track by track review: kirby’s dream band – the pink album


Back in 2016, I had a few drinks and decided to do a track-by-track review of one of the best albums ever, the 2013 insta-classic The Pink Album by Kirby’s Dream Band. Until now, it only existed on The Shizz, a forum dedicated to extremely influential video game cover band Minibosses. It must be preserved, though, so here’s all 1700 unedited words of it.

Whispy Woods

The opening to this song perfectly sums up the album, especially when the full band kicks in. The instruments are completely loaded, and when the guitars join it’s over. The album is absolutely over as soon as it starts. Call the match.

And then at the 1:00 mark it just gets disgusting, as far as first tracks are concerned. The understanding of what makes a Kirby song special is what really makes Kirby’s Dream Band special. If Kirby heard this opening track he would lose his mind.


This is the real stuff, though. The first few seconds of “Islands” are worth the price of the album alone. The way the guitars flow into the cascading keys and drums and transition to the more complex duet makes this a next-level VGM song.

Again, it’s the minute mark that makes this track an entirely different beast. It has a lot to do with how closely KDB conforms to the original flow of the tracks, but that’s part of their charm. The pick-up at 1:00 is beyond revolting. It’s the kind of song you’ll put on loop for that moment specifically, and then when it approaches the 90-second mark it turns every other cover into chop suey. 2:00? Forget about it, this album is done. By the time the last 30 seconds are rolling you might as well call it a day.

Mr Shine & Mr Bright

This has a tooty intro that leads into one of the best VGM grooves ever put down. The 12-second mark is a moment in time that doesn’t work without the seconds that preceded it. The same goes for the 24-second mark and the 41-second mark. It’s ghoulish, for real. Just some putrid wreckage that belongs in a time capsule.

The rest of the track is pretty remarkable, but the heights it ends up reaching around the 1:40 mark are so grandiose that it’s tough to fully appreciate them. The return to a more standard groove as we approach the 2-minute mark is similarly outrageous. The end of the song could be the end of a normal album.

Street Fighter II

I’m always kind of dubious going into this one. It comes off the high of some really incredible Kirby tracks, but it’s hard not to appreciate it by the time it really blasts off. The transition at 1:27 is sublime, and the momentum carries through until the last note, which screeches into the heavens like an unshackled harpy.

Go Kirby!

The brilliance of the album can truly be seen when going from the high end note of SFII to one of the most deviously nasty Kirby songs. “Go Kirby!” is a balls-blazing fast trip down a grass hill, rolling head over heels in a breakneck race to the finish. It has a dueling playfulness to its opening minute before it hits a pro-Kirby rally.

And then it gets seriously nasty. All bets are off at the 90-second mark. The final stretch of the race is loud, pulsing, and gross. The redemption at the end almost makes you think they won’t destroy you with the next track.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

But they do, of course. KDB’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2 cover is transcendent. You can’t talk about the first leg of the medley without mentioning the steady, climbing bass line. The keys are something else, but it’s the transition at 1:35 that really makes me want to jump in a river. What follows might be the most successful two minutes in VGM history. The final 30 seconds of drumming belongs in a museum.

King Dedede

I’ve already mentioned a few unstoppable song intros, but this is another one. This is the track that checks anyone who got too comfortable during Sonic 2. The change-up to and from the particularly upbeat Kirby then back to the more pressing, time-limit-stressing Dedede music is tremendous.

2:15 is probably the most memorable transition on the whole album. Don’t listen to this shit unless you have somewhere to be and you’re trying to get there fast.


This is a beautifully inserted interstitial. It works perfectly as a swaying, mid-album mood swing. The heat of the previous tracks dissipates as the classic Kirby tunes serve up a soothing salve. The song may be called “Kracko,” but it doesn’t make me as wacko as the preceding tracko. That was a sentence I really hated typing but I refuse to change it. Anyway, despite the light fare the arrangement still manages to be full and hit hard.

The chill break around the 2:00 minute mark will actually bring your blood pressure down remarkably. The ending of the track manages to be hopeful, aggressive, and dreamy at once.

