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September 07, 2000 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-09-07

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14A -The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 7, 2000
Director Fiore goes
'Backstage' with
Hard Knock thugs

ARTS
New 'Romancer' a*
mech of a good
time for Dreamcast

The Associated Press
Here's a tip you won't find in a trav-
el guide: If you're staying in a hotel
and a busload of gangsta rappers
checks in, check out. Fast.
That's one lesson of "Backstage." a
documentary of the 1999 Hard Knock
Life Tour, which follows a handful of
MCs as they rampage across the coun-
try groping groupies, pulling pranks
and enthralling fans in 54 sold-out
shows. Life for these stars -- Jay-Z,
DMX and Method Man, among others
- is grueling at times, but "hard
knock" seems an overstatement. Most-
ly, these guys carry on like spoiled
children, complaining, roughhousing
and badgering women to strip naked.
In other words, they cavort like
every pop star since Elvis. It's a fre-
quently vile display, with the vileness
culminating in Method Man's list of
stupid party tricks, which includes
fooling friends into eating potato chips
he's slathered with ear wax. (We'll
skip his ice cube gambit, but never ask
that guy to freshen your drink, OK?) If
Joe Lieberman, hip-hop's highest-pro-
ile critic, ever catches an eyeful of
"Backstage," the genre is toast. The
movie confirms nearly all his worst

rap extravaganzas, and it was widely
watched by promoters skeptical that
hip-hop could leap into the big leagues
of the concert industry. But the inci-
dent-free tour grossed S18 million,
inspiring moguls to underwrite other
tours.
"Backstage" was produced by exec-
utives at Roc-A-Fella and Def Jam, the
labels that release the albums of every
star on the tour. So the film often has
the feel of a sanctioned biography,
with mostly flattering testimonials by
assorted hangers-on about each star.
But there's so much grotty exhibition-
ism and crotch-grabbing low-jinks that
the filmmakers either had a largely
free hand or didn't care just how repul-
sive these characters sometimes seem.
The groupies, who need little coax-
ing to shed their clothes, fare no better.
Director Chris Fiore tastefully blanks
out their faces, at least the ones bold
enough to strip in front of his camera,
including the unabashed young lady
who gratifies one rapper in the men's
latrine. The gal-bashing peaks when
Fiore appends witticisms over the
blank spaces that pixelate these ladies'
faces. One says: "Place ad here."
Raymond "DJ Twinz Z" Grant talks
about a double standard, fuming that at
rock shows fans "break their arms,
break their lips ... At a hip-hop show, if
that was to happen, they'd shut it
down." By the tour's end, there's a we-
proved-them-wrong feel to the festivi-

Jay-Z is one of the thyme-stylln' artists profiled in the hip-hop documentary, "Backstag

People in robots smacking each other
around have a long and proud history in
Japanese popular culture. Between its
prehistory in the form of remote con-
trolled robots and the evolutionary off-
shoot of sentient androids like Astroboy
is the "mech." Like really complicated
planes or cars that are very much exten-
sions of the pilots inside, mechs are the
suits of armor of their predicted futures.
Tech Romancer is an homage to this
history in the form of a modern fighter-
style video
game. The disc
is full of recog-
Tech nizable designs
Romancer made to resem-
Grade: A ble famous
mechs. Shows
For Dreamcast such as Gun-
dam, Mazinger
Reviewed by Z and Evange-
taily Arts Writer lion are honored
in this way; also
getting the com-
pliment of imitation is a character from
Sega's own Virtual On series of games.
This diversity doesn't merely appeal
to anime fans, however. The differences
in the various robots provide a variety
of attack forms. The Wiseduck, for
instance, cannot jump, but has strong
armor and lots of guns. It needs them of
course since it has trouble avoiding
attacks from the other, faster fighters.
This is a stellar effort for Capcom in
the realm of traditional three dimen-
sional fighters. The controls of the
game are smooth and easy to use for a
welcome change. There is an ability to
roam free, but it does not necessarily
need to be used as more than a dodging
or item.pick up technique. Not to mini-
mize the necessity of the items that can

be used in the game; if you do not use
the huge bombs, hand held but multiple
hitting weapons or the defensive/offen-
sive bolstering power ups, then the
game will become increasingly impos-
sible. They can help you overcome
your, uh, inadequacies. At the same
time, the best of the 2D flavor Capcom
is famous for seasons game play, with-
out being required. It's a more stabl
environment than in Powerstoni
(although there the chaos of the envi-
ronments lends its own charm).
Tech Romancer lacks the intricate
character design of recent 3D fighters,
but any more polygons or textures
would detract from the game. While the
robots have a pleasant level of com-
plexity to their design, additional form
would make them muddy and confus-
ing in appearance. They're hulkin*
body tanks, after all, and some simplici-
ty is very good.
For really simple animation you
need to go to the minigames
playable on the Dreamcast VMU.
Love and Punches, where you need
to kiss the boy and punch the girls,
let's you earn cash to buy extra
characters in the main game. Bluish
black on a greenish background;
that's simple. And oddly addictive,
too.
Add to this the clean cel animation
designs used in cut scenes and as
introductions and you have one of the
best under-hyped fighter packages to
hit the market. Sure, it doesn't have
the franchise smell of a Marvel or
Street Fighter based game, but what it
does have is fine gameplay and well
applied visuals. So what if you've
never heard of it before; you've heard
of it now, so get on it already.

*DULNDS
OF THE
STADIUM
THURSDAY, SEPT. 14 AT 8 P.M.
FRIDAY. SEPT. 15 AT 8:30 P.M.
SATURDAY. SEPT. 18 AT 8:30 P.M.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 17 AT 3 P.M.
Erich Kunzel, conductor
A salute to Michigan's sporting traditions
including Casey at the Bat, PR.Q. Bach's
hilarious play-by-play spoof of Beethoven's
Fifth and a medley of college fight songs.

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