On the wings of death, by the hands of doom;
By the darkest light from the darkest moon;
On the wings of life, by the hands of hope;
By the brightest light from the brightest sun.
And vice versa.
I'm a Dutch law student who loves to play the vidya. I'm a Nintendo-fanboy at heart, but I don't feel that I'm blinded by that, at least not very often. I am also currently on the Cblog Recaps team for Thursdays, so if for some voyeuristic reason you want to know more about me, check out my weekly Shadeisms.
I'm obsessed with the Monolith Soft RPGs Xenoblade Chronicles and the Baten Kaitos series. I will not pass up the opportunity to mention them, ever, and I consider myself Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean's biggest fan. Finally, as is to be expected I'm super excited for the new WiiU "Xeno-" game!
The Wii is one of my favorite systems of all time, and my favorite games on this system include, but are most certainly not limited to;
Xenoblade Chronicles (see also: Baten Kaitos - Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean for GC)
Zelda: Twilight Princess / Skyward Sword
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Muramasa - The Demon Blade
Wario Land: Shake it!
and Metroid Prime Trilogy.
I love my WiiU as well, and even though the library still needs expanding, I had tons of fun with:
New Super Mario Bros. U
Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
Super Mario 3D World
Apart from Nintendo, I'm a huge indie game enthousiast. Give me a game like Trine, VVVVVV, Sequence or Recettear, and you've made me a happy camper for sure. You can keep your shooters to yourself.
Favorite indie game round-up:
Trine (+ Trine 2)
Super Meat Boy
The Binding of Isaac
Dungeons of Dredmor
Thomas Was Alone
Mark of the Ninja
Cthulhu Saves the World
Recettear - An Item Shop's Tale
To The Moon
Orcs Must Die! 2
The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom
and many, many more!
Besides gaming itself, I like reading up on gaming-related news on my favorite website in the whole wide world: Destructoid. I love all the people here, and I'm glad that I get to be a part of this. Wouldn't know what to do without you!
As most if you will probably know, I don't tend to blog all that much. This is mostly due to time reasons, and because I don't always have anything interesting to say. I often write something when something specific has popped up that I want to talk about, but that only happens every once in a while. With this blog, I want to try things a little bit differently.
I've often made it a point that I love to share the things I like. There's just something about giving other people the chance to fall in love with the things I've been enjoying for so long that makes me want to do it time and time again. Besides that, it's also a great way to show my own appreciation of the things that mean so much to me. Finally, this allows you guys to get to know me just that little bit better. So I've decided that, rather than doing posts based on random things that pop up every now and again, I'm going to start a sort of series of just me sharing good shit. Or just regular ol' shit, if I feel so inclined. I'm not going to promise that these are going to be weekly (God knows I can't), or even monthly, but I hope to be able to update this whenever I have time and inspiration.
Here's how it's going to work. In every new edition of Shade Shares, I'm going to pick a particular theme. These can be genres, gameplay elements, plot points, or anything else really. In the blog, I'm first going to try to explain why this theme is so important to me, followed by as many of my favorite examples as I feel the need to share.
"So basically it's a top 10 only you call it something else?" Shut up, you.
Seriously though, these are not actually meant to be Top 10's or anything like that. I don't intend to claim that the things I post here are the best, or the only good ones.
Basically, if I'm going to sum it up, it's this:
"Look you guys, these are things I like, have some." Simple as that.
Anyway, let's be off! For the sake of trying the new site with Youtube embedding and because of the already large number of posts regarding OSTs in the past week, this time Shade Shares Soundtracks!*
Shedding a Light**
Ah, the soundtrack. Was there ever a greater piece of music than that? Beethoven, Mozart or even Justin Bieber, all the greats have nothing on the likes of Koji Kondo, Hans Zimmer or Nobuo Uematsu. Personally, I can't tell you how much I love Original Soundtracks, and those of video games in particular. Currently, I have over 14GB worth of soundtracks on this computer alone, spread over almost 4500 files spanning well over 50 games, including some that most people won't even have heard of. It's gotten to the point that I rarely listen to anything else anymore. I can hardly remember the last time I listened to an actual band and I can't for the life of me tell you which "hot" songs are on the charts right now. I guess "Gangnam Style" is on there? Is that still a thing? If "Call Me Maybe" still is I might have to go and punch something.
Either way, what is it that I love about video game soundtracks? There's a couple of reasons for this, actually.
