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4:14 PM on 11.06.2014

Oscarno Direct, November 2014 (+ some music ♫ )

HEY! I just thought I'd drop in to the ol' Community section Destructoid to let you guys know what the heck is going on in my life and why I've been missing for a solid month and a half, because you guys are cool and I don't want you to feel like I'm abandoning you. So first let's talk about music. lots and lots of music. 

Firstly, BAYONETTA!! I bought the double pack along with Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze (wich also has great music) and honestly ever since I booted up the demo of Bayo 2 I can't get Tomorrow is minie out of my head it's absolutely fantastic oh my gosh!! The jazz influence, the piano, the backing vocals, THAT PART WHERE THEY ALL GO IN SYNC ugh it's glorious. 

I'm blasting through the fist game as much as I can because I just want to listen to that song in game i'm so bloody excited. 

Speaking of Platinum games I only just beat Wonderful 101 after getting it in May. What a rad game. The music is fantastic and although it took me half of the game to finally understand how the combat worked, i had a bunch of fun. And dayum that eding sequence is probably one of the best I've ever experienced, hands down.

ALSO SHOVEL KNIGHT RELEASED IN AUSTRALIA THIS MORNING! Now I know it's been on PC forever, but I really wanted to play it on my WiiU and i've listened to the soundtrack extensively but just hearing Virt's music in game is really magical. Strike the earth gets me so pumped it rocks! (Also in entirely unrelated news how cool does Splatoon look! I'm super keen!)

And hey, in my absence from writing about music, i've acutally been writing my own music! I recently released a little EP about a robot in space. I had a blast making it, it's got some 80s synth ballads, it got some ambience, some chiptunes, some synth rock I think maybe?? So that's a thing you can listen to if you want...

Secondly, let's talk about writing. I know I haven't written a case study or anything or even been around in a while, and i apologise profusely for that. I really enjoy reading everything that comes through the community section of destructoid, and having conversations with you guys but i don't really know what happened... I was in the middle of writing a case study on Hotline Miami, and then i just stopped and now it's a month and a half later... oh wait, nope I figured it out it was Smash Bros. Smash Bros consumed my life. oops. Regardless, I'm here to double apologise.

Firstly for just leaving without reason and secondly because I don't think I'm going to be able continue writing case studies or other long form blogs here :( Don't get me wrong I frickin loved conversing with you guys about video game music, but I'm running low on time and games so I think at least a little time off sounds good for me to conquer the backlog and perhaps work on some more of my own music because I really enjoy that too. We'll see how we go next year, as I'm starting University again, and I'm not sure if I can fit ost case studies into the schedule, but hey you never know. 

I'm going to try and hang around in the coments and stuff because I really want to get back to chatting with you guys it's great so perhaps you'll see me in the comments (especially if you make a music related entry. I'll be there. You know I'll be there.)

But also some exciting news! I might be doing some news / editorial writing for Press Start, an Australian gaming site. So far I've only made one post but i'm pretty excited we'll see what comes of it!.  And that was all because of you guys! Because you are all so supportive and welcoming i've been able to do stuff with my writing here which is so rad. OH Did I tell you that I used a couple of articles form here in an audition I had for University? Frickin none of this would have been possible without your majestic butts guiding me thorugh. So I thank you for that, and I hope I can return the favour one day!. 

Anyway, I just wanted to let you guys know that the community section of Dtoid is super important to me and all of you guys are super cool and hopefully I'll have a little more presence here in the coming months. I'll be sure to check back every day! You guys rock my socks. Have a fantastic day!


4:41 AM on 09.18.2014

Some Smashing Tunes: Choice Music Picks from Super Smash Bros for 3DS

Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is arriving and I'm really excited guys. Not only for a rad portable version of smash, but also for some sick new arrangements of some of the most iconic game music in the history of the universe!! Now, there are people in the world with copies of the full game, and people with access to the demo, and unfortunately I am in neither of these camps, so my impressions of the pieces is form a context outside of the game, who knows there may be some that work really well in the heat of battle but for now, these are some of the tracks i'd like to share from what I've heard so far!


I would like to take a moment to appreciate some of the crazy good music we get as ORIGINAL COMPOSITIONS for this insane crossover arena brawler that is Smash. 

Ever since I heard this arrangement of the main theme in the E3 Trailer in 2013 I've been pining to listen to it in all it's glory and HERE IT IS!! There are so many arrangements o the main theme for this generation of Smash Bros and this is probably my favourite but there are two other arrangements which I would highly reccomend. 

I really like these two arrangements as they take the theme in different directions and stylistically are just groovy I really dig them. 

But the new theme isn't the only original tune that gets some really rad treatments, there's even one for the Melee fans out there...(and it's insane)


There are some really good arrangements for classic Nintendo tunes in Smash Bros for 3DS. These are just some of the arrangements that jumped out at me and there are so many more that I'd love to talk about but there's no time for that LET'S GO!


1. Megaman 2 Title / Dr Wily Stage 2 - Megaman 2 I mean you just can't pass up a good metal arrangement especially when it's an official one and ESPECIALLY especially if it's Megaman. 

2. Stage Select - Pikmin I'm a fan of the pikmin games and their music is really charming in a nonsensical, disconcerting kind of way. This is just a really lovely arrangement of some lovely music. 

3. Bath Time (Vocal Mix) - Nintendogs When a short sample of this went up on the website I enjoyed it immediately and I was really confused as to why people weren't talking about it because it's a great arrangement of a really nifty tune. 

4 Ground Theme - Super Mario Bros. IT'S A HALF DECENT ARRANGEMENT OF THE ORIGINAL MARIO THEME!! AND IN A SMASH BROS GAME NO LESS!! I'm so glad they did this. I was a bit bummed from Mushroomy Kindom in Brawl, but this just brings it right back to where it belongs. 

Gerudo Valley - Ocarina Of Time OH MY GOLLY GOSH THIS IS THE ARRANGEMENT EVERYONE HAS BEEN WAITING FOR!!! Ever since I heard the original Gerudo Valley music when I was 8 I have wanted to hear an arrangement just like this and this delivers in spades. We finally have a definitive version of the Gerudo Valley music, guys. We did it. Video Games are over.

Obviously there are so many more pieces and arrangements which I'd love to talk about but I thought I'd try to keep this as short as I possibly could. So tell me, what are some of your favourite pieces from the Smash Bros series!? If you have the game, or the demo, or have listened to more of the new tracks, what are some of your favrouite additions!? I'd love to hear your selections!! HAPPY SMASHING EVERYONE!


