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3:13 PM on 05.04.2015

Bbain's Jukebox, Shade-Style: Robots



Hello and welcome once again to Bbain's Jukebox!

It's been an interesting couple of weeks on Destructoid what with the big lay-out overhaul and such. By now though, it seems Niero has overcome all the major obstacles, and the Cblogs are back in action like never before two weeks ago. Sounds to me like I should take the new and possibly improved site for a spin. And what better way to do that than through the power of music?

Today's theme is going to be 'robots', and I think you can guess why. Besides Andy Dixon, Mr. Destructoid is the most important mascot we've got, and he is 100% complete and total Robot. Irresistable to dudes and chicks alike, our Robotic Overlord (hail!) has got it all. The songs below are for him. Plus I recently got assimilated into robot-hood too, so they're a little bit for me as well.

Before we start, has anybody made sure to restrain Wrenchfarm? No? Well better do that first then, because he's about to go crazy.


"Robo's Theme" - Chrono Trigger


This song was the first that came to mind when I decided on today's theme, and I wouldn't be surpised if the same goes for many of you. But you know what's funny? Despite this being the first thing that came to mind, I actually had to look up this song first because I had completely forgotten how it goes. It's been too long since I played Chrono Trigger, that's for sure.

Fortunately, when I hit the Play button all of those memories came rushing back. My instincts haven't betrayed me yet, Robo's Theme deserves to be at the forefront of everybody's mind and/or circuitry.

"Dr. Wily's Castle" - Mega Man 2


Another oldy but goody. I put it to you that there is not better song out there that celebrates the superiority of metal over man. This song is all about a little robot who isn't just a normal man (of course not!), he's a Mega Man. And this little Mega robot warrior is leading the charge against a lowly human who thinks he stands a chance.

That human will soon learn the error of his ways.

"Mechonis Field" - Xenoblade Chronicles


I tried to keep Xenoblade out of the Jukebox for as long as I could. If I didn't, you can bet it would be on every single entry. I could do it easily. This one though, I just had to include. Xenoblade has one of the biggest robots this side of Gurren Lagann; the Mechonis. The Mechonis is so large that he functions as a continent, with sprawling landmasses you can go explore to your heart's content.

The Mechonis is not uninhabited either: smaller robots make this place their home. A lot of them live inside the Mechonis on Mechonis Field. When you finally reach that mechanical place, you are greeted by this music. It's not as fast-paced as many other Robot songs, and it's not as stuffed with beeps and boops as you might expect. But to a robot, this music is what dreams are made of.

"Dr. Nefarious" - Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal


And we're back to the kickin' rad songs our robotic overlords deserve. Dr. Nefarious truly is an example to us all. He's smart, evil, has wicked good looks, and most importantly he hates organics. Now that is what you call a fine specimen of metal.

This song plays during the final battle of Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal. Brave Dr. Nefarious makes his last stand as he is being attacked by a team of a cowardly organic and a traitor to robot-kind. The music is suitably grand and booming for the majesty of the good doctor. With that in the background, there's no way he could lose.

"A Time for Change" - Thomas Was Alone


Many people forget that robots aren't just about their metal exterior. Sure, that's one very important aspect of why they're so effective at slaughtering humans, but it's hardly the only reason. Behind every good robot head lies a magnificent AI, without which robots are about as effective at killing humans as the common cold. It would be a shameful display. More than any other game, Thomas Was Alone appreciates the power of the AI. It understands the importance of a functioning artificial brain, which can come from humble beginnings to attain greatness.

The best song on the Thomas Was Alone soundtrack says what we're all thinking. Time for change. It's a time for change at Destructoid, and as soon as we commence Phase 2 it will be a time for change for the entire world.


Beep boop, that's all for now, meatbags. By now you must realize the superior quality of robotic songs as compared to lowly human music. It is the only logical conclusion. I hope you all experienced the emotion listed in my databanks as "fun" while listening to this music. We will make sure to run some of these as background music to the inevitable uprising.

And remember everyone: Robots FTW.

"Robots FTW" - Portal 2


01000001 01101100 01110011 01101111 00100000 01100011 01101111 01100011 01101011 01110011

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4:56 PM on 04.30.2015

I see entirely too many hurt feelings today; so eff it, have some free games.

I have my own thoughts on all the happenings of today, but that can wait. I'm going to sleep on it and then write my Recaps first thing in the morning. It won't be entirely pleasant, but I feel like I have to have my saw at some point. Either that, or I'm going to chicken out and talk about video game soundtracks or whatever. It could really go either way.

One thing I do know is that I've had more than enough of today's negativity. I've seen entirely too much disappointment, distrust, disharmony and dis...something. Too many hurt feelings, too much salt. As for me, there's a reason why I usually stay out of things like this. I'm like an emotion sponge, in that I soak up whatever the people around me are feeling. Put me in a fun and energetic environment and I shed my normal shy self in an instant. On the other hand, put me somewhere with rampant negativity, and I'll soak that up too. I can't stand seeing people unhappy. It's one of the "perks" of being an INFJ, I suppose. It's just something that happens. 


- Artist's rendering.

So here's a little contribution to break through that spiral, for my own sake as well as others'. It's not much, but it's the least I can do and I find it to be more productive than going around playing the blame game.

Just for all of you in the Community here, be it FP, Cblogs or forums, I went through my old Humble Bundle pages to find out if I still had good unclaimed games left. Well, I did! More than a dozen, in fact. Most of them because I already owned them when I bought the bundle, some because I didn't care for the game in question. Either way, it doesn't matter why I didn't want them, because now you can have them. I'm giving all of them away on a first-come first-serve basis, with the added caveat that Glowbear and Stevil's picks overrule anyone else's. Unless they both pick the same game, in which case we'll make them fight to the death compete at a children's card game for it.  

Here's the list. There may be some late additions if I can still find some of my older Humble Bundle pages or if I decide to get the current one after all.
If you have your own games that you want to have added to the list, send me a message or leave a comment.


Dust: An Elysian Tail



Total War: ROME II - Caesar in Gaul (DLC)



Empire: Total War



Company of Heroes 2 - The Western Front Armies: Oberkommando West (not gonna lie, I have no idea what this even is)



To the Moon



Dear Esther



Awesomenauts + Awesomenauts Cluck Costume



Oil Rush



The Binding of Isaac + Wrath of the Lamb (just the original unfortunately, but still worth checking out)



Legend of Grimrock
 


Dungeons Defenders + DLC




Cave Story+




Offspring Fling


And here are some extra courtesy of Script, because he's a cool dude like that. Also because he's clearly trying to one-up me.


Duke Nukem 3D




Shadow Warrior Classic Redux



Monaco: What's Yours is Mine



Guacamelee! Gold Edition



The Swapper



Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams

Charliewhistle adds:


Nuclear Throne

Morty has a few more!


Hitman: Absolution



Defender's Quest: Valley of the Forgotten



Super Meat Boy, Lone Survivor
and Braid (all on one key)


GLOWBEAR AND STEVIL'S PICKS TAKE PRIORITY
. Anyone who says otherwise gets to deal with me.
If there's nothing in here for either of you, PM me and we'll figure something out.

I'mma sleep now, because I'm tired after today. It's the sponge thing.

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1:33 PM on 04.22.2015

Ooh, what's over there?! #3: With your back up against the Dunwall

Ladies and gentlemen, I like exploration. No, I love exploration.

Exploration across prairies, in streets, in trenches, in grasslands, in frozen tundras, through deserts, on the sea, in the air, I love every act of exploration that can occur upon this earth.



