe handle smash! The BWA bouncer lifted the already injured lucha into the air, creating a double-team scenario for Astro whose jump somersault kick collided with Fuerte's mid-section as Kimala brought it down from above his head!

Astro led his team toward the entrance without so much as looking back at the destruction they'd wrought. It seemed finally the former BWA Muscle Bomber was living up to his reputation! Meanwhile, in the ring, El Stinger was the first to sit up, wiping at his eyes with what seemed to be no understanding of what had just unfolded. The explosive Saturday Night Slam Masters before Heat Up Scramble came to an end, leaving the heroes looking worse for wear ahead of the second special in the CWA comeback!

June 28 is CWA: Heat Up Scramble! Titles are on the line as Victor Ortega finally gets his shot at CWA Heavyweight champion, Zangief! The Tag Team titles will no doubt go on the line against their lucha rivals when Astro and Mysterious Budo defend. Aleksey Zalazof and Darun Mister will have a rematch of their SNSM match to determine a #1 contender for the Heavyweight title; and up and coming tag team, Lucky Colt & Alex will face unnamed opponents to establish themselves as next in line for the Tag Team championship. All that, plus several unannounced matches, all tomorrow! Stay tuned! 

Original Post:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Musi(c.)PSX: Scream (1995)

Sony's Playstation console was first released in Japan in December of 1994.
A year later, it spread across the globe, leading to it's eventual assimilation into modern living. The console was officially discontinued by Sony in 2006, but began a process of phasing out with the 2000 release of the Playstation2. Known in it's early years colloquially as the PSX, the console was characterised by a slick attitude that met modern gamers on varying levels, boasting releases like Wipeout, which fused electronic music culture with the gaming experience. This post is a celebration of that time. Music circa (c.) the PSX

Michael Jackson - Scream (1995)

Y'know, I think one of the reasons I look back so fondly on this period is because it was a time of transition for me. I'm hardly unique for having spent much of the late eighties and early nineties listening to Michael Jackson and playing Sega video games. If you were growing up outside of the United States during this time, and maybe even if you didn't, you almost certainly had the same experiences.

By the mid-nineties; scandal had begun to push Jackson out of the musical spotlight, while at the same time, Sega were (unwittingly) beginning their final days with the release of the Saturn. This was the changing of the guard every generation goes through, where styles changed, and interests were driven by a new wave of trends that defined the latter part of the decade.

Michael Jackson's untimely demise has given most of us who experienced his phenomenon cause to reflect upon the times, music, and culture he presided over. Few artists could come close to challenging his reign as undisputed King of Pop, and I sincerely doubt anyone from the current musical regime will ever come close. Those too young to have remembered or experienced his success will struggle to imagine the magnitude of Jackson's domination as a solo artist in the eighties and nineties. Fortunately for history's sake, there are plenty of artefacts to remind all of us.

In later years, Jackson had become something of a punchline, but in reflecting I feel this is aspect of his career worth forgetting. His home which became a circus, Neverland Ranch, strikes me as a none too subtle reference to a man who never truly ceased to be the boy he was introduced as.
His youthful energy and imagination was clearly key to his creative extravagance that expanded beyond music to include milestone collaborations in film, advertising, and video games.

1up tastefully looked back on Jackson's strong connection with video games. I'm glad they did.
Michael Jackson's Moonwalker, in its two forms, is a pop culture touchstone that many of us look back upon fondly. It is one of those significant collaborative that survive the popstar, embodies a moment in time, and contains many references to his finest musical work.
As gamers who revel in retro artefacts such as this, we are perhaps uniquely tuned to understand a man who never grew up. A man who might very well have been unfairly indicted by innuendo, and misunderstood for his childlike enthusiasm for things many people left in their youth.

Jackson is best remembered in the gaming landscape for his long running connection with Sega, but I want to wrap up with an interesting game-related reference to the Sony PlayStation.

In 1996, Jackson travelled the world as part of his massive HIStory tour to promote the 'best of' album from which Scream was taken. During this tour sensational events would be remembered, but through a concierge-friend-of-an-uncle I learnt that during his stay in my neck of the woods, he'd bought himself a PSX and games to play in the hotel room. Incidentally, I'm pretty sure he left it all behind as a gift, which was donated, if I remember correctly, to the children's hospital.

The King, whose "bizarre" lifestyle and works of pop genius may never be forgotten, wanted to play video games. I think that is something we, all of us, can understand very easily.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

AdVantage Point: Prototype (2009)

Give an idiot a scanner and a comic book and let him to pick out all the advertisements for video games. This is AdVantage Point -- a chance to document the winding timeline of comics/gaming history as it was canonized by the adverts. Musings, rantings, observations, stream of consciousness.

