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Audun Sorlie

Legend of Zelda photo
Legend of Zelda

London Symphony Orchestra to perform Zelda in July

Nintendo and London Symphony Orchestra teams up with Merregnon
Dec 12
// Audun Sorlie
Big news coming from Nintendo today. With the excellent Wind Waker HD and A Link Between Worlds currently keeping the Zelda name red hot, the guys at Nintendo have another surprise in store before the year ends. For the first...
Music photo

Final Symphony announces 2014 Denmark event

Final Fantasy symphony comes to Denmark
Dec 02
// Audun Sorlie
This year, the very first live orchestrated game music concert by the London Symphony Orchestra took place in the form of Final Symphony. The concert is the latest critically acclaimed concert by the Merregnon Studios and the...
FFVII photo

Final Fantasy VII NES restoration sees release

The clumsy bootleg becomes fully playable
Nov 14
// Audun Sorlie
It’s always impressive to see crafty modders making enhancements to fan-favorite games or allowing us to go zombie hunting in Russia, but I myself am more intrigued with the world of retro hacking. The endless imaginati...
Greenlight photo

Shadowgate appears on Steam Greenlight

The rebirth of a classic adventure is near
Nov 14
// Audun Sorlie
It looks like Zojoi's upcoming Shadowgate reimagining is shaping up to be something real special. It's not every day you see a true point-and-click adventure, and certainly not one that looks as pretty as this. At the helm o...


Mitsuyoshi and Kaida team up for PiNEd

Stars of Capcom and SEGA to release co-album
Oct 15
// Audun Sorlie
Sega's Takenobu Mitsuyoshi, the man whose legendary vocal chords gave us the world anthem of Daytona USA, has teamed up with none other than Breath of Fire and Okami composer Akari Kaida for a new joint venture. The duo will ...

Ridge Racer composer releases new original album

Kohta Takahashi has something for Everyone
Oct 14
// Audun Sorlie
Kohta Takahashi has been one of Namco's more prolific composers over the years, having a hand in crafting the sugary sweet yet catchy Klonoa soundtracks as well as being lead composer for the Ridge Racer series beginning with...
Music photo

Symphonic Selections bringing the finest VGM together

Zelda, Shenmue, and Monster Hunter meet in symphony
Jul 22
// Audun Sorlie
Today, tickets go on sale for the newest addition to the long-running line of videogame music concerts from German production company Merregnon Studios, titled Symphonic Selections. While the previous concerts in last few yea...
Lightning Returns photo
Lightning Returns

Hamauzu and VGO dicuss FF: Lightning Returns soundtrack

Exclusive reveal
Jun 12
// Audun Sorlie
Square's lineup at this E3 has been among the best in show, with Final Fantasy XV, Kingdom Hearts III and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII tearing up the show floor. We managed to sit down with Masashi Hamauzu and Shota ...

Uematsu and Hamauzu sits down with y'all tomorrow

Final Symphony warms up with a webstream
May 28
// Audun Sorlie
A little while ago, the London Symphony Orchestra asked all of you to send in your questions for Nobuo Uematsu and Masashi Hamauzu, and tomorrow all the answers will be revealed. Well at least the answers you most wanted. Thi...

Uematsu and Hamauzu livestream Q&A on May 29th

Final Fantasy maestros takes to the web for a Q&A
May 16
// Audun Sorlie
London Symphony Orchestra is gearing up to their very first live video game music concert as Final Symphony takes place in the Barbican hall on May 30th. The concert had its world premiere this last weekend in Germany to a 10...
Giana Sisters photo
Giana Sisters

Giana Sisters leaps onto XBLA today, big plans ahead

XBLA's first Kickstarter-funded game
Mar 20
// Audun Sorlie
Platforming fans, rejoice! Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams finally arrives on consoles where it firmly belongs! The game, which also happens to be the first Kickstarter-funded game to actually appear on XBLA, goes straight back...
Phantasy Star photo
Phantasy Star

Phantasy Star celebrates 25 years with a symphony

Sega will honor the series with the Sympathy concert
Mar 16
// Audun Sorlie
Looks like Sega is back to being awesome again. On March 30th they will be holding a very special one night symphonic tribute to the Phantasy Star series, promising special guests and music pieces from nearly all major Phanta...
Turrican photo

New Turrican title in the works

The classic Amiga game is set to be reborn
Mar 10
// Audun Sorlie
In the newest edition of the German "Retro Gamer" magazine, a complete retrospective of the legendary Turrican game series also delivers some very exciting news for fans of the long lost silver-armored hero. According to the ...

