Saturday, October 5, 2013

Been a While, Eh?

Hey, Birds!

Judging from the date of this post, it's painfully obvious that I haven't been keeping up with the Coop in quite some time. Alas, becoming a full time college student has revealed to me just how horrible I am at time management. And for that, I apologize.

I will say, however, that I still would like the Coop to become a fixture on the Internet. I don't know where or when this will happen, but I will continue to work hard and educate myself until it does. In the meantime, keep checking back every now and then. Perhaps I'll finally get this scheduling thing down and actually find time to contribute!

Thanks for your understanding, Birds!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pigeon's Scrapbook Halloween SPOOKTACULAR: Shadowman

Birds, we're back! We had a bit of trouble down here in Pigeon Country, what with all the service outages and Hurricane Sandy breathing down our necks. But that's all done and over with, so I say we get back into the swing of things and get to posting!

October 31st is here, and that means Jack-o-Lanterns, candy corn, and all the little chickadees dressed up and on the hunt for sweets and treats. And speakin' of treats, BP's got a real doozy for y'all! It's time to dust off the old scrapbook, and take a look at another of my fondest gaming memories. In keeping with the spirit of Halloween, let's turn the clock back to 1999, and step into the spooky voodoo lore of....

Released: 1999
Developer: Acclaim Teeside Studios
Publisher: Acclaim
Systems: Playstation, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, Windows

Front Cover
Back Cover (covers via )
 Usually, when one reminisces about long defunct Acclaim Games, they're reminded of mediocre licensed property cash-ins and strippers riding around topless on BMX bikes. But, every now and then, they would manage to squeeze out something worth your time. And Shadow Man is definitely high up on that list.

 Now before we get into the game proper, Pigeon's got a little history lesson for you. The Shadowman series actually got it's start in 1992, as the flagship title from fledgling comic book publisher Valiant Comics. The original series focused on a jazz musician out of New Orleans named Jack Boniface. Jack comes into possession of supernatural powers, and ends up butting heads with the various demonic denizens of the Underworld as the Shadowman. The comic series was actually quite popular, and was outselling the likes of The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Batman, and the Justice League of America in it's prime. Wanting to break into the comics business, Acclaim purchased Valiant for $65,000,000. Wasting no time, they got to work on rebooting the Shadowman franchise under the Acclaim Comics banner, with the ulterior motive to have it make the leap from comics to video games.

 In Acclaim's universe, the Shadow Man is known as Michael LeRoi. Ten years prior to the events of the game, he flunked out of his English Literature studies at a prominent university, and had gambled himself broke. To make ends meet, he took up work as a cab driver in Chicago, all the while keeping his failures a secret from his family back in New Orleans. One night, Mike's fare was gunned down in a drive-by shooting, leaving behind a briefcase with $20,000. Sensing opportunity, Mike runs home with the cash, and proceeds to lavish his family with gifts. Of course, anyone who's ever read or seen "No Country for Old Men" knows what becomes of those who decide to run off with dirty money. Fearing for his life, Mike tracks down a Bokor (voodoo priest) and begs him for protection, which the Bokor is all to happy to provide. When the gang tracked them down and opened fire, the protection proved successful.......for Mike. The rest of his family ended up dead. 

 The price Mike paid for his protection was a hefty one. Not only did he lose his entire family, but he was now an amnesiac, forced to serve the Bokor as Zero, his personal zombie assassin. However, Fate would intervene in the form of Mother Agnetta (Nettie, for short), an old and powerful voodoo priestess. Seeking retribution against the Bokor for attacks on her associates, she leads her gang into the Bokor's sanctum and gets to stomping. In the chaos, Nettie snatches away Mike, and implants the mystical Mask of Shadows into his chest. As a result, Michael LeRoi would become the Shadow Man, supernatural voodoo warrior, and the only line of defense against the malevolent forces from Deadside. On July 31st, 1999, Michael LeRoi was poised to make his gaming debut, and Shadow Man was released on the Nintendo 64 and Windows PC's. 

 This memorable intro would set the stage for 
Michael's adventure. Tasked with preventing the Apocalypse,
Mike would traverse the lands of the living and the dead in an
attempt to put the brakes on Legion's plans for humanity.

I think the best way that I can describe Shadow Man would be as a grim and grimy Legend of Zelda clone. Those types of games were quite common in the late 90's. Exploring vast worlds, collecting various weapons and trinkets, finding secret rooms and passageways, and so on. But it would be Shadow Man's spooky voodoo atmosphere that would help separate it from the rest. Each level exuded plenty of doom and gloom. From the desolate wastes of Deadside's furthest reaches, to the twisted architecture of Legion's Asylum, and the chaos and carnage running rampant at Gardelle County Penitentiary, each level offered up plenty of dark corridors and blood stained hallways to slake your thirst for the macabre. Complimenting the on screen chaos was the equally moody sounds of Tim Haywood's soundtrack. Tim created quite an eclectic mix for the OST, with pounding tribal beats working in tandem with off kilter piano chords and gruesome sound effects. He even saw fit to include a bit of Beethoven to sweeten the pot, as the intro above demonstrates.

I have no idea what's being maimed, but it sounds freaky
as all get out. 