Y'know, as a pseudo-archival concept, these AdVantage Point posts have been promising something more retro than the early 2000's for quite a while. Finally I was inspired to rummage through the back issues, to pull out what I think was one of the greatest gaming adverts to ever be put into print; the Splatterhouse double-page comic strip from 1990!

While I was there, I spent some time flicking through, and scanning, other advertisements for future reference. Their designs varied from the simple to the robust, but there was an inevitable observation to be made when comparing them to the types of ads that have been mostly featured thus far. Those ads actually looked like they were interested in trying!

While beginning this blog I happened to stumble across a similar post by "videosta" [Let's kill the AD men!] which provides a pre-emptive counterpoint to the post I'm about to make. I just wanted to point that out because I've been enjoying looking through the 1up blogs lately, and thought that was a great way to represent the opposing opinions of what I'm expressing (even if I vehemently disagree).

The 1990s were clearly an important decade to the video game industry.
By following the advertisements published year-to-year in the early nineties, you can almost see a timeline of how 8-bit gaming developed the medium beyond it's initial technical specifications, to start capitalizing and selling on the premise of concept and design aesthetic. Admittedly, not all of it is an artistic triumph, but ads like the Splatterhouse strip really remind us how technology and creativity converged to form the modern concept of a game.

The more extravagant adverts dabble in the kinds of esoteric references found in modern television campaigns, while more standard fare still manages to produce something heavily focused on informing readers of something more than just the title. There's artwork, sometimes screenshots, snide references to the opposition, technical achievements, reviews and awards, and of course, a healthy dose of story (or character) driven selling points.

Flash forward twenty years after Splatterhouse and you find much less compelling sales pitches.
Like artefacts from the post-apocalyptic future we always knew was coming; print adverts have become stark unimaginative propaganda pieces peddled by omnipresent corporations who own the press and want us to buy their soulless spirit-crushing crap. Information is minimal, character an afterthought, and design, simplistic and tyrannical. If you didn't know any better, you'd assume companys like Activision were run by bushy moustached madmen commanding a staff of whipped monkeys on typewriters. Which is about all you'd need to graft a single line of text on to the types of pre-existing artwork used in most modern ads.

With the proliferation of the internet, it stands to reason that most promotion is done online.
In a world where information and advertising is pumped directly into the mindstream, TV campaigns still exist, and have their place in a world where casual consumers are more than mere flirtations and facilitators, but it's the direct market that drives the cogs of the major releases, benefitting from the mainstream adoption of gaming consoles as household appliances during the early 2000s.

Prototype reads curiously like an artefact of the past.
If I wasn't wired most waking hours into the Matrix, (and had only the double-page advert [above] to go on), I'd assume someone had had a gross lapse of judgment and allowed Todd McFarlane back into game design.
With a flourish of red streaming out of what appears to be a nonsensical cluster of spikes and blades, Prototype's lead protagonist is something straight out of the most embarrassing examples of early nineties comics. All the hallmarks of a Toddy Mac special.

On the back of some of the most celebrated work in comics (in the eighties); nineties creators attempted to duplicate the rebellious and grim aesthetics of comics written by prolific creators like Frank Miller (Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil, Batman: Year One), and Alan Moore (Watchmen, Swamp Thing, Miracleman). When the mindless excesses of an era driven by visual extravagance and braindead double-page splashes attempted to recreate this creative success, the medium was met with a parade of stupidity that eventuated in the financial collapse of the once booming industry. The honeymoon was over, while in parallel, games were having more success.

Prototype at least benefits from a level of technical competence that games of the nineties did not have.
This liberation of technology, however, appears to create continuous struggle to attain the same heights early games appeared to aspire to. Whether or not game developers of the time actually intended to reach for the stars, often their games appeared to double their efforts, moving at a pace that suggested by now we should have something unique to the gaming medium, but cinematic in it's scope. Epic and interactive.

Technologically, we've reached that goal. While the PSX expressed some of the most vivid desires to reach the goal, subsequent console iterations have been the ones to provide the necessary visual fidelity, refinement, and storage space to actually fulfil the requirements. However, it seems much of the imagination that was once used to compensate for restrictions, and later drove us toward the year 2000 with gusto, has faded.

It's difficult not to see a pattern of complacency emerging across the "core" gaming industry.
While Nintendo have managed to break certain perceptions, they've done so through what can only be described as the familiar. By utilizing recycled technology, concepts familiar to any NES or SNES gamer, and a stable of brands that pander to mass market expectation, Nintendo have been just as guilty as promoting familiarity as any of the bland opposing examples.

