Last weekend, August 3-5, a bunch of nerds made Central Florida our b*tch. I'm talking about Nerdapalooza, an annual celebration of geek music spanning nerdcore, hard rock, chiptunes, and other genres. Think MAGFest, only sma...
During the four years since The Megas re-imagined Mega Man 2's soundtrack through the incredible Get Equipped, the band has been working on new material (as well as earning a very special reference in the Archie Mega Man comi...
You like Castlevania, don't you?
In November of last year, guitarist Ryan "Mega Beardo" Postlethwait released a concept album, Belmont, based on the original Castlevania. Similar to the works of The Protomen or The Megas, it ...
HOW Y'DO, KEN!? SURE YOU'RE KEN! I'D LIKE SOME POUND CAKE!
Psycho Crusher has pumped out a new rock arrangement based on, of course, Ken's theme from Street Fighter II. Ken is clearly superior to Ryu in every way, while Ryu ...
The music from Mega Man 10 is the strangest creature ever. On one hand, it assembles composers from each Classic Mega Man entry in an all-star jamboree. On the other hand, their contributions are perhaps some of the most bor...
Okay, I never got through the second stage of Marble Madness. I think the NES/arcade classic is universally regarded as a hard ass game, but from what little I did experience, I loved the music. Grant "Stemage" Henry of Metro...
When I first saw that Bullet For My Valentine was coming to Rock Band 3, I somehow managed to confuse them with My Bloody Valentine (alt-rock darlings from the very early 90's). But then I saw the tracklist and thought, "Wait...
Back in December, I shared a demo of an upcoming Zelda tribute album by Cory Johnson. Several months later, the album is complete and ready to occupy your music library.
The finished album consists of 23 tracks spanning the e...
[Header image by AzakaChi-RD-17]
Pokémon, like many children's properties, seems all sugary and innocent on the surface. But dig a little bit deeper and you'll find a wealth of freaky sh*t that was best left untouched...
The above full sequence of awesomeness comes courtesy of Swedish musician Fredrik Larsson, better known as FreddeGredde. Even if you don't know him by name, I guarantee you've heard this man's handiwork before. For one, he m...
If you are a fan of videogame cover bands, you damn well better know who the Minibosses are. These guys are pioneers, going an tour with a set list of NES rock arrangements before pretty much anyone else. Hell, I was listenin...
Goldeen -- just above Metapod and Magikarp on the list of Pokémon that are better off dead. "But they evolve into much more powerful creatures!" Yeah, they're still turds. But when you get between a Goldeen and its lo...
The Dovahkiin of the modern era can do more than just speak funny words to make candy canes rain from the sky. He is also blessed with the face-melting gift of the Dragon Shred!
Warialasky, the team behind the real-life Gold...
It's been a while since Kris Escobar last released a new Psycho Crusher track. Now he's back and badder than ever with a sick Earthworm Jim cover that will make children weep and panties drop.
"Groovy Junk" is, of course, ba...
I never get tired of checking out Zelda music arrangements, so when reader Colin pointed us to this rough-cut album, I had to give it a listen.
This currently untitled collection of Zelda tribute songs by Cory Johnson gives a...
We shared with you the joy of Chilean VG metal band Psycho Crusher earlier this year. Live videos are cool and all, but wouldn't you enjoy some nice, clean recordings as well?
Band member Cristián "Kris" Escobar is wo...
Let's see... can I get away with one more Sonic post today?
Have you ever been watching Sega music composer Jun Senoue absolutely tearin' it up on stage and thought, "Man, I wish I could be as righteous and tubular as him!" W...
See? What did I tell ya? Though Mega Man games may very well have gone the way of the dodo, the merchandising train is just picking up steam!
A few members of the Capcom Sound Team have joined forces to form a Mega Man cover...
Videogame power metal band Powerglove made Danny Elfman their b#tch with their cover of the 1989 Batman theme off last year's album Saturday Morning Apocalypse. In this new music video, they also teach an army of crabs and bats that it's not cool to attempt a hostile invasion of their mystical sky palace.
[Thanks for the tip, Morris!]
