Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fighting Games You've Undoubtedly Forgotten About Part II

In the last installment of fighting games you’ve undoubtedly forgotten about, there were some real winners in that batch of oven baked oatmeal cookies, and there are some more in this list. But there are also some real stinkers this time around. Make sure you pinch your nose near the end of the article. I think the landfill is calling to pick some of these losers back up.


Just recently re-released on the Virtual Console (Thanks for the shout out, by the way, Pete!), ClayFighter, while not revolutionary at the time, should have been. If not for its gameplay (And it DEFINITELY shouldn’t have been for its gameplay), then definitely for its creativity and uniqueness. Quite frankly, there’s nothing else like ClayFighter, and this is good at times, and also terrible at others. The assortment of characters is what does it for me though. Granted, most of it was just an ongoing gag of the fact that they were sculpted out of clay (Blue Suede GOO, anyone?), but it was a fun little roster, with Bad Mr. Frosty rounding out the pugilists. The graphics were also pretty mind blowing at the time. They weren’t Donkey Kong Country mind-blowing, mind you, but for a fighting game with some pretty good physics and jump attacks, it definitely was a hint at where the consoles were capable of going at the time. ClayFighter equals great fun.

Oh, and PS, the sequel had Boogerman and Earthworm Jim in it. Is there anything better than that?

World Heroes

Can somebody say total rip-off? Well, many Street Fighter fans did at the time, and a lot of them still do to this very day. But that’s straight-up poppy cock, as WH was loads different, like the fact that it only had three buttons (Hey, that’s three less, SF fans!) instead of six, and that, kind of like Eternal Champions, it based its combatants off of different periods of time, but unlike Eternal Champions, it actually had some real ones in there, too (Who knew Rasputin kicked so much heiny in his time?). The problem was, not many people were willing to give a chance back then, so the series pretty much ended at World Heroes Perfect. But some people still dig it, and you can find the original on the Virtual Console. It’s all sorts of greatness. Trust me, it is.

Rival Schools: United By Fate

A game so good, that a band named themselves after it ( , RS:UBF is a real romper stomper of a title, and definitely Capcom’s third best fighter outside of Street Fighter (Star Gladiator is my first favorite, and the next one down is my second). As a fighter, it was a bit different. Similar to the tag feature in the Marvel vs. Street Fighter series, you would pick two characters to wreak havoc on the screen, with the sports teams and school spirit being a nice touch to a pretty gimmicky feature. But this being Capcom, they of COURSE had to ramp up the weirdness to a million, as even the hot school nurse and the school principal had to get in on the mix, throwing out shoryukens like it’s going out of style (Which it never is, of course, how could it? They’re awesome). And while the actual meat and potatoes one-on-one combat wasn’t all that spectacular, whipping out those ultra-deluxe tag-team supers sure was something special. Whoo-Wee, too awesome, too awesome. RS:UBF is a decent game with more than a few features that make it stand out. Definitely worth a gander if you can even find it these days.


Darkstalkers is very much Street Fighter. And I’m not even calling it Street Fighter lite, either (i.e., Street Fighter Alpha one and two), but genuine, “I’ll quarter circle that aaaass,” Street Fighter, with all of the key ingredients already shuffled and stirred into the mixing bowl of success. There are the outrageous, but humorous characters (Anakaris, you have funny fingers), the high combo blasting supers, and even the tough as nails boss, that make this game every much a Street Fighter killer as any, even if it IS already underneath the Capcom umbrella. Is there any wonder why four of the characters from this series made the leap to Marvel vs. Capcom 2? Darkstalkers is an AMAZING game, and one that, if you’re a fighting fan, you can’t live without. Behind Star Gladiator, this is my second favorite, non-Street Fighter Capcom game. It’s just that good.

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story

Okay, whoever thought it was a good idea to have a story mode where you could only pick ONE CHARACTER (Acclaim, I’m looking at you) should seriously be brought out to a spanking range blindfolded and then just made to sit there with their bare bottom out, waiting for a paddling that will never come (It’s the ANTICIPATION that will hurt the most), because it’s a stupid idea. Seriously. Being able to only play as the man with the fists for the story mode is just plain weak, and it truly ruined what could have been an awesome experience, which was marred by the idea that the game had to stay true to the movie it was based on. The combat is kind of cool though, and I especially LIKE the ability to jump on your characters when they’re down, which was truly Bruce Lee-esque in scope. But really, the game was pretty much like playing Tekken before Law came along, and after that happened, it pretty much made this game obsolete. So yeah, it was a cool concept, but it was poorly executed. That’s Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.