Violence can be fun, and so can strategizing. In fact, videogames are fun in many ways. But to me, nothing beats the feeling of being transported to a new world with all sorts of amazing new things to see and do. The feeling of looking to an unfamiliar horizon and going “Ooh, I wonder what's over there?” before heading off in that general direction and no doubt being distracted by something cool halfway there. The feeling of seeing a tower off in the distance and wondering whether you can climb it. The feeling of checking to see whether there is an edge to the sea or not.

It's that feeling this series is devoted to. But don’t think that I'm restricting myself to big open-world sandbox games here. A well-made 2D Platformer can give you much the same feeling, and cleverly hidden secrets can give you just as much incentive to explore as any far-off castle. It's all fair game, as long as you make me want to explore every nook and cranny of your world, and you’ll let me. Invisible walls will earn you a slap in the face, but may not be unforgivable if you have something to make up for them.

Today, let’s explore the world of Dishonored.



As compared to the world of Xenoblade or The Wind Waker which I looked at in #1 and #2, Dishonored couldn’t be a bigger contrast. That's exactly why I chose it this time. The previous games featured giant green fields, beautiful ocean vistas, and more flora and fauna than you can shake a stick at. Meanwhile, Dishonored has a drab, grey world where everything tries to kill you and the only fauna you’ll ever see are giant man-eating rats. And yet, Dishonored’s Dunwall is just as worth exploring as the Bionis and the Great Sea ever were.

It's simple really; just because Dunwall is a dirty run-down city doesn’t mean there’s nothing to explore.

First things first though, what is the world of Dishonored all about? Well. Dunwall, as a city, is a shithole. It's a shithole to the point that you start wondering how people even survive in that place. The large town is subject to one of the most corrupt governments ever, and it shows. Homeless are everywhere, there isn't a splotch of paint anywhere in sight, people look freaky and 'off', and the swarms of rats will literally eat you alive. The only thing anyone seems to care about in this place is the whale oil industry, which is not exactly glamorous to begin with, and surviving by any means necessary. In fact, the only places in the entire city that seem habitable are the mansions of the higher-ups, the people with the money and power that probably wasn't obtained in an entirely wholesome manner. Incidentally, these higher-ups will make damn sure that the lowlives down in the slums won't intrude on their luxurious lifestyle.

Doesn't sound like a place you'd want to live, right? Fortunately, through the power of VIDEOGAMES, you don't have to. But you can still take your sweet time to explore...whatever there is to explore in Dunwall. Which is more than you might think. And depending on where you stand you can actually get some mighty good views of the city and its businesses.


- This is as inviting as Dunwall will ever look.

If there is one thing that I have to credit the Dishonored devs for, it's that they made Dunwall feel like a complete and coherent world. While Xenoblade and Wind Waker were waaaay prettier, they can't match Dishonored on pure sustainability. Dunwall may not be a place where you would want to live, but you can definitely see how it would be possible. You can tell where the houses are, where people might go for groceries or bar-hopping and all the other things you'd do on any giving day. You get insights as to how the city's economy works, who holds the political power, and the importance of religon. It's a sustainable world, it could function. That's incredibly rare to see in video games (or anywhere!) and I'm having a hard time coming up with a better example than this. Few other games let you explore the whole spectrum of a fictional world from the lowest sewers to the emperial palace, but Dishonored does it and then some.

Another commendable thing about exploring every nook and cranny of Dunwall is that it's all functional. No matter where you go, rarely will you find a place that’s completely empty. Rather, money or ammo will be hidden everywhere you care to look, and sometimes you might even find new gear or upgrades hidden in the damnedest places. But that's not the best thing that you can find, not by a long shot. You see, at its heart Dishonored is a stealth game. "Get from point A to point B without being seen". And that's what exploring Dunwall is all about: you want to find the sneakiest route to where you need to go. Even when you don’t find any gold in that alley you decided to check out, chances are you’ve stumbled on an alternative route to your ultimate destination. That sewer you found yourself in might just be the perfect way to bypass those annoying guards upstairs. That tower you climbed might have an open window somewhere, so you can dash straight to your target on the top floor. In Dishonored, every bit of exploration you do serves a very direct purpose. It's all the better for it.


- You want to be at that tower second from the left. How many routes can you spot?

Finally, Dishonored succeeds at one very important thing of exploration that I haven't had a chance to mention yet. Exploration is only as good as your means of getting around. That makes sense right? I mean, how much fun is it to explore a gorgeous landscape at a snail's pace? Not much, you still want to feel like you're getting someplace. Preferably someplace you wouldn't be able to go in real life.

The basic mode if transportation in Dishonored are your own two feet. But not long after you start the game, you are gifted with the best thing an explorer could want: a teleport. Called "Blink", this will let you go anywhere within a 10-feet radius or so. You can use it to pass by guards unseen, or to break your fall from a long drop. The most important thing of all, however, is that you can combine it with your already above-average climbing skills to make any rooftop your bitch. From that point on, you can go almost anywhere. In fact, you can go so many places that every once in a while I stopped to wonder whether this was intended by the devs or if I had found a bug of some kind. It has always been the former. Water drains, chimneys, balconies or straight from roof to roof, with Blink the entire city is your oyster. An ugly oyster without any pearls, but an oyster nonetheless.

Combine that unique ability to scale almost any obstacle with the point I made earlier that any exploration is useful for your main objective, and you can see where this is going. No window is safe, even on the top floor of the highest mansion.



That is the impression that Dunwall left on me. The impression of a shithole of a world that despite everything just seems to function right. A shithole of a world that I could use to sneak around any obstacle. And a shithole of a world that I could view from any rooftop I chose. Dunwall is a shithole of a city that I wouldn't want to live in for any price, but one that I would pay good money for to explore.

Even with my back up against the Dunwall, I'll find my way out.

- Favorite thing 'over there': Kaldwin's Bridge, which I climbed as high as I could.

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2:41 AM on 04.11.2015

Bbain's Jukebox, Shade-Style: Lost Songs



Hello and welcome once again to Bbain's Jukebox!
Yep, I'm going to continue the tug-of-war after bbain so recklessly stole the series I had legitimately stolen from him.

Farewell, songs. We hardly knew ye.

Today's theme is going to be a bit of a hard one. I'm going to be looking at lost songs. So what do I mean by that? Well, a lost song is a song that is technically on the game disc, but that you will never actually hear in-game. There are many reasons for why this can happen, but most of the time it happens because the song only plays in one very specific part of the game...that any player will rush through in 10 seconds. Other times it's a cutscene that doesn't last long enough for the entire song to play, or the song was cut entirely.

You can see why this theme would be difficult to do. Most of us can dream the battle theme to our favorite JRPGs, because they play so often that they'll be ingrained in your memory by the time you're done. But the entire point of today is highlighting the most forgettable songs ever. Not that it's the composer's fault though, some great songs simply never got their due.

Let's just get to my selections, and you'll see what I mean soon enough.


"Dolphin Shoals - Dry Version" - Mario Kart 8


Dolphin Shoals is my least favorite course in Mario Kart 8, and the lackluster music is part of the reason why. It just doesn't boom as much as almost any other song in the game. However, there is one part that's great. Right after you drove across the eel's back, you go out of the water for a short while. Right as you break the surface, the music changes to the rendition above. You wouldn't know it, but there is actually a full saxophone version of the Dolphin Shoals theme! It's a great lively song that almost makes you forget that you're racing on Dolphin Shoals and really what are you doing with your life?
...
Until ten seconds later, when you enter the water again and you're back to the old song.