Today's episode of The Destructoid Show burns hotter than a thousand barbecues in a million golden Hells, and it's all thanks to the valiant efforts of you, true believers! Sort of. We talked about some of the games peo...
Sep 28 //
In the late '80s, Sunsoft was working on an adaptation of The Terminator but was forced to give the game a rough makeover after losing the license. The result was Journey to Silius, an oft-forgotten classic that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with other Sunsoft greats like Blaster Master and Batman.
If its games proved anything, it was that the company certainly knew its way around the ol' 2A03. Nowhere was its musical proficiency better exemplified than in Journey to Silius. The sound team must have tapped into some ancient magic, because the bass here is uncommonly rich for an NES title.
You know the shop is open for business when you boot the game and hear these drums:
Journey to Silius - Title[embed]184742:33460:0[/embed]
That drumming is the game's heartbeat. It's the rhythm of the machine gun in your hands, the rally cry of the robotic hordes. It lends a degree of urgency to every moment, even to the hard-earned respites from the action.
Journey to Silius - Stage 4[embed]184742:33461:0[/embed]
The score carries such weight that you can feel it bearing down upon your back. It's dark and heavy, making it the perfect soundtrack for the machine apocalypse.
Keep 'em comin':Journey to Silius - Stage 1 & 5Journey to Silius - Stage 2Journey to Silius - Stage 3Journey to Silius - Boss
The music of the Castlevania series is both haunting and distinct -- gothic with a jazz twist. You can almost see the keys of the church organ being pounded with ferocity. Starting with Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night, the sound began to incorporate guitars and techno beats. However, there was one game predating both of those titles to cross that line first.
Belmont's Revenge on the Game Boy was a surprising follow-up to the rather disappointing Castlevania: The Adventure. Of the many improvements, the audio stands out most of all, delivering a charged score that at times reaches thrash metal levels. Imagine that! Thrash metal on the Game Boy!
Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge - New Messiah[embed]184742:33462:0[/embed]
Whereas the NES could only output sound in mono, the Game Boy could output in stereo when headphones were plugged in. The difference is day and night, and the nights of Belmont's Revenge are unbelievably black. Just listen to that double bass drumming!
Speaking of which, the following is perhaps one of the best tracks in the entire franchise. A real head-banger, this one:
Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge - Original Sin[embed]184742:33463:0[/embed]
Even when the music slows down, the intensity never falters. This is what vampire murder should sound like, not that pussy sparkle shit.
Keep 'em comin':Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge - Ripe SeedsCastlevania II: Belmont's Revenge - Psycho WarriorCastlevania II: Belmont's Revenge - Evil GodsCastlevania II: Belmont's Revenge - Road of Enemy #2
Shattered Soldier, which I name-dropped above, was a direct successor to Hard Corps on the Sega Genesis rather than to Contra III on the SNES. The two elements that tie them together are their parades of Treasure-caliber boss battles and soundtracks that blend hard rock with electronica. While Shattered Soldier lands on the "blood-curdling death metal" end of the spectrum, the Hard Corps tilts in the other direction with thumping house and pulsating industrial vigor.
True to its name, the music makes you feel hardcore even as you die over and over and over again. In the opening seconds of the game, you barrel down a war-torn city in your party wagon, steamrolling hapless enemies in your path before getting launched through the windshield and into the thick, all while this blares through the speakers:
Contra: Hard Corps - The Hard Corps[embed]184742:33464:0[/embed]
That is how you make an entrance!
Later on, there's an ocean shore stage comprised entirely of a fight against an endlessly morphing boss reminiscent of Seven Force from Gunstar Heroes. As you tackle form after new form, you are motivated by what I fondly regard as the game's "surf rock" anthem:
Contra: Hard Corps - GTR Attack[embed]184742:33465:0[/embed]
This game totally has ADHD. In addition to tossing a new boss at you every five steps, the music changes up just as often. There can be two, maybe three track changes in a given level, and sometimes the change comes before a track even has a chance to loop once. It's so wild, and I love it!
