Category Archives: Even Worse Streams

Xenogears 09: Question Not Thy god

Let's have a good laughFaith is important, but it is not everything.

Jessie B. Black, once known as Jesiah Blanche, was never a man of faith. While his son was dedicated to Ethos and the church, Jessie always believed the local religion to be a lie, and struck out on his own frequently. While this wreaked havoc on his family (his daughter became a mute, his wife became dead), Jessie persevered, and stayed true to his own principles. He fought the forces of Solaris in his own way, and did his absolute best to accomplish his goals… even if that often put him at odds with his son.

But Billy and Jessie teamed up when the nefarious Bishop Stone attacked. Bishop Stone (aka Isaac Stein, aka The Red Skull) had been granted -the power-, and was practically invincible thanks to his Gear’s ability to channel raw hate into an etheric barrier. While basking in his own invulnerability, Stone revealed he was personally responsible for killing Jessie’s wife/Billy’s mother, and threatened to destroy the Yggdrasil and everyone aboard. Billy is particularly perturbed, but Stone’s menace aimed at an entire ship full of people made this situation dire for more than just the Black family. But Jessie has a plan! He can use the Buntline Gear to transform into a gun, and Billy can shoot the Buntline “bullet” to destroy the barrier! We’re going to be okay!

Except about a minute after Billy fires the Buntline, Citan, the Gear’s creator, informs Billy that the pilot of the Buntline is killed in the process of shooting that Gear-bullet. Oopsie!

This should end wellBut, as Jessie said when he became a human projectile, “Question not thy god, for thy god doth not respond.” Jessie survived the Buntline, but not because of his faith. Citan was a genius, but Jessie was capable of improving the Buntline personally, and made it a Gear that was not suicide for its pilot. The Buntline could now fire Jessie an infinite number of times, and the worst that would come of it all was a headache. Jessie did not simply hope he would weather his own annihilation, he made his survival a priority, and did everything in his power to guarantee that. And this faith in himself was rewarded when Bishop Stone was defeated, and Jessie’s daughter, Primera, finally spoke to her father.

Everything was good for the Black family, and it was all thanks to Jessie finding the god within himself.

And then everybody climbed a tower or something because Jessie met a dude in a cave one time. Just how these things go…

Even Worse Streams presents Xenogears
Night 9

Original Stream Night: March 30, 2021
Night of the Soul Edge

Random Stream Notes

  • We took nearly the entire month of March off thanks to a fundraising stream and a honeymoon, but we’re back in the Xenosaddle!
  • Kishi is here practically from the start this time.
  • Kishi asks about my trip to St. Augustine, Florida (which is where I was the previous Tuesday). The fact that it was so familiar after a couple decades away eventually inspired an article.
  • Let us talk about Gundam and Toonami doing its best with the concept of Gundam Wing being popular.
  • “I’m gonna die, but I wanna die awesome.”
  • And I died again. I really must remember to buy gear for the Gears…
  • If this has not been noted before, Kishi is disgusted by the fact that I am cheating and still losing.
  • We take a quick moment to look at the debug items I have cheated into the game.
  • Look at youPersona 3 would like you to dance while I put you in a trance.
  • So we equipped accessories to pump up Elly’s ether stats for her super Aeroid attack… and it heals the boss. Okay!
  • Thank God, we won.
  • Street Fighter characters speak whatever language they want
  • Welcome to the Tower of Babil! Why isn’t Fei doing any damage…
  • Fanboymaster and Kishi agree that the Mega Man franchise is mostly not great. I take personal offense at this.
  • Ninja Gaiden Z should never be mentioned again.
  • The Tower of Babil is awesome from a design perspective… and awful from a gameplay perspective.
  • Hoggish Greedly should not hang out with Ed Asner. He liked meat too much.
  • We are the archetypal dads. Note: none of us are dads.
  • “According to this Tripod.com fansite…”
  • This will end wellFanboymaster points out that the modern equivalent of the dad working on an old car in the garage is a raspberry pi aficionado continually tinkering on the perfect build, and this fact hurts my brain.
  • As we scale the tower, there is talk of that one Castlevania game with Trevor… Or maybe Ralph…
  • As always, please enjoy my inept platforming skills. I swear I am not this terrible when not on stream…
  • We finally get to the top (ish) of the Tower of Babil to find our classic robot boss.
  • BEAT claims he is not paying attention as we see the TV orb again. We know!
  • And we close out with a brief mention of that one dungeon in Xenosaga Ep 2. It looks like Shevat!

