2011 – Shael Riley & The Double Ice Backfire – Ultimate Songs from the Pit

Shael Riley and The Double Ice Backfire did a Kickstarter fundraiser in late 2010… and even though my discs may have gotten lost in the mail somewhere along the line, Shael Riley does right by his fans and he was kind enough to toss me a download code to get the album from Bandcamp. And am I ever glad he did.

You may remember Shael Riley from the chiptune band The Grammar Club. One of Shael’s other projects has been the Double Ice Backfire, which is clearly an homage to all things Mortal Kombat, even musically. The band performed a cover of the song Sub-Zero (Chinese Ninja Warrior) (which was from an old album released when the very first Mortal Kombat game was released). The album title references The Pit (a famous level in the Mortal Kombat series) and there is even a song en titled “tip eht fo mottob” – which is a clever reference to a screen in the original arcade version of Mortal Kombat which the hint “tip eht fo mottob” – a clue to a way that you can fight the hidden character, Reptile. The song is a fun trip through the Mortal Kombat universe from Reptile’s perspective.

Not every song was equally geeky. Album opener, How to Fire a Gun is quite sincere and contains much more thought provoking lyrics: “do you believe she’ll never leave you, do you have someone to read to, do you hope you’ll never need to fire a gun?” But don’t worry, if that’s not your scene, then you can rely on songs like Hipster Hoax to bring you back to the world you’re familiar with, of pirates, ninjas, and cats.

While people waited for the album to finish, the band released several covers (many of which were commissioned by Kickstarter contributors), including Here Comes the Hot Stepper (you’d remember Ini Kamoze if your heard it!), Creep from Radio Head, Cake’s The Distance, and even Melanie by “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Head to ShaelRiley.com to listen to the covers for free, and you can head to Bandcampto buy the album for $10.

Xbox Live Gold vs Silver? Gold has its benefits!

I think by now a lot of people still know the benefits of Xbox Live Gold over Silver accounts… the biggest of which involves actually playing games online! But what are some others? Here’s a quick run down of some of the features you only get by going gold:

  • Unlimited online multiplayer
  • Access to Instant Watch apps like Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu, UFC, and ESPN
  • Exclusive deal-priced downloads of Games on Demand, Xbox Live Arcade, DLC, and even movies and music
  • Early and exclusive access to game previews and demos
  • Access to music apps like Last.FM and iHeartRadio
  • Voice and video chat with Xbox Live Vision Camera or Kinect

There are loads of other benefits to going gold, so why don’t you follow the steps in the video above to sign up for Gold? If, for some reason the video changes down the road or doesn’t want to play, I won’t leave you hanging! You can always upgrade your silver account to a Gold account by visiting the Xbox.com Manage Subscription page.

Gaming takes me back…

I have been on a strange and fairly pointless kick lately. I have barely turned on my Xbox 360, or even my PS3. I’ve been watching more movies, and playing other games. Games that I’ve missed. Missed in both terms of “never played” – like the games that occasionally show up in my “Backorder catalog, and also missed in terms of “just haven’t played in a while.” I went on Goozex and got a a few games like NES Play Action Football, and Silent Hill for the PlayStation. Two games that I’ve never played, but always heard good things about. I can’t wait to hook up my original NES for a play session.

I recently went on GoG.com and purchased Sim City 2000 when it was on sale. I even went on Steam and loaded up some game expansions that I never completed like Half-Life’s Opposing Forces. I added my original Star Craft CD Key to my Blizzard / Battle.net account. I found a rare game in my parents’ attic called Gunman Chronicles (which you can’t activate on Steam, by the way!). Another victory for Steam, I bought a special sale priced collection of games from id Software, and found myself playing a lot of DooM 3 and Quake III Arena.

I can’t explain why, so suddenly, I have been compelled to play so many classics. But I ran through a few levels of Donkey Kong Country, and even picked up the Virtual Boy I had left in the childhood bedroom where I grew up. Something is calling for me, and I can’t yet tell if it’s something genuinely retro, like my Gameboy, or if it’s something slightly newer. All I know is that right now I long for the days when controllers had wires, and you sat on the carpet about 4 feet from the TV, and you bleeped and blipped your way around a world that looked the way it sounded. I haven’t found the right thing to itch the scratch, but it’s a good gaming Friday, and I think it’s time to start the quest to find what I’m missing.