11:14 PM on 09.11.2014

OST Case Study: Limbo

In July of 2010, Playdead's game "Limbo" hit the XBox Live Marketplace. It's striking visual style and effective use of storytelling through gameplay was enjoyed my critics and consumers alike. It received various accolades and was recognised by many large publications such as Time, Wired and the Toronto Sun, who all placed the game in their top 10 lists for the year. Martin Stig Andersen was the Composer and Sound Designer for the game. Andersen decided to take a more non-traditional route in terms of sound and music when it came to Limbo. The background tracks the player hears in game aren't the typical sounds you'd expect from a video game, but they suit the game incredibly well. The music of Limbo, however isn't where the audio shines most, the Sound Effects and how they mesh with all other aspects of the game are what make the audio experience of Limbo so captivating.

One of Limbo's most recognisable features is the black and white silhouetted visual style, and Andersen's music simultaneously creates a great reflection and a strong juxtaposition of this. The sounds are vague, with not real beginning or end. They all blend together to create a general harmonic sense rather than a strict harmony or melody. This compliments the visuals as they are only defined from their outlines and otherwise blend together. The background is out of focus, with the player only able to notice the objects there if they purposefully pay attention to them. However, the music is rich with texture and harmony. Although it lacks definition, there is a lot of subtlety and purposeful use of timbre within the sounds. There are layers upon layers and many variations of tone. In this way, the music is the direct opposite of the visuals. Where the graphics are sharp and absolute, the sound is soft and unsure, this juxtaposition seems to give the world more depth and gives the player a feeling that there is much more lurking in what cannot be seen on screen.

The music only makes up one part of the overall auditory experience of Limbo, however, as the sound effects play a very important role in the game. As stated before, the game's visual style doesn't allow for much detail to be given about the game's environment. No texture, no colour, no reflection just silhouette. Although when playing the game, the player has a strong sense of the materials of the objects they're interacting with, along with their weight and various other properties. This is all thanks to the magnificent sound effects implemented throughout the game. Every sound in Limbo helps to paint the world the player is traversing through. This is a great example of the game giving the player information through sound without having to sacrifice the visual style or include impeding narration or dialogue. Not only this, but the sounds that objects produce in the game often play a key role in the puzzles within the game. A sound might signify an object has dropped off screen, or that a magnetic surface has bee turned on or off. All of these instances of sound within the game allow for a fluid, exploratory experience for the player and is just one of the reasons the game feels so cohesive.

Limbo's audio gives the player two types of information pertaining to the game world. Firstly, a very general, vague sense of atmosphere, provided by the background score, and secondly a very specific aural representation of objects within the world, giving it detail and allowing the player to identify sound effects with similar sounds in the real world. One piece of information that Andersen purposefully excluded however, was emotional information. This was an intentional choice from the game's director, Arnt Jensen. Andersen says in an interview with DesigningSound that he wanted to
"to avoid music that would manipulate the emotions of the player". This choice gave the game an entirely new dimension. All emotional interpretation was left solely to the player. There was no score to instruct them how to feel about a particular event, all the information was just presented to them as plainly as possible. This is probably one of the most important artistic choices the team could have made and it certainly turned out for the better, as it reinforced the melancholy nature of the game, and gave the player the agency to interpret things for themselves rather than have the game give them the "correct" emotional response.

Overall, sound plays an incredibly important role in "Limbo". It gives the player all the information about the game world they need, without sacrificing gameplay or visual style. The music both reflects and contradicts the visuals, giving the game world definition and depth. Limbo provides a unique take on music and sound within a video game, giving emotional ambiguity and a strong auditory identity.

What do you think? Did you find Limbo's music to add or detract from your overall experience of the game? What are you expecting for Playdead's next title, "Inside"? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Also be sure to check out the full interview with DesigningSound it's a great read.


7:28 PM on 08.28.2014

10 things about Oscarno's intro blog.

1.This is it right here right now!!
I've been posting my articles here in DToid's community section for a while and I only just now realised that I haven't even introduced myself, so I'm doing it now let's go!

2.I am way into music. 
If there is something making a noise I'm going to listen to it, no matter what. Be it a Beethoven symphony, or nails on a blackboard, I want that sound to get into my brain right now. I'll literally listen to any genre of music and enjoy it...yes, even country. There's so much to be learned about culture and emotion and society and everything else through music. I love that it's a crazy nebulous thing that no one will ever truly grasp, and there will always be new things to learn about it and new ways to experience it it's just great. 

(2.5 I am way into video game music.) This all ties into why I love Video game music. Good video game music is there to enhance a players experience within a game, be it through sparse soundscapes, or a constant barrage of death metal it's all there to add to the greater experience of the game and it's fantastic. The interactivity, the genre variance, the ways the music changes in new and interesting ways are just some of the ways VGM beats out most other media soundtrack-wise. It's crazy interesting and it's great to see the interesting new ways people take music with new gameplay concepts or ridiculous premises UGH VGM IS SO GREAT DO YOU UNDERSTAND THIS@!?!?

3.I come from a land down under. 
I live in Australia, where the winters are warm and the summers are just ridiculous honestly. There are pros and cons to living on the worlds largest dustbowl, The weather is great most of the time, but we have to wait forever for some stuff to release here. We get some of the perks of being lumped in with the PAL localisation for games, but most games cost $80 off the shelf. We have some of the greatest endemic fauna and flora ever, but most of it will kill you if you as much as sniff in it's direction (just kidding, everything is peaceful please visit). 

4.My IRL name is Oscar. 
It's hard to believe I know but if you try really hard you might get used to it eventually. (PS I am not a dog, I know like 80% of the worlds dogs are called Oscar but I promise I am not a dog, definitely a human not a dog. My uncle is a dog but that's not here nor there.)

5.I listen to way too many podcasts. 
Currently in my iTunes I have over 600 podcast episodes I need to listen to, and it's brilliant. There's nothing I enjoy more than cramming my head with as much useless knowledge as possible on my commutes. Be it about VGM, science, fantasy stories, business or whatever if people talk passionately about it I'll probably listen to it. 

6.I'm way into making music. 
No this is not the same as No. 2 and no I'm not running out of ideas shut up. But seriously I really enjoy playing as many instruments as I can get my hands on and making sounds and recording them and putting them on the internet. I've made some music for short student films along with some random other stuff( you can find it all here) I started writing music in 2010 and haven't looked back. My dream is to one day be able to live off making music, be it for Video games, in a performance type deal, or whatever, if I get to be making music for my job I'll be stoked. (also be sure to keep an eye on that soundcloud because there might be some exciting stuff coming sooooon!!)

