Thursday, August 31, 2017

Ultimate Composer Power Rankings

It's been a little bit of a break but I am finally back! It took me a bit because I had to continue my research into this post's topic, composers! We talked about some composer stuff on the podcast over at the Daydream Instruction Manual (making up the D.I.M. part of this blog's title), but I was saving some of my material for this post.


I've been thinking about this one for quite awhile, and listening to quite a bit of the music. I compiled a list of composers that I knew immediately off the top of my head to put into my rankings because I wanted this to reflect what casual people would notice while watching a movie (or in some cases, a television show). Most of the composers on this list you can immediately identify from their musical style, and that's what I was going for. I came up with a list of nine composers that I'm pretty sure you have heard of, or at least know the movie or show that they provide great music for.


Now I know there are many composers out there that could have easily been on this list, but they might be people that I'm not familiar with (I know, it's all subjective with what you watch) or they might have made some music that just didn't grab my attention.


We talked a little bit about music that could possibly be distracting on the show, but my feeling is that it can only enhance it. Most of the music soundtracks that I will list in this post take a movie from being good to feeling absolutely epic. I tend to enjoy great marches as they can really pump you up. There are a lot of soundtracks that can be defined as blasé (most of them sometimes can be from Hans Zimmer, sorry Hans), and they don't grab my attention and or they sometimes feel like white noise. My feeling is that if you can walk out of the movie humming the tune of the main theme or any other part of the movie, then it is a pretty memorable soundtrack. And no, the sound of beating your head against a wall doesn't count, Hans.


So in order to achieve my rankings, I developed a scoring system that breaks down as follows:
10 points for each Memorable Score
25 points for each Oscar Win
1 to 10 points for use of Awesome Industrial Sound
1 to 10 points for use of Exotic Sound (Matching Setting of Movie or show)
10 points for having a connection to THE BATMAN
10 points for Utilizing ZZ Top
-10 points for each Score in which you were granted a Writing Credit due to your Apprentice
and a special 25 Point Oingo Boingo Bonus


With that in mind, let's get to it!


9. Eric Serra


Memorable Scores: 20 (GoldenEye, The Fifth Element)
Awesome Industrial Sound: 10 out 10


Total Score: 30 points


Serra is best known for his industrial and techno scores and the two I mentioned above are his standout performances. His soundtrack to The Fifth Element is extremely noticeable and fits the film perfectly. It is a huge reason why he often teams with his fellow Frenchman Luc Besson on all his films is the futuristic sound he generates. Some Bond critics hated his GoldenEye soundtrack saying it didn't give the feeling of classic Bond movies, but I absolutely loved it. He masterfully created a vibe that screamed Cold War and still included many of the essential Bond elements. I love the way that Serra incorporates bass into his scores, it provides the low end any orchestra could create, but give it more of a comfortable vibe than a driving force.




8. Ramin Djawadi


Memorable Scores: 40 (Game of Thrones, WestWorld, Clash of the Titans, Warcraft)
Awesome Industrial Sound: 5 out of 10
Exotic Sound: 5 out of 10


Total Score: 50 points


Djawadi is certainly my up and comer on this list. He is rapidly becoming one of the most sought after composers and certainly has ambitious vision when it comes to creating music. His two television supershows make this list, with both Game of Thrones and WestWorld having some of the best soundtracks you could find on television. The Game of Thrones theme song is ingrained into anyone who watches an episode and his array of styles shine brightly in WestWorld. His industrial score comes from how he interwove two styles into the series, one of which being very heavy in tech vibes for all the 'real-life' scenes in the show. He combines bass-heavy tones to create a very futuristic feel while at the same time making it feel somewhat sinister in nature. He doesn't get full marks yet on his industrial sound since most of his memorable works are in his driving marches that usually revolve around medieval/mythological settings. The moment I heard the main theme from Clash of the Titans and the very first song from WarCraft, I knew these soundtracks were awesome.




7. Alan Silvestri


Memorable Scores: 40 (Back to the Future, Predator, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Avengers)
Awesome Industrial Sound: 2 out of 10
Exotic Sound: 3 out of 10
Utilizing ZZ Top: 10


Total Score: 55 points


Any Back to the Future fan knows the themes from all three movies without you having to even hum them. Silvestri made that music iconic, and he usually followed his buddy Robert Zemeckis around. The reason you don't see me giving full credit for all three BTTF movies is that the later two don't stand out that much different to me from the first one. You could almost take the score from the first one and apply it to the sequels, so I can't separate them out like I can for some later works coming in this list. Silvestri's industrial and exotic points come from his work on Predator. If you want to know what these two seemingly different styles sound like together, listen to this soundtrack. Sounds futuristic but in the jungle. Cannot forget to mention that he gets the ZZ Top bonus for including them in Back to the Future Part III and featuring an awesome acoustic version of Doubleback.




6. Hans Zimmer


Memorable Scores: 100 (Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean: Black Pearl, Dead Man's Chest, At World's End, The Rock, The Lion King, Batman Begins, Sherlock Holmes, The DaVinci Code, Inception)
Awesome Industrial Sound: 2 out of 10
Exotic Sound: 2 out of 10
Connection to THE BATMAN: 10
Oscar Wins: 25 (1 win)
Writing Credits: -40 (The Rock, The Lion King, Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean: Black Pearl)


Total Score: 89 points


Hey, Hans, how's it going? Despite all the negative things I've said about some of his recent works, he does have a ton of good ones. Some of them I feel like he took all the glory on because his name was listed as having worked on it, but had his apprentices write most of them. It could be the other way around, but on Pirates, Klaus Badelt was known to have written most of the music, under the supervision of Hans. As much as I love the music from The Rock, I recognize Nick Glennie-Smith as the composer, but Hans has his name attached to this score as well as Nick was yet another Padawan learner. I know this is a petty way of docking him points, but such is. He could have done the lion's share of Simba's movie (haha, pun intended, dad joke) but we all feel Elton John did the most work. Heck, after listening to the awesome march from Pirates, I feel the awesome march from Gladiator was also done by Badelt (who was known to have worked on that film). Hans almost feels like the guy at the top of one of those Ponzi schemes, and we know how much we like guys like that.




5. James Horner


Memorable Scores: 60 (Apollo 13, Aliens, Braveheart, Titanic, The Rocketeer, Jumanji)
Oscar Wins: 50 (2 wins)


Total Score: 110 points


James Horner passed away too early (at 61). He usually teamed with director James Cameron, hence the Titanic and Aliens connections, and his Apollo 13 score feels me with a lot of emotion every time I listen to it. I literally break out into goosebumps when I listen to The Launch song as it encapsulates so much of what is happening on screen. He should have won an Oscar for Apollo 13, but alas, there was a problem and he didn't win (Il Postino did). Ironically the year that Apollo 13 was up for the Oscar, Horner had 2 of the 5 nominations as Braveheart was that very same year. Even with Jumanji in his list of credits, his exotic score doesn't register because for a movie with a lot of jungle elements in it, he didn't really incorporate the vibe I feel you should get (No, the jungle drums simply do not count).