Know what else I love? When a game suddenly throws a wicked guitar solo in the middle of a song. And wouldn't you know it, Contra: Hard Corps is full of 'em.
Keep 'em comin':Contra: Hard Corps - A Spirit of BushiContra: Hard Corps - Format XContra: Hard Corps - Last SpringsteenContra: Hard Corps - Simon 1994RD (A "Vampire Killer" remix that plays during a battle against a Simon Belmont robot that throws fish boomerangs, I swear to God)
Comix Zone, the living comic game that got a bum deal by being released during the twilight years of the Genesis, has a rockin' soundtrack of a different color. It's very grungy and mellow, taking its cues from early-'90s alt rockers like Nirvana and Soundgarden.
Have a listen to the first level's track:
Comix Zone - Night of the Mutants[embed]184742:33468:0[/embed]
Hear the influence? Reminds me of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" a bit.
Sega really wanted to draw attention to the music. Each copy of the game included an "inspired by" CD sampler that featured artists such as Danzig and Love and Rockets. Later on, a vocal arrangement album of select game tracks was released. Such treatment, uncommon for a videogame at the time, was proof that here was something special.
Comix Zone - Welcome to the Temple[embed]184742:33469:0[/embed]
Relax. Chill out for a bit. Enjoy the change of pace, because from here on out I'm going to be blowing your mind.
Keep 'em comin':Comix Zone - IntroductionComix Zone - Curse of the Dead ShipsComix Zone - Where's My Part in This?Comix Zone - Staff Roll
Thunder Force is a shmup series from Technosoft that started out on Japanese computers and eventually ended its run on the PlayStation 2. If there was any point in the series you'd be familiar with, it would be the Genesis era that spanned the second through fourth titles. Oddly, since the hardware to run the original never came out here, Thunder Force II was the series' Western debut.
The games feature some killer soundtracks that only get better with each new entry. However, it wasn't until Thunder Force III that the franchise crossed into true synth rock territory.
Thunder Force III - Venus Fire[embed]184742:33470:0[/embed]
Keep 'em comin':Thunder Force III - Back to the FireThunder Force III - Final Take a Chance
As I said, each sequel raised the bar of awesome. Thunder Force III has a very clean power metal vibe going for it, but Thunder Force IV positively revels in the raw, crunchy guitar riffs that only the Genesis could produce.
It grabs you right there at the title screen and never lets go:
Thunder Force IV - Lightning Strikes Again[embed]184742:33471:0[/embed]
A game that starts strong should ideally end strong. Thankfully, the staff roll theme has that job covered:
Thunder Force IV - Stand Up Against Myself[embed]184742:33472:0[/embed]
For some bizarre reason, this game was retitled Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar in the States. Yes, you read that correctly -- there is a superfluous 'e' inserted right in the middle. I don't know what the powers-that-be were thinking when they made this change, but no typographical error or goofy-as-all-hell subtitle can kill this game's mojo. Thunder Force IV's soundtrack is beyond a shadow of a doubt the magnum opus of Sega's 16-bit audio library.
Keep 'em comin':Thunder Force IV - Attack SharplyThunder Force IV - Strike OutThunder Force IV - Metal SquadThunder Force IV - Down Right Attack
Everything about the classic Mega Man series was raised exponentially in the X series -- stages were bigger, the weapons were deadlier, and the stakes were higher. On the sound front, the catchy pop jams of the originals made way for honest-to-God '80s hair metal. Who knew the future would sound like Guns N' Roses?
I played Mega Man X for the first time at a sleepover. I remember being so blown away by the energy that I just stood at the start of that highway introductory stage for a few minutes and let the music envelop me. This was damn fine chiptune.
Mega Man X - Opening Stage[embed]184742:33473:0[/embed]
Okay, so the SNES technically didn't do "chiptune" music. The audio was generated by a second CPU, completely separate from the main system, that used instrument samples. That's why SNES games sound so rich and natural compared to games on competing consoles. But really, who's going to throw a fit over my mentioning the SNES during a chiptune reminiscence?
It's okay to make exceptions when the music is this good. That thick guitar sound, as spacious as if it were being played in an amphitheater, will always be the trademark sound of the SNES generation to me.