Next time on Xenogears: Stormy Pinkness.

Dazzling

FGC #645 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

Go go shredder manThe best beat ‘em ups are dumb as hell.

While Gogglebob.com is still officially claiming that any and all articles appearing within the Fustian Gaming Challenge are randomly chosen (“random” can mean a lot!), today’s article is obviously inspired by the glut of excellent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle gaming that has been released within the last year. A whole new turtle experience (but primarily based on the 80’s cartoon), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, was released in June of 2022. Then, a whole two (or so) months later, we were graced with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection, which collected seemingly every turtle game from the early days of the Nintendo versus Sega console wars (though the lack of Tiger Handheld titles was obviously a glaring omission). While this collection does include a few titles that are outside the beat ‘em up genre, the focus here are the arcade and console games that showcase ninja walking left to right and incessantly detonating foot soldiers. Many of these titles have been played and covered on this site before, but now having all the arcade, NES, SNES, and Genesis turtle beat ‘em ups immediately available and just a swipe away from each other? Amazing! I’m going to spend the next week finding all the stupid ways you can fight Krang!

And, having devoured all these titles in rapid succession, one simple truth emerges: all of these games are really good! Some are better than others, some are more memorable than others, and every single one includes a fight against Shredder that borders on unfair; but they are all a good time from beginning to end. It would be easy to simply reward infinite bonus points to these titles for practically defining the genre for a generation, but even the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade) is still fun throughout, and does not need a corollary “oh we owe this so much” like some progenitors of genres. Pick a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle beat ‘em up, any Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle beat ‘em up released or rereleased in 2022, and you are guaranteed to enjoy yourself.

I don't get itAnd that’s… kind of weird, right? Maybe it’s the nostalgia talking? No, TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge was a whole new experience. Maybe it’s a love of classic turtles? No, if I’m being honest, I would like to see nearly any other incarnation of these hero turtles included in a beat ‘em up. Is it because the beat ‘em up genre has languished for so long? No, that may have been true a decade or so back, but with everything from new Streets of Rage to Ninja Warriors, we are living in a neo golden age of beat ‘em ups. The humble beat ‘em up is soaring to the heavens! On an elevator where you have to beat everybody up! So why is a game from before we even hit the 90’s still so good?

Simple answer, stupid: it’s because it’s stupid.

There is not much to a beat ‘em up game. You walk down pathways that are so straightforward, it is literally impossible to get lost. There is no such thing as needing a map for a beat ‘em up. And speaking of strategy, 90% of your opponents in a beat ‘em up require just as much thinking as jabbing your index finger down. Oh no! Seventeen foot soldiers! I wonder if jump kicking over and over will stop them? And, while the generals are generally more complicated than their foot soldiers (oh… I just got that), they are still little more than the same mooks with extra steps. Double the health, and maybe there’s a laser gun, but no extra brains are available. In fact, “no extra brains” seems to be the name of the game here, as a brainless five-year-old could conquer any of these games. And I should know! I used to be that brainless five-year-old! I had a whole lot of quarters, but no sense!

Love that rhinoAnd that is the point. Are any of the TMNT titles truly “brainless”? Absolutely not. These are carefully crafted games designed to seem brainless. Anyone that ever tried a one-credit run of these titles will tell you that Rocksteady has tremendously more nuance to his charges, foot soldiers of all different colors have dramatically distinct attack patterns, and there is a way to make Shredder keel without ever eating a mutagen beam. There is a rhythm here, a carefully calculated method to the madness that, like the best movies or music, makes it all look easy. And that’s the point! The games are not brainless, but you are supposed to be brainless, because if you’re not thinking, you’re not thinking about how many tokens you’re dropping in there. Baxter Stockman just knocked you flat? Dang! You almost had ‘em! Better drop another quarter, dollar, or however much money it takes to lay that scientist-fly flat. 90% of 90’s beat ‘em ups are perfectly calibrated to drain 90% of your wallet without you even noticing 90% of the time.