4. Howard Shore


Memorable Scores: 60 (Lord of the Rings: Fellowship, Two Towers, Return of the King, The Hobbit, Gangs of New York, King Kong)
Oscar Wins: 75 (3 wins)


Total Score: 135 points


Howard Shore is one of those guys that you might not know his name but you know his stuff. Usually Peter Jackson's partner-in-crime, his driving rhythms from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are what deliver that epic feeling to them. You can't tell me that when the main theme of The Lord of the Ring booms out in the massive battle scenes, or when the Fellowship begin their quest that you don't feel like standing up and yelling, "HELL YEAH!" I include all three of his LOTR scores because although some of the themes are reused, there are enough differences that I could pick out which movie they are from. For instance, Two Towers is filled with more of the Uruk-hai themes than the Fellowship. For one of the most out there scores in this post, Gangs of New York in a lot of places feels disjointed and odd, and in no way would I ever forget the weird rhythm of the opening flutes.




3. Danny Elfman


Memorable Scores: 100 (Batman, Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands, Nightmare Before Christmas, Men in Black, PeeWee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Dick Tracy, Sleepy Hollow, Mission Impossible)
Awesome Industrial Sound: 1 out of 10
Connection to THE BATMAN: 10
OINGO BOINGO BONUS: 25


Total Score: 136 points


Mr. Elfman has created some of the quirkiest music I have ever heard in my lifetime and I love it so much. I guess it goes hand in hand with his buddy Tim Burton, in that Elfman does every movie that Burton puts out. Every track from the original Batman movie his amazing, Batman Returns takes it and makes it creepier while maintaining the same bombastic quality of the first one. Dick Tracy has an awesome theme song and part of the reason it is my favorite comic book movie of all-time. PeeWee's Big Adventure brings a smile to my face every time and makes me laugh. For all the quirks in his music, he gets his industrial point for Mission Impossible. And who knew the guy could write lyrics as he did for all of the Nightmare Before Christmas? OH THAT'S RIGHT, HE FORMED THE AWESOME GROUP OINGO FREAKIN' BOINGO! This guy doubled as the frontman for one of the best bands in the 80s.




2. Jerry Goldsmith


Memorable Scores: 100 (Congo, Mulan, Ghost in the Darkness, Alien, Planet of the Apes, Patton, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The 13th Warrior, Total Recall, The Mummy)
Awesome Industrial Sound: 2 out of 10
Exotic Sound: 10 out of 10
Oscar Wins: 25 (1 win)


Total Score: 137 Points


Sadly, Jerry is another composer who is no longer with us, but his music is widely known even if you didn't know his name. My favorite thing about Goldsmith was his ability to incorporate a variety of instruments you don't normally find in orchestras and create music that spans the globe. His works from Congo and Ghost in the Darkness make you feel like you are in Africa and his Mulan perfectly encapsulates Chinese styles. He was a master of exotic sound, truly a student of the world's music. His score from the 13th Warrior is one of the first movies I felt had that driving adventure/epic march to it that movies like LOTR, the Hobbit, Gladiator, and Clash of the Titans would later use to illicit much of the same feeling. His older works of Alien and Planet of the Apes, although not the massive overtures that most movies have, were very effective in conveying the feeling of the movie while adding a layer of mysteriousness. He even adapted into a little bit of industrial styles with his Total Recall score while not completely abandoning his classical style.




1. John Williams


Memorable Scores: 170 (Star Wars: Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, Last Crusade, Harry Potter, Superman, Jaws, Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Home Alone, Hook, The Patriot)
Exotic Sound: 3 out of 10
Oscar Wins: 125 (5 Wins)


Total Score: 298 points


The man, the myth, the legend. John Williams is the absolute epitome of composers for my generation. He has not only provided the soundtrack for most of my life, it is ingrained into a lot of people. All six of his Star Wars pieces are distinct from each other. Sure, some use themes from one to the next, but he then fills the score with new music that is vastly different from the one before it. Same with the Indiana Jones series. To me, the first three Indiana Jones scores are the single best trilogy of scores of a single property that exists in the world. Temple of Doom is so different from Raiders as Last Crusade is different than both of them. I can also see the entire movie from what Williams does with the scores for all three Indy movies, and that speaks volumes. His Imperial March from Empire Strikes Back might be the most iconic piece of music ever written for film. The Jurassic Park theme is forever etched into my mind, and what set his Jurassic overtures apart from some of his other work is the island feel he inserts into a bunch of songs. He puts a lot of tropical flair into songs like Jurassic Park Gate, Dennis Steals the Embryo, and Malcolm's Journey as well as other on the Lost World soundtrack. Keeping this in mind though, you can always tell a John Williams score from almost anyone else, and can't help but admire the London Symphony Orchestra, in which Williams uses every bit of them as he can. I've not heard a composer that literally uses every single instrument available to them that he does. Williams single handedly made bassoons cool. Look it up. Any kid that grew up with the Harry Potter franchise associates Hedwig's Theme with the books and anything associated with it. I'm pretty sure that one of the two things people love from The Phantom Menace is Williams's song Duel of the Fates alongside Darth Maul. Everytime I hear the themes from Hook, I feel like I want to go to Neverland (No, not the Ranch). And boy, how many people don't want to go into the water because of the music from Jaws (or you know, that shark). His themes are some of the most iconic in cinema and he is the golden standard. If you want yet another reason to bask in glory of his work, go listen to the Mine Car Chase from Temple of Doom and tell me that those violins don't blow you mind. I mean, who thinks of that stuff?! That's why he's the best.


There you have it, my ranking of composers of my generation. Yes, there has certainly been a number of absolutely fantastic composers from a time way before me, like Henry Mancini (who is awesome), but these nine guys are the ones who have definitely had an impact on my life. I hope to you readers that you remember some of the works that I listed above and makes you happy about the role it played in your life, or that you enjoy it as well. As always, if there are some that I didn't list (and I know there are a lot more I could've added as almost all these guys have 50+ credits on their resumes), list them in the comments. I hope you guys enjoyed reading this as this is a subject that I love to talk about if you want to chat, just email us at daydreaminstructionmanual@gmail.com!


Thanks for reading,


Mike G.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Retro Gaming - Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Well here it is, the continuation of the Retro Gaming series that I plan on doing every so often. If you want to see the first entry in this series, click here to go back and check out my write up on Sunset Riders. This time we will be focusing on an old Sega Classic from the Genesis era, Sonic the Hedgehog 2! I know what you are thinking, why not talk about the original Sonic game, but here's the deal, I didn't really ever play the original. The only one that I grew up playing was Sonic 2. Never actually got to play any of the sequels either.


However, I won't deny that I am a Sonic fan. Even though I didn't play the other games, I still knew the characters and growing up through the 90s, I watched BOTH Sonic cartoons that graced the television. Yes, there were two different Sonic cartoons that aired roughly at the same time it seems. There was Sonic the Hedgehog and then there was also The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. One was vastly superior to the other one, in terms of story and in art. That's a story of a different think piece though, so we will get back to the reason for the post, to dive into the awesomeness that was Sonic 2.