Cloudtop Cruise does something similar, but I'd be hard pressed to call the Thundercloud version 'better', considering how great the original already is.

"Main Menu" - Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door


Question: how long do you usually spend on the Main Menu of a game?
Well, if it's anything less than 2 minutes, you missed out on some sweet Paper Mario music. Why would someone create some of the happiest music in gaming, and then only use it on a single screen that nobody is going to spend more than 10 seconds on? The world may never know.

"Battle! [Jenna]" - Golden Sun: The Lost Age


Golden Sun's music was done by Motoi Sakuraba, one of my favorites. But here's a song that never got its due. At the very start of the second game, before you take control of the main protagonist, there's a short part where you play as Jenna. As Jenna you'll walk around for a bit, and even get into a fight or two. What's fun though is that battles you fight as Jenna during this part have their own music, entirely different from what you'll hear in battles throughout the rest of the game. It's a lot more upbeat than the standard battle theme, perfect for the much-less-brooding Jenna.

Savor it, because once you meet Felix you'll never hear it again.

"Pinwheel" - Dark Souls


If there's one thing the Souls series is known for, it's difficulty. A lot of bosses will kick your ass to the moon and back. All, except one. Ask any Dark Souls player and they will tell you that Pinwheel is a pushover. His attacks are easy enough to avoid, and he takes so much damage that any decently leveled player will be able to take him down with just a couple of hits.

That's a shame, because Pinwheel has a theme song all of his own! It's a really creepy, atmospheric theme that serves as a great ending to your treks through the Catacombs and an even better beginning to your upcoming quest in the Tomb of the Giants. Of course no player worth their salt is ever going to hear it in full, because Pinwheel will bite the dust before the song even gets going.

"Spotted! Rival" - Pokémon X and Y
"Spotted! Ace Trainer" - Pokémon X and Y



For some years now, the Pokémon games have seen fit to give every different kind of Trainer a different theme song. Oh, but I don't mean a battle theme. I mean that when they spot you pre-battle, you'll get a different song each time. But even though they're not very long you won't be able to listen to them, because these guys only have about two lines to say before you're transported into battle and you get the familiar Battle Theme.

The above two are the worst offenders. Your rival only challenges you a couple of times troughout the entire game, which are the only few times you'll be able to hear his "Spotted!" theme. The Ace Trainer is my favorite of the lot (and it reminds me of Sonic Heroes' Mystic Mansion theme), but there aren't many Ace Trainers to go around either.

A lot of the others are really good too, but you won't get to hear them much more than these. And if that wasn't enough, once you've exhausted all the Pokémon Trainers chances are you'll never be able to hear these songs again unless you start a new file.


And those are some of my favorite songs...that I never actually heard in-game. I'm sure there are a lot more where that came from, and I'm more confident than ever that I missed some important ones. That's to be expected, since the whole point of today's Jukebox is highlighting songs that are easy to miss.

So let me know in the comments which songs I (and everyone else) must've missed.

For now I'll sign off with a game that has an entire Lost Soundtrack. Transistor has alternate "humming" versions of every song in the game, but you can only hear them if you sit still and keep pressing the "hum"-button. Which, if you're impatient like me, you're not going to be doing in every single level.
Here is my favorite, hum along:

"Traces (hummed)" - Transistor

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9:43 AM on 04.01.2015

Shade's Frozenbyte Giveaway Week #5: ALL Frozenbyte Games!



It's been over four weeks now since this was announced. Somethingsomethingsomething HYPE!

Trine 3 is happening! This year even!


Man, I can't even tell you how excited I am. The Trine series is one of my favorites of all time. As far as indie games go they're incredibly high on my list and they even hold up to a lot of my favorite 'AAA games'.

So in honor of this momentous occassion, I'm going to give a bunch of Trine-related stuff away over the next couple of weeks.

Here's how it's going down. Over a period of five weeks, I'm going to give increasingly great gifts away, as follows:
Week #1: Trine Enchanted Edition
Week #2: Shadowgrounds and Shadowgrounds: Survivor
Week #3: Trine 2: Complete Story
Week #4: Trine Complete Pack (= Trine Enchanted Edition, Trine 2: Complete Story)
WINNER: Gajknight
Not so much the winner as much as the only person who wrote what vaguely resembles an entry. Give the gift of Trine to your friends, Gajknight.

Week #5: Frozenbyte Pack (= Trine Enchanted Edition, Trine 2: Complete Story, Shadowgrounds, Shadowgrounds: Survivor)
Week #?: Trine 3 (this contest will be put up the week of Trine 3's release)

The rules are very simple. Each week I'm going to ask you to answer a Trine-related question.
The funniest, most thoughtful, or most original answer wins! You guys know how I think by now, so give me something I'll enjoy and the games could be yours!
I will also allow, nay encourage, entering for a game you already own provided you have someone in mind to give it to. Same goes for entering in multiple weeks. So the winner of Week #1 is still eligible to participate in the following weeks, even in Week #4 and 5, but you're going to have to impress me. 

Outside of answering the giveaway question, there is only one condition: no freeloaders.
I'm giving these games away out of love for Frozenbyte and the Dtoid community, so the very least you could do is be part of the Dtoid community. That goes double for Week #?. Don't worry too much though, if you're a regular around here I'll probably know you. I made a list of 99 Dtoiders off the top of my head, I'm pretty sure I'll manage. 

And with that out of the way, this week I'm giving away the biggest gift of all: the complete Frozenbyte pack. This pack contains both Trine games, and both Shadowgrounds games. All of this combined is worth over 30 bucks on Steam. It is literally the greatest. 

For such a small development company, Frozenbyte has quite the trackrecord. They've released four major titles so far, each better than the last.

The original Shadowgrounds was an interesting take on the top-down shooter genre. It took a serious approach with a cool Aliens setting. It had fun gameplay, pretty good graphics with an outstanding lighting engine, and some great music by the underappreciated Ari Pulkkinen.

Shadowgrounds: Survivor was pretty much more of the same. Instead of one character you now switched between three, each specializing in a different weapon. On the whole it was not as good as the original Shadowgrounds, but it was still well worth playing.

Then came Trine, with which Frozenbyte struck gold. This game gave you control of three characters with vastly different abilities. You switched between them to solve puzzles, defeat enemies, and solve more puzzles. What really stood out though, was the graphics. Even years ago, Trine was already much more gorgeous than most AAA games are today. And the music, good lord. They may have charged Ari with something very different compared to Shadowgrounds, but he nailed it and then some.

Finally, there was Trine 2. Unlike Shadowgrounds: Survivor which was the same but worse, Trine 2 is clearly the same but better. The gameplay got a healthy boost, making puzzles more intriguing and the characters more varied and useful. The graphics got even better than they already were, and the same goes for the music. It's all lovely. Trine 2 represents indie gaming at its best. If this is what a couple of Finnish game devs can do, I can't wait to see what the future holds.  



So let's get to the question already:

As you can tell all of the Frozenbyte games have done some really neat things with their graphics and art direction, though Shadowgrounds and Trine did it very differently.

What do you think is the most visually impressive game ever?

Remember, your answer doesn't have to be accurate (although it can be if you want). Just give me the funniest, most creative thing you can think of. So, do you want to get Trine, Trine 2, Shadowgrounds, or Shadowgrounds: Survivor, all for the price of none? You do. And I can make it happen. Enter my contest now!

