Video Game Music of the Week – 04-10.02.2013

Battletoads were, of course, considered a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles knockoff back in the day. In reality, the two had little in common aside from being about fighting human/animal mutants. Another thing they had in common was awesome NES games. The first TMNT NES game is quite notorious for its difficulty, much like Battletoads, and a lot of people hate it. Not me, though, it’s one of my favourite NES games. But my true TMNT favourite is The Manhattan Project, the third game in the NES turtle series. Aside from being a really balanced beat-’em-up, unlike its predecessor, the shoddy port of the first turtle arcade game, it also had a really good soundtrack – not uncommon for an 8-bit Konami game. My favourite theme plays in Scene 5, which takes place in the sewers.

Composer: Yuichi Sakakura,Tomoya Tomita, Kouzou Nakamura
Game: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project
Song: Scene 5

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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

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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Video Game Music of the Week – 18-24.06.2012

Metal Gear is a really special series for many gamers. What I often like to point out that it was already amazing even before it went 3D with Metal Gear Solid in 1998… Already in 1990, with Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Kojima had laid out the foundation for what would become one of the most thrilling sagas in gaming. It is an amazing game even today, and it’s mind-blowing how ahead of its time it was. Hidden for many years from non-Japanese gamers, the MSX gem resurfaced with Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, where the original two games were included (if with some alterations to the character names and faces). Subsistence was quite rare, but with the MGS3 HD version, part of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, you can now easily play it (although it’s always best to see the MSX version with Snake looking a lot like Mel Gibson).

The soundtrack was one of the reasons why Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake was so awesome. “Frequency 140.85” is the song from it that I’ve chosen for this week.

Composers: KONAMI KuKeiHa CLUB
Game: Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
Song: Frequency 140.85

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

One cannot avoid the feeling of sadness when a great story ends. In addition to the awe at the conclusion, one feels the bittersweet disappointment that now all the secrets have been unveiled and all the dots – connected. That is how I felt when I finished Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – the final chapter of my favourite game series. Everything came together nicely, there was nothing more to be added… But Peace Walker proved that wrong.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Game: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Developer: Kojima Productions
Platforms: PlayStation Portable; PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (as part of Metal Gear Solid HD Collection)
Releases: 2010 (PSP), 2011 (PS3/Xbox 360), 2012 (PS3/Xbox 360 – Europe)
Territories: All

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is the latest installment in the ground-breaking tactical espionage action series by Hideo Kojima. Built for the PSP, it is superior in every way to its handheld predecessor, Portable Ops, and Kojima himself and his trusty team were the ones working on its development from beginning to end (as opposed to the overseer role Kojima had with Portable Ops). Furthermore, with the game coming to consoles as part of the HD collection (and that was the version I played, too), it proved to be ambitious and well-made enough that one barely sees differences from the full-blown console Metal Gear Solid titles.

Fans of the series will certainly love this one, and even people completely new to it will be pleased. Peace Walker keeps the core gameplay we’ve come to know and love, and also takes some interesting new approaches that help the game feel fresh and exciting even to Metal Gear veterans. And it’s another chapter of the story of Big Boss – one of the most badass, awe-inspiring game characters to have ever existed.

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