Now, as you might know, this was the introduction of Tails into the equation. As the game was designed for the ability for two players, this game was like being Mario and Luigi in the sense Player 1 was always Sonic, and Player 2 had the cruddy job of being Tails. I say it this way because being Tails was the worst. You always got left behind Sonic's vapor trails, and you would come flying back into screen... slowly. By the time you were probably going to land, you most likely were already left behind yet again. To top it off, you were also the scapegoat for every bad thing that happened to Sonic. Sure, you couldn't die or lose the rings, but you could defeat enemies and hit Robotnik only to make it so Sonic lost rings and died. It was basically being stuck in Sonic purgatory. Never the hero, a big part of the reason that Player 1 loses the game.


At the same token, if you were playing solo, Tails was even more annoying than playing two players. This is where he usually screwed things up even worse than in two player mode. At least the other person playing as Tails could use common sense to not hit Robotnik or you could at least coordinate your attacks, the AI Tails was the worst. He mimicked your moves as Sonic, only they were like a half second too late. So when you tried to hit a combo on Robotnik to eat into his hit points, Tails would hit slightly behind you causing you to fall into the dangers and lose your precious rings. This is the main reason that I would try my damnedest to lost Tails and make him fly in slowly, so he can't wreck stuff. Which happened often.


So the game starts off in the Emerald Hill Zone, making you feel all warm and cozy as you zoom along the grassy knolls and through the vertical loops that are wonders of nature.




(Just as a side note, in the picture above you can already see how stupid Tails is. He isn't even going the right direction). These levels, being the first in the game, are obviously very easy and can be done super quickly. The enemies are super bad at their job, except for the damn robot monkeys that for some reason seem to always hit you with their coconuts at some point. The spikes that shoot up out of the ground also seem to be the most pesky thing in these two levels, but are easily avoided.


If you played these games, you know there are always two parts to each zone. I call the first one the time trial level where you just try to get through it fast collecting as many rings and gear as you could to maximize your score. The second level of the zone is always the Boss level. This is where you face Dr. Robotnik himself as he operates one of his many machine vehicles that do various silly things.


In the Emerald Hills Zone, he shows up in his very own drill car. Why he has a drill car? Who knows? As with his later levels, his vehicles tie into the environments. This one however, I don't really get.





I guess it is his version of a dune buggy, that isn't in the desert, but oh well. As easy as it is to beat this boss, simply jump over his drill on front and you are good, Tails can definitely screw you up big time here. The fastest way to beat him is by letting Sonic bounce on him multiple times to count against his health (usually about 7 or 8 hits I think). Doing this though, since Tails follows your lead, hits him and throws off your bounces big time.

But after you beat him, then the funny part happens. His vehicle blows up and he flies away in his Robotnik-copter and you run and open the egg container that holds all the little cute and fuzzy animals that inhabit the zone. Yay! Happy day!

That only lasts a short while until you hit the second zone, the Chemical Plant Zone. Robotnik's terror he brings to the peaceful lands.


This area is filled with toxic water and tons of pipes and falling floors. This area is notorious for the section where the level fills up with the toxic chemical and you have to get out as quickly as you can before you drown. This level has some of the coolest music in a game full of cool music.

The boss for this zone is one of the toughest in the game in my opinion. There are falling floors on the edges of the screen and if you fall into the chemicals that lie below them you lose your coins or die. Which happens a fair amount because Tails gets in the way very badly here.


The trick to this boss is that he drops his vat of blue gunk on you, but it adjusts to your location. So you essentially have to 'trick' the game into thinking you aren't where you are. This is not that hard to do as you generally just jump to hit Robotnik when he is really close to letting go of the stuff. Once again, after blowing up his little vehicle, he flies away and you release the animals that were contained in the egg unit. And you go on your way not caring how the animals get out of the chemical plant, I just assume they somehow get out safely without drowning in the toxic chemicals.

Following in the footsteps of the chemical plant zone is the Aquatic Ruin Zone. If you like levels that are nice and easy going without a lot of hassles, these levels are not for you. Just a fair warning.


These levels feature lots of water that if you fall off the upper portions of the levels, you are left to complete them under water. You then have to make use of the pockets of air bubbles to survive, and it can be slow going. Then you have the annoying robot flies that hinder your progress and ring earnings, and arrows that shoot out of pockets throughout the ruins. Basically these levels are filled with pests.

What makes up for these levels is the fact that the boss for this zone is one of the easiest, if not easiest of the entire game.



Robotnik has the silliest vehicle in this one with a giant hammer plastered on the front that hits the top of the totem poles and they shoot out an arrow. After dodging the arrow, you use it to climb up to hit his ship, or like what I did, stood on top of the totem and easily hit Robotnik all the times require to blow him up before he shot another arrow.


After the Aquatic Ruin Zone, you head into another of the Robotnik industrial zones, but this time seems fun and goofy, is the Casino Night Zone.



These levels are some of the most fun because you can actually gamble for extra rings and lives in the slot machine spots located throughout the level. It basically plays like a huge pinball machine, and I've wasted so much time gambling for lives. I usually don't get the speed bonus for these two, but boy do I get a crapload of rings and lives by wasting time. These levels also don't really feature hardly and bad guys, maybe like 5 at the most.

Robotnik's casino cruiser seems like it should be easy to beat as he sits in one place to drop his spike bomb, but he isn't easily defeated by bouncing multiple times on. You sometimes have to hit him one at a time.



The trick is to use the pinball flippers and hit Robotnik as he gets closer. Now, usually Tails is a pain, but this is the one level that he is helpful. Since you really can't get double hits from bouncing on Robotnik, Tails following you provides that second hit every once in awhile and greatly boosts the speed of defeating Robotnik.


After the colorful casino sequence, you start trekking up into the Hilltop Zone. This zone takes place on the mountaintop peaks, but is evidently not high enough to be above the no tree line.




In addition to the pitfalls off the mountain, apparently it is also a volcano. And in the lava, Robotnik has designed robot Plesiosaurs, which are awesome until you easily kill them. The most nerve wracking part of these levels is where you get trapped in the cave, and the lava slowly rises, making you move up quickly to get out. What takes away a little bit of the anxiety is the fact you could get the invincibility box that takes the threat of the lava taking away your rings or lives. At least until it runs out, at which point you still have to get out without dying.


Once you get to Robotnik's next vehicular creation, he has somehow made a lava submarine. Which is nice. At least until you blow it up.



He pops up on whichever side you are standing on and then shoots a couple fireballs, then lights that platform on fire. So it's simple. Just jump over the fireball, then stand on the other platform, then attack. Tails can be a pain here as well causing you to fall into the lava.


The next stop on the Sonic around the fictional land tour is underground in the Mystic Cave Zone. This area features some of the best designed levels and fun looking characters. Of course there are bats, but then some Mario-like chain monsters, and tons of spikes in the ground. The music here is pretty awesome with a haunted vibe to it.

Robotnik here decides to basically collapse the cave on you with his custom cave collapser. Patent pending.



He drills up into the ceiling causing a bunch of stalactites to come falling down. Then once he comes back down to the mine cart rail, tries to drill you. He must have seen Total Recall or something. But after dodging and jumping over him, you blow him up while not forgetting to yell, "SCREW YOU BENNNY!"