Game Boy never sounded better than with this Spanish gold

Dive into the treasure chest of Alberto Gonzalez
Mar 04
// Audun Sorlie
Euros did crazy sh*t with videogame music; this is a well established point by now with legendary folks such as Chris Hülsbeck, Rob Hubbard, Reyn Ouwehand and Tim Follin walking this fine earth and crunching out the...
Daytona USA photo
Daytona USA

Daytona USA composer celebrates his career a third time

Takenobu Mitsuyoshi releasing From Loud 2 Low SUN (3)
Mar 01
// Audun Sorlie
Well we all know Takenobu Mitsuyoshi is great, but just how great is he? So great he now has a third compilation album featuring his works lined up for release. His album series From Loud 2 Low started in 2003 including some ...

Creator of D and Enemy Zero passes away

Kenji Eno dies at the age of 42
Feb 21
// Audun Sorlie
In the midst of all the PS4 announcements and excitement, there was a bit of sad news to come out of Japan to put a damper on the hearts of longtime gamers. Kenji Eno, the eccentric and highly unusual game director and musici...
Giana Sisters photo
Giana Sisters

Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams gets physical, physical

bitComposer to publish boxed and digital console versions
Dec 23
// Audun Sorlie
It's not been that long since Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams saw release, thanks to the massive support it gained, through the Steam Greenlight system. The good word keeps rolling in for the German indie title, while it enjoys...

Pro Wrestling X: Uprising makes a surprise release

10 years of development and more to come
Dec 21
// Audun Sorlie
Pro Wrestling X has been a distant dream for Dave Wishnowski, the independent game developer who wanted more out of his wrestling videogame experience than what the big-budget titles were offering. Inspired by games like AKI'...
GamesMaster photo

The GamesMaster sadly passed away

Sir Patrick Moore dead at age 89
Dec 09
// Audun Sorlie
For those growing up in Europe and old enough to remember, GamesMaster was an absolutely awesome show with cheesy screen effects and crazy kids being dealt gaming challenges in order to get their hands on the coveted golden j...

Journey gets nominated for a Grammy and seven VGAs

Journey takes on Tintin, Hugo and Batman
Dec 06
// Audun Sorlie
Journey composer Austin Wintory is a busy man these days. He recently spoke at SC9.0 in Germany to great success and media attention where he was able to share that Journey had received seven nominations for the ten...

Final Symphony brings Final Fantasy to London in 2013

Final concert in Thomas B÷cker's "Symphonic" series
Nov 26
// Audun Sorlie
Final Symphony, the latest and last grand Final Fantasy concert in German producer Thomas Böcker's critically acclaimed series, has received a second show date. Two weeks after the premiere in Germany, the second stop wi...

Turrican Soundtrack Anthology delayed to spring 2013

It should be well worth the wait
Nov 26
// Audun Sorlie
Germany's own Chris Hülsbeck was honored by fans and colleagues at Soundtrack Cologne 9.0, with the 25-year veteran being the guest of honor at the conference event and concert celebrations. But with his presentation did...

Final Fantasy XIII composer reflects on career and future

More concerts are ahead for Masashi Hamauzu
Nov 23
// Audun Sorlie
Masashi Hamauzu is not only one of the most popular videogame composers, he is also one of the most unique. His work on Final Fantasy XIII is regarded as one of the finest in the series, though I personally hold a soft spot f...

Catch East meets West concert stream on November 24

Legend of Zelda, Turrican, Unlimited SaGa and Journey on radio
Nov 21
// Audun Sorlie
The WDR Radio Orchestra performed the newest concert from producer Thomas Böcker and his team at Merregnon Studios on just last week on November 16. Being in attendance, I can tell you it was a truly fantastic show, feat...