7.My age is a secret. 
Just kidding I'm 19 hahahahaha joke's on you. 

8.My face is a secret. 
Don't go looking for it you won't find anything. Actually even with the most basic search you'll probably find my face, but for now I shall remain a friendly blue Pikmin. I have no reason for doing this i just like blue pikmin??

9.I Like Nintendo. 
I've got nothing against any consoles, if it provides you with the games you want to play then I implore you to absolutely love the shit out of your console. For me, I really enjoy nintendo's games. I'm bummed that I haven't been able to experience Journey or The Last of Us yet but hey, maybe I'll pick up a Playstation TV once they release so I can finally sink into those sweet sweet games. Or I'll just visit a friends place or something i don't know I'll figure it out jeez get off my case. Anyway, Nintendo has a bunch of great stuff I enjoy playing on my own and with family and friends (plus i have a rudimentary PC for everything else). Also the music, don't forget about nintendo music. 

10. Let's be friends!
If you wanna have a chat about anything you can contact me on twitter or send me a message on soundcloud or if you want to play games or something you're more than welcome to add me on Steam or the Nintendo Network I believe all the deets are in the sidebar just to the right!!

Anyway thanks for reading things about me I'm flattered you managed to get all the way to the end congrats! Sorry for taking this long to introduce myself but I'm glad I did hooray!!   read

11:55 PM on 08.21.2014

The Sound of Speed: A look at the Music of Sonic The Hedgehog

Since it's beginnings in 1991, Sonic the Hedgehog has become one of the most recognisable characters in video games. The franchise has certainly  gone through it's ups and downs as it's grown older, but to many it still retains it's charm. The general tone of the games has also shifted throughout the years. Initially, the franchise began as direct competition to Nintendo's Mario franchise, targeting a more edgy, teen audience. Eventually this evolved into a weirdly mature tone and kind of got lost when Sonic made the move to 3D based games. Recently, however, the franchise has taken a turn for the better, with games like Generations, Colours and Lost World getting praise from reviewers and players alike. But I believe that it's more than just the games' designs and gameplay that have changed over the years, the music has shown a strong reflection of the games' tones an has also hinted at their target audience. In this article, we'll be taking a look at the music of the mainline sonic franchise and discussing how it has changed and grown with the franchise as a whole. 

The very first Sonic game was released on the SEGA Genesis / Megadrive in 1991.  It utilised the consoles sound chip in a way few games had done before. It's utilisation of the crisp drum kit sounds and the clear bass by composer Masato Nakamura gave the game a distinct sound that gave it a strong identity in the video game landscape at the time. A year later, Sonic 2 was released with a similar sound as it's predecessor, but relying slightly more on the capabilities of the FM chip within the console producing sounds less synonymous with 8bit music.  1994 saw saw the 3rd instalment of the Sonic franchise released, Sonic 3 & Knuckles (which I'm going to be tackling as one game because honestly after all these years I still can't wrap my head around how they're different games but the same game in 2 carts that lock onto each other????). Nakamura was reportedly assigned to the project but dropped due to financial disagreements.  There are many composers credited to the creation of Sonic 3's soundtrack but undoubtedly the most intriguing name on the list is Michael Jackson, who later denied claims that he had worked on the music for the game, spurring one of the biggest musical mysteries in video game history as there were many tracks which seemed eerily similar to some of Jackson's later work. 

However controversial Sonic 3 and Knuckles' soundtrack may be, there was a Sonic game released a year prior which had a much larger affect on the music of the Sonic franchise as a whole.  Sonic CD was released on the SEGA CD in 1993 and featured a soundtrack with "CD quality Audio" thanks to the system's new hardware. But the fun doesn't stop there, Sonic CD has 2 soundtracks, one for the Japanese /  European version of the game and one for the American version.  Most people argue that the Japanese soundtrack is the better of the two, and i can certainly see why, but the American soundtrack did something that would change the sound of Sonic the Hedgehog forever. 

Sonic Boom marked an important transition in the music of Sonic the Hedgehog. Following the release of Sonic CD, the blue blur's games would no longer try to compete with the cheerful quirkiness of Mario's instrumental tracks, instead there would be an emphasis on energetic vocal tracks to accompany the games. 

The SEGA Saturn didn't see many new releases in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. A Port of Sonic 3D Blast was released in 1996 with a jazz influenced soundtrack from Richard Jaques with the vocal track "You're my Hero" playing over the credits, Sonic X-Treme was set to release the following year but was cancelled, leaving only Sonic Jam (a compilation of the genesis games) and Sonic R, an on-foot racing game featuring all vocal tracks when racing. 

In 1998 SEGA released it's Dreamcast entry into the Sonic series, Sonic Adventure. The musical centrepiece for this game was "Open Your Heart" a grungey garage rock song, epitomising the cultural relevancy the Sonic franchise was now striving for. The soundtrack from Jun Senoue utilised a heavy guitar and rock feel throughout, grounding the tone and target audience for the game. Fast forward 3 years and Sonic Adventure 2, SEGA's last 1st party Sonic game is released. Once again the guitar laden rock song, "Live and Learn" stands as the main musical pillar of the game, greeting players as they boot up the game and in the Final battle along with the credits. Senoue returned for SA2 and took much of the same tone as the first Sonic Adventure game, with many vocal tracks throughout the game.


After SEGA left the hardware market, there was a decline in the quality of Sonic releases. Games like Sonic Heroes, Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic 06 were just not of the quality players had come to expect. Similarly the music was generally uninspired and largely didn't change. Over almost 10 years, the music in sonic games was the same as Sonic Adventure 2, grungey distorted pop punk tracks headlined a soundtrack that had far too much teen angst in it. But in 2008, a new sonic game burst onto the scene and seemed promising. 

Sonic Unleashed finally diverged form the tired old musical formula sonic had become attached to for so long. Sure, the tacky Bowling for Soup title song form Bowling for Soup form Bowling for Soup was still there, but the attitude was different. The main music of the game wasn't all distorted guitars, the lead composer Tomoya Ohtani took inspiration from real world locations and cultures and infused it with the high octane feel that a Sonic game needed. The Werehog sections of the game weren't very well received, but their jazzy, noir tunes fit them to a T.   In 2010 Sonic Colours was released to surprising critical acclaim. Continuing the pattern of title songs, the synth pop tune, "Reach for the Stars" accompanied the game, but wasn't seen outside the opening sequence. The composing team for Sonic Colours captured the reckless, and adventurous nature of the game along with it's lighthearted tone. With Colours being one of the best received modern Sonic games, things were looking up for the fastest thing alive. 