You then feel like you have to be getting close to the end of the game. But not so! You get transported to the great Oil Ocean Zone! I think it was creating from the Exxon Valdez oil spill.



Do not fear if you fall into the oil, you can get out of it, but you sink like quicksand into it. The most annoying thing of these levels is the sloped pathways that basically make it almost impossible not to get hit by the flying robot seahorses. In my opinion they are the most dangerous enemies in the game, excluding the semi bosses later in the game.

Once you reach Robotnik, he continues his newly acquired love of submarines with an oil submarine. But this boss is so easily defeated it is funny.



As seen in the photo above, all you have to do to beat this boss is keep jumping under the platform in the oil while the bad things happen above. After his laser beam shoots the platforms and some dart-tipped metal snake or something shoots over the platform, Robotnik shows up in his sub and when that happens, you open up a can on him. Sometimes you can destroy him on his first appearance because you can just bounce on him quite a bit (Tails helps). Seriously, this is the easiest damn boss fight you will ever have.


Getting deeper into the Robotnik industrial segments, you next hit up the Metropolis Zone. Basically a power plant full of crummy typical video game trope jumps and gimmicks that are pretty annoying.




With the praying mantis dudes who fling their arms at you and the robot crabs that are inconveniently placed, these levels are made to purely frustrate the player. There are times that are few and far between that I could make it through the entire stage without losing my rings at some point. And to make it worse, there aren't two stages to the Metropolis Zone, but THREE! Yay, more crummy frustrating levels to suffer through!


As you get through the third stage that it feels like you get turned around in all the time (it's impossible to, I know), you finally get to Robotnik who is seemingly surrounded by egg balloons.



He shoots the balloons at you that you pop them one by one, until you defeat him. You really can't attack him until the number of balloons go down, so unless you are a professional Sonic speedrunner, I would recommend not going after him until the number is pretty low.

After you get done in the Metropolis Zone, you board a biplane with Tails and shoot down stuff as you get to the Wing Fortress Zone. This level is a not like the others, but in a good way since. At the end of the biplane sequence, the game finally does what the player has wanted from the beginning, it shoots Tails down and he doesn't even interfere with you in this level! Finally you are free of that insufferable flying fox!


As you navigate the harrowing jumps so you don't fall to your death, you get to one of the toughest, if not the toughest sequence of the game, the 'boss' fight on the mothership.


This sequence, as a kid, is to put it mildly, a bitch to complete. It was so hard that I never beat it as a kid. It wasn't until I got a Nintendo Wii that I was able to download and beat this game. Since there really wasn't an internet or a game guide for this as a kid, I honestly thought this was the last boss battle of the game. I mean, look at Robotnik! He's right there! Not in a custom crafted creation!

The worst part of this whole thing is the spiked platforms that kill you, but the laser in the ceiling that you can't dodge unless you hit it before the beam hits the ground. Otherwise you are more or less killed. Sure you can try and maintain your rings, but they disappear really quickly as you are probably hit multiple times.

So what happens after you defeat the laser? Well, you chase Robotnik and he somehow runs faster than Sonic (How? The 8th wonder of the world) and flees into outer space. Well damn. Game's not over.

So you follow him to outer space to the DEATH EGG ZONE. What a name. And the worst part of this is, there are no rings. You touched? You're dead. Better hope you have lives stored up. I say this because you first face a mechanized Sonic. That if you touch anywhere other than his nose, you are dead.


Once you figure out the pattern of his attacks (by dying until you get it right), you can beat him fairly easily. But unless you memorized his order over many years, then you will die. A lot. There is also a handy glitch that lets you not jump and risk missing the small target that greatly helps beating him faster. Then he power slides across the floor, you jump as he gets to you, you hit his nose and you basically clip through him. I don't think that was intended by Sega, but oh well, it works. I've done it many times and only have to deal with like three crazy moves MechaSonic does.

After he blows up, Robotnik gets into his Hulk Buster suit and is probably the easiest final boss I have ever faced. All he does is fall from the ceiling, then shoots his arms out a little distance, walks, and goes back to the ceiling.



So what you do to beat him is easy. You sit at the very edge of the screen until he gets locked in on you, then you sawblade to the other side of the screen which is out of range of his arm shots. You can hear the sound effect from his arms, then you can hear him step. Once you hear that, run over and jump and hit him in the face. Then do that sequence again. Be patient and voila! You blow him up and win the game!!


You then fall from the Death Egg Zone, through space without dying, and Tails catches you on a biplane and takes you to ground. You get a happy cutscene with all the animals you saved with some cheesy music and that's the game. It literally could take you 30 minutes or less to beat. It only took me over ten years to beat from the time I had a Genesis to the time I owned the Wii. But hey, I felt satisfied I beat a game I couldn't as a kid. Now if only I could do that with Super Mario...


Thanks for reading,


Mike G.



Saturday, June 24, 2017

Alien Week - Mos Eisley Cantina Alien Rankings

Hey, everybody! It's been awhile since I've posted since I've been gone on vacation, but I'm back in the saddle. This week I decided to post something related to the Podcast Arcade's Alien Week going that is about to conclude, so please check out all the cool things the Arcade has put out this week! Thinking about what I wanted to write about, with stating on our podcast, Daydream Instruction Manual (or DIM), I said that one thing growing up that really got me started on aliens in the famous cantina scene in Star Wars - A New Hope. So taking that a step further, I figured I would rank the alien species that could be found in that set piece.


Now, let me get this straight, if I ranked all of the species that are in that scene, we would be here until the next Star Wars movie comes out in December. With that in mind, I narrowed it down to my Top 10.


What I find so awesome about this scene, not only is it in a 'space bar' in a trading outpost located in a "Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy", is that the Star Wars team created so many exotic aliens to fill this space. If the Star Destroyer chasing the Blockade Runner at the very outset of the movie didn't pull you in (how could it not?), this scene definitely grabbed your attention and made it feel like there is a whole galaxy full of life and crazy looking creatures. And the coolest thing growing up as a kid watching this, is THAT THEY ALL HAD THEIR OWN ACTION FIGURES!!!! (I know, I fell into the big trap of Star Wars merchandising.)


Not only did I have a bunch of these action figures, but I had books about the aliens in the cantina (most notably Tales from Mos Eisley Cantina) and Star Wars field guides that explained all about the planets in the galaxy and spaceships and all kinds of what not so I got plenty of lore about tons of these characters.


So without further ado, let's dive into the rankings!


Last - Yes, I have a last place because I felt they deserved to be included!


Devaronian




I put these guys last because I feel like they are basically space vampires. Or at least that's what I thought of them as a kid. They just look creepy, which I get is probably their intention of making them look this way. These guys I guess invented the hyperdrive systems and explored the galaxy way before the Clone Wars even started so I guess they are kind of a big deal. But who cares, they are creepy and they look like vampires, and after Twilight, no one should like vampires.


Tie for Last (Yes! We have a tie for last!)


