Video Game Music of the Week – 27.08-02.09.2012

In line with my recent adventure game review, this week’s theme comes from Hideo Kojima’s thrilling adventure Snatcher – my favourite adventure game to date. As usual with Kojima games, it’s all about the plot – the man shows his talent yet again, even though it’s in a more futuristic setting than Metal Gear. The song plays whenever Gillian, the main character, finds out something important during his investigation. Since Snatcher was released on many systems, with slightly (sometimes massively) different-sounding soundtrack on each, I have picked my favourite one – the SEGA CD/Mega CD version, which is conveniently also the one version with an official English release of the game.

Composers: Akira Yamaoka, Keizo Nakamura, Masanori Adachi, Kazuhito Imai, Masanori Ouchi
Game: Snatcher (SEGA CD/Mega CD)
Song:  Pleasure of Tension

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Cherry Tree High Comedy Club

Recently, I got the opportunity to review a game for a bigger game site for the first time since I started “Between Life and Games”. The site is Unikgamer, an awesome gamer collaboration site where people rank their favourite games in many categories, and a total ranking is formed and regularly updated. The game is Cherry Tree High Comedy Club – a quirky Japanese indie adventure game, apparently created by the small team 773, consisting of just one full-time member and several contributors. Now, you know me, one of my principles about “Between Life and Games” has always been that the site would be built around my gaming activities, not vice versa (at least until I go professional, hehe :)). So I’d just play the games I want to play, and then write about them. And CTHCC does not contradict that – just looking at the screenshots and short YouTube video available, combined with its apparently modest length, already convinced me that it would be a blast to play it right away and then review it.

CTHCC Title

Game: Cherry Tree High Comedy Club
Developer: 773
Platform: PC
Original release: 2012
Territories: All

As a script-heavy game that is just so Japanese at its core, the localisation effort was what would make or break Cherry Tree High Comedy Club for Western players. Nyu Media and Tezuka Productions, famous for their fabulous work localising the Phoenix Wright games, have done a very good job in that regard, preserving jokes from the original script that would be recognised by non-Japanese, and replacing the ones that were just “too Japanese” with references to material we would be familiar with, like Star Wars. Dialogue is really a major part of CTHCC, and whether you enjoy the jokes and the tone will greatly determine if you’ll enjoy the game as a whole. Despite being (even) more light-hearted, the game does remind of Phoenix Wright’s overall feel, which can only be a plus.

The gameplay is quite simple – you’re the energetic senior student Miley Verisse, and your goal is to recruit at least three people for your club by the end of April (the game starts on March 22nd). To do so, you must first identify your targets and then befriend them enough so that they agree to join the comedy club. For that, you’ll need to gain expertise in subjects they enjoy, like Video Games, Sports, Politics, Fashion, History, Pets, etc. It’s all about stat-building, gaining money to increase your stats, and of course putting those stats to good use by talking to the people. All that in a rather limited time frame. It makes for a rather frantic adventure, spiced up nicely with the story and likable cast of characters, each of them with their own ambitions and problems to take care of, and Miley willing to help them. Last, but not least, there are multiple endings, depending on how well you do!

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Video Game Music of the Week – 20-26.08.2012

This time, I’ve decided to post a song from a much more popular PS2 game – Fumito Ueda’s Shadow of the Colossus. You can also consider it a little way to celebrate the fact that The Last Guardian is actually not cancelled and that it’s still coming to PS3 sooner or later… A lot has been said about Shadow of the Colossus and I won’t make a long speech here, I won’t surprise anybody when I say that I really enjoyed the game and I wish there were more in its spirit. I do enjoy its predecessor, Ico, even more, but the same cannot be said about their respective soundtracks – Ko Otani’s work on the Shadow of the Colossus one is just incredible. These two gems are also available as a remastered-for-HD collection for the PS3, so do give them a shot if you haven’t played them yet.

Composer: Ko Otani
Game: Shadow of the Colossus
Song:  The Farthest Land

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

After beating the first Uncharted, I immediately jumped on the second one. It’s the one widely considered the best in the series, with the highest scores from both fans and critics and all, so my expectations were higher than the ones I had from the first game. Suffice to say, Uncharted 2 delivered. It improves on the first game in many ways, the most obvious one being graphics, while keeping the tight adventure gameplay which, if a bit linear, keeps you on your toes pretty much constantly. Drake’s second adventure is a memorable experience, adding some much appreciated polish to what we saw in the first game.

Uncharted 2 Cover

Game: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Developer: Naughty Dog
Platform: PlayStation 3
Original release: 2009
Territories: All

Uncharted 2 is a marvellous game, and this is a case where this adjective is used in its full meaning, rather than just thrown in for good measure and in attempt to appear more literary. The PS3’s graphical capabilities are pushed to their limits (even though I’m yet to play Uncharted 3, so who knows…), Naughty Dog proving themselves to be masters in this department once again. There are some clear improvements over the first game, such as an increased amount of different environments and the introduction of stealth attacking. Of course, there are also some things from the first game that are not present in the second, such as aiming grenades or balancing with the Sixaxis, and the brutal combo, which was “replaced” by the dubious counterattacking. There are also no jet ski stages, quite likely a case of fans’ complaints getting through. 🙂 But these are just details – at the end, the overall package is very satisfying.

