Punktendo: Anarchy in the NES

Mega Danzig!

Mega Danzig!

It doesn’t happen very often, but when the world of video games and the world of music come together, an unusual brand of alchemy is born. In order to understand this a little better, it’s important that you check out Punktendo, a website dedicated to inserting alumni from the world of punk and heavy metal into classic NES games.

There are currently eight games available for play–my personal favorites are Danzig, a mod of Mega Man in which the titular hero has been replaced by Glenn Danzig, and Milo-Fu, a rendition of Kung-Fu that features the cartoonified version of Descendents lead vocalist Milo Aukerman.

For those who like a little social commentary with their 8-bit gaming, Punktendo also features Gay Popeye and Racist’s Alley. Gay Popeye has the player going toe to toe with Olive Oyl while Bluto drops hearts from above–still not quite sure how to use my keyboard to go about rescuing Popeye’s boyfriend. Every time I tried to punch Olive, she kicked my ass. I’m currently in the process of figuring out what button acts like the Lightgun for Racist’s Alley, however.  Check out the site and remember how punk rock the original NES really was.

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PSN Roundup & Junk Food Review: SteamWorld Dig & The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

It’s a new month, and with that new month comes two free games via PlayStation Plus. Since no video game is complete without some tasty snackfoods, here is all you need to know about November’s free games for PS4 along with a tasting menu of seasonal junk food.

SteamWorld

Watch out for them Shiners, Rusty.

 

SteamWorld Dig
Image&Form

Once the initial charm of SteamWorld Dig arrests your attention with it’s cleverly-animated robots and the dusty town of Tumbleton, it’s easy to be sucked in by hours of solid gameplay. Combining a dash of Metroid-vania level progression and a whole mess of valuables to dig up, this game hits all the right bases for a platformer. In addition to being disarmingly addictive, the game comes backed with a surprisingly eerie storyline that may or may not involve the human race’s inevitable self-destruction.

The game does a great job of adapting to the upgrades that you purchase. For example, when you get to the point that you’ve outfitted Rusty with hydraulic drills and jumping boots, the conservation of water becomes a new factor in how you play. In addition to the fact that you have to dig strategically in order to make the most of each tunnel run, the game presents some challenging moments as it progresses.

Though the trips back to town can be a bit frustrating as you tunnel your way into the deeper levels, there’s something satisfying about seeing your dollars add up, which can then be spent on nifty upgrades like a bigger backpack and teleportation devices.  Many games have offered this cyclical approach–you play the game to earn money, money upgrades your character so you can keep playing the game–but few of them have made it such an enjoyable adventure.

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Not a bad way to appreciate the finer things.

Junk Food Tasting Menu: Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s & Pumpkin Spice Milanos

As SteamWorld Dig is an impressive work of balance among several excellent gameplay elements, having a bag or box of the two best types of pumpkin sandwich cookies nearby is the best way to appreciate what the game represents.

The Trader Joe’s equivalent of Oreo’s, Joe-Joe’s are superior in nearly every way. Their filling is creamier, their cookie is more flavorful, and they’re slightly less-processed. Having tried both the Pumpkin Spice Oreo’s and Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s, I can safely assure you that these lovely little sandwich cookies are perfect companions to take with you while you figure out the mystery below Tumbleton. 

For those that need to remember the finer things in life while exploring what very well could be the last remnants of humanity, the Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Milano is a more high-end sandwich cookie. They have everything a traditional Milano has–milk chocolate and an airy, crunchy cookie–but these come with an added layer of pumpkin icing, which is a great complement to the chocolate.  Munch on a few of these as you ruminate on what those emaciated creatures beneath Tumbleton sacrificed in their misguided quest for power.

Isaac

Why yes, that IS everything you were ever scared of.

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
Nicalis, Inc.