Lamproid



I mean, why? Why would you create something that consists of nightmare fuel? Dice Ibegon, as this 'character' is named is a Lamproid, which is basically a large version of a real life lamprey and can be found in the ocean (which is dark and full of terrors). Lampreys latch onto you and suck your blood and are terrifying to see in real life as I saw some at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. I don't know about you guys, but if I walked into a bar (sounds like the start of a bad joke) and saw one of these things, I would turn around and walk right out. I know that the Cantina doesn't serve droids because they can't drink so they take up space, but how exactly does this thing work? I mean, come on!




10. Bith




Okay, we can now get into the real rankings. I know it might be low to some of you, but coming in at the back end of the top 10 is the real stars of the show, the Bith. Yes, they play some awesome music that you could sit and listen to all day, but let's be honest, they truly have faces for radio. Which is super convenient that they make music, but do they even have radio stations in Star Wars?


9. Morseerian




These aliens hail from the planet Merj and have four arms. They also breathe in methane through their masks. I put them in the list because they look cool, because anything that wears a mask and lives off methane gas has to be pretty bomb, right?


8. Duros




These guys probably look the most 'alien' of anyone in the cantina. If you think of Roswell, New Mexico and alien, you probably think of something similar to these guys. And look at those eyes! Blood red which is the universal sign for, "Don't mess with me punk or your blood will fill my eyes!" (At least that's what I think it means.)


7. Talz




I know what you're thinking, that this looks like a Yeti, because that's what my first initial reaction was. But this 'Yeti' actually has four eyes! The small ones are used for seeing in the day, and the large ones are night vision. That seems pretty legit. I wonder how they switch? Is it controllable or when someone shines a flashlight in their face do they freak the hell out? Their noses are used to also communicate, which you can see in the movie that it talks by rubbing his nose and it emits a weird sound. And in weird, I don't mean a harrowing roar that I feel a Yeti could make, but a little springing sound kind of like what Tigger makes bouncing around. Which I shouldn't feel too bad that it's not like a Yeti, because, well it isn't a Yeti.


6. Chadra-Fan




Of course this little guy is in the list! This is the real Bat Man. I guess these guys have two hearts, but even if one of them goes out, they die within a couple hours. Seems like it shouldn't be that way. Even though the one in the movie seems like a young kid, they don't grow over a meter tall. Which makes these guys the largest bats that I've ever seen (Man-bat doesn't count). Which I don't know if that is awesome or disgusting. Bats are gross.


5. Aqualish




One of the most famous aliens in the cantina, Ponda Baba, of Aqualish species hailing from the planet Ando. I would have put this race higher on the list, but this guy had to be such an ass to Luke for no reason other than he is just pissy. I mean, if I had a face that looked like a butt, maybe I would be constantly pissed like it's my job as well. This guy is so iconic though, he had to be on the list. Not because of the fact he got his arm sliced off by Obi-Wan, but because of his face. Isn't that what everybody wants? To have their face instantly recognizable? Well careful what you wish for Ponda Baba, you might get the backside of peoples' bodies slapped on it.


4. Ithorian




This guy's name is Momaw Nadon and for some reason just strikes me as awesome. Maybe it is because he just doesn't have a humanoid quality about him. These guys are called Hammerheads throughout the galaxy, except Stormtroopers make fun of them by calling them Leathernecks. Well, Stormtroopers, go work on your shooting skills! Ithorians also have two mouths, one on each side of their heads, to what purpose? Who cares!


3. Saurin



I don't know about you, but these guys look sweet. The guy is basically a humanoid dinosaur. I think he is the precursor to Bossk from Empire Strikes Back, who is arguably one of the top two aliens in the whole series. So that alone makes this guy awesome.

2. Defel



What makes this character so amazingly cool is that not only is he a space werewolf, but he was so scary that they cut him out of the special edition. Seriously, if you somehow can find footage before the 90s remastering, this guy was there but has since been replaced. Which is a shame, because just look at him! But fear not, as long as this blog is up, he lives on!


1. Rodian




If any of you know me personally, you would have had to known that the Rodian was going to be number 1. Greedo is probably my favorite character because that look is awesome. He basically has teal skin, wears an awesome blue space jumpsuit, speaks in a cool language, and then HAN SOLO PUNKS HIM! Yet another special edition sin by editing in the whole 'shot first' garbage. But that's an argument that has been discussed ad nauseum. As a kid, the look of these Rodians really struck me and instantly made them my favorite. Besides Ponda Baba, Greedo here is the only other one of this list that actually gets lines. And better than Ponda Baba, his lines get transcribed on the screen! So there!


So there you have it, my list of the Top 10 aliens that are in the cantina scene in A New Hope. Of course there are a bunch that I didn't include in this list, and maybe you readers have some additional ones. I know I left out Gotals, the Walrus man guy, and a couple others, but let me know which one you think should be in here. The fun thing is with this list is that some of these characters are only seen on screen for a couple of seconds if not half a second but they have become embedded into everyone's mind. So next time you watch this scene, watch out for all these characters!


Thanks for reading,


Mike G.







Thursday, May 11, 2017

METALLICA MAY-HEM!! - Ranking the Albums

IT HAS BEGUN! Metallica kicked off their North American tour yesterday in Baltimore and it marks the first time in TEN YEARS that the band is doing an extensive tour of the States. So this month, and it started a little bit last month, I am putting together a couple posts to share some thoughts I have about one of my two favorite bands (the other being Iron Maiden).


In this post, I'm going to run down my rankings of the Metallica albums and a couple of my thoughts on them. Now this list is THE BE ALL-END ALL of ranking the Metallica albums! Just kidding, everybody has their own tastes in music and probably ranks them all differently. Which brings me to my first point about Metallica, about how many of the original fans of the band seemingly hate them.


I find this very interesting as I got into Metallica later than most of the original 'Die-Hards' at around the year 1999. I'm not going to really disclose my age, but let's just say I was getting into my teen years at that time so I started really getting into music. My brother, who is a couple years older than I am, got me listening to Metallica and it really hooked me.


This is where I am different from the original Metallica fans of the early 80s. When I first started listening to them, I listened to all of their music up to that point as a whole. I didn't start out with the thrash metal that the old guard loved, I more or less started with all the songs from the 90s and listened a ton to Load and ReLoad. And guess what? I loved the hell out of it. Sure, I knew of Metallica's thrash stuff (which I love as well) but starting out the opposite of the old guard I thoroughly say that I love pretty much everything Metallica has done.


I get the feeling that many of the old fans felt 'betrayed' by Metallica's choice to change their style, but guess what? They don't have to continue to prove that they are the Masters of Metal. They did that. They are the biggest metal band in the history of the genre. What Metallica did in the 90s is they furthered their reputations as MUSICIANS. They sought out to try out new sounds and prove their worth and in my opinion they absolutely nailed the blues rock they put out in Load and ReLoad (which all the members of the band acknowledge they are big fans of blues).


This isn't to say that those are my favorite albums. We'll get into that later, but the fact of the matter that fans can get so pissed at a band for not making music that YOU like, doesn't mean that others (like me) heavily enjoy can't like that music as well. Sure, call them a 'sell out' or whatever, but I haven't sold out on them. They've climbed the pinnacle and anything they've done in the last 20 years is icing on the cake for me. I'm happy they continue to put out new stuff and try new things. And lately, they've gone back to some of that thrash metal sound that everyone loved to begin with.