Exclusive: Zojoi talks Shadowgate history and future

Nov 20 // Audun Sorlie
On Dave and Karl’s inspiration and story behind becoming videogame designers. Dave Marsh: Back in 1985, I became friends with a programmer at ICOM Simulations -- a small gaming company that had just put out a remarkable game called Déjà vu: A Nightmare Comes True. He told me about the games they were working on and on how there might be an opportunity to create a new game -- perhaps a fantasy one. So, he lent me one of their Macs and I enlisted Karl to help with the creation of Shadowgate. Karl Roelofs: I had always wanted to be a writer and the timing couldn’t have been better. I jumped at the chance to write and design a fantasy adventure for their new MacVenture platform. On top of that, they gave us as much freedom with the game as we wanted. Discussing what it takes to create a good adventure. Karl: At its core an adventure game needs to tell a compelling story. It needs to draw a player in right away -- making them care about what is happening. Additionally, it needs to have little victories to keep a player interested in progressing through the game. For Shadowgate, we took a page from Déjà vu -- the player was thrown into a situation that they had little background on and told to accomplish a daunting quest. This intrigue provided the motivation needed to keep going." Dave: Right. I think a good adventure is a bit like a movie -- it feeds the player information as they go, allowing them to discover and unlock the story. The story then evolves as the player enjoys solving immediate puzzles at hand, and discovering new information that helps solve larger and larger puzzles. The challenges of creating an adventure in videogame form and working with point-and-click gameplay. Dave: Karl and I weren’t on board when ICOM created the first point-and-click game, but I do know that the process was heavily programmer-driven. They wanted to exploit this new windowed-based OS while, at the same time, creating a game that allowed the most amount of freedom. Doing more than clicking (like being able to drag objects into an inventory, for example) was a big deal at the time. The key was to make it feel as intuitive as possible. Remember, it was a whole new experience to work with a mouse, so the player had to feel comfortable right off the bat. On the conception of Shadowgate in 1987. Karl: Making adventure games was a relatively new thing at the time so we just concentrated on the main quest and on various puzzles that we thought would work to complete that quest. We also had concentrated on what the company had accomplished with Déjà vu and the new title Uninvited. More specifically, how did they use the command system to accomplish solving puzzles." Dave: Also, Karl and I were avid fantasy readers so we pulled inspiration from a lot of the books we had read as well as hundreds of hours of playing Dungeons & Dragons. The reception to the game and original plans for future Shadowgate titles back then. Dave: To be honest, we had our heads down doing ports for these games. So I have to say we were a bit oblivious to the reception. Mindscape (our publisher for many of the titles) provided some information and I guess the fact that they kept publishing them on new platforms was a good sign! It was just cool to see the product on the store shelves and people buying them. I remember that we would go into Egghead Software and put Shadowgate across the front rows. Karl: And we certainly had plans to continue on with the Shadowgate narrative. We put together a full design for Beyond Shadowgate as a MacVenture title, which was to take place some hundreds of years later in the universe, but then sidescrollers came into fashion and ICOM got a big contract with NEC and the company moved away from the adventure space. On their time with ICOM. Dave: Awesome time. It was a small company that trusted us to make games and provide a great atmosphere. We were more than happy to work on any type of project really and were always grateful for the opportunity ICOM gave us to get started in our careers. I mean, we would get there at 9am and leave a 10pm... although I think we played Robotron and Joust from 6pm on... Karl: ICOM was a great time in my life. I got to do things I loved -- create and design games and do artwork while working with my best friend. I count my time at ICOM Simulations as some of the best years of my life. On loss of control over the brand with Beyond Shadowgate and Shadowgate 64. Dave: Like I mentioned, ICOM had gotten a large contract with NEC and they weren’t that interested in adventure games. They