Ultimately, this discussion has made some attempt to speak of the roots of the problem, but at the end of the day, this is a post about an utterly ineffective and creatively inglorious advertisement.
DC's deal with various [game] publishers means this double-page spread has been appearing in a wide variety of comics over several months. That repetition might very well successfully tap in to the subconscious of a demographic that is presumably already familiar with the product. It provides the bare minimum of information to ensure a sale in the event of successful penetration, but that assumes it is effective. In an established industry, maybe that kind of reinforcement is success.

"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
and then is heard no more: It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
- William Shakespeare; Macbeth

I can't honestly attempt to blame the content of the game, which might not be the crowning achievement of narrative creation, but does what is expected of it. I personally think some of the more short sighted examples that perhaps reflect onto a game like Prototype are preparing the medium for a recession. As this generation of gamers grow, their majority share of the market will potentially require the same types of progress we saw in previous eras. In a medium where the separation of techno ratios is becoming less significant, the most obvious source of longevity is the same thing that has sustained film and comic books for the best part of a century -- plot.

In that respect, the morality tale of Alex Mercer is exactly what the title claims.
Like any superhero from comics, the character has great potential as a serialized figure, and an emphasis on plot as a sales prospect needn't strip the medium of it's relevance. As a first chapter in something larger, the game could literally be a prototype build.
Gaming will always have interactive elements to rest upon and define them. Regular story-driven downloadable content has the potential to replace box sequels, while more ambitious projects could further take advantage of the medium, allowing players to enjoy subsequent instalments with ramifications unique to their initial playing experience. Effectively, it's an argument for something similar to film or comics, with sequentially divergent developments unique to each player.

As always, we speak in generalizations, and continue to look forward to excitement.
Opinions may vary.

Original Post:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

SixArmedSamurai 101up: Lazy Self-Referencial Milestone Post


I'm Mike. You might know me as the guy with the eyebrows in the not-quite pretentious black and white avatar; the scowly wrestler-faced guy who talks about superheroes on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths; as the writer/creator of the experimental small press comic book, The Kirby Martin Inquest (via Nite Lite Theatre); the guy who used to write for; had some music chart on the original; and/or from many other embarrassing online projects from the past ten years of little note.

Thanks to a big chunk of re-post segments with links to "SWoIE," my blog post count has been successfully padded out to 100 posts. In the interest of full disclosure and lazy blogging, I thought I might sift through those many entries to repost the ones that weren't quite as creatively insulting. The ones that fall into a series of formats I've imposed upon myself to structure otherwise meandering and pointless rantings.

I'd stumbled across once or twice through random happenstance in the past, but became more interested in the site via BigMex's blog (after he linked to mine) and after finding the podcasts whilst searching for Street Fighter IV news (ie; The 1up Show #117's exclusive first-look). They were simpler times, those heady days of early 2008. Halcyon, young, and oh-so full of promise...

Despite struggling to cross over into the current generation of games, I've played intermittently for the past twenty years. My interests skirt somewhere between the much discussed "casual" and "hardcore" ethics, to include: beat 'em ups like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Tekken; combative racers like Wipeout and Twisted Metal; music rhythm games like PaRappa the Rapper and Bust-A-Groove; prowrestling games like the WWE: Smackdown! (vs RAW) series; survival horror games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill; and many many more. Including, of course, the game from which my 1up user handle originates - Shinobi III.

I'm foreign; generally regard Nintendo as the score on a failed IQ test; prefer most games have a story; refuse to drop "PSX" as the shorthand reference to the PlayStation; and think said console was probably the crowning achievement of the entire industry. I have no special loyalty to Sony, despite considering the PS3 the slightly more interesting, if wholeheartedly stagnant, lesser evil of a generation dominated by the unnecessarily unattractive and boring.

I understand these things might put us at odds, but am sure we can still be friends. Even if you're wrong.

My current high score on Contra: Hard Corps is: 1330.

AdVantage Point...
Each entry features a scan of a gaming advertisement than ran in a comic book.
These scans are all in my 1up gallery and might have some archival use for someone at some point. Otherwise, these are posts that meander around the topic of the quality of the advert, the subject of the advert, or any tangential subjects that it might inspire. None of the features are affiliated with the products mentioned in them, and should be enjoyed or disdained with the freely admitted knowledge that each image might be subliminally affecting your decision making with over sexualized imagery and pseudo-science.
Also, "AdVantage Point" is a hilarious and brilliant triple-threat of wordplay. Makes you laugh; makes you think.