Just think of it this way, every time an old guard tries to slander a band because they didn't like something, it has the potential to turn a younger fan (again, like me) away without exploring all of their music and falling in love with it. If you don't like it, just say it's not for you and move on. Don't call it 'trash' or anything, let it be and let others choose their own thoughts on the subject. I've been there before. Godsmack was a huge favorite of mine in the early 2000s and I love the Faceless album to death, but after that they changed their style and it wasn't really for me. I didn't slander what they were doing, it was their choice, and so I moved on.


So let's finally get into how I broke this down (you can punch me if you see me if you thought I was too preachy prior to this). Asking me to rank the Metallica albums is like asking me to pick my favorite kid. If I had kids, I guess. So how did I go about it? Empirically of course! I (sadly) ranked all of the original Metallica songs from 1 to like 110. I did it more or less by thinking which song would I rather listen to and slotting them into position. The song ranked first gets all 110 points all the way down to one point. I then scored the albums and then took the average point value of the songs. I had to take the average because albums like Load and ReLoad have a lot more songs on them and thus, skew the numbers in their advantage unfairly.


So without further ado, here we go!


10. ST. ANGER (score avg: 34.7)



I'm almost certain that many individuals will put this album last. Even though I have this album last, I have to say it is probably my favorite album cover of all 10. The reason I had to rank this album last is because there aren't any patented Kirk Hammett face-melting solos in here. Most people say 'piccolo snare' and get nightmares. I didn't mind it that much. This album does hold somewhat of a sentimental value to me as it was the first new album that I bought from them after I started listening to them. Whereas most people would just shrug this album away, I actually do enjoy this album at times. In high school I would do homework to this album and I would play these songs on my bass guitar when I had a bad day. Made me feel better I guess. I really enjoy a couple songs off here with All Within My Hands being my favorite. I love the riffs in the song, and that goes for a number of songs on this album. The riffs were so amazing to me that at times I didn't mind not having a solo mixed in there. Sweet Amber and Dirty Window are two more that I highly enjoyed. The Unnamed Feeling was another that I instantly liked. And of course, how can you not like the intro to Some Kind of Monster?

9. HARDWIRED... TO SELF DESTRUCT (score avg: 45.8)



Frankly, I was surprised that this one came in as low as it did for me. I really liked this album when it came out last November. I listened the hell out it, and I guess that the newer songs didn't grow on me as much as Metallica's other stuff. Some of the songs on the back end didn't really sway the needle with me, but a couple entered into my 40 like Spit Out the Bone, Moth Into Flame, and Atlas, Rise! Those three songs I really enjoyed and made my long flight back from Japan feel shorter. There were a bunch of solos that I dug on this album and a ton of riffs that brought a smile to my face. Here Comes Revenge and Now That We're Dead are some others that are just fun to listen to and have a nice groove.

8. LOAD (score avg: 47.9)


If it wasn't for a couple songs on this album, it might have been below Hardwired for 9th, but there are some that I rate very highly on here. One of my top 10 favorite songs comes off of here and is Bleeding Me. The first time I heard that song, I was in love with it. I love the blues of it and the solo by Kirk is one of my absolute favorites. The S&M version of that track is so relaxing to me that I listen to it all the time. I'm also a huge fan of King Nothing and 2x4. In fact, one of the first Metallica songs I listened to (besides the well known Black Album ones) was Ain't My Bitch. Another relaxing track that I love off this album is The Outlaw Torn. Not to be forgotten is Wasting My Hate, which I feel like is the greatest Metallica song to not have a solo in it. There is a lot of great things on this album, but there are also some things I wasn't big on. And pretty hard on it my rankings that drug it down. Songs like Mama Said, Thorn Within, and Poor Twisted Me fell almost in my bottom ten, and ultimately brings the score way down.

7. RELOAD (score avg: 49.2)


This album fared a little better than Load because the depth of songs to me was a lot better. I was a huge fan of almost everything on this album when I first heard it. Fuel and Memory Remains are fan favorites and I love them as well, but I like some of the lesser knowns on here. Fixxxer is probably my favorite track off the album. But here are four others that I find highly underrated: Slither, Bad Seed, Where the Wild Things Are, and Prince Charming. Ultimately, this added depth strengthened the album as a whole to me and put it over Load. Also, one other note about these two albums. I know they aren't considered metal by really anyone and most die hards hate them. But here's something you can't deny: These are really, REALLY good ROCK albums and are a lot better than what a lot of other bands have ever put out!

6. DEATH MAGNETIC (score avg: 51.5)



This album really grew on me the more I listened to it. I don't think there was really any song that really broke into my upper echelon of songs, but there also wasn't any songs that really bottomed out in my list. Well, except for My Apocalypse, I'm not too big a fan of that song, but I will still listen to it. I think why I enjoyed the heck out of this when it came out is because it was a return to form after St. Anger and they made me smile like a kid in a candy store with their bone crushing riffs and shredding solos. The first time I head the main riff in Broken, Beat, and Scarred I can't deny it, I giggled like a little kid it was so awesome to hear it. I also really liked their return to an instrumental piece with Suicide and Redemption. Also, Unforgiven III totally made up for the other sequel to The Unforgiven and became one of my favorites on the album. I would have to say that my favorite track on here would be That Was Just Your Life as it reminded me a lot of Hit the Lights, except on steroids.

5. METALLICA (Black Album) (score avg: 55.5)


Well here we go, we're getting into the reason why most of you are here, right? To see which of the 'BIG' albums is going to come out on top? Well the first domino to fall is the Black Album. It falls this low because of the album cover. Except the Don't Tread on Me Snake is awesome, but look at that cover, man. Can it get any blacker? (Had to get a Spinal Tap reference in here!) Just kidding, it didn't beat the other four albums because I feel like some of these songs are overplayed to me. Don't get me wrong, I'm as much of an Enter Sandman fan as the band thinks everyone is, but I'm not as big on Sad But True and Wherever I May Roam as a lot of people. Honestly, my favorite songs off here, other than The Unforgiven, are Holier Than Thou, Through the Never, and Of Wolf and Man. I do like Nothing Else Matters a lot, if nothing else for Kirk's bluesy interlude in the middle or for James's crushing guitar solo at the end. I also fondly enjoy My Friend of Misery (probably because I'm a bass guitar player) and also of The God That Failed.

4. KILL EM ALL (score avg: 60.0)


This is where my upper echelon truly begins. Kill 'em All (a.k.a. METAL UP YOUR ASS) provided a bunch of my top 40. I always get a kick out of the Metal of Your Ass shirts and everything you see because if it wasn't for record studio execs not letting them use that as the name of this album, that is truly what it would have been called. Instead, Metallica named it Kill 'em All in reference to those execs. Heh. The Four Horsemen is by far my favorite song off this album, but others like Hit the Lights, No Remorse, Motorbreath, and Jump in the Fire really get my blood flowing. This is the beginning of where you see the average scores go way up as a ton of the songs off the old four are rated really high to me. Granted, Dave Mustaine provided the studio recording of this album, but I've seen Kirk Hammett perform all these solos like they were his own. Sorry Megadeth fans.

