Just Play

Sonic Mania- Childhood Remastered!!!

Oh. My. God.

It’s somehow fitting that my favorite game on the PS4 is nothing more than a throwback to what was in my opinion the golden age of video games. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, and Sonic Mania uses this to its advantage to create nothing but joy in this 32-year-old gamer’s heart.

One of my fondest memories as a gamer was coming home from school one day to discover that my parents had gone out of their way to surprise me with a belated birthday gift. As I walked towards my closed bedroom door, I heard video game sounds emanating from the speakers of my old tube TV. Did I leave my Nintendo on by mistake? DAD’S GONNA KILL ME! ( He always made sure that I understood that electricity costs money lol ) These sounds however, were NEW to me. I had played enough of Megaman 2 and Super Mario to know those sound effects and music by heart. No, this was something different.

I opened my door and in front of me was the greatest sight a 9-year-old could see: A brand new Sega Genesis just begging to be played. The game that was making those unfamiliar noises? Sonic the Hedgehog 2. As the game’s demo was playing, I just stood there, jaw dropped at its beauty. I hugged my parents and thanked them for what seemed like an eternity.

Soon after I indulged in what would become one of my favorite games ever. It was so different from what I was used to at the time. Instead of trudging along as a slow out of shape plumber, I was breaking the sound barrier with the little Blue Blur known as Sonic. Instead of hearing tiny sounding 30 second loops of a song every stage, my young ears were treated to some of the best songs I had heard from a video game console. I mean just listen to the Genesis sound chip MURDER this track!

MMMMM sweet, sweet 16-bit synth goodness right there.


The game’s sense of speed! Its sound! Its beautiful graphics! I was immediately hooked by the game, and I played the hell out of it as well as it’s two sequels, the amazing Sonic 3, and Sonic and Knuckles. And then, for whatever reason SEGA, the game’s developer somehow forgot how to make a good Sonic game (save for the GREAT Sonic CD that was made for its disk based SEGA CD console.) Once the lil hedgehog made the inevitable leap to 3D, the series lost some of its soul.

But with this newest game, Sonic is BACK!

After years of sub par games, Sega decided to enlist a gentleman by the name of Christian Whitehead- a freelance game developer and Sonic enthusiast. Whitehead’s initial claim to fame was his homemade port of Sonic CD for the iPhone. At first Sega tried to take down his hard work due to copyright infringement, but eventually they saw the labor of love that it was and actually hired him to make official ports of some of their classic Sonic games for the Xbox 360, PS3 and cell phones. These ports were very well received, so Sega decided to entrust Whitehead with the creation of a brand new Sonic game. And boy did he deliver.

This game is damn near perfect, and is a love letter to every fan in the series. Instead of using crazy 3D polygons and giving us a huge open world to explore, Sonic Mania gets back to the series’ roots – brilliant level design, a true sense of speed and momentum, physics that are dead on, gorgeous (yet simple) graphics and art design, and an absolutely INCREDIBLE soundtrack.

sonic mania img

Sonic Mania contains twelve wonderful levels, all split into two acts. A good chunk of the levels are “remixes” of stages that appeared in the first three Sonic games on the Genesis, with the first acts remaining generally faithful to their original counterparts with a few surprises thrown in. It’s in Act 2 of these remixed stages that generally introduce new gimmicks and mechanics to keep players on their toes. Not only are all of these levels huge, but they all offer multiple paths to completion depending on which character you select.

Yes, right from the jump, you can decide to play as either Sonic, his flying fox pal Tails, or the wall climbing Knuckles. All can be played as solo characters, or you can team up Sonic and Tails together-with Sonic of course taking the lead. As an added bonus, a second player can jump in at anytime to take control of Tails if you decide to go through the game using the pair-just like in the original games. Each character has his pros -Sonic’s shields that he finds offer him special abilities like double jumping and the ability to shoot across the screen in a fireball, Tails can fly for a limited time, and Knuckles can glide horizontally for great distances and climb walls, and cons -Tails and Knuckles don’t get special shield abilities, and Knuckles can’t jump as high as Sonic. The differences between each character are slight but impact gameplay in meaningful ways.