Most importantly, it's because they bring back great memories. With one exception which we'll get to later, all the soundtracks I have belong to games I've played and loved. Because of this, I can listen to any song on its OST and instantly be transported back into the game. Hyrule Field is only two clicks away, as is World 1-1, Phendrana Drifts or any of the other worlds I've had the joy of visiting in all my time as a gamer. Even when I don't actually remember hearing a specific song in the game, just hearing it and recognizing its style is enough for all sorts of great memories to come rushing back. Once we get to my actual sharings, I'll be sure to give you some which invoke this particularly well. If you love playing video games, wouldn't you want to take that feeling with you everywhere you go? Off course you do, and that's what OSTs are for. Either that or handhelds I guess.
Secondly, I believe that video game soundtracks are developed in a unique way, like no other music before it. Above anything else, game music is designed to be listened to on repeat, more so than any other type of music. Think about it, if you've created a three-minute song for the Obligatory Fire Dungeon of Dragons and Lava, how are you going to deal with a player that takes an hour to get to the end? There's just no composing against that, so you do the only thing you reasonably can do; you make your song loop. And don't even get me started on battle themes, which you have to hear hundreds of times in a single playthrough! But then, that poses a new problem. How do you make a three-minute song play twenty times in a row without it becoming annoying is hell? Honestly, I couldn't tell you how. I have the musical ability of a deaf chimp on crack, so you really shouldn't be asking me these things. Luckily, less crappy people than me have managed to find a way, and they are the greats that we all remember.
All of this results in music that you will know by heart at the end of the game, being exposed to it for so long, as well as music that you can always listen to without any problems. Video game songs are rarely linked to specific scenes, as movie OSTs so often are, so they will invoke the general feeling of the game without causing a disconnect if you don't have the game itself in front of you, and you can listen to them as many times as you want, because that is exactly what they were designed for! That really is unique in the music world, and it's just another special factor in my undying love.
Alternatively, you get a 20-minute song like "Dancing Mad", that also works
There are many other things that I love about these pieces of music, and I'm constantly finding more. The fact that you can interact with the music in many games (you know that at some point in your life you tapped the fire button in time with the music, don't deny it), and their ability to have an amazing variety of songs (tied to different areas in the game) but still maintain a single general theme are just some of the things I really like. All in all, we should always cherish all the great things about this hobby of ours, and the video game soundtrack is one of those things that deserve our recognition.
Well, here we are! Hopefully this is what you've been waiting for. Now that I've tried to explain my thought process regarding game music, allow me to share some specific ones that are special to me. There are many more were these came from, and they aren't even all my favorites, but I picked these because I had something specific to say about them. Well, that, and the fact that they're awesome. So yeah.
Ocean Theme - The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
This is bar none my favorite song to travel to. I honestly can't think of any song that sounds more adventurous than this one. And how could it not be awesome? After all, it plays when a young boy and his magical talking ship take to the seas on an epic journey across the seven seas (or one giant one)! I've never found anything quite like it, and that speaks volumes for this song. Not even other Zelda themes like "Hyrule Field" can compete. Whether you're traveling by plane, bus or even by foot, every mile will feel like an adventure with this in your ears. You'll almost be able to picture the Great Sea, and the many tales you have to tell about it.
People's thoughts about The Wind Waker are mixed. Hell, mine are. Many people thought that the sailing in particular could be kind of boring, and should have been sped up. Me, personally? Not once have I had any problem with any of the sailing I had to do. And I'm sure you can already guess why.
Kainé~Escape - NieR
Above, I mentioned that almost every OST I have belongs to a game I've played, but for one exception. NieR is that exception. I never actually picked this game up myself, but I did watch a Let's Play of it. Normally that wouldn't be quite enough to make you fall in love with a game or its music, but it was for NieR. This song in particular stuck out for me, and I honest to God believe that this is one of the best songs ever in video games and perhaps even beyond. I wish that there was more that I could say about this one, but I really can't. It's just great and that's what it is. So beautiful and great that I never even cared that I haven't played the game.
Ironic, for a theme based on one of the most sluttily-dressed and foulmouthed characters in video game history.
The Lost Court of Mushroom Caves - Trine 2
I wish I could post all of Trine 2's music, I really do. I had an easy time picking one song from each of the OSTs I featured here, except for this one. If there ever was such a thing as "hauntingly beautiful", I think some of these songs would definitely be it. This one right here caused me to take my hands away from the keyboard for a second just to sit there and listen. I still get the urge to do that every time I'm playing this level.
