Player Two Start!: Favorite Fighting Game Stages

Fighting games are awesome, even a clueless gamer like myself can attest to that. However, as an artistic geek, one of my favorite elements of fighting games are the stages the bouts take place in. Often so much care and detail goes into the stages, arenas and kick-ass background music of fighting games that I find myself paying more attention to them than the fights themselves, usually resulting in me getting my butt handed to me. Today’s Player two Start pays tribute to some of my personal favorite fighting game stages and their music. Once again, these won’t be in any particular order, so I won’t be numbering them. Also again, these are just my personal favorite fighting game stages; others will have their own picks, and I welcome any feedback. Now, let’s do this!



While I like this stage, this one is a particular favorite of my twin brother Jason (aka our very own Goldstar); those who know him personally can attest that this stage is so him! This is easily one of the most eye-catching stages in all of SF2; I personally dig the twin bikini babes in red and blue. The music’s cool too.



While Fei Long is basically another “I wanna be like Bruce Lee!” fighting game character, his stage immediately caught my eye when I first spotted a SSF2 arcade machine in some chintzy little shopping center somewhere in Columbia, MD. It’s really breathtaking, I like the music and as added surprise, at the end of the bout(s), the exotic bird and dragons start cheering their approval. That blew me away, because up to that point I thought they were just statues. So mythical birds and dragons are real in the Street Fighter universe? Rockin’!



Our younger brother Chaz (aka CJP from the Otaku Gamer Spot) is fond of this stage, as am I. I’m not sure if the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) can really be seen in the skies of the United Kingdom, but the stage is cool anyway.



The character of Caffeine Nicotine (get it?) immediately got my attention when I first read about SS2 in Electronic Gaming Monthly (there I go, dating myself again). I thought they couldn’t be serious, adding this little old man character who looks like he couldn’t hurt a fly, to a fighting game; I figured he must be a joke character or something, but Nicotine quickly became a favorite of mine as he combines 2 things I’ve always liked: deceptively powerful characters and mystics. His stage is at the floor of temple steps shrouded in mist (nice touch), and his music is pure Asian goodness–it sounds like something out of Noh theater (which theater? Noh theater! Insert your own “Who’s on First?” routine here).




One of my favorite Samurai Shodown charcters has always been Galford. He’s an American in a Japanese setting, and I sort of fancy myself an Eastern/Western hybrid, a weirdo in 2 cultures) and he’s flashy and showy but a heck of a nice guy and devoted to justice–again similar to me, though I’m considerably more snarky and lazier. I like Galford’s harbor based stages with the rowdy seagoing types watching the fray (I always felt particularly bad when Galford would get wasted by a fatality move and you had to see his dog Poppy bow his head and face losing his master–what?! I have a sensitive side!), and his music rocks hard. Galford also has two of my all-time favorite win quotes:

“Forgive me. I possess power you can only dream of.” and

“Maybe I should get back to basics and stop the flash…naah.”

Here’s the music for Galford’s stage, Tuna. (No kidding, that’s really what it’s called.)



You probably figured this was going to make the list. No surprise there, it’s awesome. Ken tossing a birthday bash for his lady Eliza aboard his own massive luxury yacht with a ton o’ Capcom characters in attendance as his guests–how can anyone resist? FTR, here are the other characters who cameo in this stage:

  • Pure from Capcom World 2
  • Felicia from Darkstalkers (in the pool)
  • Morrigan from Darkstalkers
  • Lord Raptor (Zabel Zarock) from Darkstalkers (in human form strumming on his guitar)
  • Lei-Lei & Ling-Ling (aka Hsien-Ko and Mei Ling) from Night Warriors
  • Unknown Soldiers 1 and 2 from Forgotten Worlds
  • Michelle Heart from Legendary Wings
  • Linn Kurosawa from Aliens VS Predator (climbing out of the pool)
  • Biff and Ortega from Saturday Night Slam Masters
  • Strider Hiryu
  • Captain Commando
  • Ginzu from Captain Commando
  • Kenzou Sujimoto, Capcom staff member (as a butler)



Not much explanation needed here. It’s a 50’s style diner at night. Cool tunes and bouncing cars. Grab a burger and a chocolate malt and enjoy the brawl.