Street Fighter IV (2009) [April 16, 2009]
Mortal Kombat II (1994) [April 17, 2009]
Dragonball Evolution (2009) [April 18, 2009]
Halo Wars (2009) [April 20, 2009]
TNA Impact! (2008) [April 21, 2009]
Mirror's Edge (2008) [April 23, 2009]
Catwoman (2004) [April 28, 2009]
Wolverine: Adamantium Rage (1994) [May 1, 2009]
X-Men: Mutant Academy 2 (2001) [MAy 4, 2009]
Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems (1996) [May 9, 2009]
Matrix Online (2004) [May 28, 2009]
WWF: Royal Rumble (1993) [June 2, 2009]
Twisted Metal: World Tour (1996) [June 10, 2009]
Final Fantasy VII (1997) [June 11, 2009]
Silent Hill: Homecoming (2008) [June17, 2009]
Splatterhouse (1990) [June 23, 2009]

Much like the AdVantage Point series of posts, these posts feature the corresponding music video embedded from YouTube. All songs fall within, and often reference, the era in which the PlayStation console was dominant. The oh-so less groovy trendy name of the posts would be, Music Circa the PlayStation. Since that many words wouldn't look good printed in a white blocky font on orange paper with a tiny logo in the bottom right corner, it had to be sassed like the cover of a mainstream Luke Slater album.

Underworld - Born Slippy .NUXX (1995) [May 2, 2009]
The Prodigy - Breath (1996) [May 5, 2009]
Groovezone - Eisbaer (1997) [May 8, 2009]
Aphex Twin - Windowlicker (1999) [May 14, 2009]
Secret Garden - Nocturne (1995) [May 17, 2009]
Dana International - Diva (1998) [May 23, 2009]
Aphex Twin - Donkey Rhubarb (1996) [May 25, 2009]
Fluke - Atom Bomb (1996) [May 26, 2009]
Sly & Robbie - Superthruster (1999) [May 27, 2998]
Rob Dougan - Clubbed to Death (1996) [May 29, 2009]
USURA - Open Your Mind '97 (1997) [May 30, 2009]
Moby - Run On (1998) [June 3, 2009]
Pet Shop Boys - I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Anymore (1999) [June 16, 2009]

Hero Of The Week...
Each Monday the world stops in order to recognise the achivements of a single superhero.
These posts bounce off of events in games, film, television, and the comics themselves, to further typecast this blog as one written by that guy who does the comics. As it happens, superheroes have become a phenomenon in popculture making it fairly easy to connect most characters back to video games, either upcoming, or retro.

#1 Wolverine (Marvel) [June 1, 2009]
#2 Batman (DC) [June 8, 2009]
#3 The Flash (DC) [June 15, 2009]
#4 Captain America (Marvel) [June 22, 2009]

Saturday Night Slam Masters...
In the mid-nineties Capcom attempted to capitalize on the success of their various fighting games with a venture into the prowrestling genre. Saturday Night Slam Masters (and it's sequels) remain a slightly obscure but fondly remembered series of games full of the same type of energy and design that made Street Fighter a juggernaut.
In an attempt to stress test the thought of reviving the series as a conventional wrestling game (complete with story modes), these posts feature results written as if Capcom Wrestling Association were competing with WWE. The series includes Capcom characters from other successful franchises with the hope of writing a full year's worth of events.

The Muscle Bomber Comeback! [June 4, 2009]
CWA: The International Blowout Preview [June 5, 2009]
CWA: The International Blowout [June 7, 2009]
CWA: Saturday Night Slam Masters [June 13, 2009]
CWA: Saturday Night Slam Masters [June 20, 2009]

An obsessive compulsive's worst nightmare!!!
These are the articles that were not contorted to fit into one of the other post formats.
They are no better written, better conceived, or even necessaily worth your time.

Wipeout: Style and Substance [Jan 28, 2009]
You Stupid Fanboy! [Jan 29, 2009]
There's a brand new dance, but I don't know it's name... TEKKEN! [June 18, 2009]
Games on Film: Silent Hill (2006) [June 19, 2009]
SixArmedSamurai 101up: Lazy Self-Refencial Milestone Post [Ironically Self-Referenced]

Original Post:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

AdVantage Point: Splatterhouse (1990)

Give an idiot a scanner and a comic book and let him to pick out all the advertisements for video games. This is AdVantage Point -- a chance to document the winding timeline of comics/gaming history as it was canonized by the adverts. Musings, rantings, observations, stream of consciousness.

Noting that this was my 100th 1up blog post, I considered some sort of elaborate existential journey of self-discovery through the blogging fourth wall. Then, however, it was announced that Namco's beleaguered Splatterhouse revival was undergoing further delays, and it became instantly apparent that this was the far more special occasion to speak in regards to.

Over the past -- two years, is it? -- I've been quietly simmering with anticipation for what was, at the time, one of the exciting and fresh retro revival announcements. Since it's announcement and many delays, the game has become slightly passé, hardly the title the world was clamouring for with so many other classic revisions now available. Punch Out!!, Splatterhouse, is not.

Still, with a healthy dose of self-awareness (sans meta-existentialism), I eagerly await the results of the much-delayed series revamp. I hope, against all odds, that the game can now live up to the promise of the 16-bit era, and deliver the next level of what was, in it's time, an incredibly effective horror-themed fight game.