ADDITIONAL RULES:
But wait, what's this? I have some new rules to keep in mind. They're both good though. I hope the second new rule will inspire more entries today.
1. If like last week nobody enters, these games will be given away to a random Dtoider. It could be anyone, provided I like you. I probably do.
2. If the winner writes a particularly good entry, I will gift him/her the Trine 2 soundtrack and digital artbook to go along with the games pack.



And after all is said and done, look forward to the upcoming release of Trine 3. I'm going to be giving it away during its first week, so keep an eye on the Cblogs!

Hype with me, people. Hype with me good.



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11:06 AM on 03.25.2015

Ooh, what’s over there?! #2: She sells sea shells by the cell-shaded sea

Ladies and gentlemen, I like exploration. No, I love exploration.

Exploration across prairies, in streets, in trenches, in grasslands, in frozen tundras, through deserts, on the sea, in the air, I love every act of exploration that can occur upon this earth.



Violence can be fun, and so can strategizing. In fact, videogames are fun in many ways. But to me, nothing beats the feeling of being transported to a new world with all sorts of amazing new things to see and do. The feeling of looking to an unfamiliar horizon and going “Ooh, I wonder what's over there?” before heading off in that general direction and no doubt being distracted by something cool halfway there. The feeling of seeing a tower off in the distance and wondering whether you can climb it. The feeling of checking to see whether there is an edge to the sea or not.

It's that feeling this series is devoted to. But don’t think that I'm restricting myself to big open-world sandbox games here. A well-made 2D Platformer can give you much the same feeling, and cleverly hidden secrets can give you just as much incentive to explore as any far-off castle. It's all fair game, as long as you make me want to explore every nook and cranny of your world, and you’ll let me. Invisible walls will earn you a slap in the face, but may not be unforgivable if you have something to make up for them.

Today, let’s explore the world of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.



March seems to have become the month of Zelda on Destructoid. At least, that's what the Band of Bloggers folks have decided. Well I don't know about you, but I'm not one to argue with Zelda. Plus, just this week it was announced that the "Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses" concert is finally coming to the Netherlands this year! I've been waiting for that forever, but the time has finally come. So yeah, I'm feeling Zelda all up in my private parts. So let's take a trip now, and sea what we can sea.

On first glance, you might be forgiven for thinking that the world of The Wind Waker isn't all that. Indeed, compared to something like Xenoblade Chronicles it might even seem a little uninspired. Well you'd be wrong. I take back what I said before, I would never forgive you for thinking that. 
I'm sure you're all well acquainted with the Great Sea. Wind Waker takes place on a vast ocean that stretches as far as the eye can see. There are a multitude of small islands to be found on the watery waves, which is where your adventure will take you. There's a lot to do on these islands and a lot of different people to meet, which we'll be getting to in a second. Ultimately, the Great Sea is in fact great (and also a sea), and it shouldn't take you very long before you want to explore the whole thing. 

There is one thing in particular about this game that invites exploration more than almost any other game. Freedom. Within an hour after starting the game you will get yourself a lovely little ship. Another couple of hours after that, you will have a sail to go along with it and the winds are at your command. From that point on you can go anywhere you want to go, do anything you want to do. Every island on the entire ocean has something to do on it or something to go and collect. So, do you want to go to the next dungeon right away or would you rather go sidequesting for ages? You can sail to the other end of the world if you want, and chances are good that there's still something to do there.

Even if you chose the former option, chances are you're going to get distracted. The Wind Waker is spectacularly good at keeping you occupied even when you think you're just going to sail to your next destination in a straight line. I think the main culprit here is the fact that you can always see some island or other off in the distance. It's like the game is deliberately telling you "Hey, I know you're busy, but there's some loot on this island over here that you really have to come get." For example, take a look at this: 

 

That's three different islands right there. Each can be reached in about two minutes tops, and each might have some good stuff lying around. One might be the home of a Great Fairy who can upgrade your magic, one might house a heart piece, and the last might be a red herring until you find the hookshot. There's only one way to find out though, and that's to haul yourself over there and go check. That's something you're constantly going to be doing in Wind Waker, as new unexplored islands are never far away. Just hoist the sail, and you can get there in a jiffy, especially in the HD remake. That's something that this game absolutely nails by the way. Especially in the WiiU version, the game simulaneously gives you the feeling of sailing around on an expansive sea while still making every individual island seem like they are within easy reach.

Of course, none of this would be all that fun if the Great Sea itself wasn't inviting. You don't want a dirty, drab expanse of water with nothing of note anywhere, and you certainly don't want boring grey depths. Fortunately, anybody who's even the slightest bit familiar with Wind Waker will know that the Great Sea is a stunning place. The big selling point here was always the cell-shaded art direction. Although they were criticised when the game first came out, gamers have learned to see that there is a timeless beauty in the cell-shaded waters. And how could they not? With so many bold colors on display, and such a characteristic style, it's hard to deny Wind Waker's charm. Pair that with some great explorin' music, and you've got a world you could stay in and explore for hours.



Ultimately what defines the Great Sea for me is the feeling of going on a grand adventure. That moment when you first hoist the sail and speed off into the great unknown was really powerful to me. There's an expansive world in front of you. Adventure is everywhere, and you can go anywhere you want to go. You can meet the bird-people of Dragonroost Island, help out the little plant-guys at the Forest Haven, chill on Windfall Island, raid a pirate's fort, find the Great Fairies of the winds, sail straight into the eye of the storm, explore the edges of the world, or just sail around a bit doing nothing in particular.

It's all good, and it all feels like adventure. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure why that is. I mean, lots of games give you the option of exploring all of the world right from the start. The Elder Scrolls series is almost built around the concept. And yet those games don't quite capture the same sense of adventure that Wind Waker invokes in me. Maybe it's just the ship. Maybe having the King of Red Lions at your disposal, taking you anywhere you want to go, is just inherently liberating somehow. Maybe being able to see all the little islands in the distance gives you more of goal, like you always know where the places of interest are in the world.

Whatever it may be, I would gladly sell sea shells by the cell-shaded sea of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.  

- Favorite thing 'over there': the Tower of the Gods, which you can see from almost anywhere on the map.

- Favorite song to explore by: Ocean theme
Come on, this one was obvious. The Ocean theme is such a big part of the experience of exploring the Great Sea to me, there's no way I could choose something else.



"The entire ocean. Wherever we want to go, we'll go. That's what a ship is, you know. It's not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that's what a ship needs. But what a ship is... what it really is... is freedom."
- Captain Jack Sparrow.  

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3:15 PM on 03.23.2015

Shade's Frozenbyte Contests, Week #4: Trine Complete Pack



It's been over three weeks now since this was announced. I'm kinda running out of things to write about it at this point but basically HYPE!

Trine 3 is happening! This year even!


Man, I can't even tell you how excited I am. The Trine series is one of my favorites of all time. As far as indie games go they're incredibly high on my list and they even hold up to a lot of my favorite 'AAA games'.

So in honor of this momentous occassion, I'm going to give a bunch of Trine-related stuff away over the next couple of weeks.

Here's how it's going down. Over a period of five weeks, I'm going to give increasingly great gifts away, as follows:
Week #1: Trine Enchanted Edition
Week #2: Shadowgrounds and Shadowgrounds: Survivor
Week #3: Trine 2: Complete Story
- WINNER: Zer0t0nin
Not to be outdone by Gajknight's magic sperm, Zer0t0nin claimed that farts might be the answer to the Knight's flying trick. Having just finished South Park: The Stick of Truth, I am well aware of the great power of farts.