2013 saw the latest release in the long running series of Sonic the Hedgehog. Released exclusively for WiiU, Sonic:Lost world received mixed reviews for it's new take on gameplay and level design. The music for the game, however was something very special. Finally, after over 10 years of being help captive by a generic title pop tune, Sonic was free. A Fully orchestrated score and well developed themes made the music to Lost World finally feel impactful and not pandering to cultural relevance or marketing effectiveness. Tomoya Ohtani's music finally gave the franchise some respect and it definitely shows. Each environment has fitting music and the themes see development and are reinforced throughout the game. Heck, there's even a track which pays homage to Astor Piazzolla!

The Sonic franchise has certainly been through it's highs and it's lows, but it seems that as of late, the series is finally finding a way to provide exciting and entertaining music without trying to be the cool kid on the block. What are your thoughts? Do you think the music of recent instalments is an improvement on the original genesis tracks? Or do you believe that the sweet sound of the FM synth will always have a special place in gaming? Where would you like to see the music of Sonic go next? What are some other Sonic games you believe shaped the musical landscape of the series? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Of course there are so many sonic games and details that I just didn't have time to cover, so if there are any you'd like to discuss, feel free to bring them up in the comments!   read

10:34 PM on 07.31.2014

OST Case Study: Metal Gear Rising: Revengance

Developed by Platinum games, Metal Gear Rising: Revengance acts as a side story to the Metal Gear series of games. Taking place 4 years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Revengance follows Raiden as he fights against the Private Military Company, Desperado Enforcement. Revengance's gameplay is distinctly more action focussed than the main line Solid series, and the music reflects this. The score was composed by Jimmy Christopherson and audio directed by Naoto Tanaka.  The music is more focussed on heavy metal, electronic tracks rather than the soft pulsing tense tracks found in the Solid series. Even though the music is in a completely different style to the Solid series, there are still some musical and gameplay elements which carry through to Revengance, and these help to strengthen the correlation between the two games.  One of the most memorable facets of Revengance, both musically and overall are the boss battles, which provide some of the most pumping tracks in the game. 

Where Metal Gear Solid takes inspiration from spy movies such as James Bond, Revengance references fast paced action flicks packed with explosions and cheesy one-liners, and the music follows this to a T.  During combat, bombastic percussion and distordet guitars accompany Raiden as he carves through enemies. But the sound isn't strictly orchestral, a large majority of the score is dominated by electronic sounds. Heavy electronic drum kits and thumping baselines accompany the more traditional sounds or the orchestra. There's no doubt that the electronic sounds were a very diliberate choice to reflect the game's strong focus on cyborg technologies. Practically every character in Revengance is either affiliated with cyborgs or a cyborg themselves, with some of them just being pure robots. The synergy between electronic sounds and traditional instruments in the score reflects some of the game's underlying theme's well, as the balance between man and machine is constantly shifting . 

But the game isn't in an eternal combat state. There are times when the action is low and stealth and exploration are at the forefront. It's a these moments, when the Metal Gear DNA rises to the surface. Like the Solid series, Revengance utilises a stealth system with Caution and Alarm states along with the default undetected state. When undetected, the music is low and pulsing, providing tension and energy, but not pushing the player to do act out. When detected, the music picks up, and informs the player that enemies are actively looking for them, and in the final Alarm state, the music really kicks off into a full fledged combat track, to accompany the player as they must eliminate the threat to move through the level. This technique of gradually adding onto the score as the gameplay requires it is called a Layered Score. It's useful as it allows the music to change as rapidly as the gameplay does and appropriately accompany the actions the player is taking. But the layered score isn't just used for the stealth system in Revengance, it's also used in the boss  battles. 

Revengance's boss battles are absolutely out of this world. The game itself is utterly ridiculous, with Raiden slicing entire planes in half and using swords the size of skyscrapers, but the boss battles turn all of this up to 11. The music of the boss battles takes the idea of the layered score and uses it in such a way that fits the fights perfectly. As the sequence begins, the music is already pumping pretty hard, but was the fight continues and the boss goes through different phases, layers are added onto the music which peaks when finally vocals are added. Vocal tracks aren't something we hear in video games often, but Revengance uses them as a reward for the player finally overcoming the main adversaries of the game.  These tracks are non-stop walls of sounds and the vocals are just catchy and memorable enough that the player can sing along to them as the final blow strikes and the battle ends. This amplifies the players involvement and allows them to feel accomplished especially in such a cutscene and story driven game. 

Metal Gear Rising: Revengance's soundtrack is truly something to behold. It's full on nature and breakneck pace makes it very memorable. It's twist in genre from the main Metal Gear series allows this game to have a strong identity on it's own while still holding it's ties to Metal Gear Solid. It's unique use of vocal tracks give the player a true sense of involvement in the game and manages to take it's ridiculous amount of action even further. 

What do you think? Did you enjoy the vocal tracks in the boss battles? or did they distract you from the action? Was the Metal Gear Solid balance too strong? or perhaps not strong enough? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences with the game.   read

12:50 AM on 07.25.2014

OST Case Study: Dishonored

In 2012 Arkane studios released their much anticipated 1st person stealth adventure game, Dishonored. Set in Dunwall, a dystopian port city with strong 19th Century London and steampunk influences, the player is thrust into the role of Corvo Attano, a bodyguard of the empress framed for her murder. The game also utilised a system called "Chaos", if the game was played stealthily and with few casualties, the overall chaos would stay at a low level, but if the player decided to kill everyone in sight and not sneak around at all, the chaos would become high. These outcomes meant that future levels would include a different number of enemies and different endings could be reached. The music of the game was composed by Daniel Licht, the composer for the TV series Dexter and the games Silent Hill: Downpour, and Silent Hill: Book of Memories. Licht's work on Disohonored is inspired by the Dickensian setting, with soft drones and ambiances accompanied by harsh tones of classical instruments played in unconventional ways.  It's integration into the world is also rather interesting, as it doesn't directly reference what's on screen, but rather becomes an ambience that can sometimes deceive the player. When combined with the game's striking visual style and world steeped in lore, Dishonored's score really shines. 

One of the core elements of music is timbre (pronounced: tam-ber, weird I know). This refers to the quality of a musical sound, independent of it's pitch or intensity. Essentially, it's like describing the flavour of a sound. For example, one might describe a heavily distorted guitar as Harsh, coarse, gritty or piercing, or an oboe as woody, reedy or croaky. In Dishonored, Licht does two things to give his pieces a great variety of timbre; firstly, he uses conventional instruments in unconventional ways to great effect, secondly he uses some more unconventional instruments in order to create some effective sounds. 