3. RIDE THE LIGHTNING (score avg: 65.8)


It is really hard to come up with things to say about these last three albums as everything that has ever been said or written seems to be known about them. But coming in third to me is Ride the Lightning, but I really like almost every song on this album (and the top four albums for that matter). I think the song that drug the score down for this one is Fight Fire With Fire as I felt it was the weakest opening track of the top four albums. I know James hates, and I mean HATES, the song Escape, but I know a lot of people that enjoy it. I enjoy it, but it was also farther down my list. My favorite song on here is the instrumental Call of the Ktulu. It was just amazing to me to hear that song the first time and not be blown away. Ride the Lightning's solo and interlude part are one of my favorites in any Metallica song. For Whom the Bell Tolls and Creeping Death are fan favorites. And of course, Fade to Black was an instant classic the moment they unveiled it for the first time.

2. MASTER OF PUPPETS (score avg: 71.8)


I know this may be a shock to some, that I rate Master of Puppets second on this list. This, to many, is the penultimate Metallica album. But it came in second ever so slightly. This album, despite having four of my top ten favorite songs on it, ended up lower because of most likely one song, The Thing That Should Not Be. For whatever reason, I just cannot rank that song very high despite the awesome riff because of the majority of the time in the song where there is nothing but lyrics. Most Metallica songs fill the void in with shredding riffs, but for some reason this song always leaves me feeling wanting. Despite what many think, I actually think Master of Puppets is the most iconic Metallica song, not Enter Sandman or One. My favorites off this album though are Battery, Leper Messiah, Orion, and Welcome Home (Sanitarium). I love the entire Orion song and the dicotomy of the first and second halves. The cosmic groove of the latter half continues to be one of my favorite parts of any song, of all-time. Sanitarium is one of my go to songs to kick back and relax.

1. ...AND JUSTICE FOR ALL (score avg: 73.4)


Here it is, my pick number one pick. My top two favorite Metallica songs come off of this album and most of my top 20. I really think if it wasn't for The Thing That Should Not Be, then Master of Puppets would be number one. This album, coming off the heels of the death of Cliff Burton, I could only imagine was this would sound like if he was still there and they didn't put the mute to Jason's bass guitar throughout much of this album. This album is already my favorite, but if it had the same sound as Master of Puppets, it wouldn't be close to me. Blackened is in my opinion the best opening track on any of the albums, and is my favorite song by the band. Immediately it is followed up by the title track, and features some of my all-time favorite riffs. As good as One is, I'm more of a fan of Harvester of Sorrow and Dyer's Eve. Shortest Straw is one of the most underrated songs that the band has released. And then you add in Eye of the Beholder and To Live is To Die? Come on man, this album is the greatest one they have released. I'll admit, it took awhile for The Frayed Ends of Sanity to grow on me, but there is some genius to the madness embedded in the riffs of that song. Of all the Metallica albums, this one, to me, is one that I could put the disc in my car, and never once hit the 'next' button. And that is why it is ranked number one in my opinion.

But everybody's opinion is different so if you disagree feel free to let me know! I would love to hear some opinions of others as I always love talking music. So there you have it, my rankings of all ten of the original full length albums that Metallica has put out there. Hope you enjoyed it!

Thanks for reading,

Mike G.


P.S.

My Top 10 Metallica Songs:

1. Blackened
2. ...And Justice For All
3. Bleeding Me
4. Battery
5. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
6. The Four Horsemen
7. Call of the Ktulu
8. Leper Messiah
9. Orion
10. Harvester of Sorrow





Monday, April 24, 2017

Rollercoaster Tycoon - METALLICA WORLD

With Metallica kicking off their US leg of the Worldwired Tour coming up a month from now, I figured I'd post the first of a couple of things dedicated to them starting with a little creation I made over a decade ago (about 14 years ago to be more precise). I'm referring to my theme park based solely on the music of the metal masters, Metallica World!

This was created in Rollercoaster Tycoon 2, with the aid of a bunch of different custom pieces that I got through downloads of some other awesome parks I found in fan forums and what not. This was the first huge theme park that I set out to create. I later followed up with Star Wars Galaxy, which I wrote one of these blog posts on in which you can find here.

The idea for this park came about on the heels of Metallica's release of the album St. Anger, and during high school I would think about names of awesome roller coasters and it suddenly dawned on me that many of Metallica's song names would make for some kick ass names, and thus voila! I had dreamed up the initial phases of Metallica World, and I dove right in to create a world filled with one of my absolute favorite bands songs bracing the nameplates of all the attractions and stores.

So what was the result of my mind hitting the computer game? Below is the overview shot of the entire park.


The park itself consists of seven different areas: For Whom the Bell Tolls Plaza, Haunted Hollow, Mount Metallica, The Sanitarium, Metal Zone, Ancient Isle, and Where the Wild Things Are. One thing you might note, there is nothing with the Death Magnetic or Hardwired albums in here, because, duh, I created this park in 2003. Even if I wanted to add stuff from those, I cannot as all that remains of this park is embedded in the screenshots that I have (which about a third will show up in this blog).

As I stated earlier, this was my most ambitious theme park I had set out to create at the time, and I put a ton of detail into this thing. You might notice that there are little Pepsi vending machines strewn around in some of the images, and that's how in depth I wanted to make it. I wanted to make something that was seemingly something that could be a real thing. I guess you could say this was the beginning of my super in-depth love of theme parks, but I know it started a little earlier than this, this was just the beginning of pushing the game to its max.

So let's dive right in shall we? As you enter into the park, you enter through an old castle because these guys are the Kings (come at me bro). But on a serious note, I just figured it would be sweet and I really wanted to use some of the theming to create a sweet entrance. Sweet entrance means that the park is going to be sweet. I think I accomplished that.

 
Once inside the gates, you get into the prototypical 'Main Street' area named For Whom the Bell Tolls Plaza that features a bunch of shops and restaurants. But what makes this one a little different is that I included a few rides like Frantic the For Whom the Bell Tolls Tower. The tower ride slowly has you ascend up the tower until you reach the top, then the bell tolls and you fall 150 feet! The area also includes a huge concert venue called Hit the Lights Grand Theater. The Until it Sleeps Hotel is located here as well as the attached Breadfan Casino. I even included a Budweiser Brewery near the hotel, because why not.
 
 

If you take a right upon entering the gates, you will head into the first of the themed areas, Haunted Hollow. This area features a bunch of attractions that draw from the 'scarier' named songs. There is a haunted house called The House That Jack Built, a bumper car ride with the cars in the shape of eyes called Eye of the Beholder, the Blackened Lounge, among other things that feature songs like Fade to Black, Devil's Dance, and Damage Inc.
 
 
 
The area also features four roller coasters, with the first one being Creeping Death. This is a corkscrew coaster that has five inversions on it, with a couple that hug the path so guests can get a creeping fear into them as it passes over their heads.
 
 
The next coaster is located in the corner of the park and is the massive wooden roller coaster Harvester of Sorrow. The song had to have a ride named after it because it is such a cool name and of course I had to make it a wooden one with Harvester in the name. This is one of my favorites in the park.
 