Shaq Fu

Um, excuse me? You mean to tell me that Shaq has a fighting game? And it comes with a bonus CD of Shaq calling himself “Shaq Diesel”? Only in the Clinton years, my friend, only in the Clinton years. I mean, I know that NOW, the idea of larger than life basketball players doing superhero acts doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore, what with Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic donning a Superman cape and slamming it home at the All-Star game, but back in the day, this was almost as ridiculous as that Michael Jordan plat-former where he was bouncing on trampolines and acquiring points from nabbing basketballs—I said, almost. But truthfully, Shaq-Fu really is ridiculously terrible and quite possible one of the worst games—forget fighters, I’m saying GAMES—ever made. It had HORRIBLE hit detection, a tremendously hard difficulty level (I remember getting to the third character, like, twice), and a story that makes the Mortal Kombat mythology look like it was written by Gustav Flaubert. In other words, Space Jam made more sense, and that movie didn’t make ANY sense (It was pretty good, though. Great soundtrack). Shaq Fu? More like (Wait for it) Shaq-Poo! And I could care less if I just wasted my college education on a poop joke. This is America, dammit, and Kevin Smith is a star.

War Gods

This, I guess you could call it, “follow-up” to Mortal Kombat is an absolute mess disguised as something original. Really, all it is is people dressed up in funny costumes (Funnier than even Kabal from MK3, and that was pretty funny), walloping on each other and chanting strange things from surround sound speakers. Undoubtedly, this is even WORSE than Shaq-Fu (and did you read what I just wrote about Shaq Fu? That game is TERRIBLE). I mean seriously, I don’t think I could even TELL you what was so bad with it, but as soon as you touched that joystick, any smile you might have had on your face after eating at Roli Boli in the food court was utterly and completely destroyed, and you were stuck with trying to pull off any of the cool looking fatalities you saw in Ultra Game Players, only to end up uppercutting them really high and having them land, thud, right back on the concrete. Well, you know what, screw War Gods, and screw Midway for thinking people would actually be dumb enough to like it. Don’t you guys have market testers? They couldn’t have POSSIBLY have liked rolling around the bland as all get out stages and those cookie cutter combos, could they have? I mean, just look at the side of the cabinet. What the hell is THAT thing? I’ll tell you what it’s NOT. Awesome. Not even a little. Watch the video below and be disappointed in a whole new way!

Next up: Tobal, Bushido Blade, Guilty Gear, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and More…

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Review of Mishna Wolff’s Memoir, I’m Down

Don’t be fooled. As funny as I’m Down, a memoir about humorist and former model Mishna Wolff’s upbringing is, it’s not really about growing up as a white girl in the all black, Rainer Valley neighborhood in Seattle during the 1980s. Instead, it’s really a touching tribute to her father, John Wolff, who might just be the kind of afro-centric, white guy Norman Mailer was describing in his essay about the White Negro, illustrated by the way, as Mishna puts it, “He strutted around with a short perm, a Cosby-esqe sweater, gold chains and a Kangol—telling jokes like Redd Fox, and giving advice like Jesse Jackson. He walked like a black man, he talked like a black man and he played sports like a black man.”

Even if it’s not exactly as it’s advertised out to be, though, it still works on many levels, and that’s mostly because Mishna is honest about her childhood, revealing what pretty much every child learns at some point in their life—that growing up is hard to do.

This is never more evident than in the chapter “Flagrant Foul” when Mishna is forced to play on an all-black basketball team just because her father can’t think of any other way to keep her from growing up. Revealing the ins and outs of generally sucking at something, Mishna opens up about how she didn’t want to shoot any baskets because she didn’t want to disrupt her teammates from beating other teams by over a hundred points. It’s when she starts to shake off these apprehensions though that this punchy memoir begins to unravel itself to its emotional core and reveal its ultimate lesson—that being different isn’t always so bad. And by the end of this promising first book, Mishna comes out looking like roses.


Fighting Games That You’ve Undoubtedly Forgotten About, Part I

With the greatest fighting game of all time (Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, silly) coming to the X-Box 360 soon, I thought it’d be kinda nifty to recap some of the awesome fighting games that have disappeared from the face of the earth since first person shooters (why?) became the predominant genre that people flock to these days. If you can think of anymore that I may have forgotten, please leave them in the comment box below.

