Video Game Music of the Week – 30.07-05.08.2012

This week continues the SEGA theme, even if we’re leaving the 16-bit nostalgia behind for now. With Phantasy Star Online 2 having already come out in Japan and being mere months away from being playable in English, I cannot help recalling one of the things that made the original Phantasy Star Online so amazing – its soundtrack. It’s one of my favourite game soundtracks, and the song I’ve chosen from it is actually from Episode IV, exclusive for the PC version Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst. It’s called “Nostalgia in Solitude: Part 1”.

Composer:  Hideaki Kobayashi
Game: Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst
Song:  Nostalgia in Solitude: Part 1

Video Game Music of the Week – 23-29.07.2012

This week’s theme comes from another Mega Drive/Genesis classic – Ristar. Nowadays, this eccentric platformer by Sonic Team is available on PS3/360 as part of the SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection, and even on Steam. It’s well worth checking out – on top of the nice music, the game is just a lot of fun to play. The song from it that I’ve chosen for this week is called “Break Silence.”

Composers:  Tomoko Sasaki, Naofumi Hataya, Masafumi Ogata
Game: Ristar
Song:  Break Silence

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

When it comes to gaming, I’m usually behind the times a bit (as you may have already noticed). My backlog is just quite massive and there are few contemporary games that interest me as much as older gems I haven’t played yet. Nevertheless, I recently decided to finally play through Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series – the biggest franchise born on my favourite current-generation console, the PlayStation 3. I went in expecting a fun adventure game with a simple, movie-like story and entertaining gameplay. Something like Tomb Raider (a franchise where I’m actually yet to beat a single game, but that’s another story). The first game largely met my expectations.

Uncharted Cover

Game: Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
Developer: Naughty Dog
Platform: PlayStation 3
Original release: 2007
Territories: All

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was one of the early PS3 games, and a huge reason to get one already back then, at the startling launch or near-launch price. I can see why it made the purchase worth it for many people. The game is very cinematic and the graphics are really beautiful, which is particularly impressive, considering it came out so early in the console’s life cycle. Even though they are obviously surpassed by the latter two entries in the franchise, I am sure many people were captivated by them in 2007. Add to that the nice beginning, showing the protagonist Nathan Drake on a boat with the pretty Elena, and the action starting immediately, in the middle of a short conversation between them, and you’ll be able to see why Uncharted was a huge system seller.

The game’s premise is intriguing enough – you are (or at least claim to be) a descendant of Sir Francis Drake, and, after finding an important clue left by your ancestor himself, you set off in search for El Dorado, the legendary City of Gold. It’s really a lot like an adventure movie – those influences are easy to see and are spoken of by the developers themselves in the “Behind the Scenes” videos included on the disc (Tomb Raider is never mentioned, of course :)). The story never pretends to offer any more or less than uncovering the mystery of El Dorado. The gameplay follows suit – it doesn’t try anything complex (mostly 3D platforming and third-person shooting), but does quite well at what it strives to do. An interesting thing to note is that there are no boss fights. Overall, the game is entertaining, it’s standard length for the genre (12-15 hours), and it offers nice challenge without ever becoming too frustrating.

Read full review

Video Game Music of the Week – 16-22.07.2012

Sorry for the short delay in posting this week’s game music of choice, I was on a short vacation. 🙂 But the vacation also gave me the inspiration for the song picked for this week (conveniently, it’s still in the 16-bit/Mega Drive theme started last week). ToeJam & Earl is my friend Ranulf’s favourite game of all time, and he got the chance to revisit it during our time together in the last few days. This game’s got some really funky beats, and I’ll share probably the most popular one of them with you, it’s called “ToeJam Jammin'”.

Composer: John Baker
Game: ToeJam & Earl
Song: ToeJam Jammin’

OUYA – a new, open, Android-powered console is coming

OUYA Controller

A most interesting news appeared today on Twitter, and it’s already shaking the video game world. A new, cheap console named OUYA is being planned. It will be powered by Android, it will cost just $99 and it will be open for hackers to do as they please. Being an Android platform, it will support everything Android devices support today (gaming, web browsing, video streaming, photos, etc.). It will, of course, have a controller, so gaming will not be limited to the mostly touch screen-reliant Android games of today. Developers will have a lot of freedom.

Here are the specifications:

  • Tegra3 quad-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB of internal flash storage
  • HDMI connection to the TV, with support for up to 1080p HD
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth LE 4.0
  • USB 2.0 (one)
  • Wireless controller with standard controls (two analog sticks, d-pad, eight action buttons, a system button), a touchpad
  • Android 4.0

Source: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ouya/ouya-a-new-kind-of-video-game-console

The Kickstarter funding has already reached 25% of the $950,000 goal within a couple of hours… We can safely say the project will be funded.