Week #4: Trine Complete Pack (= Trine Enchanted Edition, Trine 2: Complete Story)
Week #5: Frozenbyte Pack (= Trine Enchanted Edition, Trine 2: Complete Story, Shadowgrounds, Shadowgrounds: Survivor)
Week #?: Trine 3 (this contest will be put up the week of Trine 3's release)

The rules are very simple. Each week I'm going to ask you to answer a Trine-related question.
The funniest, most thoughtful, or most original answer wins! You guys know how I think by now, so give me something I'll enjoy and the games could be yours!
I will also allow, nay encourage, entering for a game you already own provided you have someone in mind to give it to. Same goes for entering in multiple weeks. So the winner of Week #1 is still eligible to participate in the following weeks, even in Week #4 and 5, but you're going to have to impress me. 

Outside of answering the contest question, there is only one condition: no freeloaders.
I'm giving these games away out of love for Frozenbyte and the Dtoid community, so the very least you could do is be part of the Dtoid community. That goes double for Week #?. Don't worry too much though, if you're a regular around here I'll probably know you. I made a list of 99 Dtoiders off the top of my head, I'm pretty sure I'll manage. 

And with that out of the way, this week we're moving on to the big leagues. This week you can win all of Trine all the time, with the Trine Complete Pack!



So what's this exactly? Well that should be obvious. It's a pack that includes both the original Trine and Trine 2!

Remember a couple of weeks ago, when I convinced the world that the original Trine was super fun? Yeah you do. This game's got tons going for it. From interesting Lost Vikings-esque puzzle gameplay to an amazing art direction to some gorgeous music, the original Trine is the king of indie games.

At least it was, until Trine 2 blew it out of the water. If you had paid attention last week you would've known that I talked about the sequel at some length. I talked about how it improved upon the puzzles of the first one, how it gave the characters more skills to play around with, how the graphics got even better and benefitted from an even better art direction, and how the music became more gorgeouser than it ever was.

Honestly, there's no good excuse not to want these game. Remember, you can win both of them! That's a solid 20 hours of gameplay if you're a completionist, and all for about a minute's worth of work. Ain't no lottery gonna beat that, son. Also remember that if you already own one of both of these games, you can always still enter for a friend. Is your best friend's birthday coming up but you don't know what to give him? Give him the gift of Trine! That girl you've got a crush on isn't noticing you, senpai? Send some Trine her away and watch the magic happen! And, like, talk to her for god's sake.


- Pictured: What a girl wants.

So, are you pining for some Trine? If so, here is the question I need you to answer to win this great game:

If you had to share the same body with two other people, who would you want them to be?

Remember, give me the funniest, most creative thing you can think of, and by this time next week you could celebrating your best friend's birthday with your crush.
Or, you know, play some Trine 1 and 2.

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1:26 PM on 03.16.2015

Shade's Frozenbyte Contests, Week #3: Trine 2 Complete Story



It's been over two weeks now since this was announced. But you know me; once you tell me an indie game with great art direction, great music and fun mechanics is coming out, I won't stop talking about it for ages!

Trine 3 is happening! This year even!


Man, I can't even tell you how excited I am. The Trine series is one of my favorites of all time. As far as indie games go they're incredibly high on my list and they even hold up to a lot of my favorite 'AAA games'.

So in honor of this momentous occassion, I'm going to give a bunch of Trine-related stuff away over the next couple of weeks.

Here's how it's going down. Over a period of five weeks, I'm going to give increasingly great gifts away, as follows:
Week #1: Trine Enchanted Edition
Week #2: Shadowgrounds and Shadowgrounds: Survivor
- WINNER: Gajknight
If my town ever gets overrun with Aliens, I'll know exactly who to turn to. With the power of existential questions (and fire) Gajknight will show those ugly basterds what for.

Week #3
: Trine 2: Complete Story
Week #4: Trine Complete Pack (= Trine Enchanted Edition, Trine 2: Complete Story)
Week #5: Frozenbyte Pack (= Trine Enchanted Edition, Trine 2: Complete Story, Shadowgrounds, Shadowgrounds: Survivor)
Week #?: Trine 3 (this contest will be put up the week of Trine 3's release)

The rules are very simple. Each week I'm going to ask you to answer a Trine-related question.
The funniest, most thoughtful, or most original answer wins! You guys know how I think by now, so give me something I'll enjoy and the games could be yours!
I will also allow, nay encourage, entering for a game you already own provided you have someone in mind to give it to. Same goes for entering in multiple weeks. So the winner of Week #1 is still eligible to participate in the following weeks, even in Week #4 and 5, but you're going to have to impress me. 

Outside of answering the contest question, there is only one condition: no freeloaders.
I'm giving these games away out of love for Frozenbyte and the Dtoid community, so the very least you could do is be part of the Dtoid community. That goes double for Week #?. Don't worry too much though, if you're a regular around here I'll probably know you. I made a list of 99 Dtoiders off the top of my head, I'm pretty sure I'll manage. 

And with that out of the way, this week we've got Trine 2 Complete Story. This includes all DLC levels, a bunch of new achievements and more! 



Now, what can I really say about Trine 2?

Well for starters, I would like to put out there that Trine 2 is better than the original in every way. Frozenbyte took the incredibly solid foundation of their original hit and just added loads of cool stuff to it.

For example, the puzzles in Trine 2 are way more intricate. If there was ever downside to Trine 1 it's that many puzzles could be beaten by throwing a bunch of boxes at the problem. The Knight was hardly ever useful. Not Trine 2 though. This game mixes up the puzzles a lot more, so that you might actually have to think about things sometimes. Apart from that, it gave all three characters new abilities to play with, each more useful than the last. The Wizard can now trap enemies in boxes so that he's not totally defenseless anymore. The Knight gained increased mobility, so that he doesn't suck at platforming anymore. The Thief gained the best upgrade of all, since she's now ability to shoot arrows that release a large anti-gravity bubble wherever they hit.

Apart from the gameplay, Frozenbyte took care to make the enemies more varied this time around, including tossing some more bosses into the mix. This has the added benefit of giving us more boss music, which is a welcome bit of variety inbetween the more mellow tunes of Trine 1.

Speaking of music, Ari Pulkkinen really outdid himself on this game. Some of my favorite game music ever is on this score, such as the hauntingly beautiful "The Lost Court of Mushroom Caves".
Finally, this wouldn't be a Trine recommendation if I didn't mention the graphics. Good lord, Trine 2 might very well be the most gorgeous game I've ever seen. From snowy castles to lush forests to searing hot deserts to the insides of a Sarlacc, it's all here and all amazing. You could literally take a screenshot at any random moment of playing Trine 2, and you've got yourself an incredible wallpaper. Allow me to demonstrate.



So yeah, Trine 2 is well worth your time. And it has online co-op now! So if whoever wins this wants to have a go with me, I'm all for it!

Here is the question I need you to answer to win this great game:

In Trine 2, the Knight gained a new ability, namely:



If you can't tell, that's a fat guy in full medieval armor, and he's gliding through the air using his (metal!) shield as a sail.

How the fuck does that even work?

Remember, give me the funniest, most creative thing you can think of, and by this time next week you could be breaking the laws of physics in all the best ways, while feasting your eyes on things like this:

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6:47 PM on 03.14.2015

Play Nintendo Multiplayer with Dtoid: Launching Nintendoid!



Nintendoid does what Nintendon't.

Hey, you! Yes, you.

Are you tired of playing Smash Bros. by your lonesome?

Are you tired of having nobody to hunt monsters with?

Are you tired of seeing that your friends are online, but having no way to contact them?