Throughout the score, there are a few sounds which stand out to me which take full use of timbre. There are many electronic tones which creep into the mix at points, and these always provide that extra colour that couldn't be provided from acoustic instruments, their alien nature and vagueness add a great sense of mystery to the music. One of the key instruments of the score is the Violin. It's used in various different ways throughout the score but one of it's most effective uses is in the Main Theme, as it plays harmonics and sliding the notes up and down, mimicking the cries of the whales the city of Dunwall uses as their energy source. The hammered dulcimer is really in the spotlight of this score though, being used very liberally throughout. It's tinny, ringing quality cuts through the mix and really ties everything together. It's sound is somewhat reminiscent of it's descendant, the harpsichord, and this parallel helps solidify the similarities and differences of the real world London, which saw great growth during the time of the harpsichord and the alternate universe city of Dunwall. Most of the sound adds to this, in fact, as the real world stringed instruments accompanied by modified and electronic instruments gives a sense of distant familiarity which really helps to build the world the player is exploring. 

The way the music is implemented is quite unconventional but yields some surprising effects when playing. Most of the time, all the player will hear are diegetic sounds, sounds which are coming form the environment they are in. This is fantastic for a stealth game, as the player has to constantly be aware of their surroundings and since a TV or monitor don't give full 370° vision, sound is the best way to inform the player of what is going on off camera. But where most games will use this to reinforce what the player is doing within the world, Dishonored does just the opposite.  When the player is exploring a particular section of the world or hiding underneath a dining room table, music may fade in. The effect the music has depends on the player's mental state at the time, if they are freely exploring then it may give them a sense of drive and purpose as they edge closer to their goal, if they are trying to stay hidden in a claustrophobic space, it may give them the sense that something is happening and they might get caught. This unorthodox implementation of the music really shows that Licht and the entire sound team put a lot of thought into how sound and music works with Dishonored and created an auditory experience that immerses the player into the experience the game is providing. 

The music is especially designed for this as well. Sure there's music for when combat breaks out and that is percussion heavy and it builds the sense of tension and adrenaline within the game, but the other than that the music is ambient, sparse and mysterious, which compliments the setting, characters and overall atmosphere than prevails over much of the game. 

Overall, Dishonored's music and sound show that the team put great thought into how it would affect the players experience. The unpredictability of the music and it's mystique allow it to continue surprising the player and keeping them on edge and always aware of what is happening in the game. Also, the designers knew when to keep music out of the picture, which makes it so much more effective when it creeps up on the player. The use of unusual timbres gives the score plenty of character and makes the world so much more believable. 

What do you think? Should music have played a more prominent role in the game? Did the unpredictability keep you on edge, or make you feel unimportant? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

If you want to hear more on Dishonored's music, check out this episode of Top Score!   read

10:21 PM on 07.17.2014

Oscarno's Most Anticipated Noises from Games!

So I wasn't able to write a Case Study last week, and I really didn't want to go 2 weeks without posting anything, so here is a quick little thing I thought up 20 seconds ago, Oscarno's most anticipated noises from games (as of July 18th 2014)! So I'm going to pick some soon to be released games and talk about why I'm so excited to get those sweet sound waves right up into my temporal lobe! So let's get stuck into it!

Super Smash Bros. for WiiU / 3DS

I'm not going to lie, I'm going to be getting both versions of this game and I'm a little ashamed of it. But I can't help myself! There's so much great music that is crammed into the Smash Bros games that I have to experience as soon as possible! Also, with the different versions having exclusive stages, there are going to be some tracks that just aren't going to be in both games. The remixes and re-imaginings of so many nintendo tunes is always something to look forward to. I'm a little anxious though, as in most of the gameplay we've seen so far, there hasn't been a whole lot of original music, just recycled tracks from Brawl...I really hope the soundtrack isn't all recycled because that would just be really disappointing, I mean, just listen to that new theme it's magnificent! But hey, I'm optimistic Sakurai is up to his mischievous ways so we can all be blown away by all the new music we're going to be hearing come the end of this year. 

Hyrule Warriors

Is this the final name? Because it was a working title when they announced the game, but now they have full title graphics and everything? Either way I don't mind I think the name is pretty neat, BUT WE'RE NOT HERE TO TALK ABOUT NAMES, WE'RE HERE TO TALK ABOUT RAD MUSIC!!! It was only when I watched the above trailer that it finally clicked in my head that we are going to get some gnarly renditions of Zelda themes, and not just a few picked here and there. If this game is going through as much Zelda chronology as I'm hoping we are going to get a whole lot of music inspired by a whole lot of Zelda games. Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword, Ocarina of Time, Link to the Past, Wind Waker...Minish Cap??? Eh probably not the last one, but a guy can dream. I'm really excited to hear some of the most recognised music in gaming played on some distorted guitars and backed by an orchestra. It's going to be righteous. 

The Grim Fandango

I never got to play Grim Fandango, and I've never really looked into the soundtrack, but when I heard this game was being remastered I nearly flipped out. I am so excited to get myself all up in this game. As one of the first games to have a full CD soundtrack release (at least in the west) there's no doubt this is going to be one hell of a ride. I'm curious as to whether the soundtrack is going to be remastered along with the game, or if they'll just use the original recordings. Personally I'm hoping they'll re-record everything, because hey, if you're remastering a game, you may as well remaster it's music right?

90s Arcade Racer

This game seems to have flown under most people's radar, but not mine! I'm pretty sure it's federal law that every movie cinema in Australia has at least 2 Daytona USA cabinets. I've grown up with the sound form those machines ringing in my ears and I can't wait to see what this game might have to offer musically. Taking inspiration Daytona USA and various other cabinets, my bet is it's going to be fast, loud and outa sight. Without a doubt I'll be picking up this title and rockin out for hours on end. 


Splatoon was a surprise to pretty much everyone when it was shown at this year's E3 and I have to say I was charmed form the beginning. Arena shooter? cool. On the WiiU? cool! With Squid people? HOT DANG! There seems to be some serious Jet Set Radio influence coming through here and that excites me to no end, the developers even said they imagine the music is part of the game's world and is what the characters would listen to! I am so excited to hear the tubular tunes coming form this game. Oh my gosh it's going to be Squid Punk. Yeah. Squid Punk. 

