Wednesday, April 23, 2014

MMA Spotlight: UFC 172 - Jones -vs- Teixeira


    Here we go, fight fans! This Saturday night is UFC 172 featuring a huge main event of Jon “Bones Jones and Glover Teixeira for the Light Heavyweight World Championship! Since this event is so big and packed full of big fights I figured it would be fun to do up a quick blog entry where I discuss the event and do some predictions as to who I think will win.
    First off, let me reflect upon the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship and what it means to the sport of MMA. To me (and to many others), the Light Heavyweight division is the division that brought me into the sport. Sure, I’ve seen some random old school UFC events that went down in the 90’s, but the sport had not evolved into a practical and viable athletic event and was chock full of a variety of competitors that ranged from skilled to bar room brawlers. These days MMA employs athletes in prime condition who rank among the best stand up and ground fighters in the world eliminating the need for beer bellies who like to “throw dukes”. What brought this sport into the limelight were amazing bouts contested by the likes of Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Vitor Belfort, among others, all of which competed for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. For what seemed like years fans were salavating over that specific division and it certainly grew to include some of the best fighters to ever enter the octagon with guys like Lyoto Machida, Forrest Griffin, Jon Jones, Phil Davis, Dan Henderson, Mauricio Rua, Rashad Evans, Anthony Johnson, Alexander Gustafsson, Stephan Bonner, and Rampage Jackson competing within it’s ranks. And this Saturday night we will see it’s most dominant champion ever, Jon Jones, defend the title against a very dangerous Glover Teixeira. The UFC Light Heavyweight Championship has been held and defended by a who’s who of Mixed Martial Arts and has helped the UFC to become the massive company that it is today and continues to be what many consider the most important title you can hold in any weight class. Even more so than the World’s Heavyweight Championship, which is a title currently held by Cain Velasquez.
   With that said, it’s time to discuss the huge title match between Jon “Bones” Jones and Glover Teixeira which
is set to go down on the 26th of April.  I expect the main event of this Saturday’s PPV to either go the distance or to end via submission regardless of who wins. I think Glover has the KO powers to end it but I believe that Jones will defend nicely and keep his challenger at a distance which will give him the opportunity to break him down slowly but surely. Both men have some fantastic ground skills and if Jones can weaken Teixeira’s legs a bit and score a takedown I believe he could finish him on the ground by the 3rd or 4th round. If this doesn’t happen then I think Jones has this won via decision. The only way I see Glover winning this title fight is if he somehow lands a huge counter punch that stuns Jones and lands him on the mat where the challenger can employ his ground game and possibly get the champ to tap. Personally, I just don’t see that happening and as good as a fighter as Glover is I think Jones has faced better competition during his historic tenure as champion and I fully believe that Jon will walk out of UFC 172 as the Light Heavyweight Champion of the world. Some may disagree but Jones is the absolute favorite in this contest and the vegas odds are actually correct as it pertains to this fight. That is not a mark against Teixeira, who is a very good fighter, more so than it is a compliment to Jones who is a more “complete” fighter and a superior athlete. Speed and precision will win this one and my official prediction (and my hope) is that Jon “Bones” Jones is going to successfully defend his title.
   The second big fight on the card is going to be the returning Anthony Johnson vs Phil Davis, which I think could steal the show and win fight of the night honors from the Dana White himself. Anthony Johnson has been away from UFC for a couple of years now and has gone on a successful run in the World Series of Fighting where he has scored a win over former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski and another notable fighter in Mike Kyle. Johnson has great KO power and could certainly land a crushing blow that could lay Davis out in a heartbeat, but I truly believe that the speed of Davis and the overall skill-set he possesses will place him in the winners column this Saturday. Phil Davis has wins over some VERY impressive fighters and I’m actually surprised that he was not next in line for a shot at Jones’ Light Heavyweight title and Glover was. I fully expect Phil to float around the octagon and tag Johnson over and over again with some punches and kicks before he takes Anthony down to the mat to showcase some intense ground game. Davis can do it all inside of the ring and I think that skill will outshine power in this contest, similar to how I believe the main event will go down. And if Davis wins I believe he should be next in line for Jones and NOT Gustaffson, though the Swede has been already named the #1 contender to the winner of the Jon/Glover bout. My prediction and hope is that Phil Davis walks out of the octagon as the victor this Saturday.
    Luke Rockhold vs Tim Boetsch is something of a wildcard for me. I’ve seen Rockhold fight a number of times and the same goes for Boetsch, but yet I can’t pinpoint anything really special either have done inside of the octagon. I guess Luke versus Tim will be a fight I will watch closely as I don’t really have any kind of favoritism toward either fighter and I don’t particular care for either fighter, so this fight will be a good showcase for either one to impress me and get me to “believe” in them and back them as a fan. Based upon what I’ve seen I’d place Luke Rockhold as the probably winner because his strikes are pretty good and he’s coming off a nice KO of Costas Phillippou from a couple of months back. As for who I want to win, we’ll just chalk this one up to a close draw.
    The rest of the fights on the card don’t really excite me as I’m not a big fan of the flyweight division and the two women battling aren’t really in any kind of title contention to face Ronda Rousey for her crown. I guess it will be nice to see Jim Miller in competition as well as Joe Ellenberger, and I know quite a few people like Joseph Benavidez, but all in all I’m mainly in this for the main event title bout and the Davis/Johnson fight. Whenever a premiere title like the Light Heavyweight Championship is on the line the UFC knows they can put lesser names on the card and the event will still sell considerably as long as the co-main event is somewhat interesting. So consider me excited for this Saturday’s PPV and to see the pound for pound best fighter (and athlete) in the world defend his title and continue his historic run as champion. Well, that’s it for this entry, I hope the fight fans enjoy the show this weekend and continue to support the UFC and MMA in general. Because whether you want to recognize it or not it’s the worlds greatest sport featuring the worlds greatest athletes.