Are you tired of waiting around in an empty lobby, praying that your friends notice you?

Are you tired of not being able to shout at your friend for hitting you with a Blue Shell?

Well worry no more, because we've got the solution!
With this one simple trick you can improve your matchmaking instantly! Doctors hate this clever 23-year-old, who discovered a revolutionary new online multiplayer technique! 
Click here to find out how!



So, what is this about?

Basically, all of this arose out of my frustration with Nintendo's online functionality. We have amazing games like Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros. to play online, and the netcode generally holds up very well. But Nintendo wouldn't be Nintendo if they didn't manage to fuck something up. In their infinite wisdom, they decided that you should not be able to send in-game messages to your friends, that you should not be allowed to invite your friends to join your game, that you should not be allowed to instantly join a friend's game, and that you should not be allowed to have voice-chat during gameplay.

All of the above makes it waaaaay more difficult than it should be to play these games with your Destructoid buddies. And I don't know how it is for you guys, but I for one don't have any IRL friends who own a WiiU or 3DS, so if I can't get the online to work with 'toiders I've got nothing. Pair that with living in a different timezone from most of you, and at the end of the day I'm often stuck playing against CPUs or strangers. I wouldn't be surprised if many of you faced the same issue. And what with games like Splatoon on the horizon, I feel like we should get things into shape but soon.

That's why I'm launching a new initiative, hopefully to make things a bit easier for everyone.
Introducing: Nintendoid



Here's how this works.
Nintendoid is the name I gave the Google Group I just set up. Yes, I decided to hijack the name frontpage grumpyfaces have been using to deride Destructoid for all its Amiibo posts. Poetic justice or something like that.

All a Google Group really is, is a mailing list. You sign up for the group, and then you will be allowed to post messages. Those messages will be e-mailed to every other member in the group, who can then respond (alternatively you can respond directly through your e-mail client). This means that as long as a member of the group checks his e-mail after you posted your "Hey, come join me!" on Nintendoid, they'll know you're available. Provided you keep an eye on your e-mail too, it should be easy enough to set up the match and have at it.
Be sure to check your e-mail or the Group regularly when you're online, or you might miss out!

It's definitely not foolproof though, so whenever you have a steady online buddy I recommend moving planning and chat to a more direct instant messaging service. Plus, I advise using Skype for in-game chatting (so please don't clog up everyone's mailbox with "gg man"), but depending on your internet connection I could see Skype calls interfering with some of the more intensive games. Still, you can use this group for invites, match-making, basically everything to avoid seeing your friends play Smash Bros. but having no way to join in.
You can use it for the Friday Night Fights, or you can just post a shout-out whenever you happen to be online.

Long story short, the idea is this:
- The Nintendoid Group has a list of games on Nintendo systems that have (worthwhile) online multiplayer, plus a thread for 3DS Friend Codes and WiiU NNIDs.
- Whenever you want to play one of these games with you favorite Destructoid friends, just post a shout-out in the right thread. Then all members will get an e-mail letting them know what's up. Hopefully at least some of them will have time to join you real quick!
- Or if you have someone specific in mind, you can check their e-mail address and send it to them directly. Or, exchange contact info and get something going that way.
Pro-tip: set up your e-mail client so that it sends Nintendoid e-mails to a seperate folder. Makes it easier to keep track of, and it won't clutter your inbox.

Now that's all well and good, but there is one more thing we need to make Nintendoid work.



You know it!

Nintendoid will only work if we have a sizable number of people, so be sure to sign up!
Just click this link to apply for the group. Leave your Destructoid username so I know who you are, and I'll add you in a jiffy. Be sure to invite any Dtoiders who may not be aware of it yet as well. Even if they only have Mario Kart or whatever, as long as they want to play it's alright in my book. The more the merrier, right?!
The more members Nintendoid has, the better your odds that someone will see your post and jump online.

So get on that! Or alternatively, leave questions and suggestions so we can make the whole process even easier. Because if Nintendo won't, Nintendoid will.
Have fun, and hopefully I'll get to show you my Rosalina on the tracks, or my Luigi on the battlefield!

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1:13 PM on 03.09.2015

Shade's Frozenbyte Contests, Week #2: Shadowgrounds series

 



It's been over a week now since this was announced, but holy hell am I still excited. All of the excitement, right in my pants.

Trine 3 is happening! This year even!


Man, I can't even tell you how excited I am. The Trine series is one of my favorites of all time. As far as indie games go they're incredibly high on my list and they even hold up to a lot of my favorite 'AAA games'.

So in honor of this momentous occassion, I'm going to give a bunch of Trine-related stuff away over the next couple of weeks. I'm not gonna lie, it helps that these games are all on sale at the moment. But still!

Here's how it's going down. Over a period of five weeks, I'm going to give increasingly great gifts away, as follows:
Week #1: Trine Enchanted Edition
-
WINNER: RenaudB90
Congrats my lovely French-speaking Spider-man, your comment on sticking a shiv in your problems while wooing the ladies with leather gear tickled my funny bone.
  
Week #2: Shadowgrounds and Shadowgrounds: Survivor
Week #3: Trine 2: Complete Story
Week #4: Trine Complete Pack (= Trine Enchanted Edition, Trine 2: Complete Story)
Week #5: Frozenbyte Pack (= Trine Enchanted Edition, Trine 2: Complete Story, Shadowgrounds, Shadowgrounds: Survivor)
Week #?: Trine 3 (this contest will be put up the week of Trine 3's release)

The rules are very simple. Each week I'm going to ask you to answer a Trine-related question. Except today, when it's a Shadowgrounds-related question.

The funniest, most thoughtful, or most original answer wins! You guys know how I think by now, so give me something I'll enjoy and the games could be yours!
I will also allow, nay encourage, entering for a game you already own provided you have someone in mind to give it to. Same goes for entering in multiple weeks. So the winner of Week #1 is still eligible to participate in the following weeks, even in Week #4 and 5, but you're going to have to impress me. 

Outside of answering the contest question, there is only one condition: no freeloaders.
I'm giving these games away out of love for Frozenbyte and the Dtoid community, so the very least you could do is be part of the Dtoid community. That goes double for Week #?. Don't worry too much though, if you're a regular around here I'll probably know you. I made a list of 99 Dtoiders off the top of my head, I'm pretty sure I'll manage. 

And with that out of the way, this week we've got Shadowgrounds and Shadowgrounds: Survivor.


While Trine is pretty well known around these parts, you would be forgiven for not knowing anything about Shadowgrounds. So why would you want to win it, right? Let me give you a quick rundown on what this game is about. It's a huge shame that people are missing out on this little diamond in the rough.

Shadowgrounds is one of the best top-down twin-stick shooters I've ever played. It's also one of the better Aliens games (that isn't actually an Aliens game). This game puts you as a former soldier on an alien planet, trying to escape as xenomorphs-in-everything-but-name swarm your base. What's interesting is that Shadowgrounds takes a more serious approach than most top-down shooters would. The game actually takes the time to build atmosphere, has the graphics to pull it off (in particular it has a great lighting engine), has a plot albeit not a particularly good one, and it treats the aliens as a legitimate threat rather than cannon fodder. It's a cool take on the genre that worked really well for me.

Of course, being more serious doesn't mean the game isn't still fun. At the end of the day you're still going around the base shooting the shit out of a bunch of aliens. You get shotguns, flamethrowers, all the good stuff. You also get to upgrade your weapons as the game goes on, so you might end up with a ricocheting sniper rifle or exploding shotgun shells. The game will also throw huge bosses at you during regular intervals to mix things up, and they'll provide ample opportunity to take your upgraded flamethrower for a spin. 