So those are 5 games which I am super excited about, and looking back it seems most of them are either Re-imaginings or Nintendo games...huh. Obviously there are so many more games that I'm excited about: Hyper Light Drifter, Rainworld, Monster Hunter 4G, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (omg i'm kidding settle down) and like a billion others, but what I'm most excited about are the surprises. Those games I go into not expecting anything and being absolutely blown out of the water, into space and onto a distant planet made out of Cheetos. Also, Im excited to hear YOUR most anticipated game noises!!! So tell me, tell all of us!!   read

12:39 AM on 07.04.2014

OST Case Study: Animal Crossing Series

The Animal Crossing  series is a charming, beloved franchise which began with the Japan only N64 release of the original game in 2001. It was then released internationally on the Gamecube the following year. In 2013, following the releases of Wild World (DS, 2005) and City Folk (Wii, 2008),  Animal Crossing: New Leaf was released internationally on the Nintendo 3DS.  Widely regarded as the best release in the franchise, it was a great success and an enjoyable game for long time Animal Crossing devotees and newcomers alike. Anyone who has spent any significant amount of time with Animal Crossing will tell you that it is cute, charming, funny, and strangely addictive. This is thanks to the lovely stylised visuals, the thoughtful and witty writing and of course, the music. Kazumi Totaka was a composer for the first two games in the series, and sound director for the subsequent games. The music plays an integral part in the games' overall construction, as there is music playing almost 100% of the time. It's the way the music is treated to work in this very delicate circumstance that makes it truly unique. 

As you may or may not know, the Animal Crossing games run in real time. If a real world hour passes, an in game hour passes. If the sun is setting outside, it's probably setting in the game, whether you have it turned on or not. Now, a real time clock is nifty and all, but it's how the music works in conjunction with this clock that really makes it something special. At the top of every hour, after the town hall bell chimes, a tune will start to play. This tune is different for each hour of the day and plays continuously until the next hour arrives. On paper, this might sound like it'd get horribly tedious and repetitive, but these pieces are created with short phrases, which bounce around various different instruments which keeps the pieces from becoming stale too fast. In this way they are much more akin to a small ditty rolling around the back you your head instead of listening to a song on loop for an hour. 

But the hourly soundtrack also creates some interesting and unexpected things when playing the game. Given the game's nature, they player may return every day, or every few days to check on their town. Generally, people will check at similar times every few days or as their schedule allows. When players do this, they will be playing with the same piece accompanying them. This subconsciously establishes a routine in the player's mind and provides a sense of familiarity whenever they enter their town. This also means that if the player enters their town at a different time, the music will be different, and this will create the feeling that something different may be occurring in the town, or that the town has a different feel to the player's regular visit time. 

Another interesting side effect of the hourly rotating soundtrack is the sense of time and progression the player gets through the music. If the player plays through the turn of the hour, or for over an hour, the music will change which gives the player a subtle and instinctive indication of time passing. No clock faces have to pop up on screen, no alarms have to go off, a simple change in the music gives the player a sense of time passing. This works especially well when the player completes their final task for the day on the hour, and the music changes to bid them farewell. This is all part of the charm that makes Animal Crossing such a dear game to so many people. 

Of course, the hourly music doesn't play in all locations. All of the key buildings in a village, such a shops, the museum and the town hall all have their own music. Once again, as these locations all have their own dedicated tunes, they all feel more and more familiar the more you visit them. In addition to this, places like Nook's store and the flower shop have pieces which change as they do. As these shops grow and acquire more merchandise, their music grows and changes to reflect their new atmosphere and attitude. 

The Animal Crossing games also have a small amount of music customisation, as the player can set the town tune in the town hall. This small passage will act as the town clocks bell, as the entrance bells to most buildings and will also play when the player talks to one of their villagers. Each villager, however, will have their own spin on the town tune and it will play in a unique way for each villager. Some will be lilting and lyrical, where others might be abrasive and dissonant. This small detail adds a whole layer of character onto each of the villagers and instantly let's you know what they're all about and what kind of character they are. But there's one character in particular which has some very interesting ties with music. 

K.K. Slider is a musical dog which gives performances in each of the Animal Crossing games. In earlier games he played on Saturday nights in the cafe below the museum, but in New Leaf he is the headline DJ at Club LOL. K.K. plays many different songs which are eventually available as records for the player and other villagers to own and play in their own homes. K.K. has some interesting real world connections though, as it is said that K.K. Slider is an analogue for the series' Sound Director, Kazumi Totaka. The special conditions for seeing a K.K. concert in earlier games made his presence almost mythical, and when you finally caught one it really did feel like a special occasion. K.K. reinforces the parallel between the Animal Crossing world and our own, giving the game more character and charm and bringing the music of the game to the player's attention. 

There's no doubt that the Animal Crossing series has done some special and interesting things with music along with game design. It's hourly rotation of music creates an atmosphere I've never experienced in any other video game and it manages to give the player so much information through sound alone. 

What do you think? Do you have a favourite Animal Crossing tune? How do you think K.K.'s presence affects the game? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Also, there's so much music in the Animal Crossing games, I just wasn't able to get it all, so if there's a musical aspect of AC you want to talk about, feel free to chat about it in the comments.   read

11:46 PM on 06.26.2014

OST Case Study: Transistor

[Caution! What you are about to read contains story spoilers about Transistor, so if you want to keep it fresh, go finish the game and come back later. Seriously, you'll be kicking yourself if you read this before you play the game.]

The first OST Case Study I ever wrote was on Supergiant's 2011 release, Bastion. Here we are nearly 4 months later with Supergiant's latest work, Transistor. Once again, Darren Korb has managed to work his magic on this game as his signature sound rings throughout. The city of Cloudbank is paired with memorable and unique sounds and music which match the cyberpunk tone of the game very well.  Not only that, but it also aids in presenting the Noir-esque story to the player, setting solemn moods and developing to greatly reflect the story. Once again, Korb and Supergiant have created a game in which the music is deeply entwined with the setting and story and allows the game to be taken to new heights. 

When I first hear about Transistor, I was intrigued as to how Darren Korb's music would fit with the overall setting and style of the game. Bastion was set in a country like setting post calamity, and the guitars and heavy percussion used in the game seemed to reflect those two aspects of the setting very well.   I wasn't sure how the music would adapt to this new, more sci-fi setting. But the truth is, the music still remains similar to Bastion, but still fits extremely well. The electronic percussion instead of representing the destruction of the world, now symbolises  the city of Cloudbank, and the strong emphasis of guitar is attached to the human element of Red and the other characters who still remain in the city. Strangely enough, the complete 180° turn in setting has allowed the music to remain very much in the style of Korb (two games might not be much to base a "style" off but hey let's just go with it). This makes me very curious about what we might see next from Supergiant and Korb. Will it be a complete departure from what we're used to? or will we see a further evolution on their signature style.  But given Transistor was only released a month ago, it might be a little early for thoughts such as these. 