© B-Sly The Gamer Guy

Thursday, April 17, 2014

RETRO REVIEW SERIES: Contra for the NES!


  Hello there! Welcome to another installment of B-Sly The Gamer Guy’s retro review series, which is of course a series of articles that both celebrates and obliterates everything good and bad about retro/classic video games.
     The game that is going to steal some spotlight today is a game that is very well known to fans of classic gaming thanks to it’s extreme popularity and the fact that this game helped to popularize a code that many video game fans still know by heart to this day. The code in question is known as the “Konami Code”, though many refer to it as the “Contra Code” since Contra is the game that made the configuration famous. That’s right boys and girls, today B-Sly The Gamer Guy is going to review Contra for the Nintendo Entertainment System!
    Ah yes, many of you may remember countless late nights on the couch or early mornings in your bedrooms navigating the fierce jungles within Contra, and I know that all of you surely remember just how fucking hard this game actually was. This game wasn’t just hard, it was a god damn ball buster, but it was also fun as hell once you’ve entered in the “Konami Code” and settled down with a second player to proceed into what sometimes felt like a long, slow, ass raping. It’s difficulty aside, I would say that this game was truly one of the most prolific 2-player games on the NES and certainly one of the most popular. The only game I can remember that featured two player action that was more popular was possibly TMNT II: The Arcade game (a personal favorite). Seriously, I didn’t know anyone who didn’t own this game back in the heyday of the NES, or at least I didn’t know anyone who hadn’t played it. Contra was seemingly everywhere and the game was so popular it spawned some sequels on the NES and eventually quite a few other platforms like the Gameboy, Super Nintendo, Genesis, and even the PlayStation, but none of them quite captured the awe-inspiring greatness of the original classic.
     The story of the game as well as the gameplay itself was a pretty basic fare. It revolved around two armed soldiers, Lance and Billy, as they scoured an unnamed South American island aiming to destroy a terrorist organization that was trying to take over the Earth. The run & gun style gameplay has become well known as a trait of Contra and many felt that the series was the perfect war simulation, that is until Medal of Honor and Call of Duty popularized war games on the Xbox and PS2 in the early to mid 2000’s. But there was something quite magical and special about Contra in it’s day. There was no 6 hour story line here, no online multiplayer, and certainly no dramatic cut scenes that look like they were ripped out of a horrible blockbuster movie. Nope, just about 1 ½ hours worth of intense side-scrolling action and a couple of sore thumbs. This is exactly the kind of game that both kids and adults were addicted to some 20-25 years ago and if you were playing alongside another player than the experience was enhanced and the game was all the more better.    
    See, if Contra came out today you’d have a 7 or 8 hour video game with extremely well done cut scenes that would take up about ¾ of the actual content leaving you with about 2 hours worth of solid gameplay. The developers would do their best to discreetly hide this with a multiplayer option that would be cluttered full of 12 year old boys calling everyone “noobs” as they blast their way to a high score. Yeah, that sounds like it would be well worth my $60! Bleh. Some games were truly meant to be what they were and Contra is certainly one of them, there is absolutely no need to release this franchise on current generation hardware since the developers would most likely just ruin it with pile after pile of modern bullshit. No thanks, kiddies.   
