Video Game Music of the Week – 10-16.12.2012

In the good old days, the good old arcade cabinets ate quite a few of my coins… And, naturally, the beat ’em up genre was flourishing. I’ve already mentioned my love for The Punisher back then, but the true classic of the genre I first got the chance to experience was Technos’ Double Dragon. The first stage theme is one of the many memorable things about this rather clunky, but highly entertaining and extremely important game. And here it is, Arrival of the Black Warriors. The arranged version is also worth checking out, easy to find that one on YouTube.

Composer: Kazunaka Yamane
Game: Double Dragon
Song:  The City Slums (Arrival of the Black Warriors)

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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – an action game, but with great potential

I’ve been skeptical about Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ever since it was first announced. It was clear that it would be a departure from the Metal Gear (Solid) formula, that it would be an action game about Ninja Raiden cutting people up in Ninja Gaiden style, rather than a Metal Gear game that focuses on stealth. They even changed the name itself from Metal Gear Solid: Rising to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – the Solid part disappeared altogether because Kojima wanted to deliver a message to fans – this is NOT a Metal Gear Solid game in anything but the setting and some characters.

After the project was handed over to PlatinumGames, the studio that’s now home to Shinji Mikami, Resident Evil creator, and Hideki Kamiya, director of Devil May Cry and Okami, as well as others from the former Capcom Clover staff, a studio that has already made a name for itself in the action genre (they’re the makers of well-received games like Bayonetta and Vanquish), it was clear that the goal was to create a solid action game in the Metal Gear universe with the new, badass Raiden as the star – nothing more, nothing less.

And, when I received the Zone of the Enders HD collection last week, it was more than clear that the first content I’d tackle would be the Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance demo included on the disc.

Metal Gear Rising Revengeance Title Screen

Game: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Developer: PlatinumGames
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Expected release: February 2013
Territories: All
Price: $59.99

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Sideway: New York – fun platformer at the right price

During my visit in England recently, I came across a PSN demo on my friend Ranulf’s PS3 that he really liked. I thought I’d give it a shot, and it turned out to be a game that’s just over a year old, and one that I’d seen before, probably on Youtube, but hadn’t tried myself. It turned out to be just as cool as it initially looked – a 2D platformer with graffiti-inspired story and style. The main character Nox has to navigate his way in a graffiti-world that he unwillingly gets sucked into, and needs to find and fight the evil Spray. In the modern gaming era, the 2D-platformer genre has been diminished to a state where it’s mostly getting indie, modestly-priced entries on PSN/XBLA/Steam. There are some notable exceptions, like Rayman Origins, but those are quite few and far between. That said, having indies work on 2D platformers is not a bad thing at all – nowadays, they’re the ones most willing to innovate (be it due to willing to make a name for themselves, or just sheer passion and desire to deliver something unique – a drive that many big companies in the industry have either lost or are too afraid to exploit anymore). Sideway features some of that much-needed innovation, combined with game design concepts that have been tested and proven through the years.

Sideway New York Cover

Game: Sideway: New York
Developer: Playbrains
Platforms: PlayStation Network, PC
Original release: 2011
Territories: All
Price: $9.99

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Video Game Music of the Week – 03-09.12.2012

I recently played and reviewed Valkyrie Profile, a game that’s not that well-known, but is truly among the best PlayStation RPGs. In the review, I chose the beautiful song “Behave Irrationally”, which describes the mood of the game very, very well. But there are a few other songs I liked quite a bit, and I’m sharing one of them with you today. It’s called “Blameless Thoughts” and plays after you defeat the boss in a dungeon, while you’re collecting the loot and then making your way out.

Composer: Motoi Sakuraba
Game: Valkyrie Profile
Song:  Blameless Thoughts

Barkley: Shut Up and Jam Gaiden 2 Kickstarter

Barkley Shut Up and Jam Gaiden

In the recent days, I was extremely excited to find out that Tales of Game’s, the creators of the magnificent PC RPG Barkley: Shut Up and Jam Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa wanted to work on a sequel. For this purpose, they set up a Kickstarter page, and it’s not only underway, but it exceeded its initial goal of $35,000 in under a day! I must shamefully admit that I haven’t even beaten the first game… I’ve played like an hour of it and postponed it until later times that are apparently yet to come. But it is such a fun concept, the story setting is absolutely brilliant, and it stars the likes of Barkley and Jordan in a cyberpunk world! I highly recommend it, furthermore, it’s free! Visit the above link to download it.