The story of Transistor revolves around the main protagonist, Red. A former singer who had her voice stolen from her who is determined to stop the robotic "Process" form taking over Cloudbank.  Red's former occupation as a popular performer in Cloudbank has some interesting implications on the game's music. For one, the player can press a button at any point in the game to make Red stand still and hum along to the music, providing both the character and the player some respite form the hostile environment they are traversing through. In addition to this, there are various Backdoors in Cloudbank which lead to the Sandbox, a small island with doors which lead to various challenge rooms. This island provides a larger rest point for the player as it's challenge rooms are purely player driven challenge. One of the more interesting aspects of the Sandbox are the Hammock and the Duke box. Upon completing a challenge, the Duke box will have a piece of music added to it's library, and the Hammock provides a place for players to sit and listen to the music or the characters reflections on the current situation in Cloudbank. It's certainly nice to have a quiet place to listen to the game's music, but it's the game's songs which really add that extra layer of depth onto the game's music. 

Red, being until recently a very popular musical performer in Cloudbank has a special connection with the city. Throughout the game, the player can see posters of Red plastered on walls, and Red even visits the stage she used to perform on. This reinforces Red's musical background to the player as they play the game.  However, it is clear to the player that Red is incapable of signing as they play so the yearning to hear her voice, and it's not long until they hear a performance from Red. But as it is abundantly clear that Red cannot sing in her current state, these must be flashbacks to her previous performances. These song flashbacks play during some boss battles and other key moments throughout the course of the game. These songs reinforce the current situation Red is in as the lyrics often reflect Red's feelings towards the situation at hand. Along with strengthening the mood and tone of a given scene, these songs also provide a strong addition to the game's lore, letting the player in on what Cloudbank was like before the Process outbreak. All of this world and character building ultimately leads up to the game's ending, when Red impales herself with the Transistor in order to regain her voice and be united with her deceased lover. The ending sequence is overflowing with emotion and it is all amplified by the song that plays during this final sequence. The great realisation dawns on the player that they are not hearing a memory of a performance but Red's first performance within the timeline of the game. Accompanied by a series of vignettes depicting Red and her partner living on happily within the Transistor. 

Transistor and it's score are a polishing and a refinement on what was presented in Bastion. Korb's musical signatures are still very much present in the soundtrack, despite it's distinct shift in setting.  It's strong association with the game's world and story make it a crucial part of the game, and allow it to tell the player a lot of information through music. Once again, Korb and Supergiant have created a great example of integration of music into video games and have definitely pushed the boundaries of how deeply entrenched music can be in a video game.   read

10:42 PM on 06.19.2014

OST Case Study: Yoshi's Story

Yoshi's story had it's initial Japan release in 1997 and was released internationally the following year. As a successor to the acclaimed Yoshi's Island it suffered critically as it didn't quite measure up in scope and complexity. The game, however brought some interesting mechanics to the table, such as level completion by collecting fruit, and a structure which works quite interestingly. It also utilised some sonic techniques which makes the sound for this game somewhat intriguing. The game's composer and voice actor for the Yoshis was none other than Kazumi Totaka. Totaka's works up to this point include such games as Mario Paint, Waverace 64, the Animal Crossing series and even the Wii Main Menu. Totaka's work on Yoshi's Story encapsulates the game's atmosphere and compliments the feel in an interesting way. The music of the game provides a surprising amount of variety rather counterintuitively by staying fundamentally the same through all levels. The range of musical styles touched on throughout the game is astonishing and meshes really well with the overall approach the game takes. 

The most interesting thing about the music of Yoshi's Story is that almost all of the level music is based off a single theme. Of course this isn't unheard of, Super Mario Bros. for example had only three pieces for the entire game, but what makes the music of Yoshi's Story special are the twists and turns the music takes. This singular melody which you've probably heard is recycled countless times throughout the game to very interesting results. On a beach level you might hear it played in a calypso style,  in a volcano you might hear it played with sitar and tablas, in snowy levels you'll hear a rendition on accordion with whistles to accompany. The sheer breadth of styles Totaka covers in this game is really special. From cave man like chants to acid jazz to reggae, this game has all of it and it never stops changing. Although the games locations don't have real world counterparts, and the musical styles don't always match their geographic placements, the collection of all of these musical styles speaks to both the game's universal appeal and it's eclectic presentation which has Yoshi traversing cardboard plains and paper mache castles.

However, the game isn't entirely built around this one melody as others appear throughout the game. The game's world is based around 6 different pages and each of these have their own pieces when viewed. These melodies are exclusively used for the stage select screens of each page and aren't really heard anywhere else in the game. Why these don't appear anywhere else is somewhat puzzling as they are pretty catchy and could have been integrated into the level music along with the main theme. What this means musically, however is that Totaka has based the musical elements of the game around the characters. Whenever a Yoshi is traversing a stage, the main theme is used, whenever the player is selecting a stage they get different music as there are no characters to guide which theme is used. There are two more themes used in the game which confirm this, Baby Koopa, and the Yoshi group theme. Whenever the a Yoshi enters one of Baby Koopa's castles, a theme plays which takes some pretty strong inspiration from late Romantic composers Erik Satie and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. This theme is used in all of the castles and in the boss fights with Baby Koopa himself. The final theme is that of the Yoshi group. This one is interesting as it appears in only a few incarnations. It plays however whenever the player finishes a level and in some other areas of the game. This theme invokes a feeling of reflection and relaxation which works well as it changes the game's mood to give the player some time to reflect when there's no action on screen. 

Although the soundtrack to Yoshi's Story only draws on a few themes, it does some interesting things in-game to reflect the players actions. If the player's smile meter loses all it's petals, the music drops in tempo and pitch reflecting the fatigue and pressure the Yoshi feels. Not to mention this is a subtle motivation for the player to restore their smile meter.  The other way the music in manipulated in game is if the player eats a heart fruit power up. When the player does this, the music instantly shifts to a hard rock version of the theme the player has been hearing the entire game. This rendition, with double kick drums and heavy electric guitar gives the player a sense of power and recklessness which amplifies the acquisition of the heart fruit. 

Overall, Totaka's effort on Yoshi's story is well thought out, and thus has created some of the most recognisable pieces of music related to Yoshi. I would even say that even though it was critically panned, and not remembered as fondly as Yoshi's Island, it still remains that the music from Yoshi's Story is the definitive music for Yoshi. Totaka's use of theme's and variations has ingrained the music into people's heads, and made the world of Yoshi's story come to life. It also allowed the game to feel more coherent aesthetically and explore a wide variety of musical genres. 