Even I’m not sure why I like this stage so much. It’s not very showy or flashy; it’s just the underside of a bridge somewhere in Japan, where a small group of kids have gathered to watch the fight, run around, goof on each other and well, just be kids. Sometimes understatement is the best statement. The music’s decent as well, kind of J-Pop, and strangely fitting to the stage.



Anyone who regularly follows this site knows that I like me some Asgard. I just love the idea that there’s this magical dimension of myth, might, advanced space technology and mysticism with a Rainbow Bridge, Pegasi and giant flying fire chickens just hanging a stone’s throw away from Earth.


And the place really lights up at night, literally!

I’m going to cheat a little with the music for this one. No characters in MvC3 have their own personalized stages, and I like Thor’s personal theme more than the designated theme for Asgard itself, so I’ll be going with the former instead of the latter.

-And there you have it. Some of my favorite fighting game stages and background tunes.


Whut, mate? No love fer my stage? I’ve got got me stage in a public loo! That’s classy!

Cartoon Country: The Super Hero Squad Show

In this edition of Cartoon Country, we’ll be looking back at one of my favorite super hero shows in recent years, Marvel Animation’s The Super Hero Squad Show.


The Super Hero Squad Show was based on the Marvel Super Hero Squad action figure line from Hasbro, which portray the Avengers, the X-Men, and various other characters of the Marvel Universe in a cartoonish super-deformed-style. It is also a self-aware parody of the Marvel characters, with influences taken from on the comedic Mini Marvels series of parody comic books, in that the heroes tend to find themselves in comedic situations, and have cartoonish bents in comparison to their usually serious personalities (such as The Incredible Hulk being jovial and good-natured but with “major anger issues”), and is an overall comedic take on the Avengers. The series’ animation was produced by Film Roman and Marvel Animation.

Before I start, let me just say that this isn’t a review of the show. I won’t be going into the overall story arcs or any specific details of the story lines, season arcs or anything like that. If you haven’t seen all of the episodes, I’m sure you can find them floating around on the internet somewhere. I’m just going to be geeking out over the elements that I particularly liked about the series. It’s going to get nerdy…

...You've been warned.

…You’ve been warned.

The Super Hero Squad Show was a parody of the Marvel universe and it wasn’t canon to the comics or to any of the previous Marvel animated series. For that reason a lot of Marvel enthusiasts hated the show with a passion.

“Super hero comics aren’t supposed to be funny! They’re supposed to be badass, bleak and dark, with no joy or jokes whatsoever! They’re supposed to be grim and serious! Now, I’m off to slip into my Iron Man pajama pants and drink cocoa from my Superman mug.”

Call me what you will, but the fact that SHS was a comedy and a parody never bothered me in the slightest. Admittedly, I’ve always been more of a comedy cartoon person than a serious action cartoon person. I thought that SHS was cool and had a good concept. SHS was like the Marvel Universe collided with Looney Tunes and I loved it.

One thing that I’ve always liked about SHS were the central characters, the Super Hero Squad members themselves, hereinafter referred to as “Squaddies”. They were an assemblage of several iconic Marvel characters, but they weren’t The Avengers. One bit that I liked was how each Squaddie had a special talent or “factor” that made for an ideal team. This was very much a toyetic gimmick, but I liked it anyway. They were:

IRON MAN – Technology Factor

IRON MAN: Technology Factor

  • Iron Man was chosen to be leader of the Squad due to the popularity of the Iron man live action movies starring Robert Downey Jr.
  • Iron Man was voiced by Tom Kenny, who also voiced Captain America and M.O.D.O.K.
  • Iron Man was never seen not wearing his signature armor on the show. He even slept with it on. We only see Tony Stark’s face for a minute in the series pilot.

HULK – Strength Factor

HULK: Strength Factor

  • Hulk was voiced by Travis Wllingham.
  • On the show, Hulk never turned back into Bruce Banner, although Dr. Banner was mentioned by Dr. Doom in one episode, there was no mention of any connection between Banner and the Hulk.

THOR – Elemental Factor

THOR: Elemental Factor

Thor was voiced by Dave Boat, who also voiced The Thing, The Watcher, and Doc Samson. Boat was hilarious as Thor! Nearly every line that came out of that guy’s mouth was a stitch!

WOLVERINE – Animal Factor

WOLVERINE: Animal Factor

This is the 2nd Marvel animated series in which Wolverine was voiced by Steve Blum. The first being Wolverine and the X-Men. Mr. Blum also voiced the Abomination on the show.