Thankfully, the game plays as good as it looked and sounded for the time. Like the adventure games that came before it, Mike has plenty of weapons and tactics to employ against adversaries on both planes of existence. In the living world, Mike relies his arsenal of pistols and assault rifles to beat back the demonic horde. Once he crosses over to Deadside and becomes Shadow Man, he makes use of various voodoo artifacts and abilities to immolate and eviscerate the wicked, and navigate the more perilous paths found in the land of the dead. Various collection quests are also included to help boost Mike's powers and stats. One interesting bit about the game was that Mike was able to wield two of his weapons akimbo, which allowed for some crazy combinations of firepower.

 Another thing that stands out for me were the characters and creatures. On top of the now standard zombies and evil birds, Mike would also do battle with pig men, armed with meat hooks and rifles. He'd also lock horns with two headed abominations, magic wielding voodoo goddesses, and towering hulks of flesh and metal. But the most memorable adversaries were the five serial killers under Legion's employ. Most of these men were heavily inspired by the likes of Hannibal Lecter and the Son of Sam. Heck, they even saw fit to have Mike go toe to toe with a demonically reborn Jack the Ripper. Equally as memorable were Mike's partners in crime. Nettie would always offer up cryptic clues and voodoo wisdom in her Louisiana church,  while a drunken Irish skull snake...thing by the name of Jaunty would enlighten Shadow Man about the trials and tribulations to be found in Deadside.

He also wears a top hat. Classy bloke. 

 Shadow Man would share in the same success as his comic book, with the game becoming a sales success, and finding homes on the Playstation and Dreamcast. This success would earn Mike 'n pals a return trip on the Playstation 2, as Acclaim released Shadow Man 2econd Coming in 2002. But, that will be a story for another time. For now, why not find yourself a decent emulator, click a couple of links, and spend your Halloween evening in Deadside with Shadow Man. Or any other evening, for that matter. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Ric Flair Fridays: Naitch in Tag Team Action.

Whether you like it, or you don't, learn to love it! Because it's the best thing going every Friday at the Coop. All the ability! All the looks! Sixteen times the World Champion! It's Ric Flair Fridays! WOOOOOOO!

Flap those wings, birds, because the weekend is here! And what would weekends at the Coop be without a little bit of limosene riding, jet flying, kiss stealing, wheeling and dealing? Why, it would be a weekend without Flair! 

This week, we've got a little nugget from Naitch's days in the former World Wrestling Federation. During 1992, Flair would become embroiled in a feud with "Macho Man" Randy Savage. And what a feud it was. From controversial title matches, to Flair's doctored photos of himself and Miss Elizabeth having an affair, tensions were reaching a critical boiling point. And at the Survivor Series in Richfield, Ohio, all that built up aggression was about to boil over.

Randy Savage had originally planned to tackle Flair and his partner, Razor Ramon, with the aid of the Ultimate Warrior. However, the Warrior had already departed the WWF for Parts Unknown, and Savage was seemingly left to fend for himself against the combined might of Flair, Ramon, Bobby Heenan, and Mr. Perfect. But Savage was no fool. It didn't take him long to find the perfect replacement for Warrior Man.

Enjoy the show! (thanks to SkiHippy for the video upload!)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ric Flair Fridays: Ric Flair vs .....RIC FLAIR?

Whether you like it, or you don't, learn to love it! Because it's the best thing going every Friday at the Coop. All the ability! All the looks! Sixteen times the World Champion! It's Ric Flair Fridays! WOOOOOOO!

The weekend is here, birds! And when it's Friday in Pigeon Country, it's Flair. Let's see what ol' Ric's got for us this week.

 WHOA! Now wait just a minute. Who is this handsome, Nubian stranger? And why on God's green earth is he making a mockery out of  the Nature Boy? What in the hell is happening here, wrestling fans? Has the world gone mad? 

 Eh, not really. Actually, what we have here are a couple of promo segments from TNA Impact (circa 2010) between Naitch and current Ring of Honor competitor Jay Lethal. Many folks who watch TNA best remember Lethal for his gimmick as "Black Machismo", in which he dressed up as and impersonated "Macho Man" Randy Savage. During this time, Lethal had come into possession of Ric Flair's coveted Hall of Fame ring, and decided to pay homage to the Nature Boy the only way he knew how.

Needless to say, Flair was less than appreciative of the gesture. This lack of respect on the part of Lethal would end up putting him in the cross hairs of both Flair, and his new stable of wrestlers he called "Fortune". 

Many thanks goes out to the official TNA Wrestling Youtube page for the videos. Enjoy the wackiness, birds. And enjoy your weekend! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wallace's Quest

Hiya, birds!

Today I want to help out a good friend of mine, and spread the word about Wallace.

Ya see, Wallace here is in pretty bad shape. Now all us birds here in Pigeon Country don't know where the poor fella came from. But we do know that he was found roaming along our dusty back roads, and from the looks of it...he could really use some ol' fashioned T.L.C. right 'bout now.

And I think all you birds are just the ones to give it to him.

So while he's layin' up in the local vet's ICU, why not pay a visit to his official web site, and see what kind of help or support you can offer up? Wallace would be mighty grateful to you if you did. And so would we.

Thanks for your time, birds. I'll see y'all real soon!