As any Sonic fan can tell you the soundtrack is a vital piece to any Sonic game, AND HOT DAMN DOES SONIC MANIA DELIVER!!!! Seriously, the lead composer of Sonic Mania, Tee Lopes has done and utterly FANTASTIC job with the soundtrack, giving us remixes of the classics as well as simply stunning original compositions. The soundtrack swings from synthed out thrash to New Jack Swing style bangers. It has something for everyone, and each track fits its stage to perfection.  Just take a listen to his remix of the “Chemical Plant Zone” track.

So, SO SEXY!!!


Now listen to the original composition “Prime Time” from the Studiopolis Act.

That’s some hot fire right there!


Sonic Mania is everything that I wanted it to be and more. Amazing visuals and sound, a punishing but fair difficulty, and loads of content make this a must own title that anyone can pick up and play. It hits a sweet spot for me personally for sure, but I honestly can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t enjoy it. Oh, and did I mention that it’s only $20 bucks?!?!?!?!? Yep, a $20 dollar digital only game that takes up less space on my hard drive than my Netflix app is by far the most fun I have had on my PS4 in a loooong time. I cannot recommend this game highly enough. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have rings to collect and funky jams to vibe to.

Game is available for digital download for PS4, Xbox 1, Nintendo Switch and PC.



The Hood Internet Presents: 40 Years Of Hip Hop

Aaron Brink and Steve Reidell, better known as production duo/mashup team The Hood Internet, pay homage to hip hop’s entire existence with their latest blend, “40 Years Of Hip Hop.” Taking literally highlights of the last four decades of music audio and visual and throwing it into a blender.

Here are all the artist they used for the mix:

2Pac, 50 Cent, A Tribe Called Quest, Afrika Bambaataa, Audio Two, AZ, Beastie Boys, BG, Big Pun, Biz Markie, Black Rob, Black Sheep, Blackstreet, Bobby Shmurda, Boogie Down Productions, Busta Rhymes, Cali Swag District, Cam’ron, Chamillionaire, Chance The Rapper, Clipse, Common, Craig Mack, Cypress Hill, David Banner, De La Soul, Dead Prez, Digable Planets, Digital Underground, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, DJ Kool, DJ Quik & Kurupt, DMX, Doug E Fresh, Dr. Dre, Drake, Eazy-E, Eminem, Eric B. & Rakim, Funky 4+1, Gang Starr, Geto Boys, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, GZA, House of Pain, Ice Cube, J-Kwon, Jadakiss, Jay Electronica, Jay-Z, JJ Fad, Juvenile, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Kid Cudi, KRS-One, Lauryn Hill, Lil Jon & The Eastside Boys, Lil Kim, Lil Troy, Lil Wayne, LL Cool J, Ludacris, Madvillain, MC Shan, Meek Mill, MF DOOM, Missy Elliott, Mobb Deep, Montell Jordan, MOP, Nas, Naughty By Nature, Nelly, Nicki Minaj, Notorious BIG, NWA, Ol Dirty Bastard, Outakst, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Petey Pablo, Pharaohe Monch, Public Enemy, Puff Daddy, Quad City DJs, Rich Boy, Rick Ross, Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock, Run-DMC, Salt N Pepa, Scarface, Schoolly D, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Skee-Lo, Slick Rick, Snoop Dogg, Soulja Boy, Sugarhill Gang, T La Rock, T-Wayne, T.I., Terror Squad, The Fat Boys, The Fatback Band, The Fugees, The Game, The Pack, The Pharcyde, The Roots, Three 6 Mafia, Tone Loc, Tyga, UGK, Usher, UTFO, Warren G, Whodini, Wreckx-N-Effect, Wu-Tang Clan, Ying Yang Twins, Young Gunz

Do you want just the audio?  The Hood Internet has it here for free.


Purple Valentine’s Day Playlist

Happy Valentine’s Day to all, and it wouldn’t be right without some music.  Now that Warner Bros. released Prince’s catalog, I found a great playlist for everyone to enjoy.  Press play and enjoy the amazing music from the late great Prince.