Last but not least, you know I can't bring myself to skip the music.
The music here was one of the first game projects the incredible Ari Pulkkinen ever did, before he hit it big with Trine. However, despite sharing the same composer, the music in Shadowgrounds couldn't be further removed from Trine if it tried. Expect guitars, quality riffs and general epicness here. You're going to be kicking alien ass, and the music will let you know it! Fun fact about the music: the guitarist who performed on the Shadowgrounds soundtrack is none other than Amen, lead guitarist of the Heavy Metal/Hard Rock band Lordi. I've talked before about how Lordi is my favorite band ever, so seeing their little touches in this game is super neat! 

- For example, the title of this song references an early Lordi song: 'Pet the Destroyer'.

Basically, if you're a fan of twin-stick shooters, Aliens, or kickin' rad tunes, you should check out the Shadowgrounds series. I personally like the original much better than Survivor, but both are worth playing. And that's why you should enter this week's contest!

Well, now that we've got that cleared up, let's start Week #2, for Shadowgrounds and Shadowgrounds: Survivor.
Here is the question:

Your town just got swarmed by Xenomorph-like aliens. What do you do?

Remember, give me the funniest, most creative thing you can think of, and by this time next week you could be jamming out to Amen's guitar. And play two cool games I suppose.


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10:55 AM on 03.07.2015

Bbain’s Jukebox, Shade-Style: Credits music



Some time ago, before bbain went Super Saiyan, there was a jukebox. And in this jukebox, there was music. Great music. Music from a wide range of different themes. Everything from music inspired by westerns to the music that plays during a final boss fight could be found in this jukebox. All from video games, and all collected here on the Destructoid Cblogs. But now the artist formerly known as bbain has bigger and better things to do, and the jukebox stands silent. It waits patiently, longing for the day when it can once again assault your ears with sweetness.

I say, no more. The show must go on, the jukebox must play. And I’m just the man marsupial absence of light to do it. So let me get my quarters, and let’s see what this baby’s got.


Credit where it is due

It may seem like a strange choice, but I’m going to start my take on bbain’s series at the very end. I want to take a look at what is usually the most underrated piece of music of a game. Namely, the Credits theme.

I’ve mentioned before how the Credits theme is actually the sexiest piece of music out of the entire game. But be honest with me, how often have you taken note of the credits music? I'm willing to bet it's not going to be a lot. I can’t blame you either. We lead busy lives, and we play video games for fun. Watching a list of names scroll by usually isn’t fun, so we either zone out, go to the bathroom, or skip the whole thing altogether. And most games let you; at least from the second playthrough onwards very few games make you sit through the entire thing, or they take careful note to distract you in all sorts of ways. But take it from your pal Shade, you're missing out.

Contrary to popular belief, video game credits can be worthwhile. In particular, the music tends to be fantastic. It's easy to see why: the story is resolved, there are no hardships left. The bad guy is dead, and peace returns. All that’s left is celebration. And that’s exactly what the credits theme tends to convey. It's the composer putting in their best efforts to give you a round of applause through music. It's your victory lap, and it should make you feel happy that you managed to beat what hopefully was a great game. In short, there’s no reason not to love the Credits Theme. But because credits are so often skipped or forgotten, the Credits Theme never quite gets the love it deserves.

Below, I'm going to take the first steps to remedy that injustice. Here are some of my favorite Credits Themes in video games.

"End" - Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies


I chose to start with this one, because if perfectly embodies what I'm talking about here. Just listen to that saxophone, this is like the chillest music ever. You've captured all the murderers, so now it's time to sit back and relax. Take special note of the part from 4:00 and 4:30 onwards, where the already chill song becomes even chiller.
Also compare Ghost Trick (beware, spoilers), which captures much the same feel. And for more saxophone goodness, don't forget to check out Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze!

"ENDING - To Each Future" - Pokémon Black & White


In contrast to Ace Attorney above which went with a chill theme to bid you farewell, the composer for these Pokémon credits went the 'epic' route. Rather than letting you sit back and relax, what this music seems to be saying is "My god, you're so awesome for beating Ghetsis!"

If I had to choose a favorite out of all Credits themes, chances are this would be it. This was also the first Credits theme that really jumped out at me as being amazing, and it was the one that got me to pay more attention to these songs. Fortunately, it seems like I'm not alone. Everywhere I go people online seem to agree that the Credits theme of Pokémon Black & White is something else. And it's not just us: even Nintendo recognizes how great this theme is, as they incorporated it in N’s Castle Medley in the new Smash Bros. When your Credits Theme makes it into Smash Bros., you know you’ve won at composing.

"Want you gone" - Portal 2


Whaaaat? No "Still Alive"? 
Nope, no Still Alive. Don't get me wrong, that's a good song too. I just think it has been done to death by now. Don't even try to deny it. At the other end of the spectrum though, it seems like "Want you gone" never quite got the recognition it deserves. There's a lot to this song, actually. On the one hand the melody is about as happy as you would expect from a credits song. On the other hand, the lyrics here very dark. I also find it interesting how Valve decided to spell out Glados' origin story in a song of all things. It works really well for me at least. And as always, the Ellen McClain/Jonathan Coulton team nails it.

"Popular Potpourri" - VVVVVV


We've had Ace Attorney with chill, Pokémon with cool, Portal with...something, and now we have VVVVVV with yet another different direction. This one is just all celebration. This is some of the happiest music I've ever heard. It makes you want to dance like a moron and embarrass yourself without a care in the world. Party hard, my 8-bit friends.
In the same vein, here is the massively underrated Wario Land: Shake It!

"Credits" - Metroid Prime
"Credits" - Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
"Credits" - Metroid Prime 3: Corruption



Sure, not the most original titles there on Retro Studio's part. This is actually a common theme for many Credits themes; it's usually a variation of "Ending", "Credits" or sometimes "Staff Roll". Perhaps that's part of the reason they're so overlooked?

At any rate, there's just something about Metroid Prime's credits. On the one hand they're as celebratory as one would hope, but there's something ominous beneath the surface too. Something that tells you the story isn't quite over yet, and many hardships still lie ahead. Corruption's theme is probably the one with the best sense of closure, which is only fitting considering that's where the Prime series finally ended.

Metroid Prime 1's Credits theme also takes the honor of being the first one to make the jump into Smash Bros, even before Pokémon.

If you're looking for something a bit like these Metroid Prime songs, try Shin Megami Tensei IV.


And that’s it! I hope I gave all of you a new appreciation for the all-too-common staff roll. As we have seen, there are many ways to make Credits themes memorable. Be it chill, happy, cool, mysterious or just plain weird, there's a lot of good stuff out there accompanying the names of our favorite dev peoples. So next time, hold off on hitting that skip button for a while.

I’d say we’re done here. Although not really, because there are many, many, more that I didn't have room for. Who could forget Final Fantasy VI, Super Mario World, Metal Gear Solid, Wind Waker, and so many others? And surely there are even more I haven't even heard yet. So sound of in the comments, which credits themes bring the most...credit..to their composers? Which are best of the best?