And, brother, if you got friends around the arcade cabinet with you sharing the experience? Encouraging you to keep going, and support the team with more of your hard-earned (or grandpa provided) dough? Oh, you’re going to be there until the end. Welcome to the cult of the beat ‘em up, please follow the Konami scripture.

Buy all our playsets and toysAnd if you’re wondering why it took so long for beat ‘em ups to find their footing in the modern era, simply consider how much this business model gameplay does not work with an at-home experience. The comradery of crowding around a cabinet is completely absent from online play, and paying once for a DLC title is not nearly the same as paying for a game a quarter at a time. Once you drop the essential trappings of the genre (and arguably their entire point for existence), you’ve got dumb gameplay that serves… nothing. Videogames are supposed to make you feel smart! Every puzzle you unravel in a game (whether it be in Candy Crush or Phoenix Wright) is designed to be resolved and tickle your brain in the right ways so you believe you are better for having solved the mystery. Every JRPG that challenges you to master its “system” is another exercise in making you feel sharper than a +1 vorpal blade. And those “skill trees” and bosses with weaknesses in action games are there to commend you for making the brilliant deduction that the fire move will hurt the ice monster. Achievement unlocked: you are a super player. Playing a game that is naturally “stupid” is the antithesis of that, and why would you bother playing such a thing when other games that properly massage your endorphins are immediately available?

Well, because you recognize Tokka, Rahzar, and Tempestra.

These games are good and stupid. And when you’re feeling stupid, a decent shot of nostalgia will keep things going.

And I’d love to list more reasons to play these games, but I just played a lot of turtle beat ‘em ups, and everything is kind of… fuzzy for some reason…

Me am like beat ‘em ups. Play more. Cowabunga.

FGC #645 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

  • System: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC/Steam. Make sure you choose the system that all your friends own!
  • Number of players: Six! And it is super fun when you get everyone together and working against Shredder’s forces. In fact…
  • Watch it, Buddy: All sorts of turtle stuff happened on Even Worse Streams. We all played Shredder’s Revenge, and we… kinda played the Arcade collection. There were some technical issues! You may watch ‘em below.


    Original Stream Date: June 21, 2022


    Original Stream Date: August 30, 2022


    Original Stream Date: September 6, 2022

    The collection episode doesn’t really have any beat ‘em ups in there, but there wasn’t a place for it elsewhere on the site…

  • Favorite Turtle: You may notice that I played as Donatello in every one of those streams. This is by design.
  • Also goodFavorite Boss: Dirtbag and Groundchuck are the price cut, bargain bin version of Bebop and Rocksteady, and I am a man that likes his discounts. I always appreciate the duo bosses in beat ‘em ups, because it makes for a fine counter to playing with a buddy, and an excellent excuse to strategize with your partner(s). Oh, and Groundchuck is some manner of cyborg bull. That gets bonus points, too.
  • Favorite Boss (Tournament Edition): Anytime Wingnut appears, you are going to have a good time. I have adored that action figure for years (it’s so weirdly gross!), so I am glad to see this Batman get a spot as an aerial opponent.
  • Goggle Bob Fact: Speaking of toys, I noted on the Shredder’s Revenge stream that I had the Knuckle Head vehicle as a kid. And here’s proof!

    So adorable

    A new toy and a new dinosaur friend! Best Christmas ever!