The original Binding of Isaac was my first foray into the now-trendy rogue-like genre–games that allow only one playthrough per life–and it’s the standard by which I measure all subsequent games in that genre. Stylistically, Isaac is a throwback to the original Legend of Zelda game on NES. The player navigates through different rooms filled with monsters, while finding treasure and powerups along the way. What makes Isaac fresh and inventive is it’s completely nutballs story. The titular character is a small boy who has escaped his religiously fanatical mother (who believes she has been commanded by God to kill her son) by hiding in the basement. Little does Isaac know that the basement is filled with horrifying mannikins and disfigured bosses with names like The Blighted Ovum and The Duke of Flies. Everything about this game is designed to prey upon our earliest childhood fears as we guide Isaac (did I mention that his primary weapon is his own tears?) through his nightmares and to an inevitable confrontation with his mother.

One of the things that sets Isaac apart from other rogue-likes is that your character does get tougher as you play, giving you a serious shot at beating it in a single playthrough. The powerups end up stacking to add up to a character that can tangle with the increased difficulty as the game progresses.

The Rebirth edition offers some new bells and whistles like a new soundtrack, a wider variety of powerups, more unlockable characters, and gigantic rooms that take twice as long to clear. Graphically, I was hoping for a smoother transition from the original PC version to the PS4, but something about the deliberately pixelated animation does manage to capture a part of my video game nostalgia–and pervert it with the game’s ineherent weirdness.

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Abba-Zaba, you’re my only friend.

Junk Food Tasting Menu: Snack-Sized Abba-Zaba & Candy Corn Gummies

The Binding of Isaac is an unholy union of childhood gaming and childhood night-terrors. As such, it only makes sense to snack on this pair of candies that I found as part of a post-Halloween sale at the grocery store (only a buck fifty for both bags!).  Abba-Zaba takes peanut butter and swirls it with the mysteriously textured white taffy that one might find in a Big Hunk.  Despite sounding gross on paper, the result is actually pretty damn tasty.  Going snack-sized is preferable to the full-sized Abba-Zaba, since the amount of chewing it takes to finish one of those puppies off usually keeps one busy for a good six hours.

Candy corn is one of the most polarizing Halloween treats around.  I’ve only talked to people who love it whole-heartedly or completely despise it.  Don’t even talk to them about candy pumpkins–I nearly lost an eye last time I made that mistake.  It’s also one of those candies that can’t be remade into something else.  Whatever the hell candy corn is, it will always be candy corn.

Or so I thought.

While Candy Corn Gummies–created by the ominously-named Foreign Candy Company–look like swollen versions of the traditional waxy candy, their flavor isn’t quite that of the original.  There’s a weird fruitiness present, and I can tell that they were trying to capture the candy corn flavor, but it just didn’t work out.  Regardless, this is something you eat because it’s weird as hell–which is the same reason you play a game like The Binding of Isaac.

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Katy Perry is a Hot Cheeto

I’ve never had strong feelings about Katy Perry one way or another.  She’s gorgeous, she’s got a few catchy tunes, and one time my brother-in-law rolled a gutterball because her video for “California Gurls” was being broadcast directly in front of us (he threw the ball at the exact moment that the video cut to Perry shooting whipped cream out of her boobs, which was a bit distracting).

Based on her Halloween costume this year, however, I think I might have to kick my respect for her up a few notches.  According to Time.com, Perry attended Kate Hudson’s annual Halloween party dressed as a flamin’ hot Cheeto.  Observe:

Chinchilla/Bauer-Griffin—GC Images / Getty Images

Chinchilla/Bauer-Griffin—GC Images / Getty Images

As you can plainly see, this costume is amazing.  Upon further research, I also stumbled upon this picture of Perry in a pizza onesie, and I think it’s safe to say that I have a new-found respect for the pop songstress:

via Splash News

via Splash News

And with that, may you all have a happy Halloween.

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Local Eats: Sushi Burrito on 8th

Behold the Typhoon!

Behold the Typhoon!