Provided it is implemented, can OUYA shake the very foundations of the console industry? Could Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft suddenly face a dangerous competitor? It seems unlikely, but I am certainly excited about the possibilities. The latest trends in gaming clearly indicate that an “open” model is the way to go.

Phantasy Star Online 2 gets a Western release in 2013

Phantasy Star Online 2 Start Screen

SEGA have announced that the release of the highly anticipated Phantasy Star Online 2 in Europe and North America will happen in 2013.

The game is already out in Japan and is accessible to everyone, including people living in the rest of the world, but those of us who do not want to bother with translation guides will have to wait a while for the English release Nevertheless, I am happy that the game was confirmed for the West at all, as there were some rumours floating around that it would remain Japanese-only.

As discussed earlier on “Between Life and Games”, unlike Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst, the second installment of the PSO series will be free-to-play!

Some of the Phantasy Star Online 2 features:

  • Deep sci-fi fantasy universe filled with lush landscapes, extraordinary creatures, and epic adventures
  • Revolutionary real-time combat and third-person action with devastating combos and counters to master
  • Flexible, class-based leveling system that lets players define their own play-style with distinctive melee, ranged, and magic weapon types
  • Randomized maps and unexpected mid-quest encounters that ensure each quest is different for each player
  • Deep character creation system with a nearly limitless number of potential appearances
  • Three degrees of humanity to experience across three unique races: the versatile Humans, spiritually-powered Newmen, and artificial CAST

Source: http://www.sega.com/news/?n=5722

I am happy with this news and cannot wait to recreate my FOnewearl and start her new adventure in PSO2!

Video Game Music of the Week – 09-15.07.2012

I’m in a 16-bit mood this week, and I don’t mean just any old 16-bit, I mean SEGA Mega Drive 16-bit. The Danish composer Jesper Kyd (who later worked on the Hitman and Assassin’s Creed games) made some amazing music for the system that does what Nintendon’t, and my favourite work of his is the soundtrack of The Adventures of Batman and Robin – a pretty awesome action shooter. The song I’ve chosen for this week is the Mad Hatter boss theme.

Composer: Jesper Kyd
Game: The Adventures of Batman & Robin (SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis)
Song: Mad Hatter Boss Theme

Journey

The moment Journey came out, it was an instant success, with fans and critics alike singing praises for thatgamecompany’s new creation. Like with their previous hit, Flower, the main qualities pointed out in reviews were the unique art style, the sheer beauty of the scenery, and the minimalistic storytelling. Despite the short length (reviews mentioned 2 hours), people around the world loved it, fans drew pretty art based on the game’s world and characters, and word of mouth contributed greatly to its success. And now, it’s my turn to share my thoughts of one of the 2012 gaming phenomenons with you.

Journey Cover

Game: Journey
Developer: thatgamecompany
Platform: PlayStation Network
Original release: 2012
Territories: All

I got my hands on this game thanks to my girlfriend’s sister who gave her a PSN voucher as a birthday present, with the explicit instruction to buy Journey. The $15 price the game launched, and is still sitting at, didn’t seem justified to me, considering its length. I was going to wait for it to drop to at least $10, but, thanks to the aforementioned circumstances, I was apparently going to play it in the year it actually released. 🙂

In the beginning, I thought that people had praised this game for a good reason. The visuals, while not going into much detail, were really beautiful, much like in Flower. I spent a minute or two to admire the scenery before even starting the game. And this stayed consistent throughout the game – every new environment was as pretty as the previous. The atmospheric music and sound effects also impressed me… And the protagonist, with his strange clothes, long scarf, and Final Fantasy black mage-like face, seemed mysterious and cool. But we gamers know that all these things complement a game, they are the side-dish to the meat…

Read full review

Video Game Music of the Week – 02-08.07.2012

By popular demand, here is another Metal Gear song, this time from Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – the amazing conclusion to the best saga in gaming, the Metal Gear saga. The song I’ve chosen is composed by Harry Gregson-Williams and is named as the game’s subtitle – “Guns of the Patriots”. And part of this theme is surely quite familiar to everyone who has as much as put the disc inside their PS3. 🙂

Composer: Harry Gregson-Williams
Game: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Song: Guns of the Patriots

Next week’s song will not be from Metal Gear, that’s a promise. 🙂