The unfortunate thing is that the music from Trine only really shines when combined with that game's awesome visuals. Regardless, this is still some of my favorite music from video games, and a big reason why I love the Trine series as much as I do. (which is to say a lot)
Soul - Madworld
I included this because it really shows how powerful video game OSTs are for me. Why? I hate rap music. Despise it. I can comfortably listen to almost any kind of music. I might not also exactly like it, but I can stand it at least. I can't stand rap music. I couldn't exactly tell you why, but just take my word for it here. So what's the deal? I actually like Madworld's soundtrack, which consists entirely of rap music. Not only can I stand it, I genuinely enjoy listening to it. I never expected to, that's for sure.
I wanted to try this game for its hilariously violent gameplay and its artstyle, but from the beginning I was set to mute this game whenever the music would start to suck. It never did. I liked all of its music, and that completely stunned me. I'll admit that this isn't my favorite soundtrack by any means, but just the fact that I like it at all is amazing. Again, I'm not sure what it is about it, but I just think its catchy and fun.
But it really is about the big picture here. Apparently video game OSTs are so great, that they not only make a genre I normally actively hate tolerable, but they even make it good.
Nega-wisp Armor Phase 2 - Sonic Colors
I love it when video games do this.
Picture this: you're fighting the final boss, big orchestral music in the background telling you in no uncertain terms: "You are fucked, my friend." This music plays throughout about 80% of the fight. But then at some point, when you get really close to beating him, the music changes. The haunting music from earlier is no more, and in its place you get awesome victory music even before the fight has actually finished. "Holy shit, you got this man, go for it!"
I remember that Super Castlevania IV did it (just watch this), but other than that I can't think of many, which is a damn shame. Recently though, I've found a new game that also does it, and it is none other than Sonic Colors.
This is the victory music that starts playing near the end of the final boss. As such, it brings back so many memories that it's not even funny. Colors was a great game, and this was a great boss, so that just happens without even trying.
But actually, there's another thing that's special about this song. It's actually a orchestral version of "Reach for the Stars"! If you don't know, "Reach for the Stars", besides a Will.i.am song (thanks for that, youtube), is also the main theme of Sonic Colors, performed by Cash Cash. It is one of the cheesiest songs ever in a Sonic game, only outdone by "Speak with your Heart"...which is also from Sonic Colors. I'm not going to lie, I like both of those songs in that special "so bad it's good" kind of way, but this version is just something else. I don't know how, and I don't know how anyone even thought of doing it, but somehow the composer for this game managed to take that horribly cheesy song, and managed to turn it epic. That's one of those things that's just crazy enough to work, and apparently they went with it. I love it, is all I can say.
Engage the Enemy - Xenoblade Chronicles
This song. This song right here. Man.
I'm going to try to be coherent here, but I can't make any promises. It's just...I mean...damn. This song gives me the chills.
Okay, I'm going to make a fair warning here. If I do make more editions of Shade Shares, expect to see Xenoblade on it more than once. I'm obsessive about that game, and I love everything about it, so don't be surprised. It's going to happen, just so you know.
This song, "Engage the Enemy", is basically the "shit is going down" song of Xenoblade. Whenever a particularly plot-important scene starts to play, this song plays with it. It works particularly well, because the song actually scales up as it goes along, so it will always coincide with the scene too. When the scene picks up, so does "Engage the Enemy". After my 120-hour playthrough of this game, some scenes will forever be etched in my mind in the best way possible. As a result, so is this music. From the two minute mark onwards, I completely lose it.
I know full well that this is not a song that is really suited to be listened to by anyone who hasn't played the game yet (even though you should), but this is still a song I wanted to share with you guys. It may very well be my favorite one ever, and at the very least it's the one I'm the most emotionally invested in. If that's not a cause for sharing, I don't know what is.
And there we go! Shade has now officially shared soundtracks! I hope you've found things to enjoy, but even if you haven't I still hope that you've learned just a tiny bit about my own interests. That's why I do what I do, and hopefully I get to do more editions of this in the future. There are still some topics up here in that brain of mine, so maybe I'll get them to come out at some point in time.
In the mean time, don't hesitate to share any songs you like, because I like receiving just as much as I like giving!
*insert sex joke here*
*Also, one of these days I'm going to find a less obnoxious way of incorporating my name into this, but for now you're all stuck with this crap right here, so there you go. ** I warned you.