I page through imaginary genres of video game music for my thoughts in this blog. Which one should I go for? The enourmously epic round of final boss themes from some SNES RPG? Hearing some orchestral wonder for the first time on Playstation 2? But I figured it out, something dark, subtle, and epic, THAT'S what gets to me. So off we go!
Boy howdy do I love this one. Not only is Dark Dizzy one of my favorite Mega Man characters, he has one of the most original themes in the entire mega-series, one that really manages to blend in with his enviornment. The best part of his stage comes when X and Zero travel under the roof of an observatory, and as the get farther through, the various constellations light up above them, only to be replaced by a swarm of enemies. Wheras most other songs in this game start off with a strong, driving beat, this one does things a bit differently. A shake of the chimes and the robust chords of the guitar lends an otherworldy, almost sad feel to this one, like you really are in a cave full of musically talented robot bats. Really. On with the show!
I suppose we had to get to the Shadow of the Colussus phase sometime, but this is it. The calm before the storm. The moment, in the rain, watching the colussus meander on the horizon, not a care in the world. The peace you both shared, before you strike and the battle begins, the tranquility lost like a scattered breeze. It's soothing, and can really have an effect on you. Or at least me. But the best is yet to come.
I put up gameplay footage for this one because the music manages to hit home much better that way. It starts out slow, eerie, like a bunch of whistles in space. And then it hits you, suddenly, the music swells to a climax, the emptiness, everything, gets a +10 for epicness. It's flying through a storm, crowded with clouds, you fly past bursts of lightining, and suddenly, you're in the clear. Nothing is around you except for the starry sky above you and the chasm below. It manages to go hand in hand with the level's pacing. And you know what this galaxy has for a sister theme? FUCKING. BOUY BASE.
Shit just got real, son. At that moment,Super Mario Galaxy 2 peaked for me. Thanks to Bouy Base, I had achieved maximum happiness from this game, and there was nothing nobody could do about it. This level manages to outdo the original, by making it all epic and no filler. There you are, running through the rain, aquatic artillery flying at you, Thwomps thwomping, and you're doing it all IN VINYL. That's right gamers, what you are doing now is unprecedented in the industry, you are, in fact living proof of Cranky Kong's words. No not those words, I'm taking abou- oh, just forget it. That one bit of dialogue where he says all games were in black and white in his day or something.
Couldn't leave out the gratuitous final boss theme, could we? And this one is no exception, Battle in the Heavens, Dragon Quest VIII's final boss theme, pits you in an airborne boss fight against the ginourmous apocalypic fatass Rapthorne. The music manages to balance itself between a building, epic rise and a defusing emotional resolution, something that I really don't notice that much in RPG music. Oh, and you do it all while fighting on top of a giant bird. We love you, Japan, we really do.
One last one for the show. In writing this, I almost forgot about No More Heroes 2 and the surreal epicness it's songs brought to the fight. You're not fighting a babyfaced guy with a flamethrowing battle-axe, you're fighting f*cking Matt Helms, the 23rd best assassin in existence. In a goddam haunted house, in fact, you know the only thing that would make this more epic? House of the Dead 2. Why that one holds a special place in my heart among horror games I don't know.
Ah well, the music our game brings us is something all of us can find joy in, despite all the arguments we seem to have over it. And we still will, years from now, when all Microsoft games require a yearly payment of 60 Russian scars and Nintendo is still kicking ass under Miyamoto's ressurected corpse. But if that's not your jam, you can still be the out-of-it fogie who still thinks Chrono Trigger's soundtrack is cool 17 years from now.
When it comes to bias by game, there is no genre I can more easily, comfortably, and successfully communicate my personal superior opinion than that of the JRPG. Lack of overworld graphics/ random encounters=developer laziness, that one battle theme gets old REALLY FAST (except for you, Dragon Quest), and how the genre lets itself be the punching bag of the industry time and time again. But of all it's tropes and clichès, there is none I loathe more than how the characters line up for a fight. It's lame, I know, but of all the arguments on how videogames could stand to be more realistic, this is the one I choose. I managed to compile a super half assed chart, of how this fighting style is represented in most JRPG series battles.