wanted sidescrollers and top-down action games. So, for the TurboGrafx version of Beyond Shadowgate, ICOM decided to move to a hybrid sidescroller/adventure. The Shadowgate license then went to Infinite Ventures who revived the brand by working out a deal with Kemco -- the developer of the NES port. Kemco pretty much developed all of Shadowgate 64. We are obviously pretty excited that we have reacquired the rights to work on the designs again. The evolution of adventure videogames and the decline of point-and-click gameplay. Karl: I think adventure games have definitely evolved with the technology. It started with pencil-and-paper adventures and choose-your-own-adventure books. It then moved to text-based adventures on computers then on to first-person point-and-click and then settled for a long time on the isometric view. Obviously, over the past 10-15 years, the FPS style of game has dominated the market, but I think we are moving towards a resurgence of both first- and third-person adventure games with the proliferation of devices like the phones and tablets. Founding Zojoi and reviving the Shadowgate brand for the 21st century. Dave: I had been looking at the game landscape and new devices for some time and noticed that there were some great opportunities for a small company to publish games again. I really wanted to see if there was an appetite for the first-person adventure game or mystery adventures. It took a while but I was able to reacquire the rights to most of the games Karl and I had worked on and found like-minded people that wanted to either port or remake them. Karl: Right. We started with porting a number of our Sherlock Holmes mysteries before launching into Shadowgate. On how to retain the classic feel of Shadowgate while still innovating the game for a modern audience. Dave: So the thing is, while there are some puzzles that don’t hold up, we love the original game. We love the atmospheric environments -- the way that death was just around the corner. We loved the inclusion of the NES type of music and how that built such an edge-of-your seat ambiance. Karl: But we didn’t want to just create a port. We’ve done it a ton of times. However, we wanted to use the original game and many of its environments and puzzles as a foundation but update and re-imagine it with new puzzles and rooms. We also wanted to incorporate a sleeker UI, tons of animations and music -- including a digitally orchestrated soundtrack and the original NES score. Talking about the decision to use crowdfunding. Dave: Well, when it really comes down to it, it’s expensive to make a game, especially across multiple platforms and without any publisher support. Art, audio, design, programming, testing -- it’s daunting. We’ve been knee-deep in pre-production and put a lot of time and money in but at some point you need to look for other alternatives. We didn’t approach this campaign lightly and have been very straightforward with our pledgers about where we are at and the minimum we need to get the game done. Working with composer Rich Douglas (Orcs and Elves) and artist Chris Cold. Dave: I found Chris on Deviant Art and immediately loved his style. The rough tones and moody, dark look was exactly what I envisioned for the re-imagining. It brings a real edge. And on top of being wickedly good, he’s the easiest guy to work with. Rich was an amazing find as well! He’s a fan of the game and loves the original NES music and his music brings a wonderful sense of atmosphere while paying homage to the earlier work of Hiroyuki Masuno. [embed]238512:45766:0[/embed] On the potential of bringing Shadowgate to consoles through digital download services. Dave: Certainly that is an area to explore. We’ve talked about the other consoles as well as the upcoming Ouya but really, we would need to complete the game on the promised platforms first. We can always move it to other platforms if the audience is there and demands it. On the future of Shadowgate. Karl: I think the skies the limit for Shadowgate. We have about 25 years’ worth of stories stored in our heads as well as binders of design documents. We would love to bring those tales to both long-time and new Shadowgate fans! ----- The campaign is nearing its end on November 25, 2012. You can venture over to the campaign page and fetch yourself some nice rewards by contributing.
The original creators return to Castle Shadowgate
Man, there was nothing more nerve-wracking than getting stuck in Shadowgate on the NES and seeing those torches fade one after another. It's one of my most vivid gaming memories, though I got stuck mostly due to the quite con...