     Some of my personal memories with this game include a buddy of mine, Kenny M, coming over some mornings and playing this game with me before we had to go to school. I’ve also played this game quite extensively with my friends Chris B and Kenny K, it seemed like I’ve put hours of time into the game in the single player mode but the 2-player option is what has made me fall in love with Contra. I remember sitting on my bed with my friend Chris one Sunday afternoon and we slammed this game into my NES and didn’t stop playing until we hit the end. It was a grueling test of skill and effort but we made it and I’ll always remember that victory as long as I live. Contra is one of those games that you just remember putting quite a bit of time into though you’ve probably not met many people who have actually completed the game without using the code or an accessory like the Game Genie. It’s just so damn difficult, but many NES games were like that. But I guess that was somewhat the norm back in the ol’ NES days, the library of games that were just too insanely difficult is too long to list but yet it didn’t stop people from trying.
     I think if this was the case with today’s games people would pack it up and run away quicker than a Jewish man depositing his check in the bank. Seriously, today’s “gamer” has grown too fickle and they don’t seem to want to put too much time or effort into their games anymore. But not us children from the 80’s, oh no, we would keep pounding away until we broke some ground and got the job done. That’s what a gamer does.
     Well, now it’s time to discuss the actual game and where it’s strengths and weaknesses are found. First of all, we’ve got to talk about the sound effects and music within Contra and how they strike a sense of nostalgia with those who grew up playing the game. Everything from the theme that plays while the start screen comes up after pressing the power button to the sounds of the guns going off is quite frankly the stuff of legend among gamers. The 8-bit music you hear while running through each level has become “humming” tunes for many of us and I would say that Contra had some pretty fun and addicting tunes throughout the game. Honestly though I’ve got to say that it’s been several years since I’ve made it past the first few levels so I don’t remember all of the music, but I do remember a good portion of it which speaks volumes since I haven’t heard much of it in close to 20 years since I’ve finished the game.
    The game controls just fine on the classic NES controller though I have heard that many prefer the NES Advantage joystick while playing, and I’ve also heard that the dogbone controller works well too. Everything is responsive and I wouldn’t say it struggles with sluggish performance or anything, it can just be very annoying when bullets are flying everywhere and it becomes insanely hard to dodge them while you’re making your way through certain levels. But that speaks more to the difficulty of Contra than the controls of the game.
     The graphical performance of the game are fairly pretty and represented the NES quite well back in it’s heyday. Though the visuals are nothing too outstanding mind you, they were on par with other games of it’s time and you can see everything that is going on within the screen and can clearly see where you need to jump and things such as that. There is no major weakness in the graphical category that I can think of and everything appears to look fine. It’s funny how developers were able to get so much more out of the NES toward the end of it’s life-cycle though, with games that have visuals that eventually would put Contra to shame, but I guess that could be said for any video game console as developers learn to develop for it. At the end of the day and the most important stat to worry about is that the game is fun.
     And if I’m not mistaken that would be why we play games in the first place, correct? For the fun? Yeah, that’s exactly why people played video games back in the day but I’m not entirely sure that’s why people are playing video games today for whatever reason, but that’s another blog for another time. And now we’ll take a look at the totals……
Graphics/Visuals - 7.5
Sound/Music - 8.0
Controls/Handling - 8.5
Fun/Enjoyment - 8.25
Overall - 8.0
© B-Sly The Gamer Guy