Guess what? It’s Black History Month in case you didn’t know. Therefore, I declare February to be Black Videogame History Month! To celebrate black history, I decided to list the five greatest black videogame characters of all time! Sorry Bo Jackson, Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson, and Tiger Woods fans, but I decided to stick with fictional characters. Bo Jackson may not be eligible for this list, but he is still a monster in Tecmo Bowl. Anyway, let’s take a look at some of the “brothers” who pioneered black presence in the gaming world:
5. Barrett (Final Fantasy VII)
Barrett the first black playable character in the history of Squaresoft’s legendary Final Fantasy series. He wasn’t just the token blackie of the game either, he was quite deadly with that gatling gun. Barrett is truly the Jackie Robinson of RPGs. Here’s a little known fact: FFVII’s designers considered killing off Barrett in the game but decided it would be “too obvious”. Hah, the black guy survives this time!
4. Player 99 (NBA Live 96)
Michael Jordan was the hottest thing smoking in the 90′s sports scene. Expensive shoe line? Check. Blockbuster Film? Check. Own trademark as an NBA player? Check. Jordan wasn’t a part of the NBA Player’s Association and withheld his own rights to be featured in any NBA licensed products, including video games. EA sports could never land Jordan in their NBA Live videogame series and so Player 99 was born. Player 99 filled Jordan’s empty spot on the Chicaco Bulls’ roster in NBA Live ’96 and a few subsequent years. He was a pretty ample replacement for Jordan. In fact, he played like Michael Jordan on steroids. Even MJ wasn’t that good.
3. Balrog (Street Fighter)
If you don’t know who Balrog is, your right to call yourself a gamer needs to be revoked. Balrog was Capcom’s fictional tribute to Mike Tyson. In fact, in the Japanese versions of Street Fighter, the American Balrog is named Mike Bison, the American Vega is named Balrog, and the American M. Bison is named Vega. He wasn’t just a token black guy either, he served as one of the “Shadaloo Grand Masters” along with Sagat and Vega.
2. CJ (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas)
CJ is an important figure in black video game history. He is one of the only fictional black videogame characters to have a starring role in a blockbuster videogame. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was one of the most immersive titles in Rockstar’s GTA series. CJ could learn different fighting disciplines, work out, and find all sorts of ways to wreak havok throughout the state of San Andreas.
1. Black Boxer (Boxing)
“Boxing”, released in 1980 for the Atari 2600, is the home of the greatest black videogame character of all time: The Black Boxer. Boxing featured two playable characters: A white boxer and a black boxer…sounds like Joe Lewis vs. Max Schmeling doesn’t it? The black boxer was a pioneer in the early days of the videogame, and he may have been the first black videogame character ever. Black boxer, we salute you for your contribution to black videogame history!
Sometimes the business of music can be so stressful, so it’s good to be able to take breaks and have fun with my creativity. Since the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic, I’ve been glued to my computer levelling and kicking ass in huttball with my sith assassin “Branson” (check me out on the Ven Zallow RP-PVP server). When I heard the main theme music, I was inspired to sample it into a beat and record a song called “Cold Republic”. The song wasn’t really about Star Wars, but a lot of SWTOR players loved it (a lot hated it too). I then sampled a few more bits of SWTOR soundtrack and recorded some funny nerdcore songs about Star Wars and SWTOR. With that said, today I’m releasing this small collection of songs as a mixtape titled ”Cold Republic Episode I: The Empire Likes Rap”. Also included are the instrumental SWTOR beats I made for each song (as well as the “Skywalkin” beat produced by OVBeatz), in case people want to rap over the tracks themselves (or if they’re just not feeling my flow). Shoutout to Mark Griskey, the composer of a lot of SWTOR’s soundtrack. He’s been supporting the Cold Republic movement. Check out his official site! Also shoutout to Riley Hastings for filming in-game music videos to the songs. Check them out on his youtube channel SWTORLegit. Episode II might just happen if there’s enough demand for it. Maybe I’ll rep for the Republic classes out there Enough talk , download the mixtape HERE
DISCLAIMER: This SWTOR mixtape is by no means meant to be taken seriously, it’s just meant to be entertaining. Enjoy!