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Wheel of Freestyle with Common

Common and Tariq from The Roots take turns receiving three random words they’ve never seen before and working them into a freestyle.  This is amazing, Common and Tariq killed this.  Just go head and press play and be amazed.


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Catch up on Star Wars…in 8-bits!!!

Well, it’s finally come. Star Wars is back! And believe it or not, I’m actually NOT that big a fan. I know, I might as well hand over my nerd card. I mean, what self respecting Sci Fi nut (which I TOTALLY am) doesn’t dig the epic space opera about dudes with 4 foot laser swords with psycic powers? I mean that sounds legitimately badass right? Well lots and lots of people sure think so! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t HATE these movies. I’ve seen the original trilogy and while I did enjoy those films, they never quite got me to LOVE them. Can’t really explain it. So, the hype over The Force Awakens has not really given me the “Star Wars fever” that has run rampant. With that being said, I came across this video and immediately LOVED IT!!! Not because it’s Star Wars, but because it’s a brief retelling of the first three movies using old school Nintendo “8-bit” graphics. Not only that, but each “movie” uses a different 8-bit NES game to tell its story. “A New Hope” seems to be a modification of the classic The Legend Of Zelda. The other two movies use the perennial thumb-busters Mega Man and Golden Axe. Definitely worth a watch if you’re into some old childhood nostalgia around this crazy time of year!!!


One the most bizarre video games in history is making a comeback. And it’s got SHAQ!

Shaq Fu. It’s a name that many gamers from the days of the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis remember. We don’t remember it fondly, mind you, but damn it we remember it and now it’s coming back. Never heard of the game? Here’s a look at the old version:

Yep. A Street Fighter knock off starring Shaq. And he fights zombies and mummies. It was bad. Kazaam bad.

Well it looks like the Shaq-tus REALLY. CANT. BE. STOPPED. Because he’s back in a new Shaq Fu!!!

This time around Shaq Fu takes it’s inspiration from old school beat ’em ups such as Double Dragon and adds in a goofy, lighthearted vibe and story. If the gameplay holds up, this could end up being a nice little surprise when it gets released.

And besides, who doesn’t love Shaq?


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Just Play

Well, well faithful viewers it’s been a while since I last updated this section, and for that I apologize! I haven’t forgotten about you so I’m here to leave you with some quick thoughts on what I’ve been playing the last month or so, and my opinion on if it’s worth it or not to throw down your hard earned cash on these particular techno nerd vices.


Yeah, this piece of work is what inspired yours truly to start this column in the first place. I love it. And not for the reasons that I thought I would! Past Metal Gear games were notoriously heavy on cutscenes that explained the series’ complex lore containing triple crossing spies, super power wielding villains, and nuclear deterrence. Previous games would use tight, linear gameplay segments to drive its campy story. Thankfully, The Phantom Pain relegates most of the nonsensical story to the background and lets it’s gameplay speak loud and clear. Most mission tasks boil down to “go here, kill/ kidnap target/ destroy thing” but it offers you a mind numbingly variety of ways to accomplish these seemingly mundane tasks. Wanna go in with missle launchers, C4 and and a heavy machine gun and let explosions rise into the sunny Afghanistan skies? Rock on. Prefer to sneak in at night with a silenced tranquilizer pistol with your trusty dog sidekick pointing out enemies for you? Go for it. In a day and age where most action video games rely on pre scripted set pieces to drive excitement, The Phantom Pain expects you to create your own. Enemies are smart, relentless, and well equipped. Even once you start to get the hang of things and feel like a pro, later missions challenge you to replay earlier levels, only with added restrictions such as starting with zero equipment, or going through completely undetected. Completing these FRUSTRATING tasks is ultimately rewarding only in a way that geeks baptized by the fires of notorious thumb-busters like Mega Man and Battletoads will truly appreciate. Narratively, the game is scattershot at best, and most of the story resides in optional cassette tapes that the player can listen to at any time. Aside from the INSANE opening, the game’s cutscenes are minimal, and short. They are also- like the rest of the game- graphically stunning. You may not understand what the hell is going on during these scenes (I’m not even sure I did!) but you will be rewarded with plenty of eye candy nonetheless. Playing on the PS4, the game ran smooth and had very few technical glitches that plague games these days. The game is also extremely dark in tone, and decidedly NOT for kids.