Mega Man X - Spark Mandrill[embed]184742:33474:0[/embed]
Keep 'em comin':Mega Man X - Storm Eagle StageMega Man X - Armored Armadillo StageMega Man X - Sigma 1st (John, play the fight riff! Play it!)
Sadly, X2 and X3 couldn't live up to the first outing, especially in the audio department. It wasn't their fault that perfection was achieved the first time around! Nonetheless, there are some great tracks to be heard.
Besides, after likening the music of the X series to Guns N' Roses, I'd be remiss to not bring up X3's Neon Tiger, whose theme borrows a whole measure directly from "My Michelle":
Mega Man X3 - Neon Tiger[embed]184742:33475:0[/embed]
Keep 'em comin':Mega Man X2 - Opening StageMega Man X2 - Flame Stag StageMega Man X3 - Gravity Beetle Stage
Finally, let's talk about X's crimson counterpart Zero, the grand show-stealer and the originally planned star of the X series. Like Proto Man with his whistle, Zero's appearance is marked by a hard-rockin' theme song. The theme changes in each game, but it's always one of the big standout tracks. My favorite would be the theme from X2, played during the epic confrontation between these lifelong friends destined to be enemies:
Mega Man X2 - Zero[embed]184742:33476:0[/embed]
Keep 'em comin':Mega Man X - Zero Mega Man X3 - Zero
Don't believe for a second that this list is comprehensive. There are so many other games and jams that I could discuss, but I don't want to split your guys' skulls open too wide in a single sitting. Maybe I'll revisit this topic at a later date.
'Til then, rock on!
[It's been a while since I've done a Monthly Musing, but I couldn't pass up an opportunity to gush about my favorite face-melters from the chiptune days! -- Tony]
I love chiptunes, and not just because they awaken dormant emo...
Aug 19 //
Maurice Tan First of all, just because it's a Facebook game don't assume you can't play with your beloved plastic guitar. For InstantJam can communicate with any existing guitar peripheral to play it (with the exception of the Wii guitars for licensing reasons). The 360 guitars can be booked up by adding a USB RF-adapter to communicate with it. The PS3 guitars can be hooked up via Bluetooth. USB peripherals just work. If you don’t have a guitar, you can just use the keyboard. While the default keys seemed to be ASDFG, you will be able to remap the keys to pretty much whatever you want.
It's all about the notecharts
InstantJam works by having a list of ever growing notecharts, which run in the thousands already, that can be used in conjuction with any music file that is recognized. Castle said that they used the Billboard Top 100 songs from the past 20 years as a starting point, so most people will be able to find something they recognize and like. InstantJam can also scan your computer for music files, which are then imported into a playlist. No data will be sent over the web, so you don’t have to worry about your pirated mp3’s as Castle doesn’t want your privacy compromised in any way. Of course I had to ask him if you could just pirate songs and play those, and you can as long as they are the right length. Even if it has a couple of seconds before or after the song that are not officially part of the song, other tech can see through that and still recognize the song.
Users will be able to share the standard Facebook wall-cancers as well as challenge friends to beat their score. A ghost can be recorded to play against, although that is still under development and currently you could only play against your friend’s score on a song. Another ridiculous feature was being able to create embed code so you could just post InstantJam on your blog.Players can also create their own notecharts. If you have a ton of Frets on Fire notecharts yourself, it shouldn’t be too hard to get the hang of copying those notecharts to the InstantJam format although you can’t just import them for logical reasons. If InstantJam would become a success, that would mean that players can have access to tens of thousands of songs over time.
Micropayments for tunes and threads
While browser-based gaming has changed drastically over the years, some companies still have the model of using a portal for users which then eventually become customers, leading to revenue. Game creator Louis Castle believes that instead of portals (but not instead of thinking with portals) viral is the way to go and that networks of users should access the content directly and then create revenue. If you look at the last two years of social gaming on Facebook, there is little to disagree on that front. His proposed business model is to get users to discover and share, then play free to play content, which then leads to revenue. What better way to explore that model than to put your game on Facebook?