Here’s yet another rap based on Star Wars: The Old Republic off of my upcoming “Cold Republic” mixtape. This one is called “Cipher Agent Cypher” and I’m representing for the imperial agents this time around! Stay tuned, the Cold Republic EP: Episode I is coming February 10th!
Here’s a song from the upcoming Cold Republic EP vol. 1 that describes the pain of looking for a group in SWTOR (or any MMORPG, for that matter) when you’re not a healer or tank.
I’ll be the first to admit that Huttball is the most addicting part of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Branson, my main character on the Ven Zallow server, is one of the illest huttball players under level 50 on Ven Zallow. I usually lead every game in at least two statistical categories: most damage and most medals. However, such skills didn’t come easy. To be honest, when I took my first steps on the huttball field as a rookie, I had no idea what I was doing. Huttball matches can get pretty frantic, causing players to scramble around the field with no sense of what to do. Here’s a few pro tips from Branson to get you to that hall-of-fame status:
1) Learn how to PASS THE BALL: Passing takes a little bit of coordination and a lot of teamwork, so be sure to keep your eyes open for teammates in the vicinity and ALWAYS be ready to pass the rock when you know you’re about to die. Set the pass ability up with a hotkey and when you’re ready to pass, click the hotkey and then click the area where you want to pass the ball. Whoever is in the radius of where the ball goes will catch it.
2) Protect the guy with the ball: Be creative. If you’re a healer your role is pretty self-explanatory. Offensive players should use crowd control and stuns on enemy players attacking your team’s ball carrier. One of my favorite techniques as a sith Assassin is to use “guard” on the ball carrier to absorb half the damage they receive. Then I use mass Mind Control to further reduce damage to the ball carrier by enemies.
3) Play your position: Figure out your particular role and stick to it! Once you get into a particular groove, don’t disrupt it by trying to be Rambo out on the huttball field. If you’re healing the ball carrier, don’t go off trying to kill enemies just to rack up kills. Just do your job and your team will benefit. Once you get a taste of all the different roles you can potentially play in hutball, you may be able to effectively switch roles mid-game. Just know that not everyone can be Deon Sanders.
I’ll have more pro-tips soon. Till then, keep your head in the game.
Video games and humor go together like peas and carrots. The amount of humor found in video games can range from subtle to extreme. Video games with extreme levels of humor are usually a hit-or-miss affair. Often-times, developers focus so hard on making a game funny that they forget about the actual gameplay itself. However, extreme humor, coupled with tight gameplay, usually results in a successful video game. Saints Row: The Third is a recent example of how to successfully develop an extremely bizarre, yet funny video game. For this week’s retro game of the week, let’s take a look at a legend amongst bizarrely funny video games: Earthworm Jim 2
I bet you’re probably wondering why I didn’t review the first Earthworm Jim. Well, Earthworm Jim was a great game, but Earthworm 2 was one of those rare sequels that managed to outdo its predecessor. Yes, this game is Earthworm Jim’s equivalent to Star Wars’ Empire Strikes Back. The first Earthworm Jim was a great game in its own right, but its sequel took the humor and gameplay to a whole new level. Earthworm Jim 2 puts the main hero, a normal earthworm powered by an alien super-suit, in a variety of absurd situations as he attepmts to rescue “Princess Whats-her-name” from the clutches of the evil Psy-Crow. The game’s level design and gameplay elements have to be some of the most random and non-linear I’ve ever encountered. This game is literally a rollercoaster when it comes to variety: One minute you’re blasting through a typical run-and-gun stage and the next, you’re riding a rocket through the sky. The most bizarre level certainly has to be “Villi People”, where players have to navigate Jim through a set of intestines while disguised as a blind cave salamander. Even the last boss “fight” is completely unorthodox.