 
We then head over the inverted roller coaster named Phantom Lord. Inverted coasters are usually crowd favorites as your legs dangle below you. This coaster has seven inversions on it and most voted to make you puke. Seems right for an evil named ride, right?
 
 
I didn't want to make Enter Sandman a roller coaster because of course everyone thinks you are going to do that. So I took a different approach and made a somewhat of a Splash Mountain style ride where you slowly build up to the climax of the solo and plunge into the night and the dark depths of the ride. From the overview, it looks like nothing as seen below.
 
 
But once I turn off the scenery and give you the underground view of the ride, you can see there is a huge build-up to the drop. The little sign above the drop that you view from the path says, "EXIT LIGHT, ENTER NIGHT" as you drop into the darkness.
 
 
The last coaster in this area of the park is the floorless roller coaster Master of Puppets. I wanted the legs to dangle like a puppet, naturally, so I used the floorless design. Why not make it an inverted roller coaster then? Well because I wanted this ride to be big, and this style can be built higher and faster than an inverted one. If I remember correctly, this thing goes over 60 miles per hour and it still has numerous inversions as well. Just a note, if you haven't noticed in the screen shot, I even put the little white crosses out in front of the ride entrance just like from the album cover!
 
 
In the back corner of the park, I wanted to create a nice scenic overlook of the entire place so I created Mount Metallica. This section has a chairlift for those who don't want to hike up the side of the mountain, and you still get to see the cascading waterfalls and rock outcroppings. At the summit of the Mount is a shopping plaza with an overlook out over the park.
 
 
Smack dab in the center of the park is the Metal Zone. Along with its three roller coasters, there a ton of other attractions like the Orion Café, 2x4 Go Karts, Disposable Heroes laser tag, Ride the Lightning Theater (where I envision the experience like an electric chair!), and the Wherever you May Roam Arcade. Metal Militia and Whiplash also have their representation here as well.
 
 
The first coaster in this area is Battery, and it is a steel twister that is situated right above the go karts. This coaster also has seven inversions in its very compact nature and which really makes you feel pretty beaten after you get off of it.
 
 
The next coaster here is called Motorbreath and this one is an LIM Launch coaster that fires you out of the station at nearly 70 miles per hour and then you navigate is twisted metal track until your face is melted.
 
 
The final ride in this area is the steel screamer named Fuel. This is one of the fastest in the park, and it's so fast that the color of the train fades from red to white from the front to the back! Okay, you can control that, but I'm going for effect!
 
 
As you head to the back of the park, you cross a bridge and into Ancient Isle. Some of the heavy hitter songs are represented in roller coasters back here, but also some cool little rides like Through the Never time machines and a Prince Charming spinner. The Four Horsemen Lounge is another great bar here.
 
 
The coaster that is located in the middle of the area is the wooden twister named The God That Failed. A wooden twister provides for steeper curved drops, but the difference mainly lies in the design of the ride vehicles. As you can see, there are a lot of twists and turns on this roller coaster.
 
 
The two behemoths that loom large over Ancient Isle though are two of Metallica's most well known songs. The first is the massive steel hypercoaster called One. This guy goes up to speeds over 80 miles per hour through numerous tall drops.
 
 
The other huge coaster in this area has its entrance found in a small castle that spans the midway and is called King Nothing. This steel hypertwister also goes over 80 miles per hour but features a lot more twists and turns as opposed to the massive hills on One.
 
 
Going back up to the front corner of the park, where if you would take a left after entering, you would enter the area known as The Sanitarium. Different songs featured here are The Unnamed Feeling, Dirty Window, Escape (in a launched lift ride), The Cure, Leper Messiah, and The Memory Remains. The area is heavily themed in a gothic cathedral style. Two other attractions that can be found here are the My Friend of Misery boats that have you navigate a channel filled with nightmares as a grim reaper sits on your boat a la Charon and the Of Wolf and Man Woods. The Woods is a hedge maze that tells you that if you don't make it out in time that you will turn into a werewolf!
 
 
The first coaster here is a stand-up twister roller coaster named Somekind of Monster. Always have to get a stand-up one in a park somewhere, and I enjoyed making this one in its compact and narrow form. It still packs in quite a few inversions, which is essential for stand-ups.
 
 
Located in the center of the Sanitarium in its own church-like confines is the dual steel launch coasters The Unforgiven and The Unforgiven II. Yes, I know there is now an Unforgiven III, but again, it wasn't out at the time so it was super convenient to make these two. These two get up to speeds over 85 miles per hour before scaling the tower and dropping you in reverse back to the station.
 
 
The tallest and fastest roller coaster in the park honors though belongs to the giga coaster enclosed in its own cathedral. A coaster with this name has to have the 'honor' of being the most extreme in the two big categories, so of course its name is St. Anger. As stated, you enter into the unholy shrine of this colossus before you get your face blown off by speeds over 95 miles per hour and drops over 300 feet.
 
 
 
The last section of the park is a jungle themed place called Where the Wild Things Are. In addition to the last three coasters of the park, the other songs that are represented here are Slither, Bad Seed, The Thing That Should Not Be, The Outlaw Torn, Whiskey in the Jar, and Sweet Amber.
 
 
Upon entering the land, you will come face to face with the vertical coaster Minus Human. It's called a vertical coaster because it has the ability to have a drop at 90 degrees. You might say that most can, but this one has a brake system that pauses you before the drop so you in essence stare straight down for a few seconds before it releases you (Google: Oblivion at Alton Towers). In this case, the pause comes before the ride drops you into the Minus Human Thicket making you plunge into the bog and underground in the back half of the ride.
 
 
The other titanic wooden roller coaster of the park is located here and is one of my favorites, Call of the Ktulu. This is the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in the park and is rated way more extreme than Harvester is. This is also the one of the longest coasters at over 7,000 feet in length.
 
 
The last coaster of the park (which is #16 I believe), is another steel twister coaster, but this one has a ton of inversions and is tall and really long. This voodoo inspired creation is entitled Fixxxer. You really zoom through the jungle and swamps and try not to get those pins stuck in you!
 
 
So that does it for my first foray into highly detailed roller coaster tycoon antics. It's hard to believe that I completed this 14 years ago, but alas, time flies I guess. I know there are a bunch of songs that are represented throughout the park that I forgot to mention in this post, but I know that I think I had pretty much every song up to that time covered. I know a bunch of the Garage Inc. ones didn't make it in here except for only a handful like Breadfan and Whiskey in the Jar. But most of their original songs I think all made it in here in some form or fashion.
 
I know I was extremely proud that I completed this thing back in the day, and I still think of it as one of my masterpieces (this is my art guys!).  I've heard from some of my friends that they couldn't believe how this turned out and I agree with them. When I started it I never thought it would look like this, but it did and I remember I had a blast doing it. Which that is why people have hobbies isn't it? To do things that you enjoy to do, and creating this was a lot of fun. Too bad it won't ever become a reality, but if it did, you know you want to visit, don't you?
 
Thanks for reading,
 
Mike G.