Chrono Trigger

My three favorite Chrono Trigger covers are by Super Guitar Bros., Battlecake, and Kirby’s Dream Band. If there’s anything that pushes KDB’s into the #1 spot it’s:

i) the thick, gutting opening bass
ii) the desperate notes around :30
iii) the serene keys that follow
iv) the harp-ass shit around 1:17
iv) the heartbreaking piano and bass combo at 1:43

This is a song that was clearly made with the utmost respect and admiration for its source material. Once the full jam kicks in at 2:27 you’re ready to go on a time-bending adventure, and the acoustic guitar is nothing but MUAH. The guitar harmonics at 3:10 are simply extra-terrestrial.

Cave Story

This is a surprising song, but the jovial Cave Story opening works pretty well following the epic finale to Chrono Trigger. I love the Cave Story soundtrack but sometimes I hate how corny the interplay between the notes is in the opening. It’s remarkably faithful, but the album is better for it once it hits the 2:22 mark.

This section could just as easily fit into the Street Fighter II song. It has that chugging immediacy that makes you want to throw your opponent through a gargantuan steel temple bell. The rest of the track continues to raise the stakes, with keyboard flutters that reverberate around the room, and by the time it ends you kind of forgot how cloyingly it opened. The final minute sounds more like a high-stress Kirby theme.

Dream Land Days

Speaking of Kirby, the carnivalistic opening of “Dream Land Days” is a fitting rebuttal to the proud, victorious closing of the Cave Story track. Most of this track rings familiar bells. Playful back and forth that marries guitars and keys seamlessly with effortless bass tracks and absurdly precise drums. There are plenty of open calls for obnoxious fills but they smartly keep it simple, even as the carnival rockets into the stratosphere.

Final Fantasy IV

There aren’t many first notes more accurate in the world of VGM. If you dig Final Fantasy battle themes the FFIV track is a colossal wonder. Every instrument is on point, and the transition at 1:38 makes me want to jump into my TV and never come back. Do not walk around at night and listen to this song because you will get into at least a dozen hard-fought random battles. By the time you hit 2:37 you’ll be a husk of a human, the rest of the track a wavering blur.

Pokémon Red and Blue

Even if you’ve never played Pokémon you’ll know the first seconds are an undeniable call to battle. It’s exceedingly dangerous to place this song immediately after Final Fantasy IV. I can only chalk this up to irresponsibility on the band’s behalf, but the fact remains that you won’t find a better medley based on fucking Pokémon Red and Blue. Give me a break. I was 17 when I played through that game in a hotel in Utah and I don’t think I could do it again today.

Nevertheless, the intensity of facing off in the tall grass courses through my veins when listening to KDB’s cover. The pristine perfection of the rolling drums and keys that will, for no obstacle or abomination, stop their incandescent jamming.

The Search for Heart Stars

The opening notes of this return to Kirby could be the closing of anyone’s life. One could hardly ask for more than to be escorted by the soft, graceful wings of death as it glides along this rapturous melody. The search for heart stars might as well be the knowing closure of every conscious door. To listen to this track is to abandon everything you know, lest you out yourself as anything less than a heavenly creature.

It’s around the 1:50 mark that we enter what some may crudely dub the “next plane of existence.” The Hey Dude-esque flourishes at 2:51 do not go unnoticed. The rest of the song is a caribbean daydream until it rocks you awake.

Revenge of Meta Knight

If anyone knows how to build to a finale it’s KDB. With “Revenge of Meta Knight” they mimic the progression of a video game, echoing previous achievements in a more accomplished flurry of melodic exchanges and rebuttals. The aural marriage that results at 0:55 is at that point a foregone conclusion.

There are so many instrumental fights in this song it’s like an entire pay-per-view in and of itself. The winner, of course, is you, dear listener. You remain privy to the kind of behind-the-scenes showcase of bravado few get to witness in their lifetime. The double-bass-drum bullying near the end is nothing but a puffing of the chest before it all comes to a comical collapse.