When I started doing this series of ad-themed posts, I had a few things in the back of my mind.
I hoped my gallery could eventually be a resource for anyone interested in the games advertised, particularly "retro" adverts like the one featured today.

I'm not sure I can think of a more memorable and well conceived gaming advert than this one.
If you were reading comics in 1990, you must remember this advert. I don't think any advertisement has ever had as much of an effect on me, even in my youth, as this one. It's almost certainly a direct contributor toward my interest toward the 2010 revamp. This is a damned good advert.

I imagine you'll have to [click to] enlarge the scans above to fully appreciate the details.
This was still around the height of popularity for character slasher flicks, and this simple two-page comic strip captured all the referential imagination and atmosphere of the games. Sure, it features the weird and discarded port version of the (red) Terror Mask, but with a ratings-defying pool of blood around Rick's body when he regains consciousness, that symmetry provides some sort of spooktacular additional level of excitement. He doesn't know where the blood or mask came from -- COULD THEY BE CONNECTED?!

Those kinds of dot connectings were half the fun of the era, when technology bound the lengths to which storytelling and concept could travel. Ironically, in this modern age of motion controls,  emotive character builds, and vast disc space, many developers seem to have been creatively crippled by the freedom of their liberation. When was the last time a new game really captured your imagination like this?

Hopefully 2010's Splatterhouse will remember this energy and deliver accordingly.
Admittedly, the games are remembered as much for their weapon-based beat 'em up action as any conceptual or aesthetic flair, but there is more to it. Skipping ahead to Splatterhouse 3, you can almost see the underpinnings of a vague survival horror concept. Time-based cut scenes apply the pressure as you navigate your way through an evil spook mansion in the hopes of protecting your loved ones -- assuming of course YOU survive!

That kind of progress in the 16-bit era implies something spectacular of a more developed sequel in this era of hi-tech freedom. If Namco-Bandai can strive for anything in their shuffling of teams, it should be the realisation of multi-path optional navigation of environments that threaten and motivate. I almost want to see a super-developed Silent Hill style of game, albeit with a character whose powers would make encounters with Pyramid Head more gladiatorial, than pants wetting.

In the mean time, I've got one of the most spectacular comics-game adverts in the history of such, to do me.

Original Post:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hero of the Week #4: Captain America

Real Name: Steve Rogers
First Appearance: Captain America Comics #1 (March, 1941)
Group Affiliation: Avengers, Secret Avengers, Invaders, SHIELD
Gaming Credentials: Spider-man & Captain America in Dr. Doom's Revenge (1989); Captain America and the Avengers (1991); Maximum Carnage (1994)Marvel Super Heroes (1995); Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems (1996); Marvel vs Capcom 2 (2000); Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects (2005)Marvel Ultimate Alliance (2006); Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (TBA)
Infinite Wars Cumulative Ranking: #7

I've blogged about it before and I'll definitely blog about it again: comics and video games have a lot in common, both as artforms, and as industries. In many respects, I believe the relatively young medium of gaming could learn a lot from it's sequential senior. Where gaming has a leg up, however, is justification for levity towards death.

If you were following the news at all last week, you probably heard all about Marvel's big announcement for Captain America #600 -- the return of Steve Rogers! If you bought into the hype and actually picked up the hefty $4.99 issue, then allow me to apologise on behalf of the entire industry. Chances are you would've been left a little bemused by the so-called major issue, given that it was a lead-in to the actual series and event of Captain America: Reborn.

Unlike last week's hero (Flash); Captain America's death did not come with a grandiose sense of self-sacrifice; did not benefit all of mankind; and hadn't really even been put to paper all that long!
It was only back in April of 2007, in Captain America #25, that the big A bit the big 1 when he was shot Lee Harvey Oswald-style on the steps of the courthouse he was to be tried in for unlawful activity as an unregistered superhero. The proverbial gunman-on-the-grassy knoll was Cap's arch-nemesis and rooftop assassin, Crossbones, who was working on behalf of the Red Skull. The actual culprit amidst the chaos, however, was the Captain's own straight shooting ex-girlfriend, and agent of SHIELD, Sharon Carter!... Or so it seemed...

Reborn re-examines the events of the fateful shooting, starting with Sharon Carter, the superspy who had been brainwashed to shoot Cap in the gut at point blank and will now find a way to bring him back.

For Marvel Comics, who owe their most significant history to the Stan Lee era of the 1960's; Captain America is one of the few enduring characters that connects them to the Golden Age of comics. Revived as part of Lee's super-group, the Avengers, the Captain re-entered the "modern" world as a man not quite in sync with the time around him. That otherworldly distance the WWII hero possessed has allowed him to become a cypher for many discussions about the American political landscape, and the ideals of an idealistic nation.
To this day, the character largely represents the incorruptible good that America has failed to achieve, but always strived for. He is a character larger than life, important around the world not for the jingoistic flag-waving his red, white, and blue costume represents, but for the larger-than-life superheroic truth and justice he stands for.

