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Monthly Archives: September 2010

Today I saw a note in my Facebook feed that started with the following text:

“Don’t take too long to think about it. 15 video games you’ve played that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen (or more) friends.”

Instead of tagging 15 friends, I’m tagging all of you. Below are my fifteen. Comment with your fifteen!

-BF

1) Final Fantasy IV (Originally Final Fantasy II in the US)

What can I say? Kickass music, a nice twisty plot, and great characters. And–while it’s controversial–I’m just gonna say I like how they kept it manageably short as opposed to the eleventy-billion-page novel that was Final Fantasy VI.

2) Chrono Trigger

You take a kid who likes Back to the Future and RPGs and sit him in front of this game, he’s gonna have a good time. The soundtrack is a bit hot and cold with me, but when it’s good, it’s a-fucking-mazing.

3) The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Classic, yet innovative. It was to the Zelda series what Super Mario Bros. 3 was to the Mario franchise (and not just because it was the third installment). For my money, it’s the only Zelda title that can compete with Ocarina of Time for the title of “arguably the best Zelda game”

4) Thief: The Dark Project

This was the game that got me into PC gaming. No memorable music to speak of, but I can’t think of another game that has ever gotten my heart to race like this game when it first came out. Thief was a pioneer of the “stealth shooter” concept, and to this day holds up as one of the most immersive gaming experiences ever.

5) Deus Ex

The RPG genre has been combined with platforming (Zelda II), action-adventure (Secret of Mana) and even the Disney universe (Kingdom Hearts). But rarely has it been combined with the FPS category. Deus Ex was a groundbreaking mix of both, and the genius of its concept has never been duplicated–not even in its disappointing 2003 sequel.

6) Road Runner’s Death Valley Rally

I’d be afraid to dust this game off today, because it’s probably really bad. In 1993 though, it was one of the only new games I had for the SNES. Basically, this one wasn’t so much life-changingly good as just a game I spent many hours playing.

7) Mega Man 3

This was my first Mega Man game and as far as I’m concerned it has the best title theme of all time. Some of the design choices are questionable, and it’s a frustratingly long game considering the simplicity of the Megaschtick, but it had a great soundtrack, particularly the boss fight themes and the ending credits theme.

8 ) Final Fantasy

I got to Final Fantasy a few years later than most kids. It had sold so many copies that Nintendo Power was giving it away to longtime subscribers. Having played Dragon Warrior, it was easy enough to understand. Delicious but now-obscure tunes completely INFEST the soundtrack, and it’s easy to see how one of the biggest franchises in history grew out of this humbly ambitious game.

9) A Boy And His Blob

Not a perfect game, but definitely one that made you think. It really only had one song looping throughout the entirety of the gameplay, but it must have been good considering how many  nights I skipped homework to be chased around by an obese, candy-addicted beanbag.

10) Civilization

Ultimate jurisdiction. Ultimate oversight. Ultimate power. As a young kid with very little influence on the world around me, I got to exercise plenty of executive decision-making with this franchise. Also Civilization II was the first game I’d ever played that had live-action video as part of the gameplay; at the time it was amazing.

11) Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers

I picked this particular installment in the Street Fighter series because it was my favorite growing up, due in large part to Cammy’s adorable win animation where she shows the player her perfect I-would-eat-scrambled-eggs-off-of-it ass for a few seconds and then smiles. It was a magical time for my wiener and I. Also, over the three-year process of writing the musical I’ll Be Damned, my collaborator and I often rewarded ourselves for a hard day of work by blowing off some steam playing this game. To this day, it’s the only fighter where I feel confident talking trash.

12) Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!

This game is like a big, fun cartoon. It’s got real suspense and white-knuckle moments paired with endless charming details and good tunes.

13) Banjo-Kazooie

I didn’t play many games on the Nintendo 64 because the 64’s heyday was right around the time I was becoming a PC gamer. This game stuck out though, due in large part to its super-fun soundtrack. I also really appreciate the detail and thought that went into the game, made most apparent in the fact that as you walk around a level, different areas have slightly different musical arrangements for the same song.