  • Let’s talk about another game: For possibly the first time since I was twelve, I played through Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist as part of the collection. While it is the official Konami beat ‘em up for Sega Genesis, it is weird how much it feels like a fan romhack of Turtles in Time. Areas are repurposed haphazardly (I guess there’s just a pirate ship in the sewers now?), the one original boss is from the movie and has extremely limited animations, and an entire level is a boss rush (in a game with, like, five bosses). It’s still a fun game from start to finish, though! It is a good romhack.
  • Did you know? The Punk Frogs appear in Shredder’s Revenge as helper characters. Attila, Genghis, Napoleon Bonafrog, and Rasputin apparently made a lasting impression on the fandom… despite only appearing in six episodes of the original series. Irma, another helper character, appeared in, like, a million episodes. Regardless, what is important is that they are known as the “Punk” frogs, but they are clearly surfer dudes. Know your genres!
  • Would I play again: Anytime I need some good, stupid fun, I know the heroes on a half shell to call.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Killer Instinct for the Xbox One! Is Fulgore still full of gore? Let’s find out! Please look forward to it!

Repel
Okay, that was impressive

Xenogears 08: The Ballad of Billy

Here we go!Let us consider the unwavering faith of Billy Lee Black.

Like many of the people we have featured in these sermons, Billy had a difficult childhood. When Billy was barely ten, his father went out for a pack of smokes, and didn’t come back for a decade. Billy was left alone with his mother and little sister, but zombie-like Wels attacked his home soon thereafter. While Billy and his sister were able to survive thanks to the quick thinking of Bishop Stone, Billy’s mother was lost to the Wels. When Jesse Black came back, Billy and his sister, Primera, were already forever traumatized. Primera would not speak, and Billy had turned to God for help with his broken family. Billy joined the Ethos, and took up the guns his father gave him to exterminate the Wels creatures that had killed his mother.

So when Billy encounters a group of strangers that are trying to help their sick friend, Billy does everything he can to help. He escorts the injured Fei to a church of Ethos, hoping that the advanced medical technology of the order will help the wounded boy. Billy then leaves these new comrades, because he must go back to the orphanage he runs (with the support of Ethos, naturally), so there are less children alone in the world. And then, when a ship full of Wels floats near his home, Billy works together with his new companions to eliminate the threat. Why, it is almost like these strangers were a gift brought to Billy by God!

But it seems that God was not home when the Ethos Headquarters was attacked. Billy initially suspected his truant father of being a genocidal murderer, but soon discovered that Ethos was not all that it seemed. The technology and religion of Ethos was all a front to control people, and every Etoner in the place was a puppet of the Solaris government. And when Billy’s friend Verlaine reveals himself to be an assassin, it is unambiguously demonstrated that Billy’s entire religion is a lie. Oh, and then Bishop Stone revealed he was responsible for the death of Billy’s mother. Billy proves to be the only pious survivor of the Ethos massacre…

Lil knife guysBut does Billy lose his faith? Does Billy give in to his father who has always renounced religion? Does Billy give up on being a better man? No! Billy joins Fei’s friends, and continues to fight for the good of people everywhere. He still eliminates the perverse Wels. He defends the Thames from encroaching monsters. He infiltrates an Ethos dig site, and rebuffs the nefarious Bishop Stone. He still serves his faith, but rejects the philosophy of “only the chosen will be saved”. He will save everyone! And, through it all, he still prays after every battle. Even when faced with the seemingly invincible Id, Billy’s true faith never waivers.

No matter what happens, Billy Lee Black has faith.

… And we will see if he is still praying after he punches God.