The subtleties and unique intrigue of 1940s superheroes, even in their updated incarnations, hasn't always connected directly with gamers, but many will fondly remember the character for his iconic flinging of the shield in games like Captain America and the Avengers and the vs Capcom series. Off the back of his significance in the modern Marvel Universe, however, Cap has enjoyed a more substantial role in the Ultimate Alliance game, which, for now, represents the most thorough venture into the entire Marvel universe, rather than just one brand.

Cap returns in the Ultimate Alliance sequel, Fusion, packing a punch as one of the key figures in a storyline adapted from 2006's Civil War. The story, centred around the registration and exposure of superheroes to the government, pitted two factions of heroes against one and other in a clash of ideals, asking readers to choose between Captain America and Iron Man. As if to bring events full circle, it was the Civil War that indirectly led to the assassination of Captain America!

Cap also returns later in the year in the [delayed] digital reissuing of Marvel vs Capcom 2! Captain America: Reborn #1 hits comic stores July 1st. The much talked about feature film, Captain America: The First Avenger, is currently slated for a July 2011 release.

Secret Wars on Infinite Earths: The Comic Book Fight Club is updated with varying consistency, promising a feature fight for every Friday on the calendar (even if sometimes they're late). The site acts as an information resource, discussion site, review blog, and an All-American good time.

Original Post:

Saturday, June 20, 2009

CWA: Saturday Night Slam Masters (06/20)

Last week's Slam Masters was on everybody's mind as the second big Saturday show kicked off in front of a capacity crowd. It was on the 06/13 episode that undefeated CWA legend Victor Ortega made his feelings clear about being overlooked for a shot at the championship at International Blowout. Having been retired as champion without defeat, the original muscle bomber was scathing at the close of last week's show, even going so far as to attack current CWA Heavyweight Champion, Zangief, and inadvertently, Mike Haggar.

Haggar emerged at the SNSM entrance way at the very beginning of the show, clad in his now trademark shirt and tie. The Macho Mayor acknowledged that the events of last week were bound to be a distraction throughout the rest of the show, so he wanted to nip them in the bud straight away. He admitted that being knocked out by Zangief's spinning lariat had been a blow to his ego, but was actually pleased it prevented him from making an unprofessional decision. With that, he shocked the muscle bomber universe by officially revealing he had accepted a position as CWA Commissioner!

Haggar revealed that although he was enjoying the quiet life running various businesses in Metro City, he felt compelled to accept CWA's invitation and request to become Commissioner. He was quick to follow with the facts that his role as a former-wrestler and Mayor gave him a unique insight into the balance required to be a good Commissioner. He said he did not want to be the kind of official who interferes in the natural course of affairs in the wrestling arena, but rather, a well measured "Uncivil Servant".
With that, he acknowledged that clearly Victor Ortega had some issues that needed to be worked through, and that the only way to resolve them would be through a match. To respond to Ortega's claims that he deserved the championship without question, the new Commissioner announced that he wanted to give the original muscle bomber the opportunity to work through that in the night's main event in a #1 Contender Match against Aleksey Zalazof!

Lucky Colt & Alex versus Sheep the Royal & King Rasta Gomes (w/ Freak)

The action kicked off in the CWA ring with an exciting tag team match between title hopefuls, Colt & Alex, and the unconventional duo of Sheep and King Rasta! Colt began the match with Sheep, struggling to come to terms with the raw power of The Royal. Sheep called upon his brawling tactics to dominate Colt, who was forced to tag out in the early goings. Alex matched up with Sheep better, proving deceptively powerful despite his reasonably agile frame. Sheep and Rasta shared some confusing moments, debating tags with Rasta's pet monkey, but in the end, it was the double-team efficiency of Lucky Colt & Alex that proved too good. Alex finished Gomes with the two-man combo of a spinning heel kick into a snapping german suplex.
Winners: Alex & Lucky Colt

The interview trench was under Canadian invasion as Rip Saber stood by ahead of his match.
Saber referred back to International Blowout where the Canadian Commando was teamed with an inexperienced kickboxer named Joe. He said that while he didn't know Joe well enough to feel emotionally involved, he wasn't at all happy with the spook tactics being used by the man called Wraith. He revealed that Joe hadn't been heard from since his defeat on the previous week's SNSM, so Saber was going to take it upon himself to drop the bomb on the dark one.