The game’s sprite-based 2D graphics are your typical 16-bit affair, but the game’s overall artistic design and color palette are very well done. The soundtrack is equally impressive, and features a lot of classical and italian music. With activities that range from saving puppies to avoiding spitballs while floating through a circus, the gameplay has more than enough variety to keep gamers on the edge of their seats.
Earthworm Jim 2 is a shining example of what happens when you successfully inject humor into gaming. From the eclectic music selecton to the wierdly awesome character design, practically everything about this game is hillarious. If you’ve never had the privilege of playing Earthworm Jim 2 or its prequel, dust off that old Sega Genesis or SNES and give it a try!
I love giant robots. Franchises such as Transformers, Voltron, Power Rangers, and especially Gundam all have a special place in my heart. I’ve been into Gundam since my high school days when Toonami brought the Gundam Wing series to U.S. cable television. I’ve always enjoyed the Gundam anime for its ability to combine frantic action with a serious, thought-provoking storyline. To me, Gundam Wing always set the bar for how a great giant robot anime should be. The series had great mecha design (Epyon FTW), awesome character development, and a damn good story. Few other Gundam series have managed to come close to the coolness of Gundam Wing (Stardust Memory and 08th MS TEAM are notable mentions), and surely it stands far above every non-Gundam giant robot franchise (sorry Transformers fans). However, one of the new kids on the gundam block, Gundam Unicorn, may actually give Gundam Wing a run for its money.
Gundam Unicorn takes place some time after Char’s Counterattack in the original Gundam Universal Century timeline. Banagher Links, Unicorn’s main protagonist, isn’t nearly as badass as Hero Yuy was in Gundam Wing but he’s a decent kid nonetheless. The story basically revoloves around a device known as “Laplace’s Box” and the Earth Federation and Zeon remnant forces’ efforts to find it. By accidentally putting himself in a position to pilot the Unicorn Gundam, Banagher soon finds himself caught in the middle of the two factions as they try to capture Laplace’s box. Of course this wouldn’t be a true Gundam series if it didn’t have a badass villain, and so Banagher faces off against a fierce enemy named Full Frontal
Nudity. Frontal is proof that the Gundam creators have this villain stuff down to a science: Blond hair? Check. Mask? Check. Badass Red Mobile Suit? Check.
The action scenes throughout this series are well done, especially the battle that introduces Full Frontal for the first time. Like most other Gundam series, Unicorn has an awesome soundtrack. Expect to hear great orchestral music setting the mood throughout key scenes in each episode. Speaking of episodes, the series isn’t very long. So far they’ve aired 5 episodes out of a total of 10 or 11. The five episodses i’ve seen so far managed to keep me glued to the edge of my seat, so I’m looking forward to the next episode that airs in May.
Check out more Gundam Unicorn info at www.gundam-unicorn.net
Happy Friday The 13th! I’m a big fan of the Jason movies but, to be honest, I never played Friday The 13th video game released on the NES back in 1989. I know they say you shouldn’t judge a book (or in this case, a game) by its cover, but it’s hard to look past the dreadfulness of this game’s cover design. For one, you do NOT put a rainbow on the cover of a horror game. Also, what’s up with the neon stuff behind Jason? It looks like he’s coming from a rave. In fact, that’s how pretty much everything in the late 80′s/early 90′s looked. Excessiveness was the word to live by during those days: Neon colored shirts, acid-wash jeans, big decals that say “turbo” on turbocharged cars, and big logos on video game boxes that say meaningless stuff like “Power Play Series” were all a part of everyday life. Like a lot of other movie icons, Jason Vorhees fell victim to the horrors of 90′s fashion. Anyway, I’ll just stick to the movies untill a real Friday the 13th game comes along.