Outside of a few leaps forward for an attack or three, that is for the most part how battles are conducted in the above JRPGs. And Dragon Quest IX, while belonging to a series that is credited as the grandaddy of all RPGs, manages to break this rut. Even Dragon Quest VIII had you and your foes attacking and lined up in a predictable manner. In games like most Shin Megami Tensei titles or the Mother series, the standard side-view, birds-eye camera was swapped for a more direct first-person view. Oftentimes the difference between's game's battle screens turns them almost into minigenres. Until the switch to 3D, this was the norm in JRPG graphical styles, but come Final Fantasy VII and others, that all changed. Seeing unmoving static sprites was one thing, but seeing your party actively idle for a 10 minute boss fight feels like a kick in the balls to the military part of your brain. Why bother with paralysing spells if your characters are just as frozen with out it? Especially in a series like Final Fantasy, where it doesn't matter how much you'd want to carefully think out your every move and the next three if the group of enemies you were fighting have already ran away and tentacle-raped half the female characters in your party! I just don't get it. I may never get it. Who knows, with shit like Kinect and Move coming up, even with Dragon Quest X coming to the Wii, JRPGs as we, as in, the general public know it, will be in for some long overdue changes, potentially changing the genre forever and for the better. Or it could just be more motion control crap like this:
BWAAAH!!! WHY'D YOU HAVE TO GO AND GET CUT UP BY LUSTY?! AND THEN DIE FOR REALS LATER!? WRRYYYY!
Oh, right, monthly musings, sorry about that.
Aaanywaays, like every person on this site I grew up playing video games. It all started bout 10 years ago when I got my first game to call, a nice copy of Pokemon Silver to this day I think still functions just fine. And like (hopefully) every RPG made, Pokemon Gold/Silver were blessed with the gift of fine-ass music, some of the best that 8-bit had to offer. And then upon progressing to the Advance and listening to the sweet trumpet victuals of the 3rd generation games, for the longest time, the only "RPGs" I ever played. But by then I had gotten a GameCube (sorry, guys, Halo on XBox and Spyro on PS1 were forbidden fruits for me), and was introduced to where the real shit was. Fully orchestrated soundtracks from classics as the likes of Double Dash and Melee, were needless to say, bread and butter for me.
savor that piano, kiddos, savor it
'We're gonna make fucking fighting game history' is what the composers thought
Here I go to the script and how it affected my real life so, why the hell not?
Growing up, other than listening to traditional kids songs, I had almost no experience with actual, vocal artists, but then again, who did in first grade? It wasn't until our souls welled and blossomed within us later were we actually aware of what we were listening to. At least, all the other kids in my class were. Me? I was too busy jacking off to what Tsukasa Tawada had fucking pulled over in Pokemon XD(a fine spinoff, play it sometime), even going so far as to ask one of my classmates, "What's Green Day?" Here's where the tragic part kicks in: years later, after a horrible accident, my sister was burdened with an unholy and vile skill that makes me weep to this day, namely, learning to play the guitar. From thence on, she has transformed into a full-on Gi-tarfag, my sibling loyalty to the point where I shock her awake during the 2009 Spike GOTY Awards to tell her they were making a Green Day Rock Band, only to be rudely reminded of her selfishness when she opened a copy of The Beatles Rock Band, only to let it spend the rest of its days in obscurity.
But then along came a little something called the Internet.
Galbadia Hotel, Youtube, these were gold mines, the riches under the thin crust of shitty webcam and cell phone videos, just waiting to be tapped. I was exposed to countless more series than I ever would have via traditional methods. And like this month's topic, I discovered people's stories linking them and their love to game music. TheOSTation's vast horde of soundtracks, comments dedicating to finding that one sunofabitch who didn't like the song and ripping their ears off, I was a drop in a sea.
Take this one for example. Man, I love the music of the Persona series, but go to any video of this theme, and you're guaranteed to find a story about how they were just about to give up, but then BAM!
6:45 takes it's cue and spurs them to victory. Gripping stuff.
Ooooh! BRAWL!! I almost forgot about you!!! After being held on the end of Sakurai's finger for a year, by the time the game came out, I didn't even care about the cell phone quality of the gameplay footage, I was too gripped by a Youtuber named bdcool187 uploading the better part of the game's soundtrack. I listened to the amazing remixes of the game's main theme, somehow was captivated by Super Mario Kart's theme remix, and drooled over Bramble Blast's orhcestration.
Oh, but I'm not done, not yet. I'll kick it up to eleven, I'l-
Ah, let's give up for now. If I had my way, I probably would have gone on another 3 paragraph tirade about the Mega Man series, but I'll get to that some other time.
Back to the life story. All the time I was glued to hip with Youtube, I was mouthing off about the artists; Taylor Swift and her eyes (A child of Mars! It's the truth, I tell ya!), and what a slut Avirl Lavine sounds like in Imabee. And now to end this with a resounding...
It's nice to know I actually got this month's monthly musings right this time. This Musing was helped by the sounds of:
Mega Man X3 RA
Mega Man: Network Transmission
Donkey Kong Country HD Remix? WAY COOL
Skyward Sword? ONLY THE COOLEST TITLE FOR A ZELDA GAME EVER, SKYDIVING LINK!
3DS OoT? I dunno about this one, I'm more into top down Zeldas anyway.
Kirby's Epic Yarn? LIKE OMG SO KAWAII~!