Milky Way Wishes

If KDB is a gala showcase, the final track is the moment when all the bands present get back together on stage and jam all at once. It opens with the kind of slick showmanship that makes you either want to clap or barf, depending on what mood you’re in. Once the rest of the track gets rolling the entirety of the album coalesces into one swirling mass. It would have been much easier to simply not bother attempting to close off such a tightly-crafted album, but KDB makes it seem a simple task. “Milky Way Wishes” incorporates rhythms and themes we’ve heard since the first track, and it does so without seeming corny. It simply does so.

monster boy and the cursed kingdom and me

monster boy and the cursed kingdom

I’ve been on a real kick lately, and hoo boy, watch out when I go on a kick! The latest kick is, as usual, something familiar that’s come back to the forefront, and it has to do with my enduring love for Metroidvania—or, if you’re nasty like my dude metalheadmike, Rygarmania—games. After playing through the excellent Momodora recently, I finally got a chance to dig into Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom on Switch, and buddy, it slaps.

Clocking in at around 15 hours or so, Monster Boy serves up exactly what I want out of the genre. It has a pretty large map but there isn’t any wasted space. There’s just the right amount of fanfare whenever you pick up an important item. The sense of progression comes through clearly without the need for experience points or leveling up of any kind. The bosses tend to be pushovers for the most part, but their gimmicks are clever and the journey in between is fraught with legit platforming and enemy combat-related perils.

In other words, it’s the perfect side-scrolling stew. If the visuals are a full dessert platter, the fact that the soundtrack is excellent—featuring contributions from industry masters like Yuzo Koshiro, Motoi Sakuraba, Michiru Yamane, and many more—is very much the icing on the cake.

Just listen to this!

And this banger, which you’ll hear on loop a lot in The Lost Temples:

Throughout the adventure, you gradually acquire five forms on top of being a regular ol’ human—Pig, Snake, Frog, Lion, and Dragon—which is a mechanic the developers never forget to incorporate. This could have easily been a one-and-done device limited to the stages in which you acquire each form, but they all play a major role from beginning to end. I actually got a little overwhelmed thinking about how tough it is to pull off legitimately thoughtful level design while playing this. They all work together so perfectly that it’s clear the team spent a ton of time plotting out the progression of each individual stage.

Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is a must-play game I’d recommend to pretty much anyone who likes colorful visuals, top-notch level design, and the level of personal TV game accomplishment that can only be accessed when someone actually does the genre justice.

death by dairanger: 14 days of madness

Neighbors and local authorities are all no doubt wondering why an area man has been running around the streets in his underwear screaming “TENSHIN DAAAA!” for the past two weeks. Did he follow that battle cry out with a spirited “Whoaaa, whoa-whoa-whoa”? Yep. Will his brain ever be the same? Nope. To shed some light on these ramblings, I am that man, and I recently finished mainlining all 50 episodes of Gosei Sentai Dairanger.

What does that mean, you ask? I’m well aware of the awkward Venn Diagram representing people who read my blog and people who know what the hell Dairanger is. I’ll buck my old ways and play to a broader crowd here, because everyone needs an introduction into this deadly world at some point.


The easiest way to put it is right on the cover of the Super Sentai box sets Shout! Factory releases once every few months: “Before Power Rangers there was… Super Sentai!” Sentai shows are the Japanese tokusatsu (special effects) TV series that went on to be localized in the west as Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and all its various follow-ups. Saban basically just took all the costumed action sequences, monsters, and rad giant robot battles and wrapped it in a sunny Saved by the Bell-esque California Roll.

The results were cotton candy to my still-developing 12-year-old mind. Thus, it would stand to reason that snorting the original uncut lines are exactly what my still-developing 36-year-old mind needs just to wake up in the morning. Each episode is a spandex-clad coffee bean that makes me a little more human than human.


Dairanger is the 17th entry in Toei’s still-running Super Sentai franchise, airing in Japan from 1993 to 1994 before coming stateside as the continuation of Power Rangers‘ adaptation of the previous series, Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger. This one has a cool Chinese mystic vibe to it, with all the martial arts styles one might expect making an appearance; even drunken style! Their Dairangers’ mentor, Master Kaku (pictured below, right), is basically Splinter.