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The new Final Fantasy VII PC version is out!

Square Enix have finally put the new Final Fantasy VII PC version up for sale. Sadly, the rumour that it would be up on Steam didn’t hold true. What we do know is that this new version has improved graphics and music compared to the original PC release, though, naturally, it’s far from the full-blown modern-technology remake fans want so much. For a limited time, the game costs just 10 Euros to download, so I highly recommend it to anyone that has not played this masterpiece yet!

Final Fantasy VII Cloud

Official website: http://finalfantasyviipc.com/

Video Game Music of the Week – 13-19.08.2012

After 2 weeks of music from an actual online RPG like Phantasy Star Online, this week I’ve chosen a lovely theme from an offline game series called .hack, where the action takes place in an online game named The World. Does it sound complicated? No? Fascinating? I hope so. The games are part of Bandai’s large .hack project involving manga, books, anime, games, toys… The concept interested me greatly and caused me to seek out the anime series .hack//SIGN. After I loved the anime, it was only a matter of time before I got my hands on the games. I liked them quite a bit, too, even if the gameplay was a bit repetitive, and, let’s be honest here, it was one big game split into 4 little parts so that Bandai could make some more money. But even so, I can’t find it in my heart to blame them – I just enjoyed it so much. I’ve heard the .hack//G.U. games were even better, but those didn’t come out in Europe, so it’ll be a while until I get to them. Anyway, the track I’ve chosen is “Wasteland Field ~ Battle”.

Composers: Chikayo Fukuda, Seizo Nakata, Norikatsu Fukuda
Games: .hack//Infection Part 1, .hack//Mutation Part 2, .hack//Outbreak Part 3, .hack//Quarantine Part 4
Song:  Wasteland Field ~ Battle

Video Game Music of the Week – 06-12.08.2012

Still in a PSO mood, this week I’ve decided to share PSO2’s take on “A Whole New World” with you. PSO fans will instantly recognise it. It’s enjoyable and shows promise for the PSO2 soundtrack as a whole. Of course, I do not hope for a soundtrack as amazing as Phantasy Star Online’s, that would be too much to ask. But I’ll be happy enough if PSO2’s comes close to its quality. Yes, the game is already out in Japan and I could listen to the music even now, but I prefer to wait until I get to play it myself in 2013. 🙂

Composer:  Hideaki Kobayashi
Game: Phantasy Star Online 2
Song:  A Whole New World – PSO2 Arrangement

Captain Tsubasa: New Kick Off

I’ve been a Captain Tsubasa fan ever since I first came across the anime on the Italia 1 channel when I was 10… It’s a manga and anime series about young Japanese football/soccer players, with the main character Tsubasa being a rising Japanese football star. I’m a big fan of the sport, and I like anime quite a bit – you can see why the combination captivated me easily. A great part of it is the matches themselves, with so much drama in the close ones, with special shots and acrobatic goalkeepers. But the relationships between the players on and off the pitch are also nicely depicted.

Needless to say, coming across my first Captain Tsubasa game – the second installment of Tecmo’s Captain Tsubasa series on the NES, brought me much delight. Especially considering it was not a mere football simulation game – it was a football RPG, one worthy of the flashiness and the emphasised importance of a team’s best player in the anime. The closest mainstream gaming has come to Tecmo’s Captain Tsubasa series’ unique style is the Blitzball mini-game in Final Fantasy X – and believe me, Blitzball is a really watered-down version of the Captain Tsubasa games. Anyway, Captain Tsubasa II is still my favourite game of all time, one I could play at any time and never get bored, despite having beaten it so many times I’ve lost count and having done all kinds of special runs. Unfortunately, the game I will review here is just not in the same league…

Captain Tsubasa New Kick Off Cover

Game: Captain Tsubasa: New Kick Off
Developer: Konami
Platform: DS
Original release: 2010
Territories: Japan, Europe

Captain Tsubasa: New Kick Off (Gekitou no Kiseki in Japan) is Konami’s first attempt at returning the Tsubasa games to the genre that proved to suit them best – RPG. The license over the franchise has changed hands multiple times – first it was Tecmo’s, then Bandai’s, now Konami’s. Only Tecmo did it right, the other two simply failed to match the quality of the Tecmo Tsubasa games. A big reason for that was that Tecmo’s games were RPGs with very particular gameplay – you hold the ball and move through the field, at any time you can stop and take your time to choose what to do next – shoot, pass, or go on forward. Similarly, in defence, you pick a player to chase the opponent with, if you get close, you choose whether to tackle, try to intercept a pass or block a shot. If you manage to predict the opponent’s action, you have a higher chance of taking the ball away. That just worked great for a franchise like Tsubasa because it’s all about the tactics, the special shots and conserving your energy to do them at the right time. Trying more action-y games just never worked out very well. And the RPG approach is the one Konami took here. When I learned that to be the case, I was overjoyed, I had waited a long time to play a new Tsubasa RPG…

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