Fighting Vipers

I’ll be frank. Fighting Vipers is basically just Virtua Fighter with armor and gates. That said, armor and gates made the game WILDLY different than that aforementioned title, and in my opinion (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know you’re going to jump on my back for this), better. Using the walls strategically to bounce enemies off of, you could really rack up the air combos using the gates to your advantage. And the armor was an added treat. It made the game much more strategic than just walloping upon the other person with the punch button. Skilled Vipers (Is that what people who played the game would be called?), could evade and block and punish you for thinking that it would be as easy as just pounding the punch button to victory. Plain and simple, Fighting Vipers was awesome.

Star Gladiator

Speaking of MvC2, you know that strange looking guy with the plasma sword and the visor over his eyes named Hayato in that game? That’s pure Star Gladiator there (Or, Star, Glad-ee-a-tour, as it’s pronounced at the start up screen). Coming out even BEFORE the polygonal mess that was Street Fighter EX, this title was really hit or miss for Capcom. Even so, I still love it, if not for the spotty weapon combat, then definitely for the sheer oddballness of it all. Taking place in space, the characters range from a Wookie type thingy with an ax, to a green, Skeeter from Doug type guy with cosmic yo-yos and a conehead. All this in a semi-3D environment. Sure, the ring outs are FAR too frequent in this game, and sure, the robot character, Vector, was deceptively unstoppable in the right hands, but this is still a great game and my favorite of the lesser-known Capcom fighters. Try to find it. It’s more fun than people have made it out to be.

Bloody Roar

Bloody Roar is retarded. It’s seriously the dumbest fighting game you’ve never played, and also the most outrageously awesome. The combat when you’re just a regular Joe is just so-so, but transforming into a monster is a total blast. To put it in terms that would make you want to pick this game up on amazon, BR is basically that scene in Altered Beast where you transform, but ramped up to the extreme. Your characters, who can side-step and roll out of the way of attacks, can also transform into their alternate selves (My favorite, of course, being a bear), whenever the transformation bar is semi-filled up, making for some pretty wicked match-ups once the claws come out. In many ways, Bloody Roar was always the game that should have been much more popular than it was, but wasn’t because it looked so lame from the outside looking in. Brawlers turning into beasts? Pfft, what is this, Animorphs? But seriously, folks, it’s friggin’ amazing.

Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style

I hate this game. Why? Because it could have been so, so very awesome. Based off of the highly controversial, Thrill Kill engine, Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style had the potential to be a very unique and interesting title if it wasn’t muddled by horrible gameplay and bad for even its time graphics. Oh, and a difficulty level that rivaled even Eternal Champions (And yes, that game’s on this list, too). Packing up to four players at a time on one 3D battle ground, the weapon based attacks were flimsy, the move set was flaky, and the music was just plain annoying (And this is coming from a Wu-Tang fanatic!). And while all of your favorites are there—even the much missed, Ol’ Dirty Bastard—the characters are voiced by people who sound absolutely nothing LIKE the people they’re portraying (Since when did Ghostface have such a deep voice?). It all adds up to make a fighter that feels like it’s missing something. And that something is fun. It should definitely be played, just to see what could have been (Both in a Wu-Tang based fighter and also in the what-could-have-been Thrill Kill), but not for too long. It begins to hurt after about twenty minutes or so.

Time Killers

Mortal Kombat before Mortal Kombat was a household name, Time Killers was just as gory, if not more so, than the popular, spine ripping favorite. While not a very good game in retrospect, Time Killers had one major thing going for it—severed limbs and decapitations MID-ROUND. Yeah, you heard right. You could start the match off and be decapitated within the first two seconds with a well-placed sword to the throat. If seriously was the greatest thing in the world if you were a fat kid with boy boobs at the local pizzeria taking breaks from the greasy buttons only to reach over and take a bite out of your sausage pizza. Time Killers was just that kind of game, you know?

Eternal Champions

What I remember most about this game was that it was hard. And I don’t just mean, like, Seth at the end of Street Figher IV hard, but like, fighting Seth for every single level in Eternal Champions hard, because every character was harder to beat than the last by a significant margin. I also remember trying to burn off calories in an octagon shaped floor pad
called the Activator to middling success, often times punching the air in frustration because of not landing any hits instead of actually knocking one of the enemies in the jaw. In a lot of ways though, Eternal Champions is probably the most lamentable title on this list because it had a lot of potential to be more than just a come and gone sensation. For if Sega had not decided to put the kibosh on the series in an effort to make Virtua Figher more popular in the states (Sega of Japan decided that there could only be ONE fighter in America, so they decided on VF), we might be playing Eternal Champions 5 today instead of whatever crappy VF we’re currently on. Pick it up on the Virtual Console right away.