No one needs to know all this crap, though; it’s not like there’s gonna be a quiz, and if you see one you can bet it’s part of an insidious plot devised by Dairanger enemy du jour, the Gorma! Digging in too deep is dangerous, so let’s go for something different with:


That’s right! Everyone’s here and it’s the moment they’ve all been waiting for, so without further adieu, let’s start handing out the honors.

Best Characters
San Baka (AKA Three Stooges)


Known in Shout!’s subs as the Three Stooges, this team of ne’erdowells consists of, from left to right, President Gravestone, Telephone-sensei, and Boss Kamikaze. The latter is, as you might have guessed, the leader, and he’s a totally smooth delinquent. He ends most every sentence in a very enthusiastic (and English) “Baby!,” and he’s generally in charge of all the ridiculous plots to rid the world of the Dairangers.

These plots are also always games, and please believe anything goes. From exploding baseball games that would be right at home in a Yudai Yamaguchi flick to, uh, exploding soccer and exploding bike chases, the Stooges are a fabulous font of foolery from their first to final episodes.

Worst Recurring Story
Kujaku’s Quest for Peacock Heaven


Here’s the skinny as best as I can remember it off the top of my head: Kujaku shows up and quickly becomes the love interest of Daigo, AKA Shishi Ranger. There’s only one problem, her Peacock Buddha powers are running out thanks to the crummy, polluted atmosphere of Earth. Much like the Stooges above, Kujaku episodes are scattered throughout Dairanger‘s run, and they’re just tough to get into. Masako Morishita really ups the melodrama in the role, and her beleaguered shouts of “Daigo!” will be etched into your brain for weeks.

Best Dairanger
Shoji AKA Tenma Ranger


Would it surprise you to learn that the pompadour’d dude above is the Dairanger member who builds an intense rivalry with the Stooges? They troll him time and time again, and he always falls for it because he just knows one day Boss Kamikaze will present him with a fair challenge. Ei Hamura is the man in this role, and he sells every single one of his Bruce Lee nose swipes with aplomb.

Best Mythical Chi Beast
Won Tiger


Sure, its pilot may literally be a child, but none of the mechs in the series hold a candle to Mythical Chi Beast Won Tiger. Ryuuseioh comes close, but there’s somethin’ about that slick white paint job that wins me over. Just to give Ryuuseioh and the rest of the beasts some love, though, let’s take a moment to appreciate how they look combined with Won Tiger (cue the Spice Girls’ “2 Become 1”).


Creepiest Episode
Episode 34: “A Prickly Maiden Hunt”


And finally, we have everyone’s favorite category, Creepiest Episode. There’s always at least one! If the name didn’t make it clear, episode 34 wins by a wide margin. The monster of the week is General Cactus, who looks like the gas station attendant above in human form. Here’s what he does to this dude’s daughter as soon as he leaves his car:



And here he is as the somehow-less-threatening General Cactus:


General Cactus loves to kidnap little girls, paralyze them, and turn them into dolls. It’s a plot that would be at home in any prime time police procedural (tune into NBC next month for the debut episode of Chicago Cactus Childnapper!), but the real creep-out comes when we stumble upon some of freshly-animated yet oh-so-still dolls.





This is a moment best summed up with video.

Creepy. Yet… I love it! I think that’s about all the Dairanger energy I have at the moment, but if we get any late award-winners in the future, I’ll be sure to update. Once I have my powers back, it’s on to… Ninja Sentai Kakuranger!

this bartkira project trailer rules

Some of you may recall that I did some pages for the Bartkira project waaaaay back around the time it was first announced. If it seems like years ago, it’s because it was! My pages don’t come until volume 4, but volume 3 was released in its entirety today, and promotion is going hard in everybody’s yard. So hard, in fact, that they put together an animated trailer that perfectly recreates the Akira trailer with Simpsons characters.

First up, a quick explanation for those of you scratching your heads. Bartkira is a project put together by Ryan Humphrey and James Harvey, among others, that rallied hundreds of artists from around the globe together to recreate Katsuhiro Otomo’s classic Akira manga with characters from The Simpsons.

If you haven’t seen them, here are the pages I did from volume 4.