And, if you’ve got some money to support the Kickstarter for the sequel, please do so. It has reached its initial goal, but the developers said that the more money they raise, the more time they’ll put into the project and the more ideas they’ll be able to realise. I’m sure that even just reading the Kickstarter page will assure you that we’re talking guys with very good sense of humour here. 🙂

Barkley: Shut Up and Jam Gaiden 2 Kickstarter page: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/talesofgames/barkley-2-an-rpg-sequel-to-barkley-shut-up-and-jam

Mega Man

Despite my large backlog of more recent games, I still love to do some retro gaming on the side (and by “retro,” I mean 8-bit and 16-bit games, even if many would already put the PS1 era in that category). Recently, I decided to finally give some attention to a game I spent quite some time with as a kid, but could never beat – the original Mega Man (or Rockman, as I knew it back then). For old time’s sake, I got the Japanese version that I was familiar with. Playing on my PSP and willing to see it through to the end, I was no stranger to abusing save states… The game just requires considerable skill to be beaten, especially by a first-time player. But, even so, I thought Mega Man had kept its magic through the years.

Rockman Title Screen

Game: Mega Man
Developer: Capcom
Platforms: NES, Mobile, Wii/3DS Virtual Console; Mega Drive/Genesis (part of Mega Man: The Wily Wars collection), PlayStation (enhanced remake), PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube (part of Mega Man Anniversary Collection), PlayStation Portable (as Mega Man: Powered Up – enhanced remake)
Original release: 1987
Territories: All

The first Mega Man game is often criticised and considered inferior to the sequels (especially Mega Man 2 and 3), but I’ve always felt that criticism was a bit unfair. It laid the foundations for what Mega Man would become – one of, if not THE signature series for the NES, later spawning countless other games (in several separate series) and even a couple of cartoons. Pick a stage, go through it, defeat the robot master at the end, collect his special power to use later against another robot master. A simple formula in hindsight, but, for its time, it was something very original. The game’s notorious difficulty doesn’t do it any favours (as a kid, I would manage to beat 5 robot masters, only to give up at the Guts Man stage because of those moving platforms in the beginning…), but at least there are unlimited continues (even if there were no passwords) and you don’t lose your progress. It’s also quite fulfilling to choose the right power (as long as you have it) and be able to defeat a robot master in 3-4 hits instead of like 20.

This review provides screenshots captured by me.

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Video Game Music of the Week – 26.11-02.12.2012

SEGA’s last console, the Dreamcast, unfortunately didn’t last very long. But it had several hits that a ton of people like and are considered among the best games ever created even today. This week, I’ve gotta give it to Grandia II, an amazing RPG by Game Arts, and undoubtedly the best in the genre on the system, especially if you don’t count the online pioneer (get it?) Phantasy Star Online.

Many RPGs have boring normal battle themes, not Grandia II, though. Its is quite stellar. And it’s written by none other than Noriyuki Iwadare, who we’ve already had on this series with his Phoenix Wright 3 work.

Composer: Noriyuki Iwadare
Game: Grandia II
Song:  FIGHT!! Version #1

Video Game Music of the Week – 19-25.11.2012

In the Sonic Adventure 2 demo impressions article, I said that vocal Sonic songs are quite unsatisfying in comparison to the wonderful tunes of the 2D games. But every rule has its exception, and here it is – the Pumpkin Hill song from Sonic Adventure 2, also known as Knuckles’ theme. A badass rap song, fitting Knuckles’ character nicely. Some say it’s terrible, but don’t mind them. 🙂

Composer: Tomoya Ohtani
Vocals: Hunnid-P
Game: Sonic Adventure 2
Song:  A Ghost’s Pumpkin Soup

Sonic Adventure 2 – a relic of the past

SEGA like to release their old stuff on PSN/XBLA/Steam lately, making some completely free money off their past work. I was a big fan of SEGA back in the 16-bit era, and, of course, the 2D Sonic games were a major reason for that. Sonic was WAY cooler than Mario in the 2D world, he carried SEGA forward, and that is why the Mega Drive/Genesis was such a success. I never owned a Saturn or a Dreamcast, though, so I had missed on Sonic’s later forays, this time in the 3D world. And while his more recent games have been widely hated (Sonic Generations being a recent exception), the Dreamcast entries Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 have always been beloved by the fanbase. Thus, quite curious to see just how good the first 3D Sonics could be in comparison to less popular stuff like Unleashed, which I’d tried a couple of years ago, I recently downloaded the demo of Sonic Adventure 2 on PSN.

Sonic Adventure 2

Game: Sonic Adventure 2
Developer: Sonic Team
Platforms: Dreamcast, GameCube (Sonic Adventure 2: Battle version), PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, PC
Original release: 2001
Territories: All
Price: $9.99

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Video Game Music of the Week – 12-18.11.2012

I have to finish the theme of the original 16-bit Sonic trilogy with song from the first game, in which Sonic didn’t have most of his flashy abilities (nor his sidekicks) from the sequels. But, even so, the game was still a pretty solid platformer in itself. I have chosen the Spring Yard Zone music.

Composer: Masato Nakamura
Game: Sonic the Hedgehog
Song:  Spring Yard Zone