Video Game Music of the Week – 28.05-03.06.2012

This week’s video game theme is Still Alive from Mirror’s Edge – easily one of, if not my favourite game song with vocals. On top of the nice song, you’re also getting a very neat gameplay video. 🙂 If you haven’t played Mirror’s Edge, you should give it a try. It’s relatively short and very cheap – not much of an investment from your side. The concept is awesome, one of the best new ideas introduced in games in the recent years.

Composers: Arnthor Birgisson, Rami Yacoub
Singer: Lisa Miskovsky
Game: Mirror’s Edge
Song: Still Alive

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Big Wii U rumours by Ubisoft developer

Recently, pretty big rumours have surfaced regarding Nintendo’s upcoming Wii U console from a Ubisoft developer in Italy. Surely, we’ll get a lot of actually factual information in just a couple of weeks at E3, but why not speculate today, too?

Wii U Tablet Controller

Here’s a list of the important stuff:

  • Launch date – November 23rd
  • Launch price – between $350 and $450
  • Radeon HD 6770 GPU
  • DirectX 11 support
  • Can run Unreal Engine 4
  • 2GB RAM, 560 MB reserved for OS
  • Support for 2 touch-screen controllers
  • Trigger buttons won’t be analogue
  • “New button” has a link to the Wii Vitality Sensor
  • Multiple versions of the console given to developers – perhaps hardware is not completely finalised yet
  • There will be achievements
  • UI will be customisable
  • Launch titles from Ubisoft: Rayman Legends, The Avengers, Assassin’s Creed 3, Just Dance 4; Killer Freaks from Outer Space to arrive weeks after launch
  • Assassin’s Creed 3 to run at 60 fps at 1080p, compared to 720p on PS3/Xbox 360
  • Crytek, EA and Valve are working on Wii U
  • Valve working on a digital distribution platform and Portal ports

Source: http://www.nowgamer.com/news/1388344/wii_u_price_release_date_details_leaked_by_ubisoft_dev_rumour.html

Most of this is very interesting. I highly doubt Nintendo will go for anything above $350 for the price. With the word out already that Wii U will not be THAT much of an improvement over the other two, a $400 price tag would be a certain recipe for a slow start, unless they manage to convince everyone that Wii U is truly full-fledged next-gen at E3.

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Portal 2

The first Portal was one of the finest achievements of gaming in the last 5 years. Introducing the noble concept of portals and being a puzzle game that takes place in first-person perspective, it took the gaming world by storm. The humour was also top-notch, the story told in a unique way. Its relatively short length was a small problem compared to everything it gave to the player. It was universally loved.

It was clear that Valve couldn’t just let such a successful game remain without a sequel. The obvious (financial) reason aside, there was just so much potential and so much more to be done with the concept. There was much more to be explored in Aperture Science’s laboratories. And, four years later, Valve delivered. Portal 2. We were positive it would be a blast again.

Portal 2 Boxart

Game: Portal 2
Developer: Valve
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release: 2011
Territories: All

Portal 2 manages to successfully reuse everything that made the original great and add more. The feeling of nobility may not be there anymore, the puzzles may feel easier because “we think in portals” now, but the entertainment, the feeling of satisfaction as you solve a puzzle and move onto the next one, is well worth it. The new puzzle elements – the bridges, funnels and gels, help the game maintain the feeling of freshness and not feel too much like “more of the same.”

Once again, like in the Wonder Boy review, the in-game screenshots are my own. 🙂

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Video Game Music of the Week – 21-27.05.2012

This week’s game music was suggested by my buddy Renna from Netrunner2k2. It’s Nathan “Rad” Spencer’s theme from Marvel vs. Capcom 3, a pretty cool remix of the Bionic Commando main theme, which was first used in the original Bionic Commando arcade game from 1987.

Composers: Harumi Fujita (original); Hideyuki Fukasawa (MvC3 version arrangement)
Game: Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Song: Theme of Spencer

Got any game music suggestions of your own? Leave a comment with it or contact me in any of the available ways, and I will consider it for the following weeks! 🙂

Interesting revelations regarding Final Fantasy VII’s development

Final Fantasy VII Cloud Midgar

Some very interesting facts regarding Final Fantasy VII’s development process came up recently in the Japanese Weekly Famitsu magazine, as part of Final Fantasy VII’s 15th anniversary feature. Here’s the gist (beware of spoilers):