Take a ride with Ubiktune's Motorway and Interlude

Ubiktune's newest fantastic fusions
Nov 19
// Audun Sorlie
Fancy a swing on the funky road of chiptunes this week? Ubiktune's got you covered with another excellent set of releases on their never-ending chiptune label. Motorway is a jazz-funk chiptune album composed with changing tim...

Review: Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams

Nov 03 // Audun Sorlie
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams (PC [reviewed], PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade)Developer: Black Forest GamesPublisher: Black Forest GamesRelease: October 23, 2012 (PC) / Early 2013 (PSN, XBLA)MSRP: $14.99 Black Forest Games has kept a firm stance on its approach since launching the campaign to have the game formerly known as Project Giana released: to create something unique and exceptional, giving Giana a game that truly feels like her adventure. Giana, now a teenager, is drawn into her dream alongside her sister Maria, and they have become separated. It’s up to Giana to save her sister and escape her dream, but Giana is now grown up -- she is no longer scared of her nightmares and hates the cute, sugary dreams she once used to love. [embed]237125:45511[/embed] So in the center of Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, you’ll find the dream-change mechanic. At the touch of a button, Giana will switch between her twisted nightmare and cute dream, and depending on which she inhabits, she’ll also change her persona. In the twisted dream, “Cute” Giana will twirl and dance her way through the scary world filled with demons, while in the other, “Punk” Giana will bring her fire dash and aggressiveness out to combat the cute owls and sunshine. Switching between these personas is essential. As the dreams mirror each other, obstacles and routes will appear depending on which dream you inhabit, requiring you to switch on the spot to progress or figuring out the best approach to switching between the abilities of the different personas. Some spots call for “Punk” Giana to dash and bounce off walls and enemies, while others call for “Cute” Giana to twirl and glide through the air; there's a good amount of puzzles to solve. At certain intervals, boss battles will appear, also requiring things to be switched up to defeat them. Think Donkey Kong Country 2 and its tag system, just with less monkey business. The difficulty increases steadily as progress is made, and Twisted Dreams also allows for players to go at their own pace. For those who enjoy exploring and treasure hunting, the stages are vast and feature numerous routes. For those who just wants to jump and run, the game still packs a challenge. On a standard run through, it's about 5-6 hours to get to the very end, so it feels a bit on the short side despite its 23 levels however. Throughout each stage, there are also several hundreds of crystals. The blue ones can be picked up by either Giana while red are obtainable by “Punk” and yellow are specific to “Cute.” Reaching these different colored crystals often requires some strategy of interchanging the worlds to reach. Giant mega crystals are also scattered around to be found and collected for secrets. Stages are also able to be replayed after completion to find all the crystals, and extras are rewarded after each stage depending on how many you found and the number of times you died. Some of the secret crystals are damn hard to find, so expect to revisit quite a few of the stages if you want a perfect score. Several new modes can be unlocked based on your completion rate -- "Time Attack," "Hardcore," and "Uber-Hardcore" -- upping the ante and giving you only one shot at clearing a stage, or be sent back to the beginning. A gallery mode is also unlockable. The controls are very responsive, and feel natural once you pick the controller up. Using an Xbox 360 controller, the button layout is properly balanced out to make all the abilities accessible without too much thought or practice, and sign posts on the first few stages will help you get the hang of things. With a keyboard, it's a bit more tricky to get the timing down however, and several sections require some finicky maneuvering that'll bring back memories of the submarine stages of Earthworm Jim so you're really better off using a gamepad to fully enjoy the game. Great Giana Sisters was most famous for its soundtrack by Chris Hülsbeck back in the day, and they brought him back for this to go full circle. Like the dreams, the music will also change when the switch is made. The twisted world features Chris Hülsbeck’s new arrangements and compositions, while the cute features a metal rendition of these tracks by the band Machinae Supremacy. It’s a bit of a risky move to constantly have music change on the fly, but thankfully, they spent time balancing out the arrangements -- the switch is done with a subtle cross-fade. It’s a really great soundtrack, made all the more interesting by it being dynamic and interactive, though it would have been nice to see some more new compositions. Overall, the quality of the soundtrack isn't too hampered by this due to the strength of the music that is in the game. Graphically, the game packs a visual punch and is really aided by the dream-twist mechanic. At the touch of the switch button, the scenery will come alive and transform itself before your very eyes, and changes are made as far as the eye can see. This attention to detail makes the game very fun to interact with, as castles and mountains will grow from the ground in the twisted world, while nature and rivers will flow through the screen in the cute world. The later stages feature some very nice lighting effects, and the textures are clean throughout. The art style is a tad inconsistent between some of the enemies, however, and can range from strangely realistic to overly cartoony. The graphics also introduce some of the game’s more frustrating points, the most apparent being the lack of distinction between foreground and background. Enemies don’t always stand out from the vivid scenery, leading to deaths that feel cheap. Another issue is the fact that certain hazards come to life when the switch between the worlds is made, and might spring up right beneath you, or remain hidden behind a piece of foreground objects. Although it's not too often this happens, it certainly will at certain moments, which will undoubtedly cause some gritting teeth. But issues aside, it is a rather wonderful little platformer at a great price that brings back the joys that were had some 20 years ago. It might not satisfy the needs of action gamers, but for those who appreciate a classic style platformer with plenty of challenge and responsive controls in the vein of Donkey Kong Country and Genesis-era Sonic the Hedgehog, it’s an essential purchase, with plenty of history attached and an ironic twist of fate by breaking new ground with Steam Greenlight and Kickstarter.
Giana Sisters photo
Project Giana finally realized
Giana Sisters is a game that generally incites one response: plagiarism of Super Mario Bros. When Black Forest Games launched its Kickstarter campaign for Project Giana back in July, the intention was to provide gamers the ...


Chibi-tech releases the insane 8-bit Moe Moe Kyunstep

Chiptunes, ponies and Japan
Nov 03
// Audun Sorlie
Some might be familiar with chibi-tech from prior projects such as Chiptuned Rockman where the ever-impressive chiptuner offered a spotless melodic arrangement of "Roll's Theme" that included dialogue constructed entirel...

Epidemic Deluxe rises from the grave

Jay Tholen casts his epidemic on Halloween
Nov 01
// Audun Sorlie
Jay Tholen released an album in 2008 called Epidemic which featured an homage to classic horror movie soundtracks by combining eerie atmosphere and sudden chiptune interactions. But feeling the experience was a bit incom...

Soundtrack Cologne bringing the VGM party to Germany

To health and game music, prost!
Oct 28
// Audun Sorlie
You can be sure a lot of beer will be consumed as Soundtrack Cologne 9.0 is preparing to bring some esteemed videogame music legends together for a round of panels and an exclusive concert over the weekend of November 15-18 a...

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