Rip Saber versus The Wraith
Saber's bravado took a blow as the eerie muscle bomber, Wraith, made his entrance. The dark giant was stoic when he entered the ring, unmoved by Saber's barrage of chop blocks and punches. Saber hit the ropes, looking to add some momentum to his strikes, but instead of scoring with a running lariat, he ran directly into the clutches of the Wraith! A chokeslam brought the match to a sudden close, rendering the feisty soldier unconscious!
Much as he did against Joe, the Wraith kneeled over his defeated opponent, emanating an eerie green glow as his robes draped across his body. Just like Joe; a motionless Rip Saber had to be removed from the ring by medical officials.
Winner: The Wraith

In the locker rooms; El Stinger, El Fuerte, and R. Mika were gathered together in a huddle. The Lucha Stingray had words of encouragement for his recent allies, ahead of singles competition against the minions of Astro. Stinger said he was suspicious of Astro's activities since the CWA revival, describing his movements as uncharacteristically subdued. He informed the younger muscle bombers of Astro's previous role as a representative of the now defunct rival promotion, BWA, as well as a main event contender for the CWA Heavyweight Championship. He warned that both Mysterious Budo and Kimala would resort to any tactic to secure victory, but under Astro's command, could have even more malicious plans for the pair. They showed quiet confidence in El Stinger's sage-like advice as El Fuerte headed out for his clash.

El Fuerte versus Kimala the Bouncer
El Fuerte lived up to his name ("the strong") as he jumped into the ring against over 400lbs of muscle bomber!
It quickly became apparent that the weight difference would have little impact on a muscle bomber whose arsenal was his own body! El Fuerte dominated the opening course of the match with raw speed and tenacity, using the ropes to spring into a graceful exhibition of crossbody blocks and high risk top rope manoeuvres! When Kimala sought the refuge of ringside, Fuerte still proved able to punish the Bouncer, splashing with an Asai moonsault! Despite the continued momentum, the outside would prove to be El Fuerte's downfall. Kimala was able to turn the outside of the ring into a weapon, countering a crossbody into a bearhug collision with the ring posts! Kimala rolled his opponent back into the ring, finishing the brief assault with not one, but two big splashes!
After the match, Kimala took pleasure in standing over his beaten opponent, further adding insult to the punishment by picking his limp body up to deliver a devastating spinebuster slam before returning to the back through a hail of boos!
Winner: Kimala

Darun Mister was in the interview trench with a lot on his mind. He responded to Victor Ortega's arrogant claims for the championship with reference to his two convincing victories during the CWA comeback. He described Ortega as an unworthy champion reliant upon words more than true courage in the ring. He described himself as a superior contender, and transitioned his attentions back toward his Russian rival, Zangief, whom he still intends to defeat during his time in CWA. He promised to add another victory to his undefeated streak to further prove his worth.

Darun Mister versus Sodom
It was a test of wills as two muscle bombers well known for their careers outside of CWA collided in the ring. Like two bulls, they locked up in the centre of the ring several times, before Mister finally broke the collision with a sidewalk slam. Sodom walked into several scoops as the match turned in to an unorthodox battle of speed and slams. A shoulder thrust off the ropes bought Sodom some breathing space, provoking him to make the unlikely decision to venture toward the top rope! Showing aspirations of a puro high flyer, he braced for a moonsault, only to be suplexed with a belly to back off the top rope! The Indra Bridge put the exclamation point on the match, handing Mister his third consecutive win in CWA. The Indian muscle bomber surveyed the crowd silently, before returning to the locker rooms.
Winner: Darun Mister

In the backstage area, El Stinger and Rainbow Mika watched concerned as El Fuerte was wheeled past on a stretcher. The lucha defied medics, rolling off to return to his concerned allies and assure them he was not badly hurt. Medical staff forced El Fuerte to return to the stretcher, expressing concern about potential internal injuries. El Stinger clenched his fist and teeth as he and Mika headed toward the entrance.

Rainbow Mika (w/ El Stinger) versus Mysterious Budo (w/ Astro)
El Stinger accompanied R. Mika to the ring as her anti-joshi campaign transformed into a personal battle of honor against Astro and his partners. The sinister masked muscle bomber accompanied his championship partner to the ring, confirming the need for Stinger's presence.

Mika was uncharacteristically stern as she faced off against her skipping kabuki-faced opponent. Budo questioned the referee about something, before flicking his hair toward the eyes of Rainbow Mika! Stunned, she was helpless as Budo flung her into the ropes with an irish whip, colliding with a jump spinning heel. Budo dragged Mika to her feet, showing little chivalry in dropping her with a hiptoss followed by a rear chin lock!