All in all, if your a fan of the series, you probably already have it. For everyone else, the gameplay alone makes it a worthy purchase, but just be prepared to be confused by a story that can be unnecessarily dark and pretentious at times. Maybe a rental first to test the waters or wait for the inevitable holiday sale.


Just Play

Hello, my name is JD, and I am a video game nerd. A big one. As an 80s baby it was almost a given that I would fall in love with Mario, Sonic, Battletoads, and MegaMan. I am now 30 years old (ugh) and I can say that I have owned at least one major video game system in each console generation dating back to the good ol’ Nintendo Entertainment System up to the current Playstation4/Xbox One generation. Hell, I still OWN every single one and they are in perfect working order. Instead of comic books (or um…school books) I had stacks of Gamepro magazines that I would love to read when I wasn’t playing. Uh… I mean studying that 4th grade grammar. Totally what I meant.
What I’m saying to you is that I have been a proud geek for the vast majority of my life. It always amazes me when I think about how far both the tech and the industry itself has come in a matter of decades. We went from jumping on goombas and eating mushrooms in Super Mario  (it was normal for the 80s I guess) to seeing fully realized worlds, voice acted characters, and production/marketing budgets akin to a Hollywood film. Seriously, its almost too insane to actually think about. With such growth and expansion, there is always going to be a drop in quality if you aren’t careful. So, some franchises I had loved as a kid just don’t hold the same reverence as they should once new installments get released.
There is however, one franchise that I have loved as a kid all the way through adult hood. And a new one is coming out on September 1st. Nothing raises one’s own Geek Flag higher than proclaiming their love for a thing called Metal Gear.
Metal Gear?
What the hell does that even mean? I’ll be 100% honest, I don’t even know for sure. I mean, the short answer, is that it’s an odd military stealth game. The other answer is to say that Metal Gear, and more specifically the Metal Gear Solid series of videogames is a bat**** crazy cluster**** of goodness that even its own fans don’t really understand. The series as a whole touches on various themes including information control, cloning, nuclear deterrence, the concepts of war, child soldiers, and revenge. In addition to these heavy, dark themes, there’s also poop jokes, smoking monkeys, giant walking nuclear equipped robots ( These are the “Metal Gears” where the series gets its name ), cyborg ninjas, powerful psychic soldiers, and vampires. And yet, somehow it all works.
Now, I have never seen one episode of Game of Thrones. Not one. Go ahead and judge me. But, as I understand it, it’s a very complex tale with many moving parts based on a series of as of yet unreleased books. If one were to dive head first into the show in season 4 without seeing the prior episodes, or read the books, they would have no clue what’s going on. That’s basically Metal Gear. There is basically no way in this world that I would be able to explain to you what is going on in this thing without writing a few novels, and even then, I would tell you to just play the games and enjoy them yourself, if you can.
But, for those of you who have no idea what the hell I’m babbling about, no fear! Here at the Something About Nothing blog, we are putting together a new section called Justplay. As a part of this new little section, I, JD, will be giving you my thoughts on whatever I’m currently playing as well as maybe put up a few gameplay vids of myself going toe to toe with our favorite blogmaster Wellz! Fair warning: there will be profanity. Mostly from me.
So I figured, what better game to kick off the party? Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain releases on September 1st. I will be buying it and keeping a tab of my thought process ( don’t be afraid ) throughout  my play through of the game. I’ll try and get deeper into why I love this thing so much, true, but more importantly I want to hear some reaction. Comment. Hit Wellz on Twitter. Send smoke signals. Do something. I’ll tell you why I think you might like the game and reasons why you might not. I’ll tell you if I’m biased. 
Something About Nothing’s goal has been to give you our (hopefully entertaining, ultimately thoughtful) perspective on our culture. Music, movies, tech and life. That’s what we bring. We work better with interaction. 
So let’s kick back and Justplay.