Even Worse Streams presents Xenogears
Night 8

Original Stream Night: March 9, 2021
Night of the Silver Star Story

Random Notes on the Stream

  • We’re back after taking a week off. I cannot for the life in me remember what we were doing that week. Oh, and I accidentally activated a stupid card game.
  • Maybe we could just stop playing and listen to Xenogears Creid album?
  • “Billy’s obviously a fucking nerd.”
  • “I do appreciate that your characters are now two grown men lost in a church.”
  • cut cut cutAs we hit Billy’s orphanage, we discuss NFTs. My position on this matter is clear.
  • Jessie doesn’t know how chairs work. This is canon.
  • “I wrote an entire article about how that game is the worst.”
  • “The Robin Hood movie is why we have furries.” Sure, but I blame Chip ‘n Dale.
  • Enjoy hanging out with Bill Gunhaver.
  • While raiding the boat, it is important to know how exploitative Dead or Alive 6 can be. 462 items on Steam, all at $2… so it only costs nearly a thousand dollars to completely own that game.
  • What is your worst bathtub in all of gaming? I’m voting for Eternal Darkness.
  • And then I die to the giant Wels. Whoops!
  • Trynant stops by for the night while we make attempt number two on the boss.
  • And then Kishi! Maybe they can help!
  • The Giant Wels has been defeated… forever.
  • “Oh, my dad committed genocide? Yeah, that makes sense.”
  • World Heroes: it had a Goku in it.
  • Billy: currently having a crisis of faith and looking smug doing it.
  • Love you galsThere are apparently mass-produced Jesuses in Neon Genesis Evangelion. This should surprise no one.
  • Over at the Thames we are asked to, “Just try to imagine an action sequence.”
  • Deathscythe is not so much a thing as something that is fun to say.
  • There are so many of the same monsters in this undersea dungeon that it gets kind of ridiculous. But the snail mutants are awesome!
  • “It’s not Porygon’s fault.”
  • The Elements have freckles? They sure don’t have enough fanart…
  • I pronounce Id wrong. Also: here’s Id.
  • And we close on one of our longest streams by talking about making Kishi sad through eggs.

Next time on Xenogears: It’s about the climb.

Mole Mania!
“The moll’s got a mole!”

Xenogears 07: The Good News

Today we shall consider the story of…

Going Mad

Er… Um… Hm. You know what?

They are!

No sermon for today. We will keep the message short.

She's a mol!  Wait...

Xenogears is good. Xeno-games are always good.

Even Worse Streams presents Xenogears
Night 7

Original Stream Night: February 23, 2021
Night of the Korcha

Random Notes on the Stream

  • “Welcome to the Goliath Factory, we mostly make action figures from the Disney series from 1992.”
  • “I love that the girl robot has long hair and boobs.”
    “That is a long tradition.”
  • A detailed discussion of NieR and daddy Nier versus brother Nier. Gee, this may have inspired an article.
  • My deep confession for the stream is that I don’t care for the Metal Gear Solid franchise. Sorry!
  • Nobody likes this giant robotNinja Golf! Aqua Teen Hunger Force! A boring dungeon!
  • I may have deliberately stalled so Caliscrub could see his favorite part…
  • Mad Skillz happen! See above! Then our brand new airship explodes. At least we got a Grahf fight out of the deal.
  • We demand Justice League Task Force with rollback netcode.
  • So now we’re on a garbage barge while talking about Superman games.
  • “Goofy has been two different kinds of turtles.” We all love Kingdom Hearts mythology.
  • They were your guides, and now they are your enablers. The true family of Sora.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean in Kingdom Hearts 3 is likened to Bowser’s Fury and other “mini” games.
  • We talk about the intricacies of language, communication, and Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game while Fei is hanging out on the Thames.
  • “The harshest cusses available by law.”
  • Look at 'em goSpend your Fridays getting drunk with a walrus, and you too will be cool.
  • Kishi arrives just in time to be accidentally threatened by BEAT. Also: Elly gets slapped.
  • Let’s explore the Yggdrasil and talk about Ghosts ‘n Goblins games of various styles.
  • Kishi also arrived for their favorite line. This is a night of miracles.
  • BEAT officially watches paint dry while avoiding this illustrious stream.
  • BEAT also imagines fish with giant arms. Like this robot we’re fighting.
  • Jessiah Black appears! He’s cool, right?
  • And Billy is here, too, as we discuss cool scars and who may literally just be Trigun’s Wolfwood.
  • Kishi explains how “Armor Ground” is just supposed to be “Deck” as we close out for the night.

Next time on Xenogears: There are going to be more than a few more Trigun references.

I maintain this is true