InstantJam follows this model, which is not exactly the same as Zynga’s, in a number of ways, starting with the way it looks and works on the back end. With the rising popularity of Facebook gaming it makes perfect sense for InstantAction to reinvent themselves with the times. Piggybacking their game on InstantAction gives the game a few technological marvels: By having the processing part done on your computer, and the music files stored on your computer, InstantJam only has to send a minimum of data and note charts to let you play what is basically Guitar Hero with thousands of songs on your computer.
An interesting concept is that you can buy a song from Amazon or iTunes via InstantJam and you will get more credits in return than the song is worth. So if you buy music on Amazon or iTunes, you might as well buy it through InstantJam and get credits in the process. Which then means you are already playing the game or will probably keep playing it for a while, or that you might buy more music through Amazon or iTunes. Castle was anxious to see how the music industry would react to all of this if his game becomes a success.
You can buy skins for your guitar with in-game currency, but you can also buy things like special new guitars, which give you bonuses to fans and in-game currency per song, for credits that cost money to buy. Or buy special buffs that for instance compensate for when you strum too fast. You can trade credits for in-game currency as well and all that jazz; the usual Facebook game currency and payment system.
The man behind the game
Louis Castle worked in roles of programming, art direction, accounting, licensing, to being a compensation specialist and a visionary in development structure. So what would make one of the more interesting but largely unknown Louis Castle move from over 20 years of experience in the game industry and being a creative at EA to a company that makes free to play web games? To understand that, you first have to understand Louis Castle. He firmly believes you have to continuously reinvent yourself as a person and to always seek out those things that challenge you, instead of just being content with reaching a certain level in life and staying at that level.
Castle asked me what kind of music I wanted to play. Unfortunately, I mostly listen to awful euro dance musical art so that really didn't apply, so I played Riders on the Storm on Expert for a bit. It wasn’t too hard but it was around the difficulty of Hard for a game like Guitar Hero 5. Castle persisted in asking me euro dance artists just to see if he had it in his collection of 1500 songs on his laptop. I asked him if he had Scooter, which he never heard of. He did have Lady Gaga though! And not just that, he had around 20 songs of Lady Gaga. Because he grew up in Vegas, I chose to play Poker Face on fullscreen mode. Many mah mah mah maos were made. This was good.
InstantJam is currently in beta and is available on Facebook right now.
What the hell is InstantJam? The short answer: a Guitar Hero clone on Facebook. Nuff said.
The long answer is a social game with serious new technology driving it: it's the first music title running on the InstantActio...
Jul 29 //
Ben Perlee Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii)Developer: NeversoftPublisher: ActivisionTo be released: September 2010
An interesting turn of form is the return to classic rock 'n' roll. No longer is Guitar Hero going to be appealing to everyone, Warriors of Rock is a plot-driven music game in which the musicians must save rock from The Beast...through the power of rock.
Yeah, it's the same plot device we've seen in loads of other films and games (Heavy Metal comes to mind), and the game feels a bit like a Guitar Hero version of Brutal Legend. I like this return to a specialized genre of rock. Working through a rocker universe is different from the traditional venue transition, but these insane levels almost feel truer to the Guitar Hero license than going through realistic venues. Some people will hate it, and the focus on harder music may turn people off. However, the specialized approach could benefit in that it can appeal to a much more specific audience.
A new development in the franchise is the addition of power ups. Each of the eight characters (six returning such as Lars, Casey, and the always popular Judy Nails, as well as two new rockers) will have power ups that will do things like add a shield to your meter so you can make a mistake without losing a multiplier. Other abilities can be an instant revival, and there are even more. With a team full of these heroes, you can have a multitude of power ups going off all at once, so in the end game it can be quite chaotic. In addition, each version of the rocker has a brutal monster version, like a snaky Casey Lynch, or a mummy Axel Steel, or a warrior pig for Lars Umlaut. It's all over-the-top, borderline campy rock. Considering the heroes are journeying through a rock world narrated by Gene Simmons, it's all good.