Sushi Burrito on 8th
180 E 800 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
P: 801-995-0909
Web:http://sushiburritoutah.com/

At first, throwing the words “sushi” and “burrito” together in the same sentence might seem like an exercise in absurdity. What would such a high-class culinary staple like sushi be doing in the same back alley as a gooey, overstuffed burrito? This was my perspective when I first heard of this little joint that has re-purposed the shack that used to be Guzzi’s Burgers. Just because I couldn’t mentally comprehend this juxtaposition, however, didn’t mean I wasn’t intrigued.

When I arrived with my posse, the place was packed. Diners who were eagerly awaiting their orders spilled out into the streets, and it soon became clear that I wasn’t the only one who wanted to see the marriage between Japanese fine dining and Latin-American street food.

Despite the high volume of customers, it didn’t take long to elbow-check our way to the cashier and place our orders. I went with the Typhoon ($9.99), which was stuffed with Albacore tuna, crab salad, cucumber, and avocado, and my wife ordered the Citrus ($8.99) which came with salmon, crab salad, and a slice of lemon.

After we pounced on a recently vacated table, I tried to mentally note when the people ahead of us in line got their orders. Based on the number of people ahead of us and the fact that this place is fairly new, I anticipated us getting our food sometime next week. Regardless of my pessimism, our food came quite promptly–the service was definitely working it.

Unwrapping my brand new sushi burrito was not unlike unwrapping a mystery gift at Christmas. I expected something vaguely burrito-shaped, but would that be the extent of its burrito heritage? Removing the wax paper, I discovered something genius about Sushi Burrito’s culinary concept. What stood before me, daring me to take my first bite, was a thickly-stuffed sushi roll that had simply not been cut into its characteristic discs. Rather than utilizing a tortilla to keep its innards nicely tucked inside, Sushi Burrito stuck to a sheet of nori–which, upon further contemplation, works exactly the same way.

My first bite hit me with everything that I love about sushi–fluffy sticky-rice, fresh, raw tuna, with that mayo-y goodness of the crab salad. The veggies were fresh and crisp, and the slice of avocado drove it home. As with other sushi restaurants, the burrito comes with slices of pickled ginger and wasabi. The ginger was easy to pick up and add to each bite, but the lack of utensils made wasabi application a dangerous process. I found that my wife made the better choice with the Citrus–that thin spiral of lemon really made the flavors of the salmon come to life.

There were some parts of the meal that I wish were a bit more burrito and less sushi, but they mainly had to do with the burrito’s construction. Where a traditional burrito uses the tortilla to completely envelop its gushy innards, the giant sushi roll leaves both ends open–which made the sushi burrito come apart fairly messily once I got to the end. The risk of filling eruption is occasionally increased by the chewiness of the nori–it takes a bit of strategic biting to make sure the fish, rice, and veggies don’t spill out of the opposite end.

All things considered, the world needs a place like Sushi Burrito. For too long, sushi has been associated with an air of douchebaggery; conjuring images of slick, young capitalists who use the odious term “let’s do sushi” when setting up their business lunches. What Sushi Burrito has done is taken the flavors and experience of eating sushi and given it a creative overhaul for those of us who just like how it tastes.

Sushi Burrito on Urbanspoon

Sushi Burrito

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Indie Jones: “Battle Chef Brigade” by Trinket Studios

BCB 1Though many epic culinary battles have taken place within the cutthroat arena of Kitchen Stadium, one can’t help but wonder how much more exciting Iron Chef America would be if dragons were somehow involved.  This is the concept behind Trinket Studios‘ upcoming release Battle Chef Brigade–all the pageantry and competitive spirit of Iron Chef, but with more fireballs and ogres.

The game puts players in control of a Battle Chef, one of five fearsome warriors who use magical powers and enchanted blades to slay fantastical creatures and use their raw materials to prepare dishes for a panel of judges.  Unlike other cooking-centric games, Battle Chef Brigade lets the player decide what he/she will make to best suit the judges’ palates.

BCB 2

Trinket Studios has more than doubled their Kickstarter goal, which means we can look for this title sometime in the next year or so.  To celebrate, here’s a supercut of Mark Dacascos doing what he does best:

 

 

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