Next up: ClayFighter, World Heroes, Rival Schools: United By Fate and More…


Monday, May 4, 2009

Pro Bono Lawyer Gets Award For Good Deeds

We all know legal advice can cost an arm and a leg, but the Director of the New Jersey branch of Pro Bono Partnership and Chester resident, Nancy Eberhardt, is offering her clients something a little different—a helping hand.

“People can’t really believe that they can get a free lawyer,” Eberhardt says, who recently won the Abe S. Berliner Community Service Award from HomeCare Options on April 23rd for her noble deeds at the Pro Bono Partnership.

“I was really honored and surprised [when I got the award,]” says Eberhardt, who wasn’t at first sure why she got it since she feels that she’s just doing her public service to the community, “In the end, I was like, this is my job [and I really didn’t know why I was being awarded for it].”

One person who wasn’t at all surprised though was HomeCare Options Executive Director, Ken Wessel, who has gotten legal advice from Eberhardt in the past.

“We wanted to thank her for her legal assistance and also wanted other non-profits to know about what she did,” says Wessel, who is trying to get the word out there about how beneficial Pro Bono Partnership can be, “We were really killing two birds with one stone.”

The Prop Bono Partnership, which Eberhardt has been working for for almost six years now, is a tax-exempt charity that provides free legal assistance to public charities in the tri-state area.

“If we take somebody on as a client,” Eberhardt says, “It’s somebody who can’t afford a lawyer.”

Helping others in need isn’t anything new for Eberhardt, though, as she has always wanted to help out the little guy, ever since she was back in law school.

“I was thinking of doing criminal law in the beginning, but then I started doing environmental law,” says Eberhardt, “It was interesting, but when I started working with children and small organization projects, I started getting more excited.”

And she’s kept that excitement up, working with soup kitchens, battered women services, United Ways, and anybody else in desperate need of legal advice and lawyers but lacking the funds to pay for it.

“It’s great making the smaller organizations feel stronger,” Eberhardt says.

To find out more about Pro Bono Partnership, check out their website at To find out more about HomeCare Options, visit their website at

Local Woman Wants To Offer More Chances To Urban Boys

Let’s be frank, the urban school system in this country doesn’t have the best reputation in the world. But while everybody has their own opinion as to why this happens to be, not many people outside of the government are doing much about it.

Local Chester resident, Yvette Long, is.

“On the outside looking in, you blame the kids for joining gangs,” Long says, who has started up a non-profit organization in 2006 called Platinum Minds that she got the inspiration for after reading a newspaper article about inner city children living in a destructive environment, “But if you’re that kid and you’re scared to go to school because you think you’re going to get harassed or beaten up, joining a gang for protection might seem like [the only option for you].”

While not everybody is going to agree with this notion, Long only has the inner-city students from ages 11-18 in mind, as she has set up shop in her house to make it so any young urban male with a grade average of a B or higher has a way out of a potentially dangerous environment if they’re looking for it.

“I had been a model for most of my life,” says Long, who was once also into acting and singing but now has two kids, “But once I had my children, I kind of put that behind me and thought I could do more [for others].

And that more for others is Platinum Minds, which, outside of having preparatory classes for tests like the S.A.T.s, also finds more reputable schools and even homes for inner city boys who are aware that there are opportunities outside of their communities.

“Last year, we placed five students into schools,” says Long, “and this year, we have eight who are accepted and another four who are going to be accepted.”

Even so, Ms. Long doesn’t want people to come to the conclusion that she thinks urban schools are bad, or even that the people who run them are not doing a good job.

“We do understand that the [urban] schools can have great teachers,” says Long, who doesn’t want people to think she’s crusading against inner-city education, “but their hands might be tied because of some unruly students and it becomes less about learning and more about disciplining those students,” she says.

But sending these students out to college prep schools doesn’t necessarily come cheap, especially if Long and her group are not able to find a host family to take in the child in case they have to move or pay tuition. And so they rely on students getting scholarships and the generous donations of others.

“We had a very successful fundraiser [at the Olde Mill Inn Basking Ridge on April 24th] and it went very well,” says Long, who is also trying to send all of her current students out to summer camps in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, “but it wasn’t enough to get all of our kids into summer camp.”

Outside of the community donations, she also has been getting a great deal of help from the Gacksetter Foundation and the William Simon Foundation, as well as Jane Geiger from Far Hills Country’s Day-School.

“They have really made it possible for the kids to move on,” says Long.

Wherever she gets help from though, even if it’s just a contribution of $25, which she says, “adds up,” she still lives by the question: “Do you want to be in the game, or on the sidelines?”

For Long, that question is rhetorical, as she is already knee deep in “the game.”

“Together we can come together and really make an impact,” Long says.

To contribute, go to their website at,