  • There was a discussion about whether to use sprites or polygons for the character models. Sprites was the more popular option, but polygons were eventually chosen so that character movement could be expressed better.
  • SD (Super Deformed) style for character models outside of battle were chosen by Hironobu Sakaguchi, who thought they were necessary to show character’s expressions better
  • Sakaguchi put effort into the battle system and came up with the Materia system
  • Tetsuya Nomura, aside from working on the characters’ designs, also contributed to gameplay, he was the one who came up with the Limit system
  • Zack was added near the end of the development, after the other main characters had been fleshed out
  • Nomura suggested that either Tifa or Aerith die
  • Aerith was to be the sole heroine, Tifa was added later
  • Cloud’s hair was originally slicked back to reduce polygon usage
  • Originally, Sephiroth and Aerith were to be brother and sister
  • Afterwards, Sephiroth was to be Aerith’s first love (eventually, that idea led to the creation of Zack)

Source: http://andriasang.com/con11g/ffvii15/

These are all quite interesting. The sprites vs. polygons argument is visible in what Xenogears, the other big Square game developed  in the same period, eventually became – visually, the opposite of FFVII – with sprites for the characters and 3D polygonal environments, as opposed to the polygonal characters in pre-rendered 2D environments seen in FFVII. Square obviously wanted to try the different styles and see which came out better. I’d say both were quite impressive in their own way.

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Video Game Music of the Week – 14-20.05.2012

In line with my most recent review, the second video game music of the week is from an 8-bit classic. It’s the title screen theme from the excellent team fighting game Nekketsu Kakutou Densetsu, one of the amazing Nekketsu/Kunio games from Technos – my favourite series on the NES and still among my favourites even today. 8-bit music can be very impressive with how much composers have achieved with the extremely limited sound chip capacity available.

Composer: Kazuo Sawa
Game: Nekketsu Kakutou Densetsu
Song: Title Screen

Wonder Boy

As someone born in the 80s and having grown up with this kind of games, I love retro games. I owned an Atari 2600 Jr., later a bootleg NES, then a SEGA Mega Drive II. Additionally, I spent a lot of my time and pocket money at the arcades… These early experiences contributed greatly to shaping me up as the gamer I am today.

As I enjoy playing classics I’d never had the chance to back in the day, some of my reviews here will be of such games. Back in the day, games were simpler, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Such were the times. In result, these reviews may also be on the short side, but that’s cool as long as the message gets across. And, if anyone decides to give such an older title a shot after reading a review of mine, then I will be happy.

The first title getting this treatment is a game I had only seen in the arcades when I was little. It’s SEGA’s original Wonder Boy, the first installment in a very fascinating series (whose never-released-outside-Japan-before entry Monster World IV is coming soon on PSN and Wii’s Virtual Console) that was a cult favourite at the arcades and on consoles alike. I am reviewing the SEGA Master System port of the original arcade game, which is actually quite faithful to it (unlike many other console ports of arcade games of the period).

This is also the first review where I am providing my own in-game screenshots. 🙂

Wonder Boy

Game: Wonder Boy
Developer: Westone
Platforms: Arcade; SG-1000, SEGA Master System, Game Gear, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC; Mobile; Wii Virtual Console
Releases: 1986 (arcade, SG-1000); 1987 (other 8-bit systems); 2004 (mobile); 2008 (Wii VC)
Territories: All

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Video Game Music of the Week – 07-13.05.2012

For those like me working a desk job, and certainly for many others, music is a great part of our daily lives, making working, commuting or driving much more enjoyable. And video game fans love game music. I am no exception, as probably half of my Winamp collection consists of game tunes. They give me fuel to make it through the difficulties of everyday life. 🙂

I am starting a simple weekly series on this site – “Video Game Music of the Week.” Every week, I’ll post a video game theme which I really like and which is available on YouTube. I will try to maintain a certain level of diversity, which should not be too hard, considering how much good game music there is out there.

Game music covers many genres, with the most famous composers’ popularity overshadowing that of many game designers. And some game music pieces have achieved decent fame, but it’s usually been attached to the game they appeared in – a good song in a popular game would be far better known than an amazing song in a niche game. Most gamers know the Mario theme or “One-Winged Angel,” but not that many know “Heat Wave” from Bionic Commando. But that is hardly something to fret about – aren’t songs usually carried by the artists, too? It’s up to us to find good video game music even in not-so-well-known games.

This weekly feature’s goal is not to necessarily outline great music from less popular games while excluding the popular ones, but many of the entries will certainly be from games most gamers have not played. So please check back every week – you never know when a great theme could even prompt you to find and play its game! 🙂

Here is the first Video Game Music of the Week for 07-13.05.2012. It’s a theme by Yuki Kajiura, who is better known for her anime work (such as Noir, .hack//SIGN, Madlax, etc.), but she also did a truly magnificent job with the Xenosaga III OST, adding so much to an already incredible game. I hope you enjoy it!

Composer: Yuki Kajiura
Game: Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra
Song: Acute Neurosis Treatment Facility – Under Attack

Top 50 Games Every Gamer Should Know About (Part 2)

And, without further ado, here is the second part of the list. I hope you enjoy it at least as much as the first!

Top 50 games every gamer should know about

See the list