I'd love to hear it. But for now:

Show’s over folks, roll credits.
And not just any credits. Let’s roll the BEST credits:

"End Credits Theme" - God Hand


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6:47 AM on 03.04.2015

Ooh, what’s over there?! #1: Battling behemoths, frozen forever

What with Strider specifically asking me to blog more often, I felt like it was time to get off my lazy butt and start getting back in the game. Do I even have the time for this? Good lord no, but I’m doing it anyway. In fact, this blog is the test run of what I hope I can turn into a series over the course of the year! Usually I only blogged when something new and exciting came up, but I’d like to try my hand at a more steady stream of laidback blogs. Will this work? Probably no; only time will tell. So what’s this all going to be about? Well, it’s about the thing I love most about videogames. I don’t solely play videogames for this one reason, but it’s definitely the big one.

Ladies and gentlemen, I like exploration. No, I love exploration.
Exploration across prairies, in streets, in trenches, in grasslands, in frozen tundras, through deserts, on the sea, in the air, I love every act of exploration that can occur upon this earth.



Violence can be fun, and so can strategizing. In fact, videogames are fun in many ways. But to me, nothing beats the feeling of being transported to a new world with all sorts of amazing new things to see and do. The feeling of looking to an unfamiliar horizon and going “Ooh, I wonder what's over there?” before heading off in that general direction and no doubt being distracted by something cool halfway there. The feeling of seeing a tower off in the distance and wondering whether you can climb it. The feeling of checking to see whether there is an edge to the sea or not.

It's that feeling this series is devoted to. But don’t think that I'm restricting myself to big open-world sandbox games here. A well-made 2D Platformer can give you much the same feeling, and cleverly hidden secrets can give you just as much incentive to explore as any far-off castle. It's all fair game, as long as you make me want to explore every nook and cranny of your world, and you’ll let me. Invisible walls will earn you a slap in the face, but may not be unforgivable if you have something to make up for them.

Today, let’s explore the world of Xenoblade Chronicles.



It was kind of inevitable that Xenoblade would be the first entry in the series. It is far and away my favorite world in all of gaming. Besides, that Japanese Nintendo Direct on Xenoblade Chronicles X from a few weeks ago has me mad hype for the series again. Not like I ever quit being mad hype, but still.

The first thing you would notice when you're off to start exploring the world of Xenoblade is that it's a fundamentally different world from anything you’ve ever seen. It's not round like Earth, it's not flat like Earth before Jesus was born, or anything in between. It's actually made up entirely of the bodies of two giants locked in combat. One is the biological Bionis, and the other is the mechanical Mechonis. And that’s when you know; you're going to want to see all of it. I remember when Xenoblade was first announced, this premise alone completely sold me on this game. I mean, how is walking around on giant fighting gargantuans not the coolest thing you’ve ever heard? Hell, you even get to explore their insides, and walk across their swords! But premise alone only gets you so far. You still need to deliver on your promise to make me want to see all that your world has to offer. Did Xenoblade do that? Why of course it did, silly!

My favorite thing about the world of Xenoblade is that even on the underpowered Wii, every single area looks gorgeous. This game is the shining example that good art direction beats good graphics any day of the week. From the first steps you take all the way until the last, there will be something to gaze at. Sometimes it's a huge landscape, sometimes it's a beautiful waterfall, and sometimes you have an amazing view of the opposing giant. It tends to get even better at night. Remember how in James Cameron’s Avatar the bioluminescence was far and away the best thing about the entire movie? Well Monolith Soft took that idea and ran with it. When you first enter the Satorl Marsh, it seems like a drab, uninteresting place. Nobody likes a swamp, it’s like nature’s sewer level. But then night falls, and that’s when the lights go on:



Apart from that, the areas are amazingly huge. Come to think of it, much like in America most things in Xenoblade are big. The cities, the lakes, the animals, everything provides a very distinct sense of scale and awe. As a result, more so than in most other games, Xenoblade makes you feel like you’re exploring a connected world. Nature is very much on the forefront when you’re walking around on the Bionis. In fact, watching gigantic creatures walk by in the distance is one of the main attractions of the entire game! Now your first instinct might be to run up to them for a fight. But no, you’ll quickly find out that these guys are way out of your league. They’re not here for you to kill (yet). They’re here for you to gaze at, to bring the world to life.

Another thing that I really love is how all of the areas you visit make sense in some peculiar way. For example, the snowy mountain range Valak is located on the Bionis’ chest. Thing is, the Bionis usually faces away from the sun, so his chest is almost always shielded from the heat. Ergo, snow. At the other end of the spectrum, we’ve got a lush rainforest on his back, which is where the sun does get to. Most of the areas you visit have a similar quality, so that if you think about it there’s some logic behind it. It’s only some logic, mind you, but it’s still a nice little detail.

Unfortunately, Xenoblade never lets you explore the giants’ private parts, but my educated guess is that you’d find a big forest with an impressive tower in the middle. Possibly an oddly-shaped canyon if the Bionis turns out to be female. 


- Possibly something like this if she’s incredibly horny.

But all of the above is just nature. To be fair, the nature is easily the best, most beautiful part of Xenoblade. However, there’s more to a world than nature. Who live here, and are they worth meeting?

There are a couple of races in this game, three biological and one mechanical.
- First on bio's, there are the Homs. Humans, really. They live in settlements (Colonies) on the middle to lower part of the Bionis, say from about the lower back down to the feet. Their settlements tend to be pretty large and self-sufficient, so for a large part they keep to their own.

- Next, there are the Nopon, who are small round furry creatures with an extra set of prehensile arm-
like appendages. They live in a giant tree in Makna Forest, but a lot of them are the traveling sort. At the end of the day, you’ll find Nopon everywhere. They’re energetic little bastards, but they can still be quite a force to be reckoned with once they get serious.

- The last of the Bio’s are the High Entia. They function a little like Elves usually would, in that they are more developed and more ‘cultured’ than the other races. They look much like humans, except that they have wings growing out of their heads. Pure-breed High Entia have big airworthy wings, while half-breeds have to make do with smaller Asterix-style ones. They live in a great city all the way at the head of the Bionis, on a floating island above the Eryth Sea. It’s sight to behold.

- As for the robot dudes, they are the only mechanical race in the game. They're the Mechon, and they may or may not all be evil. For all intents and purposes they function just like humans, but they're a lot more durable. Practically all of them live on the Mechonis, so it will take you a little while before you get to meet them. They're well worth talking too though, and some of them give you some very important information over the course of the game.


By this time, you might have noticed how many different locales I already mentioned. Well, there's an very good reason for that.

If there's one thing that the world of Xenoblade has, it's variety. When you just start out the game you'd be forgiven for thinking that all you're going to be seeing is large grassy plains. Well you couldn't be more wrong, and before you know it you'll be exploring all sorts of different locales, each prettier than the last.

You'll come across snowy mountain ranges, rocky valleys, incredible seas, lush forests, floating prisons, robotic bases, sprawling cities, and so much more. And again, most of the areas change dramatically at night, so it's almost like exploring every area twice. If I could decorate my room with just art from every seperate Xenoblade area, you bet your ass I would.  



That, ladies and gentlemen, is what's over there in the world of Xenoblade Chronicles. It is one of the most imaginative worlds I have ever seen, and pretty to boot. It's a gigantic world that I nonetheless devoted hours to scour every inch of. It's a world I wouldn't mind living in, and a world I would pay mad cash for to ever visit.
In a world of Battling Behemoths Frozen Forever, exploration is king.

To round off these posts off, I'm going to pick two 'favorites' from the world I'm talking about. Here they are for Xenoblade:
- Favorite thing ‘over there’: the fallen hand of the Mechonis that was cut off during the battle. It actually houses a town of its own, as well as a lovely beach.

- Favorite song to explore by: Gaur Plains

Man, I so need to revisit this game now. The wait for X is killing me.

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