What do you think? Does the music of Yoshi's Island stand stronger to you? Did the eclectic mix of genres have a different affect on you? What do you think we could expect from the next Yoshi Game, "Yoshi's Wooly World"? I'd love to hear your thoughts!


11:15 PM on 06.05.2014

The Mystery of Music Games Part 1: The Quick Rhythm Hero

I just recently (quite literally 2 hours ago) got my hands on the DS and Wii releases of the Rhythm Heaven games and upon playing them I found myself laughing harder than I think I ever have with a video game. The game just kept bringing me back and not just for the charm or cute art style. I felt rewarded for doing well at the game and wanted to push myself to do the best I could. I went back to challenges I enjoyed but also to ones I didn't, trying to master them.  I don't believe I've ever felt so engaged and fulfilled whilst playing a rhythm game. Through out this 2 part series we're going to compare and contrast some musically based games and investigate why some of them are fun forever, while others tend to become stale pretty quickly. 

So let's start with Rhythm Heaven. The games are comprised of several challenges which are focussed on a single set rhythmic of ideas. The DS edition has you tapping and flicking the stylus to perform certain actions and the Wii version does the same with presses of the A & B buttons. Each challenge is themed both visually and sonically and they only ever use 2 or 3 different cues for each challenge. This encourages the player to react to what is happening on screen and in the music to perform the actions with the correct timing. It's focus on accuracy of timing and low number of input types means that the player is forced into an int he moment, reactionary based environment. The challenges might give the player a rhythm to copy back, or give small cues to tell the player which type of action to perform next. This all leads up to the remix challenges which mix and match the elements form previous challenges into a larger, more varied experience. All in all it means the player is constantly reacting to information being given to them shortly before they have to perform their inputs. Of course, this is the basis of all rhythm games, but it's starting to sound like something else...

It's like a timed action, and you have to perform it quickly. Except sometimes the actions make something happen on event of some sort. So i guess you could call these types of interactions...quick...time...eve-OH MY GOOOOOSH!!!!

Quick time events have been in games for a very long time. In most games they are utilised to make the character perform context sensitive actions by displaying particular button prompts on screen. If the player manages to press the required button in time the character on screen will perform the desired action, and if the player fails, the sequence will usually end and give the player a penalty for not completing the event. There are many action games which have capitalised on how cinematic and versatile QTEs can be. These titles include the God of War franchise, The Resident Evil series, Heavy Rain and the recently released Ryse: Son of Rome pictured above. These are generally considered to be quite lame in terms of player experience. The player presses a single or combination of buttons and watches as the frantic action plays out in front of them. The disconnect between the player and the game is pretty severe during these moments, and they can certainly destroy what immersion the game might have. 

Now obviously there is a distinct difference between a rhythm game and quicktime events, but I think the comparison is justified. There are only three major differences between the two are how they tell the player which button to press, consistency, and timing. In most action games, quicktime events are used so that the character can perform actions which are too contextual or complex to perform in a regular combat situation, so the consistency is pretty weak here. Depending on the situation a single button could make any number of actions occur and this means that the button press reveals what the action is as a reward for succeeding at the QTE. Some games do this better than others, where the button presses match actual combat mechanics in some way, but generally it's a pretty loose correlation. The timing aspect is pretty obvious. Rhythm games rely on the music of the game to determine the timing of the button presses, whereas QTEs generally just use short countdowns per button to determine timing. The third aspect is probably the most interesting, because this is where the obviousness of a QTE can really break down. So let's look at two rhythm games which really straddle the line between QTE and rhythm game. 

First, it's the big daddy of all rhythm games. Popularised by it's controller that was shaped like a real life thing, Guitar Hero! (or Rock Band whatever it honestly makes no difference). In this game, button prompts fly down the page and the player must press the corresponding buttons in time to raise their score and pass the level. The prompts are coloured to match the buttons on the uniquely shaped controller and are meant to simulate the motions of playing a guitar, creating the ultimate immersion experience (but not really). Now, it might be clear by this point that I don't really see Guitar Hero games as much more than glorified QTE games. Sure there's music in the background and you press buttons in time with it, but in all honesty it's just an illusion. There's no real correlation between how the game progresses and how you press the buttons. Sure the guitar pat might cut out for a second or two if you miss a note, but really it's all about getting to the end and not having to start the sequence over again. These games are fun, I'm certainly not denying that, but form a design standpoint there's not interaction between the music and the player, and at some points it can just seem like the music is just meant to play in the background as you learn this overly extravagant street fighter combo. 

The second game shares some similarities with Guitar Hero, but I feel it does a better job at moving away from QTEs. 

The Bit.Trip series of games have done interesting things with rhythm and gameplay for a while and this all culminated in the most recent Bit.Trip release, Runner 2. In this game the player controls a character which is constantly running through a stage. The various obstacles in their way can be overcome by performing various actions such as jumping, ducking, blocking, kicking and more which are all assigned to buttons on the controller. The comparison between this and Guitar Hero is a bit odd, but in essence they have the same core concept, get to the end of the level by inputting the correct buttons at he correct time. But Runner 2 hides this behind a veil of platforming. No longer are the instructions just coloured dots on screen, but they are actual obstacles in a world the character is traversing through. The obstacles and enemies are laid out through the stage in conjunction with the music, as the actions the player takes to pass them are timed with the music and generate a light melody which plays along with the music. Where GH and Runner part ways, however is that Runner 2 stages have multiple pathways, and if you hit a single obstacle you instantly  fly all the way back to the beginning of the stage (of checkpoint). Runner 2 isn't pressing buttons to a song, but pressing buttons with a song and this is a very important distinction. In Runner 2, the player can gather items which change the way the music sounds and completion isn't avoiding every obstacle, but collecting all gold pieces along the way. These subtle changes take the game from being extremely similar to Guitar Hero, to being it's own unique gameplay experience. 

Rhythm games rely heavily on input cues and musical sensibilities to enable the player to feel as if they are engaging with the music. Some do this well, and some don't, but it's important to find out what makes a good rhythm game, because the principles can apply to any type of game, from fighting game, to RTS. 

What are your thoughts? Is there a game which truly emulates the experience of actually playing music? What kind of games and aspects should we investigate in part 2? Which genres should integrate gameplay elements found in rhythm games? I'd love to hear your feedback. 

Part 2 is still a while away, but be sure to look out for it!   read

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