Sly Collection? YES, fucking loved those games.
Epic Mickey? Indeed it is.
Golden Eye? God, that main theme was so perfectly synched.
Oh god, Miyamoto, that Skyward Sword presentation was funny.
Shit, I have to go to bed. Oh well, way to go, Nintendo, but you missed out on F Zero and Pikmin.
Gosh, I sure hope E3 was great. I wouldn't know, because the date it wen overlapped right over my college summer band camp I wouldn't miss the world for, adding no type of handheld Internet access and a paranoid campus computer security system, and I systematically know absolutely nothing. Yes, I'm an E3 virgin, obsessed with my purity even to the point that I made my sister access my blog page page so I wouldn't suffer any spoilers from the front page. Ah well, but what better to combat this recently acquired inferiority complex than to dive into the scalding pool head-on. Wish me luck, boys, Kimicario, signing off at 10:11 CT.
And as the saying goes,
"Off into the unknown, Sancho! There are giants to be slain!"
Out of the three big titles Nintendo announced at E3 '09, New Super Mario Bros. Wii was the one I was most excited about. Why, well, it was the only one that had a somewhat defined release date. But first, a bit of personal history!
I never was big on Mario as a kid. Actually I was HUGE with Land 2, but that's not the point now. My earliest memories date back to me playing Super Mario Bros. 2 (Doki-Doki) on my neighbor's NES. Then it skips to some frustration about drowning in Super Mario 64 and subsequently being much happier with Yoshi's Story on my cousin's N64. Years later, with the advent of the DS and those nice, kooky commercials showing up, I got a DS for my birthday. But did I get a nice game with it? No, instead I got some shitty Marvel fighter that was only good for fapping to Storm and Paragon's art as a twelve-year-old, that and those weird Venom/ Wolverine crossover pics. A month later when I had gotten past sick of the game I convinced my mother to put up a bid for New Super Mario Brothers on eBay. A week later, my wish was granted, and I had a cute used copy with a save file already at World 3 for me. I deleted it immediately, and I was transported to a game filled with smooth graphics, thorough backtracking, and abuse of the Mini-Mushroom exposition level in World 1 so we could all get to World 7. Damn Thunder Lakitu, but I beat the game, and had a blast combing it inside and out (okay, so I cheated by looking in a guide to find that one coin in World 7, but how were ANY of us supposed to know that was there?!)
Naturally, when a sequel was announced, I was hooked, and what a sequel! A downright fucking awesome propellor, a sliding penguin (Why the Ice Flower was still included, I don't know), and perhaps the newest and most important additions to the series, the ability to pick up and throw things and simultaneous multiplayer. But what impressed me the most was not any of that, but instead, how pristine and wonderful the graphics looked.
This was by far, my favorite game that was revealed at E3. Galaxy 2 seemed light-years away and Other M was just one big speculationfest (Remember me?) It wasn't the detail, but rather the overall appeal of the art style, and how cleverly they applied never-before-seen effects to create one of the best Mario games out there. I just lost myself in how much I wanted to BE in that world, the serene beaches of World 4, the banjo-filled peaks of World 6, even the suicide dragon in World 8, or The Boner Coaster, as DuskGolem aptly put it. The whole game reeked of what was already established in the series. Imagine, if you will, that this game was release before blowing players away with the imagination was what the Mario series was about. You're back in 1990, fighting against the Koopalings as if they had as much personality as the Robot Masters (another blog on that, perhaps?) with crazy powerups and skill, only this time, your _____, who before sat next to you on the ground raptured at your onscreen performance, now holds a controller in his/her/its hand too, ready to join the fray with a helping/hindering hand/shell. All that, and that was before you saw that that helpless captive wasn't Peach, and realizing that the shit was really gonna hit the fan now.
And now to end this with a nice excerpt from one of my co-op moments, our someteenth try on the final boss, an experience filled with triumph, anger, and idolization of that Propellor Suit.
"Okay, when he smashes through the wall, I'll wall jump up above, and you go below to hit the block."
"Got it." "Alright. Okay, here he goeesss...gogogo GOOO!" "Jeez, I'm going, calm down."
"I'm in place. Hurry up and hit the block before he jumps, oh you ASSHOLE!" "Sorry, you took too long."
"No, seriously, fuck you, it was my turn to have the Propellor suit, and you know it." "..You took too long."
"Oh shit, HERE HE COMES! NOOO!" "..." "Thanks a lot. Hurry up and get me out." "Fine, gimme a minu-dammit." "Way to go idiot, now we have no Propellor Suit, there goes this life. Here comes the wave." "Shit, I mistimed that jump, hold on.." "No, don't TURN INTO A BU!" *music slowly slogs to a stop* "..." "..." "Let's...try that again."