SILVER SURFER – Energy Factor

SILVER SURFER: Energy Factor

  • Silver Surfer was voiced by Mikey Kelly, who used a surfer dude type voice for the character.
  • Silver Surfer leaves the Squad at the end of season 1 and in season 2, Scarlet Witch takes his place on the team.

FALCON – Speed Factor

FALCON: Speed Factor

Since this series debuted before Falcon’s live action debut in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I’m guessing that the reason why Falcon was as the team’s Speed Factor chosen over say, Quicksilver (a much more obvious choice) was so there’d be a non-white among the Super Hero Squad (OK, technically Hulk is green and Silver Surfer is an alien, but you get the idea).

In addition, there was also a “Squaddie” in training; a relatively new Marvel character named Reptil. And unlike many teen sidekicks, I didn’t hate this character.

Reptil possessed a fossilzed talisman which initially granted him the ability to transform parts of his body to those of various dinosaurs, although he was able to go full dino int he shows' 2nd season.

Reptil possessed a fossilzed talisman which initially granted him the ability to transform parts of his body to those of various dinosaurs, although he was able to go full dino in the shows’ 2nd season.

Another thing that I liked was the show’s main setting, Superhero City. A metropolis in which nearly all of the Marvel super heroes and their respective Rogue’s Galleries resided. Actually, Dr. Doom and the Lethal Legion resided in neighboring Villainville, which was separated from Superhero City by a huge wall in the shows’ 1st episode, but Villainville was destroyed by Galactus while on a feeding frenzy in the 2 part season finale.

Superhero City. Come in and get rescued.

Superhero City. Come in and get rescued.

You had the Xavier Academy (the X-Men’s home base), the Baxter Building (home of the Fantastic Four), and also featured Stan Lee himself as the voice the Mayor. I love how Asgard and Bifrost bridge are just sitting there floating above the city in plain sight, although only Adgardians can cross the bridge without getting hassled by security.

Unfortunately, one character who was notable by his absence was Spider Man and his Rogue’s Gallery. Spidey was unable to appear on the show due to Sony having the broadcasting rights to the character, although he was able to appear in the Super Hero Squad Online game. Spider Man was rumored to make a guest appearance in season 2, but it never happened.

“I was still able to star in Ultimate Spider Man with it’s juvenile humor and ‘Family Guy’ style cutaways…lucky me.”

I also loved the Helicarrier on the show, which served as the Squad headquarters. I want to live in this shows’ version of the Helicarrier.

In the shows’ first season, the Squad was battling Dr. Doom (voiced by Charles Adler) over possession of the Infinity Sword, which was shattered in a scuffle and broken into multiple Infinity Fractals prior to the first episode. Doom wanted to find all of the fractals so he reform the sword and rule the world, and wacky hyjinks ensued!

Here’s the shows’ season 1 intro:

As an added treat, in each episode of season 1’s intro, Hulk would grab an Infinity Fractal which would transform him into a different version of himself each week, the transformations being completely random. They were:

  • Baby Hulk
  • Gray Hulk
  • Joe Fixit
  • Wolverine Hulk
  • Hulkbot
  • Saturday Night Fever Hulk
  • Simpsons Hulk
  • M.O.D.O.H. (Mobile Organism Designed Only for Hulking)
  • Bruce Banner (his only appearance in the series)

In the show’s 2nd (and last) season, the focus was on the Squad saving the universe from Thanos of Titan (voiced by Jim Cummings) in a race to retrieve the Infinity Gems (called Infinity Stones on the show, like in the live action movies, but unlike in the Capcom video game Marvel Super Heroes, the show got all of the Gems’ colors correct).

The Super Hero Squad Show didn’t last last long. Only 2 seasons. Any plans for a 3rd season flew out the window when Disney purchased Marvel in 2009. I wasn’t too upset about that, though. a 3rd season of SHS would have been nice, but in season 2, they saved the entire universe. Where do you go from there?

The Super Hero Squad Show may not have been loved by comic book purists, but I don’t mind it at all when super hero franchises show a sense of humor. In fact, I’d like to see DC animation attempt something along these lines. The serious action-y stuff is still out there for anyone who wants to see it, but as for me, I welcome the idea of comic book superheroes getting their ridiculous on!