Mika's tenacity couldn't be disputed as she broke free of an adapted sleeper hold, springing back to life with a suplex! The resurrection was brought to an end as both Mika and Budo hit the ropes, colliding simultaneously with the same clothesline in mind. El Stinger broke his hawk-like gaze on a relatively uninvolved Astro to cheer Mika on, helping summon her to her feet a fraction faster than her high-flying opponent, giving her the wits advantage to deliver a piledriver! Despite the high impact move, the effects of a gruelling match were showing, leaving Mika unable to capitalize on the pinning predicament.
At ringside, El Stinger's temper was starting to get the better of him, leading to a confrontation with Astro, while in the ring, Budo took a knee so only the crowd could see his pale cheeks puffing up. Seeing Mika still on the mat, Budo turned his attentions to his besieged partner and sprayed green mist into the eyes of El Stinger! Little did the tag champion realise, however, that Mika was only playing possum, and sprung to life to hit him with the flying peach!

With a roar from the crowd, Mika picked up the pinfall victory!
Winner: Rainbow Mika

After the match, Mika exited the ring to check on the condition of El Stinger. Whilst doing so, she failed to notice Astro lurking up behind her with a raised arm. Astro grabbed Mika by the hair and dragged her back into the ring. He helped his partner back to his feet in preparation for an attack, but El Stinger, wiping green from his eyes, rolled in to the ring and attacked! The quartet devolved into an all out brawl, prompting Commissioner Haggar to emerge at the entrance!

With officials flooding the ring to tear the muscle bombers away from each other, Haggar expressed disgust in the tactics of the tag team champions and referred back to his speech at the beginning of the show about natural order. He told Astro that it was time for him to fight for himself, and on the advice of doctors that El Fuerte would be fit to compete, he announced a six-person tag team match for the next episode of Saturday Night Slam Masters between El Stinger, R. Mika & El Fuerte and Astro, Budo, and Kimala the Bouncer!
With both muscle bombers in the ring, Victor Ortega grabbed a microphone to address his opponent and several other issues that had presented themselves. Ortega immediately bit back at Darun Mister's comments about his methodology, describing his current predicament as proof of his willingness to prove himself by fighting. He then attacked Zangief for not being a fighting champion, asking Mister why he would be so desperate to fight a coward. He ominously warned that next week he would take care of Mister and his loudmouth, but on this week's Slam Masters, would indulge what he described as Mike Haggar's blatant favourtism for a former student. Zalazof remained composed, despite being described as coward incapable of winning his own battles.

Victor Ortega (current contender) versus Aleksey Zalazof

Ortega tossed the microphone aside to let his fists do the talking for him, abruptly starting the fight with a series of harsh right hands. With Zalazof down, the undefeated muscle bomber tore the shirt from his super-human body, flexing and posing for the crowd!

As Zalazof made it to his feet, Ortega tossed him into the ropes, knocking him down with a confident clothesline! Ortega pulled his opponent off the mat, locking him in to a modified version of an abdominal stretch. He compelled Zalazof to quit, but the young Russian showed no signs of giving up so easily. Not content to issue slow damage, Ortega hoisted Zalazof into a running powerslam! Immediately after impact, he took squat to this time implore submission with a deep seated camel clutch. Though the intense pain was written all over Zalazof's face, he again refused to buckle under Ortega's immense strength.

Showing signs of frustration, Ortega took to the turnbuckle, climbing to the second rope to deliver a diving axe handle to Zalazof. Despite the successful blow, Zalazof rose immediately to his feet, defying the power behind Ortega's giant arms! Zalazof resisted one slap, a second, and then blocked a third! The stunning turnaround gave him opportunity to knock Ortega back with a standing dropkick! He leapt back to his feet, hit the ropes, and collided with a running lariat to the stumbling Ortega, but alas, he would not fall! The Russian hit the ropes once more, but this time, found himself running directly into the bearhug of the original muscle bomber!
Again Ortega compelled Zalazof to submit to his hold, but even with the flow of oxygen to his lungs greatly restricted, Zalazof would not quit!

Zalazof could barely stand as Ortega released his grip, teetering on the brink of unconsciousness as his knees wavered above his feet. Clearly defeated, it took only a hard belly to belly suplex to finally put the Russian out of contention. Arrogantly, Ortega draped himself over Zalazof's body to retain his shot against Zangief at CWA: Heat Up Scramble on Sunday, June 28th!
Winner: Victor Ortega

With the match over, Ortega mounted the turnbuckle to pose for the crowd, beckoning them to bow before the next CWA Heavyweight Champion. Even as he did, the Red Cyclone and current World Champion, Zangief, emerged at the entrance with the title strap over one shoulder! The Russian watched silently, unimpressed by the number one contender's antics. When Ortega spotted him, he began shouting challenges and abuse, leading over the ropes with an extended finger to call Zangief into the ring then and there. The Russian simply nodded his head in recognition as Saturday Night Slam Masters went off the air.

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