14) Super Mario Bros.

This is definitely a facepalm entry to any list, but I feel it’s important. Most 80’s babies whose family owned an NES bought the bundle that came with the Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt cartridge. This shaped our perceptions of video games forever; how would gaming be different today if the bundle game had been Donkey Kong, the original Legend of Zelda, or even Metroid? Super Mario Bros. set a standard of excellence and brilliant simplicity and one could argue that it is chiefly responsible for the early success of the NES, as well as the revival of the home arcade industry.

15) Mario Paint

Picture this: A person with all of the creative potential and urgent need for attention as yours truly. Now imagine that person is eight years old. It was the late summer of 1992, and I had seen the ads for Mario Paint. I had read about it in Nintendo Power. I had to have it. Back before the internet and before every household had a computer, there weren’t as many ways for a kid to express himself through technology. These days, any punkass five-year-old can use a webcam and upload a Youtube video, but in the early 90’s, creativity and readily available technology rarely mixed. With Mario Paint, I could compose my own tunes, draw complex pictures and even animate my own characters. I’ll never know exactly how much of an impact this game had on me as an artist, but I can say with certainty that it gave me a safe place to experiment artistically. In school, you’re always writing and making things that will be seen and reviewed by teachers and parents. Mario Paint allowed me to try stuff I would never do in school. In short, it was a huge part of my creative development and I am thankful that it came into my life when it did.
Those are my fifteen… what are yours?

-BF

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Hey brentallovers.

I’ve been doing live brentalfloss shows for about 18 months, and the requests for me to play shows in specific cities continue to roll in. Before I say anything else, please know that it is AWESOME that so many of you want to see me in person; it’s always flattering to be reminded that I have fans all over the world.

That said, I learned a lot of things during my five-show “mini-tour” in August and September. I thought I could play a show across the country and that the sale of CDs at the show would pay for my travel expenses. In most cases, I was wrong and I frankly lost a few hundred bucks when all was said and done. I don’t say that to bitch and moan, only to frame what I’m about to say:

I love doing live shows. In college, I was an acting major and I realized I didn’t love the process—the actual work of  acting—very much. I was also surrounded by people far more talented at performing and dedicated to it. Consequently, I gave up my idea of being a performer and focused on writing. The fact that the “brentalfloss” phenomenon has brought me out of my performing retirement is no small consideration; I always had the soul of an entertainer beneath the mind of a writer, and it is an amazing experience getting to connect so intimately with my audience.

Here’s the thing though: It doesn’t make sense from any standpoint—much less a business standpoint—to lose money when I play shows. I’m working on some new merchandise that may help in the future, but as it stands, there’s no tried-and-true business model that allows me to play a show somewhere and break even. I get requests to do shows in Europe and even places like Australia and South America, and I think to myself “That would be fun, but I’d basically be losing hundreds and maybe thousands of dollars.” While the sales of my CD have been very satisfactory, I’m nowhere near “rich” or even “well off”. There has to be a better way.

And so that’s why I choose to tell you this: while I may occasionally do a show in a city to which I already happen to be traveling, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to personally pay for the travel costs to go farther than, say, five hundred miles away from New York City.

UNLESS someone were to help pay for the travel. Gaming conventions routinely fly internet celebrities out to appear, and there are myriad ways to raise money on the internet. So if you’re one of the hardcore fans that wants me to do a show nearby (casual fans, I love yew guys teww), you might consider getting some cash together and sending me a message via Youtube, or using a connection with a local convention to help fly me there. I will not always be available for a particular date, and I may not be able to travel to each place requested, but for those of you who are serious about seeing a brentalfloss show, the power is yours. If you can pay for a round trip ticket and provide me with a place to stay, I am much more likely to say “yes!”

Just something to think about. As always, I am thankful for the love of my fans.

-BF