In addition, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock has seen a major graphical overhaul. The characters move with much more fluidity, and with the heavy metal aesthetic, the over-the-top rock of the game fits. It's not subtle like Rock Band, but it doesn't look like it needs to be. Gameplay, it's the Guitar Hero you've played for years now. Personally, I think it's good to have a franchise return to its more traditional rock roots, but it's a bummer that fans of other genres of rock will have to make do with DLC. There will be a way to play all of your previous DLC music in the game, but it seems like only the new DLC will be brought into the story mode. Making a return is the party mode, where players can just jump in and play at any time.
Hardware-wise, the most radical changes have been made to the guitar. Coming with a generic “battle ax” design, this guitar can be broken down so that different designs can be placed into it. Called “wings,” the external plastic outside of the neck will have some different options for people to buy. The start and select buttons are now a part of the fret board in a much more accessible way. Interestingly, gone is the slider bar, and the strum bar is much thinner and less clicky. It seems like good and bad things have happened to the design, but if you are looking for a new guitar, this should be serviceable. It seems like Activision has a decent approach to the title. It is an attempt to be a return to the themes of the original Guitar Hero, and the currently announced set-list should fit that pretty well. The new plot elements are a little weird, but it doesn't look like it's anything that will get in the way of the game. Honestly, I feel that if you want a game that recreates being a rock star, with a variety of musical choices or a realistic approach, you're not going to find that here. Instead, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock will scratch the itch for a very game-centric rock experience. It's almost a music game for gamers, compared to Harmonix's music game for wannabe musicians. It's a big difference, and if there ever was a time for these two separate titles, this is it.
Currently confirmed setlist A Perfect Circle – The Outsider AFI – Dancing Through Sunday Alice Cooper – No More Mr. Nice Guy Alter Bridge - Ties That Bind Anthrax – Indians Atreyu – Ravenous Avenged Sevenfold – Bat Country Bad Brains – Re-ignition (Live) Blue Oyster Cult – Burning for You Bush – Machinehead Buzzcocks – What Do I Get? Children of Bodom – If You Want Peace...Prepare for War Deep Purple – Burn Def Leppard – Pour Some Sugar on Me (Live) Dethklok – Bloodlines Dire Straits – Money for Nothing Dragonforce – Fury of the Storm Drowning Pool – Bodies Edgar Winter – Free Ride Fall Out Boy – Dance, Dance Five Finger Death Punch – Hard to See Foo Fighters – No Way Back Foreigner – Feels Like the First Time George Thorogood and The Destroyers – Move it on Over (Live) Jane's Addiction – Been Caught Stealing Jethro Tull – Aqualung KISS – Love Gun Linkin Park – Bleed It Outlandish Lynyrd Skynyrd – Call Me The Breeze (Live) Megadeath – Sudden Death Muse – Uprising My Chemical Romance – I'm Not Okay (I Promise) Night Ranger – (You Can Still) Rock in America Nine Inch Nails – Wish Pantera – I'm Broken Poison – Unskinny Bop Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody Rammstein – Waidmanns Hell Rise Against – Savior Rush – 2112 Pt. 1 – Overture Rush – 2112 Pt. 2 – The Temples of Syrinx Rush – 2112 Pt. 3 – Discovery Rush – 2112 Pt. 4 – Presentation Rush – 2112 Pt. 5 – Oracle: The Dream Rush – 2112 Pt. 6 – Soliloquy Rush – 2112 Pt. 7 – Grand Finale Silversun Pickups – There's No Secrets This Year Slayer – Chemical Warfare Slipknot – Psychosocial Soundgarden – Black Rain Steve Vai – Speeding Stone Temple Pilots – Interstate Love Song Strung Out – Calling Sum 41 – Motivation The Cure – Fascination Street The Hives – Tick Tick Boom The Offspring – Self Esteem The Ramones – Spiderman The Rolling Stones – Stray Cat Blues The Runaways – Cherry Bomb The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army them Crooked Vultures – Scumbag Blues Twisted Sister – We're Not Gonna Take It ZZ Top – Sharp Dressed Man (Live)
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